No such thing as a social contract with evil

The tragedy of the Holocaust happened in large part because a whole people thought they had a social contract with their governments. Depending on the country, Jews expected their governments to mistreat them little or much but always within some degree of reason. Losing a few fellow villagers to periodic pogroms or being denied promotions in government employment was the price they paid for lack of better options. And then they ran into a government that ignored any prior social contract and simply murdered everyone they could reach.

That behavior wasn’t rational, but it did occur. Eventually, enough people figured out what was happening and tried their best to fight back. Those efforts were seldom sufficient — by that time, the European Jewish population was much too far behind the power curve.

All this is ancient history, the many less publicized massacres since then notwithstanding. There’s almost no religious, ethnic, social or gender group that hasn’t been murdered en masse somewhere around the world in the last hundred years. Mere involuntary membership was enough to expose the members of those groups to mistreatment. But what about present day in America?

Those who say that it’s not worth risking your life to resist a mugging are assuming rational self-interest on the part of the muggers and, as a result of that self-interest, an implied social contract between criminals and their victims. The supposed contract requires turning over money and valuables in exchange for safety from harm. As the occasional case of torture and murder illustrates, that social contract is an illusion.

Mugger whose first actions demonstrate willingness to harm the victims aren’t necessarily acting out parts of a plan. Forethought being less developed among criminals and compassion often lacking outright, they do whatever seems like a good idea at the time. The concept of considering future events, either deferred gratification or deferred punishment, isn’t very prominent with violent criminals. So their actions are often motivated by present appetites, and the promises made to the victims just seconds earlier don’t count. The sole limiting factor becomes their physical ability of perpetrating an action, which is why so much of the criminal violence is gratuitous. Any concessions made to such rogue actors early in the interaction put the victims at a greater disadvantage as the criminals escalate their transgressions.

In the end, the difference between a mugger and a Nazi concentration camp commander is the scale, not the mindset. And the correct way to deal with them is to evade or to fight. Cooperation puts the good guys in worse position with every single step. There’s no waiting for a better opportunity, as the freedom of action slips away precipitously. Evasion of an ambush is often possible with adequate situational awareness. Often the situation that can be escaped by a single healthy young adult cannot be escaped by an older person burdened by dependents or a disability. In that case, the best bet is to fight through the ambush no matter how daunting the expected immediate cost. The deferred cost will always be higher and all too often is the life itself.

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9 Responses to No such thing as a social contract with evil

  1. FrankH says:

    Excellent points. Always good to read you opinions Oleg and this is of course so much more relevant for us, with the levels of violent crime we experience in our country.
    Our idiotic government is still doing its best to restrict firearms in law abiding citizens hands.

    Best regards

  2. Richard says:

    As always, your skill with words is on par with your incredible skill of photography!!

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  4. staghounds says:

    “so much of the criminal violence is gratuitous”

    No it isn’t.

    The violence is the POINT!

    Seriously, crimes against ordinary victims are incredibly poor ways to get very small amounts of money.

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  6. milquetoast says:

    I think using a historical photo from a concentration camp on the right (like <a href=""this one) would be even more effective.

    A photo of the appalling reality is a direct reminder that it really happened and a reminder of the scale.

  7. geekWithA.45 says:

    Never give evil an undeserved advantage.
    Evil never deserves any advantage.

  8. Pingback: Just Give Them What They Want « BornLib's Blog

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