Group Evil: How villainy hides itself in institutional thinking

I was born in 1968, just a few months after Task Force Barker moved into the villages of MyLai in Vietnam and killed roughly six hundred women, children and old men looking for Vietcong soldiers who had been harassing the American military for many months culminating in booby trapping the paths to their latrines.  American soldiers couldn’t even use the rest room without worrying about having their legs blown off.  A deep hatred developed through that psychological warfare which erupted in that period of time into mass murder and a complete insurrection of American culture.  It was just a few days before I was born that Martin Luther King was assassinated.  When the Kent State Massacre happened on May 4th 1970 I was two years old and watched intently the news and I remember it quite distinctly, Twenty-nine guardsmen fired into a bunch of hippie student protesters killing four of them and wounding nine others–in some cases terribly.  I did in fact remember the moon landing the year before as my mother sat me in front of the television as a one year old and told me that what I was watching was important.  For whatever reason I remembered things right after birth and I always had the feeling that God had sent me to earth to fight this terrible evil which was erupting around the world—and that evil has chased me around all my life.  But it never found a way to settle into any part of me.  It was clearly in people around me whom I cared about, but it never found its way into me. The only way I was able to combat it was with a remarkable clarity of opinion which I was literally born with.  I didn’t need to be taught to stand against evil; I just always have as if it were preprogrammed into me before birth—as if it were my job to help people deal with evil and to remove it from their lives by my help and influence.  Now as a man of nearly 50 years I have developed an extensive vocabulary to explain these phenomena and as I observed the events of July 4th 2017 I think it’s time to start a serious discussion about the nature of evil starting with group assimilations—because to me that is the worst way that evil moves through our society.  I’ve spent a lot of time over the years talking about the effects of group evil, but have avoided getting into the details because honestly, people just weren’t ready for it.  But now perhaps they are.  The Trump White House has created a unique opportunity to go further down the Rabbit Hole of thought so let’s go.

It was never their fault but I’ve never felt compelled to honor a soldier from the military or to yield my sovereignty to a police officer.  I understand the necessity of their roles in life, but I instinctually did not like them because they were simply members of “group think.” I don’t like fraternities; I don’t like 4-H Clubs.  I don’t like Boy Scouts, organized sports, even home owners organizations.  I don’t even like corporate structures of companies.  I only like them when I’m in charge, not when other people are for obvious reasons.  Yet, throughout my life I have been deeply involved with all these and more with unusually clean thoughts.  I remember a fight I was in at the Van Gordon farm with some school bullies.  I was in a 4-H Club for small engine repair when I was 11 years old.  The kids in that group weren’t going to amount to anything in life and they knew it.  All they had was this little knowledge of engine repair yet I built mine and completed all the tasks with nearly a month to spare before the Butler County Fair so all the kids in my group ganged up on me when the adults were otherwise busy to beat me up—just because I was there—and was smarter than them and kept pretty much to myself.  I had no desire to participate in fart jokes, or to use curse words—so to them I was very weird.  I never did use a curse word until I was 19 years old and decided that they were needed to communicate to lower IQ people just like I couldn’t expect to travel to France and not know a few French words to establish basic communication.  So to those kids—I was peculiar.  I had no desire to be in their group, I showed no pain in being on the outside of their approval process, and as a result I finished my engine much faster than they did and they didn’t like that I was setting a standard which forced them to perform at a higher level.  So they tried to beat me up.  I fought all seven of those kids including the main bully by punching him hard enough in the nose to draw blood.  The rest of the fight I just blocked my face and torso and kept to my feet so they couldn’t get on top of me until the adults came back to the barn to break up the fight.

I had the same experiences in public school obviously and once I learned how to fight properly was easily able to turn the tables on those types of events.  For me it was martial arts and my development of mastering the bull whip.  Once I learned to defend myself it was never a problem to avoid getting beaten up.  The evil which invokes those conflicts essentially doesn’t understand how to deal with free thinking individuals and it doesn’t matter if it’s an entire army of military men or a small group of 4-H slack-jawed losers behind a truck on a farm.  All group evil is motivated by the same things and have the same weaknesses.

To understand group evil just think of your work environment—how you make a living.  All organizations are rooted in institutional thinking where we place our trust in the higher concept of the institution to guide our thoughts.  Essentially this is a lazy way to approach life and evil latches onto it at every opportunity.  For instance, think of the Task Force Barker boys at MyLai who committed terrible evil to so many people.  Well, it wasn’t their fault; they were just following orders—from their “superiors,” right?  And those superiors were just following orders from the Pentagon—right?  And the Pentagon has numerous departments that consider such things and none of them are connected directly to the end evil of a massacre so they can always say—that’s not my decision, I was just following orders.  The Pentagon ultimately would point to the White House and blame the president’s administration.  Then the president will blame the voters and say that he was mandated to act on behalf of them.  Of course the voters never agree on anything in a democracy so they can always say that they didn’t vote for anything that created the evil at MyLai.  And that is how evil hides in virtually every institution from 4-H Clubs to military action.  It’s not so much the individuals involved, it is in the collective lack of personal responsibility that it occurs.  Group associations allow for the mindless spread of evil through institutionalism and that is essentially how it moves through our world.

Groups fail because it takes away the burden of individual responsibility.  If you ever study a group of people they are much more immature when they are together than when you speak to them individually.  A group of women at a bachelorette party are much different together than when you speak to them each individually.  Together in the group they’ll do all kinds of embarrassing things which they would never do if they were alone that provides a contextual definition to why all groups which build institutions fail to fight off the influence of evil.  Evil seeks to hide in collectivism and erode the mandate of the individual by sheer force through various modes of coercion.  That is why all union activity has in it an institutional evil which destroys productive output and individual merit—no matter what it is—from laying bricks to teaching children.  All union activity is inherently evil because of the way that evil takes away personal responsibility from the people in the group and allows them to blame some blob like element within their group associations.

So I don’t mindlessly salute the soldier for their service or the cop for their institutional commitment to use force if ordered to subdue an individual of their merit.  I don’t trust the institutions for which they fight for because evil is at the core of them.  All institutions have within them the drivers of evil by the nature of their psychological impact on the individuals which make up those groups.  The kid that picked a fight with me at the 4-H event was a pretty nice kid as an individual, but put him in a group environment the mob ruled his mandates and he wanted to show off—he wanted to be the leader of the group by challenging someone the group mutually hated—me—because I had no desire to eat with them, talk with them, and I constantly out performed them.

The reason that democracies always fail—100% of the time is that human beings do not want to lead their own lives—most are happy to fall in behind the leadership of the less than 1% of our earthly population.  Behind every evil act is the basic desire to be lazy—and with laziness comes the lack of ability to think.  People in groups don’t want to think for themselves which is why they joined the group in the first place. They want someone to think for them so they can follow along.  Then if something goes wrong, they can say—“I was just following orders.” That is how evil rules our world.  It happens in churches, it happens in governments, and it happens in our jobs. The desire to be led by a leader allows our civilization to never take responsibility for the things it decides to do.  And those who are inclined to be leaders are often not aware of the role they play in mass evil spreading everywhere because they don’t realize that the people following them have actually set them up to be the ultimate scapegoat.  “The People” have no desire to make a decision so they let the leader do it—then when something goes wrong they of course blame the person most responsible—the leader.

Obviously this is a very serious and complicated problem which requires us all to rethink completely how the human race conducts its business.  But “group think” doesn’t work—it is only the soil that breeds evil in the world.  The Kent State Massacre from every angle was the work of evil—it started with the communist loving professors who incited their students to protest Nixon’s Cambodian Campaign.  The American people didn’t care much about MyLai until it was obvious that Nixon wasn’t going to end the draft as he had promised so Americans were getting pulled into the war in Vietnam and were turning against the administration.  You see it was one thing for the kids who made up Task Force Barker to massacre the innocent people of MyLai—they were after all in most cases not the sharpest tacks in the box.  They could be forgiven for their stupidity—until the bright-eyed college kids and would be good kids of society were getting pulled into the fight by over-protective parents.  The parents at the time allowed for those radical communist insurgents to corrupt those young minds at Kent State hoping to passive aggressively put an end to the war because they didn’t want their “little Johnnys” to be drafted and that left the Ohio National Guard to deal with the situation.  Unfortunately, those National Guardsmen were essentially mostly draft dodgers who didn’t want to go to the foreign war themselves so what we had was a lot of people trying to avoid responsibility for something that should have never happened in the first place. Communism was allowed to spread from Russia into China then into Southeast Asia.  Ho Chi Minh would have never turned to communism in North Vietnam if Woodrow Wilson had only listened to him in Versailles, France.  Wilson didn’t have time to listen to the concerns of the soon to be Vietnamese leader who was at the time just a waiter in Paris.  So Ho Chi Minh turned toward the socialism of France then to the wider communism of Russia to help push the French out of Vietnam. After all, Ho Chi Minh only wanted independence from France. America stepped in to help the situation after France failed and thus we got pulled into the war to essentially stop communism which our European “friends” had helped cultivate “innocently.” All these evils were committed because no individual took responsibility for anything and hid the crimes of evil behind the merit of institutionalism—in every case.

As many people speak in concern about president Trump bringing down many of the institutions that have been part of American culture for a long time—this is the kind of evil that he is attacking on our behalf.  While we need a military to keep bad people from attacking us relentlessly, the role in foreign engagements will ultimately shift as economic power becomes the dominate negotiating force—essentially for the first time in American history.  The big picture is quite clear—we now have a person in the White House willing to take personal responsibility for things and the voters who put him in place are also willing to take responsibility for Trump—so there is a purity to what is going on that is truly rooted in goodness for what I think is really the first time.  Responsibility is the key to avoiding evil and to do that we have to get the institutions out-of-the-way that allow individuals to hide behind the leadership of a collective blob.  It is in the name of goodness that we must do this and it is a hard task.  Human beings have been trying to sort this stuff out for their entire existence but now we are at a point where we can actually consider such a thing.  Fighting evil is precisely why the evangelicals picked Trump in spite of his colorful past filled with sin.  Because Trump was willing to lead from the front and to take responsibility for fighting evil—not out of a commitment to a political party or any institutional obligation—but because it was the right thing to do.

Rich Hoffman

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