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Tag: authority

I first published this letter to civil servants everywhere on 29 January, 2017. In light of recent events — Black Lives Matter and the Stupid Fucking Virus™ — it seems timely to republish it because its more relevant than ever. Dear civil servants everywhere (but especially in America), You have an important job to do. And it is more important than ever. Your job is to speak up and out about things that happen in the government organisations in which you work that you know are not right, or are criminal, or even downright psychopathic. I know that you worry

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Waaaaaaay back in the 1960s and 1970s, before university ethics committees stamped out these sorts of experiments, two researchers wanted to know more about how human beings reacted to authority, and how positional power impacted relationships. Stanley Milgram, a researcher at Yale, was interested in how Nazi Germany came to be, particularly the horrific and tragic treatment of Jews during this time. He wanted to understand how normal, decent people could be involved with or tolerate or turn a blind eye to state sanctioned cruelty (even psychopathy) of an appalling scale. He was interested in what part authority and obedience to authority,

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