“The WAVE” (Die Welle German Version) – REACTION
Can individuals be trusted to govern themselves? (the dangers of anarchy/chaos)
Can you trust the state”? (the dangers of “tyranny”)
“POWER CORRUPTS; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. – Lord Acton
“Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?” – Jefferson
“Humanity’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible;
humanity’s capacity for injustice makes democracy necessary” – R. Niebuhr
___1)People are non-conformist “rebels” who are inherently selfish. People are individuals who have a natural pre-disposition to “do their own thing”.
___2)People are natural conformists who require group identity. People naturally seek “community” and a sense of “belonging”.
Unfortunately, people are herd animals, “SHEEP” who need to be led. Left to their own devices, sheep are stupid and self-destructive.
People need (though not necessarily want) some “shepherding” or leadership, for their own and society’s benefit.
___3)Hierarchy is natural. People are different. Human society and government requires order for the benefit of all of society.
Superiority and inferiority are a “fact” of life. The strong dominate the weak. Some are smarter, richer or more popular than others. Denying this is wishful thinking that lacks “reality”..
___4)Egalitarianism is natural. People are more or less equal or similar. The idea that “superiors” are intrinsically “better” or have a “right” to dominate “inferiors” is wrong. We are the same species, more similar than we are different.
___5)People are essentially animals in a constant state of conflict or war with each other.
Incapable of adequately governing themselves, people need a powerful state and ruler to keep them from killing themselves.
“Autocracy” (all power in one self) is natural, providing hierarchy and order to human government and society.
“Superiors” naturally rule over ‘inferiors”, for everybody’s benefit. .
___6)Democracy (power of “the people”) is “natural”
Humans are individuals born free and equal, capable of using our innate “reason” to govern ourselves. People voluntarily make government to serve their best interests., not be servants or slaves to tyrannical government.
Since power corrupts, autocracy almost always leads to “dictatorship”, power needs to be limited to prevent this. (see Niebuhr quote above)
___7)Democracy almost always results in anarchy, chaos and dysfunction. Social Darwinism or “The Jungle” is a result.
Exploitation, domination and oppression of the “strong” over the “weak”. Individual selfishness is disguised and reinforced by rich business corporations.
This almost always results in social INjustice, violating most people’s sense of political, social and economic ideals.
___8)The Wave was a good idea. It brought diverse students together and provided them with a sense of meaning, pride, hope and direction. The Wave strengthened “weak” and “dysfunctional” individuals through collective (group) identity and “re-birth”
It eliminated differences and “classes”. The Wave made school “real” and “authentic”.
___ 9)The Wave was wrong, dangerous and evil for many reasons. The Wave involved both foolish wishful thinking and deliberate deception.
The Wave promised and delivered the short-term “feeling” of “progress” for some.
However, it failed to recognize the “facts” of dangerous unintended consequences that unintentionally and intentionally produced the opposite of what was intended. Claiming to “unify”, the Wave was divisive. The Wave replaced one form of [individual] selfishness with another far worse [collective] one.
The Wave caused students to harm and abuse each other. The “collective good” and “pride” was used as an “excuse” for individuals within the collective to abuse any non-conformity outside the collective. Group conformity “excused” evil behavior that individuals would know was wrong. A promise to end individual selfishness led to a group selfishness ready to destroy anybody standing in the way.
The Wave caused people who peacefully co-existed or even “loved” each other to abuse each other. Seeking to “end” differences resulted in the ending (through terror, violence) of anybody different.
Under the “mask” of building utopian unity, equality and “”social justice”, the Wave participants hypocritically HID their individual flaws, weaknesses and insecurities with collective bullying. Previous “victims” proceeded to “victimize”.
Tyranny of the “strong” was replaced by tyranny of the [previously] “weak”.
Previous “have nots” became “haves” “Outs” became “ins”.. That’s why that selfish, spoiled “prima donna” Maro reacted so strongly against The Wave. A “corrupt” collective class was about to abuse “corrupt” individuals who “stood in the way”. A deceptive public “good” would be used to rationalize and excuse public “evil”. (rationalized or excused as “mistakes”)
DICTATORS, DEMAGOGUES and CLASS WARFARE
___10)The Wave brought a false “equality”that masked CLASS WARFARE. (haves vs. have nots, losers vs. winners. ins vs. outs, loyalists vs traitors)
It replaced individual selfishness with collective ENVY. A “corrupt” collective class of previous “losers” become the “winners”, who could now terrorize and bully everybody else who were now the new “losers”.
Dictators promise “unity” and “equality” to disguise their “divide and conquer” agenda. Demagogues manipulate the people’s fears, insecurities, hopes and vanities to concentrate their own private power in the name of the “public good”. Demgogues “tempt and trick”, manipulating “the people”, using “progress” to hide a “power” agenda. Dictators “bait and switch”, promising and delivering “unity”,“strength” and “heaven” (for a while), but eventually delivering “hell”.
__11)Wave participants were “utopian” idealists that ignored life’s “tragic” realities. “tricked” by their leader and by themselves. People are “flawed” creatures with limitations and issues. There are no simple “solutions” to life’s problems. It is foolish “wishful thinking” to think we can simply end inequalities, hierarchies, discrimination, exploitation, abuse, insecurities, suffering and injustices, etc.. We are all tragically “stuck” with the basic human “problem” of “power”, anarchy and tyranny. Power corrupts. That does not mean that we do not try to make things better, But “idealism” can not make the “tragic” realities of life disappear.
Life is a COMPLEX MIX of idealism and realism, UTOPIAN and TRAGIC.
“Progress” might be possible, but not without TRAGIC “problems” and not without costs or a “price”.
Life’s choices are usually NOT a “simple” choice between “GOOD” and “BAD”.
It is often a “tragic” choice between “BAD” and “WORSE”.
Good and bad are intrinsically mixed and inseparable. (“ALL MIXED UP”)
In the case of The Wave, discipline, unity and strength easily became division, conformity and bullying. This is a World History class. Without understanding how “the world” works, we will have a hard time explaining history. The Wave was a great teaching “experiment” that teaches us a lot. That was/is “progress”.
But it also created problems (unintended consequences). It came at a heavy price. Was it worth it?
The GERMAN (“Die Welle”) VERSION
__11)TIM at the end was a VICTIM of an “experiment” that went too far.
Tim was manipulated by a devious, irresponsible teacher. Tim went from “zero” to “hero”, back to “zero”. Tim went from a kid “paralyzed” by fear at youth camp, to aimless “loser” trying to fit in with his “homies” (giving them drugs), to being saved from bullying by other Wave members. Tim told his parents of his enthusiasm for The Wave. He went from underachiever to confident overachiever.
Tim became aWave “superstar”. He went from powerless “bullied” to powerful “bully”.
Rainer/Mr. Wenger is responsible for Tim’s fate. Rainer/Mr. Wenger’s “lesson” got out of control, with unintended consequences.
__12)Rainer/Mr. Wenger was the victim in the end. He taught the lesson that brought abstract principles of power and freedom into concrete reality. Unfortunately, it did go too far.
That’s not entirely his fault that a “psycho loser” kid killed himself. That is the “price” of freedom – not everyone can “handle” it. Why should he lose his freedom for the weakness of others. That is “tyranny of the weak”.
Rainer was a rebel/anarchist who believed that no government had the right to limit individual freedom.
Rainer taught and simulated maybe the BEST EVER lesson on how dictatorships take away people’s freedom.
Ironically, he lost his own freedom in the process. Like Frankenstein, the “creation” he brought to life became a “monster” that destroyed his own life.
___13)We are all victims of ourselves and each other. That is a sad fact of life aNd “reality” that no one likes to confront.
The “problem” of political power and government (individual vs. state) is ultimately a “people” problem.
Neither individuals nor “the state” can be trusted with power.
Conflict is a “fact of life” that cannot be avoided..
Who is your enemy? Yourself? People like you? Everybody else?
___14)The Wave showed how dictatorships can happen, even in free, prosperous and “democratic” nations such as the U.S. and Germany.
ANY and ALL people are susceptible to falling for the “temptations” and “tricks” of dictatorships. (“FOOLED … AGAIN …)
___15)In the German version of “The Wave” (Die Welle), the class explored conditions necessary for dictatorships to emerge.
Political, economic and social reasons were provided. Maybe the most “interesting” reason provided was “UNHAPPINESS”. In democratic societies, We are free to “pursue” happiness, but are never “guaranteed” “happiness”. That is why dictatorships are always possible.
There will ALWAYS BE UNHAPPINESS. Dictators can always “demagogue” or exploit the causes for people’s unhappiness. (e.g. fears, prejudices) Democracies “divide” power, leaving no one entirely “satisfied”. Dictators also promise false or deceptive causes to bring “happiness”.
“Weak” individuals seek a “purpose” and “meaning” outside of themselves. This is “natural” and “normal”. Yet, The Wave shows why this “feeling” ends in DISASTER. It ignored the “fact” that power corrupts.
Individualist anarchy/chaos (FREEDOM) can be BAD.
Collective tyranny (FASCISM) is WORSE.
The basic “issue” is [UN]HAPPINESS. In either case, no one type of government is ever going to entirely “solve” this essential problem.
Humanity’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible;
humanity’s capacity for injustice makes democracy necessary.
Reinhold Neibuhr (1892-1971) was a German-American Protestant minister, theologian and political and social thinker who witnessed the “challenges” to liberal democracies made by “totalitarian”, utopian societies such as Fascist Nazi Germany of Hitler and Stalin’s Marxist Soviet Union.
Niebuhr considered the “problem” of power, government and human nature.
He declared that mankind is his own most vexing (confusing and disturbing) problem. Regarding human nature and government, he could not figure out whether he was a pessimistic optimist or optimistic pessimist. Can people govern themselves?
Is democracy possible?
He was an optimist regarding democracy. People had the rational and moral capacity to recognize “justice, which would enable democratic self-government.
He was a pessimist regarding people’s capacity to abuse power. (“power corrupts”) “Unlimited” totalitarian governments always resulted in injustice and tyranny on an unprecedented level. (Hitler – 30 million dead; Stalin – 50 million dead; Mao –
70 million dead) Recognizing this “reality”, only limited government would prevent this. The “checks and balances” on power used by liberal democracies often seemed “weak” and were often “dysfunctional”. British leader Winston Churchill famously stated, “Democracy is the worst form of government – except all the others.”
Despite its problems, Western, liberal democracy was still superior by stopping totalitarian, “utopian” capacity for injustice, terror and tyranny. Despite the “crisis” that democracy faced in the 20th century, Western, liberal democracies outlived Hitler’s Nazi Germany (1933-45) after World War II) and the Soviet Union (1922-91) after the Cold War..