In this program I explore the legal ramifications of MIlgrams discovery that people will behave sadistically towards strangers if an authority figure instructs them to do so.
I don’t believe that people are inherently obedient, rather this is a product of cruel child-rearing practices by parents and schools. Distrust of and lack of empathy for strangers may well have a biological basis. Our primitive ancestors are though to have lived in bands linked by male kinship.
Some ancient pre-state societies didn’t have adversarial courts with a professional “prosecutor” (i.e. persecutor) and lay jurors. Instead kritarchies had professional jurors and no prosecutor. The seasoned jurors heard evidence and then pronounced their findings. Typically the focus of these courts was restitution and not punishment. Public humiliation was punishment enough in tribes.
The adversarial penal system of the state implements a form of martial law that appeals to the inherent sadism of most people and their willingness to behave sadistically when instructed to do so by an authority figure. Such a system of “law” has nothing to do with justice. It’s about cruelty power and greed.
I’ll be exploring the shadow side of the human psyche more in a forthcoming review of The Empathy Trap.
Early Irish law
Defense Against the Psychopath