In an episode of the Darkhorse podcast, Bret Weinstein lays out a paradigm of the societal grouping mechanics during a witch hunt, and I would like to reiterate them here (mostly for my own memory. I find this to be very clear and precise). I will add only how the witch hunt starts, which he did not explain in the podcast, perhaps for brevity.
Witch hunts occur for various reason, but simply put: one individual (or small group of individuals) incurs the wrath of a group of individuals. It could be that the individual said something heretical to the faith of the group, the individual may have interrupted the plans the group had been cooperating to execute, or perhaps the individual accused the group of wrongdoing. This is the point where Weinstein’s paradigm begins to take shape.
The society shifts into four groups: Those who lead the hunt, those who follow/support those leading, those who standby silently afraid to intervene or unsure of what is happening, and those who vocally object to the witch hunt. The last group, the vocal objectors, are then associated with those being hunted and become the “witches”.
We can see this paradigm in the example of Nazi Germany. I am sure a historian could more precisely map this, but the paradigm makes sense from a zoomed-out view as well. We have Hitler and his co-conspirators as the leaders of the witch hunt. They scapegoat the Jews for the woes of Germany to motivate many who love their country to follow them zealously in their persecution and eventual attempt to eliminate the Jews. They enforce compliance from the silent bystanders by punishing anyone advocating for/assisting the Jews.
We can also see this paradigm today with White Supremacy. We have our Woke faction declaring that White Supremacy is one of the greatest threats to America today, even though most of us do not know any White Supremacists. They assure us that even though it doesn’t seem like it, White Supremacists walk among us in great numbers, but a trained eye is needed to spot them (note how often the phrase “dog whistle” is used to indicate that something that seems innocuous is actually a carefully crafted statement designed to broadcast secret support for White Supremacy). The woke will unearth one of these “racists” or “bigots” and demand harsh punishment. This person will reject their judgement and insist that they are not racist, but the woke will engage in their sophistry and try to find evidence that supports their already held conclusion. Anyone who stands up for the hunted will be labeled a racist themselves, or at the very least an apologist for racists. The silent bystanders watch, praying that this will all die down soon and that they will remain unaffected.
The silent majority may feel as if they are making the safe play, but that is not obvious. If the witch hunt is successful and all the “witches” are eliminated, there will soon be another witch hunt. It will either be conducted by those who led the first witch hunt, or people who observed how effective the previous witch hunt was at removing enemies. Since the previous “witches” are gone, the new “witches” will likely be selected from this large group of silent bystanders. Rinse, lather, repeat. If the witch hunt proves to be more difficult, that is, the more successfully the “witches” evade “justice”, the more pressure will be exerted on the silent bystanders to join the hunt, and those who refuse risk becoming a “witch”. Praying that a witch hunt will pass without intervention is as much of a gamble as it is to speak truthfully and stand against the witch hunt.
What is the morale of the story? Consider becoming a “witch”. Game theory easily explains why people would choose not to become a “witch”. If the silent majority speaks up, they will take power from the witch hunt leaders, however, if a member of the silent majority speaks up alone or is caught attempting to coordinate a response from the silent majority, they will be labeled as a “witch”.
|Person A \ Person B||Speak Up||Stay Silent|
|Speak Up||Safe \ Safe||In Danger \ Safe|
|Stay Silent||Safe \ In Danger||Safe \ Safe|
What needs to be understood is that 3 of the 4 groups listed in the paradigm have sold their souls. If you lead others in an effort of persecution, you have sold your soul for power. If you join an effort of persecution, you have sold your soul to protect that which you care about. If you silently observe persecution, you have sold your soul for safety. The “witches” are in terrible danger, but their souls are intact, which should not be undervalued.
EDIT: (7/16/2022) Added Game Theory table and caption
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