Larken Rose states,
“The mass murder committed by the regimes of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and many others was made possible not just by the willingness of the “enforcers” to carry out their orders but also by their victims’ imagined obligation to obey “authority,” and by the belief held by almost all onlookers that they should not interfere with “the law” being carried out. The perpetrators of mass injustice, including mass murder, are always hugely outnumbered by their victims, and if you add in the number of spectators – all those people who could have intervened – it becomes obvious how significant the actions (or inaction) of mere “spectators” can be.
Of course, some people will fail to intervene in a situation simply as a result of basic fear. A witness to a mugging who does not dare to intervene is not condoning mugging by his inaction. He simply values the benefit to his own safety that comes from inaction more than he values whatever benefit he thinks he could be to the victim by stepping in. But there are many cases in which the belief in “authority” makes people hesitate to get involved in a conflict, not just out of fear but out of a deep psychological aversion to going against “authority.” There are two ways this can cause spectators to stand idly by while “legal” injustice is inflicted upon someone else: 1) the spectator can believe that the injustice is actually a good thing, because it is “the law,” or 2) the spectator can disapprove, but his willingness to actually act out against “law enforcers,” or even to speak out against “authority,” is stifled by his trained-in subservience. Either way, the outcome is the same: the spectator does nothing to stop the injustice. But the two phenomena will be addressed separately.'“ [MORE]