Blind Obedience
The problem isn't Lawful Stupid characters, but that they believe an Authority is infallible.


(permanent link) added: 2012-03-04 11:53:45 sponsor: Earnest (last reply: 2012-12-07 06:27:20)

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Eden: Why? Why did my father kill Aria?! Doesn't even my father... make mistakes?
Leo Mycenae: Wh-what did you say?
Eden: Couldn't my father also make a mistake?
Leo Mycenae: What are you saying lord Eden? We've sworn our loyalty to lord Mars. That means that we must never question his actions!

This trope applies to characters that are sources of authority in an organization and those who follow them. Typically the followers have faith (sometimes blind) in the competence, fairness and infallibility of the authority they choose to follow. These followers would never say "My Master, Right or Wrong", firstly because they're not evil, and secondly because the idea that this authority is capable of error and/or immorality may not even cross their mind. Thirdly, if it does they may justify it as the authority "knowing better" or having a view of the "big picture".

The authority in question rarely does much to dispell this notion and may in fact Pridefully think of themselves as infallible to the point of having an Omniscient Morality License (they very much don't though). While they may be a Reasonable Authority Figure, it's common for this trope that they see themselves as unquestionable arbiters of Law and Good, and questioning their judgement is at the least naive foolishness or at worst tantamount to treason. The plot comes in just as they make a pretty bad error of judgement (or go crazy/evil) and a good chunk of their subordinates/the populace disagrees with them, and the disagreement simmers into open rebellion before long.

Compare/contrast Honor Before Reason. This is the Key Characteristic of the Ennegram Personality type 6. See also Undying Loyalty and My Country, Right or Wrong.


Examples:

Anime

Film
  • In City of Ember most people treat the mayor as a pretty infallible and sensible authority figure, which he abused to his gain. Though their city was breaking down and the power plant to their Terminally Dependent Society was nearing failure he managed to keep almost everyone content. The protagonists were some of the few to see the problem and fought to find a way out.
  • The second Alien vs. Predator movie had one character blurt out "The government doesn't lie!" when soldiers were sent to keep everyone quiet. Much revelry was had in theaters.
  • Lampshaded in Life of Brian:
    Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong, you don't need to follow me; you don't need to follow anyone. You're all individuals!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
    Brian: You're all different!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all different!
    Crowd: Shh! Shhhh!
    Brian: You've all got to work it out for yourselves!
    Crowd: Yes, we've got to work it out for ourselves!
    Brian: Yes exactly!
    Crowd: Tell us more!
    Brian: No, that's the point, don't let anyone tell you what to do, otherwise... ow!
    Woman in Black: That's enough.

Western Animation
  • Lord Mantle of Shadow Raiders believed himself to be one, as did most of his planet's populace. His Pride led him to betray the alliance to prove that his people could deal with a Planet Eater on their own, sabotaging all allied ships other than his own.
  • In King of the Hill Hank Hill seems to be this way about Buck Strickland. Weirdly, he oscillates between blind admiration and exasperated confusion at his mismanagement. Although, let's face it, the entire show suffered from epic levels of Aesop Amnesia.

Real Life
  • Lets just say that this is often seen in politics and leave it at that.
  • Like our fellow apes, humans are built to respect authority (common chimps are hierarchical around strong males, bonobos are more matrilineal). There's variation, of course, and it is intensely debated whether "alpha males" are leaders or just breeders.
    • The work of Dr. Jonathan Haidt has elucidated that respect for authority is stronger among conservatives than liberals. This and in-group loyalty explains why conservatives are a bloc, whereas liberals are a coalition.
    • This also explains Stockholm Syndrome, battered wife syndrome, and similar.
    • Cults tend to be built around incredibly charismatic leaders. Combine force of personality with the enforced isolation that they also tend to adore and you can get seriously blind obedience.
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