Holocaust is just Milgram's inspiration. Specifically, the trial of Adolf Eichman. Because Eichman said he only obeyed the orders given to him. As a scientist, Milgram knows people are not 'evil'. He is aware the circumstances are different. He is NOT trying to create made up circumstances and explain Nazi behaviour. His goal is to get a picture of how people act under 'orders' in general. By orders, in the setting he created they are just being told what to do to accomplish something they volunteered to do. They are not actually given orders.
Subjects of the experiment are NOT under pressure from anyone. They are volunteers who come to the university by themselves, they are told that they will keep their money whatever the result of the experiment is. They are not forced to do anything. They are only told a few certain statements which is given in the text in the previous page.
-None of them refuses to do this from the beginning thinking 'I came here with my own will and volunteered, so I can leave' Or simply 'I refuse to do this'.
-None of them checks the health condition of the person -who is screaming in pain and begging- they are giving the shocks who by the way as the part of the ruse was told that had a slight heart condition.
-All of them experienced the real shock of 45 volts -the only real shock in the experiment- which is quite painful and the majority of them pushed the button up to a massive 450 .volts
-They do not see the person they shock, but hear his voice and the sound he makes in pain. (Acting)
-They all say something about it, they say they don't want to do it, they show distress, guilt, say this and that, their instincts tell them not to do it, but they DO IT ANYWAY.
Shocking people with electricty is a method of torture. Not to mention that everyone knows it is extremely painful and it is deadly at some point and destructive to human health. They also know how painful what they just experienced -the 45 volts of shock- but the majority agrees to apply that shock 10 times stronger.
The result of the experiment(s) is that most people obey to torture a fellow human being, just because they were told to do. NOT ordered, NOT bullied, NOT threatened to do. They know that they could walk away any moment. They know that they will keep their money whatever is the result. They are NOT under orders, they know they volunteered and they can make a choice. This result stayed pretty much the same later when the experiment recreated in 70s or in 21st century.
It's not about the 65 % that went till the end to 450 volts, while majority of the rest went along up to 300 volts and other powers, a very few people have stopped early in the experiment and NONE of them rejected to do it after they were told what was expected of them. A Dutch electric engineer left the experiment very early, apparently he was the subject Milgram found memorable.
This experiment shows the extreme willingness of adults to go to unbelievable lengths on the command of an authority. Few people have the resources and ability to resist authority.
Later in 60s, Milgram moves the obedience experiment to another setting. He takes it out of the universty, because a university is an authoritative, reliable setting. He sets up a decorum more shady and tried to incline an illegal setting. Results didn't change significantly. It just got a little lower on the people who went on till the end. Which is actually more alarming in a way, because it means people are more ready to do something awful when they are told if it comes from an official source they recognise and respect.
This has nothing to do with basic primate instincts as in acting according to some hierarchy, food chain, survival, protection of the mate or off spring in the setting because there is no reward or a situation, an event created to compete-push the subject in. It's a passive, fixed setting.
Why this is so fucking disturbing and not something to pass as 'ah human nature, so what?'. Because we LEARN TO OBEY or NOT TO OBEY AUTHORITY, we LEARN TO MAKE CHOICES, we LEARN TO QUESTION ORDERS or NOT. We are not born with these abilities or tendencies. They are the things we learn in a social setting. From our family, friends, society, in school, at work...etc.
What lead those people to act this way is not some powerful, violent primary instinct the animal called primate naturally has, but the civilised human who learned to obey authority, to make choices, or to question or not to question. It's NOT the animal, it is the human. The animal intinct screams STOP! whenever he-she hears the voice of a fellow primate in pain, human makes a choice and chooses to go on.
Milgram has actually proved on a scientific setting that that the majority of the people in the world would act like Adolf Eichman under those circumstances. That disturbed people so badly, they denied his tenure. They blamed him with being 'immoral'. People went to incredible lengths against themselves, what they hear, feel, their guilt, distress to obey and even impress authority without pressure or threat. They didn't ask a simple question of "What the fuck am I doing here?" and then blamed the scientist who conducted the experiments.
Can you imagine what would happen, has happened, did happen, keep happening even with just an inclination of some threat or real pressure, let alone a brutal dictatorship in real life?
So yeah, this movie is an important piece of entertainment, esp. to the generations who cannot be bothered to learn something if it wasn't made into some series of memes, youtube videos and vlogs or a movie franchise. It is telling something real and people should get down from their moral high horse and pay attention to it. Because they all are only just as 'moral' as those people who volunteered to the experiment contrary to their strong belief that they are special deep down. That was my purpose of posting the thread.