Hannah Arendt on “Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship:” Better to Suffer Than Collaborate (Open Culture).
Arendt identifies a third moral choice when living in an oppressive society: You can go along, which is evil. You can resist, which can get you dead. Or you can simply refuse to comply … which can also get you dead.
“It was precisely the members of respectable society,” Arendt writes, “who had not been touched by the intellectual and moral upheaval in the early stages of the Nazi period, who were the first to yield. They simply exchanged one system of values against another,” without reflecting on the morality of the entire new system.
If I lived in an evil society like Nazi Germany or the Confederacy, I like to think I would have the moral and physical courage to resist, or simply refused to comply. But that’s hard. Easier to just look the other way.