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Herd Mentality

Slogans can kill. They often do. A simple slogan like Ek dhaka aur do, Jama Masjid tod do killed a few thousand people in addition to demolishing a five-century-old architectural heritage in the year 1992 under the pontificate of luminaries like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. No less than 150,000 people who called themselves kar sevaks metamorphosed into a cloud of frenzied hornets, mesmerised by a slogan.

A mob has no brain. A mob only has a libido. A mob is an emotional surge, a monstrous unconscious, a mindless leviathan. Any pied piper can get that monster to plunder and flatten, rape and kill. The mob will commit atrocities that the individuals in it will shy away from with visible horror.

Fellow blogger Amit Pattnaik raises a question at a bloggers’ platform: Why is the herd mentality phenomenon so rampant in India? So many just blindly follow what others are doing! Or they mindlessly do what others tell them to, without questioning it. Is it the Bandwagon Effect? Has rationality died?

The herd mentality is rampant among the entire species that calls itself Homo Sapiens, not only in India. What killed millions of Jews in Hitler’s expanding territory was this mentality. Even the most benign Buddha’s followers turned mass killers in Myanmar last year following the universal herd mentality of the species. There are murderous evangelist groups in America that show no signs of intellectual development.

The herd mentality comes primarily from a lack of brains. Watch people who join violent mobs and it won’t take long for you to realise how like wild beasts they are. What kind of a man can enter a total stranger’s house, sledgehammer the men to death, rape the women, slam children against rocks, tear open wombs and snarl at spilled foetuses?

A century back, French polymath Gustave Le Bon said that “by the mere fact that he forms part of an organised group, a man descends several ladders of civilisation. Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian – that is, a creature acting by instincts. He possesses the spontaneity, the ferocity and also the enthusiasm and heroism of primitive beings.”

Advanced minds stay clear of groups, let alone mobs. Groups are for the less sophisticated ones. Mobs are for the savages. You won’t ever find Einstein and Picasso in mobs. Mobs don’t sway to Beethoven’s symphonies. You will find mobs lapping up hollow political rhetoric. Hideous villains have been exalted as national heroes by vacuous mobs. Flagrant frauds have been worshipped as yogis and gurus by flash mobs.

A mob cannot think. A mob moves like an avalanche set in motion by a force unknown to it. More and more elements join it as it tumbles down and moves on like a hellish juggernaut. Devastation as well as folly has a gravitational pull not unlike that of a black hole.

PS. #HerdMentality Indispire Edition 331


  1. "Advanced minds stay clear of groups, let alone mobs. Groups are for the less sophisticated ones. Mobs are for the savages. " ....very true

  2. There is little to disagree in this article. Herd mentality is the curse of mankind especially today when true and selfless leaders are no longer in sight. India has been suffering incessantly from it for a pretty long time and is perhaps destined to suffer because the people seem to have pawned their brains with a particular person who deals with them in the manner of a mountebank and they feel happiness in dancing to his tunes. Geniuses never live in groups but, if they are wicked, they are capable of turning sane people into herds. Herd mentality is a harsh as well as painful reality. That's why there's a specific branch of Sociology covering study of 'Crowd Behaviour'.

    1. The greatest tragedy of India is precisely this inane surrender of the thinking power by its people. Bhakt's inevitable blindness has been accepted by them. The nation has, consequently, become a herd following the loudest shouter.

  3. It never fails to amaze me when I see crowds following someone who is so obviously wrong. The likes of Nithyananda have a staggering amount of followers despite being the butt of jokes on the internet for his baseless claims. How is it that this herd mentality is able to strip them of their ability to think? I am at a loss.

    1. I think people know how to use this sort of connections for their own personal aggrandizement. Some are plain stupid, that's all. In the case of present kind of nationalism, it's just negative sentiments against certain religious communities that drive people.

  4. Peer influence isn't always bad but blindly following someone certainly could be. So often people assume that if so many others are doing something, then it must be okay. And that's so not right

    1. I know. Yet somehow I find it hard to take peer groups or any social group for that matter along my stride. A friend tells me I am a misanthrope. Could be. A misfit, more probably.


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