WARNING: Today and tomorrow, you’re going to discover a series of social experiments that could change the way you perceive authority…
Change how you act around strangers…
Change the way you talk to your kids or grandkids…
And even change the way you see — and make — money.
We’ll cover three experiments in total.
The first one on the list is called How to Become a Fascist in 5 Days or Less.
The second we call How to Scar a Child For Life in 3 Simple Steps.
And the third? How Even the Financially Illiterate Make More Money in 3 Minutes than Most Americans Do in an Entire Day…
I’ll tell you more about the second and third experiments in one moment.
First, without further ado, here’s How to Become a Fascist in 5 Days Or Less…
How to Become a Fascist
in 5 Days Or Less
To set the scene, this story starts at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California.
The year is 1967. Ron Jones, a world history teacher, wants to prove a powerful point to his students. Little does he know, nor could he, just how out of control his little experiment is about to become.
Just to preface what’s to follow, the students had no idea they were part of an experiment. Until, that is, they were told on the last day. And by that time, on day five, the experiment — and a fake fascist movement — had taken on a life of its own.
ON THE FIRST DAY, Mr. Jones told the students he would reveal the hidden key to power and success.
The key, he said, is simple: “strength through discipline.”
First, after a bit of rapport-building, Mr. Jones requested they stand up when they wanted to ask or answer questions. Once they fully complied, he then requested they answer or ask all questions in three words or less.
Once he reached compliance again, he asked them to say “Mr. Jones” after every question or statement.
“OK. Now, sit up straight,” he later told them, going from requests to demands. “Clean off your desk. Put your head up. Backs straight. Put your feet flat on the floor. There. Isn’t that better? Can’t you listen better in this posture? Now, that’s the power of discipline.”
The kids complied and nodded their heads.
The bell rang.
ON THE SECOND DAY, Mr. Jones taught the students another lesson: how to gain strength through community.
“You give up yourself to be a part of something really great,” he explained, “It’s not so foreign. It happens all the time in history. Building a barn with your neighbors. Stuff like that.”
As he taught them the importance of community, he hinted that they were about to become part of something greater than themselves. Then he came right out with it: They were hand-picked, he said, to become members of a movement called “The Third Wave.”
He taught them the “official” salute of this movement and ordered them to use it to one another even outside of the classroom.
The kids, with little reluctance, complied.
The bell rang.
ON THE THIRD DAY, Mr. Jones taught the students the importance of action.
He issued Third Wave member cards and delegated individual assignments for each student.
Some students helped design a Third Wave logo. Some were posted up at the door to keep non-Third Waver interlopers from entering the classroom.
Though Mr. Jones said nothing of it, rumors spread that an initiation service was in the works. That way, new members outside the class could join. Catching wind of this, Mr. Jones made up an initiation ritual. He then sent some students to recruit and enroll new members.
Shortly after the introduction of the ritual, the Third Wave movement had grown beyond Jones’ control. With only 30 members in the morning, the Third Wave had grown to over 200 well before the last bell rang.
Moreover, Third Wave signs covered the school, including a massive 20-foot banner in the library.
Some students even began reporting to Jones, without being asked to, when certain members were saluting improperly or breaking other rules. One student even reported that some members were planning a coup against him.
The bell rang.
ON THE FOURTH DAY, surprised at the progress, Mr. Jones decided his point was almost well proven. Just one more day and he would tell them the truth.
Some students, meanwhile, were becoming dogmatic and militant in their loyalty for the Third Wave.
Quietly, he selected a small anonymous group to be the “secret police” to enforce Third Wave rules. Jones then fabricated indictments and made accused students stand and be judged by their peers. Many were convicted guilty by consensus. Classmates agreed that all guilty parties — of which they deemed to be “nonbelievers” — should be exiled to the library.
Then Jones, as his final act, announced that the Third Wave was bigger than they were told. It was actually a national movement.
“The Wave,” he told them, “is not just a classroom exercise. Teachers like myself have gone throughout the country to find you… select students. A vanguard. An elite, to introduce this nation to the idea of order, discipline, community, action!”
On the following day, he said, a presidential candidate — their true leader — would publicly announce his allegiance to the Third Wave Youth program.
Students were instructed to come to a rally at noon to witness the announcement — and history — unfold. More than 1,000 groups all over the nation, he told them, would be watching along with them.
The bell rang.
AT NOON ON THE FIFTH DAY, standing in front of his newly-created mass movement, Mr. Jones turned on the TV. And he let the members watch a blank screen.
They all, hundreds of them, sat there with their backs ramrod straight, eyes fixated on the blank screen… waiting.
After a few minutes of this, anger and confusion surfaced. Some started to suspect they were being lied to. The crowd began to turn on him. Just as emotions were rearing to reach fever pitch, Mr. Jones revealed the truth.
He told the students they had been part of an experiment in fascism.
In less than five days, he told them, they had willingly created a false sense of superiority over others. They had ousted their peers on false grounds. And, worst of all, they had made the same mistakes, with little resistance, that set the stage for some of history’s worst atrocities.
“There is no Third Wave movement, no leader,” he told the confused swarm. “You and I are no better or worse than the citizens of the Third Reich. We would have worked in the defense plants. We will watch our neighbors be taken away, and do nothing. We’re just like those Germans. We would give our freedom up for the chance of being special.”
As Jones scanned the room, he saw that the students had turned pale. Their backs were no longer as straight and as sure. Several students started to cry. Most just sat there, silent and confused.
The bell rang.
Takeaway: Though some of these details might be embellished (as there are conflicting accounts on what actually occurred), the experiment did happen. Jones wanted to show his students how quickly individual freedoms can be stripped and willfully suppressed in the name of collective goals.
The experiment, to his horror, exceeded his expectations.
Since we are all, as individuals, responsible for our actions, Jones told the students in the end, you must question what you do rather than blindly follow a leader. You must never allow a group’s will to usurp your individuality and to sway you from what you would ordinarily know in your heart is just and right.
“Fascism,” Jones said, “is always a possibility because it’s so simple and people are frustrated. They lose their jobs, their dignity, their sense of worth, and someone comes along and says, ‘I’ve got the answer.’”
But, of course, as an astute Laissez Faire reader, you already know all of that.
What you might not be as aware of, though, is the equally explosive takeaways of the next two social experiments we have for you.
These experiments, to refresh your memory, are called…
How to Scar a Child For Life in 3 Simple Steps.
And How Even the Financially Illiterate Make More Money in 3 Minutes Than Most Americans Do in an Entire Day…
This last one, by the way, is…
- Possibly the most shocking social experiment you’ll see in this series…
- Certainly the most lucrative social experiment you can use as soon as you learn about it…
- And, unlike the other two, it won’t create lifelong enemies, scar anyone for life, or get you in any trouble with the State…
- Best part: Just like many of the best things in life, you can do it with a stranger… with a loved one… or, if you have an aversion to strangers and loved ones, all by yourself.
We’ll get to the second and third social experiments in tomorrow’s episode.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today