Temis the Bleeding Aorta wrote:
I get the analogy, but it's too extreme and therefore falls apart. I don't expect people in these circumstances to hold onto their humanity. It's simply unrealistic.
People in far less extreme circumstances have lost their humanity and done terrible things, and then guess what, when you look at the situation in retrospect nothing bad happened as a result.
"Humanity" is sort of a nebulous idea to begin with. To use your example, it's hard to interpret early Americans as compromising their humanity when it was the widespread belief in manifest destiny that pushed westward expansion in the first place.
If you interpret "humanity" more as the moral norms of a society at that time then, yes, disastrous things can happen when they're compromised. Human history is littered with far more civilizations that have failed than ones that have survived. Rome is a textbook example of that. It started out as a fanatical republic and ending up collapsing as an autocratic empire, sowing the seeds of feudalism in the west. Through a series of moral compromises (usually during times of immense peril) the Romans slowly destroyed themselves.