Comparing Erich Fromm's Disobedience As A Psychological And Moral Problem

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In 1963, tension in America and the surrounding world was at an all-time high. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and USA was reaching its fever pitch with both nations seemingly just one ill-placed step away from the world’s first potential full-fledged Nuclear War. With this, along with the 13-day long game of chicken between the US and USSR that was the Cuban Missile Crisis at the end of 1962, on his conscience, historian and sociologist Erich Fromm wrote “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem.” In his article, Fromm argues that since the dawn of time, humans’ ability to be disobedient has been the driving force of human evolution from the Stone Ages to modern society, and that if any one force is powerful enough to terminate civilization, humankind’s tendency to be obedient by default may be it. Fromm proves the dangers of obedience by referencing the genesis of man, the differences between teacher and slave master, and time-proof arguments, but despite being built on a…show more content…
The level of success the slave master achieves is dependent on how much he can withdraw from the slave through exploitation. On the other hand, the slave’s level of success is judged strictly on how much he can give the slave owner, and his own personal progression, happiness, or goals are irrelevant in the slave masters eyes. He is only judged by the level he is willing to give the slave master – regardless of his own well-being. It is the simplicity and brevity of this comparison that makes it an extremely potent argument. In the complex world that we live in, it would be easy to get caught up in the “what-ifs” that give any interaction context. Yet, Fromm finds an efficient way to cut-through all of them and get to the core of what makes obedience “rational” or “irrational.” This formula can be used to examine any relationship, regardless of the environment they exist

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