Disobedience as a psychological and moral problem

Summary Erich Fromm, in his article, ‘ Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem’, makes the claim that if society does not show disobedience to authorities, it will destroy itself with its own hands. Fromm has given examples of Adam and Eve, their Original Sin and their achievement of freedom; and, of Prometheus who stole fire from God. These analogies, according to Fromm, make us believe that human history started with acts of disobedience, and that disobedience leads to freedom. For human race to continue, it is necessary for humans to disobey power and authority. If humans do not obey, then their obedience will bring an end to them. It seems that Fromm’s claim is a product of his fear of a third world war. He explains how humans are hardwired to obey the authorities. He claims that if humans understand why they are made to obey, they can overcome their weaknesses that make them obey, so that their survival is ensured. Before we get destroyed due to our obedience, we must remove the stigma that is attached with disobedience, and must consider it as a virtue. A critical analysis shows that although Fromm’s examples, which he gives from religious scripts, are very respectable indeed, but they do not promote the idea that disobedience is the key to survival. If Adam and Eve disrespected God, they were sent to the world as punishment, and not as beginners of free living. Obedience to authorities is a good thing as it ensures peace; however, unnecessary obedience when the authorities are wrong in their objectives, is bad. This is the only situation when disobedience becomes essential. Also, Fromm’s argument, that human history started from disobedience and will end in obedience, is without evidence and, therefore, is a myth in itself.
Fromm, E. (n. d.). Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem. Retrieved March 11, 2012, from http://www. middlesexcc. edu/faculty/robert_roth/frommdisobedience. htm