From the time one is still young, parents educate their children to always be obedient and emphasize that obedience is a virtue, and disobedience is unethical. This forms the opinion that the society has accepted. Obedience is taught in almost all religions. On the other hand, many people ask if disobedience really is a demonstration of someone’s behavior that can e regarded as rotten. Fromm has emphasized out many aspects that proves the contrary to us. He holds the belief that always disobedience is an act, a manifestation of individual’s idea or will. He goes a head stating that an obedient person in real sense is a slave, who is not fully developed into human being. This essay critically analyze animal farm using the ideas from Fromm’s essay. The pigs’ disobedience of the seven commandments in the animal farm was the start of their downfall.
It is an act of disobedience that welcomed the history of man according to many myths in the world. As an effect, obedience might very well cause the end of human history. There are probabilities that the human race will destroy civilization and even the whole life on earth. Though there is no prove to this, since we are living in a world of atomic age, many individuals, particularly those in power still live emotionally in the Stone Age period, while those who are mathematicians and natural scientists live in the 21st century. Most of American’s ideas about politics, the state and societies lag far behind the science age. Fromm explains that if mankind commits suicide it will be because individuals will be blindly obeying commands of those in leadership all in the name of the states honor. This blind obedience was seen in Boxer who worked himself to death. Boxer had continued to work even when he fell sick. Those in power will be using the same ancient passions of fear, hate and greed which will push the suicidal buttons of their people. These passions have been used since time immemorial by dictatorial leaders. In the Animal Farm Napoleon used them. He used his dogs to instill fear to the animals that dared question his leadership. His greed led to disobeying the same rules that he and other animals had created after defeating the humans in the Animal Farm. His greed led him to make deals with the same humans he had originally condemned.
Though Fromm says that, this does not mean that all disobedience is necessarily an admirable quality, nor is obedience always a bad thing. Such like a view ignores dialectical relation between disobedience and obedience. If the obeyed and disobeyed principles cannot be reconciled, obedience of one of the principles means disobedience on its complementing principle, the vice versa is also true. The classic example of this is Antigone who by obeying inhuman laws of a state disobeyed the laws of humanity. This is the same principle in all the religion martyrs, by obeying their religious principles; they disobeyed the rules of their oppressors. After the rebellion of the animals in the animal farm, the animals obeyed the principles in the philosophy of Animalism but they disobeyed Mr. Jones rules. Fromm concludes that those who obey without disobeying are slaves, an example of Boxer in the animal farm. Those who only disobey without obeying are rebels. In the Animal Farm Snowball was seen as a rebel.
The word conscience was used by Fromm, to explain two perceptions that are different from each other, authoritarian conscience and the humanistic conscience. The authoritarian conscience, is that inner voice which most people listen to and to which they obey and are eager to please and afraid to displease. It can also be called the conscience, or the super-ego. The humanistic conscience is present in all human beings. It is that intuitive knowledge that guides everyone to recognize what is human and what is inhuman and how to differentiate what makes up favorable life and what brings up destructive life. Though the humanistic conscience is internal, it is still an external obedience as the conscience has been internalized debilitate by the principles of power. This obedience weakens the humanistic conscience and reducing ones conscientiousness and the power for self judgment. This is what happened to the pigs in the Animal Farm, their conscientiousness was weakened such that they could no longer recognize when they were mistreating their fellow animals.
It is possible and true that obedience can be as a result of sheer forces. However this may have its disadvantages in that it is always under a threat of the majority overthrowing the minority through force. Again the fact that everything is being done out of fear may mean that there is so much that is not being done. Hence people should be taught to obey from their hearts and not to obey by force. They should learn to obey because they want to and not just obey because they are afraid to disobey. In the Animal Farm, immediately after the rebellion, the animals worked together, they obeyed the seven commandments without fear. As a result the farms produces increased. However as Napoleons rule became dictatorial, the other animals obeyed just out of fear. The production of the farm was affected and the produces were lower. Obedience is a virtue though not at all times. Obedience can only be called a virtue only after power is “Always Good, of All the Wise and becoming All Knowing”, and only then can disobedience be called sin.
Fromm, Erich. “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem ”. 1963. 22 November, 2010. < http://www.mrrena.com/cutecast/cutecast.pl?forum=5&thread=27>.Orwell, George. “The Animal Farm”. 1956. New York: Signet