Why Are Some People Prone to Obey?

Despite mounting evidence indicating that the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, will, in fact, harm seniors; that the "stimulus" has been "nothing more than a political slush fund"; and that the myriad of regulations by Obama has stymied the economy, many Americans still persist in defending these actions.  The denial of high unemployment, burgeoning tax rates to begin in a few weeks, and the general decline of the United States is breathtaking. 

Moreover, from "the outset, the Obama administration's handling of the most sensitive secrets of the war on terror has been worrisome."  On the one hand, our enemies learn about our intelligence.  On the other hand, a cloud of secrecy and obfuscation lingers over the serious Fast and Furious agenda and the Benghazi events.  Astonishingly, Congressman Jason Chaffetz has been "thwarted" by the State Department in contacting the survivors of the Benghazi attack.  Thus, Congress has been denied access to these people, and the American public continues to be kept in the dark notwithstanding the alleged transparency claimed by the Obama administration.

Economists politely wonder why Mr. Obama doesn't come around and see the light and admit that his plans are not assisting America.  Others like Bill Whittle state that Obama's incompetence is not the reason for our fiscal insanity; rather, the people running this country are (actively) trying to destroy the country, and they are succeeding.  Thus, it is with malice aforethought that Obama and his cronies are bringing America to its knees.

Through outright bribes, there are those who have accepted Obama's actions.  For example, Mary Landrieu and Louisiana received $100 million, California received $300 million, and Big Labor had goodies tucked away in the health bill so that all these people and entities would support it.  

Then there are those die-hards who will fall over the cliff simply because of their allegiance to Obama's racial background.  They view it as absolute disloyalty to question the man's actions because that would make them turncoats in their own eyes.

It is truly puzzling to see people hurt their own interests and reject the evidence.  It is surely an extreme example of "The Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome.

What makes people act this way?  One answer may be found in Erich Fromm's 1963 piece "Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem."  Written during the aftermath of the heinous Nazi period, Fromm wonders, "[W]hy is man so prone to obey and why is it so difficult for him to disobey?"  He concludes:

As long as I am obedient to the power of the State, the Church, or public opinion, I feel safe and protected.  In fact, it makes little difference what power it is that I am obedient to.  It is always an institution, or men, who use force in one form or another and who fraudulently claim omniscience and omnipotence. My obedience makes me part of the power I worship, and hence I feel strong.  I can make no error, since it decides for me; I cannot be alone, because it watches over me; I cannot commit a sin, because it does not let me do so, and even if I do sin, the punishment is only the way of returning to the almighty power.

After reading this, I am reminded of Jamie Foxx calling Obama "our lord and savior."  And, in fact, this "messianic tone" surrounding Obama has been ongoing since 2008.  Obama has been called an apostle of God, and people have been mesmerized into accepting his omnipotence without question.

The Democrats who overwhelmingly supported ObamaCare were clearly obeying the State because it made them "part of the power."  Now that they have become aware of the burdensome parts of the law, they are asking for waivers.  They have not learned to say "no" to power.  Instead, they are supplicants in a bid for the State to grant them their desires.  If Obama grants them and others who wish to be absolved of the onerous taxes, then clearly they are returning "to the almighty power" and will continue to feed it. 

In 1936, Walter Lippmann wrote in The Good Society1:

... the people have had it fixed in their minds that the state possesses a magical power to provide an abundant life.  They have come gradually to think that their expectations may be as great as their government is powerful; that the stronger the government, the more certainly it can satisfy their heart's desires.  After a while, when the doctrine is completely dominant in the popular mind, a point is reached where men cease to feel that there is any vital connection between production and consumption, between work and wealth.

It is no longer labor, but the law, the force of the state, the might of the government, that is looked upon as the source of material well-being. 

The belief in this miracle is due to an optical illusion.  The power of the state, as such, produces nothing: it can only redistribute that which has been produced

The optical illusion arises because men mistake for the production of wealth the enrichment of those who take the tolls.

While most people would view the obedience to authority as the reason for the atrocities committed under Hitler or Stalin, we need to consider that obedience to the 44th president's ideology has many parallels.  Fromm asserts:

... not only is the capacity for disobedience the condition for freedom; freedom is also the condition for disobedience.  If I am afraid of freedom, I cannot dare to say 'no,' I cannot have the courage to be disobedient.  Indeed, freedom and the capacity for disobedience are inseparable; hence any social political, and religious system, which proclaims, freedom, yet stamps out disobedience, cannot speak the truth.

We now live in a country where too many are zombies.  They have not learned the lessons of history, of true civil disobedience, and instead value their "Obamaphone" more than a life built on hard work and success.

Young people with limited vocabulary, narrow ideas, and little to no curiosity to learn about current events do not understand the troubling power of euphemisms.  Instead, they fall for the disingenuous notion of fairness without noting the specious logic of Obama's call for equality.  Their glazed-over looks and impatient sighs when someone tries to tell them about communism and socialism bespeak their voluntary loss of freedom.  Sadly, when they are forced to obtain more part-time jobs as a consequence of ObamaCare, they will have even less time to think about the world around them. 

They need to be reminded, as Jasper Becker has done, that in communist China, for example, "the initiated Party elite knew that its promises to give peasants land and freedom were lies.  And [the Party] knew that seizing all property could only be done by deploying the utmost violence and terror."

Markets can be unfeeling and irrational, [yet] without them individual life has no value.  Although [Chinese] officials used every means to root out the feeblest trace of 'capitalism,' they failed.

... a utopia without money or private property led straight to slavery and cannibalism[.]

So much for Mao's famous egalitarianism.

What to do?  Fromm maintains that "in order to disobey, one must have the courage to be alone, to err, and to sin.  But courage is not enough.  The capacity for courage depends on a person's state of development."  By constantly coddling this new generation through the entitlements mentality -- e.g., affirmative action -- we have effectively created a not fully formed citizenry, just ripe for the likes of Obama. 

As Fromm notes, "[a]t this point in history the capacity to doubt, to criticize, and to disobey may be all that stands between a future for mankind and the end of civilization."

It must be an unrelenting act of disobedience that will rein in the excesses of the Obama machine of many "man-made disasters"!

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com.

1Walter Lippmann.  The Good Society.  Little, Brown and Company, 1950.  pp. 128-129.