The Genocidal Killer In The Mirror” By Crispin Sartwell And Erich Fromm’s Disobedience As A Psychological And Moral Problem

1586 words - 6 pages

In the pursuit of safety, acceptance, and the public good, many atrocities have been committed in places such as Abu Ghraib and My Lai, where simple, generally harmless people became the wiling torturers and murderers of innocent people. Many claim to have just been following orders, which illustrates a disturbing trend in both the modern military and modern societies as a whole; when forced into an obedient mindset, many normal and everyday people can become tools of destruction and sorrow, uncaringly inflicting pain and death upon the innocent.
Two articles, in particular, help clarify and explain this trend. The first is “The Genocidal Killer in the Mirror” by Crispin Sartwell, who explains how so many average people can be turned into hordes of willing and eager killers. In the case of Rwandan, Sartwell notes how the Hutu government ordered the mass-killings of the Tutsis for the “greater good” of it’s people, forcing the people to see the Tutsis as schemers and assassins to prevent personal injury to themselves and their loved ones. The other article, was Erich Fromm’s “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem”, in which Fromm illustrates how many can be forced into becoming an automatized man, who simply does as he is told by his superiors, allowing him to become a killer without conscience. Fromm also discusses the importance of group mentality upon morality, and how when subjects are viewed as a group, they can be demonized and easily passed off as subhuman. Though both Crispin Sartwell’s article “The Genocidal Killer in the Mirror” and Erich Fromm’ piece “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem” are from two vastly different time periods, the Cold War era with its apocalyptic fears and the post- Cold War age of terrorism and insurgency, they both show how men, when led to believe that they serve the greater good and their own personal interests, will commit any crime or injustice in order to remain safe and comfortable in their society. This similarity reveals a disturbing trend in modern society; that those who become completely obedient can easily become willing murderers in the name of keeping themselves and their communities safe.
Men are drawn to authority as they are drawn to the light of a fire. Indeed, those who appear to hold power provide much the same type of comfort to men; safety and warmth, along with a place to rest. Governing powers can take many forms, that of a deity, of a person, of a concept or ideal. When authority is given to a higher authority, men immediately believed they are absolved of responsibility and guilt, allowing them to commit acts that would be condemned under other circumstances. Fromm sates “As long as I am obedient to the power of the State, the Church, or public opinion…I cannot commit a sin” (262). He goes on to further explain how the case of Adolf Eichmann, the man who signed orders to send millions to death during the Holocaust, illustrates this concept. Eichmann was...

Find Another Essay On The Genocidal Killer in the Mirror” by Crispin Sartwell and Erich Fromm’s Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem

Civil Disobedience and the Bible Essay

1015 words - 4 pages following the law. You could go to jail, be put on restraint, have something taken away, etc. There are a number of other consequences that could be given to someone for disobeying a law. The Bible talks about obedience. When Solomon and his workers followed God’s instructions, the Temple work was blessed by God and completed pretty much perfectly. In Leviticus 26:3-4, God said, “If you (the Israelites) keep my laws and are careful to

Mirror, Mirror in the Soul Essay

799 words - 3 pages to improve. We will explore some tools that will present us with solutions to this conundrum. We often look at ourselves through our built in psychological mirror and lie. Honest self-evaluation can hurt, but in this game, there is no gain without pain. Belief and fact are often victims of convenient substitution. We like label our beliefs as facts when it fits our wants or needs. Our inner dialogue is a strange juxtaposition of persuasiveness

Truth, Illusion, and Examination in Sylvia Plath's The Mirror

663 words - 3 pages planted throughout the poem cannot be categorized as universal. There are no Biblical, historical, or cultural allusions. Instead Plath communicates the instantaneous miracle of reflection by saying "whatever I see I swallow immediately, just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike." This description alerts the reader to the sense of duty felt by the mirror to stay true to its subject and its unfailing ability to do so. The fault therefore lies in the

Discuss the importance of the 'mirror' in psychoanalytic terms with reference to Lacan's theory of the mirror stage and Angela Carter's short story 'Flesh and the Mirror'

1829 words - 7 pages chain' is constantly in play and ultimately refers to nothing; if it were so, then it would guarantee some kind of meaning. Like a dictionary, you would always be lead to more and more signifiers when you look up a signifier. One signifier is what it is because it's not something else.In Flesh and the Mirror by Angela Carter, the subject demonstrates signs of the entry into then out of the Mirror Stage as theorised by Lacan. I must stress here

The Media as a Mirror of the Asian-American Women

1460 words - 6 pages American women after the mid-1900s. Like the Germans saw their China dolls as lifeless toys that children could play with, the media (and of course, the audience) saw the Asian American women as submissive toys that men, especially white men, could sexually exploit. Why does it matter? Media is a mirror that unfaithfully reflects the nature of the society. According to the famous psychiatrist, Jacques Lecan, the “mirror stage,” in which one

Opinion and Commentary to "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara

675 words - 3 pages peculiar madness of this civil war.After reading this powerful, exciting novel one assumes that whenever cultures clash, there will be a final conflict. By showing the reader what the principals of this great battle were (and may have been) current thinking on multiculturalism are highlighted in a new and perplexing way. This was a great feet for a book written in 1974 to be so magnificent.The Killer Angels has been made into a five hour long motion

Questions and Answers from The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

761 words - 3 pages ? What qualities do we observe in him? 9. Discuss the importance placed on the rules of conduct for a soldier, or chivalry from Longstreet's view. Chapter 2- Buford 10. Describe Buford's successful strategies in repelling the Confederate advance. 11. Explain the concept of "fighting against brothers" as presented in this chapter. Chapter 3- Lee 12. Discuss the difference in battle strategies that Lee and Longstreet have. Chapter

State a moral problem in your Organization. From a theoretical perspective discuss and suggest a solution

1596 words - 6 pages undertaken from a sense of duty dictated by reason, and that no action performed for expediency or solely in obedience to law or custom can be regarded as moral. Kent stresses that a moral act is one done for moral reasons. Two types of commands given by reason, as described by Kent are hypothetical imperative, which dictates a given course of action to reach a specific end and the categorical imperative, which states a course of action that must be

man in the mirror

994 words - 4 pages .” (www.observer.com/Julie Barer) In “A Moveable Feast” I get the sense that Hemingway makes Hadley seem like she was a pushover, standing up for herself or showing any reaction when it came to his affair or really anything. He portrayed her as if she had no ambition for life, other than to stand by Ernest. He painted a picture of Hadley as if she was nothing without him, and she continually reminded herself that. Later on towards the end of the

Look in the Mirror

945 words - 4 pages Fern must have come out of her class for a drink of water or something, all I know is that there she was and she did NOT have a happy look on her face. I don't remember what scolding words she used to express her displeasure at finding me goofing off instead of in my Sunday school class and I don't remember the exact words I used in response but it was something like "At least I don't smoke". I remember the hurt and embarrassed look in her eye as

The Biological, Social, and Artistic Construction of a Serial Killer

2448 words - 10 pages . A British philosopher, G.H. Lewes, noted that, " Murder, like talent, seems occasionally to run in families" (1,2). The observation, while loosely empirical in nature, has proven common enough to catalyze widespread research to identify a genetic factor resulting in a behavioral predisposition to violence. As yet, no single gene that unequivocally stimulates socially maladaptive aggression and violence has been isolated (1). However, several

Similar Essays

Disobedience As A Psychological And Moral Problem By Erich Fromm

1021 words - 5 pages Necessary Rebellion Erich Fromm is a psychoanalyst and sociologist who wrote many books and journals over the years. Fromm closely studied other psychologists such as Freud and Marx, and he published analytical works on both many other theories. In his essay, “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem,” Fromm explains that as humans we start out with disobedience, and make it into something horrible—something for which we must repent

The Courage And Strength In All Quiet On The Western Front By Erich Maria Remarque

2537 words - 10 pages The Courage and Strength in All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque As I enter my last week as a twenty-year-old, I find myself nostalgically looking back on the past two decades while wondering what life has in store for me over the next two. Where will I be in twenty years? What will I have accomplished? Where will I be living? Will I be married? Have chil… wait a minute, no, that one will have to wait a few more years

Art As A Mirror On The Consciousness

1997 words - 8 pages said that a painting brings into visual reality, or defines, a given emotional state within a culture or society. This is not a modern thought, but can be seen in some of the oldest existing paintings known. As long ago as 30,000 years, humans created images of their surroundings. Although painted thousands of years ago, the images in caves, such as Lascaux of Chauvet, offer the same sorts of problems and questions that are applied to contemporary

"All Quiet On The Western Front" By Erich Maria Remarque Describe And Comment On Life In The German Trenches During World War One On The Western Front, As Depicted In The Novel

1026 words - 4 pages Life in the German trenches during World War I on the Western Front is appalling, unbearable and horrendous, as depicted in the novel "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque. This was because of many reasons, such as the unsanitary living conditions that the soldiers had to endure, the death and destruction that surrounded them, and the affects of the war and fighting that physically and mentally scared them for life.The