Chapter 8: The Head Is Compulsory, but Not the Cap
But the question is not your ego; the question is the act that you have to do - and you have to bring your total intelligence to figure it out. If it is right, then be obedient; if it is wrong, be disobedient. But there is no conflict, there is no hurt feeling. If you are obeying it, it is easier; you need not explain to anybody. But if you are not obeying it, then you owe an explanation. And perhaps your explanation is not right. Then you have to move back, you have to do it. A man should live intelligently - that’s all. Then whatever he does is his responsibility.
It happens that even great intellectuals are not living intelligently. Martin Heidegger, one of the greatest intellectuals of this age, was a follower of Adolf Hitler. After Adolf Hitler’s defeat and the exposure of his basic animality, brutality, murderousness, violence, even Martin Heidegger shrank back and said, “I was simply following the leader of the nation.”
A philosopher has no business to follow the leader of the nation. In fact a philosopher’s basic duty is to guide the leaders of the nation, not to be guided by them, because he is out of active politics, his vision is more clear. He is standing aloof, he can see things which people who are involved in action cannot see.
It is easy to throw responsibility.. If Adolf Hitler had been victorious, I am certain Martin Heidegger would have said, “He is victorious because he followed my philosophy.” Certainly he was a great intellectual compared to Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler was just a retarded person. But power..
We have been brought up to follow the powerful - the father, the mother, the teacher, the priest, the God. Essentially whoever has the power is right: “Might is right.” And you have to follow it. It is simple because it needs no intelligence. It is simple because you can never be told that it was your responsibility, that whatever happened was your responsibility.
In all the armies around the world only one thing is taught through years of training, and that is obedience. In Germany, in the second world war, there were good people, but they were heads of concentration camps. They were good fathers, good husbands, good friends. Nobody could have conceived - watching them in their families, with their friends, in the club - that these people were burning thousands of Jews every day.
And they were not feeling guilty at all, because it was only an order from above. That was their whole training, that you have to follow the order. It has become part of their blood and bones and marrow. When the order comes, obedience is the only way.
This is how man has lived up to now, and that’s why I say obedience is one of the greatest crimes, because all other crimes are born out of it. It deprives you of intelligence, it deprives you of decisiveness, it deprives you of responsibility. It destroys you as an individual. It converts you into a robot.
Hence I am all for disobedience. But disobedience is not just against obedience. Disobedience is above obedience and the so-called disobedience described in the dictionaries. Disobedience is simply the assertion of your intelligence: “I take the responsibility, and I will do everything that feels right to my heart, to my being. And I will not do anything that goes against my intelligence.”