Obey! And Pay!

Obey! And Pay!

"OBEY" is a fashion line created by street artist, graphic designer, activist and illustrator Shepard Fairey who is most recognized for the 2008 Barack Obama "Hope" poster. "OBEY" draws from the must-see 1988 John Carpenter movie They Live. I have to note that I am not a fan of Fairey for his commercialization of ideas and images inspired from social movements. His fashion line even made it to Dalyan, Turkey, where this photo was taken.

Obedience, on the other hand, is a serious issue. Defined as behavior in which a person yields to instructions or orders from an authority figure, obedience is related to compliance, conformity, complacency, and complicity. The well-known and widely studied Milgram Experiments revealed that people have a tendency to obey authority figures even when fundamental standards of morality and their own conscience is compromised. Milgram used his experiments to explain how, during the Nazi era, so many Germans became complicit in Nazi crimes (although not all in the scientific community agree with his conclusions). This and other experiments seem to indicate that people who are resistant to obeying authority have higher levels of Social Intelligence.

Traditionally, obedience was regarded to be a "virtue" in many cultures. Obedience to parents, elders, spouses, leaders, bosses and other authority figures is still widely expected behavior in most societies. Disobedience - even respectful disagreement or nonviolent resistance - continues to be culturally shunned and authoritatively "punished" at varying levels. And most disturbingly, especially in the last few decades, obedience has taken the form of self-censorship; We no longer admit to being obedient, we rationalize obedience by calling it self-censorship or self-interest.

As the global economy and the global environment decays further, society will increasingly split into the obedient vs. the disobedient. The obedient will defend the hijacked authority and power structures, despite their own interests and the well-being of society. The disobedient will be marginalized, singled-out and punished. We are potentially heading towards a new manifestation of fascism, but this time it's global. The world economy has been hijacked by a global elite class which renders governments - even democratically elected ones - ineffective. "Economic growth" is prioritized over "economic justice" and the very ecology which sustains life itself. Even though global warming is posing an imminent existential threat, no serious action is being taken by any governmental or international body.

Intelligence is probably best defined as the ability to do what's simultaneously best for oneself and for society. Intelligence implies inquisitiveness, being well-informed and cooperation - not obedience. An intelligent person defers to authority only selectively, after serious consideration, but never obeys authority.
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