Sunday, May 19, 2024


The race for the most nuclear warheads has made powerful states possess atomic weapons to destroy the planet earth several times. But what keeps them from pressing the spring?

Author: Xhelal Neziri


In 1944 when Adolf Hitler saw that he would lose the war, which he had opened on all fronts, he briefly asked the Nazi general Dietrich von Choltitz: Is Paris burning?

Hitler had ordered his subordinate to defend with all his forces the capital of France, which was occupied by Germany. At the same time, he had ordered that Paris be mined on all sides in order to destroy it in the event that control over this city would be lost.

“Paris must not fall into the hands of the enemy (England and the USA) except as a field of ruins,” Hitler had ordered.

But Von Choltitz, who had run the French capital as Nazi governor, refused to do so. He didn’t press the spring that would blow up the whole city. Although he was later held responsible for many crimes, he is often known as the “Savior of Paris”.

Disobeying Hitler’s insane orders has saved many lives and the beautiful city of Paris.

Today the world seems to be facing another destroyer, similar to Hitler. The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has warned that he may use nuclear weapons in the war started in Ukraine. His propagandists often repeat the rhetorical question: What is needed a world without Russia?

Russia is the country with the largest number of nuclear warheads in the world. A defeat by Ukraine would perhaps prompt Putin to consider using these weapons. There are experts who have also questioned his mental state. Even Hitler had many mental problems. There are even reports that he also consumed drugs. So it was unpredictable and devastating. He has closely observed the cities that were occupied and burned by his army. This has given him pleasure and fed his super-ego.

Nuclear weapons have remained largely dormant since 1945, when they were most recently used in Japan’s Hiroshima and Negasaki. Putin’s super-ego, penchant for restoring Russian pride, leadership as an autocratic leader, and fear of a Hitler-like end give little hope that conscience can work in him. This makes the darkest scenario possible – the one repeated by Putin’s propagandists.

But is there hope that, however, we will escape from the worst?


His disobedience to Putin’s crazy orders, like Von Choltitz’s to Hitler, can be a source of optimism. One of the most famous psychoanalysts of the twentieth century, Erich From, wrote about disobedience.

He recalls that for centuries authorities and parents have insisted that obedience is a virtue and that disobedience is a vice. But From opposes this education with the conclusion that “human history began with an act of disobedience and it is unlikely that it will end with an act of obedience”. He mentions the beginning of human history with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, or Prometheus in Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. But he points out that not all disobedience is good. It qualifies as harmful disobedience to international principles, morals and laws.

From further distinguishes two types of disobedience: one related to the concept of conscience and the other related to the concept of authority.

The authoritarian conscience, according to him, is the internalized voice of an authority within us that we wish to please. This consciousness is also the consciousness that Freud talks about, calling it “Super-Ego”. From says that, unlike authoritarian consciousness, it is humanistic consciousness. This, according to him, is the voice present in every human being and independent of external sanctions and rewards. “Humanistic consciousness is based on the fact that as human beings we have an intuitive knowledge of what is human and inhuman, what is conducive to life and what is destructive to life. This consciousness serves our functioning as human beings. It is the voice that calls us to ourselves, to our humanity”. Obedience to the authoritarian conscience within us, says From, tends to weaken the humanistic conscience.

Obedience to another person, however, according to From, is submission to an “irrational” or “rational” authority. Rational authority can be found in the relationship between student and teacher, and irrational authority – in the relationship between slave and master.

From says that obedience to authority makes people feel protected and safe. “There is another reason why it is so difficult to dare to disobey, to say “no” to power. For most of human history, obedience has been identified with virtue and disobedience with vice (sin). The reason is simple: so far for most of its history a minority has ruled over the majority. This rule was made necessary by the fact that the goods of life were guaranteed to the few, while only the crumbs remained for the majority. If the minority wanted to enjoy things, one condition was necessary: ​​to teach the majority to obey. To be sure, the minority can impose the belief even by force.”


The fear of the use of nuclear weapons has been permanent since the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union. In the last statement of the American president, Joe Biden, he warns of the danger of Armageddon, or the last human battle. Even former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Putin is not bluffing when he says he will use nuclear weapons.

In the essay titled “Creators and Destroyers” From 1963 deals with this issue.

He says that people have been indifferent to the danger that nuclear weapons can bring and he explains this in this way: “People are aware of the possibility of a nuclear war. They are aware of the devastation that such a war can bring. However, they apparently make no effort to avoid that war. Most of us are puzzled where this behavior comes from because we start from the premise that all people love life and fear death…Perhaps there are many people who are indifferent who actually do not love life (biophilia) but death (necrophilia) “.

The race for the most nuclear warheads has made powerful states possess atomic weapons to destroy the planet earth several times. But what keeps them from pressing the spring? Humanist disobedience and conscience. As crazy as Hitler was, General Von Choltitz did not press the button that would destroy Paris.

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