Many have argued that it is obedience, as opposed to aggression, that
explains the Nazi horrors (Miale and Selzer 10). This myth merely
provides an excuse for those who willingly participated and obeyed the
government. Accordingly, one can exemplify the virtue of adherence to
orders when following superior orders which permit personal goals of
wealth, status, power and providing for ones family. However, this does
not excuse genocide and evil.
Logically, one must ask if the authoritative command permits a
relaxation of internal restraints, thereby releasing the aggressive
impulse (Dimsdale 335-336). Then aggression, as opposed to obedience,
becomes the rational and justification for such tragedy. The
interpretation is supported by the fact that without external sanction,
all subjects administered a far lower level of shock. Without such an
external stimulus, mainly, an invitation to do greater violence to
another human being, the potential obedients aggressive drives were
According to Milgram, in a wicked world decent people act wickedly. However, according to the latter argument for agression, in a wicked world people act in a wicked way yet justify themselves on the grounds of obedience. Does the latter challenge the notion that the Nazi leaders, while perpetrators of extraordinary evil, were normal people? Are they identified as psychotic and psychopathic? No. That the Nazis perhaps gave in to their wicked ways merely substantiates the dual nature of humankind. Their wicked actions illustrate that they chose evil. Ultimately, evil cannot be justified on the basis of obedience or responsibility. People are conscious of and responsible for not only what they intend to do, but all that they do. And it is the deeds that define the person and their nature.