Psychologist Erich Fromm tried to make sense of why people who had suffered in the Great Depression relinquished so many liberties by elevating the Nazis to power. He came to decide that the most basic human dilemma is the conflict of freedom vs. security. Even as toddlers, we want freedom to explore and try new things but we also want to feel safe and secure. In the wake of 9/11, people gave up some liberties in order to free safer against the serious threat of terrorism.
“...modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.” - Fromm in his classic 1941 book Escape from Freedom, known as The Fear of Freedom outside North America.
I asked people on Facebook and Twitter whether they would prefer a button that says FREEDOM or a button that says SECURITY. Overwhelmingly they expressed a preference for FREEDOM. Do they contradict Fromm or was that simply because I related it to a movie? I didn't even say which movie, but my social media audience will tend to know I write and edit books about these superheroes and their stories (e.g., Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology).
Have things changed, or do people simply think they would favor security despite the greater tendency (as Fromm believed) to act in favor of security when pushed to make a choice? Maybe I just happen to have more #TeamCap than #TeamTony or #TeamIronMan fans in my social media followings. In the film Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers (Cap) leads superheroes who resist international efforts to regulate the Avengers. Heroes on his side fight to maintain their independence and stay free to step in when they see a need instead of answering to bureaucrats. Tony Stark (Iron Man), suffering guilt over his own action's consequences, leads other superheroes who believe they should be held accountable for their actions. Who's right? Is this really about Erich Fromm's basic human dilemma?
I'm not kidding about how overwhelmingly people chose FREEDOM over SECURITY. See for yourself.
So what's the verdict? Is this nonrepresentative sample wrong?
Which would YOU choose?