On David Swanson’s Disobey or Die

There is a clear distinction between Intelligent Disobedience and Civil Disobedience; the former may lead to the latter, but not necessarily. Intelligent Disobedience is resistance to specific orders that would produce harm; it may be done quietly though firmly. Civil Disobedience is publicly visible action to disrupt and bring attention to unjust laws and systems in an attempt to provoke society to change them.

David Swanson chooses to blur this distinction in the article Disobey or Die. Nevertheless, he has correctly understood and spiritedly applies many of the lessons I distill from Stanley Milgram’s experiments on Obedience in my book, Intelligent Disobedience. Even more fundamentally, he correctly lifts up the need for more personal accountability and for less unthinking conformity in our culture, or in any culture. You may or may not agree with his world view but I encourage you to let his call to challenge complacency stir your thinking and prime you for principled responses to the world around you.

Disobey or Die
Article by David Swanson
published Oct 28, 2016


Ira Chaleff’s book, Intelligent Disobedience, re-examines the lessons of the Milgram and Stanford prison experiments, and other more recent demonstrations of the severe dangers of uncritical obedience. Chaleff highlights some techniques that can facilitate intelligent refusals to obey.

On David Swanson’s Disobey or Die
2015 © Ira Chaleff Publications