Collective responsibility: A cornerstone of totalitarianism

Ah, collective responsibility. I dismiss it because it makes no sense, and it drags unnecessary parties who have no role into an issue they may not even care about, often against their own will. Collective responsibility is the cornerstone of totalitarian governments. Any good society seeking submission and control would use guilt as a device to keep its subjects in line. This appears as a theme in Jean-Paul Sartre’s work, The Flies, in which Zeus’ minions, the Furies, represent the morbid and suffocating forces of neurotic guilt, and shame in our humanity, which bind us to authoritarian and totalitarian authority.

“For the good of everyone” is an ideal or justification for the existence of totalitarian systems, especially totalitarians, since they believe they do what they do for everyone’s sake, when really it’s all about total control. The ideal gives control to government to act “for the good of the people”, which is not only impossible, but also totally not good when you try. The worst thing about is that, as long as everyone shares responsibility, the originator of a crime can safely deny responsibility because everyone shares it.

Even in supposed democratic culture, collective responsibility can be a perpetuated ideal, in the sense everyone feels the same guilt over something. It does not empower the individual, rather it empowers the puppet-masters who use guilt, shame, and tragedy to manipulate the innocent and the gullible.

In contrast, individual responsibility places the individual as accountable for all his/her actions, no matter what influences those actions. You are in charge of and responsible for your actions, no one else. Take your pick as to which is more moral a thing.

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