Of Collective Punishment
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
The key battle of ideas is (and in modern times has always been) between collectivism and individualism. Gentle reader, you know which side I favour.
We have a problem though. Humans are pack animals, hard-wired to approve of those who sacrifice for the greater good of family, friends or nation. I am as thorough an individualist as you could hope to meet, yet everything in my own life that I am proud of involved serving the interests of others.
It's all too easy to denigrate individualism as selfishness.
Collectivists play on those instincts with their constant talk of "community" but their collectivism is not about kindness and willing self-sacrifice. It may have always taken a village to raise a child, but only willing villagers of whom the parents approved were involved. When that homely expression is used by those seeking to disempower parents and force state intervention, it should be seen for the cynical propaganda it is.
Some people are brown, black or white. Some people are gay, some straight and some trans. Humans espouse a wide range of religious faiths and some have none. Within those groups there is such a range of morality, productiveness and creativity that they simply don't – except in rare cases where they face a common threat – function as communities. They don't think or act as one unit. There is no reason why they should.
To use the modern jargon, their identities as member of one or other group intersect with all the other ways they think of themselves (and others think of them). Those intersections are not only on the lines approved by woke academia. They also intersect with all their other – far more important – characteristics; such as their kindness, generosity, morality, prudence, wisdom, industry and knowledge.
It's all far more complicated than collectivists would have us believe. So complicated that the only sensible way to treat everyone we meet – whatever their visible or claimed attributes – is as someone who might turn out to be anything (or nothing) to us – i.e. as an individual. The only rational way to deal with a new human is quietly to assess what Dr King called "the content of their character" and then behave accordingly.
Collectivists simplify hatefully in order to justify their love of force. Collectivists pioneered the concept of the hate crime and constantly accuse opponents of hatred. Given their constant attempt to set group against group, it's hard not to think the whole concept is largely projection.
A gay criminal should be (and I am sure, is) no less a criminal to another gay person. If you're black you don't (and should not be able to) expect the unconditional approval of other black people. The only reason these "communities" are spoken of so constantly is that collectivists want to move them as pawns on the political chessboard.
There are undoubted political efficiencies in this. On average black and brown Britons are more socially conservative than white ones. Judging by the number of small businesses run by ethnic minorities, I'd venture to guess that more of them are economically conservative too. Yet the Labour Party has played the race card so effectively that it's caught in unguarded racist moments saying someone was only "superficially black", because he'd left their political reservation. All over the Western World, collectivist parties behave as if the votes of ethnic minorities are their property. Indeed as if the members of those minorities are themselves their property.
In the end, the serious danger of collectivism and its "identity politics" is that it leads to demands for collective punishment. No-one uses that dreadful expression because it brings to mind totalitarians in history punishing kulaks, Jews or others deemed enemies of their cause indiscriminately. The favoured euphemism for collective punishment now is "social justice", which is always – without exception and by definition– unjust.
True justice looks at the actions and intentions of individuals and decides on their individual guilt or innocence. Social justice says "Group A hurt Group B and all members of Group A must pay" – even the descendants of the alleged wrong-doers who could not – rightly understood – be any more innocent.
If you follow an ideology that justifies the punishment of innocents among a class, race or creed just because of their membership of that group, you have gone morally astray. Your ideology is – in your own terms– a hate crime.