Thursday, 24 November 2011
Psychopathic Groups and Moral Individuals
"The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behaviour ... As individuals, men believe they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command."
Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society
Let me offer this Niebuhr quote as a piecemeal bit of support for my argument in my previous post. A glance at Kierkegaard, with his polemics against the 'crowd' and his emphasis on the category of the individual, also confirms my conclusions (if not the way I get to them.) Crispin Sartwell's idea of a 'credibility index' seems related as well.
I suppose I should clarify that I'm arguing for the amorality of groups as opposed to actual people: individuals like you and the people you love. There's a popular argument - and a documentary? - that says that if corporations are people, they're psychopaths. Well, I agree, but why stop there? Governments are no less psychopathic, for the same reasons.