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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Collective guilt

On June 8, my favourite Dutch columnist wrote about the Russian President not being invited for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. He quoted the words of the French historian Denis Peschanski: "Not inviting Putin is a way for humiliating an entire nation". In my remark, I stated that the notion of collective guilt is indeed a weird phenomenon in our culture.

Anti-Judaism, rather than anti-semitism (my 2016 blog), is another example of collective guilt. Moreover, its origin is still opaque and even dates centuries before the death of Christ. On the other hand, Germans are slowly shaking of their self-induced feeling of collective guilt for World War 1 and World War 2 (eg, Atlantic-2014Independent-2010Wiki).

On June 28, newspaper Trouw reported that the Dutch support for climate policies is deteriorating fast while climate concerns are still growing. Until late 2018, there was little doubt on the human accountability and responsibility for climate change. This faith changed once the Dutch government introduced new and/or increased existing taxes (eg, Dutch News).

Theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988) once stated: "Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt" (eg, 1956 Caltech talk, Brain Pickings-2015). Hence, it makes perfect sense that several contemporary scientists have argued that climate change is the new Religion because climate change has become a matter of faith rather than doubt (eg, my blog).

Until today, I had not realised that this faith in human induced climate change might be related to feelings of collective guilt (eg, Medium-2019). Feelings of guilt & shame and regret & remorse are familiar in any religion. This even makes me wonder what came first: guilt over - or faith in - human induced climate change? I suppose guilt led to faith rather than vice versa.

The fact that (Dutch) support for (the cost of) climate change policies is now plummeting shows that this faith (in man-made climate change) is actually a belief. Faith does not suffer from taxation. Also see my blogs: Climate change - science as a belief system (2015) and A new belief: man-made climate change (2016).

I do not believe in (full) human accountability - moral or otherwise - for climate change. Climate change is far too complex for human accountability. However, I do understand, do appreciate, and do believe in the moral human responsibility for addressing climate change. Rethinking of urbanisation (eg, sea-side mega-cities) would be an excellent start (eg, my 2016 blog).

Some quotes on collective guilt:
  • Edmund Burke (1729-1797): “I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people.” (GoodReads-1);
  • Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997): “As for the concept of collective guilt, I personally think that it is totally unjustified to hold one person responsible for the behavior of another person or a collective of persons.” (GoodReads-2);
  • Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993): "I don't believe in collective guilt, but I do believe in collective responsibility" (BrainyQuote). 

Guilty Conscience (1999) by Eminem featuring Dr. Dre


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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