We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

There is only one type of morality

Several blogs have also picked up on Janet Daly’s article that Brian Micklethwait mentioned at length earlier on Samizdata.net. However the section of Daly’s piece which attracted my attention was not the section that Brian quoted:

Collectivism involves giving up your autonomy and your moral responsibility to the group. In practice, in modern political economy, that means giving them up to the state. There is nothing inherently good or ethical about this. But that is a wildly unfashionable thing to say – just like saying “No” to the euro used to be.

The way I see it, writing “there is nothing inherently good or ethical about this”, whilst most certainly true, really misses the point as it looks at the question from the wrong direction. There is something inherently bad and unethical about giving up your autonomy and your moral responsibility to the group. In fact it is completely impossible to transfer moral responsibility: that is why a soldier can be tried for any war crime that they carry out regardless of the fact they were only ‘following orders’ from their duly constituted superiors. The entire concept of ‘group morality’ is an absurdity. Individual morality is the only morality.

It does not matter what anyone else does or what ‘permissions’ you are given by family, religion or state, you are morally responsible for your actions. For it to be otherwise you must be quite literally insane.

4 comments to There is only one type of morality

  • Andrew Rettek

    How would one “destroy” a group? How does one prevent the members from forming a new group slightly different from the old one(say with a new name)?

  • I do not understand what you are getting at… I was just saying that being a member of a group does not absolve one from moral responsibility for ones action. That is not the same as saying this or that group needs to be destroyed, which is a rather different issue.

  • “morally responsible for your actions”

    The anti-slogan for the “me” generation. Or, if you will, the slogan for the “me” generation:

    “You are morally responsible to allow me all of my rights, freedoms, passions and desires regardless of who I inconvenience in the process.”

  • Just like Perry with the first comment, I do not understand what Steve is driving at. Unless you are morally responsible for your actions, you are not an autonomous individual. Moral reponsibility is the opposite of limiting autonomy of other people: if you harm someone, you will be deemed accountable for your act. Moral responsibility means that both your act and you will be condemned and you will be required to accept and endure the consequences of your actions.

    This has nothing to do with the kind of ‘obligations’ arguably corresponding to ‘rights’ that Tranzis are so fond of imposing on those that have some vestiges of individuality… ‘Me’-generation, whatever it means, is a modern phenomenon, whereas moral responsibility is at least 2000 years old, if not more.