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Thoughts on Responsibility

Imre von Soos

        "The 'common man' – writes C. G. Jung in the Spirit of Psychology – who is preponderantly a mass man, acts on the principle of realizing nothing, nor does he need to, because for him the only thing that commits mistakes is that vast anonymity conventionally known as the "State" or "Society". But once a man knows that he is, or should be, responsible, he feels responsible also for his psychic constitution, the more so the more clearly he sees what he would have to be in order to become healthier, more stable, and more efficient. Once he is on the way to assimilating the unconscious he can be certain that he will escape no difficulty that is an integral part of his nature. The mass man, on the other hand, has the privilege of being at all times "not guilty" of his social and political catastrophes in which the whole world is engulfed."

        I am using often this quotation, because it applies to many subjects. This time the key-word is "responsibility". Reinhold Niebuhr completes the foundation on which my essay is built:

        "The more consistent naturalistic versions of our culture are involved in the absurdity of ostensibly guarding the dignity of man while they actually deny the reality of a responsible self, by reducing human behaviour to the dimensions of "facts of nature" about which no moral judgments can be made since every human act is the consequence of some "sufficient cause".

        Removing the Marxian virus of preconditioned social thinking, let us re-examine the concepts of human rights and responsibilities.

        Man, every man, every living organism for that matter, carries the whole weight of his own existence and his own actions, regardless whether his actions are self-generated, or slovenly-slavishly followed. The individual who thinks, differs from the one of the mass without a shadow in the recognition and acceptance of this fact, which remains a fact, even if the great majority of so-called humanity does not accept it, firmly believing to have the privilege of being at all times "not guilty" of the social and political catastrophes in which through them the whole world became engulfed.

        Society, as it exists today, is a pseudo-holon, a conglomeration without any true identity of its own, but serves as a scapegoat of delegated responsibility for all human blunder: collective and individual. With uncanny juggling of moral values, the guilty is declared the victim, and is pampered – in the name of the Avatars – by the verdict of those secular and ecclesiastical potentates who are the only profiteers of this moral and spiritual absurdity.

        If a larger human society, like a nation, enters in an aggressive action against another, using arms, economic sanctions or embargos backed with the coercive intimidation with arms, four main groups can be distinguished inside that nation: the ones who initiate and actively approve the act, the ones who execute it, the ones who stay silent, and the ones who directly oppose the action. Incidentally, "the systematic intimidation as a method of governing or securing political or other ends" is the definition of terrorism in the dictionary. And the terrorist is a "person attempting to further his views or to rule by system of coercive intimidation". Thus any kind of coercion can be labeled as a terrorist act of higher or lesser degree. Quite obviously, only the weaker and the looser gets the label, while the winner, building its moral hegemony on the strength of its arms, comes out as the glorious guardian of the faith – whatever that faith might be – and Truth and Justice receive once more a slap in the face. Logically, the originators and active supporters are responsible for the aggression. Those who execute it, even if out of bovine obedience (a debasing word – a dehumanising action), have made it their aggression, their war, and are also fully responsible. But their joint number doesn't amount to much in a so-called democracy, where the "number" is represented by the "silent majority", the general public, the common man. This silent majority vindicates the privilege of being at all times "not guilty", mostly on the ground of "minding only their own business". And yet it is exactly this "silent majority" on whose silent cowardice and impotence all bona fide tyrannies are founded and maintained, because, in fact, they are that vast anonymity conventionally known as the "State" or "Society", and they are the ones who underwrite all aggressive actions with their silence. Consequently I propose, that they very well join the first two groups in responsibility, referring here not only to group-responsibility, but to direct individual responsibility also.

        Responsible they all are, yes, but are they all accountable, since every human act is supposed be the consequence of some "sufficient cause"? The first group, "dedicated to the proposition that massacre is a social virtue because murder is an individual vice" (e.e.cummings), justifies itself with "patriotism" and "loyalty". The second group excuses itself with "duty" and "discipline" and acting under higher command, and the consequence of submission to authority means the disappearance of the sense of responsibility and the negation of guilt. The third group, the mass, is so vast, that it can – by its own decree – shrug off any charge, and is so anonym, that each fraction of it can consider itself completely absolved from all personal responsibility. The unconditional and unquestioned submission to authority and the self-assertion through the characterless identification with the herd, are not noble spiritual virtues sprouted in the superconscious of self-transcendence, but base qualities, products of ignorance, conditioning and indoctrination reinforced by lower emotions, all sealed into the 'instincts' to be triggered off and surfaced as defined by authority. Note, that the mass can act freely, for it cannot be made responsible, while it belongs to the definition of a man, of a human being, that he acts responsibly.

        "To the man who is truly ethical – writes Albert Schweitzer in his "Reverence for Life" – all life is sacred including that which from the human point of view seems lower in the scale. He makes distinction only as each case comes before him, and under the pressure or necessity, as, for example, when it falls to him to decide which of two lives he must sacrifice in order to preserve the other. But all through this series of decisions he is conscious of acting on subjective grounds and arbitrarily, and knows that he bears the responsibility for the life which is sacrificed."

        The fourth group – evidently a small minority, otherwise the whole aggression couldn't happen – the conscientious objectors, the forthright opposition, who are acting on individual impulse, are the only "innocent victims", as all others have made the hostilities their own by their support, participation and silence, who deserve all the suffering of the consequences which they brought onto themselves.

        “Here is the responsible self in the collective life of mankind. – writes Reinhold Niebuhr – Insofar as nations even more, than individuals, never adequately meet the wider claim, the responsible self is also the guilty self. . . Men are inclined to make the worse appear to the better reason, not only unwittingly but wittingly. Ideology is a compound of ignorance and dishonesty. The dishonest element in it, the tendency of men to justify self-interest by making it appear identical with the common good, is an expression of the person and not of the mind. It betrays a corrupted will, which is a mystery with which rationalism does not deal."

        Irresponsibility reaches its nadir in human reproduction and upbringing.

        Human life – life with the potential of independent survival and positive life-value as a man – carries a quality and a standard; those who responsibly undertake the bringing an offspring to the world, must know beyond any reasonable doubt that they can provide both the biological – that is, genetical – and the environmental conditions to secure for him both the quality and the standard. This is a natural obligation, and forms part of the natural attitude on which any future system that is progressive, constructive and syntropic – evolutionary – will have to be built.

        About the genetical aspect I will only suggest that pre-conceptional and pre-natal examinations can ensure the procreation of good genotypes and phenotypes, for – as J. B. S. Haldane has put it – "we have a duty to beget and bear the best-endowed children possible."

        Environmental influences start in the uterus: physically through the kind of nutrition and poison the foetus receives, and psychically through the general state of mind and the sentiments the mother transmits towards it. The positive conditions must endure until the child’s coming of age.

        The parenthood family is the holon of reproduction, and the alimentation and education of the offsprings, where education includes the formation of personality, values and identities, and the transmission of knowledge and culture. The reproduction is a biological, the alimentation and education are social functions. They are inseparable and are the functions of the family. That without reproduction there is nobody to aliment or educate, is obvious to everybody; that without alimentation and education possibilities there should be no reproduction, to few. Being obvious, however, to all the other higher animals and many other vertebrates, there is a reasonable hope that it will become so also to Homo sapiens, at least to those humans who will want to continue as such. In all nature these responsibilities are vested in the family, as the unique forum suitable and capable to fulfill them. Whether this family consists of a female and her offsprings, or the male also forms part of it, or family groups are formed for the purpose of mutual co-operation also on the field of raising the offsprings, its fundamental roles, duties and privileges remain incontestable, as there is no other natural social form that could – even if partially – replace it. All substitutions have failed.

        Anybody who is instrumental in any way in the birth of any human – or of any being for that matter – carries the total responsibility to ensure conditions worthy for that life. This direct responsibility is not towards some phantom pseudo-society, but towards the individual life in question, and it has to materialize within the boundaries of "independent co-operation" and "personal privacy". Any "authority" – secular or ecclesiastic – that interferes with any individual decision in this reference, has to take over the entire material and moral responsibility to satisfy the above criterion. For nobody has got the right over anybody else's life, except the child – until it reaches maturity – over those who were instrumental in its arrival to this world.

        It is curious to note that exactly those hypocrites, clerical or mundane, who will quarrel violently for the sustentation and even creation of pseudo-human existences, will close their eyes, or even nod approvingly, when hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of healthy, life-worthy young men are drafted to be massacred in order to protect or further their sickly establishment.

        Supported by such widespread social obscenity, the majority of so-called humanity, lacking both natural intelligence and love, proliferate misery by irresponsibly over-producing genetically, inter-uterinally and early-environmentally handicapped offsprings, who never will be mentally or physically competitive, nor fit for independent existence in harmony with the All.

        Whatever the immediate cause is in the infinite chains and inter-relations of causes and effects, it comes – like everything else – from within each: both the responsibility and the consequent suffering rests with the individual.

        "The modern interpretation of human life and history – writes Reinhold Niebuhr – was a highly plausible evasion of some very inconvenient and embarrassing facts about human nature. It was an evasion both of the dimensions of responsibility in human nature and of the fact of guilt. It made man the judge of his world and of himself and seemed to free him from the scrutiny of a higher judgment. Above all it annulled and erased the indictment of guilt contained in that higher judgment. It refuted the embarrassing suspicion that man himself is the author of the historical evils which beset him. The whole structure of the modern interpretation of life and history was, in short, a very clever contrivance of human pride to obscure the weakness and the insecurity of man; of the human conscience to hide the sin into which man fall through their efforts to override their weakness and insecurity; and of human sloth to evade responsibility."

        But does he really evade it? This is a question without the thorough analysis of which the General System Research covers only part of the field. Because it turns around the question of the existence or not of a "higher judgment" and all that it implies. This means, in rational science, the research if there exists a spiritual dimension underlying the physical one, and if it does, defining its essence and laws of existence.

        Materialism, which is actually ruling science with the force of a fanatical religious dogma, negates ex cathedra any spiritual existence and accepts no proof in its favour, attributing any and all manifestation to material origin without being able to substantiate this standing, and declaring all opinion to the contrary to originate only from the fear of the finality of dying, from the desire of survival after physical death.

        But what if materialism itself is originating from the fear of a higher judgment, from the desire of being a judge of one’s world and of oneself and be free from the scrutiny of that higher judgment; of evading both the dimensions of responsibility in human nature and the fact of guilt? What if Schrödinger's proposition about the existence of a 'self' which ultimately 'controls the motions of an atom' is correct? What if the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox expressed in the Bell Theorem is true, which states that "after two particles have interacted, interference with one will instantly effect the other, regardless of the distance between them."? What if the "mysticism" of the quantum physicists is well-founded? What if the laws of reaction and compensation of the natural sciences are valid generally? What if the personal experiences of extrasensory perception, expanded consciousness, immediate knowledge, leaving the body and remembering previous lives of thousands and maybe millions of people are not the "products of flowering imagination"? What if the Universe is just, and all the suffering and tragedy witnessed on this planet are parts of personal compensation and adversity in the service of evolution, parts of a great universal Plan, which we are not at the height either to perceive or to understand? What if every being is living in the heaven or hell or purgatory that he prepared and is maintaining for himself?

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