Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

The Culture of Unaccountability

Posted by Jerry on February 19, 2007

When the individual self is suppressed, all concepts hierarchically dependent on the concept of “self” is fundamentally undermined until their meanings become completely invalid. For example, when there is no individual “self,” the concept of private property (and ownership responsibilities that come along with property) do not exist. Everything from property to romantic love to familial relationships and national culture is undermined–until it totally disappears–with the loss of the sense of self.

A selfless man seeks to gain no property, and thus, exists as a parasite on someone else’s property. If a nation’s character is to be selfless (the antithesis of capitalist societies), then you have the nation as the collective owner of all property, which means, everyone collectively owns everything; or, in other words, no one truly owns anything. As a result, no one feels responsible for owning anything because the next person is an equal owner. With this attitude in the psyche of a nation, we get a billion people like in India who care less about the streets and roads they use–because it is everyone’s property (or, precisely, no one’s property)–and litter, spit, urinate, trash, hawk, and do whatever else strikes their fancy in public spaces.

The very same psychological attitude of selflessness allows them to shrug off responsibility and place the burden on someone else: the government needs to clean the streets because the government owns the roads. The government needs to monitor our television viewing habits because we are not (or cannot be) responsible for what we watch. The government needs to police our morality because we are not responsible for what we do.

Undermining the individual self and glorifying the “other” makes an individual incompetent at handling the world he is faced with. Thus, he always looks out at others–or the government–to remedy his situation or provide guidance in practically all matters. Moreover, in what appears to be a paradox, he then complains that the government is not doing enough or that the government is doing too much and is interfering in his private matters.

However, the concept of “privacy” is also hierarchically dependent on the concept of individual “self”; hence, an appeal to privacy or private matters is moot when the underlying premise of one’s ideologies, beliefs, or national culture is one of selflessness, collectivism, and the supremacy of the “other.”

In Ayn Rand’s words, I find the corroboration to my own thoughts above. Of course, Rand presents the matter most persuasively and in vivid language that gets right to the root of the matter—a culture of unaccountability made possible by the men of perceptual mentalities: “a desperate creature that struggles frantically against his own nature, longing for the effortless ‘safety’ of an animal’s consciousness, which he cannot recapture, and rebelling against a human [conceptual] consciousness, which he is afraid to achieve.”

The abdication of the self is a salient characteristic of all perceptual mentalities, tribalist or lone-wolfish. All of them dread self-reliance; all of them dread the responsibilities which only a self (i.e., a conceptual consciousness) can perform, and they seek escape from the two activities which an actually selfish man would defend with his life: judgment and choice. They fear reason (which is exercised volitionally) and trust their emotions (which are automatic)–they prefer relatives (an accident of birth) to friends (a matter of choice)–they prefer the tribe (the given) to outsiders (the new)–they prefer commandments (the memorized) to principles (the understood)–they welcome every theory of determinism, every notion that permits them to cry: “I couldn’t help it!”

It is obvious why the morality of altruism is a tribal phenomenon. Prehistorical men were physically unable to survive without clinging to a tribe for leadership and protection against other tribes. The cause of altruism’s perpetuation into civilized eras is not physical, but psycho-epistemological: the men of self-arrested, perceptual mentality are unable to survive without tribal leadership and “protection” against reality.

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