Ideology and Responsibility: SS personnel were good people

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

A kind German, left-wing friend of mine stated that all Germans who were alive and mature during Hitler's regime and who didn't actively oppose Hitler's regime are responsible for the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

I thought this was way more complex. Those who supported the Nazi regime are of course kind of responsible, but only the people who knew about the atrocities and still supported the regime without any moral hesitation were 'fully' responsible. And seeing how Auschwitz wasn't exactly at everyone's doorstep, the amount of Nazis that did know about for example the Holocaust was probably rather small.

I am now reading a book written by captain Sigismund Payne Best. He was an agent for the British Secret Intelligence Service during WWI and WWII, and in 1939 he got captured in the Netherlands, by a SS Sonderkommando that temporarily invaded our country. He spent most of WWII in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. I think he has more of a right to judge the Nazis than anyone else on these forums. But read what he writes about the SS:

To most people in England the letters 'SS' symbolize everything that was most horrible in the Nazi regime; a gang of unmitigated ruffians whose main delight was the torture and murder of innocent people. Whilst it is true that most atrocities were committed under the banner of the SS, a large number of men who wore the SS uniform during the war had no sympathy for the Nazi party or its principles. They were muss soldaten, conscripts who had no illusions as to their status; in fact, they had been drafted for service at concentration camps merely because they were considered politically insecure.
Some forty of these men were on duty in my cell at different times, and with the exception of three or four real party members, all were decent fellows, who certainly showed not the slightest inclination towards cruelty; the worst that I have to say of any them is that they were surly or untrustworthy. In the SS there were good men and bad just as in any other cross section of the population, and as always, the good predominated.

One page earlier he mentions Jehova's Witnesses.

All the menial work in the Bunker, and indeed in the whole camp, was performed by 'Trusties', called by the Germans 'Kalfaktors'. These were almost all 'Bible Students'; I believe that in England they are called 'Jehovah's Witnesses'. This sect was considered by the Nazis to be almost more dangerous to the regime than the Jews, for while no German could turn himself into a Jew, any German could become a Bible Student and, as such, refuse to take part in military service in any shape or form. The fortitude shown by these men was most remarkable and earned the grudging admiration even of their jailers. Most had been imprisoned in 1933 and their treatment had been the worst possible. They had been beaten, tortured and starved; one man had been publicly hung, but I was told that there had not been a single instance of one of these men forsaking his principles and buying liberty by entrance into the armed forces.
I know nothing about the details of their belief except that they recognized only Jehovah as their deity, Saturday as their Sabbath, and placed their hope in a Judgment Day in the near future. All that I met were honest, kindly, and very brave men; fanatics, if you will, yet carrying with them something of that sacred flame which inspired the early Christians.

Often when we're debating Islam here it is said that you shouldn't hold all Muslims responsible for the actions of terrorists. And that there is probably nothing wrong with Islam, because most Muslims are nice people and only the fanatics fuck up, but fanatics fuck up everything always everywhere.

So, I hope we can discuss ideology and responsibility here. Was my friend right when she said that all Germans were responsible? Are you responsible for the atrocities that are committed by people that follow your ideology?

I think you're responsible for anything that can be logically deduced from you're ideology, as long as you don't oppose it. Those who follow the Bible are responsible for the homophobia that is caused by certain verses in the book - unless you speak out against it, etcetera.
If I wouldn't think this way, I couldn't condemn Germans who followed anti-semetic Hitler without knowing about or participating in later anti-semetic atrocities.

Danyal:
...
I think you're responsible for anything that can be logically deduced from you're ideology, as long as you don't oppose it. Those who follow the Bible are responsible for the homophobia that is caused by certain verses in the book - unless you speak out against it, etcetera.
If I wouldn't think this way, I couldn't condemn Germans who followed anti-semetic Hitler without knowing about or participating in later anti-semetic atrocities.
...

This is my stance as well.

But even if one was to reject it, there's a communicative dimension as well, namely what others are entitled to assume about you.

To put it on a point, say that you are a woman who've just taken a farmer/stonemason exam, and had your first period. In celebration of this, you drape yourself in a red flag with a hammer & sickle on it, and set off for the city to party with thousands of others. What does this entitle others to assume about you?

That you support Marxism as practised in the Soviet Union! Whether or not you actually do so is irrelevant, since you've used a very clear symbol that is universally associated with Soviet Marxism. The only possible excuse would be that you're so ignorant as to not know that a red flag with hammer & sickle on it is perceived to have particular political connotations.

Same with calling your infant son Adolf H. Göring, putting on a cross, calling yourself "Muslim" etc. etc. You might have a private reason for doing so, but what does that matter when you're addressing the public? Terms have inherent meaning and connotations, and if you use them, then it falls to you to qualify that you're not using them in the sense they're traditionally and generally understood.

TL;DR: SS-membership you say? You've got some 'splaining to do!

Danyal:

I think you're responsible for anything that can be logically deduced from you're ideology, as long as you don't oppose it. Those who follow the Bible are responsible for the homophobia that is caused by certain verses in the book - unless you speak out against it, etcetera.

So what you mean is you want to be prejudiced against certain people, and here's your logical defence.

* * *

You need to separate the concept of an ideology from personal ideology.

Probably no ideology on the planet earth consists of concepts all its adherents believe in. They can be termed adherents because they more or less believe in a lot of what the ideology says. The ideology itself is rarely a monolithic, objective construct for that matter.

We know perfectly well that lots of Christians are not homophobic, and do not interpret the Bible as homophobic. You can make some scriptural case for homophobia in Christianity, but even at worst it doesn't even come close to a core concept (not that Christians necessarily have to believe 'core concepts' either). If individual Christians do not hold to an ideology of homophobia nor consider it part Christianity, why should they apologise for it?

Your view of homophobia being intrinsic to Christianity and thus that Christians who do not explicitly deny it can be judged accordingly is your subjective feeling. You are of course quite free to have it. For reasons above, I think it's also prejudice.

Imperator_DK:
This is my stance as well.

'Thank you' ;)

Imperator_DK:
But even if one was to reject it, there's a communicative dimension as well, namely what others are entitled to assume about you.

To put it on a point, say that you are a woman who've just taken a farmer/stonemason exam, and had your first period. In celebration of this, you drape yourself in a red flag with a hammer & sickle on it, and set off for the city to party with thousands of others. What does this entitle others to assume about you?

That you support Marxism as practised in the Soviet Union! Whether or not you actually do so is irrelevant, since you've used a very clear symbol that is universally associated with Soviet Marxism. The only possible excuse would be that you're so ignorant as to not know that a red flag with hammer & sickle on it is perceived to have particular political connotations.

Same with calling your infant son Adolf H. Göring, putting on a cross, calling yourself "Muslim" etc. etc. You might have a private reason for doing so, but what does that matter when you're addressing the public? Terms have inherent meaning and connotations, and if you use them, then it falls to you to qualify that you're not using them in the sense they're traditionally and generally understood.

Sounds logical.

Agema:
So what you mean is you want to be prejudiced against certain people, and here's your logical defence.

Prejudice? You might call it something like that. Is my German friend who thinks that all Germans who were mature during Hitler's regime and didn't actively oppose it are semi-responsibility for Hitler's atrocities 'prejudiced' against Germans? Is blaming those who supported Hitler and National-Socialism for the Holocaust 'prejudiced'?

Agema:
You need to separate the concept of an ideology from personal ideology.

And I like to do this in a fair way. There is enormous 'bigotry' against National-Socialists here: we blame all of them for the Holocaust and World War Two. Yet, when we're talking about Islam, suddenly it's incredibly diverse and personal interpretations etcetera. I think it makes more sense to have a common standard that we can apply to everyone and everything. When are you responsible for the acts of others that follow the same ideology? Or do you think that those who support Breivik should be left alone, because we must distinguish Breivik's ideology from their own ideology?

Agema:
Probably no ideology on the planet earth consists of concepts all its adherents believe in. They can be termed adherents because they more or less believe in a lot of what the ideology says. The ideology itself is rarely a monolithic, objective construct for that matter.

A lot of people nowadays try to claim that 'islamophobics' like Geert Wilders are nazis and fascists. It's rather hard: there is no proper definition for nazism or fascism. Both ideologies do not have a prophet and a holy book, and thus rely more on personal interpretation than religions like Christianity and Islam. A Muslim generally agrees with Muhammad; a Christian generally agrees with Jesus; a fascist/nazi can disagree on important subjects with Hitler or Mussolini without big cognitive dissonances.

Agema:
We know perfectly well that lots of Christians are not homophobic, and do not interpret the Bible as homophobic. You can make some scriptural case for homophobia in Christianity, but even at worst it doesn't even come close to a core concept (not that Christians necessarily have to believe 'core concepts' either). If individual Christians do not hold to an ideology of homophobia nor consider it part Christianity, why should they apologise for it?

A lot of Nazis supported Hitler because of stuff like the Treaty of Versailles, and thought that he was a political realist: he would drop more extreme stuff when he got into power. Why do we never distinguish between those 'moderate, nice Nazis' and the 'extremists'?

Agema:
Your view of homophobia being intrinsic to Christianity and thus that Christians who do not explicitly deny it can be judged accordingly is your subjective feeling. You are of course quite free to have it. For reasons above, I think it's also prejudice.

I never said that homophobia was intrinsic to Christianity. As a matter of fact, the first time that 'Christian' or 'Christianity' is mentioned is in the Best's quote: the second time is when you talk about it. I never mentioned Christian/Christianity. I said:

Danyal:
Those who follow the Bible are responsible for the homophobia that is caused by certain verses in the book - unless you speak out against it, etcetera.

Danyal:

-snip-

.
This has little discussion value here since I know all of the above and agree with your statement.
Well done Danyal, that's a very neat personal story.

TheIronRuler:
This has little discussion value here

1. The statement of my German friend, 'All Germans responsible"
2. To what extent are people responsible for the ideology they follow?

Seems like there's quite a lot of discussion value.

TheIronRuler:
since I know all of the above

You knew about the Venlo incident, and about courageous behavior of Jehovah's Witnesses and 'SS personnel were mostly good people'?

TheIronRuler:
and agree with your statement.

Hurray :)

TheIronRuler:
Well done Danyal, that's a very neat personal story.

'Personal'? Also,
image

Perhaps your average SS soldier could be a decent guy, but I reserve the right to thinking that any SS member over the rank of captain was a world class kitten strangler.

As for the German populace at large, one of Hitler's secretaries, Gertrude Junge, willfully suppressed her negative feelings about the man. She held herself partially to blame for everything that went on in Nazi Germany because she kept herself ignorant even though it would have been so easy for her to learn.

Danyal:

TheIronRuler:
This has little discussion value here

1. The statement of my German friend, 'All Germans responsible"
2. To what extent are people responsible for the ideology they follow?

Seems like there's quite a lot of discussion value.

TheIronRuler:
since I know all of the above

You knew about the Venlo incident, and about courageous behavior of Jehovah's Witnesses and 'SS personnel were mostly good people'?

TheIronRuler:
and agree with your statement.

Hurray :)

TheIronRuler:
Well done Danyal, that's a very neat personal story.

'Personal'? Also,
image

.
I agree with your opinion for once. I knew of Jehovah's witnesses and the SS, but I didn't know of the personal story of the British spy, and thought it was really neat.
Again, thank you Danyal. The personal story of the British spy was very interesting, and reading more on my own was fun.

TheIronRuler:
.
I agree with your opinion for once. I knew of Jehovah's witnesses and the SS, but I didn't know of the personal story of the British spy, and thought it was really neat.
Again, thank you Danyal. The personal story of the British spy was very interesting, and reading more on my own was fun.

Well, thank you :) But where did you read more about Best?
By the way, Walter Schellenberg, the German spy who kidnapped the British agents, wrote an autobiography after the war. Both his life and the entire Venlo Incident are linked to dozens of interesting details...Schellenberg always 'wore' a fake tooth with poison, and a ring with cyanide. He had two machineguns built in his bureau, and he could activate them with one button. I'm serious. This is no 'Chuck Norris'-story, this isn't made-up, this is confirmed by people like Alan Bullock.

/very on-topic of course

Danyal:
Is my German friend who thinks that all Germans who were mature during Hitler's regime and didn't actively oppose it are semi-responsibility for Hitler's atrocities 'prejudiced' against Germans?

Basically, yes. To some extent it depends what you mean by 'responsible'. They could be held some way responsible but short of fair culpability.

Is blaming those who supported Hitler and National-Socialism for the Holocaust 'prejudiced'?

Depends. Are we talking about people who (relatively) innocently voted for a party they thought would restore their country's glory and little or no knowledge of the Holocaust before or during, or party functionaries who planned and executed it?

Agema:
And I like to do this in a fair way...

Yes, by equating Muslims with Nazis. Gosh, what a neutral comparison! Totally equivalent examples, and not any hint of guilt by association at all.

snip the rest

Well, when you say "we" do this and "we" do that, it depends what you mean by "we". When people say "The Nazis" were bad people, they frequently mean the Party and it's officials, not everyone with some connection to them. Many people (like me) give WW2 adult Germans, SS conscripts, and people who once voted for Hitler a fair hearing as not necessarily being bad people; they do distinguish.

You're making out they don't distinguish because, I suspect, you're angling at a way to justify you being prejudiced against Muslims and neutralise resultant criticism. Like so, so many of your threads.

Agema:
Basically, yes. To some extent it depends what you mean by 'responsible'. They could be held some way responsible but short of fair culpability.

Well, aren't Bible-followers responsible in the same way for problems caused by for example Biblically inspired homophobia? Or Muslims for terrorism inspired by Muhammad/Islam?[1] Not the 'you're guilty and must enter prison' responsibility, but the 'some way responsibility that is short of fair culpability'.

Agema:
Depends. Are we talking about people who (relatively) innocently voted for a party they thought would restore their country's glory and little or no knowledge of the Holocaust before or during, or party functionaries who planned and executed it?

I'm talking about standard, normal people. People who voted for and supported Hitler and Nazism, without having clear knowledge of the Holocaust. Someone who thus didn't mind Hitler's anti-semitism and war-loving rhetoric.

Agema:
Yes, by equating Muslims with Nazis. Gosh, what a neutral comparison! Totally equivalent examples, and not any hint of guilt by association at all.

A Dutch student got a 10 for an essay where he claimed that Geert Wilders was a fascist.

I also talked about the Bible and Jehova's Witnesses, by the way.

Agema:
Well, when you say "we" do this and "we" do that, it depends what you mean by "we". When people say "The Nazis" were bad people, they frequently mean the Party and it's officials, not everyone with some connection to them. Many people (like me) give WW2 adult Germans, SS conscripts, and people who once voted for Hitler a fair hearing as not necessarily being bad people; they do distinguish.

They might not be completely evil, but at least you their support for Hitler and Nazism as a mistake and immoral, don't you? You're not going to argue that 'he is only responsible for his own personal interpretation of Nazism'.

And people often mean way more people than the Nazi-top when they say Nazis.

What Ethnic Group Will Replace Nazis?

...my position that anything you do to Nazis is guilt-free.

...Well, let's leave that behind and talk about acceptable targets. As much as killing Nazis (the unambiguous villains of modern history) after all that Modern Warfare piddle is like greeting an old friend or slipping into an old, comfortable jumper...

There's just something a little bit creepy about that sort of thing, and since the Nazi Aryan ideal was all over blonde hair then victimizing the blonde is basically being the exact opposite of a Nazi.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/9648-What-Ethnic-Group-Will-Replace-Nazis

[1] I don't need to quote some of the quotes from the hadith and the Quran that seem to justify terrorism quite well, do I?

I can agree, unless you openly oppose something in your ideology, then you shouldn't be free from criticism of it.

Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say they were completely "responsible" for it. After all, responsibility implies you were the cause of something, while in most of those cases many people may not have publicly opposed something like the holocaust (possibly under fear of death, exile, or torture), but they could still privately dislike it.

Risking your life isn't easy, and I can partially understand the mentality "Well why should I do anything if it means I'll probably be tortured to death?" yet still, a person should attempt to stand up for ideals they believe in.

There are heroes and villains for every ideology in history. Take the muslims for example, while they did have villains like Osama Bin Laden, they also had heroes such as Saladin. Saladin was such an honorable and respectable man that he soon became a hero to look up to in Christian Europe. I mean, even Dante Alighieri, one of the most zealous Catholics in history, had respect for the man (well, it depends on your idea of "respect" really. In his "Inferno" Saladin was in Hell... But only in the layer of hell reserved for noble and virtuous men who haven't heard the word of christ.)

Agema:

You're making out they don't distinguish because, I suspect, you're angling at a way to justify you being prejudiced against Muslims and neutralise resultant criticism. Like so, so many of your threads.

Yep. Agreed. And its once again rather sad that Danyal failed to make a thread without trying to weasel in his own preconceptions about Islam or at least doing so much less obvious. I mean really, Danyal? Nazis as a comparison? Thats really unimaginative.

And the worst part is that what you are trying to get at is a very interesting question: when is prejudice against a group ever justified? Even more intricate: when is prejudice against members of this group ever justified? Is prejudice at all that ever justifiable? If so, where is the cutoff where one has to value personal freedom higher than a collective gain? It is by no means a trivial question.

Really a shame that its going to be overshadowed by the implications once again.

----

My take on the issue:

As I said, its by no means a trivial question as it depends crucially on what specific group we consider as well as what measure we use for responsibility or harm. This distinction gets even more important on the individual level. Personally, I abhor willful ignorance and am by all means biased towards people being stupidly ignorant in whatever they do. This also concerns any groups they associate with - you cannot just take on the label and then push away any responsibility you have in shaping the behaviour of the group. Of course there are a lot of pitfalls in this statement: first it depends on what one actually did in that group and it crucially depends on what kind of group we have. For example, associating all members of ethnicity associated with country X with warcrimes from the last war is not mandated as it not only differs hugely from person to person, but makes an association based on an identifier they did not necessarily choose to adhere but were given to.

In short: Is it justified? Yes. Does one have to be extraordinarily careful when making these kinds of statements? Also yes.

EDIT: Since I didn't specifically mention it, but is a huge factor nonetheless I have to mention Agemas remark that ideologies are, of course, much less well defined than we would like to in some cases. Meanings can change over time, too - so that's another pitfall to watch out for...

Captcha: mustachioed

*cue evil laughter*

This is a load of crap. I doubt one German in a hundred wasn't aware of the crimes against Jews. Maybe not the death camps, but the Kristallnacht wasn't exactly a subtle operation. Nor was the fact that all the Jews were being loaded on trains and shipped to God knows where. Maybe they didn't have all the details, but they had enough, it wasn't like the Nazis were subtle in their hatred of them. And then there was that six year war of conquest that slaughtered millions.

So yeah, that's a load of bunk, Danyal.

Um, let's see if I got this right. Basically, if you give yourself a label, you are subject to all criticisms of that label until you distinguish yourself in word or action?

LetalisK:
Um, let's see if I got this right. Basically, if you give yourself a label, you are subject to all criticisms of that label until you distinguish yourself in word or action?

Yes. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

PrinceOfShapeir:
This is a load of crap. I doubt one German in a hundred wasn't aware of the crimes against Jews. Maybe not the death camps, but the Kristallnacht wasn't exactly a subtle operation. Nor was the fact that all the Jews were being loaded on trains and shipped to God knows where. Maybe they didn't have all the details, but they had enough, it wasn't like the Nazis were subtle in their hatred of them. And then there was that six year war of conquest that slaughtered millions.

So yeah, that's a load of bunk, Danyal.

I didn't say SS personnel were generally good people. It's a British spy who has been in a concentration camp for years.

Danyal:
a large number of men who wore the SS uniform during the war had no sympathy for the Nazi party or its principles. They were muss soldaten, conscripts who had no illusions as to their status; in fact, they had been drafted for service at concentration camps merely because they were considered politically insecure.
Some forty of these men were on duty in my cell at different times, and with the exception of three or four real party members, all were decent fellows, who certainly showed not the slightest inclination towards cruelty; the worst that I have to say of any them is that they were surly or untrustworthy. In the SS there were good men and bad just as in any other cross section of the population, and as always, the good predominated.

And, okay, the Kristallnacht. What was it, 90 Jews murdered? Why do you blame all Germans for those murders? Does '90 people killed because of an ideology' mean you have to leave that ideology? Dozens of Copts were murdered during the Egyptian 'spring'.

Islam's Latest Contributions to Peace
"Mohammed is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless
to the unbelievers but merciful to one another" Quran 48:29

2012.06.13 (Hillah, Iraq) - Twenty-two people at a restaurant are massacred in mid-bite by two Sunni car bombs.
2012.06.13 (Baghdad, Iraq) - Sixteen people at a dining hall are liquidated by Religion of Peace blast.
2012.06.13 (Baghdad, Iraq) - A bomb at a commercial compound rips nine people to shreds.
2012.06.13 (Fallujah, Iraq) - Women and children are among the casualties when Jihadis blow up a house.
2012.06.12 (Nankana Sahib, Pakistan) - A family member slays a 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend on suspicion of sex.
2012.06.12 (Chahar Bolak, Afghanistan) - A Fedayeen bicycle bomber pedals his way to paradise, taking three innocents with him.

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

Do you think all Muslims are evil because of that? I think not. Well, why are all Nazis then evil because of one certain event, that probably wasn't properly reported in the German media?

Dajosch:
And the worst part is that what you are trying to get at is a very interesting question: when is prejudice against a group ever justified? Even more intricate: when is prejudice against members of this group ever justified? Is prejudice at all that ever justifiable? If so, where is the cutoff where one has to value personal freedom higher than a collective gain?

Well, what is your answer? It doesn't become really clear in the rest of your post.

My answer:
I think you're responsible for anything that can be logically deduced from you're ideology, as long as you don't oppose it. Those who follow the Bible are responsible for the homophobia that is caused by certain verses in the book - unless you speak out against it, etcetera.

Do you disagree with that?

You're a Muslim and think the Quran is a great book?

4:34

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

Then you're semi-responsible (but not culpable, as Agema pointed out) for all misogyny caused by a verse like this one. Unless you speak out against it.

Think Muhammad is a great guy? Well, then you're semi-responsible for all violence inspired by him:

Bukhari:V4B52N53 "The Prophet said, 'Nobody who dies and finds Paradise would wish to come back to this life even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to get killed again in Allah's Cause.'"
Bukhari:V4B52N54 "The Prophet said, 'Were it not for the believers who do not want me to leave them, I would certainly and always go forth in army units setting out in Allah's Cause. I would love to be martyred in Allah's Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.'"

And again, UNLESS and UNTIL you speak out against verses like this.

If we just say that everyone can have his own personal interpretation of it without any responsibility for the effects of that ideology, one can just support Nazism and Hitler without being 'blamable' for the Holocaust/WWII.

Danyal:

LetalisK:
Um, let's see if I got this right. Basically, if you give yourself a label, you are subject to all criticisms of that label until you distinguish yourself in word or action?

Yes. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Yes, if you assume that criticisms leveled at a group are criticisms that apply to the majority and are just playing statistical probabilities. But that's not always the case. Sometimes a criticism is leveled at a group that does not accurately represent that group. For example!

I'm going to pretend I'm Catholic for this. One of the generalizations about Catholics is that we're against abortion. Statistically, the majority of Catholics are against abortion, so the onus is on me to simply say I believe otherwise. However, another common generalization is that Catholics are against birth control. This is nowhere near true and it would actually be proper to assume the opposite, despite the church's teachings. Thus, in that case, I don't feel it is my responsibility to declare myself different from a false generalization and rather the responsibility is on the one with the false generalization to educate themselves.

LetalisK:
Yes, if you assume that criticisms leveled at a group are criticisms that apply to the majority and are just playing statistical probabilities. But that's not always the case. Sometimes a criticism is leveled at a group that does not accurately represent that group. For example!

I'm going to pretend I'm Catholic for this. One of the generalizations about Catholics is that we're against abortion. Statistically, the majority of Catholics are against abortion, so the onus is on me to simply say I believe otherwise. However, another common generalization is that Catholics are against birth control. This is nowhere near true and it would actually be proper to assume the opposite, despite the church's teachings. Thus, in that case, I don't feel it is my responsibility to declare myself different from a false generalization and rather the responsibility is on the one with the false generalization to educate themselves.

Well, you're only responsible for what can be logically deduced from your ideology. A generalization is not necessarily logically deduced. 80% of young Moroccans in Amsterdam has come in contact with police. The remaining 20% does not need to apologize for that. Being a Moroccan is not an ideology.

I don't know what the official dogma of the Catholic Church is, but if you state "I think the Pope is a great guy and I follow his ways" you're semi-responsible for the suffering caused by the "Pope's ways": for example, removing anti-conception from Africa or covering up cases of child abuse. Until you renounce that, and say 'I love the Pope except for .... and ...'.

But I don't think 'being Catholic' means 'support the Pope'.

I once read part of Leon Degrelle's[1] account of the Waffen-SS' operations on the Eastern front. As a book it's an interesting exercise in apologistic propaganda - featuring caricatured, dim-witted Slavs that resemble Cro-Magnons - but it at least reveals some of the (ostensible) motivations of the SS. Far fom being motivated by dastardly megalomania or frothing xenophobia, the Waffen SS represented the first pan-European, multi-national force; initially volunteers, they rallied under the banner of opposing the looming hammer and sickle of the Soviets.

Unbiased? Hell no. But it's an interesting counterpoint to the cartoony Hollywood portrayal of every last Nazi as a goose-stepping thug.

[1] The Belgian Nazi collaborator; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A9on_Degrelle , who notably evaded execution after the war and continued to be a prominent Nazi apologist until his death in 1994

Danyal:

Well, aren't Bible-followers responsible in the same way for problems caused by for example Biblically inspired homophobia? Or Muslims for terrorism inspired by Muhammad/Islam?

I'm not really clear (but I have some ideas, and my heart sinks at the prospect of a hare-brained scheme) why you're mucking around with the term "Bible followers". "Bible follower" and "Christian" are insignificantly different terms. It's particularly egregious given the inconsistency to then talk about "Muslims": either 'Christians' and 'Muslims', or 'Bible followers' and 'Koran followers'.

A Dutch student got a 10 for an essay where he claimed that Geert Wilders was a fascist.

Why does anyone give a damn about pointless anecdotes?

They might not be completely evil, but at least you their support for Hitler and Nazism as a mistake and immoral, don't you? You're not going to argue that 'he is only responsible for his own personal interpretation of Nazism'.

Given the end result and hindsight, one would have to assume voting for Hitler was a mistake - unless, of course, the individual's intention was to see Germany in ruins. However, many may have made voted for Hitler on the basis of it being the best option according to the information available to them at the time; on that level, it would not have been a mistake to do so.

Was it immoral? By my standards, yes. By theirs, I can't say - but presumably (mostly) not.

Yes, I would effectively argue they are responsible for their personal interpretation of Naziism. The idea many 1920-30s German voters had of where Naziism was going and what it was going to do was very likely at variance both from what it did do, and what the Nazi elite thought they were going to go to and do. They can be held responsible for what they believed as it applies.

Danyal:

Dajosch:
And the worst part is that what you are trying to get at is a very interesting question: when is prejudice against a group ever justified? Even more intricate: when is prejudice against members of this group ever justified? Is prejudice at all that ever justifiable? If so, where is the cutoff where one has to value personal freedom higher than a collective gain?

Well, what is your answer? It doesn't become really clear in the rest of your post.

Granted, after rereading I agree that my response was vague. However, I don't think I can do any better simply because I myself haven't completely made up my mind about this topic - or rather, haven't identified the most important factors in this question yet. That its complicated I already highlighted enough, methinks.

Still, I think I'll outline my basic ideas on the matter

  • Semi-Responsibility or Responsibility depends on which group we consider. There are considerable differences between social groups e.g. in what norms they adopt and what they actually do. However, keep in mind that there are jerks in every single social group in existence, so any line of generalization needs to be about percentages and not blanket statements.
  • Normative values in certain groups not only enable but also predispose. As such, there is a difference between ideologies and we can justify ostracizing certain types of ideologies.
  • The type of group identifier also plays into the question whether or not someone is responsible, as does personal action, amount of harm done by the group, knowledge, the values connected to the identifier etc. - its complicated

Hence, I'am currently not seeing a way how to generalize from specific groups to a theory/general statement. Too many variables.

My answer:
I think you're responsible for anything that can be logically deduced from you're ideology, as long as you don't oppose it. Those who follow the Bible are responsible for the homophobia that is caused by certain verses in the book - unless you speak out against it, etcetera.

Do you disagree with that?

Yes.

You assert that grand-scale (as in member numbers along the lines of billions in the prominent cases) theistic identifiers automatically mean that they all believe in a strong set of values which automatically depends on their scripture if they have one. This is not the case. Religion, and this includes religion based on scripture, is extraordinarily malleable - you can interpret what you want to see into every single verse out there. Every single church, to give an example from Christianity, has their own interpretation as to what certain verses mean. And this is essentially also the reason why there are so many different denominations of any religion which can differ hugely in what values they support/live.

As such, you cannot just take such a grand-scale identifier and say they are all even semi-responsible in this case. Simply, I don't think that responsibility here extends down onto the individual level - it just amounts to an unfounded generalization in my book.

Then you're semi-responsible (but not culpable, as Agema pointed out) for all misogyny caused by a verse like this one. Unless you speak out against it.

[...]

And again, UNLESS and UNTIL you speak out against verses like this.

If we just say that everyone can have his own personal interpretation of it without any responsibility for the effects of that ideology, one can just support Nazism and Hitler without being 'blamable' for the Holocaust/WWII.

What differentiates ideologies such as Nazism from any theistic belief is two-fold. For one, Nazism has a much smaller base of members meaning the associated number of different interpretations is also small just because of the number of people. Second, the definition of Nazism is much much stronger than any theistic identifier: if one talks about Nazism we automatically all have the Nazi Regime, the second world war and all the atrocities commited in its name in mind. There is not much leverage in terms of defining what Nazism means or what values they adhere to. In this case, a certain prejudice towards this group identifier seems mandated and I agree that for such identifiers I'am willing to allow the concept of semi-responsibility.

Germany was pushed into an abyss after WWI and that abyss is what allowed a man like Hitler to rise to power. You can't blame the people for this, because in the end, 'the people' as a group are just mindless drones doing what they can to get by, especially when droven into poverty.

Danyal:
A Dutch student got a 10 for an essay where he claimed that Geert Wilders was a fascist.

Was it a good essay?

Seanchaidh:

Danyal:
A Dutch student got a 10 for an essay where he claimed that Geert Wilders was a fascist.

Was it a good essay?

Nope. I thought it was a rather bad and I read a Dutch article that explained very thoroughly why it sucked. I don't remember the exact arguments (it was half a year ago!) but he used a very crappy definition of 'fascism' that is more like 'populism'.

Anyway, you can read it for yourself here:
http://universonline.nl/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/BA-Thesis-Henk-Bovekerk.pdf
http://www.foxcrawl.com/2012/01/06/student-henk-bovekerke-gets-10-for-essays-about-fascist-freedom-party-pvv/

It's not like Dutch students write Dutch essays ;) It's in English.

Danyal:

Seanchaidh:

Danyal:
A Dutch student got a 10 for an essay where he claimed that Geert Wilders was a fascist.

Was it a good essay?

Nope. I thought it was a rather bad and I read a Dutch article that explained very thoroughly why it sucked. I don't remember the exact arguments (it was half a year ago!) but he used a very crappy definition of 'fascism' that is more like 'populism'.

Anyway, you can read it for yourself here:
http://universonline.nl/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/BA-Thesis-Henk-Bovekerk.pdf
http://www.foxcrawl.com/2012/01/06/student-henk-bovekerke-gets-10-for-essays-about-fascist-freedom-party-pvv/

It's not like Dutch students write Dutch essays ;) It's in English.

Didn't seem too bad to me... can't say if it was worthy of a 10 without comparison to others. Paxton is a good source on trying to define fascism. The definition the student used was more like exclusionary, anti-liberal populism with a clear scapegoat for the nation's ills. And that's quite a bit closer to fascism than just 'populism'.

Seanchaidh:
Didn't seem too bad to me... can't say if it was worthy of a 10 without comparison to others. Paxton is a good source on trying to define fascism. The definition the student used was more like exclusionary, anti-liberal populism with a clear scapegoat for the nation's ills. And that's quite a bit closer to fascism than just 'populism'.

I'm sorry but a definition like that doesn't really fit what 'fascism' normally means. 'Right-wing with a scapegoat' is just silly. Everyone scapegoats. The 1%, capitalists, capitalism, bankers, populists, Geert Wilders, conservative Christians, Republicans, white males, etcetera.

So, I hope we can discuss ideology and responsibility here. Was my friend right when she said that all Germans were responsible? Are you responsible for the atrocities that are committed by people that follow your ideology?

To a degree, yes, I think your friend had a point. You talk about SS members as nice people. I'm going to call up a different anecdote from my own personal experience. I used to be a Republican activist. Republican activists? Are some of the nicest, most welcoming, and most generous people I've ever met. In contrast, I was recently at a Democratic Party meeting. I found the people standoffish, and I never got a followup call to discuss how I can volunteer for them.) I still think George W. Bush was a nice guy, I'd probably love to have him as a neighbor-- I've talked to many people who've met him, and they all say he was incredibly personable. But their kindness as people doesn't excuse what they're doing with their votes and their time and effort, and if you vote Republican you're contributing to some incredibly awful oppression and fear-mongering.

I don't think ignorance is an excuse, you have a civic responsibility to notice the world around you. If there is extremism or oppression being done by groups you're part of, opposing that should be part of your Work. And yes, to a degree you do take on responsibility for the actions of something you're part of-- that doesn't mean you personally caused it, that doesn't mean you can personally undo it, but it does mean that you should be aware of it and doing what you can to work against it. It's not unfair to criticize Catholicism in general for its work against, for instance, condom use in areas of the world ravaged by AIDS. It's also not unfair for Iraqis to criticize Americans for invading their country and making a giant mess of it. That doesn't mean every Catholic should leave Catholicism or every American who opposes the current war should find a way to leave America, it just means that you do what you can to work against those problems. Work within a system is valid.

At the same time, though, I don't think there's an excuse *not* to have a nuanced view toward groups where some of the members are doing problematic things. Of course not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Catholics are pro-child molestation and anti-choice, not all Asatruar are racist, not all men are actively sexist, etc. Responsibility isn't an on-off switch, it has gradations and the power of an individual to work for change is sometimes really limited.

Danyal:

Seanchaidh:
Didn't seem too bad to me... can't say if it was worthy of a 10 without comparison to others. Paxton is a good source on trying to define fascism. The definition the student used was more like exclusionary, anti-liberal populism with a clear scapegoat for the nation's ills. And that's quite a bit closer to fascism than just 'populism'.

I'm sorry but a definition like that doesn't really fit what 'fascism' normally means. 'Right-wing with a scapegoat' is just silly. Everyone scapegoats. The 1%, capitalists, capitalism, bankers, populists, Geert Wilders, conservative Christians, Republicans, white males, etcetera.

Well, it was more sophisticated than that...

Polarity27:
if you vote Republican you're contributing to some incredibly awful oppression and fear-mongering.

What? How is voting for a party that wants small government oppression? I know some Republicans are less than ideal, but that's quite a generalization to make to say that they are all "incredibly awful oppressi[ve] and fear-mongering".

OP:I'm gonna stay out of this one, my personal feelings are not very tolerant towards the SS.

Helmholtz Watson:

Polarity27:
if you vote Republican you're contributing to some incredibly awful oppression and fear-mongering.

What? How is voting for a party that wants small government oppression? I know some Republicans are less than ideal, but that's quite a generalization to make to say that they are all "incredibly awful oppressi[ve] and fear-mongering".

Might sorta be why the word "all" wasn't used there. I'm guessing Polarity27 sentences immediately before that about all the nice Republicans was put there in a foolish hope not to be criticised for lumping all Republicans into a monolithic evil whole, in exactly the way Poliarty27 did not.

thaluikhain:

Helmholtz Watson:

Polarity27:
if you vote Republican you're contributing to some incredibly awful oppression and fear-mongering.

What? How is voting for a party that wants small government oppression? I know some Republicans are less than ideal, but that's quite a generalization to make to say that they are all "incredibly awful oppressi[ve] and fear-mongering".

Might sorta be why the word "all" wasn't used there. I'm guessing Polarity27 sentences immediately before that about all the nice Republicans was put there in a foolish hope not to be criticised for lumping all Republicans into a monolithic evil whole, in exactly the way Poliarty27 did not.

She didn't have to use the word "all", she implied that when she typed that voting for a republican is contributing to "oppression and fear-mongering".

Wait, weren't you banned? Like, in a permanent sort of way?

Anyways, the concept of responsibility and isn't that clear-cut in ethics, especially responsibility through inaction. If I'm walking down the street, and someone has a heart attack, and I just keep walking without calling an ambulance or helping out, am I responsible for his death? Or if I fail to donate to a charity, knowing that victims of (insert world problem here) will die even though I could easily have helped, should I feel responsible?

In the end, responsibility is a tough thing to define, and statements like "all Germans were responsible for the Holocaust" don't help anyone. Though I suppose it could be part of that whole national guilt thing Germans suffer from (imo they're too hard on themselves). All I can say is, don't judge too harshly, because your ethics can easily be turned against you.

Helmholtz Watson:
She didn't have to use the word "all", she implied that when she typed that voting for a republican is contributing to "oppression and fear-mongering".

How is saying the Republican party is involved in oppression and fear-mongering the same as saying every Republican is?

thaluikhain:

Helmholtz Watson:
She didn't have to use the word "all", she implied that when she typed that voting for a republican is contributing to "oppression and fear-mongering".

How is saying the Republican party is involved in oppression and fear-mongering the same as saying every Republican is?

She made is sound as if voting for any Republican is to contribute to fear mongering and impression.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked