The Essential Authoritarian: “Personal responsibility” is a fetish [Darleen Click]
Yes, really. Not only is it a fetish, but it absolutely reeks of Xtianity, too.
It’s that it introduces the concept of “sin” into a discussion about public health. I realize that Sam surely didn’t intend it that way. It’s telling that Christianity is so pervasive that its ideas even penetrate atheist circles. “Self-discipline” can’t really be extracted meaningfully in this debate from the concept of sin and punishment. [...]
But if you reject this notion and instead view negative health effects of overeating as a public health problem to be solved, then the question of “self-discipline” becomes silly.
Certainly it does. In order to manage the herds, you must convince individuals they are not only hopelessly outmatched by their own impulses …
Self-control is neither a fixed quality nor completely under (oh irony) our control.
… but their problems exist outside themselves and can only be “solved” by the benevolent, wise Master who really does know how to better run your life than you do.
When you’re engaging in problem-solving, it’s best to start by looking at things you can control, and leave the discourse of sin and redemption to the wayside. [...]
We can’t fix people’s impulse control, but we can fix their environments through collective action. [...]
What I would like is for public health discourse to simply get over this fetish for “personal responsibility”. It’s a red herring. First of all, it’s not really a static quality you either have or you don’t. Second of all, it’s not something that’s responsive to scolding, which is the only solution people who love to trot out “personal responsibility” will accept. If we actually give a shit about people and their health, then we have to look at what we can do and what we can fix.
Don’t you just love that royal “we”? Especially when only a few of the anointed will be holding the whip.
This isn’t really about trying to find the best way to help those who need it, this is about precluding every way of helping that isn’t under Big Government auspices. Mandy asserts that Christianity’s only response to “sin” is “punishment” — dismissing the whole gamut of Christian (and Jewish) charity, large and small, that operate from the premise that all humans are sinners and it is individual duty to help fellow sinners to find it within themselves to transcend our nature.
Incidentally, the sexual health debate suffers from the same problem. Even if you accept (which I don’t) the premise that abstinence is inherently good, and that’s what people “should” do, I have the same response: So what? You can say “should” until you’re blue in the face, and people are still going to fuck. If you actually want to fix the problems of STD transmission and unintended pregnancy, you have to deal with people how they are, not how they “should” be.
The essential authoritarian must destroy individual initiative and responsibility in order to make The State the only god of the masses.
There is nothing innocent about it at all.
adulthood, authoritariansim, leftism, personal responsibility