Divorcing choice from responsibility can be a means to combat the painful sense of individual helplessness – by denying even the possibility of individual control.
Image: ArtPorn Magazine
Divorcing choice from responsibility is always wrong. Making it an organizing principle of society is evil. It is easy to see how shrugging off responsibility is wrong. We call people who don’t want to bear responsibility “childish” and those who demand social bailout “freeloaders”. But the principle is just as broken when responsibility is observed – but choice is denied. Such is the case for the social fundamentalists, conservatives and traditionalists, who – for whatever reason – only allow one kind of life to exist among them. They deny the existence of life choices – but enforce responsibility for them nonetheless.
Divorcing choice from responsibility – on both sides of the ideological divide
Another ideologically neutral characteristic of authoritarian and authority-based thinkers is their efforts to separate choice from responsibility. It can be achieved by saving people from consequences – or by denying the existence of choice.
On one side, you are allowed to make your choice, choose your identity, love, life path, occupation, passions and living, you can even choose to be a unicorn – and the community bails you out if it ends badly. The consequences of your choice are thus separated from your choice by eliminating responsibility. Everyone knows to scorn those who do this.
On the other side, you are told that there is no choice, this is the only thing you can do, everyone does that, that’s the normal. Everyone is either man or woman, works, pays taxes, marries, have children, that’s Nature, that’s evolution, there isn’t even anything else in the world. The only “choice” you are allowed to make (in the first world) is when you marry and whom – not whether to marry and whether to have kids). But once you walked in, you are left to deal with the consequences.
Either way, a crucial link between choice and consequence is broken and a frustrated society’s punishing instincts are unleashed on those who don’t accept the paradigm.
While homogenising behaviour on both sides of the ideological debate we try to disassociate choice from consequences. Rather than entering the debate on whether marriage is optional or whether one should bear the cost and live with the consequences of a sex change operation, one should marvel at the desperate desire to disconnect choice from consequences by all sides.
Breaking the link between choice and consequence by denying either is another way to not feel helpless. It is either not your choice or not your fault, but either way, no one has more control than you do.