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What is collective guilt?

Are people guilty by association? Are they guilty because of national or even political affiliation? Does democracy effect this at all?

Collective guilt is a theory whose practical manifestation is called ‘collective punishment’. It defines a notion wherein a large population of actually or seemingly related individuals are held responsible for the actions of a few who claim or are assumed to be part of or otherwise represent that group.

Many people are comfortable with supporting the idea of collective guilt as a theory, but upon examination, few seek to execute it in practice.

Some famous historical examples of the execution of collective punishment include German fascists shooting mass quantities of Poles and Jews for the acts attributed to a local individual or small groups found to have resisted German rule.

Collective punishment was also dealt to the martyred family of Tsar Nikolai II when the Bolsheviks killed the Tsar along with his family, including his young children.  Tsar Nikolai II and his family are recognised as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church for their martyrdom at the hands of the blood soaked Bolsheviks.

After 9/11, many supporters of George W. Bush called for death to be rained down on innocent Muslims who hate Wahhabist terrorism as much as any non-Muslim. Bush indeed punished the people and leaders of Iraq who had nothing to do with 9/11, simply for living in a Muslim majority country. Every other pseudo-justification offered at the time turned out to be a massive pack of lies. Christian Iraqis were numbered among the dead and displaced.

This is why I do not believe those in western countries should face retribution for the fact that their leaders are sponsors and conductors of terrorist atrocities such as the war on Yugoslavia, war on Iraq, war on Libya and proxy wars on Syria.

Although sadly, only a minority in western countries question and oppose their governments, jurisprudence in most jurisdictions often looks at one’s mental state at the time of a crime. Ignorance or mental incapacity is often a factor used to determine the severity of one’s sentence.

In the case of western citizens tacitly or even knowingly supporting their governments, it is merely a case of mass ignorance enforced by constant propaganda from the mainstream media.

Germany in the 1930s which had one of the most highly educated populations in the world, still fell victim to techniques not entirely dissimilar to the ones used in contemporary European and American mainstream media. This was a society that still appreciated Beethoven, yet it still generally supported a wicked government. Today’s western culture is vastly more regressive than even that which existed in the dark 1930s of Europe.

Collective punishment would ultimately leave much of the world’s population dead. The people who would stand to be punished are those who generally just want to go about their daily lives.  Those who engage in politics whether those who are ethical or those who are propagandists in the service of western terroristic war or jihadist atrocities are both in the statistical minority.

The vast majority of people are indifferent. Indifference is not a crime, it is an inevitability. If the opposite were true, western Democracy would be a lot more vibrant than its current stagnant state.

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Adam Garrie
Managing Editor atThe Duran

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