Herman Hesse Quote

“Any attempt to replace a personal conscience by a collective conscience does violence to the individual and is the first step toward totalitarianism.”

~ Herman Hesse

Reflections, 1974

Ratings and Comments


Robert, Sarasota

Everyone should read this before going to church on a Sunday, listening to government, or those mindless radio talk shows...

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

In addition, any attempt to deny that we have a responsibility to those who live around us, or in whose midst we live, is a denial of reality, and possibly a first symptom of incipient sociopathy.

E Archer, NYC

The only responsibilities I have towards those around me are to keep the promises I have made, treat them as I would like to be treated, and to come to the aid of those whose rights are being abused. Living by The Golden Rule is an individual choice, not a collective duty. A conscience IS personal, else it is merely programming.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

You have responsibilities that are legitimately imposed by the collective. You have the choice to comply or evacuate, or otherwise suffer the consequences of your refusal to meet the responsibilities reasonably imposed. If you leave, you will probably relocate to another collective, with another set of responsibilities that it will impose on you. If you do not comply, you will suffer the consequences.

E Archer, NYC

David, speak for yourself. I cannot think of any responsibilies that are imposed upon me by the collective. I have rights that cannot be infringed by the collective or another individual. Unless I have signed some sort of agreement that waives these rights, I still possess them. Of course, when I am on someone else's property, I must respect the wishes of the owner with respect to his property -- but I still retain all my freedoms of speech, defense, etc.. I may voluntarily enter into agreements with associations and abide by their by-laws, but that responsibility is not imposed upon me by the collective but by myself when taking responsibility for my choice to join the association. But when I'm walking down the street minding my own business, I owe no duty to anyone, and my rights and respect of others rights (and property) are still in effect.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

David is as precisely on target as anyone could possibly ever be - as relates to responsibilities and collectives (the 'society' which Bastiat claims "is contrary to Nature") - he did say "In addition ... .

As relates to conscience, there is no such thing as a 'collective conscience'. Using a term like 'collective conscience' is pretending a fictional construct is an actual entity. We do that a lot. We make up 'noun-subjects' that don't exist and then proceed to use them in sentences as though they were 'some-thing' when, in fact, they're 'no-thing'.

No one knows nothing and he knows it best.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

E. Archer: Try crashing your vehicle, while not having obtained liabilty insurance. Try demonstrating, in the street, without a permit issued by the police department f the jurisdiction where you demonstrate. Try smoking pot in front of the police station (well, maybe you could get away with that). Try shooting your gun in the city, just to hear the bang. Try pulling down your pants and defecating on the sidewalk. Try selling pirated copies of the Bible or other copyrighted material. Try crossing the street against the traffic light...in San Diego, at least, you get ticketed for jaywalking. Try ignoring the red lights. While you are "minding your own business" you are constantly crossing paths with others who are also minding their own business. Who is going to move aside to let the other pass? I do not know. But whoever refuses to do so might be made to respond for something like battery, or some other little crime, for not fulfilling a citizen's responsibility to negotiate the right of way in good faith.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

E. A.; I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you 'joined' the 'collective' by being born. That was when you 'agreed' to abide by it's 'rules', like them or not - and - when you walk down the street you have constant, innumerable, never-ceasing 'duties' at all times. There are no property boundaries to 'duties'. 'Liberty' is not 'license'. It's not even 'license' to ignore. Ignorance is no excuse - for any-thing.

E Archer, NYC

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you 'joined' the 'collective' by being born." Hogwash -- spoken like a true collectivist -- laying claim to others.
AHD definition of collective: An undertaking, such as a business operation, set up on the principles or system of collectivism.
Definition of collectivism: The principles or system of ownership and control of the means of production and distribution by the people collectively, usually under the supervision of a government.

We require insurance to drive our vehicles because we promised to do so when we applied for our license and granted our vehicles into trust to the state -- the state then requires us to insure their car -- so again, a voluntary agreement. You don't need a license to travel. The long list of offenses David listed have little to with the collective and a lot do with commercial law. If you are trying to convince me that the government promotes collectivist (as defined above) policies, I heartily agree. Should they? Most likely not. Most of the so-called laws today in the US are commercial statutes that only apply to those within commercial jurisdictions. As stated in other posts, the individual is being treated as a corporation subject to the Uniform Commercial Code, but for the most part, it does not apply to sovereign individuals (but you can't be sovereign if you are receiving government entitlements). Of course if you want to be part of the social welfare system, you will have to sign up for it (voluntarily) and obey every regulation in the club's charter. Just like the Army -- when you sign up with them, you are subject to every article in the military code -- the Army owns your body -- you must live up to every word of that contract or else possibly be shot. Again, a choice. The free man has a right to indenture himself -- but not to indenture others.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

E. Archer: I wonder whether you are even aware that you sidestepped most of the questions, the ones you can't contest.

E Archer, NYC

David, I wonder if YOU are aware that the only question posed by anyone was "Who is going to move aside to let the other pass?" Well, gee, let's ask a committee... My goodness, how do people manage to walk down the street without the aid of the collective -- what ever will the individual do when he meets another going in the opposite direction? LOL

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

OK. What I posed were not questions. They were challenges. I meant to imply that the challenges begged answers. Forgive me for overestimating you.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

E. A.; It's nice to use one's preferred definition after criticizing the reference as perhaps inadequate isn't it? I took your advice and procured the following definition for 'collective' from Merriam-Webster per your recommendation.
collective
Main Entry: collective
Function: noun
1 : a collective body : GROUP
2 : a cooperative unit or organization; specifically : COLLECTIVE FARM

I somehow doubt you're not in a 'collective body' but if you're not, I'm sure you've let them (the collective body you're in, that is) know anyway.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

I thought I'd address this little piece of 'wisom' regarding my "I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you 'joined' the 'collective' by being born.":
Hogwash -- spoken like a true collectivist -- laying claim to others.

An observation does not a proponent make. Observing 9-11 was hardly an indication of approval. Nice try though. Clear thinking too.

Mike, Norwalk

Paraphrasing Terry's so apply stated dialogue on 'collective conscience', it is a non-existing phantasm and its use only continues to enslave the ignorant. E Archer is still right; though the Totalitarian Democratic Oligarchy forcibly imposes its mob mentality by violating the rights and being of the individual, the individual inalienably retains all rights and the responsibilities related there to.

Mike, Norwalk

ok, not exactly a paraphrase :)

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