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Old 07-24-2019, 12:29 PM
steronz is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Oh-hiya-Maude
Posts: 5,163

Personal responsibility, or avoiding responsibility?

This is an offshoot from the "which conservative values aren't based on bigotry" thread. From page 1:

Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
How about "personal responsibility" as a conservative value? It's one of mine, and it isn't based on bigotry.
Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
Personal responsibility is a liberal value as well, Shodan.
Originally Posted by Airbeck View Post
"Personal Responsibility" is a platitude.
For the purposes of this thread, let's sidestep Airbeck's point about whether or not personal responsibility is even a value, and JohnT's point about (if it is a value) it's uniquely conservative. Certainly conservatives have claimed it as a value, so I want to look at what that means from a conservative standpoint.

As a bit of background for my own point of view, I live in a neighborhood that was founded in racism. About 100 years ago, racist developers bought a bunch of land, incorporated as a city, and sold off deeds that prohibited blacks or Jews from ever owning those plots. Where the city lines ran up against existing housing, the lines were drawn so as to exclude individual blocks (or even specific sides of individual blocks of streets) that were considered to be "too Italian," or too ethnic. When discriminatory deed restrictions were ruled unconstitutional in 1948, the neighborhood continued to keep blacks out by requiring potential homeowners to receive a majority vote from neighborhood associations. This persisted until challenged in court in the late 1970s.

Within the community there's always been a strong pro-social movement. Churches, civic associations, and clubs all exist to help out neighbors in need. People feel responsible for their neighbors. And yet, 100 years ago, the initial residents felt so little responsibility for neighbors who didn't look like them that they built an entirely new city right next to the old one just to keep them out.

The 3rd generation residents of my neighborhood, many of whom are still living here, might now, as modern conservatives, still feel no strong responsibility for communities outside of this one, instead feeling that those residents should take personal responsibility for their own situations.

In this way, I can't help but feel that "personal responsibility" as a value cannot be disconnected from the racist history of a society. It's very clear that a moral wrong was committed; that this moral wrong has a lasting effect on residents of the city on both sides; and that many residents who benefited and continue to benefit from that moral wrong feel that they didn't inherit any responsibility in correcting that moral wrong under the guise of personal responsibility.


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