On People

This was written in 1992. No doubt it is most UN-Dutch: According to the Dutch (in vast majority) "there are no good guys and there are no bad guys" - by government decision, and according to their Constitution.

Personally, I think otherwise - and here follow two lists of oppositions.


People without individual character are


higher status implies more rights and more insight


the leader or the majority is right


what is true depends on their current interest


personal interests decide what the truth is


things matter only to the extent they further their own interest


their god is the social status of their self


to love is joy in another's existence and potential


to be morally good is to follow the leader and the majority


the respectable truth is the majority's or leader's opinions


promises are kept only if self-interest is served


they need a leader or a majority to "know" the truth


moral principles hold only if consistent with self-interest


unable to stand on their own legs & carve their on path


all cruelty is compensation for weakness


middle of the road is safest, easiest, and most popular


their social behaviour is make-belief to impress others


dedicated self-interest requires calculation of impressions


since they're phoneys, they're easily hurt by criticism


everything is related by them to how it makes them appear


they can only develop, not originate


because relative truth changes with interest and fashion


being true to the leader and false to oneself makes careers


the supreme good is one's own status, income and power


where everyone deceives everyone, everyone fears everyone


for those in continuous fear of others there's little joy


ambitious egoists like dependent inferiors


they believe their own lies because this makes careers


their widest horizon is that of their ego and its status


their personal identity largely coincides with their status


right or wrong, one's groupmembers and leaders are helped


concern goes by convention, sympathy by self-interest


keeping up the appearances of a deserving loyal group-member


I scratch your back if and only if you scratch mine


because incapable of objective logical argumentation


because incapable of living by impersonal ethical principles

And here is the contrast - the above and below explains a lot about the previous "Century of Total War" in Raymond Aron's apt title of one of his books. It is the people without individual characters who everywhere are the majority; it is the majorities everywhere that persecute their own minorities or anyone not One of Us


People with individual character are

Not authoritarian

rights or insight do not depend on social status

Not totalitarian

truth does not depend on opinions of leaders/majorities

Not relativists

truth does not depend on anyone's interests

Not ideological

truth does not depend on one's personal values

Not egoists

what's valuable is not only what serves my interests

Not ambitious

a high social status is important only for fools

Not unloving

to love is joy in another's existence and potential

Not conformists

to be morally good is to live by good moral principles

Not fashionable

truth is respectable because true, not because in fashion

Not unreliable

promises are kept if humanly feasible (or not made)

Not followers

think & choose by your own lights

Not cowards

a moral principle remains one if counter to self-interest

Not weak

able to stand on their on legs and live their own lives

Not cruel

there's no great weakness to compensate for

Not unpersonal

middle of the road is only followed if true and just

Not phoneys

no careers made on impression-management & networking

Not unspontaneous

as one doesn't need to uphold a role (one can't play)

Not sensitive

personal criticism is based on a theory like any other theory

Not role-players

they don't go by what others might think of them

Not uncreative

they can both originate and develop

Not unprincipled

principles remain principles if others dislike them

Not hypocrites

a career based on lies is mental and moral suicide

Not careerists

the supreme good isn't one's own status, income and power

Not fearful

there's no need to fear others for deceiving them

Not joyless

the only thing worth fearing is human folly

Not power-hungry

power implies responsibility, which is demanding & hard

Not self-deceived

they don't believe their own lies

Not self-limited

their horizon lies beyond self-interest

Not exteriors

their identity is interior, self-built and unique

Not loyal

principles are prior to loyalties

Not insincere

concern and sympathy are not dependent on self-interest

Not respectable

keeping up the appearances fits fools, weaklings & liars

Not tit-for-tat

acts are not done because one expects to be paid

Not irrational

capable of objective logical argumentation

Not unreasonable

capable of living by impersonal ethical principles


Incidentally, the Dutch Labour Party "PvdA" has probably, outside North Korea, the largest proportion of people without individual character. It has a very succesful party for 50 years: If you were Dutch but weren't born rich and yet lacked all conscience, it was a virtually cetainty you would become a prominent Dutch Labour politician, if you are my age.

I am not, but then I have the handicap of an individual mind, an individual character, a conscience and considerable courage, next to the handicap of my disease.

Naar: ME in Amsterdam index