Collective Guilt

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This expression of categorism is the idea that individuals are guilty of having done things that they have in fact not done, sometimes including things that happened before they were born - in some cases going all the way to category original sin. Not to be confused with the responsibility to change, and to avoid reproducing, destructive structures that one benefits from but did not create. (In Swedish: kollektiv skuld)


This facet of categorism is an expression of: bigotry, on the dogmatic level.

It is likely to intersect with facets such as:

  • Category Agency: "They have done the thing they are considered guilty of", as if actions could be taken by categories rather than actual humans. Such notions of Category Agency are pretty much a prerequisite for a notion of Collective Guilt to make any sense at all.
  • Monolithization: Treating a category as if it was a monolith makes it easier to justify collective guilt.

As well as with abstractions such as:

  • Categorization by Narrativism: In this story about guilt, the guilt doesn't seem collective since the category is treated as a character in the story rather than as a category of characters.

Examples of applying this facet to a particular foci of categorism can include:

  • Antisemitism: The perhaps most classic concept of collective guilt is the idea that all Jews are somehow guilty of crucifying Jesus.
  • Sexism: A heterosexual person (of either gender) blaming their traumatic experiences with individuals of the opposite gender on everyone of that gender, making the assumption that complete strangers are guilty of for example how they felt an ex treated them.