I have read or heard many writers, commentators or advanced friends of mine, often on the right but not always, rebel against the idea of bearing a share of the blame, for being male, in the assassination of Giulia Cecchettin. Nor therefore to bring any blame for any other femicide: I, they say, have nothing to do with a scoundrel criminal, I have never given a woman a slap, I have never told her to shut up, I believe in equality and I practice it every single day. And then, someone adds, extending responsibility to all males risks relativizing that of the murderer. It is not a trivial debate and it comes from afar. I think I am not wrong if I attribute the origin of the concept of “collective responsibility” to Hannah Arendt. Of course you were referring to the Holocaust, but you phrased it so that it was applicable in other cases and other times. There is a profound difference between “individual guilt” and “collective responsibility”.
The fault is necessarily individual and the consequences, especially criminal ones, are individual. But “collective responsibility” is political, and everyone must assume it, even for what they have not done, for the simple reason of belonging to a group or a society. And that is – the rereading is mine – am I sure I am beyond reproach? Have I never discriminated against a woman? I’ve never uttered barracks lines? Or giggled at other people’s jokes? Have I never made sexist comments? And if the answer to all these questions is never, how much did I do to make others stop, or to make things better? This is collective responsibility, and if it is not there, there is no community (or, if you prefer, nation).