At the heart of entitlement culture lies the human rights delusion

Entitlement culture is exhibited by people with the belief and the attitude that the world (their families, their neighbours, their government, their employers, the rest of humanity) owes them something merely because they exist. The culture is toxic.

The culture of entitlement is a “you owe me” attitude, one where people believe that society, a company, or government owes them something and they do not have to earn or deliver value for what they receive. These people believe they are owed something because of who they are or what social group or union they belong to—not because of what they earn.

People who feel entitled take for granted what they have and keep asking for more, and the more they get the more they expect. They focus more on what they are owed than what they contribute. In a culture of entitlement, peer pressure to perform is replaced by peer pressure to conform to the lowest common denominator; looking good is more important than doing the right thing.

Image : Reddit

It is a “me” focus which is closely associated with narcissism. Societies which focus on rights and entitlements rather than performance and duties, reap entitlement cultures in return. When governments usurp the duties and responsibilities of individuals, parents, families, schools, and companies they downgrade responsibility and promote entitlements. It is not surprising that “Nanny States” which foster the abrogation of individual responsibilities encourage a sense of entitlement. Children grow up feeling entitled, without any obligations,  to an education, a job, a living and a vacation. Paradoxically, welfare safety nets designed to assist the less fortunate end up also inculcating a false sense of entitlement. The permanently unemployed and the permanent students are consequences. Those who feel entitled cannot feel indebted and this reduces their own sense of obligations. Entitlement attitudes are promoted whenever reward is decoupled from performance. Inevitably, such rewards, which would normally be earned, (respect, appreciation, promotion, ….) are then considered entitlements or “rights”.

At the heart of entitlement culture lies the focus on misguided and imaginary concepts of “rights” and “human rights” instead of duties. Far better to have conceived a “Bill of Duties” rather than a “Bill of Rights”.

The human rights delusion

The world does not owe any living things – including humans – anything, whether as individuals or as species. No species has any entitlement to exist. Human survival or happiness or suffering are resultant states, not entitlements. A so-called ” human right” is an entitlement to privilege; where an entitlement is a promise and a privilege is a position of advantage for an individual or a group. ………. The post-WW2 concept of “human rights” is as an artificial, social construct of universal entitlements of unconditional privilege. No qualification is required. It is of an imagined, social contract between every individual and the rest of humanity. The individual’s entitlements are to be considered free of the cost of any duties and are an obligation upon everybody else.

…….. The UN Declaration is about what behaviour all individuals are entitled to receive but never directly about how an individual should behave. It is about what everybody else owes an individual. It is insidious and subversive in that it justifies the idea of having entitlements without any corresponding obligations. …. Where is the UN Declaration on Human Duties?

……… The artificial “human rights” concept and its imaginary social contract is unbalanced and untenable. If there is no cost to the acquisition of human rights, then they can have no great value. ……. Entitlements without duties are no social contract and ultimately, anti-social. It is only by aligning desired behaviour with perceptions of self-interest (and not just the interests of others), that we will see a change in the desired direction.

A human is defined by behaviour exhibited, not by behaviour received. 

Received behaviour (and the perception of “rights”) emerge as reflections of behaviour actually exhibited. Achieving some desired level of received behaviour is better served by a sharp focus on the behaviour expected from each individual (by the local surrounding society), rather than the diffuse focus of what the whole universe owes as received behaviour to every individual.



Tags: ,

4 Responses to “At the heart of entitlement culture lies the human rights delusion”

  1. Sampath Says:

    While not disagreeing with the idea propogated in this essay, the article appears somehow incomplete.

    What are these duties to be fulfilled?…..qualifications to earn rights?…..behaviour to be exhibited ?

  2. ktwop Says:

    I think an individual’s duty can only be the behaviour expected of that individual (by the individual internally or by the surrounding society – family, community, club, country ….). Such expectations of behaviour need, I think, to be tangible and local rather than intangible and universal.
    Local realities rather than global platitudes.
    It is a matter of focus – on behaviour exhibited rather than behaviour received. Of course received behaviour becomes a consequence but it is the cart not the horse.

  3. Charles Haward Soper Says:

    Oh yes. And what does a human do to earn a right not to be tortured? And the modern idea that the first reference to human rights comes in the UN Declaration is so shabby as to wreck the rest of the argument. The ideas pre-date the UN by hundreds of years

    • ktwop Says:

      The delusion is, as you say, very old. But the UN Declaration is the modern version of the delusion. The having of an entitlement not to be tortured or killed or robbed is of no value if you do suffer any of those things. The behaviour you actually receive is a function of the behaviour of others. If that behaviour fulfills prevailing Duties then that will result in your not being tortured or killed or robbed.
      It is the fulfilling of duties which will achieve the goals of behaviour to be received, not the declaration of imaginary entitlements.
      (Why the unverifiable email?)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: