THE PRESENT STATUS OF SOCIOLOGY IN GERMANY 735
The first symptom of the undifferentiated condition of groups is collective responsibility. This lack of differentiation is both subjective on the part of the one observing and judging, and objective on the part of the group judged. Conversely collec- tive responsibility is a powerful hindrance to differentiation, since inasmuch as the group is identified with each of its members it is compelled to show a compact front against a third party in order to maintain its defense. This necessity of compactness is the first and strongest occasion for integration.
When through a long process of differentiation the group has arrived at a certain height of development, there appears the astonishing tendency to revert toward collective responsi- bility. Thus men are today trying to throw the blame for indi- vidual faults upon society. But the sociological conception of the individual as "the point of intersection of countless socia threads," while in part relieving the individual of responsibility, on the whole places more responsibilities upon him than would be possible with the atomistic conception.
Simmel credits the "extension of the group" with a high degree of individualizing force. Differentiation within a group proceeds in two ways : by the differentiation of the individual members within the group, and by attachment of the whole group to a larger social circle. From such attachment there results not only a severance of many bonds of union with the narrower group, but innumerable possibilities are opened for new relationships i. e., for differentiation.
In the chapter on The Social Level Simmel declares, in oppo- sition to all previous explanations, that the psychological ground of all struggles for equality, the socialistic included, is endeavor after higher status, not for actual equality. It is in point of fact very characteristic that in such social struggles for equality the weapons are mostly used only against the class that is imme- diately above, not against the highest. It appears that this eminently socializing motive contains a vigorous individual! element.
Particular mention should be made of the point of view that