Tag: collectivism

Make Individualism Great Again

Josh Hughes | United States

Individuality is one of the greatest gifts a person can possess. The ability to be yourself and become whomever and whatever you want to be is a privilege so great, yet so often wasted and taken for granted. The time that we live in now undoubtedly favors collectivism over individualism. In fact, many will persecute you for trying to be yourself and “march to the beat of your own drum” rather than follow a crowd. The loss of individuality from society will stand to gain nothing but negative effects.

Mainstream Collectivism

Collectivism is being heavily pushed in many facets, most notably in schools, corporations, and the media. In places of learning all over the country, individuality is becoming frowned upon and slowly moved away from. In a theme which is common to every area listed, collectivism is being rebranded with nicer sounding synonyms such as “collaboration.” This is not to say that somethings cannot be done better in a group setting, but when it reaches the point that schoolchildren are conditioned to always work in a team rather than reach a solution on their own, there is an issue. As a current student, I can personally attest to the fact that “group work” has become more and more prevalent. Again, working as a team is not inherently the problem; rather, it’s the idea that solutions are always reached better or more efficiently in a group setting rather than individually.

Another area that collectivism is commonly seen is in the workforce. This idea is often seen in many major corporations, specifically. Think of the last Google or Apple ad that you saw. There’s a good chance the ad was, in some form or another, stressing the idea of “teamwork” or “collaboration.” Much of the new technology being developed now is made with a focus for collaboration and working together with other users. Regardless of their intentions, advertisements that consistently promote collectivism and intentionally ignore individualism give the millions of viewers a very clear idea of what’s accepted.

In a way that coincides with the point about advertising, the media almost always tends to shun individualism. Rather, they resort to grouping and profiling individuals into specific groups. Instead of focusing on a person’s events, they will focus on their sex, race, religion, or other affiliations. It does not matter if someone is a straight white male or a gay black woman or anything in between, it cannot be denied that the smallest minority is the individual. Every person is totally unique from everyone else and should be viewed as such.

What Have These Actions Led To?

With every major influencer in America focusing on these ideas, identities for the common man have been stripped. Rather than being an individual, every person is a part of some group and is esteemed based off of the group’s actions. This has led to people becoming shadows and parrots of their idols and influencers. We live in an age of NPC’s, where no one really exists.

Think of the possibilities of a society full of people that thought and acted for themselves rather than following a mainstream. The creative and innovative explosion would be something to marvel at. Not to mention, a society that thinks is a society that is free. A nation full of independent thinkers would surely lead to increased liberty.

The age of listening to and following celebrities and those that are in charge should be behind us. Rather, we should heed the words of philosophers such as Ayn Rand, who promoted total individuality in an era of Communism where collectivity reigned supreme. The current era is moving closer and closer towards this, with collectivism having a direct correlation to socialism. The scarce free minds that are left need to resist this trend and continue to think for themselves. However, if you’re one of that group, you don’t need me to tell you that.


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Charles Taylor’s Modern Social Imaginaries: Getting Western Thought Wrong

By Alexander Robak | United States

In Charles Taylor’s 2003 magnum opus work, Modern Social Imaginaries, he retells the story of the basis of political and philosophical thought in the western world. Charles Taylor uses dozens of examples from across the globe to support his theses and further the description of what he refers to as a “Social Imaginary.” However, in this masterful piece of political literature, there exists one flaw with his theses. The author uses specific examples to come to the conclusion that the basic points of the western social imaginary are based on mutual aid, cooperation, and the exchange of both services and goods to secure a prosperous living situation for all within the society. However, I disagree with him on this point.

It is evident that the basis of western society is, and always has been, individualism and the goal of attaining success, whatever that may be, for the individual. There exists sufficient evidence to prove that altruism is not a founding principle of our social imaginary; rather, it is individualism that has gotten us to where we are today in terms of economic, social, and governmental based spheres of our collective social imaginary. While there are some points in this book that I do personally disagree with, this book does serve as a comprehensive retelling of our current social imaginary, from the perspective of a collectivist.

The basis of this book serves as a stepping stone for the author to describe our current form of thought. There exists three spheres of our society, each one of which serves specific purposes to our collective social imaginary, and fosters specific sentiment within those who contribute to the imaginary at large. The author then goes on to show us how as the economic, social, and governmental spheres work in conjunction with another They create an imaginary that works as a collective. In saying this, he means that our society works together to achieve mutual benefit rather than self-benefit.

For example, he describes the economic sphere as being not a zero-sum game, rather with a fair and regulated economic exchange system, we can achieve, and have achieved a state in which economic exchange exists to benefit both parties, rather than just one.  However, I disagree with the author on this point. Since our economic sphere in the west is currently based on capitalistic practices, has always been based on these practices, and always will be, I believe that it makes more sense for society to be driven by the individualist mindset, rather than a collectivist form of thought due to the fact that the individual will always put his needs before the needs of the others which exist in society. This is evident in the fact that it has always been a personal search for success that drives innovation in Capitalist societies. The vast majority of individuals are not simply motivated by an opportunity to help other people. Rather, humans are animals that look out for one’s self and one’s self only.

However, I digress. This is only one of a few points in this book that I disagree with. There is one point in this book that the author attempts to draw connections between spirituality and communitarianism through virtue signaling of biblical and religious texts. In doing this, he attempts to discredit individualism as being falsely tied to spirituality.  However, I do not believe that religious or spiritual ties to either collectivism or individualism are entirely relevant, even within the social sphere. This is due to the fact that due to variance in modern spiritual and religious viewpoints, either collectivism or individualism can be linked to spirituality, depending on interpretation.

In one part of the book, Charles Taylor talked about how western modernities aid us in learning about other social imaginaries beyond our own. The reasoning behind this is due to other states dependence on the west in both the governmental and economic spheres of the social imaginary. Therefore, due to western hegemony across the globe in these spheres, the social sphere of other cultures is changing to fit a western social imaginary as well. This is simply the consequence of maintaining a global hegemony both economically and politically. This also helps us to learn about the social imaginaries of other cultures and how they continue to shift and adapt to our own overbearing imaginaries.

In the fourth chapter of the book, Charles Taylor begins to talk about a phenomenon called the great disembedding, in which in the social sphere, people become progressively more disenchanted with ancient social imaginaries as a new modernity sets in. This is an agreeable point made by the author, as our social imaginaries are always shifting in order to adapt to changes within the economic and governmental spheres of our society. All things considered, Charles Taylor did, in fact, make some reasonable assessments regarding the progress of our social imaginary and the impacts surrounding it in all three spheres of our society.

I do believe that Charles Taylor was incorrect in his thesis that our western social imaginary is based both politically and philosophically on principles of mutual aid, cooperation, and zero-sum games that are meant to secure prosperous living conditions for all within the society. However, some of the tangents that he focuses on in later chapters regarding the disembedding of individuals from the social imaginary, as well as the hegemony of these modernities are in fact quite agreeable in nature. In conclusion, this book was masterfully composed of riveting ideas about our modern social imaginaries.


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Movements Are Visionary, Not Cautious

Craig Axford | Canada

Hearings, dialogue and debate are, or at least should be, means to an end in a functioning democratic society. Unfortunately, they’re too often ends unto themselves. Promising to study a problem or hold a hearing “to look into it” is what politicians do to make it appear as though they’re interested without ever having to risk their necks by endorsing a particular idea.

So when likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans to bring back a select committee on climate change that had been disbanded by the previous Republican majority, it was reasonable for some of the incoming freshmen Democrats to question its real purpose. If committee hearings are going to be held, they’re insisting the hearings be about meaningful climate legislation instead of even more learned testimony on science that’s was settled long ago. As Evan Weber of the Sunrise Movement put it to Politico, “We’ve been talking about the science for the past two decades.”

The incoming Democratic House majority will find it tempting to spend much of the next two years doing little more than poring over Donald Trump’s tax returns, which they will presumably issue a subpoena for early next year. Likewise, the current administration’s cabinet is full of individuals as venal as their chief. It will certainly be refreshing to finally see them all held accountable for their misconduct.

That said, governments don’t build and retain confidence among their citizens merely by diligently investigating corruption. People have proven over and over again that they are willing to tolerate a great deal of unethical behavior in their leaders if, in exchange, they feel they are receiving a reasonable degree of economic and physical security, or even just listened to.

The GOP has mastered the art of creating the illusion that people are getting something in return when they vote for them. Whether it’s so-called “tax relief” or protecting jobs by getting tough on immigration, the Republican Party has consistently been able to convince a significant number of Americans it’s looking out for them even as it stabs them in the back. The antidote to their misleading and often dangerous rhetoric isn’t hearings; it’s direct positive action that translates into real change people can actually see and feel in their lives.

The leadership of the Democratic Party would be wise, therefore, to embrace incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s call for the creation of a select committee that instead of just talking about climate change is charged with drafting legislation to do something about it. She is calling it the “Select Committee on a Green New Deal”.

The select committee shall have authority to develop a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan (hereinafter in this section referred to as the “Plan for a Green New Deal” or the “Plan”) for the transition of the United States economy to become carbon neutral and to significantly draw down and capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and oceans and to promote economic and environmental justice and equality. ~ Section 2 A(i) of the Draft Text for Proposed Addendum to House Rules for 116TH Congress of The United States

 Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution is similar in its approach, if not yet in its level of detail, to Canada’s Leap Manifesto. That document translates the progressive principles that emerged from the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s into concrete proposals aimed at achieving both equality and sustainability.

We want a universal program to build energy efficient homes, and retrofit existing housing, ensuring that the lowest income communities and neighbourhoods will benefit first and receive job training and opportunities that reduce poverty over the long term…We declare that “austerity” — which has systematically attacked low-carbon sectors like education and healthcare, while starving public transit and forcing reckless energy privatizations — is a fossilized form of thinking that has become a threat to life on earth.~ Leap Manifesto (Emphasis included in original)

I had the privilege of working as a DNC organizer for three years. I was hired as part of Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy following his election as Chair of the DNC in 2005. Dean’s vision for party-building paid off in 2006 when the Democrats took back Congress, and again in 2008 when Barack Obama won the presidency.

However, the organizing effort that arose from John Kerry’s defeat in 2004 took place in the context of growing opposition to the war in Iraq and a Democratic Party galvanized against the domestic policies of George W. Bush. Then as now, opposition was the driving unifying force on the left. The failure to clearly and consistently articulate what it was for quickly came back to haunt it in 2010.

Yes, there was the passage of Obamacare in 2009, but Democrats have traveled so far from the eloquence and clarity of leaders like JFK and RFK that even when debating universal healthcare they sound wonkish and inconsistent. As I learned upon my temporary return to the United States from Canada last year, even under Obamacare, plans with high premiums and deductibles are still the norm. Mandating the purchase of insurance that doesn’t really provide much coverage is a curious policy to emerge from a political party with a base that consistently argues healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

The Green New Deal and Leap Manifesto offer the left a way out of the political wilderness they’ve been wandering in since at least 1980. These initiatives provide something to be for. They can finally transform the left of the 21st century into a movement that wants to say YES! to something.

By uniting both labor and the environmental movement behind an effort that creates good paying jobs while providing the public with clean technologies that improve lives in both rural and urban communities, the Democratic Party could ensure itself decades of majority status not unlike the one it enjoyed from the 1930s through 1994. It seems like the obvious choice for them to make. So what’s taking Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Leadership so long?

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com

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Groupthink Is a Threat to Justice and Reason

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

In the world today, it seems as though there are more people who identify with one group or another. All the while, they attempt to dispel any criticisms of that particular group. We see groups with extra protections under various laws such as “hate crimes,” for example. Also, the State often grants special rights to various groups, such as “gay rights” and “women’s rights.” These protections and positive claims rights came about as a consequence of groupthink, collectivism, and variants of so-called “social justice.”

Of course, this is not to say that these groups, or others, do not deserve rights. Rather, the point of Justice is that all are equal under the law and have the same negative claims rights as others. When everyone is equal, there is no need to specify additional rights for any specific group. Thus, adding classifying terms to “rights” and “Justice” negates the purpose of both. Without any modifiers, equality under the law guarantees Justice.

Throughout history and today, there have been many situations where groups, majorities, or the judicial system itself have hurt individuals. Even when the innocent face negative impacts, there is no need to provide extra rights for them or their groups. There should, instead, be a movement to correct the imbalance and enforce equal rights. Providing extra weight for the side of the proverbial scales that someone is robbing is a dangerous idea. When you add to one, you must either take away from another or grant extra rights. Regardless, equality fades, and with it, so does Justice. When an unjust act occurs, it is brought before the law to help determine retribution for the losses or grievances as a cost to the offending party. This, of course, brings the scales of Justice back to an even keel.

What is Groupthink?

As people continue to scramble for their identity found within a group rather than by themselves, they neglect their very own person and trade it for a herd mentality. This, in turn, leads people to form collective beliefs and partake in groupthink.

‘Groupthink’ is a word that social psychologist Irving Janis coined in 1972. Dr. Janis provided eight symptoms of what he determined to be ‘groupthink’ that are as follows:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  6. Self-censorship – Members do not express doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – Members assume the majority view and judgments to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

A Destroyer of Justice

Much like Orwell’s 1984, the concept of ‘groupthink’ arouses the mind to do one of two things. First of all, it can dismiss correct claims when one already has a particular groupthink and blind faith. This idea, called Identity-Protective Cognition, is often observable across the spectrum of ideas.

Alternatively, ‘groupthink’ can spark the awareness of the reader to be self-critical and skeptical of our own place in the world as an individual, while pushing to rid him or herself of the mob mentality. As social creatures, we often rely on groupthink, as it is a lazy way of finding knowledge and belonging. However, it is a philosophical sloth, detrimental to logic, rational thinking, and Justice itself.

Groupthink robs the individual of their Reason, as it relies on subjective beliefs of elites and majorities. Groupthink also robs the individual of exploring and growing, as it limits the interactions and thought processes of what one can and cannot explore. A species of collectivism, groupthink breeds the “us versus them” mentality over truth and Justice. In turn, this acts as a conduit of human and social regression, rather than flourishing and progress.

How to Avoid Groupthink

In order to best combat ‘groupthink,’ the individual must self-assess and question him or herself. This is especially true when red flags of collectivism and groupthink arise. As the study of methodological individualism demonstrates, through and through, only the individual acts and only the individual thinks. To rob yourself of your own individualism and capacity to Reason by granting it to the sporadic oscillations of groupthink is the antithesis of what it means to be a person. Simultaneously, it obliterates the very Justice that the groupthink mob falsely claims it fights for.


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Collectivism Targets the Weak

Nickolas Roberson | United States

The world as we know it has countless different ideologies and belief systems, each with its own stance on religion, politics, economics, social systems, and numerous other categories and theories. All of these systems provide instructions as to how to live your life, how to treat others, how to think and develop your own ideas and rhetoric. Ideologies provide a sense of order to your existence. However, these creeds and outlooks on human life are not always positive. A great number of these systems are nihilistic, bleak, pessimistic, deceptive, ignorant, spineless, or are downright evil. Some of these villainous philosophies include, but are most certainly not limited to, nihilism, institutionalism, authoritarianism, and possibly the most heinous of them all, collectivism. How is this economic, political, and life-guiding philosophy and its corresponding philosophies so malignant? There are a multitude of reasons, such as the devaluation of the individual and the destruction of natural rights and liberties, but one of the most important notions of collectivism is this: it targets the weak.

What exactly is collectivism? As defined by Merriam-Webster, it is “a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution; emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity.” It is broken down into a plethora of sub-categories, such as socialism, communism, Marxism, Maoism, Leninism, and a myriad of other such collectivist and totalitarian systems. All of these ideologies and dogmas despise the individual, deeming it as the core determinant of nearly all problems in human society and history, such as poverty, war, inequality, etc. The existence of the collectivist theories is accredited to the poor and weak in society becoming envious towards those who were of higher power and standing than them. They lead to major human catastrophes, such as genocide, great purges, mass man-made famines, and disease. Examples of these catastrophes include the Great Purge in the Soviet Union, the Holodomor, the Great Leap Forward in Maoist China, and many more. In total, collectivism, specifically totalitarian collectivism, has killed at least 50 million people in the past 150 years.

Who are these weak individuals who are targeted by collectivism? They are the feeble-minded, the lying and duplicitous, the bottom-feeders, and those who lack the determination, willpower, and strength to live their lives as true individuals. The only way they can live their lives is to depend on the production and work of others. That is what collectivism offers: instead of being an individual and working to better your own life, you will be a member of the group which will do the work for you instead; you become another cog in the machine.

How does collectivism accomplish this? First, of course, by destroying individualism and the wills of the people in whatever land or nation it wishes to conquer. Once that objective is fulfilled, the collectivist government implements programs and policies that make the people dependent on government, such as social welfare programs and general equality of outcome. These people lose what drives them in life, as they are brainwashed into believing that government, a gluttonous, parasitic mother, will fulfill their every need. The collectivist government takes away all that these people produce, utilizing it for what government needs and wants and then distributing the leftovers to the hungry masses. Unfortunately, these weak people buy into this brainwashing. Instead of defeating the dragon of collectivism, the weak attempt to appease and feed the dragon, believing it will ignore or even protect them. In reality, they’re on the path to their own demise, when the voracious dragon will grow in strength and eventually consume and burn the village, the people, and society as a whole. 


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