Sunday, March 4, 2012

Revisiting the caring nature of Individualism

All deserve equal rights and freedom
J.G. Vibes
Activist Post

Is there any valid reason or excuse to violate the rights of a nonviolent person? That is the primary question that separates the two political philosophies of collectivism and individualism. I’m sure that this was not a question that was raised in your college political science class, but nonetheless this is the fundamental question that determines whether a society is collectivist or individualist. While it may be true that there is a lot of grey area because these terms are defined so many different ways, the sacrifice of individual rights has always been a consequence of holding the rights of “the tribe” above those of the individuals that make up that tribe.

Be patient with me for a minute, I understand that these ideas may be putting you off a bit because it sounds like I’m saying that one person is more important than many people, but that’s not what I’m saying at all. So I urge you to just give this argument a chance with an open but critical mind.

I am not saying that one single person’s life or needs are more important than that of 50 or a 100 people. I am simply saying that you, your body and mind or the body and mind or your neighbor is worth more than “the State of California” or “the United States of America” or “the Democratic Republic of North Korea” or “Native Americans”. Why is that? Because those “countries”, “states”, and “races” are just categories; categories that are ironically enough used to describe… individuals.


With that being the case, it is perfectly fine to use whatever means necessary to describe people, but what is dangerous about collectivism is giving groups or categories rights that the individual does not have. The reason why this is a problem is because since collectives are just categories to describe individuals, when you give those categories rights that the individuals do not have, you are really giving some people rights that other people don’t have. This is how I feel collectivism operates in a political sense, and it is easy to see because this has been the dominant way of thinking throughout history.

When I speak of collectivist societies I am not only speaking of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, who are among the most obvious collectivized regimes in recent history. I am actually pointing out that collectivism is a trait that all modern governments share, since all governments ask the people living under their control to sacrifice their individual rights for the sake of “the country”.

This is where we can start to see the problem, because “the country” is never the millions of people living in that geographic area that consider themselves to be “the country”. They are not the people who make the decisions that “the country” is judged by, nor are they the people who reap the benefits of “the country’s” policies.

Even worse, is the fact that when a few people who claim to “represent” or “lead” a collective group of individuals commit some sort of heinous human rights violation, it is not just those few people who will ultimately be held accountable, it is the whole collective that they are apparently acting on behalf of.

Protecting the rights of the individual from the whims of the “group” (or people claiming leadership of that group), is one of the important steps that we must take to ensure that every individual has the same rights and that those rights will not be violated under any circumstances.

Also I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting that people should shut themselves off from society; that has nothing to do with any of this. It is a great thing for people to form communities, trade and find mutually beneficial ways of interacting. What is not a great thing, is forcing individuals to conform to a collective group or to sacrifice the individual's rights for any reason.

J.G. Vibes is an author, and artist -- with an established record label. In addition to featuring a wide variety of activist information, his company Good Vibes Promotions hosts electronic dance music events. You can keep up with him and his forthcoming book Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, at his website. AOTMR will be released in March 2012, thanks to Leilah Publications. 


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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent article. Being an individual does not mean greed nor selfishness not self centeredness. Infact I find the oposite to be true. That groups are more self focused than individuals and always want special attention and favors. Being and behaving as an individual I find that there is less in the way of demands on others and more acceptance of other individuals.

Anonymous said...

"What is not a great thing, is forcing individuals to conform to a collective group or to sacrifice the individual's rights for any reason."

I doubt that there are very many people who have as strong of a passion for individual liberty and individual rights, as I do. However, I am NOT one of these radical libertarians, and nor do I consider myself to be a radical individualist.

Here is why: I see radical libertarianism and radical individualism as having very destructive and obsessive connections to a form of selfish, self-centered juvenile infantilism.

When someone wakes up each and every day, and the first thought that crosses their mind and which motivates them throughout their day - is 'what is best for me, individually' - the tendency to place one's own selfish pursuits, whims, desires, and urges at the very top of one's list of priorities - results in a corresponding absence of concern for the general good of their fellow tribe, society, and nation.

A greedy and materialistic businessman might decide that he wants to save a few dollars or make a few dollars by firing his fellow American workers and replacing them with illegal aliens who agree to work for peanuts and with no benefits included. A landowner who is of similar ilk might decide to let a toxic waste company dump their waste onto a section of his land or into a river or stream that crosses his property, because the company offers to pay him a substantial fee to do so.
In each of these two examples, the argument that the businessman and landowner's individual rights to do as they please with their own property, despite the clear harm and betrayal of their fellow citizens and the destructiveness to the environment that are the consequences of their selfish decisions - are factors that deserve a certain amount of consideration.

Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am not a radical environmentalist or someone who doesn't believe in the sacred nature of personal property rights. The point I am trying to make is that there is a valid argument to be made against foolishly disregarding the dangerous aspects of completely ignoring the need to curtail and limit certain individual rights - if they cross a line and begin to betray one's own nation and its citizens, or when they cause damage to the environment that will eventually affect one's own nation, or community and it's citizens.

I believe it has been often stated that one's individual rights extend only as far as they do not harm someone else's individual rights. That principle works reasonably well when two individuals are both stranded on a remote, deserted island. However, when we are living in a modern society - populated by large numbers of people who are part of one's tribe and who are members of one's nation - the survival of the individual is inexplicably tied to the survival of the group to which they belong. Therefore, certain boundaries and limitations must be established and enforced in order to ensure that the actions of a selfish, self-centered individual does not do harm to the larger group in general.

For this very reason, the crime of 'treason' has historically been rewarded with the death penalty. Selling out and betraying one's own tribe, one's own extended family - might be profitable on an individual basis - but, it is a sure path to the potential death of the entire tribe. Thus, how would the author of this article discourage it - if not by using collectivist oriented punishments?

Anonymous said...

To compare National Socialism to a so-called collectivism of The Soviet Union is down right nonsense.
Have you not read Animal Farm? The Germans were not "Nazis". They were 95 percent Aryan and agreed to preserve this Race. National meaning Nathos and Socialism as in a Racial society. They were not united by banksters and numbers as in communism of the Soviet Union. Uniting with money is not real. A country is a geographic term, thats all. A Nation is a State of being through racial community. A Nation State. To be or not to be. Libertarianism is a false concept. It goes against the collectivism of the only three true races. The Aryans,the Negros, and Mongoloid or if you prefer pc terms, Whites, Yellows and Blacks. All others are composits of either all three or the two.

J.G Vibes said...

the only true race is humanity bro :-)

J.G Vibes said...

also @ anonymous 2

peoples rights should not be "curtailed" for any reason... if they violate someone elses rights then they are in violation of the non aggression principle and can be brought to justice by whoever was hurt by their actions

so...no reason to curtail individual rights

dale said...

I reject the premise that there are only two political philosophies: individualism or collectivism.

Without strong collectives, from the family to the community, there are no strong individuals.

Collectives are groups that share: family, workers coops, cities, schools, etc.

Collectives are made of individuals.

Extreme individualism is sociopathy;
extreme collectivism is tyranny.

What is required, what is sustainable, is a balance between the individual and the collective. There is no contradiction between privacy (and personal property) and the commons (what we share).

We need both individual and collective spheres, as they are not contradictory but mutually re-enforcing.

An individual without a community is an idiot (privacy once meant idiocy)...ie a disconnected conscousness. This at best eccentricity, at worst madness. A community which suppresses individualism is stifling and conformist.

To argue for one against the other is to miss the synergy and need for balance to produce both strong individuals and robust communities.

The either/or paradigm leaves us with hollow abstractions, like "individualism" and "collectivism, " leading to endless and fruitless argument.

Only in a strong community can strong individuals be raised and nurtured. Any philosophy which does not see the interdependence will veer to one extreme or the other. We need privacy and a sustainable commons. Both/and. We need a new politics and a new political science based on this recognition.

Vibes is beating a worn-out drum.

dale said...

Race is not a scientific concept. There are thousands of colors and types, not 3. Race was invented by the class of slave owners to justify racism.

Racial purity is a myth. When Columbus reached the New World, his crew got it on with the young ladies of the Arawak, and even before Jefferson, "race" mixing was common.

In reality, there are people of every conceivable color and type. The end of racism means the end of the fiction of race.

There is, to echo Vibe, just one true race...and for me, an egalitarian pacifist/vegan, even species ranking is false, invented (like race) to justify a right to kill innocent animals.

We are all equal on a fundamental level, we all have the same needs and differ only in superficial ways.

Only when we have a strong commons, a return of what has been once shared but now increasingly is seized by private parties, can we produce individuals who are not psychopaths or mere eccentrics.

The only problem with non-violence (many yrs ago, on this day I marched with MLK and thousands across that bridge in Selma) is that threats of violence usually drag the peaceful into "learning war." The big unanswered question is how to restrain those who would violate our rights without building a police state, which itself will soon violate our rights.

No one has yet answered this dilemma. The rotten apple seems always to spoil the whole barrel. Ghandi and MLK both died at the hands of assassins, as did JFK and RFK when they threatened to end the National Security State as we know it( wars and secrets).

And it does no good to end the power of government (our only protection against other forms of violence and tyranny) if we then allow the corporations to fill the power vacuum. Corporations are near totalitarian hierarchies, which use property rights (not sacred but man-made) to crush human rights (innate).

Above all, libertarian individualism lets the tyranny of the corporations off the hook while
ignoring the critical importance of the property and rights of collectives, from the family to the work team to the society. The right to clean air is not an individual right; it is the right of all living creatures. We have two identities: we are individuals and we are (prior to that) members of groups with shared assets and values. Both require each other.

For non-violence to work we need laws and cops to stop the violent but who will guard the guardians of our freedom? That is the unanswered question which gets lost in arguing for or against abstractions like individualism and collectivism.

To me the only solution is self-government on a democratic voice with majority rule and minority rights. The guardians of the guards are the People, acting collectively to block tyranny.

It takes a community to protect individual rights. When we sell off the commons and let private interests own them, we sell off the foundation of our individual rights, which are a part of the commons we share.
What we share is at least as important as what we do not, if not more so. Without shared values, we are all lunatics. An individualism based on false consciousness (the failure to recognize that our very survival depends on collective co-operation) does not produce independence but weirdness and shallow differences (such as "race" and ideology).

The sooner we reclaim the earth as our shared commons, the sooner we emerge as genuine individuals.

dale said...

If we do not "curtail" natural liberty and replace it, via a social contract, with civil rights, might will make right, the most ruthless will rule.

Hate speech and defamation of character and false alarms should be curtailed in order to protect free speech. Those, like Rush, who use vicious lies to silence others, do not deserve the right to free speech. Tolerance of intolerance leads to tyranny. There are clear reasons to curtail individual rights when they are used to silence the rights of others.

This is one reason we have government--to protect our rights. But who will protect us from government?

LadyRavenhaire said...

This author is deluded. In no other country is an individual so compelled to conform, then in the US. This is the reason why the US is not a melting pot, but a meat grinder. Immigrants of different countries come here& within one generation no longer speak their native language. This is done through propaganda and coercion at school. In Europe people speak many languages, but in the US only one. How is it done? Not by force, except for the native Americans, but by taunting people& children that they wont be cool or popular if they speak another language. My parents came from "fascist" Europe & they never saw conformity, lack of individuality& lack of respect for individuality until they came here- that along with police brutality. My mother was flabbergasted to be called be my school to be told she shouldn't teach me to speak a language other than English, more flabbergasted to find out school teachers encouraged children to taunt kids who could speak a second language,& to see police officers kick& punch pregnant women who were peacefully protesting for civil liberties, & to discover a person could be held for 72 hrs in jail without charges. No one in fascist Europe could be held without charges 1 he, let alone 72. My mother would always sarcasticly remark, "and they said Germany& Italy were fascist countries."

Anonymous said...

“Liberty is lost through complacency and a subservient mindset. When we accept or even welcome automobile checkpoints, random searches, mandatory identification cards, and paramilitary police in our streets, we have lost a vital part of our American heritage. America was born of protest, revolution, and mistrust of government. Subservient societies neither maintain nor deserve freedom for long.” ― Ron Paul

But do have collective hive of the Borg living around us, living in interment CELL, with one ring to rule them all, bowing and out casting all human contact, while driving weapons of mass destruction,the parts of hive interfere in movie houses,grocery stores,restaurants disturbing the freedoms of others, by talking excessively loud and annoying. They may have the liberty to do this, but is it annoying as hell like living in virtual re-runs of the Twilight Zone in broad daylight. Slaves to their "Precious".

Anonymous said...

Race is the secret of the political!!!The camp of the Marxists will not prevail anymore with their falsehoods.

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