|All deserve equal rights and freedom|
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.