Friday, March 2, 2012

Why Individualism is more compassionate than Collectivism

Groupthink breeds hate and division
Dees Illustration
J.G. Vibes
Activist Post

Throughout most of the world people are taught to look at reality in a very polarized way. When certain issues are presented to us through mainstream circles they are usually oversimplified to the point where all concepts are either black or white, and all people are either good or bad, with no in between.

The reality of the situation is that things are much more complicated than that; there are usually many different ways of looking at things and many different sides to the story. This is especially true in the study of philosophy, because terms are constantly being redefined and ideas constantly reexamined with every new generation of philosophers to accommodate the new insight and information that has become available over time.

One polarity that is vastly misunderstood and oversimplified by the general population is that of individualism and collectivism. Now, it is true that many different people have many different ideas about what these words mean, but what really determines the true value of any concept is the consequences that come as a result of that concept being implemented by society.

The mainstream stereotype of an individualist is someone who is selfish and who has no desire at all to participate in the community. The contrasting view of a collectivist is apparently someone who cares about the tribe as a whole, so much so that they are willing to sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of the tribe. While this may be what these names have come to represent in our culture, and the stereotypes may be true in some cases, these definitions are overlooking the impact that these philosophies have on the real world and the realm of politics.

To be an individualist has nothing to do with selfishness. It is simply a way of looking at the world where you see billions of individuals, instead of various groups of people separated by race, nationality, gender, religion or social status. Oddly enough, it is collectivism that allows for people to be divided into groups and puts the innocent at risk by devaluing the lives of individuals.

The reason why this is such a danger is because when people are grouped together in a political sense; large numbers of those people can be held responsible for anything that an individual among them may or may not have done. Furthermore, when sacrifice is seen as a virtue it becomes even easier for a tyrant to come along and take advantage of this perspective for their own ends.

This idea of collectivism is the mindset that allows tyrants to wage war. If each individual on this earth was held accountable for their own personal actions then the full-scale war that we see today would never even materialize to begin with. If individuals were actually seen as who they were instead of what group they belonged to, there would not be millions of lives sacrificed for the sake of hunting down a few among them who were accused of some real or fabricated transgression.

Likewise, it is this mentality that is the root of all the bigotry that separates humanity. If all of the people on the earth were seen as individuals then racism, sexism, classism and other forms of discrimination would cease to exist and everyone would be responsible for their own actions.

The rhetoric behind collectivism sounds great at face value, but the real-life consequences of this worldview tell a very different story. It may be natural for humans to form social groups, but we must recognize that those groups are all filled with unique individuals who should not be forced to compromise any of their freedom for the sake of a group or authority figure.

Respecting the rights and needs of individuals is actually a much more caring way of looking at things, than grouping people into categories and expecting them to forfeit their personal sovereignty to satisfy the whims of other human beings.

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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Anonymous said...

Good points, in line with Carl Jung's arguments presented in his book The Undiscovered Self.

Anonymous said...

In the feudal system, the "Lords" were treated with utmost respect and full rights. The rest were treated the opposite. This great clash or division engendered two responses. The first was the original American response - every individual person is a "Lord," treat them so. The second was the Marxist response. Every "Lord" is low, treat everyone so.

"Individualism" in truth grants the highest respect to each individual person. "Collectivism," on the other hand, reduces everyone to the lowest in society.

The most dangerous element I see in today's world is the disrespect shown to the individual person, first by the government (which demands absolute respect for itself), but also by the entire mindset of the population. Not long ago we believed that if some are rich, all could become rich. Now we see the belief that if some are poor, all should be poor.

Disrespect for the individual must, unless it is turned, result in the end of both freedom and prosperity.

Anonymous said...

This article, (and the comment above) is as one-dimensional as the one-dimensional observers out there that the author complains about in the opening paragraph.
Dig it. We human beings are BOTH, social and individual beings. To posit "individualism" as the complete anti-thesis of "collectivism" (i.e. community) is as stupid as it gets.
Individualism=good. Collectivism=bad.
=Brain-dead logic. Doesn't pass the most basic smell test.
Though free-thinking individuals are the basis of any free society; that's not enough. People are also organized into businesses, companies, neighborhoods, institutions of various kinds, and if this side of the equation is left out, then a few Elite "individuals" are going to take charge and use "individualism" as a cover for their crimes.
In the end, you fool no one but yourself.

Anonymous said...

"Likewise, it is this mentality that is the root of all the bigotry that separates humanity. If all of the people on the earth were seen as individuals then racism, sexism, classism and other forms of discrimination would cease to exist and everyone would be responsible for their own actions."

This sounds EXACTLY like the kind of bull manure that the highly collectivist, highly entho-centric, and highly aggressive jewish tribe of world-dominating racial supremacists have been pushing on ALL RACES except their own for the last 100 years. During which time, these collectivist thinking and behaving creatures have made AMAZING advances in their jewish, Talmudic agenda of total and complete domination of the entire planet. While we all have been preoccupied and unorganized, exactly as this enemy wants us to remain, thinking as selfish and disconnected individuals.

What did Baruch Levy write to Karl Marx back in 1928 again? Is it time for a refresher lesson for those who might not know? Okay, here goes:

The Jewish people (CONVERTED KHAZARS THAT ADOPTED JUDAISM IN 740 BLACK SEE KINGDOM OF KHAZARIA,,REVELATION 2;9,3:9,FAKE JEWS), as a whole will become its own Messiah. It will attain world dominion by the dissolution of other races, by the abolition of frontiers, the annihilation of monarchy and by the establishment of a world republic in which the Jews will everywhere exercise the privilege of citizenship.

In this New World Order the children of Israel will furnish all the leaders without encountering opposition. The Governments of the different peoples forming the world republic will fall without difficulty into the hands of the Jews. It will then be possible for the Jewish rulers to abolish private property and everywhere to make use of the resources of the state. Thus will the promise of the Talmud be fulfilled, in which is said that when the Messianic time is come, the Jews will have all the property of the whole world in their hands.”
— Baruch Levy, Letter to Karl Marx, ‘La Revue de Paris’, p.574, June 1, 1928

End of lesson refresher. So, whenever we see articles like this one - encouraging the lowly gentiles to continue to cling to 'individualism' and to never, oh never decide that its smarter and more tactically successful to organize themselves racially, tribally, and to confront the collectivist thinking enemy who seeks not only their complete destruction, but also total, tyrannical, Satanically evil dominion over the entire planet and all it's gentile peoples - I advise the reader of such devious baloney to hit the flush handle on his or her toilet and send this advice down the sewer where it belongs.

One last comment for the extraordinarily stupid readers who still can't grasp the importance of tribal, collectivist thinking. Imagine a single soldier - who is in the best physical condition, who has the best training, the most advanced training in small arms weapons and man-to-man fighting techniques. Imagine a Hollywood jewish created 'Rambo' stud. And, then, imagine what the chances of victory would be for that single, individualist thinking 'warrior' when they find themselves on a battlefield and facing a well-organized, well-equipped, determined-to-win-at-all-costs Army of a few million collectivist thinking and behaving enemy opponents.

Did I manage to crack through the thick skulls of these stupid 'individualist' Rambo morons? Only in an artificial, fantasy world - created by the enemy who owns and controls Hollywood - would a Rambo super soldier prevail over a million man collectivist Army. Which is exactly why this enemy uses their media control to push movies like that - to keep us thinking and behaving as individuals, which makes our butts easier to stomp.

Individualism is NOT the answer, nor is it the winning tactic to adopt to defeat these racial supremacists who seek to destroy all humans not of their tribe. And, anyone who pushes it and who touts it - is working for the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this guy JG Vibe is batting 1000 at being a Randian cretin. Time to move out of your mom's basement and learn to socialize with the humans. I guess Vibes must be either independently wealthy or a tool of the Kochs and Thiels of this world.

Bluestocking said...

Personally, I don't believe that individualism vs. collectivism necessarily has to be the kind of "either-or" prospect that this article seems to depict it as being...especially since anyone who has spent any significant length of time studying human beings can tell you that most of them need absolutely no encouragement to be selfish! As is so often the case in life, both individualism and collectivism have a dark side when they are taken to an extreme, which is why the most beneficial approach is most likely one which finds a balance between the two extremes and views both self and society as equally important -- one which accepts and promotes individual liberty while at the same time encouraging a healthy respect for the rights of others and concern for the common good (since most human beings do not and cannot exist in complete isolation).

I'm also inclined to disagree with the premise that collectivism which is responsible for social ills such as racism, despotism, and war since this is a overly simplistic argument (which ironically contradicts the earlier statement that human relationships are more complex than this). In fact, an equally plausible argument can be made for the idea that tyranny results from individualism being taken to an extreme since tyrants nearly always abuse the collective in order to serve their own interests even though they claim to be serving the interests of the collective -- tyrants never make sacrifices themselves. The plain and simple truth is that human beings need no encouragement to exploit each other and can come up with rationales to justify it as easily under an individualistic perspective as under a collectivist one. The rationale may be different in each case, but the underlying motive and action is the same.

Anonymous said...

The author has a very caricatured and infantile perception( yes perception, not acknowledges at all ) view about "collectivism".
Therefore he misused some clichés which has nothing to doe with the reality and the meaning of collectivism.
By the way the author shows an absolute ignorance and as usual the ignorance couldn’t be used as argument. It is a perfect fallacy !
Doesn’t matter his references he appointed , that is only a virtual point of view , just some kind of syllogism fallacy.
I disagree totally with his fake opposition without any reason and logic to make superior the concept of individualism.
I was much more respected, appreciated, promoted and seen as a individual person with all my rights and qualities in front hand in collectivism than in the individualist(ism) society of Western way of life !
The all article is just a fake problem pushed arbitrary in contradiction as long there is only to be talking about some kind of synergism necessity of the human existence !

H2 said...

i think a lot of what gets in the way here is language. i understand that in order to communicate we must simplify, and it is always a challenge to balance the demands of attention/brevity (oversimplification) and clarity/depth (potentially attention losing?). likewise, as social beings, humankind faces the daunting challenge of balancing individual and collective needs.

as you say in the post Good Vibes, the reality is that things are more complicated than duality allows for. rather than seeing individualists and collectivists as distinct categories with a clear wall between them, perhaps it might be more descriptive to see them as phenomena that are neither good nor bad, but they have characteristics and consequences.

lets look at something like conformity, for example. the phenomena of conformity visits immeasurable injustices upon countless individuals, from the freedom of expression to freedom of consciousness. however, a substantial amount of conformity is a prerequisite for communication/language, safe interaction, and cooperation in any form. this challenge of balance is paramount, but is not black and white, and i'd venture that individualists and collectivists as distinct entities do not exist, are an illusion produced by the interplay of these and many other competing phenomena.

H2 said...

what bluestocking said really resonates with me. i feel there is an important distinction to be made between the imagined needs of imagined communities as Blue Alba identified state and racial supremacist policy, and the real needs of real communities. for example, groups in which conformity to nonviolence is a requirement make participants free from violence in exchange for surrendering freedom to perform violence. this economy of freedom is something that probably works best when when the group is small and voluntarily entered into. in order to balance solo and group needs justly (the community and individual balancing the violence of dominating from the violence of being dominated), the intimacy and involvement necessary for careful and direct decision making is possibly unworkable at the scale of the state, and almost certainly impossible in the form of authoritarianism or "representative democracy" strains of oligarchy.

maybe the droids, er, words we are looking for is libertarianism (individual freedom is paramount) and socialism (cooperation for the good of the community is paramount). in isolation, these ideologies can fall apart under the weight of their own inconsistencies, but when combined and balanced they can be quite beautiful (and perhaps produce the only morally and logically tolerable form of governance...). decentralize and voluntary for the win! :)

a pleasure discussing this over facebook with you - i think we are on the same page, but language is a tricky thing and it is a challenge to find terms with connotations that folks respond to the same way. peace.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure you can refer to a being as an individualist. That term and collectivism refers more so to a society as a whole. No matter where you may live you are part of a society, possibly an outlier but still yet part of something. Further, Individualism and collectivism are traits of a group, such as those stated by hofsteade's cultural dimensions theory. Oddly enough the U.S. is classified as Highly individual compared to many other countries (particularly asian).

Anonymous said...

Yin and Yang. Properly utilized Individualism will lead to properly utilized Collectivism. IMO They are different faces of the same coin.

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