Individualism and Collectivism

In most Conservative critique of Socialism and its many forms, the key ground on which they cannot compromise is the idea of “Individualism versus Collectivism.” Simplified; by nature, people raised in individualist leaning societies feel overly repressed and subjugated by the notion of working for a common good rather than their own benefit. To sum it up, I’ll use a statement from a conversation that I had with a friend: “I don’t recognize the good of others as the meaning of my existence.” This is the crucial point at which ideologies break. Collectivism has not only been rejected by capitalists and their lot, but also some Marxists and Socialists, on the grounds that the very nature of collectivism represses the masses and restricts their power, allowing a minority to take power and show unrestricted control over those same masses. Ex: Stalinist Soviet Union. In this text, it being my very first as Commissar of Theory and Ideology, I hope to address the criticisms of Collectivist ideology as well as the reasons for failure of some collectivist projects and ideas. I also hope to prove that there can be a compromise between moderate individualism (by ‘moderate’ I mean nothing too close to Ayn Rand’s Objectivism) and collectivism. All that said, the collectivist-individualist spectrum is as wide as the leftist-rightist one. It can be utilized as a measure by which one’s political allegiance is determined. Therefore, utilizing a collectivist or individualist ideology is very common practice in many political theories, to shower either one with bloody accusations is easy, which is why I’ll be looking at this whole thing in a mostly theoretical view.

Individualism

Rather than sitting on a balcony looking down at the social idea of ‘individualism’ I’ll tell you about myself a good year-or-so ago. Individualism is merely centering your worldview from your own perspective, looking to your own desires, expectations and standards, considering outside influence as secondary or giving it a totally negligent role. There’s a wide range of frequency between minor individualism and concentrated individualism. Like every form of political thought, it has a meager, moderate and radical degree, as well as everything in between, reasonable or unreasonable. The most severe form would probably be total egoism, considering only one’s self and showing total disregard for the exterior as a whole. I lived this for a good while. Most (mature) individualists are more moderate, leaving some consideration for exterior objects as they come closer to the individual in nature (friends, family etc). Meanwhile the absolute minimum of individualism would be the mindset of a pious Buddhist, no concern for personal preservation or desire, just the will to be… a plant, essentially. Individualism is very primitive, in that, instead of seeking to expand and understand greater things, serve greater purposes, it looks stubbornly inward. The more individualist, the more inward-leaning is a man, therefore the very essence of the idea is rejection of exterior over interior. Like an animal seeks better conditions of its ordinary life, better food as opposed to contemporary rabble, better rest as opposed to standard sleep, new, young mates as opposed to old hags etc. Individualism considers the individual’s desires and standards and the means to achieving them, without considering the expense of the collective of other individuals. If all he knows in pleasure is food, he will seek out and take food from the exterior, not looking at the harm he did in the process or to the possibility of greater things existing in life. This isn’t to say he can’t, he can, but this requires and ease of individualist thought. As I said with “take from exterior,” while a man can rabble inside himself for as long as he wants, all he needs or could want, can only be found outside. Weather it be inspiration, food, or anything we ever have within: it is always taken from without. It is in the most elementary and fundamental laws of physics: energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred. In order to create anything, energy is needed, can a human mind or body, simply create its own? No. Not only does individualism deny this fact, by isolating from improvement what could be improved with the actual hope of improving it, but it requires exploitation of a misinterpreted (by the individualist, of both its source and its nature) exterior. The cost of glory is another man’s shame. The cost of wealth is another man’s poverty. Perhaps the individualist understands this (thus exploiting it) perhaps not, it does not matter, because as individualism progresses, the individual’s ego starts to care even less. Knowing this, one understands that the higher pitch of one’s inwardness, the less morality and concern for the outside world (i.e: the collective.) First those the furthest fall away from concern, aliens from foreign lands begin to resemble nothing, as moderate individualism advances. Once it is mature, certain countrymen may become expendable. As man’s ego radicalizes, his own community or even family may become worthless to him. This isn’t to say that individualism is some kind of evil that needs to be eradicated. Individualism plays a part in collectivism, after all a collective cannot be formed without individuals. Individualism is necessary to us all, to survive. It is this primitive feeling that psychologically explains a man’s pursuit of something better than what he has. If an individual is willing to attain something greater by working with others and sharing it, thus slowly but progressively developing further potential, than he has found the compromise I have spoke of. However, as the level of individualism rises, concern for the exterior is gradually decreased and is marginalized, the concern then faces inward. Taking care of one’s own self is obviously necessary, having personal dreams and wishes is as human as hoping to labor for the common good, not at all primitive. However, without certain principles such as morality and ethics and without a non-exploitive social system, this can and will come at the expense of others. Is it just, for a man (every man) that has gained everything he had from the outside world, to then advance himself personally at the expense of this outside world? No, but the only way a man can progress himself personally, without bringing potential harm to society, is through understanding, comradeship and solidarity with that society, which only comes with a certain degree of collectivist thinking and inclination.

Collectivism

Collectivism is essentially the reverse effect of individualism. The more collectivist someone is, the more he faces outward, the more open, selfless, he is. Collectivism, has in a way been reduced to either a short personal emotion or a view totally secluded to a tiny corner in the world of politics. This is because we live in a world and a society dominated in its entirety by capitalism. I talk not only of America but as well as it, a good 99% of the world’s population. In the 80’s and 70’s before the collapse of the international communist movement, market economics could not have as much a grip on the countries even at the very heart of the capitalist machine as they do now, because the dominion they held was much smaller and still intensely combated. As Communism collapsed, the heads of the international market, the biggest and dirtiest secret bankers and shareholders, the central authority in our brave new world, decided to turn inward. They were now so filthy rich that investing in media, education and consumerism, to also give it a much more concrete anti-collectivist twist, were mere pennies compared to their bottomless wealth. The bourgeoisie were able to so greatly alienate people by expanding the wage-slavery to a much deeper psychological level, that the fierce bastions of community and workplace, which had once held workers together, were broken and thrown back in disarray. With this, the very fundamental aspects of collectivism and the base elements necessary for an individual to develop collectivist ideology, were made thoroughly lacking in society. Meanwhile, individualism has been very much promoted. After all, the young proletarian easily tricked into effective wage slavery by his own state-promoted ambitions, is very much better for the capitalists than one who goes down a shaky, ineffective wage slavery, because of his refusal to view it as a success or achievement. If one looks into the general social atmosphere of today, one can easily tell it’s anti-collectivist and pro- moderate individualist. These seeds of counter-revolution are planted in the proletarian class through the market dominion over our class in modern society, the spread of capitalist thorns into every aspect of our daily lives. The sources of public attention and reliance are ALL poisoned to some degree by the bourgeoisie, in order to eliminate the very first, most basic step on an individual’s journey to true Communist thinking; Collectivism. Collectivism therefore, has been mostly removed as a common perspective from modern capitalist society. Indeed the once prevalent senses of community, workmanship, mutual trust and respect have all but vanished. When collectivism is used in modern society it is normally (like it was before it became the bastion of the honest proletarian that it once was) used to strengthen the bourgeoisie grip on our class, through a capitalist invention: the corrupt spin of collectivism into corporatism (more on this later). The capitalists exploit their most devoted slaves: corporatism is to those of the church and those of the nation, which means not to the idea of god or to the nation’s people but to the administration. The masses are thrown into collective so that they may be more effectively manipulated by the bourgeoisie class. You see, it is primarily on collectivism that Communism, nationalist populism and Religious Communism have the most common ground. Yet when proletarians are allowed to think of their nation or their church as one large commune, they are just as well instituted with a centralized, controlling administration as well as the restrictions of capitalism on this sort of ideology, which leaves it most broken. Broken in almost every way except loyalty to the guys running the place, in the name of hope and trust in the place’s strength. The patriots and common church-goers are lulled into a false sense of completion in their minds, and live simple lives of wage-slavery, contributing to the capitalist machine while the state and church are used as a handy way to fool them. Collectivism remains ever less significantly in modern politics. It is regarded as a social idea, taken up mostly by socialists. Yet socialists in the modern world still have to live in the same society we do, and they commonly, like unenlightened folk, view it as something foreign or hostile, many reject it as a foolish social experiment. Meanwhile, the core of socialist and Communist ideology is founded in-part on the ideals of collectivism. Those who reject it remain collectivists to a much more moderate degree than the Communists and socialists of the nine-teeth or twentieth centuries. A collectivist outlook is simply required for a man to personally validate to himself, the ideas of social justice, equality, human rights, class consciousness etc. Collectivism isn’t necessarily a social implication, it’s more commonly an attitude and idea that is simply required toward building a socialist society. The understanding of a political system attributed to collectivism, which is also the only form of material collectivist social application yet attempted: is corporatism.

Corporatism

Almost all critique of collectivism isn’t actually oriented at all with collectivism as a whole, but merely corporatism, even though it’s actually directed at the former. Corporatism is a corrupt form of radical collectivism that views the whole (collective) as being greater than the sum of its individual parts (individuals). Collectivism is accused of leading way to totalitarianism. Meanwhile, collectivism only stresses the interdependence of society and is an outlook by which society looks toward itself as a whole, working toward mutual interests rather than individual interests that combat each other for supremacy. Collectivism does not necessarily undermine the individual or his individual interests, it can in fact (as I pointed out) not only coexist but work in balance with individualism. In it’s applied form, collectivism can take on any road, depending on its leadership. Corporatism is an example of how collectivism can be exploited, in fact it is a capitalist idea. Corporatism maintains the ‘group’ function of collectivism, while giving it a structured, centralized authority. For example; a church. While the attendants are educated in the ways of being united and loving each other, there is a centralized form of authority that governs that education, governs the church building and governs the administration which holds control over the church. Thus, corporatism utilizes collectivism, but also creates a structure, by which it can easily be exploited by the central authority. I touched on this earlier, that in capitalist societies collectivism was giving way to individualism, because of the efforts of the bourgeoisie. But due to those same efforts: religion, social market and nationalism, which are stubbornly collectivist, are still exploited as well as individualists with their wage slavery.

How then, might you ask, is collectivism applied without corporatism? A collective, cannot be a collective without something it is collecting, the human aspect, the ones that make it up are the collective’s true value. Collectivism, like individualism, is only a piece of the puzzle and cannot solve the entire equation. Collectivism, like individualism, must be moderated to still be kept, while both are essentials. The two must not only coexist but they must complement each other. The individuals most band together and work together for a common good, with an open mind, a will to learn, a will to coexist and improve. This way, both collectivism and individualism remain mindsets which CREATE a better society. One does not have a new order first and then wander how to attain peace and prosperity for all, surely those in power will steal the means by which the collective is organized and then break the meaning of that administration. One must first educate and agitate a society into breaking its chains and seeing the way for itself, only then can that society pave a way towards creating a new world order. In the civil rights movement, the majority first recognized that it was being deprived and than went on strike, not first went on strike then wait to figure out what they wanted.

Collectivism as a physical implication IS corporatism. Many tried to force rather than educate collectivist theory, by brutal means rather than subtle ones. The greatest example: Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture. The result: holodomor. Lenin’s “war communism” was very similar to Stalin’s collectivization, except in that it failed to basically… collectivize, as a result of protracted and brutal destruction by war and excessive, inefficient central planning. What it did do was mobilize the soviet economy so it was ready for Lenin’s decentralized, semi-collective “new economic policy” of 1921 which was applied as a replacement to “war communism” and turned out extremely successful. This was because it relied both on collective work and individual initiative within the collective, because it worked with the people and lead them, but allowed them to act themselves in developing the nation. How were they managed? Not by capitalists, but by democratically elected soviets.

In short, collectivism is best educated as a value, subtly, and in coexistence with individualism (which needs no promoting) but never physically applied as a social system. In the modern world, the closest thing we have to that perfect balance are the social democratic states of Scandinavia, which have achieved unparalleled (in our modern history) levels of freedom and equality. It can be taken to much greater lengths without an exploitive bourgeoisie class or a domineering market-driven economy. The lesson of collectivism, is that we must not force anything but instead offer, invite, educate. We must value our comrades. Our friends, our neighbors, out countrymen. Together, we can stand against the bourgeoisie. Divided, we shall be slowly swallowed for an eternity! Bourgeoisie always talk about human nature being greed, it is only their nature that is the greedy one! If we, as individuals, can all learn to care for the 7 billion of us that are out here, there will be 7 billion that shall care back! Than how are the capitalists to say, that we would be stronger alone? This is why, truly, individualism makes up the collective. But without the collective, the individual is nothing. Yet without the individual, the collective is weak. Why end up with nothing and have those around you suffer as well?? You don’t have to take one or the other! Join in, comrade, love thy neighbor, the world is greater than us all!

That is collectivism.

written by foreverrusia1

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This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Capitalism, Communism, History, Leftism, Lenin, Marxism, Philosophy, Politics, Society, Soviet Union, Stalin, Theory, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

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