So recently, I was told in no uncertain terms I was wrong about individualism. The quote in one of my comments was: “A human being saying this is every bit as retarded as a wolf saying this about a pack, or a lion saying it about a pride. You starve as an individual.” Well I reject this premise for many reasons, but mainly because this is not the point I was making in that blog.
Individualism is not about being alone. Far from it. It is about being yourself in a sea of people. A single entity in an amalgam of society. Being the individual does not mean you can’t interact with other people, bind together for the purpose of shared goals, or even choose to pool resources for a greater purpose. It means that you are acting on your behalf instead of the very dangerous concept of “the greater good”. That very concept has led to more atrocity in human history and any other, racism included. Voluntary association matters more than the desired outcome.
The communism/socialism of the USSR, North Korea, Cuba, and China are perfect examples of this. While the flavor changes, the candy is the same. They all had this ideal of equity. They also preached a stateless society until they were in charge, then the “greater good” became a bludgeon used to beat the rest of the populace over the head with. I’m not going to go into a history lesson, there is plenty of knowledge of these regimes across the internet. The overwhelming idea though, was that the sacrifice of individuals, by the state, for the betterment of the group was not only acceptable, but necessary.
You may be asking yourself what’s wrong with that? People join the Army knowing they may end up dead. (I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, so I’ll take the colloquial understanding of this sentence on the surface) They do this for the betterment of society. Even if I accept this statement as true, they are given the “choice”.(we won’t mention selective service) This is usually done with the understanding that there is something in it for the individual volunteering. I joined in 1997 because I heard you got paid vacation, money for college, and a paycheck. I would not have joined for free. Who would? In many of these societies that are championed by the collectivists, military service was compulsory. Does that sound like a good idea? Do you want to be sent overseas to shoot people who are fighting for what they perceive to be their own freedom against us? If you ask that question to any new enlistee they will say “of course not” because they don’t understand what they are doing. But if you ask them if they are willing to sign up and fight America’s enemies for free, you would probably get the same answer. Individualism is the default.
You are born worried about your own survival yet fully dependent on another. As you mature you begin looking at the world around you from a very personal point of view. From that point of view it is natural to come to the conclusion that people working together is good. You can accomplish more. This is of course correct in most cases. The question is: Are you willing to work towards goals that are not necessarily aligned with your own self interest, because it is the will of the majority? If you answer no, you are an individual. If you answer yes, you are a collectivist.