Collectivism has a pretty bad name in certain circles, particularly Libertarians and related currents. Indeed, it’s led to some past excesses, including totalitarianism. Still, it’s really like an implement that can be used either constructively or destructively. Hyper-individualism has its flaws too. To paraphrase an old joke, an anarchist who gets mugged calls the police.
What does collectivism mean?
Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group—whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called “the common good.”
The more neutral dictionary definition is:
1: a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution; also: a system marked by such control
2: emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity
The related term “statism” specifically pertains to big government. Tribalism relates to ethnic solidarity.
Granted, there’s much to say for rugged individualism, self-sufficiency, and especially pulling one’s own weight in society. Still, tribalism is a natural human instinct. The cavemen who survived the Ice Age weren’t “doing their own thing” and caring nothing for their tribes. Likewise, the cavewomen weren’t constantly touting their own strength and independence. After Rome fell (much more recently), a paradise without statism didn’t emerge. To survive the Dark Ages, individuals had to pull together for their kingdom, city-state, or barbarian tribe.
Rousseau’s utopian notions concerning ancient mankind in the state of nature weren’t grounded in reality. Tribalism served a purpose: survival. It’s mistaken to believe modern easy living made this obsolete.
Going it alone has its limits
Nearly every political philosophy defines active roles for the government, the community, and individuals. The main debate is where to draw the lines. Even Libertarians want collective defense. Although they might dislike neocon foreign adventures and wasteful defense contracts, most still want a competent military. It’s difficult to stop an enemy invasion if you’re alone defending the beach with your Saturday Night Special.
Sometimes joining with others sharing coordination and unity of purpose is absolutely necessary. Imagine playing a basketball game with just you against five opponents. Even a team of eighth graders could defeat the most ruggedly individualistic sportsman. Suppose your team was permitted ten players on the court, but the others neither participated nor cared about the outcome. That wouldn’t help; you’d still lose to five opponents working together.
Taking this further, suppose two of your teammates say they want to win, but mostly complain that you’re playing too aggressively. Four more stand around goofing with their smart phones. The opposing coach (a clever bastard) convinced the last three that winning is dreadfully unfair, so they block you and help the other team. The referee keeps giving you bogus fouls, while your opponents get away with anything. If that happened, your team of ten—in which you’re the only one really trying—could be defeated even by five mentally challenged midgets.
That’s pretty absurd, right? Nobody plays sports that way. Unfortunately, that’s basically today’s political scene. Hopefully everyone’s getting the analogy about lukewarm conservatives, the apathetic, and liberals duped into defeating themselves.
The greatest dispute in the Alt Right / Alt Lite split is ethnic nationalism versus civic nationalism. Most Alt Lites know the score, but have misgivings about collectivism, or fear the “basket of deplorables” label. Thus, they carefully debate only within “acceptable” topics, playing by leftist-approved rules. It’s the same thing that’s hamstrung mainstream conservatism for decades. However, the left certainly has no such fine scruples. Actually, it goes well beyond ethnic nationalism, as other categories got brought into the picture.
Double standards and doubletalk
When political correctness (late-stage cultural Marxism) entered the picture, protected groups were strongly encouraged to think collectively. Feminism seeks to turn women against men, gays became another radicalized class, etc. Now, it’s a bewildering picture, with made-up terms thrown around like cisheteronormativity, ageism, lookism, etc. Meanwhile, everyone else was told that having collective consciousness is unfair, prejudiced, wrong—basically “deplorable”.
Protected groups got new commemorative days, awareness weeks, and even entire months to celebrate their history and “raise consciousness”. By itself, that’s fairly innocuous. However, designated “oppressor” groups have their histories misrepresented and even erased.
Protected groups have countless organizations, from small clubs in schools and offices to well-funded major national outfits. They’re certainly free to organize; nobody’s saying that’s wrong. However, when disfavored “oppressors” try to further their interests, that’s called “hate” or some “-ist” or “-phobic” word. If they get any publicity at all, it’s bitterly negative. Daring to stand up for themselves—even if their long-term survival is threatened—is portrayed as something evil.
Less innocuous are hiring quotas, contract set-asides, and other rent-seeking measures amounting to legalized graft. (The left discusses “privilege” endlessly; those things are real privilege.) Beyond that are special rights, like laws granting extra protections. “Hate crime” legislation doesn’t penalize protected group members; if they commit crimes, either they had rough childhoods, or the “oppressors” deserved it. Many “free” countries even have laws against criticizing protected groups, or disputing their version of history.
Further, heavy pressure to conform is provided by the media, education, institutions, and even big businesses pushing this world view and suppressing dissent. All the hypocrisy is as rotten as a decaying carcass, of course. Encouraging some groups to think collectively, while making it a taboo for others, is like demanding someone to fight with an arm tied behind his back.
It’s hard to imagine anything more absurd, but this is politics since the 1960s. Feminism became the great Shit Test that society failed. The gays should’ve been familiarized with the word “no” by the 1990s. The trannies should’ve been told to grow a pair.
Population replacement policies are the most troublesome. When we’re told “Your DNA is an abomination“, that’s a problem. It’s also a problem when others openly gloat expecting our demise—while not realizing they’re sinking their own ship, or that they’re sadly perpetuating a long tradition of giving their own ethnic group a bad name. Do we need further evidence that those wanting to wreck Western civilization don’t have our best interests at heart? Should we agree to play the game by their rules, which means not at all?
The final word
The individualism versus collectivism narrative is a false dichotomy. One definition of justice is the proper balance between individual interests and community interests; it’s not an “either/or” proposition. Regarding statism, there certainly are good arguments for limited government. The greatest one is that it reduces damage by the Deep State and bumbling bureaucrats. The greater problem there is obvious.
Further, the leftist pipe dream of utopian multicultural harmony isn’t attainable, especially since not all groups are expected to reject tribalism. Neither is their dysfunctional global melting pot really desirable, nor their efforts to create a unisex society.
If collectivism means goofy economic policies and sending people to gulags for merely disagreeing, I’m against those things. However, using an instinctive means of survival that everyone else is using (sometimes very militantly) makes sense. It’s time to stop fighting with an arm tied behind our backs.
Read More: 6 Reasons Why I Gave Up On Libertarianism