Individualism vs. Collectivism

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August 7, 2012 by Anders Ingemarson

Individualism regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society […] can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.” Ayn Rand

The signers of the Declaration of Independence may not have expressed it in the same words as Ayn Rand, but they certainly had individualism in mind when they risked their lives in support of those self-evident truths: our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Individualism has been under attack ever since. Collectivists of different persuasions have been hard at work touting the primacy of some group or another, often at the expense of some other group and always at the expense of the individual.

Communists and Socialists have promoted the superiority of workers (Russia) or farmers (China) over the bourgeois; Nazis and Fascists have put forward the supremacy of one nation (Germany/Italy/Japan/Spain) and/or race (Germany) over other nations/races. Just to mention the most flagrant examples.

At home, Progressives and others on the left have borrowed heavily from overseas, pushing us ever more in the collectivist direction with New Deals, Great Societies, Wars on Poverty, and Hope and Change.

Not to be outdone, albeit with less success, certain conservative groups have and still are pushing for the primacy of the family and the common good over the individual.

Reclaiming our Founders vision for America is to reclaim individualism; it is a necessary condition of our nature as rational beings and a prerequisite for the pursuit of happiness.

Fire away!

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