Why Individualism Matters

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Studying up on Naziism, I am struck by how anti-individual it is. Repeatedly, the concerns of the individual are to be replaced by the concerns of the state. The thinking goes, “We either all succeed together (via the state), or we all fail.”

This sort of thinking, I believe, is at the core of Naziism. It is also at the core of a host of other bad philosophies, such as socialism.

Once you’ve determined that there is a collective victory that is superior and preferable to individual victory, the only question is how you define the collective. Modern-day globalists would like to lump all of humanity into that collective. Socialists would like to lump all working-class (IE, non-rich) into that collective. The Alt-Right is concerned only about the color of your skin, forgetting that even though we share the same skin color, we still do not agree and have historical and cultural differences. Thus, communism, globalism, naziism, the Alt-Right, these are not very different from one another. You hear the same message, “Us vs. Them”, with the definition of “Us” being the only deciding factor.

This sort of thinking, to me is dangerous. I’d like to explain why.

First, the collective is nothing more than the sum of the parts. If you have a V8 engine, the total power output is going to be to output of each of the cylinders, added together. Sure, you can arrange the same components in different configurations and avoid inefficiencies (a V6 will run better than a V8 with two cylinders non-working, after all), but ultimately, each component needs to be working at or near peak condition.

Thus, individual needs are the needs of the collective. If you want everyone to be happy, you have to make each person happy, one at a time. You cannot be collectively happy without individual happiness.

Second, the collective has no will, but individuals do. Individuals have desires and motives, and that’s what makes up the collective’s desires and motives. This is something few politicians really understand. It’s not the mob mentality that gives them power, it’s the reason why people come together to form mobs in the first place. Thus, it’s really pointless to talk about the collective as if it were a person. It is not. People are people, and nothing else. So if you want to represent the will of the collective, what you’re really doing is representing the will of each person of the collective.

Third, we get to the crux of the argument. Let’s say the collective you belong to is full of ne’er-do-wells who want nothing more than to do bad things. What can the collective do? The collective, after all, is nothing more than the sum of its parts, so the collective will also do bad things.

Or what if you belong to a collective of absolute saints. Will the collective be worse than that? What can you do to make it better, if there is nothing better the individuals could possibly do?

Knowing that the collective is neither good nor bad, but individuals are, we see the true problem: You need to manipulate individuals, control them, somehow, force them to be better (or worse), or rather, to bend to your will, rather than their own.

Thus we see what the collective really is: A device used to discourage individual thinking, and ultimately, to disempower the individual.

Now, a broken clock is right twice a day, so just because thinking of the collective gives a certain conclusion doesn’t mean the conclusion is necessarily wrong. However, it does mean that it isn’t a very good way of thinking about things, because it isn’t necessarily right either. In short, thinking of the collective without thinking of the individual is powerless, while thinking of the individual without thinking of the collective is powerful. In short, reasoning with the collective will limit your ability to reason.

Thinking about politics, government, social responsibility, morality, religion — these things all need to be done at the level of the individual. How will one person interact? What will they do better or worse? Will a change in policy change one person’s behavior? I think this is one of the reasons of the success of the United States. We have always been “hopelessly” individualistic, to the point where every person approaches government as “What do I get out of it?” rather than “What is good for all?”

I wonder how Naziism would’ve evolved if they had adopted this aspect of American politics and government — recognition of the false reasoning of the collective and the natural rights and moral responsibility of the individual. Would it even resemble what we know today?

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