It’s About the Individual v. the Collective – Part One of Two

individiual v collectiveOnce upon a time in our American society, each and every citizen was referred to as an independent individual, possessing an independent mind and body, and an independent future which each of us would have to forge for ourselves. Every school child was encouraged to think and act as an independent human being, possessing a character that distinguished him or her from each and every other person on the planet. This individualist view was imbued in each of us in the public forum, as well.  Each person was identified as “his own man” or “her own woman” and each citizen was celebrated for the unique value he held and for the original contribution he could make to society. Opportunities abounded through intelligence, education, hard work and enterprise. The reality of these values still exists because the truth cannot change.  But individualism is no longer being encouraged and the terms used to describe us have changed.  Now, the pervasive terms refer to identification as members of groups, but this is the perceptual shift toward a collectivist view. Groups, of course, are comprised of individuals who come together for a purpose, but that distinction is being gradually, deliberately blurred.  Collectives are masses, and masses much more easily controlled than groups of individuals.  Individuals cannot be controlled at all, but must be negotiated with. Politicians would much rather control a mob than negotiate with millions of individuals.  Thus comes the deliberate change in perception, which leads to the change in reality.

In the minds of most politicians, we the people are one or another demographic collective, ostensibly for purpose of getting votes. That, after all, is the lifeblood of elected politicians. But there is more than simple manipulation here, because the perception in politics often becomes the reality and that reality, once established, can be harsh.  Stalin said that one death is a tragedy, while a million deaths are a statistic. He did not say a million deaths were a million tragedies, and that is significant.  Stalin was not commenting ironically on the carnage of war. He was commenting philosophically on people as a mass, a herd, a collective. It was Stalin, one should remember, who collectivized farms in the Soviet Union and persecuted the Kulaks. It was under Stalin, one should remember, that something like 30,000,000 people died as a result of everything from purges to deliberate mass starvation.  These were not perceived as the deaths of individual people, but the death of masses, of collectives.

Such things happen when in a society people lose their independence and individual identities and become masses, collectives.  And they happen more often than one would like to imagine.  In Mao’s collectivist China, 100,000,000 deaths occurred.  Mao is said to have bragged about it.  By comparison with Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China, the mass deaths in Ruanda and elsewhere in Africa are statistically insignificant, but one look at the photos and films of the tortured men, women and children suffering there, reminds us instantly that statistics are not human beings.

In the US, we were told by Barack Obama that the day of rugged individualists is over and that we all need a leg up from the government. Like Stalin, Obama was not commenting ironically that Americans are a shadow of their former industrious selves with independent strengths and inventive energy.  He was commenting on a philosophic shift.  In Obama’s mind and in the mind of politicians Americans are no longer to be considered, treated or celebrated as independent individual citizens, but as bits of voting blocs and in other collective categories.  This shift is deliberate and it is not the choice of each of us to be so treated.  It is an effort by unscrupulous politicians gradually to steal our individual identities and thus to steal our independence as individuals.  Obama, you may remember, promised to “fundamentally transform America.”  This is what he meant.

FJ Rocca

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American Conservatism.  Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital in human discourse.

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