In healthy societies, the individual is of primary importance in the struggle for liberation. Not the group. Unity and co-operation is reached by individuals choosing to work together. Compliance and control is reached when a single ideology is favoured above others, particularly when that ideology places the “good of the group” as paramount.
The opposite is not necessarily excessive selfishness. It’s easy to call people out as “extreme individualists” when the default societal perspective is extreme colletivism. This attitude is becoming increasingly common, AGAIN!
But who defines what the good of the group is? Usually a very small – but powerful – proportion of the population. Whether they preach National Socialism, Maxism or Liberalism, we must be careful when following the ideas of such powerful folks. We must always test and challenge the ideas and stories that are pushed on us. Else collectivist ideology rules.
Liberal dove symbol
National Socialist (Nazi) Swastica
The big ideologies
We can look to history for lessons of where collectivist ideology goes wrong. Let’s hope we can avoid going that route again.
National Socialism – looked great to the people of 1920s Germany whose economy was in tatters following World War 1. It wasn’t until later they realised they had been complicit in the murder of millions of Jews. The Jews weren’t the only casualties of course. The rest of the world’s people’s suffered as a result of WW2. We can even imagine the suffering of those ordinary Germans who found themselves involved with the death camps… These were not unusual or particularly evil people. They were just people. Like you.
Marxism – perhaps an easy sell for the poor communities of rural russia who had always needed to pull together during harsh winters. But when times were particularly harsh, human weakness can be leveraged, encouraging people to feel like victims to the oppression. But by whom? By anyone who has more stuff than me. This is the central tennet of Marxism – there are two groups, the oppressors and the oppressed. Under the banner of Communism (a method of resource management informed by Marxism), millions became cannon fodder for the “Fatherland”.
Liberalism – is the final surviving ideology – receiving cult-like popularity – from the 20th century (and critically, not the torch bearer of the great philosophical traditions that have come from the West). Having conquered its competitors (above), it has become bloated and arrogant, feeling itself superior. In its name, countless attrocities have been commited, invasions of nations justified with manufactured evidence, the restrictions of freedoms justified with the backing of unreliable science, the destabilisation of governments whose aims were contrary to their own. We are stood at the precipice of a great fall for this ideology. Be prepared for some great revelations regarding the goings on of Western society over the past 100 years in particular. It won’t be pretty…
In all cases, collective ideology has blinded people into believing they were Good and doing the Right thing. Even to the extent of labelling others Bad and Wrong, for being and thinking differently.
The reality is much more complex. But suffice it to say, we are ALL different (a Universal Truth) and diversity of opinon and expression is a blessing (like with eco-systems bio-diversity, it creates resilience). For some it’s also a curse, because it makes achieving short-sighted material goals more difficult. But the wise know that it’s not a curse, because treating others’ differences with respect is the way to a more human existence. That attitude allows the tapestry of life to become more accessible and and true richness of experience can be had. As an individual.
That’s not to say that stories – as ideologies are – don’t have merit. When we are young (not by consequence of years lived on the planet), we do not have good self control. We need rules to guide us. That’s where stories are useful. They give us a map. They give us boundaries. They teach us what consequences befall those who go beyond those boundaries. They give us a compass to use, until we grow up and can make our own decisions. Decisions that are good for us, but also do not cause harm to others. Perhaps even being good for others… But these outcomes are a consequence of us growing up. Growing up doesn’t seem to be happening much in the West these days. This is a recipe for chaos.
The Wizard of Oz. “Don’t pay attention to that man behind the curtain”.