Author Topic: On Individualism and Collectivism  (Read 329 times)

Offline quadz

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On Individualism and Collectivism
« on: June 24, 2020, 02:37:31 PM »
Do you know the difference between individualism and collectivism? Honest question.
Not without googling it.

You'll want to explore the distinction, as it's not possible to reason from first principles about many of the important political issues of the past century, let alone the founding documents of this country without regard for the tension between these opposing mindsets.

English liberalism, from which our country's founding traces its lineage, is distinct from Continental/European liberalism; the former being oriented more toward individualism, the latter more toward collectivism.

It's also crucial to model how systems operate at scale. Because (for example) things that seem like "nice ideas" on a small commune require unavoidably totalitarian repression when enacted on a national scale.

Here's a celebrated treatise on the natural evolution of systems that try to scale up centrally planned economies:



Quote from: mises.org/library/road-serfdom-0
[The Road to Serfdom] is a classic in the history of liberal ideas. It was singularly responsible for launching an important debate on the relationship between political and economic freedom. It made the author a world-famous intellectual. It set a new standard for what it means to be a dissident intellectual. It warned of a new form of despotism enacted in the name of liberation. And though it appeared in 1944, it continues to have a remarkable impact. No one can consider himself well-schooled in modern political ideas without having absorbed its lessons.

What F.A. Hayek saw, and what most all his contemporaries missed, was that every step away from the free market and toward government planning represented a compromise of human freedom generally and a step toward a form of dictatorship--and this is true in all times and places. He demonstrated this against every claim that government control was really only a means of increasing social well-being. Hayek said that government planning would make society less liveable, more brutal, more despotic. Socialism in all its forms is contrary to freedom.

Nazism, he wrote, is not different in kind from Communism. Further, he showed that the very forms of government that England and America were supposedly fighting abroad were being enacted at home, if under a different guise. Further steps down this road, he said, can only end in the abolition of effective liberty for everyone.

Capitalism, he wrote, is the only system of economics compatible with human dignity, prosperity, and liberty. To the extent we move away from that system, we empower the worst people in society to manage what they do not understand.

The beauty of this book is not only in its analytics but in its style, which is unrelenting and passionate. Even today, the book remains a source of controversy. Socialists who imagine themselves to be against dictatorship cannot abide his argument, and they never stop attempting to refute it.

Here's a quick summary of The Road to Serfdom in cartoon form:

https://cdn.mises.org/Road%20to%20Serfdom%20in%20Cartoons.pdf

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Offline quadz

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2020, 01:14:11 AM »
By way of example, I've been noticing recently how people slip between collectivism and individualism, apparently without noticing, when discussing certain topics.

These days, it's not uncommon to find an interview or online discussion where someone is being asked to provide examples to support the claim that "systemic racism" exists within the United States in 2020.

A familiar response takes the form:

A. There was institutional slavery
B. After slavery came institutional segregation via Jim Crow laws and redlining
C. Cumulative effects of this historical oppression are a significant factor in demographic inequity seen today (e.g. racial wealth gap)
D. This present-day product of historical inequity contributes to my oppression as a Person of Color

Now A and B are simple facts. C is presumably a fact (it's hard to imagine a convincing argument against it.)

Here's where things get slippery.

A, B, and C are describing circumstances that affect collectives.

D is taking some statistical distribution of data points pertaining to a collective, and assigning its aggregate as a causal factor in the life of an individual.

People rarely blink when this subtle switch from the collective to the individual occurs. But it fails in multiple ways.

First the obvious: a.k.a, "Oh yeah, well what about the children of Jay-Z and Beyoncé?"

Of course: When the collective in this example is defined by racial identity, some members of the collective will be born into families with millionaire or billionaire parents, attend the best schools, etc., and so for such individuals it's hard to formulate how A, B, and C produce the kind of effect on their lives that is generally claimed by D.

It's indeed important to note such edge cases exist, but let's ignore them for now.

Because things get more subtle when we consider what individualism really means.

Assume the following is simply a true statement made by an individual X:

"I'm the direct descendant of slaves, and if it hadn't been for generations of oppression affecting my ancestors I would not have been born into such circumstances of poverty and limited opportunity."

There are definitely individuals being born for whom this is very likely a true statement.

Contrastingly, there may be an individual Y [of any racial identity, but let's say non-black for this example] growing up in equivalent circumstances of poverty whose historical lineage might run something like this instead:

"My great grandfather on my mother's side was well-off. But my grandfather squandered his inheritance and was an alcoholic, and my mother was unmarried with a drug problem and raised me in squalor."

Here's the crux of the matter: At the level of the individual – child X or Y being born into poverty – the accounting of how their parent(s) became poor is almost completely irrelevant to the experience of the child as an individual.

Individual experience doesn't collectivize. But people routinely talk about it as if it did. And I think it's worth noticing when people make that slip of applying the aggregate of a collective to oneself as an individual, as if it matters to the child whether their parents were poor for reasons X or Y.

As such, "systemic racism" by accumulation of historical oppression may make sense collectively, but it's really irrelevant in the face of socio-economic class when considering individuals.


tl;dr: Nobody chooses the circumstances of their birth, and ancestral oppression (or lack thereof) is hardly relevant to the lives of children–individuals of any race–who grow up equally disadvantaged (or advantaged) in the present.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 09:05:30 AM by quadz »
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Offline metaL

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2020, 02:59:26 AM »
Indeed.

Since with 99% certainty I can say that any good functioning society should have at least SOME elements of both philosophies, and most societies (collectivist especially) are nearly always referred to with more specific terms (ie, socialism, communism, etc), people seem to not only slip between them conceptually (and often unknowingly) during discussion, but they are unfortunately not used frequently and many people are not very familiar with these terms nor do they see the world through either lens (or both, when looking at a society - I sort of envision a Venn diagram at times).

Unfortunately my HS history teachers didn't mention either term, and my history/western civ professors/courses at college only briefly brushed upon them conceptually. I became more familiar with them and started using them more following my own research via the internet and some books I've read years ago. This is petty (lol), but I quickly noticed if I was debating certain individuals were far left (I went to a heavily left leaning university) and advocating for some type of highly collectivist society, if I used the broader term "collectivism" it took away their ability to sidestep all substance and argue semantics (also petty) to denounce any criticism I may have pointed out of such societies in history. They could no longer claim a certain system is solely a theory, or say "that wasn't real socialism" or "communism has never been attempted lulz classless society ftw" or use one of their dozens of ism's they recently google'd and stuffed in their quiver, etc. By encompassing what all these philosophers/systems/theories had in common with one accurate (and still fairly specific) term, it led to (a lot of debates ending rapidly, and) more conceptually productive discussion. It also shed light on the fact that fascism is indeed a highly collectivist/big government society. A lot of people seem to think fascism is radical capitalism or something. I know where it comes from (the flawed notion that fascism is a far right wing ideological system) but it's still strange (and highly inaccurate). And it does go along with the growing sentiment that anything to the right of pure unabridged socialism is nazism (lol).

By more frequently viewing the world through this dichotomy, I was more able to see what I felt was the bigger picture. I appreciated human uniqueness more and felt it should embraced, not eradicated (a task even the most highly collectivist societies cannot accomplish). I also appreciated (conceptually) freedom and independence more. I began to see through the illusion of the left vs right dynamic which cast light on what I feel is the real dichotomy, the people vs the government (extremely broadly speaking).

I'm sure I'm guilty of occasionally (and inadvertently) flip flopping between the 2 ideas when speaking of concepts, but I do try to avoid putting too much emphasis on anecdotal evidence. Anecdotes are important and usually worth mentioning, but they're still anecdotes.
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Offline quadz

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2020, 09:31:25 AM »
By way of example, I've been noticing recently how people slip between collectivism and individualism, apparently without noticing, when discussing certain topics.

How could I have forgotten the greatest Woke example of this sleight of hand?

The following went by in my Twitter feed this morning:



It's pulling the same trick: As if historically-influenced statistics about a collective overpower the moment-to-moment circumstances of any individual in the collective.



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Offline |iR|Focalor

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2020, 09:42:41 AM »
Unfortunately my HS history teachers didn't mention either term, and my history/western civ professors/courses at college only briefly brushed upon them conceptually.

I got kicked out of public high school after 2 years of being a huge discipline problem for them. During that time, I didn't pay much attention to history class. I got the basics of what happened, but I certainly didn't listen to the boring fucking opinionating of the teachers. I didn't give a shit about tests or anything and made mostly F's. And after I was permanently expelled, I did 2 years of homeschooling with a private Christian tutor, and then my last 2 years were at a private Christian school. Of course Christian school is going to try to brainwash you about their religious beliefs, but by then I had already made my mind up that Christianity was bullshit and I didn't buy into any of it. After public high school, I had become involved with the Church of the SubGenius which is a parody religion that makes fun of everything, and by the time I graduated from the private Christian school, I was a card carrying member of the Church of Satan (which they obviously didn't know). :D (I've since resigned my membership many years ago as I disagree with the bullshit geeky "magic" aspects of it.)

I kinda view myself as fortunate to have had that kind of schooling outside of the public school curriculum. The homeschooling I had with a private tutor from my parents church... she got the school books from old stock of a baptist/Christian curriculum I guess. They were from the mid or late 80's, when everyone thought Russia was the devil. The history book spent GREAT DEALS of time shitting on and denouncing Russia and Communism, detailing why it was so bad for a people... mostly because it was "godless". ::) But by then, I had begun reading things like Ayn Rand and Anton LaVey more, so it somewhat coincided with the philosophy I gravitated towards.

But I'd venture to guess that most high school literature classes wouldn't mention people like Tolstoy and Ayn Rand anymore.
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Offline Punk_FAS

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2020, 09:49:25 AM »
I've always disagreed with the idea that black people cannot be racist. I've never agreed with the apparent redefining of what the term "racist" means as well.
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Offline haunted

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2020, 09:52:53 AM »

How could I have forgotten the greatest Woke example of this sleight of hand?

The following went by in my Twitter feed this morning:


That woman needs Jesus.
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Offline quadz

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2020, 06:39:32 PM »
Wow reddit, THANKS.

Speaking of reddit:

"the rule does not protect groups of people who are in the majority"


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiRFm9xf45o

From the comments:

"The world is bifurcating into two camps: liberal universalists, and identity tribalists. You will have no choice but to pick a side, soon. Universalism demands freedom. Tribalism demands conformity. The tribalists are trying hard to re-define liberal universalism as just another form of identity tribalism. Let them. You can't stop it. If that's what they want, then they can count me in the universalist "tribe", and they can be prepared to defend themselves." — Greg Gauthier
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Offline haunted

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2020, 07:20:04 PM »
Animal Farm and Lord of the flies are what's happening to this country currently.

 :mrdead:

Regarding Greg's comment: He picked a side not because he's for something, but against something. I've never been a person who votes against someone or some group like so many do/did with trump and Republicans. Getting him out of office is all that matters to them. As I observe the trend that's happening in this country I get closer and closer to voting against THEM(left-wing candidates that endorse the out of control tribalism, collectivism, etc). I've never been like that.
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Offline |iR|Focalor

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2020, 07:27:21 PM »
Everyday, there's something else. Another domino falls.  :ohlord:

Another one from the comments:

Quote
Aaeren A - 34 minutes ago
But I'm a part of the smallest minority on planet Earth....




The Individual.

We're sorry. We no longer recognize that word.

I made a post maybe a week ago about how I felt like this whole "movement" was somewhat imaginary or not real and only existed within social media's parallel universe of herd mentality. I don't use Twitter or Facebook or any of that shit, so I can't really gauge what is actually going on. Is it possible for you to know what is REALLY going on based on what you're seeing, or are you only seeing certain things?

I assume you subscribe or whatever to certain peoples feeds and those feeds probably mirror your own opinions. When I talk to my mom about facebook, she seems to say that most of what she sees on there is pro-Trump and she doesn't get how so many people can really be pro-Democrat. Obviously being pro-Trump herself, she's linked to others who feel the same, and that's what she sees.

From my perspective, on the rare occasions that I do get out (with the exception of weekly or bi-weekly grocery trips, I'm still bunkered in place until a covid vaccine is ready), people don't seem to be as engrossed in this shit as they appear to be on the news or on the internet.
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Offline haunted

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2020, 07:38:51 PM »
It depends foc. For me it's not like that among 'normal' working people. My coworkers that are over the age of 30 are not engrossed in it. Not even close. But, I'm connected through social media to over a thousand people I've met through the different colleges I've attended and the majority of them are passionately and fanatically obsessed, and are comparable to quadz's tweets he shares. Not limited to, but they're typically under 35 and the younger they are the worse it is.
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Offline quadz

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2020, 07:58:10 PM »
Regarding Greg's comment: He picked a side not because he's for something, but against something.

A little pushback: I think Greg is articulating something difficult, along the lines of "principled universalist ethics" - or whatever philosophers have termed this idea.

But it all hinges on: "which encroachment on universalist ideals is too far: and thus deforms the original principle"
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Offline haunted

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2020, 08:14:15 PM »
I got ya. Yeah I was aware of me over-simplifying what he was articulating. I began that post with "not to veer too far off topic, but" and I decided to delete it.  It was just what was on my mind. :sorry:
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Offline metaL

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Re: On Individualism and Collectivism
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2020, 04:17:09 PM »
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    Funny
    Nice Job / Good Work
    Rock On
    Flawless Logic
    Well-Reasoned Argument and/or Conclusion
    Demonstrates Exceptional Knowlege of the Game
    Appears Not to Comprehend Game Fundamentals
    Frag of the Week
    Frag Hall of Fame
    Jump of the Week
    Jump Hall of Fame
    Best Solution
    Wins The Internet
    Whoosh! You done missed the joke thar Cletus!
    Obvious Troll Is Obvious
    DO YOU EVEN LIFT?
    DEMO OR STFU
    Offtopic
    Flamebait
    Redundant
    Factually Challenged
    Preposterously Irrational Arguments
    Blindingly Obvious Logical Fallacies
    Absurd Misconstrual of Scientific Principles or Evidence
    Amazing Conspiracy Theory Bro
    Racist Ignoramus
<+Razor> Noob-tyfe, didnt i tell u to stfu?
<+Razor> When skill and u belongs in same room, then we talk

 

El Box de Shoutamente

Last 10 Shouts:

 

Om3ga

July 10, 2020, 06:39:35 PM
I like trolling you guys.
 

Om3ga

July 10, 2020, 06:37:37 PM
Sup tastybitches, Om3ga 2020. Hope yall staying healthy  cuz i come back to hang around, im coming back harder than the coronavirus.
 

|iR|Focalor

July 10, 2020, 04:08:00 PM
It was cold. Damn.
 

ImperiusDamian

July 10, 2020, 08:56:39 AM
"I saw focalor's small one"? That's rather judgy isn't it?  ;D ;D
 

Admin

July 01, 2020, 10:18:02 AM
Indeed, thanks. Added a few more bans.

otg

July 01, 2020, 04:49:07 AM
ADMIN: the bot is back using player names. cheers.
 

|iR|Focalor

June 22, 2020, 03:58:10 AM
Nah. I used "img width=220" in the first tag. That's about max size for the box on my monitor, which is 1280x1024 old school non-widescreen square format.
 

haunted

June 21, 2020, 07:07:01 PM
Damn it. I saw focalor's small one and figured it auto resized it here. Haha
 

haunted

June 21, 2020, 07:06:04 PM
 

|iR|Focalor

June 21, 2020, 10:54:46 AM

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