Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.
Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: “Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.”
This is from a letter former slave Frederick Douglass wrote to his ex-“master” Thomas Auld after escaping bondage in Maryland and fleeing to New York. “I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds upon which I have justified myself in running away from you,” wrote Douglass. “I am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them.” You see, said Douglass, “I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living. Your faculties remained yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner.”
John Dewey, a father of pragmatism and modern “liberalism,” explains the collectivist notion as follows:
“Society in its unified and structural character is the fact of the case; the non-social individual is an abstraction arrived at by imagining what man would be if all his human qualities were taken away. Society, as a real whole, is the normal order, and the mass as an aggregate of isolated units is the fiction.”
According to collectivism, the group or society is metaphysically real—and the individual is a mere abstraction, a fiction.
According to our founders, our rights, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are ours because they were given to us by our creator and cannot be limited or taken from us. According to the collectivist, the Marxist/Progressives (Democrats) and Republican Establishment, our rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are given to us by government. Consequently, it is the right of the giver to regulate and control those rights. When those rights are exercised by the individual, and it is determined by the collective or the government that the individuals exercise of such is detrimental to the group as a whole, then it is the right of the government to limit or abolish such rights.
Our founders believed the government did not have a right to own or control any individual’s private property. Today we are told it is the duty of the government to take an individual’s personal property through taxes and give that property to others for the good of the collective. Today we are told it is the duty of the government to require individuals to not only purchase insurance but to pay a higher premium because it is for the good of the collective. Today we are told it is the duty of the government to disallow the collection of rainfall by the individual for his use because it is for the good of the collective. Today we are told that it is the duty of the government to determine wages between an employer and employee because it is for the good of the collective. Today we are told it is the duty of the government to be able to limit income of individuals because it is for the good of the collective.
Patrick Henry said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
The individualist would adhere to this quote. The individualist understands that government is the single biggest threat to an individual’s liberty and freedom. The individualist understands that the individual should be in control of his own life and his own interests.
The collectivist believes the government must restrain the desires and ambitions of the individual by dominating or controlling the life and interest of the individual.
This is the tipping point. Do we again become a nation where the people restrain the government and are in control of their lives and interests, or do we continue down the collectivist road of the Marxist/Progressives (Democrats) and the Republican Establishment where the government restrains the individual and dominates or controls all aspects of their lives and yes, even their interests?
If we continue down the collectivist road, we are saying, “Goodbye Constitution, Freedom, America.”