I have written many times in the past about the singular conflict at the core of most human crises and disasters, a conflict that sabotages human endeavor and retards critical thought. This conflict not only stems from social interaction, it also exists within the psyche of the average individual. It is an inherent contradiction of the human experience that at times can fuel great accomplishment, but usually leads to great tragedy. I am of course talking about the conflict between our inborn need for self determination versus our inborn desire to hand over responsibility to a community through group effort — sovereignty versus collectivism.
In my view, the source of the problem is that most people wrongly assume that “collectivism” is somehow the same as community. This is entirely false, and those who make this claim are poorly educated on what collectivism actually means. It is important to make a distinction here; the grouping of people is not necessarily or automatically collectivism unless that group seeks to subjugate the individuality of its participants. Collectivism cannot exist where individual freedom is valued. People can still group together voluntarily for mutual benefit and retain respect for the independence of members (i.e. community, rather than collectivism).
This distinction matters because there is a contingent of political and financial elites that would like us to believe that there is no middle ground between the pursuits of society and the liberties of individuals. That is to say, we are supposed to assume that all our productive energies and our safety and security belong to society. Either that, or we are extremely selfish and self serving “individualists” that are incapable of “seeing the bigger picture.” The mainstream discussion almost always revolves around these two extremes.
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