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Rugged Individualism Cannot Save Us. Only Enlightened Collectivism Can.

Rugged Individualism Cannot Save Us. Only Enlightened Collectivism Can.

Individualism cannot save humanity from the crises it faces. It’s not the right tool.

There is a widespread belief that if we just eliminated all collectivist impulses within our society, we could eliminate all our problems. That the government which causes so much bloodshed and oppression wouldn’t be harmful if we can shrink it down to a minor role, or even to nonexistence, and the corporate powers which attach themselves to governments would thereby lose power over individuals. Let individuals take care of themselves however they see fit, with no collectivist power interfering in their affairs, and the world will sort itself out in a harmonious way.

This will never happen.

The most common argument for why this will never happen is that the world is full of awful people, and if you place the will of the individual over the will of the collective, the awful people will be able to do a lot more awful things. The people who are sociopathic enough to destroy the environment and exploit others for profit will be able to exert more influence over the total wellbeing of the world than those who aren’t, and there’ll be no safety nets in place protecting those who are born into under-privileged situations. Individuals like mothers who aren’t as capable of earning money would frequently find themselves dependent on the kindness of a man who may or may not be kind. Such a society would claim to be just, since it makes the same demands of everybody, but due to real circumstances could only ever be gravely unjust.

This argument is of course true, but it’s not the primary reason that individualism cannot save us.

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