By Caitlin Johnstone CaitlinJohnstone. I ndividualism cannot save humanity from the crises it faces. There is a widespread belief that if we just eliminated all collectivist impulses within our society, we could eliminate all our problems.
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.
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.
Snapshot of sea ice, September Looming Ecosystem Collapse. The primary reason individualism cannot save us is that it depends upon competition. A society that is pouring all of its energy and creativity into the drive of the individual to get ahead of the other individuals will never be able to overcome the fundamental problem of looming ecosystemic collapse, setting us instead on a massive rat race to be the first to destroy the environment for profit before someone else does.
Which is why strict adherents to individualism must tell each other fairy tales about the ecosystem being fine in order to avoid cognitive dissonance. The very ecosystemic context in which we evolved is vanishing underneath us.
Bramble Cay melomys, declared extinct in June , are likely the first mammalian extinction attributed to human-caused climate change. We need to turn around, all of us, together. Relying on human ingenuity directed by nothing other than competition and profit will not focus our efforts with anything like the necessary urgency.
Human-Carbon Link. Individualists know this, which is why their ideology relies so heavily on denialism of scientific consensus regarding the disappearance of the ecosystemic context in which our species evolved.
The door is closed to solving our problems via rugged individualism anyway. The arguments for individualism have been used by right-wing mainstream political parties to cut taxes, slash social programs, kill minimum wage hikes and roll back regulations on corporations, but never, ever actually end up shrinking government beyond that.
The war machine continues to swell, as does the increasingly militarized and surveillance-happy police state and all the other aspects of government which do actual harm to actual people. And even if you did, how much energy would you have left over to throw into extensive mass-scale collaboration after having to spend so much of it competing with your neighbors to survive?
Probably very little. From Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
So, collaboration by the entire collective is the only answer. The problem is that malignant manipulators come in and hijack our healthy impulse to collaborate with each other and get us collaborating in the interests of power instead. So, collectivism by itself is worthless.
What we need is not just our healthy impulse to collaborate, but to collaborate in a wise and intuitive way that is not manipulated by the propaganda narratives of the powerful.
Individualism vs collectivism culture pdf files
This means fundamentally changing how our minds operate. It means a collective evolution into a wildly new relationship with thought. Is that a big ask? Of course. Evolution always is. In fact, we are taking it currently.
In San Francisco, activists created a mural covering five blocks of city streets with colorful scenes illustrating possible solutions to global warming, all around City Hall plaza, as part of the global Climate Action March, Sept.
Fabrice Florin via Flickr. Humans were never meant to operate as individuals. We need each other. This article was re-published with permission.
Only Enlightened Collectivism Can Save Us
Thank you, you many bright ones. Much care must be applied before accepting usage of that term as something good! Very different! Gorgeous piece with which I totally agree. In community lies our strength and survival in coming times. Thank you for being out in front. I once used this analogy to make a point to a friend, whom I was estranged these last ten years, and whom I just found out yesterday has died. He was three years younger than me.
Think about any metropolitan area, use the US for example; think about all of the hundreds of thousands of automobile trips that transpire within a day.
The harsh reality is not how many accidents occur at any such location every day, but how FEW. There is mass collaboration, mass co-operation. I was estranged from my friend, because the last time I saw him and spoke to him he told me that everything I believed in was crap and those like me were fools. This falling-out affected me profoundly; they were our closest friends; our eldest son is his namesake.
But he dissed me to my core. Reality is what we make it, is it not? The archeological evidence from south-eastern Europe shows villages without protective walls and without weapons circa 8 — 7, years ago.
No -archy, no power over.
Power flowed horizontally around the circle. Circa 5, years ago, with the growth of agriculture and the resulting urbanization, and the incursion of nomadic desert-dwellers, this horizontal flow of power was turned vertically into hierarchy and has now reproduced itself globally.
The function of this cultural hierarchy is the exploitation of natural and human resources. It has brought us to this point of suicidal insanity. We are destroying our life-support systems. We can each begin to create the culture that will sustain us for another , years.
Collective collaboration surrenders power-over and returns the flow of power horizontally within the circle. Localization of our water, our food, our fuel, our energy, our shelter, our community, our economy, our fun, our politics, allows us to relinquish the industrial exploitation. Excellent evaluation!
Collectivism and Individualism as Cultural Syndromes
Caitlin, I like many of your articles but much of this is pie in the sky inaccurate nonsense. Yes we are destroying the earth but it is NOT global warming. Climate is cyclic just like everything else. Anyone with an open mind can looke at the historical cyclic nature of our sun and our planet. Also collectivism is the new vogue term of salvation. Global warming will not kill us.
Liberal Ideas #3 - Individualism vs Collectivism
We will do that ourselves as we fight for clean water and food. Some will survive but many of us will perish by disease and war. Completely naive to think a collectivist mentality will work and sadly she has succumbed to the CO2 hoax. We may take steps towards the common good or not, whatever petty squabbles anyone may find against collectivism or whatever excuse may be found to imagine humans as asocial beings.
If we fail to bother to take collective action in our own behalf, there will be no use awaiting a response from our dogs or cats or chickens.
Part of the problem is that people imagine collectivism to be opposed to autonomy, something each of us need. We imagine that we wish to act against our common good when we are informed and not foolish.
What is needed is not uniform action coerced by a single owner or governing class, but the evolution of trust, solidarity, and collective action among smaller groups of people that may to some extent coalesce towards common interests, but which can maintain independent action as groups.
It is individualism in the sense of a system that allows for individual autonomy and decision. It is collectivism in a sense that allows for mutual aid and care, and with that a liberation from the tyranny of personal fear and greed.
This sounds idealistic because the trust is not there and cannot be decreed. But it is something that we already do in small groups. So there we must start.
Well said. The path we are on now leads to death with a clown on top.
Cultural Dimension: me or we
We must choose to work together. Free market capitalism actually works pretty well as a social structure rewarding innovation and work and distributing resources… until the distribution of wealth gets so tilted that the top. Think about it. It would remove the incentive of insane wealth accumulation from society and the power cartels that go with that , but leave enough incentive to drive human economy.
I dare say it would also fix democratic elections if there were the big donors and financial interests were not able to undermine the process. Perhaps the fact that the well off are best able to influence our elections is better for society. Intuitively that sounds wrong, but the history of collectivism is not great. Our current system, for all its faults, has worked better than most systems in history. I prefer liberty. Go figure.
Those are good ideas, but we must also: 1.
Isolate elections, politicians, mass media and judiciary from economic power; 2. Redesign the checks and balances of our Constitution which do not work; 3.