Goal: Navigating Personal Power in a Collectivist World
We live in a world increasingly driven by collective norms and societal pressures. We are told to fall in line with ever-expanding government power. We are manipulated into defending every deviant lifestyle and sexual choice. And we are mocked for refusing to believe the lies and promoting the vices of our fellow citizens.
Collectivism reigns supreme. The individual seemingly has little power in a world of cancel culture, government overreach, and corporate distractions.
But the individual always has a choice. Through individualism, you can gain the power you need to make the best life choices despite the implosion of current-day politics and beliefs. In exploring the individualism versus collectivism debate, we will uncover how individualism not only fosters personal responsibility and ethical living but also stands as a formidable answer to the flaws and failures of collectivist ideology. Through this exploration, I aim to empower you to reclaim your individuality, make informed choices, and build a life that resonates with your truest self.
Table of Contents
- What Is Individualism?
- What Is Power?
- Individualism Versus Collectivism
- The Rationality of Individualism
- Collectivism Robs You Of Power
- Free Will Means Responsibility
- Local Power Is Most Effective
- Individualism as a Solution To Collectivist Dysfunction
- An Example of Individualism Granting You More Power
- The Path to Self-Mastery: Reclaiming Power Through Individualism
What Is Individualism?
Individualism is a social theory that values the individual above the needs, wants, and desires of the collective and the state. Politically, it is expressed through libertarianism, minarchism, and anarcho-capitalism. Economically, it is expressed through capitalism.
Individualism is a personal philosophy about self-improvement through the rigorous pursuit of virtue. The uncompromising pursuit of virtue helps individuals improve their lives by overcoming their vices, helping their community, and accomplishing their goals.
What Is Power?
Power is “the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.” In this context, power covers your resources to influence your life or others.
Therefore, money, time, and energy are all power sources because you can use these tools to improve your well-being or help others achieve their virtuous ends. Of course, social influence, political authority, and other external realities play a role in “power.”
But ultimately, your power rests in the skills you develop, how you manage your time, how and where you spend your money, what you direct your energies toward, and who you decide to surround yourself with.
Individualism teaches you how to utilize and expand your personal power so you can achieve your virtuous ends. Collectivism’s purpose is to usurp your power to feed the whims and vices of the collective.
Individualism Versus Collectivism
At the heart of the differences between individualism and collectivism is the individual. Collectivists do not see the individual as a singular unit that should be respected, protected, and cherished. The collectivist considers the individual as simply a cog in the machine, something to be thrown in, ground down, and used for the pleasures and well-being of others.
Although individualism is far from perfect, and I’ve spoken extensively about its pitfalls, it is still better than the alternatives. Additionally, individualism promotes the good by ensuring individuals pursue personal responsibility and virtue. If you are an individualist, you live a life restrained not by your vices but by virtue ethics. Being restricted by what is good benefits the individual and society.
Of course, history shows the damage collectivism does to a civilization. The contest between which is best, on a practical level, has been conceded. Individualism proves itself, time and again, to be a humane, productive way of structuring society.
The Rationality of Individualism
Additionally, individualism provides ample rationality and logical arguments for why you ought to be responsible for yourself. Individualism starts with the axiomatic reality that you own yourself. Because you own yourself, you should treat yourself well as you are the only one who can execute the dreams and desires you are in the best position to understand.
Let’s say you want to be physically fit. No one else can do the exercises for you. Others can help you plan meals, create a great workout routine, and even schedule your day. But you have to lift the weight or go on the run. You cannot externalize the effort required.
This reality also plays into power. External influences can provide resources to you, say in the case of welfare. However, the welfare recipient doesn’t have the discipline, skills, and communal connections needed to expand the wealth he has received. He depends on the government for his resources and lacks the power necessary to expand what he has. If the government withdraws resources, the man is left destitute because he cannot gather the necessary resources.
Collectivism Robs You Of Power
In degenerate and addictive ways, others can provide you. People can give you money so you can buy things to consume and enjoy. But no amount of money will replace the need to try and pursue and fail. Humans are wired to pursue what is meaningful, and individualism provides rationality for suffering even as you pursue what matters.
I argue personal responsibility is crucial to individuals’ success and positive development. Power exists, and power is best utilized locally by those most affected by its misuse. We also have free will, and this free will does not magically go away when we embrace specific identities or ideologies.
Local Power Is Most Effective
Power will always exist; keeping it as local as possible is wise. When the individual looks at his influence over his life, he can see opportunities for positive and productive change. If he has money, time, or energy, he has the power and the resources to direct at accomplishing his goals.
When power is externalized and given to others, such as the Church or the state, the individual loses his influence. For the sake of argument, such externalization is not always a negative. However, the less prudent the individual is with the power he recedes, the more trouble he will find himself in.
For example, when the individual gives the power over his moral understanding to the Church, he is at the mercy of the Church. He has to accept tenants he might not readily agree with or have his actions restricted for the sake of the “greater good.” Additionally, he may have to run a defense for abuses committed by church leaders. He may gain much from the exchange, but the more he relents, the greater the chance for abuse.
An individual who is foolish with his power will seek to externalize as much thinking as possible to other forces. Such a lifestyle is not productive and will only lead to that individual’s failures.
Individualism as a Solution To Collectivist Power Grabs
Personal responsibility frees you to live your best life on the virtuous terms you set. Therefore, collectivism is focused on undermining these two realities. By undermining your responsibility and power, the collectivist succeeds in enslaving you to your vices, the ruling classes, the elites, and the mob.
Dependency on others creates a limit on personal growth and freedom. If we cannot grow in the direction we choose, we are less likely to accomplish the goals and dreams we set for ourselves.
Virtue is universal. Individualism adheres to virtue ethics, pushing individualism away from the twin devils of nihilism and hedonism. However, this pursuit of virtue does not restrict the individual from pursuing his virtuous ends. Virtue ethics restrict his excesses, protecting him and others from his flaws and demons.
An Example of Individualism Granting You More Power
But you make your most virtuous self the standard; you are not bound by ever-changing laws or leaders’ corruption. For example, the government wishes to make you dependent on it by undermining the currency. An individualist approach would be to focus on disciplining yourself by spending less and finding ways to expand your earning potential. This process frees you from inflation. Instead of complaining to the government to fix a problem it caused, you are focused on delivering a solution to resolve your issue. And this is because you viewed this external problem as something you needed to resolve through your power.
The collectivist approach is to vote for a different politician. You are to campaign and demand change. When the government continues to make poor choices, you have to “follow the experts” and suck it up. Your time is dedicated to supporting the state and demanding a solution from them, so you have less time to improve your well-being.
Therefore, individualism becomes the only meaningful solution to the struggles of the external world.
The Path to Self-Mastery: Reclaiming Power Through Individualism
One of the odd things I love about individualism is as much as it expands, I do not gain power. You can follow everything I’ve laid out in this blog, and I gain little to no power over you. Do I now own the money you’ve saved through budgeting or the muscles you’ve earned through exercise? Are your healthy relationships now mine and mine alone? Do I get to dictate the virtuous ends you have determined for yourself?
Of course not. I can’t even shame you into anything or manipulate you with threats of damnation.
The power is returned to you. Through individualism, you grow in influence and competence. Such things make you more challenging to control and subjugate.
Personal success is terrifying. But you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your life will improve when you own yourself, overcome your vices, and embrace virtue.
The collectivists do not want you free. They need you enslaved, small-minded, and terrified. What else could they desire?
Reject them and Become an Individual.
- Personal choices and self-reliance – Take the time to analyze the choices you’ve made recently. Were they good choices? Did they improve your life by making you happier, more virtuous, and more fruitful? Are you proud of these actions? Have these actions made you more self-reliant and less dependent on negative things such as vice to regulate your emotions?
- First steps to increase your personal power – The first step on the path of personal power is to acknowledge the lies you were told. Reflect on the half-truths you were given as a child about how government works or the importance of the collective. Think deeply about these things, not as a way of attacking others, but as a way of shifting your mindset from externalizing power to internalizing it.
- Work within virtue – Reflect on the virtues. Think deeply about each of them and what they represent. How can you change your daily behaviors to embody the 13 virtues I’ve outlined?
- Set Your Personal Goals: Define your own specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to chart your path toward personal success.
- Develop a New Skill: Identify a skill you’ve always wanted to learn or improve upon and take active steps to develop it. This will enhance your self-sufficiency and personal mastery.
- Engage in Critical Thinking: Analyze current events or everyday situations from an individualist perspective to sharpen your critical thinking skills and apply individualist principles practically.
- Reflect on Your Influences: Take time to reflect on how various influences in your life, like media, peers, and family, align with your individualist values. This will help you maintain independence of thought.
- Participate in Your Community: Get involved in community activities or volunteer work. This will help you understand and contribute to the community while upholding your individualist values.
- Plan Your Finances: Develop a budget, learn about investments, or start planning for your retirement. Financial independence is a crucial aspect of exercising personal autonomy.
- Create a Health and Wellness Plan: Draft a comprehensive plan for your physical, mental, and emotional health. This emphasizes the importance of self-care and personal responsibility for your well-being.
- Journal or Blog Regularly: Start journaling or blogging to document your journey of personal growth. This practice aids in self-reflection and expression of your individualist journey.
- Build and Nurture Relationships: Focus on creating and maintaining beneficial and harmonious relationships with your individualistic principles.
- Engage with Ethical Dilemmas: Challenge yourself with ethical dilemmas to apply virtue ethics in complex situations, deepening your understanding of individualist ethics in action.
- Analyze Your Time Management: Reflect on how you currently spend your time and how you can better align it with your individualist goals and values.
- Read and Reflect on Individualist Literature: Immerse yourself in books or articles about individualism and consider how their teachings can be integrated into your life. I would start with Ayn Rand.
Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
Refer to the linked articles and studies throughout this post for detailed evidence and case studies supporting these views.
*Image credit to Unsplash