In this five-part series, I want to detail why people oppose individualism. Furthermore, I want to offer words of wisdom to help individuals remain inspired in an anti-individual world.
What Is Individualism?
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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 in libertarianism, minarchism, and anarcho-capitalism. Economically, it is expressed through capitalism.
As a personal philosophy, individualism is about self-improvement through the rigorous pursuit of virtue. The uncompromising pursuit of virtue helps individuals improve their lives by overcoming their vices, doing good, and accomplishing their goals.
Furthermore, individualism is essential to your life and the betterment of society. Why? Because we cannot have a beautiful forest with dead trees. Similarly, individuals make up society. If individuals are neurotic, scared, and broken, then the community will fail. We can only have a functioning society if the individuals within the community are stable, prosperous, and secure. There is no moral, permanent, or practical top-down approach to improving individuals. You can only enhance individuals by focusing on their needs first, then spreading outward.
Why Do People Oppose Individualism?
Primarily, individualism gives individuals the power they need to define their lives and achieve greatness:
- People who have rational pride will not mindlessly consume crappy products from corporations.
- People who live a virtuous life will need less moral guidance from flawed religious institutions.
- Lastly, people who are confident, capable, and emotionally stable will not look to the government for solutions.
Once individuals embrace individualism, more and more people will break free from their vices. Freer people means less power for the ruling classes. Thus, power-hungry manipulators oppose individualism and similar philosophies which empower individuals.
Therefore, opposition to individualism takes three forms: merit, competition, and choice. These three pillars help define individualism and separate it from anti-life philosophies such as collectivism.
Today, we’re going to cover each pillar. Through the coming weeks, we will dive further into collectivists’ opposition to individualism.
The Importance of Merit
Merit is the quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially to deserve praise or reward. With individualism, we do not admire individuals for their unchosen attributes. Instead, we respect individuals for their virtues, their actions, and their beliefs. In short, we commend them for what they chose, not for what is forced upon them.
Collectivists prefer systems of values where merit does not matter. They prefer affirmative action or quotas instead of hard work and virtue. Weak individuals recognize a meritocracy rewards competence and virtue. They also understand they are neither virtuous nor competent.
Remember, virtue and competence can be earned. You just have to work. Collectivists do not like to work. They prefer the arbitrary and irrelevant because they can easily dominate in these environments. Thus, they oppose the idea that people can improve and that individual will, virtue, and self-control drives such improvement.
The Importance of Competition
“To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.” – C.G. Jung
Competition is a contest or rivalry between two or more entities for a valued resource. To compete effectively, an individual or organization has to improve themselves while shedding their weaknesses. The more productive you are at a competition, the more resources you can gather and earn.
When you compete, you give everything you have to receive something of value, whether it be love, money, new clients, and so on. You can win these items and people if you prove you have the ability to earn them. For example, you cannot win the heart of a lover if you aren’t more attractive than the alternatives.
Therefore, collectivists hate competition because they prefer receiving benefits without having to earn those benefits. They want money from others without having to obtain resources through work, thrift, and honesty. Thus, collectivists oppose competition and call it “exploitative.” Of course, they do not oppose competition when it used to serve their needs.
The Importance of Choice
Choice is the capacity to utilize your actions, values, and volition to pursue a goal or to make a decision. Choice presupposes value – if you chose one thing over another, you implicitly state which you view to be more important. Additionally, choice requires the exercise of independent thought. There is no “collective” choice. Individuals chose, even in a vote.
Collectivists, such as relativists, do not like choice because they dislike the idea of objective value. Furthermore, they do not like the exercise of independent thought. Independence in individuals means less power for collectivists.
Lastly, weak individuals do not like free will because they prefer not to be judged for their lack of value, purpose, and virtue. Thus, they oppose choice. They believe values should never be chosen, or worse, there is no such thing as value. In a world without values, individuals cannot be their best selves. In such a world, collectivists can reign supreme.
Collectivists Do Not Want To Fight Or Let You Be Free
“A fair and just society offers equality of opportunity to all. But it cannot promise, and should not try to enforce, sameness.” – Christina Hoff Sommers
Individualism is based on hard work, honesty, merit, virtue, competition, choice, and independence. Therefore, people despise individualism because they wish to control the actions and resources of others. Collectivists believe the time, energy, and resources of individuals should be decided by the masses and those in control of the masses. However, collectivism has only ensured the death of innocents, as seen in Stalin’s Soviet Russia, Mao’s China, and Hitler’s Germany.
Individualism is a crucial aspect of living a better life. Without individualism, it’s hard for a person to become their best self.
Next week, we are going to talk about merit. What is it? Why is it important? Why do collectivists oppose merit and the idea of a meritocracy?
- Do you believe in a meritocracy? Are you always working to earn what you have?
- Do you believe some people are rewarded, even when they don’t put in the work? Why do you think this happens? How do you feel about it? What can you do to prevent unearned accolades?
- Who do you compete with? Do you compete with yourself? Are you always looking to be better than your past self?
- Do you make moral choices that serve your long-term happiness? What kind of decisions do you make, and why do you make them?
Please remember that 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.
*Image credit to Unsplash.