• NOS4A2
    6.2k
    “There is no, nor should there be, irreconcilable contrast between the individual and the collective, between the interests of the individual person and the interests of the collective. There should be no such contrast, because collectivism, socialism, does not deny, but combines individual interests with the interests of the collective. Socialism cannot abstract itself from individual interests. Socialist society alone can most fully satisfy these personal interests. More than that; socialist society alone can firmly safeguard the interests of the individual. In this sense there is no irreconcilable contrast between "individualism" and socialism. But can we deny the contrast between classes, between the propertied class, the capitalist class, and the toiling class, the proletarian class?”

    Stalin in conversation with Wells

    I am terrible at collectivism, methodologically and in practice. Whether by nature or nurture I lack the necessary neural connections required to see the world as the activity of groups, nations, races, classes, or communities as Stalin did, so giving any priority to these over flesh-and-blood human beings is an impossible task for me.

    To be fair, it’s probably impossible for everyone, even Stalin. The elemental physics and biology of it all doesn’t much support a collectivist outlook. The existence of any collective can be seriously questioned, like the existence of universals. One cannot describe a collective’s place or state or form well enough to find it, point to it, let alone to subordinate himself or others to its interests. What does it signify? To whom does it apply?

    Could Stalin draw a line around what he values here to prove he values something other than his own mental furniture? The collective—the nation, the class, the race, the community—is an abstraction at best, a hasty generalization at worse. Whatever purpose they serve, these ideas are invariably products of his own mind, somehow held in higher regard than the actual flesh-and-blood human beings whom they may or may not signify. Granted, it’s easier to disregard what distinguishes human beings from one another, and conceive of them only in terms of whatever superficial features they appear to share (perhaps mental convenience is why collectivism is suited to a man such as Stalin), but we’ve seen the effects of their application to the real world and it hardly turns out so well.

    In other words, Stalin can only draw a circle on his forehead. He can only value himself and the products of his own mind. In the sense that collectivism is concerned with abstractions, and suggesting that each and every person should be subordinate to them, might collectivism turn out to be a pernicious form of egoism?

    At any rate, and in effect, it always turns out that the “interests of the collective” are only the interests of a portion of the collective, usually those individuals with the power and prestige to act as the mind and mouth of the people they feign to speak for. Other portions, those not of the ruling portion, are subordinate to them. Other portions still, those who dissent or fall into an enemy class, are imprisoned, enslaved, or worse. So much for the collective.
  • Benkei
    5.9k
    Nice attempt at trolling. How about you quote some respected collectivist or communitarian thinker instead of trying to maneuver respondents to defend Stalin?
  • NOS4A2
    6.2k


    I’m not sure why someone would defend Stalin. It’s difficult to find a favorable quote about collectivism, I’m afraid.
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    This all gets much easier when you understand societies are organised by the win-win dynamic of competition~cooperation. As democratic theory tries to make clear, the collective system has the aim of balancing individual local freedom against global social constraint. And to do this effectively, it has to strike this balance over all scales of the social collective.

    A mature society is thus a competition of interest groups or social institutions. As an individual, you will sense the balance change as you move between spheres of influence. In your own home, you have the most freedom. At the most abstract levels of social institution - in court, in parliament, in church - they are places where you then feel the most constrained by the "collective will".

    It is just nature doing it things. Evolving a rational hierarchical order. Except that now it is humans having a hand in the design of the general political/economic system. And that is where it all starts to go off the road when folk pretend that a hierarchically organised system of competition~cooperation doesn't need to apply to them. Or their family. Or their otherwise defined in-group.

    The elemental physics and biology of it all doesn’t much support a collectivist outlook.NOS4A2

    So in fact the elemental physics and biology does say nature has its particular evolutionary order. It is not a secret to anyone familiar with social science.

    Communism was a failed dream as it didn't implement the right model. It failed to appreciate the importance of free institution building at every level of society. A democracy constituted of interest groups is just a more robust way of developing an intelligent balance of competition and cooperation in a society.

    Of course democracies are running into their own inverse problem of fetishising the atomistic individual.

    Look for states that are proud of being social democracies. They get the "collective of interest groups" balance that is the Hegelian ideal.
  • Agent Smith
    7.5k
    Humans are both strongly individualistic and also highly collectivistic. The point to this is rather simple - amplify the pros and dilute the cons of both. Like some lucky folks routinely manage, we gotta aim for the best of both worlds.

    A pro tip: Any ideology that fails to take into account human (evolutionary) psychology & biology is going end up a magnificent failure!
  • Pie
    1k


    I had some fun with Stirner once too, but the whole thing comes apart in the end, with the self just as much of a spook as 'the collective' (or, better, we recognize the interdependence of the concepts of self and community.)
  • Pie
    1k
    Humans are both strongly individualistic and also highly collectivistic. The point to this is rather simple - amplify the pros and dilute the cons of both.Agent Smith

    :up:
  • Pie
    1k
    How about you quote some respected collectivist or communitarian thinker instead of trying to maneuver respondents to defend Stalin?Benkei

    Well said. I grow tired. I think this troll is broken.
  • Benkei
    5.9k
    Try Rawls, Hobbes, Rousseau.
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    Any ideology that fails to take into account human (evolutionary) psychology & biology is going end up a magnificent failure!Agent Smith

    Attempting to turn people into worshippers of an ideology, which is what every ideology-based society tries to do, is a flawed endeavor to begin with. People and their ideas are flawed, and that goes double (nay triple) for governments.

    The least flawed societies we have come up with are those that attempt to make these flawed people able to do the least amount of damage to each other, including and especially those who run the government.
  • Agent Smith
    7.5k
    On target! It isn't that we have the luxury of maximizing gains, it's that we're tasked with minimizing losses. Like some might want to share - there are no sages, there are only different kinds of fools.
  • DA671
    625
    When it comes to the positives (fulfilment), the more you reduce your losses, the more you gain (because loss requires having the good in the first place and so, by cutting your losses, you regain more good). The negatives and positives exist on the same spectrum. When one moves away from one pole, they also move towards another. Even the most foolish person could know something right.
  • Agent Smith
    7.5k
    Philosophy, it just dawned on me, is an homage to and an attempt to tackle ignorance.

    I neither know, nor think I know. — Socrates (the father of Western philosophy)

    No one is wiser than Socrates. — Oracle of Delphi

    Our struggle...with darkness...has been a long and hard one.
  • javi2541997
    2.2k
    No one is wiser than Socrates. — Oracle of Delphi

    She was right.
  • DA671
    625
    Tackle ignorance in order to gain knowledge. However, all of us start with knowing (or at least thinking that we know) something.

    Your eloquence is a sign that the struggle has not been in vain. The light remains resilient.
  • DA671
    625
    :heart: :pray:
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    :fire:


    Try Rawls, Hobbes, Rousseau.Benkei
    & D. Schweickart, R. Dahl, M. Bookchin ...

    Not just "ignorance" (inexperienced? uneducated? the illusion of knowledge?) ...
    ... philosophy [is] about folly (i.e. being unwise) – how to reduce foolery, how to unlearn foolish habits.180 Proof
  • Michael
    11.8k
    Try Rawls, Hobbes, Rousseau.Benkei

    Perhaps:

    Thus I shall always use the difference principle in the simpler form, and so the outcome of the last several sections is that the second principle reads as follows:

    Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest expected benefit of the least advantaged and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.

    ...

    The difference principle represents, in effect, an agreement to regard the distribution of natural talents as in some respects a common asset and to share in the greater social and economic benefits made possible by the complementarities of this distribution. Those who have been favored by nature, whoever they are, may gain from their good fortune only on terms that improve the situation of those who have lost out. The naturally advantaged are not to gain merely because they are more gifted, but only to cover the costs of training and education and for using their endowments in ways that help the less fortunate as well. No one deserves his greater natural capacity nor merits a more favorable starting place in society. But, of course, this is no reason to ignore, much less to eliminate these distinctions. Instead, the basic structure can be arranged so that these contingencies work for the good of the least fortunate. Thus we are led to the difference principle if we wish to set up the social system so that no one gains or loses from his arbitrary place in the distribution of natural assets or his initial position in society without giving or receiving compensating advantages in return.
    — Rawls, A Theory of Justice
  • Agent Smith
    7.5k
    Yep, the smartest person in the room is the one who is least dumbest! There are no sages, only lesser fools!
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    There are no sages, only lesser fools!Agent Smith
    :fire:
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    That despite having been tried and having produced by far the worst track record of any system in human history, collectivism still is supported shamelessly is truly a testament to mankind's ignorance.

    The problem with collectivism is simple. It is the outright subjugation of the individual to the ideology of the state, and amounts to nothing less than slavery. And before anyone goes there, a slave who wears a fancy suit and is given priviledges by his slave owner is still a slave.

    Every collectivist state pursues totalitarianism (whether explicitly, or by ignorance), and vilifies those who do not go along with their ideology. For the Third Reich it was the Jews that needed to be socialized. The USSR needed to sociailze the bourgoeisie.

    Today it is man who the collectivists need socialized.

    Man, with all his unfortunate ideas of individual freedom and rights.

    Man, who by his unfortunate free will fails to fall into lockstep with the ideals of the state.

    And their eagerness to forcefully subjugate those whom their arguments fail to persuade is evident. It took the western nations and institutions that are now openly flirting with tyranny hardly a year to turn from the world's leading proponents of individual liberty and justice, to states who took steps towards lawlessly socializing those who opposed them. Every excuse was grasped, every legislative loophole exploited, every repressive tool in the governmental toolkit utilized towards this end.

    However, these aspiring Hitlerites also failed to see that their malpractices went unnoticed in the past precisely because they did not overtly display their power. The reason modern day tyranny may exist at all,(and precisely why it is so dangerous) is because it has become increasingly well adapted at hiding itself in the shadows. Deep inside institutions, lobby groups, academia and extrajudicial bodies.

    Now the ugly beast has crawled out of its cave and showed the world its true face (not in the least because its rotten societal fruits could no longer be ignored either). And like all things vile and despicable, it does not withstand the light very well.
  • Baden
    13.5k


    “The greatest trick the collective ever pulled was making you think it’s not you”

    McStalin

    Biology > Hey, my body is different to yours (yay!/we're all “individual” an’ shit)
    Society > But other people’s bodies control my body (scary collective voodoo!/my hormones have a mind of their own!)
    Language > And wait a second, where’d I get these words from? (scary collective voodoo!/my thoughts have a mind of their own!)

    Biology/Society/Language = Your shit sandwich, aka Individual sans scare quotes aka subject.

    Biology = e.g. Fruit Flies (true individuals (yay!))
    Biology/Society = e.g. Ants (no, no, commooooonism!!!!)
    Biology/Society/Language = People (individual expressions of the collective that can consider themselves “individuals”)

    Political aspirations to a fruit fly state of being are belied by the sociolinguistic construction of the subject from those lumps of squealing flesh we call babies to those lumps of conflicted flesh we call persons.

    You can’t even want to be “free” unless the "collective" allows you to so want. And when “freedom” becomes an ideology that puts itself in conflict with forms of social organisation that work well on the basis that they're not ”individual” enough then the collective's got you and your buddies by the balls and you’re collectively singin’ its tune.

    But yeah, @”apokrisis” is right.
  • Yohan
    656
    For me it boils down to leadership.
    We all gotta play three roles. Leader of our self, follower, and leader of others.

    First rule is you gotta be the leader of yourself. Otherwise you cant be a good follower/student or leader/teacher of others

    If you aren't leading yourself, then when you follow it will be blind obedience, and so you won't learn or grow, and may end up following the wrong kind of person or philosophy.
    And when you lead it will be tyranny, or the blind leading the blind. (People who lack personal power seek power over others)

    Lastly, in my opinion, the golden rule of leadership: (In this case I mean being a leader of a mass of people, rather than say, for example, being head of your household)...and I mean, the golden rule of how to spot a good aspiring leader from a bad one:

    Only a reluctant leader ever makes a decent leader.

    With leadership comes great responsibility. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Nobody would want to be a leader for personal reasons, unless those reasons are self-glorification and lust for power and privilege. The only valid reason to become a leader is the recognition that there is nobody better to fit the need. A good leader is always doing it as a sacrifice.
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    Let's suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages, which they certainly were not. ... What was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal?

    - Ayn Rand

    Yeah, this “individualist” thinking never really appealed to me. Not in my genes. I just can’t view people as “primitive savages.” I guess it appeals to some.
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    That despite having been tried and having produced by far the worst track record of any system in human history,Tzeentch

    No, that would be capitalism. Brutal, inhumane, and reducing everyone and every thing to capital.

    If we go beyond Fox News talking points about Stalin, Mao, and Castro, the reality isn’t so simple.

    The problem with collectivism is simple. It is the outright subjugation of the individual to the ideology of the stateTzeentch

    You can have a collective without a state.
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    No, that would be capitalism. Brutal, inhumane, and reducing everyone and every thing to capital.Xtrix

    Sure, capitalism is far from perfect, but at least a successful capitalist has to produce something others want to buy, which is why its many evils also went along with many goods - history's collectivist projects cannot say the same.

    You can have a collective without a state.Xtrix

    Two people can form a collective, technically. Though I understand collectivism to be a term to describe state policies (and in recent times also supranational organisations), and collectivist states to be states that act with collectivism as their goal.

    But if one wishes to practice collectivism in a sort of hippie commune where everybody engages with each other on voluntary grounds, then who am I to oppose that?
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    No one is wiser than Socrates. — Oracle of Delphi

    Socrates' response:

    a) He tells a story of how he set out to refute the oracle (21c)

    b) He changes what the oracle said from no one is wiser than Socrates to "... you declared that I was the wisest ."(21c)

    The oracle did not declate that he was the wisest.
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    Sure, capitalism is far from perfect, but at least a successful capitalist has to produce something others want to buyTzeentch

    Nonsense. In fact the entire advertising industry operates on the complete opposite goal: create desires for things not needed.

    which is why its many evils also went along with many goods - history's collectivist projects cannot say the same.Tzeentch

    They can’t? China seems to be doing just fine. The Soviets deceased poverty and starvation.

    Sure, if we start with the assumption that “collectivism” (whatever that means) only produces evil, that’s what you’ll see. Or you’ll assign all evils to it— as many do with “governments.”

    Though I understand collectivism to be a term to describe state policies (and in recent times also supranational organisations), and collectivist states to be states that act with collectivism as their goal.Tzeentch

    A strange definition of collectivism, but OK.
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    In fact the entire advertising industry operates on the complete opposite goal: create desires for things not needed.Xtrix

    Ah, one styles themselves the arbiter of who needs what. Spoken like a true 'collectivist'.

    They can’t? China seems to be doing just fine.Xtrix

    China is an autocratic dictatorship. A big mess of repression, surveillance, authoritarianism, genocide, etc.

    Please don't use China as an example for successful collectivism. It's a powerful state. So were Nazi-Germany and the USSR. Were they successful collectivists by your standards?

    A strange definition of collectivism, but OK.Xtrix

    That was not a definition, obviously. :roll:
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