Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Individualist Collectivism

If people need to belong to a group, they will group together. Are there instances where someone or something will prevent them? False consciousness? Free rider? Stupidity?

Manipulators can use group dynamics to control others. A knee-jerk individualist responds to this idea by seeking an end to group dynamics, denouncing collectivism, fighting it head on. Perhaps a wiser tactician would use judo, turn the force of the opponent to a different purpose. That is, the individualist should seek a way to use group loyalty and feelings of belonging to resist manipulation and strengthen the status of individual rights.

What would a human superorganism look like, a family, a club, a corporation,  a labor union, the boy scouts, AA, a cult, a tribe?

Can capitalism itself be seen as a superorganism? If so, its immune system stinks.

"Pure" collectivism focuses on the state because it's big and powerful. But the scale is all wrong. People do not find it easy to group together to control cheaters, in fact the cheaters tend to rise. Oppression emerges.

"Pure" individualism also fails to control cheaters and satisfy our groupish instincts.

We can't escape our dual nature, part chimp, part bee (to steal from Haidt). So we need to embrace it somehow. How?

No one embraces the straw man version of the atomistic individualist. Is the straw man collectivist any more real? In my version of the straw man, a collectivist sacrifices the rights of individuals for the benefit of the collective. Whoever gets to define the collective good gains power at the expense of others, by disregarding the rights or opinions of others. But this is arbitrary. To harm a part of the superorganism is to harm the whole, isn't it? No human scale surgeon knows how to treat the diseased tissues of the superorganism. So a real collectivist must take care in disregarding individuals, and we can believe that pure individualism provides one possible answer to the question of what benefits the collective most.

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