Individual Rights: Essential to a Free Society

CIMG4967

As of today, all of the fruits of your labor will be donated to the state. Your occupation, based off of personality tests, will be lawn engineering. Your job is to make sure that the landscape in your town looks perfect. We know you have wanted to pursue a career in computer engineering (based off of the phone conversations we’ve been listening to your entire life), but the community needs landscapers. That sounds like an awful collectivist world where individual rights are not held to the highest esteem. Why does it seem so creepy when others make these types of decisions for us? We are all individual beings, and when we are forced to be a part of a collective**, our individual souls suffer; we are not allowed to find who we really are because our bodies do not belong to us.

One thing that we all have in common is inalienable human rights which were defined under the United States Constitution to organize a society which was just being born. This was the first time in history that the rights of the citizens were defined in a government document, and that is the reason why it has been used as an example for constitutions around the world. There have been countless debates over the years as to what type of society a human should live in. We are a social species who thrives off of fellow human contact, but we are also a species who needs to spend time by ourselves. Every single one of us is different, and all different types of people have been trying to figure out how we can all live in harmony on this earth together. When those rights have been regulated by an imposing collective, the individual becomes confused and agitated: Why do I have to be a landscaper instead of a computer engineer? Your parents will tell you, “That’s just the way it is, and you should be proud to be a part of bettering the community.” This conflicting environment creates in the individual what is called cognitive dissonance.

Chances are, after your parents and others in the community congratulate and praise you for being the town’s newest landscaper, you’re probably thinking, “Well, landscaping can’t be so bad. I’ve always loved mowing the lawn.” At this point, you are creating the illusion that you have always loved mowing the lawn, and you helped your dad put in some sprinklers and a pond one time and you loved it. Pretty soon, you forget all about being a computer engineer because landscaping is your life. This is what Leon Festinger (1957) calls cognitive dissonance: a situation where the individual believes one thing but acts a different way, which results in discomfort. This discomfort is relieved by changing one’s attitudes or beliefs around the conflicting behavior, and the result is an unhappy being. The collective forces this type of compliance onto the individual, and eventually it spreads to all individuals and makes a population unhappy.

When you have an unhappy but obedient collective, the individual is suffering, and when the individual suffers, he will try to overcome this suffering by means he has learned throughout his life. Some things individuals do to cope with suffering is relieving the stress that is caused by it. We know positive ways to relieve stress, but the negative ways seem to be increasing across the nation, and sometimes that stress can kill us. According to the CDC, suicide has made it to the top ten leading causes of death in the country at more than 38,000 deaths in 2010. According to suicide.org, untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide, and depression amongst the population has leaped significantly since the Great Recession of 2008. Americans were hit with home foreclosures, loss of money in the stocks, loss of their jobs, and an out of control government bailing out the banks and corporations that caused the meltdown in the first place. It seemed that during that time, a lot of Americans lost hope, and according to Forbes.com, the U.S. leads the world in depression rates at a total of 9.6% of the population suffering. Compare that to a .8% depression rate in Nigeria, and you have yourself a huge problem. A lot of this depression stems from Americans feeling like they will never get to live the American dream because most of their money gets taken from the government in taxes and they cannot find a job.

When you have collective control over the economy, unemployment rises. Why? Because the key to a collectivist society is getting the individual to depend on the collective. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  as of January 1st, 2014, almost 5 million Americans are collecting unemployment, 13 million are on welfare, and a whopping 46 million use food stamps. Not including unemployment and food stamps, the federal government uses $131.9 billion of tax payers’ money to pay for these “benefits.” These costs do not even compare to how much tax payers are going to pay for those 60 million non-workers’ healthcare. How is the already stretched and depressed tax payer going to afford that? The answer is that a lot of us can’t afford to without thinking about turning to welfare to help us get by. If this doesn’t constitute as a collectivist-leaning society, I don’t know what would.

Although all of this sounds bleak in comparison to our ancestors’ America of roads paved in gold, we still have a chance to turn our country around to cater to the individual like we once did before. We must stay vigilant in holding our representatives responsible for what they legislate and always stand up for the underdog. We must question the official narrative of everything because it is our duty to keep our government in check, and as long as we keep on asking questions, we will find answers. The Millennial generation grew up with promises of going to college, getting a degree, getting a part time job, meeting our soul mate, getting married, having kids, and retiring at 65. As long as you follow the program, you will succeed, just like your parents did. Now we are finding that these promises were never true, that we have to find our own way that wasn’t promised to us, and that we may have to work until we die. As long as we stay active and voice our opinion, our generation will be the one that leads future generations into getting back to the America with “roads paved in gold,” where the individual soars, and the government stays out of the way.

** If an individual chooses to be a part of a collective, that is different. If we are born into a collective, we did not get to choose.

Advertisements

82 Comments

Filed under Essay Present

82 responses to “Individual Rights: Essential to a Free Society

  1. Very interesting and well written!

  2. The last line summed up your piece well. It, and the rest of your piece, ask the question: “What is more important to you economic, individual freedom or economic and individual equality, and what price are you willing to pay to see that those desires come true?”

    A pro-economic equality, pro-ACA friend of mine stated that doctors should want to help people. They shouldn’t be so greedy. I said that the allure of money is what makes a young individual choose to endure the 12 years of schooling, endless loans, and the byproduct that their lives, as they know it, will be over, as they have to put in 12-15 hour days. Who would want to go through all that if they weren’t properly compensated for it? The fact that they actually help people is a beautiful byproduct that gives them some fulfillment with the thought that they made the right career choice, and all of that sacrifice was worth it.

    The idea that money is the root of all evil actually says more about the person than the money in other words.

    As for your interesting comparison between depression rates of America versus Nigeria, perhaps this disparity is caused by the fact that Nigerians are successfully ripping off Americans, with their internet scams, to a point where they don’t have to work, and this makes them happy and it depresses Americans.

    I really enjoyed your article, and I think you’re one hell of a good writer.

    • CassandraRoseArthur

      It is relieving to hear that someone understands the angle I was going for in that essay, so thank you for that! It is hard to explain complex economic theories without raising seemingly benign subjects.

      Doctors, just like any other professional, should go into the field because they are passionate about it. The passion shines through and will inevitably land you in the right spot. What are you to do if you can’t follow your passion due to collective responsibility? Follow the program and be depressed?

      Perhaps Nigeria’s depression rate is just because depression is not widely “diagnosed” there. Either way, there’s still a lot of percentage difference there.

      • As you well know Cassandra, you are not alone in your concern that it is difficult to explain economic theories without raising seemingly benign subjects. It is also difficult, for me anyway, to explain complex economic theories in a succinct manner that drives a point home. If it were easy, I dare say that we wouldn’t be in the position we are in today. Far more talented people than us have as much difficulty either understanding it, or they know it doesn’t play well to the masses. It is far easier to play to the heart than it is the mind.

        One extension that I see in your line “our bodies do not belong to us” can be found in our children. Do our children “belong to us” in a manner that we (parents) can still dictate how they are molded? The answer to the question is still yes, to some degree, but how much of that degree has changed in the last forty to fifty years, and how much will it change in the next forty to fifty?

        The problem that I have with your eloquent article is that it should be so obvious. We should know that it is our job to hold our legislators accountable, and that our individual freedom is always on the line. We should know that we put these legislators in their positions, and they are accountable to us, but we end up believing that they know what’s better for us, because they are “the best and brightest of our society” until we end up a lawn engineer that hates the life that has been created for us. We take so many of these rights for granted that they’re easily taken away from us.

  3. Cassandra,
    Nice. I’m looking forward to more. At another site where I’m a participant someone started a “Libertarianism” thread, then disappeared. I was looking forward to the discussion. So I’m glad to find someone here at WordPress. I was interested in Libertarianism a long time ago, studied Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick. So I’m rusty but…
    ..
    One thing that gave me pause was the way Libertarians seemed to equate collectivism with evil, almost as if they were the same. You don’t seem to be saying that. After all, if a collectivism that someone chooses is acceptable, then collectivism cannot be *intrinsically* evil. Or did I misread you?

    Paul

    • CassandraRoseArthur

      You are correct, Paul. The ideal of collectivism is not new to the world because we have been practicing it for thousands of years. I believe the perceived morality in collectivism comes from an inherently ideological thought that everyone is entitled to their “fair” share. As long as everyone has their “fair” share, they will be happy. But where does happiness stem from? The ability to be who we are without reprimand, both actual and metaphorical, something that a collective does not allow room for.

      It is also important to note that Ayn Rand hated libertarians. She said libertarians were, “monstrous, disgusting group of people: they plagiarize my ideas when they fit their purpose, and denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication when it fits their purpose.” But what Ayn was missing was the understanding that her philosophy of Objectivism has flaws needed to be filled by the libertarian philosophies in order to complete the philosophy.

      A more accurate depiction of a libertarian would be Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. You can find all sorts of literature on http://www.mises.org.

      • That’s right. Mises and Rothbard defined libertarianism well, and Walter Block comes to mind as a contemporary articulate writer. Prolific too. Atheist (not agnostic) but does not let that confuse him, he has almost said Christians have made better freedom-minded thinkers, at least have more reason to be, or something. 🙂

  4. One of the things that has bothered me about Ayn Rand is that she seemed to be more contrarian than objective. She hated Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians. As you write, Cassandra, Ayn should’ve been more accepting. I have no problem with her pointing out the problems of other ideologies, but she seemed to characterize their beliefs as “unacceptable” extremes too often. I appreciate her black and white, passionate defense of her philosophy, but when she chastized like-minded opponents (yes, that duality was intended) she left some of us thinking that those of us that didn’t agree with her 100% of the time we were absolute fools.

    • Of course. The egos of others were none of her concern. Whether or not someone was offended was irrelevant to her. She enjoyed her philosophy to its fullest extent and anything less than this enjoyment was undesirable. I admire her for this. It takes courage to stick to one’s guns when people cry “compromise, for my feelings are hurt.”

      • When my choices come down to an individual that is compromising and unflinchingly partisan, I will take the latter every time. Even when that philosopher, commentator, et al, is diametrically opposed to my way of thinking I will respect the unflinchingly partisan individual more than person that attempts to incorporate so many opinions into their own that you don’t know what they said when they’re done. In a free-thinking society–that she appreciated more than most, coming from the communist Soviet Union–this reader thought she should’ve been more cognizant of the fact that most free-thinking people are not going to agree with her 100% of the time, and even though some may have small discepancies, those people are not evil for their discrepancies. I’ve always appreciated her uncompromising passion, but there were times when her characterizations of those that have even small discrepancies with her philosophy could be a bit extreme.

      • Rand’s bellicose architect Howard Roark’s contention in his courtroom testimony,

        “The man who thinks must think and act on his own.”

        is a non sequitur, given the context. Roark could conjure up all the magnificent skyscrapers on paper that he wanted, but not a single one of them could be built without ironworkers, electricians, plumbers, crane operators or construction managers. So achievement requires the -voluntary- action of adult individuals coming together as a group to accomplish a goal.

        If this coming together is involuntary, then we have a completely different problem. But there is nothing wrong with the collective as long as the collective comes together by free will. In fact, collective action is required for most anything to move forward. As soon as we begin to worship the single-minded “man of action,” we have set ourselves up to accept a tyrannical authoritarian leader, diametrically opposed to those freedoms Rand wishes to maintain.

        No architect has ever been remembered in the history books who accomplished nothing but drawing blueprints.

      • E.L.,
        I might as well chime in here. Here’s a blurb from my blog, edited for length.

        The idea that one may get along without the help of others is so obviously false that its affirmation amounts to a confession of some form of ignorance – at best. One cannot grow to adulthood without help from others. That should settle the matter. Apparently however, some adults believe themselves capable of getting along without the help of others. To this I would simply say “Show me.” Can the entrepreneur get along without customers, or the industrialist without workers? The simple truth is, they cannot. Yet somehow I don’t expect the simple truth to be taken seriously, which is a sign of something.

      • Paul – But the idea keeps sprouting, doesn’t it. Perhaps it’s that romantic John-Wayne-in-The-Searchers idealism that’s so hard to let go of…
        But someone had to make those saddles for John Wayne.

      • The one thing E.L. and Paul leave out of the equation is the irreplaceable man in the chain of events that leads to a building being built. Can the foreman, and all of the construction workers from the top down, be replaced and still have a beautiful building erected? Does it take a man of talent, and ingenuity, to pound a nail, manipulate machinery, and motivate those men to do it correctly, so that the building is erected according to the specs in a blueprint? It may take some talent, but that talent pales in comparison to the unique talent it takes to design a unique building. What’s the difference between an extremely talented designer, and an extremely talented construction worker. Which talented individual is far more valuable, and thus irreplaceable to the process? When that is determined, the allocation of money should follow, and no one should feel the least bit guilty about it.

    • Rilaly,

      I suppose I should have left the rest in. Here it is.

      They tend to regard their customers or workers as interchangeable parts. They tend to think that they are therefore more needed than in need. But this is not the normal state of affairs. Yes, the addict needs the dealer more than the dealer needs him. But non-addicts do not need the dealer at all. Likewise, those not addicted to convenience can do without the vast majority of what the industrialist and the entrepreneur have to offer. Now all of this is rather obvious. What blinds us to it is our addiction to convenience. (I say “our” to include myself as such an addict. My only advantage is to have recognized the problem.)

    • Rilaly,

      I suppose I should have included the rest. Here it is.

      They tend to regard their customers or workers as interchangeable parts. They tend to think that they are therefore more needed than in need. But this is not the normal state of affairs. Yes, the addict needs the dealer more than the dealer needs him. But non-addicts do not need the dealer at all. Likewise, those not addicted to convenience can do without the vast majority of what the industrialist and the entrepreneur have to offer. Now all of this is rather obvious. What blinds us to it is our addiction to convenience. (I say “our” to include myself as such an addict. My only advantage is to have recognized the problem.)

      This doesn’t quite address your “essential man” argument. But I think I can do that. Let’s try a flat denial. There is no essential man. Calculus, for example, would have come along without Newton. Ideas are never really the property or product of the “essential man”. Evolution would have come along without Darwin. So, I ask again, show me. Show me the “essential man.”

      • Rilaly,

        A little more. Language is a collective phenomenon. So, therefore, are ideas. Therefore in turn, ideas cannot be the product or property of the “essential man.”

      • The “essential man” rises from ashes of the “all things being equal” argument. All things being equal, some men do rise to the top while others meander in day to day living. The altruistic argument poses the theory that no man is essential, and if we had to start this entire society over again, we would see that. If that happened, those people would be sorely disappointed, for the “essential men” would eventually rise to the top again for the reasons that were endemic to their initial rise. All things being equal, some are more talented than others, and some are willing to risk it all in a belief they have in their talent that surpasses ours, and these characteristics afford them the ability to demand more payment for their services. All things being equal Newton, Darwin, and Einstein did come up with theories that changed our world. Would someone have come along and discovered those theories anyway, as you suggest? Perhaps, but that doesn’t detract from their place in history. All things being equal, they did it, and they, thus, became “essential men” to the progress of man. On a much more immediate level, a person can find out how essential they are to the processes of their company by issuing the ultimatum: “More money, or I walk!” You will then be confronted with, how essential, and how irreplaceable you are .

      • I’ll jump in here on the debate between rilaly and Paul

        “Can the foreman, and all of the construction workers from the top down, be replaced and still have a beautiful building erected?”

        Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Henry Ford were visionaries, but to imagine that these founders single handedly built their companies into empires falls far short of reality. There are countless numbers who labored in their shadows to make their visions a reality, but America is enamored with the romantic vision of the lone entrepreneur, using his sheer willpower to move mountains and create something from nothing. So we continue to believe the myth that a single individual could indeed be transformative on a massive scale.

        But Steve Jobs did not invent the computer, Bill Gates did not invent the operating system, and Henry Ford did not invent the automobile. They stood on the shoulders of giants themselves to enact their own visions, and required others to -make those visions realities.- Certainly the visions were unique and disruptive, but at the end of the day they are merely visions.

        And how many others were visionaries but died before they ever saw their visions come to fruition? What sets the known visionaries apart from the unknown visionaries is the formers’ ability to recognize their own gaps, and recognize the strengths in others who can fill those gaps. They network, excessively so, to meet as many people as possible, for the singular purpose of finding those others who can build on the gaps.

        Truly strategic networking in itself is an art that cannot be overestimated. Combine that with the art of vision, and you indeed have some rarified air in terms of individuals. Perhaps that is why of the billions who have ever walked this earth, we single out the visionary, since very, very few have ever pulled it all together to make something memorable happen.

        But this does not change the foundation: Visionaries need others to make the vision a reality. Some architects are gifted with design, others with engineering. These two skills rarely combine in the same person, so the very act of transforming a beautiful design into a blueprint that can be actually built is in itself a very critical step. The most beautiful structure ever devised by the human brain rings hollow if it cannot be built. So where is design without engineering?

        But let’s set that aside for a moment. Suppose that the strong-willed individual who can move mountains exists. That individual is still human, and that individual suffers from ego. Such an individual would be well aware of his or her powers, and therein can be found the chink in the armor. Ego would take over, and that individual would start seeing himself or herself as a god. And now that individual starts forcing others to bend to his or her vision, all for the “greater good.”

        However romantic the ideal of the lone visionary, it is not realistic, nor is it desirable. I personally fear that far too many Americans are pinning their hope on finding that single, seemingly strong-willed individual to which they can elect to the U.S. presidency. That is a very treacherous slope, for if such a mandate would gather behind an individual – no matter how modest that individual initially may be in intention – the very power that rests within such a mandate would not go untapped for long. In such an environment Americans would start to see the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution as hurdles, holding back the visionary. It would be seen as desirable to eradicate the Bill of Rights. In fact, the Patriot Act has already removed a large chunk of our Bill of Rights, and over 60 percent of Americans still see this assault on these civil rights as more desirable than facing the 1 in 1.7 million odds of being a victim of an attack… thus these ruminations do not veer far from what already is in place.

        With the total banishment of the Bill of Rights, the distance to an outright dictatorship is not far.

        I am a firm believer in free will, and in willpower. Yet I hold that when we voluntarily come together, as Americans, only then can we hope to enact change and a new vision for our country. If we allow our apathy to continue, and expect someone else to enact the change for us, we have essentially sold our freedoms and our futures to the highest bidder, and the sense of powerlessness in our lives will only continue to grow, and our futures will only continue to dim. At such point, we will deserve the derision and condescending attitudes with which the elite already heap upon us daily.

        I am a visionary, and my vision is that other Americans are also visionaries, and that we will move beyond our apathy, narcissism and consumerism to enact grassroots change. I want to be part of the change that I had a hand in enacting, not part of the change someone from above has enacted for me. I will never, ever find my sense of dignity as an individual in a world built by the elite.

      • E.L.,
        One reason I’m trying to keep this debate going is that I don’t think I’ve understood Rilaly’s argument. I’m missing something. As someone said “Perception takes time.” I just hope I haven’t turned him off for good. The part I have the most trouble with runs something like “All things being equal, Bill Gates is an “essential man.” I just don’t follow that. My best guess is something like this. There is a level playing field (all things being equal) and Bill won the game.

        Paul

      • The winners-vs-losers dichotomy has to cease. Bill Gates essentially leveraged the resources around him better than others, but this “better” implies a set of rules by which he played. However, this does not suggest that Bill Gates is better. There are those who may not -want- to leverage the resources around their person, or even want to play by the generally accepted rules. This doesn’t define such a person as “less better,” only that that person is strong enough to define their own dignity by other means… and that, I find, admirable, without suggesting such an person had to resort to hyperindividualism to achieve such ends, where all others are seen as competitors rather than potential partners in the means to a desired end.

    • Rilaly
      My claim is that there is no Newton without a Liebniz, no Darwin without a Wallace, etc. I was asking for counterexamples. I’m saying that the “essential men” are as interchangeable as their “lessers”. The architect is just as replaceable as the carpenter, ceteris paribus. I don’t think you’ve denied this exactly. You’ve said, I think, that even if this is so, it doesn’t matter. But it does matter for your previous argument. You argued that some are less replaceable than others. I don’t think you’ve shown that to be the case.
      Paul

      • Your claim is that without some help, no man could accomplish. I say that all people have had “some help”, they have had some roads built for them, some EPA-style standards that have kept them alive, and some soldiers dying to protect their freedom to produce. I’m saying that all of these conditions being equal between a modern day Paul Amrhein and Bill Gates, Bill Gates has proven to be more essential to our society (no insult intended), Now, you could say that Gates had help designing his OS, and that help was rewarded monetarily and otherwise, in a relative manner, but without Bill Gates desire to risk it all on an idea, the world might be a different place. Bill Gates seized upon his place and time to revolutionize an industry. If your argument is that Steve Jobs, or someone else, would’ve eventually developed an OS, a different OS, or a better OS, then they would’ve replaced his value in society. One of them would’ve seized the mantle of one of the most essential men of their time. You can change the playing field, and concentrate on equivocations of the absolutes of necessity, but there is always going to be a sliding scale definition of essential in any project, and any walk of life, until you find a “most essential person” that cannot be replaced as easily as the heating and air conditioning guy that kept them in comfort while they produced and accomplished. If you’re saying that Bill Gates shouldn’t mind having his financial rewards for ingenuity taken by force, because he should recognize that without the AC guy keeping his AC running, he wouldn’t be able to produce his OS, then we’re simply two creatures that will never find agreement.

    • Rilaly,
      Hmm. First, none taken. This had been the best debate I’ve participated in for quite a while. Maybe this is the place for my debate boilerplate;
      Before we debate, please note, I believe in;
      1) Live and let live. 
As long as they don’t use force against me, I’m happy to share the planet with people of; other faiths, no faith, other sexual orientations, other races, etc.
      2) I’m probably wrong. 
If Isaac Newton and Sigmund Freud, folks like that, could be wrong occasionally, who am I to think I’m right all the time? When I’m convinced I’m right I’ll argue that way. But in the end I’ll still believe I’m probably wrong, or more likely to be wrong than right.
      Paul

    • Rilaly,
      “but without Bill Gates desire to risk it all on an idea, the world might be a different place” -Rilaly

      Indeed. It might be a better place.

      “”Your claim is that without some help, no man could accomplish.” – Rilaly

      No that is not my claim. My claim is what I said it was – the architect, ceteris paribus, is as replaceable as the carpenter. I don’t think you’ve refuted this. In fact you’ve agreed with it “One of them would’ve seized the mantle of one of the most essential men of their time.” If either of them could have seized said mantle, neither was essential.

      Furthermore I did not claim that without *some* help no man could accomplish. What I did say was that no one can grow to adulthood without help from others. That is a great deal more than “some” help.

      Paul

      • All,

        I suppose I could also ask “Where would the entrepreneur be without government protection of his patents, copyrights, or trademarks?” Precisely nowhere. Would the libertarian wish to do without this sort of help?

    • Rilaly,

      “If you’re saying that Bill Gates shouldn’t mind having his financial rewards for ingenuity taken by force, because he should recognize that without the AC guy keeping his AC running, he wouldn’t be able to produce his OS, then we’re simply two creatures that will never find agreement.” – Rilaly

      Let’s see. I would appeal to Bill’s sense of justice. He receives a great deal of protection from the government. He could not make a profit without it. So, he owes the government something. If he’s unwilling to pay what justice clearly demands then yes, he should be forced to do so. How would I do so? By withdrawing that protection. By this I don’t mean taking away police protection. I mean nullifying his patents, etc.

      Should he be forced to pay a minimum wage? I have my doubts about the minimum wage. It’s a crude tool. Some economists have tried to determine what an “optimal minimum wage” would be. It just isn’t clear. But Henry Ford had a good idea. Pay your workers enough to be able to afford what they’re making. Of course the story would be different at Rolls Royce.

      Our basic disagreement seems to have to do with the amount of help the “essential man” receives. I say that he receives a great deal of help – help without which he could not become the “essential man.” I think the evidence for this position is overwhelming. You, I think, would deny this.

      Paul

      • First of all, let me say how refreshing it is to have a logical debate on such a topic without any name calling, or characterizations, of any kind. I know I’ve run into a true intellectual when I can have such a debate. I do think that our debate, has become a little redundant however, and I think it boils down to the question of “help”. I do agree that Bill Gates, Newton, Einstein, Ford, and all the great men that have accomplished great things have had some help in doing what they did, but the complaint that their naysayers have is that they should be willing to sacrifice “more” for the sake of the common good, because they couldn’t have done it without some help.

        To take this to another subject writing I know well: Dostoyevsky couldn’t have written a single word without, as you say, “the collective knowledge of language”. If he hadn’t had the experiences he had in life, he wouldn’t have written the way he did, and he owes all of those that provided him those experiences. If I’m reading you correctly, you’re stating that a Dostoyevsky shouldn’t have minded when the government forced him to pay “more” taxes on his royalties, because he couldn’t have written the books he wrote, if we didn’t have the collective knowledge of language, these shared experiences with others, and the idea that he didn’t make the writing utensil he used? (This is what I meant when I wrote taxes “taken by force” with the fear of incarceration, as opposed to charitable giving).

        Help is usually awarded, and credited, and financially rewarded, but in the end it’s just help, and there is always one visionary that puts them together to achieve a finished product.

        If there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests that Gates stole technology from Xerox, or that Edison stole from Tesla, those facts may discredit those particular accomplishments, but it’s simply a parsing of the general idea.

      • Rilaly,
        Thank-You and back atcha. As I say this is the best debate I’ve been involved in for quite a while.
        I have to stop and think for a while.
        Paul

      • Rilaly,

        The artist, entrepreneur, etc receives help from others. Agreed. What follows from that? Does this create a debt? To explore this systematically, I should try to make a case for each answer, then say which I think is right.

        But I think I need to skip ahead. Does the employer have a debt to his employees? As long as we are talking about employees and not slaves, I think the answer must be yes.

        Now the question at issue here is “How should the government be involved?” One answer is to say that the government should do no more than enforce whatever contract exists between the parties. That, I believe, would be the libertarian answer. But this presupposes that all such contracts are *ipso facto* just. I don’t think I can agree with that. To explain why I may have to delve into my notions of justice.

        I believe in what I call “Creative Justice.” Among other things I am; 1) opposed to cutting down the rich and the strong, 2) in favor of building up the poor and the weak. This reminds me of a song *The Trees* by Rush, whose drummer and lyricist, Neal Peart, is a libertarian. The basic idea is that it’s wrong to cut down the tall trees to make all the trees equal.
        More later.
        Paul

      • Rilaly,

        Government has an interest in, a responsibility toward, contracts in general and contracts between employer and employee in particular, arising from the values embodied in its founding documents. When its values are endangered a government has not only the right but the obligation to intervene. In our case the values at issue are liberty and equlality. These values work together. Where there is a gross imbalance of power, take for example the natural imbalance between adults and children, the liberty of the weaker party is curtailed. In the case of parents and children this imbalance is normally desireable, an acceptable breach of both values. But if such imbalanced relations were to become the norm between adults, the nation’s values, in this case both equality and with it liberty, would be endangered. This is when government is obliged to step in. This would be my rationale for havning government force an employer to pay a higher wage, though the very idea makes me somehow a little nauseus.

        Paul

      • Rilaly,
        What else? I don’t think I’ve gotton to the question you asked above – should a Dostoyevsky have to pay more? (Caution, I’m rambling here a bit.)

        One owes the most to those from whom one has received the most.

        I believe in such a thing as talent. Who is a Dostoyevsky to pay back for that? The question barely makes sense to me. I don’t see why he should pay *more*, at least not in relative terms. I don’t know why the rich should pay more, in relative terms, than others. It is probably the case that those who Dostoyevsky owed the most, his teachers, his parents, would be the least likely to demand payback. Writing, as most of us here know, is hard work. Can you imagine the work of writing a Russian novel? Whatever he recieved by that work, he earned. Would it be fair for him to live extravagantly? Maybe not. But I don’t think that taking most of his wealth from him, giving it to the poor, would be right. Nor do I think it would solve the problem of poverty.
        Paul

      • I’m trying to sum up but I’m stuck. I know I’ve left some loose ends here. In trying to tie them up, I find I’m getting into some huge topics, topics that would take months to treat fully. Maybe they’re not really so huge. Maybe I just need more time to think.
        Our debate turned into more of a conversation. I like that. Questions welcome.

      • Creative Justice: What’s in a name?

        Cruelty.
        Perhaps the phrase “Creative Justice” evokes ideas of inventiveness in punishment. That’s not the idea.

        Creativity.
        One model of creativity is *creatio ex nihilo* creation from nothing. Something comes into being which has no history. It is not merely a recombination of existing elements. It is new in form and substance.

        Justice.
        Suppose there is a principle of justice in the world. It is a principle of balance, compensation, equilibrium. It works to eliminate unmerited states of affairs. A new thing, as described above, having no history, cannot have earned its place in the world. The principle of strict justice must therefore *eliminate it*.

        Justice & Creativity
        The principle of creativity, seeing its work under threat, acts. It *changes* its previous creation. Justice sees that, strictly speaking, the former thing no longer exists. Creativity has satisfied justice in the only way it can, through change.I call the working together of these two principles “Creative Justice.”

        To be continued on my own blog over the next little while.

      • Rilaly

        What I was wrong about.

        You said “On a much more immediate level, a person can find out how essential they are to the processes of their company by issuing the ultimatum: “More money, or I walk!” You will then be confronted with, how essential, and how irreplaceable you are .”

        This is true. I ignored it. That’s, I think, why things got repetetive. When one party stops hearing, the other often starts repeating, or both do and the whole thing becomes competing monologues, blech.

        Anyway I wouldn’t deny that without Shakespeare there could have been no Hamlet. Nor would I have expected another Shakespeare to come along. On another level, I wouldn’t deny that the heart is more needed than the pinky finger.

        But somehow I think of Achilles, an “essential man” if ever there was one. Yet he was a demigod. That is, seeing oneself as an “essential man” is to deify oneself, I think falsely, an inflation destined to be compensated by a fall.

        There are subtleties that I’m missing here. I can see the truth in your position. But I’m not ready to give mine up entirely.

        Paul

  5. Cassandra,
    I think I still have *Road to Serfdom* on my shelves somewhere. I want to slow down a little. I want to ask; what is a collective? How many in a collective? Is someone with DID (fka multiple personality disorder) a collective? Okay, that last one was a little facetious. Rilaly mentions the family. As far as I know, no one has a choice about what family they’re born into. Does that make the family a bad kind of collective?
    Paul

    rilaly,
    I think that went along with her commitment to egoism. I recall a line she wrote on the back jacket of someone else’s book. It went something like ‘This is a great book. I’m only amazed that there’s something good in the world that didn’t come from me.” I guess that was supposed to be a joke.

    Paul

  6. Cassandra, you possess an excellent understanding of philosophy, economics and psychology. Many libertarians fail to understand that dependent people subconsciously believe in collectivism. Somewhere deep down, they feel comfortable allowing others to make decisions for them. Of course, altruists, do-gooders and world-improvers take advantage of this sad fact. Unfortunately, freedom-loving people suffer the consequences of the collectivist’s anti-life philosophy of selflessness and self-sacrifice.

    • Robert, what do you think of firefighters? No doubt they are self-sacrificing. Are they therefore practitioners of a collectivist anti-life philosophy? How do *they* cause freedom-loving people to suffer?

      • I admire firefighters. I wouldn’t call them practitioners of collectivism. In fact, I would have to say that each one of them is expressing the best he can be. I don’t consider what firefighters do as self-sacrificing.

  7. Robert,
    I think many, if not most, firefighters would describe themselves as self-sacrificing, as willing to give up their lives to save others. Perhaps I don’t understand what you mean by self-sacrificing, or “expressing”?
    Paul

    • Paul, I will try to clear that up. What I mean by self-sacrificing is when someone sacrifices a higher value for a lower value. I think we can agree that firefighters live by their highest values. Yes, they risk their lives to save others, but I don’t believe a firefighter would purposely sacrifice his life to save someone. He attempts to rescue someone because he believes he’s competent to do so. His job is one of his highest values and he acts accordingly.

      • Robert,
        Ah, I think I’ve got you. This would make “self-sacrifice” more like suicide. Rescuers are often trained to put their own safety first. To lose oneself is to lose the victim too. Pointless. I’m guessing that you would say that a suicide bomber is not living by his highest values. He or she may think so. But they would have had their own values drummed out of them. Yes?
        Paul

  8. nadineandrobin

    It’s a strange time to be alive. We are witnessing and are a part of the collapse of an old paradigm…and we are also the seeds of the new.

    I don’t want to get all woo woo but as I understand it, the theme of the age of Pisces was about being a part of a collective, giving up yourself in service of the group, functioning as a group mind, sacrifice, etc…and we are still moving away from all of that dogma.
    The new age (and believe me I am not a new-ager, they bug the crap out of me, but this just seems like the right thing to say at this moment) of Aquarius is about being an individual, and also about working in a collective of individuals.

    I’ve come to realise lately that any large structure that is centralised requires homogenisation to be manageable and we can see how that has turned out. It makes sense for there to be smaller groups of individuals working together with other groups to make a larger collective.

    I guess this was how the United States originally functioned before it became a centralised global empire.

    Greeting from New Zealand ~ Robin

  9. Hey thanks for the follow,
    I read your piece and liked it. You are well informed and offer a sound viewpoint. I do have to disagree with the emphasis on the “collective” as being the issue. The founding fathers never intended for a country to be as large, as diverse, as inclusive as what we have now. Back, then the “individuals” were farm owning white men. So, the rights were rather exclusive to a broad range of people. As we have grown, government has had to grow in proportion of course to the needs of the population at hand.
    The government is the people (as you put) but we don’t to do all of the responsibility and work the government does as we have our own lives. That’s why our vote is so powerful when used effectively.

    This is a structural problem that is universal worldwide. You can take out my white male problem and input a tribe,class or someone else and it applies everywhere because it is an individual issue that reflects the whole not the whole affecting the individual.

    The Nigerian depression statistic is not fair seeing as they have higher rates of poverty,famine, government corruption, and mass inequality on a scale we will never touch (despite the chagrin of many). Many people in Nigeria don’t have the time to be depressed because they are struggling to survive and no nothing more than their basic existence which is happiness.

    The limiting of rights by government again most technological companies datamine and sell our information to corporations with our consent but not full understanding of the ramifications. Facebook was using minors information to advertise products without the consent of parents. Google has algorithms that “read your emails” and advertise information based upon your references. Even if you delete your Facebbok profile they still own all of your information. This is just as shady as the NSA but guess what we allow it. Privacy has gone into the toilet in recent years and that’s a much larger debate,
    That’s my thoughts,
    Keep rocking this is awesome
    Mardaweh

  10. And we lose just as many freedoms when we climb into indebtedness, willingly placing the shackles on our ankles then passing the key to the banks. We delude ourselves into thinking we are free because our arms are free to wave around, blithely ignoring the chains below.

    We accumulate debt to the level of our incomes, and then some, and we lose our freedom to take on work that may pay less, but that we love more. We become enslaved to the employer offering the highest paycheck because we cannot afford to walk away and pursue the things that truly engage us.

    Our misery grows, and we lash out at others around us as a way to vent our stress.

    And the saddest part is we have control over this tyranny of indebtedness. We press hard against political tyranny, yet we never think twice about pulling out that credit card at the checkout.

    • I love this comment E.L. very true. It’s our responsibility not the governments to manage ourselves but when we fail to do that all else fails as well because our choices have a ripple effect on behaviors around us.

      • And our inability to self govern simply hands, on a silver platter, the justification for governmental powers to impinge our natural and civil rights. It’s true government can usurp rights without provocation – and does – but at times we ease the process by the very behaviors we display. John Locke called such behavior “license,” a characteristic he frequently presses against in Two Treatises, but one frequently unheard in contemporary discourse.

  11. Parodoxes of Liberty
    Perhaps I should put this on my own blog. But this is an interesting conversation. So I’ll compromise and try to be brief. What other threats to personal autonomy are out there besides government? Take drugs for example. On the one hand I’m in favor of broad legaization. On the other, I recognize that many drugs make the project of self-mastery quite difficult. Furthermore, to buy certain drugs is to give “license” to those, though outside of govenrment, who would seek to take away one’s autonomy.

  12. CassandraRoseArthur

    Wow! Such a great response to this essay. I must admit that I am very excited and humbled by the positive feedback you guys have given me. Thank you! How lucky I am to have such a brilliant group of people on this post. This essay was written as a catalyst to spark debate, so I am glad it has fulfilled its purpose. I’m about to get personal here to clear up where I’m coming from.

    My idea of a collective comes from serving in the Marine Corps, whose institutions hold parallel structures to what collectivism eventually becomes (referring to militaristic society). The teamwork, selflessness, pride, and traditions, all created an environment where the individual was suppressed in order to accomplish the mission. The Marine Corps grew closer to me than my own family, however, which is why I am not vehemently against collectivism. But, I requested early release from the Marine Corps early for a reason.

    The family is a very important collective because the children born into the family did not choose to be born. I, unfortunately, was born into an abusive collective ran by a single dictator that was my father. He was the one with the money, and sabotaged any chance that family members gained complete independence. As long as he paid for everyone to get along, he had control. That’s what he is all about. How did I get away from the abusive family collective? I joined the not-as-abusive collective that is the Marine Corps. Yes, the Marine Corps was safer than my own home. It is also safe to say that I was not an adult until I learned what it was like to lead my peers in the Corps.

    “** If an individual chooses to be a part of a collective, that is different. If we are born into a collective, we did not get to choose.”

    That was a blessing in disguise, but I also resented the fact that it was 2009, I just graduated from high school, couldn’t find a job, and couldn’t afford college. Oh! I wonder why that was… In any case, I was down and out, so it seemed that my only option was to join the military (which was something I was already considering), and one thing that kept me going was that I knew it was only going to be four years of my life.

    Ok, so that was a long-winded explanation to get to the punch line:

    Collectives should never EVER be permanent, they should be temporary in order to establish a foundation of moral and ethical code (just like the family). Once the foundation is established, the individual NEEDS to leave. It is essential, because after a certain amount of time, you lose who you are and you mold into what the collective wants you to be. My biological family failed to train me for survival outside of the collective. My Marine Corps family made sure that I had everything I needed to survive.

    • I came from an abusive family as well with financially abusive parents. I admire your strength and willpower but I do not knock the collective. We need people but we should strive for interdependency. Not dependency or an extreme independence that is not healthy. Love is the tool that sets us free.

      My sister joined the marines for the same reasons as you stated. I stayed to work through my issues before I left so I would not bring them into the life I wanted to create. I’m grateful that I healed and am moving out soon with the emotional support of my beautiful friends.

      I believe we probably feel the same thing though our view points are divergent lol.

      I know that though our government is imperfect it is a reflection of people and there is always a lot of good in everything and one. I again relate to your struggles and am glad you are here to share your story.Just like you worked for your sense of community in the marines a lot of people like my friend Unique who is graduating from college after being a product of welfare worked for theirs as well.

      Community is good without it we lose our most basic self. Our humanity.

      Mardaweh

  13. Cassandra,

    Self-expression requires a certain degree of conformity. To express oneself in writing, for example, one needs to conform to the rules of language. Otherwise no-one, not even you, can know what you mean. One epigram for the philosophical task is “Know thyself.” Your method of joining then leaving whatever collective you’ve chosen is a way to do just that. That’s part of why people are so turned on by your writing. They can tell you’re alive to what really matters.

    Paul

  14. “Once the foundation is established, the individual NEEDS to leave. It is essential, because after a certain amount of time, you lose who you are and you mold into what the collective wants you to be.” These are some strong lines Cassandra.

    This was followed by a strong summation by Paul: “Self-expression requires a certain degree of conformity.”

    If a strong-willed individual is going to rebel, and they usually do, they need to understand the rules first. When I was learning how to rebel against my dad’s rules, I inadventently learned what my dad was teaching me… for proper rebellion. Then, when I went out on my own, rebellion became silly, because I no longer had a figurehead to rebel against, I became a rebel without a cause. When I EVENTUALLY realized that my personal success involved incorporating all the rules that my dad taught me with all of the facets of my individual rebellion, I actually became something of a well-rounded individual.

  15. Great post I feel like I have been living in the matrix. I have tried to educate may self more in whats going on the last 8 years. The solution is understanding liberty and the goverment monopoly of school has distorted that and it has taken someone like Ron Paul to rip the matrix cord out of the back of my neck. I think we are all naturally liberterians, classical liberals or what ever term you want to give it when we are born, but the state through their control of our education system beats it out of us by saying we are wrong. Today politically we have only 2 options the republicans that believe in the warfare state economic freedoms but no social or personal freedoms and the left believe in the welfare state personal freedoms but not economical freedoms. Why cant we have both? Our rights come naturally through our humanity not because the government gives us rights. Governments were only created to protect those rights not tell us what they are. We have to restore self government, family governmnent, and fight back the power of the state. I think liberty is the answer. Again, i loved your post.

  16. Individual rights and capitalism lose much of their power and allure when you are unemployed and also destitute. Government must provide an emergency safety net with efficient basic needs delivered door to door and free internet education to reeducate liberal arts majors in a technological job for the 21st century. International banks, corporations, the internet, robotization, and monopoly practices are decimating the middle class and I am afraid that individual liberty alone will not cure the ills which confront us.
    Moral decay or an inability to interact with humans successfully as well as economic hardship is responsible for much of the depression in this country. Thanks for following my blog and I hope you find more than a handful of blogs which interest you. Best wishes. Uldis

  17. kaiteking

    Hi, thank you for liking my blog MoreTHanMommy! I’m really enjoying your writing, creative and intellectual! I really enjoyed this post – human society, the individual, and the collective are really fascinating subjects. Especially when we’ve been taught as Americans practically from infancy that the highest life form is the individual, yet we are forced on a daily basis by circumstances or organization to sacrifice our liberty for the group. I see value in individualism as well the communal life – I think avoiding cognitive dissonance is about striking a balance between fulfilling yourself and the meeting needs within your society. If the society crumbles then how can we even see ourselves as individuals? Our entire identity as a unique being is based on a subject v. object relationship with other individuals and organizations around us. How can I know myself as One when I do not have a Group to compare myself to? In my opinion cognitive dissonance is a very… slippery… theory since it doesn’t specifically quantify how much individual sacrifice is made before someone is unhappy – nor does (or can it IMO) it qualify unhappiness objectively. How can it taut the individual when it expects the individual to fall within a mean? Lol. Anyway, my days of academia usually take a back seat to getting ready for this baby and other life dramas so thank you for this moment of adult conversation!

  18. Well written and thought-full. The stats about unemployment, welfare, and food stamps are important for everyone to acknowledge. This wealthy nation has a vast poor population. A significant percentage of that poverty comes from two sources: debt because this society preys upon the lower desire nature for consumerism which drives the capitalism, and secondly the continued inequity of pay scale for females, those who are other than caucasian, and the service industries. When the mom and pop general store served a community, mom and pop made a decent income, their small staff did, all their vendors did, and the community was not programmed to buy or shop seven days a week. Money stayed in everyone’s pockets unless something was actually needed.

    But also, a citation of the social assistance costs without equal citation of military spending is skewed citing. The billions spend on helping people pales by the behemoth millions of billions spent on every aspect of demise.

  19. I’m inclined to agree with the sentiment, however a problem remains. Why should we think that increased freedom will contribute to the Good of an individual?

    Also, what is the framework of these ‘human rights’. On what authority do they rest for you or are they, as in the case of most people, simply pretty propaganda unjustified.

    I come before you honestly, and you can check out my work at ahousewithnochild.wordpress.com

    I want only to dialogue.

  20. Great observation, well-written.

  21. Enjoyed reading your article. There are many threads in it and each one a subject in itself. I’d like to pick out a couple of things.
    Firstly, individual liberty is paramount. Of course, assuming that it does not cause others to lose theirs, or pay a price for. In the last couple of hundred years, we have drawn boundaries around ourselves, of nation, state, etc., presumably for administrative purposes. These drawn boundaries are now becoming restrictive, with people holding different views being looked upon with suspicion.
    Secondly, I believe life has built-in change agents. Success is perhaps, itself, a guarantee against more success. A rich person’s child, for example, might grow up in a protected environment and fail to experience the many hues of life which may put him at a disadvantage against an early-life struggler. I am not saying that a rich company or country is doomed to fail or become poor. It is upto the choices they make. But, current success is no guarantee of its permanence.

  22. Preston Chou

    A thought provoking post. But I’d like to contend with your view that the imposing collective is always a negative influence. Say you want to be a computer engineer, but landscapers are in high demand, while computer engineers are not. Why is it so bad that under these circumstances, you choose to be a landscaper to earn your living? When our careers are dictated by rigid social structures, like a guild system, the imposing of society takes away the self-regulation and affluence brought on by the invisible hand. What if the trajectories of our careers are not arbitrarily determined by a power that stratifies society according to what it believes to be best, but are rather directed by the natural forces of supply and demand? Given the current nature of the labor market, you could make a living being a landscaper. If you continue pursuing computer engineering, you would remain unemployed, or have a brutally low salary. You can say you are happy pursuing a job you love more, but there is a certain point when making enough money to provide your subsistence becomes more important. I wouldn’t say this imposition of society makes our lives worse. The laws of supply and demand in the market economy that placed the limitations on your career are also responsible for all the benefits of capitalism we enjoy today. In addition, they allow you to find a way to earn a living which although comes from a second-choice job, makes the nature of the job insignificant in comparison to the subsistence you get from your wage. The general will is expressed and imposed in many other ways as well. The premise of law is to restrict us from acting in such a way as would harm another person. You are limited, but the rights that you are left with (such as the right to life) are guaranteed to you because others have the same limitations. By being part of a collective group, we make individual sacrifices that better the group and therefore come back to benefit us. The difference between “right” and “wrong” comes from the reason of the conditions society imposes on us (whether certain taxes are justified, etc), not from whether or not conditions are implemented. What do you think?

  23. I wrote an essay on Invasion of the Body Snatchers on the theme of individualism vs. collectivism. http://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers/

  24. Hello Cassandra, as someone interested in politics, you may find Mark Passio’s seminar on natural law, available on youtube and at his website, whatonearthishappening.com quite interesting. Mark argues that we will see a continual erosion of our individual rights until people learn self-rulership in accordance with objective ethical principles. His ultimate position is that a fully realized human society composed of self-responsible individuals will organically self-organize and do best without the institution we call government. It’s a fascinating and compelling argument, and if you pursue his work, I hope you enjoy it. On another note, thanks so much for your follow of Heart of Life Poetry, I really appreciate it.

  25. sassman

    Very well written. Our leaders, and perhaps the money- and power-brokers that back them seem to want Americans forced into this dystopian “Collective” society you spoke of, and I sure hope people will all come together in November to give them all a resounding “NO!” vote to stop it. I won’t hold my breath; but here’s hoping. Thank you very much!

  26. Excellent post! I hope your writing brings more people to understand the true blessings of liberty. We need all the help we can get to turn this place around.
    Thanks trying!

  27. best thing I have read in a while. without free will, there is no freedom

  28. We can’t form a society without giving up some individual rights, I suppose. My absolute freedom leaves others no room for their own preferences. So we need a referee when two folks’ freedoms collide. The State has appointed itself that job. Now with God fired, the only limit upon the State is its own discretion … as we see in this week’s Supreme Court holding that an anonymous tip is sufficient basis for the police to ignore due process.
    I fear that the Constitution was an interesting experiment that has failed the test of reality.This suggests to me, that a truly free human society is an oxymoron, at least in the long run.

    • (It’s good to cross paths with Jack again…and it’s nice to meet you, Cassandra.)

      Like Jack, I find it harder and harder to feel optimistic that a liberty-centric attitude can prevail in America ever again. Individualists don’t naturally band together cohesively, so politically we suffer. It is painful to observe the cruel irony that Collectivism is notorious for destroying human ambition and productivity, but it’s perfect for seizing and maintaining control of the political arena.

      – Jeff

  29. Thank you for following my blog recently. In response, I looked through a couple of your posts. This one is interesting, and without responding to the key point, I would like to make some remarks.
    I don’t believe in the ‘Good Old Days’ in the same way I do not believe in the ‘good old days’ of international relations. The status changes depending on who you are and where you are. If you are a fortunate enough Urban-registered Chinese worker, today is a better time to be alive than last century. If you are a Syrian tech worker, this is not the case. This is the same within the US. Ironically, as we as a nation have fought to better the opportunities at birth (and create freer international trade), we have created higher competition, and a harder environment to live in. Albeit, if you were one of those for whom last century was a great time to be alive. I definitely agree with holding the government accountable, and making the dialogue among actors within the US more level-headed and fair; and this is the goal that all free and fair people pursue(d) yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
    Secondly, and it’s a minor point, I don’t think depression is necessarily a sign of a failed free system. Simply because of this – the freer a society, the more burdens people must shoulder themselves, or in their social circles. Depression arrives everywhere, but in a society that places the burdens on the individual, perhaps it is not so surprisingly rampant. Also, the happiest nations tend to be those with strong socialist educational and healthcare systems, probably because these responsibilities are removed from the people to the government. I leave anyone reading this to make their judgements on the detriments and benefits of such a system, but it is a point. And, as I believe someone commented, the diagnosis rates of depression are important too.
    As I said, interesting post, and thanks for following my blog.

  30. well written and true. . . . thanks !

  31. The blog post and all the subsequent discussion has been most enlightening.

  32. Nice essay. Great topic. I retired on social security at 62. You can too. Keep voting!!!

  33. Nolan Cannon

    Very interesting. I must say that I enjoyed it–but just a few things to think on and maybe produce another well-written essay off of.
    1. Individualism in America can hardly be called a triumph. During the Enlightenment period democracy and the idea of self-rule, individual “natural” rights, and a denial of any laws that would take away from those individual rights a new kind of dictatorship emerged. Of course, this is not something that many of us recognize and I think that you alluded to it in this post. Mob rule is something that we are all given to here in America–certainly it is true that the ruling “majority” shove legislation after legislation in the name of the good of the Republic down the current “minority’s” throat. I think individual rights are often the guise in which this is done. One might say, “All humans deserve the right to a quality life.” and so alter immigration, abortion, and whatever else to suit those supposed rights. The issue here is that natural rights are vaguely defined in our constitution and declaration. Who’s life is guaranteed and why? To whom do you bare responsibility towards in the case of a certain right where one could be called a citizen and the other not? My point being that not all people acting in the name of the natural right morality are in deed genuine… But something tells me you know this. Further, this saying (e.g. natural rights) often seems to be an excuse to not do good for the whole–self sacrifice is a virtue, but many people pro porting natural rights forget this.
    2. Not all forms of government not democracy are collectivist governments. One need only view the early versions of Constitutional Monarchy, Julian and Augustinian Dictatorship, and Tocquevillean Dictatorship to know this. But, again, I’m sure you are aware of this. Tocqueville himself made the critique of “Mass Dictatorship” or Mob Rule that I made above. In fact, one might be able to make a case for the superiority of these kinds of governmental dictatorships over the American Republic Experiment. Not that I am currently.
    3. No one really chooses their governments. Every government known has come by way of one conflict or another. David Hume’s political philosophy is that there is one person or group of people who dominate another people and subject them to their ideal form of government. In other words, governments form by way of John Locke’s “State of War.” Anthropology has identified three types of control–coercion, persuasion, and hegemony. Through these three types of control, people come to power. Coercion is the most common form; this type of control involves the use of an army. Persuasion is the way that American Presidents come to power and how our Constitution was adopted–it involves the listing of fact, distribution of propaganda, slander of opponents, etc. to make people side with you or your viewpoint. Hegemony is the way that places are conquered holistically–it involves the complete cultural adoption of the ruling state my the subject state–Any kind of imperialism can be explained this way.

    I hope some of these thoughts are helpful. I realize that they are not all critiques of your subject but I think they could be fruitful for further thought all the same. Cheers.

  34. “One thing that we all have in common is inalienable human rights which were defined under the United States Constitution…”

    I’m glad you wrote this, because too many people would mistakenly say we were given that right under the Constitution. The Constitution merely recognizes the inherent right we all have which was given to us by our Creator – therefore it stands as a safeguard of that liberty and freedom. As you wrote, though, we need to stand up for it, especially these days.

    This article is worthwhile reading, and I’m going to tweet it as well as share it to my Facebook page. You write with the maturity and insight of someone much older, and I feel you’ll do well as a writer.

    I also checked out your “About” page – thank you for your service with the Marine Corps, Cassandra. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  35. Reblogged this on U.S. Persons Abroad – Members of a Unique Tax, Form and Penalty Club and commented:
    ” We must stay vigilant in holding our representatives responsible for what they legislate and always stand up for the underdog. We must question the official narrative of everything because it is our duty to keep our government in check, and as long as we keep on asking questions, we will find answers.”

  36. Good stuff good stuff 🙂

  37. Reblogged this on Lone Star Inspirations and commented:
    This is a great article on individualism and collectivism! Check it out!

  38. This is a fantastic article! I hope you do not mind, but I reblogged it on mine. I give you full credit. It is really amazing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s