The Threat of Collectivism in Our Time

G. Stolyarov II
Issue CLXII - June 12, 2008
Recommend this page.
A sample imageCollectivism is back with a vengeance, and its new home is not in the USSR or China. The new citadel of collectivism is the First World, as Western elites adopt ever more of the communitarian "it takes a village" attitide - an attitude which holds that, by himself, the individual is nothing and that the very existence of his rights and even of meaning in his life is contingent on his participation in his society - not any society of his choice, mind you, but the community, city, and country he just happens to be in.

In "The Liberty We Must Have," Tibor Machan describes a common argument used by such collectivists - that negative liberty, the freedom of every individual from compulsion and coercive interference on the part of others, is unimportant or a relic of the past and what truly matters is positive freedom - the access to the material resources needed to accomplish particular aims deemed essential to a person's quality of life.

Of course, how any kind of positive freedom is possible when one's very existence is contingent on the permission of "society" - that is, of the elites who claim to speak for "society" - is not explained. It would seem that before any kind of access to resources can even be an issue, there needs to be a firm understanding that one will not be killed or expropriated for trying to access those resources in such a manner as to improve his condition. In order for any individual to use his mind to acquire positive opportunities, he needs to be free to do so in the first place. When individuals' minds and their freedom are considered as being at the disposal of "society" or the state, can individuals be said to be anything other than pawns of the state - to be manipulated like chess pieces by the ruling elite?

The greatest threat emerging from this revival of collectivism is, of course, the re-imposition of military conscription and other kinds of "public service" schemes into which millions of civilians - especially young people - would be drafted. In "Why Freedom is Free and Rights are Right: The Case Against Conscription, Compulsion, and Confiscation," I explain that conscription is murder, compulsion is slavery, and confiscation is looting - no matter what glorified names or lofty justifications of "public purpose" are used to sanctify such barbaric practices in the eyes of the masses. If any kind of coercive public service schemes are implemented in the First World, they will be tantamount to the revival of slavery - with millions of innocent young people becoming the partial property of the government and their time and labor becoming subject to the disposal of the ruling elites.

Recommend this page.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA's Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue CLXII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.