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Can we balance individualism with collectivism? e.g. balance the rights of a community or society with the rights of an individual.

asked Jan 17 '11 at 20:51

Fareed's gravatar image


retagged Jan 18 '11 at 05:33

Raman's gravatar image

Raman ♦

No. The question assumes that communities or societies have rights. They do not. Only individuals have rights. From those rights they delegate powers to their government to protect their rights. To argue for a balance between the two is to forget that the individual is sovereign and the state is only there for the protection of rights against the initiation of force.

answered Jan 17 '11 at 21:36

c_andrew's gravatar image

c_andrew ♦

When privileges or favors are granted to groups (and improperly termed rights), the end result is necessarily conflict. There is no way to satisfy equally the members of each and every group. Take any example of a "group right" and you will see how it comes at the expense of some other group or individual. Politically you end up with the push-me, pull-you pressure group politics that is today's US government, where bureaucrats pick winners and create losers with every new regulation.

Only a properly defined concept of individual rights (see Ayn Rand) allows for zero conflict among men.

(Jan 18 '11 at 11:28) la_phil ♦ la_phil's gravatar image

The further premise here, that there is an opposition created among men, by individual rights, is equally as mis-guided as the premise that groups have rights, which was dealt with above.

Ayn Rand addresses this issue in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, as follows: The Objectivist ethics holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone. It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash--that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned,... who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value."

This may be a wholly novel concept to those who view man as fundamentally inadequate, and thus inevitably tied to some group. The Objectivist philosophy recognizes the fitness of man to live his life here on earth. Group association offers him huge benefits, but none that creates dependency, none that entails conflicting interests, and none that requires the use of force.

It is not any lack of balance that infects modern society. It is not a failure to embrace multiculturalism, and it is not a paucity of toleration. The degeneracies and violence of modern culture evince the exact opposite. They are the result of mixing the bad with the good. They come from the attempt to justify individual rights on theistic grounds. They are signs of the dilution of scientific and technological achievement with resurrgent superstition. Above all, they are the result of trying to live with no clear moral compass. We can safely eschew "balance," if we hold to our direction.

answered Jan 18 '11 at 00:08

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

edited Jan 19 '11 at 00:40

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Asked: Jan 17 '11 at 20:51

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Last updated: Jan 19 '11 at 00:40