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This may be a 'isn't it obvious what we(objectivists) think?' type question; BUT I think it is like a long terms and conditions where although you have an idea, you want the precise boundaries, but the information is in different places in the contract, or not in a formal language; and so you ask a lawyer or consultant to provide what you need out of that information pool. I think this is one of those situations. I would like to have it explained how collectivism precisely negates at least as many, of reason, the individual, freedom, as Rand say it does.

asked Sep 21 '12 at 19:50

Adeikov's gravatar image


In past postings, this questioner has advanced the idea of a distinction between voluntary collectives and compulsory ones. The voluntary collectives allow members to leave at will if the members are dissatisfied in any way with the collective, whereas the compulsory collectives rule by force, effectively turning their members into slaves of the collective. Ayn Rand, of course, was concerned primarily with the compulsory collectives, which have been by far the most prominent and damaging historically. Refer, for example, to the topic of "Collectivism" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Refer, also, to Atlas Shrugged, especially the story of the 20th Century Motor Company as told to Dagny by a transient who lived through it. (That passage is reprinted in For the New Intellectual.) We the Living concretizes life in a compulsory collective in even greater detail, and Anthem highlights the essence of the collective versus the individual in a more essentialized form. The Fountainhead carries the conflict of the individual versus the collective still further, highlighting its effects in man's soul. There are plenty of references which the questioner can read for himself in Ayn Rand's writings, but I also know that this questioner in the past has tended to prefer direct discussion and argumentation with other people over individual self-study (in perfect conformity to the "collective way," whether the questioner consciously realizes it or not).

Meanwhile, voluntary collectives, to the extent that they exist or have existed at all, tend to be very short-lived, since a free market can satisfy individuals' quest for happiness and prosperity far better than any collective, resulting in a strong incentive (and freedom) for individuals to move elsewhere, abandoning the collective when they see what is possible under a more individualistic system of freedom of production and trade guided by reason (an individual process), with equal protection of individual rights for all.

I have also noticed a tendency in collectivist writings to assume that a compulsory collective could somehow operate as a voluntary one, i.e., the members would not, in fact, be free to leave, but would act as if they truly want to remain in the collective and are happy to live in it and contribute to it. Ayn Rand strongly disputes any such view of compulsory collectives, and she knew about compulsory collectives firsthand. Compulsory collectives inevitably have a dictator who rules individuals by constant terror, keeping them continually fearing for their lives and terrified of what capricious act of random violence might be unleashed against whom next, so that the dictator can continue feel that he is in control. If the questioner disputes this view of compulsory collectives, let him observe the history of actual collectives throughout the world, and read Ayn Rand's accounts of collectivism, as well. Few observers, particularly in the West, can begin to describe collective life as graphically as Ayn Rand does. They've never experienced it.

answered Sep 22 '12 at 01:55

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

It is an individual choice how I learn and it is not limited by a binary one way or the other. I choose what works best for me at that time and tomorrow what works best may change; I may be in such a way as to devote some study time to Rand's literature. But I can be fragile sometimes; I need to be in the zone so to speak. And I have not been reading big novels (1000 pages big) for a few years, these days I have fragilities of motivation.

(Sep 22 '12 at 11:23) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

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Asked: Sep 21 '12 at 19:50

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Last updated: Sep 22 '12 at 11:26