Individualism and Collectivism, a practice in meaningless ideology

In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.

Individualism and collectivism are two vague concepts. Both terms were born as pejoratives rather than descriptive terms, so their confused nature is to be expected. Generally, it is understood that individualism is the emphasis of the individual, his independence and self-realisation, while collectivism is the emphasis of society (“the collective”), its survival and cohesiveness.

One might ask whether the individualist advocates complete separation from society in their search of independence. Tocqueville criticised American individualism for their abandonment of public life, while Burckhardt saw it as a subjective assertion within society.
The collectivist might be questioned on whether the individual (as the unit which forms society) matters at all. Rousseau argued that the individual’s consciousness finds true freedom in the collective, while Marx argued that society shapes man and as such individualism is dependant on the collective.

Society is the categorisation of people who work together, so how could one exist without the other? Is the sacrifice of an individual for the survival of his loved ones bad for individualism? Is the hobby of an individual bad for collectivism? These questions all miss the human essence in discussion.

The collective does influence the individual. Our form of survival through production, i.e. artificial tools, rely on society (the existence of language to pass down information on tools), our collectives are essential in this. However, the self is never destroyed by society, it’s occasionally strengthened or weakened but always adapted to its survival depending on its conditions. The survival of the individual and society both depend on their mutual consideration in both matters of necessity and living. The concepts that either the individual freedom’s can include a lesser abandonment of society or that society’s survival can include a lesser abandonment of the individual’s worry are both unimaginable.

But if we are to remain in the dialectic between individualism and collectivism, what better conclusion could we have than communism?Communism is the greatest expression of independence and self-realisation, yet also of social cohesiveness and survival.

Every individual is fully independent, with no state or ruling class enforcing its will. Society through cooperation takes care of the overabundant mode of production, as such it allows anyone to fully self-realise their being regardless of its need. Work, hobby, education, vacation, these limiting constructs are destroyed in the face of labour, simply allowing the free expression of labour or lack there of. Should an individual find himself needing dependance, whether for physical or mental health, society assists him. If a disaster should happen, individuals must be called upon to sacrifice, and with the spirit of mutual aid which has dominated human society since its birth the individual will be put aside.

Could we call communism individualist or collectivist? We could equally say yes and no. The individual is maximised in his own journey through the survival of the collective, which he influences and commands like every individual which forms it. No collective stands above or below him, but he is not an individual with no outside influence or dependance. In this, communist society is a perfection of individualist and collectivist principles, but within its ideology can’t be accurately described as either.

Labels are simplistic categorisations for our views and understandings of the world, but these categorisations mean nothing. They lack any concrete applications.

It’s time to abandon such meaningless ideology.

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Council Communist

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