Individualism Versus Collectivism


About the author: David is executive director and founder of CEOs for Liberty, a private membership-only group for CEOs, business owners, and executives with a mission to enhance and protect American business exceptionalism. David founded CFL in 2011 given his concer ... [read 's FULL BIO]


Today, in America and around the world, we are being challenged as never before. Once again, we are being asked to accept a failed ideology and political system that our predecessors, the “greatest generation”, rightly rejected. We are being asked to accept the “greater wisdom” of elite central planners and to subject ourselves to their will and whim. We are being asked to believe a fairy tale that, in reality, economically, historically and politically, has been proven a nightmare.

Although you likely will never hear proponents of this ideology use its name, and will more often hear it couched in seemingly harmless and beneficial phrases such as “greater good”, “social justice” and “equality of outcome”, this nightmare cannot be hidden from the light of truth. This nightmare is collectivism.

What is collectivism? Collectivism is the over-arching ideology that is common to socialism, communism, fascism and hybrids of these. It is the common-denominator that defines the core difference between these failed ideologies and individualism, individual liberty, free-markets and capitalism in which the individual, vs. the state, is at power over, and responsible for, their own destiny, choices, and outcomes. Collectivism emphasizes the state’s usurpation of all individual’s natural rights to enable state-determination of human action and latitude in this action.

“Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group—whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called ‘the common good.'” Ayn Rand (1)

“We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” Hillary Clinton (2)

“We understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.” Adolf Hitler (3)

“Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all.” Nikita S. Khrushchev (4)

What is individualism? Individualism emphasizes the individual’s unalienable right to self-determination. Individualism is the only ideology that is able to perpetuate liberty, freedom, free-exchange, freedom of religious belief, and the entrepreneurial environment necessary to sustain optimal human prosperity and opportunity. The pursuit of happiness can only be sustained within the concepts of individualism, and can only be suppressed within the concepts of collectivism.

“The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.” Thomas Jefferson (5)

Our generation’s challenge is simply to reject the nightmare that is collectivism and to sustain individualism and the pursuit of happiness.

David M. Chaney (C) 2013 “Thoughts on Liberty”

(1) “The Only Path to Tomorrow,” Reader’s Digest, Jan, 1944, 8.
(2) Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, June 28, 2004
(3) Adolf Hitler, October 7th, 1933
(4) Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, addressing the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, February 25th, 1956
(5) Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816

Posting Policy
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read more.
  • Thank you for this plain speaking article. It is much needed information written on a level that most thinking people should be able to comprehend, if they are willing.
    Has anyone who supports collectivism ever really been willing to define what the “common good” is and show in actual achievements what has been made better anywhere in the world by collectivism in any form? How has the world become a better, happier, safer, more productive place under this ideology? Does collectivism bring more food, water, clothing, shelter, creativity, and safety to the people living in the collective? I would like these “collectivist mindset” people to give concrete examples from anywhere in the world — if they can.
    If all the individuals are sacrificed for the “common good” there won’t be anyone left for the elite to rule over. I wonder if they’ve ever thought of that.

  • Susan

    Excellent article.

    What needs to be added is the concept of “individuality” comes from the Christian Worldview which gives dignity and worth to every single human being, even the unborn, since we are all created by God in His image. It was no accident that a Christian Worldview was the one that formed the USA. Nothing else is compatible with Natural Law Theory and the idea of individual Rights. Pantheism is a collective….as is Marxism, etc. and paganism can use human beings as a “Means to and End”…..which true Christian Ethics never can do, which leads to the idea of Individual Rights and we are our own masters—never to be used as slaves.

  • Robert S Moulds

    I believe that individual freedom is important to defend if only because the great effort in order have liberal democracy with the separation of church and state. It must not be lost to religious zealots nor tyrants less the gifts of the enlightenment are lost for a long time. I’m not against the greater good or community it is just I resent having it imposed on me by those who say they are my betters. For example I prefer wearing dresses to pants but I butch up just because I accept the rule of the majority. But if I had a choice I’d wear the mini dresses and let the women wear the pants if they wanted to or dresses if they wanted to any day even if the women were armed and I was not (my purse is too small).