What is it to be ‘collective’? Well, in my opinion, to support collectivism in any way one must have the vaguest semblance of the idea of community. You might spot someone riding the bus, making friendly chatter with the lady in front, or the man to his left – all regular fellow travellers perhaps. Alternatively, you might see the individualist cutting up other road users in his no-share car, or careering though a muddy puddle fully intending to splash the ‘plebs’ at the bus stop. Now, this may seem terribly one sided, however, I truly struggle to find another way – perhaps it’s because I’ve grown up knowing that being a collectivist and striving for communal benefit does not in any way detract from my own individuality. Look, individuality is a good thing, we all need the freedom to have our own individuality. Individuality gave us Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Jedward… oh, hang on… You get what I mean. Individualism has gifted us the likes of Hitler, Stalin, that bloke currently managing Man U – think of it as a Voldemort moment – He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
Seriously though, collectivism is in our DNA – our collective DNA, you might say. You know, Adam and Eve and all that. Since time, immemorial human beings, and other species, have gathered together in families, friends, villages and cities. Have you ever noticed how on royal occasions there’s always a handful of undesirables who get out the bunting and stick up a flag to celebrate, thinking that they’re part of a collective (we might wish they weren’t – or at least not part of ours, but there you go. We’re all humans, and if we don’t have ’em them, who will?). Who didn’t feel stupidly (and prematurely) excited when we all thought that football might actually be coming home. Mocking the royalists and football hopefuls (myself included) aside, my point is we can’t get away from it. We are collectivists by nature – we know what’s best for us, and ultimately, it’s good to have the safety net provided by it.
Think of all the services and amenities in our lives today that are based around the collective principle; 999 services, schools, NHS – the list is endless (but will be rapidly shortening if the Tories get their way). Every ‘individualist’ betrays their cause when they’re sitting in A&E at two in the morning with some kind of booze-fuelled injury – a scenario that may be familiar to some of you. Another example of collectivism around us, with which many of you might identify, is sitting in the pub on a Saturday, perhaps with your Dad to watch the Liverpool match, observing a ramshackle group of over- excitable ‘old dears’ yelling at the TV screen or breaking into out-of-tune choruses of You’ll Never Walk Alone – yet always seeming to know exactly when it is their turn to get another round for the table. If this does not exemplify community and the collective, I think you’d be hard pressed to find something that does.
To conclude, I think I’ve made my point. Whether you like it or not, you are a part of a collective – It helps give you a part of your identity. We should all celebrate our society; for what it is, what it gives us and what we could make it in the future. Remind me, was it Thatcher who said, ‘there’s no such thing as society’?
Written by Olivia Burns