When this issue’s theme first came out, my thoughts first gravitated to writing my article on individual vs collectivism in terms of the economy. However, this article is going to focus on individualism vs collectivism from a social point of view, the key idea being that collectivism increases discrimination in society, as a result of categorising groups.
Firstly, the collectivists on the right increase discrimination in society. Nationalist figures are those who are fiercely proud their country and their people, and want to put these people first, not other countries and the peoples from these other countries. The definition of nationalism varies to a rather large extent, with some definitions suggesting that it is the belief that one’s country is superior to another, while others suggest it is solely about doing the best for one’s country which perhaps requires exclusion of countries. However, in many nations, it leads to an ideology of superiority to others, and thus discrimination towards other ethnic groups. An example in current politics is Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, putting the USA’s priorities ahead of any other priorities, which has led to the USA travel suspension on the predominantly Muslim countries, a sign of discrimination. This, along with many other examples, shows that Trump has a collectivist view with regards to the American people, often discriminating against groups outside of the USA. His “Them vs Us” collectivist mentality is usually what causes his discriminatory views.
The collectivists on the political left all denounce Trump’s policies. Yet they are guilty of the same discrimination, as a result of their collectivist views. Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats use all women shortlists, and the Liberal Democrats’ local parties will be allowed to vote on whether they want to impose shortlists solely made up of candidates who are women, disabled, LGBT+, or black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) by 2020. In addition, there have been calls from some Labour backbenchers and party members to introduce BAME shortlists. This is discrimination. Justified or not, this discrimination comes from the collectivisation of ethnic groups, groups based on sex, groups based on sexuality and gender, and groups based on disabilities. This is not equality. Instead of electing their parliamentary candidates because of their skills and political opinions, they are chosen on the basis of something arbitrary. Now, I’m not suggesting that supporters on the left are Trump-like, but there are similarities between their collectivist views and discrimination. The essence of discrimination is collectivism. It defines people, not according to their views or talents, but according to their physiognomy and the groups of which they are attached. Arguing that someone should get an easy run into a job because they are from a group that is thought to be underprivileged is precisely to define them by their physiognomy.
The comparative is individualism. Individualism is the least discriminatory ideology, as it
sees everyone as an individual. They do not follow the identity politics of which the
collectivists are in favour; they judge each candidate (for any role) on their experience, their views and their skills. On a slightly different point, the argument used by individualists is that of the Conservative Party which has produced two female Prime Ministers without affirmative action, while the Labour Party has not – but I digress. Individualists are also against the collectivist, nationalist Trump-like rhetoric, as they believe in individuals, rather than nationalistic views.
It is clear that to help eradicate discrimination from society, it is important to treat everyone as individuals, rather than as part of certain groups, which is the mistake the collectivists make, constantly dividing society into different groups of representation. Only the individualists are the ones willing to see everyone as an individual.
Written by Rob White