Collectivism

Conservatives claim that "collectivism" invariably leads to totalitarianism.

However, I think ANY system of government can be turned into totalitarianism over time.*

Even socialists, oddly, have a critique of collectivism:

Many socialists, particularly Libertarian socialists, democratic socialists, individualist anarchists and Marxists criticise the concept of collectivism. Some anti-collectivists often argue that all authoritarian and totalitarian societies are (vertically) collectivist in nature. Socialists argue that modern capitalism and private property, which is based on socialized production and joint-stock or corporate ownership structures, is a form of organic collectivism that sharply contrasts with the utopian picture of capitalism painted by its proponents as a system of free individuals exchanging commodities.[26] Socialists argue that true individualism can only exist when individuals are free from coercive social structures to pursue their own interests, which can only be accomplished by common ownership of socialized, productive assets and free access to the means of life so that no individual has coercive power over other individuals.[27]

George Orwell, a dedicated democratic socialist,[28] believed that collectivism resulted in the empowerment of a minority of individuals that led to further oppression of the majority of the population in the name of some ideal such as freedom.

It cannot be said too often - at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough - that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamt of.[29]

Yet in the subsequent sentence he also warns of the tyranny of private ownership over the means of production:

... that a return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the state.[29]

Marxists criticize this use of the term "collectivism," on the grounds that all societies are based on class interests and therefore all societies could be considered "collectivist." The liberal ideal of the free individual is seen from a Marxist perspective as a smokescreen for the collective interests of the capitalist class.[citation needed] Social anarchists argue that "individualism" is a front for the interests of the upper class. As anarchist Emma Goldman wrote:

'rugged individualism'... is only a masked attempt to repress and defeat the individual and his individuality. So-called Individualism is the social and economic laissez-faire: the exploitation of the masses by the [ruling] classes by means of legal trickery, spiritual debasement and systematic indoctrination of the servile spirit ... That corrupt and perverse 'individualism' is the straitjacket of individuality. ... [It] has inevitably resulted in the greatest modern slavery, the crassest class distinctions driving millions to the breadline. 'Rugged individualism' has meant all the 'individualism' for the masters, while the people are regimented into a slave caste to serve a handful of self-seeking 'supermen.' ... Their 'rugged individualism' is simply one of the many pretenses the ruling class makes to mask unbridled business and political extortion.[30]

In response to criticism made by various pro-capitalist groups that claim that public ownership or common ownership of the means of production is a form of collectivism, socialists maintain that common ownership over productive assets does not infringe upon the individual, but is instead a liberating force that transcends the false dichotomy of individualism and collectivism.[31] Socialists maintain that these critiques conflate the concept of private property in the means of production with personal possessions and individual production.


I really like this part: "...common ownership over productive assets does not infringe upon the individual, but is instead a liberating force that transcends the false dichotomy of individualism and collectivism."

I certainly agree that a little bit of collectivism is a good thing, and necessary in any decent civilized society.

*The problem, as I see it, is that greedy sociopaths everywhere take over everything good and decent, and corrupt them. While, clearly the system can always be improved, no human construct of organization can ever be perfect, until the sociopathic nature of mankind is removed.