Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Collectivism (Wikipedia)

Collectivism is any philosophic, political, religious, economic, or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human. Everything is produced by society, so everything and everybody should be controlled by and/or belong to society, which in practical terms is the government. Collectivism is a basic cultural element that exists as the reverse of individualism in human nature (in the same way high context culture exists as the reverse of low context culture). Collectivist orientations stress the importance of cohesion within social groups (such as an "in-group", in what specific context it is defined) and in some cases, the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists often focus on community, society, nation or country. The government is seen as the primary means toward achieving true freedom and justice. Thus they believe that the more power the government has, the more empowered the people are. It has been used as an element in many different and diverse types of government and political, economic and educational philosophies throughout history and most human societies in practice contain elements of both individualism and collectivism. Some examples of collectivist cultures include Pakistan, India and Japan.

Collectivism can be divided into horizontal (or egalitarian) collectivism in which government typically owns the means of production (which necessarily includes the people themselves) e.g. socialismcommunism andvertical (or hierarchical) collectivism in which private property is tolerated so long as it serves the State e.g. fascism. Horizontal collectivism stresses collective decision-making among equal individuals, and is thus usually based on decentralization and egalitarianism. In practice however, the masses are not considered intelligent or informed enough to accept collectivization, so a Vanguard of educated and wise people must have wide powers to protect the leadership and polices from pressure. Vertical collectivism is based on hierarchical structures of power and on moral and cultural conformity, and is therefore based on centralization and hierarchy. In all types of collectivism, leadership and policies cannot be subject to a popular mandate, because when the economy suffers setbacks, the people might vote for people who would undermine the collective by pushing for individual liberties instead. A cooperative enterprise would be an example of privately owned and operated horizontal collective, but as it is voluntary would be competing with companies that operate with profit-oriented structures, they would need to make sure to offer goods and services that consumers would want and at competitive prices. Amilitary hierarchy would be an example of vertical collectivism.[1]

Culture and politicsEdit

Collectivism is a basic element of human culture that exists independently of any one political system and has existed since the founding of human society ten thousand years ago. It is a feature that all societies use to some degree or another and therefore an inherent feature of human nature. For example, monarchical societies often had a system of "social ranks" which were collectivist because the social rank one had or did not have was more important than his or her individual will, and the specific rank in question could only be overridden in very limited cases. An example of collectivism in more modern times are the police and fire departments. All individuals (except in rare cases) are expected to pay taxes to these organizations and their will has been overridden in making them do so under law, thus they are collectivist institutions. We also see, that in regards to a police department, an individual can be detained whether he or she wishes to or not, overriding his or her will as an example of collectivism.

An example of a collectivist political system is representative democracy, as in such systems, after voting occurs and a leader has been chosen by the populace everyone is expected to accept that individual as their leader regardless of whether they voted for them or not. For example, in the United States Presidential election of 2012 Barack Obama received a majority of the electoral college votes cast, and the opposition was expected to submit to letting him lead them whether or not they had originally voted for him. The will of the "collective" (President Obama voters) mattered more and is considered "collectivist" because ultimately, the totality of decision by the voters in the country, expressed through the electoral college system, was more important than the will of any single individual in that context.

Though all human societies contain elements of both individualism and collectivism by definition (if not they would become unstable), some societies are on the whole more collectivist and some on the whole more individualist. In collectivist societies, the group is considered more important than any one individual and groups in such societies are expected to "take care" of their members and individuals are expected to "take care" of the group (usually called an "in-group") that they are a member of. Harmony within these groups is considered paramount. For example, it may be considered "inappropriate" for a member of an in-group to openly criticize another in public (though they are often allowed to do so in private). Collectivism does have its advantages as compared to individualist societies as people in collectivist societies almost always have access to a "group" and as such are known to be considered "happier", "less lonely", and have lower rates of mental illness in studies done by psychologists and political scientists. People in individual societies are known to feel "lonely" at some times or another compared to their collectivist counterparts. Many people also find it easier, to live in a society where social harmony is stressed and groups by definition remain more cohesive than in individualist societies where groups are observed to be inherently less stable. However, it depends on the preference of an individual if they wish to live in a collectivist society like Japan or an individualist one like the United States. One type could not be said to be better than another and both are known tce of human nature.

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