Order Berlin Wall Pieces from the Communist Era
Copyright 2004 by Roberto Diego
These excerpts represent the first 12 pages of Mr. Diego's 57 page essay, Individualism. To purchase the entire essay, go to:
The New Century Marketing Concepts Secure Online Catalog
Price $4.95 - All Major Credit Cards Accepted
Copyright 2002 Roberto Diego. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Comments or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The sections listed below are not shown on this page but are available through purchase of the entire document.
"The person is the locus of virtue."
--Frank S. Meyer
I am gender-neutral when it comes to discussing the individual; but rather than burden the reader with an endless array of “he/shes,” I have elected to use the masculine term. No gender bias is intended or implied.
In my pamphlet, A PRIMER AGAINST RACISM, I stated that collectivism “has been the scourge of the 20th Century and would devastate the 21st if not defeated as a philosophical and political ideal.” This is quite a charge against an institution that is seen as benevolent and proper for man. In this work, I intend to investigate the very real differences between collectivism and individualism in order to show that collectivism is indeed a scourge and that individualism is the only hope.
Most people today have never been overtly confronted with the idea of collectivism. Most do not know that it is a philosophical ideal used by some intellectuals to identify a movement whose goal is to mold man into a docile slave. The idea that individualism is a viable alternative to collectivism has seldom been discussed though it is crucial for the survival of our way of life. Indeed, most people have simply absorbed collectivism from their parents and teachers without even hearing the word "collectivism." Most believe that belonging to a group, participating in group activities and fostering group goals are good. Most, therefore, see group membership as a civilizing influence in man's history. Unwittingly, most of us are collectivists.
Does the absence of debate about the nature of “collectivism” indicate a conspiracy of some sort? Are our cultural leaders attempting to pull a fast one, so to speak, on each generation, merely assuming that collectivist ideas should be taken for granted without even offering a viable option? Is it possible that we have been duped about this important debate for centuries and that each of us have been thrust, without choice, into a collectivist universe as if there were no other option? It would seem so. Indeed, though the advocates of collectivism have never offered a viable justification for their views, we are seldom allowed to consider any alternatives to collectivism in an open dispassionate debate. The collectivists rule the day because they control the culture. Even in a society where freedom of speech is held in high regard, there are few that are openly advocating an alternative to collectivism.
Rather, men are told that we must work together to solve social problems, that no man is an island, that men should help each other and that it is better to give than to receive. That collectivism has devastated more lives than egotistical capitalists has been ignored. That entrepreneurial capitalism has done more good worldwide than collectivist governmental bureaucracies is never acknowledged. That collectivism is responsible for most of the evil that humanity has brought into this world during historical times is a scandalous omission seldom discussed. Indeed, in a society of free speech and free inquiry, we have been forced by the authority of our religious institutions and by the self-interest of our political leaders to avoid investigation of the very real impact that collectivism has had on societies. We have been given, from our first days on earth, nothing less than glowing propaganda about the value of collective goals and ideals while we are enslaved for such goals that deliver none of the promised benefits.
Collectivism is not a benevolent idea. Hatred and strife are all that it achieves. The best way to understand it is to look at its most primitive form: ritualism. Ritualism is the social system for bands of people, closely related, who live in small geographical areas. By understanding ritualism as one of the most fundamental and telling forms of collectivism, we can understand the negative premises that comprise modern collectivism. The key tenets of ritualism are 1. Rule by one man, 2. Loyalty to the tribe, 3. Commonly held beliefs or myths, and 4. Ritual practice.
In nature, animals that are incapable of surviving alone congregate into herds and packs. These forms of organization help in survival against predators and competitors. It is likely, that man evolved from a creature that ran in packs. Much like the wolf or lion, he hunted and lived in a pack, using the principle of strength in numbers as a survival device. Because he could count on the cooperation of fellow pack members, he could be a more effective hunter – he could protect himself and his family against other predators and he could survive. The pack, and the form of organization it represented, was a valid form for primitive man because it leveraged these principles of cooperation and strength in numbers.
Yet, a primitive tribe is essentially alone in the wilderness walking a fine line between survival and destruction. In many ways, the tribe is one of the most primitive and dangerous forms of social organization because its struggle for survival is made difficult by its primitive forms of thought – concrete-bound thinking patterns lacking abstractions, as reflected in religion and primitive technology, an absence of writing and advanced verbal (conceptual) communication.
To survive, the tribe believes that it must allow the wisest member among them to make the major decisions for the tribe. Yet, most tribes languish in primitiveness because the leaders are merely followers of the "sacred" ideas that made them primitive in the first place: mysticism and brute force. In effect, the primitive tribe has not gotten beyond the period in its history when it formed, when all forms of expression were mere metaphors about its earliest events. This is due to the fact that the tribal members have not been able to advance to the level of verbal and written expression. Indeed, many of them live in the environs of huge temple ruins without understanding what is written on the temple walls – because they lost the intellectual foundation that was once there. To this extent they are children in the wilderness.
In some tribes, the chief must be the physically strongest member. Allowing the tribe to be led by a physically strong leader is thought to be the most efficient method of organization because it places responsibility upon one person who will allow no division or dissent. This brute will, through his leadership and power, presumably transfer that strength to the other members of the tribe.
For a primitive man that did not survive totally on the use of his mind and technology, cooperation and this early form of collectivism seemed viable and appropriate. As time passed, he developed into a creature that used ever-advancing knowledge and technology to affect his survival. He evolved into a thinking creature, an individual. Most likely, man needed to continue to function as a pack animal while his reasoning capacity developed and evolved. But somehow, this principle of strength in numbers became tied to the modern principle of collectivism and became, not only a requirement of survival, but also a method of enslavement.
Loyalty to the tribe is a cardinal requirement of any tribal member. The tribe cannot survive if there is dissent among any of its members. When survival is as precarious as they find it, then dissent is traitorous. Other tribes are enemies, devil-worshippers, inferior and hated destroyers. To kill an enemy is the highest achievement, and ruthlessness is the highest virtue. In fact, many tribes consider themselves "chosen," by their deity as His special people to be aided and protected. Anyone who does not exhibit loyalty to the tribe is an evil outsider who challenges the deity, casts evil spells, and does not believe in the special character of the tribe. This makes this person an enemy--worthy of death or defeat.
The tribe must also have solidarity in ideas. Each member must believe in the same god, hold the same ideas, work toward the same goals. When individuals in a group hold the same beliefs, the leader can appeal to ideas that would foster the "survival" of the tribe. A collective "will" is developed that presumably makes the tribe stronger. How these beliefs are derived is a matter of speculation. What is relevant is that they imply that the universe is antithetical to man, that scarcity breeds the need for struggle. Therefore, tribal solidarity is essential.
The primitive lifestyle is not as idyllic as often portrayed. The psychology of the primitive mind sees the universe as barren, destructive, and against man's survival. Such a view creates fear-ridden mentalities that virtually cannot stand to be alive. The thought processes of the primitive are wholly group based. Every thought is of "we," every injunction is a duty for "us," every enemy is "our” enemy, every god is "our" god, every belief, "our" belief. There is simply no such idea as the individual and to question anything held by the group is a complete impossibility. Even a personal wish, if any exists, must be rationalized as a wish to help others. The primitive mind is never told that the suffering in life is created by the very ideas it holds.
Ritual practices allow for the release of physical energy and the pooling of that energy toward the goals of the tribe. The goal of ritual practice is not only to reenact the lives of the gods and impart moral themes (laws) handed down from the gods, but also to allow each person the opportunity to declare himself a member of the tribe. Ritual practices allow each person to fit into the collective and thereby to judge himself a full-fledged rightful member. Ritual joining and collective cultural paradigms involving the "acting out" of ancient myths, are achieved by constant repetition of actions or words. Such joining makes the person feel that since he does the same thing others do, equally as well as they, then he must be all right, he is good. Most often such rituals are not that difficult to imitate.
Ritual practices, designed to pay homage to, and therefore appease, the gods, are replete with what I call "collective masks." An outgrowth of ritual, the ritual mask, is a menacing or angry look on the face of group members, parents, peers and ritual leaders. Such masks create the flight/flight/freeze response, humiliation and physical anxiety. These masks communicate anger to the individual and engender conformity. The individual must act so as to avoid being attacked by the menacing monster, the god represented by the mask and the collective.
In mythology, when the light-bearer, Prometheus, succeeded in bringing light to mankind, the response of Zeus was anger and vengeance. Prometheus was thrown back down to earth and then punished mercilessly. Thereafter, Prometheus became the symbol or paradigm for a crucial lesson for man: don’t attempt to be as good as the gods or else you will be punished forever. The battle against the individual by the collective was thereby begun and thereafter man became the neglected pawn whose role was to do as told. Weapons of war became the technology of the day, the means for the imposition of “god’s vengeance” against the collective’s enemies and those who would act as they wanted. Envy was let loose. The only question was: who was god’s representative?
The problem with understanding prehistory and mythology and in relating it to modern times is that the people who created these myths were obviously under extreme stress and survival pressure. Much like children they were groping for understanding and security in their lives. The myths that now form our collectivist and paradigmatic institutions were often false interpretations of natural forces with some good and many negative consequences. Civilizations may have been created by “law-givers” who taught men how to “behave” but there was also much treachery, looting and murderous vengeance imposed by the “law-givers” in order to create order. And there was much “misbehaving” by individuals who were, like normal humans, seeking to understand their own natures. The individual who was trying to become a thinking being was given ritual, commandments and restrictive moral codes rather than taught how to think. It was thought that the best practice was to sacrifice your best to god in order to find collective justice. Questioning the validity of the concept of sacrifice to the group was out of the question.
Prehistory was the birth-time of collectivism because primitive man simply didn’t know any better. The question is: what do we “know” now?
Modern collectivism is the “philosophically validated" argument for primitive ritualism. After the Enlightenment, philosophers reinvented collectivism to retain the elements of ritualism, converting the tribes into races or nations and attaching a modern philosophical flavor to the old fundamentals.
Here the tribal chief becomes the government or dictator. Like the tribal chief, the collective must have someone whose views represent the collective mind, someone with the prestige and power to effect the goals of the collective. Collectivism attempts to empower one individual who makes its myths real and can effect the survival of the group. In a wider sense, collectivism fosters dictatorship because the members believe that the will of the group is best implemented by the will of one person. For our purposes, it is important to recognize that a philosophy that fosters a collective identity as a primary component of self-validation necessarily must foster an unthinking acceptance by the individual. This leads to passivity in individuals and opens the door to dictatorship and storm trooper thugs as in Nazi Germany.
The dictator does not want confident, happy individuals, living in freedom without fear. He wants unhappy, fearful, humble, obedient and unassuming automatons. Necessarily, the collective will train its members early about the value of sacrifice and the guilt that they must feel if they challenge the collective. This idea pits a person against himself and is responsible for many of the psychological problems of modern man. The existence of psychological aberration falls squarely at the foot of collectivism. Only debilitating mediocrity or rebellious non-participation can be the outcome of a situation where the individual must sacrifice his mind, his work and his ability to the will of the leader. It is the cause of the decay that afflicts collectivist societies.
(Consider the opposite view. If a philosophy fosters individualism and independence, it would necessarily foster a form of government and society that gives the individual choice and dignity. Each person would be able to question the views and actions of the leaders of society and would be a deterrent against the formation of dictatorship.)
The most common collectivist metaphor is that of the ant. The ant, it seems, is the perfect automaton. It lives solely for the sake of the colony. It operates automatically and everything it does is designed to advance the collective. The ant performs its duty without aberration and without any semblance of volitional control. It simply does what it is supposed to do. For the collectivist, the ant is the perfect creature, the ideal. If only man were able to see himself as part of the greater whole, as only an instrument through which the group is able to survive, then we would have the perfect society. If only man would do what he should do.
This view, part and parcel of the collectivist view of man, indicates how strongly is the effort in collectivist societies to instill group loyalty and devotion. The individual is required to possess only one form of identity--a collective identity because only this view will perpetuate the goals of the collective. An individual identity would necessarily negate the collective and destroy it, just as one rogue ant would cause harm to the entire colony. This is because a collectivist sees his group as the only true representative of humanity. Therefore, to the collective, the individual is the enemy, different, evil, hated and inferior.
Postulating evil enemies helps motivate the members of the collective to fight for the goals of the group. The collective therefore keeps a stream of propaganda flowing against any other group. Prejudice, over generalization, and lies are its infectious tools. It also does everything possible to whip up a common paranoia, collective pride, collective identity and collective superiority. This is why warfare is inevitable in a collectivist society: for the collectivist the chorus of opinion found in the group is the fundamental “sounding board” and authorizer. This makes collectivism the source of both paranoia and personal conflict.
Inevitably, the collective must engage in a struggle for world dominance. The greater and more sinister the enemies, the greater must be the struggle against them, the more hated they must be and the more cruel the effort to eradicate them. If we look at history, we see that the largest collectivist systems, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, were responsible for the most vicious efforts to dominate the world--and to eliminate whole nations and "races." Both were masters in the use of propaganda and the big lie. Both considered the entire world their enemy. Both exploited their people to such a degree, that they needed to conquer other nations to maintain a semblance of power.
The myths of many primitive cultures postulate a cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil. The forces of good, of course, are those that represent the collective. The ritual "acting-out" of these myths forms the foundation of many primitive cultures to such an extent that even today, most festival celebrations are celebrations of that victory of good over evil. Surprisingly, many of history’s biggest wars were fought between religions that worshipped the same deity under different names.
Today, one of the most common rituals is war. Through war, either by means of sports competition or bloody nation battles, the individual tribal member confirms his role in society and his value. He fosters the values of the team or nation, proves his value and validates through victory that the group is good.
It can even be said that war itself is an "acting-out" of these same myths, a ritual that allows man to subconsciously repeat the cosmic struggle found in ancient cultural paradigms. Indeed, it is not surprising that the more primitive the culture, the more warlike are it's men. Their greatest hero is the god of war, Mars. Indeed, the more collectivist the culture, the angrier are the men and the more submissive are the women.
Most people are exposed early in life to the precepts of some religion. Such religions give modern man the same messages that primitive religions gave. Men learn that only God is sacred, that they are on this earth to satisfy or serve Him. They learn that other religions are inherently wrong. They learn that “we” must struggle against and attempt to convert anyone not of our religion. Some religions require open warfare against “infidels."
The modern equivalent of the ritual collective mask is disapproval from peers and authority figures. The modern day punishment is jail, job termination, or in more benign collectivist societies, disenfranchisement. We are taught that the individual is inherently evil, of this earth, born with Original Sin. His role is to sacrifice for others, be meek and humble before God, fear God, follow commandments or he will end up in tortuous hell for eternity. Men are taught to fight their sexual and worldly natures and feel guilty for experiencing pleasure.
A pervasive idea in our world culture is Original Sin. It is the notion that man is fundamentally imperfect, flawed, and doomed to failure. It comes from mythology, where the first man and woman, born into perfection, committed the sin of defying God, and were damned forever for that defiance.
The idea of Original Sin explains for many people why man does not perform his role in what is considered by many to be a perfect political system: collectivism. In essence, Original Sin is an apology for collectivism. The argument goes that because man is imperfect, he is not good enough to make communism, socialism and statism work.
Most of us are fed the doctrine of Original Sin from early childhood. We are supposed to conclude that there is something flawed about man, about ourselves. Yet, the doctrine of Original Sin explains nothing. It says that the reason for man's imperfection is that he is imperfect. Simply stated, it is an insult that sends individuals toward a dead end in their relations with their inner selves and others. What is an explanation for failure must also be an explanation for success. It precludes happiness, well-being, and success. Being alive is failure under this view. This doctrine that is supposed to help us understand man leads us to a lack of understanding--it is an easy (and false) explanation for the issues about man that we do not understand.
There is no Original Sin. Man cannot be guilty by nature. He can only be man, and he is what he is. The idea of a sin implies an action and man cannot commit a sin by virtue of being born, since that act harms no one and brings nothing evil into the earth. Sin, a bad act, can only be committed by conscious willful action. Original Sin is merely an apology for the failures of collectivism. It seeks to blame man for the evil created by collectivism. Original Sin is the original mind destroyer.
Free will is the idea that in morality, each human being has a choice to do either right or wrong. It asserts that when a person must make a choice between different courses of action, he can freely choose the course he will take after analyzing the facts. Consider the opposite attitude that involves making decisions on the basis of whether they will make God angry and one can see the dilemma in which most collectivists find themselves. Turn those fears into fear of authority figures and/or peers and you have the prescription for “un-free” will, the idea that moral choices should be based upon the opinions of others.
More fundamentally free will holds that man must choose to engage his mind in the thinking that will secure his survival. This implies a mind capable of evaluating reality and of reasoning and decision-making. It further holds that man can either initiate the process of thinking or he can evade that choice and let chance determine the correctness of a particular course of action – the way most men live today.
Free will is not a static, mystical idea or gift from God, as is sometimes supposed. In fact, the opposite of Original Sin is free will. It assumes that man is clean morally and capable of correct action. It assumes that he can improve his life by making the correct choices. It provides the foundation for a true self-esteem, since self-esteem is an outgrowth, fundamentally, of a properly reasoning mind.
Free will functions best in the independent mind, the mind not encumbered by fear of the collective (and all the physical discomforts that this fear creates). The collectivist is a person whose capacity for free will, clear thinking, is distorted by fear of the collective. Anytime fear is a factor in moral choice, a person becomes motivated by the fear rather than the requirements of reality and virtually anything goes.
Collectivism, like Original Sin, is the enemy of free will. To be constantly focused on what other people require, what other people think, is to have a corrupted capacity for proper choice. A person with this focus becomes a victim of his self-humiliation, whims and emotions, distorted as they might be, and does not have the full capacity to make rational judgments. The person who feels compelled to ask others what is the proper thing to do is an "otherist."
The critical question, however, is how did such an idea like Original Sin become so influential? How did it become such a huge cultural paradigm and why are people blind to the psychological harm it creates? Perhaps it is because it is a moral crutch, an explanation for failure and an excuse to deny the thought process that man needs in order to survive. The otherist believes, quite wrongly, that relying on others for knowledge and proper action is the safest approach to morality. But, this approach is a dead-end fraught with confusion and failure. Because the otherist has not validated his knowledge, he fails at implementing correct action. Blame it on Original Sin. It must be Original Sin, because the individual has no choice in the bad choices toward which his fear and humiliation lead him.
The otherist lives with confusion and difficulty, spending much time reclaiming himself from the negative results he has brought about. The independent person does not fear the collective. He is free to consider the facts and judge with his own, and only his own mind. Proper action is therefore much easier to determine and implement because he has an idea of how he derived his knowledge and how it will affect reality. Moral certainty is much easier to accomplish and principled, value-directed action is the outcome. The individualist’s life is much easier because he has fewer failures and fewer problems from which to extricate himself.
Many children and adults deal with chronic anxiety (chronic fight/flight response) by fixating their life choices on a particular set of acts or attitudes (rituals). These fixations tend to limit and restrict the individual by providing rationalizations that enable action and denial at once, thereby giving the individual the impression that the chronic anxiety has been dealt with. In fact, oftentimes the rationalizations are self-destructive and become habitual and/or addictive. Because the source of the pain, chronic anxiety, becomes lost in denials, the individual moves forward without the ability to reason logically about his choices. The result is a form of moral autism.
This complete document of this essay is available in PDF format by email. Price $4.95
To purchase the full manuscript online go to
The New Century Marketing Concepts Secure Online Catalog.
Order Berlin Wall Pieces from the Communist Era
We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Discover Card.
| Roberto Diego |