Collectivism
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Collectivism

Collectivism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the group and its interests. Collectivism is the opposite of individualism. Collectivists focus on communal, societal, or national interests in various types of political, economic, and educational systems.

Typology

Collectivism has been characterized as "horizontal collectivism", wherein equality is emphasized and people engage in sharing and cooperation, or "vertical collectivism", wherein hierarchy is emphasized and people submit to specific authorities.[1] Horizontal collectivism is based on the assumption that each individual is more or less equal, while vertical collectivism assumes that individuals are fundamentally different from each other.[2]Social anarchist Alexander Berkman, who was a horizontal collectivist, argued that equality does not imply a lack of unique individuality, but an equal amount of freedom and equal opportunity to develop one's own skills and talents.

Horizontal collectivists tend to favor democratic decision-making, while vertical collectivists believe in a more strict chains of commands. Horizontal collectivism stresses common goals, interdependence and sociability. Vertical collectivism stresses the integrity of the in-group (e.g. the family or the nation, for example), expects individuals to sacrifice themselves for the in-group if necessary, and promotes competition between different in-groups.[2]

Culture

Collectivism is one of the four dimensions of Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory.

In a collectivist culture, an individual identifies himself or herself as with a group. He or she believes that the desire and goals of their group are more important than anyone else's individual ideas. Thus, he or she is more connected to his or her group and care less about personal goals as an individual and more about combined goals as a whole group. In a collectivist society, people value their ingroup as a whole, taking into account how their actions give a positive or negative impression to outgroups while staying tightly knit with their ingroup.[3]

Several studies[4][5] have shown the consistent impact that collectivist cultures and individualist cultures have on the willingness to cooperate with others during group activities. Collectivists are more likely to accommodate when in an individualistic culture and change their behaviors based on their situations better than individualists.

There are two types of collectivism: institutional collectivism and in-group collectivism. Institutional collectivism is the idea that a work environment creates a sense of collectivist nature due to similar statuses and similar rewards, such as earning the same salary. In-group collectivism is the idea that an individual's chosen group of people, such as family or friend groups, create a sense of collectivist nature.[6] In-group collectivism can be referred to as family collectivism.[7]

Collectivist anarchism

Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism) is a revolutionary[8]anarchist doctrine that advocates the abolition of both the state and private ownership of the means of production. It instead envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves.[8]

For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers will revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production.[8] Once collectivization takes place, money would be abolished to be replaced with labour notes and workers' salaries would be determined, in democratic organizations of voluntary membership, based on job difficulty and the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase goods in a communal market.[9] This contrasts with anarcho-communism where wages would be abolished, and where individuals would take freely from a storehouse of goods "to each according to his need." Thus, Bakunin's "Collectivist Anarchism," notwithstanding the title, is seen as a blend of individualism and collectivism.[10]

Criticisms

Liberal criticisms

There are two main objections to collectivism from the ideas of liberal individualists, such as classical liberals, libertarians, and Objectivists. One is that collectivism stifles individuality and diversity by insisting upon a common social identity, such as nationalism or some other group focus. The other is that collectivism is linked to statism and the diminution of freedom when political authority is used to advance collectivist goals.[11]

Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises wrote on collectivism:

On the other hand the application of the basic ideas of collectivism cannot result in anything but social disintegration and the perpetuation of armed conflict. It is true that every variety of collectivism promises eternal peace starting with the day of its own decisive victory and the final overthrow and extermination of all other ideologies and their supporters. ... As soon as a faction has succeeded in winning the support of the majority of citizens and thereby attained control of the government machine, it is free to deny to the minority all those democratic rights by means of which it itself has previously carried on its own struggle for supremacy.[12]

Ayn Rand, creator of the philosophy of Objectivism and a particularly vocal opponent of collectivism, argued that it led to totalitarianism. She argued that "collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group," and that "throughout history, no tyrant ever rose to power except on the claim of representing the common good." She further claimed that "horrors which no man would dare consider for his own selfish sake are perpetrated with a clear conscience by altruists who justify themselves by the common good."[13] (The "altruists" Rand refers to are not those who practice simple benevolence or charity, but rather those who believe in Auguste Comte's ethical doctrine of altruism which holds that there is "a moral and political obligation of the individual to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of a greater social good.").[14]

Socialist criticisms

Libertarian socialists, individualist anarchists, and De Leonists criticise the concept of collectivism, and argue that modern capitalism and private property, which is based on joint-stock or corporate ownership structures, is a form of organic collectivism that sharply contrasts with the perception that capitalism is a system of free individuals exchanging commodities.[15]

George Orwell, a dedicated democratic socialist,[16] 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.[17]

Yet in the subsequent sentence he also warns of what he believes is 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.[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ Triandis, Harry C. (2001). "Individualism-Collectivism and Personality". Journal of Personality. 69 (6): 909. doi:10.1111/1467-6494.696169. 
  2. ^ a b Triandis, Harry C.; Gelfand, Michele J. (1998). "Converging Measurement of Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 74 (1): 119. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.1.118. 
  3. ^ Hofstede, Geert (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations (Second ed.). SAGE Publications, INC. p. 225. 
  4. ^ Parks, Craig D.; Vu, Anh D. (December 1994). "Social Dilemma Behavior of Individuals from Highly Individualist and Collectivist Cultures". The Journal of Conflict Resolution. 38: 708-718. JSTOR 174336. 
  5. ^ Wagner III, John A (February 1995). "Studies of Individualism-Collectivism: Effects on Cooperation in Groups". The Academy of Management Journal. 38: 152-172. JSTOR 256731. 
  6. ^ House, Robert J.; Hanges, Paul J.; Javidan, Mansour; Dorfman, Peter W.; Gupta, Vipin (2004). Culture, Leadership, and Organizations. Sage Publications, Inc. p. 12. 
  7. ^ Brewer, Paul; Venaik, Sunil (April 2011). "Individualism-Collectivism in Hofstede and GLOBE". Palgrave Macmillan Journals. 42: 436-445. 
  8. ^ a b c Patsouras, Louis. 2005. Marx in Context. iUniverse. p. 54
  9. ^ Bakunin Mikail. Bakunin on Anarchism. Black Rose Books. 1980. p. 369
  10. ^ Morriss, Brian. Bakukunin: The Philosophy of Freedom. Black Rose Books Ltd., 1993. p. 115
  11. ^ Heywood, Andrew. Key Concepts in Politics. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 122
  12. ^ kanopiadmin (21 March 2007). "The Fallacy of Collectivism". 
  13. ^ Rand, Ayn. The Only Path to Tomorrow, Readers Digest, January 1944, pp. 88-90
  14. ^ Smith, George H. Ayn Rand on Altruism, Egoism, and Rights
  15. ^ Capital, Volume 1, by Marx, Karl. From "Chapter 32: Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation": "Self-earned private property, that is based, so to say, on the fusing together of the isolated, independent laboring-individual with the conditions of his labor, is supplanted by capitalistic private property, which rests on exploitation of the nominally free labor of others, i.e., on wage-labor. As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the laborers are turned into proletarians, their means of labor into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialization of labor and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the laborer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many laborers."
  16. ^ Orwell, George Why I Write Archived 1 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ a b George Orwell, review of The Road to Serfdom (1944)

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