Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Collective vs. the Individual

The heart and soul of the health care debate hinges on whether one holds to a theory of government which champions the collective or a theory of government which champions the individual. This is evident both from the arguments I have heard proposed on the radio and from a reading of my on-line discourse with our Aussie liberal friend.

Whether it is Marxism, fascism, fabian socialism, Eurpoean-style social democracy, or even old-style monarchial systems, a common thread runs through all. That is this. There are a few elite people, an aristocracy or an oligarchy, who are more qualified to make decisions for the masses than the individuals who make up those masses. This is the modern Left, ironic that it should be so because it is the fallback position of most human government throughout history.

The Right, in this country at least, seeks to steer government away from a collectivist mentality and back toward the innovations and ideals of the founders of this nation . . . Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, These men championed the rights of the individual over that of the collective.

At least this is what the Right is supposed to be about. In recent years, however, it has been more or less just a lighter version of the Left.

The collective . . . "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Logical, is it not? At least Captain Spock thought so in Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan. But then Admiral Kirk showed him the nobility of the opposite viewpoint in Star Trek III, the Search for Spock.

(Don't you just love Star Trek references?)

The arguments for nationalized health care all run along this theme. They are the product of a collectivist mindset. How can we (the smart people, the beautiful people, the ivy-league-set) make society a better place? They cite statistics to prove, ostensibly, that their system would work better for society as a whole. Nevermind that they trample on the rights of individuals. That's not important. Nevermind that they take away the decision-making ability of individuals, most people don't know what is best for them anyway do they?

This kind of thinking can be seen in articles like this piece from the Los Angeles Times in which it is lamented that the states most vehemently opposed to ObamaCare are those which stand to benefit most from it.

Freedom is a dangerous thing. Individuals who have freedom often act very stupidly with it. They are free to eat what they want, so they overindulge, become obese. The Leftist aristocracy comes along and says, "We have a problem in society--too much obesity. What shall we do?" Then, as if they have been appointed the caretakers of individuals, they seek legislative answers to subjugate the freedom of individuals and stop this obesity "problem." This is what happened with smoking. This is what is happening with health care, right now.

(By the way, it is patently stupid to cite statistics on the general health of a society and believe that the only cause affecting that general health is the medical industry. As Captain Spock might say, "That is illogical." There are many other factors involved, including genetics, environment, diet, daily activity, cultural practices . . . I could not possibly name them all. But such is the illogic of the Left.)

The collectivist, be he a European social democrat, an English monarch of old, or a Leninist from Moscow, would seek to improve society as a whole at the expense of individual liberty. The United States of America, in contrast, has historically been the safehouse of individual liberty. Whether or not this works out best for society as whole--according to the theories of some Harvard elites--is unimportant. In America, the rights of the individual have always been more important than the needs of the collective.

At least until now.

We shall see what this Congress and this President do, whether they will uphold American traditions and values and stop this madness, or whether they will stomp on individual rights and thus stomp on everything our founders believed.

Let us hope and pray for the former.


Allen Lewis said...

This is a really great post Tom. Collectivism is the big difference between leftist/socialist mindset and classical liberalism. It's also apparent that many of today's so-called conservatives (especially the politicians) tend more toward the collectivist mindset than they do toward individualism.

Tom Sawyer said...

Yes. I heard Karl Rove today on the Sean Hannity program and he espoused a "conservative" collectivist position on health care. He stated that "we", meaning the government, needed to do something to get those millions of uninsured people on insurance, just without nationalizing health care the way Obama wants. In other words, he still wants the government solving society's ills as he sees them. It is Liberal Lite and it has less taste than Bud Lite.

If 15 million, or 150 million Americans do not want health insurance, what business is it of government? And if a government can force them to get it, it is tyranny no matter which party is behind it.