The Collectivist vs. The Individualist: A Conversation

Collectivist:  “Society cannot exist without the collective effort of the entire group working as a single unit to provide for all members of the population.  And the only fair means by which this system can function is if measures are taken to ensure that all persons within society are given equal opportunity and equal advancement in life.”

Individualist:  “Society is not dependent on the collective effort of its population as a whole to either function or advance forward, but the accomplishments of a select few individuals who are innovative enough to create means and opportunities by which they personally (and society secondarily) benefits from these individual accomplishments.”

Collectivist:  “No man is an island.  And every individual who has ever innovated anything did so through the direct or indirect assistance of a countless number of other individuals who make up the collective of society, and they deserve to share equal credit for the final outcome they helped bring about.  Henry Ford’s automobile would have never been mass produced if it wasn’t for the worker in the assembly line.  Individual innovations are meaningless acts of mental masturbation without the muscle to bring them to life, and the population as a whole are the muscle on which individual innovations depend on to exist.”

Individualist:  “The worker making a living on the assembly line wouldn’t be working and making a living on the assembly line, if Henry Ford hadn’t come up with the idea first.  These groups of people didn’t collective come up with the idea (or any idea for that matter) on how to either make a living, or contribute to society; they depend on the individual to come up with it first.  If a functioning society and productivity is the end result being sought, than individual innovation is still the antecedent that thinks it into life.”

Collectivist:  “But can’t you see that these individual innovators you’re referring to are also an obvious part of the collective population, and thereby also benefit from the collective effort of the group.  Sure, it’s individuals who think up the innovations all of society benefits from, but thoughts are meaningless and useless until they are produced by someone.  And historically that someone has always been the mass populace.”

Individualist:  “Working under the direction of individuals.”

Collectivist:  “Yes.  So what?’

Individualist:  “Without the guidance and innovations of an individual few society stagnates, because the collective population does not collectively create anything beneficial for society.  This is why society values these individual innovators more, and rewards them with a higher rank in its social hierarchy.”

Collectivist:  “A rank earned through the physical work of the people who make the individual innovators’ higher place in the social hierarchy possible.”

Individualist:  “Physical work which wouldn’t have existed without the innovations of these few individuals.”

Collectivist:  “Innovations which would never be realized if it wasn’t for the lowly members of society doing the grunt work to create it.”

Individualist:  “The fact that the other chess pieces play a role on the board in no way invalidates the greater importance of the King in the overall game.”

Collectivist:  “But if no concern is given to strengthening the position of the other chess pieces the King is left vulnerable and exposed.  Important or not, left individually the King is doomed to fall, too.”

Individualist:  “But acknowledging this still doesn’t diminish the higher value of the King in the game of chess.  It is still the King that is held in higher regard than the Pawn, the Knight, or the Bishop.  And it is still the individual that is held in higher regard in society than the collective masses, because individuals are what move society forward.”

Collectivist:  “You’re forgetting that a ladder can’t stand upright without its lowest pegs.”

Individualist:  “You’re forgetting that a ladder is useless if no one ever climbs it.”

Collectivist:  “A world where only the few rise, is a world where opportunity for advancement will seize to exist as the few in power will horde everything for themselves.  What you’re proposing is oligarchy!”

Individualist:  “A world where no one falls, is also a world where no one rises!  If everyone always stays on the same level, there will be no achievements and no advancements.  We can’t all rise collectively, but we can certainly plateau together.”

Collectivist:  “I’d rather plateau as a unit, then watch a minority segment of the population rise at the expense of the majority.”

Individualist:  “And I’d rather watch at least one individual rise above the herd, than have a society made up solely of equally mindless sheep.”

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