Friday, December 09, 2005

Individual v. Collective

Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyze every proposition.


Throughout history, our development as human beings has continually placed these two elements, the individual and the collective, in opposite corners in a social battle for supremacy. On the one hand, the individual fights for the "self" in the search for recognition, aspirations, satisfaction in their endeavors, and their growth. On the other hand, the collective fights for the common good of all, mutual helpfulness, and social well-being.

Our history shows even our earliest ancestors found themselves in a position of servitude to greater powers, be these powers be interpreted as Mother Nature, God, Gods, deities, or similar forces which placed the individual in a position where they must surrender the "self" and become subordinate to these powers. The high powers only tolerated the individual on condition of complete surrender. Later in our evolution, as we became "civilized" and social structures began to appear, the powers we were subordinate to grew as the individual now was required to become subordinate to the state and social imperatives, laws, and commands.

Man can have all the glories of the earth, but he must not become conscious of himself.

Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man's subordination. Anarchism is therefore the teacher of the unity of life; not merely in nature, but in man. There is no conflict between the individual and the social instincts, any more than there is between the heart and the lungs: the one the receptacle of a precious life essence, the other the repository of the element that keeps the essence pure and strong. The individual is the heart of society, conserving the essence of social life; society is the lungs which are distributing the element to keep the life essence--that is, the individual--pure and strong. -Emma Goldman


So have the teachings of the structures in power, be it religious, governmental, or social structures, forced us to follow guidelines in order for all of us to merge our individuality with the interests of the power structures? Haven't we been taught it's our duty to live in homage to these powers? According to Goldman, religion dominates the mind, property dominates our needs, and the governmental controls dominate our conduct. It would seem these dominions represent everything that enslaves us and keeps us from reaching our full potentials.

Chomsky had this to say about our indivduality in relation to the collective social consciousness: For the anarchist, freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account.

Anarchism has been described as a freedom that would not let anyone enslave, boss, rob or impose on you. You should be free to do the things you want and not be forced to do the things you don't want. So it would seem that many advocate the growth of the individual's intellect and their freedom to persue the knowledge without constraints of man-made laws. Through this freedom of intellectual growth, a new society built on equality, by the collective of individuals, will take shape. It's the immersion of the individual into a creative force. A force of artistry, discovery, inspiration, and a longing for the collected interests of mankind, in their quest for equality and justice. Only by breaking the constricting bands of the controlling powers, will the individuals be allowed to collectively build a world which is harmonius in all aspects of society. A society based on the freedom of individuals to join together in building real social wealth. If we could all have free access to the earth and not have to worry about the necessities of life, how fast and how far could we go in the evolution of the human spirit. What would our society look like?

The individual and the collective can not be separated, nor should they be placed in opposition, as one can not thrive without the other. They are integral parts of our evolutionary intellect in my opinion. I can not find any one particular anarchist I can agree with 100%, but that is basically what anarchism is all about. It "adapts", it "improvises", and it "overcomes", as a growing, constantly morphing form of thought which is directed by us as individuals striving to make this world the place it should be!

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