As I am sure you’re all aware (or I hope you’re aware), there is a series of hot-button topics dominating the political stage, among those being the topic of race. It pains me to see such a vast amount of people being misled on this topic by a certain mindset: collectivism. Collectivism is not necessarily an inherent “evil”, but in today’s day and age it is leading to more injustice and bias. It encourages people to view themselves and others as collectives (or groups) instead of as individual human beings, and to approach social issues in that sort of retrograde manner. This can be dangerous because, although it shuns the idea of individualism, people tend to be individualist due to our self-centered nature. Everything we view is from our own perspective, and through our own biases. So people take collectivist assumptions and try to apply it to individuals, when that clearly does not work.
People generally don’t put all of their focus on politics and discussion of social issues, so they are generally unaware of the impact our mindsets can have on the way we view the world. But, unfortunately, this does not make the impact on society any less enormous. The lens you wear when viewing the world can drastically distort what you see, and can leave you in an entirely different world than the rest: an ideological world. Some have gone down this rabbit hole and have gone completely haywire from what they have seen, while others are just on the cusp. Despite this, I sincerely doubt the vast majority of people are bound to embrace ideological beliefs mainly due to one reason: I am not convinced that the majority of people are aware of the logical consequences of what they are doing, or what they are saying. This is what compels me to write this post. Explaining the logical consequence of people’s beliefs is probably the most effective way to dissuade them, and since I believe most aren’t set in stone on this debate of collectivism and individualism many are probably just waiting for it to happen.
So what does all of this abstract mean? Allow me to put it into more understandable context. I mentioned the race issue in America at the beginning of this post. This topic probably holds some of the best examples of the aforementioned collectivism: Black Lives Matter. This is not going to be a hit-piece on their behavior, as abhorrent as it is, but a hit on the movement as a whole. You often see members of the movement going around asking people, “Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?” The point is that people are supposed to be focusing on the group of people who have it the worst. Black people have it the worst, so saying “all lives matter” includes people who do not need help. Black people need help. Black Lives Matter seemingly has a rock solid argument, and most critics only look stupid in contest. White people aren’t the ones consistently gunned down by police, so why the hell is the discussion going to include them?
But there is a problem with all of this. Remember what I said about the lens you choose distorts the way you look at the world? Black Lives Matter has adopted the collectivist lens when looking at the world. If you look at the world as collectives (i.e. black people, white people, yellow people, and so on), then all of their statements certainly are true. But this is because they are making broad generalizations about diverse groups of people. A better way to word the aforementioned claims of Black Lives Matter would be: black people have it worse, on average, and white people have it better, on average. You cannot use averages to make blanket statements about people, but this is certainly what Black Lives Matter does. Their line of thinking leads them to believe they can take this average and just assume that any black person in the country is oppressed and disadvantaged by the system. Even with people like Barack Obama in high positions of power. So any rational human, at this point, should be wondering why people are being viewed as members of a collective at all. If you are required to make generalizations, then why would you think you’re looking at the world in a valid manner?
Individualism simply argues that we scrap the focus of viewing humanity as groups of lookalike people in favor of acknowledging that each and every person is different from the last. This is does not necessarily mean you refuse to notice trends altogether, just that you stop categorizing people according to characteristics that are immutable, like skin color. Once you remove the collectivist lens, the world begins to look quite a bit different. You start to look at each particular event in the news as its own individual occurrence, and consequently stop associating unlike events. Black Live Matter would almost have you believe that police are systematically killing black people, and that each case you see on the media is another step in the process. But is there a connection between two black people being shot on opposite sides of the country, simply due to them and their perpetrators sharing skin color? No. There is no connection, they are individual cases, and they should be treated as such. This is not a denial of police brutality, this is not a denial of racist cops: this is simply an acknowledgement that individual people are the problem, not a coalition of racists. And probably the most important thing to accept, alongside the individualist approach is that this means not every case is a result of racism. People too easily jump on the “racism!” bandwagon whenever a white cop kills a black man. If there is evidence that racism is involved in an individual shooting, then the anti-racist rallying against the cop is warranted, but there must be evidence. And in the event that there is, it only qualifies as evidence of racism in that specific case. It seems that some people think they can justify claims of racism in Detroit because of one racist cop in California. No. They are individual cases. If you want people to believe they are connected, then you’ll have to go fishing for more evidence to support that claim.
These are all issues that need to be remedied if we want to effectively take on police brutality. Taking up an ideological lens does not make the problems go away, it just blinds you to the truth. There is far too much nuance in the world for such a simplistic approach. Collectivism only works in drastic cases, where a particular group is so disadvantaged, and so put down, that the only logical thing to do is generalize. A good example of this would be in the nineteen sixties during the civil rights movement. Jim Crow and segregation systematically held black people back, so it made sense to help them in a collective manner. The “all lives matter” claim would have less justification then. But things have changed so much since then, and even though black people still have it worse, on average, they have integrated enough to the point that it is impossible to treat them as a collective without being completely disingenuous.
As if this could not get any worse, this disingenuousness leads to prejudice and bias in people. And this applies to every demographic. I honestly believe that the country is now moving in the wrong direction, and that people are becoming more and more prejudiced. But you can only blame people so much. They bear a lot of responsibility, but much of it rests on the shoulders of those pushing these ideals (I’m looking at you, liberal University professors). Think on it. When you are constantly bombarded with claims that black people are on the bottom, what do you start to assume every time you meet a black person? When you are constantly told white people have it better in society, what do you start to assume every time you meet a white person? These prejudices plague our society in many forms, mostly in these two words: white privilege. It is essentially an excuse some people use to disregard hard facts like: twenty million white people are living in poverty, according to the latest statistics. White privilege is certainly the most prominent regressive trend in society and the fact that so many people think it is okay to make judgments based on skin color is quite scary, actually. It is almost like they ignored everything they learned in Martin Luther King Junior’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It is quite simple: if we honestly want to live in a world where bias and prejudice are all but extinct, then we absolutely have to take King’s words to heart.
Individualism is what leads you in the direction of Martin Luther King Junior’s dream. Individualism is what leads you away from prejudice and bias. Individualism is what pushes society towards a more fair and inclusive environment. Collectivism is a simplistic worldview that shutters your mind to the complexity of the human race and its interrelations. Don’t let yourself be fooled. I have hope that most people are capable of being rational if they truly want to: therefore everyone is capable of understanding the importance of nuance.
My inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW8piEF9Lhc
Poverty statistics by race: http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/
Martin Luther King Junior’s Speech:
Averages are only averages:
Bias and prejudice:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6IlGoeDIUQ (Bernie panders)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI9MCvK2MGs (Trump supporter is the least racist)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAeB_yl2E90 (Yes, black people aren’t hive minded)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU3vcvGpALQ (All of them are morons)