WORDS WITHOUT MEANING
There are many words commonly used today to describe political attitudes. We are told
that there are conservatives, liberals, Libertarians, Right-wingers, Left-winger, socialists,
Communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Fascists, Nazis; and if that isn’t confusing enough, now we
have neo conservatives, neo Nazis, and neo everything else. When we are asked what our
political orientation is, we are expected to choose from one of these words. If we don’t have a
political opinion or if we’re afraid of making a bad choice, then we play it safe and say we are
moderates – adding yet one more word to the list. Yet, not one person in a thousand can clearly
define the ideology that any of these words represent. They are used, primarily, as labels to
impart an aura of either goodness or badness, depending on who uses the words and what
emotions they trigger in their minds.
For example, what is a realistic definition of a conservative? A common response would
be that a conservative it a person who wants to conserve the status quo and is opposed to
change. But, most people who call themselves conservatives are not in favor of conserving the
present system of high taxes, deficit spending, expanding welfare, leniency to criminals, foreign
aid, growth of government, or any of the other hallmarks of the present order. These are the
jealously guarded bastions of what we call liberalism. Yesterday’s liberals are the conservatives
of today, and the people who call themselves conservatives are really radicals, because they
want a radical change from the status quo. It’s no wonder that most political debates sound like
they originate at the tower of Babel. Everyone is speaking a different language. The words may
sound familiar, but speakers and listeners each have their own private definitions.
It has been my experience that, once the definitions are commonly understood, most of
the disagreements come to an end. To the amazement of those who thought they were bitter
ideological opponents, they often find they are actually in basic agreement. So, to deal with this
word, collectivism, our first order of business is to throw out the garbage. If we are to make
sense of the political agendas that dominate our planet today, we must not allow our thinking to
be contaminated by the emotional load of the old vocabulary
It may surprise you to learn that most of the great political debates of our time – at least
in the Western world – can be divided into just two viewpoints. All of the rest is fluff. Typically,
they focus on whether or not a particular action should be taken; but the real conflict is not about
the merits of the action; it is about the principles, the ethical code that justifies or forbids that
action. It is a contest between the ethics of collectivism on the one hand and individualism on the
other. Those are words that have meaning, and they describe a chasm of morality that divides
the entire Western world.
The one thing that is common to both collectivists and individualists is that the vast
majority of them are well intentioned. They want the best life possible for their families, for
their countrymen, and for mankind. They want prosperity and justice for their fellow man.
Where they disagree is how to bring those things about.
I have studied collectivist literature for over forty years; and, after a while, I realized
there were certain recurring themes. I was able to identify what I consider to be the six pillars of
collectivism. If these pillars are turned upside down, they also are the six pillars of
individualism. In other words, there are six major concepts of social and political relationships;
and, within each of them, collectivists and individualists have opposite viewpoints.
1. THE NATURE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The first of these has to do with the nature of human rights. Collectivists and
individualists both agree that human rights are important, but they differ over how important and
especially over what is presumed to be the origin of those rights. There are only two possibilities
in this debate. Either man’s rights are intrinsic to his being, or they are extrinsic, meaning that
either he possesses them at birth or they are given to him afterward. In other words, they are
either hardware or software. Individualists believe they are hardware. Collectivists believe they
If rights are given to the individual after birth, then who has the power to do that?
Collectivists believe that is a function of government. Individualists are nervous about that
assumption because, if the state has the power to grant rights, it also has the power to take them
away, and that concept is incompatible with personal liberty.
The view of individualism was expressed clearly in the United States Declaration of
Independence, which said:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are
instituted among men….
Nothing could be more clear than that. “Unalienable Rights” means they are the natural
possession of each of us upon birth, not granted by the state. The purpose of government is, not
to grant rights, but to secure them and protect them.
By contrast, all collectivist political systems embrace the opposite view that rights are
granted by the state. That includes the Nazis, Fascists, and Communists. It is also a tenet of the
United Nations. Article Four of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, in the enjoyment of
those rights provided by the State … the State may subject such rights only to such
limitations as are determined by law.
I repeat: If we accept that the state has the power to grant rights, then we must also agree
it has the power to take them away. Notice the wording of the UN Covenant. After proclaiming
that rights are provided by the state, it then says that those rights may be subject to limitations
“as are determined by law.” In other words, the collectivists at the UN presume to grant us our
rights and, when they are ready to take them away, all they have to do is pass a law authorizing
Compare that with the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. It says Congress
shall pass no law restricting the rights of freedom of speech, or religion, peaceful assembly, the
right to bear arms, and so forth – not except as determined by law, but no law. The Constitution
embodies the ethic of individualism. The UN embodies the ethic of collectivism, and what a
difference that makes.
2. THE ORIGIN OF STATE POWER
The second concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with the origin
of state power. Individualists believe that a just government derives its power, not from
conquest and subjugation of its citizens, but from the free consent of the governed. That means
the state cannot have any legitimate powers unless they are given to it by its citizens. Another
way of putting it is that governments may do only those things that their citizens also have a
right to do. If individuals don’t have the right to perform a certain act, then they can’t grant that
power to their elected representatives. They can’t delegate what they don’t have.
Let us use an extreme example. Let us assume that a ship has been sunk in a storm, and
three exhausted men are struggling for survival in the sea. Suddenly, they come upon a life-buoy
ring. The ring is designed only to keep one person afloat; but, with careful cooperation between
them, it can keep two of them afloat. But, when the third man grasps the ring, it becomes
useless, and all three, once again, are at the mercy of the sea. They try taking turns: one treading
water while two hold on to the ring; but after a few hours, none of them have enough strength to
continue. The grim truth gradually becomes clear: Unless one of them is cut loose from the
group, all three will drown. What, then, should these men do?
Most people would say that two of the men would be justified in overpowering the third
and casting him off. The right of self-survival is paramount. Taking the life of another, terrible
as such an act would be, is morally justified if it is necessary to save your own life. That
certainly is true for individual action, but what about collective action? Where do two men get
the right to gang up on one man?
The collectivist answers that two men have a greater right to life because they outnumber
the third one. It’s a question of mathematics: The greatest good for the greatest number. That
makes the group more important than the individual and it justifies two men forcing one man
away from the ring. There is a certain logical appeal to this argument but, if we further simplify
the example, we will see that, although the action may be correct, it is justified by the wrong
Let us assume, now, that there are only two survivors – so we eliminate the concept of the
group – and let us also assume that the ring will support only one swimmer, not two. Under
these conditions, it would be similar to facing an enemy in battle. You must kill or be killed.
Only one can survive. We are dealing now with the competing right of self-survival for each
individual, and there is no mythological group to confuse the issue. Under this extreme
condition, it is clear that each person would have the right to do whatever he can to preserve his
own life, even if it leads to the death of another. Some may argue that it would be better to
sacrifice one’s life for a stranger, but few would argue that not to do so would be wrong. So,
when the conditions are simplified to their barest essentials, we see that the right to deny life to
others comes from the individual’s right to protect his own life. It does not need the so-called
group to ordain it.
In the original case of three survivors, the justification for denying life to one of them
does not come from a majority vote but from their individual and separate right of self-survival.
In other words, either of them, acting alone, would be justified in this action. They are not
empowered by the group. When we hire police to protect our community, we are merely asking
them to do what we, ourselves, have a right to do. Using physical force to protect our lives,
liberty, and property is a legitimate function of government, because that power is derived from
the people as individuals. It does not arise from the group.
Here’s one more example – a lot less extreme but far more typical of what actually goes
on every day in legislative bodies. If government officials decide one day that no one should
work on Sunday, and even assuming the community generally supports their decision, where
would they get the authority to use the police power of the state to enforce such a decree?
Individual citizens don’t have the right to compel their neighbors not to work, so they can’t
delegate that right to their government. Where, then, would the state get the authority? The
answer is that it would come from itself; it would be self-generated. It would be similar to the
divine right of ancient monarchies in which it was assumed that governments represent the
power and the will of God – as interpreted by their earthly leaders, of course. In more modern
times, most governments don’t even pretend to have God as their authority, they just rely on
swat teams and armies, and anyone who objects is eliminated. As that well-known collectivist,
Mao Tse-Tung, phrased it: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
When governments claim to derive their authority from any source other than the
governed, it always leads to the destruction of liberty. Preventing men from working on Sunday
would not seem to be a great threat to freedom, but once the principle is established, it opens the
door for more edicts, and more, and more until freedom is gone. If we accept that the state or
any group has the right to do things that individuals alone do not have the right to do, then we
have unwittingly endorsed the concept that rights are not intrinsic to the individual and that they,
in fact, do originate with the state. Once we accept that, we are well on the road to tyranny.
Collectivists are not concerned over such picky issues. They believe that governments do,
in fact, have powers that are greater than those of their citizens, and the source of those powers,
they say, is, not the individuals within society, but society itself, the group to which individuals
3. GROUP SUPREMACY
This is the third concept that divides collectivism from individualism. Collectivism is
based on the belief that the group is an entity of its own, that it has rights of its own, and that
those rights are more important than the rights of individuals. If necessary, individuals must be
sacrificed for the benefit of the group, and the justification is that this is for “the greater good of
the greater number.”
Individualists on the other hand say, “Wait a minute. Group? What is group? That’s just a
word. You can’t touch a group. You can’t see a group. All you can touch and see are
individuals. The word group is an abstraction and doesn’t exist as a tangible reality. It’s like the
abstraction called forest. Forest doesn’t exist. Only trees exist. Forest is the concept of many
trees. Likewise, the word group merely describes the concept of many individuals. Only
individuals are real and, therefore, there is no such thing as group rights. Governments cannot
derive authority from groups, because groups don’t have any to give. Only individuals have
rights. Only individuals can delegate them.
Just because there are many individuals in one group and only a few in another does not
give a higher priority to the rights of individuals in the larger group. Rights are not based on a
head count. They are not derived from the power of numbers. They are intrinsic with each
When someone argues that individuals must be sacrificed for the greater good of society,
what they are really saying is that some individuals are to be sacrificed for the greater good of
other individuals. The morality of collectivism is based on numbers. Anything may be done so
long as the number of people benefiting supposedly is greater than the number of people being
sacrificed. I say supposedly, because, in the real world, those who decide who is to be sacrificed
don’t count fairly. Dictators always claim they represent the greater good of the greater number
but, in reality, they and their support groups comprise less than one percent of the population.
The theory is that someone has to speak for the masses and represent their best interest, because
they are too dumb to figure it out for themselves. So collectivist leaders, wise and virtuous as
they are, make the decisions for them. It is possible to explain any atrocity or injustice as a
necessary measure for the greater good of society. Totalitarians always parade as humanitarians.
Because individualists do not accept group supremacy, collectivists portray them as being
self centered and insensitive to the needs of others. That theme is common in schools today. If a
child is not willing to go along with the group, he is criticized as being socially disruptive and
not being a good “team player” or a good citizen. Those nice folks at the tax-exempt foundations
had a lot to do with that. But individualism is not based on ego. It is based on principle. If you
accept the premise that individuals may be sacrificed for the group, you have made a huge
mistake on two counts. First, individuals are the essence of the group, which means the group is
being sacrificed anyway, piece by piece. Secondly, the underlying principle is deadly. Today,
the individual being sacrificed may be unknown to you or even someone you dislike. Tomorrow,
it could be you.
REPUBLICS VS DEMOCRACIES
We are dealing here with one of the reasons people make a distinction between Republics
and Democracies. In recent years, we have been taught to believe that a Democracy is the ideal
form of government. Supposedly, that is what was created by the American Constitution. But, if
you read the documents of the men who wrote the Constitution, you find that they spoke very
poorly of Democracy. They said in plain words that a Democracy was one of the worst possible
forms of government. And so they created what they called a Republic. That is why the word
Democracy doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution; and, when Americans pledge
allegiance to the flag, it’s to the Republic for which it stands, not the Democracy. The bottom
line is that the difference between a Democracy and a Republic is the difference between
collectivism and individualism.
In a pure Democracy, the concept is that the majority shall rule; end of discussion. You
might say, “What’s wrong with that?” Well, there could be plenty wrong with that. What about a
lynch mob? There is only one person with a dissenting vote, and he is the guy at the end of the
rope. That’s pure Democracy in action.
“Ah, wait a minute,” you say. “The majority should rule. Yes, but not to the extent of
denying the rights of the minority.”
That is precisely what a Republic accomplishes. A Republic is simply a limited
Democracy – a government based on the principle of limited majority rule so that the minority –
even a minority of one – will be protected from the whims and passions of the majority.
Republics are characterized by written constitutions that spell out the rules to make that
possible. That was the function of the American Bill of Rights, which is nothing more than a list
of things the government may not do. It says that Congress, even though it represents the
majority, shall pass no law denying the minority their rights to free exercise of religion, freedom
of speech, peaceful assembly, the right to bear arms, and other “unalienable” rights.2
These limitations on majority rule are the essence of a Republic, and they also are at the
core of the ideology called individualism. And so here is another major difference between these
two concepts: collectivism on the one hand, supporting any government action so long as it can
be said to be for the greater good of the greater number; and individualism on the other hand,
defending the rights of the minority against the passions and greed of the majority.
4. COERCION VS FREEDOM
The fourth concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with
responsibilities and freedom of choice. We have spoken about the origin of rights, but there is a
similar issue involving the origin of responsibilities. Rights and responsibilities go together. If
you value the right to live your own life without others telling you what to do, then you must
assume the responsibility to be independent, to provide for yourself without expecting others to
take care of you. Rights and responsibilities are merely different sides of the same coin.
If only individuals have rights, then it follows that only individuals have responsibilities.
If groups have rights, then groups also have responsibilities; and, therein, lies one of the greatest
ideological challenges of our modern age.
Individualists are champions of individual rights. Therefore, they accept the principle of
individual responsibility rather than group responsibility. They believe that everyone has a
personal and direct obligation to provide, first for himself and his family, and then for others
who may be in need. That does not mean they don’t believe in helping each other. Just because I
am an individualists does not mean I have to move my piano alone. It just means that I believe
that moving it is my responsibility, not someone else’s, and it’s up to me to organize the
voluntary assistance of others.
The collectivist, on the other hand, declares that individuals are not personally
responsible for charity, for raising their own children, providing for aging parents, or even
providing for themselves, for that matter. These are group obligations of the state. The
individualist expects to do it himself; the collectivist wants the government to do it for him: to
provide employment and health care, a minimum wage, food, education, and a decent place to
live. Collectivists are enamored by government. They worship government. They have a fixation
on government as the ultimate group mechanism to solve all problems.
Individualists do not share that faith. They see government as the creator of more
problems than it solves. They believe that freedom of choice will lead to the best solution of
social and economic problems. Millions of ideas and efforts, each subject to trial and error and
competition – in which the best solution becomes obvious by comparing its results to all others
– that process will produce results that are far superior to what can be achieved by a group of
politicians or a committee of so-called wise men.
By contrast, collectivists do not trust freedom. They are afraid of freedom. They are
convinced that freedom may be all right in small matters such as what color socks you want to
wear, but when it come to the important issues such as the money supply, banking practices,
investments, insurance programs, health care, education, and so on, freedom will not work.
These things, they say, simply must be controlled by the government. Otherwise there would be
There are two reasons for the popularity of that concept. One is that most of us have been
educated in government schools, and that’s what we were taught. The other reason is that
government is the one group that can legally force everyone to participate. It has the power of
taxation, backed by jails and force of arms to compel everyone to fall in line, and that is a very
appealing concept to the intellectual who pictures himself as a social engineer.
Collectivists say, “We must force people to do what we think they should do, because
they are too dumb to do it on their own. We, on the other hand, have been to school. We’ve read
books. We are informed. We are smarter than those people out there. If we leave it to them, they
are going to make terrible mistakes. So, it is up to us, the enlightened ones. We shall decide on
behalf of society and we shall enforce our decisions by law so no one has any choice. That we
should rule in this fashion is our obligation to mankind.”
By contrast, individualists say, “We also think we are right and that the masses seldom do
what we think they should do, but we don’t believe in forcing anyone to comply with our will
because, if we grant that principle, then others, representing larger groups than our own, could
compel us to act as they decree, and that would be the end of our freedom.”
One of the quickest ways to spot a collectivist is to see how he reacts to public problems.
No matter what bothers him in his daily routine – whether it’s littering the highway, smoking in
public, dressing indecently, sending out junk mail – you name it, his immediate response is;
“There ought to be a law!” And, of course, the professionals in government who make a living
from such laws are more than happy to cooperate. The consequence of this mindset is that
government just keeps growing and growing. It’s a one-way street. Every year there are more
and more laws and less and less freedom. Each law by itself seems relatively benign, justified by
some convenience or for the greater good of the greater number, but the process continues
forever until government is total and freedom is dead. Bit-by-bit, the people, themselves,
become the solicitor of their own enslavement.
THE ROBIN HOOD SYNDROME
A good example of this collectivist mindset is the use of government to perform acts of
charity. Most people believe that we all have a responsibility to help others in need if we can,
but what about those who disagree, those who couldn’t care less about the needs of others?
Should they be allowed to be selfish while we are so generous? The collectivist sees people like
that as justification for the use of coercion, because the cause is so worthy. He sees himself as a
modern Robin Hood, stealing from the rich but giving to the poor. Of course, not all of it gets to
the poor. After all, Robin and his men have to eat and drink and be merry, and that doesn’t come
cheap. It takes a giant bureaucracy to administer a public charity, and the Robbing Hoods in
government have become accustomed to a huge share of the loot, while the peasants – well,
they’re grateful for whatever they get. They don’t care how much is consumed along the way. It
was all stolen from someone else anyway.
The so-called charity of collectivism is a perversion of the Biblical story of the Good
Samaritan who stopped along the highway to help a stranger who had been robbed and beaten.
He even takes the victim to an inn and pays for his stay there until he recovers. Everyone
approves of such acts of compassion and charity, but what would we think if the Samaritan had
pointed his sword at the next traveler and threatened to kill him if he didn’t also help? If that had
happened, I doubt if the story would have made it into the Bible; because, at that point, the
Samaritan would be no different than the original robber – who also might have had a virtuous
motive. For all we know, he could have claimed that he was merely providing for his family and
feeding his children. Most crimes are rationalized in this fashion, but they are crimes
nevertheless. When coercion enters, charity leaves.3
Individualists refuse to play this game. We expect everyone to be charitable, but we also
believe that a person should be free not to be charitable if he doesn’t want to. If he prefers to
give to a different charity than the one we urge on him, if he prefers to give a smaller amount
that what we think he should, or if he prefers not to give at all, we believe that we have no right
to force him to our will. We may try to persuade him to do so; we may appeal to his conscience;
and especially we may show the way by our own good example; but we reject any attempt to
gang up on him, either by physically restraining him while we remove the money from his
pockets or by using the ballot box to pass laws that will take his money through taxation. In
either case, the principle is the same. It’s called stealing.
Collectivists would have you believe that individualism is merely another word for
selfishness, because individualists oppose welfare and other forms of coercive re-distribution of
wealth, but just the opposite is true. Individualists advocate true charity, which is the voluntary
giving of their own money, while collectivists advocate the coercive giving of other people’s
money; which, of course, is why it is so popular.
One more example: The collectivist will say, “I think everyone should wear seatbelts.
That just makes sense. People can be hurt if they don’t wear seatbelts. So, let’s pass a law and
require everyone to wear them. If they don’t, we’ll put those dummies in jail.” The individualist
says, “I think everyone should wear seatbelts. People can be hurt in accidents if they don’t wear
them, but I don’t believe in forcing anyone to do so. I believe in convincing them with logic and
persuasion and good example, if I can, but I also believe in freedom of choice.”
One of the most popular slogans of Marxism is: “From each according to his ability, to
each according to his need.” That’s the cornerstone of theoretical socialism, and it is a very
appealing concept. A person hearing that slogan for the first time might say: “What’s wrong
with that? Isn’t that the essence of charity and compassion toward those in need? What could
possibly be wrong with giving according to your ability to others according to their need?” And
the answer is, nothing is wrong with it – as far as it goes, but it is an incomplete concept. The
unanswered question is how is this to be accomplished? Shall it be in freedom or through
coercion? I mentioned earlier that collectivists and individualists usually agree on objectives but
disagree over means, and this is a classic example. The collectivist says, take it by force of law.
The individualist says, give it through free will. The collectivist says, not enough people will
respond unless they are forced. The individualist says, enough people will respond to achieve
the task. Besides, the preservation of freedom is also important. The collectivist advocates
legalized plunder in the name of a worthy cause, believing that the end justifies the means. The
individualist advocates free will and true charity, believing that the worthy objective does not
justify committing theft and surrendering freedom.
There is a story of a Bolshevik revolutionary who was standing on a soap box speaking to
a small crowd in Times Square. After describing the glories of Socialism and Communism, he
said: “Come the revolution and everyone will eat peaches and cream.” A little old man at the
back of the crown yelled out: “I don’t like peaches and cream.” The Bolshevik thought about
that for a moment and then replied: “Come the revolution, Comrade, you will like peaches and
This, then, is the fourth difference between collectivism and individualism, and it is
perhaps the most fundamental of them all: collectivists believe in coercion; individualists
believe in freedom.
5. EQUALITY VS, INEQUALITY UNDER LAW
The fifth concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with the way
people are treated under the law. Individualists believe that no two people are exactly alike, and
each one is superior or inferior to others in many ways but, under law, they should all be treated
equally. Collectivists believe that the law should treat people unequally in order to bring about
desirable changes in society. They view the world as tragically imperfect. They see poverty and
suffering and injustice and they conclude that something must be done to alter the forces that
have produced these effects. They think of themselves as social engineers who have the wisdom
to restructure society to a more humane and logical order. To do this, they must intervene in the
affairs of men at all levels and redirect their activities according to a master plan. That means
they must redistribute wealth and use the police power of the state to enforce prescribed
The consequence of this mindset can be seen everywhere in society today. Almost every
country in the world has a tax system designed to treat people unequally depending on their
income, their marital status, the number of children they have, their age, and the type of
investments they may have. The purpose of this arrangement is to redistribute wealth, which
means to favor some classes over others. In some cases, there are bizarre loopholes written into
the tax laws just to favor one corporation or one politically influential group. Other laws provide
tax-exemption and subsidies to favored groups or corporations. Inequality is the whole purpose
of these laws.
In the realm of social relationships, there are laws to establish racial quotas, gender
quotas, affirmative-action initiatives, and to prohibit expressions of opinion that may be
objectionable to some group or to the master planners. In all of these measures, there is an
unequal application of the law based on what group or class you happen to be in or on what
opinion you hold. We are told that all of this is necessary to accomplish a desirable change in
society. Yet, after more than a hundred years of social engineering, there is not one place on the
globe where collectivists can point with pride and show where their master plan has actually
worked as they predicted. There have been many books written about the collectivist utopia, but
they never happened. The real-world results wherever collectivism has been applied are more
poverty than before, more suffering than before, and certainly more injustice than before.
There is a better way. Individualism is based on the premise that all citizens should be
equal under law, regardless of their national origin, race, religion, gender, education, economic
status, life style, or political opinion. No class should be given preferential treatment, regardless
of the merit or popularity of its cause. To favor one class over another is not equality under law.
6. PROPER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
When all of these factors are considered together, we come to the sixth ideological
division between collectivism and individualism. Collectivists believe that the proper role of
government should be positive, that the state should take the initiative in all aspects of the affairs
of men, that it should be aggressive, lead, and provide. It should be the great organizer of
Individualists believe that the proper function of government is negative and defensive. It
is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for some, it must also
be able to take from others, and once that power is granted, there are those who will seek it for
their advantage. It always leads to legalized plunder and loss of freedom. If government is
powerful enough to give us everything we want, it is also powerful enough to take from us
everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of government is to protect the lives, liberty,
and property of its citizens; nothing more.4
THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM
We hear a lot today about Right-wingers versus Left-wingers, but what do those terms
really mean? For example, we are told that Communists and Socialists are at the extreme left,
and the Nazis and Fascists are on the extreme right. Here we have the image of two powerful
ideological adversaries pitted against each other, and the impression is that, somehow, they are
opposites. But, what is the difference? They are not opposites at all. They are the same. The
insignias may be different, but when you analyze Communism and Nazism, they both embody
the principles of Socialism. Communists make no bones about Socialism being their ideal, and
the Nazi movement in Germany was actually called the National Socialist Party. Communists
believe in international Socialism, whereas Nazis advocate national Socialism. Communists
promote class hatred and class conflict to motivate the loyalty and blind obedience of their
followers, whereas the Nazis use race conflict and race hatred to accomplish the same objective.
Other than that, there is no difference between Communism and Nazism. They are both the
epitome of collectivism, and yet we are told they are, supposedly, at opposite ends of the
There’s only one thing that makes sense in constructing a political spectrum and that is to
put zero government at one end of the line and 100% at the other. Now we have something we
can comprehend. Those who believe in zero government are the anarchists, and those who
believe in total government are the totalitarians. With that definition, we find that Communism
and Nazism are together at the same end. They are both totalitarian. Why? Because they are both
based on the model of collectivism. Communism, Nazism, Fascism and Socialism all gravitate
toward bigger and bigger government, because that is the logical extension of their common
ideology. Under collectivism, all problems are the responsibility of the state and must be solved
by the state. The more problems there are, the more powerful the state must become. Once you
get on that slippery slope, there is no place to stop until you reach all the way to the end of the
scale, which is total government. Regardless of what name you give it, regardless of how you relabel
it to make it seem new or different, collectivism is totalitarianism.
Actually, the straight-line concept of a political spectrum is somewhat misleading. It is
really a circle. You can take that straight line with 100% government at one end and zero at the
other, bend it around, and touch the ends at the top. Now it’s a circle because, under anarchy,
where there is no government, you have absolute rule by those with the biggest fists and the
most powerful weapons. So, you jump from zero government to totalitarianism in a flash. They
meet at the top. We are really dealing with a circle, and the only logical place for us to be is
somewhere in the middle of the extremes. We need government, of course, but, it must be built
on individualism, an ideology that pushes always toward that part of the spectrum that involves
the least government necessary to make things work instead of collectivism, which always
pushes toward the other end of the spectrum for the most amount of government to make things
work. That government is best which governs least.
SUMMARY OF DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN COLLECTIVISTS AND INDIVIDUALISTS
1. A collectivist believes that rights are derived from the state.
An Individualist believes that rights are intrinsic to each human being.
2. A collectivist believes the state may perform acts that are forbidden to individuals.
An individualist believes the state may do only what individuals have a right to do.
3. A collectivist believes individuals may be sacrificed for the greater good of the greater
An individualist believes individuals must be protected from the greed and passion of the
4. A collectivist believes coercion is the best way to bring about positive effects in society.
An individualist believes freedom-of-choice is the best way to bring about positive effects in
5. A collectivist believes laws should apply unequally to benefit one group over another.
An individualist believes laws should apply equally to all groups so that everyone is treated
6. A collectivist believes government should be an aggressive force for solving problems,
providing sustenance, and directing human activities. That government is best which
An individualist believes government should be a defensive and protective force, limited to
safeguarding the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens. That government is best which
THE CREED OF FREEDOM
INTRINSIC NATURE OF RIGHTS
I believe that only individuals have rights, not the collective group; that these rights are
intrinsic to each individual, not granted by the state; for if the state has the power to grant
them, it also has the power to deny them, and that is incompatible with personal liberty.
I believe that a just government derives its power solely from the governed. Therefore, the
state must never presume to do anything beyond what individual citizens also have the right
to do. Otherwise, the state is a power unto itself and becomes the master instead of the
servant of society.
SUPREMACY OF THE INDIVIDUAL
I believe that one of the greatest threats to freedom is to allow any group, no matter its
numeric superiority, to deny the rights of the minority; and that one of the primary functions
of just government is to protect each individual from the greed and passion of the majority.
I believe that desirable social and economic objectives are better achieved by voluntary
action than by coercion of law. I believe that social tranquility and brotherhood are better
achieved by tolerance, persuasion, and the power of good example than by coercion of law. I
believe that those in need are better served by charity, which is the giving of one’s own
money, than by welfare, which is the giving of other people’s money through coercion of
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
I believe that all citizens should be equal under law, regardless of their national origin, race,
religion, gender, education, economic status, life style, or political opinion. Likewise, no
class should be given preferential treatment, regardless of the merit or popularity of its cause.
To favor one class over another is not equality under law.
PROPER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
I believe that the proper role of government is negative, not positive; defensive, not
aggressive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for
some, it must also be able to take from others, and once that power is granted, there are those
who will seek it for their advantage. It always leads to legalized plunder and loss of freedom.
If government is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it is also powerful enough
to take from us everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of government is to
protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens; nothing more. That government is best
which governs least.
The chasm between collectivism and individualism is primarily a phenomenon of the Western
world where the concept of representative government has taken root. Most of the world,
however, does not have that heritage. Large parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East have little
expectation of parliamentary government. They are accustomed to systems that are based on two
other ideologies. One is rule by brute force – what I have called barbarism – and the other is
theocracy, rule by men who claim to represent the word of God. In today’s world where onefourth
of the population adheres to a theocracy called Islam, it is important that we do not omit
this from our matrix of understanding. I have included these additional ideologies in a
comprehensive chart that compares the features of all four. The chart is called Which Path for
Mankind? It can be downloaded from http://www.freedom-force.org/whichpath.pdf.