Collectivism or freedom


All collectivist systems need to have a single social goal. They must harness the energy of all people and plan the use of all resources to fulfill a common purpose. Collectivist leaders treat people as armies. Life in the Darwinistic world of class conflict is like a battle for survival between biological species. Losing means death; winning is everything. Such philosophy, of course, is abhorrent to the true liberal since the conscious pursuit of "social" goals inevitably conflicts with personal freedoms. Collectivism, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek, refuses "to recognize autonomous spheres in which the ends of the individuals are supreme."

In The Road to Serfdom, Hayek warned against the dangers of social engineering. He recognized that individual ends could coincide, though this happens mostly on a small scale. In such cases, people should be free to enter into voluntary alliances (such as rock bands, joint stock companies, and professional associations) for the pursuit of their identical goals (fame, money, knowledge), exit the alliances when their views come in conflict with the ideas of other members, and dissolve the alliances when they have exhausted their usefulness. But what is not kosher is to force people to contribute without agreement on common ends (like pouring billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies for human sacrifice at the Planned Parenthood priesthood).

Hayek pointed out that "people are most likely to agree on common action where the common end is not an ultimate end to them but a means capable of serving a great variety of purposes." This explains why the state's role as an umpire is not controversial to Milton Friedman, and why even libertarians like John Stossel are comfortable with delegating to civil magistrates the function of protecting his life, liberty, and property. It also explains why we cannot allow the state to expand beyond those limited spheres without giving it a license to suppress or arbitrarily take away any of our human rights.

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Alex Tokarev
Alex Tokarev

Alex is the chair of the Department of Business at Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill., and teaches at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. The native of communist Bulgaria fanatically supports the Bulgarian soccer team, Levski.


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