The Collectivism reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Collectivism

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Collectivism, in general, is a term used to describe a theoretical or practical emphasis of the group, as opposed to, and possibly at the expense of, the individual. It is thus directly opposed to individualism.

Many types of collectivism state that the good of the group is more important than the good of the individual - or, alternatively, that the individual serves his own interests by serving the group's interests, as a bee ultimately serves its own self by serving its hive. Collectivism in this sense is closely associated with altruism. Varieties of collectivism are distinguished in part by which group they mean, for example national, racial, religious, economic class, or all of humanity.

Economic collectivism holds that capital and land should be owned by the group and not by the individual. Central to this is the concept of the commons, as opposed to private property.

Some political systems are based on a form of collectivism known as corporatism - fascism in particular. Nationalism regards people with reference to their nationality. Marxism regards people with reference to their economic class.

Some political collectivists hold that different groups have competing interests, and that the individual's interests and characteristics are in fact tied up with the interests and characteristics of his or her group. Or in other words, that the individual serves his real interests by serving his group's interests. Differences between groups are considered significant, while differences between individuals within groups, to the extent that they are acknowledged at all, are considered unimportant. This line of reasoning, anti-collectivists allege, often leads to the suppression of individual rights, which are sacrificed for the alleged good of the group.

Other political collectivists emphasize the notions of equality and solidarity, and see all human beings as part of the same group, with common interests. They maintain that competition and rivalry between individuals or smaller groups is overall counter-productive or detrimental, and should therefore be replaced with some form of co-operation. Anti-collectivists make the same objections to this form of collectivism as to the previous one, while collectivists defend their views by arguing that the "common good" is only the sum of the "individual good" of every member of the group, and that collectivism therefore benefits the individual. There is also a specifically economic objection, which is that competition is healthy for the economy, and that cooperation in the sense intended here really amounts to anti-competitive combination, or cartel, which harms the economy in a way similar to a monopoly.

Some, such as Ayn Rand and those influenced by her, reject collectivism as fallacious in theory and immoral in practice. For instance, Rand argued in her essay "Racism" that racism was a crude form of collectivism because it involved judging people, not as individuals, but as members of a racial collective.


Collectivism is also the name of a free magazine for Wolverhampton; see Collectivism (magazine).