Society’s Role in Individualism vs Collectivism

Many people defend collectivism by saying that we need a collective society, but it is a direction of flow, and not an either/or black or white false dilemma fallacy between the individual and society. In individualism, the united collective is there to support, serve, and protect the individuality, rights, and autonomy of each person, while in collectivism, there is a conformist group mind and the individual must give up their individual will and rights in service to the group’s “greater good”, typically in exchange for a few safety related privileges. The “greater good” is the calling card of tyrants though, and is almost always used to usurp individual liberty and rights in the name of safety.

In right hand path spirituality, there is said to be three states of human existence, “conformity, individuality, and unity”, and from what I can tell, this is very similar to how a child would progress from being under their parent’s care, develop into a unique individual as they leave their parents care, and in the last step, they discover how they fit within the greater hierarchy of life, and discover how to work together harmoniously with others—while fully retaining their personal autonomy and individuality. In this way, “unity” is co-creating together with other individuals within the collective without conformity or forfeiture of their individual will to reason.

Ken Wilbur would equate conformity with the pre-personal/rational state of development, individuality would be the personal/rational state of development, and unity would be the trans-personal/rational state of development. In each stage, it transcends and includes previous stages, but because the pre and the trans states aren’t themselves personal/rational, they are often confused as the same thing by the uninitiated and the conformists. Crossing the bridge of individuality (personal/rational) from conformity and into unity is necessary to “transcend” our individuality, but our individuality and autonomy are included within this higher state of consciousness via our having perfected our rational development, because reason makes one an autonomous self-governing individual. There is a big difference between forfeiting one’s ‘will to reason’ and conforming to society, aka collectivism, and developing one’s ‘will to reason’ to the extent that they harmoniously work together with others within their society, aka individualism.

More information on Ken Wilbur and the pre-personal, personal, and trans-personal states of being: the Pre/Trans Fallacy


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