Two Basic Ideologies
An ideology is a collection of ideas that together build up an individual’s goals, aspirations and actions. There are countless ideologies in the world, but each of them is a variant of or belongs to a subset of a larger, broader ideology.
Once you have explored the basic characteristics and searched for the sources of a given ideology long enough, you come to the conclusion that there can only be two ideologies: individualism and collectivism.
In practice, this means that you are either an individualist or a collectivist. Most people are collectivists, whether they know it or not.
What is Individualism?
Individualism means that every individual is a goal onto him- or herself and cannot be sacrificed for the sake of a higher goal. An individual is inviolable and has the right to live in peace, as long as he or she allows other individuals to live in peace.
Legitimate individuality can exist only in a pure form, and this is through consistent liberalism. The reason for this is that the individual has either full sovereignty over his or her own life, or else he or she does not.
Individualism has given rise and inspiration to several other subordinate ideologies, such as libertarianism, anarchism, social liberalism and so on, but these ideologies include elements of or consequences leading to various degrees of collectivism, and therefore cannot be considered individualism.
What is Collectivism?
Collectivism means that an individual must yield to some form of authority. This ideology emphasizes interdependence between individuals in some kind of collective grouping and that this grouping prioritizes group goals over individual goals.
Rather than being an end in itself, the individual has become a tool for the goals of others with the pretext that it is for the «common good». This exists in many different variations, with different degrees of approximation to individual freedom.
Collectivism is the form of ideology that has been clearly most dominant in the course of human history. Early Stone Age societies placed group goals ahead of individual goals, and the same has happened under monarchies, feudalism, fascism, communism, socialism, Nazism, social democracy, conservatism, Islamism, etc.
Does it Have to be so Black and White?
To say that it either individualism or collectivism must exist, might seem like oversimplified or black/white thinking for many. It is important to point out that there are many shades within collectivism, but when it comes to the completely fundamental difference between individualism and collectivism, it must be either or.
An individual cannot have autonomy while also having someone else, whether this be e.g. socialist or Nazi authorities making decisions for his or her life (property, income, body).
The current dominant ideology in Norway is social democracy. This is an ideology that includes elements of socialism, democracy, and liberalism. However, since liberalism (individualism) is being mixed with socialism (collectivism), one gets a collectivist ideology. It is indeed an ideology with partial inspiration from individualism, but as individualism can exist only in its pure form, the ideology ends up under collectivism.
- When it comes right down to it, there are only two basic ideologies
- These are individualism and collectivism
- Individualism gives the individual inalienable rights to live in peace
- Collectivism violates such rights to varying degrees
- The world is black and white: Either an individual has full sovereignty, or it has not