Spare Me from Collectivism

by Don Boudreaux on February 25, 2008

in Myths and Fallacies

Yesterday I sent this letter to the Baltimore Sun:

In “Words still have the power to inspire” (February 24) Leonard Pitts Jr. writes approvingly that the President’s authority comes chiefly “from his ability to rally the people, to inspire them in some great challenge or crusade.”

Reading these words clarified for me an elemental reason for my scorn of conservatives and modern “liberals.”  Being libertarian, I find no romance in collective action.  The yearning to be part of a great collective “challenge or crusade” – be it conservative or “liberal” – reflects humans’ tribal instincts.  These instincts served a sound purpose during our hunter-gatherer past, but are today at odds with the individualism that makes us free and prosperous.  Even worse, these atavistic instincts are exploited by silver-tongued and arrogant office seekers such Barack Obama to gain measures of power that no man or woman should ever be trusted with.

Donald J. Boudreaux

If you, Dear Reader, want to be part of a collective movement, that’s fine with me.  Really, it is.  I wish you luck and happiness.  But please don’t force me to join you in your crusade (whatever it might be).  And please don’t presume that if I choose not to join in any collective effort, or only in a collective effort involving fewer persons than the efforts you favor, that my life is somehow empty, my soul shriveled, my mind small, my heart uncaring, my habits contemptible.  I myself might well wish to be part of a cause larger than myself — I reserve that right — but I promise never to force you to join with me; I promise never to presume that you are less of a person if you refuse to join my cause or even if you refuse to join any collectively pursued cause.


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