Every Individual is Part of the Whole

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Individualism and Collectivism as
Part of the Same Desire

"Let us also observe that if the needs of the individual are our starting-point, we cannot fail to reach Communism, an organization which enables us to satisfy all needs in the most thorough and economical way."

--Peter Kropotkin, "The Conquest of Bread," 1892, Chapter 14, Part II

As a Socialist, many will argue how I can be an Individualist. If I believe in making things more public and more common, how can I also be a defender and believer of the individual?

My personal belief is that only each person knows what is right for themselves. If they make an incorrect choice, only they can learn from it, and forcing them into the right path, even if you are sure it's the right path, will make them stubborn to it, instead of naturally accepting it out of their experiences.

And it is the stubborn acceptor who will be the first to doubt, the first to exploit, the first to push and shove others around them; "This is how I was indoctrinated into the order, by something being put forcefully upon me! And so I shall do it to others around me! I have been the prey, and now I am the predator..."

But the person to naturally accept something, because their reason and evidence compels them, will be thoughtful and logical. They'll be able to defend their belief in argument; they'll be able to expose deceit and promote virtue. They accepted it, after critically examining it. And it is this skeptical mind that will quickly point out the weaknesses and contradictions of opponents.

Whether it is a religious, social, cultural, or educational idea -- only the individual knows what is right for themselves. Pushing them into something runs the risk of making them stubborn to it, as well as the pusher being deceived in what would improve the individual. Only the individual is the best decision-maker in their own life.

"If you believe so much in the value of the individual, how are you also a collectivist? How can you both believe in the meaning of the individual, and the meaning of the collective?"

As an individualist, I believe that only each individual should make their own decisions. The individual should do what is in their best interest, according to their own reasoning and experience. And it is in the individual's best interest to abolish Capitalism!

Capitalism entails ownership of the majority of wealth by the few. This is its defining detail: that property is held and controlled by the few. For this reason, it operates and functions according only to the interests of the few. Through cooperation, businesses work together to raise prices and fix markets. Then there is always the constant opposition to workers' rights.

Some of this exploitation is done through deliberate agreements; other times, it is done just through the general understanding that all rich corporations have with each other. That understanding is that they want to maintain their position on top of the rest of society. To sacrifice some of the gains from competition, they'll get the security of absolute domination over the market.

What is available for purchase, what hours you work, what land and factories are used for, to what end society operates -- all of this are out of your possession. As an individual, it is in your interest to resist and change it. And as a collective, it is in the people's interest to change it. Only by organizing as a collective will we liberate the individual.

This is the spirit of Anarcho-Syndicalism; and it is the perfect duality of individualism and collectivism.

"We hold further that Communism is not only desirable, but that existing societies, founded on Individualism, are inevitably impelled in the direction of Communism. The development of Individualism during the last three centuries is explained by the efforts of the individual to protect himself from the tyranny of Capital and of the State. For a time he imagined, and those who expressed his thought for him declared, that he could free himself entirely from the State and from society. 'By means of money,' he said, 'I can buy all that I need.' But the individual was on a wrong tack, and modern history has taught him to recognize that, without the help of all, he can do nothing, although his strong-boxes are full of gold.'"

--Peter Kropotkin, "The Conquest of Bread," 1892, Chapter 3, Part I



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Punkerslut (or Andy Carloff) has traveled all across the United States and has experienced American life in the urban centers, as a homeless squatter and as a blue-collar, working-class laborer. Since high school and early development, he has composed a variety of ideas on education, politics, and economy. His positions are ultra-leftist: politically an Anarchist, economically a Socialist, and culturally a Syndicalist. His writings are available through his website: www.punkerslut.com

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