Whilst browsing the comment field of a YouTube video, I came across a comment I found interesting. The commenter insisted that collectivism and indentity politics were for people who had nothing else to be proud of. I have heard and read similar statements before, and they seem to be in vogue for the middle-of-the-road liberal types.
I have a fair bit to say on this subject. First and foremost: most people will never achieve greatness. Most people will never really have anything to be proud of beyond having a family, raising their children. And that’s completely fine. It’s all well and good. Most people will not have exhilarating careers that fulfil them, they will have jobs. Menial, boring jobs that pay the bills and little else. Most people will not be well known, most people will not have an impact on the world.
Most people will not be remembered long after their death, save through their descendants. We should remember our parents, our grand-parents and great-grand-parents after their are dead, we should tell stories about them to our children and grand-children. My children will never meet my father, or my grand-father, but I will nevertheless tell them stories of them, so they can know that while they are dead, they have been important men in our family. So that they can know something of the past before their birth. Our ancestors are our link to the past, as our descendants are our link to the future. We all need to feel part of something, part of a group.
Individualists seem to think that collectivism and individualism are diametrically opposed. Having once upon a time been a liberal individualist myself, I still have some recollection of this mindset. Being a collectivist doesn’t mean that the group is all there is, merely that groups are important and meaningful. We find ourselves in groups, get to know who we are through them. We are one part of a family, we are one part of a group of friends, we are one part of a workplace, we are one in a nation, we are one part of a people.
Which leads me to pride in one’s heritage, which is a big no-no nowadays (for certain peoples anyway). The common liberal argument is that well, you didn’t achieve any of these things. Perhaps not, but I am still of the group that achieved these things. My people, my family so to speak. Why shouldn’t I cheer for my country in the Olympics as opposed to some foreign country I know next to nothing about? We don’t feel closer to our country of birth just because we happened to be born within the borders which consitute it. We feel close to our country of birth because it birthed us, nurtured us and because it is our home, and the home of our people. It has a history we are familiar with, customs and traditions we know and a culture we identify with.
History is important to a people, a sense of a past. As is culture, and a culture is an extention of a people. Not all peoples are compatible with all cultures, as I see it.
In conclusion, groups are meaningful and valid. To be an individualist is often to alienate yourself from others, to feel superior to them. It is used a means to belittle other people, and to place oneself above them. “I am not so insecure about myself that I need others to tell me my identity.” and so on. I have read variations on the above statement on the Internet several times. I think the people writing things like that are deluding themselves, I think they are trying to convince themselves and not the world around them.