Have you ever heard of the term collective responsibility? If you have ever gone through basic training in the military you have probably experienced it when the entire squad is punished for the actions of a single individual. I recall my time in basic training and how, numerous times, we were punished because of one individual who simply could not meet the standards imposed upon us by our drill sergeant. We became so pissed off due to this guy’s incompetence that, on 3 separate occasions, we gave him a blanket party. I won’t go into any details about what a blanket party is, so if you want to know what one is you’re going to have to Google it. Eventually that guy washed out of basic training when he broke down and started crying when the drill sergeant berated him over yet another failure to meet standards.
Anyway, collective responsibility is when an entire group of people are held responsible for the actions of a single individual within the group. While I can see the need for collective responsibility in situations like basic training, in regular civilian life I see absolutely no need for it, yet it permeates society much more than you may be ready to admit; and is often dished out according to the whim and caprice of those in power.
How would you like it if you were in school and one student was caught cheating on a test, and because of that the teacher failed the entire class? I reckon you’d be a tad bit angry; especially if you had studied hard for that test. Let’s say the reverse is the case; one individual studies hard for a test and gets a perfect score, then the teacher turns around and gives a perfect score to every student. I bet you wouldn’t study so hard for the next test if that happened, would you?
Although I did not realize it at the time, when I was making my way through the public school system I began to see the first hints of collective responsibility when they instituted the Bell Curve for grading. Prior to the Bell Curve if you got between 90-100% on a test you got an A; 80-89% got you a B; 79-80% got you a C, all the way to F; which was anything under 60%.
The Bell Curve changed all that. Under the Bell Curve it was determined that a certain percentile of the class would get an A, regardless of how high they scored on a test; with the remaining grades distributed according to a curve. So maybe 10-15% of the class would get an A; 20-30% a B; 40% a C; then going back down to 15-20% getting a D; and maybe 5-10% getting the failing grade of F.
So let’s say you had a class of barely average students with one exceptional student. Under the Bell Curve a certain percentage of the barely average students would get A’s on their tests along with the student who studied hard and learned the material simply because the Curve required a certain percentage of the students be given an A; regardless of how well they performed.
Under the Bell Curve, even if every student in the class got 70% of the material wrong in a test, there would still be A’s, B’s and C’s awarded; even though technically every student had failed the test. Even back in my early years I knew that there was something wrong with a system that sought to reward others by giving them grades they had not earned. Now we have schools giving out participation awards to boost a student’s self-esteem when they do not win an event. If you ask me, all that does is teach our children that they do not have to try hard to win in life; that things will be given to them regardless of the amount of effort they put forth.
I see that all the time in these benefits and opportunity programs that give people things they have not earned, or do not deserve. People think that society owes them an existence simply because they are alive and consume oxygen. It doesn’t matter to them that this existence has to come at the expense of money or opportunity that is deprived or taken from others; they think that just because they are alive that society owes them these things regardless of whether they have earned them.
I see that attitude all the time where I work; people show up on time and think that’s sufficient to earn a paycheck. Not only that, they cry that they are not getting paid enough and want more. God forbid you ask them to actually work…to break a sweat. They think that by showing up on time every day they are entitled to be given someone else’s money to fund their pathetic existence.
This is all part of an overall cancer that is killing this country: Collectivism. Collectivism is the concept that the group takes priority over the individual; that the needs of society are the determining factor in deciding whether or not people get to keep their money, or their rights for that matter. To a Collectivist the needs of society are all that matters, and those who exhibit individualism are to be feared and despised. Freedom is the antithesis of a Collectivist, for if one has freedom the constraints they impose on society do not apply to them; they don’t care whether society benefits from their efforts, only that it benefits them directly; and collectivists cannot allow that belief to spread, for it would mean the end of their belief system.
Now you may believe that an individualist is selfish and greedy; and sometimes they are, but that’s not always the case. An individualist can, and does feel for the needs of those less fortunate, and they often contribute towards helping them. But what separates a collectivist from and individualist is that an individualist believes that this should be a voluntary choice by the individual, while a collectivist believes it should be mandated by whoever controls the political power in society.
In 1850 Frederic Bastiat warned about allowing such a system to exist, calling it Plunder. In his book The Law he explains how to identify Plunder, and what to do when it is found, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.
Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law—which may be an isolated case—is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.”
Plunder cannot exist when there is a system that is based upon the rule of law; such as ours was supposedly built as. Plunder can only exist in a system where the majority will is all that is required to establish what is considered acceptable, or the norm…in other words, a democracy. In a system where the rights and property of the individual is protected, both Plunder and Collectivism cannot exist. It is only when respect for the rights and property of the individual are forsaken for the public good that Plunder and Collectivism can thrive.
Take for instance these mass shootings that occur with frightening frequency; they are a means of exerting the collectivist thought of collective responsibility. Allow me to explain why I say that.
What is the first thing society does after it passes through the stages of outrage and mourning when we have one of these mass shootings? Why, they call for stricter gun laws which punish only those who are inclined to obey the law in the first place. A collectivist believes that society must pay for the actions of the individual; regardless of whether they participated in whatever that individual did. To put that in terms you may understand, let’s say you have a classroom of students and one of them is caught cheating on a test. A collectivist would have the entire class fail the test simply because one person cheated.
I don’t want to make this about guns, or our right to own them, but a collectivist fears guns. Not necessarily because guns are scary. Rather it is that the private ownership of guns provides individualists the means of opposing them. An armed individual is a threat to the collectivist, so they seek to disarm the public; thereby depriving them of the means of resisting their agendas.
Let me ask you something. Why is it that every time there is a mass shooting of some kind they enact tougher gun laws, but every time a drunk driver causes an accident that takes the life of innocent people they don’t enact tougher laws regarding who can purchase alcohol, or how much alcohol you can purchase, or what type alcohol you are allowed to buy? And to show the hypocrisy of collectivist thought, why don’t they revoke the license of all those who drink alcohol when one individual is the cause of a drunk driving accident that takes the life of innocent victims?
Gun owners, and the gun lobby, have proven to be a mighty force in opposing the efforts to ban the private ownership of guns. Yet the collectivists have found a way around the opposition to an outright ban on the private ownership of guns. Now they are incrementally setting standards as to certain conditions that warrant the denial of the right to keep and bear arms.
For instance, if you are diagnosed with certain mental illnesses you can, and will, have the right to own guns taken from you. If you purchase marijuana, either for medical or recreational reasons, you will have the right to keep and bear arms taken from you. Why just marijuana, why not Prozac or Ritalin? Hell, why not alcohol as well; for alcohol is the factor in far more shootings than marijuana is. Why not pass a law that says if you buy alcohol of any kind, beer, wine or liquor, you lose the right to keep and bear arms. After all, if public safety is the goal, then why not go all out?
I don’t expect any of you to do this, but I highly recommend Ayn Rand’s book Anthem for you to read if you want to understand collectivist thought. Rand’s book tells the story of a society where collectivism is so widespread that individuality has ceased to exist. In fact, the word I is not even in their vocabulary; as it denotes the individual rather than the collective.
Freedom and liberty cannot exist in a collectivist world; only slavery to the perceived good of a majority, or those in power can exist in a collectivist world. That’s why I despise political correctness so much, for it is society, or the collective will of others to determine what is and what isn’t acceptable speech or behavior.
I don’t know that we can stop collectivism from taking over this country. I only hope that after reading this the symptoms of collectivism might become more readily apparent to you, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll begin to reassert your individuality and start reclaiming your freedom.