Collectivism is the superiority of the group over the individual. Collectivists use the phrase “for the greater good” to justify the sacrifice of the lives, liberties, and properties of individuals. Individualism is the superiority of no one over anyone. Individualists do not lay exclusive claim to anything other than themselves, leaving other people to decide for themselves how to live their lives. In essence, individualists do not interfere in the free will of others.
Groups are abstract ideas, not tangible living things. Only tangible living things can be considered to have exclusive claim to their life. Not all living things can have exclusive claims. Only animals can make claims because they are sentient. Sentient beings can be considered individuals because of their ability to think, feel, and communicate.
Life is an exclusive claim, not a duty. Individuals own themselves, and no one else. No one has a greater claim over any other individual. To claim otherwise is to say that one can own slaves. By automatic exclusion, doing physical harm to others would infringe on the claim to life of others. Individuals can do whatever they like with their lives, so long as they do not infringe upon the lives of others. Liberties such as thought, belief, expression, and choice are freedoms that all individuals naturally have:
- Freedom of thought – Individuals can think for themselves. No one can think for others, nor can one force others to think a certain way.
- Freedom of belief – Individuals can believe whatever they want. No one can force others to believe what they believe.
- Freedom of expression – Individuals can express themselves however they like. No one can force others to not express themselves, nor can one force others to censor their expression.
- Freedom of choice – Individuals can choose to do what they want, when they want. They can be who they want, go where they want, and live how they want. This liberty is important, because it encompasses many things. It encompasses things like freedom of movement without restriction, the freedom to marry whom one chooses no matter what gender or sex, the freedom to purchase weapons for self defence, the freedom to purchase drugs for recreational or medical use, the freedom to pick and purchase material goods and services, and so on.
Labour is a choice, it is not a duty. Work is required for survival. Individuals can choose to work in agreement with employers for the exchange of the product of their labour for just compensation. If individuals choose not work, they cannot receive just compensation for their labour, and thus are choosing the consequences. Individuals can also choose to own the means of production by justly acquiring the property and working for themselves, or employing others to do the work for them. If individuals save their money instead of spending it, and invest it in a manner that will have good returns, they can then choose to stop working for they have adequate funds to live.
Property is the product of labour. Individuals own themselves, and as such they own the product of their labour. Groups cannot have a claim to property, only individuals. Taking the justly acquired property of individuals is theft. Just compensation for the product of labour is a salary, wage, or income, and is therefore property in the form of money. Money is traded for labour. Taxing is taking. Taxing the income of individuals or businesses owned by individuals is therefore theft.
Charity is choice, not a duty. Individuals can give and receive donations. Groups do not have a claim to charity, only individuals. Individuals can form a group to act as intermediaries to dispense charity only when empowered by individuals through voluntary mutual consent.
Government is a group of individuals. Government cannot act as a charitable group because it is not empowered by individuals through voluntary mutual consent. Government currently acts as a charitable group by stealing the justly acquired property of individuals, and giving it to individuals or groups who may or may not deserve it.
Government also engages in behaviour that limits or denies the freedom of people it claims to rule. It limits freedom of movement with immigration laws. It limits freedom of choice by banning certain goods and services. It limits freedom of expression with censorship. It limits claims to life with conscription, legal abduction, unjust imprisonment, and torture. It denies claims to life with war and the death penalty.
You are an individual. This philosophy of individual liberty is a guide for how to live your life. In no way does it endorse behaviour that you do not agree with. If you do not agree with using drugs, for example, then you are not required to use them. If you do not agree with being greedy, you are not required to be. The important thing is that you are free to be who you are and that no one can force you to be something you are not.
Make use of the following additional resources to expand knowledge and understanding of the topic covered in this unit.
The entire unit, including all additional resources, can also be downloaded as a workbook to be used offline.