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The Fallacy of Collectivism - Ludwig von Mises

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posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 02:58 PM
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To address the widespread popular sympathies for collectivism that seem to be the prevailing ideological wisdom of the day, this excerpt from Ludwig von Mises' "Human Action" may provide some much needed criticism and an unfamiliar perspective to many.

Please note that the term 'liberalism' is used in its original sense throughout Mises' writings and is synonymous with 'classical liberalism' in the modern vernacular.




Excerpted from: The Fallacy of Collectivism



According to the doctrines of universalism, conceptual realism, holism, collectivism, and some representatives of Gestaltpsychologie, society is an entity living its own life, independent of and separate from the lives of the various individuals, acting on its own behalf and aiming at its own ends which are different from the ends sought by the individuals. Then, of course, an antagonism between the aims of society and those of its members can emerge. In order to safeguard the flowering and further development of society it becomes necessary to master the selfishness of the individuals and to compel them to sacrifice their egoistic designs to the benefit of society.



The supporters of a heteronomous morality and of the collectivistic doctrine cannot hope to demonstrate by ratiocination the correctness of their specific variety of ethical principles and the superiority and exclusive legitimacy of their particular social ideal. They are forced to ask people to accept credulously their ideological system and to surrender to the authority they consider the right one; they are intent upon silencing dissenters or upon beating them into submission.






Universalism and collectivism are by necessity systems of theocratic government. The common characteristic of all their varieties is that they postulate the existence of a superhuman entity which the individuals are bound to obey. What differentiates them from one another is only the appellation they give to this entity and the content of the laws they proclaim in its name. The dictatorial rule of a minority cannot find any legitimation other than the appeal to an alleged mandate obtained from a superhuman absolute authority. It does not matter whether the autocrat bases his claims on the divine rights of anointed kings or on the historical mission of the vanguard of the proletariat or whether the supreme being is called Geist (Hegel) or Humanite (Auguste Comte). The terms society and state as they are used by the contemporary advocates of socialism, planning, and social control of all the activities of individuals signify a deity. The priests of this new creed ascribe to their idol all those attributes which the theologians ascribe to God — omnipotence, omniscience, infinite goodness, and so on.



The modern revival of the idea of collectivism, the main cause of all the agonies and disasters of our day, has succeeded so thoroughly that it has brought into oblivion the essential ideas of liberal social philosophy. Today even many of those favoring democratic institutions ignore these ideas. The arguments they bring forward for the justification of freedom and democracy are tainted with collectivist errors; their doctrines are rather a distortion than an endorsement of true liberalism. In their eyes majorities are always right simply because they have the power to crush any opposition; majority rule is the dictatorial rule of the most numerous party, and the ruling majority is not bound to restrain itself in the exercise of its power and in the conduct of political affairs. As soon as a faction has succeeded in winning the support of the majority of citizens and thereby attained control of the government machine, it is free to deny to the minority all those democratic rights by means of which it itself has previously carried on its own struggle for supremacy.



It is customary to call these concerns materialistic and to charge liberalism with an alleged crude materialism and a neglect of the "higher" and "nobler" pursuits of mankind. Man does not live by bread alone, say the critics, and they disparage the meanness and despicable baseness of the utilitarian philosophy. However, these passionate diatribes are wrong because they badly distort the teachings of liberalism.



It is a distortion of facts to blame the age of liberalism for an alleged materialism. The nineteenth century was not only a century of unprecedented improvement in technical methods of production and in the material well-being of the masses. It did much more than extend the average length of human life. Its scientific and artistic accomplishments are imperishable. It was an age of immortal musicians, writers, poets, painters, and sculptors; it revolutionized philosophy, economics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. And, for the first time in history, it made the great works and the great thoughts accessible to the common man.



Liberalism is based upon a purely rational and scientific theory of social cooperation. The policies it recommends are the application of a system of knowledge which does not refer in any way to sentiments, intuitive creeds for which no logically sufficient proof can be provided, mystical experiences, and the personal awareness of superhuman phenomena. In this sense the often misunderstood and erroneously interpreted epithets atheistic and agnostic can be attributed to it. It would, however, be a serious mistake to conclude that the sciences of human action and the policy derived from their teachings, liberalism, are antitheistic and hostile to religion. They are radically opposed to all systems of theocracy. But they are entirely neutral with regard to religious beliefs which do not pretend to interfere with the conduct of social, political, and economic affairs.



Liberalism puts no obstacles in the way of a man eager to adjust his personal conduct and his private affairs according to the mode in which he individually or his church or denomination interprets the teachings of the Gospels. But it is radically opposed to all endeavors to silence the rational discussion of problems of social welfare by an appeal to religious intuition and revelation. It does not enjoin divorce or the practice of birth control upon anybody. But it fights those who want to prevent other people from freely discussing the pros and cons of these matters.



Liberalism is rationalistic. It maintains that it is possible to convince the immense majority that peaceful cooperation within the framework of society better serves their rightly understood interests than mutual battling and social disintegration. It has full confidence in man's reason. It may be that this optimism is unfounded and that the liberals have erred. But then there is no hope left for mankind's future.


edit on 5-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 03:07 PM
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Has it ever occurred to you that truth doesn't need as much defending as lies (what you think is true) do?

Also, what you see in that pic you posted there is what happens when too much time passes without a true correction to the left.

Furthermore, simply claiming yourself socialist doesn't make you so.
edit on 2013/10/5 by Pejeu because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 03:19 PM
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Pejeu
Has it ever occurred to you that truth doesn't need as much defending as lies (what you think is true) do?

Also, what you see in that pic you posted there is what happens when too much time passes without a true correction to the left.

Furthermore, simply claiming yourself socialist doesn't make you so.
edit on 2013/10/5 by Pejeu because: (no reason given)

What makes you think I am a socialist or claim to be?

So, if I may paraphrase, you are saying that the longer society fails to agree with you the more likely you will be to kill political adversaries? Seems like a poor negotiating tactic to achieve your stated goal, especially since that is the very feature of totalitarianism which I find repugnant and completely substantiates my reasons for rejecting socialism.

I realize that this is a voluminous tome and a substantial investment of intellectual energy and time but, the summary I have provided, the excerpt it is from and the whole text are provided. You may choose any or none of them to peruse.

I expect copious criticisms regardless of your familiarity with the subject. Proceed...
edit on 5-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 03:35 PM
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Pejeu
Has it ever occurred to you that truth doesn't need as much defending as lies

It doesn't need defending no... but it does benefit from mentioning out loud again.

Seeds need rain. Truths need voice.



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 03:50 PM
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reply to post by greencmp
 


What a wonderful post. Thank you for this gem, even if it ought to be common sense.

I feel that people vigorously believe that perfection is nearly within reach. So we argue over whose perfection to implement.

Couldn't we instead allow people to carry their own lives the way they see fit? There seems to be an impression that increasing freedom increases chaos. But maybe the madness envisioned is only the outcome of a person with alternative beliefs chafing under an onslaught of conformist pressure.

In nature, you will never see a stand of trees punish, slaughter, or criticize some competing plant that tries to grow in their midst. They simply grow on, and the competing plant will succeed, or it won't.

Balance is natural. Control is not.

Thank you again for this reminder of what liberty really means.



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 07:23 PM
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reply to post by greencmp
 


I would also like to add to this post Dr. Rummel's DEMOCIDE = DEATH BY GOVERNMENT because it gives the real data on what happens when a small group gets a stranglehold on power. Socialism is just the newest excuse used by the elite as an excuse for grabbing control. Before socialism it was religion and the Divine right of Kings.




169,202,000 Murdered: Summary and Conclusions [20th Century Democide]


...Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5', then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century.....

PREFACE*
This is my fourth book in a series on genocide and government mass murder, what I call democide....

After eight-years and almost daily reading and recording of men, women, and children by the tens of millions being tortured or beaten to death, hung, shot, and buried alive, burned or starved to death, stabbed or chopped into pieces, and murdered in all the other ways creative and imaginative human beings can devise, I have never been so happy to conclude a project. I have not found it easy to read time and time again about the horrors innocent people have been forced to suffer. What has kept me at this was the belief, as preliminary research seemed to suggest, that there was a positive solution to all this killing and a clear course of political action and policy to end it. And the results verify this. The problem is Power. The solution is democracy. The course of action is to foster freedom.



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 10:16 PM
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You seem to be asserting that there is something nefarious that occurs whenever three people make an agreement on a street corner to arrange themselves into a group with shared interests, because (to project forward from Mises's thinking) that leads to a subjugation of individual will.

Frankly, yes, agreements do subjugate free men from acting independently. And yes, groups of people hold survival advantages over individuals.

But to say that every time five waitresses pool their tips, that a little part of us dies, is a little ridiculous.

It sounds as though you're combatting the idea of confederations and communes and nations and unions, along with all reasonable agreements amidst groups of men. You're refuting the notion of pacts. That is fine, you can say your piece, but that would be a pure argument on behalf of anarchy, which is unsupportable.

To prove me wrong, what is one real or proposed organization of people that you would applaud?

If you can't furnish one, or if you duck or attack the question, then I'll assume your solution is that we all get a cabin in the woods stocked with resources and ammunition, and that is something a nut would say.



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 10:37 PM
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According to the doctrines of universalism, conceptual realism, holism, collectivism, and some representatives of Gestaltpsychologie, society is an entity living its own life, independent of and separate from the lives of the various individuals, acting on its own behalf and aiming at its own ends which are different from the ends sought by the individuals. Then, of course, an antagonism between the aims of society and those of its members can emerge. In order to safeguard the flowering and further development of society it becomes necessary to master the selfishness of the individuals and to compel them to sacrifice their egoistic designs to the benefit of society.
reply to post by greencmp
 


To be more specific, any three fellows may enter into a "doctrine of universalism," adopting a "conceptual realism" of themselves as a "holistic, collectivist" group, embodying a shared gestalt. This group may start to act like an entity, with its own life-like characteristics. And so on and so forth. This is all a wordy way of saying that humans do organize themselves, effectively. An "antagonism between the aims of society and those of its members can emerge." There are remedies for that, not least of all (as mentioned) is the self-interest of each of the parties.

This normally works itself out. It's not some nasty unrevisable contract. This is the chosen arrangement of people into political parties and unions and all the rest. We're really good at getting out of bad contracts. We keep finding ways to advance our own interests while being parties to groups.

You're worrying about something that isn't a real problem yet, and you're assuming we won't be able to extract ourselves from a truly bad deal at some dark time in the future, but we're a good 10,000 years into doing this. And this has never actually been a problem in a free society. And we do happen to live in one of those.

Whatever specific thing you're thinking of, trust me. It'll be fine.



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 10:39 PM
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michael22
You seem to be asserting that there is something nefarious that occurs whenever three people make an agreement on a street corner to arrange themselves into a group with shared interests, because (to project forward from Mises's thinking) that leads to a subjugation of individual will.

Frankly, yes, agreements do subjugate free men from acting independently. And yes, groups of people hold survival advantages over individuals.

But to say that every time five waitresses pool their tips, that a little part of us dies, is a little ridiculous.

It sounds as though you're combatting the idea of confederations and communes and nations and unions, along with all reasonable agreements amidst groups of men. You're refuting the notion of pacts. That is fine, you can say your piece, but that would be a pure argument on behalf of anarchy, which is unsupportable.

To prove me wrong, what is one real or proposed organization of people that you would applaud?

If you can't furnish one, or if you duck or attack the question, then I'll assume your solution is that we all get a cabin in the woods stocked with resources and ammunition, and that is something a nut would say.

On the contrary, all of the examples you cite above are voluntary agreements and constitute free association. Unions of the public sector variety are another story but, that is a separate conversation.

It is when associations are neither free nor revokable that problems arise.

Does that assuage any fears you might have?
edit on 5-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 11:02 PM
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On the contrary, all of the examples you cite above are voluntary agreements and constitute free association. Unions of the public sector variety are another story but, that is a separate conversation.

It is when associations are neither free nor revokable that problems arise.

Does that assuage any fears you might have?





This normally works itself out.


I yield the remainder of my time.



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 05:57 AM
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greencmpWhat makes you think I am a socialist or claim to be?


OMG, that one flew right over your head.

I was talking about the dude with the gun in the picture.

What you see there is state capitalism. Not socialism. Though it undoubtedly styles itself as such.


So, if I may paraphrase, you are saying that the longer society fails to agree with you the more likely you will be to kill political adversaries?


Not me in particular, the dissatisfied workers in that society.

You know, the ones who actually produce the actual wealth?

I'm not saying I would kill someone (let alone execute them).

Though you never know until you are put in the situation where you actually are the likeliest you have ever been in your life to kill another person.

Push someone, anyone hard and far enough and there's no telling what they might do or how they might exact revenge.

For example I would, if I had the means, execute the parachuted pilot who just killed my family in a bombing run. And I would do it without the slightest compunction.

I would also most likely kill his wingman even though it's wasn't he who actually did it.

And you can take that one to the bank.

I'm truly sorry if you cannot understand how or why someone might feel or act that way.


Seems like a poor negotiating tactic to achieve your stated goal, especially since that is the very feature of totalitarianism which I find repugnant and completely substantiates my reasons for rejecting socialism.


You seem to know better than I do what my stated goals are.

My ideal (cause for them to be goals it implies I envisage a way for me to personally affect the future towards them) would be a society where banks are outlawed.

All banks.

And where there is a guaranteed and unconditional basic income.

And there is strongly progressive income tax.

And companies are taxed progressively according to the ratio of profits to expenditures.

And we force industry to protect the environment and be efficient.

And we have a one world government to enforce these rules evenly and uniformly across the entire world.

No more fiscal paradises, no more outsourcing manufacturing to China and leaving in tatters the country and society that made you and lifted you.


I realize that this is a voluminous tome and a substantial investment of intellectual energy and time but, the summary I have provided, the excerpt it is from and the whole text are provided. You may choose any or none of them to peruse.


I'll give it a try then.


I expect copious criticisms regardless of your familiarity with the subject. Proceed...
edit on 5-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)


I already told you, what you call communism (and we called socialism) was actually state capitalism.

And it was bankrupted and sabotaged at every turn by the US and their Bretton Woods world reserve currency, which later became the petrodollar.

That's when you didn't actually invade or outright assassinate democratically elected government officials.

In recent times you, to preserve and prop up the petrodollar, you sabre rattle (Iran, Syria, Venezuela) or outright invade or sponsor mercenary overthrows (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libia, Syria).

Yet here you are, on your supposed moral high horse.

That's actually a wooden stool.



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 10:33 AM
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Nice topic...You may enjoy Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead'!

"Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group -- whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called 'the common good'." -- Ayn Rand

"Individualism regards man -- every man -- as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful co-existence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights -- and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members." -- Ayn Rand

"A social system is a code of laws which men observe in order to live together. Such a code must have a basic principle, a starting point, or it cannot be devised. The starting point is the question: Is the power of society limited or unlimited?
"Individualism answers: The power of society is limited by the inalienable, individual rights of man. Society may make only such laws as do not violate these rights.
"Collectivism answers: The power of society is unlimited. Society may make any laws it wishes, and force them upon anyone in any manner it wishes." -- Ayn Rand

Various Other Quotes

Thanks



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 10:47 AM
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Pejeu

greencmpWhat makes you think I am a socialist or claim to be?


OMG, that one flew right over your head.

I was talking about the dude with the gun in the picture.

What you see there is state capitalism. Not socialism. Though it undoubtedly styles itself as such.


So, if I may paraphrase, you are saying that the longer society fails to agree with you the more likely you will be to kill political adversaries?


Not me in particular, the dissatisfied workers in that society.

You know, the ones who actually produce the actual wealth?

I'm not saying I would kill someone (let alone execute them).

Though you never know until you are put in the situation where you actually are the likeliest you have ever been in your life to kill another person.

Push someone, anyone hard and far enough and there's no telling what they might do or how they might exact revenge.

For example I would, if I had the means, execute the parachuted pilot who just killed my family in a bombing run. And I would do it without the slightest compunction.

I would also most likely kill his wingman even though it's wasn't he who actually did it.

And you can take that one to the bank.

I'm truly sorry if you cannot understand how or why someone might feel or act that way.


Seems like a poor negotiating tactic to achieve your stated goal, especially since that is the very feature of totalitarianism which I find repugnant and completely substantiates my reasons for rejecting socialism.


You seem to know better than I do what my stated goals are.

My ideal (cause for them to be goals it implies I envisage a way for me to personally affect the future towards them) would be a society where banks are outlawed.

All banks.

And where there is a guaranteed and unconditional basic income.

And there is strongly progressive income tax.

And companies are taxed progressively according to the ratio of profits to expenditures.

And we force industry to protect the environment and be efficient.

And we have a one world government to enforce these rules evenly and uniformly across the entire world.

No more fiscal paradises, no more outsourcing manufacturing to China and leaving in tatters the country and society that made you and lifted you.


I realize that this is a voluminous tome and a substantial investment of intellectual energy and time but, the summary I have provided, the excerpt it is from and the whole text are provided. You may choose any or none of them to peruse.


I'll give it a try then.


I expect copious criticisms regardless of your familiarity with the subject. Proceed...
edit on 5-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)


I already told you, what you call communism (and we called socialism) was actually state capitalism.

And it was bankrupted and sabotaged at every turn by the US and their Bretton Woods world reserve currency, which later became the petrodollar.

That's when you didn't actually invade or outright assassinate democratically elected government officials.

In recent times you, to preserve and prop up the petrodollar, you sabre rattle (Iran, Syria, Venezuela) or outright invade or sponsor mercenary overthrows (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libia, Syria).

Yet here you are, on your supposed moral high horse.

That's actually a wooden stool.

So you are saying that communism is not socialism but, rather, it is state capitalism?

National or territorial defense aside, I think I can take your (or any socialist's) affirmation of a propensity toward violence as confirmation of my darkest suspicions.

I do agree, 'Ideals' is more accurate than 'goals' in this context. It is a utopian vision more than it is a concrete agenda. You elucidate your designs and approach for attaining a totalitarian global authority better than I can.

You do realize that Bretton Woods was a success for communists as our senior representative at the meeting was a soviet spy and achieved tremendous advancements toward forcing the adoption of a monetary policy which tied each country's currency to the US dollar. The process coming to fruition in the early 70s with the complete eradication of gold backed US currency and the inception of the modern fiat dollar.

This was the end of the free market in the west and the beginning of overt state sponsored mercantilism.

I am not sure why you would think that I would represent these events as positive. Do you think that the US and the western world still holds the principals of classical liberalism in high esteem?



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 07:31 PM
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So you're really not interested in a dialectical discussion but rather in spouting your talking points in a pretence dialogue monologue.

Why do you not answer what I said about insurance and banking?

Because you're not interested in discussion.

You know prolly better than most how bankrupt your ideology is.



posted on Oct, 7 2013 @ 07:21 PM
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Pejeu
So you're really not interested in a dialectical discussion but rather in spouting your talking points in a pretence dialogue monologue.

Why do you not answer what I said about insurance and banking?

Because you're not interested in discussion.

You know prolly better than most how bankrupt your ideology is.

I think I responded quite adequately above and I already responded to a similar long-winded set of questions in another thread from you.

I don't feel like rewording it but, I will cite it below:



The free market is just what it appears to be, a free market without constraint based upon individual contracts and the unmolested flow of goods and services. It is not a political system.

Society creates governments, not the other way around. When governments fail (which they always do), society picks up the pieces and tries again.

You may find answers to some of your questions in my previous threads. For instance, I do not believe in patents or copyrights. Not because they are evil or unjust but, simply because they require an invasive government and can never be truly equitable as a result of the inevitable corruption and state violence that accompanies their implementation.

Of course, I do whole-heartedly believe in property as it is a prerequisite to individual liberty (in case you were wondering) but, not intellectual property as is discussed in the thread below:

Intellectual Property is Not True Property

I am an opponent of all fiat currency and central banking. Gold backed currency is the only stable monetary system and banks cannot 'create' fiat currency (be they central or otherwise) under that system.

You reveal your statist indoctrination by assigning credit for the creation of civilization to government, it is simply not true.
edit on 7-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)


(post by Pejeu removed for a manners violation)

posted on Oct, 13 2013 @ 09:29 PM
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reply to post by Pejeu
 

Yup, you are a communist, not sure why you tried to avoid admitting it. I disagree with you.



posted on Oct, 13 2013 @ 09:56 PM
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There are many things that must be done Collectively for a State to exist--border protection, maintenance of highways and water supplies, police and fire protection, sanitation/sewer services---and money supply/formation.

These do not equate to Collectivism. Collectivism is "State ownership" of the means of production of food & energy, manufacturing, job choice & pay, choice of police officers based on anything the "owners"(read banksters) see fit---and a Police State totalitarianism.

Many uninformed don't understand the differences. This is intentional on the part of the education system.



posted on Oct, 13 2013 @ 10:01 PM
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reply to post by greencmp
 


S&F

Glad to know that freedom is alive and well and that there are those that subscribe to it.

I leave you this gem.





posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 05:42 AM
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greencmp
reply to post by Pejeu
 

Yup, you are a communist, not sure why you tried to avoid admitting it. I disagree with you.


Dodge again!

Nice one.

Make this about me supposedly being a hypocrite (when really not) instead of about you being an actual, proven hypocrite.

I am not a communist. I believe that private ownership of property should be limited in both size and scope. That is, limited both in how much you can own as well as what you can do with or on your property.

Which is, surprisingly, the case today.

You can't pollute freely on your land.

You can not murder or rape someone on your property then deny entry to law enforcement.

You can have your car or gun confiscated from you under certain circumstances.

You are obligated by law to provide passage to neighbours to their property if they have no other means to reach their properties by land.

See here for details:

en.wikipedia.org...

And so on and so forth.

If that makes me an extreme left wing socialist, so be it.

That doesn't make me a communist.

Unless you're a randroid or something. Which you actually seem to be.

Hey man, if you are not mentally capable of understanding why both insurance and banking are collectivist and socialist then just say so.

And I'll try to dumb down the explanations more.

But don't just flat-out refuse to answer the question.

That's just...

not cool.

You know?

What I said earlier on about all title to land property being arbitrary?

I was trying to prove to you how inherently bankrupt your supposed philosophy is.

As all property rights are born arbitrarily, by someone arrogating ownership of that land to either themselves or someone else or a group or legal entity.

That is to say all property is born of and through force. Or what qualifies as force under your philosophy.

Because in claiming unclaimed property for yourself you render it not claimable by anyone else. Which is just as good as taking it from them.

So if you're the first person to discover the hidden continent of Atlantis, somehow, by some secret very advance technology cloaked for millennia from the sight of satellites and air and sea traffic that doesn't pass within one nautical mile of the shore, that means you are entitled to arbitrarily ascribe ownership of it, in its entirety, to yourself?

Why?

Cause you happened to be the first one to randomly founder upon it?

Also, as per your very philosophy, all title to lands and resources in the US is inherently illegitimate, except for those of the indigenous population, whose land was seized by force by the Europeans.
edit on 2013/10/14 by Pejeu because: (no reason given)





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