Refuting “The Collective”


After reading the comments in my last post, I find myself wondering how many of the people who embrace the notion of the collective have actually stopped to think about what the concept of the collective actually means for them.  How many of them have even read Marx, or understand Marx’s notion of “Communism?”  How many understand that the very idea of a collective is self-contradicting?  How many understand that the collective is a fiction: it cannot and will never exist.  How many realize that the collective is an idea devised to create a moral justification to steal the fruits of another person’s labor and, at the same time, shield one from the guilt associated with knowing one is taking something they did not create or earn?  How many recognize that the idea of the collective to play to their greed and envy; to seduce them into surrendering their political power, which is then employed by the tyrant to wrest control of society from the existing ruling class and, at the same time, enslaving the whole of society – themselves included?   And how many can even look past that envy of others long enough to care – even for a moment?  Well, I have read Marx, and I have given quite a bit of careful thought to these issues.  That’s why I know that everything I just asserted is true, and now I’d like to explain why I came to these conclusions.

First, we have to start with another definition:

Definition of COLLECTIVE

1: denoting a number of persons or things considered as one group or whole <flock is a collective word>

2a : formed by collecting : aggregated

b of a fruit : multiple

3a : of, relating to, or being a group of individuals

b : involving all members of a group as distinct from its individuals <a collective action>

4: marked by similarity among or with the members of a group

5: collectivized or characterized by collectivism

6: shared or assumed by all members of the group <collective responsibility>


OK, everything we need to understand is right there in that definition.  First, the collective is a group.  By definition, this means the individual is not even considered except as a component of that group.  So, if the collectivist is to be intellectually honest, he must think of himself as akin to a single cell within the body of an organism.  And the fate of any single cell is insignificant to the survival or well being of that organism, so the fate of the collectivist is immaterial to society.  Therefore, if the collectivist believes in the notion of the collective, they should never argue for anything in relation to the individual as, in a collective, the individual is insignificant; of no consequence or concern.  Incidentally, this also defines the collectivist’s conceptualization of morality, or rather, lack thereof.  As, if the collectivist is consistent with his ideology, the moral action will always be the one that favors the collective.  And both of these points together bring us to the internal contradiction within the notion of the collective.

In order for a group to exist and function as a single entity, it must have a point of direction: a central controlling authority.  But humans do not think collectively.  We may be social beings, operating within small collections of other individuals, but we think and act as autonomous individuals.  If this were not the case, the collectivist would never have to make their case: we would all automatically know it already from having shared in his collective thought.  So the assertion that humanity is a collective or can ever function as a collective is absurd because the characteristics of a collective share nothing with the characteristics of human nature.  In fact, they are mutually exclusive.  In order to function in a manner even resembling a true collective, there must be a central controlling authority, or ruler.  And it is at this point that the argument for why we should embrace the notion of the collective breaks down, as well.

Supposedly, the collective is morally superior to individualism because it is “socially just.”  One RNL reader actually summarized Marx and the assumed moral superiority of the collective quite nicely:

 “Inidividuals still contribute and operate in society, but they will never ever hold power over the collective labor of man. Albert Einstein is free to study and debate science, but if he wanted to hire workers and sell the fruits of the labor of the workers at a profit and not give the workers the income made from their labor, he would be prohibited from doing so. Since the workers create everything, are they not entitled to own everything. If the worker’s would organize and manage production the need for capital/investment would vanish. You don’t need money to build a factory, you need the labor of workers and food, housing and tools to make a factory. All of that can be provided if all the workers, agricutural, industrial, construction, transportation would be organized to provide their labor to the factory constructors in exchange for a new factory. The only reason capital has a purpose is because it is a way to exchange labor. we need to move beyond a system of unplanned labor exchanges to one of planned labor use. in essence there is no need for bourgeoisie or money, just workers.”

 Notice how this RNL reader starts by inadvertently providing the negation to his own argument.  He starts by asserting that the individual cannot control the labor of others, then provides an example he believes illustrates his point.  In this case, he uses Einstein controlling the labor of others by employing them to perform whatever work he needs done to make his profit.  By admitting that Einstein is controlling the labor of others – even though he is using prejudicial wording – he negates his assertion that this cannot happen.  Then he goes on to say that it cannot happen because it will not be allowed.  But he doesn’t stop there, he continues: he says that workers just need to be organized and their labor directed as needed.  And there is his admission that there is no such thing as a collective, only the transfer of power from the capitalist — who only controls the labor of those who freely contract to sell it to him — to the central authority, which enforces whatever dictates that authority deems necessary for society unto every member of society – at all times.  In short, the collective is nothing more than a ruse that uses the greedy and envy of the worker to allow the tyrant to seize power over and enslave everyone.

But there’s something else in this readers argument.  The collectivist assumes his personal greed is justified, and therefore, he is entitled to all the fruits of his labor.  This implies that the capitalist (Einstein) is not justified in his profits.  Instead, the collectivist asserts that the capitalist’s profits are unearned because he doesn’t work for them.  Well, if this is the case, why does the central authority have to decide that a factory is needed; what it will make; where, when and how it is to be built; and then organize the other forms of labor to provide the barter necessary to build it? Isn’t that all part of the capitalist’s labor?  And doesn’t the capitalist then train, manage and administrate the factory on top of all that – while, at the same time, assuming all the risk should the factory fail?  If the capitalist hasn’t earned his profit for doing all of this, then why didn’t the workers just do all of this on their own, without direction?

But let’s take this further.  If society is a collective, then that means the body – the sum of all individuals — would just willingly do whatever is necessary to build the factory.  So why does the collectivist reader admit that all these efforts must be “organized?”  Here again, this is an admission that A – there is no such thing as a collective and B – the collectivist is just trying to justify replacing the capitalist with a tyrant whom he believes will give him more of another person’s stuff.  Remember, this reader said the worker is entitled to all the profits because they do all the work.  He never gave any allowance for the work or risk taken by Einstein in his example; thereby, he exposes his true motivation: greed and envy.

Finally, the reader assumes the workers in his example are under-paid for their labor.  First of all, this is a strawman.  The example asserts the workers are underpaid, but there is no proof that this is the case in the example, or actual society.  It is just this collectivist’s opinion, which – as I just demonstrated – is motivated by greed and envy.  The reality is, in a free market where the worker functions as an autonomous individual, if he feels as though his labor is undervalued, the worker is free to attempt to renegotiate the price of his labor.  Failing that, he could ask for more hours, seek a second job, find a new job all together or, if he is so inclined, he can even start his own factory.  In the free market, the worker is not forced to do anything.  However, in the collective, by definition, the worker must be forced to do everything he does.  And the proof of this is me.  All I need is one example of a worker who would have to be forced to participate in the collective to negate the collectivist’s assertion that I would do so willingly, and I am providing it by asserting that I will not submit.

And thus, the entire premise of the collective is negated.  It is a fiction that cannot possibly exist in reality.  It is contradictory to human nature.  And it rests on demonstrably false assumptions.  In short, the notion of the collective is as I claim it is: hog wash designed to con the greedy and the envious into willingly surrendering to slavery in the hopes that their new master will give them something that was earned through the labor of and belongs to another person.

But, hey, if the collectivist still wants to be a part of a collective, they should join the Borg.  While it is just part of a science fiction series, Star Trek, the Borg is the perfect illustration of the collective as it exists in reality – right down to the central control of the collective by the queen.  The reason the collectivist has no problem with the Borg is simple: the collectivist always envisions himself as being part of the central authority that directs the rest of the collective.  You know: “Some animals are more equal than others?”

16 thoughts on “Refuting “The Collective”

  1. Joe, good post
    The problem is: collectivists are ignorant at best, evil at worst, they don’t care for “justice for all, or equality for all”…

    Marxism is nothing more than replacing monarchy with an oligarchy…

    It amazes me, Marx examined the monarchies’ inadequacies, and instead of seeking to correct and PREVENT their injustices, he sought to find a reason to justify replacing himself, his injustices for their monarchies.

    I’m always flabbergasted by supporters of modern day “democrats” at their supporting their demise…

    So F … #$%^&*#$%^&*)_ … stupid…

  2. I second what Texas says !! … Good Post.

    “…Marxism is nothing more than replacing monarchy with an oligarchy…” Perfectly put….Marxism is an Oligarchic Feudalism.

    ( For a minute there though…I thought Joe had gotten hold of one of my Class reunion pictures ….upon further inspection however it was obvious Joe had selected a better looking bunch of Hombres…)

  3. The strongest selling point of Marxism has always been the thought that the collective can legitimately take from those who have more to keep for themselves and in that thought process, the “takers” simply do not think that those rules apply to them. They are seduced by simple envy, rationalizing institutionalized theft as “equality” and “fairness”. Every time I hear a “progressive” talk about ” equality”, I think about the quote from Russell Long, the long serving Democrat Senator from Louisiana about tax “reform”, he said about “tax reform,” that it simply meant “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!”

    As far as the Einstein argument, I would take a slightly different view. I would suggest that in a true Marxist society, the chances of having an Einstein are significantly lower than in a capitalistic – or even a monarchical society. If you study Soviet industrial production in the heyday of the USSR, you will see something that is common in union shops in the US today and that is the discouragement of individual performance because it makes the collective look bad. I can speak from experience from once managing in a UAW/IAM shop where it was common for new, young employees to just blow the standard production rates away, only to see them shrink to match the standard rates within about a week. The newbies got pressured to fall in line because if they kept it up, management would realize that the rates needed to be revised and then everybody would be expected to run that way. Since running a machine every day at exactly the same rate is a statistical impossibility, we knew that the rates were being artificially suppressed by the union culture – which is demonstrably communist.

    Same in Soviet factories. There was a huge incentive to not produce because the goal was “equality” and conformity not excellence and productivity.

    Marxism also seeks conformity in thought as well as action. One has to wonder if Einstein would have even been able to bring his radical ideas to light if the work of one of the chief opponents of his Theory of Relativity, physicist Ernst Gehrcke, was the government approved science – and make no mistake, Marxist governments control what is “proper” in the scientific community just at they do in society (this is why “climate science” smacks of Marxism).

    We also had a very bright young man, a union member and former shop steward who aspired to enter management. We promoted him to a production supervisor and he was immediately ostracized and was the object of scorn from the bargaining unit members because he dared to leave the collective and join management – the enemy.

    I laugh at these little Marxists and proto-communists because their very motivation is not to make their lives better, their goal is to make someone else’s life worse.Marxism is nothing but shared misery.

    If communism is such a great system, why is capitalism and the free market still the greatest vehicle to pull people out of poverty? If Marxism is so great, why do Marxist governments always practice capitalism to make money? China is a perfect example of a country that uses Marxism/communism internally to control its people while the communist government plays a capitalist game internationally to enrich itself. It is a fact that in Marxist countries, the party members and those connected to government treat themselves as elites and have a very different standard of living than the populace. This has been true in every collectivist society in history. Capitalism, combined with a republican form of government has done the more to fairly distribute freedom, power and economic success than any other political/governance system in the history of the world…and the more collectivist a government/society gets, the more unfair this distribution becomes.

    That is a historical fact.

  4. A central authority is necessary for the new social being to operate. there is nothing wrong with this. the workers will organize into councils on levels from the factory to the international scale. it would be the worker’s instrument for control over production. Right now the means of production are not controlled by the workers, but by the bourgeoisie class, there is no democracy in this, how can you argue a workers collective structure controlling the labor of the workers: is less legitimate than a private individual holding power over the workers’ labor just because he owns the factory. The worker’s built the factory, and they work the factory. you claim to have read Marx, but apparently you didn’t get pass the theory of surplus value, if there is a profit made from the products of the laborer, he is underpaid. All workers are underpaid by the bourgeoisie class. you make the assumption that all worker can just become capitalist, if this were to happen there would be nobody to work, i know you also made the assumption that workers can just negotiate higher pay or ask for more hours, how is this supposed to happen if the workers are not united, and workers in poor countries will take the jobs for pennies on the dollar, also as more labor is done by machine, the need for labor decreases; leaving many workers competing for fewer and fewer jobs.

    in a socialist system a new machine that would eliminate two hours of work, would be used to reduce everyone’s hours by two hours, but compensation would remain the same since the same amount of production is occurring, but with less time.

    in capitalism a new machine that would eliminate two hours of work, would be used to reduce everyone’s hours by two hours, the gain of those two hours would go to the factory owners as production remains the same, but payroll decreases, an increase in profit on the product is enjoyed by the bourgeoisie, but a decrease in wages is put on the back of the workers.

    being forced into a collective does not negate collectivism, collectivism is about the interest of the many outweighing the interest of the individual. If you think it is bad for an individual to be forced to sacrifice is bad, then you have not moved on past kindergarten in social thinking, sometimes it is required for an individual to sacrifice. in capitalism, individuals are forced to sacrifice, wages by having to compete with third world countries for work. they also have to sacrifice years of their life just to get a decent wage, by going to college for years, all these sacrifices are sacrifices dictated by the free market, in other words, sacrifices to the interest of the bourgeoisie. in socialism what sacrifices won’t be decided by random exchanges by the bourgeoisie in an effort to seek more profit. sacrifices will be decided by the workers, the workers deciding how to allocate resources and work.

    • “…If you think it is bad for an individual to be forced to sacrifice is bad, then you have not moved on past kindergarten in social thinking, …”

      That IS Kindergarten Thinking Karl ….. Barney and Baby-Bop said it best…”Clean-up Clean-up…everybody Share “.

      “how can you argue a workers collective structure controlling the labor of the workers: is less legitimate than a private individual holding power over the workers’ labor just because he owns the factory. The worker’s built the factory, and they work the factory.”……
      …..Because Karl……A private individual or Group of individuals owns the Factory and the workers CHOOSE to exchange their labor for wages….the wages are provided by money that is obtained by selling the Product ofthe Factory…..the Factory owner(s) and the workers engage in a Contract of Exchange of ownership…..the workers OWN their Labor and can choose to Barter with it…..the Factory owners own the output which they in turn EXCHANGE with Customers for their Money ( which the Customers own)……the contract stipulates the indebtedness of the Factoryowners to pay for the Labore offered and provided Contractually to the Owners by the workers. Surplus value as you call it is used to maintain effectiveness of the Physical Plant and to Expand production (hire more workers) and to possibly expand into new Business sectors as opportunity or Need presents it self ( again new workers required).

      The essence is that the Worker owns his OWN labor, the Factory owner doesn’t and neither should a “Workers Collective structure”……anything that removes that Direct ownership and Control of the workers Labore and the Fruits of it is immoral… is the Workers Labor and skill set which is his/her to enter into contract with for renumeration or exchange as he or she see fit !!

    • Heh.

      “Two of the major theories why normally logical people with the capacity for reason reject reliable information that wcould cause them to change their opinion about something are cogitative dissonance and confirmation bias. Cogitative dissonance occurs when a person holds two opposing and irreconcilable beliefs or cognitions at the same time, and the resulting state of tension is known as cognitive dissonance. Because this inner dissonance is unpleasant, we are motivated to reduce or eliminate it, and that powerful motivator to maintain cognitive consistency can occasionally give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior. This might explain why people cannot accept that people they trust can act in an untrustworthy manner even when they see evidence of malice. The cogitative dissonance that occurs (believing that a person is both trustworthy and untrustworthy) creates a desire to achieve consonance (i.e. agreement) and so people are likely to reinterpret the evidence until it conforms to their preconceived notions. The second major theory is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias occurs when people look for evidence that confirms their preconceived notions, while ignoring evidence that is contrary to their already held beliefs. It can be thought of as a form of selection bias in collecting evidence for ideas that they already hold. These two theories might explain why so many people cannot seem to believe that politicians they support might be acting out of malice and be purposely working to weaken America.”

      This article reminds me of TRNL’s 3 requirements to be a modern “progressive”:

      1. Selective memory/political amnesia
      2. Cognitive dissonance
      3. Confirmation bias

    • Chhelo,

      Good article, but I think it could be even better had the author addressed the fact that these people doing malice often see their actions as doing “good.” As I have tried to explain in the past, they are driven by a perverted sense of morality derived from their own arrogance and narcissism. However they get to this point, they are convinced that they see a “higher good” for humanity and that, because they alone understand this higher good, they have a moral obligation to drive humanity in that direction — even at the expense of having to “liquidate” a large part of society should it resist. You see, once you boil every individual down to a single organism called “the collective,” then to ONLY moral imperative is whatever the self-appointed god (little g) decides is best for that collective.

      This also explains why — even within their own circle of self-appointed elites — the collectivists never agree with each other. They all think they are the only person with the answer, and every one of their answers is different from the other — even if only slightly. In reality, this is another manifestation of the negation of their collectivist paradigm. That they cannot agree and all need to run things their way shows that it is impossible to have a human collective because we are all autonomous individuals with our own independent will.

  5. Pingback: The Cooperative vs. the Collective | The Rio Norte Line

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