Collectivism

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(From collective: L. collectivum). Pertaining to any association or group of individuals. A doctrine, social system, and political movement, whose ideals are the holding of goods and services in common and which seeks to transfer to the State the control of the distribution of wealth. This is a highly contradictory movement, which contributed to the rise of the socialist, communist, and anarchist movements as well as to a number of nationalist movements. It starts by opposing the social to the individual, giving priority to the collective. Framing things through such a dilemma presents difficulties, because society cannot be reduced to a biological organism or species, nor the human being to an animal. Historically, c. represented a reaction against an exacerbated individualism. Historical experience has shown, however, the theoretical and practical inconsistency of the postulates of both c. and individualism, demonstrating their limitations and negative consequences when either pole of this dilemma is chosen to the exclusion of the other. In reality, the interests of the human being as a personality are not and can never be antagonistic to the necessities of social progress. The integral development of the person, of each person’s capabilities, is an inalienable condition of the evolution of society. If, on the contrary, the human being is reduced to the condition of being merely a cog in a collective machine, ultimately this will lead to the death of the civilization. C. proceeds from moral principles and feelings of solidarity among people in their work, their community life, their political struggle, and their cultural pursuits. It is antithetical to individualism and selfishness. The traditions of c. largely determine the actions of the person toward society, toward other persons, and orient social conduct, contributing to the formation of certain humanist values (mutual aid, mutual respect, solidarity). In some cases the acceptance of the priority of collective and more broadly viewed social interests (including those of the state) can end up crushing the freedom and existential interests and needs of the individual. Such a characteristic is typical of totalitarian societies. In principle, the traditions of healthy c. are the true foundation of human coexistence and of the humanization of personal and social life. There is no humanism without c., although not every manifestation of c. has a genuinely humanist character. N.H. views the essence of real c. as a conscious and sincere solidarity among free persons and the organizations that express their vital interests.