Collectivists believe that individuals should surrender some liberty in order to support the well-being of the community. They believe that everybody should be provided with basic socio-economic rights (126.96.36.199) and adequate public services.
Collectivism is diametrically opposed to individualism (6.2.2), which prioritises freedom of the individual. It is compatible with two overlapping political philosophies:
- ‘Communitarianism’, as defined in Amitai Etzioni’s article, “emphasizes the importance of society in articulating the good”. It argues that the needs of society must be met before individuals can thrive.
- ‘Utilitarianism’, as described in John Stuart Mill’s essay, can be loosely defined as aiming for ‘the greatest good of the greatest number’.
As described in the following sub-sections, there are three broad categories of collectivism:
- ‘Social democracy’ (188.8.131.52) is the predominant Western form of it. It is a political system in which governments fund public services by collecting taxes, to harness some of the wealth created by capitalism.
- ‘Socialism’ (184.108.40.206) is characterised by State ownership of major industries, thereby limiting the role of private enterprise. In some forms, such as communism, it suppresses all individual freedom and is authoritarian.
- ‘Green’ movements (220.127.116.11) advocate protection of the planet and its wildlife, regarding it as a communal good that should take precedence over economic considerations.
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