6.2.2.2 The Benefits of Individualism

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6222.htm)

Individualists believe in capitalism, which has economic benefits:

  • The desire for wealth, to have money to spend, is an important engine of economic growth (3.2.1). It harnesses people’s instinctive urge to compete with those around them, so they work harder and are rewarded for doing so.
  • Consumer choice, in addition to being a desirable form of individual freedom, drives innovation and opportunities for others to create wealth (3.2.2).
  • The relationship between supply and demand (3.3.2), in a situation where there is competition between suppliers, ensures that customers benefit from continual improvement in value for money: lower prices and/or higher quality.
  • Free trade benefits both rich and poor countries (3.5.4.1) and has led to a huge reduction in global poverty.

These positive aspects of capitalism are reasons why many people are such passionate individualists.

Friedrich Hayek, in The Road to Serfdom, declared that:

“the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based …(is) that the individuals should be allowed, within defined limits, to follow their own values and preferences rather than somebody else’s”. (p. 62)

If one thinks of society as an aggregation of individuals, it seems to be logical that allowing them all to have freedom of choice would be the best way of making everybody happy.

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