Arnold Kling  

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People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal "families" — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob.
--Jaron Lanier

What struck me was the contrast between Lanier's view of collectivism and the more standard romantic notions of collectivism. Lanier's view is that institutional arrangements that place checks on mob rule are highly valuable, while institutional arrangements that encourage mob rule are dangerous.


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COMMENTS (2 to date)
liberty writes:

I always think of "mob rule" as something similar to (but less specific than) majority rule, while I think of organization such as communism to be more hierarchical and not represent "mob rule" but instead a single direction - authoritarian. Putting the two (authoritarian rule and mob rule) together seems like an interesting choice. Still, I agree that checks on both are important, or rather institutions that protect freedom from any kind of coercion are important.

Rick Gaber writes:

I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob.

"Collectivism is the real-world manifestation of the subjective, emotion-based feral animal origins of humanity, like some recurring echo emanating from the primitive reptile brain that physically exists in all of us. It is the antithesis of rational objectivity, something that no amount of fancy verbiage from Marx or Chomsky or Himmler or Plato or Rousseau can disguise in their respective paeans to force and unity over intellect and evolution. Collectivism is a fancy word for tribalism. It is a hold over, an atavistic throw back ..." -- Perry de Havilland, HERE

I now have both the above quotes, one after the other, on my page at http://freedomkeys.com/individualism.htm.

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