Role of the individual • The key issue in determining the degree to which an ideology is individualist or collectivist is the understanding of what the individual’s role is in society • Individualist – self-reliance, freedom from authority • Example: private business (succeed or fail) • Collectivist – interdependence, importance of the group over the individual • Example: universal health care (all pay the same regardless of use)
Origins of Individualism • These ideas grew out of the Enlightenment • Time corresponding with the Renaissance • Philsophers began to question the role of government in the economy and the power government should have in people’s lives • Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau • Especially Locke – rejection of the Divine Right of Kings
Characteristics of Individualism Government control is seen as interfering and counter-productive
Individualism • Rule of law – everyone is subject to the law, including the government – each individual is the same • Individual Rights –each individual has the right to vote, freedom of conscience, association… • Difficult to balance individual rights – e.g. freedom of speech • Private Property – real estate, physical property and intellectual property: respecting the individual • Self-interest/economic freedom: laissez-faire and invisible hand • Competition – when we compete with each other, we work harder thus everyone benefits.
Wal-Mart workers are part of a group, but how are they individualistic rather than collectivist?
Where do you fit in? • http://www.politicalcompass.org/test • http://www.politicswatch.com/VoteSelectorQuiz2006.html • http://www.theadvocates.org/quizp/index.html • CBC News in Review Oct 2008
Liberalism What in the world does this word mean?
Oxford Dictionary • Noble, generous • Free from prejudice, tolerant • Free from restraint in speech or action • Tending in favor of freedom and democracy • Liberalism favors the values of individualism
In a liberal society there is no vision of the “good life”(e.g. how to live your life according to philosophers, religious leaders) • what is good is whatever each of us individually choose for ourselves. No moral picture of how things should be. • Concern: how do you create a unified society if everyone is focused on themselves?
Consider: • If you believe all people are created equal, then should we open our borders and allow anyone to come in and share our resources with them? Despite the UN declaration of equality, our rights stop at the border = civil (us vs them) • Locke established liberal ideas like democracy to stop us from being oppressed by the state and now states give/take those rights. • What do we do with someone who does not come from a society that agrees with our notions of liberalism and rights? How do we allow them the freedom to act as they please if their actions go against our values?