William Thien

A Note on Collectivism

Posted on: July 5, 2013

I overheard a local conservative talk radio host use the term “Conservative Collective” the other day.

The problem with that sentiment is that there is no such thing. It sounds slick. But in a political sense, it is a non sequitur and conservatives must be careful not to use the term “collective” confusingly.

Politically speaking, collectivism is a function of socialism and communism and it means to centralize wealth and governmental authority. In the sense of organized labor, collectivism is “collective bargaining” and it involves group worker action which is not related to politics or government in a strict, political sense of the word, though many have construed it so otherwise.

Diametrically opposed in a political sense, Conservatism is based primarily on smaller government and individual rights. For conservatives to seek the same objective is one thing, but it is improper in a political science sense to use the term “collective” when describing conservative unanimity.

Then of course there is the collective that is the “herd or mob mentality,” more socially motivated, the tyranny of the masses.

For many the term “collective” is much like a code word indicating a certain type of governmental behavior that is to be viewed with suspicion. As an example, I was suddenly alarmed and surprised myself when a particular Republican candidate’s wife used the term “collective” during her national speech a while back, which leads to my essay concerning the influence of a candidate’s spouse, Marital Influence on a Candidate.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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