06 July 2011

July 4th, part 3

A guest post from JW:

Buried deep (page 240) in the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., is the sentence, "Communism's demise was inevitable because it offered respect to the community but never the individual, and so it drained itself of vitality and spirit, one person at a time."

Wow! Think about that and its implications for a moment.

While the the focus on the community, rather than the individual, is only one of the reasons for Communism's demise it is an important and under-appreciated reason. Some people seem predisposed to focus on groups rather than individuals. And those who focus on groups seem to favor groups of different sizes, from the family, to the village, to the earth.

I belong to the small group of people who believe the individual is important -- much as the authors of our Bill Of Rights did. Further, I believe that the voluntary cooperation between individuals results better and more satisfying lives. That noble goals do not justify ignoble acts, such as coercion.

Consider Buckingham's and Clifton's insight the next time a politician presents their solution to the crisis of the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is almost always a balance between community and individual drives. It is not a case of 0 or 1, but a statistical balance that shifts over time and context.

Some personal observations:

For the case of almost pure community orientation, one can look at the Inuit. They have no concept of personal ownership, in the harsh situation that formed their culture, you die without the tribe.

The most interesting thing is how these situations shift. When facing a common crisis, community drive comes to the fore. When the binding force lessens, the individual drives come to the fore.

The challenge with depending purely on voluntary cooperation is working on larger, complex problems with longer term horizons. All these factors produce a situation that motivates intimidation, manipulation and poor risk analysis.

A case in point would be looking at the track record related to tobacco over the last 50 years. Someone else's desire to smoke affects my desire to not breathe a toxic plume. The obvious public health choice does not fit well with the voluntary cooperation model. Then there is the clear manipulation of information and discussion by the people who stand to lose if the logical choice is made.

jerry