Sunday, September 8, 2013

Individual and Collective

The full quote is:

There are two ways in which the human machine goes wrong. One is when human individuals drift apart from one another, or else collide with one another and do one another damage, by cheating or bullying. The other is when things go wrong inside the individual—when the different parts of him (his different faculties and desires and so on) either drift apart or interfere with one another. You can get the idea plain if you think of us as a fleet of ships sailing in formation. The voyage will be a success only, in the first place, if the ships do not collide and get in one another's way; and, secondly, if each ship is seaworthy and has her engines in good order. As a matter of fact, you cannot have either of these two things without the other. If the ships keep on having collisions they will not remain seaworthy very long. On the other hand, if their steering gears are out of order they will not be able to avoid collisions. Or, if you like, think of humanity as a band playing a tune. To get a good result, you need two things. Each player's individual instrument must be in tune and also each must come in at the right moment so as to combine with all the others.

But there is one thing we have not yet taken into account. We have not asked where the fleet is trying to get to, or what piece of music the band is trying to play. The instruments might be all in tune and might all come in at the right moment, but even so the performance would not be a success if they had been engaged to provide dance music and actually played nothing but Dead Marches. And however well the fleet sailed, its voyage would be a failure if it were meant to reach New York and actually arrived at Calcutta.

—from Mere Christianity

Lewis was talking about humanity seen from his Christian point of view, but it has even broader application than that. Essentially, he's talking about the distinction between the individual and the society, or, if you will, the collective.

Too many libertarians throw the baby out with the bath and deny the validity of the collective, in overreaction to the overemphasis that most human society gives it. The fact is, that the human ideal, for those of us in the West, at least, is, or should be, as much individualism as possible, in that the collective should not destroy or discourage the individual's development except where necessary — that is, when such development violates the freedom and rights of other individuals.  But the collective is real, and a human universal, even when the collective is no more than a nuclear family with no higher structure. But a society organized no higher than that is not sustainable.  Mankind is always organized at a tribal level at the very least.  The collective must exist.  How, then, to organize the collective so as to give as much autonomy as possible to the individual?  The Founding Fathers made a very good stab at that, with their concept of limited, constitutional government. And they knew what Lewis knew, knew it so well that they thought everybody knew it, and was therefore not necessary to explicitly state.  First, you need a group of people "free" in the medieval sense, of having self-control and integrity.  With such people, you need only a minimal government.  They had such people in those days.  With people like that you can have a minimalist government.  It doesn't really work the other way.  You can't create a society of "free" people by making the government as small as possible.  You can keep the society free that way, but you can't make it free that way.

So in order for us to remain as free as we are and to make ourselves freer, we need to maximize the number of intrinsically sovereign people, and minimize the number of the other kind.  That means we need to stop paying people to be dysfunctional, and subsidizing their reproduction, and that we need to limit immigration to functional people.  One way to insure that is to remove all the incentives for the dysfunctional to immigrate in the first place — no more freebies.  Essentially, we need to discourage everybody who thinks our destination should be something other than survival and freedom. Let them start their own flotilla and sail to their own left-wing utopia without us.

Isn't that simple?  And I got there starting from a C. S. Lewis quote.  Christianity can be pretty wise, when it isn't corrupted by cultural marxism.


  1. There is a dangerous dose of Eugenicist thinking there.

    1. Eugenics isn't dangerous, DYSgenics is:) Seriously, as Steve Sailer says,
      "Eugenics is what happens when cousins don't marry."

  2. Keep goin', Ex-Army, you'll get to traditional monarchy eventually. I did.