In debates lately, I struggle with trying to explain individual issues in context with the greater whole, an entire perspective on Individuals versus the Collective, and how they relate to the Elite. It occurred to me the greater divide is in those three mentalities. We get bogged down discussing healthcare or monetary policy. People side with one party or another, even the moderates or centrists generally have an ideological preference. That is the problem we really face. It transcends the trifling issues. In the end, it is about power. There are three approaches to power on a very basic level:
1. The Individualist
The Individualist gains his power from within. Confidence is built on competency and ability. An Individualist will often eschew outside help even if the help is freely offered. This puzzles Collectivists, because it seems inefficient and wasteful. Why turn down free help? But to the Individualist, he must do as much as he can himself in order to feel powerful and in control of his environment. Only when he has exhausted his own ability will he seek help, and doing so costs him some of that confidence, some of that power.
When you see a stubborn man refusing to go to the doctor, you are likely looking at an Individualist. These folks are highly adaptable, self-reliant and naturally suspicious of even the most benign forms of government. They are pragmatic in the extreme, to the point of being considered heartless, and have a general disdain for excessive emotional displays. Some of them are governed by traditional values and morality, and they tend to be more ossified and rigid. Others operate independent of tradition, and they are seen as quite radical. Collectivists tend to view them with confused hostility and seek to regulate their behavior so as to minimize disruptions to larger systems. That disruption can be very real, as their pessimistic nature can often manifest in behavior that damages a community. True Individualists are relatively rare, comprising (in my highly unscientific view) roughly 15% of the American population. They used to be much more common.
2. The Collectivist
The Collectivist gains his power from solidarity and group allegiance. Asking for help is empowering for them, as it connects them with their community. Note that this doesn’t necessarily reveal political affiliation, as Collectivists exist in traditional religious groups as well as agnostic political ones. They are very emotionally supportive of one another and have a strong need for others to communicate with. They are strongly concerned with how they and others around them feel, and this often trumps pragmatism with them, leading to frequent accusations that they are blind to the realities of their decisions. They can be very optimistic about leadership and governing bodies, be they religious or political, because their first instinct is to organize and plan.
When forced to act independently, without their supporting group, they quickly burn out. Their power is expended by excessive self-reliance. Like the Individualists, however, they can exist on either side of tradition. Some groups of Collectivists thrive on tradition and others are strongly opposed to it, but both groups tend to approach the problem in an identical manner. In large numbers, Collectivists’ ability to support large, complex systems is truly impressive, but just as often these systems will collapse under their own weight and they are vulnerable to the actions of Individualists, which act as a disruptive influence on them. They comprise a majority in America, which in my rough estimate, would be something like 75-80%. Anybody who asks “how does that make you feel” is likely a Collectivist.
3. The Elitist
The Elitist gains power from commanding and controlling Collectivists and Individualists. They tend to be skeptical of tradition, but are willing to use it where it benefits them. Contrary to popular belief, they are not all evil or hostile, but they do not gain power from group solidarity or solitary achievement, they gain power by fiat declaration. They are emotionally powerful, able to elicit powerful emotions in others. They are neither excessively emotional nor extremely pragmatic, but successful Elitists generally tend toward a certain amount of pragmatism.
They have an affinity for like-minded Collectivists and develop either symbiotic or parasitic relationships with them, depending on ideological motivations. Elitists gain power from having the ability to command, however, so disobeying or ignoring them deprives them of their sense of power. They view Individualists with a great deal of hostility, much more so than the Collectivists (who are more confused by Individualists than hateful of them). Elitists also don’t care for their fellow Elitists, lacking the grudging respect of the Individualists or the Community-minded nature of the Collectivists. However, they have an impressive ability to harness the power of the Collective to accomplish truly remarkable things, for both good and evil. They are exceedingly rare, and are likely 10% or less of the overall population. Elitists are hard to spot, sometimes, because they tend to be involved closely with Collectivists, but the person who places many barriers between himself and the outside world is likely an Elitist.