#18 – “Humanity Can Be Best Understood in a Collective Context” : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education

Humanity Can Be Best Understood in a Collective Context”

There are two b20140414_Clichesofprogressivism (1)asic prisms through which we can see, study, and prescribe for human society: individualism and collectivism. These worldviews are as different as night and day, and they create a great divide in the social sciences. That’s because the perspective from which you see the world will set your thinking down one intellectual path or another.

Advocates of personal and economic freedom are usually in the individualism camp, whereas those who think of themselves these days as “progressives” are firmly in the camp of collectivism.

I think of it as the difference between snowstorms and snowflakes. A collectivist sees humanity as a snowstorm, and that’s as up-close as he gets if he’s consistent. An individualist sees the storm, too, but is immediately drawn to the uniqueness of each snowflake that composes it. The distinction is fraught with profound implications.

No two snowstorms are alike, but a far more amazing fact is that no two snowflakes are identical either—at least as far as painstaking research has indicated. Wilson Alwyn Bentley of Jericho, Vermont, one of the first known snowflake photographers, developed a process in 1885 for capturing them on black velvet before they melted. He snapped pictures of about 5,000 of them and never found two that were the same—nor has anyone else ever since. Scientists believe that changes in humidity, temperature, and other conditions prevalent as flakes form and fall make it highly unlikely that any one flake has ever been precisely duplicated. (Ironically, Bentley died of pneumonia in 1931 after walking six miles in a blizzard. Lesson: One flake may be harmless, but a lot of them can be deadly).

[gview file=”http://www.troutinmilk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/18__Humanity_Can_Be_Best_Understood_in_a_Collective_Context.pdf”]

via #18 – “Humanity Can Be Best Understood in a Collective Context” : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education.