I have recently been reading Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, which is a thorough description of socialism, how socialists come to power, and all of the effects of socialism once it is in power. To me, the whole thing boils down to collectivism versus individualism, and the core issue is this:
With collectivism, when there is a conflict between the rights of the collective versus the rights of the individual, there is no where to draw the line for resolving that conflict. You can’t set a general rule describing where the rights of the individual end and the rights of the collective begin. The collective always wins. If you follow that to its natural conclusion, in the end, individuals have no rights. All individual rights are ultimately sacrificed to the collective.
With individualism, the rights of the individual are easily drawn. An individual’s rights end at the moment they begin to infringe on the rights of another. The collective (i.e., the government) has no rights.
There is a great illustration of this in one of the Star Trek movies where Mr. Spock decides to go into the engine room to prevent a catastrophe that, if left unfixed, will destroy the ship and kill everyone aboard. He does this knowing that the exposure to radiation in the engine room will kill him. He says, with his usual logical tone, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Some would take his statement as a perfect illustration of what socialism is all about. But the distinction here is that the decision Mr. Spock made was his and his alone. It was his individual choice. He made that choice without being coerced into it. In the real socialist version, he would not have had that choice; the collective would have made it for him.
The recent federal government shutdown revealed the true nature of the collectivists in the Obama administration. The World War II memorial is in a wide open space, open to the public 24 hours a day 7 days a week, with no fences around it or gates or anything. The Lincoln Memorial is the same – completely open to the public. Well, when the government shutdown occurred on Tuesday, somebody somewhere in the collective ordered barricades to be put up around those memorials to keep people out. By doing that, the collective is, in effect, saying your individual right to visit these monuments is superseded by the collective’s right to decide who gets access to them. Here we have but a small illustration of my first point, above: in a conflict between the rights of the collective and the rights of the individual, the collective always wins.