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What is it like to have the collectivist mindset?

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Living in New York, I often feel like an alien on my own planet when I'm around those of the leftist persuasion (although I'm sure there are many "rightists" who are collectivistic themselves). They seem nice enough on casual contact but underneath the surface is a cauldron of incoherent rage. And yet there's a creepy "sameness" to this rage; like I'm dealing with programmed cultists who can't conceive of anything beyond their scriptures and repeat them verbatim. I've theorized that collectivists generally repress their individual doubts and anxiety to avoid being perceived as "outsiders" and that repression mutates into hostility towards "rival tribes". But I know that sort of speculation is really psychologizing so I'd appreciate any substantial insight particularly from those who may have gone through a collectivistic phase themselves.

Hope this thread is relevant and in the correct section.

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A lot of it is having a vision of how the world could be... but that vision depends on other people behaving a certain way. When one realizes that those other people might not want to do that, the tendency is to think they need to be forced because they are jamming up what it will take to make a more perfect world.

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I've theorized that collectivists generally repress their individual doubts and anxiety to avoid being perceived as "outsiders" and that repression mutates into hostility towards "rival tribes". But I know that sort of speculation is really psychologizing so I'd appreciate any substantial insight particularly from those who may have gone through a collectivistic phase themselves.

I've never been a collectivist myself so I can't speak to the issue personally. That said, I do have two books to recommend that I thought were insightful. One is Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed. The other is former leftist David Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith. The latter is particularly fascinating because Horowitz spent many years as a left-wing intellectual and activist; he can speak knowledgeably about what it's like on the 'other side'.

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A lot of it is having a vision of how the world could be... but that vision depends on other people behaving a certain way. When one realizes that those other people might not want to do that, the tendency is to think they need to be forced because they are jamming up what it will take to make a more perfect world.

I don't think this quite answers it. What about having a vision of the world where everyone respected everyone else's rights? It's the particular vision they have that's the problem. Like trying to eliminate world hunger or having any kind of equality on a mass scale. At a psychological level, I think a lot of it is too much "putting yourself into other people's shoes".

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Of course there are some collectivists who are merely frustrated overgrown children. I think someone named Dismuke nailed them perfectly a couple of years ago, unfortunately he did so as a couple of comments in other people's blog posts so it takes some work to get to them.

http://myrhaf.blogspot.com/2008/09/into-abyss.html#links (you have to scroll UP to Renee Katz's comment of Saturday, September 20, 2008 3:00:00 PM PDT. Right below that comment is Dismuke's essay.

Another version of the same hypothesis is here: http://www.newclarion.com/2009/08/when-words-are-weapons/ . scroll down to Dismuke's comment from 19 August.

In both cases there is discussion about the posts and some replies by Dismuke.

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At a psychological level, I think a lot of it is too much "putting yourself into other people's shoes".

Theres nothing wrong with trying to see things from others perspectives, in fact its a requrement for an objective evaluation. You dont have to agree with them, or even value their opinions, but the world "as they see it" is context that needs to be taken into account.

The obvious problems that I see are two-fold. First is the complete inability to think in priciples. And second, they see any potential good as a zero sum game. For someone to gain a value, it must be at someone elses expense. Its oppressor vs. oppressed. Theres only a set amount of value in the world, the only question is how to fairly divide it up. Theres no talk about value production, or effort to create. Theres only fairness. And to acheive fairness only takes one cognitive step:

"Some people have more than others (not fair), therefore force should be used to balance the scale".

This one brief exerpt from their worldview shows:

1) no respect for man as a thinking choosing entity

2) a lack of objectivity, ie. pragmatism

3) a malevolent universe premise, or at least a Hobbesian view of man

4) the willingness to use force to acheive their ends (the ends justify the means)

5) the inability to see things from others perspectives (masked behind egalitarianism, of all things)

Thats just to start.

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Theres nothing wrong with trying to see things from others perspectives, in fact its a requrement for an objective evaluation. You dont have to agree with them, or even value their opinions, but the world "as they see it" is context that needs to be taken into account.

For what? You should take their perspective into account when forming a moral evaluation of them, but when it comes to choosing your actions I think you should only be concerned with the world "as you see it".

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any substantial insight particularly from those who may have gone through a collectivistic phase themselves.

Have you considered immersing yourself in collectivist groups to better understand their processes? That might be a fun research project, especially if you go beyond just observation and start asking them questions. Then you can draw your own conclusions.

These might be some interesting places to start:

1. a church -- perhaps a small-group "bible study" where participation is expected or tolerated. Ask the questions that nobody else asks, and see what happens.

2. a military recruiter -- start asking them questions about "selfless service" or what is meant by their "core values." Let them try to convince you.

3. a government official, or a political rally -- ask questions in a way that makes them think you really want to know so that you can "advance the cause" of X, Y, or Z.

4. a volunteer group

Play dumb, ask probing questions and look for logical fallacies.

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It probably varies widely. I think for people who are intelligent enough to think through the consequences of an ethical framework, the result is a sort of mild depression, a sinking feeling that the world is not fair and you are part of the problem because you are not big (selfless) enough to stand up to the unfairness. This leads to categorising most other people as stupid, or like yourself, complicit in the problem. Of course it helps being able to blame an impersonal system (capitalism) for WHY you can't be fair to your fellow men. And also these feelings are not ever present, I mean you are going to forget them at times and just enjoy life, perhaps even enjoy some cooperative endeavours in the name of the collective, but always those thoughts will come back to haunt you.

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For what? You should take their perspective into account when forming a moral evaluation of them, but when it comes to choosing your actions I think you should only be concerned with the world "as you see it".

Right. I was talking about moral evaluations, or evaluations of others in general, and how they play a part in choosing our actions with regard to our dealings with those people. Basically, keeping our full context of knowlegde in mind when dealing with others is a nesessary requirement of justice.

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