When the “greater good” is not so good

“Is it not a display of compassion to sacrifice our personal interests for the greater good of our society?” This is the question that the video by Academy of Ideas asks in “How The Greater Good is Used as a Tool to Control Society.” I’ve included it below for my continuing look at how cultures can slip into tryanny.

I got to thinking about this after reading Citizen Tom’s great post, “Is Making Other People “Do the Right Thing” the Right Thing to Do?” You need to go over there and read it. He makes lots of good points on this subject.

This mindset actually comes from the idea called “collectivism.” Here’s what the video says about this ideology…

“This collectivist mindset is foundational to communism, fascism, and socialism. The doctrine of collectivism has been put into practice by many dictators, such as Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao. Death, destruction, and suffering on a mass scale was the end result in each case.”

Then the video asks the obvious question…

“How does this happen? Why does placing society above the good of the individual tend toward such unfortunate outcomes?

To answer this we must consider another question…

“Does the individual exist for the sake of society? Or does society exist for the sake of individuals?*

I believe this last question is critical to our thinking about this social phenomenon. The video continues….

Those who believe in collectivism believe the individual exists for the sake of society, therefore, that ‘the individual has to subordinate himself to, and conduct himself for, the benefit of society and to society and to sacrifice his selfish private interests for the common good.’ (Ludwig von Mises)”

Let’s get back to the question we started with…

Is it not a display of compassion to sacrifice our personal interests for the greater good of our society?”

This is why socialism has such a great appeal. I’ve talked about this before here. One reason put forth on the video why it isn’t a good idea is the following:

“At first glance, collectivism looks like a virtuous position to take, but on closer investigation, a philosophical error called the fallacy of misplaced concreteness corrupts the practical application of this ideology.”*

The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness

“The fallacy of concreteness happens when one treats what is merely an abstraction as an entity that exists in the real world. Collectivism, in claiming the individual must sacrifice his or her private interests for the sake of society takes what is merely a concept—society—and treats such a concept as if it had a concrete existence.”

But as Carl Jung points out…

“Society” is nothing more than a term, a concept for the symbiosis of a group of human beings. The concept is not a carrier of life.”

The video continues…

“In contrast to an individual, who has a real existence in the world, society is an abstraction used to represent an ever-changing collection of individuals living and interacting in proximity.”

This also goes for nations versus individuals. Here’s Carl Jung again….

“…the “nation: (like the “State”) is a personified concept…The nation has no life of its own apart from the individual, and is therefore not an end in itself…All life is individual life, in which alone the ultimate meaning is to be found.”*

So, in order to serve the greater good of the societal construct, individuals must be given the ability to define the so-called societal “greater good,” and then be granted the power to force individuals to act in service of this “good.” Dissenting opinions would have to be suppressed or eliminated, and the dissenters canceled…or eliminated. For the “greater good,” of course.

What I’m describing here is Fascism, by the way.

This fallacy also creates all kinds of insanely hypocritical standards. For example, the same “collective” that claims “anti-vaxxers” don’t care about the greater good of this abstract construct called “society” would also say that it’s an individual woman’s right to abort her own baby, shouting “My body, my right!” Yet, 99% of people who might get infected with Covid from an “anti-vaxxer” will probably survive, but 100% of the babies aborted most assuredly won’t survive.

Make the world better by becoming a better person

In the final analysis, we make “society” better by being better people, not by forcing others to comply with our ideology.  On that note, I will end with another quote from Albert Camus:

“The task of men…is not to desert historical struggles nor to serve the cruel and inhuman elements in those struggles. It is rather to remain what they are, to help man against what is oppressing him, to favor freedom against the fatalities that close in upon it….”

“Man’s greatness…lies in his decision to be greater than his condition. And if his condition is unjust, he has only one way of overcoming it, which is to be just himself.”*

There’s a lot more said on the video. We really need to educate ourselves in order to counteract these subtle manipulations that are destroying our country.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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12 Responses to When the “greater good” is not so good

  1. jim- says:

    “Society” is nothing more than a term, a concept for the symbiosis of a group of human beings. The concept is not a carrier of life.”
    If you’ve ever seen an episode of “alone” you know this is not true. Even the most accomplished survivalist lose 70 pounds and simply endures to see how much more starvation they can handle than the next. But, It is imperative for my own happiness to have a good amount of personal autonomy and personal struggle to achieve a level of accomplishment, which is the real purveyor of self worth.
    In evolutionary terms, if the group forces an errant action—like full scale gene editing using bio-pharmaceutical or synthetic lipid Nanoparticles in a vaccine and something goes awry, it could be detrimental to the entire group. Equality and diversity are opposing ideas. You can’t have one without the other. Did I make any sense there?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, we DO need relationship because we are relational beings, but the point of Jung’s quote is that “society” itself is not a being. It’s not a “carrier of life,” as he put it. “Society” is a construct of individuals in relationship. While it is definitely beneficial to be in relationships, the relationship itself does not have being so it cannot take primacy over the individual.

      I’m not sure I understand your point about equality and diversity being opposites. While all human beings are equal in worth and value, they are not equal in abilities, gifts, or other important factors. But I do agree that what makes diversity so important is that we need each other’s differences and various individual strengths. For instance, not everyone is gifted as a leader on a team, but not everyone is gifted as a good support person either, but you need both. This is healthy, but not the same thing as “collectivism,” which is what I’m talking about.

      • jim- says:

        Part of my resistance to socialism is very little of the laws and mandates apply to where and how I live. Maybe in the city it’s different? But I know people in Norway for instance, loads of safety nets and very little happiness. One is an IT guy that makes a lot of money, but they’ve accepted the fact that they’ll never afford a vacation. Trusting the government to care for you in a way that promotes excellent living is reserved for those at the top of the food chain and king Harald.
        And frankly I don’t think anyone knows what they’re doing! A million variables to every decision with all the data and best interest at heart creates a mess no one is happy with.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I couldn’t agree with you more on your issues with what I would call soft socialism, like in Norway. But whatever the degree Socialist ideology is applied, it always ends up only benefiting those at the top of the food chain.

          The promise of Socialism is a bit like a sleazy network marketing opportunity meeting. It lures you in with the promises of freedom from financial worries, or the promise of “free-stuff-dom” and some utopian pipedream in the case of Socialism, but when you “sign up” it never delivers on its promises because it’s built on faulty premises.

  2. Really good stuff, Mel! I don’t have the same language you’re using nor the same sources, but I keep speaking about how, “He leaves the 99 for the one.” The individual matters in our faith. Jesus was teaching us a groundbreaking idea within our various cultures. Forsake the rights of the individual and you don’t have a “society” anymore, you just have tyranny.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I think you have some pretty good language there, IB! There is nothing whatsoever about Jesus that smacked of collectivism. It was always about the one in the many. God loves each of us uniquely. He gives us gifts individually in a wide range of diversity. We are individually members of one another, as Paul said in 1 Cor.12. And, yes, when the individual has no rights in society you have the seedbed of tryanny.

  3. Lisa V says:

    May I quote you? “In the final analysis, we make “society” better by being better people, not by forcing others to comply with our ideology” is definitely instagram-worthy.

  4. SLIMJIM says:

    This is such a good post! I suspect today the left has a shifting understanding of philosophy of education, given that they see man as an animal its no longer rationally try to convince people of things but getting people to believe something; and forcing people to do “good” without appropriate means to get there is scary! Furthermore to open up those means to accomplish this also open up door for tyranny to do evil when the next person welding those power comes along…and the next, and the next…

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Jim. Yes, I think there is a fundamental error in their understanding of human nature and what motivates people to actually do the right thing, instead of trying to force them to do so.

      There is no other result but tryanny when you begin to force people to your ideology and don’t allow for dissent (in other words, fascism). You would’ve thought the left would’ve learned this by now since we have a long history of death, destruction, and suffering whenever a nation goes down that path, but they keep trying. The only reason they could have that’s not crazy is that they want to be the ruling class of the new totalitarian State. And that’s just plain evil!

      • SLIMJIM says:

        Exactly: “he only reason they could have that’s not crazy is that they want to be the ruling class of the new totalitarian State. And that’s just plain evil!”

  5. Pingback: Why Socialism is immoral | In My Father's House

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