The ontology (basic nature, or core emphasis) of Western culture seems to be to empower the individual to be in control of his own destiny. This is supported through what I call the four pillars of the Western world: individual respect, democracy, capitalism, and freedom. Through individual initiative (effort to seek individual values, desires, and self expression), the Western world prospers culturally, financially, spiritually, and in all other ways.

This emphasis (or overemphasis) on individuals often casts collective efforts in villainous roles. For example, the government and other collective efforts to assist those who are less well-off, are often denigrated by those who follow conflicting ideologies. Are all collective efforts bad? Are people who want to trade some of their individual control for the security of collective control bad? Should individual rights take priority over majority rights?

Corporations, a highly touted hallmark of free enterprise, are themselves collective efforts, and the individual has to sacrifice individual control of his life to work for them. Similarly, labor unions control what work can be done and by whom, inside and even outside of the union. These two collective entities illustrate the enigmatic character of our perception of what is "free enterprise" and what should and should not be controlled.

Should capitalism be allowed total free reign - or does it become corrupt if not monitored and controlled? This series looks specifically at the challenges facing individual respect, democracy, capitalism, and freedom, and the role of government in protecting and overseeing these.

I have very few biases regarding individual and collective efforts. I don't believe that either are perfect for any given situation - we should not be ruled by ideologies - they prevent serious consideration of issues. So I will only put forward the following thesis:

Collective efforts make it possible to achieve for everyone the things that are difficult to accomplish as individuals. (While this seems like a simple, or even self-evident idea, it is an idea that is often lost in the rhetoric.) Government is a collective effort for the common good, not an independent entity. While the areas that the government should be involved in are often debatable, I believe that the following areas should be beyond debate. These are in the first article, The challenge For Freedom.

- Scott

Other distribution restrictions: None

Return to main page

Page URL: