Monday, December 17, 2012

Collectivism vs. Individualism in Letters

The New Jersey Star-Ledger published this letter on November 14, 2012:

Lose the ego
During this past election cycle, there was a lot of talk about, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" I think a better question would have been, "Is our country better off than it was four years ago?" Our culture seems to have adopted a self-serving, entitled attitude, in which there is little thought by individuals toward what would be better for the good of our nation.
It is easy to see a contrast with older people who lived through World War II, comparing their responses to questions about serving our nation with that of those in their 20s and 30s. The current attitude has been aggravated by the recent, divisive nature of the political process, which pits one class of citizens against another. I believe this individualism threatens our nation and needs to change to assure our greatness as a country.
Gregory Borsinger, Chatham
On November 16, 2012, the Star-Ledger published my rebuttal letter in slightly edited form. My letter is titled, Extol the Individual:
Gregory Borsinger’s Nov. 14 letter proclaiming that "individualism threatens our nation and needs to change to assure our greatness as a country" is a repudiation of the very ideals America was founded upon.
America was the first country to proclaim that the individual has the inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The greatness of our nation was just this: The individual "common man" is subordinate to no collective, monarchy, clergy, majority, government or political class with delusions of "national greatness."
The state supremacist ideal that Borsinger glorifies, perhaps unwittingly, is exactly the evil that our founders rebelled against, that America defeated in World War II and the Cold War, and that, sadly, must again be defeated here at home to save the land of liberty.
Michael A. LaFerrara, Flemington
In my submitted draft, the first sentence in the second paragraph read: "To the glory of humanity, America was the first country to proclaim that the individual owns his life and has the inalienable right to the freedom to pursue his own productive goals, values, and happiness." The first five words of that sentence was paraphrased from one of my favorite sentences from Atlas Shrugged character Francisco d'Anconia's money speech: "To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money–and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement."
But I'll take what they gave me! 

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