George Walford: Economic Individualism and Collectivism

In the economic field the situation of the ideologies, as regards collectivism and individualism, is the reverse of that in the political field. The eidostatics exhibit economic individualism and the eidodynamics exhibit economic collectivism.

It is commonly accepted that the transition, which is occurring in Britain and other western democracies (and which has already occurred in the Communist countries), from private ownership of the mills, mines, factories and other major components of the productive system, to their ownership by the state and control by bodies representing the state, is a change from capitalism to (or toward) socialism. This may or may not be so; it depends on the meaning given to “socialism.” What is definite is that this transition is not a change from economic individualism to economic collectivism. In the economic field as in the political field, the individuals in question are groups; there they were parties or movements, here they are firms, corporations, boards, industries. The change from ownership and control by independent persons (so far as that system ever existed; most economic organisations of any size always have been owned and controlled by groups) to state ownership and control by groups appointed by the state, is a change from one form of economic individualism to another. The various boards, corporations and so on which operate “state capitalism” and similar systems are just as much separate individuals – mutually exclusive, often competitive and sometimes hostile individuals – as the individual capitalists or individual boards of directors ever were. They act as independent individuals toward each other, toward the community as a whole, and toward each member of the community.

Economic collectivism is (or rather, if it were ever to be established on any large scale it would be) something different from this. It is a system whereby the means of production as a whole are owned and controlled by society as a whole, each person having free access to the means of production (and hence to their products) by virtue of his membership of the owning and controlling community.

Continue reading An Outline Sketch of Systematic Ideology (1977):
The Walsby Society | Introduction | Ideology and the Left | The Field of Ideology | Assumption and Identification | Definition of an Ideology | Ideological Groups | The Major Ideologies | Ideological Development | Intellect | The Group Situation | The Cosmic Situation | Political Individualism and Collectivism | Economic Individualism and Collectivism | Personal Ideological Structure | Social Ideological Structure | Conclusion | Papers on Systematic Ideology