The root of authoritarianism is collectivism; the negation of individual rights for the supposed better of the collective. Tyrants do not ascend to power by promising despotism, oppression, and corruption. They come to power promising to make things better for the majority, usually calling for a racial, religious, or economic minority to be eliminated.
The sentiment of collectivism seems good, that society must make decisions for society as a whole, not concerning itself with individuals and their rights. The problem is that society is made up of individuals, and no society which sacrifices the rights of individuals can maintain freedom or prosperity. Collectivism is, by nature, the negation of individual rights and being so, it always leads to totalitarianism. Regardless of the shade of totalitarianism, whether it be Italian Fascism, Soviet Communism, National Socialism, or Peronism, the collectivizing of human interests always leads down the same road.
It is unknown whether politicians who espouse collectivist sentiments really understand the implications of such rhetoric. But, it is hard to believe anyone educated in law, philosophy, economics, and history could fail to see the logical conclusions of collectivism.
A free society is one based on the protection of individual rights. Individualism does not discount the fact that we all share hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, and common interests. It does not discount that we all share this existence and most cooperate with each other in order to prosper. It simply discounts that one may be sacrificed simply because the majority deems it so. It means each man is free to make his own way, but not free to demand what others have earned. Collectivism made law is the negation of the individual. Individualism as law creates a stronger society of free, independent citizens.
Collectivism leads to hatred, as those outside the collective are seen as the enemy. It leads to theft under the guise of social welfare, murder under the guise of racial purity, and oppression under the guise of education. Racism, classism, and sexism, are all forms of collectivism. They are concepts which negate the individual, lumping people into collectives. When we create a collective, whether it be for racial power or something as innocuous as gender equality, we create opposing collectives.
This is not to disparage groups who seek to right wrongs that exist in our legal or justice systems. But it is to say that many pursue such reforms in counterproductive ways. Labeling yourself as part of the gay rights movements, or women’s rights, or part of any collective movement, automatically alienates those who are not in that group. We are all individuals. If a gay person were to say “I am an American, and I have rights as a free individual,” it is likely more people would relate.
Equality before the law is an important concept. It means that each individual is treated equally in matters before the law. Individuals, not groups. Advocating for laws specific to groups, or that specifically protect groups, is not equality before the law; it’s special treatment. Hate crime laws, which sought to protect minorities, have now made certain groups more protected than others and perverted our justice system. A murder is a murder, no matter what group the victim belonged to. It is a heinous act which has deprived an individual the right to life. Why should killing a white man be treated less seriously than killing a black man?
If we wish to live in a society where everyone is truly equal, than everyone must be treated as an individual, not a member of any group.