What are the Arguments against Individualism?

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Individualism has been criticised on the following grounds:

1. State, not an Evil:

The assumption that the state is a necessary evil, that all restraint is wrong, has not been borne out by experience. The state is a positive good. Its functions have not been simply ‘negatively regulative’ but protective, encouraging and fostering the common welfare. The state can promote good life for individuals.

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2. State a Welfare Institution:

The increasing complexity of modern civilization calls for greater and more extensive state action. The vast majority of people depend upon the state for guidance and assistance. The state renders unlimited welfare services to the individuals.

3. State knows Better:

Individualism wrongly assumes that each individual knows his interests best. Experience shows that most of men do not know their best interests. The truth is that the society is a better judge of man’s intellectual, moral and physical needs than he himself is.

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4. Law and Liberty, not Antithetical:

The weakest point in the argument is that “a maximum of government necessarily means a minimum of freedom.” In reality wisely organized and directed state action has increased individuals’ liberty of action and developed their capacities. Law and liberty are not antithetical. Law is a condition of liberty for all. All laws do not restrict freedom.

5. Individual and Society are complementary:

Individualists picture an atomistic individual’ and attempt to create an antithesis between the individual and society. Individual good and social welfare are not opposed to each other but are complementary.

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6. Free Competition is Harmful:

Free competition in the economic sphere has led to monopolies, trusts and combinations which on their part have resulted in concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Social injustice demands state regulation of economic forces.

State planning has reduced the evils of free competition and capitalism. Government has come out in a big way to regulate economic action in the interest of social welfare.

7. Biological Argument is Inhuman and Brutal:

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The biological argument is unacceptable. Survival of the fittest does not mean survival of the best. Moreover, the law of struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest applicable to lower animals should not govern human society. Cooperation, harmony and compassion govern the life of men.

8. Individualism no Longer Relevant:

With the passage of time there has taken place increase in complexity and problems of life. It is only the state which can find solution to them, not the individual. The individual, however talented and powerful he may be, cannot manage natural disasters. Only the state can provide relief and safety to man during such disasters.

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