The individualists support their position from five different standpoints: the ethical, the economic, the scientific, political and the practical.
Freedom of action is essential to the development of personality. Qualities like self-reliance, initiative-, enterprise and originality develop to the fullest extent if the individual is left alone. Excessive state regulation destroys individuality and does more harm than good. Man is the best judge of his own ability and interest.
From the economic standpoint individualists assume that every man is self-seeking and knows his interests best. Free competition increases production, ensures efficiency and maximizes economic well-being. Unrestricted operation of the laws of supply and demand will result in fair prices. They advocate free trade and free enterprise in economic sphere.
It is in accord with the principle of evolution-the biological law of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. Herbert Spencer supports this argument. Free competition among individuals would ensure the survival of the strong, intelligent and virile and elimination of the poor, weak, unfit and the inefficient. State intervention would hamper the process of natural selection.
The activity of state should be limited so that the personal and political freedoms of individual do not suffer any erosion. Expansion of state’s sphere of activity would threaten individual’s freedom. Therefore, in democratic states, basic or fundamental rights have been enshrined in the constitution of the country.
Practical experience shows that government attempts to do many things but does them badly. Government action results in redtapism, waste and corruption. As compared to government undertakings, the private enterprises are more efficient and make greater profits.
Hence the state should restrict its activity and give maximum freedom to the individual to mobilize his own resources and achieve best results for him and the society at large.
Some of the important features of individualism are:
1. The individual is at the centre of all social activities. Every individual is endowed with rationality. He has the capacity to judge what is good or bad for him. If granted sufficient liberty, he can take the right decision and this can contribute to the development of his personality.
2. The individual is theend, and the state is just a means to achieve this end. So long as the individual is doing his work well, the state should not interfere with it.
3. The state is ‘a necessary evil’. The interference of state in the activities of individual should be minimum.
4. Free competition and free production should be encouraged. This would stimulate the growth in trade and commerce. The interference of state in the economic sphere should be minimum.