G. Stolyarov II
July 28, 2014
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2003 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007. The essay earned over 900 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 28, 2014
Collectivism is not only a primary motivation for oppression and persecution; it also precludes friendship among people despite their individual compatibility. Caste-based prejudices in India provide an optimal illustration of this tendency.
In his memoirs, Indian author Shashi Tharoor recalls, upon a childhood visit to an ancestral village, an untouchable boy by the name of Charlis, who was eager to converse, engage in athletic activity, and share sweets with the higher-caste boys. However, the latter rejected Charlis’s company and threatened Tharoor with a beating to relinquish to the confines of the dirt heap the dessert that Charlis had generously provided him with.
Collectivism curtails both an already existing mutual affinity between two individuals, such as the one between Tharoor and Charlis, and one that would have flourished absent the stereotype, such as that between Charlis and the village boys.
Even the most intimate bonds of all, marriages, are tragically disrupted by the Indian caste system. Several cases have emerged in recent years when upper-caste females married lower-caste males without parental consent. The parents of the upper-caste females responded by lynching the newlyweds and encouraging their village neighbors to publicly humiliate their corpses.
Parents, who would have normally approved of a partnership between two people decently endowed and capable of fending for themselves, are impelled by collectivism to monstrously cut short young lives due to the absurdity of collectivist perception.
Caste is thoroughly ingrained in the general culture of India and in the power-mongering calculus of Indian officials. Hence, despite laws prohibiting caste-based hate crimes, enforcement is scant, and violators of individual rights are granted tacit government sanction for their misdeeds. As violence flares up, the government, instead of coordinating an extensive police and judicial effort to bring the criminals to justice, merely augments the multilateral resentment of India’s caste conflict by reserving further strategic positions for one group at the expense of another.
The atrocities for which the absurdity of collectivism can be held liable extend to stifle the realms of individual aspiration, interpersonal relationships, and justice, all due to the perception of individuals as entirely determined by circumstantial group status and incapable of altering any of their “inclinations” via volitional efforts.
It is essential for the residents of a peaceful, harmonious, and rights-respecting society to comprehend that, just as a circumstance cannot think for an individual, it cannot deterministically manipulate his actions, that birth or skin color are just as irrelevant to an individual’s character and potential as the color of a building’s bricks is to its structural integrity. Only then can each individual achieve the utmost heights within his capacity and establish profound and productive relationships with others. Justice and liberty are possible where even a single individual carries the rejection of collectivism to its logical extreme.