The Collectivist Mind

President Obama said in a recent speech, “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” “You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.”

With those phrases Obama dismisses hard work and individual ideas. He trashes achievement. He says nothing is possible without government assistance. Maybe Obama is too used to crony capitalism in his quest to transform America. It must take a heavily subsidized village.

The speech may come to be seen as a defining moment into Obama’s mentality and his campaign.

Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Senate against Scott Brown parrots Obama, ” “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You build a factory out there, good for you, but I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate.”

Who does she think pays the bulk of the taxes to pay for the roads and schools?

Thomas Sowell notes, “There was a time, within living memory, when the achievements of others were not only admired but were often taken as an inspiration for imitation of the same qualities that had served these achievers well, even if we were not in the same field of endeavor and were not expecting to achieve on the same scale.”

Sowell also writes, “People who succeed — whether in business or anywhere else — are often said to be ‘privileged,’ even if they started out poor and worked their way up the hard way….Personal responsibility, whether for achievement or failure, is a threat to the whole vision of the left, and a threat the left goes all-out to combat, using rhetoric uninhibited by reality.”

Charles Krauthammer writes, “the most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government. It is civil society, those elements of the collectivity that lie outside government: family, neighborhood, church, Rotary club, PTA, the voluntary associations that Tocqueville understood to be the genius of America and source of its energy and freedom….Moreover, the greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing state and those like Obama who see it as the ultimate expression of the collective.”

Krauthammer continues, “Obama’s infrastructure argument is easily refuted by a controlled social experiment. Roads and schools are the constant. What’s variable is the energy, enterprise, risk-taking, hard work and genius of the individual. It is therefore precisely those individual characteristics, not the communal utilities, that account for the different outcomes.”

In the collectivist mind, citizens are treated as orphan children who must be guided and cared for; and only government can do that properly. Only the elites in government, the anointed ones, are smart enough and caring enough to do that “for the children.”

Above all citizens must be taught proper thinking and action; they must be controlled so they can enjoy the resulting collectivist utopias such as Cuba, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union.

 ”I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”  -Thomas Jefferson

Obama’s words show that he does not understand America and what it is to be an American.

The Cato Institute has a report that bears on the matter of political philosophy: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty.

See also:

Reclaiming Americanism and the Constitution

Personal Responsibility and Independence

Freedom, Morality, and Ignorance

Property Rights and Freedom

Beware of Sustainable Development


  1. >”
    Obama’s words show that he does not understand America and what it is to be an American.”

    No – it shows that he hasn’t bought into the currently popular libertarian extreme individualistic rhetoric.

    There are millions of us who don’t and we are also “Americans” – being American is not synonymous as being extreme right-wing, despite the tea partiers claims to “patriotism”.

    Woody Guthrie is as “American” as you can get.

    1. Here’s some more “libertarian extreme individualistic rhetoric.”

      To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. -Thomas Jefferson

      “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one.” –James Madison

      “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” –Thomas Jefferson

      “[O]f those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.” –Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1

      “One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.” –Ayn Rand

      A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have .. ‘ – Thomas Jefferson

      “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money”
      Alexis de Tocqueville

      “Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Ben Franklin

      1. Yes it is 🙂

        Luckily this particular mental affliction is localized in the predominantly confederate parts of the US, so the the people of Canada and Denmark don’t have to suffer the lack of medical care and widespread poverty.

      2. Tip,

        I agree that “being American is not synonymous as being extreme right-wing” But it seems that democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York had the same “particular mental affliction” that you accuse conservatives and tea party members of having when he said:

        “The great corporations of this country were not founded by ordinary people. They were founded by people with extraordinary intelligence, ambition, and aggressiveness.”

        “Somehow liberals have been unable to acquire from life what conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government agencies to do good.”

      3. >”
        a healthy skepticism of the powers of government agencies to do good.”

        Actually they do a lot of good, and other countries seem to be able to get them to do even better than we do.

        sane non-ideologues worldwide have realized that neither extreme capitalism or extreme socialism results in a good society – the truth lies in the middle.

        It is only here in the US that “patriots” think that giving women access to contraception is a violation of someone’s rights – in civilized countries it is common sense.

  2. Here’s my attempt to state the problem succinctly:

    The Problem: World Leaders Were Separated From Reality in 1945They cannot possibly lead society in ignorance of the “fountain of energy” that made our elements, sustains our lives, controls the Earth’s climate, and powered inquisitive minds and creative talents of our most celebrated religious leaders, scientists, artists and philosophers to unanimously agree: Mankind’s greatest accomplishments come from this free-flowing stream of energy. kind regards,
    -Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

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