I was watching an episode of Russell Brand’s podcast today. He’s a British comedian gifted with an extraordinary gift of glib, and possessed of a moderate leftist’s sensibilities.
I appreciate him because he’s a strong proponent of real free speech, and enthusiastically condemns the woke and their censorship of freedom of speech.
In other words, he’s (as I say) “on the Red Pill Road” (like Bret Weinstein, Heather Heying, Tim Pool, Bill Maher and Dave Rubin, among others), but he’s not there yet.
Brand’s ready to acknowledge, for instance, that his ideological tendency is guilty of great, and vast, and multitudinous crimes against humanity in the realm of (mis)managing speech and self-expression, but that much of the rest of leftish thinking is… just fine.
As leftists with open minds (like Russell Brand) grapple with this difficult-to-evade inconsistency, they move inexorably to the Right. They get “red-pilled”
Well, in his podcast today, Brand was going on about a list of things with which I had a good level of agreement, and others to which I was very much opposed. At some point, he disgorged himself of the following assertion: “Power is collective!”
At which point my brain leaped out of its cerebellar sofa and whacked me upside the cranium. “What about individual power?!?” it shouted inappropriately loudly. So loudly, in fact, that I had to pay attention.
I had to agree. The truly revolutionary idea that Western Civilization has brought about was the notion that the individual has (or ought to have) power. Power that he can wield for his own benefit and the benefit of others. In fact, that individual power is the one thing on which that other miraculous benefit of Western Civilization — free market capitalism — is entirely dependent.
But collective power and individual power are constantly in a state of tension. Each is constantly trying to overthrow the other completely. And each is entirely necessary, in correct proportion, and strong and robust, to keep society healthy.
You don’t want to get rid of collective power entirely, or else you have anarchy. You get rule by the strongest; might makes right. The final result, when the dust settles, a totalitarian hellhole with a powerful dictator at the top of a massively oppressive state.
However, you don’t want individual power to disappear either, or else what remains is the very same totalitarian hellhole with a powerful dictator at the top of a massively oppressive state, as mentioned in the previous paragraph. The disappearance or destruction of either kind of power results in a horrible state of affairs!
We’ve seen it happen. In Nazi Germany; in the Soviet Union; in Red China; in North Vietnam/Vietnam and North Korea; in Cuba; recently in Venezuela; and so on. In each case, collective power and individual power were wildly out of balance (which always results in the triumph of collective power) and the result was catastrophic.
And we’ve seen it in the response to COVID; a response in which collective power rapidly overwhelmed individual power, resulting in maximizing the number of dead from the illness, as well as a massive diminution of human rights around the world.
In retrospect, if there had been no collective reaction to the virus at all, far, far fewer people would have died from COVID, and the world would be far freer and far more prosperous.
The bottom line is simple: The healthy society is the one that maximizes individual power, with the understanding that it’s easy to mobilize collective power (people are, largely, herd animals, after all) and to produce hell on earth. It’s actually the default human condition.
However, to maximize individual power, a society has to make the overt, conscious decision to do so.
Collective power, after all, is the default condition of the human beast. He has to surmount, defeat, overcome, overwhelm his innate desire to control, dominate (to “govern“) others, and he must engage in the truly revolutionary act of… leaving people alone to live their lives as they see fit, even if that doesn’t accord with his view of things.
This incredible notion is the product exclusively of thinking from… Western Civilization.
I love Russell Brand, for the fact that, as a leftist, he has an open mind. A rare quality indeed in a leftist! However, I do wish he’d get on with his red-pilling so he wouldn’t say such silly things as “power is collective” ever again.