Individualism: The Key to a Free and Prosperous Society
Individualism is an idea of society that champions individual liberty, creativity, and self-reliance. A thriving society cannot be engineered by the collectivist designs of central planners, sociology professors, or government economists. Rather, it is is the combined effects of individual actions and the spontaneous collaborations of free people that produce economic growth, cultural vitality, and social wellbeing. Notable proponents of individualism throughout history include John Locke, F.A. Hayek, Adam Smith, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin Carl Menger, Ludwig Von Mises, J.S. Mill, Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.
Individualism is captured in the idea of America: a nation of individuals, each endowed with economic freedom, self-reliant in applying their own energy and creativity to advance their own circumstances and, in collaboration with others, contributing to an expanding economy, a stronger society, and growing well-being for all.
From Abstract To Concrete: Theories of Individualism In Practice
Individualism is not just an abstract theory. It has been put to the test throughout human history, and has proven itself time and time again to be the greatest engine for social and economic progress that the world has ever seen. Individualism transformed a group of disjointed European colonies into the most free and prosperous nation in history. It fueled the rise of free market capitalism, which has raised the standard of living in the developed world by 3,000 percent in 200 years. Today, individualism is the driving force behind the technological revolution that is improving the wellbeing of people throughout the world.
Is Individualist Thinking Also Good For Society?
Unfortunately, individualism today is often accused of promoting selfishness and greed at the expense of the common good. Some argue that individualism perpetuates economic inequality, motivates corporate and political corruption, and leads to the fragmentation of society. Such accusations could not be more false. The true individualist is neither selfish, disconnected, nor corrupt. The individualist understands that each person can best achieve their own ambitions by working collaboratively with others in a way that benefits not only themselves, but society at large. And since each individual’s self-interest motivates them to act for the benefit of others, individualism makes altruists out everyone in society.
Since the self-interested actions of individuals create social progress, the common good is best served when each individual is liberated and empowered to pursue their own aspirations. To truly thrive, a society must liberate its members from the burdensome regulations and social pressures that result from collectivist approaches. It must inspire its members with an entrepreneurial spirit and teach them the value of self-reliance. CFI aspires to play a leading role in reviving individualism for the good of all Americans and of the world at large.