Does our life belong to us individually, or does it belong to all of us corporately? According to the US Constitution,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Unalienable rights are those rights which cannot be surrendered, sold or transferred to another person or entity such as the government. We also refer to these rights as our “natural” or “God-given” rights. As a gift from the Creator to the individual, unalienable rights cannot under any circumstances be surrendered or removed. However they can be violated or ignored. On the other hand, inalienable rights are those rights that can be transferred with the consent of the person possessing those rights.
Kevin Eggers wrote in his article, Collectivism and the Fall of American Principles,
James Madison warned in 1792, “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.” In today’s institutionalized collectivist society, Americans couldn’t survive without legal plunder, state compulsion, unrestrained spending, subsidies, bailouts and living off their fellow citizens, which our “indefinite” government now provides for.
Hitler, like Roosevelt, wanted his citizens under the spell of collectivism, not thinking as individuals but like cogs in the Nazi machine. Hitler once bragged to Hermann Rauschning, “There will be no license, no free space, in which an individual belongs to himself… Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.”
In order to understand how far we have traveled down the road leading from individualism to collectivism, we need only read a sampling of court cases from the 1800’s in which verdicts were written by constitutionally minded judges. One such example is the case of U S v. CRUIKSHANK, 92 U.S. 542 (1875), which found,
The rights of life and personal liberty are natural rights of man. ‘To secure these rights,’ says the Declaration of Independence, ‘governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ The very highest duty of the States, when they entered into the Union under the Constitution, was to protect all persons within their boundaries in the enjoyment of these ‘unalienable rights with which they were endowed by their Creator.’
Individualism means that our lives belong to us; therefore, we have the unalienable right to live them as we see fit, to act on our own judgment, to reap the rewards of our efforts, and to pursue the values and principles that govern us. Collectivism means that our lives do not belong to us, but to the nation or society in which we live. For the fairness and common good of all, we must sacrifice our personal judgment, share our rewards with those who have not earned them, and compromise our values and principles for those of the nation or society as a whole. In collectivism, the worth of the individual is determined by his value to the group.
Eggers posed a very profound question,
Has America become a nation of collectivists that when confronted with a crisis, such as terrorism, health care or the environment, will embrace, endorse, educate, legislate, implement, enforce, defend and ignore the demise of their own freedom?