No-Nazi-Salute-02I am not white. I am not male. I happen to be white and male, but that does not make them my identity. My only identity is me, and the infinite aspects that make up me.

As of late, it seems more and more people are identifying solely as their collective tags, rather than embracing the integral uniqueness which is them. This is worrying, as it defies what it is to be human.

We are individuals. Despite the protestations by many ideologies, we humans are not a hive-mind. We are unique in our identities, and while the aspects of our identities may not be unique, their infinite combinations definitely are. To be who we are takes an immeasurable number of factors over countless life times, all broiling down to who we are now. Collectivism seeks to simplify as complex an entity as the individual down to shallow tags and hate-filled scape goats.

We all tend to identify as a tag in some way. I identify as a Libertarian, a Star Wars fan, a Capetonian, but where I differ from the collectivist is that I recognise that these are just aspects of my identity. I recognise that I am not solely a Libertarian, and I recognise that others do not need to identify as one. Collectivistic ideologies do not have this sort of leeway.

Under collectivism, the individual is dehumanised as merely a number within the homogenous group. The individuals within such a collective surely do have the aspects which make them a unique entity, but these are not recognised by the collective. In the early Soviet Union, detractors of Communism were not recognised as complex beings, but rather simply as kulaks; rebels; whites. In the Racialist collectivism that dominates South Africa, blacks and whites are dehumanised as simply the victims and oppressors, regardless of context or fact.

Collective oppression has been a hallmark of South African politics for ages, with entire groups being dehumanised for as arbitrary a trait as their melanin. Apartheid was an unacceptable display of collectivism dehumanising the local black population, but the new dispensation does no better – grouping all whites as rich oppressors, despite the flaws in that logic.

The real danger in collectivism is not merely a misattribution of our identities, however; it is dehumanising those around us in order to justify hatred. It is hard to hate a person. With all our factors making up our person, we tend to find common ground with almost anyone. When someone simplifies their being, and those of others, with only a singular tag, those complexities and possibility of finding mutual ground cease to exist.

Collectivism degenerates our identity to tags, not properly reflecting our identities, but allowing others to see us as enemies rather than potential friends. States accomplish this by tagging the opposition as ‘the enemy’. The left does this by referring to people as whites, heterosexuals, cisgenders, or racists. Other ideologies are not so different. Libertarians are guilty of condemning people as statists and communists. The difference is that Libertarians do not hate individuals just because we see them as Communists. We hate ideas, not people. Collectivists hate people, as there is no difference between a person and the idea that they attribute to that person.

Collectivism simplifies our identity, making it easier to hate one another. It’s hard to hate people, but easy to hate a nebulous idea that we can assign to people. Thus, soldiers fight the designated enemy. Nazis fight the Jews. Bolsheviks fight the bourgeois. RhodesMustFall fights the ‘colonist’. All are cases of ideology, collectivistic rhetoric, allowing people to kill or oppose other people and feel good about it.

Collectivism destroys friendships. With the events of 2015, I lost a good many friends to the idea that whites are either evil scumbags complicit in all their race’s crimes, or criminals seeking repentance. As someone who rejects the idea of collective guilt, I was shunned and called a racist by those I thought were my friends. It is ironic that an ideology that sounds like it is meant to bring unity, only creates divides, but this is the case. Collectivism is hate.

Advocates of peace, a cause any reasonable person can get behind, often call on us to identify collectively. I reject that notion. We are all different. That’s what makes us the same. When we try to be the same, all we do is find differences worth hating in others. We get racism, prejudice, witch hunts, and a cycle of hatred that never ends.

The only path to peace in society is when we recognise that we are not a part of the crowd. We are one person. We are individuals. I am not white. I am not male. I am me, and I don’t hate anyone.

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.