Argument: Individuals must cede some rights to gain collective, democratic power

Issue Report: Libertarianism


l John Jay, FEDERALIST No. 2 – “Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”[1]

James Madison, FEDERALIST No. 41 – “It cannot have escaped those who have attended with candor to the arguments employed against the extensive powers of the government, that the authors of them have very little considered how far these powers were necessary means of attaining a necessary end. They have chosen rather to dwell on the inconveniences which must be unavoidably blended with all political advantages; and on the possible abuses which must be incident to every power or trust, of which a beneficial use can be made. This method of handling the subject cannot impose on the good sense of the people of America. It may display the subtlety of the writer; it may open a boundless field for rhetoric and declamation; it may inflame the passions of the unthinking, and may confirm the prejudices of the misthinking: but cool and candid people will at once reflect, that the purest of human blessings must have a portion of alloy in them; that the choice must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the greater, not the perfect, good; and that in every political institution, a power to advance the public happiness involves a discretion which may be misapplied and abused. They will see, therefore, that in all cases where power is to be conferred, the point first to be decided is, whether such a power be necessary to the public good; as the next will be, in case of an affirmative decision, to guard as effectually as possible against a perversion of the power to the public detriment.”[2]

Edgar H. Schein. Kurt Lewin’s Change Theory in the Field and in the Classroom – “… in the U.S., the cultural assumption that society revolves around the individual and individual rights is so deeply embedded that when teamwork is advocated we pay lipservice but basically do not change our individualistic assumption. How then does change in this area come about? First, we would need to re-define teamwork as the coordination of individual activities for pragmatic ends, not the subordination of the individual to the group. If we define teamwork as individual subordination, as treating the group to be more important than the individual, we arouse all the defenses that lead to quips like camels being horses constructed by a committee, negative images of “group think,” lynch mobs, etc. Second, the redefinition of teamwork also allows one to redefine individualism in a way that preserves its primacy, not to “substitute” groupism for individualism. This process of redefinition in effect enlarges the concept of individualism to include the ability and obligation to work with others when the task demands it. In other words, helping a team to win is not inconsistent with individualism. And, third, one can change the standards by which individual performance is rewarded. Instead of rewarding “rugged individualism” or the competitive winning out over others (which makes collaborative behavior look “weak”), individuals can be increasingly rewarded for their ability to create, lead, and participate in teams (which makes collaborative behavior look “strong”). The best individual, then, is the one who can be an effective team player.”[3]