While mankind is a social animal, history is filled with examples of the danger of prioritizing the collective over the individual. This is the basis of all totalitarian states—that some imagined “collective good” is paramount and that the individual, when considered at all, is superfluous.

More than this, there is also the attitude among many otherwise intelligent men that they know what is best for others. While this might well be true, it is a big and dangerous step to begin giving this opinion the force of law.

These kinds of dangerous collectives are often driven by group thought. If collectivism is the symptom, the disease is groupthink, whereby people begin prizing intellectual conformity over rational thought, open discourse, and critical reflection. Indeed, there has scarcely been any political thinker in human history worth anything who did not recognize the danger that groupthink presented.

One need not look far to find examples of just how far this kind of thinking can go. However, one does not need to find the most extreme and grisly examples in human history to make the point that collectivism and groupthink are dangerous. Satanic Panic, McCarthyism and even idle gossip in a small community provide examples of such dangers far in advance of the death camp.

The following quotes all show a deep and penetrating insight into the dangers of collectivism and groupthink. We urge you to read them all and reflect on them.

John Quincy Adams

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

John Quincy Adams, letter to Johnathan Jackson, October 2, 1780

John Quincy Adams on Collectivism Quotes

In this poignant quote, John Quincy Adams expresses his profound concern over the divisive nature of party politics within a republic. He fears the emergence of two dominant parties, each led by its own figurehead, engaged in perpetual opposition. Adams perceives this scenario as a grave threat, believing it to be the utmost political evil under the Constitution. His apprehension stems from the potential for such polarization to undermine unity, cooperation, and the common welfare of the nation. Adams’ words serve as a timeless reminder of the dangers inherent in extreme partisanship and the importance of fostering collaboration and mutual understanding in governance.

G.I. Gurdjieff

“What is possible for individual man is impossible for the masses.”

G.I. Gurdjieff

G.I. Gurdjieff on Collectivism Quotes

In this concise statement, G.I. Gurdjieff delves into the contrast between individual potential and collective limitations. He suggests that what an individual can achieve may transcend what is attainable for a larger group or society as a whole. This observation highlights the complexities of human endeavor and the challenges inherent in collective action. Gurdjieff implies that the unique capabilities, insights, and determination of individuals can often surpass the capabilities of a mass collective, where coordination, consensus, and conformity can impede progress. It underscores the importance of recognizing and cultivating individual talents and initiatives within a broader social context.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Collectivism Quotes

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in this astute observation, unveils the seductive allure of belonging to a sect or party. He contends that such affiliations serve as convenient disguises, shielding individuals from the discomfort of critical thought. By aligning with a predefined ideology or group, individuals can evade the challenging task of independent reflection. Emerson suggests that this evasion is achieved elegantly, albeit at the expense of intellectual autonomy. His words caution against the intellectual stagnation that accompanies blind adherence to dogma, urging individuals to embrace the discomfort of critical inquiry rather than seeking refuge in the sheltered confines of group identity.


“Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.”


Maimonides on Collectivism Quotes

In this profound statement, Maimonides illuminates the intrinsic nature of truth, independent of popular consensus. He asserts that truth stands immutable regardless of the collective opinions of humanity. Maimonides challenges the notion that truth is contingent upon majority belief, emphasizing its inherent validity irrespective of widespread acceptance or rejection. This perspective underscores the importance of objective inquiry and critical thinking in discerning truth from falsehood. Maimonides’ insight serves as a timeless reminder to value intellectual integrity over conformity, encouraging individuals to seek truth through reasoned examination rather than through the mere echo of societal consensus.

William Penn

“Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”

William Penn

William Penn on Collectivism Quotes

William Penn encapsulates the enduring essence of moral principles in this succinct declaration. He affirms that the correctness of an action remains steadfast regardless of societal approval or dissent. Penn’s assertion underscores the timeless nature of ethical truths, emphasizing that right and wrong are not subject to the whims of popular opinion. This statement serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of moral integrity, urging individuals to uphold what is right even in the face of overwhelming opposition and to reject what is wrong even if it enjoys widespread support. Penn’s words resonate as a beacon of moral guidance, advocating for unwavering adherence to ethical standards.

George Carlin

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

George Carlin

George Carlin on Collectivism Quotes

In this blunt yet insightful observation, George Carlin highlights the potential influence of collective ignorance or irrationality. He warns against underestimating the impact of unintelligent or uninformed individuals when they congregate in significant numbers. Carlin’s statement serves as a cautionary reminder of the susceptibility of crowds to manipulation, misinformation, and groupthink. It underscores the need for critical thinking and discernment, especially in the face of populist movements or mass hysteria. Carlin’s words resonate as a reminder of the complexities inherent in human behavior and the importance of vigilance against the dangers posed by the uninformed or misguided masses.

George Carlin

“The larger the group, the more toxic, the more of your beauty as an individual you have to surrender for the sake of group thought. And when you suspend your individual beauty you also give up a lot of your humanity. You will do things in the name of a group that you would never do on your own. Injuring, hurting, killing, drinking are all part of it, because you’ve lost your identity, because you now owe your allegiance to this thing that’s bigger than you are and that controls you.”

George Carlin, Last Words

George Carlin on Collectivism Quotes

In this poignant reflection, George Carlin delves into the perils of conformity within large groups. He eloquently portrays the sacrifice of individuality demanded by collective mentality, likening it to surrendering one’s intrinsic beauty and humanity. Carlin warns against the dangers of relinquishing personal identity to conformist pressures, which can lead individuals to commit acts contrary to their own moral compass. By emphasizing the loss of autonomy and the potential for harmful behavior in the name of group allegiance, Carlin prompts introspection into the balance between individual integrity and societal conformity, urging a vigilant defense of personal identity amidst collective influence.

Murray N. Rothbard

“I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life.”

Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard on Collectivism Quotes

In this eloquent statement, Murray N. Rothbard extols the paramount importance of individual liberty as the cornerstone of a flourishing society. He regards it not only as a moral imperative but also as the essential foundation for the realization of all other cherished human goods. Rothbard contends that from the liberty of the individual springs forth the virtues of moral integrity, the advancement of civilization, the flourishing of arts and sciences, and the prosperity of economies. His perspective underscores the indispensable role of individual freedom in fostering the diverse facets of a vibrant and thriving human existence.

Anwar Sadat

“To damage the sovereignty of the individual is to replace a community inspired by love, benevolence, and beauty by another based solely on power.”

Anwar Sadat

Anwar Sadat on Collectivism Quotes

Anwar Sadat encapsulates the profound consequence of undermining individual sovereignty in this poignant statement. He warns that when the autonomy and dignity of the individual are compromised, a community founded on principles of love, benevolence, and beauty is supplanted by one driven solely by the exercise of power. Sadat emphasizes the pivotal role of individual sovereignty in shaping the fabric of a harmonious and compassionate society. His words serve as a poignant reminder of the intrinsic connection between personal freedom and the cultivation of a community rooted in empathy, kindness, and the pursuit of higher ideals beyond mere dominance and control.

Arnold King

“Anyone who believes that we can afford collectively what we cannot afford individually is delusional.”

Arnold King, Learning Economics

Arnold King on Collectivism Quotes

Arnold King’s quote encapsulates a fundamental truth about economics: the fallacy of collective affordability. He argues that the notion of collectively affording something that individuals cannot afford on their own is illusory. This statement highlights the importance of realistic economic analysis and the limits of collective resources. While it may seem plausible to distribute costs among many, the reality is that resources remain finite. King’s insight urges scrutiny of collective ventures and cautions against blindly assuming shared costs equate to affordability, emphasizing the necessity of assessing economic feasibility on both individual and collective levels.

Ayn Rand

“A ‘collective’ mind does not exist. It is merely the sum of endless numbers of individual minds. If we have an endless number of individual minds who are weak, meek, submissive and impotent – who renounce their creative supremacy for the sake of the “whole” and accept humbly that the ‘whole’s’ verdict – we don’t get a collective super-brain. We get only the weak, meek, submissive and impotent collective mind.”

Ayn Rand, The Journals of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand on Collectivism Quotes

Ayn Rand’s quote dissects the fallacy of a collective mind, asserting that it’s merely an amalgamation of individual minds. She contends that if these individuals relinquish their creative autonomy for the collective’s sake, the outcome is not a super-brain but rather a weak, submissive entity. Rand warns against sacrificing individual sovereignty for the illusion of collective strength, as it results in a collective mind devoid of vitality or innovation. Her perspective underscores the importance of preserving individuality within groups, challenging the notion that collective conformity leads to intellectual superiority, and instead advocating for the empowerment of individual minds.

Friedrich Nietzsche

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche on Collectivism Quotes

Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote starkly contrasts individual sanity with collective madness, suggesting that insanity thrives within groups, parties, nations, and eras. He highlights the propensity for irrationality and chaos to emerge when individuals unite under a common banner. Nietzsche’s observation speaks to the phenomenon of groupthink, where individual dissent is subdued, and irrational beliefs or behaviors prevail unchecked. This insight serves as a cautionary reminder about the dangers of uncritical conformity and blind allegiance to collective ideologies, urging individuals to maintain autonomy of thought and resist succumbing to the madness that often pervades collective entities.

Thomas Jefferson

“The force of public opinion cannot be resisted, when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary to keep the waters pure.”

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on Collectivism Quotes

Thomas Jefferson’s quote underscores the power of public opinion and the necessity of allowing it to be freely expressed. He acknowledges that attempting to resist or suppress public sentiment is futile and that the resulting agitation must be endured. Jefferson emphasizes the importance of maintaining transparency and openness in society, likening public opinion to cleansing waters that must be kept pure. His words advocate for a democratic ethos where the voices of the people shape governance and decision-making, highlighting the need for leaders to heed public sentiment and uphold principles of free expression to ensure the vitality and health of society.

Henry A. Wallace

“The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.”

Henry A. Wallace

Henry A. Wallace on Collectivism Quotes

Henry A. Wallace’s quote offers insight into the tactics of American fascism, suggesting a preference for subversion over overt violence. He asserts that rather than employing physical force, the American fascist seeks to corrupt public information channels. This insidious strategy aims to manipulate public perception, control narratives, and undermine democratic institutions from within. Wallace’s observation serves as a cautionary warning about the subtle erosion of democracy through the distortion and manipulation of information, highlighting the importance of vigilance in safeguarding the integrity of public discourse and preserving the principles of freedom and democracy.


“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”


Unknown on Collectivism Quotes

This anonymous quote succinctly captures the idea that forcibly changing someone’s beliefs or opinions rarely results in genuine persuasion. It suggests that even if someone is compelled to outwardly agree or comply, their inner convictions remain unchanged. This phenomenon underscores the importance of respectful dialogue and persuasion through reasoned argumentation rather than coercion. It emphasizes the futility of trying to impose beliefs on others and highlights the significance of fostering understanding and mutual respect in discourse. Ultimately, the quote serves as a reminder that true persuasion involves engaging with others in a manner that respects their autonomy and intellect.

Arthur Balfour

“The tyranny of majorities may be as bad as the tyranny of kings.”

Arthur Balfour

Arthur Balfour on Collectivism Quotes

Arthur Balfour’s quote draws attention to the potential tyranny inherent in majority rule, suggesting that it can be just as oppressive as the rule of monarchs. While democracy often champions the principle of majority decision-making, Balfour warns against the dangers of unchecked mob mentality or groupthink. He highlights the potential for the majority to impose its will on dissenting minorities, leading to injustices and oppression. This observation underscores the importance of safeguarding individual rights and liberties even within democratic systems, emphasizing the need for mechanisms that protect minority voices and ensure that power remains balanced and accountable.

Marcus Aurelius

“The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.”

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius on Collectivism Quotes

Marcus Aurelius’s quote encapsulates the essence of informed opinion over sheer numbers. He suggests that the collective opinion of a multitude holds little worth if none possess knowledge about the subject at hand. This insight emphasizes the importance of expertise and informed judgment in decision-making processes. Aurelius challenges the notion that numerical consensus equates to validity, highlighting the significance of substance over quantity. His observation serves as a reminder to seek wisdom and understanding when forming opinions or making judgments, valuing depth of knowledge and expertise over mere numerical agreement.

Vladimir Lenin

“Our power does not know liberty or justice. It is established on the destruction of the individual will.”

Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin on Collectivism Quotes

Vladimir Lenin’s quote encapsulates the essence of authoritarianism, suggesting that the power wielded by oppressive regimes disregards concepts of liberty and justice. He acknowledges that such power is built upon the suppression and obliteration of individual autonomy and free will. Lenin’s statement underscores the ruthless nature of totalitarian systems, which prioritize centralized control over the rights and freedoms of individuals. By highlighting the subjugation of individual will, he exposes the inherent tyranny of such regimes, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding individual liberties and resisting the encroachment of authoritarian rule.

Winston Churchill

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill on Collectivism Quotes

Winston Churchill’s quote offers a scathing critique of socialism, branding it as a doctrine characterized by failure, ignorance, and envy. He contends that socialism’s foundational principles lead to societal decay rather than progress. Churchill suggests that socialism fosters an atmosphere of resentment and covetousness, rather than encouraging individual achievement and prosperity. By labeling it as a creed of ignorance, he implies that socialism ignores the realities of human nature and economic principles. Churchill’s words serve as a warning against the allure of socialist ideologies, advocating instead for systems that promote individual initiative, economic freedom, and societal advancement.

Richard Wright

“They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces.”

Richard Wright, Native Son

Richard Wright on Collectivism Quotes

Richard Wright’s quote delves into the complex dynamics of hate and fear, suggesting that they stem from a sense of powerlessness and confusion. He posits that individuals harbor hatred due to their fear of having their fundamental beliefs and emotions challenged or threatened. Wright portrays them as unwitting participants in a societal game driven by unseen influences, unable to comprehend the origins of their animosity. This insight offers a poignant commentary on the destructive nature of prejudice and bigotry, highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing the underlying social dynamics that perpetuate such attitudes.

Calvin Coolidge

“Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual liberty.”

Calvin Coolidge, Address to the Holy Name Society, Washington, D.C., September 21, 1924

Calvin Coolidge on Collectivism Quotes

Calvin Coolidge’s quote succinctly captures the essence of individual liberty, emphasizing its personal nature over collective ideologies. He asserts that liberty is fundamentally tied to the rights and freedoms of individuals rather than group entities. Coolidge’s words underscore the principle that each person possesses inherent rights that should be respected and protected. By highlighting the importance of individual liberty, he advocates for a society where personal autonomy and freedom are upheld as paramount values. This perspective challenges the notion that liberty can be achieved through collective means, emphasizing instead the significance of empowering individuals to exercise their rights freely.

Anthony De Jasay

“The smaller the domain where choices among alternatives are made collectively, the smaller will be the probability that any individual’s preference gets overruled.”

Anthony De Jasay

Anthony De Jasay on Collectivism Quotes

Anthony de Jasay’s quote elucidates the dynamics of decision-making within smaller collective units, highlighting the increased likelihood of individual preferences being upheld. He suggests that in smaller domains where choices are made collectively, the power of each individual’s preference is amplified, reducing the probability of it being overridden by the collective will. This observation underscores the importance of scale in democratic processes and governance, implying that smaller communities or organizations may better preserve individual autonomy and accommodate diverse preferences. De Jasay’s insight prompts reflection on the balance between collective decision-making and the protection of individual rights within various social structures.

Edward Bernays

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society…In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

Edward Bernays, Propaganda

Edward Bernays on Collectivism Quotes

Edward Bernays’ quote delves into the intricate workings of societal control, asserting that the manipulation of collective habits and opinions is a crucial aspect of democratic societies. He unveils the existence of an invisible ruling power, comprised of individuals adept at influencing the masses. Bernays contends that this manipulation is pervasive, shaping everything from political decisions to personal preferences. His words shed light on the subtle mechanisms through which consent is manufactured and public opinion is molded. This insight prompts reflection on the balance between individual autonomy and the influence of unseen forces in shaping societal norms and behaviors within democratic frameworks.

Mao Zedong

“The cult of xenophobia is the cheapest and surest method of obtaining from the masses the ignorant and savage patriotism, which puts the blame for every political folly or social misfortune upon the foreigner.”

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong on Collectivism Quotes

Mao Zedong’s quote exposes the insidious nature of xenophobia, portraying it as a tool used to manipulate the masses and instill a misguided sense of patriotism. He contends that by scapegoating foreigners, leaders can deflect responsibility for political failures or social injustices, exploiting the ignorance and prejudices of the populace. This observation highlights the danger of fostering an “us versus them” mentality, which not only distracts from internal problems but also perpetuates division and hostility. Mao’s words serve as a stark reminder of the perils of nationalist fervor fueled by fear and ignorance, urging vigilance against the manipulation of public sentiment.

Mark Twain

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

Mark Twain

Mark Twain on Collectivism Quotes

Mark Twain’s quote challenges the notion of blindly following the majority, suggesting that being in alignment with the masses may warrant a moment of reflection or a call for change. He implies that consensus doesn’t necessarily equate to correctness or moral integrity. Twain advocates for individual critical thinking and independent judgment, cautioning against the dangers of conformity and groupthink. His words prompt introspection, encouraging individuals to reassess their positions and beliefs when they find themselves in agreement with the majority, fostering a culture of intellectual curiosity and openness to alternative perspectives.