It’s an interesting paradox to be sure.

How do individuals come together to effect massive collective action? And of course, even with Ghandi or Martin Luther King jr, there was a collective of people who rallied around their central idea.

And your example is a perfect one… how did the individuals in the Colonies collectively come together to throw off British Rule? (I don’t propose to answer this open question — that would be an entire book!). But here are a few points to frame the discussion…

Recall that the languaging of the American Revolution was all about the sovereignty of individual rights. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” etc.

Remember too that the individuals who founded the government after the successful American Revolution were so cautious about giving the Government authority that the first proposed government “The Articles of Confederation” was too weak to be a central State.

And then, in the ensuing Constitution that we now have, 10 Articles were immediately attached — the Bill of Rights — to ensure that the rights of the individual would NOT be trampled in the new government.

And so, for the Colonists who revolted against the British, the whole point of their exercise was to ensure that the SOVEREIGN rights of the individual to pursue life and liberty would be honored and respected and that even within the state — the collective — the sovereign rights of the individual would hold primacy. Hence, the Bill of Rights.

To say it differently and to use a phrase that Peterson uses: It’s all about the “locus of moral authority.” Where does that reside?

What we know — what Peterson teaches — is that whenever a Group claims it has moral authority, bad things happen. Think the Roman Catholic Church, think Naziis, think Communism, etc. The Group doles out moral and physical punishment for those who are seen to be not part of the Group.

And so we cannot ever place moral authority with a Group, no matter how apparently honorable the Group claims to be. And, to their credit, the Founders of America knew that and acted to ensure that the individual’s rights were sovereign, to wit: the State could not search your home without a warrant, you can not be forced to give testimony against yourself, you have the right to say what you want to say, etc.

And that’s the point of what Peterson, as I see it, is trying to teach. If we want more progress as a collective, we must continue with that mindset — that the individual is sovereign.

Then, to your point, the question is: how to draw individuals together into collective action? And that’s a different question. But one that we must address from the parameters of ensuring that the individual is sovereign even within the collective action.

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Best-selling author of Play Your Cards Right: A Sacred Guide To Life on Earth. Founder of Life Elevated, a non-profit org dedicated to elevating consciousness.

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Alexander Dunlop

Alexander Dunlop

Best-selling author of Play Your Cards Right: A Sacred Guide To Life on Earth. Founder of Life Elevated, a non-profit org dedicated to elevating consciousness.

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