The "Group-Entity" Illusion (was Ayn Rand on Society -- WRONG!)

Freespeak (
Tue, 19 Jan 1999 11:46:06 -0700

Can anyone suggest a catchy term for the illusion that "collectives are real" or "collectives exist?"

This issue is discussed in 'Word Controlled Humans' by John Harland, out of print but apparently available from A-Albionic --


I also found 'The Life And Crucifixion Of Julian And The Threat Of Group-Entities' by Harland, John at
<>, which suggests the term "Group-Entity" Illusion. But maybe someone can suggest a term with greater "meme-power."

The basic illusion is that the "flock" is real or exists as an entity, often spoken about as if it is a volitional entity. Similarly, the "school" of fish, "society" of humans, "country" of citizens, "government" of politicians and bureaucrats, etc.

For some related analysis, see Max's DEEP ANARCHY -- AN ELIMINATIVIST VIEW OF "THE STATE" <>.

Frederick Mann

At 09:03 AM 1/19/99 -0700, wrote:
>James Daugherty writes:
>>Unfortunately, Ayn Rand was wrong. Collectives are real!
>She never said collectives aren't real. She said they're not entities: they
>have no independent physical existence. They exist as relations and as
>conceptual categories, not as objects. Take away the individuals and
>society disappears. The converse doesn't hold.
>>Memes create social organisms just as genes create regular biological
>An intriguing idea, but wholly unsubstantiated. Can you point to such an
>organism? Have you communicated with one (other than in the sense of
>communicating with one or more individuals representing it)?
>>One could just a well say that the human body doesn't
>>exist! Really, the human body is a group of individual cells, albeit
>>co-operating in complex ways.
>It's somewhat more than that: it's a tightly integrated and mutually
>dependent group of cells with a more or less central control mechanism. A
>cell can't exist apart from the rest of the body except under highly
>artificial conditions. None of this is true of individuals vis-a-vis
>society, for instance.
>>Nonsense! Collectives and
>>human bodies do exist......fortunately, with self-awareness, one
>>does not have to be part of a collective.
>Exactly. But if the collective were truly an organism, this would not be

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