Letter from the Editors

(Individualism vs Collectivism, 31 Oct 2012)

Sarang Shah · Bram De Ridder · Brecht Savelkoul ·

We’re facing a global crisis in confidence. That was the conclusion of the first issue of Distilled Magazine. In it, our contributors gave their views on where, why, and how this feeling of unease influences the people’s lives. Some wrote about the consequences of this crisis while others of the way to restore our belief in the future. But what exactly do we do now? That’s why this second issue of Distilled Magazine wants to pick up the debate where we last left off.

Crises of confidence often result from increased complexity and ensuing alienation. But not too long ago the world seemed to be a far less complex place. During the Cold War, a binary system divided countries, nations, and people along a simple line: either you believed in the benefits of collective action or in the supremacy of individual creativity. We believe that this distinction still serves a purpose when looking at current affairs. We asked our contributors to review the cases for both individualism and collectivism in today’s globalized world. When browsing through their articles, you will notice that this old fault line is still an enlightening way to grasp the complexities of contemporary politics, economics, and culture.

In our political arena Johannes Ruckstuhl debates Swiss isolationism in the European collective, Jonathan West uses Christian just war theory to judge modern day economic sanctions, and our own Bram De Ridder frames the use of mercenaries.

Moving eastward, Professor Tej Pratap Singh tells the story of India’s fight against modern day Maoism, whereas Sarah de Geest and Erica Lin discuss legal and economic changes, respectively, in the world’s largest communist state, China. We then leap across the Pacific for our economic stories, where Glen Watson examines the state of unionism in North America,  Bailey McClanathan critiques farm subsidies in the United States, and Gregory Gillette visits the humble honeybee to examine the political economy of health and science. We dig deeper into the Western economy in our interview with Luc Dirckx, Senior Manager at Hoffman-La Roch, who believes some individualism is good for business. Mike Marin on the other hand argues it isn’t.

Finally, on our cultural scene, George Bickers looks back on your childhood superheroes (with a twist), Brecht Savelkoul takes a closer look at two Ring Cycles, Maggie Lenarz visits fellow expats in the U.A.E., and Heather Hind delves into the feminist side of vajazzling. In their own way, all these articles address the problems of individuals maintaining themselves in larger groups, or the challenges collectives face in successfully coordinating individual people.

At Distilled, we believe that there isn’t a single winner in the debate between between individualism and collectivism. Nor should there be. In every situation it is vital to consciously make an appropriate reasoned moral judgement. That is why Distilled is determined to tear down all barriers that inhibit conscious ethical decision making, from superstitious dogma to mindless technocracy. So for our readers we have only one recommendation. Stake your ground and defend it. Wisely.