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Individualism

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INDIVIDUALISM, in political philosophy, the theory of government according to which the good of the State consists in the well-being and free initiative of the component members (Lat. individualis, that which is not divided, an individual). From this standpoint, as contrasted with that of the various forms of Social ism (q.v.) which subordinate the individual to the community, the community as such is an artificial unity. Individualism is, how ever, by no means identical with egoism, though egoism is always individualistic. An individualist may also be a conscientious al truist : he is by no means hostile to or aloof from society (any more than the Socialist is necessarily hostile to the individual), but he is opposed to State interference with individual freedom wherever, in his opinion, it can be avoided. The practical distinc tion in modern society is necessarily one of degree, and both "In dividualism" and "Socialism" are very vaguely used, and generally as terms of reproach by opponents. See ANARCHISM ; CAPITAL ISM ; ECONOMICS ; SOCIALISM.

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