Classical thinkers spent a great deal of time thinking about things like the mind and soul.
As far as we can tell, the individual is the only thing with a soul.
You may notice that any group of people can physically divided until one gets down to the the indivisible unit of the individual ... notice the root of the word!?
The individual is the only entity with a soul.
In the American experiment in self rule, classical liberal thinkers held the individual in high esteem.
This was a radical concept. Through the centuries of feudalism, people struggled under the notion that the group was everything and the individual was a expendable part of the group.
Holding the individual in high esteem does not mean an end to groups. People are social creatures and tend to form groups.
It turns out that, when one holds the individual in high esteem, the groups within society become more dynamic.
The Founders considered freedom of association a fundamental human right. People do not willingly live in complete isolation. They want to form associations. The United States became an extremely dynamic society, because free people run around forming new groups, and quitting those groups that treat individuals poorly.
It's communitarianism that leads to systemic isolation. Communitarians drive out the people who are not willing to bow to the power structure of the community. These people are then isolated.
A society that holds the group over the individual inevitably devolves into a class society as the people on the inside of the group become an upper class and those forced to the outside become a lower class.
By holding the individual in high esteem, one creates vibrant communities.
The classical liberal concept of a free individual was revolutionary. In the 1800s, there was a great deal of reaction to the concept of liberty. The political world quickly devolved into partisanship as powerful groups sought to dominate the government. A large number of reactionary utopian societies formed communes to revive the idealized tribal camaraderie of Feudalism.
The classical liberals of the early 1800s had great success using classical logic (analytics) to explain why a society that held the individual in high esteem works.
The reactionaries, inevitably, turned to dialectics. Analytics centers on reason (a logic model for society). Dialectics centers on conflict. (a system of thought centered on conflict is as much an ideology as one centered on logic).
The dialecticians of the 1800s developed all sorts of clever little tricks (mostly logical fallacies) to project false images onto the classical liberal ideas of the free individual.
Since communitarians drive out the people who don't bend to the power structure, individualism must be about isolution. When individuals succeed they project false images about individuals as tyrrants.
Since communitarians hold loyality to their group as the highest virtues, they claim individualism is without virtue.
The real aim of the 19th century dialectician was to form a power base.
Dialecticians would routinely tell their followers that they had to form into powerful groups to dominate their hated opponents. You must dominate else you will be dominated.
The game of uniting one part of a community against another sounds compelling, but actually creates greater and deeper divisions.
Dialecticians from Hegel and Joseph Smith to Popper and Soros all repeat the same argument: "One must dominate or be dominated." All these groups have the common form of claiming that there is some mysterious "them" who people must united and struggle against. Joseph Smith said his followers were the righteous against the gentiles. OWS says they are the 99% against a sinister 1%.
he left claim they must united against the right and the right against the left.
People fail to realize that both progressive and conservative dialecticians lead society to ruin.
It's an ugly, ugly, ugly way to be.
The classical liberal ideals are a better path. The path starts by holding the individual in high esteem. When you have a free society with a limited government set on protecting property rights of the individual, then you end up with robust communities.
The communitarian appraoch, in which power players form ugly, nastry groups that kick people down devolve into oppressive groups.