Communitarianism is a system with the community as the primary focus. Individualism is a system with the individual (or family unit) as the primary focus.
Communities are composed of individuals. When you have strong individuals, you get a strong community. Community is an abstraction. When we focus on the community as it it were a solid thing, the individuals languish and we get a weak community.
The left seeks power by consolidating the community. To do this they attack individualism by ridiculing a straw-man called the self-made man. The self-made straw-man is absurd. Individualism simply means that the free individual is the focus of society. Free people in a free market make more associations in the community than people living in top-down structured societies.
Unfortunately, the advocates of liberty do an absolutely pathetic job of defending individualism. Reactionary conservatives make the mistake of defending the straw-man. Defending the straw-man allows the left to project false images on to the free market. When the right defends the straw-man, the left is able to project the false image that the free market has people living in isolation in a winner take all society.
Free marketeers are also prone to start defending the free market on economic terms instead of moral terms.
We have a top down financial system with money produced by the feds, which trickles down to the people through the banks and Wall Street. Wall Street is a centralized market with all trades tightly regulated. We proponents of the free market attempt to argue finance, the left is able to project all of the faults of the financial system on the free market.
The free market is about free minds defining values and pursuing aspirations.
Deregulating a top-heavy captured financial system does not lead to a free market. It leads to a top-heavy society dominated by its worst elements.
A large number of the devices in our financial markets were designed by progressives to regulate the market. Insurance, short selling, derivatives, CDOs, Mortgage Backed Securities, hedge funds, etc., were created for the expressed purpose of regulating the economy.
Since so many financial tools were designed to regulate, financial deregulation involves deregulating regulators ... which is a formula for disaster.
We see this clearly with the Commodities Future Modernization Act of 2000 signed by William Jefferson Clinton. (If floored me to see Clinton blaming Bush for a bill that he signed!) The dervivatives created by this act were designed to create a regulated market. The belief was that the complex derivatives would be self regulating. When William Jefferson Clinton created the dervatives that crashed the economy, William Jefferson Clinton believed that he was creating a self-regulating regulatory regime.
Conservatives keep being duped into thinking that the financial system is the free market. IT IS NOT.
To restore the free market we have to start creating financial tools that empower individuals from the ground up. The Medical Savings and Loan is such a system. It empowers people by giving people direct control over the first block of their health care.
Rather than talking about tax cuts, Republcans would be wise to look for tax reform that gives people greater control over their finances. For example, in our current system, employers do the bulk of the accounting for their employers. Republicans should define a new tax system such as the Object Tax. This is an account based tax in which your entire paycheck is deposited into an account. You pay your tax to withdraw your money. Such a system gives individuals greater control over their money and taxes.
Unfortunately, as long as we play the game in which we allow the enemies of freedom define the terms of the debate, we will continue to see our precious freedoms diminish.
The American experiment in self rule held the individual in high esteem. In this experiment our forefathers discovered that a community with strong individuals is a strong community. The left seeks to destroy the experiment in self rule by ridiculing a straw-man. Unfortunately, since conservatives are reactionary idiots, the left is able to get away with game.