Collectivism refers to the primacy if collective goals over individual goals. Individual freedom can be curbed on the plea of “public interest”, “common interest”, and “good of society”. Collectivism can be traced to Greek philosopher, Plato (Guru of Aristotle), who argued that individual rights should be sacrificed for the good of the majority and the property should be owned in common.
Source of authority means wherefrom comes the authority to govern. Nation-states derive their authority from different sources. In a traditional monarchy, like Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Monaco, et al, heredity in the royal lineage is the legitimizing principle. In a constitutional monarchy, the hereditary monarch is little more than a head of state and democratic institutions have taken over the governance.
In a theocracy, religious prerogative is the guiding philosophy. Most Muslim nations are close to this category. They also have secular institutions, such as Iran and Pakistan. In a patrimonial state, ruling families have the authority to rule, but such states have danger of instability.
Suharto regime was overthrown in 1998 in Indonesia. In most of the modern states the sovereignty lies with the Constitution. “Constitutionalism implies a set of rules, grounded in a society’s shared beliefs, about the ruler and the ruled.
The civilian authority is the most powerful. Constitutions may be written as we have in India, or unwritten, as is the case with England. Mere existence of constitution is, however, no guarantee of a responsive government as in party states, who pay only lip service to the rule of law.
And power, which is like weather – easier to talk upon than to understand; and like love – easier to experience than to define. The concept of power has changed over time. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was equated with the size of a state’s population and amount of land under cultivation (territorial state). In the 19th century industry and railroads were more important sources of power. Currently the power is derived from economic growth and technological evolution.
The third dimension of a political system is who controls the authority – the elected representatives or one person (or one political party). The two represent a political spectrum or continuum. When elected representatives govern the state it is called democracy. When a person or a group of persons or one political party keeps absolute control over all spheres of human life, without any opposition, is referred to as totalitarianism.
However, the form of government is not free from the individualism go together and totalitarianism and collectivism go together. There are instances where a democracy may follow collectivism and totalitarian state may allow some degree of individualism in economic field. India till 1980s and China during the last 25 years are good examples of this contrast.