The Individuality of Man

Barry Goldwater, in 1961, wrote an essay in a conservative journal founded at Tulane University called “The Liberator.”  In this essay he explains his concept of “the whole man”, a phrase he used in his nomination acceptance speech in 1964 and in other talks.

Conservatives are interested in the whole man, while the radical-liberals confine their interest to the material side of his nature. Conservatives believe that man is in part an economic and animal creature, but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires.… The conservative respects the individuality of man, realizing that man’s spiritual and material development is not something that can be directed by outside forces. Every man, for his individual good and the good of his society, is responsible for his own development. The choices that govern his life are choices that he, not a super-state, must make. And these are choices that must involve the whole man [emphasis Goldwater’s own], if they are to be the right choices. If life were concerned only with material things, as the Liberal approach indicates, then I suppose the conduct of some men might be justified. The materialistic philosophies of Marx and Engels, which call for the suppression of the individual and glorify the collective, are only acceptable to people who deny the possibility of a more significant explanation for man’s existence….

The Liberals, with their emphasis on collectivism and conformity, and their willingness to use compulsion to achieve their ends, are actually suggesting a course of action which thoughtful men have rejected throughout history. The reason man must be treated as an individual is because he has an individual immortal soul. Thus, his freedom comes from God — as do all of his rights. In the scheme of things, government’s only proper role is in the protection of man’s God-given freedoms and rights. [All emphases again are Goldwater’s own.]

The conservative recognizes that the concentration of power in the hands of the few has always been the undoing of those who aspired to the fruits of freedom. Aware of the overbearing evidence of history as to the truth of this postulate, the conservative is fearful of the concentration of power which accompanies central government.

And then, with high relevance today, this: “I am convinced that most Americans now want to reverse the trend. I think that concern for our vanishing freedoms is genuine. I think that the people’s uneasiness in the stifling omnipresence of government has turned into something approaching alarm….”

Quin Hillyer, whose father was the publisher of The Liberator does some reminiscing over at The American Spectator, from which this Goldwater quote was taken.