What does a crowd of people lack that an individual has?
When in a crowd, the individual takes credit for anything good that comes of the crowd action, but if something goes wrong, there are always the others in the group to blame.
It is a perfect perversion of civilization into parasitism. Take the benefits, externalize the weaknesses.
Crowds have great inertia for this reason. They sponsor rent-seeking behavior where people see that something profitable is happening, so they join the crowd for the good parts. But the costs? Those they pass on to others.
We can see this phenomenon in all human activities: business, government, religion and socializing. When people are in a group, they feel that membership entitles them to the good but when something goes wrong, they push the problem off their desks and go on their merry ways.
As the West spirals down to internal collapse, the nature of the crowd stands revealed. By removing accountability, it detaches people from reality. They then go further into themselves and mentally associate with only the positives — what they desire, easily understand and feel — and ignore everything else.
This creates a mental state known as solipsism. In this state the individual believes that the world exists within himself. He knows only what he wants it to do, and excludes the idea of consequences outside of that intent. Good intentions become reality to such a person.
As a side effect, crowds create great inertia. When a good thing appears, many people show up to take their part of the benefits. When its errors become visible, they deny them, because in their solipsism they want only the desired and wish the bad away. When it finally cracks, the group scatters and the blame game begins. But at that point, everything under its control has been ruined.
This phenomenon can be seen in the rise of companies. A good idea comes forth; just about everyone wants to be hired by this company. To it they bring their own wants and a lack of care about what makes it actually succeed. They do not care about its future; they only want to take what is there now. With many contradictory directions, the company becomes enmired in trying to ensure compromise. Its business changes from whatever earns it money to managing itself internally.
The modern West finds itself in this situation, as it has been since it legitimized Crowds as the rule of law in 1789 with the French Revolution. Centuries later, the inertia is finaly slowing. As Slavoj Zizek recently argued in a revealing interview for those who read between the lines:
We have a right to set limits. We feel too guilty in Europe — our multicultural tolerance is the effluent of a bad conscience, of a guilt complex that could cause Europe to perish. The greatest threat to Europe is its inertia, its retreat into a culture of apathy and general relativism. I am dogmatic in that sense. Freedom cannot be sustained without a certain amount of dogmatism. I don’t want to cast doubt on everything or question everything. Liberal dogmatism is based on what Hegel called moral substance. That’s why I am also against every form of political correctness, which attempts to control something that should be a part of our moral substance with societal or legal bans.
Inertia is what comes of personal freedom without limits. With democracy, we become a Crowd, and then we become solipsistic. At that point, no one wants to either rock the boat or pay attention to reality at all.
Zizek contrasts “social freedom” to this, which seems to mean the ability of societies to make choices. With democracy, we go in only one direction, which is more personal freedom. That turns our societies into moribund entities in the business of compromise, but no longer in the business of thriving.