Dictionary defines individual as “a single human being, as distinguished from a group”. An Individual is one and only entity that thinks, wants, decides, and acts. Any collective is always just a group of individuals whether it is small family or huge state. The key here is to understand that it is always individual and never collective who thinks and acts. It is always interests of individual, however individual understands them, which are driving forces of thinking and acting.
A collective as a group of individuals is always divided into elite and non-elite with elite individuals being able to convince or force non-elite to act in the way defined by compromise between interests of elite individuals.
From the tribe of hunter – gatherers of about 100 genetically closed individuals to multinational state of a billion of individuals or religion that includes many billions of individuals, the collective is always based on combination of indoctrination, violence, and deception. However the reason for individual to join collective is compelling. The individual could not survive alone, so collective provides individual with resources when and if individual could not obtain them on his/her own. It also provides framework for cooperation and division of labor that greatly multiplies productivity. Last but not least the collective provides individual with at least limited security. In short: The participation in collective provides individual with benefits of security against other collectives and availability of resources created by other individuals at the expense of insecurity against superior individuals within collective and possibility of resource confiscation for use by other individuals.
So as long as elite does not want non-elite individual’s flash for the dinner, or does not intend immediately waste his/her life for a great conquest or for building bright future, even the non-elite individuals are better off as part of the collective then alone. Unfortunately eventually elite does become hungry for the flash of non-elite and it does waste their lives for various great endeavors depriving non-elite of resources.
In addition to elite megalomania risk, the big downside of collective is its redistributive functionality. In order to survive and prosper the individuals have to use their time and effort for two not necessarily connected purposes. One purpose of their effort would be productive such as obtaining food, shelter, security, and/or producing goods and services for exchange with other individuals. Another purpose would be distributive – secure advantageous position within collective that would allow obtaining goods and services produced by other individuals without exchange. The health and the very existence of the collective always depend on the balance of power between productive and distributive individuals. Whenever distributors are winning, the society gets sick and usually dies either due to conquest by external forces or via process of internal disintegration like Soviet Union. USA is now sick with the same illness. The right treatment would be expansion of private property as wide as possible to assure switch from violent redistribution to voluntary exchange.