The debate over the individual perspective vs. that of the broader community is so old it is a cliché to even mention this. It is not a matter of the political left vs. right as there are instances of dominating collectives on both the right and left and instances of extreme individualism on the left and right.
Here is one of my favorite poems in which Joy Kogawa in 1973, I feel, nicely lays out some of the complexity of issues in the broader debate.
To the Lady Who Phoned Chairman Mao
Of course, you understand the thing was mad.
Had you represented the League of Women Voters
Or at least the local PTA in your town,
Something might have been arranged.
As it is, I’m only an interpreter, and not empowered
To include in the current five year plan
A telephone call to Peking
From Assonet, Mass.
When you said that you were trying to prove
To your children, who were listening
On the extension, that they were not
Without power or meaning in the world,
And that the individual person
May speak to the ear of the Chairman,
It would normally have been my duty
(Had you not called collect)
To remind you of the Chairman’s words
On the sterility of the alienated act.
The facelessness of the man without a Party
And the reactionary nature of the attentat.
However, as you hang up,
Not having quite reached to Chairman Mao,
I shake my head and savour
The fragrant sauce on an other wise flat
And unseasoned day.
And I am enough of a descendent of Lao Tse
To think of children’s possible delight
In this adventure you made them –
And of you husband, returning form the garment factory,
Who will say that to phone was gall enough,
But to phone collect was chutzpa.
Later, over the evening tea,
I will wonder if in the Untied States
They have had your phone disconnected.
This is from a collection of Canadian poems, I.S. 15, edited by Ted Whitaker, printed in 1973 by Coach House Press, 401 Huron Street (rear), Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The rest are just as good if you can find a copy.