What holds society together? A love for humanity? Common values? Cultural ideals? What is the real glue that holds things together? The short answer is, well... Collectivism, and the rest of the piece here will be expansion on that one idea.
Pick up a kids science book and go the ecology part, (it should be about half the book by now, I'm sure) there you will find a diagram of some animal, and an arrangement of images showing larger groups of the same. What you'll notice is that as the groups get bigger the name changes; it doesn't say one, two, three, more than three, etc. Big terms are useful, but they come at a cost. That cost is the emotional notion that gets stuck on words. As the individual grows into a society something gets lost: the individual.
It's not all loss however, more people can mean difficult things can be done more easily. There can be creative breakthroughs or high productivity. However, the gains of this big word that hold all these individuals in it (ie. collective) creates other unintended or at least unnoticed effects.
The average individual generally has good intentions. So, how can it be that when people talk about "society" the default notion is the "survival of the fittest?" Peer to peer and day to day, people in any given area are trying to either help each other or just leave each other alone; and yet "society" is a chaotic dog eat dog scrap for resources and power. Like a self-fulfilling fractal prophecy, the beliefs about "society" or individuals can filter down or expand up along the scale.
Changing words doesn't change what things are; a "society" is just a bunch of individuals. The word by itself is not dangerous, but some of the assumptions it creates are. Behaviors are propelled by beliefs formed from the perception of information. When perception is geared toward appeals to authority and "the greater good," the assumption forms that without X, Y would be chaos or not exist. The fog of words can be hard to see through and it's easier to generalize than investigate.
The ironic counter-productive outcomes can be seen strewn throughout human history. The pattern hardly ever changes form, but sometimes changes style; people fear a thing, a "leader" steps up to "get justice" or, "protect the innocent" or, "your slogan here" and then mobs of people begin enforcing the most ridiculous stuff you've ever heard. All to the tune of "We have to because xyz thing will happen" or, "xyz is in danger!" Whatever fear gets lodged into the mass mind becomes an unquestionable rationalization for so many absurd destructive acts that it's difficult to see how more individuals haven't picked up on the them.
Collectivists reach the conclusion that the activities of the average person can't be trusted, and for reasons of safety or peace or some other equally vague non-sense, the will of others must follow convention. Go to school, get a degree, work a job, make money, retire, then go fishing. Outside of the cookie cutter life is a lot of uncertainty. Questioning the common practice is a fearful notion and going against the grain is unpleasant. This fear is the danger of collectivism. Large groups of individuals trying to maintain and contain the will of every other individual in a huge appeal to fear.
The fears driving collectivism could fill volumes but thankfully we don't need any of that information (sarcasm), because the solution is always the same; "Do what everyone else tells you to do." Forced participation is the hallmark of collective fears. When an individual wants to strike out on their own, do something new, or just live a life outside the contemporary, the fear addled mob will cry and scream "chaos!" Forget about travel, construction, and gardening without the loving eye of the paranoid and fear ridden masses sicking their hired thugs on you for "breaking the rules of society."
Social pressure is a hell of a drug. It's one that seems to have a strong effect on the reasoning of ordinary people. We all live together on the planet so everyone has to go along with systems that are in place. Everyone has to work, make money, stay in line, obey the rules, respect the leader; otherwise "society" falls apart. All the rationalizations are wrapped up nice and neat in the mind of the collectivist. Independent free will is dangerous, stupid people ruin it for everyone because people can't be trusted to make good decisions, there are bad guys everywhere and the only thing we can do is obey the bad guy in charge. You may not be allowed to live the way you really want to, but at least you're free to participate.
Editors Note: If you want to live the life you want to live, one must support voluntaryism.