Collectivism is a term used to describe any doctrine that stresses the importance of a collective, rather than the importance of the individual. Collectivists believe the individual should be subordinate to the collective, which may be a group of individuals, a whole society, a state, a nation, a race, or a social class. Thus, collectivism contrasts with individualism, which emphasises the liberty of the individual. Some consider an early example of collectivist political philosophy to be Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “social contract”, which maintains that each individual is under implicit contract to submit his own will to the “general will” and that the state should enforce this general will. This notion of an ethical obligation to subordinate an individual’s will to the group will is in fundamental opposition to individualism which advocates that individual action should not be restricted by others. VS. Individualism is a moral, political, and social philosophy, which emphasizes individual liberty, the primary importance of the individual, and the "virtues of self-reliance" and "personal independence". Individualism embraces opposition to authority, and to all manner of controls over the individual, especially when exercised by the political state or "society." It is thus directly opposed to collectivism, which advocates subordination of the individual to the will of the society or community. It is often confused with "egoism," but an individualist need not be an egoist. In political philosophy, the individualist theory of government holds that the state should take a merely defensive role by protecting the liberty of each individual to act as he wishes as long he does not infringe on the same liberty of another. This contrasts with collectivist political theories, where, rather than leaving the individual to pursue his own ends, the state ensures that the individual serves the interests of society when taken as a whole. It also contrasts with fascism, where the individual is required to serve the interests of the state. The term has also been used to describe "individual initiative" and "freedom of the individual" in general, perhaps best described by the French term "laissez faire," a verb meaning "to let [the people] do" [for themselves what they know how to do]. In practice, individualists are chiefly concerned with protecting individual autonomy by opposing encroachment by the state. They pay particular attention to protecting the liberties of the minority against transgressions by the majority and see the individual as the smallest minority. For example, individualists oppose democratic systems unless constitutional protections exist that preserve individual liberty of individuals from being diminished by the interests of the majority. These concerns encompass both civil and economic liberties. One typical concern is the concentration of commercial and industrial enterprise in the hands of the state, and the municipality. The principles upon which this opposition is based are mainly two: that popularly-elected representatives are not likely to have the qualifications, or the sense of responsibility, required for dealing with the multitudinous enterprises, and the large sums of public money involved in civic administration; and that the "health of the state" depends upon the exertions of individuals for their personal benefit (who, "like cells", are the containers of the life of the body).