This at least is how I look at things. The only person who can perceive and act on values is a person. Thus society has no consciousness and holism errs when it feels it can somehow improve our prospects by inferring a societal identity that has a sort of consciousness.
What might be mistaken for society’s consciousness is the product of the action of individuals as social beings. When folk lined up conspicuously to assert their right to vote when states were dickering with them, this was not society having consciousness. It was the product of a varied cluster of individuals united in a dramatic display of allegiance to the value democracy. When I participated in movements that took me to Oxford, Mississippi and other locales, the impact that was being made was that of persons acting on ontological values. When someone is lashed in Saudi Arabia, he might wish that all his society would grow up, but it is the one and one and fifty make a million that changes history and it is ontology that drives conscience.
I take democracy and tolerance and helpfulness to be pristinely ontological, that is to say, part of the fabric of universal being that can be said to have a reality that we aptly see as both true and beautiful.
Triadic Philosophy believes there is progress over time and that is entirely the product of individual consciousness and the spread of the ontological values that operate as the active elements of good in the world.
Tonnies was correct. Society in itself does not have the prospects of an individual. These prospects result in the creation of communities. These ideas are in a state of confusion now because community is itself vulnerable to devolution owing to elements that are fundamentally social.
The simplest thing to suggest is that the conservative effort to possess individualism as its special property is erroneous. The ontology of reality understands the individual as the ruler of all, the one who knows good and evil, and reality is progressive. The idea that society has consciousness puts me in mind of an effort to cede this point and arrive at some notion of society as a savior.