Tag Archives: individualism

The War Against Will, by Paul Rosenberg

The shameful, guilty secret of so many is that they don’t have a ounce of individualism, they’re creatures of the crowd. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

The modern world will allow you to join any of a thousand collectives, but it will punish you for standing on your own, as a self-willed entity. People who commit this crime understand that they are outlaws in the present world. And if at first they don’t understand that, the world makes sure they know.

The world as it is, then, is the enemy of will. This is nothing new, of course, governments have been at war against will since they began: How else can you get people to blindly obey you, to hand over half their income, and to thank you for it? People who possess a full and active will must be convinced to do things, and governments couldn’t function if they had to do that.

The present world is built around the restraint of will, and not just on the government level. Advertising, for example, is more or less devoted to implanting subconscious desires and subverting the will with them. In dysfunctional families, manipulating one another – whether by guilt, ridicule, being left out of Papa’s will or whatever – is the currency of the realm.

And so obedience, consumption and acquiescence have become cardinal virtues, and the avoidance of immediate pain the prime directive. As we might paraphrase an old apostle, this world’s God is the belly.

Continue reading→

The Individual Against the Odds, by Kym Robinson

The best stories are the ones where a determined individual or group of individuals takes on the system. From Kym Robinson at libertarianinstitute.org:

There is a genre in fiction that celebrates an individual’s adversity against seemingly impossible odds. Whether this is a person who takes the war to organised crime (Mack Bolan), a secret agent saving the world for their government (James Bond), a wronged loner lost and bullied by the law and the society that rejects them (John Rambo), one who wants something so bad that they will defy social conventions (Velvet Brown), or even a rogue that hides behind a mask and inspires a revolution against tyranny (V), they are in some way inspiring. They are better than most not just because of courage, but also often principle. They are the outsider, the curmudgeon, and blowhard, or worse.

In the coming eclipse of cancel culture and layered censorship, certain allegories and metaphorical fiction will become a dangerous device for story tellers to use. It is no longer a method of sedition to lift a mirror up to a wider culture or society, to reveal an imagery that the victims or an outsider may see. The marketplace of varied opinions and diverse perspectives that is supposedly a hallmark of the abstract known as western civilization is becoming less welcome to such variations. Instead, through technology and a paternalistic tendency society is becoming a dystopia tinkering between the prose of Huxley and Orwell, but especially that found in the film ‘Demolition Man.’ It is a creation of the timid, those who shy away from difference while claiming to champion it.

Social media, like most innovations, was a promise to open our worlds and to connect and share so many different ideas and experiences. Instead it becomes a series of cultivated echo chambers that snuff out certain viewpoints and celebrate others, always confirming a particular bias. It is with an unofficial handshake that the public, made of shrill and easily offended individuals, unite with corporations and states to mash out a new moral order that mutates in instances of outrage and crisis. It clings to central planning and yet it is not necessarily centrally planned. It is a negative instinct to constrict and subvert any desires and needs for liberty. It is the widespread transformation of language to duplicate words into meanings that could only be conjured up inside the laboratories of intellect inefficiency. It is born from a need to be safe and correct, but it is a dangerous approach to any issue or problem.

Continue reading→

The Preservation of Sanity And Civilization, by Paul Rosenberg

Humanity attains its best as individuals, not in groups. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

I hadn’t planned on this post, but the ongoing mania compels me to contribute something toward the preservation of sanity and civilization. And so, here are some things to remember:

Humans are idolaters. Or at least most are when pressured. What we’re seeing now is an expression of idolatry and dogma. And bear in mind that the proudly anti-religious are often the most idolatrous and dogmatic.

Whenever people are getting whipped up for a cause – any cause – that’s the right time to step away. And if they start chanting, move away quickly. I’ll forgo the long explanation, but joining the pack slays reason, and for as long as you remain in the pack.

And this really is idolatry, because whatever we place above reason… whatever we place above open questioning… has become our god.

The crowd is always a deceiver. No one expressed this more concisely than Simone Weil, when she said, “conscience is deceived by the social.” Conscience is individual, social is collective, and the two are at odds. Likewise, sanity is individual and mania is collective.

Within the crowd, malice appears as duty, honor, order and justice. To reside in the crowd is to be deceived; the only question is how much.

Continue reading

School vs. the Gateless Gate: Fixing the Damage, by L. Reichard White

What if you only did what you wanted to, when you wanted to? From L. Reichard White at lewrockwell.com:

There are indeed, many paths through the gateless gate. This one is fairly easy — and when we arrive at the fence-line, there’s a little trick that will get you through. For me, it involved dishes – – –

We’re at the first Way-Stone already – – –

“‘You know what Indian time means?’ [an Ojibwe tribal leader] had responded in a session with local college students. ‘It means, ‘When I’m damn good and ready.’ The old man was operating on Indian time. I was still operating on a clock and a paycheck.” –Kent Nerburn, Neither Wolf nor Dog

The contrast between “Indian time” and author Nerburn’s succinct “clock and a paycheck” marks our path. But “Indian time” isn’t unique to “First Nation” folks in North America – – –

For our sortie into the only legal casino in Malaysia at the time, Ghenting Highlands, our group had rented a high-end condo. The price included cleaning.

About 6:45AM Saturday — approximately two hours after we hit the sack — the cleaning crew — two guys and three girls — rang the bell.

They were from a local family which lived mostly on wild coconuts, mangos, papaya, durian, etc. — and by hunting a few animals I won’t mention. Almostclassic hunter-gatherers — as were we in a sense, but I hadn’t recognized that yet.

Continue reading

“Thinkin’ Rots the Mind!” by Butler Shaffer

The money sentence, from the first paragraph: “Civilizations are created by individuals; they are destroyed by collectives.” From Butler Shaffer at lewrockwell.com:

This rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however
important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually
losing the faculties of thinking, feeling and acting for
themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of
humanity.

– Alexis de Tocqueville

It is not a coincidence that the collapse of Western Civilization is being accompanied by a rampant mindlessness and reptilian reaction to events so contrary to the means by which this culture was created. Civilizations are created by individuals; they are destroyed by collectives. Creative acts do not simply happen, but require energized minds capable of focusing on subject matters often over extended periods of time. The beautiful ancient cathedrals found in Europe – as with the continuing construction of Antoni Gaudi’s Basilica i Temple de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, begun in 1882 – are examples of creative undertakings whose completions extend far beyond the lives of both the designers and the workers who participated in bringing them into existence. For creative minds, time preferences matter: the pursuit of a truth may extend not only over one’s life-time, but beyond. Such is the state of mind of those scientists who accept, as part of the learning process, that a theory might, after lengthy research, be disproven.

Whether Western Civilization can be considered extinct, in a terminal state, or simply on a downhill course, is subject to differing interpretations. Suffice it to say that our culture is beset by rigor mortis, including its organizational systems; its creative vibrancy is gone; it no longer produces the values necessary for its survival; nor does it continue to meet the expectations of those who have embraced its qualities or purposes in benefitting human beings. Clarity in thought or vision that drives men and women to discover or create ways in which human well-being can be advanced, is being sacrificed to political or ideological ends. The Animal Farm mantra “four legs good, two legs bad,” has been transformed into divisive slogans such as “black lives matter,” and an insistence upon a multitude of subdivided gender identities.

Continue reading

A 4th of July Remembrance: Independence Arises from Self-Reliance, by Charles Hugh Smith

Rugged individualism, the making of one’s own way, psychological self-sufficiency, used to be the bedrock of the American character. Now the whole concept of individualism has been perverted into a demand for others’ attention and support. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Individualism, it seems, means not the making of one’s own way but the demanding of sacrifices by others to maintain one’s own lifestyle.
What is visible on July 4th is the overwhelming consumerism of an American holiday: the over-hyped sales campaigns, the over-indulgences of the table, and the obligatory displays of fireworks. But beneath this celebratory surface run questions about American identity and the state of grace of the American soul.
There is a darkness in that soul, the poisonous darkness of greed, complacency and hubris. Individualism, it seems, means not the making of one’s own way but the demanding of sacrifices by others to maintain one’s own lifestyle: the sacrifices laid on the next generations to pay our lavish medical and retirement benefits, and the sacrificing of the planet to supply us with cheap energy, particle-board furniture and all the other gimcracks which are piled up in countless garages and storage facilities across the overstuffed suburbs of America.
There is another American soul, a largely forgotten one; that of Emerson, Thoreau and Muir. Emerson’s essay Self-Reliance speaks to a radical individualism: “Insist on yourself; never imitate.”
His vision has been reduced to a callow “do your own thing,” but his individualism is not the type trumpeted by consumerism, of dependence on the state and all the ills of self-absorption. It is both spiritual (Emerson was a Harvard-trained minister, after all) and a state of being.
“Man is not a farmer, a professor or an engineer, but he is all.” To be fluid, capable of metamorphosis, and true to oneself was not an abstract ideal to study in a classroom but a way of living: “We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.”

United We Fall, by Paul Rosenberg

As Ayn Rand said in The Fountainhead: “Divide and conquer, unite and rule.” From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

Like you, I’ve heard “united we stand, divided we fall” hundreds of times, probably thousands. If fact, we’ve heard it so many times that by now it triggers emotions in us: All together we can’t be stopped! And so on.

Except that it’s mainly a trap. Unity is the downward path – the road to decline.

In fact, being united has value in very few areas of life. If you want a mass of bodies to charge another mass of bodies on the other side of a battlefield – then unity matters. But when you want honesty, intelligence, compassion, innovation, and evolution, unity is your enemy.

Unity works for body-power, but it works against all the higher and better aspects of our nature. And to be blunt, that’s why the sacrifice collectors of mankind love unity – they want obedient bodies, not self-determinant minds.

Spiritual Unity?

The really pernicious thing about unity is that it’s sold as some kind of spiritual ideal: We each sacrifice our ourselves, then we somehow become magical, collective superheroes.

Again, this is false. The high and good – the truly spiritual – forms only in individuals. As I’ll illustrate below, the more united our minds are, the farther they sink to an animal level. The more individual our minds are, the more they rise toward the good and the ultimate.

Unity in the religious sense is a spiritualized dream of a free fix. By embracing unity, people hope to solve their personal deficits by magic. Unification calls the magic down from heaven, and boom! we’re all fixed… no work required… it’s “spiritual,” after all.

The truth is this: Where individuality has had the upper hand, prosperity, growth, and invention have defined the times. Where collective ideals (like melting into one) have had the upper hand, humanity has sunk toward an animal level of existence.

You Want Proof?

Let’s start with this: Every mass tragedy since 1900 has not only featured unity, but has been built with unity as its central component. This becomes utterly obvious with the use of just one word: collectivism.

Collectivism is unity by definition, and it stood at the heart of Mao’s China, Lenin and Stalin’s USSR, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and the various Kims’ North Korea. As a first approximation, these unity traps killed 100 million people.

Then we can add Hitler and Mussolini, who enforced unity; nonconformists were imprisoned or killed. We have more tens of millions dead here.

This fact hasn’t been lost on observers. Here are just two quotes:

[A]n individual immersed for some length of time in a crowd soon finds himself – either in consequence of magnetic influence given out by the crowd or from some other cause of which we are ignorant – in a special state, which much resembles the state of fascination in which the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotizer.
– Gustave Le Bon

Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form a headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.
– Charles Chaplin

And yes, our abusers know this too. Here’s a quote from Edward Bernays, who made a living teaching people to manipulate the masses:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

To continue reading: United We Fall

He Said That? 4/6/16

From Friedrich Hayek CH (1899-1992), frequently referred to as F. A. Hayek, an Austrian and British economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism. Hayek shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Gunnar Myrdal. From his classic The Road to Serfdom:

It is true that the virtues which are less esteemed and practiced now–independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one’s own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one’s neighbors–are essentially those on which an individualist society rests. Collectivism has nothing to put in their place, and in so far as it already has destroyed then it has left a void filled by nothing but the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to what is collectively decided to be good.

She Said That? 11/22/14

From remarks by Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the Independent Women’s Forum’s Women of Valor Dinner, 11/19/14:

I come from a culture and background, and I spent my youth, in an environment where everything and absolutely everything reminded me of being a woman, being female, and being inferior.

And I didn’t realize until I came to the west that we actually are first and foremost not collectives. We are individuals. We are individual girls with our different characters, with our likes and dislikes. And before you assume the collective, assume the individual. That is the greatest thing about the idea of America.

The Wall Street Journal, “Notable & Quotable,” 11/22/14

“And before you assume the collective, assume the individual. That is the greatest thing about the idea of America.” Why is that foreign observers and immigrants (e.g. Alexis de Tocqueville, Ayn Rand) grasp the essence of America so much more readily than many of our own home-grown, so-called intellectuals?