Overcoming Individualism

Hi. I’m Alex, and I’m a recovering individualist.

This isn’t tantamount to “becoming a radical collectivist”–I feel like I have to say this for the either/or crowd. Anyway, the point is that it’s difficult to get a herd of individualists to get things done.

Yes, I oppose oppressive state control. Yes, I believe everyone should be free to work towards achieving their goals. But what I’ve had to overcome is self-reliance at the expense of taking a stand or associating with anyone or anything, ever.

It’s romantic to be the “Lone man who knows the TRUTH defying the masses!” But the chances of that guy getting anything practical done himself are slim to none, and his chances of getting squashed by the collectivist state he decries are high.

This is why history has so few successful rebellions of one. Even Jesus had friends.

Brian Niemeier sums it up nicely:

It’s been said before, and it bears saying again: Conservatives’ main weakness is their critical lack of solidarity. It comes from the nasty individualist streak in their capitalist and Liberal influences.

You see how this also relates to organized religion and the knee-jerk reaction many have to it. “Don’t tell me what to do!” can quickly become “I already have all the answers and don’t need help, and. . .”–here’s the damning part–“. . . I won’t risk my neck for anyone else.”

It’s like centrism, really, the pose of being “above it all“: “Don’t associate me with THOSE people, even though I secretly agree with them.”

In order to make any kind of impact, it really takes teamwork. Again, for the binary thinkers, this isn’t the same as saying “Become a communist!” It’s saying don’t be hostile to teams or communities of the like-minded.

As with the absence of great moderates in history, you’ll find few successful individuals who weren’t able to mobilize a serious following through techniques that hardcore individualists claim to hate.

I’m talking rhetoric, imagery, focusing on shared identities and characteristics–in short, the things that make us similar as opposed to the things that make us different.

If “Our differences are what make us stronger,” than Yugoslavia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire would still be things, there never would’ve been trouble between England and Ireland, and racial harmony would have been prevalent in the United States since it’s inception.

Let’s tie this back to organized religion for a second. How presumptuous to believe one knows everything, as though the work of church Fathers never existed. We don’t do the same with science, so we? Or with the arts?

Actually, we do with the arts, which is a problem. But I digress.Individualism also factors into that other thing we all seem to shy away from talking about: politics.

Of course the rights of the individual matter. But to deny the existence of any kind of “common good” is ridiculous and a step towards complete atomization.

Absolute Individualism–no government, free whatever, no jobs, no money, legalized everything–would work if human beings were perfect, could self-regulate with 100% success, and nobody had any ill-intentions and would always play along. But we’re not and we can’t.

We don’t need to go total hive-mind, but in a world where we’re encouraged to be our worst selves, a little peer-shame would go a long way.

I leave you, the rugged individualist with no affiliations, with this, written by one of the most individualistic Americans in history for a whole gathering of individualists:

We Mutually Pledge To Each Other Our Lives, Our Fortunes And Our Sacred Honor

If our Founders could work together to stand for something, why can’t you?

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