In this five-part series, I want to detail why people oppose individualism. Furthermore, I want to offer words of wisdom to help individuals remain inspired in an anti-individual world.
What Is Individualism?
“If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything.” – Claude Mckay
Individualism is a social theory that values the individual above the needs, wants, and desires of the collective and the state. Politically, it is expressed in libertarianism, minarchism, and anarcho-capitalism. Economically, it is expressed through capitalism.
As a personal philosophy, individualism is about self-improvement through the rigorous pursuit of virtue. The uncompromising pursuit of virtue helps individuals improve their lives by overcoming their vices, doing good, and accomplishing their goals.
There is no way to create a stable society with broken individuals. If we are to succeed as a country, we have to maximize our focus on strengthening individuals. Furthermore, any top-down approach to improving individuals only leads to failure, societal decay, and death.
Why Do People Oppose Individualism?
Despite the moral, logical, and economic consistency of individualism, people oppose it. Why? Because individualism is a social theory that gives power to individuals instead of the government, elites, the masses, churches, corporations, and other institutions. Individualism disperses power and allows you and me to live life on our terms. Such a reality will never please the power-hungry.
Additionally, individualism is a philosophy of virtue and action. Unfortunately, most people hate acting virtuously. The average person is not capable of creating a life goal or performing courageously in the face of danger. Neither are they interested in defining their life nor improving their behaviors. The average person wants a comfortable existence. A comfortable life is not compatible with individualism.
Lastly, weak individuals oppose individualism because of merit, competition, and choice. These three elements allow individuals to improve their lives outside of the approval, needs, or wants of any collective. Therefore, all collectivists have to oppose individualism on these three grounds, even if such opposition is irrational, counter-productive, and sometimes deadly.
What Happens When We Remove Merit?
“Individualism regards man-every man-as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being.” – Ayn Rand
Merit is the quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially to deserve praise or reward. Without merit, we are stuck with arbitrary means of judging an individual’s character, value, and worth. If I cannot judge you based on your actions, beliefs, and virtues, I can only evaluate you based on your unchosen identities, such as your race, gender, sexuality, country of origin, and so on.
Furthermore, without meritocracy, we cannot adequately reward good behavior. We are stuck with rewarding people based on what they look like, not what they do.
Without merit, we will fail to develop productive, meaningful ways of evaluating character. Therefore, society subsidizes luck over skill. The rise in identity politics shows the conclusion to such a system.
Either society values what people chose and fight for; or, we spend our days in a fog, celebrating what is arbitrary and meaningless.
What Happens When We Remove Competition?
Competition is a contest or rivalry between two or more entities for a valued resource. Struggling rewards hard work, forward-thinking, and virtue. Without competition, society is stuck in a dog-eat-dog world of political favoritism and collective whining.
If you want to see what happens when competition does not exist, then look at the government. Do you feel the government responds to your needs, treats its citizens fairly, and has a long-term plan to complex solutions? Or, do I need to remind you of its low approval rating, constant corruption, and consistent overspending? Such corruption rises from having no competitors and no one to answer to.
However, business owners, married couples, friends, and other voluntary relationships have to answer to others. Why? Because the business owner can lose your business if he treats you poorly. You can divorce your partner if they are abusive or inadequate. Or, you can abandon friendships that don’t serve your virtuous ends. You and others have to compete to maintain relationships, and this competition ensures you perform at your best.
Either society values honest competition and rewards winners; or, we spend our days suffering under the rule of special interests, stagnant markets, and growing governmental power.
What Happens When We Remove Choice?
“The first duty of a man is to think for himself” – Jose Marti
Choice is the capacity to utilize your actions, values, and volition to pursue a goal or to make a decision. Without judgment, individuals are forced to accept options they do not like.
The ability to choose requires an intellect. To decide, you have to have a set of values as well as the capacity to think. Only an individual can make rational or irrational choices. A collective cannot make a choice.
Furthermore, without the ability to chose, you will be stuck with options you do not want. This lack of options robs you of personal power and makes you a victim of the ruling classes. A world of collectivism means being unable to choose who to marry, what businesses to engage with, and what substances you can put in your body. If societal and governmental forces stripe your ability to chose, then you will suffer in a life you do not want.
Either society values the individual’s ability to chose what is right and what is wrong; or, we spend our days begging our rulers for choices in what we want to pursue, who we want to love, and what we wish to value.
For Individualism: Collectivists Do Not Want To Fight Or Let You Be Free
If you embrace individualism, you will be free. Becoming a virtuous, hard-working, and capable individual allows you to create the life you want to live. However, even though you are free, you are responsible. You are responsible for who you associate with, what you do, and the failures you will experience. No one will save you, but you will be capable of saving yourself.
Collectivists do not want you to be free, nor do they want to fight for themselves. Remember, collectivism comes in all shapes and sizes: from the racists who judge men for things they can’t control to the relativists who oppose rationality, morality, and objective principles. Always look at how people do not want you to have responsibility for your life no matter how well or how poorly you live it.
Lastly, I urge you to remain confident in your life and your choices. If you are pursuing virtue, helping others, and building a sustainable life, then you do not need to take collectivists seriously. Do pay attention to their political grabs, but their whining about “exploitation” and “selfishness” can be safely ignored. They do not care about your character growth or development. They want power over you.
Rebel against them. Become an individual.
- What do you think about individualism? What has formed your thoughts about this philosophy?
- Do you value yourself? Do you believe you are free? Furthermore, do you think you are personally responsible for yourself? If yes, then what will you do with this responsibility?
- What do you think about collectivism? Furthermore, do you believe society should judge individuals for elements of life outside of our control? If yes, then how to plan on enforcing your beliefs?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.