This week, I discuss why I’m still an individualist despite the difficulties of individualism, the failures of society, and my exposure to other ideologies.
Table of Contents
- What is Individualism?
- The Opposition to Individualism
- Why I Will Always Remain An Individualist
- Individualism Is Not Perfect
What is Individualism?
Individualism ensures individuals can achieve their best selves. Firstly, it provides logical, moral, and emotional arguments and justifications for pursuing long-term, sustainable goals over short-term, fading ones.
Secondly, individualism outlines how strengthening individuals leads to a flourishing society. We cannot have a beautiful forest with dead trees. Thus, a stable, healthy society must cultivate stable, healthy individuals instead of “collective” happiness.
The Opposition to Individualism
“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. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.” – Ayn Rand
Very few, if any, collectivist ideologies actively seek to elevate man. And if these ideologies do, the goal is to make a more robust slave to the ruling classes.
No one can and has justified why healthy living, thrift, sustainability, and emotional maturity are net evils. Yet, statists will argue saving is terrible, racists will argue peaceful exchange of goods between groups is detrimental, and the mentally ill will argue healthy living is hateful towards the unhealthy. Why do people discuss these things? Because individualism, with its focus on virtue, sustainability, and morality, makes you less dependent. The less dependent you are on something, the more objective you can view that thing.
And the thing people don’t want you viewing objectively is collectivism, an ideology that has produced more bodies than solutions.
Because individualism helps individuals, it is often maligned and misunderstood. Primarily, people dislike it for obvious reasons: self-reliance gives individuals responsible and power over themselves. The power-hungry elites hate losing their sheep, and the mob hates being responsible. Thus, they will always oppose personal responsibility, no matter the costs.
Why I Will Always Remain An Individualist
Individualism elevates people. Responsibility, rational pride, and freedom are the tools needed to ensure everyone has a sense of personal value. When people value themselves, they won’t waste their lives on fatty foods, evil leaders, and petty distractions. They’ll remain focused, determined, and capable.
Here are the two reasons I’m still an individualist despite the difficulty:
1) Individualism provides the best foundation for future struggles
I think civilization will do what it has always done: run out of money, ignore the most vulnerable, and pat itself on the back as everything crumbles. Society falls apart because of short-sighted greed brought about by the insane notion we are owed what we have not earned. Such an attitude is always present in racists, nationalists, socialists, and other collectivists.
Individualism helps provide moral, intellectual, rational, and emotional reasons for pursuing sustainability, virtue, and personal greatness. And when you seek the best version of yourself, you create the foundation necessary for becoming strong. The stronger you are, the better you can deal with troubles and trials caused by collectivists‘ greed.
If you are emotionally stable, then stressful moments won’t undermine you. If you are financially stable, then government shutdowns won’t disrupt your life. And so on. The more responsible you are, the better you can endure life’s random challenges and the petty edicts of the ruling classes.
2) Individualism benefits the one for the benefit of all
“An individualist is a man who says: ‘I will not run anyone’s life—nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone—nor sacrifice anyone to myself’.” – Ayn Rand
Individuals make up society. When individuals are weak, distracted, and broken, then civilization is as well. Dysfunction within the individual means dysfunction within the group. You cannot have a healthy forest with dead trees.
Individualism focuses on personal improvement. Why personal? Because all individuals are different and what makes me happy will not make you happy. I want to be a writer, while you might want to be a farmer. The collectivist’s focus on the “greater good” means they don’t care about your personal achievements or happiness. They argue you shouldn’t pursue your dream of being a farmer. Instead, you should pursue the socialist career of dying in a gulag.
Furthermore, individualism’s focus on sustainability ensures we avoid hedonism and excessive egoism. Additionally, the focus on virtue pushes an individual away from what is weakest within him towards what is their most good. Everyone benefits in both scenarios. However, collectivists ideologies have never emphasized virtue or sustainability. They externalize responsibility. Thus, the individual cannot achieve the happiness he refuses to define and won’t work to fulfill. His life is empty and bitter and he expresses that bitterness through abuse and destruction.
The stronger individuals are, the stronger society is. Our civilization cannot survive with drugged-out, stressed, and depressed people obsessed with the “collective good.” Only when people are strong does our society remain strong and the people within can live safe and meaningful lives.
Individualism Is not Perfect
As I’ve written before, individualism does not solve all your problems. Self-help and “bootstraps” can only get you so far. Despite years of writing and practicing the virtues, I still have depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. I have not conquered my additions by simply yelling “fortitude” until they cowered in fear.
I need a virtuous community to reduce loneliness and regulate my vices. I need humility to prevent drowning others in my ego. I need other schools of thought to understand where thinking may be lacking.
However, I am no child. I know adopting a religion and bathing myself in faith will not ease my fears of death. Building a financial future for my children, taking care of my health, and accomplishing my goals eases my worries. I know that amplifying my racial identity will not lessen my anxieties about personal inadequacies. Only hard, meaningful work can ease internal doubts.
Therefore, I remain an individualist. Despite what I have experienced and the arguments I have heard, nothing can topple the fundamental reality that I own myself and am responsible for living a life of purpose and happiness.
“A great deal may be learned about society by studying man; but this process cannot be reversed: nothing can be learned about man by studying society—by studying the inter-relationships of entities one has never identified or defined.” – Ayn Rand
- Do you consider yourself an individualist? Why or why not?
- What’s your favorite collectivist talking point or hot take? For example, I love seeing rich politicians talk about “tax the rich” and everyone cheers. Why do these hot takes amuse you?
- Do you consider yourself a collectivist? Why or why not? Do you believe in voluntary collectives? Or arbitrary collectives?
- Do you believe you are strong enough to withstand future struggles? Why or why not? What can you do to better prepare?
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.