There is a great number of men, probably a majority, that fear their own individuality. The idea that they have both power and responsibility in equal parts; that the oppressed do not deserve their fate and the Elites have no special gifting from Almighty God; that we shall be held accountable for our choices and not our results.
On one hand, I sympathize. Life today is harsh and men are breaking under the strain. Good is punished and evil reigns supreme. Those who take risks are betrayed while those who empty themselves of self-will find a comfortable life as a puppet. It would be too easy to stop trying, keep our heads down and quietly settle into the little boxes society builds for us.
On the other hand, Christianity does not allow this. God has placed us here to develop good character to include initiative, self-discipline and enduring suffering for righteousness. Mortal virtues of victory, stability and group loyalty are not included; they simply make mortal life bearable, often at the expense of the very reasons we inhabit this reality to begin with.
Feudalism was the pinnacle of civilization for these people who fear to be individuals. Your work was your father’s work. Salvation was obeying the Church. You died in the house you were born in. Being a part of society meant doing all that was commanded of you and enjoying whatever was given to you, and should God descend from Heaven and ask why you lived as you did, you would cheerfully answer it’s not my fault. I decided nothing and therefore cannot be blamed for anything.
To this attitude, Christ responded with the Parable of Talents. It was not a demand for results; it was a demand for trying. Note that the Parable shows no concern for trying and failing; this is because God cares only about the effort. As if the Omnipotent Creator of Life would ever be impressed with our accomplishments anyway.
This post was prompted by “Individuality As A Western Pathology” neociceroniantimes.wordpress.com/2017/12/12/individualism-as-western-pathology/ by way of pukeko.net.nz. A very interesting article and well worth a fisking.
“If your average Westerner was asked to state what best defined the modern world, there is a strong likelihood he or she would give an answer relating to individualism. This is because individualism is one of the defining characteristics of modernism as it has been expressed both in the West and in other eras where similar late stage degeneracies in societies have taken place. The role of the individual has been exalted to an excessive degree in the modern West such that there is basically no sense of community, united purpose, or public spiritedness in our countries any more.”
Right off the start, we see a conflation of individuality with societal collapse, as if free men living on their own terms was something toxic to the proliferation of sanitation and currency.
Question: What is the purpose of civilization? Answer: To be beneficial to its members. A free man participates in society because it’s in his own best interests to do so, from public recognition of private property to a system of justice more advanced than vigilantism.
However, this kind of civilization does not lend itself to a sheltered life absolved of responsibilities, let alone “united purpose”. That one’s just a bit Orwellian.
“The great irony is that classical liberalism’s great collectivist bugaboo – socialism – is not actually as collectivist in spirit as they’d like to think. In fact, libertarianism and socialism are in many ways two sides of the same coin, both being modernistic rejections of traditional society which depend upon several post-Enlightenment epistemes for their intellectual justification.”
Seriously? “My property belongs to me” libertarianism is the same as “politics of envy” socialism? The author explains:
“They reject traditional “grounding features” within society such as religion,”
Is religion supposed to be mandatory, as in “not a choice individuals are allowed to make for themselves”? Sounds like the Roman Catholic Church back when it held an illegal monopoly on Christ’s salvation. Those were bad days.
Wanting a powerful authority to direct one’s life is exactly the fear-fueled attitude I’m talking about.
“the legitimacy of authority, and so forth.”
For Fuck’s Sake! Authority is not inherently legitimate, otherwise crime would not exist.
“In doing so, they atomise society, breaking down social bonds and turning communities into soulless, mindless aggregations of atomic individuals with no loyalties or obligations to each other beyond the rather ridiculous “non-aggression principle.” Both libertarianism and socialism are anti-social in the true sense of the term – BOTH break down these social bonds.”
The author is a fine one to complain about loyalties and obligations, talking about how society should force individuals to participate on society’s terms. Wouldn’t a free man voluntarily choose to participate if it was truly in his best interests to do so? I can answer for the libertarians, that freedom from loyalties/obligations is the start but not the end of social activity. What does he mean by social bonds, anyway? Let’s skip ahead.
Beginning with the Greeks, we should observe that in archaic and classical Greece – the eras in which “the West” as a distinct continuity really began to diverge from the broader Mediterranean-Near Eastern cultural koine – individualism was not well-respected. The unit of social organisation was the polis, often translated as “city-state,” but encompassing a far wider meaning than mere political independence. The polis was the centre of Greek life regardless of whatever political form its government might take. Whether they were monarchic, tyrannic, oligarchic, or democratic, the poleis were understood to be organic, hierarchic communities to which everybody belonged and in which everybody found their place within the cohesive whole, even if they were slaves or women without “political liberty.”
Ah. Social bonds mean accepting one’s place in society without regard to any atrocities one might be subjected to as a direct result. Yes, I can see how the individualist and libertarian might have issue with that… but why would socialism? Socialists love class and race warfare. Very comparable to “city-states in which everybody finds their place”.
“Indeed, all of the various institutions which socially conservative classical liberals claim to support and find needful – the family, the church, the local community – are “collectivist” in nature. No family can exist where it’s every man for himself. Churches are inherently communitarian and aggregative, by their very nature. The community, village, hamlet, township – these all generally exist on “collectivist” grounds and involve collective efforts by most, if not all, members of the community. These things are what many classical liberals will claim to believe are necessary for our Western way of life – and they are right about that, though they don’t hold to this in practice.”
These are the words of a slave. A man who is so afraid to set his own life’s path that he believes that those who do are incapable of caring for their own children, automatically hostile to God & Church and an enemy of the State. This is downright insulting.
Free men have always been hated by both kings and pawns. The former hate & fear those they cannot command while the latter hate & fear those who escape the plantation. “Society” in this context is the pawns who accept enslavement to the local kings and together, they ostracize, persecute, enslave and/or outright murder the freeman.
This behavior was first documented in Exodus 20:18-21 when the first Israelites in the Old Testament demanded that Moses deal with God on their behalf because they were afraid of God (and also hated God, as their future behavior demonstrated). The usage of middlemen was kept up throughout the Old Testament with professional clergy, hereditary kings, God-appointed prophets and judges, assigned places in society by tribe & genealogy, everything this author could possibly have asked for.
It didn’t work. The Old Covenant was epic fail.
Christ set a new pattern, “God With Us”. Direct access. Even when He left, He said at Gethsemane that His spirit would take His place rather than a new crop of middlemen. He does not want us to keep our heads down, intentionally ignorant, following the whims of inevitably corrupt rulers. He wants us to use the wits we have, to live as the people we want to be, to make choices right and wrong that will define us as something more than the chained-will angels in Heaven.
Nothing has changed. The people don’t want to live free with direct access to God, accepting the risks and rewards of living an uncertain life away from Eden. Human nature is always to insulate itself from responsibility and suffering.
God has many servants. He doesn’t have many sons. It is God’s will that you make choices and live by the consequences good & bad. One cannot learn to be like God by farming out his life, his salvation and his very identity to third parties.
Postscript, I have always hated graveyards but didn’t know why for many years. It wasn’t a fear of death. Eventually I realized, it was the reduction of human souls to the BMD. Birth, Marriage, Death. Maybe # of Kids and “Beloved spouse” or something. Nothing else on the tombstone. Hundreds, thousands, millions of people who apparently accomplished nothing more in life than Birth, Marriage, Death.
Screw that. My tombstone will have an interesting story about my life. I shall be remembered for who I am and what I did, not remembered as beloved headcount. Reader, don’t end up a BMD. Become something. Something interesting, stupid, risky, whatever. Don’t let society tell you “This is where you’ll live, that is what you’ll do, I’ll be back in fifty years to give you a pension & gold watch.” That’s just tragic.