If I asked you what was the most important aspect taken away from the entire process of the establishment of the United States of America, how would you answer? Hopefully, you would say liberty. More importantly, individual liberty. Liberty means freedom. Freedom to live your life unbound by the constraints of others. Freedom is a virtue and the two are inseparable. However, liberty and individualism are mutually exclusive. You can have one without the other. I fear that has become commonplace in today’s society.

America is still considered a free country. You can move about virtually as you wish, speak your mind and many other aspects associated with freedom. Accordingly, when one makes the claim that our liberty is being stripped away, it can fall upon deaf ears. A gradual erosion of liberty is not easy to detect. Taken away in small bites can make it more palatable to the average American and that has been occurring since the Declaration of Independence was written. Yes, even the Constitution was a compromise document that played into this process of eroding away our liberty.

It has been puzzling as of late to understand why so many are so willing to forego liberty in exchange for the implied security of the state. Why would so many voluntarily surrender liberty seemingly aware of the implications in doing so? For example, they may feel it is a fair trade in exchange for safety as in the case of the TSA. A nanny state requires the perception that only an entity as large as the federal government can provide a social safety net. To many, that is not only acceptable, but desirable. Perhaps they have a poor work ethic or feel oppressed due to race or religion. Perhaps economic conditions have instilled a sense of despair. The dependency nation has come to thrive and prosper for one main reason that I can see. Individualism is dying.

Again, the perception is that we are a free country. Under the auspices of a government that can provide for those who seek it, they view dependency as a right, not as a sacrifice of individual liberty. I stated earlier that I view liberty and individualism as mutually exclusive. People just aren’t seeing the path to collectivism. They believe liberty and freedom can still exist with an ever more powerful state regulating equality.

It is this loss of the value of individualism that is most troubling. The equality of men has been established by our Constitution.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[74] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

Can’t be any clearer. If you fail to exercise liberty, it will likely be taken away. If you don’t value it, it surely will. If you don’t see yourself as every bit the equal of your brethren, how can you expect others to? Of course, this doesn’t mean oppression and coercion don’t exist. We all know they do. It’s vitally important to see yourself as unique in this world, yet no more or no less than any other.

The distinction between equal and unique is critical. To see ourselves as merely equals means you accept the premise of collectivism. Collectivism places the value of the group over the value of the one. To be autonomous, the individual must see self-governance and free will as primary. In short, you must be both at the same time. An equal person created with unalienable rights who is also a unique individual capable of critical thinking and sovereign authority over their own actions.

It’s when we don’t place a value on our own individuality that we succumb to the sheeple mentality. How does this translate into why Americans are so readily sacrificing liberty for dependency? They have fallen for the sales pitch for equality only. Fairness is now paramount. Guaranteed outcomes rather than opportunity. Whether it be race, religion, culture or societal class, the goal is equality for all. That makes socialism and eventually Marxism a noble goal.

The guarantee of equality was provided to us in the Constitution. There is no guarantee of individuality. You must recognize it and value it. When you see its importance, you’ll then readily question any attempts at stripping away liberty, even just a little at a time. You’ll see how equality alone doesn’t make you free. Ask the inmates on death row. They’re all treated quite equally. Today’s protesters such as the OWS are driven by this very mantra. Even though the organizers behind the scenes have different goals than the participants who join in for a multitude of reasons. They are willing to exchange opportunity for guaranteed outcome.

The equality for all belief supposes that the standard of living for all will be raised up. Any study of collectivism shows that not to be true. Equality may reign supreme, but it will be at an ever decreasing level. This will be our narrative going forward if Americans don’t appreciate their individuality as much their equality.

I’ve sat and pondered just how do you communicate this to an ignorant person? How to express that it’s OK to value yourself higher than others without elevating your worth above the same people at the same time. For example, what would you say to an OWS protester that is calling for government to forcibly redistribute corporate profits whether it be through taxation or regulation? You could take an economic tact and explain how any increase in taxation is merely passed on to the consumer, so the corporation escapes penalty. This is also regressive so that the lower-income earners are penalized more substantially. However, to a jaded protester, I doubt that this would ease their concerns.

Perhaps you could explain how empowering the very government that implemented the policies of tax loopholes, deductions, exemptions and other tax shelters that allows these corporations to achieve such a low tax burden and the corresponding high profits viewed as greed is counterproductive. Giving more power to the enablers? Seems non-sensical. However, it’s likely that the average protester sees the federal government as the only entity capable of enacting punishment on corporate America.

“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 co-existence 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

Ayn Rand recognized that individual rights were an absolute necessity for a successful civil society. But I don’t know that even she could answer my question above. We’re dealing with essentially irrational people who have no clear goals or ambitions other than the concept of fairness achieving equality. This goes well beyond the OWS movement. I believe my premise to hold true. Too many people have lost the value of their individuality and therefore can’t conceptualize how their pursuit of equality (that they already have) comes at the expense of their liberty. This isn’t a party line issue. It’s also not focused on how to reach the infamous ‘center’ voting block. It’s about the individual vs. the state as they are the true enemy of liberty.

I would more than welcome your comments and ideas on how you would answer my scenario above.

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10 thoughts on “Individuality gone AWOL

  1. Great post! I agree with you that individualism is massively important, but at the same time we need to accept that we are all one – society. We all interact with one another and thus we affect one another to some greater or lesser degree. I think the problem lies within ourselves. Due to whatever reason society, I believe, is definitely steered in certain direction – whether they are to the extremes as some conspiracy theorists claim, is up for debate. But I do believe it would be incredibly ignorant to assume that we are “free”. I am not American, but I do see the extent that America affects the rest of the world. Hollywood. Nearly everyone on earth knows American movies. Regardless whether it is fiction or not, Hollywood has subliminally spread trends. Americanisation is global. Media pushes ideas and trends and the sheeple eat it up. We are the ones responsible for our own individual liberties taken away.
    All you have to do is look at how society is. Very few of us care anymore. Nobody wants to be good. We have no patience for others. How can we create a society if we cannot interact with each other in a civil way. I see a society where if you are sad, you take a pill for it. Medication? People need to understand every aspect of themselves, yet we are side tracked. We are a voyeur society interested in everyone else’s lives except our own. I truely believe the key to a stronger society and civilisation is dependent on the individual. We cannot go on forever blaming world problems on leaders and those that have the power. Fuck it. We have the power, we have just been kept stupid to realise it. We need to really live the life we want to an envision; there is no room for hypocrites. But alas, there are 7 billion of us now. All on unequal foot holds of what we perceive reality to be. We have been lead to believe we know what happiness and freedom is. We have been spoonfed, and it is up to us to wake up!

    Great post and thanks for the share 🙂 Have a read on my blog, Critical mass – http://observingvessel.wordpress.com/critical-mass/

  2. How to communicate your point about individualism to an ignorant person? That’s a tough one. I wouldn’t necessarily call them an ignorant person, but rather, someone who hasn’t learned the truth yet. I can point you to several people I know who are as conservative as they come. Strongly so, in fact. However, they fail to understand that it’s okay for some individuals to do better than others. They fail to understand that having equal opportunity doesn’t necessarily mean the outcomes will all be equal. They apply that reasoning to businesses as well as individuals and the concept that it isn’t necessarily true is hard for them to grasp. I think it may be because they fail to have a basic understanding of how the concept of individual liberty applies to our society. I wish I had a good answer to your question, but I do not.

  3. Thanks for visiting. Your comments help reinforce Ayn Rand’s contention that we all must be individuals first in order to co-exist peacefully and to prosper.

  4. I certainly hope it’s merely ignorance, which isn’t derogatory. If I’m totally off-base here and people already conceive the differences between the two, then that means they are actively rejecting their role as an individual and its importance. It’s the only positive explanation I have for the sheeple. Positive, meaning ignorance, can be cured, although our education system won’t fill that role. Particularly in the examples you gave, how else can we explain how good people who are strong conservatives and value liberty can still come to conclusions that end up actually stripping liberty away? Even people who put liberty above oppression must see why they have to include self-importance as an equal. A collection of individuals is vastly different than a collection of like-minded people. Thanks Larry.

  5. I guess, if I could have a civil conversation with someone from the OWS crowd , I would want to know where they come by the idea that we are all equal. It is empirically obvious that we are not equal and it is a scientific fact that we are not equal. I can only assume, therefore, it is a philosophical opinion to which they have been programed to believe. The idea of man’s natural or God given rights is very old. It dates back at least to Locke and probably much further. The only right that man naturally has is his life and nothing is more individual than that. Any other natural rights we have stem from the right of life. Individuals formed societies from the earliest times for their mutual benefit; but, societies needed rules and someone to enforce the rules and as a result mankind abandoned his individual rights in much the way that animals do – the law of the jungle _ or as Darwin said: survival of the fittest _ in other words, the biggest and meanest SOB in the group made the rules. Still today most of humanity lives under the thumb of a totalitarian or oligarchy whether “democratically” elected or not. The polar opposite of a totalitarian government is the constitutional republic; e.g., America. The only way for a republic to survive is for the people as individuals to keep a tight reign of those they choose to govern them.
    Along comes the concepts of socialism. The true socialist doesn’t like individualism precisely because individuals are not equal. They see that life is not fair; but, they think that enlightened men can devise a way to live together which is much more fair and beneficial to all. They are wrong, of course, and have proven themselves wrong many times but they continue to believe they will get right the next time. The ant-establishment protesters of the sixties eventually took over our education system and the media including Hollywood. They have been programing America ever since. The OWS anti-establishment protesters are essentially the grandchildren of the anti-establishment protesters of the sixties and have been thoroughly programed to believe all of the socialist inputs they have received their whole life.
    So, my friend, you are right. Individualism is and has been on the wane in America for decades. We who still believe in individualism are many but we are on the brink of becoming a minority. Assuming we win control of our government in 2012, we must do away with our present education system and we must encourage like minded people to enter journalism and begin the process of reprogramming our people in individualism.

  6. I can only assume that they see equality at conception, both in the eyes of the Creator and in the Constitution, as a birthright that will carry on throughout life. Any variance along the way is not ‘fair’. I like your solutions.

  7. You bring up a crucial observation. The reason we’ve lost so much liberty, as a culture, is simply because we don’t want it anymore.

    I blame the education system first, but of course so many things have come into play. But as we get more and more ignorant as a society, we get more and more docile. Children, needing to be told what to do, how to live. We’ve got healthy young adults demanding that a job be handed to each of them.

    CoF, by the way. I’ve had the opportunity to have a civilized conversation with one OWS participater. She’s a young relative of mine, and she’s not at one of the major protest cities, so she hasn’t seen the worst of it.

    As civilized as we are, nothing I say seems to help. She just passes over what she can’t respond to. Her own messages (this has been thru FB) contain such glaring inconsistencies in reasoning, that it just makes me sad.

    All we can do is pray for them, and keep setting the record straight in our neighborhoods and our little corners of the blogosphere.

    best to all
    Linda

  8. As I continue to hear stories like yours, it looks all the more bleak. Unfortunately, we’re just preaching to the choir for the most part. Our side had better come up with some new ideas that will take effect much sooner rather than later. Thanks for checking in.

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