Individualism

According to the Oxford English Dictionary online ‘individualism’ can be used in one of two senses.

“1. The habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant,” or, “2. A social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control.” [1].

Individualism is not total and utter self generation of ideas, and needs/ wants. Individualism does not mean that one most reject all customs, ideas, things, and beliefs that they did not create completely by themselves. Some {http://youtu.be/dO9oTQqVtBM} seem to think all individualists are mindless Ayn Rand drones that are conformist, non-unique, that never question authority, are mostly rich privileged (and, thus, by statist reasoning, racist whites), who don’t think original thoughts, and whose political beliefs are invalid because they wear clothing, eat food, and use tools that they didn’t make all by themselves.

First, individualism did not originate with Ayn Rand. It can be traced back at least as far as the 19th century individualist anarchist movement and the likes of Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner. It may be traced as far back as the Greek philosopher, Zeno. It is fully possible to reject most of Ayn Rand’s theories and beliefs while still remain an individualist.

Second, individualism is not an ideology of total non-conformity. It is an ideology of personal choice whether or ot an individual individualist conforms with the culture, religion, norms, or standard they were brought up in has nothing to do with the functionality of the individualist ideology.

Third, most individualist actually do question authority. Many individualist are anarchist that believe in questioning the authority of the state. Again, if a certain individualist does or does not question what their parents, teacher, etc. told them that does not serve as a critique of individualism as a whole.

Fourth, individualist does not automatically mean rich and privileged. It does not follow. Individualism is an ideology, just as fascism, democratic-republicanism, and progressivism are ideologies. Believe in a particular ideology has very little to do with socioeconomic status. Even if it is the only indicator of ideology is wealth (which it is not!) it was the “solid proponents of status, the upholders of special privilege, the mercantilists of the nineteenth century” that first opposed individualism [2].

Fifth, the fact that individualist base some their beliefs on the scholarship of others does not invalidate the philosophy. Why would it? If a philosophy of the individual before the state and freedom of choice is invalid because individuals use the works of those that came before them the philosophy would never proceed from an embryonic state. This is on par with claim anarchism is invalid because almost all anarchist live in places were the state exists, or that medical theory is invalid because doctors get sick.

Sixth, “no man is an island.” It is a fact, universally accept (even by individualist), that every person must at some point use something they did not create for themselves. It is unreasonable and egregious to think that any person can make their own tools, shelter, food, clothing, and other needs/wants and live anything close to a comfortable life. Most people take for granted that they do not have to go out and use rocks and wood to find metal, make fire, smelt the metal into tools, find a fabric source, tend to that source, harvest the material, create the processing device from raw materials to process the fabric, process the fabric, make the needle, make the thread, and create every piece of clothing they wear. Most people also take for granted that they do not have to use stone and wood to make tools; to build fires; hunt animals; grow fruit and veg; make the harvesting tools; skin the animals; harvest the fruit and veg; gut the animals; make the cooking devices from raw materials; grow wheat, soy, and corn for bread products; dig for clay; make the ceramics; build a kiln from raw materials; create the plates, blows, and cups; and find, grow, and harvest all the spices in order to have a simple meal of bread and soup. To think that wearing clothing, eating food, and using tools that one did not total make by themselves invalidates any philosophy is totally ridiculous.


Sources:

[1] oxforddictionaries.com

[2] http://mises.org/library/what-individualism-not

Also used, http://mises.org/library/what-we-mean-individualism; http://youtu.be/dO9oTQqVtBM

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