Individualism could theoretically work as a political system, in a hypothetical world where nobody is ever helpless and the planet has infinite resources and the ecosystem is infinitely robust. But we do not live in such a world.
No, we live in a world where every single person is born helpless and somebody needs to take good care of them to help turn them into physically and psychologically healthy adults, where people get sick and become disabled, where most of us go through a prolonged period of steadily increasing weakness and convalescence before death. A world with a fragile ecosystem and finite resources.
Individualism has no real answers for the mass-scale implementation of its value system in such a world. The only way to believe it does is with a lot of compartmentalizing away from reality and refusing to look at the tremendous suffering that is brought on by saying people who need help must either get it from family members who are hopefully kind or rely on the charity of strangers who are hopefully feeling charitable. Refusing to look at the reality that ecocide will continue as long as it remains profitable and no collectivist measures are put in place to prevent it from being so.
The only thing that can help humanity, as our situation appears from behind this pair of eyes, is what I call enlightened collectivism.
But this doesn’t mean that individualism has nothing to offer.
Individualists tend to have a more lucid than average understanding of the concept of self-sovereignty, which will be an essential component of any healthy world if one exists in humanity’s future. When it comes to what happens up to the border of your own skin, collectivism should hold no power. The thoughts you think, the beliefs you hold, the ideas you consume, the words you speak, the substances you ingest, whether you have sex, what kind of sex you have, and whether or not a fetus gets to use your body to gestate in should all be outside anyone else’s jurisdiction and under your total individual control.
More importantly, individualism values taking personal responsibility for one’s own inner state of being. It is not ultimately the responsibility of the collective to ensure that you are happy and at peace — it’s yours. It’s the responsibility of the collective to ensure that every member of that collective has their fundamental material needs met, but when it comes to actually forming a healthy relationship with yourself and with the world, that’s your job.
Because we all come into the world helpless and are surrounded by giants who are all lugging around countless generations of psychological pain, we are all somewhat mad. If you think you’re not, it’s either because you’ve done years of hard inner work, or because you haven’t done any. Anyone who’s begun sincere work on uprooting their delusion-based conditioning and becoming an authentic human being in this world understands how much crap there is to process through before you can come to a deep and lasting happiness here.
When you come into this world it is the collective that does the first install of the software you will use for the rest of your life. What most people neglect is that as an adult, downloading your updates is solely your responsibility.
People who’ve put a lot of energy into collectivist thought often miss this. They often dismiss talk of inner work as masturbatory navel-gazing and a distraction from engaging in class struggle. But guess what, mate? You’d be a lot more useful in that struggle if you weren’t a miserable neurotic twat.
And unless we’ve done serious inner work, that’s what we all are. Unless we’ve expanded our consciousness inwardly as well as outwardly, we’re necessarily operating to a greater or lesser degree from a place of confusion and pain. You’re a lot less useful to the collective when you’re operating from a place of confusion and pain than from a place of clarity and serenity.
But collectivist thinkers often neglect this, which is why people who’ve poured their energy and attention into the far left end of the political spectrum are frequently miserable and neurotic people. They’re right about everything, but they’re also wildly inharmonious, because they’ve put all their attention into expanding consciousness outwardly into economic, racial and social dynamics while neglecting their individual responsibility to expand it into their own inner dynamics as well.
For this reason, the usefulness of collectivist thinking ends at your own skin. From your skin outwards, it’s best to be a radical collectivist and seek collectivist solutions to our collective plight. From your skin inwards, it’s best to be a radical individualist with an acute understanding that everything which happens therein is your responsibility and no one else’s.
Collectivism for the collective, individualism for the individual. You can’t apply one universal system across all possible scalings of humanity; an individual requires a different system than a family, a family requires a different system than a community, a community requires a different system than a nation, and a nation requires a different system than a planet. Lucidly understanding these distinctions at each level helps the collective on all of them.
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