or, The Blindness of Individualists
I’m not a fan of Greg Johnson or Counter Currents, too atheist, too gay, just generally too liberal for me. That said, Greg Johnson is smart and does have some insight, such as how an individualist society can be subverted.
‘Metaphysical individualism is the thesis that only particular men exist. Groups are just collections of individuals, with no independent reality or meaning.
Metaphysical individualism is connected to universalism, which is the idea that there is only one race, the human race, which is just a collection of individuals. Universalism implies that there is no meaningful distinction between ingroups and outgroups, between us and them.
Universalism has two important implications.
First, since politics as Carl Schmitt defines it arises from the distinction between us and them, universalism implies that politics is merely a temporary phenomenon, based on the waning illusion of meaningful distinctions between ingroups and outgroups. When these distinctions disappear, politics will as well.
Second, nationalism, patriotism, and any other form of partiality for one’s ingroup over an outgroup is morally illegitimate, since there is really no us and them, just me and you. This leads us to the ethical dimension of individualism. How do you and I get on together? If groups are just collections of individuals, there are no group values, just individual values. The purpose of social institutions, therefore, is to facilitate individuals pursuing their own aims.
Ethical individualism requires us to treat individuals as individuals, not as members of various morally unimportant groups handed to us by history or nature. We must be “blind” to race. We must be “blind” to class. We must be “blind” to sex. We must be “blind” to religion. We must be “blind” to nationality. We must be “blind” to all things that divide us. The only thing we must see are individual merits.
The individualism game is highly advantageous for all players. Individualism unleashes creativity in science, technology, and business. But paradoxically, the greatest strength of individualism is the form of cooperation it fosters. Each individualist comports himself as a member of a potentially global society. This means that social cooperation can scale up to the global limit as well, making possible the wholesale transformation of the world we call modernity.
In honest contests, the individualist game can outcompete the collectivist game, which is why individualistic European societies conquered virtually the entire globe with superior technologies and forms of social cooperation.
But the competition for global domination is rarely honest. Thus when Western individualist societies conquered and absorbed collectivist ones, it was only a matter of time before the more intelligent tribes learned how to cheat.
How does one cheat an individualist? By pretending to be an individualist while working as a member of a group. You demand that individualists give you a fair shake in every transaction. But whenever possible, you give preferences to members of your own tribe, and they give preferences to you.
Imagine playing a game of cards in which your opponent can play a wild card but you can’t. That wild card is their tribal membership. It does not matter how great an advantage you might have over him in terms of chips at the start, because the rules give him a systematic advantage, and as long as you play the game, you will lose. But individualists are slow to catch on to the scam, because they are blind to groups.
It is interesting that the most important founder of modern race- and nation-blind individualism was Ayn Rand, born Alissa Rosenbaum, and the leadership of her Objectivist movement just happened to be overwhelmingly Jewish, including a number of first cousins and married couples. Obviously, this was not individualist meritocracy in action. Yet Rand’s followers were blind to this fact as a matter of high moral principle.
The whole thing here.
Poster Autistic cob maven at MPC
‘I’m in the middle of my second reading of the book [Atlas Shrugged] and it finally hit me what Libertarians screwed up.
Libertarians read the book and all of its talk about industrial aristocrats and think it means that the assholes owning Monsanto and Walmart are the world’s superheroes. There are no WalMart made-in-china companies in the book selling vastly more units of cheap s**t that will almost work for 90% of the price of the best thing available. There’s also no shekelsteins rearranging investments to make huge fortunes without actually doing anything in the book.
In reality Randian superheroes are genius artisans who physically make stuff better than anyone else, not board members on Fortune 500 companies. In this world they aren’t at the top of corporate food chains, they’re running businesses for discerning customers and treading water before a Made In China corporation kills their dream, or just some guy tinkering in his garage somewhere making the best version of something nobody has ever seen. I’ve met many of these types.
“BB” points out,”I think that rand just kind of assumed that succeeding in a truly free market would involve being the best at understanding the material world, i.e. philosopher-poets reveling in the mysteries of the atom.”
Once you understand that THAT’S where she borked it up, suddenly everything makes sense – the book becomes profound when you understand the author’s failure of perception, and it reveals that libertarian types often have the fabled “reading comprehension” but lack the undersung ability to look out at how life really works and draw accurate conclusions.’