Individualism

Individualism.

It’s grounded in us philosophically, educationally and institutionally. It’s in our DNA.

Individualism is what underpins our freedoms: freedom to speak, free voting, freedom of the press, freedom over our bodies (habeas corpus), freedom of association, free enterprise … yes, freedom to think!

Express yourself freely and you’re exhibiting our innate cultural trait.

Most countries don’t have this luxury.

Individualism is your precious birthright in the Anglosphere.

Relish it. Exercise it!

Freedom 14

 

8 thoughts on “Individualism

    1. Stolzyblog,

      The key here is to ask “compared to where else?” Japan? Saudi Arabia? China?

      People can choose to conform. In most places, this luxury is absent.

      Thanks for sharing.

      The Thinking WASP

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi. I wouldn’t say “in most places”. You’ve cited countries with particularly blatant behavioral rules and with particularly onerous enforcement. The real test of individualism is within thinking, not within allowable deeds. (That is something external to the individual.) And my commest addresses this aspect, and I believe holds. The great majority of English-speaking peoples in the world buy into the underlying fabric of assumptions without particularly very much second thought, as I see it. Leading among these assumptions is a materialistic worldview.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stolzyblog,

      I’m enjoying the exchange. Thank you.

      Let’s unpack your response. There are a few threads in it.

      “IN MOST PLACES”
      There are 195 countries. In order to satisfy “in most places”, I could list the 98 required by starting with the three you’ve already conceded, continue with Chad, North Korea, Russia and so forth. Easier, I could just give you a list as published here: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/resource-file?nid=13242&fid=13207

      Or we could tackle this the other way. I could offer you the more difficult challenge, I think, of listing 98 countries whose citizens are freer to express their individuality than the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

      A big hurdle, yes?

      THOUGHT VERSUS DEED
      I’m not sure why, when it comes to individualism that, “allowable deeds” are to be discounted or somehow marginalised in deference to thought. Thought is important, don’t get me wrong. Thought without action though, well that can be a kind of prison. If one cannot express himself fully, in thought, word and deed, then it’s a shackled kind of individualism.

      For instance, if I imagine myself in a beautiful, sunny meadow lying on a rug being fed pump, ripe grapes … but my thoughts of pleasure are suddenly jolted into the reality that I’m serving my 27th year as a Chinese political prisoner working in an underground sewer, I’m not sure that my mere thoughts fully express my individualism.

      CULTURAL ASSUMPTIONS
      The Anglosphere, like all other cultures, has underlying assumptions. I list them here https://thethinkingwasp.wordpress.com/mission/ as tolerance, a fair go, independence, truth, adaptability, noblesse oblige, freedom, subtlety, defiance, creativity, organization, grit, curiosity, discretion, thrift, exploration, compassion, drive, pragmatism, enterprise and self-reliance.

      I could add ‘service’ too, from international aid to the simple transaction of freely exchanging a product or service for a sum. That’s service to humanity. It makes our lives easier.

      If by ‘materialism’, you mean this kind of exchange, it is true there is materialism in the Anglosphere. It started at scale in Britain with the Industrial Revolution. And today, there is materialism in every flourishing economy.

      I suspect you’d agree that materialism of this kind doesn’t occur as much as it could in Chad or North Korea. When you starve, you could do with a bit of materialism, starting with clean water and a bowl of rice.

      If by ‘materialism’, you mean an unhealthy or obsessive preoccupation with worldly goods like the latest release of the next iPhone, this isn’t a cultural bedrock of the Anglosphere. I should add that murder, theft and road rage also aren’t underlying cultural assumptions of the Anglosphere though these too occur. The Thinking WASP believes ‘materialism’ in this second sense is undesirable, inevitable in a flourishing society but not as pervasive as you may suggest. Much of it is standard advertising and purchasing. Some crosses the line into the garish.

      WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT
      I agree that any culture is expressed almost without a second thought. Culture is the DNA which binds people.

      This applies equally to we in the Anglosphere as we happily play sport https://thethinkingwasp.wordpress.com/category/sport/ or enjoy our cuisine https://thethinkingwasp.wordpress.com/category/cuisine/.

      However, we do give a second thought to it when we don’t have access to it anymore, as in a pandemic lock-down or 12 years as an expat in another culture.

      It sometimes takes reminders, even an occasional jolt or celebration to show people who they are and why they do things. That’s the purpose of The Thinking WASP.

      Individuality as expressed in the Anglosphere countries empowers people to think, or not to think, as they see fit! We are free individuals. It’s up to us.

      You, however, are clearly a thinker. Keep your comments coming. I am enjoying them.

      Thanks for contributing, Stolzyblog.

      The Thinking WASP

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi TTW, Glad you enjoy the thoughts. But uh-oh, looks like you want to disintegrate the original ideas into a potentially never-ending minutae cascade of thought associations which will have little liklihood of resolving anything. (Which reminds me of the central impulse alive within the largely Anglosphere-inspired and dreadfully useless and obfuscatory discipline known as Analytic Philosophy.)

        To re-simplify, the main points I am making (or feeling) are:

        1) Individualism is an individual matter, not something to be measured by the political climate one happens to find oneself within, or for that matter even the cultural climate, since I have encountered many people across the spectrum of what I would call individuality among all sorts of world cultures and nationalities.

        1A) The best measurement or indicator of individuality is the depth, quality and originality of one’s basic three human inner capacities: thinking, feeling, and willing. In other words, expressing these capacities without as much as possible undue influence from orthodoxy of any kind. I’d re-emphasize: the primary source of orthodoxy is not necessarily political in nature. Also, I point out that of the three, thinking is the one which most colors the other two and molds them. (I gather you concur here.)

        2) By materialism, I mean basic philosophical materialism, which I can paraphrase the first sense given in Webster’s Unabridged 2nd Edition as follows: the belief or doctrine that all things or phenomena are at base exclusively material or physical in nature, where material is seen to include the forces inherent within purely physical reality.

        2A) Acquisitiveness of material goods, as you mentioned, is a possible even likely corollary of the above but the one does not imply the other and in any case it is the philosophical belief which is primary.

        2B) By the way, materialism has very much been contributed to by Anglosphere type thinking since about the time of Shakespeare, (Locke, Hume, etc) though it is also fueled by Western European thought in general. The other thing to note about materialism is that it is almost completely unexamined as a fundamental dogma. It enjoys a largely unscrutinized status as a bedrock assumption within the culture that has grown out of the Enlightenment and Age of Reason and so on, and to be honest, one is taking one’s intellectual life in one’s hands by raising any sort of serious inquiry towards it within the academic world. (A sure sign there are real issues with the idea, in my view.) Admittedly, this philosophical materialism has become largely globalized.

        It’s ok that you want to be proud of Anglo heritage, but you go too far if you think it is mostly equivalent with individualism.

        Some minor points….

        The daydreaming prisoner of some unfortunate 3rd world Asian cell you depict entirely misses any point I was making. The ability to act upon one’s individualized impulses is a sort of measure of their freedom or lack of external constraint. Not of their individuality. In truth, some of the most wonderful and vivid exemplars of individuality in the world have exactly been political prisoners of the sort you mention, who birthed novel and reality-shaping movements by dint of their imprisoned thinking and being. Solzhenitsyn, Mandela, various Chinese dissidents.

        All of the qualities and virtues you list in your ad-hoc definition or characterization of Anglo-ness I see and have seen elsewhere in the world. They are of course not exclusively Anglo by any means. Also, it goes without mention that I have seen the lack of said qualities within individuals native to the Anglosphere.
        Should stop now. Cheers to you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Individualism is what underpins our freedoms: freedom to speak, free voting, freedom of the press, freedom over our bodies (habeas corpus), freedom of association, free enterprise … yes, freedom to think!

    I’m glad you are relishing it. I’m happy you are exercising it.

    Thanks for contributing and for many ideas for future posts.

    Like

  3. Individualism, I agree. It is healthy.

    Unfortunately it has led to a whole generation or more of individuals who think of individualism as ‘ me, me, me – First ! ‘ which is (un)healthy.

    Sometimes we need to place others before ourselves and row the boat together, not each to one’s own inner-Cox’s instructions. The current virus crisis is such a time.

    Those countries not pulling together have the results to show for it. And vice versa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello David,

      Thanks for contributing.

      You agree individualism is healthy on the whole. We are lock-step on that.

      You also mention that individualism can devolve into a kind of selfishness.

      What my post is suggesting is that freedom: free enterprise, freedom of the press, freedom of association and the freedom is simply be oneself, is far better than an authoritarian, collectivist state.

      Yes, it is true that an individual can opt to be selfish, what you describe as the ‘me, me, me’ syndrome.

      It is just as true that an individual can opt to be altruistic.

      The Thinking WASP has faith that free individuals opt for the latter overall and that there is manifest goodness in people. The Thinking WASP also believes that cultures where individualism is emphasized, like the Anglosphere, do better than collectivist cultures.

      History is replete with real-world Winston Smiths.

      You and I will agree that there’s nothing to celebrate in that.

      Again, thank you for contributing to the pages of The Thinking WASP.

      Like

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