Individualist Isolation


If you've ever been around libertarian type people, chances are good you have heard them spout off about individualism at some point. I don't just mean in a financial or governmental aspect, but also in the more concerning social and cultural aspects. The problem with individualism is that it is utterly atomizing, creating "individuals" that don't belong anywhere when we know that throughout human history, humans enjoy belonging to a community of other like-minded humans.

Firstly however, let us get the easier financial and governmental aspects out of the way. Financially, people should be able to transact with each other without the need of middlemen like banks and governments; banks and governments have a funny way of picking favorites and ultimately deciding winners through transactions or regulations. When people can act financially as individuals, through hard monies, the regulation trap is broken: our money cannot just magically inflate and become worthless, nor can winners be arbitrarily chosen by regulators.

While this all sounds dandy, I personally take a little concern with any entity that has a lot of money/power. Even without being in bed with daddy government, large companies, NGOs, and other firms can still unjustly influence society. Social media is a quality example of this: though companies like Fedbook are completely unelected and unaccountable, they can control the majority of information flow. (Admittedly however, they don't truly control it. They've just tricked enough ignorant people that they are the internet.) For this, I have no solution despite often thinking of it; its also why I am of the opinion that anarchism is impossible. The nature of money and power would have to be completely changed for anarchy to be viable.

Social Individualism

Remember how I just said that social media has an unjustified influence on society? What is there to prevent them from degenerating the culture? There's no doubt social media can quickly atomize entire societies: instead of identifying with the real, wholesome people around whom we actually, physically live, we become "individuals," unique from our enclaves of people. But this uniqueness is not a good thing: it makes us alone, it separates us from the surrounding culture, or worse, it lets us identify with (largely fake) groups of people we'll likely never meet.

(Side note on that last point: A few examples of fake groups would be the so-called Linux Community, the (insert-popular-videogame) Community, or the LGTBQ+ (whatever) Community. While its no crime to start forums and wikis on these topics, the use of the word community is a not-so-subtle suggestion that a person can actually gain a sense of identity from these fake groups. The people who do identify with these fake communities are terribly toxic if you dare critique whatever their "community" is about.)

This isn't to say we're just cogs in some cultural machine. Everyone is unique and an individual, but they belong within a culture, not outside of it trying to make it on their own. Imagine being in atheist in a strongly Christian community: even if everyone within the culture is patient with your differing views, you will feel left out no matter how nice they are. It would be best for you to come to the Light, or move. Culture, in my humble opinion, is about people agreeing on the important topics like religion, law, ethics, and other high-minded topics. If an individual fundamentally disagrees with those pillars of culture, he will never feel at home.

Men like to live among other men of like minds. One would have to be extremely Stoic to bear living among unlike minds.

Real Community

Where can real community be found? In person. The internet is no effective surrogate for quality human interaction. Churches, gyms, libraries, and other public spaces is where real community can be found. Using a computer or smartphone to view pics and posts from other people is, ultimately, an isolated activity; it does not provide community. Individualist notions can easily be hijacked by the powers-that-shouldn't-be and push us away from "fitting in."

Community Hijacking?

Can a real, in-person community be hijacked? I don't think so, but those fake communities online certainly can be; just consider how Leftism has corrupted "communities" like those around Linux and other free software. As James Evan Pilato is fond of saying, "They steal the real and sell you the fake!" Instead of enjoying our local communities (or moving to a better one), we join fake communities online.

It may seem all this talk about community has little to do with individualism, but individualism is exactly how we get here. Let's imagine Bob. Bob individualizes himself away from his real community; maybe he changed religions, or committed some morally taboo thing. Most people, including Bob, cannot bear the solitude so they seek community, real or fake. Bob finds a "community" online that he feels he can be a part of. This community, at best, is fake and doesn't quench Bob's desire for social interaction, and at worst, is hijacked by Leftists or other extremists. Either way, Bob gains nothing of value and is still solitary.

This is the crux of the issue: individualism is the gateway to controlled "communities," and since these "communities" are mostly online, it takes very little effort on the part of the centralizers to sway them whichever way they want.

I said earlier that we are not just cogs in some cultural machine, but perhaps that isn't true. To continue our mechanistic metaphor, we are cogs within the cultural machine, but we are not all the same size or shape, nor do we have the same amount of teeth; we are all cogs, just different kinds of cogs that work better together than apart. If one cog decides he is a spring instead, then we will have trouble. The parts have to fit together and work together just as a proper community. Some of the more "enlightened" libertarians types might say, "We are individuals within a community." To this, I assent, but no further in either direction.