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What Individualism Is Not • Frank Chodorov

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posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 06:59 PM
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I wonder if it might be possible to convey the idea of individualism to citizens with a predominantly herd based mindset. I refuse to believe that it is no longer possible.

The predisposition to vituperate laissez-faire is engrained in the miseducated but, hardly dogma yet. The near immediate failure of nearly every socialist policy is grating on even the most mindless state sycophants.

I see some encouraging trends that reveal the facade of shallow socialist doctrine which are resulting in the punishing loss of ranks on a daily basis. Indeed, we can only hope that the more it destroys, the less people are willing to defend it.

I believe it is happening. I am hopeful that freedom will prevail. I just hope that it doesn’t take too long.

Are you willing to reevaluate your presumptions about liberty?

What Individualism Is Not - Frank Chodorov



The bottle is now labeled libertarianism. But its content is nothing new; it is what in the nineteenth century, and up to the time of Franklin Roosevelt, was called liberalism — the advocacy of limited government and a free economy. (If you think of it, you will see that there is a redundancy in this formula, for a government of limited powers would have little chance of interfering with the economy.) The liberals were robbed of their time-honored name by the unprincipled socialists and near socialists, whose avidity for prestige words knows no bounds. So, forced to look for another and distinctive label for their philosophy, they came up with libertarianism — good enough but somewhat difficult for the tongue.




The besmirching of individualism, however, had a good start before the modern era. The original defamers were not socialists but solid proponents of status, the upholders of special privilege, the mercantilists of the nineteenth century. Their opposition stemmed in part from the fact that individualism leaned heavily on the burgeoning doctrine of the free market, of laissez-faire economics, and as such presented a challenge to their preferred position. So they dug into the age-old bag of semantics and came up with two smear words: selfish and materialistic. Just like the later socialists, they had no compunction about twisting the truth to suit their argument.




In point of fact — while the free market is itself a mechanism neutral to values expressing men’s desires, whatever they may be — the free market theory rests on the tacit acceptance of a purely spiritual concept, namely: that man is endowed with the capacity of making choices, with free will. If it were not for this purely human trait, there would be no marketplace, and human life would be akin to that of the birds and the beasts. The economist of the laissez-faire school tries to skirt around this philosophical and theological point; yet if hard pressed he must admit that his entire argument is based on the axiom of free will, although he might call it something else. And that axiom certainly is not materialistic; any discussion of it leads ineluctably to a consideration of the soul.

     By way of contrast, it is the socialist (whatever subspecies) who must begin his argument with a rejection of the idea of free will. His theory requires him to describe the individual as purely materialistic in composition. What is called free will, he must maintain, is a batch of reflexes to environmental conditioning.




Metaphysically, individualism holds that the person is unique, not a sample of the mass, owing his peculiar composition and his allegiance to his Creator, not his environment. Because of his origin and existence, he is endowed with inalienable rights, which it is the duty of all others to respect, even as it is his duty to respect theirs; among these rights are life, liberty, and property.

Following from this premise, society has no warrant for invading these rights, even under the pretext of improving his circumstances; and government can render him no service other than that of protecting him against his fellow man in the enjoyment of these rights. In the field of economics (with which libertarians are rightly concerned because it is there that government begins its infringement), the government has no competence; and the best it can do is to maintain a condition of order, so that the individual may carry on his business with the assurance that he will keep what he produces. That is all.



edit on 14-3-2015 by greencmp because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 07:50 PM
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Excellent OP. A well stated position.

Though I disagree with a number of assumptions sprinkled thorughout, I do find the kernel at the center of this concept of individualism to be as stated in your quote.

the free market theory rests on the tacit acceptance of a purely spiritual concept, namely: that man is endowed with the capacity of making choices, with free will. If it were not for this purely human trait, there would be no marketplace, and human life would be akin to mat of the birds and the beasts.


And a little farther on is another quote

What is called free will, he must maintain, is a batch of reflexes to environmental conditioning.


In the old days, before modern studies of our human condition, studies into what makes us what we are, I suppose that this idea of a free market might have been based as is mentioned above. However, this idea of who we are, of how we become the way we are, as individuals and as parts of a group, is dimming in validity. And not by scientists who study our make up. But by those who own and run the business of "business"

While most of us were doing what ever it is we thought we were doing with our "free will', these owners of the marketplace were proving otherwise. The rise of advertizing to manipulate the masses is a prime example. Hidden under the guise of "it's your choice because you have free will", were ever more complex and camouflaged campaigns of deceit. Taking the latest studies of human consciousness these perpetrators of economic power have relied on not the worth or soul of the individual but the base instinct of the herd that is mentioned.

So there may be some argument of a pristine marketplace based on the free will of the individual but I can only find this to be so from a purely idealistic position.

Though I applaud Mr. Chodorov's well thought out position, I find it based entirely upon late 19th and early 20th century morality and though possibly valuable in an historical context, rather naive by 21st century knowledge.



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 08:07 PM
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Acts 2: 44-45

"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."

Acts 4: 32

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own, but they shared everything they had."

Acts 4: 34-35

"There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from their sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need."

James 5: 1-6

"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up for treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter."

Isiah 1: 15-17

"Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood...cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow"

Ecclesiastes 3: 13

"It is God's gift to humankind that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil"



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 08:07 PM
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a reply to: TerryMcGuire

A great assessment of the context in which he wrote it (he died in the sixties). He was known as the last of the old guard.

I completely understand your lack of confidence in today's 'businesses', they scarcely represent the ideals of consumer centric competitive production. I can only imagine what Mr. Chodorov might have thought about how far down the hole we have dug ourselves.

I have high hopes that, without state support, top heavy bureaucratic corporations whose primary concern is compliance rather than improvement will not be able to compete with smaller more innovative new businesses.

For now, it is idealistic simply because fair competition is essentially illegal. When competition is legalized, it may be a lot less theoretical.




posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 08:08 PM
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This article is exactly the kind of simplistic ideology that I find stupid


...while the free market is itself a mechanism neutral to values...
This is fallacy number 1. People who say this are like fish in the ocean, they don't question the nature of water because they don't see the water, just like we used not to question the nature of space-time because we were so used to it that it seemed there was nothing to say about it. Yes, the free-market ideology, is, well, an ideology, and thus it conveys values and promotes behaviors based on those values. The free-market ideologists think they know what 'human nature' is, and they believe that the free-market is best suited to accommodate that so-called 'human nature'. They think 'human nature' needs to own property, they think 'human nature' equals greed. So no, the free-market is not neutral to values.


Metaphysically, individualism holds that the person is unique, not a sample of the mass, owing his peculiar composition and his allegiance to his Creator, not his environment
This is fallacy number 2, and proof that the free-market is effectively not neutral to values. Which 'creator' are we talking about here ? Who knows the 'creator', if there is one ? I don't. And there are so many different stories around the world about a hypothetical creator that saying " owing his peculiar composition and his allegiance to his Creator" just looks like BS ideology.

The free-market is of the same nature as religion, it contains dogmas, it refuses to look at reality and at the new possibilities. It is just an old and boring ideology.

This article seems to have been written by a newbie who just started thinking about those things.



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 08:14 PM
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a reply to: Bone75

The Christian socialists have a tough time of it these days, I kinda feel bad for them.

They hold many of the same redistributive impulses as communists but, wholly reject the dehumanization of people.

At least it can be said that their beliefs can not be directly connected to the millions of people murdered in the name of socialism.
edit on 14-3-2015 by greencmp because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 08:17 PM
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a reply to: greencmp

A very well thought out OP.

*applause*

The rights of the individual are clearly protected under the Constitution, but it is ignored in favor of more popular collectivism which is the antithesis of individual liberty and individual responsibility.

I wish I could give more than one SnF



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 08:21 PM
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originally posted by: gosseyn

This article is exactly the kind of simplistic ideology that I find stupid


...while the free market is itself a mechanism neutral to values...
This is fallacy number 1. People who say this are like fish in the ocean, they don't question the nature of water because they don't see the water, just like we used not to question the nature of space-time because we were so used to it that it seemed there was nothing to say about it. Yes, the free-market ideology, is, well, an ideology, and thus it conveys values and promotes behaviors based on those values. The free-market ideologists think they know what 'human nature' is, and they believe that the free-market is best suited to accommodate that so-called 'human nature'. They think 'human nature' needs to own property, they think 'human nature' equals greed. So no, the free-market is not neutral to values.


Metaphysically, individualism holds that the person is unique, not a sample of the mass, owing his peculiar composition and his allegiance to his Creator, not his environment
This is fallacy number 2, and proof that the free-market is effectively not neutral to values. Which 'creator' are we talking about here ? Who knows the 'creator', if there is one ? I don't. And there are so many different stories around the world about a hypothetical creator that saying " owing his peculiar composition and his allegiance to his Creator" just looks like BS ideology.

The free-market is of the same nature as religion, it contains dogmas, it refuses to look at reality and at the new possibilities. It is just an old and boring ideology.

This article seems to have been written by a newbie who just started thinking about those things.



Thanks for reading it, that is all that I ask. Your comments are most welcome.

It actually is simple, a fact that even I overlook all too often.

What he is saying is that economics has no ethical or moral component. When we look back into history and ask what the best automobile was in the 1930s, we do not care what the values of the manufacturer were. Economists are only concerned with what works best to satisfy the wants and needs of the consumer, the individual actor.

The best economic system which provides the most useful commodities to the greatest number of people is the free market.

If it is the best interests of people that motivates you, you must acknowledge that fact.

If you have some other goal than the best interests of everybody, the world is your oyster until you spoil it and get a hold of another one.



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 09:55 PM
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originally posted by: beezzer
a reply to: greencmp

The rights of the individual are clearly protected under the Constitution, but it is ignored in favor of more popular collectivism which is the antithesis of individual liberty and individual responsibility.


It's a frightening observation that so many are so willing to divest themselves of who they are to become part of a group. Once you open your eyes to it you can't un-see it. And their mob continues its formation ...

I witnessed groups of disorganized individuals out at the Bundy Ranch. If they get their act together, there's gonna be a revolution, and they're pretty well armed. It all comes down to comms.


I wish I could give more than one SnF


Helped where I could.



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 10:21 PM
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a reply to: Snarl

This is one of the reasons why I've been so scares of late.

A truly well written OP and it is getting no attention.

Perhaps the OP should have mentioned Israel or Iran or Obama or the GOP.



posted on Mar, 14 2015 @ 11:58 PM
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originally posted by: gosseyn

This article is exactly the kind of simplistic ideology that I find stupid


...while the free market is itself a mechanism neutral to values...
This is fallacy number 1. People who say this are like fish in the ocean, they don't question the nature of water because they don't see the water, just like we used not to question the nature of space-time because we were so used to it that it seemed there was nothing to say about it. Yes, the free-market ideology, is, well, an ideology, and thus it conveys values and promotes behaviors based on those values. The free-market ideologists think they know what 'human nature' is, and they believe that the free-market is best suited to accommodate that so-called 'human nature'. They think 'human nature' needs to own property, they think 'human nature' equals greed. So no, the free-market is not neutral to values.


The free market is an information system, like DNA. The free market has no values like good or bad, just or unjust. The free market's most important phenomenon is to transmit the cost or price of every tradable item in the world. The cost or price is directly related to the scarcity of resources and tends cause to the most efficient allocation of those resources.

The confusion comes from politics, which is always ideological, and which can and does assimilate everything into its jurisdiction. Libertarianism is an ideology that defends the free market from other ideologies, but Libertarianism does not cause the free market. Human intelligence causes the free market by choosing the easiest possible remedy to a want.





Metaphysically, individualism holds that the person is unique, not a sample of the mass, owing his peculiar composition and his allegiance to his Creator, not his environment
This is fallacy number 2, and proof that the free-market is effectively not neutral to values. Which 'creator' are we talking about here ? Who knows the 'creator', if there is one ? I don't. And there are so many different stories around the world about a hypothetical creator that saying " owing his peculiar composition and his allegiance to his Creator" just looks like BS ideology.

The free-market is of the same nature as religion, it contains dogmas, it refuses to look at reality and at the new possibilities. It is just an old and boring ideology.

This article seems to have been written by a newbie who just started thinking about those things.



The axioms of free markets and Libertarianism are closer to human nature and nature in general than the good intentions and wishful thinking of sincere altruistic socialism.

Socialism starts with wishes about equality and fairness, which are human ideas, and do not exist in nature.
Libertarianism starts with individual uniqueness, which is proved by DNA identification evidence.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 12:46 AM
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originally posted by: beezzer
a reply to: greencmp

A very well thought out OP.

*applause*

The rights of the individual are clearly protected under the Constitution, but it is ignored in favor of more popular collectivism which is the antithesis of individual liberty and individual responsibility.

I wish I could give more than one SnF


Indeed, the aspect of our constitution which seems the most overlooked is the function of balanced powers intended to keep all government entities in perpetual opposition to each other for the benefit of all citizens.

"That government is best which governs least."

-Thomas Jefferson



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 12:53 AM
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originally posted by: Snarl

originally posted by: beezzer
a reply to: greencmp

The rights of the individual are clearly protected under the Constitution, but it is ignored in favor of more popular collectivism which is the antithesis of individual liberty and individual responsibility.


It's a frightening observation that so many are so willing to divest themselves of who they are to become part of a group. Once you open your eyes to it you can't un-see it. And their mob continues its formation ...

I witnessed groups of disorganized individuals out at the Bundy Ranch. If they get their act together, there's gonna be a revolution, and they're pretty well armed. It all comes down to comms.


I wish I could give more than one SnF


Helped where I could.


I am comforted by the knowledge that our properly functioning constitution does have the power to preclude the necessity of uprising.

If we lose that, all bets are off but, we haven't lost that yet.

In truth, we have seen darker days than even these and we have emerged wiser and, notably, older than any other government form on the planet.

Chin up me boy, this too shall pass.




posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 01:01 AM
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a reply to: Semicollegiate




posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 02:38 AM
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Free market capitalism and individualist based values, as well as socialist, collectivist based values are both ideologies, hanging on opposite ends of the spectrum, each with their own positive and negative aspects.

I can write on the problems I perceive with either, and will fight my tendency to write out my personal anecdotes of experiencing this clash between myself and those of my current environment (who have a predominantly collectivist based value system).... I will focus on (some of) the problems I see with individualist ideology.

The discoveries we've made in the last few centuries, on human consciousness threw some rocks in the wheels of free will. Namely, the subconscious or unconscious levels. The conscious choice-making awareness turns out to have a mate- a less conscious collection of intents, beliefs, associations, that have an enormous power and influence in the choices we make! Our conscious ego thought it was all alone at the wheel, and it turns out it isn't and never was.

In came Bernays... and showed us how to manipulate that part so that we can be made to make choices that really are the choices of others- mostly those who want our money.

The belief in total freewill of choice is a state of denial. Symbolic interactionism, and the studies upon how our innate social drives impact the formation of the self-concept make it clear- this "you" that is choosing is not so "free" as that, you are not the island individualism believes you to be.

I think the impact of extreme individualist values spreads to many other important areas- such as sexism, and relational dynamics. But your topic focuses on the economic impact, so I point out that factor.

The individualist value system attempts to deny the social instincts, and all I can see is that only results in occulting them, so that they are lived out in less acknowledged (and usually less constructive) ways. -As what always happens with taboos.

The culture wars in the US are a prime example, with people defending this party or that one, this religion or that one, or whatever grouping they relate to, and that all just end up clashing against each other, in a spectacular fragmentation of a nation turned against itself.

The occultation of drive towards belongingness leaves individuals even more vulnerable to the manipulations of the media and press, which find it quite easy to steer the consumer, zombie-like, even while they repeat to themselves, "I am free, I am an individualist! I am part of no herd!"

It just isn't facing reality.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 03:07 AM
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"That government is best which governs least."

-Thomas Jefferson


That'd sound nonsensical if government was instead called "management." What Tom seemed to overlook is nobody really likes being "governed" - it is always going to come across as a bit authoritarian when it is framed like that. What government really needs is a brand rename.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 04:14 AM
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originally posted by: greencmp

The best economic system which provides the most useful commodities to the greatest number of people is the free market.

If it is the best interests of people that motivates you, you must acknowledge that fact.

If you have some other goal than the best interests of everybody, the world is your oyster until you spoil it and get a hold of another one.


What you are basically saying is "my religion is better than any other, and if you don't believe like I do, you'll go to hell". How do you know that it's the "best system" ? Where is your data ? Where are your scientific arguments ? Oh but here is the problem of your "best system", it doesn't have any scientific basis, but is based on pure ideology : it talks about a "creator" and "god given free-will", and "invisible hand" which is really just another word for "the creator".

Your "best system" advocates for the competition of everyone against everyone for nearly everything. And when something bad and unwanted happens you say "but hey, it's because the market is not free, what we need is more competition". The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Your "best system" is based on dogmas, it doesn't take into account reality just like any system of beliefs based on dogmas. It doesn't try to understand human beings in a scientific and precise manner, which is the first thing any social system should do, instead it throws at you old and obsolete values and ideological principles. Your "best system" doesn't take into account the technological possibilities or our time, is not interested in the fact that today we could automate 80% of any production process. This is how dogmas function, they are allergic to reality.

Humans when they are born are basically blank slates, and while growing they learn from their environment, this is proven in so many ways that I think I would insult the intelligence of any reader if I gave examples. What you don't seem to understand - and again why would you because you believe in an ideology that is not interested in reality - is that this free-market ideology teaches humans to be competitive and greedy, and then you say "look how humans are greedy, we really have the best system to accommodate that greedy human nature". You teach humans to give much importance to owning property and then you say "look how humans are attached to their property, we really have the best system to accommodate that greedy human nature". You teach humans that competition is the only way and then you say "look how humans are aggressive, we really have the best system to accommodate that aggressive human nature". And this is why you believe the free-market ideology is devoid of any values, you just don't see them anymore because those values are so intrinsically integrated into the system that they become invisible, just like the air you breathe.

Yes, humans have needs, but have you assessed those needs in a scientific manner ? Where is the line drawn between needs and wants ? How would you know if your ideology is not interested in facts and in reality ? Needs are needs, they are with us the second we are born and even before, but what are wants ? Where do wants start and end ? Here is an anecdote : at a state dinner, Napoleon gave his soldiers silver utensils and his court gold. But the guest of honor, the king of Siam, was given utensils of aluminium. Despite its relative abundance, aluminum was one of the rarest elements on Earth because it was hard to extract. But today we cover takeout food in foil and toss it away without a thought. This is what wants are made of, they are a creation. What if I wanted the whole of Africa as my backyard and I had the monetary means to afford it ? Would it be ok ? Where is the limit then ?



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 06:12 AM
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originally posted by: Semicollegiate
The free market is an information system, like DNA. The free market has no values like good or bad, just or unjust. The free market's most important phenomenon is to transmit the cost or price of every tradable item in the world. The cost or price is directly related to the scarcity of resources and tends cause to the most efficient allocation of those resources.

What does the word "efficient" mean in your mouth ? What kind of efficiency, towards what goal ? What if I don't have any monetary power, what can I expect from this "efficiency" ? A nuclear bomb can be made efficient, a killer virus can be made efficient, just what kind of efficiency are you talking about ? Efficiency towards maximising human happiness, towards maximising human suffering ? And why shouldn't we implement a social system that promotes goodness and justice, what is the problem with that ?






The axioms of free markets and Libertarianism are closer to human nature and nature in general than the good intentions and wishful thinking of sincere altruistic socialism.

Socialism starts with wishes about equality and fairness, which are human ideas, and do not exist in nature.
Libertarianism starts with individual uniqueness, which is proved by DNA identification evidence.

Why do you seem to think that it is intelligent or even relevant to try to copy Nature in everything that Nature does ? Are there surgeons that conduct brain surgery in nature, is there internet in nature, are there computers, planes, literature in nature ? Why do you seem to believe that it is OK to produce machines, which don't exist in nature, but you seem to believe that it is not OK to produce a social system for humans that doesn't exist in nature ? Do you think it is not OK to try to colonize another planet just because Nature did not intend us to breathe that specific planet's atmosphere ? Should we throw away and forget everything that is not found in its natural state in Nature ? Is it evil to have running hot water at will ?

I am teasing you, because I know this topic very well, and my answer is this : as a species, we have made a clear separation between hard sciences and social sciences, to the point that we have greatly improved hard sciences and to the point that we still use outdated social systems. Why is this ? Because in hard sciences, through the scientific method, every hypothesis is permanently confronted to reality, thus hard sciences evolve, while in social sciences ideology has its hold, ideological principles are not confronted to reality, thus social sciences do not evolve, or very slowly relatively to hard sciences. But this is another big topic in itself, which deserves its own thread.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 07:13 AM
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There might be a confusion here, I am not defending socialism, I am not defending any ideology, any -ism that doesn't take into account reality.

Step 1 : we recognize we are humans.
Step 2 : we recognize human beings have needs.
Step 3 : we recognize that we have the technological means to satisfy those needs.
Step 4 : we do it.

That's how any intelligent life form should take care of the members of its species, be it on our planet or any other planet of any other galaxy. Any other plan is retarded ideology.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 07:17 AM
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originally posted by: greencmp
I wonder if it might be possible to convey the idea of individualism to citizens with a predominantly herd based mindset. I refuse to believe that it is no longer possible.


I couldn't resist the urge to turn my anecdotal references again.
From experience, I have seen that the idea CAN be conveyed to people with a predominantly herd based mindset.
I do this on a daily basis. It is somewhat upsetting for them and has to be approached very,very carefully, wary of their sensitive spots, and with a large part of courage to face your OWN sensitive spots.

The only effective way to actually communicate the ideas of individualism to a socially minded individual is to open your own mind to theirs as well.

In our individualist world view, there are "takers" and there are "givers" (those who pay taxes, and those who reap benefits from them; those who sell, and those who buy: those who provide and those who are dependant, etc. )
Each individual is determined to be, or determines themselves as, one or the other.

In a social minded, or collectivist world view, everyone is both giver and taker. Everything is exchange, and interdependence. Even employer/employee relations. This includes communication. There is not one who gives knowledge while the other takes in and digests it.

So you have to be ready and willing to make it about an exchange- to acknowledge their information and receive it (even if it pushes your repulsion buttons). This really makes a difference. It also shows (to me) that these social minded people, even if a bit inexperienced or clumsy about individual expression, really know a thing or two about relational dynamics! We all have something to learn from one another. Don't go expecting anyone to respect you if you won't respect them.



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