Individuals #3

The theory I’m talking about is, of course, liberalism. It can take all kinds of forms. There is neoliberalism which concentrates on the economic freedom that individuals supposedly will deeply benefit from when supposedly left to interact freely with supposedly free markets. It never quite works out this way but in theory it should.

Practitioners of other forms of liberalism evince discomfort with their neoliberal brethren and concentrate on other ways in which this freedom to be alienated can be practiced.

Then they all bicker about which freedom is more freedomey. No, it’s all about free markets. No, it’s all about bodily autonomy. No, it’s all about freedom to choose your identity. Your freedom is impinging on my freedom! Your freedom of expression hurts my feelings! Your market freedom hurts much more than feelings! And on and on and on they go, equally oblivious of their shared roots.

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2 thoughts on “Individuals #3”

  1. I have quibbles about the long view here – don’t think this individualism thing had as sudden appearance as you’re saying, and things like “was developed because it was needed for the development of capitalism” rub me the wrong way, because, well, things creating their own pre-conditions would need time travel or something.

    But, yeah, mostly checks out, and I heard a phrase while wasting my time on Youtube that encapsulates this dogmatic element rather perfectly. “I need to be the best version of myself, whatever that means for me.” I can see a semi-reasonable way in which you can direct this as advice to someone in the second person, but what the hell does this content-free “whatever that means for me” supposed to mean as part of an internal narrative? Don’t think you’re really ever supposed to settle on an answer.

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    1. That’s precisely it, the self-referentiality. I don’t think people even recognize how creepy it is. “First there was myself. And myself was God. I’m alpha and Omega. I’m a law unto myself.”

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