We seem to be heading into a confrontation between the two forces of Modernism: the primacy of the individual versus the increasing technological and economic might of the central state.
- Charles Hugh Smith,
The individual on the one hand, the all-powerful state on the other. Are these two opposite and antagonistic forces, as many believe, or are they merely two sides of the same coin, with one feeding the other?
If two things are or opposite sides of the same coin, they are closely related to each other and cannot be separated, even though they seem to be completely different. (Emphasis added)
Returning to Smith:
The primacy of the individual is the core of Modernism, as each individual discovers the mysteries of God in their own way and time, and creates their own identity via their own choices and commitments.
Hasn’t western society – and certainly US society – maximized this “individualism” already? Tattoos and body-piercings in places known and unknown, hair in every fluorescent color, an infinite variety of gender possibilities, family units of every type, gods of every type? Yes, I guess “more” is always possible, but western society does not suffer from a deficit of “God in my own way and time” or “my own created identity.”
As much as we have maximized individualism, in what manner will we be able to resist the state? With whose support? “You and what army?”
As each of us is now our own unique individual, for what reason would I join with you to defend your individualism – an individualism that might be completely contrary to anything that matters to me? Yeah, yeah, I know the poem: “First they came for the socialists….” What good are such words when we know that no one has acted on these? What are you willing to die for?
If, in fact, individualism stood at the opposite side of a mighty central state, why does the mighty central state support, advance, and subsidize all manners of behaviors that allow each of us to create our own “individual”? It is very easily possible to make oneself free from all interpersonal support systems, institutions, cultural norms, etc. – in other words, as individual as imaginable – thanks to state support.
“The primacy of the individual versus the increasing technological and economic might of the central state.” Two sides of the same coin; these two cannot be separated, even though they seem completely different.
Nothing better for the increasing growth of a centralizing state than ensuring – and even supporting – the “individual.”