Comment Of The Day: “Another Early Morning Seminar, Another Ethics Alarms Open Forum!”

As they often do, this morning’s Open Forum has brought forth a Comment Of The Day (and perhaps more than one; it is still rolling, and I haven’t read all entries yet.)  This one, by frequent Comment Of The Day auteur Chris Marschner, was written in rebuttal to an ethics  professor’s newspaper column arguing that “individualism” is  an illness. This is one more form of the general anti-American argument that socialists, communists, and, increasingly, progressives  have advanced against the core culture of this nation, which was founded on individual rights and the power of individual responsibility, accountability, power and aspiration.

I’m glad Chris saw this thing before I did, and did such an excellent, and measured job rebutting it. It might have killed me. The thought of a community college, where students often do not have the critical thinking skills or intellectual breadth of experience to be able to resist this kind of indoctrination, having a professor like the author tinkering with their brains and beliefs is the stuff of horror movies.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day  from today’s Open Forum:

“Several days ago an adjunct professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Hagerstown Community College penned an Op-Ed in the Morning Herald newspaper here in Hagerstown, MD., decrying Individualism as a disease of the mind which leads to racism and  mass shootings. I am sharing my rebuttal with the group.

On August 9th, under the headline “Enemies of a Nation,” Don Stevenson penned an Op-Ed telling readers that individualism is a “severing, often arrogant, disease that applauds the free-wheeling person or entity and claims the self-directing power of a sole personality or mind-set with little respect for diversity.” This is pure fiction. There is no reference to individualism as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 manual. Do not equate individualism with sociopathy and psychopathy, both of which, in my opinion, are nurtured through the self-aggrandizing processes of social media. The need for likes and followers is suggestive of a need for love and fame. The perennial lack of likes and followers reinforces a person’s dissociative mindset. This gives rise to aberrations of violence among a minute number of mentally ill people who lack the ability to process information normally.

A discussion of the effects of social media and the increasing incidence of suicide will be left for another day.

Mr. Stevenson’s piece was an ill-informed hit piece suggesting that the El Paso shooter’s motives were based  on nativist hatred of immigrants. It was obvious to me that Mr. Stevenson did not read the manifesto and relied solely on news accounts, for if he had read the text he would have quickly realized the shooter was claiming to focus on the common good for Americans. Mexicans just happened to be the target. The shooter clearly and unequivocally stated that his goal was to reduce the population because, he said, we are destroying the environment with too many people. He explained that he was unable to bring himself to kill those he considered his own countryman. He argued that Americans won’t change their lifestyle, and can’t afford to let others get used to this lifestyle. He claimed automation was going to create massive unemployment and, while universal health care and universal income would help, civil unrest would inevitably occur.  He railed against powerful corporations manipulating policy.

Readers should ask why the parts of the manifesto that did not fit the anti-Trump narrative but instead reflected the exact opposite were not as widely disseminated as the shooter’s beliefs about cultural replacement. Why have we hears almost nothing about the leftist motivations of the Dayton and Gilroy shooters? Nothing is more unethical than to have a teacher of ethics not research the subject matter beforehand, or worse, twist the facts to suit a desired narrative.

Individualism is defined as “a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control”. Individualism is the basis of the Bill of Rights. Individualism is an American ideal. Collectivism and Utilitarianism posit, in contrast, that an individual’s rights are determined by group fiat. The collectivists determine what is “good” and to whom it is distributed, and what is bad and who must compensate society for that bad. That means you have no inalienable rights, because the leaders, those with power, determine what rights are in keeping with the collective good.

It is individualism that created the society that has lifted more people out of poverty and protected so many other nations from the pestilence that is true fascism than any other society in history. Individualism focuses on personal responsibility and self-reliance. Individualism embraces the moral value of the person, not the group. In short, individualism demands that true diversity be respected. Individualists eschew handouts and government intervention in their lives. They ask for nothing and deliver much.

Those who push the idea that diversity is our strength by equating it with ethnicity, skin tone, gender or other immutable characteristic are simply numbers crunchers. None of these physical or ethnic traits create the kinds of diversity that yields synergistic social benefits, just as they do not detract from the individual’s skills or humanity. For diversity to have any benefits, there must be opportunities to transfer the skills , knowledge, and understanding that arise from diverse experiences. Imputing racist motivations among any group that rejects the offered ideas and experiences  is itself racist, as it requires people to accept as superior the ideas and decisions of all those who use their race as a shield against principled criticism. Forcing people to abandon their ideas out of fear of economic or physical harm is the hallmark of racism, and is another form of racial terrorism.

Diverse experiences can only come from individualism. To believe otherwise would be to condemn people as nothing more than a singular commodity exhibiting only minor design differences that  come in different colors. Common experiences, common politics, and common associations usually result in “hive thinking” no matter what diverse immutable characteristics the members of the group may possess.

Stevenson spends considerable time discussing the Know Nothing Party (of the mid-19th Century)  but fails miserably in giving context to the period. He relies on public ignorance of history argue his points about Nativists. In the mid-19th century, worrying about newcomers was based on fear that you and your family would starve to death. The masses were jammed into multi-story walk-up tenement housing. You worked, or you didn’t eat. If there was no work, you did what you had to just to survive.

There was no unemployment insurance; there were no food stamps, and no workers’ compensation. You were on your own. If you died in the mine or the factory, another worker right off the boat would simply take your place. If you lost a hand or a foot in the factory or were maimed in a boiler explosion, one of the 3 million bodies coming to our shores each year would be happy to replace you.

In a sense, those Nativists led society toward unionized labor. I suspect that Emma Lazarus’s father, Moses, the wealthy New York socialite and sugar refiner, shared his love of a never-ending supply of cheap labor with his poet daughter and Protestant business associates.

Who lobbies today against individualism in the workplace; or for zoning that limits housing development in existing pastoral lands, or against commercial development in residential areas to protect their views and land values? Who  fights against low income housing when it is planned  in their neighborhoods? And who are those protesting gentrification to prevent the loss of affordable neighborhood housing for the existing residents? The irony of Nativism is that the goal is always to protect the existing group’s common good. The essential question is who decides who is allowed in the group. For that we have federal immigration laws. Executing existing law is not racist or xenophobic, because we are a nation of laws above all.

The “gangs of New York” exist everywhere, especially among the “woke” and intersectionalists. It is the “woke” and intersectionalists who seek to crush the individualists and force them into compliance with their groupthink, using the power of the courts.

25 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Another Early Morning Seminar, Another Ethics Alarms Open Forum!”

  1. I saw the shooter’s manifesto described as “life boat ethics,” which strikes me as correct. The group preys on the individual, killing and maybe eating him so the “group” will survive. This, of course, requires the belief that the US is desperate and will perish unless the weaker few are sacrificed to “the greater good.”

    • I do appreciate the comments and I posted this letter when I saw the open forum. Having taught Economics at HCC for many years as an adjunct and witnessing the decline in ability or desire to formulate analysis from disparate information I eventually burned out and stopped teaching. I have never met Mr. Stevenson but I am familiar with Dr’s Winfrey and Powell that taught Philosophy at HCC and who were both classically trained in the Seminary. Both always challenged students to question that which they believed to be true, acknowledge and evaluate their biases, and develop their own analysis. Those days are long gone. My estranged brother is a full time member of the faculty in the Humanities dept.

  2. I’ll share a piece of what Mr. Stevenson told me in our brief conversation; his “major beef” in the article was what he sees as a “rise of a do-as-you-please individualism in our country”.

    My reply was; “I don’t see “do-as-you-please individualism” as anything new, it’s been going on since the 60’s. Remember the sexual revolution, the rapid rise in drug usage? What’s actually new is the blatant tribalism promoting division in the United States and blindly parroting of those within your chosen tribe to feel a part of something bigger than oneself – it’s irrational hive minds – stupid people not thinking. Being an individual is not a bad thing, blindly being part of an unethical movement in a tribe is quite another thing. Life is about choices and choices have consequences.”

          • I don’t think I’ve doxed the guy. Just enter his name and it pops up on the first page, among many other listings. If somebody wants to pay for further info, have at it. His bio at the Hagerstown JC was really sparse other than to say he was a retired minister, which obviously meant he was mid sixties plus. Just wanted to get a definitive number. Which is 80.

            • I saw some red flags on the site that create an impression that there is something negative about him. Obviously the goal is to pique ones interest so that they buy their report but too often people simply create their own suppositions regarding what is behind the paywall

              • Just marketing. I suspect everyone is made to look sinister, as in, “Oh my God, the guy has a record in court filings? Yikes! He must not be nice.” Dumb.

  3. Nice work, Chris, as always.

    This guy pushes another of my buttons. He’s a God Damned church minister. The left has obliterated religion and is now turning liberalism into a replacement for religion. The creepy ministers like this guy are turning what’s left of organized churches into liberal politics and policy brooders. I want to scream at guys like this, “The United States is not a church, buddy. The IRS is not sending around a collection plate. Faith Hope and Charity are fine. On a voluntary basis. And Social Justice is not a religious concern, and frankly, nor is it a government concern. Fairness, yes. Equal outcome, no. Keep your religion in a church and out of the junior college classroom. The United States is not a charity run by high priests and The Good.” I could go on, but I won’t. Grrrr.

    Here’s something people should try. Next time you’re being harangued by a lefty, ask them at what point in their life they thought of going into the priesthood or the ministry.

  4. Well done Chris! From progressive politics to new ageism to transhumanism (notice a pattern here?) we’re increasingly being bombarded with this “oneness” and “hive mind” mentality that ultimately serves to empower the few who “know best” and disempower those who, quite frankly, aren’t interested in “being one” with them. My wife and I always say “community not communitarianism,” and this response exemplifies why.

    • Mrs. Q, I find “community” sets off my libdar. When people talk about “community,” I check to make sure my wallet is safe. It means it’s time for YOU to give SOMETHING to the members of the “community” that they don’t have but they want it ASAP. It’s a fraught as “diversity” and “social justice.” It means “shake down coming.”

      • OB
        I interpreted Mrs Q’s differentiation between communitarianism and community to mean the former to reflect your “libdar” characterization while community was more in keeping with basic social contract theory in which communities agree on fundamental rules of interaction such as the golden rule or just how to get along without killing each other.

        • I know she’s a profoundly reasonable person, but “community” has been tarnished beyond repair as far as I’m concerned, Chris.

          • Chris thanks, as that was what I meant.

            OB I feel ya & I think the main problem is there have been one too many who have substituted the concept of socialism for the word “community.” This was no accident I suspect and I share w/ you a frustration when “community” is conflated with mass scale government controlled hand outs.

            However I rebel against word disinformation as a means to power by subversive agendas. I believe “cisgender” is a fake word, for example, and refuse to use it. Turning Latino/a into Latinx or woman into womxn is also total bullshit.

            My bias is that I write for a community paper. If I had to constantly substitute “community” for other words, none of my readers would know what the heck I’m talking about, since literally the word is in the paper title. In other words, in common parlance, community still means just that. By using it correctly, I fight to keep it so.

            • Good plan. “Community” used to have a perfectly good connotation. Community banks, community standards. I also agree strongly that a good language is a terrible thing to waste. Maybe using language correctly is the best defense. Cheers.

            • Funny you mention community newspaper. I too edited and published one for part of Elijah Cummings district in Baltimore city in my first job after getting my BS in Economics. Perhaps that is why I recognized your meaning.

          • OB
            The phrase that really bothers me is when you are called on to “give back” to your community. Funny it is the same people that finance the community in the first place are the ones coerced into “giving back”. Has any consumer of a good ever been asked to give anything back to the producer after the transaction was consumated?

  5. Nicely done, Chris.

    His op-ed is flawed. There is no nexus between indivudyalusm, nativist, and white supremacy. In fact, I would suggest the exact opposite is true. Individualism celebrates the inherent value of the person regardless of race, ethnicity, etc. Collectivism, on the other demands submitting to the group. Collectivism led to more deaths in the 20th Century than any individualistic philosophy in 1000 years.


  6. It should be noted that the Christchurch killer’s supposed manifesto, from which the El Paso shooter drew motivation, was essentially socialist. He even described his political and social ideals as being closest to those of the People’s Republic of China.

    Clearly individualism is to blame for shooters who want one-party, collectivist states. I’m so glad we have our journalists to make these things clear.

  7. The US Declaration of Independence references certain unalienable rights of the individual. The spirit of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has been taking a beating of late.

    Contrast that to the phrase “peace, order and good government” aka POGG in my constitution in Canada. Other commonwealth countries have this as well.

    POGG can justify all sorts of government encroachments. Seems like more Americans are seeking more and more POGG and less and less POH through liberty.

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