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.