Understanding Individualism

The classic novella Anthem, by Ayn Rand, was published in 1938.

For those who have not read it, Anthem is set in a dystopian world where society has become completely collectivized, even going as far as removing the word “I” from human vocabulary. It details one man’s quest for knowledge and innovation in a society which seeks equalization and redistribution; a society where being viewed as different is wrong.

However, in this day and age this is far from dystopian.

The United States has a long history of individualism, from the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, to our culture and the way in which we view the world.

We know, or should know, that the Constitution inherently grants us liberty, and self-determination.

We, as Americans, enjoy rights that are rare in most areas of the world. From the state capitalism of China to the autocracy of Russia, the rights of individuals are under attack. We as a people, as a society who wishes to preserve our legacy and secure our place in the world, must understand that the beliefs of the select few may not be enforced upon the majority.

Individualism is inherently free, and allows people to govern their lives in ways that they wish for themselves and their family.

The collectivism that governs large portions of the world is not only morally repugnant; it violates the very tenets that have made our society great. Discipline, authority, and collectivity are not words that our Founding Fathers imagined when they wrote the Declaration of Independence.

We as libertarians, and all freedom-loving Americans, must ensure that our rights (in all forms) are not unlawfully taken from us; whether this is from the NSA surveillance state, or the overreach of corporations and government into our daily lives.

Individualism is the path that we must take. It is the path that will guarantee that America remains true to the values that it was founded upon. It is not wrong to help other people; however it is wrong when this help is forced.

As a species, we should celebrate our differences, and utilize them to our advantage; not seek to conform to the collective whole!

The greatest innovators and thinkers on Earth did not get their ideas because of a committee of people.

Society develops when the individual does, and collectivism is inherently tyrannical.

Ayn Rand said it best in For the New Intellectual when she said, “Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”

Collectivism has influenced our society in all levels. Open-space offices, group seating in classrooms, and Uber are just a few examples of this. This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, because both sides of the aisle are just as responsible for this.

Men have the right to develop self-interest, and guide themselves, not be steered by a forceful hand so that they are little more than children in the bodies of adults.

America is great because we, as a society, were able to develop our own paths. We were not guided by the multitude of 5-year plans that dominated the Soviet Union. We were guided by the strength and ingenuity of the brave pioneers who sought to build a better life for themselves, without the crushing fist of tyranny.

In conclusion, the United States as a nation has a long cultural history of allowing people to conduct themselves in the way in which they see fit, stemming from the ideas that sparked the American Revolution. It is important that we protect the ideas of the Founding Fathers and the rights of the individual against attacks by those who seek to deny liberty and eliminate our differences.

Individualism is the only option because it provides all options, and safeguards the freedoms of the everyday person.

* Gabriel Odom is a native of Georgetown, Texas, and is currently a student and amateur writer. He enjoys history, reading, and solitude.

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  • Steve B

    I like your timing for this article considering Pope Francis’ recent comments on libertarianism. I’m not sure if this was a motivating factor for you, but it seems like the perfect response.

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