Before I called myself a libertarian, I would have called myself an individualist.  To me, individualism means that you recognize the diversity of the humanity; you recognized that everyone is unique in their own way, and that individual sovereignty is the basis for true happiness and autonomy.  I also consider myself a very sincere and caring person, so do a bunch of people who know me personally (my nickname in elementary/middle school was honey bear for god sakes).  Unfortunately, my philosophical outlooks are under the camp of ruggedness and ruthless selfishness.  This is sadly a great mistake that many people make, so in this article, I’m going to emphasized why this is a wrongly held belief, and why individualism is truly humanitarian and not unforgivingly despotic.  Of course that’s what the anti-indiviudualist would like you to think, but it’s a thought that is filled with falsehood and disingenuous logic.  So without any further notice, let me explain to you why this is not the case.

 

Individualism is Pro People

One misconception that is as constant as a game of telephone stretching the distance of the Great Wall of China is that individualism is rugged; similar to an old rusty barbed wired fence that surrounds a death camp.  Another assertion that I hear quite often is that individualism is “anti-people” or similar to a “screw everybody” kind of attitude.  To the anti-individualist, individualism is all about “me only and nobody else”.  So basically it’s a doctrine of overzealous selfishness, hence the ruggedness that’s supposedly embedded into the ideology of individualism.  I find this view of individualism to be overwhelming humorous; I’ve never heard of anyone who used the term “individualist” and only wanted freedom for himself.  In fact, I’ve always thought that the individualist wanted freedom for everyone, since true freedom can only be reciprocal.  I don’t consider someone who uses force or gets his desires at the expense of other people to be an individualist, I consider that person to be a destructive demagogue.  I find this conflation of individualism and relentless coercive selfishness to be an extremely flawed one.  Even if this demagogue were to call himself an individualist, he wouldn’t fit the right criteria to use such a term.  By definition, this ruthless person is anti-individualist since he disregards the rights of others.  In my view, individualism is all about respecting the existence of not only yourself, but your fellow human beings also.

 

How can this kind of individualism be considered rugged or immoral? Last time I heard, respecting people as themselves is the proper way to live.  Most certainly one perspective of individualism could be from a “leave me alone” stand point — which puts a rugged cloak on the person —  but despite its rugged connotation and rough exterior, this perspective is internally warm hearted and rational.  Its foundation is built upon this principle: the fact that you are a human being.  The fact that you’re a person — a self or conscious entity — means that you have will, desires, and an objective existence in this world.  This fact grants you the right to fulfill these actions and to live your life as you want — granted that you don’t trample anyone else’s rights and life.  Don’t you think that since everybody’s time lengths are scarce and limited that we should have the will to form our own atmosphere? To act out on our own individual will? Life is too valuable to be controlled by a collective or a state, and it is way too valuable to be complacent to some kind of authority.  Despite the imperfectness of humanity, his flaws are the seeds that bring prosperity to his world around him.  Through his process of correcting and perfecting, he finds what really brings out his personal happiness.  Individualism, without a doubt, is truly pro people; it recognizes that reality and humanity is more diverse than the fruit aisle at your local supermarket, and it’s as controllable as the ocean during a category 5 hurricane.  Since grasping reality and humanity is as slippery as the jail house soap, trying to control and direct these vital aspects will turn out to be disastrous.  Hence why the individualist thinks the life of a person should be on his or her own terms and will.  Can you really say individualism is rugged when it allows the citizenry — which is just a bunch of people — to mold their own lives to their personal preferences?  I would vehemently disagree.

 

Individualism is Pro Life and Pro Choice

No, I’m not talking about abortion so don’t let the common definition of these terms confuse you.  Imagine that these terms weren’t present in any kind of political discussions, just take them at face value.  The interesting thing about these terms — despite their opposite meanings in present political discussions — is that they are interconnected to each other; in order to have one, you need to have the other.  When it comes to individualism, pro life and pro choice go together like zeppole and powder sugar or hydrogen and oxygen (I’m using this comparison for people who don’t know their italian pastries).  Being pro life, to me, is extremely simple: life is existence, so allow life to exist; thats the essence of pro life in this context.  Since we all exist, we should be allowed to flow in the direction that we want to flow in.  One thing to always keep in mind that I think most people forget — even me sometimes — is that life is a process; a discovery that is constantly in a motion.  In order to propel this process in an effective manner, it should be left to the dynamic forces of life and the individual to figure out the correct kind of order for such a process.

 

To jump start such a process of existence, the person within the life must make decisions and choices to fulfill the needs and wants that he desires so greatly.  To the individualist, the bearer of making choices and decisions should be in the hands of the individual.  No outside forces — such as the government or narcissistic individuals that want to control everything — should have any kind of authority over a person’s choice.  An individualist thinks that self governance is an absolute right that every human should bear.  It is the individual who understands the circumstances of his life, and if there’s any proper decision that should be made, it should be from someone within that decision which is about to be made.  Hopefully by now you can see how these two terms correlate each other: In a persons own existence or life, he makes choices and fulfills actions that he sees to be suitable for him/herself.  For a peaceful existence — or a peaceful life — to come about, it can only happen under conditions of voluntary wills and actions; you can never bring peace through compulsion or force.  Under the context of these terms, individualism is pro choice and pro life.  It allows people to exist as the vibrant souls that they are, and it allows the ability of making decisions and actions to be left up to the individual.  Life is the flower, and choices are the petals that grow from the flower; if you let the flower grow on its own — granted that you garden it correctly — the flower will most likely grow beautifully with gorgeous and colorful petals.  Does this sound like a rugged ideology to you? For the future, keep in mind that the government is a horrible gardener, you don’t want to know what his lawn looks like.

 

Individualism is Pro Cooperation

The lives of individuals have prosper tremendously compare to our ancestors and neanderthal members.  None of this kind of prosperity that we see today couldn’t have happened without the interactions of individuals.  Our will to live comfortably has improved our lives dramatically.  Despite our lives evolving to levels where we thought it would never reach, we still have needs and wants that are not satisfied.  Now individuals usually don’t have the ability to fulfill their needs all on their own, so they find individuals who have the capability of providing such a service.  Giving individuals the freedom to life and choice will breed an environment that would create a whirlpool of cooperation throughout that society.  I think it is common to understand that cooperating with other people always leads to a massive amount of benefits.  What some people forget is that his kind of prosperous cooperation only happens under certain conditions.  Trying to create this kind of cooperation through the entity of the state will create only chaos and even more problems than there would be.  Compulsory cooperation has only given us war, greed, and pandemonium.  Nobody deserves to be coercive into cooperation, and only grief will be felt by the people.

 

Individualists believe in the voluntary kind of cooperation; the kind of cooperation that comes about through people’s will and self interest.  There’s a reason why individualists — such as myself — believe in a laissez faire free market; it creates the perfect atmosphere for voluntary cooperation to occur.  In this kind of economic system, people are allowed to cooperate freely without any kind of coercion, and there is no authoritarian middle man dictating your action.  It is silly to think that individualists are anti-cooperation since cooperation is vital for the essence of individual.  What I find even more humorous is how these anti-individualists believe that a central entity which is essentially ran by political hacks could somehow create this lovely cooperation that they always talk about.  It’s fallacious to think that this kind of order which is brought upon through a barrel of a gun is somehow a form of cooperation.  There is only one word to describe such an order: violence.  An omnipotent middle man is not needed for human action to flourish; people take better care of their needs without the influence of this vicious character.  Peaceful cooperation is never the outcome when the judicial ruler bashes his gavel on the sound block, the peaceful cooperation that I talk about can only be brought through the spontaneous actions of people.  No legislative authority is needed for such a process.

 

Conclusion

Even though it is still a popular stance of modern thought to think that Individualism is a rugged ideology, the possibility of changing this stance is definitely obtainable.  Now if you want to take the stance of being a rugged individual, I say it is your right to do so.  Within the core of individualism, whether they be the rugged kind or the passionate kind, is the foundational building block that has brought us more autonomy than anything on earth.  To me, realizing that humanity is dynamic and elastic because of its individuality doesn’t constitute it to be rugged.  It comes to a conclusion that people are people, they are a diverse and not equal in capabilities, but equal in terms of worth and rights.  If there is anything that is rugged, its collectivism.  Not to say that all collectives use force to fulfill their duties, but the collectivism that is brought upon by the government is most certainly rugged, callous, and inhumane.  Individualism is recognizes that life is a path that can only be taken by the individual, and if anyone knows the right path for his or her life, it has to be the individual.