Responding to "Against Ron Swanson-ism"
Taking The Critiques of Individualism Seriously
Mr. Johnston wrote a great article, and I wanted to respond to it. I will start with my critiques of the article, then explore where I agree. Through my analysis, I hope to show where well-intended critics of individualism are failing while reminding individualists of the real dangers of our philosophy.
The Ineffectiveness and Immorality of Government
The government, at best, is a stale bureaucracy. It uses time and money to achieve specific goals and directives, such as feeding the poor and caring for the road. However, individuals can achieve the same goals using a fraction of the state’s resources. For example, filling potholes doesn’t take weeks or thousands of dollars; an individual could fill potholes in an afternoon for only a few hundred bucks.
The government, at worst, is a pile of bodies, millions killed in the service of collectivism and “the common good.” Without the state, you cannot achieve widespread death, misery, economic decay, exploitation, and violence. There are depths of human evil that individuals (and even corporations) cannot achieve without a state.
Overall, even if it could force people to pursue the good, the state usually has a long list of issues: inflation, debt, political violence, and instability. The government is not incentivized to stay good because power corrupts absolutely. History shows us this lesson constantly, and we live that lesson today.
Thus, individualist paranoia, distrust of the state, and a preference for “individual liberty” are more than justified. Most of our society's issues do not stem from individual liberty but from the state being too large and out of control.
We Are Not A Free People
We cannot pretend we swim in the waters of “freedom.” The federal government is the largest government that has ever existed. It collects $4 trillion in yearly taxes, touching nearly everything, from transportation to childbirth. With all its military might, laws, regulations, and money-printing, how isn’t the government responsible for failing to address many societal issues?
I concede that shipping jobs overseas have not helped local communities. However, neither did inflation, the drug war, the failing education system (which has only increased its budget), and other direct government actions.
In conclusion, if we are to analyze society's failings, we must recognize three things:
Admit that the government is the primary source of these failings
Acknowledge that it is utopian to believe that the government will act morally, especially the larger it becomes
Admit the government creates most societal issues, NOT unfettered corporations and irresponsible individuals
The Failings Of Capitalism, Freedom, and Individualism Liberty
However, I have to contend with the arguments against individualism. Many eagerly worship capitalism. While necessary for a free, flourishing society, capitalism should be subjugated to higher purposes. An increasing GDP does not translate to stable families, strong communities, or even a free market.
Additionally, we should be free to pursue the good, not just the freedom to do what we want. Although we should be “free” to consume pornography and drugs, these activities make people addicts. Addicts are weak, and their weaknesses will compel them to support the state and demand new “rights.” Policies that seek to open the floodgates to vices are foolhardy and shortsighted. Such policies should be rightfully criticized.
Furthermore, individualism can lead to hedonism, self-worship, and consumerism. These pitfalls are the greatest dangers of individualism. Thus, individualism must be the start but not the final goal. We should seek personal greatness to serve our most virtuous selves and others.
How To Prevent Self-Worship
Since the great danger of individualism is self-worship, God and family are crucial keys to reigning in the worst aspects of individuality. On the other hand, personal sovereignty is essential to ensuring the individual is wise enough to engage with religion, free to escape familial abuse, and responsible enough to challenge the state.
It’s a delicate balance that is worth discussing constantly and living fully. I want to be clear that I appreciate articles like Mr. Johnston’s because they are necessary for improvement. We cannot put our philosophies on a pedestal and pretend they are without fault.
As always, the most potent argument for individualism is your own life. How you live and conduct yourself will prove the power of what you believe.
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I’ve been using Good Ranchers for a few months, and it’s delicious. I’ve only done the patties and chicken so far, but in I will add steaks in the future.
I also like Good Ranchers because it provides one more avenue by which I can get food. After the government imploded the supply chain, I realized the necessity of having food from multiple resources, including local ones. Good Ranchers can help fortify your food supply.
Things I’ve Consumed
As always, I’ve watched a few things. Hopefully, these things bring a smile to your face.
I’ve admittedly reignited my addiction to David Goggins
Become An Individual Archives
RESISTING THE RULING CLASSES, ELITES, AND MOBS: A GUIDE TO INDIVIDUALISM - At the end of the day, your goal is to fight. Rebelling against the ruling class is necessary for a meaningful, productive life. Learn how to rebel in this crucial post.
WHY IS THERE ALWAYS HATE TOWARDS INDIVIDUALISM? - It’s always important to understand that hostility towards individualism is not new. Your responsibility is two-fold: engage good-faith actors respectfully and consistently seek to improve yourself. Learn how to do both with this post.
“WHAT ARE YOUR SOLUTIONS, THEN?” - Individualism provides the only practical solution to a myriad of social and moral issues: personal responsibility. Start your journey of personal responsibility by reading this post.
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