Individuals without Individuality
Looked at in a certain way, how could there not be a relationship? I mean, if cannibals could vote, they'd no doubt vote for a cannibal king. Which is to say, if given a choice, people relate to a leader who reflects their own level of development.
Hollander gets into one of our favorite subjects, which is the historical emergence of the individual in the Christian west. Obviously this affects everything from marriage to politics -- from the most intimate to the most public. For example, he references one scholar who notes that "For most of history it was inconceivable that people would choose their mates on the basis of something as fragile and irrational as love."
The first thing that occurs to me is that the ideas of choosing one's mate and choosing one's leaders emerge at around the same time. I wonder which was the leading edge, the personal or political? Both are predicated on awareness of the individual, of an interior horizon that is autonomous and relatively free from group coercion. For most of human history, people did not experience themselves in this way. Rather, they were embedded in networks of kinship, class, occupation, and certainly gender. No one wondered if he was a man or woman, let alone 37 other flavors.
In a certain sense you could say that people were more objective than subjective. Perhaps the earliest appearance of the latter turn is Augustine's Confessions, in which he reflects upon his own psychic interior. But he was the leading edge a phenomenon that didn't become more widespread until the 16th century or so. Only as people begin to be liberated from rigid roles do they start noticing the interior world -- that it is a world in its own right.
Interesting that if we fast forward to contemporary times, it is as if people believe there is only the subjective world, such that there is no objective limit to who or what they can be. Thus, a man can indeed be a woman, or those 37 other supposed genders. But why limit the number? Once you have detached yourself from any objective world, relativism and subjectivism are absolute.
I wonder if this goes to why our precious college snowflakes are having such difficulty assimilating the fact that the world is different from their subjective fantasies? On the one hand, their subjectivism is total; but for the same reason they cannot accept anyone else's view of reality. Rather, they flock with people who are completely likeminded, and who reflect their own subjectivism back to them. Therefore, they're back in the rigid and more developmentally primitive world from which we first individuated several hundred years ago!
This reminds me of an observation by Theodore Dalrymple. I'll paraphrase, but he points out that our postmodern snowflakes have self-exposure without self-reflection, frivolity without gaiety, earnestness without seriousness, and ultimately individualism without individuality.
Individuals without individuality. I think we're finally on to something here. Think, for example, of Cuba. The recently departed Castro was literally the only person on that slackforsaken island who was free to be himself. Everyone else was permitted to be as unique as an ant. There is a type of man "whose absolute freedom requires that he should accept no limits.." But "Starting with absolute freedom, I end with absolute tyranny" (ibid.).
But how is this different in principle from our college campuses, where one is free to think or say anything, so long as it reflects a far-left ideology? Here again, it is as if man starts out embedded in the group matrix and gradually emancipates himself from it, only to regress and re-merge with it. Thus, while the series premodern tradition --> modern liberalism --> postmodern leftist resembles a line, it is really a circle.
This is precisely what happened to Germany during the Hitler era. How, people wonder, could the world's most modern and liberal culture plunge into such primitive barbarism? Easy: it's what comes after (classical, not left) liberalism. As in Cuba, there was only one individual: Hitler. And there was one group: Germans. Individualism had absolutely nothing to do with it. Indeed, it was thought of as a desiccated Jewish abstraction, Jews representing a people who stubbornly maintained their identity apart from the larger group.
Reminds me of how Gil Bailie (or maybe Rene Girard) described human sacrifice: unanimity minus one. The Jews were the "minus one." (Although so too were any groups or individuals distinct from the German ideal.)
The point is, there are two ways to lose our individuality, the premodern and the postmodern. Of the latter, Dalrymple writes that "people are no longer born into a social role that they are assigned to fill until they die, simply by virtue of having been born in a certain place to certain parents. In theory, at least, every man in a modern society is master of his own fate. Where he ends up is a matter of his own choice and merit."
Deepak's latest nonsense is a fine example of the no-limits-to-subjectism model. Bear in mind that he is one of those pigs who squealed the loudest when his preferred candidate lost the recent election. How does this square with the idea that we invent our own reality? Don't ask.
Here are a few of his twenty principles of reality, but the very first one contradicts the idea that there can be any stable, objective reality at all: "Always think unlimited possibilities. Infinity exists in all directions."
Moreover, "Your only identity is I am, undefined and infinite. Any label you give yourself limits you" -- which is the death of identity, precisely.
"Be your own best friend by forgiving yourself and dropping self-judgment." Er, what self? Besides, in our view, objective self-judgment is not only absolutely necessary, it is the essence of a functioning maturity.
This one really sums it up: "Emotional intelligence begins when you feel without labels or evaluation." No, emotional stupidity returns when we cannot discriminate, label, and prioritize our emotions. Isn't this the the whole catastrophe the left is dealing with, a primitive release of ungoverned and preliterate emotionality? Dalrymple:
"The cultural development in question is the systematic over-estimation of the importance not so much of emotion, as of the expression of emotion -- one's own emotion, that is. The manner with which something is said has come to be more important than what is said. Saying nothing, but with sufficient emotional vehemence or appearance of sincerity, has become the mark of the serious man. Our politicians are, in effect, psychobabblers because we are psychobabblers; not the medium, but the emotion, is the message."
No one should take, say, chocolate commie cueball Van Jones' -- or any other traumatized leftist's -- public tears (or rage, or grief) seriously, least of all Van Jones. When it comes to coping with objective reality, our feelings are none of our business.