The fight is not about individualism. We have never been part of any political or social system which champions and privileges individuality. I don’t think we even want individualism to reign: it’s too scary, too lonely, and demands constant effort on the part of the individual. No, the fight is not about that. The fight is about freedom from oppression. It always has been. The United States, as an example, was founded by men and women who rightly feared and despised oppression.
Their mistake, or the mistake of the evolution of individualism, the pursuit of happiness and the American Way has been that direct opposition to oppression translated into a world view that ‘right’ is me, and ‘oppression’ and ‘wrong’ is you. Everyone else became the potential oppressor – with the ultimate result that everything is to be allowed, in the name of liberty, while, ironically, nothing is to be tolerated, if it is not to your liking. Hence, xenophobia, racism, paranoia, endless militarism, distrust of intellectuals and higher learning and a desire to dumb down everything so that it is non-threatening (which, very often means that it is simply annihilated, not tolerated, or made vacuous).
This is the evolution of American ‘rugged individualism,’ something which has never truly existed much beyond the days of pioneering and gold rush, and which co-existed with genocide, slavery and constant civil war, both intellectual, moral and military. Rugged individualism is American iconography, the kernel of the myth: It has given birth to Disney and Spielberg, Gates and the ridiculous Texan persona of George W. Bush. It has not given birth to true individualism, because that was never the point, and the sooner we rid ourselves of that misconception, the better.
Don’t infect the individual with the curse of having to be an individual: It is a horrible, lonely place. Instead, ground society in a firm, unshakeable belief in basic human rights to shelter, good water, good food, freedom of expression and spiritual belief and freedom from oppression from the State or any organization or special interest. Hitler founded a special interest group called the Nazis. Monsanto is a special interest group with incredible power (and leeway) to oppress and kill. These are our enemies; these entities are the clear and present threat to human life, liberty and quality of life. These are our oppressors; not blacks or whites or Catholics or Marxists or intellectuals or people who like guns. Our oppressors are those who would divide and conquer us, and are doing so this very minute, through the media, by destroying our faith in leaders, by destroying education, so that leaders cannot emerge, by infecting us with fear and contradiction so that we cannot trust each other or ourselves, by constantly diverting our attention from issues, by destroying our attention span, by turning us into uninformed, selfish cowards; by scaring us into our dens and bedrooms and entertainment rooms and keeping the war going on all levels, wherever we look, so that we are afraid to come out again, so that we accept the Patriot Act, martial law by stealth, and hopelessness. So that we turn to ‘Them’ to fix the crisis: Which they created so that we would surrender to Them.