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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism" (Read 2,399 times)
Just An Independent Bishop
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The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:18pm
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Many on the right have this mythical idea that the country was founded on what they call “rugged individualism”. However, nothing could be further from the truth, and examples of how such was the case would be hard to find. One could use the Frontiersman, trappers, the first ranchers, or farmers, as an example. However, even these “rugged” individuals had to rely on others for protection, guidance, and companionship.

When the first settlers settled on American soil they had agreed to work together for the common good of all. The Mayflower Compact was the first of many such documents signed by all present that bound them together, and was the basis for all following documents. Part of which reads:

“Do by these presents solemnly and mutually in ye presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politick, for our better ordering, and preservation, and furtherance of ye ends aforesaid.”

Thus the basis for America was established as one where people were to work together with a sense of cooperation, volunteerism, and charity.

de Tocqueville is often quoted as saying America will remain great as long as it remains good. He also wrote in his book:

“I have seen Americans making great and sincere sacrifices for the key common good and a hundred times I have noticed that, when needs be, they almost always gave each other faithful support.”
–Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

Unfortunately neither can be said for the modern day America where people quibble over wealth, and contrary to the instructions of the God upon which they formed this country, give more respect to the wealthy, and the politicians, then they do to their neighbor.

http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/article/2007/11/20071119104054akllenn...

"European settlers of the new American colonies all had the same priority: survival. ... Cooperation frequently meant the difference between life and death," the authors say.

To achieve this cooperation, members of every new community had to assume a variety of roles covering every aspect of need. They adapted the institutions and beliefs they brought with them into new models. The settlers discovered that this mutual service did more than simply provide for survival; it also "provided social outlets and promoted a sense of community," the authors say. The new system came to define much about American life.

Without a diversified government, many aspects of society at the time were handled by individual volunteers or voluntary societies. As settlements grew, they adopted forms of government that strengthened mutual ties and depended on individual service.

http://www.nationofchange.org/right-s-sham-religion-rugged-individualism-1355328...

Yet, if every conservative has the god-given right to liberty and conscience, why are there so few party rebels (or true “rogues”) that defy lockstep obedience to a rigid party line? And why is disagreement, even challenge to one group’s holy crusade, vilified by great thinkers like Norquist or birdbrain Rush Limbaugh? What bizarre notion of freedom induces extremists to primary into oblivion minor divergence from their fixations? Had not Tea Partiers “expressed their individualism” by defeating five electable candidates since 2010, they’d control the Senate. Of course, they’d then have to forego this William Godwin rant, “Above all we should not forget that government is an evil, a usurpation upon the private judgment and individual conscience of mankind.” 

In fact, do not warped notions of individualism, implying total mastery over one’s life, represent the motherload for every hot button social wedge issue since 2000? On gun control, what heroic individualist can protect his home and family against bad guys without commanding his own arsenal? Since “evil government” eyes the truest, most independent thinkers, freedom-loving, paranoid militias would betray their essence by not preparing for the enemy. Let’s not forget those gun-loving, manly hunters, decimating all those blood-curdling wild animals, like rabbits, game birds and deer. For stalkers of the innocent, it’s munitions, not clothes, that make the man. Or gay marriage: what self-respecting, individualist he-man “chooses” the “homosexual life style,” let alone publicizes it to the world by marrying one’s buddy? 

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Just An Independent Bishop
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #1 - Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:21pm
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http://www.nationofchange.org/right-s-sham-religion-rugged-individualism-1355328...

The specious philosophy of “rugged individualism” has caused much ill to this country. It has lent itself to the companion myth of “American Exceptionalism”, because the thinking goes that with our “ruggedly individualistic” natures this country has been raised above all others and it is our destiny to enforce our hegemony. This myth has actually allowed us to create a mythology similar to the mythologies created in countries with overwhelming ethnic homogeneity, like Hitler’s Aryan purity premise in Germany, French “cultural superiority” and/or the Serbs vs. the Croats and vice versa.

We humans do have a need for mythology as a means of establishing societal connectivity. At the same time though, when we allow ourselves to become blinded by the myths we live by, we lose the ability to see our world clearly enough to make logical decisions on the issues that we face. To me the scariest thing about politics in the world today is that our discussions and our debates are muddied by mythological premises to such an extent that we can’t hear other points of view, or allow ourselves to consider them. While this has been generally true throughout human history, our species has never had the power before to destroy everything and everyone. Because of that destructive ability it is imperative that we look beyond our myths to see our present world as it really is. We are on the brink of so many disasters like climate change, over-population and water shortage, that we must seek means of dealing with them. Yet due to the inhalation of various counter productive mythologies we merely talk at each other, allowing events to overwhelm us, as we remain in a state of inaction.
  
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TowardLiberty
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #2 - Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:31pm
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An individualist perspective runs contrary to collectivism and technocratic central planning but it does not imply that man is an island unto himself. There is much room here for social cooperation.

But it can only be voluntary and horizontal. An individualist sees no role for institutionalized violence.

The individualist perspective simply holds that the liberty of every individual is more important than the values, plans, preferences and fantasies of majorities and collectives.

With that said, I do not share the view that US history is a history of rugged individualism. As you say, there are many examples of collectivism.

Likewise I view the notion of "American exceptionalism" as just another noble lie of the kind Plato discussed.
« Last Edit: Mar 3rd, 2015 at 3:18pm by TowardLiberty »  

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." J M Keynes

"In the first place, the dichotomy between "theoretical" and "practical" is a false one. In economics, all arguments are theoretical. And, since economics discusses the real world, these theoretical arguments are by their nature "practical" ones as well." M Rothbard
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billy.pilgrim
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #3 - Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:57pm
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TowardLiberty wrote on Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:31pm:
An individualist perspective runs contrary to collectivist and technocratic central planning but it does not imply that man is an island unto himself. There is much room here for social cooperation.

But it can only be voluntary and horizontal. An individualist sees no role for institutionalized violence.

The individualist perspective simply holds that the liberty of every individual is more important than the values, plans, preferences and fantasies of majorities and collectives.

With that said, I do not share the view that US history is a history of rugged individualism. As you say, there are many examples of collectivism.

Likewise I view the notion of "American exceptionalism" as just another noble lie of the kind Plato discussed.


any country, people or group that proclaims itself to be chosen or exceptional or some such bs tends to end any conversation through their blindness to others

  

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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #4 - Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:59pm
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billy.pilgrim wrote on Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:57pm:
any country, people or group that proclaims itself to be chosen or exceptional or some such bs tends to end any conversation through their blindness to others


Every "great" nation has some noble lie that is useful for bringing the disparate masses together and unifying them under a shared history, common purpose, culture or ethnicity, etc.
  

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." J M Keynes

"In the first place, the dichotomy between "theoretical" and "practical" is a false one. In economics, all arguments are theoretical. And, since economics discusses the real world, these theoretical arguments are by their nature "practical" ones as well." M Rothbard
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Just An Independent Bishop
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #5 - Mar 4th, 2015 at 1:39am
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TowardLiberty wrote on Mar 3rd, 2015 at 1:59pm:
Every "great" nation has some noble lie that is useful for bringing the disparate masses together and unifying them under a shared history, common purpose, culture or ethnicity, etc.



I think you are missing the point TL. In this case the term "Rugged Individualism" is not being used to unite the country, rather it is being used to divide the country setting poor against the wealthy. The right wing of society tells the poor to "pull up their boot straps", get an education a job, or something that is supposed to get them off the welfare rolls, and out of the right wings "pocket". Then most often the right will pass legislation that makes it close to impossible for the poor to do so without government assistance.
  
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #6 - Mar 4th, 2015 at 11:58am
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Quote:
I think you are missing the point TL. In this case the term "Rugged Individualism" is not being used to unite the country, rather it is being used to divide the country setting poor against the wealthy. The right wing of society tells the poor to "pull up their boot straps", get an education a job, or something that is supposed to get them off the welfare rolls, and out of the right wings "pocket". Then most often the right will pass legislation that makes it close to impossible for the poor to do so without government assistance.

Well, I agree that there many ways that people are marginalized by the rent seeking of others, but this is hardly a right  wing only phenomenon for there are many examples of these policies having bi-partisan support.
  

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." J M Keynes

"In the first place, the dichotomy between "theoretical" and "practical" is a false one. In economics, all arguments are theoretical. And, since economics discusses the real world, these theoretical arguments are by their nature "practical" ones as well." M Rothbard
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maat
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #7 - Mar 4th, 2015 at 12:16pm
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Same old liberal argument, different format. As with cooperation for police, fire, roads etc...individualist accept a certain amount of cooperation.

This does not justify your idiology of forced redistribution.
  

Social Security, Medicare, Disability, Unemployment Benefits and Welfare are baby bottles for Socialist.
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #8 - Mar 4th, 2015 at 12:19pm
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Social Security, Medicare, Disability, Unemployment Benefits and Welfare are baby bottles for Socialist.
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Re: The Myth Of "Rugged Individualism"
Reply #9 - Mar 4th, 2015 at 12:29pm
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maat wrote on Mar 4th, 2015 at 12:19pm:

Yep, that shows how private property is the foundation of civilization.
  

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." J M Keynes

"In the first place, the dichotomy between "theoretical" and "practical" is a false one. In economics, all arguments are theoretical. And, since economics discusses the real world, these theoretical arguments are by their nature "practical" ones as well." M Rothbard
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