Individualism Sucks

Submitted by memo in Anarchism

I just came back from a research project in southern Spain. I lived with Senegalese migrants in the mountains for a few months and studied how they are being treated by the Spanish authorities. These people literally have nothing. If one of them has an onion or even a banana, he splits it between 3 or 4 of his brethren around him. They are probably the most simple people I've seen in terms of lifestyle, but undoubtedly the happiest. I've got a safe place to live, roof over my head, gadgets, car, a massive amount of clothes in comparison to these guys, and I don't feel a fraction as positive or happy with my life as they do.

This is the destructive force of Protestant-driven capitalism that has plagued the west (and unfortunately been exported to the rest of the world) for centuries now. The Senegalese Mouridiyyah, like many other tribal people from West Africa are dividual in their social makeup. This means that their identity is based on the connections they sustain, i.e. persons who cannot be understood apart from the social relations they are a part of. As an example, if a new member of their brotherhood/tribe turns up at the mountains, it is their responsibility to clothe him, give him a place to stay and feed him until he finds his way. I should note that even if these guys are peaceful, self-sustaining (through farming etc) and welcome anyone who comes past their caves for coffee and tea, they are still unrelentlessly targeted by the Spanish state. There have been 6 eviction attempts in the past 5 years, usually involving riot police, bulldozers, baton charges, tear gas, to which thousands of Spanish people actually came up to the mountains, obstructed the police and stopped the evictions from continuing. They are targeted because they live a life that is communal in nature, antithetical to capitalist-driven consumerism and seen as a threat to the sovereignty of the Spanish state.

Capitalism has deprived us of something that we used to thrive in, community. And coming back to an empty apartment with distant friends, distant family, no neighbours or acquaintances that would even give me a call if I happened to be hospitalised has made me realise how fucked up our situation is. We live without a proper idea of what community is, too obsessed with contrived ideas of "my house, my gun, my wages, my land, my food" without taking into consideration that this is a dark and rugged planet, and that life would be a lot more pleasant if we didn't see each other as nothing more than strangers.


You must log in or register to comment.

BigG wrote

I don't agree that individualism is to blame for this. Individualist anarchists, for instance, are completely for voluntary community, just not forced community (collectivism).


Foreheader wrote

I find that liberal individualism is mostly an excuse to avoid feeling empathy. According to liberals everyone is responsible for their own "success" in life and if they fail it's exclusively their own fault. This implies that giving a homeless guy some money is bad because it's his own fault, that drug addicts don't deserve help because the addiction is punishment for the sin of taking drugs.

Anarchist individualism is more about doing what you want without being restricted by fixed ideas. Stirner, whose writings have greatly influenced it, embraced empathy as ownership of other being's feelings. Early individualist anarchists built communes far from civilization and state violence where they lived off the land with free love, optional clothing, education that aimed to produce free individuals and so on.


qinpgq wrote (edited )

Going far away to be independent may work, but what about when they, the ones who separated themselves, want to throw uranium on the river they share with people down stream? Say everyone has a police of their own, and say everyone has the same amount of police per citizen; then what the majority wants is what's going to be done, because the majority will have more police. So basically, the majority's desires will still be enforced, voting or not.

And maybe even there won't be a fight, just a declaration of against or in favor. Bc with that, you'll already know if you'll lose or win.

So why not just go to voting and that's it?

Also, at least in voting everyone has the same weight in votes; while with the police thing, a group more inclined to militarism and less to culture, or a richer group, has more "votes", more police to put in a fight, in such a conflict.

And then, Leaving people alone, or not leaving them alone, is also a policy. Leaving alone other people is also something a group might or might not want to do.

And you can say "let them choose for themselves if they want to leave us alone, and if they want to excersise that right (the right to choose in that matter) to come fight, let them do it", well...

What I said above would happen, the majority's desires would be enforced, in reality modified by who's richer or more militarily developed in general for wtv other reason, and then maybe there wouldn't even be an actual fight, and then just vote and wtv.

That chain of logic would unroll, and you'll end up in, let's just vote to settle this dispute.

So going back: "Leaving people alone, or not leaving them alone, is also a policy. Leaving alone other people is also something a group might or might not want to do."

Well, then if the majority would want to leave you alone, that'd happen, or the opposite if they want the opposite.

So let's just vote it.


qinpgq wrote (edited )

Maybe you are forced to be a community when you're near enough of each other to bother each other in something, and you're forced to decide who wins that discussion.

Also maybe someone wants to attack you, not because you are bothering him, but because you have something he wants, and you're forced to coordinate with others to defend from him. Which, actually, maybe you having something he wants can be considered a variety of "2 people are bothering each other".

And even if you don't bother each other, and are not attacking one another, you're "forced"... It may seem that you're not making any agreements with others, but you and the others are actually agreeing, whether or not that has been expressed out, to not attack each other, you're forced to agree on that.

Like, "letting each other do their thing and not bother each other", is already a form of agreement between a group of people.

Also, I'm not being banned, I'm deleting this account.

Pd: Ok, great, I can't find how to delete the user. Mods, if you want, you can do it, just to leave the username available to others, i don't care more than for that.


ziq wrote

why would anyone ban you..?


qinpgq wrote

I mean, first, wanted to say that with a few words on the internet, intentions get misunderstood.

Second, just wanted to clarify, because maybe say one right winger or wtv oppositor, comes in and says "ah, he goes critical of anarchism in the anarchism sub, he gets banned", so it occurred to me to clarify that.

That being said, I wanted to erase the account to free up the username, as I said, bc I'm not going to keep using the account.


ziq wrote

You can change your username in your settings.


videl wrote

OP probably meant to say something closer to alienation than to individualism.


Tequila_Wolf wrote

I think it does, and so does collectivism, and that it's a false dichotomy, and that there are different ways of conceiving of subjects that include the collective that overcome these issues.


gooey wrote

I had a long journey getting to the left. My intro to politics was punk rock in the Dubya era - I was basically a lifestylist "anarchist". Didn't really have any background in the theory, and because of that my position wasn't all that solid, and I ended up a Ron Paul libertarian (god I was the worst) by the end of high school. In college I kind of drifted back into being your bog-standard liberal. "Capitalism can work if we just tweak it the right way" and all that shit.

But, during one of my classes I did a project where I was supposed to design a conservation plan for an endangered species. I picked gorillas, which put my focus squarely on the Congo and its history. Somewhere along the line, as I read into the problems facing the region, poured over UN reports, etc., it all kinda just clicked: there was no solving the problems the region was facing under capitalism. There was just too much money wrapped up in it - countries and companies paying various militias for access to resources, that sort of thing. And from there I just looked more and more into other areas of the world where the same kind of shit happened constantly, and all this instability and destruction all came back to capitalism.

It became extremely obvious that the system as it exists now does not and cannot solve the major problems we're facing. And ultimately socialism was the only real option I saw. So yeah. Been a lefty ever since. Was very defeatist about it for a while, but Bernie got my hopes up that we can do something and it's been nice to see the movement so energized lately.


EmeraldShark wrote

The school system is set up to destroy all meaningful relationships to establish dependency of the individual on authoritative figures instead of family, friends, and community.