The current culture fight between groups, people subsumed into a common identity and self-policing one another, and individuals, those who can’t or won’t submit to this world view and — by that one fact — must fight to hold their ground if ever coming up against a group’s public agenda.
Historically we’ve been through an unusually long period of individual freedom. Feudal meritocracy had its advantages and what with the Enlightenment and a non-landed middle class, the individual has had a long time in the sun. The advance and success of science and representative democracy have long been accepted as a proof this is the way human society should order itself.
Attempts to crush individual freedom under the violent heel of totalitarian rule have failed repeatedly, demonstrating both the strengths of democracy — least of all evils — and the limits of individual capability i.e. vast power is corrupting and impossible to keep in check.
20TH CENTURY INDIVIDUALISM AND CULTURAL NEOLIBERALISM
The 20th Century was an individualistic century on the whole and we live in the shadow of its expectations and its cultural habits today in 2019. What’s worth thinking about, however, is the standout exception from the last century; the first sociologically mature manifestation of group power dynamics and how it asserted its identity power against those perceived as enemies of the majority. It goes without saying this is the Nazis in Germany during the 1930s.
Untermensch thinking: it’s us versus them, we matter, they’re inferior, we are individuals, they are all the same. Mass propaganda. Group identities: people subordinated to a perverse reciprocity of conformist behaviour, training each other to a definition of excellence that’s synonymous with homogeny. Outliers, cast outs, divergent personalities: these abominations soon find themselves hiding their true selves and often forced to emigrate, voluntarily (or forcibly) excluded from the group. It’s a case of individuality facing a mob that increasingly resembles a machine.
Indeed, Nazi Germany’s paradigm for Germany was a mass-assembled Aryan macro-organism, working under direction to fight a World War. Individuals become gremlins, bugs to be squashed without mercy. It doesn’t take long for untermensch thinking to grow ambitious, targeting whole minorities with the same merciless exclupation as the only efficient solution. Six million Jews were enough to justify the Nazi conceit it was the “final solution”.
America’s bankrupt victory, fear mass control, money dominating, tin horn patriot turned to a compliment. The seeds of today were sewn 50 years ago. Flag waving American identity rarely challenged — once because you’d have to be an asshole to cuss individuals and there was no group identity. The props got appropriated and they’re the same today. The use is utterly changed.
Not so shocking the slow decreasing hold of the Republicans has driven them to push harder on proven tactics for mob control. Trump is the latest manifestation. Fertile ground. The left had previously understood this was not a good button to push but the most extreme leftists like Antifa were less principled. They seized on the territory least contested: minorities. They pressed home their drive for a share of power by making up for less numbers with greater commitment; and this means more absolute rigid rulesets for the group identity violently enforced.
America is a nation fighting the latest battle in a war for what the country means. It’s either the uniform march of huge populationd, grouped by identity but united under a flag and a nationalism that makes what’s decreed American automatically what’s right. Or it returns for the pre-Cold War meaning: an escape from nationalism and countries with flags and kings and dictators and cultural serfdom. That’s what people fled from. America was a beacon of freedom not because you could get rich but because you could live free. The profit motive in the American dream became a useful later addition, in part to sell the consumerism of the 50s and after.
AMERICA HIJACKED BY THE CAPITAL AND POWER OF OLD WHITE MEN
This battle for the American heart is the fuel stoked by left and right, one group versus another. The details are worth looking into, especially with the Left where the Ubermensch is a diverse spectrum of flags. But at root it’s not going to be a solution to simply satisfy today’s demands of a particular Left group (bathrooms for trans) or to make the Right less jingoistic by them being a little richer in their day to day life. These are symptoms. Maybe solving them will buy time but it isn’t doing surgery on the causes.
Social media is also not the cause. It’s an incubator for diseased thinking certainly but shutting down or censoring social media won’t solve things either.
American becoming hijacked by post-war narcissism is the infection that’s gone viral. The bigger the population the less each individual can be empowered in a firsthand way yet this leaves a vacuum for a brain taught it’s exceptional. Right wing working class losing quality of life and powerless in a confusing world — what medicine for the narcissist but flags and guns? Left wing minority identities liberated by the cultural upper hand asserts itself violently to express the self same narcissism. You might be queer but in a group strength can be found.
Who’s the easiest target for groups driven to express this narcissism? Individuals. Their very existence undermines the choice by questioning it. Their weakness can be exploited for fear their strength might be allowed to expose the group conceit, whichever ones a specific group has used for its flag colours.
Free America from the corrupted appropriated America it has been forced to represent. Understand the extent of this perversion, turning one of the most beautiful real-world embodiments of nationhood into a vast mechanism for exploitation, crowd management and mass subjegation. Look no further than Roosevelt’s suppressed Second Bill Of Rights (per State of the Union address in 1944) at http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/address_text.html. This was the just reward for the returning heroes, victorious in Europe and the Pacific, defending America and the free world from the menace of fascism and imperialist ambition.
Roosevelt’s death and the entrenched interests controlling Congress shredded the Second Bill Of Rights and buried Roosevelt’s speech for decades. A choice was made. It was a choice that sold out the American people and sold them Cold War fear and communist conspiracies instead. This tragedy has been playing out this past 60–70 years and we have yet to reach its denouement. The Left versus Right culture wars, the resentful self-harm of the Midwest, the organised extremism of the religious heartland: all of these are symptoms, not causes. Misguided, yes, understandably so. How do we haul the needle back to 1944 and to Roosevelt’s simple blueprint of fundamental equality, with so many obstacles and misconceptions in the way?
Expose the bullshit in exceptionalism and ironically you fatally undermine the groups. It’s a fantasy exceptionalism, at best a case of unearned pride on the shoulders of silent generation sacrifice and heroism.
Individualism must come from reality not fantasy. If mustn’t be propped by some new set of conceits because eventually these will be exposed and forced into active hypocrisy to stay self-important enough to satisfy the narcissistic parasite.
Don’t tell me what it means to be American. Shoot yourself if you talk in terms of unAmerican. There’s few things more depressing then self congratulatory liberals railing against the groups and touting the importance of individual nuance; then as if too outlier for comfort, move on to letting play the same narcissism by “we” and America and lucky and greatness. It isn’t true and the fantasy is something an intelligent outlier is criminal to indulge. Moreover if they can’t escape the coarse narcissistic conditioning what hope the rest of the United States and what fucking right do they have to trash talk identity politics or Antifa or MAGA or Trumpkins.
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Malcolm X