Philosophy Why Individualism is False

LordsFire

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What...

No, this is a ridiculous strawman. No wonder you couldn't wrap your head around it since I never said that!

Recall that you said:


I took this to mean "people are defined ONLY by their relationship with God. Their relationship with other human beings isn't that important to the question of their identity, only as a nice filler."

So I responded:

Human beings are fundamentally social creatures. God created us to be like this. God doesn't call on us to only have a relationship with Him with few exceptions (the Desert Fathers).
I never argued that we were supposed to exclusively have relationship with God. I argued that our relationship with God is that which defines is, and our relationship with people is subordinate to that. I never tried to argue that we should only have relationship with God; if you actually read my prior post, I clearly referenced having relationships with 'family... ...friends, church, government, and other human institutions.'

And yes, I argued and still argue that our identity is defined by who we are in Christ. It is affected by our human relationships, but that is all subordinate to the defining relationship with God. Thus, the most important parts of who I am will persist even as human relationships change, come, and go.

Our relationships with humans is not as important as our relationship with God. It's certainly not meaningless either, but it is in all ways secondary to the divine relationship.

I feel like there's this lack of communication going on between the two of us. So let me ask you again: do you or do you not think that one's self-identity as an "individual" with no intermediaries between the individual person and the Center (God) is destructive to the individual and to the social order surrounding the individual? Because that's what my entire thesis is based on.

I can't say whether I agree or disagree with it, because the language is so hard to parse. It seems to be trying to mash about four things together, and as a consequence I'm not sure what it's actually trying to say.

Is having a relationship with God with no human intermediaries destructive to the individual? No. it's essential for being a healthy individual.

Is having a relationship with God with no human intermediaries destructive to the social order surrounding the individual? That depends on the social order, and how you define 'destructive.'

If that social order is godless, and trying to force godless norms, it will be 'destructive' in the sense that it tears apart those norms, but constructive and healthy, in that it is a step towards godly and healthier norms.

If that social order is godly, founded and built on Love, then it will not be destructive, it will help build that social order up.


If you mean something else by that question, the meaning is not clear to me, and I can't answer.
 

The Name of Love

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I never argued that we were supposed to exclusively have relationship with God. I argued that our relationship with God is that which defines is, and our relationship with people is subordinate to that. I never tried to argue that we should only have relationship with God; if you actually read my prior post, I clearly referenced having relationships with 'family... ...friends, church, government, and other human institutions.'

And yes, I argued and still argue that our identity is defined by who we are in Christ. It is affected by our human relationships, but that is all subordinate to the defining relationship with God. Thus, the most important parts of who I am will persist even as human relationships change, come, and go.

Our relationships with humans is not as important as our relationship with God. It's certainly not meaningless either, but it is in all ways secondary to the divine relationship.
Well, yes, those relationships will be secondary. But I don't see this difference between "defining" and "affecting" that you do. Unity with God is the purpose of our existence and something that all social institutions must be subordinate to, but to say that our relationships with other parts of society don't define us is absurd to me. We participate in God's goodness by pursuing the common good of the various social orders that we are a part of. The Subsidiaries are immeasurably important, and you shouldn't use God as a cudgel to beat them down and destroy them. And that's exactly what individualist Christianity does! If you don't believe me, just look at the destruction of religiosity in the West by modern Christians. That's a consequence of Christians deconstructing all aspects of religious community, including institutional Church authority.

I can't say whether I agree or disagree with it, because the language is so hard to parse. It seems to be trying to mash about four things together, and as a consequence I'm not sure what it's actually trying to say.

Is having a relationship with God with no human intermediaries destructive to the individual? No. it's essential for being a healthy individual.

Is having a relationship with God with no human intermediaries destructive to the social order surrounding the individual? That depends on the social order, and how you define 'destructive.'

If that social order is godless, and trying to force godless norms, it will be 'destructive' in the sense that it tears apart those norms, but constructive and healthy, in that it is a step towards godly and healthier norms.

If that social order is godly, founded and built on Love, then it will not be destructive, it will help build that social order up.


If you mean something else by that question, the meaning is not clear to me, and I can't answer.
See, the answers to those questions, to me would be, in order, "yes" and "yes." This "godly social order" cannot exist under individualism because no social order can exist under individualism. The deconstruction of our institutions over the twentieth century and their totalitarian sequel are directly linked to individualism. It is this attitude that I am attacking in the first place.
 
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LordsFire

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Well, yes, those relationships will be secondary. But I don't see this difference between "defining" and "affecting" that you do. Unity with God is the purpose of our existence and something that all social institutions must be subordinate to, but to say that our relationships with other parts of society don't define us is absurd to me. We participate in God's goodness by pursuing the common good of the various social orders that we are a part of. The Subsidiaries are immeasurably important, and you shouldn't use God as a cudgel to beat them down and destroy them. And that's exactly what individualist Christianity does! If you don't believe me, just look at the destruction of religiosity in the West by modern Christians. That's a consequence of Christians deconstructing all aspects of religious community, including institutional Church authority.



See, the answers to those questions, to me would be, in order, "yes" and "yes." This "godly social order" cannot exist under individualism because no social order can exist under individualism. The deconstruction of our institutions over the twentieth century and their totalitarian sequel are directly linked to individualism. It is this attitude that I am attacking in the first place.
And this is why you are being accused of attacking a straw man, and of non-Biblical theology.

'No social order can exist under individualism' is a hell of an assertion. In the case of the straw-man individualism you believe in, that might even be the case. In the kind of individualism I believe in, oriented around personal accountability and responsibility, social order absolutely can exist.

The deconstruction of our institutions in the 20th century, relates much more to the social elite and leadership of America starting to reject God in the late 19th century, as atheism and Darwinism became fashionable, as well as the increasing hollowing out of Christian communities, as they focused more on the appearance of godliness, than actually being godly.

Attempting to deny that your identity is defined first and foremost by your relationship with God, is a rejection of Christianity.
 

The Name of Love

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'No social order can exist under individualism' is a hell of an assertion. In the case of the straw-man individualism you believe in, that might even be the case. In the kind of individualism I believe in, oriented around personal accountability and responsibility, social order absolutely can exist.
I believe in personal accountability and responsibility. Does that make me an individualist? I'd say no.

And this is sort of problem I have with your argumentation. You shout "Strawman! Strawman!" and then confirm that my characterization of individualism is accurate. If true individualism isn't anything I said, then why argue with my points? Can you agree to everything I said and still be an individualist?

The deconstruction of our institutions in the 20th century, relates much more to the social elite and leadership of America starting to reject God in the late 19th century, as atheism and Darwinism became fashionable, as well as the increasing hollowing out of Christian communities, as they focused more on the appearance of godliness, than actually being godly.
Atheism and Darwinism became popular because the idea of a rationally planned society became popular. People in charge wanted to organize the individualist masses into something useful for their ends, so promoting these ideas was in their interest. Atheism and Darwinism were just common colds. Individualism was the AIDS that wiped out society's immune system.

Are you familiar with things like Progressive Christianity? Unitarian Universalism? Liberal Theology? Do you think that these things didn't have something to do with Christianity's decline?

Attempting to deny that your identity is defined first and foremost by your relationship with God, is a rejection of Christianity.
Sigh. Strawman argument. Look at what I said.
Well, yes, those relationships [between the individual and the Subsidiaries] will be secondary [to a relationship with God]. But I don't see this difference between "defining" and "affecting" that you do. Unity with God is the purpose of our existence and something that all social institutions must be subordinate to, but to say that our relationships with other parts of society don't define us is absurd to me. We participate in God's goodness by pursuing the common good of the various social orders that we are a part of. The Subsidiaries are immeasurably important, and you shouldn't use God as a cudgel to beat them down and destroy them. And that's exactly what individualist Christianity does! If you don't believe me, just look at the destruction of religiosity in the West by modern Christians. That's a consequence of Christians deconstructing all aspects of religious community, including institutional Church authority.
So, in other words, my position is: God is the most important relationship that defines you. But most people are also defined by other relationships. This in no way contradicts God being the most important relationship, because he made created us to be social animals. Individualism's habit of pitting God and society can destroy society and indeed has cause massive destruction today.

When I'm talking about individualism's destructive nature, I'm not saying individualists necessarily support it. I'm saying that it logically follows from their beliefs, and insofar as individualists oppose this dissolution of society, they are being inconsistent with their own individualism.
 

LordsFire

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I believe in personal accountability and responsibility. Does that make me an individualist? I'd say no.

And this is sort of problem I have with your argumentation. You shout "Strawman! Strawman!" and then confirm that my characterization of individualism is accurate. If true individualism isn't anything I said, then why argue with my points? Can you agree to everything I said and still be an individualist?


Atheism and Darwinism became popular because the idea of a rationally planned society became popular. People in charge wanted to organize the individualist masses into something useful for their ends, so promoting these ideas was in their interest. Atheism and Darwinism were just common colds. Individualism was the AIDS that wiped out society's immune system.

Are you familiar with things like Progressive Christianity? Unitarian Universalism? Liberal Theology? Do you think that these things didn't have something to do with Christianity's decline?


Sigh. Strawman argument. Look at what I said.

So, in other words, my position is: God is the most important relationship that defines you. But most people are also defined by other relationships. This in no way contradicts God being the most important relationship, because he made created us to be social animals. Individualism's habit of pitting God and society can destroy society and indeed has cause massive destruction today.

When I'm talking about individualism's destructive nature, I'm not saying individualists necessarily support it. I'm saying that it logically follows from their beliefs, and insofar as individualists oppose this dissolution of society, they are being inconsistent with their own individualism.
You are using the word 'individualist' in a way that actual individualists (barring a few fringe outliers), do not actually use the word. Hence the accusations of strawmanning. If you want to keep picking a fight with that version of individualism, be my guest. You're fighting something that next to nobody believes in though.

Atheism and Darwinism became popular for a number of reasons, all of which devolve to 'men wanting to become gods.' Once you've removed the need for God from your worldview, and claimed the cultural credibility of science to back your atheism, you have usurped the cultural role of the clergy, and there's a great deal of authority in that. This has had demonstrable deleterious impact on not just society, but also on science, as all disciplines of science have become slaves to the atheist dogma of evolution.


Only one relationship can be supreme. If that's your relationship with God, you can maintain your core identity regardless of what others do and do not do to you. They can affect you certainly, but they cannot change the core of who you are. In the social sense of the word, this makes you an individualist, because you do not need other people to know who you are, you have God for that.

'Rugged Individualism' within the American Culture is historically tied to this kind of thinking. You have yet to demonstrate in any way that considering your relationship with God and the core parts of your identity to be your own responsibility, not the responsibility of others, is somehow 'atomizing' or destroying society. All you have done is make assertion after assertion after assertion, not substantiated them or presented proof of their existence.

If a man is not accountable for his own deeds, that is what will tear society down, and we've seen the creeping rot of post-modernism and the like doing just that through collectivism and identity politics over the last half-century.
 

The Name of Love

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You are using the word 'individualist' in a way that actual individualists (barring a few fringe outliers), do not actually use the word. Hence the accusations of strawmanning. If you want to keep picking a fight with that version of individualism, be my guest. You're fighting something that next to nobody believes in though.
I don't know if I believe you. I mean, you say that, but then you say things like this:

Only one relationship can be supreme. If that's your relationship with God, you can maintain your core identity regardless of what others do and do not do to you. They can affect you certainly, but they cannot change the core of who you are. In the social sense of the word, this makes you an individualist, because you do not need other people to know who you are, you have God for that.
Which is sort of the problem I have with individualism. This idea that "you do not need other people to know who you are, you have God for that" is exactly what I think is destroying modern societies. You know what that is? That is you using your relationship with God to define yourself as being against those other people. This kind of thinking has, in the past, resulted in the rise of a Center of Power that undermines and destroys Subsidiary institutions.

So which is it? Is individualism just "personal accountability and responsibility," which have been around for a very long time? Or is it the things I pointed out (downplaying or rejecting the importance of society, neglecting the common good, and attacking the Subsidiaries)? You seem to be saying it's both at the same time, and it's starting to get really confusing.

Atheism and Darwinism became popular for a number of reasons, all of which devolve to 'men wanting to become gods.' Once you've removed the need for God from your worldview, and claimed the cultural credibility of science to back your atheism, you have usurped the cultural role of the clergy, and there's a great deal of authority in that. This has had demonstrable deleterious impact on not just society, but also on science, as all disciplines of science have become slaves to the atheist dogma of evolution.
Interesting. So what you're describing is the displacement of God from the individualist Christian Center for a small group of Atheist Darwinists. And the timing coincides with the beginning of the great decline at the turn of the twentieth century. I can see why you'd be in favor of this theory. However, I do think individualism played a role. I don't think things like Atheism and Darwinism couldn't have emerged as strong contenders in an environment like (say) medieval Europe. The elites were too invested into society to pursue this kind of rationalist restructuring of society, and the Subsidiaries would've been too strong for a small cabal of Atheists to just take over. Plus, I don't think Darwinism is the exact idea responsible for undermining our society either. This is a different topic, but there's a great essay that I'd recommend on this topic you might enjoy.

'Rugged Individualism' within the American Culture is historically tied to this kind of thinking. You have yet to demonstrate in any way that considering your relationship with God and the core parts of your identity to be your own responsibility, not the responsibility of others, is somehow 'atomizing' or destroying society. All you have done is make assertion after assertion after assertion, not substantiated them or presented proof of their existence.
Once again, another strawman. I'm not saying that "your relationship with God is not your responsibility," whatever the hell that means. My goodness. Unlike you, I haven't been talking out of both sides of my mouth. I have been pretty consistent about what I have a problem with. Why don't you understand? Maybe if I put it in slightly different language you could understand.

Ahem.

I believe that individualists are neglecting their personal responsibility to society. They are using their individualism to downplay the importance of their society in the formation of their own selves and their own identities, going as far as to define themselves against society rather than as part of society (saying "I'm not a _____, I'm an individual!" being an example of verbally defining yourself against society.), and thereby, avoiding the personal responsibility they have in ensuring the common good. This is the equivalent of you giving your mother a slap in the face, denying you're a part of her family because you are a Christian, and refusing to help her because it was God that created you, not her. I find this very troubling for understandable reasons. Can you reconcile individualism with a recognition of how important society is to the formation of identity and a responsibility towards the group that is more important than what the self wants?

If a man is not accountable for his own deeds, that is what will tear society down, and we've seen the creeping rot of post-modernism and the like doing just that through collectivism and identity politics over the last half-century.
Agreed. That's why I'm against individualism.
 
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LordsFire

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I don't know if I believe you. I mean, you say that, but then you say things like this:


Which is sort of the problem I have with individualism. This idea that "you do not need other people to know who you are, you have God for that" is exactly what I think is destroying modern societies. You know what that is? That is you using your relationship with God to define yourself as being against those other people. This kind of thinking has, in the past, resulted in the rise of a Center of Power that undermines and destroys Subsidiary institutions.
No, no, and no.

Having your identity firmly grounded in God, frees you to treat other people in a Godly way. When I know I am Loved regardless of how others treat me (a knowing and understanding that is in many ways the struggle of being a follower of Christ), then I can be Loving to someone else, or everyone else, even if they are never Loving to me.

It is in no, way, shape, or form, me defining myself as being against those other people. I don't know where you are getting this idea that it does.
 

The Name of Love

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No, no, and no.

Having your identity firmly grounded in God, frees you to treat other people in a Godly way. When I know I am Loved regardless of how others treat me (a knowing and understanding that is in many ways the struggle of being a follower of Christ), then I can be Loving to someone else, or everyone else, even if they are never Loving to me.

It is in no, way, shape, or form, me defining myself as being against those other people. I don't know where you are getting this idea that it does.
I'm getting this from Adam Katz. You can read this paper for the argument. The main highlight is in the first two paragraphs:

Adam Katz said:
To see yourself as an “individual” is to see yourself as a center of attention, with as many qualifications (titles, formal associations, histories) as possible obscured—the more stripped of qualifications, the more individualized. Liberalism projects the denuded individual back to the founding of society, but that individual is obviously a result of liberalism. In other words, liberalism’s self-legitimating misconception doesn’t detract from the reality of such an individual—but it has to change our assessment of its meaning. Individuals can be removed from their supporting and defining institutional dependencies, which means that the individual is defined against those institutions and dependencies. (Eric Gans sees this self-definition as the project of romanticism.) To be an individual is to be in a perpetual state of mutiny against whatever form of order most directly threatens to define one. Don’t look at me as a “_____,” the individual demands, look at me as… the other of “_____.” Individualism is a kind of negative gnostic theology.

David Graeber’s discussion in Debt: the First 5,000 Years emphasizes the violence intrinsic to this abstraction of individuals from their dependencies. Humanism posits the “human” as the highest value, and what makes anything a “value” is its commensurability and exchangeability with other values—and against what can human value be defined other than against other humans? Gans sees the romantic production of the individual as a means of enabling humans to participate in the market—the creation of an “anti-social” self-representation is a way of achieving value within society (Gans calls this the “constitutive hypocrisy of romanticism”). But in that case it is humans, rather than things, that are circulating on the market. We may not readily see or feel the violence of this competitive self-valuing, habituated as we are to it, but it becomes easier if we imagine removing the (also unnoticed) limits upon individualization that must still exist. What if we were actually to define ourselves constantly, indiscriminately, against every social dependency—friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.? Such behavior would be psychopathic. Moreover, defining yourself against dependencies don’t leave those dependencies unaffected—rather, it has a deeply corrosive effect. Our mutinies always target specific dependencies, and are aimed at extracting specific concessions—hence, they are best described as hostage taking. Not the market itself, but the “market economy,” is a system of hostage exchange, of more and less direct kinds. It is promoted by those with the most to gain by sowing discord and disorder.
 

LordsFire

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I'm getting this from Adam Katz. You can read this paper for the argument. The main highlight is in the first two paragraphs:
Well, that's a load of crap. The most dangerous kind of crap too, because it does touch on a couple things that are actually true, and that glimmer of truth is often enough to convince people that the whole of the supposition is true, when it very much is not.

Adam Katz is wrong. It isn't 'Individualism' that causes this 'my value is more than your value' competitive thinking, it is in fact trying to understand your value in terms of human relationships, rather the divine relationship that fosters it.

If your identity is in Christ, you know what your value is, so you do not need to be competing with others for it. You do not need to try to build your identity up, by tearing other people down. God's Love is more than sufficient to fulfill the most essential parts of you, and give you a firm foundation to stand on.

It is, in fact, attempts to define your worth and value by your place in society, that pushes people towards the 'competitive identity' mentality. Only one person can be at the top of a social hierarchy, and if that social hierarchy is how you define your value, the obvious way to increase your self-perceived worth and value is by climbing the social hierarchy, which often involves forcibly displacing others to do so.

When I know who I am in God though, I don't need to climb the social hierarchy to feed my worth. The social hierarchy can instead be used for other, more beneficial things, like meritocratic promotion of those most productive for society as a whole to higher positions of authority, so they can be more effective at such.
 

The Name of Love

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Well, that's a load of crap. The most dangerous kind of crap too, because it does touch on a couple things that are actually true, and that glimmer of truth is often enough to convince people that the whole of the supposition is true, when it very much is not.

Adam Katz is wrong. It isn't 'Individualism' that causes this 'my value is more than your value' competitive thinking, it is in fact trying to understand your value in terms of human relationships, rather the divine relationship that fosters it.

If your identity is in Christ, you know what your value is, so you do not need to be competing with others for it. You do not need to try to build your identity up, by tearing other people down. God's Love is more than sufficient to fulfill the most essential parts of you, and give you a firm foundation to stand on.

It is, in fact, attempts to define your worth and value by your place in society, that pushes people towards the 'competitive identity' mentality. Only one person can be at the top of a social hierarchy, and if that social hierarchy is how you define your value, the obvious way to increase your self-perceived worth and value is by climbing the social hierarchy, which often involves forcibly displacing others to do so.

When I know who I am in God though, I don't need to climb the social hierarchy to feed my worth. The social hierarchy can instead be used for other, more beneficial things, like meritocratic promotion of those most productive for society as a whole to higher positions of authority, so they can be more effective at such.
That's an interesting argument, but your last paragraph undermined it. Meritocracy is exactly the kind of thing Katz is arguing against because it is, by definition, this kind of rat race to the top. What Katz is arguing for is a return to a premodern norm whereby people are seen as parts of a social order and aren't concerned with Keeping up with the Joneses, but with fulfilling your role in the hierarchy, which is where you belong.

Your idea basing your identity entirely on God is nice in theory, but as I said before, only the Desert Fathers could have achieved the kind of anti-social, God-only identity you are suggesting. Normal people don't achieve theosis this way. Normal people aim for the good within the context of the role they play in society as understood by such advocates of virtue as Aquinas and Aristotle. Human nature as an inherently social element that individualists like yourself downplay, if not deny, in your quest to be as independent as possible.

I'll give a personal anecdote from my life. My uncle is a what you'd call a good Christian. He goes to Church very often, and he and his family's lives revolve around Christ. You could say that he exclusively defines himself as a child of God. And he consistently uses his religious obligations as an excuse to not care for his sickly mother and to avoid family gatherings. This is NOT what God would've intended us to do! Obviously, God is more important than family, but family is still important. It's not something that "affects you," it's something that defines who you are as a normal human being. Fire, when I see you write what you do, I just see the spirit that inhabits my uncle. Using religious obligation as an excuse to deny that your earthly dependencies are of any importance. I see individualism as being antithetical to personal responsibility for this reason.
 

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Adam Katz said:
To see yourself as an “individual” is to see yourself as a center of attention, with as many qualifications (titles, formal associations, histories) as possible obscured—the more stripped of qualifications, the more individualized.
This is the core flaw of your comprehension of "individualism, TNoL. At a basic level, it appears slightly applicable to LordsFire's religious version of individualism, which says these properties are of ultimately minor significance (not no significance as you keep strawmanning) because of the universal connection to God, as such is the primary defining property. This is not, however, a matter of attention-seeking or rebellion in its own, it is a reasoning to actively practice godly principals instead of passive, shallow, belief.

It is not applicable in basically any capacity to the secular liberal form of individualism, which is in fact obsessive about earned titles, formal associations, and personal histories. Those qualifiers to the properties are emphasized because secular individualism is obsessed with merit. What a specific person has done, utterly irrespective of properties innate by accident of birth, such as inherited titles, assumed associations, and familial histories.

These views of course predate the secular, and by some historic metrics liberal, forms of individualism, such as the earliest forms of LordsFire's religious individualism, and gave rise to modern secularism as a whole. When you reject hereditary guilt, the concept of Original Sin becomes incredibly difficult to justify, as by saying that it is unjust to punish someone for an action they did not personally commit, you therefor reject the justness of the actions taken in response to the first sin lain out in Genesis.

And from there it becomes incredibly hard to have faith in God as the thing that defines good, if you are meant to take the Old Testament as any degree of true account of His desires. I find it telling that one of the major statements of the New Testament can be rather directly paraphrased as "Ignore what you're told to do by a chunk of the Old Testament". Hence the various Jewish traditions prescribed in the shared scripture utterly absent in Christianity.

Meritocracy is exactly the kind of thing Katz is arguing against
How does stripping qualifications at all match up with meritocracy? Merit is inherently the recognition of qualifications, as defined by the individual's proven ability. Titles they earned are looked to as descriptions of them, who they've chosen to associate with openly is taken as telling of their views, and what they've done before is assumed a meaningful predictor of what they will do in the future.
 

The Name of Love

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This is the core flaw of your comprehension of "individualism, TNoL. At a basic level, it appears slightly applicable to LordsFire's religious version of individualism, which says these properties are of ultimately minor significance (not no significance as you keep strawmanning) because of the universal connection to God, as such is the primary defining property. This is not, however, a matter of attention-seeking or rebellion in its own, it is a reasoning to actively practice godly principals instead of passive, shallow, belief.

It is not applicable in basically any capacity to the secular liberal form of individualism, which is in fact obsessive about earned titles, formal associations, and personal histories. Those qualifiers to the properties are emphasized because secular individualism is obsessed with merit. What a specific person has done, utterly irrespective of properties innate by accident of birth, such as inherited titles, assumed associations, and familial histories.

These views of course predate the secular, and by some historic metrics liberal, forms of individualism, such as the earliest forms of LordsFire's religious individualism, and gave rise to modern secularism as a whole. When you reject hereditary guilt, the concept of Original Sin becomes incredibly difficult to justify, as by saying that it is unjust to punish someone for an action they did not personally commit, you therefor reject the justness of the actions taken in response to the first sin lain out in Genesis.

And from there it becomes incredibly hard to have faith in God as the thing that defines good, if you are meant to take the Old Testament as any degree of true account of His desires. I find it telling that one of the major statements of the New Testament can be rather directly paraphrased as "Ignore what you're told to do by a chunk of the Old Testament". Hence the various Jewish traditions prescribed in the shared scripture utterly absent in Christianity.
We both agree that God is primary to a Christians identity. He thinks that God is sufficient and our families, friends, etc. are sort of window dressing. I wholeheartedly reject this view. That's where the conflict lies. Unless I'm mistaken, but LordsFire's views are rather confusing, considering how he keeps talking out of both sides of his mouth. That said, Lords' latest argument is interesting, and I'd like to see him develop it.

How does stripping qualifications at all match up with meritocracy? Merit is inherently the recognition of qualifications, as defined by the individual's proven ability. Titles they earned are looked to as descriptions of them, who they've chosen to associate with openly is taken as telling of their views, and what they've done before is assumed a meaningful predictor of what they will do in the future.
Using "qualifications" loosely, aren't you? Meritocracy is all about competing over who is "worthy" based on some individual's credentials. It's exactly the kind of thing a more harmonious social order ought to avoid.
 

LordsFire

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That's an interesting argument, but your last paragraph undermined it. Meritocracy is exactly the kind of thing Katz is arguing against because it is, by definition, this kind of rat race to the top. What Katz is arguing for is a return to a premodern norm whereby people are seen as parts of a social order and aren't concerned with Keeping up with the Joneses, but with fulfilling your role in the hierarchy, which is where you belong.
No. 'Keeping up with the Joneses' is something people do when they are trying to raise themselves in the social order. When you do not feel the need to do so because your identity is not based on the social order, things are much healthier.

Conversely, when *you* are trying to find your identity in the social order, there is more incentive and motive to try to visibly behave in a way that asserts higher prestige, status, and authority within the social hierarchy. Then you get things like conspicuous consumerism, virtue signalling, and false piety.
Your idea basing your identity entirely on God is nice in theory, but as I said before, only the Desert Fathers could have achieved the kind of anti-social, God-only identity you are suggesting. Normal people don't achieve theosis this way. Normal people aim for the good within the context of the role they play in society as understood by such advocates of virtue as Aquinas and Aristotle. Human nature as an inherently social element that individualists like yourself downplay, if not deny, in your quest to be as independent as possible.
Stop putting words in my mouth. Human relationships are not irrelevant, and I have never argued such. Nor have I tried to claim they are 'window dressing.' I have argued that they are subordinate and secondary to the relationship with God. Christ Before All.

I have not and do not argue for an 'anti-social' identity. I've already said at least once in this thread, and as a repeated refrain, God made us for relationships, both with Him, and with our fellow humans.

There are options in between 'all' and 'nothing.'

I'll give a personal anecdote from my life. My uncle is a what you'd call a good Christian. He goes to Church very often, and he and his family's lives revolve around Christ. You could say that he exclusively defines himself as a child of God. And he consistently uses his religious obligations as an excuse to not care for his sickly mother and to avoid family gatherings. This is NOT what God would've intended us to do! Obviously, God is more important than family, but family is still important. It's not something that "affects you," it's something that defines who you are as a normal human being. Fire, when I see you write what you do, I just see the spirit that inhabits my uncle. Using religious obligation as an excuse to deny that your earthly dependencies are of any importance. I see individualism as being antithetical to personal responsibility for this reason.
Your uncle is not living out a Godly value in that. Stop trying to project your uncle's failings on to me, and others.

God commands us to Love, as He has Loved us. It is up to me, as an individual, to decide whether or not I will follow this command. Society cannot make that decision for me. This is the kind of Individualism that I recognize and subscribe to. Society is healthier when large numbers of individuals each make the choice to behave in a Godly way.

I am not 'talking out of both sides of my mouth.' I am refusing to accept a false division that you are apparently trying to force on the issue.
 

The Name of Love

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No. 'Keeping up with the Joneses' is something people do when they are trying to raise themselves in the social order. When you do not feel the need to do so because your identity is not based on the social order, things are much healthier.

Conversely, when *you* are trying to find your identity in the social order, there is more incentive and motive to try to visibly behave in a way that asserts higher prestige, status, and authority within the social hierarchy. Then you get things like conspicuous consumerism, virtue signalling, and false piety.
This doesn't apply if the social order is anti-individualistic and not based on something as unquantifiable and subjective as "merit." What you're thinking of is the social order of America, where the "American Dream" has convinced every Average Joe and Jane that they're the next millionaire, or that of the Pharisees, who believed that those who are most "virtuous" ought to be the ones in charge, resulting in extreme moralism and hypocrisy (sounds like our modern SJWs, don't it?). While these kinds of status competitions do occur in all societies, societies without this kind of individualistic nonsense will fair much better. "The king is in charge, and you are his subject. You have a problem with that? Well, tough. That's just life."

Stop putting words in my mouth. Human relationships are not irrelevant, and I have never argued such. Nor have I tried to claim they are 'window dressing.' I have argued that they are subordinate and secondary to the relationship with God. Christ Before All.

I have not and do not argue for an 'anti-social' identity. I've already said at least once in this thread, and as a repeated refrain, God made us for relationships, both with Him, and with our fellow humans.

There are options in between 'all' and 'nothing.'
Then tell me what you are actually disagreeing with. We both agree that human relationships are subordinate and secondary before our relationship towards God. In fact, I believe human relationships are given to us by God as a way to get closer to Him through our pursuit of the good according to our social standing. We agree on this. Yet you seem so intent on arguing against me over something. What is it that you're arguing with me over in my position? Is it just you being upset I used the word "individualism" to describe the phenomenon, since you conflate individualism with such moral platitudes like "personal responsibility"?

Your uncle is not living out a Godly value in that. Stop trying to project your uncle's failings on to me, and others.

God commands us to Love, as He has Loved us. It is up to me, as an individual, to decide whether or not I will follow this command. Society cannot make that decision for me. This is the kind of Individualism that I recognize and subscribe to. Society is healthier when large numbers of individuals each make the choice to behave in a Godly way.

I am not 'talking out of both sides of my mouth.' I am refusing to accept a false division that you are apparently trying to force on the issue.
Forgive me, I just can't wrap my head around your position. You seem to want to say that human dependencies don't define us, yet we aren't defined against them. They just happen to have them, and God tells us to take care of them. Is that your position in a nutshell?
 

Morphic Tide

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Using "qualifications" loosely, aren't you? Meritocracy is all about competing over who is "worthy" based on some individual's credentials. It's exactly the kind of thing a more harmonious social order ought to avoid.
You don't get to move goalposts when using somebody else's argument. Adam Katz specifically mentions "titles, formal associations, and histories" as things rejected by individualism, but they aren't. The entire bloody reason it got significant at all was because it's obsessive with titles, associations, and histories, because the grant achievements of titled nobility were thus seen as something to be rewarded, and those titles were seen as something descriptive of one's worth.

Inherited titles eventually fell out of favor, but individualism rose to prominence specifically because of how it justifies ego for those in power that have actually done something with it. And the big thing to note is that while the social orders built by individualism are unstable, they've proven uniquely suited to the task of eliminating hazardous-in-its-own-right poverty. As in numerous fundamental transformations of basic "facts" of life, such that we literally don't have context for any sort of widespread famine or plague to the point where a second helping of a bad flue season has led to a world-changing panic and starvation is considered less important that being able to make your own path through life.

"The king is in charge, and you are his subject. You have a problem with that? Well, tough. That's just life."
The King that can rule the United States cannot exist. The scope is simply too vast for a single person to comprehend enough of it to provide any meaningful direction, and the number of moving pieces involved dooms any attempt at a rigid hierarchy. At any moment, something can come up that abruptly removes 3% of the resources needed by a given industry. That 3% can be the livelyhoods of tens of thousands of people.

Your "more harmonious" social orders simply don't work with how... anything of modern economies have to function due to scale. That's why they're dead to begin with, because nobility can't manage this shit. They had their chance with World War One, and failed it miserably and spectacularly. There's too many kinds of job to have any sort of higher authority determining them, and those "more harmonious" social orders specifically rely on things such as the notion of merchants being something truly separate from production so they have severe barriers to independent power bases. But today, there's too many stages of production to split society this way. The merchants have to be quite involved in the production process to understand it enough to sell to the next production process, and get a passable deal from the previous production process.

Agriculture does still involve farmers. It also involves multiple kinds each of chemists, engineers, doctors of the medical variety, biologists who are separate from the doctors, and these each depend on several more kinds of people. You can't bind any of them to a region because they need access to resources scattered across hundreds of miles, and they all require various kinds of "merchant" to tie them together. And the power blocks formed by pure need for the scope necessary to make this work for being able to feed billions of people effectively indefinitely (yes, really, that's the quantities the US deals in) result in a minimum vaguely functional scope of feudal rule that won't be trivially overpowered by just the farming complex still exceeds any reliable possibility of people holding it.
 

The Name of Love

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You don't get to move goalposts when using somebody else's argument. Adam Katz specifically mentions "titles, formal associations, and histories" as things rejected by individualism, but they aren't. The entire bloody reason it got significant at all was because it's obsessive with titles, associations, and histories, because the grant achievements of titled nobility were thus seen as something to be rewarded, and those titles were seen as something descriptive of one's worth.

Inherited titles eventually fell out of favor, but individualism rose to prominence specifically because of how it justifies ego for those in power. And the big thing to note is that while the social orders built by individualism are unstable, they've proven uniquely suited to the task of eliminating hazardous-in-its-own-right poverty. As in numerous fundamental transformations of basic "facts" of life, such that we literally don't have context for any sort of widespread famine or plague to the point where a second helping of a bad flue season has led to a world-changing panic and starvation is considered less important that being able to make your own path through life.
If you were being charitable and trying to read Katz's argument as such, what would you say he meant? Because he surely would concede that individualists are obsessed with obtaining personal status for the sake of self-fulfillment.

The King that can rule the United States cannot exist. The scope is simply too vast for a single person to comprehend enough of it to provide any meaningful direction, and the number of moving pieces involved dooms any attempt at a rigid hierarchy. At any moment, something can come up that abruptly removes 3% of the resources needed by a given industry. That 3% can be the livelyhoods of tens of thousands of people.

Your "more harmonious" social orders simply don't work with how... anything of modern economies have to function due to scale. That's why they're dead to begin with, because nobility can't manage this shit. They had their chance with World War One, and failed it miserably and spectacularly. There's too many kinds of job to have any sort of higher authority determining them, and those "more harmonious" social orders specifically rely on things such as the notion of merchants being something truly separate from production so they have severe barriers to independent power bases. But today, there's too many stages of production to split society this way. The merchants have to be quite involved in the production process to understand it enough to sell to the next production process, and get a passable deal from the previous production process.

Agriculture does still involve farmers. It also involves multiple kinds each of chemists, engineers, doctors of the medical variety, biologists who are separate from the doctors, and these each depend on several more kinds of people. You can't bind any of them to a region because they need access to resources scattered across hundreds of miles, and they all require various kinds of "merchant" to tie them together. And the power blocks formed by pure need for the scope necessary to make this work for being able to feed billions of people effectively indefinitely (yes, really, that's the quantities the US deals in) result in a minimum vaguely functional scope of feudal rule that won't be trivially overpowered by just the farming complex still exceeds any reliable possibility of people holding it.
You really are dedicated to trying to get that "gotcha," aren't you? I mean, if you are interpreting that statement as "TNoL wants to restore the Stuarts to America and implement a feudalist economy," then you clearly aren't paying attention. Should I conclude from your statement that we should have a technocratic oligarchy rule over us a la the European Union? That'd be mightily uncharitably to conclude this, now wouldn't it?

Now, let's actually look at what I really said.

This doesn't apply if the social order is anti-individualistic and not based on something as unquantifiable and subjective as "merit." What you're thinking of is the social order of America, where the "American Dream" has convinced every Average Joe and Jane that they're the next millionaire, or that of the Pharisees, who believed that those who are most "virtuous" ought to be the ones in charge, resulting in extreme moralism and hypocrisy (sounds like our modern SJWs, don't it?). While these kinds of status competitions do occur in all societies, societies without this kind of individualistic nonsense will fair much better. "The king is in charge, and you are his subject. You have a problem with that? Well, tough. That's just life."
So here, I'm clearly going against both the American idea of social mobility and the Pharisaical idea of an aristocracy of virtue in favor of prioritizing social stability and class harmony, not advocating for the restoration of some medieval-style aristocracy.
 

LordsFire

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This doesn't apply if the social order is anti-individualistic and not based on something as unquantifiable and subjective as "merit." What you're thinking of is the social order of America, where the "American Dream" has convinced every Average Joe and Jane that they're the next millionaire, or that of the Pharisees, who believed that those who are most "virtuous" ought to be the ones in charge, resulting in extreme moralism and hypocrisy (sounds like our modern SJWs, don't it?). While these kinds of status competitions do occur in all societies, societies without this kind of individualistic nonsense will fair much better. "The king is in charge, and you are his subject. You have a problem with that? Well, tough. That's just life."
No. You are believing in a fantasy society that has not and will never exist. You don't think there was intense jealousy on the part of the lower classes towards the upper in rigidly stratified society? You think that elitism and disdain didn't flow back down the social order?

You don't think this was the cause of all kinds of social strife?

Social mobility brings social stability, not acts against it. If the peasant's only shot at living like a lord, is violent revolt, then when they decide they cannot take the injustice anymore, they will revolt.

When the lower-class person hungers for higher-class living, and they know that hard work and wise decision making can move them up in the world, they are far more likely to choose that path than violence.

To be blunt, the longer this discussion goes on, the more you show that you do not seem to have any understanding of how human societies actually function, and why. This is not the first argument I've had with you, where I've gotten the impression that your head is full of abstract ideas produced by ignorant intellectuals, and you have had very little contact with seeing how life is actually lived out day-to-day by most people.

In addition, merit is entirely capable of being quantified, when held in its proper place. You're looking for a skilled carpenter? Whose craft is more durable, and more efficiently made? You're looking for a skilled marksman? Who can hit the target more often, more quickly, with the same kind of equipment?

Not all merit is so immediately measurable, but it can be seen in the consequences of one's actions.
 

Morphic Tide

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If you were being charitable and trying to read Katz's argument as such, what would you say he meant? Because he surely would concede that individualists are obsessed with obtaining personal status for the sake of self-fulfillment.
What I'm getting at is that what you put forward is critically misunderstanding of what individualism, even outright atomization, actually mean and do. By placing the sole person as the absolute unit of society, status becomes incredibly fluid because you don't have an order that can declare something virtuous. If everyone is disassociated atoms of social interaction, there cannot be virtue signaling, because there is no widely applicable meaning of virtue.

He outright states that the fewer qualifications, the more individualized, and you have so far offered only a two-line accusation of me taking an extremely reductive view of what constitutes a qualification to the question of how it is a meritocracy, something literally defined as "rule by the successful", ignores qualifications. The foundations of hereditary aristocracies have almost always been rooted in the blunt meritocracy of military conquest, and assuming those qualities were strongly inherited was the first justification for those aristocratic lines inheriting political power.

He additionally states that individualism defines the resultant persons against the social order, that it must form mutiny against anything that attempts to place them among a collective:

To be an individual is to be in a perpetual state of mutiny against whatever form of order most directly threatens to define one. Don’t look at me as a “_____,” the individual demands, look at me as… the other of “_____.”
This is a shallow attempt at arguing against individualism with the "reducto ad absurdum" method, but you have not forwarded any portion of his work that seems to substantiate such a conclusion. Indeed, the passage you have forwarded has zero substantiation, only a claim of such an end result. For the method to be valid, the absurd conclusion must be shown to logically follow the basis.

In discussion of political ideology, this is frequently impossible for all but the absolutists, as most hold a combination of values that prevent the absurd conclusions, with each value acting as a check on the others. It works on the Libertarians, because they are explicitly the absolute of individualism and free market economics. They embrace the conclusions. With the current mainstream of Leftism, the same occurs, as the movements so often trace leadership and dogma to those who approve of the absurd end-states one may use to refute the movement.

However, individualism at large does not necessitate absolutism in the slightest. It is placing the individual as the base unit of society. This does not require placing the individual as absolute. LordsFire's theological concept of individualism, as I understand it, explicitly lays it out as subordinate to faith, saying that the base unit of society ought to be the individual's connection with God, rather than the individual alone. Individualism is a kind of idea that can be found in many ideologies, simply being that the sole person is generally placed above groups of people. John the Blacksmith, not the Clan McCloud or the Merchant's Guild or the Brahmin, whether it be about faith, wealth, status, or any other matter or combination thereof.

And even when the individual is taken as absolute, the degenerated end state is not a pursuit of status, it is a pursuit of wealth. This has usually come within societies that take wealth as a form of status unto itself, but such is not necessary at all. In the Gilded Age, the treadmill of strikes, assassination attempts, revolutionary sentiment, and general hatred of the oligarchs of the time rather bluntly denotes they were not pursuing any common idea of status, they were pursuing wealth as their means to access hard power.

Should I conclude from your statement that we should have a technocratic oligarchy rule over us a la the European Union? That'd be mightily uncharitably to conclude this, now wouldn't it?
The EU isn't remotely technocratic. They're being burned by a migrant wave sustained in part by outright jailing people who try to bring up the data. Their official policy on GMOs is a blanket ban on human consumption, to the point of making their foreign aid contingent on following it. They're a pile of Leftist nutjobs, not something vaguely approaching a technocracy.

A technocracy is specifically a state operated by what would be the advisory positions present in most other political systems. It is, at its most reductive, rule by scientists, but this can be substituted with any other manner of intellectual tradition. What defines it is "cutting out the middle man" separating intellectuals from political power, by having the well-learned advisors become the rulers over their field of expertise. Granted, this has issues with the fact that knowing how something works in no bloody way assures that one can effectively command the use of it, hence science and engineering being two separate professions.

Now, let's actually look at what I really said.
You used the quoted line as the example case of "class harmony" with a society without any of this "individualistic nonsense". How isn't it a call for some description of Monarchy? The logistical issues still stand, regardless of if it's properly feudal, an absolute monarchy, or some strange contortion of a constitutional monarchy. Because the logistical issues are a matter of there being too many fields to have a single head hold any real power over a functioning modern state.
 

King Kravoka

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I don't believe in individualism because I don't believe that individuals exist. Everyone is just an extension of what created them. Any attempt to be an individual will have ramifications on others that makes your "personality" a part of them, ruining its individual nature. To build a worldview off of it is incoherent.
 

The Name of Love

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No. You are believing in a fantasy society that has not and will never exist. You don't think there was intense jealousy on the part of the lower classes towards the upper in rigidly stratified society? You think that elitism and disdain didn't flow back down the social order?

You don't think this was the cause of all kinds of social strife?

Social mobility brings social stability, not acts against it. If the peasant's only shot at living like a lord, is violent revolt, then when they decide they cannot take the injustice anymore, they will revolt.

When the lower-class person hungers for higher-class living, and they know that hard work and wise decision making can move them up in the world, they are far more likely to choose that path than violence.

To be blunt, the longer this discussion goes on, the more you show that you do not seem to have any understanding of how human societies actually function, and why. This is not the first argument I've had with you, where I've gotten the impression that your head is full of abstract ideas produced by ignorant intellectuals, and you have had very little contact with seeing how life is actually lived out day-to-day by most people.

In addition, merit is entirely capable of being quantified, when held in its proper place. You're looking for a skilled carpenter? Whose craft is more durable, and more efficiently made? You're looking for a skilled marksman? Who can hit the target more often, more quickly, with the same kind of equipment?

Not all merit is so immediately measurable, but it can be seen in the consequences of one's actions.
Meritocracy means useful for the purposes of whoever is in charge. It also means that the elites in society have no sense of noblesse oblige, because they feel they've "earned it." I'll also add that which "measurable qualities" are considered merit-worthy is also dependent on what is in demand, no?

I'm not sure we'll be able to come to an agreement on the issue of social mobility. Social mobility, from what I've seen in modern society, is one of the things that's causing alienation and cultural disintegration and is a direct result of individualism's leveling effect. The old feudal orders had peasant revolts caused by famines, but the society didn't fall apart until the kings started centralizing all the power to create absolutist, proto-individualist states. You claim that social mobility is able to appease people's envy, but I don't believe envy can be satisfied by anything.

In the end, it's about what you value. I don't think us peasants should be living like lords, and you do. Medieval societies had ways of dealing with class envy that didn't involve the social mobility you are advocating for (assuming that social mobility ever really existed and wasn't just propaganda).

What I'm getting at is that what you put forward is critically misunderstanding of what individualism, even outright atomization, actually mean and do. By placing the sole person as the absolute unit of society, status becomes incredibly fluid because you don't have an order that can declare something virtuous. If everyone is disassociated atoms of social interaction, there cannot be virtue signaling, because there is no widely applicable meaning of virtue.

He outright states that the fewer qualifications, the more individualized, and you have so far offered only a two-line accusation of me taking an extremely reductive view of what constitutes a qualification to the question of how it is a meritocracy, something literally defined as "rule by the successful", ignores qualifications. The foundations of hereditary aristocracies have almost always been rooted in the blunt meritocracy of military conquest, and assuming those qualities were strongly inherited was the first justification for those aristocratic lines inheriting political power.
I think here you make some good points. Our society is obsessed with status hierarchies, with this "Keeping up with the Joneses," and people always look at your scientific credentials to see if it's okay to believe what you say. However, it's also obsessed with spreading this status to everyone and tearing down these hierarchies. Modern individualists often place vulgar (and even positively immoral) cultural material on par with high art while supposing that everyone could be made to appreciate literature, fine art, and music if the state gave more funding to public radio or something. Notice how the emphasis is on getting everyone (or at least, as many people as possible) into college.

I think that, if anything defines our modern era, it's the attempt to have virtue and morality without a social order. This is easily seen in the prominence of "Veil of Ignorance"-based moral systems like Rawlsian Liberalism and Libertarianism. The resulting incoherence of these philosophies practiced in the real world is a failure of the systems in question. In fact, critical social justice is perhaps the most explicit examples of this; it's an ideology that pits virtue (that's the "social justice" part) against social orders (that's the "critical" part). The irony of this ideology is that it's required that all the fashionable people of our society pay deference to it. An explicitly anti-social ideology has embedded itself as the justifying ideology of our modern society while anti-social losers on the Internet like myself proclaim the importance of community and social order. It's one of those ironies that you sort of expect postmodern times like our own.

Would disagree with Robert Nisbet's assertion that individualism leads to atomization, and this, in turn, leads to totalitarian collectivism?

He additionally states that individualism defines the resultant persons against the social order, that it must form mutiny against anything that attempts to place them among a collective.

This is a shallow attempt at arguing against individualism with the "reducto ad absurdum" method, but you have not forwarded any portion of his work that seems to substantiate such a conclusion. Indeed, the passage you have forwarded has zero substantiation, only a claim of such an end result. For the method to be valid, the absurd conclusion must be shown to logically follow the basis.

In discussion of political ideology, this is frequently impossible for all but the absolutists, as most hold a combination of values that prevent the absurd conclusions, with each value acting as a check on the others. It works on the Libertarians, because they are explicitly the absolute of individualism and free market economics. They embrace the conclusions. With the current mainstream of Leftism, the same occurs, as the movements so often trace leadership and dogma to those who approve of the absurd end-states one may use to refute the movement.

However, individualism at large does not necessitate absolutism in the slightest. It is placing the individual as the base unit of society. This does not require placing the individual as absolute. LordsFire's theological concept of individualism, as I understand it, explicitly lays it out as subordinate to faith, saying that the base unit of society ought to be the individual's connection with God, rather than the individual alone. Individualism is a kind of idea that can be found in many ideologies, simply being that the sole person is generally placed above groups of people. John the Blacksmith, not the Clan McCloud or the Merchant's Guild or the Brahmin, whether it be about faith, wealth, status, or any other matter or combination thereof.

And even when the individual is taken as absolute, the degenerated end state is not a pursuit of status, it is a pursuit of wealth. This has usually come within societies that take wealth as a form of status unto itself, but such is not necessary at all. In the Gilded Age, the treadmill of strikes, assassination attempts, revolutionary sentiment, and general hatred of the oligarchs of the time rather bluntly denotes they were not pursuing any common idea of status, they were pursuing wealth as their means to access hard power.
The same people who were most famous for hating the oligarchs were the well-off progressive activists of the era, but I can see your point. Still, hard power brings with it status. It raises your status in the world by virtue of making you unassailable.

I KNOW that LordsFire rejects my assertions about his individualism, but if his individualism denies that the individual is, in large part, defined by their relationships with other human beings, then it suffers from the same problems. He seems to want to have his cake and eat it too, but he's in a similar position to the libertarian who thinks parents have a positive duty towards their children; his individualism clashes with the reality of inherent human sociality. Thing is, it'd be so easy for him to reconcile the two, to moderate individualism so that it wouldn't have the problems I'm pointing out. Embracing the common good and inherent human sociality could be reconciled with the traits he likes about individualism. I might disagree with his result, but I'd have to admit that his individualism wouldn't have the problems I'm pointing out.

The EU isn't remotely technocratic. They're being burned by a migrant wave sustained in part by outright jailing people who try to bring up the data. Their official policy on GMOs is a blanket ban on human consumption, to the point of making their foreign aid contingent on following it. They're a pile of Leftist nutjobs, not something vaguely approaching a technocracy.

A technocracy is specifically a state operated by what would be the advisory positions present in most other political systems. It is, at its most reductive, rule by scientists, but this can be substituted with any other manner of intellectual tradition. What defines it is "cutting out the middle man" separating intellectuals from political power, by having the well-learned advisors become the rulers over their field of expertise. Granted, this has issues with the fact that knowing how something works in no bloody way assures that one can effectively command the use of it, hence science and engineering being two separate professions.
Yes, it is.

Parliament's initiative rights In the legislative processes in EU Member States (MS), alongside governments, national parliaments too are empowered to propose legislation, either through a certain number of Members of Parliament, a political party group or even individual Members. At EU level, in contrast, the right to initiate legislation is reserved almost entirely for the European Commission (EC) (Article 17(2) TFEU).

It is suggested that the EC's initiative monopoly was originally rooted in the mistrust of the political process in post-war Europe. As a consequence, European integration and the identification of the "general interest" of the Communities were entrusted to a technocratic authority, whose decisions were to be legitimated by its expertise and performance.
Technocracy is "rule by scientific managers," with no guarantee that the managers in question will be competent. I don't think that jailing people who bring up data is necessarily anti-technocratic if the data undermines the legitimacy of the technocratic rule.

You used the quoted line as the example case of "class harmony" with a society without any of this "individualistic nonsense". How isn't it a call for some description of Monarchy? The logistical issues still stand, regardless of if it's properly feudal, an absolute monarchy, or some strange contortion of a constitutional monarchy. Because the logistical issues are a matter of there being too many fields to have a single head hold any real power over a functioning modern state.
What I'm talking about is restoring a sense of sovereignty among the people. Instead of embracing the lie that we the people consented to have the people in charge be in charge or that the people in charge "deserve" to be in charge by virtue of their merit.
 
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