Suraj Kushwah


Individualism is a Curse

2022-07-29

Individualistic mindset originated from west, making it's way towards asian countries, ruining cultures, families and individuals (irony). Thanks to globalization, mass media and hyber capitalism.

Note: In this article the community mostly refer to your origin, like your family and cultural background.

What is Individualism?

Well it's something we all see in people around us, but hardly understand. It's a celebration of self or individual. A notion that the ultimate unit of analysis is the individual. A self defining, self guiding being. Here the focus in on individual. Let me put in a simple way. "Being a selfish bitch". All these modern statements are the symbol of individualistic mindset -

  • follow your heart. find what you love.
  • do what you think is right.
  • get in touch with yourself, love yourself.
  • you only got one life and you have to truly explore it.
  • going on trips, with wind blowing on face, just enjoying the feel with a quotes having word "life" in it.

People always spam each other's social media wall with self obsessing pictures and quotes where they embrace how important an individual is. In movies, media, news we also see one man is a hero, one person do everything.

Individualism also promote self reliance. Means you have to take care of yourself by your own. This is why kids in US are taught to start living by themselves early in life. Also they are not obliged to take care of their parents in future. It's deep rooted in west culture. It's true to say - this is the reason why west progressed so much in some areas, over the past decades.

Now there is a lot to unwrap here, But first lets understand the opposite of it - Collectivism.

What is Collectivism now?

Collectivism is when the focus is not on an "Individual" but it's on family, communities and society. Basically it's "We" and not "I". Have you seen in anime Attack on titan. When 100~ scouts marched to death, so humanity can accomplish just one objective. Their leader Erwin Smith said -

erwin smith last speech

This is such an great example of collectivism. In real world you can find 10000~ of examples like this. In collectivism, everyone have a role and he/she serve it. According to Erwin Smith, our individual lives might seem meaningless but summing all up - it all make sense.

Now if I talk my personal experience. Over time I realized, not every person in this world is able to find out his purpose. Not everyone can really run into a race, where he or she have to make critical decisions. Some people want to live in groups. They enjoy caring for others, doing traditional business. Some people see their individuality in the context of cultural obligations and responsities. Basically in collectivism - The answer of the question "Who are you?" is always based on the roles you play "as father", "as mother", "as friend", "as child", "as brother".

Collectivism is relaxing, you don't have to figure out, how to live, where to live. You can depend on community. It's much safe and less stressed way. You don't have to do everything by yourself, you just have to focus on your role and that's it.

This new modern bugman mentality, where an individual suddenly deny, his origin, his culture and start doing things just for his own pleasure. Is a distortion of society.

Why Individualism is bad?

Even though it's obvious, here we go -

  • No true psychologist can support Individualism, Human beings are social animal. But individualism apart us from one another. We can see this happening in west a lot.
  • Everyone get locked into his own individual worlds. Other people become objects, that we manupilate to use to get what we want.
  • Individuals aren't capable. Collective thinking is a wisdom of generations. Individual can't really achieve or understand this.
  • Most Individuals just live in their own fantasy land. While disconnecting with reality.
  • Individual is powerless, easy to get ruled and oppressed. Personally I feel this is the reason why individualism has been promoted. So Charlatan can easily run us.
  • Individualism have lead us to corrosion of family and communities. Weaking of bond as family, as communities. it drives us apart from one another.
  • Needs, drives, urges, orientations can't be the central feature of identities.
  • Ultimately we get a huge crowd of lonely people.
  • Ignoring family, community, society and acting like an individual. Is highly irresponsible. You can't say, you have full right over your life. The only reason you are existing is because someone give you birth to you.
  • People died in history, so you can have freedom. A farmer work hard, so you can eat. No not everyone work as individual for their benefits. Lots of job exist, which shows collectivism. Look at soldiers. So instead of being selfish individual, and make negative impact in society or just run away with your precious life, how about you decide to contribute.

Collectivism is the True Way

Most psychologist believe. If you are feeling alone, disconnected, alienated and you want a solution. The most classic, ancient answer will be. You should start with "Forget Yourself". You are sad because you focus on yourself. If you lose yourself to family, community, society. You will find "Who you really are or meant to be?". You will come down to understand virtue, engagement and meaning in those activities. It might sounds like an optimistic answer and a unreasonable sacrifice. But wisdom of ages bears out the truth. As we go about caring for others and investing ourselves, in things that are more important and larger then ourselves, We find ourselves. But if we set out to find ourselves that's a never ending quest. You won't find anything. There is nothing to be found.

Individualism isn't real (based)

I believe individualism, what we see in modern society (especially west), doesn't exist. Individualist are always hypocrite. Here's why?

  • Individualism doesn't support conformity, but do you think it's true? Individualism itself spread due to conformity. How social media distort identity and opinions. Most individuals follow same capitalist ideas. Like "Money is everything". They define their selfish nature by pointing at other individuals.
  • Most individuals end in economic slavery. All together believe in money as means of independence. They seek financial freedom which can also translate to freedom from work. Because most of individuals I notice they don't love what they do. Now ofcourse this isn't idealogy fault. But most invidiuals are like this while being individual.
  • Even though the whole point is having no role in society, exploring your own self and being free. Individuals end up being a slave to co-orporations and doing what they don't love. Basically Society role is bad, I am not free. Positions in companies is good, now I can be myself. duh!
  • If you don't do what you love and just do things for money, you are far away from freedom. you are not exploring yourself. You are not finding who you are. This is not individualism.

This arguments shows, how individualism is just a way to justify immporality and selfish nature of a person. Most of these false individuals have narssistic tendencies. To be honest, if someone truly feel he can't blend him into community, he want to be truly free from society. I can understand his arguments. Even though it still selfish. But I can respect it more than this false individualism.

Some individuals justify balance and say things like, they are okay with community, but they need right to choose. Like, we are talking about reddit communities. No one have right to choose. That's unnatural. You can't choose your race, your history, your family. Individuality itself get enforced by modern economic system. Also individuals are not smart enough to make independent decisions. If you push this narriative, everyone will choose whatever comfort them. Now I understsand some very extreme cases. within some small groups like families. You might can ignore some culture practice. But being a bugman and saying, no I am not part of this. Is just Dumb. You have to take responsibility for your family and community action. Ofcourse it is a fault of community too, if community be toxic, which means they don't care or think about each other. Then this can lead to individualism. But whatever it is. I Like how they put in Mr. Robot "There's an unequal amount of good and bad in most things. The trick is to figure out the ratio and act accordingly".

Idealogy clash in Modern familes

Most people who are individualist sometimes end up showing care for family. Because even though they are individuals, they still got some hardcoded mindset by society. Like "Parents are God". But they are always negative towards society. Because they don't get the idea of caring for society.

Now even though it's very important to care for society or people in general. We need to first focus on family and friends. Now collectivism meaning of family is "joint families". So you don't just have to think about your parents. But also entire group. I mean it's always good to start with parents.

I see this in my life too. My brother always had an individualist mindset, while my parents are obviously collectivist. Now obviously they both lack realization but moving on -

  • My brother used to see him as an individual, so his money is his property and mean to his self independence. He make individual decision by just focusing on himself. While my father think collectively. He believe this behaviour is bad as family.
  • When I go on a trip, I sometimes want to be self reliant. But my parents see it as their duty to guide me, in all my travel plan. Now I agree my parents can make some bad decisions. But if I think collectively and collectivism. I can understand the reasons behind this, reddit is filled with post young people throwing tantrums on their parents because of this nature. But it's just because they believe, their parents are wrong. While in reality its a strong idealogy clash, parents just focus on old school collectivism. While modern bugman who work in coorporations think of himself as an western individual.
  • The good way, I started dealing with these situations are instead of fighting. I just explain them my thoughts and most of the time it works! Now obviously this require some sort of flexibilty in family. Most people don't have it.
  • In countries like China and India, parents responsibilty is to take care of kids and when parents get old, kids responsibility is to take care of parents. Now indiviuals think it's correct to focus on their goals and personal growth. Because that's what economic system also promote. Most young people get forced to move out of families. But in collectivism you really can't do this so easily. I have seen people who follow collectivism and vice versa.
  • I want you to understand the idealogy clash here and how an individual is wrong. Because this is not west and we do not practice individualism here, Parents actions make sense and individual attitude is alienated.
  • I often see my parents getting confused with my brothers way of thinking. Because it's so new. They never saw this individualist way in society so they don't even understand. Now I want you understand this situation is exact same as an individual living by lacking freedom within family. If a collectivism can hurt individualism then individualism can also hurt collectivism. Just like by a childs, point of view stopping from focusing on himself as an individual is wrong for him. Similarly an Individual leaving family tradition which practice collectivism is wrong for family.
  • Other than family, in friends you can also show individualitic attitude. For example - if I do something wrong and my friend come to me and start bashing me for doing wrong. I have a chance to put on my individualism cloak and say "It's none of your business", "My life, my rules", "I will do what I feel right". This is not collectivism. In collectivism you allow other to care for you and this behaviour is considered rude.

The only way you can totally justify most modern youth way of thinking regarding their parents or friends is when you completely discard the idea of collectivism.

More Collectivism

Lets see some simple examples to understand collectivism.

  • Instead of playing your favorite game, how about you play the game which everyone is playing. Now some individual might say but I don't like this game, it just not my personality. But if you think collectively. You will find youself more happy. It's not about game or you, it's about unity. You can always have turns.
  • Instead of focus on being best and giving all your time into practicing some skill. Try helping others, try talking and understanding, how they think and feel. I see most people consider it a waste of time. But thankfully this happen, because, collectivism is more closer to human nature.
  • Instead of doing anything without thinking its impact on society level. Choose a profession, where u contribute positively. Most people just look money and make decisions. Since capitalism promote, individualism and benefit of individual.
  • When MS Dhoni won the cricket world cup, in group picture, he was standing in corner, even though he was the captain and the huge reason of the success. This symbolize, how one can ignore the credit and instead of being narssicist, let the entire group shine.
  • Even in most west TV Shows, they show collectivism sometimes. Watch Big Bang Theory. Notice how sheldon make sure, his friend group be together, instead of being individual they listen each other and work in a group. Ofcourse you can have a personality, but you think in collective interest. You think as "We".

Why Individualism spread?

Look at all the asian countries which adopt west idealogies. If you observe deep, factors like adoption of economic system for growth of society, mass media and social media tech are some huge reasons of how we get the exposure to this whole new west culture. I often see west people getting proud of their idea of indivisualism, just because most Asian countries (for them backward countries) are now adopting it. They believe they chose to be progressive and it's proved by their economy. But it's facile logic.

The only reason Asians are more attracted to west culture is because they find it liberating. Almost all asian cultures are strict, while west cultures are more free. It lacks discipline. If you study Korean, Japanese, Indian etc. cultures, they are all beautiful. But for a modern individual they are hard and harsh. An Individual can't make sense of it, because all he think as an individual. Most asian cultures focus on collectivism, you have to forget yourself and your personal interest. If you like drugs then you won't like a culture which enforce drug restrictions. Almost all these cultures promote collectivism, because this is the true way of happy, healthy society.

Now lets take an simple example - In most rural area, a child never think about -

  • Leaving family for his personal interests.
  • Not listening to elders and creating conflicts.
  • Planning ways to earn money for being independent from parents.

But none of these factors make him feel bad, if he don't see these possibilities as an option. Infact he will be happy with his current situation, if he learn to think collectively. They define their happiness while being restricted by culture without any realization. It's exactly like how a father or mother is more happy living their lives while choosing to serve their kids instead of their own individual interests.

But now if you expose them to the idea of individualism, then all these people - will start feeling caged. Infact in west, parents see kids as liability and fear reproduction which is a natural phenomenon. Yes, I agree it's not because of just individualism but also because of the economic system.

The point is - most youth want to adopt west culture because they find it's okay to lack morality and being selfish. They love this idea of individualism. For them a kid in rural area is just dumb. He might be dumb, he might lack the sense of choices, But whoever build these cultures was wise.

The problem arise, when people who follow collectivism, lack reasoning and understanding. When a individual throw some rational arguments, they response it with just their beliefs. This is how culture have been embedded in society. Even when culture make sense, it looks like a belief.

In reality that kid have more chance of living a happy life then a modern bugman. By losing collectivism and choosing individualism, we just allow us to start living by our own impulses. We often lose track and purpose.

Sidenote - One good example of cultural beliefs is Marriage. Today some people in west even question the marriage customs, "What's the point of marriage?" But if you think, marriage actually solved one of the biggest issue in society. Especially for women. Without marriage a man can refuse to raise a child, since it's not sure, whose child it is. Imagine a world without marriage, women will alone raise child or start doing abortion. Families won't exist. We will live in a sick individual society. West have higher divorce rate. Because of this individualist attitude, it is again self interest over other's happiness. No one can achieve happiness with this sick mentality. It all start with "If I am not happy...", Since self happiness is the only metric people often ended up making impulsive decisions.

Now this idea of caged might strike you wrong. Oh but, it's like I am blind to truth. I am not a free thinker, I am being manupilated. According to me reality, we can never escape this. Even today we got laws. One can never be truly free. We have hard wired morality in us. If a stranger is drowning in front of you, you got no reason to save him. But you will save him because this is how we think collectively. We can't create healthy society by promoting just rationality.

West society is proud because they are economically strong, but if we cross over the positives with negatives. They are fucked up people. Even the most basic unit of collectivism, aka familes, aren't able to survive. They are leading to the most dark path - Darwinism. which "Survival of the fittest". Notice - this is society, not nature. Society is build by humans. You should highly fear Darwinism. No one support it.

Nash Equilibrilium

We can understand our concept with maths Nash Equilibrilium. Without going too deep, it basically contradict "Adam Smith" idealogy of "Best result come when everyone in group, do best for himself". Instead it says, "The best result come when everyone in group do best for himself and group." Now you might get wrong sense with definition, but let me clear - individual isn't a priority here.

Individual + Group is priority.

In a picture below we can see. 2 Players in hurry and one traffic light. If both "go" at same time, since both just care about their own benefits. They will collide, huge loss of both. This is what individualism is. Now if they both just stop. No one will move ahead. The best result will come if they think as a group and one chose to sacrifice. Collectivism.

Traffic light example

Issues with Collectivism

Now you might think collectivism is better in the way I described it, but it have some problems. But none of these problems create any gap for "Individualism".

  • The biggest problem of collectivism brings confirmity. Now fun part is - this happen in practice of Individualism too. (But since the idea iteself doesn't promote this. we can ignore it)
  • One problem is collectivism brings anonymity. Where a person is just anonymous. But this is facile opinion. I find this factor more in individualism then collectivism.

I believe these issues can be resolved, by being little flexible with our cultures instead of destroying it. If we truly follow collectivism. I don't think these issues are very huge.

I am a Free and open source software supporter. I love software build by communities without any greed. Just for passion. I love how people just give away fame, attention, money they can earn, because they have high moral values. I have seen people, who are okay to be anonymous and serve. This is what FOSS promotes and people adapt. I love the idea of Free Society not free from society. Collectivism require emotions for others. You can't really serve others without caring for your communities. I love communities. I have seen in years, Communities can be open and better. Free Software industry is a living proof of the power of the community. Here no one is hero. But I often see some people, come up with individual mindset and ask silly question. Like "how will I earn money writing free software?". This is why it's always hard to answer this mindset of "If I work hard, I want to get attention, I want fame, I want money, 100 'I' later, how can you just do all the hard work in a group project and let entire group be a hero?". It's sad how few generations can get alienated to the idea which is coming from the centuries.

Conclusion

Economic growth isn't everything, What's the point of economic growth if society is lonely and unhealthy. This idea of pumping a GDP number is stupid af. We are literally cutting down the lifetime of this planet. A large number of group in west is not okay with this. Think twice before being like them. Nothing wrong is slow and steady development. Let people get comfortable around one technologies and then introduce with another. Today kids are exposed to these nasty harmful social media spywares. Culture always make sense, it protect, it wasn't designed by bunch of greedy invidiuals. It's a wisdom. In past few decades, lots of countries lost their culture and traditional values. Like Japan and South Korea.

But my rant can't change the truth, some of you might make a small change in your life. But greed exploitation of human being, being immoral becoming a norm, introduction of technogy. Dude just GET READY FOR REAL WORLD CYBERPUNK. I am glad, We FOSS lovers started preperation, very long time ago. So we can survive better.

Free society not free from society.

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