Individualism

vic_us

Banned
Argentina-Spanish
egueule said:
:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

P.s. Cuchuflete and Vic, you are having the most interesting conversation. What a shame none of this is really about individualism any more... or is it?

This was Cuchu's answer to my very similar concerns:

cuchuflete said:
It still is about individualism, in an indirect way. We have detoured through morality, ethics, international conspiracies, and a few other canyons and caverns, but the underlying thread is that of human motivation and behaviour, at both the individual and collective level.

It sounds kinda of bogus but he's the boss (and my favourite moderator)! (I contributed to the closing of someone else's thread by posting a joke so if I were you I wouldn't take on the gods) :)
 
  • gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    silviapI would like to have everyone's opinion about individualism in one's native country.[/QUOTE said:
    Interesting thoughts. To me (this is personal) what you're talking about boils down to being selfish. And I think this is at least partially related to wealth.

    As I've said elsewhere, I'm a teacher. The kids I teach (meaning roughly 7-17) are much lazier, more irresponsible and less respectful when their parents are wealthy. Those who come from families who are working very hard to achieve a higher "level" work harder and appreciate what I do much more. In my area, this means that my Hispanic kids (children of Hispanic parents) and my black students work harder, take things more seriously. It has nothing to do with race, everything to do with class. Where I live, these groups I mentioned are "hungry" to "move up". I think of them as belonging to the true "middle class", although that is my personal view and has nothing to do with how the middle class is defined.

    Regardless, when you are young, you have your own computer, your own car, your own cell phone, your own everything, and you don't have to work for anything, it's not exactly something that will lead to worrying about other people. And young people like this are just little copies of their parents, who have the same values.

    I find it very sad.

    Gaer
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Gaer, I'm so grateful you brought this thread I started back on topic and on the right track ;)

    I see your point of view and I agree with you, the degree of appreciation of life and small things is higher in families where you are still able to enjoy the small stuff, where the race for success, profit and alike is not on top and the value of small things is kept in great account. My point is: that's just a slice of the cake out of how many slices? What's the percentage of people who grow up with the success race on top?

    Please correct my English, 'cause I feel I'm speaking Stranglish :D
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    vic_us, let me point out that the original idea of socialism/communism didn't put the self first. And no matter how hard someone might try, they would never convince me that individualism can ever lead us to a better collective existence.
    By this statement are you implying there are no winners & losers in a communist state? That everyone is equal? I don't think so. The winners are running the system. The losers are the vast majority that cannot capitalize on their talents. Just my opinion.
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Lee, if you think that making and piling up money is the best you can have from life, then you're probably right. You don't have many chances in a communist country. Communism as a theory of course, not what they tried to pass off to us as communism.

    History taught us that people can spoil ideas and ideals, from Jesus to Marx or Einstein, before them and after them. No matter how good an idea is, someone will be able to spoil its original aim turning it to their own advantage/interest/profit. That's the reverse of the medal, speaking of individualism.

    By this statement are you implying there are no winners & losers in a communist state?
    What I mean is stated above. What I was implying is that the capitalistic society is way more decadent...
     

    Nsonia

    Member
    tunisia (arabic, french, english, spanish, basic italian)
    Hello, Silviap
    Your question is badly relevant. Let me give you an economist’s opinion.
    Individualism, in economics, means that individual will, needs and wishes do matter and the community (society?) does not have precedence (priority) over individuals (society has no right to dictate my consumption, the way I spend my money…). In my opinion, this has to be linked to the development of capitalism for which the lack of altruism in the economic behaviour needed to be ridded of guilt (déculpabilisé).
    Individualism is a fairly safe assumption whenever simple economic decisions (consumption, production, trade) are to be studied and whenever individuals’ decisions are independent.
    But when an individual’s decision has negative consequences on the others (air/water pollution) individualism has to be restricted. This is the state’s role: regulation.

    The problems you raised are actually common to all countries in the global world we live in. People tend to think if something seems good for them and technically feasible, it is a right for them to seek it. As if a Divinity is secretly allowing technical progress and is implicitly giving assent on its moral legitimacy. Technical feasibility is turning to morale. If it’s feasible, it’s moral. Think of genetics, of cloning, plastic surgery… People think of them as of natural endowments. Nature endowed us with oil, sun, fish; it must be good to benefit from them.
    My opinion is that all this is the consequence of unregulated capitalist development. You may disagree with this aspect (or with capitalism altogether) but you cannot stop it. The point is to find the appropriate way to regulate it. In a global world, things develop (fortunately) faster and the need for regulation turns urgent.

    I apologize if my expression in english is not always accurateot too academic. please tell me if so. Corrections are always welcome.
    Nsonia
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    Lee, if you think that making and piling up money is the best you can have from life, then you're probably right. You don't have many chances in a communist country.
    The money is not the criteria. The quality of life in a communist existance has far greater implications.


    What I mean is stated above. What I was implying is that the capitalistic society is way more decadent...
    More decadent than Stalin's communistic state. A state where countless numbers of people where pulled from their homes & were jailed. tortured, & murdered. Yes I know, this is not your idea of what idealistic communism is supposed to be. A democratic society is supposed to be ideal also, yet it has it's own issues. The point is that It's not the type of government that is the real issue. It boils down to groups of indiduals taking advantage of situations. Corruption exists in every society. If I were to choose, communism would not be my choice.
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Utopically, I see communism ideals not as flattening out everything/everyone, rather respecting everything and everyone, as in everyone has a place and a role in society, unlike in a capitalistic society where nobody is essential and ethics are not kept in great esteem, just the profit is worth.
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    Utopically, I see communism ideals not as flattening out everything/everyone, rather respecting everything and everyone, as in everyone has a place and a role in society
    How would this work. Say for instance you had a job title which was equivalant to some others, but they were not as knowledgeable as you. They were lazy, did not function as well. Yet, because they were in the same category, they commanded the same pay. Would it provoke a jealousy on your part? Maybe change your attitude? Perhaps cause you to slack off in your duties?


    unlike in a capitalistic society where nobody is essential and ethics are not kept in great esteem, just the profit is worth.
    In a capitalistic society each individual is forced to make himself essential. He could not survive otherwise. Ethics is an individual thing. That is what this whole thread is about. Lack of ethics will exist in every society. It has always been that way. It is a human condition. I don't know if it can ever change.
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    leenico said:
    Say for instance you had a job title which was equivalant to some others, but they were not as knowledgeable as you. They were lazy, did not function as well. Yet, because they were in the same category, they commanded the same pay. Would it provoke a jealousy on your part? Maybe change your attitude? Perhaps cause you to slack off in your duties?
    I care so much about money that almost everyone does better than me :p

    Therefore, I would say: "No, no jealousy, I smile and am content as I am. My position is not childish.

    Anyway, they can't be lazy if they have to work with me ;)
     

    Alfry

    Senior Member
    Italian
    silviap said:
    In short, if something is good for someone but can harm someone else, where do someone's rights begin and where do they end?

    I think that it is a matter of points of view

    When people live together, forming a community, they must create rules.
    The reason for those rules is "different point of view".

    Rules (laws) should say where someone's right ends.

    Problems are:
    - Rules are created by men, and men can fail
    - Rules cannot regulate all human possibilities
    - Rules must make the best of circumstances and
    must adapt themselves to men
    - Human beings have instincts (we are animals like all other animals) and history has taught us that man always wanted to overwhelm people like himself and there is no reason to think that that habit will come to an end.
    - money makes things worse since money means power and people are a attracted by it.
     

    Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    Yet, because they were in the same category, they commanded the same pay
    So what? Why should you care if someone who's lazy gets as much as yourself? In a goo society, you don't do your job well in order to get richer than your neighbour, but because you actually enjoy what you are doing... Note that I didn't say in an ideal society, just in a good one.
    In my opinion, people have the right to be lazy if it is what suits them, it doesn't matter because the case will never happen where everybody gets lazy at the same time and we all starve. (It's like when someone tells you: "oh, you picked a flower but you shouldn't do that, imagine what would happen if everybody did the same?" It's false logic, because the time when everybody want to do the exact same thing never happens.)
     

    Douglas

    Senior Member
    USA ENGLISH
    leenico said:
    How would this work. Say for instance you had a job title which was equivalant to some others, but they were not as knowledgeable as you. They were lazy, did not function as well. Yet, because they were in the same category, they commanded the same pay. Would it provoke a jealousy on your part? Maybe change your attitude? Perhaps cause you to slack off in your duties?


    In a capitalistic society each individual is forced to make himself essential. He could not survive otherwise. Ethics is an individual thing. That is what this whole thread is about. Lack of ethics will exist in every society. It has always been that way. It is a human condition. I don't know if it can ever change.

    I guess I might as well get my two cents worth in. I think the whole matter is whether the state is a welfare one or not. I think individualism is more about production, and socialism or whatever one wishes to call it, is more about distribution. Probably, as long as either is applied correctly, both would work. Yet, I am of the belief that in order to distribute first one must produce. Whatever system is chosen, the bottom line is: Do what the preacher says and not what he does. And, as long as the preacher doesn't practice what he teaches then all this talk is for nothing. Conversely, its not the breed, its the dog.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    silviap said:
    I care so much about money that almost everyone does better than me :p

    Therefore, I would say: "No, no jealousy, I smile and am content as I am. My position is not childish.

    Anyway, they can't be lazy if they have to work with me ;)
    Hmm. Somehow this thread went in a direction I did not foresee. I was unable to connect to the Internet last night.

    It seems to me that it is possible to be incredibly selfish in any society, any system. The problems with systems, governments, etc. come from things I personally see as universal human weaknesses. That's not really addressing any points I just read here, just something off the top of my head. If this is still going on when I get some sleep, I'll be back. :)

    Gaer
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    So what? Why should you care if someone who's lazy gets as much as yourself? In a goo society, you don't do your job well in order to get richer than your neighbour, but because you actually enjoy what you are doing... Note that I didn't say in an ideal society, just in a good one.
    I don't know about you, but I certainly would be upset if I were doing most of the work & someone else was living off of my efforts.
     

    Benjy

    Senior Member
    English - English
    leenico said:
    I don't know about you, but I certainly would be upset if I were doing most of the work & someone else was living off of my efforts.

    i guess you must be pretty upset then. unless you're at the head of your own company you've been making money for someone else your whole life.
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    i guess you must be pretty upset then. unless you're at the head of you're own company you've been making money for someone else your whole life.
    You're right Benjy. That is why I prefer to live in a capitalistic type of country. I can profit from my efforts. The lazy ones eventually lose their jobs, unless of course they are kissing up to someone.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    leenico said:
    You're right Benjy. That is why I prefer to live in a capitalistic type of country. I can profit from my efforts. The lazy ones eventually lose their jobs, unless of course they are kissing up to someone.
    Which doesn't mean you will be paid what you are worth though. I understood Benji's point to be that unless you own a company, you MAY be paid according to your worth, but there is no guarantee of that. And often those who are not too lazy keep their jobs because they have never been paid a great deal, so they are "cost effective" to keep employing, while people who are oustanding and have earned higher pay are often cut, sacked. Choose your word. :)

    Gaer
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    Which doesn't mean you will be paid what you are worth though. I understood Benji's point to be that unless you own a company, you MAY be paid according to your worth, but there is no guarantee of that.
    Perhaps not, but if you know your worth you can @ least negotiate for it. In a communistic society you do not have that option.

    And often those who are not too lazy keep their jobs because they have never been paid a great deal, so they are "cost effective" to keep employing, while people who are oustanding and have earned higher pay are often cut, sacked. Choose your word.
    There are no guarantees in life. If you are willing to work for less you should have no problem staying employed. If you are an outstanding worker & your employer refuses to recognize this fact, I would say that it is time to move on. In a good economy this should not be a problem. My point is that you can do this only in a capitalistic society.
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I have several points to discuss about now.

    First of all, I don't think that the pay you get is proportional to your "value" or skill/capacities. In fact, in my own experience, the people on top are mainly "losers". Why? Most of them reached their positions because their are the son or daughter of someone else, because they know this or that important person, because they were able to walk on someone else in order to get that position, and I could go on with this list. And don't say these things don't happen in America, 'cause they surely do happen, everywhere. So, more often than you think, you're not the boss because you deserve it, you are because of other mean reasons. When you're ready for everything, even to put your ethics aside, then you're ready for a real capitalistic society.

    Nsonia, I don't know how, but I skipped your post, so I've just read it. I agree with what you said. I believe that as long as people don't have a social awareness/conscience, nothing will change. I have the feeling that just a small minority of people have this kind of conscience and consciousness and who don't go with the flow, like the others do. The lack of ethics, morals and respect in a broad sense (respect of the nature etc.) make individualistic people stronger, while the minority gets weaker and weaker. You brought up the subject of genetics. We'll have a referendum this spring about fecondation, which is still a big issue where I live. Some are pro, because a woman has a right to become a mother, no matter what; others are cons because who are you to have a right on anything and everything? Is there a reason after all if nature didn't give you a chance to procreate?
    As you can see it all comes back to individualism. If I am the most important thing, I can decide and do whatever I want. It surely is a pretty omnipotent point of view. This could also be connected to some increasing agnostic or atheist point of view. With this I'm not saying that agnostic or atheist people do not have any ethics.

    It's quite complicated, isn't it? Anyhow, as long as people put their own self first, things will get worse and worse. That's how I see it.
     

    Rob625

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I am a committed individualist. I believe that I am the person best placed to look after my own interests. In fact, if anyone else claims to act in my interest, my suspicion is immediately aroused.

    But I believe in something called enlightened self-interest. I live in a society, as we all do, and society is not just an afterthought or something that I have to consider after I have looked after myself. It is an essential part of my being. So it is part of my self-interest to seek and work for a society in which everyone has the best life possible. I need food and a roof over my head. I know that others need these things too. But they may well choose to eat different things from me. And although sometimes I like to share my home with other people, there are other times when I want to shut my door and be on my own, and, yes, do whatever I want. I want other people to have these freedoms too, among others. If they want to be individualists, that's fine. If they want to act collectively, that's fine too; just as long as they do not oppress me. The limits to the liberty of the individual should be defined by the point at which they harm the interests of others.
     

    vic_us

    Banned
    Argentina-Spanish
    Rob625 said:
    I am a committed individualist. I believe that I am the person best placed to look after my own interests. In fact, if anyone else claims to act in my interest, my suspicion is immediately aroused.

    But I believe in something called enlightened self-interest. I live in a society, as we all do, and society is not just an afterthought or something that I have to consider after I have looked after myself. It is an essential part of my being. So it is part of my self-interest to seek and work for a society in which everyone has the best life possible. I need food and a roof over my head. I know that others need these things too. But they may well choose to eat different things from me. And although sometimes I like to share my home with other people, there are other times when I want to shut my door and be on my own, and, yes, do whatever I want. I want other people to have these freedoms too, among others. If they want to be individualists, that's fine. If they want to act collectively, that's fine too; just as long as they do not oppress me. The limits to the liberty of the individual should be defined by the point at which they harm the interests of others.

    Have you ever analyzed your stand in the light of Dewey's work, looking for similarities and differences? I think you'll find the exercise useful and productive. Just a thought!
     

    vic_us

    Banned
    Argentina-Spanish
    I was also thinking about what Toynbee called the Promethean elan, that is the human drive to assert ourselves. We, human beings, have been involved for a million or more years in a perennial struggle to achieve autonomy: to rise above primitive dependence on the herd. Bet when we get too far from it, we become anxious and quickly return to find collective security, shelter, and identity.

    Nietzsche was so on the money when he said: "Man (sic) is a rope connecting animal and superman."
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Rob, thanks for being honest. I will try and figure out what happens when individualistic people are left alone, 'cause everyone else next to them are individualistic as well, and these individualistic people don't have any money anymore.
     

    Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    I must say my point of view is pretty much the same as Rob's, especially when he says:
    So it is part of my self-interest to seek and work for a society in which everyone has the best life possible
    That's what I meant when I was saying that individualism and selfishness were very different, or at least, that they did not have to be the same.
    I don't think groups are healthy, generally speaking, groups tend to be about power and very little else. I don't like the idea of people (especially people I've never met) telling me that they know what is good for me better than myself: only little children need to be told what to do, because they have no life experience.
     

    Rob625

    Senior Member
    English - England
    silviap said:
    Rob, thanks for being honest. I will try and figure out what happens when individualistic people are left alone, 'cause everyone else next to them are individualistic as well, and these individualistic people don't have any money anymore.
    But I am not left alone all the time, nor would I want to be.

    Why don't individualists have any money?

    Stylistic point: "'cause" is only for representing speech, and rather uncouth speech at that. In good informal writing, it is best to avoid the use of most contractions except for ones like "don't", "it's", "she'll". You can even write "it is", rather than "it's", as I did in the last sentence, without seeming stiff.
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I know, Rob, thanks for pointing that out. I thought I was having an informal conversation ;)

    I meant when they have no money left, you know, sometimes it happens, it's what should be called turning tables...
     

    Rob625

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I meant when they have no money left, you know, sometimes it happens, it's what should be called turning tables...

    I still don't understand. Individualists like me also need help and give help to others. It isn't all dependent on money.
     

    Словеса

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Hello,
    In our present Western society, individualism comes first. The needs of someone as a person come first.
    Is it really so individualistic? That's the question. I mean, individualism is not only about the needs. It is also about persons, personalities, one's own lines of thought. Jesus Christ taught us such individualism; he taught us to think for ourselves and find bases for decisions in such thinking, not in what other people suggest us. When advertisements that work basically in the line "everybody likes it so you must like it as well" have an effect on people, is it really individualism?

    I would also question the equation "communism = collectivism". The way I see it:
    0. Communism, capitalism, and socialism are economic ideologies. The meaning is that they define who is regulating economy, and it's all only about economy, not about politics that are beyond economy.
    1. In communism, the worker is the one makes economic decisions. He decides, talking on the issues with other people at his option, what to do, when to do, and how to do, using and building on the common goods that are available. However, with productivity that modern technology permits such system would not work, because most people are too lazy for it. Plus, in an effective society, production facilities are neither numerous (so that many groups of people can be granted access to them), nor easy to manage (so that they may arranged as a service plants for many groups of people). So, regulating bodies emerge who restrict the worker's economic freedom:
    2. In socialism, the body that does the restricting is (ideally) the society, that uses governing institutions (the state) to fulfill the task. The institutions, in the ideal case, are controlled by the watchful society. The social institutions oblige people to work, denying them from resources otherwise, so that is supposed as a cure from laziness.
    3. In capitalism, the body that does the restricting are capitalists, i.e. property owners. They make decisions what workers should do with facilities that they control; so they govern not only facilities, but workers as well. In that they are not very different from state officials, just they are appointed in differing ways and experience crashes in differing ways too.
    Of course, it's very fused: one cannot have pure communism (because there are always conflicts of interests over production facilities, so there should be strict ways to resolve those conflicts), one cannot have pure capitalism (the state always owns some share of resources). Both systems lean to socialism more or less; socialism itself can be pure perhaps (when appointment people to controlling production facilities is done only through social institutions led by social criteria and not through some kind of mindless economic mechanism that is run without interference of people appointed by the society), but it tends to be rotten because the society is uncaring and the officials cannot be ideal people. Of them all, communism is the most individualistic and the least possible system, I think; most individualistic, because workers decide their life and work on their own.

    Also a random thought: I think that money should not be attached magical significance in the context of the topic "individualism vs. collectivism". The society has a number of resources. A sum of money is just a symbol of your right for a share in these resources. "Right" is an abstract concept without an immediate meaning; so the concept of "money" is also rather abstract, thus complicating the thinking on its topic. Yet, since there is no abundance of resources and resources are made against people's wish, there is a need for making such abstract institutes of right... The question, then, is which shape should we give to these insitutes, but they are needed, it's a fact that does not have anything to do with individualism.

    All of the above may be thought to be a play of words, but I think that it reflects something about some ways of speaking and feeling on those matters...
     

    lettore

    Member
    russo
    Hello all,

    I don't know about you, but I certainly would be upset if I were doing most of the work & someone else was living off of my efforts.
    And then you say you are an individualist? :confused:
    Sorry. You're wrong. A real individualist is someone who, in his purpose-setting, does not care for purposes of others.
    Why should you care what others do, if you yourself have a job and receive salary (= formal access to the job made by others)? If you think you overwork for your salary, find another job.
    (I am hypothesing, of course).

    Someone mentioned "enlightened individualism". As I extend this idea, for example I should take a guard if I see than someone exploits the system, because such action, even if it does not harm me directly, harms me if many people act that way. But hey, collectivism is essentially enlightened individualism. The basic idea of collectivism is that people must consider not only direct harms of their soul and of their wealth, but also make rational judgement about indirect harms to them, and interpret them as harms to the society, and thus protect the society. That is not an idea that I, personally, subscribe to, as I do not propose any other moral ground for taking decisions than a quest for personal happiness. Yet that is what "individualists" usually advertise: what they advertise in reality is collectivism. Collectivism knows many forms.

    Greetings!
     
    Last edited:

    lettore

    Member
    russo
    Hello again!
    i think the french summed it up pretty well....

    ma liberté s'arrete où commence celle des autres
    Sorry, this is not a summation. This is a slogan, not a policy.
    What does 'freedom' mean? That is a fundamental question.
    One that does not have one answer and only.
    I would like to have everyone's opinion about individualism in one's native country.
    I don't know opinions of everyone, but e. g. Leo Tolstoi in his "War and Peace" appears to agree with the view of "personal happiness first". In this romance, Prince Andrew defines happiness as "good health and clear conscience"; I think that this is a brief and not very correct exposition, but I think it has an important grain of truth to it, and I have the impression that in the same work Leo Tolstoi (through his portrayal of Pierre Besouhoff's fate) essentially agrees with with this treatment of that position. All that is a matter that requires thought, so most people, I think, simply don't have opinions.
     
    Top