Life as Perpetual Misery Machine

General Category => What Now? => Topic started by: Silenus on June 09, 2019, 08:19:13 am

Title: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Silenus on June 09, 2019, 08:19:13 am
Individualism is the sentiment of a profound, irreducible antinomy between the individual and society. The individualist is he who, by virtue of his temperament, is predisposed to feel in a particularly acute fashion the ineluctable disharmonies between his intimate being and his social milieu. At the same time, he is a man for whom life has reserved some decisive occasion to remark this disharmony. Whether through brutality, or the continuity of his experiences, for him it has become clear that for the individual society is a perpetual creator of constraints, humiliations and miseries, a kind of continuous generation of human pain. In the name of his own experience and his personal sensation of life the individualist feels he has the right to relegate to the rank of utopia any ideal of a future society where the hoped-for harmony between the individual and society will be established. Far from the development of society diminishing evil, it does nothing but intensify it by rendering the life of the individual more complicated, more laborious and more difficult in the middle of the thousand gears of an increasingly tyrannical social mechanism. Science itself, by intensifying within the individual the consciousness of the vital conditions made for him by society, arrives only at darkening his intellectual and moral horizons. Qui auget scientiam augel et dolorem.

We see that individualism is essentially a social pessimism. Under its most moderate form it admits that if life in society is not an absolute evil and completely destructive of individuality, for the individualist is at the very least a restrictive and oppressive condition, a necessary evil and a last resort.

The individualists who respond to this description form a small morose group whose rebellious, resigned or hopeless words contrast with the fanfares for the future of optimistic sociologists. It is Vigny saying: “The social order is always bad. From time to time it is bearable. Between bad and bearable the dispute isn’t worth a drop of blood.” It’s Schopenhauer seeing social life as the supreme flowering of human pain and evil. It’s Stirner with his intellectual and moral solipsism perpetually on his guard against the duperies of social idealism and the intellectual and moral crystallization with which every organized society threatens the individual. It is, at certain moments, an Amiel with his painful stoicism that perceives society as a limitation and a restriction of his free spiritual nature. It’s a David Thoreau, the extremist disciple of Emerson, that “student of nature,” deciding to stray from the ordinary paths of human activity and to become a “wanderer,” worshipping independence and dreams. A “wanderer whose every minute will be filled with more work than the entire lives of many men with occupations.” It’s a Challemel-Lacour with his pessimistic conception of society and progress. It is perhaps, at certain moments, a Tarde, with an individualism colored with misanthropy that he somewhere expresses: “It is possible that the flux of imitation has its banks and that, by the very effect of its excessive deployment, the need for sociability diminishes or rather alters and transforms itself into a kind of general misanthropy, very compatible, incidentally, with a moderate commercial circulation and a certain activity of industrial exchanges reduced to the strict necessary, but above all appropriate to reinforcing in each of us the distinctive traits of our inner individuality.”

Even among those who, like M. Maurice Barrès, by dilettantism and artistic posture, are averse to the accents of sharp revolt or discouraged pessimism, individualism remains a sentiment of “the impossibility that exists of harmonizing the private and the general I.” It’s a determination to set free the first I, to cultivate it in what it has of the most special, the most advanced, the most rummaged through, both in detail and in depth. “The individualist,” says M. Barrès, “is he who, through pride in his true I, which he isn’t able to set free, ceaselessly wounds, soils, and denies what he has in common with the mass of men...The dignity of the men of our race is exclusively attached to certain shivers that the world doesn’t know and cannot see and which we must multiply in ourselves.”

The humanist principle is no less optimistic. Humanism, in fact, is nothing but rendering divine of man in what he has of the general, of humanity, and consequently of human society. As we see, anarchism, optimistic as concerns the individual, is even more so as concerns society. Anarchism supposes that individual freedoms, left to themselves, will naturally harmonize and spontaneously realize the anarchist ideal of free society.

In regard to these two opposing points of view, the Christian and anarchist, what is the attitude of individualism? Individualism, a realist philosophy, all lived life and immediate sensation, equally repudiates these two metaphysics: one, Christian metaphysics, which a priori affirms original evil, the other the rationalist and Rosseauist metaphysic, that no less a priori affirms the original and essential goodness of our nature. Individualism places itself before the facts. And these latter make visible in the human being a bundle of instincts in struggle with each other and, in human society, a grouping of individuals also necessarily in struggle with each other. By the very fact of his conditions of existence the human being is subject to the law of struggle: internal struggle among his own instincts, external struggle with his like. If recognizing the permanent and universal character of egoism and struggle in human existence means being pessimistic, then we must say that individualism is pessimistic. But we must immediately add that the pessimism of individualism, a pessimism of fact, an experimental pessimism, if you will, pessimism a posteriori, is totally different from the theological pessimism that a priori pronounces, in the name of dogma, the condemnation of human nature. What is more, individualism separates itself every bit as much from anarchism. If, with anarchism, it admits Humboldt’s principle as the expression of a normal tendency necessary to our nature for its full blossoming, at the same time it recognizes that this tendency is condemned to never being satisfied because of the internal and external disharmonies of our nature. In other words, it considers the harmonious development of the individual and society as a utopia. Pessimistic as concerns the individual, individualism is even more so as concerns society: man is by his very nature disharmonious because of the internal struggle of his instincts. But this disharmony is exacerbated by the state of society which, through a painful paradox, represses our instincts at the same time as it exasperates them. In fact, from the rapprochement of individual wills-to-life is formed a collective will-to-life which becomes immediately oppressive for the individual will-to-life and opposes its flourishing with all its force. The state of society thus pushes to its ultimate degree the disharmonies of our nature. It exaggerates them and puts them in the poorest possible light. Following the idea of Schopenhauer, society thus truly represents the human will-to-life at its highest degree: struggle, lack of fulfillment, and suffering.

Anarchism is an exaggerated and mad idealism. Individualism is summed up in a trait common to Schopenhauer and Stirner: a pitiless realism. It arrives at what a German writer calls a complete “dis-idealization” (Entidealisierung) of life and society.

“An ideal is nothing but a pawn,” Stirner said. From this point of view Stirner is the most authentic representative of individualism. His icy word seizes souls with a shiver entirely different from that, fiery and radiant, of a Nietzsche. Nietzsche remains an impenitent, imperious, violent idealist. He idealizes superior humanity. Stirner represents the most complete dis-idealization of nature and life, the most radical philosophy of disenchantment that has appeared since Ecclesiastes. Pessimist without measure or reservations, individualism is absolutely anti-social, unlike anarchism, with which this is only relatively the case (in relation to current society).

- Anarchism and Individualism by Georges Palante
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Ibra on June 10, 2019, 01:47:43 am

Thanks for this very interesting read, Indeed when reading Nietzsche one can feel his salient idealism.
anarchism is very interesting on paper, but I doubt any prescriptive ideology/philosophy, humans can't and wouldn't change willingly . the top dog always monopolizes the power (governments nowadays) and rule over us the slaves.

"society thus truly represents the human will-to-life at its highest degree: struggle, lack of fulfillment, and suffering."  Indeed.

Welcome back.
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Holden on June 10, 2019, 07:42:22 am
I try to work alone as much as possible because the others cause me nothing but grief but the problem is,no matter hard I try ,it's almost impossible to survive on one's own.
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Silenus on June 14, 2019, 07:16:48 pm
Thanks Ibra. You are all company worth having.
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Silenus on June 26, 2019, 05:58:16 pm
I am gathering all the agony of the world together. Anyone who has a hidden worm gnawing away inside him, anyone dressed in mourning for the ideal, anyone who laughs scornfully at the ruin of the mind, may come. I need my sorrow to become a flood, a storm; I need to hear the cries of suffering, the moans of despair.

For there is laughter in the world, and I am not able to listen to laughter.

Brothers in chains, comrades in suffering, the battle is at hand. Soon we will launch our attack, intoxicated with vengeance; the enemy will flee, because the Federation of Sorrow is terrible.

* * *

From the day I was born, I have carried a heavy burden. And my back is bent and my eyes sunken. The worm gnaws and gnaws; it has already destroyed me.

Enough, by god! I am tired.

I throw off the burden and stop; I have enough of this in my life. I have not been capable of living, but I will know how to get my revenge. I will croak on some sidewalk, with the final blasphemy on my lips and the final flash of hatred in my eyes.

* * *

How odious!... The filthy cobblestones of the city give off the foul odor of the sewer. It has poisoned me. I was once so strong!

I still laughed then... But then... Should I really howl at what happened, should I really unveil myself before you?

But, imbeciles, it is the same old story!

One loves, one hopes, one acts, and then comes disgust, emptiness, despair.

* * *

One day they led me to war. Then I dreamed I was a child again.

The first burst of the machine gun cruelly rattled my nerves; I opened my eyes and I saw blood, and then nothing else. I remember a huge blaze, a continuous thunder... death, death... and that stench, the stench of corpses...

I never understood how the nasty odor of this stench has remained in my throat. It seems as if I am in a vast graveyard... crosses, coffins, stench.

Society reeks of corpses.

- Bruno Filippi

I am really enjoying these poetic, non-political essays written by some Individualists. They really pull no punches with their bitter honesty.
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Silenus on July 06, 2019, 05:44:26 am
Georges Palante

Misanthropic Pessimism

The pessimism we want to study now is that which we have called misanthropic pessimism. This pessimism doesn’t proceed from an exasperated and suffering sensibility, but from a lucid intelligence exercising its critical clear-sightedness on the evil side of our species. Misanthropic pessimism appears in its grand lines as a theory of universal fraud and universal imbecility; of universal nanality and universal turpitude. As the pitiless painting of a world peopled with cretins and swindlers, of ninnies and fools.

The character of this pessimism appears as a universal coldness, a willed impassibility, an absence of sentimentalism that distinguishes it from romantic pessimism, ever inclined to despair or revolt. The mute despair of Vigny is more pathetic than a cry of pain. In Stirner we find frantic accents of revolt, while in Schopenhauer we find a tragic sentiment of the world’s pain and a despairing appeal to the void. As for the misanthropic pessimist, he makes no complaints. He doesn’t take the human condition as tragic, he doesn’t rise up against destiny. He observes his contemporaries with curiosity, pitilessly analyzes their sentiments and thoughts and is amused by their presumption, their vanity, their hypocrisy, or their unconscious villainy, by their intellectual and moral weakness. It is no longer human pain, it is no longer the sickness of living that forms the theme of this pessimism, but rather human villainy and stupidity. One of the preferred leitmotivs of this pessimism could be this well-known verse: “The most foolish animal is man.”

The foolishness that this pessimism particularly takes aim at is that presumptuous and pretentious foolishness that we can call dogmatic foolishness, that solemn and despotic foolishness that spreads itself across social dogmas and rites, across public opinion and mores, which makes itself divine and reveals in its views on eternity a hundred petty and ridiculous prejudices. While romantic pessimism proceeds from the ability to suffer and curse, misanthropic pessimism proceeds from the faculty to understand and to scorn. It is a pessimism of the intellectual, ironic, and disdainful observer. He prefers the tone of persiflage to the minor and tragic tone. A Swift symbolizing the vanity of human quarrels in the crusade of the Big-endians and the Little-endians, a Voltaire mocking the metaphysical foolishness of Pangloss and the silly naiveté of Candide; a Benjamin Constant consigning to the Red Notebook and the Journal Intime his epigrammatic remarks on humanity and society; a Stendhal, whose Journal and Vie de Henri Brulard contain so many misanthropic observations on his family, his relations, his chiefs, his entourage; a Merimée, friend and emulator of Stendhal in the ironic observation of human nature; a Flaubert attacking the imbecility of his puppets Frederic Moureau and Bouvard and of Pécuchet; a Taine in “Thomas Graindorge;” a Challemel-Lacour in his Reflexions d’un pessimiste can all be taken as the representative types of this haughty, smiling, and contemptuous pessimistic wisdom.

In truth, this pessimism isn’t foreign to a few of the thinkers we have classed under the rubric of romantic pessimism, for the different types of pessimism have points of contact and penetration. A Schopenhauer, a Stirner have also exercised their ironic verve on human foolishness, presumption and credulity. But in them misanthropic pessimism can’t be found in its pure state. It remains subordinated to the pessimism of suffering, of despair or of revolt, to the sentimental pathos that is the characteristic trait of romantic pessimism. Misanthropic pessimism could perhaps be called realistic pessimism: in fact, in more than one of its representatives (Stendhal, Flaubert) it proceeds from that spirit of exact, detailed and pitiless observation, from the concern for objectivity and impassivity that figure among the characteristic traits of the realist esthetic. Does misanthropic pessimism confirm the thesis according to which pessimism tends to engender individualism? This is not certain. Among the thinkers we just cited there are certainly some who neither conceived, nor practiced, nor recommended the attitude of voluntary isolation that is individualism. Though they had no illusions about men they did not flee their society. They didn’t hold them at a disdainful distance. They accepted to mix with them, to live their lives in their midst. Voltaire was sociability incarnate. Swift, a harsh man of ambition had nothing of the solitary nature of Obermann and Vigny. But there are several among the misanthropic pessimists we just cited, particularly Flaubert and Taine, who practiced, theorized, and recommended intellectual isolation, the retreat of thought into itself as the sole possible attitude for a man having any kind of refinement of thought and nobility of soul in this world of mediocrity and banality.

Flaubert, haunted by the specter of “stupidity with a thousand faces” finds it wherever he looks. He seeks refuge against it in the pure joys of art and contemplation. He said: “I understood one great thing: it’s that for the men of our race happiness is in the idea and nowhere else.” “Where does your weakness come form?” he wrote to a friend. “Is it because you know man? What difference does it make? Can’t you, in thought, establish that superb line of interior defense that keeps you an ocean’s width from your neighbor?”

To a correspondent who complains of worry and disgust with all things: “There is a sentiment,” he writes,” or rather a habit that you seem to be lacking, to wit, the love of contemplation. Take life, the passions, and yourself as subjects for intellectual exercises.” And again: “Skepticism will have nothing of the bitter, for it will seem that you are at humanity’s comedy and it will seem to you that history crosses the world for you alone.”

Taine was led by his misanthropic vision of humanity to a stoic and ascetic conception of life, to looking on the intelligence as the supreme asylum in which to isolate himself, to defend himself from universal wickedness, universal stupidity, and universal banality. A singular analogy unites Taine to Flaubert. Taine asks of scientific analysis what Flaubert asks of art and contemplation: an intellectual alibi, a means of escape from the realities of the social milieu.

This deduction is logical. Misanthropic pessimism supposes or engenders contemplative isolation. In order to intellectually despise men one must separate oneself from them, see them from a distance. One must have left the herd, have arrived at Descartes’ attitude which “lives in the midst of men like amidst the trees in a forest.” Whether we wish it or not, there is here a theoretical isolation, a kind of intellectual solipsism, the indifference of an aristocrat and a dilettante who “detaches himself from all in order to roam everywhere.” (Taine)

Let us add that the clear-sightedness of the misanthropic intellectual has, in and of itself, something antisocial about it. To take as the theme for one’s irony the common and average human stupidity means treating without respect a social value of the first order. Stupidity is the stuff of the prejudices without which no social life is possible. It is the cement of the social edifice. “Stupidity,” said Dr. Anatole France’s Trublet, “is the first good of an ordered society.” Social conventions only survive thanks to a general stupidity that envelops, supports, guarantees, protects, and consecrates the stupidity of individuals. This is why critical, ironic, and pessimistic intelligence is a social dissolvent. It is irreverent towards that which is socially respectable: mediocrity and stupidity. It attacks respect and credulity, the conservative elements of society.

A relatable essay, though I have to disagree with Schopenhauer not being objective. I think he had one of the most cold, rational eyes of all the philosophers. Viewing life from a microscope, so to speak. Him adding his own personal views, complaints and dark humor is just icing on the cake!

Maybe he will just never get the respect due to him. :/
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Silenus on July 06, 2019, 06:52:25 am
To say that there is a close psychological relationship between the individualist and pessimist sensibilities means almost stating the obvious. Pessimism supposes a basic individualism. It supposes that interiority of sentiment, that return to the self (almost always painful) that is the essence of individualism. While optimism is nothing but an abstract metaphysical thesis, the echo of doctrinal hearsay, pessimism is a sensation of lived life; it comes from the inner, from an individual psychology. It proceeds from what is most intimate in us: the ability to suffer. It predominates among those of a solitary nature who live withdrawn into themselves and see social life as pain. Thoroughbred pessimists, the great artists and theoreticians of suffering, lived solitary and as strangers in the midst of men, retrenched in their ego as if in a fortress from which they let fall an ironic and haughty gaze on the society of their kind. And so it is not by accident, but by virtue of an intimate psychological correlation that pessimism is accompanied by a tendency towards egotistic isolation.

- Georges Palante
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: Holden on July 07, 2019, 08:38:44 am
Yes,I agree.Schopenhauer might never get any respect from the masses.
Both continental and analytic school dismiss him out of hand.
I do not see that changing.Not ever.
Thanks for this wonderful post-much appreciated!
He wrote for the likes of you and me.

Take care.
Title: Re: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought
Post by: gorticide on July 11, 2019, 07:55:20 pm
Quote from: Silenus
A relatable essay, though I have to disagree with Schopenhauer not being objective. I think he had one of the most cold, rational eyes of all the philosophers. Viewing life from a microscope, so to speak. Him adding his own personal views, complaints and dark humor is just icing on the cake!

Maybe he will just never get the respect due to him. :/

Maybe Schopenhauer is destined to be one of the "post-Apocolyptic Prophets," or, more likely, the Godhead/Buddha::="I N CA R N A T I O N" of a cult following until the final predictable extinction of our strange, tormented, even, at times, elegant, species.  I am sure Schopenhauer would recognize in a worm a brother, a fellow-sufferer in the web of all that is.   He was very clear on his view that most human cultures and belief systems place too much importance on the DIFFERENCES between human and organisms, and that more is gleaned by focusing on the SIMILARITIES.

For instance, as a self-ordained Schopenhauer Disciple, I will make the rather crude but Schopenhauerian observation that both myself and Brother Worm consume living or once living matter into an oraface we'll call MOUTH and ecrete waste of the most vile and disgusting quality.

Which is worse - the smell and danger in our own poop or the odor of a simple little potato hiding in a sack when it dies/ferments before its fellows.

Get the smell of either of the above on a finger, then smell the odor?   Horror.  This is what it all leads to: disgusting and offensive reality.

Society masks our animal reality, as you, Silenus, stated in a previous post elsewhwere.   I wanted to respond, but did not ... always thinking of it though.

What was such a relief when I was much younger, reading Schopenhauer, the way he would openly discuss orgasm and other things many religious or scientific narratives either ignore or dehumanize with mechanistic/MACHINistic interprertations of universal life processes.  Sorry for the bullShit.

I was just trying to say that, rather than being offended by people discussing their hostility to the smell of their own sh it ...

I've been obsessed with code and math, fighting for time in between the STRESS and HARDSHIP coping with the Burden of our Own Existence - and those who dpend on us [hold us hostage  ;) ).

Take care All.