Author Topic: Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist and Egoist Thought  (Read 55 times)

0 Members and 0 Guests are viewing this topic.

Silenus

  • Philosopher of the Void
  • Posts: 124
Quote
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.”

Quote
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.

Quote
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
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 10:25:48 am by Silenus »
"We — free spirits — vagabonds of the idea — atheists of solitude — demons of the unseen desert.

We — luminous monsters of the night — we have already gone to the peaks."


Ibra

  • Underground Renegade
  • Posts: 50
Silenus,

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.
Suffering is the only fruit of human race

Holden

  • { ∅, { ∅ } }
  • Posts: 2459
  • Hentrichian Philosophical Pessimist
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.
I am just a sad little green  tortoise  who crawls and crawls..

Silenus

  • Philosopher of the Void
  • Posts: 124
Thanks Ibra. You are all company worth having.
"We — free spirits — vagabonds of the idea — atheists of solitude — demons of the unseen desert.

We — luminous monsters of the night — we have already gone to the peaks."