June 19, 2016

We Need More Individualists

By In Blogs, Mitchell Thompson

It’s always been a bit odd whenever I hear a conservative Christian (of which I am one) leader (of which I am not) say one or more of the following: I am going to do what’s right regardless of what the culture thinks; or, I am not going to let culture direct my opinions; or, I will speak my mind and not let the politically correct movement frighten me. The reason I find it odd is because these are often the same individuals who adamantly speak out against the idea of “individualism.” The mindset from which those things are said, however, is quite individualistic. As C.Jay recently pointed out, the following quotation by Jonathan Edwards is profoundly and gloriously individualistic:

Resolution One: I will live for God.

Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.”

Individualism is the idea that individuals, not collectives or groups, are the morally responsible object in society and therefore have the obligation –and the right– to make their own decisions and to do what is ethical, regardless of what the masses do. American Christians often express severe hesitancy to the idea of individualism and yet, the heroes of Christian history almost always stood out above the crowd by doing something different than the status quo, for standing up for their convictions, and literally doing what thousands of people thought should not be done.

In a world beset by all kinds of absurdities and cultural degradations, we need people who dissent and walk alone– visibly and shockingly standing up for principle, for reality. In a social context suffering under the weight of political correctness and thought-policing, we need individuals who say: “no, I will think what I want and not find guilt in being confident about what I believe.” In a political context suffering under the weight of democratic authoritarianism, we need individuals who are unashamed of private property rights and defending what is their own. In an economic context suffering under the weight of centralism and collectivism, we need individuals who are not ashamed of making a profit and upsetting the present government-managed framework.

The herd is a menace. The masses are stuffed full of ignorance and destructive mindsets. We need more dissenters, not less. We need more rugged individualists, not follow-the-crowd collectivists. We need more who are willing to stand alone, to speak truth to the cultural powers, who don’t put stock in the professional opinionators and thought controllers.

Written by Mitchell Thompson

I was born and raised in Northern California where I was homeschooled. I became a Protestant (Calvinistic) seven years ago. I was also, starting in 2006, a Buchananite conservative until I met Ron Paul during the 2008 elections. From then on I read everything I could from the Mises Institute and am now satisfied as a Rothbardian libertarian. I am slowly becoming a more confessional Reformed Baptist. Hoping to get more and more involved on this site. My Twitter handle is @MitchRThompson. Cheers.
  • Dave

    Hi! One thing I’ve been pondering for awhile is how the collectivist nature of the bible’s writers and original audience fit in with an individualist view. I am libertarian and am highly skeptical of any concept of political collective or political “society,” but it seems clear from a lot of scholarly work that the primary authors and audience of the bible (like most of the world today) were collectivist in their worldview. This feeds into their honor/shame, views of time, degree of directness, high context, etc leanings. So, when the bible says we are in Christ, to an original hearer in the ANE, that would have indicated finding your identity in a new collective body, he church, vs your old identity found in your tribe, family, trade or whatever.

    So, I wonder how the two gel. I do believe a lot of collectivist societies today (like Japan) do find the group and not the individual morally responsible. And it seems like the preferred state is individual responsibility, but it’s hard for me to know if that is just a learned preference based upon my culture. Maybe the key is allowing individual freedom to choose their group/collective, while holding them accountable individually for gather own and group actions? There is a lot for me to think about here.

  • Terrence Daugherty

    This is why I believe it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the Two Kingdoms… One in which we are all, as you say, individuals and the other, where we are part of a greater collective that makes up the Body of Christ — who is the Head.

    Great stuff. Thank you for this succinct blurb on individualism.