Independence is a largely overrated and even more commonly misunderstood concept. In America especially, we have an image of independence being synonymous with freedom and liberty. Indeed, becoming independent from tyranny did bring liberty. It is from this attitude, the founding spirit of America, that individuality has taken on cult status.
I support a modicum of individuality, but I think our culture takes it too far at times. It is almost as though we believe every person is a nation unto themselves, an entity apart from the whole which deserves sovereignty.
This is quite a romantic view. I agree it holds appeal, and it may hold even more appeal to those of us who see the corrupting nature of society. Government, religion, or even the very family structure itself can be seen as systems of coercion held together by nothing more than a threat of violence.
However, this is not an accurate assessment. Individual liberty is not a right; liberty is a gift. Liberty is not inherent within the natural order; liberty must be painstakingly built. None of what we have is possible through self interest alone.
We are not islands apart from each other. We are all connected. I hear you talking in the booth next to me about how you don’t want to pay for public schools because either you send your kids to private school or you don’t have kids… yet. Then, without even stopping to breathe, I’m sure you’ll launch into a tirade about how stupid service person are. Yeah, cut education… that will help.
Society operates and prospers because we cooperate, not because some jackasses think life is a competition to see who can accumulate the most stuff before they die.
I sometimes wonder how many Libertarians are parents. I am not a parent, but because I possess the emotion of empathy, I am also not a Libertarian. However, it is my understanding that something changes in people when they become a parent. The desire to support and nurture someone else supplants the drive for self-preservation.
This drive to help the weak, rather than prey on them, is the foundation of society. The more I read about Libertarianism and conservative economics, the more I see that it is anti-social garbage spewed by selfish bastards trying desperately to not only defend their intolerable misanthropy, but even to glorify it as a vaunted ideal.
People are not numbers. We cannot be computed. The tragic effects of conservative economics, the “self-corrections,” are not statistics. Millions are homeless and will be turning to crime as desperation mounts. There are real life consequences to the ridiculous nonsense not only spewed by these half-wit hoodwinks, but in the actions taken by those foregoing our future for short-term profit.
No one is born independent. When we enter this world, we are dependent. We rely upon the kindness and patience of others. We owe an incalculable debt to not only our family, but to society. Yet, society asks for very little in return… which is why it’s a pretty sweet deal.
Not many people are setting out into the wilderness to leave society behind. Nature is a cruel place. Nature doesn’t share. Nature shows no mercy. Society provides the comforts of living because people working together achieve more than people working alone, or even against each other.
Competition is another romantic idea; the notion that the best will come out on top. Of course, “best” is rarely qualified with any kind of definition. Perhaps by “best” they mean “best for profits,” because it’s certainly not “best for consumers.”
Last time I checked, plenty of financially successful companies are far from being the “best” in their industry: McDonald’s, Subway (yeah I said it, your sandwiches suck), Windows, Nike, Playboy, Starbucks.
Companies compete and some fail, but people do not dissolve into nothingness upon failure the way a company does. Society is not the marketplace for humanity. People cannot be made to sink or swim on their own ability like companies; it is the duty of swimmers to save those who are sinking, or risk getting dragged down with them.
BONUS: Song that inspired the post's title.
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