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Shared by Joana Rita Sousa / 14.06.2017

Is The Age Of Individualism Coming To An End?

Destaco este excerto do artigo de Michael Foley, @ Philosophy Now  


The New Interconnectivity

The decline of individualism is evident in practice as well as theory, in the proliferation of social networks, urban tribes, friendship groups, festivals (still spreading faster than Japanese knotweed), cosplay and gaming conventions, and all kinds of group activity including group dancing, singing in choirs, team games and themed parties.

With the fashion for communal tables and benches and sharing plates, the trend is apparent even in restaurants.

Even reading, that most quintessentially solitary practice, has become a communal endeavour, in reading groups.

There is also evidence from religion, with the growing popularity of Pentecostal churches, which reduce the emphasis on individual religious observance and instead encourage group participation in singing and dancing.

In the politics of both right and left there has been an even more dramatic rejection of the assumption that democracy is based on the liberal ideology of individual rights.

The rise of right-wing populism has been based on a renewed belief in nationalism, and is expressed in mass rallies that provide the same reassurance of belonging as a congregation of ecstatic believers, while on the left there is a new form of humorous group anarchism.

In his 2008 book Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics and Resistance the philosopher Simon Critchley writes, “In my view, anarchism – what we might call ‘actually existing anarchism’ – is a powerfully refreshing and remotivating response to the drift and demotivation of liberal democracy.

In particular… it is the carnivalesque humour of anarchist groups and their tactics of ‘non-violent warfare’ that have led to the creation of a new language of civil disobedience and a recovery of the notion of direct democracy.”

Critchley specifically rejects an individualist anarchism for something more social: “The conception of anarchism that I seek to defend … is not so much organised around freedom as responsibility.”

Here Critchley identifies the problem that has caused individualism to lose its allure.

Personal freedom, the essential feature of individualism, is not the universal gift it appeared to be.

Back in the heady Sixties and Seventies, the era of popular demands for liberation and rights, it seemed that being free was all that was needed to enjoy a fulfilling life.

But, as the populists have noted, full freedom is available only to the few who can afford it.

And many of these fortunate few have discovered that total freedom is not liberation but a new kind of burden.

Infinite choice is thrilling in theory but exhausting in practice, requiring every decision to be worked out from first principles, often by those without principles.

And the thrilling possibility of refusing obligation and commitment in order to live by and for one’s self has also turned out to be less than fulfilling.”


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