It’s common to assert that there was no individualism, indeed hardly any individuality, in the Middle Ages. I’m not a Medievalist, so I can’t comment on the sources and methodology behind this striking, counterintuitive claim. But I have been around academics quite a bit, which I why I call bullshit here. As with most ivory tower pronouncements on Humanity, this is wishcasting — they wish there were no individuals in the Middle Ages, or anywhere else for that matter.
“Individualism” means having a strong central identity, which is means expressing preferences. I don’t think I have to work too hard to convince y’all that Leftists (as all academics are) hate and fear the concept of preference. See, for example, the widely cited Paradox of Choice, which pretends that having a bunch of different breakfast cereals to choose from at the grocery store causes crippling anxiety. Wouldn’t life be so much better if some benevolent central authority made all those pesky decisions for you? Academics certainly think so, which is why they never venture outside the ivory tower…. and why all ivory towers look exactly the same. From Berkeley to Harvard, the only thing that changes about college towns is the weather.
Stripping away the concept of preference has, in fact, been eggheadery’s underlying goal since the Enlightenment. From the salons of 18th century Paris to Salon.com, the Enlightened have assured us that freedom lies in abandoning anything that might make us prefer one thing over another — which they call “prejudice,” and of course, all prejudices are irrational. Pick your Leftist discourse — its goal, when you get down to it, is to convince everyone that human beings are nothing but ____. E.g.
- Reason (Voltaire, Rousseau)
- Economics (Marxism, Libertarianism)
- Discourses (Postmodernism
- Genitalia (Feminism)
- Melanin (Critical Race Theory, Subaltern Studies)
All leading to the idea that men are, as the Z Man puts it, “moist robots.” Karl Marx said that man’s social being determines his consciousness — take away the ability to express preferences by taking away choice, and you’re left with the New Soviet Man.
Sadly, the so-called Right is as afflicted with this mental virus as the Left. See, for instance, the comment section to this Z Man post. Libertarianism is as reductive a creed as Marxism, and indeed reduces Man to the same state: A cell on a spreadsheet. You’re free to make your choices under Libertarianism, sure, and the State will enforce the contracts… but what about the State itself, making its choices? Thomas Hobbes wrote a big important book exploring that exact idea, but alas, he didn’t conclude that the Leviathan should legalize weed, so they’ve never read it.
Ditto atheists and Trekkies. I know, I know, there are as many Lefties who like those things (and in the case of atheism, probably way more), but since I’m already “insulting” the most obsessive group on the internet, I’m going for the triple axel — even the French judge will have to give me a 10 after this.
Same deal: The reduction of Man — or, in the case of atheism, the entire universe — to a set of basic processes. I’ve never understood the fascination with Star Trek. It’s a Model UN Club meeting — but in space! — with the intellectual rigor and personal hygiene to match. I get it, yeah, the green-skinned babes are hot, but they’re not worth all the namby pamby preachy liberalism. Or the smarmy smugness. The whole thing makes my skin crawl.
We’ve covered atheism here before, many times, complete with the customary spergy neckbeardery in the comments. Chesterton (or someone) said something about “the rational man will not marry and the rational soldier will not fight,” by which he meant that professing a devotion to Reason is generally just a good excuse to avoid living life. There’s a reason atheist bloggers end up begging their readership for dates, and end up on one end or the other of (alleged) sexual harassment at their conferences. A society of Vulcans (just to tie it all together) couldn’t exist — they couldn’t even hammer out the social contract, couldn’t enforce it if they did, and would all commit suicide from boredom before they finished signing the papers.Loading Likes...