The Morality of Individualism

Posted on January 15, 2019 by Robert Ringer


With child star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a large portion of the Democratic Party now openly promoting socialism/communism, it’s a good time to take a look at its polar opposite, individualism.  Liberals insist that individualism is a “selfish” philosophy devoid of compassion.  But is it?  To address this claim, let’s begin at the beginning and examine the foundations of individualism.

On a macro scale, it’s clear that the universe thrives on individuality.  There are no two galaxies alike; no two solar systems alike; no two planets alike; no two suns alike.  There are, in fact, no two objects anywhere in the universe that are precisely the same.  The undeniable nature of the universe is diversity.

Here on earth, the same can be said of vegetation, grains of sand, snowflakes, and all other matter.  But what about animals?  Don’t all lions, for example, look exactly alike?  Actually, if you look close enough (not recommended), they don’t.  But even if they did look the same to the human eye, it’s axiomatic that no two lions are exactly the same in every respect.

Further, the more complex the matter, the more diversity that is built into it, and human beings represent the most complex matter on earth.  No two human beings — not even identical twins — are precisely the same in every respect.  You and I may have the same type of personality, but there are an infinite number of subtle differences in our individual personalities.

In addition, each individual has unique abilities and needs that, while they may be similar to those of other people, are not exactly the same as those of any other person.  This self-evident fact is what makes life so interesting.  Can you imagine what a dull world it would be if everyone were exactly the same?

Which brings us back to the sovereignty of the individual, a concept that grows out of the universal principle of individuality.  This principle states that all matter has its own peculiarities that distinguish it from all other matter of the same genre.

No two things, no two people, and no two events are precisely the same.  No action, transaction, or set of circumstances have ever corresponded precisely to any other action, transaction, or set of circumstances.  Infinite diversity is a universal law.  It reigns throughout both nature and the universe, and mocks all of mankind’s attempts to implement laws, constitutions, and regulations intended to make things and people uniform.

Every attempt to get human beings to subordinate their personal interests to that of the collective is futile.  Governments based on the belief that conformity is a desirable way of life for their citizens are doomed to be frustrated by the power of the principle of individuality.  Since time immemorial, people have been pushing back against government attempts to repress the human instinct of self-interest.

Self-interest is neither good nor bad; it’s simple a reality of human nature.  By itself, it does not harm anyone.  Only individuals can engage in good or bad behavior — i.e., in ways that are helpful to others or that violate the rights of others.

Because everyone has a natural right to sovereignty over his own life, the only kind of government that is legitimate is one that recognizes the sovereignty of the individual.  Because a human being is endowed with consciousness, no other person or institution has a right to make decisions for him.

On the most fundamental level of individuality, objects bound together contrary to their nature will seek to rectify themselves by breaking the bonds that confine them, while those that come together as a result of their natural affinities remain content.  The latter is the only way society has a chance of being harmonious.

Nevertheless, statists, whether ignorant or simply naïve, often see the individualist as a callous person who believes he can do anything he wants to others in order to achieve his ends.  They are, of course, wrong.  The true individualist recognizes that a person’s sovereignty does not give him a license to do anything he pleases.

Why?  Because it’s not just a single individual who is sovereign; all men and women are sovereign entities.  And it is this concurrence of sovereignty that naturally limits the sovereignty of each individual.  In other words, the individual only has sovereignty over his own life, but has no right to interfere in the sovereignty of any other person.

The question then becomes, where does sovereignty end and encroachment begin?  A good way to look at it is that every individual is the rightful sovereign over his own conduct in all things, in so far as the consequences of his conduct affect only him; i.e., the sovereignty of the individual can be exercised only to the extent it affects his life.

Thus, the “pursuit of happiness” has limitations.  Pursuing the life of a serial killer because it makes one happy doesn’t cut it.  The axiomatic rule is:  Whoever has to bear the cost of the consequences should have the deciding power in every applicable case.  I can’t decide to take your property from you just because I believe it would make me happy, because you would be the one to bear the consequences of my action.

In summation, the individualist believes that all people would be better off in the long run if they were allowed to control their own destinies.  More important, he believes that the right of each individual to do as he pleases with his own life, subject to his actions not impinging on the same rights in others, ensconces him on the moral high ground.

From everything I have said in this article, it logically follows that the exceptional individual has a right to be exceptional.  Billionaires have a right to be billionaires.  Hall of Fame quarterbacks have a right to be Hall of Fame quarterbacks.  Superstar entertainers have a right to be superstar entertainers.

Any attempt to thwart people’s desires, ambitions, or achievements, whether they be average people or exceptional people, is tyranny and will always be met with resistance, either inwardly (mental) or outwardly (physical).  Mutual dependence is the root of despotism, while individualization of interests is the root of liberty.  There is no rational opposing viewpoint on this matter.

That said, if you would like to go down in history as someone who helped stem the tide of  tyrannical collectivism in America, all you have to do is figure out a way to explain what I’ve said in this article to AOC and millions of other low-IQ and low-information folks, especially those in academia and the sports and entertainment industries.

Good luck.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.