Re: definitions of individualism

J. R. Molloy (
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 10:49:21 -0800

>"Individualism [is] the practice of living in terms of coherent desires
>under the rule of law. [It] unleashed, for better or worse, everything
>that makes the modern West dynamic and innovative."
>Kenneth Minogue (Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of
>London), 1999, 'Times Literary Supplement', 8 i.

Living "under the rule of law" sounds hypocritical (if not entirely silly) to me. Conservatives in America like to assert that they live by the "rule of law, not the rule of men" but who makes the laws? Actually, "We the people" founded the US, not "We the law." Since lawyers (legislators) make the laws, and people become lawyers, this extra layer of governance serves to obscure the fact that the ruling class decides how people live (and sometimes _which_ people live).

Society means one person's relationship to another.

To paraphrase Scott Adams, who may well have outdone Prof. Minogue, "There are two types of people in the world: the bright and attractive people like yourself who participate in the Extropy mailing list, and the 6 billion idiots who get in our way. Since we're outnumbered, it's a good idea not to refer to them as idiots to their faces. A devious Extropy list reader suggested calling them 'In-duh-viduals' instead. The advantage to this word is that you can insult someone without risk of retribution. Example:

You: You're quite an Induhvidual, Jethro.

Jethro: Thank you.

"If you're not already surrounded by Induhviduals, you will be soon. New ones are being born every minute, despite the complexity involved in breeding. Frankly, I think much of the procreation of Induhviduals happens purely by accident when two of them are trying to do something complicated -- like jump-start a car -- and they suddenly get confused. Whatever causes the breeding -- and I truly don't want to know the details -- it's safe to assume there will be more of it.

"The way I see it, you have three good strategies for thriving in a future full of Induhviduals:

  1. Wear loose clothing and pretend your car battery is dead.
  2. Keep Induhviduals in your car so you can use the car-pool lane.
  3. Harness the stupidity of Induhviduals for your own financial gain.

"Option one is dangerous. I recommend that you stay away from anything that involves Induhviduals, electricity, and sex. It's just common sense.

"Option two requires you to be in your car with Induhviduals for long periods of time. There is a real risk that they will attempt to make conversation. That would negate any benefits you get from avoiding traffic congestion. And if you accidentally leave them in the car and forget to crack the window open, they'll die. You'll need more than one of those little Christmas-tree air fresheners to solve that problem.

"I recommend option three: Harness the stupidity of Induhviduals for your own financial gain. In order to do that, you'll need to be able to anticipate their moves well in advance. This can be difficult, because the average Induhvidual does not anticipate his own moves in advance.

"If you asked the average Induhvidual about his plans, he'd say he has no plans. But if you yanked the eight-track tape player out of that Induhvidual's Pinto and then repeatedly hit that average Induhvidual with it, you could make him confess that he has some plans, even if those plans are not very exciting:


"Clearly, with a world full of people who have goals like that, most of the things that happen in the future will not be the result of good planning. That makes the future difficult to predict. That's why you need to read this mail list."

(Slightly) Paraphrased from _Dilbert Future, Thriving on Stupidity in The 21st Century_