The Cult of The Individual is clearly the predominant theme of the Modern Era. And it is a Lie.
Here is the ineffable Adam Curtis speaking upon it in a UK Guardian article: "The way power works in the world is: they tell you stories that make sense of the world. That's what America did after the Second World War. It told you wonderful dreamlike stories about the world ... And at that same time, you were encouraged to rise up and 'become an individual', which also made the whole idea of America attractive to the rest of the world. But then this very individualism began to corrode it. The uncertainties began in people's minds. Uncertainty about 'what is the point of being an individual?'
The politics of our time are deeply embedded in this idea of individualism, which is far wider than Westminster, consumerism or anything like that. It's how you feel. People think, 'Oh, if it's within me it must be true.' But it's not the be-all and end-all. It's not an absolute. It's a way of feeling and thinking which is a product of a particular time and power. The notion that you only achieve your true self if your desires, your dreams, are satisfied ... It's a political idea. That's the central dynamic of our life."
And this is a more somber comment by a Susan W. in Morris Berman's blog: “So much of our lives in America are compartmentalized it does result in loneliness. The way our communities are set up isolate us and make social interaction stilted. There's not much spontaneity and people don't know how to break this cycle and with 24 hour/day TV, the internet, long commutes and loss of real public space the soul continues to be drained out of Americans. It takes effort to see friends and build a social network that is comprised of real flesh-and-blood people rather than "profiles." Both Huxley and Orwell recognized this process of dehumanizing people even though they saw the causes differently.”
The Cult of The Individual is used be The Powers That Be to utterly dis-empower The Individual and it is my depressing opinion that most in The West, especially my fellow Americans, shall never escape that trap.
A chap who calls himself Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri - a nom-de-blog I expect - speaks of this in his essay The Parable of The Hive, to wit:
“The hive decides who gets to mate with whom and under what circumstances. The hive decides who gets the best food, the choicest real estate, and the cushiest jobs. The hive decides how you live and how you die. The hive decides what you eat for breakfast...
The hive is an invasive species composed entirely of information, of narrative, that exists only for its own benefit, that nurtures individuals — or the opposite — in proportion to how the individual benefits the hive. It is in the best interests of the hive to teach you sacrifice. To make you buy it completely.
The hive, by means of sacrifice and pooling resources, can survive when individuals would fare poorly. Individuals die, but society is preserved...
It has predators and parasites. It has fake members that are immune to the narrative, that masquerade as valuable, favored cogs, that pervert the rudimentary defenses to foil and destroy the drones that would root them out. They insinuate themselves into the supply chains to bleed off resources for personal hoards, for prime real estate, for breeding privileges.
They pervert the narrative itself to set themselves up as gods.
What are the choices here?
1. To ensure survival as much as possible by making yourself invaluable to the hive, but, in the end, putting your fate in the hands of the hive and its narrative.Once you are aware of the hive, and its narrative, and the predators and parasites that prey on it, your choices are very limited. Keep your head down, try to escape, put up a fight, or autolysis.
2. To reject the narrative entirely and live outside of the hive to the greatest extent possible, live and let live, but outside of the hive’s protections and occasionally running afoul of the hive’s defenses.
3. To become a predator/parasite, competing with other parasites for your share of hoarded resources and privileges by your own attempts to co-opt a portion of the narrative.
4. Erect a counter-narrative and create a hive that competes with or even preys upon the old hive, or perhaps establishes a symbiotic relationship with it via an exchange of resources or favors.
What will you choose?”
What most in The West choose, especially my fellow Americans, is to operate in a gray zone between 1st and 2nd choices, thinking/believing that they are in a form of the second paradigm - but utterly in Denial that they are part of The Hive aka “Rugged Individualism” - while functionally operating fully in the first paradigm. That is the Tea Party mentality in a nutshell. Hipsters on the other hand are more aware of this, but blow it off with Irony. The shrinking and increasingly desperate Middle Classes tend to go for the first paradigm full bore, though still remaining largely in Denial about how thoroughly assimilated they actually are.
Wall Street, the New Rich, et al have taken the third paradigm - the 'predator/parasite gods' - to its insane extreme and will likely be the death of The Hive because of that. But such is inherent to the 'narrative' of The Individual, its unavoidable Poison Pill, "Screw you, Jack; I got mine."
So then, what is the point of being an 'individual'? What Purpose does your life have beyond 'satisfaction of desires', many of which are not even really your own? These questions invariably bring us to The Temple and where it stands in all of this.
Obviously we pick Door #4, “Erect a counter-narrative and create a hive that competes with or even preys upon the old hive, or perhaps establishes a symbiotic relationship with it via an exchange of resources or favors,” though we shall reverse the order by initially “establishing symbiotic relationship with it via an exchange of resources or favors,” and then subsuming the 'Old Hive' entirely.
“The central strategy here is The Viral Meme, the Idea that is so compelling and dynamic that that is spreads like wildfire. That Idea exists; a entirely new and modern form of Matriarchy. Our task is to create that Idea as a Practical Reality, a Practical Reality that becomes the microcosm of this new society, a Practical Reality that is vital, replicable, adaptable, and then plant it in the societies that presently exist.
In many places, it shall flourish and expand. In some places, it will struggle and even be extinguished. But if we do our work effectively and remain true to both the practical goals and the Spiritual vision of this New Matriarchy, we will grow into and absorb even the most hostile social orders.” from The Temple's Mission Statement.
In the meantime we must operate in the third paradigm until we are stronger, as “a predator/parasite, competing with other parasites for your share of hoarded resources and privileges by your own attempts to co-opt a portion of the narrative.”
I understand that all this is a bitter pill to swallow. Some of you can likely hear Number Six shouting, “I'm not a number, etc,” in your minds. But that is a delusion at this point. Just pull out your wallet or purse. You are several types of number and by yourself you are powerless. Yes, Worst Fear confirmed. And I am offering you a way to change this. It is a radical and even dangerous path and maybe be a fool's errand. But I truly believe that, for the many reasons elaborated upon in The Explanation, it is the only viable path out of the present death spiral, because it's fairly clear the 'Old Hive' is dying.
So, how many of you, my Sisters, are still in Denial about the nature of your place in the Social Order? How many of you are aware, but cannot yet bring yourself to take action? And how many of you are prepared to join our Hive and work to kill off the Old Hive that holds you in its thrall at this very moment?
This is an adventure and an experiment, my Sisters, and I can only make you one ironclad promise; it shall not be boring.