August 4, 2018

Five quotations on individualism


There is no ‘human individual.’ There is a psyche that is socialized and, in this socialization, in the final result, there is almost nothing individual in the true sense of the term.
– Cornelius Castoriadis, World in Fragments

Social emancipation is not the choice of community against individualism. The very opposition of community to individualism is pointless. A form of community is always a form of individuality at the same time.
– Jacques Rancière, Democracy, Equality, Emancipation in a Changing World

In the 1960s many people came to realize that in a truly revolutionary collective experience what comes into being is not a faceless or anonymous crowd or “mass” but, rather, a new level of being… in which individuality is not effaced but completed by collectivity. It is an experience that has now slowly been forgotten, its traces systematically effaced by the return of desperate individualisms of all kinds.
– Fredric Jameson, Brecht and Method

The trouble is, as soon as therapeutic schools start to formalize and professionalize their procedures they nearly always—advertently or not—enmesh themselves in interiorizing philosophies of one kind or another. There are in fact very few approaches to psychological therapy that don’t in some measure subscribe to individualist, idealist and/or what I call magical voluntarist positions. All such approaches have their foundation in a general cultural assumption that is in fact very hard to shake off—i.e., that fundamentally we are all individuals who just happen to find ourselves in societies. I suspect that it might be more accurate to say that fundamentally we are social creatures who just happen to feel as individuals.
– David Smail

This is not to say there is no space for individual creation - I love the selfishness of closing the world out and unleashing the realm of my imagination and creativity. But how do we disrupt the constant individualism of creation when it comes to society, our shared planet, our resources?

The more people who cocreate the future, the more people whose concerns will be addressed from the foundational level in this world.

Meaningful collaboration both relies on and deepens relationship - the stronger the bond between the people or groups in collaboration, the more possibility you hold. In beginning this work, notice who you feel drawn to, and where you find ease. And notice who challenges you, who makes the edges of your ideas grow or fortify. I find that my best work has happened during my most challenging collaborations, because there are actual differences that are converging and creating more space, ways forward that serve more than one worldview.
– adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Shaping Worlds


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