“If men were like ants, there would be no interest in human freedom. If individual men, like ants, were uniform, interchangeable, devoid of specific personality traits of their own, then who would care whether they were free or not? Who, indeed, would care if they lived or died? The glory of the human race is the uniqueness of each individual, the fact that every person, though similar in many ways to others, possesses a completely individuated personality of his own. It is the fact of each person’s uniqueness—the fact that no two people can be wholly interchangeable—that makes each and every man irreplaceable and that makes us care whether he lives or dies, whether he is happy or oppressed. And, finally, it is the fact that these unique personalities need freedom for their full development that constitutes one of the major arguments for a free society.”
Here is my response to the blog post below (I have a sneaking suspicion that the author of this post will delete my response. As someone who has done this myself, I think I am justified in this belief. The response is as follows).
“They are mere shells of life eaten out by years of existence in a mechanized society where their energies, from their youth, have been subjected to the wills of bosses, to the deadening prod of identical external stimuli, and been used up in serving ends quite outside themselves. Now they are tired. There is nothing that they want to do — nothing that reflects any thought, or will, or quest, or direction of their own. They seek only relief from their boredom. They want only to be entertained.” I can understand that argument from one point. Yes, work is monotonous, and it sucks the soul out of individuals. But, to put it bluntly, “that’s just how it is”. There is no other alternative because there are no other effective ways to get the needs and desires of humans met. Whether you use your hands, a shovel, or a tractor, food must still come out of the ground, and it will take a certain amount of time, and specific weather, to grow. Whining and complaining about it is a crucial tool to get through the grueling monotony of what is necessary to keep life alive. But I get the sense (perhaps unfairly) that you are a communist. Once again, that could be completely unfair of me to make that judgment. If you are suggesting that life sucks, and are complaining about it, I’m right there with you. But the reason I sense communist sympathy is talk of the “mechanized society”, “subjected to the wills of bosses”, etc. I’d be interested to hear what your alternative to this situation would be. I’m not trying to be rude, but I would guess communism.
Also, sure, maybe we, as hunter-gatherers, weren’t “bored”, as we had to constantly be vigilant of the predator that would kill us. But is that somehow more “noble” than sitting, being bored, and watching television? Why does digging with a shovel make one more “noble” than using a tractor? Why does having an “easier” life make one a worse person? I don’t agree with that argument whatsoever. I certainly agree that television is garbage, and I lament at the brainlessness of it all. Is there something to be said about the average television watcher? Absolutely. They are condemnable on many fronts. But using that to attack “mechanization” or “bosses” is quite silly. Blaming “mechanization” and “bosses” on taking away ambition from an individual is ridiculous. The individual is not “forced” by “mechanization” or “bosses” to be unambitious. It is the “fault” of the individual. Maybe the caveman that hunted for food with a spear was more “ambitious” than the average television watcher today, but that is of little importance to me. To make a comparison equating “labor exerted” to “nobility” is ludicrous. Today, we may seek only relief from our boredom, but our ancient ancestors only sought relief from a constant, imminent death that was around them in more forms than we will ever experience in our entire lifetimes.
“And everywhere it drives men’s own thoughts and judgments out of their heads, deprives them of the condition for getting any thoughts or judgments of their own”. There’s certainly some truth to that. However, many people are limited intellectually. It is a tragic reality. How to “educate” them? Are they “educable”? Perhaps not. If not, we must lament, with our “live and let live” philosophy. We can critique all we want, but what else can we do? We should not be allowed to capture them, against their wills, and read them the greatest philosophical works ever written. “Live and let live” seems to be the only solution, accompanied by a fierce critique to anyone who will listen, if the parties so desire.
I’m never going to make it past 35 years at Walmart.
At that point, I’m committing suicide.
On my 35th anniversary, in fact…
(Yes, I currently work at Walmart. Which is part of the reason I’m working on all of this fucking shit…)