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[rant] First came Brexit. Then the rise of populism across continental Europe. Next, it was Trump. And now a further boost to populist organisations and movements across Europe.

And what this says to me is that the world appears to be lurching towards a powerful sense of individualism. Or at the very least, it is polarising a great deal.

Socialism is a form of collectivism, that perhaps the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or that we can struggle towards a greater good as a world, as a collective (and I’m not talking about Stalinist Russia, so don’t go there). But its golden days are arguably waning, apart from perhap sin the comfortable confines of socially demicratic Scandinavia (though I’m sure there are rumblings there, too). On the other hand, libertarians and individualists push for the individual being the great end, not a means to an end, and they are basking in trumped-up glory.

Things are worrying me greatly. Brexit is a kick in the teeth for international cooperation. Yes, it isn’t perfect, but the EU is the best chance of us working together to effect a greater outcome, whether it be in terms of workers’ rights, the environment, health, or any number of other moral dimensions. To reject that is actually to think we are better on our own. That the net of moral regulations concerning our existence can all be treated with greater skepticism, and that being on our own will allow us to strip back to being a leaner, meaner, more competitive machine.

But it was mainly about immigrants.

Us and Them.

Me and You.


Trump tapped into that hugely, and now the swamp he threatened to drain is drowning him, and turning into a political flood that will inundate all the good work that had previously been done, washing it away with dark money and moral pestilence.

Hypocritically, though, the individual is god, but only if you are a man. Women are not part of the cabal. In such a time, the state wishes to dictate what you do with your body to these supposedly free individuals. The changes have been rapid, and the people in charge, in the cabinet, are truly scary. Already today, “Trump” has picked Ajit Pai – a critic of “net neutrality” rules – to head the Federal Communications Commission.  The cabinet positions have been reported at great length. It’s happening.

These are properly scary times, because Trump doesn’t have a political clue. Just as I predicted from the moment he was elected, he is a marionette in the hands of his Republican puppeteers.

And this drive appears to reflect a growing sense of individualism that I see around me. As we retreat into our houses, content to sit at our computers, neglecting our fellow humans through face-to-face contact, we become ensconced in our own company, caring less and less for those around us, for the outside world, for the environment that allows us to live.

This is fertile breeding ground for corporations and corporatists, for big money and faux-libertarians.

The Republicans are in heaven and the masses will suffer. The collectives. Yes, Trump makes sounds towards the unions, but stripping regulation left, right and centre only ever benefits the corporate elites, lining pockets of the rich, and damaging the working classes, and the environment.

When we act as a world full of seven billion individuals, it will be the ones at the top who massively benefit. The ones at the bottom are trodden underfoot.

I wonder whether there will be a modern revolution, and what that could look like. Are we forever sitting on a pendulum swinging from one political extreme to another? Or is the pendulum ever more favouring the right as the centre of gravity shifts?

It’s dangerous to shun working collectively. There is much to be said for working together. I get a sense that we will be drowning in a sea of powerlessness, our futures determined by the currents of selfish populists, if our trajectory continues along this path. [/rant]

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...