Individualism, as a human relational philosophy, does not believe in the collective identification of human beings. Although some may do this by putting people in groups, it is not helpful for human relations. A corollary of this principle is that there is no such thing as collective guilt or pride – there is only individual guilt or pride. We are not responsible for the evil acts of others, but likewise we do not get credit for the good acts of others.
For example, should light-skinned males strut around full of pride because Einstein and Mozart were both light-skinned males? Of course not. Einstein and Mozart deserve credit for their accomplishments, not other individuals. This applies to any grouping one may want to create such as women, dark-skinned individuals, nationalities, etc. As an individual, one should only take pride, or guilt, in one’s own actions not the actions of other individuals.
We rise or fall on our own individual actions and behavior. Our individual actions determine our character. We are not tainted by bad behavior by others in our family, lineage, or those who may look like us. It is only our own behavior that defines us. We also don’t take pride in the accomplishments of our family, lineage, or those who look like us. They deserve to be proud of their own accomplishments, not the collective us.
Should Americans take pride in being Americans? No, we should take pride in our system of government and economic system which allows us to be individually productive, but that does not make Americans better than any other people. Americans are individuals, not a monolithic group. The actions of any American belong to that individual, not to us as a group. Americans should be judged only on their individual actions.
Take pride in your own accomplishments and feel guilt for your own failures. There is no such thing as collective pride just as collective guilt does not exist. Go out and be the best you can be by realizing it is your individual achievements which matter. In the long run, this individualized approach to pride and guilt will be better for universal human relations.
According to the Human Genome Project, human beings are 99.5% genetically identical. This makes all of us almost identical twins, at least in our physical and biological bodies. So, why is so much emphasis put on group identification by physical traits such as skin color or gender? Why is there this idea, which is false, that some human beings are almost aliens because of tiny differences in genetics?
The truth is that we are all different, but not because of our physical bodies. It is our minds that make us different and unique from one another, not our skin color or gender. We exist as individuals in our minds, our values comes from our minds, our education and experiences are stored in our minds. Our view of the world is shaped by our minds, not our bodies. We think, therefore we are.
Individualism, as a human relational philosophy, accepts this truth as the foundation of its philosophy. Individualism understands that true diversity comes from an individual’s mind, not their body. One could line up 100 human beings of all skin colors and genders, and if they all thought the exactly the same way, they would still be diverse by multiculturalism’s standards. Obviously, this would not be true – they would not represent true diversity – they would all think and say the same things. Individualism would state this is not diversity. Since diversity comes from the mind, one could line up 100 human beings of all the same skin color or gender and still have diversity if they thought differently – and we all do.
The fact is that none of us thinks exactly the same way therefore any group of human beings creates diversity. It is not our skin color or gender which defines us. Only racists and sexists believe a person is defined by their skin color or gender. It is our minds which define us – and this is why a person cannot make a absolutely true judgment about another person until they speak with them or read what they have written. Unless communication with the mind is established, the values and beliefs of a human being will not be known for certainty.
Therefore, even though we are 99.5% genetically identical, we are still unique human beings who have the opportunity to produce something distinctive and positive for the world. As it has been said, the death of one human being is like the loss of a universe. This is not because of the loss of the physical body, but the loss of a unique mind.
Individualism: The Only Cure for Organizational Racism
Edwin A. Locke
It is now taken as a virtual axiom that the way to cure racism is through the promulgation of racial and ethnic diversity within corporations, universities, government agencies, and other institutions. The diversity movement has many facets: diversity awareness, diversity training, diversity hiring and admissions, diversity promotions, and diversity accommodations (e.g., black student organizations and facilities at universities). The common feature in all these facets is: racial preference.
If diversity is the cure, however, why, instead of promoting racial harmony, has it brought racial division and conflict? The answer is not hard to discover. The unshakable fact is that you cannot cure racism with racism. To accept the diversity premise means to think in racial terms rather than in terms of individual character or merit. Taking jobs away from one group in order to compensate a second group to correct injustices caused by a third group who mistreated a fourth group at an earlier point in history (e.g., 1860) is absurd on the face of it and does not promote justice; rather, it does the opposite. Singling out one group for special favors (e.g., through affirmative action) breeds justified resentment and fuels the prejudices of real racists. People are individuals; they are not interchangeable ciphers in an amorphous collective.
Consider a more concrete, though fictional, example. Suppose that since its creation in 1936, the XYZ Corporation refused to hire redheaded men due to a quirky bias on the part of its founder. The founder now dies and an enlightened Board of Directors decides that something “positive” needs to be done to compensate for past injustices and announces that, henceforth, redheads will be hired on a preferential basis. Observe that: (1) this does not help the real victims-the previously excluded redheads; (2) the newly favored redheads have not been victims of discrimination in hiring, yet unfairly benefit from it; and (3) the non-redheads who are now excluded from jobs due to the redhead preference did not cause the previous discrimination and are now unfairly made victims of it. The proper solution, of course, is simply to stop discriminating based on irrelevant factors. Although redheaded bias is not a social problem, the principle does not change when you replace hair color with skin color.
The traditional and essentially correct solution to the problem of racism has always been color-blindness. But this well-intentioned principle comes at the issue negatively. The correct principle is individuality awareness. In the job sphere there are only three essential things an employer needs to know about an individual applicant: (1) Does the person have the relevant ability and knowledge (or the capacity to learn readily)? (2) Is the person willing to exert the needed effort? and (3) Does the person have good character, for example, honesty, integrity?
It will be argued that the above view is too “idealistic” in that people often make judgments of other people based on non-essential attributes such as skin color, gender, religion, nationality, and so forth. This, of course, does happen. But the solution is not to abandon the ideal but to implement it consistently. Thus, organizational training should focus not on diversity-worship but on how to objectively assess or measure ability, motivation, and character in other people.
The proper alternative to diversity, that is, to focusing on the collective, is to focus on the individual and to treat each individual according to his or her own merits. Americans have always abhorred the concept of royalty, that is, granting status and privilege based on one’s hereditary caste, because it contradicts the principle that what counts are the self-made characteristics possessed by each individual. Americans should abhor racism, in any form, for the same reason.
With a few heroic exceptions, such as Nucor and Cypress Semiconductor, which have defied quota pressures, business leaders (following the intellectuals) have been terror-stricken at the thought that there is any alternative to diversity. Their belief-that you can cure racism with racial quotas-is a hopeless quest with nothing but increased conflict and injustice as the end. It is time that business leaders find the courage to assert and defend the only true antidote to the problem of racism: individualism.
We all come from other human beings – no one has been cloned yet. But how much does that matter as to who we are as human beings? Is it our lineage that defines us or our own individual acts and behaviors? Do we have free will or are we just a determined collection of an ancestor’s DNA? Does it really matter who we came from?
Individualism would argue that each human being is unique and sovereign. They are to be judged by their actions alone, not by their ancestors. Since Individualism denies the existence of collective guilt or pride, each individual is judged by his or her own mistakes and achievements. They should never be judged as part of a group.
This does not deny the influence of genetics, family or culture. There are almost an infinite amount of types of influence which will affect the behavior of individuals. Nonetheless, each individual decides which actions to take and ultimately what their character will be. Since we have free will, these decisions are our own to make and are not forced upon us.
Who we came from is not nearly as important as who we are. In fact, it can be detrimental for any individual to take false pride or feel guilt for their lineage or ancestry. Individuals achieve accomplishments, not groups, and those individuals who have positive contributions to society should take pride in their own achievements. Similarly, those who make mistakes and are a burden to society will bear the blame individually. Neither pride nor guilt is collective.
Be proud of who you are as an individual, not who you came from. You bear no responsibility for the actions of other family members, only yourself. You also don’t merit any pride due to your family’s achievements. It is only your own individual actions which define your character.
Some may say it is human nature or just natural to put people in groups – and it probably is. Nonetheless, there are human behaviors which need to be controlled for the sake of human relations. On the surface there is nothing intrinsically wrong with putting people in groups, but the consequences are generally very negative. It is harmful to human relations, not helpful. It also almost always leads to group judgmentalism.
When anyone assigns people to groups they would be committing at least two wrongs. One, they are taking individuality away from the members of the group. They are denying the group member’s uniqueness as a human being. Two, they are going to assign values to the members of the group. No matter how they do this, they cannot be correct. There is no group of human beings which have exactly the same values. The fact is that people are not groups – they are individuals. When putting people in groups, and making any judgment about the group, one would be committing the same error as those who engage in racism, sexism, and other human behavioral evils.
The cure for this kind of behavior is to not put people in groups to begin with. Treat each individual person as the individual they are, and do not judge them by which group you may arbitrarily put them into. Not only is this more honest and truthful, it is the only way to keep from engaging in group judgmentalism. Group judgmentalism of any kind, even the assignment of positive values to a group, is harmful to human relations.
The human relational philosophy of Individualism is the only human relations theory which is based on viewing all human beings as unique and equally respected individuals. There are no groups in Individualism, there are only individuals, only unique and wonderful human beings.
I understand the desire of human beings to feel that they are better than other human beings. After all, self-interest or self-love is a primary trait for all humans. To be honest, however, there is no human being who is better or no human being who is worse than any other of our species. We all deserve an equal amount of respect for being human no matter who we are.
When we draw the horizontal line of human relations, one will notice that there are no points above the line or below. Every human being, from the perspective of Individualism as a human relational philosophy, is exactly equal to every other human. There are no super-humans, but likewise there are no sub-humans. All humans are deserving of the same amount of respect for being human. There are no distinctions.
Does this mean we are all the same?
Absolutely not, in fact Individualism says that we are all unique, not the same. There will never be another human being exactly like any humans who are existing today, or have existed. This will continue to be true in the future. What is not unique is our entitlement of respect for being human. This respect is the same for every human – but it does not make each human the same.
Does this mean that we are all equally good?
No it does not. Good is a moral term and addresses the character of each individual. Human nature being what it is, we will always have good and evil people in our midst. People need to be judged, but only judged on their own actions and character, not by a collective judging. Whether an individual is moral or immoral is a judgment to be made about the individual alone, not which group or collective they can be put into.
The equality of respect for all human beings is helpful for human relations. Too much harm has been done by groups of individuals placing themselves above others or placing others below themselves. We are all equally deserving of respect no matter where we come from.
In the history of the world, there will never be another person exactly like you. From your birth, through your childhood, and on until your death – no one else will ever duplicate exactly what you have been through and your thoughts about it. Each of us have different memories, different ideas, and different thoughts of the experiences and influences in our lives. There are no two human beings who have ever thought exactly alike and experienced the exact same environment. Every human being is unique.
What makes us unique? It is our minds, not our bodies. Many other individuals may share your skin color, your gender, your ethnicity, and other characteristics of your exterior appearance. They may also share your worldview, religion, or politics. But they will never be exactly like you. No one will. Your mind is unique – which makes you unique. Each human being has the potential to add a unique contribution to the world, whether or not it ever comes to fruition. We are all unique and wonderful individuals who should be treated as individuals, not groups.
Multiculturalism is wrong when it tries to state that because people may share a common culture they are all the same, or think the same way. Americans share a culture, but they are all different. The Japanese share a culture, but they are all different. One could say this about every culture. The fact is that there are no such things as monolithic cultural blocks. These are false abstract constructions. The multicultural concept denies the individuality of each person in such a grouping. It denies the reality that we are all unique regardless of culture.
Therefore, the only human relational philosophy which recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and states that human relations should be based on individuals, not groups, is Individualism. Individualism should replace multiculturalism as the human relational standard or ideal. Only through Individualism will human relations improve based on the reality that each human mind is absolutely unique.