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The Fundamental Problem with The American Cult of Individual Success

Someone who makes it without your help doesn’t owe you anything.

From infancy Americans are told they have to be “self-made” and “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” but why should a man who is self made care about anyone else?  They all told him success was entirely up to him, so when he succeeds he has no reason to feel any allegiance to others.
Society does not help young men find a trade, a woman, to found a family, or find a purpose.  In fact it hinders and obstructs at every turn feeding him misinformation.  Then when he succeeds in spite of these obstacles, the social order expects allegiance.  It asks him to care about a nation, to pass down a culture, to support a people that has been more enemy than friend.  Why should he care?  Actually, why shouldn’t he actively oppose those who tried to stop him and cheat him whenever they could—to join friendlier factions or begin a faction of his own?

Societies are all about shared burdens, even the strongest man is easily overwhelmed by 2 or 3 men working together let alone a thousand or a million.  Interdependence is the foundation of successful societies.  Even dickheads and narcissists will help to defend a system that benefits them.  Even the apathetic and lazy will rise up when their lives of easy repose are endangered.
The success of peoples requires cohesion, especially when things are at their worst.
At the battle of Cannae the Romans lost an entire army of 40,000 men nearly to the last man but they went on fighting anyway until they won the war and eventually razed the enemy’s capital city into the ground and salted their fields.  Proportionally speaking, I’m sure the United States would have to lose millions in a single battle to equal the disaster of Cannae.  Can we imagine America holding together after a similar defeat and not succumbing to panic and bitter internal rivalries?
It’s easy to have a minimum level of cohesion in the good times, diversity is easy in times of plenty.  But when the bad times come, a system is tested.  And how a people handles the terrible shocks and earthquakes decides if they will still be there in a hundred years’ time.

One response to “The Fundamental Problem with The American Cult of Individual Success

  1. Pingback: The Fundamental Problem with The American Cult of Individual Success | Neoreactive

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