An interesting thing I have noticed about hyper-individualists is that they have little resilience to the howling winds of outrageous fortune.
They often arrive at an anarcho-libertarian ideology from a path that starts on the conservative right: the Barry Goldwater/ Karl Hess kind of Republicans that have all but disappeared by now. They were concerned with free markets (not mercantile arrangements for multi-nationals), a strong defense (but only for America’s borders, not foreign entanglements), and were for individual rights, low taxes, and definitely no mixture of religion and state.
This hyper-individualism is still imbued with the “If you aren’t doing well, tough shit, pal, it is cuz yer a loser.” (Rush Limbaugh used to do all this stuff with his funny sound effects while doing his homeless updates or feminazi reports.) Bottom line: If things aren’t right in your life it is because you didn’t work, plan, think through, or [fill in the blank] hard enough. They take on the FULL weight of the blame on their own shoulders for things not going well or being perfect. So when the perfect outcome is not in the offing….
They get very depressed or even suicidal, in extreme cases. This has been my observation anyway.
Now here is where people will get pissed at me. But hey, when the hell has that ever stopped me?
People of color, religious, sexual, or ideological minorities face the same difficulties in life as well – more actually, when you factor in the racism, poverty, hate, and discrimination in American society. Yet still, in my observation at least, they hold up better psychologically and spiritually. Why is that? Glad I asked.
We don’t believe that the full weight of everything bad that happens in our lives is the direct result of some act or inaction on our part. Not every bad outcome was caused by our fecklessness, stupidity, or ignorance, no matter what Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Al Franken, Bill Moyers, or Bill O’Reilly all say.
Is it stupid to keep a loaded pistol or shotgun under your bed where the kids can find it? It may seem so to the comfortable middle class types, but in Detroit or some of its nastier suburbs, it isn’t. The police don’t come if you don’t have a telephone to call them. Cell providers want you to have good credit to get a cellphone contract. Moreover, junkies, burglars, and crackheads are out there in abundance where we live. Fear of them and other window crawlers is a reality that must be dealt with.
Cashing your checks at the rip-off check cashing places for $5.99 per check plus 5% of the face value is much more expensive than opening an account at the local bank or credit union. But here again, they want solid middle class folks and not the black, brown, or hillbilly trash like us. So you do what you have to do, not out of stupidity (as the above mentioned would say), but out of desperation and necessity.
If you ever bother with the casualty reports from Iraq and Afghanistan please note that those being killed and wounded aren’t the West Pointers and Air Force Academy grads. Instead, it is the urban Hispanics and blacks, and rural hillbillies, who joined the Army or Marines in order to obtain money for college or to get out of their dead end neighborhoods. Stupid? Yeah, when viewed from a comfortable middle-class perspective. See they have alternatives the hillbillies, blacks, and the Hispanics don’t.
People like us know that life is mainly a rigged game where the elites, (political, social and economic) win on every roll of the dice. But we play the game anyhow because it is the only game in town.
This brings me to the point I began with. We know the game is rigged against our race and/or social class. If I don’t get into Harvard, become a millionaire before 30, and retire at 40 with a beautiful trophy wife, it is because except in my dreams, there was never ever a possibility that I would. People like me see things that way. We adapt and we deal.
The rugged individualist blames himself. He becomes depressed, an alcoholic, gets in debt up to his eyeballs buying “cool” stuff he doesn’t need, or blows his brains out with a $2500 imported shotgun he put on his Visa card. He played the rigged game too, but never knew it. He played the game and got played by the game. Me and mine, we don’t take it all so personally.
Ali Massoud is a father, political theorist, apostate Muslim, small business owner, college graduate, crack rifle marksman, a blogger, cat lover, shrewd investor, US Army veteran, and currently single. He lives in Michigan.