A State of Mind

8 06 2010

I recently saw this movie on the “Mass Games” in North Korea. I find stuff like this to be the strongest critique of modern individualism or Christian personalism. Is the height of civilization really the fact that I can get up at any time I want on the weekend and eat Pop Tarts? Is the apex of human endeavor that I can do whatever I want? This reminds me again of one of my favorite anecdotes from the life of Bertolt Brecht when he told of moving back to Soviet-occupied Germany. When asked by Western reporters whether he felt repressed because of the censorship of the Soviet regime, he replied that at least in this socialist society important government officials would set him aside for hours to talk to him about his work, when in the West they would simply ignore him.

Not that I want to go live in North Korea, but I feel that philosophical arguments in favor of human individualism are flimsy to the point of incredibility. Can it be said that my grandparents have a personality the same way I have a personality, that they have to express themselves the same way I do? What was a person’s sense of self back in the rancho, and why does it seem that they had a greater sense of collective duty than I have? And doesn’t Western consumerism just try to reduce us all to the same person anyway, and even religious institutions echo this trend?

I am the ultimate non-joiner. I don’t believe in conforming myself to something if I can help it. I just don’t find any intellectual explanations for my disposition to be satisfactory.