Autonomous Individualism

Nobody asked but …

This week I have been most gratified to hear the latest podcast episode of Voluntaryist Voices, a talk by Richard Ryan.  The lecture is about, among other things, the autonomy that voluntaryists purport to seek.

In the current crazy period — presidential politics confounded with a global pandemic that no one seems to understand — there seem to be far too many who have plastered themselves with labels, inaccurate labels.

Until I heard Professor Ryan, I was in danger of mislabeling myself.  For the past year, I have been confused because I have not been aware of failing to be a voluntaryist, many longtime friends seemed to be going down a garden path, and by implication I was being called unpleasant things since I was taking care of myself.  In other words, I was wearing a mask when it seemed prudent.

Dr. Ryan’s assertion that captured my thoughts was — gaining autonomy was not my only quest.  I must further achieve this while being an individual.

According to Dr. Ryan there are at least two kinds of people who feel they have reached freedom, autonomous individualists and autonomous collectivists.  Also, there are unfree individuals and unfree collectivists.

The first subset, whom I equate with voluntaryists, are those who value self-consultation as their primary guidance.  They may seek advice from others, but will weigh every piece of evidence on its own.

The second subset may consider with a grain of salt but using more belief rather than logic in their thought processes.  Thinking: “politicians,  doctors, and the market know more than me, so I will go along with the crowd.”

The third subset gives more credence to authority, preferring to have authorities to shoulder responsibility.  Their self perception sees an eccentric.

The fourth subset are authoritarian statists, collectivists.  They see themselves as leaders, by violence and coercion.  Misleaders is what I see them as. Others see themselves as followers, slaves more likely, who must follow commands for there to be order.  They believe there can be no order unless everyone practices only one kind of order.

— Kilgore Forelle

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