Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Rugged Individualism reconsidered

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The American ideal (for many males, at least) is the Rugged Individualist: the man (almost always) who does not depend on anyone else, who forges his own path, goes his own way, finds his own solutions. Survivalists are prone to this notion, as well as many others who feel that they fall short.

The Rugged Individual lives off the grid, on his own land, grows and hunts for his own food, and is beholden to no one. He loads his own ammo or makes his own arrows, etc.

And yet: it falls apart at the slightest push. Rugged Individuals have a high mortality rate: a broken leg or a serious illness, and they die: no one to care for them, no medicines. Indeed, a proper Rugged Individual would lack language (which, after all, has been created by Others), would not have clothing or tools save those he could think up and make for himself. Basically, the Rugged Individual staggers naked through the woods, depending on a stick and a sharp rock for his food and safety: not much of an existence.

I tried and failed to think of all the ways in which I depend on others: my birth, of course, but also my language, my clothing, food, housing, transportation, tools, cookware, entertainment, …  In fact, there’s very damn little that I create totally from scratch—even the shaving book is written in a language I had given to me, and an activity that was defined for me, using tools and products made by others, to groom myself according to social customs…

The Rugged Individual, in practice, is a gibbering, naked, short-lived animal—and desperately hungry, no doubt, not knowing which foods are best to eat at each season, nor how to hunt (all the hard-won accumulated knowledge humans pass to the next generation), but by God! beholden to none. The promise and premise both are false.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2012 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Daily life

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