When Individualism Becomes Narcissism

Posted: May 24, 2018 in Powerful Ideas
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The following quotes are from Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed, by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter (HarperCollins Canada, Kindle Edition).

I couldn’t say it better myself. Heath and Potter have identified the underlying motivation and process of how individualism shades into narcissism. This is what happens when identity politics and self-centredness go too far. It’s what Jordan Peterson talks about as being analogous to the extreme right’s focus on group/ethnic identity. However, it’s not about equality of outcome. It’s about narcissism and wanting everyone to conform to your personal wishes and to pay the price for your idiosyncrasies.

“Whenever you feel that society is forcing you to conform or treating you like a number, not a person, just ask yourself the following question: ‘Does my individuality create more work for other people?’ If the answer is yes, then you should be prepared to pay more. Most institutions in our society have a system that they follow. At the fast food restaurant, at the bank, in a hospital, there is a standardized system for interacting with clients and delivering services. Such a system is generally designed to maximize the service that can be provided at a given price (or given certain budgetary resources). Individuals who refuse to follow the system not only cost more to service, they often gum up the works for everyone else. In this context, individualism often shades over into narcissistic disregard for the needs of others.” (Kindle Locations 3730-3736)

“While there is nothing wrong with individualism per se, it is important that no one person’s individuality be secured at the expense of other people’s time and energy.” (Kindle Locations 3747-3748)

“If your individuality is such that it requires other people to wait on you hand and foot, then you should be prepared to pay an arm and a leg.” (Kindle Location 3752)

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