The Old Rugged Cross

Genius.  Billionaire.  Playboy.  Philanthropist.

Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist.

For some reason I’m on the mailing list of an outfit called “Conservative Action Alerts.” (They seem more libertarian than the conservative mainstream, so that’s probably the connection.) Their latest missive complains that the word “individualism” has been “poisoned by deceptive propaganda that disparaged it as ‘rugged.’”

Well, not exactly. “Rugged individualism” was introduced as a positive term, either coined or popularised by Herbert Hoover (who liked to pose, at least sometimes, as a free-market type even though his actual policies were straight-up big-government dirigism). Admittedly it’s often used pejoratively now, but that’s mainly due to the (ludicrous) perception that Hoover’s ineffective response to the Great Depression was somehow driven by individualism.

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11 Responses to The Old Rugged Cross

  1. Lori April 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Firefox 11.0 Ubuntu;

    Individualism has a bad rep with me mainly because I associate it with free market ideology (which I despise). I always assumed “rugged” means “fit” in the “survival of the fittest” sense. So I either coined or popularized the term “thick individualism.” Thick individualism is to individualism as thick libertarianism is to libertarianism.

  2. MBH April 13, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    Safari iPad  iOS 4.2.1

    Actual disparagement would tap into “atomistic” or “autistic” individualism.

    • Roderick April 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

      Safari MacIntosh

      Yes. Ignoring the fact that atomism is anti-indvidualist.

      • MBH April 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

        Chromium 18.0.1025.151 Linux

        How do you mean?

        • Roderick April 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

          Safari MacIntosh

          See the opening section of this.

        • MBH April 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

          Chromium 18.0.1025.151 Linux

          Then what I want to say is: Conservatives themselves disparage individualism by claiming to represent it and — simultaneously — pushing policy that’s charged by atomistic views.

        • Roderick April 14, 2012 at 12:30 am #

          Safari MacIntosh

          That’s because they’re really atomic-powered robots.

        • MBH April 14, 2012 at 1:06 am #

          Chromium 18.0.1025.151 Linux

          Do those come with ‘off’ switches?

    • Lori April 14, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      Firefox 11.0 Ubuntu;

      That seems disparaging toward autistic people.

      • MBH April 14, 2012 at 8:34 am #

        Chromium 18.0.1025.151 Linux

        I have Aspergers and I’m fine with “autistic economics.” I think it captures the blind-spot in “supply-side economics,” for instance. After all, autistics and neurotypical supply-siders both tend to miss the significance of others’ demands — though the latter does so abstractly and the former much more concretely.

  3. Roderick April 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Safari MacIntosh

    When I said that Conservative Action Alerts “seem more libertarian than the conservative mainstream,” I was forgetting this.

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