Is Individuality Necessary for Social Order?

What does it mean to be organized? Usually it means “stuff” is defined based on it’s individual characteristics, and put in a place based on that classification.

We organize our desk by recognizing pens, pencils, and markers as writing utensils, and putting them in the drawer. Then we categorize pencils, pens, and markers separately based on their individual characteristics, and put them on the left, middle, and right.

Okay so maybe I’m not that organized, but I can imagine that’s how someone might arrange a desk to create order by individualizing tools.

Josiah Warren (1798-1874) was an early American anarchist who actually set up and lived in various towns with anarchist and Utopian ideals governing the microcosm. For instance he created a time store, where labor was the basis for currency.

I’m reading a version of his works called The Practical Anarchist edited by Crispin Sartwell. Warren brings up an interesting point about individuality restoring things to order.

When one find his different papers, bills, receipts, orders, letters, etc. all in one confused heap, and wishes to restore them to order, what does he do but separate, disconnect, divide, and disunite them–putting each individual kind in an individual place, until all are individualized?

So it follows that to order a society, individuality must be able to flourish, so that we may place ourselves in the proper place in life, instead of being lost in the mess of the crowd.

Individuality must be respected so order can form. People cannot be treated like numbers, or classified arbitrarily into broad catagories of race religion and nationality by a bureaucrat who doesn’t understand their true uniqueness, strengths, desires, and skills.

But this absolutely does not mean individuals don’t need others. In fact we require others like musical notes in order to form a tune and harmony.

Musical harmony is produced by those sounds only which differ from each other. A continuous reiteration of one note, in all respects the same, has no charms for any one…

It is when the voice or an instrument sounds different notes, one after the other, that we obtain melody; and it is only when different notes are sounded together that we produce harmony.

Yet jumbles of notes are not music, they must be ordered properly, while still paying attention to the quality of each individual note.

It is up to the individual to take responsibility for his classification, according to Warren.

Josiah Warren goes on to say that each note must also be played properly to produce music, and therefore, “Responsibility must be individual, or there is no responsibility at all.”

This is similar to what I have claimed about the greater good: it must be decided by each individual, or the greater good does not exist. If the greater good does not take into account the individual, there is nothing “greater” about it; it is compartmentalized good for some, and bad for others.

Likewise, if individuals do not decide their classification, they have not been truly classified, because those deciding cannot possibly know as much about that individual as he or she does. Therefore top down classification of human beings is not organizing, it is simply putting random clutter in piles. It would be like if instead of filling one drawer with writing utensils from my desk, I filled the drawer with every green thing from my desk.

And while a maestro organizes musicians, instruments, and notes into a symphony, there is no expert here on earth that understands each individual human’s specific tone to the point where they can classify them.

That is up to us, as individuals; sentient notes coming together to form a beautiful melody.

So what do you think? Was Josiah Warren onto something, or can order come to a society without individualism? Comment below and I’ll reply!

8 thoughts on “Is Individuality Necessary for Social Order?

  1. Pingback: 10 Best Quotes From Henry David Thoreau’s Essay “Civil Disobedience” | Joe Jarvis

  2. Pingback: 10 Best Quotes From Henry David Thoreau’s Essay “Civil Disobedience” « Financial Survival Network

  3. Pingback: 10 Best Quotes From Henry David Thoreau’s Essay “Civil Disobedience” | Earths Final Countdown

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