“The poor have been rebels but they have never been anarchists. They have got more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea on a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists, as you can see from the barons’ wars.” ~G K Chesterton
Even though I think of myself as most closely aligned with libertarians, this comic is exactly what I’m talking about. The delusion of individual achievement is the core/definition of the Islander ethic.
The terms used to explore our sociological texture are routinely usurped by their opposition. A classic example is how democrats and republicans switched sides at some point during our history. Democrat used to mean conservative while republican meant progressive.
So I find myself having to invent terms just to describe the basic set elements in play when exploring the collective interaction of sociological forces.
This post is about one of those terms.
Without getting bogged down into a book length history lesson I’ll just say that encouraging individualism is a great way to divide and conquer in terms of manipulating a massive group of people. The modern era of this began with Reagan. Put simply it was discovered by demographers and public relations types and other volition engineers that masses of people obsessed with their own individuality end up falling into distinct and internally homogeneous groups. Systems of classifying and codifying these styles of thought vary but virtually everyone who studies this phenomenon agrees it exists.
The easiest way to paint the paradox this presents is by saying snowflakes are unique. True, but that uniqueness doesn’t protect them from a snow shovel. Simply being unique is insufficient if the degree of difference is so minor that you still end up being part of a homogeneous set. And here is where we arrive at the topic of this essay.
A marginally new style of person is being encouraged to exist. Placing this effort in the context of other efforts is beyond the scope of this essay. As is proving that this effort exists. The purpose of this essay is primarily to simply define them. To explain what I mean by “islander” and perhaps allow others to make use of this term.
Islander of course literally means inhabitant of an island, and as subjectively fun that is to play with since you can define island arbitrarily and make anyone or everyone literally an islander, I don’t mean it in the geographic sense, but in the metaphorical sense. The people who believe the exact opposite of the following.
“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” ~John Donne
So when I say Islanders I mean those which believe themselves to be entirely singular, individual, unique, and isolated. Yet which in effect, word, and deed are very clearly a homogeneous group with only the most minor and superficial differences.
They typically engage in a very extreme example of responsibility diffusion, refusing to take even the raindrop’s portion of complicity in the flood. The consequences of their inactions for them completely don’t exist, though hypocritically they do exist for others so long as the other’s inaction is an action the islander takes. Employment for example, as if it were merely a matter of choice.
Islanders are control freaks of the highest order. They truly believe everything about the condition of their lives is a direct result of their conscious and willful actions. Or at least that’s the logical consequence of their espoused political views. They completely refuse to admit if not grasp the concept of non-scalable decisions.
They completely refuse to grasp the existence of the tragedy of the commons, taking on faith or deception the notion that if only all systemic constraints were lifted everything would be wonderful for them and their kind. They truly refuse to admit that sets of individually legitimate actions can none the less lead to illegitimate policy and consequences.
As one might expect from Matt Taibbi…
“Their whole belief system, which is really an endless effort at congratulating themselves for how hard they work compared to everyone else (by the way, the average “illegal,” as Rush calls them, does more real work in 24 hours than people like Rush and me do in a year), is inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can’t win votes when you’re calling people lazy, stoned moochers.”
Considering merging these documents. (Or maybe I should just say, see also.)