A focus on individualism shifts the blame from those with the actual power — and responsibility — to address the issues.
We are told that the problems in our lives are solvable mostly by individual action. This lie has been repeated so often that it has soaked down into the cultural bedrock of much of the western world and so is almost an inescapable starting proposition.
To be clear, individual agency is important to a point.
The focus on individualism is dangerous because it seeks to shift blame and responsibility for action from power structures and onto individuals. It can also serve as a barrier to necessary collective and communal action to problems.
Capitalism has encouraged us to believe that we as individuals can achieve anything (and if for some reason we cannot achieve our goals then that is entirely on us, rather than a reflection of any systemic issue).
There will always be value in trying, but we should not allow ourselves to get discouraged or feel guilty. We can work together to force politicians and CEOs to make the changes we demand.
We can find actions that are sustainable for us, reflecting our individual circumstances and the limits of being an individual human being in a busy, chaotic world.
Read the full essay: