The Individualist Spirit

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December 21, 2015 by Anders Ingemarson

When in the trenches of the day-to-day battle for rational ideas, victory sometimes appears distant and the future bleak. It may look like the wrong ideas, or worse, the absence of ideas, are gaining the upper hand.

At such times it is important to maintain context. Fighting for limited governmentindividual rights, individualism, a morality of rational self-interest, and a positive view of human nature is an epic battle against thousands of years of prejudice and discrimination against the individual. Winning will take a long time.

It is a struggle not unlike that which faced the 19th-century abolitionists fighting to change millennia of prejudice and discrimination based on race. The core of the abolitionist movement was not large; at its height in the 1840’s, it is estimated to have consisted of some 3,000 activists. Adjusted for population growth, it translates to about 50,000 individuals today, and with the advances in communications technology probably even less. That’s all we need: some 50,000 men and women armed with the moral certainty that individualism is right and all forms of collectivism and statism are wrong. 50,000 fighters writing, giving talks, educating, raising money, swaying public opinion, and pushing elected representatives in the right direction. 50,000 that keep taking two (or three or four) steps forward for every step back. Collectives and majorities may seem powerful but they don’t change the world—individual men and women do. Men and women with the right ideas, armed with moral conviction in the cause, and the courage to act accordingly.

Nobody captures the individualist spirit better than Badger Clark in his poem “The Westerner”. It has become an (irregular) end-of-year tradition here at SEPARATE! to share this hymn to Man with our readers as fuel for the fight ahead. We hope it will revive your appreciation for what made this country great, and what will eventually restore it to greatness: the individualist spirit.

Wishing you a successful 2016!

“The Westerner” by Badger Clark

My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains,
And each one sleeps alone.
Their trails may dim to the grass and rains,
For I choose to make my own.
I lay proud claim to their blood and name,
But I lean on no dead kin;
My name is mine for the praise or scorn,
And the world began when I was born
And the world is mine to win.

They built high towns on their old log sills,
Where the great, slow rivers gleamed,
But with new, live rock from the savage hills
I’ll build as they only dreamed.
The smoke scarce dies where the trail camp lies,
Till rails glint down the pass;
The desert springs into fruit and wheat
And I lay the stones of a solid street
Over yesterday’s untrod grass.

I waste no thought on my neighbor’s birth
Or the way he makes his prayer.
I grant him a white man’s room on earth
If his game is only square.
While he plays it straight I’ll call him mate;
If he cheats I drop him flat.
Old class and rank are a worn-out lie,
For all clean men are as good as I,
And a king is only that.

I dream no dreams of a nursemaid State
That will spoon me out my food.
A stout heart sings in the fray with fate
And the shock and sweat are good.
From noon to noon all the earthly boon
That I ask my God to spare
Is a little daily bread in store,
With the room to fight the strong for more,
And the weak shall get their share.

The sunrise plains are a tender haze
And the sunset seas are gray,
But I stand here, where the bright skies blaze
Over me and the big today.
What good to me is a vague “maybe”
Or a mournful “might have been,”
For the sun wheels swift from morn to morn
And the world began when I was born
And the world is mine to win.

(from “Sun and Saddle Leather”)

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