Monday, 3 October 2016

The death of the individual

The great striving of our time: division of labour benefits the species but sentences the individual to death.
August Strindberg - The Red Room (1879)

A chilling quote. If any shred of optimism is to survive, one is compelled to dismiss it and hope for the best. Or perhaps we will adapt to life without individuality. After all, it seems to be what globalisation has in store for us. Not all of us of course.  

It is not only division of labour, but the concomitant rise of process and process-driven people who devote their lives to chipping away at what we like to think is our individuality. Standards are not necessarily our friends.

Yet the world is evolving a maniacal preference for the standard, for people as reasonably well-defined economic and political entities living lives which are reasonably well-defined economic and political processes. It doesn’t feel exciting somehow. If feels like... yes Strindberg was right... it feels like death.


Demetrius said...

When you can divide labour to a sufficient degree then you can mechanise it. Are we all becoming mechanised as well?

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - more machine-like in what we do, yes.