By Steven William
How terribly difficult, it seems for many, to tell individuals apart
from one another, except in those situations where only a small number
interact with one another in real time and in real talk. Certainly, myself
in the company of three or four is not much of a concern, since I can
still, to some degree, control the conversation and enjoy the presence
of those who may share some common interest. I can act, react, relate
to, or stand silent in such company, without worry, because there I am,
present and ready. But in the midst of three or four hundred, my individual
presence becomes taken for granted, my face mistaken for the crowd, even
to the point where my individual being and rational is not only discouraged,
but outrightly stifled; my individuality degenerates almost to the vanishing
point. Such is the nature of a crowd, a collective; individuality becomes
problematic. And if I toss in the argument that every crowd is automatically
self-exciting, and say if I were to increase the number to three or four
thousand, not only is there the absence of individuality, but of common
"The crowd-delirium can be indulged in, not
merely without a bad conscience, but actually, in many cases, with a positive
glow of conscious virtue. For, so far from condemning the practice of
downward self-transcendence through herd-intoxication, the leaders of
church and state have actively encouraged the practice whenever it could
be used for the furtherance of their own ends."
Here, Mr. Huxley could have well included the leaders of environmental
movements, or union movements, as in the case of strikes. The point is,
however, that what is happening to the individual, who at one time exhibited
signs of reason and free will guided by the light of ethical principles,
is a reduction to mere use, what I consider to be the greatest evil imaginable.
The mob rulers, those trained and skilled in manipulative techniques,
place a restriction on what was a free man who joked and cried and erred
and meandered off into tomfooleries, and limit him despite what he may
imagine or think, to the fulfilling of an aim outside of his own personal
destiny, while making it appear as if he desired it.
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