Is the Pendulum Effect caused by Western Individualism?

Individualism draws people to separate themselves in order to blend into the masses.

Readership: All;

The Pendulum Effect is an enduring feature of Western Societies

In the west we are familiar with how seasons turn and times change.

  • The economy undergoes “Bear” periods of stagnation followed by “Bull” stimuli.
  • Political environments swing wildly from ultra conservative to super liberal.
  • Within society, social consciousness movements reach periodic pinnacles of fervor, followed by an era of good feelings.
  • Fashion and clothing styles swing from bearded homegrown, to clean-shaven formal attire, to stubbly Punk grunge, and then back home.
  • In the Church, religious revivals sweep from laissez-faire licentiousness, to guilt trips, to smart practicality, and then back to hedonism.
  • After young people graduate from high school, they soon leave home, often to travel, attend college, or find a job.  They also leave the church.  They do their own thing for a decade or so.  Eventually, they settle down and have children, and then they return to church.  This is a stereotypical pattern that has existed in Christian churches of the West.  This has gone on for as long as I can remember, at least since the 1970’s, and probably much earlier than that.
  • We even have a cycle of generations having the archetypes of Heroes, Prophets, Artists, and Nomads, as researched by Strauss et al.  (Click on link for more.)  These are more popularly known as successive, self-naming generations, the Boomers, Xers, Millennials, and so on.

This oscillating movement of social trends from one extreme to the other is a phenomenon commonly referred to as the Pendulum Effect.

I’ve often wondered why these patterns must exist.

Why is the West so uniquely WEIRD?

Several years ago, I had the notion that the Pendulum Effect was related to Christendom, but I could not identify how.

Over the summer, I studied the topic of Consanguinity in Modern European History (2020 August 28).  The authors of the original research concluded that the church had “created” individualism by forbidding consanguineous unions.  At the time, I didn’t see strong evidence for this claim, and concluded that it was a conjectured theory.  But if it’s true, then it would explain why individuality is associated with Christendom.

But in fact, Individualism is incompatible with traditional Christianity.

After I started traveling around Asia, I found that most young adults accompany their families to go to the temple and to participate in other regular cultural and religious traditions. 

After living abroad for many years, I have been amused to discover that there are no such pendulum swings in east Asia as there are in the West.  Younger Generations live in harmony with preceding Generations.  They share the family wealth and other resources as needed.

Yes, there are social movements, but these all call for a return to Common Sense and the common welfare of everyone, not just a select group.  There is seldom any violence.

Yes, there are political movements, but none of it becomes too serious unless there has been an egregious abuse of power and a full Revolution is afoot, but this is a rare moment in history.

Yes, there are fashion trends but they are focused on exuding a fresh, bright newness rather than stunning novelty, and this tends to be confined to the middle class.  Furthermore, there is no risqué challenge to the frontier of what would be considered morally appropriate and socially acceptable, as is typical of the West.  There are some people who do dress provocatively, but this is associated with their social identity as one who likes to live on the edge, not as a stratagem in the SMP or as an attempt to be popular.  Instead, the Eastern version of popularity is largely determined by how capable and responsible one is, and how well one can get along with others.

This is not to say that there is no individuality in the East.  In fact, all manner of individuality is tolerated as long as it is the authentic truth of who the person is, deep in the heart.  It is thought that everyone’s personal uniqueness must be accepted and cannot be argued with nor fought against.  But in the West, there are only certain genres of individuality that are considered acceptable, and people are expected to conform to these anti-karyotypes in order to be popular.  Actually, this is not true individuality at all, because it requires that everyone’s soul be stuffed into a mold of social and psychological conformity that is ominously prescribed by personal philosophy, education, and the media.

After reading RP authors for a while, especially Brett Stevens [1] and Ed Hurst [2], I’ve let go of the notion that the Pendulum Effect is somehow rooted in Christianity.  I’ve come to see that it’s more of an embodiment of Western Individualism.

Why does the West cling so stubbornly to the Religion Rebellion of Individuality?

Brett Stevens wrote an excellent description of Individualism.

“Individualism states that the natural order is not important, and that the individual should come first before all else.  The whims, desires, judgments, feelings and impulses of the individual are more important than any other order, including civilization, nature, or the divine.  Individualism became the dogma of the West with The Enlightenment,™ the Renaissance,™ and the rise of egalitarian thought (ideologies dedicated to human equality, which means “no one can be sent away”) centuries ago.” [3]

The spirit of individualism is that which tempts people to separate themselves, to withdraw from common sense, to fall under the spell of the egotistical self, to chant the party line, and to disrupt longitudinal social stability and order, all done in order for one to blend acceptably into the grey masses as a socially shining star and a spiritually dead cipher – and still feel gooed about it!

Conclusions

The periodic oscillation of political, social, and fashion trends is an evil spiritual influence that upsets both the peace within the human soul and the shalom of a society.  The stronghold of this oscillation lies in the western focus on individuality – radical liberalism, egalitarianism, the glorification of the individual, the intense elevation and favor of special interest groups, and the self-perceived triumph of continual self-styled rebellion.

Repent ye therefore, from the witchcraft of Individualism.  Pray that your personal oscillation shall come to a standstill, so that your soul may find peace and rest.

References

  1. Amerika (Brett Stevens): Solipsism (2020 September 6)
  2. Do What’s Right: Covenants 02 (2020 September 6)
  3. Amerika (Brett Stevens): Understanding Individualism (2017 July 9)

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About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
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16 Responses to Is the Pendulum Effect caused by Western Individualism?

  1. I have a couple of thoughts that perhaps reinforce this.
    First, people in the West who try too hard to be an individual and distinguish themselves end up looking more like clones than anyone else. Look at mugshots of arrested Antifa rioters – male, female or other, they might as well be the same person.
    Second, the norm of teenage rebellion is a Western thing. Asian youths often do not rebel or butt heads with their parents as they get older. Teenagers will openly tell you that family is the most important thing for them, while Western kids would be embarrassed to say that.
    I wonder how long the rebellious teenager trope has been going for. Does it predate the WWII? I don’t know.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Aren’t Asian cultures teaching kids family is everything from the get-go, i.e. ancestor worship?

      Western kids, especially boys but now girls also, are taught to be their own man.

      Are kids really returning to the church? Empty churches would seem to suggest otherwise.

      Like

      • I wonder if we are teaching them that rebelling is cool, i.e. corporate and media BLM worship, and that if we did not fewer would join these movements. Same re: hot bad boy trope in films. That’s not universal.

        Like

      • What is this “we are teaching them” shit Kemo-sabe? That is not going down in my lodge.

        Now, if you’re talking about the K-12 public education system and 99% of colleges fomenting unrest in the mush-brains that make up most of the population, then I think that’s a fair point. Still not all the kids are really down with the revolution. All those Antifa mugshots are of mental defectives, white chicks with daddy issues and YKW.

        Like

      • Jack says:

        @ KHH,
        In Asian societies, the extended family is the source and central purpose of life. In Chinese culture, filial piety is basically an institutionalized patriarchy. In Taiwan, Confucian philosophy, which stresses family values, is taught in school.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharkly says:

    God made us all unique individuals. We should not be conformed to this world, but instead be conformed to Christ by doing the will of His Father. Thus we can each become a different part of the body of Christ. Some are visionary eyes, some are helping hands, some are kidneys that filter the piss out of the body. Online, too many feel like they are called to be the asshole, perhaps because they are full of shit. LOL We should do our best to build up the rest of the body. Imagine a bodybuilding fellowship of believers. Not just building themselves up as individuals, but building their fellow men up, while also dethroning women off the judgement seat of God, and hedging women back into their appointed role of serving God by serving men, while men serve God by being His image while exercising dominion over all of God’s earthly creation including women.
    We men are by creation glorious individuals, we must work at unity, but only uniting with what is right, while distancing ourselves from what is evil. Many parts of our “Western” heritage were founded on Godly principles, and that superior tradition is what we should build upon, however there is also much more humanism, rebellion, and inhospitality than in many “Eastern” cultures, and we need to have the discernment to separate ourselves from those aspects of our culture instead of following it in those faults.
    Both Eastern and Western cultures are full of their own vanities while stressing different virtues. Our goal should be, to be the most God fearing, God obeying, God seeking version of the culture we were born into. To be lights in a darkened world. To seize back our best traditions and best cultural aspects and add to them Godliness to form a society that can be pleasing to our Creator. Don’t let the Hitlers of the world define what is pure Germanic goodness to a once shamed German nation. The German church should have beat Hitler to it, and been celebrating what was best about being both Germanic and Christian. If Western churches are out to beat down Western men for being Western men, and the world is pulling down our statues, who will lead the inevitable pendulum swing back to appreciating and defining what is Good and acceptable about our Western culture? Will it be us who fear God, or secular groups like the Proud Boys? Our heritage is one of the world’s best heritages, Western Christians should be leading the charge to honor and restore the finest aspects of it, not waiting for some militant group to restore things for us, and then hope to paint the name of Jesus on the side of their bandwagon after the secular revolution is over. I grew up singing “Onward Christian Soldiers”. We’re in a culture war. Are there no Christian soldiers?

    Like a mighty army moves the Church of God; Brothers we are treading where the saints have trod: We are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in Charity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. feeriker says:

    One wonders if the destructiveness that is the culmination of the Cult of Individualism and that is about to wreak havoc on the Western world will lead to introspection and a reversal of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. lastmod says:

    Yes, there are social movements, but these all call for a return to Common Sense and the common welfare of everyone, not just a select group. There is seldom any violence.

    LOL! Japan’s “east asian sphere of cooperation” which the brunt of China faced was one of the most brutal acts of man against man. China’s “Great Leap Forward” at the end of the 1950’s and early 1960’s as a social movement caused undue misery to millions of Chinese….as well as the Cultural Revolution, which was a social movement which destroyed culture, families, traditions and in some areas became a small scale internal civil war from 1966-1970…………….millions died.

    Pol Pot. Yes, a social movement caused the death of five million of his fellow Cambodians from 1975-1979. The Vietnamese in their social reforms and movements of the 1970’s destroyed life and eradicated what was now looked back upon as a very unique blend of western thought, cultural trapping of the French from their writing, to their cooking and language and many cultural norms.

    I remember watching the the Tianamen Square massacre…….hundreds of thousands of Chinese my age “poof” gone forever! The riots in South Korea in 1988 were hardly a peaceful social movement. Common sense returned because the of the Summer Games and the embarrassment South Korea was suffering internationally.

    A call to return to common sense seems to be in all cultures…..across the vastness of time…..usually after millions upon millions or a ton of people die.

    Like

  5. JPF says:

    Individualism is the denial that life has any meaning except the gratification of the ego… Russell Kirk

    This is a pointed and unusual definition for the term individualism. I agree that some (many?) in our culture act in accordance with this. The original post gives some examples and shows problems that result.

    My following complaint is more appropriately directed to Russell Kirk and his definition rather than to Jack or his OP; I understand that Jack wrote the OP using Russell Kirk’s definition and against that type of selfish individuality.
    I am reluctant to allow the term individualism to be viewed in this negative way however. As Sharkly mentioned above, God did create and gift us individually; to some he gave the gift of prophecy, others teaching, others serving, others encouraging, others governing, and others showing mercy (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Peter 4:10-11).

    Similarly, each man is to have authority over his own family (e.g. Colossians 3:18-21). Each family is therefore an individual unit; I have no authority at all over the families of Sharkly or Jack; I never have and I never will.

    We are shown that individually searching the Scriptures, to determine for ourselves whether our religious teachers are teaching correctly, is honorable; we are not to humbly accept whatever the church is teaching — even when an apostle is teaching. (Hello to my Orthodox friends…) See Acts 17:11 (my emphasis added) – Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

    So a man is individually gifted by God, to serve as God wants that particular man to serve for the one purpose of serving God. Each of our service is different; we are many members but one body.
    And a man is individually lead his own family. Stay out of my family’s decisions and I must stay out of yours.
    And a man should individually (perhaps with others) examine the Scriptures, to determine right theology, rather than relying on the teachers, even when those teachers claim to be “apostles”.

    1) A bunch of individuals, who seek to love God above all else, are a great force for good. And they are a danger to the servants of Satan.
    2) A bunch of individuals, who seek only their own gratification, per Russell Kirk’s definition, are a danger to good and the families and culture around them.

    Since I am from a church background, I automatically think of “individualism” within the bounds of the first type given above. Granted, that is not universal, and it is helpful for me to be reminded of how others think of individuality.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jack says:

    @ Sharkly, JPF, et al.,

    Definitions are in order.

    Individualism
    1a(1): A doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount.
    Also: Conduct guided by such a doctrine.
    (2): The conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals.
    b: A theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests.
    Also: Conduct or practice guided by such a theory.
    2a: INDIVIDUALITY
    b: An individual peculiarity : IDIOSYNCRASY
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/individualism

    Even dictionary definitions are suspect because many dictionaries are becoming converged. So you have to think for yourself whenever reading the dictionary, just like anything else.

    Thusly, definition 2a is a smurf, because the -ism at the end of individualism means,
    1: A distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory.
    2: An oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ism

    What you are describing in your comments above is individuality — how we are uniquely different from each other, and how we have different values, purposes, and inclinations.

    Individuality
    1: The particular character, or aggregate of qualities, that distinguishes one person or thing from others; sole and personal nature.
    https://www.dictionary.com/browse/individuality

    The other aspect of individuality which you alluded to (and which the dictionary doesn’t mention) is in being your true self — the person who God made you to be — not an NPC. In previous posts, I have called this authenticity. Authenticity is difficult to define, and dictionary definitions don’t yield any insight. Even science has had difficulty in pinning it down.

    One good description of authenticity is the congruence between our deeper values and beliefs (i.e., a “true self”) and our actions. When there is a lack of congruence, this leads to an emotional force that seeks reduction. This posits a scientifically elusive but recognizable concept—the notion that there is an “authentic” or “true self” from which this lack of congruence is being generated (Harter, 2002; Sheldon, 2004; Strohminger, Knobe, & Newman, 2017).

    One theory developed by Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman in 2000, included an Authenticity Inventory comprised of four key factors: awareness, unbiased processing, behavior, and relational orientation. Using this tool, they found that being authentic can provide a host of benefits, including a strong sense of self-worth and self-competence, a greater ability to follow through on goals, and more effective coping skills.

    This topic is unfurling. I should write up a post about these distinctions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JPF says:

      Excellent response re Individualism versus Individuality.
      Me-first attitudes are much different than a stubborn insistence that I have the right to lead my own life as I see fit, as I obey God’s commands, and as I use the particular skills and gifts God has provided.

      Liked by 1 person

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  8. Lexet Blog says:

    When you trace the roots of individualism back to people like John Locke, you see what the problem is: a rejection of the church and everything with it. The anti Catholics of the 16-1700s threw out the baby with the bath water, and rejected social life that revolved around the church.

    Combine that with the frontiersman mentality of colonists, and you get the individualist mentality that courses through American culture to this day.

    There are upsides and downsides to this, and the greatest downsides is to our church culture.

    As America domesticated, it’s become more liberal. As long as electricity exists, and the internet changes our existence, we will become more dependent and thus “communal.”

    Liked by 1 person

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