Individualism, Society and The Future

9 min readJan 28, 2022


To save the world from the perils of individualism, we must shift the social context away from existing social institutions to networks that simplify and promote the free association of individuals.


A spectre is haunting the modern world — the spectre of individualism.

All the powers of the world have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre: The religious, the agnostics, the conservatives, the socialists, the governments and the people. Even the liberals who once championed individualism are now losing faith that individualism will remain the social order of the future. Individualism was supposed to bring forth a new era where human flourishing and progress could occur without hindrance from archaic institutions. Yet we find ourselves at an impasse where individualism alone could cause liberal civilisation to collapse in on itself.

“There is no society, only individuals.” (Paraphrased) — Margaret Thatcher, Conservative PM of the UK, 1987

The Downfall of Free Market Individualism

Industrialisation sped up a process that was happening since humanity discovered agriculture; as people met their basic needs for food and water, people were freed up to create products and services that enhanced the lives of others in various ways. Industrialisation accelerated this process and eventually the majority of people in the developed world were no longer spending their time toiling in agriculture. This changed human society in a few fundamental ways:

  • People were no longer bound to the land and so they were freed from and unbound from their communities.
  • Division of labour meant that people had to specialize in their work or risk being left behind by others who would.

These factors combine to make a people who can and do easily move from one place to another multiple times for different reasons including education and jobs. These factors are only increasing in importance.

Each of these moves means an individual’s friend networks have to be renewed. The more a person moves, the more time and energy they expend in creating and maintaining friend circles. There is also an increase in movement to places and contexts that are linguistically, culturally or ideologically different from where a person grew up, studied or worked earlier. This makes the creation and maintenance of friend circles even harder and can compound feelings of isolation.

The adoption of capitalism has been one of the greatest positive factors in the acceleration of human prosperity in aspects of all material needs. Yet it is simply an economic system, not an ideology, philosophy, religion or community. Capitalism is increasingly tearing apart many of the social institutions that have held society together without providing viable alternatives.

The age of the joint family feels like a distant memory for many in the developed world. The subsequent phase of individuation is already here with the globally increasing unpopularity of marriage which has been the basic building block of the family since humanity moved to agrarian societies. Marriage rates are down globally and divorce rates are at an all-time high. Fertility rates too are down globally with even countries like India reaching rates below replacement sooner than even the most extreme predictions had expected. This can be seen as a direct consequence of the spread of individualist liberal philosophy which gives people more freedom of choice both in economic and personal matters.

All this directly implies the breakdown of family due to a multitude of factors and a collapse of one of the fundamental pillars of community.

Religion, or the opiate of the masses as some would describe it, performed its function quite well for a long time, giving answers to unanswerable metaphysical questions and creating moral frameworks that could hold societies together. Religions played a prominent role in binding communities together with their various communal rituals. But religions have seen a marked decline in participation in secular societies recently.

The failure of religions to adapt has increased the need for alternate social spaces for community building and socializing and one of these options with increasing participation is bars, pubs or nightclubs where the only common interest/ideology required is the interest in participating in the rituals of consumption of some magical substances. While this is definitely seen as a positive by Lord Dionysus, the consumption of these substances has a plethora of negative side effects and is not a particularly creative or productive pursuit outside of the socializing. There have to be alternate ways of community building without a return back to submission to large social institutions.

We are living in a world that is being increasingly digitized. All aspects of our lives including transportation, food, banking, education, entertainment, work, socializing, etc now have digital alternatives that are only increasing in popularity. As everything moves online, there is less of a need for face-to-face interactions. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend and has, on the one hand, shown how much of our lives can be digitized and on the other, how much we truly value in-person interaction.

This digitization also means that an increasing percentage of our jobs and education now primarily consists of interacting directly with information through computer screens and not directly with other people.

The increase in time spent on video streaming sites along with the growing domination by micro-celebrities and “influencers” of social media means less time is spent in bi-directional social interaction with people in one’s own life.

As this process of digitization continues, in-person social interaction will become more prized as other digitized commodities continue becoming cheaper.

The concept of the metaverse as expressed by the CEO of the megacorp previously known as Facebook paints a striking picture of the future where everything is simulacra and Meta customers value it more than physical reality. Metaverses are virtual post-scarcity worlds, induced with artificial scarcity through the blockchain to give ephemeral entities value.

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth — it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.”

The metaverse may not exist in any substantial way as of yet but we already do spend an increasing percentage of our time in virtual worlds of all kinds. Video games and other interactive entertainment consist of these worlds and have been on an exponential growth trajectory over the decades.

With social media going mainstream, people are able to easily find and connect with people who share the same beliefs and preconceptions as themselves. This has positives in that these different beliefs and ideologies can get fleshed out and so we are witnessing a Cambrian Moment with regards to differing philosophies, political or otherwise.

But this has also meant that communication between different people of different political views and metaphysical beliefs is becoming harder and we see this manifest as the dysfunction permeating many liberal democracies which were designed to work through debate and communication between the citizens with different ideas. There is also the looming threat of political violence if all communication breaks down.

In the book “Bowling Alone”, Robert D. Putnam highlights the visible and marked decrease in attendance of religious communities and other kinds of societies, clubs and local political organizations in the USA.

Putnam also outlines how American (a liberal) society is spending less time focused on improving social capital. Social Capital Theory proclaims social connections as essential and as an amplifier of social mobility.

As we move forward with specialisation on the economic front there is an increasing need to network to connect with people who have access to specialized knowledge, niche skills or professional connections.

Referrals still being the major way potential employees connect with employers highlights the role social connections play in the way individuals move up the socio-economic ladder. But if there are fewer connections for people as a result of fewer social interactions in a given community, the social mobility of the individuals in that community is significantly reduced.

Putnam makes the argument that the reason that America was able to function as a capitalist society was due to the social mobility that existed at the time. He elaborates that this was due to America being a classless society when compared to Europe. In America, the people of various classes could easily talk to each other both inside various large institutions and outside of them leading to a dissolution of class. As this social mobility breaks down due to decisions by individuals to move away from public forums and into virtual/online worlds, we see the return to more insular identities.

Putnam blames the television for most of the change in social interaction. The TV is a passive consumption device and smartphones are increasingly serving the same purpose and indirectly disconnecting us from other people.

All of these ways that we are disconnected from social institutions mean that we are more socially isolated than ever. There is a lot of research that shows that this social isolation has many adverse effects on the health and well-being of individuals. These effects include,

  • significantly increased risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
  • increased risk of dementia.
  • increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

Crime too occurs at higher rates in areas where people don’t know or interact with the people who live around them.

Why not Abandon Individualism?

It is easy to look at the downsides of individualism and advocate a move back to large-scale social institutions for the sake of community and the benefits that community provides. Such arguments have been made by thinkers from all political and philosophical persuasions. Yet individualism has succeeded thus far due to the freedom and agency it gives people to make their own decisions concerning their lives.

The majority of people prefer to be able to make their own decisions rather than submit to values and rules imposed onto them by society’s arbitrary metaphysical opinions.

A belief in individualism facilitates the flourishing in the diversity of thought, and the interaction of the various ideas to create better and more novel ideas is the primary engine that expands human knowledge and facilitates human progress.

Individualism allows people to pursue their curiosity and passions wherever they may lead them. This makes culture less bland and humanity more interesting. It also has the added benefit of people striving for personal achievement and this is another way individualism benefits society at large.

Individualism is also the idea that lies at the heart of classical liberal philosophy, which was the driving force behind the creation and popularisation of many political innovations that we can’t imagine living without including human rights, secularism, democracy, equality before the law, etc.

Our Vision

We have a dream that one day all of humanity will be free to be who they really are, unbound by other people or their ideas.

While we are not even attempting to answer deeper metaphysical questions, we do, on the other hand, intend to solve specific issues that are known to help mitigate problems indirectly caused by individualist philosophy.

We believe the march towards a more digitized and individualist society presents both a challenge to humanity and also an opportunity. As more time is freed up for people to spend in settings that are based around leisure there is an opportunity to channel some of this time into building social connections.

We want to make it easy for people to create, join and move between friend circles organically through the use of a tool that aggregates social plans from different social circles together onto a single unified platform.

We aim to achieve our ends through our tool named ZIGG ( ).

This boost in the facilitation of freedom of association allows people to retain their individuality and freedom of thought that could be eroded when they are part of a stagnant social circle. This ease of movement across social circles also enables people to focus on different dimensions of their personality with different social circles which might not be possible when people are part of only a few social circles.

Sometimes, people just want to go socialize and not have to worry too much about the details like with whom, where, doing what, why. With ZIGG we aim to make socializing as easy as hitting the “play” button in an online multiplayer video game.


Together as fellow individuals, we must unite to oppose traditional individualism and all its enemies to build a bold new individualism that remedies the limitations of previous interpretations of the philosophy.

Arise, individuals of the world for you have nothing to lose but the chains that shackle you to your social circles!

  1. Join the revolution by signing up for our community:
  2. Join us in building and promoting the systems that will facilitate this revolt:
  3. Support our movement with a crypto donation:


Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash