John Ralston Saul (on corporatism and individualism)

In The Unconscious Civilization (1995), Saul traces the rise of individualism in the West, but complains that the term has been “hijacked” in modern times:

“Nowhere…was the individual seen as a single ambulatory centre of selfishness. That idea of individualism, dominant today, represents a narrow and superficial deformation of the Western idea….[We are] a society addicted to ideologies – a civilization tightly held at this moment in the embrace of a dominant ideology: corporatism…[It] causes us to deny and undermine the legitimacy of the individual as a citizen,…which leads to our adoration of self-interest and our denial of the public good….The overall effects on the individual are passivity and conformity in those areas which matter and non-conformism in those which don’t.”

John Ralston Saul is a Canadian thinker, writer and activist for the public good. I was lucky enough to watch from close range, in the mid-2000s, as he continued to develop the ideas he put forth in The Unconscious Civilization (1995) and to poke and provoke conversation about ideas that matter, from the neighbourhood to the globe. He’s an intellectual fireball. In the midst of watching too much basketball and reading too many student papers, I’m stealing the chance to re-read Saul.