Chapter IX – Myth 8: Capitalism Promotes Individuality and therefore Human Development



—Individuation in History

—Individuation through Democracy and the Industrial Revolution

—Identity through Consumption

—School for Consumption

—Anti-Individuating Sexism

—Capitalists’ Indifference

—The Individual and the Group

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Excerpt from Chapter IX


An individual is simply defined as someone separate from other individuals. Individuation – or attaining individuality – is a different concept that goes far beyond the mere fact of separation and is a developmental process. One can be an individual without being individuated.

In the individuation process, the individual becomes aware of his many differences from all others. He does not draw his conscious identity from others, from his function or from any group, but from who he alone is – separate through his uniqueness, but not alienated from others. Individuation is internal personal freedom and self-awareness that manifests as a generally expanded consciousness, independence of thought, and an increased autonomy rejecting of hierarchies. The psychoanalyst  Karl Jung described the individuation process as that which “brings up the true personality of a person….People become harmonious, calm, mature and responsible. They feel and act like parents to the rest of humanity. They protect and promote the ideals of life, freedom and justice.”[1]

Arriving at individuation has been a historically long and complex process that, unlike differentiating physical characteristics, is contingent for the most part upon the prevailing socio-economic conditions of any given time. While its defenders assert that capitalism is the most fertile ground for both the individual and the development of individuation, it is at best ambiguous about both and at worst their mortal enemy.



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