Individualism: Rugged and Refined

1997-12-06

Twice in the past two days, I've read Pierre Lemieux's essay Of French Caryatids and American Rednecks, which has really provoked some hard thinking on my part. He explores the idea that there are two basic flavors of individualism: American and French, rugged and refined. I see no necessary conflict between the French and American flavors of individualism, but I know very few people who have successfully integrated the two. Many of the libertarians and Objectivists I know have absolutely no appreciation for beauty and joie de vivre, while artistic types who share my love of the finer things have no appreciation for liberty and find my interest in libertarianism (or, as I am leaning more and more, anarchism) anomalous and disturbing. Can individualism be both rugged and refined?


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