The mind-control, Invasion of the Body Snatcher movie says something very-important (however basic it is conveyed, and arguably lacking the message is in some ways) about the human condition; they are however incredibly basic and fail in expressing the Collectivist (that is consequential or determinist) nature of the Self. In my essay “To Keep or Lose Freedom – on Joy and its Relation to the Self” I examine the psychological nature of pleasure and pain and how variances of both either destroy or shape the Self depending on their degree and form. In a way the Borg/Body Snatcher motif captures a very-similar truth about the human psyche or “soul” to be poetic. That human beings cannot be fully human if they are operating under the mentality of Hedonism. But the IotBS movies also delve into an aspect of the human condition I may have missed in that essay, namely a critique of both “Collectivism” in a derogatory sense of the word and Egoism.
The Collectivism I refer to is not that of the Russian Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin. It is rather the simplistic “collective” of sacrificing one’s self to find a home in the material or psychological security of the State or God. It is a critique of those who would self-abnegate and relinquish the rights of others to receive contentment and loss of freedom of the body and soul – in the form of Government this involves prisons and laws; in the form of God it takes the form of Divine Commandments and the existence of Hell, as well as a fundamental servile mentality which is difference than a mentality of willful charity or helpful creativity and intelligence. There are some who view being fully human as too difficult for them to bear. In the films, destruction of the self is immediate and never voluntary; while in reality, it is of course a process of deadening the Self in various ways for various reasons, largely having to do with, again, finding the human condition unsavory or daunting.
This mainly takes the form in both accepting reality as it is (finite; particularly in-regards to both individual human existence and likely collective human existence and therefore the value of any and all human endeavors and achievements) and “creating” a self-defined purpose to one’s life that both retains the uniqueness of the individual and the social utility contained in the originality of any legitimately sincere thinking human being. There are some people who being a “one” being a “whole person” is too painful, so they retreat; some take the Hedonist route that I mentioned in my “To Keep or Lose Freedom” essay, and some take the route of self-abnegating Collectivism which is entirely different (in-fact it is perhaps a complete reversal) than the Collectivism of Bakunin and of Social Anarchy in-general.
However, the films also contain the wisdom that is the furtherance of the other end of Positive Liberty. That is, the Self must not only due-to its material nature receive material sustenance and the conditions to further its potential, by its very nature as both a thinking and communal thing must work towards furthering the existence and potential of others in some small way – Egoism becomes invalidated in other words. This is seen in films like Body Snatchers or The Faculty, where they have the chance to leave town, but they instead stay in an attempt to save others. They realize not only that they cannot escape without freeing others, but that if they could escape in a material sense, they would still be confined to being amongst the Pod-People. Forever plagued with guilt, boredom and a litany of other feelings – or suffer the same fate as a hermit. To be free, others must be free, and more-so, one must commit one’s time in dedication towards the growth and freedom (the two being largely one-and-the-same thing) of others, otherwise there will always be a part of the Self that will remain dormant or crippled by lethargy and higher states of phenomenogical existence (such as compassion) that will not be successfully reached and acted upon – the two creating a vicious cycle of the other.
The “Egoist Self” that Stirner talks about is a crumpled or unsure self. It constantly is in search of either pleasure or reassurance of individual value through gymnastics of logic, rather than following the simple route that one has value through creating value in the world; which can never exist in large degrees if it does not affect others. Strangely enough, in both Stirnerism and the Collectivism of Theism and Statism the Self is relinquished for something illusory and very-similar. On one hand, grandiose self-contained self-worth of an Ubermenscian sort; on the other, the grandiose feeling of sacrificing one’s Self to receive purpose and security either in Christ or in a State-directive that forces others to obey for a “common good.” To criticize this good is not to be in the same philosophy or have the same mentality of Stirner or Rand. The difference is while they view all moral obligation as a type of sin against Rational Egoism, a Collectivist in the Bakuninist sense realizes that one’s moral obligation is intrinsic to the self and when both properly understood and acted upon both not a burden to the Self and something that actually will aid others while acts along the lines of the Spanish Inquisition or banning political dissent for some social good will only end in the furthering of chains, both material and mental. In Social Anarchy the self is created, shaped and retained through contact and self-defined creativity with others.
Social Anarchy (in its rejection of Egoism, Government, Competition and Faith) is more than a philosophy of the material welfare of society and all those in it; it is a philosophy that wishes to retain the welfare of the spirit or Self and holds that two are paramount and intertwined. Neither can be ignored and yet to give one its proper understanding would be to do so for the other. Material welfare that is sustainable can never come from on-high. It has always come from both the intelligence of humans and the work-effort of everyday humans – not Capitalists or men of status. And to receive proper material credit, one must control one’s product, otherwise one will always not only suffer existentially but materially and vice-versa. The individual Anarchist holds that if we simply remove profit than the worker will be fine, but the Mutualist is one who believes that profit is only financially, profit, extortion from one party upon another is also psychological and sociological. The deadening of the Self and the regulation of both thought, action and habit is something that is inherent in hierarchical organizations.
The soul is both sovereign and interdependent. Like an organism that both has a distinct shape and requires external resources to live – as well as being in-part defined by externalities. The soul is a material thing, both requiring much and naturally yearning to give much. The creative mind needs much, but it has a yearning to do much, both for its own sake and for others, therefore obliterating the distinction between one’s self and others in a way that is organic, rather than destroying the mind and welfare of all by bringing about a type of artificial and forced Collectivism that comes about through Statism, or religious indoctrination. The Self becomes legitimate, becomes both stable and consistently growing by seeing their Self’s identity as intertwined and in-part defined in the relations and health of their community. Even before the existence of the Borg, there was a Star Trek episode that encapsulated the theme and message of this essay quite well. There was a machine that lobotomized a town, and in doing so, if it were not for Kirk and crew, dooming the civilization to not only a meaningless existence, but an existence that could not sustain itself. So is true if we follow the artificial nature and mentality of Bourgeois Egoism, Christianity (relinquishing of the self and the material world to wait for salvation in a hypothetical other-world) or Statism (relinquishing one’s rights for a hypothetical world where all is provided and secure, not through healthy material functioning, but through force that would in theory stave off the illness of the poor material functioning that Idealist mentalities such as Capitalism, Religion and Statism).
But, if we hold anything dear on this planet, it must be the unique character of the human mind – something that only a few other species come close to replicating. That is, we must remember that a destruction of ourselves loosely defined in the long-term is completely meaningless, if in the short-term there is already a death of the Self – which happens simply by having a meaningless existence or by having one’s self un-realized by being victims to the Idealist philosophies I stated above; though there is a crucial distinction in merely falling victim to an ideology and being enslaved by it by retaining it psychologically, which can happen on both the conscious and sub-conscious level – and the sufferings both Positive and Negative, that is both bodily agony and suffering through fundamental lacking, that inevitably follow and precede if there was ever a Self that had opportunity to arise to begin with.