How come that in this point in human history, individualism thrives and the myth of that everybody needs to work for his or her own interest has taken such strong hold?
All facts on the ground suggest the opposite.
No other time before have the individuals on this planet been so utterly dependent of millions of other people and of nature resources from all over the globe. It has always been a myth that each person is the “smith of his own happiness” (a Swedish proverb), i.e. is responsible for him or herself. Already as hunter and gatherers we lived in bands of people helping each other, taking care of each other, foster children, get food, protect each other. And in agrarian societies, the idea of the self-sufficient individual peasant has little ground in reality, mostly people were dependent on their kin, villages etc. if not enslaved by lords or masters.
So, we have always been dependent. But with increasing division of labour and with global networks we are utterly helpless if that context is taken away. Also in science, all progress builds on the accumulated mass of knowledge from previous generations, so regardless which discovery render a Nobel prize, it will always be a team work, with a team of living or dead people. Even our dependency on nature is as strong as before, or in a sense even stronger as we need much bigger parts of nature to satisfy our demands today, than before.
Therefore, it is flabbergasting how this idea of the individual has taken over our thinking.
Is it because our dependence of other people is faceless, we don’t know those people we need? That our dependence of nature is not linked to a particular field or farm or lake or forest, but to the abstraction “nature”?
Or is it, on the contrary, a kind of sub-conscious protest to all this dependency?