Vacation II

Was not very lucky with the weather. Three consecutive days of rain. Studied On Liberty of John Stuart Mill from 1859 instead. Darwin published his book Origin of Species 1859 and it is interesting to examine whether the 'survival of the fittest' that was in the air influenced Mill in his book with his idea of 'freedom to the people unless it means harm to other people'. After all evolution of society via eccentricity is along the same lines as the development of more successful species.

So far I found out that Mill knew about Darwin but he did not think time had proven his thesis just yet. That would indicate that he was not influenced by Darwin's idea directly. I don't know if Mill's ideas made the same splash as Darwin's on the discussion of the era but it is less probable that Darwin was influenced by Mill. However, at this time it had become established beyond doubt that societal development was driven by great individuals of science that broke intellectual ground which would mean that the influence that stimulated Mill was of a more general character.

“The modern regime of public opinion is, in an unorganized form, what the Chinese educational and political systems are in an organized; and unless individuality shall be able successfully to assert itself against this yoke, Europe, notwithstanding its noble antecedents and its professed Christianity, will tend to become another China.” This a conclusion of Mill's from On Liberty. Apparently Mill did not want to see a development of Europe in the direction of collectivist China. One can see the same discussion in the New York Times today where the US, wary of the relative decline of the Western civilization, worries that Asia will take over.

Mill did not discuss the relationship between the US and Britain but Ralph Waldo Emerson, who lived across the pond during exactly the same time, was more upbeat in his estimate. He vouched for self-reliance. Don't read too many books. Create instead! We still hear the echoes of this in the current "innovate away from the competition". In Mill's time it was the British Empire that was in decline. Now it is the Western civilization. Will Asia become the next United States in world development? In other words, will collectivism take over? Collectivism on crowded areas vs. individualism on an expanse?

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