Individualism refers to a case whereby one strives to be self-reliant or independent. Individualists tend to resist any external influence in their day to day lives by the government or from any other member of the society. The proponents of individualism argue that an individual is the most critical element in the community and, hence, he/she must vehemently oppose any anarchy that is met out on him for him/her to remain liberated. Therefore, the primary objective of individualism is to sustain one’s rights and freedoms, which eventually lead to self-actualization. During the struggle for liberation in most states, various vital figures – such as Martin Luther King and Adam Smith – called for the enactment of policies that promoted their country’s individualism through publications. An evaluation of Martin Luther’s Open Letter to Christian Nobility, Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum, and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations points out that Martin Luther has the most compelling approach towards individualism.
The Theme of Individualism as Brought out by Martin Luther King
Through his Open Letter to Christian Nobility, Luther calls upon all the Christians to struggle for liberation from the clergymen who have continuously violated their (the Christians) right to air out their concerns in religious matters. According to Luther, the clergymen have been taking advantage of three rules – three walls – which have been the genesis of corruption in Christendom. To start with, the priests dictated that the temporal power that they hold has no any jurisdiction over them. Instead, they argue that the spiritual power supersedes the earthly powers (Luther, 1). Luther notes that this is in contradiction to the rules, including the Biblical laws that dictate that every person should be reprimanded whenever he/she does contrary to the law (Luther 4). Even though every sin should be met with the appropriate punishment (Luther 4), the clergymen have neglected this principle by taking advantage of the temporal powers to the extent that they cannot be deposed if they sin. The spiritual leaders have also resisted being corrected according to the Biblical stipulations; instead, they argue that the interpretation of the scriptures is a preserve of the Pope (Luther 1). Finally, Luther claims that whenever a council that would investigate the conduct of the clergymen is to be formed, they (the clergymen) argue that it can only be constituted by the pope (Luther 1). Luther is of the opinion that the Christians should arise and question the integrity of their leaders if need be. He notes that by being baptized, all of them are equal and, thus, no one should take advantage of the other. All that one should do is have faith in God and recognize that there is no authority in the church (Luther 7). Therefore, Christians should disregard anyone trying to take advantage of his/her temporal powers to prevent the institution of a council that would guarantee transparency in the church affairs.
The Theme of Individualism as Brought out by Francis Bacon
Bacon is of the opinion that an individual should always cross-examine the ‘subtlety of things’ in his/her environment. Afterwards, he/she should come up with a reasonable judgment on what ought to be changed (Bacon 3). He argues that human power and human knowledge have a common point where they meet, but their effect can only be made use in cases where the cause as to why they have converged is known (Bacon 5). According to Bacon, there are two main approaches a person can make use of while responding to issues within his/her environment. The first way is known as the customary way or the anticipating nature while the second one is the interpretative nature, which enables one to come up with reasonable judgments (Bacon 7). The anticipating nature forms the basis of consent among the members of the society and, hence, they cannot offer differing opinions even in cases whereby their welfare is threatened. On the other hand, the interpreting nature is anchored on the need of making sure that the societal members assent the proposed measures, and it includes the collection of views from every member (Bacon 7). However, he notes that no meaningful progress can be got through anticipation and, thus, everyone must embrace the interpretive means of growth. Baron is of the opinion that one should follow his/her conviction to achieve the desired goals. However, in doing so, he/she will have to counter any threats that might hinder the achievement of the aspirations.
The Theme of Individualism as Brought out by Adam Smith
In his text on The Wealth of Nations, Smith argues that a country’s prosperity is gauged by the worth of goods and services it produces. He notes that the best way to enhance the success of the state would be by increasing its production capacity to maximize the exports (Smith, 345). Nonetheless, the nation must also enact policies that regulate the importation of goods and services as they might adversely affect its economy. Smith is of the opinion that, for a nation to start developing, it must encourage division and specialization of labor, which would eventually lead to the advancement of better methods of production. With time, the improvements in the means of production would lead to an increase in capital accumulation, which implies that the investment levels of a country would increase (Smith 81). Also, Smith suggests that an economy would perform better if it operates under the laissez-faire mechanism and, hence, governments should avoid establishing monopolies and giving tax cuts to some companies. Therefore, Smith brings out some fundamental concepts of individualism by illustrating that an economy should put in place measures that would set it on the developmental path without relying on international trade. He also claims that nations should restrict importation of goods and services – while encouraging their exports – as a means of increasing their productivity levels, which would ultimately enhance them, achieve economic development.
The Most Compelling Approach
After carrying out the above analysis, I find Martin Luther’s approach to be the most compelling. Through the evaluation of the three walls built by the Romanists (that temporal power has no jurisdiction over the spiritual power, the interpretation of the scriptures can be made by the pope only, and that it is just the pope who can form a council), Luther awakens the Christians that they should stand up and speak against the vices that have been taking place in the church. He demonstrates that no every member of the congregation – irrespective of whether he/she is a spiritual leader – should be reproached whenever he/she does wrong. After baptism, all the Christians become equal and so no one should be hindered from making up favorable suggestions – such as instituting a disciplinary council – to ascertain transparency and the uphold of everyone’s rights in the church.