stood except in relation to the divine —and woe unto tiie mortalrnruler like Creon, who contemned the power of Hades, orrnPentheus (in Euripides’ Bacchae), who tried to suppress thernrites of Dionysus.rnThe classic moment, best caught in the Parthenon sculptures,rnis the generation when the divine, the transcendent, andrnthe ideal are still glimpsed, as in an X-ray vision, beneath thernsurface of human life. E^arlier Greek sculptors had conceived ofrnthe human body in essentially geometric terms of angles andrnmathematical proportions. As the demands of realism were feltrnincreasingly in the sixth century, the formulas had to be constantlyrnrevised; however, the natural human form was never therngoal, but a human form in which both mathematical perfectionrnand our ordinary intuition of himian beauty were realized. Thernmoment of balance comes in the mid-fifth century, whenrnGreek scidptors accomplished the most realistic sculpture thernworld had seen without backing down a step on their mathematicalrnidealism.rnThat balance between the divine and human, between fleshrnand pure number, is the essence of classicism, and once it isrnlost, religion retreats into the realms of fables and philosophy,rnand artists must be content with flesh alone. The tension in thernGreek mind was only restored when they recovered the sense ofrnthe divine by learning to accept the man who is God.rnAnd so it went for a thousand years and more, when thernWestern mind recovered its virility, the primitive vigor of archaicrnGreece, in that richly creative millennium we used to call thernDark Ages. Another set of classic moments were reached in thernRenaissance, as one by one the cities and peoples of Europe rediscoveredrnthe person without, at least at first, losing their faithrnin the divine.rnBut this time aroiuid, the descent into the “all-too-human”rnwas more precipitous, histead of sinking into the glorious mediocrityrnof Hellenistic civilization which lasted, after all, for arnthousand years, we slid violenfly into the abyss. While philosophersrnand political leaders dreamed of being Napoleonicrnheroes and Nietzschean strongmen, in realit)’ they were onlyrnbecoming individualists, producers and consumers whose highestrnconception of community was mutual exploitation, forrnwhom love was sex without children. Their true philosopherrnwas neither Mill nor Nietzsche, but the Marquis de Sade, arnman born 200 years before his time. In the name of individualrnliberh’, Sade opposed capital punishment but championedrnabortion and women’s rights, (hi more playful moments, he alsorndefended the value of theft, rape, infanticide, and murder.)rnIf the “divine Marqius” could walk up and down upon thernearth today, he would give his blessing to the films and televisionrnprograms that encourage us to think of children not as extensionsrnof a family but as individual objects for sexual exploitation,rnand to a global political-economic system that, in thernname of “individual human rights,” has assumed more powerrnover the world than Greon ever dreamed of exercising in tinyrnThebes and that, like him, is bent on eradicating “the justicernthe gods have sworn to uphold.” Indeed the “gods” themselvesrnare made the enemy of the state, as if America were the Thebesrnof Pentheus and Greon.rnSade’s only disappointment would come from the realizationrnthat there was so little left for him to do. He might want to runrnfor some high political office in the United States, but he wouldrnfind those positions were already being filled admirably by hisrndisciples.rnDICTATIONSrnPairty of OnernHerbert I loover once praised the “American .system ofrnrugged ijidividualism.” (This was the same Hooverrnwho gave .’itiericans a trial run of New Deal socialism.)rnThe ideology of individualism is a classic piece ofrn19th-century claptrap. Once upon a time, people couldrnspeak of freedom and liberty without erecting an “ism” orrn”ology,” but as real liberty was destroyed, it was not replacedrnwith a frank admission of servility but with the twin abstractionsrnof “collectivism” and “individualism,” which hirnedrnout in practice to mean virtually the same thing: the destructionrnof the social conditions that enable some j)eople tornbe free.rnThe word “individual” was suspect almost from the start.rnBeginning as a tenn of medieval philosophy, it was used tornsignify that which could not be divided—-an atom, in otherrnwords. From there, it came to mean a single example of arnspecies of things, and from there it was downhill to thernword’s current sacred status, as in “freedom of the individual”rnand “individual rights.”rnHere in Middle /Xmerica, yon can still hear middle-classrncollege graduates use “individual” a.s a .synonym for “man”rnor “person.” Mencken blamed the newspapers of the C^.ildedrn,^ge, citing Dean Alford’s denunciation ot newspaper English:rn”You never read of a man, or a woman, or a cliild. Arnman is an individual, or a person, or a party; a woman is a femalernor, if unmarried, a young person; a child is a juvenile,rnand children en masse are expressed by that most odiousrnterm, the rising generation.”rnTo say “individual” instead of “man” is a harmless —if irritatingrn—mistake. More insidious is the persistent confusionrnof “individual” with “person.” While a person, in therntraditional ,scn,se, is a hunian being—body and soul—consideredrnin relation to his fellows and to his Maker, the individualrnis by definition an atom in the void, considered abstractlyrnb r itself The individual is, therefore a cipher, orrnrather art imaginary number.rnThe ver’ conce])t, when introduced into political discourse,rnannihilates all human distinctions between old andrnyoung, man and woman, wise and foolish, good and bad.rnTo thai extent, an individual cannot ])ossibly have liberty, eitherrnin a political or luoral .sense. Real liberty is always thernextension of some distinctive quality —a strong right arm,rnpersonal courage, the British rule of law. The individual’srnonly “freedom” is what the state is willing to grant to all withoutrndistinction, and a sh’ong rnan, possessed of both couragernand wisdom, will in the end have no more liberty than arnnewborn baby. That is, he will have none at all.rn— Ihimpt}- Dumptyrn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn