ludimagister said (and I strongly recommend his blog. It’s quite good!):
In (hedonistic) utilitarianism, the goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The utility of an action is defined with reference to its consequences on the senses. But, as admirers of Nietzsche, we regard pleasure and pain as accidental outcomes, we choose to ground ourselves in our Will.
Here, in existential utilitarianism, the objective is to maximize existential well-being. The utility of an action is therefore defined with reference to one’s embodied values, grand passions, and life-project—i.e. one’s Will. Instead of pleasure and pain, we focus on meaning and value (not as ‘objectively’ defined, but as defined in relation to one’s own Will). Thus, we would welcome challenges, we would seek challenges, since we seek the fulfillment of our Will. And, the ultimate success for us would be amor fati. This mindset, as a practical tool, would be useful for self-actualization, for self-becoming.
But, beware, this idea is not to be confused with existentialism. Existentialist ideas like the other, the look, bad faith, etc. are irrelevant for us—even misleading.
The problem with Utilitarianism — and I understand here that Existential Utilitarianism you’re proposing is different the usual school of Utilitarianism, but just bare with me for a moment— is that it’s really just a disguise for the enforcement of some standard of Normativity, especially the enforcement of normative morality and normative value judgement. It assumes that every action and its moral consequence is predictable and equal. It assumes that everyone places the same value on the same things, and that everyone will interpret/react to the same things in the same way. Also assumes that everyone all has the same information available to them.
Worst of all, like many moral theories, it’s based on the biasthat the rational, level-headed, reflective mind, who has been schooled in philosophy, ethics, and the delicacies of high culture, is always there to make good moral judgement with allthe information available. It does not foresee the breakdown of the human organism under mob behavior or in the complexities of political authority. It doesn’t foresee how humans behave under indecision, stress, suffering, sickness, violence, or even less extreme states of being like leisure, happiness of the decision-maker, and removedness from the situation.
That said however…
It seems that you’re proposing spreading the gospel of self-actualization and self-sublimation — spreading the ethos of individuals becoming responsible for their own freedom, and all the awesome stuff that goes with that. This is good! We need more of this, however—-
The only problem with such movements — and I don’t mean to use you as the reference point in particular, because this is an issue inherent to the very condition of movement-making— is that it attracts droves of people who are just looking for something to identify themselves with, and who don’t actuallythink for themselves, but just follow. They may quote Nietzsche or Ayn Rand or Camus or Sartre, but their very inclination and behavior is that of the slave. They need aGroup for the sake of the Group.
In this case, the Group they will be trying to fit into is the one that takes the rhetoric of Individuality as its Group mascot/god/slogan. The rhetoric of actual individuality and self-sublimation thus becomes co-opted for the establishment of the Group, and this Group fashions its own dogma, customs, symbolism, value judgements, and creates the need for Group acceptance.
We see this happen with the individualistic movements like Objectivism and Libertarianism. We see this going on in outside of the Western world where power groups try to look “Individualistic” in the way that the West has packaged for them, in order for them to meet the West’s approval (the institutions of the State, “secularism”, etc.)
We see this in the West itself with the Walmart-branding of rebels, revolutionaries, and other free-spirits on T-shirts, pop music, the Mass Media. We see this in Western counter-culture movements like the Hippy movement, Punk, Goth, Hip-Hop, even hipsters and yuppies.
Clothing, Body modification, style, slang, language — the whole style that identifies one with one of these advertised-as Counter-Cultural, Individualistic, Rebellious groups, thisstyle become the *Normative* way to express your individuality — you may self-sublimate *only* on the terms that Society has given for you. They no longer are an actual expression of individuality — they are an expression of branding for a movement that will only declare its individuality with framework given to it by society.
(*No, I do not hate the style of these subcultures, I don’t hate art. I despise how they are co-opted and Normativized.)
“Fuck the system” isn’t wearing the t-shirt, or a tattoo, or spray-painting a graphic — that’s just advertising for the idea (or at some point it was), and advertising that gets confused for the fight for self-sublimation itself. To “fuck the system” is taking the fight directly against the institutions, and against your own self-limiting weaknesses, that are the condition of your own oppression.
Again, as I said above, this feature I just described whereIndividualism is co-opted for the Group is just the pitfalls to the very condition of group-making. It goes way back to the foundations of the first religions, cults, tribes, and societies. Humanity can be so disgustingly slavish.
In other words, slaves will be slaves. The slave has just learned to disguise themself — to deceive themself — by wearing the “Fuck the system” T-shirt only insofar as the slave has met society’s terms of what can and cannot be called adequate resistance.
But the slave is not destined to be always be slave. The slave can be liberated from this tragic cycle of slavery, and from the lies that maintain slavery.