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In childhood, you drown in shallow water if your mother doesn’t watch you walk along the shore; in adulthood, you drown while the public watches. For this reason, American individualism is not essentially a political stance—to be a loner, to be alone, even amidst kin and neighbor, means also to have the power to disavow that which disavows the self. The divide in America between coastal elites and flyover-states is drawn at the same time rising seas erode coastlines while inland territories fall prey to thousand-year drought events. Identified with the landscape, severed from monopolistic histories of European countries, American life falters homeless between mass distribution of commodities and a paranoid, dis-integrating relation to novelty unsecured by market forces: the thoughts and feelings of the single individual. The myth of “the West,” central to the destiny of the United States, was preceded by the reality of westward expansion, which required a sacrifice of the individual for the fulfillment of market promises. As this myth made contact with modernity’s cult of disillusionment, the original logic of the market displaced the individual’s role in the making of history, returning western expansion to its original Siren call, yet reified, as a law of nature. Those who do not work do not eat is transformed into the dictum: those who work are not entitled to eat. Recent extreme political polarization reveals a two-sided nature of abandonment. While those who espouse “Make America Great Again” have been abandoned by the conservative myths that have for them made distinctly American suffering intelligible, those who find these “basket of deplorables” unredeemable have abandoned their feelings that make suffering itself intelligible.