No 12: Oneism

ISMISM New concepts for the Nineties

Share
Related Topics
One adj n single. Also pron I, me, eg "One would like to help, but one really is too busy looking after oneself." Increasingly important number as groupings involving more than one person, eg the family, decline in importance. Now one in five young women in the UK is likely never to become a mother, the number of lone households is rising along with the divorce rate. These social trends have rendered older notions of collectivism out of date. Whereas egoism used to do moral battle with altruism, the war is now all but over: no one can really be bothered doing anything for anyone else.

Hence oneism n practice of putting number one before everything else. A self-obsessional philosophy that became mainstream under Thatcherism but continued to develop in the Nineties as society broke down into single entities. Each became, as the Scottish poet and nationalist Hugh MacDiarmid was famously labelled, "a splinter group of one". The National Lottery became the weekly ritual, as nearly everyone vied to be the lucky one. The process of social change was symbolised by BT's decision in April 1995 to place a one in front of all telephone numbers.

Early pioneers of the oneist credo included Oscar Wilde, who spent his life creating the myth of his own individualism. His characters are obsessed with their own significance. Thus in The Importance of Being Earnest, Gwendoline Fairfax comments that she always carries her diary because it is vital to have something sensational to read on the train.

However, for much of history, oneism has been socially frowned upon. Its sexual manifestation, onanism, better known as masturbation, has until recent times been considered a perversion. Woody Allen championed the practice as "sex with the one you love", but it remains an embarrassment. Likewise oneism has yet to become completely acceptable, forcing British politicians to cover their basically oneist tendencies with the language of communitarianism.

But as time goes by, the creeping dominance of oneism is becoming clear. Couples are still socially acceptable, but troilism n three-in-a-bed, has become so disapproved of that government ministers have been forced to resign for acting out such collectivist fantasies. Likewise trinitarianism, the Christian belief that there are three persons in one God, is less and less appealing to a population more likely to choose a B&Q Sunday special of buy one and get two for free.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits  

So who, really, is David Cameron, our re-elected ‘one nation’ Prime Minister?

Andrew Grice
Time travel: Thomas Cook has been trading since 1841  

A horror show from Thomas Cook that tells you all you need to know about ethical consumerism

Janet Street-Porter
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable