Joseph Heller’s Catch-22

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.” by Joseph Heller’s #1 classic bestseller Catch-22. Catch-22 was revolved around one catch, Catch-22 and this catch is described as an impossible situation where you cannot do one thing until you do another but you cannot do the other thing until you do the first thing.
Throughout the book, there are multiple times when our characters show signs of individualism and individualism is one of the many major topics in Catch-22 itself. Individualism is the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant and there are times when individualism is at the expense of others in other words in a way that harms others. Individualism in Catch-22 could be seen through wartime although in the present era it can be seen through businesses, politics, and social life.
Catch-22 shows individualism through their characters each having their personality and some with the expense of others. In Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, he wrote in his book that “Colonel Cathcart was a slick, successful, slipshod, unhappy man of thirty-six who lumbered when he walked and wanted to be a general. He was dashing and dejected, poised and chagrined.” Colonel Cathcart is described as wanting to be a General and the way he does it is by raising the number of missions others have to fly making at it at their expense.

Cathcart doesn’t care if the people sent to fly the missions die while at it he just cares that he gets put in the spotlight and possibly gets a promotion to General. Colonel Cathcart isn’t the only character to show individualism in Catch-22. In Catch-22 another of the characters to show individualism in the book is Milo Minderbinder and in the book, it quotes “M & M Enterprises verged on collapse. Milo cursed himself hourly for his monumental greed and stupidity in purchasing the entire Egyptian cotton crop, but a contract was a contract and had to be honored, and one night, after a sumptuous evening meal, all Milo’s fighters and bombers took off, joined in formation directly overhead and began dropping bombs on the group.
He had landed another contract with the Germans, this time to bomb his own outfit.” Milo Minderbinder is the runner of M&M Enterprises and will do anything to keep it up and running. Milo will show this type of individualism by using others and using what they have to earn himself the prophet wants. He would tell others that they will get some type of share in the syndicate but in reality, there was nothing to give. This is individualism at the expense of others shown through Catch-22 and not only can it be seen through the book it can be seen through real-world situations.
A businesses main goal is to prosper and grow as a company sometimes focusing more on their company rather than on the individuals working in it. In the article “Individualism is bad for business” written by Mike Marin states that “Importantly, the rights of shareholders are exclusive, meaning that shareholders are the only constituency of the corporation that has them. Therefore, as a general rule, employees, customers, creditors, governments, and any other group that has a stake in the performance of the corporation have no say over its profits or decisions. If the corporation were a state, it would be a “shareholder dictatorship.”
A shareholder is the owner of shares in a company and they are the ones that participate in the management of the company. They are the head of the company and put down upon any other person because they would rather mainly focus on the company than focus on the needs of any other person taking part in the company. This is where individualism falls in to play within a company and this type of individualism comes within the expense of others because others are put aside and don’t get the right treatment within the business.
In the article “Individualism is bad for business” it states that “According to a recent study commissioned by the Government of Canada, employees are by far the greatest source of innovative ideas within companies; shareholders don’t even make the list.” The truth is that the many reasons why a business can prosper and grow is because they have the people that work and take part in many of the business’s ideas. These people should not be looked down on, they should be looked upon like everyone else because everyone does a part in the business’s growth. A business is a place where individualism can be seen but to look at a bigger picture, the political power of a country is a good choice.
Political powers in Mexico influence the behavior of its citizens and when the sense of direction goes bad in a country it affects their citizens in a bad direction as well. In the article “The New Mexican Executive” Written by Dr. Marc J. Ehrlich a psychological consultant and psychotherapist in private practice states in his article that “Despite this changing tendency of the Mexican executive, the belief that information is power within Mexican organizations is still one of the more troublesome points for the North American executive.
The typical North American executive comes from a culture in which information is considered to be a part of the public domain and not the sole property of any one individual or sector. If information is needed from another department within the organization, for instance, it is expected that such information would be shared openly in order to get the job done. Information sharing in the Mexican organization, unfortunately, still leaves much to be desired.”
This can be seen through the Mexican Government where the government focuses a lot of their plans on the growth of their country but they do not look at how other countries are run to possibly implement those ideas into their country and by not doing so the citizens of Mexico seek other countries for better opportunities. Take Mexico and the United States, for example, the citizens of Mexico leave Mexico for the United States because they find better opportunities that they can’t find in Mexico.
As stated in the article “The New Mexican Executive”, “Within the Mexican organization, people want to receive recognition and appreciation for their efforts, be treated in a consistent and congruent manner (remember, the Mexican executive is searching for greater participation within the organization), given a fair opportunity to ascend within the company, and be provided with the training necessary to do their jobs successfully.”
People in Mexico seek jobs that can keep them busy and that is all the government needs to do to make Mexico a better and safer place. What I mean by safer is that the lack of jobs and opportunities makes people seek easy money and they do so by walking into the danger of working with the narcos and cartels. The government’s individuality of making the country a better place doesn’t focus on the citizen’s major needs thus hurting the Mexican population altogether.
Social life is a person’s time spent doing something enjoyable with other people and there are times that this type of individualism can be seen through the people you spend time with or other people around you. According to the article “Quality-Of-Life In Individualistic Society” written by Ruut Veenhovena, Dutch sociologist and world authority on the scientific study of happiness, states that “In the process of modernization, western societies became ever more individualistic.
At the individual level, this involved both greater awareness of one’s own preferences and greater ability to act independently.” Individuality can be seen in our society where people would do things by themselves and for themselves. This usually affects others around them in a negative way without the individualistic person realizing how much they are affecting their community. As stated in the article “Quality-Of-Life In Individualistic Society”, “The term ‘quality-of-life in nations’ is currently used in two meanings.
One connotation is the extent to which nations provide conditions deemed good for people, such as economic prosperity and political stability. The other meaning is how well citizens thrive actually. These meanings are often equated. If living-conditions in the country are regarded good, its citizens are supposed to prosper.” People need good living conditions to have a good social life. People not having good living conditions could lead to the reason why people feel like they need to be Individual rather than communicate with people in their community. Just like in Catch-22 many people were slowly going crazy because of how their living conditions were in Pianosa.
Alike the Individualism that is seen in Catch-22 it can also be seen through business, politics and our social life. As stated previously individualism in Catch-22 can be seen through multiple characters in particularly within Colonel Cathcart and Milo Minderbinder with their ways of caring about themselves. Through business, this type of individualism can be seen through the way businesses try to prosper and grow excluding everyone else contributing to the growth of the business.
Governments have their way of showing individualism by trying to grow their country many times leaving out what is most needed for their citizens. Individualism can sometimes be seen in a way that could harm something or someone but being individual isn’t always bad, it is only bad if it leads to harming others around in a negative way. Where else can this type of Individualism be seen other than in stories?

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