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 Objectivism in Perspective
 
The only path to tomorrow
United States Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ayn Rand
Here is an article titled penned by Ayn Rand and printed in the January 1944 Reader’s Digest. Rand writes: Men have been enslaved primarily by spiritual weapons. And the greatest of these is the collectivist doctrine that the supremacy of the state over the individual constitutes the common good. Collectivism is not the “New Order of Tomorrow.” It is the order of a very dark yesterday. But there is a New Order of Tomorrow. It belongs to Individual Man — the only creator of any tomorrow’s humanity has ever been granted.

 

January 1944

 

Reader's Digest

 

The greatest threat to mankind and civilization is the spread of the totalitarian philosophy. Its best ally is not the devotion of its followers but the confusion of its enemies. To fight it, we must understand it.

 

Totalitarianism is collectivism. Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group — whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called “the common good.”

 

Throughout history, no tyrant ever rose to power except on the claim of representing “the common good.” Napoleon “served the common good” of France. Hitler is “serving the common good” of Germany. Horrors which no man would dare consider for his own selfish sake are perpetrated with a clear conscience by “altruists” who justify themselves by-the common good.

 

No tyrant has ever lasted long by force of arms alone. Men have been enslaved primarily by spiritual weapons. And the greatest of these is the collectivist doctrine that the supremacy of the state over the individual constitutes the common good. No dictator could rise if men held as a sacred faith the conviction that they have inalienable rights of which they cannot be deprived for any cause whatsoever, by any man whatsoever, neither by evildoer *nor supposed benefactor*.

 

This is the basic tenet of individualism, as opposed to collectivism. Individualism holds that man is an independent entity with an inalienable right to the pursuit of his own happiness in a society where men deal with one another as equals.

 

The American system is founded on individualism. If it is to survive, we must understand the principles of individualism and hold them as our standard in any public question, in every issue we face. We must have a positive credo, a clear consistent faith.

 

We must learn to reject as total evil the conception that the common good is served by the abolition of individual rights. General happiness cannot be created out of general suffering and self-immolation. The only happy society is one of happy individuals. One cannot have a healthy forest made up of rotten trees.

 

The power of society must always be limited by the basic, inalienable rights of the individual.

 

The right of liberty means man's right to individual action, individual choice, individual initiative and individual property. Without the right to private property no independent action is possible.

 

The right to the pursuit of happiness means man's right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own, private, personal happiness and to work for its achievement. Each individual is the sole and final judge in this choice. A man's happiness cannot be prescribed to him by another man or by any number of other men.

 

These rights are the unconditional, personal, private, individual possession of every man, granted to him by the fact of his birth and requiring no other sanction. Such was the conception of the founders of our country, who placed individual rights above any and all collective claims. Society can only be a traffic policeman in the intercourse of men with one another.

 

From the beginning of history, two antagonists have stood face to face, two opposite types of men: the Active and the Passive. The Active Man is the producer, the creator, the originator, the individualist. His basic need is independence — in order to think and work. He neither needs nor seeks power over other men — nor can he be made to work under any form of compulsion. Every type of good work — from laying bricks to writing a symphony — is done by the Active Man. Degrees of human ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man's independence and initiative determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man.

 

The Passive Man is foun

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