纪念安兰德诞生111周年,重刊其力作:什么是美国价值

曹长青按语:安.兰德(Ayn Rand)是美国最重要的思想家之一。她1905年在俄国出生,21岁到美国,后成为畅销小说作家和哲学家(1982年去世)。1998年美国兰登出版社评选“20世纪百部最佳英文小说”,在“读者投票评选榜”上,安兰德的《阿特拉斯耸耸肩》获第一名,《源泉》获第二名。她的另两部小说分别排第七、第八位。而她一共就出版过四部小说。

在“非虚构类”的读者票选榜上,第一名仍是安兰德的理论专著《自私的美德》。第三名是安兰德的思想继承人佩可夫介绍安兰德哲学思想的专集,第六名则是一本关于兰德的评传。

一个作家,能够同时获得虚构、非虚构两个读者评选榜的第一名,并且全部主要作品都进入前十名,这在美国、在整个英语作品的历史上,都没有过先例!

安兰德的作品为什么会有如此这般的影响力?主要因为她用小说形式传播了一种前所未有的哲学思想——客观主义。所谓客观主义,核心思想是推崇“个人主义”(individualism),强调以人为本,理性,个人主义对抗群体主义。对此我曾在“奥巴马Vs.安兰德”一文中做过介绍分析。
(奥巴马Vs.安兰德∶ http://caochangqing.com/gb/newsdisp.php?News_ID=1883)

美国是人类有史以来最实践保护个人权利的国家;安兰德则是最高扬这种个人主义价值、并是对此阐述得最清晰、最深刻的思想家。那么什么是个人主义价值?安兰德在1946年发表这篇《什么是美国价值》对此作了简要、深刻、清晰的论述。

此文的中译(译者不详)曾发表在中国“安兰德书友会”网站,原英文标题Textbook of Americanism被译为“什么是西方价值观”。其实直译应为“美国主义的教科书”,这里意译为∶“什么是美国价值”。

2016年2月2日是安兰德诞辰111周年纪念日。在此之际,曹长青网站强烈推荐这篇经典力作。】

下面是这篇问答式文章∶

什么是美国价值

作者:安.兰德

【英文原文注:本文写于1946年,最初发表在位于加州比弗利山庄 (Beverly Hills) 的以保护美国理念为宗旨的电影协会的刊物《警戒》(The Vigil)。文章的目的在于定义和阐明政治领域的一些基本原理,所以主题仅限于政治。这里选登的十二个问题是一个计划中的长文的前三分之一,剩余部分没有完成。】

1、当今世界的根本问题是什么?

当今世界的根本问题是两大原则之间的对立∶个人主义和集体主义。个人主义认为,每个人都拥有不可剥夺的权利,任何他人或集体都不得剥夺其权利,所以,每个人都有生存的权利,并且是为了自己而生存,而不是为了集体的利益而生存。

集体主义认为,个人没有任何权利,他的工作、身体和个性都属于集体,集体为了它自己的利益可以用任何方式任意对个人进行处置,所以,个人的存在需得到集体的允许,并且是为了集体而存在。

这两种原则是两个对立的社会制度生成的根源。当今世界的根本问题就是两大社会制度之间的对立。

2、什么是社会制度?

社会制度是人们为了能共同生活而遵守的法令。制定这样的法令,必须以一个基本原则作为起点,那就是要首先回答这样的一个问题∶社会的权力是有限的还是无限的?

个人主义的回答是∶社会的权力是有限的,因为它受到不可剥夺的个人权利的限制,社会只能制定不会侵犯这些权利的法律。

集体主义的回答是∶社会的权利是无限的,社会可以任意制定法律,并任意地强加给任何人。

例如∶在崇尚个人主义的制度下,任何人都不能为了自己的利益去通过一项法律以结束某个人的生命,哪怕是有百万人之众。如果他们真的这样做了,那么他们就侵犯了保护生存权利的法律,必将受到惩罚。

在奉行集体主义的制度下,只要有利可图,任何人多势众的群体(或任何自称可以代表多数的人)完全可以通过一项法律来结束某个人(或任何少数人群体)的生命。个人的生存权利在那里是得不到承认的。

根据个人主义原则,杀人是非法的,而保护自己是完全合法的,法律站在权利一边。根据集体主义原则,人多势众的一方杀人是合法的,而自卫却是非法的,法律站在多数人的一边。

在第一种情况里,法律代表的是道德原则。

在第二种情况里,法律代表的是无视道德原则的观点,人们可以为所欲为,只要他们能在数量上占上风。

在崇尚个人主义的制度下,在法律面前任何时候人人都是平等的。每个人都拥有相同的权利,不论他是势单力薄,还是身后有百万人撑腰。

在奉行集体主义的制度下,人们需要拉帮结派,谁的帮派最壮大,谁就拥有所有的权利,而失败者(个人或少数派)却没有任何权利。根据他所在帮派势力的强弱,一个人可以成为具有绝对权威的主人,也可以成为孤苦无助的奴隶。

美利坚合众国可以作为第一种制度的典型例子(请参见《独立宣言》)。

苏联和纳粹德国是第二种制度的见证。

在苏联,数百万农民或“富农”被依法消灭,理由是统治集团认为这样做有益于大多数人,因为他们认为大多数人都是反对富农的。在纳粹德国,数百万犹太人被依法消灭,理由是统治集团认为这样做有益于大多数人,因为他们认为大多数人都是反对犹太人的。

苏联和纳粹的法律是集体主义原则不可避免的必然结果。在现实中,无视道德标准和个人权利的原则最后只能导致暴力。

在你确定哪一种社会制度更为优越之前,一定要记住以上的分析。你需要回答前面提出的问题,社会的权力要么是有限的,要么是无限的,不可能两个同时成立。

3、美国的基本原则是什么?

美国的基本原则是个人主义。

美国是建立在“人人拥有不可剥夺的权利”这一原则之上的∶

——这些权利属于每个作为个体的人,而不属于作为群体或集体的众人;

——这些权利是无条件的,是每个人私有的,属于个人,而不具有公众性和社会性,不属于团体;

——这些权利是与生俱来的,而不是社会赋予的;

——个人拥有的这些权利不是来自集体,也不是以集体的利益为目的,它们同集体相对立,是集体无法逾越的障碍;

——这些权利可以保护个人,使他不受到任何他人的侵害;

——只有建立在这些权利的基础上,人们才可能拥有一个自由、正义、尊严、体面的社会。

美利坚合众国的宪法不是限制个人权利的法律,而是限制社会权力的法律。

4、什么是权利?

权利是对独立行为的认可。拥有权利意味著行动不需任何人的许可。

如果你的存在仅仅是因为社会允许你存在,那么你就不具有拥有自己生命的权利,因为外来的许可随时可能取消。

如果在采取任何行动之前,你必须获得社会的许可,无论你能否获得这样的许可,那么你都不是自由的。只有奴隶在行动之前需要获得主人的恩准。恩准不是权利。

千万不要以为工人也是奴隶,以为他是因为老板的恩惠才获得工作的。他不是靠别人的恩惠才拥有工作,而是靠双方自愿签订的合约。工人可以辞职,而奴隶不可以。

5、什么是不可剥夺的人权?

不可剥夺的人权包括∶生命权、自由权和追求幸福的权利。

生命权是指任何人不会因为他人或集体的利益而被剥夺生命。

自由权是指个人享有个人行动、个人选择、个人创制并拥有个人财产的权利。失去了拥有个人财产的权利,独立行动就无法得到保障。

追求幸福的权利是指在尊重他人相同权利的前提下,人有权为了自己而生活,可以选择能给自己带来幸福的生活方式并予以实现。也就是说,任何人都不必为了他人或集体的幸福而牺牲自己的幸福,集体不能决定个人的生存目的,也不能左右他追求幸福的方式。

6、我们怎样承认他人的权利?

既然人人都享有不可剥夺的权利,那么每个人在任何时候都享有相同的权利,不能也不应该为了自己的权利而去破坏他人的权利。

例如,一个人有活著的权利,但他无权剥夺另一个人活著的权利;他有追求自由的权利,但他没有奴役他人的权利;他有追求自己幸福的权利,但他没有把幸福建立在他人痛苦之上的权利(或对他人进行谋杀、抢劫或奴役)。他在享受某种权利的同时应该意识到,这正是他人也应享受的权利,从而了解他应该做什么或不应该做什么。

千万不要以为自由主义者会说这样的话∶“我想做什么就可以做什么,不必管别人会怎样。”自由主义者清楚地知道,每个人都拥有不可剥夺的权利——不光是他自己的,还有别人的。

自由主义者是这样的人∶“我不想控制任何人的生活,也不想让任何人控制我的生活。我不想统治,也不想被统治。我不想作主人,也不想作奴隶。我不愿为任何人牺牲自己,也不愿任何人为我牺牲。”

集体主义者会说∶“伙计们,我们一定要在一起,管他好死赖活。”

7、我们如何判断权利受到侵犯?

权利无法受到侵犯,除非是运用武力。一个人无法剥夺另一个人的生命,无法奴役他,也无法阻止他追求幸福,除非是动用武力。如果一个人不是出于自由自愿的选择而被迫采取行动,那他的权利就受到了侵犯。

所以,我们可以在一个人和另一个人的权利之间划上一条清楚的分界线。这是一条客观的分界线,不因观点差异而改变,也不受多数人的意见或社会的硬性规定左右。任何人都没有权利率先向另一个人动用武力。

在一个自由的社会里,在一个强调个人主义的社会里,人们遵守著一条简单明确的行为规则∶你不能希冀或要求他人采取某种行动,除非这是他人自由自愿的选择。

不要被集体主义的老把戏所迷惑,他们说∶世界上根本不存在绝对的自由,因为你不能随意杀人,社会不允许你杀人的时候已经约束了你的自由,社会拥有以任何它认为合适的方式约束你自由的权利,所以,丢掉自由的幻想吧——自由取决于社会的决定。

阻止你杀人的不是社会,也不是某种社会权利,而是其他人不可剥夺的生命权。这不是双方权利之间的“妥协”,而是确保双方权利不受侵犯的分界线。这条分界线不是来自社会法令,而是来自你自己不可剥夺的权利。社会无法武断地定义这条分界线,你自身拥有的权利里已经隐含了这条分界线。

在你的权利范围内,你的自由是绝对的。

8、什么是政府正确的职能?

政府正确的职能是保护公民的个人权利,保护他们不受到暴力的伤害。

在一个合理的社会制度里,人们彼此之间不会动用武力,他们只在自卫时才会诉诸武力,也就是说,他们只用武力来维护受到侵犯的权利。公民赋予政府在反击时使用武力的权力——而且只能在反击时使用。

一个合理公正的政府不会率先动用武力,它只在回应那些首先动武的人时才使用武力。例如∶政府逮捕一名罪犯时,侵犯权利的不是政府,而是罪犯,他的所作所为剥夺了自身的权利,人们除了通过武力对付他之外别无他法。

我们要记住一点,那就是,在一个自由的社会里任何被定义为犯罪的行为都是涉及动用武力的行为——只有这样的行为才需要通过武力来回击。

千万不要相信这样的鬼话,说什么“杀人犯对社会构成犯罪”。杀人犯杀害的不是社会,而是一个个体;他侵犯的不是社会权利,而是属于个人的权利。他不是因为伤害了一个集体而受到惩罚——他没有伤害整个集体,他伤害的是一个人。如果一个罪犯抢劫了十个人,那么他抢劫的仍然不是“社会”,而是十个个体。根本不存在“对社会构成犯罪”这种情况,所有的犯罪都是针对具体的人,针对社会中的每一个个体的。保护每一个个体不受到罪犯的伤害,正是一个合理的社会制度和公正的政府应该承担的责任。可是,如果政府成为武力的始作俑者,就一定会祸患无穷。

例如∶一个倡导集体主义的政府以处死或监禁作为惩罚,强行命令一个个体工作,并且让他永远束缚于某种工作——这里,率先动用武力的就是政府了。这个个体没有对任何人使用暴力,但是政府却对他施以暴力。这样的做法根本没有任何道理,其结果只能导致血腥和恐怖,这一点你已经在任何一个倡导集体主义的国家中找到了例证。

如果人类没有政府和任何形式的社会制度,人们可能会通过纯粹的暴力形式来解决彼此间的分歧并生存下来。在这种情况下,一个人拥有和另一个人抗争的平等权利,但他无法和十个人抗争。一个人需要保护的是不受群体的伤害,而不是某个个体。即使是在这种无政府的状态下,虽然多数派可以自行其道,但是少数派还是可以通过任何可能的方式进行斗争,使多数派的统治无法长久。

而集体主义连原始的无政府主义都不如∶它剥夺了人们反击的权利。在这里,暴力是合法的,而反抗是非法的;在这里,多数派(或任何声称代表多数派的人)有组织的暴力行为受到法律的保护,而少数派则孤立无援,随时面临被赶尽杀绝的命运。可以肯定的是,你再也找不到比这更不公正的事情了。

在现实中,当一个倡导集体主义的社会侵犯了少数人的权利(或其中任何一个人的权利)时,多数人往往也同时失去了自己的权利,并且受制于某个通过暴力进行统治的小团体。

如果你想了解并且记住把武力作为反击手段(倡导个人主义的政府就是这样做的)和把武力作为基本政策(倡导集体主义的政府是这样做的)之间的区别,这里有一个最简单的例子∶它们之间的区别就同杀人和为了自卫杀人之间的区别一样。一个合理公正的政府采取的原则是自卫的原则,而倡导集体主义的政府则与杀人犯同出一辙。

9、“混合的”社会制度存在吗?

世界上根本不存在个人主义和集体主义混合存在的社会制度。社会要么承认个人的权利,要么不承认,绝不可能出现中立暧昧的状态。

但现在经常发生的是,建立在个人主义之上的社会缺乏在实际生活中始终坚持原则的勇气、正义感和智慧。由于无知、怯懦或疏漏,这样的社会常常采纳和接受与自己的基本原则相左的法规,从而侵犯了公民的权利,结果使整个社会充满冤屈、邪恶和弊端。如果这样的错误得不到纠正,那么整个社会将陷入集体主义的纷乱之中。

如果你看到一个社会在某些法律条文中承认人权,而在有的地方又不承认人权,你千万不要误以为这是一种“混合的”制度,也不要以为这是两种互相对立的基本原则之间的妥协,能够行之有效地存在下去。这样的社会是不可能发展的——相反,它正日渐解体。解体需要时间,没有一样东西会瞬间四分五裂——人的身体不会,人的社会也不会。

10、没有道德原则的社会能够存在吗?

很多人至今还幼稚地认为,社会是可以为所欲为的,原则可有可无,权利只是一个幻影,权宜之计才是行动的有效指南。

确实,社会可以摒弃道德原则,任凭自己变成无所约束的兽群狂奔地走向灭亡;社会中的每一个人似乎也可以选择随时割断自己的喉管。但是,如果他想生存下去,他就不能这样做;同样的道理,如果一个社会想继续存在下去,它就不能摒弃道德原则。

社会是一群生活在同一国家同生同息的人。如果没有一个明确客观的道德规范供大家理解并自觉遵守,人们就不知道应该如何彼此相待,因为大家都不知道彼此会如何行事。不承认道德存在的人是罪犯,对于这样的人你别无他法,只有在他敲碎你脑袋之前敲碎他的脑袋;和这样的人你无话可说,因为你和他之间没有有关行为规范的共同语言。赞同没有道德原则的社会,就是赞同让人们像罪犯一样地生活。

由于传统,我们仍然在遵守很多道德规范,我们对这些规范习以为常,根本不会意识到,正是因为它们的存在,我们的日常生活才得以顺利进行。为什么你可以走进拥挤不堪的百货商店,买好东西安然无恙地走出来?你周围的人们和你一样需要商品,他们完全可以轻易地制服商店里屈指可数的几个售货小姐,把商店抢劫一空,抢走你的背包和钱包。他们为什么没有这样做?没有任何东西可以阻止他们,也没有任何东西可以保护你——除了尊重个人生命权和财产权的道德原则。

不要错误地以为人们是因为害怕警察才没有为所欲为。如果人们认为抢劫是合情合理的,那么有再多的警察也没有用。而且,如果其他人认为抢劫有理,那么警察为什么就不能这样想呢?那么,谁还愿意当警察呢?

更何况,在崇尚集体主义的社会里,警察的职责并不是保护你的权利,而是侵犯你的权利。

如果你认为某个时候的利益驱动可以成为行动的理由,那么抢劫商店自然是顺理成章的。可是,如果大家都信奉这样的行为准则,还会有多少百货商店、工厂、农庄或家庭可以存在,可以存在多久?

如果我们摒弃道德,并代之以集体主义的多数裁定原则;如果我们认为多数人的一方就可以为所欲为,多数人做的事情一定正确,就因为这是多数人做的事情(这是对或错的唯一标准),那么人们该怎样把这样的做法运用到实际生活中呢?谁是多数人?对于每一个个体来说,除了他以外的任何人都可能是多数人中的一员,可以随时任意地伤害他。因此,每个人和其他的所有人就成了敌人,每个人都会害怕、怀疑别人,每个人都必须在被抢劫杀害之前去抢劫杀害他人。

如果你认为这只是抽象的理论,那么就请看看欧洲,去那里你可以找到实证。在苏联和纳粹德国,老百姓做著克格勃(苏联国家政治保卫局)和盖世太保(纳粹德国的国家秘密警察组织)的肮脏勾当,互相监视,把自己的亲属和朋友送到秘密警察手上,送进可怕的行刑室。这就是集体主义理论在实际生活中产生的结果,这就是空洞罪恶的集体主义口号的实际运用。对于缺乏思考的人来说,这样的口号确实是很动听的∶“公共利益高于任何个人权利。”

但是,没有个人权利,就根本不可能有公共利益。

集体主义把集体置于个人之上,告诉人们为了他们的兄弟牺牲自己的权利,结果,人们除了害怕、憎恨和毁灭自己的兄弟之外别无选择。

和平、安全、繁荣以及人与人之间的合作和善意,所有这一切美好的东西,都只有在个人主义的制度下才能实现。在这样的制度下,每个人都能安全地行使自己的个人权利,都知道社会可以保护他的权利,而不是要毁灭他。于是,每个人都知道他可以或不可以对自己的邻居做什么,知道他的邻居(一个或一百万个)可以或不可以对他做什么,这样,他就可以坦然地把他们当作朋友,当作一个同类。

没有道德规范,就不可能存在合理的人类社会。

不承认个人权利,道德规范就不可能存在。

11、“大多数人的最大利益”是一条道德的原则吗?

“大多数人的最大利益”是用来欺骗人类的最荒谬的口号之一。

这句口号没有具体明确的意义。我们根本无法从善意的角度来对它加以解释,它只能用来为那些最邪恶的行为狡辩。

这句口号里的“利益”应该如何定义?无法定义,只能说是有利于最多数人的东西。那么,在具体的情况下,谁来决定什么是大多数人的利益呢?还用问吗?当然是大多数人。

如果你认为这是道德的,那么你一定也会赞同下面的这些例子,它们正是上面那句口号在现实中的具体运用∶51%的人奴役了另外49%的人;10个人中,有9个饥饿的人以另外一个伙伴的肉为食;一群残忍的匪徒杀害了一个他们认为对他们造成威胁的人。

德国有7千万德国人和60万犹太人。大多数人(德国人)都支持他们的纳粹政府,政府告诉他们,只有消灭少数人(犹太人)并且掠夺他们的财产,大多数人的最大利益才可能得到保障。这就是那句荒唐的口号在现实生活中制造的恐怖结果。

但是,你可能会说,在上述的例子中,大多数人并没有得到什么真正的利益。对,他们没有得到任何利益,因为“利益”不是靠数字决定的,也不能通过什么人为了别人所作的牺牲获得。

头脑简单的人相信,上面的那句口号包含著某种高尚的意义,它告诉人们,为了大多数人的利益他们应该牺牲自己。如果是这样,大多数的人会不会也高尚一次,愿意为那些邪恶的少数人作点牺牲?不会?那么,为什么那些少数人就一定要为那些邪恶的多数人牺牲自己呢?

头脑简单的人以为,每个高喊上面那句口号的人都会无私地和那些为了大多数人而牺牲自己的少数人站在一起。这怎么可能?那句口号里丝毫没有这种意思。更可能发生的是,他会努力挤进多数人的队伍,开始牺牲他人。那句口号传递给他的真实信息是,他别无选择,抢劫别人或被别人抢劫,击毁别人或被别人击毁。

这句口号的可鄙之处在于,多数人的“利益”一定要以少数人的痛苦为代价,一个人的所得必须依靠另一个人所失。

如果我们赞成集体主义的教义,认为人的存在只是为了他人,那么他享受的每一点快乐(或每一口食物)都是罪恶而不道德的,因为完全可能有另外一个人也想得到他的快乐和食物。根据这样的理论,人们不能吃饭,不能呼吸,不能相爱(所有这一切都是自私的,如果有其他人想要你的妻子怎么办?),人们不可能融洽地生活在一起,最终结果只能是自相残杀。

只有尊重个人的权利,我们才能定义并且得到真正的利益——私人的或是公众的利益。只有当每个人都能为了自己而自由地生活时——不必为了自己而牺牲他人,也不必为了他人而牺牲自己——人们才可能通过自己的努力,根据自己的选择,实现最大的利益。只有把这种个人努力汇合在一起,人们才能实现广泛的社会利益。

不要认为与“大多数人的最大利益”这种提法相反的是“极少数人的最大利益”,我们应该提倡的是∶每个人通过自己自由的努力所能得到的最大利益。

如果你是一个自由主义者,希望保留美国的生活方式,那么你能够作出的最大贡献就是,永远从你的思想、言语和情感中清除“大多数人的最大利益”这样的空洞口号。这完全是骗人的鬼话,是纯粹集体主义思想的教条。如果你认为自己是自由主义者,你就不能接受它。你必须作出选择,非此即彼,不可兼顾。

12、动机能否改变独裁统治的性质?

一个诚实的人有别于集体主义者的标志是,他说话算数,而且十分清楚自己所说的话有什么含义。

当我们说我们认为个人权利不可剥夺时,我们的意思明白无误。“不可剥夺”的意思是,我们不能在任何时候为任何目的夺走、终止、侵犯、限制或破坏个人权利。

你不能说“除了冷天和每个星期二,人们拥有不可剥夺的权利”,同样,你也不能说“除紧急情况外,人们拥有不可剥夺的权利”或“除非是为了善意的目的,否则人的权利不得侵犯”。

每个人的权利要么是不可剥夺的,要么是可以剥夺的,而不可能出现两种情况并存的状态,这就像你不能说自己既神志清醒又神经错乱一样。一旦你开始提出条件,说出保留意见或举出例外的情况,你就已经承认在个人权利之上还存在某种东西或某个人,他们可以任意地侵犯别人的个人权利。是谁?当然是社会,换句话说,是集体。他们为什么可以这样做?为了集体的利益。谁来决定什么时候可以侵犯别人的权利?仍然是集体。如果你赞同这一切,你就应该回到你原本属于的陈营,承认自己是个集体主义者,并且承担集体主义可能产生的后果。这里没有任何中间路线。你不能既想吃掉蛋糕,又想把它留下来。你这样做只能欺骗你自己。

不要藏在“中间路线”这样的无稽之谈背后而不敢面对现实。个人主义和集体主义不是一条路的两侧,留出中间的路让你走。它们是两条方向完全相反的道路,一条通往自由、正义和繁荣,另一条走向奴役、恐怖和毁灭。要走哪一条路全看你自己的选择。

集体主义在全世界范围的日益扩张并不归于集体主义者的聪明才智,而是因为那么表面反对集体主义而其实骨子里信仰它的人。一旦人们接受某个原则,能够取得最后胜利的是那些一心一意的人,而绝不是半心半意的人,是那些坚持到底的人,而不是那些半途而废的人。如果你开始赛跑时就说“我只想跑前十米”,而另一个人却说“我要跑到终点”,那么这个人肯定能打败你。如果你说“我想侵犯一点点人权”,而法西斯分子却说“我要毁灭所有的人权”,他们也肯定会打败你,取得最终的胜利,因为你已经为他们开辟了道路。

一旦有了最初的不诚实和回避,人们就已经掉进了集体主义关于独裁统治是否合理的陷阱。大多数人只在口头上反对独裁统治,很少有人明确表明立场,认识到独裁统治的本质∶无论何时何地,为了何种目的,以何种形式出现,它都是十恶不赦的。

现在有很多人开始讨论一些奇怪的问题,如“好的独裁统治”和“坏的独裁统治”之间有什么差别,以及什么样的动机和理由可以使独裁统治名正言顺。集体主义者不问“你想要独裁统治吗”,而是问“你想要怎样的独裁统治”。他们改变了讨论的出发点,他们已经达到了目的。

很多人认为,如果独裁统治的动机不良,这样的独裁就是恐怖的,但如果动机纯正,独裁统治就是合理的甚至受人欢迎的。那些倾向共产主义的人(他们通常认为自己是“人道主义者”)声称,如果集中营和行刑室是用于“自私”的目的,“为了某个民族的利益”,就像希特勒所做的那样,那么它们就是罪恶的;但如果它们是用于“无私”的目的,“为了广大人民的利益”,那么它们就是高尚的。那些倾向法西斯主义的人(他们通常认为自己是强硬的“现实主义者”)声称,鞭子和工头使用“不彻底”时就会无效,而使用“彻底”时,就是十分有效的,如纳粹德国的情况。

在你讨论什么是“好的”或“坏的”独裁统治时,你就已经接受并认可了独裁统治的存在。你就已经接受了一个邪恶的前提——为了你的利益,你有权奴役他人。从那时起,这就变成了一个谁来支配盖世太保的问题。你永远无法和你的集体主义同伴在什么是实施暴行的“正当”理由、什么是“不正当”理由这些问题上达成一致。你的定义他们也许无法接受。你也许认为为了穷人杀人是正当的,而其他人也许认为为了富人杀人才正当;你也许认为杀害某个特殊阶级之外的人是不道德的,而其他人也许认为杀害某个特殊民族之外的人是不道德的。你们达成共识的只有屠杀,这是你们唯一能做到的。

一旦你赞成独裁统治的原则,你其实就已经鼓励所有人和你采取一样的立场。如果他们不想接受你的思想或者不喜欢你的某种“良好动机”,他们就没有别的选择,只能冲上来打你一顿,逼你接受他们自己的“良好动机”,在你奴役他们之前奴役你。“好的独裁统治”本身就是一种自相矛盾的东西。

现在,我们的问题不是∶“为了怎样的目的去奴役人民才是合理的?”我们的问题是∶“奴役人民是否合理?”

如果独裁统治因为有了什么“良好动机”或“无私的动机”就可以名正言顺,那么这样的道德堕落实在令人发指。人类所有那些经过几百年的努力拼命摆脱的残暴和犯罪倾向,如今又找到了一把“社会的”庇护伞。很多人相信,为了自己的利益去抢劫、杀人或折磨他人是罪恶的,但如果是为了他人去做这些就是高尚的。你不能为了自己的利益滥用暴力,但如果是为了别人的利益,你尽可大胆去做。也许我们听到的最让人作呕的话是∶“确实,斯大林屠杀了数百万人,但他这样做是对的,因为他是为了人民的利益。”集体主义是一种最新式的野蛮行为。

不要认为集体主义者是“真诚但迷茫的理想主义者”。为了某些人的利益去奴役另外一些人,绝不是一种理想;残暴不是“理想主义”,不管它是出于什么目的。千万不要说通过武力“做好事”是一种良好动机,对于权力的贪欲和愚昧无知,都不能算是良好的动机。

下面是原英文∶

TEXTBOOK OF AMERICANISM

by Ayn Rand

[These articles were written in 1946 for and appeared originally in THE VIGIL, a publication of The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, Beverly Hills, California. The subject of these articles was limited to the sphere of politics, for the purpose of defining and clarifying the basic principles involved in political issues. The series is incomplete; the twelve questions reprinted here were only the first third of a longer project; the rest has remained unwritten.]

1. What Is the Basic Issue in the World Today?

The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.

Individualism holds that man has inalienable rights which cannot be taken away from him by any other man, nor by any number, group or collective of other men. Therefore, each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.

Collectivism holds that man has no rights; that his work, his body and his personality belong to the group; that the group can do with him as it pleases, in any manner it pleases, for the sake of whatever it decides to be its own welfare. Therefore, each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.

These two principles are the roots of two opposite social systems. The basic issue of the world today is between these two systems.

2. What Is a Social System?

A social system is a code of laws which men observe in order to live together. Such a code must have a basic principle, a starting point, or it cannot be devised. The starting point is the question: Is the power of society limited or unlimited?

Individualism answers: The power of society is limited by the inalienable, individual rights of man. Society may make only such laws as do not violate these rights.

Collectivism answers: The power of society is unlimited. Society may make any laws it wishes, and force them upon anyone in any manner it wishes.

Example: Under a system of Individualism, a million men cannot pass a law to kill one man for their own benefit. If they go ahead and kill him, they are breaking the law — which protects his right to life — and they are punished.

Under a system of Collectivism, a million men (or anyone claiming to represent them) can pass a law to kill one man (or any minority), whenever they think they would benefit by his death. His right to live is not recognized.

Under Individualism, it is illegal to kill the man and it is legal for him to protect himself. The law is on the side of a right. Under Collectivism, it is legal for the majority to kill a man and it is illegal for him to defend himself. The law is on the side of a number.

In the first case, the law represents a moral principle.

In the second case, the law represents the idea that there are no moral principles, and men can do anything they please, provided there’s enough of them.

Under a system of Individualism, men are equal before the law at all times. Each has the same rights, whether he is alone or has a million others with him.

Under a system of Collectivism, men have to gang up on one another — and whoever has the biggest gang at the moment, holds all rights, while the loser (the individual or the minority) has none. Any man can be an absolute master or a helpless slave — according to the size of his gang.

An example of the first system: The United States of America. (See: The Declaration of Independence.)

An example of the second system: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.

Under the Soviet system, millions of peasants or “kulaks” were exterminated by law, a law justified by the pretext that this was for the benefit of the majority, which the ruling group contended was anti-kulak. Under the Nazi system, millions of Jews were exterminated by law, a law justified by the pretext that this was for the benefit of the majority, which the ruling group contended was anti-Semitic.

The Soviet law and the Nazi law were the unavoidable and consistent result of the principle of Collectivism. When applied in practice, a principle which recognizes no morality and no individual rights, can result in nothing except brutality.

Keep this in mind when you try to decide what is the proper social system. You have to start by answering the first question. Either the power of society is limited, or it is not. It can’t be both.

3. What Is the Basic Principle of America?

The basic principle of the United States of America is Individualism.

America is built on the principle that Man possesses Inalienable Rights;

that these rights belong to each man as an individual — not to “men” as a group or collective;

that these rights are the unconditional, private, personal, individual possession of each man — not the public, social, collective possession of a group;

that these rights are granted to man by the fact of his birth as a man — not by an act of society;

that man holds these rights, not from the Collective nor for the Collective, but against the Collective — as a barrier which the Collective cannot cross;

that these rights are man’s protection against all other men;

that only on the basis of these rights can men have a society of freedom, justice, human dignity, and decency.

The Constitution of the United States of America is not a document that limits the rights of man — but a document that limits the power of society over man.

4. What Is a Right?

A right is the sanction of independent action. A right is that which can be exercised without anyone’s permission.

If you exist only because society permits you to exist — you have no right to your own life. A permission can be revoked at any time.

If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society — you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not. Only a slave acts on permission. A permission is not a right.

Do not make the mistake, at this point, of thinking that a worker is a slave and that he holds his job by his employer’s permission. He does not hold it by permission — but by contract, that is, by a voluntary mutual agreement. A worker can quit his job. A slave cannot.

5. What Are the Inalienable Rights of Man?

The inalienable Rights of Men are: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The Right of Life means that Man cannot be deprived of his life for the benefit of another man nor of any number of other men.

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, individual happiness, and to work for its achievement so long as he respects the same right in others. It means that Man cannot be forced to devote his life to the happiness of another man nor of any number of other men. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of a man’s existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness.

6. How Do We Recognize One Another’s Rights?

Since Man has inalienable individual rights, this means that the same rights are held, individually, by every man, by all men, at all times. Therefore, the rights of one man cannot and must not violate the rights of another.

For instance: a man has the right to live, but he has no right to take the life of another. He has the right to be free, but no right to enslave another. He has the right to choose his own happiness, but no right to decide that his happiness lies in the misery (or murder or robbery or enslavement) of another. The very right upon which he acts defines the same right of another man. and serves as a guide to tell him what he may or may not do.

Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who think that an individualist is a man who says: “I’ll do as I please at everybody else’s expense.” An individualist is a man who recognizes the inalienable individual rights of man — his own and those of others.

An individualist is a man who says: “I’ll not run anyone’s life — nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone — nor sacrifice anyone to myself.”

A collectivist is a man who says: “Let’s get together, boys — and then anything goes!”

7. How Do We Determine That a Right Has Been Violated?

A right cannot be violated except by physical force. One man cannot deprive another of his life nor enslave him, nor forbid him to pursue happiness, except by using force against him. Whenever a man is made to act without his own free, personal, individual, voluntary consent — his right has been violated.

Therefore, we can draw a clear-cut division between the rights of one man and those of another. It is an objective division — not subject to differences of opinion, nor to majority decision, nor to the arbitrary decree of society. NO MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO INITIATE THE USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE AGAINST ANOTHER MAN.

The practical rule of conduct in a free society, a society of Individualism, is simple and clear-cut: you cannot expect or demand any action from another man, except through his free, voluntary consent.

Do not be misled on this point by an old collectivist trick which goes like this: There is no absolute freedom anyway, since you are not free to murder; society limits your freedom when it does not permit you to kill; therefore, society holds the right to limit your freedom in any manner it sees fit; therefore, drop the delusion of freedom — freedom is whatever society decides it is.

It is not society, nor any social right, that forbids you to kill — but the inalienable individual right of another man to live. This is not a “compromise” between two rights – but a line of division that preserves both rights untouched. The division is not derived from an edict of society — but from your own inalienable individual right. The definition of this limit is not set arbitrarily by society — but is implicit in the definition of your own right.

Within the sphere of your own rights, your freedom is absolute.

8. What Is the Proper Function of Government?

The proper function of government is to protect the individual rights of man; this means to protect man against brute force.

In a proper social system, men do not use force against one another; force may be used only in self-defense, that is, in defense of a right violated by force. Men delegate to the government the power to use force in retaliation — and only in retaliation.

The proper kind of government does not initiate the use of force. It uses force only to answer those who have initiated its use. For example when the government arrests a criminal, it is not the government that violates a right; it is the criminal who has violated a right and by doing so has placed himself outside the principle of rights, where men can have no recourse against him except through force.

Now it is important to remember that all actions defined as criminal in a free society are actions involving force and only such actions are answered by force.

Do not be misled by sloppy expressions such as “A murderer commits a crime against society.” It is not society that a murderer murders, but an individual man. It is not a social right that he breaks, but an individual right. He is not punished for hurting a collective. He has not hurt a whole collective — he has hurt one man. If a criminal robs ten men — it is still not “society” that he has robbed, but ten individuals. There are no crimes against “society” — all crimes are committed against specific men, against individuals. And it is precisely the duty of a proper social system and of a proper government to protect an individual against criminal attack — against force.

When, however, a government becomes an initiator of force, the injustice and moral corruption involved are truly unspeakable.

For example: When a Collectivist government orders a man to work and attaches him to a job, under penalty of death or imprisonment, it is the government that initiates the use of force. The man has done no violence to anyone — but the government uses violence against him. There is no possible justification for such a procedure in theory. And there is no possible result in practice — except the blood and the terror which you can observe in any Collectivist country.

The moral perversion involved is this: If men had no government and no social system of any kind, they might have to exist through sheer force and fight one another in any disagreement; in such a state, one man would have a fair chance against one other man: but he would have no chance against ten others. It is not against an individual that a man needs protection — but against a group. Still, in such a state of anarchy, while any majority gang would have its way, a minority could fight them by any means available. And the gang could not make its rule last.

Collectivism goes a step below savage anarchy: it takes away from man even the chance to fight back. It makes violence legal — and resistance to it illegal. It gives the sanction of law to the organized brute force of a majority (or of anyone who claims to represent it)-and turns the minority into a helpless, disarmed object of extermination. If you can think of a more vicious perversion of justice — name it.

In actual practice, when a Collectivist society violates the rights of a minority (or of one single man), the result is that the majority loses its rights as well, and finds itself delivered into the total power of a small group that rules through sheer brute force.

If you want to understand and keep clearly in mind the difference between the use of force as retaliation (as it is used by the government of an Individualist society) and the use of force as primary policy (as it is used by the government of a Collectivist society), here is the simplest example of it: it is the same difference as that between a murderer and a man who kills in self-defense. The proper kind of government acts on the principle of man’s self-defense. A Collectivist government acts like a murderer.

9. Can There Be A “Mixed” Social System?

There can be no social system which is a mixture of Individualism and Collectivism. Either individual rights are recognized in a society, or they are not recognized. They cannot be half-recognized.

What frequently happens, however, is that a society based on Individualism does not have the courage, integrity and intelligence to observe its own principle consistently in every practical application. Through ignorance, cowardice, or mental sloppiness, such a society passes laws and accepts regulations which contradict its basic principle and violate the rights of man. To the extent of such violations, society perpetrates injustices, evils, and abuses. If the breaches are not corrected, society collapses into the chaos of Collectivism.

When you see a society that recognizes man’s rights in some of its laws but not in others, do not hail it as a “mixed ” system and do not conclude that a compromise between basic principles, opposed in theory, can be made to work in practice. Such a society is not working; it is merely disintegrating. Disintegration takes time. Nothing falls to pieces immediately — neither a human body nor a human society.

10. Can A Society Exist Without a Moral Principle?

A great many people today hold the childish notion that society can do anything it pleases; that principles are unnecessary, rights are only an illusion. and expediency is the practical guide to action.

It is true that society con abandon moral principles and turn itself into a herd running amuck to destruction. Just as it is true that a man can cut his own throat anytime he chooses. But a man cannot do this if he wishes to survive. And society cannot abandon moral principles if it expects to exist.

Society is a large number of men who live together in the same country, and who deal with one another. Unless there is a defined, objective moral code, which men understand and observe, they have no way of dealing with one another — since none can know what to expect from his neighbor. The man who recognizes no morality is a criminal; you can do nothing when dealing with a criminal, except try to crack his skull before he cracks yours. You have no other language, no terms of behavior mutually accepted. To speak of a society without moral principles is to advocate that men live together like criminals.

We are still observing, by tradition, so many moral precepts that we take them for granted, and do not realize how many actions of our daily lives are made possible only by moral principles. Why is it safe for you to go into a crowded department store, make a purchase and come out again? The crowd around you needs goods, too; the crowd could easily overpower the few salesgirls, ransack the store, and grab your packages and pocketbook as well. Why don’t they do it? There is nothing to stop them and nothing to protect you — except the moral principle of your individual right of life and property.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that crowds are restrained merely by fear of policemen There could not be enough policemen in the world if men believed that it is proper and practical to loot. And if men believed this, why shouldn’t the policemen believe it, too? Who, then, would be the policemen?

Besides, in a Collectivist society the policemen’s duty is not to protect your rights, but to violate them.

It would certainly be expedient for the crowd to loot the department store — if we accept the expediency of the moment as a sound and proper rule of action. But how many department stores, how many factories, farms or homes would we have, and for how long, under this rule of expediency?

If we discard morality and substitute for it the collectivist doctrine of unlimited majority rule, if we accept the idea that a majority may do anything it pleases, and that anything done by a majority is right because it’s done by a majority (this being the only standard of right and wrong), how are men to apply this in practice to their actual lives? Who is the majority? In relation to each particular man, all other men are potential members of that majority which may destroy him at its pleasure at any moment. Then each man and all men become enemies; each has to fear and suspect all; each must try to rob and murder first, before he is robbed and murdered.

If you think that this is just abstract theory, take a look at Europe for a practical demonstration. In Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, private citizens did the foulest work of the G.P.U. and the Gestapo, spying on one another, delivering their own relatives and friends to the secret police and the torture chambers. This was the result in practice of Collectivism in theory. This was the concrete application of that empty, vicious Collectivist slogan which seems so high-sounding to the unthinking: “The public good comes above any individual rights.”

Without individual rights, no public good is possible.

Collectivism, which places the group above the individual and tells men to sacrifice their rights for the sake of their brothers, results in a state where men have no choice but to dread, hate and destroy their brothers.

Peace, security, prosperity, co-operation and good will among men, all those things considered socially desirable, are possible only under a system of Individualism, where each man is safe in the exercise of his individual rights and in the knowledge that society is there to protect his rights, not to destroy them. Then each man knows what he may or may not do to his neighbors, and what his neighbors (one or a million of them) may or may not do to him. Then he is free to deal with them as a friend and an equal.
Without a moral code no proper human society is possible.

Without the recognition of individual rights no moral code is possible.

11. Is “The Greatest Good For The Greatest Number” A Moral Principle?

’The greatest good for the greatest number” is one of the most vicious slogans ever foisted on humanity.

This slogan has no concrete, specific meaning. There is no way to interpret it benevolently, but a great many ways in which it can be used to justify the most vicious actions.

What is the definition of “the good” in this slogan? None, except: whatever is good for the greatest number. Who, in any particular issue, decides what is good for the greatest number? Why, the greatest number.

If you consider this moral, you would have to approve of the following examples, which are exact applications of this slogan in practice: fifty-one percent of humanity enslaving the other forty-nine; nine hungry cannibals eating the tenth one; a lynch mob murdering a man whom they consider dangerous to the community.

There were seventy million Germans in Germany and six hundred thousand Jews. The greatest number (the Germans) supported the Nazi government which told them that their greatest good would be served by exterminating the smaller number (the Jews) and grabbing their property. This was the horror achieved in practice by a vicious slogan accepted in theory.

But, you might say, the majority in all these examples did not achieve any real good for itself either? No. It didn’t. Because “the good” is not determined by counting numbers and is not achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone.

The unthinking believe that this slogan implies something vaguely noble and virtuous, that it tells men to sacrifice themselves for the greatest number of others. If so, should the greatest number of men wish to be virtuous and sacrifice themselves to the smallest number who would be vicious and accept it? No? Well, then should the smallest number be virtuous and sacrifice themselves to the greatest number who would be vicious?

The unthinking assume that every man who mouths this slogan places himself unselfishly with the smaller number to be sacrificed to the greatest number of others. Why should he? There is nothing in the slogan to make him do this. He is much more likely to try to get in with the greatest number, and start sacrificing others. What the slogan actually tells him is that he has no choice, except to rob or be robbed, to crush or get crushed.

The depravity of this slogan lies in the implication that “the good” of a majority must be achieved through the suffering of a minority; that the benefit of one man depends upon the sacrifice of another.

If we accept the Collectivist doctrine that man exists only for the sake of others, then it is true that every pleasure he enjoys (or every bite of food) is evil and immoral if two other men want it. But, on this basis, men cannot eat, breathe, or love. All of that is selfish. (And what if two other men want your wife?) Men cannot live together at all, and can do nothing except end up by exterminating one another.

Only on the basis of individual rights can any good — private or public — be defined and achieved. Only when each man is free to exist for his own sake — neither sacrificing others to himself nor being sacrificed to others — only then is every man free to work for the greatest good he can achieve for himself by his own choice and by his own effort. And the sum total of such individual efforts is the only kind of general, social good possible.

Do not think that the opposite of “the greatest good for the greatest number” is “the greatest good for the smallest number.” The opposite is: the greatest good he can achieve by his own free effort, to every man living.

If you are an Individualist and wish to preserve the American way of life, the greatest contribution you can make is to discard, once and for all, from your thinking, from your speeches, and from your sympathy, the empty slogan of “the greatest good for the greatest number.” Reject any argument, oppose any proposal that has nothing but this slogan to justify it. It is a booby-trap. It is a precept of pure Collectivism. You cannot accept it and call yourself an Individualist. Make your choice. It is one or the other.

12. Does The Motive Change The Nature Of A Dictatorship?

The mark of an honest man, as distinguished from a Collectivist, is that he means what he says and knows what he means.

When we say that we hold individual rights to be inalienable, we must mean just that. Inalienable means that which we may not take away, suspend, infringe, restrict or violate — not ever, not at any time, not for any purpose whatsoever.

You cannot say that “man has inalienable rights except in cold weather and on every second Tuesday,” just as you cannot say that “man has inalienable rights except in an emergency,” or “man’s rights cannot be violated except for a good purpose.”

Either man’s rights are inalienable, or they are not. You cannot say a thing such as “semi-inalienable” and consider yourself either honest or sane. When you begin making conditions, reservations and exceptions, you admit that there is something or someone above man’s rights who may violate them at his discretion. Who? Why, society — that is, the Collective. For what reason? For the good of the Collective. Who decides when rights should be violated? The Collective. If this is what you believe, move over to the side where you belong and admit that you are a Collectivist. Then take all the consequences which Collectivism implies. There is no middle ground here. You cannot have your cake and eat it, too. You are not fooling anyone but yourself.

Do not hide behind meaningless catch-phrases, such as “the middle of the road.” Individualism and Collectivism are not two sides of the same road, with a safe rut for you in the middle. They are two roads going into opposite directions. One leads to freedom, justice and prosperity; the other to slavery, horror and destruction. The choice is yours to make.

The growing spread of Collectivism throughout the world is not due to any cleverness of the Collectivists, but to the fact that most people who oppose them actually believe in Collectivism themselves. Once a principle is accepted, it is not the man who is half-hearted about it, but the man who is whole-hearted that’s going to win; not the man who is least consistent in applying it, but the man who is most consistent. If you enter a race, saying: “I only intend to run the first ten yards,” the man who says: “I’ll run to the finish line,” is going to beat you. When you say: “I only want to violate human rights just a tiny little bit,” the Communist or Fascist who says “I’m going to destroy all human rights” will beat you and win. You’ve opened the way for him.

By permitting themselves this initial dishonesty and evasion, men have now fallen into a Collectivist trap, on the question of whether a dictatorship is proper or not. Most people give lip-service to denunciations of dictatorship. But very few take a clear-cut stand and recognize dictatorship for what it is: an absolute evil in any form, by anyone, for anyone, anywhere, at any time and for any purpose whatsoever.

A great many people now enter into an obscene kind of bargaining about differences between “a good dictatorship” and a “bad dictatorship,” about motives, causes, or reasons that make dictatorship proper. For the question: “Do you want dictatorship?,” the Collectivists have substituted the question: “What kind of dictatorship do you want?” They can afford to let you argue from then on; they have won their point.

A great many people believe that a dictatorship is terrible if it’s “for a bad motive,” but quite all right and even desirable if it’s “for a good motive.” Those leaning toward Communism (they usually consider themselves “humanitarians”) claim that concentration camps and torture chambers are evil when used “selfishly,” “for the sake of one race,” as Hitler did, but quite noble when used “unselfishly,” “for the sake of the masses,” as Stalin does. Those leaning toward Fascism (they usually consider themselves hard-boiled “realists”) claim that whips and slave-drivers are impractical when used “inefficiently,” as in Russia, but quite practical when used “efficiently,” as in Germany.

(And just as an example of where the wrong principle will lead you in practice, observe that the “humanitarians,” who are so concerned with relieving the suffering of the masses, endorse, in Russia, a state of misery for a whole population such as no masses have ever had to endure anywhere in history. And the hard-boiled “realists.” who are so boastfully eager to be practical, endorse, in Germany, the spectacle of a devastated country in total ruin, the end result of an “efficient” dictatorship.)

When you argue about what is a “good” or a “bad” dictatorship, you have accepted and endorsed the principle of dictatorship. You have accepted a premise of total evil — of your right to enslave others for the sake of what you think is good. From then on, it’s only a question of who will run the Gestapo. You will never be able to reach an agreement with your fellow Collectivists on what is a “good” cause for brutality and what is a “bad” one. Your particular pet definition may not be theirs. You might claim that it is good to slaughter men only for the sake of the poor; somebody else might claim that it is good to slaughter men only for the sake of the rich; you might claim that it is immoral to slaughter anyone except members of a certain class; somebody else might claim that it is immoral to slaughter anyone except members of a certain race. All you will agree on is the slaughter. And that is all you will achieve.

Once you advocate the principle of dictatorship, you invite all men to do the same. If they do not want your particular kind or do not like your particular “good motive,” they have no choice but to rush to beat you to it and establish their own kind for their own “good motive,” to enslave you before you enslave them. A “good dictatorship” is a contradiction in terms.

The issue is not: for what purpose is it proper to enslave men? The issue is: is it proper to enslave men or not?

There is an unspeakable moral corruption in saying that a dictatorship can be justified by “a good motive” or “an unselfish motive.” All the brutal and criminal tendencies which mankind — through centuries of slow climbing out of savagery — has learned to recognize as evil and impractical, have now taken refuge under a “social” cover. Many men now believe that it is evil to rob, murder, and torture for one’s own sake, but virtuous to do so for the sake of others. You may not indulge in brutality for your own gain, they say, but go right ahead if it’s for the gain of others. Perhaps the most revolting statement one can ever hear is: “Sure, Stalin has butchered millions, but it’s justifiable, since it’s for the benefit of the masses.” Collectivism is the last stand of savagery in men’s minds.

Do not ever consider Collectivists as “sincere but deluded idealists.” The proposal to enslave some men for the sake of others is not an ideal; brutality is not “idealistic,” no matter what its purpose. Do not ever say that the desire to “do good” by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.

(原文网址∶ http://laissez-fairerepublic.com/textbook.htm)

2016-02-04

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