Sunday, December 19, 2010

Common Good?

I shall merely point out that the slogan 'Production for use and not for profit' is now accepted by most men as a commonplace, and a commonplace stating a proper, desirable goal. If any intelligible meaning can be discerned in that slogan at all, what is it, if not the idea that the motive of a man's work must be the need of others, not his own need, desire or gain?
'Social gains,' 'social aims,' 'social objectives' have become the daily bromides of our language. The necessity of a social justification for all activities and all existence is now taken for granted. There is no proposal outrageous enough but what its author can get a respectful hearing and approbation if he claims that in some undefined way it is for the 'common good.'
The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one's eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: 'But I didn't mean this!'
Ayn Rand, Anthem, (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1995), v-vii.
I recently finished Ayn Rand's book Anthem. I am doing my best to process that which she was trying to communicate when she first published the story in 1946. The above section comes her own personal foreward to the story of Equality 7-2521 and his quest for meaning & freedom. My next few posts will deal with the story itself.