Friday, November 7, 2008

Focusing on Obama

In the Blog of November 2, 2008, below, I wrote that Barack Obama is an altruist-collectivist-statist.

I want to elaborate on that statement.

“Altruism” is popularly understood as benignly performing good deeds, as for example contributing to medical research, helping the poor, supporting the arts.

The real meaning of altruism, however, is much more malignant. It is “the doctrine that the general welfare of society is the proper goal of an individual’s action" [1] not his or her own happiness.

Philosopher Ayn Rand has identified the concept’s nakedly pernicious essence, defining altruism as “the ethical theory which regards man as a sacrificial animal, which holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest duty." [2]

Closely related to the concept of altruism is that of “collectivism.” Contrary to popular misconception, the concept has nothing to do with people having common interests joining together in some voluntary collaborative effort. To the contrary, and completely antithetical to the principle of individual rights, collectivism is “the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution by the people collectively; socialism." [3]

Again, Rand cut deeper, to the core of collectivism. It “holds that the individual has no rights, that his life and work belong to the group (to "society,” to the tribe, the state, the nation) and that the group may sacrifice him at its own whim to its own interest." [4]

Because altruism and collectivism are ethical concepts, and because the only way for government to implement them is by the threat or actual application of force, they necessarily have a familiar political-legal corollary: statism—“the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty" [5]; “the doctrine or practice of vesting economic control, economic planning, etc. in a centralized . . . government." [6]

Which brings us back to Barack Obama.

Putting aside the beliefs and tactics of his mentor, radical agitator Saul Alinsky, and even ignoring Obama’s publicly stated views prior to the presidential primary and general election, during that process the candidate was a virtually self-confessed altruist-collectivist-statist.

Obama’s speeches were riddled with requests for (indeed, insistence upon) sacrifice, emphasis on group “rights” rather than individual rights, and the always-present, sometimes even explicit, threat of government force to compel the sacrifices and to define the rights: national service, patently confiscatory taxation, suppression of disliked speech, equality of result not opportunity, and promises to “spread the wealth around.”

If one reads through the lens of what altruism-collectivism-statism really means, Obama’s presidential election campaign speeches, interviews and other statements, make it immediately and unarguably apparent that a majority of Americans have just elected to the presidency of the United States a man whose core ethical and political beliefs are diametrically opposed to the principles that animated the founding of the United States of America.

It is through that lens Barack Obama’s presidency must be viewed. When it comes into sharp focus, we will see that the forty-fourth President of the United States is indeed an altruist-collectivist-statist.

And that is very bad news, indeed, for those of us who believe in individual rights, limited government and capitalism.
[1] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language.
[2] Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness.
[3] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language.
[4] Ayn Rand, “Racism,” The Virtue of Selfishness.
[5] The American College Dictionary.
[6] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language.

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