In parts one and two of my analysis of Senator Obama’s major speech of March 18, 2008, I laid out the most egregious tactical ideas that he will be counting on to give America a huge push toward a socialist state. This speech was billed as a discussion of race in response to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy. But as I previously made clear, what Mr. Obama actually accomplished was an intellectual coup d’ etat against America’s founding principles.
Senator Obama is a thoughtful, philosophical, and talented orator. He apparently knows that to sell a political package requires a belief by people that it is right. Having wrung the life out of the “very core” of America, he uses this speech to skillfully construct the philosophical/moral foundation for his administration’s agenda. Laced throughout the speech, and also his campaign, Senator Obama implores us to “come together”, to “work together”, to “find that common stake we all have in one another”. He condemns Reverend Wright’s comments as “not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity”. He speaks of “the white community” and “the African-American community”. He tells us that “The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids”.
This is the language of collectivism. It is a renunciation of the individualism of the Enlightenment and of America. Collectivism holds that the standard of human value lies in the group, be it the race, the proletariat, the public, society, the family, the democratic majority, the “people.” The individual has no value, apart from the value he brings to the group. Statism is built on collectivism. Since no such entity as the group (ex., the “people”) actually exists, apart from and above its individual members, the entity that ultimately speaks and acts for the “people” is…the state. When a Senator Obama or any aspiring statist implores the people to “come together” to solve the problems of “healthcare”, “education”, the “environment”…he means to impose his, or a particular constituents’, “solution” on everyone else.
Obama sees groups, not individuals. But groups don’t think, only individuals think. The mind is an attribute of the individual, and only the individual. Every man must, through the conscious application of his own reasoning mind, discover knowledge, truth, morality. The subordination of the individual to the collective means the destruction of man’s means of survival, his mind. When Obama calls on us to “come together”, it is not to voluntary cooperation and association among individuals with common interests that he is referring. It is the independent thinker that he is aiming to subdue. Consider his response to the Reverend Wright controversy. “Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity.” If “divisiveness” is a criterion for condemning what any person says, then any “controversial” idea…i.e., one that threatens the “unity” of the accepted group (i.e., state) wisdom…can be disqualified. The outrageous comments of a Reverend Wright, and the passionate defense of individual rights against the collective offered by the Founding Fathers can both be called “divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity.” His “unity” message is simply a means of discrediting and silencing principled intellectual opposition to his designs.
The “idea” “seared into [his] genetic makeup…that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one” is the same old collectivist siren song blaring the same old lyrics against the independent individual…submit, obey, give up, conform. A man who gives up his sovereign capacity to think and to act on the judgement of his own mind, in order to conform to the thoughts of others, is doomed. A society full of such people…people who have “come together as one”…is a society of the unthinking leading the unthinking. Such a society is ripe for the rise of a charismatic demagogue, ready to provide the thought of that mystical entity “others”, or “the people”. Who among the “people” will challenge the rise of despotism? The people who have given up their intellectual sovereignty for the sake of “unity”? Out of the many, we will have become truly one…one neck ready for one socialist noose!
Object to some government scheme to seize your property in order to deal with “the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect”, and you will be abrogating your responsibility to atone for your part in this country’s “original sin of slavery.” Declare that people should be left free to make their own healthcare or education decisions, according to their own judgement, in their own best interest, with their own money…and you will be advocating that “we walk away now, [to] simply retreat into our respective corners”. Defend your inalienable rights as an individual?…your rights are a privilege, which are dependent on you fulfilling your “obligations”, both of which are “provided” to you, as determined by the state in our democracy. Take a principled stand against Obama statism? Don’t be divisive! We are one.
Senator Obama, in this particular speech, makes no concrete policy proposals. What he is doing is laying the groundwork for Statism. Statism holds that the will and power of the collective is embodied in and carried out by the state. The individual, being subordinate to the collective, is thus in practice subordinate to the state. In Obama’s universe, “We the People” in “America's improbable experiment in democracy” is the collective in whose name an Obama administration will carry out its welfare statist agenda.
Statism rests on a collectivist base. But collectivism depends on a certain moral foundation without which it cannot be sustained. That moral foundation is altruism. Altruism holds self-sacrificial service to others as one’s highest moral purpose. It holds that any action taken to benefit “others” is good because it benefits others. Any action taken to benefit oneself…the egoistic pursuit of self fulfillment and happiness… is at best amoral (essentially the Christian version) and at worst downright evil (the more virulent Kantian version). Both versions maintain that the standard of the good is selfless service to others…putting others above self.
Consider what this means in actual practice. Since morality consists of service to others, then others’ service to oneself is moral. In other words, altruism actually inverts morality, holding that it is moral to live off of the efforts of others, but immoral to benefit off of one’s own efforts. It is a morality that fosters an entitlement mentality and resentment of the achievements of others, since altruism demands that those others, which it is one’s duty to serve, must also serve oneself. Altruism demands that everyone be both a slave and a moocher, the very essence of collectivism. Worse, the degree of one’s self-sacrificial “service” is directly proportional to one’s virtue…his ability to produce the values necessary for life. The degree of one’s inability to produce those life-sustaining values…one’s need…is the degree to which one may morally collect on the sacrifices of one’s “brothers’ keepers.” Altruism turns need into a license to steal, at the expense of justice.
In their personal lives, very few people even attempt to lives their lives by the altruist creed. Who can live by it? It is a morality that is uncritically accepted and then routinely broken and sidestepped in order to get down to the practical business of living. But the acceptance of altruism, which should not be confused with benevolence or generosity toward those who one values, as a moral ideal bursts forth in the public arena of social and political policy. People who would not steal a dime from his neighbor have no qualms about voting away the rights, property, or earnings of fellow citizens whom they do not know, in the form of whatever tax or social welfare program is deemed to be “good” for the country (or for oneself).
The effects of altruism are all around us, in the form of the entitlement mentality steadily consuming us. You can see it in the form of the venom hurled at the opponents of the latest social welfare program, who are accused of greed and heartless disregard for children (SCHIP), for educating the young (“universal” pre-school), or for “working” people with a new-born child or sick relative (Paid Family Leave “insurance”)… to name a few. The opponents’ heartless and greedy motive? Defending their rights to live their lives, free from the coercive interference of others. The justification for trampling their rights? To bestow an unearned benefit on people based on need. You can hear it in the self-righteous “compassion” claimed by those “progressives” who would impose those programs through governmental coercion…their compassion paid for with other people’s tax money. You can hear it in the demonizing of the industries that produce the vital products, such as pharmaceutical, energy, financial, and of late food companies…the demonizing coming from power-lusting politicians who produce nothing, yet seek to shackle and control those that do…because they do! The charge is that they work for a profit, rather than to serve the vital needs of “the people”, who would be lost without their vital products. “Putting profits over people”, it is called. Their duty (or “obligation”) is to provide the “people” with the vital products and services, in exchange for being allowed to exist. What permits them to get away with it? The widespread acceptance of altruism as a moral ideal.
The “more perfect union” he seeks is not a union of sovereign, independent thinking individuals living peaceably and non-coercively in voluntary association with each other, according to the principle of each person’s equal, inalienable right to his own life. Rather, he sees a collection of guilt-ridden, sacrificial, obedient automatons subservient to that mystic entity “the people”, whose will is to be enforced by a state ruled by a special elite endowed with the wisdom of knowing what is best for the “common good”.
This utopian view of the ideal society is nothing new. It has been tried over and over again throughout the ages, with devastatingly repetitious results. The altruist-collectivist ideas that Senator Obama seeks to cash in on to advance his coming statist agenda date back to the original communist, Plato. Far from being an unknown quantity who speaks in vague meaningless generalities, Obama lays bare for all to see exactly who he is. For all, that is, who understand the power of fundamental ideas. It is obvious that he would greatly expand the federal government’s control of America’s health care, education, and jobs (i.e., of business). His statist agenda is unlikely to end there. Having summarily cast aside, by omission and distortion, our rights as embodied in our founding documents, Senator Obama has hit on all the historically statist philosophical cylinders. Unearned guilt (“America’s original sin of slavery”), altruistic self-sacrifice (“Let us be our brother’s keeper”), unity over individualism (“out of many, we are truly one”), intellectual conformity over independent thinking (don’t be “divisive” or “retreat into our respective corners”)…these words are the mantra of the ruler, not the respecter of the sovereignty of the individual.
Cashing in on the dominant ideas accepted either explicitly or implicitly in most of American culture, this articulate, smooth-talking “uniter” will lead us down a well-worn path… a path leading to ever-diminishing individual freedom and self-determination.
“Unite and rule,” said Ellsworth M. Toohey in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, exposing the soul of the power-seeker.
“Come together,” says Barack Obama, “[to] solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.”
“It stands to reason,” said Toohey, “that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.”
“Let us be our brother's keeper,” says Obama. “Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.”
“We don’t need any thinking men,” said Toohey.
“Don’t be divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity,” says Obama.
“Make man feel small,” said Toohey.
“[T]his nation is more than the sum of its parts- that out of many, we are truly one,” says Obama.
“Make him feel guilty,” said Toohey.
“[Our Constitition] was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery,” says Obama.
“And isn’t that the god of our century? To act together. To think-together. To feel-together. To unite, to agree, to obey,” said Toohey. (Toohey quotes from the novel The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, pages 665-669)
“[W]e cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together…we hold common hopes…we all want to move in the same direction…we are truly one;” don’t be “divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity…we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems…And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges…[people] don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but [we] can take them on if we do it together;”
Unite and rule.
Barack Obama’s America…The “more perfect union” he seeks…is not that of the Founding Fathers. It is, fundamentally, just the opposite. Where the Founders saw individuals capable of managing their own lives, Obama sees helpless dependents. Where the Founders saw republican government limited to protecting the inalienable rights of the individual, Obama sees an imperial government determining what “rights and obligations” should be ascribed to the people. Where the Founders sought to free men from the shackles imposed by other men, Obama seeks to chain men to the “unity” of majoritarian tyranny.
For what has come to be called his “more perfect union” speech, Senator Obama has received almost universal praise, even from many on the Right. From what I have heard and read, the main focus has been on his discussion of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, and the initiation of a “national dialogue” on race that, he says, is long overdue. But what really counts, in my view, is the abstract principles…the essence…hidden in plain sight throughout this speech.
This charismatic orator will, as president, “inspire” us to march down the altruist-collectivist road that leads to the ever-increasing transfer of control from the individual to the state. It is a road paved with the promise of “freedom” from the personal responsibilities that real freedom demands.
Is Senator Obama another Stalin, Hitler, or Mao? Certainly not. Is he an opportunistic politician, albeit perhaps a decent man, seeking to “do good”? Perhaps. And there in lies the danger. Convincing the people of a nation to give up their individual sovereignty and self-determination for some collective good, while simultaneously expanding the government’s legal tools for controlling them, is a deadly combination for a free society. It is the Barack Obamas of the world that pave the altruist-collectivist-statist way for the rise of the Stalins, the Hitlers, and the Maos.
To repeat what I stated above, Obama apparently knows that to sell a political package requires a belief by people that it is right. Hence, his altruistic appeal to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and his collectivist appeals to abandon divisiveness and come together. It is on this moral-philosophical level that the battle must be fought. One can not effectively oppose a socialist agenda while holding as right the basic expedients of Socialism…altruism and collectivism. The only moral-philosophical opposite to altruism-collectivism is rational self-interest and individualism, the expedients of Capitalism. It is only on that basis that any real intellectual opposition against an Obama administration can begin.