Common Good and Common Evil

Allow me to explain, if I may, how the lifeboat situation, where cruel necessity, as a matter of life and death, may require a volunteer to sacrifice his life for other, might apply to more common situations, or even to everyday life.

Extreme circumstances at times call for extreme sacrifices, as when a soldier throws himself on a hang grenade to save his team mates.

In less extreme circumstances, a mother suffers pain to give birth to a child who has signed no contract agreeing to be born, and a father earns his bread through the sweat of his face for his family. These are lifelong sacrifices. While the joys of parenthood including the benefit of augmenting the numbers of family, clan, and nation to add strength to strength is a benefit, the sacrifices of parenting are not made for the sake of such rewards, which are speculative in any case.

And the same principle applies to a lesser degree to lesser things.

During a barn-raising or a house-fire, one might be called upon to aid one’s neighbor without expectation of reward. While it might be nice to live in a tightly-knit neighborhood where all householders are friendly and helpful, the hope of reciprocity is not the motive for the civic virtue.

Likewise, the realities of crime and war impose a duty of taxation on all citizens and subjects, for the public peace and common good cannot be maintained if the militiamen are not paid, likewise for post roads, fortresses, shipyards, and other necessities of war-making. If an all-volunteer army is insufficient, prudence justifies drafts and press gangs. Men are morally obligated to fight and die for their loved homes, unless some greater duty to heaven excuse them.

If this duty of taxation, draft, levy and sacrifice also extends to public monuments to honor the dead, or to raise palaces to house leaders, or adorn them in gold crowns and ermine robes in order to reflect glory on the nation, is a debatable question. If duty to heaven requires tithes to the poor, which will not be gathered except by public magistrates, this is also a debatable question. Whether the kingdom or nation also has a duty to enforce laws to uphold the public morals and standards of decency, blue laws forbidding Sabbath-breaking, and other measures needed to maintain the spirit and cohesion of the people, is also open to debate.

These things must be done, if at all, with great prudence, delicate, and a nicety of judgment, with a clear deference for established custom and folk law, lest the common good degenerate into a common crime, and the burden merely rob the many to enrich the few.

This is how the lifeboat situation applies to all walks of life. Every right has a corresponding duty, every duty involves self-sacrifice, large or small. Clearly the principle falls off as it must be balanced against self-interest, and charity is poisonous when coerced.

Since all the evils of the Twentieth Century, the Century of Woe, were visited upon the world in the name of sacrificing individual rights to the public good, it need not be emphasized that the abuse of the public good to erect a tyranny is greatly to be feared.

This is the whole excuse and justification of Marxism: hatred in the name of common good , mass- torture in the name of common good , scientifically organized censorship, falsehood, deception and self-deception in the name of common good , mass-starvation in the name of common good , sadism in the name of common good , atheism, genocide, and the suicide of civilization in the name of common good , and infinite evil in the name of the common good, it requires no further warning from me to caution men not to trust uncritically those things done in the name of the common good.

Ayn Rand’s contempt for claims made on her life and soul in the name of the common good are completely understandable. I do not see how one can fail to sympathize with her, considering what Marx, the foremost idolater of the common good, that is communism, proposed in the name of altruism: total subjection of individual to collective, and the abolition not just of private property, law and integrity, honor and honesty, romance and reason, but of humanity itself. For a glimpse of what communism does to people, how it turns them into antipeople and walking dead, please see Ayn Rand’s WE THE LIVING.

We are hardly in any danger of having our civilization drown from an excess of liberty, except, of course, for liberty in the area of sexual liberation, which has permitted a cult of sodomites, child-molesters, fetishists, and child-castrators to arise in our midst, and seat themselves in the gates of government, censor our speech, rewrite our movies, topple our statues, outlaw honor, and groom our children. But these are merely totalitarians and god-haters like any others, using liberty as an excuse for evil, even as their fathers used altruism.