Monday, January 28, 2013

Group Think

Some individuals value their ideals more than they do human lives. "You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet", they say, meaning that some will be sacrificed (or outright killed, in some historical cases) for the sake of their ideals. But human beings are not eggs, and at the precise moment whenever any idealist talks about such sacrifices, he has left the realm of rationality, reason, and good will towards ones fellow man. No ideal is greater than human life.

Furthermore, no ideal is greater than any one man.

It is necessary to be precise here. For example, if you claim that the rights of society trump the rights of the individual, the obvious questions are: what are the rights of society? Who determines what rights society has? If society's rights consists of whatever the majority in that society considers to be rights, then rights become a matter of vote, to be granted or taken away at the whim of whatever group is in the majority. But consider the implications of such a view:  individuals exist at the permission of the group; the right to life is granted by those who are living; no one man is of any importance by himself, but only as part of a group. If this is so, then men are not free. They are dependent upon society. They are, we are so often told, "social animals". Again, who decides what is in the best interests of society...if it is not the mob currently in majority, is it not some dictator who issues proclamations that all must obey (or become an omelet)?

I know what freedom is. It is independence. It is being alive and beholden to no one for one's right to be alive. It is independence from others, part of which is simple self-sufficiency. I need no one's permission to live, and in a perfect world, I would need no one's permission to keep whatever I earn or make.

Sacrifice for the greater good is one thing-but it is I, as an individual, who makes that decision and no one else has the right to tell me what or who I should sacrifice my life for. And besides, if I give my life for what I consider a greater good, that is not a sacrifice at all. But if I die for "society's" (i.e., someone else's) concept of a greater good, and I don't agree but do so out of a sense of duty, then that is a sacrifice. I am a slave when I make sacrifices of such a nature, at the mercy of society, a mere serf with a bought soul.

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