This post can be found on my blog, here: http://tinyurl.com/n973xlh
There is a very good upsurge of ‘Liberty-minded’ thinking going on today – particularly in traditionally ‘Christian conservative’ circles. But even with power-house movements like the Tea Party, the liberty-leaning masses haven’t been able to catch significant footing in the culture. Why? Because the majority of them (the ‘Moral Majority’ …aka Christians) are at war with themselves ideologically. Consider the following quote very carefully, and ask yourself if you do not already see this playing out:
“Since both parties (Democrat and Republican) hold altruism as their basic moral principle, both advocate a welfare state or mixed economy as their ultimate goal … It is precisely [the altruism-collectivism-statism] ends that ought to be rejected. But if neither party chooses to do it, the logic of the events created by their common basic principles will keep dragging them both further and further to the left. If and when the “conservatives” are kicked out of the game altogether, the same conflict will continue between the “liberals” and the avowed “socialists”; when the socialists win, the conflict will continue between the socialists and the communists; when the communists win, the ultimate goal of altruism will be achieved: universal immolation. There is no way to stop or change that process except at the root: by a change of basic principles.“ -Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal p.146, emphasis added.
Addressing the Root
Christians can talk all the game they want about Capitalism, Free-Markets, the Rule of Law, and Liberty, but as long as they’ve got altruism as their root — as their basic moral principle, they will inevitably be advocating for Communism, Collectivism, and Statism – no matter how loudly they may protest otherwise. Christians, more than anyone, should understand the importance of the root — of basic moral principles (see all of Jesus’ references to trees and plants and leaven). Principles have trajectories. And trajectories cannot be changed mid-air — they must be changed at the root.
The Ends of Altruism
Altruism — the moral ideal of sacrificing one’s own values for the sake of the other — can only ever lead to Communism and Collectivism, if followed consistently. Incidentally, that is all the liberals are doing: they are consistently following the inept moral advice Christians have promoted in their unthinking and anti-intellectual slumber through Modernity. Now the chickens are coming home to roost, and Christians are getting a frightening (and long overdue!) wake-up call with the spectacle of rampant wealth-transfer, social planning, and economic regulation. What did you expect? You condemn self-interest and personal profit as evil, insisting that everyone should ‘deny himself’ in every way possible, considering the good of ‘others’ as paramount — and then when the masses take you seriously and begin to enact your advice on a cultural and political level, you stare in astonishment that they actually took you seriously. Do not say that you only meant it individually — that you never expected your morality to be carried out on a political level. To think ‘individually’ is a sin (according to your altruistic morality) – we should not think of ourselves individually, but of everyone corporately; i.e. collectively. There is no escaping it. Altruism (other-ism) is the destruction of the individual for the sake of the collective; it is the destruction of profit for the sake of poverty; the destruction of freedom for the sake of chains; the destruction of man for the sake of ‘men’. Therefore, if Christians truly wish to oppose the evils of Communism and Collectivism (and the political corollary of Statism), they must renounce Altruism with swift and exhaustive repudiation.
The Only Alternative
It is not enough to simply dismiss Altruism, though. If it is not replaced with the proper moral root, that weed will grow back and continue its destruction. The only moral alternative to Altruism is Egoism — rational self interest. It is rational self interest which allows man to see himself as an individual – apart from the collectivist herd. It is rational self interest which allows him to have values – according to which he uses his faculties to shape the material of the world into valuable assets (i.e. ‘Capital’). It is rational self interest which drives man to value (and therefore to protect) his life, his freedom, and his property. This rational self interest – this egoism – is the only moral root for Capitalism, Individualism and Liberty. Apart from this root, there will be no genuine prosperity, but with it, the possibilities are endless.
Those are the alternatives laid before the American Christian:
Egoism with its social corollaries:
Capitalism, Individualism and Liberty
Altruism with its social corollaries:
Communism, Collectivism and Statism.
One or the other. You cannot have both.
Obviously, understanding the integral nature of egoism in Christian thought is going to be difficult for modern Christians who have mindlessly convinced themselves of the morality of Altruism. My advice: check your assumptions, check out (and subscribe to) The Christian Egoist blog, and keep digging for resources. You will find that Altruism is FAR from the moral ideal that it is cracked up to be — and you will especially find that God is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the ultimate Egoist.