The true-believing Marxist imagines that objective laws governing
social change will produce a communal society in which the state withers
away. According to a Soviet textbook, “Communism is the highest type of
social progress which provides for the unlimited self-perfection of society
for the good of all people.” Marxists believe that “the dictatorship of the
proletariat” is a revolutionary form of struggle in the transition from
capitalism to socialism on the way to fully developed communism. It is sad
to say, but people who accept this ideology have adopted an absurd formula
that will not produce the results they dream of.
Intellectual integrity itself is compromised when we embrace visionary
speculation, idle or impractical theories. And for the most part, the
ideological camps that exist in the world today are built upon such theories.
Both the right and the left, to varying degrees and in different ways, have
persisted in dangerous abstractions about which path best leads to universal
True-believing Marxists in China, for example, do not realize that the
true and perfect communist society will never appear; that there is no road
by which the human race can arrive at such a society, and that the socialist
road leads to tyranny, poverty and war. In the long run Marxism not only
makes the Marxist stupid, but it also makes him vicious.
A similar criticism could be leveled against extreme individualists.
These hold that selfishness is a virtue, that duty to a larger collective is
an invalid concept, and any institution that claims authority over the
individual is evil. For example, Ayn Rand’s philosophy teaches that
selfishness is a virtue and altruism is evil. Communal tendencies and
sociality in general are maligned in her philosophy as “collectivism.” But
in reality, the traditional family itself — the foundation of civilized
human existence — is the ultimate collectivist formation. One might even
say that the motto of the family is the motto of Karl Marx: “Each according
to his ability, each according to his need.”
A newborn baby has no ability to meet its own needs. It depends
entirely on its mother, who is tied to the child through a long process which
begins with pregnancy and continues for many years after the child is born.
It is the love and sacrifice of parents that makes the continuation of the
human race on a civilized basis possible. But the philosophy of Ayn Rand,
for example, does not dwell on motherhood (let alone glorify that concept).
The heroines of “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” are childless, just
as Rand was childless.
Another essential social formation which implicitly falls under severe
criticism from extreme individualists is the army. It can be said that the
army represents a great collective in which the commander is the brain and
the soldiers are the body. Whatever ill effects stem from the existence of
armies, civilization cannot survive without military forces. Universal
disarmament is not a practical scheme because dictator psychopaths
continually arise in the world, and national resentments along with ethnic
and territorial disputes are inescapable. Therefore, collectivist principles
must be adhered to within a country’s armed forces if that country intends to
survive. The great contradiction, in this instance, is that the soldier who
defends liberty is not free to disobey his superior officer. Disobedience
under fire, or desertion of one’s post, is severely punished under military
law — and for good reason.
There are many libertarians and followers of Ayn Rand whose thinking
leads them to inwardly revile principles which, by necessity, guard the
freedoms they cherish. They forget that George Washington’s life was based
on duty and obligation, not the idea that the individual is sovereign and
selfishness a virtue. Washington felt honor-bound to defend the larger
community against British tyranny and aggression. His philosophy of life
could hardly be compared to that of libertarians or Objectivists. The thing
he loved most, even more than his own life, was the United States of America.
His love of country was that of a father toward a child, and so he is called
the father of our country.
And what about the mothers of our country?
Alas, fighting battles and founding countries has always been the
business of men. Women have traditionally been busy with other, equally
important matters. This traditional female activity, however, has today come
under attack from an extreme form of individualism called “feminism.” It
should be clear that feminist ideology represents a kind of individualistic
selfishness offered exclusively to women. Women’s liberation, so-called, says
that women have a choice: namely, to desert the great cause of reproduction
or to embrace the drudgery and servitude of marriage and motherhood (as if
men could not also speak of the drudgery and servitude of fatherhood).
In her quest for emancipation, the extreme feminist has invented
something called “reproductive rights.” In essence, the feminist teaches
that women have the right to go against the past and forget the future. It
is a conception that embraces abortion, that praises the unmarried working
woman as a heroine, and advances the right of a woman to be anything other
than a woman — i.e., to be a soldier, an executive or a politician. The
traditional male occupations are held in high esteem by leading feminists,
who dream of splendid careers.
But the great chain of being which links the ages is a chain of
mothers giving birth to the future. To say that one is not obligated to
participate in this chain of being, to say that this is not a glorious
function but rather a form of oppression, is to make mischief against the
future before it is even born.
Gloria Steinem once claimed that “a woman needs a man like a fish
needs a bicycle.” That is very clever, except that a woman (insofar as she
is a woman) does need a man. After all, the human race is not a colony of
sexless drones, nor could it long survive as such.
All this feminist propaganda we see at the movies, that our daughters
and sisters and wives would be happier as careerists, is very confusing and
destructive. The notion that motherhood is slavery and degradation, and the
better choice is to be something that approaches a female bachelor, is not
only harmful to society but harmful to the happiness of individuals of both
sexes; and it is especially harmful to children.
The feminists, however, are entirely selfish.
“This society is a product of 5,000 years of trying to give women a
self-esteem problem,” says Steinem. But who is really trying to give women a
self-esteem problem? Worse yet, if Steinem’s principles were embraced by all
women, and her model were followed, female self-esteem problems would
certainly disappear along with all human beings — male and female. The
choice to be a big-shot careerist rather than to reproduce is a choice that
wipes out the future entirely.
Steinem also has said that feminism’s biggest accomplishment is “that
we no longer think that a woman’s position is natural.” In today’s society
women therefore occupy an unnatural position, being propagandized against
their own instincts. Steinem and her nihilist cohorts want to strike down
parental consent laws, facilitate abortion and eliminate reproductive duties
in the name of reproductive rights.
Ideological individualism, whether of the left or the right, rejects
both nature and tradition. It tends to harm the defensive and reproductive
functions of society. Both Objectivism and feminism, if applied on a grand
scale, would result in a kind of societal suicide. This suicide would
ironically take place in the name of emancipation. Here we find, however,
that freedom is merely exploited as a cover for licentiousness just as
“individual rights” are extended to facilitate disintegration and
self-destruction of the civilization itself.
When I listen to the ideas of extreme libertarians and Objectivists, I
see fallacy after fallacy. When I look at feminism, I shudder for the
future. Civilization is too complicated for these ideologists with their
simplistic formulas. The greatest and best civilizations always employ an
appropriate mix of freedom and authority, collectivism and individualism,
religion and secularism.
Look at your country. It is not an abstraction, but a solid thing
which existed before there was a Constitution. The defense of our land, the
protection of our people, and the assurance of our posterity deserves to have
a place within our ideological constructions. If we construct liberty and
individualism without regard for our nation and posterity, we may find
ourselves without a nation and without a posterity.