Buttle's World

27 April, 2009

The Foundations of a Free Society

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 20:48

Dr. Nathaniel Branden recently emailed a link to this talk he gave back in 1995, pointing out that recent events make it timely. He is, as usual, absolutely right.

For thousands of years, to turn to an ethical dimension, people have been taught that self-interest is evil. And for thousands of years they have been taught that the essence of virtue is self-sacrifice. To a large extent that is a doctrine of control and manipulation. “Selfish” is what we call people when they are doing what they want to do, rather than what we want them to do.

The world is changing. Imagine, for example, that a speaker was addressing a room full of women, only women, and he said, “Ladies, the essence of morality is realizing that you are here to serve. Your needs are not what is important. Think only of those you serve; nothing is more beautiful than self-sacrifice.” Well, in the modern world, such a speaker would rightly be hooted off the stage. Question: What happens if the same speech is made to a mixed audience? Why is what’s wrong with it different if men are also in the audience? We need to rethink our whole ethical framework. We need to rethink and realize that it is the natural right of an organism, not only to defend and to sustain its own life, but to fulfill its own needs, to pursue its own values, bound by the moral obligation not to violate the rights of others by coercion or fraud, not to willingly participate in a coercive society.

You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing. It’s not very long, but it is very timely.

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