Continue> pg 42,43.
Yet, throughout all history, down to and including
modem times, few adult persons have ever discovered
that they are really free.
An Ancient Superstition
Most human beings cling to the ancient superstition that
they are not self-controlling and not responsible for their
own acts. For thousands of years, the majority has always
believed that men are passive objects controlled by some
superhuman or superindividual authority - and for thousands
of years, people have gone hungry.
One of the oldest, if not the oldest, form of pagan wor
ship is based on the idea that human destiny is controlled
by the over-all will-of-the-tribe, rather than by the initiative
and free will of the individual persons who make
up the tribe. It is true that human beings must exchange
mutual aid with each other on this inhospitable and dangerous
planet. Perhaps from a dim sense of this natural
kinship - the brotherhood of man - savages in prehistoric
times came to believe that they were governed by the
spirit of Demos, a superindividual will of the "mass,"
endowed with omnipotent power and authority.
The welfare of this mystic being is called "the common
good," which is supposed to be more important than
the good of the individual - just as the health of a human
body is more important than the life of any cell in it. It
is in this concept that we find the origin of human sacrifice
to the pagan gods. No one hesitates to destroy the
cells of the hair on his head nor of the nails on his fingers
or toes. They are not important in themselves. Their only
value is their use to the body as a whole. Thus, for that
"common good" they are sacrificed without a moment's
thought or pity.
It was precisely in that spirit that the ancient Aztec
priest thrust a knife into the human victim on the altar
and, with holy incantations, tore out the bleeding heart.
In that same spirit, the Cretans sacrificed their loveliest
daughters to the Minoan bull, and the Carthaginians
burned their living babies to placate the great god,
Some insects actually do seem to be controlled by an
authority outside themselves. The honeybee, for example,
appears to be wholly lacking in self-faith and individuaI
initiative. A will-of-the-swarm seems to control it. The
bee's life is exhausted in selfless, changeless toil for the
common good. The swarm itself seems to be the living
creature. If the queen is taken away, a hundred thousand
bees die, just as a headless body dies.
Man versus Bee
The collectivists, ancient and modern, contend that
human society should be set up like the beehive. In a
way, it is an appealing concept - at least to the theorists,
including the majority of professional writers. It is much
simpler to assume that human beings "stay put" or that
there should be some overriding authority that would
make them stay put. But to think that way is to think like
a bee - if a bee really thinks.
The plain fact of the matter is that human beings,
with their hopes and aspirations and the faculty for reasoning,
are very different from bees. Man combines conscious
curiosity with the lessons of experience and, when
permitted to do so, makes the combination pay continuous
dividends. In contrast to the lower animals, he includes
himself and his social affairs within the scope of
Bees, down through the ages, continue to act like automatons
and keep on building the same little cells of
wax. But human society is made up of unpredictable relationships
between individual persons. It is boy meeting
girl, Mrs. Jones telephoning Mrs. Smith, Robinson buying
a cigar, the motorist stopping for gas, the minister
making his round of calls, the postman delivering mail,
the lobbyist tipping the bellboy and meeting a congressman,
the school child bargaining for bubble gum, the
dentist saying, 'Wider, please!" Society is the innumerable
relationships of persons in their infinite variety in
space and in time.
The Purpose of Society
And what is the one constant element in all these relationships?
Why does one person want to meet another
person? What is the human purpose in society?
It is to exchange one good for another good more desired.
Putting it on a personal basis, it is a matter of
benefiting yourself by getting something you desire from
another person who, at the same time, benefits himself
by getting something that he desires from you. The object
of such contacts is the peaceful exchange of benefits,
mutual aid, co-operation -for each person's gain. The incalculable
sum of all these meetings is human society,
which is simply all the individual human actions that
express the brotherhood of man.
To discuss the welfare and responsibilities of society
as an abstract whole, as if it were like a bee swarm, is an
oversimplification and a fantasy. The real human world
is made by persons, not by societies. The only human development
is the self-development of the individual person.
There is no short cut!
But even today, many civilized persons - nice people,
cultured, gentle, and kind, our friends and our neighbors,
almost all of us at some time or another - have harbored
the pagan belief that the sacrifice of the individual person
serves a higher good. The superstition lingers in the
false ideal of selflessness -which emphasizes conformity
to the will-of-the-mass -as against the Christian virtues
of self-reliance, self-improvement, self-faith, self-respect,
self-discipline, and a recognition of one's duties as well
as one's rights.
Such thinking is promoted under the banner of social
reform, but it gives rise to the tyrants of "do-goodism"-
the fiihrers, the dictators, the overlords - who slaughter
their own subjects, the very people who look to them
for the more abundant life and for protection against
Today such killings are called "liquidation," "blood
purge," "social engineering"; but they are defended on
the basis of pagan barbarism-a sacrifice of the individual
under the alibi of what is claimed to be the "common
The Humanitarian with the Guillotine
In her discerning book, The God of the Machine, Isabel
Paterson draws important distinctions between Christian
kindliness directed toward the relief of distress, and the
misguided efforts of those who would make it a vehicle
She points out that most of the major ills of the world
have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored
the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to
themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to
improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet
formula of their own. "It is at this point," she says, "that
the humanitarian sets up the guillotine.
Although prompted by good intentions, such a program
is usually the outgrowth of egomania fanned by
self-hypnotism. As stated before, it is based on this idea:
"I am right. Those who disagree are wrong. If they can't
be forced into line, they must be destroyed."
Egoism, a natural human trait, is constructive when
kept within bounds. But it is highly presumptuous of any
mortal man to assume that he is endowed with such fantastic
ability that he can run the affairs of all his fellowmen
better than they, as individuals, can name their own
As Miss Paterson observes, the harm done by ordinary
criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible
in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings
by the professional "do-gooders," who attempt to set
themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly
force their views on all others - with the abiding assurance
that the end justifies the means.
But it is a mistake to assume that the do-gooders are
insincere. The danger lies in the fact that their faith is
just as devout and just as ardent as that of the ancient
SOCIALISM AND/OR COMMUNISM
The nearest approach to the bee swarm is found in socialism
or communism - whichever term you care to use.
There is not much choice between the two; they both
aim at world collectivism. The only difference is a variation
of viewpoint as to what tactics and procedures
should be used to bring it about.
Up to 1917, the words socialism and communism were
used as synonymous and interchangeable terms. But incident
to the Russian Revolution, they began to be used to
distinguish between the Second Intenational and the
Perhaps we had better go back a little and briefly review
the events that led to the present-day confusion. In
the middle of the 19th century, a German named Karl
Heinrich Marx, with the support of the wealthy Friedrich
Engels, presented the ancient will-of-the-swarm superstition
in moden dress, embellished with pseudo-scientific
theories. His voluminous writings include The Communist
Manifesto ( 1848) and Das Kapital (1867).
This was during the period when the so-called Industial
Revolution was just beginning to make headway in
lifting the burden of heavy labor from the back of mankind.
But Marx misinterpreted the trend. He mistook the
new tools of freedom as being tools of further oppression.