Ayn Rand’s Diagnosis of “Collectivized Rights”

Explain this contradiction.

When he discusses Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, Obama talks about killing or capturing them. But when he discusses Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and the Iranian government, Obama talks about “diplomacy” and “a good-faith effort to resolve differences,” and “a new beginning.” Even in this past Tuesday’s press conference, when he finally condemned the Iranian government for oppressing Iranian protestors, Obama also spoke of “healing some of the wounds of 30 years, in terms of U.S.-Iranian relations.” And he reiterated the following:

I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran …

Like Al Qaeda, the Iranian government has killed many Americans, from the support of Hezbollah in its killing of 241 Marines in Beirut in 1983 to the backing of terrorism against American soldiers in Iraq.

Why doesn’t Obama speak of “a new beginning” and “healing some of the wounds” with Al Qaeda?

Evidently, Obama holds that the Iranian government is legitimate, deserving of respect, for no more reason than that it is a government, that it has total control over some territory, and (above all) that some group of people—“the Iranian people”—chose it.

In her essay “Collectivized Rights,” (1963, reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness) Ayn Rand writes:

What subjectivism is in the realm of ethics, collectivism is in the realm of politics. Just as the notion that “Anything I do is right because I chose to do it,” is not a moral principle, but a negation of morality—so the notion that “Anything society does is right because society chose to do it,” is not a moral principle, but a negation of moral principles and the banishment of morality from social issues.

The fact that many Iranians support or tolerate the Iranian government makes the government no less evil, but rather makes those Iranians guilty too. The fact that the Iranian government oppresses those Iranians who do not support or tolerate the government makes the government’s evil even more obvious. The fact that the Iranian government controls a vast territory (with enormous oil assets) and an entire population, in a way that Al Qaeda does not, makes the Iranian government no more legitimate than Al Qaeda, but far more of a threat to America.

Just as the American military should kill Osama bin Laden on sight, so too should it terminate Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and the rest of the Iranian dictators.

Of course, this will not happen. The sad truth is that if Obama were living in the 1930s, he would say that he “respects the sovereignty” of Nazi Germany.

This notion of “collectivized rights,” the notion that “‘Anything society does is right because society chose to do it,’” is also implicit in Obama’s domestic policy. But that is a topic for another post (or comments?).

4 thoughts on “Ayn Rand’s Diagnosis of “Collectivized Rights”

  1. Let’s not also forget that the error you mention leads to one of the greatest evils of our age: the equating of “democracy” with “freedom.” As if rule by the mob is the ultimate political achievement for any country.

  2. Excellent blog entry here. I, too, can’t stand hearing the equivocation of “democracy” and “freedom.” When Bush was asked about the possibility of the Iraqi people electing leaders who were as viciously Islamist as Ahmadinejad, he said he had no problem with it, and “democracy is democracy!” Ugh….

  3. But this same filthy mentality rules America. To those who attempt to interpret The Constitution’s opening: “We The People, it is the peoples’ voice that matters, regardless of Individual Rights. In my view, a simple slant of wording leads to the majority opinion as the Constitutional ideal of the United States. Before dismissing my view too easily, please consider the ease with which the Left converted the concept “liberal” from meaning free action among citizens, to meaning free regulation by government!

    The power of *words* is stunning, if one can grasp what words serve as labels for weakly held concepts. One must recover the concepts of Individual Rights and Capitalism, if one is to recover America.

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