“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received–hatred. The great creators–the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors–stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power–that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creater served nothing and no one. He had lived for himself. And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement.
Man cannot survive except through the use of his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons–a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man–the function of his reasoning mind.
But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act–the process of reason–must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.”
— Howard Roarke, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
I recently watched the movie, The Fountainhead, starring Gary Cooper as the great architect and rugged individualist, Howard Roarke. I was impressed on several levels. I’ve always heard about how Ayn Rand is an Libertarian icon, but it was not until just hours ago that I finally learned why. There were many excellent quotes to be pulled, but the courtroom scene at the end held what I think was the best dialog of the entire film. The quote above is from that scene. I think it captures the essence of the hero’s philosophy. The film does not tie its theme to religion, however it is a very short step from the nature of man as a thinking being to man being made in the image of our Creator, the divine logos – the divine mind.
The argument Roarke makes against parasitic collectivism is the same argument any free thinking man today would make against contemporary socialism. Our president and many of those he surrounds himself with proclaim the gospel of collective salvation – politically as well as religiously. It is a dangerous poison that enslaves mankind to the will of the few bold and ruthless enough to be its masters. It is also no new poison. The first great biblical example is the building of the Tower of Babel. One strong man bound all mankind into submission to the collective. God intervened then. Many rulers since have tried to bend individual liberty to the will of the collective from ancients like Khan, Alexander, and the Caesars to moderns like Mao, Stalin, and Hitler. Collectivism is not limited to great foreign dictators. Its poison seeps in through American progressives like Jackson, Wilson, FDR, Nixon, and Obama.
We are sold the idea that self-sacrifice is the greatest virtue on the pretense that it is a lofty ideal. We are told to put the other fellow first, to surrender our liberty for the common security and welfare of the collective. This is a particularly easy sale to Christians of nominal faith and theological knowledge. Charity is indeed a great virtue and a work poured out through the Holy Spirit. God loves the cheerful giver. The one who takes by force to redistribute elsewhere, however, is an evil oppressor. The giver, anything but cheerful, becomes the victim. It ceases to be charity when the gift is given at gun point. Consider these passages:
Luke 4:18b “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”
1 Cor 10:29 “For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?”
Jn 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
And with regard to individual versus collective salvation consider this passage:
Rev 21:6-8 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”