Rebirth of Reason


The Self-Centered Monster
by Andre Zantonavitch

For the past 150 years or so Western Civilization has been divided up into two, and only two, overwhelmingly familiar ideological groups: right and left. The right or "conservative" group tends to favor religion -- or at least "Christian democracy" -- in its political, philosophical, and cultural views. The left or "progressive" group tends to favor socialism -- or at least "social democracy" -- in its political, philosophical, and cultural views.

Although these two groups -- so irrational and illiberal by Objectivist standards -- are nominal opponents and do tend to fight each other rather fiercely, both agree on one thing: ethics. Both the religious group and the socialist group massively oppose moral individualism while spiritedly championing self-sacrifice. Both ideological groups savagely attack what I call the Sacred Self, and they do so in two separate ways: they want the individual to repudiate himself and serve both the Other (i.e. other specific individuals) and the Group (i.e. the undifferentiated masses). The name of this self-hating, self-destroying morality is "the Judeo-Christian ethic" although for our post-1848 Marxist era it seems better to call it "the religio-socialist ethic."

And the religio-socialist ethic truly does seek to crush the Sacred Self. This means, frankly put, it means to destroy you.

"But why?" you might cry out. The right and left emphatically reply: because unbridled individualism and uncontrolled selfishness is intensely anti-social. Strong individualists tend to run roughshod over the happiness of others and generally "sacrifice" those others -- both singly and collectively -- to their naturally evil selfish interests. The One, then, is potentially an immense threat to Everyone else. Thus the conservatives and progressives agree that society wouldn't want to create, nor allow to persist, some "utterly self-centered monster" because of the enormous and variegated socially deleterious effects.

This is the theory at least. And yet as far as I can tell:

Any purely theoretical, hitherto non-existent "utterly self-centered monster" seemingly would, as he went about his business, spread happiness everywhere he went. He would be a regular Johnny Happyseed of joy.

In doing so he wouldn't, in my judgment, really even have to "try" or "work hard" or "be talented" -- or even "be virtuous and good." All he would have to do is be and stay 100% loyal to his own sacrosanct self. All he would really have to do is listen to his own heart and soul. Following along this path, other people wouldn't even exist for him -- not even to hurt.

But by following only his own vision and seeking only to make his own dreams come true, he would almost inevitably be lead, "by an invisible spirit," to yearn, lust, try, and work ultra-hard to achieve all of this. He would be his own harshest judge and strictest taskmaster in this. In turn, he would almost inevitably be lead, by that self-same "ultra-invisible hand," to succeed exceedingly well, as well.

This, in turn, will almost inevitably generate massive wealth for the monster -- and vastly improved products or services or ideas of some kind for the while world.

Beyond this, the monster's kith and kin will generally be deliriously happy to know him and be his friend. His lovers, in turn, will be even happier. His business associates will generally prosper magnificently, and even his most casual acquaintances, such as waiters at restaurants, will tend to bask in the spiritual glow of his greatness while profiting from his financial largess.

And as a superlatively joyous and successful man, this monster will generally and even universally tend to wildly influence all who otherwise come into contact with him. Even those who only indirectly hear about him and his ways will tend to be "infected" by his ultra-powerful happiness germ. This self-centered monster will teach the hardest and most important social subject possible, and in the best way possible: by example. Everyone in his society, in my view, will generally emulate him and have rather fantastically good results. He, in turn, will then learn from all of their new joy and then rise higher still.

So much for the social benefits of altruism. Egoism evidently obliterates them.

Despite what today's illiberals of the right (the monotheists) and illiberals of the left (the welfare statists) have to say on the crucial subject of ethics in society, self-sacrifice leads to just one thing: self-sacrifice. And since all humans are "selves," then all get sacrificed, if not killed.

In my estimation, the day even a single truly "self-centered monster" somehow emerges from the deep -- on our conservative and progressive crushed planet -- will be a day of social ecstasy.

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