“Do not ever say that the desire to “do good” by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. “, said the great philosopher, Ayn Rand. Let us examine the quote itself. How much of it is true? I don’t think anyone would argue that power lust is a good motive. Is stupidity a good motive? Whether stupidity is good or evil is a different matter altogether. Stupidity is not a motive, let alone a bad motive. Stupidity is an intellectual state.
An overwhelming majority of the people believe socialists are motivated by good motives. People usually think that the desire to take money from the wealthy for redistribution is a good motive. Karl Marx is thought of as a naive, impractical visionary. These people fail to realize that there is nothing good, in and by itself. An act, motive or idea could be considered good or evil based on its relation to reality. If an idea bears no relation to reality, then it has to be discarded and considered evil. The desire to help the poor through dishonorable means is not a good motive. No. The ends don’t justify the means. It is not just the means we are against, it is the end itself. No man has a rightful claim to the wealth produced by another.
Isabel Paterson was of the opinion that most of the harm done on earth is by basically good individuals. They support wrong policies because they are well intentioned. They don’t wish harm on their fellow citizens. Unable to see the consequences of the ideas and policies they support, they bring greater harm than malicious individuals. It is true that most of the individuals are well meaning, at least on a conscious level. They stick to conventional morality. Ayn rand doesn’t seem to be completely unaware of this. Consider these words of her about the Twentieth century Motor company- “We saw that we’d been given a law to live by, a moral law, they called it, which punished those who observed it—for observing it. The more you tried to live up to it, the more you suffered; the more you cheated it, the bigger reward you got. Your honesty was like a tool left at the mercy of the next man’s dishonesty. The honest ones paid, the dishonest collected. The honest lost the dishonest won.”
However, it is not true that the people who stick to the conventional moral code are entirely innocent. Their intentions were well expressed by these words of Rand: “We weren’t so innocent either. We didn’t do it just because we believed that the drippy old guff they spewed was good. We had another reason, but the guff helped us to hide it from our neighbors and from ourselves. The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we’d be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn’t a man voting for it who didn’t think that under a setup of this kind he’d muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn’t a man rich and smart enough but that he didn’t think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his betters’ wealth and brain. “
It might not be true that all who hold wrong ideas are evil. Barbara Branden rightly asks “We shouldn’t denounce someone who does not understand what we learned only yesterday. Were we evil the day before yesterday?” While some of the people hold wrong ideas mistakenly, there is overwhelming evidence to say that a lot many of them are motivated by evil intentions. It is evident from the fact that most of the innovators were opposed by the majority of the masses. Great businessmen were called robber barons. It is also interesting to note that most people who hate big businessmen, inventors and innovators love and admire dictators. So many publications in my state shed crocodile tears when Saddam was murdered. Those publications criticize Bush, but it seems that they criticize him only because they think America to be a leading capitalist country. Another striking fact is that though a lot many people are sympathetic towards socialism, and in the days of Soviet Union praised the stupendous achievements of Soviet Union, there was no brain drain to Soviet Russia. Today a lot many people praise the achievements of Cuba in health care and other aspects, but still there is no brain drain to Cuba. Why is that so? It is also worth noting that the greatest supporters of Socialism and totalitarianism are intellectuals. It is not surprising when we consider the fact that intellectuals are dependent on the state for their survival! How could some one evade the glaringly obvious fact that the freest nations are the most prosperous and the poorest ones are the most controlled?