What Makes a Nation Great?
It’s not charity or altruism that makes men and women great; it is their selfish dedication to do what they think is right and moral, and their intransigent conviction to hold on to their moral principles and rational ideals. — The Vincenton Post
In my previous blog I stated the following:
A few great leaders in history like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the Founding Fathers of the United States all had sense of pride and purpose because they believed in the importance and power of ideas. In 1783, George Washington, the first President of the United States, was called the “greatest man in the world” by King George III for not perpetuating his stay in power. Jefferson, who wrote the greatest document on earth- the Declaration of Independence that not only liberated America from Great Britain, but also led to propagation of the value and essence of liberty and individual rights throughout the world- adhered to the philosophy of Aristotle that “man is an end in himself.” Yes, America became the greatest country on earth because it held the right idea- the idea that man has inalienable rights, and that these rights may only be respected and protected under a proper social system- Capitalism. Individual rights are incompatible with communism, fascism, or any form of collectivism.
History has it that every fascist government (ruled by a fascist dictator and his cronies) and every socialist/communist regime (ruled by a mystic dictator who governed under a false premise of equality of the proletariat) failed and only caused unimaginable devastation and death because of an evil idea- the idea that man is the means to the ends of others. America achieved its unparalleled, incomparable success in human history because of the idea conceived by its great Founding Fathers- the idea that man is an end in himself, as well as the noble concepts of reason, individualism, and capitalism. Let me state here that America, at least during its early years, was founded upon the philosophy of Aristotle. This is the power of philosophy and idea. Idea is more powerful than a cabal of fully armed men. We have to remember that both Soviet Russia and Maoist China, which caused the death of about 200 million people combined, had been founded on the philosophy of about ten philosophers and thinkers of the last two centuries. We all have the time, means and opportunity to learn from history, and I think it would be unforgivable- it would be the greatest sin a rational man could ever commit- if we Filipinos allow this same horrible mistake to happen in our country.
What makes a man or a woman great? It’s not charity or altruism that makes men and women great; it is their selfish dedication to do what they think is right and moral, and their intransigent conviction to hold on to their moral principles and rational ideals. It is not the pious friars nor the benevolent kings and queens of the most dreaded empires of the olden ages that made this world a better place to live, but the selfish individual of rational conviction, the uncompromising individual of sheer ability who believed in the power of moral ideas and the right philosophy, who saved the planet earth from the brutal and faith-based rule of the mystics of muscle and the mystics of spirit.
George Washington, the first president of the first free nation in the world, was called the “greatest man in the world” because he did not betray his soul or ego. He did not give up his moral principles and convictions for a chance to enshrine himself as king of the new nation of America. He thought it “abhorrent” to be the first king of what is known today as the world’s superpower nation. He never sought power, as he held “the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy.” George Washington once said: “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.”
On December 4, 1784 when his term as president finally expired, Washington formally handed back to Congress his commission as commander in chief of the new nation of America, which they had given him in June 1775. He said he would never again hold public office. He had his horse waiting at the door, and he took the road to Mount Vernon the next day.
No one who knew Washington was surprised. Everyone else, in varying degrees, was astonished at this singular failure of the corruption of power to work. And, indeed, it was a rare moment in history. In London, King George III of Great Britain questioned the American-born painter Benjamin West what Washington would do now he had won the war. “Oh,” said West, “they say he will return to his farm.” “If he does that,” said the king, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”
Many of us in these parts wonder why the Philippines remains a poor country despite the fact that it is the only Christian nation in Asia. It is not religion that will save a country from any political, economic or social disaster- it is the men and women who value the right and proper idea- the idea that for man to live on earth, he must choose the right philosophy, and cherish the ideals of liberty and individual rights. What most people don’t know is that any religion, whether it be Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism, is based on an idea that man is a determined, helpless being who must submit his life to a divine supernatural entity they call God. Every religion is based on the morality of altruism, which holds that man has to put the interest and welfare of others above his own. All kinds of religion have their unique concept of “original sin,” a supernatural imposition that condemns man before he is born.
This country remains poor because it was never founded on the right, uncompromising philosophy, a philosophy for living on earth. An uncompromising philosophy is that which rejects contradictions, false premises, and vague generalities. A man’s right and moral principles cannot be compromised. A man’s right to speak freely cannot be overruled by an edict that makes it illegal for men to speak the truth against religious bigotry and fanaticism, or against corruption or any any act of perversion by the government. A man’s right to the fruits of his own labor cannot be overridden by any dictatorial directive that forces him to contribute a portion of his earnings to a welfare statist government that vowed to serve the interests of the poor. A man’s rights and nature hold that man is an end in himself and not the means to the ends of others. This is the premise that made America the greatest nation on earth. This is the only premise that can make our poor country great, but only if we knew its proper relation to reality, to reason, to politics (which is capitalism), and to man’s code of ethics.
I stated in my previous blog the following:
If a social system were based on the morality of altruism, the successful and those who are willing to produce wealth would be reduced to mere slaves. The men who cherish individual rights and freedom cannot exist in a society that enshrines sacrifice and altruism as a social system. The political slogan of these environmental- and population-altruists is that Marxist credo— “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” A society that holds that man is a tool for the needs and welfare of others regards population growth as evil that must be condemned. If people begin to think that man is a helpless animal who has no capacity to improve his life on earth, they would not hesitate to resort to brute force to achieve their altruistic goal.
However, a free society does not regard population as a social problem. A society beleaguered by government controls and regulations cannot be considered a free society, so is a society that is based on the morality of altruism. Aristotle’s law of identity postulates that contradictions cannot exist. Thus, for a society to be free, it has to embrace a certain type of socio-economic system that is consistent with man’s nature and rights. Man’s nature suggests that he cannot exist in a society that regards him as a sacrificial animal. Man’s rights also suggest that man has to live in a society that embraces rational principles and objective moral ideals. This is how the United States of America developed and became the most prosperous nation in the world.
Yes, the men who reject philosophy need it most urgently, since they are most helplessly in its power. Ideas are more powerful than a cabal of fully armed men. Most of the murderous nations on earth—Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, Soviet Russia, and Maoist China— were all based on collectivist ideologies that enshrined state’s authority and regarded men as a collection of atoms. A collectivist/socialist state does not recognize individual rights, but only the state’s supremacy to govern and rule its subjects. Observe that those who reject philosophy and ideas do not believe in absolutes—they do not believe in objective reality. Reality for them is subjective to be determined by their consciousness. Everything that is not consistent with man’s nature and rights is a breach of reality.
Ayn Rand once wrote:
“You have reached the blind alley of the treason you committed when you agreed that you have no right to exist. Once, you believed it was ‘only a compromise’: you conceded it was evil to live for yourself, but moral to live for the sake of your children. Then you conceded it was selfish to live for your children, but moral to live for your community. Then you conceded it was selfish to live for your community, but moral to live for your country. Now you are letting this greatest of countries [America] be devoured by any scum from any corner of the earth, while you concede that it is selfish to live for your country and that your moral duty is to live for the globe. A man who has no right to life, has no right to values and will not keep them.”