Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Answer to Quiz: Who Believed It?

This was originally scheduled for tomorrow morning, but in light of the discussion yesterday I've decided to lift the suspense and reveal the answer early. Yesterday I posted a personal moral code that I recently came across and asked if anyone could guess who said it. As a recap, here's the quote again:
____ attitude to morality consisted of one core, the self, "I," above everything else: "I do not agree with the view that to be moral, the motive of one's actions has to be benefiting others. Morality does not have to be defined in relation to others . . . People like me want to . . . satisfy our hearts to the full, and in doing so we automatically have the most valuable moral codes. Of course there are people and objects in the world, but they are all there only for me." 
____ shunned all constraints of responsibility and duty. "People like me only have a duty to ourselves; we have no duty to other people." "I am responsible only for the reality that I know," ___ wrote, "and absolutely not responsible for anything else. I don't know about the past, I don't know about the future. They have nothing to do with the reality of my own self." ____ explicitly rejected any responsibility towards future generations. "Some say one has a responsibility for history. I don't believe it. I am only concerned about developing myself . . . I have my desire and act on it. I am responsible to no one." 
____did not believe in anything unless he could benefit from it personally. A good name after death, __ said, "cannot bring me any joy, because it belongs to the future and not to my own reality." "People like me are not building achievements to leave for future generations." __ did not care what __ left behind. 
* * * 
As conscience always implies some concern for other people, and is not a corollary of hedonism, __ was rejecting the concept. ___ view was: "I do not think these [commands like 'do not kill,' 'do not steal' and 'do not slander'] have to do with conscience. I think they are only out of self-interest for self preservation." All considerations must "be purely calculation for oneself, and absolutely not for obeying external ethical codes, or for so-called feelings of responsibility..."
The answer is not Ayn Rand (who it reminded me, and several readers, of), nor any other libertarian philosopher. It's not an American, or even a Westerner. Yet it is the sort of statement that could have come straight from the mouth of John Galt.

It was Mao Tse-Tung, the Chinese communist revolutionary and dictator. The quote is excerpted from Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang.

At Patrick Henry College I had a professor who asserted in class one day that libertarianism and Marxism were actually ideologically related--they both reduced everything to economics, which in turn reduces everything to self-interest. This quote is just another example of the insightfulness of that observation.
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