Following the horrific mass murders May 23 in Santa Barbara, California—a crime perpetrated by a man who had posted racist rants, tried to push fellow students off a ledge, claimed that women rejecting him provoked his violence, and claimed that the world is “bleak and cruel . . . due [to] the evilness of women”—one popular leftist blogger claimed on Facebook that the crime was among the “consequences” of “a society that values every man for himself over the greater good.”
Yes, the modern left is so ideologically bankrupt that its representatives will blame a mass murder—even one perpetrated by an explicit and thoroughgoing collectivist—on individualism, and call for more collectivism as the “solution” to the problem. (And nevermind that niggling detail that, in the past hundred years, various governments slaughtered scores of millions of individuals in the name of the “greater good.”)
The murderer in question was an anti-individualist in every essential way:
- Rather than rationally pursue his own selfish, life-promoting values and judge himself independently by how consistently he did so, the murderer lived by and for the opinions of others, especially the opinions of women who (unsurprisingly) took no romantic interest in him. The murderer—an archetype of what Ayn Rand called a “second-hander”—was so preoccupied with trying to manipulate the opinions of others that he failed to pursue an independent, value-rich life for which he might have justly respected himself and for which others might have justly respected him. In no sense was the murderer an individualist who lived for himself and for his own life-promoting values; he was a second-hander who “lived” entirely for the reactions he could affect in others.
- Rather than judge himself and others as individuals, the murderer judged people (himself included) as members of a group, whether based on race or gender. Rather than observe the obvious fact that women took no romantic interest in him because he was a self-loathing, violent, racist, sexist jerk, the murderer blamed women as a class for his personal frustrations and for the broader problems of the world. Judging people as members of a class rather than as individuals is (needless to say) the MO of a collectivist.
- Rather than recognize the fact that each individual is a moral end in himself who properly pursues his own life and values, the murderer essentially viewed women as property who somehow “owed” him sex. The murderer then chose to murder six other individuals (and to end his own miserable life) and to injure many more. No person can rationally live for himself—and insist on his moral right to do so—without recognizing that every other individual rationally lives for himself and has a moral right to do so.
Leftists such as the social critic cited above ignore all these facts and pretend that the only alternative to some individuals sacrificing others for their deranged ends is for all individuals to sacrifice themselves (or, if they are unwilling, to forcibly be sacrificed) for the alleged “greater good” (however defined).
Such leftists entirely ignore the rational and moral alternative: Each individual should live for his own life-promoting values, pursue the happiness that results from doing so, trade value for value with others by mutual consent and for mutual gain, and respect the moral right of every other individual to live for his own life and happiness.
Collectivism, not individualism, was the motivation for the atrocity in California. Individualists don’t murder others for not satisfying their whims; individualists seek to live and let live. Shame on leftists who exploit this atrocity to further their collectivist ends.
- The Creed of Sacrifice vs. The Land of Liberty
- A Peek at Thinking in Principles: The Science of Selfishness