Editor's Note: The Reader is publishing here Part One of G. Edward Griffin's The Future is Calling Essays. The entire set of essays can be downloaded as PDF's at the links below:
Part One: The Chasm
Part Two: Secret Organizations and Hidden Agendas
Part Three: Days of Infamy
Part Four: The War on Terrorism
The Future Is Calling (Part One)
© 2003 - 2009 by G. Edward Griffin
Revised 2009 April 26
"The purpose of this presentation is to prove that, what is unfolding today is, not a war on
terrorism to defend freedom, but a war on freedom that requires the defense of terrorism."
G. Edward Griffin is a writer and documentary film producer with many successful
titles to his credit. Listed in Who's Who in America, he is well known because of his talent
for researching difficult topics and presenting them in clear terms that all can understand.
He has dealt with such diverse subjects as archaeology and ancient Earth history, the
Federal Reserve System and international banking, terrorism, internal subversion, the
history of taxation, U.S. foreign policy, the science and politics of cancer therapy, the
Supreme Court, and the United Nations. His better-known works include The Creature from
Jekyll Island, World without Cancer, The Discovery of Noah's Ark, Moles in High Places,
The Open Gates of Troy, No Place to Hide, The Capitalist Conspiracy, More Deadly than
War, The Grand Design, The Great Prison Break, and The Fearful Master.
Mr. Griffin is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he majored in speech
and communications. In preparation for writing his book on the Federal Reserve System, he
enrolled in the College for Financial Planning located in Denver, Colorado. His goal was not
to become a professional financial planner but to better understand the real world of
investments and money markets. He obtained his CFP designation (Certified Financial
Planner) in 1989.
Mr. Griffin is a recipient of the coveted Telly Award for excellence in television
production, the creator of the Reality Zone Audio Archives, and is President of American
Media, a publishing and video production company in Southern California. He has served
on the board of directors of The National Health Federation and The International
Association of Cancer Victors and Friends and is Founder and President of The Cancer Cure
Foundation. He is the founder and president of Freedom Force International.
Thank you, Richard, and thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. What a terrific
introduction that was; but, in all honesty, I must tell you that it greatly exaggerates the
importance of my work. I should know. I wrote it.
The dangerous thing about platform introductions is that they tend to create
unrealistic expectations. You have just been led to anticipate that, somehow, I am going to
make a complex subject easy to understand. Well, that's quite a billing. I hope I can live up
to that expectation today; but it remains to be seen if I can really do that with this topic: The
War on Terrorism. How can anyone make that easy to understand? There are so many issues
and so much confusion. I feel like the proverbial mosquito in a nudist camp. I know what I
have to do. I just don't know where to begin.
There is a well-known rule in public speaking that applies to complex topics. It is:
First, tell them what you're going to tell them. Then tell them. And, finally, tell them what
you told them. I'm going to follow that rule today, and I will begin by making a statement
that I have carefully crafted to be as shocking as possible. That's primarily because I want
you to remember it. When I tell you what I'm going to tell you, I know that, for many of
you, it will sound absurd, and you'll think I have gone completely out of my mind. Then, for
the main body of my presentation, I will tell you what I told you by presenting facts to prove
that everything I said is true. And, finally, at the end, I will tell you what I told you by
repeating my opening statement; and, by then hopefully, it will no longer seem absurd.
What I am going to tell you is this: Although it is commonly believed that the War on
Terrorism is a noble effort to defend freedom, in reality, it has little to do with terrorism and
even less to do with the defense of freedom. There are other agendas at work; agendas that
are far less praiseworthy; agendas that, in fact, are just the opposite of what we are told. The
purpose of this presentation is to prove that, what is unfolding today is, not a war on
terrorism to defend freedom, but a war on freedom that requires the defense of terrorism.
That is what I'm going to tell you today, and you are probably wondering how
anyone in his right mind could think he could prove such a statement as that. So let's get
right to it; and the first thing we must do is confront the word proof. What is proof? There is
no such thing as absolute proof. There is only evidence. Proof may be defined as sufficient
evidence to convince the observer that a particular hypothesis is true. The same evidence
that is convincing to one person may not convince another. In that event, the case is proved
to the first person but not to the second one who still needs more evidence. So, when we
speak of proof, we are really talking about evidence.
It's my intent to tell you what I told you by developing the case slowly and
methodically; to show motive and opportunity; to introduce eyewitnesses and the testimony
of experts. In other words, I will provide evidence - upon evidence - upon evidence until
the mountain is so high that even the most reluctant skeptic must conclude that the case has
Where do we find this evidence? The first place to look is in history. The past is the
key to the present, and we can never fully understand where we are today unless we know
what path we traveled to get here. It was Will Durant who said: "Those who know nothing
about history are doomed forever to repeat it."
Are we doomed to repeat history in the war on terrorism? If we continue to follow
the circular path we are now taking, I believe that we are. But to find out if that is true, we
need to go back in time. So, I invite you to join me, now, in my time machine. We are going
to splash around in history for a while and look at some great events and huge mistakes to
see if there are parallels, any lessons to be learned for today. I must warn you: it will seem
that we are lost in time. We are going to go here and there, and then jump back further, and
then forward in time, and we will be examining issues that may make you wonder "What on
Earth has this to do with today?" But I can assure you, when we reach the end of our
journey, you will see that everything we cover has a direct relevance to today and, in
particular, to the war on terrorism.
THE HIDDEN AGENDA
Now that we are in our time machine, we turn the dial to the year 1954 and,
suddenly, we find ourselves in the plush offices of the Ford Foundation in New York City.
There are two men seated at a large, Mahogany desk, and they are talking. They cannot see
or hear us, but we can see them very well. One of these men is Rowan Gaither, who was the
President of the Ford Foundation at that time. The other is Mr. Norman Dodd, the chief
investigator for what was called the Reece Committee, which was a Congressional
committee to investigate tax-exempt foundations. The Ford Foundation was one of those, so
he is there as part of his Congressional responsibilities.
In 1982, I met Mr. Dodd in his home state of Virginia where, at the time, I had a
television crew gathering interviews for a documentary film. I previously had read his
testimony and realized how important it was; so, when our crew had open time, I called him
on the telephone and asked if he would be willing to make a statement before our cameras,
and he said, "Of course." I'm glad we obtained the interview when we did, because Dodd
was advanced in years, and it wasn't long afterward that he passed away. We were very
fortunate to capture his story in his own words. What we are about to witness from our time
machine was confirmed in minute detail twenty years later and preserved on video.
The reason for Dodd's investigation was that the American public had become
alarmed by reports that large tax-exempt foundations were promoting the ideologies of
Communism and Fascism and advocating the elimination of the United States as a sovereign
nation. As far back as the 1930s, William Randolph Hearst had written a series of blistering
editorials in his national chain of newspapers in which he cited Carnegie Foundation
publications that spouted Communist slogans identical to what was coming from the
Communist Party itself. When the Carnegie Endowment published an article written by
Joseph Stalin attacking Capitalism and praising Communism, Hearst called it "propaganda,
pure and simple." He continued:
Its publication by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is an act of
thorough disloyalty to America - indistinguishable from the common and familiar
circulation of seditious and subversive literature by secret creators. The organ which
carries such stuff, even if it has the imprint of the Carnegie Endowment, is not one
whit less blameworthy and censurable than the skulking enemy of society whose
scene of operation is the dark alley and the hideout. 1
In another editorial, dated March 11, 1935, Hearst turned the spotlight on Nicholas
Murray Butler, who was the President of Columbia University and also President of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Hearst quoted a report written by Butler
which was a strategy for abolishing the United States as a sovereign country. He concluded:
In his report to the Directors of the Fund which Andrew Carnegie left to
promote the Europeanization of America under the mask of universal peace. Dr.
Butler expounds quite frankly the astounding Anti-American propaganda that this
organization is carrying on.
This movement is for what Dr. Butler calls a WORLD STATE. It is the most
seditious proposition ever laid before the American public, SEDITIOUS because it
gives aid and comfort to the communist, the fascist and the nazist, absolute enemies
of the very rock bottom principles on which our Government is founded.2
Voices of outrage also were heard in Congress. George Holden Tinkham of
Massachusetts, Louis T. Mc Fadden of Pennsylvania, and Martin J. Sweeney of Ohio
castigated the tax-exempt foundations as disloyal to America and seditious to the
government. Tinkham called for the creation of a committee to investigate tax-supported
organizations working for the "denationalization of the United States." Congress, however,
was inert on that topic, and nothing happened until after the end of World War II. In spite of
strong opposition from within Congress, the Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt
Foundations and Comparable Organizations was formed in April 1952 and turned over to
Congressman Carrol Reece of Tennessee. It was this committee that Norman Dodd served
as the chief investigator, and it is in that capacity that we now see him at the New York
offices of the Ford Foundation.
We are now in the year 1954, and we hear Mr. Gaither say to Mr. Dodd, "Would you
be interested in knowing what we do here at the Ford Foundation?" And Mr. Dodd says,
"Yes! That's exactly why I'm here. I would be very interested, sir." Then, without any
prodding at all, Gaither says, "Mr. Dodd, we operate in response to directives, the substance
of which is that we shall use our grant making power to alter life in the United States so that
it can be comfortably merged with the Soviet Union."
Dodd almost falls off of his chair when he hears that. Then he says to Gaither, "Well,
sir, you can do anything you please with your grant making powers, but don't you think you
have an obligation to make a disclosure to the American people? You enjoy tax exemption,
which means you are indirectly subsidized by taxpayers, so, why don't you tell the Congress
and the American people what you just told me?" And Gaither replies, "We would never
dream of doing such a thing."
1 As quoted by Catherine Palfrey Baldwin, And Men Wept (New York: Our Publications, 1955), p. 9.
A STRATEGY TO CONTROL THE TEACHING OF HISTORY
The question that arises in Mr. Dodd's mind is: How would it be possible for anyone
to think they could alter life in the United States so it could be comfortably merged with the
Soviet Union and, by implication, with other nations of the world? What an absurd thought
that would be - especially in 1954. That would require the abandonment of American
concepts of justice, traditions of liberty, national sovereignty, cultural identity, constitutional
protections, and political independence, to name just a few. Yet, these men were deadly
serious about it. They were not focused on the question of if this could be done. Their only
question was how to do it? What would it take to change American attitudes? What would it
take to convince them to abandon their heritage in exchange for global union?
The answer was provided by the Carnegie Endowment Fund for International Peace,
the same group that had been the center of controversy in the 1930s. When Dodd visited that
organization and began asking about their activities, the President said, "Mr. Dodd, you
have a lot of questions. It would be very tedious and time consuming for us to answer them
all, so I have a counter proposal. Why don't you send a member of your staff to our
facilities, and we will open our minute books from the very first meeting of the Carnegie
Fund, and your staff can go through them and copy whatever you find there. Then you will
know everything we are doing."
Again, Mr. Dodd was totally amazed. He observed that the President was newly
appointed and probably had never actually read the minutes himself. So Dodd accepted the
offer and sent a member of his staff to the Carnegie Endowment facilities. Her name was
Mrs. Catherine Casey who, by the way, was hostile to the activity of the Congressional
Committee. Political opponents of the Committee had placed her on the staff to be a
watchdog and a damper on the operation. Her attitude was: "What could possibly be wrong
with tax-exempt foundations? They do so much good." So, that was the view of Mrs. Casey
when she went to the boardroom of the Carnegie Foundation. She took her Dictaphone
machine with her (they used mechanically inscribed belts in those days) and recorded, word
for word, many of the key passages from the minutes of this organization, starting with the
very first meeting. What she found was so shocking, Mr. Dodd said she almost lost her
mind. She became ineffective in her work after that and had to be given another assignment.
This is what those minutes revealed: From the very beginning, the members of the
board discussed how to alter life in the United States; how to change the attitudes of
Americans to give up their traditional principles and concepts of government and be more
receptive to what they call the collectivist model of society. I will talk more about what the
word collectivist means in a moment, but those who wrote the documents we will be quoting
use that word often and they have a clear understanding of what it means.
At the Carnegie Foundation board meetings, they discussed this question in a
scholarly fashion. After months of deliberation, they came to the conclusion that, out of all
of the options available for altering political and social attitudes, there was only one that was
historically dependable. That option was war. In times of war, they reasoned, only then
would people be willing to give up things they cherish in return for the desperate need and
desire for security against a deadly enemy. And so the Carnegie Endowment Fund for
International Peace declared in its minutes that it must do whatever it can to bring the
United States into war.
They also said there were other actions needed, and these were their exact words:
"We must control education in the United States." They realized that was a pretty big order,
so they teamed up with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation to pool
their financial resources to control education in America - in particular, to control the
teaching of history. They assigned those areas of responsibility that involved issues relating
to domestic affairs to the Rockefeller Foundation, and those issues relating to international
affairs were taken on as the responsibility of the Carnegie Endowment.
Their first goal was to rewrite the history books, and they discussed at great length
how to do that. They approached some of the more prominent historians of the time and
presented to them the proposal that they rewrite history to favor the concept of collectivism,
but they were turned down flat. Then they decided - and, again, these are their own words,
"We must create our own stable of historians."
They selected twenty candidates at the university level who were seeking doctorates
in American History. Then they went to the Guggenheim Foundation and said, "Would you
grant fellowships to candidates selected by us, who are of the right frame of mind, those
who see the value of collectivism as we do? Would you help them to obtain their doctorates
so we can then propel them into positions of prominence and leadership in the academic
world?" And the answer was "Yes."
So they gathered a list of young men who were seeking their doctorate degrees. They
interviewed them, analyzed their attitudes, and chose the twenty they thought were best
suited for their purpose. They sent them to London for a briefing. (In a moment I will
explain why London is so significant.) At this meeting, they were told what would be
expected if and when they win the doctorates they were seeking. They were told they would
have to view history, write history, and teach history from the perspective that collectivism
was a positive force in the world and was the wave of the future. In other words, in the guise
of analyzing history, they would create history by conditioning future generations to accept
collectivism as desirable and inevitable.
THE BIRTH OF PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION
Under the orchestrating baton of Nicholas Butler, President of Columbia University
and President of the Carnegie Endowment, an organization was formed in 1884 called The
American Historical Association. This then created a series of controlled groups, called
Committees, each of which focused on a particular segment of the overall educational
mission. After these had published their recommendations, the Carnegie Fund created
another controlled group in 1929 called The Commission on the Social Studies, which
attracted to its membership an impressive list of academic personalities, including the
Superintendant of Schools in Washington, D.C., the Director of the American Geological
Society of New York, the President of Radcliff College, the Dean of the Graduate School at
the University of Minnesota, the head of the Institute for the Study of Law at John Hopkins
University, and eleven professors of history at such prestigious institutions as Columbia
University and the Universities of Chicago, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Other
institutions that provided staff services or facilitated its work in other ways included
Harvard, Stanford, Smith College, and the Universities of Iowa, North Carolina and West
Virginia. The Commission was funding by a $340,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation
- at a time when $5,000 was an excellent annual salary for a college professor.
The Commission on the Social Studies is remembered today for its role in launching
what has come to be known as progressive education. The self-admitted goal of progressive
educators was - and is - to de-emphasize academic excellence in favor of awareness of
social and political issues. That's the first half. The second half is that those issues must be
presented so as to promote three concepts: (1) National sovereignty is the cause of war and
must be replaced by world government; (2) Personal property should be eliminated because
it leads to selfishness, and (3) people will not assist or cooperate with each other in freedom
so they must be forced to do so by the state. Since those are key features of collectivism, the
unspoken lesson that students learn is that collectivism is good and is the wave of the future.
One of the better known members of the Commission on the Social Studies was
George Counts, Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. After the
Bolshevik Revolution, Counts travelled to the Soviet Union to witness Communism first
hand and returned with the conviction that the Soviet model was the ideal social system.
After the war, when Stalin's brutality against his own people became widely known and
when Russia resumed an aggressive stance against Western nations, Counts became a critic
of the Soviet regime. His objection, however, was with Stalin's actions and policies, not his
adherence to collectivism, which Counts continued to advocate. His 1932 book, Dare the
School Build a New Social Order,1 not only expressed his personal views, it was a
popularized version of what the Commission hoped to instill into the educational system. He
If property rights are to be diffused in industrial society, natural resources and
all important forms of capital will have to be collectively owned. ... This clearly
means that, if democracy is to survive in the United States, it must abandon its
individualistic affiliations in the sphere of economics. ... Within these limits, as I see
it, our democratic tradition must of necessity evolve and gradually assume an
essentially collectivistic pattern.
The important point is that fundamental changes in the economic system are
imperative. Whatever service historic capitalism may have rendered in the past, and
they have been many, its days are numbered. With its dedication to the principles of
selfishness, its exaltation of the profit motive, its reliance on the forces of
competition, and its placing of property above human rights,1 it will either have to be
displaced altogether or changed so radically in form and spirit that its identity will
become completely lost.
1 (New York: John Day Co., 1932)
THE REAL PURPOSE OF MODERN EDUCATION
In 1932, the Commission released its first report entitled A Charter for the Social
Studies in the Schools, which proclaimed its goals. This was followed in 1934 by its
Conclusions and Recommendations. Here are a few examples from that report. Please note
that, while this was written in the style of academic literature, it was created to the precise
specifications of those who paid the bill. It must not be overlooked that, although these men
held doctorates in history, they were writers for hire. They undoubtedly believed in the
desirability of collectivism - that's the reason they were chosen in the first place. Their
mission, however, was, not to write past history objectively, but to present it in such a way
as to create attitudes so as to influence future history. In other words, they viewed
themselves as social engineers and were propagandists for their benefactors.
The commission could not limit itself to a survey of text-books, methods of
instruction and schemes of examination, but was compelled to consider the
conditions and prospects of the American people as a part of world civilization now
merging into a world order. ... The American civilization is passing through one of
the great critical ages of history, is modifying its traditional faith in economic
individualism and is embarking on vast experiences in social planning and control.
Under the moulding influence of socialized processes of living ... there is a
notable waning of the once widespread popular faith in economic individualism; and
leaders in public affairs, supported by a growing mass of the population, are
demanding the introduction into economy of ever-wider measures of planning and
control. ... Cumulative evidence supports the conclusion that, in the United States as
in other countries, the age of individualism and laissez faire in economy and
government is closing and that a new age of collectivism is emerging. ...
Almost certainly it will involve a larger measure of compulsory as well as
voluntary cooperation of citizens in the conduct of the complex national economy. A
corresponding enlargement of the function of government and in increasing state
intervention in fundamental branches of economy previously left to individual
discretion. ... The actually integrating economy of the present day is a forerunner of
a consciously integrated society in which individual economic actions and individual
property rights will be altered and abridged. ...
The emerging economy will involve the placing of restraints on individual
enterprise, propensities, and acquisitive egoism in agriculture, industry and labor and
generally on the conception, ownership, management, and use of property. ...
Organized public education ... is now compelled, if it is to fulfill its social
obligations, to adjust its objectives, its curriculum, its methods of instruction and its
administrative procedures to the requirements of the emerging integrated order. ...
From this point of view, a supreme purpose of education in the United States ... is
the preparation of the rising generation to enter the society now coming into being.1
If you have been puzzled by the bizarre results of government controlled education
since World War II, please go back and read that summary again. Many expose?s have been
written about progressive education, the demise of national pride, and the dumbing down of
America, but none do a better job explaining it than the words of the founders themselves.
These Conclusions and Recommendations were not unanimously endorsed by the
sixteen-member commission. Several of the group refused to sign because they thought the
concepts were too radical. Others had no problem with the concepts but disliked the
recommended curriculum. Their minority dissent, however, was of little consequence and
Reactions outside academia were more dramatic. Headlines in the New York Times
blasted: "Collectivist Era Seen in Survey, Transition from Individualist Age Under Way."
The New York Herald Tribune carried a similar story. An editorial in the New York Sun on
May 23 was entitled "Propaganda in Education." The following year, the Philadelphia
Evening Bulletin carried a story entitled "Breeding Communism."2
In spite of a few outbursts of public indignation, the news value of this story soon
faded, and Progressive Education continued a steady, unchallenged march of conquest over
public education, while being quietly funded from behind the scenes by the Carnegie
Endowment Fund and other powerful tax-exempt foundations under the appearance of
Now let's go to the words of Norman. Dodd, as he described these events before our
cameras in 1982. He said:
This group of twenty historians eventually formed the nucleus of the
American Historical Association. Then toward the end of the 1920's the Endowment
grants to the American Historical Association $400,000 [a huge amount of money in
those days] for a study of history in a manner that points to what this country can
look forward to in the future. That culminates in a seven-volume study, the last
volume of which is a summary of the contents of the other six. And the essence of the
last volume is, the future of this country belongs to collectivism, administered with
characteristic American efficiency.3
Now we must turn off our time machine for a few moments and deal with this word
collectivism. You are going to hear it a lot. Especially if you delve into the historical papers
of the individuals and groups we are discussing, you will find them using that word over and
over. Although most people have only a vague concept of what it means, the advocates of
collectivism have a very clear understanding of it, so let's deal with that now.
1 Point of order, Professor Counts: Property rights ARE human rights. (Author)
1 Quoted by Baldwin, op. cit., pp. 137 - 140.
2 Quoted by Ronald W. Evans, The Social Studies Wars; What Should We Teach the Children? (New York: Teachers
College Press, 2004), p. 58.
3 The complete transcript of Mr. Dodd's testimony may be downloaded at no charge from the web site of Freedom
Force International, www.freedom-force.org. The video from which this wmay be obtained from The Reality Zone web site, www.realityzone.com.
THE CHASM: TWO ETHICS THAT DIVIDE THE WESTERN WORLD
There are many words commonly used today to describe political attitudes. We are
told that there are conservatives, liberals, libertarians, progressives, right-wingers, left-
wingers, socialists, communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Fascists, Nazis; and if that isn't
confusing enough, now we have neo conservatives, neo Nazis, and neo everything else.
When we are asked what our political orientation is, we are expected to choose from one of
these words. If we don't have a strong political opinion or if we're afraid of making a bad
choice, then we play it safe and say we are moderates - adding yet one more word to the
Social mores and religious beliefs sometimes divide along the Left-Right political
axis. In the United States, the Democrat Party is home for the Left, while the Republican
Party is home for the Right. Those on the Left are more likely to embrace life styles that
those on the Right would consider improper or even sinful. Those on the Right are more
likely to be church-going members of an organized religion. But these are not definitive
values, because there is a great deal of overlap. Republicans smoke pot. Democrats go to
church. Social or religious values cannot be included in any meaningful definition of these
Not one person in a thousand can clearly define the ideology that any of these words
represent. They are used, primarily, as labels to impart an aura of either goodness or
badness, depending on who uses the words and what emotions they trigger in their minds.
Most political debates sound like they originate at the tower of Babel. Everyone is speaking
a different language. The words may sound familiar, but speakers and listeners each have
their own private definitions.
It has been my experience that, once the definitions are commonly understood, most
of the disagreements come to an end. To the amazement of those who thought they were
bitter ideological opponents, they often find they are actually in basic agreement. So, to deal
with this word, collectivism, our first order of business is to throw out the garbage. If we are
to make sense of the political agendas that dominate our planet today, we must not allow our
thinking to be contaminated by the emotional load of the old vocabulary
It may surprise you to learn that most of the great political debates of our time - at
least in the Western world - can be divided into just two viewpoints. All of the rest is fluff.
Typically, they focus on whether or not a particular action should be taken; but the real
conflict is not about the merits of the action; it is about the principles, the ethical code that
justifies or forbids that action. It is a contest between the ethics of collectivism on the one
hand and individualism on the other. Those are words that have meaning, and they describe
a philosophical chasm that divides the entire Western world.1
The one thing that is common to both collectivists and individualists is that the vast
majority of them are well intentioned. They want the best life possible for their families, for
their countrymen, and for mankind. They want prosperity and justice for their fellow man.
Where they disagree is how to bring those things about.
I have studied collectivist literature for over fifty years; and, after a while, I realized
there were certain recurring themes, what I consider to be the five pillars of collectivism. If
they are turned upside down, they also are the five pillars of individualism. In other words,
there are five major concepts of social and political relationships; and, within each of them,
collectivists and individualists have opposite viewpoints.
1 In the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, there is a third ethic called theocracy, a form of government that
combines church and state and compels citizens to accept a particular religious doctrine. That was common throughouearly European Christendom and it appeared even in some of the colonies of the United States. It survives in today's world in the form of Islam and it has millions of advocates. Any comprehensive view of political ideology must include theocracy, but time does not permit such scope in this presentation. For those interested in the author's larger view,
including theocracy, there is a summary called Which Path for Mankind? attached to the end of this essay.
1. THE ORIGIN AND NATURE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The first of these has to do with the nature of human rights. Collectivists and
individualists both agree that human rights are important, but they differ over how important
compared to other values and especially over the origin of those rights.
Rights are not tangible entities that can be viewed or measured. They are abstract
concepts held in the human mind. They are whatever men agree they are at a given time and
place. Their nature has changed with the evolution of civilization. Today, they vary widely
from culture to culture. One culture may accept that rights are granted by rulers who derive
authority from God. Another culture may claim that rights are granted by God directly to the
people. In other cultures, rights are perceived as a claim to the material possessions of
others. People living in tribal or military dictatorships don't spend much time even thinking
about rights because they have no expectation of ever having them. Some primitive cultures
don't even have a word for rights.
Because of the great diversity in the concept of human rights, they cannot be defined
to everyone's satisfaction. However, that does not mean they cannot be defined to our
satisfaction. We do not have to insist that those in other cultures agree with us; but, if we
wish to live in a culture to our liking, one in which we have the optimum amount of
personal freedom, then we must be serious about a preferred definition of human rights. If
we have no concept of what rights should be, then it is likely we will live under a definition
not to our liking.
The first thing to understand as we work toward a useful definition of rights is that
their source determines their nature. This will be covered in greater detail further along, but
the concept needs to be stated here. If we can agree on the source of rights, then we will
have little difficulty agreeing on their nature. For example, if a security guard is hired by a
gated community to protect the property of its residents, the nature of the guard's activity
must be limited to the activities that the residents themselves are entitled to perform. That
means the guard may patrol the community and, if necessary, physically deter burglaries
and crimes of aggressive violence. But the guard is not authorized to compel the residents to
send their children to bed by 10 PM or donate to the Red Cross. Why not? Because the
residents are the source of the authority; the nature of the authority cannot include any act
that is denied to the source; and the residents have no right to compel their neighbors in
RIGHTS ARE BORN ON THE BATTLEFIELD
In societies that have been sheltered for many generations from war and revolution, it
is easy to forget that rights are derived from military power. That is their ultimate source.
Initially, rights must be earned on the battlefield. They may be handed to the next generation
as a gift, but they always are purchased on the battlefield. The Bill of Rights of the United
States Constitution is a classic example. The men who drafted that document were able to
do so only because they represented the colonists who defeated the armies of Great Britain.
Had they lost the War of Independence, they would have had no opportunity to write a Bill
of Rights or anything else except letters of farewell before their execution.
Unfortunately, Mao Zedong was right when he said that political power grows from
the barrel of a gun. He could just as well have said rights. A man may declare that he has a
right to do such and such derived from law or from a constitution or even from God; but, in
the presence of an enemy or a criminal or a tyrant with a gun to his head, he has no power to
exercise his proclaimed right. Rights are always based on power. If we lose our ability or
willingness to physically defend our rights, we will lose them.
Now we come to the chasm between collectivists and individualists. If rights are
earned on the battlefield, we may assume they belong to the winners, but who are they? Do
governments win wars or do the people? If governments win wars and people merely serve
them as in medieval times, then governments hold the rights and are entitled to grant or
deny them to the people. On the other hand, if people win wars and governments merely
serve them in this matter, then the people hold rights and are entitled to grant or deny them
to governments. If our task is to define rights as we think they should be in a free society,
we must choose between these two concepts. Individualists choose the concept that rights
come from the people and governments are the servants. Collectivists choose the concept
that rights come from governments and people are the servants. Individualists are nervous
about that assumption because, if the state has the power to grant rights, it also has the
power to take them away, and that concept is incompatible with personal liberty.
The view of individualism was expressed clearly in the United States Declaration of
Independence, which says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these
are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among men....
Nothing could be clearer than that. The dictionary tells us that inalienable (spelled
differently in colonial times) means "not to be transferred to another." The assumption is
that rights are the innate possession of the people. The purpose of government is, not to
grant rights, but to secure them and protect them.
By contrast, all collectivist political systems embrace the opposite view that rights
are granted by the state. That includes the Nazis, Fascists, and Communists. It is also a tenet
of the United Nations. Article Four of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, in the enjoyment of
those rights provided by the State ... the State may subject such rights only to such
limitations as are determined by law.
I repeat: If we accept that the state has the power to grant rights, then we must also
agree it has the power to take them away. Notice the wording of the UN Covenant. After
proclaiming that rights are provided by the state, it then says that those rights may be subject
to limitations "as are determined by law." In other words, the collectivists at the UN
presume to grant us our rights and, when they are ready to take them away, all they have to
do is pass a law authorizing it.
Compare that with the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. It says
Congress shall make no law restricting the rights of freedom of speech, or religion, peaceful
assembly, the right to bear arms, and so forth - not except as determined by law, but no law.
The Constitution embodies the ethic of individualism. The UN embodies the ethic of
collectivism, and what a difference that makes.
2. THE ORIGIN OF STATE POWER
The second concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with the
origin of state power. As stated previously, individualists believe that a just government
derives its power, not from conquest and subjugation, but from the people. That means the
state cannot have any legitimate powers unless they are given to it by its citizens. Another
way of putting it is that governments may do only those things that their citizens also have a
right to do. If individuals don't have the right to perform a certain act, then they can't grant
that power to their elected representatives. They can't delegate what they don't have. It
makes no matter how many of them there may be. If none of them have a specified power to
delegate, then a million of them don't have it either.
Let us use an extreme example. Let us assume that a ship has been sunk in a storm,
and three exhausted men are struggling for survival in the sea. Suddenly, they come upon a
life-buoy ring. The ring is designed only to keep one person afloat; but, with careful
cooperation between them, it can keep two of them afloat. However, when the third man
grasps the ring, it becomes useless, and all three, once again, are at the mercy of the sea.
They try taking turns: one treading while two hold on to the ring; but after a few hours, none
of them have strength to continue. The grim truth gradually becomes clear. Unless one of
them is cut loose from the group, all three will drown. What, then, should these men do?
Most people would say that two of the men would be justified in overpowering the
third and casting him off. The right of self-survival is paramount. Taking the life of another,
terrible as such an act would be, is morally justified if it is necessary to save your own life.
That certainly is true for individual action, but what about collective action? Where do two
men get the right to gang up on one man?
The collectivist answers that two men have a greater right to life because they
outnumber the third one. It's a question of mathematics: The greatest good for the greatest
number. That makes the group more important than the individual and it justifies two men
forcing one man away from the ring. There is a certain logic to this argument but, if we
further simplify the example, we will see that, although the action may be correct, it is
justified by the wrong reasoning.
Let us assume, now, that there are only two survivors - so we eliminate the concept
of the group - and let us also assume that the ring will support only one swimmer, not two.
Under these conditions, it would be similar to facing an enemy in battle. You must kill or be
killed. Only one can survive. We are dealing now with the competing right of self-survival
for each individual, and there is no mythological group to confuse the issue. Under this
extreme condition, it is clear that each person would have the right to do whatever he can to
preserve his own life, even if it leads to the death of another. Some may argue that it would
be better to sacrifice one's life for a stranger, but few would argue that not to do so would be
wrong. So, when the conditions are simplified to their barest essentials, we see that the right
to deny life to others comes from the individual's right to protect his own life. It does not
need the so-called group to ordain it.
In the original case of three survivors, the justification for denying life to one of them
does not come from a majority vote but from their individual and separate right of self-
survival. In other words, either of them, acting alone, would be justified in this action. They
are not empowered by the group. When we hire police to protect our community, we are
merely asking them to do what we, ourselves, have a right to do. Using physical force to
protect our lives, liberty, and property is a legitimate function of government, because that
power is derived from the people as individuals. It does not arise from the group.1
Here's one more example - a lot less extreme but far more typical of what actually
goes on every day in legislative bodies. If government officials decide one day that no one
should work on Sunday, and even assuming the community generally supports their
decision, where would they get the authority to use the police power of the state to enforce
such a decree? Individual citizens don't have the right to compel their neighbors not to
work, so they can't delegate that right to their government. Where, then, would the state get
the authority? The answer is that it would come from itself; it would be self-generated. It
would be similar to the divine right of ancient monarchies in which it was assumed that
governments represent the power and the will of God. In more modern times, most
governments don't even pretend to have God as their authority, they just rely on swat teams
and armies, and anyone who objects is eliminated.
When governments claim to derive their authority from any source other than the
governed, it always leads to the destruction of liberty. Preventing men from working on
Sunday would not seem to be a great threat to freedom, but once the principle is established,
it opens the door for more edicts, and more, and more until freedom is gone. If we accept
that the state or any group has the right to do things that individuals alone do not have the
right to do, then we have unwittingly endorsed the concept that rights are not intrinsic to the
individual and that they, in fact, do originate with the state. Once we accept that, we are on
the road to tyranny.
Collectivists are not concerned over such picky issues. They believe that
governments do, in fact, have powers that are greater than those of their citizens, and the
source of those powers, they say, is, not the individuals within society, but society itself, the
group to which individuals belong.
3. GROUP SUPREMACY
This is the third concept that divides collectivism from individualism. Collectivism is
based on the belief that the group is more important than the individual. According to this
view, the group is an entity of its own and it has rights of its own. Furthermore, those rights
are more important than individual rights. Therefore, it is acceptable to sacrifice individuals
if necessary for "the greater good of the greater number." How many times have we heard
that? Who can object to the loss of liberty if it is justified as necessary for the greater good
of society? The ultimate group, of course, is the state. Therefore, the state is more important
than individual citizens, and it is acceptable to sacrifice individuals, if necessary, for the
benefit of the state. This concept is at the heart of all modern totalitarian systems built on the
model of collectivism.
Individualists on the other hand say, "Wait a minute. Group? What is group? That's
just a word. You can't touch a group. You can't see a group. All you can touch and see are
individuals. The word group is an abstraction and doesn't exist as a tangible reality. It's like
the abstraction called forest. Forest doesn't exist. Only trees exist. Forest is the concept of
many trees. Likewise, the word group merely describes the abstract concept of many
individuals. Only individuals are real and, therefore, there is no such thing as group rights.
Only individuals have rights.
Just because there are many individuals in one group and only a few in another does
not give a higher priority to the individuals in the larger group - even if you call it the state.
A majority of voters do not have more rights than the minority. Rights are not derived from
the power of numbers. They do not come from the group. They are intrinsic with each
When someone argues that individuals must be sacrificed for the greater good of
society, what they are really saying is that some individuals are to be sacrificed for the
greater good of other individuals. The morality of collectivism is based on numbers.
Anything may be done so long as the number of people benefiting supposedly is greater
than the number of people being sacrificed. I say supposedly, because, in the real world,
those who decide who is to be sacrificed don't count fairly. Dictators always claim they
represent the greater good of the greater number but, in reality, they and their support
organizations usually comprise less than one percent of the population. The theory is that
someone has to speak for the masses and represent their best interest, because they are too
dumb to figure it out for themselves. So collectivist leaders, wise and virtuous as they are,
make the decisions for them. It is possible to explain any atrocity or injustice as a necessary
measure for the greater good of society. Modern totalitarians always parade as
Because individualists do not accept group supremacy, collectivists often portray
them as being selfish and insensitive to the needs of others. That theme is common in
schools today. If a child is not willing to go along with the group, he is criticized as being
socially disruptive and not a good "team player" or a good citizen. Those nice folks at the
tax-exempt foundations had a lot to do with that. But individualism is not based on ego. It is
based on principle. If you accept the premise that individuals may be sacrificed for the
group, you have made a huge mistake on two counts. First, individuals are the essence of the
group, which means the group is being sacrificed anyway, piece by piece. Secondly, the
underlying principle is deadly. Today, the individual being sacrificed may be unknown to
you or even someone you dislike. Tomorrow, it could be you. It takes but a moment's
reflection to realize that the greater good for the greater number is not achieved by
sacrificing individuals but by protecting individuals. In reality, the greater good for the
greater number is best served by individualism, not collectivism.
REPUBLICS VS DEMOCRACIES
We are dealing here with one of the reasons people make a distinction between
republics and democracies. In recent years, we have been taught to believe that a democracy
is the ideal form of government. Supposedly, that is what was created by the American
Constitution. But, if you read the documents and the speech transcripts of the men who
wrote the Constitution, you find that they spoke very poorly of democracy. They said in
plain words that a democracy was one of the worst possible forms of government. And so
they created what they called a republic. That is why the word democracy doesn't appear
anywhere in the Constitution; and, when Americans pledge allegiance to the flag, it's to the
republic for which it stands, not the democracy. When Colonel Davy Crockett joined the
Texas Revolution prior to the famous Battle of the Alamo, he refused to sign the oath of
allegiance to the future government of Texas until the wording was changed to the future
republican government of Texas.1 The reason this is important is that the difference between
a democracy and a republic is the difference between collectivism and individualism.
In a pure democracy, the majority rules; end of discussion. You might say, "What's
wrong with that?" Well, there could be plenty wrong with that. What about a lynch mob?
There is only one person with a dissenting vote, and he is the guy at the end of the rope.
That's pure democracy in action.
"Ah, wait a minute," you say. "The majority should rule. Yes, but not to the extent of
denying the rights of the minority," and, of course, you would be correct. That is precisely
what a republic accomplishes. A republic is a government based on the principle of limited
majority rule so that the minority - even a minority of one - will be protected from the
whims and passions of the majority. Republics are often characterized by written
constitutions that spell out the rules to make that possible. That was the function of the
American Bill of Rights, which is nothing more than a list of things the government may not
do. It says that Congress, even though it represents the majority, shall pass no law denying
the minority their rights to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly,
the right to bear arms, and other "unalienable" rights.
These limitations on majority rule are the essence of a republic, and they also are at
the core of the ideology called individualism. And so here is another major difference
between these two concepts: collectivism on the one hand, supporting any government
action so long as it can be said to be for the greater good of the greater number; and
individualism on the other hand, defending the rights of the minority against the passions
and greed of the majority.
4. COERCION VS FREEDOM
The fourth concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with
responsibilities and freedom of choice. We have spoken about the origin of rights, but there
is a similar issue involving the origin of responsibilities. Rights and responsibilities go
together. If you value the right to live your own life without others telling you what to do,
then you must assume the responsibility to be independent, to provide for yourself without
expecting others to take care of you. Rights and responsibilities are merely different sides of
the same coin.
If only individuals have rights, then it follows that only individuals have
responsibilities. If groups have rights, then groups also have responsibilities; and, therein,
lies one of the greatest ideological challenges of our modern age.
Individualists are champions of individual rights. Therefore, they accept the principle
of individual responsibility rather than group responsibility. They believe that everyone has
a personal and direct obligation to provide, first for himself and his family, and then for
others who may be in need. That does not mean they don't believe in helping each other.
Just because I am an individualist does not mean I have to move my piano alone. It just
means that I believe that moving it is my responsibility, not someone else's, and it's up to
me to organize the voluntary assistance of others.
The collectivist, on the other hand, declares that individuals are not personally
responsible for charity, for raising their own children, providing for aging parents, or even
providing for themselves. These are group obligations of the state. The individualist expects
to do it himself; the collectivist wants the government to do it for him: to provide
employment and health care, a minimum wage, food, education, and a decent place to live.
Collectivists are enamored by government. They worship government. They have a fixation
on government as the ultimate group mechanism to solve all problems.
Individualists do not share that faith. They see government as the creator of more
problems than it solves. They believe that freedom of choice will lead to the best solution of
social and economic problems. Millions of ideas and efforts, each subject to trial and error
and competition - in which the best solution becomes obvious by comparing its results to all
others - that process will produce results that are far superior to what can be achieved by a
group of politicians or a committee of so-called wise men.
By contrast, collectivists do not trust freedom. They are afraid of freedom. They are
convinced that freedom may be all right in small matters such as what color socks you want
to wear, but when it come to the important issues such as the money supply, banking
practices, investments, insurance programs, health care, education, and so on, freedom will
not work. These things, they say, simply must be controlled by the government. Otherwise
there would be chaos.
There are two reasons for the popularity of that concept. One is that most of us have
been educated in government schools, and that's what we were taught. The other reason is
that government is the one group that can legally force everyone to participate. It has the
power of taxation, backed by jails and force of arms to compel everyone to fall in line, and
that is a very appealing concept to the intellectual who pictures himself as a social engineer.
Collectivists say, "We must force people to do what we think they should do, because
they are too dumb to do it on their own. We, on the other hand, have been to school. We've
read books. We are informed. We are smarter than those people out there. If we leave it to
them, they are going to make terrible mistakes. So, it is up to us, the enlightened ones. We
shall decide on behalf of society and we shall enforce our decisions by law so no one has
any choice. That we should rule in this fashion is our obligation to mankind."
By contrast, individualists say, "We also think we are right and that the masses
seldom do what we think they should do, but we don't believe in forcing anyone to comply
with our will because, if we grant that principle, then others, representing larger groups than
our own, could compel us to act as they decree, and that would be the end of our freedom."
The affinity between intellectual egotism and coercion was dramatically
demonstrated by Canadian law professor, Alan Young, who wrote an editorial in the March
28, 2004 edition of the Toronto Star. His topic was "hate crimes," and his solution was a
classic example of the collectivist mindset. He wrote:
The defining feature of the hate criminal is stupidity. It is a crime born of
intellectual deficiency.... Criminal justice actually can do very little to combat
stupidity.... The hate criminal probably needs rigorous deprogramming....
Just as some cancers require invasive surgery, the hate crime needs intrusive
measures... The usual out-of-site, out-of-mind approach to modern punishment just
won't work in this case. For crimes of supreme stupidity we need Clockwork Orange
justice - strapping the hate criminal into a chair for an interminable period, and
keeping his eyes wide-open with metal clamps so he cannot escape from an
onslaught of cinematic imagery carefully designed to break his neurotic attachment
to self-induced intellectual impairment.
In the context of hate crime, I do have some regrets that we have a
constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.1
One of the quickest ways to spot a collectivist is to see how he reacts to public
problems. No matter what bothers him in his daily routine - whether it's littering the
highway, smoking in public, dressing indecently, bigotry, sending out junk mail - you name
it, his immediate response is "There ought to be a law!" And, of course, the professionals in
government who make a living from coercion are more than happy to cooperate. The
consequence is that government just keeps growing and growing. It's a one-way street.
Every year there are more and more laws and less and less freedom. Each law by itself
seems relatively benign, justified by some convenience or for the greater good of the greater
number, but the process continues forever until government is total and freedom is dead.
Bit-by-bit, the people, themselves, become the solicitor of their own enslavement.
THE ROBIN HOOD SYNDROME
A good example of this collectivist mindset is the use of government to perform acts
of charity. Most people believe that we all have a responsibility to help others in need if we
can, but what about those who disagree, those who couldn't care less about the needs of
others? Should they be allowed to be selfish while we are so generous? The collectivist sees
people like that as justification for the use of coercion, because the cause is so worthy. He
sees himself as a modern Robin Hood, stealing from the rich but giving to the poor. Of
course, not all of it gets to the poor. After all, Robin and his men have to eat and drink and
be merry, and that doesn't come cheap. It takes a giant bureaucracy to administer a public
charity, and the Robbing Hoods in government have become accustomed to a huge share of
the loot, while the peasants - well, they're grateful for whatever they get. They don't care
how much is consumed along the way. It was all stolen from someone else anyway.
The so-called charity of collectivism is a perversion of the Biblical story of the Good
Samaritan who stopped along the highway to help a stranger who had been robbed and
beaten. He even takes the victim to an inn and pays for his stay there until he recovers.
Everyone approves of such acts of compassion and charity, but what would we think if the
Samaritan had pointed his sword at the next traveler and threatened to kill him if he didn't
also help? If that had happened, I doubt if the story would have made it into the Bible;
because, at that point, the Samaritan would be no different than the original robber - who
also might have had a virtuous motive. For all we know, he could have claimed that he was
merely providing for his family and feeding his children. Most crimes are rationalized in
this fashion, but they are crimes nevertheless. When coercion enters, charity leaves.1
Individualists refuse to play this game. We expect everyone to be charitable, but we
also believe that a person should be free not to be charitable if he doesn't want to. If he
prefers to give to a different charity than the one we urge on him, if he prefers to give a
smaller amount that what we think he should, or if he prefers not to give at all, we believe
that we have no right to force him to our will. We may try to persuade him to do so; we may
appeal to his conscience; and especially we may show the way by our own good example;
but we reject any attempt to gang up on him, either by physically restraining him while we
remove the money from his pockets or by using the ballot box to pass laws that will take his
money through taxation. In either case, the principle is the same. It's called stealing.
Collectivists would have you believe that individualism is merely another word for
selfishness, because individualists oppose welfare and other forms of coercive re-
distribution of wealth, but just the opposite is true. Individualists advocate true charity,
which is the voluntary giving of their own money, while collectivists advocate the coercive
giving of other people's money; which, of course, is why it is so popular.
One more example: The collectivist will say, "I think everyone should wear seatbelts.
That just makes sense. People can be hurt if they don't wear seatbelts. So, let's pass a law
and require everyone to wear them. If they don't, we'll put those dummies in jail." The
individualist says, "I think everyone should wear seatbelts. People can be hurt in accidents if
they don't wear them, but I don't believe in forcing anyone to do so. I believe in convincing
them with logic and persuasion and good example, if I can, but I also believe in freedom of
One of the most popular slogans of Marxism is: "From each according to his ability,
to each according to his need." That's the cornerstone of theoretical socialism, and it is a
very appealing concept. A person hearing that slogan for the first time might say: "What's
wrong with that? Isn't that the essence of charity and compassion toward those in need?
What could possibly be wrong with giving according to your ability to others according to
their need?" And the answer is, nothing is wrong with it - as far as it goes, but it is an
incomplete concept. The unanswered question is how is this to be accomplished? Shall it be
in freedom or through coercion?
I mentioned earlier that collectivists and individualists usually agree on objectives
but disagree over means, and this is a classic example. The collectivist says, take it by force
of law. The individualist says, give it through free will. The collectivist says, not enough
people will respond unless they are forced. The individualist says, enough people will
respond to achieve the task. Besides, the preservation of freedom is also important. The
collectivist advocates legalized plunder in the name of a worthy cause, believing that the
end justifies the means. The individualist advocates free will and true charity, believing that
a worthy objective does not justify committing theft and surrendering freedom.
There is a story of a Bolshevik revolutionary who was standing on a soapbox
speaking to a small crowd in Times Square. After describing the glories of socialism and
communism, he said: "Come the revolution, everyone will eat peaches and cream." A little
old man at the back of the crown yelled out: "I don't like peaches and cream." The
Bolshevik thought about that for a moment and then replied: "Come the revolution,
comrade, you will like peaches and cream."
This, then, is the fourth difference between collectivism and individualism, and it is
perhaps the most fundamental of them all: collectivists believe in coercion; individualists
believe in freedom.
5. EQUALITY VS. INEQUALITY UNDER LAW
The fifth concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with the way
people are treated under the law. Individualists believe that no two people are exactly alike,
and each one is superior or inferior to others in many ways but, under law, they should all
be treated equally. Collectivists believe that the law should treat people unequally in order
to bring about desirable changes in society. They view the world as tragically imperfect.
They see poverty and suffering and injustice and they conclude that something must be done
to alter the forces that have produced these effects. They think of themselves as social
engineers who have the wisdom to restructure society to a more humane and logical order.
To do this, they must intervene in the affairs of men at all levels and redirect their activities
according to a master plan. That means they must redistribute wealth and use the police
power of the state to enforce prescribed behavior.
The consequence of this mindset can be seen everywhere in society today. Almost
every country in the world has a tax system designed to treat people unequally depending on
their income, their marital status, the number of children they have, their age, and the type
of investments they may have. The purpose of this arrangement is to redistribute wealth,
which means to favor some classes over others. In some cases, there are bizarre loopholes
written into the tax laws just to favor one corporation or one politically influential group.
Other laws provide tax-exemption and subsidies to favored groups or corporations.
Inequality is the whole purpose of these laws.
In the realm of social relationships, there are laws to establish racial quotas, gender
quotas, affirmative-action initiatives, and to prohibit expressions of opinion that may be
objectionable to some group or to the master planners. In all of these measures, there is an
unequal application of the law based on what group or class you happen to be in or on what
opinion you hold. We are told that all of this is necessary to accomplish a desirable change
in society. Yet, after more than a hundred years of social engineering, there is not one place
on the globe where collectivists can point with pride and show where their master plan has
actually worked as they predicted. There have been many books written about the
collectivist utopia, but they never materialized in the real world. Wherever collectivism has
been applied, the results have been more poverty than before, more suffering than before,
and certainly more injustice than before.
There is a better way. Individualism is based on the premise that all citizens should
be equal under law, regardless of their national origin, race, religion, gender, education,
economic status, life style, or political opinion. No class should be given preferential
treatment, regardless of the merit or popularity of its cause. To favor one class over another
is not equality under law.
6. PROPER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
When all of these factors are considered together, we come to the sixth ideological
division between collectivism and individualism. Collectivists believe that the proper role of
government should be positive, that the state should take the initiative in all aspects of the
affairs of men, that it should be aggressive, lead, and provide. It should be the great
organizer of society.
Individualists believe that the proper function of government is negative and
defensive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for
some, it must also be able to take from others, and once that power is granted, there are
those who will seek it for their advantage. It always leads to legalized plunder and loss of
freedom. If government is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it is also
powerful enough to take from us everything we have.
Therefore, the proper function of government is to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens; nothing more.1
1 The related question of a right to use deadly force to protect the lives of others is reviewed in Part Four in connection
with the White House order to shoot down hijacked airliners if they pose a threat to ground populations.
1 "David Crockett: Parliamentarian," by William Reed, National Parliamentarian, Vol. 64, Third Quarter, 2003, p. 30.
1 "Hate Criminal Needs Deprogramming," by Alan Young, Toronto Star, March 28, 2004, p. F7.
1 Let's be clear on this. If we or our families really were starving, most of us would steal if that were the only way to
obtain food. It would be motivated by our intrinsic right to life, but let's not call it virtuous charity. It would be raw
1 There is a third category of human action that is neither proper nor improper, neither defensive nor aggressive; activity
that may be undertaken by the state for convenience - such as building roads and maintaining recreational parks -
provided they are funded, not from general taxes, but by those who use them. Otherwise, some would benefit at the
expense of others, and that would be coercive re-distribution of wealth. These activities would be permissible because
they have a negligible impact on freedom. I am convinced they would be more efficiently run and offer better public
service if owned and operated by private industry, but there is no merit in being argumentative on that question when
much more burning issues are at stake. After freedom is secure, we will have the luxury to debate these finer points.
Another example of an optional activity is the allocation of broadcast frequencies to radio and TV stations. Although
this does not protect lives, liberty, or property, it is a matter of convenience to orderly communications. There is no
threat to personal freedom so long as the authority to grant licenses is administered impartially and does not favor one
class of citizens or one point of view over another. Another example of an optional government activity would be a law
in Hawaii to prevent the importation of snakes. Most Hawaiians want such a law for their convenience. This is not a
proper function of government because it does not protect the lives, liberty, or property of its citizens, but it is not
improper either so long as it is administered so that the cost is borne equally by all. It could be argued that this is a
proper function of government, because snakes could threaten domestic animals that are the property of its citizens, but
that would be stretching the point. It is this kind of stretching of reason that demagogues use when they want to
consolidate power. Almost any government action could be rationalized as an indirect protection of life, liberty, or
property. The defense against word games of this kind is to stand firm against funding in any way that causes a shift of
wealth from one group to another. That strips away the political advantage that motivates most of the collectivist
schemes in the first place. Without the possibility of legalized plunder, most of the brain games will cease. Finally,
when issues become murky, and it really is impossible to clearly see if an action is acceptable for government, there is
always a rule of thumb that can be relied on to show the proper way: That government is best which governs least.
THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM
We hear a lot today about right-wingers versus left-wingers, but what do those terms
really mean? For example, we are told that communists and socialists are at the extreme
left, and the Nazis and Fascists are on the extreme right. Here we have the image of two
powerful ideological adversaries pitted against each other, and the impression is that,
somehow, they are opposites. But, what is the difference? They are not opposites at all.
They are the same. The insignias may be different, but when you analyze communism and
Nazism, they both embody the principles of socialism. Communists make no bones about
socialism being their ideal, and the Nazi movement in Germany was actually called the
National Socialist Party. Communists believe in international socialism, whereas Nazis
advocate national socialism. Communists promote class hatred and class conflict to
motivate the loyalty and blind obedience of their followers, whereas the Nazis use race
conflict and race hatred to accomplish the same objective. Other than that, there is no
difference between communism and Nazism. They are both the epitome of collectivism, and
yet we are told they are, supposedly, at opposite ends of the spectrum!
In the United States and most European countries there is a mirage of two political
parties supposedly opposing each other, one on the Right and the other on the Left. Yet,
when we get past the party slogans and rhetoric, we find that the leaders of both parties
support all the principles of collectivism that we have outlined. Indeed, they represent a
right wing and a left wing, but they are two wings of the same ugly bird called collectivism.
A true choice for freedom will not be found with either of them.
There's only one thing that makes sense in constructing a political spectrum and that
is to put zero government at one end of the line and 100% at the other. Now we have
something we can comprehend. Those who believe in zero government are the anarchists,
and those who believe in total government are the totalitarians. With that definition, we find
that communism and Nazism are together at the same end. They are both totalitarian. Why?
Because they are both based on the model of collectivism. Communism, Nazism, Fascism
and socialism all gravitate toward bigger and bigger government, because that is the logical
extension of their common ideology. Under collectivism, all problems are the responsibility
of the state and must be solved by the state. The more problems there are, the more powerful
the state must become. Once you get on that slippery slope, there is no place to stop until
you reach all the way to the end of the scale, which is total government. Regardless of what
name you give it, regardless of how you re-label it to make it seem new or different,
collectivism is totalitarianism.
Actually, the straight-line concept of a political spectrum is somewhat misleading. It is
really a circle. You can take that straight line with 100% government at one end and zero at
the other, bend it around, and touch the ends at the top. Now it's a circle because, under
anarchy, where there is no government, you have absolute rule by those with the biggest
fists and the most powerful weapons. So, you jump from zero government to totalitarianism
in a flash. They meet at the top. We are really dealing with a circle, and the only logical
place for us to be is somewhere in the middle of the extremes. We need social and political
organization, of course, but it must be built on individualism, an ideology with an affinity to
that part of the spectrum with the least amount of government possible instead of
collectivism with an affinity to the other end of the spectrum with the most amount of
government possible. That government is best which governs least.
Now, we are ready to re-activate our time machine. The last images still linger before
us. We still see the directors of the great tax-exempt foundations applying their vast
financial resources to alter the attitudes of the American people so they will accept the
merger of their nation with totalitarian regimes; and we still hear their words proclaiming
that "the future of this country belongs to collectivism, administered with characteristic
American efficiency." It's amazing, isn't it, how much is contained in that one little word:
- End of Part One -
INTRODUCTION TO THE CREED OF FREEDOM
There is nothing more common in history than for oppressed people to rise up against
their masters and, at great cost in treasure and blood, throw off the old regime only to
discover that they have replaced it with one that is just as bad or worse. That is because it is
easy to know what we dislike about a political system but not so easy to agree on what
would be better. For most of history, it has been the habit of men to focus on personalities
rather than principles. They have thought that the problem was with the man who rules, not
with the system that sustains him. So, they merely replace one despot for another, thinking
that, somehow, the new one will be more wise and benevolent. Even if the new ruler has
good intentions, he may be corrupted by the temptations of power; and, in those rare cases
where he is not, he eventually is replaced by another who is not as self-restrained. As long
as the system allows it, it is just a matter of time before a new despot will rise to power. To
prevent that from happening, it is necessary to focus on the system itself, not on
personalities. To do that, it is just as important to know what we are for as it is to know what
we are against.
Even today, with so much talk about fighting to defend freedom, who can stand up
and define what that means? For some, freedom means merely not being in jail. Who can
define the essence of personal liberty? Who can look you in the eye and say: "This I believe,
and I believe it for this reason and this reason and this reason also." The world is dying for
something to believe in, a statement of principles that leaves no room for misunderstanding;
a creed that everyone of good faith toward their fellow human beings can accept with clarity
of mind and strength of resolve. There is an old saying that if you don't stand for something,
you'll fall for anything. The Creed of Freedom that you are about to read is the rock-solid
ground that will allow us to stand firm against all the political nostrums of our day, and
those in the future as well.
The Creed of Freedom expresses the core ideology that binds the members of
Freedom Force together. This is not like the platform of a political party that typically is a
position statement on a long list of specific issues and which changes from year to year to
accommodate the shifting winds of popular opinion. Instead, it is stated in terms of broad
principles that do not change over time and that are not focused on specific issues at all. If
these principles are followed, then most of the vexing political and social issues of the day
can be quickly resolved in confidence that the resulting action will be consistent with justice
Although I have authored the Creed, I cannot claim credit for it. Anyone familiar
with the classical treatises on freedom will recognize that most of its concepts have been
taken from the great thinkers and writers of the past. My role has been merely to read the
literature, identify the concepts, organize them into logical sequence, and condense them
into a single page.
THE CREED OF FREEDOM
INTRINSIC NATURE OF RIGHTS
I believe that only individuals have rights, not the collective group; that these rights
are intrinsic to each individual, not granted by the state; for if the state has the power to
grant them, it also has the power to deny them, and that is incompatible with personal
I believe that a just state derives its power solely from its citizens. Therefore, the
state must never presume to do anything beyond what individual citizens also have the right
to do. Otherwise, the state is a power unto itself and becomes the master instead of the
servant of society.
SUPREMACY OF THE INDIVIDUAL
I believe that one of the greatest threats to freedom is to allow any group, no matter
its numeric superiority, to deny the rights of the minority; and that one of the primary
functions of a just state is to protect each individual from the greed and passion of the
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
I believe that desirable social and economic objectives are better achieved by
voluntary action than by coercion of law. I believe that social tranquility and brotherhood
are better achieved by tolerance, persuasion, and the power of good example than by
coercion of law. I believe that those in need are better served by charity, which is the giving
of one's own money, than by welfare, which is the giving of other people's money through
coercion of law.
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
I believe that all citizens should be equal under law, regardless of their national
origin, race, religion, gender, education, economic status, life style, or political opinion.
Likewise, no class should be given preferential treatment, regardless of the merit or
popularity of its cause. To favor one class over another is not equality under law.
PROPER ROLE OF THE STATE
I believe that the proper role of the state is negative, not positive; defensive, not
aggressive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for
some, it must also be able to take from others, and once that power is granted, there are
those who will seek it for their advantage. It always leads to legalized plunder and loss of
freedom. If the state is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it is also powerful
enough to take from us everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of the state is to
protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens; nothing more. That state is best which
THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM
The Creed of Freedom is based on five principles. However, in day-to-day application, they
can be reduced to just three general codes of conduct. I consider them to be The Three
Commandments of Freedom:
Do not sacrifice the rights of any individual or minority for the assumed rights of the
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
Do not endorse any law that does not apply to all citizens equally.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Do not use coercion for any purpose except to protect human life, liberty, or
THE THREE PILLARS OF FREEDOM
Another way of viewing these principles is to
consider them as the three pillars of freedom.
They are concepts that underlie the ideology of
individualism, and individualism is the
indispensable foundation of freedom.
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