What exactly is the common good?

Who Stole The Common Good?
The Shadow of Ayn Rand

by Julian Edney

"...It's the shared benefit people get from being in a group. If you're on a soccer team you cooperate to share the thrill of winning. Special rewards are possible. Another: two people are just two people. But if a friendship grows, the two people are a tiny collective. They work together and share a common outlook. Trust grows, they support each other, later there may grow an unspoken sense of obligation to each other, and so big things become possible. More examples: ships' crews, marriages, business partnerships, military units, countries; each involves a "with" or an "us." In a nation that has a common good, everybody mucks in together, and society takes care of its own."

"...Ayn Rand's ideology was that force. Ayn Rand was a public flamboyant who wrote, lectured, and harangued from the 1940s to the 1970s. She mounted vaulting attacks on the common good. Her point: that "mutual obligation" stuff robs you of your personal freedom. To get ahead, she argued, you have to break the bonds of obligation. Selfishness is actually virtue. Altruism toward the less able, she said, is a vice. If you have real talent you should avoid groups, teams, and organizations. You should work on solo flight, not stopping to help average people who are hopelessly mired in conformity. Her two novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, have heroes who are pioneering, productive loners. And a free market, she argues, needs such heroes; because it is a dog-eat-dog world in which people with excellence propel themselves to the top and do more good for their nation in their selfishness than all the welfare and social programs can. Welfare programs just perpetuate mediocrity."

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