The American founders created the greatest country on earth. The United States is the only country in history based on the principle of individual rights—the idea that each individual’s life belongs to him (the right to life), that he should be free to act in accordance with his judgment (liberty), to pursue the goals and values of his choice (pursuit of happiness), to keep and use the product of his effort (property), and to express his ideas regardless of what anyone thinks or feels about them (freedom of speech).
Although America initially permitted slavery to continue, Americans increasingly recognized that it violated the principle of individual rights and ultimately fought a bloody civil war to abolish it. The power of this principle was remarkable. Over time, it helped more and more Americans to see that black people, women, homosexuals, and people of all stripes have the same rights and that the government should protect everyone’s rights equally.
Granted, the rights of Americans—especially industrialists, business owners, and the wealthy—are not fully recognized or protected today. Antitrust laws, licensing laws, capital gains taxes, coercively funded government schools, and many other violations of rights remain in play. But even with these problems, America, relative to the rest of the world, is a beacon of freedom and opportunity.
Some people don’t like this fact. Today—even as foreigners paddle makeshift rafts through shark-infested waters to come to America—so-called “social justice warriors,” pushers of “critical race theory,” and others on the ever-worsening political left claim that the United States is fundamentally unjust, systemically racist, and evil because capitalist. . . .
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1. Another reason is that government schools and “progressive” education have rendered many Americans ignorant of history. But that’s a subject for another day.
2. Jeremy Bentham, quoted in Sidney Hook, The Paradoxes of Freedom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962), 8; Pannomial Fragments, Chap. 3, https://www.laits.utexas.edu/poltheory/bentham/pannomial/pannomial.c03.html.
3. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 2nd ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 69.
4. See Ayn Rand’s essay, “Man’s Rights,” in The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet, 1964); see also my article, “Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society,” The Objective Standard, 6, no. 3 (Fall 2011).
5. All such force involves related and less direct consequences, too, but the point here is that force comes in degrees.
6. Rand, “Racism,” in The Virtue of Selfishness, 147.
7. Ayn Rand, “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business,” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet, 1967), 61.
8. For Rand’s proof of life as the standard of value, see “The Objectivist Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness. See also my essay, “Secular, Objective Morality: Look and See,” The Objective Standard, 12, no. 2 (Summer 2017).
9. See Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics.”
10. Ayn Rand, “This is John Galt Speaking,” in For the New Intellectual (New York: Signet, 1961), 126.
11. Rand, “The Soul of an Individualist,” in For the New Intellectual, 78–79.
12. See Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (New York: Meridian, 1993), 292.
13. Rand, “The Meaning of Money,” in For the New Intellectual, 94. Americans may not have created the phrase “to make money.” The phrase “make money” (sans the “to”) appears twice in Shakespeare’s Othello. But the context and meaning there were entirely different.
14. Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” 34–35.
15. See Peikoff, Objectivism, 276.
16. Rand, “How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society,” in The Virtue of Selfishness, 82.
17. See Peikoff, Objectivism, 259.
19. “Giving USA 2021: In a year of unprecedented events and challenges, charitable giving reached a record $471.44 billion in 2020,” June 15, 2021, https://philanthropynetwork.org/news/giving-usa-2021-year-unprecedented-events-and-challenges-charitable-giving-reached-record-47144; CAF World Giving Index, 10th ed., October, 2019, https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-publications/caf_wgi_10th_edition_report_2712a_web_101019.pdf.
20. Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A, edited by Robert Mayhew (New York: New American Library, 2005), 47.