“The soul…can’t be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it- and the man is yours. You won’t need a whip-he’ll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse- and his own mechanism will do your work for you.
Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity…Kill integrity by internal corruption. Use it against itself. Direct it toward a goal destructive of all integrity. Preach selflessness. Tell man that he must live for others. Tell men that altruism is the ideal. Not a single one of them has ever achieved it and not a single one ever will. His every living instinct screams against it…Man realizes that he’s incapable of what he’s accepted as the noblest virtue- and it gives him a sense of guilt, of sin, of his own basic unworthiness. Since the supreme ideal is beyond his grasp, he gives up eventually all ideals, all aspiration, all sense of his personal value.”
-Ayn Rand; The Fountainhead
For a perfect example of this principle in action, you don’t have to look far. Well, you probably don’t even have to look outside of the room you’re in or the street you’re on; most people have come to accept some version of this attitude and live by it. But for an obvious, screaming, can’t-be-ignored living example of this, look no further than 3555 Harney Street, at the offices of Warren E. Buffett.
Warren Buffett has experienced tremendous success through his ability to foresee outcomes and recognize greatness and integrity in others. Some say Buffett got rich through luck, or through no work of his own, but that’s simply untrue. While Buffett does maintain a team of investors today that do the majority of his work for him, he accumulated his first millions through long hours of dedicated labor.
Anyone with a sense of self-worth and personal integrity would be proud of these achievements. The man of self-worth would show through example how to achieve success, and attempt to inspire others to reach the same heights as he. Instead, Buffett preaches the injustice of his success, viewing it as a damnable offense to society.
“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.”
“[The wealthy] have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”
Besides showing an ignorance of and disdain for our armed forces, typical of liberal plutocrats, these statements reveal Buffett’s “sense of guilt, of sin, of his own basic unworthiness.” Only those who believe in the unworthiness of all of us “get serious about shared sacrifice.” Those of us who believe in the principled spirit of mankind, the spirit that gave us the power to fly, the power to walk on water, the power to create the wonders of the world, the towers, the symphonies, the sculptures; the power to be prophets and shapers of our own destinies and futures, those of us who understand that THIS is the essence of mankind, would never preach the value of “shared sacrifice.” We would preach the value of shared success, of our human ability to elevate ourselves out of a pitiable position and into one of honor and fulfillment, such as Mr. Buffett. A man with integrity would be proud of an achievement such as Mr. Buffett has achieved.
Rather than pitying those who are “below” him, Buffett should encourage and teach. Rather than giving away his integrity (his money-the tangibility of his ethic and success) to various charities and others he pities and berating Mitch McConnell for not doing the same, Buffett should seek to use his wealth to give the foundation and structure of his success to others who are capable yet have not the opportunity. Rather than pity, a man of integrity should feel exalted and optimistic that if he can achieve this kind of success, so can others. Pity is the most disrespectful feeling one man can have for another.
“…pity- this complete awareness of a man without worth or hope, this sense of finality, of the not to be redeemed. There was shame in this feeling- his own shame that he should have to pronounce such judgment upon a man, that he should know an emotion which contained no shred of respect.
This is pity, he thought, and he lifted his head in wonder. He thought that there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue.”
-Ayn Rand; The Fountainhead