Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Ernesto Guevara and Andrei Taganov

Posted by Jerry on February 19, 2007

In a discussion of Ernesto Guevara the other day, my mind drew parallel’s between Guevara and the character of Andrei Taganov (a communist leader in Ayn Rand’s We The Living). I admit I know practically nothing about Guevara. However, from what I hear, it appears that he was the kind of misguided man of principles that Taganov is in Rand’s novel.

Andrei Taganov is a strong, almost heroic man of integrity and principle. In We The Living, Rand uses his character to depict an admirable man who fights for what he believes to be the right principles, but who tragically crumbles under his own guilt when he realizes that all his life was spent defending an evil ideal.

Perhaps, Guevara does not deserve such sympathetic speculation; perhaps, he knew exactly all the concrete ramifications of his communist ideals and pursued it precisely for those reasons. Perhaps, he did intend to eliminate the concept of private property, to forcefully institute the equal redistribution of wealth, to codify altruism–the sacrifice of one’s happiness for another’s–into state law, to take from each according to his ability and give to each according to his need, to suppress the individual under the rule of the collective.

There is no one else who can better grasp the sanctity of ownership than a man who produces. A producer is not primarily after reward or payment as the goal of his creation–although that is his legitimate right and just demand. The producer’s goal is to create for the selfish desire to see his work in reality, to concretize the abstractions of his mind, to affirm the competence of his reason, and to earn the right to be proud. A producer simply needs the freedom to work as he pleases, to create whatever he believes is a value, to own the product of his mind and work, and to trade his work freely with other men in exchange for values. A producer seeks to have these freedoms guaranteed and asks for the security to pursue these activities without interference or force.

This is a simple framework, and a system that guarantees this framework of freedom for a human being is the only one that truly cares for the well-being of each and every human being. When one realizes that wealth has to be created before it can be looted or distributed, then one comes to realize the tremendous importance for securing the rights and freedom of every human being to own the products of his creations.

The great irony of communism, which even Marx was acutely aware of, is that it realizes its own impotency in creating wealth and relies on capitalism for its very origin and survival. Marx knew that a capitalist society was an absolute necessity for wealth-creation. He knew that capitalists, industry barons, and wealth producers were indispensable because along with their own enrichment, these producers drag along the entire society with them and improve the standard of living across the board. Thus, Marx needed a capitalist society full of producers, which could then be overthrown in a revolution of the incompetent masses.

In one sense, Communism is an ideal championed by moochers, an anthem for the impotent, and it embodies the hatred of the good for being the good.

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