A Journal for Western Man




Identification: Friend or Foe?

Michael Miller

Issue LVIII- May 19, 2006


Friendly fire is a hazard in war. Few things are more ruinous than killing your own troops with your own fire. Hence the need of IFF–Identification, Friend or Foe. 

The same is true in politics. We need accurate IFF to avoid strafing our allies, and aiding our enemies. In politics, the IFF system is moral theory. It singles out the foe, against whom allied efforts must be directed. 

The religious right desperately needs to fix its IFF. 

Today’s basic political conflict is right versus left. The left favors government power at the expense of individual rights, opposes rewards and punishments, and denies that men can and should rely on themselves. The right favors individual rights, rewards and punishments, and individual responsibility. 

The moral issue underlying right vs. left is egoism vs. nihilism.1. Nihilism is radical rejection of self-interest. Since every good is someone’s interest, nihilism is radical rejection of the good. Rejection of the good lies behind the left’s rejection of rights, justice, and responsibility. Egoism (admitted or not) lies behind the right’s defense of them. 

The religious right have not identified the enemy. They hurl anathemas against selfishness, or “selfism.” They endorse sacrifice of the good as a virtue. That is, they strafe their allies on the right, while recruiting for the enemy on the left. 

They may be content to blast their allies, but are they also content to blitz their own headquarters? On their premises, God is good. So on the premise of egoism men should seek God. But on the premise of anti-selfishness men should reject Him; they should sacrifice that Good. 

This might seem like a far-fetched play on words, except for one thing: leftist, modernist, establishment religion does exactly that! How else to explain such modern phenomena as Christianity without Christ, theology without God, and clergymen who crusade for formal approval of immorality? 

Religious leftists cannot be dismissed as unbelievers; unbelievers would not devote their lives to religion as “mainstream” religious moderns do. No, they are a uniquely modern plague: believers crusading for unbelief, moralists crusading for immorality. They are nihilist believers and nihilist moralists. Every blast against selfishness promotes their cause. 

Egoism is usually taken to mean pursuit of this-worldly good. But it is really a generic term; it means pursuit of any good, of whatever one regards as the good. Different forms of egoism propose different goods. The religious right proposes (among other goods) supernatural goods. 

The religious right is religious egoism. This is not as revolutionary as it sounds. It merely puts into modern terms what medievals took for granted. In effect, religious rightists are the heirs of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who based his (medieval) system of morality on each individual’s pursuit of his own good. 

Thomas’s system typifies traditional religious morality—justifying such virtues as wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance as practical means by which each man seeks his own natural good, and such virtues as faith, hope, and charity as supernatural means to his own supernatural good. In modern terms, this approach is through and through egoistic. 

The religious right may love the Middle Ages, but in moral theory they are tame disciples of the modernism they loathe. The root of that modernism is an anti-selfishness which the better medievals would instantly blast as destructive of all morality. And so it is. 

Egoism may be a bitter pill for the religious right, but they must swallow it. Between generic egoism and nihilism there is no middle ground. Either you uphold the morality of pursuing some good, or you reject pursuit of all good. 

Either defect to the nihilist camp, or stop bombing your own position with denunciations of selfishness.

1. See QP #9 and QP #10, for accounts of nihilism. 


You needn’t despair at the religious right's failure to identify the enemy—you can become a Quackgrass activist! Copy this article! Keep the original for future copies. Paper meetings with it! Paper your office! Leave a stack on your business counter! If you expect hostility, use stealth and cunning—it’ll drive your opponents wild! Be ingenious! Have fun! 

Michael Miller is an engineer and Objectivist filosofer with thirty years of experience. He had been a member of Boycott Alberta Medicare in 1969 and of the Association to Defend Property Rights from 1973 on. He writes in-depth filosofical theory at his publication, Quackgrass Press, which can be accessed at http://www.quackgrass.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.