The "Common Good" is No Good
People often invoke this mistaken social goal just before perpetrating some horrific injustice or act of tyranny. And just after this depravity, the miscreants and unprincipled evil-doers often claim "the ends justify the means."
Such is the nature of this dreadful societal ideal. The result of such false and evil beliefs is internecine competition, civil war, destruction of the brotherhood of man, and a universal breakdown of society.
However little it's currently understood or acknowledged, the fact is the Sacred Self is "the one true god." Or, at the least, he is potentially a demi-god.
In any civilized culture or society, the personal comes before the social, and the Individual before the collective. Thus the only legitimate socio-economic goal and political ideal ideal is always "the Individual good" or "the Individual interest" or "the good of the Individual."
This is the only moral standard which generates the proper ordering of society. And once enacted -- nothing could be more civilizationally magnificent or universally beneficial.
In any virtuous world, the group or the collective -- including close relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and coworkers -- necessarily comes second. Or even last, or not at all. This is because the Individual is all. The totality of society and civilization should always be bent to his benefit, prosperity, happiness, and triumph.
The obvious part here is -- or should be -- that everyone is an Individual. And the almost-obvious point is that moral individualism or egoism is not anti-social or socially destructive. In fact, it's just the oppossite.
No society or civilization is more benevolent, sociable, and friendly than an individualist one. This was shown by the Anglo-Saxon nations of the 1800s with all of their volunteerist organizations, and respect for women and ethnic minorities. Dividing man against man, and favoring one group over another -- which is what "the common good" fundamentally, secretly means -- is a recipe for social disaster.
Of course, the right-wing philosophy of "god" and country, and the left-wing philosophy of socialism and the collective, both reject ethical individualism and the Individual good. They openly reject egoism, and selfish happiness. Conservatives and progressives are basically Hobbesian "war of all against all" ignoramuses and monsters who favor a greater "good" partially based on sincere belief, and partially as a sham and scam to advance their evil ideological agenda, whether monotheism or welfare-statism or both.
Still, in some senses -- and depending on what you mean -- one can argue that "the greater/common/collective good" is actually and truly a good ideal. But only if it's interpreted individualistically, such as "liberty and justice for all" (i.e. for all individuals equally). But historically this is not how these phrases have been used. They've always been interpreted as a compromise on full self-interest, or a balancing of hostile interests, as between a majority and a minority. And this last means nothing less than a war between them!
Ultimately, nothing in human existence is more vulnerable and precious -- more in need of protection and cherishment -- than the human Individual. Certainly not some supernatural god or collectivist mob. In every halfway decent society the Holy Individual -- his freedom, flourishing, happiness, and centrality of existence -- should be promoted above all else!
Kyrel Zantonavitch is the founder of The Liberal Institute (http://www.liberalinstitute.com/) and a writer for Rebirth of Reason (http://www.rebirthofreason.com). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.