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Buechner Excerpt: Collectivism Causes Terrorism

The following excerpt is from an article by M. Northrup Buechner in the October 1981 issue of The Objectivist Forum, entitled "The Root of Terrorism." In the article, Buechner explains how collectivist ideologies lead to terrorism.

Terrorism is the attempt by private gangs to scare a population into social change by wanton violence and murder. Evil on that scale occurs only as the result of powerful social-ideological forces. [...]

In surveying the terrorist gangs around the globe, one fact cries out for notice that is never noticed. Without exception, the terrorists are collectivists. [...]

By the nature of man and reality, the sacrifice of the individual to some higher good is the only principle that will justify the murder of innocent men. Given that base, it is a detail whether the higher good is Irish home rule, a Palestinian homeland, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the return of the Shah, or whatever.

The collectivist does not see murder as murder. [...] [C]ollectivists think nothing of slaughtering individuals, by the tens and hundreds when they are out of power, by the millions when they control the state.

The essence of the collectivist ideal is the sacrifice of the individual to the collective. A society of sacrifice is the goal in theory, and in reality, as it is actually practiced, collectivism is the sacrifice, the destruction, the murder of individual human beings.

Any plain thug who mindlessly brushes aside the rights of others can find a moral sanction in collectivism. [...] [Collectivism] turns violators of individual rights into cultural heroes.

Morally self-righteous criminals -- that is the essence of the collectivist soul. The terrorist is its most consistent expression.

However, most terrorists are not just criminals who have seized upon collectivism to justify a pre-existing desire for murder. The evil of collectivism goes much deeper than that. Collectivism not only sanctions terrorists, it creates them. They spring from the philosophical and psychological debris of sacrifice, sacrifice that collectivism not only sanctions, but requires.

Omissions from the text are shown with bracketed ellipses. All other punctuation and spelling is from the original.


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