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The American Creed

Ayn Rand wrote a short nineteen page paper asking: What is the basic issue facing the world today?

Rand, in her paper makes the case that, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” Rand defines these two principles as follows:

  • Individualism – Each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
  • Collectivism – Each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.
dean alfange

Dean Alfange

I recently came across a credo written by Dean Alfange on entrepreneurship. The creed originally appeared in This Week Magazine, and a condensed version appeared in Reader’s Digest in both the October 1952 and January 1954 issues. The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge gave Alfange an award for the composition in 1952. Here is what Alfange wrote:

“I do not choose to be a common man,
It is my right to be uncommon … if I can,
I seek opportunity … not security.
I do not wish to be a kept citizen.
Humbled and dulled by having the
State look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk;
To dream and to build.
To fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole;
I prefer the challenges of life
To the guaranteed existence;
The thrill of fulfillment
To the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence
Nor my dignity for a handout
I will never cower before any master
Nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect.
Proud and unafraid;
To think and act for myself,
To enjoy the benefit of my creations
And to face the world boldly and say:
This, with God’s help, I have done
All this is what it means
To be an Entrepreneur.”

Many are concerned that America has become anything but entrepreneurial and that government has grown to such a point as to make America anything but exceptional. There are growing concerns that individualism is losing ground to collectivism. That the American dream is being lost one government program at a time.

May I say that the naysayers are wrong. America will remain preeminent so long as it is guided by principled men and women who have character.

In her paper Rand wrote:

A great many people today hold the childish notion that society can do anything it pleases; that principles are unnecessary, rights are only an illusion and expediency is the practical guide to action.

It is true that society can abandon moral principles and turn itself into a herd running amuck to destruction. Just as it is true that a man can cut his own throat any time he chooses. But a man cannot do this if he wishes to survive. And society cannot abandon moral principles if it expects to exist.

While we are witnessing herds in places like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, the greater part of America is peaceful and not cutting their own throats.  America will survive despite the efforts of those who wish to commit social suicide.