இது ஒரு பர்சனல் பதிவு. அட்லஸ் ஷ்ரக்ட் புத்தகத்தை விட அந்தப் புத்தகம் என் மேல் ஏற்படுத்திய தாக்கத்தைப் பற்றித்தான் எழுதப் போகிறேன்.
கல்லூரி காலத்தில் நான் ஒரு voracious வாசகன். அப்போதெல்லாம் படிப்பதும் நண்பர்களுடன் சுற்றுவதும் சினிமா பார்ப்பதும் மட்டுமே வாழ்க்கை. எது கிடைத்தாலும் படிப்பேன். த்ரில்லர்கள், பி.ஜி. உட்ஹவுஸ், கிளாசிக்குகள் (டிக்கன்ஸ், ஹ்யூகோ, ஜேன் ஆஸ்டன், ஹெமிங்க்வே, மார்க்வெஸ், பெர்னார்ட் ஷா, ஆர்தர் மில்லர், பிரெக்ட் இத்யாதி) துப்பறியும் கதைகள், விஞ்ஞானக் கதைகள் என்று பலப் பல genre-கள் அறிமுகம் ஆகிக் கொண்டிருந்த நாட்கள் அவை. அப்போது படித்தவைதான் ஃபௌண்டன்ஹெட்டும், அட்லஸ் ஷ்ரக்டும்.
ஃபௌண்டன்ஹெட் கூட பெரிய தாகத்தை ஏற்படுத்தவில்லை. அட்லஸ் ஷ்ரக்ட் நேராக முகத்தில் அறைந்தது. காரணம் அட்லஸ் ஷ்ராக்டில் மு.வ. பாணியில் எய்ன் ராண்ட் பாடமே நடத்தி இருப்பதுதான். அந்த வயதில் அது தேவைதான் என்று நினைக்கிறேன்.
சின்ன வயதிலிருந்து எனக்கு மீண்டும் மீண்டும் பல விதங்களில் நேரடியாகவும் மறைமுகமாகவும் சொல்லப்பட்டிருந்த மெசேஜ் ஒன்று உண்டு. சுயநலம் தவறு; அடுத்தவர்களின் விருப்பு வெறுப்புக்கு உன் விருப்பு வெறுப்புகளை விட அதிக முக்கியத்துவம் கொடு. எல்லா பணக்காரன்களும் அயோக்கியன்கள். நேர்மையாக எவனும் பணம் சம்பாதித்தது இல்லை. ஏழைகள்தான் அன்பு நிறைந்தவர்கள். Money is the root of all evil. பார்த்த சினிமாக்களில் எல்லாம் சிவாஜியோ ஜெமினியோ யாரோ ஒருவர் வந்து “நீ பணக்காரன், உனக்கு அன்பு எல்லாம் புரியாது” என்று சொல்லிக் கொண்டே இருப்பார். பணமா பாசமா என்றுதான் சினிமா பேரே இருக்கும். நீதிக் கதைகள் எல்லாம் தியாகத்தைத்தான் புகழும். பணத்துக்கு, புகழுக்கு ஆசைப்படுபவர்கள் எப்போதும் தோற்பார்கள். நமக்கோ கடைசி பிஸ்கட்டை தங்கைக்குக் கொடுக்காமல் நாமே சாப்பிட வேண்டும் என்று இருக்கும். சாப்பிட்டால் குற்ற உணர்ச்சி, விட்டுக் கொடுத்தால் பிஸ்கட் போச்சு.
அட்லஸ் ஷ்ரக்ட் எனக்கு வேறு ஒரு கோணத்தை காட்டியது. சாதனை ஒன்றே வாழ்க்கையின் அர்த்தம் என்று சொன்னது. பணம் என்பது சாதனையின் by-product என்று ஒரு கருத்தை வற்புறுத்தியது. அடுத்தவர்களுக்காக நம்மை பலி கொடுக்க வேண்டிய அவசியம் இல்லை என்று தெளிவுபடுத்தியது. உலகம் மேதைகளால் முன்னே கொண்டு போகப்படுகிறது, எல்லாரும் மேதைகள் இல்லை என்று வெளிப்படையாகச் சொன்னது. core values கூட சமரசம் என்பது வீழ்ச்சிக்கு வழி என்று காட்டியது. அது என் வாழ்க்கையின் அந்த காலகட்டத்தில் குற்ற உணர்ச்சியைப் போக்கி என்னை சுதந்திர மனிதனாக உணர வைத்தது.
அட்லஸ் ஷ்ரக்ட் முழுமையான வாழ்க்கை முறை இல்லை என்பது எனக்கு அப்போதும் தெரிந்தது. மனிதர்கள் எப்போதும் ஒரே நிலையில் இருப்பதில்லை, தளர்ச்சி, சோர்வு போன்ற உணர்ச்சிகளே இல்லாமல் செயல்படும் மனிதர்களை எய்ன் ராண்டின் புத்தகங்களில் மட்டும்தான் காண முடியும், வாழ்க்கை ராண்ட் சொல்லும் அளவுக்கு கறுப்பு வெள்ளை இல்லை, அப்படியே வைத்துக் கொண்டாலும் பணக்கார வீட்டுப் பிள்ளைகளுக்கு மட்டும் இருக்கும் advantages நியாயப்படுத்த முடியாத நிலை , கம்யூனிசம்/சோஷலிசம் சிறு குழுக்களில் வெற்றிகரமாக செயல்படுவது (செவ்விந்தியர்கள், பழங்குடிகள், நண்பர் குழுக்கள், கூட்டுக் குடும்பங்கள் இத்யாதி) என்று பல குறைகள் தெரிந்தன. ஆனால் பல குறைகள் இருந்தாலும் இருக்கும் இசங்களில் எய்ன் ராண்ட் சொல்லும் laissez-faire காபிடலிசமே சிறந்த இசம் என்று அன்று தோன்றியது. அந்த எண்ணம் இன்னும் மாறவில்லை.
கட்டாயம் படிக்க வேண்டிய புத்தகம். 1957-இல் வெளியானது. பதின்ம வயதுகளிலேயே படித்தால் இன்னும் நல்லது. ஆனால் நான் வளர்ந்த சூழ்நிலை இன்று தமிழ் நாட்டில் கூட கிடையாது என்று நினைக்கிறேன். அதனால் இன்றைய இளைஞர்களிடம் குறைவான தாக்கத்தை ஏற்படுத்தலாம்.
புத்தகத்தில் இரண்டு இடங்களில் ஜான் கால்ட்டும் ஃபிரான்சிஸ்கோவும் சொற்பொழிவு ஆற்றுகிறார்கள். அதுவும் கால்ட் 50-60 பக்கங்களுக்கு பேசுவார். மூன்று பக்க ஃபிரான்சிஸ்கோ சொற்பொழிவை கீழே தந்திருக்கிறேன். புத்தகத்தை படித்ததில்லை என்றாலும் இதையாவது கொஞ்சம் தம் கட்டி படியுங்கள், you won’t regret it!
“So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Anconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor–your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?
Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions–and you’ll learn that man’s mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.
But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made–before it can be looted or mooched–made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.
To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss–the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery–that you must offer them values, not wounds–that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade–with reason, not force, as their final arbiter–it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability–and the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?
But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality–the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.
Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?
Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth–the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?
Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men’s vices or men’s stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment’s or a penny’s worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you’ll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?
Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?
Or did you say it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It’s the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money–and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.
Let me give you a tip on a clue to men’s characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.
Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another–their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.
But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich–will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt–and of his life, as he deserves.
Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard–the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money–the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law–men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims–then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.
Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.
Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked, ‘Account overdrawn.’
When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, ‘Who is destroying the world?’ You are.
You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it’s crumbling around you, while you’re damning its life-blood–money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men’s history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves–slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody’s mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer, Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers–as industrialists.
To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money–and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man’s mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being–the self-made man–the American industrialist.
If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity–to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.
Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters’ continents. Now the looters’ credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide–as, I think, he will.
Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns–or dollars. Take your choice–there is no other–and your time is running out.”