Every week there are technological breakthroughs and innovations in crucial fields of production, such as computers and medicine. But you’d never know it reading the headlines of most major news outlets. Even where productiveness is covered to some extent, for example, in technology news, new products and innovations are taken for granted as the given.
The articles in these pages are in part an attempt to remedy that: all touch on productiveness from various angles. Let us consider here what “productiveness” is.
One often hears the environmentalist mantra that production is a process by which man defiles pure nature and is therefore bad. The truth is the exact opposite: production is the process by which man reshapes nature in accordance with his values and is therefore good.
Every human value is produced, brought into existence by a thoughtful, purposeful rearrangement of various natural elements. Before someone produces something, there is just raw matter–after someone does so, there is a new value, something good for his life.
Production is the way a thinking being survives. No other animals need to produce; their nourishment and/or shelter exist ready-made in nature. But man needs to produce food and shelter–and medicine, and computers, and airplanes, and films, and luxuries yet to be imagined and tools to overcome obstacles yet to be encountered–in order to live a fully human existence, in comfort and happiness.
Living in a division of labor society does not change the fact that we need to produce our values. What it gives us is the ability to specialize, to spend our time producing superior goods, better values, which can be traded for more of the same. Everyone benefits from this arrangement, even–nay, especially when companies “get rich off the sick.” (See “The Pharmaceutical Industry.”)
Values are values no matter where they are produced. It makes no difference if we can trade our efforts for a car made in Japan or a car made in America (see “‘Buy American’ is Un-American”). It makes no difference if the producer is born in America or in Mexico (see “The Double Injustice of Immigration Restrictions” [print edition only]).
Production does not just keep a man physically equipped to live, but also keeps him spiritually integrated. A life-long focus on a particular kind of production–a career–is what allows one to organize one’s values and to build one’s personal identity and self-esteem, and thus form friendships and find romance. (See “The Real Purpose-Driven Life” and “Sex and the Suburbs.”)
The reason that productiveness is underappreciated, misunderstood, and rejected is because of moral codes that reject the importance of life on earth. If one’s main concern is living long and well, then productiveness is a major moral virtue. Productiveness over the course of a lifetime demands the best within a person: ambitiousness, endurance, vision, courage. Its consistent practice leads to a mastery over oneself and nature, and thus health, benevolence, playfulness, and an ever-better life on earth. (See “Google Versus The Pope.”)
Those who would ignore the virtue of productiveness cripple our ability to live, be they environmentalists, the Vatican, or run-of-the-mill government regulators. (See “The FDA.”) Objectivism holds that producers should not be taken for granted, but revered, encouraged, and emulated.
Ned Chalmers will be starting graduate work in philosophy in the fall.