Words speak louder than actions

Ayn Rand wrote,

There is nothing so naïve as cynicism. A cynic is one who believes that men are innately depraved, that irrationality and cowardice are their basic characteristics, that fear is the most potent of human incentives—and, therefore, that the most practical method of dealing with men is to count on their stupidity, appeal to their knavery, and keep them in constant terror.

The corollary is: there is nothing so practical and realistic as moral integrity. There is nothing so powerful as principled, uncompromising moral judgment.

That’s why the world’s unusually forceful condemnation of Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine may lead to his downfall. And why rather than emboldening Xi, the morally righteous damnation of the invasion seems already to be throwing Xi into retreat-mode.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Putin’s invasion. More important were the condemnations from private American firms like Apple, Shell Oil, Boeing, ExxonMobil, and Netflix, to name a few.

Words speak louder than actions. This reversal of the traditional saying follows from the understanding that men’s actions are dictated by the ideas they hold. The traditional order—actions speak louder than words—is valid, but its application is to judging what ideas actually drive an individual. If he says, “We should do X” but secretly does Y instead, we know his actual belief is that Y is more important than X.

But on a national scale, what counts is not the judgment of any given person’s honesty and sincerity, but the evaluation of the actions and the identification of its premises.

No dictator can stay in power once he loses a moral sanction. If a man like Putin comes to be viewed as evil by the people he is trying to rule, he is lucky to elude the guillotine.

Monetary sanctions mean little. Moral sanction means everything. And I’m referring to moral judgment that is clear, rational, and convincing. That isn’t hard in the present case of a bloody, murdering, ex-KGB man who runs a giant slave pen.