Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Ayn Rand II, Getting Serious Now

with 15 comments

I didn’t find the time last night to finish the dedicated post I was writing, having a life does sometimes interfere with blogging. I know, I should be ashamed of myself, what kind of blogger has a life? Although apparently the fact that I don’t think Ayn Rand is second only to Jesus means I not only don’t have a life, I’m not even entitled to have an opinion about Ayn Rand. Fortunately as I understand objectivism, I don’t need to give a rat’s ass about what other people think unless needed to attain my goals in life. So moving right along, this point is a quick off-the-cuff response to some of the points raised in my last post. I should note that I deliberately took a middle of the road stance on Ayn Rand, because I figured that would draw out comments from both sides of the aisle. And no doubt the post succeeded as intended in that regard. Moving right along, in no particular order, my responses to some of the issues raised in the comments to the last post.

The USA a nanny state? Well, unless you’re a Wall Street Banker, Oil industry CEO, or weapons manufacturer, the USA is not a nanny state, it’s a die cold, hungry, and sick in the street state. Compared to every other industrialized state, we spend a pittance on caring for the sick and the poor. The idea that welfare queens and the like are sucking the country dry is propaganda from the rich.  The last three decades has seen the largest deregulation and the largest upwards transfer of wealth in history in the USA, this is the opposite of a nanny state. Blaming the poor and the sick for our problems, well, maybe that is what objectivism preaches, some certainly would claim that. Objectivism may promote self-reliance, I have no problem with that, but it’s the elite that need to become self-reliant, they are the parasites now, not the poor.

Second most influential book after the Bible? Well, the Bible was the book that Europe used to justify the conquest, enslavement, and genocide of the rest of the world. Other influential books in history include Mein Kampf, The Little Red Book, and The Communist Manifesto. Saying that Atlas Shrugged is the second most influential book in history isn’t saying much. I’m curious as to who it influenced and what they did, then maybe it being an influential book counts for something.

I damned Ayn Rand with faint praise, I did not “talk shit” about her. I may though, I wasn’t terribly impressed with some of the comments defending her. Although this one proved one point in spades:

From someone who read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ decades ago you decide to talk shit about something people take VERY SERIOUSLY. Read ‘The Fountainhead’ or ‘We the Living’… Unlike YOUR writing (as entertaining as it can be) Ayn Rand wrote from real experience– oppression in Soviet Russia, moving to the United States and witnessing all of the potential and evil of Capitalism, socialism, and altruism. You can disagree with her ideas, but it would be appropriate if you knew about what you are critical of. By the way, Atlas Shrugged has been called the 2nd most influential book after the Bible…

One of the best benchmarks that a ideology has achieved cult status is that followers of the ideology are absolutely convinced that they have the answer, and can brook no criticism of their ideology. My criticism of Ayn Rand was tepid at best, and I took care not to attack followers of her ideology, and I straight out admitted that my understanding of her philosophy was superficial. How, exactly, is that offensive? It’s my blog and I will express my opinions on any topic I please. If the gentle reader doesn’t like said opinions, by all means present me with rational agreements as to why I am wrong. If the gentle reader wants to castigate me for simply expressing said opinions, they aren’t helping their case. This comment makes me seriously consider the possibility that Objectivism is a cult, was that the commenter’s intent? Damned if I know, no actual arguments were made in the comment.

I did not get that Objectivism preaches selfishness as the highest form of virtue. It preaches enlightened self interest, but it’s for the individual to determine what that interest is. While Ayn Rand’s philosophies have most certainly been used by some to justify sociopath class selfishness at the expense of everyone else, so have numerous other philosophies.

And that’s that. I’d say no doubt this post will also inspire some comments, but I’ve been a remarkably poor predictor of that so I don’t know. I will close with one final observation. One thing I have gotten from Ayn Rand is the realization that this blog is my calling and how I am trying to make the world a better place, and I don’t need to give a fig about anyone who would discourage me. A blogger for peace, reason, sanity, anti-war, and anti-cultism … deal with it. And lastly and maybe most importantly, humour. Laugh with me, laugh at me, so long as people are laughing there’s hope for the species.

(The above image is by the author, all rights reserved. Credit and copyright: Doug Stych © 2012. That’s Lord SnowBee. He also has many strong opinions about life, which he expresses loudly and regularly. I’ll post a You-Tube video some day. What does this image have to do with the topic of the blog? Good question.)

Written by unitedcats

February 15, 2012 at 9:52 am

15 Responses

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  1. I want to share my observations of Ayn Rand and Atlus Shrugged but I find that at this moment my contempt for her writing and philosophy leave me without the dignified words I would like to use. I will try to summon an observation that sounds rational and post it soon.

    Lee A Whittaker

    February 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

  2. She only wrote a book called “The Virtue of Selfishness”, Doug. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Virtue_of_Selfishness

    Maria

    February 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

  3. And even if you take her self-serving definition of “selfishness” at face value – that is, selfishness = “concern with one’s own interests,” it still makes for a horrific mess of a society.

    Maria

    February 15, 2012 at 10:19 am

  4. Oh boy… The second I get done doing what I’m doing I’ll write more, but I must apologize for using profanity- a crude way to get a point across. Apologies, K.

    Steve

    February 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

  5. The term Nanny State as I intended it was not to attack support of the poor at all, it was in reference to the State telling individuals how to live and then tilting of the game board twards the corporations.

    A classic example is the recent FDA raids and prosecution of Amish farmers of whole milk.. yet that same government subsidizes tobacco growing corporations !

    I don’t think objectivism excludes charity at all. Those Amish dairymen are John Galt. They take care of their own communities too.

    John Galt

    February 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

  6. I actually had a debate about objectivism with someone today. Their argument was that it really was a great philosophy ‘in theory’.

    Exactly. See, from what I understand, objectivism is about supporting one’s self and one’s self alone. That way, if everyone follows, no one will need help. Who’s to say? It might work at first, but the thing about humans is that we’re lazy. A lot of us don’t want to work so what do we do when others won’t help? Steal. Which puts the victims in the exact place the thieves are, and so the cycle continues. Also, some people are going to want more power, which will lead to everyone separating into political groups, which in turn will lead to dictators with support, which will lead to separate countries, which will start wars, which will…well, we’re just repeating history, aren’t we?

    Sure, it’s a decent philosophy ‘in theory’, but isn’t communism as well? Democracy? Monarchy? All great in theory, until we discover that, well, people don’t agree on anything, hardly. With communism, the lack of rich and poor cause a lack of jobs. With democracy, the popular vote always wins, but sometimes the popular vote gets us in trouble because it isn’t the smartest vote, with monarchy…well, you get the idea.

    Really, what I’m saying is that almost every philosophy will work when you assume people are going to behave a specific way, but when you assume…you know how the saying goes.

    Just my thoughts on what I know of objectivism, which is basically the main idea.

    eightyfivefour

    February 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    • Awesome, I agree with ya 80-5-4. Seems like an extreme opposite of communism, both would work in theory but in real life… mehh…
      ———————
      “A blogger for peace, reason, sanity, anti-war, and anti-cultism … deal with it.”

      Hahaaha nice!

      pyrodin

      February 15, 2012 at 7:31 pm

  7. What country are you talking about when it comes to nanny state for the rich? They don’t need it precicely because of what you said about wealth transfer… You are all over the place but first thing I want to say is that I’m not even an Objectivist… Yes I admire the heroic tenets of the philosophy, but think the whole selfishness thing is stupid. Maybe it was a mistranslation. Self reliance is a scary thing to people- judging from the number of negative posts.
    The thing I fing so amusing about blogs like this is that everyone has an opinion, and everyone knows their opinion is absolutely correct… Thats not the funny thing, thats a fact of life with most people– the funny thing is that most people have never been out of the country to see how other societies live– they base opinions on television, the internet and hearsay…
    Go to Central or South America and tell me Objectivism is bad. Go see what happens when people have to be selfish to survive… Be strong enough to say ” I don’t have enough information to give you an answer…”. Naah, that wouldnt be fun… I want all you experts to tell me why objectivism– or any philosophy– is good or bad based on YOUR OWN OBSERVATIONS…

    Steve

    February 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm

  8. It’s my blog and I will express my opinions on any topic I please.

    Amen.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I read both Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead in HS (the late 70’s if you must know) and found them interesting to the point that I still think about them now and again, thirty years later. I recently watched that interview with Dan Rather and that was a bizarre experience – and truth be told I found I lost respect for her writings after listening to her in B&W reality. Maybe it was all the ciggerettes.

    And then last weekend I had a chance to listen to the John Gault letter(?) read aloud via the Tragedy & Hope podcast and again – I had to re-evaluate what it was a felt and thought. Capitalism and parasites don’t mix but does that mean one or the other has to go or are there other potentials?

    Pondering is not a bad thing and for me her writing does force a certain rumination.

    dana

    February 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

  9. If only we had real capitalism. In real capitalism bankers who made bad bets would loose their wealth, instead of being made whole by the public through their political cronies. We have crony-capitalism, maybe its even fascism, or certainly corporatism.
    This is what Galt railed against.. not so much the government per se, but the abuse through government to serve previously embedded special interests.

    It is rational to reject these kinds of abuses. And its not selfish to protect oneself either. Going Galt is gaining momentum as reform within the allowed ‘political process’ is now impossible IMHO. You will be out-spent, out ‘spun’, and repainted by forces with more money and influence. Its easy to see how Objectivism got traction in light of this reality.

    John Galt

    February 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm

  10. Its a crime against humanity when a woman on welfare claims a non-existiant kid, and she goes to jail even if she repays what she stole from the state. But its just an Oops when Lockheed double bills the state for a C-130. They repay the state by not (maybe not) over billing in the future. In 2008 a lady teller wanted to borrow 7500 dollars for her Dad’s Funeral. No Dice. So she stole the Cash, was caught and went to jail for her crime. At the same time the companies big wigs were having a seminar at a motel on the beach in California, while “we the people”were bailing them out. Modest motel, golf course on the ground and just $500 a night for a room and up to $1500 a night for a suite. More than I’ve ever made in a week. I wonder what its life to have that much dough. I can’t talk, I accepted a year long vacation overseas, all expenses paid by the USA. Yep a whole year in Sunny northern part of what was South Vietnam, the festivaties of Tet “68 at Phu Bai….with the First Air Cav crewing Chinooks.

    Wade O Kane

    February 15, 2012 at 10:27 pm

  11. Hey my stepson is a door gunner on a Chinook in dirk-dirkistan… Only 5 days left for his rotation… It really speaks of crony capitalism ( thank you John Galt) when a company like Boeing can make a piece of shit that was OBSOLETE the 1st day it was made (Chinook the size of a greyhound bus and about as fast– NVA & Viet Cong used to blow em out of the sky with RPG-7 and AKs, PKMs, DsHKS forty five years ago. Fast foward to today- Taliban and Al Qada STILL using RPG-7, AKs, PKMs, DsHKS and now Grail rockets. We lose a bird Boeing gotta replace it, but what about the poor kids inside?
    Tragic… We shouldnt be there. Military trying to replace the Communist threat of the 50s and 60s (overblown at best, but a huge windfall for UTX and the rest of Defense Industry) with these sorry dust rats … Watch what happens in Iran- they’ll get THE BOMB (granted a tiny primitive ineffecient bomb, but atomic nonetheless) and next thing you know we’ll be in an ARMS RACE again… Heady times indeed for that industry.

    Steve

    February 16, 2012 at 6:29 am

  12. Sigh. Objectivism is a philosophy–an entire philosophy (I’m a professional philosopher who has taught at C.U.N.Y and U Texas/Austin among other places).

    There’s a metaphysics (theory of the nature of existence), a richly worked out epistemology (on which I’m just completing a book) with an original solution to the age-old “problem of universals,” a theory of meta-ethics with a solution to Hume’s “is”-“ought” dichotomy plus a new theory of free will as the choice to focus one’s mind or not, a virtue-ethics with discussion of the virtues of rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride (not your father’s list of virtues), a politics based on completely new theory of the justification of individual rights, a philosophy of art with a new concept of what art is, what its function, psychologically is, and what the Romantic School of art is based on.

    Why not look into her _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_? Or, if you want something more sound-bite-like, my earlier book, _The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z_ is a free reference source on line at aynrandlexicon.com I culled her best passages on some 400 topics in philosophy and cognate fields, from A (Abortion) to Z (Zero, Reification of).

    Oh, and the guy who told you Objectivism is good in theory (but not in practice) should really read up a bit on the Objectivist analysis of the theory-practice dichotomy.

    hbinswanger

    February 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    • Thanks for your comment, I always appreciate it when expert opinion weighs in on a topic. Especially a topic that my understanding of is superficial at best.

      unitedcats

      February 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm


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