Ayn Rand Secretly Took Government Money and Health Care

Comments

1
Typical.

I do enjoy the irrational Rand hatred/worship that pervades our culture. People get their titties in an uproar over her silly belief system because they can't seem to take into account the context of the time it was written and her personal experience growing up in the Soviet Union. On the other hand,if you think Objectivism is a legitimate way to live your life you clearly have a screw lose.

I must admit, I think We the Living is a fantastic read. If people ignore it because of some prejudice they are missing out.
2
Classic conservative. When it's theoretical for me, I tell you what to do! When it's real for me... oh just this one exception.

See also: rather normal (read: high) levels of abortion amongst pro-lifers.
3
When somebody tells you right up front that acting in their own self interest is the central tenet of their philosophy, you can't act too surprised when it is revealed to be the only tenet of their philosophy.
4
What an epic cunt! And to all her followers a big FUCK YOU!
5
What does ex-intern-what's-his-face think about this?
6
Of course she did.

All libertarians are, by definition, tax-subsidized hypocrites.
7
@1 People get "their titties in an uproar over her silly belief system" because we still have to fight that silly belief system. The most influential Randian in the congress currently isn't weird Ron or Rand Paul, it's Paul Ryan. Ryan has taken the mantle of the "serious" Republican in the media as opposed to the wacko tea partiers. Even Obama speaks of him respectfully.

After the State of the Union, Michelle Bachmann looked demented and wore too much makeup, just delivering the same old standard Republican talking points. What a crazy bitch whore! Ryan was the one using the Objectivist/Randian jargon and ideas: killing Medicare and Social Security, more taxes on working people, no taxes on the wealthy, no corporate regulation. Uses Ireland's crash as an example of excessive European government even though the country was following the policies Ryan endorses. But he looked "normal", so no criticism.
8
Ryan looked "at the camera", so no criticism.
9
@1 - i'm totally with you. growing up in a conservative evangelical house, everything we did we did "for the lord." the concept of doing something for its own sake - because it was good - was revolutionary to me. and i loved her for it (plus, you know, she was an incredible author) even as a 17 year old it was pretty clear that Objectivism as portrayed by rand was neither attainable nor desirable. but rand portrayed an IDEAL - which she was very clear about. she was talking about what her perfect world would look like. people who take rand seriously in this regard are exactly the same as people who take the old testament seriously.
10
I'm glad we live in a society that continues and will continue to help those in need, even those who disagree.

It's called being bigger.
11
My day has been made! Well, that and it being Friday and Comeback tonight.
12
@9,

That woman lauded a man who murdered a 12-year-old girl for fun and who was too stupid not to get caught. She was a sociopath.

@1,

Life under the Soviet Union would convince most right-thinking people that communism isn't all it's cracked up to be. Only a deranged mind would conclude that the Soviet Union's exact opposite in theory (although exact equal in causing human suffering) is the best of all possible systems.
13
@3- Spot on.

@9- Did you know Ayn Rand kept a cable of followers around herself who consulted her on all major decisions, including dating and marriage? She was a cult leader. She thought that IDEAL could be made real, provided everyone just did whatever she told them to.

@10- A noble heart embiggens the smallest society.
14
Do as I say, not as I do
15
the Boing links to HuffPo as its source, so I looked for it from another site as well - looks like this person did a lot more actual research and found the same thing:
http://www.patiastephens.com/2010/12/05/…

followup post:
http://www.patiastephens.com/2011/01/27/…
16
#13 - are you sure you don't mean "cabal"?
17
@5 I believe Intern was more of a passive-aggressive Anarchist than an Objectivist Libertarian
18
@16- No, she was way ahead of the human centipede thing.

Of course I meant cabal. Thanks for pointing out my error.
19
@16 it's way more fun if it's a cable.

I keep those in my bottom drawer, next to the cabal sweaters.
20
As I recall, Rand also thought the science saying smoking caused cancer was a hoax and didn't she die of lung cancer?
21
American consrvatives practice smash-and-grab economics. They believe that they are due whatever they can get their hands on, but no one else should have it as well. They are all hypocrites about so-called entilement programs; they decry them for others, yet feel entitled to them for themselves.
22

So, according to your logic, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn loved the Gulag Archipelago because he ate the food at Lubyanka.
23
It's kind of hard for me to laugh much at the completely deluded, who tend to get themselves tied up in massive tangles of ideology.
24
@21 Exactly! They are the least moral segment of society. Now they want to privatize medicare. Which, of course, means they want to turn over the keys to the cash box to the insatiable insurance industry full of crooks.
25
@24 wait until they get their hands on social security and loot that ...
26
@20: Not only did she smoke heavily, she celebrated it in her novels. She spoke of smoking cigarettes as "taming fire"--as if smoking were some Promethian accomplishment. Then when she suffered the obvious (objective, scientific) results of her irrational beliefs, she relied on government (i.e., the rest of us pathetic slaves to irrational altruisim) to bail her out. Not surprising. Nor is it surprising that this same greed/self-absorption permeates the Republican Party. What's surprising is that a single person believes in it.
27
@9
"(plus, you know, she was an incredible author)"

Oh, please. Even at 15, I had enough taste to skip "John Galt is Speaking." blah, blah, blah... I had never encountered an author so in love w/ her unreadable prose, and I still haven't (although that guy who's daughter bought him a week on Slog comes close.)

If that's your opinion of Rand, then read the "Cetology" chapter in _Moby Dick_ every day for the next year. At least Melville had the excuse of having to get paid by the word.

28
@17: No I believe said intern was a precious snowflake with a year of CC poli sci under his belt. Within two years he'll be teabagging.
29
@18 - Dude. Making me hold Ayn Rand and the Human Centipede in the same brainspace at once was not okay.
30
@29- I keep them in the same file in my brain. The "Why?" file.
31
I always say this when Ayn comes up, but I think it's really true: If she had had a decent editor, she could have been a fine romance novelist. I really enjoyed "The Fountainhead" once I learned to skip over the pages of dull lectures by Roark and others.

I tried the same thing with "Atlas Shrugged", but it was a bit heavy handed for my taste.
32
Well, well, well. Look at the pot calling the kettle black.

@Catalina

Atlas Shrugged had excellent potential. However Ayn never can fully developed her characters, so she is a failure in that sense. If the reader can't keep their interest in the your main character then don't bother writing your book.
33
Bad things happening to bad people. Feels good man.
34
Ayn's a stupid cunt. Has been since she wrote her cunty stories and since she insisted her fucktoy was her spare "lover" and got all offended when he grew a mind of his own.

Rush, Ayn, Newt - y'all need to shove your own dicks down your throats 'till you choke.
35
@34 Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.
36
@31, 32: I've got some good commentary on that book.
37
Rand would be a joke if she wasn't so influential. Alan Greenspan was one of her adherents, and the blind faith in the benevolence of rich people he learned from Rand led to the 2008 financial collapse.

Of course Rand is full of shit, and of course she is a hypocrite. Her beliefs are obviously stupid. They wouldn't make people so mad if they weren't used as an excuse to avoid thinking seriously about economics.
38
This is in line with their politics. They against government involvement, however if the government does so in a way that benefits them they're ready to be first in line. None of us are different....
39
@32 yeah, that was the problem with atlas shrugged. character development.

(sigh)
40
@38 The fact that some of us are not as spoiled and self deluded as Rand is why we have progressives.
41
If I may play devil's advocate: Rand believed that individuals may collect benefits from the illegitimate welfare state so long so long as they advocated against them. For example, a university student could receive an arts scholarship from the government, even if he wished for the government to stop awarding scholarship money altogether. Think of it this way: The student is going to be taxed anyway, so he might as well collect what benefits he can, even if the "good" of those benefits does not make up for the "wrong" of having his money taken from him in taxes. Thus, Rand could have collected Social Security even if she wished for the system to be abolished. As for the allegation that she did this in secret, I cannot speculate to her possible mindset or reasoning. (I'm not saying whether I agree or disagree with her, just trying to defend a misunderstood philosophy.)
42
Ayn Rand's ideas are like crack cocaine for a certain variety of adolescent, who needs desperately to be told "You're better than everyone else, they're just jealous and don't understand what a tortured genius you are." Fortunately, most people eventually outgrow this phase.

So I can take Ayn Rand worship from the precious-snowflake Poli Sci majors detailed above. But anyone over 30 who is still reading Rand? I'm afraid they are lost to sane society.
43
So....all those pacifists will not call the cops next time someone breaks into their house to rape them? After all, the cops will use force to prevent the crime.

All those latte-sipping liberals driving BMWs will forswear such nice things until every (fist into palm) has the health care they need?

Etc.
44
@43 You're just like Rand. You use fiction to support your opinions because reality contradicts them.
45
1. Miss Rand's legal name was Ann O'Connor. (Her birth name was Anna Rosenbaum.)
2. She never said that one should not accept help. (Anyone who's read her work knows this.) She did say that no one should be obligated against their will to help another, and that no one was *entitled* to help. Her SS assistance came from taxes she paid on her writings' earnings.
3. I get tired of the slamming of the woman's writing that comes from people who have never read anything she'd written. No one would listen to a word of criticism from someone who railed against Frost or Pushkin *and* admitted they'd never cracked a book by either one of them.
46
@givesgoodemail - now now, you know none of these people want to be presented with logic or facts. They are just tryign to pile on someone who threatens their entitlements :)
47
@45-46: Sorry boys, but I have indeed read Miss Rand as part of my Read the Books People Talk About But Never Read Project. They are badly written romance novels, all about the Great Dark Man she wishes would sweep her off her feet. The fact that by her own behavior she quite neatly demonstrated her "philosophy" to be untenable is delicious.
48
@36 Here's a more in-depth analysis.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert…
49
@47 You've clearly never read any of her nonfiction and clearly just did not understand the fiction.To say that the 1000+ pages of Atlas Shrugged are devoted to nothing more than the "Great Dark Man" you speak of is incredibly disingenuous.

Newsflash people, the fact that Rand accepted government assistance to help treat her lung cancer in no way, shape, or form contradicts her philosophy. If you understood her philosophy you would know this.

She decried the system which made it necessary for people to take aid to pay for things such as medical care. She didn't think it was a moral system for many reasons. However, seeing as most people have no choice in this system but to accept aid, then by all means they should do it. It would be foolishness to lose your life because you were too stubborn to take assistance when the conditions of reality dictated that it was necessary. To die, rather than accept life saving assistance would be considered very immoral under Objectivism.

Get off the boards and pick up some books people.

50
@45: "I get tired of the slamming of the woman's writing that comes from people who have never read anything she'd written."

Tough. I've never read a word she has written, and I don't expect I ever will. I have, however, read and observed a great deal of commentary on her views and her political philosophy from those who agree and who disagree with it. I've seen enough in that way to know how I feel about that philosophy. ("Steaming pile of crap" is probably the most succinct way to put it.)

It isn't always necessary to read the original source material - I've never read "Das Kapital" either but I do know a thing or two about Marx and Marxism, certainly enough to know that I'm not a Marxist.
51
@50 I think the problem that arises from people criticizing her without having read her is that you cannot trust a lot of the writings from other people about her. Again and again people for and against her views misrepresent them. The problem is that people are more emotional, and biased against her more than any other philosopher. If I bring up Descartes on a message board no one raises an eyebrow but if you mention the name Rand people go apeshit.

The point is if you want to criticize her you really should read her philosophical writings. You won't understand it from all the biased second hand accounts.
52
@51: The "biased second hand accounts" you refer to include those of people who agree with her philosophy, not just those who criticize it. I can find out an awful lot about a particular book or philosophy by looking at those who like and agree with it, as well as those who dislike and disagree with it.

For example, I have never read any Wahhabist works, but I can look at Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban, and determine that it is not a philosophy I would agree with. No need to waste my time studying it.

I have looked at those who espouse Rand's philosophy. I don't agree with what they say, and I do not wish to be like them. I have no need to read her books to prove that I disagree with her philosophy.

If I were to be approaching her as a literary critic, it would be a different story - but I'm not judging her skill as a writer.
53
@52 I know. That's why I said that both those who espouse her ideas and those who disagree represent "biased second hand accounts." So the only way to get to the true meaning of her philosophy is to read it straight from her.

It's fine that you have no desire to read her work. However, to go around declaring to the world that her philosophy is garbage even though you really don't understand it is ludicrous. If all you know of her philosophy rests on biased second hand accounts then you do not understand it.

We all understand the philosophy of the Taliban, we can see it all around us. However, Objectivism is not so easy to understand without reading the actual works.

If you are not willing to "waste your time studying it," then I suggest that you also not waste your time talking about it. Especially since you really aren't saying anything other than "those books are crappy."

54
@49:I will grant you pithy and reductive. And I said her philosophy was untenable. As in if every one was as selfish as Miss Rand might have wished there would be no public assistance from which she would have benefitted. And there in lies the tasty, tasty irony. I completely agree that for her to accept assistance in her time of need was not inconsistent on her part, since from Miss Rand's point of view her need trumped all. That is what it is to be selfish after all.
I stand by my assessment that her novels are poorly written and full of long gratuitous passages designed to make Miss Rand feel tingly in her bathing suit area. Twighlight for the Objectivist if you will.
55
That isn't irony.

You do not understand what she means by selfishness. She has a different definition of selfishness than the one which is commonly accepted. Selfishness to Ayn Rand does not mean screwing everybody else over so that you may succeed. Rand advocated rational self-interest, meaning that as a living being you logically must hold your life as your ultimate value and you should never be forced against your own will to help others if you don't wish to. However, if you want to help people, under Objectivist morality, this is perfectly acceptable as long as you do it without resorting to force or coercion (I.E. Government.) Private charity is perfectly acceptable.

"The Objectivist ethics proudly advocates and upholds rational selfishness—which means: the values required for man’s survival qua man—which means: the values required for human survival—not the values produced by the desires, the emotions, the “aspirations,” the feelings, the whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifices, have never discovered an industrial society and can conceive of no self-interest but that of grabbing the loot of the moment.

The Objectivist ethics holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone. It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash—that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value."
56
"The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word “selfishness” is not merely wrong: it represents a devastating intellectual “package-deal,” which is responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind.

In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.

Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: concern with one’s own interests.

This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions."
57
SELFISH
1.devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc.,regardless of others.
2.characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.
FTFY, or rather Merriam-Webster did.
58
@55 "this is perfectly acceptable as long as you do it without resorting to force or coercion (I.E. Government.) Private charity is perfectly acceptable."

Except she didn't accept private charity she accepted forced and coerced (i.e. government) charity. So what makes her acceptance of this forced and coerced charity different than the "moochers" she decries in her books?
59
@56 "the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment."

Hmmmmm.....that sounds an awful lot like the child murderer that she championed.
60
@57 As I said, her definition differs..

@58 I already explained this earlier: "Newsflash people, the fact that Rand accepted government assistance to help treat her lung cancer in no way, shape, or form contradicts her philosophy. If you understood her philosophy you would know this.

She decried the system which made it necessary for people to take aid to pay for things such as medical care. She didn't think it was a moral system for many reasons. However, seeing as most people have no choice in this system but to accept aid, then by all means they should do it. It would be foolishness to lose your life because you were too stubborn to take assistance when the conditions of reality dictated that it was necessary. To die, rather than accept life saving assistance would be considered very immoral under Objectivism."

@58 What you are describing is two sentences from a journal entry that was never meant to be viewed publicly and which has nothing to do with her philosophy of Objectivism. You are not presenting a logical criticism of Objectivism. You are isolating two sentences and trying to say that because of those two sentences her ideas must be horrible. You have no idea what the context of that writing was, and neither does anyone else. So to try to evaluate Rand and her philosophy based on those two sentences is beyond disingenuous.

61
@53: " So the only way to get to the true meaning of her philosophy is to read it straight from her."

If the only way to really understand Rand is by reading her directly, then she's a poor philosopher and an even worse writer.

You are doing what I have seen so, so many Randians do - in response to criticism or rejection of her views, you insist that the critic just doesn't get it. If only we read more, understood more, if only we would listen, then we would understand - and then we would agree.

And again - I am not criticizing her books as literature - I am not saying "those books are crappy" as books - I agree that to do so I should read them.

I am saying that Objectivism, as a philosophy, is morally bankrupt. I don't need to read Rand to say that. I have read, for example, your posts - your biased second hand accounts - which certainly support my conclusion.
62
@ 60 She decried the system AND people who participated in it, of which she was one. You realize that government assistance isn't the only way to pay for medical expenses right? There were plenty of options available to her that wouldn't have "forced" her to rely on government help. She could have planned for the future by saving up money, she could have bought her own insurance but she didn't do either of these things. Her lack of planning caused her to fortify the system that she supposedly loathed.

She wrote a lot more about Hickman than two sentences.
63
@61 In what way is a morally bankrupt?

@62 She has said herself that it is perfectly okay to take money from the government. She has stated that the people who wrote those laws are in the wrong. You have every right under Objectivism to take unemployment insurance, medical assistance, scholarships, grants etc. Once again I'll refer you to her own words.

"Many students of Objectivism are troubled by a certain kind of moral dilemma confronting them in today’s society. We are frequently asked the questions: “Is it morally proper to accept scholarships, private or public?” and: “Is it morally proper for an advocate of capitalism to accept a government research grant or a government job?”

I shall hasten to answer: “Yes”—then proceed to explain and qualify it. There are many confusions on these issues, created by the influence and implications of the altruist morality.

There is nothing wrong in accepting private scholarships. The fact that a man has no claim on others (i.e., that it is not their moral duty to help him and that he cannot demand their help as his right) does not preclude or prohibit good will among men and does not make it immoral to offer or to accept voluntary, non-sacrificial assistance.

A different principle and different considerations are involved in the case of public (i.e., governmental) scholarships. The right to accept them rests on the right of the victims to the property (or some part of it) which was taken from them by force.

The recipient of a public scholarship is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarships, have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not in its victims.

Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others, and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the unearned benefit of others—the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally worse, not better. The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it . . . .

The same moral principles and considerations apply to the issue of accepting social security, unemployment insurance or other payments of that kind. It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.

The same moral principles and considerations apply to the issue of government research grants.

The growth of the welfare state is approaching the stage where virtually the only money available for scientific research will be government money. (The disastrous effects of this situation and the disgraceful state of government-sponsored science are apparent already, but that is a different subject. We are concerned here only with the moral dilemma of scientists.) Taxation is destroying private resources, while government money is flooding and taking over the field of research.

In these conditions, a scientist is morally justified in accepting government grants—so long as he opposes all forms of welfare statism. As in the case of scholarship-recipients, a scientist does not have to add self-martyrdom to the injustices he suffers."
64
@63 Wow, well thanks for showing me beyond any doubt what a crock of shit her philosophy is. "I'm opposed to government sponsorship of anything......now GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!"

There is absolutely no way that this system that she hated is going to go away if people keep participating it. No way. As long as she and other keep participating in it, the system will continue, regardless of how you rationalize it and she (and you) can rationalize away the "moral purity" of accepting government sponsorship in a manner that suits her (and your) sensibilities but that has got to be the weakest, most transparent argument I've ever heard.
65
You making the statement that it's a crock of shit or weak doesn't make it so. How does this not make sense? The government took money from me without my consent. I take it back through their own entitlement programs but at the same time I denounce that system. It would be pretty ridiculous if I denounced the system but then made no effort to get my money back.

This is what we're really saying: "I'm opposed to government sponsorship of anything now give me what is rightfully mine."

The only weak argument is your own.
66
@63: Quoth Rand: "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Morally bankrupt? "With his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life." The central tenet of Rand's philosophy is pure self-interest. Altruism has no place in it. Sure, she said that this "does not preclude or prohibit good will among men," but to her it is solely a personal choice.

According to Rand, I could watch a man die on the ground at my feet, without lifting a finger to help him, and this would be no less moral an action than trying to save him. He has no claim on my assistance, and I have no obligation to provide it.

Bankrupt.
67


"Ungrateful" keeps coming to mind.
68
Wrong again.

If a man were laying before you dying and you could easily assist him without endangering yourself than it's perfectly suitable to help him. I don't think you fully understand what she means by holding your own happiness as the moral purpose of your life.

You can sit here all day and talk about how unselfish you are but do you know what it would really mean to be truly unselfish? You would take joy in nothing, and would not be motivated to improve your own life. Rather you would sacrifice everything you have to ensure that other people are happy.

Imagine unselfish love. In this case you would marry someone, not because of their virtues, but because they are not. Because you are so unselfish that you will love them even though they are not good.

To hold ones life as the ultimate value means that no other person has a claim on your mind, or your wealth or any other part of you. She believed that men should deal with one another voluntarily. This means that a majority of the people can never vote away the rights of the minority.

However, if you hold your own life as an ultimate value than you must also be willing to defend, and assist the people in your life who you deem important. It is not a sacrifice to give something up for a family member or loved one because it fills you with selfish pleasure to know that you have helped someone that you truly care about and truly value.

Seriously, people make Rand out to be a monster but I could post quotes here all day long that show the exact opposite. Disagree with her if you will but don't vilify her. She's not a villain.

She strove to promote the ideas of voluntary, non-coercive, peaceful agreement among men. What's wrong with that?
69
@68: If you fail to see the vast moral gulf between "it's perfectly suitable to help him," and "you should help him," then I am not sure what else I can possibly say to you.
70
Listen. The cornerstone of her philosophy is not "do not help anyone who is dying." Of course, anyone in this hypothetical situation you've created, including Rand herself, is going to help the dying man. Her philosophy is not centered around this story you've created.

However, she did happen to write on essay titled "The Ethics of Emergencies."

"In the normal conditions of existence, man has to choose his goals, project them in time, pursue them and achieve them by his own effort. He cannot do it if his goals are at the mercy of and must be sacrificed to any misfortune happening to others. He cannot live his life by the guidance of rules applicable only to conditions under which human survival is impossible.

The principle that one should help men in an emergency cannot be extended to regard all human suffering as an emergency and to turn the misfortune of some into a first mortgage on the lives of others.

Poverty, ignorance, illness and other problems of that kind are not metaphysical emergencies. By the metaphysical nature of man and of existence, man has to maintain his life by his own effort; the values he needs—such as wealth or knowledge—are not given to him automatically, as a gift of nature, but have to be discovered and achieved by his own thinking and work. One's sole obligation toward others, in this respect, is to maintain a social system that leaves men free to achieve, to gain and to keep their values.

Every code of ethics is based on and derived from a metaphysics, that is: from a theory about the fundamental nature of the universe in which man lives and acts. The altruist ethics is based on a "malevolent universe" metaphysics, on the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed—that success, happiness, achievement are impossible to him—that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them. As the simplest empirical refutation of that metaphysics—as evidence of the fact that the material universe is not inimical to man and that catastrophes are the exception, not the rule of his existence—observe the fortunes made by insurance companies.

Observe also that the advocates of altruism are unable to base their ethics on any facts of men's normal existence and that they always offer "lifeboat" situations as examples from which to derive the rules of moral conduct. ("What should you do if you and another man are in a lifeboat that can carry only one?" etc.) The fact is that men do not live in lifeboats—and that a lifeboat is not the place on which to base one's metaphysics.

The moral purpose of a man's life is the achievement of his own happiness. This does not mean that he is indifferent to all men, that human life is of no value to him and that he has no reason to help others in an emergency. But it does mean that he does not subordinate his life to the welfare of others, that he does not sacrifice himself to their needs, that the relief of their suffering is not his primary concern, that any help he gives is an exception, not a rule, an act of generosity, not of moral duty, that it is marginal and incidental—as disasters are marginal and incidental in the course of human existence—and that values, not disasters, are the goal, the first concern and the motive power of his life."

71
@70: I did not say Rand's philosophy was "do not help anyone who is dying." What I said was that the question of whether or not I help someone is outside the scope of her philosophy. It is irrelevant to it - as your lengthy reply bears out.

Again, this is why I say it is morally bankrupt. Questions of altruism do not enter into it - they are irrelevant. The decision to act altruistically "is an exception, not a rule." And, listening to Rand's proponents, I would further say that those who espouse her Objectivism view altruism as some sort of failing, and those who engage in it as weak-willed patsies.

Thanks, but no thanks.
72
Yes, you're exactly right that altruism is not viewed kindly by Objectivists. However, her problem with altruism is not that you are helping people. She see's altruism as self-defeating. As in, you may think you're helping people out by practicing altruism but you are unwittingly hurting them. So while you may see Objectivism as morally bankrupt, I see altruism as morally bankrupt. So let's see what Rand has to say about altruism and why it is bad. Let's define the term first.

Altruism: the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.

"What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”'
-----------
"It is your mind that they want you to surrender—all those who preach the creed of sacrifice, whatever their tags or their motives, whether they demand it for the sake of your soul or of your body, whether they promise you another life in heaven or a full stomach on this earth. Those who start by saying: “It is selfish to pursue your own wishes, you must sacrifice them to the wishes of others”—end up by saying: “It is selfish to uphold your convictions, you must sacrifice them to the convictions of others.”'
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"Now there is one word—a single word—which can blast the morality of altruism out of existence and which it cannot withstand—the word: “Why?” Why must man live for the sake of others? Why must he be a sacrificial animal? Why is that the good? There is no earthly reason for it—and, ladies and gentlemen, in the whole history of philosophy no earthly reason has ever been given.

It is only mysticism that can permit moralists to get away with it. It was mysticism, the unearthly, the supernatural, the irrational that has always been called upon to justify it—or, to be exact, to escape the necessity of justification. One does not justify the irrational, one just takes it on faith. What most moralists—and few of their victims—realize is that reason and altruism are incompatible."
73
@72: I disagree, wholeheartedly and fundamentally, with pretty much everything in your post.

I would also note that it does not say what you think it says. You led off with "you may think you're helping people out by practicing altruism but you are unwittingly hurting them." In that whole screed you quoted, there is not one single word that describes how altruism is bad for the recipient of it. There is certainly an argument to be made in that line - give a man a fish, etc. - but Rand isn't making it here. No, it's all "why do I have to give up what is mine?"

Stripped to its fundamentals, what I read above is "me, me, mine, me, mine, ME, ME, MINE!"

You want to live that way, go ahead. I don't.

74
It says what I think it says and more.

"Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible."

Altruism hurts everyone. Everyone sacrificing to everyone is not productive. If you want to live in a world where everyone must sacrifice to everyone else then go ahead, have fun living in a dictatorship.

"Stripped to its fundamentals, what I read above is "me, me, mine, me, mine, ME, ME, MINE!"'

This statement doesn't make any sense. What fundamentals are your referring to? It doesn't say anything like what you're suggesting.

Altruism demands that you sacrifice to anyone, anywhere. Not because you want to, or because they deserve it but because to do so would be unselfish. How one can't see this as morally repugnant is beyond me.

You know demanded altruism? Hitler. There is your altruistic society in its essence.

"Altruism is a moral system which holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the sole justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, value and virtue. This is the moral base of collectivism, of all dictatorships."

So, let me get this straight. Because Ayn Rand says that people shouldn't have to be forced to sacrifice themselves her and her philosophy and anyone who follows it are morally bankrupt?

75
Lissa FTW!!! Rand saw our world filled with Leeches and Producers. Guess which side everyone related to this blog is placed :). She was a selfish sociopath who died a lonely old woman.

@ dak7e

Re-read my comment, Dickcheese.
76
She did not see the world that way. Why don't t you use some actual facts to back up such a claim. Speaking of backing up ridiculously false claims--why don't you back up that one about her dying a lonely old woman? That isn't true. Ayn Rand had many close personal friends, and they all describe her as very kind and generous. In fact, she was known for being very, very generous to her close friends. She had many close friends at the time of her passing--not to mention the millions of admirers all over the world.

77

"You know demanded altruism? Hitler."

argumentum ad Hitlerum. According to Godwin is this over. But what the hell, I'll bite...

And no - Ayn Rand is morally bankrupt because her philosophy hinges on a radical sort solipsism: the atomized individual, existing beyond any and all systems of social obligation. The problem is - society is never simply a composite of individuals all mashed together. The body politic possesses character on a higher order. Social scientists define these as nominative values, and while often abstracted or idealized - they cannot exist without a form of coercion. This coercion isn't necessarily a part of the repressive state apparatus (to take a page from Marx): i.e. religious law, the police, or the IRS. For example: many states have no laws against cannibalism or bestiality. This doesn't mean cannibalism and horse-fucking is condoned, but that socially encoded forms of repression such as disgust or shame effectively hide such behavior.

Contrary to Ayn Rand's belief - society CANNOT exist without the moral (implicit) and legal (explicit) obligations which order individual behavior into communities. The attempt to free oneself from all such coercion is both deluded and solipsistic.
78
The only people who truly have a claim at existing in a truly self-liberated Objectivist state would be the sort of "feral children" raised alone in cupboards or garbage dumps, existing purely for the exercise of their own unfettered will. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_child )

It shouldn't be surprising that such true Objectivists appear incapable of developing the fundamental hallmark of humanity's collaborative nature: speech.

79
@78 What in the hell are you talking about?

@77 I'm not sure what nominative values are. Perhaps you mean normative values? Anyway, your response shows that you really have no clue what you're talking about. You really have no clue what it is Ayn Rand espouses.

I'm not sure what all this talk about freeing oneself from coercion is all about. Of course she believed there should be moral values, and objective laws and courts. She's not advocating that people just do whatever the hell they want. To follow Objectivism one must adhere to a code of ethics. Objectivism does not reject morality.

Of course, you can read all about this in her books.
80
Zaow, you caught me!!! It's either normative or nominative, but not bolth. Sorry me no speak English so good.

I'm saying at the basic level, ALL society demands the coercive self-sacrifice of the individual. What the fuck do you think Atlas is shrugging off?
81
@Otheric

Yes. That was her exact world view and it was the entire premise of "Atlas Shrugged". You know, we'll just head off to billionaire island and watch the world waste away without us producers. But the magic of her writing is that she babbled sooooo much that she wrote a bible, any meaning can be plucked from her pages and formed into an argument.
Have you actually read or heard any of the interviews about her history? She was a leader of a cult. I'm sure they thought she was a close friend or teacher but no one could make any decision without her approval, even marriage.

"Rand expressed opinions on a wide range of topics, including literature, music, sexuality, even facial hair, and some of her followers mimicked all her preferences, wearing clothes to match characters from her novels and buying furniture like hers. Rand was unimpressed with many of the NBI students and held them to strict standards, sometimes reacting coldly or angrily to those who disagreed with her."
82
Yeah, well, you're wrong. Society doesn't require it. Certain people in society who profit from other peoples sacrifice require it.

No need for expletives. I know full well what Atlas is shrugging off. But I'm a little confused as to how this follows your previous statement.

"I'm saying at the basic level, ALL society demands the coercive self-sacrifice of the individual. What the fuck do you think Atlas is shrugging off?"

So...? How does any of that prove your point?

So according to you society demands coercive self-sacrifice, and since Objectivists are against coercive self-sacrifice their philosophy is immoral? So basically anyone who disagrees with your interpretation of the way society should work is immoral.

Rand makes the case for the non-sacrificial society is many of her books. It is in these books you will find that sacrifice is not necessary.

83
@81
No, that was not her exact world view. Your summary of Atlas Shrugged is disingenuous.

She was not the leader of a cult. In what way is it a cult? And who needed approval for marriage? No doubt about it a lot of people respect and admire Rand, some people obsessively so--but what does any of that have to do with her philosophy?

As far as people mimicking her taste in furniture--What does that have to do with the philosophy of Objectivism. Not a damn thing and you know it.

Why is it people are always making personal attacks on Rand rather than dealing with the substance of her philosophy?
84
"Rand makes the case for the non-sacrificial society is many of her books. It is in these books you will find that sacrifice is not necessary."

You realize that the realm of Rand's literary imagination does not necessarily project its own logic onto the world, right?

And I would agree with you: these ad hominum attacks against Ayn Rand are an unproductive form of discourse - her philosophy damns itself just fine.

85
Now, I have ratatouille to eat and you leeches are keeping me from it.
86
@Otheric

No, your interpretation is tweenish and dream filled.

"She was not the leader of a cult. In what way is it a cult? And who needed approval for marriage? No doubt about it a lot of people respect and admire Rand, some people obsessively so--but what does any of that have to do with her philosophy?"

Sigh....you obviously have problems coming to your own conclusions and accepting the truth that she was part of what we call a cult. She was authoritarian and exploitative in her nature by dictating other peoples lives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult

"As far as people mimicking her taste in furniture--What does that have to do with the philosophy of Objectivism. Not a damn thing and you know it."

When she clearly dictated what was appropriate for her followers and included it in her theory, it became appropriate. End or argument on that!

"Why is it people are always making personal attacks on Rand rather than dealing with the substance of her philosophy? "

What a silly argument. Why then do we mention the Founding Fathers, Marx or Jesus when arguing their Ideologies? But it must be personal attacks on them from people who are foolish. Humbug.


Do you notice the circles your write yourself into? You ask a million unanswerable questions and dismiss real evidence with baseless rationalizations.
87
She dictated what was appropriate in terms of her philosophy. Since it was a club of Objectivists it stands to reason that only Objectivists could be part of the group. So of course if someone doesn't follow certain tenets of Objectivism they would be thrown out.

It's like if you join a soccer team. You join it so you can play soccer with people who also like soccer. Well, if you decide you wanna start playing basketball in the soccer club there's gonna be a problem.

So did people get thrown out of her intellectual group for disagreements? Sure. But what's wrong with that?

"Sigh....you obviously have problems coming to your own conclusions and accepting the truth that she was part of what we call a cult. She was authoritarian and exploitative in her nature by dictating other peoples lives."

Show one example of this. Objectivism exhibits none of the characteristics of a cult.

I did not notice that I'm writing myself into circles. What unanswerable questions did I ask? What baseless rationalizations did I make? I think you're just throwing around words that sound nice. You've really been working on your argument language.

My argument about you attacking her personally being invalid is completely reasonable. It's called ad-hominem and I hear it's a big no-no if you want to have a rational discussion with someone.

88
I'm not entertaining your delusions anymore. E-mail Alan Greenspan and fawn over your fallen leader. I need to head off and work and one of Rands leeches.
89
Greenspan actually stopped being an Objectivist around the time he joined the central bank. So his ideas are not representative of Rands.
90
Rand's philosophy looks nice on paper, "do what is in your own self-interest, and you will ultimately be benefitting others because you're doing your best work, and you'll be doing it because you want to, not because you're being forced to."

Looks nice, but in the Real World, it doesn't work, because people are not "noble savages" who will happily volunteer to make the world a better place (as Rand suggests the Prime Movers are). In the stark realities of nature, as Hobbes said, it is a war, by all, against all.

Pure objectivism is a really neat idea that is ultimately a complete failure in practice. Human society simply cannot function that way.

Same thing with pure capitalism or pure communism or socialism. Humans can't do it. They're too selfish, too primitive. They need to be led by both the carrot and the stick. By a fluid combination of many philosophies. If you try to lead only with one, you'll end up in revolution.
91
@83: We have dealt with the substance of her philosophy. It is, as I said, untenable. It has not worked, does not work, and will not work.
Unless you’re an infant.
As a matter of fact an infant is the perfect Objectivist if you think about it. It’s own happiness is the moral purpose of its life after all. But unfortunately for its nascent philosophical position what allows it to live a blissful life of pure self interest is the unselfish love of its mother. What a conundrum for our baby Randian! What tortured rationalizations will it be forced to come up with? What romantic mental gymnastics? Ah well, perhaps after a bottle and a nap, it can address this glaring example of altruism from which it benefits so nicely.
92
How could you say it doesn't work? It hasn't really been put into practice.

A mother/child relationship is not based on altruism. Since as I keep saying it's perfectly consistent with Objectivist morality to take care of those who you value.

There's no need for name calling Lissa. That would be very...infantile of you, now wouldn't it?
93
@Urgatha Forka

I think your referring to our base instincts as great apes. Everything we do comes at a price. An interesting way to dissect base society is to watch some Bonobos and Chimpanzees, very alien yet creepily similar to ours.

@Lissa
We all know how parents react to foreign babies.

@Othereric

You keep shooting down these ideas but I haven't read a scenario where you explain the perfect Objectivist.
94
@92: I am unaware of any name calling on my part. The infant in question is purely hypothetical.

Objectivism has never been put into practice, and never will be put into practice, because it will not work.
And, since you strike me as one profoundly gifted in the annoying navel gazing department, perhaps your mother may have one or two recollections concerning you as a teen in which her altruism was all that stood between you and the next life.
Yes.
I imagine that's more than likely
95
@ Svensken,

Well, sort of, I mean, humans are definitely not as evolved as people like Ayn Rand wished they were. Humans are selfish. Left uncontrolled, they really will resort to simply killing and stealing from each other rather than working together. We give up our freedoms to do whatever the fuck we please in order to instill some control in our lives so that we can accomplish things greater than simply "living another day."

The problem with Rand and objectivism is that it can only function if everyone voluntarily gives up that freedom, rather than being forced to give it up. And that's its downfall.

Rand had this absurd view that those at the top were cordial colleagues with each other, happy capitalists who only want everyone to succeed and do their best. Hell, the closing line in Atlas Shrugged is something like Hank Reardon laughing merrily about how his good, close, capitalist buddy is going to rake him over the coals on prices, but he'll find a way to pay. It's just bullshit. In the real world, they're sociopaths, not BFF's, and they'll tear their "friend" to fucking pieces at the first opportunity they get, no remorse.

Meh, I'm overwriting when it's good enough to simply say "Objectivism is way beyond human beings ability to practice it." Christ, we still haven't moved past fucking racism yet, and some people think we're capable of functioning as objectivists. Humans have a hell of a long way to go before we're ever evolved enough to be able to govern ourselves that well.
96
Lissa-You aren't making any points you're just tossing around insults. You don't know anything about me or my Mother. I'm sure you think you're hilarious but I thought we were having a discussion about Objectivism not my childhood.

You say Objectivism will not work. Why not? Do you really know anything about it? You haven't offered up any actual knowledge of the subject.

You should really step off your elitist tone. I didn't come here and start insulting people. Just trying to express my views. But I guess anyone who has a difference of opinion from you is just an annoying navel gazer.

Anyway, you're only highlighting the fact that you don't know anything about Ayn Rand.

97
I'm late back to the party, but I just can't let this pass:

"You know demanded altruism? Hitler. There is your altruistic society in its essence."

That is one of the stupidest fucking things I have ever read. Anyone who can write that sentence down, and mean it, knows nothing of any value about altruism, society, or Hitler.

Hm, Othereric, what do you know of altruism anyway? Let's see:

"Altruism hurts everyone. Everyone sacrificing to everyone is not productive."

Well, there's your problem. No rational altruist would ever suggest that altruism consists of everyone sacrificing to everyone. You are proposing a ridiculous strawman. No one really thinks that way.

Well, no one but Randians. Needing something to act as counterpoint and boogeyman to their absolutist, fundamentalist self-interest, they postulate an absolutist, fundamentalist altruism that demands total self-sacrifice.

That isn't how altruism works in the real world.

Tell me, Othereric: what is your own personal philosophy? Can you express one, without quoting - or even referring to - Rand?
98
@Urgutha Forka

You make some interesting points. However, Objectivism does account for government control. It's not total anarchy where people can do whatever they please. Under an Objectivist society you would have to give up your freedom to screw people over or commit acts of force because those actions effect the well-being of other individuals. It's all about respecting individual rights.

She did believe in a benevolent universe, and you can argue the merits of that, but yes to an extent she believed people could deal with one another rationally for the most part. Of course, the part in Atlas Shrugged you mentioned is an idealized scene. Certainly not every capitalist is going to behave that way. Actually, Rand often derided Capitalists for doing more to destroy Capitalism than their own attackers. So the fact is she wasn't always so complimentary of the rich.
99
@96: I believe if you direct your attention up thread to the comments posted by Backyard Bombardier and Urgutha Forka you will observe quite a few reasoned explanations as to why Objectivism will not work. I am disinclined to paraphrase their cogent arguments as I will fail to do them justice.
But!! I apologize for characterizing you as a Navel Gazer.
100
@98: "Objectivism does account for government control."

How? Seriously, how? How is government control possible without coercion? What happens when I determine that what the government demands is contrary to my self-interest?

That is a serious question, and it goes to the heart of the problems with Objectivism.