A Rand Rant

LuckyKBoxer

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So, I read Atlas Shrugged a very long time ago. I recently reread it, and I still don’t get that people actually take this clearly dysfunctional ***** so seriously.



I mean, I get it-libertarianism, laissez faire capitalism, self-determination. Sure.:rolleyes:

But a complete rejection of altruism? Just for starters, how do all those conservative, tea-partiers who happen to be fundamentalist Christians reconcile Rand’s objectivism with the teachings of Jesus?

Because, from where I’m sitting, you can’t.





Rand condemns the giving or receiving of gifts.Altruism-the giving or receiving of that which she sees as “undeserved” is condemned as immoral.

(Unless, of course, it was-rather famously-for her own medical care. )

She saw anything that required a person to live for something other than themselves as immoral.

Of course, Rand was an atheist, so she knew that her objectivism was incompatible with Jesus, and didn’t care too much, but what about all those tea partiers? What about Sarah “pray for protection from witchcraft” Palin? :lol:

And, Jesus aside, I don’t think that many of her ideas about human nature match the scientific and historical evidence. I mean, I’m guessing she was a selfish *****, and needed to philosophize a justification for that selfishness. Didn’t work too well, though-while she probably tried to exercise a hyper-rational, objectivist control over her own life, the results speak for themselves: pointless extramarital affairs, a broken political movement, estrangement from friends, financial ruin, and poor health.

I can understand her being anti-Communist, but I think she took her glorification of capitalism and individuality a little too far. The truly "heroic man" is one who gives, rather than one who seeks only his own happiness and self-actualization-he seeks to aid his fellow man in attaining what he has.

(And, hey, all you Rand fans, you do know, dontcha, that her writing kinda sucked? :lol:)

I have not read the book, I enjoy reading sci fi and fantasy and horror.. I keep thinking I need to read it though to see what the hub bub is about..
but I dont see the problem with what you are saying meshing with Christian values, or conservative values etc... seems a reach..
I mean Obama claims to pray, and believe in god.. I know alot of athiest Liberals who that should turn off so much they shouldnt vote for or support him... how does that reconcile?

I get you just want to pick a fight with the conservatives, or be sarcastic, or have fun with it... but it seems a stretch to me.. /shrug
 

granfire

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People have been imprinted and seem unable to shake off their programming. This will perpetually lead to not understanding what Rand was saying. How can one object to her ideas if one doesn't actually understand what they are?

Selfish means (to her) to be primarily concerned about one's self. This is common sense; it is an imperative in nature. From this basic concept, she builds other more complex theories about how people in society ought to interact, and how they *do* interact. I find many of her thoughts to be more interesting from that standpoint, to be honest. I enjoy uncovering what appear to be actual motivations behind certain behaviors as opposed to what we might otherwise suppose.

However, as long as one reads the word 'selfish' to mean 'evil', communication is not possible. And that is the meme most of us have been imprinted with. If I'm selfish, it means (to most) that I want what you have and I want you to have nothing.

Consider the word. 'Self' meaning me, and 'ish' meaning pertaining to the subject - me. 'Selfish' just means 'about me'. It says nothing about you, nothing about how I choose to interact with you, nothing about how I feel, what or whom I love, my generosity, or anything else. It means of or pertaining to me. Rand stated that the real virtue was recognizing that our primary responsibility was to ourselves; everything else we are and do builds on that basic concept.

Those who criticize Rand often do so (as in this thread, IMHO) on the basis of the words she uses and the meanings they themselves assign to them; they do not wrestle with her concepts and ideas, but simply take issue with certain words such as 'selfish' and reject the rest out-of-hand. To me, this is frustrating; it makes it hard to have a conversation about Rand without emotion and rancor. I suspect she may have intended it; it excludes people who think on the surface from the conversation.


Somewhere there I wonder if she is autistic?
I don't mean this as insult, by all means.

But there is this communications gap as it seems.

A word means what it means. The social context, the imprinting as you put it, gives it it's meaning.

There are many words that have lost their meaning and moved on to something else. Gay being one of them, so much so you can't type out the lyrics to a Diana Ross song without upsetting the swear filter in some areas.

back to selfishness....
I have not read the book. Doubt I will with the snail's pace I get to read these days, so my understanding is somewhat 2nd/3rd hand.

Then again, the book is old. By now it's meaning is being taken out of context. The environment now is different from then (I'd think) and that influences our understanding.



Ah, well, it was clearer in my mind before I started typing...then another ADOS moment struck...
 

Bill Mattocks

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back to selfishness....
I have not read the book. Doubt I will with the snail's pace I get to read these days, so my understanding is somewhat 2nd/3rd hand.

Then again, the book is old. By now it's meaning is being taken out of context. The environment now is different from then (I'd think) and that influences our understanding.

Ah, well, it was clearer in my mind before I started typing...then another ADOS moment struck...

You might consider "Anthem" or "The Virtue of Selfishness" if you're interested. I frankly found "Atlas Shrugged" to be nearly unreadable and "The Fountainhead" to require a lot of close reading. They're both dense, and as some have suggested, she was not a terrific novelist.

I find Objectivism has a lot to offer, and Rand was clearly (IMHO) on to something. However, she's not the be-all and end-all, and now that she's going to be marketed to the Tea Party as something she never was, I doubt I'll have much interest. Her basic precepts were both interesting and entertaining; but consider that I find as much value in the writings of Aleister Crowley...
 

Twin Fist

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seldom right and wrong again bruno

there WILL be rationing of care, so there WILL BE panels sitting around making decisions about who gets what care....Palin was right on the money

friggin obama even admitted that there will be cases where instead of surgery some people will "have to just take a pill"

the fact that people still deny what THEY ADMITTED TO is pathetic



Take Palin's 'death panels' speech.
Everyone who actually bothered to inform himself knew it was a blatant lie, meant only to rile up people who were still waffling at the edge of the right wing / moderates. The fact that she actually gave that speach meant she is a) stupid or b) dishonest. Yet many right wingers still worship her. Not because she makes sense or is a good politician, but because what she says meshes with their ideals.
 

Xue Sheng

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seldom right and wrong again bruno

there WILL be rationing of care, so there WILL BE panels sitting around making decisions about who gets what care....Palin was right on the money

friggin obama even admitted that there will be cases where instead of surgery some people will "have to just take a pill"

the fact that people still deny what THEY ADMITTED TO is pathetic


:hmm:
Take a nice little Ayn Rand rant that has turned into a semi-interesting discussion then you come along and decide to interject a bit of politically loaded way off topic inflamatory stuff first

never read it, but i am planning to

Then you decide to do an actual on topic post, albeit it a rather short one

Nice redirect :rolleyes:
 

LuckyKBoxer

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:hmm:
Take a nice little Ayn Rand rant that has turned into a semi-interesting discussion then you come along and decide to interject a bit of politically loaded way off topic inflamatory stuff first



Then you decide to do an actual on topic post, albeit it a rather short one

Nice redirect :rolleyes:


oh you must have missed the first reply to the OP where Bruno shot the load on the death panel comment... seems to me Twin fist answered him then answered the original poster... I can see how that is a problem though....:shrug:
 

girlbug2

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A practical example of how I see the differences in philosophies between Objectivism, Christianity, and Liberalism:

Let's say my friend Pete wanted to write a check for $100 to the Police Activities League (a local charity which provides after school activities for kids who are at risk for being recruited by gangs in their neighborhoods, among other things). He wants to do so because he thinks that the PAL is a good investment in the future of his community. If it works, the kids that are served by the PAL will have a better chance of staying out of trouble, completing school, and becoming productive members of society. Not only will those kids benefit, but so will the city. Pete also gets personal satisfaction from this. This is Objectivism.

OTOH, let's say instead Pete wrote that same check because he felt compassion for the troubled kids in his city. Perhaps he's just a naturally compassionate guy, or perhaps he had a spiritual awakening in which he feels that God was guiding him to help those kids. Pete also gets personal satisfaction from contributing that $100. That would be Altruism as defined by Christianity.

Now let's say that in an alternate universe, there is a PAL tax in place on the citizens of that city which amounts to about $100 per annum from each citizen. Pete is therefore taxed that $100 without any say in the matter. He does not therefore contribute it from compassion, nor rationalism, nor in response to his spiritual beliefs, but out of legal obligation. There is little or no personal or spiritual satisfaction for Pete. That is Liberalism --or Social Obligation if you will.


All three philosophies seek to do good. There is overlapping objectives from all three in that they seek to help the at risk kids in poor neighborhoods. Personally, I would write that check out of either Objectivism or Altruism gladly, but I resent being taxed that exact same amount by law.
 

Omar B

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As someone pointed out before, your highest value should be what brings you joy so there's no rule against doing anything.

She also talked volumes about using your own rational judgment and deciding for yourself. Even to the point of rejecting parts or even the whole of her philosophy. Nathaniel Brandon is an example of this. He's still an objectivist but his divide with Ayn came because of their divergence on the idea of mental health (Branden studying mental health) ... as well as the ending of their affair.

There are also many gay objectivists. Rand was against the gays. But again using rational judgment one can come to the conclusion that her ideas about the subject were antiquated.
 

Bill Mattocks

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A practical example of how I see the differences in philosophies between Objectivism, Christianity, and Liberalism:

Let's say my friend Pete wanted to write a check for $100 to the Police Activities League (a local charity which provides after school activities for kids who are at risk for being recruited by gangs in their neighborhoods, among other things). He wants to do so because he thinks that the PAL is a good investment in the future of his community. If it works, the kids that are served by the PAL will have a better chance of staying out of trouble, completing school, and becoming productive members of society. Not only will those kids benefit, but so will the city. Pete also gets personal satisfaction from this. This is Objectivism.

OTOH, let's say instead Pete wrote that same check because he felt compassion for the troubled kids in his city. Perhaps he's just a naturally compassionate guy, or perhaps he had a spiritual awakening in which he feels that God was guiding him to help those kids. Pete also gets personal satisfaction from contributing that $100. That would be Altruism as defined by Christianity.

Now let's say that in an alternate universe, there is a PAL tax in place on the citizens of that city which amounts to about $100 per annum from each citizen. Pete is therefore taxed that $100 without any say in the matter. He does not therefore contribute it from compassion, nor rationalism, nor in response to his spiritual beliefs, but out of legal obligation. There is little or no personal or spiritual satisfaction for Pete. That is Liberalism --or Social Obligation if you will.


All three philosophies seek to do good. There is overlapping objectives from all three in that they seek to help the at risk kids in poor neighborhoods. Personally, I would write that check out of either Objectivism or Altruism gladly, but I resent being taxed that exact same amount by law.

I don't 100% agree with the above, but close enough. I'd like to add something to your statements.

Consider the same three scenarios. In the first, since you are donating the money because you desire an outcome, you have a vested interest in seeking out and donating money where you feel it will actually have a positive effect, one that benefits you (by way of a safe society where your rights will be respected).

In the second, your goal is to feel good or to meet a moral obligation. Once you donate, your goal has been met. It hardly matters what is done with that money once it leaves your hands from your perspective.

In the third, you are even more disconnected; you not only don't care what happens to your money, you don't know and probably can't find out in any level of detail.

Objectivism encourages a person who chooses to give to guide their giving to obtain the outcome that best suits their goals, such as a safe and stable society with the maximum number of employed workers, which in turn gives them a platform from which to realize their own happiness. And of course, there is nothing saying an Objectivist can't give money simply because that gives them pleasure with no other reason.
 

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I'm an objectivist and done a whole bunch of stuff that would be called altruistic, like working triage after 9/11. But it's what I wanted to do, it's where I wanted to be so there was no conflict there.

Ayn was a flawed person, she was certainly not the pure objectivist archetype. But it's based upon logic and like any system of philosophy, the individual still decides. Or even in the case of some religions (pre-marital sex anyone?).

We can never reach Superman levels of nobility, but we can always strive for it. That works for just about everything.
 

crushing

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Rand condemns the giving or receiving of gifts.Altruism-the giving or receiving of that which she sees as “undeserved” is condemned as immoral.

(Unless, of course, it was-rather famously-for her own medical care. )

"Famous" may be a bit of an exageration. It did bounce around some internet Hufferground echo chambers for a bit and made a brief appearance in another thread on MT. Anyway, it was found to jive with her writing from 1966.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government_grants_and_scholarships.html

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.
 

Bruno@MT

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seldom right and wrong again bruno

there WILL be rationing of care, so there WILL BE panels sitting around making decisions about who gets what care....Palin was right on the money

friggin obama even admitted that there will be cases where instead of surgery some people will "have to just take a pill"

the fact that people still deny what THEY ADMITTED TO is pathetic

True. Yet that is true today as well. Both in our socialized healthcare system as in the US private system. Some things will not be covered. If that is an argument against Obamacare, it is also an argument against whatever you currently have.

But Palin was talking about people appearing in front of a panel to decide if they were worthy of care. And that is a totally different allegation, don't you think?
 

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Personally I liked the book. A little too verbose and repetitive at times, but on the whole, I do enjoy her writing.

Her writing inspired me to study both philosophy and economics. Ones she agreed with and also others. A lot of people got their introductions to those subjects through her. Plus, she inspired a few great Rush songs!

Would I call myself an Objectivist today? No. But I do consider myself a proponent of rational self interest.

As far as modern day conservatives idolizing her, I don't get it either. So much of what they stand for goes sharply against her philosophy. Big things too, like abortion and keeping religion out of government.

One of the things I have kept from her writings is her views on both modern liberals and conservatives. They both want control over what they think is important. The conservatives want to control your morals whereas the liberals want to control your money.

Jeff
 

Bill Mattocks

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Personally I liked the book. A little too verbose and repetitive at times, but on the whole, I do enjoy her writing.

Her writing inspired me to study both philosophy and economics. Ones she agreed with and also others. A lot of people got their introductions to those subjects through her. Plus, she inspired a few great Rush songs!

Would I call myself an Objectivist today? No. But I do consider myself a proponent of rational self interest.

As far as modern day conservatives idolizing her, I don't get it either. So much of what they stand for goes sharply against her philosophy. Big things too, like abortion and keeping religion out of government.

One of the things I have kept from her writings is her views on both modern liberals and conservatives. They both want control over what they think is important. The conservatives want to control your morals whereas the liberals want to control your money.

Jeff

Fantastic. Agree 100%. Well said!
 

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True. Yet that is true today as well. Both in our socialized healthcare system as in the US private system. Some things will not be covered. If that is an argument against Obamacare, it is also an argument against whatever you currently have.

But Palin was talking about people appearing in front of a panel to decide if they were worthy of care. And that is a totally different allegation, don't you think?


no, it isnt, there wil be a PANEL of people deciding who DIES

thats a death panel weather you call it that or not.
 

Sukerkin

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I don't really understand this argument between Bruno and Twin Fist, especially in relation to the subject of the thread?

What're you trying to say and how does it relate to the not-particularly-cogent writings of Rand?
 

crushing

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I don't really understand this argument between Bruno and Twin Fist, especially in relation to the subject of the thread?

What're you trying to say and how does it relate to the not-particularly-cogent writings of Rand?

You may want to go back and read the OP as it was more about Palin and the Tea Party than Rand.
 

Bill Mattocks

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You may want to go back and read the OP as it was more about Palin and the Tea Party than Rand.

The original post simply pointed out that many of Rand's beliefs were incompatible with right-wing populists who are largely Christian, otherwise known as the Tea Party.

I think that is self-evident and not truly in need of debate. Yes, she was an atheist.

As a populist movement, the Tea Party also has the usual incongruous mixture of socialist and capitalist ideals. A recent poll by The New York Times & CBS showed that more self-identified members of the 'Tea Party' are on the dole (Medicare, Medicaid, and/or Social Security) than the average non-Tea Party respondent, and more favored government services of that sort. In other words, the Tea Party isn't about to go shut down Social Security; they just don't want to pay for it. Rand would clearly be against that.

With regard to the O/P's comment on altruism, I feel he (sorry Elder!) was just incorrect. Rand was most definitely against altruism, defined as the person who coined the term defined it. She was not against 'giving' in the sense that it gave one pleasure to do so or served an identifiable good that was ultimately self-serving (like promoting the stability of society, which benefits the self, by assisting those in need of temporary assistance).

The reason, I suspect, that the Tea Party is embracing Rand is because the Tea Party is a mish-mash of conflicting viewpoints, not all of which can be rationalized or homogenized into a single set of core beliefs. They tend to be against Social Security, for example, if they have to pay for it and someone else gets it. They're very angry if it is suggested that they should lose their own Social Security benefits, which 'they paid for' even when it is demonstrated that most Social Security recipients have received back more than they paid in within 3 to 5 years. As long as the Tea Party consists of an angry ball of unfocused rage at 'other people' and their problems, they're going to embrace whomever has a sound bite that seems appropriate at the time. We're not talking about deep thinkers here.
 
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