I'll try to list exactly why I don't like Ayn Rand. I've actually done a
fair amount of reading up on objectivism, and what it basically boils
down to is a single, central tenet: There is no objective "good." Good
refers exclusively to good for an entity. Furthermore, objectivism
explicitly denies that one man's gain must come from another's loss
(note: Due to the fact that the value of money is tied to the fact that
there is a limited supply of it, this is bullshit by definition, but
when money is circulating around frequently enough it tends to appear
that it isn't). Finally, we come to the role of the state. Certain
political scientists draw a distinction between "Positive Liberty",
which means that the state actively enables the freedom to do things by
providing the means to do them, and "Negative Liberty", which means that
the state does not actively restrict the freedom to do things by
regulating them. Rand was a huge believer in limiting the state to the
defense of negative liberty. In short, Rand is what we'd call a
classical liberal or libertarian - modern liberalism is largely defined
by its commitment to positive liberty.
On its own, this philosophy is not inherently invalid. I
disagree with it, but that doesn't make it invalid. However, like
classical liberalism, its real-world application is predicated on the
A) All people are trustworthy and honest, and they will do the right thing without being coerced to do so.
B) Coercion stems exclusively from the government.
C) All people have equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background.
D) Your position in society relates directly and exclusively to how hard you are willing to work.
These assumptions are why people who disagree with Rand, such as myself,
take every opportunity to rake objectivism over the coals. Let's pick
apart the flaws here:
A) This is blatantly not true. If it were, we wouldn't need government
anyway. Furthermore, as objectivism states that there is no objective
good, "doing the right thing" here means doing the right thing for the
individual. That second thing isn't by definition a problem, until we
come to the next assumption:
B) The cardinal sin of objectivism is coercion and the use of force to
achieve an economic end. This is where the philosophy's inherent
cognitive dissonance kicks in - the assumption that only the government
can coerce people into something. Because the philosophy assumes
people's inherent goodness, it also assumes that they won't, say,
monopolize oil and then charge through the nose for it, or hire private
troops to fire on striking workers, or underpay people so drastically
that they'll die of starvation if they don't work the insane hours you
tell them to. Unfortunately, as anyone who's studied the industrial
revolution in America can tell you, those examples were all too real.
Objectivism's only answer to the worker who is coerced by a corporation
is to redirect them to the next assumption:
C) Technically, this is true. Technically, nothing is stopping you from
going out into the world, inventing a new product, and marketing it
until you become a zillionaire with your own corporate empire. The
catch is, it's somewhat difficult to do all this when you're working a
20 hour day in an unregulated factory for a man who thinks that the only
good result of paying his workers enough to survive is that they can
make more money for him that way. It's good for him, therefore it's
good. Meanwhile, the despondent, oppressed worker with the dreams of
the future and the willingness to work his ass off to make it happen is
kicked one more time into the final, and most degrading, tenet of the
D) This is where the philosophy moves from merely fallacious and
factually flawed to being downright insulting. "But wait a moment,"
cries the objectivist, "both the man at the top and the man at the
bottom began with nothing, didn't they? Surely the fact that one is
rich and the other works for him is simply the result of one being more
skilled. If the poor man were more skilled than the rich, then the
dynamic would have been reversed." This is the underlying fallacy
behind objectivism as economic policy: We all have equal opportunity,
and the same liberty that I have, every human being has without the need
for qualification or protection of that liberty.
This aspect of objectivism is objectively wrong. Perhaps once, long
ago, we really did all start from nothing, but now the outcome of your
life is determined more by who your great grandparents were and where
you were lucky or unlucky enough to be born than it is by the result of
your efforts. Let's use me as an example. My parents both grew up
broke - my dad in South Boston, my mom in South Africa. Both were
intellectual enough to make it out and attend college, then law school.
Even with my father having been laid off for two years and counting,
and my mother working part time, my family's income is probably in the
top 1% of users on this site (no, I won't tell you what it is.) That's
all well and good for them - both are pure success stories by Rand's
standards. Both worked their asses off, and because of that hard work,
both succeeded. Now, let's factor me into the picture. I attend a
private school with a tuition higher than what most people make in a
year (before you crucify me, you should probably know that I'm on very
heavy financial aid due to the aforementioned situation with my dad.)
I've never had to work my way up from anything, and unless the economy
gets far, far worse in the next year I will never have to. And yet,
chances are very good that I'll attend a fantastic school and get a high
paying job simply because I was born lucky.
As we peel away Rand's assumptions one by one, we find that this is the
core of everything: How much of what you do with your life can you
control? I'd argue not very much. I've tutored kids from the DC public
school system who think and act at a fifth grade level and read at a
second grade level, through no fault of their own. These kids
desperately want to learn - it's entirely their choice to attend the
tutoring - but because they were born into poverty in the city with the
worst public schools in the country, they are blocked. These are kids
who learn faster than I ever did, and genuinely want to work, but can't.
The natural human reaction to injustice is to try to help the one
wronged. Rand offers another suggestion: Let them starve. Ayn Rand
followed a principle she called Rational Self-Interest. She viewed
actions as rational if and only if they were done primarily for the
benefit of the self. Consequently, she looked down on Altruism, which
as classically defined means self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Rand boils down to this: Self sacrifice is always, and by definition, a
bad thing. Self interest is a good thing when your results come from
your own work. Self interest is bad when the results come from someone
else's work. In practice, this means that to Rand, an industrialist
slicing his own salary to assist those working for him - i.e. benefiting
from the industrialist's genius - is sacrificing himself to aid in the
bad kind of self interest of his workers, and is therefore doing a bad
Hopefully, the implications of this are starting to come clear.
Unfortunately, these did not occur to Ayn Rand. Her heroes are without
exception self-made leaders, visionaries held back only by the chains of
the less visionary. The concept at work here is called the Sanction of
the Victim - Evil exists because good people allow it to exist. This
is the source of the title Atlas Shrugged - Atlas sacrifices himself to
carry the world on his back, and in shrugging and finally casting off
the world which only exists by its subjugation of him, he is virtuous
Rand sees in black and white, with no understanding of the concept of a
gray area. I've never read Atlas Shrugged, but I have suffered through
The Fountainhead and rolled on the floor laughing at the absurdity of
Anthem. Her heroes are invariably self made men, and her villains are
invariably government bureaucrats who actively try to thwart progress in
the name of a warped vision of collectivism while in reality leeching
off the progress of great men to advance themselves with no effort. The
book actually goes so far as to call them "Looters". To call these
antagonists strawmen would be to insult that term - a half-stuffed
scarecrow could be considered a photorealistic representation of Arnold
Schwarzenegger more easily than one could spot any connection between
Randian villains and the beliefs actually held by any person, alive or
Supporters of the novel have done little to help their case - one
reviewer told Rand that "You have the courage to tell the masses what no
politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your
conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of
men who are better than you."
There is a length limit on posts, and I've pretty much exhausted my
knowledge / what I can be bothered to pull off wikipedia at the moment,
so this'll be pretty much it for my rant. If anyone disagrees with me,
please feel free to let me know and come up with a good reason why I'm
wrong. I'm all ears.
My attempt at writing down my spiritual beliefs in a way that makes sense, here goes!
I found a thread in the Pit asking what everyone's belief in God was if they had one. I copied the bulk of this post from what I said there.
Do I believe in God? I always answer no to this, because anything else would be misleading. I don't believe in any kind of creator or omnipotent watcher. I don't believe in any afterlife or divine rulebook. But I don't believe that everything in this world is based on measurable science, either. I do believe in some kind of higher power, which I'll call God for the
sake of convenience, but I don't view it as a single entity or deity of
any kind. What it boils down to is that certain facets of our own individual consciousness
- our sense of right and wrong, our aspirations and dreams, our
individuality - form that higher power.
In a sense, we contain God
within ourselves as a facet of ourselves, as opposed to an external
force. At the end of the day, religious zealots and atheists alike try
to satisfy their goals to satisfy these impulses - their own sense of
what is right and what is wrong. The exact tenets of everyone's
morality differ on a few things, but the key is that at the end of the
day the source of our satisfaction is internal. Put more clearly but
less accurately, we are our each our own God, and dictate our own lives.
The closest descriptor I've come up with is a kind of spiritual
Funny: [QUOTE=l.a.ibanez123]satan is just a image that comes with rock cause christian people are like your music bad and were like **** you christian fag were gonna oppose your christian things so we choose satan and since that satan is stuck with us but its all cool cause im catholic and people are like hey you with the hair turn that shit down!!! and i is like **** you satan is gonna get you **** you!!![/QUOTE]
The United States is largely capitalist, but with many socialist
programs. Just to name a few - Medicare, medicaid, social security,
welfare, public schools, public roads, soon (knock on wood) semi-public
health care, and pretty much any other program run by the government.
A purely capitalistic state would presumably involve multiple
corporations in competition acting as their own pseudo-government,
taxes would be replaced by optional payments to these corporation in
exchange for protection by the corporation. This protection would be
carried out by an armed force paid by the corporation. Those who didn't
pay would not be protected, enabling people to do things to them that
they could not do to those who did pay for protection.
Chances are, conflicts would break out between these corporations at
some point, and the corporations would use their armed forces to force
those who opted out of the protection fees to pay them, rendering these
payments no longer optional. Eventually, each of these corporations
would stake out their own land in which everyone would be forced to pay
protection to the corporation.
If you think about it along these lines, the United States government
is nothing more than a democratically elected corporation that forces
everybody to buy protection under the law. However, I'm not in any way
saying that this is a bad thing, as the government also provides the
above socialist programs along with enough capitalism to entitle the
individual to (most of) the fruits of his or her labor.
In other news, I just pulled a possible explanation for the political history of the world out of my ass.
I was at guitar center today and noticed that they had a Bugera 6262 combo out on the floor. Since I've been looking at this amp for some time, I decided it would be a good idea to demo it for 5 minutes. I ended up sitting there for about 20 minutes, just playing every lick I could think of through it. It took them all beautifully. Great bass response, crazy gain - who could ask for anything more? Well, I can: A clean channel. This is where Bugera has really delivered. This amp cleans up beautifully. I only played it for a little while, but I think it sounds better clean than my friend's Orange OR30. The crunch button brings in a beautiful overdrive (I'm going to start calling it the AC/DC button). Last but not least, this amp sounds incredible at low volumes. While playing at bedroom volume, this amp retained much of its character instead of turning into mush like the 6505. I'm definitely getting this amp!