PART XV: Objecting to Objectivism

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“…The three values which men held for centuries and which have now collapsed are: mysticism, collectivism, altruism.  Mysticism — as a cultural power — died at the time of the Renaissance.  Collectivism — as a political ideal — died in World War II.  As to altruism — it has never been alive.  It is the poison of death in the blood of Western civilization, and men survived it only to the extent to which they neither believed nor practiced it.  But it has caught up with them — and that is the killer which they now have to face and to defeat. That is the basic choice they have to make.  If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject….” Ayn Rand

Have you wondered why the conservative political world is becoming so poisonous?  Why the libertarian end of things is lacking in morality, ethics, and basic manners?  When one understands Ayn Rand, one can understand why her followers treat others with such vile contempt.  They are simply mouthing her philosophy of selfishness.  There is no room for kindness or tolerance in her world, only selfish contempt for anyone who disagreed with her.

One of the reasons The Pink Flamingo has no patience with Libertarians, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and the likes of John Stossel is their adherence to the “teachings” of Ayn Rand.  There is no morality, only the selfish requirements that every person care for themselves.  She did not believe in altruism, rather created a dogma of selfishness.

In her world there is no room of a follower of Christ.  It is that simple.

“…The ethics of altruism, then, is an ethics based on devoting oneself to the interests of others.
Rand maintains that such an ethics leads one to take extreme situations — e.g., people drowning or caught in fires — as the central ones for ethics. She thinks that anyone who accepts the ethic of altruism will have no self-esteem, will see humanity as a tribe of doomed beggars, will see existence as fundamentally desperate and will actually become indifferent to ethics due to a preoccupation with extreme situations rather than what we might call “real life.”

Ayn Rand’s obsession with altruism might well strike one as a neurosis. Relatively few people hold such a view. Almost all moral theorists have pointed out that our own interests count as much as anyone else’s. Some important moral theorists have seen doing no harm as much more important than actively promoting the good of others. So it is not clear who is the real target of Rand’s attack. But let that pass. What is interesting is that there is a curious similarity between her theory and Singer’s even though the results are very different. Rand takes the basis of morality to include a rationally determined hierarchy of values. The rational principle of conduct, she tells us, is:

Always act in accordance with the hierarchy of your values and never sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one….”

She did not believe in helping others unless it was for her own self interest.  Her theory of selfishness runs completely counter to that of a Christian.

“…Psychologist Albert Ellis has argued that adherence to Objectivism can result in hazardous psychological effects. After he was expelled from Rand’s circle, her former lover and notable psychologist Nathaniel Branden criticized Objectivism’s “destructive moralism,” something he reports having engaged in himself when he was associated with Rand. He now argues that Rand’s fiction, if not her explicit ideas, “subtly encourages repression, self-alienation, and guilt.” However, Branden has retained his support for the fundamentals of Objectivism. In his book Honoring the Self (1983), for example, he devotes Chapter 12 to a defense of Ayn Rand’s metaethical theory, saying that, “the foundation of her ethics is an unassailable contribution,” and he has continued to cite the philosophy’s important psychological “benefits.”…”

A young woman named Alyssa Bereznak has an interesting piece in Salon about Ayn Rand and objectivism.

“…It was odd growing up, at least part-time, in an objectivist house. My father reserved long weekends to attend Ayn Rand Institute conferences held in Orange County, California. He would return with a tan and a pile of new reading material for my brother and me. While other kids my age were going to Bible study, I took evening classes from the institute via phone. (I half-listened while clicking through lolcat photos.)

Our objectivist education, however, was not confined to lectures and books. One time, at dinner, I complained that my brother was hogging all the food.

“He’s being selfish!” I whined to my father.

“Being selfish is a good thing,” he said. “To be selfless is to deny one’s self. To be selfish is to embrace the self, and accept your wants and needs.”

It was my dad’s classic response — a grandiose philosophical answer to a simple real-world problem. But who cared about logic? All I wanted was another serving of mashed potatoes.

Still, Rand’s philosophy was well-suited for the self-absorbed tween I was becoming. Her books were packed with riveting plot twists and sexy architects — easy reading as long as you skimmed over the occasional four-page, didactic rant. Around the time I began exploring Rand’s literature, my parents began an epic legal battle over child support. I felt isolated by the conflict and found solace in Rand’s message: You must rely on yourself for happiness….”

As you read her article, it becomes rather clear that Ayn Rand’s philosophy sounds a heck of a lot like Scientology.  There are those who consider Rand’s followers to be a cult.

“…In 1999, Jeff Walker published The Ayn Rand Cult. In one passage, Walker compared Objectivism to the Dianetics practices of Scientology, which is considered by many to be a cult. Both, argues Walker, are totalist sets of beliefs that advocate “an ethics for the masses based on survival as a rational being.” Walker continues, “Dianetics used reasoning somewhat similar to Rand’s about the brain as a machine. … Both have a higher mind reprogramming the rest of the mind.” Walker further notes that both philosophies claim to be based on science and logic..”

Wikipedia

Why is it so difficult for even conservatives to admit that Rand was seriously disturbed?  There is no way one can be a Christian and a follower of Rand and “objectivism”

“…“Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love.” This statement packs three assertions, any one of which could easily be dismissed on empirical grounds. It assumes that, in order to be capable of love, one must be (1) rational, (2) selfish and (3) a man of self-esteem. Does Rand provide any evidence of these assertions? No. Indeed, they are hardly plausible. If Rand’s view was true, we would have to conclude that most people are incapable of love. Would any sane person actually believe such a thing?

Humility is not a recognition of one’s failings, but a rejection of morality.” So are humble people immoral (or amoral)? Again, we are confronted by a grossly implausible statement asserted without a jot of evidence to support it. Worse, Rand seems to be trying to redefine humility without making it entirely clear that she is doing so. Rand’s tendency to redefine terms, not merely for herself, but for others, constitutes an egregious intellectual vice. She is, in effect, putting words in other people mouths and then condemning them on that basis. If she wishes to redefine humility, then she should do so in forthright terms, with a complete understanding that her usuage of the word has nothing to do with how the word is used in common discourse. And when chooses to use her redefined term in some controversial statement about matters of fact, she needs to back up her statement with factual evidence. Redefinition does not constitute proof….”

This is one sick philosophy.

Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature

Rand’s “moral philosophy”

“...Rand, a 20th century writer and philosopher, is most well known for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Rand’s fiction dramatizes her philosophical ideas, which include a secular conception of moral heroism. In creating her protagonists, Rand dispenses with the usual archetypes one typically finds in literature: chaste “Christ figures” who die for a noble cause; hopelessly deluded Don Quixotes who live in their own moral dream world; Heathcliffs who recklessly sow destruction to achieve their misguided ends. Her heroes instead turn out to be business executives, architects, scientists, and students who, rather than martyring themselves to save mankind or sacrificing their ambitions to preserve the rainforest, are heroic because they refuse to surrender claim to their independent judgment, their personal values, and their lives.

In direct contrast to the Christian conceptions of a hero, Rand’s protagonists are motivated fundamentally by a commitment to their own happiness. (Discovering the proper means of achieving true happiness turns out to require more thought than a Heathcliff would be capable of exercising.) Through those protagonists, Rand gives readers an opportunity to project a non-religious, non-altruistic image of a moral man. She shows, and then in her non-fiction explains, that morality does not require God.

Morality is a code of principles that guide human choices and actions. The purpose of morality, in Rand’s view, is to identify those principles that an individual must follow not to please God, but to achieve happiness in life. Morality is the science of living well, with life on this earth as an end in itself.

Rand advocates a morality of rational egoism. Most people assume that egoism, i.e. self-interest, is automatic, and morality’s purpose is to act as a check and limit on selfish behavior. Rand’s view is through and through the opposite—no human value is automatic, and morality’s purpose is therefore to identify precisely how to be self-interested, how to live and make choices in such a way as to achieve long-term fulfillment. In Rand’s ethic, being good and everything implied by that—honesty, integrity, justice, courage—means being good at living….”

In Rand’s world, there is no use for kindness, decency, charity, giving, and morality.  It is all about self-interest.  There is no room for the Fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.  It is all about the eternal me me me, I want I want, I need I need, give me give me.  It is a very immature philosophy.

This is completely incompatible with Rand’s objectivism and the libertarian adoption of her objectivism.  It is primarily the reason The Pink Flamingo completely rejects Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and Libertarian politics.

“…Love – “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Through Jesus Christ, our greatest goal is to do all things in love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Joy – “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Peace – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Longsuffering (patience) — We are “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Gentleness (kindness) — We should live “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7).

Goodness – “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9).

Faith (faithfulness) – “O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1). “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17).

Meekness – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Temperance (self-control) – “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7)….”

If this makes The Pink Flamingo weak, then so be it.  I would rather worship Christ than Ayn Rand.

 

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