Monday, January 11, 2010

Dr. Andrew Bernstein: The Nature of the Good

The Nature of the Good as it appears in the Capitalist Manifesto by Andrew Bernstein, published by University Press of America, appears by permission of the publisher

The history of capitalism provides ample evidence from which to induce the moral and philosophical principles that form the intellectual foundation of the system.

Here is the meaning of the achievements of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the Inventive Period: If and when the advancement of human life on earth is held to be the ruling concern, men are superbly able to accomplish it. The attainments of those centuries show that the reasoning mind is the principal means by which such advancement is gained. They indicate that productiveness is a major moral virtue. Finally, to the surprise of some, they show that egoism – the theory urging a man’s pursuit of his rational self-interest – is an unsurpassed force for good.

The explication and validation of these principles will be the task of the next three chapters. [Only one chapter will be posted here]

The Conventional Moral Code

These principles have often, even generally, been opposed by modern intellectuals. Most of the leading philosophers of the past two centuries did not critique or even question the deeply entrenched ethical beliefs of mankind. They were content to accept the principle that a man must live for his brothers (altruism) – and that its political corollaries: that society as a whole is pre-eminent over the individual, who owes it unremitting service (collectivism) – and that the government must be granted the legal power to enforce an individual’s social obligations (statism).

Typical of the post-Kantian history of moral philosophy is a relentless assault on the theory that a man should properly be the beneficiary of his own actions (egoism) – and on its political corollaries, the creed that a man has an inalienable right to his own life and is not the slave of society (individualism) – and that the government’s sole legitimate function is to protect an individual’s rights (capitalism). Indeed, the altruist-collectivist-statist axis utterly dominates moral and political theory of the past 200 years.

The profoundly influential German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, was so extreme an advocate of duty, of renunciation of self-interest as the criterion of virtuous action, he claimed that if a man desired to perform the action commanded by duty, he could never be certain that his action was morally pure, i.e., that it was not selfish, hence immoral. To be certain of the moral worth of his act, it must be performed in defiance of his personal desires. This was true even of a duty to preserve one’s own life. “But if adversities and hopeless sorrow completely take away the relish for life, if an unfortunate man…wishes for death, and yet preserves his life without loving it and from neither inclination [desire] nor fear but from duty – then his maxim has a moral import,” i.e., his motivation is morally pure.

Though subsequent thinkers disagreed with Kant on a thousand specifics, they generally agreed that virtue required a full divorce of morality and self-interest. “The absence of all egoistic motivation is, therefore, the criterion of an action of moral worth,” taught German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. 1

The American philosopher, John Dewey, admired the moral code of the Soviet Union (which he visited in 1928), especially its effect on education. Unlike American educators, Dewey believed, their Soviet counterparts were not hampered in the quest for social change by “the egoistic and private ideals and methods inculcated by the institution of private property, profit and acquisitive possession.”

Dewey’s colleague, the Progressive educator, George Counts, also visited the Soviet Union during the Stalin era. Counts similarly bemoaned the individualism and selfishness of American society and admired Soviet teaching methods. Activity in Soviet schools, he enthused, “is activity with a strongly collective bias,” and: “individual success is completely subordinated to the ideal of serving the state and through the state the working class.” 2

Nor was devotion to altruism and collectivism limited to moral philosophers and educators. The eminent American historian, Charles Beard, in his essay, “The Myth of Rugged Individualism,” wrote in the Depression year of 1931: “The cold truth is that the individualist creed… is principally responsible for the distress in which Western civilization finds itself.” Beard, arguing in support of socialism, stated: “The task before us, then, is not to furbish up an old slogan, but to get rid of it, to discover how much planning is necessary, by whom it can best be done.”3

The logic of the anti-capitalist thesis is clear. If, in his personal life, a man has unchosen obligations to others – indeed, if the essence of virtue is to provide selfless service for those others – then, in the consideration of social issues, the needs of the public as a whole (others on a grand scale) take precedence over an individual’s own values, and it is morally imperative that the government be legally empowered to coerce those recalcitrant individuals too selfish to discharge their social responsibilities.

For decades now, even centuries, Western man has been inundated with an intellectual onslaught railing against self-interested action and individualism. The extent to which most professional intellectuals of the past century have embraced the altruist-collectivist-statist axis in philosophy is unimaginable to the average American, who shares none of these premises. For example, in a recent interview, Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes, two American historians who have written carefully researched accounts of the involvement by American Communists in Soviet espionage, were asked regarding the denial of Communism’s horrific crimes by many anti-capitalist historians. Their answer revealed a remarkable depth of insight:

"Many of those you speak of live in a different reality from that of the rest of us. Psychologically, they do not see what you see. They see the present and the past through a special lens. What is overwhelmingly clear to them is an imagined future collectivist utopia where antagonisms of class and race have been eliminated… poverty does not exist and social justice reigns…and an economy planned by people like themselves have produced economic abundance...You look at Soviet history and see the Gulag, the executions of the Terror, the pervasive oppression… Psychologically, the leftists you speak of see little of that. They see a Communist state that articulated their vision of the future and which sought to destroy the societies and institutions they hated. They cannot see the horror that communism actually created."4

Nor, on such moral premises, can they see the life-giving abundance that capitalism actually created.

Until the 20th century, these premises were not challenged by any thinker able to provide a systematic rational alternative. Nietzsche, for example, originated sharp, effective criticism of altruism, which he termed the “slave morality,” but he was an enemy of reason and beyond his often brilliant polemic had little positive moral guidance to offer men.

But at the same time, by the 20th century, a vast amount of historical data had accumulated regarding both the mind’s role in human life and the contrasting practical effects of the two opposing moral-political systems – egoism-individualism-capitalism and altruist-collectivism-statism.

The Fundamentals of Ethics

The exponents of capitalism wrought the extensive progress in freedom and living standards described above. The anti-individualist, collectivist backlash against the revolutionary individualism and freedom of the 19th century originated in post-Kantain Germany, let by the philosophers, G.W.F. Hegel and Karl Marx. In the 20th century, followers of their theories created the two most virulent statist regimes of history – Communist Russia and National Socialist Germany. The extreme to which individuals were compelled to sacrifice for the state in these two societies made them exact antitheses of the United States. The inevitable results of these dictatorships were enslavement, genocide and war. Both of these regimes denied men the right to their own lives and their own minds, and consequently were no match for the capitalist West. One succumbed, the other collapsed – and the truth regarding collectivism was revealed. The historical evidence necessary to identify the role of the mind in man’s life, and man’s necessity of freedom, was now fully available, if there could only arise a mind great enough to comprehend its meaning.

Such a mind did arise. It belonged to Ayn Rand.

Not surprisingly, Ayn Rand (1905-1982), born in Czarist Russia, was educated under the Communists but chose to live under the capitalists. She defected to the United States in 1926, where she lived the rest of her life. It took an individual (real name, Alisa Rosenbaum) born under one form of statism, raised under another, and who was an American by conscious choice and conviction, to finally identify the revolutionary moral and philosophical principles validating the intellectual foundations of capitalism. To do so, she went to the fundamental issues of moral philosophy.

Ayn Rand re-conceived the foundations of morality in light of the achievements of the Industrial and American Revolutions.

The field of morality – or ethics – deals with questions of right and wrong, good and bad, what men should and should not do. But what makes some action or individual good or evil? Similarly, what makes a political-economic system just or unjust? If capitalism – or any other element of human life – is to be morally judged, to be evaluated as good or evil, then men need to identify what constitutes virtue or vice, right or wrong. They need a criterion or yardstick by means of which to assess such qualities. For example, if a man held that working hard and supporting himself by honest effort was good, most human beings would doubtless agree. But what makes it good? Is it God’s will – or society’s judgement – or each individual’s belief for himself? Alternatively, is there some immutable fact of reality, some law of nature, that requires productive work of men – some fact, not the will or whim of some being or group of them?

The question regards a possible fundamental fact of reality that underlies and gives rise to men’s concepts of good and evil – it involves the relationship between facts and values, i.e., between facts and that which men consider valuable, right, proper, good.

Ayn Rand raised the questions: “Is the concept of value, of ‘good or evil’ an arbitrary human invention… unsupported by any facts of reality – or is it based on a metaphysical fact, on an unalterable condition of man’s existence?” Is ethics based solely in subjective whim – whether individual, social or divine – or is it grounded in hard objective fact? Is the field of morality merely a matter of taste, like dessert, varying from group to group or individual to individual – or is it, properly understood, a science, providing solid, fact-based principles to guide human behaviour? Asked simply: what is the relationship between values and facts? 5

The Scottish philosopher, David Hume, in a famous passage, inquired if an “ought” proposition could be derived from an “is” proposition, i.e., if judgements of good and evil, of what men ought and ought not to do, could be based on matters of fact. His answer was an unqualified “no.” For example, Hume might argue that though it is true that man has a rational mind which education enhances, the claim “education is good” does not logically follow. Hume’s point is that although he can observe an individual studying, gaining knowledge, applying it, etc., he cannot observe the “good” or the “rightness” in any of these actions; neither can he observe the “bad” or the “wrongness” in the actions of those who abjure intellectual development. He concluded that there was no evidence upon which to assert a positive relationship between facts and values.

This has been a dominant form in which the question has been raised and answered. The majority of thinkers throughout history have held that there is no positive relationship between values and facts. These philosophers argued that matters of right and wrong are decided by somebody’s will – be it God’s, Society’s, or an individual’s for himself; that the laws and the facts of nature are irrelevant to the questions of good and evil.

Ayn Rand identified that most of the leading moral philosophers of history have construed ethics as a discipline dominated by irrational whim. One school, the religionists, held that “God’s will” was the standard of good and evil – while modern thinkers have generally offered nothing more than a secularized version of religion, arguing that the “will of the people” is the source of right and wrong. Others, recognizing the authoritarianism inherent in both the religious and social approaches, claimed that the good is what each individual wills for himself. But conspicuously absent in all three historical schools of ethics are facts, reason, logic. Ethics has been predominantly a matter of whims and arbitrary decrees. The ultimate question is: are values objective? Or phrased alternatively: is there a factual basis for moral judgements? 6

To answer this affirmatively, ethics must be examined from a fresh perspective. To sweep aside the errors of the past and to make a new start, it is necessary to begin at the beginning. In the field of morality, the first questions to be answered are: What are values? What role do they play in man’s life? Why do human beings need them? All subsequent quotes and paraphrasings in the philosophy section are from the work of Ayn Rand or that of her leading student, philosopher Leonard Peikoff.

Ayn Rand defined “value” as that which one acts to gain and/or keep. The existence of values presupposes a being that requires such things and is able to attain them – a being capable of pursuing specific ends in the face of an alternative. Where no alternatives exist, she wrote, no goals, no ends, no values are possible.

The essence of Ayn Rand’s revolutionary ethics lies in her identification of the relationship between values and the nature of living beings.

There is but one basic alternative in reality, she argued, and it applies only to living beings. Inanimate matter cannot be destroyed; it changes its forms, but it does not and cannot cease to exist. But life is not unconditional. Organisms face a constant alternative: the matter of life and death. Any organism must initiate and sustain an ongoing series of actions to remain alive. If it fails to find or grow food, build shelter, etc., it will die. Its chemical constituents remain in existence, but its life is irretrievable gone. “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.”7

The issue of good or evil arises in the world only because certain actions sustain the life of an organism – and others harm or kill it. For example, men can imagine a universe devoid of life forms, a world of rock and sun and sea, but no living beings. In such a universe, Ayn Rand argued, there would be no such thing as good or evil, no values or valuing – the phenomenon as such would not arise. For what could harm or benefit the wind? Or the tides? Or a rock or a grain of sand? What could be good for it – or ill? The rational answers to all such questions are: not applicable. There are no courses of action for such inanimate objects or processes to pursue that would improve their existence, and none that could undermine it.

But for a plant, an animal, a man, conditions are fundamentally different. It a plant fails to dig its roots into the soil by means of which to gain chemical nutrients – it dies. Similarly, if a lion cannot hunt to gain the meat it needs – or if human beings do not succeed in building shelter from winter and the elements – they will perish. Living beings – and only living beings – have to attain certain ends in order to sustain their existences. Consequently, it is a profound error to hold that a man being stabbed and the knife piercing his body are similar kinds of entities merely because each is a collection of atoms in motion. Put simply, one of these entities can loose his life; the other is incapable of it. In this sense, living beings are destructible – but matter as such is not. One of these two can become inanimate – but the other already is.8

The basis of Ayn Rand’s ethics is this fundamental, irreducible, factual distinction between living and non-living entities. To remain in – or to exist – the realm of existence is the fundamental alternative faced by all living beings and only by them. This alternative between existence and non-existence is the pre-condition of valuing as such. If a being did not face such an alternative, it could not pursue goals or values of any kind.9

To concretize her point, Ayn Rand introduced the idea of an immortal, indestructible robot, “which moves and acts, but which cannot be affected by anything, which cannot be changed in any respect, which cannot be damaged, injured or destroyed.” Such a creature, she argued, would be a value-less being; for it, nothing could be good or evil, because nothing could harm or promote its existence. “Such an entity would not be able to have any values; it would have nothing to gain or to lose; it could not regard anything as for or against it, as serving or threatening its welfare, as fulfilling or frustrating its interests. It could have no interests and no goals.”10

Consequently, such a being is incapable of taking any course of action. It may be confronted by alternatives – but none lead it to purposeful action. There is no reason for it to choose one alternative as distinct from another, because the fundamental alternative that gives rise to values is absent. “There is no ‘to be or not to be’”. The need to take action applies only to a being who possesses two characteristics: the potential to be destroyed – and the ability to prevent it. The ultimate goal of preserving its life makes possible all other goals.

For example, without the constant alternative of life or death, the robot could not enjoy a good meal – for being indestructible, it has no need of nutrition. Nor could it relax by watching a movie. Relax from what? Relaxation is a necessity for beings who work to sustain their lives. But this being has no concern about the sustenance of its existence. Values exist solely to sustain life. Where there is no need to sustain life, there can be no values – no good and no evil.

“Only the alternative of live vs. death creates the context for value-oriented action, and it does so only if the entity’s end is to preserve its life. By the very nature of ‘value’, therefore, any code of values must hold life as the ultimate value.”11

Ayn Rand’s robot example was an illustration from a negative standpoint, showing the processes that an indestructible, inanimate being could not perform. It is possible to argue for the same conclusion from a positive standpoint, as well, by showing the processes that a destructible, animate being must perform (if it is to sustain its life). The existence of a bird, for example, though far simpler than that of a man, involves a series of activities it must successfully perform in order to remain alive. Externally, above all, it must learn to fly; it must hunt the worms or other food it requires; it must find the sticks or twigs it needs to build its nest; on the ground, it must be ceaselessly alert to elude cats or other predators; etc. Further, internally, its digestive, respiratory, circulatory systems, etc., must function without impairment. If any of these processes (or others) go awry, its life can be terminated. If, for example, it relaxes its vigilance for one moment as it hunts for worms, it can become the hunted and itself be killed. This is an example of merely one kind of living being from among thousands. Universally, the continuous series of actions that must be successfully performed for the purpose of sustaining life constitutes the sole basis for the existence of values.

No organism can choose the necessities of its survival. These are determined by reality – by the organism’s nature, by the essence of the kind of being that it is. In the case of any organism, the goals that it must attain and the processes that it must perform, are pre-set by nature: the requirements of its life are the fundamental fact that necessitate the ends it must reach and the steps it must take. What it is determines what it should do.

The maintenance of life requires a ceaseless process of self-sustaining action – whether to eat, to find or build shelter, to carry on involuntary life-support functions, etc. The goal of such activities, the ultimate value to be attained, is an organism’s own life.

An ultimate value is the final goal toward which all actions are but necessary steps or means. A final value provides the standard or criterion by reference to which any lesser goal is appraised. “An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is evil.”12

This is the revolutionary identification that has finally, after 2500 years of the history of philosophy, tied values – and by that means, ethics – to facts. Morality is now a science, a field of objective, rational, fact-based analysis; it is no longer a matter of will or whim or desire – whether social or personal.

Ayn Rand’s answer to Hume and the other philosophers who argue that no positive relationship can be established between values and facts is that the nature of living beings necessitates the existence of values. Therefore, moral principles are established by reference to the facts of reality. “The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do.” This represents a proper understanding of the relationship between “is” and “ought.”13

What, then, is the standard of moral value, the objective measuring rod by reference to which something may be evaluated as good or evil? The standard of value of Ayn Rand’s ethics – the standard by which one judges what is good and evil – is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man. “Since reason is man’s basic means of survival, that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil.”14

To express Ayn Rand’s point simply: all that which objectively promotes man’s life, the life of a rational being – whether a nutritious meal, an education, a love relationship, the construction of skyscrapers and cities, the invention of labour-saving devices, cures for diseases, etc. – is the good. All that which objectively harms or destroys human life – whether poison, a blow to the head, the physical destruction of skyscrapers and cities, the forcible prevention of education, religious-racial-or-political persecution, etc. – is the evil.

What has been so far established is that values – and, consequently, all judgements of good and evil – come into existence only because living beings need to reach certain goals in order to sustain their lives; and that without life – its nature and its requirements – the concepts of “value” and of “good and evil” would have no rational meaning. Since values exist only to serve life, the objective requirements of life are the standard by means of which all existents are evaluated.

The Validation of Egoism

A second critical moral principle follows logically: if values come into existence only to sustain life, then living beings must achieve values. Each one of them should, properly, seek those values its nature requires for the advancement of its own life. This provides a rational answer to one of the major questions of moral philosophy: who should be the beneficiary of values? The question is generally stated: who should be the beneficiary of an individual’s actions? There are essentially two possible answers – the individual himself – or others.

Ayn Rand’s answer is a straightforward derivation from her fundamentals: an individual himself should benefit from his actions. Egoism – each individual’s pursuit of his own self-interest – is the only proper moral code.

Several points must be made to establish egoism. The first can be stated simply: if values come into existence only to sustain life, who or what is alive? Only particular things exist in general, and only individuals live. This is abundantly clear at the non-human level of life. A plant digs its roots into the soil and turns its leaves toward the sun to gain the chemical nutrients and sunlight it needs to sustain its life. A bird must fly to further its survival. A plant or an animal: “as a living entity, each necessarily acts for its own sake; each is the beneficiary of its own actions.” These organisms necessarily, automatically and non-volitionally pursue the values that their lives require. 15

In The Fountainhead, the novel’s hero, Howard Roark, makes this point clearly: “We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.” Just as there is no collective stomach engaged in digestion – only many individual ones – so there is no collective organism whose survival depends on value achievement; there are only many individual ones, and the life of each one is sustained only be reaching those goals its nature stipulates.16

Properly understood, egoism is a corollary of man’s life as the standard of moral value: since values exist solely to promote life, each living being must pursue and gain the values its sustenance demands. Plants and animals have no choice regarding their pursuit of values. They do so automatically by a pre-programming hard-wired into their nature. “Plants and animals do not have to decide who is to be the beneficiary of their actions.” They often fail in their pursuit of values and die – but they are incapable of repudiating the quest for values that their lives depend on. Humans are the sole beings who must pursue values by choice.17

Human beings can choose between, for example, nutrition food and poison, between education and ignorance, between medical care and neglect of an ailment, etc. They can make the fundamental choice between life and death – and, similarly, the choice between policies that promote life and those that promote death. Indeed, throughout history and to this day, men have often chosen self-destructive, suicidal courses of action. Because of this, “man must choose to accept the essence of life. He must choose to make self-sustenance into the fundamental rule of his voluntary behaviour. The man who makes this choice is an ‘egotist’.

“’Egoistic,’ in the Objectivist view, means self-sustaining by an act of choice and as a matter of principle.”18

According to Objectivism, to be an egoist in the proper and highest sense of that term is a significant achievement. It involves a consistent and unbreached commitment to the values upon which a man’s life as a reasoning being depends. Because life requires the attainment of values, because good and evil come into existence only because of this fundamental fact, it follows that the essence of moral virtue is value achievement, i.e., it involves the attempt of each individual to further his own life. Virtue is egoistic.

The heroes of the Enlightenment and the Inventive Period are perfect examples of egoism. The issue goes far deeper than that James Watt, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, et al, made well-deserved fortunes from their creative work. It is even more than that they pursued the work they loved and, consequently, lived passionately and joyously. These are important and legitimate aspects of egoism. But the fundamental point is that – at least at an implicit level – they recognized that their advances were in accordance with the survival requirements of man’s life and dedicated themselves to their full development. They lived the rationally creative lives proper to men. This is the essence of egoism.

Properly conceived and implemented, egoism is profoundly and uniquely benevolent force in human life – and the great heroes of capitalism make the clearest examples. It is only because Watt, Edison, Bell, et al., fulfilled their dreams that the rest of mankind benefited. If the great creators surrendered, betrayed or sacrificed the goals so dear to them, then their life-giving work would not have been brought to fruition. They would have suffered because of abandoning their values, and the lives of millions of others would not have been enriched.

Since egoism is the striving by a man for the ends that factually promote his life as a human being, a secondary but important consequence is that other human beings are benefited by his attainment of his values, not by his sacrifice of them.

The Code of Self-Sacrifice

It has been tragically rare that the nature of egoism has been recognised in human history. The most influential moral codes taught mankind have abjured egoism or selfishness in favour of self-sacrifice in some form.

Any version of the code of self-sacrifice undercuts morality at its base. “Life requires that man gain values, not lose them. It requires assertive action, achievement, success, not abnegation, renunciation, surrender. It requires self-tending – in other words, the exact opposite of sacrifice.”19

Ayn Rand defines “sacrifice” as the surrender of a higher value for a lesser value or a non-value. For example, if a man values a new car more than anything else – if its purchase would give him more joy than any other use of his money – but he spends it instead to provide for his sick brother out of a sense of guilt, an action that brings him little or no joy, but only a drab sense of a duty discharged, then this is a sacrifice. On the other hand, if parents value their child’s education more than a new car – as most do – then the expenditures on his/her schooling is not a sacrifice. Sacrifice is the betrayal of values – and the higher the value, the worse the betrayal. Nor is it a sacrifice to pursue an exhausting course of action in support of another human being who is an enormous value, e.g., one’s husband, wife, child or dearest friend.

The lives of the great men of the Scottish Enlightenment and British Industrial Revolution provide vivid examples. Thomas Telford, John Rennie, George Stephenson, et al., came from families vastly more deprived than what would currently be described in America as “disadvantaged.” Each one endured unimaginable hardships to achieve his education and his success. Men such as these, to navigate the distance between the depths where they started and the heights they attained, necessarily scrimped and scrounged, went without, shivered with cold in unheated attics because their pennies were devoted to books, not to fuel. Conventionally, such heroic deeds are described as “sacrifices,” because they chose to do without food or winter clothing.

Ayn Rand’s analysis is much more accurate. These men were uncompromising valuers, egoists in the truest sense. Their education, their career, and their long-term success were far more important to them than the lesser values they temporarily denied themselves. It was only because they fixated on the shining goals before them that they were bale to overcome every obstacle in their path. It was these grand-scale shining goals that they refused to surrender. These were men who would not compromise with themselves nor sacrifice what was dearest. Their unbreached commitment to values gave them the strength to wage and win their personal struggles.

Values come into existence only to sustain man’s life – and because of this, it is exactly values that must not be sacrificed. In principle, man cannot live by the abandonment of his values; by this policy, he can only die. To attain values is the code of life. To sacrifice them is the code of death.

For example, human beings must strive to achieve an education, a productive career, a comfortable home, a fulfilling love relationship and/or family, a circle of intimate friends, etc. It is these values that enable a man to lead an active, flourishing, happy life. But in myriad forms the code of sacrifice dictates the surrender of these things – whether of your money to the poor – or of the man or women you love to your disapproving family – or of your mind to a Nazi, Communist or Islamist dictator, etc. Without his values, a man’s life loses all meaning; indeed, without his values, he cannot survive at all.

The nature of reality, of life, of morality demand that a man be egoistic. This is the only code of healthy, flourishing, joyous life.

Cynical Exploitativeness

But in the history of moral philosophy, egoism has often been interpreted as a code of callous victimization. It is generally believed that to be selfish means to victimize other human beings, to ignore their goals and their rights, to violate and abuse them. Is this the actual nature of egoism? Is this the code endorsed by Ayn Rand?

Egoism must be distinguished from the code that can best be described as cynical exploitativeness, the theory that human life is indistinguishable from a jungle struggle, that others are a man’s natural prey, and that they exist solely for him to use and victimize. This is the code of the liar, the cheat, the criminal, of any man who seeks gain by duplicitous, dishonest and/or coercive means. The exploiter is not interested in working for what he wants; he doesn’t seek to earn values, merely to get them.

To a significant degree, the ancien regime embodied the exploitative code. Lines of hereditary aristocrats were generally founded by conquest. The serfs were force into labour, virtually enslaved, and conscripted into the nobles’ armies to fight and die in their interminable wars seeking power and plunder. The commoners more broadly were subjugated and forced into obedience. Economic restrictions were imposed. Taxes were levied. Freethinking was proscribed. Dissenters were imprisoned. The aristocrats, whose trade was warfare, did not work, but grew rich by impoverishing the commoners, who did. It was a system of institutionalized oppression: the lords claimed innate superiority by virtue of bloodlines and thereby rightful dominion over the “inferior” masses. In a word, the commoners had no rights, but existed to serve their masters, who ruled by force.

The egoist, on the other hand, recognizes that egoism is a principle, that it applies universally, that all human beings must unobstructedly pursue their values and happiness – and that this same principle that protects him from others, protects others from him. Men must work hard and earn their values and their happiness, not seek them by victimizing innocent others. On the egoistic code of Ayn Rand, none may be granted the license to impede the quest for values undertaken by another.

Egoism is a requirement of human life; consequently, every individual needs to act in accordance with his own thinking in pursuit of his own values. The clearest expression of this aspect of the Objectivist ethics is the oath taken by the hero of Atlas Shrugged: “I swear – by my life and my love of it – that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” The theme emphasized by this oath is the evil of human sacrifice – in all of its forms, regardless of who is the victim and who the beneficiary. Ever human being is an end in himself. Ayn Rand advocated a non-sacrificial way of life – a mode of conduct that eschews both altruism and cynical exploitativeness, both the sacrifice of self to others and the sacrifice of others to self. 20

Although, historically, altruism and exploitativeness have postured as opposites, Ayn Rand pointed out that they differ only as variations on a theme. Neither have outgrown the primitive call for human sacrifice. They differ merely regarding the question of who is to be sacrificed to whom. The altruist claims that self should be sacrificed to others; the cynical exploiter claims that others should be sacrificed to self. But they agree that a non-sacrificial mode of life is neither possible nor desirable. This is why Ayn Rand categorized the two together, calling the combination: the cannibal morality.

If a man rejects the principle of egoism, it makes no moral difference which school of oppression he advocates. Whether he holds that others should be sacrificed to self – or self to others – he claims that martyrdom and victimization are inherent, ineradicable features of human life. The only question then is: a man’s life for the sake of others – or theirs for his? “This question does not represent a dispute about a moral principle. It is nothing but haggling over victims by two camps who share the same principle”. 21

Philosopher Leonard Peikoff points out that Ayn Rand emphatically rejected this viewpoint. Objectivism holds that the requirements of human life are not consonant with sacrifice in any of its forms, regardless of who is sacrificed to whom. In The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand argued that a moral individual repudiates sadism and masochism, domination and submission, the receiving of sacrifices or the making of them. What such a man stands for is “a self-sufficient ego,” i.e., an individual who thinks and lives by his own mind and effort in pursuit of his own happiness. 22

To some degree, the ethics of egoism was embraced during the Enlightenment. Thomas Jefferson wrote, after all, that men had the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” At least implicitly, the doctrine of the Rights of Man upheld the moral principle that men had the right to their own lives. The political expression of this theme was explicit: men must be liberated from the tyrannical grip of the ancien regime, freed to pursue their own goals, to seek their own profit and happiness. Though the code of egoism was neither grounded in an objective basis nor fully articulated until the work of Ayn Rand, even in its mitigated 18th century form it promoted the dramatic results described above.

Just as there is no such thing as too much health, too much intelligence or too much justice, so there is no such thing as too much egoism – for that would mean: to much pursuit of values. Properly conceived and fully implemented, it is a moral force that will transfigure the world to an even greater degree than was achieved by its causal role in the original Industrial and American Revolutions.

The Third Fundamental Moral Question

Ethics deals with three fundamental, interrelated questions. These are: What is the source of values – or the good? Who should be the beneficiary of values? By what means do human beings gain values? The answers to these questions identify the ultimate value, the specific beneficiary and the principle virtue supported by a moral system. So far answers have been provided for the first two questions. The objective requirements of life form the source of values. Each individual should strive to earn the values his own life requires. The answer to the third question remains to be discussed.

But the great creators of the Inventive Period already taught men the answer. By what means did George Washington Carver revolutionize agricultural science? How did John Roebling improve the design of suspension bridges and create his masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge? What instrument did George Eastman employ to utterly transform the field of photography? In all of these cases and in many others, the answer is: the reasoning mind. The great achievements of science, technology, industry, as well as those of philosophy, literature and the arts, that uplift men and carry them from the caves to the skyscrapers, are the province of genius, of superlative thinking, of rationality.

Man’s mind – his rational faculty – as the primary means by which he promotes his life is the subject of the next chapter.


The leading philosophers and thinkers of modern culture have generally held a moral code of self-sacrifice bitterly antithetical to capitalism’s essence.

Ayn Rand identified and validated the fundamental principles of a rational ethics that establish capitalism’s rectitude and explain its life-promoting success. The requirements of human life form the standard by which good and evil are judged. That which promotes the life of a rational being is the good; that which harms or destroys it is the evil. It follows from this that an individual should pursue a course of action that furthers his own life, i.e., that he should be egoistic.

The next logical question is: By what means will men gain the values their lives depend on?

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Social Justice

A concept becoming more apparent in today’s society, one that has run rampant in schools and universities and one that receives much approval is the concept of social justice. It is a concept that inspires the young, drives ideological politicians (particularly on the left), ecological crusades and human rights conventions. But what is social justice?

The term "social justice" was initially promoted by the Catholic Church and other institutions such as world human rights organisations, green parties and left-leaning governments. Wikipedia defines social justice as a term used to denote the principles of: economic egalitarianism, progressive taxation, income redistribution and property redistribution – all aiming to achieve equality of opportunity and equality of results. The antonym of these of course is the inequality of opportunity and results, and disparity in wealth and lifestyles between individuals. The term social justice appeals particularly to the left and to those less discerning. It is a euphemism for the abolition of private property rights, individual rights and freedom. This is accomplished by legislation permitting the government to expropriate the wealth produced by the productive in order to subordinate their products to the non-productive. This ultimately leaves the productive with little incentive to produce any more than they do and the poor more dependent on the state. For the poor this results in their stagnation; it gives them little incentive to go to work and more incentive to breed more individuals like themselves.

Now to shed a little more light on the issue of social justice, a definition of egalitarianism, which is what social justice really means, is explained here:

“Egalitarianism is a moral principle. It is the belief that all people should be equal. This does not amount to an ethical system, though. It has no standard of value. It is the belief that value should be split evenly, but it says nothing about what those values are. Egalitarianism rides piggyback on other ethical systems. Examples of egalitarianism are widespread. Hatred of inheritance is one. That some people start off life in an easier position than others is despised by egalitarianism. So is the fact that some people have nurturing families, while others don't. Equality of results manifests itself in judgments about the economy. Difference in salary can cause much resentment. The list goes on and on. Egalitarianism comes in many forms, all of which are destructive. From equality of opportunity, to equality of results, it always has a single result. *Those who have achieved values must sacrifice them to those who don't.* Egalitarianism manifest itself as hatred of those who are successful or that have managed to achieve values. Those who have achieved values are despised. They are the ones who have acted to create inequality through the pursuit of happiness. The lazy and incompetent are not to blame. They didn't cause the inequality. Egalitarianism is just a mask for the hatred of the good. It is not concerned with the well-being of anyone. It only cares that everyone is in the same position, even if that position is starving and helpless. It asks for the destruction of value so that all can be equal. The rich must be made poor. The strong must be made weak. The beautiful must be made ugly. The competent must be made incompetent. The good must be made evil. The goal of egalitarianism is death, where true equality lies.”

In the Catechism of the Holy Catholic Church, section 2425, Pope John Paul the second writes, “The church rejects the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with communism or socialism. She has likewise refused to accept in the practice of capitalism, individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labour. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.” In the encyclical “Populorum Progressio” Pope Paul the Sixth writes, “It is unfortunate that on these new conditions of society a system has been constructed which considers profit as the key motive for economic progress, competition as the supreme law of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute obligation."

Not surprisingly the Catholic Church rejects both systems - capitalism because of its tenets of individualism and the profit motive, and communism not because of its tenets but because of its atheism and oppression. Pope John Paul the Second goes on to lay out the blueprint for his “reasonable regulation of the marketplace and its associated sound economic initiatives” by offering the same Marxist blueprint that underpins the oppressive collectivist doctrines that he denounced only a few words ago. He states that “To work is a duty, to provide for one's family, one’s self and for one's community”; “Rich nations have a moral responsibility towards those that have not achieved the same wealth or who have been prevented in doing so by historical events”; “Everyone should make legitimate use of his talents to contribute his talents to the abundance that will benefit all, and to harvest the fruits of his labour”; “Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit and power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community." You may be asking at this point what is so terrible about the Pope’s sentiments. If it were merely personal opinion then perhaps there wouldn’t be a problem. However, this is the official stand of the Catholic Church on economic principles balanced on the concept of social justice.

The Catholic Church’s attitude can be made very clear when faced with a few essential questions. Does man have a right live for his own sake or is he a slave living for the sake of others? Is the standard of the good what is right and proper for an individual based on his nature as a volitional human being who possesses a rational faculty or is it based on moral objectives set out arbitrarily by legislative authorities, social or mystical dictums? Is man to think and act freely in all matters of life, both spiritual and material, or is he to live by faith and in obedience? Are economic life, productivity, the profit motive, voluntary trade and voluntary associations among individuals working toward their own prosperity, the sole purpose of the economy? Or is the economy a massive aid programme whereby individuals work hard, keep a little and then have the majority of their product expropriated by third parties, distributing it as they see fit to whomever is deemed to be in need at the time? It is clear that the Church’s position is the latter of these.

The evangelists for social justice including the Catholic Church have a very clear choice to make. Unfortunately their choice of a middle ground is an illusion. Principles such as individualism or collectivism are polar opposites and the idea that you could mix the two is an elementary mistake. The Pope, however, is an educated man and the chances of him making a mistake of this nature are highly unlikely. The so called “reasonable regulations of the market place” or “split economies” may appear as a half way measure, a platform of compromise between two extremist ideologies but in practice the legislation will always lead to collectivism. Principles are not characteristics, elements or attributes of ideas. They are the ideas and as such cannot be compromised. You either have property rights or you do not… In a split economy or fascist state you may own property but only by permission at the mercy of the government but you do not own it as a right, in the sense that you can modify or dispose of your property as you see fit without state consultation at huge personal cost.

As with the principle of property rights it is so with the principle of freedom. You either have freedom or you do not. Freedom is the ability to act or to think without the initiation of force by other individuals or a government being used against you, to stop you from acting or expressing that thought. Hence the saying, freedom of speech also means the freedom to offend with what you say. The oxymoron that is the concept of hate speech is yet another attempt by government trying to protect free speech but also attempting to protect people's sensitivities – speak freely for sure but do not offend anyone. Of course the practicalities of stating a truth in public without offending anyone such as radical Islamists are such as to render the exercise impossible.

The stance taken by the church adapting to new socio-political arenas over the years and especially after it lost its own political power is a great illustration of a long standing phenomenon of the church expressing the ability to challenge the basis of its practices but not the basis of its morality. Individualism, the profit motive, property rights, egoism are the concepts that under pin the economic system of capitalism, the one that produces the greatest amount of goods and services and human prosperity. Collectivism or altruism is the system of slavery whereby humanity is commanded to subordinate their lives, their minds and their products to either a God or a state or a society. These are the concepts that underpin communism or fascism. The church’s attempt at the middle ground is an attempt to gain the effects without observing the necessary causes and in fact stealing the causes underpinning the bloodiest of political ideologies in order to restructure capitalist economies in the hope of maintaining their productivity. The idea is to preserve the tenets of altruism and collectivism, whereby humanity is enslaved to the needs of its members in the hope that it will result in the same economic prosperity as capitalism can offer.

In the early 20th century the leaders of the communist and fascist movements denounced the theocracies because their reasoning was considered to stem from mysticism, which it did. So they threw the mystical elements out whilst preserving the epistemology and morality that gave rise to their economic principles. As Rand eloquently observed to secularise a once- theocratic error is still to commit it.

The revolt against individualism by the Church and by other collectivists particularly lefties and greenies is a misguided onslaught based upon an ancient dichotomous portrayal of man as either the exploiter or the exploited. Of a fat, rich, greedy, hedonistic, consumer that rapes the earth and the poor of their resources and opportunities - versus - a skinny, poor, servant, who dedicates his life to living for others, humble in matter and spirit, one that is exploited by greedy opportunists taking advantage of him. The idea that this is the alternative facing humanity today is false. Both portrayals, and in fact both ideologies, of fascism and communism are part of the same fraudulent coin. The former expects others to sacrifice themselves to him and the latter sacrifices himself to others. It is the image and portrayal of humanity as a sacrificial animal. The “reasonably, regulated economy” or the “split economy” that the pope and that most other people recommend today is the attempt to make sure that the burden of sacrifice output versus sacrifice input remains equitable for all humanity, still running with the conclusion that sacrifice is integral to human existence. However, there is another alternative: a much better one that doesn’t require human sacrifices, one that upholds the sovereignty of all individuals over themselves, a socio-political system of human individual rights.

Individualism is a political theory holding that each human being is an end to himself; that men have inalienable rights to their own lives, and that the sole purpose of civilised society and of government is to protect those rights. Its antithesis, collectivism, holds that society as a whole – the state – not the individual, is the unit of moral value, and that an individual’s rights and values must be subordinated to its needs and dictates. Individual rights are explained in the AR Lexicon: “A ‘right’ is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries) - a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action – which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfilment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.) The concept of a ‘right’ pertains only to action – specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men. Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive – of his freedom to act on his own judgement, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbours, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights. The right to life is the source of all rights – and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man, who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.” Hence it is the view of this author that the concept of social justice which means egalitarianism which means the compulsory disposal of the products produced by one man in order to “redistribute” them to the non-productive is a concept which is necessarily by definition the antithesis of individual rights and therefore it is anti-life.

The moral theory supporting the political notion of individualism is egoism. “Egoism exhorts a man to be the beneficiary of his own actions. That is, to pursue his interests, his fulfilments and his happiness. It emphasises the importance of the individual, of a personal life, of privately held values, of a man’s own aspirations, goals, dreams and hopes. Egoism urges men to achieve the values their lives require, not to sacrifice them” (Bernstein, 2005). Furthermore, the issue of private property including the concept of the private ownership over the means of production is the “moral principle that men own the product of their intellectual and or bodily efforts” (Bernstein, 2005). Moreover, Bernstein explains that the profit motive is “the incentive to work productively in order to increase one's economic gain. Such a motive is logically dependent on private property because it presupposes that men can retain both their earnings and the goods they purchase with them. Morally if men have a right to their own lives, then they have a right to keep the values they have gained by their own effort, the values that their lives depend on.” As the reader can see already there is a clear conflict between the principles of individual rights, private property and the profit motive and those of collectivism, wealth redistribution, progressive taxation and social justice or egalitarianism.

We are encouraged to “keep in mind that logically and historically freedom is based on egoism and reason. A principled commitment to liberty arises only when men recognise two related truths: that human beings have the inalienable right to their own lives – and that the mind is the means by which they gain knowledge and promote their lives. Therefore, men must be free to further their own lives and to employ the instrument allowing them to do so. This forms the basis of the principle of individual rights that is the essence of capitalism” (Bernstein, 2005).

“In brief, capitalism is the system of reason, egoism, and freedom. This means that it liberates the instrument by which men creates values (reason), it acknowledges their need, and rewards their attempts, to achieve their own values (egoism); and protects their legal right to pursue their own values (freedom). That men therefore produce values [and wealth] under capitalism is no mystery."

It is this system of individual rights, of laissez-faire capitalism, that society ought to repair to, not a newly fabricated variant of collectivism. It remains a bizarre mystery that capitalism to this day receives so much resentment and abuse where on the other hand global governments receive so much adulation and trust from the public. This is especially in light of the fact that collectivism has claimed the lives of over 100 million people in China and a further approximate 100 million in Russia, South America, Europe, North Korea, and Cambodia combined, some through torture killings and others through mass starvation. This is a track record resulting from state control and ownership. The blood shed in our history and the famines of the last hundred years in the countries mentioned were a result of state intervention, not capitalism. This is not a call to the Business Roundtable but a call to an uncompromising commitment to individual rights.

Ideas and quotes from the following books:
Requiem for Man, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand
The Capitalism Manifesto by Andrew Bernstein
The Ayn Rand Lexicon Volume 4

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Freedom and democracy or Maori collectivism and mysticism. You can't have both

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in February,1840. The preamble shows that it was designed to bring order to a lawless New Zealand by bringing Maori to agree to Crown sovereignty and governorship so that law and order could be established. It is well known that the treaty is not a law, but a significant contract between Crown and Maori so that one law for all could have been established. There are no such things as “treaty rights” [1]. Equal rights for Maori are given under the Bill of Rights Act, Common law and the automatic citizenship one acquires by simply being born and bred here. Despite this the treaty enjoys government and legislative attention and continues to wreck havoc with our legal, fiscal and democratic systems. It is the position of this paper to explain how this is so and to conclude that the treaty ought to be banished from the provision of government to the historical departments of our public libraries.

Contradictions and breaches of the treaty have been well known for over a hundred years. Articles one and two say on the one hand that Maori must give the queen governorship and on the other hand guarantees Maori their own governorship, added to this there are differences between the translations such as the English version claiming Crown sovereignty and the Maori version claiming Crown governorship. Furthermore, the treaty contract has been breached countless times by both Crown and Maori through land wars. For these reasons it is bizarre to continue to purport its validity and significance within our law systems today. In fact the treaty as a contract is invalid precisely because of these contradictions and breaches!

The present contemporary interpretations of the treaty are expressed as principles. These are protection, participation and partnership. However, these principles are a gross over exaggeration of the original document that sought to give the same level of citizenship and equality under the law to both Maori and Europeans. These contemporary principles are now used to guide both clinical and public health initiatives and educational policies. However, these principles are incompatible with the principles of western government which is supposed to stand up for freedom, democracy and the separation of church and state. Applying these treaty principles has had devastating effects on the western principles that our government is supposed to be upholding.

The application of these contemporary treaty principles has always meant and always will mean that Maori will have to be given handouts for every disparity noted, every human intervention that wishes to pioneer this country forward and every government structure that gets created. Recently with the new mega city council Maori claim a breach of the principles of partnership and participation if they don’t get allocated seating in local government. This means that the treaty is being used to violate the course of democracy which states that representation must be earned by voluntary vote. Another example is in the universities whereby intellectuals claim that Maori disparity is a breach of the Crown’s protection for Maori customs and culture. They strongly endorse the idea for race based handouts to be given out specializing in fixing Maori problems [3]. Legislation follows these recommendations and provides funding, compensation and tribute to Maori self-esteem (mana), spirituality and emotionality [4]. It also provides separatist policies which are packaged to give handouts to Maori for communities in a manner that accommodates their airy fairy spiritual culture - courtesy of the hard earned dollars from our pockets [5]. These movements are not promoting their said bi-culturalism but a profound separatism and they are adding fuel to a nationalist socialist movement within Maori.

Funding for Maori spirituality to be taught in schools and in their own communities around New Zealand is a serious breach of the principle of separation of church and state. This separation has been pivotal in bringing about an end to centuries of wars in our history between folks of different religious backgrounds. It brought about the peaceful co-existence of both the religious and non-religious in the modern developed world. Yet treaty activists continue to violate this too in the name of their ‘rights’ under the treaty. In funding one form of spirituality over others the government is showing an act of favouritism that doesn’t represent the majority and will open up a whole can worms bringing religion back into parliament. The government of NZ is selling out its principles of democracy, freedom and separation of church and state to a group of savages that don’t intend to stop until they have this country back in their own hands.

Fiscal Drain
The fiscal drain on our country since the TOW Act passed in 1975 has been phenomenal [2]. Settlements continue to be paid out to tribes which then invest or absorb the money; however, very few Maori actually see a dime. Disparities in health, education and crime are held to be separate issues for most iwi who hold that these are to be further managed by extra government funding. A report from the Act Party showed that the amount spent on subsidies for Maori total $7.3 billion a year. Government budgets in both the Clark and Key regimes allocate over $100 million to address Maori disparity each time. This is all done in the name of treaty rights and crown responsibility to ensure Maori statistics are equal to European. Despite this, Maori disparities such as those in health, crime and education continue to be unprecedented with most disparities reaching over twice that of their non-Maori counterparts!

None of the hard working New Zealanders were asked whether they agreed to being taken out of pocket by compulsion to fund Maori art, language, culture, spirituality, mana and other raced based policies. The stock in trade for all Maori developments by our government has been compulsion, using force, to take money off taxpayers, land off publicly owned property and giving special rights and privileges to Maori exclusively, courtesy of our money also. We all know that treaty settlements were meant to stop at $1 billion. However, billions of dollars continue to be taken out of the New Zealand economy [2]. We are suffering for it too, the OECD reports that the economic development index for New Zealand shows we have dropped from 7th place in 1975 to 22nd in 2008 [6, 7].

The provision under the government that the treaty receives must stop. Legislation which is guided and built on these modern interpretations is anti-freedom and therefore pro-slavery, it is anti-democracy and therefore totalitarian in nature and it violates the principles of separation for church and state. The implementation of the treaty in government is stifling our economy and strangling our progress by demanding the subservience of western government principles to mystical and communist principles inherent in the Maori world view. When put in the hands of a government responsible for New Zealand’s flourishing it is a monstrous document that plays havoc with our system, it is fundamentally evil. As the old saying goes, “for evil to prevail the good must appease it and stay quiet”. It is time for those of you who have always thought “this just doesn’t make sense”, “this is stupid” to stand up and say so. Be courageous and do justice to your reason. Grab hold of your public solidarity and declare that you want the treaty banished once and for all from the claws of our government.


[1] David Round. Lawyer: The Treaty of Waitangi, its terms and principles.
[3] Professor Mason Durie’s book: Whaiora: Māori health development (1998) 2nd edition.
[4] Maori Health Action plan 2006$File/whakatataka-tuarua-action-plan.pdf
[5] Ministries of Pacific Island Affairs, Education and Transport, Social Development, Local Government New Zealand and the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority. Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975, Fisheries Act 1983, State Owned Enterprises Act, (SOE) 1986, Te Ture Whenua Act 1993, Maori Fisheries Act 2004, Health and Disability Services Act 2004, Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 (instigated formation of Maori Paty.
[6] OECD indicators:
[7] NZ OECD drop to steep to climb:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Teenage suicides in New Zealand

Kasper's picture

A possible reason for why teen suicide rates may be so high in New Zealand may not be that complicated after all. Since teen suicides in NZ are correlated with low-self esteems, depression and a sense of hopelessness and despair rather than the opposite, martyrdom, perhaps Lindsay’s suspicions below shed some light on the issue.

“I stated my own suspicion that the problem came down to a failure of philosophy. Youngsters were taking their own lives at precisely the time one asks life's big questions and searches for ideals to guide one's conduct. Religion, to which one traditionally repaired for answers, was discredited and had not been replaced with a viable secular alternative – leaving a values vacuum, leading to despair. What youngster would be inspired by the jaded cynicism so manifest in so many once-thoughtful adults?” (Editorial: Politically Incorrect Show).

Life’s big questions for teenagers often consist of: Who am I? Where am I? What am I to do? How am I to do it? What does it all mean?

“Many people of student age still preserve some vestige of innocence and idealism. They haven't yet totally succumbed to the cynicism of the adult world, nor have they had their thinking processes totally subverted by their education. In the past such idealism would have been channelled mainly into Christian and/or Marxist directions. Both of these doctrines and their variants have been found to be false and evil.”(Lindsay Perigo, Logic has nothing to do with reality: Yeah right)

Today however, we are experiencing a philosophical replacement in the ecology movement, sucking in young folk, providing them with ideologies of world peace, climate change and funnily enough anti-industrialisation. Teens come home from school, educate their parents and recruit their involvement. Whilst parental involvement in facilitating purposeful and goal directed behaviours in teens are a good thing, the Marxist agenda’s hidden in so many ecological movements, will once again cause them to crumble. Teens are constantly subjugated to the philosophical void that hangs in secular society. Without a coherent structure for them to tie things together, to make sense of things around them, they are doomed to despair.

Victor Frankl says that despair can be expressed in the form of a mathematical equation: D = S - M. Despair occurs when there is suffering without meaning, that is to say, when there’s no reason for ones suffering a sense of despair ensues. Although philosophically one could dispute that the despair is reasonless, as far as the teenager is concerned, the suffering is felt to be reasonless existentially. My thoughts would be that in the place of consciousness where self-esteem, a sense of identity and philosophy should reside to guide a teen through these complex questions, lies an abyss. In this state of despair comes an immense psychological pain, confusion and possibly panic. Reality is real and so are they but they have nothing to make sense of it or to guide them through it, feeling like a walking vacuum, numb to the demands of reality and feeling the psychological pain of their perpetual confusion and loneliness. The energies once used to keep up with the demands of reality, of conceptual learning and development become thwarted. They’re fighting against the world and they’re fighting against themselves.

As Rand noted, without a philosophical system which provides a way of understanding things one lacks the where with all to be able to tie everything together, to make sense of things. MTV and secular society don’t provide anything intelligible, ideal or inspirational to the young nor do they provide the guidance needed for a young person to get through these tough questions with a strong sense of identity at the end of their journey.

I leave the reader with the rest of Lindsay’s thoughts from the Editorial of the Politically correct show.

But is a viable, secular alternative to religion possible? Can life have meaning without an after-life? If there is no god to inspire ideals and prescribe values, can there be any other source? Can man discover it? Theologians and philosophers alike have answered these questions with a resounding, No! Many professional philosophers revel in proclaiming their discipline irrelevant to the conduct of everyday life. The moral status of benevolence, they say, is no different from that of malevolence, creativity from destructiveness, honesty from deception, etc., and a belief in any of these values over their opposites is merely an arbitrary preference, with no objective validity. Ethically, it's deuces wild. The current subjectivist/relativist/nihilist morass may seem unappetising, they concede, but that too is an arbitrary judgement. There are no grounds for seeking anything better – there is no "better."
The Russian/American novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand begged to differ. It is reality itself, she argued, that confronts man with the need for morality – a code of values designed to facilitate the process of living – because it confronts him with alternatives amongst which he must choose (he has no choice about choice). At the most fundamental level the choice is: life or death. If one chooses death, there is nothing more to be said; if one chooses life, the book of morality opens, and one must fill in the pages oneself, making one's choices in the presence of alternatives to the ultimate value of: life.
To the nihilist's gleeful 'coup de grace,' 'Ah! But why should one value life in the first place?' Rand replied: The question is improper. The value of life need not and cannot be justified by a value beyond life itself; without the fact of life, the concept of value would not be possible in the first place. Value presupposes life; life necessitates value.
To the existentialists' lament that without something beyond life, life itself has no meaning, she responded similarly – the very concept of meaning can have meaning only in the context of life. Ultimately, the meaning of life, if one wants to use that terminology, is ... life – one's own life, since one cannot live anyone else's – and what other or better meaning could one conceive?
A creature endowed with immortality, denied the alternative of life or death (and their barometers, pleasure and pain) would have no need of values and could discover no meaning in anything since nothing would be of any consequence to it. It is man's nature as a living, mortal entity, unprogrammed to survive, constantly facing alternatives, endowed with a conceptual/volitional consciousness, that simultaneously makes the need for morality inescapable and the fulfilment of that need possible.
For a human being, "is" is fraught with "ought"; "ought" is an irresistible aspect of "is" – the traditional dichotomy between them is false. The task of ethical philosophy is to prevent their being artificially sundered. A successful outcome – a morality derived from and consistent with the facts of reality – is, by virtue of those very characteristics, not arbitrary (disconnected from reality) but objective (consonant with reality).
Rand went on to argue that a reality-based, life-affirming morality would concern itself not merely with survival, but survival proper to the life of the sentient, conceptual being that man is. While life might be the standard of morality, happiness, she argued, was its purpose. "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."
In Rand's novel The Fountainhead, a young man fresh out of college, looking for spiritual fuel for the journey ahead of him, is wheeling his bicycle through a forest, when he encounters the architect Howard Roark, contemplating some breath-taking new structures – his own – in a nearby clearing. "Who built this?" he asks. "I did," Roark replies. The boy thanks Roark and walks away. "Roark looked after him. He had never seen him before and he would never see him again. He did not know that he had given someone the courage to face a lifetime."
To all this country's young people, happy and unhappy alike, I would repeat what I said on 'Ralston': Read this book – and the philosophy that produced it. You have nothing to lose but your doubts; you have your dreams to win. I repeat that advice today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Original Sin

You wouldn't apologize for the color of your eyes or your skin color for that matter. You wouldn't even apologize for your height or for your gender either. Why?
A) What standard would you be apologizing towards anyway?
B) If having one of these things were a moral crime then you wouldn't be at fault as you didn't have a choice.

So it would be rather silly to ask somebody to apologize for these things. Yet this is exactly what Christianity asks you to do. Christianity wants an acknowledgment of your sins, an acceptance that you need to be cleansed. Wwithout God you are impure and dirty. Only through this cleansing can you be made clean.
At the same time Christianity states that you are born with a free will. Well I propose and so does Rand that you can't have free will when you have a natural tendency to failure. It ain't fair play. Even if you had original sin then it wouldn't be your problem. Just like your eye color it would be foolish to apologize for it.

Ayn Rand in the Lexicon explains this theory very well:

Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not.
It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim upon him—it does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the good is that which is non-man.
The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.
A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.
Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a “tendency” to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.
What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love —he was not man.
Man’s fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin. His evil, they charge, is that he’s man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives.
They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love: Is it selfish or selfless?

For centuries mysticism has held man as a sacrificial animal. From the beginning of Christianity, in the book of Genesis we have seen man split into what is called the soul/body dichotomy. Adam had 'sinned', God who was very pissed off about all this, sentenced humanity to a mortal life. In so doing morality developed in this mythology to hold man between his flesh and his soul. Following one always meant the willful rejection of the other. Everything that pertained to human desires, the mind, sex, accumulated value, money, success was lumped into the flesh part of this dichotomy. Love, spirituality, Godliness was lumped into the Soul part of this dichotomy. In order to chose the livelihood of your Soul you had to show a willful rejection, a sacrifice, of the flesh. Abraham had to show his willfulness to sacrifice his son to prove his loyalty to God, only to find God was just 'testing' (perhaps joking) and changed his mind. Jesus had to be sacrificed to show his love and loyalty to God and for our souls to save us. So it is not hard to see why Love has been preached as a selfless and sacrificial act to this day. This toxic barbarism has torn man apart for centuries. Its stock hold in trade is guilt and fear.
I refer people to the scriptures of the Christian Bible 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 Verses 1-13. I also refer people to the gospels, Mathew, mark, Luke and John to read on what Jesus' attitudes were to what he considered virtue and vice.

Ayn holds Love to be one of the most selfish things a man could engage in. The following from her lexicon.

Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character. Only a brute or an altruist would claim that the appreciation of another person’s virtues is an act of selflessness, that as far as one’s own selfish interest and pleasure are concerned, it makes no difference whether one deals with a genius or a fool, whether one meets a hero or a thug, whether one marries an ideal woman or a slut.

[Selfless love] would have to mean that you derive no personal pleasure or happiness from the company and the existence of the person you love, and that you are motivated only by self-sacrificial pity for that person’s need of you. I don’t have to point out to you that no one would be flattered by, nor would accept, a concept of that kind. Love is not self-sacrifice, but the most profound assertion of your own needs and values. It is for your own happiness that you need the person you love, and that is the greatest compliment, the greatest tribute you can pay to that person.

One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one’s own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns and derives from love.

A “selfless,” “disinterested” love is a contradiction in terms: it means that one is indifferent to that which one values.

Concern for the welfare of those one loves is a rational part of one’s selfish interests. If a man who is passionately in love with his wife spends a fortune to cure her of a dangerous illness, it would be absurd to claim that he does it as a “sacrifice” for her sake, not his own, and that it makes no difference to him, personally and selfishly, whether she lives or dies.

There are two aspects of man’s existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art.

I am referring here to romantic love, in the serious meaning of that term—as distinguished from the superficial infatuations of those whose sense of life is devoid of any consistent values, i.e., of any lasting emotions other than fear. Love is a response to values. It is with a person’s sense of life that one falls in love—with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality. One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person’s character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul—the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness. It is one’s own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one’s own basic values in the person of another. It is not a matter of professed convictions (though these are not irrelevant); it is a matter of much more profound, conscious and subconscious harmony.

Many errors and tragic disillusionments are possible in this process of emotional recognition, since a sense of life, by itself, is not a reliable cognitive guide. And if there are degrees of evil, then one of the most evil consequences of mysticism—in terms of human suffering—is the belief that love is a matter of “the heart,” not the mind, that love is an emotion independent of reason, that love is blind and impervious to the power of philosophy. Love is the expression of philosophy—of a subconscious philosophical sum—and, perhaps, no other aspect of human existence needs the conscious power of philosophy quite so desperately. When that power is called upon to verify and support an emotional appraisal, when love is a conscious integration of reason and emotion, of mind and values, then—and only then—it is the greatest reward of man’s life.

To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love—because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.

Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of unbreached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest values in the person of another—an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire. Such a man (or woman) is incapable of experiencing a sexual desire divorced from spiritual values.

Let us answer the question: “Can you measure love?”

The concept “love” is formed by isolating two or more instances of the appropriate psychological process, then retaining its distinguishing characteristics (an emotion proceeding from the evaluation of an existent as a positive value and as a source of pleasure) and omitting the object and the measurements of the process’s intensity.

The object may be a thing, an event, an activity, a condition or a person. The intensity varies according to one’s evaluation of the object, as, for instance, in such cases as one’s love for ice cream, or for parties, or for reading, or for freedom, or for the person one marries. The concept “love” subsumes a vast range of values and, consequently, of intensity: it extends from the lower levels (designated by the subcategory “liking”) to the higher level (designated by the subcategory “affection,” which is applicable only in regard to persons) to the highest level, which includes romantic love.

If one wants to measure the intensity of a particular instance of love, one does so by reference to the hierarchy of values of the person experiencing it. A man may love a woman, yet may rate the neurotic satisfactions of sexual promiscuity higher than her value to him. Another man may love a woman, but may give her up, rating his fear of the disapproval of others (of his family, his friends or any random strangers) higher than her value. Still another man may risk his life to save the woman he loves, because all his other values would lose meaning without her. The emotions in these examples are not emotions of the same intensity or dimension. Do not let a James Taggart type of mystic tell you that love is immeasurable.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Altruist Ethics

Author and Philosopher Ayn Rand wrote two best selling novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountain Head. An explanation of her philosophy can be found on "What is Objectivism". Ayn Rand's talent for looking at concepts and asking the question: what is the irreducible primary, was in my opinion one of her best talents. By the time I had finished Atlas Shrugged my life had changed drastically. I had spent 20 years in Christianity developing, building and theorizing on its theology. The concept of Altruism, which is at the core of Christianity and Immanuel Kant's ethics, was illuminated by her books and consequently I renounced my faith completely in one go because all the other ethical concepts stood on Altruism. The concept of Altruism is incompatible with reason. The mind and its reason is the core necessity of human beings in their fight for life, liberty and happiness. Ayn managed to provide an ethical base whereby ethics could be established not by faith or 'duty' but by reason. The following is an extract on why altruism is irrational and it has been taken from the Ayn Rand lexicon. Be aware that I have copied and pasted the information but have not changed its content.


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.”

There are two moral questions which altruism lumps together into one “package-deal”: (1) What are values? (2) Who should be the beneficiary of values? Altruism substitutes the second for the first; it evades the task of defining a code of moral values, thus leaving man, in fact, without moral guidance.

Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value—and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.

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.

Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you? If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others? Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so? Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away? And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it? If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it? Does virtue consist of serving vice? Is the moral purpose of those who are good, self-immolation for the sake of those who are evil?

The answer you evade, the monstrous answer is: No, the takers are not evil, provided they did not earn the value you gave them. It is not immoral for them to accept it, provided they are unable to produce it, unable to deserve it, unable to give you any value in return. It is not immoral for them to enjoy it, provided they do not obtain it by right.

Such is the secret core of your creed, the other half of your double standard: it is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the effort of others—it is immoral to consume your own product, but moral to consume the products of others—it is immoral to earn, but moral to mooch—it is the parasites who are the moral justification for the existence of the producers, but the existence of the parasites is an end in itself—it is evil to profit by achievement, but good to profit by sacrifice—it is evil to create your own happiness, but good to enjoy it at the price of the blood of others.

Your code divides mankind into two castes and commands them to live by opposite rules: those who may desire anything and those who may desire nothing, the chosen and the damned, the riders and the carriers, the eaters and the eaten. What standard determines your caste? What passkey admits you to the moral elite? The passkey is lack of value.

Whatever the value involved, it is your lack of it that gives you a claim upon those who don’t lack it. It is your need that gives you a claim to rewards. If you are able to satisfy your need, your ability annuls your right to satisfy it. But a need you are unable to satisfy gives you first right to the lives of mankind.

If you succeed, any man who fails is your master; if you fail, any man who succeeds is your serf. Whether your failure is just or not, whether your wishes are rational or not, whether your misfortune is undeserved or the result of your vices, it is misfortune that gives you a right to rewards. It is pain, regardless of its nature or cause, pain as a primary absolute, that gives you a mortgage on all of existence.

If you heal your pain by your own effort, you receive no moral credit: your code regards it scornfully as an act of self-interest. Whatever value you seek to acquire, be it wealth or food or love or rights, if you acquire it by means of your virtue, your code does not regard it as a moral acquisition: you occasion no loss to anyone, it is a trade, not alms; a payment, not a sacrifice. The deserved belongs in the selfish, commercial realm of mutual profit; it is only the undeserved that calls for that moral transaction which consists of profit to one at the price of disaster to the other. To demand rewards for your virtue is selfish and immoral; it is your lack of virtue that transforms your demand into a moral right.

A morality that holds need as a claim, holds emptiness—non-existence—as its standard of value; it rewards an absence, a defect: weakness, inability, incompetence, suffering, disease, disaster, the lack, the fault, the flaw—the zero.

Since nature does not provide man with an automatic form of survival, since he has to support his life by his own effort, the doctrine that concern with one’s own interests is evil means that man’s desire to live is evil—that man’s life, as such, is evil. No doctrine could be more evil than that.

Yet that is the meaning of altruism. Altruism holds death as its ultimate goal and standard of value.


Observe what this beneficiary-criterion of [the altruist] morality does to a man’s life. The first thing he learns is that morality is his enemy: he has nothing to gain from it, he can only lose; self-inflicted loss, self-inflicted pain and the gray, debilitating pall of an incomprehensible duty is all that he can expect. He may hope that others might occasionally sacrifice themselves for his benefit, as he grudgingly sacrifices himself for theirs, but he knows that the relationship will bring mutual resentment, not pleasure-and that, morally, their pursuit of values will be like an exchange of unwanted, unchosen Christmas presents, which neither is morally permitted to buy for himself. Apart from such times as he manages to perform some act of self-sacrifice, he possesses no moral significance: morality takes no cognizance of him and has nothing to say to him for guidance in the crucial issues of his life; it is only his own personal, private, “selfish” life and, as such, it is regarded either as evil or, at best, amoral.

Even though altruism declares that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” it does not work that way in practice. The givers are never blessed; the more they give, the more is demanded of them; complaints, reproaches and insults are the only response they get for practicing altruism’s virtues (or for their actual virtues). Altruism cannot permit a recognition of virtue; it cannot permit self-esteem or moral innocence. Guilt is altruism’s stock in trade, and the inducing of guilt is its only means of self-perpetuation. If the giver is not kept under a torrent of degrading, demeaning accusations, he might take a look around and put an end to the self-sacrificing. Altruists are concerned only with those who suffer—not with those who provide relief from suffering, not even enough to care whether they are able to survive. When no actual suffering can be found, the altruists are compelled to invent or manufacture it.

The social system based on and consonant with the altruist morality—with the code of self-sacrifice—is socialism, in all or any of its variants: fascism, Nazism, communism. All of them treat man as a sacrificial animal to be immolated for the benefit of the group, the tribe, the society, the state. Soviet Russia is the ultimate result, the final product, the full, consistent embodiment of the altruist morality in practice; it represents the only way that that morality can ever be practiced.


It is obvious why the morality of altruism is a tribal phenomenon. Prehistorical men were physically unable to survive without clinging to a tribe for leadership and protection against other tribes. The cause of altruism’s perpetuation into civilized eras is not physical, but psycho-epistemological: the men of self-arrested, perceptual mentality are unable to survive without tribal leadership and “protection” against reality. The doctrine of self-sacrifice does not offend them: they have no sense of self or of personal value-they do not know what it is that they are asked to sacrifice—they have no firsthand inkling of such things as intellectual integrity, love of truth, personally chosen values, or a passionate dedication to an idea. When they hear injunctions against “selfishness,” they believe that what they must renounce is the brute, mindless whim-worship of a tribal lone wolf. But their leaders—the theoreticians of altruism—know better. Immanuel Kant knew it; John Dewey knew it; B. F. Skinner knows it; John Rawls knows it. Observe that it is not the mindless brute, but reason, intelligence, ability, merit, self-confidence, self-esteem that they are out to destroy.

The psychological results of altruism may be observed in the fact that a great many people approach the subject of ethics by asking such questions as: “Should one risk one’s life to help a man who is: a) drowning, b) trapped in a fire, c) stepping in front of a speeding truck, d) hanging by his fingernails over an abyss?” Consider the implications of that approach. If a man accepts the ethics of altruism, he suffers the following consequences (in proportion to the degree of his acceptance):

  1. Lack of self-esteem—since his first concern in the realm of values is not how to live his life, but how to sacrifice it.

  2. Lack of respect for others—since he regards mankind as a herd of doomed beggars crying for someone’s help.

  3. A nightmare view of existence—since he believes that men are trapped in a “malevolent universe” where disasters are the constant and primary concern of their lives.

  4. And, in fact, a lethargic indifference to ethics, a hopelessly cynical amorality—since his questions involve situations which he is not likely ever to encounter, which bear no relation to the actual problems of his own life and thus leave him to live without any moral principles whatever.

By elevating the issue of helping others into the central and primary issue of ethics, altruism has destroyed the concept of any authentic benevolence or good will among men. It has indoctrinated men with the idea that to value another human being is an act of selflessness, thus implying that a man can have no personal interest in others—that to value another means to sacrifice oneself—that any love, respect or admiration a man may feel for others is not and cannot be a source of his own enjoyment, but is a threat to his existence, a sacrificial blank check signed over to his loved ones.

The men who accept that dichotomy but choose its other side, the ultimate products of altruism’s dehumanizing influence, are those psychopaths who do not challenge altruism’s basic premise, but proclaim their rebellion against self-sacrifice by announcing that they are totally indifferent to anything living and would not lift a finger to help a man or a dog left mangled by a hit-and-run driver (who is usually one of their own kind).

[Intellectual appeasement] is an attempt to apologize for his intellectual concerns and to escape from the loneliness of a thinker by professing that his thinking is dedicated to some social-altruistic goal. It is an attempt that amounts to the wordless equivalent of the plea: “I’m not an outsider! I’m your friend! Please forgive me for using my mind—I’m using it only in order to serve you!”

Whatever remnants of personal value he may preserve after a deal of that kind, self-esteem is not one of them.

Such decisions are seldom, if ever, made consciously. They are made gradually, by subconscious emotional motivation and semi-conscious rationalization. Altruism offers an arsenal of such rationalizations: if an unformed adolescent can tell himself that his cowardice is humanitarian love, that his subservience is unselfishness, that his moral treason is spiritual nobility, he is hooked.

The injunction “don’t judge” is the ultimate climax of the altruist morality which, today, can be seen in its naked essence. When men plead for forgiveness, for the nameless, cosmic forgiveness of an unconfessed evil, when they react with instantaneous compassion to any guilt, to the perpetrators of any atrocity, while turning away indifferently from the bleeding bodies of the victims and the innocent—one may see the actual purpose, motive and psychological appeal of the altruist code. When these same compassionate men turn with snarling hatred upon anyone who pronounces moral judgments, when they scream that the only evil is the determination to fight against evil—one may see the kind of moral blank check that the altruist morality hands out.