Ayn Rand on Objectivism:
My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:
- Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
- Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
- Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
- The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
Deep, huh? If you read more of her writings, she really pushes the point home that she believed that man’s ultimate state was where he worked for nothing but his own self interest and had no interest in the benefit of others unless it also benefited himself in some way. This is basically the point of item 3 above.
I don’t pretend to have all of the answers and indeed I don’t have most answers to these types of philosophical questions. In the end, I think that the point of philosophy is to make you think and consider ideas that, without some other person’s effort, you likely wouldn’t have thought about yourself. So where does that leave Rand’s work and writings dealing with her philosophy? I suppose that she had financial gain from putting the effort forth to get her philosophy out there which would have made it worth her while.
In Atlas Shrugged, she goes into great depth of what is morally right. There are pages upon pages of what I call rants about the looters in government and society who practice item 3 – forcing others to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the looters in the name of the so called common good. I absolutely love the book and its basic premise, but don’t fully agree with its philosophy. For the producers of society to simply vanish and leave the world to collapse upon itself without them is certainly something that they have the right to do. In fact, as in the book it would be terribly painful to vast numbers of people but do they really have the right to ask the producers to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others as our government and many other governments around the world force them to do?
The basis of tax systems in place in the United States today is based upon this premise. Sacrifice your labor, whether it be physical, intellectual or other, for the good of others. Charity at the point of a gun.
I understand that the government needs money to operate and should have the ability to force its citizens to pay for the basics allowed for in the Constitution. The problem is that now we are forced to give up our earnings to support programs of someone else’s choosing. The community organizer president now has a much bigger pot to steal from to redistribute to his buddies. Guess what… He has his hand in our pockets while holding a gun to our head with the other hand.
My moral system calls for me to help those who need it and I allocate part of my monthly income to doing just that. On the other hand, liberals believe that the government is the one who should determine how my money is spent, not me. This is where the whole system begins to stink of socialism. The members are only there to support the whole and should not feel as though they deserve anything more than those “less fortunate” looters.
I don’t know what set me off on this again, but if you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged it is definitely worth the effort and clocking in at close to 1000 densely packed pages (in my paperback version) it’s definitely one that takes some dedication to finish. At the end there are some pretty exciting parts and while many things are resolved I was left wishing she had covered more detail of the aftermath. I guess that’s left to your own imagination.