Saturday, September 22, 2012

The most dangerous woman in America - Ayn Rand

In a full-page essay in the September 22, 2012 National Post, Terence Corcoran wrote at length about the growing influence of Ayn Rand's ideas.  Corcoran consciously chose not to actually talk about her ideas, but rather the fact that she and her ideas are increasingly vilified publicly by so many people, who I believe are reacting based on the fear of their ideology being exposed for the sacrificial and deadly thing it is.

 Before turning to her opponents, first I will provide an extremely brief summary of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, using the five primary branches of philosophy.  In metaphysics, she held that objective reality exists and that all further ideas must be derived from observable facts of reality and rejected the notion of other realities such as an after-life.  In epistemology, the division of philosophy dealing with the theory of knowledge, Objectivism holds that man's faculty of reason is his sole means of gaining knowledge about reality and it rejects all supposed forms of mystical or supernatural insight such as revelation, the word of gods or group consciousness.  In ethics Rand stated that, as is the case for all living things, man's standard of value is his own life and so his actions are properly guided by what reason tells him is in his long-term rational self-interest.  In politics, the philosophy of how man should properly live in a society, Objectivism holds that the system that protects the right of individuals to pursue his personal goals, so long as he does not initiate force against others is the only moral system, and it is best known by the term capitalism.  In aesthetics, the philosophy or art, Rand identified its purpose as the capturing of the heroic idea of man as he ought to be or could be, thus naming art projecting whim, chaos, evil, distortion, evasion or debasement as unworthy effort.  Rand's philosophy is a fully integrated and closed system, meaning all parts are connected consistently and evading one part is to evade all parts.  It is a philosophy without contradictions.

There are two types of people who hate Ayn Rand's ideas.  The first are the people Rand called "mystics of muscle".  These are people who believe it is right to force you to live as they wish because they think it will create a utopia here on Earth.  They have come in various forms and some of their best known advocates are Alexander, Genghis Khan,  Immanuel Kant, Adolf Hitler, Mao, Lenin, Stalin and Castro.  They are unified in their belief that humanity can be forced to live better at the point of a sword or a gun and consider masses of dead to be merely the price to pay for achieving eventual social perfection.  They are all socialist at root and perfect socialism requires an absolute dictator to direct society.  These days, lesser versions of these infamous names attempt to control your life through the creeping socialism of regulation and taxation.  Thus, all our municipal, provincial and national governments accept the fundamental idea that using force against innocent people is perfectly moral - for their own good.  When have you heard politicians questioning whether it is moral to force you to surrender a large part of your income for them to redistribute to others who did not earn it?  When have you heard them challenge the idea that you should be forced to pay taxes on the property you supposedly own in order to pay for services you may never use or even are opposed to?  And if you refuse to pay them, when have you heard them say it is immoral to send armed officials to seize your property and possibly arrest you?  This type of Rand hater is pervasive in today's society.

Rand called the second type "mystics of the mind".  These are the people who claim divine knowledge, assert that true virtue and happiness cannot be achieved here on Earth, but rather will be found in an after-life, an undefinable and eternal state of existence known only to those who believe not in the facts of reality, but assertions they willingly state are non-rational and unprovable.  These people claim the right to control your life by virtue of their denial of the value of life.  They are the exponents of various religions that deny objective reality, claim that reason is incapable of identifying it, claim that man's guide to action should be mystical proclamations and claim that society must be ruled by self-proclaimed followers of a supreme being.

Through most of recorded history mankind has been dominated by these mystical ideas and so progress has been stagnant, life has been miserable and short and knowledge has been limited.  The ancient Greeks, and in particular Aristotle, first identified reality and reason as a better way of life, but their ideas lacked a full moral foundation and so their ideas were lost for centuries before being rediscovered in the enlightenment and brought into the reality of human life by the industrial revolution.

Corcoran's essay concludes with "If Ayn Rand were truly making a comeback, nobody would be safe.  And everybody seems to know it."  By this he means that both the Liberals/Democrats (mystics of muscle) and Conservatives/Republicans (mystics of the mind) are legitimate targets of a philosophy that holds reality as objective instead of subjective, holds man's mind in the highest regard, holds man's life as the highest value, holds man's freedom as essential to the exercise of his mind and holds the image of heroic man as high art.  They are afraid and they should be, because when their ideas are correctly identified as anti-man and anti-life, they power over your life is removed.  Ayn Rand believed it was not too late to save the world from the mystics and I truly hope she was right because reality, reason, life and freedom are worth fighting for.

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