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Thread: Ayn Rand -- Objectivism

  1. #11
    I have a question for Ayn Rand devotees: What would Ayn Rand say we do with humans who're in society, but do not and cannot add to its productivity, such as the severely disabled or vegetables?

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Le Type Français View Post
    I have a question for Ayn Rand devotees: What would Ayn Rand say we do with humans who're in society, but do not and cannot add to its productivity, such as the severely disabled or vegetables?
    Rand would not say "we" should "do" anything with them:

    I got this from an objectivist site. It's only a clip, so it should not violate any copyright laws:

    I got this from an objectivist website:
    Question: If capitalism rewards only ability, what will happen to those who can't compete? What will happen, for example, to people with physical or mental disabilities, who can't work as hard or as fast as others?
    Answer: The first question in evaluating any social system cannot be: What happens to those who are helpless and incapable of supporting themselves? Such people, by definition, are dependent for their survival on others—on those who are capable of working and who can produce wealth. Thus, the first question must be: What happens to the thinkers and producers? What conditions make it possible for them to think and produce? The fundamental answer to that question is: freedom—the freedom to direct their own actions and to keep the property they have produced. Thus, to advocate taxes and regulations on the producers in the name of helping the disabled is a hopeless contradiction—it means helping the non-producers by throttling the producers on whom they depend.
    It should also be pointed out that, under capitalism, those who are incapable of supporting themselves are a tiny and ever-shrinking minority. The trend today is to inflate the ranks of the allegedly helpless by defining everything to be a “disability”—including such vague and non-debilitating conditions as “chronic fatigue,” allergies, and “depression.” But the reality under capitalism is that fewer and fewer conditions are disabling. In a pre-industrial society, where most people survived by heavy physical labor, an injury to a hand or leg could make a worker destitute. Today, a quadriplegic can make a living simply from the power of his mind to solve problems—and the power of computers (produced by capitalism) to help him communicate his thoughts.
    Under capitalism, therefore, the genuinely helpless are a very small minority who could easily be supported by private charities—charities made possible by a capitalist society’s extraordinary wealth. But the condition that makes this charity possible

  3. #13
    i like The Fountainhead over Atlas Shrugged as far as her novels go. objectivism, to me, is a fascinating philosophy and i find some of its tenets ring true. wrote several papers on her years ago. whether one agrees or not with their interpretation of her philosophy, she wove it into fiction in a truly masterful way.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by hardluckhitshome View Post
    Rand would not say "we" should "do" anything with them:

    I got this from an objectivist site. It's only a clip, so it should not violate any copyright laws:

    I got this from an objectivist website:
    Question: If capitalism rewards only ability, what will happen to those who can't compete? What will happen, for example, to people with physical or mental disabilities, who can't work as hard or as fast as others?
    Answer: The first question in evaluating any social system cannot be: What happens to those who are helpless and incapable of supporting themselves? Such people, by definition, are dependent for their survival on others—on those who are capable of working and who can produce wealth. Thus, the first question must be: What happens to the thinkers and producers? What conditions make it possible for them to think and produce? The fundamental answer to that question is: freedom—the freedom to direct their own actions and to keep the property they have produced. Thus, to advocate taxes and regulations on the producers in the name of helping the disabled is a hopeless contradiction—it means helping the non-producers by throttling the producers on whom they depend.
    It should also be pointed out that, under capitalism, those who are incapable of supporting themselves are a tiny and ever-shrinking minority. The trend today is to inflate the ranks of the allegedly helpless by defining everything to be a “disability”—including such vague and non-debilitating conditions as “chronic fatigue,” allergies, and “depression.” But the reality under capitalism is that fewer and fewer conditions are disabling. In a pre-industrial society, where most people survived by heavy physical labor, an injury to a hand or leg could make a worker destitute. Today, a quadriplegic can make a living simply from the power of his mind to solve problems—and the power of computers (produced by capitalism) to help him communicate his thoughts.
    Under capitalism, therefore, the genuinely helpless are a very small minority who could easily be supported by private charities—charities made possible by a capitalist society’s extraordinary wealth. But the condition that makes this charity possible
    Well, at least there's a coherent argument made in its defense. Whether you agree or disagree with Objectivism, you must admit Ayn Rand was quite an interesting philosopher and writer. I'm very glad she put her mark on society, especially speaking out in a time when the average woman was expected to be Donna Reed.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Le Type Français View Post
    I have a question for Ayn Rand devotees: What would Ayn Rand say we do with humans who're in society, but do not and cannot add to its productivity, such as the severely disabled or vegetables?
    Rand was asked this question in a q&a once, and she answered, "you would be free to help them if you want." Before you claim that to be a heartless answer, consider that any other answer would require one to advocate some form of coercion. All transfers of values, tangible or intangible, between individuals or groups in a society are either voluntary or coerced by force or the threat thereof. There is no other kind.

    Rand's answer was consistent with her radical capitalist politics that requires the government to restrict its activities to preventing, stopping, and punishing the use of physical force to coerce exchanges of values. To the degree a government succeeds in that task, all such exchanges would be voluntary. Everyone would be free to help others. No one could be coerced to help them.

    It is after all a contradiction to maintain that you have the right to your life, and simultaneously argue that anyone who becomes helpless through no fault of his own or not has a claim against your life. By what standard could such a claim be supported?

    Because the quantity and quality of our lives depends on our choices in life, and every one of us is fallible, no one of us may claim the right to make someone else's choices for them. So if you want to help the helpless, your only moral option is to leave others free to earn more wealth than they need so they can voluntarily share some of the extra with the helpless. And of course, as Rand said, you would be free to help them too if you want.

  6. #16
    Senior Member DaleB's Avatar
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    I'm not one prone to enjoy utopian fiction, particularly utopian heroic fiction espousing the superiority of an economic model of human behavior and the fantasy of the 'righteous capitalist'. I think Rand's vision of the ideal state in which the ideal man, 100% rational, conducts all business to his own pleasure, leaving others to do the same, is little more than a poor veil for gaining self-approval while aggrandizing self and ignoring others. An Objectivist, egoist utopia would quickly devolve into an anti-utopia as self interest coupled with the unrestricted ability of individuals to amass wealth yields nothing but more self aggrandizing, self approval behaviors, power hungry zealots armed 'philosophical' justification for their apathy and inaction. To ignore the social cost of apathy and to minimize human experience to an economic model did little to advance the field of philosophy or ethics. Any belief system which can be used to validate apathy toward those on the margins of society is fatally flawed, at best, and down right destructive, at worst. The result is widespread moral degeneration and bankruptcy which we witness today, all around us. People aren't 100% rational, won't ever be, and neither was Rand. Her world view and ethics are based on her own utopian ideal, of the 100% rational free man, not based on reason.
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  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by DaleB View Post
    I think Rand's vision of the ideal state in which the ideal man, 100% rational, conducts all business to his own pleasure, leaving others to do the same, is little more than a poor veil for gaining self-approval while aggrandizing self and ignoring others.
    Does this mean you would prefer a flawed state in which the flawed man, nurturing a percentage of irrationality, conducts some of his business to the detriment of his happiness, and forces others to do the same?

    Your comment is laden with characterizations, all begging for you to show that they actually apply to Objectivism (which they do not). Instead of splattering the screen with these unsubstantiated assertions, why don't you take just one or two and make of them something someone could learn something from?

    Take Rand's radical capitalism, for instance. It can be reduced to a single principle and mandate that equally implies the role of a proper government:

    No person shall initiate the use of physical force to gain, withhold, or destroy any tangible or intangible value created by or acquired in a voluntary exchange by any other person.

    I have already indicated the nature of man as a volitional being with a rational but fallible faculty as the facts this principle accommodates in a society in which the government guarantees it. And I fail to see how such a government would yield the terrible things you are ascribing to it. Or?

  8. #18
    MikelM,

    When I read DaleB's assessment, my thoughts quickly want to Dubai. As you might know, this is a fast-growing metropolis within the Arabic world. It almost seems as if that is what Rand would hold up as an example of her philosophy, but in effect, Dubai is being built off thousands of workers receiving very little compensation for their grandoise building. Your opinion?

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by DaleB View Post
    I'm not one prone to enjoy utopian fiction, particularly utopian heroic fiction espousing the superiority of an economic model of human behavior and the fantasy of the 'righteous capitalist'. I think Rand's vision of the ideal state in which the ideal man, 100% rational, conducts all business to his own pleasure, leaving others to do the same, is little more than a poor veil for gaining self-approval while aggrandizing self and ignoring others. An Objectivist, egoist utopia would quickly devolve into an anti-utopia as self interest coupled with the unrestricted ability of individuals to amass wealth yields nothing but more self aggrandizing, self approval behaviors, power hungry zealots armed 'philosophical' justification for their apathy and inaction. To ignore the social cost of apathy and to minimize human experience to an economic model did little to advance the field of philosophy or ethics. Any belief system which can be used to validate apathy toward those on the margins of society is fatally flawed, at best, and down right destructive, at worst. The result is widespread moral degeneration and bankruptcy which we witness today, all around us. People aren't 100% rational, won't ever be, and neither was Rand. Her world view and ethics are based on her own utopian ideal, of the 100% rational free man, not based on reason.
    If you dislike utopian fiction, then you have no need to worry. Rand's work isn't utopian fiction! In fact, her most famous work, Atlas Shrugged, is a dystopian novel.

  10. #20
    It is an extremely faith-based philosophy, infused with moral authority and idealism, and rigidly ideological. It is a sort of psuedo-existentialist attempt, that gets bogged down by logical fallacies from it's own arrogance. Assumes much too much about Man, his ultimate meaningfulness and purpose, and basic essence. Man, as "hero", is not predicated on any logic or reason, outside of the the selfish and self-serving desire to be, to feel, significant, and to affirm one's existence as relevant.

    It's a philosophy of fear and fixed value. Very Faith-based and Utopian, indeed.

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