Tag Archives: Objectivism
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—Ayn Rand Lexicon
Ayn Rand on the Mind
“The mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act—the process of reason—must be performed by each man alone. 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.
We inherit the products of the thought of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make a cart. The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane. But all through the process what we receive from others is only the end product of their thinking. The moving force is the creative faculty which takes this product as material, uses it and originates the next step. This creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator. Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.”
Ayn Rand on Evil
The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser’s intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture’s dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.
Does Anyone Know What a Right Is ?
Nobody has a clue as to what “rights” are. Government-run schools and an ignorance-peddling media have done their jobs well. People are (at best) stupid on the subject and (at worst) willfully malicious.
Most people think of “rights” as getting something for free. They think they have a “right” to free college; to health care; to a house; to retirement pensions; to child care; the list is endless. Note that everything deemed a “right” today is to be paid for by another (or by a Federal Reserve which inflates the currency to pay for its massive spending and borrowing).
You don’t have a RIGHT to anything other than sovereignty over your own life. What you do with that life is YOUR choice and YOUR responsibility. If you need or want help from someone, it’s your job to obtain it — through charity, persuasion, trading or any other VOLUNTARY means. You have no “right” to hire an armed gunman to get money or property from someone else just because you need it or want it, or just because they have more. But that’s what government has become in America, as in every prior collapsing civilization in human history. America is no longer special; our government has become a glorified Mafia.
You do not have a “right” to enslave another person. When you claim you have a right to “free” anything, then by definition you are authorizing the government to impose force to make that other person pay for it. That is NOT your right.
Ayn Rand, decades ago, gave a great description and definition of what a “right” actually is. Note how her framework is the utter opposite of the attitude now prevalent in America under America’s Marxist-fascist hybrid horror show.
Rand wrote: 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 fulfillment 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 judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, 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.
Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.
Michael J. Hurd/Ayn Rand
Today’s Tyrants Don’t Want Success; They Want YOU to FAIL
“They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself . . . . They are the essence of evil, they, those anti-living objects who seek, by devouring the world, to fill the selfless zero of their soul. It is not your wealth that they’re after. Theirs is a conspiracy against the mind, which means: against life and man.”
— Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
The Philosophical Foundations of Capitalism
The greatest era of capitalist development—the last two centuries—has taken place under the ongoing cultural influence of the philosophy of the Enlightenment.
An excerpt from Chapter 1 of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, Volume I.
This book shows that the laws and social institutions necessary to the successful functioning, indeed, to the very existence, of the division of labor are those of capitalism. Capitalism is a social system based on private ownership of the means of production. It is characterized by the pursuit of material self-interest under freedom and it rests on a foundation of the cultural influence of reason. Based on its foundations and essential nature, capitalism is further characterized by saving and capital accumulation, exchange and money, financial self-interest and the profit motive, the freedoms of economic competition and economic inequality, the price system, economic progress, and a harmony of the material self-interests of all the individuals who participate in it.
As succeeding chapters of this book will demonstrate, almost every essential feature of capitalism underlies the division of labor and several of them are profoundly influenced by it in their own operation. When the connections between capitalism and the division of labor have been understood, it will be clear that economics, as the science which studies the production of wealth under a system of division of labor, is actually the science which studies the production of wealth under capitalism. Economics’ study of the consequences of government intervention and of socialism will be shown to be merely study of the impairment or outright destruction of capitalism and the division of labor.
1. The Philosophical Foundations of Capitalism and Economic Activity
Economic activity and the development of economic institutions do not take place in a vacuum. They are profoundly influenced by the fundamental philosophical convictions people hold.15 Specifically, the development of capitalist institutions and the elevation of the level of production to the standard it has reached over the last two centuries presuppose the acceptance of a this-worldly, pro reason philosophy. Indeed, in their essential development, the institutions of capitalism and the economic progress that results represent the implementation of man’s right to life, as that right has been described by Ayn Rand—namely, as the right “to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life.”16 Capitalism is the economic system that develops insofar as people are free to exercise their right to life and choose to exercise it. As will be shown, its institutions represent, in effect, a self-expanded power of human reason to serve human life.17 The growing abundance of goods that results is the material means by which people further, fulfill, and enjoy their lives. The philosophical requirements of capitalism are identical with the philosophical requirements of the recognition and implementation of man’s right to life.
It was no accident that the gradual development of capitalist institutions in Western Europe that began in the late Middle Ages paralleled the growing influence of pro-secular, pro reason trends in philosophy and religion, which had been set in motion by the reintroduction into the Western world of the writings of Aristotle. It is no accident that the greatest era of capitalist development—the last two centuries—has taken place under the ongoing cultural influence of the philosophy of the Enlightenment.
Philosophical convictions pertaining to the reality and primacy of the material world of sensory experience determine the extent to which people are concerned with this world and with improving their lives in it. When, for example, people’s lives were dominated by the idea that the material world is superseded by another, higher world, for which their life in this world is merely a test and a preparation, and in which they will spend eternity, they had little motive to devote much thought and energy to material improvement. It was only when the philosophical conviction grew that the senses are valid and that sensory perception is the only legitimate basis of knowledge, that they could turn their full thought and attention to this world. This change was an indispensable precondition of the development of the pursuit of material self-interest as a leading force in people’s lives.
The cultural acceptance of the closely related philosophical conviction that the world operates according to definite and knowable principles of cause and effect is equally important to economic development. This conviction, largely absent in the Dark Ages, is the indispensable foundation of science and technology. It tells scientists and inventors that answers exist and can be found, if only they will keep on looking for them. Without this conviction, science and technology could not be pursued. There could be no quest for answers if people were not first convinced that answers can be found.
In addition to the emphasis on this-worldly concerns and the grasp of the principle of cause and effect, the influence of reason shows up in the development of the individual’s conceptual ability to give a sense of present reality to his life in decades to come, and in his identification of himself as a self-responsible causal agent with the power to improve his life. This combination of ideas is what produced in people such attitudes as the realization that hard work pays and that they must accept responsibility for their future by means of saving. The same combination of ideas helped to provide the intellectual foundation for the establishment and extension of private property rights as incentives to production and saving. Private property rights rest on the recognition of the principle of causality in the form that those who are to implement the causes must be motivated by being able to benefit from the effects they create. They also rest on a foundation of secularism—of the recognition of the rightness of being concerned with material improvement.
Thus, insofar as production depends on people’s desire to improve their material conditions, and on science, technology, hard work, saving, and private property, it fundamentally depends on the influence of a this-worldly, pro reason philosophy.
And to the extent that production depends on peace and tranquility, on respect for individual rights, on limited government, economic and political freedom, and even on personal self-esteem, it again fundamentally depends on the influence of a this-worldly, pro reason philosophy.
From the dawn of the Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century, the growing conviction that reason is a reliable tool of knowledge and means of solving problems led to a decline in violence and the frequency of warfare in Western society, as people and governments became increasingly willing to settle disputes by discussion and persuasion, based on logic and facts. This was a necessary precondition of the development of the incentive and the means for the stepped-up capital accumulation required by a modern economic system. For if people are confronted with the chronic threat of losing what they save, and again and again do lose it—whether to local robbers or to marauding invaders—they cannot have either the incentive or the means to accumulate capital.
During the same period of time, as part of the same process, a growing confidence in the reliability and power of human reason led to the elevation of people’s view of man, as the being distinguished by the possession of reason. Because he was held to possess incomparably the highest and best means of knowledge, man came to be regarded, on philosophical grounds, as incomparably the highest and best creature in the natural order, capable of action on a grand and magnificent scale, with unlimited potential for improvement. In conjunction with the further philosophical conviction that what actually exist are always individual concretes, not abstractions as such, and thus not collectives or groups of any kind, the elevated view of man meant an elevated view of the individual human
and his individual potential.
In their logically consistent form, these ideas led to a view of the individual as both supremely valuable—as an end in himself—and as fully competent to run his own life. The application, in turn, of this view of the individual to society and politics was the doctrine of inalienable individual rights, and of government as existing for no other purpose than to secure those rights, in order to leave the individual free to pursue his own happiness. This, of course, was the foundation of the freedom of capitalism. The same view of man and the human individual, when accepted as a personal standard to be lived up to, was the inspiration for individuals to undertake large-scale accomplishments and to persevere against hardship and failure in order to succeed. It inspired them when they set out to explore the world, discover laws of nature, establish a proper form of government, invent new products and methods of production, and build vast new businesses and brand new industries. It was the inspiration for the pioneering spirit and sense of self-reliance and self-responsibility which once pervaded American society at all levels of ability, and a leading manifestation of which is the spirit of great entrepreneurship.
Finally, the ability of economic science itself to influence people’s thinking so that they will favor capitalism and sound economic policy is also totally dependent on the influence of a pro reason philosophy. Economics is a science that seeks to explain the complexities of economic life through a process of abstraction and simplification. The method of economics is the construction of deliberately simplified cases, which highlight specific economic phenomena and make possible a conceptual analysis of their effects. For example, in analyzing the effects of improvements in machinery, an economist imagines a hypothetical case in which no change of any kind takes place in the world except the introduction of an improved machine. The truths established deductively in the analysis of such cases are then applied as principles to the real economic world. Consequently, the ability of economics to affect people’s attitudes depends on their willingness to follow and feel bound by the results of abstract reasoning. If economics is to have cultural influence, it is indispensable that people have full confidence in logic and reason as tools of cognition.
* * *
Not only are economic activity and economics as a science dependent on a pro reason philosophy in all the ways I have described, but also it should be realized that economics itself is a highly philosophical subject, potentially capable of exerting an extremely important pro reason influence on philosophy. As the subject that studies the production of wealth under a system of division of labor, economics deals both with essential aspects of man’s relationship to the physical world and with essential aspects of his relationship to other men. Indeed, the subject matter of economics can be understood as nothing less than the fundamental nature of human society and the ability of human beings living in society progressively to enlarge the benefits they derive from the physical world. For this is what one understands when one grasps the nature and ramifications of the division of labor and its effects on the ability to produce. In this capacity, economics overturns such irrationalist philosophical doctrines as the notion that one man’s gain is another man’s loss, and the consequent belief in the existence of an inherent conflict of interests among human beings. In their place, it sets the doctrine of continuous economic progress and the harmony of the rational self-interests of all human beings under capitalism, which doctrine it conclusively proves on the basis of economic law.
Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, Volume I. Copyright 2020 George Reisman. All rights reserved. The encyclopedic Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics is a required reference for every Capitalist’s library. Reisman’s treatise is now available in two volumes: Volume I (focuses on microeconomic issues) and Volume II (focuses on macroeconomic issues).
Candace Owens and the Founding Fathers
Wars are fought over land and money—never ideology. Ideology is what those that are in power use to convince those beneath them that they should be willing to lay down their lives on behalf of. Virtues and values are never practiced by those that demand we die for it.
From the Declaration of Independence:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Writes Ayn Rand on ideology:
“A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long-range action, with the principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps into a consistent course.”
“It is only by means of principles that men can project the future and choose their actions accordingly.”
“Anti-ideology consists of the attempts to shrink men’s minds down to the range of the immediate moment, without regard to past or future…above all, without memory, so that contradictions cannot be detected, & errors or disasters can be blamed on the victims.”
“In anti-ideological practice, principles are used implicitly and are relied upon to disarm the opposition, but are never acknowledged, and are switched at will, when it suits the purpose of the moment. Whose purpose? The gang’s.”
“Thus men’s moral criterion becomes, not ‘my view of the good—or of the right—or of the truth,’ but ‘my gang, right or wrong.’ ” [“The Wreckage of the Consensus,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal]
Today’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
In Chapter 6 of The Book of Revelation in the Bible, something akin to the last judgment is symbolized by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The horses are colored white, red, black, and pale; they symbolize (depending on the interpretation) conquest (or pestilence), war, famine, and death (or plague)-in sum, the end of the world. They represent God’s punishment for rejecting faith in God and may preview the second coming of Christ where all accounts will be settled.
The symbols, though not their religious base, can be applied today to the secular world. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse now are China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. These countries have five anti-freedom and anti-life characteristics in common:
- They are all totalitarian dictatorships which deny political rights to their citizens, i.e., one-party systems, government censorship of speech and the press, political trials and associated punishments, and no private property by right. Citizens are forced to live and die in obedience to the state.
- These countries are all imperialistic. They act to bully, dominate, or take over by force any countries that they can and/or do not like.
- They have a passionate fear and hatred of free countries, and especially the United States, because it has the military power to destroy any aggressor(s) and represents a moral and practical repudiation of their own rulers who gain and retain their power only at gunpoint.
- They give moral support to each other (to rationalize coercion) and often give material support to each other such as supplying food to prevent starvation and/or providing goods which free countries will not supply. They also share military technology designed to suppress rights such as weapons and spy systems.
- They all have or are building nuclear missiles with the capability of reaching the United States and other free countries. They routinely threaten to use them.
In sum, these countries have the desire and potential to destroy the free world and bring us to a new Dark Age with them as rulers—a real Apocalypse. But the antidote is not the worship of an imaginary ghost in the sky (mysticism) but rather, better horses– representing reason, individual rights, self-interest, and capitalism. The application of these principles would greatly reduce or eliminate pestilence and famine, bring peace and greatly increase life expectancy.
Free, capitalist countries deal with one another by voluntary trade and have very little if any incentive to go to war as Ayn Rand said in “The Roots of War”:
Laissez-faire capitalism is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights and, therefore, the only system that bans force from social relationships. By the nature of its basic principles and interests, it is the only system fundamentally opposed to war.
Men who are free to produce, have no incentive to loot; they have nothing to gain from war and a great deal to lose. Ideologically, the principle of individual rights does not permit a man to seek his own livelihood at the point of a gun, inside or outside his country. Economically, wars cost money; in a free economy, where wealth is privately owned, the costs of war come out of the income of private citizens — there is no overblown public treasury to hide that fact — and a citizen cannot hope to recoup his own financial losses (such as taxes or business dislocations or property destruction) by winning the war. Thus his own economic interests are on the side of peace.
In a statist economy, where wealth is “publicly owned,” a citizen has no economic interests to protect by preserving peace — he is only a drop in the common bucket — while war gives him the (fallacious) hope of larger handouts from his masters. Ideologically, he is trained to regard men as sacrificial animals; he is one himself; he can have no concept of why foreigners should not be sacrificed on the same public altar for the benefit of the same state.
The trader and the warrior have been fundamental antagonists throughout history. Trade does not flourish on battlefields, factories do not produce under bombardments, profits do not grow on rubble. Capitalism is a society of traders — for which it has been denounced by every would-be gunman who regards trade as “selfish” and conquest as “noble.” 
It should be noted that if dictatorships with advanced weapons did not exist, there would be no need for free countries to build thousands of atomic missiles—there could be a rational and safe trend toward some nuclear disarmament. Pacifist demands by leftist intellectuals for unilateral disarmament in free countries would disappear.
Given that the four bad horsemen of death are here, how should they be dealt with?
1. Acknowledge the fact that a cold war exists.
2. Arm ourselves to the teeth.
3. Cooperate with other free countries based on mutual self-interest.
4. Make a moral judgment: state publicly that dictatorships are morally wrong and that we and other free countries are morally right.
5. Assume that the bad horsemen will do everything in their power to manipulate and deceive us. Take suitable precautions.
 Ayn Rand, “Roots of War“, June 1966, The Objectivist Newsletter.