- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I'm not an Objectivist, but I play one on T.V.

Posted by: Dr. Cruel on November 19, 1999 at 10:24:50:

In Reply to: From you? Oh goodie! more on Rand posted by Gee on November 17, 1999 at 10:13:53:

First of all, Ayn Rand was a Russian radical. Secondly, she was a neo-Marxist in many respects. I refer you to the works of one Mr. Sciabarra. Onward.

My own take on the Top Ten of Doom (no peeking at Gee’s responses beforehand, nothing up my sleeve):

1. People deserve what they get. (Biological determinism.)

Actually, people make what they can, and get what they make. Rand said that they ought to negotiate and trade for the rest, rather than taking it by force (Attila, the inevitable proletarian revolution, etc.) or via the use of fraud (the Witch Doctor, communist theology, etc.)

2. If a worker is unhappy with his or her job, then he or she should quit. If a consumer is unhappy with the conditions of a sale, then he or she should refuse to buy it (including food, etc.). All trade is voluntary, therefore equitable.

Yes, pretty much. It is in the realm of nonviolent, monopolistic coercion that I find disagreement with her oversimplification of the dynamic of trade.

3. Only individual self-interest motivates superior performance. (Businesses should forbid teamwork because it lowers the quality of individual achievement.)

There are several "I’s" in "team". They all work for renumeration, and all expect to get paid. Teamwork is the product of an increase in personal gain derived from an intelligently agreed upon collective activity, not a Five-Year Plan enforced by the NKVD.

4. Collectivism is 'altruism,' not rationalization of resources social and material. (This, along with the assertion that the Nazis were 'socialists,' is the cornerstone of Rand's shell-game epistemology.)

What is called "collectivism" by socialists and communists is exactly that, in the vilest manner that Rand described. It is not an overstatement to say, from a Christian viewpoint, that Marxism gave altruism a bad name.

5. Altruism 'is the morality of cannibals devouring one another.' (5) Rand was especially consistent in associating cooperative behavior with 'primitive' behavior, thus drawing out racist components of corollary supremacy beliefs. See the 'Witch doctor' motif in For The New Intellectual, Signet, 1961, pp. 10-62.

"Altruism" was not co-operative behavior. It was the enslavement of the potential of others to an illusionary "people". The philosophy that expoused this tenet was deliberately false, and thus, evil, as were the purveyors of this perfidious con.

6. Government intervention is simply a scheme for the 'undeserving weak' members of society to seize the hard-earned rewards of those who work harder, have more ability, are superior, etc. (Logical conclusion: U.S. military presence in oil-rich lands therefore should be withdrawn; oil companies should incur the natural free-market expenses of providing their own militaries instead of forcing taxpayers to maintain operating costs of oil companies.) This premise infers that the 'weak' are running the country (ruling class).

Actually, the role of the state was fairly simple to Rand. It was to protect the rights of property from enemies foreign and domestic, and that was about it. Thus, unless those forces were protecting valid business interests in said oil-rich countries, they should be withdrawn (since, by Marxist theory, that is after all what the capitalists were paying their taxes for. Yes?)

7. Government intervention should be limited to protecting private property (once it has been violently wrested from the 'inferior' minds of Native Americans, Mexicans, etc. and then codified as 'private property' under 'civil law'). This is a denial of dialectics (social and economic evolution), which qualifies Rand as an absolutist.

Actually, once it had been developed. The idea that Indians "owned" vast prairies simply by virtue of an exceedingly inefficient means of hunting and/or gathering was ridiculous to Rand. You owned something when you put your effort into it (the labor-theory of value rears its ugly head …). That effort was mainly a mental, rather than a physical exercise, i.e. the ‘creator’ of a railroad was the tycoon who dreamed it up, not the coolie who hammered the spikes in for a dollar a week and chop suey at sundown.

8. 'For woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero worship---the desire to look up to man.'(6) (Argued against women in the democratic process; again, a denial of dialectics.)

No doubt about it - she liked ‘em young, and she liked it rough. But Nat Branden would be more an expert on that "affair". Read Barbara’s The Passion of Ayn Rand. Illuminating. Definitely an Ally McBeal thing going on here …

9. Capitalism is presently corrupted by mixed economies (i.e. government 'safety nets' that coddle the 'undeserving weak' and 'stupid'), thus it is an 'unknown ideal.' The assumption is that complete deregulation will be best for everyone because free markets are the only way to insure that each individual has 'choice.' (7) Such assumptions logically recommend the dismantling of Social Security, product liability, even Federal Deposit Insurance (which ostensibly will prevent the next Stock Market Crash from devolving into an extended depression). Such assumptions are based on the belief that all social interactions can, and should, have a market value.

Thus libertarianism (that bastard son of Rand that she hated oh so very much). What Rand would say is that, were these programs valuable, they’d be profitable too. Thus, it should be the concern of the privatre sector, not the government.

All social actions do have a market value. But no state (not even Singapore) would go so far as Rand advocates. Not for long, anyway.

10. If people aren't happy with the reigning economic structure, they can either work harder (become 'men of ability') or leave the country (as the King George of England once suggested to Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et al.).

Exactly. It doesnt speak for those who can’t work smarter or harder (Hobsbawm’s dilemna) or those who simply … won’t. (Franklin’s answer to George the Three, et. al. was, basically, "Make me". He used to gleefully quote numbers that made the proposition ludicrous. It was a sort of revenge, for being treated so shabbily in regards to his efforts as a press agent at averting the Revolution, which he wasn’t particularly in favor of.)

In short, Objectivism is a sort of 'cliff note' intellectualism for people too busy, lazy, or stupid to actually be intellectuals.

Luckily, I have been born "too busy, lazy, or stupid". And I’d rather flip through a few goofy pages of Atlas Shrugged than peruse that multi-volume Capital "bum" theory again. At least Ayn was funny.

Doc "Yes, I did" Cruel

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