In this weeks podcast I am joined by Roslyn Ross, an author and fellow fan of the ideas of Ayn Rand. We discussed her new children’s book “City Family Farm Family” and the personal story of living half the year on a farm and the other half in a city. Roslyn spends part of the year on her farm in Nicaragua, and the rest in the city of Los Angeles.
We went on to discuss whether or not the Philosophy of Rand will survive in the context of the advancing collectivist global state. Individualism is giving way to collectivism and this can bee seen throughout western civilisation. The question is whether the core ideas of objectivism can help? Or, must they go underground until the collapse of our freedom is complete and the dust settles. Then, could reason once again emerge as the single guiding principle of genuine knowledge.
We certainly have different views. I remain convinced that rational thinking is an evolutionary advantage. Even when the rational man is surrounded by collectivists and thugs his reason will still lead him to conduct his affairs appropriately. And lets also remember that even the collectivists themselves need to use their faculty of reason to grow food, produce goods, build shelters, etc, when there is nothing left to loot.
Ross is a little more pessimistic, noting that intellectual conversations are increasingly out of fashion, people no longer read as much as they used to, and that the practice of objectivist ideas is more likely to end your genetic line than advance it! The core argument being that it all depends on the context of the group you are in. I say, the savvy objectivist isn’t in a group, but always looks for like minded people. Being an individualist does not mean that you shun other rational people in order to go it alone on your selfish path.
Roslyn has written a post script explanation of the points she was making in the conversation. I reproduce them here.
“If you listen to the podcast I want to explain something that I don’t think is very clear: For me, humanity flourishes under individualism. I define “human flourishing” by the incredible things we have invented. The ultimate in human flourishing, in my opinion, would be getting off planet Earth, so that our eggs aren’t all in one basket. There is no social system that has been invented in the history of humanity that encourages this better than individualism and capitalism, and therefore I support those things. I support meritocracy in which the best and brightest are propelled to the top and encouraged to build their visions. I support inequality of outcomes in which the best and brightest get extra resources to build their visions which often better the lives of all humans. To me, “bettering the lives of all humans” means inventing awesome new things and getting us off this planet.
What I am arguing in this podcast is that the majority of the people on Earth do not agree with me. The majority of people on Earth are collectivists. They define human flourishing as their group being on top, whatever that takes and whatever that means and however much suffering is required of other groups to get their group there.
Collectivists play a game in which they pretend that they care about all of humanity. They acquire more power for their group by defining human flourishing as equality of outcomes. They claim–and get many to believe–that human flourishing means harnessing the power of the best and brightest to care for the worst and weakest. It means taxing to death the high earners and using that money to support the lazy and the stupid. It means equality in lifestyles, in outcomes. It means that no one should work harder than anyone else because that makes things unfair.
They make all these claims while they funnel money from the top producers to their group. When they have weakened the top producers enough, when they have acquired enough power, their real colors show. Suddenly, those people who believed in equality of outcomes really believe that their group should be the rulers and everyone else should be peasants. This is the collectivist human social game that has gone on for millennia. The group plays the, “I’m just a nice little dog, an innocent victim of a big bad dog” game until they have the power. And then they are the big, bad dog, and HA HA YOU ALL FELL FOR IT! They don’t feel bad. They won. You were stupid.
That is one of the major lessons I learned in the third world country where I have spent a considerable amount of time over the last ten years. In that country, if you get robbed, it’s your fault and everyone laughs at you. If you get robbed, you weren’t careful. You deserved it. Same with cheating you, with convincing you to donate all your money or change your laws to support my tribe to the detriment of yours–if you are stupid enough to fall for that, you deserve to be enslaved.
That is just how collectivists think. They do not believe in objective truth. They believe that whatever serves their group best IS the truth. They don’t believe in humanity flourishing. They think that individualists are not sincere when they talk about caring about all people on Earth. They think the individualists are just playing a sneakier game than they are. They do not genuinely believe that individualists are, in fact, individualists.
Most people in the world are collectivists. Will you convince them through logic, rationality, and truth that the best way to “human flourishing” is individualism and capitalism? No, you will not, though they may pretend to agree with you if they think that benefits their group. They cannot agree with you because, in reality, they do not believe in logic, rationality, or truth as concepts separate from whatever serves their group. They can’t even have that discussion with you for real since they think you are just saying those things to trick them into letting your group stay on top. They can only have a pretend discussion with you in which they try to conquer with their rhetoric what they believe is your rhetoric.
And human flourishing? No, they don’t care. Humanity flourishing means their group is on top and everyone else is a peasant. Any discussion they have with you about human flourishing is really a manipulation/rhetoric game. So while you sit around frustrated because they are “irrational” they are laughing because you are an idiot. They are perfectly rational. You just don’t understand what they really want.”
Core ideas of Ayn Rand
I argue that these core ideas are enduring and clearly life serving. They even have to be practiced by collectivists to the degree that they want to survive.
Reality exists as an objective absolute – independent of any consciousness, human or divine.
- Reality is knowable and that reason is our only means to know it.
- Truth exists as an objective absolute.
- Thinking in principles, and going to the fundamentals of any issue.
- Our conceptual faculty is what defines us as human.
- Capitalism is the only sociopolitical system that declares man free and thus is the only means to peace and abundance.
- Reason and freedom are corollaries.
Ideas that will endure
Any ideas that help men identify reality correctly and therefore act appropriately are life supporting. Conversely ideas that result in men departing from the facts of reality can only ever cause suffering and destruction.
Even while such ideas are becoming increasingly unpopular, this does not mean that they are wrong. Even if an insane culture punishes those rational men who practice them, it does not mean that the ideas themselves must be forfeited. They must simply go underground along with the rational men who hold them. When the political context once again permits they will inevitably re-emerge and the pendulum will once again swing men back into adopting reason as their guiding principle.
Freedom and human flourishment are matters of science
The video above is a great presentation of the facts that support the need for human freedom. I share the view that human flourishment clearly requires freedom. This fact remains no matter who disagrees with it. Not everyone wants freedom – parasites certainly do not. But this does not alter the fact that human advancement, peace and abundance require political freedom and the use of reason as a guiding principle. Only when these conditions prevail will humanity flourish.
The only question is this. How far will the west fall and how long will it take for reason to once again be recognised as the fundamental guiding principle that it is. In other words, how much suffering does the human race require before it draws the conclusion that is commensurate with the facts of reality?
What do you think?