Pages

Ryan Rand

The Meaning of Altruism

Ayn Rand

When I was a college freshman, I became completely enamoured with Ayn Rand. As a literary heroine, she surpassed so many of my early heroes.

The self defence in The Fountainhead of Rand’s hero, architect Howard York, stood on trial for dynamiting a housing project he designed.

It was such a captivating defence that I insisted on sharing it with everyone who would listen. Many of my classmates who would listen came to the same conclusions, becoming Rand fans.

Six million copies of The Fountainhead provided evidence of the following that Rand developed. Many of us couldn’t help wanting to be trial lawyers who could make as convincing arguments as Roark (and Rand) could.

Over the next decade of subscribing to Rand’s “objectivism”, I realized that I had been infected with the worst kind of selfishness. Objectivism was the term that Rand used to describe selfishness.

To Rand, altruism reflected the evil she opposed. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness, and involves doing for others without any expectation of reward.

Rand declared, “From her start, America was torn by the clash of her political system with the altruist morality.” This is a near-perfect description of the present conflict between America’s two political parties.

To her, “capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society.”

She perceived a choice between

“a morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth—or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces.”

According to Rand, “the basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.”

Martin Luther King Jr. opposed Rand’s philosophy:

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

Presaging opposition to Rand’s ideas, 19th century British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone said “Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.”

Apart from anything else, when asked about her position on the Middle East conflict Rand firmly supported Israel with a rationale that could have come out of a  typical hate-Arab speech by Benyamin Netanyahu, Abe Foxman, David Harris or any AIPAC speaker.

Her rationale: “…because it’s the advanced technological and civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages who have not changed for years and who are racists and who resent Israel because it’s bringing industry and intelligence and modern technology into their stagnation.”

Current Republican candidates for president and vice president of the U.S., Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, both subscribe to a “morality of rational self-interest.”

Ryan, an avowed fan of Rand, hasn’t grown out of the enamoured college freshman. Ryan not only tried to get all of the interns in his congressional office to read Rand’s writing, he also gave copies of her novel Atlas Shrugged to his staff as Christmas presents.

Should the Republicans win the coming elections, there’s little doubt that they will carry Rand’s philosophy and politics with them.

Economist, teacher and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith complained that “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins offers some sage advice:

“Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.”

Share Button

10 Responses to The Meaning of Altruism

  1. Ariadna Theokopoulos September 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Rand solved for some Goyim the irritating little problem of cognitive dissonance: the clash between their burning instinctive desire to follow jp’s recipe for success with remnants of Christian morality that societal norms obligated them to mime but which even the upper strata of clergy violated.
    These remnants were reduced to lexical formulae used in summons or official holdup demands: “we regret the inconvenience,” “the bank is not responsible for..” we appreciate your understanding,” “please and thank you.”

    She made the law of the jungle roamed by pack predators appear like an enlightened rationality. She omitted to mention that a cardinal point in her new morality was “whatever is good for the Tribe.”
    The simple rules to follow are: rob or be robbed; money is power and power is more money and more power; don’t just prevail over your opponent, crush and annihilate him so he never rises again (“never work in this town again”); never “turn the other cheek” but avenge mercilessly–an eye for an eyelash.
    The doctrine of selfishness faithfully applied by Americans might have turned to bite Israel’s interests but that was solved by making Israel “us”–indistinguishable because it is “civilized” like us and sharing our values which are, what d’ye know, “judeo-christian” values.

  2. happeh September 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    “Ryan, an avowed fan of Rand, hasn’t grown out of the enamoured college freshman. Ryan not only tried to get all of the interns in his congressional office to read Rand’s writing, he also gave copies of her novel Atlas Shrugged to his staff as Christmas presents.”

    So that is why Ryan was chosen as the vice presidential candidate.

    He let the Israelis who choose the administrators for the Israeli colony of America know that his favorite writer is an Israeli.

  3. Somoe September 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Brilliant article! I had never read any Rand, didn’t realise her influence was so great and her ideas so twisted. How anyone can view altruism as primitive and something to be avoided is beyond me. An astounding eye-opener! Explains much about the world as it is.

    “a morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth—or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces.”

    This, for example, is completely back to front! The consequences of rational self-interest are slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces whereas altruistic morality yields freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth – How could she have got it so wrong?!

    This was the burning question in my mind until I read AT’s comment:

    ‘She omitted to mention that a cardinal point in her new morality was “whatever is good for the Tribe.”

    The simple rules to follow are: rob or be robbed; money is power and power is more money and more power; don’t just prevail over your opponent, crush and annihilate him so he never rises again (“never work in this town again”); never “turn the other cheek” but avenge mercilessly–an eye for an eyelash.’

    Says it all really! Wonderfully distilled, Ariadna.

    Thanks to Paul for bringing to general awareness what is a very important aspect promoting understanding of this particular beast.

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos September 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      It’s a tightrope act for American politicians to subscribe to Rand’s “altruism leads to ruin, selfishness is enlightened rationality” while robbing your nation and giving their money to Israel.
      This problem will have to be solved legally to make “them” officially and legally “us.” Perhaps a presidential act could grant collective US citizenship to all Israelis who still do not hold double citizenship.
      I can envisage a moving ceremony, like those huge collective wedding ceremonies held by the Moonies. Perhaps–if there is enough space left–it could be held on the grounds of the Museum of Tolerance.
      The new citizens would be given little American flags–the new flags– (stripes and Magen David stars) to wave to the cameras.

  4. Blake September 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    Paul Balles has written some amazing articles

    Here is an archive of some of them: http://www.veteranstoday.com/author/balles/

    • Jonathon Blakeley September 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      Superb Article that explains much of America’s twisted thinking and subsequent policies.

      • Eileen Fleming September 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

        i think it is another case of ‘cognitive dissonance’ meaning many of the Rand devotees also claim to be Christian, but there is nothing about capitalism that is Christ like.

        Today JC would be a socialist or anarchist-meaning a libertarian with a conscience.

  5. who_me September 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    that photo of rand reminds me of photos of nazi bureaucrats from the 1930′s. :D

    “According to Rand, “the basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.”

    those others the plebes must service being the rich jp corporate fascists, naturally. what she was pushing was slave mentality. and the sort of bigoted jewishness atzmon described.

Leave a Reply