Ayn Rand, Objectivism…

April 6, 2008

I am currently reading `Atlas Shrugged` by Ayn Rand. Five pages in and not lost interest yet, which bodes well… Atlas Shrugged, weighing in at around 1,200 pages, expounds Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, which champions competition, creativity and human greatness. It is interesting to consider Satanism alongside Ayn Rand’s interpretation of Objectivism, to highlight the differences and the intrinsic similarities.

Satanism is a “brutal” as well as a selfish philosophy. It does not hold, as do the Objectivists, that the universe is “benevolent.” Satanists view the world as neutral, beyond the concepts of benevolent or
treacherous, good or evil. Satanism enables the Satanist to codify his life beyond the ethical and metaphysical ties which Objectivism offers.

“Every man is free to rise as far as he’s able or willing, but it’s only the degree to which he thinks that determines the degree to which he’ll rise. Physical labor as such can extend no further than the range of the moment. The man who does no more than physical labor, consumes the material value-equivalent of his own contribution to the process of production, and leaves no further value, neither for himself nor others. But the man who produces an idea in any field of rational endeavor—the man who discovers new knowledge—is the permanent benefactor of humanity. Material products can’t be shared, they belong to some ultimate consumer; it is only the value of an idea that can be shared with unlimited numbers of men, making all sharers richer at no one’s sacrifice or loss, raising the productive capacity of whatever labor they perform. It is the value of his own time that the strong of the intellect transfers to the weak, letting them work on the jobs he discovered, while devoting his time to further discoveries. This is mutual trade to mutual advantage; the interests of the mind are one, no matter what the degree of intelligence, among men who desire to work and don’t seek or expect the unearned.”

“In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the ‘competition’ between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of ‘exploitation’ for which you have damned the strong.”
[Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged]

Does Objectivism hold that all individuals have something valuable to contribute? What about people who lack creativity or ability? Would they fit into a pure capitalist society?
“Intelligence is not an exclusive monopoly of genius; it is an attribute of all men, and the differences are only a matter of degree. If conditions of existence are destructive to genius, they are destructive to every man, each in proportion to his intelligence. If genius is penalized, so is the faculty of intelligence in every other man. There is only this difference: the average man does not possess the genius’s power of self-confident resistance, and will break much faster; he will give up his mind, in hopeless bewilderment, under the first touch of pressure.”
[Ayn Rand, “Requiem for Man,”
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal]

Next Up on the reading list….

Next up is the Anglo-American Establishment by Prof. Carol Quigley. Having said that I am still working my way through Hope & Tragedy by the same author. Unfortunately I obtained a copy from the public Library, which I was unable to renew it once returned as it was, perhaps unsurprisingly not from the county but from the the central British Library archives. I have re-ordered , so will comment on it once I finally finish it.


4 Responses to “Ayn Rand, Objectivism…”

  1. Favela Cranshaw Says:

    How do you know so much about Objectivism, if you are only 5 pages along?

  2. fortuzero Says:

    I did not realise anything I wrote implied that I know “so much”, or even a little about Objectivism, certainly not from the perspective of Ayn Rand – I apologise if I have given the wrong impression or have been presumptious about something….but it is an area which interests me greatly, and I have spent many years doing much musing as to the nature and essence of existence, but only ever forming my own ideas and philosophies, not looking to others, until I began looking and found many others out there with similar ideas, only far more developed… Ayn is new to me, but from the little I have thus far read of her, and her philosophy and writings, the more interested I become. If you can teach me anything I am keen to learn ;) I have been reading up on Ayn in various online blogs (notably http://www.aynrand.org). I also find what I have read thus far of John Paul Satre appealing, but would not claim to have any substantial insight into his ideas as yet. I am fleshing out my own thoughts and feelings and philosophy of life with others which I find compatible or complementary.

    I have an interest in Satanism and Paganism, not only LaVeys interpretation (of Satanism), but some mixture of others…there are elements of LaVeys doctrine which do not sit well with me… I have always found these “religions” to be much misunderstood by the public at large, not least due to the effects of the mass media and it’s misleading, inaccurate depictions or interpretations of Satanism and what it really means…

    So I guess until the mix settles, I am an Agnopantheobjectipaganist – I am agnostic first and foremost…

    PS You will note that the chunks of text in that post were quotes – I believe I did include the loose source at the bottom. If not I will ammend accordingly. I’m assuming that is where you got the idea that I am more learned than I actually am when it comes to her thoughts on Objectivism.

  3. fortuzero Says:

    Also, I’m now 181 pages in, and still thoroughly engaged :) I have seen your postings around on various Objectivism/Ayn related threads/blogs and assure you I will not only read the entirety of Atlas Shrugged, but if I feel like I missed the point I will re-read, and then also I plan to read some of her other writings – I would not dream of forming any concrete opinions (and certainly not asserting them!) until I have done so.

  4. Favela Cranshaw Says:

    I must apologize for my rudeness. You are the kind of thinker that Objectivism could very well appeal to and I hope you will benefit from reading Atlas Shrugged. I read The Fountainhead and then Atlas Shrugged in 1960 at the age of 24. There was no public discussion of Ayn Rand or knowledge of her personal life. In the fall of 1960 I began attending taped lectures in Los Angeles given by the newly formed Nathaniel Branden Institute. Nowadays, I occasionally succumb to the temptation to challenge people that misrepresent the philosophy on the internet. I should not have been so touchy with your very friendly post.

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