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Objectivist Billionaires

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Objectivist Billionaires: Where are they?

As the growing influence of Atlas Shrugged in the world is being celebrated, I wish to take this opportunity to ask a question that has bothered me more than any other question concerning Objectivists.

Since Rand’s greatest heroes were always great wealth creators, and since Objectivism is a philosophy that uniquely holds wealth creation as a virtue and fully celebrates and exalts the entrepreneur, the master creator of wealth, WHY is it that (50 years after Atlas Shrugged) one does not frequently meet wealthy Objectivists from the freest societies in the world (America, etc)?

This has never made sense to me. I would have expected that such a philosophy of achievement would produce world class achievers in all kinds of fields that Objectivists are involved in – science, business, literature, etc.

I would have expected a number of noticeable full-fledged Objectivists among the annual rich lists of Forbes magazine, among the owners of big Fortune (Magazine) 500 companies, among the profiles on achievement.org, and so on; instead, full or serious Objectivists are conspicuously missing on such lists of achievers and innovators. None of the many professing Objectivists one meets on the various online forums (and there are many), apparently exhibiting great understanding of the philosophy, ever confess to being billionaires (or even just millionaires - in a country where an impressive percentage of the population has achieved this), Nobel prize laureates, breakthrough inventors, bestselling authors, Oscar-winning movie directors and actors, or even world class architects. To me, they generally seem to be struggling in the same pool of mediocrity typical of the very average person in any country. They seem to be just as lost for purpose as the guy next door.

This, more than anything else, is responsible for the failure of the “Objectivist movement” to create as much impact on the world as it should (I believe). It does not produce as much EVIDENCE of the power of a rational philosophy (on the world) as one would expect.

Where is the evidence? Is the philosophy itself its own evidence? Is it the number of “radical converts” who have left religion and felt “freer than ever”? Has the philosophy produced any innovations besides innovations to the philosophy itself?

In short, does it have any evidence in the real world? Any gifted and ambitious Galt-like capitalist producers, whose absence in the world would be sharply felt by the economic system if they merely “shrugged”? Unfortunately, I for one have met no such people in my years of online interaction with Objectivists from the freest world. Scientology – an irrational philosophy - has apparently "produced" more such achievers of that level, from among its closest adherents.

And secretly I wonder to myself: is this what the Founder of the philosophy envisioned when she presented it to the world so dramatically? Did she envision a world of discussion groups engaged in endless combative debates over every minute detail of her writings, while clearly remaining stuck in the dark abyss of the Average? Always discussing the meaning and methods of life - but never actually LIVING?

And the most troubling of my secret questions: is it possible that no one really understands Ayn Rand? Is it possible that indeed everyone “has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life--which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world”?

Thank you.

- Blackdiamond, Founder and President - Zambia Online (www.zambia.co.zm).

Edited by blackdiamond

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The answer to your question lies in a quick glance at what it takes to amass vast personal wealth in today's economy. While the vast majority of exceptionally wealthy people implicitly accept many Objectivists principles and ideas, it is only to a point. Usually, this point is somewhere within the field of ethics. There are a few broad practices that every successful company, and the individuals who own and operate them, must engage in to experience success in today's global marketplace.

Firstly, in every country, even the in most free, being the object of political favoritism is essential. Usually, this occurs by paying lobbyists to convince lawmakers that whatever it is that your company provides is essential to the "national-interest" and persuading them to establish things like favorable trade policies, direct subsidies, contracts to produce the results of socialistic or hegemonic government programs, or exemptions from regulations that the company's would-be competitors must abide by. Another glaring example is the ridiculous growth of industries such as the legal profession, law enforcement, and military related activities that are directly dependent upon the bloated size of government.

Next, on an even more general level and to secure the first, a successful company must be popular with the public at large. This means appealing to it's popular sentiments through an emphasis on charity work, environmental concern, portrayal of the company as a servant of the consumer, or exploiting it's most basic, most hedonistic tendencies. To do this, a company must be extremely pragmatic philosophically and it's leaders extrememly compartmentalized psychologically. Think of the anti-personal responsibility, anti-big business, nihilistic trash that passes for mainstream entertainment or intellectual discourse nowadays. Or, just watch televsion for a few minutes before you come across the advertising campaign of some multinational corporation emphasizing some sort of altruistic or collectivist policy it follows.

And lastly, as a result of the economic climate climate created by these first two ethoses (sp?), most new, truly radical innovation and exponential wealth-accumulation occurs outside of the status quo through entirely new ways of doing things and thinking about the world. While unfortunately both of these fields are also riddled with a high degree of extraneous superficiality and posses their fair share of pragmatic, regulation-exploiting niches, the bedrock of the high tech and financial services sectors has become the most fertile ground for unadulterated innovation in the modern economy. Contrary to what many Objectivists, who have an understandable love for and interest in the cutting-edge, might believe, this sort of development isn't the result of simple economic progress as much as it is the forcibly-prevented growth and maturation of older, less complex industries who are bogged down in mazes of regulation, political enmeshment, and backwards thinking about ethics and public relations.

Unfortunately, it is simply impossible in every country of the world to be an active, open, consistent Objectivist and still retain the freedom to operate one's business, the good will of the general public, and a profit margin. It is impossible to calculate the true costs that statism has levied against overall human progress, but it would be safe to assume that there are literally thousands of rational, intelligent, talented people who have become anti-philosophical, pragmatic, pseudo-altruists all for the sake of quicker, shakier fortunes.

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None of the many professing Objectivists one meets on the various online forums (and there are many), apparently exhibiting great understanding of the philosophy, ever confess to being billionaires (or even just millionaires - in a country where an impressive percentage of the population has achieved this)...They seem to be just as lost for purpose as the guy next door.

Um, probably online forums are not the best place to find billionaires of any kind. I'll let you fill in the reasons for yourself.

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Since Rand’s greatest heroes were always great wealth creators, and since Objectivism is a philosophy that uniquely holds wealth creation as a virtue and fully celebrates and exalts the entrepreneur, the master creator of wealth, WHY is it that (50 years after Atlas Shrugged) one does not frequently meet wealthy Objectivists from the freest societies in the world (America, etc)?

Because the goal of Objectivism isn't a method of wealth creation - it is the recognition that wealth creation is the good, not the evil, in this world, and that the creation of wealth is merely an extension of man's innate freedom to produce. I am an Objectivist, at least a-student-of, or one in so much as I agree with what I understand, but I am no great businessman. I don't have the time or interest to invest in building up a company and in being rich. It offers no interest to me. In terms of wealth creation, I am, yes, average... mediocre!

Understanding Objectivism doesn't automatically mean being rich, and not being an Objectivist doesn't mean poverty, as the real world examples prove. What it means is that one identifies the correct method by which wealth is created, and the correct terms under which men should deal (i.e. their own). If the great producers like Bill Gates realised where wealth came from, what their constant bowing to Anti-trust laws mean and how men should deal with one another - they would be disgusted!

But who are we to judge other people and what they should do?

None of the many professing Objectivists one meets on the various online forums (and there are many), apparently exhibiting great understanding of the philosophy, ever confess to being billionaires (or even just millionaires - in a country where an impressive percentage of the population has achieved this), Nobel prize laureates, breakthrough inventors, bestselling authors, Oscar-winning movie directors and actors, or even world class architects. To me, they generally seem to be struggling in the same pool of mediocrity typical of the very average person in any country. They seem to be just as lost for purpose as the guy next door.

I take issue with this. I know for myself, that this is true, but only in the sense that I'm 18 years old and I've only just started recovering from depression, from regular anxiety attacks and from very mixed and very, very wrong premises - all as a result of checking my own philosophy and of applying one of rationality and reason, i.e. Objectivism.

Now, I only know a few things about the personal lives of a few people here, and I know many of them know what they want and need to do, and are going out to achieve it. Jenni, for example, left her home a year ago, and is living in New York, working towards her first published Novel. David Odden is an accomplished linguist and witty humourist to boot. Kendall is moving towards owning his own Chemicals company (I forget what the field is exactly). Kane and Dwayne are writing novels, both of which I'm excited to read.

I compare the people I admire here, to everyone else I've met in my life, and with the exception of the people that I've met who lived implicitly with Objectivist virtues, I can honestly say, that these people here know far, far more about what they want to do and how they are going to do it.

This, more than anything else, is responsible for the failure of the “Objectivist movement” to create as much impact on the world as it should (I believe). It does not produce as much EVIDENCE of the power of a rational philosophy (on the world) as one would expect.

The failure? You've not been reading the news recently, have you? I, personally, feel a lot more can be done - the question is, if you want to see those changes done, like I, why don't you get out there and do them? Make that impact on the world yourself, then!

Where is the evidence? Is the philosophy itself its own evidence? Is it the number of “radical converts” who have left religion and felt “freer than ever”? Has the philosophy produced any innovations besides innovations to the philosophy itself?
One could point to people like Nathaniel Branden (whatever his errors may be) and Ellen Kenner, who have cured many people by applying Objectivist principles to solving the psycho-epistemological issues in their patients' lives.

What exactly are you looking for? Evidence that Objectivism produces John Galts - supreme producers? There is only one thing that Objectivism, properly applied and integrated, produces: heroes; pinnacles of morality.

In short, does it have any evidence in the real world? Any gifted and ambitious Galt-like capitalist producers, whose absence in the world would be sharply felt by the economic system if they merely “shrugged”? Unfortunately, I for one have met no such people in my years of online interaction with Objectivists from the freest world. Scientology – an irrational philosophy - has apparently "produced" more such achievers of that level, from among its closest adherents.

How did Scientology 'produce' these people? Take the only one I really know, Tom Cruise, for example (I'm sorry, I just don't know much pop-culture). What did he do to get rich and famous? Did he get rid of the ancient alien ghosts in his body? Did he pray for the downfall of Xenu? Or did he use his talents and good-looks to land roles in films, and do a damn good job (say what you will, I loved him in 'A Few Good Men').

And secretly I wonder to myself: is this what the Founder of the philosophy envisioned when she presented it to the world so dramatically? Did she envision a world of discussion groups engaged in endless combative debates over every minute detail of her writings, while clearly remaining stuck in the dark abyss of the Average? Always discussing the meaning and methods of life - but never actually LIVING?

I remember reading something a while back, it was here actually. Someone asked, "Why do we sit here and split hairs over all these issues, rather than just putting all our efforts into spreading rationality?" - the response was, "And then when do you propose that we debate these issues then?"

The fact is, the stuff we debate here is important, because if issues aren't sorted out by people like us, how in hell can we hope to spread this stuff, when people will ask the very same questions of us (such as the whole Casual Sex issue)?

I must admit, myself, I feel overwhelmed by the style of debate on here and the way certain people do behave - I think the issue lies in our methodology, not in the fact that we debate these issues. Something is inherently wrong, perhaps because we often take such an aggressive tone here in debates. I, too, would like to see it solved.

I do not, however, think people here avoid actually living.

And the most troubling of my secret questions: is it possible that no one really understands Ayn Rand? Is it possible that indeed everyone “has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life--which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world”?

This is called rationalization, and I used to be guilty of it. It's hard to avoid, when you grow up in such an irrational culture, where you're taught ideas are, basically, on a different metaphysical plane, detached from reality. I think Jenni said it best, when she said, "when you think about just how much your culture is set towards disintegration, it can be pretty daunting for anyone growing up in it".

Edited by Tenure

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My goal in life is to be a billionare and earn it honestly.

That's why I'm in business school at the moment. Also, some people don't live up to their own standards. I don't sometimes. People procrastinate (the real enemy of civilization I think B) ) or they sit around and make up excuses as to why they haven't gotten what they want. "The world is to bad right now" "It's not my fault I can't succeed" which, in some cases might be true, but the point is that you have to make your dreams come true in three ways

1) Get them handed to you

2) Take them from others

or

3) Make them yourselves.

As to why we don't see any Objectivists billionares, well, you don't know for sure who is and who isn't one already. Also, it's a young philosophy that hasn't really started to catch on until know. I also blame Christianity's influence on the culture, because it appeals to pragmatist people at large.

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I think there are plenty of fans of Objectivism who have deep pockets. The best evidence of this is how ARI continues to receive large benefactions.

The most financially successful Objectivist who I am aware of is John Allison, the CEO of BB&T. Furthermore, I have heard that successful businessmen such as Mark Cuban, Tamara Fuller (I think) and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Even Alan Greenspan and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas value the work of Ayn Rand, although it would certainly not be fair to call them Objectivists.

I am rationally confident that several financially successful Objectivists exist, you just need to look in the right places.

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I think there are plenty of fans of Objectivism who have deep pockets. The best evidence of this is how ARI continues to receive large benefactions.

The most financially successful Objectivist who I am aware of is John Allison, the CEO of BB&T. Furthermore, I have heard that successful businessmen such as Mark Cuban, Tamara Fuller (I think) and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Even Alan Greenspan and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas value the work of Ayn Rand, although it would certainly not be fair to call them Objectivists.

I am rationally confident that several financially successful Objectivists exist, you just need to look in the right places.

You also have to include T.J. Rodgers in there, the owner of Cypress Semiconductors.

Mark Cuban is a billionaire, and he says he read the Fountainhead over several times, and it was his inspiration for making money.

Now, if you go from billionaire to successful people, then there are tons of examples, such as the third baseman for the Cardinals, Scott Rolen (favorite book is The Fountainhead), or the actor who played Superman (name escapes me and I'm even too lazy to google, imagine that) whose favorite book is AS, etc...

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Part 2

Ayn Rand migrated to America because she wanted to become a great novelist (like Dostoyevksy, Hugo, and so on). She started teaching her philosophy mainly because she wanted to help create a society that would make it easier for her to achieve her dreams – of becoming a great, wealthy writer (like Mickey Spillane – and more). She knew she had to fight against the forces in this culture that taught that wealth was evil, that poverty was virtuous, a culture that exalted mediocrity. And she had to counter such a culture by starting from first principles – from Aristotle’s metaphysics and so on.

She did also become a successful novelist, even though she felt the environment was still not perfect (it was closer to perfection than the rest of the world, but not quite there). This is why she focused on teaching her philosophy instead of pursuing her original dream more fully.

But I do not believe that Rand intended that her philosophy should become the very centre of people’s lives – something to take precedence over their personal achievement – great, ambitious and conspicuous achievement, not just “average Joe” achievement.

Do you spend more intellectual energy and time thinking about Objectivism – and debates in Objectivism - than you do thinking about strategies to achieve more effectiveness and eminence in your career? Do you have a greater passion to master every aspect of Objectivism than you do mastering your career to the level of true greatness?

I think it is this problem that largely accounts for the fact that most people value being called an Objectivist than they value being (called) a great achiever in their field. They are apparently more proud of that label than of an identity that emphasises their personal achievement in this world.

Do you dream of true heroism? I have observed that many Objectivists have practically diluted the concept of “heroism” from one of great achievement (in the productive and material world) to the common boring one of just living a “happy,” content life, just exercising the “virtues” to a good degree “no matter what you are doing in life”.

I believe this explains why some ambitious people who have just been “influenced” by Rand’s novels have managed to become great achievers [i know that Bill Gates has read Atlas Shrugged, Larry Ellison has read The Fountainhead (and AS, most likely), etc] while most of those who have gone much “deeper” – my target here - have not demonstrated such great ambition for high level achievement – and yes, this will normally imply fame and wealth, even at the current level of freedom in the semi-capitalist world. Wouldn't it be easier to convince your family about your rational philosophy if they can see you become an eminent achiever as a result of your "conversion"? [which is why I said that this is at the root of the failure of the Objectivist movement to achieve AS MUCH impact on society as it should have; not just higher sales of Rand's novels].

It’s just food for thought. No excuses.

Thanks.

Edited by blackdiamond

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Black Diamond has made some great comments here and I agree with them. I've found the same in the years I have been involved with and studying objectivism. Objectivism is a tool for living a good life, as such, one ought to be living a good life outside of objectivism, and using the tennets of objectivism to help live that good life. Sitting around arguing about the tiny nuances of objectivism endlessly does little to achieve a good life, unless one's notion of that life is just to impress other 'objectivists' and find value in these labels.

Objectivism, and Rand, has made me one thousand times more ambitious and motivated as I was before, I hope to use my skills to accumulate a great amount of wealth which I will use to acquire and further the things I value and I spend nearly every waking moment pursuing those ends. Where I am concerned about the philosophical premisses behind a particular action, I will refer to some more objectivist material, but you will never catch me reading Atlas Shrugged *instead* of working on one of my projects.

I see a few objectivism millionairs in the making in this thread, this seems a good self re-enforcing pool for each to feed off of. So to turn this discussion into something more productive, what is it you are doing and any insights on how you are using objectivism help achieve those?

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First off, BlackDiamond, your essay suffers from the same problem that most of your posts do: it is casually insulting in tone. You'll want to keep working on that problem, as I know that you don't fully mean to do it.

Now.

Absolutely, Rand did not believe that Objectivism should be the central focus of most peoples' lives. However, I would wager that a lot of the folks here do not fall into the category of "most people," at least in that regard. Do I spend more energy on Objectivism than career? Invalid question: that assumes first that one has a career, and second that it isn't intellectual in nature.

The thing is, Objectivism is new. Who will be the first adopters of a new philosophy? Intellectuals. Generally, for a person to discover and self-learn a philosophy requires that they have at least a greater-than-average interest in ideas as such.

The kind of people who are billionaires are people whose passion and focus in life are in the applied talents - the doing part of life. Would such people benefit from learning Objectivism? Undoubtedly they would, and so would the entire world! But they are not likely to be the kind of people who discover it on their own. They are too busy doing what they do.

I think that the number of Objectivist billionaires will go up quite a bit once we start seeing more second generation Objectivists - people who were exposed to and learned Objectivism without having to discover and learn it totally on their own. Also, once our society stops horse-whipping the rich. Lots of folks have what it takes to get rich - not so many have that and the tolerance to put up with being pummeled for their trouble.

For instance, I had an interest in law a few years back: that is "law," as in "applied philosophy," not as in the torturous, labyrinthine, nonsense that passes for it these days. I would love to practice applied philosophy, but I could not tolerate the pain of dealing with, in, or by the system and methods (read: research and citation of arcane gobbledygook) of today.

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What about the fact that there are fewer than 800 billionaires world wide?

http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/09/news/newsm...orbes/index.htm

Of those, only 371 live in the US (elsewhere, it would be far less likely that someone has ever heard of Ayn Rand or Objectivism).

How many Objectivists are there in the world? I would guess that there are fewer than ten thousand.

*** Mod's note: This led to a related discussion on probabilities, that has been split into a new topic. - sN ***

Edited by softwareNerd
Added split-topic annotation

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First off, BlackDiamond, your essay suffers from the same problem that most of your posts do: it is casually insulting in tone. You'll want to keep working on that problem, as I know that you don't fully mean to do it.

And you, Inspector, really know how to offend people (you'll want to start working on that problem). If you were genuinely interested in advising me on that "problem", especially since you believe that I "don't fully mean to do it", you could have easily addressed this with me through Private Mode, no?

The kind of people who are billionaires are people whose passion and focus in life are in the applied talents - the doing part of life. Would such people benefit from learning Objectivism? Undoubtedly they would, and so would the entire world! But they are not likely to be the kind of people who discover it on their own. They are too busy doing what they do.

The one who invented Objectivism was (first and foremost) a novelist - a "doer", and she made quite a good fortune from her creative skills. I don't believe your dichotomy is valid.

What about the fact that there are fewer than 800 billionaires world wide?

What about that fact? Perhaps the number would have been bigger if more Objectivists were to join them?

[Also, please note that "billionaires" was just in my title; I am discussing much more than just that, as my essay shows - what about great novelists (like Rand), famous inventors, scientists, etc?]

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And you, Inspector, really know how to offend people (you'll want to start working on that problem). If you were genuinely interested in advising me on that "problem", especially since you believe that I "don't fully mean to do it", you could have easily addressed this with me through Private Mode, no?

Just giving you a little guff, because this time I'm on the receiving end. Contrary to your thesis, there is nothing wrong with me or any other intellectual (or person who would be an intellectual) who places Objectivism centrally in the focus of their lives beyond when merely learning it.

The one who invented Objectivism was (first and foremost) a novelist - a "doer", and she made quite a good fortune from her creative skills. I don't believe your dichotomy is valid.

That's a rather ungenerous way of looking at what I said. (again, part of that problem of yours - and if you want me to not talk about that, then stop doing it to me)

But there is a point in there somewhere - Ayn Rand was in fact a novelist first and a philosopher as a means to that end. (as opposed to Leonard Peikoff, who is a philosopher primarily) This is why Atlas predates the formal non-fiction of Objectivism. But this fact doesn't challenge anything that I said - that intellectuals are largely the first to discover and adopt a philosophy, and they do not generally have the same drives, tolerances, and skill sets as the kind of people who become businessmen billionaires.

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Inspector. Hm. You continue to openly and explicitly insult me (at least my insults were "casual", as you put it).

Anyway, let's see how far this goes:

But there is a point in there somewhere - Ayn Rand was in fact a novelist first and a philosopher as a means to that end. (as opposed to Leonard Peikoff, who is a philosopher primarily) This is why Atlas predates the formal non-fiction of Objectivism. But this fact doesn't challenge anything that I said - that intellectuals are largely the first to discover and adopt a philosophy, and they do not generally have the same drives, tolerances, and skill sets as the kind of people who become businessmen billionaires.

The thing is, Objectivism is new. Who will be the first adopters of a new philosophy? Intellectuals. Generally, for a person to discover and self-learn a philosophy requires that they have at least a greater-than-average interest in ideas as such.

Look. The very FIRST "adopter" of Objectivism was Ayn Rand. If you are excluding Ayn Rand from those people who are "intellectuals" then you are obviously saying something incomprehensible.

Ayn Rand, as you admit, was firstly a novelist. And yet she had "a greater-than-average interest in ideas as such". And so did other people in her "collective," a number of whom were inspired by her novels to achieve great eminence (and fame) in different areas of interest (even though Objectivism was very "new"). There are even some young, very ambitious people on this forum who are primarily novelists or software programmers (like Capitalism Forever, Jenni, et al) - and yet they exhibit an understanding of ideas that is certainly above some of those who consider themselves "intellectuals". I am simply rejecting your insinuation that people who have a higher than average interest in ideas would not likely be ones who become billionaires (or vice-versa) because that is simply not supported by reality.

If your career is philosophy, and you are truly influenced by Ayn Rand, then you too should achieve great eminence in that field (that's my only point). Achieving eminence at OO.net is not what we have in mind. Dr. Peikoff is an eminent philosopher, as is Dr. Binswanger, etc, and these have achieved quite a bit of wealth from their own innovativeness, which is not common for professional philosophers, but should be common for a fan of Galt and Roark. However, someone who has been debating for years at online forums, hardly exhibiting a level of knowledge and grasp that is higher than "most people" is NOT an achiever and he should - how do I say this politely this time? - get a life.

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Inspector. Hm. You continue to openly and explicitly insult me (at least my insults were "casual", as you put it).

I'm not insulting you. I'm asking you to stop insulting others. If you take that as an insult, then you have a personal problem. Re-read my last post and please tell me where I have insulted you. Bear in mind: telling you that you have a problem with insulting people is not an insult.

If you are excluding Ayn Rand from those people who are "intellectuals" then you are obviously saying something incomprehensible.

So obviously I'm not saying that.

Ayn Rand, as you admit, was firstly a novelist. And yet she had "a greater-than-average interest in ideas as such". And so did other people in her "collective," a number of whom were inspired by her novels to achieve great eminence (and fame) in different areas of interest (even though Objectivism was very "new").

And were any of them billionaires? Or even millionaires? Are or were any of them on the Forbes list or other rich people lists?

I am simply rejecting your insinuation that people who have a higher than average interest in ideas would not likely be ones who become billionaires (or vice-versa) because that is simply not supported by reality.

Then provide a list of billionaires - or even millionaires - that have a keen interest in philosophy, fundamental ideas, and who make their living in that field.

If your career is philosophy, and you are truly influenced by Ayn Rand, then you too should achieve great eminence in that field (that's my only point).

If that's your only point, then that's quite the revision from the long list of other points you made earlier. For example:

I would have expected a number of noticeable full-fledged Objectivists among the annual rich lists of Forbes magazine, among the owners of big Fortune (Magazine) 500 companies, among the profiles on achievement.org, and so on; instead, full or serious Objectivists are conspicuously missing on such lists of achievers and innovators.

So you've changed your mind from this, then? Not to mention your highly insulting insinuation that anyone who isn't busily attempting to get on the Forbes list "has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life--which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world”?"

Because I can answer that bit easily. If you don't understand why rational individuals are often persecuted instead of rewarded with advancement in today's world, then you are the one with a rationalistic understanding of Objectivism. (that rationalism being "good philosophy = recognition and rewarded by society")

You've read The Fountainhead, I take it? Did the world reward Roark's rationality with fame and wealth and recognition? Certainly not at first! Do you think that all people in his position must necessarily triumph in the end as he did? And how old was he when he finally did triumph? What was he doing with himself for all the time he worked odd jobs and in quarries? If there was a forum like this back then, would you be berating him for spending some spare time on it and not "getting a life?"

My points, I will reiterate:

1) Most early adopters of a philosophy - any philosophy - will be intellectuals

2) Intellectual professions are not highly paid, and the world's top billionaires are not, I am willing to bet, intellectuals by profession.

3) Intellectuals do not have the same skill sets, or enjoy the same kinds of things, that people who work in "billionaire professions" do. Being a billionaire is not simply a matter of having one's head straight, philosophically speaking. If you don't have a talent for invention, you won't make a good inventor. If you're bored to tears by spreadsheets, then you won't make a good accountant. A painter will not make a good accountant and an intellectual will not make a good investment banker.

Nor, to add another point, does having good philosophy mean that someone will magically become greatly talented in whatever field they are most suited for. Billionaires are people of immense, and statistically rare, talent - and furthermore talent in a lucrative field. Certainly, good philosophy is required to fulfill one's full potential, but the fact remains that if one is going to be a billionaire, then one must have that potential in the first place.

As for other forms of success such as fame, recognition, etc: The cultures of today are not rational. There is no guarantee that any given achievement or achiever will be recognized and many of them will languish in obscurity or work menial jobs until a massive change happens, culturally. (some fields are worse than others in this regard) This is just one more reason why it is critically important that we wage an intellectual battle to change things, and why what we need most critically right now is intellectuals to fight it.

To say that we need more achievers in non-intellectual fields and its focus on the intellectual is responsible for a "failure of the 'Objectivist movement' to create as much impact on the world as it should" is not just wrong, but dangerously wrong. It is the precise opposite of the truth, and is a rejection of Objectivism's formulation of how ideas, more than anything else, change the world. We need more intellectuals, not less.

As I said, your question, "Do you spend more intellectual energy and time thinking about Objectivism – and debates in Objectivism - than you do thinking about strategies to achieve more effectiveness and eminence in your career?" is completely and unanswerably wrong if one is an intellectual. If one's career is intellectual in nature, then one damn well better spend intellectual energy and time thinking about Objectivism.

And even if one is not, there still needs to be a temporary period in one's life where one must focus on and properly learn Objectivism. It is a philosophy for living and if you don't think knowing it properly is critically important to living one's life well, then you have another thing coming. So insinuating that people who are more focused on it than career must have something wrong with them is also improper.

Additionally, your post contains this, terribly inaccurate, claim:

[Ayn Rand] did also become a successful novelist, even though she felt the environment was still not perfect (it was closer to perfection than the rest of the world, but not quite there). This is why she focused on teaching her philosophy instead of pursuing her original dream more fully.
(bold mine)

Where on earth did you get this idea from? Where is your evidence for this claim? It is just flatly false on its face. It does not accurately describe Ayn Rand's assessment of the cultural environment, nor does it accurately describe her pursuit of her dreams.

And finally, there's this:

However, someone who has been debating for years at online forums, hardly exhibiting a level of knowledge and grasp that is higher than "most people" is NOT an achiever and he should - how do I say this politely this time? - get a life.

Who is this person of which you speak? Go ahead and name one if you're going to name one. If you're going to spit in someone's face, then at least call them by name! But do not simply tell unnamed persons to "get a life." That is not only highly insulting but also highly presumptuous. How dare you presume to tell people whose contexts you have no idea about that they are living their lives wrong because of the interest they show in Objectivism.

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I'm not insulting you. I'm asking you to stop insulting others. If you take that as an insult, then you have a personal problem. Re-read my last post and please tell me where I have insulted you. Bear in mind: telling you that you have a problem with insulting people is not an insult.

And if I do indeed have any such problem (in "most of my posts"), the right people to "ask" me to stop, I believe, are the Admins and/or Moderators (you could have easily reported me to them in all those posts, as the rules require). No one can appreciate being corrected or advised by some aggressive self-appointed regulator (you) who has shown no evidence whatsoever of being any exemplary (at politeness) in his many posts. That, is what's insulting.

If that's your only point, then that's quite the revision from the long list of other points you made earlier. For example:

So you've changed your mind from this, then?

The rich lists were only ONE of the things I mentioned. I also mentioned the Nobel Prize, i mentioned Oscars, bestsellers, Fortune 500 company owners, and other recognised measures of top achievement, which do not always imply billionaire (but normally do imply wealth and fame). Why take only one sentence from what I wrote? I had only one essential point: high, conspicuous achievement.

Not to mention your highly insulting insinuation that anyone who isn't busily attempting to get on the Forbes list "has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life--which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world”?"

Again, the Forbes list was not the only thing mentioned in that article (or the next) if you did actually read it. There were other measures of high achievement.

Because I can answer that bit easily. If you don't understand why rational individuals are often persecuted instead of rewarded with advancement in today's world, then you are the one with a rationalistic understanding of Objectivism.

Are all those wealthy internet entrepreneurs, movie makers, novelists, etc irrational? People who come up with all those great ideas in technology, science, music, literature, etc are OFTEN "persecuted instead of rewarded" in America (unless they're irrational)? One of us certainly has some serious rationalism issues going on.

Thankfully, this discussion has helped me understand the answer to my own question.

You've read The Fountainhead, I take it? Did the world reward Roark's rationality with fame and wealth and recognition? Certainly not at first! Do you think that all people in his position must necessarily triumph in the end as he did? And how old was he when he finally did triumph? What was he doing with himself for all the time he worked odd jobs and in quarries? If there was a forum like this back then, would you be berating him for spending some spare time on it and not "getting a life?"

Point is: Roark was not giving excuses for not making great effort to succed in the economic system of the world. No matter how unfriendly they were, he was still trying to put forth his products in the real world instead of just complaining that the world persecutes rational achievers and all that. The real architect on whom the fictional character of Roark is supposedly based did become a very wealthy millionaire - and it was in THIS same society, not a futuristic one in which everyone will become totally friendly to capitalism.

As for other forms of success such as fame, recognition, etc: The cultures of today are not rational. There is no guarantee that any given achievement or achiever will be recognized and many of them will languish in obscurity or work menial jobs until a massive change happens, culturally.

I suppose this goes down to that discussion introduced here by Dan Edge (concerning Benevolent People premise) and I guess I can give you some credit for being quite consistent: you certainly have a Malevolent People Premise. I understand why you don't feel that a rational person has much chance of great success or reward in this "irrational world"; it follows from your premises.

Since our differences are obviously more fundamental than the simple thesis of my little essay here, I predict that we are unlikely to have a productive discussion here (without going into issues that totally transcend this thread or even, this forum). Let's call it quits.

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And if I do indeed have any such problem (in "most of my posts"), the right people to "ask" me to stop, I believe, are the Admins and/or Moderators (you could have easily reported me to them in all those posts, as the rules require). No one can appreciate being corrected or advised by some aggressive self-appointed regulator (you) who has shown no evidence whatsoever of being any exemplary (at politeness) in his many posts. That, is what's insulting.

I repeat: I'm asking you to stop insulting others. If you take that as an insult, then you have a personal problem.

The rich lists were only ONE of the things I mentioned.

That doesn't matter. You made the claim that your only point was that there should be "great achievers" in lots of fields but clearly you had made quite a few (highly insulting) other points along the way.

Why take only one sentence from what I wrote?

My rebuttals do not depend on that one sentence so your attempts to dismiss the matter are invalid.

One of us certainly has some serious rationalism issues going on.

Yes... one of us does. And a reading comprehension problem. Just like you constantly do with everyone you argue with in this forum, you have greatly distorted what I said.

Thankfully, this discussion has helped me understand the answer to my own question.

You mean you're attempting to rationalize to your pre-determined conclusion. Oh, sorry, it looks like I was thinking out loud there just like you were.

Point is: Roark was not giving excuses for not making great effort to succed in the economic system of the world. No matter how unfriendly they were, he was still trying to put forth his products in the real world instead of just complaining that the world persecutes rational achievers and all that.

This doesn't resemble anything I said.

I suppose this goes down to that discussion introduced here by Dan Edge (concerning Benevolent People premise) and I guess I can give you some credit for being quite consistent: you certainly have a Malevolent People Premise. I understand why you don't feel that a rational person has much chance of great success or reward in this "irrational world"; it follows from your premises.

Dan's "BPP" is an anti-concept and so your accusation is empty.

Since our differences are obviously more fundamental than the simple thesis of my little essay here, I predict that we are unlikely to have a productive discussion here (without going into issues that totally transcend this thread or even, this forum). Let's call it quits.

The only fundamental difference that is obvious between us is your complete inability to carry on a civilized debate without constantly spewing insults, inept and insulting psychologizations of your opponent, and really malevolent interpretations of others' arguments. I've seen you do it to others (some of whom I by no means agreed with) and now you're doing it to me.

Yes, I think calling this one quits would be best.

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Obviously you value your online debating career - and the self esteem you evidently gain from the feeling of victory over others - very highly.

Try to use that same spirit in real business, and there'll be no need for this thread.

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Obviously you value your online debating career - and the self esteem you evidently gain from the feeling of victory over others - very highly.

Try to use that same spirit in real business, and there'll be no need for this thread.

Yes, use that same spirit in business and you'll cease to be an Objectivist very quickly. Sooner or later, you'll cease to be a business man aswell. Ever heard of Gail Wynand?

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Obviously you value your online debating career - and the self esteem you evidently gain from the feeling of victory over others - very highly.

Try to use that same spirit in real business, and there'll be no need for this thread.

To allow this discussion to end, I will allow that to be the final word. I will only say that I don't agree with it, or that it (or anything that he has said about me) accurately represents me or my position.

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I have decided that this is my last thread on this great, great web site (objectivismonline.net), and I have learnt too much to be able to pay back, from many people, including those who did not exactly like me!

But let me just post this link to an old article (that I've just remembered and googled) as a gift for those who want to learn more about the subject of the essay I posted here. It's an open letter to Michael Jordan called "The Soul of a Champion" by an Objectivist philosopher called Andrew Bernstein.

Link: http://www.andrewbernstein.net/heroes/6_jordan.htm

Some interesting parts:

Dear Michael,

Thank you for winning six NBA titles and earning hundreds of millions of dollars.

If you ask why I thank you when obviously you did it for yourself, not for me—I will respond: That’s exactly why I thank you. I can imagine the pride you take in your achievements—of being the greatest ever in your field—but I wonder if you realize fully all you have to be proud of.

Then something else, which contradicts some people's theory that it is mainly about talent:

Most people, unfortunately, do not push themselves to excel—and the problem is not a lack of capacity. Over a period of twenty years as a teacher, I have observed many talented students who squander their gifts. It is not ability that is missing; it is will... Thomas Edison, who knew, defined genius as one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

He DOES attack the culture but ONLY in its "explicit intellectual content":

Our culture has, in its explicit intellectual content, become hostile to achievement...

But he still generally holds to Dan Edge's Benevolent People Premise:

...But the American people have not sunk to this level of corruption.

The American people may not understand the principles involved, but at an emotional level they still yearn for, and worship, man at his highest and best...

That doesn't sound to me like the pessimism I have often heard, which condemns people generally as just "irrational," an attitude which can easily short-circuit your ambitiousness (when you literally hate the world and the "irrational" people in it).

And finally:

As Ayn Rand states in her great novel, Atlas Shrugged: “the sight of an achievement is the greatest gift a human being could offer to others.” You have offered such a gift, abundantly, to us.

Indeed. That's what I believe Ayn Rand's main goal was. In spite of her condemnation of the explicit philosophical culture, she still believed that a rational person had a high potential for achievement in such a great society. He could actually plan and expect to achieve.

Like Bernstein says, the people still yearn for, and worship, man at his highest and best; so obviously they will reward heroes (with wealth and honour), by celebrating them and paying them. That premise is sufficient to virtually guarantee success to anyone who puts in great effort in his pursuit for high achievement in any rational society.

Thank you.

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Yes, use that same spirit in business and you'll cease to be an Objectivist very quickly. Sooner or later, you'll cease to be a business man aswell. Ever heard of Gail Wynand?

And to be clear: that "spirit" has nothing to do with my position.

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This is basically a strawman argument: set up a single criteria for success (having a huge pile of cash), then complain that Objectivists aren't fulfilling that criteria. Oh well. Personally, I wouldn't *want* to be a billionaire: it's WAY more work than I'd be willing to do for something as pointless as loads of money. Once you have enough to achieve the lifestyle you want, why pursue more? The point is to pursue the work you want, not necessarily some specific reward.

I think that everyone should pursue the career they enjoy without regard to whether said career will forseeably bring them *lots* of money. Some people *do* enjoy the type of work that has huge financial rewards. Good for them. It is erroneous to use the terms "rich" and "billionaire" interchangeably. There are only 800 or so billionaires . . . there are many, many people that are wealthy or well-off.

Squandering your talents means spending your time doing what someone else thinks you ought to do instead of what you actually want to do. I choose not to squander my talents desperately climbing the corporate ladder or engaged in other activities I detest.

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