Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Rush Limbaugh Grapples with the idea of Self Interest vs. Sacrifice

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

In my opinion this is remarkable. Today in his radio program, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh observes how Ayn Rand's ideas apply to today's politics. He starts things off by stating:

"Obama, every time he opens his mouth, mentions the need for people to sacrifice. We all must suffer. We all have to jointly suffer in order for all of us to somehow be the same, and self-interest, selfishness is condemned. And self-interest is not selfishness. Self-interest is what built this country. "

This is from the 3rd paragraph in the transcript, here:

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/sit...5110.guest.html

Say of him what you want, but this man does have an active mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Intellectually dishonest. Self-interest IS selfishness.

I give Rush a little more credit than that. The concept of "selfishness" that most people have is a package deal, lumping together proper, rationally self-interested actions with unprincipled predatory ones. We know that unprincipled predation and whim worship are not actually selfish, but that is not self-evident. I think Rush may be trying to untangle that package deal. We might wish that he used clearer terms, but we shouldn't condemn him as dishonest merely because he hasn't fully grasped what we've grasped about the nature of self-interest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Intellectually dishonest. Self-interest IS selfishness.

Or perhaps he is distinguishing between what we would call rational selfishness (and he is calling self-interest), and stupid exploitative irrational "selfishness," sacrificing others to you, which non-objectivists call "selfishness."

In other words he is using the words as a non-Objectivist would use them. I don't think you can call him "dishonest" because of that.

Mind you he probably has an altruistic streak a mile wide and all sorts of other issues, but that's not the point here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion this is remarkable.

There are dozens of people (just on this site) who can make a better case than that for Capitalism, so this is only remarkable in a way a retarded child's first words are remarkable.

Rush is impaired, because he is unable to recognize the root of his philosophical errors, which lie in metaphysics and epistemology. Anyone who's starting point is that there's no way in Hell they'll give up their blind belief in God is philosophically impaired and beyond being able to fully understand Ayn Rand's morality.

Selfishness and individualism are squarely in contradiction with the concept of a benevolent God who sent His only son to die for our collective sins.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One more additional detail, he said Ayn Rand as ann rand.... someone needs to correct him, lol. When I heard this yesterday I could not believe my ears. I defiantly winced when he mentioned god after all that. I also noticed that he tempers his god statement by saying "or whatever." It makes me think now more that ever that he tacked that on and doesn't really believe it, he just says it because he feels he has to for the majority of his audience and really is an atheist. I don't know. It is a fact that there are probably a lot of public figures that hide this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are dozens of people (just on this site) who can make a better case than that for Capitalism

I'm at a loss what to say to this, because it is missing what's going on so completely.

This "argument" is pure rationalism: "Rush has errors in metaphysics and epistemology. Therefore, his ideas in politics cannot be sound. Therefore he is not a good advocate for capitalism."

Advice to anyone who does not see a problem with this "argument" (and I speak from my own personal experience): rationalism is a big obstacle to one's ability to think about the world. You owe it to yourself to find out what the nature of this fundamental error is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm at a loss what to say to this, because it is missing what's going on so completely.

Hear, hear!

This "argument" is pure rationalism: "Rush has errors in metaphysics and epistemology. Therefore, his ideas in politics cannot be sound. Therefore he is not a good advocate for capitalism."

I think the attitude is much worse. It pertains to this thread, but also to many others were anyone outside of Objectivism says or does something good: "This person is not an Objectivist, he does not accept or even know all the correct things to say, therefore we should at best ignore him completely."

The right attitude should be: "This person is of mixed premises, but he does get some things right. Let's encourage that as best we can and see how else we can influence him."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh in a long time. I used to listen to him during lunch, but I got out of the habit and haven't been following up on what he says. My assessment of Rush is that, yes, he is a man of mixed premises, but he seems to be going from misintegration to integration over the years. For Obama to have set the moral terms of this debate as selfishness versus self-sacrifice, and for Rush and other Conservatives to come out on the side of self-interest and that this is what made this country great is simply remarkable. Can mixed premises win the philosophical battle? No, of course not, however, for someone to uphold the individual as Rush did in that monologue is very good. If he can encourage more and more people to read Ayn Rand, as he has done for many years, then we are that much closer to winning the battle. And that does not require everyone in this country to become an Objectivist -- a ground swell of people willing to uphold their individual rights will be great politically; it will give us time to make more headroads into the culture. I do agree with an opinion piece I read recently that it is either Jesus Christ or John Galt, and the Conservatives have to decide that within their own minds, but if they are going to uphold individual rights as a valid principle, why in the world would we complain about that? Rush has been under consistent attack from Liberals and those in power who want to shut him up by law, but he has held fast and has told them he has the right to free speech. Will he turn around and contradict that stance tomorrow? Possibly, but the terms of the cultural debate are being set, and it is being spoken about openly. I applaud Rush for what he said, though I do hope he becomes much more integrated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well said Thomas. That’s exactly right.

Rush is not dishonest at all. He is making a tremendous effort to rethink all of his mistaken premises, and he has to do it in front of the whole country. Not easy! In fact, Harry Binswanger praised Rush for this particular monologue. Here is what Binswanger says on HBL: "...in the end Rush is not a religious conservative, but a conservative who happens to be religious." What have I been saying about Rush? That he is far better than your typical conservative. He is very pro-capitalist, and pro-achievement.

He's pushing self-interest when virtually nobody else, except Objectivists, are and you guys aren't impressed? Well, I'm unimpressed with those who don't see how impressive this is.

This guy is a lot better than many here understand. I know he is good and while I doubt he'll make it all the way over to Objectivism, it's amazing to see him moving in that direction.

Btw, you can hear the audio at that link as well. It is very rare that he puts the audio for his show on the free side, giving you an idea as to how important he believes this is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would never discourage Rush from the right ideas, but his ideas aren't just not in-line with Objectivism, they are often completely contrary.

Quite true, but compared to whom? The culture is where it is ideologically and we have to somehow move it toward reason, egoism and individualism. As I understand it, the only really egoistic culture was Ancient Greece, so we have our work cut out for us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quite true, but compared to whom? The culture is where it is ideologically and we have to somehow move it toward reason, egoism and individualism. As I understand it, the only really egoistic culture was Ancient Greece, so we have our work cut out for us.

I think there are people who are open to reasonable argument. Often times, religious people are the hardest fought battles in the war of ideas, and Nihilists being close by. I have heard Christians express that self-interest is not a totally immoral idea, but they usually justify it because it works for the collective, like Adam Smith.

I mean, anyone who believes in capitalism HAS to believe that people work in their self interest and that that is needed for a working economy but to what extent? When Dr. Brook gave a speech about Capitalism Without Guilt, he referenced a work by popular Neo-Con Bill Kristol in which he gives two cheers for Capitalism, leaving out the third cheer because it is founded on principles contrary to his, and most conservatives, foundational beliefs.

If one wants to be taken seriously by me, he has to give up the idea that a living sacrifice is the human ideal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm at a loss what to say to this, because it is missing what's going on so completely.

This "argument" is pure rationalism: "Rush has errors in metaphysics and epistemology. Therefore, his ideas in politics cannot be sound. Therefore he is not a good advocate for capitalism."

Advice to anyone who does not see a problem with this "argument" (and I speak from my own personal experience): rationalism is a big obstacle to one's ability to think about the world. You owe it to yourself to find out what the nature of this fundamental error is.

I agree whole heartedly: there is a big problem with that argument. But, even though you are using quotation marks around it, to my knowledge this is the first time in human history that this argument appeared in print. I did not make it, I didn't even come close to making it. Whom you are quoting is a total mystery to me.

What I did say is that Rush specifically has some specific errors which prevent him from making a good argument for Capitalism. In fact, I named the exact errors, and the specific contradiction between those errors and the correct argument for Capitalism, here:

Selfishness and individualism are squarely in contradiction with the concept of a benevolent God who sent His only son to die for our collective sins.

So there's really no need to guess what my argument is. That one sentence contains my argument, and refutes the idea that Limbaugh is a good advocate for laissez-faire Capitalism.

If you wish to argue about it at length, and defend Limbaugh position, go ahead. That position is what's under the microscope in this thread (not whether I'm rationalizing or not), so any discussion has to begin with what that position is. I can't even begin to imagine how God can be reconciled with rational egoism, so you're the one who's going to have to try and explain it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tip off, I'm going to check it out now. I don't listen to his show, but I've overheard parts of it now and then just via relatives who have him on. Does Rush ever have guests on his show? I'd assume so but I don't think I've ever heard anyone but him or callers speaking. It would be interesting if he would book someone from ARI.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you wish to argue about it at length, and defend Limbaugh position, go ahead. That position is what's under the microscope in this thread (not whether I'm rationalizing or not), so any discussion has to begin with what that position is. I can't even begin to imagine how God can be reconciled with rational egoism, so you're the one who's going to have to try and explain it.

Rush has contradictions in his thinking. You are right. We here are well aware of that. However, he has big swaths of properly integrated knowledge, and of late he's been making forays into egoism. This is an area where angels fear to tread, because it goes against two millennia of thought. He is making arguments for egoism and quoting Ayn Rand. I know that he is making errors in the process, but the thread title is accurate, he is "grappling with the idea". This guy is showing real courage.

These ideas that are in conflict with Christian views, but they are being thrown out to a huge audience for consideration, with Ayn Rand being presented as their champion. This is good!

The thing that is neat about this is that egoism is exactly the idea we have to get out there. We need to replace altruism with egoism if we are to win the day.

Btw, apparently Rush’s audience is getting larger all of the time. This is amazing, since he has had the largest audience in talk radio for well over a decade.

Thanks for the tip off, I'm going to check it out now. I don't listen to his show, but I've overheard parts of it now and then just via relatives who have him on. Does Rush ever have guests on his show? I'd assume so but I don't think I've ever heard anyone but him or callers speaking. It would be interesting if he would book someone from ARI.

On occasion he will have a guest, if he thinks it's important, but as a rule he doesn't have them. I wouldn't put it past him to interview someone from ARI, but I doubt it will happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rush has contradictions in his thinking. You are right. We here are well aware of that.

By "we here" I think you're suggesting that one has to be an Objectivist to identify that contradiction: I think anyone with half a brain is aware of that, the second they hear him mention self interest and Rand's morality. People know he's pro Christian, and they also know that egoism and Christianity don't mix: how could any thinking American take him seriously when he says rational self interest is good?

Quite frankly, I think the only reason why his religious audience is tolerating all this talk about what that heathen woman wrote is because the economy is such a hot topic. In a year he'll be back at cursing out Republicans if they stray from the anti abortion platform.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By "we here" I think you're suggesting that one has to be an Objectivist to identify that contradiction: I think anyone with half a brain is aware of that, the second they hear him mention self interest and Rand's morality. People know he's pro Christian, and they also know that egoism and Christianity don't mix: how could any thinking American take him seriously when he says rational self interest is good?

Why did the founders use the phrase "pursuit of happiness". That's very egoistic and contradicts the Christian ideas.

People don't just "know" those things. You have to go through a process of thought to evaluate ideas and it's usually not easy. There are lots of people, I've seen them, who think Objectivism and Christianity are compatible. This makes sense if you realize that each mind out there has to painstakingly connect his ideas together by choice, step-by-step. Rush is going through the thinking process.

Quite frankly, I think the only reason why his religious audience is tolerating all this talk about what that heathen woman wrote is because the economy is such a hot topic. In a year he'll be back at cursing out Republicans if they stray from the anti abortion platform.

You are categorizing people too easily. Lots of people are mixed in their philosophy and that includes Rush. Purely religious people are at the fringes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with that last statement. There are a LOT of mixed Americans out there...Andrew Bernstein calls it mixed-religion, like mixed-economy. My parents raised me to be independent, take care of myself, etc., yet they are religious. People do not clearly see these contradictions. Thankfully, most Americans do not live what the Bible preaches. It's that American sense of life that Rand talked about in one of the PWNI essays.

You are categorizing people too easily. Lots of people are mixed in their philosophy and that includes Rush. Purely religious people are at the fringes.

Whoops! Ryan snuck in a post...this is what I was responding to. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read the whole transcript. Interesting statements coming from Rush, and one of the more agreeable things I've read from him. His statements on individualism ("the smallest minority on Earth") were also appealing. According to his words, he's going to elaborate on the topic; let's see what comes next. [edit] Maybe someone will call him and challenge his views on these ideas. I would be interested in how Rush would respond to altruistic arguments and claims given by peers in his party, or held by his viewers.

Edited by RussK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is your point?

I'm dealing with Jake's point regarding those who are religious holding contradictions. The Founders were religious (not very religious, mind you), yet they endorsed an implicitly egoistic idea "the pursuit of happiness". So, people can hold to contradictory ideas mistakenly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...