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Why Does Capitalism lead to Self Esteem and Communism Doesn't?

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I've read all of Ayn Rand's non-fiction and fiction but I'm not too bright, plus I have adhd.  Can someone please explain to me, like you would to a high schooler who knows nothing of Objectivism, why capitalism has a propensity to lead an individual to high self esteem and communism facilitates low self esteem?

 

From what I've read and understand, capitalism leaves you free to act therefore leaves you free to gain confidence in the use of your own mind.  Confidence in the use of your own mind and confidence in your ability to deal with reality is by definition self esteem.  Under communism this isn't possible because you depend on others for things.  You can never gain confidence in your ability to deal with reality because you are dealing with reality through other people.

 

 

I know there is a lot to add to that and the way I put it isn't that eloquent and I doubt it would convince anybody who knows nothing of Objectivism to look into it any further, so can you please answer my question?

Edited by dadmonson
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dadmonson,

Capitalism respects property rights, be they individual, or a matter of corporate contract. Capitalism is not so much the means to self-esteem, as it is the means to the morally proper relationship between other members of society. For every individual, there is one's personal ethics, (his/her judgement of right and wrong) and one's politics, (his/her conduct with other members of society.) Rational self-interest, the personal ethics of Objectivism, will lead to positive self-esteem. Ayn Rand regarded any social order that would accept coerced restrictions in trade as less than completely free, therefore its perfection could only be achieved through the removal of those restrictions. This would lead to individual choice as the only restriction to trade. Only then, could men (and of course women) rise to the heights of their personal aspirations. In the pursuit of one's happiest, one has the dignity of knowing that it was one's self as the one who holds the responsibility for one's success. In a social order where coerced restrictions are greatest, fewer individuals would even bother trying. Whether or not one achieves that success may depend on other factors, including one's natural ability and the dimensions and/or degree of one's aspirations. It may depend on factors entirely random. A thorough understanding of Objectivism allows one to know exactly why capitalism is man's proper political relationship, and lays bare the personal virtues required to achieve one's self-esteem.

 

Conversely, communism disregards the rights of the individual in favor of the rights, or needs, of the collective members of society, often referred to as: "the good of the people." Without an understanding of truth, it is relatively easy to persuade an unsuspecting, uninformed, and willing population that all of their needs can be fulfilled through central planning. When the planners decide what is best for the individual, he/she is no longer an individual, but rather an extension of the planner's plan, the state's human machine. And only the planners know what is best for the "good of the people." Personal aspirations are replaced with the utopian promise of, "each according to his abilities, and each according to his needs." In such a social order, even if one did manage to present an original idea for improvement entirely independent of the planners, the response from the authorities would be: "You didn't do that!"

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If you look at it at it's root cause you have it reversed, although they feed each other like any relationship in the long run to produce what you stated. 

 

Self-Esteem leads one to Capitalism as it is the social application of personal action.  If one is confident in oneself you will want to be independent and free to act on your ideas.  Communism or any other group-ism like the modern Welfare State is born of lack of confidence (in people and existence), therefor you're willing to loose independence in the form of security from the group.  It is security theater on a much larger scale.  Self Esteem leads to independence and lack of it leads to dependence. 

 

From there they just feed each other in a circle of growth or decline respectively.

 

Or to put it another way, the Emo culture makes perfect sense in a Welfare State that finds ways to hate itself. 

 

I hope that helps you get started :)

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Thanks for the reply guys.  Those were exactly the replies I needed.  I'm currently writing a paper on rational self interest vs altruism for one of my classes.  The paper is going to be reviewed by some of my peers, plus I'm supposed to give a presentation on it in front of the whole class.  I thought I knew Objectivism but it seems when I write about some of the aspects of the philosophy my arguments are unconvincing, and flat.

 

 

dadmonson,

Capitalism respects property rights, be they individual, or a matter of corporate contract. Capitalism is not so much the means to self-esteem, as it is the means to the morally proper relationship between other members of society. For every individual, there is one's personal ethics, (his/her judgement of right and wrong) and one's politics, (his/her conduct with other members of society.) Rational self-interest, the personal ethics of Objectivism, will lead to positive self-esteem. Ayn Rand regarded any social order that would accept coerced restrictions in trade as less than completely free, therefore its perfection could only be achieved through the removal of those restrictions. This would lead to individual choice as the only restriction to trade. Only then, could men (and of course women) rise to the heights of their personal aspirations. In the pursuit of one's happiest, one has the dignity of knowing that it was one's self as the one who holds the responsibility for one's success. In a social order where coerced restrictions are greatest, fewer individuals would even bother trying. Whether or not one achieves that success may depend on other factors, including one's natural ability and the dimensions and/or degree of one's aspirations. It may depend on factors entirely random. A thorough understanding of Objectivism allows one to know exactly why capitalism is man's proper political relationship, and lays bare the personal virtues required to achieve one's self-esteem.

 

Conversely, communism disregards the rights of the individual in favor of the rights, or needs, of the collective members of society, often referred to as: "the good of the people." Without an understanding of truth, it is relatively easy to persuade an unsuspecting, uninformed, and willing population that all of their needs can be fulfilled through central planning. When the planners decide what is best for the individual, he/she is no longer an individual, but rather an extension of the planner's plan, the state's human machine. And only the planners know what is best for the "good of the people." Personal aspirations are replaced with the utopian promise of, "each according to his abilities, and each according to his needs." In such a social order, even if one did manage to present an original idea for improvement entirely independent of the planners, the response from the authorities would be: "You didn't do that!"

 

How exactly does rational self interest lead to a healthy self esteem and altruism leads to a lack of self esteem?

 

I can see that giving up a higher value for a lesser value implies lower self esteem since it basically implies that you aren't worthy of that higher value that you are giving up and another person is.

 

I'm pretty sure I'm missing something, again. 

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dadmonson:

 Let's break it down a little more: Altruism is a sense of living for the sake of others, i.e.selflessness. This could imply that one's actions, including one's choice of appearance and choice of work and other personal lifestyle choices, are made with the intent of serving others first, at the expense of one's our desires. Altruism could be the self-sacrifice of one's personal wealth, as well as the expectation that others should do as you are doing, in living for the greater good of society. The fact that one's personal empowerment is diminished (from allowing social convention to decide one's fashion, rather than a sense of personal pride), altruism ultimately leads to one's own destruction. This destruction is the result of acting out of duty to others, rather than for one's own sake. If it is the moral duty of every person to be his/her brothers' keeper, eventually this will lead to one's own demise, or guilt for not having done more for others. Imagine you are toiling and straining to accomplish the very best of your abilities, and with every value you produce, you forfeit that value for the sense of moral fulfillment, not self-satisfaction, but out of duty to others. At what point would one stop giving? Such a morality would lead to mediocrity at best, universal suffering at worst. It is self-degradation, if not self-immolation. And yet, this is the fundamental moral objective of many of the social and political advocates of our times.

 

Self-esteem is achieved through the virtuous action of the individual. Self-esteem, by Objectivist standards, can only be achieved through selfishness in the most rational meaning of the word. Beginning with the understanding that an individual's own life is his/her highest value, one begins to appreciate actions taken for one's own survival, leading to one's improvement, ultimately leading to one's own definition of success and happiness. Happiness and pride being of the highest virtues, these virtues are essential to one's self-esteem. And if one's happiness is contingent on the happiness of one's family or chosen associations (friends), then one is rationally interested in their well-being. 

 

Of course, this is a gross over-simplification, and a thorough reading of Objectivist literature will give you an advantage in conversation of this controversial philosophy. A capitalist society is the only environment that allows an individual to rise to his/her highest aspirations. In our current social climate, convincing a collective of young people that capitalism is the only moral and sustainable social order is daunting, if not impossible. Furthermore, I believe it is not impossible; I believe it is necessary for the future of humanity.

 

Apply the best of your abilities in your public-speaking endeavors, and with any luck, you may reach out and have an affect on an active mind. Or two.

Edited by Repairman
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Can someone please explain to me, like you would to a high schooler who knows nothing of Objectivism, why capitalism has a propensity to lead an individual to high self esteem and communism facilitates low self esteem?

Would you rather choose something for yourself or have it chosen for you? Does it feel more rewarding to earn something for yourself or have it given to you?

I don't know if you've ever seen the Last of the Mohicans, but it has a scene which perfectly conveys this exact thing. It's set during the French and Indian war and in that scene there's a British officer who's ranting, furiously, about how the Colonials "come and go as they please, without so much as a by-your-leave" (or with-your-permission), to which someone retorts:

"These people do not live their lives by-your-leave! They hack it out of the wilderness with their bare hands, bearing their children along the way!"

The British officer in that scene (and most who advocate Communism) see people as basically children; helpless and unfit to make their own decisions.

Capitalism leads to self esteem (primarily for those who advocate it) because to say it's good is also to say that you do not need anyone else's permission to live; that you are capable of making your own decisions, and carving your own life out of the concrete wilderness.

That's a powerful idea.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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How exactly does rational self interest lead to a healthy self esteem and altruism leads to a lack of self esteem?

Different people want different things.

If everyone wanted exactly what everyone else wanted then there wouldn't actually be any difference between altruism and selfishness; serving yourself would also be serving your neighbor. And that's the way it really is with the things that people really do agree on, universally.

The problem is that if you want something different than what your neighbor does, selfishness says to follow your own heart; selflessness says to toss it.

Putting no value of any sort on your own thoughts, your own feelings, isn't unique to altruism; it's common to almost every single philosophy that's ever existed, before. But altruism is the most popular form of it today.

If you say that what happens inside of your own brain doesn't matter frequently enough, eventually you'll start to believe it deep down, on a much more visceral level.

"It's good to suffer. Don't complain. Bear, bow, accept - and be grateful that God has made you suffer. For this makes you better than the people who are laughing and happy. If you don't understand this, don't try to understand. Everything bad comes from the mind, because the mind asks too many questions. It is blessed to believe, not to understand. So if you didn't get passing grades, be glad of it. It means that you are better than the smart boys who think too much and too easily."

That's what destroys a good mind.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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