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Objectivists are working to save the world from tyranny--isn't that altruism?

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I know you might say that Objectivists have a self-interested reason in saving the world from tyranny--that in so doing, they are also saving themselves from tyranny.

 

But doesn't the best and safest position, from the point of view of pure practicality (if we take survival and prosperity of ourselves and our small circle of loved ones as the goal of ethics and of life), lie in being one of the tyrants? Don't we see that well-dramatized in the movies (and novels) "The Hunger Games" and Orwell's "1984"?

 

Isn't it against the self-interest of leaders to teach the whole population of the earth to pursue self-interest and to never sacrifice themselves for the Nation, the People, the State, the Party, the Leader, the Corporation, the Team, the Movement, or the God of one's religion?

 

Haven't leaders in all periods of human history found it advantageous to train the masses to believe in sacrificing themselves for some higher cause, purpose, or person? How else could the ancient Egyptian pyramids have been built? 

 

Aristotle was a firm believer in permanent enslavement for most of the people, so that the few aristocrats could lead lives of intellectual leisure, engaging in civic leadership, philosophy, the arts, and so on.

 

It seems like the Objectivist's educational activities directed to saving the world from tyranny go against what's best for the natural aristocracy, doesn't it?

 

It seems like the teachings of Objectivism should be kept within a small elite, and not disseminated for free to the masses as a sort of liberation campaign, which does seem like what is being done by leading Objectivist educational institutions and websites. Anyone can get a complete, full, and deep education in Objectivism for free with all the videos and texts made available on the Internet by Objectivists.

 

It is understandable that the Marxists would want to spread their doctrines to the masses, since their ethical aim (at least on paper) is the liberation of every person, and the improvement of the standard of living of the poorer people on the planet earth. Marxists, on paper at least, are altruists. Christians also want to covert everyone to Christianity, and, again, they have openly altruistic motives (at least on paper).

 

But Objectivists shun altruism. Yet, in seeming contradiction to that, Objectivists seem intent on saving the world (every single person) from tyranny. To me, this makes the Objectivist Movement look like a Liberation Movement for all the people of the earth.

 

Didn't John Galt give his big speech to the masses, to the whole nation, over the mass medium of radio? Wasn’t he trying to convert every American to the Objectivist philosophy? Wasn't John Galt and his small group working to liberate all of the people of the USA from the tyranny of socialists?

 

Wouldn't it have been better, from a purely practical point of view, for John Galt and his small group to have replaced the socialist tyrants and to have become the tyrants themselves? (While of course using intense propaganda to make the masses believe that that U.S. Constitution was still being followed). Isn't that essentially what the leaders have done in present-day nations such as Russia and China? Isn't that model of governance possibly coming to the USA as well, through certain well-known authoritarian "populist" leaders? Isn't this a natural development that makes perfect sense from the point of view of the self-interest of the leadership class (the so-called "one percent")?

 

I entirely agree that it is a great advantage (in business, politics, romance, the joy of living, etc.) to a person to be well-educated in Objectivism. But why would Objectivists want everyone to possess that advantage? Why would Objectivists want more people to be effectively and rationally competing against them?

 

This desire to educate the whole world in the philosophy of Objectivism seems to ultimately work against the self-interest of Objectivists. And the only explanation I can find for this anomaly is: unconscious altruistic impulses toward the great mass of people. In the Christian Bible, there is this passage: “When Jesus...saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” There we see a leader feeling pity and having thoughts and feelings of altruism regarding the great mass of people, and commencing to teach them things that would liberate them. Aren’t Objectivists feeling and thinking a similar altruism regarding “the people”?

 

Compare the Objectivist Movement to the Freemasonry Movement, back when men like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, John Hancock, John Marshall, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson were Freemasons. In this era, the men of the Freemason Movement were very influential in government and business. The Freemason Movement taught a philosophy of reason, and subtly opposed the ancient superstitions of religion. But they did not attempt to disseminate the philosophy of Freemasonry to the masses. Only certain men were invited to join and to learn.  The philosophy of Freemasonry was kept secret from the masses.

 

Well, what do you think? Is this a reasonable philosophical analysis? Do the seeming anomalies described in this comment point to a potential contradiction and hidden (unconscious) altruism within Objectivism? Does the drive within the Objectivism Movement, to save the world (the whole world) from tyranny and to educate every person to pursue self-interest and shun self-sacrifice for others, constitute a subtle form of altruistic sacrifice of self-interest?

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Is it in a person's interests to live as a con artist if they can "get away with it"?  Is it in a person's interests to live as a brigand if society is sufficiently nonfunctional that they can "get away with it"?  No, and no.  They get bad lives.

It is much more workable and much more satisfactory to live in a world where as many people as possible are rational and free than to live in a world where reason and freedom are reserved for an elite and most people are subjugated and propagandized.

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1 hour ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But why would Objectivists want everyone to possess that advantage?

Why is this bad?

1 hour ago, The Laws of Biology said:

I know you might say that Objectivists have a self-interested reason in saving the world from tyranny--that in so doing, they are also saving themselves from tyranny.

Who has said or implied that they want to save the world from tyranny?

1 hour ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Aristotle was a firm believer in permanent enslavement for most of the people, so that the few aristocrats could lead lives of intellectual leisure, engaging in civic leadership, philosophy, the arts, and so on.

I don't know where you got this interpretation. He didn't believe in the permanent enslavement for most people, and said nothing in particular about there being some superior class that others serve. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Identifying and discouraging insanity or insane ideas might be acceptable activity.

At what point does an insane person become an objective threat to the society in general? And when should the insane be quarantined, like those with a contagious virus are quarantined to preserve the general welfare?

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40 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

At what point does an insane person become an objective threat to the society in general? And when should the insane be quarantined, like those with a contagious virus are quarantined to preserve the general welfare?

Insane ideas spread, so discussing the matter might succeed in stopping it, at least in the case of the personal acquaintance you happen to to be dealing with... as to how much an objective threat to "society in general" insane ideas have as they spread from and to particular individuals, that is no easy question to answer.  I am not sure a metric for the sanity or insanity of society as such is workable, better to think in terms of societies which are beneficial or inimical to sane individuals, or how prevalent sane or insane ideas are within a society... I would argue society itself is neither sane nor insane but merely a collection of individuals.

People are not to be quarantined, nor are people's rights to freedom of speech to be infringed, such an approach to quelling the spread of insanity would be immoral.   

Persuasion and good ideas are the only proper ammunition against insane ideas and their spread. 

 

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From a strictly logical and practical point of view, I think it is better and safer for the powerful and rich people to govern by means of tyranny, deception, and authoritarianism, teaching the "little people" to sacrifice themselves for God and the Nation, than to try to liberate the masses by teaching them to live by liberty, personal agency, selfishness, rationality, sanity, and so on.

Any philosophy that fights tyranny and promotes liberty, selfishness, and rationality to the masses has, as one of its premises, an orientation of altruism toward the "little people." At least, I think so.

If every American refused self-sacrifice for God and the Nation, and pursued radical self-interest in a truly rational way, that would create a very dangerous situation for the billionaires: their lives and fortunes would be in danger from these liberated masses who would say, "Why should we honor the private property rights of these billionaires? Why don't we just take it for ourselves, if we can come together as a group and overpower the billionaires?"

All through the history of human civilization, including right up to the present time, I think the powerful and rich people have ruled by means of tyranny, deception, false propaganda, mythology, fake democracy, and authoritarianism, and this has been true in Capitalist nations in which the rich have ruled (Rockefellers, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, etc.), in Communist countries in which leaders of the Communist Party ruled, in medieval Catholic Europe in which very often the Pope of Rome had decisive, tyrannical ruling power, and in ancient Imperial Rome when the Emperor had total power. 

I know I have not answered this matter fully. 

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14 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

If every American refused self-sacrifice for God and the Nation, and pursued radical self-interest in a truly rational way, that would create a very dangerous situation for the billionaires: their lives and fortunes would be in danger from these liberated masses who would say, "Why should we honor the private property rights of these billionaires? Why don't we just take it for ourselves, if we can come together as a group and overpower the billionaires?"

We need to help people understand why such behavior is immoral and destructive of their own interests.

If the masses believe altruism, they may say "These rich and powerful aren't being altruistic as they should.  Let's make them do it."

To the extent that anyone realizes they are being ruled by tyranny, deception, false propaganda, mythology, fake democracy, and authoritarianism, they are likely to rebel.

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3 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Only when insanity expresses itself as the initiation of physical force should force be used against it.

But by definition, the potential exists. The potential for this transformation also exist with faith based thinking.

At what point should we treat a potentiality as if it were the actual expression of force?

A person tells you he fantasizes about stabbing you. There is a knife on a table within his reach. Is the moment of expression when he said that to you, or when he reaches for the knife, or when he lunges at you?

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6 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Persuasion and good ideas are the only proper ammunition against insane ideas and their spread. 

I was tempted to suggest a set of ear-plugs. If an idea can't be heard, it can't be as easily spread. Since insane ideas can inexplicably be detrimental to a rational society, ear-plugs should be worn by all in order to prevent any insane idea(s) from being heard and potentially spread to others.

<tongue-in-cheek>

Edited by dream_weaver
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5 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Any philosophy that fights tyranny and promotes liberty, selfishness, and rationality to the masses has, as one of its premises, an orientation of altruism toward the "little people." At least, I think so.

Plato thought the masses were incurably ignorant. Aristotle wrote for a reasonable audience. 

Is there a philosophy that fights tyranny and promotes liberty, selfishness, and rationality to the masses?

As Sir Roger Bacon observed: nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. Is this a recipe for "deceiving the minds of others", "an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee"?

You might consider rethinking a few of your broader points.

 

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20 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

A person tells you he fantasizes about stabbing you. There is a knife on a table within his reach. Is the moment of expression when he said that to you, or when he reaches for the knife, or when he lunges at you?

We need more details to know exactly where to draw the line.  If I find myself in such a situation, I must judge as well as I can what to do, using all the information available.  I should at least remain wary, may decide to call 911, and may decide to take direct physical action.

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The Laws of Biology,

Ayn Rand made a small fortune writing on her philosophy of Objectivism

and integrating its principles and values in her fiction works.

She personally had a lot to gain from speaking truth that she held dear.

We Objectivists are not being altruists by wanting to promote her ideas.

It is in our own interests for others to be happy and lead good lives.

We take a sense of pride from promoting principles we deem to be sound.

The fact that these principles are helpful to others does not constitute altruism.

Ayn Rand always said it is not wrong to help people,

as long as you know that you are not morally obligated to

and that helping others is not the primary purpose of your existence.

Most people on this forum and in the institutions promoting Objectivism

work for a living,

or if they are young, plan on working for a living.

Sharing Objectivism with others is something that interests us on the side.

It is in our interest. Each of us has a selfish interest in helping others learn.

Otherwise, it would be impossible for an Objectivist to become a teacher.

As soon as you choose helping others as a value, it is in your interest to help others.

But that comes after your decision to live primarily for yourself.

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As far as tyranny is concerned,

I personally wish for the United States to never be tyrannical.

This is primarily because I myself do not want to be a victim of tyranny.

But I also value the freedom of others, not because I am an altruist,

but because I think it is right and just for others to be happy and free.

Why would we Objectivists want capitalism if it wasn't capitalism for everybody?

Our interest in a free society comes from our adherence to the truth and beauty of the idea,

not because we value other people's freedom more than our own.

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  • 7 months later...
On 8/19/2021 at 11:12 AM, The Laws of Biology said:

I know you might say that Objectivists have a self-interested reason in saving the world from tyranny--that in so doing, they are also saving themselves from tyranny

I am not so sure that Objectivists are saving the ‘world’ as much as they are saving their own little part of it. It is difficult to argue that they are ultimately going to impact the ‘world’ with their thoughts and actions or their own expectations will be difficult to implement, but the only real intent is to control their own environment, knowing full well that without impacting the world, that environment is at risk.

The true intent is the contrary to what you present. The Objectivist acts in accordance with their own conclusions derived from their own philosophy hoping that enough other individuals will act in a way that will control the outcome. If successful, this will ensure that tyranny will not prevail. Without the use of force, what other actions would be considered legitimate?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Lone Cypress said:

I am not so sure that Objectivists are saving the ‘world’ as much as they are saving their own little part of it.

  • When I read depictions of how Ayn Rand often spoke to students or learners at her meetings, I get the impression that Ayn Rand was indeed trying to save those students from unreason.
  • She would strongly and passionately urge her students to "Check your premises!" for example.
  • Now, this is just an impression of mine.
  • Yet, I think it is reasonable to observe someone's behavior and draw logical conclusions about what is probably motivating the person.
  • From these descriptions that I have read (from what I think are credible, accurate sources), I can't help but conclude that Ayn Rand cared about the present and future well-being of her fellow human beings, men and women.
  • She seemed very passionate about saving people ("saving the world," if you like) from bad philosophy, precisely because she did care about her fellow human beings and wanted to see them flourish, prosper, and be happy, rather than seeing them being enslaved, suffering, being the cause of unjust suffering in others, being abused, abusing others, being lied to, tricked, bullied, lying to others, grifting, mooching, being mooched on, and so on.
  • I speculate that Ayn Rand's care and concern about the well being of other human beings is one of the things that ultimately led her to distance herself from the misanthropic, sadistic principles sometimes enunciated by Nietzsche.
  • But did Ayn Rand ever say, expressly and directly, that she valued and cared about the well-being of other human beings in a way that was independent of her calculations of her own self-interest? No, not that I know of.
  • So, I suppose I'm speculating that this was a dimension of Ayn Rand's psyche of which she herself was not aware.  
  • So, in these comments, I am playing the role of a psychoanalyst (Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, etc.), rather than the role of Aristotelian philosopher. 
  • Aristotelian philosophy is very logical in its own way. But there is a certain logic in the newer science of psychology as well. Even the name "psychology" breaks down into "psyche + logic."
  • Blaise Pascal wrote in his famous book Pensees: "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing".
  • In much the same vein, Shakespeare has his Hamlet say, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
  • I can't help but wonder what Ayn Rand would have learned about herself and her motivations, and about other people, if she had undergone psychoanalysis (Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian). 
Edited by The Laws of Biology
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If one holds that Objectivism is a philosophy for living on earth, the question of 'saving the world' or 'saving others' should only come up in the context of what value the 'world' or 'others' have to you as an individual.

Living in a rational society provides benefits that could not be acquired living on an uncharted island or a struggle to be self-sufficient off the grid. Personally, I like growing a small vegetable garden, even though a portion of it often gets pilfered by the local wildlife. It reminds me of how convenient it is to have grocery stores that rely on professionals that grow much of the world's food much more efficiently than I can on a modest suburban lot.

For what it's worth, @The Laws of Biology, The Psychology of Psychologizing is available at the ARI Campus. It reminded me of how Hank Rearden offered Lillian (among others) the benefit of the doubt at so many steps along the way. It ties in with part of Galt's Speech as well:

"While you were dragging to your sacrificial altars the men of justice, of independence, of reason, of wealth, of self-esteem—I beat you to it, I reached them first. I told them the nature of the game you were playing and the nature of that moral code of yours, which they had been too innocently generous to grasp. I showed them the way to live by another morality—mine. It is mine that they chose to follow.

Man, by the grace of nature, is a moral being. And with another H/T to Miss Rand, she saw it too when she expressed in her essay Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World:

There is a tragic, twisted sort of compliment to mankind involved in this issue: in spite of all their irrationalities, inconsistencies, hypocrisies and evasions, the majority of men will not act, in major issues, without a sense of being morally right and will not oppose the morality they have accepted. They will break it, they will cheat on it, but they will not oppose it; and when they break it, they take the blame on themselves. The power of morality is the greatest of all intellectual powers—and mankind’s tragedy lies in the fact that the vicious moral code men have accepted destroys them by means of the best within them.

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