Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Reblogged:A Second-Hander on His Second-Hand Car

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

... A Reflection on a Second Reading

I recall being mildly puzzled and amused at this editorial around the time Elon Musk acquired Twitter: The piece seemed a better parody on virtue-signaling than I could write if I tried.

I recall finding the squirming at the end especially amusing:
I don't know whether to sell [the Tesla I bought used] , but I do know that I'm just not as comfortable driving it anymore.

It's a beautifully designed car with no carbon emission, and initially, I was proud of owning it and being seen driving a vehicle that displayed my concern for the environment. But I'm a liberal, and if Musk's politics don't change radically for the better, driving a Tesla will become, at least for me, as hypocritical and untenable as driving a gas guzzler was.

If I shared the author's professed belief that every little reduction in exhaust emissions mattered -- and knew that my local electricity mix didn't simply mean I was driving a coal-powered car -- I'd just keep driving the Tesla because I would know why I was doing it.

Also, I'd ignore any snide remarks, and use any sincere questions as an opportunity to differentiate myself from Musk and help others understand why, Musk's boorishness to the contrary notwithstanding, his cars were still a help.

But this commentator seems really, as Ayn Rand put it, to have "chose[n] the authority of others" over the verdict of his own mind.

I ran into the bookmark for this piece this morning, long after I'd forgotten about it, and I found it a lot less funny this time around.

To see what I mean, first, consider the below:
Image by Katie Moum, via Unsplash, license.
They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They're concerned only with people. They don't ask: "Is this true?" They ask: "Is this what others think is true?" Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egoists. You don't think through another's brain and you don't work through another's hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality. Their reality is not within them, but somewhere in that space which divides one human body from another. Not an entity, but a relation -- anchored to nothing. That's the emptiness I couldn't understand in people. That's what stopped me whenever I faced a committee. Men without an ego. Opinion without a rational process. Motion without brakes or motor. Power without responsibility. The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person. It's everywhere and nowhere and you can't reason with him. He's not open to reason. [bold added]
Now, read the whole thing.

Maybe, when the news was fresh and I wanted a break from the wailing and gnashing of teeth, I needed a laugh a little too much. Maybe I really read it for the first time today.

In any event, it is striking and disturbing just how thoroughly the author leans on other people for guidance and ... praise, I guess. There are many people like him, and not just on the left.

Anyone who spends all his time "owning the libs" is doing the same thing. This doesn't get such a person closer to the truth, and it's just as much of a game of virtue-signaling.

Much of our culture, thanks to its religious element, left and right, is infected with virtue signaling -- with professing some "truth" or other in order to fit in. It is a rare person indeed who has neither succumbed, nor has had to fight against it, nor to recover from it to some degree.

Extreme cases are unreachable, and there are more and more of them by the day. And this is at a time we urgently need a more rational political debate. Taking potshots both tempts anyone sympathetic to the target to dig their heels in, and it encourages more second-handedness on the part of those nominal allies who are in fact brothers in spirit to the target.

The price of "owning" a political opponent is to cede the only ground worth standing on in an argument: objective reality.

-- CAV

Link to Original

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.

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.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

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