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Confusion Abounds, Can You Help?

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Yep, Im new here. I've read The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, and The Romantic Manifesto. I've also read essays by Peter Kropotkin and Noam Chomsky. I listen to Rage Against the Machine, Sublime, A Perfect Circle, Crass, etc. Im not into the whole punk scene however. Im a straight A student; last quarter I got 3 A+s and one A. I like reading and studying computers/computer security. I live in rural Indiana.

Why did I tell you all that? To give you a sort of background to who I am and what has shaped me. Now, onto the problems that have racked my brain for far too long.

I was religious until about 12 or 13. Then I realized it was all a load of shit. I guess thats when I really started wondering and becoming interested in things. Other religions. Not really philosophy, not right away. Im still interested in more "spiritual" religions, at the age of 17. I still go to a Pentacostal Church, being forced to by my mother.

I saw that in religion, most of the people are fairly hypocritical. They said one thing to each others face and another thing behind their backs. Not to mention the superstition. So I dropped religion, took up reason, I suppose.

I read parts of the works of Robert Ingersoll, visited sites like infidels.org, The Ragged Trousered Philosopher, http://www.fullmoon.nu/book/, and of course, infoshop.org

Let me say that I do not advocate Communism, in the sense of China, or any other "communist" country. I do not advocate socialism by a government. What has appealed to me most is anarchism, and I will explain why.

In the anarchism I studied, by Kropotkin, and the majority of other anarchists, there is no capital. No government. Society is run by organizations, of free voluntary association. To back this up, Kropotkin pointed to the thousands of organizations that men create, voluntarily, for no profit. The Life Boat Association, he mentioned, which worked to save the lives of men. All these groups that had certain interests, worked together freely. They were not required to work.

In my eyes, I've always seen capitalism -- and I must stress that I mean capitalism in the real-world sense, not the ideal sense that I think Rand promotes -- has served to stupefy and enslave man. We have a population caught up in reality TV shows and NBA playoffs and they don't give a shit that 1 billion people live on a dollar a day, or thousands of children die every hour. It pisses me off that people just buy, buy, buy, consume, consume, consume, and do not appear to think for themselves. When I've discussed politics at school, many of the kids can only respond with "I love America, Im a patriot." I ask them why and they have nothing. No arguments to back it up. Its like they are a void, filled with everything the TV sells them.

People go to work, many at jobs they hate. For example, I work at a fast food job. It sucks. My pay is capped at $6.20 an hour. I have to work 30 hours a week to put gas in my car + make the car payment, and I've only got a little left over, while attending school. I don't mind work. Working itself does not bother me. The fact that I have to work with people who seem to be slightly incompetent DOES piss me off. So, we go to work at jobs we hate, to make enough money to live. That has alway seemed the jist of capitalism to me. You get paid to survive, and purchase things for your happiness. Meanwhile, your employer sits in an office and makes millions of the labor of little workers making $6.00 an hour.

Never seemed right to me. In an anarchist society, the idea is that people work free of charge. In return, goods are distributed free of charge. I mean, lets say there is a shoe factory in your town. Town has a population of 1,000 people. The factory can make 500 shoes a day. You can, in two days, make enough shoes to give everyone in your town a pair. The surplus that could amount is staggering, and the idea in anarchism is that everyone gets a pair of shoes. What then, after the factory doesn't have to work? You can work somewhere else, or just enjoy recreation. The bourgeoisie gets to enjoy recreation quite a bit, do they not? Million dollar yachts and fine dining and music.

Maybe some of you will tell me I need to go read this book or that; that is fine, I probably will. But I ask you as well to visit infoshop.org and read the Anarchist FAQ, the myths of capitalism and such. At least see where I am coming from. Im not here to try and convert people, its quite the opposite.

When I discovered Anthem, I fell in love. Atlas Shrugged is probably my favorite novel. The characters in Rands novel were people I wanted to be like. I could identify with them. I am a definite fan of Ayn Rand, do not get me wrong. I see many good things in capitalism as well. The ability to work and get ahead. Get paid according to your work, your drive and ambition can make you rich.

One last thing is, what type of government would Objectivists advocate? I do not agree with, for example, Bush's wiretapping. I hold that as an individual, I may not have a right to privacy. But I still desire it. What right does anyone else have to invade it? If we allow it, what else will we allow? I like 1984 because I think it paints many possibilities. I do not want a totalitarian government. You know what I want? I could almost cry as I type this, because I want it so badly... I want a world without hunger, where everyone can work a job they love. A world without racism, without ignorance, a world of intelligence and education. A world without pollution, without crime. The struggle I have is deciding whether Objectivism can do this or not. It just seems that with capitalism, we always have a surplus of food... which gets burned because we can't profit off of it...meanwhile, people are starving.

I look forward to hearing from you all, because this inner philosophical/spiritual struggle has literally left me not knowing what to think about anything. Im so goddamned confused it isn't funny. I have a hard time knowing who I am and what I want to do anymore.

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Oh boy, where to start?

Why would people work for free? After all, its more fun to sit at home reading than to work in a shoe factory.

Oh and where does the shoe factory come from? Thin air?

Anarchism doesn't work because there needs to be some organized, rational mechanism for dealing with criminals and settling civil disputes. Otherwise society become a "wild west" free-for-all.

Working fast food pays very little because it requires very little skill. If you would rather be an employer, go ahead and start your own business.

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Allow me to suggest reading The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. That would be the quickest way for you to get the answers to many of your questions. You are naturally confused because you still have a lot to read.

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Welcome to the forum. I see some people have answered while I was typing, but I think I still have something of value to add.

You mentioned that you are 17. It is no surprise that you are working for less money than most people. This is something that will change with experience. But it isn't going to change without some effort on your part. If you aren't satisfied with what you are making, check the job adds every week until you find something. Also, consider living on a smaller budget. I don't buy cars that cost more than $2,500... At least, I won't until I have a much larger income.

I used to think of myself as an Anarchist, but I never abandoned the notion of property. I came to realize that a government was a necessary instrument to protect all rights, including property rights.

I don't necessarily think that Ayn Rand should have called her ideal system "Capitalism." While any proper government should be capitalistic in the sense that it protects property, and thus enforces the notion that people deserve the values that they create, her ideal government was based on the principle of individual rights derived from the survival requirements of man - a principle that implies property rights, among many other rights.

I don't want to shatter your worldview (well, I do, but I don't want it to be painful), but your Anarchist society flies in the face of reality. While people would be free to work for their lives, they would also be free not to. The simple fact is that man must act if he is to survive, let alone be happy. No social system should set about trying to deny reality, because those attempts necessarily end in disaster.

Objectivism advocates Laissez-Faire Capitalism. This is a system that recognizes, among other things, that men must be free to use their minds to promote their lives. It also recognizes the fact that, at any time, a volitional human being can choose to deny the requirements of man's life and violate the rights of another. This is why a policing body is necessary. While I don't have any sources that point to an Objectivist authority advocating wiretapping, I believe it is well within the proper bounds of government to listen to the communications of suspected hostile organizations.

As far as food not getting to those who are starving, simply look at the governments that they live under. There is no system in place to protect the rights of those people. Have you ever entertained the notion that Statism and Anarchy as two sides of the same coin?

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Welcome to the forum. I sincerely hope you find the answers you are looking for. I have very little to add to what featherfall has said, but simply would like to point out that your system of anarchy would be great, right up to the first time someone decided to be immoral. No one could find joy in the society you described. Lastly, I second the recomendation of Capitalism: the uknown ideal and The Virtue of Selfishness.

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Consider first that getting out of the conflicting hell in which you live is possible, but only possible by solving the problem yourself.

The second thing for you to fully understand is just how badly you were abused (mentally and intellectually), if at all, as you grew up in your household and in your community. For example, if you had an emotional experience or were severely influenced by others who had them in a 'Pentecostal' enviornment your scars, will be vastly different from one who was simply an observer in such a household.

The third thing to consider is your qualifications to grapple with these issues with the cognitive skills you possess today (it will not be easy!). For example, if you were taking an advanced calculus course lacking a solid grip on algebra you would go mad - and soon drop the course. Many, many people read AR and 'drop her advanced course' bcause they lack the prerequesites.

The first of the prerequisites are to thoroughly de-program yourself by integrating Objectivism's three fundamental axioms into your whole psyche. Once you have achieved that, the remaining steps become obvious and executing them are comparatively easy.

Good luck to you.

Cecil R. Williams

[email protected]

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In an anarchist society, the idea is that people work free of charge. In return, goods are distributed free of charge. I mean, lets say there is a shoe factory in your town. Town has a population of 1,000 people. The factory can make 500 shoes a day. You can, in two days, make enough shoes to give everyone in your town a pair. The surplus that could amount is staggering, and the idea in anarchism is that everyone gets a pair of shoes. What then, after the factory doesn't have to work?


I want a world without hunger, where everyone can work a job they love.

Your expectations are unreasonable; the world does not work that way. A town where the factory produces shoes must make shoes not just for its own people, but for many other towns. Because those towns are busy making other things which the people in your town need, so they cannot make their own shoes. There will not be any staggering surplus.

A world without hunger is impossible. Especially, if it is a world where people do what they like to do rather than what is necessary to feed other people. So your desires contradict each other.

When other people take what you produce and use it to satisfy their needs, what assurance do you have that they will produce and give to you what you need? There are two possible ways to see to it that they do: (1) use force (thru a government) to force them to produce what you need, or (2) only let them have what they want on the CONDITION that they give you what you need. I prefer the second method. And history and economics show that the second method works much better than the first.

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