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[P]
Two Essays on Objectivist Ethics

By anaesthetica in Politics
Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 06:35:54 AM EST
Tags: objectivism, ethics, ayn rand, rights, government, philosophy, political theory (all tags)

Two essays from Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness are reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal as the ethical basis for her moral defense of capitalism.

"Man's Rights" and "The Nature of Government" are pedestrian defenses of a natural law conception of man's natural rights and of a concept of government that mixes enumerated powers and individual rights with the Weberian concept of the state.

In positing individual rights and enumerated powers as defenses against arbitrary exercise of power, Rand employs arbitrary qualifiers in her concept-building, rendering her definitions of crucial terms meaningless for both practical and political purposes.


Man's Rights

First, Rand defines rights not in theological or social contractual or in practical terms, but in moral-relational terms. Rights define how the individual relates to society. She asserts that rights are the moral basis for law, and that rights are a means for subordinating society to the individual. Rights do not subordinate society to the individual in their essence--but it is their function to do so within Rand's thought.

She contrasts this to collectivist societies in which the individual is subordinated to society, and rights are merely granted to the individual. In practical terms, the rulers of collectivist societies are above the law, Rand maintains. Even majoritarian democracy, if unrestrained by rights or enumerated powers, falls under her definition of a collectivist society (she uses the nominally ruler-less Athenian polis as an example).

Second, Rand distinguishes between positive and negative freedoms, a position that was undoubtedly informed by Isaiah Berlin's 1958 lecture, "Two Concepts of Liberty." Negative freedoms impose a negative obligation: to not do something that would be injurious to the rights of individuals. Positive freedoms are moral sanctions for behavior: that one should be free to perform certain actions without restraint. All rights define either positive or negative freedoms: that you are free to act in a certain way or that others cannot interfere in your actions in a certain way.

Third, Rand then proceeds to use her action-centric definitions of rights to defend a natural law conception of rights. Here lie the logical fallacies that crucially undermine her argument. In particular, her explanations of natural rights each rely on an arbitrary and undefined qualifier:

  • "[The right to property] is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it."
  • "...[Man] is an entity of a specific kind--a rational being--that he cannot function successfully under coercion, and that rights are a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival.
  • Rights are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival.

The arbitrary qualifiers are highlighted in bold above. These are examples of the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy, in which an otherwise straightforward declarative statement is rendered essentially meaningless by including a debatable boundary rather than a fixed boundary in its definition. Who determines when something is truly "earned," what constitutes "successful" human functioning, what man's necessary "particular mode" is, and what the terms of "proper" survival are? Rand does not.

Fourth, Rand decries the shifting use of the word "right" from meaning freedom to act or to be free from constraint to an entitlement to an outcome. Thus a right to property changes in meaning from a freedom to purchase and dispose of property to an entitlement to have property. Because that entitlement to property, a scarce resource, must require a transfer of assets from some individuals to other individuals, Rand asserts that rights-as-entitlements are a return to collectivism and de facto slavery.

Fifth, another shift Rand perceives is the restrictions placed upon the government to limit its power are increasingly applied to private individuals or firms. Censorship is government restriction of free speech, but is an accusation leveled at private firms (e.g. media and publishing companies). To remedy "censorship" by private entities, the government's powers are increased beyond their properly restricted bounds. By changing the proper target of limitation from the government to private entities, the government's power is increased and the rights of private entities to the free disposal of their property is decreased. This too she sees as a move toward collectivism.

There are two important contradictions that arise in Rand's thought process. First, in terms of man's rational judgment, and second, in terms of collective vs. individual rights.

Rand stresses that rights are necessary because of man's nature, and man's nature is rational. Rand places man's rational nature at the source of both his rights and his values. His value judgments are his own because he is rational. Collectivist systems expropriate (or, one might better use the term 'alienate' in order to strengthen the contrast with Marxist materialism) the rational individual's values through coercion.

However, Rand also discusses the protection of the rights of individuals against criminals. Criminals are those that violate the rights of others. But no discussion takes place of the competing value claims that underlie what constitutes criminal behavior and what does not. Clearly, Rand would take a minimalist view of what the necessary amount and scope of statutory law ought to be (a topic she discusses briefly in the subsequent essay, below). However, "criminals" seem to have an ontologically antecedent status in her piece--no mention is made of a rational man's transubstantiation from moral individual into criminal. The potential conflict between man's behavior based on his individual rational valuation of life and the expropriation of his values through the state coercion enforcing a law based on a morality of individual rights goes unexplored.

Finally, Rand argues that there are no rights other than individual rights. Collective entities are not individuals--thus there is no one to hold the collective right. However, this conflicts with her defense of the right of corporations to dispose of their property as they see fit. Corporations that issue stock are not privately owned (corporation sole) but collectively owned (corporation aggregate). The corporation is a legal person and individual shareholders are shielded from liability. It is hard to reconcile Rand's defense of the rights of collectively owned corporations with her insistence that only individuals can possess rights. Corporate ownership of property (and thus, asserted property rights) is both voluntary and private, but nonetheless collective. Why does one collectivity, the corporation, possess rights, while all other collective groups do not?

The Nature of Government

"The Nature of Government" is a logical extension of Rand's piece on "Man's Rights," building her theory of rights into a theory of the proper role of government.

First, she begins with a force-based definition of government, clearly informed by Max Weber's canonical definition of the state:

  • Max Weber: "...a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory."
  • Ayn Rand: "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area."

While less elegant that Weber's formulation, Rand's achieves the same purpose: a definition of the state as the sole legitimate authority capable of exercising force within a territory. As opposed to other spheres of life, Rand treats force as a natural monopoly, a realm in which competition can only lead to disaster, not the progress of civilization. Sovereignty, however restrained and checked, must nevertheless be unitary and effective.

Second, Rand asserts that only force can violate man's rights. Thus the two entities that can violate man's rights are the government and criminals. The government is instituted in order to protect man's rights from criminals. But no counterforce against the state exists to protect the people from government violation of their rights. By setting up force as the root of rights violations, Rand is setting up her anti-government stance at the fundamental conceptual level. Recall from her previous essay the odd a priori ontological status she assigns criminals--a class of individuals that are not created but simply exist. As such, the only significant threat to rights, by definition, is the government.

Her position that only force can violate man's rights becomes visibly absurd when she defines breach of contract, fraud, and extortion as "indirect use of force." That is to say, force has no actually been used, but a theft (that might otherwise have necessitated use of force) has occurred. These forms of deceit are obviously not a use of force, nor are their negative outcomes an implicit or indirect use of force. They are negative outcomes, but Rand needs to define them as a use of force in order to sustain her position that rights can only be violated by force, a position that is necessary for her attack on government.

Third, the government and the people have different abilities to use force legitimately: the government has the sole ability to legitimately use force, whereas force is barred from use by the people for the sake of civilization. It follows, for Rand, that because of their differing abilities to use force legitimately, the government and the people has different levels of restraint placed upon them. The government has prior restraint on all actions except those actions explicitly permitted to it, while the people enjoy no prior restraint on any actions except those actions explicitly forbidden to them.

Fourth, the requirement of explicitly permitted government action requires two things: "objective" rules (both legal and evidentiary) for the identification and prosecution of criminals, and a constitution of "objective" enumerated powers. Here the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy rears its head once again, for by what standard can we determine whether a rule is objective or not?

A rejoinder that would certainly infuriate Rand would come from Carl Schmitt, a German legal scholar labeled the "crown jurist of the Third Reich." Rand stresses that government must act like "an impersonal robot" with "objective" laws as its only motivating force. Schmitt's critique of liberalism's attempt to rationalize all politics through a comprehensive legalism was simply that law could not possibly cover every possible crisis. In a Gödelian move, Schmitt argues that even a seemingly complete legal framework will nonetheless face constitutional or external crises that will manifest themselves as an "exception." This forms the core of his defense of a sovereign with absolute authority, during the state of exception, with the object of restoring the constitutional order and ending the crisis. For Rand to insist on a government-as-automaton ("the separation of force and whim"), Schmitt would argue is to treat politics as apolitical and to negligently disregard the possibility of constitutional crisis.

Here we reach the apex of the contradictions: Rand places man's rationality as the source of man's rights; man's rights can only be violated by force; unitary government sovereignty must exist to protect man's rights, yet government force is then the greatest threat to man's rights; the sovereign government must be an automaton because "man's rights may not be left at the mercy of the unilateral decision, the arbitrary choice, the irrationality, the whim of another man."

Man's rationality is the lynchpin of both man's rights and the need to protect against sovereign irrationality. If men are also irrational, including the public servants in the government, whence man's rights and whence government's authority? In Rand's world, only the rational would be deserving of rights and qualified to become a public servant, but who are these rational people and what constitutes rationality?

The government's authority, according to Rand, stems from the consent of the governed. The governed delegate (not alienate) their rights to the government, for specified, enumerated purposes. Delegation of rights, in which they are only temporarily transferred by the people to the government, is the hallmark of theories of popular sovereignty. This is in contrast to the Bodin-Hobbes-Schmitt line of sovereignty theorists who argue that rights are alienated from the people and collected in the unitary sovereign authority.

Rand seems to take both sides of the sovereignty issue. She argues that the authority to legitimately use force must be collected in a unitary actor, but that rights are only delegated not alienated. Nevertheless, recall her earlier point that collective entities cannot possess rights--a position that seems to argue against both popular sovereignty and sovereign authoritarianism, because in each case a collective entity possesses rights, whether delegated or alienated. If the government is to have rights, and collective entities cannot have rights, it must be the individual sovereign that holds those rights--but this is exactly what Rand wishes to avoid, the concentration of authority in the whim of an individual.

Conclusion

Ayn Rand is not a systematic thinker, although it is clear that she passionately cares about the substance of freedom and the institutions within which freedom can be practiced. Arbitrary qualifiers and contradictory constructions mar her efforts at concept building. Insofar as Rand holds that these two concepts are necessary foundations for her moral theory of capitalism, it is difficult to see how her church could last, built on sand instead of rock. I am a capitalist, but Rand is a flawed prophet.

Bibliography

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Poll
Card-carrying member of United Fools?
o Jean Bodin 33%
o Thomas Hobbes 16%
o Karl Marx ("Fools of the world unite! You have only your ????? to lose.") 50%
o Max Weber 33%
o Carl Schmitt 16%
o Isaiah Berlin 33%
o Ayn Rand 66%
o Randian Objectivists 83%
o anaesthetica 33%
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Votes: 6
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Related Links
o Les Six livres de la République
o Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil
o The German Ideology
o Alienation
o Politics as a Vocation
o Monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force
o Political Theology
o Two Concepts of Liberty
o Man's Rights
o The Nature of Government
o The Virtue of Selfishness
o Capitalism : The Unknown Ideal
o Thinking About Thinking - or do I sincerely want to be right?
o No true Scotsman
o Political innovation and conceptual change
o Also by anaesthetica


Display: Sort:
Two Essays on Objectivist Ethics | 103 comments (100 topical, 3 editorial, 7 hidden)
I TOO (2.37 / 8) (#3)
by Nimey on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:29:26 PM EST

HAVE READ THE ENTIRE 100+-PAGE SPEECH IN "ATLAS SHRUGGED".
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

Actually, I've never read Atlas Shrugged (1.50 / 2) (#7)
by anaesthetica on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:08:29 PM EST

Just those two essays discussed in the article.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
The Ayn rand Phase is for boys what (2.66 / 9) (#4)
by Hiphopopotamus on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:52:16 PM EST

becoming vegan because moral/emotional reasons is for girls. Both wear off at graduation.
_________________

I'm In LOVE!

Never went through one, but... (2.57 / 7) (#5)
by anaesthetica on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:06:35 PM EST

The girlfriend before my current one went through an Ayn Rand phase, a phase which was highly correlated with me dumping her.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
I like you (2.25 / 4) (#6)
by Hiphopopotamus on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:07:31 PM EST


_________________

I'm In LOVE!
[ Parent ]

ATTN K5 GAY SEX HOOKUP IN PROGRESS $ (2.40 / 5) (#8)
by Nimey on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:15:25 PM EST


--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]
I'm using him to get to you (2.57 / 7) (#10)
by Hiphopopotamus on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:27:19 PM EST


_________________

I'm In LOVE!
[ Parent ]

Stealing my Unicode LTR char in the sig schtick? (2.25 / 4) (#15)
by BadDoggie on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:53:50 AM EST

What Would Ayn Rand Do?

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

I stole your intellectual property... (2.00 / 3) (#18)
by anaesthetica on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:59:06 AM EST

...therefore I am an irrational criminal.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
No, (none / 1) (#42)
by BadDoggie on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:28:36 AM EST

just unoriginal.

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

I think it's more of a reaction to (none / 1) (#92)
by Morally Inflexible on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 12:50:35 AM EST

going through the public school system, escaping, and getting a reasonably good job. I had some Marxist leanings as a child... I read a lot of skinner and other hippy sociology. But then I went through a public high school, and really, once you live amongst the proletariat, well, you loose all sympathy. It's clear that if they had half a chance, they'd slaughter us all.

and then the experience of getting a job. All through school, nearly everyone claims to be acting on altruistic motives... "It's for your own good." but life was nearly intolerable. Once I got out into the job market, and everyone was unabashedly attempting to exploit me, life actually became pretty good. Being exploited, it would seem, is much more comfortable than being 'helped'

Now, personally, I find Rand to be irritatingly strident and emotional. But I find most confident people to be irritating. I'm just trying to explain why libertarian philosophy appeals to much to people who are economically able but politically incompetent.

It makes just as much sense as the art student with no real job prospects but many friends favoring a more collectivist system. People who are bad at productive work and good at getting sympathy do quite well in the 'from each according to his ability... to each according to his need' system.

[ Parent ]

MTV, VTD (1.60 / 5) (#9)
by lonelyhobo on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:15:59 PM EST

no way am I reading something with a bibliography section.  Especially something about a philosophy that's a shield for the rich and those so deluded to believe they could be powerful or self-sufficient.

why are you so anti-Man? /nt (1.50 / 2) (#12)
by nostalgiphile on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:55:27 PM EST



"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Would it be better if I integrated the bib. links (1.50 / 2) (#19)
by anaesthetica on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:06:13 AM EST

into the text of the article itself?

If you read it, you'd see that it's a critique of that philosophy-for-the-deluded.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
mandatory supplementary copypasta (2.25 / 4) (#11)
by nostalgiphile on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:48:30 PM EST

"Slacker," Dagny screamed with indignation and a pointed finger.

"Yes Dagny, you silly silly woman, I may seem a slacker to you, but after ten pages of explanation you will know that it is you who slack and it is I who serve a higher cause which will not be explained for another seven hundred pages. Remember, I am a d'Anconia which goes without saying that I know what I am doing," he mocked. He was so perfect at mocking. No man mocked like Francisco. How she wanted to be back in his arms. Were it not for... no! He was a slacker! The very embodiment of slack yet... yet he slacked with purpose. Even that was perfect. No man slacked like Francisco.

"What in capitalism's name is going on here," Hank yelled with bursting anger from the bottom of his manly lungs as he lunged through the door. It wasn't as perfect as Francisco's mockery, no man could touch that, but it was with the kind of power only a capitalist could muster. Dagny fluttered with lust.

from the Abridged Atlas Shrugged


"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler

Ann Rand is whacked, just look at her followers. (2.00 / 6) (#13)
by Ron Paul on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:33:54 AM EST


This [Ron Paul] Diary! has brought Kuro5hin back to life! HUZZAH


+1 FP, you know the drill (2.00 / 3) (#14)
by GrubbyBeardedHermit on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:45:53 AM EST


GBH

objectivism: (2.14 / 7) (#20)
by circletimessquare on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:24:47 AM EST

aka, simple selfishness. dressed up in philosophical terms to sound somehow deeper and more complicated, when it isn't

you can dress an ignorant whore up in a fine dress, but she's still an ignorant whore

the cult of ayn rand and the cult of l ron hubbard: two retarded offspring of the 20th century that won't see the 22nd century


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Yo (1.50 / 2) (#21)
by DK4 Bloo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:38:53 AM EST

how's the movie going?

[ Parent ]
yo (2.25 / 4) (#22)
by circletimessquare on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:41:17 AM EST

i'm a retard. i start lots of projects, and finish none of them

the principle actor just recently came over and we reviewed some footage. when i find the time, i'll edit it up. could be in a month, could be in 3 years


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Okay (2.00 / 3) (#23)
by DK4 Bloo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:56:14 AM EST

I remembering reading your sig a while ago and only read it again in this post. You should add your other unfinished things in there, I'll ask about them periodically.

[ Parent ]
please don't, its too depressing (2.00 / 3) (#24)
by circletimessquare on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 11:04:42 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Real Soon Now {[nt (1.50 / 2) (#28)
by Stick Apart on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:23:21 PM EST


-------
JOIN THE RAY ECKSON CLUB
[ Parent ]
It's on the same release schedule as (2.50 / 6) (#31)
by anaesthetica on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:51:57 PM EST

Ogg Frog, right?

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
I leave this site for two years (none / 0) (#101)
by LodeRunner on Thu Dec 18, 2008 at 09:56:23 PM EST

(except for the rare visit) and when I'm back, cts's movie and Ogg Frog are still in the making. Amazing.

(Looking at my own unfinished works gathering dust in my HD, I somehow start to feel that I do really belong to this sh^H^Hplace.)

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Welcome home $ (none / 1) (#102)
by anaesthetica on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 07:06:43 PM EST


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
"The Virtues of Selfishness" (2.50 / 6) (#26)
by anaesthetica on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:15:17 PM EST

I don't think it's dressed up at all. It's unabashedly selfish and proudly, moralizingly so.

What I try to point out in this article is that the concept-building that Rand engages in to make a foundation for her larger arguments for Objectivism are fundamentally flawed.

There are three key problems:

  1. Definitions with arbitrary qualifiers;
  2. Internal contradictions between the source of rights and the role of sovereign government; and,
  3. Unjustified ontological assumptions.

I am a capitalist, I think capitalism is the best system we've come up with so far, but I think Rand is an embarrassment.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
vote it up, dickface (1.50 / 2) (#38)
by loteck on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:40:56 PM EST

aren't you the one always saying everything should always be voted up? get to it, idiot.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
okay (1.50 / 2) (#39)
by circletimessquare on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:18:28 AM EST

i had every intention of voting it up

relax cuntface


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

uh, yeah. (none / 0) (#93)
by Morally Inflexible on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 01:00:54 AM EST

I can't think of an appropriate quote, but no objectivist would argue with you if you claim the point is honest selfishness.

Personally, though, I think that's how all rational people choose a political stance. "What is good for me?" If you are good at convincing other people that you need a lot and you aren't very good at productive work, a 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need' system works out pretty well for you.

[ Parent ]

go watch "its a wonderful life" (none / 0) (#95)
by circletimessquare on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 05:16:24 AM EST

the altruistic impulse is just as inbred and psychologically valid as the selfish one

and this makes sense because altruistic people make for strong offspring and strong communities, which helps in survival

and if you say being altruistic for your family or your community is a form of selfishness, now you are just redefining your terms, and you lose your point


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

then why do most 'altruistic' people (none / 0) (#96)
by Morally Inflexible on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 11:45:58 PM EST

seem to want to control those they claim to help?

Sure, I'll help you if you are going to help shape the world in the direction I want it shaped.


I believe that what you call altruism is really just greed for power.

[ Parent ]

there's two types of people you help (none / 0) (#97)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 12:44:06 AM EST

the temporarily down on their luck who deserve help and are grateful and pay you back or help others in need later themselves

the continual losers who deserve no help but you must aid in order to save them from themselves or save yourself from them hurting you and they never pay anyone back or help anyone else themselves

everyone, selfish or alturistic, wants to, and needs to, control the latter


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

"Deserve" help? (none / 0) (#98)
by Morally Inflexible on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 03:21:49 AM EST

So, you mean, people who alrealdy act in the way you think they ought to act? people who, assuming you encourage them to keep doing what they are doing, will shape the world in the way you want it to be shaped?

Those of us who are not primarily driven by a desire for power tend to avoid the second group, save for what is required to protect ourselves. How do you expect to control someone who can not control themselves?

[ Parent ]

Don't bother continuing this thread with CTS (none / 0) (#99)
by anaesthetica on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 01:53:37 PM EST

Elsewhere in this discussion, CTS argued the exact opposite position.  Here he's arguing that altruism is an inherent part of human nature.  In a thread with me above, he argued that altruism does not function on its own, and requires strong government coercion.  HIREZ.

He just disagrees for the sake of disagreeing, and for 'winning' internet arguments.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
people who are starving on the street? (none / 0) (#100)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 02:09:22 PM EST

this is a valid lifestyle choice in your eyes?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
My fundamental problem with Objectivism (2.57 / 7) (#25)
by khallow on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 11:13:49 AM EST

It's not objective. I generally have big problems with so-called "self-evident" philophies. But Objectivism takes it to a whole new level, both by its pompous naming and by an arbitrary, cartoonish morality frequently seen in cults.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Yeah, she stresses the word "objective" (2.00 / 3) (#27)
by anaesthetica on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:17:38 PM EST

...several times, putting the word in italics, especially in the second essay, "The Nature of Government."

Perhaps it's because I haven't read anything else by Rand, but it's unclear by what criteria something can be called objective, especially something as obviously contestable as statutory law.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
surprisingly coherent (2.50 / 6) (#30)
by loteck on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:31:23 PM EST

relevant, and interesting discussion of an idea. +1FP.

the comments so far indicate that you have posted this to the wrong audience. even the nontrolls have no ability to comprehend this, much less actually have some kind of reasonable discussion on it. the longest thread in the discussion will be the one started by cts (which he copypastas for any libertarian or objectivist disccusion), who has obviously never read or understood rand's nonfiction work, and just likes to post vapid cuntery to get e-attention and in hopes of trolling low-hanging idiotfruit.

is this for school or did you actually write this for k5?
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

I wrote this for k5 (2.00 / 3) (#34)
by anaesthetica on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:09:50 PM EST

None of my professors would ever assign Rand.  The closest one got was to assign Hayek in comparative political economy, and even then he completely skipped any discussion of it in class in order to focus on his inspiration, Karl Polanyi.

I picked up a copy of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal for the essays by Alan Greenspan included—one on the gold standard, another on anti-trust, and one other called "The Assault on Integrity."  In Rand's introduction to the book she says that if you want to understand the foundation to her thought, you need to read these two essays on her fundamental concepts (which are included in this edition of the book in the Appendix).

So I read the two essays on her fundamental concepts and found some pretty significant flaws, and decided to write about it here.  It didn't take long to put the essay together.

I guess people will either: A) Not read it and VTD because they hate Ayn Rand and Objectivists or B) read it and not care because they already don't think Rand is worth reading and don't see the need for an essay telling them that Rand isn't worth reading.  But I figured I'd post it anyway, just to get the front page moving (if it makes FP at all).

Thanks for your understanding anyway.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
i would tend to disagree (2.25 / 4) (#35)
by loteck on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:54:49 PM EST

even if you come away disagreeing with 100% of everything rand ever thought or stood for, rand is still worth reading. her work is controversial, her ideas have influenced america in big ways, whether we like it or not. the man who used to be at the helm of our economy was a randroid. summarily dismissing her as many in higher ed do seems like the practice of unjustifiable, willful ignorance that all real intellectual pursuits should avoid.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
I can't argue with you on the recalcitrance (1.50 / 2) (#36)
by anaesthetica on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:09:17 PM EST

of higher education to expose their students to works that they find ideologically displeasing.  I think the idea is not to study the ideas that shaped America or at least embodied the dominant discourse, but to 'expose' the internal contradictions or implicit oppression within those dominant discourses.  You'll never find those things discussed on their own terms.

Even in international relations theory, my professor managed to teach the entire course on Realism without even a single reading from E.H. Carr or Hans Morgenthau, which is almost astonishing.  Of course, his object is to promote Liberalism over Realism, so teaching the more thoughtful Realists would undermine his object.

I guess you're right, though, that I shouldn't say "Rand isn't worth reading."  Rand, just like any other influential-but-incorrect thinker, is worth reading, 1) so that your own history and society are intelligible, and 2) so that you can understand why an influential ideology might have nevertheless been flawed from the get go.  Reading Marx is certainly justifiable on those grounds, despite having little valid to say outside the topic of Victorian-era political economy.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
and on the fiction side (none / 1) (#37)
by loteck on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:36:46 PM EST

i thought fountainhead was good. atlas, less. but i like long books.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
Woah there. (2.25 / 4) (#41)
by TDS on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:08:03 AM EST

The reason you read Marx is because he invented the whole subject, that is "political economy" or in wider context, relating economics to the structure of society which certainly has not gone out of fashion. Even people who disagree with him are playing on his turf. I draw your attention to your own use of the terms "alienation" and "capitalism". I also fail to see how the ideas he discusses about the individual in relation to society and the, er, nature of human nature are anachronistic but thats a different issue.


And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
Political economy predates Marx (1.50 / 2) (#43)
by anaesthetica on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:46:34 AM EST

The first use of the term political economy, as far as I can tell, is Adam Smith.  His 1776 volume An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations did, after all, have a Book IV with the title, "Of Systems of political Economy."  In Book IV, he contrasts his proposals with mercantilism, colonialism, and agricultural systems.

After Smith, David Ricardo wrote his major expansion on Smith's ideas in the 1817 book Principles of Political Economy and Taxation in which he put forth a theory of comparative advantage.

Marx's most significant work, the three volume Das Kapital, was published beginning in 1867 (the second and third volumes were published posthumously in 1885 and 1894).  Marx based his critique of "capitalism" (a term that he popularized, not Smith or Ricardo) on Ricardo's theory, not on Smith's.

The points here are: 1) "political economy" was a field beginning with Smith, and perhaps earlier with the physiocrats Quesnay and Turgot in France, and 2) both Smith and Ricardo had class conflict as a part of their theories, and it was only Marx that moved class conflict to the central mechanism of History.  

It's not correct to say that Marx invented political economy or that no one had related the structure of the economy and the structure of society together explicitly before him.  (One might also note Malthus here, in relating social structure to economic structure.)

It was really only with the advent of marginalism in 1890 with Alfred Marshall that the split between political economy and economics began to grow.

I suppose you're right that young Marx, the Marx-as-a-philosopher, is still relevant.  But the relevance of Marx's economic analysis beyond the Victorian era is limited at best, usually misleading, and often destructive in practice.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Heh. (none / 1) (#50)
by TDS on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:29:35 PM EST

I'll just say this: how very economist-ic of you.


And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
I agree and disagree. (none / 1) (#90)
by spooked on Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 02:26:09 AM EST

Marx as political economist isn't really that relevant. However the philosophic, political sociological traditions that he still influences are incredibly wide spread, near ubiquitous. It's very difficult to overstate the importance of Marxist thought in the last hundred years. From Weber, the vulgar materist, to the Bolsheviks and Soviets, to Gramci and through to Italian autonomists and neo-Marist [see Hardt and Negri's Empire,] Mao, the Frakenfurt School, Althusser, Foucault, Baudrillard - Dorthy Smith's institutional ethnography as feminist critique &c and &c. I'm sure I'm missing many many iterations of Marists: Vulgar, Soviet, Structural, Post, Neo, Feminist, Nationalist, &c. Most countries have active communist parties, often different stripes of them, there are a number of countries that are at least in principle Marxist; China is likely some sort of nightmare for ol' Karl.

No, reading Marx is still incredibly relevant. However, he's not the be-all-end-all in political-social-economic theory. Just like physics didn't end with Newton. Das Kapital isn't really worth most people's time unless you're into classical/historical social or political theory. Pick up a Marx-Engels reader or take a SOCI 100 class and go from there. The Paris Manuscripts of 1844 are important to understanding his work, and the German Ideology lays the ground work for most critical theory.

Setting up class conflict as the historical engine, as opposed to giest, and defining production as the essential anthropological act is something important and novel that Smith, Ricardo and Hegel all miss. None of them would have written anything like the Communist Manifesto, which probably one of the most influential documents of the last two centuries.

As to whether Marx is relevant today? Perhaps not just Marx's Marx; but Baudrillard's Marx is, Negri's Marx beyond Marx and Empire are. These is, in my mind, no question that he is still extremely influential on today's thought and discourse. As for the correctness of his work, see my comment on Newton.

Seriously.
[ Parent ]
that's not why he was assigned in my classes (none / 1) (#94)
by Delirium on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 03:44:51 AM EST

The Communist Manifesto was assigned in a class on 19th-century philosophy, solely because it's an historically important work, in that it inspired a number of movements; not because of any particular philosophical content (that particular manifesto out of all of Marx's works wouldn't be a good choice by that criterion). Similarly, I did actually read Ayn Rand in a class on 20th-century philosophy, for the same reasons (she was influential on 20th-century politics).

[ Parent ]
The difficulty is (2.40 / 5) (#40)
by TDS on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:02:43 AM EST

I don't know what course you'd teach it in.

This is the root of the dismissal. As the above shows quite adequately, she plainly wasn't a philosopher. She wasn't an economist and she wasn't a political-economist either.

I don't think people have difficulty teaching things they don't agree with, its teaching things that don't belong in their subject. There are no issues that she writes about that aren't better handled by others, usually hundreds of years before her birth.

Does it belong in English Lit? Again, Ayn Rand was a very poor writer in the English language and her work has very little recommend it in that way either. Perhaps she wrote better in Russian, who knows..

Which leaves us with some sort of Modern History course or some sort of hybrid social sciences course about influencial ideas, but it isn't really very satisfactory.

The issue isn't that the work is "wrong", I think a lot of people who teach Marx would point to myriad errors they perceive in his work, its that Ayn Rand's work is bad. You subject it to any sort of analysis and it just collapses in on itself whereas lots of people who had wrong answers at least presented a coherent body of work. In philosophy I'd suggest the basic thing you want to see is a coherent metaphysics. What Rand presents is akin to "science" without any data; it might even be "right" in the sense of being "true" (just make up any spurious claim, you might have guessed right) but it is basically worthless. Demanding Rand be taught as philosophy in universities is like suggesting creationism be taught as science in universities.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Political economy? History of economic thought? (none / 1) (#45)
by anaesthetica on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:04:10 AM EST

History of American Conservatism?

If Alan Greenspan was a Randian, I think it certainly warrants a brief exposure to Objectivist thought, if only to understand how the single most influential economic figure of the last 20 years or so thought about the relationship between economics and politics.  The two essays could easily fit into a discussion of neo-classical political economy, alongside Hayek and Friedman (the inspirations of Thatcherism and Reaganomics respectively).

A teacher at my university is giving a graduate seminar titled "Development of the American Conservative Movement" (since WWII).  Rand would fit in there certainly—not a major role, but worth a brief reading.

Anything can belong in English Lit., even if it's complete shit.

I do not argue with you, however, that she is not a philosopher and not an economist.  I think she could be fit into political economy with some difficulty, but would have no problems being labeled as a 'political theorist.'

I also agree with you that most of the subjects she discussed were given better treatments by others, in many cases hundreds of years before her time (e.g. Locke and Smith obviously).

Finally, I agree with you that Rand does not have a coherent metaphysics, that her fundamental concepts are poorly built, and that a brief examination is sufficient to collapse the logic of her arguments, which is something that I tried to demonstrate with this article.

I wouldn't demand that Rand be taught in universities, but I'm certain that even if relevant to a course, it'd be a cold day in hell before any professor would assign Rand.  If they're willing to assign Hayek but refuse to discuss him in class, it's not clear to me that your garden-variety academic would even assign Rand at all, regardless of her relevance or influence on the real world.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
I'm sorry to hear this. (1.50 / 2) (#51)
by TDS on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:27:48 PM EST

I think it might be a trans-Atlantic thing.

Often when I hear US-based people talk about "teaching [whatever]" they seem to be right wing Bill O'Reilly types who either confuse (or pretend to confuse) teaching with advocacy. Such that you would, if you applied this to a scholar of WW2, say he was a Nazi because he was "teaching Hitler to students".

I had hoped there was no underlying truth in it.

But as you say, in connection with other things maybe it could be talked about. But I don't really think this is what people mean when they say Ayn Rand is excluded from universities, I think those people do want her taught as a serious philosopher actually. And furthermore think the reason Rand's work is excluded is because it would somehow cause a crisis as conventional thinking is instantly exposed as a sham etc etc. Rather like one of those Chick Tracts where faced with a Bible quotation the evil scientist realises his entire life was a lie.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Man I love Chick Tracts, Grade A+ trolling (none / 1) (#52)
by anaesthetica on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:12:10 PM EST

Actually, one of my favorite courses as an undergrad was on European Fascism. We got to read Mussolini and Hitler along with some other unsavory types that are usually cited but not read firsthand.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
excessive emo levels detected (1.50 / 2) (#56)
by khallow on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 05:45:39 AM EST

the comments so far indicate that you have posted this to the wrong audience. even the nontrolls have no ability to comprehend this, much less actually have some kind of reasonable discussion on it.

I doubt that is the problem. It's more that Rand is a remarkably dishonest and childish author. So consideration of her ideas tends to be very unproductive. For example, I read her more for historical context and entertainment value.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

that fucking asshole cts, he's a communist muslim (none / 1) (#63)
by circletimessquare on Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 10:41:24 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Ayn Rand is all right... (2.40 / 5) (#32)
by Harry B Otch on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:56:11 PM EST

it's her followers who I can't stand.  Come to think of it, that goes for a lot of people--Marx, Jesus, Nietzsche, God, rusty...

-----
Bathrooms can be pretty easy... Believe me, I know. - rusty

fix your universe God you have to (2.50 / 6) (#60)
by Phssthpok on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 01:01:20 AM EST


____________

affective flattening has caused me to kill 11,357 people

[ Parent ]
Who are Nietzche followers? (1.00 / 3) (#89)
by Ron Paul on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 06:34:17 PM EST

nazis?

This [Ron Paul] Diary! has brought Kuro5hin back to life! HUZZAH


[ Parent ]

Deeply flawed (2.25 / 4) (#46)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:27:48 AM EST

  1. The idea of "collectivist rights" directly opposes "individual rights". You can't say there's no corporate rights without saying that individual rights are absolute. And therein lies the problem - If an individual is a company (IE: I am selling a car to you), then does that company inherit the individual rights? Where do one individuals rights end and another's begin?
  2. Rand constantly argues against the right to force. Frankly, if you break into my house, I'm going to kill you and call the police when I get up in the morning. Certainly if I have a right to property, I have a right to defend that property, or I have no real right to property in the first place.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne

Rand is unlike libertarians on this issue (1.50 / 2) (#47)
by anaesthetica on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:56:07 AM EST

She seems to argue that an armed society, even if those arms are kept for self-defense, is uncivilized.  This obviously flies in the face of libertarian and Republican thought.  

It appears from these two essays that only the police would have the authority to use force.  This is reminiscent of Hobbes really, which is strange because of her obvious dislike for the sovereign authoritarianism that he espoused.  Hobbes argued that to escape the state of nature ("nasty, brutish, short"), the people would have to form a social contract in which they alienated their rights to the use of force to the sovereign.  This would end the "war of all against all" in the state of nature, by investing the legitimate authority to use force in the person of the sovereign.

Rand seems to argue the same thing: that the legitimate authority to use force must be invested in a single entity.  Multiple competing centers of force would end in a societal chaos that would undermine civilization.

Yet, she's against having sovereignty invested in a single individual—recall her strong position against the protection of one's rights being left up to the irrational whim of one individual.  Her normative concept of government is that of a depersonalized automaton—a view of government that has little or no correspondence with reality.  

There is no practical way to achieve such a depersonalization of government action.  If society is disarmed, and government remains the greatest threat to man's individual rights, then government would have to act robotically, motivated only by objective laws, in order for individual rights to be preserved.  But in practice we know that such a high standard for government behavior is laughable at best, and naïvely dangerous in all probability.

I think she agrees that private property must be defended from criminals, but leaves that only in the hands of the police and courts to enforce, not in the hands of her rational individuals.  She seems to have a deeply unresolved tension between a positive concept of man's individual rationality and a negative concept of man's criminality/collectivism/irrationality.  Because her view of human nature isn't fleshed out, it leads to contradictions in her thought.

(P.S. I don't exactly understand what you're saying in your #1 point: can you rephrase?)

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
So the problem that Rand constantly has... (2.00 / 3) (#49)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:20:29 PM EST

which was point #1 - Either rights (and responsibilities inherent to those rights) are individual, or they are not. To rephrase #1, two individuals competing rights are summed up with "your right to throw a punch ends at my face", which doesn't present a major problem for Rand.

What Rand constantly trips over is that she doesn't want the responsibilities for those rights. So, on the giant scale of "collectivism VS individual rights", she wants to put the right of enforcement (mediating conflict) with the courts. This implies that individuals do not have the ultimate right to self determination because individuals are tried by courts, which have a right of authority over other people. Courts, of course, are not individuals, so they must be "collectivist" entities. And there's the conundrum in Rand's work.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

Rand isn't consistent on collective 'rights' (2.00 / 3) (#57)
by anaesthetica on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 03:23:55 PM EST

In many cases, it seems she's trying to avoid says the word 'rights' when describing what a collective entity can or cannot do.  She'll instead say things like, "It has the legitimate authority to do XYZ" or "It has the power of ABC."  Only occasionally will she admit that these powers to act are delegated rights.

The concept of delegated rights or delegated sovereignty is consistent with the set of arguments made by the broader group of popular sovereignty theorists, from early (small-'r') republicanism to the more modern (Enlightenment era and forward) liberal political theory.

Where Rand diverges with this traditional school of thought is in her insistence that only individuals can have rights.  Yet she defends property rights of corporations and the ultimate right of the government to use force under "objectively" pre-defined conditions.

Her escape from government-as-collectivist-entity, which you rightly point out (problems with individuals vs. courts, etc), is to argue that government should be robotic.  Essentially, by arguing for "objective" laws, she seeks to remove the human factor from politics and governance.  This is perhaps the reductio ad absurdum of the Enlightenment liberalism attempt to depoliticize and rationalize society (conservative critic of liberalism Carl Schmitt talks about this depoliticization move in his book Concept of the Political as does neo-Marxian Jürgen Habermas in his book The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere).

If courts and governments are simply "objective" legal structures, then they are neither individuals or collective entities—they have been dehumanized.

This is the only way Rand can try to escape from the contradiction she's set up, and it's highly normative and bears very little correspondence with the realities of politics and government.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Also: (none / 1) (#48)
by anaesthetica on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:04:42 PM EST

I apologize: I should have given your previous entry on Ayn Rand a shout out somewhere.

Like I said above, my previous girlfriend went through that same kind of Ayn Rand phase that is discussed in the article you cited.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
This is where I continually get unstuck (1.50 / 2) (#54)
by FreakWent on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:28:02 PM EST

If some druggie wants fifty dollars for a hit, it seems weird to me to shoot him.  I'd happily pay the fifty to avoid the hassle, it'd cost more than that to clean the carpet.  There is some kind of power trip going on here that's not rational, not to mention ethical ideas about the disproportionate response.

Does this overkill apply to non-property? Do you amputate their hand if someone spits on you?

Besides, if the dude who broke in thought it was his house 'cos it's dark and he's tripping then it's a bit sad that he died.  You can say it's his fault and people should no better, but then you're admitting that the society is a dangerous place for regular people because the homeowners are all armed and willing to shoot, which is my argument all along.

Defend your property with doors and locks, I reckon.

[ Parent ]

whoa whoa whoa (1.50 / 2) (#55)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:20:00 PM EST

Why would you clean the rug?

I keep antlers on my wall, the carpet would look great next to them.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

there's a lot of fucked up people in the world (none / 1) (#83)
by circletimessquare on Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 06:04:28 PM EST

if some guy breaks into your house in the middle of the night, you don't have the time to sit down with him and do a psychiatric analysis to determine if he's hannibal lecter or just a sadsack junkie

you have the right to assume the former, because you are putting the fate of your life on the line based on the actions of someone clearly far outside the boundaries of moral behavior as it is by breaking into your house

breaking into your house is a transgression agaisnt your rights and freedoms. the thing at that point is to assume that the person you are dealing with attempt further transgressions against life and limp. he's laready indicated a willingness to disregard your rights by breaking into your flat

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Don't forget to yell: (2.25 / 4) (#85)
by grargrargrar on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 06:49:11 AM EST

"I killed Mindpixel for the same thing, and you're next, TRANE!

[ Parent ]
dfgd (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by The Pope Himself on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 11:45:04 PM EST

I think you have an unhealthy fixation on the spiritual consensus. Moreover, your essay is clearly an over-extension of human reason.

Spoilt little brat (none / 0) (#103)
by walwyn on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:33:17 AM EST

Rand was mostly pissed that the nasty commies took away the property her parents had accumulated via drug selling.
----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
Two Essays on Objectivist Ethics | 103 comments (100 topical, 3 editorial, 7 hidden)
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