Obligatory Annoying Quasi-Objectivist Post, Or On Mischaracterizing Ayn Rand

Whatever you think of Ayn Rand, good or bad, it should at least reflect accurately what Ayn Rand actually said.  I think this is fair.  In all attempts to poke fun at Objectivism I have never seen ONE that didn’t involve a massive and quite honestly retarded mischaracterization of her philosophy.  While I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I myself am no knee jerk Peikoffbot–this little gem that’s being passed around the Interwebs is dead off:

“…When little Aiden toddled up our daughter Johanna and asked to play with her Elmo ball, he was, admittedly, very sweet and polite. I think his exact words were, “Have a ball, peas [sic]?” And I’m sure you were very proud of him for using his manners.

To be sure, I was equally proud when Johanna yelled, “No! Looter!” right in his looter face, and then only marginally less proud when she sort of shoved him.”

“…

I can actually feel the hordes of people snorting superciliously through their noses upon reading this while thinking “oh, I USED to like Ayn Rand, then I ‘grew up’!” in the weirdly self-congratulatory way the mere mention of Objectivism stirs up in people.

What is it about Ayn Rand’s objection to people being FORCED TO SHARE against their will that people don’t understand?  She in NO way opposed BENEVOLENCE.  That a person would choose to share a possession just because they felt like it is not alien or immoral in any interpretation of Objectivism. Like Barbara Branden once said when asked “what would be done with the poor?”–“if YOU want to help them, you will not be stopped”. Objectivism is a rejection of COERCION at heart, not of voluntary human action–even if it’s action the Objectivist may not PERSONALLY value.

 A situation that more accurately reflects Objectivism is a child MAKING a toy or a doll, another child wanting to play with it and then complaining to the teacher the 1st child isn’t sharing and the TEACHER coming over to the child, taking the toy away and giving it to the 2nd child.  Then the second child immediately demands that the teacher force the 1st child to keep making toys and giving them to him while simultaneously making crayon drawings of how gross and gay the 1st child is–complete with stink lines. 

Now THAT’S a “Looter”.

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6 Responses to Obligatory Annoying Quasi-Objectivist Post, Or On Mischaracterizing Ayn Rand

  1. Don Ghixote says:

    I’m pretty sure Rand was against charity. The others from her circle made statements that suggest they were fine with it, but I don’t recall anything from Ayn Rand’s writings that said as much. Although considering how her circle worshiped her like a god, if they think charity is okay then Ayn must have had a similar position.

    Granted, I too think certain forms of charity are stupid. I only support emergency charity/disaster relief or self-sustaining charity, like work education, farm building, voluntary infrastructure building, etc. However, forced sharing, i.e. Welfare or anything like it, is looting. Why Rand didn’t go further with this idea is odd. By this I mean that all governments are looting, wealth-redistributing mechanisms regardless of leadership and therefore the removal of such a system would be ideal. My guess is her humanistic belief in the ideal man actually existing and being able to head and run said government. That and her iron-fisted stance on intellectual property.

    “oh, I USED to like Ayn Rand, then I ‘grew up’!” – What elites and wanna-be elites say after the socialist/progressivist brainwashing has rooted in their brains. After that occurs, forget it. It’s perfectly fine to steal from others if done with a majority vote. Who knew legalized stealing was an adult idea?

  2. dana says:

    Charity
    My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.

    “Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.

  3. Gorbachev says:

    Everyone wants to debate Rand.

    Sorry. But, … Yawn.

  4. dana says:

    well gorb–ferdinand bardamu had blogged it and the editors at the chronicles of higher ed’s site “arts and letters daily” saw fit to feature it–and these ppl actully WROTE it, so i figured someone was interested 😉

  5. R.Sole says:

    Charity exists for evolutionary reasons. Groups that are charitable survive better than ones that don’t. A good example is wilderness areas, especially in older times, where people leave surplus supplies at emergency huts & camps for those in need, and it is considered taboo to take them “more than your fair share” unless you really need it. Someone taking them to resell at profit would probably be beaten or even killed.

    Charity is thus imprinted into our nature because charitable societies survived and dog-eat-dog societies either died out or did less well. I don’t know if you have ever lived in or done business in a 3rd world country, but I have and it is extraordinarily inefficient to have to verify trust and watch your back at every single step of interaction with individuals, institutions, and society at large. The deadweight cost is enormous. Whereas in more law-abiding and charitable societies like USA, UK, Scandinavia, the German nations etc, it is far easier to do business, often you can rely on a handshake for smaller deals. Productivity is thus far higher.

    That is why charity is valued and why Ayn Rand was unnatural and unpopular for being hostile to it. It is entirely true that one is not *obliged* to be charitable by any moral imperative. It is equally true that one is not obliged to dress well, act with good manners, or be a productive self-actualising individual. But people will treat you better, and respect you more, if you act that way, and in general you will make more friends, get more status, be more loved and respected, and so on. It does not surprise me that someone so blind to social mores and human emotions as the vulcan-like Rand did not understand this. It does surprise me whenever a partial “follower” of hers does today.

  6. R.Sole says:

    “My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.”

    My views on charity are also simple. Charity helps other people improve their own situation and skills, and thus increases the rate at which they become productive members of society. I personally benefit from a more productive and supportive society, as does every other member of society. Therefore I encourage *effective* and deserving charity. I think that becoming more productive and skilled is a virtue, and thus anything that helps anyone achieve that is a noble act which deserves praise and admiration.

    One does not give to charity to demonstrate good nature, to get acclaim, or to fulfil moral obligation. One gives to charity in the same way that one invests in a good business, or in the way that a farmer irrigates his land or plants crops, or a builder renovates a tatty old building. Most “objectivists” approve of self-improvement. Charity is simply “other-improvement”.

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