ABOUT: Ayn Rand and her subjective truth
Many are talking about Ayn Rand again these days. Her ideas and philosophy have been claimed as a basis for personal, political and economic positions on a variety of topics by numerous public figures in the past eight decades. As a reader, I found her novels to be unappealing pap and I don't think much of her philosophy either. Here's why:
In 1969, Erik Erikson published a book which he entitled Gandhi's Truth - On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence. Being a long time fan of Gandhi and his ideas, I read the book, quite some time ago.
Erikson was a psychologist of considerable repute and his diagnosis was that Gandhi was a codependent personality; meaning that Gandhi placed a lower priority on his own needs while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. It was perhaps the most profoundly simple insight that a western mind has ever expressed about an eastern version of a western saint, a Mahatma or Great Soul.
I am grateful for having knowledge of the book for several reasons which are applicable to the subject of the truth according to Ayn Rand:
First, Erikson's choice for a title focuses attention on the difference between subjective truth and objective reality, which Gandhi knew very well, as evidenced by his quoted statement that ALL RELIGIONS ARE TRUE.
Second, the book focuses on the personal psychological prelude to Gandhi's rise to greatness, greatness unequaled in a century populated with a number of truly great individuals. Speaking about Gandhi, Albert Einstein said: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”.
Third, the point just made suggests an examination of Ayn Rand's own prelude to influencing the many minds that she did with her core philosophy, which she called Objectivism. In the light of "herstory" and her personal circumstances, it is my own subjective truth that her philosophy was a long con which she carried out for reasons that are understandable in that light.
Lastly, Erikson's book title suggested to me the ideal domain name for this web-site: ayn-rands-truth.net - which itself suggests the first of numerous flaws in Ayn Rand's so-called philosophy, her subjective truth which caught so many in its' net.
Welcome! Thanks for visiting ayn-rands-truth.net . . .
One. Objectivity, reason and logic are all great ideas and ideals. However, complete objectivity is an ideal state which is not achievable.
Objective facts have their own reality and no one, including Ayn Rand, is able to handle and encapsulate objective reality within their own mind.
All anyone can do is to tell the truth as it is apparent to them, to comprehend as much of objective reality as they can through their own filters.
This comprehension becomes each individuals' belief system, the totality of their subjective truth.
So Objectivism is Ayn Rands' supremely self-confident assertion that the light of her own subjective truth, which she expressed as Objectivism, could illuminate objective reality for us all.
It seems likely that Ayn Rand did understand that subjectivity and objectivity are an integrated duality. They define each other and it is not possible to have one without the other; Objectivity is an ideal and subjectivity is the inescapable human condition.
That is the first irony in her so-called philosophy, namely that it was her own subjective truth that Objectivity was the only thing that logical and rational individuals could value.
Rand also propounded that it rationally followed from Objectivism that religious beliefs were unsupportable superstitions. However, an understanding of subjective truth rationally leads one to the idea that the totality of each individuals own subjective truth represents their system of beliefs, inherently objectively unsupportable.
It seems that the system of beliefs that constituted Rands' own subjective truth included a superstitious and irrational faith in her ability to be objective, an impossibility. Therefore, the differences between her belief system and that of an individual who holds religious beliefs are minimal at best.
In a possibly appropriate aside, it seems evident that atheists such as Rand who disbelieve in a creator because they limit their belief system to objectively viewed phenomenon - they only believe in events which they have seen with their own eyes - have that in common with creationists, who apply that same limitation to disbelieve in evolution.
Two. Rand suggested that altruism - namely having concerns for others and acting in some way upon those concerns - puts the survival of civilization in doubt. This was another ironic aspect of her philosophy, which she called rational selfishness.
To Rand, rational selfishness meant that materialism, greed and selfishness were rationally justifiable aspects of human nature.
However, a logical consequence of the comprehension of the subject/object duality is the understanding that each individuals sense of a separate and distinct self is a necessary illusion, known as the paradox of consciousness.
Furthermore, the illusion of self also conceals the awareness of karma - the cause/effect duality, an inter-relationship which connects us all - a key aspect of Gandhi's subjective truth and a tenet of the Hindu religion.
Similar to the Christian Golden Rule, the concept of karma supports and encourages altruism as indirectly serving oneself through acting out of concern for others.
Thus, the concept of karma brings Rand's disdain for altruism somewhat into contradiction with her idea that selfishness is rational, a transparent attempt to justify childish behavior for adults.
Ayn Rand was an intelligent person and a contemporary of Gandhi and likely was well aware that these ideas, at the core of eastern philosophy and western ethics, contradicted hers.
Besides appealing to more childish aspects of human nature, Rand's rational selfishness was probably also a sensational attempt to grab attention and book sales through the appeal of controversial ideas.
As a pied piper, she has lead and still leads many down the rabbit-hole of self-absorption, forcing the rest of us to pay the price for their greed and selfishness.
This seems very similar to the burden that non-Christians must bear for some Christians' belief that they can behave as they like in this world, since their God supposedly will forgive their sins in the next, somewhat in contradiction to their own ethical standard of behavior, the Golden Rule.
Three. It follows from her focus on rational selfishness that Rand also championed the rights of the individual to excess and with few, if any, attendant obligations for the individual.
It seems highly likely that Rand was aware that the unwritten social contract is the vital continuing basis for civilized existence.
It also seems highly likely that Rand understood that the logical conclusion of unrestrained individualism is anarchy.
Four. Another aspect of Rands' philosophy was a staunch belief in laissez-faire capitalism, known to most today as unrestrained capitalism.
laissez-faire is a French phrase translated as: "Let - to do" - an admonition to government not to regulate the activities of business.
Of course, it has always been a very popular concept with BIG MONEY interests, who have always preferred to be left alone by government for obvious reasons.
Without government restraints, business follows only the competitive profit motive, acting entirely in its own self-interest, exploiting every possible advantage, regardless of the common good.
It is a long established role of government to protect and advance the common good by restraining the self-interest of business, that role made necessary by the frequently proven inability of business interests to regulate and control themselves.
Five. Born in 1905, Ayn Rand emigrated to the USA from Russia in 1926. Stalin had usurped the Russian revolution in 1922. During her teen years, her families situation had been diminished and her future had been changed, by the revolution.
In an understandable yet penultimate irony, it was these early life experiences which greatly influenced her subjective truth and about which she was completely unable to be objective.
Her direct and personal experience of the Russian revolution and its aftermath created the perspective from which she approached the rest of her life.
In 1926, she was an intellectual newly arrived in the USA, a country dedicated to democracy, the rights of the individual, capitalism and the materialism of the roaring '20s.
At that time, the competing political, economic, ALTRUISTIC philosophies of communism and socialism were pounding on the door here, as well as in Europe and other parts of the world.
The first few of her stories were set in Russia and it is likely that her philosophy was composed and the entire body of her written works were written to combat Stalin and the spread of his totalitarian version of communism.
For that purpose and for her own personal success, in her stories she told greedy, selfish, materialistic people what they wanted to hear.
Her chosen themes were that individuals have the right to do as they please, captains of industry should be left alone to make themselves rich and that greed and selfishness are rational behavior.
Is there any doubt that this so-called philosophy would appeal directly to human nature and to BIG MONEY?
It seems that Ronald Reagan did much less to bring about the demise of the Soviet Union than Ayn Rand did, through the collective impact of her written works.
That impact came through the popular appeal of her best-sellers and the wholesale acceptance and application of their themes; although sadly, she died in 1982 - a decade before that demise happened in the early '90s.
She dedicated her life and her writings to that demise by perpetuating a long con in which she put forth selfishness, greed and materialism as elements of a rational and realistic economic, political and individual philosophy.
Do you agree with the suggestion that my own subjective truth brings me to make here: namely that Ayn Rands' subjective truth - the so-called philosophy of objectivism, was actually a long con?
In the final Ayn Rand related irony, the unrestrained BIG MONEY capitalism that she favored has finally managed to well and truly exploit and disenfranchise the middle class. BIG MONEY is well on the way to creating a new feudal society, somewhat similar to the feudal Czarist society of the Russia of her youth, before the revolution.
Will Ayn Rand's long con live on?
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