Ayn Rand, Russian Communist
I’m going to start that way – it sure will be easy to find an article on-line that calls Ayn Rand a Commie. But I didn’t start that way just to sass the Objectivists, although as a group, they certainly deserve all the sass they can get. They’re a bunch of blockheads who follow Randism as unthinkingly as Stalinism, Fascism, Freudianism – any other ‘ism. It doesn’t take much intelligence to follow a set of rules rather than understanding them. E.G. – Modern America
She was foreign to the degree that she fell into the habits of thought and argument that the Marxists did. She grew up in a society with extensive intellectually-based cultural argument. Али́са Зино́вьевна Розенба́ум lived in a world of oral and written argument, as soon as she learned how to read and write her name.
That much has become foreign to her adopted country, America. People have become cynical, don’t put much faith in words and arguments, and now believe that everything’s a shell. One of the most embarrassing things you can do at a party is actually state that you BELIEVE in something. Cynically believing in nothing, that’s the hometown take on the world from the city folks.
Rand’s ideas came from asking certain conventional Marxist questions, but answering them different from the conventional, memorized way. That brought her to her own unique style. And she always was a fastball pitcher, and a bit of a head-hunter, too. Don’t crowd the plate on Ayn.
What is the Means of Production?
That is one of the elementary school questions of Marxism, and it divides off into the parts of animate and inanimate.
the raw materials and means of labour (tools, machines, etc) employed in the production process
means of production. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved March 05, 2016 from Dictionary.com website.
The inanimate is the instrument, and the ultimate cause of production according to the Marxists is LABOR. The mans of production was owned by the capitalists, and the proletariat was forced to survive by using the means belonging to the capitalists.
According to Rand, I suppose she would say Reality – the instruments and means which could be devised by the ultimate cause of production, the HUMAN MIND. That is the motive force behind human ability.
How does the human mind work?
Rand goes on [and on, and on, and on, and on] to show that the human mind cannot be dispossessed by force. Her philosophy confuses people because of her handling of the concept of inalienability. She discusses “ethical egoism” which is much simpler than most folks make it.
Even many legal dictionaries stumble and don’t quite get it right.
Inalienable right refers to rights that cannot be surrendered, sold or transferred to someone else, especially a natural right such as the right to own property. However, these rights can be transferred with the consent of the person possessing those rights. Inalienable is defined as incapable of being surrendered or transferred; (USLAW)
Inalienable rights (also referred to as natural or human rights) are rights awarded to human beings that may not be taken away by a religious or governmental institution, except in specific situations and according to due process of the law.
Even these are off-true. The last definition is simply wrong.
Inalienable rights exist – they are one and the same with a person’s personhood. They cannot be abstracted away from personhood – they are part of one’s identity. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” come from the same essence as selfhood.
They can be infringed upon, damaged, curtailed and limited from the outside. Imprisonment deprives a person of their liberty interest involuntarily. A moral government does such things only under due process of law. A dictatorship does them at whim.
What is key to recognize is that they cannot be removed from themselves by the owner. This is the real crux of Rand’s argument, and she doesn’t make it all that clear.
If you commit suicide, you separate yourself from life at your own choosing. If you beg to enter a prison and be incarcerated, the warden may permit it – but it is the result of a single act of your own choosing. If you give all your property to the poor, you do so of your own choosing.
You cannot do anything to impede your own rights that is not of your choosing. That is the fundamental principle seen in laws of decent persons. If you choose to rob a bank, you choose to gamble with your liberty. If you choose to hang-glide off of a building, you choose to risk your life. This is why society opposes the ability of persons who are not competent, by virtue of age or illness, to consent, in many relationships, whether marriage or other contract, or crime. If you cannot tell right from wrong (M’Naughton) then you cannot choose right from wrong.
If you choose to die for the salvation of all men, believing that your sacrifice will free all others, (see Christianity) you have chosen something that is the best outcome based on your values. If you die unwillingly as in a death-penalty execution, you have not chosen that death, but the cause of your death morally relates back to a choice.
If you believe that your death will save all of mankind, and that saving all of mankind is the highest of your PERSONAL values – and yet you refuse to follow your own conscience – that is what Rand would call an offense against self.
If you are hungry but do not eat, and instead fast, then either you are following your higher value, or you are insane.
What if you have no moral framework whatsoever? What if there is no ethical substance to your nature? Then you are a brute. You cannot, in a sense, see yourself in a mirror. You have no identity, no morality.
This is the evil to which Nazism subscribed – and every other tyranny. Have no mind, it says, have no conscience. Just become one with the crowd. The Fuehrer IS your conscience.
Rand would say every system which whispers these lies is irrecoverably evil – and the Soviet Union was one of the classic example of the Great Lie.
Her philosophy would not say that it is necessary to worship greed, nor is it meritorious to be solipsistic. She always retained a Russian brutalism in her expressions, to shock people – that is why she wrote about the Virtue of Greed. That is about as true as the headline on this posting.
The point is that all human action is either a satisfaction of their mental decision to do the proper thing – or the action of slavery, where they CHOOSE to forfeit their mind and will to the masses, the Fuehrer. As the Germans know, their choice to forfeit their mind and will was nonsense – they were still human, they still made a choice, it’s as human as breathing. And therefore they were morally accountable for their choices.
Of note, I do not consider Rand’s novels very readable. She would not tolerate editorial supervision, and the books show it. Likewise, she is not really a philosopher, as her thoughts are not extensive enough to stand by themselves as an assertion of moral, esthetic or other codes in the philosophies. She is a thinker who expanded on Aristotle.
What she was, was a potent critic of Marxism. She worked with its fundamentals to show a different way of handling its conclusions based upon several different premises. For that, she deserves respect. Rand, without Marxism as a target, is a bit empty. Rand as a refutation of Marxism, though, is powerful.