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By Wendy Milling
In a recent interview withRolling Stone, President Obama stated,Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up.
Im not trying to mock the President here he is just repeating an old propaganda line that was hatched by Rands opponents but I have to ask the adults who claim they outgrew Rand exactly what earth-shattering insight they have learned against her solution to the problem of universals? Against her solution to the is-ought problem? To her foundation of knowledge in the axiomatic validity of sense perception? To her theory of the locus of free will? How about her theory of aesthetics?
The reason I ask is that some of these issues and questions are more than two thousand years old, and no other philosopher has been able to crack them without ultimately lapsing into self-contradiction. So if anyone fancies that they are going to show up with their cracker barrel wisdom and invalidate her philosophy, even though no professional philosopher in half a century has been able to do so, I have to wonder what special knowledge they think they have. By all means, entertain us.
Perhaps these adults can also explain the part about feeling misunderstood, because it is rather opaque. When most of us feel misunderstood, we just restate our line of thinking until people understand it. In all seriousness, what on earth was that about? Are we to take that as some kind of psychological confession by leftists? What is an individual with such a mentality doing in the highest office in the land?
President Obama goes on to say, Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America.
This statement is so untethered from reality, it is hard to know where to begin. I will not begin by implicitly endorsing the notion that other people are the first or ultimate consideration in ethics by reassuring anyones crybaby sensibilities that Objectivism too cares about other peoples welfare. The good cops over at the Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins, have provided more than enough evidence over the years at their Forbes blog that Ayn Rands philosophy is eminently rational.
I am not affiliated with the Institute, so I have no such obligation. My preferred method is to take the billy club of logic to the opposite worldviews kneecaps and then beat it into the ground senseless. Anyone who makes everybody else the primary issue who needs upfront reassurance about the status of other people in a philosophical system isnt worth convincing. If someone is so hysterical about establishing the status of others that they insist on putting it before the question of their own, then they are weak, dependent, irrational, and, by their own admission, irrelevant.
Objectivism is a philosophy for winners, leaders, producers, creators, alpha males and females and those on their way. It is a philosophy for people with self-respect, self-loyalty, self-confidence, self-esteem, and independence. It is for those with a rugged individualist spirit. That is why Ayn Rand has an enormous reservoir of goodwill among the American people. America is a culture of winners. This is an exceptional nation, and Americans are still an exceptional people.
If you are an achiever, if you matter and you know it, why dont you give Ayn Rands nonfiction a serious read? Objectivism has answers. Lots and lots of rich, powerful answers.
The President or one of his fellow adults should also explain why, if it is wrong for us to spend our time how we wish and keep what we have earned, we are supposed to believe that it is right for others to take them. Ayn Rand, via John Galt, elaborates:
Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you? If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others? Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so? Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away? And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it? If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it? Does virtue consist of serving vice? Is the moral purpose of those who are good, self-immolation for the sake of those who are evil?
In addition, President Obama should explain how his system of mutual self-sacrificing is supposed to work in practice. If everyone is stopping their own self-development to assist others, then who is excelling? Who is advancing to the point that they are creating the opportunities that others are supposed to be given?
Instead of trying to coddle economic losers, our culture had better concern itself with how to produce the next generation of geniuses to drive the wealth-creation process, because the productive geniuses are what keep 300 million people from starvation and exposure, not the government. They are not going to come from the ranks of the non-profit do-gooders who spend their days bleating about income inequality and redistributing wealth to the economically non-productive.
We can set the stage by accepting a proper code of ethics now one that teaches that rational selfishness is good and being productive is virtuous.
Wendy Milling is a contributor toRealClearMarkets.com.
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