Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Objectivist Mirror Issue # 1

The Objectivist Mirror

We Propose A Better Way

Colin MacDonald & Robbie Holtam

If you are reading this paper then you may already know what the content will be explaining. If you do not then you are about to take your first steps towards the renaissance of your mind. The objectivist mirror is a paper in which we will use the only true “philosophy for living on earth” to investigate and explain the issues which plague our society. However, in order to properly examine these issues first you will need a brief understanding of the philosophy which we will be using.

Objectivism is a philosophy which was originally created by Russian-American author Ayn Rand. Ms. Rand proposed a philosophy that ignored the supernatural and did not deal with abstract, unrealistic concepts, but which dealt only with the proper way for humans to live in reality. Her philosophy is based on two fundamentals. These foundations for her philosophy are so obviously true as to be indisputable: the Law of Identity, and the Absolute of Reason.

The Law of Identity, originally proposed by Aristotle, holds that things are what they are, that reality exists, and that you cannot change reality simply through willpower. You may now be thinking to yourself that this idea cannot possibly be indisputable since the concept of existence has been questioned many times before. However, if you examine any dispute over the existence of existence you will always find the same answer. The most famous example of this debate is Descartes’ Meditations. In this book Descartes attempts to prove the law of identity by assuming that nothing he can doubt is truly existent. He arrives at the conclusion that he cannot possibly doubt his own existence, since in order to doubt his existence; there must be a being to do the doubting. In this way Descartes proves, for us, Aristotle’s law of identity.

The second foundation of Objectivism is the absolute of reason, which holds that as human beings our most important attribute - the one to which we owe our progress, our civilizations, and our very survival - is our cognitive function, our ability to reason. As human beings very little is given to us freely. We are given digestive organs, but not food to digest. We are given hands to manipulate the environment, but not the knowledge of how to use them. Likewise, we are given a brain capable of logic, but the process must be learned; it is a matter of choice. If you would question the importance of logic, and many of you will, consider this experiment. Go into any wilderness, be it a forest, desert or jungle, away from all civilization, with no companion and no supplies, and completely abandon reason. Refuse to think rationally in any way; assume that food will magically fall from the sky, assume that shelter will build itself and assume that someone else will do the work of surviving for you… and see how long you last.

Although philosophy will be the main topic of this paper, philosophy is practically useless if taken simply as an abstract discussion of concepts. Without being able to apply philosophy to real life, it would be worthless. For that reason we will examine a major societal issue which, although it may not be explicit, has deeply affected all of us. The issue in question is the general acceptance of a primitive philosophy throughout our society - the practice of altruism. It has become a standard of morality. Altruism here is defined in its most correct form, as a doctrine through which service to others is seen as the highest moral achievement. This is a principle which refuses to acknowledge productive achievement, which refuses to acknowledge individual happiness, but instead proposes that self immolation and self sacrifice are the only true path to proper living.

Take a step back from your daily routine and examine why you are unhappy with life. Is it because a select few have the majority of the wealth? Is it because you are being too selfish and are not looking out for other people? Is it because you posses more Apple products than the children of Africa? Do you feel guilt and anger at such injustices? If you do, you must take this instant to look inside and examine the roots of these feelings. Ask why you allow yourself to be tortured by thoughts such as these. You may not like the answers you come to but if you truly consider them, with rationality as your only guide and logical, deductive arguments as your only absolute, you will find that you can solve the problem of the gray nagging feeling inside you which demands the impossible… something for nothing.

Like a seed planted in a field of abundance, the thought of altruism is put in place from birth. A child in its early years hungers for knowledge about the world. It absorbs any information it can come across in its quest for definite answers. For this reason it is up to the parent to teach the child how to reason objectively, without the irrational bias which is created by our culture. The parent has an obligation to take care of the new mind. It is in their best interests, as a successful child will undoubtedly provide strong security for the parent’s uncertain future. However, since most childrearing requires a considerable amount of energy and intelligence, and since many parents were never taught the proper way to raise a child (they themselves probably being the product of lethargic and reluctant parents), the guardians will stumble through a terrifying ordeal of trying, and ultimately failing, to prepare the child for its departure into the real world. This failure will eventually result in the dominance of a school of thought which has been systematically destroying civilized society for thousands of years; altruism.

Without the knowledge to judge situations objectively and hold itself and its interests as the sole concern of its actions, the child will begin to grow in an environment of give and take, of what’s yours is mine what’s mine is yours, of which nothing you earn can be deserved because you are taking it away from those who need it more than you. This sentiment is placed in the minds of the young in order to make them compliant to the ones who have figured out how to manipulate the weak. They do this using the simplest form of manipulation; the turning of one against one’s self. From the starting gate, the child will already be unfit for the environment it was thrust into, and, without the ability to adapt quickly, will fall prey to the parasites who have adapted and evolved in such a way that they can subsist upon the good intension of others.

You may be wondering what kind of “parasites” can do this, why they would perpetrate such an evil against man if man is equal and in nature good. The fact is that humans are not equal, and that altruism is only a tool used by the ones who know how to buck the system in such a way that they can trick the people around them into giving them what they desire most – something for nothing. As you are most likely on your way to work, school, or the downtown shopping complex, an example will belligerently scream in your face. These people plead with you, appealing to your apparent sense of right and wrong, to help aid the endangered pandas of Indo-China or pestilence ridden children a world away. You feel it is right to help these causes, that it is a noble thing to do and that you have made the world a better place by donating. You walk away feeling like a martyr, with a weight lifted from your heart and from your wallet. These organizations have succeeded in gaining from you everything while giving you nothing; they have successfully peddled you altruism. You walk away only with a false sense of righteousness, based on a false ideal. The money you donated does not wholly go to the charity. It is irrational to think so. The charity is a company, just like a franchise or a bank, which must pay its employees somehow and most importantly of all, must turn a profit after all such expenses. Furthermore, these street-altruism-peddlers only represent the charity in question. Another middleman for your money to go through means another division of its value. Even less is now going to the orphans of the natural disaster in a place you've never heard of, but all that matters is that you've done your part, right?

In a similar vein, take the example of the boy and the beggar. A boy and his friend walked by the same pan-handler on their way to and from school. They both gave the man a quarter each day, each way, and he smiled affectionately, "thanks bud". The boy felt a shining sense of goodness and honour, that his action had helped his new friend out, but his friend felt different, hearing from his mother than these "hobos" sometimes use this money to buy rubbing alcohol in order to get a cheap drunken buzz. He did not know what this meant, but it has been instilled that this was a bad thing. He becomes wary, but still he feels that helping one in need is good. The boy, on the other hand, needed more of a fix of philanthropy, and gets a brilliant idea into his head; the more he gives the peddler, the more "goodness" the boy will receive! Before school, he ran up to his room and raided his piggy-bank, taking the one hundred dollar bill he got for his birthday. On their way to school, the boy tells his friend his plan to bestow a great blessing upon the man. The friend reluctantly humours the boy, but is struck with a binding sense of mistrust and derision at the motives behind such an act. What does it really gain the boy? He loses everything while this man gains it all for nothing. As the boy gave the panhandler the money, the friend could only look on with distended apprehension as the man hooted and hollered how grateful he was for the generosity, a look of feral greed in his eyes. The boy felt great, but the friend felt terrible; he had just witnessed the greatest evil in our world at work, the plague of altruism. There was no trim, changed man waiting on the store front stoop with his newly acquired life owed wholly to the boy, waiting to repay him for the pure moral goodness of his deeds. In fact, the boys never saw the man again after that day. The man's scam had worked and he achieved his fix. In all likelihood, it was his last fix.

Maintaining a worldview such as the one of altruism will only set one up for disappointment because the one’s begging for alms will never stop, and all funds given (whether mental or physical) will have the same effects as if they were thrown down a hole. This is not to say that the ideal of good will among others is a waste of one’s life. It must be understood, however, that the ideal of altruism as we know it is impossible to achieve. To give away all of your being, your essence, your soul to someone else at no gain to yourself is illogical. At very least, you will gain a sense of happiness in your deeds. As long as you consciously realize that you are donating your time and money to those in need because it makes you happy and not simply because society tells you that you need to donate, it is morally acceptable to live this way, because you will be looking after your number one virtue: your happiness.

If we are to correct the savage mistake our societies have been making all these years there are two fundamental beliefs which we must first accept. The first is one of the foundations of Objectivism, the supremacy of reason. This fundamental argument is the basis for all other knowledge, and therefore, is the first premise you must accept if you are to undo the damage altruism has wrought on your mind. The second premise, which will ultimately destroy altruism, is the moral standard of rational self-interest. To use rational self-interest as a standard for morality is the only logically correct way to apply morality in an objective and consistent way. Morality, in its true and proper form, can be defined as whatever is proper for the rightful life of a rational human being. This essentially means that anything which can be morally justified as providing some benefit to your life, without infringing upon the rights of any other person, is a morally justified action. If we are ever to throw off the shackles of our altruistic slave drivers and achieve true happiness it is these principles that we must accept and this way of living which we must embrace.

If you would like to contact us for feedback or questions or for any reason at all please email us at thank you all for taking the time to read this and we will be back in January with the second issue of The Objectivist Mirror.

MacDonald & Holtam


  1. Give me objectivity or give me death.
    I'm excited for this project, but will demand patience from myself to take the time and wrap my head around some of these concepts. Something tells me it will be worth it. Happiness, after all, is always worth it.

  2. I've been meaning to really read this through for a while now, and I'm impressed; it's very well written. But I have a few problems with what you've said, particularly your one-sided definition of "deserving" something, which makes no allowance for initial conditions. Does the runner that started the race far ahead of the other competitors deserve to win? This comes up in your example of the boy and the beggar. The boy never actually earns his hundred-dollar bill, except by the good fortune of being born to a decent family. The fact is that most homeless have psychoses that make living a normal lifestyle hugely difficult, if not impossible. As such, this isn’t an example of a parasite, taking what they don’t deserve. The different situations of boy and beggar may not be completely determined by the initial conditions of the two, but they doubtless play a massive role that one should be careful not to ignore. Unless you take into account factors beyond the control of the individual, you cannot assume that the inequality between two people is deserved, or due to the relative quality of the people. This omission is why you arrive at the questionable conclusion that people aren’t equal, and that everyone who campaigns for the less fortunate is a “parasite” taking away that which you have deservedly earned, and giving it to someone who “deserves” only poverty.

    Altruism certainly isn’t the most important influence in our world that denies people what they deserve. To be so harshly critical of altruism for distributing wealth undeservedly one must, rationally, be equally harsh in criticising these other factors that distribute wealth contrary to the character of the individual, such as gender inequality or the socioeconomic status into which a person is born. This is where I feel the worldview of objectivism falls short, by criticising only altruism. If applied in this way, objectivism becomes nothing more than an attempt to make a virtue of enjoying undeserved advantages.

  3. I understand your objection but I believe that it is misinformed. While it is true than in many cases people are born into circumstances which influence, positively or negatively, their choices in life. Our criticism of altruism does not deal with voluntary charity, as we said. Just as it does not deal with voluntary inheritance. Our quarrel is with the current Kantian morality which treats altruism as a duty which we must perform in order to be proper moral beings. I enjoy your analogy of the child born into a wealthy family and so I will continue it. Voluntary gifts are not in any way morally wrong, neither is voluntary charity. However, I think it would be universally accepted as a theoretical problem if you were to make the case that a wealthy parent had a DUTY to spoil his child. Or that a wealthy parent had a DUTY to leave all of his vast inheritance to a moronic offspring. Neither of these duties make any sense. In the same way to say that we have a DUTY to be altruistic makes no sense. Objectivism makes no claim that it is always wrong to give help to others and that anyone who accepts help is a parasite. The claim is simply that we have no DUTY, moral or otherwise, to help anyone else. To make the claim that we do have a duty to help others, and to use your analogy as proof, is to say that a man must give all, or at least a great deal of, his time, wealth, and energy to his child simply because of the virtue of genetics. And that regardless of how ungrateful, evil, or despicable his child becomes, that same man must leave the entire sum of his life's work to that child upon his death... I would hope this is not the claim you are making.