Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ayn Rand's True concept of 'Selfishness'

Ayn Rand is thought of as opposing charity, friendship or good will, while encouraging selfishness.

But what was her Real concept of selfishness? What did she stand for and what was she against?

Certainly NOT what today's thick headed idiots think she did.
I am referring to persons such as Hitchens [Link] or this dude [Link] which says the following about her views:
"She thought that all the government programs, Medicare, social security etc' were for the weak, and that being selfish was the best thing you could do. Being altruistic and helping others she thought was evil".

Right, Ayn Rand; the exterminator of the weak.

Dude, what the hell is the matter with you? Are you really that stupid, too lazy to try to study someone' actual views or just finding it easier to attack a straw man? Yeah. Freakin' Liar. Aren't you tired of these?

Ayn Rand was not against friendship, family, love, gift-giving, providing help or charity to someone or doing something to make someone else's life better. She was not against taking out the garbage on your wife's turn when she is having a bad day and is tired. Ayn Rand had a very romantic view of love. She saw it as one of the highest experiences a man can have and she would certainly be motivated to give a lot of herself to those she loved.
Regarding charity: In her novel, Atlas Shrugged, the main character, Dagny Taggart offers a free meal and a ride to a homeless man that has boarded the train illegally. The reason she did is because the man appeared to have been a hard working man one time and she offered him charity out of respect for that.

So this may come as a shock to some idiots out there, but Ayn Rand was not fighting for the extermination of the weak and the prevalence of value-less sociopath gold diggers. She was also opposed to the type we consider "selfish" today, who has no moral values and would sell their own mother to slavery to make an extra penny.

Her concept of selfishness takes some attention to grasp and a moment of concentration and thinking. Something a lot of people are apparently incapable of doing nowadays. So listen up, jagheads, because I am about to explain what she really meant.


In her words;

"The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word “selfishness” is not merely wrong: it represents a devastating intellectual “package-deal,” which is responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind.
In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment."
She does not approve of altruism either. Ayn Rand supported Rational Selfishness. This means a way of living in which a man takes the time to think about what is good for him or bad for him, both for the short term and the long term and chooses his values by thinking. It is a system in which his values are rational and required for human life, instead of values which are destructive, against the requirements of human life or are just senseless. 

She does NOT mean the commonly understood concept of selfishness, and that is the source of the confusion.

Ayn Rand thought that humans beings are a social creature, with love and friendship being a very important value. Her heroes were men of integrity who produced and traded for their existence, not robbed and deceived to get their hands on a pile of money. Like, hello? The guys that did do that were the villains. Didn't you read the book?
John Galt quit his job as an engineer to start a war again the world to provide a better world for the woman he loved. How many men do you know today who would take this course of action? They preach 'altruism' but no love is possible when one is being made to feel guilty for everything and when one is expected to deliver "love" as if they were a cow at a dairy farm.

Ayn Rand thought that one gives love, friendship and sometimes charity when one judges the receiving individual to be deserving of it. She considered it a selfish delight to give something and invest in those one loves and love itself, is a very selfish value.

She recognized that peaceful cooperation and trade among men was the only way to prosperity and therefore she considered a thief immoral.
She thought that to be selfish meant to think hard of one's decisions, not to blindly chase every random desire. She one should live their life passionately, while making choices based on thinking.

The secrete to understand her concept is that charity does not have to be a product of altruism. Caring for someone enough to help them, can be a selfish act. It is selfish because other people are of spiritual value to us, as well as material. By valuing ourselves we also value others with similar virtues and it is natural to express that value in one's behavior, in a way that works with one's specific context of life.

Anyway I hope I helped you understand what Ayn Rand's "Selfishness" is all about. It is not an easy concept to grasp since it is so different from today's concept of "selfishness".
I suspect a lot of people would come to this point without a feeling of new understanding, but rather something like: "well, she says that Ayn Rand thought friendship and love were good, and that Ayn Rand is not entirely opposed to giving, so that means that.... I know! It must mean that Ayn Rand was part altruistic, despite the evil things she preached for!" Well, no, chuckle head. That was not my point. My point was that she would give to others and consider it SELFISH. Yes, giving to others can be selfish. So in those times she gave of herself, she was following her principles to a tee.

That, my friend, is the whole point. Selfishness does not equal sociopath, certainly no in Ayn Rand's view. Her concept of a selfish man was a producer, an inventor, an industrialist, a hard working man happily doing his job well and making good friends, an artist, a family person hoping to raise his children well. All those are selfish actions according to her. They cease to be selfish when one does them out of duty - in THAT case they are altruism and she was against that.

So, good luck to you in your endeavor to understand Ayn Rand's morality and please share this article and forward it to others if you liked it and think it could set the record straight.


Peace and Prosperity to you, dear reader.




1 comment:

  1. Hi Ifat (Stephanie Bond from FB here). Good piece. I hear your frustration with people and their utter refusal to comprehend that just maybe, "selfishness" has been wrongly branded as evil and altruism has been wrongly branded as good.

    And if even after reading your piece they still think that, well, they're never going to change. Hopefully a few people will take a step back and examine the premises they were taught, and come to realize that when you mix up two concepts the way selfishness and altruism have been mixed up, the results are going to be devastating.

    But I think for most people hearing people like us point out the issues has to be akin to discovering that their car isn't supposed to have it so that when they press on the pedal, you stop and when you press the brake, you go forward. It's supposed to be the other way round, but that's the way they've always operated their car (so to speak.)

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