The title essay (first chapter) in the small paperback Philosophy: Who Needs It? may be the most important essay for young people to read, but it is not enough by itself. The essay explains that philosophy underlies all of our views, opinions, and perspectives. It is a conceptual connection that cannot be denied. But beyond that, young people searching for meaning in their lives need to know that there is an answer, there is a solution for them and for America so they should not despair–but time to act is short. The answer is a “philosophy for living on earth”; one that can rationally explain why their highest purpose is to achieve their personal happiness in their lifetime–and that this is realistically possible.
Many young people who discover Ayn Rand are enraptured by her, then they “grow up”. Their “adult” conclusion is that Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism does not really work in the real world. The problem is not with Objectivism but with their lack of depth in understanding. If they live long enough and become wise enough, they might eventually come full circle. They will realize that they had the answer, but that they rejected it because they did not delve deeply enough, they did not investigate deeply enough, they did not understand deeply enough. Why? Because philosophy is very abstract by its nature. It deals with the most fundamental principles and premises underlying all.
Connecting the dots in all aspects of life requires the mental task of integration, of combining all of your knowledge into a harmonious whole. This is more difficult when dealing with philosophy because fundamental ideas are very abstract. However, man is the rational animal; he possesses a conceptual consciousness. The higher animals operate on the perceptual level, but man alone is capable of operating on the conceptual level and of grasping abstract concepts. With the exception of proper names, every word in the English language is a concept. One of the many problems with public (government) education is that it does not teach students how to think conceptually, how to properly use their rational faculty. If you do learn to think, connecting the dots should not be too difficult.
A big problem in America today is that we are very polarized, politically. There are two opposite fundamental ideologies that are absolutely not compatible. But, people do not understand the nature of these ideologies which leads them to be very mixed in their views. They select elements from both of these ideologies and do not realize that those elements are incompatible, that they cannot be mixed. Thus, their personal views are contradictory, but they do not realize it. The only solution is for each individual to spend enough time learning about these fundamental ideas and reflecting on them. They need to grasp the wider implications and consequences, i.e., to connect the dots. Only then can we preserve individual rights and freedom in America for the long term.
There are five branches in Philosophy. Seeing them in outline form will help your understanding.
(Study of existence) (Study of knowledge)
* (Philosophy of art)
To complete the outline above, please draw two lines in the shape of an “X” to connect the opposite corners. These added lines should intersect at the center where Ethics is located. I do not know how to add these lines in this computer program so please do it for me. Thank you.
With the above outline you can visually see how the branches of philosophy are logically connected and hierarchically related. The combination of metaphysics and epistemology comprise the most fundamental level of all human knowledge. Once you understand that you exist and that you know something, you can then ask “what ought I do?” This is the subject of ethics which is concerned with the proper conduct of an individual. Once you know how you as an individual should act, only then can you address the question of how you should act among others in a society. This is the subject of politics. Do you see the logical order? Do you understand the necessity of this progression, of these mental steps?
To more fully grasp the concept of hierarchy, consider an example from mathematics. Learning to count is the most fundamental level. On the basis of knowing how to count, you can then learn addition and subtraction. Then, on the basis of knowing counting, addition, and subtraction, you can learn multiplication and division. Finally, with an understanding of all of the previous levels, you can learn algebra. Understand?
One of the problems in public (government) school education today is that they violate hierarchy, the logical order of learning. I once saw a simple problem in a 3rd grade math text. It showed four ways to solve that problem. There was the Egyptian method, the matrix method, and two other methods of which I’ve forgotten the names. In 3rd grade?!!! Methodology is an appropriate subject in college, maybe upper division or graduate school, but in the 3rd grade? All a 3rd grader needs are the 3 R’s: reading, writing, and arithmetic! Attempting to teach him methodology is to present a valid element but out of its logical order of learning–and it is too advanced for 3rd grade. This will forever warp his mind! The only way for him to “survive” his education (indoctrination) is to memorize (because genuine understanding becomes impossible when hierarchy is violated) and to be conditioned to accept “facts” from an authority (whether school teacher or political dictator) without examination or inquiry (questioning).
Yes, all of this is related–and important. You need to be able to connect the dots in order to see that America is in big trouble. Have you “survived” your education and are still capable of thinking? You have fewer rights and freedoms than most of your fellow “citizens” (subjects) realize, and you are losing those that remain at an alarming rate. This is an important reason to pay attention to what is happening around you and to be aware, to be observant and mentally active. This is also why you need to understand the structure of philosophy and thus of an ideology. It has practical, real world consequences that will directly affect your life whether you realize it or not.
Let us look at an issue in each branch of philosophy and see what happens when these separate elements are combined. In metaphysics (study of existence), the issue is objective reality versus unreality or other realities. In epistemology (study of the nature and structure of knowledge), reason versus mysticism. In ethics, rational egoism (selfishness) versus altruism (selflessness). In politics, individualism versus collectivism. The study of esthetics (philosophy of art) is important, but it is not the topic of this article. Taking the combination of the first element in each pair of issues in each of the branches, here is what the outline looks like:
Objective reality Reason
* Rational egoism
This is an outline of the ideology of freedom. Again, please complete the outline by adding two lines in the shape of an “X” to connect the opposite corners. When implemented, individualism in politics results in laissez faire capitalism, the essence of which is freedom. The real scale in politics is individualism versus collectivism, not liberal versus conservative, nor left versus right. Most politicians in Washington DC are collectivists, regardless of their party affiliation.
The ideology of freedom comes from Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. An individual right is the concept that logically connects an ethics of selfishness to a politics of individualism. Rights are a selfish concept because you have a right to your life, to your liberty, and to the pursuit of your happiness. Selfishness properly defined is good! The primary beneficiary of your actions should be yourself because you, the individual, are the fundamental unit of value in individualism. Yes, it is also appropriate for you to intend to benefit others if those others are a value to you. Examples are your wife, sibling, or good friend. This is rational egoism. There is much confusion in this area, and you must clear it up in your own mind because it is crucial to your peace of mind and happiness.
The only fundamental argument against capitalism is that it is evil because it is selfish; it is the assumption that greed is bad. The question of whether or not capitalism is moral logically depends upon whether or not selfishness is moral. That is why the idea that “selfishness is good” is so important. The power of morality and of this idea will literally dictate whether your children will live in freedom with their rights intact or as sacrificial slaves under a brutal collectivist dictatorship.
Conventional wisdom says that a selfish man will be greedy. He will lie, cheat, and steal. The problem is that lying, cheating, and stealing do not work. These actions do not serve a man’s best interest within the context of his entire lifetime. What does work is studying hard in school, earning a college degree, getting a good job, working hard, building a reputation for honesty and dependability, and being a good friend. If you are good to your friends, you will have and keep good friends. This is philosophic selfishness, concern with one’s own long term interests. The requirement of being long term necessitates being rational. Philosophic selfishness is rational self interest. Greed is okay if it is rational. Conventional wisdom is wrong–and imprecise!
The United States was founded on an individualist politics. This is the source of your “inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. An individualist politics faithfully implemented would result in laissez faire capitalism which is characterized by a small government of very limited powers. Most Americans do not understand what capitalism is and that its essence is freedom. Our Founding Fathers did not have the big three, conclusions in the three most fundamental branches of philosophy that provide the essential base of individualism: objective reality in metaphysics, reason in epistemology, and rational egoism in ethics. (See outline) The combination of these ideological elements were unknown in their time. Only in the mid-twentieth century did Ayn Rand make these explicit for the first time in history and thereby provide the ideological foundation for freedom.
Ayn Rand declared that in its original founding documents, the United States was the only moral nation in history because it was founded on the principle of individual rights. She also asserted that the Declaration of Independence is the greatest political document in history. Against the long tradition of a division between morality and practicality in philosophy, she showed how they are necessarily connected. An example of this connection is my principle that “a nation’s prosperity is proportional to its freedom”. If you look at the world you will see that all dictatorships are poor. There are no exceptions. The most prosperous countries are semi-free. There are no completely free countries. America was the freest country for the first century and a half of its existence, and this is the source of both her wealth (practicality) and her (moral) greatness. The moral is the practical. To make America great again, we must first make America free again!
Combining the second element in the previously stated issues in each branch of philosophy results in the following outline:
Unreality or Mysticism
* Moral Duty
This is an outline of the ideology that results in slavery. Again, please complete the outline by adding two lines in the shape of an “X” to connect the opposite corners.
A brief explanation is in order. Have you heard of Plato’s world of forms? In metaphysics Plato believed that this world that we live in is an imperfect reflection of the perfect world of forms. The world of forms was also the source of alleged innate knowledge which is the basis of mysticism, of “knowledge” for which there is no rational explanation or evidence.
Aristotle did not agree. Aristotle, the philosopher, is known as the father of logic and believed that the world we live in is the only reality, that there are no other worlds. Plato and Aristotle were opposites on all of the fundamentals. Aristotle was a student of Plato for 20 years before breaking off and founding his own school, the Lyceum. Plato’s school was the Academy.
The history of Western philosophy is mostly a series of footnotes to Plato. That is why dictatorships are so prevalent today–which is a practical consequence of the widespread acceptance of the ideology of slavery. These fundamental ideas have real life consequences, and that is why it is so important for you to be aware of them. Whether or not you and your children are free or are slaves will be determined by fundamental ideas. Your only choice is whether to be aware of them based on rigorous study, or to be ignorant and have them rule your life by default. In either case you cannot escape the power and consequences of fundamental ideas.
Yes, I am saying that Aristotle’s philosophy, with corrections by Ayn Rand, provides the ideology that results in freedom. Plato’s philosophy with its evolution throughout the history of Western philosophy provides the ideology that leads to dictatorship, and thus to slavery. I am attempting to make all of this clear to you so that you can unambiguously choose your path.
One key idea that is causing havoc everywhere in modern times is altruism, the ethical belief that we have a moral duty to provide for the needy. This is extremely important because altruism is the ethical foundation of the welfare state, of entitlements, and of all forms of government redistribution of the wealth–which is a violation of property rights. It gives the government and dictators a moral sanction to rob Peter in order to pay (or give to) Paul. The welfare state cannot be eliminated until the ethics of altruism is invalidated and discredited.
Altruism does not mean benevolence as most people mistakenly believe. It does not mean kindness or good will toward others. It does not mean helping others when and if you can. Giving a dime to a beggar does not make you an altruist. Since you have a moral duty to subordinate your interests to the interests of others, you already owed him that dime! It is in this way that altruism actually makes benevolence impossible. Your giving is not considered kindness or generosity but moral duty. It demands that you sacrifice all of your values: material, intellectual, and spiritual. You may not even hold firm moral convictions because that would be selfish. Altruism is a false moral code, not a practical way to live a successful life. If all of your values and convictions must be sacrificed to the group (collective), who or what are you? Are you selfless? There can be no self-esteem without a “self”. But, a worker bee in a collectivist honey bee hive does not need self-esteem. (The information in this paragraph comes from a panel discussion with Ayn Rand on the Psychology of Altruism, WKCR radio)
Is it better to give than to receive? If so, what is the status of the person who receives? Altruism never addresses this question. It never addresses whether or not the person who gives is morally superior to the person who receives. Why not? Ayn Rand identifies three basic groups of people: producers, moochers, and looters. Effective thinking and action results in production, and man survives by consuming what he produces. He cannot thrive in pure nature as the animals do. Producers create the hospitable environments in which humans can flourish. Moochers beg for the producer’s goods, looters steal them. By the way a dictator is a looter. Connect the dots, and you will see that he is a parasite. Producers are the only ones who are essential for human survival. Capitalism is the system of freedom geared to the requirements of producers. Collectivism is comprised of systems suited to the needs of moochers and looters.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant took altruism to its logical conclusion. He said that if you sacrifice yourself on earth in order to gain a reward in heaven, you would still benefit and thus you were still selfish. A moral action according to Kant could not benefit you at all. You must sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. A man would die if he consistently followed such a code, and this fact reveals its essence. Altruism is the ethics of sacrifice fueled by your unearned guilt (the sanction of the victim). It is anti-man and anti-man’s life. This is why altruism is an evil moral code.
Moral duty is the concept that logically connects an ethics of altruism to a politics of collectivism. A good way to understand collectivism is with the analogy of the honey bee hive. The citizen in any pure form of collectivism is a worker bee and has no rights. He has only a moral duty to work and sacrifice his life for his hive, for his collective, whether that group is his village, community, country, religion, or race. The personal happiness of a citizen in a collective is irrelevant; his life is expendable. All that matters is that he contributes to the survival and to the “common good” of his hive–which is the fundamental unit of value in collectivism, not the individual who is a replaceable worker bee. His life is relevant only to the extent of his sacrifice. His moral worth is judged by how much he sacrifices. Altruism is the ethics of sacrifice.
When implemented collectivism results in one of its three variations: socialism, fascism, or communism. They differ in degree but not in kind and are characterized by an all-powerful big government. They all end in some form of dictatorship, in the enslavement of the worker bee who has a moral duty to sacrifice his life for his hive, for his collective, for his group, for others, for anyone but himself. He is selfless.
We have a mixed economy in America today. It is an unstable mixture of capitalism and collectivism, and it is unstable because, like oil and water, two incompatible opposites cannot be permanently mixed. Communism is the most extreme version of collectivism. Two 20th century examples were the Soviet Union and Chairman Mao’s Red China. The first was responsible for the brutal deaths of at least 50 million people. The second was responsible for twice that many. In such a setting what would your life be worth? Fundamental ideas really do have real world consequences!
Do you know the difference between socialism and fascism? Under socialism the government owns the means of production. Under fascism they are mostly privately owned but controlled by the government through regulations. Which version do we have in America?
Very few Americans understand the nature of capitalism. The ideologically pure version is known as laissez faire capitalism. Its essence is freedom: political, economic, and individual freedom. It is the consequence of your individual rights being honored and respected by everyone, and especially by your own government.
I will now state something that you will probably consider radical, at least initially, but please examine the logic of it. The source of a regulation is fascism, not capitalism. If the essence of capitalism is freedom, how do you get a regulation out of that? Of course, we must make a clear distinction between a law and a regulation. Having a clear meaning for any word would be going against the modern trend, but that trend is moving us rapidly toward collectivism, toward dictatorship. If you want conformity, then you can still choose to be a compliant slave. But, once you become a worker bee in a dictatorship, you will no longer have any significant choices left. You will have become a replaceable and expendable component in your collective. A proper law would protect your rights; a regulation violates them. Worker bees do not have rights; expendable components do not need them, nor are they important enough deserve them. Under laissez faire capitalism your rights would be sacred, and that is why you would be free. Regulations could not exist in a context of freedom! Regulations come from the fascism in our mixed economy. They are fascist!
Most Americans do not understand what rights are, and are not. That is why we have been losing so many of them. Let us briefly examine the example of property rights. Ayn Rand stated that a man who does not own what he produces is a slave. Robbing Peter to pay (or to give to) Paul is immoral because it is theft. Whether that theft is committed by the local criminal, the mafia, or the government, it is still theft! It is still morally wrong! Redistribution of the wealth by government is theft, pure and simple. Whether in the form of welfare, entitlements, subsidies, or anything else, it is a violation of the property rights of the person who earned the money. We need to assertively repeat to our government the words of Davy Crockett, the hero of the Alamo in 1836 who served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. My money is “not yours to give”. There is nothing wrong with giving, but only if it is your choice to give only your own money. Genuine compassion is giving your own money; counterfeit compassion is giving someone else’s money! Politicians are only generous with your money!
There is no such thing as a “right” to violate the rights of another, to initiate physical force on others. The alleged “right” to medical care is an example of a false right. If you force a doctor to treat a patient against his will, to that extent you make him a slave. A doctor has the same rights that you do. Everyone has the same rights which implies that we must refrain from violating the rights of others–or thereby forfeit our own. To force anyone to provide another with any good or service to which that other has an alleged “right” is to violate the rights of the first person. False rights destroy genuine rights. You really do need to understand the difference. To force one to associate with another is a violation of the first person’s right of association, and of disassociation. Freedom is all about choice. A bilateral contract is the model for freedom. One must voluntarily become a party to a bilateral contract, or there is no contract. It is the essence of a free market.
The link at the very bottom will take you to an essay that will give you to an explanation of Ayn Rand’s theory of rights. It is rooted in reality, not in mysticism. It is demonstrably true. It is part of the reason why Rand is my greatest hero. Aristotle is my second hero. Many consider him to be the first Founding Father of the United States because his ideas made America possible.
The battle for rights and freedom in America is an ideological one. It is a battle of ideas. For over a hundred years the ideology of slavery (and recently of political correctness) has been winning by default because of the lack of a coherent and easily understood alternative. This commentary is an attempt to briefly explain and simplify the issue–and to give you that alternative. The ideology of freedom can win only if we are able to understand and clearly articulate it. Freedom is what made America great. It is only freedom that can make her great again. It is a cause worth fighting for! The default option is for you and your children to live as slaves. As Thomas Jefferson said, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance (with an active and observant mind)!
Young White America Is Dying of Despair
The Ugly Face of Socialism
It has been said that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Those naive idealists who believe in a Socialist Utopia have no idea of the essential evil of all forms of collectivism–or do they? We must literally fight for our very lives against the establishment of any form of collectivism in America! Inevitably, it will lead to dictatorship and (your) slavery.
The 25th Anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union
Socialism Requires a Dictator
Your Socialism is Bad
United States: Now a Collectivist Nation?
Two or three decades ago the Democrats were the red states and the Republicans were the blue states. Then, during Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, the colors were switched! Brilliant! Some smart guy switched the colors because he didn’t want the “red” Democrats to be associated with the Red Communists. That association is accurate, and he didn’t want anyone to connect the dots. The Democrats, Obama, and the radical Left all share the ideology of slavery. They also follow it far more consistently than the Republicans (who do not understand the ideology of freedom at all) follow its opposite, and that is why slavery is winning. Ideological consistency is important. That is why our country is rapidly becoming a collectivist dictatorship.
Most citizens, whether Democrat or Republican, are very mixed in their ideologies. They are not aware of what their ideology is, let alone know what it means. That is why an advocate of collectivism will sincerely claim to be an American patriot who believes in rights. In reality what he actually believes in are “false rights”, and he does not understand that his professed ideology would make him a slave. My motive in writing this commentary is to enlighten him–and you. We need to turn our country around so that we can be a free country again.
Karl Marx famously said that “Machines create intelligence”. He had it backwards. It was intelligence that created the first machine. Cause and effect cannot be reversed. Marx was fundamentally wrong.
Why Do People Become Communists, and Why Do They Stick With It?
Communism and Fascism: A Brief Explanation of the Deception that Brought us to the Verge
Take a look at America’s future
This lion grows up to devour men
Background info: Classical liberalism in the beginning of the 20th century meant the opposite of what liberalism means today. Classical liberalism was synonymous with laissez faire capitalism. Liberalism today is statism, the advocating of the all-powerful state. It is collectivism, not individualism. Today’s liberal is a statist, an advocate of the collectivist honey bee hive and, thus, of slavery! Beware of fuzzy word meanings and language manipulation by the liberals, progressives, and radical Left. Current words often mean the opposite of what they once meant and of what you still think they mean! That is why things seem so upside down and backwards today. The goal is to turn all worker bees into slaves–who only learn later that they have willingly walked into a trap. It is brilliant to manipulate someone into digging his own grave; it is ignorant and stupid for him to do it. That is the goal of language manipulation. Beware of fake news! Stupid is as stupid does. Thomas Jefferson famously said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance!
Why The H-1B Visa Racket Should Be Abolished, Not Reformed
One of Ayn Rand’s great achievements was to derive good and evil from the facts of reality. She is the only person in history to have ever done this. She thereby removed ethics from the monopoly of religion and mysticism and placed it firmly into the province of reason. I had been consciously searching for a rational basis of ethics during my college years. I was very fortunate to have found it in Objectivism. It was my salvation! Rand’s theory of individual rights rests directly on her Objectivist ethics. There is a seamless connection. If you read and understand the essay below, you will be enlightened!
Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society