Amerika

How to get popular

Justify selfishness.

If you look at all massively popular things, that’s what they do: praise the social ego, that which demands more attention and more material product, and needs to think highly of itself.

They just don’t do it directly… that doesn’t flatter the ego, but makes it feel manipulated.

Tiresome much? Yeah, it is. Here’s a good example:

What is Objectivism?

Rand described it as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” The only social system consistent with this morality, Rand insisted, is pure, unfettered capitalism, and the only function of government is the protection of individual rights.

The Week

Working for you own happiness is a good way to isolate yourself.

I appreciate what Rand is reacting against: unfettered socialism, or the idea that we make equal distribution of wealth our primary goal, and therefore have zero feedback mechanism for separating responsible people from the parasites. What’s nice about Rand is that she simply calls them parasites.

…mediocrities, parasites, and “second-handers” (i.e., the altruistic)…

What’s insane and silly is that she insists on judgment of the individual, which requires individuals constantly mucking up social order in an effort to prove themselves. Not quality thinking there.

What’s even more insane and silly is that she adopts her ideas from Nietzsche, super-simplifying his social Darwinism into “do what you want and if you succeed, it’s the will of God/nature/Reason.” From a philosophical standpoint, “Objectivism” has nothing to do with objectivity, never proves itself, and in fact never advances an argument — it lavishes us with words that sound good describing concepts that seem to feel good, until we consider their secondary consequences.

In Rand’s world, the only argument is for the advancement of the individual; nevermind that society itself requires the cooperation of individuals, and does not naturally entail supporting parasites or creating bureaucracies hidebound in rules requiring they support parasites. She creates a false dichotomy, and people relish is because they — although this is cheesy, most people’s logic is fairly cheesy — like the idea that selfishness is justified.

It makes more sense to have a goal/values for society at large, to work for family and community, and to realize the self is means to an end (the experience of life through the self)… but that would require Rand to face some unpopular truths. Ever the marketer, she sidesteps that.

Her dichotomy of the free versus the unfree, “reason” (rationalism) versus emotion/aesthetics, and so on reminds me of every liberal super-state and utopia ever designed. The individual is king; that’s liberalism. There should be no rules on the individual; that’s liberalism. We will use utilitarianism to make this individual king; that’s liberalism. So why is she a conservative icon? Oh, because her route to “freedom” is through money.

Except that, historically speaking, mercantilism and capitalism are liberal innovations. They came as a replacement for the system of leadership by pure power through the best, known as aristocracy.

Rand’s dichotomies remind me of this:

The Bielefeld Conspiracy story goes that the city of Bielefeld (population 330,000) in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia does not actually exist. Rather, its existence is merely propagated by an entity known only as SIE (THEY or THEM), which has conspired with authorities to create the illusion of the city’s existence.

The theory posits three questions:

1. Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
2. Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
3. Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?

A majority are expected to answer ‘no’ to all three queries; if they don’t, they, or the person they know, are said to be simply part of the conspiracy.

Wikipedia

You must acknowledge the dogma. If you do not, you are part of the anti-dogma, and therefore your opinion is valid. In Rand’s case, the dogma is the ego, the method is capitalism, and while we all enjoy her slamming of the parasites, we should just get over our fears from social censure and criticize parasites on our own, without adopting a similarly parasitic ideology.

People working for the individual, through modern “reason” (linear thinking) produces the soulless modern city, the streets lined with advertising, the ugly concrete cube architecture, the blockhead giant corporations, the neurotic liberal office worker and the lonely Republican rich girl pining for meaning in her life. Rand is utilitarianism; Rand is “fiscally-justified anarchy,” or libertarianism; Rand is destruction of the soul in the human spirit, just to get over our social fear of criticizing the parasite.

When she died of lung cancer, in 1982, a 6-foot-high floral dollar sign was erected by her open coffin.

Gauche.

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