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David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 1

A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism David King MyBook is dedicated to two non-existent fictional characters:William Hastings, who does not appear in ATLAS SHRUGGED and Emmanuel Goldstein, who does not appear in 1984 Chapter 1 ..... AYN RAND AND OBJECTIVISM - PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE Chapter 2 ..... THINKING Chapter 3 ..... THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT DEFINITIONS Chapter 4 ..... ECONOMICS FROM AN OBJECTIVIST VIEWPOINT Chapter 5 ..... RIGHTS AND FREEDOM Chapter 6 ..... THE ETHICS UNDERLYING SOCIAL STRUCTURE Chapter 7 ..... GOVERNMENT Chapter 8 ..... BEYOND GOVERNMENT Chapter 9 ..... RELIGION Chapter 10 ... SPIRITUALITY, ART, AND BEAUTY Chapter 11 ... THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF CIVILIZATION Chapter 12 ... LIBERTARIAN GUERILLA WARFARE Chapter 13 ... TO SHRUG - AN ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE FOR AN INDIVIDUALIST

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An Objectivist dictionary A Handbook of Logical Fallacies

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David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 2 Who the Hell is David King? It is my intention to present an introduction, from the perspective of a scientist, to the ideas of Objectivism, a guide to other presentations of these ideas, and some applications of the ideas to important problems. Here you will find a rather motley mosaic of subsections, each generated from whatever sources of information I have encountered and each analyzed as best I can from within the context of my three-decade study of Objectivism. In order to promote the maximum dissemination of the ideas, I have decided to place all my writings into the Public Domain. I grant permission to anyone to use my writings, or any parts of them, in any way that may help to further the spread of reason and freedom in our society.

MyBook is an ongoing project for me as I add new ideas and revise old ideas in a continual attempt to make a better presentation. I would appreciate being notified of errors of any kind in these writings, or of any statements that could be clarified so as to make a better presentation.

Chapter 1 AYN RAND AND OBJECTIVISM - PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE Starting with a critique of Ayn Rand, I move into a presentation of Objectivism, then to a consideration of the connection between Science and Philosophy, with some additional comments in which I try to make the scientific mentality a little less mysterious to people who have not been explicitly schooled in a scientific field. * Randism vs. Objectivism * Rand's incorrect definition of selfish * Rand's personal statist views * Rand's failure to distinguish between politics and economics * What is Objectivism? * The non-existent "Is-Ought" dichotomy * Objectivist Values * The Antagonism Between Philosophy and Science * How Scientists Can Build Bombs * The Connection Between Philosophy and Science * The Scientific Attitude of Mind * Some History of Science * Science vs. Magic * Examples of the Scientific Attitude applied * Some Critiques of Science * Why Objectivism is rejected * Hallmarks of a Cult * The Commentator Syndrome * Objectivism in the Universities Chapter 2 THINKING * Tools of Thought * Language


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 3 * Strength And Leverage * IQ As A Potential * Useful Thinking Techniques * Memory * Procedures for Carrying on a Discussion * Criticism * The Scientific Method * The Military Staff Study * Notes on the Significance of Intellectual Context * Faulty Thought Processes * Piagetian Operational Stages * The Use Of Emotions As Tools Of Cognition * Introspection * Orwell - Newspeak - Brainwashing - Prolefeed Chapter 3 THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT DEFINITIONS * On the Importance of Correct Definitions * How to Make a Definition * Concept Reduction Some approaches to defining a few interesting concepts: ..* Certainty ..* Probability ..* To Be ..* References ..* Envy ..* Instinct ..* Luck ..* Standard vs. Purpose - Man qua Man - to Survive or to Flourish ..* Suicide ..* Nonsense ..* Compromise Chapter 4 ECONOMICS FROM AN OBJECTIVIST VIEWPOINT * Objective vs. Subjective Economic Value * History * The Corporate Enterprise * Political Power vs. Economic Power * Property ...* What is property? ...* The right to property ...* Why must we recognize property rights? ...* Philosophical underpinnings ...* Ownership ...* John Locke on Property ...* Some questions about the Lockean thesis ...* Intellectual Property - Information as Property ...* Bibliography * Capitalism * Wealth * The Need For Money * The Evolution of Money and the Nature of inflation * The Effects of Inflation Several miscellaneous issues: ...* Foundations ...* Bootstrap Economics


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 4 ...* Economic Calculations ...* Agriculture in China: An example of central control vs. individual control ...* The Tragedy of the Commons ...* The Public Goods Problem ...* Fascism-Communism ...* Marx ...* The Luddite Phenomenon ...* Liability ...* Productivity ...* Fair Trade Chapter 5 RIGHTS AND FREEDOM * Natural Rights * There is no such Thing as Freedom Chapter 6 THE ETHICS UNDERLYING SOCIAL STRUCTURE * Some Ethical Concepts Defined * Philosophy Underlies Society * Foundation of Law * Stateolatry * Miscellaneous Ethical Topics ...* The "Nothing to Hide" argument ...* Voting ...* Majority Rule - Democracy ...* Abortion ...* Ethics as Black-and-White ...* Honesty vs. Dishonesty ...* Crime - The Criminal Mentality ...* Hate Crimes ...* Conspiracy ...* What is a Slave? ...* Profound Ethical Concerns ...* Charity - Egalitarianism - Welfarism ...* Coerced Compassion ...* Effect of Social Complexity on Statism ...* The Philosophical Chameleon ...* Dual Ideologies ...* Hallmarks of a Conservative ...* Libertarian Foreign Policy ...* The Ethical Carnivore ...* Voluntary vs. Coercive - Trade vs. Theft ...* Self-Defense ...* Preemptive Force ...* Rules vs. Principles ...* Polygamy vs. Monogamy ...* Forgiveness Chapter 7 GOVERNMENT * Government defined * Descriptions of Government * Corruption in Government * The Real Function of Government * What Government Responds to * Political Intentions are Irrelevant * Failures and Contradictions of Government


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 5 * Why Government Failure is Inevitable * Government Murders During the 20th Century * The War On Drugs Chapter 8 BEYOND GOVERNMENT * Limited Government * Jury * Government is a Mistake * Anarchism * A Covenant for a Union of Sovereign Americans Chapter 9 RELIGION * Christianity vs. Objectivism * Christianity vs. the Lightning Rod * Christianity vs. Women and Sex * Interview with God * Robert Ingersoll on Religion * Religious Roots of Evil * Attila and the Witch Doctor * Basic Principles of Objectivism - Nathaniel Branden - from Lecture #4 * The Case of God vs. the Case of Reality * God as Big Daddy * Religion and Insanity Chapter 10 SPIRITUALITY, ART, AND BEAUTY * The Spirituality of a Scientist * The Credo of a Rational Man * Prayer * Oath * Marriage * Love * Table Blessing * Art * Beauty * The Need for and Function of Art and Beauty * The Nature of Pleasure * The Nature of Fiction * Dancing * The Destruction of Art under Statism * Miscellaneous Comments on Art Chapter 11 THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF CIVILIZATION * Alienation * Principles have Consequences * Freedom/Slavery schizophrenia * Financial Manipulation * Standard of Living * Dependency * Dictatorship American Style * The Alternative of Freedom * Cultural Value-deprivation * Inheritance * Conservation - Environmentalism Chapter 12 LIBERTARIAN GUERILLA WARFARE


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 6 * Rebellion against Government * The Peaceful Means Argument * Injustice is Everyone's Fight * The Problem of the Innocents * Questions to Determine Philosophical Orientation * Prerequisites of a revolution * Thoughts on Terrorism and Guerrilla Warfare * Strategy - Disarm and Disable * Tactics - Focus, Meaning, Purpose * Morale Chapter 13 TO SHRUG - AN ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE FOR AN INDIVIDUALIST * Underlying Philosophy * Historical Precedent * Implementation of Shrugging * A Different World-View * Escape from the moneylenders * A suitable dwelling * Lifetime supplies * Income reduction * Occupation * Security * The Moral is the Practical * Recommendations * Bibliography Miscellaneous Essays An Objectivist dictionary A handbook of logical fallacies Booklist - other sources for Objectivist ideas A keyword index of: The Objectivst Newsletter The Objectivist The Ayn Rand Letter The Objectivist Forum Basic Principles of Objectivism Principles of Efficient Thinking The Psychology of Romantic Love Atlas Shrugged The Fountainhead THE VERGER by W. Somerset Maugham PROLOG by John P. McKnight ULYSSES by Tennyson I, PENCIL by Leonard E. Read Stuff by David King Education in America Privacy on the Internet Living With Cats Some Thoughts On Homesteading Consciousness, Music, Mathematics, Dreams Self-Referential Statements Riddles, Puzzles, Jokes, and clever sayings From the Christian Bible Links to some useful stuff


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Chapter 1 AYN RAND AND OBJECTIVISM - PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE Starting with a critique of Ayn Rand, I move into a presentation of Objectivism, then to a consideration of the connection between Science and Philosophy, with some additional comments in which I try to make the scientific mentality a little less mysterious to people who have not been explicitly schooled in a scientific field. * Randism vs. Objectivism * Rand's incorrect definition of selfish * Rand's personal statist views * Rand's failure to distinguish between politics and economics * What is Objectivism? * The non-existent "Is-Ought" dichotomy * Objectivist Values * The Antagonism Between Philosophy and Science * How Scientists Can Build Bombs * The Connection Between Philosophy and Science * The Scientific Attitude of Mind * Some History of Science * Science vs. Magic * Examples of the Scientific Attitude applied * Some Critiques of Science * Why Objectivism is rejected * Hallmarks of a Cult * The Commentator Syndrome * Objectivism in the Universities

* Randism vs. Objectivism When Nathaniel Branden was asked (after his break with Rand) if he were an Objectivist, he replied: "If you mean, do I agree with the broad fundamentals of the philosophy of Objectivism, I would answer, 'Yes.' But if you mean, as Miss Rand might very well wish you to mean, do I agree with every position that Miss Rand has taken and do I regard the sum total of Miss Rand's intellectual pronouncements as being equal to what is meant by the philosophy of Objectivism, then I am not an Objectivist." I would like to introduce these two terms: A Randite is a disciple of Ayn Rand. Randism is the set of ideas that were Rand's personal beliefs. (This includes, of course, some, but not all, of the precepts of Objectivism.) There is a very important distinction to be made between Randism and Objectivism. Randism asserts the congruency of Rand's statements with the principles of Objectivism: "what Rand says and only what Rand says is Objectivism." The fact that Rand has made incalculably valuable identifications of certain philosophical principles does by no means convey upon her exclusive or infallible authority in the further identification or application of those principles; nor, on the other hand, do the incorrect identifications and improper applications she made in her personal life diminish in any way the truth or usefulness of the philosophical principles themselves. Unfortunately, the waters of Objectivism have been muddied by Rand's repeated attempts to convert her personal preferences into philosophical precepts, and by people who attempt to teach Objectivism without making the distinction I make here. A big difference between Objectivists and Randites is that Objectivists do not view Objectivism as a dogma, i.e., a set of ideas to be accepted without question. We see it as an intellectual tool, much the same as the Scientific Method, that is useful in helping us to understand the world. From this point of view, the idea that someone can be "an enemy of Objectivism" (one of Leonard Peikoff's favorite denunciations) is as ridiculous as the idea that someone can be "an enemy of the Integral Calculus."


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 8 (However, there is a sense in which Peikoff's denunciation has validity. There are many people who so hate the principles of Objectivism and their implications, especially those which point to personal selfresponsibility, that they never miss a chance to deny, disparage and misrepresent Objectivism and denigrate the people who advocate and practice its principles.) There are many parallels to be drawn between Rand/Objectivism and Newton/The Calculus. In each case an immensely powerful, beautiful and useful intellectual tool was derived by a human being who possessed some of the foibles of humanity. In each case the tool was jealously clung to and possessively circumscribed by its creator. In each case the tool was rejected and reviled by some reactionary people. And in each case (as time will eventually demonstrate) the power and utility of the tool will outlast the small-minded people who criticize it. Alongside these parallels there is a significant difference: it would be rather farfetched to regard a set of mathematical principles as a religion, but it is quite possible (and is indeed the practice of some people) to regard a set of philosophical principles as a religion. There are those who adulate Rand almost as if she were a deity and who regard Objectivism as a sacred dogma. And, on the other hand, there are many people in the world who reject a good and powerful set of ideas simply because they associate--wrongly--those ideas with the personal beliefs of Ayn Rand. I believe the important aspects of her life are her philosophical achievements, not her personal attributes. Her personal foibles will eventually fade into the oblivion of historical forgetfulness--like Aristotle's male chauvinism, or Newton's alchemy, or Einstein's socks--and what will be left for future generations are the valuable philosophical identifications she made. How Rand was buffeted by the intellectual currents of her time is of course of interest to the historian of ideas; but it has little bearing on the truth of her propositions. I would say this to the Randites: Abandon the attitude that the principles of Objectivism and the pronouncements of Ayn Rand are congruent sets. Realize that Objectivism, like the Scientific Method, is an open-ended set of principles rather than a closed and rigidly specified dogma. Recognize the importance of the work being done by those scholars who are trying to develop the ethical and political implications of the Objectivist Ethics. Until you do this, you will only be ostracizing yourselves from the living and powerful body of philosophy that is growing on the foundation of Ayn Rand's magnificent achievements. In the hard sciences like chemistry we know pretty well who is a real scientist and who is a flake, even though there is no authoritative organization to enforce standards. The logical nature of science automatically makes it clear who is in and who is out of a scientific enterprise. You can tell whether or not someone is "really" a chemist by comparing his statements and actions with the fundamental principles of chemistry. It is the same with "Objectivists." You don't have to (and shouldn't) take anyone's word for who they are. You must examine their principles and judge whether or not those principles are in accord with the fundamental precepts of Objectivism. Just as a scientist manifests certain specific attributes, an Objectivist manifests certain specific attributes: objectivity, rationality, libertarianism. The hallmarks of an Objectivist are: In Metaphysics: objectivity; the belief that there is a reality which exists independently of consciousness. In Epistemology: reason rather than faith; the belief that it is the function of man's mind to perceive and understand reality--and the confidence that the mind is capable of doing so. In Ethics: libertarianism; the belief that the only proper society is one that is founded upon the nonaggression principle. By these signs you shall know him. Any person who denies any of these three ideas is NOT an Objectivist. A full-context Objectivist will display another behavior also: he will have Shrugged. To say "Ayn Rand's Objectivism" is somewhat like saying "Trofim Lysenko's genetics." In both cases, the set of ideas referred to is limited, severely distorted and, in some fundamentally important ways, wrong. Those who operate on false principles have about as much to contribute to Objectivism as Lysenko contributed to genetics. The contention that Objectivism must be defined only by reference to the ideas expressed by Ayn Rand is like saying that the Calculus must be defined only by reference to the ideas expressed by Newton. The precepts of Objectivism must be accepted (or rejected) on the same basis as any other set of scientific ideas: on whether or not they WORK, not on what any person (myself included) claims they are or should be.


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* Rand's incorrect definition of selfish You will observe that in my essays I do not use the term "selfish," but use instead "self-interested." Here is why. From the introduction to THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS, by Ayn Rand: The title of this book may evoke the kind of question that I hear once in a while: "Why do you use the word 'selfishness' to denote virtuous qualities of character, when that word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?".... there are others, who would not ask that question, sensing the moral cowardice it implies.... There are, roughly speaking, three classes of people: 1. Those concerned with their own advantage without any regard for others. 2. Those who live for others, having little concern for self at all. 3. Those who are concerned with their own self-benefit and who are also aware of and concerned with their social context. Rand makes a good case for altruism's having falsely divided humanity into just two classes, the first and the second, leaving no room for the third category, the "self-respecting, self-supporting man--a man who supports his life by his own effort and neither sacrifices himself nor others." But if you look into the history of the English language, you will find that Rand's use of the term "selfish" to designate the third category is not conclusively justified etymologically. Historically, the terms most often used to designate the three categories are: 1. Selfish: concerned with one's own advantage without regard for others. This has almost always been described as wicked. 2. Selfless: having no concern for self. This has always been described as being ethically laudable. 3. Self-interested: concerned with one's own well-being. This has only sometimes been described as a vice. These three usages are quite sensible terms of classification, enabling us to distinguish clearly among the three classes of people. Rand's insistence on using the term "selfish" to designate that third category is a mistake, both a cognitive mistake and a communications mistake. It is a cognitive mistake because when she usurps the term "selfish" she does not provide an alternative term for the first category. ("Predation" would do just fine.) Thus she commits the same cognitive error for which she upbraids the altruist semantics: providing convenient terms for only two out of the three categories. It is a communications mistake because the three terms enumerated above are distinctly specified also in such references as Webster's Collegiate dictionary, and thus are the terms most likely to be considered by educated Americans. It is certainly true that there are many people to whom "selfish" does not mean the things Rand means, and to question her usage of the term may not, as she so stridently claims, be an act of "moral cowardice" but merely an attempt to preserve cognitive clarity and communications utility. Perhaps it is no coincidence that in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS, Rand places at the very last her essay on "The Argument From Intimidation." It is morally up to each individual to look out for number one, but not only number one. When we choose to bear certain responsibilities (such as responsibilities to our children or spouse) we are morally obligated to come through for them. Objectivism says that there are no UNCHOSEN moral obligations to others or to "society" but that your CHOSEN obligations are of primary importance to your life. Altruism is the theory that the most noble of actions are those that benefit others by means of the sacrifice of one's own values. Predation consists of actions taken to benefit yourself by means of the sacrifice of others to yourself. Objectivism advocates Self-interest: A life in pursuit of our true interests as human beings, in which production and trade, not theft, are the central activities of a free society. It is not a life of trying to grab the biggest slice of the pie in a zero-sum game, but a life of producing more and bigger pies. It is not a life of screwing the other guy for your own gain, but one of upholding your promises and contracts, and knowing that it is in your own interest to uphold your end of the bargain in any situation. It is not a life of cheating on your obligations to others while indulging your pleasures, but a life of


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 10 accepting your chosen responsibilities and earning the trust of others and honor for yourself. It is not a life of greedy scheming and back-stabbing, but one in which you, by practicing the virtues of honesty, integrity, and justice, help to advance the smooth operation of free markets, and strengthen the fabric of civil society. It is not a life that is mean, solitary and devoid of community activity, but one in which you give generously of your time and money to work with and support people and organizations that share your values and have earned your respect.

* Rand's personal statist views In the realm of politics we must make a careful distinction between Rand's personal views and the implications of the Objectivist ethics. The Objectivist principle is quite clear: "The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may INITIATE the use of physical force against others. No man--or group or society or government--has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man." (From "The Objectivist Ethics," in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS.) But Rand's personal stand is fundamentally statist. We can best see this in her answers to two questions put to her during her appearance at the Ford Hall Forum in 1972. Question: Have you heard of the Libertarian Party and would you consider endorsing John Hospers and Tonie Nathan as presidential candidates? Rand: "Look, I would rather vote for Bob Hope or the Marx brothers, if they still exist, or Jerry Lewis--I don't know who is the funniest today, rather than something like professor Hospers and the Libertarian Party. Look, I don't think Henry Wallace is a great thinker but even he--he's pretty much of a demagogue, though with some courage--even he had the good sense to stay home this time if he wanted to some extent--if he had one ounce of sincerity and wanted some freedom for his country. To choose this year to start after personal publicity--and if Hospers and whoever the rest are get ten votes away from Nixon, which I doubt, but if they do it is a moral crime." Question: Will you comment on the issue of should amnesty be granted to draft dodgers? Rand: "I think it is an improper question to be discussed while there is a war going on. It is a very complex question but you cannot, when men are dying in a war, say that you promise amnesty to those who refused. On the other hand I do not blame those who refused to be drafted if they did so out of general conviction, not necessarily religious, but if they oppose the state's right to draft them. They would have a case, and they would go to jail. And they would be willing to take that penalty." Rand implied that the draft may be bad, but prisons are okay. Her assumption was that the Draft Law has legitimacy and that the State can dictate what our responsibilities are. What a distressing alternative: either submit to the draft or submit to imprisonment. No true libertarian would willingly accept either of these statist choices. Both Rand and her disciples have continually asserted a strong opposition to the political implementation of libertarianism. And her acceptance of the legitimacy of government coercion was repeatedly expressed both in word and deed.

* Rand's failure to distinguish between politics and economics The last criticism I wish to present against Ayn Rand involves a failure that was expressed not just in her personal behavior but also in her philosophical writings. It is that she never made a distinction between Politics and Economics. She almost always referred to capitalism as "laissez-faire capitalism" or "free-market capitalism," thus inexorably integrating this primary economic concept with a political institution. In my writings I will try to make a clear distinction between the two realms of human activity, and provide definitions that will make it easier to think about them.

* What is Objectivism? In considering the most fundamental way of thinking about the nature of the universe, there are two distinct ideas: One, known as subjectivity, asserts fundamentally that existence is created by consciousness. The other idea, known as objectivity, asserts fundamentally that there is indeed a real world that has its own existence, independent of any perceiving consciousness.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 11 Observe that the objectivity thesis governs your behavior, even if it does not control your thoughts and speech. If this were not so, you would already be dead: You wouldn't stop on the curb to let the trucks go roaring past, you wouldn't cook your food, you wouldn't drive on the appropriate side of the road, you wouldn't practice safe sex.... etc. The only sincere solipsist is a dead solipsist. Objectivity is, metaphysically, the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver's consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver's consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). Objectivism is the intellectual process of correctly and consistently applying the principle of objectivity to the universe in general. Objectivism can be considered as a generalization of the Scientific Method, itself a subset of Objectivism, which is the process of applying objectivity to the physical world specifically. You start with objectivity - the belief that there is something out there to learn about, something to be identified. Objectivism is the set of techniques and guidelines by which you apply your mind to learning about it. Keep in mind that philosophical principles do not provide the base of our understanding in the way that axioms do. Philosophy rests inductively on the very body of knowledge which it integrates and explains. As a result, philosophical principles are contextual; they cannot be evidentially closed. They are always subject to further confirmation, qualification, or revision. The reason that Objectivism is not, and cannot ever be, a closed system, is that there will always be more truths to be discovered, and human beings will always be growing in intellectual power, thus always improving the intellectual process by which we identify those truths. Perhaps the best statement of objectivity was made by Albert Einstein: "Out yonder there is this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking." In the realm of scientific endeavor, objectivity (in the form of the Scientific Method) has predominated. But in other realms of human endeavor, such as Psychology, Ethics, and Politics, objectivity has had much less influence in human history, mainly because the lack of a solution to the Problem of the Universals precluded the sort of firm and direct linkage between concepts of consciousness and reality as exists between scientific concepts and reality (where truth prevails in a much more immediate and direct manner). But in the late 1960s the Problem of the Universals was solved by Ayn Rand. She showed that definitions are not arbitrary, and she demonstrated how to derive them directly from observations of reality. She also showed that the same cognitive process that enables you to construct a correct definition also enables you to think in principles: to identify and classify things by reference to their fundamental distinguishing characteristics. This epistemological breakthrough enabled objectivity to be applied to ALL areas of human activity. The work of Rand and other philosophers who have taken up this effort has produced a set of principles now known as the Philosophy of Objectivism. These principles stand in distinct contrast to most of traditional philosophy and are, by and large, rather unpopular. (But that is to be expected of any set of ideas that is new and challenges the existing state of affairs. It has always been this way.) Objectivism is the only philosophy that is completely consistent with physics. The ideas of Objectivism are founded upon a set of axiomatic concepts: Existence, Identity, and Consciousness, and are derived from those concepts by the cognitive procedure set forth in the Objectivist Epistemology. This is a scientific, rationalist method of thinking which subsumes the Scientific Method of determining truth. It extends the Scientific Method to include areas of inquiry not usually thought to be amenable to scientific analysis. In her essay "The Objectivist Ethics," Rand applies this intellectual procedure to identifying a rational basis for ethics and morality. Nathaniel Branden, in his book "The Psychology of Self-Esteem," applies the procedure to identifying the bases of human psychology. Harry Browne gave us a rational explanation of the nature of economics. John Hospers and Murray Rothbard carried the procedure into the field of politics. But the fundamental concern of Objectivism is not politics or ethics or economics, etc. as such, but man's nature and his relationship to existence. The specific ideas I advocate are chosen or constructed in order to accomodate the life of a rational being. A philosophy is a set of principles which provides a consistent and comprehensive frame of reference


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 12 from which to judge man and his environment. If a philosophy is to be a comprehensive frame of reference it must encompass the full scope of man's thoughts and activities. Especially must it include Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Morality, Psychology, Politics, Economics and Esthetics--since all of man's activities are founded on one or more of these fields of study. I will give a brief exposition of the Objectivist principles as they apply to each of these fields. In order to clarify my presentation I will in each case contrast the Objectivist position with its contrary or opposite. The general schema looks like this: Metaphysics objectivity vs. subjectivity Epistemology reason vs. faith Ethics egoism vs. altruism Morality self-interest vs. degeneracy Psychology free will vs. determinism Politics libertarianism vs. statism Economics free enterprise vs. socialism Esthetics romanticism vs. anti-romanticism Let us consider each of these terms and see what they mean. Metaphysics is the science that deals with the fundamental nature of reality. As I pointed out above, there are basically only two viewpoints in this area. One, objectivity, maintains that there is a real, factual world which exists independently of the consciousness of any perceiving entity. This is not to say that there is no interrelationship between consciousness and reality, or that an acting conscious entity cannot alter and transform the entities of reality by acting in accord with the physical laws that describe reality, but rather that the facts of reality have their own existence whether we are aware of them or not. Subjectivity, on the other hand, maintains that reality, in its fundamental essence, is not a firm absolute but is instead somehow dependent on, or a function of, consciousness. The basis of subjectivity is a denial of the Law of Identity. (There is another, quite different, sense in which the term subjective is used: it refers to choices or decisions--usually economic choices or decisions--which are generated by reference to internal states of consciousness rather than by assessment of external factors. For example: the choice between chocolate or vanilla ice cream is a subjective choice. But the choice between an ice cream cone for me or a bottle of milk for my hungry baby should be an objective choice.) Epistemology is the study of the source, nature and validity of human knowledge. Here the Objectivist says that since there is a real world "out there" (outside myself) it is the job of my consciousness to identify it. To do this I make use of my faculty of reason--the ability to perceive, identify and integrate the evidence of reality provided by my senses. The source of all my knowledge lies in the rigorous adherence to logic, the art of non-contradictory identification of the facts of reality. The subjectivist, however, is bound by no such procedure. Since for him there is no firm, absolute "out there," his knowledge has its source in some form or another of introspection (revelation) and its validity is accepted on faith, that is, accepted without evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary. Subjectivism is not an issue of what a statement or conclusion is about; it's an issue of the kind of evidence one uses to support a conclusion. It is not only a way of adopting conclusions, but also a way of evading conclusions by refusing to believe in them. It is not merely an emotional state of mind, it is a philosophy. It says that we should act on our own impulses no matter what they are BECAUSE they are impulses. The very fact that we feel them is not only good enough to justify our actions, but the awareness that they are impulses is all the validation we, as human beings, require. To a subjectivist, rational explanation of thoughts and actions is not only unnecessary, but impossible. Concerning Ethics and Morality I make this distinction: Morality describes intra-personal actions whereas Ethics describes inter-personal actions. For example: dope addiction is immoral (it is selfdestructive) but it is not unethical. Stealing to support one's addiction is, however, unethical. Drunkenness is merely immoral, but blocking the sidewalk with your stupefied body is unethical. Refusing to think is immoral, but failing, through this intellectual laziness, to fulfil your obligations as a husband/father or wife/mother is unethical. As you probably infer, I believe that most unethical actions have their basis in immorality. I will save you the trouble of consulting your dictionary by telling you that this distinction is etymologically unjustifiable. Cicero was the first to use the term "morals" and as he did


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 13 so he noted that he meant this term to have precisely the same meaning as the Greek term "ethics." Since that time the two terms have been used synonymously, but I think it clear that there is a distinction to be made between two kinds of behavior, and the most appropriate terms to use in labeling this distinction are Ethics and Morality. In the field of Ethics the Objectivist position is egoism: that man is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others, and that each man should live his own life for his own sake. The contrary position, altruism, holds that man must make the welfare of others the primary goal of his social relationships and that self-sacrifice is the highest virtue. At this point I am sometimes beset with an argument that starts out: "Do you mean to say that you're the sort of wretched brute who tramples all over other people to gain your ends?" and continues by proposing a kind of false dichotomy which divides all human intercourse into two categories: sadism and masochism, and then tries to sell me masochism on the grounds that sadism is my only alternative. Most people posing this argument refuse to recognize the existence of a third type of man: the independent, self-supporting, profit-making trader, who neither sacrifices others to himself nor himself to others. Morally, this sort of independently existing man is a self-interested person. That is to say, he is a man who is CONCERNED WITH HIS OWN BENEFITS. This implies, of course, that he knows what his own benefits actually are. Is it in one's own physical self-interest to be a drunkard or a dope fiend? Hardly, for these activities are clearly self-destructive. Is it in one's own psychological self-interest to be a liar or a thief? Again, no, because these actions, although not as obviously self-destructive as alcoholism or other drug addiction, are saboteurs of the mind's most basic function: integration. You cannot integrate a contradiction, and both lies and thefts are contradictions. (My second examples-liar/thief--are not merely immoral but unethical as well, and you can see from considering them that unethical actions are associated with immoral conditions.) What I'm trying to point out is that many actions which are usually called "selfish" (lies, thefts, or the wretched brute trampling on his poor fellow creatures) are not IN FACT in one's self-interest at all, and that the truly self-interested man is one who has carefully examined and rationally analysed his nature as a proper human being and thereby determined just what is IN FACT in his self-interest. The liar, thief and brute are not self-interested, they are actually self-destructive. Genuine self-interest requires an awareness of the larger social context that makes it possible to achieve one's values. Objectivist morality has two fundamental bases: the acceptance of life itself as the standard of values; and the identification of the actions that are required by our nature to maintain that standard--to sustain life. The primary task of morality is to identify the conditions that must be satisfied to live successfully. We prove that something is a proper moral value by showing that we need it in order to live properly. We prove that some course of action is a virtue by showing that it is required to achieve a proper moral value. In the realm of Psychology, Objectivism holds that man is a creature of free will. This is to say that he is capable of making choices which are causal primaries. Determinism, on the other hand, is the principle that all of man's choices and actions are determined by forces (usually heredity and/or environment) which are outside of his control. In political issues Objectivists are promoters of the libertarian ideal. Their political goals are based on the ethical principle that no man or group of men has the right to engage in coercion against the person or property of other people. We hold that there are only three proper functions of a governing agency: the military, to protect men against aggression by foreign criminals, the police, to protect men against aggression by domestic criminals, and the courts, to resolve disagreements which can at times arise even among just and rational men. We hold that a governing agency has no right to restrict a person's activities in the moral area (thus we oppose drug laws, laws forbidding sex acts between consenting adults, and all other "victimless crime" laws) and that it can rightfully act in the ethical area only when force (or its derivative, fraud) have been initiated. Thus we oppose all subsidies, tariffs and import/export restrictions, licensing laws, and all other laws restricting the freedom of production, transportation and trade. In brief, we advocate a political system wherein each individual has the right to do anything whatsoever which does not initiate force or fraud against anyone else, and in which the role of a governing agency is strictly restrained to the protection of that right. This is in contrast to the statist system, which is widespread and becoming ever more prevalent today, in which the State exercises predominant control over the actions of individuals, continually increasing the scope and intensity of its regimentation and by "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism."


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 14 Corresponding to its political system, a society has an associated economic system. Considering the nature of libertarianism, it is clear that its associated economic system must have a strong foundation in the individual's right to own, control, use and dispose of his private property. Libertarians advocate a capitalist economic organization in which the means of production--land, capital, etc.--are owned and controlled by individuals (or voluntarily associated groups of individuals), and in which there are no restrictions on the freedom of production, transportation and trade. The opposite form of economic organization, socialism (of which fascism and communism are variants), is a system in which the economic resources are controlled by the State and in which individuals have little, if any, economic freedom. The last philosophical category I will consider is that of art forms. Here, as before, I divide the field into two major domains. One, subsumed by the term romanticism (Ayn Rand's term was "romantic realism"), includes all those works which are based on the recognition that man is a volitional creature-that he has the power to make choices and that those choices are major determinators of his life. The greatest portrayal of romantic heroism can be found in the novels of Ayn Rand. The major task of a romantic work of art is, as Aristotle said, "to show things as they might be and ought to be." The other esthetic domain (which, for lack of a suitable general label, I will simply call "anti-romanticism") shows things as they "must be" (or are seen to be) and depicts man as a creature who has, essentially, no power over his destiny. Anti-romanticism began with classicism, evolved into naturalism, and is in turn evolving into absurdism. The best such work of great classical literature is the Greek drama "Oedipus Rex." A good example of naturalism is "Death of a Salesman" and a typical representative of absurdism is "Waiting for Godot." Esthetically, an Objectivist is a romantic realist. Existentially, he is a practical idealist. If I were asked to express the essence of Objectivism in one short statement I could do no better than to paraphrase Ayn Rand, the foremost identifier and expounder of these principles: Man is a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, non-aggression as his standard of social behavior, productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. Objectivism is a completely reality-oriented and very value-oriented philosophy. Thus, in any discussion of its precepts, the questions arise: How are values related to reality? How are normative propositions related to cognitive propositions? How does Objectivism handle the Is-Ought dichotomy?

* The non-existent "Is-Ought" dichotomy There seems to be a big difference between descriptive statements (about what is) and prescriptive statements (about what ought to be). How exactly can you derive an "ought" from an "is"? Since its invention, this question has become one of the central issues of ethical theory. It was introduced by David Hume in 1740 in Book 3, Part 1 of his "Treatise of Human Nature" and then modernized in 1903 by the Cambridge philosopher George Edward Moore in his "Principia Ethica," where he asserts that normative propositions (the Ought) cannot possibly be derived from cognitive propositions (the Is). This dichotomy attempts to erect an impassable barrier between an entity and its behavior, between what a thing IS and what it OUGHT to do. The dichotomy is similar to Vitalism, an abandoned relic from the history of biology. Vitalism was a doctrine that ascribed the functions of living organisms to a vital principle distinct from chemical and physical forces, thus attempting to erect an impassable barrier between life and non-life. Vitalism was devised by Georg Stahl about 1700 and was demolished by Friedrich Wohler in 1828, Pierre Berthelot in 1860, and Stanley Miller in 1953. It has been proved repeatedly and conclusively that although living things are indeed different from non-living things, they are derived from them nonetheless. Fortunately for the field of biology, the disproof of Vitalism has been fully recognized and accepted. Unfortunately for the field of philosophy, the Is-Ought dichotomy is still almost universally embraced. People who accept this dichotomy ask, "How can you possibly draw valid conclusions about how human beings ought to act by studying the nature of man and, more broadly, the nature of reality?" Objectivism responds: "How can you possibly draw valid conclusions about how man ought to act WITHOUT considering his nature and the nature of the reality in which he must act?" Consider the field of medicine. Would you ask, "How can one possibly derive knowledge of what is good or bad for man's physical well-being by studying man and the world in which he lives?" I don't think so, because the answer is so blatantly obvious.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 15 The assumption underlying the critic's question is that "ought" judgments must be obtained from a "voice of authority." But Objectivism maintains that there is only one ultimate authority: the facts of reality (that which "is"). And when reality is consulted, it clearly informs us that an object's identity determines its behavior. (For a further discussion of the question, "Who decides?" see The Objectivist Newsletter, February, 1965, Pg7) The fact that action results from identity is universally accepted and used in the fields of physics, chemistry, and other realms of science. It is seen to be true not only of inanimate objects but also of living things. It can be seen in the field of biology, where a thing's behavior is determined by internal as well as external influences. One would not attempt to grow an oak tree by treating it as though it were a mushroom, because an oak tree's identity is different from that of a mushroom, and therefore its behavior is different. If we take another step up, from merely living objects to entities possessed of consciousness, we still see the same precept in action. Conscious entities are faced with alternatives. In those creatures whose consciousness functions automatically, that automatic functioning determines the creature's behavior in the face of its alternatives. Now take another step up, to creatures whose consciousness is not automatic but volitional. Some conscious creatures, human beings in particular, possess that attribute of consciousness which Objectivists designate as volitional choice. Again we see the same precept in action: the creature's identity (its particular kind of consciousness) will determine its behavior. The difference is that in this case the "kind of consciousness" is not automatically expressed, but is a result of choice. Here, the creature has the power to deliberately choose among the alternatives it faces. Because our power of choice is not automatic, but volitional, we semantically designate its expression--its outcome--not as "will be" but as "ought to be." The concept "ought" arises from the difference between an automatic form of consciousness and a volitional form of consciousness. "Ought" refers to behavior, but a certain kind of behavior: that which is life-conducive as opposed to that which is life-detractive. The cognitive function of the word "ought" is to designate preferable actions, those which promote the goals of the acting creature. The volitional nature of our consciousness is part of what we ARE, and it enables us to select, to a great extent, the significance of our behavior. What a thing IS, determines what it CAN do, what it WILL do, and if the thing is possessed of volitional choice, what it OUGHT to do. The concept "ought" presupposes the possibility of a certain kind of behavior: a deliberate selection among alternatives. "Ought" has meaning only with reference to a conscious entity that has the ability to make such a selection. "Ought" assumes that there IS such an entity, and that the entity IS faced with an environment that IS containing alternatives. If any of these "IS" conditions are removed from consideration, then the "ought" is deprived of any meaning. It becomes a Stolen Concept. Thus, "ought" is based on "is." You cannot conceptually have "ought" without a preceeding "is." It is the possession of volitional consciousness that gives rise to the whole field of normative propositions. The fact that a human being IS a creature of volitional consciousness is the direct and immediate source of all normative behavior. Morality and moral instruction are necessary because human beings do not live by instinct. Our consciousness is not hardwired to know automatically and infallibly what is good for us and what is bad for us. Yet in order to survive we MUST choose between these things. This is the fact of human nature that makes morality possible, and the reason we need the science of morality. You will encounter a multitude of references to "bridging the Is-Ought gap" but that "gap" can never be bridged, simply because no such gap exists. It is merely a philosophical fantasy. The attempt to sever "ought" from "is"--the attempt to sever normative propositions from cognitive propositions--is merely an attempt to separate morality and ethics from the real world and from human understanding. Moore and Objectivism take diametrically opposite views on the issue of volitional behavior. Objectivism maintains that what a thing IS determines what it OUGHT to do. Moore maintains that what a thing ought to do cannot be determined. Moore's idea is functionally useless, and if adopted will result in a person's staggering through life blindly--with no rational moral guidance. The ideas of Objectivism have great practical utility, and if adopted can lead to tremendous practical success. If you correctly determine what you ARE, and then carefully derive from that what you OUGHT to do, you will have acquired a practical guide for all the moral and ethical decisions of your life.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 16 Objectivism is a philosophy for LIVING on earth. All life is subsumed by ought conditions. If those conditions are not met, the living creature dies. To attempt to establish guidance precepts that ignore those conditions (to think about Oughts not derived from Is) is suicidal. One must ask, why base your guidelines on how to deal with reality on anything OTHER than reality? How you should deal with reality is determined by its nature. What reality IS determines how one OUGHT to deal with it. Any assertion to the contrary implies that reality is not objective but subjective in its fundamental nature. The only people who can take such nonsense seriously are those who believe that philosophy is merely a word game, having no practical application to real life. People who take ideas seriously, and have a genuine concern for learning precepts that will guide them in successful living, will simply reject such "word game" philosophy and give it no further notice. Objectivism is a philosophy for living on THIS earth, not some fantasyland, not some philosophers' wonderland of worthless words where Oughts have no connection with reality. As such, it pays off handsomely in real life, as indeed it has paid off for me right royally during the 30+ years since I adopted it. Objectivism works in all areas of life. It worked for me in the Chem Lab, it works here at my desk as I hammer on this keyboard, it works on the street corner. I, unlike professional philosophers, do not have to abandon my profession when I leave my workplace. The idea that we cannot derive Ought from Is, is a worse than worthless, self-contradictory philosophical fiction. In fact, all of us make Is-Ought derivations every day in the normal course of our lives. Such derivations are inescapable. Examples are innumerable: • I can't read the fine print any more, therefore I ought to get a pair of spectacles. • My baby is sick, therefore I ought to take her to a doctor. • I have a very high aptitude for math, therefore I ought to pursue a career in mathematics. • I love airplanes, therefore I ought to take flying lessons. • It's really hot in here, therefore I ought to turn on the air conditioner. • Even the philosophy professor does this: • Well, I want to get my next paycheck, so I ought to get up this morning and go teach my students about the Is-Ought dichotomy. The issue also has an interesting self-referential aspect: This statement is a normative proposition because it ought not be derived from a cognitive observation of its nature, even though it has been. David King's statements deny the Is-Ought dichotomy, therefore I ought to reject those statements, even this one -- especially this one! I am tempted to say that EVERY time you act, you have expressed (at least implicitly) the conclusion, "I ought to take this action." And that the normative conclusion is always based on your observations of what you ARE, and of what the conditions of your environment ARE. Even if it's merely a whim-of-themoment activity, such as choosing vanilla instead of chocolate in the ice-cream store, you have said, implicitly, "I ought to order vanilla just because I FEEL like eating vanilla!" In this context, it doesn't matter whether or not the bases for the "oughts" are whims. The only relevant aspect of those bases is that they be factual components of your existence, and thus comprise the "Is" upon which rests your judgment of "Ought." (I will have more to say about values and their foundation in the next section.) If indeed all actions are based on an "ought" impulse, then accepting the is-ought dichotomy inevitably results in having values with no action component, since the is-ought dichotomy dissociates this impulse from actions. This would explain the curious attitude of many people who believe that values can be genuine without having an action component. The fact that the is-ought dichotomy (and much other subjectivist nonsense) cannot be accepted and practiced consistently without resulting in your eventual death is what leads to the separation of philosophical principle from real life behavior. Ultimately, what Moore accomplished was not the separation of "is" from "ought" but the separation of his philosophy from the reality of human life. I am reminded of the story of the Logical Positivist who gave a lecture on why the word "God" is meaningless, then asked for directions to the nearest synagogue so he could say his prayers. "What has philosophy got to do with living?" he asked indignantly. Lest you think I jest, consider this remark by the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell: "This [idea] is patently absurd; but whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 17 frightened by absurdities." If you want to know whether or not Objectivism is consistent, don't ask a philosopher - test it by putting it into practice in the real world. That which is practical is that which corresponds to reality. If you derive your moral code from the facts of reality, it will correspond to reality and will therefore be practical. As Rand put it: "The moral is the practical." Do you want to live in the subjectivist's cave, groveling in impotent terror at unknowable shadows flickering dimly on the wall? With no way of knowing what you ought to do to improve your situation? Or would you rather stand erect in the sunlight, living in a world where success is the natural result of human endeavor? The choice is yours; make it wisely. I cannot overemphasize to new students of Objectivism that the entire Objectivist theory of values rests on the contention that what we OUGHT to do is absolutely derived from considerations of what we ARE. You must realize that definitions are NOT arbitrary! And that the definitions of moral and ethical concepts are no more arbitrary than are the definitions of scientific concepts. If you are not prepared to abandon the Is-Ought dichotomy there is no sense in proceeding any further in the study of Objectivist ethics. It will be simply meaningless to you. For additional readings on this subject see: The final chapter of THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM by Nathaniel Branden. "The Objectivist Ethics", which appears in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS.

* Objectivist Values See "The Objectivist Ethics" in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS for Rand's derivation of values. A value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. Values are not merely ideas that sit inside your head, waiting to be realized. They are not wishes, hopes or dreams. Values are those things that you actually ACT to gain or keep. They are actual facts, not fantasies. Nothing is a value unless you actually MAKE it a value. This is true even if the only action you are presently able to take is to make plans for your future behavior. A value without action is an empty value. If you believe that you can have a value without there being an action involved, then you have been effectively deprived of that value. Values are rooted in the fact that living things must act to maintain their survival. Human values are a species of fact derived from man's needs as a living organism of a specific nature. They are objective because they rest upon and follow from certain facts about our existence: that we face an alternative of life or death; that we have specific needs and capacities; that our survival depends on the actions by which we exercise those capacities in order to meet those needs. Thus for a living organism, certain facts necessarily have value significance, and action significance. Rand: "In answer to those philosophers who claim that no relation can be established between ultimate ends or values and the facts of reality, let me stress that the fact that living entities exist and function necessitates the existence of values and of an ultimate value which for any given living entity is its own life. Thus the validation of value judgments is to be achieved by reference to the facts of reality. The fact that a living entity IS, determines what it OUGHT to do." Reality confronts man with a great many "musts", but all of them are conditional to the achievement of ends. The formula of realistic necessity is: "You must ACT if you want to achieve a desired effect." All values and moral virtues are necessitated by the law of causality. A moral code is a means to an end; it identifies the causes we must enact if we are to attain a desired effect. This is why ideas have consequences. We need standards for deciding what values to pursue, and what kinds of actions will achieve them. Thus man has an inescapable need for principles. "Value" is sometimes used ambiguously to mean alternatively "that which promotes life," or "that which one acts to gain and/or keep." For the Objectivist, there is little difference between these two senses, since the Objectivist acts to gain and keep that which in fact promotes his life. The concept of value is inextricably linked to the concept of life. The two concepts cannot be separated on a practical level. Each requires the other. Just as value presupposes a living valuer--"of value to whom and for what"--so life requires values, for without values the process of life is impossible: a man dies if he does not achieve values. Value presupposes a valuer, and some purpose. It is only in relation to some valuer and purpose that something can be said to have value. Things are not valuable because of human whim, nor are they


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 18 valuable in themselves apart from the human context; things are valuable because of their relationship to the existence of human beings. The value of life preceeds the value of happiness. If you're not alive, you can't be either happy or unhappy. Therefore, life is a prerequisite to happiness, and must be held as a value primary to the value of happiness. Rand argued that we must always know what we like and why we like it. This is in the interest of our own existence. It follows that we need to know what we hate and why we hate it. I must know my values, and why I hold them; I have not merely the need to do, but the need to know WHAT I do, lest in my blind efforts to live I should be slaying myself. I must also know my disvalues, and why they are disvalues, lest in my ignorance I fail to protect myself from being destroyed. Keep in mind that the term "subjective value" has a specialized meaning in the field of economics. There, "subjective value" means merely "that which is of value to a subject," that is, to an acting human. The economic function of the term "subjective value" is to emphasize the fact that things don't have value in and of themselves apart from the value placed on those things by human beings. Another important aspect of values is that they are idiosyncratic. The libertarian ethic recognizes that within the ethical context of freedom, there can be an infinite number of different personal, individual expressions of free behavior. Thus each individual has the right to choose which are his own personal values, and that each has the right to prioritize his own set of values. Since each other person is an autonomous, self-sovereign individual, you ought not expect him to have a value hierarchy identical to yours, and thus don't expect him to behave in the same way you would in similar circumstances. To have a "Value Gestalt" is to have made the sum total of one's values, goals and life actions integrated into a directed whole. Ideally, one should make the ENTIRETY of one's existence a value.

* The Antagonism Between Philosophy and Science Scientists are very devoted to the scientific method, and they find that the scientific method can be applied most successfully in the world that can be observed. Not the world of moral values or the world of philosophical thought, but in the laboratory where ideas can be tested. They regard science as the only really genuine form of knowledge. This leaves them with an empty spot in their lives. They're not practiced in applying logic and reason to questions of value or philosophy, so they frequently move this area of thought over to the realm of faith. Their very devotion to the world of fact leaves them hungry for some sort of clear guidance as to their conduct in the remainder of their lives. Scientists stay so long in the educational process, become so involved in their chosen, often quite narrow, specialties, that they come to the realities of everyday life much later than other people. Indeed, many scientists never come to grips with those realities at all. On the other hand, philosophers spend their entire lives dealing with a world of imaginings, conjectures, and fantasies, NOT with the physical facts of reality--at least not beyond the faucet in the sink and the light switch on the wall. They look with disdain upon the world of the physicist and the engineer as being one of "crass materialism"--beneath the dignity of their lofty intellectual position and not worthy of any serious consideration. The result is that their ideas are usually entirely separated from reality and produce a distortion when applied to the real physical world. Consider Immanuel Kant, for example. He went to school, then he was a tutor, then he was a professor at university for the rest of his life. As far as I know he never even did so much real-world engineering as to draw a bucket of water up out of a well. Thus whereas Thales (who was a bridge-builder) gave us Aristotle, John Locke, and the United States of America--Kant (who was a pure philosopher) gave us Fichte and Nazi Germany, Karl Marx and the Soviet Union. But I cannot place all the blame on the shoulders of the philosophers. After all, the philosopher does only half the job--he just conceives the ideas. It is the scientist who creates the means of implementing those ideas. Both men are equally responsible for the effects of their joint product. Just as the philosophers are guilty of not knowing science--and thereby of failing to test their ideas against reality, so the scientists are guilty of ignoring philosophy--and thereby failing to understand the principles underlying their actions.

* How Scientists Can Build Bombs


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 19 Interviewer: "You must feel good, working for peace like that." [on the Manhattan Project] Richard Feynman: "No, that never enters my head, whether it is for peace or otherwise. We don't know. You see, what happened to me--what happened to the rest of us--is we STARTED for a good reason, then you're working very hard to accomplish something and it's a pleasure, it's excitement. And you stop thinking [about principles], you know; you just STOP." Another participant in the Manhattan Project: We were in the thick of the fray. We were filled with the passion and fervor of discovery. Nothing frightened us. Questions of ethics or responsibility were far from our minds. The only question that mattered was: "How?" Another scientist, at age 89, had a similar realization: "People should be taught when they are young that they HAVE to consider the value of the experiment before they start in on it. It is absolutely not enough to be interested. But you get so carried away with interest that you lose all sense of proportion." "Scientists are mercenaries without ties to any one society. Give a scientist a fascinating problem and all the money, equipment, and help that he or she needs to tackle that problem, and that scientist wouldn't care who the source of support was." ... Isaac Asimov But is there really any justification for singling out the scientists? An ordinary housewife, when questioned about her new job assembling the fuzing devices used to activate nerve-gas bombs, remarked: "This is a really neat job! The hours are good, the work is easy and the pay is just fine." Enrico Fermi was a hero-figure to many scientists. He designed and supervised the first nuclear reaction in the history of the world--in the squash court at the University of Chicago. He was dapper. Jaunty. He even had a sense of humor! Then he built the first nuclear bombs and started this whole nuclear misery. You expect him to look and act like Mephistopheles, but here was a marvelous little guy making jokes, while doing everything better than everyone else. I wanted to be like him, but I couldn't. I didn't have whatever it takes for a man to enjoy himself while perfecting these weapons. When I first heard a Nazi scientist tell of his work on weapons, I wondered if it were possible to be so completely divorced from the consequences of one's work. It seemed to me that no matter how subtle the problem a given weapon presented or how challenging its contemplation might be, the ashes and the bones resulting from government's use of that weapon would, in the end, be the same. Was it his responsibility that the rockets he helped design had fallen on London, killing helpless civilians? He claimed it was not, that he had never been legally accused, that in fact the Americans were glad to whisk him away to work for them before the Russians could get hold of him. He had been happy to come, and never regretted it. In this rich country the stories about postwar conditions in Germany had seemed very unreal. As had the War Crimes trials. People had followed orders--yet they appeared to have committed crimes. This troubled his orderly mind and, in the end, he had stopped reading about it and even thinking about it. But not all scientists manifest this absence of ethical responsibility in an implicit "non-thinking" manner; for some the renunciation is quite thoughtfully explicit: "[Scientists] believe that they are not obligated to judge whether they are being asked to work on the best research problem, but only whether they are being asked to do valid research. They believe that it is the responsibility of those who provide the funds to establish the directions of research. These typical scientists act according to their own beliefs and thus they have integrity. The process of producing new, valid knowledge in any area is very difficult and is typically all-consuming for those who undertake it. Those who work hard and well to this end will have little time, or intellectual firepower, to spare for issues that are beyond their area of focus. The division of labor requires that they depend upon others to evaluate the importance and broad implications of the new knowledge they produce." Those words came from R. Paul Drake, Director of the Plasma Physics Research Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. One might well wonder if their abdication extends outside the laboratory to their ordinary daily behavior. Do they consider themselves responsible for the safe operation of their automobiles? For exercising due care when target shooting with their rifles? Or are these things, as is the morality of their professional conduct, considered to be "beyond their area of focus"? Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 20

That's not my department, said Wernher von Braun. Scientists are people with superb intelligence, intense focus, keen logic, limited emotions, and no ethics. John Galt described these people: "The guiltiest among you are the men who HAVE the capacity to know, yet choose to blank out reality, the men who are willing to sell their intelligence into cynical servitude to force... who reserve their logic for inanimate matter, but believe that the subject of dealing with men requires and deserves no rationality... who sell their souls in exchange for a laboratory supplied by loot.... they deliver their science to the service of death, to the only practical purpose it can ever have for looters: to inventing weapons of coercion and destruction."

* The Connection Between Philosophy and Science Since the time of Aristotle, the scientist has known how to apply reason to the realm of inanimate objects (and to living objects which have no volition), and since the time of Galileo the scientist has known how to verify those applications of reason. But the scientist has never had the fundamental principle (an explication of the basic connection between "is" and "ought") necessary to apply reason to those areas of behavior that rest on volitional choice. This is what the Objectivist ethics provides. Thus Objectivism is the only philosophical frame of reference which can provide a rational comprehension of such realms as psychology, morality, ethics, economics, and sociology--of all those areas of study which consider chosen values rather than physical facts. The primary obstacle in developing any ethical philosophy is the lack of a starting point. The scientist sees a set of "ought" terms: good, well, right, proper, virtue, should, bad, wrong, etc.--each of which can evidently be defined in terms of the others, but none of which has an independent, non-relative existence. Rand's genius was to identify the connection between the "is" of reality and the "ought" of volitional judgment. In an attempt to link science and philosophy, a reasonable question to ask is "Where can we find a starting point--a foundation stone of certitude as the ultimate basis of human knowledge? A place where we can stand in unquestionable certainty and from whence we can build a structure of sure knowledge?" For the scientist this is no problem--he starts by looking at the objects around him--the things that are observed by his senses. His contemplations eventually lead him to the fundamental notion that entities do indeed exist autonomously; they can neither be created nor destroyed. This (the First Law of Thermodynamics) is the starting place of the scientist. But is there something that is fundamental even to this notion of the scientist? Yes, there is, and we can approach it through such questions as "What is the fundamental nature of all the things that exist?" "What laws or principles underly all things--and all the behavior of all the things?" There is an answer to these questions. It was given to us by Aristotle, and it is the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity is one of the fundamental, axiomatic concepts identified by Aristotle. In his Metaphysics, Book 4, Part 3, he observes: "...for these truths hold good for everything that is.... And all men use them, because they are true of being qua being.... For a principle which everyone must have who understands anything that is, is not a hypothesis.... Evidently then such a principle is the most certain of all; which principle this is, let us proceed to say. It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject in the same respect." Stated as a tautology: A is A. A thing (ANY thing and EVERY thing) is what it is. This idea is the foundation stone of all human knowledge. It serves to tie human consciousness to the facts of reality. That it is indeed fundamental can be seen when you observe that it cannot be escaped, that it is implicit in all knowledge, and that it has to be accepted and used even in any attempt to deny it. For example, suppose you say "The Law of Identity is invalid." Observe that you have made a specific statement and that it has a specific meaning. (Even within your own mind, you do NOT intend it to have the opposite meaning!) Therefore your statement is what it is--it complies with the Law of Identity--in spite of its own contention to the contrary. This is a situation which you cannot escape, no matter how cleverly you might attempt to rephrase your contention. The Law of Identity always prevails, in everything that you think, that you say, and that you do. It is truly fundamental. It is, as Aristotle said, "the most certain of all"--it is


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 21 the foundation of certainty. The Law of Identity is a foundation of objectivity. Any scientist who probes beneath the First Law of Thermodynamics will soon encounter the Law of Identity, and there he will find the doorway into the philosophy of Objectivism. That doorway is the link between science and philosophy. When you find, in the Objectivist Ethics, the TANSTAAFL principle (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch): the idea that "You can't get something for nothing, unless someone, somewhere, sometime, is getting nothing for something", you see the direct link between Ethics and the First Law of Thermodynamics. The same physical law, applied to the field of Politics, leads to the realization that no matter how the government enhances the choices of some people, it can do so only by diminishing the choices of other people. Objectivism is the only philosophy that is completely consistent with Physics. Indeed, Physics is a subset of Objectivism, for the fundamental principles of Physics (the Laws of Thermodynamics) are themselves founded upon the Axiomatic Concepts identified by the Objectivist Epistemology. Objectivism starts with fundamentals and builds knowledge on a solid foundation, from the ground up. Adherents of many modern philosophical perspectives hate this very approach, and reject the need for "foundations" of any kind. They point out that philosophers have been trying to establish foundations for centuries but cannot agree on anything. Therefore, they argue, what's the use? And so THEY start in midair, with contentions that allegedly are agreed upon, but which in fact are controversial, derivative, and even arbitrary. The result is usually a ramshackle mess which presupposes an enormous amount that is never discussed, leads nowhere, and solves nothing. What Objectivism has is a consistent, comprehensive philosophical framework from which to ask questions about reality, and a consistent, comprehensive scientific framework in which to seek answers to those questions. Only this scenario can lead to a useful understanding of reality. Philosophers have had a great deal of difficulty with the problem of what constitutes truth and how to recognize whether something is true or not. But this is a difficulty that philosophers have no business trying to impose on other fields. In other words, the fact that philosophers are still debating the nature of truth should have no more effect on the practice of science than the fact that the average business person is ignorant of the details of accountancy should have on the day-to-day behavior of a CPA. The proper attitude of the scientists (and of Objectivists) should be: "We will be limited in our work strictly by the problems WE can't solve, not by the problems YOU can't solve."

* The Scientific Attitude of Mind Science is not a body of knowledge but a way of thinking, a process, a method. The body of knowledge is what results from that process. And a Scientist is not necessarily someone who has a PhD in physics, but is anyone who practices that way of thinking. It is characterized primarily by being reality-oriented and flexible. A scientist assumes, as Einstein put it, that "Out yonder there is this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking." This is the fundamental premise of science. The other primary element of scientific thought--flexibility--is the ability and willingness to alter one's ideas so as to bring them into correspondence with that "independently existing world." Nature does not necessarily comply with the parameters established by human conjecture, and when she does not, we must accept the necessity of modifying the conjecture.

* Some History of Science Thales made the extraordinary assumption that the world is a thing whose workings the human mind CAN understand. This led subsequent Greeks to conclude that the material world is fully real, and to begin to treat nature as an object for careful consideration. It is no accident that many of the early Greek philosophers were practicing engineers, architects, bridge-builders, harbor designers. They were men whose minds were intimately tied directly to the facts of reality, and that's why so many of their philosophical ideas are so profound. Over the course of several centuries, the Greeks progressed from mystical tribesmen inhabiting a chaotic universe they believed was god-driven, to rational individuals in control both of themselves and of a comprehensible world. These were the men who, starting with nothing, created the philosophic


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 22 foundations for all subsequent civilization. In the seventeenth century, there arose a mode of scientific procedure usually associated with the names of Galileo and Francis Bacon. It was based upon observation, reason, and experiment. Galileo's work established the priority of experiment over deductive science (which itself had been a great advance over the use of myth and religion to explain natural phenomena). Furthermore, Galileo's conclusions could not be ignored as a mere intellectual oddity, for they had to be used in the practical business of pointing cannons at the correct angle to compensate for the fall of cannonballs in flight. It has sometimes been maintained that Galileo's greatest contribution was his method of thinking about the physical universe. Unfortunately the great majority of philosophers were (and remain) unable to understand his method. They still possess the deductive habit of reasoning from what SEEM to be valid basic assumptions, but rarely believe it necessary to check their conclusions against the real universe. By insisting on the experimental verification of scientific conjectures, Galileo and his successors established a general test of scientific truth which enabled scientists specializing in widely different disciplines to accept and use each other's results. The shared method created an organized scientific community, with a division of labor among scientists in various specialized fields, all contributing to the accumulation of a demonstrably valid body of knowledge. By the close of the seventeenth century, the scale of Europe's scientific effort was already overwhelmingly greater than that of any contemporary or earlier culture, and so too was the European civilization's progress in understanding natural phenomena. We are so much accustomed to think of organizations solely in terms of hierarchical bureaucracies like armies, governments, or corporations that it is difficult to realize that an enterprise so individualistic and non-hierarchical as modern science can properly be said to be highly organized. But such a narrow impression of organization must be dismissed as misleading on the basis of the history of science. Without a formal hierarchy, Western scientists created a scientific community within which they pursued shared goals of understanding natural phenomena with dedication, cooperation, collective conflict resolution, division of labor, specialization, and information generation and exchange at a level of organizational efficiency rarely matched among large groups, hierarchical or non-hierarchical. Western science had another advantage also: it arose at a time when political and religious authorities lacked the power to suppress new ideas incompatible with conventional beliefs, though they often tried to.

* Science vs. Magic Every day we take for granted things that people 500 years ago dreamed about, but could only think of in terms of magic. We can fly through the air, stare into magic mirrors and watch things going on in other places, even talk to people all over the world. We made all those things happen, but we've used methods of doing so that people from way back could never have imagined--because they had no comprehension of the natural principles underlying these phenomena. Once you understand the principles involved, what remains is merely a question of engineering. They imagined flying but had to talk about levitation, because they couldn't see in advance the kind of engineering needed to make the idea work. Arthur Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." If you learn what this world is, how it works, you automatically start getting magic--what will be called miracles. But of course nothing is magical or miraculous. Learn what the magician knows and it's not magic anymore. But it does no good to try to explain something as being a product of science rather than magic, in speaking to people who have no idea what is meant by "science" and who have a culturally-induced antipathy to rational thinking. They lack the basic conceptual machinery that makes any rational account of an objective world possible. They don't seem to share the ordinary, commonsense notions of causality and consistency that are necessary to even begin understanding the universe. They don't grasp that the same causes always produce the same results. They don't see anything natural about predictability at all. They act as if it were mysterious. Machines--especially computers--baffle them. They talk instead about magic and mysticism. They rely on some intuitive process that supposedly dwells deep below rational thought. This is not necessarily the fault of the ignorant people. Although there is a vast untapped popular interest in the deepest scientific questions, for many people the shoddily thought out doctrines of borderline science are the closest approximation to comprehensible science readily available to them. The popularity of pseudoscience should be a rebuke to the schools, the press and commercial television for their sparse, unimaginative and ineffective efforts at science education. This unfortunate situation is


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 23 compounded by the popular media's obsession with controversy and sensationalism. In its rush to expose "dangers" to the public health and well-being, the distortions and outright falsehoods it presents as "science" serve only to corrupt what little factual knowledge the public does possess. To top it off, we are beset by the quantum mystics, whose dim comprehension of physics, and abysmal ignorance of philosophy do not in any way inhibit their subjectivist metaphysical pronouncements. (In fact, the ideas of quantum mechanics do not contain any reasons whatsoever for giving up the concept of a reality that is independent of the mind.) Amid the utter darkness of mysticism, scientific reason is a candle lighting the way to sense. Science is an attempt to understand the world, to get a grip on things, to get hold of ourselves, to steer a safe course. In contrast to mysticism, the scientific method has been outstandingly successful: microbiology and meteorology now explain what only a few centuries ago was considered sufficient cause to burn women to death. In every country we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. This is all that stands between us and the barbaric darkness of mysticism. Goethe: "Nature understands no jesting; she is always true, always serious, always severe; she is always right, and the errors and faults are always those of man. The man incapable of appreciating her she despises and only to the apt, the pure, and the true, does she resign herself and reveal her secrets." T.H. Huxley: "Suppose it were perfectly certain that the life and fortune of every one of us would, one day or other, depend upon his winning or losing a game at chess. Don't you think that we should all consider it to be a primary duty to learn at least the names and the moves of the pieces; to have a notion of a gambit, and a keen eye for all the means of giving and getting out of check? Yet it is a very plain and elementary truth, that the life, the fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, and, more or less, of those who are connected with us, do depend upon our knowing something of the rules of a game infinitely more difficult and complicated than chess. It is a game which has been played for untold ages, every man and woman of us being one of the two players in a game of his or her own. The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that sort of overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in strength. And one who plays ill is checkmated--without haste, but without remorse."

* Examples of the Scientific Attitude applied Nearly four centuries of experience since Galileo's time has shown that it is frequently useful to depart from the real and to construct a model of the system being studied. Some of the complications are stripped away, so a simple and generalized conceptual structure can be built up on what is left. Once that is done, the complicating factors can be restored one by one, and the model suitably modified. To try to achieve the complexities of reality at one bound, without working through a simplified model first, is so difficult that it is rarely attempted, and usually does not succeed when it is. Newton started with a mathematical construct of the solar system that represented nature simplified: a point mass moving around a center of force. Because he did not assume that the construct was an exact representation of the physical world he was free to explore the properties and effects of a mathematical attractive force even though he found the concept of a grasping force "acting at a distance" to be abhorrent and not admissable in the realm of good physics. Next he compared the consequences of his mathematical construct with the observed principles and laws of the external world, such as Kepler's law of areas and law of elliptical orbits. Where the mathematical construct fell short Newton modified it. He made the center of force not a mathematical entity but a point mass. From the modified mathematical construct Newton concluded that a set of point masses circling a central point mass attract one another and perturb one another's orbits. Again he compared the construct with the physical world. Of all the planets, Jupiter and Saturn are the most massive, and so he sought orbital perturbations in their motions. With the help of John Flamsteed, Newton found that the orbital motion of Saturn is perturbed when the two planets are closest together. The process of repeatedly comparing the mathematical construct with reality and then suitably modifying it led eventually to the treatment of the planets as physical bodies with definite shapes and sizes. After Newton had modified the construct many times he applied it to the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 24 entirety of nature, asserting that the force of attraction, which he had derived mathematically, is universal gravity. Since the mathematical force of attraction works well in explaining and predicting the observed phenomena of the world, Newton decided that the force must "truly exist" even though the philosophy to which he adhered did not and could not allow such a force to be part of a system of nature. And so he called for an inquiry into how the effects of universal gravity might arise. In 1830, the Swedish chemist Jakob Berzelius, who didn't believe that molecules with equal structures but different properties were possible, examined both tartaric acid and racemic acid in detail. With considerable chagrin, he decided that even though he didn't believe it, it was nevertheless so. It was generally believed that radio waves, like any other form of electromagnetic radiation, ought to travel in straight lines only, and therefore, like light, should be able to penetrate no farther than the horizon. Marconi noted, however, that radio waves seemed to follow the curve of the earth. He had no explanation for this, but he did not hesitate to make use of the fact. On December 12, 1901, he succeeded in sending a radio wave signal from England, around the bulge of the earth, to Newfoundland. Charles Darwin: "In October 1838, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic enquiry (into the mutability of species), I happened to read 'Malthus on Population,' and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species. Here then I had at last got a theory by which to work."

* Some Critiques of Science Critic: "There is no poetry in science." Isaac Asimov: "Not all the soaring genius of Shakespeare sufficed to lift him to such empyrean heights as to reveal to him the vision of the universe that bursts in upon the dullest scientist who now lives. In every branch of science fascinations lurk, ready to burst out upon even the most plodding soul. Peeping from behind the symbols of the mathematician are formulas, such as the Mandelbrot Set, so beautiful in their subtle symmetry that no artist could improve on them. Where can one come across forms of things not only so thoroughly unknown but so majestically unknowable as in the quantum world within the atom? All the dictates of "common sense"--based upon the ordinary world about us--break down in the face of the ultimately tiny. Imagine the poetry of a science that calmly abandons common sense in order to preserve sense; a science that admits into its fold an ineluctable uncertainty in order to be more nearly certain. What mysteries, what clanking chains, what dim ghosts of Gothic romance can compare with the mysterious muon-neutrino? There is poetry everywhere and in everything, and it is most clearly present in the world that scientists dwell in." "I question the accuracy and validity of the Scientific Method--Science is young and clumsy--still too gross to truly measure some things." Let us examine the accuracy, validity, and gross clumsiness of science by taking a look at just a few of its actual accomplishments. To begin with, here is a measure of the accuracy between a theoretical prediction and its corresponding experimental measurement: Experiments measure the electron's magnetic moment at 1.00115965221. The theory of Quantum Electrodynamics puts it at 1.00115965246. To give you a feeling for the accuracy of these numbers, consider them this way: If you were to measure the distance from Los Angeles to New York to this accuracy, it would be exact to the thickness of a human hair. I believe we can conclude that the theory is reasonably close to reality. As for the validity of scientific hypotheses--surely the most outrageously unbelievable hypothesis of modern physics is the Quantum Mechanics, and yet a clever application of the uncertainty principle (which places a limit on the precision with which position can be known) yields very fine-tuned control over a type of electron flow known as quantum tunneling. The resulting device (the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, manufactured by Digital Instruments, Inc.) uses the quantum tunneling effect both to view, and to perform mechanical operations on, very tiny objects, right down to the level of individual atoms. At the IBM Zurich lab, researchers used a Scanning Tunneling Microscope to cleave a single benzene ring off of a dimethyl phthalate molecule. In its practical application (where the validity of the Quantum Mechanics can be measured by its


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 25 commercial utility), an STM is used to monitor the production quality of an optical-disk stamping machine. And as for gross clumsiness, these three examples should suffice to dispel that erroneous view: The optical telescope on Palomar Mountain can detect a 10-watt light bulb on the moon. This telescope could also measure the width of a needle--at a distance of 5 miles. The best infrared telescopes could record the heat from a rabbit on the moon--were it alive and hopping. Using very long baseline interferometry, maser images can be made accurate to 300 microarc-seconds. Were the human eye to have this resolving power, you could read these words from about 3000 miles away. Workers at the National Bureau of Standards used a Paul electromagnetic trap to detect a single quantum jump of the outermost electron on a mercury ion from its ground state to an intermediate state. That's one single quantum jump of one single electron! Not quite the sort of thing you could reach in and fondle with your finger. Look again at the criticism--and consider the principle underlying it: She really should not "question the accuracy and validity of the Scientific Method" while she is writing with a ball-point pen on a sheet of paper, probably supported by the plastic surface of a desktop, and illuminated by an electric light bulb. You see what's happening--the author is using the very thing she denies, in the act of denying it. This is an excellent example of the Stolen Concept fallacy: she is using the thing while she is rejecting the thing. If you have difficulty grasping the Uncertainty Principle, consider this: It is easily possible to construct a square, having specified exactly the length of a side. When you have done so, you will find that you cannot measure the diagonal with exactness (because it is a function of the square root of 2). It is equally easy to construct a square having specified exactly the length of the diagonal. But in this case you will be just as unable to measure the exact length of the side. Thus we are in the position of being able to specify one or the other of two quantities--but not both simultaneously. This exercise in simple geometry is a good example of the Uncertainty Principle in action: the universe is built in such a fashion that we humans are not omniscient--we can't know everything. If you have difficulty with the notion of "mere chance being the instrument of creation" try this experiment: Take about a dozen teaspoons and drop them (randomly but with handles up) into a soda glass. Tilt the glass to about a 45 degree angle and shake it. You will see the spoons begin to nest together. This nesting is the inevitable consequence of energy dissipation--of the interplay of the laws of physics--as the spoons settle into a "least energy content" configuration. When you consider that the fundamental morsels of matter (atoms and molecules) are sets of identical objects (every water molecule, for example, is exactly identical to every other) just like the spoons--then it is not too hard to realize that they would fit together in certain ways. Just like the spoons. This fitting together--on a larger and larger scale--can account for many aspects of the world of living things we see around us. Always remember this: the words "chance" and "random" do not really describe the world of Reality. What they DO describe is the state of human knowledge. To be precise, they are terms that describe a state of human ignorance. When I say that an event happens by "mere chance" all I am really saying is that I do not precisely know what are the causal factors of that event. Personally, I would much rather admit to my own ignorance of the world than to invent, as an absolution for that ignorance, a Divinity to account for things I cannot yet explain. Heisenberg: "The laws of nature which we formulate mathematically in quantum theory deal no longer with the elementary particles themselves but with our knowledge of the particles." Bohr: "We can understand quantum mechanics if we realize that science is not describing how nature IS but rather expresses what we can SAY about nature." A commonly encountered criticism is "How can you believe in something--like an electron--which you can't possibly see?" No one has ever seen the inside of a brick. Every time you break the brick, you see only the surface. That the brick has an inside is a simple assumption which helps us understand things better. The theory of electrons is analogous. The ultimate justification for the ideas of science is that logical conclusions drawn from these ideas


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 26 have led to useful solutions to real-life problems. From science have flowed all those great inventions by means of which mankind in general is able to exist with more comfort and in greater numbers upon the face of the earth. Hence arise the great advantages of men above brutes, and of civilization above barbarity. The acre of ripe wheat that once took a dozen men and a dozen horses all day to cut and thresh is now gathered up in six minutes as the combine rolls, one person at the controls. How can science achieve fantastic things in the material world, and yet you suppose that what we are doing is arbitrary and has no absolute, unquestionable relationship to the facts of reality? How is it possible that what we do works, if it doesn't correspond to reality? Many scientists who are exposed to philosophy come away with the realization that if their work were to be attempted within the muddy, vague, and contradictory intellectual frame-of-reference of the philosophers, they would never achieve anything useful. So they simply abandon all philosophical considerations and confine their lives to the realm of clear, precise and meaningful scientific investigation. Thus it is that during the past 300 years the human race has gained an immense store of practical knowledge about the natural world while the philosophers are still struggling to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Steven Weinberg: "I know of NO ONE who has participated actively in the advance of physics in the post-war period whose research has been significantly helped by the work of philosophers." Physicist Max Tegmark: "To tell you the truth, I think most of my colleagues are terrified of talking to philosophers - like being caught coming out of a pornographic cinema." The philosophers talk vague nonsense. At times their terms are so loosely defined that what they say cannot help but be partly true. Unfortunately, the sort of language that is admired by many philosophers does not, in fact, mean anything at all. All too often, they use language not as a means of communication but as a way to establish and defend an academic reputation. But there is nothing surprising here. In the mind of a professional philosopher rhetoric is always more important than reality. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that in his mind rhetoric IS reality. It was difficult for Satan alone to mislead the whole world, so he appointed prominent philosophers in different localities.

* Why Objectivism is rejected Max Planck observed: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." A whole generation of adherents must frequently die off before an old theory can be replaced by a superior version. This is in part because humans invest so much self-esteem in their ideas (as opposed to their thinking process) that any challenge to the ideas assumes the threat of a personal attack on their ego. Objectivism, in revealing much of the nature of psychological reality, has also disclosed why many of its most important findings are still rejected: the ego of man sees that what the Objectivists have found--if analyzed and digested--would change ego itself. And man's greatest fear then rises to defend ego: the dread of any change in his personal identity. Even where the ego itself is not threatened, an unacceptable burden of self-responsibility is laid on the individual. It is easier to reject the philosophy than to bear the burden. Only those courageous enough to master these fears have been able to understand, and to benefit from, Objectivism. In a popular work of fiction, the story is often designed mainly to provide entertainment: the pleasure of observing the characters and events for their own sake, with no deeper significance intended. This is why popular fiction so often seems to satisfy what Rand describes as "the psycho-epistemological role of art" much better than many serious works that may give us great insights but little entertainment. And this is why Rand's own fiction is so frequently classified as merely popular fiction, since her works, like popular works, offer exciting stories that involve the reader emotionally and imaginatively in the story world. But this does not mean that her works should be dismissed as superficial fiction, or that they should be read solely for pleasure. Rand is frequently reviled, not just because she was an egoist, an atheist, and a pro-capitalist, but because she did not present her ideas in a "scholarly" fashion. This is very unpalatable to most philosophers. They want someone who documents what she says, defends it, and deals with contrary positions. Their focus is not on physical reality but on statements made by other philosophers. Rand


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 27 pretty much dismissed other positions and proceeded directly to make her own identifications of reality. She was usually right to dismiss them, and the reasons she gave were usually correct, but to most scholars encountering her for the first time her dismissal is personally upsetting. Some find her style so offensive, in the sense of being non-scholarly, they refuse to read anything else she wrote. She did not play by the rules of their game. She did not deal with their arguments. She just brushed them aside and proceeded to make accurate identifications of fundamental truths--not merely responses to other people's dissertations. But this process by which Rand is rejected is merely part of a technique that has been used for centuries to advocate philosophical ideas that have no relation to reality. It works like this: The conclusion must be brazenly clear, but the proof must be shrouded in unintelligibility (this is the "scholarly fashion" of presentation mentioned above). The proof must be so tangled a mess that it will paralyze a reader's critical faculty. To provide a veneer of sophistication, the author may include many pages of abstruse technical notes, which generate an almost impenetrable aura of erudition. The students will believe that the professors know the proof, the professors will believe that the commentators know it, the commentators will believe that the author knows it--but the author is self-blinded to the fact that no proof exists and none was ever offered. Within a few generations, the number of commentaries will have grown to such proportions that the original work will be considered a subject of philosophical specialization requiring a lifetime of study--and any refutation of the author's theory will be ignored or rejected if unaccompanied by a full discussion of the theories of all the commentators, a task which no one will be able to undertake. This is the process by which Kant and Hegel acquired their dominance. Many professors of philosophy today have no idea of what Kant actually said. And no one has ever read Hegel, even though many have looked at every word on his every page. (As J.S. Mill remarked: "Conversancy with Hegel tends to deprave one's intellect.") This process is not necessarily a deliberate attempt to defraud people. It may be merely the inevitable consequence of how a certain kind of people handle ideas. As Branden observed, genuine self-esteem results from comparing oneself not with other people (or their opinions) but with the facts of reality. A person who lacks genuine self-esteem builds a pseudo self-esteem by comparing himself with other people. The most obvious example is the braggart who does NOT say "I can do it well," but says "I can do it better than YOU can!" When the braggart becomes a philosopher, his main intellectual focus is not on understanding, developing and expanding ideas which are the expressions of TRUTH--his main focus is on interacting, either positively or negatively, with statements made by OTHER PEOPLE (his own personal "significant others"). Rand is rejected because she did not fit into this category. Her focus was directed toward the identification of facts, not to the analysis of other people's opinions. Objectivism is not a philosophers' fantasy, but a real-world functional philosophy. This may be why so many philosophers ignore it, reject it out-of-hand, or insist on dealing with it in a nit-picking manner. Picking nits in each other's fantasies is what professional philosophers do for a living. They are merely playing word games. Objectivism is outside their intellectual frame-of-reference. People focused on facts will tend to enter fact-oriented fields and become scientists, engineers, technicians, or mechanics, depending on their level of intellectual power and their specific area of personal interest. People with a more social-metaphysical focus will tend to become philosophers, scholars, politicians, or journalists, in a similar manner. Of course there are people who buck this trend: Ayn Rand as a philosopher is an outstanding example. There are two significant critiques of Objectivist Ethics. One is based on the observation that creatures such as lemmings and the male mantis (who dies in the act of copulation) refute Rand's supposed claim that living creatures always act to preserve their lives, and therefore everything Rand based on this claim must also be false. But this critique ignores clear statements made by both Rand and Branden: Rand (in The Objectivist Ethics), "In situations for which its knowledge is inadequate, it perishes--as, for instance, an animal that stands paralyzed on the track of a railroad in the path of a speeding train." Branden (in The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Chapter 4), "If its range of awareness cannot cope with the conditions that confront the animal, it perishes." Keep in mind that the Objectivist Ethics is meant to be a guide to HUMAN behavior, not the behavior of other creatures. In establishing a moral code, what we must consider are human life and human choices. It is because man can make choices that are not available to the mantis, the lemming and other creatures that he requires a moral code. If the life of a human being were not something to which the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 28 consequences of his choices could ultimately make a difference, then there would be no need for, or even possibility of, moral principles. Because man is a creature whose life depends on his choices, not on chemical programming, he has an inescapable need for a guide to making choices. Rand began constructing a system of morality by observing the fact that creates the need for values. She let this fact be the foundation stone for a derivation of HUMAN morality. Therein lies the strength of her presentation. See Chapter 3 * To Survive or to Flourish for an analysis of the Objectivist views of "human life." See reference The other critique makes the contention that Rand's argument can equally well be used as the basis for a "human" morality founded on the desire for theft, mass murder and suicide. (I'm not really sure these people are serious. I suspect that for them philosophy is not something useful but is merely a game they play with words, having no practical relevance to their lives.) Just as there is a "lifeboat ethics" (See VOS Chapter 3), so there is a "suicide morality." A morality which places on equal footing both the choice to die and the choice to live. The fact that we are possessed of free will is a tool which can enable us to choose among different courses of action. It can enable us to choose life-enhancing actions or it can enable us to choose life-destroying actions. Some critics focus only on this destructive potential and reject the Objectivist Ethics on this basis, refusing to recognize its creative actuality. They are left with nothing, whereas Objectivists make good use of a valuable tool for living. Observe that critics of Objectivism do not provide any alternative principles of guidance. Indeed, if you examine their works, you will find that many explicitly eschew ANY principled foundation for the conduct of human affairs. Some even go so far as to assert that there is NO WAY to distinguish right from wrong. But you MUST have a guide for your actions, lest in your blind efforts to live you end up slaying yourself accidentally. And you must choose to strive for a successful life, else you will end up slaying yourself deliberately. Objectivism provides you with the means to make choices among actions that can result in a successful--or unsuccessful--life. But the choices are YOURS to make. Rand was correct: you can choose life and a morality based on life-enhancement, or you can choose the dim, dismal and negative alternative--in which case rational moral principles will be of no interest to you.

* Hallmarks of a Cult Another, misguided, reason why Objectivism is rejected is that some of its advocates manifest the cultist mentality. This is especially true of the libertarian political activists. Cultists are socially alienated people who huddle together in a collective, united by allegiance to a non-conventional religious, artistic, or intellectual movement based on dogma set forth by its promulgator, whom they adore as a "father figure." Observe that the ideas they espouse can be either true or false--they must only be non-conventional. (If the ideas ever become accepted by a wide enough audience, they will no longer be referred to as "cultist" but as "mainstream.") They believe that Armageddon is nigh--that profound, revolutionary, world-shaking changes are going to occur imminently. They believe that the road to Salvation lies only through their belief system, and are excruciatingly jealous, often reserving their worst invective, not for their real enemies, but for those with whom they essentially agree save for minor ideological coloration. They have a completely unrealistic expectation that their unknown and/or unpopular ideas will shortly triumph in society. Their fondest hope is their greatest delusion. They over-emphasize their significance and greatly over-exaggerate the effects of their activities, claiming that what they're doing has revolutionary importance for society. This mindset does not change over time. They are still saying today the same things about pending Armageddon and the imminent social acceptance of their ideas that they were saying generations ago. What happens to a cult over time? There are two alternatives: 1) It preserves its ideological purity, but to do so it must become rigidly dogmatic. But then perceptive people eventually become aware of its flaws and withdraw from participation. Thus the cult gradually becomes comprised solely of narrow-minded, inward-focused bigots. This is what has happened to the Randites. 2) It dilutes its ideological purity in the attempt to acquire more adherents. But then it eventually


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 29 becomes indistinguishable from other belief systems, and stops attracting new recruits. This is what has happened to the Libertarian Party--it has become merely another variant of political conservatism.

* The Commentator Syndrome The commentators I mentioned above usually have an encyclopedic familiarity with the writings of virtually everyone who has written critically about an idea. They at times show great skill in synthesizing passages scattered throughout a multitude of sources. But in spite of this, they may have little or no comprehension of the factual nature of the idea that was the original object of the commentary. They deal not with reality, but with other people's interpretations of it. They dream of achieving "definitive" texts and seek to determine which one of many versions of a manuscript is the most authentic. Quite often they are so bogged down with word apprehension that simple facts escape them. They focus on arbitrary academic distinctions and disputes, rather than on underlying principles. Without fundamental principles to refer to, the commentator is totally dependent on the words of previous scholars. Consequently, debate becomes increasingly attenuated into a series of false alternatives. The context of discussion becomes more and more nebulous, always requiring that everybody's thought be tacked onto some previous, established thought rather than attempting to refer to reality. Debate on a subject becomes lost in an argument over what so-and-so actually wrote, what he meant, how he has been interpreted, etc. Like a swamp that engulfs a myriad of streams, the commentators are tolerant, all-embracing, and stagnant. Richard Feynman: "They wrote commentaries on commentaries. They described what each other wrote about each other. They just kept writing these commentaries. Writing commentaries is some kind of disease of the intellect." From the introduction to an essay by Fred Seddon in a recent issue of a philosophical journal: "The purpose of this study is to examine Adolf Grunbaum's claim that F.S.C. Northrop's interpretation of Newton's concept of relative space is incorrect." You gotta go through Seddon to get to Grunbaum, go through Grunbaum to get to Northrop, and then go through Northrop to get to the concept of relative space. It would require a lifetime of study to dig through this mountain of commentary. Here is a complaint from a commentator (a well-known professor of philosophy), expressing his dissatisfaction with a discussion in which the participants were attempting to identify the nature of the concept "anarchism": "It is rather perplexing to see supposedly morally upright people embarking on sketchy discussions of the issue, ones in which no quotations are used, no careful reproductions of the arguments of their adversaries. Most of those who are critical of anarchism manage to omit reference to the actual statements of the arguments advanced by those they criticize. I have dealt with [other's] versions of anarchism, in ways that I think adhere to scholarly caution and precision--i.e., I have used their words to characterize their views and then examined these views with those words in mind. To just jump in there and state the views without reference to the words of those who advance them is, well, irresponsible." He was dissatisfied because of the lack of a detailed examination of the commentary. I was dissatisfied because of the lack of contemplation of fundamental truths.

* Objectivism in the Universities For thirty years now we've had Objectivists trying to get established in the universities. They've had very little success. Why? Not because they're stupid or incompetent, quite the contrary. The problem is that Objectivism, being a scientific rather than a scholarly approach to philosophy, can never gain real acceptance in academia unless it gives up the very essence of its approach. Philosophy is a "scholarly" subject, rather than scientific. There are competing schools of thought-Aristotelian, Plationist, Kantian, Positivist, etc.--and there is an implicit but inescapable relativism in the study of them: at any given time, although one particular school of thought may be in the ascendant, the idea is never considered that one view could be permanently accepted as being absolutely correct and unchallengeable. As one philosopher put it, "OF COURSE philosophical problems are unsolvable." If you look into the typical philosophy textbook, you'll find it stated as a truism that philosophy can never, never achieve the kind of certainty that science has. So, for Objectivism to triumph in the universities, we would have to do something far more difficult


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 30 than getting other philosophers to accept Objectivist ideas. We would have to get them to renounce the philosophical relativism that is fundamental to their scholarly culture. (See the * Newspeak section of Chapter 2 for some thoughts on a similar epistemological relativism.) That's why the whole approach of gaining credibility in the universities is futile. See reference But why should the best Objectivist thinkers focus on the existing universities, where our adversaries are most entrenched, most intolerant, and most secure? We should instead be building a whole new intellectual culture of our own, from the grass roots. The Objectivist university would be an institution in which there would be respect for the customers. The professor would cease to be an ivory-tower intellectual. He would be immediately responsive to the real-life practical needs of his students. A diversity of intellectual interests would be fostered, and these would reflect REAL needs, needs that people would be willing to finance for themselves, not whatever passing, subsidized, intellectual fad exists at the moment. (In any case, with modern computers it may not be long before the university, as a physical entity, becomes largely needless.) The academic opponents of Objectivism are more realistic than its advocates. They know quite well that in a rational, individualistic, morally judging, free-market culture they would not be able to dominate the universities. They would be out of a job, out of prestige, and out on their ass. Objectivism will win out, not by winning debates, but by filling the growing intellectual vacuum (both in and out of the university), by offering practical working solutions where no one else can. We'll know Objectivism has succeeded when, and only when, thinkers like Kant and Hegel are considered part, not of philosophy, but of the history of philosophy; just as the ideas of the alchemists are taught today only as history of chemistry, not as part of the science of chemistry.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 31

Chapter 2 THINKING * Tools of Thought * Language * Strength And Leverage * IQ As A Potential * Useful Thinking Techniques * Memory * Procedures for Carrying on a Discussion * Criticism * The Scientific Method * The Military Staff Study * Notes on the Significance of Intellectual Context * Faulty Thought Processes * Piagetian Operational Stages * The Use Of Emotions As Tools Of Cognition * Introspection * Orwell - Newspeak - Brainwashing - Prolefeed

* Tools of Thought A human being is the only creature with the ability to see the world as he wants it to be rather than as it actually is. It is this trait that makes it sometimes so difficult for him to recognize reality when he is confronted by it. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that his mind didn't come with an instruction manual. Most people believe that consciousness is some sort of indeterminate faculty which has no nature, no specific identity and, therefore, no requirements, no needs, no rules for being properly or improperly used. Such people subvert, starve and abuse their consciousness in a manner they would not dream of applying to their hair, stomach, or toenails. Even among those who realize that the mind has requirements, there are few who realize also that thinking is not an instinct. One of the most widespread myths is the belief that everyone "just knows" how to think and that no learning process is required. Assuming the knowledge of how to think to be self-evident, people take their own mental processes as necessarily valid; as not to be questioned or examined. People do not improve their thinking because it has not even occurred to them to consider the possibility of doing so. Thus the most important of human functions is left to blind chance--or worse, to subversive influences maliciously imposed upon them with the intent of corrupting their mental functioning. Nothing can be more infamous than intellectual tyranny; to put shackles on the mind is in some ways vastly worse than putting chains on the body. An example of such (self-inflicted) enslavement can be seen in people's willingness to lie, cheat, and fake reality without any concern for what this does to their own minds and their own lives. The man who lies chronically makes himself especially vulnerable to being deceived because he diminishes his capacity to discriminate truth from falsehood. If you tell yourself a lie often enough, you'll eventually convince yourself it's the truth. Then when you come up against difficulties and dangers, you won't believe in them and thus won't be able to take the proper precautions against them.

* Language "Man lives in a world of ideas. Any phenomenon is so complex that he cannot possibly grasp the whole of it. He abstracts certain characteristics of a given phenomenon as an idea, then represents that idea with a symbol, be it a word or a mathematical sign. Human reaction is almost entirely reaction to symbols. When we think, we let symbols operate on other symbols in certain, set fashions--rules of logic, or rules of mathematics. If the symbols have been abstracted so that they are structurally similar to the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 32 phenomena they stand for, and if the symbol operations are similar in structure and order to the operations of phenomena in the real world, we think sanely. If our logic-mathematics, or our wordsymbols, have been poorly chosen, we think not-sanely." ......Robert Heinlein. The "logic-mathematics" that Heinlein speaks of is NOT an instinctive bundle of knowledge! It is something that each individual must recognize and learn, lest he be left floundering in a mire of intellectual chaos. Our minds contain the world in symbolic form. The explicit awareness of the nature of those symbols gives us the power to shape the world to the achievement of our goals. All that is necessary for language to become corrupt is that those who use it lose (or fail to acquire) objectivity. More primitive generations of mankind had objectivity forced upon them by the exigencies of their life: the hard facts of reality would kill them if they failed for a moment to recognize and accomodate those facts. Modern man, however, is greatly sheltered by the nature of his technological civilization and the structure of his society. These things provide him with the opportunity to live as a parasite upon other men, thus minimizing his necessity for dealing directly with the facts of reality. Consider, for example, President Clinton's description of his 1994 tax law as a "bill of rights." He does not have the ability to discriminate between a politically expeditious label (after all, who could be opposed to such a sacrosanct American tradition as our great "Bill of Rights"?) and the actual nature of "rights." He lacks objectivity. Thus, he may be perfectly sincere and totally honest in naming his tax law, but nevertheless his cognitive deficiency results in the semantic corruption of the concept of rights. Much of such corruption, associated with Newspeak, is the inevitable consequence of a mere lack of objectivity. The world has long observed that small acts of immorality, if repeated, will destroy character. It is equally manifest, though rarely said, that uttering nonsense and half-truth without cease ends by destroying intellect. Just as a currency, through the process of becoming more and more inflated, has less and less purchasing power, so words, through an analogous process of concept inflation, through being used more and more indiscriminately, are progressively emptied of meaning. For people who write advertisements, language no longer has any cognitive meaning at all. They use words simply as tools to manipulate other people's economic behavior. For example, developers that used to sell houses now sell "homes." Even the word "townhouse," a relatively common term a few years ago, is falling aside, being replaced by the supposedly more sumptuous sounding "townhome." There used to be a good, clear, cognitive distinction between a house and a home. Now, that difference has been altered past the point of meaning. With thousands of "homes" springing up all over the country, how can we possibly still attach sentimental meaning to places that we can REALLY call home? This phenomenon severely restricts attempts to deal with derivative concepts also. Consider "homelessness," for example. Attempts to combat homelessness are almost exclusively directed toward putting the homeless people back into dwellings. But this is a superficial approach to the real problem, for houselessness is only one aspect of homelessness. "Home" implies basic shelter, but it also entails connection to a community, including friends, family, businesses, organizations that share common values and beliefs, such as clubs and churches, as well as caretaking institutions. Having your own home means much more than just having a dwelling. It's your own special corner of the world. It's the place that warmly welcomes you at the end of a hard day's work. It's where your kids learn to crawl, walk, and run. It's not just a place in which to live your life, it's a cherished part of your life. You can buy or be given a house, but you can't buy a home. You can only make a home. Homelessness marks not merely a loss of residence but also a rupture of community and family ties and spiritual existence. The mere fact that you dwell in a house does not entail that you are living in a home. "The slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." ......George Orwell. There is perhaps no better analysis and critique of the corruption of language than that given by Orwell in his book, "1984." Orwell contends that political language has been corrupted by insincerity and that the debasement is aided by honest writers who adopt the corrupted language by default. Many words have become almost meaningless, and to use them without defining in what sense they are being used is, at best, to foist that corruption upon the reader; at worst it is to commit outright fraud. Corruption of language blunts the edge of critical thought in favor of timid orthodoxy, a process necessary to both totalitarian ideology and religious dogma. To control language is to control people's thoughts--and ultimately to control the people themselves. The very fabric of our existence rests upon a self-awareness which is built out of language. With corruption of your language comes an inability to


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 33 know yourself, or even to HAVE a self. Without semantic competence, you have no means of identifying the essence of either your own ideas or opposing ideas. Integrity becomes dubious at best, self-contradiction becomes easily possible, and rational persuasion becomes meaningless. Besides engendering intellectual chaos, incompetence in language creates a social caste system. Those who can construct well-formed sentences can think clearly and therefore be more independent; those who cannot are more ignorant, less productive and more easily intimidated and manipulated. Those who don't (or can't) think for themselves become the slaves of those who do. The greatest weapon of exploitation, manipulation, and oppression is the misuse of language. It is only by being aware of the function of language as a tool of social, economic, and political control that we can begin to fight those who use language against us. Words denote concepts--and concepts must be used in specific ways if they are to serve as tools of knowledge. Grammar consists of the methods of combining concepts into coherent groups. We are able to recognize, remember and manipulate concepts only if their arrangements are coherent--only if the sentences we use are grammatical. We are able to follow a lengthy symbolic presentation because we use words first, then words organized into clauses, then sentences, and then paragraphs. We have to focus gradually and in installments, especially when a very complex issue is being considered. There may be a dozen concepts in a sentence, and if you just strung them out at random you couldn't hold them all in your mind at once. But if several of them are integrated into each clause, and the clauses are integrated into one proposition, then, and only then, can you hold all the dozen in your mind.

* Strength And Leverage I see two major aspects to intellectual competence: one is intelligence (that which is supposedly measured by an IQ test) and the other is the tools and procedures by which that intelligence is applied. I call these aspects Strength and Leverage. Strength pertains to the innate competence that is genetically built-in to the nervous system. Is this alterable? Is it enhanceable? Is it even measureable? I doubt it, but I do not know for sure. My only real knowledge of this attribute is a relative one--I can see that I possess a greater ability to perceive, identify and integrate the facts of reality than some other people do (and, of course, that some other people possess a greater such ability than I do). When I make comparisons between myself and others I observe introspectively that there is a difference in fundamental understanding--a difference which, as far as I can tell, does not depend on the use of any acquired intellectual tools. I can identify that "fundamental understanding" only in a very subjective sense. I cannot make a specific statement explicitly defining it or describing how it works. Leverage is quite a different thing. It consists of the intellectual techniques by which Strength is applied to achieve an understanding of the world. Language is by far the first and most fundamental element of Leverage, followed closely by Mathematics. Some other important elements are the Laws of Logic given us by Aristotle, the Scientific Method, the procedures of the Military Staff Study, and the principles of the philosophy of Objectivism. The first and foremost benefit of the application of these tools to your life is that it puts you into close cognitive contact with reality. If the primary function of intelligence is to understand reality, then an intellectual tool which puts you in contact with reality enhances your life, and thus is a major benefit to you. Those folks who find everyday experience a muddled jumble of events with no regularity and no predictability are in grave peril. The universe belongs to those who, at least to some degree, have figured it out. If eighty percent of what someone thinks is confused or nonsense, then he is only making use of 20% of his potential. Just because his brain cells are firing actively doesn't mean he is thinking as clearly or as efficiently as he could be. If you use all of the memory of a computer for running a useless program, then what percentage of it are you really using? Most of the elements of Leverage constitute a particular subset of acquired knowledge: epistemological knowledge, knowledge of "how to think." It is clear that in regard to Leverage there is a great potential for enhancement of one's intellectual functioning, and, to the contrary, lack of Leverage or use of mistaken Leverage can seriously inhibit or even destructively interfere with this functioning. I believe strongly that the level of one's manifested intellectual competence can indeed be raised. It is clear to me that the best way, (and, perhaps, the only way?) to go about this is to improve one's Leverage.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 34

* IQ As A Potential As you know, there are aptitude tests for many fields of endeavor. They are tests designed to determine whether or not (or to what extent) you have a potential ability for a given activity. They can tell you if you have an aptitude for Mechanics, Mathematics, Gymnastics, Music, Chemistry, Cooking, or just about any other occupation you might care to consider. I submit that an IQ test is nothing more or less than an aptitude test for "Thinking." I would like to draw an analogy between Intellectuality and Music, in order to shed some light on just what the significance of IQ is. Consider that in the realm of music there are two things necessary to the formation of a musician. The first is, of course, an aptitude for this field of endeavor--what we might call an "M.Q." or musicality quotient--representing your potential ability to engage successfully in this activity. And the second is the means by which this potential is actualized. Having the highest MQ in the world will not automatically result in your being a good musician. To become one, you must undertake a lengthy period of study and diligent practice in order to master the procedures involved in transforming your potential into an actuality. No one will dispute this in regard to music, but how many realize that the same principle applies to intellectuality? You have to LEARN how to think, in just the same way that you have to learn how to make music. And when I say "learn how to think" I don't mean just "get educated." I don't mean just go to school and acquire a multitude of facts in a large number of fields of study. One would not become a musician merely by acquiring wide erudition in the fields of, say, Geology, Anthropology, Economics or Political Science. No, one must study a particular set of principles--those pertaining to the field of music. Just so, to transform an IQ into a practicing intellectual proficiency you have to study a particular set of principles--epistemological principles. A person is no more born with an automatic knowledge of how to think than he is born with an automatic knowledge of how to make music. I'm sure that each of you is aware that there was a time (maybe, if you are younger than I am, you can even remember that time) when you first learned the proper formulation of a syllogism, the nature of an ad hominem argument, or the pitfalls of the post hoc fallacy. Just as there are proper ways and improper ways to address your hands to a musical instrument, so there are proper and improper ways to address your mind to the task of identifying reality. If a musically untrained person puts his hand to the keyboard of an accordion the result will be a discordant raucous racket, simply because he is ignorant of the proper procedures. Likewise, if an epistemologically untrained person puts his mind to a philosophical problem the result is likely to be a hideous hodge-podge of insane idiocy--for the same reason. You may have a very high potential--either MQ or IQ--but before you can actualize that potential you've got to learn how. This thesis was confirmed when I observed the members of the various High-IQ societies. I was rather disappointed with these people. In examining them I found that the possession of a high IQ is no guarantee at all of intellectual competence. Having a high intelligence does not remove a person's weaknesses, ignorances, prejudices, blind spots, or ambitions; it just gives him more power and energy to indulge them. An untrained mind has little control over its own power.

* Useful Thinking Techniques Some Elements of Problem Solving: Perhaps the most important thing in problem solving is to get everything written down so you can see it all in one big picture and hold all its aspects simultaneously in your mind. It is important to have everything explicitly available to you, rather than held merely implicitly. Implicit knowledge is that which is available to your consciousness but which you have not conceptualized. Implicit knowledge is not a substitute for explicit knowledge. Values which you cannot identify, but merely sense implicitly, are not in your control. You cannot tell what they depend on or require, what course of action is needed to gain and/or keep them. Implicit knowledge, since it has not been identified, cannot be challenged or corrected. Before you can solve a problem, you have to identify it. Before you can identify it, you must have an intellectual frame-of-reference that includes such ideas as "fundamentality" "concept" "fact" "definition" and all the other ideas required to make identifications. Therefore, no problem-solving technique can be comprehensively effective if you are not using, at least implicitly, the precepts of Objectivism. The Rule of Fundamentality: How can you tell a principle from a non-principle such as a personal esthetic preference? By what technique can you identify fundamentals and distinguish them from superficials?


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 35 Look for the underlying trait that causes and explains the more superficial attributes. You must observe the relationships among the various characteristics and identify the one on which the greatest number of others depend--the fundamental characteristic without which the others would not exist. This is the essential distinguishing characteristic of the entity. Metaphysically, a fundamental characteristic is the one that makes the greatest number of others possible; epistemologically, it is the one that explains the greatest number of others. Consider this "definition": Man is the only animal that can speak French. To determine whether or not the attribute of French-speaking is fundamental, look at what happens to a man if that attribute is removed. Would he still be a man? The the answer is clearly "yes" thus the attribute is NOT fundamental. If the attribute were indeed fundamental, upon its removal the man would cease to be a man. A fundamental attribute is one without which the entity under consideration would not be what it is. False Categorization: Just as you can have definition by non-essentials, you can also have classification by non-essentials. If the attribute being used to make the classification appears in more than one of the categories that you are formulating, then it is a non-distinguishing attribute. The entities that possess that attribute cannot be distinguished from the entities in other categories, since the others also possess that attribute. The attribute is distinguishing only if it appears in only one of the categories. Categorization serves a purpose, but your goal affects what you consider to be essential. For example: usually, the essential attribute of a piece of furniture is its function, but to an interior designer it can be legitimate to regard its style as an essential characteristic. Thinking in Principles: A principle is a fundamental primary or general truth on which other truths depend. To think in principles is to identify the essence of a set of concretes (objects, actions or phenomena), then identify the necessary implications or consequences of this essence. You thereby reach a fundamental generalization, a principle, which subsumes, and enables you to deal with, an unlimited number of particulars. It is not the role of principle to provide particularized concretes for each individual but to enable their discovery. Goal-seeking: For successful goal-achievement, you should have a clear and explicit statement of your goals and the rationale for them. This provides you with a firm and continual awareness of the principles that guide and shape the actions you must take to achieve those goals. It will enable you to live according to your philosophy by taking the appropriate actions to implement its principles. In the absence of a solid, explicitly-held ideological foundation, your principles, and thus the consistency of your behavior, will ultimately be compromised. You must be able to clearly visualize a state of existence in order to fully understand what that state requires of you and what, if any, benefits you may receive from it. First you must know your objective. Unless you know what you want, you can't possibly decide how to get it. Ask yourself three questions: What do you want to do? What are you capable of doing? What are you actually going to do? Be clear that these may be three different things. Consider alternative means of attaining objectives. It's not often that a goal can be realized in only one way. List the pros and cons of each alternative, then analyze all courses of action available and select the best for the given situation: the one that appears most likely to achieve the results you want. When you are evaluating objects or prospective courses of action, be sure you list them in order of their relative importance to you. This firms up your value hierarchy and helps you avoid sacrifice, the giving up of a greater value to obtain a lesser value. Don't overlook the valuable function your emotions can perform. You can usually tell when a decision accords with your subconscious knowledge: it brings a sense of relief. Good decisions are excellent tranquilizers; bad ones often increase your mental tension. When you have decided something against the grain, there is a nagging sense of incompleteness. The feeling you experience is your subconscious mind telling you either that your decision integrates all the data the subconscious holds--or that it doesn't integrate all the data.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 36 I find that there are three levels of clarity to which I can hold an idea: The first, and lowest, is just having the thought inside my head, usually in a rather vague form. I can force myself to the second level of clarity by making a verbal statement of the thought. When I have to translate vague, unspecific mental images into spoken words, the idea becomes more precise and unambiguous. For this reason I deliberately talk to myself quite frequently--or talk to my cat (but he rarely finds any of my ideas worth commenting on!). The third, and highest, level of clarity is reached when I sit down and put the words into written form. This way they get saved as perceptual concretes and I can review them and rework them and rearrange them until I get a really accurate presentation of the idea. Remember that it is harder to put your foot in your mouth when you have your pen in your hand. A biographer of Thomas Edison, commenting on Edison's 3,500 notebooks, remarked that Edison "reveled in his notebook drawings as sheer process, the life of his mind in full gear. He wrote literally to find out what he was thinking." When trying to define a concept, you may find it useful to consider its opposite and see if it would be appropriate to define the concept in terms of the negative (or absence) of its opposite. For example: Freedom as the absence of Slavery--Innocence as the absence of Guilt. Batting Average - Track Record: One of the best ways I know of to gain a more precise comprehension of the world you live in is the process of keeping "batting averages." A good place to start this process is with the local weather service. Just keep a daily journal in which you record the weather forecast, and then alongside it a note of your observations of the weather that actually occurred during the forecast period. This will give you REAL knowledge of just how useful the weather forecasts are. Another place to apply the process is to your favorite economic forecaster. Be careful--you may discover to your dismay that his advice is pretty much useless for anything except getting your money into his pocket. You can turn this process back through time and make some interesting discoveries. For example, consider the FedGov's forecasts concerning petroleum supplies: In 1917, the Interior Department reported that only 27 years of oil remained. In 1920, the US Geological Survey reported only four years were left. By 1924 this had changed to six years. An ad in the WSJ (21Jan1976), placed by the American Electric Power Company, showed a wistful-looking baby over the caption "By the time he's out of 8th grade America will be out of oil and gas." The ad quoted US Government figures claiming that "our proven reserves will only last 12 years." Claims like these keep Chicken Little busy, but have no other practical use. The real danger in them is for the gullible people who put their money where the mouths of the prognosticators are. Don't be gullible--calculate the batting average of any person or institution that makes forecasts you consider relevant to your life. This process can be a great help to you in deciding where to invest your money and your time so as not to waste them. KEEPING SCORE ON OUR MODERN PROPHETS by Kurt Saxon contains four years of observations on such people as Jean Dixon. It clearly shows their laughable record at prophesying. The most important batting average you can keep is your own. An important thing to keep in mind is that the records you maintain MUST be in WRITING, and must be written down immediately as the observed phenomena occur. You shouldn't trust your memory, or you may end up accepting things via the fallacy of proof by selected instances. Much of good thinking is merely avoiding fallacies. If you are thinking within the context of a logical fallacy, then no matter how competent you may be at handling concepts your ultimate conclusion is very likely to be wrong. A Handbook of Logical Fallacies Always remember not to demand absolute perfection. You are neither omniscient nor infallible--the best you can do is just the best you can do, and if you are going to live in the real world rather than in a fantasy, you will have to accept that. Thoreau: "I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live a life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

* Memory Perhaps the gravest and most widespread intellectual flaw is the implicit belief that one's personal


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 37 memory is accurate and permanent. In fact, it is neither. But with a little help from the tool of literacy, it can become both. Memory is a fickle, deceptive thing--and the memory you should most mistrust is your own. There are very few people who recognize this flaw and take the appropriate precautions to overcome it by using literacy as an adjunct to their fallible memory. Most people have never learned how to remember, and in the Hindu Land of Endless Paths those poor souls are condemned to repeat their follies forever, and never gain Nirvana. But mature people don't have to be reminded repeatedly, they do know how to remember. David Hume: "As memory alone acquaints us with the continuance and extent of perceptions, it is to be considered, upon that account chiefly, as the source of personal identity. Had we no memory, we should never have any notion of that chain of causes and effects which constitute our self or person." But memory is not written in stone; it's highly susceptible to reconstruction. Much of what we remember of our own past is nothing more than a mirage. In order to know your self you must remember your past. You have to preserve knowledge of the important facts of your life, and you have to acquire the power to reproduce and coordinate your memories competently. Only thus can you preserve the continuity of your self--the knowledge of who you are. This is the function of a journal, and the reason why everyone should keep one. It fixes--solidifies--your history. You must preserve your history in writing. You can't hold all the significant information in your head simultaneously, and you are a pretentious fool if you think you can. Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory. As Nietzsche observed: "I did it, says memory; I couldn't have, says pride--and remains implacable. Eventually, memory yields." Einstein: "It is well possible that an individual in retrospect sees a uniformly systematic development, whereas the actual experience took place in kaleidoscopic particular situations. The manifoldness of the external situations and the narrowness of the momentary content of consciousness bring about a sort of atomizing of the life of every human being." Of all the aspects of human intellectuality, memory is probably the most easily and readily improvable. Just a little effort in this direction will soon produce a considerable increase in your nemnonic ability. (I never can remember how to spell that word.) Here are a few techniques I use to improve my memory: Be literate: a little notebook in the pocket serves as a memory flywheel. The three levels of cognitive clarity I mentioned above are also three levels of memory retention. See reference Memorize poems and short stories. By the time you can recite the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (it takes nigh onto 25 minutes) you will have a middling good memory. Get someone to whom you can recite back things you have read. After I have read the latest SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, he leafs through it and asks me to describe what's on each page. These little exercises have given me an enormously powerful ability to recall things I see and hear. In fact, I have been surprised to discover that although I did not have an exceptional memory during my youth, I have actually developed a photographic memory during the past couple decades. Bear in mind, though, that while you are exercising your memory you must consult an objective observer. What you must test your memory against are objectively observable facts, NOT the memory of another person! This is VERY important! Don't play the "memory game": Are you listening to me? Yeah, I'm listening. Well then tell me what I just said! Observe the two fallacious assumptions involved in this exchange. First, he assumes that his recall is better than yours. Second, he assumes that HIS memory is to be used as a standard of comparison against which YOURS is to be measured. If you test your memory against someone else's, you aren't really making a scientifically valid measurement of your ability. Worse than this is the psycho-epistemological damage you are inflicting on your mind. Whenever you succumb to the memory game you are telling your subconscious mind that reality is to be determined by reference to another person's consciousness. You are making yourself into a social metaphysician. It is quite all right to use someone else as an observer in order to confirm the accuracy of your memory, but NOT as a standard of reference for your memory. "I think, therefore I am," doesn't quite make it. "I remember, therefore I am" is more like it.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 38 Bibliography: THE ART OF CROSS-EXAMINATION by Francis L. Wellman. Wellman shows how surprisingly unreliable memory frequently is. THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD by Carl Sagan, 1996, Ballantine Book 345-40946-9. In Chapters 8 and 9 Sagan deals with the unreliability of memory, memory manipulation, fraud, hallucination and fantasies.

* Procedures for Carrying on a Discussion The First Law of Debate: Anything is permissible, if you don't know what you are talking about!! David Kelley: "Discussion among rational people is best conducted as a partnership in discovering the truth, not as combat or indoctrination. Discussion and debate are values only if they are means to the discovery of the truth." If a sensible discussion is to occur, the participants must do several things: Agree on the subject to be discussed. Define the terms encompassing this subject. Identify the principles underlying the various approaches to dealing with this subject. Decide, by examining the consequences which ensue from the principles, which of these approaches is the best one to use. Determine the best way to implement this approach. Each participant must make a contribution appropriate to the presentation the others have made. Each must try to further the investigation. If you want to make a presentation to a hostile audience, here are some recommendations: Your purpose should be merely to make your position known, clearly and briefly, so that your audience can see what your ideas are. If anyone wants to learn more about them, the burden of intellectual responsibility lies upon them to solicit, not upon you to impose. Proselytizing is not really the libertarian way. As a libertarian, you must recognize the right of the other person to live his life according to HIS choices, not your choices. No matter how stupidly foolish you believe those choices to be, it's HIS life, NOT yours. Don't try to shove your ideas down his throat. We are NOT Jehovah's Witnesses! You owe a rational statement only to those who are making an effort to know. Those who are making an effort NOT to know should not be a concern of yours. A positive interest is one that says "How can I benefit from this man's ideas?" A negative interest is one that says "How can I poke holes in this man's argument?" Your procedure in such a presentation should be: To educate only those sincerely interested in learning. Not to refute contentious assertions nor to correct dogmatic errors nor to challenge erroneous assumptions. Not to attempt discussion with intellectually loose people nor those whose approach involves ridiculing or belittling rationality. You can argue with error, but not with irrationality. Argument by analogy is always dubious at best. No analogy is ever a perfect comparison, and your opponent is quite likely to direct his response not to your thesis but only to your analogy. He will expose the inevitable inadequacy of the analogy and then presume that in doing so he has demolished your thesis. The use of an analogy is effective only when you are attempting to clarify your thesis in the mind of someone who is trying to understand it. When your adversary is NOT trying to understand your position, but only to reject it, then introducing an analogy will be counterproductive. If you want to communicate with dummies you will have to make allowances for the dummies. And you will usually find that the allowances preclude effective communication. Anyway, I figure our ideas are so much better than theirs that if we get only 1/10 the exposure we'll win.

* Criticism The experience of having my essays published, and dealing with the resulting feedback, has led me to identify several types of criticism: Irrelevant: Remarks that have no rational justification, do not in any way apply to the idea being


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 39 criticized, and contribute nothing to the subject under discussion. But can this really be called criticism? Combative: Remarks intended mainly to provoke dispute. This is what I get from the kind of person who listens only for the purpose of contradicting me. Corrective: An analysis that exposes an important flaw in the presentation, thus clarifying the subject under discussion. Contributive: Commentary that expands upon the idea presented, furthering it and widening its applicability. In dealing with criticism you should keep clearly in mind the distinction between a denial and a refutation. A denial is merely a declaration of rejection. A refutation, on the other hand, is a logical proof that demonstrates an error. When you are critiquing someone else's presentation, be alert to whether he has persuaded you by the internal logic of his analysis or has posed a testable statement that can be checked against the evidence. If he has not done either of these, then beware of what he IS trying to do.

* The Scientific Method The cognitive processes required for scientific thought are very different from those that underlie socalled common sense. This is because nature is just too complicated to be comprehended by the type of simple, day-to-day observations, never systematically made, that result in commonsense explanations for various phenomena. Common sense provides no more than some raw material required for scientific thinking. The scientific method is an epistemological technique used to form scientific concepts. It is comprised of several elements: 1) Recognition of facts that appear to be related, but whose relationship is unknown. 2) Observation and experimentation to collect data about those facts. 3) Analysis of the data. 4) Formulation of an hypothesis that attempts to explain the relationship. 5) Testing of the hypothesis against all known evidence. 6) Continual testing as new evidence is obtained. Some precepts of the Scientific Method: New and speculative proposals do not warrant consideration as long as the observed facts are adequately accounted for by the theories that already exist. A proposal should not be considered if no credible evidence has been presented that it has any value. (See the FALSIFIABILITY fallacy.) Those explanations should be accepted which involve the fewest assumptions. Propositions derived by inference from scientific data: Assumption - something accepted without proof. It is incorrect to speak of an assumption as either true or false, since there is no way of proving it to be either. (If there were, it would no longer be an assumption.) It is better to consider assumptions as either useful or useless, depending on whether or not deductions made from them lead to a firmer grasp of reality. Conjecture - a speculative idea which, although backed by little or no evidence, can serve as a guide for further investigation. Hypothesis - a tentative explanation backed by too little evidence to support a firm chain of cause-andeffect. One formulates a hypothesis being guided by one's knowledge of fact. The hypothesis should explain the greatest number of, and/or the most fundamental, aspects of the phenomenon. Using the hypothesis, one next deduces how entities under certain conditions should act. Then, if one observes such action and, within the context of one's knowledge can account for it only by the hypothesis which predicted it, it follows that the hypothesis has been confirmed. But because we are not omniscient, that same context of knowledge might give rise to other hypotheses. This is why we need the process of experimental confirmation. Theory - a working model supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Law - a description that has been found to be always invariable under the same conditions. Almost every scientifically conducted experiment can, at least ideally, be reduced to two broad steps: first, determine the variables that affect the outcome of the experiment; second, set up conditions such that one of the variables can be altered while the rest are kept constant. From the data obtained in this way the experimenter can modify his hypotheses as to which variables matter, in what way they matter,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 40 to what degree they matter, and which don't. Thus his mental image grows closer and closer to an accurate representation of reality. Scientific knowledge (to be precise, the progress of scientific knowledge) is cumulative in nature. You start with a foundation and then you build upon that foundation. That's why science has progressed such a tremendous amount during the past 300 years. If physicists spent all their time arguing about the validity of the First Law of Thermodynamics, they would never make any progress at all. And if mathematicians spent all their time arguing about whether or not 2+2=4 there would never be any progress in mathematics. But you must always remember that one of the really important skills of a scientist is in knowing what things to doubt. Doubting must be VERY carefully selective!! Its improper application has sometimes been disastrous for the progress of science. On the one hand there is the impulse to regard almost NOTHING as being open to question. On the other hand is the impulse to regard EVERYTHING as being open to question. On the one hand are the "know it alls" and on the other hand are the "know nothings." Obviously neither position is true. Humans are neither omniscient nor totally ignorant. Doubting is at least as important to the advance of science as is believing. Moreover, doubting is a serious business that requires extensive training to be handled properly. People without training in a particular field do not know what to doubt and what not to doubt; or, to put it conversely, what to believe and what not to believe. Undemocratic as it may seem, one man's opinion is NOT necessarily as good as the next man's. A scientist MUST doubt. It would take much longer for valid theories to become established if overcredulity on the part of scientists led them to explore all the blind alleys indicated by newly-presented theories. Scientific manpower is too limited to investigate every idea that occurs to everybody. The advance of science depends on scientists in general being kept firmly oriented to the direction of maximum possible return. Drawing the line between observation and interpretation is difficult. It's easy to lose track of your assumptions and fail to notice which "keystones" in the edifice of your theory are merely soft clay. The triumph of the scientific method is that eventually, through collective effort, mistakes can be overturned. Science accepts error as something to be corrected over time. In contrast with science, belief systems based on magic and religion do not admit the possibility of being wrong, or of anything being unexplained. Any question can be answered (however unsatisfying the answer may be to someone trained in scientific thinking) from within the totally closed system: Why did Grandma get run over by the cement truck? It was God's will. Or it was bad karma. Or her dog was having a critical biorhythm day. The essential constraint that separates science from the mystical is experimentation--a phenomenon notably absent from magic and religion. Most people act as if the scientific method were disconnected from their daily lives, but a wider awareness of this method of thinking would help greatly in framing current social debates. Other fields of study should work at constructing the rigorous ladders of inference that have made scientific fields so successful. But such intellectual behavior would be suicidal to many fields.

* The Military Staff Study A technique you may find quite useful in dealing concretely with problems is the Military Staff Study. It is a six-part process: 1) Statement of the problem: One problem only, isolated and precisely stated; not merely a description of a "bad" situation. 2) Assumptions: Make only those assumptions which are necessary and justified. One assumption must not conflict with another; if so, prepare a different study for each. 3) Facts bearing on the problem: A fact is a statement of conditions known to be true. Don't mix fact and opinion. 4) Discussion: Produce a logical and orderly critical analysis of the problem through the integration of the facts and the assumptions. If the facts and the assumptions are shown to conflict, then you must change the assumptions. 5) Conclusions: They must not be merely a continuation of the discussion. They must point directly to the need for certain actions. 6) Recommendations: The actions which, if taken, will solve the problem. They must not pose alternative courses of action, and must be susceptible to simple approval or disapproval. Thinking always helps, if one does enough and it's the right kind. That's why some people make a


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 41 success of life and others don't. A reasoned proposal might be overruled by other considerations; some of the noblest of human acts have been carried out in defiance of reason. It is also quite true that spectacular blunders occasionally follow in the wake of the keenest reasoning. But, by and large, clean and orderly thinking justifiably enjoys a most favorable reputation.

* Notes on the Significance of Intellectual Context Why is it that so frequently when you are speaking to a person who believes in authoritarian, statist ideas, that person apears to listen but does not really hear what you are saying? Governmental Authority is, for him, an axiomatic concept. He literally cannot see any other context--cannot conceive of a society which is not founded on coercion--and if you venture outside his framework of thought, he merely accuses you of expressing vague generalities. It is as Orwell said it would be: "You will lose the ability to think certain ideas, and then you will be totally incapable of ever trying to act on those ideas." In such a discussion, most people quickly reach a point where they are not able to respond even when they have the discussion in front of them in writing. This is because they have reached the boundary of their intellectual frame of reference and they cannot cope with the questions without the mental flexibility (or the willingness) required to expand that frame of reference so as to encompass an area which contains the answers. They are prisoners of an inadequate reality assessment, and it is usually a waste of your time to engage them in discussion, simply because they will find your presentation to be quite literally incomprehensible. This helps explain why the average journalist cannot get a sentence straight if it is phrased more subtly than his own mind can make phrases. It explains also much of the unresolvable controversy in the field of social science. The assumptions shared by most contemporary social scientists restrict their analyses to relatively minor consequential details. Questions dealing with fundamental principles are outside their pale. Their analyses take place within an institutional context that is itself taken for granted: the framework of government control. This profoundly affects how their questions are framed, and thus studied and answered. This thinking procedure renders social scientists incapable of questioning much that is fundamental to their fields, and creates an intellectual barrier which is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the furtherance of libertarianism. This phenomenon has an obverse side also: I have sometimes been so befuddled by a question or proposition that I had to stop for a while and figure out why it seemed so "out of whack." The answer lies in the fact that its underlying premises are so disparate from mine that it is not at all amenable to a direct response. I can't answer the question, because it is overflowing with assumptions that I reject. There are certain questions that must be themselves questioned--challenged at their root--because they consist of attempts to smuggle false premises into the mind of of the listener. "Who created the universe?" is one example. "Have you stopped beating your wife?" is another. Ayn Rand had a keen eye for the shared premise underlying false alternatives. For example: Beneath modern philosophy's false alternatives of rationalism and empiricism, she recognized their shared assumption that abstract knowledge of reality cannot be validly derived from perceptual experience. Her ability to identify underlying context is what gives Objectivism much of its intellectual power.

* Faulty Thought Processes The Readers Digest syndrome: When I was about 15 years old I subscribed to the Readers Digest. A year or so later I let my subscription lapse when I came to realize that I was reading essentially the same sort of stuff over and over again. Five or ten years later I picked up a another copy and found it to contain just what I had read when I had been a subscriber. Although I had been growing and maturing intellectually, developing more powerful cognitive processes which enabled me to better deal with the problems I faced, the magazine had remained on the same intellectual level--dealing perpetually in the same way with the same problems. An attribute of a small-minded person is that he does not progress intellectually. This applies equally well to magazines and other social institutions. If they are not progressing, then once you have had a year's worth of exposure to them that's all the useful stuff you're ever likely to get. Any further exposure will be essentially repetitious. Like the Readers Digest. Or like the Libertarian Party, which today is still struggling to cope with the same problems it faced at the time of its inception in 1972. As of March 1995,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 42 there were 84 people registered to vote as Libertarian in Wyoming. That's all the progress the LP had made in 23 years, and yet it still considers itself to be presenting a viable political alternative. The hallmark of a fool is not that he makes mistakes, but that he is making the SAME mistakes today that he was making ten years ago. We all know that correlation does not imply causation, but is this true just because we haven't got powerful enough search techniques for sifting through large statistical databases? No. Mere correlation can never be proof, because if you don't know what the underlying cause is you can't know that it will continue to operate. However, this does not mean that statistical evidence should be ignored. Statistical evidence IS evidence, and at very least, it can be a basis for hypothesis. In any argument between two people who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins. The inconsistent person will present his ideas in a weak and contradictory form, and thus will create in the minds of the audience an impression of incompetence, evasion, or cowardice, while his adversary will appear to possess greater honesty and courage. (See "Anatomy of Compromise" in CAPITALISM THE UNKNOWN IDEAL.) Argument is futile when it is directed not toward general principles but merely toward the specific phenomena which are consequences of those principles. Perhaps the best examples of this are debates about legalizing drugs. They usually devolve quickly from a brief and superficial consideration of the principles underlying the anti-drug laws into a dispute over the specific means by which the drugs would be distributed if they were to be legalized. Thus the principles themselves are never fully examined, and the subjects raised are merely attempts to dilute the agenda of the discussion. A disagreement that does not challenge fundamentals serves only to reinforce them. If, for the question: "Do you want slavery?" your opponents manage to substitute the question: "What kind of slavery do you want?" then they can afford to let you argue indefinitely; they have already won their point. Consider a Determinist (or a Solipsist) versus an advocate of Free Will. The Determinist, to the extent that he adheres to his principle, will be disinclined to engage in any great mental activity. His motivation to do so is undermined by his belief that the result of such activity is not subject to his volition. The freewill advocate, however, suffers under no such handicap and will not thereby be deterred from making the fullest application of his intellectual faculties of which he is capable. People who believe that definitions are arbitrary, or are to be accepted or rejected according to their authoritarian backing, are people for whom there is no hope of meaningful intellectual interaction. They are in the same category as the Determinists--but whereas the Determinists believe that cognition is absolutely fixed and unalterable, these dummies believe the obverse: that cognition cannot be firmly tied to an objective reality. Reason is not automatic. If men were the automatons that behaviorists claim they are, the behaviorist psychologists could not have invented the amazing nonsense called "behaviorist psychology." So they are wrong from the start. To argue against such persons as Determinists, Solipsists, Behaviorists, those who claim human beings are not rational, or who claim there is no way to choose between good/bad or right/wrong, is to apply to them a premise they spend all of their effort disproving: that reason is involved in their theories. There is little point in replacing mindless bigotry or dogma with mindless acceptance, so you should consider those people only long enough to expose the specific nature of their irrationality. Those who deny reason cannot be conquered by it. Leave them alone, for they are in a mysterious mental state which is too lunatic for serious consideration. They have made a conscious choice to remain ignorant. You should make a conscious choice not to waste your time on them. Just because they choose to close their eyes doesn't mean the sun has been turned off, it only means that they are stumbling blindly in the darkness. "There are certain demands of the ideal, certain claims that a man cannot put aside without hurt to his soul." ....Ibsen There are moral issues that are beyond debate and discussion. There is a point beyond which a man cannot go and still maintain his dignity and self- respect. There are things a man cannot do without risking damage to his own soul. You can do violence to your soul by arguing with someone who asserts: Success is irrelevant to the process of proof. Human beings are not rational creatures. There is no such thing as morality (or ethics)


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 43 To a great many people, voluntary vs involuntary is not a fundamental distinction, and thus it has little importance in their minds. And you will get nowhere trying to argue from a context in which this distinction IS fundamentally important. I have learned never to argue with such people. Such debate imbues a false sense of significance. If you debate with him, he acquires a fraudulent sense of importance in his mind, but his ideas acquire a REAL importance in YOUR mind. Thus do the principles one chooses have a considerable influence on the efficiency of one's thought processes.

* Piagetian Operational Stages Piagetians contend that children have their views of the world bound up in concretes. This they call the "concrete operational stage," when children are generally incapable of imagining a situation with any of its variables somehow different. Kids at this stage have a lot of difficulty with "what if" questions. Only sometime during adolescence do children become able to deal adequately with conceptual abstractions. This is called the "formal operational stage." It is during this stage that young adults become able to deal with propositions that are contrary to fact (What if there were no Federal Reserve Bank?); to imagine several alternative explanations for the same phenomenon (What really caused the Great Depression?); to deal with metaphor (What is meant by the market's "invisible hand"?); to understand that classes are not merely groupings of individual entities but may also be themselves conceived of as abstract entites (What are those elements that make up justice? How does justice become an element that makes up something called freedom?). What is true of conceptual abstractions is also true of independent judgment. Humans are not entirely capable of fully independent judgment until adolescence. Their extreme sensitivity to the opinions and judgments of others during adolescence is partly a result of their need to formulate independent abstract judgments about the world, combined with their knowledge that they are not very sure of their reasoning processes. This makes adolescents simultaneously feel the need of approval more urgently than in other periods of life and be more susceptible to perversion of their proper development by means of selectively-applied approval/disapproval. Piagetians contend that nearly 50% of the adult population never adequately learn how to use the capacity for formal operational thought. Half the population is often bound to the reality of the moment, impotent to imagine how things might be under different circumstances. Just imagine yourself at a cocktail party and ask the person you've been randomly thrown up against, "What if there were no local zoning laws?" and you'll likely get a blank stare. Press him with, "What if there were no minimum-wage laws?" and you'll be getting rather close to his threshold of irritability. The ways of the economic world are pretty uncomplicated for this guy. When he thinks gasoline prices are too high, he wants someone to MAKE them lower. When he thinks his salary is too low, he wants someone to MAKE it higher. He has no notion of conceptual analysis, and is a walking example of what survives when a mind becomes a victim of infant mortality. Someone who does not think in principles tends to rely by default on social customs, and thus does not function independently in practice. The collectivist ideologies have a concrete model they can use to exemplify their view of society: the model of the family. Liberals stress the nurturing role of the family-its unconditional support for every member. Conservatives stress the authority of the parents in teaching virtue and enforcing standards of behavior. These aspects of the family are understood in a primitive form by preconceptual children, and can be grasped by non-conceptual adults. But there is no comparable form in which it is possible to grasp the concept of individualism, or any other of the principles of a free society, because those concepts presuppose the need of adults to function independently. To those who do not think conceptually, only what is immediately seen is real. At the level of principles, no ideology can be understood, much less consistently advocated or practiced, by those who function non-conceptually. This is why anti-ideological pragmatism is so popular.

* The Use Of Emotions As Tools Of Cognition The normal relationship between reason and emotion is harmony, not conflict. Conflict occurs whenever a man's conscious conclusions contradict those of his subconscious. When this happens, the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 44 conscious ideas may be correct and the subconscious ones mistaken. Or the reverse may be true: a man may consciously uphold a mistaken idea, while experiencing a feeling that clashes with it, a feeling arising from a correct subconscious premise. In both cases, however, the real clash is between the two ideas. And the only way to resolve the conflict, to know which side is correct, is to submit both ideas to the bar of reason. Even if its intellectual root happens to be true, the feeling itself cannot know or judge this; only the rational mind can decide questions of truth. Emotions are not tools of cognition. There is no alternative to reason as a means of knowledge and no supplement to it. If you attempt to give emotions such a role, then you are not engaging in a process of cognition at all. On the contrary, you are subverting the integrity of your mental processes and invalidating them--by introducing as their guide non-objective elements. An unanalyzed emotion, i.e., one whose intellectual roots you have not identified and validated by a process of reason, is merely a subjective event of your consciousness. It may be compared to a floating abstraction--a higher-level proposition which you have not reduced to perceptual data. In other words, it is a mental state disconnected from reality, a state whose relation to fact you do not know. If you seek to think rationally, you must grasp, then deliberately implement, the distinction between reason and emotion. You must learn the difference between thought and feeling--between logic and desire--between percepts and concepts on the one hand, and hopes, wishes, hatreds, loves, fears on the other. By a continuous process of explicit self-monitoring, you must ensure that in all your cognitive activities, feeling is set to the side and is not allowed to direct the course of the inquiry. A rational inquiry is one directed not by emotion, but by thought--one which accepts as evidence not any species of passion, but only provable, objective fact. The above is not an "anti-emotion" viewpoint. Emotions play an essential role in human life, and in this capacity they must be felt, nourished, respected. Without them man could not achieve happiness or even survival. He would experience no desire, no love, no fear, no motivation, no response to values. The epistemological point, however, remains true: the role of emotions, though crucial, is not the discovery of reality. I cast no aspersion on eating or breathing if I deny that they are means of cognition. The same applies to feelings. Objectivism is not against emotions, but emotionalism. Our concern is not to uphold stoicism or to abet repression, but to identify a division of mental labor. There is nothing wrong with emotion that accompanies or follows from an act of thought; this is the natural and proper human pattern. But there is everything wrong with emotion that seeks to replace thought by usurping its function. Perhaps the most prevalent manifestations of the attempt to substitute emotion for cognition are questions that begin, "Do you feel....?" rather than "Do you think....?" This use of emotional terminology to describe what should be cognitive activities is widespread in American culture. (The following material is extracted from Lecture #6 of Barbara Branden's PRINCIPLES OF EFFICIENT THINKING.) The attempt to use emotions as tools of cognition is a process used by people whose intellectual focus is on feelings rather than on truth and knowledge. Their fundamental technique of thinking is to refer to their emotions rather than their rational faculty. They use reason only as a tool of rationalization--to justify ideas which have already been accepted on the basis of their feelings. Instead of storing conceptual integrations and evaluations in their subconscious, these people store specific memories of concrete events along with the emotional responses associated with those events. Then any new phenomenon which is perceived to be similar to (i.e., has an accidental resemblance to) the aggregate of stored memories will evoke the associated emotional response, and thus will be formed a judgment of the new phenomenon on the basis of associational connections rather than conceptual integrations. Notice that this process is based on irreducible concretes, and that no classification according to fundamental distinguishing characteristics is involved. That aspect of any phenomenon having the most striking emotional impact is considered to be its defining characteristic. Ideas are also stored as concretes: as memories of something heard, read, or thought. These concretes are not integrated with other concretes, but are stored as slogans. Conclusions about any subject consist of the memories of events, plus the corresponding emotions, plus the remembered slogans. People who function this way are typically unable to define their terms; for them, the meaning of a word is a jumble of memorized examples, emotional associations and floating images. Their primary focus is on the emotional connotations of phenomena. If a presentation does not arouse strong emotional response in them, it will have very little effect on them at all. Ideas themselves will


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 45 have no motivating influence on them. They will respond not to the cognitive content of an idea but to the emotional content of its presentation (it is this response that gives demagogues so much of their following). They do not judge the truth by its correspondence to reality--they judge reality by its correspondence to their feelings. They are psychologically set to grant primacy to their emotions, which set and direct their perceptions. When necessary, their perceptions are distorted to fit the emotion, or simply ignored. Only what fits the emotions is permitted entry into consciousness. Thus they become intellectually self-blinded. They make no distinction between emotions and thoughts--they "feel" their thoughts simply because the thoughts are non-conceptualized. What they do not do is INITIATE a process of conceptualization. Theirs is a passive, not an active, consciousness. The end result is the explicit, open reliance on emotions and the rejection of conceptualization, which, in their minds, has become a meaningless process. This is the reason why some men jump to conclusions irrationally. They do not identify principles, but just act on an emotional response. This also explains much context-dropping. Without a principled basis of firmly-held concepts, it is impossible for them to hold an ideational context and relate specific concretes to that context.

* Introspection (These ideas on introspection were originated by Edith Packer.) As Objectivism emphasizes, emotions are not tools of cognition, and they should not themselves control your behavior. Nevertheless, emotions have enormous psychological significance. All emotions are derived from some type of cognition; they have no independent existence apart from the thoughts, conscious or subconscious, which underlie them. Emotions are not in conflict with, but are a product of, the evaluations which underlie them. Emotions are psychosomatic responses to a perceived object, event, or situation, identified and appraised in accordance with the perceiver's knowledge and value-judgments. As these statements imply, every emotion presupposes perception, identification, and judgment. The ideas you hold in your conscious mind are fed into your subconscious mind and act as instructions for its functioning. The emotions that result from this functioning can reveal its nature to you. Armed with this knowledge, you can "reprogram" your subconscious by changing the evaluations made by your conscious mind. Thus the ability of a person to identify and understand his emotions is crucial to his happiness. Emotions are an essential means by which we experience ourselves and respond to our evaluations of the world around us. Emotions are the single most important signal indicating the nature of our subconsciously-held value-judgments. Understanding your emotions enables you to get in touch with what is uniquely you: your individuality. Life can be experienced to the fullest only if you know yourself, and you cannot know and understand yourself without a definite commitment to a conscious policy of introspection. Introspection is a cognitive, intellectual process directed inward, focusing on and identifying the internal processes of your consciousness. Just as extrospection is a focus on the various aspects of the external world, so introspection consists of an awareness of and focus on your intellectual and emotional life. The requirements of mental health include both: knowledge of both external and internal reality. It is important to be aware of the difference between actual introspection and what is often mistakenly believed to be introspection, namely the continuous defensive observation of one's behavior and feelings (usually of anxiety) in anticipation of real or imagined disapproval. Such a neurotically self-conscious focus amounts to asking "How am I doing?" during all of one's interactions with other people. This cannot be considered introspection, because introspection seeks answers to the questions of "What am I doing?" and "Why am I doing it?" but this process seeks an answer to the question "What do other people think of what I'm doing?"

* The Six Steps of Introspection Introspection of emotions has to take place in a series of six steps: 1. Identify the type of emotion or emotions which you are experiencing. 2. Identify the generalized (universal) evaluation underlying each of those emotions. 3. Identify your personal evaluation--the particular form in which you hold the universal evaluation. 4. Determine the correctness of the underlying evaluations you have made, both universal and


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 46 personal. Discover whether your evaluations are true or false in light of the facts. 5. If the evaluations underlying your emotions are incorrect, identify the problems which led you to make the incorrect evaluations. 6. Consciously reinforce correct evaluations in order to correct the inappropriate thinking methods that arise from your psychological problems. Keep in mind that each of these steps is an integral part of introspection and each of them is equally important. Furthermore, each step is a prerequisite of the next.

* Step 1 Identify the type of emotion or emotions which you are experiencing. Good questions to ask in order to figure out what type of emotions you are feeling are: Am I feeling positive or negative emotions or a combination of both? Do my emotions concern other people or just myself? It may also be helpful to make a list of the different emotions that you are experiencing and what you think each is a reaction to. Even people who are completely inexperienced at introspection will be able to name some emotions if they try. Do not worry at this point that you do not know all the emotions you may be experiencing. You will probably discover others as you proceed.

* Step 2 Identify the general (universal) evaluation underlying each of your emotions. It is important to know that each emotion has at its base an abstract evaluation which is the same for everyone who experiences that emotion. As a result, emotions can be classified on the basis of the kinds of abstact evaluations that underlie them. Once a person makes a particular kind of evaluation, the die is cast. From that particular type of evaluation, only one general type of emotion can follow, and the type of emotion will never vary from person to person or from time to time, nor does it matter whether the person undergoing this emotion-generating process is aware of it or not, or whether the evaluation that gives rise to the emotion is based on facts or is completely incorrect. The essential relationship between the evaluation and the emotion which follows remains. For example: if a person consciously or subconsciously concludes that something in reality poses a threat to his well-being, he will automatically feel fear. Thus, the man who sees a speeding car bearing down on him will feel fear. And so will the man who jumps at the sound of a truck backfiring on a city street, if he thinks it is the sound of a gun which is being fired near him. The emotion will be of the same type: fear. Only the concretes on the basis of which the evaluations were made will differ. Thus, the value-judgment underlying fear will always be something to the effect: "I am in danger. Something is threatening my physical or psychological safety." Similarly, if a person concludes, "Some injustice was done to me," he will automatically feel anger. It is important to understand clearly that once the appropriate evaluation is drawn, anger will inevitably follow. Or, conversely, if a person is feeling anger, he has to realize that at some time in the past he came to the evaluation, "Some injustice has been done to me." If you have difficulty identifying the evaluations underlying your emotions, due to repression or lack of experience in introspection, I recommend that you ask yourself such questions as: "Do I think some injustice was done to me?" "Do I evaluate myself as unworthy?" "Do I think I can never achieve this or that particular value?" If the answer is "Yes" to all three, then you will know that you must be feeling anger, self-doubt, and depression.

* Step 3 Identify your personal evaluation--the particular form in which you hold the universal evaluation. A good way to distinguish steps two and three is to remember that the universal evaluation is the abstract evaluation; the personal evaluation is the concrete form it takes in the case of any particular individual. For example: individuals differ in what they consider unjust. Suppose that two people both experience the universal evaluation that some injustice was done to them. As a result, they both feel angry. But obviously there are many ways, based on many different concrete experiences, of reaching the identical universal evaluation and therefore the identical emotion--in this example, anger. Ms Jones' personal evaluation may be: "My next-door neighbor, whom I liked and respected, drove her lawnmower through my flower garden." But Mr. Smith's personal evaluation may be: "My best buddy asked my girl friend out for a date and is stealing her away from me." Thus, the personal evaluation will differ from individual to individual, but the generalized perception of an injustice--and the subsequent emotion of anger--is the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 47 same for all. A person may have identified the type of emotion he is feeling, and may even be familiar with the corresponding universal evaluation which underlies it, but this does not imply that he knows what concrete event triggered it. What you need to do in step three is to identify the specific experiences and thoughts that led you, in your individual case, to make the universal evaluations. Go over the specific events of your recent past and the types of things you have been thinking about. Even better: write down all the details in the form of a monologue. Your personal language may lead you to discover emotions that you had been unaware of. For example, your monologue may include words expressing hopelessness about your ability to cope with the world. If you identify this, you may be able to realize that you are also feeling depressed. If you have written down all the details, such an identification will be MUCH easier. Suppose Mr. Smith wakes up in the morning and feels anger and a nagging feeling which he identifies as self-doubt. He is aware that he is concluding that someone did him an injustice and that his self-worth is threatened in some way. But he has no idea what particular concrete triggered these feelings or why he feels the way he does. Suppose he discovers that the only unusual event he recalls was that his boss praised his co-worker, Mr. Lamb, enthusiastically. He can then ask himself: "Did I think this was an injustice to me, and did this cause me self-doubt?" As a result, he may come up with the following personal thoughts: "Yes, that praise of Mr. Lamb was outrageous. I happen to know that Mr. Lamb wastes hours during work talking about baseball, while I work my head off. No wonder I feel anger and self-doubt. If this can happen, there must be something wrong with my boss and with the world, or with me for not knowing how to deal with it. I can't find justice and will never find it." As you can see, Mr. Smith has discovered not only what concretes triggered his emotions, but also how he personally interpreted those concretes, and how his personal evaluations led to his feelings of anger and self-doubt. The identification of personal evaluations may be of great help to repressed people who do not experience varied and deep emotions. Technically, emotions as such cannot be repressed. What is repressed are the evaluations that produce the emotions. Remember, an emotion is a consequence and cannot come into existence without the underlying cause: your evaluations. A represser evaluates, but his subconscious does not allow his evaluations to come into conscious awareness, The result is that he does not know what certain facts mean to him. He may feel some general discomfort, or a vague unpleasantness, but in general he will not feel strongly about things and will not be able to identify the type of emotion he is feeling. A represser should go over carefully his written account of his recent past. Then, if he finds anything out of the ordinary, he should ask himself: "What do I really think about this fact? What do I think an unrepressed person would feel under the circumstances?" If he does this, he may be surprised to discover that he in fact leads an active inner life of appraising concretes which he cannot allow himself to acknowledge, given his fear of experiencing emotions. In such a case, a good technique to use is to pretend that each emotion has a voice, a voice that expresses the thoughts which underlie it. I hope you can see the importance of discovering your personal evaluations. It is step three which shows most directly your individual and personal way of making judgments based on your values and your general psychology. Therefore, it is crucial to spend sufficient time on this step to squeeze out every possible concrete detail of the thoughts underlying your emotions. Knowing your detailed personal evaluations is a prerequisite to succeeding with step four: judging the correctness of your evaluations. There is usually much less subconscious resistance to identifying personal evaluations than there is to admitting their possible incorrectness. Thus, the more thorough you are in step three, the less chance you will have to sabotage step four. And most people do try to sabotage step four, whether they do so consciously or subconsciously. I must stress the need to work hard at step three, because even individuals who often introspect will have a tendency to rush through it. Most people do not believe that their personal evaluations have to be spelled out in detail. In addition, many individuals often sabotage the introspective process by immediately damning themselves for emotions they do not approve of. Evaluating yourself on the basis of what you FEEL is unwarranted, and it does not help you to change the unwanted emotions. Such disapproval of your emotions serves only to undercut your further progress in introspection. * Step 4


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 48 Determine the correctness of the underlying evaluations you have made, both universal and personal. Discover whether your evaluations are true or false in light of the facts. Up to this point, the process has been limited to understanding emotions in terms of the evaluations that underlie them. We did not question whether any of these evaluations were correct or not. But it is obvious that a person can easily make a mistake or misinterpret facts. Usually he can point to some objective facts supporting his evaluations, but often other important facts will have been left out of consideration, or filtered and distorted due to mistaken basic premises. Other neurotic problems can be operating as well. For example, most people are compartmentalized to some extent. The most brilliant person, who in his work applies a rigorous policy of testing his objectivity in evaluating the facts, may apply a totally different method of evaluating the facts of his personal life. In testing the correctness of your evaluations, it is important to be aware that you may feel resistance toward making an objective assessment of the facts. Such resistance is not a matter of deliberate evasion, but can result from subconscious feelings of hurt and anger that may cause you difficulty in seeing the facts objectively. To check whether your evaluations are true or false, ask yourself such questions as: Do the facts I have considered support my evaluation? Did I leave out facts which would be germane to my evaluation? Am I aware of facts which, if considered, would lead me to draw different evaluations? Am I resisting acknowledging any facts which would lead me to draw evaluations opposite to those I have drawn? Are the connections which led me to arrive at my evaluations logical? Of course, the more you know about your personal method of thinking, the more successful you will be in discovering the particular type of question you need to ask yourself. It is very important that the questions be tailor-made to fit your specific psychology. In addition to formulating questions tailor-made to your particular psycho-epistemology, you should also be inventive in finding solutions to bad thinking habits you become aware of. You can prepare for step four of introspection by constructing a table of concretes you view as threats, with each threat rated on a scale from one to ten in terms of its seriousness. Then, each time you wish to test the truth of your personal evaluations of these potential threats, you could ask yourself: Am I rating this concrete as a ten, when it is in fact only a two, which I really do know how to handle? Often, when the problem is not pervasive, relief from negative emotions can be achieved right at this step. If you can conclude that there is in fact no threat, your fear and sense of being out of control may subside immediately. * Step 5 If the evaluations underlying your emotions are incorrect, identify the problems which led you to make the incorrect evaluations. (Of course, if you discover that the underlying evaluations are correct, after you have checked all the relevant facts, you would stop with step four.) Step five can be the most difficult one of all. And success in carrying it out will depend on many factors. More than anything else, it will depend on the extent of your knowledge of your psychological processes. The more familiar you are with your core evaluations, and the type of defense mechanisms you use to counteract your self-doubt, the easier it will be for you to discover why you have made inappropriate evaluations. (Core evaluations are basic evaluations that are held subconsciously. They are fundamental judgments about three areas of everyone's life: self, reality, and other people.) Suppose a person with genuine self-esteem finds himself feeling self-doubt. He should then ask: "What did I do that I do not think is worthy of me?" And, having discovered the action he disapproves of, and corrected his evaluation, he will be able to endure the anxiety until it passes. He will not permit defense mechanisms to spring into action. Such a person will also be able to avoid any repetition of the action he judged to be unworthy. In contrast, a self-doubtful person who discovers an inappropriate action would be inclined to conclude something to the effect: "Of course, I did this unworthy thing. It is par for the course with me, given the kind of person I am." Or, even more likely, such a person will automatically initiate some defense mechanism, in order to avoid the self-doubt, thereby inadvertently perpetuating it. If you know very little about your psychology, then at this point you may have some real difficulty. You may need to deeply examine your whole psychology and life-patterns because you need to understand better how you function and why. You may discover that you are not actually reacting to your present problem, but to some painful event in your distant past. It may be that your first love, after a long, close relationship, inexplicably left you for another man. You may discover that as a result of this painful experience you made a number of subconscious conclusions, such as: "I'm not desirable as a man. It's not


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 49 safe to be in a close romantic relationship, because it causes me pain and self-doubt. I can avoid such suffering by being in romantic relationships in which I unilaterally set the terms." Thus you compensate for your masculine self-doubt by continually trying to prove to yourself that women find you attractive. Any rejection makes you re-experience the loss that devastated you in the past. Another example: let us imagine that Mr. Smith is aware of the fact that in his childhood he concluded that his parents always favored his brother, and that on this basis one of the core evaluations he developed is that whenever people have a choice between him and someone else, they will automatically favor the other individual. Knowing this, Mr. Smith could say to himself: "This situation probably reminds me of the past painful incidents with my brother, where I felt pain, anger, and self-doubt. My evaluations in the present situation are based on my subconsciously held core evaluation that I automatized a long time ago. I can see how that core evaluation influences my present interpretation of facts whenever the situation appears to be similar to the old, painful one with my brother." How much you can accomplish at this point will depend also on how important the issue is to you, and how much time you have available. Obviously, you cannot spend all the time needed to unravel every insignificant or minute emotion and its causes. Sometimes, too, the reason why you made the error in evaluation will be clear to you before you ever get to this step. For example, you find out later that the friend who kept you waiting did so because he got into an accident and had no way of notifying you. In such a case, you would know that you were justified in your evaluation, but that you were unaware of all the facts. Even if you are not successful at step five in the beginning, by persisting at introspection you will gather a lot of factual data which will at least show you how your psychology operates. And, hopefully, it will lead you to some explanation of why it operates in that manner. If, during the course of your life, you have kept a written journal of significant things that have happened to you, and your responses to those things, you will find these notes enormously helpful in the process of introspection. * Step 6 Consciously reinforce correct evaluations in order to correct the inappropriate thinking methods that arise from your psychological problems. I have emphasized that the kind of emotions you experience are the result of the type of universal evaluations you have made. From this, it follows that if you change these evaluations, the emotions will change. Thus, if you become convinced while introspecting that no injustice has been done to you, your feelings of anger will disappear. Your subconscious will automatically arrange this change for you. This will happen because your subconscious operates on the basis of a program established by your conscious mind. Your subconscious does NOT have the capacity to reprogram itself. It is only the conscious mind that is able to check the appropriateness of the program, and it is only the conscious mind that can do the reprogramming. Step six is designed to do just that. You should say to yourself at this point: "I programmed my subconscious inappropriately in this area. It operates inappropriately and causes me great suffering. I am hereby adopting a different policy, which will take the place of the incorrect one." You can say: "I have to accept the responsibility of consciously judging each separate situation based on the facts." If you persist in doing this, you can eventually reprogram any aspect of your subconscious. Probably many of you have had this experience: you realize that your evaluations of the facts are mistaken, yet even after having understood the correct evaluation, the old evaluations may subsequently resurface and you find yourself again in the grip of the resulting inappropriate emotions. Don't despair. Simply go over all the facts again; reinforce the correct evaluations by re-asserting your knowledge of the actual facts. If you do that, your subconscious mind will eventually get the message and the unwanted emotions will then disappear permanently. It is important to remember that reprogramming your subconscious mind is rarely, if ever, an instantaneous process. It takes time, maybe lots of time, so be patient with yourself. I might add that repressed people, as a rule, have to reinforce their commitment to experiencing emotions. They have to convince their subconscious that there is no need to fear emotions, and give their subconscious an order to allow its appraisals of concretes to enter conscious awareness.

* Closing comments Do not be afraid to introspect. Most people do not discover terrible things about themselves that they


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 50 cannot correct. If there is something wrong in your psychology, it will stay wrong if you do not find out what it is. If you don't introspect, what is wrong will become more and more entrenched, undercutting you and causing you to become more unhappy. Do not judge yourself on the basis of the emotions you feel. It is your evaluations, which underlie the emotions, that you should be judging. If you are damning YOURSELF for the emotions you feel, you will change nothing. Further, be careful not to judge yourself at times when you are overwhelmed by negative emotions. If you do, you are in the position of being in the hands of a drunken juror deciding a life and death issue concerning your life. The fact that you may FEEL you are no good, does not mean you are no good in fact. Your behavior, not your emotions, is the deciding evidence. (Always remember that although you may not have direct control over how you FEEL, you DO have direct control over how you ACT.) Thus, make sure that your standards for judging your worth are the standards of a rational and cold sober juror. Introspection is very difficult for most people. The process has to be learned. Unfortunately, we were never taught how to do it when we were young, and now, as adults, we have to teach ourselves. But introspection is difficult only in the beginning. The more you do it, the easier and less time-consuming it becomes. If you persist you will get the hang of it. If you do, it will pay you wonderful dividends. You will get acquainted intimately with the person that you are. You will discover your good qualities and will be able to see which qualities you have to change. It will give you a greater sense of control over your life, because knowing your emotions will help prevent you from automatically acting on them. A conscious, consistent commitment to introspection will give you freedom from self-doubt, and you will become a happier person.

* Orwell - Newspeak - Brainwashing - Prolefeed 1984 by George Orwell - New American Library (Signet) #451 CY688 This is the most prophetic book of the 20th century. Orwell's concepts of Newspeak and Prolefeed are indispensable to an understanding of the development of American culture during the latter half of this century. A thorough knowledge of Newspeak, as it has been implemented in America, is the best means by which one can avoid an immense quagmire of faulty thinking.

* Newspeak The effect of Newspeak is not to extend but to diminish the range of thought and to make all other modes of thought impossible, so that an idea divergent from the prevalent philosophy will be literally unthinkable. This is done partly by stripping undesirable words of unorthodox meanings. For example: The word "anarchy" still exists but it can only be understood as meaning a completely lawless and chaotic state of nihilistic destruction. It cannot be used in its old sense of "a social condition from which the institutionalized use of coercive aggression is absent" since politically such a condition no longer exists even as a concept, and is therefore nameless. Another example is "inflation." When people today refer to inflation, they do not mean an increase in the quantity of money substitutes, but the general rise in prices and wages which is the inevitable CONSEQUENCE of that increase. This semantic innovation is by no means harmless. First of all there is no longer any term available to signify what "inflation" used to signify. It is impossible to fight an evil which you cannot name. You no longer have the opportunity to resort to a terminology accepted and understood by the public when you want to describe a financial policy you are opposed to. You must enter into a detailed analysis and description of this policy with full particulars and minute accounts whenever you want to refer to it, and you must repeat this bothersome procedure in every sentence in which you deal with this subject. Second, those who wish to fight inflation are diverted in their struggle away from the fundamental nature of inflation and are forced to direct their attentions to its consequences. They end up flailing at the symptoms rather than eliminating the cause. Merely snipping at the leaves of the weed rather than hacking at the root. An especially corrupting abuse of language can be seen in the ambiguous use of the words "think" and "feel." This use equivocates cognitive assessment with emotional response, and leaves the victim unable to discriminate between his thoughts and his emotions.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 51 The special function of Newspeak words is to destroy meaning. In Newspeak it is seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further than the perception that it IS heretical; beyond that point the required words are nonexistent. It would be possible to say, "government is unnecessary," but this statement could not be sustained by a comprehensible argument, because the requisite words (such as "anarchy") are not meaningfully available. An example of a phrase designed to destroy meaning is in this suggestion, made by a proponent of international trade barriers: "A more accurate name than the persuasive label 'free trade'--because who can be opposed to freedom?--is 'deregulated international commerce.'" If accepted, his proposal, that his adversaries use this mouthful of multi-syllabic obfuscation as the name of their political goal, would be the first step toward destruction of the concept "free" in the minds of his opponents. And in the minds of their audience. Nowhere is this semantic fraud more blatant than in the government's dishonest descriptions of its own activities, in which words are used merely as tools to manipulate the social environment. For example: In 1993, Congress required the Dept. of Health and Human Services to examine the feasibility of shifting some biological weapons research from the Army to the National Institutes of Health. Thus, under the direction of the Dept. of Health, the National Institutes of Health will now be engaged in germ warfare. Orwell was right--"War is Peace" or, more appropriately, "Health is Death." Perhaps the most long-lasting and widespread manifestation of the government's use of another of Big Brother's slogans ("Freedom is Slavery") is the "selective service." In Newspeak, certain words are deliberately constructed for political purposes--words which are intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them and to make it impossible for him to hold any contrary attitude. This is the explicit goal of the "Politically Correct" movement. What a Newspeak user acquires is an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshipped "false gods." He did not need to know what these gods were, and probably the less he knew about them the better for his own orthodoxy. This sort of orthodoxy was explicitly fostered during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s, when accusations of "communist!" were thrown around indiscriminately while no one, neither the accusers nor the accused, had any idea of what a communist is. Nor did they dare ask publicly, for fear of being labeled a communist merely for making the inquiry. Thomas Szasz coined the very useful word "semanticide" to designate the murder of meaning. Semanticide is the ultimate goal of Newspeak. Many words, such as "freedom," "patriotism," "liberty," etc. have been appropriated by wanna-be tyrants (especially by Right-wing political Conservatives) who use those words to designate the opposite of their historical (and cognitively correct) meanings, thus leaving the majority of people with no way to distinguish libertarians from our totalitarian enemies. Conservative zealots claiming to speak in the name of libertarianism have fomented a dangerous agenda that is corrupting our most cherished ideals and deceiving others about our fundamental principles. Because of this semantic corruption, you will frequently hear the claim that libertarianism has not been defined. Remember this: the fact that you have encountered some ignorant and/or dishonest people does not absolve you from determining the truth. The only way I can see to combat this dismal situation is to attack it not on its surface, by making futile attempts to persuade people of the correct definitions of those critical words, but at its roots, by renouncing epistemological relativism and asserting the idea that DEFINITIONS ARE NOT ARBITRARY. Unless your audience realizes this, any argument you engage in will be merely a verbal battle of wits with your adversary--the outcome dependent on who can make the most clever use of phrases that are meaningless in the minds of the audience. The result of Newspeak is boastful inarticulateness on the part of those who haven't anything to say, and helplessness on the part of those who have. "Those who cannot carry a train of consequences in their heads; nor weigh exactly the preponderancy of contrary proofs and testimonies may be easily misled to assent to positions that are not probable." ... John Locke People who can't analyze and dissect their language cannot separate meaning from words and thus cannot perceive an existence separate from the words used to describe it. For those people, the Law of Identity is quite literally meaningless. After they have been told enough lies, they may just abandon what feeble and implicit hold they ever had on the Law of Identity. When they end up as schizophrenics you can do anything you want with them, EXCEPT make them technologically competent.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 52 Freedom of the mind requires not only the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity, but the one that removes awareness of other possibilities.

* Brainwashing These are the elements of brainwashing. At least some of them are used, in greater or lesser intensity, by all authoritarian organizations, and by anyone attempting to assert psychological dominance. Get your victim at your mercy. Take away his ordinary inputs--his accustomed environment. Isolate him and deprive him of social support, to develop an intense concern for himself. Deprive him of all opportunities for self-expression. Control his perceptions, with darkness or bright light, or by creating a barren environment and restricting movement, to fix the victim's attention on his predicament and to eliminate distractions. Inundate him with strong and novel sensory experiences. Subject him to physical degradation, by prevention of personal hygiene and imposing various other humiliations, so as to reduce the victim to concern with "animal values." Induce debilitation and exhaustion, by semi-starvation, exposure, sleep deprivation and induced illness, so as to weaken the victim's physical and mental ability to resist. Demonstrate omnipotence, to suggest the futility of resistance. This is carried out by such techniques as pretending to take cooperation for granted or demonstrating complete control over the victim's fate. Issue threats, to cultivate anxiety, dread and despair. Enforce trivial demands, to develop a habit of compliance. Perform occasional indulgences, such as unpredictable favors and unexpected kindness, to provide motivation for compliance.

* Prolefeed One element of brainwashing, "control of perceptions," gives rise to the phenomenon of "Prolefeed." Prolefeed augments Newspeak, in that its effect is to render people less able to make rationally-based value judgments. In doing so, it leaves them more receptive to judgments imposed on them by authority figures. Responsibility for the implementation of Newspeak must rest mainly with the government, and those who worship it, but Prolefeed is the product of the advertising industry of America. Corporate advertising in America is likely the largest single psychology project ever undertaken by the human race, yet its stunning psychological impact remains mostly ignored by mainstream psychologists. (But not completely ignored: the February 2001 issue of Scientific American magazine contains a splendid essay "The Science of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini, in which he presents an analysis of the techniques used to influence people's judgments.) There is nothing unethical in attempting to persuade people to purchase your products, but the techniques the advertising industry has used in pursuing this goal have had unforeseen results which are psychologically and intellectually devastating. Advertising, both commercial and political, has resulted in a merciless distortion of authentic human needs and desires. The victims learn to substitute what they are told to want for what are in fact their objective needs. By the time they reach adulthood, their authentic feelings are so well buried that they have only the vaguest sense that "something" is missing from their spiritual life. Having ignored their genuine needs for so long, their souls are empty, but the emptiness is continually denied. It is far easier, in the short run, to listen to the commercials, which are always beckoning, always promising, always assuring that this time, with this product or this candidate, it will be possible to fulfill the heart's desire, than to take the initiative of making difficult independent personal judgments. Prolefeed is a format of radio and TV programming whose result is intellectually debilitating. It is a format of information presentation which, by inducing detrimental psycho-epistemological programming and deprogramming, results in severe inhibition of cognitive efficiency. The cognitive debilitation results, in part, from continuous exposure to unceasing repetition of phrases or melodies which contain just enough cognitive content to possess a minimum of intelligible meaning, thereby distracting the mind from self-generated activity, without giving the mind sufficient content for significant externally-induced


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 53 activity. Observe, please, that it is not the CONTENT of the input that induces the debility, but the FORMAT of its presentation. Consider a common phenomenon: there is a radio playing in the background at the place you are working. In order to concentrate on your work you "tune out" the radio--you make an alteration in your mental functioning which renders your conscious mind unaware of the sounds of the radio. Since your ears (unlike your eyes which can be physically closed to sensory input) are continually feeding signals into the brain, all the sound that enters the ears is transmitted into the brain. Thus there is a part of your mind that is always aware of this sound. The only way you can "tune out" the background noise is to erect a barrier between your conscious mind and that area of the subconscious mind that receives input from your ears, a barrier that prevents the awareness from getting through. The psycho-epistemological programming that erects these barriers is one of the most pernicious aspects of Prolefeed. Not just because it produces the psychological self-alienation of a divided mind, but because it inflicts a profound impairment of judgment, an impairment resulting from the conflict of the subconsciously acquired prolefeed information with consciously derived value-decisions. "You turn on the radio; if you have any soul, you go crazy." ... Richard Feynman Frequent instantaneous shifts of subject matter--e.g., interrupting programs with commercial messages--inhibit the mental function of integration and diminish the attention span of the victim, thus promoting schizophrenia. Such interruptions immediately following an information presentation can inhibit the victim from consciously evaluating the information. Thus he will be more likely to accept it subconsciously as truth, and will be left in a condition wherein the ideas in his mind have not been critically examined. Without firm awareness of its truth value, he will experience a nebulous state of uncertainty regarding his knowledge. The story line of a TV program is interrupted every several minutes by commercials. This process breaks the viewer's concentration on a single subject and, over a long period of TV viewing, instills a habit of jumping from idea to idea. How many children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder merely have a habit caused by this on/off of TV viewing? With this habit from TV already formed before children ever go to school, is it any wonder they can't concentrate for any length of time? Consider The Orienting Response, an automatic subconscious visual/auditory somatic reaction to any sudden or novel stimulus. (It's what directs the focus of your attention when a car horn beeps nearby.) It is part of our evolutionary heritage, a built-in sensitivity to movement and potential predatory threats. In this phenomenon, the brain focuses its attention on gathering more information while the rest of the body quiets down. The simple technical features of television - cuts, edits, zooms, pans, sudden noises activate the Orienting Response, thereby keeping attention focused on the screen. In ads, action sequences and music videos, these features often occur at a rate of one or more per second, thus keeping the Orienting Response continuously activated. Thus it is the form, not the content, of television that has a significant effect on the subconscious mind. We're bombarded with advertising, a steady chattering in our eyes and ears. So we learn to tune it out. In order to function, we have to make ourselves deliberately blind and deaf to a part of our environment. The advertisers know that we do this, so they increase the size, color, intensity, volume, and repetitions of their ads. They give us more, better, and different ads. And we try even harder to tune them out. Commercials are designed to catch your attention and instill remembrance, an increasingly difficult process because its effects dampen its effectiveness. The din eventually gets painful because it is cumulative. People unable to hear one another speak raise their voices--which encourages their neighbors, who can't hear themselves speak, to shout--which makes their neighbors, who can't hear themselves shout, scream. Eventually we are so tuned out that we can no longer see the sky, the stars, the souls of our lovers, and the reality of the world we live in. Such programming causes severe value hierarchy distortions. It does this by presenting mundane things as having supreme importance. Consider an advertisement showing a man about to bite into a hamburger. His facial expression clearly and blatantly portrays the idea that this hamburger is the greatest thing ever to enter his life. One wonders how he contemplates his wife when he goes home from work at night. After he has displayed such an attitude toward a hamburger, what could he have left to display toward her? Being continually bombarded with the notion that each product--whether it be a hamburger, chewing gum, the latest model Chevy, or a political candidate--is a sine qua non of the utmost value and importance, is a process that severely distorts, and even destroys, any rational value hierarchy and leaves


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 54 the victim in a judgmental vacuum, lacking a sensible means to evaluate the phenomena which are IN FACT important to his life. Years of value-depravation crush all emotions, all hope, leaving the victims with eyes that have stopped seeing, ears that have stopped hearing, and souls that have stopped living a long time ago. It is truly the twilight of the gods. It must be strenuously emphasized that people are, at least in part, their own censors, and thus are themselves responsible for much of the devastation I describe. They refuse to buy newspapers or watch TV shows that challenge them to think or that upset their prejudices, so they get fed this dreadful pap. The goddam TV does, after all, have an on-off switch! But this cultural phenomenon is extremely difficult to break out of because, as you can deduce from what I have said above, a primary effect of Prolefeed is to render you incapable of perceiving the primary effect of Prolefeed. In somewhat the same way that being a chronic liar eventually changes your soul in such a way that you are no longer able to perceive the spiritual effects of being a chronic liar. It is no mere coincidence that the rise of popular radio and TV programming in the 1950s and its widespread availability (the transistor was invented in 1948) immediately preceeded the plunge of the SAT scores of American high-school students from 1963 onward. (See my essay on Education in America.) See reference Prolefeed has had a devastating effect on American society. Mammoth quantities of brutally superficial distractions bombard and fill the minds of today's youth, resulting all too often in a complete inability to express anything even remotely seeming to ensue from a rational thought process. Children grow up in an environment of commercial and political lies and manipulations that is tantamount to cultural child abuse. Every time an official lie is told it teaches young people not to trust social institutions. Thus when something like the AIDS epidemic comes, they will ignore admonitions to protect themselves. Society reaps what it sows in the way it nurtures its children. Psychological stress sculpts the brain to exhibit various antisocial, though adaptive, behaviors. Stress, whether it comes in the form of physical, emotional or sexual traumas or through exposure to violence, famine or pestilence, can set off a ripple of hormonal changes that permanently wire a young, growing brain to cope with a malevolent world. Once these key brain alterations occur, there may be no going back. Throughout this chain of events, violence and abuse pass from generation to generation. But while you are contemplating lugubriously the weltanschauung of Orwell's book, keep this in mind: the world Orwell depicts can have only a limited actualization. For this reason: the men in the white coats KNOW what is real. They HAVE to know. Without those men, there could be no technological civilization--there would be only barbarism. NO society rises above barbarism except by recognition of the Facts of Reality by someone who is instrumental in the conduct of society. This is why no matter what the State decrees, someone HAS to know reality: the scientists who conceive material wealth; the engineers who translate those conceptions into functioning technology; the mechanics who maintain this technology. These people HAVE to be in cognitive contact with objective reality. That cognitive contact is an unconditional prerequisite to the existence of a technological civilization, and it is a continual limitation on government omnipotence. And here you can see one of the major contributions of Objectivism: Rand has made philosophically EXPLICIT the function of the men in the white coats (who are only briefly and tangentially referred to by Orwell). This explicit depiction carries within it the seed of destruction for Statism.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 55

Chapter 3 THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT DEFINITIONS * On the Importance of Correct Definitions * How to Make a Definition * Concept Reduction Some approaches to defining a few interesting concepts * Certainty * Probability * To Be * References * Envy * Instinct * Luck * Standard vs. Purpose - Man qua Man - to Survive or to Flourish * Suicide * Nonsense * Compromise

* On the Importance of Correct Definitions "Man lives in a world of ideas. Any phenomenon is so complex that he cannot possibly grasp the whole of it. He abstracts certain characteristics of a given phenomenon as an idea, then represents that idea with a symbol, be it a word or a mathematical sign. Human reaction is almost entirely reaction to symbols. When we think, we let symbols operate on other symbols in certain, set fashions--rules of logic, or rules of mathematics. If the symbols have been abstracted so that they are structurally similar to the phenomena they stand for, and if the symbol operations are similar in structure and order to the operations of phenomena in the real world, we think sanely. If our logic-mathematics, or our wordsymbols, have been poorly chosen, we think not-sanely." ......Robert Heinlein. A definition is a statement designed to "identify the specific meaning of a concept, isolate the facts of reality to which the concept refers and of which the concept is a mental integration." (Jan63 - 3) It serves "to keep a concept distinct from all others, to keep it connected to a specific group of existents" (Jul67 9), or, as Harry Browne so aptly put it: "to draw a sharp line between what IS a certain thing and what isn't." "The purpose of defining one's terms is to afford oneself the inestimable benefit of knowing what one is talking about." (Jan63 - 3) (References are to various issues of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER.) If one does not scrupulously afford oneself this benefit, the facts of reality will, sooner or later, correct one's error. Obviously, there are some mistaken definitions that will be corrected immediately as they are acted upon. If, for example, you define a hot stove as a chair, your mistake will be immediately and warmly chastised. There are other mistakes, however, that will not be so quickly righted. If you improperly identify an onion seed as a carrot seed, your mistake will not be corrected for weeks or even months. In the meantime you will have dug your garden, planted your seed, fertilized it, watered it, and carefully cultivated it until harvest time. Only then will you uncover your error, but by then you will have wasted a great deal of time and energy in the pursuit of an improper course of action, and you will then also be stuck with the consequences of your mistake: eating onions instead of carrots until next spring. Some mistakes will take even longer to be rectified. The more abstract the concept, the less immediately will reality show you your error. If you incorrectly define marriage, the tragic result may be a divorce court--but this "setting right" of


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 56 the situation may not come about until after years of domestic suffering. If you mistakenly define the principles of business management, you will eventually find yourself in a bankruptcy court; but again, it may take decades of toil and effort before the facts of reality catch up with you. And finally, if a group of men establishing a new country mistakenly define the practice of freedom, two centuries later their descendents may wake up one morning to find themselves in a concentration camp. Let thy words be keen heeders of truth, for truth is no heeder of words.

* How to Make a Definition The basic structure of a definition was first identified by Aristotle, and it was he who gave us the proper procedure for making a definition: Place the class of entity you wish to define in a wider class called a genus, all members of which share common characteristics: Man is a living being. Then add a qualification to the statement of inclusion which differentiates the class to be defined from all the other members of the wider class: Man is a rational living being. For a precise and detailed account of the cognitive process involved, see Ayn Rand's INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVIST EPISTEMOLOGY. I recommend also David Kelley's THE ART OF REASONING for further explanation. There are several corollary rules for carrying out this procedure: Rule of Equivalence: A definition must be true of every member of the class being defined and only of members of that class. Rule of Fundamentality: A definition must refer to the fundamental distinguishing characteristic of the thing being defined (else you will be committing the fallacy of "definition by non-essentials"). The definitive characteristic must be that which is a cause, not an effect: that which makes a thing what it is and differentiates it from all other things--that without which it would not be the kind of thing which it is. Rule of Non-Circularity: A definition must not contain any concept which, to be understood, presupposes the definition. An example of circularity is: "Democracy is a system of government which uses democratic procedures." Rule of Non-Negativity: A definition must tell what the thing IS rather than what it is NOT. Exceptions are those concepts which are inherently negative in meaning, such as orphan or bachelor. But note that a positive concept is always presupposed by such negative terms. Rule of Context: All known distinguishing aspects must be considered. The definition must account for all presently held knowledge. Rule of Clarity: A definition must not be obscure, metaphorical or poetic but must clearly state a literal and exact meaning. For example: "Truth is beauty" is a lovely poetic statement, but it is NOT a definition. Many words are vague insofar as they apply to characteristics which may be possessed in varying degrees. For example: it is impossible to draw a sharp line between those who are bald and those who are not. It is impossible to define precisely the concept of baldness. But the characteristic according to which people distinguish between those who are bald and those who are not IS open to a precise definition: it is the presence or the absence of hair on the head of a person. This is a clear and unambiguous characteristic which is established by observation and expressed by propositions about existence. What is vague is merely the determination of the point at which non-baldness turns into baldness. People may disagree with regard to the determination of this point, but their disagreement refers merely to the quantitative interpretation of the phenomenon that gives a useful meaning to the word baldness. A false definition of "rational selfishness" is that everything everyone does every moment throughout life is selfish. All this does is define "selfishness" in a way that is not helpful at all, because it makes "selfishness" all-inclusive. A word is a tool for delimiting one area of thought from others. The word becomes useless if it is defined to include everything. The word "everything" already serves that purpose quite well; we don't need a synonym. There cannot be an infinite regress of definitions. All definitions reduce ultimately to certain primary concepts, which can be specified only ostensively; axiomatic concepts necessarily belong to this category. Ostensive definitions are those which establish directly, by an appeal to experience, the relationship between a word and that to which it refers. Examples are sensory primaries like color, roughness,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 57 bitterness, and warmth; or metaphysical primaries such as Existence. One cannot place Existence into a wider class of entities. One of the worst consequences of faulty definitions is that you will be confused every time you have to compare and relate concepts. If you haven't conceptualized according to fundamentals, but instead by some superficial characteristics, then when you need to compare your concepts, for the purpose of making moral or ethical judgments, you'll be in real trouble. A definition must distinguish between essences and labels. The essences of entities are not arbitrary, as are the verbal labels by which we symbolize the entities. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet--because giving the rose another name would not make it another entity. A definition is not an arbitrary construct, but the identification of a natural phenomenon. For example: we cannot arbitrarily define "gravity". It is a phenomenon that we must discover. Once we understand it we can then define the word "gravity" based on the discovery. Defining a term is not a matter of defining it for MYself or for YOURself, but of making an identification that leads to a truthful understanding of the phenomenon. DEFINITIONS ARE NOT ARBITRARY!

* Concept Reduction (from Leonard Peikoff) Knowledge has a hierarchical structure. A hierarchy of knowledge means a body of concepts and conclusions ranked in order of logical dependence, according to each item's distance from the base of the structure--the perceptual data with which cognition begins. A hierarchy is a type of context in which the simpler data make the more complex data possible. The existence of a cognitive hierarchy does not preclude the existence of cognitive options. For example: "organism" is a higher-level concept, which one can reach only after one has conceptualized in appropriate stages a wide variety of its instances. But there is no reason why one must reach it through "cat," "dog," "rosebush," rather than, say, through "horse," "bird," "orange tree." A higher-level item is dependent on the grasp of an appropriate series of earlier items; but that series is not necessarily unique in content. The epistemological responsibility imposed on man by the fact that knowledge is contextual is the need of integration. The responsibility imposed by the fact that knowledge is hierarchical is the need of reduction. In practice, men can try to move to higher levels of cognition without properly understanding the intermediate material. They can do so through many causes, such as impatience, anti-effort, or simple error. By far the most important cause, however, is the fact that many men are content to use the concepts and conclusions of other men without understanding the steps that led to them. Such men attempt to deal with higher levels of a complex structure without having established the requisite base. As a result, their mental activity consists in building confusion on confusion, instead of knowledge on knowledge. In such a mind, the chain relating higher-level content to perceptual reality is broken; the individual's conceptual structure floats in the air, detached from facts and from cognition. Context-keeping is indispensable if men are to keep their ideas connected to reality. This is where the process of reduction becomes necessary. Reduction is the means of connecting an advanced concept to reality by traveling backwards through the hierarchical structure involved in its formation. Reduction is the process of starting with a higherlevel cognitive item and identifying in logical sequence the intermediate steps that relate it to perceptual data. Since there are often options in the detail of a learning process, one need not necessarily retrace the particular steps one initially happened to take; what one must retrace is the essential logical structure. As an example of reduction, let us take the higher-level concept "friend," and identify at least some of the intermediate concepts linking it to perceptual reality. The process of reduction consists in asking repeatedly: what depends on what? In other words: what does one have to know in order to reach and understand a given step in concept formation? We must begin with a definition. A "friend" designates a person in a certain kind of human relationship, in contrast with an acquaintance, a stranger, or an enemy. In essence, the relationship involves mutual knowledge, esteem and affection; as a result, friends take pleasure in each other's company, communicate with a high degree of intimacy, and display a mutual benevolence, each sincerely wishing the other well. To be able to identify such a complex relationship, one must obviously have formed many earlier concepts, such as "man," "knowledge," "pleasure." Let us focus on a central one


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 58 here, the concept "esteem." Again we ask: what does this concept depend on? "Esteem" designates a certain kind of favorable opinion or appraisal; one man "esteems" another when he recognizes certain character traits or qualities in the other which he considers to be of significant (moral) value. To grasp such a concept, therefore, one must first know many concepts that come still earlier, including, beneath all, the concept "value." The same root is presupposed by the concept "affection." "Affection" is an emotional response that derives from esteem, i.e., from the recognition of one's values in the character of another. If one had not yet reached the concept "value," he might very well feel something for another man, but he would be unable to identify the feeling as "affection." Now let us take another step. How does one reduce the concept "value"? "Value" is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. What earlier concepts does this presuppose? Among other things, an individual must first learn that man is a being capable of acting to gain various objects, i.e., he must grasp the concept "purpose"; and he must also learn that man has the power of selection among various purposes, i.e., he must grasp the concept "choice." Without these concepts, he cannot form any normative abstractions. such as "good" and "evil," "desirable" and "undesirable," "value" and "disvalue." One can observe men pursuing various purposes--moving to a table in order to eat a meal, lying down on a bed in order to sleep, etc.--although one cannot conceptualize "purpose" until the various elementary entities and actions involved have first been conceptualized. And one can observe and identify the act of choice introspectively, once one has processed sufficient existential data to have reached the stage of forming and distinguishing introspective concepts. The final steps backwards, in short, do bring us eventually to first-level concepts, such as "table," "bed," "man." At this point, the reduction has been completed. It ends when we reach the level of ostensive concepts, which we define by directly pointing to the entities. To sum up, here are the elements of the logical chain we have been identifying, this time in ascending order: "Men have to choose among various purposes by means of their values. This fact generates certain kinds of mutual estimates and emotions, including esteem and affection, which are the basis for a certain kind of human relation, friendship." Now what are the advantages of knowing such a chain? Part of the answer is: self-protection. For example, if someone were to say to you now: "Man is determined, 'choice' is a myth, no one can help anything he does, so we should all have compassion and be friendly to one another." Your immediate reply would be: "`Friendly?' How can you use that term?" The concept "friendship," rests on the concept "choice." If determinism is true and "choice" is a myth, then there can be no such higherlevel abstractions as "value," or "affection," or "friendship." In short, now that you know the conceptual roots of "friendship,"--the chain linking it to the facts of reality--you know the rules of its proper use and you can spot any egregious misuse. You can thus guard the clarity--the identity--of the concept in your own mind. Or if a man tells you: "I disagree with your ideas, I object to your desires, I disapprove of your associates, your actions, your choices, but we're friends anyway, because I'm criticizing you for your own good and I like you just the same," (a claim that is not so uncommon as you might think, especially among family members) you would immediately reply: "If you reject everything about me, how can you like me? For what attributes? What meaning does `friendship' have once you detach it from the concept of `values'?" Errors of this kind are common. The fallacy involved was identified for the first time by Nathaniel Branden. He called it the fallacy of the "stolen concept." The fallacy consists in using a higher-level concept while denying or ignoring its hierarchical roots. i.e.. one or more of the earlier concepts on which it logically depends. This is the intellectual equivalent of standing on the fourtieth floor of a skyscraper while dynamiting the first thirty-nine. The higher-level concept--"friendship," in the above examples--is "stolen," because the individual involved has no logical right to use it. He is an epistemological parasite: he seizes, without understanding, a term created and made possible by other men, who DO observe the necessary hierarchical structure. The reason that stolen concepts are so prevalent is that most people (even most philosophers) have no idea of the "roots" of a concept. They treat every concept as a primary, as a first-level abstraction, which means: they tear the concept from any place in a hierarchy, and thereby detach it from reality. Thereafter, its use is subject to nothing but caprice or unthinking habit, with no objective guidelines for the mind to follow. The result is confusion, contradiction, and the conversion of language into mere verbiage.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 59 The antidote to this cognitive poison is the process of reduction. Reduction completes the job of definition by taking you from the initial definition through the definitions of the next lower level, and then of the next lower, until you reach the direct perception of reality. This is the only means by which the initial definition itself can be made fully clear. Pseudo-concepts cannot be reduced to observational data--and this is the proof that such concepts are invalid. Invalid concepts are words that represent attempts to integrate errors, contradictions or false propositions, such as concepts originating in mysticism (e.g., "ghost," "god," "gremlin")--or words without specific definitions which can mean anything to anyone, such as modern anti-concepts like "extremism." Any such concept, or alleged concept, is inherently detached from reality and invalidates every proposition or process of thought in which it is used as a cognitive assertion. What is the test of an invalid concept? The fact that it cannot be reduced to the perceptual level. In other words: nothing in reality gives rise to the concept. The test is not simply that the referent is unobservable. Science, for instance, regularly refers to atoms, genes, x-rays, and other such phenomena. But in these cases one can identify the objective evidence supporting the concepts. One can define the sequence by which men were led from observations step by step to a series of conclusions, which were ultimately integrated into new concepts to designate hitherto unknown entities. In regard to the key terms of religion, by contrast, this is precisely what cannot be done. The referents of "god," "angel," and "devil" are not only unobservable; the terms themselves cannot be connected by any process to the perceptual level. This is the proof that such concepts are invalid. Reduction is necessary in regard to all higher-level thinking. Propositions too (if non-axiomatic) must be brought step by step to the perceptual level. They are based on antecedent cognitions in the chain of evidence that led to them--going back ultimately to direct observation. To a mind that does not grasp this chain, a higher-level proposition is arbitrary, non-contextual, nonobjective, i.e., detached from reality and from the requirements of human cognition. This is precisely why proof of an idea is necessary. Proof is a form of reduction. The conclusion to be proved is a higherlevel cognition, whose link to reality lies in its premises; which eventually lead back to the perceptual level. Proof, in other words, is a form of retracing the hierarchical steps of cognition. For example, it is not an axiom that "man has property rights." Property rights are a consequence of a man's right to life: which latter we can establish only if we know the nature and value of man's life; which presupposes, among other things, that objective value-judgments are possible; which presupposes that objective knowledge is possible; which depends on a certain relation between man's mind and reality, i.e., between consciousness and existence. If you do not know and conform to this kind of structure, you can neither defend property rights nor define the concept nor apply it properly. Proof, therefore, is not a process of deriving a conclusion from arbitrary premises, nor even from arbitrarily selected true premises. Proof is the process of establishing a conclusion by identifying the proper hierarchy of its actual premises, and by following backward the order of logical dependence, terminating with the directly perceptual. ***** Some approaches to defining a few interesting concepts *****

* Certainty Certainty is a state of mind in which a person perceives a correlation between his mental images and reality. Certainty is a relation between an individual mind and reality. It does not depend epistemologically on any interaction with one's fellows. It is a judgment made within the context of a state of knowledge. The knowledge need not be total--but must be sufficient to ensure that the judgment is valid. Observe that this is a philosophically neutral definition: An objectivist achieves a state of certainty when he has modified his mental images to bring them into accord with reality. A subjectivist achieves certainty when he has modified his perceived reality to bring it into accord with his mental images. Observe also that this definition allows for degrees of certainty--certainty need not be absolute: the closer the degree of correlation between the mental image and reality, the higher the degree of certainty experienced. Absolute certainty would correspond to a complete congruency between the image and reality. And the complete absence of certainty would correspond to a state wherein there was no mental image at all of the aspect of reality under consideration--a state of complete ignorance. Certainty is not an unconditional prerequisite to life's activities. One can go through life without being


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 60 certain of many things: You are uncertain every time you go hunting or fishing. You are uncertain when you plant a garden, when you look for a word in the dictionary (one of my grumbles is in not finding the word at all--or finding it accompanied by a grossly inadequate definition, such as the word "certainty"), when you go to town--with or without your umbrella (although in this last example, I am tempted to say that there is a kind of "negative certainty" involved!) A "reasonable expectation" is sufficient to cope with a vast number of situations. Are there things about which we MUST be certain? Yes, I believe there are two such things: 1. The Axiomatic Concepts. These are the foundation of human knowledge, and thus are the foundation of all subsets of human knowledge, including certainty. As Aristotle remarked, in considering axiomatic concepts: "For a principle which everyone must have who understands anything that is, is not a hypothesis.... such a principle is the most certain of all." 2. Rationality. This is the ability of the human mind to perceive and understand reality. One of the facts of reality relevant to this context is that human beings are neither omniscient nor infallible, and thus to ground the concept of certainty on either or both of these unwarranted notions is to demand something that does not exist in reality. Although certainty is required in regard to these two things, that certainty is NOT the product of an act of faith! Ayn Rand pointed out that they cannot be escaped, are implicit in all knowledge, and must be accepted and used even in any attempt to deny them. In the real world, certainty is rarely a Boolean phenomenon: it is seldom the case that you have either absolute certainty or total doubt about something. Those who attempt to impose such an alternative on the idea of certainty are implicitly assuming that a human being must be both omniscient and infallible. They assert that to have ABSOLUTE certainty about something, one must have TOTAL knowledge of that thing, and that to have absolute CERTAINTY, there must be no room for the slightest error in one's judgment. Neither omniscience nor infallibility are attributes possessed by human beings. The statement "There is no such thing as absolute certainty"--or any variation of this statement-manifests the fallacy of self-exclusion: The statement itself is intended to be absolutely certain. Kant divided the world into two domains: the domain of phenomena and the domain of noumena. Phenomena, he claimed, are events as perceived by the human mind--they are sensations. Noumena are the causes of phenomena--they are the so-called things-in-themselves, the objects that really exist. Kant concluded that human beings can never know the noumena directly: noumena are the sources of the signals that act on our senses, and we can perceive only the signals, not the sources. According to Kant, then, we cannot ever really know anything definite about the noumena. But when he says "We cannot know anything definite about them" he is saying something definite about them. Kant's statement itself explicitly asserts such definite knowledge, and is thus another example of the fallacy of self-exclusion. The notion of certainty has its roots in the process of concept formation. As Rand observed, "A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted." To form a concept, a man does not have to make the particular measurements--nor even know how to make the measurements--"he merely has to observe the element of similarity," and recognize that "the relevant measurements must exist in SOME quantity, but may exist in ANY quantity." "Similarity is grasped perceptually; in observing it, man is not and does not have to be aware of the fact that it involves a matter of measurement. It is the task of science to identify that fact." (Quotes are from INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVIST EPISTEMOLOGY, Chapter 2, which contains an extended account of the nature of the measurement process.) Note that similarity is grasped perceptually and that the integration is of percepts. As David Kelley has pointed out, the percepts are DIRECT links between Existence and Consciousness. There can be no doubt about the reality of the percepts: they are indeed certain. And here, in the percepts, is the foundation of certainty. The integration of the percepts is the first active behavior that a consciousness performs (the receipt of sensations and their integration into percepts are essentially passive processes). Here are some examples: When I go hunting--my certainty lies in the knowledge that food animals do exist and can be obtained through my efforts. My uncertainty lies in not knowing the precise location of the animals and not knowing the exact actions needed to obtain them.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 61 When I plant a garden--my certainty lies in the knowledge that food plants can be grown. My uncertainty lies in not knowing exactly what conditions are required to grow a particular plant in a particular place. When I look for a word in the dictionary--my certainty lies in the knowledge that words exist and that they can be defined. My uncertainty lies in not knowing if the particular word I want is in a particular place and has been given a suitable definition. When I go to town--I am certain that it does rain. But I am uncertain as to whether it will rain at a particular location at a particular time. This notion applies even in the realm of Quantum Physics: I am certain that electrons emit photons, but I am uncertain about the emission of a photon by a particular electron at a particular time. (It is the Probability Amplitude that describes this emission.) With regard to Rationality--my certainty lies in the knowledge that my mind can function as an accurate identifier of reality. But I may be uncertain about the accuracy of a particular application of my mind to a specific identification. My safety lies in carefully reducing the specific identification to the precise perceptual concretes upon which it is founded. The percepts are certain, and if I have correctly built my identification upon them then it too will be certain. "Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty--some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none ABSOLUTELY certain." Now we can see the flaw in this contention: the word "statements" implicitly subsumes both aspects of concept-formation. When the "statements" are about the particular measureable characteristics of phenomena, then they are open to uncertainty. But when the "statements" are integrated percepts of the phenomena, then they are certain. "If certainty is unattainable, how can we decide how close we are to it, which is what a probability estimate is?" In this question the word "certainty" means "infallably exact precision in measurement." There is no such thing--the world just isn't built this way. This is an improper definition of "certainty." A probability estimate is fundamentally not a statement about reality but a statement about my knowledge of reality. Reality is not probable--it is fact. "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." When Bertrand Russell said this, he should have put "I think" at the end of it. The flaw in Russell's remark lies in the implicit meaning of "certain of themselves." The fools and fanatics cause trouble not because of their certainty, but because of their social behavior. It is wrong to blame certainty per se for the choices and actions of people who assert certainty. That's rather like blaming guns for murder. Guns don't kill people--people kill people. Certainty "creates confidence in one's course of action as an already established fact. It provides the basis for progress into new areas unencountered previously." This is critically important to the development of man's cognitive behavior; the basic certainty of the act of conceptualizing lies at the root of all his subsequent conscious behavior. A great number of man's concepts are derived not directly from perceptual concretes, but from the integration of previously created concepts (the process Rand calls "abstraction from abstractions"). If the previously created concepts were not "already established facts" there would be no way to build reliably upon them, and man would be restricted to living a cognitive life not much higher than that of the lesser animals: restricted to a merely perceptual awareness of the world. I believe it is possible for a person to live without certainty--but only without his own inner certainty. Doing so, he goes through life as an intellectual, moral and spiritual parasite: a parasite on other people who DO possess certainty. As Branden has observed, the fundamental act of a human being is the choice "to think--or not to think." The act of concept-formation lies at the base of all other human behavior. The conviction of certainty regarding this act is a prerequisite to all thought. If you don't think, you can stay alive only by being a parasite on the thinking of others.

* Probability There is an important distinction to be made between two uses of the term "Probable." 1) It is used to express a judgment about the degree-of-belief or likelihood of a phenomenon: "I'll probably go to town this afternoon." "The ice-cream parlor will quite likely be out of strawberry again."


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 62 "The next president will surely be a varmint criminal." "It is more probable that the next president will be a varmint criminal than that the ice-cream parlor will be out of strawberry." In each case what is expressed is a surmise or conjecture--a statement of my judgment about a situation. Such judgments are not precisely quantifiable, but are combinations of my ignorance, my partial knowledge, and my extrapolations from previous experience. 2) It is used to express knowledge about the frequency of occurrence of a phenomenon: "The probability of a coin falling heads-up is 1/2" "The probability of dice showing 12 is 1/36" "It is more probable that a coin will fall heads-up than that the dice will show 12." These cases are not statements of uncertainty. They are statements expressing exact and certain knowledge--certain because the statements are based directly on perceptual observations of the facts of reality. They are descriptions of reality with as much underlying certainty as the statement "2 plus 2 make 4." This use of probability cannot be applied to a unique event; that is, an event that belongs to a class where there is only one member and no prior ones.

* To Be Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary: "to have an objective existence: have reality or actuality." "To be" is defined here by referring to the concept of existence. This is a more-or-less adequate definition of the term, but it does not convey the genuine fundamentality of the idea of existence. Consider what the function of a definition is. A proper definition will describe the fundamental nature of a term, using other terms which are fundamental to the first term. For example: "orphan" would be defined by using the term "parent". But "parent" could easily be defined without reference to the term "orphan" at all, because the idea of "parent" is fundamental to the idea of "orphan"--not the other way around. To define "parent" we must refer to terms that are fundamental to it, such as "sexually mature lifeform"--and so on, down the ladder of fundamentality. Thus we define Z in terms of Y. Y in terms of X. X in terms of W... D in terms of C. C in terms of B. B in terms of A. But do we then define A in terms of Z? No. The attic rests on the main floor. The main floor rests on the basement. The basement rests on the foundation. And the foundation rests on bedrock. But the bedrock does not rest on the attic. Sooner or later, an ultimate fundamentality is reached. In building a house, that ultimate fundamentality is the bedrock. In physics, that ultimate fundamentality is the First Law of Thermodynamics. In epistemology that ultimate fundamentality is an Axiomatic Concept. An axiomatic concept can be described, it can be explained, but it cannot be "defined" simply because there are no terms which are fundamental to it. An axiomatic concept is a term which MUST (by virtue of its very nature) be accepted and used in the act of defining any and all other terms. Indeed, one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of an axiomatic concept is the fact that it must be accepted and used even in any attempt to deny it! It is inescapable. The three axiomatic concepts are Existence, Identity, and Consciousness. That the world exists is an idea which is inherent, implicitly or explicitly, in ALL other ideas. That things which exist are what they are (have an identity) is also such an idea. And that YOU have a consciousness, which recognizes (or, if you wish, denies) this existence and identity, is another fundamental--which you accept and use in the process of any cognitive endeavor. Which is to say that you accept and use your consciousness in any act of consciousness. "To be" is a verbal expression which asserts the fact of existence.

* References Diogenes: "That you are a man, he will know when he sees you; whether a good or bad one, he will know if he has any skill in discerning the good and the bad. But if he has none, he will never know, though I write to him a thousand times." A reference is a method of obtaining information about another person. A, being unacquainted with C, and wishing to make a judgment about him, has two means of doing so: by direct observation and consultation or by referring to another person's observations, in the form of a reference provided by B, an acquaintance of C. B, however, may or may not have a previous


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 63 acquaintance with A. If A knows B then there is some justification in his asking B for information about C, because A will have made an estimate of the validity of B's powers of observation and judgment, and will therefore be able to make some valuation of the reference. If A does not know B then it is certainly not advisable for him to place much, if any, weight on the information provided by B. After all, C is certainly not going to select a reference source who would say bad things about him! If A accepts a reference from a person with whom he is not acquainted, he has gained no useful information about C, because the most undesirable people can usually provide the most impeccable references. To ask for a reference is, at best, of very limited usefulness; at worst it is an intellectual cop-out. If I want to know what kind of person you are I will make my own observations and base upon them my own judgment, I won't pass the buck to someone else.

* Envy If life on earth is, as Marx asserted, a zero-sum game, then a virulent envy must inevitably be the result. Anyone who works harder, gets ahead, and becomes better off, must be doing so at the expense of those who do not. In a free market, where men earn their wealth and distinction by trading their skills and achievements, a man's long-range failure, like his long-range success, is an objective reflection of his ability. It is precisely this inexorable rule of capitalism--"to each according to his ability"--that wounds the selfesteem of the collectivist and engenders the widespread hatred for capitalism. But there is an even worse aspect to envy: when it is the motive of a man who is willing to make himself worse off in order to bring another down to his level. Do not fool yourself by thinking that altruists are motivated by compassion for the suffering: they are motivated by hatred for the successful. To be rational is to be successful in dealing with reality. This explains much of the existing hatred for rationality. However, altruism has no power over its victims except by their own consent, which means: by their acceptance of guilt for the crime of living and of producing values--of being successful. The envy collectivists feel is not the plausibly healthy desire to attain what others have attained, but an ugly pleasure in seeing others lose what they have attained. Envy is not the desire to emulate the achievements of others, nor is it primarily the desire to steal other people's values; it is, rather, the desire to obliterate those values. The envier has little interest in acquiring the other person's possessions for himself. He would merely like to see the other person robbed, dispossessed, stripped, humiliated or hurt. His ideas are not ideas in favor of anything, but are a means of expressing his hatred of knowledge, of achievement, of happiness, of man. His tyrannous political views are just an expression of his more fundamental spiritual nihilism.

* Instinct 70/Aug/10 The unnamed but automatized connections in the mind. AS-1013 62/Oct/43 An unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without the involvement of reason. The lower conscious species may be said to survive by "instinct," if we take the term to mean some combination of reflexes, sensations and percepts. An instinct, however - whether of self-preservation or anything else - is precisely what a conceptual being does NOT have. Man cannot function or survive by the guidance of mere reflexes, sensations and percepts. Scientists who use the term "instinct" never define it, and rarely even attempt to do so. The conclusion I derive from observing them is that instinct means to them "behavior for which I am not able to adduce any other cause." Nathaniel Branden (PSE-23): "There is no such thing. There are 3 categories in terms of which animal behavior can be explained: 1. Actions which are reflexes. 2. Actions which are guided directly by an animal's pleasure-pain sensory apparatus and which involve the faculty of consciousness but not a process of learning--such as moving toward warmth. 3. Actions which are the result of learning. Behavior that has not been traced to one of these categories or to some combination of them has not been explained." Philosophers have long debated the causes of human behavior: heredity or environment? Are heroes and villains made or born? Objectivists know that nature and nurture are only part of the answer--two-


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 64 thirds, to be exact. The remaining third is individual free will. This is to say that man is capable of making choices which are causal primaries. The fundamental act of free will is the choice: to think or not to think. If you do not choose the former, then you revert to heredity and/or environment by default. They'll call the tune if you don't compose it yourself. Everybody is motivated by some continually shifting mixture of the three factors, different for each of us, at each minute in our lives. In terms of human behavior, this is the basis for all causation. History isn't determined by some mysterious impersonal machinery, but by people deciding to use their minds or sloughing off that decision. Most psychologists ignore the mind's role in mediating the connection between hormones and human behavior. Hormones, while not exercising absolute control over behavior, can assert a substantial influence over behavior. If the creature's volitional consciousness then cooperates with this influence, the result is the manifestation of complex behavior which is then attributed to instinct. Another thing to consider is the propensity for self-assertion: a baby grasps because that is the natural function-potential of its hand, just as eyes see, legs walk, and a mind thinks. You can't pick and choose with instincts: you have to take the lot. You can't allow Venus into the Pantheon and bolt the door on Mars. And once you take on such things as "fighting," "territorial imperative," and "rank order," you enter a messy quagmire of terms that have little, if any, correspondence to reality. Watching the professional behavior of the psychologists--bonding, bickering, preening, flirting and engaging in mutual rhetorical grooming--one must concur with their basic premise: they are all animals, descendants of a vast lineage of replicators sprung from a primordial pond scum of floating abstractions. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, April 1992, contains a fascinating essay by Ronald Melzack entitled PHANTOM LIMBS. This essay presents the best case I have ever seen for a phenomenon that might be called "instinct" although surprisingly, the word "instinct" does not appear in the essay. from Melzack: People who have lost an arm or a leg often perceive the limb as though it is still there. Such a phantom can feel wet, or it can itch, which can be extremely distressing, although scratching the apparent site of discomfort can actually relieve the annoyance sometimes. Some paraplegics complain that their legs make continuous cycling movements, producing painful fatigue, even though the patient's actual legs are lying immobile on the bed. The brain contains a network of neurons, that, in addition to responding to sensory stimulation, continuously generates a characteristic pattern of impulses indicating that the body is intact and unequivocally one's own. If such a matrix operated in the absence of sensory inputs from the periphery of the body, it would create the impression of having a limb even when that limb has been removed. Phantom seeing and hearing, like phantom limbs, are also generated by the brain in the absence of sensory input. People whose vision has been impaired by cataracts or by the loss of a portion of the visual processing system in the brain sometimes report highly detailed visual experiences. Phantom sights and sounds occur when the brain loses its normal input from a sensory system. In the absence of input, cells in the central nervous system become more active. The brain's intrinsic mechanisms transform that neuronal activity into meaningful experiences. The parietal lobe has been shown to be essential to the sense of self--to the recognition of the self and to the evaluation of sensory signals. Patients who have suffered a lesion of the parietal lobe in one hemisphere have been known to push one of their own legs out of a hospital bed because they were convinced it belonged to a stranger. When sensory signals from the periphery reach the brain, they pass through several systems in parallel. As the signals are analyzed, information about them is shared among the various systems and converted into an integrated output, which is sent to other parts of the brain. Somewhere in the brain the output is transformed into a conscious perception. As a system analyzes sensory information, it imprints its characteristic neurosignature on the output. The specific neurosignature of an individual would be determined by the pattern of connectivity among neurons in the system--that is, by such factors as which neurons are connected to one another and by the number, types and strengths of the synapses. When sensory input activates two brain cells simultaneously, synapses between the cells form stronger connections. Eventually the process gives rise to whole assemblies of linked neurons, so that a signal going into one part of an assembly spreads through the rest, even if the assembly extends across broad areas of the brain. The connections of this neuromatrix are primarily determined not by experience but by the genes. The


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 65 matrix, though, could later be sculpted by experience, which would add or delete, strengthen or weaken, existing synapses. I think the matrix is largely prewired because many people who were born without an arm or a leg do nonetheless experience a vivid phantom. Under normal circumstances, then, the myriad qualities of sensation people experience emerge from variations in sensory input. This input is both analyzed and shaped into complex experiences of sensation and self by the largely prewired neuromatrix. Yet even in the absence of external stimuli, much the same range of experiences can be generated by other signals passing through the neuromatrix--such as those produced by the spontaneous firing of neurons in the matrix itself or the spinal cord or the periphery. Regardless of the source of the input to the matrix, the result would be the same: rapid spread of the signals throughout the matrix and perception of a limb located within a unitary self, even when the actual limb is gone. ******** end of Melzak ******* It seems my Tabula may not be entirely Rasa.

* Luck Luck means to prosper or succeed through chance or good fortune. Lucky, fortunate, happy, and providential mean meeting with unforseen success. Lucky stresses the agency of chance in bringing about a favorable result. Fortunate suggests being rewarded beyond one's deserts. Happy combines the implications of lucky and fortunate with a stress on being blessed. Providential implies the help or intervention of a higher power. "There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe. 'Good luck' follows careful preparation; 'bad luck' comes from sloppiness." ... Heinlein The laws of physics don't care whether you cross your fingers. "Every scientist hopes for the good fortune to recognize one of nature's suprises and the good sense to make the most out of it." ... Robert Hazen Luck is merely professionalism and attention to detail, it's your awareness of everything that is going on around you; it's how well you know and understand your environment and your own limitations. Luck is the sum total of your abilities. You make your own luck. If you think your luck is running low, you'd better get busy and make some more. "Luck favors the prepared mind." ... Pasteur Luck does not go about in search of a fool. Lucky people tend to be people who give luck a chance to happen. Why were you at that place? Why were you doing what you were doing? If that is luck, then it is luck every time a batter hits a ball. When Napoleon's eagle eye flashed down the list of officers proposed for promotion to generals, he used to scribble in the margin of a name: "Is he lucky?"

* Standard vs. Purpose - Man qua Man - to Survive or to Flourish A standard is the basis upon which rests or which makes possible the existence of a purpose. The two things, while related, are not identical and should not be confused with one another. Consider a house. Its standard is the foundation which it is built upon. Its purpose is the function of providing shelter for people. You can see that it could not fulfill its purpose without having its standard; but observe also that its standard is not the reason for its existence. Now consider a man. His standard is his life--the life which is manifested in his biological mechanism. His purpose is also his life--but here "life" is used in a different sense, meaning the process of achieving values. I will refer to these two different aspects of life by the terms B-life and V-life. In the Objectivist writings there is considerable emphasis on the idea that "man's life is the standard of values." (Here is meant B-life.) There is also much emphasis placed on the idea that "man's life qua man" (V-life) is the purpose of man's existence. Unfortunately, there is too little attention paid to differentiating between the two quite different aspects of the term "life" which are being considered. The result is that many people think in terms of B-life when they should be using the term V-life. An example is the man who claims that, if faced with a terrible situation in which he had to choose between saving his own life or saving his wife's (or child's) life, he would, according to the principles of Objectivism, have to save his own life, because, after all, Objectivism tells him that his own biological existence is the most important value he


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 66 can hold, doesn't it? This is surely not what Objectivism implies, nor is it what Rand meant to say. The extremes of living are B-life and V-life. The first is the foundation and the second is the highest purpose. The seeming ambiguity in the Objectivist morality arising from a confusion of these two ideas has resulted in two schools of thought: the Survivalists and the Flourishers. But the choice to "live" implies BOTH of these aspects of life. The choice must include all the things that characterize a HUMAN life, the only kind of life we are able to choose, if we are to be human. "Man's life" means life lived in accordance with the principles that make man's survival qua man possible. Ultimately, all comments on this subject must be at least somewhat circular. "Qua man" refers to a creature that has, as do all things, a specific identity. Concomitant to that identity are specific needs. "Man's life qua man" refers to a life lived so as to accomodate those needs. Though (contrary to the Survivalists) Rand wanted people to aspire to more than mere physical survival, she also saw (contrary to the Flourishers) that such aspirations required biocentric-survival roots. Thus Objectivism is a synthesis of both Survivalist and Flourisher concerns: the Survivalists' concern with a foundation for morality, and the Flourishers' concern for providing men with more-thanmere-subsistence moral guidance. The "self" at the root of the Objectivist morality is not "self qua physical body," but "self qua human being." And if we interpret "self- preservation" to mean "selfhood-preservation," or "personhoodpreservation" then the false alternative of "survive versus flourish" simply evaporates. Objectivism offers the world a morality that is firmly rooted in biological reality, yet rich enough to span all the complex contextual considerations of human life on earth - a morality that supports and sustains human life, and which also makes human life worth living. However, a morality designed to show in detail how to flourish is a mistaken thing to ask for, since every human being is a specifically distinct and different entity. "Flourishing," for a particular life, means applying the basic principles derived from "survival" morality to any of an infinite number of possible individual contexts. If Ayn Rand were to have discovered the physics of baseball, we would be wrong to criticize her by exclaiming, "But she says nothing about how to be a good shortstop or a good catcher's mitt manufacturer or a good baseball card collector." There is, in fact, no way for her to do all of this. Individuals with such specific interests must figure out the specific techniques for themselves, using their power of reason. Those who want more than basic moral principles need to consult technical manuals, self-help books and other sources of special information, rather than fooling themselves into thinking that success in life can come from a detailed recipe provided by anyone other than themselves. To demand such a detailed recipe is to demand: "Tell me what to do! Give me not merely principles, but all their specific applications. Give me the recipe for success so I can avoid having to choose for myself--so I can avoid the effort of having to think about how to apply general principles to my own specific situation." It amounts to an attempt to escape from the requirement that each individual must make his own choices and accept responsibility for his own life and success. The philosophy of Objectivism is very much all-encompassing, but one must be able to conceptualize and abstract from principles rather than demand a plethora of specific examples for guidance. The concrete problems one encounters in life cannot be dealt with as isolated random events. They must be considered in the general context of one's life-goals, and the only way to do this is to think in principles. Objectivism doesn't provide a "Dear Abby" list of personalized answers to specific questions but it does provide answers, if you know how to derive them, and the best way is to start at the foundation, by absorbing and integrating Objectivism as a whole philosophy, then abstracting principles from that foundation, and then applying those principles to the specific situations of your own personal life. You are the person that YOU choose to be, and the "purpose" of your life is what YOU choose for it to be. You shouldn't try to get these things from any external source. Given the biocentric precept that volition is a first cause, you must CHOOSE to invest your life with purpose, else you will become (by default) what Rand so aptly described as the most contemptible of all people: the man without a purpose. Or worse: the man whose purpose is determined by someone else's choices. Just as you must choose the values that invest your SELF with purpose, so you must also invest your personal relationships with appropriate internal value. You must be explicitly aware of the value that accompanies each of your relationships--of the importance that lies within them. This is especially true of sex. Since sex is the source of the greatest physical pleasure available to a human being, you must be punctilious in choosing the value of the people you have sex with, lest you cheapen yourself spiritually.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 67 This explains why promiscuity is a bad practice: it links very high physical pleasure with low (or nonexistent) spiritual value. You can end up trading everything that makes your life fundamentally meaningful for a few minutes of feeling good. Flourishing and investiture: Is your life a field of weeds, or have you made it into a cultivated garden of blossoming flowers?

* Suicide There are some situations in which the price of staying alive can be unacceptable for a person who values a truly human existence: Saving the life of a loved one (her death is the price). Fighting for freedom (slavery is the price). If life can have nothing more to offer a person at that price then his dying is not a sacrifice. He knows what human existence is and he will not accept anything less. He is unwilling to endure a non-human state of existence, with escape from death, not the achievement of life, as the best he can hope for. Selfdestruction in such contexts may amount to the tortured cry: "Man's life means so much to me that I will not settle for anything less. I will not accept a living death as a substitute." Recall Galt's words to Dagny at the time when he is about to be captured: "But if they get the slightest suspicion of what we are to each other, they will have you on a torture rack.... At the first mention of a threat to you, I will kill myself.... I do not care to see you enduring a drawn-out murder. There will be no values for me to seek after that--and I do not care to exist without values." This same motivation can be observed in the final scenes of Hugo's TOILERS OF THE SEA. Both Galt and Gilliatt realized quite well that the purpose of living is the achievement of values, not merely the continuance of one's biological processes; that there is a difference between just staying alive, and having something worthwhile to live for. When the quest to pursue exalted human values is impaired in some fundamental way, then life can be truly no longer worth living. In the process of living your life you may begin to incorporate certain values into your very concept of what your life is. Thus you can reach a point where life might not be worth living if you lost those values. If tragedy strikes, you may quite properly decide to invest the balance of your life to preserve one of those values. That is, you may spend (not sacrifice) your life to save a beloved child, spouse, or friend. Once you have "invested" heavily into one of these "assets," the prospect of losing the asset may become unacceptable. You may decide to spend the remainder of your life on one final act of value-achievement. Every life forms an inevitable trajectory that ends in death. The difference in people's attitudes toward death is that some have chosen to acknowledge and follow that trajectory, while others have been taught to ignore and evade it. While contemplating senility one day, for a terrifying moment I was actually aware of myself not as a human being but as a vulnerable collection of aging cells and systems with blood and plasma pumping through hardening veins and arteries, into alveolae necrotic with tars and deadly oils, driven by a knotted and deteriorating muscle in my chest that could fail at any time and starve my muscles and sinews into bluish submission and collapse, my brain into an anoxemic pulp. And if that were to happen, I might be dead, or whatever passes for dead with those ghouls of the medical profession, but the doctors and their familiars would gather me up out of the snow, strip my puffy body into shameful nakedness, plug me into those terrible machines, and keep me... alive? No, hardly that--functioning--yes, that's it--functioning as a vegetable functions...forever. Such a fate is too horrifying to think about! Far better to die with dignity while I am still able to do so. It seems better that I should seek out my God in a timely manner than that He should find me clinging in desperate senility to a life beyond the end of all hope, refusing to depart until I was witless, unmanned, and unable to stand in His presence. If I have to die, then it's best to do so before I see everything I love, the land, the animals, the children, all destroyed by government gone berserk. Freely choosing to die may be the ultimate manifestation of free will. Assisted Suicide: Is it proper to help someone kill himself? Yes. He has a right to live his life--or end it--according to HIS choices, nobody else's.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 68 But how about selling him cigarettes, or alcohol, or other destructive drugs? The moral duty of a human being is to choose a life that accords with human nature. The best such choices are those that enhance human nature--not those that degrade it. It would not be ethically improper to sell him drugs, but it would not be the decent thing to do. By "decent" vs. "indecent" I mean actions that contribute to another person's choices to enhance vs. degrade his nature as a human being. Death is a normal, natural phenomenon; under the appropriate conditions it is proper to end a life, but it is not proper to contribute to its degeneracy. HE is responsible for how he uses the stuff he buys. YOU acquire ethical culpability only if you know he is going to use the stuff to injure OTHER people. What he does to himself need not be your ethical concern, but the consequences of what YOU do should be of moral concern to you. Don't contribute to degeneracy.

* Nonsense That which is expressed in a way that I find incomprehensible. In considering "what is nonsense?" I began with the notion that nonsense is something that manifests a denial of the Law of Identity. This would define it as a metaphysical concept. But then, how would I be able to identify nonsense when I encounter it? Oh sure, some things I can see immediately as nonsense. They are a subset of the things that I can understand. But what of other things which I cannot understand? Like the Tensor Calculus--might that be nonsense? I have no way of determining. And the conundrum cannot be resolved by reference to higher level intellects either. For example: The IDEA of my little computer would have been nonsense to Archimedes (I suppose the computer itself would have been magic to him), thus it is clear that a perfectly sensible idea can be regarded as nonsense--even to someone endowed with the highest level of intellectual acuity. Therefore, if it is considered as a metaphysical concept, there is no way that "nonsense" can be precisely identified. This leads me to believe that it can only be accurately considered as an epistemological concept. It then becomes relative to the person who is making the identification. Thus, just as one man's meat is another man's poison, one man's sense can be another man's nonsense. As the Red Queen said: "You may call it 'nonsense' if you like, but I've heard nonsense compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!"

* Compromise A compromise is an adjustment of conflicting claims by mutual concessions. But this means that both parties agree upon some fundamental shared attribute or principle which serves as a basis for the adjustment. It is only in regard to concretes or particulars implementing a mutually accepted basic principle that compromise can occur. A compromise is a negotiated adjustment of the quantity of some phenomenon, thus a compromise cannot be applied between two disparate phenomena. There cannot be a compromise between a phenomenon and its negation. For example, between theft and non-theft. If I want to steal $10 from you and I respond to your protest by suggesting that we "compromise" and I will steal only $5--this is no compromise! It is relinquishment, by you, of your principle of non-theft--and acceptance, again by you, of my principle of theft. Once you have accepted the principle of theft, then we can indeed compromise--on how much theft you will be subjected to. Compromise is possible only on terms of equality--that is, between ability and ability, not between ability and incompetence, nor between intelligence and stupidity, nor between trade and theft. Compromise must be between equals in kind, which might differ in degree, but it can't be between opposite kinds. You can compromise between 5 lbs and 7 lbs, but you can't compromise between 5 lbs and 7 gallons.


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Chapter 4 ECONOMICS FROM AN OBJECTIVIST VIEWPOINT * Objective vs. Subjective Economic Value * History * The Corporate Enterprise * Political Power vs. Economic Power * Property * What is property? * The right to property * Why must we recognize property rights? * Philosophical underpinnings * Ownership * John Locke on Property * Some questions about the Lockean thesis * Intellectual Property - Information as Property * Bibliography * Capitalism * Wealth * The Need For Money * The Evolution of Money and the Nature of inflation * The Effects of Inflation Several miscellaneous issues * Foundations * Bootstrap Economics * Economic Calculations * Agriculture in China: An example of central control vs. individual control * The Tragedy of the Commons * The Public Goods Problem * Fascism-Communism * Marx * The Luddite Phenomenon * Liability * Productivity * Fair Trade

* Objective vs. Subjective Economic Value Keep in mind that the term "subjective value" has a specialized meaning in the field of economics. Here, "subjective value" means merely "that which is of value to a subject," that is, to an acting human. The economic function of the term "subjective value" is to emphasize the fact that things don't have value in and of themselves apart from the value placed on those things by human beings. The economic ideology of the feudal system was contained in the phrases "fair price" and "just wage." Prices and wages were seen as ethical judgments of worth while supply and demand were viewed as economically irrelevant. The modern idea of prices and wages as pragmatic devices for allocating resources, implying no ethical judgment, came into existence only during the Renaissance. Under the feudal system the economic influence of supply and demand on prices arose only in the worst possible times: during famine or war. And the steep rises in prices during those times were considered an outrage perpetrated by the sellers who set them. People had not yet learned the TANSTAAFL precept: that you can't get something for nothing. Most still have not learned this today.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 70 For many years men sought in vain for some objective standard of value, a "fair" price, a "just" wage, an unvarying measure of the intrinsic worth of an object or service. But no such measure exists, simply because "value" has no meaning other than in relation to living beings; the value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, not to the thing itself. The most commonly proposed answer to their quest was that the exchange value of a product is the amount of time put into the making of it. For instance, if a baker worked an hour to bake a loaf of bread, anyone else should be willing to give up an hour's work for that bread. But this scheme leaves the baker with no way to decide how much of his time to devote to baking bread rather than cakes or tarts. Thus this "objective value" idea always led to economic nonsense--and it continues to do so today. The Marxian definition of value is absurd: all the work you care to add will not turn a mud pie into an apple tart; it remains a mud pie. Likewise, unskillful work can easily subtract value: an incompetent cook can turn wholesome dough and fresh apples, valuable already, into an inedible mess with a value of zero. Eventually it was deduced (by Carl Menger) that the exchange value of a product is simply whatever anyone else will give for it in a voluntary trade. In such a trade, each participant evaluates, in terms of his own personal scale of values, what he gives up, and compares this with what he receives. The ratio at which these items compare can then become the basis for a price--the only possible realistic price. In this way the personal choices of each individual participant, all balancing against each other, comprise a dynamic flow of commerce which would be a free market. Menger showed that the free market is just free people making free choices about their own values. From this was derived the concept of the market as an information system, and the realization that the evaluations underlying economic choices are of a subjective nature which makes impossible any objective measurement of the motivations underlying them. The related phenomenon of "cost" is also inherently linked to choice. It is that which the choice-maker gives up when he selects one alternative rather than another. Cost consists of his own evaluation of the benefit that he anticipates having to forego as a result of his choice.

* History The failure of Charlemagne's successors to establish a consolidated regime in Western Europe and the eventual disintegration of real political power into the hands of a multitude of local barons resulted in a vacuum of centralized authority. With the decline of the feudal system at the end of the Middle Ages, the absence of centralized political power left an emerging merchant class with the opportunity to establish the commercial institutions which were the foundation of the industrial world we live in today. The prerequisite for the birth of these economic endeavors was the existence of a wide scope within which trade could be conducted with freedom from coercion by political authorities. (In a word, Anarchy.) This freedom also opened the door to the extensive development of towns and cities, some of which were virtually independent political entities outside the feudal system. During the 16th through the 18th centuries, maritime trade with overseas markets was at once a major field of economic growth and an area intractably resistant to medieval principles of political control. The efforts of the emerging nation-states to control maritime commerce lacked the universal recognition necessary to confer legitimacy and were, on the contrary, competing, contradictory, and mutually selfdefeating. The political/economic situation in China was quite a bit different. The Imperial Examination determined entry into the bureaucracy and thus assured the continuation of a centralized elite, drawing into itself the best brains of each generation. The basic ideology of the mandarinate was opposed to the value-systems of the merchants. Capital accumulation in Chinese society could indeed occur, but the application of it to permanently productive industrial enterprises was strongly restricted by the scholarbureaucrats, as indeed was any other social action which might threaten their supremacy. It may not be a coincidence that modern Japan, which led China in the adoption of Western institutions to its economy, grew out of a politically decentralized feudal society. For the European governments, the timing was wrong; they came to power too late to prevent the rise of capitalism, and their only recourse for expressing statist values was a gradual, Fabian assertion of authority over the aspects of capitalism not too mercurial to elude their grasp. Western governments are still engaged in this struggle today.


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* The Corporate Enterprise The conduct of economic affairs over time periods of substantial length required the emergence of an independent economic organism, above and beyond the individuals engaged in economic activity. The huge enterprises (railroads, steel mills, factories) that evolved during the Industrial Revolution required the tying up of capital in amounts, and over periods of time, unprecedented in medieval commerce. The life of the assets and the time needed to recover the investment often exceeded the life expectancy of the mere mortals charged with their management. The two great authorities of the Middle Ages were the feudal aristocracy and the Church. Neither engaged in the relationships of trust and confidence needed for long-term economic association. To the medieval merchant, accustomed to keeping his wealth protected against the hazards of political extortion or war, a tie-up of capital for a period far beyond the range of his personal foresight would have seemed insane. But gradually, appreciable numbers of these merchants (those who invested in corporations) came to believe that other businessmen (those who managed the corporations) were honest, diligent, and could be trusted. As this trust developed, many business transactions that had formerly occurred in separate ways in various distinct ventures came to be included in one conceptual unit, the corporate enterprise: the publicly-held corporation with marketable stock. Such trust presupposes a widely shared sense of business ethics, and that sense of business ethics could hardly have been inherited from the teachings of the Catholic Church or from the feudal aristocracy. The contempt which the clergy and the aristocracy felt for the merchant class could only have encouraged the merchants to develop a code of honor based on punctilious business relationships--a behavior strikingly absent from the aristocratic code and emphasizing the profound difference between the two.

* Political Power vs. Economic Power All political systems rest upon a foundation of theft. The ultimate source of political power, the wealth of the state, is the act of theft called taxation. The distinction between politics and economics is the distinction between the power to expropriate and the power to produce. Politics is also characterized by other types of coercion than the theft of wealth, but it is this act of theft that constitutes the economic foundation of political systems, whereas other forms of economic activity (excluding non-governmental theft) rest on the production of wealth rather than its expropriation. On the one hand lies economic power, exercised by means of a positive: by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value. On the other hand is political power, exercised by means of a negative: by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the government's tool is fear. The power of a politician is the power to impose punishment on people who fail to obey his commands. Even to the extent that he CAN grant rewards, those rewards themselves consist of expropriated wealth. The power of a businessman is the power to grant rewards (in the form of produced wealth) to people who cooperate with him. His only power to punish is the power to withhold the rewards. The businessman must produce something consumers are willing to buy at a price that consumers are willing to pay, and he must compete in a marketplace for the favor of the consumers. He must persuade consumers to buy his product, but the politician can coerce them into buying something whether they want it or not. Under government there are winners and there are losers. Unlike the free market, for every beneficiary of government action there is a victim. In a political process, the values of the winners are imposed upon the losers, and the losers are powerless to reject them. But in a free market, majorities and minorities can both win, because a free market is not a zero-sum institution. In a market it is possible for numerous large and powerful economic interests to coexist and prosper in the same economic territory. There is so little clarity in either economic or political analysis because in the minds of most people the two are all muddled up together and when people speak of "power" they make no distinction between the power to coerce and the power to produce. For man to achieve a human state of life and civilization, three conditions are necessary: freedom, capitalism, and a rational code of ethical principles to guide his social behavior. To men who use reason and are free to interact cooperatively, nature gives more and more. To those who turn away from reason,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 72 are not free, or who interact destructively, it gives less and less. With the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, the first two of these conditions were achieved, to a considerable extent. The result was the transformation of the world. It was the people of the USA, with a government too small and weak to significantly inhibit economic activity, who implemented the principle of laissez-faire capitalism--of free trade in a free market--to the greatest extent. In America, prior to the 20th century, men's productive activities were predominantly left free of governmental restrictions. The result was the creation, in the brief period of a century and a half, of a standard of living unequaled by the sum total of mankind's development up to that time. Capitalism--and civilization--are declining because men failed to achieve the third condition necessary for a human state of existence: a rational code of ethics appropriate to man's nature. It is the principled foundation for such a code that Ayn Rand has provided. Most people today have not learned to distinguish between government wealth transfers and wealth earned in a free market. This ignorance, coupled with Christianity's inherent aversion to commerce, induces people to feel envy when others become rich through market activity. The consequence of this envy is a clamor for increasing government intervention in the marketplace. But that intervention is always counterproductive, causing more problems than it was intended to solve. The line which divides the realm of wealth from the realm of poverty is roughly that which divides freely produced and marketed goods and services from government-controlled activities. The solution to economic problems caused by government does not lie in devoting still more wealth to an institution inherently incapable of being a producer. Thus it is that, just as people can use a TV without understanding anything about how it works, America has become wealthy but Americans don't understand why. And in their ignorance they are destroying the economic foundations that made their wealth possible. Much of the rest of the world suffers from a related form of shortsightedness. The belief that the wealth of the West springs from its factory system gives rise to an impulse in the countries of the Third World to equip themselves with the trappings of modern technology--an impulse exemplified by the Soviet Union's five-year plans a half-century ago. The severely limited success of these ventures results from their lack of appropriate economic foundations. In the West, the development of commercial relationships preceded the rise of modern industrial institutions by many years. Western economies had been growing with striking success for more than a century before the large industrial corporations emerged. This growth, and its concomitant capital accumulation, were the foundation for the subsequent development of the Western standard of living.

* Property * What is property? * The right to property * Why must we recognize property rights? * Philosophical underpinnings * Ownership * John Locke on Property * Some questions about the Lockean thesis * Intellectual Property - Information as Property * Bibliography

* What is property? Property is wealth produced or acquired without coercing others. Any object which requires the application of human knowledge and action in order to become useful to human existence, becomes property by virtue of (and by right of) those who apply the knowledge and effort. * The right to property The right to property is the social condition in which one is able to take the actions necessary to create or to justly acquire property and to make exclusive use of it and to dispose of it; it does not mean that other people have any obligation to provide the objects or the actions.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 73 * Why must we recognize property rights? This is not quite a valid question. The proper question is: "Why must we establish a social institution which ensures property rights?" All action takes place on some piece of real estate and employs some physical object. In the absence of criteria for non-conflicting ownership, men could not know who owns what objects, or which actions are consistent with this ownership and with the rights of other people. The question "Why should people respect the rights of others?" amounts to the questions: "Why should people respect the facts of reality?" or "Why should people be rational?" But these are circular questions which presume their own answer. The concept "why" is applicable only to that which is already rational. To those who have chosen to be rational, the questions do not apply; the logical consequences of their choice are the determinators of their behavior. Since the thief has chosen to be irrational, the questions do not apply to him; he is not amenable to reason. And HE's why we need a social institution which ensures property rights! It is sometimes claimed that "The reason we need property rights is that we do not live in the Garden of Eden, where everything is in infinite abundance. Rather, some things are by their nature scarce, which means that there will be conflicts between individuals over who gets to control and consume these scarce goods. Therefore, we must have a system of property rights that solves such conflicts by allocating specific scarce goods to specific individuals." Much modern ethics implicitly makes such an assumption: that a fusion of Christian Original Sin and Marxist zero-sum economics leads inevitably to inherent conflicts of interest and the need for sacrifice. A frequent result is the thesis presented above--that scarcity is the basis of property rights. This fallacious view regards rights as a function of material conditions rather than as being inherent in human nature. There is no "reason" for "needing" property rights. Rights exist, they are not created. The proper subject for discussion is not a reason for needing them, it is the correct identification of them and the reasons why we must recognize them. * Philosophical underpinnings Leonard Peikoff: It is not an axiom that "man has property rights." Property rights are a consequence of a man's right to life: which latter we can establish only if we know the nature and value of man's life; which presupposes, among other things, that objective value-judgments are possible; which presupposes that objective knowledge is possible; which depends on a certain relation between man's mind and reality, i.e., between consciousness and existence. If you do not know and conform to this kind of structure, you can neither defend property rights nor define the concept nor apply it properly. David Kelley: Property rights exist because man needs to support his life by the use of his reason. His primary task is to create values that satisfy human needs, rather than merely relying on what he finds in nature, as animals do. Therefore the essential basis of property rights lies in the necessity of creating values. Life, Liberty, and Property. These three are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To allow a man his life, but to deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes life worth being lived. To allow him his liberty, but to take from him his property, is to deny him all that makes life able to be lived. Depriving a man of property is depriving him of the means by which he maintains his life. This is why the right to property is as important as the right to life. See Chapter 5 for a discussion of the nature of rights. See reference * Ownership Ownership is the rightfully acquired ability to use and dispose of property. A person justly owns anything he has acquired without violating the principles of justice. There are two forms of control over property: possession with ownership and possession without ownership. The act of asserting ownership is a contextual process, depending on the nature of the society in which ownership is asserted. For example--if I put a fence around something, and put labels on the fence, then I will have noticeably separated that which I own from that which I do not own. But such a separation would be meaningless in a society of illiterate barbarians who did not recognize the significance of the fence.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 74 Security of ownership is contingent on the recognition by my community that I am the rightful owner, a recognition that will be based on whatever are this community's institutionalized procedures for securing control over property. If the social institutions of my community are not founded on the principles expounded above by Mr. Kelley and Mr. Peikoff, then there will be, in effect, no ownership. If I held the property by force only, that would be mere possession, not ownership. It is ownership only when I am able to remain in peaceful possession. Thus ownership is more than mere possession. It's possession which is protected by social institutions that implement property rights. Contrary to Von Mises' definition that implicitly assumes ownership must involve controlling ALL the functions of a thing, the multiple uses of property may be controlled separately by different people. Many manifestations of ownership consist of shared or delegated control. Ownership can be vested in groups as well as in individuals. Nonetheless, that which is controlled IS owned property. It is sometimes claimed that the idea of self-ownership is vulnerable to the charge of circularity, because the concept of ownership presupposes a relationship between an owner and that which is owned. But if I do not own myself, who does/can own me? I possess my self. This possession can be negated only by destroying me. * John Locke on Property "Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something of his own, and thereby makes it his property. He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask, then, when did they begin to be his? When he digested? or when he ate? or when he boiled? or when he brought them home? or when he picked them up? And 'tis plain, if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could.... And will any one say he had no right to those acorns or apples he thus appropriated, because he had not the consent of all mankind to make them his? Was it a robbery thus to assume to himself what belonged to all in common? If such a consent as that was necessary, man had starved, notwithstanding the plenty God had given him....'tis the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out of the state nature leaves it in, which begins the property, without which the common is of no use." * Some questions about the Lockean thesis "Locke argues that mixing labor with the unowned will convert it to the owned--without specifying what kind or quality of labor per material is necessary." What is necessary is to mix in enough labor to "remove it out of the state nature leaves it in." When I have done this, I will have made my property observably distinct from the unowned. "If you take a boat out to sea and catch fish, the fish are properly yours, since you used your labor to get them, but mixing your labor with that part of the ocean does not make the ocean itself yours." But it is not the ocean I have mixed my labor with--it is the fish. If I were to gather in some of the ocean water and run it thru a desalinizer (or in any other manner distinctly separate it from the unowned), then that water would indeed be mine. "If you go to a forest, the fruit you pick is properly yours, but this does not give you title to the trees." True enough, but it's not the trees I claim--only the fruit that I have picked. The trees are indeed mine if it was I who planted and nourished them. And again, they are mine if I cut them down and process them into boards. "The land under a building is not properly yours even though the building is." If the land under my house is not mine, then whose is it? And by what right can he claim ownership if I cannot? It's OK with me if I don't own the land that my house sits on--as long as no one else owns it either. Thus no one would have the right to deprive me of its use. "What claim do you have to water that flows across your land? Or to the wind which blows over it?" Although while they are on/above my land I may have a rightful claim to them, and what I take out belongs to me, just like taking salt out of the sea or fish out of a river, I surely have no right to sully the water or wind which flow OFF my land and onto someone else's land. What flows beyond my land becomes the property of someone else, and I would be dumping my junk onto my neighbor's property. I


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 75 have no right to stink up my neighbor's home by burning trash in my backyard. "The stuff you take out of the land is yours, but not the space the stuff was located in." If I dig a gravel pit, the gravel I manufacture is my property. And if the space be not mine, then whose is it? "If you farm a plot of land, how much, if any, of that land is your property?" Surely the crop I harvest is mine. But since I have mixed my labor with the top several inches of the land, is not that top layer my property? "How far down shall this owned layer descend? As far as the reach of the plow? As far as the dampness of the irrigation? As far as the penetration of the roots? And what of the space above the farm? Do you own any of it, and if so, how far up?" The notion that laboring on the land gives one ownership of the land itself does seem flawed. Would it perhaps be more acceptable to assert that laboring in a certain location gives one ownership of the SPACE associated with that location? If a man transforms raw land into a farm should he not then be entitled to the space occupied by the farm? I am not sure that this idea of "space" (by which I mean "liebensraum") is a valid distinction from the land itself. My concern is not with the land itself but rather with the notion of liebensraum--a place to go, a space to be, a location to live in, play in, work in. * Intellectual Property - Information as Property You will frequently hear the claim that one person may learn of and use another's idea without diminishing the originator's possession and use of the idea. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." But if the idea can be used without the owner's consent, that does in fact diminish his control over the idea. A consequence of this loss of control is that if the idea has potential economic benefit (such as Tom's serpentine walls) then the loss of control over the idea will deprive Tom of some of his potential income. As Tom observed, knowledge is the only product that is not subject to diminishing returns. You can give digital information away over and over again, and you still have it. This loaves-and-fishes quality of information has no place among the parables of traditional capitalism. Our culture's economic system gets its axioms from the idea of the scarcity of property, but information has no inherent scarcity, consequently traditional economic ideas do not adequately encompass the phenomenon of "information as property." Printed books created the historical idea of intellectual property because they were fixed in form and difficult to replicate. One could therefore own and sell them, and the livelihoods of printer and author could be sustained. This copyright structure is collapsing with the introduction of the changeable digital signal. We will have to invent another ethical scaffolding to fit the new literacy. When books, in electronic form, cost a fraction of a dollar to reproduce but are priced as high as small appliances, be assured that a change is not too far in the future. Publishers, film companies and broadcasters will have to find new ways to cope with a distinctly different environment from the one that existed in the past. How are those publishers who recognize that their commodity is information, not sheets of paper, going to make money? Traditional publishers have been involved in printing for so long that they have forgotten that they are a branch of the information and entertainment industries, and not the wood pulp and paper industry. One suggested alternative: The seller puts her titles on a disk in encrypted form, locking each title with a separate encryption key. She duplicates these disks in small batches, changing the keys after each batch, then sells the disks at retail. The customer decides, from the promos on each disk, which titles he wants. Over the phone, the customer can provide the job lot number, the titles desired, and his credit card number. The seller then provides him with the appropriate decryption keys. In considering such schemes, keep in mind that most people pirate information for one of two reasons: a large cost difference or a large convenience difference. Therefore it's not enough for the legitimate copy to be reasonably priced, it must also be convenient. We must remember that property rights protect the security of one's control over his property, not its value, since value is dependent on what others are willing to pay for it. For example, your house may be more valuable on the market if your neighbor has a nice flower garden, but you do not have a right to this


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 76 additional value, and your neighbor has every right to demolish his garden even if it reduces the value of your property. Jerry Pournelle: "We're all agreed that information piracy is a growing problem, and there appears to be no ready solution for it. I admit to being a bit scared, since I make my living from intellectual property, and that's becoming hard to impossible to protect. In a very real sense, we're all going to have to depend on ethics--and the last I heard, that isn't even being taught in the schools any longer." Pournelle identifies a critically important fact: the problem of information as property cannot be solved "out of context," that is, outside the general context of the social institutions that shape our culture. Before such problems can be fully solved, society must be restructured away from institutions of government and toward ethically rational social institutions. Thomas Jefferson's response to a charge of plagiarism: "My goal is not to be original, but to be comprehensive and accurate." Ben Franklin, commenting on a preacher who had been accused of stealing sermons: "I stuck by him, however, as I rather approv'd his giving us good sermons compos'd by others, than bad ones of his own manufacture, tho' the latter was the practice of our common teachers." If someone provides me with a better way of saying something (better than I could think of myself) then his statement helps me think about the subject more clearly, and express it more clearly. To deny me this is to restrict my thinking and restrict my ability to understand the subject. I have stolen ideas from every book I ever read. * Bibliography THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER April 1964 - The property status of the radio spectrum May 1964 - Patents and Copyrights THE MARKET FOR LIBERTY by Morris and Linda Tannehill pg11 How property rights and human rights are an integrated phenomenon. pg55 the Lockean description of property. CAPITALISM THE UNKNOWN IDEAL by Rand et al. Rights Economic "rights" The nature and validation of property FOR A NEW LIBERTY by Murray Rothbard The right to self ownership Property rights Property rights and freedom of the press Property rights in land LIBERTARIANISM by John Hospers Collective ownership Public ownership Property rights LIBERTARIANISM IN ONE LESSON by David Bergland pg12 Property pg19 Property rights

* Capitalism One of the distinctive differences between man and the other animals is his much greater ability to conduct his behavior with reference to time periods of substantial length. From this fact there arises a useful, if not precisely specifiable, distinction to be made between two general categories of wealthcreation--a distinction which ensues from man's ability to act through time: is the wealth to be consumed immediately, or is it to be used later to produce more wealth? If it is to be used later, as a tool for the creation of more wealth, then it can be called "capital" and the process can be called "capitalism." Thus I will use the term to mean: "The process of using wealth not for immediate consumption but for the creation of more wealth." Conducting wealth-producing activities deliberately through time is the essence of capitalism. If you save your wealth and use it to create more wealth, you are doing capitalism. If you merely consume the wealth, you are not doing capitalism.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 77 Observe that capitalism is not a Boolean phenomenon. All human societies practice at least a tiny bit of capitalism, even if it's only the manufacture of stone knives and arrowheads. The economic development of a society depends on the extent to which this practice is implemented. A society can have more or less of it. The more it has (i.e., the more that wealth is accumulated through time) the more the society will prosper. Capitalism can be as small as flaking one flint knifeblade. Or it can be as huge as General Motors and IBM. Observe also that this definition is politically neutral. It doesn't matter WHO does capitalism, nor WHY they do it. It only matters that the act is performed. Capitalism is an economic tool, like a hammer. Anyone can use a hammer: a Libertarian, a Fascist, a Communist. From a strictly economic point of view, in considering only the production of wealth, the political philosophy of the person who uses the hammer doesn't matter. All that matters economically is how efficiently he uses the hammer. If he uses it well, wealth will be created; if he uses it inefficiently, less (or no) wealth will be produced. Thus the term "State Capitalism" actually makes sense: a government CAN implement the procedures of capitalism. This will help explain why such dismal systems as the Soviet Union do not collapse outright, and why a mixed economy like the USA can muddle along for quite a while. You can see now why I must disagree with Rand. She always equated capitalism with the political system of her preference, but to do so deprives us of a valuable concept that can be applied to economic behavior regardless of the political context in which that behavior occurs. It also deprives us of a valuable cognitive distinction: that between economics and politics. The phenomenon Rand spoke of should properly be called "laissez-faire capitalism." That is, capitalism practiced in the context of a more-or-less free market. Although this is certainly the most efficient social context for the practice of capitalism, it is not the ONLY political context in which capitalism can be implemented.

* Wealth Wealth is the result of transforming naturally existing entities into material that enables the achievement of human values. That wealth consists merely of possessing money is a popular misconception which arises from the primary function of money: as the measure of value. But real wealth consists in what is produced and consumed: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, not in pretty-colored bits of paper. Yet so powerful is the verbal ambiguity that confuses money with wealth, that even those who at times recognize the confusion will slide back into it in the course of their reasoning and erroneously equate being rich with being wealthy. One consequence of this error is that each man sees that if he personally had more money he could buy more things, and thus if he had twice as much money he could buy twice as many things; he would be twice as wealthy. And to many the conclusion seems obvious that if the government merely issued more money and distributed it to everybody, we should all be that much more wealthy. What they do not see is that such a course of action would merely destroy the basis of commerce by diluting the primary function of money.

* The Need For Money A stable currency that has real long-term value is an absolute prerequisite to the establishment and maintenance of an economically successful society. This is especially true with regard to a technologically sophisticated society. Whereas it is possible to maintain a simple agrarian society on a barter basis, barter will NOT suffice in an economy that produces king-size beds or is comprised of large industrial institutions. One of the most significant factors in the failure of a national economy to progress, and also a major contributor to the decline of an economy, is the lack of a medium for the measured exchange of wealth. Even if people are permitted to freely produce wealth, there can be very little rise in the general standard of living if they cannot exchange that wealth in any transactions more sophisticated than simple barter. To do so, they must have available a secure means of measuring the relative value (relative to each other individual's personal goals) of their products. This is the function of money. There are fundamental reasons why gold and silver were the first money media, and why every time a government seizes control of money, the media are changed and eventually the money's value is


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 78 destroyed. In almost all nations today, money is based on the empty promise of a government rather than on the firm foundation of a known and durable commodity such as gold or silver. And throughout the world today, inflation is everywhere destroying the possibility of long-term investments in wealthgenerating commerce. For a magnificent description of the function of money, see "The Root Of All Evil" speech in ATLAS SHRUGGED, Part 2, Chapter 2.

* The Evolution of Money and the Nature of inflation Excerpted from the book HOW YOU CAN PROFIT FROM THE COMING DEVALUATION by Harry Browne: If you were to find yourself alone on an isolated island, you would have no need for a medium of exchange. There would be no one with whom to exchange. You would go to work, as necessary, to produce the things you needed for your survival. You would produce some things that you would want to consume immediately, and you would probably produce other things to be stored for later consumption. You might also produce some other things that would be called "capital goods"--things that make further production easier. But you would only produce when you believed it would lead ultimately to something you wanted. Let's suppose now that there was one other person on the island with you. Each of you has his own area of the island and each of you is producing for himself. Sooner or later, you would probably begin exchanging things with each other. Perhaps you have produced more than you need of something he hasn't produced, and vice versa. You exchange your surplus with each other--and both of you profit thereby. Obviously, you won't trade your production for something you have no use for. Why bother working if your efforts don't eventually bring you something you can use? You'll trade only for those things you want to use now or can store for use at a later date. And here we have a very important rule at work: You only produce and exchange when you believe it will lead ultimately to something you want. But now let's suppose there are 100 people on the island--each with his own area. You will still have to produce to survive; there's no way to avoid that. But exchanges will probably take place on a much wider basis. In fact, it will be only a matter of time until a "specialization of labor" develops. That's where an individual no longer produces everything for himself. Instead, he concentrates on the production of only one or two items--and then trades his production with others for the products and services he wants. These trades with others are called direct exchange--the trading of some of your property for another commodity you intend to use yourself. This is also called barter--trading without money. But, eventually, you find yourself in a position where you're willing to accept in exchange an item you don't intend to use. Suppose you have butter and you're looking for wheat. I have wheat, but I'm not looking for butter. Instead, I need corn. So you go find a third person who has corn and is looking for butter. You trade your butter for his corn. Then you come back to me and trade the corn for my wheat. You have what you want; but it took two exchanges to get it. This is the beginning of indirect exchange--the trading of one thing for something you don't intend to use yourself. For example, one day Jones the nail-maker walks into the store of Smith the furniture-maker. Jones opens the conversation with, "Smith, I need a new workbench. I'll give you 2000 nails to make one for me." "Sorry," says Smith, "I have all the nails I'll need for a while. Come back in about six months." Jones goes on, "But I need the workbench now! Look, you're bound to use those nails eventually. But, even in the meantime, you can probably trade them to someone else for something you need. I'm always getting offers of trades from people wanting nails. They're a lot easier to exchange than furniture." "You have a point there, I do seem to have a lot of trouble exchanging kingsize beds for clothes. This way, I'd use only as many nails as I need for each purchase...well, okay--I'll try anything once." So he accepts the nails and makes the workbench for Jones. And then he goes out to find products for which he can exchange the nails. And, lo and behold, it works! He finds that trades are much easier to make. As a result, he enjoys life a


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 79 lot more with a few nails in his pocket. He can stop at a store and trade for anything he wants to--without having to arrange an elaborate, long-term furniture purchase with the storekeeper. In fact, he merely points out to the merchant the advantages of nails as a trading medium in the same way that Jones pointed them out to him. And the final argument is that you can always use the nails sometime in the future; they won't lose their value. And if you don't use them, someone will. The merchant realizes this; and so he accepts the nails, confident that he can use them or trade them for what he wants. So nails have become money. And what is money? Money is a commodity that is accepted in exchange by an individual who intends to trade it for something else. Money is a commodity, just like anything else that's traded in the marketplace. What distinguishes a money commodity from other commodities is the intention of the person to keep it only until he trades it to someone else. It's only a means to a further exchange for that person. Not everyone intends to trade it, however. Some people receive the money commodity, intending to use it for its own natural purpose (in this case, nails for construction purposes). And this brings us to the key word in the definition of money: accepted. The commodity can become money only when an individual accepts it--when someone's willing to take it, confident that he can trade it ultimately for what he wants. But why gold and silver? There are five main attributes of gold and silver that give individuals good reason to accept these commodities confidently: 1. They are durable. They can be stored for long periods of time, if necessary, without perishing. 2. They are easily divisible. As we saw, it was easier to exchange nails than furniture because you could divide a supply of nails into small purchases. And gold and silver can be broken into smaller pieces or used as dust--without harming their inherent value in any way. 3. They are convenient to handle. Their naturally high market values make it possible to work with small quantities. Wood wouldn't do--because you would need so much of it to be worth a desired item that it would be inconvenient to carry and exchange. 4. They are consistent in quality. One ounce of gold is as good as any other ounce of the same fineness. 5. They have accepted value. They are used for such things as jewelry, dental work, electronics, art objects, ornamentation. soldering, photography, and other purposes. That previously determined value also tells you how much gold and silver are worth in relationship to other commodities. If the money commodity didn't have that separate value, you couldn't confidently accept it in trade for what you have produced, for you wouldn't know the worth of what you received. One enterprising fellow notices that individuals waste a lot of time measuring gold dust in exchange for their drinks at the bar. So he opens a mint. He buys raw gold or silver and converts the metal into coins. He stamps the coins with his name and the amount of gold in the coin. If an individual trusts the coin-maker, he will probably prefer to use the coin. Its recognizable weight makes it easier than measuring gold dust. Another ambitious chap opens a warehouse. "Bring your gold to me," he says. "I'll store it for you in my theft-proof vault. I'll give you a receipt for it, so you can claim it any time you want it. I only charge a small fee for the service of storing it for you." This means you can now keep your gold in a safe warehouse--rather than carrying it around or leaving it at home where it could be stolen. And as the use of the warehouse becomes more widespread, and the integrity of the warehouseman becomes known, the receipts can serve an additional purpose. You can exchange the receipts themselves. Why bother going to the warehouse to get your gold, only to trade it to someone who will probably take it back to the same warehouse for safekeeping? Instead, you simply hand over the receipt to him. At this important stage in the evolution of the money system, we must remind ourselves of an important point: It is the gold that is the money; the paper receipts are not money! Gold is money because it's a commodity with accepted value and is convenient to use in exchange. Paper could NOT be useful as money because the relative ease with which it is produced makes it inexpensive by nature; you'd have to use tons of it to obtain the same result served by a few ounces of gold. The paper takes on value only as it can be exchanged for gold. If the warehouse were to refuse to make the gold available, the receipt would eventually be worthless. It's similar to storing furniture. You can't sit on a furniture receipt; you can only exchange it for something to sit on. The paper receipts are not money; they are money substitutes. Along with the normal paper receipts, it is possible to have tokens. A token is a money substitute in


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 80 metallic form, rather than in paper. The present U.S. copper-nickel tokens are a good example. These are not coins, since there is no significant inherent value in them (perhaps two cents worth of metal in a quarter). Like paper receipts, they can only have lasting, constant value if they can be readily exhanged for something of real value. Suppose you left your gold on deposit at the bank (warehouse) and received a receipt that you intended to spend in the marketplace. And suppose the dishonest banker issued a second receipt for the same gold to someone else. Two people are now trying to spend the same gold at the same time. You now have inflation--two receipts for the same supply of gold. One consequence of this would be the well-known "run on the bank." As soon as anyone became suspicious that the banker was doing this, he'd get jittery about his own money. If very many people became suspicious, you'd have a run on the bank. And those who arrived there last would be out of luck--if the bank really were cheating on the receipts. If it weren't, everyone would get his gold and the bank's honesty would be proven. This would probably result in increased business for the bank. An honest bank would not have to fear a run. So let's coin another definition of inflation, one more to the point: Inflation is the counterfeiting of money substitutes. Suppose you and I form a partnership, a company that prints paper receipts. We print 1000 new $20 bills. Then we go to Seattle where we are not known to anyone. We start spending the bills and are immediately praised by the local merchants and the newspapers. They proclaim that it is a great thing for Seattle that we have come to town, for we're bringing prosperity to a city that was in a recession. Two weeks later, we leave town with $20000 worth of goods. The townspeople bid us a grateful farewell for all the business we have brought to them. It's obvious that WE have benefited from the situation. We traded paper dollars with NO real value for products that HAVE real value. Assuming that no one ever learns our little secret, has our gain actually hurt anyone else? In other words, does anyone ever pay for our benefits? The merchants who received the counterfeit bills did not lose. They could pass the bills on to others for things they wanted. We gained; the merchants didn't lose. Apparently no one lost. But we've overlooked a few people. Not just a few, in fact. We've overlooked everyone else in Seattle. For everyone else will lose in order to make this gain possible. We can see this easily as we imagine our car leaving Seattle--loaded with goods removed from Seattle's marketplace. We leave Seattle's residents with less property than they had before we came. There will be fewer goods available to divide up among the people there. In exchange, they received additional money substitutes that will circulate in the community. But money substitutes are not wealth. This simply means there are now MORE money substitutes to pay for FEWER goods and services. Since the money supply has gone up and the goods and services have decreased, the result can only be higher prices in Seattle. The price increase will be irregular. Those who get their hands on the counterfeit money first will gain from it; for they'll have extra spending money, and prices will not have gone up yet. But as those extra money substitutes pass through the community, they will bid prices upward. The other people in the marketplace will be paying for our gain--and they will do that through the higher prices they pay for each product. Suppose our arrival and departure were not noticed. In other words, no one was aware that an extra $20000 was suddenly coming into circulation. The individual merchants who received our $20 bills would have no reason to suppose that there was anything unusual or temporary about the increase in business. They would simply suppose that their long-standing promotional efforts were finally paying off--that success was on its way at last. They would most likely hire extra clerks to handle the increased business, maybe order a new sign and a better paint job for the store. And they would enlarge their inventories to meet the increased demand, of which we appeared to be an example. But as soon as it became evident that the sudden dose of new business was purely temporary, they would have to retract their expansion plans. They would lay off the extra clerks and cancel the orders for remodeling. The painter who was to have done the remodeling would, in turn, have to fire his new helpers. And what would he do with all the extra paint he had ordered? The net result throughout the area would be a state of gloom. Everyone would have extra commitments to pay off and shelves full of undesired stock--all because an illusory boom caused businessmen to gear up to a demand that never really existed. Would you call that a recession? Yes, indeed. Inflation is an increase in money substitutes above the stock of real money in storage; the counterfeiting of paper money. Inflation simply means there are more paper money receipts in circulation than there is real money with which to back them up. As we've seen, this will cause prices to go up. But rising prices are not inflation; they are an effect of inflation. * End of excerpts from Browne.


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* The Effects of Inflation A hard-money standard is an integral part of a system of free enterprise, of good faith and law, of promise-keeping and the sanctity of contract. It is this system--and the confidence to which it gives rise-that is destroyed by inflation. Like every other tax, inflation acts to strongly influence the business policies we all must follow. But unlike specific and knowable taxes, inflation cannot be compensated for because it cannot be quantitatively specified in advance. It discourages prudence and thrift. It encourages squandering, gambling, and reckless waste of all kinds. It often makes it more profitable to speculate than to produce. (This explains much of the nature of modern stock markets.) It tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships. Its inexcusable injustices drive men toward desperate remedies, leading them to demand totalitarian controls, thus planting the seeds of fascism and communism. It ends invariably in bitter disillusion and collapse. Between 1963 and 1973, of 40 countries whose inflation rate reached 15%, 38 abolished their democratic institutions in one way or another. At first glance, you might think that inflation affects only the money supply, but the more you look at it the more convinced you will become that it is all-pervasive in its pernicious effects. In 1985, parents spent 40% less time with their children than they had spent in 1965. This is an excellent example of the insidious side-effects of inflation. Government inflation of the money supply confiscates the nation's wealth; thus working people are forced to spend more time earning money in order to maintain their standard of living. This of course leaves them with less time to spend with their children. I become more and more sympathetic with that majority of Germans who, when surveyed as to which was worse, WorldWar1 or the subsequent runaway inflation, replied: "The inflation was much worse than the war!" Money substitutes are certificates of debt against the true wealth of an economy. As those substitutes decline in value (or under the impetus of a major crisis in America), foreign holders of the paper may begin to unload it in exchange for other kinds of paper, thus starting an avalanche of similar domestic unloading in which a national debt (intended to be a legacy bequeathed to your children and grandchildren) would have to be paid NOW--or repudiated. In either case, the dollar would become worthless. The politicians have seized the wealth of the nation, and given the nation back a mortgage on itself. This seizure is not merely the theft of wealth, it is the theft of your children's opportunity, of their future, of their hope. It will do no good to debate the subject of property rights, intellectual or otherwise, while the foundation of all property exchange is dishonestly corrupt. As Mises observed, the transition from Money to Wallpaper has five steps: 1. The paper is exchangeable for a specified amount of Au or Ag 2. The paper is exchangeable for N dollars in Au or Ag 3. The paper is N dollars--exchangeable for a specified number of another nation's bills. 4. The paper is N dollars--exchangeable at the open market rate (whatever you can sucker some poor fool into trading for it). 5. Katastrophenbausse. There were numerous internal checkpoints in Brazil, but our guide advised us that a tip of five million cruzeiros would suffice to pass us without difficulty. A one-dollar bill would suffice even better. If your next-door neighbor told you he was kiting checks drafted on your personal account, you think maybe you might get upset about it? Hungary's 1946 inflation rate was so bad there aren't any words to describe it: 4.6 x 10 to the 30th power.

* Foundations Believe it or not, economists do not know what they know. That is, with regard to various aspects of their field, economists cannot say "these aspects are what we know to be true, and those aspects we know little or nothing about." The assiduous efforts of so many people over the course of so many years of study have not resulted in a single indisputable conclusion. If a discipline, after centuries of intellectual activity, still does not know what it knows, it cannot be said to be in good condition, or based on a solid foundation. In spite of this admitted ignorance, economists have for generations debated the merits of


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 82 specific implementations of their fantasies, frequently using abstract mathematical models whose essential flaw is that they have little relevance to actual human behavior. (See * Floating Abstraction in my FALLACYS file) In line with this, the vigor with which each different model is advocated by its proponents is frequently inversely proportional to the amount of empirical evidence supporting it. As an example, here is a selection from a recent debate among economists: "Miron of Boston University points out that the behavior of indicators other than GNP appears to support Romer's position. 'Gordon has only done GNP,' he says. 'Christie's case is on firmer, broader ground.' Although Gordon denies the charge, Miron argues that a significant part of Gordon's newfound volatility in the old numbers comes not from including transportation and construction but from his choice of a particular price index to convert nominal dollar figures to 'real' GNP. The index in question was intended to convert consumer prices from current to constant terms, but Gordon uses it to adjust commodity prices instead. According to Gordon's published data, the choice of index could account for almost half of the difference between his figures and Romer's. There is no clear consensus on who is right. And regardless of who carries the current debate, the old mainstream dogma of a stabilized modern economy is in trouble. Although Romer and Gordon differ, says J. Bradford De Long of Harvard University, their views are much closer to each other's than either one is to the view of the past that economists treasured as recently as five years ago." Such nonsensical antics would be laughably ridiculous except for the harrowing fact that politicians distill their policies from the proposals of these economists, whilst the economists are distilling their proposals from fantasy. Herman Daly, a senior economist with the World Bank, observed with surprising perspicacity: "My major concern about my profession today is that our disciplinary preference for logically beautiful results over factually grounded policies has reached such fanatical proportions that we economists have become dangerous to the earth and its inhabitants." If one insists on analyzing an imaginary problem which has no real-world equivalent, it may be appropriate to use an analytical model which has no real-world application. By the same token, if a model is designed to deal with real-world situations, it may not be able to handle purely imaginary problems. In either case, a solution is meaningless. But these "meaningless" solutions do indeed have real-world consequences when they are implemented through political coercion. A thief who presumed to justify his theft by saying that he was really helping his victims by his spending, thus giving retail trade a needed boost, would be slapped down without delay. But when this same idiocy is clothed in Keynesian mathematical equations and impressive references to the "multiplier effect," it carries far more conviction with a public that has been bamboozled into accepting the delusion that conventional economics is a valid tool of analysis. In the 1989 edition of his famous textbook, ECONOMICS, Samuelson described the Soviet Union as being proof that, contrary to what many skeptics believe, a socialist economy can function and even thrive. Statements such as this show a contempt for truth that would turn Paul Goebbels green with envy. The fact that they are not considered an embarrassment by the economics profession speaks of the fatuity of that profession. But such statements, which tell us nothing about the real economic world, may tell us something about the minds of the people who make them. Many of the most dogmatic and fanatical socialists are not interested in personal wealth and live in self-imposed poverty. They think that asceticism is noble and virtuous (otherwise they wouldn't practice it themselves), and believing that it is virtuous, they want everyone else to live the same way. This is one reason why socialists never get discouraged when their ideology doesn't work (that is, doesn't produce prosperity). THEY NEVER REALLY WANTED IT TO. As long as socialism mandates self-sacrifice and forestalls prosperity, its most zealous advocates will keep proclaiming it a success. When a theory invariably achieves only the opposite of its alleged goals, yet its advocates remain undeterred, you may be certain that the theory is not a conviction or an ideal, but a spurious rationalization. Commenting on economic "bubbles," Samuelson admits that "in all the arsenal of economic theory we have absolutely no way of predicting how long such a bubble will last." Well, anyone who takes a close look at "the arsenal of economic theory" will readily observe it to be so filled with fallacy that the world envisioned by Samuelson and his colleagues bears little correspondence to the world of reality. No wonder it has so little predictive power. Keynesian economics is unable to provide a theory that can even describe, let alone explain, observed economic reality and experience. If economists really knew what they are talking about, the Soviet Union never would have collapsed. The economists and politicians are living in some kind of fantasy world, while the rest of us must live


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 83 with the reality of the wreckage they are creating. Another manifestation of unreal economic analysis can be seen in Ayn Rand's quasi-deification of industrialists as being men of punctilious ethical scruple and rigorous logical acumen. In fact, businessmen are just like many other people: stupid, shortsighted, and as quick to make use of coercion if they think it will serve their purpose. In a free marketplace they would have an ethically useful function, but the trouble is, and always has been, that there is no FREE marketplace. Societies have always been based on institutionalized coercion, and the people (including businessmen) accept this as natural social behavior. This acceptance is ingrained on many mental levels and during the entire life of the citizen, so it should be no surprise to see it exhibited by businessmen also. In spite of these gross flaws, economic theory lives on, surviving largely because there are some fundamental truths about the human condition that call for principled explanation. First enunciated in THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, these truths are: 1) The overwhelming majority of people are naturally and unswervingly interested in improving their material condition. 2) Repression of this natural desire leads only to impoverished societies. 3) When this natural desire is allowed sufficient expression so that commercial transactions are widespread, everyone does eventually indeed improve his condition, however unequally in extent or time. This is not all we need to know, but it is what we DO know, and it is surely not asking too much of the economics profession that in its passion for sophisticated methodology it not ignore this knowlege. But it does.

* Bootstrap Economics

The Bootstrap Effect An economy will rise to the highest level of wealth creation that is possible to it, subject to three restraints: 1. Limitation of natural resources. 2. Paucity of knowledge. 3. Politically-imposed restrictions. The solar system, considered in its entirety, contains a sufficiency of natural resources to provide the human race with an unlimited supply of wealth. During the past 300 years Man has acquired enough knowledge of technological processes to convert those natural resources into that unlimited supply of wealth. Thus mankind is now in a position to raise its standard of living to an unlimited height, and would indeed do so if not for the third restraint. It is politically-imposed restrictions alone that prevent this. The overwhelming majority of human beings are concerned each to increase his own standard of living, and to the extent that it is possible each will act to do so. In fact, to the extent that it is possible each DOES act to do so, unless he is inhibited by law. Each individual person is continually looking for ways to improve his personal standard of living--continually looking for ways to circumvent ANY obstacles that are placed in his path. The aggregate expression of all of these individual concerns results in what I call the Bootstrap Effect. Everywhere within an economic system the people who perform economic actions will raise the level of wealth creation of that system. And they will continue to raise it until they can find no way of raising it any further. Until they are balked by some restriction. If that restriction is removed, the individual people to whom it had been a barrier will now perceive a possibility to further raise their own personal standard of living--and will commence to do so. Increasing the general level of wealth creation until they encounter another obstacle. And if there are no obstacles, there is no limit to the height to which people will push their standard of living.


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* Economic Calculations A grave deficiency in any centralized economic system results from inadequacy of information. The controlling authorities in a centralized system are never able to obtain a comprehensive and accurate depiction of the society under their command. Government reports are often meaningless on their own terms and almost always misrepresent the nature of an economy. For example: one man spends to build a bridge, another to destroy it. Does it make sense to sum these two expenditures together into a "GNP"? Incompatible plans do not add up to some kind of "super-plan" nor does spending on them add up to an aggregate reflecting total productivity of any kind whatever. The Gross National Product is supposedly a measure of economic prosperity. But is it? If I wash my car, the only effect on the GNP is the cost of the water and soap that I use. Suppose that I give the neighbor kid $5 to wash my car. In this case, the GNP is increased by the cost for the water and soap, plus the $5 I give the neighbor kid. But is the economy really more productive if I give the neighbor kid $5 than if I wash my own car? When I get my shirt washed at a laundry for $1, the GNP is increased by $1. Suppose I marry my laundress and then no longer pay cash to her for washing my shirt. Is the economy more prosperous in the first case than the second? I go to my dentist and get a root canal. He charges me $300, and the GNP is increased by $300. Then he hires me to paint his house and pays me $300. Now the GNP is up $600. Now suppose that instead of paying him cash, I agree to paint his house in exchange for the root canal. No cash changes hands. The GNP is $600 less than if we had paid each other cash rather than bartered. Is the economy more prosperous if we pass the $300 back and forth than if we barter? This suggests a simple way to increase the GNP: All we need do is get Congress to pass a law mandating that every person in this country shine the shoes of exactly one other individual, charge him $20,000 for shining his shoes, and exempt such shoe-shine fees from taxation. The income of each individual in the United States would go up by $20,000. The GNP would skyrocket! But each individual would be left with the same amount of money as before; each would have done a trivial amount of labor; each would have had a trivial service performed for him. That's all. Would anyone be better off in the wake of such a doubling of the GNP? Government expenditures are always considered to be a productive contribution to the economy. But in fact government is a drain, and hence its expenditures should be subtracted from any aggregate measure of productivity. All government figures on economic performance are deceptive in one way or another, each compounding itself on the others until the economic forecasts generated by the State are as fictitious as a list of Nixon's virtues. About the only thing the government's economic indicators truthfully indicate is that the market has ceased to function properly. It has ceased to function properly because the natural regulating mechanisms have been severely crippled by government interference. One function of prices is to guide productive people so as to apportion the relative output of thousands of different commodities in accordance with demand. No bureaucrat, no matter how brilliant, can solve this problem arbitrarily. An example of the problem can be seen in The Guffey Act of 1937, which forbade the sale of coal at less than certain minimum prices fixed by government. Though Congress had hoped to fix "the" price of coal, the government soon found itself (because of different sizes, thousands of mines, and shipments to thousands of different destinations by rail, truck, ship and barge) fixing 350,000 separate prices for coal. Prices in a free market provide suppliers with signals of what consumers want, and relative prices are an important source of information--they represent the relative value of alternative uses of resources. The willingness of people to pay his price typically means that the producer is doing a good job of providing for consumers. If that price generates high profits, then the producer is able to obtain more resources and produce more of the desired commodity. By allocating resources on the basis of willingness to pay, the market results in resources being allocated to the highest valued uses, because those who are willing to pay the price clearly value the use of the product more than those who are unwilling to pay. As a result, resources are guided toward their most desired uses. But a government-controlled economy does not, and cannot, use this source of information when determining how to allocate its resources, and thus the flow of profit does not act as a channel directing resources toward the most desirable uses. When a bureaucrat makes a mistake in regulating your affairs,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 85 he does not receive any feedback, in the form of personal economic loss, to alert him to his error. You receive all the feedback, but you are not in a position of control, so you cannot correct the error. Hayek calls the implicit decision structure underlying the market the Extended Order. Nobody designed it, nobody fully understands it, and no one knows a fracton of what it "knows." As Leonard Read pointed out, there is not a person in the world who has the complete knowledge required to manufacture a simple thing like a pencil. Yet the extended order knows how to make pencils, laptop computers, nuclear-magnetic-resonance body scanners, and hundreds of thousands of other products. It also knows where and when they are required and in what quantity. It is the failure to comprehend this phenomenon, more than anything else, that is the chief intellectal flaw in Marxism and all its philosophical progeny. An ethical point to be made here is that the thousands of people whose cooperation has made our options viable, have put forward their respective contributions voluntarily. Admittedly, they have agreed only to the terms of their individual transactions, but since that is their only point of contact with the rest of the extended order, their involvement has been a genuine case of "unanimous consent." "Regulating the market" is actually regulating people--preventing them from making trades which they otherwise would have made, or forcing them to make trades they would not have made willingly. The market is a network of trade relationships, and a relationship can only be regulated by regulating the individual persons involved in it. Thus price control is people control. Being imperfect, man does indeed need a regulating mechanism, but free enterprise does this admirably. Competition enables the businessman to continually check his ideas against his economic environment to see whether what he believes (and does) really works. If it doesn't, then either he does not profit or, if he is clever, he will change his ways and go on to meet the competition's challenge. Unfortunately, government is not regulated by competition nor by the profit motive. Hence, no plan that government puts into operation can be tested by a competitor. Thus an error in government policy is almost never eradicated, except by revolution, war, or depression. Market competition is far less painful.

* Agriculture in China: An example of central control vs. individual control Taken from SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine, November 1996. Since 1949, when the Communists took power, China's agricultural practices and system of property ownership have undergone several turbulent changes. Before the revolution, many Chinese farmers were poor tenants who tilled fields owned by wealthy landlords. Soon after Mao's army conquered China, however, the government confiscated the holdings of landlords and wealthy farmers and distributed the property among all farming households on an egalitarian basis. The new land-owning families operated small, independent farms and sold their harvest on an open market. For the first time in recent Chinese history, the dream of "land to the tillers" was a reality. Farmers responded to the new system with extraordinary zeal: grain production went up by about 15 kilograms per person each year between 1949 and 1955. In the 1950s, under the influence of the Soviet system, Mao became imbued with the ambition to build a powerful nation under a planned economic system. As a result, China gradually began to collectivize its agriculture. The government encouraged farmers to form groups known as mutual aid teams in the early 1950s; these teams consisted of no more than 10 households and served to coordinate the farming practices of the members. Property rights did not change, however--each family retained ownership of its plot. Later, during 1956 and 1957, the government further consolidated farms into agricultural collectives, each one with as many as 300 households. In this case, members actually had to surrender most of their land to the collective, although they could keep small private plots for growing food for the family. The process of collectivization culminated in 1958, when the agricultural collectives merged into huge communes. These communes, each with an average size of about 4,000 families, took sole ownership of all property, including the private plots. All the farmers worked together on the land, receiving pay for time spent in the field, no matter how little they accomplished. And everyone shared the excess harvest. Under this system, none of the farmers had an individual stake in the land, so few cared about making improvements--in effect, the communes severed farmers from their land. The result of collective farming was disastrous: in perhaps the world's worst famine, an estimated 30


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 86 million Chinese died between 1959 and 1962. The communal farms simply did not generate enough food for the country. In the 1960s the government broke up the communes into more manageable units. But collective farming continued on a smaller scale through the late 1970s, when some Chinese leaders started to rethink its viability. The brainchild born of this rethinking was the policy known as the Household Responsibility System. This policy divided the collective land among individual households, creating a nation of small family farmers. The collective, however, maintained official ownership of the property. Initially, the farmers' rights to the land were to be valid for up to three years, but in 1984 the Communist Party ordered local officials to extend contracts to 15 years. In return for the right to work the land, farmers had to sell a small portion of their crops to the state at a fixed price. But they could keep the rest of their harvest, either to consume or to sell for a profit. The system clearly encouraged farmers to become more efficient: between 1980 and 1984, grain production increased by 16.2 kilograms per person each year, up from an annual average increase of 1.3 kilograms per person between 1955 and 1980.

* The Tragedy of the Commons If 100 or fewer sheep graze a certain pasture, the grass can continue to replenish itself, but if more than 100 sheep graze the land, the grass will diminish and ultimately vanish. Suppose the land is owned in common by ten shepherds each of whom has ten sheep. If one shepherd acquires an additional sheep he will see himself as 10% better off, and will see the pasture as being only 1% worse off. Naturally, each shepherd will consider it to be in his self-interest to increase his flock, but in the long run this is to the detriment of all. The sensible solution to this problem lies in private ownership: each of the shepherds should own a tenth of the land. Then if he acquires one more sheep, he will immediately see that his pasture will be 10% worse off. Murray Rothbard, in FOR A NEW LIBERTY: "In the East, the 160 acres granted free to homesteading farmers on government land constituted a viable technological unit for farming in a wetter climate. But in the dry climate of the West, no successful cattle or sheep ranch could be organized on a mere 160 acres. But the federal government refused to expand the 160-acre unit to allow the homesteading of larger cattle ranches. Hence the open range, on which private cattle and sheep owners were able to roam unchecked on government-owned pasture land. But this meant that no one owned the pasture, the land itself; it was therefore to the economic advantage of every cattle or sheep owner to graze the land and use up the grass as quickly as possible, otherwise the grass would be grazed by some other sheep or cattle owner. The result of this tragically shortsighted refusal to allow private property in grazing land itself was an overgrazing of the land...and the failure of anyone to restore or replant the grass.... Hence the overgrazing of the West, and the onset of the dust bowl. Hence also the illegal attempts by numerous cattlemen, farmers, and sheepmen...to fence off the land into private property--and the range wars that often followed." Here again we can see that the establishment of private property rather than government-owned "commons" could have avoided these difficulties. The fact that government asserts domain over the air is what makes air pollution a "tragedy of the commons" problem. In this case, the problem is exacerbated by attempts on the part of the government to dictate specific solutions to the problem, rather than solving it by means of some market-oriented method of pollution control such as: Measure the amount of pollution being emitted and assess a quantity fine (e.g., $2/Kg/day). Gradually raise the amount of this fine, and continue to do so until the pollution falls to an acceptable level. Thus all the choices regarding production, handling and disposal of the pollutant would remain within the ambit of voluntary behavior rather than being expressed through fascist controls. Another place in which the tragedy of the commons rears its ugly head is in the American judicial system. Its staggering backload of cases, resulting in years of delay in the clearing of trials, results in great part from its being a government-owned "commons" phenomenon. Indeed, democracy itself is perhaps the biggest example of the tragedy of the commons. Democracy inevitably becomes a stagnant swamp of fraud and unkept promises. "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 87 result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, which is then followed by a dictatorship." ... Alexander Tyler, 1787 After reading this, you may well ask, Why aren't all the democracies already dead? The answer lies in the fact that a democracy can endure until the people take the largesse in sufficient quantity as to make the producers actually stop producing.

* The Public Goods Problem Adam Smith, in THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, remarked on "those public institutions and those public works, which though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a nature, that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, and which it, therefore, cannot be expected that any individual or small number of individuals should erect or maintain." Remember the lighthouse, that legendary "public good" which your professor discussed in Economics 101? Though socially valuable, the lighthouse supposedly cannot be provided by the free market because it contains costs that cannot be reflected in the market price. Thus it is claimed that ships will benefit from the light without paying for the service. Therefore, since the lighthouse owner can't exclude free riders, it will be unprofitable to provide the lighhouse at all. However, your professor no doubt did not tell you that long before economists developed the theory of public goods and market failure, private entrepreneurs were building and operating profitable lighthouses around the coast of England. Another example, which you have all experienced: As I was chewing on my sandwich, a couple of girls came over and plugged the jukebox. When the music started, the boys began bouncing a little, obviously enjoying the rhythm, and the girls chatted away as they had been doing before. I realized that I had just witnessed a mirocosm of the "public goods" situation. Everybody was enjoying the music but only two had paid. They hadn't gone around shaking people down for their "fair share"; they hadn't insisted that the music be supplied for nothing; they hadn't even asked for contributions. The girls supplied everyone with a valuable good because they wanted it themselves. In the year 6 AD the emperor Augustus made a change in the Rome Fire Brigade. He got rid of the slaves and hired freemen in their place. He immediately discovered a tremendous improvement in the Brigade's performance and concluded that whereas slaves don't really give a damn, people who are free WANT to put out fires in their community. The Public Goods fallacy assumes that people should--and indeed do--only produce goods and services from which non-paying others cannot benefit. Yet, think of deodorants, nice hair cuts, attractive clothing, pretty front lawns, grand architecture, etc., etc., etc. These all provide uncompensated benefits to others. When the voluntary, self-interested efforts of some people create free-rider benefits for others, that is a concrete instance of the harmony of men's interests, and should be celebrated and welcomed as such. Living in a civilized society NECESSARILY involves being a free-rider. One cannot help benefiting indirectly from the work of people who have a greater productive ability than one's own. This is neither a cause for regret nor a compromise of independence or responsibility; on the contrary, it is one of the most important benefits of living in a civilized society.

* Fascism-Communism There is no fundamental distinction between these two forms of society. They are merely two variants of Socialism: the principle of government control over the economic affairs of individuals. The fundamental characteristic distinguishing among societies is whether your behavior is controlled by your own choices or by someone else's choices. Under both fascism and communism--or, for that matter, under ANY form of government--you are not free to guide your behavior according to your own choices. The only questions which differentiate these forms of government are to what degree you are enslaved, and in what manner the enslavement is imposed. Fascism: Under this system, many major choices regarding the operation of businesses are made by government, but the individual who operates each enterprise receives his income from the profits of the business. This is centralized planning with decentralized execution of the plan. In America, these are usually fascist operations: Bus companies, Airlines, Truck lines, Radio and TV stations, Banks, Private elementary and secondary schools, Nursing homes.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 88 Communism: Under this system, all the business decisions are made by government, and the people operating the business are government employees who receive their paychecks from the government. A communist government controls all businesses and operates them as departments of the government. This is centralized planning AND centralized execution of the plan. The centralized execution is in the form of precise, all-inclusive doctrine. In America, these are communist operations: Highway maintenance, Public Schools, most Public Libraries, Utility companies such as most water systems, and sometimes electric systems, Police (except private police companies, which are fascist). What the pseudo-libertarians tout as "privatization" is quite often merely the conversion of a portion of a communist operation over to a fascist arrangement. Under fascism, the people are led to believe that they are working for themselves, even though in fact they are not. Under communism, they know they are not working for themselves. That is why fascism is less incompetent than communism. In fact, the level of efficiency of an economic system is a direct consequence of the degree to which the individuals who control specific economic activities are free to implement their own choices, and are acting in a context in which their own personal income is dependent on their own personal choices. This explains why communism is the least efficient of these systems, fascism is somewhat more efficient, and a free market is the most efficient of all. Only a free market demands competence. Authoritarian regimes place obedience above all other considerations. I distinguish some other controls from the above categories of fascism and communism since these controls are not primarily oriented toward governing business operations but are intended as general restrictions on individual personal behavior. These are such things as driver's licenses, marriage and divorce laws, customs and immigration regulations. Registration of vehicles, business licenses, building permits, land titles (deeds) and land tax are in yet another category--they are the government's assertion of eminent domain--the assertion that government is the ultimate owner of all property, and that the individual can make use of that property only with permission from the government. Of course all these are also means by which government obtains some of its revenue.

* Marx In Marxist economics it is assumed that there is a finite amount of goods and services available in the marketplace. This is simply wrong. Is there a limit to the number of songs that can be created? Are the number of computer programs to be written finite? Are ideas about economics itself finite? No, in reality there is potentially an infinite supply of goods and services. According to Marx, no clear line can be drawn between economic and political processes. In his scheme, the forces of material production are a superhuman entity independent of the will and actions of individual men. Industrial production and wealth, he asserts, are not to be attributed to any individual's creative thought or action, but are a free gift of nature. Such gifts multiply automatically across time through the intervention of impersonal agencies called Science, Technology and Progress, and each man is morally entitled to his fair share of these gifts. Only the State can achieve social justice by wresting wealth from the hands of the vile, greedy rich, who have appropriated more than their fair share, and by redistributing it fairly among the virtuous, non-greedy poor. This is the underlying rationale of the Welfare State. Because the use of coercion to confiscate wealth benefits one group only at the expense of another, Marxists are led to the belief that life must be viewed as a zero-sum process in which original wealthcreation is ignored or even denied. (But then, how could Marx have originally created his ideas?) Inherent in this ideology is the view that the economic resources of the society must be monopolized by some people in order to prevent certain other people from satisfying their own economic desires. This reflects the "zero-sum" assumption that economic resources and economic output are fixed--a national pie to be distributed by the State. But this coercive redistribution of wealth undercuts the very process that produced the wealth in the first place, thus Marxist societies inevitably end up impoverished. Under Marxist economics, which regards wealth as a world-wide round-robin of purse snatching, it is inevitable that some must starve so that others may eat. In a free market, a man's failure, like his success, is an objective reflection of his ability and his usefulness. It is precisely this inexorable rule of capitalism--"to each according to his ability"--that threatens the self-esteem of the Marxist, engendering his intense hatred for the free market. Ironically, the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 89 most passionately voiced charge against laissez-faire is that it is an unjust system. The man who hates and fears a free market does not confess that what he really resents is precisely the implacable justice of this market. The driving motive of the irrational policies of Marxism is the desire to destroy the hated system which rewards men according to their abilities, and to substitute a system which will give to the frustrated mediocrities according to their needs. Their Marxism is a wonderful tool that gives them an answer for everything--even an answer for the failures of Marxism. A Marxist writes: "The method of analysis Marx used to understand social domination and conflict is the most powerful way of understanding the very failures of his theory." But how can a theory that has failed be used to understand itself? Thus there is no possibility of converting the committed Marxist. His Marxism makes him invulnerable to argument.

* The Luddite Phenomenon It is often not the widely diffused gain resulting from a new technology that most forcibly strikes even the disinterested observer, but the immediately obvious concentrated loss. The new machines' increased output of shoes, at lower cost to everyone, is ignored; what is seen is a group of cobblers thrown out of work. The great bulk of people infinitely prefer the continuance of a problem which they cannot explain to an explanation which they cannot understand. The opposition to innovation entails a desire to live in narrow-minded ignorance. Luddites are merely one type of hard-core conservatives.

* Liability There is a current trend toward legislation, and court precedent, that virtually insures that every real or imagined social ill will find its way into the courtroom for resolution. In his book LIABILITY, Peter Huber looks at the origin and consequences of this kind of litigation. He observes that because of "a wholesale shift from consent to coercion in the law of accidents (and) a shift from individual to group responsibility...the number of tort suits filed has increased steadily for over two decades. So has the probability that any given suit will conclude in an award. And the average size of awards has grown more rapidly still." This cancer on capitalism results in a severe threat to fundamental features of our economic system, such as technological innovation and the sanctity of contracts. As examples, he observes that liability accounts for 30% of the price of a stepladder, 95% of the price of vaccines, and 1/3rd the cost of a small airplane. And that the threat of liability suits and/or the cost of insurance has orphaned more than 500 drugs that are invaluable for treating rare but serious diseases. Fifty years ago, such liability litigation would not have been conceived. Twenty-five years ago, it would have been laughed out of court. Today it is seriously considered, and the really scary aspect is this: there is NO WAY to tell in advance what the ruling of a court will be. The courts are not bound by any semblance of rationality or any adherence to the principle of Justice, and yet they exercise total dominion over the economic life of the country.

* Productivity The productivity potential of the American people was enormously enhanced by the practice of capitalism during the nation's first hundred years, when government was too small to seriously hinder personal freedom. But as government grows larger and consumes more and more resources, a continually growing share of that productivity potential must be devoted to the maintenance of government itself. Computers have enabled a tremendous productivity boost since the 1970s, but no matter how much more wealth per capita improved technology makes possible, there is always something to soak up the surplus and condemn ordinary people to a lifetime of labor. No matter how much productivity increases, people never seem to work less, only differently (harder!). The government is consuming, at an accelerated pace, the productivity potential of the country. Jerry Pournelle: "It looks to me as if our choices are very limited: increase productivity, or have a declining standard of living. Or both. Unfortunately, most increases in productivity are eaten by new measures, such as the Clean Air Act. It's my opinion that most of the productivity increases made possible by small computers have disappeared into increased regulations." Another thing that has kept the government alive while the federal debt curve goes up is that it is confiscating much of the wealth produced by the women who have liberated themselves since the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 90 feminist movement began.

* Fair Trade The American businesses that have been losing ground to Japan should be calling for more freedom-and occasionally a few of them have been. But in the main their response has been: "Shackle the Japanese, as we are shackled." They have been calling for tariffs, import quotas, and every form of protectionist legislation as the "answer" to foreign competition. Instead of saying, "Free us up so that we can compete," they have been running to Washington, crying, "Make it illegal for Americans to buy foreign goods." One propaganda device of these businessmen is the claim that they are all in favor of free trade--so long as it is "fair." The so-called "unfairness" implied here is not to the foreign merchant nor to the American consumer, but to a third party, the American businessman, who objects to the transactions between them. This is an act of extreme presumptuousness. A third party has no right to intervene in a transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller, especially not when the third party's complaint is that it is "unfair" to HIM that you, the buyer, are being offered such a bargain. What is he saying, if not that he has a right to your trade, your money, your time, your effort, your life? It is an approach we might expect of a medieval baron upset by someone trading with his serfs. That sort of feudalism is what many American businessmen and labor unions are trying to put over on you in the name of such slogans as "buy American." The proper answer to such complaints is a venerable and very American retort which should be taken literally: "Mind your own business!" Another protectionist scam uses the metaphor of competing "on a level playing field." It is very important to recognize that business is not a game or a sport. In sports, the goals achieved--the touchdowns, homeruns, knockouts--have no utilitarian value. Sports are activities whose meaning lies only in the displays of athletic skill they call forth. Their entire value is in the how, rather than the what. In business activity the opposite is true. The how matters not at all, only the what. Consumers care not a whit how astoundingly adept are the maneuvers accomplished in the factory by an auto worker or how brilliant was the strategy of the company's marketing director. All that matters to the consumer is the utilitarian outcome: how good is the product for his intended use? The metaphor of "a level playing field" has no meaning in business--unless it means an open marketplace without force or fraud, where everyone competes under conditions of free trade by voluntary consent. But open competition is precisely what the level-fielders are opposed to. They want to hobble the foreign producers, to hobble them either by force (tariffs) or fraud (conning Americans into believing that buying foreign products damages our economy). Observe the power of the connotations of words: The Japanese are engaging in "dumping," we are told. But what is being "dumped" on us are inexpensive, high quality products. This dumping consists of reducing the price below what we would have to pay for similar American products. This is also known as "underselling" and is considered a big plus when done domestically by American businesses. How many commercials have you heard that say "we are cheapest," "we will beat any offer," "guaranteed lowest price," etc. They are "dumping" savings on us. The "dumping" actually consists of showering us with wealth.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 91

Chapter 5 RIGHTS AND FREEDOM * Natural Rights * There is no such Thing as Freedom See Rand's essay "The Objectivist Ethics" for a discussion of the idea of "proper survival." And also see her essay "Man's Rights." Both of these essays appear in the book, "The Virtue of Selfishness." See also my essay on flourishing in Chapter 3. See reference

* Natural Rights L. Neil Smith: "Human rights are an aspect of natural law, a consequence of the way the universe works, as solid and as real as photons or the concept of pi. The idea of self-ownership is the equivalent of Pythagoras' theorem, of evolution by natural selection, of general relativity, and of quantum theory. Before humankind discovered any of these, it suffered, to varying degrees, in misery and ignorance. Where they are suppressed or disregarded today, people still suffer. When Pythagoras, Darwin, Einstein, Bohr, and Rand each made his or her uniquely valuable discovery about the way the universe works, mankind took another step away from savagery, toward lasting safety, comfort, pleasure, and convenience." Everything in the universe has a nature, and therefore there are proper and improper ways of interacting with each thing--proper and improper ways of living in the world. Consider the conditions which are required by man's nature for his proper survival. Man's proper survival includes the terms, methods, conditions, and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan--in all those aspects of existence which are open to his choice and which are requisite to his flourishing. There are several categories of these conditions--Physical, Chemical and Social, to name some. In the physical realm we can easily observe that there are several conditions which must prevail if a man is to remain alive. An example is the fact that he must maintain a certain environmental temperature range, outside of which he would either freeze or roast. If for any reason this environmental condition ceases to prevail, man's proper survival comes to a quick and drastic end. We can see other physical conditions necessary as well, such as a continual accomodation to the force of gravity. In the chemical realm also we observe necessary conditions: the existence of an oxygen gas environment, the avoidance from diet of certain chemicals (cyanide, arsenic, strychnine) and the inclusion of certain other chemicals (ascorbic acid). This last case is a good example of the fact that these conditions are necessary for man's PROPER survival, for without the inclusion of an adequate amount of vitamin C, life will not come to the same sort of immediate and drastic end as it would from the elimination of the oxygen gas environment. Nonetheless without the vitamin C man is not in a state of PROPER survival, even though his life does continue on a limited and retarded level. (He merely subsists, he does not flourish.) Rights, as conditions, are not boolean. Just as the need for vitamin C is not. This may help explain why they are so difficult for many people to grasp. Observe also the fact that nature-imposed requirements are of two kinds. It does not suffice for you merely to avoid doing the wrong things--it is also necessary that you DO the right things. You don't get scurvy because you did something wrong, you get it because you didn't do something right. The point I am trying to make is that there are certain conditions arising from man's nature-unavoidable, uncompromising and absolutely necessary conditions--which must be accomodated in order for him to continue in a proper state of existence. While this assertion is easily seen to be indisputable in man's physical and chemical life, I contend that it is equally, though perhaps not so obviously, indisputable in man's social life. There are certain conditions of SOCIAL existence which are necessary for man's proper survival. Conditions which, unlike the physical and chemical conditions, prevail only when man lives in a social context.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 92 Obviously, when a man lives alone in the wilderness, or on a desert island, the physical and chemical conditions prevail just as much as they do when he lives in New York City or Tokyo. However, when he lives in society there are also other conditions which prevail, conditions resulting from his interaction with other men. Just as he must accomodate interaction with a physical universe and with a chemical universe, so when he lives in a society he must accomodate the conditions of a social universe--a universe consisting of the relationships with other men in his environment. There is a name for this set of conditions. It is RIGHTS. Rights spring from the need of the individual to be free in a social context. They are the conditions of social existence required by man's nature for his proper survival. Proper survival means, among other things, life in a society from which coercion is absent. Man is a being of a specific nature; his existence is contingent on specific courses of behavior. To live, man must choose to engage in rational and productive action. But he is also a social being, and it is therefore necessary to derive precepts for social behavior which allow each individual to maintain his own life free from force and fraud. These social precepts are identifications of human rights. The rights of Life, Liberty, and Property are the most basic requirements of human social existence. Consider the right to life: If the society were composed exclusively of murderers, the "proper survival" of each individual man, and therefore of the society, would come to an immediate and drastic end. It is clear that "life" is an unavoidable precondition of social interaction. If you kill everyone you meet, presently there will be no one left for you to meet anymore. There would no longer be a social existence at all, for the simple reason that one of the conditions prerequisite to that existence had been violated. That condition is the right to life. If life is justifiable there must be a justification for the performance of acts essential to its preservation. The essence of individual human life is action based on reason. The right of liberty arises from the fact that the fundamental expressions of rationality are actions of an individual mind, initiated and directed by voluntary choice. This is why only the non-aggression principle allows for the application of rationality in human life. This is the link between reason and ethics, and is the fact that mandates the derivation of ethics from reason rather than from arbitrary decree. Since all human action involves material objects, if only a location in which to exist, men must be free to create material goods for themselves and to use and dispose of those goods. They must have property rights. Consider the right to property: Depriving a person of property is depriving him of the means by which he maintains his life. This is why the right to property is as important as the right to life. One of the major reasons for social cooperation among men is the material benefit to be gained by each man from trade with other men. As you can observe from your own experience there is much less incentive to produce or exchange if you do not have the assurance of being secure in your ownership of the property involved. This security in ownership is the right to property. To the extent that this right is violated, by that much will be diminished the incentive of each man to maintain the economic basis of society. Life, Liberty, and Property--these three are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To allow a man his life, but to deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes life worth living. To allow him his liberty, but to take from him his property, is to deny him all that makes life able to be lived, for a man cannot live without property. See Chapter 4 for a further discussion of property. See reference See Chapter 8 for a further discussion of rights. See reference Some arguments against this theory of Rights: "Although the agencies that enforce rights do not create the objective need for their services, if no agencies provide those services, then there are no rights, just as if no one runs factories, then there is no steel." The flaw in this analogy is that factories CREATE steel, whereas the agencies do not create rights, they merely enforce rights. If no one runs a factory, no steel will be produced, but the proper methods, the principles, of producing steel do not disappear. If no agency helps maintain a civil society, then I may not be able to exercise my right to life, but that does not mean that the right to life ceases to exist. To offer a different analogy: if I have no food, I cannot practice proper nutrition and eventually I will die. But this does not mean that if I am deprived of food the correct principles of nutrition have ceased to exist. If no agencies protect rights, it is not the case there are no rights. There is simply no protection of rights.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 93 To speak of rights as something which can only be accomodated in modern industrial societies is not to speak of natural rights at all, but of figments of the imagination. A right must be something inherent in the nature of man and reality, something that is applicable to his situation at any time and in any age. The right of self-ownership, of defending one's life and property, is clearly that sort of right: it can apply to Neanderthal cavemen, in modern Calcutta, or in the contemporary USA. Such a right is independent of time or place. But a "right" to a job or to three meals a day or to twelve years of schooling is not the same phenomenon. Suppose that such things CANNOT exist, as was true in Neanderthal days or in modern Calcutta. Such "rights" are not embodied in the nature of man, but require for their fulfillment the existence of a group of exploited people who are coerced into providing them. "I have a right to speak freely" can hold true no matter how many people there are, but "I have a right to a comfortable income" can be asserted only when there are enough other people in society to make it possible. If there are not enough producers and too many looters, the assertion becomes impossible to apply. One way to consider these issues is through the realization that rights impose no obligations on other men except of a prohibitive nature. Each man is obliged only to AVOID the violation of the rights of other men (including making any contribution to those who do violate rights). He has no obligation to provide other men with the means of meeting the requirements of their existence. Thus there is no such thing as the "right" to an education (self-education is a moral imperative but it imposes no ethical obligations), or the "right" to a job (every man must be free to engage in productive activity according to his own choices, but this does not give him a claim to the use of another's property). Rights are not a claim to affirmative action imposed by some men on others, therefore any assertion which contains such a claim cannot be a right. Most of these so-called "rights" resemble the "right" of someone who wants to be a concert pianist--but who does not want to practice, or even learn to play. The right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action. A man has the right to support his life by his own work but this does not mean that others must provide him with food, clothing, shelter or any other necessity of life. The right to property means the right to take the economic actions necessary to earn property and to use it and to dispose of it; it does not mean that others must provide the property. The right to free speech means the right to express ideas without danger of suppression, interference or punitive action by government. It does not mean that others must provide the means through which to express one's ideas. Many argue that rights cease to exist in emergencies, and that one may then coerce with impunity because one simply has no other choice. Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute: "I am willing to stipulate that a reasonable moral code would not condemn someone for killing an innocent person when it was the only way to save his own life." What Richman is actually saying is that murdering you is OK if it's the only way HE can imagine to preserve his own wretched existence. The fact that he cannot, or will not, conceive any other way to solve his problems does not make murdering you acceptable. The ignorance and/or incompetence of one man DO NOT constitute justification for violating the rights of another man! Your life does not belong to him, no matter what his situation is. Emergencies neither abrogate the existence of rights nor alter the nature of rights. It is during disasters that rights are most significant for they enable the afflicted individuals to cooperate in combating the disaster and working toward a return to normalcy. Furthermore, knowing that the violation of rights is an unacceptable option will induce people to focus on productive solutions. Your recognition of an inalienable right of another man is not a compromise between two rights, his and yours, but a line of division that preserves both rights intact. For any man to claim the "right" to violate the rights of another man is a contradiction in terms (a denial of the Law of Identity). Such a claim proposes to violate human nature in order to preserve human nature. One cannot rationally claim that a condition of proper human survival necessitates the negation of a condition of proper human survival. Therefore there can be no rights to rob, enslave, or murder. Such "rights" are merely stolen concepts. You cannot say "man has inalienable rights except in an emergency," just as you cannot say "man has inalienable rights except in cold weather or on every second Tuesday," or "man's rights cannot be violated except for good purpose." There are NO rights to the work or property of others, because this would be a claim on the lives of others--a demand for slavery. Rand stated repeatedly that there are no conflicts of interest among rational men. As a precept for guidance in living life on an earth where not everyone has the same level of intellectual functioning, I


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 94 believe her statement to be misleading at best, false at worst. I would modify it to state that there are no conflicts of rights among men living within a rational social structure. A difficult question is that of the ethical status of retaliation and self-defense. (See Chapter 6) If one person violates rights, is the situation rectified by another doing likewise? Do two wrongs make a right? See reference The foundation of all human behavior--both moral and ethical--lies in the Law of Identity. Proper behavior is that which is consistent with this Law; improper behavior is that which attempts to contradict this Law. I asserted above that the violation of rights involves a contradiction of the Law of Identity. It IS consistent, however, to take an action which eliminates such a contradiction, even if that action, when considered out of context, could itself be a negation of the Law of Identity. In ethics, as in the propositional calculus, one negative cancels out another. (I find it personally distasteful, but I can see no way to avoid the conclusion that two wrongs do indeed make a right.) Thus to lie to a man who is trying to rob you, or to kill a man, when defending your own life against his aggression, are ethically legitimate (i.e., logically consistent) actions. There is a distinct ethical difference between committing a crime and engaging in self-defense. Even if this argument is accepted, there still remains the question of degree. Would it be proper to kill a man who has merely stolen an apple? The principle I have described above would make it seem so, but surely such a degree of retaliation would be repugnant to a civilized person. The issue of degree must be dealt with in the context of value-balancing. As Rand has shown, there are rational means of establishing value hierarchies, and it is with reference to such hierarchies that the proper degree of retaliation for particular aggressive actions should be determined. This determination is one of the proper functions of a code of law, and here you can see the major reason why an explicitly formulated and principled framework of justice must lie at the foundation of any social system. If the determination of "degree of retaliation" is left to the personal judgment of the individuals involved, or to the multitude of their hired (or elected) agencies, then it is very unlikely that widespread adherence to rationally-derived principles of justice would exist in society. This would hardly be a suitable context for the ensurance of rights. See Chapter 8 for a discussion of how this "determination" might be accomplished. See reference A closely related problem is the punishment of criminals. If a criminal has intrinsic rights to life, liberty and property, then are not capital punishment, incarceration, and fines violations of the criminal's rights? This might seem to be a plausible argument, but observe that it is based on the assumption that the (criminal's) rights of life, liberty, and property include the notions of life, liberty, and property obtained and maintained AT THE EXPENSE OF ANOTHER PERSON (his victim)--which is precisely how the criminal views those rights. Restitution (instead of punishment) for much criminal behavior has two important beneficial consequences for social order: 1) It ameliorates the condition of the victim and tends to reduce his desire for violent revenge, and 2) It offers the offender the opportunity to restore his place in society. Indeed, the creation of punishment law appears to have increased social disorder precisely because punishment law precludes both of these consequences. There is a conflict between natural law (the theory that man's rights are inherent in his nature, exist independently of government law, and that true laws are enunciations of principles of justice) and legal positivism (the theory that government law itself is the sole basis of man's rights). The legal positivist thesis is that "man's ability to contract, and thereby offer consent, is made possible only by the establishment of a government which can define the rules and enforce the rights that make consent possible in a social context in the first place." However, if this were true it would be impossible for a government to be established by any means that involve contract and consent, which, supposedly, cannot exist prior to the establishment of the government. In general, if rights do not exist until after a government has been established, then there can be no right to establish a government. So by what principled means could government be started? And since there are many and contradictory government theses about the function of laws, which government is to be considered the determinator of true laws? If today you can get the government to allow you something, then tomorrow somebody else can get it to deny you that thing. Therefore, if rights are determined by government then they must be arbitrary. They cannot be fixed. The laws regulating gold ownership exemplify how the government turns the "right" to own property on and off arbitrarily.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 95 Furthermore, if there were no natural rights--no independently-existing ethical principles--then there could be no standard for judging the legitimacy or efficacy of government-made laws--no means by which the behavior of government could itself be evaluated. In the legal positivist thesis, "government" is a stolen concept. But then, "government" has always been antonymous to "rights." Group Rights: There are several conditions which must be met for human survival. These conditions cannot cease to exist, not while human beings as we know them exist, because they are intrinsic to the nature of human beings, just as is his need for vitamin C. By their nature, these conditions are neither owned nor possessed and therefore they cannot be transferred or delegated. Rights are existing conditions or necessities, they are not transferable entities. (Thus it is not strictly correct to say, "I have a right to ...." A more precise statement is, "There is a right to ....") But I CAN delegate my rightful authority to take actions that manifest my rights and ensure their continuance. An example of this would be hiring a bodyguard. An individual has a right to delegate his authority--to one or more people. Thus do groups acquire legitimacy for their behavior. Groups have power, privilege, or authority, but they do not have rights. Only individuals have rights, because from a moral or ethical perspective a group is nothing more than an aggregate of individuals. We can see now that rights are not something that an individual "possesses" and that can be granted to him or taken away from him. They are conditions of existence which can be protected, ignored, or violated--with accompanying beneficial or detrimental results to men living in a social context. Rights are social conditions required for the existence of human society. Just as violation of the physical and chemical conditions required for individual well-being inevitably results in a deranged individual, violation of social conditions--rights--will inevitably result in a deranged society. The idea of "man's proper survival" means not merely those conditions which apply to individual people, but also those conditions which apply to cultures. A culture whose members are not willing to act to preserve their rights will not survive. To ensure the proper survival of a culture there are several things that must be done: 1) Prevent the establishment of authoritarian institutions. 2) Transmit to your children rational moral and ethical principles. 3) Teach your children the importance of moral/ethical autonomy. Teach them to reject all attempts to induce them to accept any judgment other than their own regarding the propriety of their behavior--that if they judge an action to be wrong, then they must not do it, no matter who tells them to do it. Note that I use the terms "liberty" and "freedom" synonymously throughout my writings. I don't see any justification for making a distinction between those terms.

* There is no such Thing as Freedom There are three aspects to the idea of freedom: Physical, Psychological and Social. In physical terms, freedom--or the lack of it--refers to the constraints imposed by the laws of nature. For example: you are not free to flap your arms and fly through the sky. You are not free to breathe water, like a fish. This is not the sort of freedom I am going to talk about. In psychological terms freedom refers to the constraints you may impose upon yourself because of your state of mind. For example: you may not be free to get a broken tooth fixed, simply because you dread going to a dentist. You may not be free to learn how to ski, simply because of your lack of selfconfidence. This too, is not the sort of freedom I will deal with in this essay. It is freedom in the context of interacting with other people that is my concern. I will try to make a precise statement of just what that kind of freedom is. Consider these pairs of terms: Light Sound Heat Slavery -

Darkness Silence Cold Freedom

Let us examine the first of these pairs, light - darkness. Light is defined as electromagnetic radiation in


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 96 a certain range of wavelengths. As such, we can easily understand and deal with the characteristics of light. We can measure stronger or weaker lights in terms of candlepower or lumens. We can identify different wavelengths of light and call them colors. We can produce light by means of light bulbs and torches. Light is a real existing thing. What then is darkness? Darkness is not a real existing thing. It is merely a term of convenience which we apply to a situation from which light is absent. You will observe that there are no units of measurement for darkness. There are not greater or lesser darknesses (what is greater or lesser in this situation is the amount of light present) nor are there different characteristics of darkness--there is only one kind of darkness and that is the complete absence of light. So long as there is any light at all present we cannot truthfully say that we have darkness but rather that we have a greater or lesser degree of illumination. Now consider the second pair, sound - silence. Sound is defined as a certain sort of motion of the air. Sound comes in various degrees, namely louder and softer. It comes also in various types, namely of a higher or lower pitch. As with light, you can see (or rather, hear) that sound is a real existing thing. Silence, however, is not. It is merely a term of convenience which we apply to a situation from which sound is absent. And as with darkness, there is only one degree of silence, the complete absence of sound. So long as there is any sound present at all we cannot speak of silence but rather of more or less noise. Now on to the third pair, heat - cold. Heat is a manifestation of the molecular energy in an object. We can make a measurement of heat by means of a thermometer and we can see (or feel) that heat comes in various degrees of temperature, and thereby we know that this energy content is a real existing thing. So what is cold? Cold is the absence of heat. Cold is not a real thing. You might now be tempted to say: "Humbug! I know cold is real. My refrigerator makes my milk cold. I know this because I drink the cold milk." Well, your refrigerator does not put cold into the milk. What it does is to take heat out of the milk. The refrigerator is a "heat pump" which pumps the heat from the inside of the box to the outside. (You can feel the heat coming off of the radiator on the back of the refrigerator.) You will note that we have thermometers for measuring heat, but there is no device for measuring cold. You will note that heat is measured in degrees (fahrenheit or centigrade), but there is no unit of measurement which indicates coldness. Strictly speaking, there is only one degree of cold, and that is absolute zero, the point at which all the heat has been removed from an object. So you can see that it is not cold that is a real existing thing, but rather heat. Now consider the fourth pair of terms, slavery - freedom. Keeping in mind the previous three distinctions I made, let us see what, in this context, is the real existing thing and what is merely a term used to indicate an absence. Consider that we can take a man and by the application of physical force we can compel him to submit to our will. We can also compel him to submit by threatening him with force. We can bind a man in chains; we can lock him in a cage; we can threaten to deprive him of his property, his liberty, or even his life. And thus we can force him to submit to our will. Surely you recognize this as the imposition of slavery. And you can see that slavery is a real existing state of affairs. There are degrees of slavery: some men are completely enslaved, such as negroes in the pre-civil-war South. Other men are more or less enslaved according to the amount of force or threat of force to which they are subjected. So, if slavery is a real existing thing, what then is freedom? Is it not a real thing? After all, men have been willing to fight for it and to die for it all through history. Do they fight and even die for a nothing? For a notion that does not exist in reality? Is it not true that a man will go out and fight against tyranny, and when he has destroyed the tyrant does he not smile and say, "Now I have freedom!"? Doesn't he have something that he did not have before? Namely freedom? Well, let us see what he does have and what he does not have. Before, when he was living under the tyranny, there was imposed upon him a force or a threat of force, to which he was compelled to submit. Then, when he fought, his objective was to destroy the tyrant. When he fought he did not take some thing away from the tyrant; rather, he destroyed the thing that the tyrant had used against him. The thing destroyed was the tyrant's ability to compel. And then, after his success, when he said, "Now I have freedom!" did he possess any real thing as a result of his fight? Obviously not. No real existing thing has come into his possession which he did not previously possess. What has changed is that he is now living in a different social situation. Whereas before there was force now there is not. And this situation is what he calls freedom. Freedom is the absence of slavery. Freedom is not a real existing thing, it is rather the term we apply to a situation from which compulsion is absent. I want now to make the most critically important point of my essay. I have maintained that darkness,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 97 silence, cold and freedom are not real existing things. What I have said is true. But what I have said, if not properly understood, can be fatally misleading. Consider one more example of the same nature as those I have illustrated: You can pluck a rock out of the ground, leaving a hole, and you can say that it is the rock that is the real thing and that the hole is merely the absence of the rock, and therefore not real. That is the frame of reference I have used throughout this essay, and it is correct, as far as it goes. But it is certainly not complete. Just as you might stumble over the rock and break your leg, so you might fall into the hole and break your leg. Your relationship to the hole, you see, is a rather important situation. Even though we may consider the hole as being merely the absence of the rock, it certainly does have relevance to your life. And although I have said that darkness, silence, cold and freedom are merely absences, I do not mean to deny their relevance to life. The absence of light which is a blind man's darkness is crucially important. The absence of sound which is a deaf man's silence is very relevant. The absence of heat which is a dead man's cold is undeniably significant. And the absence of slavery which means the freedom of Man is the basis of all human progress.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 98

Chapter 6 THE ETHICS UNDERLYING SOCIAL STRUCTURE

* Some Ethical Concepts Defined * Philosophy Underlies Society * Foundation of Law * Stateolatry * Miscellaneous Ethical Topics * The "Nothing to Hide" argument * Voting * Majority Rule - Democracy * Abortion * Ethics as Black-and-White * Honesty vs. Dishonesty * Crime - The Criminal Mentality * Hate Crimes * Conspiracy * What is a Slave? * Profound Ethical Concerns * Charity - Egalitarianism - Welfarism * Coerced Compassion * Effect of Social Complexity on Statism * The Philosophical Chameleon * Dual Ideologies * Hallmarks of a Conservative * Libertarian Foreign Policy * The Ethical Carnivore * Voluntary vs. Coercive - Trade vs. Theft * Self-Defense * Preemptive Force * Rules vs. Principles * Polygamy vs. Monogamy Forgiveness

Thoreau might have written only yesterday about our government today. What makes his commentary so timeless in its application is that he saw beneath the superficial manifestations of government to its underlying principles of operation. What is important is to define the condition toward which the human community should be advancing, to set the social goals toward which the men and women of good will should strive, to identify the general relationships that should exist between human beings, to produce a schematic for civilized life, a set of instructions. This is the intent of my writings on Ethics. •

Some Ethical Concepts Defined

term: ethics politics libertarianism statism anarchy

genus: human behavior human behavior political principle political principle political structure

differentia: interpersonal the organization of society voluntary coercive voluntary


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 99 government

political structure

coercive

Ethics is the study of interpersonal human behavior. There are several such forms of behavior: sexual, economic, and political, to name a few. In each of these behaviors an interaction occurs between two or more people. In sexual behavior, for example, the interaction involves erotic stimulation. In economic behavior the interaction involves material wealth. And in political behavior the interaction involves human liberty. In each case there are two fundamental manners in which the interaction can transpire: coercively or voluntarily. In sex I would identify these as rape vs. consensual sex. In economics I would identify them as theft vs. trade. And in politics I would identify them as statism vs. libertarianism. Libertarianism is the statement of a political principle. As John Hospers described it: "...a philosophy of personal liberty--the liberty of each person to live according to his own choices, provided that he does not attempt to coerce others and thus prevent them from living according to their choices. Libertarians hold this to be an inalienable right of man; thus, libertarianism represents a total commitment to the concept of individual rights." Libertarianism, as a political philosophy, is concerned with the appropriate use of force. It asks one question: Under what conditions is the use of force justified? And it gives one answer: Only in response to coercion. The opposite of libertarianism is statism, the principle that it is proper for a selected subgroup of the community to coerce the behavior of the others. Anarchy is a narrower term, contained within the context of libertarianism, and referring to the social institution by means of which the principle of libertarianism would be implemented. Government is the social institution by means of which the principle of statism is implemented. In practice throughout history, the fundamental distinguishing characteristic of government has been that it is an institution comprised of the strongest gang of aggressors in a particular area at a particular time. Government is not itself a principle but is the institutionalization of an ethical principle. A gang of bandits becomes a government when it establishes a social institution for the purpose of implementing its principle of coercion. Consider that when people live together in a society, that is, a group in which interactions can take place among all the members, there must be institutionalized a set of ethical standards of behavior designed to inhibit actions which would result in the violation of freedom. This is the ostensible (but NOT historical) purpose of a legal system. A society can have either non-aggression or coercion as its standard of behavior. In accordance with the first (libertarian) alternative, the social institution (legal system) for implementing that standard of behavior will be an anarchy. On the other hand, if coercion is the standard of behavior then a government will be the implementing institution. An anarchic society is not a Utopia in which the inititation of violence is impossible. Rather, it is a society which does not institutionalize the initiation of force and in which there are means for dealing with aggression justly when it does occur. The absence of government does not mean the absence of violence. It simply means the absence of an official, legal, institutional tool for its imposition. A statist society is one in which aggression is institutionalized. •

* Philosophy Underlies Society

Philosophical principles are food for the mind in just the same sense that there is food for the body. It is not necessary that you eat poison to be sick--it suffices merely that you fail to eat the proper food. For example, you will suffer if you fail to eat vitamin C. In just the same way, an individual person--or a social organization--will suffer not only if it implements wicked philosophical principles, but also if it simply fails to implement proper philosophical principles. In the case of an individual, that failure will be manifest when a person acts on the basis of his principles. To the extent that the principles do not correspond to reality, the actions he takes will fail to achieve beneficial values. Thus it is that a philosophical failure will have destructive consequences to individual existence. In the case of a society, the danger ensues from the fact that there will always be individuals whose personal beliefs lead them to perform actions which violate rights. Wicked people are drawn toward the state because the state is able to protect them from the costs of their choices and save them the expense (or potential danger) of implementing their wickedness. Many individuals would behave wickedly if they


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 100 could. However, the institutional arrangements within which they live their lives determine whether or not such abuses can actually be carried out. If social institutions fail to accomodate this fact, the actions of the wicked individuals will be detrimental to the society. Further, the deliberate institutionalization of rights-violating behavior (e.g., government) is akin to the dietary failure of actually eating poison. Thus it is that a philosophical failure will have destructive consequences to social existence. Society doesn't function because government intervenes occasionally to resolve disputes. Rather, the vast majority of people depend on continuing relationships wherein it's customary to keep one's word, treat others with respect, and comply with mutually beneficial norms. These privately-developed norms are the glue which holds society together, by and large in spite of the interference of government. Here are examples of two different norms, each of which produces a completely different type of ethical behavior, depending on the acceptance or rejection of government interference in an interpersonal relationship. They show that your ethics depends, in large part, simply on what you have been brought up to believe. Consider a man and a woman who have lived together in a state of intimacy for 20 years. At the end of that time, they decide that the best thing for them to do would be to go their separate ways and each live independently of the other. So what happens? Each hires a lawyer, goes to court, and attempts to induce the government to use its coercive power against the other. This sort of divorce occurs so frequently that it is considered a natural process--to be expected--even inevitable. But in fact there is nothing natural, expectable, or inevitable about this conflict. It is simply the result of a mistaken cultural norm which could easily be corrected by a fundamental alteration in the individuals' perspective on government. Consider a man and a woman who have lived together in a state of intimacy for 20 years. At the end of that time, they decide that the best thing for them to do would be to go their separate ways and each live independently of the other. In this case, it would be unthinkable for them to go through the above described legal process. Why unthinkable? Well, don't you see, they are not husband and wife, but father and daughter (or mother and son). These scenarios show that people DO know how to live together without government. (They also illustrate the contention that many of society's problems would simply vanish within a libertarian context.) But people just don't or can't think about how to extend or generalize that knowledge beyond specific relationships. Their situation is just as much a state of mind as it is an imposed political condition. People CAN live peaceful, productive, and cooperative lives--once they cease to regard government as an acceptable arbiter of their interpersonal relationships. The Hutterite sect of Christianity, which has existed for over 400 years, has never experienced an act of murder by one of its members. Many people consider philosophy to be very largely an affair of acquiring and then displaying certain clever techniques of logico-linguistic proficiency. Or they seem to want a philosophy resembling the multiplication table or the periodic table of the elements. They want it to be such that all philosophy is mechanistically determinate. So that whenever faced with an alternative they can simply consult this "look-up" table and thereby be relieved of the necessity of intellectual effort. They want an answer to every question--even before it has been asked. Maybe what they really DON'T want is the recognition of personal responsibility. They want a philosophy that takes this burden off their shoulders. Responsibility must come from within, as a commitment to one's own values, rather than from the outside, as a duty to God, family, or government. Responsibility in action flows from a sense of self-ownership, motivation by values rather than duties, and independence of mind. The perspective of personal moral responsibility for one's actions is being abandoned--it has nearly been culturally lost--and the result is what you see in everyday newspaper headlines: mayhem and brutality. Richard Adams, in his book WATERSHIP DOWN, made a profoundly important identification of a connection between the individual and the group: "The current that flows (among creatures who think of themselves primarily as part of a group and only secondarily, if at all, as individuals) to fuse them together and impel them into action without conscious thought or will." This is the connection that explains why people will do things when in a group context that they would never do when acting as individuals: How a man will behave in a social context depends very much on his self-image. Branden maintains that the fundamental moral "sin" is the failure to choose to think (see THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM, chapter 4). I would draw a parallel to this contention in the field of ethics and maintain that the fundamental ethical "sin" is the failure to choose to judge. Specifically, the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 101 failure to make judgments about the ethical propriety of your own behavior, and instead to allow yourself to become merely an instrument of someone else's judgments. Rand observed that the most contemptible man is the man without a purpose. I believe the most evil man is the man who allows his purpose to be determined by others. This is the man who implements in practice the ideas proposed by men who would otherwise be impotent. Without these men, the Hitlers of the world would each have to do his own murders personally, and would not be able to act through a social institution comprised of people trained to accept any judgment--any choice--governing their behavior. Any judgment, that is, except their own. The most widespread excuse for this failure is the claim that "I was only doing my job." I call this the "Nuremberg Defense" as it was the most common defense offered by the Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials. Whenever you hear this claim, what you are hearing is an attempt to justify ethical viciousness on the grounds that the perpetrator has abandoned his own judgment and accepted the propriety of acting according to the judgment of someone else. The Nuremberg Defense tries to divorce action from choice and thus avoid the assignment of guilt. This "default of judgment" phenomenon lies at the base of all government police agencies and all military organizations. But this process works only with "group man." It does not work at all with the individualist. The individualist is the person who has a higher allegiance to his own conscience than to the rules others set down for him. The individualist thinks and judges independently, valuing nothing higher than the sovereignty of his own intellect. He does not allow others to determine his ethos. He is not the sort of chaff that makes good fodder for a tyranny. •

* Foundation of Law

Natural Law is the grounding of human values in physical law--the facts of reality and of human nature. A physical law is a necessity imposed on an entity by the entity's nature. It is a cause which mandates an effect: appropriate behavior. The law arises from the interaction of the facts of the entity's nature with other facts of reality: those of its environment. Thus a natural law is practical--it must always "work"--because it relates to things as they really are. This is why, as Rand observed, the moral IS the practical. While it is generally recognized that man's physical and even his mental nature are subject to the rule of natural law, it is just as generally assumed that the area of ethics is completely outside the scope of natural law. This assumption is held tacitly, rather than being identifed and defended, simply because it CAN'T be rationally defended. It is quite foolish to assert that man is a being with a specific nature and therefore subject to the rule of principles derived from that nature in all areas except his dealings with other men. Do men cease to have a specific nature when they come into relationship with other men? Of course not! Natural law does indeed apply to human relationships, and it is just as objective, universal, and inescapable in this area as in any other. The proof of this is that actions have consequences--in the realm of human relations as surely as in the realm of human medicine. No matter how cleverly a man schemes, he will suffer if he insists on acting in a manner which contradicts the nature of human existence. The consequences may not be immediate, and they may not be readily apparent, but they are inescapable. The law of supply and demand, and all other market laws, are really natural laws, arising from the nature and needs of man. The fact that market laws are natural laws explains why a free market works and a controlled-market doesn't: natural law is always practical--it always "works." "True law is right reason, consonant with nature, diffused among all men, constant, eternal." .... Cicero Thus man-made law must be identified rather than invented or decreed, as is the case with government legislation. Law is necessary for the survival and development of individual liberty, but decreed legislation is its nemesis. Arbitrary legislation destroys the very certainty that we seek from natural law: People can never be certain that the legislation in force today will be in force tomorrow. As a result, they are prevented not only from freely deciding how to behave but also from foreseeing the legal effects of their daily behavior. Legislation also often disrupts established inter-personal conventions that have hitherto been voluntarily accepted and held to by individuals. Even the possibility of nullifying these conventions tends to induce people to ignore them, no matter how they may have come into existence. Man's only duty is to respect others' rights and man's only right over others is the enforcement of that duty. A free society exists when people recognize, through the implementation of natural law, that individuals have the right to own property and to use their bodies and minds as each sees fit. Their


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 102 recognition of this right consists in their accepting a duty not to interfere with these free actions of individuals. This natural law has the enormous advantage of being the only collective rule compatible with individual freedom and autonomy. This is the only rational way in which society can cope with the problem posed by nonagreement about "The Good." Every bit of human progress has happened for a single, simple reason: the elevation of the status of the individual. Each time civilization has stumbled into another age that is a little better, a bit more enlightened, than the ones before it, it's because people respected other people as individuals. When they haven't, those have been the times of cultural decline. One of America's greatest shortcomings is that almost everything nowadays is geared against the individual and in favor of the big institutions--big corporations, big unions, big banking, big government. So not only does an individual have trouble getting ahead and staying there, he often has difficulty merely in surviving. And whenever bad things happen--inflation, devaluation, depression, shortages, higher taxes, even wars--it isn't so much the big institutions which get hurt, it's the individual, every time. More and more, individuals are being deprived of the power of autonomous decision, and being allowed only the power of choice among the things government permits. The more they depend on government, the more limited those choices become. What must be reinstated is the opportunity for the individual to make decisions that count. Small wonder that many people in big cities seem so despairing: nothing they see indicates any care for what the individual thinks or desires. Hitler: "The individual must finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole... that above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual." •

* Stateolatry

The opposite of libertarianism is statism, the principle that it is proper for the community (or a selected subgroup thereof) to compel the behavior of its individual members. The most firmly held myth in the world today is that society cannot possibly exist without government. This myth is as decisive as belief in God was for the people of Medieval European Society. This myth is held so firmly and fundamentally by many people that they are entirely unaware even that they hold it. The stateolatrist is so devout a statist that he views government as an object of almost religious worship. He regards government as being the ultimate foundation of morality and ethics, and as an absolute prerequisite to civilized human existence. He is unable to conceive that the time could ever come when government will fade into an anonymity as deep as that of its humblest subjects. He is one manifestation of what Eric Hoffer described as a "True Believer." A hallmark of the stateolatrist is the inability to perceive the fundamental similarity between government viciousness and criminal viciousness. He is not merely a patriot who loves his country, he is so overwhelmed by his devotion that he cannot see the vicious reality of that which he loves. PATRIOT GAMES by Tom Clancy is a remarkable book. Not for the story itself, but for what it shows about the mentality of the author. Never have I seen such a blatant display of the stateolatrist syndrome. Clancy, who is an excellent writer and storyteller, portrays with great clarity the nature of terrorist behavior and the exactly identical nature of government behavior, but then distinguishes between them with such a transparent film of verbal gloss that in many places I laughed out loud with amazement. Clancy's writing is an unparalleled example of a devout statist who is totally self-blinded to the fundamental identicality of terrorism and government. In describing terrorists, one of Clancy's characters remarks: "They don't relate to the people around them as being real people. They see them as objects, and since they're only objects, whatever happens to them is not important. Once I met a man who killed four people and didn't bat an eye; but he cried like a baby when we told him his cat died. People like that don't even understand why they get sent to prison; they really don't understand. Those are the scary ones." Clancy would be appalled at the idea that this same description could be applied to the FBI and the BATF "terrorists" guilty of the Waco massacre. For another good illustration of this syndrome see Heinlein's CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY, pg 180. Here you can see a character to whom government is so unquestionably pervasive that he describes human culture without reference to it, just as you might describe society without reference to the air we breathe.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 103 Everyone is so immersed in the context of statism that no one really knows the other alternative. Even though the peoples of the former Soviet Union might WANT to establish free markets, they simply do not know what they are. Most people do not realize they could even HAVE any control over their own economic situation. Because their life is so wrapped up in bureaucracy and law, no one has any idea that government could be circumvented. So long as people cannot perceive alternatives for comparison they will never even become aware that they are oppressed. They will not only lack any impulse to rebel, they will lack even the power of grasping that the world could be other than what it is. As Orwell observed: "You will lose the ability to think certain ideas, and then you will be totally incapable of ever trying to act on those ideas." The only way out of this statist situation is for people someday to realize that governments are NOT necessary for civilization--that in fact governments are an impediment to civilization. When the day comes that enough people are disillusioned with government, government will simply cease to exist. It will go the way of Alchemy, Phrenology, the Flat Earth, and other similar errors that were eventually discarded as being useless. This is why I do not think anarchism to be utopian. Today it is only a dream, a dream that will not soon come true, but if the idea is preserved it will be used in the future. Consider this: all government is founded upon Lies. But a lie will not fit a fact. It will only fit another lie derived for the purpose. Therefore the life of a lie, and of government, is simply a question of time. Nothing but truth is immortal: 99.9 percent of all the laws ever passed by governments have vanished from the society of mankind. But Aristotle's laws of logic, Archimedes' laws of buoyancy, and Euclid's laws of geometry persevere immutably. •

* Miscellaneous Ethical Topics

•

* The "Nothing to Hide" argument

When proposing an augmentation of government power, especially an increase in the government's intrusions into personal lives, statist-minded people frequently use the argument: "There is nothing to be concerned about, as long as you have nothing to hide." But everyone has something to hide - as long as the government has the power to make victimless crime laws. Such laws can affect EVERY individual's personal life, past, present and future. Once they outlawed whiskey, then they legalized it again and outlawed gold. Then they legalized that and outlawed marijuana. Next week it may be the cheese police that we all must fear, when the Department of Homeland Security outlaws Swiss Cheese. Potentially everyone has something to hide! It may be anal sex in Georgia, medical marijuana use in Oregon, or a gay/lesbian marriage anywhere in the country. NO ONE is safe from victimless-crime laws. No one. The list of things that have been turned on and/or turned off legally (sometimes repeatedly) in various places throughout the history of the USA is too long to enumerate here. EVERYONE has something to hide! Gold Whiskey Marijuana Hitchhiking Dancing Pinball machines Weapons Gambling in any of its forms Sexual activities Pornography Mail delivery Marriage relationships Economic interactions of any kind Various food additives Vacations in Cuba Various medical drugs


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 104 Please don't fault me for failing to list your favorite example - I just don't have space for them all! As I note in Chapter 7, there are LOTS of them! See reference

* Voting Voting is an indicator of personal intellectual and moral inadequacy: anyone whose memory is strong enough to recall the claims made during past elections--and what was subsequently done by the winning candidates--will realize full well the fraudulence and futility of electoral politics. By voting, you advocated an undertaking you didn't fully understand. You were a participant in an activity you failed to supervise. You did not check on the behavior of a man whom you knew from experience to be a liar, and you permitted that man to screw around with the most dangerous technology in human history. I'd say you shirked your responsibility. There is a conflict in voting which is not found in the marketplace. Market choices conflict only in the sense that buying a given good leaves you LESS money (not NO money) for the purchase of other goods. While you can buy some pretzels and some pizza, you can't vote for some Bush and some Clinton. In a market, the individual is never placed in the position of being a dissenting (and powerless) minority. In America, voting is an all-or-nothing proposition: you either win all or you lose all. If you can get 51% of the vote, you get 100% of the power. No matter whether an office is filled by an 80% voter turnout or by a 15% voter turnout, the office holder has the full power of the office. If you are on the losing side--the minority--you get nothing. The alternative presented to the voter is absolutely exclusive: the selection of one TOTALLY precludes the other. Electoral politics is the opportunity to choose among rulers none of whom you want, and the obligation to accept the ones you end up with. Participation in electoral politics serves to legitimize the entire political process and the existence of government. Voting cannot do otherwise than reaffirm the government's supposed legitimacy. If people did not vote, the democratic theory of government would lose its legitimacy and politicians would have to justify their rule on the basis of something other than the alleged consent of the governed. This, hopefully, would make the true nature of the State more obvious to the governed. And such a revelation might have the potential to motivate people to challenge or evade government coercion. To commit a crime by proxy is to have someone else impose your will for you. The most convenient and frequent manner of committing acts of harm by proxy is to use government to commit the crimes you want done. All you have to do is vote for whichever criminal promises to use force in the way you wish. The very act of voting is an attempt on the part of voters to delegate to another person a power that they could not justly possess themselves. When you vote you participate in the selection of an officeholder. Thus you acquire responsibility for his subsequent behavior--regardless of who gains the office. Your participation is your concession that there should indeed BE elected officials with the power of coercion. In voting, you give your sanction to the institution that enables the officials to coerce. Even though you may not approve of the particular officials who attain office, you DO approve of the enabling institution. Government is based on coercion, but individuals should not have the authority to coerce others, and therefore they should not put themselves in a position to delegate such authority to third parties, which is the essence of voting. Every time you step into a voting booth you license a potential killer or thief. Some advocates of voting, when faced with the accusation that they are perpetrating this evil, will counter with the assertion that your means of control over the situation is to exercise your right to vote, and that if you don't do so, you have no right to complain about the situation ("If you don't vote, don't complain!" is what they say). Consider the nature of the demand they are laying on you: your alternative is either to participate in the wickedness (by voting) or refuse to participate and thus be condemned to submit in silent acquiescence to being victimized by the wickedness. In fact, only those who do NOT vote have a legitimate moral right to complain: they are the only ones who give no sanction or support to their persecutors. Imagine a neighborhood in which two bullies dominate and intimidate everyone. But they're democratic-minded bullies: they allow all (well, almost all) the neighbors to vote every four years in an election to determine which of the bullies will be empowered to possess a big stick and for the next four years to rule the neighborhood, beating and robbing all the residents. Now imagine that one poor


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 105 persecuted resident complains about being beaten and robbed, and in response is told: "Well, if you don't like bully D then next time express your preference for bully R--but unless you choose one of these bullies, you have no right to complain about being beaten and robbed." Such a demand for willing self-immolation is an act of inexcuseable viciousness--worse even than the beating and robbing! When they tell me "If you don't vote, don't complain!" I simply quote Thoreau to them: "I cast my whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but my whole influence." If you don't Shrug, don't complain! Voting is a willing participation in your enemy's social institution. It is a form of collaboration. When you vote, you are devoting a part of your time and energy to making a contribution to the political system. Your participation itself constitutes that contribution, regardless of the intent of, or specific form of, that participation. Like they say, it doesn't matter who you vote for, as long as you vote. Any participation in the electoral process can be used by tyrants as evidence of sanction for their actions. After all, they won--fair and square--didn't they? If you consider voting to be acceptable, then you must consider it acceptable for the winning candidates to hold power in a coercive government. The ultimate political issue is that of the Individual vs. the State. But the voter, by virtue of his behavior, has already cast his lot with the State. Each candidate wants to use the State in a different way--but each wants to use the State. Obviously, this is a game in which only the State can win. By playing the game, you demonstrate your conviction that the game should be played. The difference between a bullet and a ballot is that a bullet can be precisely aimed at a deserving target whereas a ballot attacks innocent third parties who must endure the consequences of the politician who has been put into a position of unjust power over their lives. Whoever puts a man into a position of unjust power--that is, a position of political power--must share responsibility for every aggression he perpetrates thereafter. There is plenty of mass-media crowing about the "high voter turnout" (about 55%--that's high?), as an "affirmation of the system," and a "strong endorsement of democracy." Nobody mentions the message of the 45% abstention. It is often said that refusal to vote means that one is left with no voice at all. But that implies that having a voice in the coercive proceedings of government is proper and desirable. If voting could have kept this totalitarianism from happening, we wouldn't have the police-state we have got, because people are forever voting and they've certainly had enough opportunities to stop it or turn it aside if that was possible. On the contrary, it is the process of voting that has made it possible. Back during the Vietnam era, the protestors used to say "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" That represents only a superficial analysis of the political system. A more fundamental analysis is represented by the question "What if they gave an election and nobody came?" (But then, Australia has an answer for that!) John Galt (Part3, Chapter8): "It's the attempt of your betters to beat you on YOUR terms that has allowed your kind to get away with it for centuries. Which one of us would succeed, if I were to compete with you for control over your musclemen? .... I'd perish and what you'd win would be what you've always won in the past: a postponement, one more stay of execution, for another year--or month--bought at the price of whatever hope and effort might still be squeezed out of the best of the human remnants left around you, including me." From Ayn Rand's notes for ATLAS SHRUGGED: By accepting his decisions, which she knows to be wrong, then by helping him to carry out bad ideas well, she only helps him to run the railroad badly and thus contradicts and defeats her own purpose, which was to run it well. She postpones the natural consequences of his bad decisions and thus leaves him free and gives him the means to do more damage to the railroad by more bad decisions, and worse ones. A bad thing well done is more dangerous and disastrous than a bad thing badly done. For example: an efficient robbery is worse for the victim than an inefficient one. Thoreau (Civil Disobedience): "All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked, I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 106 right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting FOR THE RIGHT is DOING nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the actions of masses of men.... It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.... Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence." A black African guerilla, commenting on voting: "Vote, what is a vote? I don't have a vote in Mozambique. They don't have the vote in Zambia or Zimbabwe or Angola or Tanzania. Nobody has the vote in Africa, except perhaps once in a man's life to elect a president-for-life and a one-party government. Vote? You can't eat a vote. You can't dress in a vote, or ride to work on it. For two thousand rand a month and a full belly you can have my vote." Only if people are viewed as exclusively political creatures is the view correct that democracy is an important criterion of human rights. Voting is like going into a room through one of two doors. Whichever one you choose you end up in the same room. A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years. Voting would make ME feel like a swim in the sewer. It would leave me with a sense of spiritual pollution.

* Majority Rule - Democracy In America, it is claimed, we have "majority rule." Just what do we have in fact? To find out, let us analyze a recent presidential election. I chose the Johnson-Goldwater election of 1964 because the winner of that election received the greatest plurality of votes of any recent (during the past half-century) election: Johnson received 61% of the votes cast. But was this landslide victory an expression of "majority rule"? I think not. Certainly Johnson can be said to represent a majority of the voters--61% is, after all, almost two-thirds. But when you consider the total number of eligible voters you discover that Johnson represents only 37% of them (they didn't all choose to vote, you see). So Johnson represents only a bit over one-third of the voting-age population of the country. That can hardly be said to be a majority! But even this is not a fair assessment of the situation. Johnson was, after all, not merely president over those who chose to vote for him; not merely president over those who were qualified to vote; he was president over EVERYBODY! And out of that "everybody" how many actually expressed a choice to have Johnson as their president? 22%. Yeah, only about one person in five expressed a choice for Johnson. As I said, I deliberately picked this election as an example. Any other recent election shows even more strikingly that this so-called "majority" is a quite small fraction of the population. The notion of "majority rule" is hogwash! As L. Neil Smith observed: "The REAL majority always loses." Shortly after the 1964 election I realized that the American electoral process contains a fundamental flaw. When you vote, the only choice you have is to vote FOR one candidate or FOR another candidate. There is no way you can vote AGAINST any candidate. There is no "NO" choice on the ballot, only "YES" choices. This realization was one of the things that turned me off to the idea of politics. You have no doubt heard (many times) of a disgruntled voter going to the polls to choose "the lesser of two evils." I realized that the lesser of two evils is still an evil, and to express a preference for that evil is to don the cloak of moral culpability for his subsequent behavior. I observed with interest a peculiar electoral quirk during the 1976 elections. The LP, after the expenditure of an enormous amount of time, energy and money, was able to get "None of the above" placed on the ballot in Nevada. Thus there were three options available to the Nevada electorate when they went into the polling booth to elect their congressman: the Democrat, the Republican, and None of the Above. The outcome of this election was very interesting: the Democrat received 23% of the votes, the Republican received 29%, and NOTA received a whopping 47%. Can you guess what happened? Very simple: the Republican went to Washington as the congressman from Nevada. As of 1990, NOTA is still on the ballot in Nevada, but the winner of every election is that PERSON who gains the greatest


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 107 number of votes. Votes cast for NOTA are simply wasted. It is intrinsic to the American Constitution that there MUST be a government. The people CANNOT choose "No Government"--that is not provided for in the Constitution. Sure, the Declaration of Independence observes the right of the people to "alter or abolish" their government, but the Declaration of Independence is not a legal document. I found it fascinating to watch the first post-Soviet general elections in Russia. They had an explicit choice on their ballots: Yes or No for any (and all) particular candidates. Such a large number of the Communist candidates (who ran unopposed) received a preponderance of "No" votes that run-off elections were held a couple weeks later. Those "No" votes were indeed counted--unlike the NOTA votes in Nevada. I found it fascinating also to watch the subsequent Hungarian elections, which were held with the stipulation that unless at least 51% of the voting population did participate, the elections would be invalid. The Hungarian government has a more acute sense of "majority" than does the American government. In a recent election for the Fremont County, Wyoming, government, only 13% of the population voted, and yet the government selected by a majority of that tiny percentage does indeed rule Fremont County. Some "majority rule" that is!! American voter turnout as percent of voting age population, during national off-year elections: 1966 47.9 1970 47.9 1974 38.9 1978 45.9 1982 48.5 1986 46.0 1990 45.0 Since 1972, when 18-year-olds first went to the polls, their election participation has steadily declined. In 1990 less than 19% of the 18 to 20 age group voted. The majority is invariably wrong. Consider the fact that every major breakthrough in man's understanding of the world has always been greeted with indifference or opposition by the majority. When private individuals in 18th century England introduced the "barbaric" practice of inoculating against smallpox, the majority, including virtually the entire medical profession, was appalled. Advances are made by individuals or by small groups of cooperating people who are obliged to overcome majority opinion or indifference. The fact that the majority is invariably wrong has interesting implications for the concept of democracy--a system which means, in fact, State control of the individual and his property in accordance with the supposed wishes of the majority. In a word, where majority rules, progress stops. The goal of free men should not be majority rule at all but self-rule, a society in which not political action but individual action prevails. Political freedom for the individual has become merely a charming legend from the early years of the Republic when individual liberty--rather than the will of the majority--was actually considered the core of democracy. Nowadays, acceptance of the legitimacy of individual autonomy is a notion wholly intolerable to the democratic ideology. Under a democracy, when a man looks into a mirror he sees one ten-millionth of a tyrant, and one whole slave. Democracy has nothing to do with freedom. Simply because democracies, like all governments, maintain control by the threat and application of violence and imprisonment. Some of the devastating consequences of the Ambiguous Collective fallacy can be observed in the phrase "we are the government," where the otherwise useful collective term "we" has enabled an ideological camouflage to be thrown over the naked exploitative reality of political life. The government does not in any meaningful sense "represent" the majority of the people. But even if it did, crime is still crime, no matter how many citizens agree to the aggression. There is nothing sacrosanct about the majority; a lynch mob, too, is the majority in its own domain.

* Abortion One of the major debate subjects of the day is the argument about abortion. By and large, the discussions are merely diatribes of emotional invective, containing very little in the way of reasoned analysis (see the remarks below, by George Bush). This subject, perhaps more than any other bone of contention, illustrates the importance of contextuality within principle. You will VERY rarely see a


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 108 debate on abortion that is founded on a principle being applied within a real-world context. Personally, although I dislike the idea of abortion, I am very strongly opposed to the laws which forbid abortions. The consequence (and perhaps the intent) of such laws is to enslave women into the condition of motherhood. Libertarians are equally "pro-life" AND "pro-choice." We value equally life AND liberty, and we should not permit ourselves to be dislodged from this principled foundation by the simpleminded and deceptive slogans of those who do not share our values. When I find it necessary to express my view on abortion in a nutshell (for someone with a brain the size of a peanut), I ask him why, if he advocates mandatory motherhood for all pregnant women, he does not also advocate coerced conception for all non-pregnant women. Here are the best arguments I have found on this subject: The "Human Rights" argument: A fetus is a human being, and is therefore possessed of rights. There are six points of development at which a fetus can be claimed to acquire the status of "human being." Any argument from this premise must choose and justify one of these points: 1. Fertilization 2. Implantation in the uterine wall 3. Brain-wave activity 4. Quickening (when the woman becomes aware of the fetus' movement) 5. Viability (when the fetus can be withdrawn and survive) 6. Birth To put the issue in perspective, consider these extremes: on one hand, the advocacy of euthanasia for unwanted infants, retardates, senile elderly and other "defective" people, and on the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns even contraception as a sin. Any point between these extremes selected as a threshhold of rights possession is vulnerable to this dilemma: how can we be confident that a given act is ethically proper one second before the threshhold, yet murder one second later? Can we actually measure that point with sufficient precision to make such a judgment? Any changes which are a matter of degree rather than of kind are inadequate for a legal theory which requires a definable point of enforcement. The "Personhood" argument: Whether or not the fetus is a human being, it is not a "person" i.e., is not possessed of the complex of psychological characteristics that distinguish any one human being from all others--in short, the fetus, although a human being, does not yet have a soul. Aquinas, rejecting the notion of a "fertilized-egg equals person" equivalence, observed that "the body alone is begotten by sexual procreation, and that after the formation of the body the soul is created and infused." Rand viewed "selfhood" far more broadly than mere possession of a physical life. She saw selfhood in the sense of personhood, and human rights as not rights of a mindless body, arising from physical processes alone, but rights of selfhood, or of personality. The realm of ethics does not apply to entities which do not possess a human level of consciousness--hence, neither do rights. That's why Rand regarded the mother, not the fetus, as possessing rights: only the mother is truly, fully human (i.e., a "self"). The "Potentiality" argument: Let us not confuse a potentiality with an actuality. The most you can say about a fetus is that it is a potential human being. What exists at the moment of conception, and for some time thereafter, is not a human being, and so destroying it is not murder. If we forbid a woman an abortion, we are sacrificing the actual--the adult woman--for the sake of the potential--the fetus. The "Supersession" argument: The rights of the woman supersede any rights possessed by the fetus. Does not a woman have a primary right to her own life? The right to determine the circumstances of her own body? The "Parasite" argument: Even if the fetus is a human being, it is a parasite and therefore does not possess human rights. What human has the right to remain, unbidden, as an unwanted parasite within some other human being's body? The fetus does not have any right to be fed and nourished, because such a right would make the woman its slave, and nobody has the right to force another person to be his slave. Since the only means


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 109 of refusal is to expel the fetus, what the woman is doing in an abortion is causing an unwanted parasite within her body to be ejected from it. This argument could be extended to include euthanasia for seriously ill adults and dependent elderly people, as well as all those whose continued existence requires material support provided by other people. This argument is sometimes countered with the assertion that parasitism is a perfectly natural phenomenon (Mankind is itself a parasite upon the earth) and therefore parasites do indeed have rights-the fetus has as much right inside its mother as does man on mother earth. Both are in their natural habitat. The "Infanticide" argument: A live, born child cannot in principle be distinguished from a viable late-term fetus; they both have an unconditional need for material support. Therefore, if abortion is acceptable, so also must be infanticide. The "Biological Component" argument: An essential characteristic of an individual is that it be a discrete entity, a thing in and of itself. Until the point of birth, however, the fetus is not a separate entity; it is a biological component of the pregnant woman. As long as the fetus is physically within the woman's body, nourished by the food she eats, sustained by the air she breathes, dependent upon her circulatory and respiratory systems, it does not possess individual rights because it is not an individual. It is part of the woman's body and thus subject to her discretion. Only at birth does the fetus become biologically autonomous and a self-owner with full individual rights. Even though it cannot yet survive without assistance, this does not affect its biological independence; it has simply the social dependence that any helpless individual experiences. The "Contractual Obligation" argument: Conception and pregnancy are foreseeable consequences of even careful sex. By willfully causing a fetus to exist, parents implicitly recognize its need for support; it's a package deal. When parents mutually enable their sperm and ova to join, the parents are not enslaved--they have volunteered. And its rebuff, the "Choiceless" argument: How is it that the fetus, which is an entity incapable of making choices, can be said to be a participant in any contract? But the issue of contract is irrelevant. The protection of rights is independent of contract. I do not have to contract with my neighbors not to kill me or steal from me; my body and property are mine by right. Contract enters the picture only when I desire something to which I have no right. Through contract, I acquire a negotiated claim on another person. If individual rights are possessed by the fetus, then a contract is superfluous to the protection of those rights. If the fetus does not possess individual rights, then no contract is possible since a contract is a voluntary agreement between two individuals. The "Positive Obligation" argument: The woman placed the fetus in the condition it is in now. It is her responsibility to get the fetus safely through it. Each of us ought to be allowed to reach an age where we get to make our own choices. However, any "right" to reach such an age imposes a positive obligation on someone else to bear the cost. One acquires such a responsibility in one of only two ways: via contract, or via tort. But both of these concepts imply relationships only among rights-bearing entities. The "Emergency Need" argument: Suppose a person becomes comatose in the home of another and dies as a result of being forcibly removed therefrom. What if the owner could have saved the comatose person's life by waiting nine minutes for an ambulance? Nine months? What if she could have done this only at significant uncompensated cost to herself? Risk to her health? Her life? The Objectivist response: Nothing justifies making YOU a slave to MY medical needs. Other considerations: There is no principled way in which rape can justify an abortion. If it does, what about artificial insemination? Or accident, such as a broken condom? When couples who both carry the mutation for Tay-Sachs disease decide to have children, they typically elect to have prenatal testing. If a fetus has the disease, they usually abort it rather than give birth to a child who would succumb within five years to a slow and horribly painful death. Because it is always so uniformly hideous in its progression, extremely few people believe a child afflicted with TaySachs should be brought into the world. Scientific American, April 1996, contains an essay on frozen embryos.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 110 "Test-tube" embryos, in the two- to eight-cell stage of development, are placed in liquid nitrogen and kept in suspended animation until needed by couples for subsequent attempts at in vitro fertilization. As the number of frozen embryos grows (there are about a million worldwide) it has become obvious that a sizable number of them will never be required. The essay makes three references to cryopreservation being "fraught with ethical and philosophical complications" but makes no specific mention of just what these complications might be. (See this chapter's section on * Profound Ethical Concerns) See reference The view of the Religious Right, as expressed by George Bush (LA TIMES, 12/12/88): "Well, it (may) appear to be a double standard to some, but I, that's my position, and it's, we don't have the time to philosophically discuss it here, but... we're going to opt on the side of life, and that is, that is the, that really is the underlying part of this for me. You know, I mentioned, and with, really from the heart, this concept of going across the river to this little church and watching one of our children, adopted kid, be baptized. And that made for me, and it was very emotional for me. It helped me in reaching a very personal view of this question. And I don't know." Also to be considered are the inevitable medical consequences of anti-abortion laws, since within the legal context created by such laws many abortionists are dangerous and disreputable practitioners resorted to by desperate people. As many as 60 million abortions are performed annually throughout the world, at least 50% of them clandestinely in the 100 or so countries where the procedure is illegal. Unsafe abortions account for between 105 and 168 maternal deaths for every 100K births in the Thirld World countries. This constitutes between 25% and 40% of all maternal mortality. In some countries the complications of unsafe abortions cause the majority of maternal deaths, and in a few countries they are the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age. In general, the maternal death rate is ten times higher in countries where abortion is illegal. Every year, in six of the Latin American countries where the practice is illegal, about 2.8 million women have abortions and half a million are hospitalized for related complications. In the USA, the abortion rate for Catholic women is 29% higher than that for Protestant women. A study in Boston and Long Island showed that 66% of women having their first abortions are young, single Catholics opting for abortions rather than sinning repeatedly by using birth control. 70% of those who have a second abortion are Catholic. Each year in the USA, out of a total of approximately 6.4 million pregnant women, 1.6 million choose to have an abortion. About half of all women in the USA will choose to have an abortion at some time in their life. The Great Abortionist: One out of every three human pregnancies ends in a miscarriage (at or before the blastocyst stage, therefore mostly unknown to the woman) caused by genetic defects. If God really frowns on abortion, why does He perform so many Himself? Even people who claim to be libertarian hold opposite opinions on thissubject. There are some very well-presented arguments at these two websites: Doris Gordon against Wendy McElroy for For Ayn Rand's view see: The Objectivist Newsletter Feb 1969 The Objectivist Forum Jun 1981

* Ethics as Black-and-White Moral principles are requirements of man's survival proved by reference to the most fundamental aspects of his existence and to the deepest premises of philosophy. They are life-or-death absolutes. But while the standard and the principles of ethics (and morality) are black-and-white, as black-and-white as are the laws of nature, the personal judgments, choices and actions through which an individual implements those abstract principles are matters of degree.

* Honesty vs. Dishonesty Truth is sometimes so dangerous as to need a bodyguard of lies.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 111 There are times when a lie is not only ethically justifiable but is actually morally obligatory. "What?! What?!" I hear you croak. "Is this guy out of his mind?" Well, let me explain. Imagine that you set out to go downtown, having in your left pocket $10 and in your right pocket $100. As you are trudging along the street a hoodlum snatches you into an alley, claps his revolver (a Quickfire Arms Corp. Saturday Night Special) up against the side of your pretty little head and wheezes softly into your ear: "Allright, Cutie, your money or your life!" So you, trembling in fear and terror, reach into the left pocket and produce the ten-spot. "Arrgh!! He gasps, wafting into your nostril the stench of cheap Sicilian wine, "Izzis alla dough ya got, kid?" I maintain that at this point your answer not only COULD morally be "yes," but that it actually SHOULD be "yes" and that if you answer "no" you are behaving in an immoral, self-destructive fashion. Under ordinary circumstances a lie is an attempt to coerce someone--that is, an attempt to separate him (without his consent) from some rightfully achieved value. In the context of my little story, the lie is not a coercion. Your money is not the hoodlum's rightfully achieved value, and you have NO ethical obligation toward him. Your only moral obligation is to extricate yourself from the situation in the least selfdestructive manner possible. Thus we see that a lie can be a perfectly proper act to protect a value against an injustice; not a desire to gain a value by faking reality, but a fully contextual recognition of the relevant facts of reality. That's why a lie is always legitimate in dealing with tyrants, because HE is dealing in coercion, not reason. For the same reasons, there are times when it is justified to kill. There are also times when killing is not merely justified, but is obligatory: When the people you are killing are about to cause the death of you or your children. But beware! Dishonesty--for any reason, and with whatever justification--can have detrimental effects on your mental health. Your true feelings tell others what your weaknesses are, and there are always those who will use this knowledge against you--and so over the years you might hide them more and more, until eventually you have few, if any, true feelings left. Many people lie so much that they scarcely know what the truth is. They are comforted by familiar surroundings--in an illusory world where they feel more at ease within the substance of a lie than with the truth. And so it can come to pass that when they see truth they can't recognize it.

* Crime - The Criminal Mentality "If two men had walked down Fifth Avenue in March 1933, and one of them had a flask of whiskey in his pocket and the other had a hundred dollars in gold coins, the one with the whiskey would have been considered a criminal and the one with the gold a law-abiding citizen. If these two men, like Rip van Winkle, slept for a year and then walked back up Fifth Avenue, the man with the whiskey would have been considered a law-abiding citizen and the one with the gold coins a criminal." Here is the explanation: In June, 1933, a law was passed outlawing the possession of gold, then in December, 1933, the Prohibition law was repealed. Thus, between early 1933 and early 1934, the legal status of each man was reversed. This little story illustrates the fact that "crime," if defined by reference to government laws, is a nonsensical concept. The concept has meaning only if it is defined by reference to a fundamental ethical principle. And it is useful in understanding "psychological" analyses of crime. Any definition of "crime" that is founded within the legal positivist context cannot ascribe a psychological basis for crime, because nothing about the psychology of either of the two men changed during the course of their nap. If the definition of crime includes victimless activities, then the analysis must account for the Rip van Winkle phenomenon. If the definition does NOT include victimless activities, then the analysis must consider as criminals those people who enforce victimless crime laws, and it will have to recognize the criminal nature of much of government behavior: tax collectors as thieves--business licenses as extortion. Either the distinction between crime and non-crime is one of arbitrary edict (in which case it does not exist in principle) or sociologists are looking at the wrong people, because they do not examine the government's acts of coercion and they ignore the fact that half the prison population are merely lawbreakers, not criminals.


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* Hate Crimes A function of a system of justice should be to protect potential victims. Here the idea of "group hate" is relevant. Someone who hates and kills a cheating lover or an abusive spouse does not necessarily have a motive for killing anyone else. In contrast, someone who kills a homosexual because he hates all homosexuals has a proven motive to kill and kill again. The proper function of the concept of "hate crimes" is to guide the courts in reconciling justice for the criminal with safety for potential victims.

* Conspiracy I regard all conspiracy theories with a great deal of skepticism. Keep in mind that the president of the USA (Richard Nixon), with all the power available to him, could not cover up a simple second-story burglary. Is it really likely that any of the so-called "conspirators" are intelligent enough and/or competent enough to perpetuate the globe-girdling conspiracies and cover-ups that are attributed to them? I think not. If a field of study is dominated by the premise of collectivism--the premise that the group (rather than the individual) is the basic unit of analysis--then researchers in that field will tend to perceive conspiracy where in fact there exist only individuals behaving in similar manners. There is no conspiracy--it is merely the case that the fundamental beliefs of the actors are similar, therefore their attitudes and behavior are similar. (Thus you won't find a priest in an abortion clinic, or an atheist in a convent.) The fact that many individuals with similar interests tend to advocate roughly the same solutions to the same problems should be neither surprising nor puzzling. Each is merely advocating what he sees to be obvious remedies to the problems he perceives. There is no deliberate collusion involved in this behavior. It seems like a conspiracy simply because many people acting in accord with the same principle will all behave in a similar manner. But it's no more a conspiracy than is a traffic jam: it's merely several people each acting independently while striving to achieve the same goal. It is a mistake to assume from this similarity of behavior that there exists a collusion. The cooperation results not from a conspiracy of men, but from a similarity of basic premises--and the power directing it is logic: if, when faced with a practical problem, some men point to a course of action logically necessitated by certain basic premises, those who share the premises will rush to follow that course of action. Practical problems merely confront man with the need for action; they do not determine what the action will be. It is the predominant philosophy (of a man or of a country) that determines the action. For example: Hunger will impel a man to take some kind of action--but it will not dictate precisely what that action should be. The man's knowledge and ideas will be the governing factors in what he chooses to eat. Another example: Loneliness doesn't tell you who you need, only that someone is missing from your life. It is up to you to define the emptiness of your soul, and make an appropriate choice of companions. America in the last quarter of the eighteenth century was confronted with the need for social change. The most influential set of ideas in the minds of the men who implemented change was the philosophy of John Locke. America was ideologically ripe for Jefferson. The intellectual groundwork had been prepared by half a century of education in Lockean philosophy. On the other hand, although the post-WorldWar1 situation in Germany necessitated some kind of major changes in the country's institutions, it was the philosophy of Immanuel Kant that had prevailed. Thus Germany was ideologically ripe for Hitler. The intellectual groundwork had been prepared by a century of education in Kantian philosophy. If one knows the principles behind a given phenomenon, one can predict the direction it will take and its ultimate results. If you know a man's convictions, you can predict his actions. If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society, you can predict its course. Faulty basic premises, if left unchecked, can force the logically rigorous--especially the logically rigorous--down destructive paths of thought and behavior. For the great majority of men the influence of philosophy is indirect and unrecognized. But that influence is real. It is important to remember that social institutions do not have goals. Only individual human beings have goals; political and cultural institutions merely provide a framework enabling the participating individuals to pursue their commonly-held goals. Institutions provide the incentives, opportunities and constraints that guide the behavior of goal-seeking individuals, but the institutions do not possess goals


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 113 of their own.

* What is a Slave? I see two fundamental distinguishing characteristics of a slave: 1. He is compelled to do whatever his master commands him to do. 2. He is forbidden to do anything without having permission, explicit or implicit, from his master. I will leave it as an exercise for you to determine to what extent these two characteristics describe your own situation. Keep this in mind: Just as the truly damned are those who are happy in hell, so the truly enslaved are those who believe their enslavement is freedom.

* Profound Ethical Concerns (See SIMPLISTIC-COMPLEXITY in the FALLACYS file) See reference You will frequently hear people claim that certain issues are fraught with "profound ethical concerns." Issues such as research using fetal tissue, DNA manipulation, organ transplants, etc. Watch carefully and you will see that either they don't specify those concerns, or the concerns they do name are simply irrelevant. Here is an example of a rare instance wherein a proponent of such "profound ethical concerns" actually made a sensible statement of the concerns he imagined: Gene therapy raises profound ethical concerns. For instance: 1. Should therapy be applied simply to improve one's offspring, not only to prevent an inherited disease? [He implies that the elimination of an evil, "an inherited disease," is perhaps acceptable, but the implementation of a positive good, "to improve one's offspring," is of questionable propriety. Why does he object to a good?] 2. Who would be empowered to decide? [Here he clearly implies that someone is to have the authority ensuing from "empowerment." Why must such an authority exist? Who, after all, is "empowered" to decide which people shall be permitted to wear shoes?] 3. Is society willing to risk introducing changes into the gene pool that may ultimately prove detrimental to the species? [In fact, Yes. Not only does the willingness exist, but the perpetuation of such detrimental genes is actually legally compelled by implementation of medical techniques that preserve the existence of severely retarded people.] 4. Do we have the right to tamper with human evolution? [Everyone who ever selects his/her spouse on the basis of "He would make a good father" or "She would make a good mother" is "tampering" with human evolution. Why does he object to this selectivity?] Here is another example: As artificial livers emerge into common medical use, they raise difficult ethical issues. 1. Is it ethical to deny a liver to someone who has cirrhosis in order to transplant it into a hepatitis victim who would have died but for an artificial liver device? After all, the hepatitis victim may recover spontaneously, whereas the cirrhotic patient almost certainly will not. 2. Is it ethical to refuse to put a dying patient on an artificial liver when there is a good chance that she will revive only enough to require a new liver? [What this ethicist ignores is the fact that the liver in each case is a piece of property and the resolution of these "difficult ethical issues" can be accomplished by the simple application of property rights.] These are by far the most comprehensive statements of the "profound ethical concerns" syndrome I have ever seen. Usually no precise ethical applications are specified at all. I surmise that the people who make these assertions have strongly-felt objections to the action under consideration, but they have no rational arguments to support their feelings, so the only attack they can make is an unsubstantiated one. Often, their hand-wringing over such matters as genetic engineering and other new technologies is the result of ignorance about the basic scientific principles underlying the new techniques. The problem might be that, while simple things like bone-setting are understood by the ethicists, the science


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 114 underlying genetic engineering is not. Thus, in typical fear of the unknown, a Luddite hue and cry against the new technology is raised. Un-anchored as their precepts are to anything real or rational, those precepts can and do undergo vast changes depending on political conditions, self-interest, etc. Viz. these comments from a symposium on medical ethics: "A discussion of ethical principles in biomedical research that ignores the socioeconomic heterogeneity of society is not ethical and not worth holding." "The ethics of health management differ within and between industrialized and developing countries because of their different economic capabilities." "There were charges of ethical imperialism that ignored the realities of economic conditions in the developing world." "When applied to specific circumstances, these ethical guidelines may conflict with one another."

* Charity - Egalitarianism - Welfarism Ayn Rand: "Millions are given each year to charities which help crippled children, old people, blind people and all kinds of disabled unfortunates; which is a perfectly worthy cause. But, on the other hand, has anyone given much thought to the crying, desperate need of helping the exact opposite type of human beings--the able, the fit, the talented and unusual ones crushed by purely material circumstances? That idea of hardships being good for character and of a talent always being able to break through is an old fallacy. A talented person has to eat as much as a misfit. A talented person needs sympathy, understanding and intelligent guidance MORE than a misfit. And the question arises: who is more worthy of help--the subnormal or the above-normal? Who is more valuable to humanity? Which of the two types is more valuable to himself? Which of the two suffers more acutely: the misfit, who doesn't know what he is missing, or the talented one who knows it only too well? I have no quarrel with those who help the disabled. But if only one tenth of the money given to help them were given to help potential talent--much greater things would be accomplished in the spirit of a much higher type of charity. Talent DOES NOT survive all obstacles. In fact, in the face of hardships, talent is the first one to perish; the rarest plants are usually the most fragile. Are talented people born with tough skins? Hardly. In fact, the more talent one possesses the more sensitive one is, as a rule. And if there is a more tragic figure than a sensitive, worthwhile person facing life without money--I don't know where it can be found." Here is a response to an unwanted plea for charity: Tax bills continue to take more of my time, hard work and earnings each year. Because of this, I have less to contribute to the cause of charity. In light of this increasing burden of taxation, I have decided to make contributions only to those organizations which do not receive any funds from government agencies. Since organizations which do receive such funding already benefit from my involuntary contributions, I believe that I have provided sufficient support to them. If your organization is one which I identify as being free of tax dollar dependency, you can look forward to a contribution from me in the near future. Otherwise, good wishes and enjoy my tax money. In considering which organizations to support, it would be a good idea if you contribute not on the basis of NEED, but on the basis of POTENTIAL. Ask which organizations have the greatest potential for achieving goals that you deem to be of value. In the case of an individual, "If you choose to help a man who suffers, do it only on the ground of his virtues, of his fight to recover, or of the fact that he suffers unjustly; then your action is a trade, and his virtue is the payment for your help."... Ayn Rand There is nothing wrong with an individual doing charity work. But charity is not a moral ideal, nor does human life depend on it. Achievement is the moral ideal because man's life DOES depend on it. Demands for "social justice" take two different forms, which can be called egalitarianism and welfarism. The difference in these two conceptions of social justice is the difference between relative and absolute levels of well-being. Neither of these conceptions recognizes the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of reward. Egalitarians are concerned with RELATIVE well-being. According to egalitarianism, the wealth produced by a society must be distributed equally--it is unjust for some people to earn fifteen, or fifty, or a hundred times as much income as others, and since laissez-faire permits and encourages these disparities in income and wealth, it is therefore unjust. The hallmark of egalitarians is the way they use statistics to describe the distribution of income. For example, in 1989, the top 20 percent of U.S.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 115 households on the income scale earned 45 percent of total income, whereas the bottom 20 percent earned only 4 percent of total income. The goal of egalitarianism is to reduce this disparity; greater equality is always regarded as a gain in social justice. Egalitarians have often said that of two societies they prefer the one in which wealth is more evenly distributed, even if that society's overall standard of living is lower. Thus egalitarians tend to favor government measures, such as progressive taxation, which aim to redistribute wealth across the entire income scale, not merely at the bottom. They also tend to support the nationalization of goods such as education and medicine, taking them off the market entirely and making them available to everyone more or less equally. The welfarist, on the other hand, has a much more absolutist view of social justice. He demands that people have access to a certain absolute minimum standard of living. As long as this floor or "safety net" exists, it does not matter to the welfarist how much wealth anyone else has, or how great the disparities are between rich and poor. Welfarists are primarily interested in programs that benefit people who are below a certain level of poverty, or who are sick, out of work, or deprived in some other way. To the welfarist, rights are conceived as rights to possess and enjoy certain goods, regardless of one's actions; they are rights to have the goods provided by others if one cannot provide them oneself. Accordingly, welfare rights impose positive obligations on other people. If I have a right to food, someone has an obligation to grow it. If I cannot pay for it, someone has an obligation to buy it for me... etc. From an ethical standpoint, the essence of welfarism is the premise that the need of one individual is a claim on other individuals. The claim is an unchosen obligation arising from the mere fact of his need. The ethics of welfarism does not assert an absolute right to pursue the satisfaction of human needs. The "right" asserted is, rather, a conditional one: those who DO succeed in creating wealth may do so only on condition that others are allowed to share that wealth. The goal is not so much to benefit the needy as to bind the able. The implicit assumption is that a creative person's ability and initiative are social assets, which may be exercised only on condition that they are aimed at the service of others. The egalitarian arrives at the same principle as the welfarist, but by a different logical route. The ethical framework of the egalitarian is defined by reference to justice rather than rights--by the idea that people are to be treated differently only if they differ in some MORALLY (not economically) relevant way. The most common position is a presumption in favor of equal outcomes, and that any departure from equality must be justified by its benefits to other people (as opposed to its benefits to the individual who created the departure). But we can see that this is the same principle that lies at the basis of welfare rights: the principle that the productive individual may enjoy the fruits of his efforts only on condition that those efforts benefit other people as well. Both of these social schemes rest on the premise that individual ability is a social asset--that the individual must regard himself as a means to the ends of others. And here we come to the crux of the matter. By respecting the rights of other people, I recognize that they are "ends in themselves," and that I may not treat them merely as means to my own satisfaction, in the way that I treat inanimate objects. Why then is it not equally moral for me to regard myself as an "end in myself"? Why should I not refuse, out of respect for my own dignity as a moral being, to regard myself as a means to the ends of others? An honorable person does not offer his needs as a claim on others; he offers an exchange of value as the basis of any relationship. Nor does he accept an unchosen obligation to serve the needs of others. No one who values his own life can accept an unchosen, open-ended responsibility to be his brother's keeper. The principle of trade is the only basis on which humans can deal with each other as independent equals rather than as objects of property. The only social constraint a free market imposes is the requirement that those who wish the services of others must offer value in return; that no one may use the State to forcibly expropriate what others have produced, nor claim a right to compel others to serve him involuntarily. "What about someone who is poor, disabled, or otherwise unable to support himself?" This is a valid question to ask, as long as it is not the PRIMARY question asked about a social system. There is no ground in a rational ethics for considering the poor and the sick to be the foundation of society, or for regarding their needs as primary. It is in fact self-defeating to think that the primary goal of a society should be the treatment it gives its least productive members. We must remember that the needs of the poor and the sick CANNOT be met unless someone chooses to produce the means of meeting those needs. Thus the social prerequisites of creativity and productivity MUST be accomodated FIRST if charity is to exist at all. When Menon, a Hindu, arrived in Delhi in 1947, he discovered that every rupee he was carrying had been stolen. He approached an elderly, distinguished-looking Sikh, explained his plight and asked for a


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 116 loan of 15 rupees to cover his train fare. The Sikh gave him the money. When Menon asked for his address so that he could pay it back, the Sikh said, "No. Until the day you die, you will always give that sum to any honest man who asks your help." Almost 30 years later, just six weeks before his death, a beggar came to the Menon family home in Bangalore. Menon sent his daughter for his wallet, took out fifteen rupees, and gave it to the man. He was still repaying his debt.

* Coerced Compassion Consider the vast majority of those who turn to State power to remedy distress. Every one of them will say they act purely because of their concern and compassion for those on the lower rung of life's ladder. Can they not trust their own compassion to express itself? Apparently not, for it seems, when they turn to government, they are insisting that they must be forced to do that which they claim they already want to do. An absurdity! People who want to control other people's lives never want to pay for the privilege. What they usually expect is to be paid for the "service" they impose upon their victims. What they never recognize is that the individuals who are forced by government regulation to submit to their "compassion" are the very "public" which is supposed to benefit from the government controls. In any case, if you are going to do good for someone, it really should be THEIR idea of good, not yours. In all cases, it should be the other person who initiates the interaction--by asserting THEIR perception of their own good. The other side of this coin is the issue of mandated discrimination. Why was it necessary to have laws to FORCE racists to practice racism? After all, the employers, landowners, businessmen, etc., were overwhelmingly from the dominant group and were free to segregate and discriminate on their own. The answer is that the voluntary structure of economic incentives in a free market works against this behavior. As long as SOME producers and consumers were free to act spontaneously in the context of a free market, there were economic costs for discriminating against minorities, and likewise, economic benefits for avoiding discriminatory practices. Only a coercive legal system could overcome these costs and benefits.

* Effect of Social Complexity on Statism One reason socialism must always fail is that any society large enough to be economically and technologically civilized is too large and complex to be contained within the minds of any subgroup. The competence of government began to decline precipitously after the First World War as society's technological complexity began to increase exponentially. It will be the final irony of the statist system that, once headless after a catastrophic collapse, it will be unable to save itself. The centralized control of all aspects of the country will prevent people from asking the questions that must be answered before any organized recovery can begin.

* The Philosophical Chameleon THE EVENING NEWS by Arthur Hailey (Dell book #20851) contains a very good description of the "Stockholm Syndrome." Hailey mentions Patty Hearst as an example of that syndrome, and I found it interesting to observe that he mentions only the FIRST of her two conversions. I have never seen anyone at all refer to her SECOND conversion. That seems to be completely invisible to all other students of this phenomenon. The name I apply to this syndrome is neither "Stockholm" nor "Hearst," however. I refer to it as the "Philosophical Chameleon" syndrome. Most people have no firmly-fixed principles of their own but merely "adopt" the philosophy of whatever "significant other(s)" are most influential in their immediate social environment. I do not fully understand why people behave this way, but I have no doubt that what Nathaniel Branden described as "social metaphysics" has a great deal to do with it, and that it rests ultimately on what Branden identified as the failure to choose to think. Its occurrence, in a rather milder form than that manifested either in Stockholm or by Ms. Hearst, is actually quite widespread. The milder form of chameleonism (milder, because it does not involve one's fundamental philosophical principles but merely his superficial behavior) can be observed quite frequently, such as when people do something for no other reason than that somebody suggested it without their having noticed the suggestion. For example: in handing out leaflets to students, you will


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 117 observe that if one of them passes by you and refuses the printed sheet, and makes a little gesture of negation, then the next person walking along, if he or she has noticed, will quite likely do the same thing. Whole strings of people will, one after the other, make virtually identical gestures and pass by without accepting the lealet unless you take some action to break the chain, such as turning away briefly, or rearranging your papers for a moment. Or unless a more strong-minded person comes along and breaks the chain of behavior with her own actions. Notice a line of customers at the counter of a fast-food restaurant. If the first one up just asks for "a Whataburger," most people behind her will likewise order a generic item from the posted menu. But let one individual qualify her order, and say something like: "Oh, yeah, could you hold the mustard and give me extra pickles on that Whataburger," and every single customer behind her will make requests for custom changes in the menu item as well--all without consciously realizing why. Apparently a large amount of human behavior is carried out with only partial involvement of the higher centers of judgment. While this has no sinister consequences most of the time, when people "choose" their religion, political parties and candidates, beliefs about race, or stands on freedom, they are unfortunately very likely to be behaving like a chameleon. Thus you will see a man assent to conservative ideas while he is conversing with a Republican, and then just a few days later avow quite the opposite liberal precepts while in a discussion with a Democrat. But no deliberate deception is involved--the man is merely taking on the political "color" of his immediate social environment. A study conducted in 1997 showed that U.S. students substantially changed their opinions of pieces of music in an attempt to imitate more socially admired people. The students revised their ratings of popular compact disc recordings after being told that they scored lower than most of their peers on an inventory of positive personal attributes. After male interlopers stole control of a monkey troop, they seized and killed the infants. Curiously, the infantless mothers soon became sexually receptive again. Moreover, the mothers willingly mated with the conquerors, grabbing the chance to bear new young. Thus, by eliminating the young, the dominant males acquired the opportunity to spread their genes. This phenomenon is seen even in Shakespeare. In Richard III, soon after Richard slaughters the husband of Lady Anne, he begins to woo her. To his amazement, she succumbs. Richard muses, "Was ever woman in this humor woo'd? Was ever woman in this humor won?" Yes. Females in 35 species breed with their conquerors - even after their infants have been massacred. The "head game" of one-upmanship is sometimes a form of the Chameleon syndrome. The player says, in effect, "Not only am I doing the same thing you are, I am doing it better than you!" A chameleon is much more likely to be a fanatic than a strong-minded person, simply because he has no other standard of judgment than that of his host. The strong-minded person has his own judgment to rely on if he is dissatisfied with that of his significant other. You may discover to your dismay that your own friends are sometimes different people than you think they are. Some of them are halfway made-up, trying to be what they think you'd like them to be. The police have made use of this psychological syndrome for generations, in what they call the "good cop/bad cop" interrogation process. But what makes a true chameleon difficult to recognize is that usually they are quite serious; they are not, like the police, knowingly fraudulent. You see, they really have no clearly and firmly defined "self." They literally do take their identities from other people. You can see the process deliberately used as a discussion technique: "Well, of course I, like you, am an advocate of individual freedom, but...." I refer to this particular phenomenon as the "ego quoque" lie. The movie "Bridge On The River Kwai" is an excellent portrayal of the Chameleon Syndrome. (See * Social Metaphysics in the DICT file.) See reference

* Dual Ideologies The claim that countries which call themselves capitalist are guilty of misdescription reflects the fact that politicians use dual ideologies--those that actually guide their actions and those that are used as instruments of deception in waging social conflict. The theory of a political system is almost always its surface ideology, and it may be a deeply, if not necessarily intentionally, deceptive facade. People almost automatically assume that the goal of a political system is to advance the welfare of at least a majority of the population. But this is because some such goal is almost universally propounded in surface ideologies, and, being credulous, they allow themselves to be taken in by the surface ideology


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 118 and never perceive the real motives that actually guide the behavior of the State. Much of the government's "crime-prevention" behavior can be explained by the idea that the State has forbidden to the individual the practice of wrongdoing, not because it desires to abolish wrongdoing, but because the State desires to monopolize it.

* Hallmarks of a Conservative A hallmark of a conservative is the phrase "too much." If you press him until you can get him to identify the core of his social philosophy, you will find that it is founded on a statement containing some variation of the phrase "too much": He is not fundamentally opposed to slavery, just what he perceives to be "too much" slavery. He is not fundamentally opposed to government interference in private lives, just "an excessive amount" of interference. He is not fundamentally opposed to tyranny, just a level of tyranny that is "far beyond" what he judges acceptable. I call this the "too much" syndrome, or the "uncalibrated quantification" fallacy. An excellent example is the following quote from FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton and Rose Friedman (page 61): "Some restrictions on our freedom are necessary to avoid other, still worse, restrictions. However, we have gone far beyond that point." But consider that the distinction between an acceptable level of restriction and an unacceptable level is an arbitrary one, because such a distinction is based on a mere variation in quantity rather than a difference in quality. The "point" the Friedmans refer to is an undefinable position. To such people there is no wall between freedom and tyranny, just a fuzzy line in their imagination. Such a mind-set inevitably leads to the acceptance of tyranny, because to the man who holds it, first one thing doesn't seem too wrong, then another thing doesn't seem too wrong. And eventually nothing doesn't seem too wrong. He has nowhere to draw a line. Ben Franklin wrote in 1766 that "if Parliament has the right to take from us one penny in the pound, where is the line drawn that bounds that right, and what shall hinder their calling whenever they please for the other 19 shillings and eleven pence?" The very best way to distinguish between a conservative and a libertarian is to observe the presence or absence of the uncalibrated quantification fallacy in his ideas. The libertarian is opposed to ALL tyranny, not just "too much" tyranny. The conservative thinks he can make some compromise between freedom and tyranny, but his belief that there is a happy middle somewhere in between is wrong. That is not how compromise works. (See Chapter 3) See reference A second characteristic by which a conservative can be recognized is his reliance on religion. Almost all conservatives have religious belief as a major foundation stone of all aspects of their philosophy. A noticeable exception are the Randites, who are both conservative and atheist. But they are atheists who have a god named Government. A third characteristic by which a conservative can be recognized is that politically, he is an "anti-". If you ask him what his political philosophy is, he will usually reply that he is an anti-communist. This is what makes conservatives attractive to philosophically superficial libertarians. Such libertarians (who are themselves opposed to communism) see no deeper than the "anti-communist" label presented by the conservative and conclude that the conservative is their philosophical ally. The libertarians have the idea that to be allies it is not necessary to have a noble goal in commmon, but only to have a common enemy; that if your ally defines himself only as an "anti-" you can use him without fear that he will corrupt your purpose. Sometimes this can be true: an ally of convenience, who merely shares with you a common enemy rather than a common goal, can be useful--if you're careful. You have a big advantage: he knows only what he DOESN'T want--you know what you DO want. But the flaw in applying this idea lies in the philosophical superficiality of the libertarians. They do not probe beneath the surface label of the conservative to observe that fundamentally what he is FOR is the imposition of some form of coercive social institution. This mistake on the part of the libertarians is what has resulted in their being co-opted by the conservatives. If ethics consisted of social customs and traditions to which individuals must conform, rather than principles which they grasp and accept by means of reason, then it would be vital for a society to maintain a high degree of uniformity in customs and traditions. This explains why the conservatives are such strong advocates of immigration limits. An influx of people with different customs and traditions


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 119 poses a severe threat to the conservative notion of ethics. The conservative believes that achievement of values is OK, as long as you don't ENJOY that achievement--too much. (If you enjoy your achievement too much you commit the Christian sin of Pride.) This points out a seeming similarity between Objectivism and conservatism: they both approve the achievement of values. But to equate the two philosophies on the basis of this observation would be grossly superficial. It would be to equate opposites by substituting nonessentials for their essential characteristics. Conservatives always make this equating when they claim to be Objectivists or libertarians. In fact, the Objectivist and conservative theses on the fundamental nature and purpose of human values differ greatly.

* Libertarian Foreign Policy Robert Ringer: "I am in favor of complete freedom of trade between companies and people throughout the world, but not under the umbrella of political partnerships between governments." Thus a proper libertarian policy toward trade relations (a foreign policy, as expressed by a free society) should be: We will trade with individual people or with private companies, but we will not engage in any exchange which is subject to the control of a government.

* The Ethical Carnivore The man who eats meat but who won't kill an animal is often described as an immoral person with unintegrated values who condones a wickedness by enjoying the result of it. He is accused of being equally guilty of the wickedness. This label of "immoral" smacks of original sin. In fact, it is simply impossible to live in America today without taking advantage of knowledge that was gained by experiments (many of them quite horrifying) performed on animals. Much of chemistry, and almost all of medicine, rest on such research. For example, here is a note from a researcher on nervous systems: "Some mammals (such as the common laboratory rat) can have their entire forebrain excised and are still able to walk, run and even maintain their balance to some extent. Although they move with a robotic stride, without making any attempt to avoid obstacles placed in their path, these animals are fully able to operate their leg muscles and to coordinate their steps." Personally, I would find it completely impossible to conduct such experiments. Yet I study and learn from the results of them, with the explicit knowledge of how those results were obtained. Although this knowledge makes me feel depressed, it does not make me feel guilty. I have eaten the Apple, and I must live with it. Am I a hypocrite? What insuperable line prevents humans from extending ethical regard to animals? The relevant question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Infants and the mentally ill do not possess the attributes of "normal" or "typical" humans, but they are not left out of the realm of rights. Why then omit animals? If there is something one would not do to a severely incapacitated child, then neither should one do it to an animal that would suffer as much. A scientist who did cancer studies on mice recounts that whenever he had doubts about his work, he had only to think about the terminally ill patients in the children's cancer ward. This assuaged his conscience. Veterinarians are particularly sensitive to the ethical problems of dealing with animals--love of animals, after all, was what brought most of them into the field. Vets point out that their job is not to prolong life but to reduce the suffering of as many animals as possible. Human medicine, they aver, is in many ways more heartless: "We're allowed to give suffering animals euthanasia, but physicians are required by law to keep their patients alive no matter what the cost." "Sooner or later man will be going outside the solar system. Sooner or later we will meet types of intelligent life much higher than our own, yet in forms completely alien. And when that time comes, the treatment man receives from his superiors may well depend upon the way he has behaved toward the other creatures of his own world." ... Arthur C. Clarke Sagesse oblige.

* Voluntary vs. Coercive - Trade vs. Theft As a starting point, here are some dictionary definitions:


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 120 Voluntary: Acting on one's own initiative. Controlled by or subject to individual volition. Proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent. Resulting from one's own free choice; given or done of one's own free will; freely chosen or undertaken. Self-determining. Acting willingly and without constraint or legal obligation or other external compulsion. Synonyms: deliberate, intentional, spontaneous, willful, willing. Deliberate implies full consciousness of the nature of one's act and its consequences. Intentional stresses an awareness of an end to be achieved. Spontaneous refers to behavior that seems wholly unpremeditated, a natural response and a true reflection of one's feelings. Willful often implies headstrong persistence in a self-determined course of action. Willing suggests acceding to a course proposed by another, without reluctance or even eagerly. Coercion: A relationship in which a person is subjected to physical force (or the threat of it) in order to compel him to submit to the choices of another person. The separation of a person from his rightfully achieved values without his voluntary consent. Any course of action calculated to inflict physical injury, regardless of whether or not the action succeeds in its intent. Fraud: Obtaining material values without their owner's consent under false pretenses or false promises. Receiving values then refusing to pay for them and thus keeping them by force (by physical possession) not by right, and without the consent of their owner. What bothers me about such concepts as "willingness" or "voluntary" is that they can be identified only by examining the contents of a person's mind. But this is not possible; hence my attempts to define them in terms which are objectively verifiable, such as the observable result of a choice and the observable conditions of the context within which that choice occurs. How can the existence of willingness be determined? A man with a gun to his head (or whose values are indirectly threatened) will most likely ASSERT willingness, but does his assertion really signify the existence of willingness? To determine whether or not something is voluntary, we should examine two things: the person's behavior (both word and deed) and the context within which that behavior occurs--including the temporal context: the person may be operating under a threat laid on him in the past, and which is not to be manifest until sometime in the future. The concept "voluntary" cannot apply to any context in which coercion occurs as part of the relevant environment. If a person's behavior is mandated, regardless of her personal choice, then her behavior cannot properly be labeled voluntary. No contract--whether direct, indirect, or implied--is valid if it is coercively imposed, or if it is acquiesced to by default within a context of coercion. Meaningful consent does not exist under these conditions. The fundamental distinguishing characteristic which separates the two categories is the relevance of choice to the preservation of values. For example: If I put a gun to your head and demand your money, the situation is such that your choice has no relevance: you lose a value no matter how you choose. Either your money or your life. If your choice is to give me the money, then you lose the money. On the other hand, if your choice is NOT to give me the money, then you still lose the money--and your life, too. No matter how you choose, you lose. That's what makes the situation coercive. If a person's choice is NOT relevant to the loss vs. non-loss of a value then the transfer is a theft. If the person's choice IS relevant, then the transfer is a trade. There is a situation in which choice seems to be relevant, but nonetheless the transfer cannot be termed a trade: when the transfer occurs within a context of deception. This is fraud. In considering the nature of deception, we must keep in mind that rights impose no obligations on other men except of a prohibitive nature. Rights are not a claim to affirmative action. Each man is obliged only to AVOID the violation of the rights of other men. Therefore, in my dealings with others: I have no obligation to convince them of anything. I have no obligation to educate them about anything. My only obligation is to refrain from telling them anything I know to be untrue.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 121 Nozick proposes three conditions for a just transaction: 1. It must be freely entered into by both parties. 2. There must be no deception on either side. 3. The goods traded must have been justly acquired--that is, acquired in circumstances that accord with the first two conditions. His third condition raises a critically important idea: the problem of coercion cannot be solved "out of context," that is, outside the general context of the social institutions that shape our culture. Before such problems can be fully solved, society must be restructured away from institutions of government and toward ethically rational institutions. Keynes described aggregate demand management as "the one kind of compulsion of which the effect is to enlarge liberty." Edmund Burke wrote, "Liberty too must be limited in order to be possessed." Rousseau, in The Social Contract: "Men must be forced to be free." Page 3 of the 1993 IRS form 1040A starts out with this statement: "Thank you for making this nation's tax system the most effective system of voluntary compliance in the world." The words "liberty," "freedom," "voluntary," etc. have been appropriated by would-be tyrants who use those words to designate the opposite of their cognitively correct meanings, thus leaving the majority of people with no way to distinguish libertarians from our totalitarian enemies. The only way I can see to combat this dismal situation is to attack it not on its surface, by making futile attempts to persuade people of the correct definitions of those critical words, but at its roots, by presenting the idea that DEFINITIONS ARE NOT ARBITRARY. Unless your audience realizes this, any argument you engage in will be merely a verbal battle of wits with your adversary--the outcome dependent on who can make the most clever use of eloquent phrases which are nevertheless meaningless in the minds of the audience. In some cases, it is claimed that my behavior must be voluntary because I do not exercise the alternative of departing from the social context in which the behavior occurs. (America: love it or leave it!) But by what right does my oppressor demand the abandonment of MY homeland as the price I must pay to get HIS coercive government off my back? I take my motive from Thoreau, who stated: "Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined.... If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find a complete list." Gulliver's Travels: "They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death; for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a very common understanding, may preserve a man's goods from thieves, but honesty has no defense against superior cunning; and since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buying and selling, and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted and connived at, or hath not law to punish it, the honest dealer is always undone, and the knave gets the advantage." Solon believed that "being seduced into wrong was as bad as being forced, and that between deceit and necessity, flattery and compulsion, there was little difference, since both may equally suspend the exercise of reason."

* Self-Defense Libertarianism is not a pacifist philosophy. There are two very different kinds of force: one is coercive or aggressive force--that which is initiated against other people, and the second is retaliatory or defensive force--that which is used to protect human rights. Libertarians oppose only the first of these. The Objectivist stand is quite clear: "The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may INITIATE the use of physical force against others. No man--or group or society or government--has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man." (From "The Objectivist Ethics," in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS.) Thus we are not opposed to force when it is used in self-defense. In fact, we recognize the inevitable necessity of such force: it is necessary to use defensive force to preserve civilized life against those who embrace the use of coercive force. Compare the appalling behavior of government with the plausible alternative of self-defense:


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 122 Private handguns are successfully used for self-defense 645K times each year. Ninety-nine percent of the times when a private citizen uses a gun to prevent a rape, robbery or burglary, no one is shot. Women use guns over 400 times per day to defend themselves against rapists. The Federal Justice Department found that of 32K attempted rapes, 32% were actually committed. But when the woman was armed with a gun or knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes were actually committed. In 1966 a highly publicized safety course taught women in Orlando Florida how to use guns. Orlando's rape rate declined 88% during 1967. In 1982 the city of Kennesaw Georgia passed a law allowing heads of households to keep a weapon in the house. Ten years later, the residential burglary rate was 72% lower than it had been in 1981. Since the passage of Florida's concealed-carry law in 1987, over 258K people have received permits to carry guns. Of those 258K, only 18 have used their guns to commit a crime. The homicide rate in Florida has fallen 22% during that time. A similar Georgia law, passed in 1976, was followed by a 21% drop in its homicide rate. A gun kept at home is 216 times more likely to be used for defense against a criminal than to cause the death of an innocent member of the household. Each year, more criminals are lawfully shot by private citizens than are shot by police. But fewer than 2% of gun owners ever kill someone unlawfully. Eleven percent of people who are shot by police are innocent of a crime. Two percent of people who are shot by private citizens are innocent of a crime. In 1985 the National Institute for Justice reported that 57% of the felons polled claimed that they were more worried about meeting an armed citizen than they were about encountering the police. Society is safer when criminals don't know who's armed, but government will always be opposed to self-defense because any force not under the government's control poses a potential threat to the government, and thus self-defense must be outlawed. Consider what must be the real intent of guncontrol laws, in view of the facts that 90% of violent crimes are committed without a handgun, and of those committed with a handgun, 93% of the guns used were obtained through unlawful means. A society where peaceful citizens are armed is far more likely to be one where Good Samaritans will flourish. But take away people's guns, and the public--disastrously for the victims--will tend to leave the matter to the police. In a recent survey, 81% of the Samaritans polled were owners of guns. If we wish to encourage a society where citizens come to the aid of neighbors in distress, we must not strip them of the actual power to do something effective. Surely it is the height of absurdity to disarm the peaceful public and then, as is quite common, to denounce them for apathy. Even worse are the insidious consequences of the denial, by law, of individual self-responsibility and self-authority. In a society where the individual is forbidden to act freely on his own authority within his own personal sphere of influence, a sense of apathy MUST be the inevitable result--both a local apathy, regarding his interpersonal relationships, and a more generalized apathy, regarding his community. People who are prevented from solving their own problems will not solve the problems of their cities, either. As Kropotkin put it in his book MUTUAL AID: "In proportion as the obligations towards the State grew in numbers the citizens were evidently relieved from their obligations towards each other. Under the theory of the all-protecting State the bystander need not intrude: it is the policeman's business to interfere, or not. All that a respectable citizen has to do now is to pay the poor tax and to let the starving starve. The result is, that the theory which maintains that men can, and must, seek their own happiness in a disregard of other people's wants is now triumphant all round. It is the religion of the day, and to doubt of its efficacy is to be a dangerous Utopian." When I see a mugging I view it as an infringement on my personal view of how the world should, and should NOT, be. The criminal is not just attacking a stranger; he is attacking something I value. He fills me with indignation, because he and his sort are undermining the world I wish to live in. I can't walk past such a sight indifferently; and the fact that I don't know the victim personally is irrelevant. It is not the victim I so intensely value here: it is my world as I want it to be. Similar considerations go into risking my neck to save a stranger in peril during an emergency. I don't know anything about the stranger. I do know that I am making a personal statement against the triumph of raw circumstances over human life--and over my volition. What jumps into my head is not, "I have a ethical obligation to the stranger," but rather, "Not if I have anything to say about this!" You see, it's my


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 123 world that's under assault. Now, some might ask: "Isn't this irrational? By what standard do you project your personal value onto things which, objectively, have nothing to do with your personal survival--things which, in fact, could actually jeopardize your personal survival?" My answer is that I value these things because in sum they comprise the framework of the community I live in. If I do not act to preserve that framework in a proper condition then I will in future be unable to act within that framework for the achievement of my own personal values. Gun control: The right to keep and bear firearms is not fundamental. It is DERIVED from the more basic right to defense of person and property. Thus, any weapon which CANNOT be used against an aggressor without endangering innocent persons violates the basic right of self-defense of the endangered people. The issue of gun control then becomes a technical one of identifying which--if any--weapons NECESSARILY constitute a threat to innocent bystanders. Nuclear devices and chemical/biological weapons would seem to fail the test. (As would voting, as I explained above.) See reference

* Preemptive Force Preemptive force is defensive force applied before an aggression actually occurs. Within the context of the libertarian ethic of non-aggression, how--if at all--can the use of preemptive force be justified? Must you wait until your assailant actually shoots you before you can take any forceful action to prevent his aggression? If an ethical principle requires you to abstain from self-defense, can that principle be valid? Can any philosophy whose practice results in the death of the body or the spirit be moral or correct? As Rand pointed out, the only valid morality is one that is life sustaining rather than life negating. The significance of Time: Man cannot live range-of-the-moment. He needs to support his life by the continuous use of reason. He must make correct identifications of reality which can then serve to guide his behavior through time. "'Man's survival qua man' means the terms, methods, conditions and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan...." (Rand, in THE OBJECTVIST ETHICS) Man is obliged, by his nature as a rational being, to take account of the future. The point in time at which an event occurs is not philosophically fundamental. It is the principled nature of the event that you must consider in order to properly evaluate it. To be philosophically contextual you must judge the event on the basis of the underlying principles manifested therein. You must adhere to the principled distinction between coercion and self-defense, whether the defensive force takes place before or after the coercion. You must remember that when you defend yourself you are not fighting for control over your enemy, you are not fighting to compel your enemy's behavior, you are not fighting to separate him from a rightfully-achieved value, you are fighting only to PREVENT your enemy from coercing, either in the present or in the future. You are fighting for the preservation of your rights, your freedom, and your life through time. In my discussion of Rights (in Chapter 5) I claimed that the foundation of all human behavior--both moral and ethical--lies in the Law of Identity. Proper behavior is that which is consistent with this Law; improper behavior is that which attempts to contradict it. The violation of rights involves a contradiction of the Law of Identity. However, it is consistent to take an action which eliminates such a contradiction, even if that action, when considered out of context, could itself be a negation of the Law of Identity. In ethics, as in the propositional calculus, one negative cancels out another. (I find it personally distasteful, but I can see no way to avoid the conclusion that two wrongs can indeed make a right.) Thus to lie to a man who is trying to rob you, or to kill a man, when defending your own life against his aggression, are ethically legitimate (i.e., logically consistent) actions. See reference To limit your response would be a form of the pacifist thesis: the self-destructive notion that you must restrict YOUR behavior while your enemy has no restrictions on his. If there is a general principle involved, it must apply to both parties, not merely to one (you). Your enemy enters the relationship operating on the principle of coercion. If you cling to an unrealistic principle of non-aggression that prevents you from defending yourself against his coercion, then your enemy will always have the advantage of you and you will be destroyed. Such behavior cannot be ethically proper.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 124 Threat: Consider forceful action in response not to previous coercion, but in response to the threat of coercion. If we consider threat to have the same status as coercion itself, then the use of preemptive force is justified. If someone is pointing a gun at you, it can be argued that this in itself constitutes the initiation of force, because it is certainly an effective form of coercion--even though he has not (yet) pulled the trigger. And therefore if you use force against him you are reacting defensively, not initiating. When a man threatens you by asserting an intent to coerce, and has available the means to coerce, then you have a right to believe he intends to do what he says. If he SAYS it, you HAVE to believe he MEANS it. The alternative is to place yourself in a value-destructive situation. A good illustration of this problem appears in THE PROBABILITY BROACH by L. Neil Smith. The scene on pages 218 to 220 depicts an application of the principle of non-aggression that precludes preemptive defensive actions on the part of the intended victims.

* Rules vs. Principles A PRINCIPLE is a general and fundamental truth that can be used as a standard of judgment in deciding conduct or choice. A RULE, usually a precept adopted or enacted, is (or should be) the specific application of a principle. Thus, as Tonie Nathan observed: Proper laws are enunciations of principles of justice. A rule is a self-contained prescription about concrete actions or situations, telling you what to do or how to do it. In contrast to principles, rules are specific and limited in scope, prescribing a particular type of action in a particular situation. Because they are so specific, no set of rules could possibly cover every situation and action to which the corresponding principle applies. Rules are formulated for specific contexts, but because humans are not omniscient they can never fully specify the parameters of that context. As a result, rules almost always have exceptions and they often conflict with one another. Someone trying to follow rules without the benefit of broader principles will have no way to determine when he is faced with an exception, or how to resolve conflicts among rules. By contrast, a principle gives us comprehensive guidance across a vast number of circumstances that could not be covered by even a very long list of discrete rules, and it tells us how to identify exceptions to the rules. Properly formulated, a principle states the relationship between an action and a goal. It is a statement of cause-and-effect, and thus a principle has no exceptions. If it's possible to have an exception to your principle, then it's not a principle. Within its defined context, a principle is absolute. If you have an exception, then it's not a principle; it's a rule. A rule is something that is frequently true, but not necessarily true. That's the difference between a rule and a principle. To appreciate the problem, consider the Ten Commandments. Leaving aside the first few, which deal with the worship of God, the list is not unreasonable, as far as it goes. It's generally a good idea to honor your parents, and not to steal, kill, commit adultery, bear false witness, etc. But these rules hardly cover the whole of life. Honoring your parents is normally a matter of justice as well as affection: giving them what they are due for having given you life and nurture. But the fourth commandment has exceptions: some parents treat their children with such cruelty or neglect that no honor is due them; quite the contrary. But the commandment gives us no guidance on this point. The principle of justice does. Because it is so abstract, a principle must be applied to a particular situation by the exercise of judgment, taking into account the specific parameters of the situation. The exercise of judgment cannot be eliminated from human life, and the attempt to do so by erecting a detailed network of rules always has destructive consequences in public as well as private affairs. Unless rules are anchored in principles, they cannot be rationally justified, and will be experienced by individualists as externally-imposed constraints--limitations on their pursuit of happiness. To be nonarbitrary, a moral code must be validated by reference to a fundamental fact--an ultimate good to which all other goals of action are the means. For Objectivism, that ultimate good is the individual's own life, thus Objectivist moral principles identify the requirements for living successfully, given man's basic needs and capacities: Production is a virtue because it provides for our needs. Conceptual knowledge is a value because it makes production possible. Rationality is a virtue because it is the only way to acquire and maintain a conceptual grasp of reality. Honesty and integrity are virtues because they are the only


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 125 way of keeping one's actions tied to one's grasp of reality. A critic of rational ethics complained: "If an ethical principle requires me to abstain from self-defense in certain cases, then those cases constitute a reductio ad absurdum of said principle, and I won't apply it to them. In fact, for any imaginable principle, one can devise scenarios in which it will give absurd results and must be abandoned. Thus it's impossible to devise principles of ethics which will always work." Principles of physical law (such as Archimedes' principles of bouyancy) cannot be carried to such "reductio ad absurdum." They ALWAYS work. What does this say about so-called ethical "principles" which CAN? It says that they are not principles at all, but merely arbitrary rules. The refusal, or inability, to distinguish between rules and principles is a manifestation of the concretebound mentality that Barbara Branden analyzed in her lectures PRINCIPLES OF EFFICIENT THINKING.

* Polygamy vs. Monogamy It is with some apprehension that I use the word polygamy, because it smacks of Mormonism (especially in this part of the country). I am NOT a Mormon, and what I am advocating is profoundly different in principle from the ideas underlying the Mormon practice of polygamy. As a hard-core libertarian, I am strongly opposed to any kind of patriarchal or exploitative social interactions, sexual or otherwise. I firmly advocate personal autonomy and psychological independence. Here are two concepts useful in contemplating this subject: Polyfidelity - A polygamous marriage lifestyle in which all partners are of primary value to all other partners and the sexual fidelity of each is to the group. Compersion is sort of the opposite of jealousy. It is the positive feeling a person experiences when observing two or more of her loved ones enjoying their relationship with each other. I became aware of this concept when I observed a young mother watching her two sons, ages 3 and 4, playing together in loving harmony. The look on her face told me volumes about her love for her sons and her emotional response to their interaction. Emotions, especially love and sexual desire, are the result of a man's basic values. Thus he will naturally respond positively to ALL the women that he perceives to manifest those values. There is no inevitable conflict between what a woman feels for one man and what she feels for another, if she is responding to the SAME values manifest in both men. Thus it IS psychologically possible for one person to be deeply and romantically in love with two or more others at the same time. (Just imagine serial monogamy compressed in time so that the relationships overlap.) Francisco to Dagny: (ATLAS SHRUGGED, Part 3, Chapter 2) "You still love me.... I'm still what I was, and you'll always see it, and you'll always grant me the same response, even if there's a greater one that you grant to another man. No matter what you feel for him, it will not change what you feel for me, and it won't be treason to either, because it comes from the same root, it's the same payment in answer to the same values." Of course Dagny will prefer Galt most of the time, but would she EVER choose intimacy with Francisco or Rearden? Yes, for two reasons: She DOES love them also; and Galt won't ALWAYS be available or disposed to be with her. In a monogamous marriage, she would be limited to only one man with whom to satisfy her needs for sex, companionship and psychological visibility. That's a lot even for a John Galt to provide a woman of such depth of character, all by himself. In polygamy, on the other hand, Dagny would have three different men to care for and be cared for by. Interests one husband does not share with her might be shared with another. Needs not fulfilled by one man may be met by another. In short, polygamy would provide her with the opportunity to be more completely understood, appreciated and loved than she could expect from any monogamous marriage. Polygamy offers a variety of intellectual, emotional and physical contacts through which needs left unsatisfied by one spouse may be met by others. Polygamy has several other advantages also: It offers the economic opportunities of increased division of labor within the family and of per capita reduction of expenses like homes, cars and appliances. In the event of the death of one spouse, it offers more financial and emotional security to the others than can be obtained from a monogamous marriage. The emotional bonds that can form between same-sex partners can be likened to those between brothers, sisters, best friends, or maybe something totally new. Polygamy is the only lifestyle that can


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 126 provide bisexual people with the opportunity to fully develop and express their sexuality. Finding partners for a polygamy should be easier than finding a partner for a monogamy. In seeking a single partner, you have to find a person who has ALL of the characteristics you need in a relationship. In selecting for a polygamy, you can pick a person who has only SOME of the characteristics you need, since other partners can provide the other characteristics. Any way you describe it, polygamy offers choices which are unavailable in any other relationship format. One of the greatest practical benefits of polygamy is its potential benefit for children. Studies of the Israeli kibbutzim show that it really is psychologically healthier for children to have multiple adult role models. And, as Heinlein noted, in an extended family it is nearly impossible for a child to become an orphan. In modern American society, where the support systems of extended family, neighborhood, and community are no longer generally available and quality childcare is in short supply and often unaffordable to a single parent, multiple parenting inside a group marriage could become an increasingly attractive option. In a libertarian society, where parents would no longer have to surrender their children to a monolithic school system, the children, instead of being absorbed into large impersonal social institutions, could grow up in smaller, more intimate groupings. Polygamy is not only safer for children, it is more flexible for adults. As one woman in a polygamous family observed, "Polygamy is a feminist lifestyle. I can go off 400 miles to school, and the family keeps running." If the nuclear family represents the last stronghold of patriarchal values, the alternative values of polyfidelity may well rescue us from the alienation and social despair created by the current way of life in America. Genuine self-esteem is a prerequisite of polygamy. This is no lifestyle for emotional second-handers who derive their self-esteem from comparisons and conflicts with others. If you have insecurities, neuroticisms, or any other lack of authentic self-esteem, then this type of relationship is not for you. Nor is it for you if you are non-libertarian. In a polygamous relationship the libertarian precept becomes supremely important: each person MUST fully accept that each other individual has an unqualified right to live her life according to her own choices. When we are legally and morally obliged to love and have sex with only one other person, the notion of the other as our personal property follows almost naturally. And from this follows the necessity of sacrifice on the part of the other person. "If you begin by sacrificing yourself to those you love, you will end by hating those to whom you have sacrificed yourself." .... G.B. Shaw Going against your own true nature never works in the long run, and inevitably creates great stress within an intimate relationship. The pressures for self-sacrifice are burdensome enough in a neurotic monogamy; in a neurotic polygamy they could become overwhelming. You could end by hating those for whom you sacrifice yourself. As I pointed out above, polygamy offers greater scope for value-achievement than does monogamy. A polygamous person may be MORE selective, MORE discriminating, than any monogamist, in that she can be eclectic in her relationships among her family, as contrasted to the exclusive commitment to one person demanded by monogamy, which often forces people to stifle interests not shared with their only spouse. A polygamist need make no sacrifices in the name of marital "fidelity." He is free to choose relationships among partners and select the ones that best satisfy his specific needs--not frozen into an emotional/intellectual/sexual status quo wherein his freedom to select and discriminate is delimited by his sole spouse's range of interests and capabilities. "I shall love and cherish, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire." .... ANTHEM Creating a more loving world containing social tolerance for cultural and intellectual diversity is a daunting challenge. We can cocoon ourselves into our homes and approach the next millenium as insulated as possible from the dark ages mentality which is becoming ever more prevalent: a mentality wherein individual freedom is trashed and Christianity, hand-in-hand with gargantuan government, supports stultifying educational and political tyranny, making schools and families into places of conflict and abuse to run away from. Or we can stand as representatives of choice, creativity, and psycho-social innovation by developing new and better ways to live together, ways which enhance individual selfdetermination in a context of decentralized social institutions.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 127 Polyfidelity is one part of the answer. Bibliography: "The Ethics of Polygamy" by Paul L. Gross, REASON July 1973 THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert Heinlein, Berkley 0 425 06262 7 THE NEW FAITHFUL by Ryam Nearing, Box 6306, Captain Cook, HI 96704 This book contains a very interesting and useful bibliography. Fictional portrayals of strife-filled situations to which polyandry would provide a clear and effective remedy: These two movies: FIRST KNIGHT and PEARL HARBOR THE EVENING NEWS by Arthur Hailey, Part1 Section5 Dell 440-20851-3 Of the 1154 human societies in the Human Relations Area Files of Yale University, more than 1000 practice some degree of sanctioned polygamy, and polygamy is the preferred choice in 70% of those.

* Forgiveness In consulting various dictionaries, I observed that underlying all their many "definitions" of the term "forgive" was a plea to either forget a misdeed or to pretend it didn't happen. But on giving the subject some thought, I realized that there is another alternative: To plea for forgiveness is to request "Do not judge me by this act alone." Should a person be judged on the basis of a single act, or the long-term accumulation of his behavior? A man may be extremely moral and rational, but, because he is neither omniscient nor infallable, once in a while he may do or say something thoughtlessly harmful (e.g., unfairly insult his wife). By a narrowminded, either-or criterion applied to the entirety of his character, that single blemish alone could constitute sufficient grounds to condemn him. The Randites are infamous for this sort of judgment procedure. To them, his action "proves" that he is not "in principle" committed to reason--hence, he is irrevocably irrational. Furthermore, he is judged to be just as extremely irrational as Stalin was: both are described as having crossed the only boundary line that matters, the "essential" boundary line of morality. Since the only thing that matters is the fact that a moral lapse has occurred, nothing further need be considered. Such lump categorizing into "moral vs. immoral" categories is a context-dropping logical non-sequitur. It implies that one part equals the whole--that an isolated misdeed in an otherwise virtuous life proves a totally corrupt character--and thus spares the accuser the need to make a conscientious effort to determine ALL the relevant facts underlying a person's behavior before condemning him. This, of course, saves the fanatic much time and mental effort. He need not weigh carefully a person's total moral character, balancing a lifetime of virtue against a momentary lapse. Along with the other errors the Randites make, they are guilty of being unrealistic. There ARE degrees of good and evil in this world, and they do matter. Our response to an individual guilty of some petty lapse should be to encourage his return to integrity--not to gleefully damn him to an eternity in Hell. I emphasize "petty" because obviously, chronic or serious irrationality deserves our wholehearted condemnation. In considering irrationality, we can make several distinctions: A petty misdeed would be an act, such as an insult to one's spouse, that results merely in some emotional upset. A graver misdeed would be one that causes physical harm or property damage. Greater still would be a misdeed for which restitution could not possibly be made. How could you really forgive something that couldn't ever be undone? Assuming that the perpetrator is guilty merely of an isolated misdeed, but is not the kind of person who is fundamentally and consistently immoral, what can he do to make amends? First of all, make restitution. Restore the loss that you have caused. Then initiate a series of actions designed to prove that the one act is not representative of your character. Construct a behaviorial context in which the one misdeed pales into insignificance in relation to the full context of all your other acts. Do not depend on your past actions to indicate this. You must initiate a series of new actions in order to re-establish the lost confidence. You must convince your associates both that the one act does not truly represent your character and also that the one act does not signify an impending change in your character. The most important thing is that you do not dissociate ideas from action, that you actually DO something to remedy the situation. Not just talk, but ACTION is what is required. Merely saying "I'm sorry" is not enough.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 128 Many people in this society have mixed premises; they are sometimes rather decent, sometimes thoughtless, dishonest, or even cruel. It is probably impossible to avoid some contact and interaction with them. In such interactions, you are faced not so much with the issue of forgiveness but with toleration. (This is especially true in employee/employer relationships.) You have to weigh the benefits against the costs of dealing with such people and decide how much of their wretchedness you are willing to tolerate. In these dealings, it has always helped me to have a firm heirarchy of values. This has provided me with a sound basis for my decisions. Here are two other perspectives on this subject: "The Cult of Moral Grayness" in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS TRUTH AND TOLERATION by David Kelley


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 129

Chapter 7 GOVERNMENT * Government defined * Descriptions of Government * Corruption in Government * The Real Function of Government * What Government Responds to * Political Intentions are Irrelevant * Failures and Contradictions of Government * Why Government Failure is Inevitable * Government Murders During the 20th Century * The War On Drugs My critique of government is based on the idea that there exist ethical principles which are external to government--i.e., which exist independently of government. Many statists assert the opposite idea: that there are no such independently-existing principles, and that government is necessary for (among other things) the creation of ethical principles. The flaw in their argument is that if there were no independently-existing ethical principles then there would be no principles according to which a government could be established, and no means by which the behavior of government could itself be judged. Since the ostensible purpose of law is to protect rights, if there were no natural rights then there could be no standard for judging the legitimacy or efficacy of government-made laws. (See Chapter 5 * Natural Rights) See reference When a social metaphysician (an individual who holds the consciousnesses of other people, not objective reality, as his ultimate frame-of-reference) becomes a politician, he aquires the coercive power to impose his judgments upon other people. This is his way of manipulating "reality." Here you have a psychological explanation for the attitude held by many statists of the social metaphysician type: that the government is the ultimate foundation for morality, ethics, and law. This also helps explain why many tyrants have the certainty that their decrees actually do constitute reality, and why those tyrants are often quite literally incapable of perceiving any inherent contradictions in their laws. In their minds, the law IS reality. But if government were actually the foundation of morality, if social justice did in fact result from law, then laws would in fact create social justice. The existence of widespread injustice proves this statist thesis to be wrong. The practical implementation of that thesis, by both fascist and communist States, has resulted in the most horrendous atrocities humankind has ever suffered.

* Government defined We must keep firmly in mind the essential difference between governments and other agencies that deal in force. A government intends to profit from the initiation of force. A private agency (including a protection agency) intends to profit from trade. A government uses force to gain values. A private protection agency uses trade to gain values. Both deal in force, but the government uses it offensively whereas the private agency uses it defensively. This is also true of law. Government institutions of law have a purpose different from that of the institutions of common law. Common law and its institutions facilitate voluntary interactions; government law and its institutions impose involuntary interactions. Not only is it the case that government intends to profit from the initiation of force, government is structured in such a way that its functioning can ONLY result from the initiation of force. Without taxation, government could not function. This is the reason why government cannot help some people without also reducing other people's opportunities. TANSTAAFL. A critique of the Randian view: Rand defined government as "an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 130 social conduct in a given geographical area. A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control." Attempting to circumvent its implications for coercion, Randites expand on this definition by claiming that in a free society the government is prohibited by a Constitution from initiating force. Barbara Branden makes perhaps the best presentation of the Randian view of government. She claims that government is "a social agency that performs the task of formulating and enforcing the laws of a country. The concept does not entail that a function of that political body will be the initiation of force. But because it is true that a factual function of government IS the initiation of some extent of force, people fail to grasp the possibility of an alternative to that factual function. They fail to separate the concrete from the abstraction. They have failed to differentiate some particular instances of government from the abstraction as such." There are several flaws in this idea: If, as Rand claims, government has exclusive power, then how can it be prevented from aggressing, since, being exclusive, there can be no restraining power to stand against it? The initiation of force cannot in any way be prevented except by bringing to bear against it an equal or greater force. But if government holds exclusive power, then there cannot exist any greater force, and thus government cannot be limited in the use of its force. As used by Rand, the concepts of "exclusive" and "objective control" preclude one another. The constitutionalists make the mistake of confounding the term "prohibit" with the term "prevent." It is quite obvious that to forbid some action is by no means to prevent that action, and the idea that a document can, of itself, impose a restraint on the behavior of an organization of men possessed with weapons of destruction, is simply absurd. The only thing that can counter the power of a gun is another gun. A written Constitution won't stop a policeman's bullet, no matter how vigorously you wave it, nor how vociferously you assert its provisions. As Mao Tse Tung taught, "All government power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Thus it follows that all anti-government power MUST also grow out of the barrel of a gun. The Randian abstraction is not an abstraction from existing concretes--there is not now and never has been a government that did not aggress against its subjects. It is not "some particular instances of government" that manifest this attribute, it is ALL instances of government that do so. The aggression is a universal and fundamental characteristic of ALL governments. It is universal because any government, to be territorially exclusive, must compel every person within its domain to acquiesce in its sovereignty, regardless of that person's choices. It is fundamental because that acquiescence underlies ALL the other functions of government. Government MUST compel obedience to its laws, especially its tax laws, in order to finance its entire operation. Aggression is therefore a definitive characteristic in forming the concept "government." It is not epistemologically proper to hypothesize a non-existent concrete (a government without coercion) and subsume it within a conceptual abstraction. Branden insists on including an imaginary characteristic within her abstraction and in so doing creates not a valid concept but a fiction. Branden insists that government be defined, not by what it IS, but by what she WANTS it to be. To speak of a government that does not aggress is like talking about a barking cat. This is a phenomenon that you can IMAGINE, but it is not something that exists in reality. We must perceive things as they are, not as we might want them to be. And we must define our concepts according to real, existing characteristics, not according to imaginary attributes. The word "government" has an easily discernable meaning which can be seen by anyone who looks deeply enough into the factual nature of its fundamental distinguishing characteristic. To think about, and communicate sensibly about, an institution which does NOT share that fundamental distinguishing characteristic, we should select a verbal label different from the one that is already applied to the entity which DOES possess it. Thus it is improper to use the word "government" in the Randian way. If we could actually institutionalize non-aggression we could not properly call the resulting institution "government." Nock made a distinction between the State and Government: "Government is an agency with strictly limited powers, devoted to protecting individual rights to life, liberty and property. The State, on the other hand, is an offshoot of government that develops when some people capture the machinery of government and pervert it, using its powers not to protect rights, but to


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 131 violate them, to exploit people by confiscating their wealth, regulating their activities, and subjugating them whenever necessary to enhance its own illicit power." This distinction is spurious. "Government," as Nock describes it, is something that has never existed. The State is not an offshoot of government--something that develops from the corruption of government--what he describes as the State is in fact the only one of the two institutions described by Nock that has existed in history. Except for some private agencies, limited in scope and subsumed by the State, there has in fact never been what Nock calls a Government. A conceptual distinction can be made between the coercive institution I have described above as "government" and the more general notion of "the means by which peaceful order is maintained in a society" (the means may not necessarily be a government). Some people would use "state" to denote the first and "government" to denote the second, but this would be ambiguous--for communication--in view of the widespread equivalence between the words "state" and "government," so I will use "state" and "government" synonymously, and use "governance" to denote the idea of "any means by which order is maintained in a society." Coercive power is that which defines government and makes government different from any other (non-criminal) social institution. All other differences between states and other institutions flow from this fundamental characteristic. Thus the proper definition of government is "the strongest organization of aggressors in a particular area at a particular time."

* Descriptions of Government George Washington: "Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force." Gandhi: "The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence, to which it owes its very existence." Mencken: "The typical lawmaker of today is a man devoid of principle--a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology, or cannibalism." [Or infanticide, as we have seen in Philadelphia and Waco.] Lane: "The nation is nothing at all but simple force. Not in a single nation are the people of one race, one history, one culture, nor the same political opinion or religious faith. They are simply human beings of all kinds, penned inside frontiers which mean nothing whatever but military force." The essential characteristic of States and quasi-States (e.g., the PLO and the IRA) is that they initiate force to implement their policies. Viewing the State all through history, it is clear that there is no principled way to differentiate the activities of its administrators from those of a professional criminal class. Thus there are no ethical differences between a hoodlum protection racket and a State, save scale, sophistication, and success in conning the victims into acceptance of its behavior. Rand was wrong about the government's desire to maintain a semblance of morality. A "semblance of morality" implies that there exists a moral principle which is external to the government and which the government considers itself under obligation to abide by. Such a consideration is impossible within a context in which all morality is derived from the government.

* Corruption in Government When I attribute some purpose to government, I do not mean to imply that individual people who are members of government explicitly hold that purpose as their personal objective. This is quite frequently NOT the case at all! What I am attempting to do is explain the consequences of government in terms of institutionalized behavior whose implementation results in those consequences. Just as no one really INTENDS to kill himself when he begins to be an alcoholic, nevertheless his behavior has that as its consequence. The only choice a man has is what actions he will take. He has no choice about the consequences of those actions. They are rigidly determined by the law of cause-and-effect. By the Law of Identity. "In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover and wickedness cultivate." ... Thomas Jefferson Being merely human, a percentage of bureaucrats can be expected to be corrupt, thus as the number of bureaucrats increases there will be more corruption. At the same time, increased government authority means that more property rights are controlled by government, thus there comes to be greater scope for


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 132 corruption. The more severe are the legal constraints on private markets, the more valuable becomes the authority controlled by government, thus the reward for corruption increases. Police corruption occurs in those areas where entrepreneurs would supply voluntary services to consumers, but where the government has decreed that those services are illegal: drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc. Where gambling, for example, is outlawed, the law places into the hands of the police the power to grant the privilege of engaging in the gambling business. In short, it is as if the police were empowered to issue special licenses for these activities, and then proceeded to sell these unofficial licenses at whatever price the traffic will bear. Whether consciously or not, the government proceeds as follows: first it outlaws certain businesses, then the police sell to would-be entrepreneurs the privilege of engaging in those businesses. This is one area in which the most frequently-heard apologia for government is quite true: "Government is necessary to create the infrastructure upon which rests other social behavior." As well as providing the legal infrastructure for police corruption, for the immigration horror stories, for the drug war violence, and for countless other ills, the government also provides the infrastructure for more general moral and ethical wickedness, through the teachings in its compulsory education program (see my essay on Education in America), and via the examples of its own vicious behavior: young people who base their ethos on government are getting their examples from the Rodney King video. See reference Be that as it may, given the unfortunate and unjust laws, the police corruption described above may actually be beneficial to society. Society may be better off if corruption induces police to ignore many of the victimless crimes, thus leaving police resources available to prevent real crimes. Ignoring many laws, such as housing codes and import restrictions, would actually improve social welfare. In a number of countries, there would be virtually no trade or industry at all in the absence of the "corruption" that nullifies government prohibitions. But how sane is the moral foundation of an institution that requires the corruption of its members to achieve beneficial ends? As I try to make clear in my writings, I oppose government not only for what it is and what it does, but also for what it makes possible. Getting rid of government would not directly eliminate all the ills of the world, but it would free people to reduce or eliminate those ills themselves--"to take out their own garbage" as I put it. The elimination of those ills is something that government has clearly failed to do.

* The Real Function of Government The police have no legal duty to protect individual citizens against crime, and cannot be held legally responsible if they fail to do so. Even if a citizen's 911 call gets through to the emergency center, the police can simply choose to ignore it, and the citizen has no legal recourse against them. The courts have repeatedly ruled on this. As far back as 1856 the US Supreme Court, in South v. Maryland, handed down this opinion. A more recent example can be found in Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1982): "There is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. [The refusal by the state] to protect its residents against such predators... does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, or... any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution... does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order." Author James Bovard has noted that "both the law and the courts have consistently held that police need not respond to citizens in deadly peril." Many police themselves, for example Richard Mack, Sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, admit that "police do very little to prevent violent crime." As of 1990, the San Francisco police no longer investigate burglaries where the value of goods stolen is under $10K. Nor will they investigate bad-check cases if the amount is under $2K. In 1988 they investigated only 26% of all violent crimes reported (but they spent 73 million dollars waging the drug war). The Dade County police respond to only 2 out of 7 calls for help from their citizens. In 1990, Americans were subject to 639,000 robberies, resulting in a total loss of $500 million. But the Drug Enforcement Administration seized $862 million worth of property and the Border Patrol seized $950 million. In 1994, federal prosecutors confiscated $2.1 billion through asset forfeiture proceedings. Who is REALLY robbing you, the freelance felons--or the government goons? According to the Statistical Abstract of the USA, the per capita loss to crime each year is $5,760. But


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 133 this pales in comparison to the $20,470 that you could put into your pocket each year if government were abolished. (You can calculate this amount by summing up the total revenues of all federal, state, and local governments, then dividing that sum by the number of non-government working people. The figures above are for the year 1990.) This system is so much a fraud that it would be far better to do nothing whatsoever about crime than to do what government is doing now. Nor does government protect people against foreign aggression--on the contrary, it coerces the people (by means of what is euphemistically called "selective service") into protecting and preserving the government's own existence. Have you ever wondered just what the government is REALLY doing while it is claiming to "serve and protect"? In 1971, the FBI office in Media, Pa. (a suburb of Philadelphia) was raided by persons unknown and a large quantity of documents seized. An analysis of the seized documents was subsequently published in the Los Angeles Free Press, 24Dec71: 40% surveillance of political groups 30% internal administrative matters 15% "ordinary" crime 7% military AWOLs and deserters 7% draft resisters 1% organized crime This raid was considered so significant by the FBI that it closed about half its offices throughout the country, concentrating its resources in the remainder so as to provide for greater secrecy in its operations. The true function of the police is not to protect individual citizens against crime. Their function is precisely described by the general name of their profession: Law Enforcement. It would help you think more clearly about them if you consider the word PIG to be an acronym: Protector of Institutions of Government. You should also realize that the phrase "Law and Order" is a perfect synonym for "Government Control." Governments all behave in fundamentally the same manner, regardless of what they say their goals are. Perhaps they might be more accurately perceived as big machines that do what they are programmed to do rather than as bunches of people. A culture develops within government that is completely dominated by the advocates of government action. From constituents to lobbyists to journalists, the lawmakers very rarely, if ever, come in contact with anyone who advocates government INaction. Every employee at every level of every government department is affected and all those expensive people think they have to DO SOMETHING to justify their salaries, and every action they take is another interference with freedom, keeping people from doing what they want to do or making people do things they don't want to do. A bureaucrat dreads being accused of doing nothing; he has to do something to make it look like he's DOING SOMETHING, so he will continually proliferate rules. One result is that the American court system is drowning in the avalanche of legal pollution that could appropriately be called hyperleges. Legislatures are founded on the assumption that there is a need for the continual production of rules to govern the lives of the citizens. Is this a valid assumption? Is it really necessary for you to live under more than a million laws in order to be able to go down to the corner store and buy a loaf of bread? This is no exaggeration: In 1992 it was calculated that among the Federal, State and Local governments, every American citizen lives under the shroud of more than a million laws. On January 1, 1996, one thousand new laws went into effect in the state of California alone. Not only are the laws multiplying in number, they are growing in size: the IRS code consists of over 9000 pages. But hyperleges is inevitable under the present legal system: it is the natural function of a legislature to pass laws, just as it is the natural function of flies to make maggots. We have legislatures at the federal, state and local levels whose only function is to create laws, thus the inevitable result of 200 years of legislative function MUST be a plethora of laws. After two centuries, what could you expect but that the American court system would be drowning in laws? This is a situation that can only get worse as time passes and legislatures keep performing their natural function. These laws are the structure of the culture of our society. It is universally observed that this culture is deteriorating--that there is more personal danger and less personal safety than there used to be in this country. But have the people themselves changed all that much? Are you yourself any less civilized than your grandparents were? I really don't think individual people have changed; what HAS changed is the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 134 social context in which we live. We have thousands, if not millions, more laws than our grandparents had. But we are people, just as our grandparents were. The difference is not in the people, but in the rules which limit our individual choices and govern our social interactions. Eventually civilization will be destroyed in a crazy welter of laws, taxes, regulations, and the endless proliferation of government intrusion into all phases of human activity. Governments are not going to stop short at some point and quit implementing new laws. In reality they're going to continue just as always, passing new ones at the rate of tens of thousands per year. Can this go on indefinitely? Or is there a finite number of things that can possibly be regulated? Personally, I'm glad I won't live long enough to find out. A Constitution should be a set of general principles that determine statutory law, but the Founding Fathers did not possess rationally-derived ethical and moral principles. The multitude of laws that we have today are inevitable because we do not have a principled foundation for governance. Since we cannot apply a principle to any given situation and thereby determine how to cope with it, we must have an individual law for each conceivable situation to tell us how to cope with it. And this law code must grow and grow and grow because it can never be complete. It can never encompass the totality of human experience. (There is perhaps no clearer example of the fact that the American legal system--and indeed the American government in general--has no fundamental principles, than the process of confirming a judge--especially a Supreme Court judge--to office. This process makes it perfectly clear that the future of American jurisprudence rests, not on any ethical principle, but on the personal character and personal philosophy of the individual judge.) If we view crimes as being behaviors that conflict with the interests of the segments of society that have the power to influence government law, then we realize that the government merely tries to balance the demands of conflicting interest groups, and to discriminate among them on the basis of their relative electoral power in order to determine who gains and who loses. Thus government pours forth a continuous stream of legislation, forcing pro-freedom groups to spend time, energy and money defending old gains rather than striving for new ones. A primary function of government is to act as a mechanism to take wealth from some and transfer it to others. Governments protect individuals' property against the depredations of private criminals as a shepherd protects his sheep from shearing by others. But against their own government, individuals have to protect their accumulated wealth as best they can themselves. Special interest politics is a simple game. A hundred people sit in a circle, each with his pocket full of pennies. A politician walks around the outside of the circle, taking a penny from each person. No one minds; who cares about a penny? When he has gotten all the way around the circle, the politician throws fifty cents down in front of one of the people, who is overjoyed at the windfall. The process is repeated, ending with a different person. After a hundred rounds, everyone is a hundred cents poorer, fifty cents richer, and happy. And the politician walks off with fifty bucks in his pocket! The modern welfare state is merely a complicated arrangement by which nobody pays for the education of his own children, but everybody pays for the education of everybody else's children; by which nobody pays his own medical bills, but everybody pays everybody else's medical bills; by which nobody provides for his own old-age security, but everybody pays for everybody else's old-age security; and so on. Those who claim that government, bad though it may be, is an absolute necessity for protecting people against crime, must explain the fact that for every 1000 crimes the American police are aware of, only one criminal is ever sentenced to prison.

* What Government Responds to For many years I had a vague, non-specific realization that government in America is somehow fundamentally different from most other governments. But I could not specify precisely what that difference is founded on. I believed there to be a much stronger connection between government and the public here in America than in other countries, but I could not identify the nature of that connection. Then, when the passage of Proposition 13 in California in 1978 (by a margin of 2 to 1 at the polls) touched off a nationwide run of similar legislation in other states, I came to realize just how it is that the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 135 government is responsive to "the people." I now believe that elected officials base (sometimes explicitly, but not always so) their behavior on WHAT THEY PERCEIVE TO BE THE WILL OF THE MAJORITY OF THE VOTERS. In this statement I use three terms very carefully and deliberately: perception, will, and majority (not the majority of the whole population, but the majority of the voters). Most political behavior is not based on the will of the majority, but is based on what the politician PERCEIVES to be the will of the majority. This explains the influence of lobbyists and other pressure groups. Of course, this does not account for ALL political behavior--a lot of it is straightforwardly venal, and much is intended simply to increase the power of government. But in almost all situations where the issue under consideration is the subject of considerable publicity, the politician will do what he THINKS the MAJORITY of the voters WANT him to do. I believe there are no limits to this. None whatsoever. They believe that God's Ultimate Truth is engraved upon the impermanent stone of political polls, and, as Mencken implied, they would, if they thought it politically expedient, legislate infanticide just as readily as they voted in Prohibition and the War on Drugs. This thesis leads to an answer to the question: "Why don't politicians have principles?" If my argument is correct, then it is an immediate conclusion that politicians CANNOT have principles (except the one that I have attributed to them). Any man who insists on shaping his behavior by reference to ethical or moral principles, rather than electoral pragmatism, would be unlikely to get elected. If his insistence on principle were to be adamant while he was in office, he would surely not get re-elected. Thus I see a selection process in action--a selectivity which ensures that politicians will not be the sort of people who understand and act on principles. The notion that politicians refer to "accepted religious principles" has considerable merit too. If the politician cannot see, clearly and explicitly, the will of the majority, he will act by default, as it were. He will consult whatever set of "principles" he holds implicitly, usually some set of religious ethics or, lacking that, a collection of cliches and platitudes. But there is a caveat attached to my hypothesis. Although I am quite sure that the government is sensitive to what it perceives the majority of voters DO want, there are certainly instances when the government does things that the majority of people DON'T want. For example, a Gallup Poll in 1977 found that Americans opposed minority preferences by a margin of 8 to 1; nonwhites opposed them by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The poll-takers concluded: "Rarely is public opinion, on such a controversial issue, as united as over this question. Not a single population group supports affirmative action." In spite of this clear indication of public opposition, the government has continued to mandate its programs for decades.

* Political Intentions are Irrelevant The State makes promises to its citizens that it cannot even try to fulfill without employing means that frustrate their own ends. As the gap widens between promise and fulfillment, any perceptive and honest people in the political system tend to dissociate themselves from the process, abandoning it to those who are unscrupulous enough to accept and practice fraud. As the State extends its power, increasingly callous practices are required of increasingly callous people. The worst get on top, and try to stay there. Politicians have to be wicked: the requirements of office are such that no benevolent mind could meet them. Once a man has chosen to become part of the State, it is the nature of the institution that determines the context within which he functions, and limits the ways in which he CAN function, regardless of his intentions. It is incorrect to blame the woes of the world solely on the individual people who help perpetrate them. For example, to blame the atrocities of the Nazi government on Hitler. The fundamental fault lay not with Hitler but with the social institution that enabled him to perpetrate his personal evil. Without that institution Hitler would have been merely a small-time local criminal. It was the existence of the institution that enabled him to perpetrate his evil on a world-wide scale. The vices of an authoritarian social institution are that it enables people who are naturally savage to use their institutional authority to perpetrate that savagery in a widespread manner. And it induces, or even compels, the manifestation of savagery in people who might otherwise be decent. For example, police training systematically presents the idea that it is right to force others to obey orders. Thus individuals who become police are subjected to gradual changes in themselves which, like the motion of the hands on a clock, may be difficult to see at any particular moment, but are nonetheless inexorably


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 136 cumulative. A man or woman of only moderately authoritarian tendencies at the time of first entering the police force soon begins to accelerate down the path to savagery. Perhaps the first time he witnesses fellow officers beating up a suspect, the new recruit is astonished and horrified. But he says nothing because so many officers with greater experience and authority accept the violence. The next time, the new recruit looks the other way and feels terribly upset. By the third time, he merely thinks: "Oh no, not this cruelty again." By the twentieth or the thirtieth time, the no-longer-rookie cop is accustomed to seeing such injustice, and after many years on the force, such a man or woman thinks nothing of performing such acts. But nowhere along the line could the cop see himself turning into a bully. He sees himself as civilized, but a policeman is civilized only so long as those under his authority act in such a way as not to arouse his innate savagery. Remember, no one can initially become a policeman unless he has already accepted the basic premise that coercion is ethically proper. His willingness to enforce victimless crime laws is the direct proof that he is non-libertarian. Though he may clothe his savagery in politenesses, this does not make him civilized. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. One meaning of this is that brutality profoundly affects the tyrant. Once a person becomes accustomed to coercion, that person's mind changes, becoming farther and farther dissociated from reality. Eventually, the trappings of tyranny become an inherent part of his nature, in a process so gradual and seemingly so logical that he hardly knows what has taken place. He becomes what he has done over the years. The individual policeman may not be evil in personal intent, but he is compelled to be evil by the nature of the institution that controls his behavior. The laws he is obliged to enforce are themselves evil. No matter how well-meaning the individual policeman may be, the parameters of the institution in which he functions compel upon him this alternative: to accept the conditions of the institution or to withdraw (or be ejected) from participation in it. Part of "accept the conditions of the institution," whether it is a police institution or a military institution, is the requirement that the participant renounce his own moral autonomy, abandon his own sense of ethical judgment and allow himself to become the instrument of the judgments of his superiors: he must sell his soul to the institution. Once he has done this there are no limits to the wickedness he is capable of. He has lost that dimension of the spirit which defined his humanity. It doesn't take an advanced degree in Sociology to understand what I'm trying to say. My thesis was encapsulated with remarkable precision and clarity in this comment from a teenage high-school dropout residing in an inner-city ghetto: "Naw, I could never be a cop. Cops gotta fuck with people. I couldn't do that for a living." "When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of public duties they lead their country by a short route to chaos."... Sir Thomas More. And after he has done it for a sufficient length of time, he will become so immersed in the life that no other alternative will be conceivable to him: "When National Socialism has ruled long enough, it will no longer be possible to conceive of a form of life different from ours."... Adolph Hitler. Many men have no honor, but at least it is possible for an individual man to have honor. It is not possible for a government to have honor, simply because no one within it can keep his honor while continuing to condone and participate in the dishonorable behavior that is an inevitable concomitant of government. Nobody who is UNwilling to use coercion could accept and hold a position of power. Every individual who begins working within the political system, in an effort to accomplish anything whatsoever, enlarges the system by his own presence. This is always true, even when the intent of the activist is the reduction of government. A pernicious system is not made less so by its adherents' intentions that it do good. Success in the free market rewards the virtues of thrift, hard work, and far-sighted entrepreneurship. Success in politics, on the other hand, rewards the ethical vices of demagogy, mendacity, and expertise in the wielding of terror and coercion. The politician's job consists in sacrificing some men to others. Thus, no matter what choices he makes, they cannot be just. Proceeding from an unjust basis, he can have no rational standards by which to judge. Hence, the good people--from any rational point of view--will tend to rise to the top in a free society, while ethical scum will tend to rise to the top of a statist system. The Greeks had a word for it: Kakistocracy. In rough translation: shit floats. The idea that the Libertarian Party can effect any changes in the performance of government is based on an incorrect assumption: that there can be honest, sane and benevolent people among members of the government. Even if a man desires very strongly to accomplish some good and beneficial end, he cannot


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 137 do it through means which are fundamentally evil and, by acting via these evil means, he makes himself immoral REGARDLESS OF HIS INTENTIONS. It is as impossible for an honest and just man to participate in government as for an atheist to become an archbishop. Or a priest to become an abortionist. In each case, the alternatives differ in terms of fundamental principles so opposed that there is no possibility of overlap. The purpose of becoming a politician is to compel your values on other people. Although you can become a political candidate for the purpose of using an election campaign as a means of education, you cannot use a political office except by means of coercion. That is simply not possible. Throughout the history of government, there has been one thing only that has tied government behavior to the facts of reality: the necessities of military action. When you are making guns and bombs, you HAVE to know what reality is. Without this compelling link to reality, all government behavior would be totally insane. Even with it, most government behavior is irrational at best--madness otherwise.

* Failures and Contradictions of Government There are many who claim that without government there would exist much more suffering and distress. In response to this manifestation of the "WouldChuck" fallacy I can only say that I am honest enough to admit that I do not know how much suffering and distress there would be without government. All I can do is point out some of the more blatant examples of how much suffering and distress there are WITH government, and observe that under the plausible pretext of protecting person and property, governments have spread wholesale misery, destruction, and death all over the earth where peace and security might otherwise have prevailed. They have shed more blood, committed more crimes, tortures, and murders in struggles with each other and with their subjects than society would or could have suffered in the absence of all governments whatever. Here I want to present just a few examples of how government fails in practice. If you read the newspapers and newsmagazines regularly, you will quickly see that these examples are merely tiny drops in the huge bucket of government's incompetence and viciousness. Scientific American, March 1995, contains an essay describing the effects of The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, telling how, "in typical fashion, the lawmakers gave little forethought to the social and economic consequences of the act." Some of its consequences run "directly contrary to the ideal that motivated NAGPRA in the first place." In 1992, C. Timothy McKeown of the Department of the Interior stated that he "would feel the department had done its job if all parties [to the act] were dissatisfied." Consider the requirements of the Gramm-Rudman law. And their actual effect on the federal budget deficit. Gramm-Rudman was not the first attempt to balance the budget, only the best-publicized. Anyone who has kept track of the legal mandates of these laws, and their subsequent actual effects, knows that the government's batting average in this area is precisely zero. The Minimum Wage: The first thing that happens when a law is passed that no one shall be paid less than $3 for an hour's work is that no one who cannot produce the equivalent of $3 an hour for his employer can be employed at all. You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for anyone to offer him anything less. You merely deprive the employee of the right to earn the amount that his abilities would permit him to earn, while the employer is deprived even of the moderate services that the employee is capable of rendering. In brief, for a low wage the government substitutes unemployment. The December, 1991, issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN contains an excellent example of the precept that government is grossly inefficient at best, and counterproductive at worst. An essay on "Homelessness in America" touts government as the only effective means of coping with the problem, and presents as an ideal remedy "a joint effort started in 1989 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and HUD. Under the Homeless Families Program, nine cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore and Denver, will receive a projected $600,000 grant each over five years to implement services for homeless families. The program also makes available 1,200 Section 8 certificates, public housing assistance funds, worth about $35 million over five years.... To date, the initiative has helped more than 100 homeless families move from emergency shelters to permanent housing." What you see here is the government providing 100 dwellings, but when you look slightly deeper you observe that in so doing, the government expropriated enough wealth to have provided 160 houses. How so? Well, consider that during the two-year period "to date," this project had spent over 16 megabucks to


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 138 provide those 100 homes. (That comes to $160K per dwelling.) But this occurred at a time during which the average cost of a new house in America was less than $100K. The 16 Megabucks, if spent by private builders, would have provided 160 dwellings. The more the government spends on housing, the fewer houses there will be in relation to the number that could have existed without government intervention. Robert Heinlein once remarked: "Ten-dollar hamburgers? Brother, we are headed for the hundreddollar hamburger; for the barter-only hamburger. But this is only an inconvenience rather than a disaster as long as there is plenty of hamburger." So far there is still plenty of housing and hamburger in America (at least in comparison with countries where housing and food production are completely controlled by government). But as government intervention in the economy becomes more and more pervasive, the economy will become less and less able to provide these and other necessities of life. And the fewer houses produced, the more people will clamor for the government to "do something about the problem of homelessness!" And every time it does something, there will be still fewer houses produced, simply because government is not the solution-government is the problem. (For a more thorough account of the effects of government on the housing market read THE FEDERAL BULLDOZER by Martin Anderson.) Government does not cause affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries have lots of government, but very little affluence. That same issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN contains an article on America's Wetlands. In its attempt to preserve these ecological areas, the federal government has implemented several programs, including the 1972 Clean Water Act and the 1985 Swampbuster program. In spite of these schemes, some 300K acres of wetlands are lost every year, and the Department of the Interior estimates that less than half of America's original wetlands still exist. The government's latest effort, the l991 Wetlands Guidelines, was used to evaluate 22 of Washington State's recognized wetlands. To the surprise of the scientists, only four of the 22 wetlands would still be so classified under the new rules. Many experts say the document is filled with inconsistencies and loopholes that could lead to the loss of designation for half of the nation's remaining wetlands. There are also several other bills pending in Congress that would alter the definition and relative value of wetlands. Each agency involved in wetlands management--the Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Sevice, the Soil Conservation Service and the Environmental Protection Agency--uses different guidelines to define a wetland. Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan, when asked to define 'wetlands' responded: "I take the position that there are certain kinds of vegetation that are common in wetlands, pussy willows or whatever the name is. That's one way you can tell, and then if it's wet." Here we see a situation worse even than the housing debacle described above. At least in the area of houses, there are SOME dwellings constructed as a result of the government's policies, even though the government's behavior in this area is grossly inefficient. But in its dealing with wetlands, the government is actually counterproductive. The more it passes laws and creates agencies, the more the wetlands vanish. The automotive industry's anticorrosion treatments produce a zinc-rich sludge that in the past was sent to a smelter to recover the zinc and return it to the industry. But a decade ago the government began listing such wastewater treatment sludges as hazardous. The unintended consequence is that the smelters can no longer receive the sludge, because it has become, in name, a hazardous material, and the regulatory requirements for accepting it are too severe. The zinc-rich sludge is redirected to landfills, thereby increasing costs for automobile manufacturers and producing a waste disposal problem for future generations. This situation clearly illustrates what is a serious problem: well-meant environmental regulations, because they put up high barriers to reuse, often have the bizarre effect of increasing both the amount of waste created and the amount to be disposed. They might more accurately be viewed as antirecycling regulations. The imposition of restraints on Japanese automobile imports to the USA during the 1980s shifted the composition of those imports away from small cars and towards larger cars, as the Japanese attempted to increase their revenues without increasing the number of units they sold. Yet larger cars are relatively fuel inefficient. Thus the protective efforts of the US government had the unforeseen consequences of increasing the average amount of fuel used and pollution produced by imported cars. Over the course of World War 2, oil companies built 9850 miles of pipeline in the USA for $127


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 139 million. The government built 3750 miles for $161.5 million. With great fanfare and wonderful speeches, the Humphrey-Hawkins "full employment" bill was enacted in 1978 (when the unemployment rate was 6.1%). It set a national goal of reducing unemployment to 4% by 1983. In 1983 the unemployment rate was 9.6%. In 1850, when Massachusetts became the first state to force children to go to school, the literacy rate in that state was 98%. Today, after nearly 150 years of compulsory government schooling, the literacy rate is 91% How well do delinquency treatment programs reduce recidivism? Overall, 45% of participants in such programs are rearrested, versus 50% of those left to their own devices. Programs that concentrate on teaching job skills and rewarding pro-social attitudes cut rearrest rates to about 35%. On the other hand, "Scared Straight" and "Boot Camp" programs actually tend to increase recidivism slightly. Some of the seemingly best ideas have led to worsening of the behavior of those subjected to those ideas. Locking kids up will not reduce crime and may eventually make the problem worse. One study tracked 10K males, born in Philadelphia in 1945, for 27 years; it found that just 6% of them committed 71% of the homicides, 73% of the rapes and 69% of the aggravated assaults attributed to the entire group. If one were to predict that every boy in the study who was arrested early would go on to commit violent crimes, one would be wrong more than 65% of the time. Those so misidentified are known as false positives. All delinquency prediction models consist of about 50% false positives. The argument that the functions of government law are the assignment of property rights and the protection of those rights is a dishonest argument. Government governs by means of mediating wealth transfers, imposing behavior controls, and protecting (and expanding) its institutions. But don't expect honesty from government: in June of 1984, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that prosecutors need not honor plea-bargain agreements. The Court maintained that as long as a plea-bargain agreement is "voluntarily accepted by a suspect" prosecutors are not bound to abide by it.

* Why Government Failure is Inevitable As the problems created by partial controls multiply, there is a logical extension of partial controls to universal controls and it is here that the full and disastrous price of abandoning free market principles is made explicit. In every session of all the legislatures of America, programs to solve the nation's debt, create jobs, and remedy social problems are launched with great fanfare and wonderful speeches. But then, when no one is looking, the politicians go back to their offices and the promises are forgotten. Although the scenarios that triggered the programs are frequently discredited, and the inadequacies of the programs frequently exposed, the bureaucracies that were created continue to exist and permanently retain all the power they accumulate. Many government institutions, intended to help people deal with emergencies, start on small budgets. As the years go by the bureaucrats who run these agencies want to rise in professional standing. They make connections with congressmen; they find reasons to appropriate more money; they hire more people. They rise, become more powerful, and the more these agencies grow the more they clamor for money and personnel. Meanwhile the budget deficit grows, the public complains, and the competition gets ugly. Now funding goes to those who scream the loudest in the halls of government. To get funding attention, they must have something scary to scream about, so they create an atmosphere of fear. Now that a "terrible doom" is just around the next corner, politicians (and scientists) sidestep caution and jump to science-by-press-release. Because those in favor of a government subsidy have much at stake, their lobbying efforts will be intensive and well financed. To the individual taxpayer, however, the impact will be at most a few dollars a year. Accordingly, opposition is usually quiet and dispersed. In concert with the lobbyist is the politician. Being human, he seeks a measure of personal importance, prestige and influence. Thus his interests are not served by minimizing the role of the state, but by maximizing it. He will have a natural inclination to insist that increased regulation is the appropriate remedy for any social problem. And so, year by year and decade by decade, the bureaucracy grows larger and larger, and the tax burden builds higher and higher. In such a context, totalitarians eventually gain the advantage, and it is merely a matter of time before freedom is extinguished. Even when the people become aware that the government is hideously bloated, they have little incentive to curtail it. On the one hand, people don't have the foggiest understanding of "spontaneous


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 140 order," i.e., that problems can be solved by unplanned processes that are not the result of any controlling authority's specific intentions or conscious designs. (The economic process by means of which everyone is provided with shoes is an example of such a "spontaneous order" phenomenon.) On the other hand, people don't understand that many of the social problems they face are the result of past government actions, and that the only real solution is an indirect one: to repeal earlier programs and let individuals take care of things themselves. The rise of statism (and its accompanying monetary inflation) has seen a general economic trend away from far-sightedness and the building of capital and toward destructive looting of the stock of capital for short-term profit. The increasing scope of law-making, and its associated transfers of property rights from private individuals to government, undermines the private property arrangements that support a free market system. This process creates considerable uncertainty about the future value of those private resources that have not yet been seized by government. When resource owners are uncertain about their continued ownership of those resources, they tend to use them up relatively rapidly and have less incentive to enhance future production capabilities. Thus resources will be overused and underproduced. Even for statist-minded businessmen, the inevitable erosion of confidence in the future that results from the government's continual policy reversals, irresolution in the face of electoral whims, and stifling bureaucracy, makes long-term business planning difficult, and sometimes even impossible. Ask yourself what products and services are currently least satisfactory and have shown the least improvement over time. Postal service, elementary and secondary schooling (one of the government's greatest failures is the public school system), police protection, sewage disposal, and railroad passenger transport would surely be high on the list. Ask yourself which products are most satisfactory and have improved the most. Household appliances, TV and radio sets, computers, supermarkets and shopping centers would surely come high on that list. The shoddy products are all produced by government or government-regulated industries. The outstanding products are all produced by private enterprise with much less government involvement. Yet the public has been persuaded that private enterprise produces shoddy products, that we need ever more government control to keep business from foisting off unsafe products at outrageous prices on us poor ignorant and vulnerable consumers. Regulation of economic activity is often justified and upheld by the courts on the fictitious grounds that a laissez-faire economy inevitably leads to "excesses" and "abuses," necessitating regulation which amounts to prior restraint upon private freedom of action. What the government refers to as "Fair Trade" consists largely of the government devising new ways to protect consumers against the scourge of low prices and high quality. One of the unintended consequences of tyranny is that it forcibly stultifies creative endeavor. The object of a tyrant is to control everything in his domain. He cannot control something which he does not understand, therefore all things which he does not understand must be forbidden. (Unless they are rigidly controlled for the purpose of the tyrant--such as the Manhattan Project.) As was very clearly explained to me one day by a local sheriff, he has not only the legal authority, but a legal mandate to interdict anything that HE considers to be unusual behavior. There I was, faced by an armed thug with an IQ of probably about 90 (maybe 95 on a good day), demanding that I give him an account, comprehensible to HIM, of my behavior. My behavior is generated by the choices and decisions of a mind whose IQ is 70 points higher than his, and yet that behavior must, by authority of law and force of arms, be subsumed within HIS cretinous intellectual frame of reference. The "unintended consequence" of this situation, and of tyranny in general, is that genius is constrained to function within the limited scope of mediocrity. The more intense the tyranny, the more impoverished the society must eventually become, because it is restricted to that which lies within the frame-of-reference of the tyrant. How many creative minds does your government turn off, directly or indirectly--intentionally or unintentionally? Freedom MUST be preserved! Not for the multitude who do not want it, but for the few who must have it in order to exercise their creativity. •

Government Murders During the 20th Century. In Millions (thru 1985)

•

War Non-war Total

35.7 (battle deaths: WW1 9 WW2 15) 150.5 186.2 = 5% of earth's population during that period. This averages out to be one murder every 15 seconds.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 141 Communist governments: Fascist governments: Democratic governments:

126.2

23.4

0.9

This distinction among government types, although certainly useful for deciding where you should choose to live, is seen to be somewhat spurious when you consider that the Italian massacre of the Libyans must be attributed to Fascism--but the French massacre of the Algerians must be attributed to Democracy. I really doubt that it made any difference to the dead Arabs who considered themselves neither Libyan nor Algerian, fascist nor democratic. Communists don't scare me; communist governments scare me, but the frightful thing is the government, not the communist. The Hutterite sect of Christianity, whose economic beliefs consist of pure and absolute communism, has existed for over 400 years, and during that time there has never been a murder by one of its members. Keep in mind that this little expose of government murders includes only those people who were directly murdered by governments. It does not take into account the tens of millions who died in the deliberately-caused famines in the Soviet Union (8 million during the 1920s) and China (30 million during the 1950s). Nor does it count those poor unfortunates repatriated by the Allied governments in Operation Keelhaul. Nor does it encompass all the damage and suffering caused by enslavement, property seizure and income theft that are perpetrated on a regular basis by ALL governments. Every minute 30 children die of hunger and disease. But during that same minute government spends the equivalent of 1.7 million dollars on war--war that is more and more directed against civilians: During WW1 civilians represented only 15% of all fatalities. By the end of WW2 the percentage had risen to 65%, including Holocaust casualties. In today's (1995) hostilities, more than 90% of all of those injured in war are civilians. As Ayn Rand was fond of saying, the enormous population growth of the capitalist societies during the 19th century should of itself induce any life-loving person to embrace capitalism. Well, the perpetration of this enormous amount of death should of itself induce any life-loving person to reject government. You have been told all your life that the police serve the people, that they are the guardians of civilization. During a recent one-year period (1986), these were the rates of murders committed by police in various American cities. The government does not call these "murders," however. They are killings by the police, in the line of duty, of innocent civilians who are not suspected of any crime. No prosecutions ensue from these incidents. Dallas Los Angeles Denver Houston NYC

.924 per 100K of the population (9) .743 (22) .700 (4) .462 (8) .185 (14)

The numbers in ( ) are the actual number of people murdered that year. Dallas and LA have the two highest rates of all cities in the country. I do not know how the other listed cities rank, and these are the only data I have. (The FBI does not keep track of these numbers.) The census bureau classifies the USA urban population as being 167M, or 74% of the total. Urban is considered to be communities of 50K or more. I assume that most of the murders occur in urban areas and so I use the 167M as a population base for these two extrapolations: 1. Using the lowest murder rate available (.185) there would be just over 300 murders per year nationwide. 2. Using the average of all the murder rates (.603) there would be just over 1000 murders per year nationwide. It is probably safe to assume that at least one citizen is being murdered by the police every day somewhere in the country. Contrast this with the rate at which police are being murdered: just over 100 per year. These statistics ARE kept by the FBI--and widely publicized. In fact there is a national day of mourning observed for murdered police--it is in May each year. You might ask "Who are these poor people?" (Keep in mind that police do not accidentally kill people; when a policeman takes out his gun and shoots it, he is TRYING to kill somebody. When a civilian


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 142 performs the same action, it IS considered by the government to be an act of murder.) They range from a 5-year-old boy in Stanton CA to a 70-year-old woman in Dallas. They include an entire family of 11 people (including 4 children) who were DELIBERATELY burned to death in Philadelphia by the city police department, who held off the fire department until the fire had done its grisly work. This happened in May of 1985. After a two-year investigation, the city government announced that "no laws had been broken" by anyone involved. And mayor Goode boasted (yes, it was actually a boast!) that "the city government is more powerful now than it was then." If deliberately (and legally) burning children to death does not convince you of the viciousness of government, what would? During the decade of the 1960s the Philadelphia city police murdered its citizens at the average rate of one per week (2.5 per 100K on an annual basis). This caused such a scandal that it provoked an investigation by the Federal Justice Department and the city cleaned up its act a little bit even though there were no indictments. If you are a decent and benevolent person, you ought to believe in something different from what has killed so many people, and espouse an ethics that human beings could actually live by, and work for it to become real.

* The War On Drugs In view of the furor over "crime" in America, it is rather enlightening to peruse some of the actual measurements of this "crime." These data come from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1992 edition, pages 180 thru 195. They clearly show the results of the Republican (Reagan/Bush) regime's emphasis on fighting the drug war. Total number of criminal offenses known to the police: 1980 13.4million

1990 14.4million

a rise of 7%

Drug arrest rates (per 100K population) 1980 256 1985 346 1989 527 a rise of 106% Tried in U.S. District Courts: Marijuana 1980 2thousand 1990 5thousand a rise of 150% Other drugs 1980 3thousand 1990 13thousand a rise of 333% Sentenced to prison in U.S. District Courts: 1980 Total 14thousand Drugs 4thousand 1990 Total 28thousand Drugs 14thousand a rise of 100% a rise of 250% Observe that half the sentences nowadays are for drug crimes and that the number of drug sentences today equals the total number of sentences for ALL crimes in 1980. For every 1000 non-drug arrests made by the police, three criminals get sentenced to prison. For every 1000 drug arrests, 16 are sent to prison. An examination of the breakdown of the "Total number of criminal offenses" reveals that many categories of non-government violent crime changed little during the 1980s. In fact, the increase in the total population of America has resulted in a per capita DECLINE in several of these rates: Total of offenses known: -2.2% Murder: -7.8% Total property crime: -4.9% Burglary: -26.6% An analysis of these numbers reveals clearly that there is indeed a "crime wave" sweeping America. But it is not murderers and burglars who are responsible--it is people puffing the wrong kind of cigarettes who are overloading the nation's prisons. The FedGov's response--putting more police onto the streets


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 143 and pouring more money into the coffers of local law-enforcement agencies--is counterproductive: it can only exacerbate the situation because it will lead to a more vigorous and thorough enforcement of the Drug Laws. Some measures of the insanity of the Drug War: The morphine required for a $100 fix from a dirty needle in a back alley could be purchased from a local drugstore for just $1, if not for the anti-drug laws. In 1973, John Hospers calculated that two-thirds of the violent crime in New York City would simply and quietly disappear overnight if all the drug laws were repealed, since that is the proportion of the crime that is caused by addicts who need the money for a fix. Half the prisoners in the Texas state prison system are there for violation of drug laws, NOT for violent crimes! How peculiar that the government does not blame the obesity of fat persons on the merchants who sell them food, but it does blame the drug habits of addicts on the merchants who sell them drugs. You might think that sooner or later the government would realize the insane idiocy of its policy on drugs. But keep this in mind: although Prohibition lasted only 14 years, the Drug War has continued for over two generations with no sign of abating. Remember also that the Nazis did not abandon their persecution of the Jews, even when the manpower involved was critically needed to defend the gates of Berlin itself. Thus there is no reason to surmise the government will cease its insanity short of out-andout social collapse. I see another rationale for the government not only to continue this insanity, but to amplify it: An American's enthusiasm for law and order is directly proportional to the degree to which he believes his personal safety and livelihood are threatened. When the perceived threat grows, so does his willingness to be policed. If the average American can be led to believe, through the government's stridently minatory propaganda about drug use, that these "rabidly crazed" marijuana puffers (remember the movie, Reefer Madness?) pose a horrifying threat, then an increasingly alarmed public will demand that every federal, state, and local police resource be augmented to combat the "narco-terrorists." This is good news for police budgets nationwide. (On the other hand, reclassifying marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor reduced the felony caseload of the Los Angeles police department by 25%--a genuine threat to the department's budget.) The bulk price "at the source" for such high-profit drugs as cocaine and heroin is roughly equal to the price of premium pastry flour. It would only take a small fraction of what is spent on interdiction to simply buy all of the available supply at the source. But actually eliminating the prohibited drugs would also have the utterly unacceptable adverse side effect of eliminating the need for drug prohibitionists. Nor do I see hope in attempts to elicit public discussion of the issue. Discussion is futile when directed not toward general principles but merely toward the specific phenomena which are consequences of those principles. This precept becomes eminently clear during debates about legalizing drugs. They invariably degenerate from a very brief and superficial mention of the underlying principles into lengthy disputes over the specific means that would be used for distributing the drugs if they were to be legalized. But these disputes always assume the existence of a Controlling Authority that would have jurisdiction over drugs. A disagreement that does not challenge fundamentals serves only to reinforce them. If, for the question: "Do you want slavery?" your opponents manage to substitute the question: "What kind of slavery do you want?" then they can afford to let you argue indefinitely; they have already won their point. Thus do the proponents of statism set the terms of the debate by swindling the advocates of Freedom into an implicit acceptance of the statist premise. If you allow them to get away with this, they will eventually end up setting the terms for everyone's life. But that is the ultimate goal of the State: to set the terms for everyone's life. There are other, less widely-known, aspects of the government's drug laws that have severely detrimental effects on American society: The FDA doesn't want anybody to be killed by medicines (that would look bad for the FDA's record) but they don't care how many people die of diseases resulting from the government's prevention of the development and sale of medicines. Put yourself in the position of an FDA official charged with approving or disapproving a new drug. You can make two very different mistakes: 1. Approve a drug that turns out to be dangerous. 2. Refuse approval of a drug that would have been beneficial.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 144 If you make the first mistake you will become infamous. If you make the second mistake, nobody will ever know it. Thus, with the best will in the world, you will inevitably tend to delay or reject any and every new drug. You will compel the drug companies to Shrug. As many as 95% of cancer patients can get pain relief if properly medicated. Tragically, many continue to suffer needlessly. A 1993 study found that 85% of the physicians who treat cancer patients provided inadequate relief for the majority of those in pain. What accounts for the astonishing gap between the degree of relief that is possible and the suffering that still persists in reality? Sadly, the effort to improve the management of pain has been enormously restricted by the war on drugs. Years of anti-drug campaigns have left both the public and health care professionals with greatly exaggerated fears about the risks of opioids, which are still the most effective known painkillers. Many studies have shown that the medical use of analgesic drugs is safe and does not cause psychological addiction in those who had not previously shown such a tendency. Even when patients can administer the drug themselves with bedside pumps they rarely deliver more than they need to suppress their pain. Those who receive opioids may become physically dependent--that is, the drug must be withdrawn slowly to prevent the physical effects of withdrawal--but this condition is very different from true addiction, which is characterized by constant craving and compulsive drug-seeking behavior. The psychiatric profession is also deeply affected: To therapists, the addict needs help to solve a problem, the problem being that he uses a drug of which they disapprove. But to the addict, the only problem is how to get the drugs he wants. He doesn't see himself as "sick," and he doesn't want "treatment." Authorities who are intervening to control his behavior react as tyrants always do--whether they be central planners trying to make their citizens conform to some national plan, or foreign policy planners trying to control people in other countries--by getting angry with the people who don't appreciate the intervention of "experts" into their lives. The victimizers, in short, blame the victims. They demand the right to enforce their ideas at the point of a gun, that is: through the power of government. And this IS a problem. The principle role of medical, and especially psychiatric, professionals in the administration and enforcment of chemical statism is to act as double agents--helping politicians to impose their will on the people by defining self-medication as a disease, and helping the people to bear their privations by supplying them with drugs. This is a major national tragedy whose very existence has so far remained unrecognized, and whose consequences may be devastating. (See Chapter 11 - Dictatorship American Style.) See reference) Consider that the tranquilizer Valium is the most widely-prescribed drug in the USA. Its sale is a multibillion dollar business. Suppose something happened that resulted in the cessation of its distribution (and also that of other similar drugs). What would be the effect on all those stressed people whose mental stability depends on such drugs? Kurt Saxon maintains that this might well be the most devastating result of a collapse of our economy. All those neurotics might go crazy and destroy everything in their environment. By and large, it is laws which create much of social context. The Prohibition laws created the "Alcohol War" context, and today's Drug laws create today's "Heroin War" context. But these unjust laws are also creating a deeply divided and corrupt society, where the appearance of orthodoxy is everything, and intelligence, humanity and common sense count for almost nothing. If a man long afflicted by a toxic chemical suffers sudden convulsions and then dies from them, one might validly say that the convulsions were the immediate cause of the death, so long as one remembers the ultimate cause. The same is true of a country addicted to a toxic ideology. Throughout history, rulers have picked on various scapegoats to divert attention from the results of their policies, including Jews, Christians, and eccentrics of various types. Today the scapegoats are drug users. If drugs were really so terrible why were they completely legal between 1776 and 1914--without serious social problems? It is not the drug that is the problem, but the ideology of government. Governments cause pain, misery and suffering by passing laws, and then point to that same pain, misery and suffering (which were caused by the laws) as the reason the laws are necessary--and even why the laws should be more strongly enforced! Nowhere is this spurious chain of "cause and effect" more devastatingly manifest than in the War on Drugs. The real cause of immigration and drug-war horror stories is the enforcement of anti-immigration and anti-drug laws, not the people placed in dangerous and degrading circumstances by those laws. When was the last time you read about armed


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 145 thugs doing battle over the distribution of whiskey? Not since the repeal of the anti-alcohol laws.

Chapter 8 BEYOND GOVERNMENT * Limited Government * Jury * Government is a Mistake * Anarchism * A Covenant for a Union of Sovereign Americans

* Limited Government Would it be possible to place universal restrictions on a government so as to make it truly limited? In view of the fundamental characteristics of government (especially its requirement for exclusivity of power), effective limitations are clearly impossible. A "limited government" would not, in fact, BE a government, but would instead be similar to a private police force. For a constitution to provide for genuine protection against government oppression, that constitution would have to contain penalties for its own violation--provisions that would make it a criminal offense for any member of government to violate the constitution--and also provisions that would punish the government for making any laws that violate the rights of the citizens (e.g., victimless-crime laws) or for in any way exceeding the authority granted to it by the constitution. Unfortunately, the Founding Fathers did not include in our Constitution a provision that would have made it a criminal offense for the government to interfere with the lawful behavior of a free citizen. That would have made a tremendous difference in the form of our society. Libertarians argue that the only proper functions of government are to provide Police, Courts and Military. Admittedly, these are indeed necessary social functions, but there is another function equally, if not more, important to a civilized society. This function is the protection of individual citizens against government oppression. To accomplish this there would have to be an independent procedure for judging government behavior and for adjudicating disputes between citizens and government--something other than the presently-existing court procedures. This is a function that CANNOT be performed by government! After all, the courts are themselves a part of the government, and when a citizen is mistreated by the government he has no redress except to take his case to the very government which mistreated him. But as John Locke observed, "Any man so unjust as to do his neighbor an injury will scarce be so just as to condemn himself for it." The "balance of power" in our Constitution sets each branch of government to be a check against each of the other branches of government. What this "balance of power" does NOT do is provide an effective check on the power the whole government has over the freedom of the individual citizens. In the final scene of ATLAS SHRUGGED, Rand makes this proposal for an amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade." An extension of this might provide a more sweeping limitation: "Government shall have no authority whatsoever over the freedom of production, transportation, communication, and trade." Another broad restriction could be patterned on the Ninth Amendment, thusly: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain activities which are forbidden to government, shall not be construed to permit the government any activity not specifically designated by the Constitution. Government shall have ONLY the authority which this Constitution specifically grants to it. Any attempt to exceed this specified authority shall constitute criminal behavior." Here are two other suggestions that might have beneficial effect:


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 146 Government shall pass no law that has not arisen directly from the populace via a ballot-initiative process. It is forbidden for government to possess information about any specifiable individual person who is not a convicted criminal or a government employee.

* Jury I see the jury as a potential government-limiting institution. The jury should be set up as an entity as separate from government as possible, and designed to act as an independent judge of government. (In fact, as I will discuss below, I would like to see the jury established as the fundamental institution of governance.) The principle of Jury Nullification should be incorporated into the function of the jury, and that principle should be extended to include these features: Any conflict between an individual and the government, or any charge of misconduct against the government, shall be resolved by a jury. Juries shall be selected by lottery (and ONLY by lot) from a panel of volunteers, none of whom shall be a member of government, a registered voter, or a lawyer. Although the government (in the person of the Judge or the Prosecutor) shall be permitted to advise the jury, the jury shall in no way be obliged to follow that advice. (I believe it would be a good idea also to abolish most of the functions of a judge, a position which has grown to be more that of a dictator than a mediator. Perhaps the function of Jury Foreman should be extended to encompass any necessary judgeship functions. Such an arrangement appears to work quite well in the operation of the Supreme Court, which might itself be considered a 9-member jury.) Nullification of a law shall repeal the law--permanently. Nullification shall also immediately and permanently remove from office all those legislators who sponsored the law, render ineligible for reelection all those legislators who voted for the law, and subject to criminal prosecution all armed members of government who implemented the law. To enforce these provisions the jury shall appoint a Marshal and he shall select a posse from a panel of armed volunteers. This group shall carry out the verdict of the jury, and the posse shall be dissolved immediately afterwards. But these suggestions are merely futile ideas for gaining some control over the berserk institution of government. I would go much farther than this and abolish government completely. Why do we need all the laws that the congresses have laid upon us during the past 200 years? Why, exactly, do we need an institution that continually creates laws? Why should we live under an institution which is so tyrannous in its nature that we need protection against it? Suppose we had no legislatures, no congresses, no senates, no councils--in short, no gangs of goons continually passing laws supposedly "for the good of the people" but actually for the augmentation of government authority. Suppose we had a society founded on a rational ethical principle: the non-aggression principle. What we would need then would be guidelines for the application of that principle in our everyday lives, and an institutional means of deciding when the principle had been violated. This would be the function of the jury. I propose that the implementation of the fundamental ethical principle should arise spontaneously from the people themselves in the form of jury verdicts. If each jury verdict were to include the principled rationale for that verdict, then the collected verdicts of all the juries could constitute the "body of law" of the community and provide guidelines for applying the basic principle, just as today we consult Supreme Court cases for legal guidance, and refer to the Common Law, which is made up of legal precepts enunciated by judges in particular cases. But notice that there would be nothing binding in this corpus. Each individual jury would decide each individual case solely according to its interpretation of the principle, thus accomodating technological and social changes that inevitably occur in a culture. Through such an extension of the function of the jury, we would truly have a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

* Government is a Mistake Should limited government be the libertarian goal? I think not! ANY government, no matter how it is constructed, is by its fundamental nature an evil institution--because the essence of the concept "government" is coercion. I believe the very idea "government" is a mistake. In the same category (but


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 147 with much more devastating consequences) as "flat earth" and the "geocentric cosmology." There was once a time when men believed the earth to be flat. As long as they held to this belief, they could not successfully navigate over long distances. Only when they had abandoned this belief could they advance and extend civilization over all the planet. There was also once a time when men believed the earth to be the center of the universe. As long as they held to this belief, they were restricted to a very limited and inaccurate view of reality. Only when they had abandoned this belief could they acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the cosmos. Today, men believe that civilization is impossible without government, and they give their highest loyalty to their nation state. This mistaken belief has spread misery, famine, and the wholesale destruction of war all over the earth. Someday in the future, when people stop lying to themselves about the nature of government, they will achieve the greatness of soul to see a higher loyalty: objective reality. They will then recognize the mistake, and government will be abandoned just as other mistakes have been abandoned. The scourge of nationalism will recede into history, like other diseases and errors that have been conquered by advancing knowledge. Only then will it be possible for men to live together in peace and security. But the mere removal of government, although a necessary prerequisite for the existence of social sanity, will not suffice to bring it about. The absence of a negative doesn't equal the presence of a positive. We can see evidence of this in Yugoslavia and the regions of ethnic strife in the former Soviet Union, where the removal of the central government has NOT resulted in the presence of peace and security. The world has had freedom only by default, never by design. If there is to be any hope for civilization in the future, a rational social structure must be deliberately designed.

* Anarchism The structures of the social institutions, the institutional contexts in which individuals interact, evolve. I want to present what I believe will be the next step in this process of evolution by suggesting an alternative to government, an alternative which would in fact perform the valuable social function that government merely claims to perform. I will present the fundamental principle which is accepted by all libertarians, show that even in a purely anarchic society there would be a need for an explicitly stated code of social behavior, and present an approach to the problems of formulating such a code. Arguments against competing governments: James A. Kuffel: Jurisprudence is difficult and complex, and it is farfetched to assume "competing governments" would deduce exactly the same "laws" in all areas, not to say in one. Imagine the consequences of various "governments" attempting to apply different "laws" within the same territory....Equality before THE law would be impossible, that is, justice would be impossible. Government may function improperly, taking invasive action on a large scale. But, as a corollary, it is the only form of organized force which can ensure the protection of rights on a large scale. [Kuffel is attacking an existing situation. It is not only "farfetched" to assume different governments would promulgate the same laws, it is obviously false--as you can easily see by observing the governments throughout the world today. One need not "imagine" the consequences of various governments' attempts to apply different laws--one need only observe the plethora of civil wars continually being waged. To equate Justice with "equality before the law" is absurd. Justice and Law have only accidentally (and rarely) been related. Government not only "may" function improperly--it always does! And in fact it has NEVER ensured the protection of rights on a large scale. But in any case, the argument Kuffel attributes to anarchists is NOT what anarchists propose! We conceive proper laws as being enunciations of principles of justice, not as being--as Kuffel implies--the arbitrary pronouncements of a government.] Don Ernsberger: While driving home from work one day, my wife was sideswiped by a motorist who was in a hurry to return home. After taking her car to the garage for an estimate, she notified the insurance company (Nationwide) that it would cost some $112 to repair the minor damages. It was then that we realized to our horror that the other driver was insured by Allstate insurance--a rival firm. Demanding that our rights be protected, we pleaded for action. Nationwide dispatched a squadron of crack troops to the home of the guilty driver. He, true to form, certainly did not permit rival agents to enter his home, as he distrusted Nationwide. He was able to hold the Nationwide units at bay for the several hours that it took for Allstate


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 148 troops to arrive. Now the two rival firms faced each other across a battleline. In the conflict which followed, seven were killed and twelve wounded--but Nationwide carried the day. Out of the charred ruins of his home the $112 was recovered and we were repayed. [When did you ever hear of Pinkerton facing off in a gun-battle with Wackenhut? But in 1861 two rival GOVERNMENTS faced each other across a battleline, and the result was half a million deaths.] Ron Heiner: Each party may attempt to secure the services of whatever court would favor his point of view and, consequently, there would be the emergence of courts seeking clients some of whom hold different, antagonistic beliefs and viewpoints (there might even emerge courts soliciting individuals with certain religious, political, and moral views along with courts emphasizing different principles in tort, liability, and contract disputes). The conflicting parties could also look for protection agencies which would enforce their views and opinions. Now if one argues that the protection agencies would force the disputants to abide by the agreements with and the decisions of the private courts, then one is no longer describing a system of voluntary interaction but rather a system of coercive interaction comprised of agencies with the power to defy the wishes of their clients (or coerce individuals who are not clients who have for some reason antagonized other individuals who hired these agencies). [This is an excellent description of the interrelationships of federal, state and local courts, each with its own sheriffs and marshals, and we saw it implemented in practice during the State vs. Federal civil rights strife of the 1960s.] John Hospers: As for the courts, it seems to me that they would be inclined to render the most popular verdicts--that is, those that would gain the arbitration agency the most paid members--and the most popular decisions aren't necessarily the most just ones. [As for the elected judges, it seems to me that they would be inclined to render the most popular verdicts--that is, those that would gain the judge the most votes--and the most popular decisions aren't necessarily the most just ones. (See the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" for an excellent fictional portrayal of this phenomenon.)] Arguments against competing defense agencies overlook the fact that there is a de facto state of competing governments presently existing in the USA. Every area of the country suffers under the burden of at least three governments, and in some places four: Federal, State, County, and City. It was the competition between the state and federal governments that resulted in the Civil War. But has there ever been an instance of Pinkerton, Wells Fargo, and Wackenhut engaging in armed conflict with each other? Life under a government is a continual legal civil war, where men gang up on one another and struggle for possession of the law, which they use as a club over rivals until another gang wrests it from their clutches and clubs them with it in their turn. All of them continually clamoring protestations of service to an unnamed public's unspecified good. Arguments against competing defense agencies also overlook the fact that the "useful functions" of government not only can be, but presently ARE being performed by private agencies. Suppose you seek the expertise of a security firm to protect your home. You discuss the matter with 3 firms, Burns, Pinkerton, and Wells-Fargo, all offering a different range of services and prices. You decide to hire Burns, because you like what they offer. Is this not competition in the value of protective force? Is this not defensive force subject to open-market buying and selling? Is it not true that force, in this sense an economic good, is one in which millions of "trades" are made daily? Security firms (free-market firms trading in the "administration of law" for profit) are not fictional constructs from the anarcho-capitalist's dream for the future. They are operating now, alive and well. The Cato Institute proposes laws, or their abolition. The operators of The Club deal in deterrence. Holmes Protection provides guards. The Mutual Detective Agency investigates crimes. Private bounty hunters apprehend fugitives. The American Arbitration Association offers adjudication. (Since the 1970s, the AAA has handled more disputes each year than has the American civil court system--and cheaper too: Arbitration costs only one-fifth the price of litigation.) Corrections Corporation of America makes a profit from incarcerating criminals. In short, every aspect of socially-necessary functions traditionally considered to be exclusively reserved to governments is now being performed privately. There are two kinds of force: Offensive and Defensive. Anarchists wish to place only the second of these on the market--and to do so in ways that will attempt to abolish the first. Statists, on the other hand,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 149 wish to institutionalize the first, and make the second illegal. An anarchic society is not a Utopia in which the inititation of violence is impossible. Rather, it is a society which does not institutionalize the initiation of force and in which there are means for dealing with aggression justly when it does occur. The absence of government does not mean the absence of violence. It simply means the absence of an official, legal, institutionalized tool for its imposition. The basic thing that all utopian theories have in common is that they can succeed only if they involve utopian people. Anarchism does not make this unrealistic assumption about human nature. Anarchism is not a form of statism. Anarchists don't want to impose their values on anyone else, only to protect those values against coercion. Anarchism is not terrorism. The agent of the government--the cop who wears a gun to coerce you into obeying him--is the terrorist. Governments threaten to punish anyone who defies State power, and therefore it is the State that really amounts to an institution of terror. It is an oft-overlooked point that a non-government justice system should be judged not by whether it can deliver perfection (which no system can) but by whether it can do better than the available alternative. Here is what anarchists believe: Government, which is a form of order arbitrarily imposed on society and maintained through armed force, is an unnecessary evil. All governments continually enlarge upon and extend their powers; under government, the rights of individuals continually diminish. Whenever government is established, it causes more harm than it forestalls. Under the guise of protecting people from crime and violence, governments not only do not eradicate random, individual crime, but they institutionalize such varieties of crime as censorship, taxation and war. All governments survive on theft and extortion (called taxation) and all governments force their decrees on the people and command obedience under threat of punishment. Appeals to a government for a redress of grievances, even when acted upon, only increase the supposed legitimacy of the government's behavior, and add therefore to its amassed power. No true reform is possible that leaves government intact. The principle of government, which is force, is opposed to the free exercise of our ability to think, act and cooperate. The major outrages of history have been committed by governments, while every advancement of thought, every betterment in the human condition, has come about through the practices of individual initiative and voluntary cooperation. Free people, when accustomed to taking responsibility for their own behavior, almost always cooperate on a basis of mutual trust and helpfulness. People are capable of voluntarily organizing themselves, and the ensuing order resulting from the voluntary interaction of individuals can meet any and all social needs without any necessity for coercion. Every person has the right to make all decisions about his or her own life. All moralistic interference in the private affairs of freely-acting persons is unjustified. We are not bound by constitutions or agreements made by our ancestors. Any constitution, contract, or agreement that purports to bind unborn generations--or in fact anyone other than the actual parties to it-is a despicable falsehood and a presumptuous fraud. We are free agents liable only for such obligations as we ourselves voluntarily undertake. There are two kinds of anarchist: principled and non-principled. The critics almost always argue only against the non-principled variety. They seem unable to perceive the principled kind. The principled anarchist bases his political beliefs on underlying ethical principles. The non-principled anarchist is merely somebody who hates government, not on the basis of ethical principle, but usually as a result of his experience of its inevitable tyranny. The problem with non-principled anarchy (or any other nonprincipled belief) is that he who holds it can frequently be swindled into accepting a disguised form of what he opposes, because he does not have a principled standard of judgment by which to evaluate what is being presented to him. The account of human history is almost invariably governmental, leaving little to suggest that a viable anarchist society is possible. But the fact that an anarchist society has never existed does not mean that one cannot exist or should not exist. What we have today that enables the existence of an anarchist society, for the first time in history, is the Objectivist Ethics. Using this new tool, we can accomplish


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 150 things that have never been done before. "We now have the scientific tools to illuminate our true natures and to help us navigate the treacherous shoals of surviving the transition from a state society to whatever comes next." ... Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic Magazine Whether a totally free society is ever possible is an academic question at this time; taking the first step toward it is not.

* A Covenant for a Union of Sovereign Americans From CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE by H. D. Thoreau: "I heartily accept the motto,--'That government is best which governs least;' and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe,--'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." An animal is an animal by nature. It has no choice in the matter. But a human being must, by nature, CHOOSE to be human. The necessity of choice arises from the structure of his cognitive apparatus. A part of this choice is, as an individual, to choose to think--and, as a member of a society, to choose to live by the non-aggression principle. Unless you choose to think, you do not realize your full human potential as an individual. Unless you accept the libertarian non-aggression precept, you do not realize your full human potential as a member of a society. We are social beings who can realize our humanity fully only in the context of community. But the culture of a community can inspire the best in human beings or the worst. The cultural institutions can value--or denigrate--freedom, and thus either promote or retard each member's capability to realize his humanity. The Objectivist stand is quite clear: "The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may INITIATE the use of physical force against others. No man--or group or society or government--has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man." (From "The Objectivist Ethics," in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS.) It is the initiation of force that distinguishes criminal from non-criminal behavior, and it is the acceptance or rejection of the non-aggression principle that distinguishes a libertarian from a statist; a civilized human being from a savage. All civilized people, whether they are of the Anarchist persuasion or of the Minarchist view of social organization, hold to the same basic ethical principle--the libertarian ethic of non-aggression: John Hospers: "Libertarianism...is a philosophy of personal liberty--the liberty of each person to live according to his own choices, provided that he does not attempt to coerce others and thus prevent them from living according to their choices." Ayn Rand: "Both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists for the sake of the other and that reason is their only means of trade." Robert LeFevre: "I will contend that each individual may rightfully do as he pleases with his own person and his own property without asking permission from anyone, and so long as he confines his actions to his own person or property he cannot be morally challenged. What may he do morally with the person or property belonging to another? Absolutely nothing." David Boaz: "Libertarians believe the role of government is not to impose a particular morality but to establish a framework of rules that will guarantee each individual the freedom to pursue his own good in his own way, so long as he does not infringe the freedom of others." Karl Hess: "Libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit; that all man's social actions should be voluntary; and that respect for every other man's similar and equal ownership of life, and by extension, the property and fruits of that life, is the ethical basis of a humane and open society." Many Anarchists believe that no explicitly codified statement of the libertarian principle is necessary, and that no formal system of social organization is desirable to ensure its implementation. The Minarchists believe that an explicit statement is very much necessary (in the form of a constitution) and that society would be impossible without the existence of a formally-structured social organization possessed of the monopolistic power and authority to enforce the terms of this constitution. I disagree somewhat with both positions.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 151 I believe that an explicit and formally accepted statement of the basic ethical principle is very much necessary. There is a standard of conduct that must be observed if man is to flourish in a social context. In order that the members of a society adhere to this standard, there must exist an explicit and formally accepted statement of its underlying ethical principle. Anarchists err in considering rights, justice, and other ethical concepts to be market phenomena. They are NOT market phenomena, although their implementations can, and should be, market procedures. The ethical concepts denote facts of reality and therefore cannot be arbitrarily decreed but must be carefully and accurately identified. Robert Bidinotto pointed out precisely the mistake underlying the common anarchist position: "anarchists sincerely believe that they are merely advocating competition in the PROTECTION of rights. In fact, what their position would necessitate is competition in DEFINING what rights ARE." Unfortunately, Bidinotto's colleagues, who accept his argument, and thus reject the idea of rights as defined by the marketplace, simply turn the coin over and embrace the equally-mistaken idea of rights as defined by government. I propose the alternative of rights as defined in principle-according to reason. My thesis is that rights are derived from examination of reality. The opposite thesis is that they are derived from consciousness. Whether that consciousness is the individual judgment of a tyrant or a collective judgment expressed either through casting ballots or spending dollars is irrelevant. Both the statist thesis and the competing-governments thesis are based on the same premise: that rights are created by society. In the first case by the government, and in the second by the market. Both these theories of rights are manifestations of what Rand identified as the social school of ethics: "The clash between the two dominant schools of ethics, the mystical and the social, is only a clash between personal subjectivism and social subjectivism: one substitutes the supernatural for the objective, the other substitutes the collective for the objective. Both are savagely united against the introduction of objectivity into the realm of ethics." (Objectivist Newsletter Feb65) Rights are like the elements in the Periodic Table. The structure of that Table results from acts of scrupulous cognitive endeavor. It does not result from a multiplicity of acts of economic intercourse, nor from the decrees of a governing congress, no matter how many people it may claim to represent. See Chapter 5 for a further discussion of rights. I am swayed also by Rand's contention that an explicitly held conceptualization is infinitely more reliable, useful, and enduring than one that is held in a merely implicit manner. Implicit knowledge is not a substitute for explicit knowledge. Values which you cannot identify, but merely sense implicitly, are not in your control. You cannot tell what they depend on or require, or what course of action is needed to gain and/or keep them. You can lose them by means of other implications, without knowing what it is that you are losing or why. And you cannot effectively teach them to your children! Although a culture results from the actions of individuals, it has its own reality as an intellectual context within which individuals make choices. Every culture contains a network of values, beliefs, and assumptions, not all of which are named explicitly but which nonetheless are part of each individual's environment. Ideas that are not identified overtly but are held and conveyed implicitly are difficult to question--precisely because they are absorbed by a process that largely bypasses the conscious mind. Most people possess what might be called a cultural subconscious--a set of implicit beliefs about reality, human beings, good and evil--that reflects the knowledge, understanding, and values prevalent in a historical time and place. Unless these implicit beliefs are brought to the forefront of the mind and explicitly identified, they can be extremely difficult to change, and they cannot be codified. Other theorists also realize the need for a formal statement of principles: Rose Wilder Lane: "I think there is a natural necessity for a civil law, a code, explicitly stated, written and known; an impersonal thing, existing outside all men, as a point of reference to which any man can refer and appeal. Not any form of control, for each individual controls himself; but a law, acting as a nonhuman third party in relationships between living persons; an impersonal witness to contracts, a registrar of promises and deeds of ownership and transfers of ownership of property; a not-living standard existing in visible form, by which man's acts can be judged and to which men's minds can cling." Ayn Rand: "Even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government."


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 152 Robert James Bidinotto: "In any society, human life and well-being mandate that there be a set of objective procedures to distinguish aggression from self-defense, and some way of imposing the final verdicts upon the victimizers on behalf of the victims." Joel Myklebust: "'The market will handle it' amounts to little more than a disguised form of majority rule. That the identification of justice is not a market function seems clear from the fact that, given a demand, the market will supply murder, theft, and arson, in addition to protection. It will not determine right and wrong, it only reacts to supply and demand. Any attempt to deal with complex problems of right without recourse to basic ethical principles is hopeless." Murray Rothbard: "In my view, the entire libertarian system includes: not only the abolition of the State, BUT ALSO the general adoption of a libertarian law code." John Hospers: "They (private protection agencies) should be able to enforce only THE LAW OF THE LAND...--a body of law already enacted, and known in advance, so that one would forsee the consequences of any violation. In other words, laws should...be ENACTED by the state, even though the ENFORCEMENT of them might be left to private agencies." Brick Pillow: "I agree with you that people should solve their own problems....But at some point, if there isn't a peaceful procedure to settle the dispute, it will be settled without being peaceful, and quite possibly the violent solution will not be a just solution. What I envision is that...when the antagonist refuses to yield, decent folks will need an authority that they can turn to....Of course, this presents the next level of perplexing problem: What prevents our pristine Justice League of America from exceeding its mandate, from becoming as evil as the government it replaces?" Nicholas Raeder: "It makes no difference whether the consumers desire automobiles, frozen foods, heroin, murder or censorship; if allowed to do so, the market will provide them. The market is not a slave to the good of the individual, and it does not dispense justice. The market follows desire. It will act rationally in fulfilling desires, but it is the desires of the consumers that it follows.... Neither human nature, rights, justice nor rationality are market phenomena. The actions of the market, as well as the actions of every individual within the association, must be in adherence to a certain standard of conduct in order to make justice and the exercise and protection of human rights possible." These are indeed powerful arguments for a need to establish some code of basic principles, existing in visible form, codified and publicly known--a code that would produce a set of guidelines for civilized life and indicate the direction toward which the men and women of good will should choose to strive. Given that volition is a first cause, man must choose to invest human relationships with causality. Real peace is not merely the absence of conflict, it is the presence of justice. The problem of investiture is one of providing a social organization that can effectively combat aggression and ensure the rights of the individual, but which will not itself be able to encroach upon non-aggressive citizens. An arrangement of such a nature that a libertarian anarchist would have the option of ignoring it completely, whilst de facto still living within its jurisdiction. It would have to assert no control over his life at all--so long as his behavior was non-aggressive. What we must strive for is an arrangement wherein the necessary power (to combat aggression) is so balanced against other, independently existing, power (to prevent encroachment) that the probability of its misuse becomes as small as it can be got. Can this be done by means of a government? Either a constitutionally "limited" government, or several government-like, competing defense agencies? I think not. When I examine the idea of government and contemplate the nature of governments as they have existed and do exist in the world, I see their fundamental distinguishing characteristic to be "the strongest group of aggressors in a given area at a given time." Herein lies my objection to both the Minarchist proposal for a government limited by a constitution, and the Anarchist proposal for competing defense agencies. In fact, there is no limit to the power of a gun except another gun. A constitution cannot limit the power of an armed group that chooses to ignore it. A "limited" government would in fact be limited only if its members chose to adhere to the constitution--and as we Americans have seen very well, this is no real limit at all. LeFevre observed that "experience over the past ten thousand years reveals clearly that governments are never limited." I think it inevitable that any "limited" government would eventually become a tyranny. I am strongly opposed to any social organization that has a monopolistic power to compel--no matter what formal documentary restraints may be placed on such an organization. There is a good deal more promise in the Anarchist "competing defense agencies" scheme, but it too is open to such a degeneration if one (or a consortium) of the defense agencies should become "the strongest group." The Anarchist proposal is further flawed by the fact that political power rests on an exclusive authority over


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 153 the military and police. (Exclusivity is mandated by certain "either-or" issues such as whether or not a man--or merchandise--will be allowed to cross a border; whether or not a given behavior is illegal.) Because this authority is exclusive, two independent governments cannot permanently share a single geographical jurisdiction. There is a fundamental structural flaw in the American Constitution: the principles upon which the government of the United States was based, as well as the plan for the construction and operation of the government, were contained in the same document. To allow for the possibility of future improvements there was a provision placed in the document allowing it to be amended. This provision left the basic principles upon which the government was founded also open to alteration. Obviously the PURPOSE of governance should not be changeable, but on the other hand, the MEANS used to fulfill this purpose must be changeable so as to take advantage of new, more efficient technology and to correct errors. When Jefferson prescribed a revolution every few decades, he spoke not only politically but also about the need to remain flexible, ready to adapt to changing circumstances--to innovate at need, while at the same time staying true to those values which are unchanging. To permanently fix the purpose of governance, it is necessary to state that purpose in a binding form that cannot be altered or eliminated short of revolution. Once this binding form is enacted, and the purpose of governance thereby fixed, one can turn to constructing an agency to carry out this purpose. But these two things, Purpose and Agency, should be explicitly recognized as two separate phenomena. Thus governance should have two foundation stones, rather than one: a fixed and immutable statement of purpose--and an amendable means of implementing that purpose. This "statement of purpose" could then serve as a standard against which to judge the "means of implementation." As things are now in America, there is no principled standard against which to judge Amendments made to the Constitution, or the practices by which the Constitution is implemented. I believe the best, and safest, arrangement would be a modification and linking of BOTH the Anarchist and Minarchist ideas into a scheme that would place that ultimate power DIRECTLY into the hands of the individual members of society. I believe, with Jefferson, that there is "no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves." I am NOT, however, an advocate of majority rule. I do not mean "a majority of voters," I mean each and every citizen. It is claimed that a constitution limits a government. What is it that gives a constitution its power? Nothing but the behavior of the people who have chosen to abide by its specifications. A constitution is only as valid--as faithfully enforced--as the fidelity of those individuals who implement it. Thus the Constitution of the USA is implemented only to the extent of the honesty, competence and reliability of those who have taken the oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The functioning of our government, in its actual implementation, lies in the behavior of those individuals who have taken this oath. The ultimate democracy would be one in which all adult citizens have taken such an oath, in just the same way as physicians take the Hippocratic Oath. Carl Sagan approached this view when he lamented, "I wish that the Pledge of Allegiance were directed at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights rather than to the flag and the nation." I would go a step further and advocate a confirmation ceremony such as the Bar Mitzvah, to be passed through by each person as he or she becomes a fully-adult participating citizen of the society. A ceremony in which an oath of fidelity would be taken, NOT to an institution or to a document, but to a clear and explicitly stated ethical principle. An oath expressed in the form of a contract between the individual and the community in which he lives; a formal social statement that would specify a self-imposed libertarian restraint on individual behavior; a statement making explicit the principle of non-aggression as the foundation of social organization and interconnecting the individual to the organizational structure of society in such a manner as to commit him to support, uphold and manifest this ethical principle in his social relationships; an oath that would make the individual consciously aware of his responsibility to ensure the perpetuation of a free society. This oath would be a Covenant formally establishing the principled basis of relationships among free individuals, rather than a Constitution setting up a potentially dangerous coercive institution. It would establish a society based, not on command and coercion, but on consent and contract. I envision the Covenant as a "statement of purpose." It would state ethical principles, but not deal with the specific implementation of those principles. The Covenant would be an absolute, not open to amendment, but any accompanying means of implementation would be changeable so as to accomodate


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 154 technological and social changes in the culture. Thus there might be several institutions (juries and defense agencies among them) established for the implementation of the principles, but each agency, as an organized institution, and each agent, as an individual citizen, would be bound by the principles of the Covenant. The next step in this line of endeavor is, of course, to formulate such a covenant. Here there are two basic problems. One is to conceive the structure of a libertarian society and embody its principles in a specific statement--the other is to establish a transition procedure that would carry us from the presently existing state of affairs into that libertarian society. A procedure should be established whereby the new society might grow from a small kernel. My suggestion is to establish an association similar to something like the Black Muslims or the Quakers. This would be an inward-directed society that withdraws as much as possible from participation in the coercive world and in which each member lives as much as possible in accordance with the ethical principles of the Covenant. I propose the name "Union of Sovereign Americans" as a label for this association. I envision the long-term goals of The Union of Sovereign Americans as being the perpetuation of the libertarian ethic, being the seed of a new society, (either to replace the present one if it should collapse, or perhaps growing through time to the extent that it would extinct the present one) and being a social group in which people of good will could find companionship. To begin the Union of Sovereign Americans there must exist a Covenant. "THE GALLATIN DIVERGENCE" by L. Neil Smith (Ballantine book #30383) contains a covenant, (fictionally proposed by Albert Gallatin at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion and resulting in a complete alteration of the course of history). This covenant has been extracted from the book and widely circulated with a provision for registry of all signatories. It has been signed by dozens, if not hundreds, of people. But I observe something of critical importance regarding the signers of this covenant: in Smith's fictional account, the signing of the covenant always resulted in a profound change in the life of the signatory, because the characters in Smith's story actually lived their lives according to their professed principles. However, in the real world of the present time, I am not aware that the behavior of any person has been changed in any way as a result of having signed Smith's covenant. The signatories simply continue their previous lives--working to support government (and in some cases working FOR government)--with no causal connection between their stated principles and their daily behavior. This is not the fault of Smith's covenant, and I am not criticizing that covenant. I criticize the lack of integrity in the lives of modern-day people. This same lack of integrity is seen in Randites (who explicitly disapprove of Shrugging), and in many of those who take the non-aggression oath of the Libertarian Party: "I certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals." These people merely grumble about the condition of the society they live in. Few, if any, of them choose to take the only effective path open to them for societal change: the transformation of their own personal lives. So what can be said of any kind of covenant or oath that requires no more of a signatory than a mere verbal assertion? The world is filled with hypocrites! Such a person would not be a suitable member of The Union of Sovereign Americans. One must not only assert fidelity, but also PRACTICE fidelity. One must establish a lifestyle suitable to the set of ideas he professes. My point is that no oath of allegience to any principle would preclude people for whom there is no connection between principle and practice (This is why the American Constitution has been betrayed over the course of two centuries). I believe that to be successful the Union of Sovereign Americans must involve a whole way of life--not just an oath. It must involve the learning of a set of ideas and the practiced application of those ideas in one's life. It must include not just an embracing of the libertarian ethic, but a resolve to combat--or at least withdraw support from--the coercive aspects of the society we live in. My own belief is that a good place to begin would be with the act of Shrugging that Rand presented. This would be a way to separate those who merely pay lip service to freedom while continuing to support the State, from those who are really serious in their intention to devote their lives to the practice of freedom. This statement of principles might be a good starting place for the formulation of the Covenant: "Each individual is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others. Each has the right to use and dispose of his own life and his own property as he sees fit. The only real crimes are those activities which separate people from their rightfully achieved values without their voluntary consent. The only proper use of force is in response to coercion. I will never initiate the use of force or fraudulent dishonesty, I will


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 155 never tolerate the initiation of force by other people, and I will recognize the desirability of helping to keep my community free from coercion by assisting other people in preventing coercion and in defending the right of each individual to resist coercion. I will condemn any person or association acting to contravene this principle and will have no dealings with them, and upon all occasions treat them with the contempt they deserve." It has been many years since I Shrugged in 1965, and after all those years of watching the Libertarian Party and the various new-country/enclave projects, I am convinced that there is no seed population within the present culture of America that can give rise to a libertarian society. The process of cultural value-deprivation has gone on too long for there to be any significant number of people willing to drastically alter their lifestyles to accomodate "mere philosophical principle." Most are so immersed in political and philosophical falsehoods that they are blind to the existence of any rational morality and ethics. It's rather like the old adage about the non-thirsty horse: You can lead a man to knowledge, but you cannot make him think. Thus, I do not know what to propose as a practical implementation of the governance-structure ideas I have presented. I don't see any real present use for them, but have written them up and will circulate them in the hope that they will be preserved for some future generation to whom they might have some functional significance. All I can hope to accomplish is to create an atmosphere within which the times might have the possibility of change. But a generations-long process of intellectual transition will probably be required. A society can't jump ahead moral lightyears into the socially advanced behavior of libertarianism any more than goldsmiths in a medieval guild could overnight start manufacturing transistors. As Max Planck observed: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." To put it another way: The world of ideas changes one funeral at a time. "Libertarians have one thing going for them that others lack: they are in tune with reality. Human beings are all that really count and libertarians know that. A man and his wife drinking coffee at the kitchen table, an old woman warming herself by the fire, a child playing in the mud: these are the only reasons governments should exist. All the giant industries and superhighways, all the wonderful technology and fabulous medical knowledge, everything that seems to stand so loftily above us is only there to serve these people and their desires. One of these days, people are going to understand what is real and what is illusion and that is the day when anarchy will triumph." ... Allen Thornton "From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, 'til our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion." ... Thomas Jefferson Men, women, of every nation, every race and condition: how much longer are you going to let yourselves be used? When are you going to tell your rulers, "Enough!" and claim the right to live your own lives? If you continually cling to government you are ensuring your own doom. The thing you worship is destroying itself, and when it is gone you will perish if you do not know how to live without it. For an excellent, but quite different, presentation of the idea of an Objectivist community, see the works of Martin Cowen at this website: Fellowship of Reason


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Chapter 9 RELIGION * Christianity vs. Objectivism * Christianity vs. the Lightning Rod * Christianity vs. Women and Sex * Interview with God * Robert Ingersoll on Religion * Religious Roots of Evil * Attila and the Witch Doctor * Basic Principles of Objectivism - Nathaniel Branden - from Lecture #4 * The Case of God vs. the Case of Reality * God as Big Daddy * Religion and Insanity

* Christianity vs. Objectivism I wonder if you realize just how profoundly antagonistic are Christianity and Objectivism. I will make a brief comparison to exemplify this. In morality, Christianity holds that one of the major sins is Pride (remember that that was a main cause of the expulsion of Lucifer). On the contrary, Objectivism holds Pride as one of its cardinal virtues (PSE, chapter 12). In ethics, Christianity regards altruistic self-sacrifice as a primary virtue. Objectivism holds altruism to be an abomination and self-interest to be a primary virtue (VOS, chapter 1). In Augustine's "Confessions," after denouncing all the pleasures of the body, he continues with a comment on the mind: "To this is added another form of temptation, more manifoldly dangerous. For besides the concupiscience of the flesh which consists in the delight of all senses and pleasures, the soul has, through the same senses of the body, a certain vain and curious desire, veiled under the title of knowledge and learning, the seat whereof being in the appetite of knowledge, and sight being the sense chiefly used for attaining knowledge, it is in divine language called 'The lust of the eyes.'" Contrast this with part of the description of John Galt: "The first thing she grasped about him was the intense perceptiveness of his eyes--he looked as if his faculty of sight were his best-loved tool and its exercise were a limitless, joyous adventure, as if his eyes imparted a superlative value to himself and to the world--to himself for his ability to see, to the world for being a place so eagerly worth seeing. It seemed to her for a moment that she was in the presence of a being who was pure consciousness." (AS Part 3, chapter 1) Faith is the acceptance of an idea as true in the absence of reason or in defiance of objective evidence to the contrary. Faith is not the acceptance of an idea on the basis of incorrect reasons, it is the belief that reasons are unnecessary. In defense of faith, Tertullian wrote: "It is believable because it is absurd. It is certain because it is impossible." He is joined by Augustine, who wrote: "One must first BELIEVE, that one may then know." Christianity has traditionally been so hostile to freedom of thought that the term "free-thinker" became synonymous with "atheist." Christ on libertarianism: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." Luke 19:27 Faith is the willful abdication of one's consciousness, and it is THIS act that Objectivism holds to be the most fundamental sin that a man can commit. (PSE chapter 12) I disagree completely that there is in Christianity any orientation to libertarianism. Their wretched book is stuffed to the bursting point with injunctions to OBEY, and that is why it is impossible for those believing in it to refrain from trying to compel everyone to act as they think it commands. They are apt to go tearing off on a holy crusade at any moment, because they have an intrinsically unstable and selfcontradictory set of values.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 157 Where religion is least harmful, it is following generally along the moral map laid out by reason. But nothing in a religion tells you how to generate that moral map yourself, or guarantees that major sections of it won't change according to the dictates of some privileged interpreter. There is no common ground between Christianity and Objectivism. They are diametrically opposed to one another.

* Christianity vs. the Lightning Rod Of all the fatal manifestations of nature, the one which is most clearly an overwhelming attack by a divine being against man is the lightning bolt. And yet, if the lightning stroke is indeed the wrathful weapon of a supernatural being, there are some difficult-to-explain implications. As it happens, high objects are more frequently struck by lightning than are low objects. As it also happens, the highest manmade object in the small European town of early modern times was the steeple of the village church. It followed, embarrassingly enough, that the most frequent target of the lightning bolt was the church itself. Over a 33-year period in 18th-century Germany, no fewer than 400 church towers were damaged by lightning. What's more, since church bells were often rung during thunderstorms in an attempt to avert the wrath of the Lord, the bell ringers were in unusual danger and in that same period, 120 of them were killed. Recall, in this context, the famous kite-flying experiment in which Ben Franklin demonstrated that lightning is nothing more than a big dose of electricity. Franklin had noted that an electrical discharge takes place more readily and quietly through a fine point than through a blunt projection. If a needle were attached to a Leyden jar, the charge leaked quietly through the needle point so readily that the jar could never be charged at all. Well, then--if a sharp metal rod were placed at the top of a structure and if it were properly grounded, any electric charge accumulating near the structure during a thunderstorm would be quietly discharged and the chances of its building up to the catastrophic loosing of a lightning bolt would be greatly diminished. Franklin advanced the notion of this "lightning rod" in 1753. The notion was so simple, the principle so clear, the investment in time and material so small, the nature of the possible relief so great, that lightning rods began to rise immediately over buildings throughout the world. And it worked! Where the lightning rods rose, the lightning bolt ceased. For the first time in the history of mankind, one of the great scourges of the Universe had been beaten, not by magic and spells and prayer, but by science--by an understanding of the laws of nature and by intelligent cooperation with them. There was an embarrassed reluctance about putting up lightning rods on churches. It seemed to betray a lack of confidence in God. But it soon became all too noticeable to everyone that the town church, unprotected by lightning rods, was hit, while the town brothel, if protected by lightning rods, was not. Every lightning rod on a church is evidence of the victory of science and of the surrender of religion-and no one can be so blind as not to see that evidence. Although they often choose to be so blind as to deny it.

* Christianity vs. Women and Sex Under Christianity, women lost all legal status and all right to property (rights they had firmly held in the preceeding Roman society). All this was justified by the Christians on the grounds that Eve had been the cause of Adam's downfall. Some attitudes toward sex, as expressed by several of the founders of institutionalized Christianity: Saint Paul: "It is good for man not to touch a woman. But if they do not have self-control let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn." Saint John: "Among all savage beasts, none is found so harmful as woman." Tertullian describes woman as "a temple built over a sewer." Clement of Alexandria: "It is disgraceful to love another man's wife at all--or one's own too much. He who too ardently loves his own wife is an adulterer." The Compendia of Catholic Moral Theology devotes 44 pages to a description of all possible forms of sin. Thirtytwo of these pages are devoted specifically to sexual sin. Of all the ways you can sin, 73 percent of them are sexual! For the official Christian view of homosexuality, see Leviticus 20:13. Make no mistake about it, the Christian religion has a profound and passionate hatred of sex.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 158

* Interview with God When I encountered God, He was sitting in a remote corner of the universe, trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the Grand Design. "I am moving to another universe," He said, "because too many Christians have moved into this neighborhood." Asked if he was angry, God said: "Wouldn't you be if something you made didn't work? I made man to think, to use his reason, his thought, his logic, to be free, to be just, to create beauty, to love truth, to achieve, to be joyous. My eagles soar, don't they? My fish swim don't they? I made man to walk in joy and triumph. My greatest achievement. My masterpiece. And what does man do? He fears. He crawls. He has faith. He ignores reality. He evades action." "I gave him vision. I gave him principled imagination. I gave him courage. I gave him Mind that he might experience the joy of insight. I gave him my love of Truth. What does he do? He seeks masters and saviors." "Let me try to explain. I never gave Man a guarantee of perfection, only the chance of it. That was the whole point of it all. Man has the choice and the chance but never the coercion. I have left his freedom to choose inviolate." But why, Lord, can Man not be a better creature? "Look, if I reached down and touched him on the forehead and made him perfect, what would life on earth be like? No sadness, no joy. No tears, no smiles. No pain, no relief. No failure, no triumph. No rudeness, no courtesy. No bigotry, no tolerance. No despair, no exultation. No sin and certainly no redemption. I would simply create a paradise of featureless bliss here on earth, which would make my heavenly kingdom somewhat redundant. And that is not the point of it all. So, Man must have his choice." "But this universe is not what I wanted at all. I am going to try it again in the next universe. Maybe there things will work out better." Are you planning any changes in the next universe, God? "Yes, I am. No religion. No government. No Church nor State to oppress and intimidate my creation." One last question God, if you will? "Yes?" Do you feel bad about leaving anything behind? "Yes, I do...." (A tear came to God's eye. The first tear in a billion years. His sorrow made me tremble. I waited for Him to speak.) "I will miss the things most dear to me.... Conscience in the service of Justice, and Genius in the service of Truth." "I will miss the admiration and pride I felt when my creation perceived Justice and asserted his knowledge of it." "I will miss that immortal light of Genius, the power and glory of Man, whose radiant glow gave me warmth and comfort on cold nights." "I am just too damn disappointed to listen to any more foolish prayers."

* Robert Ingersoll on Religion There may be a God who will make us happy in another world. If he does, it will be more than he has accomplished in this. I have little confidence in any enterprise or business or investment that promises dividends only after the death of the stockholders. I had rather think of those I have loved and lost, as having returned to earth, as having become a part of the elemental wealth of the world, I would rather think of them as unconscious dust, I would rather dream of them as gurgling in the streams, floating in the clouds, bursting in the foam of light upon the shores of worlds. I would rather think of them as lost visions of a forgotten night, than to have the faintest fear that their naked souls have been clutched by a Christian god. For thousands of years men have been writing the real Bible, and it is being written from day to day, and it will never be finished while man has life. All the facts that we know, all the truly recorded events, all the discoveries and inventions, all the wonderful machines whose wheels and levers seem to think, all the poems, crystals from the brain, flowers from the heart, all the songs of love and joy, of smiles and


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 159 tears, the great dramas in Imagination's world, the wondrous paintings, miracles of form and color, of light and shade, the marvelous marbles that seem to live and breathe, the secrets told by rock and star, by dust and flower, by rain and snow, by frost and flame, by winding stream and desert sand, by mountain range and billowed seas. All the wisdom that lengthens and enobles life--all that avoids or cures disease, or conquers pain--all just and perfect laws and rules that guide and shape our lives, all thoughts that feed the flames of love, the music that transfigures, enraptures and enthralls, the victories of heart and brain, the miracles that hands have wrought, the deft and cunning hands of those who worked for wife and child, the histories of noble deeds, of brave and useful men, of faithful loving wives, of quenchless mother love, of conflicts for the right, of sufferings for the truth, of all the best that all the men and women of the world have said, and thought and done through all the years. These treasures of the heart and brain--these are the Sacred Scriptures of the human race. It is to him who masters our minds by the force of truth, not to those who enslave men by violence, it is to him who understands the world, not to those who disfigure it, that we owe our reverence. Wherever these human beings may be who have shared our love, whatever landscape soothes their soul, whatever breeze cools their brow, their country is our country too. Each square foot of land occupied by a man of good will is part of our country. [James Madison's personal motto was: "Ubi Libertas, Ibi Patria."] Christ never wrote a solitary word. It has always seemed to me that a being coming from another world, with a message of infinite importance to mankind.... If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament he would be a criminal. If he would strictly follow the teachings of the New, he would be insane. [Heinlein: "When religion makes you act like a fool, it is a wrong religion."] Pious ignorance always regards intelligence as a kind of blasphemy. If we are ever judged at all it will be by our actions, and not by our beliefs. If Christ was good enough to die for me, he certainly will not be bad enough to damn me for honestly failing to believe in his divinity. Think of the egotism of a man who believes that an infinite being wants his praise! [Brick Pillow: "I will live by what I see and reason, not for a pie-in-the-sky possibility of a god's existence and His liking me enough to confer immortality on me for kissing His ass."] When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The day of Science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of today. [During the Dark Ages] Faith reigned with scarcely a rebellious subject... She built cathedrals for God and dungeons for men. She peopled the clouds with angels and the earth with slaves. The building in which they were assembled took fire and many of these men and women perished in the flames. A French priest called this horror an act of God. Is it not strange that Christians speak of their God as an assassin? This Deity says, "pray for those that despitefully use you; love your enemies, but I will eternally damn mine." It seems to me that even gods should practice what they preach. [The Christians] are taught as a part of their creed to despise the descendants of the only people with whom God is ever said to have had any conversation whatever. Thomas Jefferson referred to the clergy as "mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus," and making it their business in life to confuse mankind with their abracadabra. He compared them to cuttlefish, having the "faculty of shedding darkness... thro' the element in which they move, and making it impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy, and there they will skulk." Thomas Paine: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, not by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."

* Religious Roots of Evil Christ, according to the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian doctrine, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the non-ideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificied for men who are vicious. Here is the essence of the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the non-ideal, or virtue to vice. Christians do not know how to love their god except by crucifying man. Jesus joined humanity in order to redeem it, and for this redemption to take place, he HAD to be


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 160 crucified, thus taking the sins of humanity onto his own shoulders and expiating them. If that is so, then Judas, Pontius Pilate and other villains had essential parts to play in this redemption, and had they refused those parts, all of humanity would still be laboring under original sin. That should make those men heroes, shouldn't it? Saint Basil (AD 360): "The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is that of one who is naked; the shoes you do not wear are those of one who is barefoot; the acts of charity you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit." Saint Ambrose (AD 360): "You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his." Thus we see that in the Christian belief, anyone who possesses property needed by another must surrender it or be guilty of theft. Pope Paul VI (AD 1973): "True justice recognizes that all men are in substance equal. The littler, the poorer, the more suffering, the more defenseless, even the lower a man has fallen, the more he deserves to be assisted, raised up, cared for, and honored." Marshall Cohen, Professor of Philosophy, CUNY: "Once an adequate social minimum has been reached, justice requires the elimination of many economic and social inequalities, even if their elimination inhibits a further raising of the minimum." Jan Tinbergen, first Nobel laureate in Economics: "A modest first step might be a special tax on persons with high academic scores." An Ayn Rand villain: "The men of ability? I do not care what or if they are made to suffer. They must be penalized in order to support the incompetent. Frankly, I do not care whether this is just or not. I take pride in not caring to grant any justice to the able, where mercy to the needy is concerned." Ayn Rand's analysis of the above attitude: "What passkey admits you to the religiously moral elite? The passkey is lack of value. Whatever the value involved, it is your lack of it that gives you a claim upon those who don't lack it. To demand rewards for your virtue is selfish and immoral they claim; it is your lack of virtue that transforms your demand into a moral right." From the religious point of view, to say that any man or human phenomenon can be perfect is to blaspheme God, for to allow any value or significance to humanity is to derogate by just that amount from the majesty, perfection, and supreme value of God. Thus, no matter how good a man is, in the eyes of a Christian he is not as good as he ought to be. If a man is sinful, the fault is his--but if he is virtuous, the credit belongs to God. Similarly, if an investor loses his money on dry holes, the loss is his--but if he hits a gusher, his profits should rightfully be taken by taxes. Freedom demands choice, but in order to exercise it, people must first believe that they deserve to make choices, and they cannot believe this if they have been led to think that they are somehow causing others to suffer. Many Christians invoke a definition of poverty that is not absolute (lack of sustenance), but relative--a lack of sustenance that noticeably contrasts with the sufficiency of others. The effect of this definition is to incite guilt in those who accept the teachings of Christianity: They believe themselves guilty of causing the poverty of others. The truly clever dictator realizes the nature of this guilt and will thus rely more on guilt than on bayonets. The most effective propaganda works by scolding and accusing.

* Attila and the Witch Doctor The consequence of the epistemology of religion is the politics of tyranny. If you cannot reach the truth by your own mental powers, but must maintain submissive faith in a cognitive authority, then you are not your own intellectual master; in such a case you cannot guide your behavior by your own judgment either, but must be submissive in action as well. This is the reason why, historically, faith and force are always corollaries; each requires the other. Nietzsche was correct in stating that Christianity fears, resents, and attacks strength. But it is not Nietzsche's notion of strength--brute strength, unleashed passion--that Christianity opposes. It is intellectual strength, the strength of the sovereign, independent, rational mind that all mystics oppose. It is no accident that in this opposition to reason, Christianity and Nietzsche are allies. Both the WitchDoctors and the Attilas hate the mind that yields to neither faith nor force.

* Basic Principles of Objectivism - Nathaniel Branden - from Lecture #4


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 161 Let us examine the concept of god and observe some of its striking implications for man's consciousness. To begin with, those who profess to believe in god are unable to identify or communicate intelligibly what it is that they believe in. What is the nature, the identity of god? What is the meaning of the concept? "God is 'something'" they say, "only I don't know what it is." They claim to believe in it nevertheless. No philosophy, theology or religion has ever given a rationally intelligible definition or even description of the nature of god, or any intelligible content to the concept god. Observe that I said "intelligible." A great many descriptions have been offered and a great many attributes have been ascribed to god but they are of a kind that represent a negation and a mockery of man's consciousness as well as of everything known to him in reason about the nature of reality. For instance: "God" claim the mystics, "is infinite." What does it mean to be infinite? It means to possess no limits. To possess no specific determinite finite number of attributes--no specific particular identifiable qualities. It means to be nothing in particular. But to be nothing in particular is not to be. To assert that an infinite being exists is to assert that something can exist that possesses no identity. To accept the existence of a being who possesses no identity one has to reject the Law of Identity. But to reject the Law of Identity is to reject the total of one's grasp of reality. Thus the concept of an infinite god is the destruction of man's concept of existence, of being. "God" claim the mystics, "is pure spirit" or "pure consciousness." What do they mean by spirit? Well, in rational terms the concept spirit is intelligible and simply means man's consciousness. Consciousness, in rational terms, means the faculty of awareness possessed by a specific material living entity. But this is not what the mystics mean. By "pure spirit" they mean a non-material entity. And by "pure consciousness" they mean a faculty without any entity to which it belongs. What is a non-material entity? The mystics have no identification for it and no definition. No concept except the negation of man's concepts. Non-material means simply "non-anything you know." Spirit, in the mystics' terms, is not something specific or identifiable. Its nature is precisely that it cannot be identified. It is not to be grasped by man. It is not merely different from matter, it is the metaphysical opposite of matter. It is that which matter is not. To grasp it you must reject everything which you do grasp and replace it with the concept of "that which is not what I grasp." In terms of man's consciousness, to grasp means to understand, to identify. The definition of spirit offered by the mystics is in effect "that which is not to be identified by man." The same epistemological devastation is performed by the mystics' concept of pure consciousness. Man's concept of consciousness is a faculty belonging to a specific being who possesses specific means of awareness such as sense organs, nerves, a brain--which make it possible for him to be aware of reality in the form of sensations, perceptions, conceptions. But the mystics' concept of pure consciousness is a faculty without an entity. A faculty that exists by itself and is conscious without any specific means of awareness. An action without an entity that acts. The action of an unlimited entity-unlimited by any specific means. This is not only the destruction of the Law of Identity but also the acceptance of the one epistemological method that destroys a rational consciousness: the dropping of context. Logic, man's means of cognition, requires the preservation of the full context of every concept man forms. To accept the idea of a pure consciousness, man must drop the context, the meaning, the root of consciousness as he knows it and replace it with the idea of a consciousness which is "not what I know or mean or grasp." Thus the doctrine of "god is pure consciousness" is the destruction of the concept of consciousness. "God" claim the mystics, "is omnipotent." What does omnipotent mean? It means that god can do anything. Since the actions possible to an entity are determined by the nature of the entity that acts, for god to be unrestricted in action, he would have to be unrestricted in identity. And this would mean that he possesses no identity. If god is omnipotent, not only does he possess no identity but neither does anything else possess identity. Think about that. God can do anything to any entity and he can make any entity do anything, regardless of the entity's nature. Which is tantamount to saying that the entity has no nature. Anything goes. Anything is possible. If miracles can happen, reality is fluid, arbitrary, unpredictable, unknowable. A miracle is the rationally impossible. If god is omnipotent, contradictions have to be possible. This raises a number of questions the sole meaning of which is a mockery of man's reason. For example: it has been asked "Can god tie a knot that he cannot untie?" or "Can god create a mountain that he cannot climb over?" The answer given by the mystics is "You must not try to understand, you must believe." You must believe that that which is inconceivable to you is possible. And that that which you do


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 162 conceive of, such as specific identifiable entities, can be negated and dissolved by miracle at any moment. Thus the concept that god is omnipotent destroys the Law of Identity and the Law of Causality. "God" claim the mystics, "is omniscient." To be omniscient means to know everything: past, present and future. Observe that the attribute of omniscience is necessitated by the attribute of omnipotence. In order for god to be able to do anything, he would have to know everything. But observe also that the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience contradict each other. In order for god to know everything, everything would have to be fated and predetermined. But if everything were fated and predetermined, it could not be changed. And if it could not be changed, this is a limitation on god's potency and he is not omnipotent. Here again the mystic will tell you "Don't think, don't examine, don't wonder, don't question--believe." The concept of omniscience is the secret wish-fullfillment of every mystic. To acquire one's knowledge, by a process of struggle and effort, is abhorrent to the mystic. But to know everything, to know it instantaneously and without effort, to know it causelessly without any specific means of knowing it, or acquiring one's knowledge, or holding one's knowledge, this is the mystics' passionate dream. The concept of omniscience is a psychological monument to the mystics' hatred of effort. Finally, the mystics claim that "god is all-good." This means that he is incapable of evil. This poses a number of problems. The first is, if he is incapable of evil, how can he be omnipotent? Another problem: consider what is meant by the concept "Good." The concept of good or evil can pertain only to a being who has the power of choice. Morality applies only to entities who have a choice of action. If a robot were constructed for a certain job which it would execute flawlessly because it was so designed by a scientist, you would not call it a virtuous robot. You would know that the robot has no power of choice and that it does only what it HAS to do. But if god is incapable of choosing evil, then he is as amoral as that robot. If god has no power to choose evil, if by nature he must always and automatically choose the good, then he is outside the concept of morality and his actions cannot be described as either good or evil. The doctrine of "god is all good" creates an enormous problem which the mystics have never been able to solve. It is known as the Problem of Evil, and it consists of the question "If god is omnipotent and all-good, why does he allow evil to exist in the world?" The philosopher Epicurus expressed this problem thus: "Either god would remove evil out of this world and cannot, or he can and will not, or he has not the power nor will, or lastly he has both the power and will. If he has the will and not the power, this shows weakness, which is contrary to the nature of god. If he has the power and not the will, it is malignity, and this is no less contrary to his nature. And if he is neither able nor willing he is both impotent and malignant and consequently cannot be god. And if he is both willing and able, which alone is consonant with the nature of god, whence comes evil? Or why does he not prevent it?" Theologians have been painfully aware of this problem and they have offered a number of answers. The most common answer is that man's limited intellect cannot grasp the mystery. That god in fact works for good purposes, but the purposes are of a kind which man's reason cannot grasp. So, if we see innocents slaughtered by the millions, and the seemingly evil prosper, and if it seems to us that we are witnessing something evil, why it is only an illusion--it is not evil. By god's standards, it is good. If you see your loved ones being tortured and murdered, do not dare consider it evil, do not dare pass any moral judgment; it merely seems evil from your limited viewpoint. It serves a good end from god's viewpoint, which you cannot grasp and must not question. If god wills it to be so, who are you to call it evil or to protest? Thus the doctrine of "god is all good" is the destruction of morality. Observe that the mystics' answer to all the problems and contradictions in the concept of god is "Your mind cannot conceive of it. If your mind cannot conceive of the irrational, the contradictory, the senseless, the impossible, it is your mind that must take the blame." The ultimate brain-killer is the mystics' claim that god is unknowable. Do not confuse the concept of unknowable with the concept of unknown. Unknown merely means something not known at present or not known to you. But unknowable means that which can never be known. That which by its nature cannot be known. The most consistent theory of the mystics, pertaining to god as the unknowable, is that of a theological school known as negative theology. The negative theologians insist that one cannot possibly say what god is because to ascribe any attributes to him is to limit him, and this amounts to an impertinence. One must not say that god is finite--that would limit him. One must not say that god is infinite--that would limit him also, since it forbids him to be finite. One must not say that he is all-good because that implies that he cannot be bad. One must not say that he is good AND bad, because that forbids the possibility of his being exclusively one. One must not say that he is omniscient, because that


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 163 forbids the possiblilty of his being fallible. One must not say that he is fallible because that forbids the possiblilty of his being omniscient. Well, here in this theory you can observe the full, open and explicit meaning and purpose of the mystics' advocacy of faith in god: the hatred of man's mind and the desire to destroy it. To destroy all the cardinal concepts of man's reason. To destroy the base of man's consciousness, the Law of Identity. And to leave man groveling on his belly, as an abject idiot, cringing in terror at a nightmare apparition which he dares not identify as either real or unreal, knowable or unknowable.

* The Case of God vs. the Case of Reality To a rational person, there are many more reasons for not believing in god than for believing. However, there are times when even a rational person might ask himself if there might not be some basis for such a belief. Probably this query most often occurs when no evident explanation can be seen for some phenomenon. In such a situation, religion might be viewed as an error concerning causality and the proper means of establishing causal connections in reality. Perhaps early man did not develop a science because he did not believe that cause and effect could possibly be linked together inexorably. Instead he tried to forsee the behavior of a seemingly inconstant reality by augury and witchcraft. Much of human energy has gone into the working out of the "proper" rituals for control of such a mystical Universe and into the effort of maintaining rigid adherence to those rituals. Verbal formulas, uttered by specialists, are relied on to bring good luck to a fishing fleet, members of which would be uneasy about leaving port without them. If you think this is but a vagary of uneducated fishermen, I might point out that the Congress of the United States would feel most uneasy about beginning its deliberations without a chaplain mimicking biblical English in an attempt to call down good judgment upon them from on high--a device that seems very rarely to have done the Congress much good. The Canadian Parliament sends forth its supplications alternating daily in French and English for a presumably bilingual god. The strange declamatory language so often used in religious television, radio, and even conversation may well have a cumulative quasi-hypnotic effect on people who regularly listen to it for long periods and who rarely (because they avoid secular people and media) hear more normal patterns of speech. Consider the specific forms of behavior associated with strong religious belief of various kinds around the world: prayer, meditation, fasting, chanting, self-flagellation, abstinence from pleasure, memorization and recitation of sacred texts (often in languages only half-understood by the person doing so). It all seems almost calculated to produce and sustain an abnormal hypnotic mental state. It's zombification. It's a mental virus that takes over a human mind and reprograms it to behave in ways which will maintain the virus and propagate it to other minds. A religion is a system of beliefs and practices resting on the assumption that events within the world are subject to some supernatural power or powers, such that human needs, either physical or psychological, can be satisfied by man's entering into relations with such powers; the supernatural powers in question are called supernatural by virtue of the fact that they can be known, related to, or influenced primarily by means other than those of reason or sense experience. The fundamental characteristic of all religions is this belief in a supernatural power which can control everyday events. And a fundamental practice characteristic of all religions is the attempt to influence this power. But the psychological consequences of this belief are all-pervasive and devastating: Christianity, and most other religions, teach that god, by whatever name He is called, is the father of us all. This places man in the role of a child who is at the mercy of another's command and in whose will lies the final verdict upon which all of man's actions must be based. This will covers a multitude of irresponsible actions on the part of man. Man is assigned no responsibility except to believe and obey. If he does not succeed in life, it was not his fault; it was god's will that he should not. God has a purpose for everything and everyone, and if we cannot see what that purpose is, it does not matter because god knows. The Bible teaches "all things work together for the good of those who love God." We are told "take no thought for tomorrow, for sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." This pearl of wisdom was given in the famous Sermon on The Mount by Jesus to his followers. In this same sermon they were told that God would provide whatever they needed in the way of food and clothing just as he fed and clothed the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. Religion today teaches the same thing: God will provide, just as long as one serves Him. So what if you do not get to make the decisions, you will be taken care of. Thus religion replaces critical thinking with fantasy and wish fulfillment.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 164 To a religious person, the concept of god explains everything. Man has no need to ask "Why?" His mind is not needed, only his faith. His faith gives him the security of the firm conviction that SOMEONE knows what is going on, even if he does not. It gives him the hope that SOMEHOW all will turn out well. And if he is mugged every time he steps out of his door he has the assurance that god will destroy the evil-doers and reward him for his endurance. This sort of faith in an all-knowing god and in a righteous judgment is a great comfort to the believer. It relieves him of responsibility for just about everything. It gives him a sense of worth as being part of "God's Great Plan." AND, it promises him immortality!! Now that is a pretty good argument for investing in something that really does not cost very much. A little faith, professed now and then, and one can go on his merry way without a worry in the world. But what does it REALLY cost? This is where the rational, reality-oriented man finds his reasons for NOT believing in god. Just as a child needs its parents, so does an immature adult need his god. Freedom is always hard to bear, and the weight of self-responsibility can only be carried after a certain level of intellectual (philosophical) sophistication has been attained. An adult person is one who has reached the point of maturity in his life where he is able to care for himself. He has no need, nor wish, for anyone else to take care of him. For this person, the religious obligation to defer to a will outside himself would preclude his believing in god. This type of person is one who uses his mind to reason and find out the facts in reality that account for phenomena. The exercise of his reason teaches him that blind faith will never net him a thing except the frustration of his hopes (just ask any man who has ever attempted to adjust a carburetor), and that learning to deal correctly with reality will help him realize his aspirations. He says, with Robert Ingersoll, "We need the religion of the real, the faith that rests on fact." The cost of faith in god's omniscience is the abdication of one's own ability to reason and to know. The test of an invalid concept is the fact that it cannot be reduced to the perceptual level. This means that nothing in reality gives rise to the concept. The test is not that the referent is unobservable. Science regularly refers to unobservables, such as atoms, genes, X rays. But one can identify the evidence supporting scientific concepts. One can define the sequence of steps by which men were led from observations to a series of conclusions, which were then integrated into new concepts to designate hitherto unknown entities. In regard to the language of religion, by contrast, this is precisely what cannot be done. The referents of "god," "angel," "devil" are not merely unobservable. The terms cannot be connected by any process to the perceptual level; they are nonreducible by their nature. Once the mind's ability to filter out nutty ideas has been dismantled for the sake of irrational religious dogma, there is nothing to stop any other nutty idea the person runs into from wandering in and taking up residence. Believing that there is a god introduces an error to your intellectual frame of reference. Sooner or later the results of that error will make themselves felt. The believer has no real control over his life, since everything he does is governed by "God's will." He has no answer for what happens to him except that "it must be part of the Divine Plan." The only goal of his life is to reach the end of it as obediently as he can and hope for his reward in heaven. He has no real knowledge that this reward exists, only his blind faith in religion's promise. He drags through existence with the hope that someone else has the ability to know, and the fear that they may NOT know or that he may not measure up in the end. The automonous individual, on the other hand, knows that he himself has control over his own life. He has ascertained the facts of reality by the use of his ability to reason and has arranged his life to be in accord with them. He seeks the explanations for everything that happens to him in the knowledge of cause and effect. The goal of his life is his own happiness here on earth, and he does not look for or expect unearned rewards. This individual has the knowledge that rewards do indeed exist and that they are obtained by his own efforts. His life is lived in the knowledge of his mortality, without fear, and with the confidence that he has the ability to be happy while he lives. It is of no importance to him whether god exists or not, HE exists, and it is important to him to be happy while he exists. The cost of relying on the promise of heaven's rewards is the sacrifice of confidence in one's own ability to live a happy life on earth. What about the explanations for those things we can't explain? The believer has no quandary in this regard, to him, the mystery of god explains everything. He has no need to ask why, he only needs to accept what he does not understand as part of the mystery. He is told that there are some things he is not supposed to understand.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 165 A rational man knows that there are some things he does not yet have an answer for, but he also knows that he is capable of seeking an answer. His mind is the tool he finds joy in using to solve the mysteries of the universe he lives in. He is not willing to accept a lack of understanding as a final judgment on his ability to understand. His own worth as a human being is the biggest reason a rational man finds for NOT believing in god. A being who has discovered the glory of his own nature cannot regard himself as a chunk of depravity whose duty is self-abasing obedience to supernatural commandments. Robert Ingersoll expressed the attitude of the man of reason very well: "Astrology was displaced by astromony. Alchemy and black art gave way to chemistry. Science is destined to take the place of religion. In my judgment, the religion of the future will be reason."

* God as Big Daddy "God" is not a concept. At best, one could say it is a concept in the sense in which a dramatist uses concepts to create a character. It is an abstract of actual characteristics of man combined with the projection of impossible, irrational characteristics which do not arise from reality--such as omnipotence and omniscience. God: Somewhere, in an inaccessible place, there is an old man in a nightshirt who knows everything and is all powerful and created everything and rewards and punishes... and can be bribed. This is only a malignant practical joker with the morals of a terrorist. Aren't malaria, cholera, syphilis, yellow fever, and bubonic plague merely the punishments that this infinitely wise, compassionate, and forgiving Father created to inflict upon His children? The victims that He hounds the most gleefully are always the poor, the hungry, the defenseless. What kind of a fiend would we brand any human father who treated his children like that? The Sun is in a backwater arm of an absolutely humdrum galaxy. Why should I-Am-That-I-Am hang out around here? There must be more pressing things for him to do. All this intervention (in the form of miracles) speaks of incompetence. If god was clever enough to create the Universe, why wasn't He clever enough to create it in such a way that life could evolve naturally without miraculously improbable events? Those who claim that the evolution of life is prohibitively improbable without Divine intervention are saying in effect that god was a bungler who couldn't get it right the first time and who, after ten billion years of tinkering, STILL hasn't got it right! If god is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn't he start the universe in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why's he continually tinkering, repairing and complaining? No, there's one thing the Bible makes clear: God is a sloppy mentufacturer. He's not good at design and he's not good at implementation. He'd be out of business, if there were any competition.

* Religion and Insanity Apparently many schizophrenics are drawn to charismatic/fundamentalist Christian sects wherein "hearing voices" is normal and accepted. People with mental illness are often treated with generosity and kindness in Fundamentalist churches. This is worth remembering when news articles appear, as they sometimes do, describing how some religious fanatic just committed some barbaric atrocity on the advice of "God" or "Jesus." Usually the mental illness preceded the religion, but the influence of exploitative preachers and/or many of the other trappings of fundamentalist Christianity aggravated the pre-existing illness to sociopathic derangement. The great trouble with religion--ANY religion--is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge the consequences of those propositions by evidence. Thus he can easily come to commit the most heinous atrocities in good conscience. THE WAR-PRAYER by Mark Twain: "O Lord, our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells;... help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; ... help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst; ... We ask it, in the spirit of love." Beyond the region of the Probable is the Possible, and beyond the Possible is the Impossible, and beyond the Impossible are the religions of this world. The mystical ideas in which they trust are fictions, barren in their yield of results, powerless in prediction, and devoid of useful application. In a word, they


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 166 are worthless. Maybe I cannot see the naked Face of god--but my eyesight is good enough to detect fradulent baloney. All magical and ritual practices are hopelessly inappropriate to the preservation and increase of life. My cat would turn up his tail at them. To regard them as mistaken attempts to control nature, as a result of wrong synapses or "crossed wires" in the brain, leaves the most rational of animals too deep in the slough of error. If a savage in his ignorance of physics tries to make a mountain open its caverns by dancing around it, we must admit with shame that no rat in a psychologist's maze would try such patently ineffectual methods of opening a door. Nor should such behavior be carried on in the face of failure for thousands of years; even rats learn more quickly than that. In conclusion I can only say this: I hope, for His sake, that God does not exist. Because if He does, He has one hell of a lot to answer for!


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Chapter 10 SPIRITUALITY, ART, AND BEAUTY * The Spirituality of a Scientist * The Credo of a Rational Man * Prayer * Oath * Marriage * Love * Table Blessing * Art * Beauty * The Need for and Function of Art and Beauty * The Nature of Pleasure * The Nature of Fiction * Dancing * The Destruction of Art under Statism * Miscellaneous Comments on Art

* The Spirituality of a Scientist I have come into a peculiar sort of spiritual awareness during the course of my studies of Objectivism. I have found that this philosophy, which is very strongly oriented toward rationality, leads, when it is fully developed and manifested within oneself, to a kind of spiritual awakening--a blossoming of the soul--that has its own unique nature. I experience this in part as an inward-directed focus--a growing recognition of (as Nathaniel Branden put it) "the biological forces deep within our organism that speak to us in a wordless language we have barely begun to decipher." I experience it also as a growing sense of the wonderful capability of human intelligence and its place and function in the universe. "It is necessary to be fully possessed of only two beliefs: the first, that the order of nature is ascertainable by our faculties to an extent which is practically unlimited; the second, that our volition counts for something as a condition of the course of events. Each of these beliefs can be verified experimentally, as often as we like to try. Each, therefore, stands upon the strongest foundation upon which any belief can rest, and forms one of our highest truths." ... Albert Einstein The idea of a "scientific religion" may seem a contradiction in terms, but I have for some time been intrigued with the introspective observation of a deep sense of wonder, awe and spirituality that has arisen within me during the time that I have been studying and applying Objectivism, growing in scientific knowledge, and developing the functional competence of my intelligence. This has nothing to do with any mystical, faith-oriented notions, but is a sense of becoming more and more united with the totality of the Universe as I adjust the functioning of my mind to bring it more and more into accord with Reality. To give a mundane example: a rainbow is no less beautiful, but actually grows in beauty and wonder, with a deeper knowledge of the postulates of physics and epistemology that describe and explain it. Although religious people deny it, I find no difficulty in accepting a non-mystical explanation of the foundation of my beliefs: "Existence is the first cause. The universe is the total of that which exists. Within the universe, the emergence of new entities can be explained in terms of the actions of entities that already exist. All actions presuppose the existence of entities. All causality presupposes the existence of something that acts as a cause. To demand a cause for all of existence is to demand a contradiction: if the cause exists, it is part of existence: if it does not exist, it cannot be a cause. Nothing cannot be the cause of something. Nothing does not exist. Nothing is not just another kind of something--it is nothing. Existence exists; you cannot go outside it, you cannot get under it, on top of it or behind it. Existence exists--and only existence exists; there is nowhere else to go. The universe did not begin--it did not, at some point in time,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 168 spring into being. Time is a measurement of motion. Motion presupposes entities that move. If nothing existed, there could be no time. Time is 'in' the universe; the universe is not 'in' time." ... Nathaniel Branden. Your soul is your mind and its basic values. Karma is the memory of your soul--the psychological consequences of your behavior. Karma does not consist of facts, words or images, but is an integration of judgments--judgments that your subconscious mind makes about your behavior. Your words are who you are, and your deeds are what you are. As you go through life you become what you do. "I call heaven and earth to witness, that whether it be Gentile or Israelite, man or woman, slave or handmaid, according to the deeds which he does, so will the Holy Spirit rest on him." ... The Talmud Holiness is a measure of the reverence and awe which men hold for certain symbols and the power those symbols give us over the world of nature. It is Language which grants godhood to man by enabling him, through symbolic conceptualization, to encompass the world within the scope of his thoughts. Thus, sense, reason, and intellect--all of which are functions of "the Word"--are what make me a Man. And give me the power to be a God. Surprisingly, some of the best expressions of this function of language can be found in the Bible: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. Here are examples of how some other scientists and scholars have expressed this spiritual feeling: Ayn Rand, in her introduction to THE FOUNTAINHEAD: What I was referring to was not religion as such, but a special category of abstractions which, for centuries, has been the near-monopoly of religion ... the realm of values, man's code of good and evil, with the emotional connotations of height, uplift, nobility, reverence, grandeur, which pertain to the realm of man's values, but which religion has arrogated to itself. Religion's monopoly in this field has made it extremely difficult to communicate the emotional meaning and connotations of a rational view of life. Religion has usurped the highest moral concepts of our language, placing them outside this earth and beyond man's reach. Exaltation, Worship, and Reverence do name actual emotions. What, then, is their source or referent in reality? It is the entire emotional realm of man's dedication to a moral ideal. It is with this meaning that I would identify the sense of life dramatized in THE FOUNTAINHEAD as man worship. The man-worshipers are those who see man's highest potential and strive to actualize it. They are those dedicated to the exaltation of man's self-esteem and the sacredness of his happiness on earth. Galileo: "I do not feel obliged to believe that that same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them." Albert Einstein: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.... To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull facilities can comprehend only in the most primitive forms--this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the ranks of the devoutly religious men." Isidor Isaac Rabi: "Not religion in a secular way, but religion as inspirer of a way of looking at things. Choosing physics means, in some way, you're not going to choose trivialities. When you're doing good physics, you're wrestling with the Champ." Robert Ingersoll: "The real miracles are the facts in nature." James Hogan: "If one wants to feel more than inarticulate wonder before mountains or buildings, it helps to understand the invisible mechanisms that support the visible beauty." Richard Feynman: "I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world. It's analogous to the feeling one has in religion that has to do with a god that controls everything in the whole universe: there's a generality aspect that you feel when you think about how things that appear so different and behave so differently are all run 'behind the scenes' by the same organization, the same physical laws. It's an appreciation of the mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works inside; a realization that the phenomena we see result from the complexity of the inner workings between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful it is. It's a feeling of awe--of scientific awe--this feeling about the glories of the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 169 universe." Henri Poincare: "The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so, he studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful." Nikola Tesla: "I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." Margaret Geller: "We would sit there absolutely mesmerized by [galaxy clustering]. We would stare at this thing over and over and over again. It was as if we were high on something." Carl Sagan: "Whenever I think about [the great accomplishments of science] I feel a tingle of exhilaration. My heart races. I can't help it. Science is an astonishment and a delight.... Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.... Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.... Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." A student of Arthur Eddington: "The Great Hall was crowded. The speaker was a slender, dark young man with a trick of looking away from his audience and a manner of complete detachment. He gave an outline of the Theory of Relativity, as none could do better than he. He led up to the shift of the stellar images near the Sun as predicted by Einstein and described his verification of the prediction. When I returned to my room I found that I could write down the lecture word for word. For three nights, I think, I did not sleep." Victor Weisskopf: "The Joy of Insight" Ayn Rand: "I will ask you to project the look on a child's face when he grasps the answer to some problem he has been striving to understand. It is a radiant look of joy, of liberation, almost of triumph, which is unself-conscious, yet self-assertive, and its radiance seems to spread in two directions: outward, as an illumination of the world--inward, as the first spark of what is to become the fire of an earned pride. If you have seen this look, or experienced it, you know that if there is such a concept as 'sacred'-meaning: the best, the highest possible to man--this look is the sacred, the not-to-be-betrayed, the not-tobe-sacrificed for anything or anyone. This look is not confined to children. Comic-strip artists are in the habit of representing it by means of a light bulb flashing on, above the head of a character who has suddenly grasped an idea. In simple, primitive terms, this is an appropriate symbol: an idea is a light turned on in a man's soul. It is the steady confident reflection of that light that you look for in the faces of adults--particularly of those to whom you entrust your most precious values. That light-bulb look is the flash of a human intelligence in action; it is the outward manifestation of man's rational faculty; it is the signal and symbol of man's mind. And, to the extent of your humanity, it is involved in everything you seek, enjoy, value or love." Peter Zarlenga: I am thought. I can see what the eyes cannot see. I can hear what the ears cannot hear. I can feel what the heart cannot feel. Yet I create Beauty for the eyes, Music for the ears, Love for the heart. They, ignorant of their ignorance, call me cold. Barren of Sight. Barren of Sound. Barren of Feeling. But it is I who am from which all comes. Given to the ungrateful. Unseen. Unheard. Unfelt.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 170 Ayn Rand: "I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world. It is my mind which thinks, and the judgment of my mind is the only searchlight that can find the truth. It is my will which chooses, and the choice of my will is the only edict I must respect. Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: 'I will it!' This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before. And now I see the face of god." From A Jewish Prayer Book: God, where shall I find Thee, Whose glory fills the universe? Behold I find Thee, Wherever the mind is free to follow its own bent, Wherever words come out from the depth of truth, Wherever tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, Wherever men struggle for freedom and right, Wherever the scientist toils to unbare the secrets of nature, Wherever the poet strings pearls of beauty in lyric lines, Wherever glorious deeds are done.

Jawaharlal Nehru: "Politics and religion are obsolete; the time has come for science and spirituality." Let us take spirituality out of religion.

* The Credo of a Rational Man As a rationalist, I am often chastised by faith-oriented people for not having anything to "believe" in. Although I have always dismissed as nonsense the notion that Belief must inevitably be grounded in Faith, it required many years of philosophical study for me to be able to make a specific statement of just what it is that I do Believe in. I believe that no snowflake ever lands on the wrong place. I believe, with Niels Bohr, that the laws of physics work--whether I believe in them or not. I believe in the Law of Identity. I believe in the primacy of Existence over Consciousness (and I see this manifest in the Quantum Physics). The greatest source of wonder and amazement I know is the interactive relationship between the Primary and Tertiary structures of nucleic acid molecules. I believe, with Einstein, that "Out yonder there is this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking." I believe, with Thoreau, that "Man's capacities have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what he can do by any precedents, so little has been tried." I believe that man is a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, non-aggression as his standard of social behavior, productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. I believe that reality is an objective absolute, existing independently of my consciousness. I believe that my mind is competent to achieve valid knowledge of reality, and that the values proper to me are objectively demonstrable. I believe that the basic function--the purpose--of consciousness is to perceive and understand the world: my mind must first perceive the independently existing world--then it must understand its perceptions--then I must use this understanding to govern my behavior so as to interact successfully with reality and thereby achieve my values. Job 40:7,10,14


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* Prayer People who engage in prayer have been persuaded that it has power, and that it gives them, however indirectly, some degree of influence over the future course of events. One of the things that atheists often overlook about prayer is that it actually does make a difference to the people who practice it (though not for the reasons that the practitioners assume): Prayer provides psychological comfort, it helps people live with mistakes that they think they can't live with, and it provides some antidote to feelings of fear and depression: if you can consciously acknowledge the existence of your weaknesses and guilts, they lose a great deal of their subconscious psychological power over you. The Confessional of the Catholic Church performs a valuable function in this area. The downside of all this is that it places most or all of the responsibility for what happens in the future into the hands of another (nonexistent) party. But if used within the appropriate intellectual/philosophical context, prayer can serve a quite different purpose: to assert your own self-responsibility, your own determination to act. To solidify in your mind not only the need to take action, but what action to take. The power of actually changing the course of events with your own mind and hands is much more compelling than reliance on a fantasy, thus what we need is some human and humane, non-mystical alternative to prayer. Because words must be backed by deeds to become real, prayers should be a kind of incantation or ritual that serves as a prelude to, or a means of focusing the mind on, the really important concern of finding a way to deal practically with reality. As Robert Heinlein observed: "Man lives in a world of ideas.... He abstracts certain characteristics of a given phenomenon as an idea, then represents that idea with a symbol.... Human reaction is almost entirely reaction to symbols." Our minds contain the world in symbolic form. The explicit awareness of the nature of those symbols can give us the power to shape the world to the achievement of our goals. Prayer: Are we talking to god, or just listening to ourselves?

* Oath An oath can concretize Purpose within your mind and give you an explicit, objective guideline for your actions. It can serve to focus your mind directly onto your goals. An oath of membership should have the effect of consolidating a number of individuals into a united group by its formal assertion of their common purpose and their responsibilities toward each other. A few examples of oaths that focus the mind: "May God grant me the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose it, and the strength to make it endure." "I now, in the presence of death, affirm and reaffirm the truth of all that I have said against the superstitions of the world." "I have seen my daughter, I have lain with my wife; now I will kill my enemies, and then I can die." "We are gathered to call desolation over evildoers. May the sorrow they have wrought and the wrath they have raised turn upon them. May our enemies suffer as we have suffered! May they feel our fire and steel as we have felt theirs! May their hearts beat fearfully for what they have done to us!" An officer's prayer: Oh, God, keep me safe. Oh, God, make me strong. And give these men the courage they need to follow after me. There are times when a man has a spiritual need to evoke the memory of those who have been associated with him in a value-oriented activity. It fixes in his mind the fullness of his existence - the knowledge that he is not alone in the universe: With a silent farewell to those few who had stood there before him, he turned away from the summit and started back down the slope. The spirits of samurai who had fought and died centuries earlier closed ranks around his soul. "If your thoughts and actions honor us," they told him, "you may draw from our spiritual strength and we will not abandon you."

* Marriage A marriage ceremony is a form of oath-taking that states the purpose of a relationship:


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 172 "I, Colin, take thee, Gwen, to be my wife, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, as long as thou wilt have me." "I, Gwen, take thee, Colin, to be my husband, to care for and love and cherish for as long as thou wilt have me." I will demand much of thee: All that thou art and all that thou canst be--and I will give unto thee all that I am and all that I can make of myself. In the name of the best within me, I pledge unto thee my troth. "Do you each individually swear that you will be true and loyal, each helping his chosen one in all things, great and small; that never, in thought or in action, will your mind or your body or your spirit stray from the path of truth and honor?" "By oak and ash and springtime-whitened thorn, through ages gone and ages to be born, by earth below, by air arising higher, by ringing waters, and by living fire, by life and death, I charge that ye say true if ye do now give faith for faith. We do. Place each a ring upon the other's hand, and may the sign of binding prove a band that joins the youth to maiden, man to wife, and lights the way upon your search through life. Farewell! And if the roads ye find be rough, keep love alive, and so have luck enough."

* Love Expressions of love can take on the character of an oath, stating the deepest meaning of one person's emotional response to another: "If you can show me beauty that I haven't found, And teach me secrets that I never knew, Lead me to vistas that I haven't seen, And fill each day with more of you, If you can share a soul that makes my soul grow greater, If you can teach my glance to see the sky, If you can make each year grow only shorter, Then so will I." "I have never had so much as now. All my life I've been alone. I would look into the huts and the tents of others in the coldest dark and I would see figures holding each other in the night. But I always passed by. You and I--we have warmth. That's so hard to find in this world. Let someone else pass by in the night. Let us take the world by the throat and make it give us what we desire." "I have nothing to offer you but my strength for your defense, my honesty for your surety, my ability and industry for your livelihood, and my authority and position for your dignity. That is all it becomes a man to offer to a woman--the devotion of a man's heart and the strength of a man's arm." "She kissed me. Me. She did. She does. She will. It cannot die until I do. What need I more than this? How wonderful the world is." "We shall light up for one-another a lamp in the temple of life. Aimless lumps of stone blundering through space will become stars singing in their spheres. An extraordinary delight and an intense love will seize us. It will last hardly longer than the lightning flash which turns the black night into infinite radiance. It will be dark again before you can clear the light out of your eyes, but you will have seen. And forever after you will think about what you have seen and not gabble catchwords invented by the wasted virgins that walk in darkness." I have seen rainbows and I did not curse the sky when they were gone. I have heard nightingales sing and I did not curse the forest when it was silent. I was grateful that I had seen and heard. And their memory is a thing that is beautiful to me yet. So it will be with you, if I turn and one day find you are gone. The memory and the beauty of you will make all my tomorrows a little warmer." "Our love is not over. This is the first, the most important, thing for you to know. We have said goodbye. That was at breakfast this morning. You kissed me. You smiled. It was perfect. We have said goodbye. And our love is not over. Our good-bye was perfect, as our love will always be. Forgive me for wanting that. Forgive me for fearing the other good-bye. My pain bringing you pain, your sadness bringing mine. Leaving you with the lie that there could be sadness between us. Have we lived our love so that wicked little cells, growing in darkness, could cheat us at the end? No. We cheat them. We say good-bye with a kiss and a smile. And our love goes on forever. What you must know is that in my last hours I have lived our life again, in tears of joy that so exquisite a life could have been mine. Now you must do something for me. You must live long and well. You must live as though you are saving each moment to share with me, in my arms, when we are together again. And if you find another love before your life is over, treasure those moments most of all, and know that nothing could make me happier." And if I go while you're still here Know that I live on, vibrating to a different measure.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 173 I wait for the time when we can soar together again. Until then, live your life to its fullest And when you need me, Just whisper my name in your heart, I will be there. Yes, I have made many mistakes in life. But you are not one of them. We make our own fortunes. I made mine the day I married you.

* Table Blessing Another example of the symbolic phenomena I am trying to portray is the almost universal practice of expressing gratitude at the supper table (I refer to this practice as "Table Blessing"). I believe this expression, although misguided in its religious aspect, has a profoundly important function in human life as a symbolic recognition of the importance of productive achievement. The sharing of a meal is an act symbolic of good will. So simple a thing, a lighted fire, yet it is a symbol of man's first great step toward civilization. How many times has it seemed as if a man, in offering fire and warm food, was saying, "See, I am a man, by these signs you shall know me, that I can make a fire, that I can cook my food." I have endeavored to contrive statements by which this phenomenon could be suitably expressed in an Objectivist household: My dear friends, let us pause in our proceedings for a moment and contemplate the nature and the source of the providence which we see before us on our table and around us in our lives. Let us look within ourselves and ask if we be worthy to partake of this bounty. Let us resolve to act so that the scales of Nature shall balance--so that all that we must take from the world for our sustenance we shall return to the world in like measure, giving thankful recognition to those who, in doing likewise, bring into being the civilization in which we live. Thank you. At this table, where we join for food and fellowship, we reaffirm our belief in truth, love, and the best ideals of family life. We celebrate this family's unity, its achievements, good fortune, and--for our children--their dreams and hopes for the future. On this occasion we pledge our mutual loyalty, promising to support each other in difficult times, however and wherever these occur. And as well as family, we welcome those treasured friends who share our celebration and affections. We should be thankful to our natures that we can earn our food and be thankful to ourselves that we have done so. As we have earned this food, so must we earn all that is valuable in our lives. Though our time be very short, let us break bread together and have some fellowship one with the other. And on a more whimsical note: We worked hard to pay for this food. We bought it from the folks who grew it. They got paid for it and then we put it on our table. We ain't thankin' anyone 'cause we earned it ourselves! Lets eat! The sun never sets on Ford tractors. Somewhere, right now, there is a Ford tractor working the land. Remember this when you break bread. A blessing (or a Wiccan Spell) for a wound: Blood! Obey me! Turn around, Be a lake and not a river. When you reach the open air, Stop! And build a clotted wall. Build it firm to hold the flood. Blood, your world is bounded. Stay there! A spell for a Band-Aid: Grip close, bind tight, Hold fast, close up, Bar the door, lock the gate, Build a wall, dry the flood. A blessing for a bicyclist: "May you roll till the wheels fall off."


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 174 A benediction to use on entering a home: Bless the master of this house, the mistress of this hall And all the little children here who run or walk or crawl. A blessing for an unborn child: Bless this child who sleeps inside May life and health within her surge May she with love and peace reside Until her time comes to emerge May she be born midst happy smiles And may her heart beat firm and strong May she run gaily through life's miles And live her years with joyful song For a baby: Bless this babe who squeeks and squalls Bless him as he creeps and crawls Bless the place he loves the best Asleep upon his momma's breast May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true. May you always strive for wisdom and have truth surrounding you. May your hands be always busy, may your feet be always swift. May you have a strong foundation when the winds of change do shift. May your heart be always joyful, may your life resound with song. May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. May these thoughts go with you always. May you stay forever young. For an adopted baby: Bless this child, not of your womb Within your heart let her find room Smile her smiles, kiss her tears And grow together through the years Chanson d'Ancien: Gently the sounds of life fade around me. A star appears, a cricket cries, the autumn breathes, the summer dies. I see a windblown leaf, a leaf that takes me through the air To spring's everlasting light. In summer, as I played beneath the trees, Little did I notice the leaves soaring on the coming winds of autumn, And that I was growing old. I feel my life fall from my body as so many autumn leaves. In this twilight I sense life and death as one, And all that is and was, resting in one frozen instant of time. A child is born, the moon is new. On winter's eve a snowflake falls where once the flowers grew. Does the peace of heaven wait within that newborn baby's smile? The sun shines down on sheets of snow, Transforming snow to fields of flowers. Now, in winter's last light, I know that I am the cause of my journey, And that my life is its own self-fulfillment. In this moment of gathering peace my heart fills with celebration. A blessing for a grave:


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 175 Warm summer sun, shine kindly here. Warm southern wind, blow softly here. Green grass above, lie light, lie light. Dark earth below, embrace and cherish.

* Art The essay "Art and Cognition" by Ayn Rand, which appeared in the April, May, and June 1971 issues of THE OBJECTIVIST, is an in-depth analysis of all forms of art. Art is the selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments. Metaphysical values are those which reflect an artist's fundamental view of the nature of man and the nature of the universe in which he lives. Cognitive abstractions identify the facts of reality. Normative abstractions evaluate the facts, thus prescribing a choice of values and a course of action. Cognitive abstractions deal with that which IS; normative abstractions deal with that which OUGHT TO BE (in the realms open to man's choice). Cognitive abstractions form the epistemological foundation of science; normative abstractions form the epistemological foundation of morality and of art. Romanticism is a category of art based on the recognition of the principle that man possesses the faculty of volition.

* Beauty Beauty is a concept of consciousness. It is the integration of one or more experiences of pleasure along with one or more observations of a manifestation of one's values. Here are a few examples of this: Jean Auel: "In Ranec's eye the finest and most perfect example of anything was beautiful, and anything beautiful was the finest and most perfect example of spirit; it was the essence of it. That was his religion. Beyond that, at the core of his aesthetic soul, he felt that beauty had an intrinsic value of its own, and he believed there was a potential for beauty in everything. While some activities or objects could be simply functional, he felt that anyone who came close to achieving perfection in any activity was an artist, and the results contained the essence of beauty. But the art was as much in the activity as in the results. Works of art were not just the finished product, but the thought, the action, the process that created them." [Ranec was an artist, thus his supreme value was the process by which art is created.] The artist said, "I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull." Richard Feynman replied, "First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people--and to me, too, I believe. Although I might not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is, I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. But at the same time, I see much more in the flower than he sees. I can imagine the cells inside, which also have a beauty. There's beauty not just at the dimension of one centimeter; there's also beauty at a smaller dimension. There are the complicated actions of the cells, and other processes. The fact that the colors in the flower have evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; that means insects can see the colors. That adds a question: does this aesthetic sense we have also exist in lower forms of life? There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds." [Feynman was a scientist, thus his supreme value was the process of gaining knowledge of the world of nature. He realized that a sharpened awareness helps us to make identifications that would otherwise elude us. The artist Constable studied cloud formation extensively and, as a consequence, painted clouds as no one ever had before. Leonardo Da Vinci made extensive studies of human anatomy to the same end. The more one learns, the better one sees. And too, emotions are enhanced by knowing, because knowing gives you a greater mental framework for the emotional experience. Knowing is the stepping stone for the process of planning specific responses which can complement an emotion or ensure that its immediate benefits can be maintained over time.] Every child in the world looks upon his mother and sees the most beautiful woman in the world, even though many mothers are not beautiful. Do you know why this is so? The child looks with love, and sees love returned. Love is what makes beauty. [The child is a child, and his supreme value is to be loved. Have you forgotten that?] From The Fountainhead:


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 176 "There were small houses on the ledges of the hill before him, flowing down to the bottom. He knew that the ledges had not been touched, that no artifice had altered the unplanned beauty of the graded steps. Yet some power had known how to build on these ledges in such a way that the houses became inevitable, and one could no longer imagine the hills as beautiful without them--as if the centuries and the series of chances that produced these ledges in the struggle of great blind forces had waited for their final expression, had been only a road to a goal--and the goal was these buildings, part of the hills, shaped by the hills, yet ruling them by giving them meaning." [Rand does not deny that there is an "unplanned beauty" in the natural setting of Monadnock Valley. But she seems to think that this natural beauty is only a stepping-stone to the greater beauty of human creation, which gives meaning to nature. Rand was deeply interested in meaning, and I think it is for this reason that she held aesthetics to deal mainly or even exclusively with art rather than the phenomena of nature. For Rand, meaning comes from conscious creation, not the "great blind forces" of nature.]

* The Need for and Function of Art and Beauty Man's need for art springs from the fact that he needs the ability to bring his widest abstractions into his immediate perceptual awareness. Every man seeks a confirmation of his own view of existence, and by concretizing this view into something that he can perceive directly, art is performing this function. Art can give both to the artist and the spectator the experience of seeing the full, immediate, concrete reality of his distant goals. Thus works of art are valuable to us if they reinforce our view of existence in any of its many aspects. The brief respite that is obtained from a flight of fancy into an imaginary world, or the feeling of beautiful rightness when music takes hold of the senses and your body moves in perfect accord with the rhythm it feels, are food for the soul. The world of nature is not a kind place towards living things. It is harshly indifferent to our well-being, and we must continually strive to maintain our existence--our very lives--in the face of inimical conditions. As the human brain evolved, and volitional behavior increased in significance, it became possible for man to explicitly recognize the harshness of nature--to lament: How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world! Oh, to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. Man became the only creature capable of deliberate suicide--the only creature requiring an intellectually deliberated motive for continuing his existence. To perceive beauty in a sunset, wonder in a rainbow, glory in a thundering waterfall, delicate charm in a hummingbird's iridescence, could only have infused early man's soul with a cause for continuing in the face of adversity. Thus could Beauty have come to serve an evolutionary function in human development: those who found beauty to be a pleasure and a value would have more incentive to continue with the struggle of life. As a fine old song puts it: Love is nature's way of giving A reason to be living.

* The Nature of Pleasure From "The Psychology of Pleasure" by Nathaniel Branden, in The Objectivist Newsletter Feb1964: "Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man's body works as a barometer of health or injury, so the pleasure-pain mechanism of his consciousness works on the same principle, acting as a barometer of what is for him or against him, what is beneficial to his life or inimical. But man is a being of volitional consciousness, he has no innate ideas, no automatic or infallible knowledge of what his survival depends on. He must CHOOSE the values that are to guide his actions and set his goals. His emotional mechanism will work according to the kind of values he chooses. It is his values that determine what a man feels to be for him or against him; it is his values that determine what a man seeks for pleasure." His feelings merely confront man with the need for action; they do not determine what the action will be nor whether it will be appropriate. It is his predominant philosophy that determines the action. (This is equally true of a culture, that's what makes this phenomenon important for assessing the future of


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 177 civilization.) For example: Hunger will impel a man to eat something--but it will not dictate precisely what that something should be. (Likewise, practical problems will impel a society to create institutions to deal with those problems.) The man's (or society's) knowledge, values and ideas will be the governing factors in what actions are chosen (or what institutions are created). Another example: Loneliness doesn't tell you WHO you need, only that someone is missing. It is up to you to define the emptiness of your soul, and make an appropriate choice of companions. Pleasure is like hunger or loneliness--it only tells you that something feels good, it does not tell you that the thing is actually beneficial to your life. Thus we see that a little child will get sick after indulging in the pleasure of eating too much candy, or an adult will die of lung cancer after indulging in the pleasure of smoking too many cigarettes. To hold pleasure itself as a fundamental value is to operate on the principle of hedonism. This view of life is not limited merely to those who seek continual stimulation by food, drink, and sex. Another form of the same principle is represented by the adventurer, who seeks the stimulant of risk. And another form can be seen in the connoisseur, who seeks refinement in his pleasures. Pleasure as a central value may take many different forms. The underlying flaw that unites them all is the attitude that the meaning of life lies in the immediate experience of pleasure. But in that immediacy lies the problem with making pleasure one's central value. Human life is lived through time. As Aristotle observed, it is the integrated sum of a lengthy series of events. Someone who pursues pleasure as a basic value tends to discover at some point that his life has not added up to anything, that he has drifted along without significant achievements. Pleasure pursued as a primary value leads to a hollow spirit, unlike the kind of enjoyment that is a response to values one has created. It is pleasing to see a beautiful garden, but there is a much deeper sort of pleasure in the sight of a garden one has designed, planted, and cultivated oneself.

* The Nature of Fiction To fully satisfy our need for spiritual inspiration, we need to nourish ourselves on ideas at a certain level of complexity and sophistication. Tolkien spoke of good fiction thusly: "...literary belief, the state of mind that has been called willing suspension of disbelief. But this does not seem to me a good description of what happens. What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful subcreator. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is true: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside. If you are obliged, by kindliness or circumstance, to stay, then disbelief must be suspended (or stifled), otherwise listening and looking would become intolerable. But this suspension of disbelief is a substitute for the genuine thing, a subterfuge we use when condescending to games or make-believe, or when trying (more or less willingly) to find what virtue we can in the work of an art that has for us failed." A basic tenet of Objectivism is that truth is the recognition of reality. The principle of Objectivist Epistemology which assumes prior certainty of existence indicates that we cannot invent physical things or concepts without referents in reality, and then declare them to be real. However, thoughts are real, and it is an observation of objective reality that man's thoughts include the creation and manipulation of abstract concepts and symbols. It is also observable that many of these creations have no physical identity of their own--such as Pegasus. But although they lack physical identity, these creations/concepts/symbols are real and are existents. We must just be careful not to confuse a concept created without a referent in reality with an actual physical being. You don't have to believe in Santa Claus, and you don't have to believe in unicorns, but what you MUST believe in are the concepts that are symbolized by Santa Claus and unicorns. Identity without physical existence is what fictions have. But we must recognize that it is not the sort of incontrovertible, indestructible, absolute identity that existents have; it is the identity ascribed to them, defined for them by their author and shared by his audience. None of us doubt that Hamlet and Ophelia have identity: Hamlet is not to be confused with Laertes. Yet none of these people ever existed and none ever will. Non-existence is a derivative concept which can be formed or grasped only in relation to some existent that has ceased to exist. This is the way in which the concept is formed intitially. But once it is formed


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 178 and grasped it can be applied to that which has never existed or even that which cannot exist. This is a perfectly valid use of the concept non-existence. One can hypothesize a non-existent concrete and then subsume it within an abstraction. To do so is to create a fiction. Consider it as "an entity in the subjunctive," the verb form used to express what is imagined or wished or possible. Not as "a thing is what it is," but "if a thing were, it would be...." I see two broad categories into which my thoughts can be divided: those which correspond to the real world (the reality domain) and those which do not (the imaginary domain). The Objectivist Epistemology is a splendid tool which enables me to make proper identifications in the former category and also to make a firm distinction between the two categories. The Objectivist Epistemology does not apply to the second category--and I do not think it needs to. The reality domain is a limited, circumscribed context. This domain is limited by the facts of existence and it is circumscribed by the principles of the Objectivist Epistemology, which serve to keep me very firmly in cognitive contact with the real world. The imaginary domain, on the contrary, has no limits. Imagination is the same sort of concept as freedom--they are both defined in a "negative" manner, as absences. Freedom is the absence of social constraint. Imagination is the absence of reality constraint. I must confess I am not entirely comfortable with the notion that there can be any entity in the universe that is not constrained by reality, but it seems quite clear to me that the human imagination is just such a thing. But then, if the universe itself can be infinite (i.e., unbounded) there could be within it an entity which is also unbounded. In spite of my misgivings, all my thoughts on this matter compel me to swallow the hard fact that there are no bounds on human imagination, and that it is not subsumed by the Objectivist Epistemology. I approached this by introspection of two of my thought processes: the act of creation and the enjoyment of works of fiction. When I invent some mechanical contraption, I begin by making a picture inside my mind of the device I want. I imagine all its parts and how they fit together and interact with one another. If something does not seem right I modify my mental picture of it, and eventually I come up with a picture of a device that I think will do the job. This picture may be of a device that I have never seen before, and as far as I know has never even existed. Therefore it is a fiction. But now comes the important part: sometimes this picture can be easily and straightforwardly transformed into fact, i.e., it corresponds precisely with the potentiality of the real world. On other occasions the picture must be modified considerably before such a transformation can occur. And I must confess there have been some pictures I have had to scrap entirely--the facts of reality simply do not allow them to be existentialized. I can see in this process that my mind is free to conceive ANY picture whatsoever. The only point at which I am constrained is when I try to make real my mental pictures. Only if my mind has been in close cognitive contact with reality can I do this. If I were to be constrained in my imaging to a factual corresponence with reality then I could never create (except perhaps by accident) something which had not previously existed. (I have for many years believed that all philosophers should be required to spend some time as practicing engineers--there would be a whole lot less nonsense in the field of philosophy if this were done.) I see the same process occur in the creation of intellectual entities. A lifetime of Science Fiction addiction has shown me that there are no bounds to the fictional worlds the human mind can imagine. Unfortunately, the attempted existentialization of some of these worlds is not quite the sort of simplistic scenario as my attempts to make real the sometimes clumsily-conceived physical devices that I imagine. Karl Marx believed he had conceived an excellent "social" device, but you all know very well what disastrous consequences have ensued from the attempts to make real that miserable scheme. This distinction between these two basic categories of human thought shows the value of the Objectivist Epistemology in keeping a firm grasp on reality, and also shows the basis of mental health: the ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy. These observations lead to an important link between science and fiction: without fantasy, science would have nothing to test.

* Dancing Rhythm is the periodicity of groups of recurring heavily and lightly accented notes which conform to a specific metered timing. Timing is simply the number of notes per measure of music. Tempo denotes the rate of speed these notes are metered in. Dancing is the manner in which the movements of the body are distributed and applied to notes of music, thus forming patterns of motion.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 179 The important things to remember are not only to find the correct note of music on which to start a dance step, but to perform it in its correct sequence while remaining on the proper note of each measure of music, at whatever tempo played. When you are able to move your body in correct pattern while placing it to the correct notes of the measure you will then have good timing and rhythm. You will then be a good dancer.

* The Destruction of Art under Statism A good story is one wherein the protagonist has to apply reason to bring order out of chaos. To apply the scientific method, in short. But this requires that the author portray independent thought and judgment in action--he must portray a character who interprets reality according to his own judgment. The artist and the State are natural enemies because the State insists upon being the sole interpreter of reality, and if the artist acquiesces in this function he abrogates his own metaphysical value-judgments and is thus bereft of the fundamental requirement for creating art. The Newspeak-bred, statist mentalities of most modern "artists" render them incapable of equaling even the perceptiveness of a good forger: they do not know what they are imitating, nor why it had been successful. They do not know the difference between trash and values and therefore are rarely able to produce anything of value, either in industry or in art. Movies, for example, are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them. Laughter is an expression of your own identity, your own perceptions and your own judgments. That's why it is so disliked by tyrants--except when it is mandated as a response to their view of humor.

* Miscellaneous Comments on Art A young would-be composer wrote to Mozart, asking advice as to how to compose a symphony. Mozart responded that a symphony was a complex and demanding musical form and that it would be better to start with something simpler. The young man protested, "But Herr Mozart, you wrote symphonies when you were younger than I am now." And Mozart replied, "I never asked how." Sitting beside him on a pedestal he had a piece of jade, a good-size chunk, almost as big as my head. Every once in a while he would turn it so it would catch the sunlight in a different way. One day I asked him what he was doing, and he said, "I'm trying to see what it is--there's something there I haven't captured yet, and when I do, I'll start carving." In a novel of ideas, the ideas have to work. The hand that can create these images and reveal the soul in them, and is inspired to do this and nothing else even if he starves and is cast off by his community and all his family for it: is not this hand the hand used by God, who, being a spirit without body, parts or passions, has no hands?


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 180

Chapter 11 THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF CIVILIZATION * Alienation * Principles have Consequences * Freedom/Slavery schizophrenia * Financial Manipulation * Standard of Living * Dependency * Dictatorship American Style * The Alternative of Freedom * Cultural Value-deprivation * Inheritance * Conservation - Environmentalism

* Alienation Everyone is in agreement that something is wrong with the world. Everybody senses that something monstrous is attacking the culture of America, but nobody can figure out exactly what it is. The reason civilization is declining may not be loss of resources, or the uncontrolled obsession to reproduce, or the decline of literacy, or the continuing increase in government tyranny, or any such thing. Those may be mere effects, while the real cause may be a collective subconscious revolt against this steel, concrete and machinery. Since we evolved among forests, do we dare cut down every tree on earth? The thousands of visible stars that defined the night sky for our ancestors are now too washed out for urban eyes to see. Our loss of the velvet night is profound. Not only have we lost the stars, we have lost even the night itself. Here in central Wyoming, I live in one of the least populated regions of the country. Even so, I must trek well up into the mountainous wilderness before I can experience a darkness that is not encroached upon by artificial lights. Along with darkness, we have lost silence. The incessant and inescapable clamor of modern civilization is pounding continually against our eardrums, hammering its way inexorably into our subconscious minds. Surely this must have similar consequences to the Newspeak phenomena that I discussed in Chapter 2. See reference There has been a social loss also. Many people exist like zombies, refusing to run the risk of interacting emotionally or intellectually with other people, but this leaves them with a vacant feeling in their hearts and minds so they switch on the TV and live vicariously, watching some actor having a make-believe experience when they no longer experience anything for themselves. This enables them to run no risk of being hurt but to experience emotions they are otherwise missing. But this counterfeit practice fills the need for emotional expression only until the next day, when it has to be fed again. Before TV, people had no phoney out. They had to get their emotional satisfaction from relating to other real live people. But today they have become a gum-chewing, bag-rattling crowd of couch potatoes. A crowd that wants its entertainment overplayed so that it won't have to think about what's going on. A crowd whose senses are so dulled that its laughter comes out of a can. A value-deprived crowd that doesn't want to reach OUT for a feeling or a meaning. It wants to be clubbed in the head with the meaning, so that it doesn't have to reach. A situation which hardly predisposes to virtue. Maybe man can survive on earth this way, but his dreams can't. There is too much "civilization" and it has crowded out all the dreams. And there's no LIFE left for anyone. Just day-to-day survival. Average life in America: you're born, you go to school, you grow into an adult and join the rat-race, you get a job to survive and pay taxes, then you die. Happiness and beauty are psychological necessities. That's why we experience beauty in such naturalworld phenomena as sunsets and rainbows, and why we experience happiness in successful valueachievement. But it must be authentic happiness--the brain is a natural, not artificial, organ. Many people


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 181 have very little authentic happiness. There is a difference between the joy of creative achievement and the mere pleasure of release from work. TV watching is not authentic. Nor is the mad scramble to earn a living while focused not on genuine productivity but on extraneous things like keeping up with the Joneses or keeping your boss satisfied. Nathaniel Branden once commented on "the biological forces deep within our organism that speak to us in a wordless language we have barely begun to decipher." I rather suspect that it is more likely the case that we have forgotten how to decipher their language. The trappings of civilization have cozened humans to sever their direct links with fundamentally important values and "the biological forces deep within our organism" that impel us to the achievement of those values. Thus we live in what Rand has so aptly described as a condition of "cultural value-deprivation."

* Principles have Consequences To understand the state of a society, one must discover the extent to which a given philosophy has been institutionalized and has penetrated the spirits of its citizens. On this basis, one can then explain a society's history--and forecast its future. This is what makes intelligible the fact of Hitler's rise, and the inevitability of America's decline. If you have been taught--and accept--that oppression is proper, then you will participate in a form of gradual social suicide. You will, as a matter of course, help to spread within your society the attitudes that must be nourished in order to accept oppression. (They are, after all, your own attitudes.) As a result, a greater and greater percentage of the population will come to embrace social institutions that eventuate in the self-destruction of society. (Thus the continual victories of collectivist politics.) For example: Starting with the premise that sacrifice is a fundamental requirement of human existence, it is inevitable that laws will be passed mandating sacrifices. The unwillingness of an individual to accept the sacrifices that "the law" demands will be perceived as a violation of civilized decency. Thus even if a man starts out as benevolent, a consistent application of the collectivist principle of sacrifice will drive him, against all his better feelings, to accept the necessity of violating individual rights. Here you see the indirect--and largely unrecognized--influence of philosophy on human existence. Principles do count. If we destroy the principles by which we live through cowardice, expediency, fear, or any other reason, we will destroy the basis of our existence. Imagine passengers riding on a train which, they have been told, is taking them to a distant utopia. At first all seems well, but as the train moves closer to its destination, the scene outside the windows becomes ominously bleak. Finally, the passengers catch sight of the destination. Instead of the utopia, they see starving children, chain gangs, and, in the distance, the barbed wire and sentry posts of a concentration camp. Frightened and angry, they attempt to negate their forward motion by running back INSIDE THE TRAIN. The attempt, of course, is hopeless; to save themselves, the passengers must get off the train altogether. In the same manner, the moral code of altruism will carry society to tyranny, regardless of short-term backpedalling. The only hope is to fully reject altruism and enable man's right to exist for his own sake.

* Freedom/Slavery schizophrenia It is prerequisite to mental health that a man be in spiritual contact with his own knowledge of reality. (See PSE chapter 6.) Thus an ignorant man, whose conceptual view of the world is limited, can live in a successful state of mental health if he will just recognize and act according to the view of reality he does have. However, a man with greater knowledge MUST recognize and act according to his advanced view or else he will be neurotic--by being out of spiritual contact with the reality he perceives. A man living under a totalitarian government, who has no real knowledge of what freedom is, will suffer a condition of enslavement, but if he does not misperceive his situation, then his only burden is that of being a slave. Citizens of the United States also suffer a condition of enslavement, but they have been taught that their nation was established in freedom, and that their ancestors were free, and all their lives they have been led to believe that they themselves are free. Devoutly but falsely believing themselves to be free, they refuse to acknowledge the fact of their enslavement. But the reality of that fact is inescapable. Once they are released from the school system and enter mainstream society, these slaves--having been thoroughly indoctrinated by the government with the notion that America is a free society and that they


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 182 are free people--immediately encounter such coercive phenomena as: selective service, driver's licenses, vehicle registration (read a New Hampshire license plate: "Live free or die"), income tax, property tax, business licenses, and the myriad regulations that control all aspects of their daily lives. Thus they have a double burden: the enslavement itself and also the psychological effects of the hypocritical discord between the reality they live in and the falsehood of their beliefs. The polite voice of a policeman is nothing more than a mocking, deceitful expression of tyrannous authority--the arrogant inhumanity of power--even if the policeman truly believes he is being polite! The fact of government's omnipotence over the individual renders his politeness a mere hypocrisy. In fact, the truant officer is a kidnapper; the tax collector is a thief; the soldier is a murderer. This all-pervasive hypocrisy also contributes greatly to the spread of dishonest behavior among the populace: most people have decided the system stinks because it is corrupt, in one way or another, so why should ordinary folks punish themselves by always being honest? Is it any wonder that the subconscious attempt of a mind to integrate the firm belief in freedom with the inescapable facts of slavery should result in massive psychological distress? Enough to drive one to drink--or addiction of an even more self-destructive nature--or even suicide. The victim has chopped himself into pieces which he struggles never to connect--and then he sees no reason why his life is in ruins. Not knowing precisely what has happened to his life nor who to blame, he sees only that the quality of life has shockingly deteriorated, and that life is now so beset by apprehension for the future, difficulty in remaining solvent, and actual physical danger, that it is hardly worth living any more. His life has been a slow slide into self-administered anesthesia, a bleak life, the frustration of which is like a slow-acting acid on his soul. He survives by becoming less and less sensitive, until he no longer cares even for himself. This is the cause of his apathy and lack of emotion. One can respond emotionally only to something for which one cares. And it is immensely difficult for him to fight this situation: having had his concept of freedom thoroughly depraved, he lacks the derivative concepts needed for active resistance to tyranny. When I hear someone say that Americans are free, I consciously and explicitly recognize that statement to be false. I also know subconsciously that it is false. Thus there is no conflict between my conscious mind and my subconscious mind. When you hear the same statement, you consciously and explicitly accept it as true. Your subconscious mind, however, knows--because of its inability to integrate the contrary observations you have made--that the statement is false. In order to avoid the psychologically devastating (or at least distressing) process of seeing your most cherished beliefs refuted, you must suppress the knowledge in your subconscious mind--so that it will not conflict with your consciously held convictions--and accept only a selected subset of your observations. You must divide your mind into two parts: the set of observations that you consciously accept, and that other, disturbing, set of observations that contradict your conscious beliefs. As time passes, this alienation process becomes more pervasive, as you come to deny a larger and larger body of your observations, and it becomes more intense, as you force yourself to deny a more and more important body of observations. Since a basic function of the human mind is the process of integration, this continual segregation process results in a growing nervous tension, as your subconscious mind tries harder and harder to integrate these two bodies of knowledge. Eventually there may occur an explicit recognition of this conflict, accompanied by a emotional trauma proportional to the amount and degree of segregation that had previously occcurred. The rage and frustration resulting from this trauma (and/or from the sudden destruction of your most cherished beliefs) may so seriously derange your mental processes that you drive your pickup truck through the front door of a restaurant and kill a dozen people. A man can accept enslavement--after all, most people throughout history have lived in a state of enslavement, and they have accepted this (although in many cases they did not like it at all). But what a man CANNOT do is believe that he is free while simultaneously realizing that he is a slave. It is not possible to integrate a contradiction. Any attempt to do so will make you insane. This is a major reason why half the hospital beds in America contain people who have mental, not physical, illnesses. Being unable to resolve the conflict between their environment and their upbringing, they wind up in mental institutions. It is also a major contributor to the widespread cultural derangement, and its accompanying violence, that so plague modern America. Facts are facts, whether you believe in them or not. They are immutable. The thing that depends on your cognizance of them is not the reality of the facts, but the effectiveness of your behavior--and your mental health.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 183

* Financial Manipulation When you manufacture products, you add value to raw materials, and you literally create wealth. But America is turning more and more to a different economic perspective: Americans make money now by paper manipulation, the error of which is bound to catch up to us because paper profits don't reflect real wealth. The fascination with Wall Street and junk bonds is so misplaced as to be crazy. Instead of goods, services, and work--realities of the physical world--Keynes' economic realities are mere symbols: money and credit. The advice of economic counselors is usually very good in times of affluence when the game is played with intangibles such as dollars, stocks, bonds, etc. These things have value in the same sense that bubble gum cards have great value among children. But a dollar is no more money than a hatcheck is a hat. Sooner or later you've got to have a real hat. Contrast the great fortunes of the early 20th century with those of the late 20th century. Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford made vast fortunes, but these were productive fortunes: they produced steel, oil and automobiles. The great fortunes of the 1980s resulted not from production, but from manipulation of financial assets. Never have so many made so much in return for producing so little. The world no longer has the patience for long-term investments. The vast increase of government interference in the market has resulted in a general economic thrust away from far-sightedness and the building of capital for the future, and toward destructive short-term looting of the stock of capital. Political Man is narrow-minded and short-sighted. He loots resources for short-term benefit. It is capital ownership in the free market that encourages Economic Man to look to the future, to safeguard resources in order to maintain their long-term value on the market. The increasing scope of government's control and its associated transfers of property rights from private individuals to government or to political interest groups undermines the private property arrangements that support a free market system. This process creates considerable uncertainty about the future value of those private rights that have not yet been taken. When resource owners are relatively uncertain about their continued ownership of those resources, they tend to use them up relatively rapidly and have less incentive to enhance future production capabilities. Resources are then overused and underproduced.

* Standard of Living I recently came across a prediction made by futurists back in the 1950s: "People in the 1980s will be commuting from their rooftops via personal helicopters, filing flight plans instead of fighting freeways." I got to thinking about this and said "Why not? There is no technological reason why personal helicopters are not widely available, or perhaps small VTOL aircraft." This led me to a related line of inquiry--a comparison of the American standard of living of the 1950s with that of the 1980s. Has it been going up? Down? Remaining about the same? Or is this a spurious question? It might be better to ask "Whose standard of living?" Some people do better, some do worse. Is it even possible to measure an aggregate "standard of living"? And what is the difference between the state of the economy and the standard of living of the people? I think there is a difference. I can conceive of a healthy, robust and growing national economy in which most people have a rather low standard of living (compared with what we have today). This would be true of America in the first half of the 19th century. The country was free, the economy was growing rapidly and uninhibitedly, but the people were starting from a rather low standard of living. On the other hand, during the 1930s most people were materially better off than their ancestors had been a century previously--but the nation's economy was in dismal condition. I surmise that "state of the economy" could be measured in absolute terms, but "standard of living" is only comparative. My tentative conclusion is that people have more material wealth today, but they have to work more to get it. So is their standard of living higher or lower? I don't know. Think back to the fifties (if you are old enough to do so), when an American family of three or four could live comfortably on the income earned by the father, the sole breadwinner of the family. That father could own a house, raise a family, and send the kids to college, all on a single paycheck. Today, however,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 184 one income alone will usually not suffice for a comfortable living for such a family. Both parents must work, and still many families can't even afford a house. In a family of my acquaintance, the father, the mother, and the teenage daughter (this is the entire family) all work full-time jobs. And I don't think this is at all unusual. The dollar buys less, everything is more expensive. People struggle just to hold on to what they have, and can't seem to get ahead. Here are some data from the 1992 edition of the US Statistical Abstract:

Families with working wives 1950:24% 1991:58% Families with working children 1960:6% 1982:12% Percent of total population employed 1960:29% 1990:44% Here is a comment by Harry Browne, from his book HOW YOU CAN PROFIT FROM THE COMING DEVALUATION. (Published in August, 1970): Can you imagine being asked to pay $3500 for a Volkswagen? That's stretching your imagination quite a bit, I realize. And yet that day may not be very far away. And here is an item from NEWSWEEK magazine, August 29, 1977: After 28 years in the US market, the homely little Volkswagen Beetle is on its way out. Last week, after sales of 5 million models, Volkswagen stopped shipping them here. Since 1968 the Beetle's base price has raced from $1699 to $3699.

No matter how much more wealth per capita improving technology makes possible, it seems there is always something to soak up the surplus and condemn ordinary people to a lifetime of labor. And then at the end, Greenspan & Co. recently (in 1983) arranged to knock two years off your retirement by increasing the Social Security starting age from 65 to 67. No matter how much productivity increases, people never seem to work less, only differently. So if they don't reap the fruits, who does? Who sucks up the surplus? For every worker there is at least one drone--someone who "works" for government or who is being supported by government, so you are working enough to support at least two people. People today have a lot of material goods, but they have a crushing burden of debt and very little equity. In 1950, about one-third of the after-tax income of the average family was used to pay off debts. By 1980 that proportion had risen to three-quarters. America is a nation that has forgotten how to finance growth through earnings rather than debt. In the early 1960s, interest payments made by American corporations were 5% of their cash flow. By 1989 that had risen to more than 20%. This makes them more vulnerable than in the past to an economic downturn. If falling sales hit their cash flow, and many find themselves unable to service their debts, a wave of bankruptcies could follow in a domino effect as one company's inability to pay reduces another's cash flow even further. A key to the continued existence of any business is its ability to generate a stream of profits sufficient to finance future capital expenditures for replacement and growth. Small or large, it doesn't matter--this fundamental economic requirement must be satisfied. But the profits of American businesses are more and more being eaten up by interest payments and government regulations. This bodes ill indeed for future prosperity. Throughout history some nations gain power while others lose it. The evidence shows that nations that pursue policies of respect for an independent economic sphere--private property, the market economy, sanctity of contracts, low taxes, sound money, free trade, and unrestricted experimentation with technological advancements--tend to grow the fastest, establishing national bases of tremendous


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 185 economic power. But this economic power always tempts governments to seize control over it, so they can pursue policies of military expansion and foreign adventurism or, in general, for the basic purpose of aggrandizing governmental institutions. But these policies become parasitic on the very forces that led to the economic growth in the first place; nations become militarily and bureaucratically top-heavy and overextended, saddled with debt and high taxes, and ever resistant to further change and necessary economic adjustments. In the end, such nations are usually wrecked by a growing disparity between statist ambitions and economic realities. We can see this happening in America in those areas (especially inner-city ghettos) where there is a growing similarity of life to that of some Third World nations where all attempts of enterprising people to rise in life and make something of themselves are systematically squelched by the reigning bureaucracy. For the last hundred years in America, statist intervention tried to preserve and even extend an industrial economy, while scuttling the very requirements of freedom and the free market which in the long run are necessary for its survival. For decades, statist intervention could wreak its depredations without causing clear and evident crises and dislocations, because the free-market industrialization of the nineteenth century had created a vast cushion of "fat" in the economy against such depredations. But now statism has advanced so far and been in power so long that the cushion is worn thin; the "reserve fund" created by laissez-faire has been depleted. So that now, whatever the government does brings about an instant negative feedback--ill effects that are evident to all--and what had been a problem solvable by free-market pricing and advancing technology has become a complex puzzle the resolution of which will require the complete dismantling of an all-pervasive system. But can the dismantling occur without catastrophe? Consider just one aspect of it: If all government subsidies were ended tomorrow morning, without any changes in the economy having been effected first, there would be much suffering, and perhaps even starvation, for those on welfare. The government is very cunning, and the economy of America is very resilient. But though the government may be very flexible, the principles it is violating are not--and sooner or later the causes being implemented will have their inexorable effects. The people I really feel sorry for are the little children--who will have to live with those effects as they become adults.

* Dependency The parameters of any social system are continually changing. Government power is one of the most significant of these changes. Major changes are a normal part of life. Their impacts, however, have intensified. Or perhaps it is the destructive impact of government's responses to calamities that has intensified, as government power has grown. The only social systems that can persevere are those capable of modifying themselves to accomodate changes. But rigidly-structured government institutions are relatively inflexible as compared with decentralized, anarchic societies. Thus the greater prosperity, growth, and security of the freer societies as opposed to the poverty, stagnation, and uncertainty of life in the tyrannies. Where people depend on government, they are very susceptible to uncontrollable and arbitrary changes in their situation, changes which it may be difficult or impossible to accomodate. In terms of systemic development, America's present food-supply system is the most complex and allencompassing that has ever existed, thus America is in a uniquely vulnerable situation. Here are the percentages of the USA population living in rural areas and selling more than $1000 (in 1980 dollars) of farm products each year: 1920 30% 1930 25% 1940 23% 1950 15% 1960 9% 1970 5% 1980 3% 1990 2% 2000 .7% Throughout history, the vast majority of famines have occurred in societies in which well over 90% of the population were farmers. Even so, those famines were disasters. How infinitely worse would be a failure of the American food-supply system today, with so few of us being in a position to provide our own food. Not only are Americans off the land, they have been off for generations and now have neither


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 186 the knowledge nor the ability to get back on. Thus any systemic collapse that interrupts the food-supply would result in a famine of unprecedented scale. This same conclusion can be drawn in regard to other "life support" systems in America. There are numerous examples of the frightening dependency Americans have on fragile systems. Millions who are now on Valium or other narcotic tranquilizers might go insane if their supply were cut off. A severe disruption in the flow of petroleum-based fuel would have catastrophic consequences on life in America. As would a failure in the major electric power grids. A simple edict of the government, a terrorist bomb, or a collapse in the value of the dollar is all it might take to severely disrupt such things as the supply of medicine, electricity, propane, petrol or anything else (especially food) which is centrally controllable in its production and distribution and therefore susceptible to government interference. If the electric power went off in Wyoming in the middle of winter, people would die. (A few years ago it did just that for four days--and indeed, some people did die.) This possibility should scare everybody--but hardly anybody even thinks about it. My idea of anarchism is not just opposition to a centralized State, but the advocacy of as much economic decentralization as is feasible for a civilized life. For example, I would like to see a solar panel on everybody's roof, and the consequent extinction of the power companies. Not that I have anything against the power companies (except, of course, when they have a legal monopoly on utility provision), but I am opposed to the institutionalized life-support dependency that they represent.

* Dictatorship American Style The Nazis and the Communists achieved their power not by destroying, but by subverting, the capacity of their citizens to implement values. They simply used propaganda to swindle the citizens into implementing values that the governments had chosen. Today in America it is realized that any similar attempt would soon be recognized, by comparison with the tactics of the Nazis, and rejected. So today's American totalitarians must use another means to accomplish their ends--a different kind of swindle: Newspeak. Thus has been taken the next step in philosophical degradation: the individual's capacity to implement values has not merely been subverted--it has been destroyed. An understanding of the subversion process leads readily to a comprehension of the Nazi and Communist systems. But what of a system in which individuals are bereft of the motive to achieve any values at all? For their future I can see only a slide--or collapse--into total chaos. If a dictator were to rise up and command them, would they obey? This problem is compounded in America, where the "dictator" is not a value-oriented individual but is a bureaucracy itself comprised of value-deprived individuals. No centralized, cohesive, value-oriented structure can arise from the American populace. I am inclined to prognosticate a future for America not of dictatorial tyranny, but of a chaos in which barbarians will overrun and destroy civilization. Not the sort of barbarians from without who overran the Roman civilization, but a new sort of barbarians from within--the illiterate, non-cognitive, valueless denizens of America's inner cities, who will rise up in their unfocused outrage and destroy everything. The American political structure does not have the potential to function cohesively in a dictatorial manner such as the Nazi government did; it contains too many disparate and mutually conflicting subgroups. Through the system of checks and balances the Founding Fathers established a political system whose operation is independent of the moral character of any of its temporary officials--a system impervious to political subversion. However, there are economic ramifications to this idea: whereas the Nazis and the Communists channeled their nations' economic power into the lifeblood of centralized government, the American government is merely dissipating the nation's economic power into porkbarrel projects proposed by the myriad of competing federal and state bureaucracies. It is much more likely that all these will collapse from economic anemia than that they will coalesce into a centralized tyranny. Along with this, voters in America will keep on clamoring for the government to violate the laws of nature. Perhaps the most significant difference between the American government and a totalitarian government is that a totalitarian government can have a form of institutionalized intelligence, but the American form of government is absolutely brainless. A dictatorial government at least has the unifying mind of the dictator behind it. A democracy has no mind behind it. For this reason it is unlikely to become a centralized tyranny, for it cannot select and implement a unifying central theme. Even with the imposition of martial law, could the FedGov deploy enough troops to control the entire country? And do so without the consent of the local authorities, who control the local police? As a local


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 187 policeman once remarked to me: "The Lander police are not governed by the Supreme Court, but by the laws of the State of Wyoming. We do not change our behavior until we get a ruling from the State government." Before a dictator could arise in America, the present political structure would have to be largely or completely abolished. What would another civil war be like in this country if the participants were not divided into geographical factions? Maybe like the Spanish Civil War? But that was a strongly ideological war, and my contention here is that Americans lack ideology, so who would fight? Real power is institutionally dissipated into a large number of separate foci and there is no provision for its centralization. There is one, and only one, group in America that comprises a potentially effective totalitarian entity: the police. Their communally held goal is to exercise total dominance and control over the citizens. If, in the implementation of this, they can obtain the full cooperation of the other agencies of government, America may become literally a police state, with the rest of government functioning primarily as a supportive substructure for the police. It will probably not be the sort of centrally organized police state that is common throughout the world, because the American police are not centrally controlled, but they are coordinated and cooperative. And speaking of a "totalitarian entity," I must remark that the "Department of Homeland Security" scares the holy hell out of me! I would remind you of the initials RSHA, which stood for Reichssicherheitshauptamt which, freely translated, would be: "Reich Homeland Security Administration." It was formed in 1939, incorporating the Gestapo, the Criminal Police and the Security Service (S.D.). During the following years its authority increased to encompass many horrible things, including the administration of the concentration camps. As of 2005, the primary explicitly stated goal of the DHS is to gain control over all the country's means of transportation. What will be next? I see the DHS as being a means by which the federal government will, by suitable manipulation of its purse strings, centralize its control over all the police forces in America. Then we really will have a police state! Since the time of Hitler and Stalin, our age has lacked easily identifiable villains of stature commensurate with their crimes against humanity. No longer the transgressions of exceptionally cruel and notable individuals, evil has been bureaucratized by the twentieth-century State and made the charge of relatively faceless functionaries, small in character and comprehension. Who knows the names of those who burned little children in Philadelphia and Waco? Throughout the modern world, natty figures in suits or uniforms have carried out monstrous suppressions, uprootings, and exterminations without entering the pages of history as striking despots. Considered individually, their outstanding characteristic is their mediocrity. There are no large-scale villains anymore, only colorless bureaucrats competing for common power and common booty. So much evil is done by people with innocent faces. There now flourishes a class of State-funded social "scientists" whose professional status requires an ideology to justify the continuance of State funds. Their work consists in discovering and defining particular "social problems" which will become the material for the furtherance of their activity. An army of jailers, social workers, psychologists, therapists, sociologists, counselors, and other petty bureaucrats have swollen the payrolls of government and public institutions. In order to justify their budgets, they have had to postulate ever newer and more threatening social pathologies from which they can claim to protect us. More and more areas of life have been criminalized at the same time as the techniques of surveillance, interrogation and repression have been extended, refined and made more powerful. For all these groups the "discoveries" of child abuse, sexual abuse and drug abuse have been godsends. And each has benefited from the others' legitimization of an attitude of repressive intolerance for any nonconformist belief or practice. For example: Homosexuality is the name we give to the preference for sexual intercourse with members of one's own sex. Would calling preference for marriage with members of one's own race and religion "homoraciality" and "homoreligiosity" make them mental diseases? Would the members of the American Psychiatric Association vote on whether or not they are mental diseases? (See Chapter 7 * The War On Drugs) See reference One of the most scary aspects of modern American society, a phenomenon that bodes ill indeed for the future, is the "we'll save your soul" mentality of the psychiatric profession. This resembles in a fundamental way the attitude of the Spanish Inquisition. Some of these horrifying monsters want to get


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 188 their icy fingers of control into your mind without any regard whatsoever for rationality or your moral, ethical, or legal rights. People with no drinking problem say they have no drinking problem, but the alcohol-counseling "therapists" say that denial of a problem is the first indication there is one. Psychologist Adrian Raine of USC observes that teaching parents more consistent, less coercive discipline techniques reduces their kids' misbehavior, and concludes: "We should make parenting skills classes compulsory for high school students." The idea that "we shall coerce you into learning how to be non-coercive" is a gruesome self-contradiction. The next step in this process is to reconceptualize crime as a "disorder" and explain criminal behavior as the product of "disease" rather than choice. For example, C. Ray Jeffery, criminologist at Florida State University, maintains: "If we are to follow the medical model, we must use neurological examinations in place of the insanity defense and the concept of guilt. Criminals must be placed in medical clinics, not prisons." Diana Fishbein, professor of criminology at the University of Baltimore: "Treatment should be mandatory. We don't ask offenders whether they want to be incarcerated or executed. They should remain in a secure facility until they can show without a doubt that they are selfcontrolled. They should be held indefinitely." Another ghastly example: "In an unjust society a man may violate laws for valid social or economic reasons. In a just society there are no valid reasons except mental illness. Recognizing this fact protects the violator as well as the society whose law he attacks. It affords the violator an opportunity to be quarantined until his illness can be expertly treated. Therefore you see how vital it is that investigators have their own psychological consciousness raised so that they may detect those subtle signs of the pathology before the deviant has a chance to violate the law. It is our duty to spare society from injury and to save a sick man from the consequences of his acts." This raises the prospect of a tyranny so malevolently vicious as to be incomprehensible to any sane mind. It is one thing to convict someone of a crime and then compel them to do something. It is another thing entirely to seize upon someone who has not done anything wrong and say, "You look like a high risk, so we will force you to do what we wish." I see an imprisoned mind frantically blundering from framework to framework, pursued inexorably by the psychosurgeon with the implements of torture in his hands--a mind trying to find a framework which the psychiatrist will approve and so slacken the torture. The psychiatrists call this a return to sanity, but is it really anything more than a coerced psychopathic attempt to escape from an insanely impossible situation? During recent years there has been an explosion of cases in which adult men and women--most frequently, young women undergoing psychotherapy--have seemingly remembered childhood sexual abuse that they had forgotten for years or even decades. Are these memories accurate recollections of terrible traumas, or artificial phantoms of events that never happened? Have therapists developed effective new memory-retrieval techniques, or have they employed misguided procedures that surreptitiously help to create the memories? Indeed, examinations of the interview techniques used by these "therapists" reveal many cases of blatantly suggestive lines of inquiry. Are the patients who recover memories of sexual abuse being empowered to speak out, or are they being impelled away from the truth and toward a psychological frame-of-reference that the therapist finds more desirable? Many therapists have reported on patients who have clearly recalled savage acts carried out by satanic cults. Yet in most instances, no memories of ritual brutality existed prior to the therapy, and no one has produced hard evidence of such acts. Investigations by the FBI of more than 300 such cases have failed to turn up any proof. These reports include bizarre but fascinating cases in which people "remember" exceedingly improbable events such as past lives and alien abductions. Multiple-personalities are often fabricated in therapy, but just as often, once the patient ends therapy the memories are retracted and the pseudo-personalities are abandoned. A growing number of people are renouncing ALL their "recovered" memories. Some therapists interpret patients' symptoms as "implicit memory"--that is, nonconscious effects of experience on subsequent behavior and cognition. They cite this as justification for interpreting their patient's fears, dislikes or attractions as subconscious "memories" of abuse. Many trauma therapists infer that a woman who hates bananas is necessarily reacting subconsciously to a memory of her fathers's erect penis.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 189 In an attempt to buttress this turpitudinal twaddle, some analysts have proposed something called "robust repression" a special mechanism which could cause someone to forget completely about years of repeated sexual trauma. But there is a dearth of scientific evidence that extensive, severe sexual trauma can be pushed into the subconscious through a mechanism of memory repression. Validated research indicates that emotionally traumatic experiences tend to be quite well remembered. Other practicioners dispense outright with any attempt at rational justification: On being asked to cite scientific support for her ideas, Ellen Bass (one of the foremost propounders of the "memory recovery" movement) replied: "Look, if we waited for scientific knowledge to catch up, we could just forget the whole thing. My ideas are not based on any scientific theories." On the other hand, extensive laboratory research indicates that suggestion and other factors can lead to profound memory distortion. There are solid indications that a phenomenon known as source amnesia (in which a person forgets the source or context in which a memory originated) renders people vulnerable to induced memory distortions. When people cannot remember the source of a memory, they are apt to confuse whether it relects an actual event, a fantasy, or something that was suggested to them. When there are no external records that you can refer to, even the outline of your own life loses its sharpness. Therapy techniques that involve visualizing or imagining abusive incidents are used as a first step toward inducing remembrance of them. Thus a therapist who believes in the reality of forgotten abuse can help "validate" imagined experiences as bonafide memories. There is no scientific documentation of the efficacy of these techniques but there is good reason to believe that they pose a danger because they encourage patients to blur the line between imagination and memory. The September 1997 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN contains an essay by Elizabeth Loftus, the president of the American Psychological Society, on the subject of implanted memories. She contends that the mechanisms underlying such false memories are not known. However, Nathaniel Branden, in his identification of Social Metaphysics, presented an explanation of the psychological principles underlying this phenomenon over 30 years ago. (see Chapter 10 of his book THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELFESTEEM.) In Chapters 8 and 9 of his book, THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD, (Ballantine Book #345-409469) Carl Sagan deals with the unreliability of memory, memory manipulation, fraud, hallucination and fantasies. Taken together, these considerations lead inexorably to the conclusion that some therapists have helped create pseudo-memories of events that never occurred. If these therapists are causing the same emotional and psychological trauma as an actual rape or sexual assault, they, like those who physically victimize people, deserve moral condemnation. I strongly suspect that those people who are so intensely concerned with getting you to remember and re-live distressing experiences are not so much concerned with identifying the experiences as they are with tyrannizing your mind, with raping your soul. Fundamentally, they are no different from any other kind of tyrant. In 1952, Hans Eysenck of the University of London reported the results of an "outcome-of-therapy" study of neurotics that showed that 44% of the patients who received psychoanalysis improved; 64% of the patients who received psychotherapy improved; and 72% of the patients who received no treatment at all improved. Studies of antidepressants conducted over the past 30 years showed that two thirds of the patients placed on medication either showed no improvement or responded equally well to a placebo as to the antidepressant; drugs produced significantly superior outcomes in only one third of patients. In a 1995 conference on Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice, one participant asked whether a therapist might aid a patient simply by doing or saying nothing. Another described a patient who began to improve after deciding to spend her therapy sessions sitting alone in her car in her therapist's driveway. At a 1996 convention of the American Psychological Association, these observations were made: Freudians cannot point to unambiguous evidence that psychoanalysis works, but neither can proponents of more modern treatments, whether Jungian analysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy or even medications. Indeed, claims about the "wonder drug" Prozac notwithstanding, numerous independent studies have found that drugs are not significantly more effective than "talking cures" at treating the most common ailments for which people seek treatment. These, and similar findings, have never been refuted, and other studies have confirmed their negative results, no matter what type of therapy was used. How, in all good conscience, can therapists and


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 190 psychiatrists continue to practice? Many patients report more satisfaction with Alcoholics Anonymous than with any of the mental-health professionals or medications. That scholars still debate Freud's ideas suggests that the profession's grasp of the mind is still rather tenuous; after all, experts on infectious diseases do not debate the validity of Louis Pasteur's ideas. The theoretical framework within which therapists work has little or nothing to do with their ability to "heal" patients. That "healing" stems, rather, from the therapist's ability to make patients BELIEVE they will improve. In other words the placebo effect is the primary active ingredient underlying all psychotherapies and even most drug treatments. It is surmised by some critics that placebo treatments have succeeded simply because they allow healing while not harming. To conclude, I would like to comment on a noteworthy exception to the above dismal account: the work of philosopher-psychologist Nathaniel Branden. Rather than trying to manipulate your mind, he stresses the importance of self-responsibility and provides you with the philosophical and psychological tools by means of which you can do the job YOURSELF. The ideas he presents show clearly that, although these "tyrants of the mind" can manipulate uncertainty and self-doubt, they cannot manipulate self-esteem. Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. I told the last psychiatrist I met that I would make an appointment with him just as soon as I decided he was saner than I am. From the wall-eyed look he gave me, I think he considered me to be overdue already.

* The Alternative of Freedom In early 1991, Mary Margaret Glennie claimed that she had received over 600 inquiries, about half of whom were serious about moving, and that thirty libertarians had actually taken up her suggestion to move to Fort Collins, Colorado. Although her idea is, in principle, a good one, I think her implementation of it is specious. The population of Fort Collins is 88K, a number hardly likely to be affected by even a large influx of libertarians. If she could instead get 30 libertarians into Loving County, Texas, they would constitute a substantial fraction of its population of 107. I first saw this idea for a "gathering of libertarians" in an essay in Reason magazine about 1985. That was the only sensible presentation of the idea that I have ever seen, as it gave an estimate of the potential political impact of such a gathering on several locales chosen for their low population. Every one of the numerous subsequent proposals (including Mary Margaret's) has merely suggested that the gathering should occur at the location where the author happens to reside! All these people expect everyone else to bear the inconvenience of relocating--none of them is serious enough about implementing the proposal to be willing to move themselves to a location where such a gathering would have political significance. I have been watching the "new country" and "libertarian enclave" movements for many years and have yet to see any of them get off the ground (or out of the water--with the island-based projects). They have all been schemes requiring mass participation (such as the Fort Collins proposal): if they can't enlist thousands (literally!) of libertarians, then their time and energy are mostly wasted. I think that this has been a major factor in the failure of these projects, and that if they were focused on individual participation for personal benefit rather than on mass involvement for political suasion they would have a much higher probability of success. They should be arranged in such a way that success does not depend on the number of participants, and should be set up so that an individual can see a personal benefit to be gained by participating. No immediate personal benefit would ensue to me from moving to Fort Collins-that's why I won't do it, and that's why that project will never get off the ground: few others will do it either. It's really an unfortunate waste--if the advocates were to devote their energy to freeing THEMSELVES as individuals they would no doubt achieve considerable success, but they're wasting their lives in futile attempts to "free the world." I don't believe a thousand people are required--or 200--or even 20. If there were just TWO people in this country who really wanted to be free they would find each other, and profit from a mutual association. The LP has been presented to the American people continually since 1972, but never has it gained the support of more than a tiny fraction of the general electorate. As of July 1995 the LP has fewer than 20K members and has only about 140 people holding elected office. This represents about one one-hundredth of a percent of the elected officials in America, yet the LP hypes it as a significant success. It has been argued that untapped support for the LP lies in the 50+% of the population that does not participate in politics, but the Australian experience belies this. The LP has made no more headway in


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 191 Australia than in the USA. Leonard Peikoff claims there is still time and opportunity to save America: "The American spirit has not yet been destroyed.... There is only one antidote to today's trend: a new, pro-reason philosophy." He does not mention the history of the Libertarian movement during the 1970s, when a new, pro-reason philosophy was indeed presented to the American people. They turned it down. David Kelley makes the same error, claiming that the American body politic is "a public that is hungry for values." If, as Kelley believes, the public is hungry for values, I wonder how he would explain that public's enormous rejection of the LP. (Neither Peikoff nor Kelley are libertarians. What they advocate is merely a variant of political conservatism.) What would it take to convince these men that the American voters do not want a libertarian alternative? In any case, after 1980, vote-getting gained ascendancy over philosophical vision, and the LP became so involved in electoral politics that its principles were completely compromised. By 1990 the Libertarian movement and the LP had been so co-opted and corrupted by political conservatives that neither had any consistent pro-reason presentation to make any longer. Consider an alcoholic who has been drinking a quart of whiskey every day for decades. It is not now possible for the alcoholic to come into possession of the health that he would have had in other circumstances. It doesn't matter at all if he now swears off whiskey and takes up gin or vodka instead-these choices would simply continue him along his path into physical degeneracy. His only hope for any health, or even partial recovery in his old age, would be to swear off alcohol altogether. I view American society as being similar to that alcoholic. The accumulated effects of government (effects which are increasing in intensity at an exponential rate) are reducing society to a state of degeneracy similar in malignancy to that of the alcoholic. No matter how much you may want to, you cannot grow into a decent human being while drinking a quart of whiskey every day. No matter how much you may want them to, your children cannot grow into decent human beings while living within the context of the forfeiture laws and the Internal Revenue Service. Society can no more save itself by implementing a different kind of government than the alcoholic can save himself by drinking a different kind of alcohol. Society's only salvation lies in the total abolition of government. In this respect Rand was correct: you cannot have a political change without a preexisting philosophical change. But here too I believe there is no hope. The prevalence of Newspeak and the decline in intellectual caliber of the general population precludes the adoption of the philosophical sensibility that is prerequisite to the restructuring of society. As an individualist, I seek ways to implement changes that are not dependent on mass philosophical conversions or mass political persuasion. I believe that only through individual personal behavior can major cultural transformation occur. The opportunity to make political changes was lost when the LP became merely another branch of conservatism. From this perspective, I view myself as living in a world which is endemically afflicted with scurvy: Any individual who chooses to do so can readily alleviate his own situation merely by drinking a glass of orange juice daily. It is not at all necessary for him to convince the entire world, or even any other person, to change its nature. Objectivism is an individualist philosophy. It provides an eminently practical technology for individual enlightenment and growth, and it will benefit any individual who chooses to live by its principles. Try it and see. I have.

* Cultural Value-deprivation Rand describes the sensory-deprivation experiments, and then carries this notion further, to the idea of conceptual deprivation, observing that today's individual lives in an intellectual desert--in the equivalent of an experimental cubicle the size of a continent--where he is given the sensory overload of screeching, screaming, jostling media assaults, but is cut off from ideas. If severe enough and prolonged enough, such a distortion of the natural, active flow of cognitive experiences may paralyze a man's consciousness by telling him that no significant thinking is possible. This chronic deprivation produces a gradual erosion of his emotional vitality, which is recorded and preserved by his subconscious, until the day


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 192 when his inner motor stops and he finds himself with no desire to go on living. If a person is deprived of his values, he will eventually have little or nothing to live for. When Muslim fanatics refer to the "soulless" West, they are literally correct. When people have been value-deprived they are thereby souldeprived. Another aspect of this conceptual deprivation process is what might be called principle extinction--the process by which people's ability to think and act on the basis of principles is extinguished. Visual agnosia is a condition in which the visual association cortex has been injured, resulting in the victim's inability to perceive the world as a whole picture. He sees only bits at a time and has lost the ability to recognize patterns. He is, in effect, a visual illiterate. A closely analogous effect results from the destruction of his ability to think in principles. Then he will be able to perceive only specific concrete instances of reality. He will have lost the ability to recognize the underlying patterns. Perhaps we could call this "cognitive agnosia." (See the Spurious Superficiality fallacy.) Americans are taught NOT to think in principles, and then--just to make sure they are thoroughly corrupt--they are given principles that are depraved. Victims of cultural value deprivation can easily be persuaded to attach "value" to things which are in fact valueless. Newspeak goes even further, by distorting the very concepts used to formulate principles. People deprived of their ability to formulate values will trash their civilization with very little incentive. As a consequence of being value-deprived and value-depraved they become value-destructive. In the long run, a tyrannical society is possible only on the basis of cognitive deprivation. So long as people are not permitted to have standards of comparison they never even become aware that they are oppressed. (This may explain the widespread manifestation of the Fallacy of Relative Privation.) Value deprivation means not only the absence of positive values, and the actions taken to achieve them, it also means the absence of any effective actions taken to combat a negative. People lose any impulse to rebel against tyranny since, lacking a principled basis for judgments, they are bereft of any way to decide who their real enemies are. Thus the mad bombers--people driven over the edge of insanity by the contradictions they endure, but lacking a means of directing their rage toward an appropriate target. Thus also the widespread apathy we see in American society: many people, losing values and principles, also lose the power of grasping that the world could be other than it is. They can be granted intellectual liberty, because they no longer possess intellect. They can be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasp the enormity of what is being perpetrated upon them. They remain sane, in part, by lack of understanding--in a sort of protective stupidity. The more intelligent they are, the less sane they must be. The prevailing mental condition must be one of controlled insanity. But sanity is not arbitrary. Rulers of all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their subjects, but they cannot afford to encourage any illusion that impairs military efficiency. In philosophy, religion, ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one is designing a gun or a bomb they HAVE to make four. War is the main instrument by which governments are kept in touch with physical reality. This thesis has great significance for modern America, not so much as it applies to war, but as it applies to technology. We live in a society that is entirely dependent on advanced technology. If any major aspect of that technology is not sufficiently maintained, our entire civilization may well collapse. There are many people for whom work is the primary touch with reality. When important functions, such as personal autonomy and perception of accomplishment are removed from their work the result is impaired contact with reality, and a consequent decrease in their job performance. We can see the results in automotive recalls, on Three Mile Island, and other indications that the technological underpinnings of our civilization are eroding. How can you protect yourself against these negative influences? Simply make yourself into a valueactivist. The hallmarks of a value-activist: He has a firmly identified set of values. He knows what he wants. He arranges his values in a hierarchy. Not necessarily cardinal, but ordinal: greater values and lesser values. He understands that he must ACT to achieve his values. He is the man with a purpose. When considering value-deprivation vs. value-activism, remember that there are categories of values: social values, practical values, recreational values, etc. A person might be afflicted with value-deprivation


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 193 in only some of these categories and not in others.

* Inheritance The best of mankind's youth start out in life seeking a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential. It is not even an explicit view for most of them, but an undefined sense of enormous expectation, the sense that one's life is important, that great achievements are within one's capacity, and that wonderful things lie ahead. Then all of these hopes vanish in the vast swamp of a culture which tells them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one's mind; security, of abandoning one's values; practicality, of abandoning one's self-esteem. The children soon learn to detach themselves from their noble emotions, but in the process they lose a large part of their capacity to feel ANY emotions. Some who cannot dispense with their natural sensitivity turn to suicide: they see too clearly what sort of existence awaits them and, being too young to find an antidote, they cannot tolerate the prospect. If a young person sees no real future to look forward to, his choices may well resemble those of a terminally ill person. Others become so insensitive to pain--theirs and other's--that we hear of sensational, coldblooded crimes being done by children and youths. People who cannot control their own lives feel either despair or rebellious frustration. This is the situation of the youth of America. You must remember that morality and ethics are NOT instincts! They are LEARNED phenomena. Here is a letter printed in the Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune, Sept., 1988: "I would like to thank the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, and particularly McGruff the Crime Dog, for recently visiting my day-care home and presenting their program 'Stranger Danger.' The children enjoyed the visit and McGruff helped the children understand the importance of staying away from strangers." Most people believe this sort of thing is commendable, even necessary for the safety of their children. And within the context of the violent society we live in, it is indeed desirable to alert one's children to potential danger. But consider the inevitable result of this sort of training: In March, 1964, 38 witnesses watched from windows in surrounding apartment buildings as Kitty Genovese was murdered on the street outside, but none of them did anything at all to help. And everyone wonders why, but the answer is quite simple: from nursery school to adulthood they have been trained to avoid strangers. On their TV sets, from prime-time dramas to live coverage of the Vietnam War, they watch strangers suffer and they remain passive observers. Viktor E. Frankl, in MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING states: "At first the prisoner looked away if he saw the punishment parades of another group; he could not bear to see fellow prisoners march up and down for hours in the mire, their movements directed by blows. Days or weeks later things changed....the prisoner who had passed into the second stage of his psychological reactions did not avert his eyes any more. By then his feelings were blunted, and he watched unmoved.... Disgust, horror and pity are emotions that our spectator could not really feel any more. The sufferers, the dying and the dead, became such commonplace sights to him after a few weeks of camp life that they could not move him any more." Here is a sociologist's description of a family living in an American inner-city ghetto: "They had got used to the sound of gunfire. Everyone heard shots from time to time. After the first few occasions they had become curiously indifferent to them. Whoever was speaking would pause, then continue when the shooting stopped, just as he might when a jet aircraft passed overhead. It was as if they could not imagine that shots might be aimed at THEM. Surely, they were telling themselves, if we just lie low and hang on, the trouble will blow over." Just as one can, in the field of economics, analyze the "logic of choice," so one can focus on the "logic of coercion"--on the unintended but entirely predictable results of dishonesty and violence. And it need not be "real" violence. If you spend all your childhood and adult life watching the violence on TV, you may begin to believe that the normal, the usual, the only method of dealing with any sort of distress is to start drawing pistols and killing people, or calling on the government to do the coercing for you. Defenders of TV violence argue that anyone can distinguish between television and reality. But Saturday morning children's programs now (in 1995) average 25 acts of violence per hour. At the very least this desensitizes young children to aggression and random cruelty. And if impressionable adults can


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 194 so easily have false memories implanted in their minds, what is being implanted in our children when they are exposed to tens of thousands of acts of violence even before they graduate from elementary school? The child knows no other way of life than the slave's way. Born free, he has been laid hands on from the moment of his birth and brought up as a slave. How is he, when he is at last "set free," to be anything else than the slave he actually is? Clamoring for war, for the lash, for police, prisons, and scaffolds in a wild panic of delusion that without these things he is lost. You cannot govern men brought up as slaves otherwise than as slaves are governed. Nor can you expect them to behave in any other way than as slaves and barbarians. In school, misbehaving students are punished for a host of reasons--but adults in positions of authority (i.e., school administrators) initiated force against them to make them go to school in the first place. The discipline system the students have been immersed in is basically contradictory. When a child sees this kind of irrationality institutionalized in his social environment, what does this do to his sense of ethical values? Blaming the children for their misbehavior is unjust. The experience inflicted upon them has taught them that what they are doing is an acceptable way of living in this society. They have been enslaved and subjected to torment. Now they strike back and subject others to torment. Since they have been taught, and believe, that causes do not necessarily have subsequent effects, they are not able to perceive the real cause of their torment. Thus they cannot identify the justified target of their anger. They vent their anger indiscriminantly, treating people, as representatives of society, in the same way that "society" has treated them. Calling the students animals is unforgivable; it's an insult to animals. Animals generally behave quite rationally, but there is very little rational behavior in a public school. I prefer to call the students barbarians. However, this does great injustice to some of the students. Although there are many children who would be gentle and civilized individuals, they must cope as best they can with their irrational environment, which means many of them finally relent and join the barbarians. The moral and intellectual rot spreads and is handed down as, in several years, these barbarians begin to take part in community activities (what will happen when they get on the Board of Education?) and teach THEIR children the values they have learned. Thus viciousness becomes embedded in the structure of society. This, I believe, is the basic cause of the decline in American education. The system is fundamentally self-contradictory and thus fundamentally self-destructive. And since causes do inevitably have subsequent effects, those effects are what we are seeing manifested in the schools today. What schools mostly do is practice rigid age segregation, socialize children into narrow roles, label them into limiting categories, create meaningless problems, compel obedience and compliance above all other virtues, teach that life is segmented by ringing bells, and deeply indoctrinate children with the profound belief that government is an absolute necessity for civilization. School is the first coercive institution most of us endure, and it wears down our resistance to the later ones. It makes them seem normal. Sure, there are good and decent teachers, but the abstract logic of the institution drowns their individual decency in a sea of wickedness. One can understand why the contradictions of our society weigh so heavily on the young: no sane mind can integrate the contrast between the righteousness of a Secretary of State and the ruthlessness of a B-52; between the sanctimony of "a kinder, gentler, America" and the savagery of the Los Angeles Police beating Rodney King; between the notion that violence is fine against people 10000 miles away but shocking against injustice in our own land; between the equality demanded by America's Constitution and the equality denied by America's political structure; even between the accepted habits of one generation and the emerging habits of the next, as when a parent tipsy on his fourth martini begins a tirade against his son's marijuana. The generation that's growing up today has been thoroughly brutalized by the system. It's in their schools, their media, their political ideology--everywhere. They're conditioned to the worship of violence and the statist cult--to view the power and strength of the State as the only criteria for establishing right. A nation settled by men who refused to uncover in the presence of kings is now populated by people who grovel before petty bureaucrats--and are proud of doing it. One of the things that makes us so different from other animals is our ability to pass on to our children the sum total of what we and our parents have accomplished. That legacy of accomplishments-intellectual, artistic, spiritual, and material--is the content of human culture. To the extent that a society inhibits the transfer of this legacy, it is dooming its children to stagnation or retrogression. Even worse is


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 195 the future of a society that transfers to its youth a legacy of ignorance and brutality. "We will descend into a new Dark Age, made more sinister by the lights of perverted science." ... Churchill

* Conservation - Environmentalism Conservation is not synonymous with any lessening of one's standard of living. It is synonymous with more wealth, power, and freedom. The idea is not to make do with less civilization. The idea is to do all the things you are doing now--heat your house, cook your food, drive your car--using fewer resources. More efficient heaters and more efficient cars mean cleaner air, better health and greater prosperity. Many environmentalists assert a significant distinction between consuming or conserving one's resources, but the important distinction to make is between two forms of resource consumption: dissipation or production. Mere conservation is economically irrelevant--to conserve something rather than to use it makes no contribution to prosperity. A sensible approach to the subject of human well-being is to USE resources, but in such a way that they are augmented or regenerated as much as possible (and thus, in a manner of speaking, "conserved" for future use) and in such a way that their present use PRODUCES future well-being. The real crime in this context is to destructively dissipate resources in order to achieve only a transient benefit. Perhaps the best example of this process is the gluttonous dissipation of the world's supply of fossil fuels, much of which is consumed for no other purpose than to transport imbecilic adolescents back and forth from one end of Main Street to the other. (But even this is insignificant when compared with the amount of the world's resources that are poured into the enterprise of War.) A sane practice would be to use the fossil fuels, to as great an extent as necessary, for the purpose of establishing a nuclear fusion or solar power technology. The tiny pockets of energy that happen to be trapped in one form or another about the surface of our planet represent man's starting capital. Future generations will look back at our behavior and ask if we used them as the down payment on good long-term investments, or squandered them on the immediate gratification of our whims. Here are some comments by a Randite: "I see nothing unnatural about man's activities. It's called natural when beavers dam a stream, flood a valley, and change the ecosystem, but not when men do the same thing. This distinction is false. From the time men discovered that they could keep warm by wearing animal skins, to the cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals, to today's skyscrapers, man has flourished by adapting his environment to himself. It's our method of survival, and it's just as natural for us as it is for cats to prey upon mice. What inclines me to doubt the sanity of many environmentalists is their insistence on reading human life out of the rest of nature. As if we were not natural, did not belong with the rest of the world--Indeed, as if we had been dumped into reality by some runaway dump truck disposing of unnatural trash. The plain fact is that we are every bit as natural as are snail darters, spotted owls or wetlands. This means that housing developments, too, are part of nature. As are high rise buildings, bridges, freeways, parking lots, dams and disposable diapers, and even nuclear waste. What a natural being does is by definition natural. When a zebra is destroyed by a lion, this isn't depicted as the sad demise of some natural thing at the hands of an alien, unnatural force." Of course it is "natural" for man to build homes, provide for his needs, and to produce waste. These are inevitable concomitants of the life process. But there is another "natural" attribute of man which, if not taken into consideration, results in a grossly distorted and inaccurate analysis of man's relationship to his environment. That is the attribute of "choice." I do not at all have an "insistence on reading human life out of the rest of nature" what I do insist on is identifying the proper relationship between human beings and the ecology in which we live. After all, the beaver doesn't really have much (or any) choice about his dam-building activities. But man DOES have a choice about such things as the puddle of slag beneath Chernobyl, the toxic waste dumps in New Jersey that poison his unborn generations, and the combustion of the Cuyahoga river. I do not regard any of these three phenomena (and many more I could specify) as being "Natural." "Natural" for man is to make the environment better--because he has the CHOICE to do so. There is nothing "better" about the slag puddle and the poisonous waste dumps. Does that jerk really think the Cuyahoga river is better when it burns? That was not natural. Nothing that makes the world unliveable for our descendents is natural, and making it so is a form of social suicide. If he thinks suicide is natural, let him start with himself.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 196 "The creation of positive personal and global change through the natural energies found in each of us and in the earth" is the best definition I have ever encountered of what I think "Environmentalism" SHOULD be. There is no such thing as a balance of nature. The world of nature is continually in flux, and it is up to man, with his power of choice, to control the direction and nature of that flux. As long as we share a planet with the hydrogen bomb, human beings, too, are an endangered species.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 197

Chapter 12 LIBERTARIAN GUERILLA WARFARE * Rebellion against Government * The Peaceful Means Argument * Injustice is Everyone's Fight * The Problem of the Innocents * Questions to Determine Philosophical Orientation * Prerequisites of a revolution * Thoughts on Terrorism and Guerrilla Warfare * Strategy - Disarm and Disable * Tactics - Focus, Meaning, Purpose * Morale

* Rebellion against Government When is it OK to rebel against a government? Is there some point where you throw your hands up, cry "Enough!" and pick up a gun? If there is, has it been reached yet? Yes, there is such a point, and yes, it has been passed. For some Americans, it occurred in May of 1985 when the Philadelphia police deliberately (and legally) burned to death 11 people, including four children. For others it occurred in April of 1993 when over 75 people (including at least 25 children) perished in flames at Waco, Texas. But these were merely specific personal breaking points for some people in one country. A more generally relevant answer to the questions would come from an examination of the underlying principles which justify violent revolution. Some allowances have to be made in judging the behavior of police--we cannot, after all, expect perfection, neither in a government police agency nor in a private defense agency. If a policeman accidentally runs over your cat while he is chasing a bank robber, it would not really be reasonable to condemn his government to annihilation. Even cases of deliberate aggression would not necessarily justify rebellion. We cannot expect ALL police agents to be decent people at ALL times, but we CAN (and MUST) demand legal protection against the aggressions they sometimes DO commit, in the same way and for the same reasons that we expect legal protection against non-government criminals. As long as the government is structured so as to provide the citizens with legal protection against aggression by its own agents, it should not be condemned for the aberrant violent behavior that some individual agents may manifest. Even such things as the Rodney King beating would not justify revolution--if the perpetrators were brought to justice and punished for their crime. The line beyond which revolution is justified is crossed when the aggressive behavior that I have mentioned is institutionalized. By that I mean codified and legally accepted. To use the Rodney King incident as an example: the perpetrators justified their attack with the argument that everything they did was strictly in accordance with established police department procedures. This justification was legally accepted. (In a sane society, such an excuse would be grounds for including the police department training personnel in the trial--charging them with abetting an attack on a citizen.) Another very blatant example of institutionalized aggression can be seen in the forfeiture laws. Forfeiture is used (about 5000 times per week as of 1996) to legally deprive innocent people of their property without a jury trial, and is one of the government aggressions that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments were intended to forbid. It is at this point--when legally institutionalized procedures provide immunity to government agents who initiate force against the non-criminal behavior of free citizens--that revolution is justified.

* The Peaceful Means Argument It is argued that violence is not justified as long as there is ANY non-violent protest procedure


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 198 available. (Observe, however, that those who use this argument never direct it toward the violence initiated by government.) To assert that violence is not justified so long as there are peaceful means is to assert that violence is NEVER justified, for there are ALWAYS "peaceful" means. George Washington could have become a faithful subject of the king, been appointed governor of the colonies, and used his position of power to effect many beneficial changes--peacefully. A good citizen could become a member of the mafia, and by working his way up through the ranks attain a position wherein he could considerably reduce the evils perpetrated by this odious organization. When knocked down by a common thug, you could resort to the peaceful means of appealing to his "better side" and entreating him gently to cease engaging in such undesirable behavior. Of course while you are talking--peacefully--the thug is bashing your brains in. It is easy to see the fallaciousness of the "peaceful means" argument. In fact, you are obliged to restrain yourself to peaceful means only when your adversary refrains from using coercive means against you. How can they justify their insistence that you have no right to self-defense except on the terms set by those who have initiated force against you? Such insistence is a lie they impose on you in order to disarm you - to make it impossible for you to bring any effective resistance against their tyranny. To the extent that you accept this lie, you will be unable to resist them. To the extent that you act on the basis of this lie, your behavior will be suicidal. What they really want is for you to commit suicide. When one is fighting for his freedom against an armed and coercive enemy he does not resort merely to verbal entreaties; he most certainly does not collaborate with his enemy; and under no circumstances is it conceivable that he should actually join with his enemy. You should always remember that you are not fighting for control over the use of your enemy's coercive political institution, but for its elimination. Sometimes violence, like surgery, is necessary for the preservation of human existence - when you are fighting for the preservation of your rights, your freedom, and your life. Coercion is not an acceptable form of social institution. Dealing with it peacefully, as you would treat the acceptable forms, is to grant it acceptability by denying its real nature. You say "The not-acceptable is acceptable." "Be reasonable," our enemies implore. Being "reasonable" to them means that they can perpetrate all the outrages I described in Chapter 7. All that is "reasonable." But when we tell them, who are responsible for our misery, "Give us the justice you have denied us so long, or we will strike," suddenly that is UNreasonable. Suddenly, because we ask for justice, we are described as terrorists and fanatics. See reference If your life is to be meaningful, you must do more than protest injustice, you must do something to set it right. Your protest has no meaning if you don't follow it up with action. A value is that which one ACTS to gain or keep. The "peaceful means" argument is used only by cretins, cowards, and collaborators. Philosophical cretins who refuse to believe that self-defense is an inalienable right, moral cowards who lack the courage to assert that right, and cunning collaborators whose real intent is to enhance the power of tyranny and destroy all rights. The wicked just love people who don't believe in violence. It gives them a free hand because they not only believe in it, they use it. They seek to outmaneuver righteous resistance through preachments of peace, and will do whatever they can to suppress the violence that ultimate justice requires. Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Along with the principled invalidity of the "peaceful means" argument, there is a practical objection to it also. There is a sense in which libertarians and statists simply cannot even communicate, much less compromise. This is because the foundations of our philosophies are so opposed. We think in radically different epistemological frames of reference, and in the realm of ethics, we speak mutually incommensurable languages. You cannot persuade a man that his behavior is evil when his entire existence is founded on the conviction that his behavior is good. There are indeed things about which you cannot argue--you can only fight. You can argue on the basis of practicality, and you can argue on the basis of ethical principle, but ultimately, when you are up against someone who will not see reason, you can only fight. Trying to deal reasonably with someone who thinks the Waco massacre was a good idea is certain to be an exercise in futility. It is not pleasant to kill any creature, but to pretend that one can live without doing so is self-deception. There needs to be meat on the table, there have to be vegetables forbidden to flower, and even the cycles


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 199 of microbes must be blocked in order for us to continue our own cycles. It is neither shameful nor shocking that this should be so, it is simply a part of the great revolving wheel of natural economy. And just as we must preserve our physical species in these ways, so, too, we must preserve our moral species (those who love freedom) against others who wish to destroy it, or else fail in our obligation to pass on to our children the culture of freedom. If this notion of violent warfare shocks or offends you, it is because you have not been able to stand off and, knowing what you are, see what a difference in KIND must mean. You are not yet able to recognize, and accept, that there is a profoundly important distinction between you and policemen. They are not just "ordinary men" who are merely "doing their job." They are people who believe that it is not merely appropriate to use coercion but that it is necessary to do so. Your mind is confused by your cultural ties and your upbringing. You are still half-thinking of them as beings of the same kind as yourself. That is why they have you at a disadvantage, for they are not confused. They are alert and corporately aware of danger to their species. (That's one reason why we have so many gun control laws.) They can see quite well that if they are to survive they must be protected from the threat posed by the existence of people who value freedom. In loyalty to their kind, they cannot tolerate your freedom; in loyalty to your kind, you must not tolerate their tyranny. If you think you can collaborate with or convert a policeman, you do not understand this difference in kind. Just as oil and water don't mix, people who believe in and practice coercion cannot be integrated with libertarians. The enforcement of victimless crime laws is a form of coercion. That is why it is impossible for a policeman to be a libertarian. If you still feel reluctant about the necessity to combat tyranny, just consider some of the things that these people, who have taught you to think of them as your "protectors," have done: The savage beating of Rodney King, and the deliberate burning to death of children, are legally-sanctioned expressions of police behavior. Just think on it! Imagine a beautiful little ten-year old girl whose last words were: "Mummy! Daddy!... Do something! I don't want to die ... Oh, Gentle Jesus, I've been good ... PLEASE DON'T ...." The last is lost in the frightful roar of a furnacelike wall of red and orange flame, a brief unearthly scream, the searing shock of pain that drives the mind into instant insanity with the limbs flailing in a contorted dance of death as the last seconds of life are spent in an indescribable agony. An extinction abhorred by every living man and beast, but an integral part of the all-consuming, remorseless conflagration of government tyranny. God damn your President, your Congress, your police, your laws and your government! If the burning of children does not justify rebellion, what would? What could? Can there possibly be any greater sin than to burn children? Anyone who can still condone government after it has done this, deliberately and legally, is a person who will accept absolutely ANY behavior on the part of his government. For him there can be NO point at which rebellion is justified. Nor can society be saved by any political reform process intended to change the behavior of government--this is as futile as attempting to save a patient by switching a cancer from one organ to another, or to save an alcoholic by converting him from whiskey to gin. Even more mistaken is the idea that you can work within government in order to "change the system from within." You can't turn stampeding cattle from the middle of the herd--you'll only get yourself trampled. And once you join government, you become de facto a part of its coercive apparatus. Max Stirner observed: "Can I change a piece of nonsense into sense by reforming it, or must I drop it outright?" Reform is of two types: Changes which merely serve to make oppression more palatable. Changes through which people actually enlarge their autonomy and reduce their subjection to coercive authority. The second type is not something that the majority of voters want. Democracy must always lead to tyranny, simply because the vast majority of people neither know nor care what freedom is. Thus all "peaceful means" of pursuing freedom, which assume that the democratic process provides for the achievement of this goal, must fail. This is proved by the overwhelming rejection of the Libertarian Party. It is clear, from the quarter-century history of the Libertarian Party, that the minority of people in this country who wish only to live in peace, protected from government oppression, have no political protection against enslavement. They have seen the government become


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 200 continually more destructive of their rights, with no end in sight, and with no effective political redress available to them. This is an inevitable consequence of "majority rule." It is important that freedom be preserved. Not for those who do NOT want to be free, but for those creative and productive people who MUST be free to practice their creativity. The former must not be allowed the "freedom" to enslave the latter, else they will bring a halt to civilization.

* Injustice is Everyone's Fight Some people claim that "injustice is everyone's fight." Others claim, as Thoreau observed, that "It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support." Does the choice of other men to act unjustly impose upon you an obligation to combat their injustice? Your moral stature is a function of YOUR choices, not the choices that other people make. Certainly a man has the real obligation not to participate in a vicious social system. But does he have in addition an obligation to actively combat such a system? Consider that if you accept, by default, the existence of an injustice, then you yourself (or your children) will be visited eventually by the consequences of that injustice. A man MUST be cognizant of his needs, whether those needs be biological (e.g., the need to avoid poison in his diet) or social (the need to avoid coercion in his society). Concern for the rights of others is a necessity if you care about your own future and the future of your children. But this concern for the rights of others cannot itself be coerced. You must remember that the only "obligation" any man has toward you is to leave you alone. He has no obligation to take any positive actions whatsoever regarding you or your situation. He has no obligation to combat your enemies. But he IS obliged not to join with your enemies in oppressing you. If he does so, he then becomes an enemy. But as long as he does NOT do so, he may not be your ally--but he is at least a neutral.

* The Problem of the Innocents Begin with the premise that rebellion must be selective--acting against tyrants and their supporters only--and must refrain from damaging innocent people. This leads to the question: who is really innocent, anyway? It is important to distinguish between victims and aggressors on the basis of their deliberate actions-on the basis of actual implementations of oppression. For example, a person who is subject to income tax is a victim, and thus you might say that a businessman is a victim because he is taxed. But observe that the same businessman is himself a willing participant in the implementation of taxation: he extracts taxes from his employees and his customers. A man has a right to work for a living--that is a necessity for the preservation of his life--but he does NOT have a right to earn his living by depriving others of their property. Likewise, a businessman has a right to operate a business, but he does NOT have a right to deprive others of their property in the process of operating that business. Thus employers who collect withholding tax, merchants who collect sales tax, and any other people who participate in implementing the viciousness of government, must be considered victimizers even though they are also victims. The real question is not "Who is innocent?" but "Who is guilty?" The determining factors are the oppressive behavior (regardless of any assertions of intent--see Chapter 7) and the advocacy of such behavior. These attributes determine the guilty persons. Anyone who does NOT engage in oppressive behavior, or advocate such behavior, is innocent, even though he may do nothing to combat tyranny but sit around and gripe. See reference To complain about tyranny while submitting to it and taking no action to combat it is hypocritical: the complainer's actions and his words are contradictory--but what if the complaint is the only safe action he can take? Do not condemn a man for being a victim, nor for acting so as not to become a victim (except when his actions are themselves victimizing). In this context, there are three kinds of people: 1. Those who actively sanction, support and advocate statism. A subset of these are people who in practice do willingly participate in statism (such as sales-tax collectors and voters) even though they may


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 201 protest some of the government's oppressions. 2. Those who say: "I don't care about tyranny. I am interested only in my immediate self-interest. In short, I should do those things that benefit me--even if the State should happen to benefit from them also." These are the people who invariably seek profits at the expense of their asserted convictions. The best examples of these people are the scientists who willingly sell their souls to the State in return for laboratories financed by loot. It is ethically (but not morally) proper to do things that benefit yourself, even if you thereby become a victim of oppression. But it is NOT proper to willingly engage in oppressive behavior yourself. If the things you do actually constitute oppressive behavior then you are in the first category, regardless of your assertions. Your state-of-mind is not the important consideration. What IS important is your behavior. 3. Those who actively oppose the State and do all they reasonably can to avoid supporting it. The goal of a revolutionary should be to fight the first, ignore the second, and embrace the third.

* Questions to Determine Philosophical Orientation How do you tell just what a person really is? You can't simply pose the straightforward question "Do you believe in liberty?" You will merely get a null-value answer: if he really does believe in liberty he will answer "Yes" but if he does not really believe in it he will also probably answer "Yes." It's like asking a man if he is honest--you get the same answer whether he is or not. You have to go at it in an indirect way, asking questions designed to circumvent his dishonesty (or his ignorance--many people would answer the questions without real knowledge of what is liberty or what is honesty). You must also allow for any self-delusion he has. What is important is not to ascertain the rationale that he uses to justify his behavior, but the actual principles underlying the behavior. The object is to determine whether he accepts or rejects the non-aggression principle. Even though he may not be philosophically sophisticated enough to properly apply it in all circumstances. The questions should be constructed so as to pose a distinguishable separation between two phenomena. The important thing to look for when you ask them is NOT the clarity and precision with which the person identifies the distinction, but merely whether or not he MAKES the distinction. After all, you cannot expect an ordinary person to be a trained philosopher or logician, but you can and SHOULD expect him to be a decent human being, and thus to REALIZE that there is a distinction to be made, even though he may not be able to precisely specify that distinction. Always remember that actions speak louder than words. Here are some sample questions: How do you distinguish between trade and theft? [according to Marxist doctrine, there is no distinction.] How do you distinguish between taxation and theft? Under what circumstances may the State justly place its welfare above that of an individual citizen? Under what circumstances would it be proper for a member of a group to do something that it would be improper for that individual to do alone? Would you be morally justified in killing an innocent person if that were the only way to prevent your own death?

* Prerequisites of a revolution For a revolution or civil war to occur, two conditions must be met: 1. The population of the country must be divisible into at least two mutually exclusive groups. These are the groups that would actually be shooting at each other during the conflict. For example: the Union army and the Confederate army. American Libertarians would, of course, see these two groups as "the government" and "the people" but I believe this view is false. What Ayn Rand called "cultural value-deprivation" means not only the absence of positive values and the actions needed to achieve them, it also means the inability to take any effective action to combat a negative. Value-deprived people lose any impulse to rebel against tyranny since, lacking a principled basis for their judgments, they are bereft of any way to decide who their real enemies are. To vent their rage and frustration, these people frequently turn against each other instead of against their oppressors. Thus, in their rage over the beating of Rodney King, the citizens of LA beat up their neighbors and burned their own neighborhoods. They did NOT rise up against the police, for they


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 202 do not know who their enemies actually are. Thus they could not wage an effective revolution--they can only destroy their society. 2. There must be possible a triggering situation that would precipitate the conflict. In America this is precluded by the general attitude toward tyranny, which usually rests on the phrase "too much." If you press a protestor (and this is especially true of political conservatives) until you can get him to identify the foundation of his enmity toward government, you will find that it is based on a statement containing some variant of the phrase "too much." He is not fundamentally opposed to slavery, just "too much" slavery. He is not fundamentally opposed to tyranny, just a level of tyranny that is "far beyond" what he judges acceptable. He is not fundamentally opposed to government interference in private lives, just "an excessive amount" of such interference (or a type of interference that is not HIS proposed type of interference). But "too much" is not a dividing line. It is simply an ambiguous realm with no firm boundary. Thus it is very unlikely that, for this guy, there would be ANY level of "too much" that would induce him to take up arms and rebel. In any case, such an ambiguous level would surely be different for each individual (just ask several and you will see), and thus NO level would suffice to precipitate a general rebellion. Because these two conditions are not met (and I believe cannot be met) in America, I do not forsee a revolution occurring here. It takes a certain energy of idealism to create a revolution. The drawn-out death of freedom in America has been so insidious, but yet so penetrating, that few people have any idealism left that can be stirred to a revolutionary fervor. The people of America will not rise in rebellion against their government. The State has warped their lives, swallowed their fortunes, and destroyed their sacred honor, leaving them in a value-deprived moral vacuum, lacking any principle by means of which they might rebel against its tyranny. From The Anti-Federalist: "If the people of America will submit to a constitution that will vest in the hands of any body of men the power to deprive them by law of their rights, they will perforce submit to anything. Reasoning with them will be in vain; they must be left until they are brought to reflection by feeling oppression--they will then have to wrest from their oppressors, by a strong hand, that which they would have retained by a moderate share of prudence and firmness." Cultural value-deprivation must inevitably result in a very docile population. Who in America believes in any idea (or any value) enough to fight for it? Certainly not the libertarians, and they are the closest thing America has to freedom-lovers. The totalitarians know what they stand for. The non-totalitarians will stand for anything. But maybe tyranny in America has a limit. Although Americans will not fight the actual institutions of tyranny, perhaps they will not accept unlimited tyranny without the sort of blind uprising which destroys civilization. Here I speak of uprisings such as that which followed the beating of Rodney King by the LA police--a rebellion directed not against the police but against the very neighbors and neighborhoods of the rioting people. Two out of three Americans are obese. Who ever heard of a revolution of fat men?

* Thoughts on Terrorism and Guerrilla Warfare Terrorism is the use of violence and threats to demoralize, intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. ... Random House Dictionary Terrorism is premeditated, politically motivated violence by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. ... The US State Department Terrorism is the attempt by private gangs to scare a population into social change by wanton violence and murder. ... a Randite Terrorism is the use or threat of violence to make a statement about ideological or cultural beliefs. ... Rodger Doyle in Scientific American, June 2001, pg28 (There is some good information here.) The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. ... Lenin As you see, two of the above definitions deliberately exclude government behavior from the realm of terrorism, but if the concept of terrorism is to be a psychological-psychiatric concept in addition to being merely a legal-political concept, its study must include politicians, military personnel and police as well as the skyjackers and urban guerrillas to whom the term is usually applied. What we are dealing with is a principle - a psychological condition - that in fact applies to a chief of state just as well as to a lone gunman. The difference is that the terrorist gunman is acting alone, on the incentive of his own personal


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 203 judgment, whereas the political terrorist acts within the ethical framework of a social institution that has its foundation in coercion. The lone terrorist may even take personal responsibility for his behavior, but the political terrorist is "only doing my job" or "just following orders" or "serving my country." The distinguishing difference between the violence of terrorism and the violence of military warfare or that of a common criminal is the intent of the perpetrator. The questions that reveal this difference are: Who is the actual target? Whose behavior is the violence intended to influence? The terrorist uses violence not directly, but indirectly for its psychological effect. The terrorist strikes against one person or group in order to influence the behavior of another person or group. Thus Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were terrorist acts. Terrorism consists of acts of violence designed to affect the victims not merely physically but psychologically also. It produces, in the minds of the victims, a long-term anxiety resulting from not knowing who is going to be attacked, where the attack will take place, when it will take place, or what form of violence will occur. It is a grave error to believe that the most effective way of stopping terrorism is to sacrifice individual freedom to collective security via some version of a totalitarian state. This merely substitutes terrorism by the state for terrorism by individuals, and it establishes the principle that abolishing freedom is an acceptable means of dealing with social problems. There is another form of violence that has the appearance of terrorism but is actually not so. It is the use of overwhelmingly destructive power for the simple and direct purpose of obliterating any resistance to a demand for unlimited authority. The target of the violence is the person(s) who resist, and the intent underlying the violence is their absolute destruction. The beating of Rodney King, and the Waco massacre are examples of this. These occurrences of mindless savagery do have the same psychological effect as terrorism, although that was not the intent of their perpetrators, just as a serial killer does in fact induce terror in a community, even though that was not his intention. Guerrilla Warfare Imbuing fear into the mind of your enemy is a legitimate aim of warfare, thus violence intended to create such fear is a valid tool of combat. However, there are few, if any, revolutionary groups in the world today who apply it properly. They fail utterly to make a proper identification of their actual enemy. Consider those guerilla groups usually (and properly!) labeled as terrorists. They are active in many countries around the world: the ETA in Spain, the PLO in Israel, the IRA in England. None of these groups makes much, if any, distinction between the government they are fighting and the people who are subjects of that government. They strike not only at members of the government, but also indiscriminately at the general public. In the behavior of such groups, war is ethically equivalent to bombing a prison because one has a grievance against its sadistic warden. (It should be noted that although terrorist activities are almost always directed against innocent civilians, with few exceptions those activities are prompted by, and a response to, government behavior. If we got rid of government, we would thereby eliminate the motives for most terrorism.) Indiscriminate violence is not only wrong in principle, it is also counterproductive in practice: many British people who might otherwise be sympathetic to the IRA's desire to get British troops out of Northern Ireland are appalled at the spectacle of bombs killing their neighbors in the subway, and are thereby quite rightfully inclined to support the suppression of the IRA and its goals. A principled revolutionary group should strike only at ethically justifiable targets, and the general public is NOT such a target. As Murray Rothbard observed (FOR A NEW LIBERTY pg269): "Revolutionary guerrilla war can be far more consistent with libertarian principles than any inter-State war. By the very nature of their activities, libertarian guerrillas defend the civilian population against the depredations of a State; hence, guerrillas, inhabiting as they do the same country as the civilians, cannot use weapons of mass destruction. Further: since guerrillas rely for victory on the support and aid of the civilian population, they must, as a basic part of their strategy, spare civilians from harm and pinpoint their activities solely against the State apparatus and its armed forces." Consider the situation in America. For two centuries the government has whittled away at freedom gradually, with each additional law it passes depriving individual people bit by bit of their right to choose their own destiny. If the tyranny that exists today were to have been foisted in its totality upon our forefathers they would have risen in a rebellion even more forceful than that which they inflicted upon the minions of King George. The government could never have accomplished such a massive change in


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 204 one fell swoop--it had to be brought about by a lengthy series of gradual encroachments, in small enough doses that the populace would be willing to accept each encroachment individually as being of itself insufficient to justify the immense rebellion required to bring down the entire government. But this process is a two-edged sword. In a similar manner, the oppressed victims of a tyranny could turn this sword against their government and gradually reduce its tyrannical power over them. They could do this through a series of small encroachments on government power, none of them in and of itself sufficient to induce the government to undertake the expense of a major military mobilization, but all of them adding up over the years to the gradual reduction of government tyranny. But they can achieve this goal only if they make proper and effective use of the force they wield. To use it properly, they must make sure it is directed only against the appropriate target: government. And to use it effectively, they must make sure that it is applied in a way that will have the desired influence on government behavior.

* Strategy - Disarm and Disable Two of the primary precepts of warfare are: Disarm the enemy economically and militarily. Disable the enemy's determination to pursue his intentions. The strategic aims of the rebels should be to make the State less capable of functioning and to make the individual agents of the State less determined to function. And thus have the overall effect of diminishing the institution of tyranny which enables the individual tyrant to inflict his viciousness on other people. And to show others who hate the State that it IS possible to strike effectively against it. The goal is not to defeat the State in battle, but to intimidate its agents from practicing tyranny; not to conquer the State, but to cripple it so severely that acquiescence to demands for freedom will become a political and/or economic necessity. Although the government will not yield to right and justice, it will yield to expediency.

* Tactics - Focus, Meaning, Purpose The implementation of this strategy consists of a three-pronged tactic. The first level of guerilla war is a focused attack. The target must be carefully selected and the attack must be directed exclusively at that target. In order for a libertarian rebellion to succeed, it must strike only against the oppressive behavior of the State, and not against innocent people who are themselves victims of that State. In so doing, the rebels will more and more bring the victims into sympathy with their goals rather than alienating them. The second level is a focused attack invested with meaning. The rebels must tell the world, especially the State, why they have attacked. A clear statement must be made, describing in detail the tyrannous behavior that motivated the attack. The third level is a focused attack with meaning and purpose. The rebels must tell the world, and the State, what they are fighting to achieve--what it is they want the State to do. For example: "We demand the enactment and vigorous enforcement of a law making it a criminal offense for a policeman to interfere with the lawful behavior of a free citizen (coupled with the repeal of all victimlesscrime laws). Until our demand is met we shall continue to defend our freedom as forcefully as the government violates it. So long as we must live under the threat of government oppression, the government will live under the threat of our retaliation. We wish only peace and respect. If you will not see fit to grant us these things, then we will fight for them on the field of arms, a field of your choosing. You chose it when your armed police came into our lives." The public must know what the rebels are doing and why they are doing it. If the rebels attack the police and the public knows that their goal is to make everyone safe from police brutality, or if they attack tax collectors and the public knows that their goal is to diminish everyone's tax burden, then the public is much more likely to support (even if only tacitly) their ends. If the rebels don't get THEIR message to the public, then public opinion will be based only on the State's message. Thus, justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. A carefully controlled and directed attack could indeed be conducive to an ameliorative change in a


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 205 tyrannous government. 1. By reducing the government's economic resources, it would reduce the government's ability to oppress its subjects. 2. It would reduce the oppressive motivation of individual government agents by giving each of them negative reinforcement for such behavior. The police might not care what the public thinks about the police department, but each individual policeman WILL care if there is forceful retaliation for what HE does. Each individual will have to think before he continues his oppression, and ask himself what might happen to him personally in response. Armed agents of a tyrannous State respect the rights only of those whom they have reason to fear. It is, of course, impossible for a small number of freedom fighters to stand in force against the armed might of a government. But there is great potential for a few dedicated guerrillas to accomplish a considerable amount of change in the behavior of a government. The weapons with which a government can be hit and hurt by an individual or small group of rebels are assassination and sabotage. If a few people hate the State fervently enough to fight effectively against it, the State won't be able to control the country economically because of the ruination of its expensive equipment and the loss of its personnel. It can't just ignore the rebels or pretend they don't exist--the State will have to start putting men and money into a fight against them, and that will bring closer the day when the State will be politically and/or economically disabled, or at least reduced in its ability to impose tyranny. This fight would, indirectly, tend to reduce the support for government in the general population, since, in order to compensate for the economic losses imposed by the rebels, government would have to increase the economic drain it imposes on the citizens it claims to be protecting. Thus government will need more police and tax collectors to get the same amount of cooperation and resources out of the civilians--but that simply increases civilian resentment of the State. Another reason for generating widespread hatred of the government is that government in America is responsive to what it perceives as the will of the majority of the voters (see Chapter 7). Thus if enough people hate it, it may change itself. See reference

* Morale It may be asked, "Isn't it stupid and senseless to fight any war when there is no hope of winning it?" Mencken: "It doesn't take a majority to make a rebellion; it only takes a few determined men and a sound cause." Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed persons can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." You must be continually aware that although there may never be an absolute, total victory--that you have no hope of achieving any type of military victory over government forces--nevertheless, if you act with prudence and diligence, the final practical victory--the one that matters, the one that changes the behavior of individual government agents--will be yours. And even if not totally successful, rebellions can succeed in telling politicians that they've gone too far, and that the cost of pushing further may be higher than they're willing to pay. Keep in mind that no one has ever gained freedom except by fighting for it. While it is true that the great power of the State has absolute dominion over any small group of free people, this dominion is similar to that of a man over a hornets' nest: it can be exercised only at the risk of considerable personal danger. Each policeman must be brought to consider the risk to him personally of his tyrannous behavior. You, as an individual, and acting by yourself alone, CAN make a difference! If you can make just one cop reluctant to hassle people, then you have in fact reduced the extent of tyranny. If you make such a change, even a little one, then you've won something. "But," it is claimed, "some policemen are good men who are only doing their jobs." An Allied soldier fighting the Nazis did not question the particular character of each individual German soldier he encountered, he merely looked at a man with a uniform and a gun, and he knew that man by those signs to be his enemy, and he acted accordingly. Likewise, the rebel should not question the particular character of each individual policeman he encounters. It is by the uniform and the gun, and the ethical principles that those signs represent, that you recognize him to be your enemy. By choosing to wear the uniform and bear arms against you he has declared himself to be violently opposed to your freedoms.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 206 G. B. Shaw: "To kill a man in uniform who is your enemy is not an act of murder, but an act of legitimate warfare." The enemy command authority (either civilian or military) is always a legitimate target of war. Your war will be a righteous war, a war fought to defend your rights and your honor against the colossus of the State. You have a new world of freedom to gain; your enemy has only a lost cause to lose. If you don't strike against the State now, it will eventually destroy the means of civilization. After a revolution today, we would still have a civilization to live in. After a revolution tomorrow, there would be less civilization remaining. If you leave the job to your children, there might be no hope at all for their survival.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 207

Chapter 13 TO SHRUG - AN ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE FOR AN INDIVIDUALIST * Underlying Philosophy * Historical Precedent * Implementation of Shrugging * A Different World-View * Escape from the moneylenders * A suitable dwelling * Lifetime supplies * Income reduction * Occupation * Security * The Moral is the Practical * Recommendations * Bibliography Throughout all my writings, I use the word "Shrug" (always capitalized) to designate a certain activity. That activity is described precisely in the book ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. This essay is a consideration of some aspects of that activity. If you have not read ATLAS SHRUGGED, you will probably find this essay to be somewhat obscure.

* Underlying Philosophy All civilization rests upon the productive achievement of creative individuals. Without that productivity, the amenities of civilization would be little, if anything, more than a cave, a bearskin and a chunk of raw meat. Observe that totalitarianism is not creative. A Sherman Tank is not a tool of construction, nor is the revolver on a policeman's hip an instrument of productivity. A totalitarian regime can exist only if it is able to obtain economic support from the productive members of society. Without that support the regime will collapse or dissipate, as there is no other means of maintaining its economic existence. The evil is that which is destructive and life negating. The good is that which is productive and life sustaining. Evil is impotent--literally impotent--in a very fundamental way. The only power evil has is the power it gets, one way or another, from the good. Consider any evil action which you can conceive of, and take a real hard and deep look at it. What were the means by which that action was perpetrated? What is the basis (particularly the economic basis) upon which the perpetration rests? If you look far enough into the matter, you will find that somewhere, sometime, something good must have happened before this evil could have come into being. To take only one example (but a rather blatant one): A thief cannot steal from me that which I do not possess. His act of theft presupposes my act of producing that which he would steal. If I have not produced it, he cannot steal it. It is only my sanction (in the form of my production) that gives him his power. Without my good, he is impotent. Without me, he can not even exist. This is true not only of the simple act of theft but of ALL acts of evil, no matter how complex they may be in their insidious manifestations, and no matter where or how they occur--materially, intellectually or spiritually. As you can see, this is the basic theme of ATLAS SHRUGGED. All that is required for the defeat of evil is that good men stop their unwitting support of it. A productive person who uses his creative energies in support of totalitarianism is acting according to an irrational morality--he is providing sustenance for an evil that tends to destroy him. The remedy is to STOP SUPPORTING THE EVIL THAT AFFLICTS YOU. Stop feeding the bastards--let 'em starve! The functioning of your mind--the creative application of your intelligence--is something that is entirely under your personal control. Most things you own can be forcibly removed from your possession. The one thing that cannot is your creative ability. This cannot be touched without your sanction. The guns of a dictator, though they may destroy you, cannot compel you to think (Thoreau and


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 208 Gandhi taught us this). It is simply not possible to enslave a free mind. Your body can be enslaved regardless of your personal choices, but the creative power of your mind can be manifest only if you choose to express it.

* Historical Precedent The idea of Shrugging was not unique to Rand. Its advocates include such other illustrious persons as Thoreau, Lane, and Ghandi. Thoreau: "It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.... Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence." In 1943 Rose Wilder Lane implemented yet another exercise in subversion, which was an attempt to reduce her income below taxable levels. It was merely the next logical step in her exercise in selfsufficiency combined with political resistance. Ghandi's policy of satyagraha can be viewed as an "activist" expression of Shrugging. Judge Learned Hand (1934): "Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes."

* Implementation of Shrugging On dealing with the immorality of government, here are five courses of action to consider: 1) Refuse to engage in any implementation of your personal creative ability which benefits the State. Take your brains off the statist marketplace. Act so that only those who add to your life, not those who devour it, comprise your creativity marketplace. Do not abandon creative productivity, merely deny it to all who advocate statism. Work for yourself and the people you love. Reserve your achievements for yourself and those who will join you in the endeavor to build a sane and sensible world. This is the main ingredient of Shrugging. As Robert Ringer observed: "I am in favor of complete freedom of trade between companies and people throughout the world, but not under the umbrella of political partnerships between governments." Thus my attitude is that I will use my creative abilities on behalf of people who are STRIVING to act outside the authority of government, but I will not permit government to benefit from their use--either directly or indirectly. I will not use my abilities in any way that requires a tax to be paid, and I will not help other people to pay or to collect a tax. 2) Arrange your circumstances so that the State benefits as little as possible from whatever sort of work you choose to do. 3) Propagate the philosophy of libertarianism. Make these ideas known to others who are seeking a means to combat totalitarianism. 4) Actively oppose the State in a political manner. 5) Contribute in a positive way to the establishment of a new civilization. Establish for yourself a lifestyle which will demonstrate that rationally moral behavior is in fact eminently practical in one's personal life.

* A Different World-View Ayn Rand never advocated Shrugging (in fact, she was firmly opposed to the action) so there has never been any discussion of the nitty-gritty aspects of "how to do it." Nobody told me what to do after I Shrugged. I had to figure it out for myself. Most of my life's work since I Shrugged has been devoted to finding how to live an economically comfortable and secure existence while denying the State any benefit from my creative ability. The result of this has been the implementation of a lifestyle that maximizes my standard of living while minimizing my exposure to the oppressive elements of society. I have been disappointed with most other libertarians because they manifest very little of any practical use--because they seem to want only to TALK rather than really DO anything to achieve freedom. To object verbally while non-violently submitting to (and economically supporting) an aggression is the behavior of a hypocrite whose talk and actions are diametrically opposed. My own goal has always been to eschew collective activities in favor of better ideas to apply to individual life, firmly believing that society will not be changed by people hollering and shouting in and about nation-wide mass movements,


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 209 but will be changed only by people who choose to alter their own personal lives to live in accordance with a rational morality. If there is ever to be a society of free men, there must first be free men to comprise that society. Assembling them into a society would be an interesting proposition, but the act of becoming free is each individual's self-responsibility, not mine. Most people who ask the question "Is there any hope for saving society?" will settle only for an answer that by its nature would enable one individual to make singlehandedly a mammoth immediate alteration in the situation. This, of course, is impossible. Sadly, the fact that one individual alone cannot put a complete end to an evil is often used as an excuse and justification for accepting and supporting the evil. While realism tells me that I cannot fix all the problems of the world, my idealism tells me that my inability to do so does not preclude me from addressing those individual problems that I CAN affect. I view the situation, and my approach to it, as a physician would view a society suffering under a catastrophic epidemic. He would not sit back, wringing his hands in dismay, lamenting the fact that he alone could not produce an immediate and total cure for the epidemic. What he WOULD do is simply pick up his little black bag and commence to treat as many afflicted individuals as he possibly could. I believe society is suffering from a disastrous epidemic of irrational morality, and that the remedy lies in the practice of a rational morality by each individual--especially by a certain type of individual: those capable of a high degree of productive achievement. (For a much more comprehensive treatement of this phenomenon, see THE AYN RAND LETTER, 3Jan72.) At an early age I started developing a world-view that can see outside the normal American lifestyle. I was in my early 20s when I went shopping for a house in the suburbs. I looked at a couple houses, noted the prices, and learned about financing arrangements. At this point I paused and the mathematical wheels in the back of my brain cranked round a couple times. I said "Hey! over the course of a 15-year mortgage I will be paying almost TWICE the purchase price of this house! I'm not gonna do that!" The real-estate agent just gave me a funny look (I've been getting that funny look all my life) and terminated his presentation. And I began thinking about alternative lifestyles. It didn't take me long to discover that there are also other people interested in alternative lifestyles-and not much longer to learn that by and large they are a bunch of losers. They don't drop out to find a better life; they drop out because they can't cope with the life they have. The few exceptions to this are those who drop out because of their environmentalist concerns. A laudable motive, but these people throw the baby of technology out with the bathwater of pollution by renouncing any use of civilized technology in the primitive lifestyles they establish. People interested in a "natural" lifestyle seem to have no concern at all for any of the technological prerequisites of a decently civilized life. Many appear to see not much further than grubbing for roots and cooking over an open wood fire. Even Thoreau did a lot better than that! They claim to be looking for a different drummer, but they don't know the tune. Our conflicting motives and disparate goals precluded much collaboration at all between myself and these people. I think the best of the lot that I encountered was the Back-To-The-Land SIG in Mensa, but even they were a considerable disappointment to me, their primary focus of attention being the collecting of recipes on how to prepare natural foods. I wasn't interested in learning 47 different ways to cook organic turnips. My concern was "What am I gonna cook them WITH?" I was also surprised at how very few of these people actually had any genuine intention of converting their daydreams into real life. They were almost all city dwellers who had no notion of any practical procedures for getting Back To The Land, and no genuine motivation to find or create such procedures. I had a philosophical motivation (based on my decision to Shrug) and also an economic motivation: I was strongly opposed to spending the major part of my life supporting the moneylenders.

* Escape from the moneylenders The first element of my economic strategy was to escape from the moneylenders. When most folks begin their working life they immediately start making payments on a car, paying off a mortgage (or paying rent, which is probably worse in the long run), and in other ways making longterm committments to moneylenders. They get economically locked-in to this syndrome and then find themselves in a situation which is very difficult, if not impossible, to break out of. They HAVE to live where and how they do, in order to keep making payments so that they can continue to live where and how they do. Many of them eventually become affluent, middle-aged and anxious. The kind of people who, having "everything," end up by finding they have nothing and search ceaselessly for some means of


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 210 filling the spiritual vacuum of their lives. I call this the "white collar squalor" syndrome. You GOTTA stop paying other people for the use of their property (rent) or the use of their money (interest). If you're not accumulating wealth, you're dissipating your life. The procedure for breaking free of the moneylenders would be quite different for people whose financial situations were different. One man might need to scrimp and save for a long time, whereas another might only need to divert immediately available resources from one area to another. But unless you can get out of this "white collar squalor" syndrome you will never be truly free.

* A suitable dwelling "To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates....The philosopher is in advance of his age even in the outward form of his life. He is not fed, sheltered, clothed, warmed, like his contemporaries. How can a man be a philosopher and not maintain his vital heat by better methods than other men?" .... Thoreau The biggest expense most people have is the cost of their housing, so I gave a lot of thought to what kind of dwelling would be suitable to the lifestyle I wanted. I had no intention of giving up the comforts of a civilized life, especially since my philosophical principles require no such sacrifice. It is not at all necessary to settle for what Rand described as Galt's dingy little quarters: "a long, bare garret with a bed in one corner and a gas stove in another, a few pieces of wooden furniture, naked boards stressing the length of the floor, a single lamp burning on a desk.... the wooden rafters of his ceiling.... the cracked plaster of his walls, the iron posts of his bed." Extending the idea of "escape from the moneylenders" to include escape from other institutions that have economic control over everyday life (the foremost among them being the utility power companies), I concluded that what would be appropriate to my goals would be an inexpensive, energy-independent, mobile dwelling possessing the comforts of modern technology. I considered living in a motor home, but I quickly discovered that motor homes and travel trailers are NOT designed for permanent residence, and are even less than not designed for living in a cold climate, [I went to college to learn how to write like this?!] and are certainly not energy-independent, or even energy-efficient. So I decided to create one myself. I began by doing renovations of vehicles--converting them into little "rolling homes." I gradually figured out how to use my knowledge of physics and engineering to convert an old van, truck or bus into a very nice little house--an inexpensive, energyindependent, non-polluting, transportable dwelling--for a whole lot less money than the cost of a new house, or even the cost of a new motor home. After building several such dwellings--and living in one of them myself for a few years--I came to realize the truth of Thoreau's observation: "Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have." Because of his insightful remark, I have come to call my way of living a "Post-Delusional" lifestyle. If you can once get around, get by, or Shrug off, the delusions foisted upon us by the culture we are immersed in, you can then adopt a lifestyle that provides more economic security and prosperity. You don't really HAVE to "keep up with the Joneses," you can get off their racetrack, out of that ratrace, and instead enjoy a life of cruising along country byways, looking for the "road less traveled." I know you can do this, because I did it myself! Either as a permanent alternative to a fixed-box type dwelling, or as a temporary transition between the city rat-race and a quiet existence in the country, a motor home can offer an inexpensive and comfortable lifestyle. As a transition device, a motor home offers the city-dweller the means by which he can get out of the city in whatever spare time he has (weekends, vacations, holidays) and travel about in the country seeking land and housing suitable to his desired rural lifestyle. If he does find land without a dwelling on it, he will have a temporary living arrangement after he has left the city and is building his permanent home on the land. It is an excellent way to test your ideas about independent living: you load up your motor home and trundle up into the mountains. Find a nice, secluded place and live there for a few months, making a list of all the things you discover that you don't have and all the things you can't do. Then you trundle back down into civilization again and start crossing things off that list. When the list is gone, you are ready to


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 211 live an independent life. I want to stress the importance of DOing it experimentally before you make a full committment. The actuality is never just what you expect it to be. As a permanent residence, I think this sort of home is a wonderful way to beat the housing racket with its multi-kilobuck lifetime mortgages for shoddily constructed boxes with built-in and almost irrevocable dependence on the energy companies. A nice little home can be built in an old school bus for a modest amount of money and, if carefully done up, will keep you cozy and warm in the coldest climates (I have lived quite comfortably through more than two dozen Wyoming winters). It's amazing what living in a Rolling Home does for your economic situation. Gone are the mortgage payments. Gone are the rent payments. Gone are the huge tax bills laid on a stationary house. Gone are most all of the utility bills (a small house takes much less energy to heat, and if, like me, you don't drive it too much, petrol is a small expense). Sure, there are still some living expenses but they are a tiny portion of the expenses associated with a "regular" house. I can live on a MUCH smaller income than I needed before. And then, of course, there are all the benefits of mobility. If I don't like it here I can always fire up this old clunker and trundle off down the road, seeking warmer climes, more congenial neighbors, or even just a different view from my window. Some comments on technology: many people seeking an alternative lifestyle reject technology. I think this is a mistake. I have a very high regard for technology--insofar as it is the practical application of human intelligence and creativity to the problems of living a SANE and SENSIBLE life in the environment of this planet. What I greatly object to, however, is the use of technology in irrationally insane manners that inhibit decent human life and contribute to the destruction of earth's environment. The big difference between me and many other environmentally concerned people is that unlike them, I do not advocate the destruction of a pricelessly valuable tool (technology) just because it is being used by some vicious people for improper purposes. (Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!) So I integrated two usually disparate ideas--a profound love for the ecology and an equally great respect and admiration for technology--and thereby established a style of life that incorporates all the stated objectives of the most enthusiastic environmentalist with all the comforts and conveniences available from modern technology. I worked on the technological problems of self-sufficient living for many years, concentrating on the use of solar energy as the primary source of household power, and I found that a motor home--or a trailer house--makes a splendid dwelling if it has been designed and constructed to be energy-efficient (very well insulated) and frugal in its use of heat, water, and electricity. The operating expenses of such a home can easily be reduced to a few hundred dollars per year (assuming it stays parked in one place). But the lifestyle I have developed consists of more than just an unusual dwelling; it is a comprehensive set of practices that have led me to substantial economic success while reducing the extent to which I am victimized by the government and other huge social/economic institutions. Through the practice of this lifestyle, I have lowered my living expenses to not much more than what I spend in the supermarket, and an income of about $250 per month can support me very comfortably indeed. Quite a long time ago I encountered something called Micawber's Equation. (Micawber is a character in one of Charles Dickens' books.) It looks like this: Income 20 pounds a year: expenditure 19 pounds, 19 shillings and sixpence = HAPPINESS. Income 20 pounds: expenditure 20 pounds and sixpence = MISERY The more I thought about this, the more it seemed to make really good sense to me. I derived, as a variant of Micawber's equation, something I call "Micawber's Ratio." It is simply the ratio of your income to your living expenses. If that ratio is greater than one, you live in happiness. If that ratio is equal to one, you are just barely managing to make ends meet. If your Micawber's Ratio is less than one, you are (or eventually will be) living in misery. I believe this is a much more sensible assessment of a person's economic condition than is the commonly-used measurement based solely on income. My own Micawber's Ratio is over 3. But my annual income is only about $11,000. Am I living in poverty? Some people think so. (My income is so "low" that I am exempt from the income tax.) But my standard of living is higher than that of many of those same people. It is my lifestyle that enables this. True prosperity is measured by the satisfaction of a person's material desires, not by the number of dollars in the his pocket.

* Lifetime supplies


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 212 After I had reduced my housing expenses to just about nil, I had all that "mortgage money" to spend on other things--and I soon found a lot of other things to spend it on. As I observed in Chapter 4, there is a critically important distinction between being rich and being wealthy. One of the most economically successful things I have ever done was to implement that distinction in my personal life. Whenever possible, I have opted to acquire merchandise rather than money--or to turn my money into merchandise. See reference It really doesn't take much money (or much storage volume) to acquire a lifetime supply of X. For X, just substitute anything that you need to live comfortably and that can be stored away indefinitely. Socks, for example. If you have a few dozen pairs of socks in the back of your closet, then you don't have to be at all concerned that the price of socks is increasing continually--or that those socks may vanish off the marketplace entirely. Recently I took a brand new pair of trousers out of my storage trunk. While I was ripping off all the tags I noticed the price tag attached to the waistband. I thought it might be interesting to see how much the price had risen since I bought them, so I stopped in at the store where I had purchased them seven years ago, and was told: "Oh, those pants aren't being made anymore--they're no longer available!" I'm sure the lady thought I was completely crazy, because I burst out laughing. If you save dollars, the government simply eats them up via its inflation of the money supply. But if you convert those dollars into books, tools, clothes, or even just cans of beans, then you beat that inflation. The government will eat your dollars, but YOU will eat your beans!

* Income reduction The best way to gain economic freedom is to cut expenses. People who squander their prime years on excessive work to pay unnecessary expenses, and then spend the remainder of their lives working just to stay sheltered and fed, can't enjoy much freedom. As part of her exercise in subversion, in 1943 Rose Wilder Lane began an attempt to reduce her income below taxable levels. My own implementation of this has been a great success. As of 1992, the base (federal) taxable level of income in the USA is above $5000 per year. This represents over twice the amount necessary for me to live comfortably. For the final 14 years of my working life I worked two 8hour shifts per week at or near the minimum wage (as dishwasher/janitor in local restaurants). My standard of living rose continually during that time, mainly because almost the entirety of my income was "disposable income." I had followed Ms Lane's example and reduced my living expenses to just about nil. My standard of living has been rising continually since 1975, when I had fully implemented my lifestyle. Whether I consider the amount of material wealth that I possess or the amount of leisure time available to me or the amount of time I must devote to earning my living or the amount of economic security I have. In all these respects I am better off now than I have been at any previous time of my life. An interesting thing about all this is that I believe ANYBODY could do what I have done. Anybody in America could work 10 years at minimum wage and then retire for life. As screwed up as it is, this is still the richest society the world has ever seen.

* Occupation After I had thought about Atlas Shrugged for a while, I realized that Shrugging is appropriate not just to someone at or near Galt's level of productive capability, but to anyone who is concerned with the ethical propriety of his life. I believe that even though there are immense differences between Galt and a track walker, they are differences merely in quantity, not in quality. Thus Mr. Walker may well have just as legitimate a concern for the ethical nature of his behavior as Galt has for his. When I contemplated the question "If Galt steps down to the level of the track walker, what would the track walker step down to?" I identified this as the essence of Shrugging: DO NOT PAY TAX ON YOUR CREATIVE ABILITY. I believe that EVERY person has some creative capacity, and that the proper way to respond to government is to deny it the benefit of that creativity. As Rand observed: "Physical labor as such can extend no further than the range of the moment. The man who does no more than physical labor, consumes the material value-equivalent of his own contribution to the process of production, and leaves no further value...." Consider that it is not just taxation per se that supports totalitarianism, but the exploitation of productive achievement. No government could survive merely by taxing ditch diggers, track walkers and


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 213 dishwashers. These people do not create civilization (although I readily admit that they do help maintain it); civilization is created by those whose productivity generates the need for ditch diggers, track walkers and dishwashers. The taxes imposed on a dishwasher will not support a totalitarian state, simply because the dishwasher does not generate wealth. He merely manipulates the wealth generated by someone who is functioning at a considerably higher level of productivity. If this "someone" were to stop generating wealth, eventually there would be nothing for the totalitarian State to tax--and it would perish. If you wish to strike at the State then strike at its root--deprive it of its economic foundation. The functioning of your mind--the creative application of your intelligence--is something that is entirely under your personal control. The guns of a dictator, though they may destroy you, cannot compel you to think.

* Security There are three major aspects to my security. The first is that my house is both mobile and energy-independent. Even though I have not moved my little house in many years, I could readily do so if the need ever arose. Since my domestic utilities are almost entirely solar-powered, I am not dependent on outside hookups. I do not have blackouts or brownouts; I am not subject to power rationing, and they can't raise my rates! The second element of my security is that I have provided for my future in ways that are linked as little as possible to money. I own my home, and it is quite capable of housing me for the rest of my life. Thus I will never have to worry about getting money in order to provide myself with shelter. I have sufficient clothing and other household goods on hand to keep me comfortable for longer than I expect to live. Unless all this property is physically destroyed, I will never have to obtain money to replace any of it. I have, in my parlance, "pushed self-sufficiency all the way to the bananas." All the way to those things that I cannot provide for myself and/or cannot lay up a lifetime supply of (such as bananas). I am as unaffected as I can be by the government's continual destruction of the American economy. The third element of my security is that my philosophy, and the fact that I actually LIVE by it, are so unthinkable to stateolatrists that I am essentially invisible to them. I call this the "Thompson Invisibility Syndrome" (see ATLAS SHRUGGED Part3 Chap8). This syndrome is their response to someone who is so far removed from their frame of reference that they literally cannot perceive him as a genuine philosophical entity. They can ignore me, or they can ridicule me, but they CANNOT take me seriously. Rand was quite wrong about the need for secrecy: their ignorance and self-blindedness are my shield.

* The Moral is the Practical Moral laws are principles that define how to nourish and sustain human life; they are no more than this and no less. Morality is the instruction manual in regard to proper care and use that did not come with man. It is the science of human self-preservation. Moral principles serve as gauges to guide a man's choices in the achievement of concrete, specific purposes. The task of applying these principles to the purpose of living a life proper to a rational being belongs to every individual man, and the life he has to live is his own. Moral values are a subcategory of values, distinguished by two conditions: They are chosen values, and of a fundamental nature. They are "fundamental" in the sense that they shape a man's character and life over time. Other kinds of values, by contrast, are specialized - e.g., a man's estimates in regard to government or art, which constitute not his moral, but his political or esthetic values. A moral principle, accordingly, is not something sui generis. Properly speaking, it is a type of scientific principle, identifying the relationship to man's survival of the various basic human choices. The only alternative to action governed by moral principle is action expressing short-range impulse. But for man the short-range, viewed long-term, is self-destructive. This is the practical point missed by pragmatism. The realm of facts is what creates the need to choose certain goals. This need arises because man lives in reality, because he is confronted by a fundamental alternative (life or death), and because the requirements of his survival, which he does not know or obey automatically, are set by reality (including the reality of his own nature). The particular evaluations a man should make, therefore - both in regard to his ultimate purpose and to the means that foster it - do not have their source in anyone's baseless feeling; they are discovered by a process of rational cognition. Moral value does not pertain to reality alone or to consciousness alone. It arises because a certain kind


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 214 of living organism - a volitional, conceptual organism - exists in a certain relationship to an external world. Both these factors - man and the world, or human nature and reality - are essential in this context. The good, accordingly, is neither intrinsic nor subjective, but objective. This is the only approach to morality that does not culminate in disaster. Only a code based on the demands of reality can enable man to act in harmony with reality. Objectivism is true. As a result, it has practical effects and beneficial consequences for human existence if properly applied to one's life. The thesis that morality must be totally subjective because reason is the slave of the passions does not explain why it is that although some people are indeed slaves to their feelings, others guide their lives by reason. Furthermore, if morality is subjective, then why is it that some moral principles promote success and happiness in life while others do not? The assertion that morality must be derived either from dogmatism or from subjectivism is a false alternative. Man DOES have the capacity to choose to follow reason, to internalize healthy feelings harmonious with reason, and to live successfully according to a rational code of morality. Before Ayn Rand, there was a perceived dichotomy between being good and being practical. This put morality in a dilemma because "how should I act?" rested on two antipathetic goals: to be "moral," or to be "practical." It was thought that to flourish you needed to be immoral to some extent, and that the actions which make you moral inhibit flourishing. Now that Rand has given us the basic science of a rational morality, the pretext for thinking this has been eradicated. The principles of Objectivism give rise to a set of guidelines for practical actions. If those guidelines are followed, the result will be a successful life. Objectivism is not a mere philosophical assertion, but a living, concrete procedure by which a rational individual can learn the laws of the universe and implement them in his personal life. It is, as Rand observed: "A Philosophy for Living on Earth." Once you understand what you can accomplish by means of this procedure, your methods change; eventually the entire pattern of your life changes. This living, concrete picture is itself profoundly convincing: the observation of my personal life has produced conversions and induced a commitment to the idea of rationality in other people. As this sort of conversion and commitment spread to more and more people, it will, hopefully, become a movement, adherence to which will distinguish one as enlightened, and ignorance or denial of which will mark one as intellectually retarded or superstitious. Those who reject Objectivism are akin to those who renounce the Scientific Method, thereby depriving themselves of humanity's most powerful instrument of knowledge. Both groups are doomed to a stunted level of intellectual capability. People who ignore Objectivism are simply going to become irrelevant and, eventually, extinct. People who accept and use it are, like me, going to prosper. The extent of your failure to live by rational principles is reflected in the extent of your failure to flourish. The more you use your mind properly, the more you'll flourish--succeed at survival. As the economy of America becomes more and more fouled up by government, those people who can bypass their dependence on this economy can function more efficiently, but those who continue to live within the mainstream will have their economic efficiency diminished by a parasitical government. "You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his reward for accepting ours." ... John Galt Nothing encourages ethical practices so well as a practical, profitable alternative to evil. We can't make people want to be poor. If we want to clean up the Earth and establish a free society, we'll have to show people a way to be wealthy without harming the environment or depending on the State. Not only must we demonstrate how to live well, we must show how to make a profit. As one investor remarked: "As soon as the environmental sector starts producing profits, we'll start investing." A lifestyle should be adopted on the same basis as the advocacy of an environmental issue: If you object to pollution, the first thing for you to do is to stop your own polluting behavior. If you advocate the conservation of some natural resource, the first thing for you to do is to diminish your own consumption of that resource. And if you want to contest a tyrannical political system you must reject tyranny in your own personal lifestyle. I have proved in my own life that he who actually lives by the morality of Objectivism can thereby have a HIGHER standard of living than the large majority of people in America, who are hobbled ethically and economically by circumscribing their lives within an authoritarian frame of reference, and that the adoption of such a lifestyle is much less expensive and much more technologically feasible than


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 215 most people surmise. Amidst a population of individuals employing one strategy, I employ a different strategy which has a higher payoff. It is a strategy which delivers tangible benefits TODAY, not "someday" or "when we win." That which is practical is that which corresponds to reality. If you derive your moral code from the facts of reality, it will correspond to reality and will therefore be practical. As Rand repeatedly asserted, "the moral IS the practical." This means that if you live a life that is moral, you will make the happy discovery that it is also quite practical. And I can look into a mirror and know that I did not work all my life to help make possible the burning of babies in Philadelphia and Waco. Can you say the same?

* Recommendations Keep in mind that Shrugging doesn't have to be one big jump--it can be done in stepdowns, thus avoiding traumatic shock to your present lifestyle. I believe the best way to go about implementing the lifestyle I have described would be to start by buying a pickup truck as your first (or next) vehicle. When you are financially ready to do so, buy a camper to put onto the truck--or a small trailer to pull behind it. Spend weekends, vacations, and as much time as you can living in this thing. This will prepare you for later full-time residence, and teach you what domestic facilities you should modify or add in order to create a comfortable situation. I have lived since 1974 in a 30-foot school bus and find this plenty large enough for one person (and three cats) to live in. But if I were to do it over again, I would opt for a truck/trailer combination, as that makes for more transportation convenience. When you want to stay parked in one place for any length of time, it is convenient to just detach the truck for your occasional trips to town. Once your little house is fully prepared, take the next big step by moving completely and permanently into it. At this point your financial situation will take a big leap upward as you begin to reap the benefits of the rent/mortgage money that you no longer have to pay out. Two things you should consider doing with that money are stocking up with supplies of merchandise (such as the socks I mentioned above) and investing in a pension for your future years. It shouldn't take much to convince you that the government's Social Security scheme is of dubious (and diminishing) value. There are other ways in which you can provide for your future. When you have got yourself set up in your new lifestyle you can begin to think about changing over from full-time work to part-time work. For the final 14 years of my working life I worked only part-time (as a dishwasher and janitor). I usually worked one or two days a week--and had a five- or six-day "weekend." I retired completely at the age of 48.

* Bibliography From Loompanics Unlimited Box 1197 Port Townsend, WA 98368: THE ALPHA STRATEGY by John Pugsley Convert your money into merchandise. FREEDOM ROAD by Harold Hough How to establish life in a motor home. HOME IS WHERE YOU PARK IT by Kay Peterson How to live in a travel trailer. TINY HOUSES by Lester Walker Inexpensive, self-sufficient little homes. ROLLING HOMES by Jane Lidz A&W Publishers, 95 Madison Ave, NYC 1979 J.C. Whitney Co Box 8410 Chicago IL 60680 www.jcwhitney.com Parts, accessories and appliances for cars, trucks and RVs. If you intend to build your own motor home, this company is an excellent source for parts and equipment.

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David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 216

An Objectivist dictionary Many of the items here are not, strictly speaking, definitions - but they do provide some useful insight into the meanings of the concepts.

REFERENCES AS :Atlas Shrugged (hardback). Basic :Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures DK :The cogitations of David King. DS :The Disowned Self (hardback). FNI :For the New Intellectual (paperback). HPD :How You Can Profit From the Coming Devaluation (hardback - index) IOE :Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (the original green book). PRL :The Psychology of Romantic Love (hardback). PSE :The Psychology of Self-Esteem (hardback - index) SEM :Recordings of seminars held by Nathaniel Branden about l970 Think :Principles of Efficient Thinking lectures VOS :The Virtue of Selfishness (hardback - index) WAR :Who Is Ayn Rand (paperback). YY/Mmm/pp (e.g.: 67/May/11) :The Objectivist Newsletter or The Objectivist MmmYY-pp (e.g.: Apr87-10) :The Objectivist Forum


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ABSURD That which denies the axiom of Identity. That which contradicts itself. That which contravenes an ostensive concept.

ACHIEVEMENT The creation of values.

ADMIRATION PSE-129 The pleasure a man takes in the character and achievements of another human being.

ALIENATION Avoid unpleasantness and then avoid the fact that you are avoiding. AS-833 They pretend to themselves that they are not pretending.

ALTRUISM 62/Jul/27 Man must make the welfare of others his primary concern and must place their interests above his own; he has no right to exist for his own sake. Notice that this phenomenon has two sides: one, expressed above, requires that YOU must live for the sake of others. The other side requires that OTHERS must live for your sake.

ANGER is somewhat more complex an emotion than fear, because in most cases it also includes the emotions of hurt and disappointment, with their underlying evaluations of: "This injustice is causing me pain because I expected more from this person; I respected him and he is doing an unjust thing."

ANXIETY 67/Jan/12 Response to the threatened loss of a value. 66/Nov/7 A state of dread experienced in the absence of any actual threat. What you experience when your body prepares for a challenge that is not here in reality. If the challenge actually exists your excitement and energy can flow into the activity of coping with the challenge. Since the challenge only exists in fantasy there is nothing you can actually do and all your energy and excitement gushes out in trembling and other symptoms of anxiety. This also happens if the challenge is present in reality but you don't dare attempt it yet. Anxiety is a complex emotion; it feels similar to fear, but it differs from fear in that the latter is a response to a concrete which one experiences as threatening. In contrast, anxiety is free-floating fear, a fear without an apparent object. Something unknown, some hidden danger is experienced as threatening. Anxiety is also the emotional consequence of self-doubt. In its pure and undisguised form, selfdoubt is always experienced as anxiety. The universal evaluation underlying self-doubt is always something to the effect: "There is something wrong with me. I am not functioning right. I do not know how to make myself happy. There is a danger that my whole being is 'wrong' in some way. I cannot cope with life." And in extreme cases, the evaluation may simply have been "I am no good." The severity of the anxiety will differ from case to case, depending on whether such a conclusion is localized or generalized, and how intensely it is held. For example, a person may feel self-doubt because he evaluates one particular action of his as unworthy of him. In this case, the self-doubt will be localized and therefore easier to bear than for the person who consciously or subconsciously evaluates himself as totally unworthy. In the latter case, self-doubt may be so severely entrenched that it permeates and conditions all of the individual's other emotions. In such severe cases, it can lead to the formation of a negative emotional metaphysics, which serves as a psychologically devastating framework within which the individual always functions - the malevolent universe premise.

ART 63/Oct/37 65/Apr/16 A selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments. Metaphysical values are those which reflect an artist's fundamental view of the nature of man and the nature of the universe in which he lives.

ATTRIBUTE Basic2 An aspect or characteristic of an object which can be isolated and identified conceptually but which in fact cannot be separated from an object and cannot exist by itself.


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 218 •

AUTHORITARIANISM is the unnatural cord that reaches out to connect one person's muscles with another person's brain.

AXIOM FNI-155 A statement that identifies the base of knowledge.

BEAUTY DK A concept of consciousness. It is the integration of one or more experiences of pleasure with one or more observations of a manifestation of one's values.

BLASPHEMY is what an old mistake says of a newly discovered truth. What last year's leaf says to this year's bud.

BUREAUCRAT - One of the hallmarks of the bureaucratic mentality is the belief that the rules themselves are the reason the system exists, and not the accomplishment of the mission for which the system was originally established. He becomes no more than a robot, going about a task whose meaning he has long ago forgotten, if indeed he had ever known it.

CAPITAL Accumulated stock of value in excess of immediate consumptive requirements.

CAPITALISM 63/Nov/44 65/Oct/47 65/Nov/54 A social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, and in which all property is privately owned. The process of using wealth not for immediate consumption but for the creation of more wealth. See Chapter 4. See reference

CAUSALITY 66/Mar/9 AS-1037 The law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entity that acts; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature.

CELEBRATION Basic16 An action undertaken not as a means to an end but as an end in itself, for the purpose of giving an objective expression to the enjoyment of a value achieved in the past. It objectifies the pleasure of consumption after the successful production of a value.

CENSORSHIP 62/Mar/9 A government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas.

CERTAINTY DK A state of mind in which a person perceives a correlation between his mental images and Reality. See Chapter 3. See reference

CONFIDENCE AS-1019 Basic10 The knowledge that the judgment of one's mind is valid.

CHAOS * RANDOM Compare the behavior of commuters dashing through a train station at rush hour with the behavior of a large, terrified crowd. The former resembles chaos in that although an observer unfamiliar with train stations might think people were running every which way without reason, order does underlie the surface complexity: each person is hurrying to a specific destination. The traffic flow could rapidly be changed simply by announcing a change in schedule. In contrast, mass hysteria is random. No simple announcement would make a large mob become orderly.

CHARACTER 67/Mar/4 The sum of the principles and values that guide a man's actions in the face of moral choices.

PERSONALITY PRL-75 The externally perceivable sum of all the psychological traits and characteristics that distinguish a human being from all other human beings. 67/Mar/4 The superficial mannerisms by which his principles are acted out.


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COERCION - A relationship in which a person is subjected to physical force (or the threat of it) in order to compel him to submit to the choices of another person. The separation of a person from his rightfully achieved values without his voluntary consent. Libertarians usually use the term "initiate force" when discussing this subject, but a more accurate term is "engage in coercion." This emphasizes that the principle underlying the behavior is time-independent. (See Chapter 6 * Preemptive force)

COGNITIVE * NORMATIVE 65/Mar/10 65/Apr/15 Cognitive abstractions identify the facts of reality. Normative abstractions evaluate the facts, thus prescribing a choice of values and a course of action. Cognitive abstractions deal with that which IS; normative abstractions deal with that which OUGHT TO BE (in the realms open to man's choice). Cognitive abstractions form the epistemological foundation of science; Normative abstractions, of morality and of art.

COINS HPD-178 Real money transformed into a recognizable shape and weight in order to facilitate exchange.

TOKEN HPD-180 A money substitute in metallic form rather than paper.

COMMON GOOD 65/Dec/55 An undefinable concept. "Good" and "Value" pertain only to an individual living organism, not to a disembodied aggregate of relationships. If taken literally its only possible meaning is: the sum of the good of all the individual men involved. But in that case the concept is meaningless as an ethical criterion: it leaves open the question of what is the good of an individual man and how does one determine it? The concept becomes an ethical blank check for those who use it. It means that the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others.

COMMUNICATION DK Transfer of information from one mind to another such that both minds recognize the meaning of the information.

COMPLEX A complex system is one comprised of many agents, each of which interacts with its neighbors and can adapt to change.

COMPROMISE 62/Jul/29 64/Jan/1 An adjustment of conflicting claims by mutual concessions. This means that both parties have some valid claim and some value to offer each other. And this means that both parties agree upon some fundamental principle which serves as a base for their deal. It is only in regard to concretes or particulars implementing a mutually accepted basic principle that compromise can occur.

CONCEPT IOE-17 A mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s) with their particular measurements omitted. 65/Apr/15 A mental integration of two or more perceptual concretes which are isolated by a process of abstraction and united by means of a specific definition. 67/Jun/7 The meaning of a concept consists of the units - the existents - which it integrates, including all the characteristics of these units.

ANTI-CONCEPT The Ayn Rand Letter pg 1 An unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. The use of anti-concepts gives the listener a sense of approximate understanding.

CONCEPT OF CONSCIOUSNESS IOE-33 A mental integration of two or more instances of a psychological process possessing the same distinguishing characteristics with the particular contents and the measurements of the action's intensity omitted.

CONCEPTUALIZE 66/Dec/13 To organize an indiscriminate perceptual chaos in terms of essential characteristics.


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CONSCIOUSNESS PSE-3 5 The faculty and state of awareness. The condition of an organism in cognizing, perceiving, or sensing. WAR-63 The function of consciousness is perception, cognition and the initiation and direction of action. Consciousness, or mind, is the action performed by a brain.

COURAGE - BASIC10 The knowledge that to act on the judgment of one's mind is practical. AS1019 The practical form of being true to existence.

CRIME - See Chapter 6

CURRENCY HPD-178 Money substitutes in paper form.

DECIDOPHOBIA The fear of making the decisions that give shape to one's life.

DEDUCTION IOE-30 The process of subsuming new instances under a known concept.

DEFLATION HPD-178 A decrease in the amount of money substitutes that are in excess of the stored stock of real money.

DEFINITION 63/Jan/3: Identify the specific meaning of a concept by isolating the facts of reality to which the concept refers and of which the concept is a mental integration. The purpose of defining one's terms is to afford oneself the inestimable benefit of knowing what one is talking about. 67/Jul/9: To keep a concept distinct from all others, to keep it connected to a specific group of existents. HPD-29: To draw a sharp line between what IS a certain thing and what isn't. BASIC6: A statement that identifies the essential characteristics of the aspect of reality which a concept denotes. IOE-76: A statement that identifies the nature of a concept's units. See Chapter 3

• •

DEMAND DEPOSIT HPD-178 The storing of your money in a bank but having it still available on demand, for which you usually pay a fee.

DEPRESSION HPD-178 62/Aug/33 The liquidation period following a prolonged inflationary cycle and/or a liquidation period in which governmental restraint of trade prevents orderly liquidation thereby prolonging a recession.

DEPRESSION 67/Jan/12 Response to the loss of a value or the sense of being unable to achieve a value.

SUFFERING 62/Jan/3 The emotion that results from the frustration of one's desire or the destruction of one's values.

DESPAIR - The conclusion underlying despair is something to the effect: "I want something that I value very highly, something that I believe is crucial to my happiness, and I don't think I can ever have it." Included in this evaluation is a strong element of hopelessness about the future. If the conclusion applied only to the present - only to not achieving some value for the time being - the resulting emotion could be sadness, hurt, and disappointment, but not despair. The hopelessness in severe cases can take the form of the person's losing the desire to take any action - sometimes losing the desire even to get out of bed. It is always despair that leads to suicide. In cases of suicide, the devastating underlying conclusion doesn't apply to just one particular value, but encompasses the whole future of the person's life. Gandalf: Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt.

DETERMINISM 63/May/17 Denies the existence of any element of freedom or volition in man's


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 221 consciousness. It holds that every action, desire and thought of man is determined by forces beyond his control. But if man believes what he HAS to believe; if he is not free to test his beliefs against reality and to validate or reject them; if the actions and content of his mind are determined by factors that may or may not have anything to do with reason logic and reality; then he can never know if his conclusions are true or false. If his capacity to judge is not free there is no way for a man to discriminate between his beliefs and those of a raving lunatic. (Or to assert as truth the postulate of determinism.) See Justice •

DEVALUATION HPD-178 Repudiation of the government's promise to honor its money substitutes at the stated rate of exchange.

DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM WAR-16 AS-320,952 Man's mind and its content are determined by the material factors of production existing at a given time. Discovery of Freedom by R. W. Lane: The communist is looking for the Authority that controls men and taking it for granted that since the man does not control himself then the Authority that controls him must be his situation.

DISSOCIATION The failure of the power to recall things which normally should be remembered; an interruption or repression of memory.

DOGMA A set of beliefs accepted from the voice of authority.

DUTY 70/Jul/3 The distinction is between realistic necessity (obligation) and human whims (duty). A debt you owe to yourself to fulfill. Obligations you have assumed voluntarily. See Integrity,

ECONOMICS is the production, transportation, exchange and consumption of wealth. It is also the study of these activities. There are two broad divisions of economics: Personal (in which a person produces wealth and then consumes that wealth himself) and Social (in which more than one person is involved in the production or consumption of wealth). Macroeconomics: the study of the money supply, the GNP, and the regulation of credit on a nationwide scale. (A lecture on mass transit systems.) Microeconomics: the study of the aggregate of individual market transactions. (A study of the average gas mileage of the local buses.) Picoeconomics (Browneian economics): the study of the relationship of individual human beings to the economic world each lives in. (Directions to the nearest bus stop.)

EGO - PSE-148 161 A man's ego is his mind - his faculty of awareness - the faculty that preserves the inner continuity of his own existence and generates his sense of personal identity. Ego and mind denote the same fact of reality: that which knows, judges and feels. A person has a strong sense of identity when he knows what he thinks and values in the important areas of his life, and continues to pursue those values in action. One experiences a strong sense of identity as an emotional constant, which can be summed up in the feeling, "I know who I am." A person who tells you that he has spent the last six months with a guru in India trying to find out who he is, is confessing that he does not know his values and does not have a strong sense - or perhaps any sense - of personal identity. The key to personal identity is values. The more developed, integrated, and intensely held are a person's values, the stronger is his sense of identity . If you know that you like to travel, or that you like to knit, or that you just like to walk in the forest - any activity that gives you pleasure - that will go toward building a feeling of "That is me." Furthermore, strongly-held values in any area of a person's life will make him more consistent, stronger, and more of a candidate for happiness. The more you know what you like, and what will make you happy, the more you know who the "you" that you "are" is. No one is born with a strong sense of identity; it has to be developed. Such development can be observed most dramatically during adolescence: teenagers are normally involved in an intense process of separating and individuating themselves from their parents, eagerly trying to find the


David King - A Guide to the Philosophy of Objectivism 222 values which will make them uniquely themselves. •

EGOISM 62/Sep/39 Holds that man is an end in himself; that ethically the beneficiary of an action should be the person who acts. WAR-31 Holds that self interest is man's proper moral goal. The egoist is the person with the true ego; he has a rationally based sense of his self worth. The egotist is the one who falsely inflates his image. He is the braggart or the megalomaniac. These two terms, egoism and egotism, differentiate rational from irrati