If you are a complete shit bag but want to feel good about yourself, what can you do? Easy! Become a Christian. They have no moral standards whatsoever. There is one and only one: “Do you accept Jesus as your lord and savior?” Yes-you go to heaven. No-well, you’re own your own. They can send angels down, maybe, but unless you get on board, you’re in the wilderness, sorry. This was said to me by an older woman trying to convert me, verbatim.
When I heard all this, I thought it was absurd. Because it is absurd. A pastor bragged, “Other religions give good advice. We bring good news.” Which is …. ? An after life? Are you kidding? You promise me something I’ll never be able to verify in the now. Sure. Thank you oh benevolent giver of all things.
My experience in life is absolute dirt bags get behind religion. My abusive, gambling father–yup. My ex neighbor who was authoritarian with his children and liked to give lectures to teenage girls about “respect”–yup. That sweet little old lady who wanted illegal immigrants caged–yup. You can be a total dirt bag. But if you “accept Jesus as your lord and savior,” you’re held up in society’s good graces. Me, a straight A student, a fantastic mother, a child development researcher–nah. There is every tiny reason in the book to smear me as a total bitch. I can put you in touch with my relatives and in-laws to verify my bitch status.
Masks are the new Jesus. Religion is fading, fast. The younger generation just aren’t into church. But now you don’t need a cross around your neck, you just need a mask to prove your moral worthiness. You can borrow money and never pay it back, eat so atrociously as to be over 300 pounds, and abuse others–but you wear a mask! And you can get up on your high horse about others who don’t. And dish out your narcissistic abuse crying “too bad, so sad” to parents forever kicked off of airlines because their two year old wouldn’t wear a mask. Everything I just wrote is a true story.
Covid19 is the new original sin. By default of just living, you are a danger. You must act accordingly, with shame, proving your compliance.
This is all a desperate attempt for the religious-minded to get back in control. Not for religion to win. But because the powerful want to use shame as a weapon again.
Before humans could identify paternity, humans were not monogamous and did not live in families. Women did most work, gathering or farming, and naturally had leadership roles. When men figured out how to identify if they were the father, women were shackled. They were taken out of open life and monitored. The penalty for adultery was death.
All major religions are designed around monitoring and controlling women. All of them, starting with Moses, who murdered people to instill fear. We should be utterly terrified of religion.
This is the source of poor treatment of women. You’ll find it in abundance in Objectivist circles. It’s taken as a given that men can abuse and insult women, and women are to stay complacent. Rand directly says women look best when “chained.” She took pride when someone called her the most courageous “man.” Objectivism is just another religion. Like all religions, it’s patriarchal and intended to control people. There is a reason the cover of Towards Liberalism is a woman breaking free.
The issue is monotheism versus polytheism. And really just mono versus poly: one versus many. Modern religion demands monotheism: following one path, and one that favors men. Polytheistic religions, most of which didn’t even believe in an afterlife, celebrated a wide variety of types of humans. Objectivism, which inflicts on us rational self interest, and favors men, is very “mono.” It’s one way of life, one way of being.
It’s every conversation I have with Objectivist men. Well, and women, too, often. They insist you play nice, never insult anyone–but they can do it all day long.
Let’ say they say women are parasites or the like, agreeing with the Ayn Rand quote below. I call them a male chauvinist POS. They then cry I am making an “ad hominem”! Oh really. You were misogynistic and I just called you out. But *I* am always the angry, irrational one who “can’t make a mature comment.” They, however, get to call women parasites, lazy, etc., all day long. They aren’t making ad hominems. Nor are they even insulting anyone. They are just stating FACTS.
It’s the same, repeat, ad nauseum. They get to make wild claims, punch and hard, but if you punch back–it’s an endless circle of calling you a bitch, angry, irrational. It’s classic gaslighting, insults, and narcissistic abuse.
It is etched in our culture that men are allowed to dish out abuse and if women at all return it, they are a bitch. It’s engrained in religion. I write here that it’s a desperate attempt to ensure paternity. When people figured out how to trace paternity, women went from leaders in society to cattle to breed children for men. Men are super good at throwing shame at women, and letting it linger there, and never assuming any themselves.
I punch back now because it’s the only language they know.
Wow. That’s interesting. I mean, it’s a story of a man who got falsely accused of major banking errors, whose life was about to be destroyed, who felt utterly worthless, and came close to suicide. A man, an “angel,” helps him and a loving, supportive family and community comes to support him, assures him of all the good he’s done, and that he is valued. It reads communist all over. For sure.
So, whatcha got? Why? Why is this “communist”? Were the producers secretly communist spies? Was there some slipped in communist message that I didn’t see? What’s going on?
It praises the little man and damns bankers. That’s why. I can’t make this up, peeps. Read through the article yourself.
You know, there is a rich history with Ayn Rand. I mean she appeared before the HOUSE OF UNAMERICAN COMMITTEES. This is huge. Like, this is a huge part of American history. And yet when I was in Objectivist circles, such huge historical things were never discussed. I remember a glib statement saying Rand felt that the HUAC “went after mid level commies not the big ones” or something to that effect. Maybe she said that or something like that, I don’t know. But when you read through the report, her focus was solely on the themes of the movies. Not that they had any ties to any government trying to subvert the United States. She focused her criticism mainly on a movie called Song of Russia, which glorified Soviet living. Which is fair. It’s a propaganda film. But as far as actual criminal allegations … ? Maybe I never heard Objectivist history because it speaks so poorly of Ayn and Objectivists? See also Therapist, a tale of a woman sexually exploited by her Objectivist psychoanalyst.
Demonizing bankers. Just totally falsely. Wow. You know this does happen, right? People do cook books, pass blame around, and do bad things? You can give the Utopian version of bankers–that they do what’s right and free market principles keep them in check–but the fact is it’s just not totally true. Especially since banks are tied in with government. They have legal force on their side. And the natural tendency is for those with wealth to keep wealth–by any means necessary. We see it with lockdown in 2020 now. The very rich elite backed the narrative about a virus with a 99%+ survival rate as a reason to shut down entire economies. It has slaughtered small business, freed up desirable real estate, and transferred wealth around via “stimulus” packages. The wealthy made out like bandits and small business and the working class suffered big time. It’s a blatant wealth transfer. Drive by hero-y heroic capitalists. And, oh, those little businesses and small people. We don’t glorify such lazy parasites who live entirely only by benefit of top producers. We’re not communists around here.
Bankers can behave badly. Managers behave badly. Capitalists behave badly. One report suggests that 30% of bosses may be mildly or highly toxic. As Objectivists ARE toxic, I am not sure they can identify what toxic behavior is or that it is bad.
The fact is Rand was a narcissistic psychopath. The mental state of a narcissist is just like George Bailey about to jump–at all times. They learn to cope, on their own. They sneer at a community coming to him in support. It’s what they want but deep down know they’ll never get. Their highly psychopathic mothers and family never gave them this in their childhood. And so now they advance this idea of “every man for himself,” passing it off as rational thinking of course–but it isn’t. Read Nathaniel Branden’s book about Rand. Do it. Read. It’s clear Rand was a severe narcissist. And notice what happened to Barbara Branden: she constantly worried some catastrophic thing would happen. That’s Borderline Personality Disorder. Narcissists invoke this in their victims. They berate, insult, and smear the victim, taking away their sources of strength, and make them dependent. The victim always feels like they can be cast off to die. This is the psychological hellhole narcissists live in–and the world they work towards.
Ayn Rand had incredibly disparaging views on women. It should not be any surprise that feminists and women studies groups rejected her–as a rebuttal to the men who think feminists should fawn over Ayn Rand because of Dagny Taggart. Here is Rand on American women:
As a group, American women are the most privileged females on earth: they control the wealth of the United States—through inheritance from fathers and husbands who work themselves into an early grave, struggling to provide every comfort and luxury for the bridge-playing, cocktail-party-chasing cohorts, who give them very little in return. Women’s Lib proclaims that they should give still less, and exhorts its members to refuse to cook their husband’s meals—with its placards commanding: “Starve a rat today!” (147)
Gee thanks, you bitch. Men are just so over worked. Women are nothing but cock tail chasing, lazy bitches. I have a refutation to this here: Relieving Mental Load: It’s a Power Structure Change. There is real data there about how much men versus women work, with links if you are at all curious to find out more. But if you can’t otherwise see the misogyny and abuse in this, I otherwise can’t help you.
Below is a brief summary of some of my arguments. It’s in response to some of the questions I have received on social media. But this does not replace reading the book.
The Challenges to Objectivsm
The Objectivist view on emotions is that we have an emotional mechanism but we program it with our rational mind. Emotions in Objectivism are treated like a wild animal that we have to discipline. Rand says that we are bound to feel something but what we feel is up to us. If we program (her word) our thoughts correctly, we can program our happiness to drive us towards what seems so logical: outwardly rational, productive success.
The challenge made in this book is that we cannot control our emotions such as to tell us what should make us happy. It is like the feedback on the dashboard on a car. It comes prepackaged. The feedback already knows the car. We cannot override it. These emotions help us in everyday life. They speak to us and teach us. Managing these hardwired emotions, as they personally edify a person, is much more important than dominating them.
To make it more clear: Rand says you can control what makes you happy. She has you setting your values to value productivity, etc., such that you feel happy when you are productive, such as to aid in your “objective survival.” Happiness then becomes a “lightning quick barometer” in the aid of your life. She has you taming your emotions like disciplining a horse, which then goes to work for you.
My argument is that emotions don’t work like this. You cannot program what makes you happy. It’s prewired. Your body knows you better than you can override it. It knows its authentic needs. And emotions are often much more like a horse that bucks up and runs away. Knowing how to handle this is much more important in your everyday life and even in maintaining a moral composure.
This is what I mean that emotional management tools are more important than a rational morality. My main challenge is in the role of the mind. I advocate consciousness, not rationality. I advocate a patient, observant approach to emotions, not a dominating one. When any emotion arises in me, I hold it in conscious awareness, without judgment. However, I cannot control what emotions I will feel in response to life events. And that’s where Rand goes wrong: she has you judging and controlling your emotions, which is a dangerous thing to do.
Rand says that you either drive the subconscious or it drives you. The challenge made in Towards Liberalism is that the subconscious is like a puppy that works for you in the background. Its main needs are not domination and control, but sleep and play. Rand says your conscious mind should be on all waking hours of the day. But the subconscious works best when the mind can blur a little bit. It does most of its work when you sleep. It does work also when your mind is slightly spaced out, such as when brushing your teeth.
Rand says you literally “drive” your emotions (see Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged); that your values provide the fuel of where your internal state goes.
The challenge is that you do not have any control over this. You were likely born with a particular personality that derives pleasure in the way you were hardwired to. Some people like a good book by the fireplace. Others like jumping out of airplanes. You may indeed value productivity and profit–that’s natural–but this is not something you can program. Happiness is much more self-honored than self-created.
Rand’s views on emotions are very much like a person suffering trauma. With trauma, the body’s emotional mechanism takes on a life of its own: always trying to prevent the previous threat from harming the body. All of Rand’s views on emotions seem to be trying to control this very beast. We need to heal this out of whack internal mechanism, not try to dominate it. We need to become trauma aware.
Rand’s metaphysics are not just “study reality correctly.” It’s “study the outside world and put those whims away.” She pits feelings against an ability to study correctly. This is not in alignment with research on the topic, which shows that authentic, primary emotions aid in learning.
Rand says the purpose of morality is to teach you to be happy and enjoy your life. The challenge is that morality, by its judgmental, shame-inducing nature, cannot do that.
All performance-based moralities command a person to succeed. If a person does not, the result is shame. Performance-based moralities create shame, unease, and anxiety where they need not be. And this most definitely does not go towards the end of putting a person in touch with reality.
It is the job of science, not morality, to teach us to be happy.
“Rationality” in Objectivism isn’t just “study reality.” It’s “know your reasons for every action in your life.” If any kind of intuition drives a person, this is put down as a person acting irrationally. Further, what emotions you feel are to be judged to be “appropriate responses to reality.” Rand doesn’t allow that all of your feelings are valid. Who has the “right” feelings or who is acting “irrationally” or whose problems are “petty” or what even the definition of human nature is are huge power plays.
“Rationality” as used this way, and how it is indeed typically used, is not reason. It is authoritarianism. I reject it in favor of other terms. Reason, which I still embrace, is an act of focusing one’s mind to study something and it plays a contextual role in life. “Consciousness” is the active, gentle monitoring of the inner world and the term I prefer to denote the mind’s role in guiding the inner life. I reject totally the term “rationality” at this point.
Objectivism has an abuse problem. Rand herself was abusive, in how she was and her writing, and her adherents notoriously insult, shame, and humiliate others. I wouldn’t have hastened to write this book, except for the predatory, gaslighting, insulting, abusive behavior I’ve routinely received from Objectivists.
The good news is that people who study abuse say that abuse is a product of how a person thinks. Abusive people feel good about their abuse; they see no problem with it. Towards Liberalism identifies abusive behaviors in inter personal dealings and calls them out as immoral: insults, triangulation, humiliation, double standards, etc. This book takes direct moral aim at where it needs to be: not at selfishness or laziness–or altruism or evasion–but at abuse itself. The moral system in Towards Liberalism goes to work for you.
Much more important to human thriving than a morality of rational self-interest is properly caring for children. Properly caring for children is virtually nowhere in formal Objectivist ethics. Rand says she designed her ethical system based on human nature, but she ignored the enormous 20-year investment it takes to raise a human.
She never identifies “woman” in her system, always “man,” thus ignoring the importance of reproduction and what women are quite simply biologically designed to be superior at. That Objectivism ignores caregiving and women are Objectivist Blindspots #8 and #9.
Here is where Objectivism is extremely poor. The explicit Objectivist position is to take a blank child and transform him or her into a rational producer. You can find this exact sentiment in Teaching Johnny to Think by Leonard Peikoff. An adult is heavy handed and lecturing in doing this. Ideas like this are in the way of more progressive, alternative, better forms of hands-on education, which Objectivists routinely mock. See Tabula Rasa verus Child Development: Deep Views on Human Nature Matter
Rand famously writes, “show me what a man finds sexually attractive and I’ll tell you his entire philosophy on life.” Rand turns sex into judgment: who you sleep with is a trial of your character. Sex more than anything is where the inner world and its rhythms should be respected. Rand controls and constrains sex. Towards Liberalism greatly liberalizes this part of life. I call for the full legalization of all sex work.
Rand advocated radical capitalism. This rests on her view that everything man needs must be produced. But not everything needed to live needs to be produced, such as land. There is no solid moral underpinning for abundant wealth, like land.
“Capitalism” denotes a certain bias: in favor of capitalists as opposed to others. It also had a implicit view of how raw resources and their use are intertwined. Instead, I prefer the term “free markets” to describe proper economics. It hints that there is a hustle and bustle to market activity, with booms and busts, and things that go well and poorly.
Objectivism, as I accuse, attempts to mold and transform a person. This is because it erroneously believes in tabula rasa and can and must “program” people to be “rational.” Here is Peikoff stating this is the exact purpose of education:
“The idea of education is to take a tabula rasa (someone born blank) and transform him, through a systematic process across years, into a being with the skills and aptitudes necessary to fit him for adult life. (2)”
In the future, I may include my most powerful chapter in Towards Liberalism entitled “Children are Born with a Spark Plug.” Rand says the mind is like a car engine that has no spark plug. I argue EMOTIONS are that spark plug. And children ARE born with spark plugs–mother nature provides spark plug after spark plug during child development. For now, see my age-related child development research at www.theobservantmom.com. See my Hills of Child Development explaining some of these “shock awareness” that children are given.
I am most known for my child development work. Objectivism does its biggest damage in education. How? Well it thinks children should be “transformed.” Video here.
See also The Grumpy Gorilla: Ending the Patriarchal Tyranny of ‘Disciplining’ Children: Highly patriarchal cultures, and Rand’s Objectivism is very patriarchal, engender an idea that children’s “misbehavior” needs “disciplined.” Females used to push men away to tend to their young during their highly irritating developmental stages. Now “father knows best” and instead of the men going away, young are expected to calm down and “behave.” This is the toxic effect of Objectivism and all patriarchal systems, and of all systems of thought for the past 6,000 years: they strip women of their natural intuition and power in child care. This is why the world is so broke. And Objectivists would never even be able to see it, as they just plain don’t understand women or child rearing.
Amber studies the age-related developmental stages of child development. She directly refutes philosophies that says we are born with a blank slate. See her book series, Misbehavior is Growth.
People ask me for resources that challenge Objectivism. This will be a growing list of things I find relevant.
The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult. This was written by Murray Rothbard–a big name in libertarian circles. I can vouch for everything he says here. I also, for instance, get put through the “you have to read Rand forever” treatment. By old cultist members? No, by young men in the year 2020. The vortex of Rand is strong and draws people to it every time they pick up Rand. It needs a direct challenge.
My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden. Branden coined the very term “Objectivism” and made it a movement with his lecture series and Institute back in the day. If you are going to go down the Objectivist path, it is worth it to take a look at what he said. He desists from diagnosis of Rand but it’s pretty clear she had a terrible case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Shrugging Off Ayn Rand – by NY Times bestselling author and ex-Objectivist Michael Prescott. I could not agree more with his assessment that Rand disassociates a person from the intuitive part of their mind.
Sam Vaknin’s website. Vaknin’s website describes Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It doesn’t deal with Rand or Objectivism. I recommend it, however, to show how in alignment with NPD Objectivism is. Look through how much the narcissist wants to chase excitement, rationalizes bad behavior (e.g., smoking), and feels they have objective laser-like judgment expressly without feelings.
The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. I have not read this book. However, it takes to ask the idea of tabula rasa. If you want a more technical argument against tabula rasa itself–which I think is THE issue of our time–here is one.
The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. van der Kolk. This book is about trauma. I believe Objectivism attracts people who have been traumatized, even if they don’t know it. This book offers better ideas to deal with it–some of which directly counter Objectivism doctrine. Visceral healing–the stuff deep in the body–is what is needed.
The Awakened Family by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. I recommend this because Dr. Tsabary has much better thoughts on emotions than Ayn Rand. She describes how good/evil thinking often inflames situations. It is a parenting book, but I can’t find these ideas in any book that isn’t a parenting book. Perhaps that is because parenting is where these skills are learned and imparted.
Psychology Books. Objectivism acts as a psychology. And yet Objectivists often want to compare it to other philosophies. I am asking you to read books by psychologists and compare them to Objectivism. Rand shuts down inquiry into psychology by describing it as being, at the time, dominated by mystics. It was not and is not. Psychology is rich with insight. Try reading books by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Elaine R. Aron, Dr. Haim Ginott, Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber, or really any book from any person who, unlike Rand, actually studies human nature. Pick one on any topic that might directly impact or influence you, such as having narcissistic or borderline parents. The market is saturated with such books. Most of all, read Carl Jung.
Towards Liberalism: A Challenge to Objectivist Ethics. Yes. My book. I attempt to go in and dismantle Objectivism piece by piece. I offer a vision of a non-punitive world, both politically and personally and a strong caregiving ethics. I have an unwavering vision of creating strong, vivacious people through proper caregiving. Please recommend it to your friends, family, colleagues, students, and reading groups!
Objectivists think they have all the answers to the major, pressing life problems. But like all ideologies, it’s just a thought system that fails to satisfactorily answer the life problems it says it solves. It just turns into a system of ever expanding rules, domination, and control.
As with all poor thought systems, it is in its blind spots that you can dismantle it. Of course–good luck getting its adherents to see it tends to be exasperating. Ideologies never like seeing the damage they do, believing so hard it is something outside of the ideology that causes the damage.
10 Objectivist Blindspots
1. They see no connection between the philosophy and the bad behavior of its adherents
Objectivists are notoriously caustic, judgmental, and abusive. I argue this has to do with the philosophy itself, which lacks empathy. This is in alignment with what abuse counselor Lundy Bancroft says: abusers have a distorted sense of right and wrong. They feel profoundly justified in their abuse, as part of their ethical framework says it’s OK. And defining right and wrong is exactly what Objectivism does. Objectivists feel good about themselves when they give what they think are intellectually devastating arguments, laced with abusive commentary, as they think they are advancing a “rational” society.
The irony is they think philosophy drives the core of a person. Rand literally says you drive your emotions and if you find yourself in a bad position to “check your fuel.” But when you point out this link between Objectivist’s abusive behavior and the philosophy, they reel, “well the adherents don’t indict the philosophy!” This philosophy which proposes to tell them what to do in almost every area of their life.
2. They think they have defined all of human nature
Objectivism declares man as a “rational animal.” When I argue that this is too narrow of a definition and ignores too much about humans, I get told, “but it’s just a basic scientific definition that separates us from animals!” Yeah but you take this “basic” scientific definition and build an elaborate moral-political system based on it. They identify who is moral and who is immoral, who deserves political protection and who doesn’t. It has profound effects in all areas of life. The other parts of humans, their emotional, instinctual, visceral side—the stuff that truly humanizes us—is ignored. And it’s not just ignored; Rand advocates to dominate these parts with the rational mind. All because of this “basic scientific definition.”
3. It outlines that all emotions can be controlled
Rand has elaborate thoughts on emotions. All of Objectivism is basically crawling into a person to set their value system such that their automatic emotional appraisals in life aid in their daily survival. Rand says your thinking sets your values, therefore sets your emotions.
My main argument to Rand is that she has no system of thought for how to handle emotions as they arise in daily life. She sees emotions as something you discipline to do work for you, like taming a horse. But emotions can be more like a wild horse that bucks up and runs away. What then? Objectivism has no answer. And these wild, raging emotions are where much human strife comes from. She offers no healthy way to deal with them. Thinking you have total control over your emotions, that you can set them to basically do what you want for you ahead of time, is dangerous territory. Hence it is Objectivist Blind Spot #3.
4. Rand does not allow you to defend yourself
Rand’s views on gun control itself are a bit vague. This is mostly because she agrees you might own a gun to hunt. But she does worse than deny a person gun rights. Her views on self-defense are clear: you have a right to self-defense, but you personally do not have the right to enact it. You must defer this to the government. She makes her arguments by taking the reader’s mind to other places than the issue at hand: what if your life is immediately threatened? She doesn’t discuss it. She doesn’t really grant that you have a right to save your life in an immediately threatening moment. She explicitly writes that you do not have the right to the retaliatory use of force, as your “whims” cannot be trusted, let alone given the power of a gun. That she purposely distracts the reader’s mind from this very important point and leaves a person defenseless more than makes this Objectivist Blind Spot #4.
5. It denies the authentic feedback that emotions give us
Rand declares one must “always know the motives” for what they are doing. Reason isn’t just a focusing of the mind, it’s an all-encompassing thing to her, to do in every moment of your life. If you have some little voice telling you something isn’t right, this is seen as irrational intuition. So, if your conscious mind is telling you something is right, but your own body is rebelling, you override it. And this is an especially bad blind spot. As Objectivism is failing you and you feel terrible about it, you are left to feel you failed rather than something about Objectivism is failing you. This blind spot serves to keep Objectivism entrenched in a person when all other warning signs should be telling a person to reject it.
6. It demotes therapies that could heal trauma as “immoral”
In this book, I outline how Rand does this for music, but it can apply to any similar situation. For music, Rand demotes music that might simply makes one feel good as that meant for dull people. She theorizes that bringing objectivity to music might mean that the more complex the music is, the “better” it is, and a “better sort” of man would like it. In doing this, she denies music’s role in healing people. She tends to get especially testy about anything that could heal trauma, such as “monotonous” music or validating art. That she pathologizes practices that have healing effects makes this Objectivist Blind Spot #6.
7. It denies that outside forces might affect a person
Rand outright mocks that outside forces might influence a person or their ability to succeed, or, rather, anyone who suggests as much. And yet, almost all successful therapies focus on helping a person see the bigger picture. Your failures in life probably weren’t because you personally made terrible decisions. Something bigger at play was likely going on. That Objectivism denies that other factors do influence human life, ones we haven’t even yet discovered, more than makes this an Objectivist Blind Spot.
8. It does not ethically uphold quality child raising
Objectivists might argue that raising children properly is “implicit” in Objectivism. This plain isn’t good enough. They don’t understand what quality childcare is. They have no idea how much work and dedicated effort it requires—if they did, they would uphold it in their ethical system. It’s only implicit in that children are expected to conform to the poorly thought out Objectivist ideal: taking a child born “tablula rasa,” blank, and turning them into a rational producer. This by nature engenders a heavy handed, authoritarian approach, where children are pushed to the peripheral.
9. It denies the identity and needs of half of the human race
Rand only references “man” in her work. When I say this, people always insist, “well she means women too.” Yeah, well, women are different than men. Women don’t just fold into men’s agendas and typical thought patterns. They have different bodies, different needs, different sexualities, and almost always different prescribed roles in society. What their difference is—an entire reproductive capability—is nowhere in formal Objectivist ethics. Rand says the most feminine look of all is being “chained.” Think about it.
10. It has no moral underpinning for abundant (“metaphysical”) wealth like land
Rand based all of her politics off of her morality, and her morality says man is a rational producer who must produce everything to live. This isn’t true. Some wealth, like the air, land, water, and raw resources, are readily abundant. Their care is also not intuitively obvious, such as taking care of the environment. Objectivism can offer no good insight into the management of these things, because its moral underpinning ignores their very existence. This makes this Objectivist Blind Spot #10.
Objectivists are so very arrogant about how they study and understand reality better than you, you irrational hedonist. But it’s in their blind spots that you can dismantle this system.
My challenge to Objectivism focuses mainly on the role of the mind. Using the psychological experiment of “Rat Park” is, so far, the best way I’ve found to explain it.
Previous to the study using “Rat Park,” studies done on laboratory rats were conducted in which rats were given the choice of water or water that was laced with some kind of drug such as cocaine. These studies, using caged rats, showed that the rats would pick the cocaine-laced water over plain water to the point of dehydration and death.
But when one psychologist, Dr. Bruce Alexander, attempted this same experiment in the 1970s but put the rats in “Rat Park,” the results were different. Instead of being caged, the rats were allowed to roam, play, socialize, and have sex. These rats, on average and over time, tended to choose the plain water (Sederer). They didn’t need the cocaine.
This could not explain my challenge to Objectivism better. If properly cared for, humans can be trusted: they pick water. If denied love, comfort, and relationships, indeed their inner “whims” become unreliable: they pick cocaine.
That the inner world is unreliable and needs a disciplining ethics is what Objectivism is based on. “Rat Park” but for humans, an abundant, happy world, in which inner and outer world are in conscious, present, joyful harmony, is what I am fighting for.
Psychologists and even philosophers, for decades, have cited the original rat experiments as a reason for the rational mind to dominate the “lower” parts of the brain: the mammalian (responsible for emotions) and lizard (responsible for fight/flight) brains. Rand similarly starts her Objectivist ethics by declaring the inner world is chaotic and in need of discipline. Rand bases her system on the assumption that humans are born “tabula rasa.” The best way I have been able to describe tabula rasa, as it relates to emotions, is that a person’s emotional mechanism is like a wild horse in need of taming. Rand describes that you’ll have some emotions, but what you feel is based on your values. She has elaborate thoughts on how to discipline emotions, including happiness, to do what we tell them to, describing them as otherwise potentially out of control and destructive.
My argument is this is unnecessary and even counterproductive. My argument is that these parts of the mind, the inner world, do not needdominated. If traumatized, people sometimes need a strong thought paradigm to program and restrain their inner world, such as the caged rats would. But if properly cared for, which is a gentle and loving pursuit, those “inner whims” can be trusted. This inner world is in fact a guiding light, especially when parenting and educating children: it’s the exact place where we can thrive as humans. We need to move away from highly “rational” rugged individualism and towards proper caregiving of each other, on a personal level. And don’t confuse my argument as one for socialism or altruism.
When Dr. Alexander did this study in the late 1970s, it was rejected by major scientific magazines. This just kills me. This shows just how entrenched views of “strict discipline of the inner world leads to success” were in the past and still are. I am writing strongly against this otherwise seemingly intoxicating view that we need to take the reins over our personal inner world to achieve success (i.e., the need for control). I write this book, targeting people’s ethics, entirely to shake up these stale moral paradigms that block such scientific progress.
The mind’s role over the inner world is what the challenge is. I advocate a mind that is conscious: one that patiently governs the inner world. I pit this against a mind that is “rational”: one that dominates the inner world, as the entire moral framework of Objectivism is based on. My argument is that Rand’s all-encompassing “rational morality”—the very thing she spent much of her life developing— is unnecessary and even counterproductive. There is a motor inside us that we don’t understand, and it isn’t the reasoning brain. It is much more visceral than that. And in not understanding it, we routinely abuse it and each other.
What we need is an ethos of caregiving: to properly care for each other, especially in youth. Proper caregiving erases entirely the need for an all-encompassing rational morality.
And this has enormous implications in health, education, parenting, and more.