It’s truly stunning to watch Objectivists during lockdown. Their philosophy won’t let them come out against it. Their philosophy says government control is warranted during “crisis.” Many proudly wore their masks, etc. And now, after thousands of small businesses were shut down, many were sent into despair and committed suicide, large businesses and churches with the legal know-how to get government money did so and promptly grabbed for more power and land, all they can complain about is the checks sent to people during lockdown, who were legally compelled to stay home. The recipients are seen as the looting masses who are encouraged to feel morally superior.
One told me Mark Zuckerberg is the victim in all this. He feels existentially threatened by the government and is cooperating to “keep all that he worked so hard for.” Right. Ok. Proof positive that businesses by and large had NO moral courage in this, whatsoever.
Join me. Let’s figure out a resistance to this. See www.exobjectivist.com for a new path to freedom and a new understanding of human nature itself. We are not born with Original Sin. We are not near nihilists prone to whim. A few elite producers don’t drive the whole economy. The power belongs to the people. Let’s take it back.
I’ve been working on two theories about the human psyche. One is what I call “moral bias.” It is when a person’s “should” prevents them from seeing the “is.” They want so much for some ideal to be a reality that it shuts down objectivity. The other theory I’ve been working on is new and probably difficult to explain but it’s that humans only really see reality accurately if they are grounded, through empathy, by other humans. Loosely, I can explain it like this: Consciousness is mostly just swirling images in your head–whether or not you get them RIGHT is dependent on having positive interactions with reality. And positive interaction, for humans, is very much dependent on relationships with other humans. If another human verifies they see X, it is highly validating. If another human says they do not see X, when you do, this is absolutely crazy making for humans.
One of the best examples I can give to explain this is the hallucinations people have when they find themselves in a terrible circumstance. When people are parched in the desert, it’s well known they start to see bodies of water–mirages. Similarly, when sailors are lost at sea, some have been known to be so convinced that they see land (when there isn’t any) that they “dock,” jump over the ship, and plunge to their deaths.
This first of all explains, partially, just how important other people are to grounding a human. Without another human to also see what you see, you start to not even see the basic facts of reality right. This is an extreme example, but it has applications in a million other places, big and small. Have you ever lost your keys? How maddening is that? Not seeing/knowing where something is can be utterly maddening for humans. Now imagine that an abusive person in your house is hiding the keys on purpose, for the kick they get out of seeing you frustrated. This is, essentially, what gaslighting is. And it’s extremely effective at putting humans over the edge. (Unless you know what it is: then it becomes easier to deal with.)
Seeing the mirage also can be explained by moral bias. Moral bias is when a person’s “should” prevents them from seeing the “is.” It is always kicked off during crisis mode, which I explain at the main page of this site. But in this case, you want so bad to see a body of water in the desert or land out at sea, that the brain conjures up the very image of it. It SHOULD be there, according to the human mind. That it is NOT there is not something the human mind can readily accept.
Consciousness, as I wrote, as per the theory I am working on, is just swirling images in your head. And the human mind is slightly weighted towards WANTING certain things to happen. As a baby, you EXPECT to have a mother. If not, you’ll go seek it out. When lost at sea, you EXPECT to see land. This expectation is so powerful and so strong that the brain conjures up the image itself. This all can be explained by Jungian psychology, in which it is argued we are born with certain “knowledge” from our ancient past.
When you start to look at the inner workings of this, you start to doubt the idea of “tabula rasa.” How consciousness works is an incredibly complicated and evolved things. It is not enough to simply declare we are born with a blank slate, as if it’s obvious, and one must learn everything. Honestly, this may–or may not–be true. If a child is born with the expectation of having a mother, they are born with the idea of “mother.” Consciousness becomes as passed down through lineage as hair color, height, and other physical attributes. When babies are born, it’s well regarded they don’t really see reality that well. Do they spend their time exploring reality? When they start to sit up, crawl, and walk, yes. As newborns? Not entirely. They mostly sleep. What images are they accessing in that sleep?
See my well-quoted refutation to Rand at the main site: Ex Objectivist.
Because I think seeing another human is important to the development of an idea, I include a picture of me here.
I am actually starting to get good at standing up to abuse. I have a system. I see it as if the abuser is a deceiving magician. They have their bag of tricks. I call out their bag of tricks. When they triangulate me, I say as much. When they belittle, I call it out. And, be prepared, because their next step is predictable: they will triangulate or belittle again. At that point I point out that I called them out and they did it again, and that they are like a shark seeing blood: they know no other way. I send the above article about Abusers Can’t Abuse People Familiar with Abuse.
And, one way or another, I feel really good about myself and the approach. Psychologists call what they do FOG: fear, obligation, guilt. They try to guilt and shame you to gain power. It is literally like a “fog,” a mist, meant to confuse. See through the fog, call it out. Have some potions of your own. Don’t let their tactics silence you. You can walk through a lot more difficult situations when you have these strategies at the ready. I plan on updating my book Towards Liberalism to include these tactics–and include my experience with Objectivists (abusive, caustic) and what tactics are effective against them. In short, catch them preattentively, get your hardest, biggest points in immediately, and use their own quotes do do it.
An abuse-free world is a world worth fighting for. Abuse obviously isn’t ideal when it happens to you. But it ultimately isn’t good if you have abusive tendencies inside you, either. Much more peaceful ways of living exist. Tackle narcissism, which is what it is, and we would be well on our way to a more peaceful, free, enjoyable life.
Yes, Objectivism is abusive. Abuse counselors say Abuse is in a Person’s Moral Paradigm. It’s not in their past trauma, it’s not in “unconsciousness.” It’s in their moral paradigm. They feel good about their abuse. They think it’s the right thing to do: that they are enacting something positive. And Objectivism is a moral paradigm.
There are some famous cases of Objectivist abuse. Or some of them are not-so-famous, because Objectivists are so good at putting its unsavory history down the memory hole.
Objectivist psychotherapy was a huge thing back in the day. Never heard of it? There’s a reason.
It ended when a prominent Objectivist psychoanalyst was found to be sexually exploiting patients. How did it happen? He claimed expert, rational status for himself, made her out to be crazy, and invalidated her feelings. A culture of hyper moral judgment didn’t help:
…there seemed to be rules for right and wrong for EVERYTHING in Objectivism. There was more than just a right kind of politics and a right kind of moral code. There was also a right kind of music, a right kind of art, a right kind of interior design, and right kind of dancing. There were wrong books which we could not buy, and right ones which we should… There were plays we should not see, records we should not listen to… And on everything, absolutely everything, one was constantly being judged, just as one was expected to be judging everything that was around him… It was a perfect breeding ground for insecurity, fear, and paranoia. (Pg. 45)
Yes. Objectivism is the perfect breeding ground for insecurity (what I call “shame”), fear, and paranoia (what I call “anxiety”). It is the perfect hunting ground for abuse, too.
She describes how Leonard (Lonnie Leonard, the therapist) make “nude jaunts,” judged her as psychologically inferior, and as not meeting his expectations when she wouldn’t agree to “wrestle” with him. He ascribed her resistance to sexual activity with him as neurosis.
This is how abuse operates. A person claims moral authority and the upper hand and discredits the victim, making her doubt herself. As one review of the book describes, “Just lie down and do what the nice doctor tells you.” This is what abusers do: they make a victim doubt their own senses and feelings. As the psychopath Phantom of the Opera sings to Christine, “Silently the senses. Abandon their defenses.” It is the same pattern over and over. No, they don’t come out and say, “Hey! I’m here to abuse you!” That’s now how it ever works. In war, it’s known you have to confuse and demoralize the enemy. This is what abusers do and exactly what Objectivism does.
And yet still people can’t see it. Another review of this book on Amazon describes “Sad, but no fault of Ayn Rand or Objectivism.”
Here is the antidote to this abuse, from Plasil. I want you to read this slowly:
…there were two lessons learned well. Never, never again would I let anyone tell me they know me better than I know myself. I have learned to trust my emotions—and to act on them… And I have learned never to tolerate abuse that goes unapologized for or unacknowledged… I’ve also learned that I deserve better. (219)
Murray Rothbard describes in “The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult” how Objectivist Psychotherapy was used as a means of control:
But the most important sanction for the enforcement of loyalty and obedience, the most important instrument for psychological control of the members, was the development and practice of Objectivist Psychotherapy. In effect, this psychological theory held that since emotion always stems from incorrect ideas, that therefore all neurosis did so as well; and hence, the cure for that neurosis is to discover and purge oneself of those incorrect ideas and values. And since Randian ideas were all correct and all deviation therefore incorrect, Objectivist Psychotherapy consisted of (a) inculcating everyone with Randian theory – except now in a supposedly psycho-therapeutic setting; and (b) searching for the hidden deviation from Randian theory responsible for the neurosis and purging it by correcting the deviation.
This…right here…is what I’m trying to say.
There is little more powerful than claiming morality, truth, beauty, all things comradery and friendship, and expertise, while others are ignorant, immoral, and irrational, as a way to abuse large numbers of people. Why can’t we see it? At some point, we might surmise that those who can’t see it or make excuses themselves have a vested interested in excusing abuse.
Branden coined the very term “Objectivism.” He made Objectivism what it was through his lecture series. You might want to read his side of the story. He doesn’t write it, but it’s clear Rand had a severe case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Branden describes somewhat how her hyper rationality led to this, but he never really dismisses Objectivism wholly, i.e., all the ground work for abuse remains. But you’ll get further insight into what was actually happening when Rand wrote certain things she wrote. Spoiler: she was sadistic and malicious.
Now go take a look at how Kira’s, Rand’s most autobiographical characters, eyes were “dark with ecstasy” at watching a slave owner whip his slaves or how Roark smiled the “slow smile” of an executioner. Her characters have narcissistic if not psychopathic traits. I will document more in The Moral Bias of Objectivism, as there is a LOT of it and it’s a lot to fully document here.
Now take all this to Objectivists are pseudo-Objectivist admirers and see their reaction. They deny any link between this bad, abusive behavior and Objectivism itself.
I’ve said in several places on social media now that Rand does not grant you permission to defend yourself. Of all issues, I get rebuked by Objectivists, “That is blatantly false!” No, dudes. Rand does not let you defend yourself. Here’s the quote:
There is only one basic principle to which an individual must consent if he wishes to live in a free, civilized society: the principle of renouncing the use of physical force and delegating to the government his right of physical self-defense, for the purpose of an orderly, objective, legally defined enforcement. (129, emphasis mine)
Rand says you do indeed have a right to self-defense. But you must delegate it to the government to enact. So, in actuality, you have no right to self-defense at all.
Even when I bring up this quote, I still get told Rand absolutely supported the right to self-defense. One Objectivist gave me this quote as proof,
The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.
This doesn’t deny my argument. I’m not arguing that Rand says you have no right to self-defense, per se. I’m arguing that she says you have to delegate that right to the government. Let’s wade through Rand’s word salad to see how she torturously comes to this conclusion.
I personally always had an uneasy feeling about Rand’s view on self-defense and gun rights, even when an Objectivist. This was even before my intense, critical study of Rand to write this book (which then proved that she does indeed intend to disarm citizens). I always ask other Objectivists if they had that same uneasy feeling. Or I hint at it, with a rhetorical question. For instance, why does Rand say government has a “legal monopoly on the use of force”? Doesn’t this mean that citizens should be disarmed? Doesn’t that strike you as a bit suspicious? The impression I get from other Objectivists is: no. They never had any uneasy feeling about anything Rand ever said. This alarms me; it does. In fact, they consistently deride me as a “mystic” because I had those sneaking suspicions about Rand all along. And yet my sneaking suspicions caused me to look harder and better at the issue; while they take everything Rand wrote at seeming face value. And they do. They seem entirely entranced by Rand and her characters—and I think men are more entranced because she has more male characters. But, yet, they decide I’m the irrational one—because I had a hunch or two when I read through things.
Ok. Let’s look at Rand’s explicit statements on this—and at her tap dancing explaining the issue of self-defense.
In “Man’s Rights” she writes,
Potentially government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed citizens. (115)
The reader’s emotions are validated big time here: the government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights. Indeed, as I read this, I think, “I wholeheartedly agree.” But, as an Objectivist, did you indeed ever wonder what this idea of government having a “legal monopoly on the use of force” means? And what are we to make of the idea that citizens are legally disarmed—Rand’s words?
As was the case when I was entranced by Rand when younger, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Surely, she didn’t mean a full “monopoly,” which if you took word for word means citizens would not have the right to firearms. But, yes, that’s exactly what she means.
In “The Nature of Government” she writes,
…the precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships. (126)
She writes that if a society provided no organized protection against force it would cause people to …
…go about armed, to turn his home into a fortress, to shoot any strangers approaching his door… (127)
She thus concludes,
…the use of physical force—even its retaliatory use—cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens.
The use of force. Even its retaliatory use. Cannot be left. At the discretion of individual citizens.
To prove her conclusion that you must “renounce” the use of physical force and “delegate” to government your right to self-defense, she asks us to visualize…
…what would happen if a man missed his wallet, concluded that he had been robbed, broke into every house in the neighborhood to search it, and shot the first man who gave him a dirty look, taking the look to be a proof of guilt.
I mean. That’s what you would do if your wallet went missing, right? You would go shoot the first person who gave you a dirty look?
I would indeed agree that this would be a terrible scenario. Except the overwhelming majority of people wouldn’t do this, should their wallet go missing. Even if something much more terrible happened than losing your wallet, people with emotional regulation tools to handle life’s difficult situations—which is what I advocate replace Rand’s morality of rational self-interest—would be unlikely to turn into bloodthirsty vigilantes like this. (Or they’d have enough emotional spark to at least go find out who, say, murdered their young daughter—and the moments immediately after such a crime are the most crucial.) This view that people will just shoot whoever, this very view of the nature of man, is always at the ideological root of people who advocate gun control, if not total gun confiscation.
But either way, her view is an obfuscation of the issue of what “retaliatory” force means. How do you just totally ignore the issue of physical self-defense in the immediate moment? That if a thief or murderer broke into your house, you should have the right to immediately stop the threat, in order to save your life? How is this not even discussed? Why do we let our minds go where Rand wants it to go, to the idea that we are shooting people who give us dirty looks, if given the use of retaliatory force?
To make her point that we should “delegate” to the government our right to self-defense, Rand purposely exaggerates the possibilities of what happens if people are given gun rights, in order to make the idea seem ridiculous and absurd. She gives the worst case example, offers no further insight into the many possibilities of what could happen, and then makes her sweeping conclusion that you delegate to government your right to self-defense.
Let me repeat her most pointed statement on it, with it slightly expanded:
There is only one basic principle to which an individual must consent if he wishes to live in a free, civilized society: the principle of renouncing the use of physical force and delegating to the government his right of physical self-defense, for the purpose of an orderly, objective, legally defined enforcement. Or, to put it another way, he must accept the separation of force and whim (any whim, including his own). (129, emphasis original)
Read the quote again. She doesn’t say you delegate justice to the government—which is the argument she used to defend her conclusion. You’re not handing over to the government the issue of what happens if your wallet is stolen. She says you delegate physical self-defense. Yes, she intends that citizens are “legally disarmed”—again, her quote.
This is Ayn Rand on gun control:
Q: What’s your attitude toward gun control?
A: It is a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people — they are not carried for hunting animals — and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don’t know how the issue is going to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim. (Ayn Rand, Ford Hall Forum, 1973)
Rand says you might have the right to own a gun, because you might use it to hunt. But she admonishes the person asking the question, “you have no right to kill people.” This is the kind of authoritative way Rand says things, meant to draw moral authority in a shaming way. She may as well have said, “You have no right to kill people, son.” You have no right to kill people. Emotions are not tools of cognition. She purposely says things like this to make the other look ridiculous. Be on the lookout for this. Because what you want in having a right to gun ownership is the “privilege to kill people at whim,” right? You know. Like William Hickman did—the man who murdered a 12-year-old girl that Rand exalted and almost based one of her fictional characters on. She just doesn’t know how to resolve this issue of self-defense versus murder at whim. Hmm, wonder why. (In general, psychopaths utterly hate the idea of their victims having gun rights.)
Rand’s views on gun rights are quite clear: she is suspicious. And, no, characters in her books having a gun are not indicative of her views on gun rights. It’s a fictional story meant to dramatize a point, always. Similarly, in Galt’s speech, Rand does write, through Galt, that he would meet a highway robber with force (937). However, Galt’s speech is more about fundamental principles of morality. It is a point about self-defense in general—and why he was currently resisting society’s laws. She does say you have a “right to self-defense.” The issue is whether or not you, a private citizen, are allowed to have the right to force for any reason at all, legitimate or not. Rand’s explicit answer is no.
If you buy into the idea that Rand would let you defend yourself, congratulations. You were given a lollipop, had your emotions validated about the issue, patted on the head, and sent on your merry way. No, Rand insidiously convinces you to disarm yourself.
For me, this issue is much deeper than any legal, technical argument about if Rand supported self-defense or gun rights. It is an issue of how your emotions play out in life. Rand directly says her position rests on the premise of “separation of force and whim.” But it’s those exact “whims” that are so important in the heated situation in which your life might be in peril, after someone, say, broke into your house to rape or murder you. Instead of responding swiftly and forcefully, we are now morally admonished that we might not even have the right to “kill someone.” Instead, we are admonished to ask: are we handling this in a right way? How are we going to deal with this in an “orderly, objective, legally defined” way? Do you know what this does to a person?
I leap to my feet when anyone discusses gun rights. My stance is “I have a right to defend myself. The end.” It is not up for debate. That’s my sense of life—my automatic emotional appraisal. That’s the sense of instinct of self-preservation that I so strongly have—of which Rand says, in Galt’s speech, that we do not have. I do not grant, not even a little bit, that giving government a legal monopoly of force while I am legally disarmed is in my interest, not even under the dubious circumstances that said government promises to uphold individual rights. And I believe my views are much more in alignment with individualism.
Virtually every psychologist says that the most important thing to your safety is being able to trust your gut instinct. Rand actively turns off this gut instinct, demoting it as a “whim.” And it’s exactly because of these unreliable whims that Rand actively denies you the use of a firearm in these moments. She leaves you defenseless. This is why it’s so important to put people in touch with their inner cores. This is the motor in humans that must be protected ethically and politically. It is not entirely the reasoning mind. It is much more visceral and intuitive than that. There is nothing more important to your survival than being in touch with your inner core. The issue of life beating in someone versus being in submission to a morality based on “rational self-interest,” the central point of this book, could not be clearer. Rand’s view is clear: lay down your whims and your weapons.
I am in total favor of gun rights and the right to self-defense. I have been around guns and gun owners my whole life. Some people simply geek out over guns. Some see it as necessary protection against too big of government. (And they are 100% correct.) Privately owned handguns have saved lives, such as stopping violent shooters in public places. There are thousands upon thousands of responsible gun owners in the United States. Rand’s views on guns are quite simply unforgivingly “vague” (they are not vague), not well thought out, not grounded in history, relies on asking us to imagine fictional scenarios, leaves people defenseless, and should be safely disregarded. She is not an authority on this topic.
You should note also that abuse experts say abuse is a mind game. If they bring everything to rational arguments, the abuser usually wins. Rebellious emotions must be turned off in the victim. The issue must be converted to the mind—and abusers are great at the mental gymnastics needed to win arguments. You, left defenseless, waiting for “objective law” to do what is right, is this. Some see Rand as a person who defends a person’s rights and seeks justice. In truth, you are left vulnerable and defenseless in her system. There’s the false sell of Objectivism. And then there’s actual Objectivism.
And anyone who thinks differently needs to go in and check Rand’s statements. Stop filling in what Rand said with what your own thoughts are. She’s very good at this—at leading you only so far, and letting your own thoughts fill in the rest, whatever they are—and you tend to like your own thoughts. At the very least if and when you speak in the name of “Objectivism,” recognize that Rand did not support gun rights. You can’t have your Rand and your gun rights too. That Rand leaves a person defenseless and does it with distracting, vague language more than makes this Objectivist Blind Spot #4.
I’ve been told my challenge to Rand’s view of human nature itself is nothing but a “nitty, gritty difference.” No, it’s not. It has very real practical implications—ones involving life or death. In this issue of self-defense, we see how Rand’s basic philosophical outlook on life, rooted in her view of man, as a blank entity who must submit to an objective morality and objective law, and how it manifests itself practically in a moral-political system. This is my point more than anything: this view of man as tabula rasa, who otherwise has chaotic whims without a mind to program them, has practical implications. Rand’s resultant conclusions based on these premises can be described as a sort of “wise authoritarianism.”
Amber is a total mystic who occasionally has hunches about things and should probably be tried for witchcraft. See her refutation to Rand at Ex Objectivist.
As noted, I’ve come a long way since shrugging Objectivism. As noted, I think it’s because I don’t think happiness is an achievement. Rand’s explicit position is that happiness is an achievement of one’s values and achieving your values “necessarily” makes you happy. From Rand,
But the relationship of cause to effect cannot be reversed. It is only by accepting ‘man’s life’ as one’s primary and by pursuing the rational values it requires that one can achieve happiness—not by taking “happiness” as some undefined, irreducible primary and then attempting to live by its guidance. If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessarily make you happy; but that which makes you happy, by some undefined emotional standard is not necessarily the good. To take ‘whatever makes one happy’ as a guide to action means: to be guided by nothing but one’s emotional whims. (32, emphasis mine)
“Necessarily” make you happy. Right.
I don’t agree. I don’t agree that happiness is an “achievement.” Happiness is given. It is primary, not secondary. I prefer the word “joy.” I know the default is happiness, joy, ease, and strength. Anything that takes me from that is temporary. I can snap back to it quickly. These are a launching point on which to achieve; not vice versa. Life is actually kind of easy and even a joy, even the hard parts. I kind of think people trying to take us from that, who put in us that we don’t get these things until we “earn” them, who hold out love, joy, and acceptance, until we [fill in] are kind of evil. They literally deride friends who accept us, colors we like, family we love, and vacations full of sunshine. I suspect nefarious, jealous intent.
In education, Objectivism is especially poor. Everything comes down to cognitive knowledge and hierarchy in Objectivism. They take no look at children and how they might best learn. They think they do, and that makes it worse. They think they understand the epistemological processes of the brain–comparing this and that, developing concepts–and thus if they present information in such conceptually clear ways, it’s all they need.
My argument is you have to monitor the emotions of the child to see if what you are doing is being received well. Emotions are like the Check Engine light on a car dashboard. It sincerely is meant to tell us something. Our job is to pay attention to it, not program that very Check Engine light. A distraught child means we aren’t handling them properly.
Objectivists don’t do this. Peikoff directly says in Teaching Johnny to Think:
If you want to teach thought, you must first put up a sign at the front door of the class: ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ ….the dominant presence and voice must be that of the teacher, the cognitive expert … (21)
He also says if a child can’t sit and listen to a lecture, he should be sent off to therapy. When the topic of emotions comes up, he simply mocks it. And it all rests on blank slate theory:
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)
It could not be written more plainly: take a child and transform him. Rand herself says tyrannies hold on to the belief that man is born “infinitely … malleable.” And Peikoff right there says a malleable (blank) child cannot have their biological nature trusted and must be transformed. My challenge. Right there.
And this rests on how he approaches his theories. Peikoff proudly says he approaches it from a philosophical perspective:
A philosophy of education is the application of epistemology and ethics to issues of education. The whole field can be approached from a philosophical basis, and once you have that viewpoint, it is much easier to determine what to do in education. (3)
The whole field “can be approached from a philosophical basis.” Not in studying children. Not in experience. Not in studies. From a philosophical perspective. From these philosophers who think they are the guardians of knowledge. This is how intellectually bankrupt Objectivism is.
And all of this creates for tremendous abuse. Sending a child off to a psychologist because they don’t do well in a lecture format of education is abuse. Rand routinely dishes out narcissistic abuse in her writing. If you think you are always right and other people’s feelings are by nature inferior, it engenders abuse, especially when you are rational and moral and others are irrational and immoral. Rand literally says to view the world as sick patients and to treat them one by one as you bring rationality to them.
Amber does child development work, which is popular and well used. Unlike “OBJECTIVISTS,” she actually studies children objectively, without the thought that, per correct philosophical premises, they need “transformed” into a “rational” adult.
The fallout of this is enormous. Rand passes such heavy moral judgment on so many things as to shut down curiosity into many areas of human life. On the subconscious alone, she makes this sweeping statement:
The enormously powerful integrating mechanism of man’s consciousness is there at birth; his only choice is to drive it or be driven by it. (The Romantic Manifesto, 27)
That’s a hell of a statement and one totally errant, in my research and study. I study the age-related stages children go through. The subconscious is not a malicious thing that we need to take the reins over before it does damage. It’s a powerful, healthy thing that does the lion’s share of mental development in a child and is where most human life actually lives. It speaks to us in the emotions it bubbles up in us and our children. If we trust it and respect it, life goes better. But Rand, a philosopher who wrote fiction books, who never studied any actual people, and never had a successful psychology practice, makes this sweeping statement. This is why I think philosophers are to psychologists what alchemists were to chemists.
Rand directly says you have no reliable instincts or intuition to guide you. Any little voice in your head guiding you is damned as mysticism. Any work into intuition is thus halted. The handiest way to refute Objectivism is to start studying Carl Jung. Jungian psychology says we have ancient wisdom etched in our collective consciousness. We are born with the stories of our ancestors somewhere in us. When you study human’s dreams, children’s imaginary friends and the repeat cycles human put themselves in, it becomes hard to deny Jung’s theories. Jungian analysts do a tremendous amount of good in the world. They are constantly trying to get people to understand their natural personality. Dr. Aron, who wrote The Highly Sensitive Person, is a Jungian analyst. Dr. Pinkola Estes, who wrote Women Who Run with the Wolves, also is one. These are excellent sources to start to get away from Objectivist thinking. Study formal Jungian psychology itself. They stand in open opposition to blank slate theory.
Amber is actually willing to explore systems outside of and even different than Objectivist thought. See her book in the making The Moral Bias of Objectivism.
Something I find most interesting is that Rand only talks about emotions prolifically when she talks about art. I re-read almost all of Rand’s non-fiction again to write Towards Liberalism. The only places I found she discussed emotions were in in Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged, “The Objectivist Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness, and, what I find of note, especially in The Romantic Manifesto. Rand speaks most prolifically about emotions when she talks about art, not any other subject. Because in art you control everything. She has no robust, quality thoughts on emotions when it comes to actual life.
This is my challenge to Rand. She says we control our emotions. I say you cannot. I say you can choose your response to the emotions you have. But I do not think you can choose what emotions you have. And this is huge. It determines whether you feel comfortable in your own skin or not.
Emotions are prewired and based on your unique personality type. Thrill-seeking personalities find genuine enjoyment in driving race cars. Introverted thinkers may like coffee get-togethers. Space cadets like myself like “vegetative kinds of vacation.” All of this plays a role in human life. And Rand essentially says “to hell with it.” And admonishes these people’s natural way of being as immoral.
Objectivists–supreme rationalists: do you see how this might be a problem? Why people might have an issue with Ayn Rand?
Murray Rothbard writes about the Ayn Rand cult back in the day. People were constantly under fear that their natural pleasures would come under Rand’s judgment.
Personal enjoyment, indeed, was also frowned upon in the movement and denounced as hedonistic “whim-worship.” In particular, nothing could be enjoyed for its own sake – every activity had to serve some indirect, “rational” function. Thus, food was not to be savored, but only eaten joylessly as a necessary means of one’s survival; sex was not to be enjoyed for its own sake, but only to be engaged in grimly as a reflection and reaffirmation of one’s “highest values”; painting or movies only to be enjoyed if one could find “rational values” in doing so. All of these values were not simply to be discovered quietly by each person – the heresy of “subjectivism” – but had to be proven to the rest of the cult.
Do you see how this is directly related to Objectivism and Rand’s position on possibly “irrational” emotions?
Amber is a woman whose pleasures are not up for anyone else’s judgment. She has been told that her hair has made it hard to take her seriously. See her book-in-the-making The Moral Bias of Objectivism.
As I write on the main page of this site, Ayn Rand has you dominating and programming your emotions. Your only choice, according to her, is taking the reins over this process or letting it happen haphazardly. Your values, again according to Rand, determine your very emotions: how you respond to life events: with joy, anger, fear, etc. If…
If a man values productive work, his happiness is the measure of his success in the service of his life.
Productivity, according to Rand, aids in your rational, objective survival as a human. If your happiness is tied to your productive success, you will try to be productive. Now happiness and success are flawlessly integrated. Happiness. Is. The Measure. Of Your Success. Set correctly, your happiness is now a lightning quick barometer that you are on the right path in life. Because you set your emotions to react this way.
She continues to elaborate. Her Objectivism promotes “rational” self-interest. Most think this means to do what you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone. This is not what is meant. It means you pick specific goals as aid in rational human living. Since we are on a mission for rational things as in alignment with the way we objectively live, there are irrational things. What are they? Well, family picnics for one.
In Objectivism, a “sense of life” is an “emotional classification” of life events. It is specific things that all evoke a similar emotional reaction in a person. Some people have a certain emotional reaction to seeing firefighters, cats saved from trees, etc. Others have another emotional reaction to hip hop music, connecting with others, etc. Summed up they make a person’s “sense of life.” In Philosophy and a Sense of Life, she gives two such competing lists of things that can evoke a similar emotional reaction in a person. They are…
… a new neighborhood, a discovery, adventure, struggle, triumph—or: the folks next door, a memorized recitation, a family picnic, a known routine, comfort. On a more adult level: a heroic man, the skyline of New York a sunlit landscape, pure colors, ecstatic music—or: a humble man, an old village, a foggy landscape, muddy colors, folk music. (27)
She goes on to explain the moral stature of how people respond emotionally to these two competing lists of things. It is based on a person’s “view of himself”:
For a man of self-esteem, the emotion uniting the things in the first part of these examples is admiration, exaltation a sense of challenge; the emotion uniting the things in the second part is disgust or boredom. (27)
She goes on:
For a man who lacks self-esteem, the emotion uniting the things in the first part of these examples is fear, guilt, resentment; the emotion uniting the things in the second part is relief from fear, reassurance, the undemanding safety of passivity. (27)
As can be extracted from her quotes: if you like family picnics, you lack self-esteem. Also if you like “muddy” colors, which is a term used by interior designers and are just colors that have some gray added to them. Here is a room painted with a Brookside Moss from Benjamin Moore, which is a muddy color:
People tell me I take things too literally. Ok. You know we’re talking about Ayn Rand here, right? She says to take words seriously and literally. And she does not let up on what kind of joys can be judged. Her proof for her view on emotions rests on the premise that, of course, we cannot let a person find pleasure in murder. That would be wrong. We need to bring emotional discipline to these potential murderous people. BTW, here is an analysis how Rand glorified a child murderer in her youth.
But she goes way beyond just finding pleasure in violent crime. Here she is on hotrod drivers:
But if a man values destruction, like a sadist—or self-torture, like a masochist—or life beyond the grave, like a mystic—or mindless “kicks,” like the driver of a hotrod car—his alleged happiness is the measure of his success in the service of his own destruction. (31)
Hotrod drivers have the wrong standard of value.
Nathaniel Branden continues to pile on on this view of happiness. In “The Psychology of Pleasure,” which appears in The Virtue of Selfishness, he admonishes all sorts of types of pleasure. He admonishes men who want to hang around with friends who “have no standards whatever and with whom, therefore, he feels free to be himself” (74). For recreation, he approves of parties—but only as a reward for achievement (or engaging in interesting conversation and the like). He admonishes any other form of party as likely acting like a “noisy fool” (75). He concludes his article by deriding quiet forms of pleasure, to include ladies’ parties, “coffee klatches,” and “vegetative kinds of vacation” as people who seek the boring. He concludes that one should seek a “demanding pleasure.”
So, I mean, yeah. Objectivism is super liberal about what kind of pleasures you are permitted to like. Unless you like family picnics, lovely grayed-down colors, driving race cars, having friends you can feel free around, coffee get-togethers, or leisurely vacations.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Amber lived as an Objectivist for 10 years until she got tired of their narcissistic shit. She has many irrational pleasures. Her book The Moral Bias of Objectivism will outline clearly the Objectivist view on emotions and happiness.