An Abuse-Free World is Worth Fighting For

An Abuse-Free World is Worth Fighting For

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.


Documented Cases of Objectivist Abuse

Yes, Objectivism is Abusive

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.

Therapist by Ellen Plasil

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)

The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult by Murray Rothbard

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.

My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden

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.

Romancing the Stone Cold Killer by Michael Prescott

Prescott documents the notes from Rand’s journals in which she admired child murderer William Hickman. Yes, explicitly after he murdered twelve-year-old Marian Parker.

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.


If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessarily make you happy. Right.

Shrugging Objectivism

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.


Objectivists on Education

Objectivists on Education

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 Objectivism’s Morality

The Fallout Of Objectivism’s Morality

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.


What Happens When You Judge Your Emotions as Rational or Irrational

We. Control. Emotions.

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.


The Objectivist View on Emotions: Setting Happiness to Serve You

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:

I find relief from fear in this paint 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.


Objectivist Rationalizations

As I’ve written Towards Liberalism: A Challenge to Objectivist Ethics, I’ve gone head to head with several Objectivists about their philosophy. Some have thanked me for “helping to clarify their thinking.” While I want to take pride in doing that, I have found I am not at all helping them evolve in their thinking. Instead, I just keep hardening their own argument for Objectivism as against any outside challenge. They just keep spiraling further and further into Objectivism, explaining how it already answers all life problems and my challenge is petty and unwarranted. I’m not helping them think. I’m helping them make better arguments to rationalize their entrenched philosophical paradigm.

Here is how most of my conversations go.

1. They think they have human nature totally figured out–by definition

My most basic challenge to Objectivism is it is overreaching in its description of human nature itself. I point out to Objectivists that defining humans as “rational animal” is too narrow. This is how I typically begin my argument, which I intend to further elaborate on. Before I can get on to explain my point, they harp on me immediately, “well, that’s just a basic scientific definition separating man from animals!” I start to say that human nature involves emotions, etc., and they say, “Oh well those are the SPECIFICS. The basic definition of human nature is a rational animal. You can get into all of those nuances later.”

I’ve learned I have to hit them immediately. Yeah, but you make this entire elaborate philosophical system, defining what is moral, which Rand then goes on to build a politics out of, over this very “basic” definition. Rand, by the way, uses the word “basic” when she describes it: reason is man’s “basic” means of survival.

It’s not just that you define humans as “rational animal.” You declare this is what is objectively needed for all of human survival and therefore “rational” people are morally superior. That’s a hell of a thing. But that this is a hell of a thing is an Objectivist Blindspot that they just plain don’t understand.

The entire essence of the problem is that they conflate two issues.

  1. Defining human nature as “rational animal -and-
  2. Thinking they have merely defined “reason” such that all new knowledge simply folds into Objectivism in a contextual way

Objectivists believe they have the foundation of all knowledge because they believe in “reason.” Sure, they agree, new knowledge may present itself and we update it as we happily live our rationally self-interested life. In defining human nature as “rational animal,” they think they own this. They thus see no problem with their very definition of human nature itself. They think all knowledge can be happily folded into the Objectivist framework.

My challenge is that it can not. Objectivism doesn’t just define reason as reason. It defines human nature as reason. Objectivism dictates how a person is to behave: they are to think and produce. It has an entire, elaborate ethical system dictating this. And Rand has elaborate thoughts on emotions, happiness, and the subconscious. Outside ideas about these things are counter to the philosophy.

You cannot simply happily fold outside thought into Objectivism. This is the issue. They start with the idea that they think they simply believe in “reason” and everything after that is open. I am saying, in Objectivism, it is not. Rand has this “reason” dominating the inner world. That is my main challenge.

2. They think the controlling Objectivist view on emotions is mere introspection

My main argument lies with how Rand treats emotions. She has you judging and controlling them. She discusses at length that emotions are derivative, not primary. The Objectivist view is you have an emotional mechanism, but your rational mind programs it. It is like a wild animal that you have to discipline to do what you want for you. The explicit Objectivist position on happiness is that you should derive happiness in a cognitively “demanding” way. Anything else is smeared as irrational or as hedonism. Rand explicitly says you either drive your subconscious or it drives you. A hell of a thing for a philosopher to say about the entire subconscious of humans don’t you think? Did I mention that Objectivists have blindspots?

When I start in on my argument about the Objectivist view on emotions, I very rarely can get very far. I point out quotes from Rand about how we are to “ruthlessly” investigate our emotions. They declare that this doesn’t mean “without pity or compassion,” which is the dictionary definition. They tell me it just means being “intellectually clear.” When I press them that she is very controlling about emotions, they say, “oh, she just means to introspect.” When I point out quotes from Rand where she derides people who like racing cars or going to family picnics, they tell me I am taking the point “too literally.” If all else fails, they say, “Well Cognitive Behavioral Therapy says very similar things to Objectivism and it is successful.” Ok, CBT has good points and bad points and many psychologists have written powerful, persuasive criticisms against it. This is not the end all and be all of emotions, and some of the thoughts are extremely poor and in the way of therapy. That Objectivist is in the way of therapies that heal, by the way, is Objectivist Blindspot #6.

My entire challenge is that Objectivism is controlling of the inner world. It is so obvious that this is what Objectivism does that it becomes somehow not obvious to them.

3. They squirm out of the issue of abundant wealth

One of my biggest challenges is that Rand declares that “everything” we need to live must be produced. This isn’t true whatsoever. For most of human nature, we lived as hunter gatherers who easily got what we needed from the surrounding environment. Even in an industrialized world, not everything we need has to be produced. Plenty of wealth is abundant, such as land, the sun, etc. Objectivism has no moral underpinning to deal with such wealth.

Take the majorly important land issue. Imagine living in feudal Medieval Europe in which you were born as a peasant on land already totally owned by a king or lord. You would never, ever, have any hope of owning any land of your own. You will always be a renter. Such issues have always preceded socialist takeovers.

When I say this to Objectivists, they squirm out of it, “Oh you are saying if you have just a little bit of land you can’t do anything with it. That’s not true. Developers do amazing things with a little bit of land such as building skyscrapers.” No. Not a little bit of land. No land. At all. Nada. Ever. For as long as you live and for as far as your eyes can see.

I said that the sun is one such form of abundant wealth that disproves the Objectivist definition of “value,” which is “that which one acts to gain and/or keep.” You don’t have to “act” to gain or keep the sun. I was told this wasn’t true because in some parts of the world, there is less abundant sun and technology needs to make up for it. Objectivist rationalizations are real.

Dealing with thinkers who won’t think

I could probably go on but these 3 sum up typical Objectivist rationalizations pretty well. It can be infuriating to deal with “thinkers” who think they own thinking but won’t think. They just keep spinning further and further into their philosophy. Perhaps this is why they spend so much time advancing their philosophy, harnessing it on forums, social media, etc., never really doing much.

If you are looking for an unapologetic, unequivocal challenge to this system of thought, or are wondering how Objectivists turn people into caustic, abusive individuals, or think a better way might exist, check out my book Towards Liberalism: A Challenge to Objectivist Ethics. Human nature should be left to the people who study human nature. We can be much more contained in our selves, feel comfortable in our own skin, care for our children better, and have better relationships, with a less judgmental, more liberal outlook on life.

Narcissism Objectivism

Abuse Lives Because It is Morally Sanctioned: Moral Paradigms Matter

This is a chapter in The Moral Bias of Objectivism

Moral Paradigms Matter

As I wrote this book and took its message to others, I realized I am challenging such deeply held views about human nature, moral paradigms, and abuse, that it’s necessary to address the widely held assumptions about these issues right away.

There is a deeply held assumption among virtually all cultures, people, religions, and even philosophies, that abuse is something that strikes out of the blue.  Abusive behavior is chalked up to “unconsciousness,” past trauma, or of course “selfishness.” None of this is true. Abuse is allowed to live because it has been normalized ethically.

Virtually no one does anything that is outside of their own moral paradigm. They rationalize it away as serving a beneficial purpose, self-defense, or just punishment. When a parent spanks their child, they don’t see it as abuse. They see it as beneficial discipline. That so many political dictators have slaughtered thousands while the majority stay silent, seeing at as for the greater good, is all too well known. These abusers, private or political, don’t see their abuse as abuse. They see it as enforcement of a particular way of living, which is necessary for survival. And, so, when you point out the abuse, they can’t even see it. You point out the scars on the child, and they simply remark, “Oh well, that’s because …” They are rendered blind.

You can read recorded history from the start to now and the theme is the same over and over: tyranny lives because the majority sanction it. Perhaps it’s easier to explain by stating that in reverse: tyranny does NOT live if the majority find it unethical. For instance, when the now U.S. state of Texas was under Mexican rule, they were to obey Mexican law, which ordered them to convert to Catholicism. The majority didn’t. They went about their day doing as they wanted. It eventually led to war, and we know how that turned out. You can’t rule people who won’t bow to tyranny.

Lundy Bancroft, an abuse counselor to men, writes in Why Does He Do That:

A critical insight seeped into me from working with my first few dozen clients: An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside. I can’t remember a client ever having said to me: “There’s no way I can defend what I did. It was just totally wrong.” He invariably has a reason that he considers good enough. In short, an abuser’s core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong. (35, emphasis original)

Abusers still operate within their own moral paradigm. They’ll smash their girlfriend’s phone and call her a whore, but they won’t kick her in the head—that would be wrong. Bancroft describes that he put on a play about abuse using the abusive men in his counseling program. As he was doing it, the men ratcheted up the abuse as the script was being written, saying such things as

No, no, you don’t make excuses for why you’re home late, that puts you on the defensive, you’ve got to turn it around on her. (36)

Bancroft contends that abusers absolutely know what they are doing. Portraying them as the mistreated child/person who doesn’t know what he’s doing won’t help the situation; in fact, emboldens them. Past experiences and key male role models (and also perhaps: fictional heroes and the writings of philosophers) shaped their beliefs, which set in place their philosophical outlook—without them fully considering all the ramifications. So, there is a certain unconsciousness (blinds spots) there. But they are operating within their adopted moral framework. As this People magazine article describes Sean Connery cooly explaining,

“I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman, although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you’d hit a man,” he told the publication.

Describing an “openhanded slap” as “justified,” Connery also said it could be used “if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning,” adding, “If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.”

Abusers aren’t the misunderstood, mistreated child, as they love to make themselves out to be. They are an in-charge adult.

But, this actually is great news. If abuse is in a person’s moral paradigm, it means we can change this behavior. Make abuse itself immoral and the cultural impact would be profound.

As such, redefining morality can have a tremendous impact. The fact is many abusive behaviors are still highly normalized. It’s still morally acceptable to spank a child. You can still see on social media people who say, “If some whore cheated on me, I’d beat her ass.” If a family wants to portray a particular member, usually a female, as ungrateful, selfish, and irrational, they usually get away with it and on moral terms. We do it on a collective level, such as how we make it acceptable to hate on someone like Kim Kardashian. It’s common for young mothers to get hurtful critical feedback about how they parent. In Objectivism, thick insults and portraying others as wildly stupid is seen as highly normal, even effective and cool. Most of all, across nearly all thought paradigms, punishment itself is still seen as valid in certain context. People feel profoundly justified in the harm they inflict.

Enormous good can be had by challenging these behaviors on moral grounds. When dealing with people who are abusive, no amount of improved conflict resolution helps. If you are dealing with someone who is insulting you, keeping you on the defensive, controlling you, wants you to serve them, and making you feel inferior, which they indeed do as a permanent way of operation making the battle seem unwinnable, the battle needs to be moved from gee golly nice ideas about how to behave to a moral challenge. We don’t argue points. We call out tactics. We don’t defend our characters. We call out abuse. We no longer work around them cleverly. We expect change. And yes: we make the link between a person’s abusive behavior and their adopted moral paradigm.

The moral framework I’ll provide, one of liberalism, takes away all of the tactics that abusers use. The essence of abuse is to describe what an awful, terrible person someone else is, who is thus worthy of the abuse. That is the justification that abusers have. “Oh well she was running her mouth.” “Well she’s a lazy mother.” “That child is out of line and should know better.” In Objectivism, “they are lazy, irrational, and hedonistic.” Abusers will make you out to be this, even if nothing could ever even possibly hint at it. Taking away even this ability to shame someone else on these grounds is what this liberal moral paradigm does. No one is ever bad—not on this level. Some people might need to be in jail for the rest of their life, but no one is just totally a worthless rotten scoundrel. And punishment itself plays an integral role in abuse. Abusers feel they are “teaching someone a lesson.” They feel someone “deserved” it. Rand has made statements before that certain statements from students warrant “immediate expulsion.” Make punitive measures themselves immoral and you will do a tremendous amount to stop abuse dead in its tracks. I do not know of any thinker so forcefully calling for the end of punitive means as I do. Perhaps this is why we have so far been so ineffective at dealing with abuse.

Morality is indeed the most powerful intellectual force on earth. That’s why it’s so important to set it correctly. We set abuse to be morally wrong such that it then feels wrong. A new paradigm in thinking may enact authentic change.

Amber is on a mission to end abuse, by getting to its root: how it is morally sanctioned. Send your friends to The Ex Objectivist.

Narcissism Objectivism

Defining the “Rational” as “Moral” is The Fertile Soil for ABUSE

First, as I argue, at Check your Tools, Rand doesn’t just push “reason” to be a “tool to study reality.” She pushes it to be a “way to be in all waking hours for all decisions.”

She writes:

The virtue of Rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one’s only source of knowledge; one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide to action. It means one’s total commitment to a state of full, conscious awareness, to the maintenance of a full mental focus in all issues, in all choices, in all of one’s waking hours. (28, emphasis mine)

 With this definition, you use your thinking—not any emotion or gut feeling—to make all decisions in life. Reason is “one’s only guide to action.” You don’t just use reason to plan a trip or build a lunar lander. You also use it when deciding if you want to marry or break up with someone. You do a rational analysis for all—Rand’s word—choices that you make. You use it all waking hours—Rand’s description. Relying on gut feels, intuition, or instincts is blasted by Rand and her followers as “mysticism.” Your heart’s desires (your inner core) are trumped by your mind’s desires (your ego) in Objectivism, always.

I got asked “what’s wrong with this?” I said it denies emotions role in everyday life: your gut feel is often (usually) right. Nathaniel Branden writes promoting excessive rationality was a regret of his during his years with Rand:

No one pointed out that feelings or emotions might sometimes reflect a more accurate assessment of reality than conscious beliefs. In other words, nobody asserted that the subconscious mind might be right while the conscious mind was mistaken. (My Years with Ayn Rand, ch. 9)

Someone told me it was cool to think this. That I just “valued emotions” over “rationality” and we’re all just different.

That’s not true and not how you can chalk it up. Rand pushes it “rationality” to be what moral person does. A better sort of man lives as she describes. All else are “irrational,” and now “immoral.”

It is not just misguided but outright wrong and dangerous to put “rationality” into a moral code. If you’ve identified “rational” men as moral—by which Rand means men who “use reason” for “all choices”—you’ve labeled other men and women—who see value in trusting one’s authentic emotions—as “irrational” and “immoral.” There is no agreeing to disagree with Rand—or anyone who has put their values explicitly into a moral system. She has drawn the line. She has said this way of being and this sort of person is morally superior. Anyone else is immoral, irrational, lesser. And this is the ground on which abuse is formed: supposedly more rational people have the right to judge and denigrate other immoral, irrational, possibly destructive others. Abuse is in a Person’s Moral Paradigm.

Just as bad or worse, it shuts down intellectual curiosity into any other way to be or any insight into human nature. An enormous amount is lost by damning authentic emotions the way Rand does, demanding they put in submission to “reason.” Trauma therapists, Jungian analysts, and many educational experts could give Rand an earful—if they cared to—and most, up to now, apparently don’t care to (this is not a compliment to Rand). I hope to help fill this gap, such that those who are wiser and better can better understand Rand’s Objectivism, such that they can weigh in in order to utterly destroy this abysmal, abusive, toxic, intellectually uncurious philosophy.

A Case for Liberalism

Morality itself, a labeling of good and evil, is potent. When you describe someone as evil, you’ve put a hell of a label on them. Evil people are to be shunned, rejected, discarded, fought. If there is evil in you, it creates shame. Morality is potent. It is so incredibly potent. We are all but playing with fire here. Rand herself says morality is the most powerful intellectual force on earth. It should be handled with an incredible amount of care. Morality is too potent to use except in the most careful of cases.

I will be arguing that as few actions as possible should be labeled as “immoral”—and that this is a distinctly liberal position. Morality itself causes the potential to pass around blame, shame, and pain. And it creates for what I accuse Rand: Moral Bias. It clouds our lens as we study reality, human nature itself, and engage with others.

Rand says her morality is necessary because of an “unalterable condition of man’s existence.” But she’s wrong about this. What she says is unalterable—tabula rasa—is a false conclusion about man’s nature.

The Charge

I, again, accuse Ayn Rand’s Objectivism of Moral Bias. She performs no serious study of human nature itself. She then unforgivably goes on to codify this weak understanding into an entire moral-political system—a powerful thing to have for oneself, indeed.

Amber was an Objectivist for 10 years and is tired of their narcissistic shit. Send your friends dealing with their toxic behavior to