Monday, January 7, 2013

#18.4 Gleanings from the John Galt Speech – Part 4

John Galt continues, speaking about the wish to live,

This wish [to live] -which you share [with Ayn Rand], yet submerge as an evil-

One who is hearing John Galt, reading him, is presumably alive, so the wish to live is another disruptive departure from reality, since a wish is only a wish and often defies reality. Examples to prove this are everywhere; we'd all perhaps wish to have more than we presently have, but that's only a wish, likewise we'd probably all prefer to live longer (despite what avenues our personal morality has chosen for us), so is Galt / Rand actually breaching the reasonable bounds of philosophy for a euphemism? What is this wish, if it isn't like all other wishes, essentially asking reality to be what it presently is not? That would be idealism. If one has died and managed to keep one's consciousness, perhaps then one might prefer to have still been alive, or conversely if one had not yet been born, but was aware that upon being born, one would have that same consciousness (even if one forgot that it was really the same); in either case, the reality of these options (whether they exist or not) is presently unknown or unknowable.

So John Galt is proceeding on a hunch, that those who are alive and reading / hearing his words actually want more out of life and that this is not a euphemism for “living a more abundant life.” Ah, weren't the same ideas attributed to Jesus Christ? What is this then, a perversion of an older religious outlook, perhaps its very theft? In any case, according to John Galt / Ayn Rand, this wish to live,

is the only remnant of the good within you, but it is a wish one must learn to deserve.

I already don't like the sound of this and neither should you. Who decides that one's life must be learned to deserve? This is an appeal to authority. What authority? Rand / Galt would probably like to shoelace this back upon itself as the authority stems from inside each individual, but that presupposes something that's way too complicated.

His own happiness is man’s only moral purpose,

This is held to be axiomatic, so it helps define both happiness and morality. We have parsed through the morality issue, the happiness issue is going to be a little harder to define, if even possible. Virtuous actions, those that cannot help but be good actions, are not ends in themselves but are purported to be the only road to true human happiness.

but only his own virtue can achieve it [happiness]. Virtue is not an end in itself. Virtue is not its own reward or sacrificial fodder for the reward of evil. Life is the reward of virtue-and happiness is the goal and the reward of life.

Of course the key phrase that all must have noticed is that virtue is not the reward or sacrificial fodder for the reward of evil. Recall that evil was associated in this philosophical scheme with actions that were not virtuous in the sense intended, actions that did not promote life, that were against the continuance of life and promoted the onset of death. These included lack of the willingness to produce something of value. One is always cautioned against “throwing one's pearls among swine” or associating with anything that would be deemed anti-life. This is also a direct slap at collectivist wealth destruction / redistribution schemes, again based on a background of imposed scarcity. Notice please that the schemes are derided, while the underlying reality, beset by all the things E. C. Riegel, and others, wrote about, is never criticized.

This is where we skewer both sides of the current political paradigm as bankrupt; neither the traditional right or left in politics have ANY useful answers and again siding with either one in a tottering, rotten, corrupt system, is just as Riegel suggested, a waste of time and energy.

So fine, we accept that no living human being on the planet is responsible to justify his / her life to anyone, since they exist by the fact of their existence. That's being consistent. Nevertheless, this is an investigative exercise and so we must follow this argument, however skewed, to the very end.

Just as your body has two fundamental sensations, pleasure and pain, as signs of its welfare or injury, as a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death, so your consciousness has two fundamental emotions, joy and suffering, in answer to the same alternative. Your emotions are estimates of that which furthers your life or threatens it, lightning calculators giving you a sum of your profit or loss.

Notice right away that Galt / Rand accept the profit motive without criticism and attempt to apply it across a wider spectrum than accounting for wins and losses in business. There's ample reason to be critical of this attempt at spreading a metaphor way too far.

You have no choice about your capacity to feel that something is good for you or evil, but what you will consider good or evil, what will give you joy or pain, what you will love or hate, desire or fear, depends on your standard of value.

What then might be inferred correctly by such actions, which we are all aware of from the simplest actions to the most complex of deliberately doing, that which we know is incorrect or wrong and yet we do it anyway, often without giving much if any conscious thought to it? People do in fact do things that enhance their pain and suffering all the time, like fighting in a war, like over indulging in something, anything, to the point of exhaustion or ruin, like playing the wrong notes in a piano piece one is attempting to learn. What does this philosophy say about those actions? Yes, they may be consciously attended to, if one is aware of them, and yes awareness can help, but may not fully suffice as in cases of strong addictions.

Emotions are inherent in your nature, but their content is dictated by your mind. Your emotional capacity is an empty motor, and your values are the fuel with which your mind fills it. If you choose a mix of contradictions, it will clog your motor, corrode your transmission and wreck you on your first attempt to move with a machine which you, the driver, have corrupted. 

This seems plausible, but Galt / Rand haven't bothered to define an emotion, they give it a pass; emotions are things like anything else. Love, hate, desire or fear might be emotions, then they are mere dictations of the mind, as if one's mind is telling one to be loving, hating, desirous or fearful. Sorry, we don't think so. We don't think that these things are emotions and we don't suppose they are, however conscious, decisions of the mind. No, we see these emotions as tied up with objects that are part of the fabric of reality outside the self. That makes far more sense in that it is possible to get many people to love something or someone, likewise to hate someone or something, likewise to desire something or someone, and finally also to fear something or someone. In all case, that which inspired the emotion did not come directly from the mind, but arose outside the body of the individual and further, no individual would have been aware of them, if they were not part of the data coming in through the individual's senses. However some, not all, of this is explained here,

If you hold the irrational as your standard of value and the impossible as your concept of the good, if you long for rewards you have not earned, for a fortune, or a love you don’t deserve, for a loophole in the law of causality, for an A that becomes non-A at your whim, if you desire the opposite of existence-you will reach it. Do not cry, when you reach it, that life is frustration and that happiness is impossible to man; check your fuel: it brought you where you wanted to go.

Remember, we started this post with the concept of a wish. Now we are given the typical hackneyed explanation that if you aren't something great, important or special in the eyes of the world, and presumably happy in your position and status in life, that it was all due to your fuel, the actions you either did or didn't do, based on whether you agreed with reality as presently constructed or worked against it. Doesn't this strike some of you as the same kind of timeworn ubiquitous remonstration to always think positive thoughts and avoid the negative ones and certainly after a process of doing this for many years, one would arrive at the only worthwhile state of happiness possible for a human being?

We remind everyone that the number of positive statements always outnumber the negative ones. Therefore it is precisely the negative statements which contain more valuable information about any subject and inform one of the downsides, the dangers, the drawbacks to any possible project of the will or mind. One is deliberately doing themselves a disservice by following such ideas as only to think positive thoughts.

Happiness is not to be achieved at the command of emotional whims. Happiness is not the satisfaction of whatever irrational wishes you might blindly attempt to indulge. Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy-a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power, not the joy of faking reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard, but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.

We appear to be back on more solid ground. According to an irrationalist philosophy, things like joy and happiness cannot be precisely defined. Galt / Rand turn it around and confine it within their rigorous assault on irrationality by suggesting that only certain kinds of actions, virtuous actions productive of values, produce these genuine emotions, whereas the other kinds of actions, those that merely fake reality by for instance getting drunk, produce at the most fake joy and fake happiness. The final sentence defines these emotions within a rigorous case; Happiness is possible only to a rational man (irrational men and women can't experience it), the man who desires nothing but rational goals (irrational goals are discarded), seeks nothing but rational values (irrational values are discarded) and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions (irrational actions are discarded).

But can such things be proved universally and scientifically? I would guess that in both cases, they can not. Isn't this really a recipe to be satisfied with one's lot in life simply because others who have done better in life somehow rationally deserve it? If this is so, then accordingly those who are better at the financial games which allow those who have not created value to STEAL it from others, are entitled to their gains. Somehow I doubt whether Ayn Rand really intended this, but she may have been blinded by the mere mightiness of corporate business as she knew of it at the time she was writing and so she had to justify its usually unjustifiable existence, based on apparent success, a pragmatic (non-philosophical) approach.

Just as I support my life, neither by robbery nor alms, but by my own effort, so I do not seek to derive my happiness from the injury or the favour of others, but earn it by my own achievement.

But perhaps John Galt / Ayn Rand did not bother to reflect that earning anything by one's own achievement in this corrupted world is not always possible. Some of us peculiarly enough know when this is the case, especially when one hears a live performance by talented musicians who manage to play a new breathtaking conception of a great musical masterpiece intended to last for eternity, or close to it. Do these musicians earn what belongs to them by their own achievement? They usually only earn what the market for such efforts can bring them. Often that's not a great deal of money and certainly a limited following or acclaim. And when one factors in the time required to produce the music at this level, the rewards seem even smaller. Are they happy in what they do? Usually, but don't always count on it, because we are all mixtures of the rational and irrational. Some of the greatest musical masterpieces were created without any remuneration of any kind and may have lain dormant for many years, outlasting the lives of their creators, before they even came to wider public attention. So was their creation an irrational act? Based on Rand's philosophy, they certainly must have been.

Just as I do not consider the pleasure of others as the goal of my life, so I do not consider my pleasure as the goal of the lives of others. Just as there are no contradictions in my values and no conflicts among my desires-so there are no victims and no conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not desire the unearned and do not view one another with a cannibal’s lust, men who neither make sacrifice nor accept them.

The self-made man / woman who can be this much of an individualist is exceedingly rare at most times and getting to be more rare these days, as we have all been schooled to conform, to obey, to believe that those who have a great deal more than most people would even dream of are somehow entitled to it through a long stream of conscious virtuous actions. You know what? Look around you, this is fantasy! Something that might be, that is wished for, might be an ideal, something perfect that does not exist, therefore it is by definition irrational. One might even conceivably convince countless others to accept your fantasy as reality or a reality worth sacrificing for, like American independence from Britain, like separation of Christian sects from mother Church, like any number of instances where someone in a minority position decided the stakes were just too high not to seek a different way.

The symbol of all relationships among such men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit-his love, his friendship, his esteem-except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect.

What is the flaw in this? How many can see it? Do traders by tradition and history create things? Do traders in fact often seek to purchase that which a producer makes available as cheaply as possible and sell at what the market may bear, reaping the increase as his reward? In the case of usurers, Riegel proved that they take what was NOT created from out of the created, rather than operating as a simple middleman. In neither case can these “traders” be accorded the status of a real producer of value, sorry. We'll certainly take up this subject in future papers as it lies at the core of Riegel's insights.

The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honouring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread-a man of justice.

By all rational argument, a man of justice adheres to John Galt's aforementioned regarding justice, which cannot however include an enrichment by fraud as in usury; commitments made under usury, whether the effects are known by either the lender or the debtor or not, are made on the basis of fraud. Truth is always truth by identity, a thief is a thief.

It is quite one thing to buy a commodity, for example crude oil, and transport it thousands of miles to where it is to be used and to reap a premium, based on the costs associated with transportation and even then some for reward of the owners or managers of the oil transport business, it is quite another matter to lend someone money at interest and demand principle and interest both be paid back, when only the principle was ever created. The former business model is rational, the latter is fraudulent. Therefore, if we hold Galt / Rand to intellectual honesty, usurers must be excluded from their conceptual man of justice which for many reasons, Ayn Rand wants tied to professional traders.

Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow men? None-except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all of existence: rationality.

People are, or certainly can be, things under this philosophy. This certainly fits how many of the successful live their lives; some I've heard of or read about, operate with a ruthless rationality, that makes anything resembling normal human relationships, impossible. We could say on it's face, since we've already developed the trend that the Ayn Randian outlook must rely on idealism, and to the extent that it does, the philosophy is perhaps marred beyond usefulness. We shall see.

I deal with men as my nature and their demands: by means of reason. I seek or desire nothing from them except such relations as they care to enter of their own voluntary choice.

In honest business dealings, this is acceptable; dealing “fair and square” with all the details of a transaction clearly set before the purchaser, including such things as paying a higher price for anything bought on time, how for adequate business to be maintained, to even offer deals with payment schedules, requires that the final price paid for the same object may be many times higher than would be the price were the buyer to have all the cash to make the purchase at the time of purchase.

These details everyone must somehow get themselves to become more interested in, as they affect a wide range of decisions buyers could be making more intelligently. Some already do this, there is no reason why the trend cannot continue under a Value Unit based system.

It is only with their mind that I can deal and only for my own self-interest, when they see that my interest coincides with theirs.

Ayn Rand may be getting to the literal truth about herself, and perhaps she has dared to objectify what really goes on in the deepest recesses of human consciousness anyway. But there is no reason to object that many human relationships, the ones which may tend to last longer, have interests in common.

When they don’t, I enter no relationship; I let dissenters go their way and I do not swerve from mine.

People may and often do compromise too easily. This is a stern warning against it.

I win by means of nothing but logic and I surrender to nothing but logic. I do not surrender my reason or deal with men who surrender theirs.

By winning is Galt inferring that life is a game to be won? Who is keeping score then? Isn't this a trend that has done us as much harm as it has good? There is reason to think so. But sooner or later, most realize whether they can do anything about it or not, that one cannot reason with anyone who has lost their reason, starting with refusing to accept that A = A, etc. Everyone deserves to give these ideas a moment's thought at least, particularly as they involve work and business, which as can be seen are core materials of this philosophy of life.

I have nothing to gain from fools or cowards; I have no benefits to seek from human vices: from stupidity, dishonesty or fear.

Another obvious flaw, which had she been more scrupulous might have been retracted. Earlier Galt mentions heroes; a hero is defined as a man / woman who assumes the responsibility of thinking. And not someone like a rescue fireman who risks his or her life to save another's life. We do not easily accept rational thinking in itself as heroic and certainly don't advise anyone to jump on this bandwagon. With some astute reasoning to do so, we would rather and prefer replacing Rand's general outlook with something like the Trivium; grammar, logic and rhetoric in that order as having far wider applicability without so many appeals to the irrelevance of postulating an ideal state of mind that may not nor should not properly exist. Sorry. The Trivium perhaps more than any other concise method, renders the responsibility of thinking a thing through a natural simplicity applicable to all areas of life.

The only value men can offer me is the work of their mind. When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.

Again, the notions of winning games or earning profits equated with rational human happiness. Those of us out here who already know better are saying, really? Is this all there is? In fact, we know of many incredible anomalies in life that have little to do with playing games or earning profits. Most of these come from the fine arts, which I dare say Rand and her crowd know nothing about and whose values they cannot even begin to properly assess. Again, sorry.

Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate-do you hear me? no man may start-the use of physical FORCE against others.

Aha ! We have finally arrived at an unequivocal agreement ! The first use of FORCE marks the loser in most engagements (see this well, America). If one is not first slapped, one hasn't the other cheek to turn. But slap me once, my problem, slap me twice, your problem. Chances are good that once the other cheek has been turned, the aggressor is placed on notice that this cheek is being observed consciously and counter-measures would certainly follow another assault. I'd like to point out right here that this goes for government / elitist actions just as well as it does in personal relations. The conditions brought about during the last Great Depression will not be as casually endured as last time. Do it once, shame on us, do it again, shame on you! So self-defence is never ruled out, in fact it is presented as a given; you must assume to some extent your own physical preservation against malicious attacks from others, whatever their supposed status or authority in society.

To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyse his means of survival; to FORCE him to act against his own judgement, is like forcing him to act against his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of FORCE, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder: the premise of destroying man’s capacity to live.

This is well said, if a bit tedious.

Do not open your mouth to tell me that your mind has convinced you of your right to FORCE my mind. FORCE and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins. When you declare that men are irrational animals and propose to treat them as such, you define thereby your own character and can no longer claim the sanction of reason-as no advocate of contradictions can claim it. There can be no ‘right’ to destroy the source of rights, the only means of judging right and wrong: the mind.

See how highfaluting Galt / Rand makes everything by throwing in the individual's mind? But it is more important than most people out there presently believe, starting with gaining awareness of the beaten down state most people are in, victims of the total war against them by the natural enemies of humanity, collectivism's financiers of Mystery Babylon. Rand knows nothing of this, most likely assumes it even as a rational given, which dooms much of her analysis. Be that as it may, we shall try and pick the cherries where they may appear.

To FORCE a man to drop his own mind and to accept your will as a substitute, with a gun in place of a syllogism, with terror in place of proof, and death as the final argument, is to attempt to exist in defiance of reality.

Good and true ...

Reality demands of man that he act for his own rational interest; your gun demands of him that he act against it. Reality threatens man with death if he does not act on his rational judgement: you threaten him with death if he does. You place him into a world where the price of his life is the surrender of all the virtues required by life and death by a process of gradual destruction is all that you and your system will achieve, when death is made to be the ruling power, the winning argument in a society of men.

Totalitarianism is obviously the reference here, and recall people, Ayn Rand really experienced it first hand growing up in the former Soviet Union. That personal element from which she had great revulsion, strongly colours her philosophy. We who have experienced only socialism lite or corporate fascism heavy, are really unaccustomed to conditions in the universal concentration camp that was Eastern Europe under Bolshevism, Stalinism and their aftermath.

Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveller with the ultimatum: ‘Your money or your life,’ or a politician who confronts a country with the ultimatum: ‘Your children’s education or your life,’ the meaning of that ultimatum is: ‘Your mind or your life’-and neither is possible to man without the other.

Look around you, how many appeals can you spot in a single day where the reverse is presented; you can live a nice life without thinking too much about it?

If there are degrees of evil, it is hard to say who is the more contemptible: the brute who assumes the right to force the mind of others or the moral degenerate who grants to others the right to FORCE his mind.

The brute on one hand, or the weakling on the other.

That is the moral absolute one does not leave open to debate. I do not grant the terms of reason to men who propose to deprive me of reason. I do not enter discussions with neighbours who think they can forbid me to think. I do not place my moral sanction upon a murderer’s wish to kill me. When a man attempts to deal with me by FORCE, I answer him-by FORCE.

If the first right to the use of FORCE is granted the assailant, which most certainly includes government or military FORCE, then there is a good chance a John Galt would have been killed. Therefore, and it behoves all of us to think this way, it DOES involve others in society when some innocent man or woman is gunned down, especially under official duress for ANYTHING that the state may require of them. Read that over again if you don't see the inherent logic in this statement. Your right to exist free of FORCE must be bound up with the life of the first casualty to any concerted action by FORCE, especially if that FORCE is directed by some constituted authority. If someone in your neighbourhood is gunned down in cold blood, it becomes your responsibility and direct self interest to determine the assailant's identity and to fix a personal price to be paid for that act !!! This is justice, anything less is immoral !!! Let's not fall for the stupid and blind nonsense you get from those who support gun control, and usually let killers get off scot free.

It is only as retaliation that FORCE may be used and only against the man who starts its use. So we are conclusively in agreement on this point.

No, I do not share his evil or sink to his concept of morality: I merely grant him his choice, destruction, the only destruction he had the right to choose: his own. He uses FORCE to seize a value; I use it only to destroy destruction. A holdup man seeks to gain wealth by killing me; I do not grow richer by killing a holdup man. I seek no values by means of evil, nor do I surrender my values to evil.

Sounds pretty gosh-darn American to me ...

In the name of all the producers who had kept you alive and received your death ultimatums in payment, I now answer you with a single ultimatum of our own: our work or your guns. You can choose either; you can’t have both. We do not initiate the use of FORCE against others or submit to FORCE at their hands. If you desire ever again to live in an industrial society, it will be on our moral terms.

The last sentence sounds like, and probably is, management saying to labour, “if you want to work in an industrial plant ever again, it will be on our terms.” Well, no it wont be! Sorry! It will be on the workers' terms not yours, since management, so called brains, only counts for so much up the towering ladder of limited liability globalist concerns, which shall probably all perish. They certainly wont exist under a Value Unit system. By all the producers who had kept you alive may be inferred that the you were the usual parasites one finds in government, and out, and among those on the government dole in one way or another.

But Rand's philosophy skirts key facts like government contracts, sweetheart deals (the UN Agenda 21 for the “stakeholders”), and much else involving a huge range of concerted thievery of actual tangible physical values by those who already have far too much, from those who have only that which their hard honest work has built. Where has Rand's great “value based on virtuous acts” philosophy gone when it confronts these things? These people are every bit as much to be classed as looters as the poor Rand probably implies. We happen to think even more so! But she probably sided with them, in fact since she was paid by them to write the book out of which this piece comes, can there be any serious doubt in the matter? Let's please bear that in mind moving forward.

Our terms and our motive power are the antithesis of yours. You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his reward for accepting ours.

We can't and wont be so sanctimonious. Yes, governments, corporations, the banks, have all resorted to fear to get the populace used to living in a concentration camp “for our own good.” We even applaud to some extent our work, or your guns, as that implies the only rational disarmament is to disarm the government, while the individual is free to have as many guns or none as each pleases, as a natural right of self defence. However, it is rational to grant this right only to those who are rational, not to those with a history of vicious actions, etc. We do not give a blind man the right to drive a car or an idiot the right to fly a plane, so there must be rational and reasonable restrictions to be observed by all gun dealers, to preserve the general peace.

We also tend to think that any armed FORCE which may be required to repel invasions, etc. be drawn from the ready civilian population, as it was envisioned by the founders of the American republic. Anything else, like the posting of foreign troops on American soil, is certainly as dangerous as the presence of our troops on foreign soil. This discussion will continue in the next post.

David Burton


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