Wednesday, January 9, 2013

#18.6 Gleanings from the John Galt Speech – Part 6

John Galt continues,

Do not remind me that it [the morality of sacrifice; bourgeois morality] pertains only to this life on earth. I am concerned with no other. Neither are you.

Within the bounds of this discussion, this is certainly true.

If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a ‘sacrifice’: that term brands you as immoral.
If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty.

Did this ever happen to her or to someone she knew? Perhaps.

If a man dies fighting for his own freedom, it is not a sacrifice: he is not willing to live as a slave; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of man who’s willing.
If a man refuses to sell his convictions, it is not a sacrifice, unless he is the sort of man who has no convictions.

There are many without convictions. So what?

Sacrifice could be proper only for those who have nothing to sacrifice-no values, no standards, no judgement-those whose desires are irrational whims, blindly conceived and lightly surrendered.

Sacrifice is usually understood as giving something away, something of value, for little or nothing tangible in return. Under the rubric of bourgeois morality those who do such acts are often accorded hero status. Since she stands squarely against this, the only other kinds of sacrifice that would matter to her would be those where one might conceivably go into debt in order to perhaps get a degree which entitles the bearer to practice law, medicine or one of the sciences, to fulfil some personal desire. The attainment of virtuous action and acquisition thereby of value is presumed to make one happy in any rational sense so that if when one has done all this and one still feels empty, she would regard this as delusional. And that my friends is how the powers that be see things, so Rand is their mouthpiece.

For a man of moral stature, whose desires are born of rational values, sacrifice is the surrender of the right to the wrong, of the good to the evil.

So in fact, tis better to hoard things of value for yourself than sacrifice them for the good of others; greed in its simplest sense (not because others may be in need, but because they might be unworthy), unless those persons are close relatives or friends of yours. All others may be disregarded as losers, weaklings, the stupid, the poor, the unfit, what have you. Notice in what follows more uses of financial metaphors; she really likes the idea of hoarding money. We know these kinds of people all too well, always worried about how much money they have when they always have too much to begin with, but they cannot sacrifice it because it would mean facing their own emptiness. Even so, this criticism does not really nullify Rand's criticism of the role of sacrifice under bourgeois morality, by the way.

The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral-a morality that declares its own bankruptcy by confessing that it can’t impart to men any personal stake in virtues or value, and that their souls are sewers of depravity, which they must be taught to sacrifice.

Here, their souls are sewers of depravity, seems a gratuitous slap at all those who do not measure up. Who exactly does she refer to here? What depravity is she describing? In common usage, depravity connotes corruption, wickedness, or perversion, so you decide.

By his own confession, it [bourgeois morality] is impotent to teach men to be good and can only subject them to constant punishment.

Who is being subjected to constant punishment without even being aware of it? Is this a realistic statement?

Are you thinking, in some foggy stupor, that it’s only material values that your morality requires you to sacrifice?
And what do you think are material values?
Matter has no value except as a means for the satisfaction of human desires.
Matter is only a tool of human values.

Clearly then, Rand's philosophy is both materialistic and utilitarian. But is it rational?

To what service are you asked to give the material tools your virtue has produced?
To the service of that which you regard as evil: to a principle you do not share, to a person you do not respect, to the achievement of a purpose opposed to your own-else your gift is not a sacrifice.

So, let's suppose that I have a fortune to bequeath to some noble cause, a sacrifice, since I wont likely be using it. Let's further suppose that I'm on my deathbed, dying of some terminal disease, so the benefit of my bequest will never be mine to enjoy in any way. If I give my fortune away to people I do not respect or even like, then I am making a worthy sacrifice in conformity with the prevailing bourgeois morality. But this doesn't happen very often, if at all, so what does it matter if Rand makes all these statements that really do not apply, as there are only a few who would do this? Here lies the reason for considering all we have been through to be merely flogging a straw dog.

Your morality tells you to renounce the material world and to divorce your values from matter.

No, mine doesn't tell me that at all, but ...

A man whose values are given no expression in material form, whose existence is unrelated to his ideals, whose actions contradict his convictions, is a cheap little hypocrite-

How nice!

yet that is the man who obeys your morality and divorces his values from matter.

But there are very few, so what does it even matter? You see, I have a strong sense that Rand is complaining about other matters involving other people and she is just generalizing them as if getting the bile out of her system for her own personal / existential reasons.

The man who loves one woman, but sleeps with another-

We say the man's love is conflicted; so perhsaps he isn't able to really admit real love for any woman.

the man who admires the talent of a worker, but hires another-

This happens quite a lot actually and the reasons are pretty much the same in each case; the worker is seen as a potential rival who would disturb the man's sense of self-importance. This process leads to mediocrity everywhere. Have you seen it around you lately?

the man who considers one cause to be just, but donates his money to the support of another-

We covered this ...

the man who holds high standards of craftsmanship, but devotes his effort to the production of trash- 

There are many of these, usually in the arts. I believe they are profoundly cynical and of course that doesn't make their “art” anything more than trash. 

these are the men who have renounced matter, the men who believe that the values of their spirit cannot be brought into material reality.

She is saying that the values of the spirit inherent in every man, which is an assumption based on what? cannot be brought into material reality because they are not material and the man has renounced any connection with mere material things. Sounds like a fudge to me.

Do you say it is the spirit that such men have renounced?
Yes, of course.
You cannot have one without the other.
You are an indivisible entity of matter and consciousness.
Renounce your consciousness and you become a brute.
Renounce your body and you become a fake.
Renounce the material world and you surrender it to evil.

Ah, OK, so evil befalls the material world as mankind renounces it. Can this make any sense?

And that is precisely the goal of your morality, the duty that your code demands of you.
Give to that which you do not enjoy, serve that which you do not admire, submit to that which you consider evil-surrender the world to the values of others, deny, reject, renounce your self.
Your self is your mind; renounce it and you become a chunk of meat ready for any cannibal to swallow.

There's a lot here, how many of us today do any of these things? Why should we continue to do so? Because someone in authority tells us so and may be able to back up their demands by FORCE?

It is your mind that they want you to surrender-

Who are they except the leadership, since the average man / woman in the street has quantitatively no actual power?

all those who preach the creed of sacrifice, whatever their tags or their motives, whether they demand it for the sake of your soul or of your body, whether they promise you another life in heaven or a full stomach on this earth. Those who start by saying: ‘It is selfish to pursue your own wishes, you must sacrifice them to the wishes of others’-end up by saying: ‘It is selfish to uphold your convictions, you must sacrifice them to the convictions of others.

We're faced with this all the time, chiefly from the political left, but those on the political right these days are just as suspect.

This much is true: the most selfish of all things is the independent mind that recognizes no authority higher than its own and no value higher than its judgement of truth. You are asked to sacrifice your intellectual integrity, your logic, your reason, your standard of truth-in favour of becoming a prostitute whose standard is the greatest good for the greatest number.

Indeed, but 150 years ago or more, this would have been what the political elite wanted of its citizens, and “official” Christianity sort of upheld their whims. It doesn't mean we need to be doing so today. Truth though, whether you recognize it or not, will still be truth, no matter whose interests are at stake.

If you search your code for guidance, for an answer to the question: ‘What is the good?’-the only answer you will find is ‘The good of others.’
The good is whatever others wish, whatever you feel they feel they wish, or whatever you feel they ought to feel.
The good of others’ is a magic formula that transforms anything into gold, a formula to be recited as a guarantee of moral glory and as a fumigator for any action, even the slaughter of a continent.

The notion of a “holy war” or a “just war” fall into this of course. Hence if there were none who would sacrifice themselves, there might be fewer of such depraved and destructive activities.

Your standard of virtue is not an object, not an act, not a principle, but an intention.
You need no proof, no reasons, no success, you need not achieve in fact the good of others-
all you need to know is that your motive was the good of others, not your own.

Your only definition of the good is a negation: the good is the ‘non-good for me.’

Take your pick, standard bourgeois morality (dressed up in Christian or other garb) or the secular pursuits of “fairness” from the political left, socialism lite, corporate fascist heavy, etc.

Your code-which boasts that it upholds eternal, absolute, objective moral values and scorns the conditional, the relative and the subjective-your code hands out, as its version of the absolute, the following rule of moral conduct:
If you wish it, it’s evil;
if others wish it, it’s good;
if the motive of your action is your welfare, don’t do it;
if the motive is the welfare of others, then anything goes.

Yes, much of this is certainly acceptable as describing current political realities.

As this double-jointed, double-standard morality splits you in half, so it splits mankind into two enemy camps: one is you, the other is all the rest of humanity. You are the only outcast who has no right to wish to live. You are the only servant, the rest are the masters, you are the only giver, the rest are the takers, you are the eternal debtor, the rest are the creditors never to be paid off.

Astute, in fact quite accurate, especially with reference to central banking monopolies, which will never be paid off without extinguishing all the money in the world and then some.

You must not question their right to your sacrifice, or the nature of their wishes and their needs: their right is conferred upon them by a negative, by the fact that they are ‘non-you.’

Yes, the eternal debtor all right, but does she really know why? We think she does not.

For those of you who might ask questions, your code provides a consolation prize and booby-trap:
it is for your own happiness, it says, that you must serve the happiness of others, the only way to achieve your joy is to give it up to others, the only way to achieve your prosperity is to surrender your wealth to others, the only way to protect your life is to protect all men except yourself-and if you find no joy in this procedure, it is your own fault and the proof of your evil;
if you were good, you would find your happiness in providing a banquet for others, and your dignity in existing on such crumbs as they might care to toss you.

Oh certainly there are those out there who deliberately seek to make people feel this way.

You who have no standard of self-esteem, accept the guilt and dare not ask the questions.
But you know the unadmitted answer, refusing to acknowledge what you see, what hidden premise moves your world.
You know it, not in honest statement, but as a dark uneasiness within you, while you flounder between guilty cheating and grudgingly practising a principle too vicious to name.

The present world is full of guilty cheaters, what is the principle too vicious to name? It might be hatred of everything and everybody. It might be the hatred the humanists have for any and all who disagree with them. You suppose that I jest? I am in complete earnest. Those who scheme, work and plan to alter the world, do so on the surface by making acceptable public pledges to support the current bourgeois morality, while in the meantime they cover their hatred for all that does not fit their perfect idealism about the world. Most tend to laugh in weird ways when confronted, that peculiar nervous laughter, always at the wrong time and place. It's their expression of unconscious jeering of their opposition, whom they sincerely hate.

I, who do not accept the unearned, neither in values nor in guilt, am here to ask the questions you evaded.
Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own?
If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you?
If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others?
Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so?
Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away?
And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it?
If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it?
Does virtue consist of serving vice?
Is the moral purpose of those who are good, self-immolation for the sake of those who are evil?

Here, we come to a kind of watershed; these were Rand's fundamental questions. She only spent all the foregoing to arrive here. We consider her definition of evil as the acts of those who would be willingly unproductive under the reality of present circumstances, no matter how they became what they are, and we frankly are at odds with her observation, because she is uncritical of those with inordinate influence, who made "the unproductive" this way. These brokers with inordinate power are also contributors to the evil that Rand maintains exists. Universal human want to Rand is inherently their problem, whereas to us, it ultimately becomes our problem, not for some overarching, incompetent, inefficient and irresponsible authority to resolve, but for each of us personally. Does this mean we subscribe to bourgeois morality? No, it does not. In fact we may even consider the bases for such morality dubious. Our business in the VEN communities would be to grant back value to individual people that the present (and future) intended social orders have STOLEN from them, often from the time before they were born.

The answer you evade, the monstrous answer is:
[1] No, the takers are not evil, provided they did not earn the value you gave them.
[2] It is not immoral for them to accept it, provided they are unable to produce it, unable to deserve it, unable to give you any value in return.
[3] It is not immoral for them to enjoy it, provided they do not obtain it by right.

She calls this all monstrous, almost entirely because she has uncritically accepted the present world economic system as normal, just, natural and rational, when it is none of these. So we're going to re-write these to show everyone how we see this issue as it relates specifically to those who do not have any money with which to become buyers in the marketplace of world commerce:

1. No one who accepts the FREE money from an IE gets it because they refuse to create or offer value to others, it is rather that their value has either been sidelined by others for reasons that are beyond their control, or a few that are under their control (we'll get further into that too). Sorry John Galt, these people are not evil and conversely those involved in the STEALING of value from many of these, including by or with the connivance of governments by FORCE, are NOT virtuous!  In point of fact they are public enemies, criminals and very often traitors.

2. As Rand stated it, this happens to be exactly the rules under which most state aid is granted the indigent. Under the rules of an VEN, they will be given their fresh start by an IE with the understanding that whenever -if ever- they offer value, they will willingly accept Value Units in return. Nothing else mentioned here applies.

3. E. C. Riegel and we stand FOR the indigent's RIGHT to create their own money with which to trade and survive and ultimately prosper (should they so desire or are able) and we stand squarely against any and all who would deliberately try to corner or monopolize markets (which ultimately makes people slaves of these enterprises).

Such is the secret core of your creed, the other half of your double standard:
it is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the effort of others-

This statement rests on the notion -accepted without ANY criticism- of imposed scarcity.

it is immoral to consume your own product, but moral to consume the products of others-

This becomes the de facto result of bourgeois morality as she reads it, otherwise it has no meaning, and furthermore any producer doesn't care who buys his product as long as he receives reliable payment in a measure of split-barter that does not change its value. In fact, without the indigent, there would be tremendous economic surpluses that might never be consumed, therefore wasted, inevitably resulting in producers deciding to cut back on production. Producing too little is as inefficient as producing too much.

it is immoral to earn, but moral to mooch-

We have many social mechanisms that help us distinguish real habitual moochers from those who just need a little help during a hard time. Rand is trying desperately, and failing, to make their want a moral issue.

it is the parasites who are the moral justification for the existence of the producers, but the existence of the parasites is an end in itself-

The justification for the parasite IS an end in itself, but Rand has it all backwards. The parasites are those at the top, not those at the bottom.

it is evil to profit by achievement, but good to profit by sacrifice-

This may be the only point with which we agree. Achievement in the sense Rand uses it, might be an economic good, whether it is a moral good, is a highly charged and possibly erroneous question. In any case, we accept her refusal to allow sacrifice under the rubric of bourgeois morality by removing its necessity from the equation.

it is evil to create your own happiness, but good to enjoy it at the price of the blood of others.

Really? Ayn Rand isn't seeing who the real “useless eaters” are, probably never did either. But she did add the words blood of others which can only mean by acts of violence and war. This makes far more sense if applied to the ruling elites, who I remind you all have innocent blood on their hands, have a historical background of STEALING what does not belong to them by means of fraud and trickery and are in fact the “useless eaters” because they produce nothing of value. Now consider to whom does the following apply?

Your code divides mankind into two castes and commands them to live by opposite rules:
those who may desire anything and those who may desire nothing,
the chosen and the damned,
the riders and the carriers,
the eaters and the eaten.
What standard determines your caste?
What passkey admits you to the moral elite?
The passkey is lack of value.

We're tempted to see far more of this within the political left than in any religious practices these days, although some of them still persist. We'll continue to consider more of these issues in the next post.

David Burton

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