Objectivism as Heresy

Ayn Rand is the very definition of a heretic. A heretic is someone who takes one part or one principle of the tradition, treats it as supreme, and uses it as a weapon to override all other parts or principles.

Outside the Biblical worldview, men are not seen as being made in the image and likeness of God. Either men are created in hierarchies, in which the gods place some families or bloodlines over others as part of a cosmic caste system, or men arise from chaos, or accident, without any place or purpose. Absent the principle that all men are sacred, even the most lowly, in the name of the sacred image stamping them, there is no reason justifying respect for the lowly. It is for this reason that slavery was never abolished, nor even regarded as morally dubious, before Christ, not in any century or land in antiquity.

From this principle of Imago Dei, Christianity deduces both respect for the individual, including respect for individual rights (here seen as natural, not granted by birth or king’s fiat) as well as compassion for the poor.

Heretics take the one principle, individualism or compassion, ignore its source, the doctrine of Imago Dei, and use it to excuse violation of the other principle.

In the case of Marx, he took compassion to the poor, and elevated that to a supreme principle overriding individualism, hence overriding any right to life and property. In the name of the people, all these things can be trampled.

In the case of Nietzsche, he took individualism as a supreme principle to override compassion, but also reason, morality, and faith in God. In the name of the will to power, all these things can be trampled.

In the case of Ayn Rand, she took reason as a supreme principle to support individualism, and hence to override altruism, self-sacrifice, compassion to the poor, and faith in God. In the name of reason, all these things can be trampled.

In reality, anyone taking reason as supreme should and would naturally follow the reasoning of Aristotle to it’s culmination in the reasoning of Thomas Aquinas and the Thomists, of which no more rational and logical tribe of man has ever existed. Reason, or Logos, when taken as supreme, naturally allows the philosopher to be be led, step by logical step, into confession of Christ, or Logos. It is the only logical worldview. All others are self contradictory hence irrational, either openly (see Zen Buddhism) or tacitly (see Objectivism).

In Zen, the rational mind is seen as a chattering monkey standing between the soul and the self-abnegation of enlightenment.

In Objectivism, both ironclad adherence to one’s sworn word is paramount, it being crucial that as all productive men must be able to make contracts in a trustworthy fashion, hence one’s sworn word can never be betrayed; while at the same time and in the same sense, and adultery, divorce, contraception and aborticide are permitted as needed, as the romantic impulse is paramount, it being an expression of one’s inmost highest values and sense if life which can never be betrayed, and one’s sworn word in such areas as marriage covenant is of little account.

In reality, outside of the Christian worldview, there is no justification for individualism, no reason to regard the soul as paramount, immortal, or significant, no reason to justify private property as sacrosanct, no reason to respect women, or children, or slaves, and no reason to feel compassion for the poor and lowly.

One may, perhaps, as sentiment, respect the lowly or free the slave outside Christendom, but one cannot give a rational account of why such a thing should be a duty.

Likewise, outside Christendom, one cannot give a rational account of any duty upholding the rights of the individual against the collective — a pagan democracy was based on the power of the commoners as opposed to the noble, not based on the principle that all men are created equal. See, for example, the death of Socrates at the hands of a democratic vote.

Those who recover from Libertarianism or Objectivism often feel betrayed, as if victimized by the sharpster who exploited the naivety and natural selfishness of callow youth.

Such a feeling of betrayal is entirely justified. A heretic is always a traitor, because he takes a tradition to which he owes loyalty, pretending to remain loyal to it, but is only loyal to a part, using that to betray the other parts.

Treason is surely the worst of crimes, because it is always perpetrated against you by someone you trust. If there is anything worse than being stabbed, it is being stabbed in the back.

In the same way the communists take all opposition to communism, from Nazism to Monarchy to Republicanism, and merely call it “rightwing” or “conservative” or “reactionary” — as if Nazism and Communism were not variations on tyranny diametrically opposed to Republicanism — Ayn Rand takes all opposition to Libertarianism, from Communism to Christianity, and merely call it “collectivism” or “mystics of the mind” or “mystics of the body” — as if Libertarianism and Communism were not variations of paganism diametrically opposed to Christianity.

Ayn Rand herself is guilty of the fallacy she labels “the stolen concept fallacy” where one takes a concept that only makes sense in a given context, divorces it from its foundations, and uses the concept as a free-floating axioms to deduce the opposite of what that concept means. Individualism without Christianity is a mystical and arbitrary postulate, a mere excuse for selfishness, which is clearly against the moral intuition of mankind. Ayn Rand commits the naturalistic fallacy, by positing that certain virtues are necessary for survival, ergo those virtues are moral imperatives. But this axiom is mystical, an intuition, based on hedonism, or based on nothing.

Her vision of man as a heroic being is not justified by her axioms: from hedonism, or the axiom that one ought to do what is needed to preserve one’s life, the deduction that one ought to live well, and a free and honest and productive man, simply does not follow. Hedonism can, at most, propose that one should pursue pleasures in a fashion that preserves a long-term ability to pursue pleasure in old age, which, at most, will produce a philosophy of self-centeredness moderated only by a mild temperance — drink in moderation now, so one can continue drinking many years to come — but not the heroism which is the core of Ayn Rand’s vision.

The heroic man Ayn Rand sees an her exemplar, John Galt, in the climactic scene of her magnum opus ATLAS SHRUGGED, suffers literal torture and symbolic death (for his heartbeat stops being heard at one point) in order to shield the girl he loves from arrest, abuse and torture. He faces death for his beloved.

In one of the most transparent examples of special pleading every penned on paper, Galt is made to say that his motive for self-sacrifice is not self-sacrificial, on the grounds that he himself willed the act of self-sacrifice, placing a higher value on the life of his beloved than on his own — aha! but this is still technically selfish, the rational pursuit of self-interested self-preservation, on the grounds that his adoption of the values dictating this outcome was voluntary.

Anything and everything could be justified as self-interest on this grounds, including acts directly contrary to self-interest, such as self-sacrifice. It is a tautology that voluntary acts are voluntary. The question is whether one voluntarily puts self above others, or others above self.

Logic, and the long experience of mankind, shows that one who puts self above others serves neither. One who puts others above self serves both.

Heroism involves self-sacrifice for the greater good. Ayn Rand, in attempting to portray self-interest as heroic, proposed a paradox even her admittedly agile wit and artistic genius could not circumvent.

Outside the Biblical worldview,  individual rights cannot be sacred, because the lowly, the foolish, the stupid, the criminal are all less useful to others and to themselves as the noble, the wise, the learned, and the upright.

If an honest pagan or secular agnostic asks why a halfwitted and dirty criminal, born a bastard and raised in the gutter, should not be sterilized and sent to the galleys as a slave, given this is the only use he can be to society, what pagan or secular answer can be ventured?

Why should we support nature grants him natural rights, if, from the looks of things, nature supports a Darwinian war of all against all, red and bloody in tooth and claw?

The vision of Ayn Rand of man as a ruggedly heroic individual, neither asking nor giving alms, just and perfect in all his ways, neither needing nor granting compassion (save, perhaps, to those who support his worldview) simply cannot arise from reason alone, or nature alone.

Reason says useful men are more useful than useless ones, who, as Aristotle shows, are naturally meant to be slaves to their civilized betters. Nature says there is no compromise, no peace, no quarter, in the Darwinian struggle of the fittest to survive.

The vision of Ayn Rand also, it must be said, cannot arise except from an unchaste woman, sterile and void of children.

Motherhood is self-sacrifice. Motherhood is heroism.