Re: virus: Things Ayn Rand is not.

Haphaestus (
Fri, 10 Oct 1997 10:02:12 -0500 (CDT)

As I sit in the University's GCA lab, mulling over how a simple line like,
"I'm not going to use Rand's terms, but...," would have been useful, I
simultaneuosly write...


>> Drawing on what I know of [R's] philosophy (which, like you, I find
>> better expressed in her novels than in her other writings), I think that she
>> would applaud the use of individuals as livestock / resources.
>Wrong! Individuals are not resources but "ends in and of themselves" !
>> That is the
>> essence of capitalism (ref. Marx, _Capital_).
>Wrong again! The essense of capitalism is Free trade and personal property!

The capitalist mechanism I referred to was Marx's, not Rand's.
However: What is the distinction between using an individual as a resource
or item of livestock, ("harvesting" them through wages, etc.) and engaging
in free trade with individuals who hold private property? Isn't that just a
change from a first person limited to third person omniscient point of view?
As far as "individuals" go, we're running into a semantics problem
here. Replace my use of that word with "human beings viewed as isolated
organisms." Rand's use of "individual" is a much more loaded version.

>> If they had been worked to
>> death, or starved to death because they could not or would not work, it
>> wouldn't have been a problem -- *because* if they had the impetus and
>> intelligence to do so, they would have found a way out of their situation.
>She would have asked how are they being worked? At the point of a gun or just
>hungry and wanting to trade work for food. Don't forget the people who provide
>the work are in fact people too and not just another "resource" or "money

The question of "how" they are worked is covered in the lines
following this excerpt. However: we are again encountering the semantic
problem here, re: "individual" or "person."

>> She would object (and probably did) to the extermination of individuals when
>> that was done as a method of garbage disposal. That would be vandalism, just
>> as slavery would be theft.
>No it would be treating individuals as "resources" rather than individuals that
>are ends in and of themselves. ( A side note here: She did believe in the death
>penalty for murders )

"Vandalism" and "slavery" were my terms, not Rand's, used to provide
an accessible metaphor.

>> Your point on "taking up resources that our brighter kids could use"
>> is way off, however. That viewpoint is socialistic -- which she emphatically
>> was not.
>> SGK

<patronizing remark snipped>

Question: does consideration of an individual as "an end in and of
themselves" serve any practical purpose? Where would psychology (or
memetics) fit in? What about self-development?