Thursday, July 13, 2017

Why I Love Objectivism

Why do I love Objectivism? Because Objectivism shows how all rights are essentially reducible to individual rights. Ayn Rand called Objectivism "A Philosophy for living on Earth." Her philosophy holds that man's greatest resource is his own reasoning mind, and that the means to secure individual rights is achievable for each individual through the application of reason. The greatest right of the individual is to be free in his life, his property, and the pursuit of his own happiness. With Objectivism, Ayn Rand properly recognized that happiness in life is derived by individuals pursuing those things which they perceive to be of equal or greater value than their lives. She called this productive achievement.

And there can be no sacrifice in productive achievement, because sacrifice by definition is to give something of greater value, one's life, to something of lesser value. To claim something to be a sacrifice, is to demean both the subject and the object of the endeavor. The things that an individual does which are worth the price paid in life, are properly called virtues.

For example, if a mother defends her child it is because the child is a value as great/greater than her life, not because the child is worthless in comparison to herself. Ayn Rand called this the virtue of selfishness. And when you think of it, when it comes to others, what better compliment could you possibly give any endeavor, person or love - than to say that you value them as much or more than your own life? It is because you value yourself, that you learn to see the value in others.

Similarly, using an analogy from algebra, when you exchange the placeholder of currency (C) for the labor (L) of a mechanic to fix your car, you are exchanging your productive achievement (C), for the productive achievement of the mechanic (L) in order to achieve a mutually beneficial result (R); the mechanic acquires his valued placeholder of currency and you get your car fixed. (Money is a tool of exchange, which represents the intangible commodity of work.) This concept of mutually beneficial exchange is called The Trader Principle.

By this logic, benevolence is implied. For an individual to use force to obtain his desires, (with fraud being a form of force,) he must first stipulate that he is incapable or unwilling to achieve with his own life a value that is worthy of trading for the value he seeks. If such an individual holds that the value in the lives of others is not worth respecting through trade of equivalent value, then he is accepting that the value of no individual is worthy of just compensation, including his own. So to initiate force against one's fellow man is to justify the initiation of force against one's self. On its face, properly understood, the initiation of force is irrational.

The basic premise of Objectivism is that the life of the individual is the highest virtue, and that the mind of the individual is his greatest resource for achieving value in his life. It holds that the virtues held in value by the individual are the purview of the individual alone to determine and defend for himself. Furthermore, it is in valuing one's self that the individual derives a standard of value by which to value all others.

The brilliance of Ayn Rand is displayed in how she demonstrated for these, and so many more, seemingly complex subjects, that they are each reducible to individual rights. I have lived my entire life among remarkable intellects, many of whom I perceive to possess in the aspect of their minds, greater efficiency and/or greater capacity than my own, but even I can hold the simple concept of individual rights in my mind, and with enough rigor I can prove to myself its veracity. No one but you can deny to yourself the right to think. And no one has to know if you defy their exhortations to the contrary by doing so. The same rigor is possible to anyone possessing the will and the discipline to exercise it. Nobody can do your thinking for you, but Ayn Rand drew the maps.

My dream for myself and my dream for the world are corollaries. And therein lies the answer to the question. Love is a value. Love of self requires a system for determining that value. As a five-year-old child I was warned off dogmatism by my mother, (a remarkable story in itself.) Because of that I spent the next  17 years exploring  a myriad of religions and philosophies, searching for something that made as much sense to me as my parent's philosophy meant to them.  Eventually, once I believed that I had reasonably exhausted all other possibilities, I sought to comprehend that which my parents valued. It turned out that they were right all along. However, this is not about their achievement. It is in the soundness of my own judgment, and mine alone, that I have discovered that Objectivism is the most ideal system I have found for the service of the achievement of my values. I have no regrets. I earned it.

I love Objectivism because I want to live in a world where all individuals value self enough to value each other, where each man strives towards his own productive achievement without the intent to in any way infringe upon the productive achievement of anyone else, where men feel free to be open and honest with one another without some inherent fear of reprisal, where life is valued more than death, where the first question on everyone's lips is not "For what are you willing to die" but rather "For what is it that you live?"

In such a world the answer is clear, because the standard of value is clear. I live for me. You live for you. And that's okay. In fact, as the premise for the possibility of our healthy relationship, it is desirable.