Intro to ‘Ayn Rand, Altruism, and Jihad’
John R. Houk, Editor
The key to understand Eileen Toplansky’s article below is to understand the essence of what Ayn Rand stands for. Just as an alert, I am certainly no expert on Ayn Rand. And yet, Rand was a very large influence from my transition of being a dedicated Dem toward Christian Conservative.
If anyone knows even a smidgen about Ayn Rand, they would have realize being a Christian does not really connect with Randian Objectivist Philosophy – which is atheistic.
This article’s understanding about Rand’s Objectivist atheism hits the nail on the head of my experience. The article is an Acton Institute source. Acton is noted for Free Market economics, hence is very Capitalism friendly. The Acton Institute promotes Christianity (See Also Lord Acton’s “The History of Freedom in Christianity”) in its Conservative economics known as Austrian Economics. Austrian Economics embraces much of Objectivism minus the atheism:
There once was a time when I was enamored by the philosophy of Ayn Rand. An émigré from the Soviet Union, the influential novelist and founder of Objectivism had an enthusiasm for market capitalism and a hatred of communism that I found entrancing. I discovered her two major philosophical novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, in my early years in college as I was beginning to wake from my enchantment with liberalism. I was instantly hooked.
Rand’s ideas were intriguing, yet she harbored sentiments that made it difficult for a young Christian to accept. She was an atheist who despised altruism and preached the “virtue of selfishness.” She believed that rational self-interest was the greatest good and sang the praises of egoism.
In retrospect, it appears obvious that any attempt to reconcile these ideas with my orthodox evangelicalism was destined to fail. Still, I thought there might be something to the philosophy and was particularly intrigued by her defense of capitalism. My understanding of our economic system was a rather immature, though, and I failed to recognize that Rand had an almost complete misunderstanding of capitalism. She confused self-interest with selfishness.
On this point Rand is quite mistaken. Reason, applied consistently, doesn’t lead us down a straight path to egoism, much less to capitalism. Examined closely, we would find that her entire Objectivist philosophy is founded on this simple question begging premise. Rand, of course, would claim that it was a self-evident truth. But this requires us to believe that no one who ever came to a different conclusion was following reason where it leads. She might have no problem accepting such a conclusion—Rand was never one to tolerate dissent—but we don’t have sufficient justification for doing so.
This veneration of egoism also lead her to consider altruism to be a form of evil. As she explains in The Virtue of Selfishness:
Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value–and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.
Those who fail to notice the way that Rand defines altruism often mistake her critique as an argument against Christian morality. This isn’t surprising when we consider that Rand herself seems to make the same error. But the Christian view of altruism is not predicated on an obligation to love others more than we love ourselves. While there may be instances where such self-sacrificial love is appropriate, it is not an absolute duty. What we are commanded to do is love others just as we love ourselves. We are to love other humans in the same way, taking into account their interests and needs. We are not to treat them, as Comte would have us, in a disinterested manner.
Fully considered, it becomes obvious that Rand’s views congeal into a fatally flawed philosophy. Even when stripped of its atheistic elements, Objectivism’s focus on radical individualism cuts it off from reality and causes it to wither under scrutiny. And as much as we might admire Rand’s deep-rooted hatred of collectivism, her philosophy is … READ THE REST (Ayn Rand Didn’t Understand Capitalism. Or Altruism. Or Christianity. Or Reality. By JOE CARTER; Acton Institute; 11/15/13)
I am still enamored with Rand’s Objectivism, but the monkey wrench of atheism crops up I thank God for the promoters of Austrian Economics.
The author Toplansky uses Rand’s concept of criticizing altruism as being a Leftist disease infecting self-interest profitability by associating it with Europe’s current Multiculturalist culture-destroying disease allowing Islam to supplant a Western heritage.
JRH 5/15/17 (Hat Tip: Ted Belman of Israpundit)
Ayn Rand, Altruism, and Jihad
By Eileen F. Toplansky
May 14, 2017
In fathoming the failure of Europeans to protect their own interests against the onslaught of Islamic jihadism, one is reminded of Ayn Rand's quotation that "[r]eason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them[.]"
Bruce Bawer, an astute observer of the European scene, wonders how "Marine Le Pen lost in a landslide" given all the jihadist assaults against the French people and the very culture of France. Bawer offers three possibilities that include:
- European guilt about past imperial histories and a "need to atone."
- the postmodern belief that "no culture is better than any other – and it's racist to say otherwise."
- the influence of the mainstream media, which routinely "soft pedals the Islamic roots of terror"
- the fact that "some people don't want to learn the truth"
In the Autumn 2004 issue of the Wilson Quarterly, Christopher Clausen writes that “for many Europeans in the past 20 years, now-distant memories of both world wars have hardened into a self-righteous conviction that peace outweighs any value that might conflict with it, almost regardless of the threat or provocation.”
Consequently, there is an exquisite disregard in deliberately ignoring the "grim possibility that their children and grandchildren might end up by living under shariah law, if, in fact, they are allowed to live at all." Consider that London presently has 100 sharia courts that are "based on the rejection of the inviolability of human rights: the values of freedom and equality that are the basis of English Common Law." Moreover, "a third of UK Muslims do not feel 'part of British culture.'"
As further evidence of the ultimate intent of Islamists, Saudi religious scholars include the following in the nine-volume English translation of the Quran.
[D]iscard (all) the obligations (covenants, etc.) … to fight against all the Mushrikun as well as against the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizya (a tax levied on the non-Muslims who do not embrace Islam and are under the protection of an Islamic government) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.
As Nonie Darwish has pointed out, 64% of the Quran is devoted to denigrating commentary about kafirs, or non-Muslims.
And yet, while the above quoted words of the Quran should "forever silence any fantasies regarding Islam's peaceful disposition toward the non-Muslim," the West continues to avoid the obvious. But as Ayn Rand has noted, "[y]ou can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."
Hence, France continues to decompose in front of our eyes. Yves Mamou writes that "everything that represents state institutions ... is now subjected to violence based on essentially sectarian and sometimes ethnic excesses, fueled by an incredible hatred of our country[.]” Ultimately, France "and all of European society must assimilate Islamic social norms, not the other way around."
Newly elected President Macron symbolizes the multicultural manifesto when he maintains that "French culture doesn't exist in and of itself; there is no such thing as a single French culture. There is culture in France and it is diverse and multiple." Is it then inevitable that "France is going to have to live with terrorism," as former prime minister Manuel Valls proclaimed?
Coupled with the ongoing Islamic push is the leftist destructive bent. Thus, "Belgium is unique" in that it is the "first nation blending appeasement to Islam and a suicidal form of nihilism[.]” It is not coincidental that in Belgium, "euthanasia is out of control." With a record number of people killed by lethal injection, it is equally disturbing that "Belgium is the country with the highest per capita number of volunteers for the Caliphate."
Judith Friedman Rosen reminds us that against the backdrop of Normandy, where tourists "pay tribute to those who died pursuing liberty," there is a pervasive fear as the "French open door policy to Muslim immigrants, who reject Western values and liberty" has given way to "terror, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian murders." The "clash of culture and civilization" continues, and "unlike the Asian and Indian immigrants ... many of the Muslims are not willing to integrate into the society – and are trying to force their values such as Halal, [and] the prohibition of pork ... onto the French populace." What will be the future of France when "30% of French Muslims want Sharia law and less than 25% identify as French citizens"?
The Jihad Files by N.M. Guariglia document the results of jihad throughout the world so that Paris is now "one of the most dangerous capitals on Earth." A "Toronto imam has sworn that all Muslims will eventually kill all Jews." And in the name of religion, Pakistani three-year-olds are being married off while Nigerian three-year-olds are having heavy stones dropped on their heads. Not to be outdone, "[i]n Iraq, ISIS continues to commit unimaginable crimes. Approximately 200 Iraqis have been kidnapped to be used as human shields against U.S. air strikes. Homosexuals continue to get murdered in large quantities and for public display. Mentally handicapped Iraqis are being rounded up by ISIS and used against their will as suicide bombers. And mass executions against civilians accused of 'blasphemy' continue unabated."
The incursions continue as the "Saudis plan on building 560 mosques across the South Asian nation of Bangladesh." Is it not surprising, then, that "minority communities across Bangladesh are once again facing violence and persecution by the Sunni Muslim majority"? Mohshin Habib describes how "many Hindu areas experience attacks of ... religious oppression. Muslim fundamentalists vandalized idols, set fire to Hindu temples and ... looted valuables from temples."
Bruce Thornton asks, "[H]ow much worse will the destruction and death have to be to wake us up?" These "indulgences of naive idealism," dangerous delusions, and jihad denial still paralyze the West. Ayn Rand reminds us that "there are two sides to every issue. One side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."
Until we can incorporate the idea that "nothing is creepier than Islam" and begin to "challenge Islamic racism, misogyny, genocide," as Edward Cline exhorts, how can decent people not fall prey to Linda Sarsour's "stealth jihad in a hijab"?
Amazingly, the more obvious the facts, "the more fiercely do people resist them." Bawer explains that "as skilled propagandists [continue to] represent Muslims as the mother of all victim groups, many Westerners [are] quick to buy into it all." This is aided by the "media's cheery ignorance about Islam's hostile ideology," as revealed by A.Z. Mohamed.
This is the most puzzling aspect of the media's capitulation. After all, Islam brooks no dissent, and freedom of press and speech is eventually obliterated. But Ayn Rand explains that "to act rationally means to act in accordance with the acts of reality. Emotions are not tools of cognition. What you feel tells you nothing about the facts; it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts[.]"
Even the Church, which is "the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith," has abrogated its role. Instead of fighting to save the lives of Christians who are unwilling to renounce Christ, too many churches are deafeningly silent on terrorism. Denis MacEoin describes how the United Church of Christ (UCC) cultivates dealings with Islamic groups "despite the fact that Muslims across the Middle East have been killing, expelling, and humiliating Christians for a very long time, but especially in recent decades." Why hasn't the UCC noted the mass exodus of Christians precipitated by extremist Muslims and the Palestinian authorities?
But what might be a motivating factor for this ostensible ignorance and indifference? I turn again to Ayn Rand. For most people, the term "altruism" has a positive connotation. But Rand "rejects this perception of altruism[.] She argues that the ultimate moral value, for each human individual, is his or her own well-being." Thus, Rand believes that selfishness is a virtue because "it secures and protects one's rational values – ultimately, one's life and happiness. Since a concern with one's own interests is a character trait that, when translated into action, enables one to achieve and guard one's own well-being, it follows that selfishness is a virtue. One must manifest a serious concern for one's own interests if one is to lead a healthy, purposeful, fulfilling life."
Rand maintains that "[t]he injunction 'don't judge' is the ultimate climax of the altruist morality which, today, can be seen in its naked essence. When men plead for forgiveness, for the nameless, cosmic forgiveness of an unconfessed evil, when they react with instantaneous compassion to any guilt, to the perpetrators of any atrocity, while turning away indifferently from the bleeding bodies of the victims and the innocent—one may see the actual purpose, motive and psychological appeal of the altruist code. When these same compassionate men turn with snarling hatred upon anyone who pronounces moral judgments, when they scream that the only evil is the determination to fight against evil—one may see the kind of moral blank check that the altruist morality hands out."
Edward Cline has asked if Europe is in the terminal state of a death wish. He asserts that Europe's "foundational driver is altruism" – a kind of "moral blank check." The West appears to have lost the desire "to value [itself] which means to fight for [its] happiness."
Since "Allah demands that humans not love him, but submit to him, as slaves submit to their masters, and to sacrifice their lives for him," we should absolutely refuse to accept this frame of reference and all that it entails. Instead, we need to realize that "if any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism [or self-destructive generosity] that men have to reject."
Eileen can be reached at email@example.com.
© American Thinker 2017
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