With Paul Ryan's selection as the vice-presidential candidate with Mitt Romney, much is being made of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of "greed is good, charity is evil." Since Rand was an atheist, I wonder: Does her belief system represent what atheism means to you?
No, Ayn Rands philosophy does not represent what atheism means to me. Her philosphy is one of greed and self interest, nor do I agree with Ryan's statemtn that it is an Atheist philosphy at all. Of anything, her philosophy tht religion is a psychological weakness is Anti-theist. I believe that there is a difference between Atheism and Anti-theism. Atheism is simply a disbelief in god or a rejection of god, Anti-theism is more of an intolerance towards all religion. Atheists don't need to be intolerant of religion to be Atheists, they simply have to not believe in god.
Anti-Theism is not inherently intolerant towards all religion. Intolerance towards religion is a property shared by many anti-theists, so I can understand your confusion. In the secular context, being an anti-theist means you oppose the belief in a god, gods or organized religion. Whether you are intolerant of such beliefs or not is up to you. I will also note that some theists (usually deists) fall in to the group of anti-theists in that they believe in a god but oppose the idea of organized religion. Also don't forget that there are atheistic religions out there, so it is also possible that some of those adherents belong to a sect of an organized religion, but may be anti-theistic in the sense that they oppose belief in a god or gods.
Ayn Rand never said anything along the lines of "charity is evil".
My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help [emphasis mine] and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.
“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964
No... Ingersol, David Silverman (all American Atheists)... and the late great Madalyn Murray OHair
that's who~ peace cya later
Ayn Rand's objectivism is not atheism. Her opinions basically boil down to "every man for himself." It is not a surprise that all the GOP wingnuts were enamoured with her in this election cycle, as her ideas on economy fit them to a tee. The GOP was just very nuanced about noting that she was also an atheist.
My moral philosophy on atheism boils down to "I do not believe in (any) gods because none have been demonstrated." My atheism says nothing about my morals, my ethics, my desire to do charitable works for my neighbours, or anything else.
Does Any Rand represent your atheist philosophy?
I read Ayn Rand as a very young teenager because my Dad was a great advocate of her philosophy. When I read several of her concoctions, I had information to debate him and knowledge of why I felt both of them had faulty reasoning.
I based my position on different people having different needs; individuals are born into a culture, and some cultures are healthy and others are not. I saw it all around me as a teenager.
I envisioned an individual being born into a world with parental support and another born with no support, of growing and developing according to survival of the fittest and might makes right. Neither philosophy made sense to me. Survivalist thinking would most probably result in a lot of individuals doing what he/she wanted, when he/she wanted, and having little or no care or compassion for the needs of others. The benefit of being born into a healthy community is an individual who perceives him/herself as part of something far larger than him/her has a wider perspective on life.
As I grew into adulthood and racked up some experience, my realization grew that in order to be a happy, healthy, mature, adult, one needs community. That was certainly true when the Earth’s population was one million; it is truer as the population is now over seven billion (with a B).
What does community offer that individualism does not?
Well, the most obvious is the natural developmental tasks of growing from a dependent child, through counter-dependence, to independence, to inter-dependence. There are many things others offer that cannot be fulfilled alone. Healthy resistance to authority requires something to push against. Learning how to think for oneself in a community of people who know how to think for themselves increases the probability of finding good options.
A sense of belonging and being part of something much larger than oneself makes it possible to thrive, physically and emotionally. Warmth and companionship coupled with having a partner, whether in love, recreation or work, can increase a sense of self as belonging, of having value and purpose.
A community of individuals who know how to work as a team make many things possible that cannot occur as a single. Whether it is sharing meals, a home, memories, or it also includes playing as a team member with others depending on you, and you depending on others. In addition, huge tasks can be done more effectively and efficiently with a well-oiled team.
All the skills necessary to be able to work as a team member can be learned. A skills-kit should be learned in the home or in school, but sadly, some don’t learn those skills that serve them well as adults. Many remain either dependent or counter-dependent throughout their lives. Both cripple maturity.
A mentally healthy, mature, adult human being is able to be both strong/weak and thinking of self/other. Flourishing requires flexibility even as it requires skills.
Ayn Rand does not represent atheism to me she represents individualism and separatism. She represents one against others, not being part of community.
Atheism, to me, is finding no evidence of god/s. Nothing more or nothing less.
Gah! Not a chance. Rand is borderline sociopath. Humans are emotional creatures bond together through compassion who have discovered logic and reason as tools to aid them in this life. A life of reason alone is hardly a life at all IMHO.
I think that you are misreading Ayn Rand. She is not saying that greed is good. She is saying that passion is good. Self-respect is good. Vision is good. These things have very different consequnces than those who are fearful and unwilling to accept TOTAL responsibility for their own lives.
She is saying that charity is a sick idea foisted upon those who, in the words of James Randi, are the sheeple who beg to be fleeced and butchered while fiercely defending their right to be victimized. It's one thing to foster a state of learned helplessness under the name of charity. It's quite another to give a hand-up to one who is ready to improve his/her station.
To understand why charity is so important to be accepted as good by our society, it is helpful to understand the history of money and its evolution - and even the history of schools.
Start with Locke, who wrote one of the canonical texts for forming societies. As he discusses the idea of ownership (lawful possession) of land, he says that for there to be justification for ownership, that ownership must have three conditions. These are:
1) There must be enough land left over so that others can support themselves.
2) You must not let it spoil (allow waste or wanton destruction. This prevents one from owning more land than one can personally use)
3) The land-owner must mix his labor with the land that he possesses. One cannot own huge tracts of land that go unused by his own labor.
Then, after many pages of explanation, he ends his chapter with a paragraph that makes a sudden shift, saying that when money is invented, and men agree to attach a value to it, then governments who create the currency have the right to do anything they want.
1) You do not need to have enough land left over for the survival of others. You can buy all the land you want using money, because ownership of MONEY isn’t a basic human right because it is a human invention. Money trumps the value of land and of humanity.
2) You do not need to consider spoilage, because money does not spoil.
3) You do not need to mix your labor with the land. You can use money to hire others to work “your” privately owned (rather than posessed) land for you - if you choose to put the land to productive use, which is no longer required. You can rape the land, destroy the aquifers and the topsoil, as well as the very air we breathe, if you can afford to buy enough land.
This leaves the question of how those who can’t afford to buy land will survive without access to the land from which they would be able to grow crops or raise chickens for their survival. So along comes Adam Smith who addresses that. (Wealth of Nations - another canonical text). He says there is a natural law that works with the economy to address that problem. (He called it the invisible hand).
He sort of picks up where John Locke too-quickly left off. He accepts Locke’s premise about money being of a higher stature than land or living things – essentially making it a god, and adds “it is only among the inferior ranks of people that the scantiness of subsistence can set limits to the further multiplication of the human species; and it can do so in no other way than by destroying a great part of the children which their fruitful marriages produce.”
And so, with the establishment of our fiscal system, with its dependence upon the national banks, the wealthy were legally entitled to be masters – by divine right. The free man is really a slave, except in his own mind. (He goes into great length on that too) The numbers of poor will be restricted by natural law (premature death caused by poverty). A wealthy man’s ideal, don’t you think? Not surprising that we have the fiscal system we have, given that in early America, those who owned no land were not allowed to vote and could not run for public office.
In a system like this, religions like christianity play an important role. As the wealthy don't want to support the slaves who think they are free, it becomes important for people to learn about charity, which is nothing more than a distraction. It allows those who give charity (in the form of money) the opportunity to feel good about themselves as they support a system that feeds off them - literally.
Did you know that 1/3 of arable lands (in non-humid climates) have lost an enormous amount of topsoil because the mega corporate farms are given subsidies to use the bad farming practices that are destroying the topsoil at 10 times the rate that it can be recreated? Did you know that these same companies are destroying our aquifers with the toxic chemicals they use to make up for the lost topsoil? Did you know that the US EPA just authorized another 1500 aquifers to be polluted (destroyed) by corporate energy giants that use fracking that turns faucets into blow torches? (Those aquifers account for one half of America's drinking water). Did you know that global warming is real? Did you know that global warming is evaporating water before it can be used? Did you know that bad animal farming by other corporate giants is destroying more land and turning grasslands into deserts? Did you know that in 1999, 20% of the global population was food insecure (malnourished), and though the rate of growth of hunger is slowing and even coming down because of bad resource management that depletes the soil and water of the ability to sustain life at all, it is still expected that by the end of THIS decade, 30% will face hunger/thirst, and that won't be restricted to Asia and Africa.
When hunger and thirst comes to America (and it's already happening), those with the greatest wealth will still have food and water. But the cost of these necessities will be so severe that it will be worse than the Great Depression - when crops rotted in the field because the family farmers (who preceded th corporate giants) could not afford to buy the fuel to get crops to market?
As our fiscal system is dependent upon there not being too many poor people for the middle class to support, and as we have a system of national banks that fund the death of millions, and as war is the most efficient way to kill off the greatest number of people, I see those same people who have been indoctrinated about the need for "charity" being riled up enough to support the war that is REALLY designed to decrease (cull) our numbers.
And this is where the history of mandatory public schools comes into play. Compulsory "education" (if you can call it that) was first conceived of in 1819 (the same year the USA lost its Constitutional Republic in a coup d'etat by wealthy bankers in government). Jonathan Fichte called for the institution of mandatory public schools because he wanted his country (Prussia) to throw off the French government, but the people weren't very willing to go to war. Here is a quote from one of his speeeches:
"If you want to influence at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will."
These schools existed to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic that employers wanted workers to know. But they also had a strong emphasis on ETHICS, DUTY, DISCIPLINE, AND OBEDIENCE that is needed by tyrannical governments. Fichte, a strong nationalist, knew that the only way to get people who, though believing in the doctrine of “Love your enemy” would willingly risk EVERYTHING to go to war against a declared enemy. (An idea that Goering of Nazi fame expanded upon during the Nuremberg Trials.) (Fichte is thought to be the father of national socialism (Nazi)
America's schools were founded upon the exact system being used in Prussia. Which is how it is that you were never shown or told about the documents that explain the nature of the coup d'etat that took your government away from you, and how it is that you have been told utter fabrications about our history, which is why the people are unable to reclaim their government. We are nothing more than fodder for a system that we valiantly defend.
I don't agree fully with Ayn Rand. I'm not a capitalist. I advocate throwing away money entirely - and barter is a form of money. Money is a social glue. We CAN use community and cooperation as a social glue. When we end the use of money, ALL the social ills that are created because of its use - including crime, poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc. etc, etc, will disappear.
Ayn Rand thinks that we can end these travesties while allowing money to exist. Therefore, she is right in saying that fiscal charity is bad because it actually harms those the contributor wants to help. And she is half-right/half-wrong in saying that passion should be rewarded at the expense of others. She is wrong (IMO) in suggesting that money combined with passion, drive, intellect, and purpose trumps humanity. When we throw out money, and learn about the science (now being withheld from mandatory public indoctration that we call education), individuals will learn how to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, because they will be able to perceive that which is not currently perceived by design.
Sorry about length but I didn't know how to condense it seeing as there are so many components to the answer to your question.
Well, her world view/philosophy focused essentially on the individual over the collective. While I don't think it is a necessity to possess a strong grasp of, or position on that subject to address the existence of god, Rand-like individualism certainly reinforces the questioning/disempowerment of authority and society which is part and parcel to atheism. In other words, she basically said that you should live for yourself and think for yourself; what others may think or approve of should not factor into your decisions. That is a statement that I think atheists identify with whether they take her views further into the economic realm or not.
Short answer: no. When I was a teen (perhaps her proper audience) I must have read just about everything that Ayn Rand wrote -- novels & essays. At the time, I agreed with many of her tenets, and don't wholly reject them all now. But her collection of works in her infuriatingly simplistic and pedantic style never seemed like anything close to a coherent philosophy. It actually never occurred to me back then that she had anything to say about atheism other than her credo of non-submission, which is good as far as it goes (which is not very far).
If mountain lions could read human texts, they might be nearly ideal Randians. I like and respect mountain lions, but am not one. I'm a member of a social species, like it or not, and so recognize that society is built not upon me, but I on it. The Egyptian pyramids weren't built point-down for the very good reason that the greater mass is necessary to support the pinnacle, and must by simple geometry also support intermediate layers. So it is with social pyramids. We at the bottom are the necessary support, and in turn support those less foundational like priest, cops & politicians, who in turn support whichever polished stone ends up on top. To some like Rand the uppermost is the 'point', and the foundational layers, since they're already there, are irrelevant.