Right and Wrong

What led me to this subject is probably the book of Atlas Shrugged. Its a book that opened my eyes to how terrible the world we live in can be. A book that gives me some hope, not for the future of our country but for people that work hard to achieve their goals in life. Unfortunately there is always those that don’t achieve anything in life that want to steal from the rich to give to the poor. Now I don’t believe in that, they must go make there own riches. With hard work anything is possible.

What I noticed is that the vast majority of people are selfish in that they believe they are entitled to their rights where others have no rights. Like for examle the majority of people don’t smoke. Have you noticed the amount of smoking sections that dissapear. Same with religion in schools, (children get forced today not to have a choice in what they hear). Because again the majority is religious. Where is the rights in that, where is the freedom to make your own decisions in life!

Well done for getting through the book. I have just loaded it onto my iPad, but haven’t got around to starting it…

There is no true freedom (IMO), there are opportunities within the boundaries of your life, and there are some lucky strikes (for whatever reason), however if you were unfortunate enough to have been born female in Iraq, you’re not going to get anywhere regardless of the amount of hard work you put in.

Children especially have never had any choice in what they want (or need) to hear, all of us grew up with the Christelike Nationale Onderwys, so there nothing really has changed at all, I have yet to hear of a secular school.

People are by nature inherently selfish, we have to be in order to survive, its instinct, and yes, we have developed intelligence along the way and one would expect everybody to have some sort of moral code by which they live, but the sad reality is that it is simply not true.

As for people who steal - I disagree with your statement -

steal from the rich to give to the poor
- very few people actually steal to give to the poor, they give unto themselves - no ulterior motives are necessary.

(Spoiler: I’m being counter-argumentative again on purpose)

Me and Majin were discussing this last night and we ended up down various routes of moral ambiguity. I don’t think by any margin that Majin is trying to be morally authoritative here.

I have to poke your argument with a stick a bit though… (to not poke an argument is a supreme form of insult)

however if you were unfortunate enough to have been born female in Iraq, you're not going to get anywhere regardless of the amount of hard work you put in.

Even before recent events in certain dictatorships in Africa it was my view that the oppressed quite frequently enable their oppressors through obedience rather than resisting when they clearly have an advantage in numbers. Maybe not applicable in this case because these women are being held in a kind of voluntary religious servitude more than anything else. A lot of them believe it just as much as their husbands do. I know that what Majin is railing for is a more egalitarian secular society than that. Rand frowns upon “the initiation of force” in any manner; including servitude, crime, fraud, suppression of free speech, etc.

I’m of course no stranger to the argument of “well starving kids in the desert had no choice”, and it’s a good one on the surface. However you have to ask about the wisdom of those around them, who ruined their countries through countless wars, or like in zim by “liberating” farmland and causing famine. This is exactly the kind of behaviour that Majin bemoans here… the castration of the rich in the name of the masses, that only results in a worse result for everyone. We must remember that some arabian nomads have lived in far harsher conditions than some starving African countries for millenia. The only difference is how they act. NOW the argument can be made that this “incorrect” (big air quotes) behaviour is merely inherited or cultural, and how on earth one can go about helping those who seem dead set on not being helped.

Another moral morass we went down discussing this is “who owns land in the first place?”. The people who got there first? The people who conquered those first people? The people who then conquered them…? Whoever was left?" The history of the world is a veritable minefield of moral ambiguities.

Children especially have never had any choice in what they want (or need) to hear, all of us grew up with the Christelike Nationale Onderwys, so there nothing really has changed at all, I have yet to hear of a secular school.

And yet some of us ended up on this forum being atheists anyway. Everyone has a choice at some point, but I too have to wonder how mentally equipped people in general are to make that choice on an informed basis. (Or whether they WANT to be informed in the first place).

- very few people actually steal to give to the poor, they give unto themselves - no ulterior motives are necessary.

In the context of Atlas Shrugged, this is the government. It is about the social grant system, federated healthcare, escalating taxes on the rich that often provides benefits only to the poor. It’s about “anti-competitive laws” (ironically claimed to be designed to foster competition), etc. The central idea of the book is “self-interest”, it preaches selfishness from up high. But not unmitigated run-amok selfishness, but “rational” selfishness. Is it really in the interest of the leaders-of-industry to destroy the environment? or the economy?.. etc.

Another moral minefield if you ask me. Where is the balance between paying enough taxes for a country to function, and paying too much, crippling the economy in the name of free water and lights to the poor (something the rich will pay for twice, once for themselves, and once for the poor, and some pocket money for the minister that is skimming some off). Do people have inaliable rights to free stuff they’re not prepared to work for? What if they’re unable to work for it? And what does “unable to” even mean? Does it mean that it’s EASIER to live off a govt. grant than find a job, or maybe the fact that they’re taken care of by other people lessens the need to go out there and be an entrepreneur… But what if they truly are fucked, surely we must help… But should that help be involuntary pillaging OR voluntary giving? Surely the latter is more morally desirable, and the rich frequently and selflessly engage in charity. Would this not work even better had the rich not been taxed to hell in the first place? (These truly are questions I don’t claim to have all the answers for)

Also in a sense, the “rich getting robbed for the poor” is about the mob mentality that it is the onus of the rich to provide for them. “The rich must give up jobs”, “The rich have a duty to society to… (whatever it is I want)”. Why do the rich have a bigger duty to society than everyone else? They’re the ones pumping the most into society in the first place…

Then codifying that mentality in laws through civil action and/or voting in the party that promises to give them the most. At it’s base yes, it’s based on self-interest. But at it’s peak it’s about the mob robbing the minority, to the detriment of everyone.

I think I’ve read all Ayn Rand’s books including “Capitalism: The unknown Ideal” and her letters to a zillion philosophers, publishers etc. She had an amazing intellect and “Atlas Shrugged” I must have read 20 times. Some of her philosophies can be attacked from a variety of perspectives but it is the fundamental issues that people miss, e.g. “You are free to take decisions, any decisions: but you cannot escape the consequences!” A woman in Iraq can shed her shackles but she cannot escape the consequences which may include a public flogging or having to sacrifice her country and flee to a ‘freer’ one.

Many of Rand’s moral stances concern rich and poor, e.g: “The notion of a Robin Hood mentality is an abomination.” The ‘rich’ IMHO is a loaded concept: How did they (the rich) acquire their wealth: through honest and productive effort or by dishonest exploitation; theft, corruption, inheritance; luck (as in gambling etc)? Rand is at pains to differentiate between productive effort; taking responsibility for one’s own decisions and consequences;and facing reality and dishonesty, falsity, corruption, abuse of power etc. I agree for example with her philosophy that if man speculates on what a society should do for the poor, he accepts the collectivist premise that men’s lives belong and are subject to society and that he, as a member of society, is entitled to set their goals, to control their destinies or to plan the ‘distribution’ of their efforts. Indeed, individual rights are subjected (and less important) in these instances to the wishes of the “public interest” or the “common good”.

On “Rights”: she states it is a moral concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationships with others in a social context and she states “Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law”

On Govt: She asks "do men need such an institution —and why? She states that "If men are to live together in a peaceful, productive, rational society and deal with one another to mutual benefit, they must accept the basic social principle without which no moral or civilized society is possible: the principle of individual rights" (“The Nature of Government” in “The virtue of Selfishness”) She differentiated between “individual rights” and totally rejects “human rights”: think about the moral implications of this! (Where’s Tele now when we need him…sorry my bad!) She also speaks of “a government of laws not of men” (Mugabe??)and significantly says (not an original thought) "The source of Government’s authority is “the consent of the governed”: the implication is not appreciated by the socialists/totalitarians/communists (or maybe it is!)…it means that governments have no rights except the rights delegated to it by its citizens for a specific purpose.

Many of Rand's moral stances concern rich and poor, e.g: "The notion of a Robin Hood mentality is an abomination." The 'rich' IMHO is a loaded concept: How did they (the rich) acquire their wealth: through honest and productive effort or by dishonest exploitation; theft, corruption, inheritance; luck (as in gambling etc)? Rand is at pains to differentiate between productive effort; taking responsibility for one's own decisions and consequences;and facing reality and dishonesty, falsity, corruption, abuse of power etc.

Strange, I’m of the opinion that her thoughts on the “initiation of force” are quite clear and distinguish these easily. Wikipedia summarises it as:

Objectivists hold that the initiation of physical force against the will of another is immoral,[58] as are indirect initiations of force through threats,[59] fraud,[60] or breach of contract.[61] The use of defensive or retaliatory force, on the other hand, is appropriate.[62]

Sorry maybe it’s the way I wrote it: she differentiated between right and wrong: falsity, corruption etc is bad!! So what she says is that wealth accumulated though honest effort is moral while it is immoral if power is abused in the process or by other immoral means.

"Well done for getting through the book. I have just loaded it onto my iPad, but haven't got around to starting it..."

Yeah, boogie monster told me yesterday I murdered the book, (the amount of reading I have done). I am still not finished I am at the last 100 pages, but its like a drug.
The book takes long to read because it makes you think about what you read to.
Its definately a book to reread.

Children especially have never had any choice in what they want (or need) to hear, all of us grew up with the Christelike Nationale Onderwys, so there nothing really has changed at all, I have yet to hear of a secular school.

Yeah, but maybe it could change one day. Maybe in time people will realise its all bullshit. I did grow up with christianity but in school, and if it wasn’t for that i would never have lived the lie. We never went to church as children (and I am very happy about that)

So maybe one day my wish will be granted.

Its just sad that i didn’t realise it earlier, while in school. But that is what happens when you are told lies, and you follow the majority’s views because it is seen as a sin to not believe what they believe. I do not follow the majority know and i am proud of that. And ever since I have read Ayn Rand I feel much more strongly about this. The book has had a massive effect on me.

I love having these type of debates with my S/O.

I’m not keen to commit to discussion here as I have’nt read the book (I’ll go hunt it down this week-end), I’ll tag the thread though, as I think this could be interesting to debate.

Another two generations possibly, religion is under pressure globally, however, any bloody thing is possible when it comes to human nature.

So maybe one day my wish will be granted.

Its just sad that i didn’t realise it earlier, while in school. But that is what happens when you are told lies, and you follow the majority’s views because it is seen as a sin to not believe what they believe.

Yeah, it would solve a lot of pain and heartache if people would just stop lying, not just about religion, but about everything.

I had a tough time in school because of my rebellion against authority, and I still have a tough time, although now its more a battle to keep my mouth shut at the right time, rather than landing up in impossible to win situations as I often encountered then.

Do you have kids Majin? (apologies for the slight hi-jack of thread here)

I’m concerned that whilst it is true that religion is under pressure in the sense that more people are seeing the light and rejecting faith, the pressure is causing the remaining religious to become more intolerant–they are moving towards the ‘fundamentalist’ axis. Religionists have such a slender grasp of morality they can justify almost any abomination in the name of their faith.

Do you have kids Majin?

No I do not have kids yet, but maybe in 3 years from now. And you?

I'm concerned that whilst it is true that religion is under pressure in the sense that more people are seeing the light and rejecting faith, the pressure is causing the remaining religious to become more intolerant--they are moving towards the 'fundamentalist' axis. Religionists have such a slender grasp of morality they can justify almost any abomination in the name of their faith
.

You are correct in this. What is interesting also is that I noticed especially in the book that the imoral caracters defended themselves more harshly then those that were not guilty. Not that I say I believe anything I read but that i see this to be true. :smiley:

Have you read the book yet st0nes?

Yes, two teenage sons, what I’m getting at, is that this is where you will make a difference, however you decide to raise them, you will most likely ensure that they will develop critical thinking skills and logical processes to aid them in life. We cant save the world, but we can contribute to the goal towards that dream.

Heh, a week ago Majin told me she was “Bored of reading all the same books”. So I suggested Rand, and tossed her Atlas Shrugged… now look what I’ve done!

BM don’t feel bad…Atlas Shrugged is still one of the best selling books after some 50 years; it has changed many people’s value systems including my own 4 children all now adults.

And mine, or should I say, it solidified a lot of things I was thinking about (that ended up with me reading about Rand), and then added a lot more.