Showing posts with label Ayn Rand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ayn Rand. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ayn Rand's Objectivism and Libertarianism

I've had several close encounters with libertarians recently and I have to be honest with you, many of them piss me off as much as, if not more, than religious fundamentalists. There is a fairly popular libertarian niche today that is quite outspoken and very ideologically driven, and it seems to have a lot of young people in their ranks. There are also quite a few atheists who are libertarians and I've been noticing them as I go out into my local atheist/philosophical meetups.

Although I am sympathetic to some of the libertarian social views like marijuana and prostitution legalization, when it comes to economics and government I have some sharp disagreements with them. Many libertarians that I've spoken to either want no government at all, or government so small it can be drowned in a bathtub, to paraphrase Grover Norquist. But mostly, they want a total "free market" economy where government regulation is non-existent, and some even want the total privatization of education, law, police, and the military.

Not all libertarians hold to Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, but many do. She's the ideological darling of many on the Right. Her fan boys include Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who said that her books are "required reading" for his interns. The interesting thing is that Ayn Rand was an outspoken atheist, and it's odd how so many on the Right identify with her, given the Right's close associations with religion. As far as her atheism is concerned, we're on the same page. We both see religion as something irrational and not justified by any good evidence. But Rand's philosophy emphasizes a kind of ethical egoism, whereby she thought that we should never sacrifice anything important to us for the benefit of someone else who was not important to us, like a stranger who was suffering. She thought taxation was theft, but still believed in government doing the three basics: police, law, and military. (This would be financed by voluntary donations according to her.) All the money you make would be yours to keep and there's no concern for any kind of "greater good." Rand's philosophy is a fervent objection to utilitarianism. If fact, recently when I mentioned my concern for the "greater good" when I was debating economics with a libertarian, he literally walked out on me.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Is·lam·o·pho·bi·a — Some Thoughts

I felt like I'm long over due for a blog post about Islamophobia. It's is nooo secret on this blog that I am deeply critical of Islam. I think that Islam is the most dangerous religion in the world today and the greatest religious threat to liberalism and Western Values. This can be thought of two different ways. The first way is that I think the ideology and morality within Islam is more violent than most religions. As far as I can tell, only the Old Testament rivals the Koran in brutality. The second is that I think Muslims today are committing more violence in the name of their religion than any other religion's adherents. And I think this is due, in large part, because the principles of Islam are more violent than most other religions.

When you compare Islam and Christianity for example, when you put the two of them side by side and compare their moral values, I will be totally honest with you, I think Christianity starts looking pretty damn good compared to Islam. (And anyone who knows me or who's read this blog knows I'm not at all a Christian sympathizer). Just about everything bad that Christianity has, Islam also has, and then Islam just adds more bad shit on top of that. And it is in no way "Islamophobic" or "racist" to say say this, or point it out.

It has become a thing now to label all people critical of Islam Islamophobic, or even racist. The racist accusation is obviously nonsense. Islam is a religion and a religion is not a race. There are Muslims of every color around the world. The Islamophobic accusation though, has a racist implication to it. There is, it seems, an implicit assumption that "Islamophobic" can mean the same thing as anti-Asian, or anti-Middle Eastern, or even anti-Muslim. These are often conflated, but they are not the same.

Let's look at a few definitions of Islamophobia. Wikipedia says, "Anti-Islamic sentiment or Islamophobia is a term for prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam, Muslims, or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim." According to UC Berkely's Center for Race & Gender, a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report defined Islamophobia as "unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims." These are two interesting definitions. Wiki's definition focuses more on the religion of Islam, and CR&G's definition focuses more on the followers of Islam. Therein lies an important distinction. Now, I'm not going to fuss over definitions here — that's not the point. The points I want to focus on regard the problems I see with the term Islamophobia and its usage.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Threat from Corporate Greed

My blog is almost entirely devoted towards my atheism and dissent of religion, but it recently occurred to me that although threats from religious zealots do pose a real problem for a free, open and democratic society, perhaps the larger threat is the one posed by the seemingly unstoppable greed of corporations. It is my contention, that corporations for decades have had far too much power and influence in governments, and that they've used this influence to better themselves too often at the expense of people, animals and the environment. It is from corporate greed that we get millions in the third world exploited daily for their cheap labor. It is from corporate greed that we get various toxic elements polluting our environment. It is from corporate greed that we do not have labels on our food indicating their country of origin in the U.S. Corporations will always care more about their bottom line than they will anything else, and this lack of the most basic ethical considerations leads to so much unnecessary harm.

In other words, from an ethical standpoint, corporate entities put profit over people, profit over the environment, profit over everything. Many modern day corporations will stop at absolutely nothing to increase their bottom line, regardless of the long term impacts that they may be causing. It seems to me that the greed driven, no holds-barred approach to capitalism, is like a mild form of insanity. Are we really willing as a society to let our future become jeopardized from the unquenchable greed of the corporatists? Are we willing to let corporate interests dictate government policy from the inside? Are we willing to let energy corporations continue to pollute our Earth so that the polar ice caps melt from global warming? Are we willing to let wage and labor standards diminish in the face of the downward pressure imposed by corporate greed? Are we willing to really sit back and let this happen while a small group of people gets rich off of it? I wonder, how we can call our great nation a democracy anymore when corporations have most if not all of our politicians in their back pocket.

"From an ethical standpoint, corporate entities put profit over people, profit over the environment, profit over everything."

From the point of view of ethics, it seems to me that a small group of very rich people who run corporations, who care only for their own selfish interests, and who continually want more and more and are never satisfied, are deplorable in character. This brings up the whole collectivism versus individualism debate I wrote about. The corporatist is certainly not a utilitarian, nor is he a deontologist. He instead is subscribing to Ayn Rand's objectivism of rational self interest. It is individualism gone crazy. The irony here with my objections to corporate greed, is that many religious leaders in the Catholic church and within Islam, are on the same page as I am. Although my blog is a non-stop rant against religion, that doesn't mean that I disagree entirely with what all religions say. I agree with Islam's prohibition on usury, and Catholic doctrines against excessive self interest, from which greed is a result. I would certainly be willing to work with religious leaders to help put an end to the corporate domination of our entire world.

The current existence of the world's economy is completely unsustainable. We are using up the Earth's finite resources at an alarming rate and producing as a result, ever increasing levels of waste. The sanctity of humanity and the environment is literally at stake here and billions of people either don't care or don't know of the severity of this situation. This is primarily because most people are either working too hard in order to survive, so they can extend their wretched existence a little longer, or they are wrapped up in their own bubbles of pop culture and mindless self indulgence to be bothered. To know and care about this 800 pound gorilla in the room, requires one to think. I can imagine a world in the not too distant future, where giant corporations run the world through shadow governments whom they use to create wars on behalf of their corporate self interests, where they send brainwashed masses to die, who control the media to influence public opinion through a scripted, pseudo reality, and where every stream, drop of water, glaciated tundra and deciduous forest, cannot escape the suffocating ugly hands of a corporation, looking to own and privatize it. Oh wait, that's today.

We need nothing less than a revolution in how we live. If public opinion can sway in my favor, if enough consumers were educated we could bring about the type of change we need to get back on a sustainable future. It will be going up against man's natural tendency for short term happiness and greed, and this is no easy task. I don't have kids, so after I die, I have no personal vested interests in the fate of humanity centuries from now. But many of the corporatists in charge of the rape and pillage of the Earth's finite resources and the abuse of the labor used to turn them into products do have kids, and I wonder where or what they think they will do when the shit hits the fan and we deplete what the Earth can provide us because we hesitated making realistic steps towards renewable resources. Will they use their wealth to build lavish underground bunkers or floating cities while the rest of us turn to savagery on what little habitable land is left? Who knows.

Our entire monetary system is a gigantic ponzi scheme, perhaps the largest ever created. Our money is printed out of thin air by the private Federal Reserve and loaned to the U.S. Government, to be payed back with interest. Since the U.S. Government can't make its own money, this means that the only way the U.S. can pay down this debt is by borrowing more money from the Federal Reserve. And so our entire economy is built upon and endless cycle of debt that is completely unsustainable. The abolishment of the Federal Reserve is paramount to the first step towards a sustainable economy.

Campaign finance reform, though much talked about, is the only way to get most of the money from corporate special interests out of Washington. We also need real ethics in practice in the business world. There was a time when many more corporations were known for treating and paying their workers fairly with decent livable salaries and benefits. This grew and nurtured our middle class. Over the decades this has gone by the wayside as greed lead many corporations to reduce or freeze worker's wages and benefits, or move jobs overseas to cheap labor markets. There was a time when CEOs cared about their workers because they knew they were all part of an extended family. This kept many communities alive for generations. We must put an end to the exploitation of cheap labor because it is abusive and unethical.

The only thing that can truly be done is if enough leaders in the corporate world come to their senses, realize the detriment their enterprises are having on the world, and care enough about it to sacrifice some of their increasing wealth to turn the tide back. CEOs must turn profit for the corporations they run or else they will be removed by the board of directors. This means that the whole system must be changed. Society at large must have a mindset free of the extremes of greed through the a deeper moral understanding of its consequences and its motives. Critical thinking and ethics should be taught in every public school, as well as a solid financial education. But greedy corporations running Washington will never allow it. This influence must be broken.


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