Quotes to Ponder

“Fascism and communism are not two opposites, but two rival gangs fighting over the same territory . . . both are variants of statism, based on the collectivist principle that man is the rightless slave of the state.”
– Ayn Rand, from her article ‘“Extremism,” or The Art of Smearing

 

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Envy – A Seed of Statism

Envy: Hatred of the Good for Being the Good.

This video is so relevant to today’s world that is has to be shared. The impact is so convincing that it is creepy. Do you envy the good for being the good?

Also see

Envy – Hatred of the Good for Being the Good, and

The Age of Envy – Interview with Ayn Rand

The Seed of Envy starts with each of us as individuals. Therefore, we must each first change ourselves fundamentally as individuals to root the evil of envy out of our psyche and our being. Learn to love individual freedom, individual achievement. Learn to love Capitalism.

 

Starting with Fundamentals

By John E. Dick © 2017

In truly understanding any concept, especially the more complicated concepts such as Capitalism or Statism (and how they are actually applied in the world), one must start with the fundamentals that are essential to that concept. In this regard, I wish to share an insightful blog article by Dr. Jerry Kirkpatrick regarding the fundamentals of statism, and why statism continues to attract followers and power-lusting-hungry political thugs and despots. At the start, he acknowledges the originator of the idea exposing the true fundamental that drives statism: “The answer is still Ayn Rand’s.

Quoting further from Dr. Kirkpatrick’s article: “Why does statism continue to thrive? Continued support of the doctrine of self-sacrifice and hesitancy, or outright refusal to defend a morality of self-interest… Capitalism and the free society rest on and require a foundation of rational egoism. Altruism and its statist political manifestations are acts of enslavement and destruction.” [emphasis added]

Please take a moment to read The Meaning of Sacrifice and the Staying Power of Statism by Dr. Kirkpatrick.

Like the structure of my blog here, after reading this article, you – personally – will have to make the decision that it is either essential to accept and support the idea that it is moral that all men and women, individually, must be able to live in individual freedom with individual rights, including property rights, and to live individual lives of self-interests (whether you like those interests or not), and that these rights and freedoms must be protected, OR you support the idea that it is morally okay to force enslavement to the state upon your fellow man, neighbor, countrymen, and any other individual, and force them to live in a world of altruism and self-sacrifice.

It is either living in a world of rational egoism and self-interest, a world of peace and prosperity, i.e., Capitalism, or it is living in a world of forced altruism and self-sacrifice, a world of chaos and destruction, i.e., Statism.

Self-interest versus Self-sacrifice. Capitalism versus Statism. Freedom versus Force. These are the fundamental choices, individually and politically, that we must all make.

 

Thanksgiving Lessons

© 2017 John Dick

The Thanksgiving Holiday has always been a favorite time of year for me. Most harvesting is over, the leaves on trees have turned full color, the air is cool and crisp, most people look forward to both preparing and eating a wonderful meal feast either at home or elsewhere, with friends and family, and melodic Christmas music begins to appear everywhere. And, for many, it is a great time for relaxation and vacation.

Yet, and “thankfully” for all of us, Thanksgiving (including the Christmas Holidays) also means a great boom for many businesses and their employees, a time of great prosperity and profit – profit to keep these businesses going, surviving, and employing millions of individuals throughout the following year. As a capitalist myself, Thanksgiving has also been a time when I give thanks to all those millions of individuals who have the great courage to start businesses and exerting the effort to keep them going whatever their trade may be.

Thanksgiving is also a good opportunity to learn poignant and essential lessons about the importance of private property, and to educate ourselves in understanding how a capitalist social system really works in favor of us all. In that spirit, I wish to share two recent and timely published articles, one by economist Walter E. Williams, another by commentator John Stossel. Enjoy!

“Ignorance Versus Stupidity” by Walter E. Williams

“Thankful for Property” by John Stossel

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! –JD

 

“Atlas Shrugged” and Psychology, Part 2

By John Dick © 2017

Recently, regarding my last pondering post “Atlas Shrugged, Psychology, and 60 Years,” someone asked me that while the literary and fictional psychological examples from Atlas Shrugged are very poignant, what about real life, especially in the contemporary United States?

If you need current proof of taking our psychologies with us throughout life, individually or in totality as a country, and what the consequences can be, one need look no further than most of the Hollywood, media, political, and educational arenas, where many of these individuals clearly have not moved beyond the emotional and psychological states of most teenagers; where they were, and are still, taught that emotions have equal standing with reason and facts in understanding the world and events. In fact, they are taught that emotions have greater value than reason, logic, facts, and science.

There are thousands of “emotionally driven” examples of untruths and bias from the above mentioned arenas: the Hollywood crowd and their films (The Day After Tomorrow or Deepwater Horizon); the media with its biased, twisted editorialized or fake news (no fact checking, anonymous sources, or lying by newsman Brian Williams at NBC); our politicians with their collective-statist thinking and central-government “protective” overreach and control into our lives with oppressive taxes, irrational laws (drug or gun control), and regulations (EPA); and worst of all, our totally corrupted public school systems turning out thousands of emotional toadies ready to march at any irrational order (Antifa) while spending millions on extravagant architectural monuments.

But, these particular societal areas including progressives and the political left, are not the only current cultural segments affected. I dare say that much of the political right and most religious people also fall into this category of favoring emotion and feelings over reason and facts, and also act accordingly, focusing on their own agendas, religious ideas, fears, and biases (such as anti-abortion, the wars on drugs and poverty, or faith-based public education).

Either way, acting on emotion over reason accounts for most of the violations and intrusions on individual lives, individual rights and freedoms, including property rights, from both the left and right ideological sides, and the economic and cultural mess that the United States finds itself in today.

If your emotions and feelings override reason and logic, then any number of horrible destructions and persecutions are possible against free individuals, and then rationalized, based on your “feelings,” to drive your personal and political agendas for the expedient moment, or because you “feel” it is the “right thing to do.”

Thus, besides all the irrational crap we are forced to deal with daily in the United States, we could easily end up in a tyranny such as an Environmental (Climate Change) Dictatorship or a Theocracy of sorts. I also dare say that if Americans do not eventually discover the intellectual, moral, and psychological fortitude and courage to choose reason and facts, over their out-of-control emotions and feelings, then we could easily face another type of horror: an Islamic Overrule of America.

All because we chose to value emotion over reason, feelings over facts, and force over freedom.

I quote Ayn Rand regarding her novel Atlas Shrugged: “Atlas Shrugged is not a prophecy of our unavoidable destruction, but a manifesto of our power to avoid it, if we choose to change our course.”

If we choose to change our course. Individual volition exercised by millions of individuals. But, we must first choose to value reason, facts, and individual freedom to change our course.

 

“Atlas Shrugged,” Psychology, and 60 Years

By John E. Dick © 2017

Atlas Shrugged, by novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, turns 60 years old this year, 2017, published so many years ago in 1957. I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time 40 years ago as a very young man, just out of my teens. As with so many others who have read it, the impact of its story and ideas changed my life forever.

While most acknowledgments of the impact of Atlas Shrugged focus on the philosophical and intellectual components, agreeably both fundamental and essential in the story, I would like to, nonetheless, point out the great impact of the psychological elements of Atlas Shrugged.

The human being is an integrated being of reason and emotion, but fundamental to our basic nature as individual living entities is that unique quality known as volition (or free will). The emotional component of any individual acts like a barometer, making us aware that something seems good or bad. However, since this “barometer” is only a reaction, and could be right or wrong, we require as individuals that our emotions be understood and guided by reason, that is, by rational and logical thought.

But, the use of rational thought is directed by volition, as a choice: volition is part of our basic nature, but we must choose to be rational or irrational, to face facts or avoid them, to understand our emotions or ignore them.

Yes, some unfortunate human beings can have certain physical or medical conditions that may hamper and limit the use of their volition, but I think most human beings exist in a normal state capable of exercising their free will. It’s just that many individuals choose not be rational, and so their emotions take center stage. This choice affects our psychology. Also, the fundamental concepts and ideas we each hold as individuals drive and affect our psychology.

I am by no means an expert in psychological or mental studies and professions, but one cannot ignore the fact that Ayn Rand understood, with amazing clarity, the impact and relationship of ideas and psychology in creating and developing the characters in her novels. Yes, incorporating “consistent character psychological development” is essential for any serious and good writer, and there are other authors who do achieve this, both in heroes and villains.

However, I think Ayn Rand goes a step further in showing how volition and ideas drive psychological elements in her characters, with equal attention paid to psychological developments as she does with intellectual and philosophical ones. Her development and inclusion of the psychological part is brilliant and genius. Here are but a few examples, both positive and negative (I include one from Rand’s novel The Fountainhead) with my observations:

  1. From Atlas Shrugged: “The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt.” (Part Two, Chapter Nine) Even the title of one of the book’s chapters reflects emotional states, that is, psychological states. By the end of the novel, we discover which ideas create such a look, that is, such a “psychological portrait,” and which ideas do not. Another reference to this “portrait” occurs when the heroine, Dagny Taggart, crashes her plane in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains, and she survives yet is injured and dazed (Part Three, beginning of Chapter One). Not being totally conscious of her surroundings, Dagny opens her eyes to see the face of the stranger who finds and rescues her, and her first thought is “But of course.” I quote, “She was looking up at the face of a man who knelt by her side, and she knew that in all the years behind her, this is what she would have given her life to see: a face that bore no mark of pain or fear or quilt.” Not aware of herself, yet remembering all the ugly and senseless struggles she’d had to endure over the past years, Dagny whispered to this stranger, “We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?” The stranger replied “No, we never had to.”
  2. From Atlas Shrugged: “The Room” at John Galt’s house in Mulligan’s Valley (Part Three, end of Chapter One). This is the room that all strikers must stay their first nights in order to be ready for Mulligan’s Valley. The room represents that particular psychological breaking and separating point for all strikers from their past. I quote John Galt: “This is the room where they spent their first night in the valley. The first night is the hardest. It’s the last pull of the break with one’s memories, and the worst. I let them stay here, so they can call for me, if they want me. I speak to them, if they cannot sleep. Most of them can’t. But they’re free of it by morning…. They’ve all gone through this room. Now they call it the torture chamber or the anteroom – because everyone has to enter the valley through my house.”
  3. From Atlas Shrugged: The total mental breakdown of the villain character James Taggart (Part Three, Chapter Nine). Because of his continuous and purposeful avoidance of reality and the consequences that follow, James Taggart has a massive and complete psychological breakdown during the event where the hero, John Galt, is captured and tortured. Taggart wants to break Galt, even kill him. But Taggart also realizes that Galt’s death will mean his own death. Taggart’s mental capacity to handle even the simplest of cognitive functions is completely wiped out. He has to be dragged away by his fellow villains, they fearing to be close to Taggart’s mental demise themselves.
  4. From The Fountainhead: “The courage to face a lifetime,” (Part Four, Chapter One). Architect Howard Roark meets a young man on a bike at one of Roark’s building projects. Roark does not know the man, and unaware to Roark, the young man has a passion to compose music. When the man sees Roark’s architecture and stops to ask Roark who built these buildings, Roark replies “I did,” and the man says “Thank you.” Roark had no idea he had just given this young man “the courage to face a lifetime,” for if Roark survived to build this architecture, then this man could also survive his life to compose music his way. This is a very personal and crucial psychological launching point for the young man. Courage is a very complex psychological state, and it can involve a mix of all kinds of emotions and ideas: competence, love, passion, drive, loss, fear, anger, one’s convictions, etc. And, the psychological and emotional courage necessary to follow your dreams for a lifetime is supreme.

This is just a touch of the rich psychological elements in Ayn Rand’s writings. There are dozens of examples, both in her heroes and villains. As with good fiction, so in real life. No matter how wise a sage we may become, or how far we may take our intellect, or the level of expertise or celebrity we may rise to, we also take our psychology with us on the journey – all the way, to the end. We have no choice in the matter. But, what we decide to do, or not do, with our individual intellect and psychology along the way is a choice, and counts in the end. Ayn Rand understood this explicitly.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Atlas Shrugged.

–P.S. For an insightful article on how psychology affects social structure, please see Dr. Edith Packer’s The Psychological Requirements of a Free Society, found here in pamphlet form: http://www.capitalism.net/edith.htm. I highly recommend reading it. –JD

Statist Masters Then and Now

Recently, novelist Gen LaGreca gave a very insightful and thought provoking talk at an Americans for Prosperity event that focused on two topics. First, presenting the development, research, and writing of her novel A Dream of Daring, and second, how this research presented an opportunity to show the disturbing parallels of how the statist and collectivist ideas of controlling plantation masters of the past have once again crept into our present-day life enslaving us instead through government control and intrusion. I highly encourage anyone interested in defending freedom and capitalism to view this wonderful video.

For more information on Ms. LaGreca’s novels and writings, visit both her publishing label Winged Victory Press and her blog, Author Gen LaGreca’s Blog. –JD