RANDISM IN ONE AFTERNOON
or OBJECTIVISM FOR DUMMIES
Before we can discuss Randism. we must first know two things.
If it is a philosophical system, then it is governed by the rules of philosophy. Therefore it divides up in the philosophical manner. that means METAPHYSICS (How does the world as a whole work?), EPISTEMOLOGY (what do I know and how do I know it?), ETHICS (How do I tell good from evil and do the moral calculus?), POLITICS What is the proper way to govern ourselves?) and ESTHETICS (what is the proper role and presentation of art?). This set of characteristics, called "branches of philosphy" was not created by Miss Rand or myself but is standard fare in any classical study of the subject of Philosphy. In some cases there are sub-categories that usually function as corollaries or givens, usually meaning verified by looking about (fancy term "empirically" and usually refers to one of the Special Sciences: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology. Something that is empirically determined is, to philosophy and irreducible primary.
- That it is a philosopnical system, which was explained elsewhere
- Its specific identity. That means the characteristics that make it unique and a statement of the basics thereof.
The second question is answered thusly; and this is the definition I will use from now on. Before doing that, I will give you the precursor: "OBJECTIVISM: The philosophy of Ayn Rand" described by her as "A philosophy for living on Earth". one of the major characteristics of which is Aristotelianism.
RANDISM: the philosopical system., proposed by Ayn Rand, which holds that existence, the external world, exists apart from and before anyone's data, information, knowledge, judgements, wishes or feelings and the only proper means of knowing anything about this world is the faculty of Reaosn, which integrates the material provided by the senses or instruments, by means of the logical process, into a non-contradictory, systematic, organized whole.
We have a map or in the intellectual terminology "schema" related to the term "scheme" as it is used in football and very effectively by Bill Bellicek and Bill Parcells. The idea is to drop Randism onto this map and see how it breaks and where the pieces end up.
Now the specifics of the following are from a number of places; the 1969-84 weekly MIT/Harvard/Boston University Objectivist/libertarian newsletter Ergo that I first came across in 1972 and subscribed to until the last issue. It was the major soruce for me of Objectivism in action. The other source is the Ayn Rand Institue's presentation of Objectivism from about 4 years back. Finally some of my own thinking gets involved here.
Now it is time to put this whole mess in the frying pan, turn on the gas, stir it up and see what comes out:
Thses are the defining precepts, key to any discussion of Randism and the Randite modus operandi. That is becuase they are the irreducible primaries of the philosophical system: How it works. That without which there is no Randism and the violation of which permanantly, unless adressed specifically and corrected, ends one's valid claim to anything resmebling the philosophical sytem of Ayn Rand. And why I broke with mainsteam Objectivism over the Iraq war (as presented in the mid-March '03 issue of The Intellectual Activist they bought into; and were bought by, a causus belli that was not proven, was suspected at the time of, and has been demostrated to be a lie). All the rest is derived of these two emprically generated postulates. Now back to our story:
- METAPHYSICS: the world, that is, existence, esits apart from and before our knowledge, information, thoughts, wishes or feelings.
pertaining to Man:
- Definition: Man is the terrestrial mammal defined by the presence of a volitional rational consciousness. This means that the uniquely human characteristic is an awareness that is governed by abstract reasoning and this must be told to operate. This is a refinement of Aristotle's "Man is the Rational Animal" as was used by Ayn Rand in the foundation of Objectivism.
- the only choice open to a person is to activate and focus this faculty or not
- EPISTEMOLOLGY: The sole and only preoper tool of knowledge is the faculty of reason, which operates by the process and rulesof logic.
- Definition: Reason The faculty that integrates the material provided empirically into a non-contradictory, organized, systematic and hierarchical frame of reference and updtates that as the need makes itself known
- Operation: Logic; the art of applying rules of thought to the emprical or abstract material to create a coherent whole that corresponds to and reflects the way the external world works
Now you have Randism. All else that Rand wrote on the matter, or others who had her blessing, was derived, explanatory or demonstrative with respect to the above. As such, the above constitutes the identity of Randism My own part is that I gleaned what I could from reading the non-fiction of Ayn Rand and her associates in the following material: the Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, The Romanitc Manifesto, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution Revised and Reissued as The Returne of the Primitive, as well as having been a subscriber to The Objectivist and the Ayn Rand Letter as well as having a bound volume of all volumes of the Objectivist Newletter. My pedigree reacehs back to 1968 but I am cognizant all the way back to 1962. I am also familiar with the Personal Notes of Ayn Rand and a couple of the post-mortem compilations of her work and a 12 year subscription to the Intellectual Activist (1980-92), to which I give mixed reviews. Some articles were very good and some were pretty bad in terms of content (especially the anti-Reagan ones). At any rate, if you read this material in order, you now have a basic understanding of Randism. You still need to read the material that I mentioned to be read if you wish to have more than the identification of the philosophical system. This is also the basis upon which the material that I present in Articles, the lettercolumn (if there is to be one) and such other material that is published under this website is premised.
- ETHICS: Because Man does not live by simple brute strength, but must put effort into survival, the person who acts is the rightful sole benefiary of his actions. That is, one is not the means to the ends of others nor are others rightfully the means to his own ends: A person is an end in himself. One has no automatic, unconditional or overall moral claim to the actions or the products of the actions of another (one may acquire such by virtue of interaction and the expectations based on the identity of those interactions, such as colegiality, association, business, citizenship or integrity but these are conditions). This is the classical concept of Egoism.
- POLITICS: Given the above. The proper functionof government is to prohibit the initation of force or fraud without doing either. The only rights are individual rights and are those of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
- The "right" to things, like medical care, a "living" wage, housing, or a job do not and cannot exist. There is no "consumer rights" since consumption depends on production.
- The only economic expression of this system (political economics) is laissez-faire capitalism, which is the total separation of economy and State as in, and for the same reasons as, the total separation of religion and state (when the Christo-Fascists, usually Republicans, tell you they want to " put God in government" thus being the "party of God" remember in Arabic that is "Hezb-Allah: Sound familiar? Exactly and is profoundly anti-conservative), or in the largest context. State and Conscience. And it is only in this context that capitalism exists. anything else is a mixed economy: Where the government favors business is Mercantilism and where it claims the right to intefere in the ordinary workings of business, that is Fascism and where it exerts a claim on the product or a portion thereof is Socialism, which, in the extreme, holds that the government have total "ownership" of the means of production, education and publication, a specific type of Welfare Statism and all of which are one or another form of Statism. Would it come as a shock to you to learn that the "Laissez nous Faire!" that defines laissez-faire capitalism was not a rejection of government interference but of government help? I origianlly used "proper" in the frist part of this but removed it. Capitalism follows from Liberty not by choice but by nature. it cannot be avoided, evaded, modified or changed in any way or degree without destroying the system as a whole. With respect to Randism; capitalism is nto an option, it is the only possible outcome.
- ESTHETICS: The proper function of art is to present a comprehnesible view of the world and Man's place in it. with Man being presented as fit to, and worthy of, living; called "heroic".
At any rate, you have from here what you need to get the basic ideas of the Randite philosophical system.