Friday, November 6, 2009

Why justifying Capitalism on religious grounds fails - Part C

This is part of a great article by Ayn Rand: “Conservatism: An Obituary,” from the book: "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal".




There are three interrelated arguments used by today’s “conservatives” to justify capitalism, which can best be designated as: the argument from faith—the argument from tradition—the argument from depravity.

Sensing their need of a moral base, many “conservatives” decided to choose religion as their moral justification; they claim that America and capitalism are based on faith in God. Politically, such a claim contradicts the fundamental principles of the United States: in America, religion is a private matter which cannot and must not be brought into political issues.

Intellectually, to rest one’s case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one’s enemies—that one has no rational arguments to offer. The “conservatives’” claim that their case rests on faith, means that there are no rational arguments to support the American system, no rational justification for freedom, justice, property, individual rights, that these rest on a mystic revelation and can be accepted only on faith—that in reason and logic the enemy is right, but men must hold faith as superior to reason.

Consider the implications of that theory. While the communists claim that they are the representatives of reason and science, the “conservatives” concede it and retreat into the realm of mysticism, of faith, of the supernatural, into another world, surrendering this world to communism. It is the kind of victory that the communists’ irrational ideology could never have won on its own merits . . . .

Now consider the second argument: the attempt to justify capitalism on the ground of tradition. Certain groups are trying to switch the word “conservative” into the exact opposite of its modern American usage, to switch it back to its nineteenth-century meaning, and to put this over on the public. These groups declare that to be a “conservative” means to uphold the status quo, the given, the established, regardless of what it might be, regardless of whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, defensible or indefensible. They declare that we must defend the American political system not because it is right, but because our ancestors chose it, not because it is good, but because it is old . . . .

The argument that we must respect “tradition” as such, respect it merely because it is a “tradition,” means that we must accept the values other men have chosen, merely because other men have chosen them—with the necessary implication of: who are we to change them? The affront to a man’s self-esteem, in such an argument, and the profound contempt for man’s nature are obvious.

This leads us to the third—and the worst—argument, used by some “conservatives”: the attempt to defend capitalism on the ground of man’s depravity.

This argument runs as follows: since men are weak, fallible, non-omniscient and innately depraved, no man may be entrusted with the responsibility of being a dictator and of ruling everybody else; therefore, a free society is the proper way of life for imperfect creatures. Please grasp fully the implications of this argument: since men are depraved, they are not good enough for a dictatorship; freedom is all that they deserve; if they were perfect, they would be worthy of a totalitarian state.

Dictatorship—this theory asserts—believe it or not, is the result of faith in man and in man’s goodness; if people believed that man is depraved by nature, they would not entrust a dictator with power. This means that a belief in human depravity protects human freedom—that it is wrong to enslave the depraved, but would be right to enslave the virtuous. And more: dictatorships—this theory declares—and all the other disasters of the modern world are man’s punishment for the sin of relying on his intellect and of attempting to improve his life on earth by seeking to devise a perfect political system and to establish a rational society. This means that humility, passivity, lethargic resignation and a belief in Original Sin are the bulwarks of capitalism. One could not go farther than this in historical, political, and psychological ignorance or subversion. This is truly the voice of the Dark Ages rising again—in the midst of our industrial civilization.

The cynical, man-hating advocates of this theory sneer at all ideals, scoff at all human aspirations and deride all attempts to improve men’s existence. “You can’t change human nature,” is their stock answer to the socialists. Thus they concede that socialism is the ideal, but human nature is unworthy of it; after which, they invite men to crusade for capitalism—a crusade one would have to start by spitting in one’s own face. Who will fight and die to defend his status as a miserable sinner? If, as a result of such theories, people become contemptuous of “conservatism,” do not wonder and do not ascribe it to the cleverness of the socialists.

(Taken from The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why justifying Capitalism on religious grounds fails - Addition

This is a video by Yaron Brook, answering the question: "If Altruism and Christian ethics of altruism undercut the defense of Capitalism, how is it possible that the founding fathers, which were responsible for the birth of Capitalism, came up with the declaration of independence?"



To hear the rest of the questions following this lecture, start from Question 1 and follow the links to the follow-up videos.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So called: "Pro-life"

I don't know when I heard a bigger piece of crap wrapped in such a nice envelope.

There is nothing "pro-life" about those who seek to prohibit abortion. There is nothing pro-life about destroying the life and liberty of women for the sake of a collection of some cells.

"Destroying life? what is life-destroying about being forced to have a baby?"

Being forced into anything is life-destroying in varying degrees. But having a baby is a life changing decision. It has implications for the parent's entire life. A baby takes resources to raise: time-wise, emotional and financial. It DOES change the whole course of life for a woman or a couple. The so called "pro-life" do not seem to care about that. To them life means; the metabolism of a few cells, not something insignificant like an individual's actual life, happiness and goals.

Life is holy, and what does that mean? That women be treated as breeding cows. The sanctity of life is wonderful... which is why we need to load women on wagons, chain them to a metal bar at a factory and bring males to impregnate them. Done with one? Off to the second one!
Why not? "Pro-life" people think they have a right to dictate to a woman what she should do with her body and life. Why not take the sanctity of life to the next stage?


I have no words to describe how disgusted I am with the use of the words "pro-life" for such deep a disrespect for human beings.


Anti-abortionists often use the image of an embryo put into a blender. "What a horrible thing to do to an innocent baby" they say. "You're a murderer!".
How do you like the image of women brought in the herds to breed new humans?


One who does not value and respect the life of an adult cannot claim to value the life of a potential human being.

Call your irrational, conformity-minded, religious-dogma, feeling-driven ideas of yours by what they are. Don't call it "pro-life".

Friday, October 23, 2009

Some useful tiny tips

These are some tricks I've discovered to get some things to work better:

  1. When you want to get the content of a bottle (like a Ketchup bottle), don't shake it up and down. First, place it horizontally and shake it up and down: this will make the sauce fall on one side of the bottle, and then place it vertically and shake it up and down. The sauce will slide down better and you will get out more of it and faster.

  2. Don't you hate it when the end part of the belt sticks out in the air, with nothing to pin it down to the pants (or the belt)? Many times those loops in the belt or pants are not located in the right place to catch that end of the belt. It is even worse with a dress which has no belt-loops at all.
    So here is my solution: Take a rubber band women use to tie their hair (a small thin one, in the same color as the belt; not red and bulky). Make a double loop of it if necessary to make it wrap tightly around the belt, and slide it onto the belt. You can easily move it anywhere on the belt and use it to pin down the edge of the belt. Flawless finish. :D

  3. Vacuum cleaner? Forget it. Get an iRobot vacuum cleaner. They perform better than a normal vacuum cleaner and vacuum on their own.

  4. This one is probably well known, but it is useful so I'll write it just in case.
    Opening a jar: The problem with those jars is that they are closed with vacuum. This creates a force that pulls the top onto the jar. It gets worse when the jar is cooled down since the air pressure inside the bottle drops even more, making the vacuum effect stronger.
    Solution: Create an opening for air to go into the jar. Slide a thin yet strong knife (or metal object) under the side of the lid, and slightly push the knife into the jar (or push the edge of the top to the side, away from the jar) to create an opening. This will let air in, cancel the vacuum and allow you to open the jar without any effort.

That is all. I'd be happy to get a feedback from you if you've tried it, or if you have similar useful tips.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Atheism and skepticism - Are the two connected?

No. Not for one who uses a correct thinking method.

Skepticism is the approach of doubting every single thing available to one's mind and senses.

Using it leads not to knowledge but to the destruction of knowledge. It leads one to become helpless in having certainty even in the existence of something as concrete a wall.

If a full skeptic does not believe in god, it is not the grace of any rational thought, but simply one more instance of doubting. A full skeptic equally doubts the existence of god and the existence of planet earth.

Knowledge is gained by collecting evidence based on observations of reality, forming generalizations, concepts and conclusions based on what one observes. It is a positive process of building one's knowledge, not a negative destruction of it.

You might ask: Isn't it important to be critical in one's thinking? Yes, but using critical thinking and being skeptic are not the same.

Critical thinking is merely a cautious, careful thinking on a topic - to make sure one's conclusions and knowledge are non-contradictory.
It is not the same as skepticism, which means to doubt all the knowledge one has.

If one uses logic and a positive process of collecting evidence, Atheism follows simply because there is no evidence pointing at the existence of god. There is nothing to doubt or reject since one does not form such a conclusion to begin with.

So in conclusion skepticism is not the proper method on which Atheism is reached. Logic is.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

How does statism grow?

"The crucial and basic political issue of our age is: capitalism versus socialism, or freedom versus statism. For decades, this issue has been silenced, suppressed, evaded and hidden under the foggy, undefined rubber-terms of "conservatism" and "liberalism" which have lost their original meaning and could be stretched to mean all things to all men.

The goal of the "liberals" - as it emerges from the record of the past decades - was to smuggle this country into welfare statism by means of single, concrete, specific measures, enlarging the power of the government a step at a time, never permitting these steps to be summed up into principles, never permitting their direction to be identified or the basic issue to be named. Thus statism was to come, not by vote or by violence, but by slow rot - a long process of evasion and epistemological corruption, leading to a fait accompli".

(fait accompli: an irreversible accomplishment)

-- Ayn Rand, Capitalism, the unknown ideal (article: Extremism: The art of smearing).

Friday, October 2, 2009

My (angry) letter to Glenn Beck

Recently, Glenn Beck has been blaming gang violence and what is "wrong with this nation" on Atheism, or lack of belief in god and religious ethics.

As an Atheist who is civilized, pro human life and would never do anything remotely similar to what those brutal kids did in the video he was talking about, I was enraged by his accusation that that kind of behavior is to be blamed on Atheism.

Granted, Glenn Beck is a good man, and I believe he sincerely thinks that ethics and rights are impossible unless they come from god (as seen in this video).

However, I will not sit here quietly while he is destroying what I care for, knowingly or unknowingly (in his case it is the second).

I hope you do the same by following my example and send Glenn Beck a letter letting him know what you think.

My letter is below.



____________________________________________________

Hello Glenn,


I am a regular viewer of your show and greatly admire the work you are doing. But today you said something very disturbing and deeply offensive to me and to all other atheists.

Does being an atheist mean being like the savage brutes in that video who do not value human life?

Is it the case that because I take reason and logic as absolutes that I am incapable of acting civilized?

I find the equation of morality with faith in god highly offensive.

You have had Yaron Brook appear on your show several times - as you know he is an atheist and at the same time he is also a passionate advocate of individual rights and the value of human life.
How would you explain his civility given that he does not believe in god?
Why is it that you blame brutality on atheism but do not grant Yaron Brook's morality to atheism?

The result of what you said is that from now on, everyone who will look at me and know I do not believe in god will be able to tell me that I am no good, immoral, and not worth listening to, because I "represent everything that is wrong in this country".

I am offended and angry, and I hope you would take what you said back and acknowledge that morality does not necessarily have to be based on a belief in god.


That said, I am still grateful to you for the wonderful work you are doing and your honesty.

Sincerely,

Ifat Glassman

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why justifying Capitalism on religious grounds fails (and how to actually justify it)

Capitalism is based on the recognition of man's right to live for his own sake - to be the beneficiary of his own actions.

Jesus was the most extreme example of altruism you would ever see, the exact opposite of self-interest: He sacrificed his life so that sinners may live. The message it sends is "The moral is to live for others".

Every political system is based on ethics. Capitalism is based on rational-self interest. Socialism, communism and fascism are based on altruism, which is the message of Christianity.
Socialism is justified on the grounds of the moral duty of one man to care for another. Capitalism is based on the idea that a man lives primarily for himself, and that he is moral in pursuing HIS life and HIS happiness.

Let us not forget what was going on during the dark ages and what kind of actions were justified by the church.
This is because the message of the bible is inconclusive. One can mold it to whatever fits one's goals.
It is not a coincidence that 5 Rabies reading the bible cannot agree on the interpretation of a single paragraph. It's not that some of them are wrong and one is right - it is that the bible is inherently unclear in meaning and can be interpreted one way or another.


The real defense of Capitalism is reality-based. Facts-based.

We start by looking at the requirements of life for an individual man, the principles and values required for him to live and be happy (which is a successful state of living).
We recognize that man must act to bring and create the things he requires to survive and enjoy his life.

Capitalism is the system that allows a man, every individual, to be free to pursue his life and happiness as would be on a desert island: productivity uninterrupted by other men.
It is only by allowing every individual man this basic requirement for life that a political system actually serves man's life.

One cannot start by asking what is good for a group of people. Such question only makes sense if the intent is to talk about what is good for every individual man in the group. But then that reduces the question back to what is good for a single man.

One cannot claim, that by stealing from one man and giving it to another in the group that one is serving the "good of the group". Why is the good of the group the good of one man, but not of the other?
Yet the good of the "group" is the standard most use to judge political systems.

The only defense of Capitalism that "works" - because it is the real basis for Capitalism, is reality; rational ethics recognizing the requirements of life of a single human being.

Look at reality, not at the "word of god".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Does he really deserve that salary?" - Faulty concept of "deserving"

"Do you really deserve to live?"

-- How is it my business to decide, right?
Anyone who would ponder about this question seriously, as if what they had to say on the subject was to justly be executed in reality would be considered a despicable freak in our society.
Yet we don't seem to have the same approach to money. "Do you really deserve the money that you have?" "Do you really deserve such a nice apartment?"

Now if I were Santa Claus considering how many gifts to bring you this year, this question might have made sense. But as a human being that has no involvement in your life - it does not.

So what is the error in these sort of questions? why do they seem plausible on one hand, yet non-sensible on the other?

The answer is a mis-generalization of the concept of "deserving".

Let's get down to the root of what it means to "deserve".

Let us observe the following: to "deserve" means an interaction between at least 2 people. If one man deserves something, he always deserves it from someone else. Mother nature cannot consider if someone "deserves" something, it does not decide to give you things. You cannot "deserve" an apple from an apple tree. So "deserve" only makes sense as an interaction between two or more people.

One cannot "deserve" something from no other man, but simply to "deserve" it. I cannot "deserve" a new computer, healthcare or a car from no entity, but just to "deserve" it. What would such thing even mean?
When you tell your boss you deserve a raise, it has the practical use of having more money in your bank account.
When you say that you "deserve" a car to thin air, it has no practical meaning or consequence.
One might say, as a joke, "Damn it, I deserve to have this machine working" after hours of time and effort trying to fix it - but all it is, is a joke. The machine, the air, cannot grant you anything. An apple tree is not just or generous by growing apples for you to eat - it is simply an apple tree doing what apple trees do.


Next observe that the two (or more) people must indeed interact for 'deserving' to make sense. I cannot possibly deserve the meal an Eskimo from Antarctica is cooking at the moment, half way across the world. I might deserve it if I were the one catching the fish he is cooking.

Sometimes a man deserves to serve time in prison - it appears to be a one man situation, but in fact it is not. What is hidden behind the scenes is the society in which this man lives. This man deserves the retribution he is given from other people in his society for whatever it is he has done. They may not be the ones to physically give it to him, but the ones they have delegated to do it do so in their name.


To summarize: "deserve" implies deserving from someone, and someone with which you interact over the product in question.


"Deserve" also implies that you did something to earn whatever you "deserve", and that whatever you did benefited someone else from whom you deserve something.
(Unless you deserve to be punished by them, in which case you still acted to earn a negative payback).

But in any case You either "do the crime and pay the time", or "pay the bill and get to chill".

When you hear someone saying that they deserve healthcare, or deserve a house, simply by being born, they are using a wrong concept of what it means to "deserve".
they want to deserve from no one in particular, deserve without being involved with anyone else, and deserve without "paying the bill".

What makes the difference between deserving healthcare from your insurance company, vs. "deserving" it from society (AKA "the government"):
In the insurance company, you do something to earn it from them, benefiting them by paying for your policy. You deserve medical treatment to the extent that you paid for what was agreed in your contract. "Deserving" is a trade.

"Deserving" medical treatment "from society", however, involves no trade. One is paying no price, there is no need to earn and no benefit in exchange for the service. It involves no agreement. In fact it involves only a single person, which was born into reality butt naked, "deserving" something from "the world" ("a god given right").

Notice in how many ways this concept of "deserve" is breaking the actual meaning of what it is to "deserve".


What about people who question whether some people deserve their high salaries?
Those people mis-use the concept "deserve" as well. How do they go about judging what salary those people deserve?
To the company owner, the standard is clear: The contribution the worker has for the success of the company (leaving aside other factors like the budget). But how can someone outside the company decide if an employee deserves his money?

One might, as a hypothetical, put oneself in the shoes of the company owner and consider the contribution of the worker vs. his salary - but realizing that this is only possible as an opinion on what should the worker deserve from the company owner (not from them, because it's not their money to give).

What they actually try to judge, however, is what the worker deserves from them, or from society, or from reality. "How much does a human being deserve to have?".
As you can see, they are using an empty concept. Its only appearance of a meaning is stolen from the legitimate concept of "deserving".
But they try to judge what a man deserves without specifying anyone in particular, without taking under account any interaction between that man and anyone else, without asking who is earning from his work.

They take the company owner out of the equation and then try to decide how his money should be spent.

THAT, is the fallacy in their thinking. That they think of "deserve" in fuzzy terms. It is a relationship between god and the worker when it comes to taking his salary away, but becomes a relationship between that man and society when they decide society deserves it better.


So next time you hear someone using a fuzzy concept of "deserve", make sure they stand corrected.
The future of our society leans on whether or not people are left free to live their life, and is destroyed by people who try to decide with their fuzzy concept who "deserves" to make money, own property, or live.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The significance of work

A job is very important in life. It gives your life meaning and purpose, it gives you self esteem and happiness.

I'm a painter (ifatart.com), and I can't tell you how painting is central and important to me and how much it gives me. Not that it is easy - I have to work hard to improve my skills and many times it is frustrating and hard work - but it is worth it, it allows me to be happy and proud of myself.
A feeling of moving toward something, of increasing satisfaction and achievement.
Nothing can give you this kind of feeling except a job you devote yourself to.

I'm not talking about a 9-to-5 job at McDonalds - I'm talking about a goal in life - a productive goal in life of something you want to do and can do well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"You can't do it"

"At some point in your life everybody will tell you "you can't do it". Many people are gonna tell you "you can't do it". The trick is not to listen to them. I always tell people; whatever it is you want to do, talk to people who succeeded at it, don't talk to the failures because they're bitter about it, they're gonna tell you that you can't make it either because they don't really want you to make it. But everybody is told they can't do it. The difference is that there are a lot of people that just don't listen to that. And go out and do what they do as well as they can because they love it. And that's all that matters". -- Rush Limbaugh

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A reply to the accusation: "you are selfish!"

Don't let people make you apologize for wanting to keep your property. People who preach altruism are only interested in being on the recipient side.

They push a blaming finger: "How dare you not care for other people's well being?" All they care about is that you shut up, give up your property and pay their bills.

So don't give in to the extortion! Be proud of being self-interested. Selfishness (rational self-interest) is a virtue, not a vice.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Why is it hard to form a correct concept of "human nature"?


The general problem here is the relation between an abstraction to concretes. In case of oranges, there is no problem. All oranges need water, all of them are orange when ripe, etc'. But humans beings have free will - that is their basic nature, so some are "orange" and some are "green" and even within a single human being there is a mixture of good and evil. This makes the abstraction by essentials much more difficult than abstracting the concept "orange".

Are human beings good by nature or evil? If one observes 500 oranges, the conclusion of what an orange is, is easy. Not so with human beings. One can observe 500 or 500 million and still find some good some bad and a lot mixed.

Inability to separate human beings - the concept from any individual human being (good or bad) is a potential reason for "tolerance" in honest people - it is a result of a benevolent spirit with appreciation of human life failing to make the distinction between the proper approach to human beings as a concept (the potential of a human being, and all the good that they can be, if they decide to be that) and an actual one, which may be good or bad.

So even when they meet a bad person they apply the "human being" label to him which grants him the status (or belief) in his good nature, leading to a benevolent pacifistic approach, disarming the honest person from fighting against whatever bad thing the person may do.

This can also work the other way around - by thinking that all people are bad. One meets many people who evade, only look at what is comfortable for them to see (which is not rare to find) and even lie, and one concludes that this is human nature. The result is that when someone confesses to them about a good motive they immediately suspect self-deception or corruption.

Both points of view come from a wrong generalization about the human nature by failing to see human beings' ability to choose as central to human nature.


When one attempts to look at human beings as in the same category of oranges, it is inevitable to make a generalization one way or another - usually, the generalization is that all men are mixed, and so all can be good, but are deemed to be bad by their nature.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Motivation for glorification of death?

Some people try to make death a requirement for glorification of a man. As if the mere fact that a man died makes his life, personality and goals sacred.

A recent example of this is how the media acts like a vulture waiting to attack anyone who would pronounce negative judgement of late Senator Kennedy (on which I know nothing about and am just using as an example), and pass false praise of the man, thinking that no one would dare to challenge it because of the fear of being regarded as an evil, discompashionate person.

This intimidation to treat death as sacred is nothing more than a scheme aiming at getting free moral approval for all humans. Specifically the advocates' motivation is to get it for themselves.
Such is the motivation behind those who wish to silence any negative criticism, right or wrong.


How is the glorification of death help achieve free moral approval?

The issue involved in a eulogy is a man's entire personality and life - the highest most crucial judgement of a man.
A Eulogy, or in general what one is "morally approved" to say about a man that has died, is not a small matter of etiquette, as some people may claim.
The real issue is how is a man, any man, to be evaluated; is it proper to judge a man negatively as a whole and to pronounce it?
The just (from the word "justice") answer is YES. An evil man does not deserve a pretty eulogy.
A man who has done some good things and some bad things deserves both to be mentioned - with a positive overall emphasis to the extent that he renounced his bad deeds and became a better man. If he has done so successfully, his bad deeds become nothing more than an example of his dedication to the good.

Man's life is sacred - as a concept of what a man is and what is possible to us humans. But this does not make every individual man or woman automatically good, nor their life sacred. The life of a serial killer is not sacred.

Good will and generosity are not a replacement for justice - they are and can only be an extention of it.


The argument from intimidation is the weapon they are using to secure free moral approval. "What?! You speak ill of the dead? How dare you!"


The truth is always the most powerful weapon in the battle of ideas. Stand by it, don't be afraid to pronounce it.