Posts Tagged ‘Objectivism’

Check Your Privilege

December 15, 2017

If you are straight, white, cis-gender, male, able-bodied or any combination of these, chances are you have heard (or will hear in the future) the phrase, “Check Your Privilege.”

This expression is used when you make an assumption about some social situation and have not, in the eyes of the opponent, properly addressed the plight of those who are marginalized in some way.

The expression can be meant to open up a real discussion, as if to say, “check your premises.”   However, more often than not, it is used to silence you by pointing out past oppression, slavery, or mistreatment by a group of people who look like you.

Embedded in the privilege discussion is that you haven’t worked as hard as someone else, or perhaps you didn’t earn all that you have.  It is implied that if you had been born under different circumstances, you would have not been so fortunate.

You may hang your head.  You don’t know about slavery, having never experienced it.  You may not have escaped the inner city to get your college degree.   You may have never experienced life from a wheel chair.

If you insist that you worked hard for you position and the things you have, you are a racist/homophobic/sexist/ablest jerk.  You may even find yourself with no defense to these statements.

Forget all of it.

The proper response to “Check Your Privilege” is “Or What?”

People don’t run around saying these things to actual Nazis or Klansmen or Terrorists.  Those people don’t care about being called a racist.  They don’t care whether their ancestors had slaves- they would have them today.

You are (hopefully) not one of these people.  You own no slaves, and want none.  You don’t actively say you won’t hire women.  You don’t beat people for being gay or how they dress or what gender they identify.  You don’t actively want life to be difficult for anyone for conditions to which they have no control.

When someone says “Check Your Privilege,” the only weapon they have is your own guilt.  Your own guilt for the very common thought, “I’m not good enough.”

Is it any wonder that these discussions occur in college classes, where most students and faculty suffer from “impostor syndrome”?  Impostor syndrome is when you constantly feel like you have risen above your competence level, and is experienced by practically everyone with an above average IQ.

Is it any wonder that, over the years, I’ve lost more former college students to suicide than car accidents?

But you have a defense.  Their only weapon is your own guilt.  Don’t give it to them.

By replying “Or What?” you acknowledge that their statement is an empty threat.  It is an unbacked attempt to silence you.  There will be no answer, at least no logical one.  They counted on your guilt, and you won’t have given it to them.  The best they can do is to resort to more obvious ad hominem attacks, such as calling you uneducated, backwards, etc.  You know, standard liberal drivel.

In Objectivism, this concept is called, “The Sanction of the Victim.”  It is best demonstrated in Atlas Shrugged, during Hank Reardon’s trial.  He goes before a panel of judges; they expect him to grovel and confess his sin- the sin of being a businessman.  Instead, he refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing.  To paraphrase, “it is bad enough to whip a man, but to force him to first manufacture the whip used against him is a special kind of evil.”

Don’t give it to them.  Don’t deliver them a weapon to use against you.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2017

While there are a lot of politics surrounding Thanksgiving, the relations between the Europeans and the Natives, who gets to work on Thanksgiving day and so on, I am going to skip all of that for this blog post.  I will, instead, quote one of my favorite parts of Atlas Shrugged.  The scene is at Hank Rearden’s house during Thanksgiving dinner.  After an awkward family Thanksgiving Dinner, he goes to see Dagny, and while with her, says,

“You know, Dagny, Thanksgiving was a holiday established by productive people to celebrate the success of their work.” (1)

May your Thanksgiving be happy!

Thank you for reading my blog!

  1.  Rand, Ayn.  Atlas Shrugged.  Signet Classic, 1996,  pp. 439.

Catching up On Atlas Shrugged

November 3, 2017

I have not written much about rereading Atlas Shrugged.  It is still my favorite book, and I am glad that The Atlas Project has given me an excuse to read it again.

On schedule, I have finished reading Part I, finishing up with Chapter 10:  Wyatt’s Torch.  (SPOILER ALERT)

When I think about Ellis Wyatt, I can really relate to his character.  I used to think that all Ayn Rand characters had the same personality type (and unfortunately, that did not include me).  Then, after much more careful consideration, I find myself aligning more with Ellis Wyatt than any other character.

Granted, I am not the petroleum genius that Ellis Wyatt was in the novel.  However, he occasionally displays his anger in the same ways that I do.  At one point he smashes a glass when he realizes that his success will be ruined by the government soon enough.  Also, when dealing with the looters (and, Dagny Taggart, who he mistakes as a looter), he delivers ultimatums, rather than conversation, as he recognizes there is nothing to discuss.  Finally, when the government finally loots him, he sets all of his assets on fire to keep them from being destroyed by the government.  I hope that I would have such courage.

Anyway, I have been watching this character, and find him to be probably one of my favorites in the book.

Thank you for reading my post.

Atlas Shrugged, Ch. 4

September 22, 2017

I finished reading Chapter 4 a few days ago.

In this chapter, we learn about the Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule, where Jim Taggart and his cronies have effectively killed off the Phoenix-Durango railroad, and prevent any newcomer from entering the market.  We see the end of Dan Conway, as he refuses to fight the Rule.

We also learn that Mexico has nationalized the railroad and San Sebastian Mines.  Taggart Transcontinental lost some old equipment and only one wood-burning locomotive, thanks to Dagny’s preparations.  James Taggart took credit for saving the railroad money to the Board of Directors.

Francisco D’Anconia lost 15 million dollars of his own money.  We don’t know much about him yet, but we know that he typically makes money, and this seems out of character.

We meet a wild character, Ellis Wyatt, who comes into Dagny’s office like a hurricane.  He storms in, curses Taggart Transcontinental for ruining the Phoenix-Durango line, then demands trains.  He says that if Wyatt Oil sinks because of the lack of trains, he was going to take Taggart Transcontinental with him.

Finally, we see that, in spite of it all, Dagny Taggart and Hank Reardon are still planning to go through with using Reardon metal for rail in Colorado.

Thank you for reading my post.

Can You Be Libertarian and Not A Hypocrite?

August 4, 2017

I have often heard that Libertarians and Objectivists are hypocrites, as they use tax-funded services, even though they denounce taxes.  After all, most Libertarians drive on tax-funded roads, are protected by tax-funded police and military, get their weather from a tax-funded National Weather Service, and so on.  Shouldn’t a true, non-hypocritical Libertarian abstain from using tax-funded goods and services?

As part of my daily commute, I use two separate city bus systems, as well as a commuter
train.  I watch the weather carefully (I have one degree in meteorology), so I use the National Weather Service, Storm Prediction Center, and plenty of weather satellites, indirectly.  I did my K-12, and all three college degrees at public schools, and paid for them with federal student loans.  Now, I work in public schools and a public college, funded by your tax dollars.

How then, could I be an advocate for eliminating taxes?  Isn’t that hypocritical?

No.  I was going to pay for these things anyway.  Whether or not I partake in public education has no influence on whether or not my taxes change.  Whether or not I check the weather forecast, I will pay for the weather service.  Whether or not I take public transportation, I will pay for it.

Unlike the free-market, my lack of participation in a service does not exclude my paying for it.  In the free-market, I don’t pay for things I am not using.  If enough people decide not to pay for this product, the company will either change its service, or go out of business.  Either way, I don’t have to pay for a service I do not want.

In public works, I pay either way.  And, because these services do not HAVE to make money, my choice to use the service or not has no influence on the service, or my checkbook.  Case in point:  our train is used by so few people.  There have been many train rides where I am the only occupant of my car.  A business would have to figure out what to do about this.  However, the public train keeps running.  It never actually runs out of money, as more appears from tax dollars, regardless of financial performance.  Therefore, you can run a train from Santa Fe to Belen with one rider, paying a few dollars.  The difference – my few dollars versus the diesel, engine maintenance, track maintenance, salaries, and so on – comes from everyone else.

This is why boycotting a government service on moral grounds is a losing battle.  Unlike boycotting a business, where they stand to go out of business if the boycott is large enough, a government service will continue to run in the red for a long time until the tax payers finally opt to get rid of it through legislative means.

You vowing to never drive on a public road will limit your future and your potential employment and entertainment opportunities, and you’ll pay for the road anyhow.

However, to be consistent, one must still reject the notion of a government service on the principle that you should never have to sacrifice your efforts for a “common good.”  What you cannot do, and claim consistency is to explain why your government service is necessary and moral, while another government service is not.  They are all immoral from principle.

Thank you for reading my post.