Tuesday, July 27, 2010
An Objectivist View of Civil Liberties
Rather than writing a treatise on why I am vehemently opposed to the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which to some people is tantamount to being a Holocaust denier or a lapsed Catholic), I decided to post some of my favorite quotes from the author and philosopher Ayn Rand.
Rand is the progenitor of the Objectivist philosophy, which holds that:
"...reality exists independent of consciousness, that man has direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest, that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally."
In Rand's words and the philosophy that underpins them, there is present what I believe to be human kinds best chance at redeeming our divine inheritance and saving what is left of our world from those who use cries for altruism and social need as means to their end of exercising complete control over every facet of human existence.
Rand's words are concise yet rich with meaning. Although they were written over 60 years ago, the basic truths regarding human nature and the danger associated with unbridled populism ring truer today more than at any other time in history.
Looking at historic pieces of legislation (Federal Reserve Act of 1913, The New Deal, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans with Disabilities Act, etc.) as well as recent events (bank bailouts, auto industry bailouts, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, high levels of unemployment, record deficits and debt controlled by foreign entities)through the lens of Rand's Objectivist philosophy, one must strongly consider whether we have sacrificed our most precious gift, our inalienable individual rights, for the sake of a better, more perfect union.
Individual rights (the right to vote, attend school where you please, work where your ability allows you to for a wage that the market dictates, eat and shop where you want, marry whomever you want, own land,etc.) are not subject to public referendum. As George Carlin said in his last stand-up performance, "Rights are rights. You either have them or you don't."
I feel strongly, and Rand would agree, that if you empower people with the knowledge of their individual rights, collective rights (civil rights) will follow in due form. The rational person realizes that the greatest protection to one's own individual rights comes through the indefatigueable support of the other's individual rights. However, collective rights can not create, supplement, nor sustain individual rights.
Rights are rights. You either have them or you don't.
"A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving."
"Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values."
"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."
"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."
"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)."
"Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law."
"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."
"It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master."
"Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one's rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property."
"Government "help" to business is just as disastrous as government persecution... the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off."
"Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another."
"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."
"I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."