One can disagree with Objectivism, and that’s certainly okay. She did not believe “Fuck the poor people, let them die” either. Nothing, not even in her novels, is there remotely anything resembling such a belief, never mind as she goes on to discuss charity at some length. The belief is that charity was not a great virtue, but a minor virtue, and that it should be based, not on mindless duty, but a conscious act consistent with one’s values. What Rad said was, “My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.”
The premise in Objectivist ethics is that man should not live for the sake of another person, and primarily, that they should not accept as fact that their dutyis to live for other people. That is almost the entire focus of Objectivist ethics. It’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t help people. It’s that you shouldn’t throw yourself into the furnace as a matter of duty to whatever random standard of value that is given.
I have read a passage of hers in which she describes a low-level worker as someone essentially mooching off of the brilliance and inventions of the creative-entrepreneurial class, which i find hard to see as anything but ‘fuck the poor,’ so i understand why so many people are convinced this is what she is suggesting —- plus reagan was fond of her writing and regardless of her negative feelings towards him, his policies, undoubtedly influenced by someone he was fond of, were pretty ‘fuck the poor’
Everything she wrote about work, any type of work, as long as you productive and use the capacity you have to achieve the highest level it takes you, then it it doesn’t matter what job it is. It’s the virtue of choosing productive work, in whatever field in whatever level, that’s the focus here. If you can find the passage, then I would like to see the context as well (it has been a long while since I’ve read through my Rand collection). I would imagine the context has to deal with an argument of the value between low-level workers and entrepreneurial because I am almost sure someone made an argument to her that the entrepreneurs owe it all to the low-level worker.
What she actually writes about careers is this:
“Productive work” does not mean the blind performance of the motions of some job. It means the conscious, rational pursuit of a productive career. In popular usage, the term “career” is applied only to the more ambitious types of work; but, in fact, it applies to all work: it denotes a man’s attitude toward his work.
The difference between a career-man and a job-holder is as follows: a career-man regards his work as constant progress, as a constant upward motion from one achievement to another, higher one, driven by the constant expansion of his mind, his knowledge, his ability, his creative ingenuity, never stopping to stagnate on any level. A job-holder regards his work as a punishment imposed on him by the incomprehensible malevolence of reality or of society, which, somehow, does not let him exist without effort; so his policy is to go through the least amount of motions demanded of him by somebody and to stay put in any job or drift off to another, wherever chance, circumstances or relatives might happen to push him.
In this sense, a man of limited ability who rises by his own purposeful effort from unskilled laborer to shop-foreman, is a career-man in the proper, ethical meaning of the word—while an intelligent man who stagnates in the role of a company president, using one-tenth of his potential ability, is a mere job-holder. And so is a parasite posturing in a job too big for his ability. It is not the degree of a man’s ability that is ethically relevant in this issue, but the full, purposeful use of his ability.
I didn’t know Rand had a complex reasoning for why accepting government money was acceptable, and it’s interesting to read about. I must admit though that I don’t understand how she could equate charity-as-a-primary-virtue with living for others, other than in the context of soviet propaganda convincing her they were inseparable. otherwise, the only people i can conceive as not get something out of helping others, as thoroughly denouncing charity as a virtue, as genuinely feeling like they’re completely living for others when acting with charity, are likely to be diagnosed with at least one anti-social disorder, if not disorder-level resentment and ignorance. had the majority of us humans been designed to be so callous, we would have gone extinct long ago.
I don’t know if she equated charity-as-primary-virtue with living with others. That could be a poor misinterpretation either on mine or yours. The point, I think, is that charity should not be a duty, just living for others is not a duty, i.e. that you must live your life living for others. I don’t think she equated as the primary virtue of altruism. I think she equated obedience to duty as the primary “virtue” of altruism.
with this belief, I don’t think there are as many anti-social people as there are ardent rand supporters, and that in most cases, disagreements on charity’s definition and place in society is more agreeable than most conceive.
it does seem though that rand ultimately justified behavior that is equivalent to destroying a storefront in symbolic protest; the only difference is what the brick-thrower calls symbolic, Rand seems to have found ‘paradoxically’ virtuous. it seems she confused paradox and contradiction; after all, how could a business (or the government) know it’s taking too much power (or money) if you only show it a willingness to play up to its assumptions? an eye for an eye justifies, never solves.
The thing here is defining a paradox and a contradiction. In her philosophy, her statement is a paradox. It seems, as first, a contradiction to her philosophy, but it isn’t. Especially when one considers that your existence is in a country that, through contradictions, created a system where there are government benefits that run off of coerced taxation. She isn’t advocating “Go, TAKE IT!”. She’s advocating, “If it requires you to play by their rules, then you should recoup what has been taken from you, as long as you’re being intellectually honest about being against such government programs.” She doesn’t believe a person should be a victim twice, as I said. The paradox lies in that people think it is a contradiction against her political viewpoints, but when in context of her philosophy and of the philosophical climate, it is wholly consistent with the values of Objectivism.
I always consider the fact that a person in poverty has often been forced to live on lower amounts of profit made from their productivity. Not just because of low-level work, but the amount of government interference that hurts their income, not only through taxes, but through minimum wages and inflation caused by bureaucracy that, otherwise, may not exist. Then, depending on his political views, he’s either going to be a parasite who wholeheartedly believes he is owed government assistance; or he’s an honest man who does not believe in such assistance, but is forced to do so to survive so he won’t become both the victim of coercion, and of forced starvation or whatever it may be. That judgement depends on a case-by-case basis. What’s inconsistent of Rand’s opponents is that they are okay with a parasite getting government assistance, but if someone who opposes them needs them, they will latch on and attack as if they were some villain, such as they do to Rand.