Monday, November 27, 2017

Objectivism and charity

On a whim, I decided to check out what the objectivist line on charity is. Partly because I remembered Ayn Rand's view wasn't quite as horrific as I expected (people make it sound like she actively desired poor people be gassed just for being poor, and all charity was quasi-sinful.)

From the site:
Answer:  Objectivism holds that there is nothing wrong with charity, so long as one is pursuing one's own values in providing it. As Ayn Rand said, charity is a marginal issue: it is not especially noble to engage in it, but if pursued prudently and seriously, and not at the cost of other important values, it can be a source of good for one's society and ultimately one's self. Objectivists tend to view their donations to causes as investments in some kind of improvement: a better culture, a better city, etc. But like investments, these require attention to make sure they are paying off.
I'm not an Objectivist of course - I'm too theistic, too classical, too religious. But I think Objectivists tend to get a bad rap. The problem is, they get a bad rap because they seem - practically to a man - hellbent on coming across like dickheads.

Seriously, just look at that quote from the Atlas Society. "Charity is fine so long as you get something out of it." Thanks for the tip, Flintheart Glomgold. You dick.

Ironically, the Atlas Society's depiction of the Objectivist view on charity... isn't even charitable. No matter how cold the view of it may be, it could be presented more sensibly, less caustic, while sacrificing none of the honesty of its presentation. But Objectivism seems to function as a lint trap for a certain kind of person who just rubs people the wrong way by nature. Go figure.

14 comments:

Perilanda said...

It's interesting. Years ago, when I was just a teenager, I enjoyed arguing with folks over at the Rebirth of Reason online forum. From what I remember, the so-called Objectivists did seem-to a man, no less!- very much like dickheads. Of course, as a youngster, I always presumed good faith, so at the time I just thought, "Wow, these people seem a little more unfriendly than usual."

Now I realize that they were either afflicted with full-blown Aspergers or just had sad, pathetic, and immoral personal lives--oftentimes a combination of both. Chalk that up to maturity: as you get older you can't help but notice more and more just how much the character of a person can influence his belief system.

That process is gradual, but I can point to my specific 'coming-of-age' moment. Some guy writing under the moniker 'Claude Shannon', who apparently REALLY hated Objectivism, managed to out-Aspergers the whole crew. Before he got banned, his string of posts (which are still viewable) constituted nothing less than a full-on assault of Objectivism, with character assassinations and ad hominems aplenty-- directed at Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Brandon, Leonard Peikoff, and lots of folks on the forum.

Anyway, Claude ripped the mask off these folks, and also humiliated the forum's intellectual chieftan--a guy named William Dwyer--all of which resulted in my 'aha' moment: objectivism is an intellectually vacuous joke and its proponents are grade A douchebags. (Please see the threads 'Religion is Totalitarian' in the General Forum and 'Atheism and Art' in the Dissent Forum to see the fireworks. Whoever 'Claude' was--from his cinematic entrance to his good-natured douchebaggery--the man was a brilliant troll who put on one helluva show.)

Crude said...

'It attracts a lot of aspies' seems to fit my impressions too. This very odd combination of strict rules interpretation and just social weirdness. The charity bit is where I think this really becomes evident, because this is one area that screams loud and clear to most human beings, 'This part in particular is wrongly portrayed and easily misunderstood. Allay people's concerns, or else you won't even communicate the idea accurately.' But instead they just dive full-on for the worst way to present it all. (Oddly, Rand's take on homosexuality is one case where they tend to bolt, and suddenly they have to play rules lawyer against Rand herself.)

I'll have to give that exchange a glance - sounds like an entertaining guy. I'll add, I haven't had an interaction with an Objectivist in a while. I just had an urge to look up their charity definition again, got a different site than normal (Rand in her own words is a bit better), and wow, these guys are as alien and grating as I remember them being.

Crude said...

Man, you weren't kidding. That guy puts on a show.

Miguel Angel Cedeño Llauger said...

"Objectivism holds that there is nothing wrong with charity, so long as one is pursuing one's own values in providing it...."
"...Objectivists tend to view their donations to causes as investments in some kind of improvement: a better culture, a better city, etc. But like investments, these require attention to make sure they are paying off."

Objectivism is to focus on goals as a dogma. If your goal is to help others through charitable means your goal is to help others, if your goal is to receive something in return then your goal is not to help others.

Miguel Angel Cedeño Llauger said...

This definition of objectivism should be called utilitarianism and convenience.

Perilanda said...

Crude:

Glad you enjoyed it. :)

I was not aware of Ayn Rand's view on the issue of homosexuality, but after familiarizing myself with it, I think it's clear that her position would at least entail opposition to so-called gay marriage. I'll keep that in mind the next time I feel the need to point out that opposition to gay marriage need not be motivated by religious belief. "The atheist Ayn Rand, for instance, was clearly opposed to gay marriage..."

Mike said...

I think Objectivists sit at the opposite end of someone like the current Pope or Mark Shea. By comparison, they believe that "charity" is always owed (emphasis on owed) and that it goes in one direction. You never see such people telling the poor "stop screwing around, stop drinking, stop doing drugs, start working, start saving, start planning ahead because it is your moral duty to the rest of society to try to be a net contributor."

Crude said...

Mike,

Yeah, the same people who screech about the duty to the poor find themselves incapable of talking about the duties OF the poor. Even of the Christian poor. Left-wing Christianity's approach to "charity" is disgustingly warped, but I could go on about that for days.

Mike said...

A key thing that Objectivists understand and the Christian Left refuses to see is that individual wealth may rely on luck in many cases, but societal wealth does not. Societies don't get accidentally rich. Wealth didn't "just happen" to the United States vs Argentina, contra the Pope's "experience." It was the culmination of culture and opportunity working together over generations and combining together to a long term outcome.

But the moment you acknowledge that, you have to ask why do Argentines collectively choose a culture that impoverishes them? Most of them are white so you can avoid racial questions, but then you get to really impoverished and messed up places like in Central America or Africa where the demographics are even more different. That's when I suspect you find that they're not even smart enough to do something like separate the recognition of group differences from opining on group superiority or inferiority and it just scares them to drill down to "root causes."

Perilanda said...

Crude,

FYI, 'Dianelos' is back showing his ass again on Feser's blog. I think you've written about this phenomenon before as characteristic of the New Atheists: a total inability to learn and process ideas and arguments contrary to their own worldview.

I seem to recall you turning 'Dianelos' into a punching bag back when Feser was posting on the Rea/Swinburne controversy. He has apparently learned nothing.

Crude said...

Interesting line, but I don't think the bit about the New Atheists was from me. Maybe Mike over at Shadow to Light?

D's no atheist, unless he's come out of the closet. He's a faux Christian rocking eastern orthodox (!) attire in drag. Where Stardusty was armed purely with assertion, D is armed with sanctimony posing as spiritual wisdom.

He's a prime example of someone who joins a Church hoping to corrupt it from the inside with his political 'wisdom', and which Christians need to respond to by forcibly throwing out. By their hair, if necessary.

Perilanda said...

Crude,

Any thoughts on the latest Pope Francis episode of 'problematicity'? I refer here to the new elevation to 'authentic magisterium' of the Pope's letter to the Argentine bishops regarding the interpretation of AL. Also, I don't mean to the disrespectful, but isn't this kind of behavior considered textbook of Vox Day's characterization of the Omega Male? Verbosity, ambiguity, indirectness, passive aggression, and inevitable misery when given a leadership role?

Crude said...

Peri,

The deeper intricacies of theology are out of my league. I've clawed at philosophy, metaphysics and natural law (still an amateur compared to many of Feser's regulars), but when it comes to parsing canon law and sussing out very technical disputes is another matter. Especially when this Pope constantly falls back to evasion, passive aggressive, and third party pronouncements that he had been 'misunderstood' whenever the head gets on.

Also, disrespectful? Ha! You're spot on. I'm afraid I don't bother being respectful to this Pope. I know it earns me the anger of some long-standing Catholic blogging acquaintances, but I think Francis is a rotten Pope. In fact, I have a very dim view of many clergy, with some grand exceptions.

I hope, before his papacy ends, Francis is exposed to some kind of mass protest from Catholics. I would love to see his expression when he's booed by a crowd.

Crude said...

Whenever the heat gets on, that is.