• RSS
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
dildenusa On July - 22 - 2010

Is it the song by James Taylor?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhekXBbOo_Q

Is it what Arthur C. Clarke said?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Is it Economics 101 where I can learn “The Law of Diminishing Returns?”

O Great Guru, I think I found the secret of modern life.

The secret of modern life is……. There is NO secret! There is no secret because as a species, we humans are removing, exploiting, and consuming, at the fastest rate possible, all the resources we were given when our Sun, on the outskirts of a medium to large galaxy of stars, we call the Milky Way, in the middle of nowhere, ignited some 4 billion years ago. Forget the question as to who gave us these resources. It doesn’t matter anymore because we have treated them as if they were infinite, and taken our way of life to the limit. The question has to be can we pay off the debt we owe nature and reclaim our species not as rulers of nature but as partners with all sentient beings, or are we on a downhill slope headed for the dustbin even before our Sun burns itself out?

Why have we abused the resources nature gave us? Because our human nature is irrational. Why else would we come up with the idea that a hairy old white man living in the sky gave us stuff and made us rulers over all the other living beings to do with as we pleased? Despite all the irrefutable evidence of where the stuff and life came from, we still want to believe in a hairy old white man living in the sky.

I’m tired of the Ayn Rand fans telling me that if we give individuals and corporations total unfettered, unregulated freedom to do whatever they want or need in order to make a profit, they will do the right thing because they will act in their own rational self interest. Please. The latest estimate of human evolution puts our earliest “Homo habilis” ancestors around 2 million years ago. So given that H. habilis was probably exercising absolute unfettered freedom, did they act in their own rational self interest? Of course not. Each individual acted in the interests of the group or tribe. They had a society with taboos and one of their biggest taboos was that if you acted in your own self interest, jeopardizing the tribe, you were cast out from the tribe. And this taboo was alive and well until about 5 – 10 thousand years ago. How did a cultural taboo that our ancestors maintained for almost 2 million years suddenly, almost overnight in cosmic time, get turned on its head? Were they wrong? H. habilis, H. erectus, and H. neanderthalensis lasted a lot longer than it appears we will. Conventional wisdom says they became extinct by failing to adapt to climate change. Shouldn’t that tell us something?

Did the early Stone Age humans use the tools and weapons they made for hunting, get used in tribal combat? I don’t believe so. I don’t believe the anthropologists will ever discover what turned 2 million years of cultural evolution on its head in the blink of an eye. Conventional wisdom says it was probably technological advancement.

The Ayn Rand fans want everyone to believe that cultural evolution has led us down the path to unfettered, unbridled, and unregulated capitalism as the pinnacle of Human evolution. I think its devolution. That’s not to say I don’t believe in capitalism and competition. I do. Competition builds character. But when you have unfettered, unbridled, and unregulated capitalism it leads to cheating. Cheating to get ahead of the competition. Cheating to stifle competition and turn us all into slaves to the corporate definition of consumerism.

Categories: News & Politics

11 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. whatsthatsound says:

    Love this!

    The telling thing about Ayn Rand is that her “philosophy” has nothing really to do with society, since to her “society” was simply an abstract concept that worked against human nature. She was, essentially, not different from deSade, who also hated the usual suspects, religion, nation, government, mores, culture, custom, etc. -- ANYTHING that prevented individual humans from acting according to their own nature -- their own whims andd internal drives, even sadistic and cruel ones. He was at least more honest. He wouldn’t have tried to convince anyone that his philosophy would be good for society -- because for him, society was the enemy!

    Ayn Rand was different, and so her books backed her into a corner. Unlike Sade, they don’t contain torture scenes, but the interminable 70 plus page speech by John Galt in “Atlas Shrugged” should be considered a form of torture!

    Seriously, though, there are no children in her books. And no handicapped persons. She didn’t have a clue how her ideas would provide for them, so she sidestepped the issue by writing them out of her stories of grand, lofty (excessively arrogant and insufferable boors, every one of them) “liberated” individuals and imagining they didn’t exist.
    The tribal wisdom you refer to is “It takes a village to raise a child”. Rand turns that on its head. To her, “It takes an entire village to PRODUCE one single human individual that has any good character out of the whole lot”. The more you think about it, the more ridiculous it is, and the more you can equate it with the incredibly challenging problems we have created for ourselves and our survival chances.

    • msbadger says:

      Yowza! I love that, wts! And what a great idea to hit Flossy over the head with on HP! LMAO! No, seriously, that is very true and you hit the proverbial nail squarely, my friend.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        MsB! Always a pleasure to meet you here in this decidedly less frenetic atmosphere! One thing about Ayn, she wrote like Steven King in that she was always writing with Hollywood in mind. So she had plenty of hot and heavy scenes in her books, but no little ones ever resulted from all the thumpety thump! Very Hollywood.

        I think Flossy unfanned me the other day! Woe is me! I’m pissing bunches of people off there these days it seems. Not sure if it’s a.) me, b.) the heat (I think that’s part of it actually), or c.) the general vibe there. It seems like people are lookin’ for fights these days. I guess I am too.
        But hey, we can’t ALL be as beloved as the badger! :)

        • dildenusa says:

          Reading fiction isn’t one of my favorite activities so I wasn’t really aware that Ayn Rand didn’t have any children in her novels although I did study her in college in the 1970’s. I would think that her ideas about children were the conventional wisdom of the early 1900’s that children were little adults and should be forced into cutthroat competition from the get go. Seems like a good way to create anti social monsters.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            Yeah, probably no different. But I was thinking more about the parents. According to Rand’s philosophy, if a couple become pregnant, they don’t owe the unborn anything. If they have the baby, they STILL don’t, technically, owe it anything. Responsibility is something that no ME owes any other ME, she never tires of having her pompous protagonists proclaim. So what about kids? If I, as a parent, wake up one morning and decide that the best thing for ME is to hop a plane and start a new life on the Riviera, certainly I shouldn’t be bothered by guilty feelings about leaving a hungry and helpless child in the lurch, should I? If somebody ELSE wants to look after the child, that’s their business, and if not, tough luck! Obviously, this is an out and out disaster as an actual formula for society. As a “philosophy”, it’s just the Sade canard, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    • kesmarn says:

      WTS, you point out one of those facts that one realizes was right there in plain sight all the time, but somehow was not registered: namely: that there are no children in her books. When I read that, I had one of those “Oh, yeah…” moments. Ayn Rand does have that classic RW attitude toward people who are dependent through no fault of their own and who need care. Namely: erase ’em from our consciousness.

      I had a few run-ins on Huffy during the health care debate with RWers who said, ridiculously, that if people ate wheat germ and rode their bicycles to work, we wouldn’t need health care coverage. We only needed it because everyone was fat and lazy. When I would ask them how their plan would work with someone who had been born with spina bifida, they disappeared. Obviously, it’s fine to eat wheat germ and bicycle to work and be mighty and independent. But at some point in life, everyone depends on someone, and Rand doean’t make any allowance for that, as you noted.

      And in the corporate world, what form of enlightened self-interest would have made BP clean up its mess and put $20 billion in an escrow fund? No. That had to come from outside pressure. Good on ya, President Obama!

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Not surprising at all that the RWers, or perhaps the “libertarians” disappeared. Who wants to deal with inconvenient truths, after all? But it illustrates how a little truth can be stretched beyond having any meaning. No doubt, there ARE some points of merit in Rand’s, and Sade’s, critiques of society. And there is truth about the appalling state of health and nutrition that the RWers point out. But they take that one slice of truth and try to build a whole philosophy around it, and that’s when the trouble starts.

  2. PatsyT says:

    This Church Lady makes it all better…. beware spicy language



Leave your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Back to top
PlanetPOV Tweets
Ongoing Stories
Features