Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash

We continue our analysis of John Galt’s Speech in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, this time on the concept of self-sacrifice and morality.

Socialism is a political system that is dependent on an ethos of self-sacrifice for “the greater good” – meaning “the good of everyone except you“.

Ayn Rand attacks this moral precept by naming it for what it is in the passage below:

“For those of you who might ask questions, your code provides a consolation prize and booby-trap:

it is for your own happiness, it says, that you must serve the happiness of others,
the only way to achieve your joy is to give it up to others,
the only way to achieve your prosperity is to surrender your wealth to others,
the only way to protect your life is to protect all men except yourself—

and if you find no joy in this procedure, it is your own fault and the proof of your evil; if you were good, you would find your happiness in providing a banquet for others, and your dignity in existing on such crumbs as they might care to toss you.

 

    “You who have no standard of self-esteem, accept the guilt and dare not ask the questions. But you know the unadmitted answer, refusing to acknowledge what you see, what hidden premise moves your world. You know it, not in honest statement, but as a dark uneasiness within you, while you flounder between guilty cheating and grudgingly practicing a principle too vicious to name.

 

“I, who do not accept the unearned, neither in values nor in guilt, am here to ask the questions you evaded.

Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own?

If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you?

If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others?

Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so?

Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away?

And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it?

If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it?

Does virtue consist of serving vice?

Is the moral purpose of those who are good, self-immolation for the sake of those who are evil?

 

“The answer you evade, the monstrous answer is: No, the takers are not evil, provided they did not earn the value you gave them. It is not immoral for them to accept it, provided they are unable to produce it, unable to deserve it, unable to give you any value in return. It is not immoral for them to enjoy it, provided they do not obtain it by right.

 

“Such is the secret core of your creed, the other half of your double standard: it is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the effort of others—

it is immoral to consume your own product, but moral to consume the products of others—

it is immoral to earn, but moral to mooch—

it is the parasites who are the moral justification for the existence of the producers, but the existence of the parasites is an end in itself—

it is evil to profit by achievement, but good to profit by sacrifice—

it is evil to create your own happiness, but good to enjoy it at the price of the blood of others.

The Toxicity of Unearned Value

It’s obvious that this moral code embedded in socialism harms productive people who create and produce value. They are taxed, stolen from, berated for being wealthy, and called evil capitalist scum for creating their own success.

But what of those who accept their stolen money through welfare payments?

What is the consequence to their actions?

Taking that which is unearned weakens your mind, body, and spirit. Rather than being forced to sharpen one’s mind and venture forth into the uncertainty of life, willing to conquer whatever obstacles arise in your path, facing fears and beating them, and becoming the kind of man or woman who deserves and finally creates success – welfare recipients are robbed completely blind of their human potential. By taking what is undeserved and unearned, they create a kind of debt which their unconscious knows can never be repayed.

It is this insidious form of evil that is destroying Western civilization as we know it.

There is a reason why President Lyndon B Johnson famously said “We’ll have these n*****s voting Democrat for the next 50 years!” when implementing the welfare state in the United States. He understood handing out stolen money in the form of welfare payments was the perfect way to mentally enslave the black population. Welfare in America was motivated by racism to exploit underprivileged communities in pursuit of power.

Evil knows no bounds.

Guilt Precedes Exploitation

The second paragraph of this excerpt is worth exploring in more detail.

She writes, “You who have no self esteem, accept the guilt and dare not ask questions”.

Definitions

Self-esteem, by Nathaniel Branden’s definition, is “the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness”.

Guilt, by Merriam Webster’s definition, is “the feeling of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy“.

How Guilt Manipulation Works

Guilt has always been used to manipulate particularly good, conscious people into sacrificing their value, money, and time in exchange for temporary relief from guilt. It’s an age-old practice of Catholicism to demand tithe in exchange for guilt-relief. Modern day Leftists demand whites to pay reparations for slavery. The principle is the same: extract money through manipulating guilt.

Guilt, when not used in the factual “I factually committed a crime” sense, is imaginary. Re-read Merriam Webster’s definition. That imagined guilt is the kind of guilt Ayn Rand is referring to in this passage.

You can only be exploited for imaginary guilt if you feel inadequate and unworthy of happiness. That is to say, you have low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem people are easily exploited and manipulated by anyone who can either temporarily bolster their confidence, or temporarily relieve them of their self-loathing.

That’s where guilt manipulation comes in.
An insidiously evil moral code was born!

Socialist, totalitarian, fascist, and religious control systems all demand that you sacrifice your individual preferences, desires, and values for others. That “other” class is always left abstract: society, country, your fellow man, etc.

Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own?“, writes Rand.

It’s not, but low self-esteem people are willing to believe anything if it relieves their suffering sometimes. Strong-willed, self-aware, rational, healthy individuals of high self-esteem are not prone to being misdirected in such an obviously contradictory way.

The Importance of Universality in Moral Philosophy

Above, I highlighted in red Ayn Rand’s questions to the inventors of the moral code that underpins many socialist, totalitarian, fascist, and religious control systems.

These are the two most important questions:

If it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it?

If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it?

If a moral principle is presented to you, it must be universal, objective, and absolute. If it’s not, we’re not dealing with moral principles. We’re dealing with propaganda or subjective preferences that have nothing to do with morality.

Self-Detonating Statements

These questions reveal what’s called a “self-detonating statement”.

An example of a self-detonating statement would be: “Language is meaningless.”

There are 2 things wrong here:

  1. It uses language as the very form of the argument
  2. It assumes you will understand the meaning behind my words

These obviously contradict the validity of my argument – hence we call it “self-detonating”.

Application to Socialism

Let’s apply some logic to the political philosophy of Socialism.

“It is good to take from the rich, and redistribute it to the poor, because the poor need money more than the rich”.

Okay, classic stuff. It’s from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. The more you produce, the more you’re taxed (stolen from). The less you produce, the more you receive (stolen money).

Let’s try to universalize that with a thought experiment.

There is always someone who needs something you have more than you do.

Even if you’re homeless, broke, and have just a tooshbrush to your name. In any given moment, there will be people who need something you have more. There is a hard limit to people’s biological needs, but no limit to people’s subjective needs (or preferences).

If I have $5 in my pocket, under Socialism, it would be moral and just for me to give it to someone who does not have $5 to their name. More importantly, it would be unjust and immoral for me to keep that money when I know there are others who need it more than I do.

So let’s say I did it. Now they have my $5.

Now that they’ve accepted my money, they themselves are unjust and immoral to keep it. They have spontaneously entered into the “privileged class” of people with $5 to their name. They must give it away.

And so they do, to someone else, who must give it away, to someone else, who must give it away.

The point is, it’s not sustainable. Nobody has any rightful claim to any value the moral code which Socialism operates from. The moment you receive value, you become immoral and must give it away.