henry_cameron

making the strike a reality

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The problem with "Randians" is that they, like me, forgot that "bit players" did make it to Galt's Gulch. But unlike them, I acknowledge that societally, I currently participate as a bit player. And given the way my life is set up, my desire to remain relatively anonymous, my desire to be able to go to a local Denny's and enjoy a two-hour cup of coffee, to be part of a bowling league, etc. - all of these mold my life to be a "bit player."

You need to rethink a lot of this. We are all "bit players" "societally" unless we are politicians inappropriately using force or in their employ doing their dirty work. Ayn Rand herself was a "bit player." Bit playing is division of labor in technologically advanced economically developed civilizations. In that context how you spend your time is up to you if you don't do bad things.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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Folks:

Here are some "snippets" from the valley:

Anarchism: Midas Mulligan page 659 35th Anniversary Edition Pocket Edition]:

"Miss Taggart," he said, "we have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind. We come here because we want to rest. But we have certain customs which we all observe, because they pertain to the things we need to rest from."

Later, Hugh Akston comments on page 690, "You see, Miss Taggart, said Hugh Akston, "man is a social animal, but not in the way the looters preach."

Dick McNamara, comments on the three (3) men he has had to hire in the last year on page 663:

"Well, one of them is a professor of economics who couldn't get a job outside because he taught that you can't consume more than you have produced - one is a professor of history who couldn't get a job because he taught that the inhabitants of slums were not the men who made this country - and one is a professor of psychology who couldn't get a job who taught that men are capable of thinking."

Galt on page 664: "She's a writer. [their best fish wife] The kind of writer who wouldn't be published outside. She believes that when one deals with words, one deals with the mind."

The young brakeman from the Comet. Page 665.

Same page, Dagny, sarcastically looks up at a "roughneck." "She glanced up at him, he looked like a truck driver, so she asked, "What were you on the outside? A professor of comparative philology, I suppose?"

He answers, top page 666, No, ma'am," he answered, I was a truck driver." He added, "But that is not what I wanted to remain."

These people were not billionaires, nor were they even a Eddie Willers level of success. Or even Owen Kellogs.

I have always been amazed at so called "Objectivists" who do not see this as a major selling point to the regular folks out there. I have always stressed that it is how you actualize your values, your abilities and that you respect your personal worth that makes you successful.

Adam

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Brant - I don't believe I need to rethink this at all. For my point wasn't to belittle myself or anyone else. My point was that if someone from Mars were to look upon us from a 50,000 foot level, they might notice John Galt, Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggert. But they wouldn't notice me. I would be virtually indistinguishable from any of the other denizens of the local Denny's. It is in this "grand scheme of things" that I acknowledge I don't move society the way that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, or even that misbegotten fool in the White House do.

Does this mean I don't aspire to great things - by my own decisions and actions? No it does not. What it means is that I make a distinction between being noticed writ large and being internally true to myself.

Hopefully, this makes some kind of sense.

- Bal

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Adam - I think that the problem is that so many people view Rearden, Galt and Taggert as proxies for their own aspirations. That is a tragic mistake IMO. This is why I am NOT an objectivist any more than I am a General Semanticist or a conservative, etc. I have views that are in concordance with many of these theses, but I tend to not join things philosophical. I do not cotton to being part of a movement though I might be inspired by many in some of the movements.

I think I got the paradigm for this - the template if you will - from Herman Hesse in his novel, Siddartha. In chapter 3, Siddartha meets up with the Buddha, Gotoma. S has listened to G's sermon and is truly impressed by it. I will let Hesse take it from here:

"I have not doubted in you for a single moment. I have not doubted for a single moment that you are Buddha, that you have reached the goal, the highest goal towards which so many thousands of Brahmans and sons of Brahmans are on their way. You have found salvation from death. It has come to you in the course of your own search, on your own path, through thoughts, through meditation, through realizations, through enlightenment. It has not come to you by means of teachings! And--thus is my thought, oh exalted one,--nobody will obtain salvation by means of teachings! You will not be able to convey and say to anybody, oh venerable one, in words and through teachings what has happened to you in the hour of enlightenment! The teachings of the enlightened Buddha contain much, it teaches many to live righteously, to avoid evil. But there is one thing which these so clear, these so venerable teachings do not contain: they do not contain the mystery of what the exalted one has experienced for himself, he alone among hundreds of thousands. This is what I have thought and realized, when I have heard the teachings. This is why I am continuing my travels--not to seek other, better teachings, for I know there are none, but to depart from all teachings and all teachers and to reach my goal by myself or to die. But often, I'll think of this day, oh exalted one, and of this hour, when my eyes beheld a holy man." http://www.online-literature.com/hesse/siddhartha/3/

Some who I've talked with have interpreted this passage as indicating Hesse to be proposing an anti-intellectual course. I don't agree with that interpretation. I think this is advocacy for having first-hand experience where possible. And thus, it matters not a wit about anyone else's ideology or views about society. What matters is that I come to my opinions - my values - my viewpoints per personal exploration. This personal exploration may well include much that is the discourse of the day. It may well include conversations like this one that we are having now. But there is no need to join a movement in order to grok and appreciate the thoughts of those in it. Standing apart allows me the intellectual freedom to diverge if that's what I come to.

I think the major selling point of anything like Objectivism or General Semantics or Buddhism, etc. would be that these encourage people not so much to join up as to THINK for themselves. To think things through. To see with one's own eyes what is so or not so - regardless of what others in the movement say or see. For this reason, you will never seem me as a member of a Tea Party, though I greatly admire much of what the Tea Party brings to the American table. I cannot find it in myself to intellectually "join up" with someone or something that is based on ideology or philosophy. Bowling leagues carry no such burdens.

There is, perhaps, one exception: being an American. But even here, my allegiance is first to the truth insofar as I can ascertain it; for without that, what does my allegiance to anything else mean?

- Bal

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Brant - I don't believe I need to rethink this at all. For my point wasn't to belittle myself or anyone else. My point was that if someone from Mars were to look upon us from a 50,000 foot level, they might notice John Galt, Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggert. But they wouldn't notice me. I would be virtually indistinguishable from any of the other denizens of the local Denny's. It is in this "grand scheme of things" that I acknowledge I don't move society the way that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, or even that misbegotten fool in the White House do.

Does this mean I don't aspire to great things - by my own decisions and actions? No it does not. What it means is that I make a distinction between being noticed writ large and being internally true to myself.

Hopefully, this makes some kind of sense.

- Bal

Jobs and Gates have not moved society one inch. In fact Gates took from Jobs who took from somebody else. If Gates had succeeded in selling DOS to IBM for $100,000 he'd be in the same category as that guy who sold his big stake in the young Apple for $640 to Apple--or Jobs or somebody with the firm. Technology does not move society, people using it do. A real problem with Rand's top down prime mover approach is lack of feedback from hoi polloi. Did anyone ever say to Roark your bathrooms are too small and Roark say in return, "You're right. I forgot the toilet." Henry Cameron did, but he wasn't the end user, and that was only in Roark's being mentored days. Being productive and creative is like an actor being on stage feeding off the audience as the audience feeds off him, back and forth--human cannibalism at its finest.

--Brant

somebody from Mars getting as low as 50,000 feet will likely be shot down--please warn your friend

Edited by Brant Gaede

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I think I got the paradigm for this - the template if you will - from Herman Hesse in his novel, Siddartha. In chapter 3, Siddartha meets up with the Buddha, Gotoma. S has listened to G's sermon and is truly impressed by it. I will let Hesse take it from here:

Definitely a record on OL Siddartha mentioned 2x in 2 different posts on the same day!

Bal: I almost fell off my chair when I saw your reference.

I agree with your overall statement about the big "O"bjectivist problem. I saw the beginnings of it at NBI in the early '60's and it just got worse after the break.

However, this Randian renaissance that is erupting is a perfect opportunity to turn folks into thinking for themselves. I will take my chances on a society that is rabidly and foundationally protective of individually rights as its reason for existence. Additionally, built on a severely limited state that can effect almost nothing when it comes to suppressing individual thought and economic activity and basically leaves us alone to think and freely exercise our innate ability to live together.

Good post Bal.

Adam

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Interesting discussion, Brant...

When Gates or Jobs create products and/or services (I should add Google and anyone who is the creative force of a large organization), they sometimes change "EVERYTHING." Consider the smart phones we have now - based on an evolution of products to be sure, but made marketably feasible by Jobs and Apple via the iPad. I have a Droid phone; I can't begin to tell you the ways in which various aspects of my life have been "improved" upon. I say improved in quotes because the jury is still out as to whether, long term, these technological innovations actually prove out to be beneficial overall. But certainly, when considering years and not decades, I'd say the value seems to be there.

I AGREE - please re-read that word - AGREE with you that Rand's approach provides a caricature of how society moves. I said as much when I said that I considered it an allegory, and not a straight up discussion of things as they really are. But she had a story to tell; and while, in principle, she had unlimited space in which to tell it, as an allegory, it already topped out at more than a thousand pages. The problem you site isn't so much with Rand's telling of the story; it's more with people who seize it as a full description of the way things really are.

Regarding Roarke and toilets and such; in the telling of a story, I would not expect there to be much discussion about the minutia that happens in a real-world project. My wife and I are currently remodeling parts of our house. There's huge amounts of detail that would bore a reader to tears yet are essential to the project coming out right. Would you expect that Rand would have Roarke go through the intricacies of getting licensed, bonded, and permitted? Would you expect Rand to devote a chapter to the inspection process it it didn't move the story along.

Too many people get caught up in insisting that Rand's novel stands like a work of Decartes or Kant. I haven't read her non-fiction books yet, but it is in these that I would expect more attention to the details of her philosophy, for it is in such non-fiction that there is no need to move the plot along; to build up scenarios and to resolve conflicts, etc.

Oh - and my friend from Mars tells me to thank you for reminding me. :)

- Bal

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Hey Adam...

Oh - to have a small, Jeffersonian country again. What might that even look like? :)

One of my other favorite authors is the late Robert A. Heinlein. He wrote a book called The Notebooks of Lazarus Long, which consisted of a number of quotations by this fictional leading character. Here is one of my favorites, and it also serves to insulate me from "joining up" with various movements:

Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something.

Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?

Truth and the numbers of people believing or disbelieving it are somewhat independent of each other. I'm not a purist when it comes to Heinlein, either. :)

- Bal

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Hey Selene - just re-reading your post again...

"Well, one of them is a professor of economics who couldn't get a job outside because he taught that you can't consume more than you have produced - one is a professor of history who couldn't get a job because he taught that the inhabitants of slums were not the men who made this country - and one is a professor of psychology who couldn't get a job who taught that men are capable of thinking."

I am continually amazed at how prescient Rand was when it comes to political correctness. If there is a self-inflicted scourge upon America, it is PC. If I were an employer, I would test for someone's PC Quotient. And the higher the PCQ the less likely would I be to hire him or her.

- Bal

Edited by IamBalSimon

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However, this Randian renaissance that is erupting is a perfect opportunity to turn folks into thinking for themselves. I will take my chances on a society that is rabidly and foundationally protective of individually rights as its reason for existence. Additionally, built on a severely limited state that can effect almost nothing when it comes to suppressing individual thought and economic activity and basically leaves us alone to think and freely exercise our innate ability to live together.

Adam

Adam,

I heartily endorse this.

Bal,

There's much food for thought in what you've been saying, and a lot of recognition of my own journey, in regard to Rand - or not.

To be very abbreviated, I'd say we (OK, me, at least) need a sense of reality, of how to deal with it: a structure, to start with - from which, each of us is free to find his own road to self-actualization and wisdom.

The fundamental condition lies in Adam's comment above: individual liberty.

It's not something I bring up on OL, but as comparison to the US, the situation in my own country, South Africa, is unraveling.

You use the pendulum metaphor for the USA. I know enough about your nation to understand that for a wealth of reasons - your Constitution, checks and balances in governance, and most crically I think, the American sense of individual self-identity - the pendulum eventually swings back.

Rand's prescience, as you put it, has been demostrated for Americans to see. A bit more of this, a bit less of that, but close enough to be uncomfortably true. One might even say a little over dramatic - but take my word for it, Atlas Shrugged is becoming a nightmareish reality here, that a mind like Rand's could have predicted.

South Africa's 'pendulum' has little to limit its arc, apart from an unreadable and unwieldy Constitution that gives everyone rights to everything, anytime - except personal liberty.

A 'constitution' that can even be over-turned by the State.

The latest to be put up for consideration, is that the State may get to overrule rights to property (obviously aimed at the mining industry, initially).

The Golden Goose has been plucked, and the People will have one good last meal. <_<

What got us to this point - and I am too saddened and angered to go into detail - is entitlement, PCness, irrationality, and (I've just thought of another thread I've been arguing on), empathy. The Nanny State dictates that the majority of citizens gets what it thinks is good for us... how? why? who from? - are mere bagatelles they'll think about later.

In Europe or the US, such 'empathizing' and control from governments has limits. People there have a sense of responsibility and justice, self- limitation.

My country is destructing directly from empathy. 'Empathy', that quite fine human emotion, is resulting in riots, police brutality, and death. Who would have thought it? Our pendulum has swung back to the apartheid era.

That's too much self-catharsis from me!

Ultimately, Rand was more correct than you can believe.

Oh, and welcome to OL! :P

Tony

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Tony,

I grieve when I see people (as in your country) yearning for liberty being trounced by tyranny instead. Political correctness forms the basis of intellectual and then political tyranny for democratic republics. It is the third worst abomination that a people can inflict upon itself. The first two - slavery followed and the internment visited upon American citizens of Japanese heritage during WWII form what may be properly called "hard tyrannies." PC forms a "soft tyranny." It doesn't necessarily break bones and tear flesh, but it does suppress the mind - it distorts intellect and turns provocative thinking and communication into crimes against the state.

I think that America was truly graced by the power of rational thought in the minds and bodies of men like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin. I think in those days, you had a real advocacy of rationality married to the romance of the European Renaissance - at least in some. Such people dared to think that they could form a society based on liberty.

I just saw the movie Atlas Shrugged yesterday afternoon. I love the story. It resonates within me like almost no other story I can think of. Especially when I think of the guy currently occupying the Oval Office, a man who I believe has not a single patriotic bone in his body, and meant what he said when he campaigned that he would "fundamentally transform America." The first time I heard him say this, it sent shivers through my soul. And not pleasant shivers either. And with so many people voting for him, I truly worried that maybe this time, America truly lost its way and that the pendulum was in real danger of being impaled against and then welded to the Leftward wall. Thankfully, enough people came to their senses in 2010 and Obama had his power curtailed. The Founders remained supreme.

A Galt-like strike would be a good thing, in my view, ONLY if enough Americans forget their epistemological heritage which is the Constitution, and the early judiciary ruling by the Supreme Court (Marbury vs. Madison) that the Legislature and the President could not trump that sacred document, and by the willingness of people back then to abide by the judiciary's ruling.

Someone correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe that America is the only country in the world where a national Constitution trumps the legislative and executive powers - at least in theory. If backed by a patriotic and respected judiciary, I suggest it is this framework that reduces the speed of and perhaps even checks the efforts by some who - like Obama - would turn America into the kind of dystopian tyrant-run crumbling society portrayed in Atlas Shrugged.

- Bal

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Bal eloquently wrote:

A Galt-like strike would be a good thing, in my view, ONLY if enough Americans forget their epistemological heritage which is the Constitution, and the early judiciary ruling by the Supreme Court (Marbury vs. Madison) that the Legislature and the President could not trump that sacred document, and by the willingness of people back then to abide by the judiciary's ruling.

Someone correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe that America is the only country in the world where a national Constitution trumps the legislative and executive powers - at least in theory. If backed by a patriotic and respected judiciary, I suggest it is this framework that reduces the speed of and perhaps even checks the efforts by some who - like Obama - would turn America into the kind of dystopian tyrant-run crumbling society portrayed in Atlas Shrugged.

End quote

Well said! I am so glad a true Objectivist has joined our group.

I agree that we can drop out, but we don’t have the means to go on an even literary strike without an Atlantis. We will not forget our constitutional heritage. Nor do I see an armed rebellion brewing. I do see our constitutional system working in 2012.

I may be *projecting* but I see Paul Ryan trying to finish his portion of the budget as quickly as possible. I see Obama “understanding” Mr Ryan’s haste, and Mr Obama will stall as much as possible.

Why? Paul Ryan is going to run in 2012. If I am wrong, then someone approaching Paul Ryan’s caliber will run.

Peter Taylor

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Critique of this political cartoon?

fitz_04_19_incometax_1_t607.JPG

Edited by Selene

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Cute but stupid cartoon - or I should rather say, ignorant and bizarre.

1 - Assuming that the National Taxpayers Union presents accurate data (I have no first-hand data other than that of my own personal situation), then the top 10% of income earners pay nearly 70% of the income tax. http://bit.ly/csK6FU

2 - The cartoon starts with an assumption that the income tax is a legitimate way for the government to collect money. The 16th Amendment made this the Constitutional law of the land, but philosophically, the debate remains open, and huge numbers of people - and not all of them rich - look for ways to repeal that Amendment. But as of today, income tax is owed, and I refer you back to #1.

3 - The cartoon appears to equate "Atlas" with being middle class, and all but says that "the rich" are the parasites. Any honest brokering of ideas in this arena requires acknowledgement that "the rich" are, by and large, NOT the parasites in American society. (I am guessing even in Europe, they're not the parasite class. Just look at the student thugs who broke shop windows when their free (taxpayer-paid, parasitical) ride was threatened.

4 - Wealth is not the same thing as income. There are plenty of "rich people" who don't need any additional money; they need no income. The only way to tax them if they stop earning income is through other taxes (e.g., sales and use taxes, fees, property taxes (including real and personal property), etc. So far, I have not seen anyone proposing a "wealth tax." I'm not sure what "the rich" would do if someone tried to institute a wealth tax. This was done when the czars in Russia were overthrown by the far worse Communists (I say far worse, even while being of Jewish heritage, with my grandparents being forced out of Russia by the czarist pogroms).

5 - I'll say this: if I saw a wealth tax or confiscation coming, I'd be very seriously rethinking whether the meaning of being an American citizen was being "fundamentally transformed" (to use Obama's hackneyed phrase) to the point that I'd seriously consider if it was now time for a new Revolutionary War against a new tyrant. Since there are more than 100,000,000 American adults and since we almost all draw the limiting lines differently, I think it reasonable to suspect that there are thousands, if not millions of Americans who are already past the point of questioning.

6 - I've saved the best for last: we pay enormous levels of taxes already. We are not $14 TRILLION dollars in debt. The Government has not proven that it knows what it's doing with our tax dollars. What I see is a huge effort to pay off the parasite class so that dependencies on government (taxpayer) largess can be strengthened. I see no effort by the Federal government to make people stronger and less dependent on it. It's always more more more. No bang for the buck. My money is not being used wisely. I'm supposed to pay into such a system without griping about it? Without looking for every possible legal means by which I can reduce my "contribution" to such an evil, maniacal, run amok system? I don't think so.

Lastly, though not directly on point: Of late, I've been seeing a number of Leftist billionaires suggesting that millionaires should pay more taxes and that they'd be willing to pay more too. I despise these people because there is nothing stopping any of them from going to http://1.usa.gov/RfKyy and paying more on their own. You want to be fools and give money to an out-of-control Government? Go right ahead.

Of course, as Dennis Miller used to say at the end of his standup routine: I could be wrong. (But I'm not.)

- Bal

Edited by IamBalSimon

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Critique of this political cartoon?

fitz_04_19_incometax_1_t607.JPG

"The rich" should be "the government." Fitz is the local and very liberal Arizona Daily Star cartoonist in Tucson. He lives here.

--Brant

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Mikhail,

Welcome to OL.

What's wrong with a fiction book being fiction?

Are you claiming that just because people are not collectively following a plot device in a fiction work, the individualistic philosophy presented in it is not based on reality?

Isn't that a bit of an oversimplification?

Incidentally, I did go on a one-man strike as a musician. I gave it up even though I was very good at it. This was one of the most excruciating things I have ever done in life.

You should only do something like that if you believe your effort will make some kind of difference. I learned that lesson the hard way. My strike didn't make a difference to anyone but my enemies, who then had a clearer field for them to advance than before.

I now regret doing it.

Notice that Objectivism is not a philosophy of self-sacrifice.

Michael

Can you tell about the strike you attempted?

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Can you tell about the strike you attempted?

Mikhail,

I have written about this over the years, but I'm too busy to dig for it. One day I intend to organize the better things I have written.

I used to work for the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra as first trombonist and assistant conductor to Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho.

I was an upcoming star and, modesty aside, very good at what I did. But one idea kept sticking in my craw: the government paid my wages. A series of things happened and one day I walked off. Nobody could believe it. I threw a brilliant career and future into the garbage.

I made a go of it for a while in pop music and motion pictures (since there was no government involvement). You can get a glimpse of my work back then from a thread here on OL where I posted a few songs I produced (A Few Tracks).

Then, continuing on the "strike" wave inside my mind, I separated from my wife and two sons.

All this broke my heart and I gradually sank into alcoholism, then drug addiction.

Coming out of all that was one hell of a journey. But I made it.

Michael

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Critique of this political cartoon?

I just think it's despicable, because he obviously hasn't read Ayn Rand.

I know enough about the guy to know it'd make no difference. He's a dyed-in-the-wool typical media liberal and too stupid to know any publicity is good publicity unless your name is Fatty Arbuckle.

--Brant

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Can you tell about the strike you attempted?

Mikhail,

I have written about this over the years, but I'm too busy to dig for it. One day I intend to organize the better things I have written.

I used to work for the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra as first trombonist and assistant conductor to Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho.

I was an upcoming star and, modesty aside, very good at what I did. But one idea kept sticking in my craw: the government paid my wages. A series of things happened and one day I walked off. Nobody could believe it. I threw a brilliant career and future into the garbage.

I made a go of it for a while in pop music and motion pictures (since there was no government involvement). You can get a glimpse of my work back then from a thread here on OL where I posted a few songs I produced (A Few Tracks).

Then, continuing on the "strike" wave inside my mind, I separated from my wife and two sons.

All this broke my heart and I gradually sank into alcoholism, then drug addiction.

Coming out of all that was one hell of a journey. But I made it.

Michael

It's not Mikhail, it's sam.

Thanks for writing (sharing?), it's quiet honest.

Do you think that the day you had left, you were better if you had stayed, if someone would put pressure upon you for example, or are you glad "all in all" that you made this journey?

I am asking because I am more or less in a similar situation. I am not doing anything with my life, I am hopelessly unemployed, but I am constantly ruminating how important it is that I do not live on my parents (which I am), or on the government.

It started with me ditching the army, and going to university on my parents' account "because it is more rational to do it, to take money from them during my b.a. Then during the m.a. I will be independent".

The b.a. I didn't finish, more or less reasoned that "my desire to live off my parents was the source of all", but this didn't really help. Since then I am trying to somehow live of myself, but it is more a symbolic live on myself than anything useful.

Then I reasoned that me not going to the IDF is really unfair if I use it's resources. So it seems to me that the best thing for me to do would be to live in the desert...

This is where I come to the beginning of the post - the question. It would really make me happy to try and live in the desert on my own - trying to live according to my ideals somehow. Problem is, it isn't rational in the conventional sense of the wordly-wisdom.

I realize that a better word to describe my attitude towards self-reliance is not reason, but actually faith. As in "faith" in a spiritual ideal, faith in a cause. And it does help one to live according to his faith, and does make one happy. (1) He is at least self-satisfied. (2) He acts according to his reason.

You might wonder how can I call it reason, if it is faith? Well, it is the nature of faith that it poses as reason. When I think it, I really think it.

I also have a mode similar to a "strike" inside my mind. It has to do with religion, and self-sacrifice actually.

It does seem _rational_ not to live on the government. Even though it is faith.

I try to battle with "irrational" concepts day and night, and I just lose time and effort. But following those concepts even though it brings hapiness, and a certain stillness to my mind - I am more intellectual when I am anti-intellectual - is very hard. By "I am more intellectual when I am anti-intellectual" I mean that I have _reasons_ for my fanaticism. If I do not follow these reasons, then I am just stuck in emotionalism, without any chance to get out.

SamR

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Sam,

How rational is it to manufacture a crack pipe, dig up a dope dealer in the combat zone in the wee hours of a dangerous city, get the drug, fire it up and blast your brains to kingdom come for a short time--knowing that this was going to later produce a throbbing excruciating craving like nothing else on earth?

But I did it. Over and over.

So I'm not really the person to tell you what is rational or not when you are young.

At least I can say this.

If I had to do it all over again, would I?

(drum roll...)

HELL NO!!!!

:smile:

But I can give you my opinion.

My intuition, without knowing the specifics of your situation other then the general comments you made, is to tell you to follow your heart. I try not to express myself in Objectivist jargon, so that's why I'm using common language. Your mind is nothing if your heart is not engaged.

What's the point of being correct and rational and all wrapped up in a box if that is making you miserable? I say go off and do whatever you want and don't worry about being rational (for now), so long as you don't hurt innocent people. It's your life. If you do great things with it, that's on you. If you screw it up, that's also on you. And if you want to go live in the desert and check out of society for a spell because that's how you find peace of mind, who is anyone to say you should not?

Here's a present for you. You are using terms like "emotionalism." How about learning what an emotion is first?

There's a wonderful book I recently discovered called Your Brain At Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock. I wish this resource had been available back when I was making all my big mistakes. At this moment, I have stopped everything in my life to finish and internalize it.

Everything.

It is basically neuroscience for the layman who is interested in self-help. It's actually a method for using your brain according to it's innate nature--including the emotions. And Rock bases his advice on mountains of empirical studies.

(Just look at all those Amazon reviews on the link. What's great is that this book is not boring. It really is for normal people.)

Rather than making major decisions in my past based on speculations I read in philosophy books, I would have known (for real) why some things didn't work for me and others did. I'm talking specifically about why I intended so many good things and why I so often screwed them up. Why I hurt people without wanting to. Why I was so frustrated and beat myself up so often. I would have been able to fix so much I didn't understand.

I, also, believe I would have made far, far better decisions than I did. And I don't mean by going along with the established system, either. I have authority issues--to say it politely--and always will. And I like me that way. :smile:

I realize that your problem is not how to become more productive, how to use your brain more productively, but instead, what to do about your angst.

But here's the thing. I believe knowing with certaintly how your brain works, how your brain needs to relate to other people in your life (meaning in what form) and why you need them at all, why fairness is important, why you need to be able to choose and act autonomously, etc., gives you a way to form a vision worth pursuing, one that feels right deep down inside, one you do not borrow from a work of fiction or someone elses dream, one based on what your brain innately wants and seeks.

And that gives you far more hope than looking around wondering what the hell is wrong with you.

Sorry. I'm not trying to be presumptuous, but I've been where you're at. (At least, if it is anything close to what your words convey.)

I cannot recommend this path highly enough. (Note, David Rock is not the only author doing neuroscience for laypeople--but he's the best I have come across.) It even makes learning Objectivism and all the rest so much easier.

And it makes dealing with entangled emotional complications--ones I imagine you are facing--doable. Not easy. That stuff's never easy. But at least doable. Which is a hell of a lot better than doubt and guilt you have to get used to because it comes without bidding and won't go away.

Do you remember the passage in Atlas Shrugged where Dagny wakes up after the plane crash and sees Galt's face? Do you remember what she said? She asked, "We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?"

When I look over my past, all that suffering, knowing what I now know (and am learning), that's exactly how this path makes me feel.

I say give it a shot. The most you could lose is a bit of time.

Anyway, that's my advice for what it's worth. Most of all, be good to yourself. You deserve it.

btw - Here's a video of this author if you are interested. It's almost an hour long, so sit back and settle in. It's pretty good as it is, but there's even better stuff in the book. A lot of it.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/XeJSXfXep4M?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Michael

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Can you tell about the strike you attempted?

Mikhail,

I have written about this over the years, but I'm too busy to dig for it. One day I intend to organize the better things I have written.

I used to work for the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra as first trombonist and assistant conductor to Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho.

I was an upcoming star and, modesty aside, very good at what I did. But one idea kept sticking in my craw: the government paid my wages. A series of things happened and one day I walked off. Nobody could believe it. I threw a brilliant career and future into the garbage.

I made a go of it for a while in pop music and motion pictures (since there was no government involvement). You can get a glimpse of my work back then from a thread here on OL where I posted a few songs I produced (A Few Tracks).

Then, continuing on the "strike" wave inside my mind, I separated from my wife and two sons.

All this broke my heart and I gradually sank into alcoholism, then drug addiction.

Coming out of all that was one hell of a journey. But I made it.

Michael

It's not Mikhail, it's sam.

Thanks for writing (sharing?), it's quiet honest.

Do you think that the day you had left, you were better if you had stayed, if someone would put pressure upon you for example, or are you glad "all in all" that you made this journey?

I am asking because I am more or less in a similar situation. I am not doing anything with my life, I am hopelessly unemployed, but I am constantly ruminating how important it is that I do not live on my parents (which I am), or on the government.

It started with me ditching the army, and going to university on my parents' account "because it is more rational to do it, to take money from them during my b.a. Then during the m.a. I will be independent".

The b.a. I didn't finish, more or less reasoned that "my desire to live off my parents was the source of all", but this didn't really help. Since then I am trying to somehow live of myself, but it is more a symbolic live on myself than anything useful.

Then I reasoned that me not going to the IDF is really unfair if I use it's resources. So it seems to me that the best thing for me to do would be to live in the desert...

This is where I come to the beginning of the post - the question. It would really make me happy to try and live in the desert on my own - trying to live according to my ideals somehow. Problem is, it isn't rational in the conventional sense of the wordly-wisdom.

I realize that a better word to describe my attitude towards self-reliance is not reason, but actually faith. As in "faith" in a spiritual ideal, faith in a cause. And it does help one to live according to his faith, and does make one happy. (1) He is at least self-satisfied. (2) He acts according to his reason.

You might wonder how can I call it reason, if it is faith? Well, it is the nature of faith that it poses as reason. When I think it, I really think it.

I also have a mode similar to a "strike" inside my mind. It has to do with religion, and self-sacrifice actually.

It does seem _rational_ not to live on the government. Even though it is faith.

I try to battle with "irrational" concepts day and night, and I just lose time and effort. But following those concepts even though it brings hapiness, and a certain stillness to my mind - I am more intellectual when I am anti-intellectual - is very hard. By "I am more intellectual when I am anti-intellectual" I mean that I have _reasons_ for my fanaticism. If I do not follow these reasons, then I am just stuck in emotionalism, without any chance to get out.

SamR

Start doing volunteer work--a lot of it. Get off your ass and get out of the house. You are constantly rationalizing yourself into passivity.

Make a list of things you can do every day that you would not usually do that would benefit yourself or someone else. Do those things one at a time. Check them off. Come up with harder things to do.

Look into the mirror every day and SEE yourself. Say and slowly repeat ten times, "My name is Sam ____________, and I like myself." Why? Because you really do like yourself, it's just you've let others' bs, real or made up by you, get between yourself and your unconscious estimation. Maybe. I don't actually know, of course.

--Brant

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Sam,

Here's another David Rock video (from a TED talk) I just came across. It is shorter than the first one. I believe it is more interesting as an introduction to using a neuroscience perspective in figuring out what to do in life and where to fit in.

Rock talks about provocation and how to become a provocateur. (Man, do I identify with that. :smile: )

btw - The SCARF model he goes through (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness) is an actual value system. Human values.

But it is not drawn from ethics like you get in philosophy. This is a group of tested regions of the brain's limbic area according to the threat/reward response as measured on fMRI scans.

If you want to feel good about something in life and create a lasting vision you can commit to, I believe you have to find a way to cover those areas with positive feelings when you think about the vision. This is how to fit ethics and purpose in life to the way your brain is made.

Want to find an injustice in the world and become a provocateur to change it? Check out the video for a start. Provocateuring sounds like a very good element to include in such a vision to me. And you don't have to allow yourself to get seduced by power and conceit to do that (like certain petty guru wannabes here in O-Land).

You really can make a difference improving the world and you can have a blast doing it.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/VaTox-FuFx8?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I do hope you watch these videos and look at Rock's material. But if you don't that's cool. Your life is yours. You have to decide when and where to use it (and live it). Like I said, the desert sounds find to me from where you sit. It just might be the critical thing you need at this point in your life.

Anyway, I'm having a great time digging this stuff up and presenting it to OL readers. That's a cool little reward for me in and of itself.

Michael

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