Francisco Ferrer

Did Marx Teach Rand How to Think About Capitalism?

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FF,

Whatever.

Enjoy your la-la-land.

I'm not going to take your comments seriously because I think you are not interested in ideas, but instead in nitpicking so you can play gotcha and win win win! any nitpick you can invent.

You're doing that competition shit I hate in discussing ideas. There's no value in this for me.

Sorry I wasted your time because you sure as hell wasted mine.

Michael

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But on one point we can now be sure: Rand is not the originator of the philosophical relationship between egoism and capitalism.

Maybe, but so what? Is it a race to ideas? Even if you're right, she turned Marx upside down and back to front, and pointed to the highest morality where he judged with disdain.

"She could not have written VoS until she had developed her theory of rights..."

I counter your unfounded asserveration with my own: Yes, she could.

Whichever order they were written (I don't know offhand) government, capitalism, etc. is NOT the base for ethics, epistemology and metaphysics. Flip them round. You haven't suggested plagiarism on Rand's part; but you have suggested derivation - again, so what? No mind or person exists totally in a vacuum, but all indications are she possessed a very rare mind independence.

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Original to Rand: a vertically integrated tried to be practical accessible for living on earth philosophy called Objectivism:

politics

ethics-morality

epistemology

metaphysics

All these as parts and pieces preceded her. She swept them up making some real general sense out of them. This put her completely outside academic philosophy and the academics had no toleration for her and her ideas as presented, which I suspect is why Sydney Hook blackballed Leonard Peikoff. You see, what the academics were about had nothing to do with hoi polloi, but brain elites bouncing their balls back and forth amongst themselves.

--Brant

when the universities and colleges get cut down to size, it will all come in a rush as current reality gets body-slammed by debt, economics and technology

Rand originated Objectivism, which borrows heavily from other philosophers. She did not originate a comprehensive all-in-one intellectual framework. The Marxists beat her on that by about a century.

Rand's rejection by the university elite is largely political--but not entirely. Part of being taken seriously in academia is following certain protocols, including presenting one's discoveries in the context of existing scholarship and going through a process of peer review.

Rand's angry reaction in 1962 to having her views questioned by John Hospers at Harvard, where she gave a talk on "Art as Sense of Life" to the American Society for Aesthetics explains much about why Objectivism did not make headway in university philosophy departments.

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I think there was one Nietzsche quote deleted from The Fountainhead at the beginning of the novel: "The noble soul has reverence for itself."

Brant,

There was only one that Rand mentioned in her Introduction to the 25th edition of The Fountainhead, but I suspect there were others. As her edits to We The Living show, she was perfectly comfortable in removing Nietzschean substance from a passage and calling it a matter of style.

This has been a sore point with people who worship Rand ever since it was pointed out.

Anyway, I am convinced Rand was greatly influenced by Nietzsche--it's all over her early writing and even in her attitude toward the sadistic girl-killer Hickman whose court-room posture she admired. I don't think it's fruitful for me (since I value my time) to discuss all the nitpicks about Rand and Nietzsche just to prove or disprove theories that do not correspond to common sense, much less reality.

I do have an interest in reading Nietzsche, though, to see if his bashing of Kant is the same as Rand's.

My true interest is discovering Rand's literary methods. Merrill was extremely enlightening in his breakdown of what a Nietzschean hero looks like, how Rand portrayed that archetype, and why the heroes she cast in that mold--Faulkner, Leo, Dawes, Wynand--had to end in tragedy. Their character arcs are different than the arcs of her more Objectivist-like heroes.

According to Merrill, one strong element of Nietzsche's thinking is that there is no integrity in the masses. Once a Nietzschean master has dominated all those he has to dominate, there is no place for him in the world except with the masses, so he has to die to keep the story from fizzling (or in Leo's case, become totally corrupted, i.e., spiritually dying).

There is no Randian-Nietzschean hero who enjoys a happy ending.

Granted, Kira, who is not Nietzschean, died in the end, but she died on her own terms and she was going somewhere she could thrive. Rand's point was that collectivism crushes even the best. I think that's clear without nitpicking.

Here's an example of why the tragedy for the Randian-Nietzschean hero. Merrill asks what could Faulkner do if he got away with his caper and took off with the loot? Go to South America and live in hiding until the money ran out? He, who was characterized as holding a whip over the world. That wouldn't work.

There are similar observations with different particulars for the others.

For my purposes, the Randian-Nietzschean hero makes a hell of an archetype for any budding fiction writer who wants to write in a Randian style. He is a great foil for a pure Randian hero.

That is my interest--not proving Rand was only influenced by Aristotle, got her idea of egoism in capitalism from Marx, or whatever other boneheaded theory people want to argue about.

I think there's a damn good reason most fiction attempted in a Randian style misses the mark. People argue and nitpick about this crap instead of analyzing her work in a manner they can abstract the principles she used and actually use them in their own works.

Michael

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"She could not have written VoS until she had developed her theory of rights..."

I counter your unfounded asserveration with my own: Yes, she could.

Whichever order they were written (I don't know offhand) government, capitalism, etc. is NOT the base for ethics, epistemology and metaphysics. Flip them round. You haven't suggested plagiarism on Rand's part; but you have suggested derivation - again, so what? No mind exists in a vacuum, but all indications are she possessed a rare independence.

No one here has said that "government, capitalism etc." is "the base for ethics, epistemology and metaphysics.".

It took Rand two years to write Galt's speech alone. If in his speech there were no fundamentally new ideas to her, they certainly do not appear in her work before this period.

If, as you claim, Rand could have written The Virtue of Selfishness 50 years earlier than its publication date or at least before Atlas, all you have to do is show that Rand's major ideas in the book (expressed in "The Objectivist Ethics," Man's Rights," "The Nature of Government") were all intact and ready for the world to see years earlier. It should be a simple matter for you to provide references to these fully realized theories in Rand's papers written many years before the ideas were first published The Objectivist Newslatter, 1962-1965.

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There are 12 listings in the Index of 'Letters of Ayn Rand' of Aristotle, from 1945 to 1963.

The first is in a letter to Isabel Paterson:

Just to balance the ledger, :smile: I checked on references to Marx in LoAR. There are five, between 1944 and 1950.

A "Mr Loeb" got roasted in the first:

"Don't let yourself fall for that awful nonsense of Karl Marx about economics determining human nature. They don't. Neither in general historical events--nor in specific human instances. Economic position affects only the form, the surface details of a person.....NOT his essence as a human being. [...]" Aug. 1944

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FF: way too pedantic. Of course AR didn't write her books until she wrote them but the ideas behind them were firmly in her mind from a long time. You are saying to AR, in effect, "you didn't build that", paraphrasing BO, which I don't think you would mean to do, in your right mind anyway.

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Michael, I have to give Rand a pass on Hickman for several reasons, the only important one, since she's dead, is I can't think straight with Hickman and what he did and actually was thrown into the mix. It's like a reductio ad absurdum on everything she wrote tearing out the base. The more mature she became the more she got rid of the Nietzschean crap however much of Nietzsche she took to her grave. She likely forgot she ever wrote about Hickman--much less leaving as a legacy in her papers what ought to have been thrown away.

--Brant

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FF: way too pedantic. Of course AR didn't write her books until she wrote them but the ideas behind them were firmly in her mind from a long time. You are saying to AR, in effect, "you didn't build that", paraphrasing BO, which I don't think you would mean to do, in your right mind anyway.

That's precisely the question this thread is dealing with. How long were they in her mind?

Clearly, Rand's views evolved over time. There were major changes in her thinking from 1936 to 1959--thus, the key revisions in We the Living discussed above in the Seddon review. The fact that Rand denied making any changes in the novel's philosophical content represents an attempt to portray all her works as fully compatible with the philosophy of Objectivism, circa 1960. The Brandens' hagiographic Who Is Ayn Rand? published in 1962 and since renounced by both authors, was also a part of this propaganda.

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The more mature she became the more she got rid of the Nietzschean crap however much of Nietzsche she took to her grave.

Brant,

The more I learn about Nietzsche, the more I think people oversimplify him. Merrill says flat out that Rand got her sense-of-life from Nietzsche. Rand practically admits this, too.

In my view, Rand jettisoned the crap in Nietzsche, some early on and more much later, but kept the gold.

I realize Hickman gives Rand people headaches, but there is no way to rationalize him out of existence. :)I think Rand's Nietzschean influence makes perfect sense as the reason for her admiration of his court-room demeanor. In my mind, it even absolves her from not seeing how the barbarism made this person an icky role-model for a hero. In Nietzsche's view (as I understand it right now), the superman, who is the next stage of evolution in humanity, does not have to concern himself with the morality of the masses. He has to invent his own. That is in perfect harmony with Rand's notes about Hickman.

Hell, that evolution part even ties into her essay at the end of her life, "The Missing Link," where she proposed an anti-conceptual mentality for what was essentially the masses or common folks to Nietzsche.

Michael

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Michael, it's true some things keep me from thinking straight just as humor about ISIS simply shuts me down. That might make me something of what Rand called an "emotionalist."

--Brant

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"She could not have written VoS until she had developed her theory of rights..."

I counter your unfounded asserveration with my own: Yes, she could.

Whichever order they were written (I don't know offhand) government, capitalism, etc. is NOT the base for ethics, epistemology and metaphysics. Flip them round. You haven't suggested plagiarism on Rand's part; but you have suggested derivation - again, so what? No mind exists in a vacuum, but all indications are she possessed a rare independence.

No one here has said that "government, capitalism etc." is "the base for ethics, epistemology and metaphysics.".

It took Rand two years to write Galt's speech alone. If in his speech there were no fundamentally new ideas to her, they certainly do not appear in her work before this period.

If, as you claim, Rand could have written The Virtue of Selfishness 50 years earlier than its publication date or at least before Atlas, all you have to do is show that Rand's major ideas in the book (expressed in "The Objectivist Ethics," Man's Rights," "The Nature of Government") were all intact and ready for the world to see years earlier. It should be a simple matter for you to provide references to these fully realized theories in Rand's papers written many years before the ideas were first published The Objectivist Newslatter, 1962-1965.

"...they certainly do not appear in her work before this period."

The error is in presuming her THOUGHTS could not be IN HER MIND before that period. You asserted "couldn't" - I asserted "could". Scholars could solve it for us, but in the meantime neither of us is a mind reader.

The order something is published is not -necessarily- the order it is thought about.

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From Stephen Hicks's excellent comparison of Rand and Nietzsche:

Speaking well of the noble races of the past, Nietzsche
explains their accomplishments this way: “One cannot fail to see at
the bottom of all these noble races the beast of prey, the splendid
blond beast, prowling about avidly in search of spoil and victory; this
hidden core needs to erupt from time to time, the animal has to get
out again and go back to the wilderness” (GM, I).


About slavery, Nietzsche says that a healthy aristocracy “accepts
with a good conscience the sacrifice of untold human beings, who, for
its sake, must be reduced and lowered to incomplete human beings,
to slaves, to instruments” (BGE, 258).


About war, Nietzsche says, “One must learn from war: … one
must learn to sacrifice many and to take one’s cause seriously enough
not to spare men” (WP, 982).


And about violence in general, Nietzsche says, approvingly, “The
beginnings of everything great on earth [are] soaked in blood
thoroughly and for a long time” (GM, II:6).


Remarks such as these should give pause to any identification of
Rand’s views with Nietzsche’s . . .

And yet we can see this very mode of thinking in the Kira of the 1936 WTL.

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"...they certainly do not appear in her work before this period."

The error is in presuming her THOUGHTS could not be IN HER MIND before that period. You asserted "couldn't" - I asserted "could". Scholars could solve it for us, but in the meantime neither of us is a mind reader.

The order something is published is not -necessarily- the order it is thought about.

I am not presuming that a fully developed theory of rational ethics and capitalism was not or could not be in Rand's mind in the decade or decades before they were published. What I am stating is that if you wish to argue that it was, the onus is on you to show it.

If there is evidence that Rand had a theory of individual rights and limited government prior to the 1940's, let's take a look at it.

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I haven't read a lot of Nietzsche yet. I tried to digest Thus Spoke Zarathustra when I was in high-school, but that didn't work out too well. :smile:

Michael

MSK: With what you know now, I believe you'd find it a great experience. I think the trick is to read TSZ quickly through, as though it's an extended poem, or a fabulous fable. And to ignore everything else about philosophy for the time being. I too thought I'd battle with it until I bought a copy 4-5 years ago, and found I couldn't put it down. I believe if little else, Rand recalled his exaltation (minus his despair).

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"...they certainly do not appear in her work before this period."

The error is in presuming her THOUGHTS could not be IN HER MIND before that period. You asserted "couldn't" - I asserted "could". Scholars could solve it for us, but in the meantime neither of us is a mind reader.

The order something is published is not -necessarily- the order it is thought about.

I am not presuming that a fully developed theory of rational ethics and capitalism was not or could not be in Rand's mind in the decade or decades before they were published. What I am stating is that if you wish to argue that it was, the onus is on you to show it.

If there is evidence that Rand had a theory of individual rights and limited government prior to the 1940's, let's take a look at it.

"...a fully developed theory" in Rand's mind, decades earlier? Of course I don't propose that, and haven't. The contrary. Implicitly, in mentioning her fundamental independence as a ("volitional") thinker, from Marx et al, my premise has been that it took time and effort to come up with those final concepts. But certainly the grains of the ideas were there. Perhaps she still had to finalize the reasoned connection from egoism to capitalism and rights - but enough conjecture.

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"...a fully developed theory" in Rand's mind, decades earlier? Of course I don't propose that, and haven't. The contrary. Implicitly, in mentioning her fundamental independence as a ("volitional") thinker, from Marx et al, my premise has been that it took time and effort to come up with those final concepts. But certainly the grains of the ideas were there. Perhaps she still had to finalize the reasoned connection from egoism to capitalism and rights - but enough conjecture.

If I am not mistaken, in Post #52 to counter my statement that Rand "could not have written The Virtue of Selfishness until she had developed her theory of rights," you wrote, "Yes, she could."

So she could have written a book that sets forth a detailed philosophical basis for rational ethics, rights, and limited government--and just left out the detailed philosophical basis for rational ethics, rights, and limited government?

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Rand originated Objectivism, which borrows heavily from other philosophers. She did not originate a comprehensive all-in-one intellectual framework. The Marxists beat her on that by about a century.

There is something important here, FF. Not so much the "borrowing from", but more the 'rejection of' prevailing ideas.

(Ellen Stuttle came up with a name once, something like "conceptual opposition" - I don't remember).

I think one can develop a philosophy as much from identifying bad, old ideas with bad consequences, as in creating new and good ones. Iow, you see what doesn't work, you work out why, identify the idea's moral premise, and then swing right round to its extreme, polar opposite.

Marxism is an easy example, economically and ethically, of how observing the bad in it can lead to the good (capitalism and rational egoism). Advisedly, with constant reference to the realities, of course.

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"...a fully developed theory" in Rand's mind, decades earlier? Of course I don't propose that, and haven't. The contrary. Implicitly, in mentioning her fundamental independence as a ("volitional") thinker, from Marx et al, my premise has been that it took time and effort to come up with those final concepts. But certainly the grains of the ideas were there. Perhaps she still had to finalize the reasoned connection from egoism to capitalism and rights - but enough conjecture.

If I am not mistaken, in Post #52 to counter my statement that Rand "could not have written The Virtue of Selfishness until she had developed her theory of rights," you wrote, "Yes, she could."

So she could have written a book that sets forth a detailed philosophical basis for rational ethics, rights, and limited government--and just left out the detailed philosophical basis for rational ethics, rights, and limited government?

The core of The Virtue of Selfishness is the essay The Objectivist Ethics. The book is a collection of essays. The fact that her other essays are included does not indicate anything about her order of thinking, but it does about her order of priority.

Why could she not have written her ethics before her theory of rights? conceptually, the latter depends on the former.

Again, you must know what I meant, and are being picky.

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There is something important here, FF. Not so much the "borrowing from", but more the 'rejection of' prevailing ideas.

(Ellen Stuttle came up with a name once, something like "conceptual opposition" - I don't remember).

I think one can develop a philosophy as much from identifying bad, old ideas with bad consequences, as in creating new and good ones. Iow, you see what doesn't work, you work out why, identify the idea's moral premise, and then swing right round to its extreme, polar opposite.

Marxism is an easy example, economically and ethically, of how observing the bad in it can lead to the good (capitalism and rational egoism). Advisedly, with constant reference to the realities, of course.

Ayn Rand's theory of rights is not identical with John Locke's, but there is enough similarity for Rand to have at least acknowledged what Locke originated and shown where she departed from him. (I, for one, don't see how his theory is in error.) In the same manner she could have addressed previous theories of egoism (Stirner, Nietzsche) and made clear how her theory of self-interest and capitalism differs from Adam Smith's.

Such acknowledgements were never made because they would have undermined the cultivated image of Rand as a thinker whose only debt was to a Greek who died in 322 BC.

.

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The core of The Virtue of Selfishness is the essay The Objectivist Ethics. The book is a collection of essays. The fact that her other essays are included does not indicate anything about her order of thinking, but it does about her order of priority.

Why could she not have written her ethics before her theory of rights? conceptually, the latter depends on the former.

Again, you must know what I meant, and are being picky.

Marotta has suggested Rand could have written The Virtue of Selfishness "50 years earlier than she did." You seem to agree.

Fine, where is the evidence that she had either a system of ethics or a theory or rights in the years prior to the writing of Atlas? In The Fountainhead and Anthem she demonstrated a strong appreciation of individualism and the unique importance of a few gifted creators among the masses. But such an appreciation is not equivalent to a system of ethics, rights and capitalism.

It appears that a great deal of groundwork had to be done in the 14 years before Atlas hit the book stalls. Objectivism was still evolving during the 1950's. There was not yet a system.

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First Rand had to sit at the feet of Paterson, then read Aristotle (1945?). Then she gave a more mature expression to her philosophy. The best way to figure her back then at the end of WWII might be to reread her "Textbook of Americanism" (sp?).

Seabury wrote a popular book in the 1930s called The Art of Selfishness. Just seeing that title could have gotten Rand going that way. I recommend the book, BTW. (I think the picture of the yet to be constructed "Fallingwater" on the cover of Time magazine may have inspired her description of the old, abandoned home the protagonist retreated to with his woman in Anthem.)

--Brant

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Yes, you're right. June 1945 seems to be when, under Paterson's influence, she bought a thick volume of Aristotle's works and began to read it in order to provide a foundation for the defense of individualism from "the first axioms of existence." In addition to early notes for Atlas ("The Strike"), she was working a non-fiction piece entitled "The Moral Basis of Individualism." It would appear then that her first post-Aristotelian work of fiction was Atlas. See Jennifer Burns, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, p. 111.

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There is something important here, FF. Not so much the "borrowing from", but more the 'rejection of' prevailing ideas.

(Ellen Stuttle came up with a name once, something like "conceptual opposition" - I don't remember).

I think one can develop a philosophy as much from identifying bad, old ideas with bad consequences, as in creating new and good ones. Iow, you see what doesn't work, you work out why, identify the idea's moral premise, and then swing right round to its extreme, polar opposite.

Marxism is an easy example, economically and ethically, of how observing the bad in it can lead to the good (capitalism and rational egoism). Advisedly, with constant reference to the realities, of course.

Ayn Rand's theory of rights is not identical with John Locke's, but there is enough similarity for Rand to have at least acknowledged what Locke originated and shown where she departed from him. (I, for one, don't see how his theory is in error.) In the same manner she could have addressed previous theories of egoism (Stirner, Nietzsche) and made clear how her theory of self-interest and capitalism differs from Adam Smith's.

Such acknowledgements were never made because they would have undermined the cultivated image of Rand as a thinker whose only debt was to a Greek who died in 322 BC.

.

FF:

I do not see what your point is with this post.

Precisely what are the distinctions that you perceive between Ayn and John?

Secondly, can you express it without denigrating either of them?

I'd appreciate that.

A...

trying to be the "Good Sheppard"

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More on unacknowledged debts:

[isabel] Paterson's most significant libertarian disciple was Ayn Rand,·who acknowledged intellectual debts to no one but Aristotle. Nonetheless, Rand told Paterson in a letter that "you ·were the very first person to see how Capitalism works in specific application. That is your achieve­ment, which I consider a historical achievement of the first impor­tance . . . I learned from you the historic and economic aspects of Capitalism, which I knew before only in a general way, in the way of general principles ." In a rhetorical gesture that readers of The Fountainhead will understand as having deep emotional significance, Rand inscribed a copy of the novel to Paterson, "You have been the one en­counter in my life can can never be repeated ." --Brian Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, p. 122

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