A One Drachma Course in Objectivism.
     The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.
                                                                                                                             — H. L. Mencken

    In the opening of Plato’s Cratylus, which deals with the question of whether there is a certain naturalness or rightness in the names of persons and things (or whether such names are purely arbitrary and conventional), Socrates is asked to join an ongoing conversation, and further asked whether he knows the answer to this question. Socrates, in his own inimitable style of humor and wit, explains that the sophist Prodicus offers a fifty drachma course of lectures which guarantees a complete education on the subject. But not being wealthy, Socrates explains that he was only able to take Prodicus’ one drachma course, and thus did not know the truth about such matters. The exact same principle applies to this one-drachma course in Objectivism. It will not measure up to what you could get for a few hundred dollars (which I imagine to be roughly the equivalent of 50 drachmas) at the Ayn Rand Institute; but then again, you will not risk being condemned to Objectivist Hell, tormented for all eternity with a barrage of condemnations by the ghost of Ayn Rand, for asking the “wrong” kind of question at an ARI seminar. I say this because according to reports, certain questions are quite capable of proving you to be, for example, a part of the “context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement,” to have “stolen a concept” that isn’t yours, or even to be a closet social metaphysician. You’re beneath contempt if you’re any one of these, and no self-respecting student of Objectivism would give you the time of day (lest he or she be found guilty of the same kind of immorality by mere association with you).

    Some readers will already have some knowledge of Rand and Objectivism, many having read one or more of her novels as teenagers. Some old movie buffs will have seen the movie version of Rand’s earlier novel The Fountainhead starring, Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. Still others will have had no prior direct exposure to Rand or any of her ideas, other than perhaps an unpleasant personal encounter or two with one or more of Ayn Rand’s truest believers some time in the distant past. In any case, I believe that this brief One Drachma Course in Objectivism, consisting in 25 of the major tenets, will put everyone on a more or less even plane. To be quite honest, there’s really not all that much to it, it’s not very difficult, and a one drachma course is about all it warrants. These tenets are mostly based on writings of Rand herself, but a few are my paraphrases of published remarks of the heir to the Rand Literary estate, and founder of the Ayn Rand Institute, Dr. Leonard Peikoff. A former associate of Rand’s, Nathaniel Branden, who had a major break with Rand in 1969, has since published a detailed account of his years of association with Ayn Rand and other members of her inner circle. Also, in more recent years, he has  published his own list of basic tenets of Objectivism which differs with the list below in some significant and important respects. I would argue, nonetheless, that the list below is representative of the true, orthodox, Objectivism of Ayn Rand. Branden’s and other “protestant reformations” of Objectivism are but desperate attempts to fix the hopelessly flawed, with which I shall deal briefly later in the book. Basically however, as far we are concerned here, “Objectivism” refers to the work of Ayn Rand exclusively. With the death of Rand, “Objectivism” became cast in stone. Attempts by others to rescue it from its own internal contradictions, such as Leonard Peikoff’s attempt to redefine the English word “identity” in such a way as to make Rand’s use of the word less problematic for Objectivism are not worthy of serious consideration. Even Rand herself couldn’t have claimed the right to rescue old arguments by redefining common English words, virtually beyond recognition, years after the fact. It would be a great trick many people would use if it worked, but it doesn’t.
    1. The entire philosophy of Objectivism is based upon Aristotle’s Law of Identity which says “A is A” or equivalently that “existence exists.”

    2. Objectivism, put into action, is a socio-economic system in which each person in the world pursues his own “rational self interest.” Such a system guarantees unlimited prosperity and happiness for all of mankind, although such universal happiness and prosperity are mere secondary effects, and definitely not its ultimate justification. Said ultimate justification is its consistency with nature and the facts of reality, and the axiom that “existence exists.”
    3. An ethics based on the principle of “rational self interest,” by the very definition of the term “rational,” guarantees that each person will treat all other persons fairly. But again, this is a mere second order effect, and not the primary justification of either Objectivism or the principle of rational self interest. The ultimate justification is, again, consistency with nature, the facts of reality, and the axiom which says “existence exists.”
    4. All “ought” statements are derivable from factual “is” statements. What a living being is, therefore, determines what it ought to do. For this reason, the entire Objectivist Ethics is directly derivable from the facts of reality. Therefore, to deny the Objectivist Ethics is to deny reality, and to say “existence does not exist,” “A is non-A,” and “man is not man.” To do such is the ultimate moral failing. Persons who do such are, thus, by a simple logical inference, morally depraved.
    5. The only political system which can possibly allow all the world’s people to act on the principle of “rational self interest,” and therefore, for all of the world’s people to in turn be treated justly and fairly (i.e., rationally), is a system of pure capitalism.
    6. A “pure” or “true” capitalist system is one of Laissez Faire capitalism, whereby government does nothing to regulate or interfere with standard business practices, or with the principles of free trade. The sole purpose of government, insofar as trade and commerce are concerned, is to prevent the initiation of the use of physical force by any of the participants in such commerce and trade (including workers). In order to perform this function, government is required to maintain a monopoly on the retaliatory of the use of physical force.
    7. Whether Laissez Faire capitalism provides universal prosperity and justice for all or not, it is the only morally justified system conceivable, because it is the only one derived from the axioms “A is A,” “existence exists,” and the facts of reality.
    8. The businessman/financier is the true “producer” in society. Persons frequently referred to as workers are mere accessories to the productive work of the businessman, who ultimately produces all of the world’s goods. A worker or group of workers without a businessman and without financial backing is essentially capable of producing nothing. Without the businessman to provide him a job, a worker, however talented, and however skillful, will remain jobless and ultimately become homeless— and justly so. For this reason, workers have no right to “force” or require their employers to do anything. The rational thing for them to do is to quit their jobs if they are dissatisfied in any significant way.
    9. The fundamental ethical principle of all human interrelationships is free trade.
    10. Free trade is a fundamental and inalienable human right; free trade and a free mind go hand in hand. Therefore, unless the world’s businessmen/financiers are allowed to conduct their business as they see fit, without government interference, and without labor unions, none of the world’s people can be truly free.
    10. It is impossible for any rational thinking person to fail to see the truth of Miss Rand’s ideas about capitalism, about ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology (once they have read Miss Rand’s works). Anyone who disagrees with Miss Rand is either irrational, a “mystic” witch doctor, an “Attila,” or simply a person who does not think at all. All such persons who would disagree with Miss Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism must be condemned, dismissed and ignored by all moral and rational people. They are not even worth the trouble of debating.
    12. All science, properly so called, must conform to the principles of Objectivist metaphysics. Any science which does not, including much of modern theoretical physics, is misguided at best, an irrational “cheap fraud” at worst.
    13. Objectivism is the only philosophy which consistently promotes life on this planet. Therefore, all persons who oppose Objectivism are anti-rational, anti-Man, and anti-life.
    14. Physical objects in the world exist exactly as one perceives them because existence is identity, and consciousness is identification.
    15. Ethically speaking, all rational persons are rational egoists. All such rational egoists are self-made, and entirely independent of other members of the society in which they live. Each individual must take his own good as prior to the good of the world and society at large.
    16. Reality is a collection of “facts” which are eternal, irresistible, and unchanging. This collection of facts is synonymous with what is called “the facts of reality.”
    17. Objectivism is the only philosophy which is entirely consistent with the facts of reality. All other philosophies are unfaithful to said facts of reality, and should be scorned and dismissed, with the exception of Aristotle who was the proto-Objectivist.
    18. The facts of reality, known to the rational thinking mind, are independent of consciousness. However, the inquiring mind (so long as it is guided by the principles of Objectivist metaphysics) can come to know these through sense perception and consistent use of the laws of logic.

    19. Knowledge, properly so called, is completely independent of opinion or personal perspective.
    20. Objectivism provides a “scientific code of morality” which is implemented by the institution of Laissez Faire Capitalism on a global scale.
    21. Monopolies and oligopolies are a theoretical impossibility under unregulated Laissez Faire capitalism. As soon as such a monopoly or oligopoly might hypothetically come into existence, and it or they tried to use their status to advantage, a new competitor would immediately appear offering the marketplace a more attractive alternative.
    22. Corporations have an inalienable right to engage in “free trade” amongst each other, as well as with individuals. It is immoral and irrational for nations to enact laws limiting free trade and commerce for purposes of promoting higher wages and better living conditions for its workers.
    23. Corporations have an inalienable moral right (the duty to themselves, no less) to pay the lowest possible wages to its workers, and have no duties whatsoever to its workers with respect to working conditions, so long as its workers are free to quite their jobs at any time.
    24. Duty (the assumed moral necessity of acting or not acting in such as way as to fulfill the permanent dictates of conscience, piety, right, or law) is not a valid concept; it is, on the contrary, and anti-concept. In advocating duty, persons known as mystics destroy reason, destroy values, and destroy love. Thus, there is no duty to treat other persons (still less, animals) in any way other what suits ones own ends.
    25. A truly rational person will swear  not to live for the sake of another person, nor ask another person to live for his. Although, this is exactly what every "good" capitalist does: his employees live to work for him, and his customers live so they can buy his products. But no worries. Since duty is an utterly irrational notion, there is no consequent duty to abide by this or anything else one might swear to.

    This, in a nutshell, is it. This in essence is what Rand’s most devoted followers have claimed is the greatest philosophical advance since Aristotle— if not in the entire history of thought. Objectivists claim that all of these tenets are ultimately based upon the laws of logic and “the facts of reality,” and can be apprehended as indubitably true by any thinking mind. Conversely, any mind that fails to see them is a mind that is irrational, or in one way or another, by defect or deliberate choice, non-functioning. My own view, of course, is that in reality, Objectivism is the very opposite of virtually everything that it purports to be. As such, I will argue later that Objectivism is nothing more than a contradiction riddled philosophy of nihilism, and that if Miss Rand’s “ideal” of capitalism were ever realized, it would be the heralding of a new Dark Ages, far bleaker and darker than the Dark Ages of old because the new corporate rulers would have far more power than any 10th century pope ever dreamed of. They would have the technological means at their disposal to manipulate, control, or if it suited them, eliminate billions of people quite literally with the click of a mouse button.