Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The theme tonight is ‘Sacrifice’ [updated]

The artistic theme tonight is the morality of sacrifice—of which,I am not a fan.


The video linked above begins the theme.  Its an excerpt from “John Galt’s Speech,” by Ayn Rand, given visual form as part of an ongoing project by YouTube user GaltSpeaking. (Embedding of the video is disallowed, so click here or on the pic above to watch it.)  Appropriately, perhaps, it’s Episode 14. Consider it.

126582479-M The sculpture by Australian artist Rayner Hoff is called ‘Sacrifice.’  Few twentieth-century sculptures celebrate the morality of sacrifice more nobly. More starkly. More appropriately.


Under a morality of sacrifice, the standard of value is not your own happiness, but that of others.  Not your own prosperity, but that of others.  Not your own life, but those of others. (As W.H Auden sarcastically summarises, “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I can’t imagine.”)

The result of all this sacrifice amounts to a row of zeroes; or as the excerpt from Galt’s Speech linked above points out:

"Under a morality of sacrifice, the first value you sacrifice is morality…"

Think about it.

In the meantime, and as an antidote, let’s talk about happiness. “What else could be more important?”


  1. Rand: "The pursuit of happiness means a man's right to set his own goals, to choose his values, and to achieve them. Happiness means that state of consciousness which comes from the achievement of your values."

    That sounds pretty reasonable to me. But wait, there's more.

    Rand, next sentence: "But happiness does not mean simply momentary pleasure."

    Wait a minute - I thought I got to choose my own values.

    Wrong! Rand decides: "Happiness means a profoud, guiltless, rational feeling of self-esteem and of pride in one's own achievements. It means the enjoyment of life which is possible only to the rational man on a rational court of morality."

    So what if my values mean that I am fulfilled by the constant pursuit of momentary pleasure? Who is Rand to tell Quagmire that he can't experience true happiness? How does Rand know whether the way certain people live their lives makes them truely happy or not? What gives Rand the right to make her own concept of "rationalty" the definition of happiness?

    Your thoughts PC?

  2. Anon1: You ask, "So what if my values mean that I am fulfilled by the constant pursuit of momentary pleasure? Who is Rand to tell Quagmire that he can't experience true happiness?"

    It's not Rand telling him, it's reality. The fact is, you can't buy long-term happiness by means of irrational short-term pleasures. They add up to nothing across a lifetime, and potentially lead to disaster.

    To illustrate.

    If you want to pursue momentary pleasures at the price of long-term destruction, by heavy use of psychotic drug highs for example, then your argument is not with Rand, but with reality.


We welcome thoughtful disagreement.
Thanks to a few abusers however, we (ir)regularly moderate comments.
We *will* delete comments with insulting or abusive language, unless they're entertaining. We will also delete totally inane comments. Try to make some sense. We are much more likely to allow critical comments if you have the honesty and courage to use your real name.