Friday, 24 November 2017

Quote of the Day: Why not achievement?

"We are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the made the gifts possible.  We praise an act of charity. we shrug at an act of achievement."
~ Ayn Rand


  1. I think that sells charity short although I do not disagree with the view that you need to make it to give it - governments are no solution as you pointed out in the post on poverty. Wifey gives away a lot of money every year (as in thousands) but targets it very carefully to where it helps up people who would not get a hand up to become independent. Most of her giving goes overseas where govt hasn't stuffed the benefits of a relationship between the giver and receiver. She's a slogan less gem but not a sucker. I know plenty of others just like her and the world will be better because of people like these.


    1. Nowhere in AR's quote does it say charity is wrong. Unfortunately your statement betrays a belief that achievement is only justified for the purpose of giving it to others. That is exactly what she was challenging. She's not saying that charity is wrong, but that it's not a primary virtue, and achievement for the sake of the person enacting it should be primary. If you believe otherwise (as you seem to) you're fundamentally the same as the socialists, at least on this issue.

  2. What a silly speed-addled harridan she was. Thanks for sharing. I liked her admiration for child-killers and moral defence of smoking (before she contracted lung cancer of course).

    1. What a pathetic and ill-informed anonymous troll you are.

    2. Peter, she literally was a speed-addled harridan who admired child killer William Hickman, and also morally defended smoking.

    3. You can always tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back. So since you’re persisting posting broken arrows …

      CLAIM: “I heard that Rand was addicted to speed. Is this true?”

      FACT: “As with many claims about Rand, this one is rather exaggerated. According to the most reliable information available on the matter, Rand had an ongoing prescription from a doctor for a diet drug that included dextroamphetamine as one of its active ingredients. She took two pills per day until the early 1970s, when another doctor told her to stop taking them. If you refer to any and all amphetamines as ‘speed,’ then she did take ‘speed,’ although it is probably not accurate to say she was addicted to it. She certainly did not take the street drugs to which the term 'speed' is more commonly applied.” And there is zero evidence for either addiction or confusion. Except yours.

      CLAIM: I heard she admired a child-killer. Is this true?

      FACT: Like many writers, Rand studied criminals and their behaviour. Unlike Capote, Dostoyevsky, Nabokov et al, however, she did not make them the heroes (or anti-heroes) of her work.
      When the 23-year-old Rand had recently arrived from Russia, she contemplated a story called ‘The Little Street’ in which she thought an aspect of a particular criminal’s personality would be useful. In her writing journal se wrote: “There is a lot that is purposely, senselessly horrible about him. But that does not interest me. I want to remember his actions and characteristics that will be useful for the boy in my story.” She wondered about a character who was “a Hickman with a purpose. And without the degeneracy.” “Her only interest in Hickman,” says one observer,” was his unconventional attitude and the public’s reaction to it. She was clearly morally against the crime he committed. All through her books is the moral requirement that an individual never initiate force against another.” She never wrote the story; instead she wrote ‘We The Living’ about the thoroughly degenerate state into which Soviet Russia had fallen.

      CLAIM: Rand was an enthusiastic smoker who died of lung cancer.

      FACT: Like many people in mid-century America and elsewhere, Rand was a smoker. And like many artists (and others) of that era, she saw smoking as both a Promethean symbol of creativity and a comfort when working. When her doctor however advised her to stop, she stopped.
      The reported cause of Rand's death was [not smoking but] heart failure.[*] A few authors, apparently careless with their research, have stated that Rand died of lung cancer. Rand was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974, but she underwent surgery, which she reported to be ‘a complete success.’ She also stopped smoking at this time. There is no evidence that she experienced any recurrence of the cancer or that it was directly involved in her death, which did not come until 1982.”

      1. From the Noble Soul

      More myth-busting “here.

    4. Your source mentions that she stopped taking prescription amphetamines in the 70's, but forgot to mention she had been taking them since the 40's. And that her close friend Isabel Paterson was concerned enough to plead with her to stop... also in the 40's. Is there anyone else who could be hooked on amphetamines for 30 years without you regarding them as an addict?

      There's also a lot more to Rand's admiration of William Hickman than what your ARI-approved source would like to disclose. From a more impartial source:

      And then her smoking. She stopped when she was told she had cancer, not when her doctor told her to. The surgeon generals warning came out in 1965.

      All in all, a pretty bizarre person to worship.

  3. Ben, if you and your sources wish to take character assassination to be a form or argument, then more fool you. And if you wish to confuse admiration with worship, that too is your problem.
    But I would suggest "impartial" is the last word to use for your links. Readers may decide for themselves about them, and about the relevance or otherwise of your contribution.

    1. If bringing up facts from reliable sources (including Rand's own journal) amounts to character assassination, your admiration/worship would probably be better placed elsewhere.

    2. If we agree that Rand's journal is a reliable source (which we apparently do), then we should agree that describing its contents accurately is important.
      And in the only case in your smears above that the journal was relied upon (her study of a criminal for a future character in a story she never wrote), the account given was inaccurate and over-egged.
      Which two adjectives also describe your other smears.
      Point being, I have no problem with honest criticism of me, of Rand, or of anyone else I admire (if they're fair, we can all learn something). But if you have to exaggerate, lie, or make things up to make the criticism, it suggests you don't really have one.

  4. Your hero worship should also be honest and not minimise flaws, lie or make things up. That suggests your kneeling at the wrong altar.


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