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[Brian Brady asks for advice. This ain't it. I wrote a book in 1988 about human civilization, a condition I believe human beings can but so far have not attained. I'm thinking of revisiting the topic, if only because I fear those kinds of ideas might have to transcend a dark age. I wrote the following essay seven years ago, and, of course, by now everything it addresses is just that much worse. Tyranny is an avoidable fate -- but not if you don't know how to recognize it. --GSS]

 
My son is a Cub Scout. A few weekends ago he had his yearly ScoutORama, a sort of Scout convention and trade fair. The theme of this year’s event was ‘American Heroes,’ and it turns out that American Heroes, for the most part, build small catapults and cook in Dutch ovens. One Cub pack took the theme rather more to heart, with a huge display called ‘Freedom In Unity’.

To an attending Cub Scout I said, “Is it conceivable to you that unity and freedom might conflict?”

After a moment’s thought, he said: “Huh?”

As a father of an eleven-year-old, I fully expected this retort. Undismayed, I pressed on: “Isn’t it reasonable to suppose that the quality best represented by the word ‘freedom’ is freedom from other people?”

HUH?!

And my wife pulled me away, arguing, quite correctly, that it is unfair to expect children to regurgitate, much less competently defend, the horseshit they are force-fed by adults.

They do so eventually, of course, and thus become the adults who do the force-feeding of the next generation of helpless victims — unminded before they can be fully mindful, starved and stuffed at the same time, gorged forevermore on horseshit.

But: It’s not the what, it’s the where, the who, the how. And most especially: The why.

When the French, to pick an odorous example, rail against Individualism, we know what we’re hearing. When radical feminists — or radical environmentalists, or radical vegans — heap scorn upon Liberty, it doesn’t take much acuity to see right through them.

But to listen carefully — and I am cursed with the skill of listening carefully — to a Scout leader or a PTA president or a youth minister is to listen no less to the preachments of Herr Doktor Marx. Service and sacrifice, the sacrifice of all to any, any to all, with the only measure of virtue being elaborately effected egolessness.

It is everywhere. The National Honor Society, which by its name and its selection process is about nothing but selfish individual achievement, immediately demands of its honorees that they spit on their accomplishments and pursue instead endless collectivist sacrifice.

The real, genuine, actual purpose of the Knights of Columbus or the Elks Club or the Shriners is to provide a place where members can drink after hours and play poker unsurveilled. But the ‘official’ reason-for-being for fraternal organizations — for ‘organized’ activities of any kind — is charity. We will suffer the boys a snort and a draw to a straight, provided they dress it up with a sacrifice to the mob.

The country club, membership in which is the very hallmark of individual distinction and exclusivity, justifies its existence with ritualized charity balls and charity golf tournaments and cacophonous silent auctions for charity.

I could cite examples unending, and that’s the point. I can think of almost nothing in the lives of ordinary Americans, nothing that is ‘organized’ or ‘official’, that is not thoroughly steeped in Marxism.

Is the youth minister a Communist? The PTA president? Emphatically, no — so much the worse. The theorists who lead the feminists and the environmentalists and the vegans know what they are doing — which is helpful, since their theory leads them to take stands so absurd that normal people are repelled. But when the Scout leader regurgitates the Marxist horseshit he was force-fed without even knowing it was Marxist horseshit, without even realizing he was being force-fed, without ever once thinking about what his words might mean — that man is the most effective recruiting agent the Communists ever had.

Oh, but the Soviets are dead and gone. And the Chinese are reforming. And Castro is a joke. And none of that matters. Communism — more properly Anti-Individualism — has never been healthier, death notices notwithstanding. Communism thrives not because some state waxes or wanes, but because its core philosophy is ubiquitous.

And in fact the West has never been safe. At times we have flirted with Individualism, but never openly, without shame or reservation. Our brother Abel was making Marx’s argument and effecting Marx’s murders long before Herr Doktor Marx rationalized Abel’s pathology. And we have volunteered for millennia to despise our highest virtues in order to win, by bribery, the approval of the despicable — who we hope will spare us even as we tacitly concede that they have as much right as Abel to slaughter us.

But even this is not enough for Communism to triumph. So long as you have even one small place to go to be alone, to be a self, an ego, free and disunited — so long as there is even one little thing about which you can say, “This is mine and you can’t touch it!” — so long as there is even one tiny little corner in your mind that is not to be pawed, not to be mauled, not to be defaced and desecrated by all or by any — so long as there is anything in your life that is not to be shared, socialized, sacrificed — then Communism must fail.

And that is the why of the force-feeding Scoutmaster, why he spends all his time spewing unexamined Marxism, why he has been assiduously indoctrinated to spend all his time spewing unexamined Marxism. He is not a Communist, but when he force-feeds that unexamined Marxist horseshit to innocent children, the PTA president and the youth minister smile. And they are not Communists. They are simply regurgitating the Marxist horseshit they swill everywhere — newspapers, magazines, television, the sermons and speeches they write by cribbing the same horseshit from other articles and sermons and speeches. If asked, they would deny that it is their claim that service and sacrifice are the only justifications for human life. If pressed, they would insist that they are not trying to destroy every redoubt of Individualism.

But we are what we do. They are the unwitting foot-soldiers, the useful idiots, of Communism. They’re not coming for your guns; that’s a distraction. They’re coming for your children. They’re coming for you.

Communism cannot triumph if you can repair to your family, if you can love your spouse or your children and not share that love equally with all or any. So the family must be destroyed. Undermined from within by feminism and divorce and the destruction of fatherhood. Undermined from without by films and jokes that demean the family and promote accidental, temporary relationships.

Communism cannot triumph if you can turn to your church, to a communion and consolation that is immutably private. So the church must be destroyed. Dismantled from the outside by ridicule and loathing, dismantled from the inside by the indoctrination of Marxism.

Communism cannot triumph if you can own anything. So ownership must be destroyed. Everything you own, from your house to your car to your things to your memories to your thoughts to your soul itself — everything you own becomes subject to review, to derision, to oversight, to criticism, to regulation, to confiscation.

Communism cannot triumph if you can escape it. One-world Communism doesn’t require a global state. All that is necessary is for you to be unable to get away from it no matter where you go. To the church? To the school? To the country club? To the Elks club? To the legislature, even? There is nowhere for you to run, no place you can go where you are permitted to uphold your right to your own life as a matter of right.

But Communism cannot triumph if you can resist it. And that is the true battleground — your mind. They’ll take your guns when they can, and your house soon after that, but the property they must take, in order to triumph, is your mind. That is why they took your church and your school and your family and every social organization you belong to and everything you see or hear about or read: In order to force-feed you Marxism and to leave you no alternative but to be force-fed Marxism.

You think they’re beaten, but you’re wrong. You watched it on television — a vast electronic rectum ceaselessly spewing Marxist horseshit — and you think they’re defeated. You’re wrong. The Soviets might be gone, but Communism — more properly Anti-Individualism — has never been healthier.

It’s not a matter of controlling states or controlling weapons or controlling factories. The issue — the only issue — is controlling you. More properly, convincing you to surrender your self-control. To give up your mind and your body and your soul, to deny to yourself any right to the personal, the private, the not-to-be-sacrificed. To renounce your own ego because it is yours, because it can never be shared, because it is a treasure so precious it must never be pawed at by strangers. When they convince you to damn your own self for being a self, then Communism can triumph. The territory to be captured is you.

This is their goal, their only goal. They are relentless in pursuit of that goal, and they will not give up.

And they are everywhere…

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  • 44 comments

    44 Comments so far

    1. Jake Planton May 31st, 2009 12:00 am

      Wow…such a cynical article. I kept asking myself, what is wrong with this person, that they would make such a case, with some rather strange logic, and attack charity, and good will, and helping others…I get your point, but you are pretty far out there.

    2. Joe Loomer May 31st, 2009 5:54 am

      Gotta go with Jake on this one, Gregg.

      I’d write more here, but I’m off to the American Legion ’cause it’s the only place I can drink and smoke inside in my county on Sunday. Oh, and play Liar’s Dice.

      Then I’m off to Mexico to find this Trotsky fellow – I hear he’s got some good ideas – he must have – I just saw a wikipedia poster of him dressed as Saint George fighting the Dragon of Individualism.

    3. Michael Wurzer May 31st, 2009 6:10 am

      >>Communism cannot triumph if you can own anything. So ownership must be destroyed.<<

      This is one reason I believe employee ownership is important.

      Overall, what’s ultimately required to be human is loving ourselves in a community. We are social creatures but that doesn’t make us socialist. Living alone is not life.

    4. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 6:38 am

      > This is one reason I believe employee ownership is important.

      Agreed. Although without the limited liability corporation — keep the profits, socialize the losses — many more people would be entrepreneurs.

      > Living alone is not life.

      I’ll need you to quote me that part that said that.

    5. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 6:40 am

      > attack charity, and good will, and helping others

      I said none of those things. You can prove it to yourself by extracting and quoting back the text where you think I did.

    6. Missy Caulk May 31st, 2009 7:21 am

      :)

    7. Michael Wurzer May 31st, 2009 7:58 am

      > Living alone is not life.

      >>I’ll need you to quote me that part that said that.

      I wasn’t quoting you, I was stating my view the Randian egoism philosophy has always felt very lonely to me. If you start from the premise of being individual, that’s where you end, too. In contrast, if you start from the premise of being one with others, that doesn’t exclude your individuality. I haven’t studied philosophy (yours or others) enough to know if you agree or disagree with my view, but that’s all I was trying to say with “living alone isn’t living.”

    8. Kevin OBrien May 31st, 2009 8:11 am

      Greg,

      Great points Liberty is the most important thing any of us can defend. Tyranny and collectivism go hand in hand. I always have wondered why more people don’t defend liberty?

      The right to own things without government intervention is a critical foundation of property rights and liberty. Unfortunately, we do not seem to have either in abundance anymore. Property taxes work to negate true ownership of land. Hard to be free when you can’t own the “fruits of your labor”

      I do have 1 question.

      “Agreed. Although without the limited liability corporation — keep the profits, socialize the losses — many more people would be entrepreneurs.”

      Are you saying the LLC has prevented people from becoming entrepreneurs? It is my understanding that the greatest period of prosperity in US history coincided with the advent of additional LLC’s in the late 1800′s.

    9. Brian Brady May 31st, 2009 8:20 am

      I love it, Greg. What he’s saying, folks is that the Knights of Columbus, American Legion, and country club are perfectly legitimate concerns that need not pursue their agenda (whatever that may be) under the veil of charity. Political correctness, however, dictates that the Knight of Columbus must “water down” his display of fidelity to the Pope, the Legionnaire must “water down” his burning patriotism, and the Country Club member must “water down” the enjoyment of his reward for hard work with a “pursuit of charitable causes”. Diluted, it becomes more palatable to the masses who choose not to stand by their convictions or commitment.

      Look at his conclusion about owning your mind. If all else does fail, if these Communists do eventually destroy the family, the Church, the schools, and private ownership, they can never take your mind. Former prisoners write that their mind was something the captors could never control so they retreated to it daily. Crippled from torture, the prisoner could escape to a tropical beach in the recesses of his mind. Beaten from abuse, the prisoner willingly imagined a world designed to HIS specifications…in his mind.

      Control your mind and you control your destiny, in spite of the external impositions of your captors.

    10. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 8:31 am

      > I was stating my view the Randian egoism philosophy has always felt very lonely to me.

      That’s interesting. BloodhoundBlog is built upon a foundation of rational egoism — mine, not Rand’s, but to an outsider the differences would be all but invisible. Not just my own contributions, but the way we are organized, the objectives we pursue, the values we celebrate and the disvalues we denounce. There is no shared philosophy among the contributors — none that I know of, in any case — but we are alike in the sense that we each can leave other people alone to think for themselves.

      Does the end result seem lonely to you? Or, to cite Jake Planton’s comment, ill-willed or unhelpful? It doesn’t to me. I feel myself completely at home for the first time in my life. I said at the first Unchained that I am building the world I want to live in, and BlooodhoundBlog is a huge part of that.

    11. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 8:34 am

      > Control your mind and you control your destiny, in spite of the external impositions of your captors.

      Beautiful.

    12. Don Reedy May 31st, 2009 8:35 am

      One of the reasons they can’t have me today is because in thinking and writing and illuminating the nature of freedom, you have powered up that place in my heart and head that indeed is the only solice from tyranny.

      Gotta NOT go with Jake on this one, Greg. Gotta go with you. If you’re far out there, then perhaps that explains why it’s your point of view that almost always seems to me to universally true and poignant. Your message is “Hubbling” insofar as you are snapping photogaphic thoughts about our world from a place high above.

      Thanks. As I told Ryan, in a comment to his much different post, I’m off to church, where for a short time my free mind, and my free will, can and will be exercised.

    13. Teri Lussier May 31st, 2009 9:03 am

      >So long as you have even one small place to go to be alone, to be a self, an ego, free and disunited — so long as there is even one little thing about which you can say, “This is mine and you can’t touch it!” — so long as there is even one tiny little corner in your mind that is not to be pawed, not to be mauled, not to be defaced and desecrated by all or by any — so long as there is anything in your life that is not to be shared, socialized, sacrificed — then Communism must fail.

      Oh my goodness, that’s beautiful beautiful music.

      There isn’t anything at all lonely or alone in that thinking, because to find that place and honor that place in yourself, you must also honor that place in others. I honor your right to think your own thoughts, have your own thoughts… How much more social can we be to each other? Makes my heart just soar.

    14. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 9:09 am

      Me: >> Although without the limited liability corporation — keep the profits, socialize the losses — many more people would be entrepreneurs.

      Kevin: > Are you saying the LLC has prevented people from becoming entrepreneurs? It is my understanding that the greatest period of prosperity in US history coincided with the advent of additional LLC’s in the late 1800’s.

      In reverse order:

      Third, the periods of increased prosperity in any economy coincide with significant increases in per-head capital investment, both fixed capital and intellectual capital. This is pure von Mises, who you would like a lot. Socialism is a good place to start, although Human Action is his magnum opus.

      Second, corporations tend to distort investment toward concentrations of capital, vast enterprises composed of employees rather than entrepreneurs. This is not a necessary consequence, and employee ownership is a very intelligent model, in my opinion, for aligning the interests of labor and management. The ideas of social distance we inherited from the Romans work to our disadvantage.

      But first, the limited liability corporation (the legal idea, not the contemporary legal construct called an “LLC”) is the naked essence of Rotarian Socialism: Any profits my business makes are mine to keep without limit, but any losses, liabilities or damages I might incur are limited to the assets of the business, not to the full extent of the assets of the owners of that business. You’ve heard the term “moral hazard” bandied about in the last year or so. The limited liability corporation is the prototype for moral hazard in formerly-capitalist economies.

      This is me, elsewhere:

      The essential defining characteristic of a corporation, as against other ways of organizing a business enterprise, is liability limitation, a conspiracy between the proprietors and the state to defraud tort claimants of all they might otherwise obtain in redress for their injuries. It’s pure Hamiltonian Social Engineering, Mercantilism at its worst. The idea is to encourage investment by limiting the risk. But by limiting responsibility, investment is distorted away from the individual integrity that is the sine qua non of enlightened self-interest. The limited liability corporation is the rope by which Capitalism hung itself.

      I have much, much more if you want it.

      Now back to this:

      >> without the limited liability corporation — keep the profits, socialize the losses — many more people would be entrepreneurs.

      Without liability limitation, it is plausible to presume that there would be many more businesses, all of them much smaller than the kinds of businesses we are used to.

      If you or others want to argue this point, please bear in mind that we are talking about justice, about right and wrong. The limited liability corporation — and, yes, BloodhoundRealty.com is one — turns every business into a potential brigand.

    15. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 9:13 am

      > I’m off to church, where for a short time my free mind, and my free will, can and will be exercised.

      I owe you a beer, brotherman. There are unplumbed depths to you that I want to know about.

    16. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 9:21 am

      > Makes my heart just soar.

      The song of my soul’s sister. I knew you’d like that one.

    17. Michael Wurzer May 31st, 2009 10:40 am

      >Does the end result seem lonely to you?

      Sometimes. Or maybe that’s just my reaction to the expression of the community, as I’ve not likely experienced the community itself as the authors here do. Anyway, when I read Rand (most of it, novels and philosophy) years ago, I was initially intrigued but found it very difficult to get from egoism to community. For me, the greatest personal happiness is sharing. The corner of my mind “not to be pawed, not to be mauled, not to be defaced and desecrated by all or by any” declares that I am to be “shared, socialized, sacrificed.” No one can or should tell me to believe this, I choose it freely. In so doing, I am me, an individual whose life begins with others.

    18. Teri Lussier May 31st, 2009 11:12 am

      Michael

      If I can butt in here.

      >No one can or should tell me to believe this, I choose it freely.

      That’s the difference. You’ve chosen this, or you are hard wired this way, either way, you are not the giving person you are because you’ve been forced into it. No one here is suggesting you shouldn’t be the sharing person you are. I’d be so bold to say that we celebrate your extraordinary gift of charity as central to who you are. IF that’s the part of you that you refuse to allow anyone else to mess with, then we honor that…

      Just my .02, but I don’t want to speak for anyone else here…

    19. Al Lorenz May 31st, 2009 11:55 am

      I had not, even in my own mind, articulated what I find so energizing about the bloodhound experience. A huge part of it is the simple, but rare, encouragement of free thinking. With so many so willing to give up free thought to collective emotionalism, expressions of distilled free thought are jewels. No apologies of any kind are necessary for success around here.

      There is nothing lonely at all about free thinking, unless you’re surrounded by a bunch of mind numb followers or those trying to control you.

      Greg, I keeping being surprised by your astounding writing skills, among many others. I appreciate your evident joy in being who you are. Thanks.

    20. Michael Wurzer May 31st, 2009 1:41 pm

      >>With so many so willing to give up free thought to collective emotionalism, expressions of distilled free thought are jewels. No apologies of any kind are necessary for success around here.<<

      Why is thinking about egoism more distilled or free than thinking about community? Why does celebrating community require apologies for success? It isn’t and it doesn’t.

      Success is rarely had and never realized individually, and, if it is, that’s lonely. You might think yourself the sole cause of your success, but that doesn’t make it so. I never apologize for my success but I do try to understand the role others played in it.

    21. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 5:51 pm

      > Success is rarely had and never realized individually, and, if it is, that’s lonely.

      Go tell that to your software engineers. The ones who agree with you are dead weight. The ones who threaten to quit are worth their weight in gold. Until you’ve broken through what you thought was an insuperable barrier alone, you don’t know what success is. The people who matter to any business are the ones who are alone at their desks working when everyone else has gone home. The “team” takes credit for the work done by these individuals — and when they leave the company, everything of genius leaves with them.

      (And, ironically, the person I know for sure I’m talking about at FBS Systems is Michael Wurzer, the only person in the company I have ever made contact with on a weekend.)

      Inlookers: Take note. This is the way the world actually works. I can produce evidence like this every day. Every bit of the world’s wealth began as an idea in some one individual’s mind. Collectivism, by contrast, produces nothing but mountainous mass graves. This is not what Michael is talking about, but this is the way the world really works, regardless of what anyone says about it.

    22. Michael Wurzer May 31st, 2009 6:27 pm

      Valuing an individual contribution is not incompatible with knowing and appreciating how it fits into a whole. The suggestion that someone who is able to fit both these thoughts into their mind at the same time is dead weight is why I find egoism limiting.

    23. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 7:09 pm

      > Valuing an individual contribution

      > Success is rarely had and never realized individually

      Good grief.

    24. Michael Wurzer May 31st, 2009 8:11 pm

      Yes, I hold both of those thoughts at the same time and have found them not only to be compatible but powerfully productive.

    25. Greg Swann May 31st, 2009 11:20 pm

      > I appreciate your evident joy in being who you are.

      I wanted to tell you that you made my day with this observation, Al. Very often I’ll write from the inside out, interpreting my own interior state as being representative of everyone else’s introspective consciousness, extrapolating from the particular to the general. But that’s funny to me, at the same time, because I’ve spent much of my life feeling like an alien on my own planet.

      I am named for Saint Gregory, and the Latin root of that name is grex, gregis — herdlike — but I am the most fanatically unherdlike person you will ever meet. For much of my youth, I would find myself in situations where I would edit myself down — so as not to spook the cattle, as it were. But this was hugely offensive to me, because the attributes of character I was hiding from other people were not ugly vices but the highest of virtues.

      I resolved to stop doing that a long time ago, and it made all the difference to me in terms of my own delight in being alive. And BloodhoundBlog is a further extension of that simple idea. Whatever this place might be for other people, it’s a place where I can express everything that matters to me without pulling any punches whatever.

      I had been doing that all around the nets for thirty years or so, and not without effect. But it works so much better here because it’s more than just me. We’ve built a spot on the earth — beloved over all — where each one of us can be who we are, no matter who that might be.

      Anyway, it matters to me a great deal that you’re out there, Al. Your friendship is a prize won for me by BloodhoundBlog, but, before that, it is won from our shared but separate refusals to refrain from being who we are.

      As much as I might be tempted to despair about the ubiquity of Marxist memes, I take solace in the knowledge that there is a shared resonance among us — we few, we happy few, as Teri Lussier and the Swan of Avon would have it — a frequency we can each of us tune to, no matter how widely separated we are in time and space and circumstance.

      That’s the other side of the story of this essay: Communism is everywhere, spread by knowing ideologues and unknowing dupes. But in a world where I can meet and share ideas with a man like you, all is not lost.

      I do take enormous delight in being alive, and it wouldn’t matter to me at all if I were all alone. Surrounded by specimens genetically identical to me, I felt completely isolated until I was twenty or so, when by the grace of the nascent nets I discovered that there really are minds alike unto my own — real people, not just characters in books. But it wouldn’t matter to me if I were isolated from everyone, stranded in a perpetual solitude.

      But that makes knowing people like you so much more delightful to me. The wealth you bring to the world shines in your eyes and in your smile, and the dividend I reap from that is 100% pure profit.

      I heard from my friend Jim Klein today, whom I’ve known from Usenet for — can it be? — twenty years. I met with Scott Gaertner this afternoon for a come-to-Jesus session about where and how we should be listing. I owe the nets for my Cathleen and for Brian Brady and for Teri and Cheryl Johnson and Eric Blackwell and the whole Swallow Hill Gang and for all the great people we’ve met through Unchained. And I owe the nets for you, Al Lorenz. I am enriched by the world because you’re in it. Never doubt my gratitude.

    26. Genuine Chris Johnson June 1st, 2009 5:01 am

      >>But even this is not enough for Communism to triumph. So long as you have even one small place to go to be alone, to be a self, an ego, free and disunited — so long as there is even one little thing about which you can say, “This is mine and you can’t touch it!” — so long as there is even one tiny little corner in your mind that is not to be pawed, not to be mauled, not to be defaced and desecrated by all or by any — so long as there is anything in your life that is not to be shared, socialized, sacrificed — then Communism must fail.

      Camus said about as much, a few times.

    27. Michael Wurzer June 1st, 2009 6:03 am

      >>No one here is suggesting you shouldn’t be the sharing person you are. I’d be so bold to say that we celebrate your extraordinary gift of charity as central to who you are.

      Greg, I’m wondering if you agree with Teri on this statement? Given your presumption that the “real, genuine, actual purpose” of the organizations you mention is not a sincerely held desire to help others (something that makes them happy), it would seem you would conclude the same of me and others — that one cannot hold such a belief sincerely.

    28. Greg Swann June 1st, 2009 7:36 am

      > it would seem you would conclude the same of me

      Not my business — which to me almost always means: Not my problem. For what it’s worth, as a matter of personal preference, I like people who live comfortably inside their own minds — introverts. Neither that observation nor anything in this post has anything to do with you.

    29. Michael Wurzer June 1st, 2009 7:53 am

      Let me try the question a bit more abstractly: What I wanted to learn is whether an egoist can desire to help others while also valuing their self. Or are those two incompatible with being a rational egoist?

      I agree that your (and others’) declarations of independent thinking are beautiful and valuable, and I strongly agree that societies and economies function best when there are true markets (many buyers and sellers with perfect information). I also believe that the problem with capitalism as practiced today is not too much capital but too few capitalists. My questions arise with expressions like this post that make it appear that these basic sentiments of individualism presume that one should only look inward and not outward; that those who look outward as well as inward are somehow not being true to themselves.

    30. Greg Swann June 1st, 2009 9:06 am

      > What I wanted to learn is whether an egoist can desire to help others while also valuing their self. Or are those two incompatible with being a rational egoist?

      That’s a false dichotomy. If you’ve run into devotees of Ayn Rand, you might have seen them swept up in the complement of the same error — fanatical hoarding behavior, for instance. This site is a good example of a rational egoist — me — helping other real estate professionals get better at what we do. How is this profit-seeking behavior? We learned about this from the inventors of egoism, the Greeks: The quantity of knowledge is infinite. We cultivate and harvest knowledge by sharing it.

      To anticipate the next question: Do I do anything that is not motivated by my profit or some other value of benefit to me? The answer: No, nor does any other healthy organism. People who admonish you to pursue your own self-destruction — to betray your own values, to renounce and ridicule your own deeply-felt desires, to deliberately act against your own interests — those people are the sworn enemies of human life. They are the subject of this essay.

      > My questions arise with expressions like this post that make it appear that these basic sentiments of individualism presume that one should only look inward and not outward; that those who look outward as well as inward are somehow not being true to themselves.

      We’re getting very close to the Fallacy of the No-True-Scotsman, but this is my argument: A secondary but still essential characteristic of a true egoist is that he is too busy minding his own business to mind yours, unless you make it your business to get in his way. I am an INTJ and a high-D, so your mileage may vary.

      For what it’s worth, I personally have nothing to do with indiscriminate charity. If someone I know is in trouble, and if I know my money will not be used for purposes of self-destruction, I will share what money I have, when I have any. But I never give money — or time, or anything — when I don’t know how my money will be used. The central idea of my life is self-adoration, and, as a corollary proposition, I never want to do anything to subsidize self-destruction. By contrast, Cathleen will give money to almost any organized charity — and twice as much if the money is going to indigent cats. Each man to his own Saints.

      The issue in this post is the means by which knowing Communists and their unwitting foot soldiers have systematically robbed individual people of the right to pursue their own objectives for their own reasons, deriding any purely personal motivation — including private impulses to charity — as being selfish, atomistic and atavistic. The issue is not whether you want to be involved with other people. The issue is whether you have any practicable political right to a life of your own.

      For me, egoism is as much about not getting things wrong — and about correcting and making amends for past errors — as it is about pursuing future achievements. I’ve written a lot about the nature of self-adoration and how to achieve and sustain it. With luck, I’ll write quite a bit more before I die. This is a little clip from 1988, the source of the “Egoism in Action” category on BloodhoundBlog:

      Redemption Is Egoism In Action, in the real deeds of your real life. By your self-loving actions, you redeem the errors of your past and make of them the achievements of your present and future. It is not impossible to avoid doing this. Most people waste their whole lives trying to pretend that past errors need not be corrected. But neither is it possible to avoid the consequences of failing at redemption.

      That’s pretty pushy, which is why I only do that sort of thing in prose, where I can tromp around in the reader’s mind as a secret guest. Here is much gentler statement of the egoist ideal, according to me:

      Be who you are. Do what you want. Have what you love.

    31. Michael Wurzer June 1st, 2009 1:22 pm

      >>The issue is whether you have any practicable political right to a life of your own.

      >>Be who you are. Do what you want. Have what you love.

      Some people freely choose unity; others don’t. Each to their own.

    32. Al Lorenz June 1st, 2009 2:43 pm

      Michael,

      “Why is thinking about egoism more distilled or free than thinking about community? Why does celebrating community require apologies for success? It isn’t and it doesn’t.

      Success is rarely had and never realized individually, and, if it is, that’s lonely. You might think yourself the sole cause of your success, but that doesn’t make it so. I never apologize for my success but I do try to understand the role others played in it.

      Michael, you can think about community all you want. But when I think of “community thought” I see people who want to turn off their creative thoughts and look to others for affirmation and value. Thinking about how to build a better society is not the community thought I am referring to.

      Further, success is ALWAYS realized individually and usually had by individual actions. Outside recognition has nothing to do with personal satisfaction. An individual’s measure of their own success is the only thing that really matters, at least to them. I like your last comment, “each to their own.”

      Greg,

      Thanks, for the blog and for sharing even more about yourself. Yes, bloodhound and unchained are rich in people who would rather think than find ways to avoid thought.

      I’m still thinking about your egoism and redemption. I typically do the 70% thing. I get the best information I can in a reasonable time and take action. Of course, that means sometimes I get it wrong, but usually quickly enough to change course with what I learned. I figure I can change anything if I survive the initial attempt.

      Do I have to sometimes make amends? Sure. But redemption, like realizing success, has to be by my own measure. But, I get your gentler statement of the egoist idea without too much brain ache.

    33. Michael Wurzer June 1st, 2009 3:59 pm

      >>But when I think of “community thought” I see people who want to turn off their creative thoughts and look to others for affirmation and value.

      I also do not stand with those who “turn off their creative thoughts and look to others for affirmation and value.”

      >> Outside recognition has nothing to do with personal satisfaction.

      I also agree with this statement.

      >>An individual’s measure of their own success is the only thing that really matters, at least to them.

      This says nothing about whether the measure is correct or not. We all measure ourselves, sometimes correctly and sometimes not. Seeking an objective measure of yourself is what’s important, and that objectivity requires bringing outside facts in. That doesn’t mean pandering after another’s opinion, but it does require looking outside yourself.

      What I meant by my initial statement regarding success is that it is very rare that our efforts are not part of a greater whole. Whether I’m working with my family or my co-workers, I’m rarely the only actor. That doesn’t mean I don’t value my own contributions, just that I also recognize others’ contributions in my success — and I believe my success is greater because of that shared accomplishment.

    34. Kevin OBrien June 1st, 2009 6:38 pm

      Greg,

      You>>>Third, the periods of increased prosperity in any economy coincide with significant increases in per-head capital investment, both fixed capital and intellectual capital. This is pure von Mises, who you would like a lot. Socialism is a good place to start, although Human Action is his magnum opus.

      Me>>I agree 100%. Capital accumulation per person is the only way to prosperity. I have just started reading Mises. I don’t think anyone has made a better argument for capitalism.
      The market economy needs no apologists and propagandists. It can apply to itself the words of Sir Christopher Wrens epitaph in St. Pauls: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. [If you seek his monument, look around.]

      You>>>Without liability limitation, it is plausible to presume that there would be many more businesses, all of them much smaller than the kinds of businesses we are used to.

      Me>>I would think it is also plausible that their would be less capital accumulated per person as many people would be worried about exposing their entire capital to each venture. If you can limit the amount invested that makes it feasible to try many more ventures.

    35. Greg Swann June 1st, 2009 8:52 pm

      > If you can limit the amount invested that makes it feasible to try many more ventures.

      You are only limiting the amount of money at risk by socializing the cost of error to people who did not make the errors — that is, by theft. The ends do not justify the means. A mutually-voluntary human civilization cannot work unless it is scrupulously just.

      > I would think it is also plausible that their would be less capital accumulated per person

      Even stipulating this, the human capital per person would be hugely greater. One of the key crimes of economic meddling by government is information-hiding, disguising the survival value of capitalism and the pursuit of profit. Without the limited liability corporation, we would not have imported the Bismarck model of education from Germany, and — arguably — American children would attain much higher levels of earning power. The real crisis of General Motors is whole generations of hard-working people who, in reality, don’t know how to do anything useful.

    36. Michael Wurzer June 1st, 2009 10:44 pm

      >> the cost of error

      This is probably less scary than it sounds because the cost of error assigned by scrupulous justice would be much less than our common law negligence and would more likely be limited to something akin to the direct (not special or consequential and certainly not punitive) damages most contracts specify.

    37. Greg Swann June 2nd, 2009 7:29 am

      > This is probably less scary than it sounds because the cost of error assigned by scrupulous justice would be much less than our common law negligence

      Every plaintiff wants vengeance. Every respondent wants mercy. Their interests balance at making the plaintiff whole. This is what people would agree to, if a human civilization is to be constructed from a mutually-voluntary compact, since each one of us can envision himself in the respondent’s chair. Aligning interests is so easy we teach it to our four-year-olds: One cuts, the other chooses.

    38. Michael Cook June 5th, 2009 8:28 am

      I cant be the only person that found this article hilarious. While I totally disagree with the ideas, I have to take my hat off to anyone who can take a full fledge swing at an 11-year old cub scout. Rock the foundation of their 11-year old world Greg, brownies and badges be damned.

      That takes guts, which Mr. Swann has in spades. I will articulate one quick point about Greg’s theory and that is simply show me that it works. Show me one civalization where they lived as you say.

      I have seem more capitalistic societies be more successful than less capitalistic ones, but I have never seen a purely indiviualistic society. Not only do I not think that people are wired to be pure individuals, but I dont think it would be the nirvana you claim.

      I personally think there is some tipping point, where individualistic societies become self-destructive because it works too well for some and not well enough for others.

      Regardless, I got a hearty laugh from the first five paragraphs and I take my hat off to Cathleen for saving the children.

    39. Greg Swann June 5th, 2009 8:52 am

      When people resort to ridicule and personal attacks, that’s usually a clue that they’re bested but won’t admit it. Particularly out of character for you. When you’re on solid ground, your arguments — persuasively valid and without resorts to logical fallacies — can be devastating.

      > Not only do I not think that people are wired to be pure individuals, but I dont think it would be the nirvana you claim.

      As I have pointed out to commenters in this thread and others, honest, useful debate on the internet takes the form of disputation subsequent to in-context quotation of the matter in dispute. Can you please quote the section of this essay that makes any sort of affirmative claim about “purely indiviualistic society”? Just to be helpful: The entire argument is that collectivist memes are ubiquitous because seemingly private institutions and opinion leaders have become the unwitting transmitters of those memes. Do you have any reasoned dispute to offer against the actual topic of the post?

    40. Michael Wurzer June 5th, 2009 9:33 am

      The logic of the post seems to be:

      Social organizations like church, country club, etc., have charitable activities;

      Those activities are at odds with the true desires of the members of the organizations (“The real, genuine, actual purpose of the Knights of Columbus or the Elks Club or the Shriners is to provide a place where members can drink after hours and play poker unsurveilled.”);

      Therefore those who lead these organizations are unwittingly Marxist, denying the “true” individual desires of their members.

      What I’ve tried to communicate in my comments on the post is that I think the second proposition — that the charitable activities are a sham — is wrong and, if the second proposition is wrong, the third falls as well. I believe the majority of those who join these organizations want to participate in the charitable activities of the organizations; they are expressing their individual desires by joining the organization. I think that’s what Michael Cook is saying, too, when he says “I [do] not think that people are wired to be pure individuals”.

    41. Greg Swann June 5th, 2009 9:53 am

      You summary is well wide of the mark. You could work your way through the post paragraph by paragraph and do much better, were you inclined.

      But: That does not matter. You heard enough rousing agreement in the comments to conclude that I am describing a real phenomenon, even if it is not sufficiently irritating to you to excite your attention.

      > I believe the majority of those who join these organizations want to participate in the charitable activities of the organizations; they are expressing their individual desires by joining the organization.

      This is not the standard by which students are inducted into the National Honor Society, and that one fact is sufficient to put the lie to this claim.

      > I think that’s what Michael Cook is saying, too, when he says “I [do] not think that people are wired to be pure individuals”.

      I am not arguing for individualism but, rather, against what is a de facto ubiquitous and therefore inescapable collectivism. But: Here is a very short and apposite lesson in rationality and egoism, the epistemological and ethical underpinnings of political individualism:

      It is never logically valid to presume to speak for another person.

      All that notwithstanding, how you or Michael might diagram the wiring of the human mind — taking note that each of you has precisely one introspectively conscious point of view on how human minds work — has nothing whatever to do with the topic of this essay.

    42. Michael Wurzer June 5th, 2009 11:26 am

      Are you not speaking for others when you presume “[t]he real, genuine, actual purpose of the Knights of Columbus or the Elks Club or the Shriners is to provide a place where members can drink after hours and play poker unsurveilled”?

    43. Greg Swann June 5th, 2009 11:39 am

      > Are you not speaking for others when you presume “[t]he real, genuine, actual purpose of the Knights of Columbus or the Elks Club or the Shriners is to provide a place where members can drink after hours and play poker unsurveilled”?

      Take the last word. I’m learning nothing from this exchange, and I can’t imagine that you are.

    44. michael cook June 5th, 2009 8:09 pm

      For the record, I was not meaning to ridicule, but geninuely did laugh at the first five paragraphs because I could totally see Greg going toe to toe with an 11 year old. That is just the kind of conviction you have in your beliefs. I admire it, even though I disagree with the points.

      I am not part of the debate because I don’t agree with any of the things you mentioned.