They just don’t get it

They call themselves Objectivists, a term which refers to the writing of Ayn Rand. I found out about them when I read about the “Walk for Capitalism” on December 2nd and was shown one of the U of T Objectivist Club’s newspapers by some friends of mine. It was an experience not unlike finding a Sasquatch in the broom closet. I would not have believed tales of these strange Objectivists had I not gazed myself upon the evidence.

Here is an activist movement, fighting not against, but for capitalism. This is a first. Uh, folks, I hate to rain on your parade (oh, if only…), but capitalism won—two hundred years ago. Well, it did in Western Europe and most of her former colonies anyway; and so far capitalism is way ahead in the fight for domination of the rest of the world. We live in a capitalist system. The horse is dead—stop kicking it, already!

And what exactly is Objectivism, anyway? Well, they argue against faith, and yet worship Ayn Rand like she fell naked from the sky on a pair of golden wings. They argue against social systems that impoverish people and get in the way of innovation and freedom.

Yet capitalism is defined by classes of wealthy and poor people (which is why a WTO conference on the subject is totally laughable—capitalism cannot exist without creating poverty). Capitalism is also defined by complex bureaucratic systems and extreme social stratification—the greatest impediments to creativity, freedom, and innovation we have ever seen.

Every businessman out there wants to “think outside the box,” (if I hear that phrase once more I may choke) yet we routinely beat the creativity out of people.

Think about corporate dress codes, managerial structures, etc.—people conform out of fear of being a “square peg” or not “measuring up.” Truly creative people are threatening to the system and are socially and economically punished for it (how else could we end up with a phrase like “starving artist” in our language?).

This is just fine in Objectivist “philosophy,” as long as it’s in the name of capitalism. I use quotes because the word philosophy is Greek for “love of wisdom.” Wisdom comes from asking questions and through solid logic—through a critical examination of one’s own assumptions—not rhetoric or circular argumentation. A good philosopher has far more questions than answers.

The Objectivists, on the other hand, seem to be full of answers. They can’t be singled out for that, though—this is a common affliction in our culture.

Yet, despite their rabid defence of the status quo and the hypocrisy of criticizing faith and dogma while unquestioningly invoking Ayn Rand and engaging in willful ignorance of life in general, the Objectivists at least seem to feel that they are arguing for freedom. I guess that’s what Ayn Rand thought she was doing too.

In this sense, I cannot fault them. We all believe wholeheartedly in freedom.

It just saddens me that there are people out there who would proclaim freedom as a virtue without ever properly examining what that virtue really means or the system they propose for achieving it—especially when that system is doing such great harm to the world, and to us all.

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