Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Leave America Alone!

Posted by Jerry on June 13, 2007

When I recently posted an interview of an African economist asking the world to stop pouring aid into Africa, the intent was to show that the evil principle of altruism does more harm than any good in practice.

 

However, more pertinent is the fact that while we focus on the troubles of the African nations, we lose sight of how much harm is being inflicted upon the nations providing such generous amounts of aid.

 

America is by far the most generous nation on earth. The American people are quick to open up their hearts to provide for the needs of any people or nation. I have personally witnessed this behavior of the American people who are for the most part willing to go out of their way to provide any help if they can. The unparalleled level of American generosity is only made possible by the unparalleled level of wealth, health, and prosperity they have already achieved. However, to this, the most grotesque response is for people to claim that “to them whom more is given, more is expected.”

 

The vile philosophy underlying such an utterance is that of altruism and self-sacrifice: man has no right to enjoy the benefits of his own work; indeed, even the benefits he does have are “given” to him by others and not earned in any legitimate form. Therefore, the more he enjoys, the more he should feel guilty of his pleasure, unless he chooses to give much of it away–which ultimately is not a matter of his own choice but the demand of the next available leech or parasite down the street. And no, he should not ask who is to provide for him if he needs something; so long as he is a producer, his benevolent duty to society is to produce and give to others without question, failing which, he is a greedy capitalist.

 

America is being bled by the altruist demands of 25-year-old hippie Marxists and idealists. The American people are simple, normal, hardworking people like that of any other nation. They pay taxes and try to make ends meet for themselves and their family. In addition to their domestic worries, the Americans–unwittingly burdened by their own acceptance of altruism–consider it their obligation to tend to the worries of the world.

 

The American economy is not in a very healthy position at this time. Yet, it continues to pledge billions of its taxpayer money on aid around the world. It mistakenly believes that this might perhaps be one way to garner international support–by bending over backwards to prove its good intentions to the world and apologize for its huge stores of wealth, thereby fully accepting the evil premise that wealth can only be robbed and never created, which is what all anti-Americans believe and propagate.

 

I truly feel sad for the state of America, watching her as she is bled to poverty and death. This is the only country in the world to truly and consistently champion the rights of the individual and enshrine it in its Constitution over the power or rights of any state, monarchy, or supernatural being. This is the only country that began on a set of principles and put its principles into consistent practice–and witness for yourself the remarkable heights of its skyscrapers, the embodiment of its free spirit, health, and prosperity.

 

Also, witness the fact the extent to which other nations have put the principles of reason, liberty, and capitalism into practice, they too have experienced or are experiencing amazing levels of prosperity. From the European periods of the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution that brought great riches to the European nations, to the current surges in economic growth in China and India, the common theme is that the extent to which men were free to trade and use their minds for the pursuit of their own happiness, to that extent their civilization prospered and grew.

 

The people who wish to invalidate the power of principles behind the growth of the American civilization claim that America had more than 200 years to grow and prosper, but India and China are new economies only beginning their growth now. To them, one must ask, how long has the African nations been around? India and China have both experimented with socialist and communist economic systems with disastrously fatal effects. Is that the consequence of a young and stumbling country groping in the unknown or the consequence of accepting a disastrously evil principle to base an economy on?

 

America was alone when it adopted the unadulterated principle of individual human rights and individual liberty over any other. America did not experiment with any other political or economic system. America had no other nation’s example to follow; all its follies and successes were of its own making based on its originally accepted principles. And precisely because of this, the present nation of the United States is not a mere fluke, but the result of a consciously chosen set of rational principles that are consistent with human survival qua man.

 

India and other nations have such an exemplary case of success in the United States to emulate and thereby benefit the lives of its people to an incalculable degree. Nevertheless, the moral code of anti-selfishness, self-sacrifice, and altruism continues to dominate the ethical culture of the world. America is condemned and her economic system is regarded as evil, and yet it is slowly being emulated apologetically. Indeed, this is the only way capitalism is allowed to practice today–apologize and produce. Typically, this apology comes in the form of demanded charity and obligatory donations.

 

Thus, having posted the recent interview with the African economist under the title “Leave Africa Alone,” I also wish to emphatically state my support for America’s right to stop bleeding herself to death by saying “Leave America Alone!”

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15 Responses to “Leave America Alone!”

  1. Ergo said

    Through the Objectivist mailing list, I received the following notification by Monica Hughes with a link to the blog of her friend who is an aid worker living in Tanzania. Here’s what Monica had to say:

    “[Pattie in Tanzania] has published another blog post on aid to Africa which is closer to identifying the problem. While it explicitly misses the essential problems (altruism, Afro-socialist economics) and concludes that if the money were getting the recipients, Africa would improve (she is a non-Objectivist), there are some horrible real-life examples of the massive levels of corruption in African countries.”

    The post: http://psayre.blogspot.com/2007/06/where-streets-have-no-aid-years-ago-i.html

  2. Priyank said

    Boy! You are an atheist who worships America. I haven’t spent much time in this pseudo American country (read Canada) to have the right to talk about it. I must say, however, that my initial theoratical assumptions about this place and the individualistic way of living are being challenged.
    Other part of your post is about the generosity of America. The country is also the largest borrower from WB/IMF and this ‘aid to poor’ policy always puzzles me.
    It may just be me, but I think US is tryin to solve world problems by (1) Wars and (2) Dumping money. In our own country, we have vivid examples to prove that the poor don’t need moeny. They need opportunities, such as those being currently argued at WTO.

  3. krishashok said

    Ergo,
    By “America”, if you are referring to the American people, I agree. American foreign policy and military intervention is another cup of tea altogether. Hell, the US has even invaded Grenada 🙂 Your call to leave America alone is all right, but there are quite a few countries that wanted America to leave them alone (Vietnam, Panama,Chile just to name a few)

    Further, per capita aid from the US is the lowest in the western world. So “most generous” is slightly misleading.
    And as for experimenting with other political systems, they did experiment with mass genocide of the local population before setting up their political system 🙂

    All things said, America has still achieved vastly more than any other country in the world. But lets not forget that a bit of that growth came at the cost of somebody else (the red indians for one)

  4. Ergo said

    krishashok,

    You seem to have been persuaded by a whole lot of leftist nonsense in history.

    It does not suffice to just state that the US has invaded a bunch of countries. You have to trace out the ideological reasons behind it. I am not arguing that the US has not made its own share of mistakes. For example, the US invasion of Iraq today is a major blunder–worse, a totally immoral, self-sacrifical act on the part of the US.

    In fact, I would argue that the US should invade Iran today–but it will be highly unlikely given their major blunder and the general sentiment.

    Now, do you see your folly when you simply point out US invasions without their historical/ideological contexts? In this case, you would point out that I advocate the US invasion of Iran, and that would serve to support your contention that the US has not been leaving other countries alone. But, if not sophistry, this line of argument is at least sloppy.

    Regarding the “most generous” comment. I do not make misleading statements. Check *any* statistic and prove to me that my statement is misleading. Just because the US happens to have one of the highest per capita incomes does not mean that they are less generous than anyone else in the world! You are implying that the richer one is the more one is obligated to give in proportion to one’s income, even if the absolute amount given in aid is still *the most* in the world! You are implying that the rich is at fault because they are so rich.

    To illustrate, you are saying that just because I own 100 dollars, I am obligated to give 50 dollars even though what I currently give (say, 30 dollars) is more than anyone else is giving.

    Regarding native american Indians, you said “And as for experimenting with other political systems, they did experiment with mass genocide of the local population before setting up their political system.”

    That is such a dishonest twist on words. *WHY* do you use the word “experiment” to describe the American settlement in the early continent? Read my post and note carefully my use of the word “experiment” in the context of testing out different political systems. The US–since the time of its independence–instituted *one and only one* political system: the one based on the sanctity of individual rights and liberty. Read the US Constitution.

    About the “mass genocide”, first, it is disgusting that you would use the same word to describe the actions of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong, and the free men of early America.
    You obviously do not see the difference in the actions of early American settlers from that of Hitler and co.

    The Native Indians of that early time were uncivilized savages who had no right to the land they were settled on just by virtue of squatting there, nor did they have any concept of rights.

    No one has any right to property merely by squatting on it. Look at how the free market works and observe how rights arise and are protected.

    If you educate yourself on the history of America and the philosophical nature of how rights arise, you will realize that the early Americans violated no rights when they came and settled in the new world.

    Indeed, the rest of the world should be grateful that they did–and that they instituted a government for the first time in history that was actually a servant of the individual, not the ruler.

  5. krishashok said

    Ergo,

    I first hope you understand that it’s debate I’m interested in. I am neither persuaded by leftist loonies or right-wing nuts.

    1. I am not implying anything more than what I have typed 🙂 How did you infer that I expect rich people to share their wealth? Did I say something like that in my comment? On the contrary, I don’t think that is a good idea. The only intent there was to bring a different perspective to the argument that the US is the most generous country in the world. The issue here is not about whether it is correct to be charitable. It is about the *facts* regarding the “most generous” title. US ranks 18th on the list of countries ordered by economic aid per capita. See here

    2. Clearly, the native americans were savages, as were the black african slaves who did not get voting rights till the 1960s, I suppose?. Look I am not comparing the US with anybody. Every country in the world has its fair share of skeletons in the closet. Killing millions of natives is “mass genocide”. Just because it happens to be used to describe Stalin’s and Hitler’s actions does not absolve the settlers of their crime. The usage of a particlar phrase does not imply comparison. The US government itself recognizes the wrongs done to the native indians and to this day continues to award special privileges in an attempt to set those wrongs right.

    And sophistry? Did I even mention Iran? You did. For that matter, did I even mention Iraq? No I didnt. The sophistry is entirely yours when it comes to reading between the lines, when there was nothing to be read. I am an admirer of the US political system. It is the best in the world. All I wished to do here, is to point out that they have made mistakes in the past. They are not the most generous and they have invaded and killed innocent people for purely commercial reasons. At the same time, they have gotten rid of the Taliban and Saddam. I am with you on the property rights as well. Do not make a strawman out of things I did not say 🙂

  6. rambodoc said

    In India, squatters are treated with great deference, and practically conferred with rights of ownership. I am not sure why you said that the native Indians did not have property rights over the lands they lived in and hunted.

  7. mahendrap said

    The relevant Answers.com definition of “squat” is: “To occupy a given piece of public land in order to acquire title to it.”

    I am not clear how the Red Indians were “squatters”. They may have been uncivilized savages, but they were born there and living there for generations. No outsiders had ever come to their land. They did not have the ‘means’ to protect themselves. Neither did they have any concept of rights. Is having knowledge of the concept of right required to have a right?

    I guess I too need an education on the history of America.

  8. Ergo said

    Krish,

    You said, “The only intent there was to bring a different perspective to the argument that the US is the most generous country in the world.”

    The point I was making was, what purpose does your attempt to bring a different perspective serve if the original contention (that I made regarding the generosity of the US) is an irrefutably absolute fact today? The only way you can contort that fact is by structuring it with the qualification of per capita income. And I rightfully called you out on it because it is an unfair distortion to bring per capita income into the picture–it implies giving some importance to an *inessential* matter of wealth proportion in the context of global generosity: the contention was that the US is the most generous nation in the world–which is factual. The distorted perspective is to introduce the proportion of US wealth in relation to its aid, which is simply not relevant unless the aim is to implicitly undermine the generosity of the Americans (inclduding its government).

    You said: “Clearly, the native americans were savages, as were the black african slaves who did not get voting rights till the 1960s, I suppose?” Your analogy serves no purpose other than to score polemic brownie points. You know (or atleast should know) that the analogy is not only false it is simply unwarranted in this discussion. I never brought up the issue of African Americans, nor did I say that the US government has never made its own share of rights violations. Indeed, one of the ongoing errors the US government is engaged in is what you pointed out: “The US government itself recognizes the wrongs done to the native indians and to this day continues to award special privileges in an attempt to set those wrongs right.” This is itself an unfortunate folly on the part of the US government.

    The sophistry on your part would be (not that it is) to cite names of countries that the US has invaded without providing the necessary context. I brought up Iran and Iraq to illustrate how your line of argument is sloppy, at best. I argued that Iran should be invaded today, whereas, the Iraq invasion was a major blunder. Thus, if you were to merely cite names of countries that were invaded–and include Iran and Iraq on your list–you would not be substantially critiqueing my point, merely sidestepping it and using a strawman argument.

    Rambodoc and Madendrap,
    Squatters and those born into a piece of land do not earn the property rights to that place. Indeed, no property rights exist before they are intentionally founded; the whole premise underlying property rights is to be able to claim ownership of a piece of property–for whatever purpose–and have the right protected by the use of force (wielded by a goverment). In India, for example, none of us have property rights according to the Indian Constitution.

    1) Property rights don’t exist in eternal perpetuity. They have to be founded.
    2) Property rights apply to discrete entities or pieces of land; you cannot be a nomadic tribal wanderer and insist that you own every bit of land you just walked upon.
    3) Property rights do not automatically ascribe to those born into a place or country.
    4) A nation that does not recognize the rights of its people (like India does not recognize individual property rights) has no legitimate basis upon which to argue about the violation of said rights that do not exist. For example, a dictator routinely violates the rights of the people in his country. Indeed, he–acting as the government–does not even recognize any rights of his citizens. Thus, neither can he–acting as the government–nor his citizens claim violation of rights from an outside aggressor, particularly if the outside aggressor perceived a real threat from the dictatorial government.

    Regarding the early Native Americans of the time, Rand had this to say:

    “They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country. And you’re a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent coutnry and doesn’t know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights–they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures”–they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using. It’s wrong to attack a country that respects (or even tries to respect) individual rights. If you do, you’re an aggressor and are morally wrong. But if a “country” does not protect rights–if a group of tribesmen are the slaves of their tribal chief–why should you respect the “rights” that they don’t have or respect? The same is true for a dictatorship. The citizens in it have individual rights, but the country has no rights and so anyone has the right to invade it, because rights are not recognized in that country; and no individual or country can have its cake and eat it too–that is, you can’t claim one should respect the “rights” of Indians, when they had no concept of rights and no respect for rights. But let’s suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages–which they certainly were not. What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existnece; for their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched–to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did. The racist Indians today–those who condemn America–do not respect individual rights.”

    Anyway, I’d urge you to investigate these issue further on your own, as online blog forums are inadequate mediums for learning about these extensive issues.

  9. krishashok said

    🙂 I don’t quite think we can continue this debate here. I disgaree with your classification of red indians as “uncivilized savages” and the notion that “uncivilized savages” have no property rights. The yardstick you seem to use for determining a level of civilization in a culture is “Do you have free market capitalism and individual rights in the way the US defines it?”. If the answer is no, bang bang.

    I believe the US has done a world of good and a world of harm as well. I don’t quite share Rand’s (and your) overwhelming love of US-style capitalism to the point where you think it’s justified to kill the rest of the “savage” world and built “smokestacks to the moon”. Free market capitalism is the best of the systems we have today. But killing people in the name of spreading it and polluting the earth in the process is not quite what I have in mind. This existing system needs to evolve much more.

    Our worldviews are so different that almost any claim by one side is likely to be termed polemic/strawman/sophistry by the other. (We’ve already done it once to each other !). Any links to research I am likely to point to is likely to be termed “sources lacking in credibility” by you and I am probably going to do the same to sources you cite. Much like the mainstream US media today.

    You urge me to read more. I will. I urge you to learn a little more about philosophical viewpoints other than Rand.

    I appreciate the the fact that you took the time and effort to argue your side cogently. Thank you.

  10. Ergo said

    Krish,

    You said: “The yardstick you seem to use for determining a level of civilization in a culture is “Do you have free market capitalism and individual rights in the way the US defines it?”. If the answer is no, bang bang.”

    To be very clear, point out exactly where I have said what you ascribe to me.

    You said: “you think it’s justified to kill the rest of the “savage” world and built “smokestacks to the moon”. Free market capitalism is the best of the systems we have today. But killing people in the name of spreading it and polluting the earth in the process is not quite what I have in mind.”

    It is precisely this habit of cherry-picking choice quotes that on the face of it seem preposterous that I find objectionable in a reasoned conversation. It is an intellectually weak practice.

    The sources you linked to earlier in the discussion surrounding Michael Moore were indeed lacking in credibility because they were to Moore’s own site! Of course, that man has zero credibility, and I have demonstrated that in my posts. Regarding your one link to a UN organization, I pointed out why I am doubtful of UN positions as well, by pointing out the politically motivated IPCC report. In any case, I offered you the chance to state some substantial point of argument–either of your own or from the linked sites–as opposed to merely providing the links here. I believe I gave you a fair opportunity. But this post here is not the place to bring it up.

    You said: I urge you to learn a little more about philosophical viewpoints other than Rand.

    You seem to presume that I haven’t. And I would ask that you refrain from making such unfounded presumptions. You do not know me.

    I was not enamoured by Objectivism right from the get go. In order to convince myself of the truth of this most radical philosophy (radical only because my ideas at the time were pretty mainstream), I had to immerse myself in the study of the major philosophical works out there. Because Objectivism can seem so jarring at first, I hand to investigate first-hand the truth and value of this philosophy. I did this via both my college studies in philosophy as well as on my own–by reading the (often primary) philosophical works of the major philosophers (Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Sartre, and Wittgenstein). This is in addition to my readings on or about works by other philosophers like Willian Barrett, John Searle, and Alan Watts. In addition, my college studies in theology informed me of the relevant metaphysical issues that philosophers were grappling with, for example, the ontological proofs of Aquinas and Anselm. Of course, as is evident, I found Rand’s work to be the most compelling, most relevant to the problem of life, most consistent across the various branches of philosophy, and the most comprehensive thus far.

    In other words, I most objectively do not have only a passing knowledge of philosophy in general or Objectivism in particular. Further, I have obviously not provided a truly comprehensive inventory of my knowledge in this field. Surely, there’s more for me to learn. But I am confident that my foundations are set and secure. Therefore, given the full context of my knowledge, I choose to be an adherent of the only philosophy that makes sense–the one developed by Ayn Rand.

  11. krishashok said

    You did state that countries with no notion of “rights” can be invaded. You quoted Rand “Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did:.”

    All said, I am intellectually weak 🙂 so lets just stop shall we? While you can quote a laundry list of degrees in philosophy, all I have to show is a meaningless and cliched degree in engineering 🙂 I will stick to commenting on issues I agree with you totally, such as censorship and atheism.

    I find your writing compelling, your prose so very readable that I find myself reading it despite disagreeing on several fronts. I will perhaps stick to commenting on things I understand slightly better, such as science and environment.

  12. Ergo said

    Krish,

    Because it is important to be *precise* in philosophical discussion, I will insist on reiterating my position because you have muddled its meaning.

    I did not state that “countries with no notions of rights can be invaded.” I stated that countries with no notions of rights cannot *argue* about the violation of said rights that are not even recognized by themselves or their own government. Further, I stated that these countries are open to invasion only if they pose a credible threat to a free nation that does recognize rights.

    In most matters, Objectivism advocates non-interventionist foreign policy, unless the threat is credible or in retaliation to an attack.

    Further, most nomadic pre-civilized tribes had to face an upheavel of their lifestyles and had to settle into more civilized modes of living. It is the way humankind have progressed through our history–across Africa, India, Europe, and the Americas. From the primitive stages of conceptual and existential chaos, some cultures progressed into the civilized stages of living according to set rules that objectively maximized human flourishment. We should be thankful that they did, and that they spread their civilization. I don’t see why this is a unique point of contention.

    If you would stop re-stating my positions inaccurately, we can agree to disagree and drop this matter. Feel free to express your honest and *reasoned* opinions; I enjoy the dialogue, which is one of the reasons I have a blog.

  13. krishashok said

    At what point did the Europeans settling down in the US become a nation? 1776? They were slaughtering Indians well before that. See, my problem is that you define “rights” and “civilization” in a purely American way. Your argument that the Red Indians had no notion of “rights” is simply specious.

    🙂 People with extreme viewpoints will always misstate each others’ positions. I am willing to admit that from my side. I am not sure you are though. *Precision* in an argument does not mean that one side is not allowed to cherry pick and misconstrue quotes. You did very much the same with your response to my very first comment, branding me a left-wing nonsense brainwashed socialist.

  14. Ergo said

    I have stated my positions and reasoned them out. You complain that my definitions of “rights” and “civilization” are “purely American”, but you fail to offer an alternative with any reasoned argument.
    I’m entirely willing to examine the definitions you can offer of “rights” and “civilization” that is purely non-American.

  15. krishashok said

    I do not know what their particular notion of rights was. That was not my point at all. I am not even claiming that anybody else in the world has a better notion of rights and civilization compared to the Americans.

    Native Americans lived at peace with nature, and were civilized enough not to poison the environment like this

    Regardless of whether they had one or not, the right to invade and take over their land, is questionable, no matter how noble the outcome.

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