Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Valuing Friendly Banter and Commie-bashing

Posted by Jerry on June 22, 2007

I enjoy the times when I hang out with this one friend of mine because, even though we meet less often now due to our separate work lives, we end up doing lots of commie-bashing whenever we meet! 🙂 We love dissing the socialists, the hippies, and the commies. We bitch about the crappy Indian socialist system and express shared incredulity at all the irrationality around us–especially those among the religious fanatics.

I take our conversations as moments of respite and intellectual shelter. It is when I experience the joy of being in the company of someone who shares the same rational principles, and so there is little or no chance of being frustrated with irrational inanities like which I have come to face almost every day of my life here.

Our commie-bashing is usually and mostly emotional rather than high-fi philosophical–and it’s cool that way; it’s kinda like letting some steam off and regaining some mental composure before getting “back out there in the world” and bracing your intellect and spirit for some really frustrating encounters.

This is what it means for man to be a social animal while at the same time preserving all the moral integrity of individualism and rational self-interest. Rand’s individualism is often caricatured as isolationist; for example, Steven Pinker mischaracterizes Rand’s individualism as advocating the view that every man is an island. It is so much easier to misinterpret Rand than it is to understand her.

To be a social animal does not mean to be indiscriminate and promiscuous with who you associate as friends and companions. It is crucially important to surround yourself with people who can add value and positivity to your life–people who understand and share your values, or at the least, who do not pose a hindrance to your pursuit of your rational values. It is important for man to be selective and judgmental about the kinds of people he wishes to have as his companions. For this, man must judge and assess the values and ideas of every individual who is a potential friend or romantic partner. 

It is not only a waste of your time and efforts to indulge people with politeness and a pretense at friendship for the sake of “not coming across as a snob or rude”; it is also a serious harm to your own psychological well-being, your identity, and your self-esteem. Don’t try to please the world by trying to achieve that “overall friendly, nice guy” image. Often, you lose yourself in the same crowd that you try to gather around you.

To be choosy with friends or lovers is the most selfish thing to do; which means, it is for your own good–and that means, it is the most moral thing to do.

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4 Responses to “Valuing Friendly Banter and Commie-bashing”

  1. Charlotte said

    Nice one 🙂

  2. satyajit said

    Do you think being judgmental very often leads to harboring dislike and maybe hatred for certain people? Its like Roark had a judgment for the people he had to deal with; however, that didn’t lead to hatred for them. Instead, he chose to be unaffected by any of those people. But, i feel thats so difficult.

  3. Ergo said

    Satyajit,

    Evaluating people as being detrimental to your values or to its pursuit is not to “harbor” dislike or hatred for them. Harboring hatred is a disservice to your self–a preoccupation with something/someone that is a detriment to your life, and therefore, unhealthy for your psychological well-being. Judge and evaluate people in the context of your relationship with them and either move on, break-off the relationship, or choose to maintain a relationship. Hatred is unnecessary. However, one must properly condemn the irrational and the disvalue (or vice) just as one must properly praise the rational and the valuable. One can hate a racist, for example, but one must not remain preoccupied with that hate; simply express your explicit condemnation, choose to never associate with the racist, and move on to find beneficial values to your life.

    As an aside, Roark is a fictional character with a certain definite personality. One must seek to understand the ideas that motivate and underlie Roark’s actions, but not emulate his personality. Every person has a distinct personality–but they can share the same ideas. Many new readers of Ayn Rand suddenly adopt the view that they have to act like Roark–in terms of his personality dispositions–and only then are they being consistent with individualism and Objectivism. That is plainly false and harmful. Roark is a unique character with a personality distinct from say that of Francisco D’Anconia (from Atlas Shrugged), even though they both hold the same principles.

  4. satyajit said

    i get the drift of what you’re saying abt new readers trying to simulate Roark. The thing abt inculcating the motive and leaving the person aside makes sense but is a little tough to conceive. I also will read Atlas Shrugged and then maybe will understand what you say better.

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