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09/15/2005

Comments

air jordans

I hope you all have a blessed day

James Heaps-Nelson

Guy,

Thanks for putting up that summary. It captures Rand's moral arguments with amazing economy. One of the things that always surprises me is the degree to which Rand is misunderstood. For a writer with her clarity of exposition, it's baffling.

Jim

Guy

From Ayn Rand's 1960 lecture "Faith and Force" http://freedomkeys.com/faithandforce.htm :
"The moral justification of capitalism is man's right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; it is the recognition that man -- every man -- is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others, not a sacrificial animal serving anyone's need."

She ends the lecture with some relevant quotes from Atlas Shrugged, here's a few good ones:
"Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice -- and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man -- by choice; he has to hold his life as a value -- by choice; he has to learn to sustain it -- by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues -- by choice.

"A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.

"Whoever you are, you who are hearing me now, I am speaking to whatever living remnant is left uncorrupted within you, to the remnant of the human, to your mind, and I say: There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to man, and Man's Life is its standard of value.

"All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil."

Note she would be the first one to say there is nothing "Christian" in any of it...


Tom McMahon

I'm thinking of hiring James Heaps-Nelson as the tommcmahon.net Official Comment Generator and Provoker! ;-)

James Heaps-Nelson

Kevin,

Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I'll leave the discussion at that and let you have the last word. My major objective in this exchange was to establish the need for a moral argument for capitalism and to point out that Chambers' review really doesn't get at the substance of Rand's arguments in Atlas.

Jim

Kevin Murphy

Sorry Guy, I've done read the book, and the mere thought of it gives me a headache.

Guy

Kevin,
Sounds like you've never actually read Atlas Shrugged. The moral arguments are pretty much all in there. Please read it, then let Jim know what you think.

Kevin Murphy

Jim,

I'm tired of doing all the leg work. How about you provide all the moral arguments for capitalism you can think of, and I'll tell you if I think a Christian should agree with them.

James Heaps-Nelson

Kevin,

What moral argument do Christians have for capitalism? Without consistent defenders capitalism will disappear into a mixed economy (as it has) and then into socialism. Capitalism has been undermined not by its liberal opponents but by its supposed defenders, today's conservatives.

Jim

James Heaps-Nelson

Kevin,

What moral argument do Christians have for capitalism? Without consistent defenders capitalism will disappear into a mixed economy (as it has) and then into socialism. Capitalism has been undermined not by its liberal opponents but by its supposed defenders, today's conservatives.

Jim

Kevin Murphy

The Bible is about the relationship between God and man; there isn't much political or economic theory in it. So it's kind of silly to look to it that way, and far more so by your sound bite method.

But being in a silly mood, I shall take the plunge.

First off, I'm not sure how "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth" relates to socialism, which was your opener, or anthing to do with economics.

Your other two quotes, let's look at the context:

And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Hmmm, are rich people really being singled out in this passage? What is the real teaching here?

Next up, we have the Pharisee's trying to get Jesus to endorse the Roman occupation:
"Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? "Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

Hmm, what't the message here? If the coin is Caesar's because it has his image and his writing on it, then what things would be God's? Why, things with His image, and His writing on it? Gee, let's think, I seem to recall something in the Old Testament about how we're made in God's image, and how He has written his laws on our hearts. Think the Pharisee's would have been familiar with that? You betchya. They knew exactly how neatly they'd been foiled, and once again Jesus advanced his teaching about giving yourself to God. Again, not really about economics.

Still not convinced? Here's a few other things to consider. Was Abraham made rich by God? Was Job made rich by God? Would God have made faithful servants rich if He thought there was something inherently wrong with that? (This is not advocacy of the fallacy that all and only rich people have been blessed by God).

You mention Jesus's parables. Have you ever noticed how much God shows up as the rich guy with servants in them?

There is the parable of the landowner (God), who plants a vinyard, builds a wine factory next to it, and then rents it out. Then he runs into trouble collecting rent, and it's clear that the landowner is in the right. Of course the point isn't really about rent collection, but if you were looking at the economic bits, you might be struck by its endorsement of capitalism.

Or how about the parable with another landowner (God) who hires laborers for his field but pays them all the same regardless of when they started work? Hmm, I seem to recall a bit about money, oh yeah, here it is:
"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
Seems I read something similar about moeny not too long ago, except at far greater length.

How about this from 2 Thessalonians:
Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone's bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

How soon we forget the "protestant work ethic".

Nope, sorry, I'm not buying that committed Christians should advocate socialism.

Tom Cruise

Tom, I demand that you take down that 4 block world cartoon this minute. Don't make me send some angry engrams after you.

Rob

I'll allow that your inaccurate paraphrase of the Bible is probably due to your unfamiliarity of it.. :-} The verse actually goes "It is easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingom of God". Jesus said that just after a man had asked to join up with Jesus. He told the man to sell everything he had and come with them but the man wouldn't because he was rich. Jesus wasn't telling _everyone_ to be itinerant. It as a lesson. The Bible _does_ say this:
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Does _that_ sound like accumulation to you? Granted it's tempered against the warning about coveting the wealth. I myself had a six figure income back when I was consulting. Nothing anti-biblical about that.

James Heaps-Nelson

Kevin,

It seems much more in tune with what Jesus' sermons and parables than market capitalism. Things like "It is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than enter the kingdom of heaven" and "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's"

None of these things seem to be in support of wealth accumulation or self-interest or bolster property rights. Interestingly, with the election of religious conservatives to the White House and Congress, social spending has increased at a greater rate than it did under Lyndon Johnson. I just think religious conservatives are now more philosophically consistent than they used to be.

Jim

Kevin Murphy

Jim,

I repeat, why do you think committed Christians should advocate a form of "compassionate socialism"?

James Heaps-Nelson

Tom,

I just heard Rand's voice from the grave commanding me to never play folk music on my fiddle again and strike up some Rachmaninoff :-)!

There are plenty of us that do have a sense of humor, but the cult thing gets overplayed by people with an axe to grind. Nobody talks about a cult of Aristotle, Nietzsche or other philosopher. We just happen to be serious about ideas and passionate about them.

Jim

James Heaps-Nelson

Tom,

Ask Diana sometime about her run-in with the Scientologists. She got sued and everything :-)!
Wait a minute, I've got to get rid of some engrams and wait for the Thetans to take me away :-)!

Jim

Tom McMahon

I was just giving you all a tweak, Jim. I'm glad you got a chuckle out of it -- that's how it was intended.

Now I'm just waiting to hear from a bunch of angry Scientologists . . .

James Heaps-Nelson

Tom,

I had a chuckle at your 4-Block world cartoon. The idea of Objectivism being a cult seems pretty far-fetched from my personal experience. People have this image of us with our nose in Rand books all the time and venerating the leader. I'm a semiconductor engineer and philosophy really takes up very little of my time. No one is standing over my shoulder telling me what to think.

Jim

James Heaps-Nelson

Kevin,

I either own my money or I don't. If I acknowledge others' rights to a claim on it, I don't really own it. Who is to determine whose needs should be a value to whom and by what criteria?

We all have our own value hierarchies that should be defined by our pursuit of happiness. When someone asks you for money what criteria do you use to say no? How many people have a claim on it and by what right? And if you define your own value hierarchy are others in the right to use the term selfish against you in derision?

In the end the solution is to fight for the value of your person and that which you value above all else. Anything else is a compromise which allows others to whittle away at your freedom inch by inch.

Jim

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