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Life is Not Suffering: An Open Letter to Dr. Jordan  Peterson

Life is Not Suffering: An Open Letter to Dr. Jordan Peterson

An Open Letter to Dr. Jordan Peterson Regarding Suffering, Ethics, and Happiness

Dear Dr. Peterson,

Thank you for your defense of individualism in general and of free-speech in particular, and for your defiance of academic nihilism in general and Neo Marxist Postmodernism in particular. Your bestselling 12 Rules for Life; An Antidote to Chaos, your prominence on the Intellectual Dark Web, and your packed out auditoriums around the world, are encouraging signs that Enlightenment values survive the onslaughts from without and within. However, in the name of that Enlightenment project, I ask you to consider whether you break your rule number ten, about being precise in your speech, when you say: “Life is suffering.”

You say: “Life is suffering. That’s clear. There is no more basic, irrefutable truth,” and that this conviction is the “cornerstone” of your belief. If you had said instead: “everyone experiences suffering”, or: “life involves suffering,” who could disagree? But I respectfully dispute your assertion that: “life IS suffering”.  If that were literally true, the obvious solution would be to end it. And if it were clear that: “the baseline of life, is something like unbearable suffering,” what sort of sadist would you have to be to purposely bring a new child into a life sentence of that? Your rules, as I understand them, are predicated on the belief that people are capable of dealing with the challenges of life so that suffering can be marginalized rather than being “the norm”. So why do you insist that: “life IS suffering?” What have I missed? [1]⁠

I have read The Gulag Archipelago and many other horror stories of history, and my second book is about life in Pol Pot’s Kampuchea, so I know of what you speak. But since the Enlightenment we have considered dark ages, plagues, genocides, famines and the like to be aberrations of life as it could and should be. I am a quadriplegic, and members of my family have suffered worse afflictions, so I’m no stranger to suffering – not many people are. But we consider illnesses that make suffering the norm for the afflicted and their loved ones for a period of time to be aberrations, which are to be relieved and in most cases cured. When your daughter suffered so terribly for so long, you didn’t say: “that’s life!” You tried to cure her, on the assumption that her suffering was not life as it was meant to be and could be. And you know better than your opponents how the refusal to accept the inevitability of physical suffering has steadily reduced its prevalence decade by decade for the last two or three centuries. There can be suffering in life – but life is not suffering! [2]

If I understand the genesis of your life-is-suffering premise correctly, it evolved because, when your thinking progressed past the Christianity and socialism of your youth, you were confronted with relativists and subjectivists left and right, and you knew that they were leading us down the lane to chaos and destruction. So, like Rene Descartes, you searched for a foundation that you could not doubt. And you found it in: “The reality of suffering. It brooks no arguments. Nihilists cannot undermine it with skepticism. Totalitarians cannot banish it. Cynics cannot escape from its reality. Suffering is real, and the artful infliction of suffering on another, for its own sake, is wrong. That became the cornerstone of [your] belief.” Then you deduced that: “to place the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering at the pinnacle of your hierarchy of value is to work to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth”. In other words, the relief of suffering became your ethical axiom and your standard of value, by reference to which you rank your hierarchy of values, from increased suffering (the bad) to decreased suffering (the good). As Rene Descartes said, I think therefore I am, you in effect said: people suffer therefore they value. [2]

The problem is that, as Rene Descartes’ followers soon discovered, Cartesian doubt is not a valid foundation for a philosophy. Likewise, I submit, it does not yield a valid standard of value for an ethic (although I suspect its utility is derived from its link to the right standard – I’ll get to that). For one thing, a literal-minded believer might draw the conclusion I intimated above. For another it is only applicable to the negatives of life, it doesn’t motivate the positives. And it gets tangled up on the emotional level because emotions are derived from values, so if you derive your values from emotion, you go in circles.

Your search for an objective standard, against which effects can be ranked as good to bad and human causes as virtues to vices, is the vital step that multiculturalists amongst others have long since abandoned, leaving them unwilling to defend any Western value no matter how beneficial, against contrary values of other cultures no matter how detrimental, because moral relativism leaves each culture with its own inviolate “narrative” that may not be judged except on its own terms. Religions provide standards of value, which they get from revelations delivered via prophets and written down in holy texts, e.g. the Ten Commandments – but their validity in the end has to be taken on faith. The New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, absorb parts of the Judeo-Christian ethic, then kick out the foundation on which they stand, trusting that the ethical precepts will remain naturally as self evidently valid. I agree with you that their hijacked morality will not stand generation to generation without its foundation, but may be used selectively by corrupt power wielders (as the communists did).

Ayn Rand took a decidedly different approach. She started by identifying why living entities need values at all, then why humans need fundamental moral values, and her answers identified what the standard of values must be. She observed that living entities have values because they face a constant alternative: life or death. To a rosebush, its chlorophyll and sunshine are values; to a bird its wings and worms are values, because these promote the entity’s life. We humans can’t live by a rosebush’s values because our nature doesn’t include the capacity of photosynthesis, neither can we live by a bird’s values because our nature doesn’t include wings and instincts – we must live according to the values that our nature demands. But human nature doesn’t compel us to engage our human means of promoting our lives, we have to discover and implement our pro-life values by choice. We are the only species that can act against the requirements of its nature. But we cannot escape the consequences of our choices – hence our need for a pro-life code of moral values to live by.

If we choose to live, we have to identify our human nature and live accordingly. Some requirements of our life function automatically, such as heartbeats, immune systems, reflexes etcetera. But our distinctively human means of survival is reason, and reason is volitional. That is why we need to discover and hold our values consciously, and choose to act to gain and/or keep them voluntarily. A human being is a rational animal; therefore it ought to act rationally, if it wants to live. But it is not always self-evident whether an action is pro-life or anti-life in the long run. The range of choices we are confronted with are unlimited, and the repercussions of any action stretch into an expanding tree of effects that lead to causes that lead to future effects ad infinitum, which makes it impossible to calculate the effects of actions pragmatically (Utilitarianism notwithstanding). We need moral values in the form of principles that apply across-the-board to keep our options within the bounds of the pro-life. E.g. you may choose carpentry or accounting because both are ways of being productive, which is a virtue, but choosing to be a wastrel by default is not within the bounds of pro-life virtue.

We learn our values from our parents and/or the culture we grow up in, but sooner or later, in one way or another, we ask why this is good and that is bad. If I understand you correctly, your ultimate answer is: because this reduces suffering and that increases it. Ayn Rand’s ultimate answer is: because this is for your life as a human being and that is against it. According to her Objectivist Ethics, the proper standard of value, as dictated by the nature of reality including human nature, is: “man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.” It follows that since reason is our species’ most fundamental means of survival, it must be our primary value, and that since its operation is volitional, rationality must be our primary virtue. When that primary is coupled with other identifications of reality and human nature, the virtues of: independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness and pride can be identified, and the initiation of force as an especially pernicious vice.[3]

Where Objectivist virtues coincide with Judeo-Christian virtues, it gives a non-sacrificial reason for following them, where it differs, it sets out its reasons. So adherents of the Objectivist Ethics aren’t expected to sacrifice their lives out of duty to commandments accepted on faith, or sacrifice their best interests as a duty to other people or society. They are expected to judge their best interest in an all-aspects-of-a-whole-of-life context, as the nature of our existence demands. E.g. they are expected to appreciate that delayed gratification is not a sacrifice and that respecting the rights of others is not being unselfish, rather these are principled applications of rational pro-life self-interest.

As I intimated above: I suspect the utility of your life-is-suffering standard of value lies in its link to the pro-life standard of value. On the level of sensations, suffering is a pain, which is your body’s way of telling you what to avoid for the sake of your life. So if you are anti-pain you are pro-life – unless your body is malfunctioning, or you know something it doesn’t. Sometimes you have to override your motivation to avoid pain, such as the pain of an injection or amputation. On the emotional level too, the role of suffering is to warn you that you are acting against your life – provided your emotions are programmed correctly. But there’s the rub! Your emotions are derived from your values; achieving them gives you a positive emotion, losing them a negative emotion; so if you derive your values from an emotion you are going in circles.

If a virtue is based on a pro-life action, let’s say on being productive, and you act immorally, let’s say by being lazy or destructive, you will suffer a negative emotion, let’s say shame or anxiety. That’s if your emotions are functioning as nature intended (as they do automatically for animals and infants) i.e. to encourage pro-life action. But if they are malfunctioning, let’s say with a work phobia, the malfunction can be identified and overridden, or reprogrammed with the help of psychotherapy. Whereas, if your moral value is based on an anti-suffering standard, you don’t question whether the emotion you suffer is malfunctioning because it is your standard. Let’s say you suffer from a work phobia, the obvious “solution” is to stop working. You might notice that the “solution” has bad effects on your life, but if you, therefore reverse your “solution”, you have moved on from an anti-suffering standard to a pro-life standard of value.

Life can involve suffering, but acting virtuously, according to a pro-life morality, minimizes it, because the pro-life is the anti-suffering. Life can also involve happiness, and because the pro-life is the pro-happiness, acting virtuously maximizes it. But by happiness I don’t mean hedonism. As Ayn Rand put it: “Happiness is not to be achieved at the command of emotional whims. Happiness is not the satisfaction of whatever irrational wishes you might blindly attempt to indulge. Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy – a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power, not the joy of faking reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard, but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.” ⁠[4]

The pursuit of happiness, as enshrined as an inalienable right in the American Declaration of Independence, is a distinctively Enlightenment perspective. But it is rooted in the Ancient Greek concept of Eudaemonia, which makes it a distinctively Western perspective. Life as suffering is a distinctively Eastern perspective. “Four Noble Truths on Suffering” constitute the cornerstone of Buddhism. But in the two and a half millennia of its reign, what did that religion do to improved the lot of human beings on this earth? The aim of Buddhism is not to improve your here-and-now, but for you to accept your suffering, which you deserve because of sins you committed in previous lives, and from which there is no escape, not even in death. In Western philosophy this “metaphysical pessimism” rears its head when philosophers turn away from this knowable reality, towards an otherworldly and/or unknowable realm. For example: Saint Augustine (who ushered in the Dark Ages), Arthur Schopenhauer and the existentialists (who ushered in the nihilism of postmodernism and…)

The philosophers who ushered in the knowledge and will to make this world a better place for humans to live in, were those who turned their face to this reality, to identify how we can know it, and how we can turn that knowledge into power, and turn that power into pro-human-life values. For example: Aristotle, and Saint Thomas Aquinas (who ushered in the Renaissance); and Francis Bacon, John Locke, Isaac Newton, and the “metaphysical optimists” of the Enlightenment. Whatever pro-human-life premises were bequeathed by the Judeo-Christian heritage, it was the revival of the Greek pro-reason influence that gave birth to the Enlightenment. And it was the Enlightenment’s elevation of reason and rights that gave birth to modern science, industry, political liberty, capitalism – and the products and services that stopped humans dying like flies, allowing the world’s population to rise from 1 to 7 billion, increasing life expectancy from 30 to 70 years, and reducing the prevalence of suffering so far that the prospect of a person living to a hundred and dying peacefully in bed, never having experienced acute or chronic pain, is no longer inconceivable.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy could be placed on the “metaphysical optimism” side of the divide, but she preferred to call it “the benevolent universe premise”, and she would probably call your view “the malevolent universe premise,” (which is akin to your “Hobbesian by temperament” identification). By “benevolent” Rand didn’t mean that the universe is designed to help or be kind to us, but that it does not play dice with us, so we can learn its laws, and by obeying them, we can command it to improve our lives. Which, if I understand them correctly, is what your twelve rules are designed to do. Your first rule is that we must stand up straight, with our shoulders back, accept responsibility and apply effort. This is, I submit, like most of your rules, a pro-life action. The ultimate purpose of such an action is the maintenance of your life (and the lives of your loved ones, and secondarily everyone else’s). But that ultimate benefit may be experienced along the way as relief of suffering – or as happiness. So pursuit of happiness is not only a political right but is morally right. When it comes to the best therapeutic strategy for people in a psychologically disturbed state, I bow to your expertise. But when it comes to a whole-of-life moral strategy, the maximization of the happiness reward has to be the other side of the minimizing of suffering coin. And, I submit, the more glorious side.

So…

 

Yours sincerely, John Dawson

On the beach in Melbourne

 

[1] Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos; Penguin, Random House Canada, 2018, p.161

[2] Peterson, 12 Rules, pp.197,198

[3] Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness; A New Concept of Egoism, New York, The New American Library, 1964, pp.vii-34.
Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Dutton, Penguin Group, New York, 1991, pp.206–324

[4] Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Random House, New York, 1957 p.1022

Free Speech and Religion: Interview with Philosopher Onkar Ghate

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The Undercurrent has an excellent interview with Onkar Ghate on Free Speech vs. Religion:

Dr. Onkar Ghate is a senior fellow and the Chief Content Officer at the Ayn Rand Institute. He has written and lectured extensively on philosophy and serves as Dean for the Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center in Irvine, CA. The Undercurrent’s Jon Glatfelter had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Ghate regarding the recent shooting at the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, as well as religion and free speech more broadly.

The Undercurrent: Many of the major U.S. media players, including CNN and FOX, still have not published the cartoon contest’s winning piece. Why do you think that is?

Dr. Ghate: I haven’t kept tabs on which outlets have and have not published that cartoon, but there were similar responses in regard to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and, before that, the Danish cartoons in 2005-2006. Sometimes a media outlet would try to explain why it is not showing its audience a crucial element of the news story, and I think these explanations have revealed a mixture of motives at work.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list: fear, cowardice, appeasement, sympathy. Let me say a word on each. Some media outlets are afraid of violent reprisals and of the ongoing security costs that would be necessary to protect staff. And because the U.S. government refuses to take an unequivocal stand in defense of the right to free speech, the totalitarians are emboldened, which makes violent reprisals more likely. So that’s one reason. But despite this legitimate fear, I do think there is often an element of cowardice. The likelihood of an attack can be overstated, and of course if more news outlets publish the cartoons, it is more and more difficult to intimidate and attack them all, and less and less likely that a particular organization will be singled out. Here there is strength in numbers. A third motive is the appeaser’s false hope that if he gives in and doesn’t publish the cartoons, he will have satisfied the attackers and no further threats or demands will follow. Finally, many are sympathetic: out of deference to the non-rational, faith-based emotions of Muslims, they don’t publish the cartoons, even though those cartoons are news. They view the cartoonists and publishers as the troublemakers and villains. (The roots of this sympathy I think are complex and often ugly.)

The Undercurrent: Some have condemned the contest’s organizer, Pamela Geller, and the winning artist, Bosch Fawstin. They say there’s a world of difference between good-natured free expression and malicious speech intended solely to antagonize. What do you think?

Dr. Ghate: I disagree with many things that I’ve heard Pamela Gellar say but I refuse to discuss her real or alleged flaws when totalitarians are trying to kill her, as though those flaws, even if real, justify or mitigate the actions of the aspiring killers. The New York Times editorial to which you link is a disgrace. After a sanctimonious paragraph saying that we all have the right to publish offensive material and that no matter how offensive that material may be, it does not justify murder, the rest of the editorial goes on to criticize the victim of attempted murder. As my colleague and others have noted, this is like denouncing a rape victim instead of her rapists.

And notice what the editorial glosses over: in the first paragraph stating that offensive material does not justify murder, it concludes with the seemingly innocuous point that “it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.”

This is the actual issue. Why don’t you similarly have to tell a group of biochemists or historians, when they disagree about a theory, that their disagreements don’t justify murdering each other? The answers lies in the difference between reason and faith, as I’m sure we’ll discuss, a difference the editorial dares not discuss.

But contra the editorial, the Garland event had a serious purpose. Look at the winning cartoon: it makes a serious point.

Read the rest of Free Speech vs. Religion: An Interview with Onkar Ghate – The Undercurrent:

DOLLAR: Trader Joe’s Shrugs Atlas Style in Orgeon

From an editorial in The Orange County Register:

The successful efforts of a community activist group to scuttle a planned Trader Joe’s development in an economically distressed neighborhood of Northeast Portland, Ore., illustrates the depths to which ideologues will go under the deceptive banners of racial justice and economic fairness.

On paper, it seemed to be a match made in heaven: the famously progressive city of Portland and Trader Joe’s, with its emphasis on organic, non-GMO food, locally sourced goods and animal- and environmentally-conscious sensibilities. But that was not enough for the Portland African American Leadership Forum.

The group’s reasoning for killing the development is as empty as the two-acre lot on which it was to be built. According to a strongly worded letter PAALF sent to the Portland Development Commission, “A new Trader Joe’s will increase the desirability of the neighborhood to nonoppressed populations, thereby increasing the economic pressures that are responsible for the displacement of low-income and black residents.”

In other words, they are concerned that economic development will make the neighborhood too successful and attractive, thus further oppressing the poor (in their minds).

Perhaps it has never occurred to PAALF that it is economic opportunity – not government mandates and handouts – that helps the poor improve their lot in life. And government dictates were central to their proposed “solutions.” The group demanded an affordable housing mandate (serving those earning up to 60 percent of median family income), a “legally binding community hiring agreement,” and “an independent, community-controlled body [that] can negotiate a legally binding community benefits agreement.”

So it is not enough that the $8 million development of four-to-10 retail businesses, with Trader Joe’s serving as the anchor tenant, would bring new jobs, quality food and other goods and services, and tax revenues, to a poor neighborhood. PAALF wanted to extract tribute from the developers and businesses in order to further advance its social and political agenda. It is almost like a scene from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” where the unproductive members of society increasingly feed off of the productive members until the producers decide they have had enough.

And, just as in the novel, Trader Joe’s shrugged. [Editorial: Trader Joe’s shrugged]

Internationally Known Philosopher Leaves Legacy of Scholarship on Aristotle and Ayn Rand

IRVINE, Calif.—It is with great sorrow that the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship and the Ayn Rand Institute announce the death of American philosopher Allan Stanley Gotthelf, in Philadelphia, on August 30, 2013, after an extended battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. He is survived by the Love family—Ronald and Cassandra Love and their sons Zach and Ian Barber, whom Gotthelf regarded as his family—and by his many friends and students, and by his sister, Joan Gotthelf Price.

Gotthelf is best known for his scholarship on Aristotle and on Ayn Rand, with whom Gotthelf was friends. Born in 1942, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After completing bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics, he earned his PhD in philosophy at Columbia University in 1975.

At the time of his death, he was Anthem Foundation Distinguished Fellow for Research and Teaching in Philosophy at Rutgers University. He was also emeritus professor of philosophy at The College of New Jersey and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. Between 2003 and 2012, he was a visiting professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, where he held an Anthem Fellowship for the Study of Objectivism.

David Charles (Oxford University) speaks of Gotthelf’s “decisive role in the renaissance of scholarly and philosophical interest in Aristotle’s biological writings,” and Alan Code (Stanford University) comments that “no scholar has had a deeper and more lasting impact on the scholarly understanding of Aristotle’s biological corpus than Allan Gotthelf.”

Gotthelf made this impact through a series of path-breaking essays now collected in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology (Oxford University Press, 2012) and through the many conferences and workshops he organized. These events formed the basis for two books: Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1987), which Gotthelf co-edited with James G. Lennox (University of Pittsburgh), and Aristotle on Nature and Living Things (Mathesis, 1985). The latter book, which Gotthelf edited, was in honor of his friend and mentor David Balme (University of London), and after Balme’s death in 1989, Gotthelf shepherded several of his projects to publication.

Over the course of his 47-year career, Gotthelf was the recipient of many honors for his work on Aristotle. In 2004 his “contributions to the study of classical philosophy and science” were celebrated at a conference at the University of Pittsburgh, which led to the volume: Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle: Essays in Honor of Allan Gotthelf (Cambridge University Press, 2010), edited by Lennox and Robert Bolton (Rutgers University).

Gotthelf’s introduction to Ayn Rand’s ideas occurred in 1961 when he first read Atlas Shrugged. He would later remark on what he learned from this first reading: “Atlas Shrugged said that the mind I valued in myself was not only a private source of pleasure but was also the means to everything I wanted out of life. I felt about the heroes of the novel that this is the way they felt about themselves and the way they lived and loved their lives was the way I wanted to feel about myself and live and love my life. This was the happiness I was looking for.”

Gotthelf met Ayn Rand in 1962, in connection with lectures on her philosophy that he attended. Rand took a genuine interest in philosophy students, and over the next fifteen years, he had the opportunity for long philosophical discussions with her. He was an active participant in Rand’s famous 1969–71 workshops on Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

From 1964 until his death, Gotthelf spoke on Objectivism countless times at colleges, universities, and for private groups throughout the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Europe, and Japan. As his own career progressed, Gotthelf often mentored young Objectivist intellectuals who were pursuing academic careers in philosophy.

Gotthelf was a founding member of the Ayn Rand Society, a group affiliated with the American Philosophical Association, and he held the Society’s highest office from 1990 until his death. From April of 2013, he shared that office with Gregory Salmieri (Boston University), his former student and frequent collaborator. Gotthelf co-edited (with Lennox) and contributed essays to the first two volumes of the Society’s ongoing Philosophical Studies series, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is the author of On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth, 2000) and is co-editor (with Salmieri) of Ayn Rand: A Companion to Her Works and Thought (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming).

Of Gotthelf’s work to bring Objectivism to the attention of the academic world, Yaron Brook, president of the Anthem Foundation and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, said, “In the natural course of pursuing, and achieving, his values, Allan became a great ambassador for Ayn Rand’s ideas. Because of his knowledge, reputation, and benevolent persistence over the years, Objectivist ideas have begun to see a long-deserved, serious consideration in the academic world. His death is a profound loss. His legacy will inspire Aristotelians and Objectivists alike for generations to come.”

Objectivist philosopher Harry Binswanger, a lifelong friend of Gotthelf, said: “Allan saw his love of Aristotle and of Ayn Rand as of a piece. He was right, because Aristotle and Rand do advocate the same fundamentals: the commitment to reason and to living life fully, realizing one’s highest potential as man.” This was an estimate shared by Rand, who said of Aristotle that “If there is a philosophical Atlas who carries the whole of Western civilization on his shoulders, it is Aristotle.”

Binswanger continued, “Allan was a thinker, a philosopher. He not only taught philosophy, wrote philosophy, and read philosophy, he lived and breathed philosophy. His two heroes were Ayn Rand and Aristotle, and he made important, lasting contributions to the scholarship on each.”

From all of us at the Anthem Foundation and the Ayn Rand Institute, some of whom had the honor of calling Allan a friend, thank you, Allan, for your wisdom, your knowledge, your devotion to a philosophy of reason and life, and your own shining example of a life well lived. You are deeply missed.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 7, 10 a.m., at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. Burial will be at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York, at 3 p.m.

Why The Left Lies About Ayn Rand

From Did Ayn Rand Eat Babies For Breakfast?:

According to Mahatma Gandhi, revolutionaries are first ignored, then laughed at, then attacked—and then they win. Reading George Monbiot’s piece on Ayn Rand, “How AynRand became the new right’s version of Marx” (The Guardian), has made me think that Gandhi could have included an intermediary step between laughter and attack: a step where the adversaries are no longer able to laugh, yet still lack the arguments necessary to launch an attack, thus do what they can to smear.

Monbiot makes his intention clear: He claims that Ayn Rand thought that empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive, that the poor deserve to die, and that those who seek to help them should be gassed. These are lies, and Monbiot knows it.

In spite of the lies, I do have a shred of sympathy for Monbiot – for what else could he say? It becomes clearer every day that Ayn Rand’s prophecy in Atlas Shrugged was spot on. Although the railroad industry in Rand’s novel has been replaced by a financial market, the same plot is played out: a mixed economy collapses and capitalism gets the blame.

[…] Ayn Rand is capitalism’s Karl Marx. Rand is an influential philosopher and iconoclast, and her alternative to Marx’ theory of exploitation is a theory that the wealth we all benefit from – from computers and airplanes to medicines and books – is fundamentally the result of entrepreneurs’ ability to innovate. Entrepreneurs and capitalists are heroes, not villains – and in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand explains why.

Read the rest at Forbes.