I was disappointed when a commentator on this blog suggested that Ayn Rand would have supported Kaushik Basu’s heinous suggestion that bribe givers be exonerated from culpability.
I have no doubt that it is impractical, and hence not worth while, to pursue retail “bribers”, and so I advocate system reform. But to take a position that bribe givers should somehow be exonerated from their crime (no matter how petty) is beyond deplorable. It is worthy of severe rebuke.
And it is totally absurd and demeaning to suggest that Ayn Rand would have EVER countenanced such nonsense in the name of “rationality”. She would have been the first to point out that rationality without reference to VALUE (human life and liberty) is pointless and guaranteed to mislead. There is a slippery slope from rationality to "rationalisation". Rand would NEVER advocate blind reason.
I cite from John Hospers’s Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, p.593, where he refers to Ayn Rand’s concept of value (and morality).
The men who attempt to survive, not by means of reason, but by means of force, are attempting to survive by the method of animals. But just as animals would not be able to survive by attempting the method of plants, by rejecting locomotion and waiting for the soil to feed them—so men cannot survive by attempting the method of animals, by rejecting reason and counting on productive men to serve as their prey. Such looters may achieve their goals for the range of a moment, at the price of destruction: the destruction of their victims and their own. As evidence, I offer you any criminal or any dictatorship. [Virtue of Selfishness, pp.23-24] [Sanjeev: This section applies to bribe SEEKERS]
"Man's survival," then, means his survival as a specific kind of biological organism—that is, as a human being; that is, as a rational being. The good-for-man is that which is required for his survival as a rational being. Accordingly,
It does not mean a momentary or a merely physical survival. It does not mean the momentary physical survival of a mindless brute, waiting for another brute to crush his skull. It does not mean the momentary physical survival of a crawling aggregate of muscles who is willing to accept any terms, obey any thug and surrender any values, for the sake of what is known as "survival at any price," which may or may not last a week or a year. "Man's survival qua man" means the terms, methods, conditions and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan—in all those aspects of existence which are open to his choice. [Virtue of Selfishness, p.24] [Sanjeev: This section applies to bribe GIVERS - their momentary survival, their surrender to thugs, their surrender of values, their search of "survival at any price" is BEYOND deplorable. It is petty, it is worm-like. It is not human.]
Does it follow from the above that it would be wrong for a man ever to risk his life? Not at all: if, for instance, a man were trapped in a dictatorship, where freedom of thought and action were suppressed and proper human conditions of existence were made impossible, he might very well risk his life in the fight to escape or to overthrow the dictatorship; but his act would be motivated by loyalty to the life proper to man and by his refusal to exist in a subhuman state.
One is saying much more than simply that man must be alive in order to pursue values: one is saying that man must pursue values in order to remain alive—and that this is the base of ethics and of all questions of moral value.
The point is clear. We do not live for the sake of survival. We must live a PROUD life that PLEASES us in every way. But we cannot be proud (and even haughty, as all of Rand's heros are) if we do not respect ourselves SO MUCH that we will spit on anyone who seeks to undermine our self-respect.
An act of bribery is demeaning, dehumanising, vile and servile.
Ayn Rand and I were soul-mates from before I knew of her. John Galt was her and John Galt was I: even before I ever heard of John Galt.
I live for my satisfaction, to achieve MY ideals. Your servility and compromises do not interest me. Nor would Ayn Rand care for Basu's rationalisations (or those of my commentator).
Third rate "economists" and socialists can "rationalise" all they like, but it takes some self-respect to give life its meaning.
I trust my commentator – who simply has no clue about Ayn Rand – will one day start valuing himself as a human. Currently he lives a sub-human existence, a crawling aggregate of muscles.
If my commentator still doesn't understand what Rand stood for (and I stand for), then I suggest he refer to Kant's categorical imperative. That's exactly the standard of assessing an action that Rand was following, and which I advocate.
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