Sunday, December 19, 2010

The god of I

I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction...It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world. It is my mind which thinks, and the judgment of my mind is the only searchlight that can find the truth. It is my will which chooses, and the choice of my will is the only edict I must respect...Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: "I will it!"...Whatever road I take, the guiding star is within me; the guiding star and the loadstone which point the way. They point in but one direction. They point to me...I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.
Ayn Rand, Anthem, (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1995), 87-88.
This was perhaps the most disturbing portion of Ayn Rand's book. Having escaped the clutches of his culture, Equality 7-2521 experiences "freedom" and lands on fulfilling his own personal happiness as the key to life. Goal & purpose were fulfilled in him choosing for himself the fulfillment of his own personal gain. I was blown away at the pure selfishness displayed by the character. Although I can identify with the abuse that a we-based collectivist society could bring to the dearth of individual freedom; it is also wrong to blatantly worship "I". Everything pointing to "me" is no way to see the world. Eventually this can only lead to self-reliance and self-worship. True love has no place in that world - as the needs and focus cannot possibly be extended beyond the realm of oneself. This is the key argument against Rand's belief in objectivism. Everything in that realm is based upon the "I" which has way too many fallacies to support itself. Can one truly trust in themselves and make decisions based upon their own selfish wants and desires and really turn out solid decision making? Its the essence of capitalism once again. That in retaliation to state control, all control is given to the individual with some laissez faire belief that in the pursuit of self we can really benefit society as a whole. I just cannot buy it. The worship of self will always lead to destruction - no matter how much pleasure & happiness it might seem to promise.