Rebirth of Reason

The Good Life

An Objectivist World
by Joseph Rowlands

The other day I had a conversation with a co-worker about politics.  At one point I said I don't really think it matters who wins the next election, because the real war is not being fought on that level. I explained that politics is an extension of ethics, and as long as our culture embraces altruism, you can never expect a real improvement. He then asked what kind of culture I would find ideal.  And here's roughly what I said:

I dream of a world where each person is dedicated to his own personal happiness. People would concentrate on the things that made their life better. They would find careers that excited them and compensated them well. They would eat food they liked, pick up hobbies they enjoyed, and alter their surroundings to make themselves more at ease. They would have meaningful relationships with others.  They would seek to grow and improve themselves, and expand their opportunities and choices. They would focus on the things in life that gave them satisfaction.

By focusing on their own lives and happiness, they would acquire the necessary skills to do it themselves. They wouldn't expect others to take care of them or make decisions for them. They would venture out into the world, and make what they could of it. They would practice the virtue of independence, learning to count on themselves and trust in their own abilities.

They wouldn't try to live other people's lives for them.  They wouldn't try to control someone, to make him do what they thought was best. They would acknowledge that their own life was their responsibility, and that others should be allowed to live their lives as they saw fit. In my kind of world, they would care too much about their own happiness to waste time obsessing about how others lived their lives.

They would live by the trader principle, taking pleasure in knowing that what they have is theirs by right, and with full moral conviction that they've earned it. They would treat others with a respect that comes from their own confidence in their ability to make it in the world, and the knowledge that trade is a form of cooperation. They would see business as a tool of survival by mutual advantage, instead of as a necessary evil. Trade would be seen as a sign of mutual respect, not as an attempt to rob the other person.

People would think for themselves, and make their own judgments. They would trust themselves to make choices and to understand issues, instead of trusting the crowd. They would no longer blindly follow someone because he claimed to be an authority. Their own mind, and reality, would be their arbiters of the truth.

Every person would realize that his life was precious, and he shouldn't waste a minute of it. He would brush off unchosen obligations and relationships. Families, for instance, could no longer demand respect or attention.  Instead, they'd have to earn it. By focusing on what's actually of value, people would reject the people and activities that drained away their time and energy.

And the culmination of the society is that all people would recognize and feel strongly that their life belonged to them, and no other.  If others claimed even a minute of their lives, they would fight. If others tried to make them live for some other purpose, they would fight. If others attacked them, they would fight. It would be a world of people who knew what they were living for, and took it absolutely seriously.

This is the kind of world I envision.  Or at least, it's a good start.
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