Rebirth of Reason


Religion & Liberalism (*)
by Manfred F. Schieder

     "The truth is, however, that only one reality exists." (from "Who should we believe?", by Wafa Sultan)

     "Who can over estimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted in superstition could be used to enlighten, elevate and civilize mankind? (Robert Green Ingersoll – 1833-1899)

     There can be little if any doubt that the content of this writing will spark quite a lot of acrimony among those readers not familiarized with Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.
     However, it is unavoidable and urgent to take up the subject, for it involves mainly those that defend the ideas of political liberalism and the economic expression of the free market yet adhere to the wrong philosophical-moral premises.
     The liberal intellectuals that don't adhere to Objectivism or are unaware of its premises, are immersed in a contradiction in terms, composed by the political and economic liberalism and a mystical and moral system of an unreal and, thus, irrational kind which, thus, is at total loggerheads with liberalism. It is this area that this article will take up for consideration.
     Ayn Rand showed in her writings that contradictions can only exist whenever at least one of the premises involved is false or mistaken. Once the premise originating the contradiction has been corrected or rejected, the contradiction itself disappears. Rand developed the philosophy of Objectivism starting from the premises of reality and since these immediately reveal and denounce every incoherence, she was able to avoid any contradiction in the system deduced.
     Unfortunately contradictions cannot be solved by those who defend both the concepts of liberalism and its economic system, Capitalism, and premises that oppose liberalism itself or that try to avoid the question, assuming that the liberal economic ideas suffice to solve the matter of human well-being. It isn't so, and the anger heaped on these partial liberals from all kinds of political, social and economic areas have shown this beyond any reasonable doubt. Liberals that side with this partial view of considering that the liberal-economic ideas they promote suffice to raise the human well-being face the puzzle of why do they have such difficulties to transfer to the general public facts that should be self-evident.
     The reason of their failure lies in the incompleteness of their efforts, since they try to mix the liberal-economic ideas with moral concepts that directly oppose them. Such a conciliation is totally impossible. The human being is an ethical being, for his survival depends of a norm of values, a moral guide that allows him to evaluate his actions. However, within the still existing social structures, he is obliged to live in accordance with irrational values, and this creates a contradiction in terms that forms the basis of all the social problems that afflict mankind since the times when human beings reached the level that defines us as such: the faculty of reason.
     Our development advanced by natural evolution, during which we inherited from our irrational ancestors a social and, thus, also an economic system and a basis of behavior that was called moral, which adequately corresponded to our forebears but not at all to the intellectual, scientific and technical advance we have reached in the meantime as rational beings. We are still imprisoned in a type of tribal societal form and its ethical controls, but this social and "moral" pattern became obsolete since then, for it corresponds to collectivism and the irrational beliefs peculiar to primitive groupings and, thus, by no means to a modern human society.
     Mankind has reached a level where it must face the recognition of its basic contradiction and correct it, if it wants to avoid its disappearance as a species, a very evident possibility in view of the nuclear and bacteriological weaponry owned by the existing theocratic and collectivist powers. It is a fact that if mankind refuses to consciously solve the existing contradiction, it will be the contradiction itself that will solve the, in its own view, wrong premise: the existence of a species imbued by the characteristic of reason that still adheres to irrational beliefs. Nature itself, which doesn't allow the existence of any contradiction in the whole universe, will erase the human species, the origin of civilization itself, thus solving the existence of the contradiction in terms.
     "It is not men's immorality that is responsible for the collapse now threatening to destroy the civilized world, but the kind of moralities men have been asked to practice," wrote philosopher extraordinaire Ayn Rand, "The responsibility belongs to the philosophers of altruism. They have no cause to be shocked by the spectacle of their own success, and no right to damn human nature: men have obeyed them and have brought their moral ideals into full reality… In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils that you hold as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to fate. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty. You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins; it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection." (from "The Objectivist Ethics" and "Atlas Shrugged").
     This explains the success encountered by Marxism, which, in its several political varieties, is merely the secularized version of the moral dogmas that escorted us as ballast during the slow evolution that moved us away from the irrational animals. Marxism in its various appearances, indicated P. T. Bauer in his book "Dissent on Development", offers a secular, messianic faith or creed which covers all aspects of life and promises salvation on earth but in the indefinite future, that is, salvation here but not now. The attraction as a messianic, all-embracing secular religion allows the adherents to feel that they belong to a movement that is destined to achieve victory.
     That the system abounds in countless major shortcomings that insure its self-destruction, that its prophecies have been disproved by the facts themselves, that brilliant minds such as Bastiat, Menger, Böhm Bawerk, von Mises, Hayek, George Reisman, etc. demolished the structure proving it to be opposed to the nature of things themselves and, even far more, against human nature, and that it is opposed to reality and intellectually untenable, wasn't taken in consideration by its adherents. Just as with religions and attached to them, Marxism offers moral premises that are dogmatic, and thus, false. But since the human being can crawl along his life almost without food but not without a moral backing, Marxism advanced.
     Faced by this onslaught, the liberals moved back, stammering that they wanted to reach the same goal but using different methods, and held tight to dogmas and concepts established by mysticism and translated to its social rendition, collectivism, trying to turn them into their own valid foundation.
     Not unexpectedly, and deservedly, they failed. Those dogmas didn't correspond them, these altruist premises weren't their basis, the ancient moral concepts didn't match the rational requirement reached. The population, which had accepted and felt "protected" by a moral foundation cleverly built by the collectivist ideologues using the mystical precepts entrenched since thousands of years into simple minds, rejected the liberal offer, preferring to obey an impossible morality rather than a well-being that lacked an ethic adequate to its premises.
     That the intellectuals of liberalism are discovering that collectivism leads to the destruction of the species itself is motivated by the fact that we are now living, on a worldwide level, the disastrous consequences of that future in which, in accordance with Keynes' hypocritical comment, we would be dead anyway. For we are that future, we are the children of those dead, but this will be of little help if liberals don't urgently understand the need of the anyway unavoidable rectification of their values, i.e. the morality to which many of them still adhere.
     The discovery of the basic contradiction dates back some 200 years, though the start of the disclosure of the existence of the contradiction lies much farther in the past, in Ancient Greece, when Parmenides (-540 to -470) developed his conclusions about the existence of existence, joined, later on, by Aristotle's unbreakable laws of logic, laws that Kant wanted to break to be able to prove the existence of a "superior being". Since he couldn't destroy Aristotle's inferences, he shoved reason out of the way to make room for the irrational beliefs. The evidence of the contradiction came fully to light when Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin discovered, each of them independently, the mechanism of the evolution of the species. Darwin was inspired in his work by deductions previously made by his grandfather and, later on, many more details were added to complete the task, such as the discovery of the laws of genetics by Gregor Mendel, and the pioneering works of Miller, Crick, Watson, etc.
     We could add here many intermediate steps on the way to the discovery of the essential contradiction referred to, such as the deductions on the universe reached by Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei among others, but it is unnecessary to mention so many additional, related details that can be easily found in any good book on the history of science.
     However, it is necessary to refer to the renewed push towards the growing establishment of individual liberty, that had started in Ancient Greece but was prohibited, in the West, by the establishment of Christianity, for this boost provided the basis for the scientific discoveries related with said contradiction.
     The first signal came through the establishment of the right to the Habeas Corpus ad subjiciendum, the presence of the culprit in every process, pulled by a group of noblemen from the power of the king of England during the 12th century. This seed was to grow vigorously from there on, against all the efforts exercised by the members of religious orders, pseudo-philosophers and politicians to maintain with utter brutality the subjugation of the general population. Among others, Campanella, Thomas More, Hobbes, Saint Simon and Marx can be mentioned as traitors to mankind's efforts to establish individual liberty.
     Habeas Corpus is merely an example of a rebellion that had not been declared but in fact came up in the brains of certain thinkers and scientists, which at that time were alchemists that, through many times serendipitous discoveries, were to signify the start of the science of chemistry and further areas of scientific endeavor.
     All this helped to unavoidably reveal the existing contradiction. But it required the arrival of a genius, Ayn Rand (1905 - 1982) for the liberal intellectuals and politicians and, increasingly, also some collectivist thinkers, which explains the notable change of position in several of them, to notice that not only the methods differed but the aims to be reached as well. What was fundamentally different was the basis of liberalism itself; its values, its goals, its way of behavior, its moral duties, the relations with our fellow men, i.e. each and every branch of philosophy. In other words: philosophy is the basis of every human fulfillment. I must repeat this: philosophy is the basis of everything else.
     Let me explain this a little differently. If you understand that you live in a universe ruled by natural laws that is, thus, stable, firm, absolute and comprehensible, if you consider that human beings obtain their knowledge by means of a process of reasoning, if you understand that the two premises mentioned allow us to deduce a moral system that holds everyone's right to exist for himself, to search for happiness, to uphold self-esteem, the pride for the work done as values and that this ethic will unavoidably produce a social system where government has no right to interfere with what humans do (as long as these activities don't imply an act of violence against another person) you will evidently have an objective view of existence and, as a result, a feeling of confidence and optimism that will be radically different from the insecurity experienced by those who understand that we live in an incomprehensible chaos, that ideas are set into us by supernatural beings or entities, that we are blind passengers in a world "we didn't make", subject to obey commands imposed by those who present themselves as placed above us and that our existence can only be justified if we live for others.
     Moreover, most people never took up the task of clearly differentiating between both positions, both "senses of life". In general, there's a horrible collage of indiscriminated and even unnoticed contradictions in their brain, taken up along the way or subconsciously accepted from writings and what so-called intellectuals say, intellectuals that are no less confused or positively malevolent. Should you ask yourself where did today's "mixed" economy originate, the foregoing provides a good clue.
     It isn't necessary to point out that liberalism as a social system - and its economic expression, Capitalism of total laissez faire - faced so many difficulties to transmit its evident advantages of liberty, individual rights and well-being because most of its proponents limited themselves either to keep it in a philosophical vacuum or, else, bogged it into endless contradictions for fear of having to face dogmas and moral concepts that are established but false.
     The liberal system is totally different, as Ayn Rand showed in her philosophy of Objectivism, where she deduced that man has only one tool of survival: the faculty of reason and that he has to use it to adapt the environment to his requirements instead of adapting to the environment as the irrational animals must, an aim that the false worshippers of nature, the enemies of technical progress, want to reach: the ecologists and environmentalists. Man lacks an instinctive code of values, and deducing a rational code was taken up and brought to completion by Ayn Rand, who deduced the values and virtues that guide man's life. In its wake this demands a social system that is fundamentally different from the tribal one, the one that corresponds to the other species; a social system rationally individualistic where every man's life is an end in itself and not a means for the ends of his fellow men; where each man's happiness in this, his only life, must be his highest moral aim and the objective of his productive effort; where his liberty and his rights are only limited by the same rights of his fellow men, the other human beings.
     To favor, promote or adhere to any religion whatsoever, is wrong for liberals because it is inconsistent. Religions are the direct antithesis of individual liberty; they are comrades and defenders of all collectivist doctrines, which brought so much harm to the general population world over. It's necessary for those liberals that don't adhere to Objectivism or are unaware of its premises, to understand that by adhering to religion as the moral foundation of their ideas, they commit a tragic contradiction in terms. No religion provides the groundwork for liberal ideas, in spite of the fact that still many liberals want to be devoted to such an inconsistency, and it's deeply deplorable that many liberals haven't understood it yet.
     The basis of religions is the devotion of poverty, leaving aside the evident contradiction presented by the magnificence accumulated and held for themselves by these "defenders of the poor", a position that they will only be able to hold as long as they subject the poor to their miserable condition. The liberal thought is totally opposed to this standpoint, for liberalism promotes economic well-being and, thus, its efforts are directed towards the creation of wealth and personal development up to where every individual wishes or can attain. It is due to this that liberalism can't reduce its program to merely promote economic wealth. While this task is extremely important in itself, lacking a declaration of moral principles based on reason and reality will not be able to move human beings to renounce their adherence to a moral foundation that is wrong because it is irrational.
     Liberalism has its own moral foundation which must be broadcast, a foundation totally different from the one promoted by religions. As long as liberals don't understand and accept this matter of integrity in all its inherent consequences, they will continue to act with manifest albeit unconscious hypocrisy and will, thus, not obtain the majority of adherents they desire and need. They won't be able to convince, for people are, in general, well disposed but no fools. Their "sense of life" shows them the wrong moral position held by liberals which, on the one hand, tacitly accepts the religious doctrine of poverty while, on the other, oppose it by proposing productivity and well-being. The incompatibility couldn't be more evident and, thus, unsustainable as well. Every contradiction causes reprove.
     The morality appropriate to human beings is not the fantasy invented by mystical chieftains wanting to subject mankind to their power, but the one deduced through logic and the analysis of human nature from reality by the brilliant philosopher Ayn Rand: Objectivism. Trying to tie liberalism to religions in any of its numerously different versions, is a contradiction in terms.
     If religions had been eliminated thousands of years ago, the untimely death of millions upon millions of productive human beings dying in useless religious wars would have been avoided and practically all poverty with its concomitant physical and social plagues would have been erased. The money squandered in building and maintaining useless temples, in supporting religious organizations and people related with them, could have been invested in productive private activities that would have solved the economic and health problems of countless people. Wars would have been avoided, freedom would have been established and, as a consequence, human happiness as well. This is neither a fantasy nor an impossible dream, but not to have moved in its attainment is inexcusable. Many liberals still seem not to have understood how the way towards well-being and happiness is to be built, although the philosophical, ideological and political foundations are already available. This is not the way to construct the future! To the above described disheartening situation we have now even to add the Islamite fanaticism; should they succeed it would mean the end of human existence, and this is neither kind nor benevolent nor desirable for mankind.
     There is only one moral idea that backs the ideas of individual liberty and it was Ayn Rand who deduced it by analyzing reality. It isn't possible to combine incompatibles, for a mixture of opposing foundations leads to a jumble of senselessness. "There can be no compromise on moral principles," stated Ayn Rand in her article "Doesn't Life require Compromise?", and underscored this in "Atlas Shrugged": "In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit." Trying to join religiosity with liberalism is a monstrous contradiction that will never be solved by backing the liberal economic ideas with an irrational "morality". Correct economic ideas are based on correct philosophical ones but these, precisely because they are correct, are fundamentally different from  those defended by religions. While these defend in all its forms the altruist collectivism, Objectivism sustains the correct economic ideas (Capitalism) strictly on the corresponding philosophical-moral context. There is no other solution available.
     It will never be possible to base a society of free men on biblical or, per religious variety, similar laws that enhance the importance of imaginary beings or institutions and oblige the human being to live in accordance with rules imposed by such impossibilities. What is sacred is the existence of the human being and not absurd fantasies. It is essential for liberals to understand this. Capitalism is the economic function of a social form definitively based on the use of reason. Therefore, it is irreligious, i.e. atheist, in opposition to communism, etc. which is the secular expression of every theocracy.
     Hence, it is pressing that the liberals that haven't yet taken up the morality deduced from reality by philosopher Ayn Rand, to accept and promote it, for this is the only one proper to political and economic liberalism. It eliminates the existing contradiction in its basic concepts. Without it, liberals lack every chance to be successful in sowing their ideas.

(*) Liberalism, in the European sense of the word
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