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Aproveitando a referência do Manuel a Ayn Rand, autora que me tem prendido a leitura nos intervalos do estudo para os exames, deixo alguns excertos retirados da brilhante e poderossíssima palestra "Faith and Force: The destroyers of the modern world", que podem encontrar na colecção de ensaios de Rand Philosophy: Who needs it, ou na versão audio aqui. A quase totalidade encontra-se também neste site. Sei que ninguém ou quase ninguém se irá dar ao trabalho de ler este extenso post mas, ainda assim, não poderia deixar passar em branco tamanha demonstração de clarividência. Recomenda-se vivamente a todos os comunistas, socialistas, bloquistas, nazis, kantianos, rousseaunianos, jacobinos e afins:



"The three values which men held for centuries and which have now collapsed are: mysticism, collectivism, altruism.  Mysticism -- as a cultural power -- died at the time of the Renaissance.  Collectivism -- as a political ideal -- died in World War II.  As to altruism -- it has never been alive.  It is the poison of death in the blood of Western civilization, and men survived it only to the extent to which they neither believed nor practiced it.  But it has caught up with them -- and that is the killer which they now have to face and to defeat. That is the basic choice they have to make.  If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject."



"What is the morality of altruism?  The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to live for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.
Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others.  These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible.  The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice -- which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction --- which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as the standard of the good."




"Now there is one word -- a single word -- which can blast the morality of altruism out of existence and which it cannot withstand -- the word: "Why?"  Why must man live for the sake of others? Why must he be a sacrificial animal?  Why is that the good?  There is no earthly reason for it -- and, ladies and gentlemen, in the whole history of philosophy no earthly reason has ever been given.

It is only mysticism that can permit moralists to get away with it.  It was mysticism, the unearthly, the supernatural, the irrational that has always been called upon to justify it -- or, to be exact, to escape the necessity of justification.  One does not justify the irrational, one just takes it on faith.  What most moralists -- and few of their victims -- realize is that reason and altruism are incompatible And this is the basic contradiction of Western civilization: reason versus altruism.  This is the conflict that had to explode sooner or later.

The real conflict, of course, is reason versus mysticism.  But if it weren't for the altruist morality, mysticism would have died when it did die -- at the Renaissance -- leaving no vampire to haunt Western culture.  A "vampire" is supposed to be a dead creature that comes out of its grave only at night -- only in the darkness -- and drains the blood of the living.  The description, applied to altruism, is exact."




"Let us define our terms.  What is reason?  Reason is the faculty which perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses.  Reason integrates man's perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man's knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic -- and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.   What is mysticism?   Mysticism is the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one's senses and one's reason.  Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as "instinct," "intuition," "revelation,' or any form of "just knowing."


"In Western civilization, the period ruled by mysticism is known as the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages.  I will assume that you know the nature of that period and the state of human existence in those ages.  The Renaissance broke the rule of the mystics.  "Renaissance" means "rebirth."  Few people today will care to remind you that it was a rebirth of reason -- of man's mind.
In the light of what followed -- most particularly, in the light of the industrial revolution -- nobody can now take faith, or religion, or revelation, or any form of mysticism as his basic and exclusive guide to existence, not in the way it was taken in the Middle Ages.  This does not mean that the Renaissance has automatically converted everybody to rationality; far from it.  It means only that so long as a single automobile, a single skyscraper or a single copy of Aristotle's Logic remains in existence, nobody will be able to arouse men's hope, eagerness and joyous enthusiasm by telling them to ditch their minds and rely on mystic faith.  This is why I said that mysticism, as a cultural power, is dead.  Observe that in the attempts at a mystic revival today, it is not an appeal to life, hope and joy that the mystics are making, but an appeal to fear, doom and despair.  "Give up, your mind is impotent, life is only a foxhole," is not a motto that can revive a culture.
Now, if you ask me to name the man most responsible for the present state of the world, the man whose influence has almost succeeded in destroying the achievements of the Renaissance -- I will name Immanuel Kant.  He was the philosopher who saved the morality of altruism, and who knew that what it had to be saved from was -- reason.

This is not a mere hypothesis.  It is a known historical fact that Kant's interest and purpose in philosophy was to save the morality of altruism, which could not survive without a mystic base.  His metaphysics and his epistemology were devised for that purpose.  He did not, of course, announce himself as a mystic -- few of them have, since the Renaissance.  He announced himself as a champion of reason -- of "pure" reason.
There are two ways to destroy the power of a concept:  one, by an open attack in open discussion -- the other, by subversion, from the inside; that is: by subverting the meaning of the concept, setting up a straw man and then refuting it.  Kant did the second.  He did not attack reason -- he merely constructed such a version of what is reason that it made mysticism look like plain, rational common sense by comparison. 
He did not deny the validity of reason -- he merely claimed that reason is "limited," that it leads us to impossible contradictions, that everything we perceive is an illusion and that we can never perceive reality or "things as they are."  He claimed, in effect, that the things we perceive are not real, because we perceive them.




"As to Kant's version of the altruist morality, he claimed that it was derived from "pure reason," not from revelation -- except that it rested on a special instinct for duty, a "categorical imperative" which one "just knows." His version of morality makes the Christian one sound like a healthy, cheerful, benevolent code of selfishness.  Christianity merely told man to love his neighbor as himself;  that's not exactly rational -- but at least it does not forbid man to love himself.  What Kant propounded was full, total, abject selflessness: he held that an action is moral only if you perform it out of a sense of duty and derive no benefit from it of any kind, neither material nor spiritual; if you derive any benefit, your action is not moral any longer.  This is the ultimate form of demanding that man turn himself into a "shmoo" -- the mystic little animal of the Li'l Abner comic strip, that went around seeking to be eaten by somebody.
It is Kant's version of altruism that is generally accepted today, not practiced -- who can practice it? -- but guiltily accepted.  It is Kant's version of altruism that people, who have never heard of Kant, profess when they equate self-interest with evil.  It is Kant's version of altruism that's working whenever people are afraid to admit the pursuit of any personal pleasure or gain or motive -- whenever men are afraid to confess that they are seeking their own happiness -- whenever businessmen are afraid to say that they are making profits -- whenever the victims of an advancing dictatorship are afraid to assert their "selfish" rights.
The ultimate monument to Kant and to the whole altruist morality is Soviet Russia.

If you want to prove to yourself the power of ideas and, particularly, of morality -- the intellectual history of the nineteenth century would be a good example to study.  The greatest, unprecedented, undreamed of events and achievements were taking place before men's eyes -- but men did not see them and did not understand their meaning, as they do not understand it to this day.  I am speaking of the industrial revolution, of the United States and of capitalism.  For the first time in history, men gained control over physical nature and threw off the control of men over men -- that is: men discovered science and political freedom.  The creative energy, the abundance, the wealth, the rising standard of living for every level of the population were such that the nineteenth century looks like fiction-Utopia, like a blinding burst of sunlight, in the drab progression of most of human history.  If life on earth is one's standard of value, then the nineteenth century moved mankind forward more than all the other centuries combined.
Did anyone appreciate it?  Does anyone appreciate it now?  Has anyone identified the causes of that historical miracle?
They did not and have not.  What blinded them?  The morality of altruism.

Let me explain this.  There are, fundamentally, only two causes of the progress of the nineteenth century -- the same two causes which you will find at the root of any happy, benevolent, progressive era in human history.  One cause is psychological, the other existential -- or: one pertains to man's consciousness, the other to the physical conditions of his existence.  The first is reason, the second is freedom.  And when I say "freedom," I do not mean poetic sloppiness, such as "freedom from want" or "freedom from fear" or "freedom from the necessity of earning a living."  I mean "freedom from compulsion -- freedom from rule by physical force."  Which means: political freedom.
These two -- reason and freedom -- are corollaries, and their relationship is reciprocal: when men are rational, freedom wins; when men are free, reason wins.
Their antagonists are: faith and force. 
These, also, are corollaries: every period of history dominated by mysticism, was a period of statism, of dictatorship, of tyranny.  Look at the Middle Ages -- and look at the political systems of today.
The nineteenth century was the ultimate product and expression of the intellectual trend of the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, which means: of a predominantly Aristotelian philosophy.  And, for the first time in history, it created a new economic system, the necessary corollary of political freedom, a system of free trade on a free market: capitalism.
No, it was not a full, perfect, unregulated, totally laissez-faire capitalism -- as it should have been.  Various degrees of government interference and control still remained, even in America -- and this is what led to the eventual destruction of capitalism.  But the extent to which certain countries were free was the exact extent of their economic progress.  America, the freest, achieved the most.
Never mind the low wages and harsh living conditions of the early years of capitalism.  They were all that the national economies of the time could afford.  Capitalism did not create poverty -- it inherited it.  Compared to the centuries of precapitalist starvation, the living conditions of the poor in the early years of capitalism were the first chance the poor had ever had to survive.  As proof -- the enormous growth of the European population during the nineteenth century, a growth of over 300 percent, as compared to the previous growth of something like 3 percent per century.
Now why was this not appreciated?  Why did capitalism, the truly magnificent benefactor of mankind, arouse nothing but resentment, denunciations and hatred, then and now?  Why did the so-called defenders of capitalism keep apologizing for it, then and now?  Because, ladies and gentlemen, capitalism and altruism are incompatible.
Make no mistake about it -- and tell it to your Republican friends: capitalism and altruism cannot coexist in the same man or in the same society.

Tell it to anyone who attempts to justify capitalism on the ground of the "public good" or the "general welfare" or "service to society" or the benefit it brings to the poor.  All these things are true, but they are the by-products, the secondary consequences of capitalism -- not its goal, purpose or moral justification.  The moral justification of capitalism is man's right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; it is the recognition that man -- every man -- is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others, not a sacrificial animal serving anyone's need.
There is a tragic, twisted sort of compliment to mankind involved in this issue: in spite of all their irrationalities, inconsistencies, hypocrisies and evasions, the majority of men will not act, in major issues, without a sense of being morally right  and will not oppose the morality they have accepted.  They will break it, they will cheat on it, but they will not oppose it; and when they break it, they take the blame on themselves.  The power of morality is the greatest of all intellectual powers -- and mankind's tragedy lies in the fact that the vicious moral code men have accepted destroys them by means of the best within them.
So long as altruism was their moral ideal, men had to regard capitalism as immoral; capitalism certainly does not and cannot work on the principle of selfless service and sacrifice.  This was the reason why the majority of the nineteenth-century intellectuals regarded capitalism as a vulgar, uninspiring, materialistic necessity of this earth, and continued to long for their unearthly moral ideal.  From the start, while capitalism was creating the splendor of its achievements, creating it in silence, unacknowledged and undefended (morally undefended), the intellectuals were moving in greater and greater numbers towards a new dream: socialism.

Just as a small illustration of how ineffectual a defense of capitalism was offered by its most famous advocates, let me mention that the British socialists, the Fabians, were predominantly students and admirers of John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham.
The socialists had a certain kind of logic on their side; if the collective sacrifice of all to all is the moral ideal, then they wanted to establish this ideal in practice, here and on this earth.    The arguments that socialism would not and could not work, did not stop them: neither has altruism ever worked, but this has not caused men to stop and question it.  Only reason can ask such questions -- and reason, they were told on all sides, has nothing to do with morality, morality lies outside the realm of reason, no rational morality can ever be defined.
The fallacies and contradictions in the economic theories of socialism were exposed and refuted time and time again, in the nineteenth century as well as today.  This did not and does not stop anyone; it is not an issue of economics, but of morality.  The intellectuals and the so-called idealists were determined to make socialism work.  How? By that magic means of all irrationalists: somehow.

It was not the tycoons of big business, it was not the working classes, it was the intellectuals who reversed the trend toward political freedom and revived the doctrines of the absolute State, of totalitarian government rule, of the government's right to control the lives of the citizens in any manner it pleases.  This time, it was not in the name of the "divine right of kings," but in the name of the divine right of the masses.  The basic principle was the same: the right to enforce at the point of a gun the moral doctrines of whoever happens to seize control of the machinery of government.
There are only two means by which men can deal with one another: guns or logic.  Force or persuasion.  Those who know that they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the socialists got their dream.  They got it in the twentieth century and they got it in triplicate, plus a great many lesser carbon copies; they got it in every possible form and variant, so that now there can be no mistake about its nature: Soviet Russia -- Nazi Germany -- Socialist England.
This was the collapse of the modern intellectuals' most cherished tradition.  It was World War II that destroyed collectivism as a political ideal.  Oh, yes, people still mouth its slogans, by routine, by social conformity and by default -- but it is not a moral crusade any longer.  It is an ugly, horrifying reality -- and part of the modern intellectuals' guilt is the knowledge that they have created it.  They have seen for themselves the bloody slaughterhouse which they had once greeted as a noble experiment -- Soviet Russia.  They have seen Nazi Germany -- and they know that "Nazi" means "National Socialism."  Perhaps the worst blow to them, the greatest disillusionment, was Socialist England: here was their literal dream, a bloodless socialism, where force was not used for murder, only for expropriation, where lives were not taken, only the products, the meaning and the future of lives, here was a country that had not been murdered, but had voted itself into suicide.  Most of the modern intellectuals, even the more evasive ones, have now understood what socialism -- or any form of political and economic collectivism -- actually means.
Today, their perfunctory advocacy of collectivism is as feeble, futile and evasive as the alleged conservatives' defense of capitalism.  The fire and the moral fervor have gone out of it.  And when you hear the liberals mumble that Russia is not really socialistic, or that it was all Stalin's fault, or that socialism never had a real chance in England, or that what they advocate is something that's different somehow -- you know that you are hearing the voices of men who haven't a leg to stand on, men who are reduced to some vague hope that "somehow my gang would have done it better."
The secret dread of modern intellectuals, liberals and conservatives alike, the unadmitted terror at the root of their anxiety, which all of their current irrationalities are intended to stave off and to disguise, is the unstated knowledge that Soviet Russia is the full, actual, literal, consistent embodiment of the morality of altruism, that Stalin did not corrupt a noble ideal, that this is the only way altruism has to be or can ever be practiced.  If service and self-sacrifice are a moral ideal, and if the "selfishness" of human nature prevents men from leaping into sacrificial furnaces, there is no reason -- no reason that a mystic moralist could name -- why a dictator should not push them in at the point of bayonets -- for their own good, or the good of humanity, or the good of posterity, or the good of the latest bureaucrat's five-year plan.  There is no reason that they can name to oppose any atrocity. 
The value of a man's life?  His right to exist?  His right to pursue his own happiness?  These are concepts that belong to individualism and capitalism -- to the antithesis of the altruist morality.

Twenty years ago the conservatives were uncertain, evasive, morally disarmed before the aggressive moral self-righteousness of the liberals.  Today, both are uncertain, evasive, morally disarmed before the aggressiveness of the communists.  It is not a moral aggressiveness any longer, it is the plain aggressiveness of a thug -- but what disarms the modern intellectuals is the secret realization that a thug is the inevitable, ultimate and only product of their cherished morality.
I have said that faith and force are corollaries, and that mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality.  The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism.  Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference.  But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are impossible.  Why do we kill wild animals in the jungle?  Because no other way of dealing with them is open to us.  And that is the state to which mysticism reduces mankind -- a state where, in case of disagreement, men have no recourse except to physical violence.  And more: no man or mystical elite can hold a whole society subjugated to their arbitrary assertions, edicts and whims, without the use of force.  Anyone who resorts to the formula: "It's so, because I say so," will have to reach for a gun, sooner or later.  Communists, like all materialists, are neo-mystics: it does not matter whether one rejects the mind in favor of revelations or in favor of conditioned reflexes.  The basic premise and the results are the same.
Such is the nature of the evil which modern intellectuals have helped to let loose in the world -- and such is the nature of their guilt.

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publicado às 19:57

6 comentários

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De António de Almeida a 20.06.2009 às 22:17

Samuel, isto era para ser um post ou uma aula? Nutro simpatia por Ayn Rand, vejo com regularidade os vídeos do Ayn Rand Institute no youtube.
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De Samuel de Paiva Pires a 21.06.2009 às 01:43

De facto é uma aula António, e magistral :)
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De PF a 21.06.2009 às 01:28

Não quero ser antipático, mas nunca ouviste falar numas coisas chamadas links?
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De Samuel de Paiva Pires a 21.06.2009 às 01:43

Links para o quê Pedro? Não percebi!
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De LUIS BARATA a 22.06.2009 às 18:45

Leituras perigosas... Não sou grande fã desta papisa do individualismo extremo.
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De Samuel de Paiva Pires a 22.06.2009 às 20:38

Eu sou adepto da perigosidade controversa Luis :)

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