Monday, January 28, 2013

What is the Next "Age?" And When Can Stop Asking, "Are We There Yet?" Part 2

What to say of Rand's "Age of Reason?"

I agree with the basic tenants of her argument. There is a dangerous ideology, especially in a particular capitalist democratic republic, which promotes that achievement is only acceptable if it is done quietly, with humility, and shared. And if achievement is not done in that manner, it should be scrutinized and demonized. Also that if achievement cannot be or is not attempted to be achieved it should then be given.

But one also has to define achievement in a historical context, and I feel a good start is to define what achievement is not. It is not amassing material wealth through any means possible. It is not personal gain at the expense of the welfare of many. Achievement cannot exist built on policies of destruction.

How does "the age of envy" function in the modern world? What could be the possible institutions that exist today with the function of inhibiting the progress of civilization via the ideology of a scorched earth policy?

Why do large corporations and their subsequent lobbyists and subsequent politicians pursue a scorched earth policy? Because that is how "envy" functions in the free market; envy being resentment of naturally occurring superior ability, which functionally is no different than the sentiment of, "If I can't have what what you have, then nobody should have it, or anything." 

The fraudulent practices of Wall Street bankers and other institutions "too big to fail" is not achievement, too many have suffered as a result. If the whole world suffers for the material comfort, gain, and greed of a few - how is that democracy? how is that achievement? how can that last?

One should also consider certain antiquated notions of Rand's philosophy, such as her obvious presumption that there is a bottomless well of natural resources, and that humans are somehow exempt from influencing anything but each other.

For such a philosopher as her to ignore the sciences of her day in her theories has always shocked me. But one also has to consider that she remained forever tethered to her roots of escaping Bolshevik revolutionary thought and condemning anything that even whiffed of the horrible mutation brought on by Stalinist rule. Concerning the science she constantly ignored was that of Rachel Carson, whose publication predated Rand's article in question by a decade. Also, Rand curiously never seemed to see any link between her theories and the blossoming science of atomic/ particle physics - in that if all matter is made of 92 elements or 3 subatomic particles, how is it in some way not all connected. 

And that is the one thing that always gets me about Rand. How could she not see the connectivity between all things. If she could see how a group of a "few" "haters" could be a cancer on the whole of society, she seemed to always disregard how that was a two-way street. If those that achieve are willing to leave doors open for others to do so as well, as opposed to closing them in hopes consolidating one's gains (to one's eventual detriment), it still holds true that no one person is an island. Income inequality is the single greatest cause of social malady, as well as a root cause of envy.

Thus, one must wonder both if we have, and (if we haven't) when will we leave this "age of envy?"

And I originally ask, "what is the next age?" As Rand's essay was written/ published in 1971, and she posits that she was in the age of envy, one of two cases are true. Either we are still in that age, or we have moved to a new age.

I would argue that we are still in the depths of the age of envy. Moreover, we are so far into the deep of the darkness of that age, that it would seem way too late to back-out. So forward progress is the only reasonable option. 

Not a socialist doctrine which the very misunderstood concept strikes fear in the heart of the American populous, but rather a policy of well being for all of society. Not of dolling out resources to everyone equally but of allowing equal opportunity for everyone. It is undeniable that those born into poverty have less opportunity to realize one's potential than those born into wealth and privilege.

Consider that.

No comments:

Post a Comment