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Ayn Rand's "Fountainhead"

Posted by $ BobCat 3 weeks, 3 days ago to Philosophy
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Just completed reading "The Fountainhead" for the first time and was intrigued by the following quote which appears atop of page 683 of Signet's Centenial addition ...

"... Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive. ..."

My question to fellow Gulchers is can you name one that didn't have 'altruism' as its basis? I can't, and that is why I am asking ... Its an excellent point to ponder.


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  • Posted by $ Commander 3 weeks, 3 days ago
    I'm not too sure Gengis Kahn was altruistic.
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    • Posted by mccannon01 3 weeks, 3 days ago
      Tough call here, Commander. You could say his goal was to end tribal warfare by forcefully uniting the Mongolian tribes with himself at the head - all for the greater good you see. Then he expanded that goal on the warring kingdoms of China.
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      • Posted by $ Commander 3 weeks, 3 days ago
        Yet, is not Altruism of an informative placative methodology? A means of passive influence? Misdirection?
        Even though, I cannot disagree with you. The "Greater Good" has had quite a broad spectrum of manifestation.
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        • Posted by mccannon01 3 weeks, 3 days ago
          You got me smiling here, Commander, and I agree. However, consider "an informative placative methodology" on the edge of an axe or guillotine. Dead dissenters are pretty passive and are informative to those contemplating dissent.

          I believe it was Kublai Khan that said a virgin princess with a treasure can be placed on an ass and walk unmolested from one end of the empire to the other, because death was the only punishment for such molestation. Internally the empire was supposed to be at peace. Obey the Emperor and live in peace or be at peace in the graveyard. The same rules are still with us from those whose desires are a socialist utopia with themselves at the lead. The 20th century up til today has seen millions placed prematurely at peace. All for the greater good, of course.
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          • Posted by chad 3 weeks, 2 days ago
            Pax Romana. Peace of Rome. Once another culture is conquered and paying tribute (extortion) as long as they behave within the confines of the destructive rules everything is peaceful.
            Same thing with the Mafia. As long as you pay the protection money you will be protected from their behavior, unless it becomes beneficial to destroy you then maybe not!
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    • Posted by $ gharkness 3 weeks, 2 days ago
      Lovin' the talk of Chinggis Khaan (that's the Mongolian spelling) who is greatly revered by his countrymen. I'll have to agree, though: He wasn't big on altruism.

      Do you know that he had 2,000 people murdered and buried AT his funeral so that no one would know where he was buried? Then the army that murdered the 2,000 was killed by his escort, who also killed anyone who they came across on the way back. And then there was even more after that, and as a result no one knows exactly where he is buried.

      Not exactly the kindest guy in the world ......which is WAY different than current Mongols are. I am just starting to delve a bit into their history and current lives, too....which brings me quite a bit off topic, so I'll apologize and back out nicely. I've completely enjoyed the fun diversion, anyway :-) And if you ever are interested in some Mongol culture, check out The HU.
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      • Posted by $ Markus_Katabri 3 weeks, 2 days ago
        To listen to the leftists you’d think ONLY the United States had blood on its hands. ALL nations do. Read about the Feudal history of Japan. If someone painted an artist impression of it, it’d be Mt. Fuji with rivers of blood flowing down.
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    • Posted by bubah1mau 3 weeks, 2 days ago
      AR as I recall allowed for two types of altruism--(1) your self-sacrifice and (2) a reverse altruism, forcing or defrauding others into sacrificing for you (what is commonly thought of as "selfishness"). Either involves giving up a value for a non-value and both are realizations/admissions of selflessness.
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  • Posted by salta 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    Rand was very precise with her words. "In the name of an altruistic motive" refers to the rhetoric used to make the population comply. Every individual has to think they are less important than their society.
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  • Posted by wootendw 3 weeks, 3 days ago
    Most people think altruism means helping others, especially those in need. But, if that were true, the most altruistic people would be the entrepreneurs and business people in a rich, capitalist society such as we had before the first world war and still have elements of, today.

    Altruism, to Rand and Objectivists, requires sacrifice which means going against one's self-interest. That is the essence of both altruism, (putting the good of others against the interests of the self) and collectivist philosophy of utilitarianism, which is putting the 'greater good of all', (however the 'leaders' choose to define it), above the rights of an individual or small number of individuals.

    Wars, including wars of oppression against the citizenry by government, are always justified by altruistic motives.
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    • Posted by chad 3 weeks, 2 days ago
      The "greater good" is always defined to benefit those plundering and enslaving, oppressing and causing poverty for those who supposedly benefit from the collection of the extortion.
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  • Posted by j_IR1776wg 3 weeks, 3 days ago
    No, she was correct. Hitler, in his Mein Kampf thought god was on his side in ridding Europe of Jews. Evil is always done with the best of intentions.
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  • Posted by $ Abaco 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    I think back of the portion in the book "The Stones Cry Out - a Cambodian Childhood" where the children are being starved to death as they work with little pails and shovels to build gravel roads through the swamps (remember the dead body scene in The Killing Fields? Likely those were the remains of the children). The Khmer Rouge supervisors would sit up above the kids and tell the kids that they need to sacrifice for the betterment of their country, their society. Then, as each kid would die on the road they'd just toss their bodies into the swamp like garbage.

    That reminds me. "Take your damn vaccine" as Julie Gerberding famously said...
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  • Posted by $ mshupe 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    "Every major horror was committed" implies human volition, so (obviously) natural disasters are not included. Because the opposite of altruism is rational egoism, and there is nothing rational about committing horrors, that leaves the middle ground of pragmatism. In a culture dominated by the "moderates," self-sacrifice and violence will eventually prevail.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    Reminds me of Eric Hoffer's statement in his book, "The True Believer, a Study of Mass Movements." Hoffer noted that every mass movement (communism, fascism, e.g.) began with the words "hope and change."
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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    There are many horrors that didn't have altruism as their basis, but I can't think of any horrors that didn't have either altruism or self-interest at the expense of others' self-interest. Self-interest is one of the highest values as long as it doesn't infringe on someone else's self-interest.
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    • Posted by $ 3 weeks, 2 days ago
      Self interest at the expense of the self interests of others, isn't that the same as saying I know what is best for you and I am doing this for your own good?
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      • Posted by $ jbrenner 3 weeks, 2 days ago
        No, it's not. Saying "I know what is best for you, and I am doing this for your own good." can be good if done by a parent to a young child.

        If it is done a maternalistic/paternalistic government looter, then self-interest at the expense of others can be done under the premise of "I know what is best for you". Sometimes, however, self-interest at the expense of others self-interest is done without any illusion of good intentions. Do you think that Maduro cares at all for good intentions? Even if his government is officially communist, he and other dictators couldn't care less about altruism, unless it helps them get to a convenient end.
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        • Posted by $ jbrenner 3 weeks, 2 days ago
          Also see MikePusatera's comment. It is a great example of what I meant. Looters only care about altruism if it is in their self-interest (i.e. lining their own pockets).
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  • Posted by $ Stormi 3 weeks, 1 day ago
    Every horrificc deed done to man has been in the name of altruism, Why, because is works, not matter how many times it is used, people want to think the best of leaders, but find out too late, they are all about power and money.. This pLandemic is a perfect example, as our Comrade DeWine still says on TV, we should mask up for safety of other people. Now it is take a vaccine with worse consequences among healthy people than the virus, do it for all thee other people. Let all the immigrants in so they can die under the scam of our medl. "experts", do it to help them. Should the Earth poles continue to switch, the catastrophe in the US will be far worse thand in their original homelands, which will be mostly spared. Always look for the aallacy in logic when they use the old do it altruism. .
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  • Posted by chad 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    It might take some research but I wouldn't be surprised if the hordes under his command were incited by the prospect of saving the world or making it prosper under their command. The leader may have ulterior motives (which they almost always do) but the common individual who makes up the horde is often sold the idea of benefiting their culture by what they pursue. Needs further investigation.
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    Cyrus the Great was some what altruistic. He did let the Hebrews return to Judea after the consolidation of his empire. He centralized his government. The people of the Persian Empire profited from his rule.
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  • Posted by LarryHeart 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    In the Name true but that is not the reason. That is only the propaganda to recruit cannon fodder. The reason is power. Hitler has no altruistic motive only Altruistic propaganda. . Rand is warning the common folk not to be taken in.
    The Politicians in the USA lie about everything and cover their immorality and power grabbing with words of altruism and American Pie.
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  • Posted by Joseph23006 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    It could be proposed that those committing such acts had altruistic motives in their minds reenforced by whatever convoluted or twisted logic they conjured up. We can ask, "What were they thinking?" but we can never be sure except in the case of Hitler who wrote much of it down in 'Mein Kampf'. This plays out in the politics in our country today, each side claiming altruistic motives about immigration, climate change, COVID, the list goes on. A thinking person has to weigh the differences, better yet, follow Descartes and throw out everything you think you know and start afresh with what you can prove yourself.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    I would certainly consider the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Or the gulags in Stalin's Russia. Or the current prisons for the Uighers in Communist China. Or the forced abortion plans in Communist China. I'm struggling to determine what kind of "altruistic" motive there was behind these...
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    • Posted by chad 3 weeks, 2 days ago
      The altruistic motive is what sells the public on the behavior that actually destroys themselves. This will benefit others.
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      • Posted by $ gharkness 3 weeks, 2 days ago
        Yep, this right here. Upthread, we talked about Khan not being altruistic. You know why? Because we are remembering him at a time when he already had amassed or was born with the power to do whatever he wanted to do. He didn't have to convince anyone of anything. However, I am not sure that's always the case. Perhaps when he was a young lad, he had to build his army, like many rulers do, and I bet that activity was rife with altruistic persuasion.

        But with Hitler (just as an example) he had to convince others that tattling on your Jewish neighbors was a GOOD thing to do. THAT is how "altruism" happens. "Everybody - including you - will be better off if you let us know what those lousy Jews are up to."
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      • Posted by $ blarman 3 weeks, 2 days ago
        I don't disagree with the definition, only the application.

        With regard to Hitler, while one can argue that Hitler was "elected" by the German people according to his soaring rhetoric, history actually shows that he gained power because he controlled the ballot boxes - literally. His brown shirts falsified ballots and intimidated voters on a grand scale. (The Dominion voting machines are similar, they just trade intimidation for outright manipulation.)

        Stalin was never elected. He took over when Lenin keeled over dead AFTER the Bolsheviks instituted a coup by taking over key military institutions. Then they started shipping dissenters off to the Gulags. While he made patronizing speeches during WW II, there were no elections from 1918 onward.

        Mao Zedong was on the victorious side of a bloody civil war in post-WW II China. And following the war in which the US failed to support Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nationalists, Mao then instituted a political purge that even conservative estimates place at at least 50 million of his own people. And they had no elective choice either then or now.

        I guess I differentiate because you first have to persuade people to act against their own interest BEFORE you take over the government by force and then use that tyranny. It's always easy to "persuade" others after you already have control.
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  • Posted by MikePusatera 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    I think the TARP Act of 2008 would qualify as a major mistake that was not in the name of altruism. I know that from a trickle down point of view someone could argue it was really for the "people" but who really thought that. TARP was passed to save the Orrin Boyles and Wesley Mouchs of the world.
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  • Posted by 25n56il4 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    I think the reason I so enjoyed Ayn Rand's books was because her hero types were so much like my father. He did it 'his' way. No deviation. Take it or leave it. He loved his family but didn't give a care for anyone else.
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    • Posted by 25n56il4 3 weeks, 2 days ago
      My X2 was very much the same type of man. He loved his family and was helpful to those who asked for his help but it was conditioned on what he felt was right. No deviation. He couldn't be bought.
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