Rand and Lenin

Posted by j_IR1776wg 2 months, 1 week ago to Ask the Gulch
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In view of this Vladimir Lenin quote,

'...All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person, and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero, and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality. This is not good at all. I am just like everybody else...'

http://thepeoplescube.com/lenin/lenin...

Do you think Ayn Rand's glorification of the hero in Man was purely a protest against Lenin?

Or was his quote the trigger that forced her into philosophy to prove and demonstrate that his views were incompatible with Man's proper existence on earth?


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  • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
    Lenin had nothing to do with Ayn Rand's philosophy and sense of life. Lenin and the rest of communism were a total negative, not a motive for anything positive. From a very early age she wanted to be a fiction writer depicting the heroic. She developed her philosophy to explain and validate her sense of life, not as a protest against or triggered by anything. She left the Soviet Union to live what she wanted, not in "protest". She already knew that communism was incompatible with and a threat to her life.
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  • Posted by giallopudding 2 months, 1 week ago
    We will always need our heroes, whether they be mythological, political, religious, scientific, literary, artistic, comic, sports, or other. Humans are hardwired to follow leaders, for the most part, in our never ending quest to make ourselves socially acceptable and attain the highest hierarchical status possible. Our survival depends upon it. The small minority of us that resists becoming sheeple, who are the forager bees of our species, are destined for a life of discontentment and war against the collective. But even the most individualistic among us must still admit to having figures in our lives worth emulating and admiring, aka: heroes.
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    • Posted by chad 2 months, 1 week ago
      I don't think hero's and leader's need be the same thing, in fact when you aspire to be or follow a leader you immediately lose yourself and the identity of an individual. A hero is someone to admire for their courage in not giving up, for working and aspiring and not looting another for their wants or needs. This inspiration can inspire you to be heroic in how you live. Whether you are the owner of the mill producing a new steel or the sweeper who aspires to do the very best he can do to complete his task.
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      • Posted by giallopudding 2 months, 1 week ago
        Good point. We tend to make leaders out of people we admire, and I used the word "heroes" loosely. People can view leaders as heroes, and wish heroes to be leaders, but neither condition holds true in all cases.
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      • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
        Ayn Rand explained her concept of hero in her book The Romantic Manifesto. As a concept of morality and art, not politics, it is an inspiration, not following anyone.
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    • Posted by 2 months, 1 week ago
      " Humans are hardwired to follow leaders..." I wonder if you would care to expand on this? When I think of hardwired, I'm thinking of our five senses which arrive operable at birth. That is, we do not have to think about them before we use them. Is this the sense in which you use "hardwired"?
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      • Posted by giallopudding 2 months, 1 week ago
        I am referring to our social brain, sometimes called "mammalian" brain, which gives us the mechanism by which we socialize, and seek status elevation within our given hierarchies. I heartily recommend reading Howard Bloom's The Genius of the Beast or Global Brain for some great insight into crowd psychology and the biological tendencies of the majority of our species to be worker bees rather than forager bees, ie: to follow rather than to lead or go it alone. Fascinating topic!
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        • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
          A characteristic "crowd psychology" to follow a leader -- in the religious version, clinging to a Master -- is a neurosis, not something "hard wired". People choose, or accept by default, their own values.
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          • Posted by rhfinle 2 months ago
            I'll have to agree. Although they are initially dependent on their parents, (and eventually get over that), children tend to do what they want to, until they are forced to conform, obey, wait their turn, get in line and follow the leader.
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      • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
        No one is "hardwired" to believe anything. There are no innate ideas. Human beings are individuals who must use their conceptual faculty to discover how to act. Primitives submerse themselves in tribalism because they never learned any better and grasped at whatever they thought would help them, with no conceptual understanding of ethics and social philosophy. Civilization is freeing man from the tribe.
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    • Posted by  $  edweaver 2 months, 1 week ago
      I have confidence in my own abilities and therefore have no use for heroes so I consider your statement to be false. And I do not follow anyone nor do I lead people. I only lead myself.
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      • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
        Having heroes as inspiration does not mean following others, let alone be deterministically "hard wired to follow others". An independent mind is required to fully understand and appreciate a proper hero..
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        • Posted by  $  edweaver 2 months ago
          For me, the word heroes is overused. Everyone is a hero today. Having people that I admire and respect is important. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding the definition of hero in this subject.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
            The question was about Ayn Rand's idea of heroism, not about other over-uses, or about admiration and respect, which are much broader. The confusion in the original question was assuming that Ayn Rand's views could be based on a negative, i.e., reaction to a negative. (The assumptions in later posts with the deterministic "hardwired" for the majority masses are worse.)
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  • Posted by Lucky 2 months, 1 week ago
    Your question is too hard for me at this time of night but thanks for the Lenin quotes.

    'Destroy the family, you destroy the country. '
    I think this is meant as instruction not as criticism, no surprise it is exactly what the green/left are doing!

    "While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State."
    Lenin, supporter of libertarianism?
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    • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
      Lenin was a complete totalitarian collectivist, not any kind of individualist at all. His notion of "freedom" was submersed in the collective taking care of your needs. Marxism had to vaguely promise the state would "wither away" because Marx and his followers needed it to seize control and had no explanation for how capitalism would or could "evolve" to communism without it in his theory.
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 2 months, 1 week ago
      Lenin was far from a supporter of libertarianism. He was an autocrat. He valued the control of the State over personal liberty in all cases. He was very much an elitist who wanted to rule others. Lenin's first quote about destroying the family is in harmony with this, as family is the first source of government in a person's life and to free societies is still a higher government than the State.
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      • Posted by Lucky 2 months ago
        "While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State." Lenin

        Yes, to blarman and ewv.
        From what is known about Lenin, he was no libertarian, nor was he an anarchist.
        So what does that statement mean?

        Suggestion 1: Lenin gives no value to freedom so a State giving no individual freedom is quite ok with him.

        Suggestion 2: The statement has value only for its poetry, it sounds deep when in a speech,
        the masses then can scream approval. It is ramblings just like those from the modern soft left
        - progressives, liberals (to Americans), democratic socialists, etc. - rhetoric devoid of sense.

        The primacy of the individual for Rand, as well as the importance given to clarity and thought over
        emotion make instructive contrasts between Lenin and Rand.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 2 months, 1 week ago
    Anyone who is familiar with Rand should know that the first question doesn't apply. It may not have been question 2 either. It may just have grown from her observation of the human condition.
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    • Posted by 2 months, 1 week ago
      Wouldn't her "observation of the human condition" have included studying the writings of Marx and Lenin?
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      • Posted by Herb7734 2 months, 1 week ago
        I don't recall any mention of study of Marx & Lenin in that context. I do know that she must have read them because of her ability to point out their shortcomings. By human condition, I meant her observation of the interactions between peoples, supplemented by her own dealings with humanity, from the grocer to the banker. Her replication of certain types which are familiar to most of us, could only come from a very observant writer.
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  • Posted by  $  FredTheViking 2 months, 1 week ago
    Well, we do know that the experience she had in Russia greatly impacted her thinking. Her whole approach to philosophy was driven by a strong desire to avoid the whole communist Russian experience. She realize part of the horrors she suffer was the assault on the individual that came from communists first on a spiritual level and then on a physical level. For example, the 30 million Russians who were under Stalins "Let's make Russia Great, again!" Programs or rather his 5 year plans. Again, he demonstrates Lenin's creed in practice. Since the individual is so unimportant, we need not be bothered by the death of 30 million of them. Ayn Rand figured perhaps the best to promote Human life is to celebrate the individual. The hero is the story of the individual.

    To answer the question, Ayn Rand thinking driven by her experience with communism which she able to juxtapose with her American experience. She loved American and had a unique insight into what actually made American great and values are needed to achieve that greatness in the future.
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    • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
      "Her whole approach to philosophy was driven by a strong desire to avoid the whole communist Russian experience."

      Her escape from and avoidance of the whole communist experience was driven by her own sense of life and philosophy, not the other way around. The evil of Russia was a negative, not a force for anything.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 months, 1 week ago
    My impression is what Lenin was saying as not new. In a hunter-gatherer existence, it was hard to create new value. You had to share what the tribe had to subsist on so that the tribe could survive. We developed religions around notions of self-sacrifice from this. We don't naturally distinguish between doing an honest trade because it's in our self-interest and defrauding someone. The fraudster we may first think, "He's bad for putting his own interest above the person he's dealing with." This is completely wrong in the industrial and post-industrial world.

    I see Lenin as just carrying on the put-the-tribe first mentality in a world that was industrializing, with disastrous results.

    Rand is not objecting just to Lenin but rather the whole system of putting the tribe's interest first that human kind grew from.

    BTW, I have not studied Rand's motivations at all. My response is more about what her books mean to me, about humankind rising above an undesirable default state, than her actual motivations.
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    • Posted by Argo 2 months, 1 week ago
      Would it not be likely there were some better at hunting, some better at gathering that would create new value, tools, and techniques?
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      • Posted by 2 months, 1 week ago
        Agriculture began in Europe roughly 10,000 years ago. It is very likely that it took thousands of years to become dominant over hunting, fishing, and gathering. Indeed these forms of food consumption still persist today albeit in a decreasing manner.
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        • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 2 months, 1 week ago
          Division of labor, specializations, maximum beneficial use of talents and skills made modern societies possible, including trade and the idea of individual rights versus forced servitude. There is no room in that philosophy for the cult of personality not based on merit. The old memes of alpha male, tribal chiefdom and charismatic leader are hard to eradicate. They must have been survival tools in the long dark night of cognitive evolution. Nature is impartial about selection, whether by force, fraud, or rational valuation. The notion of having to choose between individualism and collectivism is a false dichotomy.
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          • Posted by freedomforall 2 months, 1 week ago
            Since 1900 only 3 candidates for president were less than average height (and they lost.)
            All the rest towered over the average voter, and likely their erroneous feelings of superiority started when they beat up the smallest kids on the playground. Fortunately, the rest of us learn to be adults.
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            • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 2 months, 1 week ago
              :) Now if only the voters were not so impressed by towering honchos as to become willingly subservient. We still don't have enough adults (i.e., rational thinkers) to persuade the rest to debug their animal-based programs without bloodshed.
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              • Posted by freedomforall 2 months, 1 week ago
                Yes, I think unearned respect for people having greater mass is a learned reaction from experience and it requires significant effort to overrule that fear with rational thinking.
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          • Posted by 2 months, 1 week ago
            So why have the overwhelming number of Mankind's governments been collectivist?
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            • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 2 months ago
              "So why have the overwhelming number of Mankind's governments been collectivist?"

              Because it is the natural state of most lifeforms--beehives, wolf packs, herds and flocks, prides of lions and slime mold cultures, spores and forests, multicellular organisms, tribes and families, language structure--because there is strength and security in numbers and systems. Because organic things (life) grow from a singularity to a complex assemblage, like a fractal or moiré pattern, replicating a template to a larger and larger grouping, each of which becomes the entry to the next level.

              The isolated singleton is an anomaly, not the norm. To survive, most lifeforms need at least two members to reproduce. Without reproduction, extinction follows. Likewise, thoughts and belief systems are aggregates of bits of software that function by a process of integration. A rational mind is one that integrates according to an accurately identified reality. That is unique to each mind and sets the individual apart, even when in a cooperative assemblage. The individual is a value onto himself.

              That idea is seldom acknowledged. Collective groupings treat each member as a disposable element, unless it's the queen bee genetically selected as an egg factory or the alpha male who earned that position through brute force. Losers are excommunicated to find another group or perish. Oh, there are species where an individual lives alone unless seeking out a mate, or where mates stay together for life but apart from their fellows. It’s rare, because there is safety in numbers.

              Cell structures cooperate to keep the larger entity growing and healthy—unless they turn cancerous and eventually kill the host. That works with political ideas as well. They can turn cancerous and thereby destroy entire civilizations. It happens over and over. Not learning from the lessons of history, or from visionary philosophers, keeps repeating the old patterns. That's why. How would you persuade the present decision-makers to avert the coming doom?
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              • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
                Collectivism is not a "natural state". There is no such thing. We are not cells. Each human being must use his rational faculty to learn to make choices, including choices of relations with others.

                At a primitive level it makes sense to stay together for mutual defense and to exchange the product of effort. That doesn't imply collectivism. The proper form of relationships requires abstract thought. Moral concepts and principles are an advanced achievement, in contrast to emotional outbursts and force. They are an achievement. "Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 months, 1 week ago
        Yes, and it would be in their interest to make selfish trades. My impression is they didn't usually act rationally. I don't know much about it, though, and would be interested to learn if my image is wrong.
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    • Posted by 2 months, 1 week ago
      The hunter-gatherers were long gone when Lenin wrote this
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 months, 1 week ago
        Long gone. They moved to agriculture, where collectivism made less sense. Then they developed industry, and it made even less sense. But the religions and old values still promoted it. Lenin promoted it.

        For me Ayn Rand is standing up to all of it and showing how bad it is.
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        • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
          Before Ayn Rand left Russia, people she knew there begged her to in America report what had happened to them and what they were going through. Once she had gained sufficient command of the English language she wrote We the Living to do it, and punctuated it much later with "The 'Inexplicable Personal Allchemy'".

          She continued to stand up to it throughout her life, but was not motivated by a crusade against Lenin or the communists in particular. Shortly after arriving in America she was frightened to see the same mentality spreading here and knew what the result would be if it were not challenged. All her life she applied her principles to fighting against what she later learned were the philosophical roots of it, exposing the result in reality of irrationalism, mysticism, altruism and collectivism as it evolved.

          But it wasn't all about fighting the irrational. She explained and fought for what she was for: reality, reason, science, individualism, freedom and capitalism, and romantic art. Her early fiction and major novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, put her own sense of life into fiction. The Fountainhead was a psychological novel portraying the independence of the first hand mind. Atlas Shrugged portrayed her vision of what she called the "ideal man", which she had planned to do since a child. This was all intended as positive value, but the shear motivating contrast with the cesspool of the collectivists decimates them.

          But she could not leave the philosophy to fiction, even with its philosophical speeches. It has to be systematically explained for the principles to be conceptualized and organized. She wrote important non-fiction breaking new ground, including "Philosophy Who Needs It", For the New Intellectual (including the semi-nonfiction Galt's speech and other such philosophical passages from her fiction) , Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, "The Objectivist Ethics", "The Metaphysical versus the Man Made", "Causality Versus Duty", "Apollo 11" and "Apollo and Dionysus", "Man's Rights and "The Nature of Government", "What is Capitalism", "The Property Status of Air Waves" and 'Patents and Copyrights", The Romantic Manifesto, and "Don't Let it Go". All of her social and cultural critiques included the basic principles of what is right to explain and illustrate the proper standard. And she sponsored and made possible entire lecture series on her philosophy, notably those by Leonard Peikoff.
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 months ago
            "She explained and fought for what she was for: reality, reason, science, individualism, freedom and capitalism, and romantic art. "
            Yes!!! Most of human history those didn't hold sway. The parts of the books that stood out to me were about celebrating those things rather than lamenting when they don't prevail.
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            • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
              When I first read Atlas Shrugged in college I saw it in terms of the personal sense of life, not as a political novel. I still thought of politics as irrelevant, something that could be ignored as a way of life that someone had to do in the lower rungs of human behavior but which could be safely ignored. (It soon became apparent that it was a dire threat that could not be ignored and that that couldn't be right, which motivated me to go back and look again at the novel and at Ayn Rand's philosophical justification for individualism.)

              Ayn Rand's motivation for writing the novel was to portray in fiction her vision of the ideal man. She wrote in the introduction to Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, "The political aspects of Atlas Shrugged are not its theme. Its theme is primarily ethical-epistemological: the role of the mind in man's existence—and politics, necessarily, is one of the themes consequences." [emphasis added] The plot was designed to show the role of the mind by showing what happens when it is withdrawn from society.

              She said that while writing Atlas Shrugged she kept telling herself that she was trying to prevent the plot from coming true in reality, not to predict it. She recognized that 'men of ability' reacted to controls by avoiding them, not by working harder to satisfy them -- as in her later "Is Atlas Shrugging?" -- and ultimately refusing to cooperate more when it gets worse (as in the Soviet Union), but I don't think she would have liked the widespread characterizing of her ideal hero as a hippie-of-the right drop-out motivated by the worst and expecting utopia if only everything collapsed, 'somehow' creating a miracle by no means and with no understanding of the theme of her novel. 'Going' Galt, to her, meant something much more positive: the ideal man.
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