Thank you for a very civil response.  I must add that I have gotten
several of the other kind from some Objectivists and others.  Although
we may not agree, I don't believe there is ever any justification for
people being insulting to one another.  In fact, I have found it so
unproductive, I have decided on a zero tolerance for personal insults.

At 12:25 AM 7/21/98 -0700, you wrote:
>I must suggest you re-read the Objectivist Ethics chapter
>of Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness.
>Your essay seemed to completely miss the entire premise of
>Rand's philosophy.

I would be glad to discuss any specific points with you, but I cannot find
the motivation to pursue an unspecific search or a general reference.

>Further, I do believe she states in her introduction that the
>word 'selfishness' was not the perfect word.  However, according
>to her definition it works fine.  This is not propoganda.  Another
>example of a similar situation is Milton Friedman's use of the word
>'liberal' in his writings.  His definition is quite different than the one
>normally associated with the word.

Miss Rand begins her book with a definition of selfishness which is a
distortion.  Shall we be frank?  It is an outright lie.  She says selfishness
is defined in the dictionary in a certain way, and it simply and definitely
is NOT.  She then continues the discussion based on that assumption.  I
am sorry, but when someone starts off a discussion of a subject with an
absolute lie, and then constructs an argument and a system based on
that lie, I cannot go along with them.  My mind rebels.

I find that typical of all her writings, however.  She sneaks in these
distortions, and then builds a highly complex, intellectual system based
on those distorted premises.  This kind of thing offends me highly, and I
find myself screaming, "I don't care how brilliant your arguments and
your conclusions!  You are a liar from the beginning, and I will NEVER
accept it."

Moreover, this kind of proceeding is INDEED propaganda.  This is the
way all propagandists, all cult leaders, all religionists, set out, whether it
is Heaven's Gate, Jonestown, Scientology, Nazism, or hundreds more.
Once you accept their distorted premises, you're hooked, because
everything else follows in perfect logical and sensible order; and none
so logical as Objectivism.  The higher reaches of that kind of stuff is
always intelligent and undeniable, but it is the foundations that are
rotten.  It is the very kind of intellectual deceit about which Jefferson
declared: "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against
every form of tyranny over the mind of man," and I agree 100% with his
strong stand against those intellectual systems that would capture the
minds of people with various forms of subtle trickery.

>Selfishness does not always mean living simply for the short-term.
>It is in fact quite selfish to give of yourself if you can rationally expect
>it to have future benefits.  Donating to a charity for medical research
>for example.. seems altruistic, yet you may rationally expect it to
>be to your benefit because it may improve your own life or someone
>you care about.

Self-interest is normal and natural.  It is the beginning of rational
existence.  But the mature and developed human being enlarges his
self-interest to include that of others, ultimately of ALL others.  All that
stuff about sacrificing yourself for the interests of others, is all a bunch of
baloney.  That is just a distortion to support Rand's pernicious
arguments.  It is a way of thinking that reinforces the worst aspects of
human nature, that fosters alienation from other humans, and that
undermines national unity, generosity, kindness, and every human
virtue.  But these become the things that Rand declares as a fool's
morality, because her morality does not focus on the other; it focuses on

Rand herself was a vile and vicious individual.  This is excused by her
followers as the impatient expression of her genius.  I think they foolishly
deceive themselves.  She is the epitome of the "Me Generation," and I
think that is the basis of her appeal.  I have had discussions with several
of her followers.  There have been one or two exceptions, but most have
been closed-minded, deceitful people who would stoop to any trick to
win an argument.  I have seen nothing enobling about Objectivism,
based on most of her followers.  Of course, I don't mean this as a
judgment on you personally.  I would hope that you are one of the
exceptions, as was one other well-known author I could name that I
corresponded with for a while.  But he was not an "orthodox" Objectivist.
In fact, he thought Rand was outright wrong about several things.

>I highly suggest the recent movie "As good as it gets"
>Jack Nickolson's character is an excellent example of Egoism
>Everything he does, he rationally expects it to benefit himself.
>The results however do not outwardly appear to be selfish.

I believe that movies and novels can teach valuable moral lessons if
they do indeed serve as vehicles to uncover the consequences of
human action.  But I also believe that fiction can be manipulated to
convey a moral message that is contrary to human nature.  When it does
that, it becomes false and misleading propaganda.

>"What a free society offers to the individual is much more
>than what he would be able to do if only he were free."
>      - Friedrich Hayek

YES!!!  This is the whole point of being a part of a human association
that extends beyond the isolated individual self.  Man in society is able
to achieve his potential to an extent that he could never do alone.  This
is the foundation of popular sovereignty, of a whole people's self-
government.  This is why our Constitution begins with "We, the
People..."  This is why the word "individual" is not mentioned once in the
Declaration of Independence: because a free people COLLECTIVELY
establish a government that secures for each member their natural
rights.  Alienated individualism ultimately makes no sense.

Best wishes,

Eyler Coates