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“If only the looms could operate themselves, and if only the lutes could pluck themselves, we wouldn't have to force the slaves to make our clothing and our music, and everyone could be free.” -Aristotle

I loved The Fountainhead but my one criticism of Objectivism is: how do we actually do this?

We're not supposed to compromise. We're supposed to take a job that we love. We're supposed to be a value to the world and that is determined by the value the world is to us. If education was awesome and everyone learned how to do something they really love that produced a needed value in the world than who's going to be left to do the crap jobs? Who's going to ring up my merchandise at the grocery store? There would be one perky old lady and nine self-check-out machines.

Objectivism is important. I understand the value of self-reliance. Its great for things that you can do on your own (improving one's skill with a recreational hobby, improving one's fitness, etc.). But when you need to eat and you need a place to live and we're not hunter/gatherers, we thrive on making deals with each other, how can you really avoid compromise? Someone is going to end up with a crap job. A lot of people are.

There seems to be a theme in the reality fractal: in evolution automation relieves consciousness from having to perform necessary tasks so that consciousness can direct its attention to what it values most.

Moreover, if you think there's a subject you'd like to pursue, the class you take is going to teach you to hate it because the teacher/course is so boring. You get turned off. I'm supposed to be a value to the world, but where are all the values? Show me. And we're not supposed to lie to ourselves either - you shouldn't be making yourself do something you know you don't like. It just seems like everything has to happen at once: education system needs a serious overhaul and we need robots to take over all the crap jobs. Now we can finally be objectivist.

asked May 21 '12 at 11:14

Marce11o's gravatar image


edited Feb 19 '15 at 19:28

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

As far as I can tell, that is not an accurate quote of Aristotle. It seems to be a paraphrase from Aristotle's Politics, but I can't find the original in context.

(May 22 '12 at 11:28) anthony anthony's gravatar image

People have to start somewhere; look at all of Ayn Rand's heros in her novels. They didn't start out as CEOs, or vice-presidents, or unrivaled architects, or revolutionary inventors. For many people, service-type jobs are stepping stones toward better jobs. If you attend a university to get a stellar job, that has to be paid for somehow; maybe by working at a less than stellar job. Other people may not have the ability or desire to do another type of work. Also, Objectivism says, "don't compromise on your principles." It doesn't say, "don't compromise, ever, on anything."

(May 23 '12 at 04:50) Semiopathy Semiopathy's gravatar image

Yeah, I think if "everyone adhered to objectivism" the makeup of "the service industry" would look much like it does today. Maybe a little bit more highly skewed toward teenagers, but it's already fairly heavily skewed that way.

In the longer term, if "everyone adhered to objectivism" we'd progress as a society more quickly towards automating these jobs (as we wouldn't have to waste our time on things like building jails), but that'd probably be a pretty long-term effect.

As for "crap jobs", there are really two types: skilled and unskilled. The skilled ones would, and do, pay well.

(May 28 '12 at 11:50) anthony anthony's gravatar image

That's the other part of the equation I believe Marcello is missing. If the demand for a certain type of work goes up, but the supply of people willing to do that type of work goes down, then wages are going to go up.

I don't think if "everyone adhered to objectivism" that this would significantly alter the supply/demand for, say, grocery store cashiers (*). But if it did, that just means wages would have to be adjusted.

(*) Although I suppose if "everyone adhered to objectivism" there would be no theft, and thus one role of cashiers, that of reducing theft, would be eliminated.

(May 28 '12 at 12:02) anthony anthony's gravatar image
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The issue that most stands out in my mind in this rambling question is the concept of the "pyramid of ability." Refer to that topic in The Ayn Rand Lexicon for an illuminating introduction to this topic. And do not confuse "being an Objectivist" with being a great, high-achieving producer. Objectivism is a philosophy, a guide to ethics and politics, founded in metaphysics and epistemology and concretized by means of Objectivism's esthetic principles. Anyone can live by such principles, to the best of his own ability to understand them. Anyone can respect individual rights, refrain from initiating physical force against others, work for a living, trade with others if it's in his own interest and theirs, and so on. If a "service industry" job is all that a person can qualify for and perform competently, there is nothing contrary to Objectivism in accepting such a job. Objectivism does not demand nor expect nor promise that everyone will be a top producer like Howard Roark and the heroes of Atlas Shrugged (AS). Most won't be, yet they can still be thoroughly decent and respectable Objectivists (like Eddie Willers in AS) if they so choose.

The quote by Aristotle may or may not be accurate, as Anthony has noted in the comments, but even if it is accurate, Objectivism doesn't agree with it in any case. There is no need to force anyone into slavery. "Service industry" workers get paid for what they do, sometimes even more than college professors if their trades are sufficiently specialized and their own skill at it commensurate. For the occasional top-rank high-achieving entrepreneur, "the sky is the limit" -- and capitalism leaves everyone free to rise as far as his own ability and initiative can take him, benefitting everyone else in the process, even if he is a college dropout.

answered May 23 '12 at 01:01

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

I'm embarrassed by this question. I wish I could delete it. I wouldn't ask this question today.

(Feb 19 '15 at 16:31) Marce11o Marce11o's gravatar image

Hi, Marce11o: If there are updates you think would be helpful in either focusing what you wrote or explaining some aspect of what you were thinking, you should feel free to edit your question. And if you really can't bear it continuing to exist, it can be deleted (but keeping it in some form is strongly encouraged, especially given that Ideas for Life already invested effort in answering it).

(Feb 19 '15 at 19:27) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

I know of a real-world example to answer this question: A guy in the town I grew up in became rich by collecting garbage. Everyone made fun of him when he was young, because it was what he wanted to do for a living as a kid. He believed there was money to be made, and he was right. Once he reached six figures a year, they stopped mocking him. The town more or less unanimously agrees that for the money he makes, they'd collect garbage too! (To be fair, he worked his way up from collector to CEO, so he doesn't often get dirty these days.)

(Feb 24 '15 at 13:02) James James's gravatar image
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Asked: May 21 '12 at 11:14

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Last updated: Feb 24 '15 at 13:02