Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unschooling, bombs, and taking charge of women

Uhuh, that subject line hooked ya, didn't it? ;)

I've been an Objectivist now for 18 years and have had thousands of conversations with other Objectivists, from your average Joes to the very top guys and gals. They are the easiest people to talk with because we share a common philosophy, and we agree on the applications of Ayn Rand's seminal philosophy on most every point. (It goes without saying that we all agree fully on the philosophy itself -- and, yeah, I just said it anyway, right?)

But there are three points in which there is wide disagreement: If children must be schooled, whether we should bomb the hell out of all rogue countries right now, and whether men should largely take charge of the sexual experience in the bedroom with women.

The disagreement on these three issues re-emphasizes how difficult it can be to maintain objectivity always and to not bring undigested presumptions into arguments -- presumptions that are themselves complex and often almost invisibly lurking in one's subconscious. Those who are in the wrong on the above subjects often have a more fundamental problem, which precipitates the blindness to false presumptions.

The problem is that some people have not fully digested Objectivism and integrated it fully into their lives, thereby not creating full self-esteem, full cognitive visibility of thoughts, full connection to emotions, and a complete integration of virtue and values.

Here's how I think it plays out in life for those who haven't fully integrated. I'll start with my own error in the 1990s concerning men, women and the bedroom.

I had very long, and sometimes vociferous, conversations with several longtime Objectivists. They said that men naturally "dominate" women in the bedroom, and that was how it should be; men are dominate physically and more naturally aggressive, so that when it came time to get down to it, the man naturally took over, with the woman, of course, letting the man know what she wants and the man occasionally letting the woman do as she pleases with him. But the man rough-houses on occasion, as he is want to do -- and must do. He handles the woman.

These longtime Objectivists explained man's nature, but I looked at myself and didn't see that nature. I had not fully integrated Objectivism yet and was still soft -- ahem. I argued for the intellectual equality of men and women, and I supposed that that must translate to the bedroom. I discounted the physical. I heard other men talk of dominating women in the bedroom, but I was generally disgusted by this and held contempt for both parties who engaged in this rough-housing. At the time, I took some control, admittedly, but I felt guilty for doing so afterward. My psychology wasn't clean or right.

It wasn't until I got my own intellectual house in order that I -- for lack of a better way of putting it -- became a man. A full man. Filled with self-esteem. Comfortable with my more aggressive nature. Comfortable with handling a woman and enjoying watching her enjoy being handled. When I had integrated my virtues and values, pursued the right career, cleaned up my subconscious, and re-formed myself, the handling of women in the bedroom became natural. I couldn't imagine it any other way. I later told the longtime Objectivists that they were right.

The same unclean psychology comes into play with other issues, such as the schooling of children and the bombing of other countries.

With the schooling, many Objectivists (especially longtime ones, ironically) place a very high value on knowledge (as we all do) without considering it in the context of values -- in this case, the values of children. Many Objectivists think that children absolutely must obtain four things from adults early in life: 1) motivation 2) how to think 3) rigid structure 4) particular information.

They are wrong on all counts. Children free of coercion are self-motivated and huge value-pursuers. They are rational beings whose brains automatically put two and two together. They construct their own structures according to their value pursuits. And they decided what particular information they need relating to their value pursuits.

As with my errors in the sex issue, the facts in this issue are there, so why don't many Objectivists I respect see them? I can't accurately psychologize on it, but I can extrapolate that they have issues themselves that make them contemptuous of children's hegemony over their lives. Their self-esteem is somehow getting in the way. Perhaps they wish to have trophy children for display, which would indicate a second-handedness, which would indicate some lack of integrity. Perhaps it's a need to lord over a nearly helpless kid. Who knows? All we can say is that if the facts are out there for one to see, and one has looked long at the issue and still is committing severe errors, then some philosophical and psychological problems still lie unexamined.

As far as bombing outlaw countries (such as Iran, Russia, China, Syria, North Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, etc.), many Objectivists have shown a tendency to pull back from the brink, stating that America "can't just go around bombing the hell out of other countries."

Why not? These countries are openly terroristic, export their terrorism, put Americans in danger by their very existence. Even some top Objectivists don't think we should just go around "blasting people to hell."

I think this shows a lack of justice, which should be a hallmark of the full Objectivist mind. Harsh justice for the bad. Effusive complimentary justice for the good. The mind that shies away from full justice is the mind that won't do justice to itself, won't search itself fully, won't completely fix itself and blinks when it knows something is wrong.

And lack of justice on any part indicates a lack of self-esteem.

So, if all us Objectivists were perfectly integrated (completely virtuous and in full pursuit of values), would we disagree properly? Yes. Sometimes the facts of a situation are momentarily too complex (What is the proper marketing strategy in a different culture?) or determining something is a bit intangible (How many years do you put a rapist in prison for?). These conclusions are based on highly complex formulas and information. We can agree to disagree or to keep our minds open for more facts.

But in some cases, we just got to get our minds right -- as the prison warden says in "Cool Hand Luke."

No comments: