George Orwell may have coined the expression “death-worship.” In any case his use of it in “The Last Man In Europe”–working title for his novel “1984,” was the first I ever set eyes on. But it certainly wasn’t the last.
Ayn Rand–already famous in 1948, and well into her production of Atlas Shrugged–commented, in response to comparisons, that Orwell was a self-described socialist with whom she supposed she had little in common. In Orwell’s phraseology the thing emerged thus:
In Oceania the prevailing philosophy is called Ingsoc, in Eurasia it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-Worship, but perhaps better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. … The new movements which appeared in the middle years of the century, Ingsoc in Oceania, Neo-Bolshevism in Eurasia, Death-Worship, as it is commonly called, in Eastasia, had the conscious aim of perpetuating unfreedom and inequality. … But the purpose of all of them was to arrest progress and freeze history at a chosen moment.
Ayn Rand was Orwell’s junior by two years, and the world they observed was contemporaneous. He went to Spain to do battle with Christian fascism. Ayn’s family struggled against the starvation inevitably resulting from Bolshevik asset-forfeiture expropriation and laws against trade and production in Russia. She escaped to America. Both writers watched and described the exact same altruist dictatorships. Ayn Rand’s description of the Soviet as a continent-sized death camp in “We the Living” meshes perfectly with Markoosha Fisher’s “My Lives in Russia” in everything but spin and slant. Both Russian women agreed on the facts–the nouns–but interpreted their meaning with antithetical adjectives. Fisher produced pro-Soviet propaganda for a U.S. market eager to find some virtue in the International Socialist government with which America was then allied against Germany’s National Socialist Government.
There is no shortage of critics who absolutely despise Ayn Rand–or her ideas. But not a single one of them can answer a simple question about what three normative statements make up the bulk of her teachings; nor do they mention what she considered as the standard of value for differentiating good from evil (which, like Mencken, she identified as right v. wrong).
But Orwell had an explanation for that too…
The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense.
Now you see where this is going. Herbert Hoover’s Moratorium on Brains, the Nuclear Freeze & Surrender and No Nukes movements, The New Left as Anti-Industrial precursors to today’s Econazi Global Warm-mongering movement. All of these manifestations of currish, fawning worship of totalitarian mass-murder régimes are nothing more or less than the worship of death none of Ayn Rand’s critics dare to identify. Yet an understanding of the causal connection with coercive totalitarianism absolutely required for the practice of altruism provides the key to comprehending today’s rioting looters and the popularity of the latest styles in Mohammedan suicide-vests.
Their irrational appeals to settled science, their constant invocation of altruism, their contrivance of imaginary “problems” that admit of no solution other than totalitarian dictatorships–all of these policies can only arise out of blind commitment to the worship of death itself as the be-all and end-all touchstone standard of values in which the freedom to live your life is the evil thing that must be curtailed–as at Auschwitz. Sound farfetched? Here is a graph from a blog put up by another lady who is nobody’s fool. It too shows that the thing climate Cassandras are working toward is the heat death of the civilization that defeated looter kleptocracy in 1945 and 1992.
So there you have it. Intellectuals of the looter persuasion hate the ideas of Ayn Rand yet cannot bring themselves to identify and confront them head on. Instead they zoom in on tangential irrelevancies and organize attacks on her personal self. See examples of this devious cowardice here, here, here and here.
Both Ayn Rand and George Orwell and their readers are keenly interested in how millions could be brainwashed into the literal worship of death as the standard for their code of ethics.** Yet sneering illiterati who claim to disagree, are eager to talk about anything but that! But to strike at the root of her philosophical teachings, they would have to identify their own values. Why not hit her where it hurts? Identify up front the ideas she actually espoused: that man must choose his values and actions by reason; that the individual has a right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing self to others nor others to self; and that no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force, or impose ideas on others by physical force. Those are the three main ideas, yet they might as well be invisible to wanabee non-aggression deniers.
On these three points and these three points alone is there any real controversy about Ayn Rand’s ideas. A competently written rebuttal would at least attempt to show that each of these ideas is wrong, evil, socially dangerous. Anyone sweeping together a dustpan load of irrelevant cheap shots, personal attacks, and shopworn smears–will accomplish nothing in the way of shutting down power plants and setting up that socialist dictatorship. What will their fellow travelers think of such lack of zeal?
** Ethics is a code of values to guide our choices and actions. It relies on a fundamental standard, a compass that points toward eudaimonia, the good, and away from suffering and death, or evil.
Should you ever need an interpreter able to see through the cant well enough to make out the underlying meaning, look me up.