Pursuit of Happiness and the Virtue of Selfishness, Or Politics of Pull and the Vices of Selflessness
Chapter eight of Ayn Rand’s novel We the Living, Part II ends with Gen Z Irina’s dreams crushed in a Siberian gulag, and Chapter nine begins with her millennial brother Victor’s Communist Party promotion. The two are related, he engineered his sister’s devastation despite insisting “I want you to realize that my party membership is a sacred trust not to be utilized for purposes of personal advantage.”
On her way to prison for the crime of being good, Irina asks Kira a question she might have asked her pragmatic brother, “There’s something that should be understood by all of us. Only what is it, Kira? What?” In our We the Living online forum, Clementine contributes part of a conversation with her teenage daughters,
My younger daughter was analyzing the question of what is happiness, and realizing the contradictions in altruism. What’s the point of living? Why are we alive? Who do we live for?
Victor’s reward is little different than Joe Biden being awarded the Democratic presidential nomination for ravaging the reputations of Judge Robert Bork in 1987 and Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991. After all, as Victor tells his new bride Marisha, “My dear, we must never forget, our social duties come first, above all personal considerations.” For contrast, later in chapter nine, Kira tells her boyfriend, “Leo, I can’t reproach you. I can’t blame you. I know what you’re doing. I know why you’re doing it. But listen: its not too late.”
Leo had given up on his future; living for the present was his only option. Refusing to submit, Kira can’t reproach him because of Andrei, to whom she says, “You were the best your Party had to offer the world.” Andrei replied, “Say I’m a traitor. Maybe I am. And maybe I’ve just stopped being one. You see, I feel certain of nothing in that involved mess they call existence, of nothing but you.” He was going in the opposite direction of Leo, but for similar reasons.
Leo gave in to the mystics of muscle whose duty is to Society; Andrei to the mystics of the mind whose duty is to God. To them, existence was no longer real, they had become selfless. To Kira, existence was primary and human ideals follow. Her virtue was selfishness, Leo was the higher value, and her life and happiness an end in itself. Conversely, 2020 America’s Democratic party is dominated by the Bernie Sanders & Sandy Cortez coalition of baby boomers and millennials (Motto: Go Pound Sand!) who share a perverted sense of romance about the Soviet ideal of self-sacrifice.
In Chapter 10 of this 1936 novel, former Soviet naval officer Stepan Timoshenko prophesizes them by telling us how this works, “You know more about it than I do, more than millions of young fools do, that watch us from all over the world with worshiping eyes. We had fools who thought in their doomed hearts that we made it for all those downtrodden ones who suffer on this earth. But you and me, Comrade Morozov, we have a secret.” In this wonderfully crafted scene by Ayn Rand, Timoshenko brings the reader in on their two big secrets,
With a smile that frightened Morozov more than the laughter: Don’t look so scared, you don’t have to be afraid of me. I’m nothing but a wretch, beaten by you, Comrade Morozov.
The terror Morozov felt is the same terror Kira had felt in the Petrograd train station when she witnessed Morozov condemning a desperate old woman to Soviet police. Except there’s one big difference: Kira was selfish — she wanted to live as people were meant to live. Instead of pounding sand in a society of zeroes, Kira wanted to turn it into cement and glass, or maybe silicon wafers some day. Morozov’s looting evades reality because it produces nothing. No self-esteem is selflessness.
Evading reality was his death sentence in the court of moral justice, and Timoshenko was the officer of the court delivering the verdict. Last week, officers of the court Joe Biden and Kamala Harris gave clear indications of their intention to pervert America’s justice system — pack the US Supreme Court into a super-legislative political instrument for Soviet-style class warfare. A “bonehead idea” according to Biden in 1983, and that’s saying something.
In Chapter 11, Andrei tells Kira about his plan to report Syerov’s black market operations with Leo and Morozov to his chief, “I’m expecting the highest integrity from the men I am going to face. Don’t make me face them with less than that on my part.” Andrei didn’t want to know what Kira might have known about Leo’s business, and Chapter 12 reveals the integrity charade. While begin arrested by Andrei and his goons, Leo questions their pretense, “I realize that one should know how to respect the grandeur of authority under all circumstance. No matter how trying to the self-respect of those in power.” Leo and Andrei both understood the scam rooted in fear.
Equally absurd, last week, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an inane 25th Amendment commission for removing President Trump. As only he can, Trump exposes this, “Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing! She’s gone crazy, she’s a nutjob. I think they put it in so they can put Kamala in, replacing Biden.” In a similar vein, Andrei’s plan was to get the Soviets to expose their own looting, and him regain his self-respect. He explained to his chief, “It will also be important to explain how a penniless aristocrat laid his hands on the very heart of our economic life.”
The economic life of 2020 Democrats is their Green New Deal — a cabal of crony corporatists, environmental lobbies, socialist foundations, progressive think tanks, and government agencies looting human productivity under the guise of saving the planet. Biden, Sanders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton come to mind as famous examples among many thousands of politicians who became wealthy from “public service” careers that produced nothing. Because of this, the productive virtues of the individual mind are the greatest threat to Party ideology, except the selfless kind.
Accordingly, President Trump is reviled by political elites and their loyal voters whose minds were stunted by The Comprachicos of progressive government education. Fortunately, our Facebook study group proves the remedy exists, and its rooted in the volition of human consciousness, as Clementine explains,
Gen Z is searching for answers in the collectivist “serving something greater than yourself,” and sensing that has no real purpose. My daughter was working her way to that conclusion as she started reflecting on the character of Howard Roark in The Fountainhead.