Perhaps no addiction is as disastrous to the world as the addiction to conformity. Or rather: the desire to force others to conform. Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norm(says the wikipedia). It might sound strange that in a society that seems to underscore the drive to be unique and to stand out, a desire exists to have others behave the way we want them to behave. But is it so strange?
An example can be found here: http://www.autostraddle.com/im-a-trans-woman-and-im-not-interested-in-being-one-of-the-good-ones-172570/
Actually it isn’t at all strange if you come to think of it. In fact: standing out or excelling can only be done in a society where everyone conforms to the same rules; the rules that define who stands out or not. You need something to contrast with: the grey masses.
If nobody cares that you have a lot of money and don’t see this a as sign of quality, then money becomes irrelevant as a means to acquire status and stand above others who lack wealth. For a lot of westerners the idea that there are other means to acquire status besides riches is a strange idea. Yet it isn’t. There used to be and are other means to feel superior to others, means that are closed to those others. Just to give two examples: birthright and the caste system.
In the west the idea has developed that the best should lead and preferably lead without restraint. This is the essence of Objectivism, a philosophy that has been developed by a person called Ayn Rand and has found favoritism by a sizeable portion of (American) society, especially by those who belong to the higher echelons and see it as a vindication of their position.
Objectivism was an answer to the collectivism of Socialism, Marxism and other ‘left wing’ political constructs. Objectivism says that progress or the advancement of humanity as a whole is furthered by key individuals. In this mythology examples of these leading people abound: Edison, Franklin, Einstein, Ford and so on. The idea of the lone scientist who in his laboratorium discovers new theories and invents better things is so strong that is has become the leading staple idea of modern western society and is used over and over again in movies and books.(Ayn Rand will use this for her books as well.)
But one should take not that Objectivism is not to blame for this development. One should not think this philosophy was the cause or even the consequence of this idea of the unique individual who excels and should therefore lead. Objectivism is but a philosophy that fits the dominant culture of self centered individualism and finds favoritism with people who feel uncomfortable with their wealth and yearn for a reasoning that says: it is good to be wealthy. It is good to be rich. It is good to strive for more even though you have more than enough.
Why do people feel uncomfortable with wealth?
This is because putting wealth before anything else doesn’t fit well with Christianity and the liberal democratic ideas that gave birth to the French revolution and the independence of the United States. The French still have the essential ideas of their revolution on their official buildings: liberty, equality and brotherhood and Christianity still has it that everyone is equal before God and even, most shocking of all, that the meek shall inherit the earth.
This does not fit in well with Objectivism. But the power of humanity is such that it can combine diametrically opposed ideas into one culture: even in one person. One can be a devout christian supporting the basic tenets of the Christian faith while at the same time be a devout follower of Ayn Rand supporting the basic tenets of Objectivism and denouncing those of the christian faith. Ironically something Ayn Rand does and gets away with it.
Objectivism strongest asset is that it tells us that it is okay to be rich and we are not required to share our wealth with others because they should get their own.
But what has this to do with conformity?
The whole point of Objectivism is not what it says, but what it does not say. Few individuals are as brilliant and developed as the main characters of Ayn Rand book Atlas Shrugged. It is probably that you would not be able to find anyone in this world who is like them. They are makebelieve persons born from the fantasy of Ayn Rand, just like Superman is dreamed up by Jerry Siegel and given shape by joe Shuster. And yes.. Superman does not exist. Well at least not yet.
In fact the millions of people who might adhere to Objectivism might not find anything in that philosophy that describes their sorry plight and they will actually have to face the truth that they themselves are not like Dagny Taggert, but just like everyone else: losers.
Thing is that a highly fabricated construct of Objectivism can only work if everyone else besides the Taggerts shuts up and does what they are told. For without the guys and gals cleaning the toilets, fixing the roofs, driving the cars and pushing the buttons that make the trains of Taggert go, the brilliant leaders of society would not see their plans bear fruit.
In a very ironical way Objectivism is not so much opposed to collectivism but a philosophy that develops it further. In collectivism everyone is equal, in Objectivism some are more equal than others.
Conformity is therefore essential to Objectivism and western society. You shall not stand out unless you do. And as long as you don’t you will be part of the grey masses whose sole purpose is to support those who do excel. In the meanwhile we entice you with the idea that you can stand out, but in fact few ever will. In fact you never will.
Objectivism is not so much a philosophy that explains, but a band aid for those who feel uncomfortable with their wealth and their positions. And when they appear before Jesus or God after they died, they can explain to Him(or Her) that they did it all to further the progress of Humanity just like Ayn told tells in her writing.
And Jesus will probably forgive them regardless, because the bible tells you so.
But I am sure that Ayn Rand will not forgive those who do not excel and in her heaven there is only room for those who are more equal than others.
And for all others there is just oblivion.
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