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Screen-printing Salmon Run, More Reader Mail + Why I Named My Son After Václav Klaus
by Jeremy Browning
Jun. 30, 2009 12:55

The frequency of my posts here are has always had an inverse relationship to revenue at my screen printing company. May and June are probably the busiest months of the year -- I call it the "Screen Printing Salmon Run". During the Salmon Run, I vanish from my blog -- to the detriment of myself and throngs of loyal readers.

On top of that, my son was born on June 20 and the last month of my wife's pregnancy was a little rocky with her being sick and feeling like "blah".

The result is that I don't really remember much of the last 60 days except for my son's birth, which is burned into my memory. The rest of it is just vague emotions, like "ugh" first thing in the morning.

Another "ugh" is that I took some time out of a couple 14-hour days in May to correspond again with Jim C., a reader you'll remember from previous posts.

I guess I was thinking that a little non-work-related intellectual stimulation would be a good break from the shop.

I was wrong.

Our brief exchanges culminated with a few insults from Jim, including the accusation that I'm only a good person because, morally, I'm "running on fumes" from my days as a Christian, that under Objectivism, morality becomes "meaningless or non-sense" and that my moral choices are based solely upon what is expedient.

I respect the many people I meet who don't understand Objectivism and admit it. I respect the people who ask, "Doesn't the virtue of selfishness lead to anarchy and every-man-for-himself," and then listen patiently while I explain it to them.

Jim clearly hasn't read much Ayn Rand, for he makes the most basic mistakes when speaking about her philosophy. And that's fine. But when he makes specific accusations about my character, it's just too much.

People who know me -- Christians and atheists alike -- may have some complaints about me. But no one questions my integrity. I'm honest because I don't believe there's anything to gain by faking reality. I have the word "VIRTUE" inscribed on the inside of my wedding ring and I love this Rand quote about virtue:

Man has a single basic choice: to think or not, and that is the gauge of his virtue. Moral perfection is an unbreached rationality—not the degree of your intelligence, but the full and relentless use of your mind, not the extent of your knowledge, but the acceptance of reason as an absolute.


I have read and re-read and re-read and I completely understand the following passage, spoken by John Galt in Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. It's about not initiating the use of physical force and why it's such an important ethical principle:

Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others.

To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to force him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of force, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder: the premise of destroying man's capacity to live.

Do not open your mouth to tell me that your mind has convinced you of your right to force my mind. Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins. When you declare that men are irrational animals and propose to treat them as such, you define thereby your own character and can no longer claim the sanction of reason—as no advocate of contradictions can claim it. There can be no "right" to destroy the source of rights, the only means of judging right and wrong: the mind.

To force a man to drop his own mind and to accept your will as a substitute, with a gun in place of a syllogism, with terror in place of proof, and death as the final argument—is to attempt to exist in defiance of reality. Reality demands of man that he act for his own rational interest; your gun demands of him that he act against it. Reality threatens man with death if he does not act on his rational judgment; you threaten him with death if he does. You place him in a world where the price of his life is the surrender of all the virtues required by life—and death by a process of gradual destruction is all that you and your system will achieve, when death is made to be the ruling power, the winning argument in a society of men.

Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: "Your money or your life," or a politician who confronts a country with the ultimatum: "Your children's education or your life," the meaning of that ultimatum is: "Your mind or your life"—and neither is possible to man without the other.


For me, those are words to live by. I consult those principles and others throughout my daily life.

Do I strike you, as I struck Jim C. as someone whose standard of value is expediency?

But my deeper point here is that bickering about religion vs. atheism is not my primary goal. I am not a "fisher of men" attempting to convert Christians to atheism.

Despite Jim's insults, and beyond my desire to express to him (or anyone) my devotion to reason and honest inquiry with regard to the supposed supernatural, my overarching purpose here at captaincool.net is to convert people to recognize the inviolate nature of individual rights and capitalism as the logical political/economic implementation of those rights.

I really don't care about your religion, as long as you and your bros leave me alone. Crikey! I just finished writing a few posts back that

I don't yearn for any great consensus about very many things. I believe that it's vital for our countrymen to strongly agree on a very small number of crucial principles.

[...]

If we could all agree on the absolute right of the individual to come to her own conclusions, to act upon her own best judgment and to be free from coercion, then most of the rest is meaningless to me. That one principle is a razor that cuts out the roots of most of the arguments of the day.

After that, we can be free to go to the game on Sunday or go to the Synagogue, the Church, the Cathedral or the Mosque instead; we can be free to light a cigarette, a Menorah, a doobie or a pentagram; we can be free to dine on soda and candy bars, or wheatgrass smoothies and organic tofu; we can be free to drive a Dodge Ram or a Prius; we can envy our neighbor's material success or praise his productivity; we can have sex with men or women or both.

You see, we are not one, and needn't be.


So while it may be Jim's moral duty to flog me about my lack of religion, I'm perfectly willing to let him have all the religion he wants, so long as he keeps me out of it. As a matter of fact, I've been known to join hands with Christians in protesting our government's continued disavowal of capitalism and individual rights.

I'd rather live in a society of Christian capitalists who enshrine individual liberty than a society of atheist leftists railing against capitalism, objectivity and the industrial revolution.

Now, back to my newborn son -- specifically, his namesake.

The European Parliament this past February was graced with a speech from a man who dared to promote capitalism while most of the room no doubt held their noses and some even jeered. Václav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, had the courage to stand before the European Parliament and speak the truth:

Moreover, it is self evident that one or another institutional arrangement of the European Union is not an objective in itself; but a tool for achieving the real objectives. These are nothing but human freedom and an economic system that would bring prosperity. That system is a market economy.

[...]

We must say openly that the present economic system of the EU is a system of a suppressed market, a system of a permanently strengthening centrally controlled economy. Although history has more than clearly proven that this is a dead end, we find ourselves walking the same path once again. This results in a constant rise in both the extent of government masterminding and constraining of spontaneity of market processes. In recent months, this trend has been further reinforced by incorrect interpretation of the causes of the present economic and financial crisis, as if it were caused by free market, while in reality it is just the contrary – caused by political manipulation of the market.


Wow.

Imagine the strength of character required to say those things to a gathering of EU politicians. It's like quoting rapper Dr. Dre at a KKK meeting.

I've written about Mr. Klaus before and his reasoned skepticism of human-caused global warming as well as his criticism of the attempts to decapitate the world economy in service to the environment. I've been a fan of his for several years.

His unrepentant endorsement of freedom is just the thing this world needs. And my baby boy's middle name is Klaus in honor of the spirit of the men such as Václav, to whom we owe our freedom, if not our lives.

Edited Jul. 01, 2009 23:28

 


log (lôg) n. a record of details of a voyage made by a ship's captain or crew