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The Western World’s Greatest Manipulation: Original Sin, Guilt, and the Mind-Body Dichotomy

In a few words: you’re guilty, a total inner-conflicted mess

A short reading from a woman. The horror!

~~~

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 into 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.

If there are degrees of evil, it is hard to say who is the more contemptible: the brute who assumes the right to force the mind of others or the moral degenerate who grants to others the right to force his mind.

That is the moral absolute one does not leave open to debate. I do not grant the terms of reason to men who propose to deprive me of reason. I do not enter discussions with neighbors who think they can forbid me to think. I do not place my moral sanction upon a murderer’s wish to kill me. When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him—by force.

It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man who starts its use. No, I do not share his evil or sink to his concept of morality: I merely grant him his choice, destruction, the only destruction he had the right to choose: his own. He uses force to seize a value; I use it only to destroy destruction. A holdup man seeks to gain wealth by killing me; I do not grow richer by killing a holdup man. I seek no values by means of evil, nor do I surrender my values to evil.

In the name of all the producers who had kept you alive and received your death ultimatums in payment, I now answer you with a single ultimatum of our own: Our work or your guns. You can choose either; you can’t have both. We do not initiate the use of force against others or submit to force at their hands. If you desire ever again to live in an industrial society, it will be on our moral terms. Our terms and our motive power are the antithesis of yours. You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his reward for accepting ours.

You who are worshippers of the zero—you have never discovered that achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death. Joy is not ‘the absence of pain,’ intelligence is not ‘the absence of stupidity,’ light is not ‘the absence of darkness,’ an entity is not ‘the absence of a nonentity.’ Building is not done by abstaining from demolition; centuries of sitting and waiting in such abstinence will not raise one single girder for you to abstain from demolishing—and now you can no longer say to me, the builder: ‘Produce, and feed us in exchange for our not destroying your production.’ I am answering in the name of all your victims: Perish with and in your own void. Existence is not a negation of negatives. Evil, not value, is an absence and a negation, evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us. Perish, because we have learned that a zero cannot hold a mortgage over life.

You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness.

You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.

You, who have lost the concept of the difference, you who claim that fear and joy are incentives of equal power—and secretly add that fear is the more ‘practical’—you do not wish to live, and only fear of death still holds you to the existence you have damned. You dart in panic through the trap of your days, looking for the exit you have closed, running from a pursuer you dare not name to a terror you dare not acknowledge, and the greater your terror the greater your dread of the only act that could save you: thinking. The purpose of your struggle is not to know, not to grasp or name or hear the thing I shall now state to your hearing: that yours is the Morality of Death.

Death is the standard of your values, death is your chosen goal, and you have to keep running, since there is no escape from the pursuer who is out to destroy you or from the knowledge that that pursuer is yourself. Stop running, for once—there is no place to run—stand naked, as you dread to stand, but as I see you, and take a look at what you dared to call a moral code.

Damnation is the start of your morality, destruction is its purpose, means and end. Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not.

It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim upon him—it does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the good is that which is non-man.

The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.

A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.

Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a ‘tendency’ to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.

What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being.

It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love—he was not man.

Man’s fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin.

His evil, they charge, is that he’s man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives.

They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man.

No, they say, they do not preach that man is evil, the evil is only that alien object: his body. No, they say, they do not wish to kill him, they only wish to make him lose his body. They seek to help him, they say, against his pain—and they point at the torture rack to which they’ve tied him, the rack with two wheels that pull him in opposite directions, the rack of the doctrine that splits his soul and body.

They have cut man in two, setting one half against the other. They have taught him that his body and his consciousness are two enemies engaged in deadly conflict, two antagonists of opposite natures, contradictory claims, incompatible needs, that to benefit one is to injure the other, that his soul belongs to a supernatural realm, but his body is an evil prison holding it in bondage to this earth—and that the good is to defeat his body, to undermine it by years of patient struggle, digging his way to that glorious jail-break which leads into the freedom of the grave.

They have taught man that he is a hopeless misfit made of two elements, both symbols of death. A body without a soul is a corpse, a soul without a body is a ghost—yet such is their image of man’s nature: the battleground of a struggle between a corpse and a ghost, a corpse endowed with some evil volition of its own and a ghost endowed with the knowledge that everything known to man is non-existent, that only the unknowable exists.

Do you observe what human faculty that doctrine was designed to ignore? It was man’s mind that had to be negated in order to make him fall apart. Once he surrendered reason, he was left at the mercy of two monsters whom he could not fathom or control: of a body moved by unaccountable instincts and of a soul moved by mystic revelations—he was left as the passively ravaged victim of a battle between a robot and a dictaphone.

And as he now crawls through the wreckage, groping blindly for a way to live, your teachers offer him the help of a morality that proclaims that he’ll find no solution, and must seek no fulfillment on earth. Real existence, they tell him, is that which he cannot perceive, true consciousness is the faculty of perceiving the non-existent—and if he is unable to understand it, that is the proof that his existence is evil and his consciousness impotent.

As products of the split between man’s soul and body, there are two kinds of teachers of the Morality of Death: the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle, whom you call the spiritualists and the materialists, those who believe in consciousness without existence and those who believe in existence without consciousness. Both demand the surrender of your mind, one to their revelations, the other to their reflexes. No matter how loudly they posture in the roles of irreconcilable antagonists, their moral codes are alike, and so are their aims: in matter—the enslavement of man’s body, in spirit—the destruction of his mind.

The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive—a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. The good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society—a thing which they define as an organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in particular and everyone in general except yourself. Man’s mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God, Man’s mind, say the mystics of muscle, must be subordinated to the will of Society. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man’s power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of muscle, is the pleasure of Society, whose standards are beyond man’s right of judgment and must be obeyed as a primary absolute. The purpose of man’s life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. His reward, say the mystics of spirit, will be given to him beyond the grave. His reward, say the mystics of muscle, will be given on earth—to his great-grandchildren.

Selfishness—say both—is man’s evil. Man’s good—say both—is to give up his personal desires, to deny himself, renounce himself, surrender; man’s good is to negate the life he lives. Sacrifice—cry both—is the essence of morality, the highest virtue within man’s reach.

~~~

That was 1957, four years before the world even began on my calendar..

Ayn Rand, excerpt of John Galt’s Speech, Atlas Shrugged, in the latter 700 pages, depending on version.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

36 Comments

  1. Shelley on February 6, 2013 at 12:00

    Beautiful.

    “from the knowledge that that pursuer is yourself”

  2. Gordon Shannon on February 6, 2013 at 14:31

    I stopped reading when you said “woman.”

    😛

    • Gordon Shannon on February 6, 2013 at 15:42

      Seriously though, it is the absence of such concepts that makes reading Aristotle such a pleasure. Rand develops his ideas wonderfully, but returning to the source is always rewarding.



  3. Steve L on February 6, 2013 at 15:26

    I know he was no fan of Ms. Rand, but Christopher Hitchens had very similar things to say that can be found all over Youtube. My fave went something like “It’s time to leave behind this ghastly cult based on human sacrifice.” Right on, Hitch.

  4. Bill on February 6, 2013 at 16:57

    Hitch was the best. I always think that if he had followed a paleo type of diet he maybe would have not succumbed to his throat cancer. All conjecture obviously. At least he made his mark. Not many of us can claim that achievement.

    • Joshua on February 7, 2013 at 05:47

      I suspect the cigars, cigarettes, and copious amounts of whiskey were also contributing factors.



  5. gharkness on February 6, 2013 at 17:13

    Ah, three words in ….okay four….and I knew who it was. Thanks, just…..thanks. and while I don’t agree with everything Ms. Rand said (nobody agrees with **everything** anyone else thinks, or they are an idiot), her take on guilt is absolutely spot on.

    • Raynote on February 7, 2013 at 08:41

      It took me a bit longer, …it was after 4 lines that I realized who it was!



  6. Cow on February 6, 2013 at 19:53

    Richard, as atheist, would you make sacrifice you will for you life?

    Cow would, because even sufferings, submission and humiliations is more interesting than great black infinity of death.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 6, 2013 at 20:01

      Part of the problem is that people conflate sacrifice and investment all the time. A sacrifice is one value for something of less or negative value. An investment or speculation is done with the intention of being better off at some future point.



    • Cow on February 6, 2013 at 21:06

      I talking about definition of sacrifice which mean to give you life for you value –which many would consider to be greater than life. If come to be new world order, would you bow down to sky god, or let neighbor be taken to death camp, or eat 30 banana per day, in exchange for you life?



    • Richard Nikoley on February 6, 2013 at 21:08

      If you’re talking about coercion, that’s not sacrifice, that’s submission.



    • Cow on February 6, 2013 at 22:58

      Okay then, would you submit or die?

      PS. Jesus God, Richard! I feel like I asking obvious simple question without making for any judgements, and I even put forth my own anwer first, but you using laborious vocabulary obfuscations to deflect giving answer. I sorry, I not understand.



    • Richard Nikoley on February 6, 2013 at 23:07

      “I sorry, I not understand”

      Well, you are cow, so I can’t be too careful. 🙂

      I don’t sacrifice. I do invest and have speculated at times, won some, lost some (ended up worse off, but not the intention).

      Submit? What do you think we all do already? I have to hand over upwards of 30-40% of what I make to the State under threat of fines and imprisonment, so there’s your answer right there. We all submit. Would I submit unconditionally? No, but I don’t know what that level is. I could only know once I got there.



    • Cow on February 6, 2013 at 23:46

      I just curious Richard, okay? I already admits I would submit to any lengths to spare my life. Is there condition somewhere that is line drawn? For me, honestly, no. I would no fight for my country. I would no give up my life for stranger in peril or for my prinicple. I would no denounce what wrong and evil. I would no even give up life for my brothers.



    • Elenor on February 7, 2013 at 06:05

      What an interesting life a Cow has!

      Do you, dear Cow, expect or desire your brothers (and sisters) to give up their lives for you? What about under close personal assault? (“The wolves have entered the pasture!!”)



    • Richard Nikoley on February 7, 2013 at 06:50

      Cow, now you are back to talking about sacrifice. See the difference?



    • Cow on February 7, 2013 at 07:21

      Richard, you making Cow crazy. I know I talking about sacrifice, I always was talking about sacrifice. Was you, up there, who define sacrifice as “giving one value for something of less or negative value.” Which I no even agrees with that definition (Webster say it just giving up one things for another), but I let this go and try to ask my questions under YOU definitions. So is under YOU definition that giving you life for prinicpal or love one is not sacrifice, because those things is no of lesser or negative values. You maybe call it investment or whatever I not sure, excepting they is no pay off in future because they is no future because you atheist and you dead, which is why Cow would no make ultimate sacrifice! Jesus God, all I trying was to asks you very simple question!

      You should be on debate team, Richard. You opponents is all sure to kills themself just to avoid semantic with you! 🙂

      Elenor, I would no expect, nor is they anyone in my life, who would give life for mine (excepting maybe public servant who crazy enough to make this they job.)



    • Richard Nikoley on February 7, 2013 at 07:31

      The devil is in the details and the intention.

      “I would no give up”

      Give up. That’s sacrifice. Intended from the outset to give up. Submission is not giving, it is refraining from self defense because of likely consequences (you’re putting the value of your life ahead of what’s being taken from you).

      When I signed up to be a Navy officer out of college, it was because of the career, travel, being able to live in foreign countries. Not to “die for my country.” It was a calculated risk that paid off. Similarly, you might loan or give a loved one money for needs, business venture or whatever, on the expectation that their health and well being will come back to you in various ways, in which case you are investing in maintaining or improving a relationship.



    • Cow on February 7, 2013 at 08:03

      Okay, so clearly you would disavow you principals to save you life. Which I think is damn sound move.

      You say above, “I don’t sacrifice.” Does this mean you would no sacrifice you life for loved one or anything else?



    • Richard Nikoley on February 7, 2013 at 09:30

      “Okay, so clearly you would disavow you principals”

      No. Submission is a physical act. A mind cannot be submitted. Can a slave still abhor his slavery? Can he hold the principle that slavery is wrong? Does the act of submission change his principle ideas?

      I hold no principle that I must die for them rather that allow submission of my physical will.

      “You say above, “I don’t sacrifice.” Does this mean you would no sacrifice you life for loved one or anything else?”

      It comes down to your hierarchy of values. The whole point of having a loved one is that the life and relationship with them is so valuable that the thought of living without them is abhorrent. Even suicide is not automatically a sacrifice. For some people, living is torture worse than death.



    • Elenor on February 8, 2013 at 06:10

      This puts me in mind of that fellow back some blog-entries who thought well of suicide because he wasn’t willing to submit (and stick around) to protect his children…. Talk about a value-system I can’t support!)



  7. anand srivastava on February 6, 2013 at 21:14

    I believe the Atlas is Shrugging now. But not in the way Ayn Rand envisioned in the novel.

    We are probably moving to a different system, where the normal man will have a better control of his destiny. But yes they will be responsible for planning their future. Social security will be a casualty.

    The problem with the current system and the Gold standard is that in both cases the medium of exchange and store of wealth is the same currency. It is better to move to a system where people realize that currency is not a good store of wealth. And people would invest what they understand and store in wealth what they don’t.

    The last few decades of bubbles have seen many people become very rich because of them, and they think that they might be able to make money in this way. But a crash is coming, which will tell people that the currency based things are ephemeral, and they should convert it to the physical as soon as possible.

    When this happens people will not be storing their wealth in banks, except what they would need for short term. Most people do not understand stock markets and will move their money in the physical world. This will keep the banks smaller, and will not give excess money to the govt (via the banks), to spend. The govts will then get smaller, because they cannot afford to be bigger.

    The central banks will have majority of their reserves as gold. All govts will mark their gold to market just like Euro and a few of the emerging countries are doing. Currencies will be valued in terms of gold rather than any arbitrary valuation. Paper gold market will either disappear completely or it will be a very small fraction of the physical gold market.

    I have been following the blog fofofa.blogspot.com. It provides a very clear and consistent picture of how and why the current system formed, what is happening now, and what is expected to happen in the future. Unlike other people this website has nothing to sell except accepting donations. The owner has been all in for the last five years and the blog is his extra income. The owner does not make any timing prediction, as you cannot really predict how much life there is still in the system. But the prediction made are of the inevitable variety. The new expected system is the same as I outlined in short above.

    I have made a few short articles, that are basically a summary of what I read there, and how I perceive the future.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 6, 2013 at 21:43

      Hey Anand.

      Are you sure the link you gave is correct?



    • anand srivastava on February 6, 2013 at 23:33

      Sorry one extra f :-(.

      http://fofoa.blogspot.in/

      I also forgot to give my blog, with the summary of my understanding :-(.
      http://talkfreegold.blogspot.in/



    • anand srivastava on February 7, 2013 at 00:59

      Following is a quote from FOFOA.

      Fractional reserve in and of itself is not such a terrible thing. The problem is that it creates a moral hazard. This moral hazard is such that even regulation cannot fix it because ultimately the regulators become morally corrupted by the system.

      The shift that is coming in the gold market, from paper to a physical market, is the ultimate conclusion to a fractional reserve system. It is the collapse of the system as confidence is ultimately lost that there is any reserve actually being held in your name.

      If we only use fiat currency as a unit for trade, and not for store of value, but instead have a non-fractional wealth reserve riding shotgun, the system will once again become sustainable.

      The currency will fluctuate per the actions of the printer, but if he prints too much, more value will flow into the wealth reserve. If the printer is responsible, people will gradually be willing to hold the fiat for longer and longer periods of time. Ultimately, if the printer remains responsible, some people may hold the fiat as a store of value. But then this will tempt the printer to print more and value will flow back into gold.

      This is where evolution is taking us. It is not taking us back, it is taking us forward. We are evolving to a place where governments print the money we use for trade, but not for savings. They will have to earn our trust again before we will save in their currency.

      FOFOA



    • Richard Nikoley on February 7, 2013 at 07:05

      “Fractional reserve in and of itself is not such a terrible thing.”

      Excellent. I’ve been writing the same thing for nearly 20 years since first encountering libertarians all hung up on the idea of money creation via lending in a fractional reserve environment. It’s the system, the fiat. In other words, a monopoly on money.

      Fractional reserve was invented by private bankers who wanted to do more than run a warehouse. They wanted to do banking. In a private banking environment, reserve levels would be determined by business dynamics such as competition, reputation, sound lending practices, etc.

      Far from being a terrible thing, its an amazing financial innovation. The idea that one ounce of gold accounts for warehouse receipts (tradable paper money) totaling exactly 1 ounce and no more is basically as primitive as the idea of outlawing “usury,” i.e., interest on money lent.



    • anand srivastava on February 8, 2013 at 10:40

      Great. I guess you will find the blog very interesting. Hope to see you there. The articles are long and there are too many of them. But if you want a starting list I can help you with it.



  8. Cow on February 7, 2013 at 01:25

    You desperate, but no serious, Woo! 80’s also has Echo & Bunnymen, AC/DC, Cult, New Order and host of industrial metal like NIN and Nitzer Ebb!

    Good drawings though, but is look like Adam Ant after visit to Palm Springs juice fast clinic.

    • Cow on February 7, 2013 at 02:16

      Ant was awesome (I mean, excepting abusing his wife and shit) and I think Depp stole some of his look for Jack Sparrow. Pretty Hate Machine best industrial ever for my monies. Reznor have me at hello…
      “god money I’ll do anything for you.
      god money just tell me what you want me to.
      god money nail me up against the wall.
      god money don’t want everything, he wants it all.”



    • Cow on February 7, 2013 at 07:30

      Adam Ant wrote “Wonderful” about almost punching out his wife. But is awesome tune, and maybe he give her royalties!

      “Over, real over, when I nearly hit the face I loved.
      I’m so tired of packaging the anger, always pushing you away.
      Did I tell you you’re wonderful?
      I miss you, yes, I do.
      Did I tell you that I was wrong?
      I was wrong, ‘cos you’re wonderful.”



  9. Joshua on February 7, 2013 at 05:54

    I like Rand’s ideas, but I shake my head at her writing. Concision is a virtue that I hold very dear, but it was not her strong suit.

  10. TempestTcup on February 7, 2013 at 07:52

    Adam Ant was is this awesome (for the 80s) post-apocalyptic movie “World Gone Wild”. He makes an excellent megalomaniacal religious cult leader/mass murderer.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096465/

    • TempestTcup on February 7, 2013 at 07:53

      Was supposed to be in reply to Wooo



  11. A.West on February 7, 2013 at 08:05

    Thanks for the quote. Atlas Shrugged is a great novel.
    It’s amazing how at least 90% of the world’s population is wrong on practically every important issue humanity faces. Unless there is immediate and obvious feedback on incorrectness (e.g. math & physics).
    Religion, economics, whole grains.

  12. Kristina on February 8, 2013 at 06:18

    That had excellent buildup. I read through the whole thing and got really pumped up… then it said “Ayn Rand.” Wow.

    The first book of hers that I read was The Fountainhead, and after that I read Anthem. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Atlas Shrugged yet.

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