Finding a Word for My Philosophy

I have always believed that we are entitled to live our lives any way we choose as long as we don’t take away the right of another to do the same.  When I was younger I identified with the overused phrase, “The right of your fist stops at the end of my nose.”  While the concept was firm in my mind, I never had an actual word for my version of freedom, it just seemed, well, “self-evident”.    

I never identified with Liberal, progressive or Democrat for obvious reasons.  Freedom is based on self-ownership.  You cannot be free if another person, mob or government has the power to take portions of your life’s work by force to redistribute it to others they consider more deserving.  You own your life and have the liberty to choose what to do with it, therefore you own the  product of living it.  Morally, you are the the only person qualified to determine how to distribute or use the product of your life, energy and talents. In this context, liberalism, or whatever -ism they use to describe themselves today, is an immoral philosophy that cloaks itself in helping the down trodden, but it does so by violating the rights of other citizens.     

Libertarianism seemed promising but there are so many different types of libertarianism that the word is almost meaningless.  You have Anarchists who believe in the first part of my credo, “I have the right to live anyway I want”, unfortunately they stop there and put no restrictions on their actions regarding the rights of others.  You can’t morally claim a right for yourself without granting the same right to everyone.  While more moderate Libertarians are very close to my vision, many hold the view that there is no need for the government at all.  That is a misguided point of view.  Government plays a vital role in protecting our lives, liberty and property from external and internal threats and in providing a peaceful means for citizens to settle disputes.  No, I’m not anti-government, I’m anti-government intrusion.  

For most of my life I have identified myself as conservative or Republican.  For the most part, my values are conservative in nature, for the most part.  There are several social issues where I part ways with a good number of conservatives.  In short, many conservatives see no problem in having the government indoctrinate their values, especially religious values, as law.  We can agree we have a right to pursue happiness.  What is happiness if it’s not living your life by and in pursuit of your values.  Forcing another to live by your values is immoral as it violates their right to live their life in pursuit of their happiness defined by their values not yours.  

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Get your copy of Atlas Shrugged
So there I was, a man without a political or philosophical home when a friend suggested I read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  About a month later I knew that my -ism is Objectivism.  Here is my adaptation of Ayn Rand’s famous, “standing on one foot” explanation of Objectivism.   

  1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality-facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears. You might say, “It is what it is”
  2. Epistemology: Reason is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.  You might say, “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too”
  3. Ethics: Self-interest.  Every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life. You might say, “Your life IS the meaning of your life.”
  4. Politics: Capitalism-It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church. You might say, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

So now a new dilemma. There are two political parties in this country, neither align perfectly with my philosophy and both promote different but equally immoral policies.  I could seek out and join forces with like minds in the Republican party to try to change the party from within.  My experience in watching friends try that in the business world lead me to believe that would be an excercise in frustration and futility.  There is an Objectivist Party, but it is extremely small and poorly organized. The ability to be effective anytime soon in the current two-party system would be just as futile.  

There is one more possibility.  Find opportunities to speak to people every day using the events and news of the day to contrast the America that is with the America that should be.  Ultimately,  freedom loving Americans will have to have the courage to stand up to the “moochers and looters” and say “No more!”   But first, many need to have their eyes opened to the precipice on which we currently teeter.


About Larry Downes

Son, brother, husband, father, boss, mentor & friend. Believer in unfettered personal liberty. Occasional host on 93.1 WIBC in Indianapolis.

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