My only allegiance is to ‘reason’. My only duty is to my own self-interest. My only obligation is to the pursuit of both with the least imposition upon my fellow man.
I have seen a lot of Objectivists and fans of Ayn rand posting “Rand’s pledge” to various places on the net:
I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
John Galt’s oath from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
I understand the intention of Rand’s statement and also assume an act of identifying with it by those sharing it on the net, but I’m going to dare to go one step further and suggest that my version is superior and say why.
First off, Rand’s pledge is an unattainable ideal at present. In a perfect objectivist utopia it would not be – where all men would behave to others in a rational fashion. Well guess what, we aren’t in such a utopia, and it’s likely one will never purely exist.
Remember that I identify myself as a theoretical idealist but a practical realist. By stating this I am saying that I can imagine the ‘perfect world’ that should – or at least that I would ‘like’ to exist, but I also can observe the real world as it really does exist.
The fact is that whenever we place any task in the hands of other men such as with government (which here-to-fore seems to be a necessary evil amongst civilized men) there will inevitably be disagreements as to what the functions of that government should ultimately be responsible for and how it should go about achieving it.
Again, in a perfect world, it would behave and it would structure rules such that rational men could co-exist. But inevitably some irrationalities sneak in through various means at the hands of men desiring undeserved rewards from government and men in government willing to dole them out in exchange for power, money or some other self-serving motive.
So desire as you may, try as you may, wish as you might (which is mysticism btw, and thereby irrational, but it is kinda what making such a ‘vow’ really consitutes), chances are your participation within an imperfect system of imperfect men will inevitably, indirectly lead you to contribute to that system that is by itself breaking that vow.
Therefore, even though it is not your own intention or your own direct action, it does extend from your own participation in the system that enables it. Yes, such participation may be coerced, but we always have a choice to stand up to coercion. Instead we make comprimises – practical realism – where we base our decisions on the most rational combination of good and bad that arrives at the best combination of ‘good’ available to us – or at least we strive to.
By that reasoning, and with that desire in mind, my statement above is a better statement of fact that does not entail an unattainable pledge.
(see also My New Mantra for my original breakdown of this)