George Bernard Shaw said, "The reformer for whom the world is not good enough finds himself shoulder to shoulder with him that is not good enough for the world."|
It seems strange that a socialist made that observation when almost everyone in the worlds of politics, academia, and popular media is concerned with making the world a better place. An old time preacher once said, if the world smells bad to you, it's probably your own smell that's offending you.
There Is Nothing Wrong With The World
Whenever I make the claim, that there is nothing wrong with the world, I am always asked, "How can you say that? The entire history of the world is dominated by earthquakes, floods, famines, plagues, disease and natural disasters as well as endless human cruelty, oppression, wars, and terrorism."
That's all true and most human beings suffered or died as a result of all those, "terrible," things. Yet, history is also the record of those who not only survived all those natural and man-made horrors, but prospered and succeeded, discovering the nature of the world and creating all the things that make lives worth living possible. The prosperous and successful, the innovators, inventors, discoverers, and creators throughout all history have always been the exceptional and few in number—the few who lived not to evade suffering and death but to achieve and be all they could be as human beings enjoying life to the fullest.
The World Of The Individual Creator
"The world is wonderful and beautiful and good beyond one's wildest imagination," D.H. Lawrence wrote.
On the other hand you have the view of the world as described by this Christian: "It's rather evident that something is not right in our world. In fact, something must be broken. The earthquakes, the hurricanes, the tsunamis, the Twin Towers. Hunger, pollution, threats of nuclear war, terrorism, mass shootings, greed, genocide. You can't escape the pressing reality that this is not a horrible world."
How can there be such a difference in how the world is seen? The answer is provided by another romantic author, F. Scott Fitzgerald: "The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want." —or as right or wrong as you want, or as good or bad as you want, because the world is neither good or bad in itself. The world, or reality, is simply what it is, neither malevolent or benevolent, but the source of all that is possible, both good and bad.
The Romantic View
One of the best expressions of the romantic view of life was not by a philosopher or ideoligist, but the science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury. He wrote: "The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance—the idea that anything is possible. It is the heart of the romantic view:
Romance—the idea that anything is possible.
Bradbury applied it to science, but it pertains to every field. It is no mystical sentimentalism—it does not pertain to magic or miracles. Within the limits of reality, anything is possible. Of course there is the physically impossible which only means it is the nature of physical existence that makes all physical achievement possible, but within those limits, the possibilities are limitless. Of course one cannot do what is physically impossible or anything they are not physically or mentally capable of. Within the limits of reality and one's own abilities, however, there is nothing one can choose to be or accomplish that they cannot.
There is no one who championed the romantic view of life more than Ayn Rand. From here journals, "Notes While Writing, 1947-1952," She contrasted those with the romantic view of life, the independent creators, innovators, and producers who pursued a life of achievement (those she called creators) with the pathetic life-haters, who regard life as a kind of curse to be endured mistaking a fear of suffering and death (those she called parasites) with a love of achievement and life.
Creators never act with pain as their motive. This is the principle behind the parasite's accusation that creators "have no feelings." They feel—and much more profoundly than any lesser person or whining parasite, but they are not run by their feelings, and they are not afraid of pain. Nothing they do is ever motivated by a desire to avoid pain or to be protected against it; they act on the motive of happiness, on the desire to get what they want, at any cost, even if pain is part of the cost.|
In the same journal, in the section, "Note on Morality," she wrote;
A man's happiness must not include any evil as its essential element. This is the point which disqualifies the alleged happiness of an altruist. His happiness depends, by definition, on somebody else's suffering; he considers this suffering an evil, since he finds it so important to relieve and eliminate it, since he makes that the paramount aim of his life. Therefore, his happiness is based on an evil, and requires that evil to exist. In a world of happy men, he could not be happy (which, of course, is one of the reasons why collectivists achieve horrors).|
To emphasize that it is the parasites negative view of the world that is the source of this evil she adds:
If it is said that suffering exists in the world anyway, permanently and essentially, therefore it's noble to combat it—then that is the malevolent universe [view]. Man does not exist for suffering. Suffering is an accidental, "marginal" part of his existence, which he must fight in order to be free to exist in happiness; [a part] which he must overcome as quickly as possible—and not spend his life seeking, thus making it the aim of his life. The suffering which threatens men from physical nature is negligible compared to the suffering he brings upon himself and others. If man functioned properly in the field open to him and determined by him—the field of his choice, his free will, his thinking and actions—he would eliminate most, and perhaps even all, of the suffering caused by the accidents of his physical nature. The essence of suffering is destruction. By acting on the premises of self-destruction, man brings about suffering, his own and that of others. And he acts on a premise of self-destruction when he places others above self. He acts against his own nature and theirs. The suffering of others cannot be made one's concern. It is not within our power of action. It is not within the function of our nature.|
That is the meaning of John Galt's Speech in Atlas Shrugged, when speaking to the parasites:
|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.
Reality—All The World As It Is
It is not just the physical world of the sciences that is reality, but all that is: every physical thing, every organism and all of nature, and, most importantly, all that is in the world produced by the creative minds of human beings, including every society and culture, past and present.
In USA Gone? I described the possibility of the present level of civilization in the United States eventually collapsing:
Civilizations do not end, they simply decay as the number of creative, productive, civilized individuals dwindles while the number of uncivilized parasites and squalid individuals increases to the point where the civilized can no long support them. Such societies cannot continue to exist, and uncivilized masses either become totally oppressed or die. Though the number of civilized individuals becomes very small, they almost never disappear completely, however.|
By, "civilized individuals," I mean the free and creative that always exist, whose lives are not dependent on any collective or any particular society.
The truly civilized always survive and always prosper whatever the state of societies. (There are millionaires living today in Venezuela.) The civilized enjoy societies when the majority of individuals in them are at least moderately civilized, and appreciate the benefit the truly civilized are to such societies, but the civilized themselves need no other society then themselves and any other of the civilized few they find who choose to associate with them.|
One of the things almost everyone misses about history is the fact that there are always, in every age, in the midst of the world's least civilized periods, individuals who prosper, who learn and write and create, and carry on the propagation of accumulated knowledge. The truly civilized know it is not societies that matter, but only what they do with their own lives using what the world in their time makes possible. Sometimes societies are very useful to the individual creators, but most societies are a mixture of advantages and threats, ....
No matter what reality is at any moment, the world is, for the free individual, a world of infinite potential and possibility for achieving all that one's life can be. The world is always a wonderful world of infinite romantic adventure to be lived and enjoyed.