“The philosophy of Atheism represents a concept of life without any metaphysical Beyond or Divine Regulator. It is the concept of an actual, real world with its liberating, expanding and beautifying possibilities, as against an unreal world, which, with its spirits, oracles, and mean contentment has kept humanity in helpless degradation.” – Emma Goldman
At first thought, the different philosophical positions of Emma Goldman and Ayn Rand seem to be well defined. Notwithstanding, the contrast between a propensity towards anarchism with an advocacy for laissez-faire capitalism, both Russian born “Khazar Jewish” theorists and activists shared a rejection of a theist metaphysics. When Emma Goldman states: (speaking from a Detroit pulpit in 1898, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 382), “I do not believe in God, because I believe in man. Whatever his mistakes, man has for thousands of years past been working to undo the botched job your God has made”, her mindset distinctly sets her apart from the main body of Western Civilization thought.
Published back in February 1916 in the Mother Earth journal, The Philosophy of Atheism by Emma Goldman; her core cosmology cannot be clearer.
“Only after the triumph of the Atheistic philosophy in the minds and hearts of man will freedom and beauty be realized. Beauty as a gift from heaven has proved useless. It will, however, become the essence and impetus of life when man learns to see in the earth the only heaven fit for man. Atheism is already helping to free man from his dependence upon punishment and reward as the heavenly bargain- counter for the poor in spirit.
Do not all theists insist that there can be no morality, no justice, honesty or fidelity without the belief in a Divine Power? Based upon fear and hope, such morality has always been a vile product, imbued parity with self-righteousness, partly with hypocrisy. As to truth, justice, and fidelity, who have been their brave exponents and daring proclaimers? Nearly always the godless ones: the Atheists; they lived, fought, and died for them. They knew that justice, truth, and fidelity are not, conditioned in heaven, but that they are related to and interwoven with the tremendous changes going on in the social and material life of the human race; not fixed and eternal, but fluctuating, even as life itself. To what heights the philosophy of Atheism may yet attain, no one can prophesy. But this much can already be predicted: only by its regenerating fire will human relations be purged from the horrors of the past.”
In a famous Playboy magazine interview, Ayn Rand, while rejecting a faith-based religion, is more deferential toward the chronicle of basing a moral society on ethical standards.
Playboy: Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?
Ayn Rand: Qua religion, no – in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very – how should I say it? – dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.
A concise and insightful comparison is cited from the abstract, Models of individuality in Emma Goldman’s and Ayn Rand’s theories of civil society, by Janet Elizabeth Day of Purdue University.
“This research examines different conceptions of the individual of two theorists representing different strains of libertarian thought: Emma Goldman, and Ayn Rand. The unifying and central concern for both women is the prioritization of the individual. Owing to some extent to their shared cultural heritage and intellectual influence as Russian Jewish émigrés, similarities can be identified between Goldman’s and Rand’s definition of the individual and belief that society should be organized so as to afford the individual the greatest possible freedom and autonomy; however, real and substantive distinctions exist as well. Goldman advocates a society based on free communism in which people organize according to the free association of federations. Rand advocates a society based on laissez-faire capitalism in which a limited constitutional government enforces contracts between individuals. What unites their theories is their reliance on ethical egoism as a means to producing self-directed individuals who are best prepared to live in a free society as productive members.”
What better example of the notion of ethical egoism is there, than the popular attitude associated with Secularism, Post-Secularism, Religion and the ‘Open Society’. In this paper by Reinhard Schulze, he quotes Charles Taylor accordingly.
“I want to argue that we are moving toward a sort of “fragmentation” of the spiritual, in which its previous connection with whole societies, be this in the older medieval form of sacred monarchies or in the modern form of “civil religion”, is being strained to breaking point. We are entering a ‘post-Durkheimian’ age [a situation in which faith is not connected, or only weakly connected, to a national political identity]. We end up living in what I want to call an ‘immanent frame.’”
Both Goldman and Rand would seem to be more comfortable with a humankind centric society that dismisses trust in the promise of an afterlife and shape standards for ethical conduct, grounded upon the wisdom of the ages. If Taylor is correct that the national political identity is now based upon some kind of an elusive immanent frame, just what is the role of the prevailing secular humanism ethos system?
The Council for Secular Humanism offers the following outline to the question, What Is Secular Humanism?
Secular Humanism is a term, which has come into use in the last thirty years to describe a world-view with the following elements and principles:
•A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
•Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.
•A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
•A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
•A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
•A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
•A conviction that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.
Secular Humanists often argue that religion is not necessary for people to be altruistic, while Objectivists reject altruism outright and most Marxist Collectivists share Goldman’s stance, base upon a system on atheistic gratification and The Failure of Christianity,
“How much more ennobling, how much more beneficial is the extreme individualism of Stirner and Nietzsche than the sick-room atmosphere of the Christian faith. If they repudiate altruism as an evil, it is because of the example contained in Christianity, which set a premium on parasitism and inertia, gave birth to all manner of social disorders that are to be cured with the preachment of love and sympathy.”
Religionists often criticize secular humanism for not offering any eternal truths, while Objectivists tend to regard the laws by which the free market operates to be eternal truths. Goldman purports that, “All progress has been essentially an unmasking of “divinity” and “mystery,” of alleged sacred, eternal “truth”; it has been a gradual elimination of the abstract and the substitution in its place of the real, the concrete.”
The most striking difference is that Secular Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility, whereas Objectivism actively rejects social responsibility in favor of individual self-interest, while Goldman the Anarchist states: “People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”
Whether Charles Taylor’s immanent frame is real or not, the fact is that the secular doctrine that fills the couches of mindless electronic self-delusion, keep the aisles empty in the humanism churches that lost sight of the essence of eternal truths. Both Goldman and Rand reject the validity of mystic revelation and the immorality of the spiritual soul.
If the history of civilized society founded upon institutional religion, is replete with suffering and carnage; by what strange twist of belief in the ethical egoism of Goldman’s nihilist collectivism and Rand’s objectivism, could possibly make life better?
Individuals like Goldman and Rand are lost. They are solitary purdah pretentious intellectuals without the presence of God in their life. The screen curtain they erect around their egotism is a veritable veil surrounding their own lack of humanity.