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Ayn Rand Speaks to Bono

June 25th, 2011 by Jim May · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

“Even though altruism declares that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” it does not work that way in practice. The givers are never blessed; the more they give, the more is demanded of them; complaints, reproaches and insults are the only response they get for practicing altruism’s virtues (or for their actual virtues). Altruism cannot permit a recognition of virtue; it cannot permit self-esteem or moral innocence. Guilt is altruism’s stock in trade, and the inducing of guilt is its only means of self-perpetuation. If the giver is not kept under a torrent of degrading, demeaning accusations, he might take a look around and put an end to the self-sacrificing. Altruists are concerned only with those who suffer—not with those who provide relief from suffering, not even enough to care whether they are able to survive. When no actual suffering can be found, the altruists are compelled to invent or manufacture it.”

Ayn Rand, anticipating Art Uncut’s accusation that U2’s Bono isn’t sacrificing enough.

5 Comments so far ↓

  • Bryan

    I’m not sure citing Ayn Rand in defense of a charge of tax evasion is the way to go here, especially the more familiar you are with the Rand canon. Her thoughts on compassion are truly demoralizing for any Christian. Remember, she was a diehard athiest and material capitalist who believed it was the duty of the strong to produce without regard for the health and welfare of others! !see a staunch individualist, she would loathe the One campaign!
    So… in the name of profit, let’s forget Aids vaccinations, let’s forget debt relief. according to Rand, U2’s only moral obligation is to earn as much money as it can. The market will sort the rest out for itself. We see how that’s working out on Wall Street.
    Look, I understand that fans are upset at the accusations hurled at the band by people who don’t understand Bono’s true motives. But are those same fans cheering when they hear the 360 tour is the highest grossing in music history?
    Bono always says thank you for giving the band a great life. Doesn’t it make sense that some people wonder how much is enough? Does the tax savings mean one more yacht, one more villa getaway?
    It’s a hard argument when the Irish economy is suffering. Look, we all expect corporations to make decisions that are in the best interest of the corporation. What we don’t expect is for U2 to operate with a strictly corporate mindset. How can a band of the heart take such a hard stance on the bottom line?
    Who am I to throw stones? But these are some of the thoughts I have when I read about the situation.
    I will always believe in the band. But there are elements to the situation that make me scratch my head. I have no idea about the numbers or details or what it must be like to have all that money in today’s world.
    I just know that citing Ayn Rand to defend Bono… the man who in turn cites the Gospels and Reverend Tutu and Martin Luther King is NOT the way to go.

  • Jim May

    Bryan: if you thought I was defending Bono, you fail at basic reading comprehension… Not a surprise, given your similarly imaginative failure to grasp Rand.

    Let me spoonfeed it to you, then: I am saying to Bono and to every idiot, like you, who insists that altruism == benevolence: brother, you asked for it! It is a rebuke, not a defense.@kyle_haight It would have been funnier if it had said ”

    It is Art Uncut who are the consistent altruists here. On the charge of hypocrisy, they are on target. They know, and demonstrate, the true destination of the altruist road. Bono thought as you do, and now has the opportunity to wise up that you, sadly, squandered.

  • Benpercent

    Was U2 around when Ayn Rand was alive?

  • Katrina

    Yes. The band formed in 1976, released their first album in 1980. and AR died in 1982. Google…

  • Inspector


    We’re not Christians, so don’t worry about that. As he said, Jim is making a point about the morality in play here – altruism – and how it is making events play out.

    To wit: Ayn Rand called it long ago – despite all assurances to the contrary, altruists want sacrifice and will never be sated in this. Since you sound like you might be a rock and roll fan, I’ll quote a source that might be familiar to you, one John Fogerty: “And when you ask them, ‘How much should we give?’ Ooh, they only answer more! more! more!”

    The bottom line is, no amount of sacrifice is ever enough for altruism, and in the end it’s a monstrous morality that we have to challenge at its core, not attempt to bargain or compromise with. Because it won’t brook any bargain or compromise – it will just call for more sacrifice.