The New Clarion

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Duty to Die

July 10th, 2015 by Bill Brown · 16 Comments · Culture

There was a brutal murder this past weekend in Washington, D.C. A thug tried to steal a young adult’s cell phone and then knocked him to the floor in the struggle. Once on the ground, the thief proceeded to stab the victim 30 or 40 times all over his body. Finally, he came back to the corpse and stomped on it a bit

The other passengers in the train car watched in horror, afraid for their lives. They didn’t try to save the victim and they mostly tried to end the train ride alive. According to Ayn Rand in her excellent essay entitled “The Ethics of Emergencies” from The Virtue of Selfishness:

A rational man does nor forget that life is the source of all values and, as such, a common bond among living beings (as against inanimate matter), that other men are potentially able to achieve the same virtues as his own and thus be of enormous value to him. This does not mean that he regards human lives as interchangeable with his own. He recognizes the fact that his own life is the source, not only of all his values, but of his capacity to value. Therefore, the value he grants to others is only a consequence, an extension, a secondary projection of the primary value which is himself.

In the Objectivist ethics, you help (or, more significantly, save) a stranger when doing so doesn’t jeopardize your life. This was an extreme example of “lifeboat ethics” and anyone who tried to stop the murderer was putting his or her own life on the line. It is perfectly moral to not have risked your life in that situation.

But, amazingly, some don’t see it that way. The Federalist condemns the other passengers as “beta males” and “men without chests” in an appalling display of armchair machismo. The kicker, for me, is when the author indicates that their behavior is a great example of “callous and unthinking selfishness.”

The point of Ayn Rand’s essay is that morality is not defined by what one would do in an “oncoming bus” scenario. Those are not common occurrences and morality is ostensibly a guide to life. So the actions of anyone riding that train don’t really speak to their morality.

But if a random group of Americans on a random train on a random day values their lives such that they shirk the common altruist duty of sacrificing themselves for a stranger, perhaps selfishness hasn’t been extinguished from the American sense of life.

16 Comments so far ↓

  • Bill Brown

    And from a practical standpoint, I don’t think it’s safe to approach someone insane enough to stab a guy 30-40 times. This isn’t some purse snatcher: I’d assume he was strung out on something.

  • Mark Shultis

    If the other passengers hadn’t been disarmed by law maybe something could have been done. Dangerous laws against law abiding citizens.

  • Bill Brown

    That’s a good point: bringing a gun to a knife-fight certainly changes the odds.

    I thought Heller ended DC’s restrictive gun laws.

  • 10x10

    The “savage” was a black male. The “young adult” was a Leftist who fervently believed in “white privilege” and that blacks are subject to white oppression. He was repaid for his “anti-racist” sentiments.

    The point of this blog post has merit; ie rejecting a duty to help others especially when it would cost you your life. However, typical of Objectivists, you miss the deeper more important point; the enormous savagery of the feral black underclass and the magnitude of black crime. Cities like DC, Baltimore, Detroit are going to be America’s future as it becomes browner.

    We are not getting any multi-racial society united under ethical egoism and individual rights as Rand conceived of those things. We are getting a multi-ethnic state ruled by Leftists and becoming increasing hostile to whites.

    That’s the point that Randians never mention or address.

  • Romello Dellomand

    Maybe one of these days, Objectivists will dare to report on the Black Intifada or Muslim crime in Europe.

    One prominent Objectivist believes (or claims to believe) that Islamic immigration reduces crime and is making Europe a better place to live.

  • 10x10


    Please point me to that Objectivist’s views. Is it Biddle or Binswanger? I will force myself to read the essay and then fight off vomiting.

  • Romello Dellomand


    I should have spoken more carefully.

    My reference was to Binswanger. He said that immigrants to the US commit crime at a lower rate than the natives and that they “refresh” our society

    I don’t see why he wouldn’t maintain the same thing about Islamic immigrants into Europe based on his idea that people move from poorer to countries to improve their standard of living and they are “self-selected” for their virtues.

    The essay in question is “For Open Immigration,” which is available on Harry’s web site.

    I and others have repeatedly asked Binswanger his opinion on Muslim immigration to Europe, without a response. I can only assume that he believes the answer is so self-evident that it doesn’t deserve a response.


  • Romello Dellomand

    In 2014, Craig Biddle’s blog at the “Objective Standard” posted an article by Ari Armstrong which called for open immigration of Muslims.


    I posted a comment asking Biddle/Armstrong what they thought of Muslim immigration into Europe and if they thought turning Europe Islamic by open immigration would be good or bad.

    My comment was deleted and I was banned.


  • Bill Brown

    Sorry, I was on vacation this last week and a half so I didn’t have a chance to respond to these comments.

    The “deeper more important point” is noxious racism on your part. There’s a reason Objectivists don’t speak to it: it’s an irrational premise.

    The fact that the criminal in this post was black or the victim was white is neither here nor there, except insofar as it is a factual statement. Their races made neither one more likely to be the victim or perpetrator of the crime.

    The Muslim comments are off topic and I’d encourage you to please try to stick to the subject of the post. If you want to discuss that, start your own forum somewhere or wait for us to bring it up.

  • Romello Dellomand

    “Their races made neither one more likely to be the victim or perpetrator of the crime.”

    Not true, since blacks commit violent crime at a rate 7 or 8 times that of whites.


  • 10x10

    “Their races made neither one more likely to be the victim or perpetrator of the crime.”

    Do you know how ignorant a statement this is? Are you not aware of the IQ differences between the races, the differences in brain mass, the differences in testosterone levels, the r/k sexual selection differences, the crime data, etc, etc, etc. Blacks males are 7% of the US population. They commit nearly 45% of the violent crime. That means nothing to you!!

    And why do you think all this is? Why do Asians and Europeans have bigger brains, higher IQs, different sexual temperaments, etc? Because of the selection pressures of Northern climates and the effects they had on the sub-species that evolved in them. Oh yeah, there is that little thing called science. But oh yeah, Objectivsts are pro-science. Ok.

    Being aware of the biologic differences between population groups and the effects that has on culture and behavior patterns is not “racist”. Well it is if you are a Leftist. Are Objectivists the new racists? On some topics you are indistinguishable from Leftists. And I say this as someone who likes Rand.

  • 10x10

    correction: “Are Objectivists the new Leftists.”

    The Left calls everyone that brings up racial differences as racist. That is the inevitable outgrowth of their rancid egalitarianism. But what I see from Objectivists is that there is a latent egalitarianism in Rands system. It is becoming obvious as the country is suffering from the ill effects of the racial and gender socialism that we have coupled with an increasing non-white population.

    Objectivsts don’t see the war on white, heterosexual, non-liberal males by the Left and they don’t see the massive violence being committed against whites by NAMs (non Asian minorities). They don’t see that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is playing out in a way that Rand could never have foreseen in the 4os and 50s; a racial war against white conservatives being conducted by white liberals and their client groups.

    Its a shame. Rand offered good philosophic tools. But Objectivists don’t use them and as such are some of the most “blue pill” deluded fools out there. Almost as bad as mainstream Conservatives. Bill Brown’s ignorant views on race and crime are an example.

    But then again, Bill Brown is someone who adopted a black African child. So I wonder how rational and reality oriented he could ever be on race.

  • Bill Brown

    Do you know how ignorant a statement this is? Are you not aware of the IQ differences between the races, the differences in brain mass, the differences in testosterone levels, the r/k sexual selection differences, the crime data, etc, etc, etc.

    I know these things: 1) there are purported differences between population groups around the world in some physiological characteristics, 2) there is variation within those same population groups that creates a range on any of those characteristics, 3) the ability to compare the median of these ranges across population groups is virtually impossible, 4) membership in a collective does not tell you anything definitive about a particular individual, 5) all humans have free will, 6) the government has introduced policies over the years that have distorted the options available to any person, and 6) there is a disgusting narrative long present in American history of smearing black people as inferiors, “sub-species,” or savages.

    But then again, Bill Brown is someone who adopted a black African child. So I wonder how rational and reality oriented he could ever be on race.

    Leave my son out of this. I will delete any future comment from you on this subject without hesitation. My views on race predated his adoption by decades and were formed in high school before I’d ever even considered the idea of some day being a father.

  • Romello Dellomand

    A society where white parents are afraid to tell their daughters that they should not have a healthy fear of black men is not long for the world.


  • 10x10

    Bill, your answers are laughable and would be destroyed by any non-leftist biologist or social scientist. Groups have properties. Your conception of humanity is atomistic. And your view of free will is simplistic; ie blank slate nonsense.

    As for blacks being subjected to racist prejudice, that is true but there is a context to it. One blacks as a group are lower in IQ ( significantly), and more violent (as is the case with pretty much all darker skin animals). The Jim Crow era was a not unrealistic attempt by whites to protect their communities and their daughters from black predatory crime. Integrating blacks into a European society would have been a challenge under any circumstances, even a more libertarian order. I do not hold it against the pre-1960s white establishment for segregation and Jim Crow. Look at the violence of blacks since then. Look at Detroit, Baltimore, pretty much every majority black city. Look at South Africa. Yes, free markets would mitigate the problems, but nothing short of genetic engineering will change black biology. Even today’s most successful blacks have white admixture; ie the “talented tenth”.

    As for your view that race does not tell you anything, that’s just crap epistemology. Race is an attribute of an individual, or are you a social constructivist? If I know a person is black then I know that he belongs to a group that has an entire list of properties, many of them very negative. Those are facts of reality. Your view that groups don’t have properties and are therefore an illegitimate concept for evaluative purposes is a mistake that is rampant with Randians.

    Your philosophy is suicidal if you take it seriously. As Romello wrote above, not teaching your daughters to appreciate the violent tendencies of black men is tantamount to child abuse. You are contributing to the Leftist social environment which has created a manufacturing line for the rape of white women.

    Why do you think that present day Stockholm is the rape capital of Europe. But before importing blacks and Arabs, the same semi-socialist society had limited if any rape? And you say that race is irrelevant.

    I like Rand as I keep saying. She is the reason that I am not a Leftist. And I owe her a debt of gratitude for that because I would rather be dead than a Leftist. But as much as I love free market thought, when I read the type of ignorance on race and biology that comes from Objectivists I see that Objectivism has no future, nor does standard libertarianism.

    The future is looking to be one where race may be the MOST important social issue. What do you think is going to happen when whites become a minority in America? Show me one brown or black society that is pro-liberty. Read the history of the Latin world and count how many socialist movements you find. Race and sex realism, ie bio-realism, will have to be incorporated into pro-liberty thought if that movement is to have any future.

  • Bill Brown

    I’d say your views are laughable if they weren’t so repellent. Everything you and Romello have said is assertion, and none of it is any more advanced or nuanced than the racists I’ve encountered in my life.

    I’ve given you a chance to air your opinions untouched. But I am not interested in this becoming a forum for racists so you are on notice that I will not promote your views any longer.

    You’re welcome to comment on politics, culture, philosophy or whatnot. But if you venture into race (and you will), I will delete your comments. I don’t like editing people’s words so I’ll just delete them wholesale. If that means you don’t comment here, I’m prepared to take that hit.

    Get your own blog, host your own forum, attract your own audience.