Defending Diction: Charity and Altruism

If the proponents of altruism, of death as an ultimate value, are ever to succeed in achieving their goal, it is man’s faculty of reason that they must destroy. This is no small task – the most adamant of thinkers will never condemn that which they know to be true save when compelled by force. Even then, such individuals may still violently defend their minds against said force despite the risk that doing so could lead to their own demise. After all, if they recognize death as the metaphysical end of conceding reason to force and mysticism, then dying while doing what is right could very well be of greater value to the men of the mind than languishing on in a world that despises what they stand for.

Instead, the altruists choose different, less problematic individuals as the targets of their epistemological and ultimately metaphysical distortions and evasions. These individuals are the unconscious members of society, those that live their lives with philosophies obtained through haphazard acquisition of principles rather than deliberate examination of themselves and the world around them. Generally, however, many of these individuals possess at least some connection to reality that would allow them to recognize and properly defend themselves from a full, frontal attack conducted by the altruists. In America, this sliver of reason in the minds of most individuals is dubbed “common sense,” though it often goes undefined, unquestioned, and undefended by those that claim to possess it. Nonetheless, the existence of such “common sense” is the reason that in any conflict between differing philosophical systems, the more rational side will always hold the upper hand when the principles of each side are defined clearly and openly.

Since the altruists are unable to succeed through honesty, they must resort, as stated, to distortions and evasions to gain support for their ideology and consequent policies. In order to destroy man’s faculty of reason, the altruists must attack the epistemological manifestation of man’s reason: concepts. While more concerted attacks against the validity of man’s concepts are conducted from the bastions of the Ivory Tower, simpler and more organic assaults are made by the intelligentsia and their avid, often noisy followers through the mediums of mass media and informal conversation. Under usual circumstances, they acheive their ends through ambiguity, through equivocation, or simply through the improper use of diction as a whole, but however they accomplish their tasks, the latter groups do not attempt to destroy concepts qua concepts – they act to cripple man’s words.

Words are the vessels of man’s concepts that serve the dual purposes of categorically isolating and simplifying one’s thoughts while additionally facilitating the communication of those thoughts to others. Alone, they are abstracts that represent any number of possible concretes. The word “man,” for example is applicable to every man that exists, has ever existed, and will ever exist – each unique, but each identifiable by the same word. Together, words can be linked to form sentences, bringing the entire universe within the realm of man’s understanding. Concept upon concept, abstract upon abstract, man’s knowledge expands through the expansion and proper usage of his language. To quote a recent box office hit, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

However, the quote itself demonstrates the importance of clearly defined terms when sharing concepts between individuals, let alone understanding said concepts oneself. The word “magic” in this quote does not mean that words are the source of spells, charms, or unnatural powers. Instead, words are the source of “extraordinary power or influence” such that it would seem impossible and inexplicable even though it is not. While this example was a dramatic overstatement which intentionally and fairly clearly implies more than it directly states, the same cannot be said about the continual employment of words in contexts for which they were never actually intended and for conveying meanings they were never meant to represent. These errors vitiate the words that they affect to the point that the effectiveness and meanings of the words are nearly diminished to extinction.

Since their aim is to inhibit man’s reason and eventually deny him of his liberty and life, it should come as no surprise that the altruists themselves are aware of the immense importance that destroying man’s language presents to their cause. One of the most famous altruist authors of the 20th Century, George Orwell, actually went through great lengths in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four to explain how the destruction of language permits the destruction of individual liberties under a totalitarian state (or leading toward one). In the novel, the totalitarian regime over the western empire of Oceania known as “Ingsoc” (English Socialism) or simply as “the Party” develops an entirely new language called “Newspeak” to teach children in the socialized school systems of Oceania. Newspeak was designed with one purpose in mind – the obliteration of concepts volatile to the Party’s interests from the face of the earth. Words in Newspeak are meaningless, vague, ambiguous, unclear, or simply did not allow individuals the same latitude of choice as standard English (“Oldspeak”) when forming their thoughts. This way, the Party would be able to maintain its grip over the populace by maintaining a grip over men’s minds and their formation and sharing of concepts through language. Though Orwell himself supported socialism and only intended his novel to serve as a warning about the dangers of groups with totalitarian ambitions hijacking “legitimate” revolutions for socialism (the ultimate ends of which, however, are both the same), Orwell’s novel remains one of the loudest voices for epistemological reason and the protection of man’s language and concepts in both the 20th and 21st Centuries. The admonitions of Nineteen Eighty-Four are applicable, not only to open totalitarianism, but even to the more subtle, less consistent forms of altruism that Orwell and modern Progressives support.

Two of the most widely misunderstood words in the entire English language today are often used interchangeably, particularly by altruists intending to unite their cause with the positive connotations of one word and to obscure the very real ethical threat inherent within the other. As the title of this article suggests, these two words are “charity” and “altruism.”

Presently, altruists try to pretend that their policies are actually acts of “charity” initiated on behalf of the populace for the benefit of the disadvantaged (or the “common good” or any other entity that happens to be the deity to whom the sacrificial offerings are given). Additionally, they attempt to claim that “altruism” itself is merely a healthy concern for the needs or conditions of others. Altruism, claim its supporters, is nothing more than a manifestation of human kindness and is on an equal moral plane with charity. Because of this, they claim that altrusim should be respected and practiced by all individuals – after all, who would want to appear “unfeeling?” (The word “unfeeling” and those related to it shall remain reserved for a later essay.)

If one were to take just a few moments to examine the actual meanings and origins of these words, one would discover that, in fact, there is very little similarity between charity and altruism at all. Charity, by definition, is the “voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.” In turn, a charitable action is one in which the initiator possesses some sort of benevolent desire to take part in a given form of charity without compulsion and will ultimately benefit from those actions in some way. Quite oppositely, altruism is “the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” An even more accurate definition is provided in more biological terms: “behavior of an animal that benefits another at its own expense.” When acting altruistically, an individual is, in effect and in metaphysical reality, sacrificing himself and his well-being to the good and benefit of others. The consistent practicers of altruism receive no remuneration of any kind from the actions that they initiate.

“That’s not true!” many altruists will probably object. “I enjoy the work I do! Isn’t that a benefit? Isn’t that charity?” Metaphysically, no. One’s emotions are merely responses to one’s pre-formed values based off one’s philosophical system. So, while one may psychologically enjoy acting altruistically (something that would actually be a contradiction in the altruist ethic), they are not legitimately receiving any benefit because death is still the ultimate result of their actions – no one can truly sacrifice themselves wholly each day to the benefit of someone or something else without ultimately bringing upon their own downfall. Existentially, altruism is a self-destroying doctrine.

Charity, on the other hand, is self-sustaining. Coming from the Latin “carus” meaning “dear” or “valued,” charity means that the initiator has some legitimate value in assisting others. No, this does not mean that the initiator and receiver of charitable actions trade physical commodities, quid pro quo, with one another. Instead, charitable individuals assist those who are of some value to them, neither necessarily or even usually in an economic sense. These individuals could be friends, family, or simply an individual or group of individuals that suffered an extreme misfortune through no fault of their own (such as the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan this year alone). Because of the value that charitable individuals place upon the receivers of their actions, a value which can be formed for various reasons, they desire to help as best they can. What differentiates charity from altruism is that charity is never overextended to a scale beyond which it becomes detrimental for the initiator to continue the action, and it is always voluntary. Charity, by its nature, cannot be forced.

The etymological root of “altruism,” on the other hand, is the Latin word “alter” which simply means “other.” Through this knowledge, it can be understood that the ultimate purpose of altruism is to benefit someone else – the altruist himself be damned. The only time altruism is properly practiced is if the altruist is literally sacrificing his values and himself to some entity “other” than himself. As Immanuel Kant would argue, one only gets moral credit for an altruistic action if it hurts.

“But who is truly that altruistic? No one simply chooses to sacrifice themselves to something else to the point of their own destruction.” Precisely. Altruism has never, and can never be practiced with 100% consistency lest the altruists themselves die off into extinction (perhaps that is the reason that I stress consistency in individuals of all philosophical systems). Instead, there remain those that act on principles of charity and rational self-interest that sustain the altruists through their productive abilities. These individuals, either against their will or through their silent sanction, are turned into the victims placed on the sacrificial altar of the altruist doctrine, but how is this achieved? By what process are rational egoists metamorphosed into self-destroying altruists?

As alluded to briefly at the beginning of this article, the answer is force. When altruists convince enough individuals in a society with a representative government that voting for altruistic policies is, in fact, an act of charity, they are able to use government force to coerce the remaining productive members of society to offer up their abilities and the products of those abilities to the “noble cause” of the altruist doctrine. The individuals that originally gave their sanction to altruistic political policies become equally enslaved through the policies that they helped spawn. What originally began as mere ambiguity in terms transformed into the barrel of a gun – what was once an epistemological attack against man’s mind became a physical one against his liberty.

At that point, the options through which altruists can compel others to give up their life, liberty, and property to something “other” than the personal values of those individuals are numerous: taxation, regulation, special assistance for competitors with political clout, censorship, compulsive military service, denial of justice, etc. Whether through a thousand paper cuts and rights abuses or through a direct attack on an individual’s life, the ultimate result of these policies remains unchanged – death.

For these reasons, language and the validity of man’s concepts must be ardently defended by all those who are aware of the importance of maintaining liberty and preventing regulative slavery, who recognize the extreme metaphysical divide between the concepts of “charity” and “altruism,” and who hold life, not death, as the only existential end in itself in the whole of reality. Man’s reason is the greatest shield against the onslaught of both mysticism and force, and man’s reason is the light which will guide all free men and women from the darkness of altruism.

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