The Rational Egoist

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The Virtue of CrossFit

I’m a student of philosophy. That’s pretty easy within the confines of a university, but I try to apply it throughout. This means that I try to apply my reason to events, people and other phenomena I encounter. When something doesn’t sit right with me, I try to take the time to understand why.  As a student of philosophy, I’m lucky to be able to ask “why?” more often than most, and so far that endeavor has been to my benefit.

A rather fluffy intro, so let me give you some meat to go with that salad. My dad tried everything to get me to participate in every single sport at school, from cricket to rugby to athletics to hockey to swimming… you get the idea, right? I enjoyed athletics and rugby, and cricket until high-school, but it was always more of a chore than a pleasure – I never really played for the love of any particular sport. I tried to stay involved in athletics when I got to university, but it’s not very big there and I had shin splints on and off for about 4, 5 years. The crucial point regarding my non-participation was the fact that I’d never decided to do it, for myself. I know a lot of great sportspeople, and those who just do it casually, who do it for family members, partners or someone else, but regardless of whom or what the object might be, the person doing the sport decided for him- or herself that s/he wants to do it. One does these things for selfish reasons, and by selfish I mean you find things you identify with, things which represent what you value, and then you decide how best to achieve or honor it.

Before I get too philosophical again, let me start talking about CrossFit. I broke my arm playing rugby in 2012 and thus I put that on the back-burner for a while. I hadn’t participated in athletics for a few years so I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t really feel like getting back into it because of my shin splints. However, a friend of mine, Mike, told me about a guy living in town who did his own fitness-program in his backyard – no gym fees, no ogling spectators, none of that flashy stuff. Just a pull-up bar, tires, dips-bars, a punching bag and some cinder-blocks to use as weights. I decided to tag along, if only to see how unfit I was (in that regard I definitely received a shock to my flabby system). To be quite honest, the first few sessions beat the puff out of me, and it wasn’t CrossFit in the strictest sense. The dynamic, functional exercises were there though, and man did I enjoy it. Getting through each workout really felt like an achievement, and the whole thing seemed to fit in quite well with the athletics program I’d started with. I managed to find a great physio in town, who used acupuncture to help me with my shin splints. The treatment really helped but the pain would come back once a week or so. I really think having shin splints is to experience one of the worst pains known to man, and it’s definitely worse than breaking my arm had felt. Why did I keep on training, any rational person would ask. Well, it’s not for any fairy-tale reason, I can tell you that much. I didn’t want to show the pain who was boss, I didn’t want to impress anyone, I didn’t want to qualify for my province or anything like that; I just wanted to run, and run fast.

I’m an Objectivist in that I believe we have talents and skills for a reason, and that reason is to use those abilities, to utilize them as we see fit, to increase our happiness and to help us flourish. The fact that I can run fast gives me such unrestrained pleasure that I get choked up just writing about it. So, to state it as simply as possible, I just kept on running because it gave me the greatest pleasure. As I started to lose the unnecessary weight I was less constrained by shin splints, and my time kept dropping so that factor eventually came into play. I still haven’t run under 11sec in the 100m, but right now it’s just about doing the work day to day and enjoying it.

Now you might wonder how the ‘Virtue of CrossFit’ fits into all this, so allow me to expound on exactly that. CrossFit is growing faster than anyone could ever have imagined, and I know there are those who bring up Uncle Rabdo and the fact that they see the whole thing as a cult. Well, what is CrossFit’s ‘mantra,’ if you will? Functional, all-round fitness. It’s about being better equipped and enabled to tackle life, regardless of whether you’re an aspiring professional athlete or a businessman or a grade 8 pupil just starting high-school, the discipline, passion and general enthusiasm which comes with doing CrossFit will only be good for you. Once you start to listen to your body, you’ll know when it’s time to take a day off or scale your training back a bit – as with anything you do in life, you need to listen and decide for yourself what you’re going to do. Accredited CrossFit boxes are accredited for a reason – that reason being the fact that the coaches have done the necessary courses – but if you find yourself clashing with a coach, find a different box. It’d probably be better to try a few workouts on your own, just so you can feel your way into the whole thing. I know that one easily get caught up in the whole thing, but keep in mind that you’re incredibly unique and what works for someone else might be wrong for you. For example, 3-time CrossFit Games champ Rich Froning says that he rocks up at the gym and just does what he feels like. Of course he trains like a machine, but he had to work incredibly hard to get there.

I’d never put much store in eating better, in exercising a lot and that whole lifestyle – it was just something which other dedicated, disciplined people did and, being an Objectivist, I want my own reason(s) for doing something, not having it forced on me or doing it to please someone else. However, as I got more and more into athletics and doing ‘CrossFit’ workouts on my own, in my dorm room, exercising just became something which I needed to do every single day. I can come up with some highly motivating, peppy, cliched version of my story in which I immediately cut-out all the ‘bad’ food, started measuring my weight every day, drawing up a list of goals and deadlines and all that, but the truth, the black and white truth, was this: it was bloody hard. I love sweets; milk chocolate, chocolate mousse cake, peppermint crisp tart, chips etc, and I still eat those. Now though, it’s more a treat, not because I feel I have to punish myself by eating lean meats and vegetables and such, but because I want to reward my body and myself, day in and day out. Of course around Christmas time and New Year’s people like to relax and just eat what they want, which I think is also fine, as long as you put in the hard work before and after. I think the whole CrossFit way of living is what will allow me to flourish as a human being, and that, to me, is the ultimate virtue.

Now for the thrilling denouement. If you’re the kind of person who likes everything set-out and planned well in advance, use that method. However you want to go about getting fit(ter), you decide. Not your parents or your significant other or a dietitian or some government bureaucrat; you have to find your own reasons for what you do and how you live. Try not get too caught up in the whole ‘new year,’ fresh start, sweep everything away phase of the year. The only way you’re going to enjoy getting fit(ter) is when you accept which weaknesses you have, but more importantly, what your strengths are and how’re you can use them going forward. I’m not trying to convince you that CrossFit is some miracle quick fix – it’s tough, but you’ll love it. I’m at the point where I can train twice a day, and that’s after about a year. To wrap it all up, go out and try a few workouts. Do them at home, and if you aren’t sure about technique and such, ask a coach or someone whom might be experienced in the field. Try and keep in mind that CrossFit is swimming, running, cycling, weights – all that and more. Finally, I wish to thank my athletics coach, Antonio, for being an inspiration bar none, and Marion and Mary, owners of CrossFit Double Platinum, who welcomed me into their box and have guided me on the path to actually using weights for the first time in my life.  After all that, I simply want to tell you to go out there and have fun – that’s what CrossFit is all about! Oorah!

Tax the rich! Forward! For the people!

“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” — George Orwell

What’s the best way to recoup the taxes which the majority of people don’t pay? Ah, well, the obvious answer, if you’re a modern day statist (socialist, communist, fascist – take your pick), is that increasing the price of, and levy on, petrol, will be the most effective way of recouping said taxes. Of course punishing those who did pay taxes in the first place is merely a side issue. There’s probably no point in arguing over this issue; we live in a modern, progressive, liberal democracy and the state may do as she pleases (or he, I don’t know, choose whichever gender takes your fancy.)

Spend spend spend! From America to Australia, modern governments have adopted the view that spending more will solve all of the world’s economic problems. The children and grandchildren of those alive today are going to have to pay their debt which people are racking up now (the US debt is now $16.6 trillion and growing), but those of a more liberal persuasion don’t seem to be too worried, as long as teenagers can get free contraceptives and we stop warming the environment (or cooling it – I’m not sure which one is ‘accepted’ nowadays.)

Most hardcore libertarians are against taxes qua taxes, but I do believe that one should pay for services which one uses. The problem arises when government overreaches the limits of the constitution and in so doing the rights of individuals are infringed upon. By the by, I’m talking about rights here, not needs; property rights, the right to keep what one earns and the right to defend your family, not the need of ‘free’ healthcare, free contraceptives, free phones and all that good stuff. Those who believe that all economic ‘inequalities’ will be solved by increasing taxes on the “rich” miss a crucial point: those evil rich capitalists are the ones employing people, making money and employing people, not mooching off of others. Once you kill the ethic of hard work, of entrepreneurship and enterprise, the right of the individual to make money and spend is as he sees fit, you’re going to undermine the very utopia which you’re trying to build. Morality ends where a gun begins: once you use force to take the possessions of others, you lose all moral credibility which you might have had before – forcing irrationally high taxes on the ‘rich’ is immoral, and it will backfire.

All of the socialist anti-rich talk seems to miss quite a lot about the “average” man (I put “rich” and “average” in inverted commas because such terms are part of Marxist/socialist mentality and are used to create resentment between “classes” in society.) People in less-developed countries are living much better lives because they and their societies are engaged in the free market – sure, it’s not the ideal laissez-faire free market, but it’s better than nothing. Individuals are free to do what they want with their money, as they see fit – it’s the moral system. Going to the supermarket to buy food is the choice of the individual – the fact that we have so much choice is indicative of the fact that capitalism has been embraced by the people – whether they despise capitalism or not. The college professors who go on and on about the evils of capitalism are the same people who buy food at Pick ‘n Pay and who drive cars built by private companies. Those of the Marxist/socialist view seem to think that we need to be controlled and told what to spend our money on, because we are too stupid as individuals to live our lives as best we can, with all that entails. Wanting to control each individual in society in such a precise manner reeks of dictatorship.

One of the favourite phrases of those on the left is “social justice” – if you or your organization is for social justice, you are for goodness, and all those who don’t stand with you are in favor of evil. F. A. Hayek identified justice in the classical sense as a particular action of persons. “Only situations that have been created by human will can be called just or unjust … Social justice,” Hayek concludes, ” does not belong to the category of effort but that of nonsense, like the term ‘a moral stone.'” Justice creates a claim on others. So who is being unjust? The employers who cannot afford more workers? The consumers who refuse to create enough demand to justify more workers? The government for not taxing innocent parties to pay for labor that isn’t needed and that they did not vote for? “Social justice” assumes rights – social rights, economic rights etc. – that cannot be enforced. It makes no sense to speak of social justice in a free society, because to do so assumes that we should not in fact live in a free society. There are no limiting principles to “social justice.” It is an open-ended license for the forces of ‘goodness’ to do what they think is right forever. There are no boundaries, no internal checks, no definitional roadblocks. Look out for the “social justice” enforcers.

Molon labe.

Statists gonna state

President Obama has now stepped up his reshaping of America. Yesterday, after talking at length about how he will solve the “gun violence” problem (note,  the phrase “gun control” has been replaced by “gun violence”, just as “global warming” has been replaced by “climate change”), Obama proceeded to remind Americans that they have responsibilities. You know, the nation which gives the most to other countries in foreign aid, which gave the Soviet Union material resources to fight the Nazis, which fought against the Japanese in the Pacific and sent troops to fight the Nazis in Europe in order to ensure freedom for the whole world – that America needs to be reminded that its citizens have lost touch with their responsibilities and they need an imperial president par none to lead them. The new measures proposed by Obama to curb “gun violence” will add more bureaucratic red tape to the legal purchasing of a firearm and is squarely aimed at already responsible gun owners and citizens. Turns out those “religious right-wing gun nuts” might’ve been correct about soft tyranny after all.

Over the past year, America has been rocked by a number of violent tragedies involving firearms. It is understandable that in the wake of such tragedies, Americans are deeply saddened and not only want to know why these things happen, but also what can be done to keep them from happening again. Sadly though the usual response from liberal commentators such as MSNBC’s Ed Schultz and big government proponents like Obama is that Americans are simply too free. The Constitution, the country’s legal backbone, is said to be too “archaic.” Of course only the 2nd Amendment, which protects one’s right to keep and bear arms, is seen as archaic. The 1st Amendment, which protects free speech, is sacrosanct when one wishes to criticize Republicans or Christians but if people criticize Obama they should be banned from public discussion and taken off the air.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Ayn Rand once said that, “the right to life is the source of all rights – and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life.” (The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 29) If property is essential to man’s survival, then so is the ability to protect and preserve that property – our lives, our homes and all other possessions. In order to do so, people must have the freedom to equip themselves with the appropriate tools for the job – what gives government the right to take away the basic human rights of the majority of responsible Americans because of the actions of one or two mentally unstable individuals? There are, quite simply, bad people who do bad things: homes are broken into, cars are stolen, people are murdered, and often times the perpetrators are armed, even in areas with very strict gun control laws, areas such as Chicago and Connecticut. Guess what? Criminals don’t care about laws and rules! If someone is hell bent on killing a bunch of people he will do it with a knife, explosives or even his bare hands if it comes down to it. The Fort Hood shooting took place on November 5, 2009 at Fort Hood, the most populous U.S. military installation in the world, located just outside Killeen, Texas.In the course of the shooting, a single gunman killed 13 people and wounded 29 others. With all that military and government control one would’ve thought such a thing would never have happened. Maybe he used an “assault” rifle? Nope, he used one FN Five-seven semi-automatic pistol. How about the 2011 Norway attacks? You know, Norway, a model country of socialism, equal prosperity for all, and fantastic gun control laws? Well, the convicted murderer Anders Breivik decided to obtain a semi-automatic rifle and a Glock pistol legally in Norway, noting that he had a “clean criminal record, hunting license, and two guns (a Benelli Nova 12 gauge Pump-action shotgun and a .308 Bolt-action rifle) already for seven years”, and that obtaining the guns legally should therefore not be a problem. Most acts of “gun violence” are perpetrated by individuals using pistols, not “assault” rifles. (Do yourself a favour and go here to learn more) Thus I really do not see how the banning of certain rifles, which simply look military-esque but actually fire one bullet just like rifles which look ‘normal,’ and the banning of “high capacity” magazines (people can simply purchase more magazines then), will help to curb “gun violence.”

Obama also stated that citizens who wish to purchase a firearm will be subject to an extensive background check and they will have to fill out a lot of paperwork in order to obtain a firearm – because, you know, even criminals or the mentally unstable will state that they want to use the weapon for mass murder on a government form. Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who recently murdered 27 people, including 20 children, committed the atrocity with his mother’s legally purchased and registered Bushmaster XM-15, which is, yeah you guessed it, a semi-automatic rifle. (Just a reminder, semi-automatic means that it fires one bullet every time the trigger is pulled.) Anyway, it’s not Adam Lanza that’s guilty – it’s society and all the responsible gun owners and gun users.

Typically, it is the areas with the most restrictions on guns and the greatest government presence that actually have the highest crime rates. Across the US it is the cities that have the worst violence that also have the most laws against gun ownership, the most government surveillance and the strongest concentration of law enforcement officers. Protecting citizens from force is the entire point of government. If restrictions on private gun ownership and a state monopoly on arms cannot adequately protect the innocent, citizens must be allowed to do so themselves rather than hoping that dialing 911 will resolve a crisis in which every second counts.

Of course liberal Hollywood’s glorification of violence wasn’t mentioned once in Obama’s proposals, nor was the issue of mental illness. The proposals are perfectly in line with the big government statism which Obama embodies but he will not succeed in taking away people’s right to defend themselves.

Semper Fi

Toeing the party line

Mired in the worst recovery since the Great Depression, with unemployment near 8 percent, companies laying off workers over Obamacare, a $16 trillion debt and gasoline at double the 2008 price, America still re-elected Barack Obama. Being at a liberal university such as Rhodes one becomes accustomed to hearing all about how great Obama is, how he is moving America ‘forward’ – when one asks these ardent Obama supporters why he is so great, the answers boil down to the fact that he is honest , likeable and ‘progressive’ – apparently. The Obama re-election is a primary case of cult leadership and the desire for a ‘good’ image to look to, not of a concern for substance.

People often cite the fact that Obama publicly stated that he supporters gay marriage – well, I’ve got news for you: he will jettison that support as soon as he can, because it has outlived its usefulness. Last Friday, Obama told an MTV audience that he would not fight for gay marriage his second term, intoning that “it would be up to future generations of Americans to implement meaningful reform.” Here’s the kicker: realizing that some states are now endorsing gay marriage, Obama suddenly became a champion of states’ rights, asserting, “For us to try to legislate federally into this area is probably the wrong way to go.” When the states endorse Obama’s positions, he’s a states’ rights guy. When they don’t, he rolls over them with the power of the federal government. In May he raked in huge amounts of funding from the gay community and their supporters in May when he endorsed gay marriage. But before that time he had been flip-flopping on the issue, vacillating wildly to reach whichever position was politically advantageous at the time. In 1996, as a state senator in Illinois he supported gay marriage. Yet in 2004, when he ran for the United States Senate, he was against it, saying: “What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman … What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and it’s not simply the two persons who are meeting.” The absolute fickleness of the man should astound everyone, but no one will talk about his flip-flopping thus the image of the ‘Great Leader’ remains untouched.

As much as I’d love to point out more and more flaws in Obama’s rhetoric and record, he is simply the embodiment of a larger problem. As I mentioned in my previous post, the American spirit, or character, appears to be changing, and it is now swinging towards safety instead of liberty and dependence instead of independence. The Republican message of free enterprise, self-reliance and individual initiative is a harder sell than the Democratic message of “Let the government take care of you” – despite the overwhelming evidence of history. All these liberals who go on and on about the Republicans’ ‘war on women’ should take a look at history: capitalism, the system which conservative Republicans defend and champion, enabled individuals, men and women, to pursue their own paths in life. Economic freedom freed countless more women than socialism ever did – hell, socialism, when taken to its logical conclusion in communism, killed 100 million people, men and women, over the last 100 years, in Russia, China and North Korea – but let’s not talk about that, let’s go on and on about how oppressive the West is, even when the vast majority of people in our own country elected the most upstanding moral leader, Jacob Zuma. If people really think that womens’ rights boil down to access to free contraceptives and free abortion services then they really need to question their own level of intelligence. I don’t want to get into the moral depravity of today’s culture right now, but how dare people presume that Catholic institutions in the States have to provide free abortion services? Haven’t you ever heard of the separation of church and state? When Christians get involved in politics and government and impose their view on others they are roundly shouted down, but woe betide those who argue against the state imposing its will on the church – besides, religious believers are all backward and need to move with the times, right? Well, take the times with you, because the way this world is going I don’t want to be part of those times. So ladies, don’t worry, government will take care of you and provide for all your needs, which according to the Democrats and liberals boils down to your lady parts.

On the subject of abortion and the hypocrisy of the left, CBS News contributor Nancy Giles believes that white people don’t like abortion because they are trying to “build up the race.” Read what she said over the weekend on MSNBC when discussing 2012 election voting demographics, “It’s been weird to watch white people report on this. You know when you just showed that graph of the decline in the numbers,” she continued, “I thought, ‘Maybe that’s why they’re trying to eliminate all these abortions and stuff. They’re trying to build up the race. How creepy.” Let me point to the real eugenicists over at abortion giant Planned Parenthood, an organization the left, including Giles, strongly supports. Giles, who focuses her attention on “white people” who are against abortion because they want to “build up their race,” is clearly ignorant about why Planned Parenthood was founded in the first place. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger believed in using abortion to rid the world of the “unfit.” In Sanger’s world, the unfit included blacks and she hoped they would be eliminated with the help of her organization. As she wrote in her autobiography, Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in 1916 “to stop the multiplication of the unfit.” This, she boasted, would be “the most important and greatest step towards race betterment.” While she oversaw the mass murder of black babies, Sanger cynically recruited minority activists to front her death racket. She conspired with eugenics financier and businessman Clarence Gamble to “hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities” to sell their genocidal policies as community health and welfare services. Outright murder wouldn’t sell. But wrapping it under the egalitarian cloak of “women’s health” – and adorning it with the moral authority of black churches – would. Speaking with CBS veteran journalist Mike Wallace in 1957, long after her racist views had supposedly mellowed, Sanger again revealed her true colors: “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world — that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin — that people can — can commit.” People tell me Republicans and conservatives are cruel and backward? Right. Planned Parenthood receives $500 million from the government each year and funded millions of dollars worth of advertisements this year to get Barack Obama reelected. Sanger’s dream is coming true today as Planned Parenthood clinics are purposely placed in minority neighborhoods to target pregnant women.

Big government, embodied in the policies of Barack Obama, is the real threat to people’s freedom and independence, but the rhetoric of the left masks their true intention – power and control. Obama’s crushing policies and big government plans do not distinguish between men and women, white and black – everyone will suffer.

Keep your eyes open, especially those among you who watch the liberal media without question. After all, we are all supposed to be uber-tolerant of all views, so why not at least think about what I have to say? If you don’t, watch out – you might just offend me and then the world will end.

Finally, I salute the veterans of the United States Army, Navy and Airforce who have fought and died to protect the liberty of Americans and of those in freer countries around the world. Thank you to the men and women who have stepped up – I am eternally grateful.

“As government expands, liberty contracts.” ― Ronald Reagan

So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause

The Star Wars fans among you will recognize the quote above – the words of Senator Padmé Amidala, as Chancellor Palpatine takes control of the Republic. Of course he does so for the good of the people, to ensure lasting security for all. At this moment in time, in the life of the United States of America, this quote applies to her more poignantly than ever before.

Barack Obama has been re-elected as President of the US – 4 more years. The Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, put up a good fight but at the end of the day he had alienated too many less conservative people who might’ve been leaning Republican heading into Tuesday’s election. Obama’s re-election truly astounds me — perhaps the liberal media has done a better job than most thought of covering up Obama’s abysmal job-creation record? Or perhaps the enticement of a free phone proved to be too strong for some to resist? How on earth did the majority of Americans convince themselves to vote for the incumbent? With US unemployment still at 8%, and real unemployment much higher; with 43 million Americans on food stamps; with a $16 trillion debt, credit ratings tumbling and economic growth sluggish, what was it that clinched the deal for Obama? Some of the blame can rest on Romney and Ryan’s shoulders — even though Romney did very well in the presidential debates, most notably the first one. I believe that the true answer runs much deeper though — perhaps America has changed.

America is no longer a nation of rugged individualists, of fiercely independent men and women. It is now a nation that would not be out of place in Europe – a welfare state, a state with the firm hand of government directing its peoples lives. Not great anymore, but good, or rather, good enough. Has America reached a tipping point, where there are simply more takers than there are makers — and the party that casts itself so clearly with those on welfare and food stamps and hand-outs can count on the support of its clients to continue to tax and regulate the industrious class? Obama has successfully managed to instill his Marxist, class rhetoric into the people — not since the days of the Great Depression has an election been so coloured with the empty rhetoric of class warfare and outright envy. Heck, Obama even told his supporters at rallies that voting is the best form of “vengeance” – vengeance against those who so arrogantly choose hard work over welfare, perhaps.

The economic problems which will result from 8 years of Obama’s policies can be healed — Ronald Reagan managed it, and so did Margaret Thatcher. My greatest worry is that the American identity will have fundamentally changed by then — that it will simply not want to come back from Obama’s big government mentality, that it will prefer the soft mediocrity of regulation and taxation to the bracing risks of freedom; ‘Live Free’ will be replaced by ‘Free Stuff’.

Maybe Obama will reach across the isle and work with Republicans this time around — only time can tell. But if his record is anything to go by, that will not be the case. This time though, he can’t blame all his failures on George W. Bush.

The All Blacks: A Polemic

Weeks come and go, and so does the work we have to do at Varsity. Exams are upon us – quite a lot of people have already started writing. The exam period can be extremely stressful and demanding, so much so that people lose themselves in their work as they attempt to get that ideal result to further their respective futures. Naturally, students look for outlets for all the exam stress, some outlets being more colorful than others. That’s a discussion for another time. Today, I want to focus on my particular outlet – one which is constant, year in and year out, has always been there for me and forms part of my uniquely interesting personality: the All Blacks.

If one looks at it through the narrow prism of blind nationalism and of supporting a team or country simply because one was born in that country, one will judge me as being quite irrational in my support of the All Blacks. I wonder where we would be today if people didn’t question the majority and tried to look to the horizon. Let’s get one thing straight here: South Africa is a wonderful country. We are relatively free, despite the constant machinations of the communist ANC – need I remind everyone that it is solely thanks to them that this country was freed from Apartheid. No one else played a part, and don’t you dare disagree because then you are, of course, a racist. This country is a miracle and it is a wonder that it has not followed the constant stream of African countries into civil war, tribal divisions and continual dictorships. I will not stand in anyone’s way if they tell me they love this country and will fight for it – that is their birthright. However, that does not mean that I have to love it.  Where would we be if the majority was the only yardstick by which people acted?

I am not sure what the Springboks are nowadays. There are so many symbols adorning the Green & Gold jersey, the most striking of which is the fact that the Protea has replaced the Springbok over the heart of the jersey. Moreover, the Springbok was relegated to the sleeve during last year’s World Cup. Where is the respect for tradition, the pride? It astounds me that the people of this country allowed that to happen. Or perhaps they aren’t the Springboks anymore, but rather something new in the making? I cannot speak for those people, but I can give you my story. I will take tradition and a proven pedigree over commercialism and political correctness any day of the week. The reason that I have fallen in love with the All Blacks – a team which makes my heart pound with love and pride, as though they are my brothers – goes far beyond blind geographic parochialism. Sport is deeply personal. It offers us something else that can easily go missing in the 21st century – a social glue, a connective fabric that spans around the world, cutting across time and space. Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw, two of the greatest rugby players to ever play the game, re-signed with the NZRU not because of money, but because of their love of the Black jersey. During last year’s World Cup in New Zealand McCaw, the first player to earn his Silver cap for 100 games played for the All Blacks, played all of the matches with a screw in his foot. After 24 years of continued disappointment at World Cups, despite being the best team on the planet year in and year out, McCaw captained his team to World Cup glory. This after Dan Carter, the best fly-half to grace the game, was ruled out of the business end of the tournament. I still remember being up at about 3 AM that morning when the news broke that Carter had injured himself during training and was out of the tournament. I cannot do justice to my emotions at that time. Anyone who knows rugby knows how desperately the All Blacks wanted and needed to win that World Cup last year. The point is though, that this team never gives up. In 2010, they came to Soccer City, host to 94 000 passionate, vuvuzela-blowing  South Africans, and they won in the last minute thanks to an Israel Dagg try. Richie McCaw and his glorious men in Black did the unbelievable in 2011.

Relationships, bad ones, have come and gone. Matric finals, radical changes at university and friends change and pursue their own paths in life, yet the All Blacks always carry me. Somehow, they manage to inspire me, despite how shite my life might be at a given point in time. When they run onto the field, clad in that famous Black jersey, lay down the Haka and play their hearts and guts out, I experience the strongest, most uplifting feeling I have ever felt. They do not know me, but they play rugby with such aplomb and such grit that one cannot help but feel overwhelmed. I have never been driven to perform, to give my best, by anyone other than the magnificent men in Black. Other factors might influence me but they will never mean what this team means to me. I’m not going to tell you that I don’t support the Springboks because of Apartheid – enough people blame Apartheid to cover up for their incompetence and inability to govern this country. I love the All Blacks, even if I am the only person in my res or my university to do so. I have ingrained it into my psyche because I am fed up with the constant meddling of politicians in South African sport and people playing the race card.

Give me a rational reason as to why I should blindly support the constant messing up of grass-roots rugby, a player being screwed over because this politician wants to play some race-chess-game and the subtle despising of anything un-South African. Whatever the hell that term means. People always tell me that one cannot be ‘American’ because that country is just one huge congregation of immigrants – well, doesn’t the same principle apply to South Africa? Or am I missing something here? I support the All Blacks because they play rugby the way it should be played, they revolutionize the game year in and year out and they will play until they drop dead.

Perhaps people need to be just a little less reflexive and hot under the collar in branding South Africans who support various New Zealand rugby causes instantly traitorous. Could there be at least some element of truth to people throwing their weight behind teams from that country because they simply seem to play a more vibrant and joyous game so much of the time? There is often talk of sides from SA playing to “traditional strengths” … which to all intents and purposes means trying to pile-drive and/or boot their way to victory. The new Springbok coach is Heyneke Meyer, a veritable genius of a rugby tactician and the man who coached the Bulls to a 2007 Super Rugby triumph – the first SA team to win the new, expanded competition. The coach has picked the majority of players from the Bulls franchise, reinforcing my view that South African rugby is stagnant. Heck, he might yet wow the rugby world, and if this happens I will eat my words. Don’t count on that happening though. Also, it’s not just with the National team that there are problems. The Baby Boks were beaten by Ireland in their opening match of the IRB Junior Championships in Stellenbosch. In their own goddamn backyard, the future ‘stars’ of SA rugby looked decidedly weak and ineffective against a Northern Hemisphere Ireland which can hardly be credited with playing exciting rugby. There was no grit, no fire and no flipping pride in the way the Baby Boks played and if they are anything to go by I am not really that scared of the Springboks knocking the All Blacks off the world number 1 spot for years to come. Contrast the performance of the Baby Boks with that of the Baby Blacks who ran in an enthralling ball-in-hand 63-0 demolition of Samoa earlier that day.

I am very much aware of the fact that winning rugby does not necessarily require the razzle-dazzle of NZ rugby. Yet the Crusaders (from NZ) are the most successful Super Rugby team with 7 titles. In over a hundred years of rugby, the All Blacks hold an 84% winning record against all oppostion played. They have also won 74% of all test matches played, and hold a winning record against every Test nation in the world (including the British & Irish Lions, and the World XV). That small, tiny nation boasts a player pool of just 90,000 (Australia 250,000, South Africa 450,000, France 400,000, England 1,000,000) – yet they provide the bulk of the Rugby Hall of Fame. The NZ Sevens side has won 9 of the 12 annual tournaments since the inception of the tournament in 2000. Of course you can accuse me of being a glory supporter – you try and be an All Blacks supporter in this country. My psychological demeanor and nihilistic outlook on life after that horrible night the All Blacks were knocked out by France in the 2007 World Cup is indicative of the place this team holds in my heart and the fact that glory comes in far second when one has the privilege and honour of donning the Black jersey, and of supporting this team. Glory necessarily requires guts, grit and a fighting determinism of spirit, things which the All Blacks embody. I am not sure where my true ‘home’ in the world is, but it is not here in South Africa. I apologize if that offends you but I need something more. I need reality, not dreams of utopia, collectivism dressed up as ‘ubuntu’ and blind faith in the ‘Rainbow Nation’. I will never take that away from anyone else and no one else can deny my the chance to support the team I want to. Do not give me an easy time, do not bend over backwards to accommodate me, to make me feel okay, to cater to what I want. This is your country and you can be damn well proud of it, and of the Springboks. Test, try and insult me – being an All Blacks supporter could not be any sweeter.  The All Blacks physically embody that which fuels my very soul.

Go back to last year’s rugby World Cup highlights. Watch the final between the All Blacks and France and tell me you don’t get goosebumps as the final whistle blows.  I wear my team’s colours like it’s my own skin. Call these videos cheesy if you so wish, but at least watch them. Watch them and you will understand why I shed more than a few tears when they won the Cup last year, or you might at least experience a shiver down your spine:

World Cup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJT9kduU1lQ&feature=relmfu

All Blacks 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNXsqs35860

Till next time, Kia Mau.

Forward, backward and everything in between (including greed, for good measure)

It’s been a while since my last post, the only viable reasons being that I’m lazy and a lot has happened in the last 3 weeks. The being lazy bit can be attributed to my lack of identity, my superego overriding my id or some other external force negatively influencing me. At least, that’s the explanation which has been once more pounded into my already fed-up post-toasties lack-of-identity psyche. (The phrase ‘post-toasties’ denotes anything post-modern, post-identity, post-psychology, post-truth etc ad nauseam, and was coined by the Jedi Master of lecturers, Professor Walters.)  Now for those who know me, do not be alarmed, I won’t rant about good ol’ President Obama till you’re bored to death – I’ll just dedicate a whole word to him in the title of this post.

Kidding. Right, to business then. The Leader of the People has decided that he needs something suitably socialist to indicate the way in which he wants to drag the USA – Forward. Deciding that people might just be waking up to smell the distinctly burnt coffee along with the long-dead roses, the mantra is no longer ‘Hope’ but rather ‘Forward’. You see, it’s not about what the people want – they have to be told what they want. Naturally, Americans throughout the decades have been incapable of doing anything on their own, of making money, of raising their children, of building the freest society the world has ever known; they need a man with a vision not nearly as dim and idiotic as their own, a man who knows all the variables of every single individual and has decided to thrown them under the vegetable-oil powered leviathan lovingly termed ‘Forward’. Of course, if you didn’t know already, man is evil, along with the countless innovations he has managed to somehow squeeze out of his selfish being,  and the planet is being torn asunder as a result. One cannot accuse El Presidente of being illogical; he is pro-enviro-statist, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-immigrants, pro-China, pro-despising his own country etc – all of these views of course just happen to coincide with an election year.

America the Free is being subverted – it is being changed, mangled and shaped to suit the utopian ideals of one man, one man whose very mantra is eerily reminiscent of Stalin’s Five Year Plans and Mao’s Great Leap Forward. Of course, everyone knows how well those particular endeavors turned out to be and how many millions perished for the utopian/communist ideal. America’s founding, the Civil War, and World War II were epic and, at times, seemingly insurmountable wars of liberty against tyranny, which would have destroyed the civil society had they been lost. The challenge today is in many ways more complicated, because the “soft tyranny” comes from within and utilizes the nation’s instrumentalities against itself. How’s about a quote from a man who actually, dare I say it, searched for truth? C.S. Lewis wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” I stand astounded at the fact that Obama and his kin are trying to set themselves up as the parents of America. Indeed, it went as far as his government closing down an ice-cream stand the other day. Why? Because it does not fit with what they want. Because they know what is best for all. The false promises along with the utopian-Marxist ideal must surely have become obvious to millions of thinking Americans by now right? But then again, they’re all unthinking drones and I’m just a white, Afrikaans, capitalist, Imperialist man in Africa. What the heck do I know? I am arguing against the Liberal/Statist agenda embodied in Obama’s policies, and I must therefore be racist, Imperialist and a silly, irrational Conservative.

Closer to home though, I get the feeling that students really are viewed as idiots. Are we not repeatedly told that we are worthless beings? Selfish, one-dimensional, profit-seeking, shallow and all the rest of it? How dare you desire to make money? To produce? To innovate? For you to do something ‘good’, you are not allowed to make one cent out of it. As long as your contribution to society is all that you are, you are a good person. You are to be told what you are and what your place in society is. We are all unknown, all of our souls are the same – we cannot know ourselves, everything is a construct, reality is unknowable and therefore why should we strive? Why dream if your dreams are only premised on the desire for power? That is what your lecturers and professors tell you, so naturally they must be right. Who are we, as 21-year old students, to make claims of truth? To stand for something? To not bend over backwards in order to accommodate everyone else? The ideal of a socialist utopia is to be worshiped, not questioned. I find it ridiculously idiotic when people point to capitalism and democracy, the West, and state that those are the things which make us conform and take away our humanity. All the millions who were lifted out of the Statist wars of the past century, and the countless millions who were freed from servitude to a lord in feudal Europe – they are all forgotten. What is it that freed them?

Commerce and money. Yes, that evil word. Money. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Why would one want to stifle people’s  individual drive to achieve? To quote the irrepressible Ayn Rand: “Or did you say it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It’s the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money–and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it. Let me give you a tip on a clue to men’s characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it. Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another–their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun” (Atlas Shrugged). Just think about that quote, think about its constituent parts and get back to me.

Time for me to, shock horror, talk about something I disagree with. Contrary to popular belief reason and rationality are possible if one applies one’s mind. Actually, it can be much easier than that. Because these days, the easiest thing appears to be the most appealing option to people. The socialists tell us that they can build the perfect society. We are told that having sex with whomever you might want to is fine because it is too difficult to remain faithful to one person. Why bother searching for the truth, any objective truth, if we cannot know ourselves, if we cannot know anything? There is no progress in this thinking. But of course, ‘progress’ is an evil thing, a concept used by the Imperialist Europeans to control the world. Funny how Communist China is trying to incorporate elements of capitalism and free-market methods because their society is becoming stagnant. Interesting how India, that jewel of the British Imperial Crown, has embraced liberal democracy and made it its own, flourishing and growing as a result. Perhaps the constant strife in Africa is preferable? Or how about we go back to the days of feudal Europe and the time of being beholden to a man who claimed dominion over others by birthright.

Consider the following: “We know that we know nothing,” they chatter, blanking out the fact that they are claiming knowledge – “There are no absolutes,” they chatter, blanking out the fact that they are uttering an absolute – “You cannot prove that you exist or that you’re conscious,” they chatter, blanking out the fact that proof presupposes existence, consciousness and a complex chain of knowledge: the existence of something to know, of a consciousness able to know it, and of a knowledge that has learned to distinguish between such concepts as the proved and the unproved.” This quote is from a collection of excerpts from the works of Rand, entitled For The New Intellectual. You see, the so-called intellectuals are those most easily seduced by unreason – post-modernism, collectivism, uniformity and anything non-Western – as long as you agree with any of these things, you are good and right.  Just one example: anything American is evil, Imperialist and evil. Never mind that America is the one country which keeps on giving aid to Africa. “Anti-Americanism seems to imply an element of irrationalism and resistance to facts that may run counter to prejudices. To hate a whole nation is a clear symptom of hysteria. It is an unfocused and largely irrational, often visceral aversion toward the United States, its government, domestic institutions, foreign policies, prevailing values, culture and people” (America Embattled).

How’s about that old adage that capitalism is the worst evil ever perpetuated on human beings? Quite the fashionable belief don’t you think? These days one’s brilliance and the clarity of your arguments is dependent on how much you rant and rave about how bad capitalism is. How’s about some dissent hey? How’s about me being a greedy, selfish bastard for once? If any of my friends can point to me and say “He exploits others for his selfish profit!,” let him stand up and say it. If I do not care for my fellow human beings, tell me. I dare you. “Capitalism provides many with the opportunity to display initiative. While the rigidity of a status society enjoins on everybody the unvarying performance of routine and does not tolerate any deviation from traditional patterns of conduct, capitalism encourages the innovator. Profit is the prize of successful deviation from customary types of procedure; loss is the penalty of those who sluggishly cling to obsolete methods. The individual is free to show what he can do in a better way than other people. However, this freedom of the individual is limited. It is an outcome of the democracy of the market and therefore depends on the appreciation of the individual’s achievements on the part of the sovereign consumers. What pays on the market is not the good performance as such, but the performance recognized as good by a sufficient number of customers. If the buying public is too dull to appreciate duly the worth of a product, however excellent, all the trouble and expense were spent in vain. Capitalism is essentially a system of mass production for the satisfaction of the needs of the masses. It pours a horn of plenty upon the common man. It has raised the average standard of living to a height never dreamed of in earlier ages. It has made accessible to millions of people enjoyments which a few generations ago were only within the reach of a small elite. The outstanding example is provided by the evolution of a broad market for all kinds of literature. Literature – in the widest sense of the term – is today a commodity asked for by millions” (The Anti-Capitalist Mentality).

Changes in human conditions are brought about by the pioneering of the most clever and most energetic men. They take the lead and the rest of mankind follows them little by little. The innovation is first a luxury of only a few people, until by degrees it comes into the reach of the many. It is not a sensible objection to the use of shoes or of forks that they spread only slowly and that even today millions do without them. The dainty ladies and gentlemen who first began to use soap were the harbingers of the big-scale production of soap for the common man. Of course there are those who blame capitalism for the degeneration of art. They cannot help admitting that capitalism has the tendency to improve the material conditions of mankind. But, they say, it has diverted men from the higher and nobler pursuits. It feeds the bodies, but it starves the souls and the minds. It has brought about a decay of the arts. Gone are the days of the great poets, painters, sculptors and architects. Our age produces merely trash. Yet, they claim that the judgement about the merits of a work of art is entirely subjective and here they defeat themselves. Some people praise what others disdain. There is no yardstick to measure the aesthetic worth of a poem or of a building. Those who are delighted by the Cathedral of Chartres and the Meninas of Velasquez may think that those who remain unaffected by these marvels are boors. Many students are bored to death when the school forces them to read Hamlet. Only people who are endowed with a spark of the artistic mentality are fit to appreciate and to enjoy the work of an artist. Among those who make pretense to the appellation of educated men there  is much hypocrisy. They put on an air of connoisseurship and feign enthusiasm for the art of the past and artists passed away long ago. They show no similar sympathy for the contemporary artist who still fights for recognition. They know best and who are we to produce and desire our own things? Our dreams made real? Naturally, your dreams are invalid if you make money out of making your dream a reality.

Of course, it is all capitalism’s fault. Because capitalism is guided by the whims of the few. The age of capitalism has abolished all vestiges of slavery and serfdom. It has put an end to cruel punishments and has reduced the penalty for crimes committed to the minimum indispensable for discouraging offenders. It has done away with torture and other objectionable methods of dealing with suspects and law breakers. It has repealed all privileges and promulgated equality of all men under the law. It has transformed the subjects of tyranny into free citizens. If you hate capitalism, make sure you understand the concept, because you might just be hating crony capitalism. If you understand, we are on the same page. If not, good luck in the world which you are building.

To finish off, some more Rand for you. “Capitalism cannot work with slave labor. It was the agrarian, feudal South that maintained slavery. It was the industrial, capitalistic North that wiped it out—as capitalism wiped out slavery and serfdom in the whole civilized world of the nineteenth century” (Writing on the South and North in the USA before the Civil War – yes, evil America engaged in a Civil War for the rights of African-Americans. Who would’ve thought). If you want class division, racism, slavery, collectivism, communism and destruction, continue on your path. That is, dare I use the phrase, your decision.

Aristotle, Red Birds & Ameritopia

To start off my first blog, I will try and stick to things which I actually have a modicum of knowledge about.

As we speak, I am trying to make sense of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Now I am going to be quite upfront here: I love reason and rationality. As limited as my learning is thus far, I continually try to reason through course work, relationships, new information and life in general. To be quite honest, I absolutely love the Romantic poets (Keats, Wordsworth and Shelley). This love of both reason and Romantic poetry might strike you as odd, but here lies the nub of my fascination with reason. I believe that emotions should be embraced, experienced and used – not swept under the carpet. However, I think it is much more beneficial to enjoy one’s emotions through reason; indeed, emotions tempered by reason. To experience the good things in life, one needs to experience the bad things as well; most importantly, do not run away from your emotions. I’m no budding Freudian but I think it’s quite clear what happens when one suppresses emotions in favor of ‘society’ and what others demand – the volatile temperament of Wuthering Heights, for example, is testament to the great social suppression disaster which was Victorian England. Alas, I digress. The essential point is that one should experience emotions for the value they bring to being a human – you can experience, work through and use your emotions to your benefit.

To quote the greatest of the Romantic poets, John Keats:

“Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.” – From Keats’s Ode on Melancholy.

Back to more serious matters. The incredible intellectual challenge which Aristotle’s philosophy poses is daunting enough for the best philosophy student, and I am all the more excited to study his work for this challenge, but sometimes it astounds me that we so rarely encounter reason and rationality in today’s system of education. Throughout my University career (I am in 3rd year at the moment) I have been force-fed the message of relativism, subjectivity and ‘man’s inability to know himself’, never mind his environment and reality. I might be missing something essential here, but it does not appear to me that we are training leaders; we are training leaders who are beholden to others, to the ‘group’ and to ‘the country’. I am all for dialogue and discussion but there is a very firm line between talking to others, discussing things with them and rolling over and playing dead because you are too scared of stepping on anyone’s toes. Individuals drive society and they drive the world. If you have something to say, say it. Do not simply be a drone, doing things which are fashionable at the time. Fads will pass with time. Objective truth, reason and rationality will stand.

On to other matters, my love for the United States has moved me to look with shock and disgust at what Barack Obama is doing to that country. The USA is a Constitutional Republic. Now the President has repeatedly gone against the Constitution because he has some grand master plan for the country – he wants to mould the country as he sees fit, regardless of whether the people want that or not. The USA is not a nanny state, such as, for example, the United Kingdom. Capitalism, which has enjoyed its most amazing fulfillment in the figure of the society of the US, has resulted in the prosperity of millions. Not the welfare state, not state-run healthcare, but free market capitalism. Compare this to China, North Korea, Cuba and countless other countries which have tried to build their own utopias. Communism has resulted in the deaths of 100 million people, and counting. A popular argument is that ‘true’ communism has never been achieved. Actually, it was achieved, grotesquely and frighteningly so, in the leviathan that was the USSR – Soviet Russia. Communism is about control over every aspect of the human life, public and most importantly private. 100 million deaths is already too high a price for a so-called ‘worker’s paradise’. Also, true laissez-faire capitalism has also never been achieved and look at how well the system has done even whilst tempered by state intervention and state controls. The individual should be free to own private property, to own the profit of his labor (physical and mental). I have no problem with wanting to care for your fellow human being, in whatever manner you see fit, but you cannot demand that anyone else has a ‘moral duty’ to do the same. I find humans to be so fascinating and diverse that I find it to be a grave mistake to want to equalize everyone as communism tries to do – the brilliance that is the human mind is then destroyed. The disaster that is the NHS in England is testament to the danger of seizing the profits of individuals for the ‘good of the group.’ See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/oct/07/comment.comment. The specter that is Obamacare threatens the US in ways never before encountered, and it is my fervent hope that it will be declared “unconstitutional” by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.

To end off on a lighter note, my favourite baseball team, the St Louis Cardinals, have enjoyed a fair start to this year’s MLB season. Their record reads 11-7 (which means they’ve won 11 and lost 7). Currently at the top of their division, it appears as though they have managed to ride the loss of franchise star Albert Pujols (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for future reference) during the off-season and look to be building well. However, baseball is a fickle game and the season is still young, but I will always keep the faith. I also recently received the magnum opus of one of my favourite writers, Mark Levin, and I will be using it frequently to back up my arguments. Also, look forward to a lot of Ayn Rand references in the future, as well tit-bits from writers such as George Washington, Charles de Montesquieu, Alexis de Tocqueville, Aristotle and Milton, to name but a few.

I will end with a warning from President Ronald Reagan: “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

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