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Need help putting this Ayn Rand quote in perspective

  1. Feb 16, 2012 #1
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

    Is she trying to say that being a moderate is bad? What exactly does this quote mean?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2012 #2


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    Hey dratsab.

    I have no idea what she means by that, but I could offer a suggestion based off another quote:

    "All that is necessary of the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke.

    But even this could be completely different to what she is saying.

    Also the whole idea of "right" and "wrong" is just a distortion: you only have things that are relative to one another.

    If you want evidence of the so called "right" and "wrong" interpretations its not hard to find this: apart from the religious sects and organizations all you have to do is find any heated argument and just sit down with some popcorn while you see the two parties set each other on fire.
  4. Feb 16, 2012 #3
    I wouldnt say, bad, even though she did. But they are very uncommited. After all it is all the compromises, that have destroyed our government, IMO. Just read the federalist, antifederalist papers. One side was right(anti-federalists), the other was wrong(federalists), the compromise is the evil we have been living in ever since. Especially since 1850, IMO.
  5. Feb 16, 2012 #4
    Considering the perspective (all things are black and white/right and wrong) perhaps she is saying that being "wrong" is not necessarily "evil" but that knowingly compromising in the face of what is "right" and "wrong" is "evil". Really it just seems like a platitude.
  6. Feb 16, 2012 #5
    Perhaps she was unaware of this quote:

  7. Feb 16, 2012 #6
    She generally disagreed with the idea "the only good policy is one where noone goes home happy."

    I don't think she's saying being 'moderate' (whatever that really means) is bad intrinsically, but if you're holding beliefs just to be in the relative middle I think she'd say that is bad. She saw the political middle as a no-mans land full of opportunists with no real principles to stand on. I think she'd look at the modern political system in the US and say that nearly everyone was just an opportunist - party principles are generally eroded and there's lots of hypocracy. Too many takers, not enough makers.
  8. Feb 16, 2012 #7
    She seems to be suggesting if you don't take sides when necessary, it is worse than adopting the wrong opinion.
    It reminded me of Dante's Divine comedy, which I had to look up to remind myself. In the divine comedy, Dante witnesses on his way into hell, not hell "proper" but before he crosses the river Acheron, the souls of those who did not take sides in life, who did neither good nor evil, and are essentially unwanted by either Heaven or Hell: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...gPxtJGOCA&ved=0CFcQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false.
    As an aside, apparently President John F. Kennedy quoted it:
    "'The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality"
    Although he seems to have got it wrong, I can't find any reference to the Vestibule being the hottest. According to the John F. Kennedy Library, this was intentional. Sure. It would have been better if he was claiming to quote Ayn Rand. (http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/JFK-Miscellaneous-Information/Dante.aspx [Broken]).
    I personally think Dante does it better.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  9. Feb 16, 2012 #8

    Chi Meson

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    I believe this quote is what reveals the evil of Ayn Rand.

    What has happened, historically, when a person, or group of people, have been in power and they are guided by the belief that they and only they who have exactly the same beliefs (political or religious)? How do people behave when they take no notice of the plight/arguments of the "other side"?

    I was "into" Ayn Rand during college; I voted for Ron Paul in 1988; I tagged along with the "Objectivist Club" at UVa for a while. It was when I read the book of essays "the virtue of selfishness" and in particular the essay "The growing cult of moral greyness," I decided it was not logical.

    For all distinctions ("atmosphere" vs. "space" for example) there are areas where you are clearly in one or the other, but there is a zone in which you are in both/neither. This is true for all physical distinctions and all political distinctions.

    To go into a tricky middle-ground, and to emerge in favor of one side, disregarding the other, you have to invent logical pedestals to support the conclusion you wanted in the first place (consider Pluto, for example; how did it become not-a-planet?) I saw this happening all over Ayn's work.

    I forgot where, but she said that if you come across an issue where there does not seem to be a right and wrong, then you do not know enough about it; after filling in the details, and analyzing things properly, you will always be able to determine which side is right (I'm paraphrasing out the wazzoo! Feel free to correct that one; I might be recalling lecture notes here; but it's part of that philosophy nonetheless)
  10. Feb 16, 2012 #9


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    Rand was over-simplistic, as usual. The fiction that there is a "right" and a "wrong" regarding any political/economic/personal issue is worse than dishonest - it is an outright lie. Personal and public affairs are complex, and any attempt to force them into a simple dichotomy for the purpose of argument is ignorant at best. Anybody who writes about complex situations and tries to tell you that there are "two sides" to the story is a liar. Our "liberal" media has fallen into that trap, and presents "both sides" by pretending that inviting a Republican and a Democrat onto their shows to spout their talking points covers the breadth and depth of an issue. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
  11. Feb 16, 2012 #10
    I think its pretty draconian to think there are only two sides to issues. What does it even mean there is only a right or a wrong way to everything ?. Thats pretty narrow minded.
  12. Feb 16, 2012 #11
    Sounds to me like a sexual reference.
  13. Feb 16, 2012 #12

    jim hardy

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    the poor girl lived through the Russian revolution, WW1, rise of those European fascists and WW2.

    Small wonder she's a bit hard on perceived "softness".
    I'd say the quote means "You're wishy-washy, Charlie Brown"...
  14. Feb 16, 2012 #13

    Chi Meson

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    Ayn van Pelt
  15. Feb 16, 2012 #14
    Sounds to me that she didn't get her way on something.
  16. Feb 17, 2012 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Obviously she was just referencing Revelation 3:16 - So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[a] I will vomit you out of My mouth.

    Clearly she was a very religious woman. :biggrin:
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