The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
Early in Atlas, Rand introduces Type 4 altruism in the exchange between Rearden and Francisco at Rearden’s anniversary party, when Francisco attempts to warn Rearden of the real battle he is fighting. Rearden responds dismissively: “A battle? What battle? I hold the whip hand. I don’t fight the disarmed.” Francisco replies: “Are they? They have a weapon against you. It’s their only weapon, but it’s a terrible one. Ask yourself what it is, some time” (AS, I:6, 148).
Type 5 altruism is the most disturbing and terminal case of altruism, and both Nietzsche and Rand see it operative in many individuals and movements. Type 4 altruism is about achieving power in order to rule. Yet the desire to rule is still a positive goal. Type 5 is about getting power as a means purely to destroy the good and the great. It is this type of altruism, because of its utter malevolence, that gives pause to many thoughtful and well-meaning interpreters of Nietzsche and Rand and leads them to wonder whether Nietzsche and Rand exaggerate their enemies’ positions.
Nietzsche is explicit: “Moral judgments and condemnations constitute the favorite revenge of the spiritually limited against those less limited” (BGE, 219; emphasis added), and in its extreme form the
weak and impotent erupts into nihilism: “When some accomplish what they desire to do they exclaim angrily,
‘May the whole of envy, whose
world perish!’ implication is
This repulsive emotion is the ‘If I cannot have something, no
pinnacle one can
have anything, no one down to their level,
is to be anything!’” (D, he argues, the weak
304). To bring the use the language
strong of the
“when would they achieve the ultimate, subtlest,
sublimest triumph of revenge? Undoubtedly if they succeeded in poisoning the consciences of the fortunate with their own misery, with all misery, so that one day the fortunate began to be ashamed of their good fortune and perhaps said one to another: ‘it is disgraceful to be fortunate: there is too much misery!’” (GM, 3:14). The goal is not to use pain and misery to induce the strong to help solve the problems of those in pain and misery; the goal is to inflict the same pain and misery on the strong. That is revenge: to subject one’s enemy to the same torments.
In religious uses of the altruistic ethic, on this Nietzschean interpretation, the purpose of Heaven and Hell is not a relatively benevolent two-pronged strategy of inspiring goodness by the carrot