Category: News ArchiveHits: 513
In somewhat more straightforward BioShock-related news, Twenty Sided's Shamus has posted an email he received about Objectivism as it applies to BioShock straight from, well, an Objectivist. A sampling:
Is Bioshock an attack on Objectivism? Well, granted, it does portray a (perfect) society that most certainly has gone to hell, but there's really a lot more to it than that.
For starters, there's a major plot twist 3/4 through the game where you discover, basically, that you've been manipulated and lied to all along by the villain. And pretty much everyone else has, too. Once you discover this, with some thinking, you can see how just about every bit of information that's been fed to you to demonize Andrew Ryan is actually misleading and taken out of context. There's a lot made in the game of how everything's looking all scary with arrests and martial law, but when you get right down to it, the people arrested really *were* working for the villain. In the end, you don't really get the full story, but there is at least the possibility that Ryan really didn't do anything morally wrong at all.
And, really, what you find in the game is that hardly any of the people in the city actually subscribe to Ryan's vision. The thing that ultimately does them in is that so many of them are willing to lie, cheat, steal, and see no problem with working with this slimeball villain who's trying the bring the whole place down. And even then, there's a lot of conspiracy and manipulation on the villain's part. It's not really Ryan's pseudo-Objectivist philosophy that's failing, so much as it's an example of what might happen to a society built on that philosophy if less than 1% of its constituant members actually subscribed to it. I don't think that this, as a message, is any real threat to Objectivism since none of us has ever claimed that everything will get magically better if the law is structured right but society remains culturally and philosophically where it is. Every legitimate Objectivist organization I know of is saying that trying for political change is hopeless until we can achieve a cultural change - i.e. toward reason and individual rights.
So is Bioshock an indictment of Objectivism? I'd say no - and I'd even go so far as to say that it wasn't even the author's intent for it to be. He does have some tragic themes about human nature and certainty in there, which are definitely in disagreement with Objectivism, but I think that's going at least three or four levels deeper than most folks will.