The Harry Potter Syndrome in Objectivism

Chanakya's picture
Submitted by Chanakya on Tue, 2017-04-04 01:49

Soon after I became active in the FB Objectivist circles about 3-years ago, I realized that Ayn Rand’s philosophy of reason has transmogrified into a system of revelation. Many Objectivists believe that Rand is their first God, her intellectual heir Dr. Leonard Peikoff is their second God, and the intellectuals endorsed by Dr. Peikoff are their myriad demigods.

They waste their time in squabbling with those who do not repose enough faith in the Gods and demigods, whose writ, as per the Objectivist canon, cannot be questioned by any mortal. The Objectivist tribe will descend like a hyena pack on anyone who dares to ask difficult questions.

Very few people in the Objectivist community seem to care that Rand is not an advocate of conformity, cultism, or blind worship of authority figures. There is no issue that is unthinkable, unmentionable or unchallengeable in Objectivism.

My first experience with the “constrained” Objectivist mind was in a thread on good literature that someone had initiated in a FB group. Here people were commenting on the books that they claimed they had enjoyed—most of these books were the ones that have been praised by Ayn Rand and other Objectivist scholars.

When someone mentioned the name of Harry Potter, I decided to join the discussion. I posted a one liner: “I haven't read any Harry Potter book—I have no taste for wizard stories.” To my surprise, someone who is a stickler for Objectivist dogma immediately pounced on my comment.

“I suppose there is something wrong with your mind?” he wrote.

“Why do you say that?”

“You don’t like Harry Potter.”

“I like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.”

“If you knew more, you would like Harry Potter too. You need to improve your knowledge. Do you know that [this] Objectivist scholar has praised Harry Potter.”

The discussion took place 3-years ago—I don’t remember the name of the Objectivist scholar that he provided. But it dawned on me that there was no benefit to be accrued from arguing with this man and I wriggled out of the discussion by saying that I will try to read the Harry Potter books.

Since then I have experienced several instances of certain Objectivists blindly following the views articulated by some supreme authority figure in Objectivism. When these Objectivists are confronted with a new problem, instead of discovering a solution by an application of their own mind, they try to find out what any authority figure has to say on that particular problem.

Wisdom to these Objectivists comes not from the application of their own mind, but from a revelation from the authority figures.

I think that the “inheritors of Rand’s literary and philosophical empire” have done a disservice to her by letting Objectivism deteriorate into some kind of a school of magic. The Objectivists trained in this school of magic behave like the boy wizard Harry Potter. Just as Harry Potter conjures magical spells, the Objectivists conjure the quotes from Ayn Rand and other authority figures to demolish any intellectual problem that they are confronting.

If you dare to use your own mind—if you develop your own opinion on an issue, you are branded as a heretic who poses an existential thread to Objectivism. Heretic! Traitor! Conspirator! Excommunicate him from the collective! Unfriend! Denounce! Lynch him! Assassinate his character! Question his psychology! Make fun of his intellect!

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Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

The cultists are not just evil -- they're on the wrong side of history. Their power slowly fades, year-by-year. The real Objectivists will eventually defeat them. That's good.

Unfortunately the religious folk still have a lot of status and influence. People read Rand, relish her, and then find their way to ARI and the like. But genuine reasonists and individualists don't like Randroidism or them. Good and strong people refuse to be intellectually herded and spiritually brutalized by Scientology-style "Objectivists". That's good too. But the noble ideals of reason and individualism, and the ascent of man, get considerably hurt by the ARIans anyway.

Narcissism Against Egoism

Luke Setzer's picture

The dogmatic arm of Objectivism populates itself with people who have slid from egoism to narcissism, or from pride to hubris.


Side question:

Can anyone comment about the "day jobs" the ARI core group had before the ARI gravy train came to be?

Would these people be employable any longer outside the cabal?

I have read that Peikoff actually had glowing student reviews when he taught university philosophy. I think Fred Seddon said that years ago in this forum. I cannot comment on the others, especially Peter Schwartz.

On Boy Wizards & Their Magic Wand

Chanakya's picture

Like Harry Potter, the orthodox Objectivist has a magic wand—his magic wand is configured from the frozen quotes of the Gods and demigods. Harry Potter has a spell for dealing with every occasion—likewise the Orthodox Objectivist has a quote for every occasion.

The idea in the quote is often ignored—who said it matters more than what she/he said. Of course, not everyone is like this, but most of those who get identified as the Orthodox type are very dogmatic. A rather unfortunate and depressing situation this is.

Great article Anoop

gregster's picture

So good to see you here too. I laughed aloud at several spots: "myriad demigods," "find out what any authority figure has to say,""the school of magic." Haha.

And thank you for the unintentional and tragic entertainment on F*c*book. One of the best moments was when Klaus Nordby demanded you return his gifted logo. He is one of the myriad demigods you describe.

Objectivists blindly following the views articulated by some supreme authority figure in Objectivism

The interesting part here is that Yaron Brook does acknowledge he departs from Leonard Peikoff on several immigration issues, in the present context of the Hijrah--a moslem cold war that the west seems shy to declare. Yaron's demonising, waving of his wand to curse traditional Christians, especially Republican candidates, whilst making excuses for further immigration of moslems is black magic.

Philosophy Slipping Down Into Religion

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Anoop is right-on and dead-on in his analysis of the Randroids.

Unfortunately, Peikoff, Binswanger, Schwartz, Brook, etc. didn't embrace the practice and attitude of religiosity and cultism out of thin air. They got it from Ayn Rand, in my view. A small but important part of the time she failed to live up to her values of reason and individualism. Thus the modern Scholastics learned this vice from what Rand said, the way she said it, how she conducted her personal life, and her stated reasons for it.

Philosophy has suffered from the poison of cultism at least since Pythagoras. The antidote, in my opinion, is a relentless and unending war on the fundamental religious evils of abuse, censorship, and excommunication of intellectual dissidents. The main way to defeat a false and evil philosophical view -- even one by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Hitler, Mohammad, etc. -- is thru intellectual refutation. Personal abuse, censorship, and excommunication need to be employed very sparingly.

(Here's how I treated aspects of this issue 11 months ago:

Harry Potter

Chanakya's picture


I haven't read anyone of Harry Potter books--because I don't normally read children's books or wizard stories.

But you have explained very well, your "logical reasons" for why HP books are good. Therefore you have made your "own" good point.


edpowell's picture

Objectivism, Inc. has indeed degenerated into an authority cult that reminds me of the Scholastics and their dogmatization of Aristotle. They are hopeless.

On the other hand, Harry Potter spends seven books breaking all the school rules so he can act according to his own best judgement, so Harry Potter is way ahead of the feeble thinkers of Objectivism, Inc. The HP books are one of the most obvious examples of an artist creating a work of art explicitly at variance with her own stated philosophy. She is a collectivist. Potter is an individualist. She falls into all the obvious traps of mysticism/irrationalism in her analysis of the real world. Potter uses reason to uncover his enemies' plots. She obviously believes in state education. Potter goes to a private school. She advocates complete disarmament of the British public. Potter teaches armed self-defense to 16-year-olds. She advocates self-sacrifice. Potter acts selfishly, in the Objectivist sense of the word "selfish", even when he "sacrifices" his life to save his friends. Never in my entire life have I read a set of books whose themes are diametrically opposed to the author's expressed philosophy, except for Harry Potter. Oh, and the first few books are funny, too. Books 6 and 7 kinda suck--she ran out of clever ideas--but the fist five are worth reading (or listening to, Jim Dale is fantastic).

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