The Revelation: The Cult of Orthodox Objectivists Exists

Chanakya's picture
Submitted by Chanakya on Wed, 2017-04-12 13:08

There was a time when I used to vehemently reject the idea that the cult of “Orthodox Objectivists” could ever exist. I thought that the phrase “Orthodox Objectivist” is a figment of the imagination of those who are against the ideas of Ayn Rand.

A couple of years ago, I even got into a heated argument with a person on FB when he accused me of being an “Orthodox Objectivist.” I told him repeatedly that Objectivism is the philosophy of reason—there is no room for orthodoxy to exist in it. Several angry comments were exchanged between us and we ended up unfriending each other.

But now I realize how incorrect my first impression of the Objectivist environment was. Indeed, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism has seen wholesale intellectual deterioration after her death in 1982 and today large swaths of the Objectivist environment are dominated by the cult of Orthodox Objectivists.

The inheritors of Ayn Rand’s philosophical empire assiduously propagated the idea that Objectivism entails blind faith in the sayings of the authority figures like Ayn Rand, Dr. Leonard Peikoff and the intellectuals endorsed by Dr. Peikoff.

They were able to convince large number of young Objectivists who became blind worshippers of authority. They became part of the cult of the Orthodox Objectivists.

According to Homer’s legend, Zeus created human beings because he knew that only the prayers of the humans can sustain the Gods in the heaven.

Likewise the top philosophers of Objectivism spawned the cult of Orthodox Objectivists because they knew that only prayers of the orthodox can sustain the authority figures in their ivory towers.


the royal 'we'

J Cuttance's picture

I am unqualified to comment on Rand's intellectual descendancy, other than to point out the banality that true-heir claims on thought are an almost inevitable quagmire.

I'd also like to post this gem of Joe Sobran's (which I just read on bionicmosquito.blogspot.co.nz)

..."they and their media allies hold 'divisiveness' to be a cardinal sin. The parasitical organism doesn't want the host to think of itself as a distinct entity; with interests of its own. So it tries rhetorically to 'unify' the two organisms in the undifferentiated pronoun 'we'."

Allan Blumenthal

Luke Setzer's picture

An audience member I met at OCON 2011 said that had history run a bit differently, Ayn Rand might have chosen Allan Blumenthal over Leonard Peikoff as her posthumous heir. I know little about the man. The audience member has been involved with Objectivism since NBI, and he said Blumenthal is an accomplished psychologist with more maturity than Peikoff, and he could have been better equipped to deal with the various difficulties encountered with her legacy.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda ...

The David Kelley organization showed early promise, but it has since mutated into a conservative-libertarian think-tank not easily distinguished from many others in DC. I visit their Web site occasionally. I am hard-pressed to tell you exactly what they do any longer.

Checking Anti-Entropy

Chanakya's picture

Yes. This is a good point. The Objectivists who are still not infected by the virus of Orthodoxy, which benumbs the mind into complete reverence to authority figures, should do whatever they can to check the anti-entropy project. The Authenticism project sounds interesting.

Rand's Philosophcial Legacy

Chanakya's picture

Luke Setzer,

You are right. In fact, Rand erred twice in choosing her intellectual heir.

Both Mr. Nathanial Branden and Dr. Leonard Peikoff were, I think, incorrect choices. If she was serious about having her own philosophical system that can taken on the established philosophies in the world, she should have paid some attention to creating an institution that would disseminate her ideas.

I too believe that the love affair between Rand and Branden has led to bad outcomes for Objectivism. Since then Objectivism has been mired in scandals and it has been led by men of low caliber and integrity.

NBI

Luke Setzer's picture

She had the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI) for a number of years until her ill-advised affair with its namesake ended.

Had that affair never happened, we would be living in a very different world now.

The Orthodox Objectivists

Chanakya's picture

The Orthodox Objectivists have committed irreparable damage to Ayn Rand's philosophical system. Because of their zealous ways people are now refraining from calling themselves Objectivists.

Even though Rand's books sell in millions in most parts of the world, Objectivism does not have any real standing as a philosophical system. It is widely regarded as a minor cult which is led by a set of "arrogant old men," whose knowledge of philosophy is very limited. Indeed, it is a tragedy that Ayn Rand's inheritors are unable to come up with a single book of high standard.

I believe that Ayn Rand did a great disservice to her own legacy by appointing a "legal and intellectual heir." I think she could have found better ways of managing her Estate. Instead of conferring all the powers in a single individual she could have created a real institution to disseminate her ideas in the academia, media and the general public.

Inbuilt Moral Entropy

Doug Bandler The Second's picture

"The best answer I have to date is the idea of inbuilt moral entropy"

You know the Orthos will call this "intrinsicism" and therein lies the problem; the O'ist belief in the blank slate view of human nature and social dynamics. Searching for an "inbuilt moral entropy" is the direction that science is going towards and that is going to lead down the path of neurology and socio-biology. And *that* destroys Objectivism; which in my opinion will never survive the rigor of science anyway.

Liberty and libertarianism (a right wing version) has a future I think but I doubt that Objectivism does and for this very reason. It denies human nature in too many areas and on too many levels.

Outcompete Them and Call Them on It

Luke Setzer's picture

Speak your truth based on your own independent judgment using sound reasoning based on essential facts.

What else can one do?

Eventually, if enough of us do that, the truth will out to the general public.

Do They Know They Are OrthObjectivists?

Chanakya's picture

I think about 90% of the people who are seen in the social media acting like the drummer-boys of OrthObjectivism do not know that they are Orthodox. They think that they are the true-followers of Ayn Rand's philosophy.

The problem is that the intellectual space in Objectivism is so-completely dominated one particular group that is being led by Dr. Leonard Peikoff that the ideas of every other philosopher or intellectual who is not endorsed by Dr. Peikoff is always rejected by most Objectivists.

I am not denying that Dr. Peikoff has done good work in the past. But the efforts of other intellectuals should also be recognized. Objectivism does not have to be “rigid,” “narrow,” “intolerant” and “closed-minded.”

As long as the Objectivists are reading the literature that is of the "endorsed variety" they will never awake up to the fact that they are part of a cult. Objectivism faces a difficult challenge.

On the mantra of "the

Jmaurone's picture

On the mantra of "the impotence of evil", Linz wrote:

"'The metaphysical impotence of evil' is a mantra of OrthOism. It means evil is nothing without the acquiescence of good people. That's fine as far as it goes, but disastrous if treated as being as far as one can possibly go."

Rand made an attempt to clarify that, herself, as printed in AYN RAND ANSWERS: THE BEST OF HER Q&A:

(Question): "...you voiced a strongly pessimistic view of the future. How can you you say you're glad to be old, when one of the most important concepts of Objectivism is that irrationality must never be taken seriously?"

Rand: "What in hell gave you that impression? ...the only passage that I can imagine gave you this impression–and if so, makes me angrier, and hurt-is Dagny's line to Galt: 'We never had to take any of it seriously.' That's one of the most beautiful passages in my novel qua fiction. But it is light-years away from 'Irrationality is never to be taken seriously.'"

"I've written that one problem with Americans is that they don't believe in the reality of evil. You better take evil and irrationality seriously: not in the sense of regarding it as important-not in the sense of letting it determine the course of your life or your choice of career or other key values-but in the sense of not evading its existence. You should do everything in your power (though not at the price of self-sacrifice) to counteract evil and irrationality, which requires taking it seriously. But that is not the meaning of this line from ATLAS SHRUGGED."

Greg

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"The metaphysical impotence of evil" is a mantra of OrthOism. It means evil is nothing without the acquiescence of good people. That's fine as far as it goes, but disastrous if treated as being as far as one can possibly go. Being over 100 years old now I find it impossible not to conclude that evil has some sway that OrthOism cannot (and will not try to) account for. It's one reason the fable of original sin ever had legs, and continues to have legs. It's one of the things I want to address in my "Authenticism" project. It's hard not to see evil as being greater than the sum of its parts, a statement that I know will have OrthOists convulsing. But think of the OrthOists you know who themselves engage in evil practices, such as smearing and lying and cultism (of the kind Yanoop describes here) and Islam-appeasing, and do so with belligerent relish. How does this happen?! I don't know the answer on this, but we must keep questioning and thinking aloud. The best answer I have to date is the idea of inbuilt moral entropy—it can be checked, but it's part of the natural order of things, part of the human condition, and checking it, Anti-Entropy, is a ceaseless project.

Kyrel

gregster's picture

Their modus operandi is unsuited to the internet age and it will be seen that reality will defy their predictions. For example, Brook's apparent love of the EU (!) and anti-Brexit 'feelings' will be exposed as typical ignorance. I won't throw the baby out with the bathwater, and occasionally they will be right on a concrete.

At the moment I am most interested to learn more of "the impotence of evil." The good around always seems to be overshadowed of dwarfed. Or was this a generalisation by Rand, in that, as humans haven't extinguished themselves therefore the "good" is evident?

Not Open to Questions or Challenges

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

I think the weakness and failure of the religious and cult Objectivists can be seen in that they only discuss and debate the issues with their fellow cultists or those deeply ignorant of Objectivism. That's the same as never discussing and debating the issues at all. It's a vast repudiation of the entire 2600-year history of philosophy and reason. The religiosos shouldn't "moderate" and censor everyone on all forms of media, and cravenly refuse to face serious questions and challenges. It's an indirect but colossal confession of intellectual incompetence, weakness, and failure.

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