Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Thu, 2006-12-21 00:04

It's been drawn to my attention that one of the good folk at RoR has said SOLO has been silent on the matter of Tracinski, the implication being that SOLO is ARI's lapdog (haven't they been keeping up?! Smiling) In actual fact there are some comments about it in the SOLOC 5 Postponement and Iraq Study Group threads. But here it is, up in lights. This is part of a note I got from Ed Hudgins yesterday. I'm sure he won't mind my publishing it, since he's posted something very similar publicly on RoR. After noting my apparent removal from the ARI op-ed distribution list, he said:

On ARI's website this statement is posted after articles by Robert Tracinski:

"Robert W. Tracinski is no longer associated with the Ayn Rand Institute--neither as a writer nor as a speaker."

Sigh …. Another casualty. Wouldn't it be better if ARI, TAS, RofR, SOLOPassion , JARS, and Atlasphere all promoted Objectivist ideas in the wider world, each in their own valid way (disagreeing with one another when necessary based on some form of mutual respect) rather than aiming poisoned arrows at one another?


( categories: )

When You Do...

Jeff Perren's picture

" stress the importance of looking at other causal factors than fundamental philosoophical ideas disseminated by university professors."

When you do expand on your theme, please keep in mind that there are two separate issues here.

(1) What causal influences on culture are there; what are the relative strength of influences of philosophical fundamentals vs other factors?


(2) Where are those coming from? (The universities vs those + other).

Our recent discussion has been about the second, much more than the first.

Also, please keep in mind the following:

The fundamental laws of physics operate everywhere at all times and in all things. They underlie all other causal factors. But invoking them to explain, say, the evolution of species is beside the point in most contexts. Sometimes, you need to look at less fundamental factors to explain particular circumstances.

I've no doubt that the fundamental truths of philosophy are at all times operative in human action (and, indeed, everywhere in the universe) and can be seen in everything we do. But if you want to explain cultural change, you need to look at less fundamnental factors as well. This approach does not deny the existence nor the importance of those fundamental factors. It is not either-or.

If you agree on this latter point, then we have no fundamental disagreement.


P.S. By the way, I recommend we move the discussion to the Philosophy and History thread, where I think it more appropriate and more visible.


TRowland's picture

Here and in the other thread where I'm posting, you stress the importance of looking at other causal factors than fundamental philosoophical ideas disseminated by university professors. What I've been pointing to, and will expand upon in my next post in answer to your post, is that every book you read, every TV show, every cartoon, every lyric to a song, carries the cultural influence of fundamental philosophical ideas passed down into the culture from the headwaters, if you will, of the humanities departments of colleges and universities. Quite honestly, this seems like such a "duh" to me that I'm suprised you don't get it. But in the belief that perhaps an even more detailed post might pursuade some, if not you...I'll be back.


Jeff Perren's picture


You're right to point out that many who are currently influencing the culture are college graduates. That's evidence that the universities were influential, but those graduates now are.

When, for example, you cite your TA experience from 88-90, you reinforce my point -- that was 16-18 years ago. The Internet (social networks -- MySpace, blogs, etc) has grown enormously in the last 10 years - social networks particularly in the last five. Too early to tell for sure how much influence they have now or will have. But the Internet is now the locus of cultural exchange, both for origination (in many cases) and promulgation (in the overwhelming number of cases).

Consider some personal experience...

I last attended a university in 1996. I haven't read anything by a professor since then that wasn't published in a newspaper or magazine (online or hardcopy). Should the influence be assigned to the university (he is a professor) or the newspaper (the editor agreed to publish him)?

My ideas, to the extent they influence anyone, are distributed not via the university but via SOLO and other online venues. Similarly, on a much larger scale, for Wakeland and Tracinski, neither of whom have ever been associated with a university. They influence me. They in turn are influenced by what they read in the newspaper, their own thoughts, etc. There are very likely some university professors that influence them as well, though I doubt that influence is major in their cases. Ditto many others of all shades of the philosophical spectrum.

Books influence me, very few of which are written by university professors. I suspect this is true of many.

ARI influences many thousands, to varying degrees. Though there are university professors among its intellectuals their influences operate significantly outside the university venue, as well as inside it.

I could cite many more examples. If the ideas which influence others were being originated, rather than just promulgated by those within universities -- and promulgated primarily within the ivy covered walls -- your point would be stronger. But I don't see a lot of new ideas coming from university professors. (Of course, the old bad ones continue to be preached there. I'm just not sure who or how many are listening.)

I see that source having faded considerably over the past 20 years, as the Internet has grown.

And, considering influences that are neither from the university nor the Internet...

Consider the recent resurgance of Evangelical religion that has you and others so concerned, for example. Those ideas didn't start in a university, nor are they perpetuated there in any large scale (yet). They are promulgated in churches and online venues, with some TV and newspaper influence.

(Perhaps one could argue that preachers are educated in universities, receiving degrees there. To that extent, the university influence is real and important. But how much influence is from a university professor, and how much just from the Bible, parents, etc?)

I agree that universities are still important influences, but if they are primary it's unlikely to be for long unless something radical changes there.

None of my comments were prompted by, nor are they directed at, ARI's focus on establishing an Objectivist influence in universities. I hadn't thought of that organization at all until you mentioned it.

I brought up Rand only as an instance of a strong -- and growing -- influence on the culture that hasn't (and never has had) much of anything to do with universities.

Plus, there's the possibly more important point that people are capable of thinking for themselves. My ideas have evolved over the years, with no appreciable influence from any university professor whatever. That seems to me to be one of Tracinski's major points -- that anyone who uses his or her reason to understand the world to create is thereby influencing it. That influence is, if I understand his thesis correctly, stronger than some have been willing to grant.

There's no point in simply repeating that "Yes, these other things represent influences, but they are not fundamental, the universities are" since that simply begs the question.


As to the other things you mention... TV shows, etc, I'm not sure what your point is. If you're trying to persuade me that there the culture has many instances that are reflections or consequences of bad ideas, you have an easy task. I've been saying that since I was fourteen.

As to the 'right wing revival' again, I'm not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that Yale is the philosophical source of both the Religious Right and Neoconservatism?

Last, I'm not sure what point about Objectivism's influence you are making by saying "We are a long way from a culture dominated by Objectivism. And a primary [doubtful], if not only [obviously not true], tool in that shift will be, as it must [why?], the colleges and universities."

I've already given several reasons to doubt the current and future influence of universities. Beyond that, I'm not at all persuaded that Objectivism (at least, in the form advanced by Peikoff, et al) will be or even needs to be the major influence to change the culture for the better. It's hardly the only pro-reason, pro-individualist, pro-freedom philosophical influence in the culture -- though I would agree that it is the most consistent.


TRowland's picture

There is much to comment on in your post as well. Thanks for your comments.

I count the universities and colleges as the primary (but not only)transmission belt of explicit philosophical ideas because of the number of people directly or indirectly influenced by them.

For example, when I TA'd in Philosophy at Ohio State (88-90)my students came from a wide variety of intellectual backgrounds, a good portion of them from farming families with strong religious ties. Typically they were computer literate and knew how to argue their positions. Each of them was, at minimum, taught by a bunch of high school teachers and, more than likely, by a religious leader in their community. All of these teachers and religious leaders were educated in a college or university. Granted, many colleges and universities have on-line degrees available, and there are a few who are entirely on-line. Nonetheless, at the head of most people's contact with explicit philosophical ideas is a college or university.

The transmission doesn't stop there of course. Nor is it confined to "serious discussion." You mention PBS content for example. First let's look at "serious" programming. On the PBS Site there are two pages that deal with explicit philosophical ideas under the Life and Culture link -- a)Ideas and Trends and b)Sprituality and Religion. On the first site there are 11 programs and shows listed, on the second 13. There are 4 duplicats. My point here is not the content, per se, but to point out that each of these shows has content provided by people educated at our country's colleges and unversities. Or take a look at the Arts and Drama page. Whether it's Great Performances or Mystery Theatre, the producers, directors, writers -- all educated at a college or university or by someone who was. And, of course, the same applies to "commercial" TV and internet content as well. In other words, the nations colleges and universities remain the primary, first level, transmitor of explicit philosophical ideas.

So if the idea here is to question ARI's focus on educating intellectuals for academic positions at the college and university level I think that there is no evidence that such a focus is misplaced.

Now some specific answers. Who listens to them? One way or another almost everyone. The issue here is not content but position at the head of the culture. It's not 'new' or 'old' but position at the head of the culture. Internet? Most contributors educated downline from college or university. As all of my education demonstrates -- and I assume yours as well -- it's hard to escape the college and university horse that drops postmodern BS into the culture.

Innocuous? The explicit philosophical idea that 'men are boobs that women tolerate out of the kindness of their hearts,'(virtually every situation comedy), 'animals are equal if not superior to human beings (most recent example I've seen is "Over the Hedge"), 'group think is superior to individual thought' or the false dicotomy involved in such a choice ('Cars' being typical; 'House' being the exception with a huge price in personality to pay); 'family life is superior to your career' (even going back as far as Ozzie, who had no visable means of support) are virtually universal.

And who picks "Lawrance Welk" over even light-classical music as a regular part of PBS's lineup? Where are the "Bell Telephone Hour", "The Longuine Symphonette?" The result of consumer choice on the open market? Sure. And who educated that market with the idea that all musics are equal or that music of indigenous peoples is superior? People educated by people who were educated by people who were educated by people in colleges and universities.

Material advances? As I said in my post, science is  always the last to go, since it is  the least influenced by the humanities. But even it is not immune. See David Harriman's excellent articles in Objective Standard.

Yes Ayn Rand is popular.  But also widely misrepresented and misunderstood.  And do they have the influence that moves a culture?  No. You will know that Objectivism has won when an explicit atheist runs for the Senate and wins, when your physics professor doesn't give credence to Schroedinger's cat, when Leonard Bernstein, or his equvilent, doesn't invite Jethro Tull to play with the New York Philharmonic, when the youth market doesn't mean mindless programing.

Where did the 'right-wing revival' come from?  Dare I say 'Yale' from which Buckley graduated? Besides, 'the right-wing revival' was just barely influenced by Rand's ideas as subsiquent events have shown.

When I was growing up in the grades, I was deeply influenced by a drama teacher who read the Bicycle Scene from the Fountainhead to the Drama Class I was in.  Was he an Objectivist? Hardly. Was he educated in the colleges and universities of the time? Of course.

It takes an enormous shift to replace the influence of postmodern crap with Objectivism.  This forum could stand as a prime example.  Robert Tracinski is a good example. I am a good example.  The premises that need to be checked, the integrations that need to be made, are daunting.

We are a long way from a culture dominated by Objectivism.  And a primary, if not only, tool in that shift will be, as it must, the colleges and universities.

Good Question

Jeff Perren's picture

"Why doesn't Tracinski even consider that possibility?" Fred Weiss

Good question. I don't have any inside track, but I'll ask both him and Jack Wakeland. Whether I agree with their answer or not, I'm guessing they'll have something interesting to say. Let's hope they'll answer.


The other possibility

Fred Weiss's picture

The other possibility is that Objectivism is having more of an influence than we realize because much of it is still "under the radar". There is significant evidence of it but it is difficult to prove - and it is nearly impossible to ascertain the extent of the influence. It probably won't be clear as a trend until historians 50-100 years from now see where it is all going. (We're much too close to it).

Why doesn't Tracinski even consider that possibility?

As for the new communication technologies, such as the Internet, I don't believe they have changed anything with regard to how quickly new - and especially, radical - ideas are accepted. Even if you bring a horse to water at a trot or even at a gallop, you still can't make it drink.

Furthermore, ideas moved through the culture faster than we might realize in past times. Tom Paine's "Common Sense" for example went through the Colonies like wildfire and George Washington had it in the hands of his troops almost immediately. Why, you think people are getting their fundamental ideas from TV or the Internet? I don't think so. They bring their already pre-existing ideas to those media and merely get them confirmed, just as they did previously with the printed word. That is, until something radical and new comes along which makes them pause and think - and that takes time to be understood, questioned, absorbed, and accepted. The ideas could be in everyone's hands tomorrow but it could still be generations before they are accepted.

As to the status of reason, reason can be dead *philosophically* but still be alive "practically", i.e., in technology and science - at least for awhile, propelled by past momentum. Look at ancient Rome. But eventually the corrosive influence of anti-reason in philosophy will take over. Look at the prevalence of "junk science" in our current culture as a disturbing symptom of it (there are others).

Interesting comments as always, Tom.

Tom on Transmission

Jeff Perren's picture


There is much of interest in what you say and I'm going to mull it over for a while before responding at any length. But, in the interim, I really wonder if this:

"But they do remain the primary transmission belt for whatever explicit philosophical ideas there are..."

is still true. Forty years ago I would have agreed, even 20 maybe, but today? Since many intellectuals have become so ridiculous (see my post on Light Pollution, for a common enough example), who listens to them but others of their kind?

With the Internet, things have radically changed in our culture in the manner in which ideas are transmitted. Young people look very much to it for news, ideas, cultural values, etc. Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers are turning increasingly to it as well. (Observe also that, at least where I live, the number of left-wing shows on PBS has dropped to near zero -- replaced by innocuous re-runs of Lawrence Welk and Ozzie and Harriet. Not exactly stimulating, but certainly not destructive.)

I'm not suggesting universities are irrelevant (nor is High School where considerable damage and neglect already take place), but they are much less important than they used to be in so far as being "transmission belts", particularly since the overwhelming number of professors no longer have anything new to say, even of the bad sort.

Before I go I have a few other questions on the subject. If Reason is so weak as to be near dead in this culture, where are all these new material advances coming from? Why is Rand's work still so popular? Why are ARI's, Tracinski, et al's op-eds getting published so regularly and widely?

[Update: If the universities dominate the intellectual scene, where did the 'right-wing' revival come from in the first place? And, also, if the professors have the dominant influence, why should we worry about the religious right wing, since they are clearly not dominant in the universities? 12:09 12/25. JP]

I'll give your post more thought; I appreciate your taking the time to express your views.

And Happy Newton's Birthday!



TRowland's picture

some people look at history and ask "what went right?" Others look and ask "what went wrong?"

But surely these are not mutually exclusive questions. And the answer to both of them revolves, as George Baker points out, around the degree to which reason dominates and drives the culture.

The problem that I have with Tracinski's series of articles so far is not that he asks the question that he does, but that he appears to consider the period from 1980 to the present unique in its reliance on reason. As a result he fails to notice (or at least account for the fact) that everything he has said of that period could be said of every advance in human history. So he fails to ask the second question -- "What went wrong (so that the advances only held for a time before they were reversed to some degree)? -- and from this failure makes the monumental leap to the conclusion, explicitely stated, that we must question the historical role that Objectivism claims for "explicit philosophical ideas."

But the reliance on reason for its obvious practical consequences -- no matter how much such a reliance may dominate the culture -- is not, as history shows, enough to sustain its dominance for hundreds of years, much less a mere 26 (the interval between 1980 and the present). What is needed is a culture dominated by the conscious, deliberate, advocacy and wide acceptance and understanding of a set of "explicit philosophical ideas." If those ideas are not adequate to the task -- if they are false or riddled with contradictions, or they are censored and driven underground -- then, again as history shows, the dominance of reason fades and humanity muddles through on whatever remnants remain.

In the past, explicit philosophical ideas have gained dominance from a variety of sources -- from the Greeks to the Church Fathers to the University. Whatever the source, the transmission belt has always been the intellectual leaders of the time who accepted those ideas and advocated them, in turn, to others.

Today, as George points out, the Universities have become corrupted by a set of explicit philosophical ideas that cannot sustain human progress. But they do remain the primary transmission belt for whatever explicit philosophical ideas there are. The consequent abandonment of the professional intellectual by the populace at large in the name of "the respect for reason, however flawed [that respect may be], that is latent in American and European conservatism," is not only not adaquate to the task (precisely because it is flawed)of sustaining the current trend, but is in danger of being driven underground by the very flaw (faith) with which it is riddled in the conservative movement.

The reason that the rise of the religious right in the Republican Party is so worthy of alarm is their clearly demonstrated willingness to use the power of government force to advance their agenda. That agenda includes the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 which is an overt attempt to determine curriculum content at the federal (and thus national) level. This can only, if not stopped, lead to censorship. And that is but one example of the danger.

The tactical and strategic problem for Objectivism is how to gain control of the transmission belt without the use of force (symolized by Galt's refusal to take over the government to enforce his answers).
ARI is doing that on many fronts, including the training and support of what Rand called "the New Intellectuals." What that means is the refusal to abandon the universities to the old guard and the refusal to accept any alternative that threatens the use of force, including, most particularly, censorship, to advance religious faith.

In short, explicit philosophical ideas are required to sustain a reason-based culture and defend it against its most dangerous (because agressive and explicitly anti-reason) current enemy -- the rise of the religious right -- and the party that is its home. (the analogy with the war against Islamism and the regimes that support it should not be overlooked).

Gee. 10 posts in the last

Chris Cathcart's picture

Gee. 10 posts in the last half-day or so and the only one to add anything new of interest is Jeff P. What's all this other crap? A couple duellists baiting one another (one totally clueless about whether MIke Mazza would go around posting here under pseudonyms), and a sanctimonious twat sanctimoniously twatting.

The person who dies at the

PhilipC's picture

The person who dies at the end of a long life having gotten in the final insults toward all his enemies wins.

Mazza clone

sjw's picture

I've never seen the combination of pretension, stupidity, evasiveness, hypocrisy (you after all started the insults here while attacking me for being insulting, and then accused me of doublespeak while you were the one engaged in it, and you accused me of not responding to unspecified points while you failed to respond to points right here, etc. etc. ad nauseum; you're a quintessential hypocrite), and juvenile emotionalist nihilism wrapped up in one person before besides you and Mazza. If you're not the same person, then you're definitely cut from the same cloth.

Mike Mazza?

Michael Moeller's picture

Here are these "suspicions" again, without any proof. Boy have you got objectivity down pat. Get yourself checked out for paranoia too. If you paid any attention to this site, it would obvious that we are different people. Especially in light of the "SOLOC 5 Postponed" thread where Mr. Mazza left Solo. The same thread in which Linz quoted me and which put me on an opposite side of the issue from Mr. Mazza. Now that you are done yet again making a fool of yourself--please buzz off. Jeff relayed a very good analysis on some of the fundamental issues and that should be the focus.


sjw's picture

Michael, if you were actually confident, then you wouldn't embarass yourself as badly as you have by tripping over your own statements, backpeddling, and foaming at the mouth with insult after insult.

Bad Faith...

Michael Moeller's picture

Just like I thought. What are your insights into evidence in this case? That man has free will and that past conduct gives you "suspicion"? Wow, did you just stumble over these insights? Great, so what does your "suspicion" prove in this case? Tell me how that provides relevant evidence in the Trascinski case? You know, the topic of the thread.

Shayne, don't you think I knew that when you first posted that you were ignorant as to the nature of evidence? And instead of answering a question directly, you just call it stupid? Well, then then it should be easy to answer--so answer it. Of course you won't because you don't know what you are talking about.

Then you try to parse sentences for differences in the wording; but if you realized anything it would be that the evidence is what proves a case. So what you call a "far weaker claim" is a separate question: at what point does evidence meet a certain standard of proof? At any rate, anybody who is familiar with evidence would have recognized immediately what I was talking about and been able to provide an answer. But of course you didn't. I laid the out the question knowing full well you weren't familiar with the subject and you leap right into the trap like a buffoon.

Then instead of admitting that you don't know the subject, you again twist and turn, don't answer questions directly, spit out obvious observations like humans have free will (because you don't seem to know much else), then insult and crawl back into your hole. If that's not bad faith, I don't what is.

Anyway, this thread is off track and I'll let Phil and Jeff put it back on track--where it belongs. But what is clear is that you are mentally unstable and should seek some help.


Commentary on Tracinski's What Went Right

Jeff Perren's picture

An excellent commentary on Tracinski's What Went Right. [Posted here, since after going through a half-dozen back pages, and using the search feature as well, I can't find that other thread.]

"I am a big fan of TIA daily and the series "What Went Right?" has been some of the most interesting writing I've seen from an Objectivist in a very long time. I look forward to the completion of the series.

I understand the basic argument as this:

1. Ideas move history.
2. The ideas dominating western civilization are horrible.
3. The west should therefore be a disaster.

Rob goes on to argue that this hasn't happened. That in fact western values and prosperity have been spreading throughout the world at an unprecedented rate. Cultures around the world are demonstrating a new recognition of the importance of man's mind and the need for economic freedom. All of this has been happening while Objectivists have been predicting gloom and doom.

Rob seems to believe that the trouble is in point #1. That either there is a flaw in the principle itself or there is a flaw in the "gloom and doom" crowd's understanding of it.

I'd focus more on point #2. What ARE the ideas dominating western civilization? This is where I think the "gloom and doom" crowd gets it wrong. Probably because they are too focused on the university philosophy departments. I'd argue that the "philosophers" to be found there are befuddled and irrelevant. With the exception of a few renegades - one tellingly wound up in the hands of Hugo Chavez at the UN - they have no point to make and no influence on anything. The ideas that wind up in the heads of decision makers, judges, legislators, and the administration, for the most part have little to do with what goes on in university philosophy departments.

This is certainly true for the Republicans - who have dominated American politics since the 1980s. Republicans are in open rebellion against the universities. They refuse to be influenced by the rot of those institutions. As "conservatives" they are much more aligned with the traditional mix of ideas that formed this country in the first place: religion and reason.

But reason and religion cannot coexist! So gloom and doom! Baloney. Reason and religion have been battling it out since the renaissance. We'd all like for Reason to have a final victory. But so long as it has a fighting chance, to the extent that it holds sway even in competition with faith, humanity will reap the benefits. And we are. And lately even places like China and India are.

This is why, despite Leonard Peikoff's advice, I continue to vote Republican. Within the Republican party there is a battle between reason and religion. Within the Democratic party there is none. They are the party of the universities and they are as befuddled and useless as the non-entities found there.

What Rob's articles illustrate is that there are many honest, rational people out there - and to the extent that they are rational they are doing the world and themselves enormous good. Even if they go to church on Sunday and send their kids to Sunday school. Even if they’ve never even heard of Ayn Rand. Furthermore the number and influence of rational people in the world seems to be increasing. It's ironic that Objectivists, in predicting gloom and doom, have underestimated the power of reason. Even "partially" rational people, like the economist Julian Simon, or Manmohan Singh - prime minister of India, or Kirill a protester from Belarus who wants the freedoms he witnessed in the US and UK, can do enormous good.

In conclusion I'd argue that philosophy does drive history, and that it has been the respect for reason, however flawed, that is latent in American and European conservatism, that has been driving the sucess of the past 25 years." George Baker on The Forum


sjw's picture

Thanks, that means a lot coming from you and Mazza--whoops, I mean, "Moeller".

Time after time I make a

PhilipC's picture

Time after time I make a point on some thoughtful issue on Solo and time after time it is ignored so people can trade insults.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

You're FITH. Fucked In The Head. A waste of space. Get help. Your Therapy Culture friends on O-Lying can point you in the wrong direction I'm sure.

Michael Moeller, far from being "thick" as you suggest, is one very smart, very rational, very passionate cookie. If you were sane you might grasp that.

So never mind.


Blind Rage...

sjw's picture

Wow Moeller, I don't think I've ever seen anyone here so blind with hatred and rage. Is that a pseudonym? Surely I must have done something personal to you to have earned so much of your attention. Or, are you the archtype?

You originally wrote:

"Oh really. Answer me one question: does a pattern of conduct in the past, prove conduct in a subsequent instance?"

While accusing me of double-speak (with no actual evidence, just your foaming at the mouth), you re-phrase this as "In some circumstances, pattern of conduct in the past can serve as evidence to prove a subsequent action."

Well the answer to your original question is "No, because humans have volition. Obviously more is needed than a mere pattern of past conduct to prove something about a future case (as in past ARI injustice proving future injustice)." Hence my statement that "suspicion" is deserved not "indictment in this case". But you twist this with your ironic double-speak from "prove" to "provide evidence for proof", a far weaker kind of claim. The answer to this new question is of course just as obvious as the answer to your other question: both questions are stupid questions. Relative to the kind of intellect that would ask such stupid questions, I guess I would be a "genius", but I never claimed any thing of the sort, nor would I claim it, given a comparison with normal human beings.

Oh, and by the way, you never pointed to any instance where I engaged in "double-speak" (and you're the one that started the insults here, not me).

> It'll be interesting to

PhilipC's picture

> It'll be interesting to see who'll take the reins when Peikoff is gone. Has he designated an 'heir'?

This is an incredibly important decision. Here's pure speculation based on zero inside information:

Most people leave their -monetary- property to their family, which would mean his wife and daughter. It's always possible he could at the same time leave important -intellectual- property (copyrights) to ARI, which as a foundation has enternal life. That would be the smart move since ARI is in the business and have two decades of experience in advancing Ayn Rand's ideas (and Yaron Brook seems quite competent). I know nothing about Amy or Kira, but they haven't spent years making decisions with regard to publishing, contracts, translations, copyrights, litigation, etc.

My view is that a very important use of Rand's copyrights is in a massive translation project of at least one work into each of the major languages of the world, finding and paying very well for the best translators who can be found (previously translations in several cases have been incompetent as have the publishing firms overseas, it seems, in places like Russia). So whoever inherits the right to license copyrights, I would hope would be long-range and farsighted enough to see that pragmatist, religious, relatively anti-intellectual, abyssmally educated America by world standards should not have all the intellectual chips places into its pot.

(NEWSFLASH: I have just received word that I will NOT be inheriting anything since I voted Republican within the last ten years. This removal from Leonard's will, of course, comes as a complete surprise to me.)

Thanks Shayne...

Michael Moeller's picture

That gave me a laugh all day. Self-esteem so thin that even a simple question posed to you sends you directly into insults. Poor Shayne--Linz is right, you are FITH'ed (Fucked In The Head).

So predictable, you walked right into it. I figured, from your post, you were ignorant about the nature of evidence. And I figured if I posed the question that way, you would answer no and probably insult me in the process...and, as usual, you hold true to form.

The problem is: the answer to the question is maybe. In some circumstances, pattern of conduct in the past can serve as evidence to prove a subsequent action. Anybody familiar with the rules of evidence would know that. Whoops!! Slight oversight by genius Shayne. I'll give you a shot to redeem yourself there, genius, and see if you can figure out in what circumstances such evidence would be relevant to proving subsequent conduct. I formed the question precisely and my bank robber example (below) should give you a clue--let's see if genius Shayne can do it. C'mon buddy, you can do it!!

In the past, I saw you squirm your way out of giving definite answer--while at the same time insulting your interlocutors in the process (like the bad faith little weasel you are). I've watched you do it to some good people on this site, like William, James V., Casey, Mike Mazza. And by forcing you to give a definite answer, you won't be able to squirm your way out of it this time with your: "You said, I said, you implied, blah blah blah" obfuscated arguments. I figured if I attacked your arguments outright, you would just resort to distortion mode, as always. Now I'm going to love watching you twist and turn your way out of this one.

Piece of advice Shayne, its one thing to be way out of your element on a certain topic and not know it (as the case here); its another thing to act like a jackass and insult your opponent all the while not knowing what you are talking about. In that case, you make yourself look like a plain fool.

Now that we got that out of the way, I'll dissect your initial statement. You write:

Given the premise that ARI's past ostracisms (like booting George Reisman) were unjustified, then as long as they do nothing to explicitly demonstrate that they've changed, the suspicious attitude Erik has toward them is objectively justified. Indeed, given this premise, *not* regarding this latest event with suspicion would be non-objective.

And what exactly do your "suspicions" prove? Nothing, that's what. Imagine there is a bank robbery in a neighborhood. The police then want to find the robber and look up people in the area that have a history of bank robberies. They find a guy who has had 10 robberies in the past and arrest him. Applying your reasoning to the hypothetical, it would be "non-objective" not to "regard this latest event with suspicion". But what you apparently did not understand in my earlier post, is that this "suspicion" is NOT evidence and proves nothing about the current case. Hello, McFly!!

How about if the bank robber has done "nothing to explicitly demonstrate that he's changed"? Would it shift the burden of proof as you subtly did in the quote above? Of course not, it would still be on the police to prove his guilt from the given facts. So much for your "suspicion" and your "explicit demonstration" to the contrary. Now I think you can apply this to the Trascinki case.

But I am anxious to see if you can connect the dots from the question I posed and the bank robber example and tell me how it could go to proving his guilt in the subsequent case--wanna give it a whirl genius?


Tracinski is getting the axe

Titan's picture

Tracinski is getting the axe in the same manner that G. Reisman did. Bottom line is that Tracinski is better off not being associated with the Leonard Peikoff Institute. It'll be interesting to see who'll take the reins when Peikoff is gone. Has he designated an 'heir'?

I agree Jeff. Sorry for

Titan's picture

I agree Jeff. Sorry for snapping at you.


sjw's picture

Boy how I miss the morons at this site...

"Oh really. Answer me one question: does a pattern of conduct in the past, prove conduct in a subsequent instance?"

Of course not. And nothing I said implied that either, you're obviously just a bit thick.

"Its a simple yes or no question--please don't give me of your convoluted double-speak."

Of course, you have no instance where I used any kind of "double-speak", this is just the typical SoloPassion method of discrediting people.

Still Laughing

James S. Valliant's picture

This time, the pathological knee-jerk against ARI has been caught in slow-mo. "Brushed aside"? "Purged"? Well, can the anti-ARI sleuths figure out why all such Republican-supporters haven't been "purged," then?


Jeff Perren's picture

My comment wasn't intended as condescending, but I can easily see why it would be taken that way.

How about if we shake hands and move the comments off me and onto Tracinksi, ARI, etc.?


(Extends hand...)



Titan's picture

This has nothing to do about 'whining', it was his smugness that I found offensive. And yes, he was being smug. I could take a cheap shot at you too, but I won't, because lord knows Objectivsm has enough characters like yourself running around.

> Phil Despite how much you

PhilipC's picture

> Phil Despite how much you annoy me I want you to know that I am still a big fan.

Thanks, Jason... I think? Smiling


Michael Moeller's picture

Fair enough. I can see how it might have sounded a little condescending, but I think he was just saying use the facts to prove your case. If you're just going to rant about Peikoff, then that will prove nothing and nobody is going to listen.

Oh really. Answer me one question: does a pattern of conduct in the past, prove conduct in a subsequent instance? Its a simple yes or no question--please don't give me of your convoluted double-speak.



Jason Quintana's picture

Despite how much you annoy me I want you to know that I am still a big fan. Smiling

- Jason

> it was his "friendly

PhilipC's picture

> it was his "friendly advice" statement I didn't care for.

Tough. Stop whining and grow a thicker skin. It's not like he called you dishonest.


Titan's picture

I can respect what Jeff was saying about the Tracinski situation, it was his "friendly advice" statement I didn't care for.

I have no idea ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

.... if this was a "purge" or what. Evidently not, from what Jeff has posted. I started this thread because SOLO had been accused of brushing the matter under the carpet. In any event, I should report here that I have just received a very *friendly* note from the ARI apologising for an "accidental glitch" that may have resulted in my being removed from the op-ed distribution list, and asking that I resend the e-mails to Yaron Brook to which he didn't reply, since he doesn't recall getting them. The latter is no biggie, but in conjunction with the former, and with both occurring from the time I took issue with Peikoff's voting "advice" ... well, what was a naughty boy to think?! Anyway, it would seem whoever's been purged, I haven't. I'll have to try harder. Smiling


Erik is right

sjw's picture

Given the premise that ARI's past ostracisms (like booting George Reisman) were unjustified, then as long as they do nothing to explicitly demonstrate that they've changed, the suspicious attitude Erik has toward them is objectively justified. Indeed, given this premise, *not* regarding this latest event with suspicion would be non-objective.


J. Heaps-Nelson's picture


I think Jeff is simply asking that in the early stages of this thing, as it develops, that we gather more information and sift it more carefully. It is all too easy on the internet to pop off half-cocked. That's OK sometimes, but it's a better mental habit to make sure our words count for something.


Oh, I see...

Michael Moeller's picture

Erik. Jeff asks you for evidence supporting your claim and your response is to call that "immature smugness"? Even though all you seem to need to make a judgment is your opinion of Peikoff and some unnamed past conduct? Even if the past conduct was true, surely you understand that it does not prove it in this case? But hey, why let objectivity get in the way of your personal bias?


J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Jeff P,

Thanks for pointing out some of the facts you have. I was unaware of some of the mutuality of this. I think, though, that this is sort of a canary in the coal mine indicating whether ARI can maintain some degree of heterogeneity of viewpoints within their ranks.



Titan's picture

Use your immature smugness on someone else.


Jeff Perren's picture

"Peikoff ostracizing Tracinski because of political disagreements"

Even though, as Jack points out, Tracinski left ARI voluntarily over a year ago? Even though he posted Thompson's article? Even though you have no evidence in this case for any of your statements?

Apparently your disdain for Dr. Peikoff has outrun your objectivitity, so I'll stop arguing the point here.

Erik, I'm not trying to start a fight, but at the risk of being pompous, let me offer you some friendly advice. If you want to pummel those you despise, stand on firm factual ground. Your audience will pay much more attention to you and your blows will be much more effective.


Titan's picture

Given ARI/Peikoff's track record of inquisitions with those that disagree with him I am inclined to judge the matter, with the facts I have gathered thus far, as Peikoff ostracizing Tracinski because of political disagreements, or for the layman,"it's my way, or the highway". Peikoff is NOT Objectivism, and yet he thinks he is the ONLY individual on earth (ultimately) who truly understands or can advocate the entire philosophy!-and those that are at ARI are only really there because of their sympathies towards HIS view of Objectivist epistemology. Obviously, Peikoff would never say that de facto, but it can be assumed with near certainty by his actions and his very own statements.

Check Again

Jeff Perren's picture


I'm told (I've only done a spot check myself) that the tag line to which you refer is placed on all ARI material. You are connecting dots with an imaginary line. Also, I believe they have pointed readers to a location where they may obtain information about Tracinski's writing. ARI is not likely to bother to do that with someone of whom they disapprove, or whose work they think destructive.

Maybe they just got tired of answering queries about work from someone no longer employed by ARI?

Also, Tracinski recently reprinted Thompson's Decline and Fall of American Conservatism article on his blog. Would Thompson allow that if he were quaking under orders from 'on high'?

Even if, and to the extent that, animosity against ARI is justified on the basis of past events, it's unreasonable to suggest ulterior motives in this case -- without evidence -- that it's true in this case.

Oh, it's a purge for sure.

Titan's picture

Oh, it's a purge for sure. He may have stopped writing op-eds for them for the reasons that you've stated Jeff, but if you read the fine print 'release' statement at the end of Tracinski's articles at ARI it says,"The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead". That statement clearly infers that Mr. Trancinski is no longer an approved intellectual/speaker for Ayn Rand or objectivism, in ARI's(Peikoff's) opinion. If you want to be on "the list" at ARI then you have to be Peikoff's bitch. I'm certain that those who are close in the ARI/Peikoff circle aint going to say shit about it because they're scared shitless that they'll get the axe, too.

A Reliable Source Says...

Jeff Perren's picture

Those interested in hearing from a knowledgeable source on the issue may find this worth reading:

"Rob Tracinski stopped writing OpEds for ARI about 3-1/2 years ago, he quit his employment there 3 years ago, and completed the last of his writing courses that were contracted through ARI 1-1/2 years ago.

Back in 2003 Rob told me that he quit writing for ARI because he was tired of dealing with their slow and extensive editorial reviews. He did not want to spend his time and effort waiting on others for approval to use their press, not when he had one of his own."

Jack Wakeland on The Forum

That doesn't sound like any sort of purge to me.

This is the same Ed Hudgins ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... remember, who declined to respond to an earlier equivalent of the Turandot Challenge, one directed his way, now re-stickied, in case he changes his mind. Smiling He didn't remove me from his op-ed distribution list, though, or object to their being posted on SOLO even with irreverent barbs attached from moi, and has maintained cordiality towards me in private notwithstanding our sharp and ongoing differences. Good-faith cordiality without false pretences on either side. Something to be said for that.


That KASSless S.O.B. said

Chris Cathcart's picture

That KASSless S.O.B. said that we should be all getting along?


On Getting Along

Daniel Walden's picture

I think that we can all agree with that in principle. Objectivists, however, have a difficulty that other groups do not (or at least not as much): a serious Objectivist allows for no middle ground between right and wrong. We are all quite capable of acknowledging that someone else is, on the whole, a good and reasonable human being. However, when we get to debating with one another, the differences immediately begin to leap out like figures on a bas relief. My theory is that we Objectivists are so used to disagreeing with damn near everyone around us that we sometimes magnify disagreements in our own ranks beyond their just proportions. This is not a commentary on recent events at SOLO; I am not sufficiently immersed in politics to be able to make a final judgment, although I am working to remedy that as quickly as possible.

Can't we all get along is a bit cliche

Jason Quintana's picture

But in principle I agree with Ed's sentiments. I hope (though I am not necessarily optimistic) that SOLO can aim more in that direction. The trouble with internet message boards (especially ones with the "any topic is fair game" philosophy like SOLO) is that they are hotbeds for infighting and dramatic breakups.

I don't think Objectivists (yes, even ARI Objectivists) out in the real world are constantly fighting, breaking and denouncing each other, their friends, family etc (which is why this Tracinski incident is noteworthy). I hope that outsiders don't get that impression. That is a weird message board phenomenon.

Sometimes this infighting really is necessary. Because of the recent elections incident I think a serious stand had to be made against Peikoff and company and I'm happy that this took place on SOLO. Some of the people involved (unlike me) even managed to remain civil about it and for that they deserve extra credit.

- Jason

Aiming Poisoned Arrows..

I like the competition! Let's just recall that this isn't a contest between ARI, TAS, SOLO, etc. this is a contest between right and wrong, good and evil, life and death. For years people have been stripped of their ability to discern truth from falsehood, sinner from saint, friend from foe. Objectivism is the tool they need. Our groups are the outlet. We should work together where we can, learn from each other where possible, and when the need arises whack each other on the head.


Islam insofar as it is directed by governments, and as a measure enforced from above by any government, is to be done away with.


Boaz the Boor's picture

Tracinski and ARI haven't been working together for quite some time. ARI (with or without Tracinski's blessing) made it official.

Disagreement exists. Sometimes it's important. Once in a while, disagreement becomes irreconcilable and important enough to sever professional, intellectual or political ties.

I'm trying very, very hard to keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head. These are serious times. Was Christopher Hitchens "purged" from "The Nation" in 2001 when he stopped writing columns for them? Did he "purge" them? No. He was tired of the looney-tunes left; they were tired of him. They fought, they sparred, they wished each other well (some of them, anyway) and went on their merry way.

Grow Up!

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