Opening Salvo

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Wed, 2012-05-09 19:35

Rand created Randroidism. It was a serious moral failing on her part -- but she did it. Ayn Rand was the first Objectivist to excommunicate her friends and allies, such as philosopher John Hospers in 1961 and psychologist Nathaniel Branden in 1968. She claimed they were disloyal to her personally and hostile to her intellectually. This was untrue and unjust. They were simply practitioners of reason and individualism who declined to follow her in a robotic and zombie-like manner.

But the evils of philosophical Randroidism and social excommunication continued long after Rand's death in 1982. One prominent group of would-be Objectivists practice this intellectual and personal enormity to this day.

In 1989 the Randroids Peter Schwartz and Leonard Peikoff excommunicated David Kelley from the still highly religious and cultish Objectivist Movement. So he started a new and better one. Kelley formed a genuinely philosophical and rational Objectivist organization. Thus he is a true hero, and the world is notably better off for having him. Champions of reason, philosophy, Objectivism, and Ayn Rand owe him a great deal.

It may be worthwhile, however, to revisit the beginning of today's relatively healthy, normal, and reason-based Objectivist Movement: of Objectivism considered as a thought-system and philosophy -- not a religion or cult.

Cultist Peter Schwartz began his intellectual purge and personal excommunication of supposed dissident and disloyalist David Kelley on February 28th, 1989. He did so with a brief article called 'On Sanctioning the Sanctioners' in the publication The Intellectual Activist, which he edited. Here is the article:


'On Sanctioning the Sanctioners'
by Peter Schwartz

Ayn Rand's principle of not sanctioning evil has an aspect that some TIA readers apparently do not see. It is clear why one should not, for example, sell goods to totalitarian states or provide shelter to escaping criminals or work as a PLO fund-raiser. Assisting one's philosophical enemies--i.e., those who hold values fundamentally antithetical to one's own--is ultimately harmful to one's own interests. And the corollary of this principle is: neither should one sanction the sanctioners of one's philosophical enemies--e.g., the Armand Hammers and Donald Kendalls who have blazed the trail for trading with the Soviet government. It is irrelevant that such people may profess to be strongly anti-communist. They are in fact abetting communism--both materially and intellectually--thereby increasing the threat to the values of human life and liberty, and they deserve to be ostracized for it.

Two other, equivalent examples of philosophical enmity are of particular interest to TIA--and to those readers who have asked me why, in their words, "honest differences of opinion" cause me to dissociate from certain individuals who "still agree with your basic philosophy." The first example is that of Libertarianism. Libertarians are patently not allies in the ideological battle for capitalism, regardless of how many free-market positions they may claim to endorse. Nor are those who support them (i.e., those who contribute to the Libertarian Party or lend their names to Libertarian magazines or promote Libertarian bookstores or serve as after-dinner speakers at Libertarian functions). They are all in fact furthering ideas and values fundamentally inimical to those of Objectivism. Consequently, TIA's editorial masthead, as well as Second Renaissance Book's catalogue of authors, categorically excludes anyone who openly preaches Libertarianism--or who supports the preachers. It is dishonest and self-defeating to treat such people as partners in the cause of reason, egoism and capitalism. They are not.

The second example pertains to one's view of Ayn Rand. There are those who, not content to distort and disparage Objectivism, feel compelled to smear Ayn Rand as well. They launch hostile personal attacks against her--they denounce her for allegedly causing those who agree with her to live unhappy lives--they concoct ax-grinding, arbitrary psychologizings about her--they strive to tarnish her achievements and to "humanize" her character by bringing her down to their own sorry level. This attitude, unsurprisingly, generally goes hand-in-hand with a sympathetic view of Libertarianism, and I disavow both camps for the same reason: they represent irrational, unjust assaults upon profoundly important values. I have no significant values in common with those who explicitly hold such odious views--nor with those who, by their actions, implicitly endorse them. If those views constitute "honest" disagreement on the part of people objectively seeking the truth--then the concepts "honesty," "objectivity" and "truth" have been stripped of all rational meaning; and then everything, from communism and religion to terrorism and Libertarianism, becomes just a matter of opinion. Those who hold such a position are free to peddle their beliefs wherever they wish--but will simply have to do so without my cooperation.

The basic thrust of Peter Schwartz's argument and ad hominem attack is Galt forbid someone should dare to praise libertarianism or libertarians, or critique Objectivism and Ayn Rand, however truthfully and justly, and with whatever motivation of honesty and virtue. Schwartz implies that libertarianism is infinitely false and evil -- or close to it -- and that Objectivism is infinitely good and great -- or close to it. Thus the great, unbreakable, unquestionable Commandment is: Never speak well of proponents of libertarianism or libertarians, nor critics of Objectivism or Ayn Rand.

But this principle is something that the pseudo-Objectivist religiosos and cultists already understand well.

The fundamental argument from Schwartz is that anyone who seeks to bring a measure of balance and sanity to the Objectivist Movement on these controversial issues -- anyone who seeks to see them in context, or with an impartial and objective eye towards reality, or with any kind of subtlety and nuance -- is pretty much vermin to be shunned. All their words should be censored from Objectivist literature and all their persons expunged from Objectivist groups.

This fatwa evidently needs to be obeyed immediately and for all time, with no further explanation offered or thought needed. Schwartz seems to be speaking ex cathedra, as one from an exalted, holy, and uncriticizable Objectivist leadership. One gathers the impression that there are to be no further doubts or questions on the four subjects above ever again!

After all, he tacitly reasons, Ayn Rand passionately -- if rather briefly and unfairly -- denounced libertarianism and libertarians. So what if she was somewhat unclear and unjust as to exactly why she hated them? The fact is -- she did.

Case closed. Our leader and Fuhrer has spoken. If you don't believe me -- Schwartz suggests -- check out her perfect Writ and consult the philosophy's divine Scripture on the subject. Libertarianism and libertarians are basically monstrous. On this controversial question -- as on all others -- defer to Rand's authority, and take it on faith. And as for those who, Galt forbid, negatively appraise aspects of Objectivism and Ayn Rand -- they're worse than monstrous.

This is pretty much Peter Schwartz's argument.

In a very real sense Schwartz claims that political libertarians and critics of philosophical Objectivism are just as evil as Armand Hammer and Donald Kendall. He says that libertarian beliefs and anti-Objectivist theories are just as false and destructive as communism, religion, and terrorism.

His essay further argues that those who say otherwise are necessarily not expressing honest disagreement based upon sincere differences of opinion; nor do such intellectual dissidents and Objectivist heretics know much about the very concepts of honesty, objectivity, and truth. Quite a claim from a top-to-bottom religious fraud like Schwartz!

Reading his shrill piece one gets the impression that good people shouldn't even "sanction" those who sanction those who sanction the pro-libertarian or anti-Objectivist sanctioners. Perhaps four levels of remove is needed for such philosophical and cultural devils! Objectivists of whatever level of integrity, honesty, and courage who offer even the tiniest amount of political admiration for libertarianism and libertarians -- or intellectual condemnation for isolated elements of Objectivism and Ayn Rand -- are evidently Satanic in their moral depravity.

At some point the question has to be asked: If the religious and cultist Objectivist pretenders wish to close off all discussion with and about libertarianism and libertarians, then what and who else do they also find verboten? Is it permissible to talk to conservatives and Republicans? Even tho' many of them hated her and virulently opposed her thought-system, Ayn Rand spoke to them all of her life. Is it tolerable to talk to progressives and Democrats? Ayn Rand certainly didn't openly advocate shunning them. And even when it comes to libertarianism and the libertarians, it has to be noted that the former Objectivist leader Leonard Peikoff engaged these ideas and people in 1982, in New York, at Laissez-Faire Books -- seven years before Kelley was excommunicated for the same sin. So did current Objectivist leader Yaron Brook in 2010, in London, at the Oxford Libertarian Society. And neither Peikoff, nor Kelley, nor Brook was "sanctioning" or advancing the cause of evil then.

The obvious point is that rarely, if ever, is a competent Objectivist intellectual morally sanctioning libertarianism when he's specifically morally condemning it. Rarely, if ever, is a competent Objectivist intellectual acting against the philosophy of Objectivism when he's specifically promoting it. This includes whether he's championing it to conservatives, progressives, libertarians, communists, Christians, Muslims, or anyone else.

The truth is that engaging your enemies in intellectual dispute doesn't always involve appeasing and surrendering to them. The fact is that to leave something open to political and philosophical discussion is not to leave everything open. And those who support or advocate communism, religion, or terrorism are only rarely intellectually and morally similar to those who promote libertarianism or critique Objectivism. Reasonable people can disagree about just who and what is worth debating, but this hardly reduces everyone and everything in the world to Schwartz's "just a matter of opinion."

Facts and truth exist. Some ideas and people are indeed so false and evil as to be not worth debating. Sometimes discussions are counter-productive. But even debating communism, religion, and terrorism with hard-line, extremist communists, religionists, and terrorists -- depending on how you do it -- isn't necessarily a sanction of evil. It's mostly a factor of what you say and how you say it. Proper intellectuals can win the battle of ideas in many different ways.

Under our noble and well-established Western liberal standards of intellectual speculation and philosophizing, even truly monstrous thinkers and activists, such as communists, religionists, and terrorists, can and should be interacted with from time to time. But forbidding engagement and discussion with intellectual semi-opponents -- and censoring and purging philosophical semi-antagonists -- is the practice of religionists. And categorically refusing to debate "enemies," while icily excommunicating "dissidents," is the act of cultists. True champions of Rand aren't Randroids.


( categories: )

Kyrel

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You say:

Lindsay -- I've asked you this before: What in the world is "Brandroidism"? You, or someone, needs to define the term. If it means acknowledging the philosophical and psychological accomplishments of Nathaniel Branden, then I suppose I, and many other non-religious Objectivists, are guilty. But that isn't a legitimate term, as far as I can tell. I think Branden the person, as well as Branden the thinker, needs to be placed alongside Rand, Hayek, von Mises, Mills, Bastiat, Jefferson, Voltaire, Locke, Smith, Bacon, Zeno the Stoic, Epicurus, Aristotle, etc., and then evaluated objectively, truthfully, and insightfully.
The fact is, philosophy has frequently fallen into religiosity and cultism for 2600 years now. It's a terrible personal error and intellectual perversion which is to be avoided. Aristotelian Scholasticism and Objectivist Randroidism are two such recent philosophical failures. Studying the various theories and ideas of Nathaniel Branden -- and admitting when he's diserned the truth -- is not.

I, for one, don't know that Brandroidism is a description of a real phenomenon, or that real Brandroids actually exist.

Now, I have already defined "Brandroidism" in my Linzisms as follows:

Worshippers at the various shrines to Nathan and Babs Branden. Sycophants who exhibit precisely the same blind devotion to the Brandens that the Brandens ascribe to Randroids when it comes to Rand. Committed to moral equivalence and/or outright moral inversion and the avoidance of moral judgment, except moral judgment against anger. Anger in the Brandroid lexicon is not merely the biggest sin (except when it's their own) but the only sin. Brandroids readily look past the lying, smearing and opportunistic gold-digging of their icons.

No one can read Valliant's book without realising Branden is a feelingless psychopath, and Babs the Pathological Smearer is barely better. Their worshippers, the real-life Brandroids whose existence you deny, Kyrel, gather at places like O-Lying where criticism of the Brandens is explicitly verboten. I'm the first to agree with you about Binswanger, Schwartz and other Randroids, but I'm not oblivious to the Brandroids. I've had direct experience of both, so I know whereof I speak.

And Ross is wrong to say SOLO is not a place where difficult issues can be teased out and where folk simply defend entrenched positions. Hell, just look at the recent IP debates and the ongoing ejaculations of Goblians. It was Ross who attacked me and did one of his frequent flounces over my allowing Goblians Baade and Rosie into my living room. I had this naive notion that if I wanted to debate Goblianity in my living room it was somehow my business, not that of some self-appointed ideology nazi on my own site.

I'll say it yet again: if we Objectivists say the battle for the future is a battle of ideas, then we must engage in it. That engagement should always be passionate. This passionate engagement must not be mistaken for religiosity. That is a fallacy perpetrated the by the Brandroid religiosi.

The Attitude and Approach of Schwartz '89 Lives and Thrives

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

It's a moral abomination that the Lyndon LaRouchies and Scientologists behind 'Objectivist (sic) Answers' dare to call themselves Objectivists. You won't get much truth about reality and life from these guys. And what you will hear will just be used to pervert and subvert you. These zombies and vampires will eat your brain and take your soul.

What a horror that some sweet and noble young kid -- truly seeking answers and wanting to know the truth -- might run across this web site. Think of all the innocence lost and ravaged. And think of the heartless malevolence behind such an endeavor. Idealistic and fiery teenagers and college kids will pretty much see their chances to live a happy life terminated if they follow along too much with this calculated depravity and intellectual rot. And I bet anything Peikoff, Schwartz, Binswanger, and Brook all support this abomination.

Who said that, Kyrel?

Ross Elliot's picture

Was that an answer to a question?

Hilarious

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

'Objectivist (sic) Answers' -- I love it! The zombies state:

"You are not an Objectivist if you consider yourself to be a libertarian (or associate with the Libertarian Party), advocate revising Objectivism (like David Kelley's "open system"), or associate with false advocates of Objectivism (like David Kelley, Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, and Chris Sciabarra)."

Three pure lies. Who are the pathetic vermin behind this monstrosity?

Groups...

Ross Elliot's picture

...tend to attract their own, for sure. And they tend to cater to an orthodoxy. They also tend to act as an ambush mechanism whereby dissenters are fired upon from a great height. You see it everywhere, you see it on SOLO. Anyone can come in, but they should expect a rough jury.

That is as it is. The opposite is a site like Objectivist Answers where questions are asked and answered.

Frankly, if I wanted to *enquire* about Objectivism, a site like SOLO is not the place to come. And, to be clear, SOLO is not in anyway deficient, it's Lindsay's blog, albeit in an extended form. But primarily it's a site dedicated to commentary. This is typical of thousands of sites and it's perfectly legitimate. But it's not inclined towards a Q+A. It's about stating a position and defending it.

Free from Religiosity

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Ross -- I don't know your thinking well enough to tell you why you're not a religioso, or even if you're not. But I certainly think proper, rational, liberal, philosophical organizations can exist. They aren't illegitimate and corrupt on their face. But such groups welcome doubting, questioning, and dissent. It's a fun, interesting, intellectual challenge, and potentially fruitful exchange for them.

The only exceptions are if the challenger or dissenter is remarkably foolish and corrupt; or unusually disrespectful and impolite; or the issue being considered has recently been answered to death. In the case of the latter, the philosophical group leaders should refer the truth-seeker to the established written answer, or else to a lesser intellectual, who will hopefully, helpfully reply. Never should you excommunicate the disputant. Only religious groups and leaders do that.

Brandroidism?

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Lindsay -- I've asked you this before: What in the world is "Brandroidism"? You, or someone, needs to define the term. If it means acknowledging the philosophical and psychological accomplishments of Nathaniel Branden, then I suppose I, and many other non-religious Objectivists, are guilty. But that isn't a legitimate term, as far as I can tell. I think Branden the person, as well as Branden the thinker, needs to be placed alongside Rand, Hayek, von Mises, Mills, Bastiat, Jefferson, Voltaire, Locke, Smith, Bacon, Zeno the Stoic, Epicurus, Aristotle, etc., and then evaluated objectively, truthfully, and insightfully.

The fact is, philosophy has frequently fallen into religiosity and cultism for 2600 years now. It's a terrible personal error and intellectual perversion which is to be avoided. Aristotelian Scholasticism and Objectivist Randroidism are two such recent philosophical failures. Studying the various theories and ideas of Nathaniel Branden -- and admitting when he's diserned the truth -- is not.

I, for one, don't know that Brandroidism is a description of a real phenomenon, or that real Brandroids actually exist.

So where did I...

Ross Elliot's picture

...go wrong?

"It's not as if they merely have a superior version of Greco-Roman and Enlightenment liberal thought. They have "the truth," and you better not philosophically doubt or question any more, or you get met with blinding hatred and summary excommunication. Discussion and debate dies under them, censorship of dissent and rewriting of history (not refutation of error) is the norm, and you're no longer allowed to breath or live or be free.

The pseudo-Objectivst cultists are far stronger, and do far more damage, than you or practically anyone else supposes, Brant. Randroids are like Platonists and Kantians. They brutally undercut you in ways you can't see or defeat. The young, innocent, weak, and defenseless suffer enormously at their hands."

How do I not see Objectivism as a religion? I read everything Rand wrote by the time I was 25, yet I didn't become a religionist. Why I am not a true disciple, that is, unthinking and uncritical of all things Rand espoused?

For mine, I'll tell you why: I've always regarded Objectivism as a method and not as an edifice. The great lesson I took from Rand was always to check my premises. That is: why do I think this way? Why do I find some things repugnant and others wonderful?

I've deliberately shied away from membership in any organisation, including those that espouse Objectivism. I'll take it on my own, thanks. I'm smarter than any group, not because I'm a genius, but because I resile from any idea of conformity and I think that stands me in good stead. I'll check my own premises and I'll not have them checked for me.

I'm not agin organised Objectivism. But organisations come with caveats: they only stretch so far, they excommunicate, or they explode. I prefer to think that Rand would have welcomed a thinking heterodoxy to a blind orthodoxy.

Ross

Richard Goode's picture

Remind me, Richard ... who are you supporting in the 2012 US election race?

Ron Paul.

Kyrel

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm not averse to your hypothesis. I have real-life experience of it. But what's yours?

And you fail to acknowledge that Brandroidism, of which you, Kyrel, are a fan, is just as dangerous as Randroidism. And it involves more lying and smearing than the ARI has done.

Forgive me, but I suspect the apologists for Brandroidism are ex or current patients of the charlatan Nathan. Are you, Kyrel? I hope not.

Intellectuals Rule the Earth; Always Have and Always Will

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Brant wrote:

"You put so much power into philosophy you turn intellectual twits into effective monsters. The power of right philosophy is revealed and established over centuries. "Atlas Shrugged" has failed, so far, to head off the disaster of a disintegrating culture, so how could the comparatively jejune Objectivism have done it, short term to this day, even if all the Objectivists and "Randroids" had done the "right" thing?"

I think the ARIans and other Randroids are monsters. They summarily destroy the individual happiness of anyone who falls into their clutches. They're like Christian missionaries and other do-gooders: they show you some good and superior stuff from their culture, then they seek to mentally capture and enthrall you, and then they rigorously enforce other darker elements. Objectivism in their evil hands both liberates you from a lot of the ignorance and depravity of our post-modern Dark Age, and irrational, illiberal world; but it also enslaves you to their oddball religion and cult. Your heart and spirit dies once you fall into their clever, intricate trap. They joyously kill them.

It's not as if they merely have a superior version of Greco-Roman and Enlightenment liberal thought. They have "the truth," and you better not philosophically doubt or question any more, or you get met with blinding hatred and summary excommunication. Discussion and debate dies under them, censorship of dissent and rewriting of history (not refutation of error) is the norm, and you're no longer allowed to breath or live or be free.

The pseudo-Objectivst cultists are far stronger, and do far more damage, than you or practically anyone else supposes, Brant. Randroids are like Platonists and Kantians. They brutally undercut you in ways you can't see or defeat. The young, innocent, weak, and defenseless suffer enormously at their hands.

Remind me, Richard...

Ross Elliot's picture

...who are you supporting in the 2012 US election race?

Kyrel

Brant Gaede's picture

You put so much power into philosophy you turn intellectual twits into effective monsters. The power of right philosophy is revealed and established over centuries. "Atlas Shrugged" has failed, so far, to head off the disaster of a disintegrating culture, so how could the comparatively jejune Objectivism have done it, short term to this day, even if all the Objectivists and "Randroids" had done the "right" thing? This country is increasingly addicted to other people's money. When that is gone and the addict is wandering the streets looking for his next fix that isn't there he can start producing or perish, like so many of his victims have already done.

--Brant

Translation

Richard Goode's picture

...I'll back a libertarian to the hilt.

Translation: ... I'll stick the knife in.

(Ross voted for the National socialists.)

Kyrel

Leonid's picture

"Leonid -- The Randroids are considerably responsible for most of today's potential apocalypses"

This is a classical example of blame culture. Remember Objectivism is a philosophy which teaches that man has to live mainly by himself and for himself. That means that he's responsible for his failures, not Dr. Peikoff.

Maturity Protects Immensely

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Tom -- You're luckier than you realize. Rand is deadly to teens. Five times more powerful than Nietzsche. Simply overwhelming. Certainly she was to me.

She should have discussed the issues, and imparted the truth, in the Aristotelian manner. Or in the American Scholar, Commentary, and other sophisticated cultural review monthlies/quarterlies manner. But she didn't. Sad

A lot of it is about the time when you started interest in Rand

Tom Burroughes's picture

In my personal case, I came to an appreciation of the Objectivist point of view relatively late in my own intellectual development, having been a libertarian free marketeer long before. So I kind of missed any early "Randroidism" tendencies; I also completely sidestepped some of the early factional infighting and still tend to ignore it. So I can, without sounding too precious about it, take the best and leave some of the nonsense on the side. Which is as it should be.

They Undermine Objectivism; I Undermine Them

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Lindsay -- I did indeed have plenty of dreadful experiences with them as an adolescent, and still do. And I interact with and talk to them continually, as it happens. Possibly I need to considerably enhance my recruitment skills! But I'm far more interested in truth-seeking than persuasion. It's much more fun!

But you're right: Randroidism is dying out. Still, it's sometimes good to kick a man when he's down (like when he's a monster or enemy).

Just as the Dark Age Scholastics weren't really advocates of or friends with Aristotelianism, so too the ARIans aren't really advocates of or friends with Objectivism. My approach to all of this is different from everybody else on earth, evidently. Henry David Thoreau once observed that: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." I like to strike at the root.

For mine...

Ross Elliot's picture

...I'll back a libertarian to the hilt.

I'll back them because I understand the idea of advancing the ball. The collectivists are masters at advancing the ball, compromising and swallowing the bitter pill. But they move forward, and now they rule the world.

I've recently been studying the Sixties and the momentum that lead to Woodstock. It struck me that the disparity between the various groups was profound. But they all came together in some kind of explosion that dropped fireballs into our time and created the world we now live in.

Take what you can and play the long game.

The Church of Objectivism

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Leonid -- The Randroids are considerably responsible for most of today's potential apocalypses (from the Muslim and communist countries and activists, mostly) because they badly undercut the world's most liberal (as I define it) philosophy and antidote/defense to today's terrifyingly irrational and illiberal Dark Age. As for the specifics of their religiosity and evil, it's largely in the essay above, as well as the Objectivism section of my recent book.

Kyrel

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm wondering what dreadful experiences with Randroids you must have had as a child. I've had my own issues with the religiosi over the years, as you know, but this:

At the very least, Leonard Peikoff, Peter Schwartz, Harry Binswanger, and Yaron Brook need to fall to their knees and beg mankind apology for their very existences. If the world suffers a nuclear or bio-chemical cataclysm which claims more than hundred million lives, they will bear a large part of the responsibility. If not, they're still guilty of much of the world's current political enslavement. They neutered, gutted, and nullified the greatness and liberating power of Objectivism with their loathsome and ludicrous cultism.

is way over the top. We already have had a philosophical/cultural cataclysm, by attrition. They who perpetrated it, or failed to speak out against it, are the guilty ones, not Peikoff et al, who fought it. Ditto when the military/economic cataclysm occurs. The bulk of humanity will be getting exactly what it deserves. Just look at the asinine inanity that clutters up Faecesbook. Millions of narcissistic pygmies talking past each other with numbing banalities while the world burns. And they all have the vote. They are far more lethal to liberty than Schwartz. He was not an edifying standard-bearer for Objectivism, I'll grant, but he's gone now. You write as though there's been some fresh outbreak of cultism, when in fact I believe the powers that be have been trying to put cultism behind them (a task made more difficult, of course, by the fact that they won't admit it was *ever* a problem!). Making off-the-wall assertions about the principals of yore is probably not going to help the process!

Those mad statements aside, I agree with you in general. ARI needs to be friendly and open, and TAS needs to KASS up (which it has done significantly via Hudgins' terrific op-eds). But there's only so much one can do. If most of humanity is hell-bent on the ways of destruction, a few Objectivists, however exemplary, are unlikely to be able to change that.

Kyrel

Leonid's picture

I definitely wouldn't call Leonard Peikoff, Peter Schwartz, Harry Binswanger, and Yaron Brook blind loyalists, although they have their flaws. And why you think they are responsible for the allegedly coming world cataclysm or current political enslavement? What is the Objectivist religious part you refer to? Where did you see an Objectivist church or rites or worship? I don't say that they beyond suspicion, but please try to be little bit more specific in your criticism.

True Enemies of Objectivism and Ayn Rand

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Leonid -- At the very least, Leonard Peikoff, Peter Schwartz, Harry Binswanger, and Yaron Brook need to fall to their knees and beg mankind apology for their very existences. If the world suffers a nuclear or bio-chemical cataclysm which claims more than hundred million lives, they will bear a large part of the responsibility. If not, they're still guilty of much of the world's current political enslavement. They neutered, gutted, and nullified the greatness and liberating power of Objectivism with their loathsome and ludicrous cultism.

Randian thought is truly great. But only when you leave the religious parts out. There's a certain moderate projected Randian attitude, atmosphere, and tone of voice that needs to be overcome. There's a certain moderate between-the-lines message of authoritarianism and faith that needs to be risen above.

But it's not that hard. All you have to do is try not to be scumbag for three seconds in a row. All you have to do is think once in a great long while.

Objectivism should be treated as a serious philosophy and thought-system worth of respectful consideration -- not a nightmare religion of blind loyalists and semi-free-thinking apostates forever at war with each other. Peikoff, Schwartz, Binswanger, Brook, etc. are moral monsters and human destroyers worthy of the highest condemnation.

History will certainly judge them thus. For all their weakness, current libertarians and atheists are not the enemy. They're today's human liberators. The Randroids above are the enemy.

Please, take it easy!!

Leonid's picture

"I think atheists are natural allies of Objectivism too."

Please, take it easy! Marx, Lenin and Stalin were atheists too. I think that everybody who accept the basic principals of Objectivism is welcome to participate in any of ARI's teaching courses. As for apology-ARI is not a person. Who personally in your opinion has to apologize and to whom?

Libertarians and ARI

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Leonard -- I mostly agree. But Rand spoke of a natural collectivist-altruist-mysticist axis. I think a libertarian-individualist-reasonist axis is just as natural.

I think atheists are natural allies of Objectivism too.

But do you really think libertarians are welcome at ARI today? Have the ARIans ever apologized for previous insults and hostility to them?

Kyrel Zantonavitch

Leonid's picture

"One simple issue which Ayn Rand evidently missed -- and thus the considerably brain-dead, faith-based, Objectivist Community also missed for 30 years -- is that people naturally and healthily have much more of an interest in politics than an interest in philosophy."

You miss that politics is also a philosophy and without sound philosophical basis all political debates become meaningless floating abstractions. It is not enough that some so called Libertarians parrot Rand and proclaim that they are all for freedom and against government. without to have a clue what is freedom and why we need it. That why libertarian movement became such a hodgepodge of characters-from the anarchists to religionists to Neo- Nazis. No matter who they are, they are definitely not natural allies of Objectivism. Those who do listen and want to learn-can do it via ARI which you despise. As far as I know, nobody who honestly wanted to understand Objectivist philosophy was rejected.

Recruiting and Converting the Natural-Ally Libertarians

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Good points, Ross. One simple issue which Ayn Rand evidently missed -- and thus the considerably brain-dead, faith-based, Objectivist Community also missed for 30 years -- is that people naturally and healthily have much more of an interest in politics than an interest in philosophy. People love to study and publically debate politics maybe ten times as much as they privately and publically enjoy disputing philosophy. Most people -- today and always -- find philosophy boring, irrelevant, and even hostile. So why should proper (philosophy-loving) Objectivists today invariably find (politics-loving) libertarians and other freedom-lovers to be, by definition, enemies and traitors of AR, and of the world? Are they really mostly "evaders," who intellectually "steal" from Miss Rand -- as the ARIians claim -- in order to distort and destroy her?

Maybe they just enjoy good-humoredly yammering about politics, and belly-aching about "da gobiment!" Smiling Objectivists should try to be friendly with these philosophically-indifferent and -ignorant guys, in my view -- and then occasionally chat up such open-minded, virtuous folks about the importance of individualism in ethics and reason in epistemology. In my experience, the libertarians are potential allies who tend to listen and agree. Maybe we just need to keep the intellectualizing short and sweet, and try to be benevolent and entertaining, in our on-going conversation and proselytization! Smiling

Do you want to have...

Ross Elliot's picture

...your Objectivism and eat it, too?

Rand admonished all of us to check our premises. Do you think she wasn't including Objectivism itself? That others disagreed and that she fired back is no reason to say that she was responsible for a faith-based system, for that is what the the term Randroidism implies: you don't criticise, you don't think, you just accept. Inherent in Objectivism is a feedback loop that asks fundamental questions about Objectivism itself.

If the question is of her intellectual relationship with and attitude towards libertarianism, then it's pretty simple: libertarianism is a *political* philosophy. It has very little to say about moral bases. And if you proceed from a non-moral basis you end up with something quite nasty, competing assertions aka anarchism.

If anyone can read Rothbard and not take substantial ammo from him, then it's a pity, but his basis was always Rand.

Still Liars

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

BGL -- Maybe -- when closely questioned and cornered -- they reluctantly, briefly admit it to the public. But libertarians virtually never campaign, or publicly agitate, based on these ten essential issues. They stick to trivia and conservative-sounding doubletalk -- basically lying thru their teeth.

Libertarians, in my experience, never stop flapping their yap about "we're not a debating society," -- which is untrue and irrelevant. If libertarians ever told the truth about their views they'd probably get three times the votes and conversions in the short run -- and nine times in the long.

I don't know any libertarians

BGL's picture

I don't know any libertarians that wouldn't admit to being against any of those.

Libertarian Liars

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

My main problem with libertarians is their lack of honesty. They refuse to admit how radical they really are. They're like scary communists in their extremism-- which admittedly is hard to publicly confess to -- but still, they're the Good Guys! They should proudly, loudly proclaim both points. But they don't.

In the US the libertarians mostly refuse to admit that they favor the termination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Welfare; along with the privatization of schools and roads; along with the legalization of drugs, prostitution, gambling, and broadcast obscenity. I consider today's libertarians to be essentially liars. This includes Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Gary Johnson. Does no-one else have this problem with them? Puzzled

Truly Heroic and Great, But Somewhat Flawed Ayn Rand

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Tom -- You touch on many important points and explain them well. Rand fought long and hard and well in her ferocious, magnificent, and heroic Intellectual and Spiritual battle against what I call illiberalism.* But huge evidence indicates she became gradually more intellectually and personally insulated and isolated in the 1960s and 1970s. This made her somewhat unheathy, undynamic, and even unlive. Hence the creation of Randroidism, and such sad, odd, hateful Objectivism and AR enemies as Peikoff, Schwartz, and Binswanger.

It's great in many ways to live in your own world, and control everything, and be surrounded by worshipers and sycophants. It's mostly great to live inside an Us-vs.-Them cult (such as the Scientologists, Lyndon LaRouchies, Jehova's Witnesses, and even some ancient Pythagorean and Epicurean communities, etc.) while heroically battling evil in a fight for the fate of the world. It's especially sweet to live this way if you're the well-deserved leader, and thus have far the most freedom to operate, breath, self-indulge, and be happy. But this lifestyle isn't completely ideal, and doesn't generate maximum pleasure and happiness. AR failed in that.

The religious elements of today's Objectivist Movement need to be voided and ruthlessly terminated. Objectivism needs to be treated as seriously and intellectually skeptically as (1) Aristotelianism and, (2) atomism/Epicureanism/Stoicism and, (3) the rational, common sense, Enlightenment philosophy of Bacon/Locke/Smith/Voltaire/Jefferson. I think Objectivism is at least as true and great as all three of these marvelous, reasonist, ideological rivals.

But Randianism needs to be treated as a rational thought-system and philosophy which is fully open to inspection, speculation, and skeptical examination and dispute. We need 100% full discussion and debate. Objectivism is easily true, virtuous, and powerful enough to stand up to this. So we need to avoid intellectual censorship and intimidation. And despite AR's mostly true, beautiful, and challenging dictum about "judge and prepare to be judged," we need to avoid most ad hominem attacks against opponents, and most excessive and gratuitous judgmentalizing, moralizing, psychologizing, and motive-questioning.

People who say David Kelley, Robert Bidinotto, William Thomas, Chris Sciabarra, Gennady Stolyarov, etc. aren't full Objectivists, or aren't worthy of full discussion and debate, are seriously off-base.

-------------

*roughly the 2600-year-old "noble opposition" irrational ideology of (1) the epistemology of dogma/faith and relativism/subjectivism; (2) the ethics of anti-self religio-socialism; (3) the politics of communalism, socialism, and do-gooder statism

Well said throughout,

Tom Burroughes's picture

Well said throughout, although I think I would offer a slight caveat. I think, some capital-O Objectivists are right to state that they are annoyed that some libertarians make the error of adopting a "thin", amoral defence of liberty and do not seek to ground it in philosophy, or that their ideas are full of contradictions. The "non-intiation of force" axiom is not really enough. (Consider my recent long exchanges over intellectual property with libertarians such as Stephan Kinsella, where there are, in my view, serious, but not necessarily unbridgeable, differences about concepts of property, scarcity, and the like. This is an example of where it really matters to get the underlying philosophy right. And I really do worry about the amorality of the "I want to copy what the hell I want" sort of approach that some anti-IPers take).

It is true that there is something odd in how Rand, or some of her most ardent followers, reserved their greatest venom for libertarians. On 90 per cent of the issues, they are on the same side!

In the case of Rand, she fell out badly with Murray Rothbard and his circle; MR was a bit of a prankster and could be very cruel personally (although also very funny); there were allegations - quite strong - of plagiarism against him, and she probably had a low opinion of the philosophy of some of these people. But she was pretty harsh on conservatives like Bill Buckley too, and certainly pretty hard on the John Birchers and all that sort of crowd.

Interestingly, the late John Hospers continued to speak fondly of Rand after the split and after her death, which speaks volumes.

My recent dealings with folk from the ARI has been largely positive, by the way. Tara Smith and Brook are both decent people who have debated with people from other views and seem fine. They are carrying the torch in the right way.

The truth is that Rand was an incredibly strong woman in some ways but like all such people, was operating in what she felt was a hostile culture, and she did not always handle it very well. But we can say the same of dozens of other thinkers down the centuries. Rand was not all that unusual in this regard.

Tom

Also

gregster's picture

HB mentioned making a small contribution to Demint's conservative fund.

I think..

gregster's picture

.. this general sentiment is out of date. Only this week Binswanger is calling it "an encouraging upset" and "good political news" that Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock beat out the long-serving conservative Lugar.

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