Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Future of Objectivism 6

John Allison IV, the sociable Objectivist. Although Yaron Brook is generally seen as a protege of Leonard Peikoff, there is another man who, I suspect, has also exercised a great influence on Brook: namely, John Allison. If Brook's energy hearkens back to Nathaniel Branden, Allison's practicality and business success suggests parallels to Alan Greenspan. In terms of basic disposition, Greenspan and Allison are poles apart. Greenspan is introverted, reserved, enigmatic; Allison affable, charming, gregarious. What they share is an ability, not all that common among hard core Objectivists, to get on in the world of business. They have social skills that other prominent Objectivists lack. They come off as having a real understanding of other people as autonomous individuals, with sentiments, points-of-view, and ideals uniquely their own. Leonard Peikoff, along with many of other orthodox Objectivist luminaries over at ARI, seem completely oblivious, even indifferent, to the social world around them. They are unable to relate in any meaningful way to the non-Objectivist world. They are insular, narrow-minded, aloof, narcissistic. It can be uncomfortable watching them engage in interviews with non-Objectivists. In terms of social awareness, they can seem, at times, semi-autistic.

Last year I heard Allison pump his book, The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure, on the Dennis Prager show. While Allison didn't say anything particularly new, striking or original, he nonetheless made a good impression. He was warm and friendly, and he tailored his message to Prager's audience, emphasizing points of agreement and skillfully avoiding anything that might arouse hostility. When Prager challenged him on Rand's atheism, he merely acknowledged that Rand didn't believe in God and left it at that, thereby avoiding a fight which would only have served to alienate his audience and entangle him in a debate with a skillful adversary.
I suspect that his years in business encouraged Alison to learn how to seek points of agreement with other people. That's how one succeeds in business and politics. That's not, however, how Objectivists have typical strived to succeed. Instead of finding points in common, Objectivists, following Rand's example, often seek for points of disagreement. Rand was the model for this sort of behavior. She was constantly ferreting out sources of disagreement, particularly among potential allies. She had a penchant for taking positions that alienated other free market advocates on the right. She antagonized and/or quarrelled with Leonard Read, Rose Wilder Lane, Ludwig von Mises, Whitaker Chambers, John Hospers and Murray Rothbard among others; and she maintained a lifelong contempt for Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, because neither were quite "pure" enough in their advocacy of the free market. Her shrill denouncements of libertarianism were much too broad, sweeping, and unfair. The consequence of this approach is that, while Rand's ideas remained broadly (if rather vaguely) influential, neither she nor her orthodox disciples have played a significant role in the development of the free market advocacy movement.

I suspect Allison would like to change that; and using the social skills developed from his southern upbringing and his decades in business, he is trying to make Objectivism the primary ideology for free market advocacy. Whether he succeeds at this is rather doubtful. It's likely what he's doing will have a greater effect on Objectivism, particularly of the orthodox variety, than on libertarianism or conservatism. In fact, we already have evidence of his effect on Objectivism. In June of 2012, he was hired to replace Ed Crane as CEO of CATO. Despite concerns that his foreign policy views, forged in the ARI furnace, might be way too aggressive and strident for Cato, Allison quickly moved to reassure everyone that, while he might be an Objectivist, he was also a small-c catholic "libertarian." Indeed, he was so charming and affable in some of his one-on-one meetings with Cato scholars that one of them later told blogger Jeremy Lott:  “I think we have a winner.”

A month later Allison was singing a different tune at an ARI sponsored conference. In keeping with his "tell them what they want to hear" approach, Allison announced that he would stay at least a few years at CATO so he could "groom a good O[bjectiv]ist successor while bringing some positive change to the organization." He described CATO as a "mixed bag": excellent on health care policy, but bad on foreign policy. He also promised that “Cato will become a more Objectivist organization."  Allison would later distance himself from these remarks, claiming they were “Internet chatter based on ‘tweets’ from the Q and A. I was being ‘grilled’ at the event and will not guarantee that my answers were the best. Also, I was still learning about Cato. However, in the many sessions I have had with employees at Cato my answers have been totally straightforward.” And he added, even more curiously:  “I believe almost all the name calling between libertarians and objectivists is irrational. I have come to appreciate that all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists.”

Wait a minute. How could an orthodox Objectivist, an ARI board member no less, say such a thing? And why hasn't Peter Schwartz stepped forward to cry anathema at such heresy?

It would appear that John Allison has succeeded where others have failed: he has forced ARI to reevaluate it's view on libertarianism. Since Allison took up as Cato's president, ARI has modified its position towards libertarianism, as explicated in the following prepared statement:

 When this subjectivist approach to philosophy and politics dominated the libertarian movement in the ’70s and ’80s, ARI refused to cooperate with anyone belonging to it. Such cooperation would have constituted a sanction of the anti-ideology of libertarianism. However, today we see evidence to suggest that there is no longer a cohesive libertarian movement. The movement has become fragmented and leaderless (intellectually as well as organizationally), and the term “libertarian” is progressively losing its former meaning.

 Thus when someone or some organization today calls itself, or is called by others, “libertarian,” one should not assume that this means the person or organization is part of the anti-philosophical libertarian movement. What matters, in evaluating these individuals and organizations, are the ideas they actually hold and advocate.

The term “libertarian” has been used increasingly over the last few years to mean a vague leaning toward liberty rather than government control…. [N]one of the three political terms—”liberal,” “conservative,” or “libertarian”—has a clearly defined meaning, because there exist no clearly defined ideologies. Consequently, the fact that today someone calls himself or is called by others a “libertarian” says virtually nothing about his political viewpoint.

What we see in the case of Allison is not so unusual when examining organizations based on rigid belief systems. Religion and ideology appeal, not to facts or "reason," but to sentiments and interests. They are non-rational in origin. Not infrequently they over-step important realities. Since most people have to live in the real world, rather than apart from it, conflicts will arise between ideological imperatives and practical common sense. At ARI the purists -- those who wish the ideology to remain true to Peikoff's interpretation of Rand, regardless of potential conflicts with practical common sense -- are mostly the old guard: people who, like Schwartz and Binswanger, were personally acquainted with Rand and who rely on ARI and Objectivism to pay the bills. Just as there are religious people who find the old-time religion too severe and unyielding, there are surely Objectivists at ARI who find the conformity to Peikoff's interpretation of Rand to be stifling and, at times, impractical. As the old guard begins to die off and lose influence, some Objectivists, particularly those with a stronger connection to the real world outside Objectivism, will find it increasingly difficult to honor the more absurd and impractical pieties of the old guard. With his background in business and the social world of North Carolina, John Allison found himself challenging the Peikoffian conviction that "libertarians are worse than communists." For a man accustomed to the gregarious social etiquette of the South and building connections with people in the business world, the reflexive hostility toward fellow travelers in the crusade for free markets must have seemed increasingly myopic and even insane. Hence Allison's declaration, unthinkable by any other ARI stalwart, "I believe almost all the name calling between libertarians and objectivists is irrational."

How did Allison get away with such a remark? Why didn't the old purists, led by Schwartz or Binswanger or Harriman or Mayhew, attempt to oust him? Allison probably succeeded at shifting the attitude of ARIians toward libertarianism for the same reason he succeeded in business and for the same reason he has gotten along with the scholars at the Cato institute, despite enormous differences on issues relating to foreign policy. Allison knows how to relate with people and get people to like him. He's a man of the world who knows how to build relationships with people.

It has also greatly helped Allison that he is rich and that he fits, as well as anyone over at ARI, the stereotype of the ideal businessman. For years, the intellectuals at ARI have fought ideological battles on behalf of the business class, without, however, getting much thanks in return. For Leonard Peikoff, John Allison must have been a dream come true: a businessman who believed in, and want to be a part of, ARI. The fact that Allison was affable, charming, tactful and likable only sealed the deal. Just as Rand cut slack for Greenspan back in the early days of Objectivism, so Peikoff, Brook, and the denizens at ARI have cut slack for John Allison. And so Allison has been the first orthodox Objectivist to not merely get away with challenging an Objectivist piety, but to actually have that piety altered and reformed.

Since becoming Cato's President, Allison has retired from the ARI board. While this does not, in all likelihood, indicate any sort of cooling between Allison and ARI, could it not portend a slow, ambiable drifting apart? Let's face it: ARI needs John Allison far more than Allison needs ARI. Allison's time at Cato should only make that more evident. At ARI, Allison still had to demonstrate due deference toward Leonard Peikoff and the old guard. That meant showing at least tacit agreement even with Peikoff's wildest lunacies. One wonders, for example, what Allison now thinks of the McCaskey scandal, wherein ARI forced out a major donor over some excessively mild criticisms of Harriman's shoddy scholarship. How was the fight for free markets promoted by that particular debacle? At the Cato institute, Allison merely has to get along with Koch brothers, who are reputed to be far less unreasonable than the Dr. Peikoff. Also keep in mind that the Cato institute is far better known, and is taken more seriously, than ARI. . Cato's research, although not widely influential, at least is given a respectful hearing by the cognoscenti. Could Allison end up concluding that Cato is a much better instrument for spreading the gospel of free markets than ARI ever was or ever can be?


33 comments:

QuantumHaecceity said...

It would be absolutely fascinating to see how Leonard Peikoff would feel or react to being trashed like this and treated with such contempt.

But Peikoff is as extremely unlikely to read this as Greg Nyquist is unlikely to ever shut up trashing Objectivsm and Ayn Rand for the 5 billionth time like a broken damn record.

Insult count:

"They have social skills that other prominent Objectivists lack."

"They are unable to relate in any meaningful way to the non-Objectivist world."

"They are insular, narrow-minded, aloof, narcissistic."

"In terms of social awareness, they can seem, at times, semi-autistic."

"criticisms of Harriman's shoddy scholarship."

"are reputed to be far less unreasonable than the Dr. Peikoff."

"even with Peikoff's wildest lunacies."

That's at least TEN...TEN insults in one post. And the rather amusing part about it is, even if you point this out to Greggy, he doesn't really give a damn.

He'll go right back to more abuse in the next post, and the one after that.

Almost like he's a robot or machine hell bent on Objectivism's utter destruction. A Gregdroid.

Samadhir said...

"It would be absolutely fascinating to see how Leonard Peikoff would feel or react to being trashed like this and treated with such contempt."

Well, considering how much Peikoff himself, following in the footsteps of his mentor, regularly trashes and treats with contempt anyone who disagrees with him, even otherwise loyal supporters, you'd hope he'd be able to take similar criticism himself.

QuantumHaecceity said...

Really? I'd like you to prove that. Can you list six links either to text or a video, of Peikoff trashing and treating with contempt, a person, simply by virtue of them disagreeing with him?

And then 6 for Alisa Rosenbaum.

I'm not saying they haven't done so. I'm just not aware of it, would like to see you back up what you said, and it is very severe to trash someone simply because they disagree with you.

QuantumHaecceity said...

@Samadhir

Also, it should be easy for you to list a measly 6, since you used the word -regularly-.

Samadhir said...

@QuantumHaecceity

You mean this very blog and its many examples and links isn't enough?

QuantumHaecceity said...

@Samadhir

Post the links. 6 for each, in their own words, trashing and treating people with contempt simply because they disagree.

Simple request to prove what you say is true about them.

This is not an indictment of you. I just want confirmation of what you say.

And no, Greg Nyquist's second hand bashing is not enough for a donut and eggs, since Greg Nyquist is a pathological hater and enemy of Objectivism, so his word is dubious because he is extremely biased and has some type of obsessive-compulsive agenda to slander Objectivism and tear it down as much as possible.

Peikoff and Rosenbaum, in THEIR OWN WORDS. Not Greg Nyquist's reporting of what they said, or did, or his hate-filled interpretations of it.

And to reiterate, I wouldn't be surprised if you came up with the confirmations. I just want the confirmation.

Samadhir said...

@QuantumHaecceity

Well, if you're so insistent, let me start off with a few links at least.

When it comes to Peikoff, there's David Kelley, booted out for suggesting that Objectivists should be more open-minded and less dogmatic: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_fv

John McCaskey, as pointed out in the article above: http://www.johnmccaskey.com/joomla/index.php/resignation

And Diana Hsieh, former neo-Objectivist turned Orthodox Objectivist and supporter of Peikoff, who then got condemned and even had an entire website made to trash her for voicing some criticisms of his views: http://www.checkingpremises.org/dhsubjmo

As for Rand, most of the examples would be the experiences of many of the members of the Collective who got yelled at or even expelled for having differing musical tastes or correcting Rand on whether what she saw through a hospital window was a telephone pole or a tree. Incidents that, understandably, are either left out of Objectivist literature or described in books like Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns or Ayn Rand and the World She Made, by Anne C Heller.

Gordon Burkowski said...

Peikoff's words on McCaskey: "I have, for years, long before Harriman’s book, condemned McCaskey morally: I regard him as an obnoxious braggart as a person, and a pretentious ignoramus as an intellectual."

"Trashing and treating with contempt, a person, simply by virtue of them disagreeing with him"? Sure looks that way to me. . .

Daniel Barnes said...

Waaah! Waaah! The ARCHNblog said bad things about Objectivists!

What a crybaby. Man, Objectivists like Quan try to dish it out, but they sure can't take it...;-)

As for whether Rand or Peikoff trashed and treated with contempt, "a person, simply by virtue of them disagreeing with him" - I mean heck, what does that phrase even mean?? It's just weasel wording. Hey, they both disagreed with Kant, for example, and Rand called him the most evil man in history. Rand disagreed with Hayek and called him a "total, complete, vicious bastard". She disagreed with Emerson, claiming he had "a very little mind". And let's not forget the multitude of curses she laid at the feet of anonymous "modern philosophers" Shall I go on? No need.

What we have here with the Quanmeister is just the usual Objectivist Double Standard. That is, Rand must be treated with the greatest reverence and every particle of her every work studied with the infinite care in order for criticism of it to be legitimate. On the other hand, Rand may insult any and everyone, scarcely bother to pick up a book of her opponents let alone provide quotes or references, yet to her acolytes this is supposedly "thinking in essentials", a demonstration of her superior intellectual capabilities!

So amusing.

Ynf said...

QuantumHaecceity, are you differentiating between criticism and insults?

To take just one example:

"They have social skills that other prominent Objectivists lack."

Compare that to

"Prominent Objectivists lack social skills. This is probably because they tend to live in their mother's basement."

If Greg is being critical of an Objectivist and if it serves a purpose within the context of the article then it's a criticism.

If it's unnecessary bashing then it's an insult.

This is an insult for example:

"Almost like he's a robot or machine hell bent on Objectivism's utter destruction. A Gregdroid."

Neil Parille said...

QH:

Howzabout this comment from LP toward John McCaskey:

Because some people have turned the dispute into a moral issue, I should state the full truth, which is not stated in the letter: I have, for years, long before Harriman’s book, condemned McCaskey morally: I regard him as an obnoxious braggart as a person, and a pretentious ignoramus as an intellectual. Had I held a more positive estimate, I would have attempted first of all not to demand his resignation, but to discuss the book with him, understand his viewpoint, and see if together we could resolve and/or delimit his problems with it. But given my opinion of him, intellectual discussion was impossible to me.

-Neil

Neil Parille said...

Oh, sorry Gordon didn't see your post.

QuantumHaecceity said...

"They are insular, narrow-minded, aloof, narcissistic."

And the above are insults too. I notice you didn't use that one, but chose a more tame insult from Greg in your pathetically obvious attempt at biased revisionism in Greg's favor.

This one was particularly nasty too: "In terms of social awareness, they can seem, at times, semi-autistic"


I don't know who or what a YnF is, but your post smacked of cult like behavior as far as trying to protect the leader and to see everything they do with biased, rose colored glasses.

Jzero said...

QH: If that's "cult behavior", what does it say about you, to be repeatedly banging the drum here whenever something critical of Objectivists turns up? Are you even capable of being aware that you can't live up to the same standards you seem to expect in others?

You're willing to dissect a post on ARCHN down to the last supposed insult, but somehow you've obliviously managed to "not be aware" of the insults, both specific and implied, that Objectivists feel free to deliver. That would indicate a surprising lack of observation on your part. Where were you when Binswanger took a shot, post-mortem, at Barbara Branden? Absent!

But should anyone at ARCHN express anything but somber reverence when Peikoff passes on, odds are you'll be there to loudly complain about our reveling in his demise.

It seems impossible that you could be a rational person and expect anyone here to take your screeds seriously, so I wonder: just WHO do you write these things FOR?

Ynf said...

"They are insular, narrow-minded, aloof, narcissistic."

Narcissism might be taken as a compliment in Objectivism. A little joke there.

But again, I don't see any insults. I explained to you why. Having negative things to say about a person is not necessarily an insult.
I have seen several posts by you and your criticism of Greg actually seems to fit you like a glove. A little more constructive criticism and partaking in actual discussion would be nice to see.

"your pathetically obvious attempt at biased revisionism in Greg's favor."

The 'pathetically' part is an insult. The rest could possibly be seen as criticism. I have my doubts though.
I have no particular feelings towards Greg, positive or negative. It's not so much Greg I'm defending, it's your post I was "attacking".

"In terms of social awareness, they can seem, at times, semi-autistic"

I'm autistic and I found nothing nasty in that sentence. Words like 'retard' and 'moron' were obviously twisted from their original meaning with a nasty intention and the word 'autistic' can be used in such a way. However, given the problems a lot of people within the autistic spectrum have it can be quite appropriate to unfavourably compare someone's behaviour with that of an autistic person without actually insulting autistic people. On the surface you may have two people (one autistic and one not) being rude, insensitive, socially unaware or closed-off. One person cannot help it, the other person simply doesn't care about the feelings of other people.

"I don't know who or what a YnF is, but your post smacked of cult like behavior as far as trying to protect the leader and to see everything they do with biased, rose colored glasses."

Again the first part of this sentence is unnecessary and representative of your overall tone and message.

You don't really have enough information to accuse me of mindlessly following a leader. If you think you do, I would be interested in hearing you dissect my first post.

Gordon Burkowski said...

"Narcissism might be taken as a compliment in Objectivism."

No question about it. Rand makes that point in "Anthem", and very clearly too:

"We knelt by the stream and we bent down to drink. And then we stopped. For, upon the blue of the sky below us, we saw our own face for the first time.

"We sat still and we held our breath. For our face and our body were beautiful. . . "

QuantumHaecceity said...

@YnF

"But again, I don't see any insults"


Of course you don't. That's what bias is all about.

QuantumHaecceity said...

@Gordon

"No question about it"


The fact that you seem to be serious that those lines are indicative of narcissism in Objectivism is impressive.

When humans hate something or someone, they can find the negative in anything. Wow.

QuantumHaecceity said...

@Jzero

"Where were you when Binswanger took a shot, post-mortem, at Barbara Branden? Absent!"

Hmmm. Let me go on record in saying Binswanger should not have done that and he acted poorly and with no tact.

Now, let's see if you can be unbiased and fair-minded as well and condemn Greg Nyquist for his nasty behavior and years long abuse and insults against Objectivist's, Objectivsm, and Ayn Rand.

My money is on you not doing anything of the kind, as you come off as a sychophant of Greg's, and you will find some way to rationalize and act like he is perfect and does nothing wrong and never insulted anyone.

You know, like YnF is doing. Making excuses for the person you're biased in favor of.

QuantumHaecceity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
QuantumHaecceity said...

@Barnes

"Man, Objectivists like Quan try to dish it out, but they sure can't take it"

I admitted on here like 3 months ago that I'm not an Objectivist. So you either didn't see it, or you're being dishonest.

I think it was you that I told this to directly, but Im not sure, and I dont feel like looking it up to be 100% certain it was you, rather than Neil Parille.


"Rand must be treated with the greatest reverence"

I don't like Ayn Rand. I do like other Objectivist's though like Yaron Brook, Craig Biddle, Diana Hsieh, Onkar Ghate, Andrew Bernstein, Greg Perkins, Ideasforlife and of course David Kelley.

Gordon Burkowski said...

“The fact that you seem to be serious that those lines are indicative of narcissism in Objectivism is impressive. When humans hate something or someone, they can find the negative in anything. Wow.”

I find debates with Q a waste of time. However, the quote from Anthem which I presented above is certainly worth discussing at greater length. So here goes.

1) First, a reminder of the original Narcissus myth. It concerns a youth who sees his own reflection in a pool and is so transfixed by his own beauty that he becomes rooted to the spot and turns into a flower.

2) “Narcissism” is a word that can be defined broadly or narrowly. However, Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) describes a person who is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity.

3) In Anthem, Ayn Rand very consciously references the Narcissus story. In her version, when the hero sees his own reflection in a pool, the experience is presented as life-affirming rather than self-destructive. To use modern jargon, Rand has deconstructed the original myth. She does the same thing in Atlas Shrugged with the myth of Phaethon.

4) The scene in Anthem clearly implies that the original myth is misguided at best and evil at worst; that it implies that physical beauty and self-confidence are a danger rather than something to exult in.

5) I think it would be naïve to suggest that Rand was critiquing the myth but not the psychological diagnosis. I find it quite probable that she would regard NPD as a notion that was also misguided at best and evil at worst. That is the reason why I agree with the statement that "Narcissism might be taken as a compliment in Objectivism."

6) Which leads in turn to a number of questions, too many to get into now. Except to ask: if you internalize the assumptions behind Rand’s implicit critique of the narcissus myth in this passage, will you be the better off for it? Based on my observation of the behaviour of many Objectivists, my answer would be: no.

Venturist Church said...

I find it weird that Rand cultists can still takes opposing sides on battles over trivial issues that started before many of them were even born. No wonder the Objectivist philosophy refuses to develop into something more empirically defensible.

Speaking of which: If competition in the free market tends to improve products, as Objectivists claim, then how can they explain this anomaly:

1. We have a free, competitive market for novels.

2. Lots of people write and publish novels, and it has gotten noticeably easier lately because you can self-publish your novels as ebooks and sell them through Amazon.

3. Ayn Rand published a not very good novel in 1957, despite Rand cultists' false advertising to the contrary. (And not necessarily because she wrote English as a second language. Joseph Conrad grew up speaking Polish, Russian and French, and he learned English later in life. Yet he wrote many novels in English which are now recognized as important works of Western literature.)

4. Yet no one that I know of has written and published a better novel presenting a philosophy similar to Rand's in the past 37 years.

I have to analogize Objectivists' desperate commitment to defending Rand's greatness (which the rest of the world doesn't see) to an ideological movement in 2014 which still defends other products of the 1950's, like the DC-8 airliner, the UNIVAC computer and the menu of Howard Johnson's restaurants, as man's greatest achievements which no one has surpassed yet.

I mean, I don't ask for much. People have written much better novels than Atlas Shrugged. So why hasn't an Objectivist with literary talent rebooted the depiction of a more defensible form of the philosophy in a better novel than Rand's? Why have Objectivists allowed this stagnation to happen when in other context they preach boundless progress through competition and market forces?

Ynf said...

No actual arguments or insights from QuantumHaecceity. As expected but nonetheless disappointing.

Jzero said...

@ QH:

"Hmmm. Let me go on record in saying Binswanger should not have done that and he acted poorly and with no tact.

Now, let's see if you can be unbiased and fair-minded as well and condemn Greg Nyquist for his nasty behavior and years long abuse and insults against Objectivist's, Objectivsm, and Ayn Rand."

Well, no, because you don't get what's actually at issue here.

First off, you don't get to claim the mantle of "unbiased and fair-minded" if you have to be prodded into making a criticism of Binswanger or any other Objectivist. You need no such prodding to criticize those at ARCHN - your bias shows when you do not judge Objectivists by the same standards you demand from people here. Had someone here said "no great loss" in reference to Ayn Rand's death, you would be outraged and hold it up as an example of the nastiness at work here. But for Binswanger, well, it's just "poorly with no tact."

A weak sop does not make one unbiased.

Secondly, I'm not going to adopt your sensitive standards for "insults" to try and prove myself to be unbiased. I'll admit I'm biased, though of course I happen to believe that my bias is the result of careful consideration of the issues.

The problem is that you have such a low tolerance for criticism of Objectivists, when much of Objectivism itself is one long condemnation of non-Objectivist thinking and philosophy. Atlas Shrugged goes out of its way to make those characters not of the Objectivist frame of mind out to be physically unappealing and intellectually depraved. Examples in this very comments thread show how prominent Objectivists aren't afraid to toss a little venom at their opponents, and if you want the extremes, you could go read the Randzapper blog for some real doozies. But somehow you profess to be unaware of this, to have missed all this nastiness, nastiness of a far greater nature than anything that appears on ARCHN. Which means you're simply ignorant - perhaps willfully - of what goes on in Objectivist circles, or you're obsessing over ARCHN to the exclusion of all else.

Daniel Barnes said...

@Quan,
I don't recall it. OK, so you don't like Ayn Rand but you like an assortment of other Objectivists. That's a very interesting position - those other Objectivists would also surely find it interesting too, given that she is the fountainhead of their views - and surely worthy of clear articulation, rather than leaving us all to guess at your position?

What is it, then, that Rand is so wrong about that her followers are right about? Can you clarify where you're coming from?

Echo Chamber Escapee said...

@Venturist Church: People have written much better novels than Atlas Shrugged. So why hasn't an Objectivist with literary talent rebooted the depiction of a more defensible form of the philosophy in a better novel than Rand's? Why have Objectivists allowed this stagnation to happen when in other context they preach boundless progress through competition and market forces?

Assuming this wasn't rhetorical, there are a couple of reasons.

First and foremost is that Objectivists regard Ayn Rand as an epochal genius. They have lecture courses and essays admiring the pure perfection that is Atlas Shrugged from every conceivable angle (and some inconceivable ones too). After absorbing enough of that, it would be the height of hubris for an Objectivist to imagine he could write a better novel than Atlas Shrugged -- or even as good.

Second is that, from what I have seen over years of observation, Objectivism tends to stifle creativity. An Objectivist's novel has to adhere to the credo of Romantic Realism, of course. And since Romantic Realism is mostly about rationalizing why Rand's novels are the greatest achievement in the history of literature, this means everyone else ends up doing bad imitations of Rand. They feel compelled to hammer philosophical points at the expense of literary merit. I found the results pretty uniformly cringe-worthy even when I was an Objectivist. (And I was far from alone.)

QuantumHaecceity said...

@Jzero


"of what goes on in Objectivist circles"

No. I just don't obsess over Objectivism as much as you do.



"I'll admit I'm biased"

Of course you are. It's painfully obvious.

QuantumHaecceity said...

@Venturist Church

"No wonder the Objectivist philosophy refuses to develop into something more empirically defensible."

Why is Objectivism not empirically defensible?

QuantumHaecceity said...

@Daniel Barnes

"What is it, then, that Rand is so wrong about that her followers are right about?"


I don't know about her followers being right, but what Rand is so wrong about, is mainly her behavior.

Those people are respectable in their behavior as far as I know, Rand is not. Which is why I like them, but not Rand.

Jzero said...

@ QH:

"No. I just don't obsess over Objectivism as much as you do."

You certainly obsess over its defense, and over the defense of its practitioners. You've glossed right over all the other points I've brought up - likely because you don't have any actual counterargument. And then you obsess over what goes on here at ARCHN.

Certainly your own bias is far more pronounced than mine. The one thing you do not (perhaps, can not) argue is that Nyquist or Barnes or anyone else at ARCHN is wrong about their assessment of Objectivism and Objectivists. You list a bank of insults, but you never come up with any sort of evidence to show that such insults are completely unfounded. It's as if your argument rests entirely not on the idea that the accusations are WRONG, but rather that making these statements is mean, and somehow invalid just because of that.

Which again, brings up the double standard - if "nasty" were a determining factor in reasoning, Objectivism would be debunked far quicker than anything ARCHN has put forth.

Venturist Church said...

Echo Chamber Escapee writes:

>First and foremost is that Objectivists regard Ayn Rand as an epochal genius. They have lecture courses and essays admiring the pure perfection that is Atlas Shrugged from every conceivable angle (and some inconceivable ones too). After absorbing enough of that, it would be the height of hubris for an Objectivist to imagine he could write a better novel than Atlas Shrugged -- or even as good.

Yet Rand wrote three novels (I don't know if We the Living qualifies) about the heroic individualist who thinks he can do better at X than anyone previously, and in defiance of authority figures committed to tradition who who stand in his way and try to stop him; and he then proceeds to do so. If Objectivists really want to show the power of Rand's vision in action, why do they draw an arbitrary line at doing the Rand thing better than Rand?

Or do Objectivists instead follow the example of John Galt - they could write better novels or create a stronger philosophy than Rand's, but they've withhold the products of their mind from the market because we live in a corrupt society which doesn't deserve them? They've gone on strike, in other words.

Anonymous said...

"In terms of social awareness, they can seem, at times, semi-autistic."

This is an important observation. Is this a signal that Greg Nyquist is willing to touch the third rail? He's getting close.