I have developed a keen interest in persuading sensible people that Western civilization is an a dire state, that they should take a personal interest in this, and that they can, and should, do something about it.
For my purposes, “sensible people” are Aristotelians (whether they know it or not). In brief, this means […]
Why Ayn Rand Is “Not a Serious Philosopher”
Let us look more closely; what is the scientific man? A type of man that is not noble; he has an instinct for his equals and for what they need; for example, that claim to honor and recognition, that constant attestation of his value and utility […]
Wonders never cease.
Note: Nietzsche is wrong in the end, but right sometimes on his way there.
I was asked on Facebook how I would move people toward learning how to talk about politics. My answer grew too big for a Facebook comment, so I’m posting it here:
As for what can be done right this second, yes, participating in and encouraging civil and serious discussion is the way to go. […]
This is the tenth entry in my Antistatism Series.
Objectivism has nothing substantive to say about the private ownership of firearms, and nothing at all to say about the revolutionary and radical implications of the Second Amendment. Objectivists, in the aggregate, tend to follow Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff in thinking of the right to keep and bear arms as a peripheral issue in politics. After all, “A political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war.” For Objectivists per se, there is no concern that Americans might ever need to shoot their way to a free country; they intend to think, write, and talk themselves into that state.
Since Objectivism itself has no substantive position on the right to keep and bear arms, Objectivists have assumed varying positions. Some are trenchant supporters of the Second Amendment; some are tepid supporters; some seem to want no truck with guns at all. If there is a consensus among Objectivists, it is this: Individuals have the right of personal self-defense, and a proper government must permit the personal ownership of small firearms at least for this reason, and probably for sport and target shooting as well. Notably, there is not a consensus amongst Objectivists against what is presently called “reasonable gun-control.”
Leonard Peikoff, for example, argues that the right to self-defense implies that citizens should be permitted to own only those firearms suited to the purpose of personal defense or other “domestic use[s],” and that the private ownership of fully automatic weapons, or other weapons that are demonstrably ill-suited to stopping a burglar or dropping a moose, should be outlawed. Given the radical meaning of the Second Amendment, that it exists to empower the people to forcibly check the expansion of government power, it is clear from his position here that Peikoff either misunderstands, rejects as outmoded, or rejects fundamentally the principles of the Second Amendment. (Lest it appear I might agree with Peikoff on this issue, let me pause to note that, while I have argued in this series that the Second Amendment is outmoded, I have not said what implications, if any, this has for contemporary gun-control debates.)
As I have already alluded, Objectivists have no interest in violent revolution, except to preempt one through intellectual and cultural revolution. As is plain from their reverence for the Declaration of Independence, Objectivists agree with the Founders on right of revolution (in theory). It should also be plain, from their treatment of gun rights, that they part ways with the Founders, radically, when the question arises of what the people should do when, in the the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.
No. That is wrong. Objectivists do not part ways with the Founders when this question arises; they part ways with the Founders when it doesn’t arise.
Continue reading Objectivism Misfires
Many who have learned from Ayn Rand believe that Enlightenment civilization, the bequeathal of Aristotle, Newton, and Jefferson, declines precipitously toward a renaissance of the medieval, of the Paleolithic, or worse, with perhaps an interregnum of digital-age totalitarian fascism along the way. Picture a televangelist smiling beatifically. Then picture him in sanguine raiment and steel-toed boots, still smiling, stomping on humanity’s face, if not forever, for a very, very long time.
Against the Dying of the Light
Objectivism is a life-affirming philosophy. Its adherents tend to be optimists, or at least admire and strive toward a rational, justified optimism. In this context, an important Objectivist idea is the “impotence of evil.” Ayn Rand wrote that “The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default …” (from “The Anatomy of Compromise,” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 149.)
This is a powerful idea, and Objectivists take it seriously. Despite their pessimism about the present course of Western (especially American) Civilization, they are hard at work trying to build up and apply the intellectual force necessary to make the right course correction. They believe they can win, and their notion of victory is expansive. It is nothing less than the total reformation of American culture.
[The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI)] seeks to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. ~ Introduction to Ayn Rand, Objectivism and ARI
Philosophy and History
Objectivists believe they can move the world because they have in hand a very long lever, and intend to capture a very solid point upon which to rest it. According to Objectivism, philosophy moves history, and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is much more comprehensive, consistent, and powerful than the mish-mash that informed the Framers of the Constitution. By capturing the commanding heights of the West’s ivory towers, Objectivists hope to educate a vanguard of teachers, writers, journalists, and public intellectuals of all kinds in Objectivist fundamentals. These opinion leaders will, in turn, drive the intellectually inert masses toward a second renaissance culture: a rebirth of reason.
Race for the Prize
The essential Objectivist view of their enterprise is that it is a race against time. Will they capture enough influence in academia, and parlay and extend that influence to political elites, or even a new Objectivistic “common sense” among the masses that upholds objective reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism? As long as America is free from censorship, Objectivists believe they have more than a fighting chance. If current trends continue, however, Objectivist activism will eventually be criminalized. If that happens, the Objectivists’ plan will have failed.
Continue reading It’s Ours to Lose
Turns out it’s serious business when someone is wrong on the internet …
Two friends build a wind-powered car that travels directly downwind faster than the wind. It’s a neat case study in bias.
Or, (E), you could have festooned the lampposts with the Statsi beforehand, and have been home in time for dinner.
But it seems like I’m missing the point, doesn’t it?
On the corruption of youth.
But is it really the surest way?
From The Onion:
What’s that? Now it’s making an appeal to reason? Never! Do you hear me, you eloquent, well-read behemoth? Never! We’ll die before we recognize what we secretly know to be true! The cognitive dissonance only makes our denial stronger!