Gee, Google’s n-gram database is interesting.
Gee, Google’s n-gram database is interesting.
My copy of The DIM Hypothesis arrived today!
On a whim, I started watching the live stream of the Republican National Convention just moments ago. I was well rewarded:
â€œAnd we have the ingÃ©nue-ity [sic] to develop alternative sources of energy too.â€ â€” Condoleezza Rice.
John Dewey gets name-dropped in a wandering bit of â€œsustainabilityâ€ pabulum. What if a bunch of kids learn to do some things by themselves, but never for themselves?
Thereâ€™s lots to quibble with in this video. Still, heâ€™s right.
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, â€œA political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war.â€ 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 â€œreasonable gun-control.â€
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 â€œdomestic use[s],â€ 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 doesnâ€™t arise.
A recent comment on â€œItâ€™s Ours To Loseâ€ has inspired me to write up a brief progress report on my Antistatism Series. Iâ€™ve been considering posting a progress report for â€¦ years â€¦ now, but Iâ€™ve had other things on my mind.
First, since this may not have been clear, the series is not complete. I estimate it is no more than half written, and probably less. Some long-planned, long-delayed posts include:
Second, the overarching thesis of the series is that the Objectivist politics is the best attempt at justifying the state ever put forth, but that it is still rationalistic, i.e., detached from reality, therefore there exists no justification for the state. Antistatism, or complete skepticism about the state as an institution, will be substantiated inductively by the end of the series. The planned structure of the argument is: define antistatism; show that politics must be justified inductively; contrast the Foundersâ€™ extensively inductive, clever, and subtle statecraft with the pie-in-the-sky, hand-wavy statecraft of Objectivism (and this is where Iâ€™ve left off); identify fatal lacunae in Objectivismâ€™s extant and implied statecraft; universalize and essentialize these criticisms so that Objectivists are not tempted to filibuster with post-hoc revisionist interpretations of their own politics; account for how a philosophy as subtle and powerful as Objectivism made such profound errors when it reached politics; and, finally, review the argument and consider the implications for anarchism.
Third, readers should keep in mind that the series, like everything on this blog, is a â€œlive rough draft.â€ I expect to revise extensively. Still, my live rough drafts are pretty damn good, I think, and definitely worth reading and considering carefully despite their inchoate state.
Turns out itâ€™s serious business when someone is wrong on the internet â€¦
Two friends build a wind-powered car that travels directly downwind faster than the wind. Itâ€™s a neat case study in bias.
For several years I was mildly curious about soccer. It seemed odd that the whole world but the U.S. followed the sport fanatically. I made it a point to catch a game or two on TV, to see if I was missing something.
Years later, my curiosity had shifted. I no longer wondered why the U.S. didnâ€™t appreciate soccer. I wondered what the hell the rest of the world saw in it.
Eventually, I read an article somewhere that offered a plausible hypothesis. The writer, a neoconservative, I seem to remember, argued that soccer, low-scoring, slow-paced, circuitous soccer, was a sport apropos the goal-disoriented, crypto-nihilistic foreign mindset. Europeans or Africans, for example, are satisfied to cheer at a public nothing happening furiously for ninety minutes, just because they are satisfied to shrug through a private nothing happening placidly for threescore and ten years. The American mindset, in contrast, stresses manâ€™s power to shape the world to suit his purposes. Likewise, when nothing is happening in his life, an American seeks to make something happen. When nothing happens in his sport, he wants a refund.
For the past few years, I have begun to wonder whether World Cup fever might not be catching over here. I seem to be overhearing more soccer-fan conversations. This year, it has been more pronounced than ever. Itâ€™s depressing to consider: maybe weâ€™ve finally become Europeans.
I hope this is just a harmless case of pessimistic confirmation bias.