Update on The Antistatism Series and Universals

A recent comment on “It’s Ours To Lose” has inspired me to write up a brief progress report on my Antistatism Series. I’ve been considering posting a progress report for … years … now, but I’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:

  • “Dark Matter” — a post about the supposedly inert masses Objectivism blithely assumes will follow the New Intellectuals into Atlantis.
  • “The Progressive Tax on Virtue” — Objectivism argues that men of lesser ability benefit more from capitalism than do the greatest producers. Objectivists have perhaps not realized just how right they are.
  • “The Finance Argument” — mum’s the word, for now.
  • “Consent of the Governed: Anti-concept” — self-explanatory.
  • The following posts are less likely to make it in to the series:
    • “Ayn Rand’s Cartesian Politics” — my notes on this one are too sparse, and I’ve forgotten what the post was going to be about. (Though I’m sure it had something to do with Objectivist politics being rationalistic.) I mention it just in case …
    • “How Newton Made America” — ideas move history in more complex ways that I have seen Objectivists appreciate. Nietzsche had important things to say about this. I think Newton had more to do with the founding of the United States than anyone has recognized thus far.
    • “Objective Law in One Sentence”
    • “Dear Prudence” — not how the Objectivist politics is wrong, but why it is.

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 Founders’ extensively inductive, clever, and subtle statecraft with the pie-in-the-sky, hand-wavy statecraft of Objectivism (and this is where I’ve left off); identify fatal lacunae in Objectivism’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 “live rough draft.” 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.

Regarding universals: I am nowhere near done with “The Solution to the Problem of Universals.” Nor am I done here. I have much revision work to do, and I haven’t forgotten it.

Slush Mugs

There’s this box I haven’t unpacked sitting just out of reach. Its top is partway open. I can see there’s a “Slush Mug” in there. If you don’t know what a “Slush Mug” is, that sucks for you. The product of a “Slush Mug” is delicious.

Between me and the slush mug box there’s a stack of books that I really want to get into. I don’t see that happening this week or next.

These facts, and others, indicate that finishing some of the projects I’ve got open here is a way off.

This Is Not a Thought

Imagine this: you wake up one day, and realize you are in an insane asylum. Shortly, you put it together that you’ve been here all your life. There are several reasons why it had been difficult to recognize your situation: The inmates and the staff in this asylum dress and act alike, and it is not a trivial matter to discern each from the other. Though circumlocutory talk of “escaping” the asylum is among the inmates’ favorite pastimes, very few walk out, which is remarkable, considering the grounds are only nominally secured. In fact, only staff are not permitted to leave, which does not seem to bother them. A further oddity is that inmates and staff alike tend to talk of the asylum as if its construction were the definitive achievement of humanity.

This is a tired metaphor. I’ve put it to use in part because I myself am a bit tired. (And, truth be told, I disdain readers who get fussy if the metaphors they’re presented with aren’t “fresh” — by which they of course mean titillating.) For the other part, I’ve put it to use because it’s apt. Providing context and such, nice gentle spiral ramps of words … these are superfluous in an asylum. Freed from the Sisyphean task of translating myself into the carpet-munching vernacular, I hope I’ll feel inclined to post more often. That is all.