Friday, October 8, 2010

Atlas Stank

I got into a verbal fistfight with an objectivist on the local newspaper forums here in Seattle. To quote the Spleen, "BIG. MISTAKE." I keep forgetting what a cult Objectivism is for some people.

I pointed out something that has come up in a lot of scholarly works about her of late, that she admired William Edward Hickman, a pretty horrible murderer, thief and kidnapper. At the same time, she derided the society that was so up in arms about what he'd done. I won't go into all those details right now, since I don't need to rehash what other folks have done better. Be warned, if you follow the link, you will possibly end up reading about the man's worst crime. It's beyond revolting.

However, this particular Rand acolyte directed everyone to not read anything I was commenting on (as it was based on Rand's less "mature" thought), and to go the website of the Ayn Rand Institute. As with my previous post on the Koran burner, I'm not giving out a website for a group that has more than enough publicity. You wanna read this stuff, go look it up.

The things I find amusing about Objectivists: it's all about Reason, Rational behavior, Rational emotions ("rational" emotions? I was under the impresstion that rational and emotional were kind of at odds with each other), and Capitalism - unregulated, unfettered capitalism - would set everyone free. Financial market meltdowns, depressions, etc., are all caused solely by unwarranted government regulation and interference - not greed, not poor planning, not due to anything that a Capitalist would have done, no, they're all too smart to screw themselves or the economy or the whole world over for a few extra bucks. And Religion, all religion is bad and stupid and wrong and misguided.

Not totally disagreeing with the last thought, but it's not up to me to judge what other people believe, unless their beliefs directly impinge upon my rights and freedoms. Rand thought all religion is inherently evil. She liked that word a lot. So do a lot of objectivists.


Charity: Evil.

Public Education: Evil.

Environmental Protection: Evil.

While I understand the basic premise, that government should only be there to protect us from the violence done by others (physical violence, that is), and to enforce contracts, and to defend the nation against enemies, I think the problem resides in the idea that if everyone just behaved, the world would be fine.

I mean, how naiive can you get?

But the Ayn Rand Institute is carrying water for a lot of large corporate interests, and I wonder how Rand's followers would feel if they really looked at what these shmucks write, and who they like to play with. Michael Berliner, one of the board co-chairs, works for a government-subsidized university, Cal State Northridge. Arline Mann, the other board co-chair, is a lawyer who works as Managing Director and General Counsel of Goldman Sachs. The President, Yaron Brook, regularly appears on Glenn Beck's shows to talk about why government regulation and monetary policies are all bad.

First of all, public education, according to Ayn Rand, is eeeeeevil. So what is Berliner doing, working at a State University, living off the public teat?

And don't get me started on Ms. Mann. Ayn Rand and Goldman Sachs. How absolutely fucking perfect.

Glenn Beck is a practicing Mormon, who promotes the writings of Cleon Skousen, famous for defending the Mormon church against charges of racism (they wouldn't ordain black ministers), by accusing his accusers of being Communists (pretty much anyone who disagreed with Mr. Skousen was accused of Communism - it's an easy out, after all). Beck, of course, regularly promotes religion in his TV and Radio programs, and his Event on August 28th was pretty much a big revival meeting with bits of Sarah Palin thrown in. So, does Brook go on Beck's show and argue theology with him? Of course not. As long as Glenn Beck promotes the idea that income tax is bad, and government regulation is bad, Mr. Brook is perfectly willing to overlook Beck's little pecadilloes regarding the nature of the entire Universe and whether or not there's even a God. Personally, I think Ayn Rand would be spinning in her grave.

One of the "Fellows" of the Institute, Alex Epstein, has written extensively on environmental issues, how we'll never run out of oil if we just keep looking, how all those folks advocating solar, wind and waves are idiots, because it's never been proven to really work that well (except, of course, where it does), and environmentalism is just another form of evil. An Analyst in the Policy Division, Thomas Bowden, writes about Culture (which I thought meant art and music), and at least one of his articles is about how Columbus helped bring enlightenment and prosperity to the American Indian. Never mind about that whole syphilis thing. Mostly he writes about Christmas not being commercial enough (isn't Christmas a relgious holiday?), and at Thanksgiving, we should be thanking ourselves.

The fatal flaw of Objectivism and Libertarianism (which isn't the same, there's no philosophical foundation for Libertarianism - according to the Objectivists I've talked to) is that, given the chance, everyone will behave in a strict, moral fashion, and everyone will have the opportunity to succeed, most especially if government gets out of the way, and lets everyone just do their thing.

Must be nice in that bubble.

All in all, Objectivism is a philosophical wonderland populated by would-be aristocrats who've been kept down by the Man, man, self-deluded, both historically and morally untenable. And I won't fall into the trap of treating one of Rand's followers as rational, ever again.


R.A. Sapp said...'re basically saying Ayn Rand's thinking isn't rational, right?

stEn said...

Pretty much, yeah.

(excuse me while I get serious for a moment)

This idea that we can all be totally rational all the time just seems kind of inhuman. I'm sure there are quite a few people capable of this, but I don't imagine they have much of a sense of humor.

(back to snark)

Which is why I try to be as annoying as possible. :-)

R.A. Sapp said...

Thanks for the clarification.