Saturday, September 1, 2007

Signs of Intelligent Life in the Randiverse?

Intelligent criticism from Randians is rare enough to warrant notice - and even acclaim - when it appears.

Here's a lengthy, detailed critique of your favorite reanimated Aztec mummy's blog - a critique that actually manages to sound sensible and nuanced.

Naturally, we at RandZapper disagree with the critique, but at least the author attempts to separate himself (and his philosophy) from the nonsense often proffered in Objectivism's name.

We think that in drawing this distinction, the author overstates his case. It's quite obvious, for instance, that John Lewis was advocating the use of nuclear weapons in the article we quoted, even if he didn't come straight out and say it. Leonard Peikoff, pontificating on The O'Reilly Factor a few years ago, advocated the use of battlefield nukes without specific presidential authorization (prompting the astonished host to dub him "Dr. Strangelove"). And the quotes we take from newsgroups are not from outliers, but mainly from the oldest and most prominent Objectivist discussion group on the Web.

Still, it is good to know that not all Randians favor blasting the planet to kingdom come just to make a point.

The author also overreaches when he argues that Ayn Rand didn't want loyalists, but independent thinkers who would use her philosophy as a means to their ends. This may be what Rand said, but as Groucho would have put it, "Who ya gonna trust - me or your lying Ayn?" In her actual practice, as opposed to theory, Rand surrounded herself with sycophants, became enraged over petty disagreements, required her followers to undergo psychological therapy if they doubted her doctrines, excommunicated anyone unwilling to follow this regime, and ended up virtually alone because she had alienated nearly all her friends and allies. Today you can easily find online Randists competing with each other to prove which one boasts the most comprehensive recall of their goddess's sacred works - line by line, and word by word. The Objectivist movement is a herd of independent minds.

Sadly, there is no mention of the Randians' fascination with the word "savages" and their evident desire to expunge said savages from the Earth by any means necessary. But we acknowledge that no critique can cover everything.

Anyhow, read it for yourself. We are happy to provide a link to a Randist who has something intelligent to say. If only he were not such an isolated case!

(Those who wish to read the rationale for RandZapper's strategy of quoting only the most extreme comments made by self-identified Objectivists can find it here.)