[...] The issue is not one of moral obligation to Rand, but of personal integrity. That is, if you value something, and that value is threatened, it is an issue of integrity to fight for it and not sit on the sidelines while it is being attacked and distorted. It is an issue of selfish concern with one's own interests, which surely lie in the preservation of one's values.
I'm still going to have to demur with you, though, and allude to an issue that David Kelley identified in "Truth and Toleration": the unrecognized difficulty of making valid moral judgments, regarding nearly everyone whose life is not an open book of public activity.
Because you're still talking about a moral obligation, even if it isn't or wasn't to Rand. What neither you nor I can see readily within someone else is every aspect
of how one chooses, or is able, to thus "fight." You don't know what nearly every one of these people who wrote to her did — in private.
Whether they stood down those bearing or advocating destruction in their families, their companies, the State apparatus, the schools they fund, the charities or projects they oversee.
Personal integrity is a moral iceberg. We only see the deliberate public acts. We can try to infer, from such acts, as to consistency or ability to carry out what one espouses — again, in public. Yet the remaining ninety percent of human interactions are nearly always, short of a Boswell or a Theodore White, left unseen and unchronicled.
We also, to extend the metaphor, can make fatal navigation mistakes by assuming that public actions must match private evaluations. Or that it is even possible to match them. Every circumstance is different.
You seem to be suggesting that not supporting Rand in public, the fact as such of not doing so, as against what they said to her in private, is a prima facie
indicator of hypocrisy and of a lack of personal integrity. If you are, I simply cannot agree.
I know what can impinge on such decisions, as to opportunities, means, and ability, and so do you. Many of the "titans of industry" or of science were, and are, remarkably inarticulate. Not everyone can get an effective forum who wants one — even now, the Blog Revolution is still largely potential. And the mass-media gatekeepers, even down to op-ed letter-editors, have by no means been routed from their positions.
You appear to be calling for a moral-judgment shortcut, one that has more parallels than I would like to see to Peikoff's notion of "inherently dishonest ideas." Private lives and circumstances are just that. We don't know what impinges on such individual choices. We also have only rare occasion to make it worthwhile to try to find that out. If we manage this in our own family circles, it's a rare achievement.
I have always found the idea of being "above the battle" — which means, in practice, hoping that others will fight for one's values, to be exceedingly repugnant.
And how many who consoled or encouraged Rand privately, but did not follow through publicly, actually expressed this to you?
Again, you seem to be assuming that one's not following through, as such,
means that one bears such a hope. That lack of such success signifies a lack of effort, intention, or taking responsibility. If you are, that, to me, is a quite crabbed view of the rest of humanity.
It's far easier to thus follow through, electronically or otherwise, in 2007 than it was in 1957. Part of this ability was made possible by Rand's own novel getting hundreds of thousands of readers in each of those fifty years.
Philip Coates is right: Taking in these ideas, and disrupting one's mental and social networks to make such changes, takes time, thought, and accumulated mental capital. It isn't the work of a moment. A few weeks or months at the end of 1957 was, well, a historical moment.
Edited by Greybird, 26 November 2007 - 03:41 AM.