The Hatred of Objectivism is the Hatred of objectivity.


Victor Pross

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Hey there, Victor!

I suppose MSK and Kevin missed choir practice that day!  :D  

Victor

ps

Given my sense of humor and appreciation for irony, I had to do it. :-&

Sorry if this feels like double posting on ya, but I gotta clarify something. I know you plan to respond at greater length when you have time, but maybe this will help focus your response. It occurs to me that I don't agree with your premise: that hatred of Objectivism is the hatred of objectivity. I believe it is possible to judge Ayn Rand harshly without hating objectivity.

More to the point, I also think it's possible to hate objectivity without ever having heard of Ayn Rand. I absolutely agree that subjectivity (the whole infuriating don't know/can't know thing); the fear of reality masquerading as academic rigor; our culture-wide, people-pleasing p.c. cowardice; the abject obeisance to tradition--or just the latest intellectual fad coming out of France--are all rampant in modern academic life. I just don't see it having anything necessarily to do with Ayn Rand.

-Kevin

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Hi Kevin,

You wrote:..."It occurs to me that I don't agree with your premise: that hatred of Objectivism is the hatred of objectivity. I believe it is possible to judge Ayn Rand harshly without hating objectivity."

Yes, of course, I agree with you on that point. I come across that all the time. You know, when one searchs around the internet, one comes across very interesting stuff. In connection to your above point, consider this:

“…When she [Ayn Rand] first got to the US she didn't support her own self; some relatives gave her a place to stay. Not only did she not pay them, she didn't even behave like a good guest--she ran up their water bills, pounded on her typewriter all night while others tried to sleep, etc. Her first job in Hollywood wasn't something she earned through her own merit; she got it thanks to a letter of introduction written by a family member who knew some high Hollywood mucky-muck. And then, in her one-page bio at the end of Atlas Shrugged, she bragged about how she succeeded entirely by herself. A Randian who's opposed to altruism is like a member of the Church of England opposing divorce; without various acts of altruism Alice Rosenbaum, a.k.a. Ayn Rand, would've returned to Russia and died in obscurity, just as without divorce, there would be no C of E.”

And you further write: "More to the point, I also think it's possible to hate objectivity without ever having heard of Ayn Rand."

Of course! Now, can you imagine what they would think of Rand if and when they come across her? [exceptions aside]. I certainly hope I didn't give the impression that nobody hated reason, individualism and freedom--UNTIL Ayn Rand was born and started to be published. Good God, no!

But when it DOES come to Rand--for once, it would be interesting to read a criticism of Rand that doesn't boil down to either a gross misrepresentation of her philosophy or idiosyncratic critique of her style or her alleged outraged-bitter-aging-scorned-women behavior. WHY are these people so brazenly dishonest? Don’t you ever get the impression that in their “critique” of Objectivism that they know better, and that what they are critiquing is not Objectivism—and they know it. But they have an agenda to be carried out, and those pesky little things called fairness, truth, and accuracy will not get in the way.

And you also wrote: I absolutely agree that subjectivity (the whole infuriating don't know/can't know thing); the fear of reality masquerading as academic rigor; our culture-wide, people-pleasing p.c. cowardice; the abject obeisance to tradition--or just the latest intellectual fad coming out of France--are all rampant in modern academic life. I just don't see it having anything necessarily to do with Ayn Rand.

I'm only saying that much of the hysterical hatred that I have read about (and personally encountered) when it comes to Rand comes from the intellectual climate you cited just now. The TA at the Gary Hull is standard-issued stuff, except this creep was more vocal and open with it. Oh, the stories I have!

In my years, I have come across many interesting experiences. Sometimes the hatred for Rand [via her connection to the objectivity-rational Coalition] is muted. When her name is mentioned, sometimes you see a little angry red-light flash off in the eyes and a hard swallow. And then you learn it had nothing to do with Rand liking blue-green or her typing away late at night when people are trying to sleep or her affair with N. Branden.

Occasionally, you get guys like the below quote:

“Rand essentially argued that her philosophy was a complete guide to life; that it was perfect and whole. That should give one the first clue that she was selling snake oil.”

Now something else: regarding this “in-house” fighting among Objectivist. Here’s my Christmas wish: I wish that Objectivist in-house civil war didn’t exist. When the outside world looks in, I wish that these diverse groups of individuals would work together on core issues, instead of being seen as a collection of bickering cliques. But maybe that’s just the Pollyanna and Rodney King in me. [“Why can’t we just all get along”?]

So when I said I don't like this THEM and US talk, I meant the O world---NOT the outside world of modern academia. Hey, that's the little boy in me.

Victor

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I apologize to Victor Pross for allowing a hint of snarkiness to enter my last post. He detected it, the devil! And now I must say I am sorry. Argh.

May he forgive me the histrionics that follow.

The Hatred of Objectivism is the Hatred of objectivity?

Nah . . . more like The Occasional Demented Anger of Unreason Is Icky and Wrong and Makes Me Mad and Sick Inside When It Happens. I'll go with that. Or, A Whole Lot of People are Nasty and Stupid, Dontcha Think? That one makes me go too.

So, no -- call me quirky, but I think reason has a relatively large role in our affairs as peoples and nations up here in Norteamericanuckistan -- compared to the vast hordes outside. Even the fully-evul-by-any-objective-standard Scandinavians get long, productive happy lives out of their deal in their hellish statist holes. . . on balance, we could be doing way way worse. On balance, the old West has won, the die has been struck, the world knits together on all the West has on offer (science and technology, liberal democracy, secularism, trade, western 'liberal' values, western languages and ethics). Any third-worlder can see which societies and national blocs have cut a good deal for their citizens . . . has reason not had a part in this creation?

Who wishes to enter the magical world of industrialized democracies? I'd say the rest of the world (luckily most will first attempt this on their own soil, viz S Korea, Singapore, Taiwan -- even the fully evul whore of statist Babylon Europe is doing great compared to the luckless countries from which it draws its millions of immigrants. And the utmost statist hellhole of all, France, still sucks in the biggest hordes of tourists to view its hideous decay and its blasted countryside and its cowed, feckless people . . . ).

And still, whatever the horrid backdrop of drooling stooges in the Academy and deranged writers at large . . . I still seek out and find good sharp reason from the likes of, well, Haack, Pinker, Dawkins, Pharyngula, etc . . . all, strangely perhaps, from the, um, Academy.

Even against a full-on rage-fest against reason that happens every day on the bloodstained streets of this my city, I still feel hopeful. I don't expect anything more of the great hordes than what the great hordes are historically apt to do, them billions of humans who loom on all sides . . . which maybe makes me cynical rather than optimistic (or, in an ugly way, realistic) to some eyes, no? Perhaps. But anyhow . . .

From Victor's rejoinder to Kevin:

I'm only saying that much of the hysterical hatred that I have read about and personally encountered when it comes to Rand comes from the intellectual climate your cited just now. The TA at the Gary Hull is standard-issued stuff, except this creep was more vocal and open with it. Through out the my years, I have come across many interesting experiences. Sometimes the hatred for Rand [via her connection to objectivity-rational Coalition] is muted. When her name is mentioned, sometimes you see a little angry red-light flash off in the eyes and a hard swallow.

Occasionally, you get guys like the below quote:

“Rand essentially argued that her philosophy was a complete guide to life; that it was perfect and whole. That should give one the first clue that she was selling snake oil.”

Good stuff! "Hysterical hatred," yeah. Just like in the movies. I googled Rand essentially argued that her philosophy was a complete guide to life and found what might be its provenance. Did you find this snippet here? If so, this fella 'Gary Gunnels' is quite a blog big mouth. Is he 'today's intellectual'? : ) (Gunnels posts repeatedly in a loooooong comment thread on the Hit and Run blog in January 2005. Kee-razy Rand ratbrain ranting in parts).

I'm maybe more optimistic, on balance, whatever the odds . . . I see lots of allies in the intellectual world, the names I mentioned in posts above and many more, and I feel good. A great touchstone book (besides Haack's Science within Reason) is Sokal and Bricmont's Intellectual Impostures (zinging it to the danged Frenchie pomos! Great cover.) -- I maybe get more encouragement from the forces that thrust back against unreason. Those who seek a reduction in postmodern hoohah like me and most others here at OL cheer you on, El Victor, when you take on the bad former Objectivist playwright Sky Gilbert (who got yer 25 bucks, bless his capitalist soul) and his nasty former Objectivist melodrama . . .

Take heart, Victor -- no one here takes away your deeper point that fully-reasoning people are a minority, that the vast expanses of the intellectual landscape are not an untrammeled prairie wild and free, fit for Objectivists to trade and mate and craft a world of reason. We are more or less with you on that, I figure.

Now something else regarding this “in-house” fighting among Objectivist. Here’s my Christmas wish: I wish that Objectivist in-house civil war didn’t exist. When the outside world looks in, I wish that these diverse groups of individuals would work together on core issues, instead of being seen as a collection of bickering cliques. But maybe that’s just the Pollyanna and Rodney King in me. [“Why can’t we just all get along”?]

I've thought of some kind of grand Summit of Objectivism, a sombre conclave of the top echelons of all the factions. At a secret (but lavish) conference on some sunny isle. A thousand flowers could bloom.

So when I said I don't like this THEM and US talk, I meant with the O world---NOT the outside world of modern academia. "

Well, who doesn't, you know? I mean, what if we have to wait a hundred years before the twaddle about Rand subsides? What if it takes that long? Who will care by then who did what to whom? Are contemporary followers of Kant or Nietzsche (or Haack or Dennett or Rorty or even Northop frigging Frye) bickering over beddings and betrayals of their lessers and their underlings?

One more thing:

I quote William: "...now, as with Kevin, Saul and Robert, I want flesh on these bones. All these creatures, all this evul, I want a face, faces, names, identities on which we may fasten proper o-istic loathing."

And now I quote Kevin: "I don't believe anyone is asking for a laundry list [of names] (I don't believe that you truly believe William is--it doesn't help the communication process to willfully misrepresent the other person's argument when you don't like it)." [Did I do that!?] 8-[

No, Victor. But no in the sense I am not wanting lists, just more good cites and illustrations and examples . . .

Gentlemen, I want you to know this: In my posting of these apparent contradictions and incongruent quotes among different individualists—I’m not displaying any “Big O-rage.” It’s rather fun and enlightening.

"Oh yeah?" as they say it in Fargo. Seriously, I didn't figure you are all that riled about criticism. It's good for the work. It moves one on and makes one better.

Having said that, I don’t think my article is a “given.” Views seem to differ even here. However, while it is true that this post is rather polemist-like in tone, I can assure you that my contributions have been [and will be] varied and interesting. The best is still to come. I think I'm a valuable member; it's only been a few days. It’s all good! (as they say).

Turn it on, Victor. Light them danged afterburners . . . ! : )

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Now something else: regarding this “in-house” fighting among Objectivist. Here’s my Christmas wish: I wish that Objectivist in-house civil war didn’t exist. When the outside world looks in, I wish that these diverse groups of individuals would work together on core issues, instead of being seen as a collection of bickering cliques. But maybe that’s just the Pollyanna and Rodney King in me. [“Why can’t we just all get along”?]

Hey Victor,

This is a sentiment shared by many of us here at OL. The whole issue of negative emotions in Objectivist circles is about as hot a topic as you can find on any Oist board.

Here's a thought that keeps crossing my mind (and excuse me if I'm hijacking your thread a little bit with this): the Objectivist movement is the only non-fundamentalist religious group I've encountered that puts such a high premium on judging others and judging them harshly. It is my experience that most people, across the board, do not enjoy being judged by others. Such a combination (a community founded upon harsh judgement and the human discomfort with being judged) is a recipe for "us and them" thinking. "Us and them" really means "the judgers and the judged." And the judged tend to hate being the judged and will do their best to reverse the polarity. How in the world do you get around that?

Maybe what the Objectivist movement needs most is to find a way to make "being judged" attractive to people.

It sounds like a joke, but I'm quite serious.

Maybe the first thing Objectivism should teach the neophyte is how to accept and integrate harsh criticism by others. That is no easy task. It requires a level of self-awareness and self-acceptance that, to my knowledge, comes only with the passing of the years and a lot of good will and good luck! But without such wisdom, being judged will sting, sometimes mightily, and people will want to sting back. Where does it end? All too often it ends in the Objectivist community looking like a snake pit.

If this movement is ever to become healthy, judging must be understood as a two-way street. All too often I believe, people sign on with Objectivism just as people sign on with fundamentalist churches--to escape being judged by others by becoming perminent, self-appointed and infalible judges themselves.

-Kevin

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  • 11 months later...

Dan,

Thank you for exposing the plagiarism.

For the record, here is the full set of quotes you mentioned in your post dated June 8, 2007 in the "Modern intellectuals and hatred of Ayn Rand" thread of the Worldwide Ayn Rand Meetup Message Board.

Michael Smith's pseudonym on the Objectivism Online forum is "AisA."

OL extends its deepest apologies to Michael Smith.

Michael Smith - Post on "Public and Intellectuals" on Objectivism Online - 2004

"I have encountered this hatred, and I believe Rand identified its cause.

Today?s intellectuals are predominantly products of the modern education system, which has bombarded them with the tenets of skepticism and pragmatism: knowledge is impossible, no one can know anything for certain, there is no independent reality, all ethics are arbitrary, etc."

Victor Pross - "Re: Modern Intellectuals and hatred of Ayn Rand" - 2006

"I have encountered this hatred, and I believe Rand identified its cause in her article ?The age of envy.? That is a must read.

Today?s intellectuals are predominantly products of the modern education system, which has bombarded them with the tenets of skepticism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, altruism and pragmatism: knowledge is impossible, no one can know anything for certain, there is no independent reality, all ethics are arbitrary, self-sacrifice is the moral ideal, submit to the dictates of the tribe, etc."

Michael Smith - Post on "Public and Intellectuals" on Objectivism Online - 2004

"To the degree that people swallow these notions ? and the worst of today?s intellectuals have swallowed them completely ? they surrender their mind, which they know, at least intuitively, is their only tool of survival. Such surrender is humiliating. By giving up their tool of survival, they make themselves unworthy of survival. They become a creature that cannot live and does not deserve to. Worse, the surrender is voluntary and done for the most cowardly motive of all: the approval of the pack."

Victor Pross - "Re: Modern Intellectuals and hatred of Ayn Rand" - 2006

"To the degree that people swallow these notions ? and the worst of today?s intellectuals have swallowed them completely ? they surrender their mind, which they know, at least intuitively, is their only tool of survival. Such surrender is humiliating. By giving up their tool of survival, they make themselves unworthy of survival. They become a creature that does not want to live, a hater of man and of life. Worse, the surrender is voluntary and done for the most cowardly motive of all: the approval of the pack."

Michael Smith - Post on "Public and Intellectuals" on Objectivism Online - 2004

"Humility and hostility are two sides of the same intellectual coin. That is why so many of today?s intellectuals bristle with venom at the slightest challenge. Their self-imposed humiliation generates a self-directed hostility, a rage they must constantly evade by directing it outward toward anyone that dares to challenge their positions.

Somewhere Ms. Rand wrote that all evil philosophies are systems of rationalization. The behavior of today?s intellectuals is proof. Skepticism is the ultimate tool of evasion -- it permits anyone to deny anything."

Victor Pross - "Re: Modern Intellectuals and hatred of Ayn Rand" - 2006

"Humility and hostility are two sides of the same intellectual coin. That is why so many of today?s intellectuals bristle with venom at the slightest challenge. Their self-imposed humiliation generates a self-directed hostility, a rage they must constantly evade by directing it outward toward anyone that dares to challenge their positions.

Somewhere Ms. Rand wrote that all evil philosophies are systems of rationalization. The behavior of today?s intellectuals is proof. Skepticism is the ultimate tool of evasion -- it permits anyone to deny anything."

Michael Smith - Post on "Public and Intellectuals" on Objectivism Online - 2004

"Objectivism is the ultimate threat to these people ? and they know it. Objectivism cannot be tolerated, it cannot be a part of any intellectual discourse ? because it blasts away all of their torturous equivocations and evasions and exposes them for what they are: empty shells that once had a chance to be human."

Victor Pross - "Re: Modern Intellectuals and hatred of Ayn Rand" - 2006

"Objectivism is the ultimate threat to these people ? and they know it. Objectivism cannot be tolerated, it cannot be a part of any intellectual discourse ? because it blasts away all of their torturous equivocations and evasions and exposes them for what they are: empty shells that once had a chance to be human."

----------------

Note: A plagiarized paragraph from the same post by Smith was used in Pross's article, Philosophy Attacks Objectivism and objectivity.

Michael

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  • 14 years later...
On 7/5/2006 at 4:23 PM, Kevin Haggerty said:

Maybe the first thing Objectivism should teach the neophyte is how to accept and integrate harsh criticism by others. That is no easy task. It requires a level of self-awareness and self-acceptance that, to my knowledge, comes only with the passing of the years and a lot of good will and good luck! But without such wisdom, being judged will sting, sometimes mightily, and people will want to sting back. Where does it end? All too often it ends in the Objectivist community looking like a snake pit.

Interesting long thread ... re-upped.

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btw - Kevin Haggerty is a sweetheart of a guy. We sometimes exchange pleasantries on Facebook.

He's totally woo-woo now (I mean, really woo-woo :) ) and I wish him all the best.

I am not on that wavelength, but I will not scoff at human beings when they find gentle happiness.

In fact I celebrate it.

Michael

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