Harry Binswanger on Glen Beck-May 4th.


Recommended Posts

From the Fox Forum: http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/05/05/beck_rights/

I recently spoke with Harry Binswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute. We got to talking about the national shift we’re feeling from the power of the individual to working for the collective good–as defined by the government—and here’s what he thought would be necessary to change that:

HARRY BINSWANGER: You need a philosophical revolution. That’s why I’m in philosophy. I want to teach the principles of individual rights and egoism.

GLENN BECK: You know, I was just talking about this…how neither party is standing up for the individual and individual rights. Neither side.

HARRY BINSWANGER: You’re absolutely right.

GLENN BECK: Nobody is teaching this. That’s the biggest problem we have.

HARRY BINSWANGER: That is. Yes. Ayn Rand was a big–the biggest advocate–of individualism. That’s what made this country great. All the other countries are collectivists - the group, the royal court, the tribe. Those are the people to whom you owe your life, and you’re just the serf. But in America, you’re born free.

GLENN BECK: Yes. But not anymore -

HARRY BINSWANGER: Well, that was the idea.

I disagree with Harry in only one way—not only was that the idea, it still is the idea. I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand and I think there’s a lot that can be learned from her writings. Too many of our leaders are preaching a “what’s best for the state” message, and it’s got to stop. It’s coming from both parties, and there’s lots of blame to spread around. America is a tightly knit group of individuals, and it’s our independent spirit that has pulled us out of tougher jams than the one we’re in now. It’s worked before, and it will work again. Don’t get me wrong—if you and a bunch of your buddies individually decide to pool all your money and go buy some land together in Vermont…beat on drums, eat brown rice and express your love of communal living through interpretive dance…while that may sound like Hell on Earth to me, I wish you all the best. Individuals can decide to do things together. Actually, we have a great tradition of that in the country, started by guys like Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched the program. I thought Harry B did quite well. I still find Beck annoying.

Chris,

I got the opposite impression.

Beck was the one who raised all the important issues like individualism, the scam of education, etc. Binswanger basically rubber-stamped him.

Although it is not substantive, I really didn't like Binswanger's demeanor. What nyerky nerdy kind of guy with a gentle honk for a voice. I imagine him eating toast in the morning by dunking it in cold milk first and dripping some on his chin.

:)

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the Fox Forum: http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/05/05/beck_rights/

I recently spoke with Harry Binswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute. We got to talking about the national shift we’re feeling from the power of the individual to working for the collective good–as defined by the government—and here’s what he thought would be necessary to change that:

HARRY BINSWANGER: You need a philosophical revolution. That’s why I’m in philosophy. I want to teach the principles of individual rights and egoism.

GLENN BECK: You know, I was just talking about this…how neither party is standing up for the individual and individual rights. Neither side.

HARRY BINSWANGER: You’re absolutely right.

GLENN BECK: Nobody is teaching this. That’s the biggest problem we have.

HARRY BINSWANGER: That is. Yes. Ayn Rand was a big–the biggest advocate–of individualism. That’s what made this country great. All the other countries are collectivists - the group, the royal court, the tribe. Those are the people to whom you owe your life, and you’re just the serf. But in America, you’re born free.

GLENN BECK: Yes. But not anymore -

HARRY BINSWANGER: Well, that was the idea.

I disagree with Harry in only one way—not only was that the idea, it still is the idea. I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand and I think there’s a lot that can be learned from her writings. Too many of our leaders are preaching a “what’s best for the state” message, and it’s got to stop. It’s coming from both parties, and there’s lots of blame to spread around. America is a tightly knit group of individuals, and it’s our independent spirit that has pulled us out of tougher jams than the one we’re in now. It’s worked before, and it will work again. Don’t get me wrong—if you and a bunch of your buddies individually decide to pool all your money and go buy some land together in Vermont…beat on drums, eat brown rice and express your love of communal living through interpretive dance…while that may sound like Hell on Earth to me, I wish you all the best. Individuals can decide to do things together. Actually, we have a great tradition of that in the country, started by guys like Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin…

I have a question. What happens when a pupil (or a teacher), on the grounds of his individual rights, refuses to give the "plegde of allegiance" in the classroom?

Edited by Xray
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
From the Fox Forum: http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/05/05/beck_rights/

I recently spoke with Harry Binswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute. We got to talking about the national shift we’re feeling from the power of the individual to working for the collective good–as defined by the government—and here’s what he thought would be necessary to change that:

HARRY BINSWANGER: You need a philosophical revolution. That’s why I’m in philosophy. I want to teach the principles of individual rights and egoism.

GLENN BECK: You know, I was just talking about this…how neither party is standing up for the individual and individual rights. Neither side.

HARRY BINSWANGER: You’re absolutely right.

GLENN BECK: Nobody is teaching this. That’s the biggest problem we have.

HARRY BINSWANGER: That is. Yes. Ayn Rand was a big–the biggest advocate–of individualism. That’s what made this country great. All the other countries are collectivists - the group, the royal court, the tribe. Those are the people to whom you owe your life, and you’re just the serf. But in America, you’re born free.

GLENN BECK: Yes. But not anymore -

HARRY BINSWANGER: Well, that was the idea.

I disagree with Harry in only one way—not only was that the idea, it still is the idea. I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand and I think there’s a lot that can be learned from her writings. Too many of our leaders are preaching a “what’s best for the state” message, and it’s got to stop. It’s coming from both parties, and there’s lots of blame to spread around. America is a tightly knit group of individuals, and it’s our independent spirit that has pulled us out of tougher jams than the one we’re in now. It’s worked before, and it will work again. Don’t get me wrong—if you and a bunch of your buddies individually decide to pool all your money and go buy some land together in Vermont…beat on drums, eat brown rice and express your love of communal living through interpretive dance…while that may sound like Hell on Earth to me, I wish you all the best. Individuals can decide to do things together. Actually, we have a great tradition of that in the country, started by guys like Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin…

I have a question. What happens when a pupil (or a teacher), on the grounds of his individual rights, refuses to give the "plegde of allegiance" in the classroom?

What happens in that case?

Edited by Xray
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few weeks back, Glen Beck did a piece on his show and he displayed a chronology of events leading up to and past FDR's New Deal. It focused specifically on how the people are fed up with both the Republicans and Democrats. We can see this with the sway of power every 4-8 years as the administration changes from one to the other, with ultimately nothing getting fixed and nothing serving the individual rights. It ties in with Beck's response to Binswanger.

I happen to like Glen Beck, and that chronology and his understanding of what's going on only cemented that liking.

~ Shane

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the Fox Forum: http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/05/05/beck_rights/

I recently spoke with Harry Binswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute. We got to talking about the national shift we’re feeling from the power of the individual to working for the collective good–as defined by the government—and here’s what he thought would be necessary to change that:

HARRY BINSWANGER: You need a philosophical revolution. That’s why I’m in philosophy. I want to teach the principles of individual rights and egoism.

GLENN BECK: You know, I was just talking about this…how neither party is standing up for the individual and individual rights. Neither side.

HARRY BINSWANGER: You’re absolutely right.

GLENN BECK: Nobody is teaching this. That’s the biggest problem we have.

HARRY BINSWANGER: That is. Yes. Ayn Rand was a big–the biggest advocate–of individualism. That’s what made this country great. All the other countries are collectivists - the group, the royal court, the tribe. Those are the people to whom you owe your life, and you’re just the serf. But in America, you’re born free.

GLENN BECK: Yes. But not anymore -

HARRY BINSWANGER: Well, that was the idea.

I disagree with Harry in only one way—not only was that the idea, it still is the idea. I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand and I think there’s a lot that can be learned from her writings. Too many of our leaders are preaching a “what’s best for the state” message, and it’s got to stop. It’s coming from both parties, and there’s lots of blame to spread around. America is a tightly knit group of individuals, and it’s our independent spirit that has pulled us out of tougher jams than the one we’re in now. It’s worked before, and it will work again. Don’t get me wrong—if you and a bunch of your buddies individually decide to pool all your money and go buy some land together in Vermont…beat on drums, eat brown rice and express your love of communal living through interpretive dance…while that may sound like Hell on Earth to me, I wish you all the best. Individuals can decide to do things together. Actually, we have a great tradition of that in the country, started by guys like Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin…

I have a question. What happens when a pupil (or a teacher), on the grounds of his individual rights, refuses to give the "plegde of allegiance" in the classroom?

What happens in that case?

Still waiting for a reply ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GLENN BECK: I recently spoke with Harry Binswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute. We got to talking about the national shift we're feeling from the power of the individual to working for the collective good–as defined by the government—and here's what he thought would be necessary to change that:

HARRY BINSWANGER: You need a philosophical revolution. That's why I'm in philosophy. I want to teach the principles of individual rights and egoism.

GLENN BECK: You know, I was just talking about this…how neither party is standing up for the individual and individual rights. Neither side.

HARRY BINSWANGER: You're absolutely right.

GLENN BECK: Nobody is teaching this. That's the biggest problem we have.

HARRY BINSWANGER: That is. Yes. Ayn Rand was a big–the biggest advocate–of individualism. That's what made this country great. All the other countries are collectivists - the group, the royal court, the tribe. Those are the people to whom you owe your life, and you're just the serf. But in America, you're born free.

Although it was good to see Beck have someone from ARI, Binswanger was very ineffective, making bizarrely off-topic points for his audience.

That we need a philosophical revolution to lead to a political revolution is nice in-house (i.e., literally esoteric) bit of dogma, but Binswanger was speaking to a general audience on the political topic itself, not to philosophy students in a class on meta-political strategy. He was asked to comment on politics, and should have done so. It was like someone asked to comment on Ebonics discussing the difference between the functionalist and structuralist viewpoint of synchronic versus diachronic linguistics or someone talking about the swine flu saying that we need to avoid over-prescription ofd antibiotics leading to resistant strains of bacteria. It showed an inability on his point to chose the proper level of concreteness and to speak on his feet about the relevant issue to his listeners.

Then, why the "Ayn Rand was the biggest advocate of individualism" plug? He wasn't there to speak about Ayn Rand, but about the move towatrd statism. Would someone from the Cato Institute, asked about the "bailout" start plugging Cato? Had he simply made some relevant and pithy points, rather than acting as if he were (1) talking to the choir and (2) on the Ayn Rand episode of Biography he would have been a lot more effective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ted,

The following was recently pointed out to me in a manner that finally made sense. It is based on Rothbard's blast The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult, which is way too over-the-top for me to have pondered before, but the following rings true nevertheless.

There is a faction within the Objectivist world (usually among the orthodox, but elsewhere also) who treat the philosophy with specific exoteric and esoteric creeds. The exoteric (public) message is Rand's works like Atlas Shrugged, her essays and so forth. The esoteric (hidden) message is that Ayn Rand was the greatest human being who ever lived. Whenever people like Binswanger go in public, they push the esoteric message in first place—as the climax of their message—often using exoteric discussions of statism, capitalism, individualism, rights, etc., as a hook to get into it.

Michael Prescott recently posted on the "Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature" blog (see here) the following comment. The issue was another, but his comment suits this one quite well.

Sock-puppetry may be unethical, but it is an easily pardonable sin in the context of defending "the greatest human being who has ever lived."

...

They may not use precisely those words - they may say, "Ayn Rand is essential to saving civilization," or "Ayn Rand's achievements are so great that any criticism is irrelevant" - but the bottom line is that the end justifies the means.

Well said. The end justifies the means. Even and especially on national TV. Michael's examples can be extended to include "Ayn Rand was a big–the biggest advocate–of individualism. That's what made this country great. All the other countries are collectivists..."

The subtext is that "all the other countries" did not have the sanction of individualism as handed down by Ayn Rand, "the biggest advocate of individualism." Only the USA did, which is why everywhere else to Binswanger is collectivist.

When I first thought this, I thought it was a bit of a stretch. But the more I think about it, more and more pieces fall into place. There really is an esoteric message being promoted even in interviews like that.

Not even Rand thought all the other countries in the world were collectivist or that individualism existed only in the USA. I remember reading several passages where she discussed mixed premises, etc., in other countries. Just as she discussed the mixed premises of the USA.

Incidentally, I do not detect this esoteric-message-plugging attitude with Yaron Brook. I have other issues with him, but not that.

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ted,

The following was recently pointed out to me in a manner that finally made sense. It is based on Rothbard's blast The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult, which is way too over-the-top for me to have pondered before, but the following rings true nevertheless.

There is a faction within the Objectivist world (usually among the orthodox, but elsewhere also) who treat the philosophy with specific exoteric and esoteric creeds. The exoteric (public) message is Rand's works like Atlas Shrugged, her essays and so forth. The esoteric (hidden) message is that Ayn Rand was the greatest human being who ever lived. Whenever people like Binswanger go in public, they push the esoteric message in first place—as the climax of their message—often using exoteric discussions of statism, capitalism, individualism, rights, etc., as a hook to get into it.

Michael Prescott recently posted on the "Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature" blog (see here) the following comment. The issue was another, but his comment suits this one quite well.

Sock-puppetry may be unethical, but it is an easily pardonable sin in the context of defending "the greatest human being who has ever lived."

They may not use precisely those words - they may say, "Ayn Rand is essential to saving civilization," or "Ayn Rand's achievements are so great that any criticism is irrelevant" - but the bottom line is that the end justifies the means.

Well said. The end justifies the means. Even and especially on national TV. Michael's examples can be extended to include "Ayn Rand was a big–the biggest advocate–of individualism. That's what made this country great. All the other countries are collectivists..."

The subtext is that "all the other countries" did not have the sanction of individualism as handed down by Ayn Rand, "the biggest advocate of individualism." Only the USA did, which is why everywhere else to Binswanger is collectivist.

When I first thought this, I thought it was a bit of a stretch. But the more I think about it, more and more pieces fall into place. There really is an esoteric message being promoted even in interviews like that.

Not even Rand thought all the other countries in the world were collectivist or that individualism existed only in the USA. I remember reading several passages where she discussed mixed premises, etc., in other countries. Just as she discussed the mixed premises of the USA.

Incidentally, I do not detect this esoteric-message-plugging attitude with Yaron Brook. I have other issues with him, but not that.

Michael

Michael,

The exoteric, esoteric switch is a standard persuasion technique that is very effective but I agree that it doesn't appeal to people's rationality. Harry is appealing to Americans' sense of life and activating people's right temporal lobe spiritual area then slipping in the message he really wants them to come away with. Standard guided imagery hypnosis works the same way. There will be people who are turned off by this, but my guess is that the message was calibrated for Glenn Beck's audience, conservatives who are somewhat religious. I am not a Harry Binswanger fan, but I think he did well in this piece. Incidentally, the nerdy affect of the delivery is a huge improvement over Binswanger's previous public persona if you have ever seen videos of him when he was much younger.

The solution to the idolatry of Rand is not to dwell on things she got wrong but to identify them(mostly psychological, scientific or ignorance about human neurology)and point out someone who got them right and how. The Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature crowd and Michael Prescott are stuck in Rand denigration mode. If people are unsatisfied with Rand's view of human nature they should point out what they think is wrong, why they think it and if possible who got it right. Also, for the people who are sometimes prone to be overawed by Rand (I cycle through this at times), the solution is not to tear her down, but to find and celebrate other intellectual luminaries of similar stature.

Incidentally, I just got through reading Antonio Damasio's The Feeling of What Happens and it was a mind-blowing experience. There is something stilting and creativity thwarting about robotically applying Rand's conceptual methods while thinking. The reason is not because she was wrong philosophically, it's because our neurology is wired for narratives of mental imagery. The kind and form of these narratives vary widely from person to person. The people

who assiduously pore over her method to try to find out how to think more effectively have got the wrong idea. Everyone has to develop their own strengths when it comes to mental imagery and then learn from Rand's signature strength's: cognitive economy, premise checking and emphasis on meta-level conceptualization.

In counterpoint to ARCHN, I will simply point out the major things I think she got right about human neurology: measurement omission which dovetails quite nicely with inbuilt invariant representation, conceptualization and the Crow epistemology which correspond quite nicely to how information is accessed and processed in the 6-level human neocortical architecture and the emphasis on the Jamesian account of focus and attention in the exercise of free will.

Sure, you can find things to complain about, but why not celebrate what is profound? Incidentally, I don't make a separate category for Rand in this regard. The people quibble about Einstein because he didn't like quantum mechanics, the people who denigrate Schrodinger because of his philosophy(including the orthodox Objectivists), the people who focus on Bob Noyce's troubled marriage totally miss the point.

If people don't like what they perceive to be tendentiousness and megalomania in Rand, they should celebrate the artful humility of Schrodinger in his introduction to What is Life? The obverse problem to Rand idolatry or misplaced or exaggerated hero worship in general is obsession with the flaws of people who are great. If we want a society in which greatness flourishes we should celebrate it where we find it.

Jim

Edited by James Heaps-Nelson
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jim,

I never thought I would say this, but I agree with everything you just said.

I am going to reread it just so I am sure it is everything.

Dayaamm!

:)

btw - I have long-ago noted that the esoteric message of Rand's critics tends to be that she was wrong and contradicted herself in all cases, even when she wrote "and" and "the," in conjunction with the exoteric message, which is often some legitimate shortcoming in her argument.

Just because I don't say it very much doesn't mean I don't see it. Anyway, over time, I believe the truth balances this stuff out and relegates different stubbornly entrenched people to the fringes.

But I also believe there is room for leaning one way or the other—room for both Rand critics and Rand admirers—among reasonable people.

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jim,

I just reread it. I fully agree. Everything.

You views on cognition (including Rand's theoretical strengths and weaknesses in this area) are very similar to the ones I have arrived at through study, although I have not yet read Damasio.

Also, I am going to have to look up Bob Noyce. I don't know anything about him. But your comment about his marital problems awakened my Inner Gossip.

:)

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

This is from Atlasphere:

Who Is Glenn Beck?

Opinion Editorial by John Stossel - Jun 17, 2009

A few short years ago, most of us had never heard of Glenn Beck. Now he's everywhere and has 8 million viewers on cable television. Who is this guy, and what is he telling people?

Few of us had heard of Glenn Beck a few years ago. Now the conservative talk-jock is everywhere. His radio show reaches eight million people. He’s performing live before sold-out crowds on a comedy tour.

He’s had No. 1 bestsellers in both fiction and nonfiction — plus a new book, Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, came out this week.

And now he’s host of his own Fox News show, which, even though it airs in the ratings desert of late afternoon, has a bigger audience than every show on the other cable news channels.

Why is he so popular? Beck says it’s because he really believes what he says. I don’t buy that. Rachel Maddow and Lou Dobbs believe what they say, but their audience is a fraction of Beck’s. I hope he’s popular because of what he says, like: “Both parties only believe in the power of the party”; “if we get out of people’s way, the sky’s the limit”; and the answers to our problems “never come from Washington.”

Glenn Beck's

Common Sense

Much of the mainstream media despises Beck. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart quipped, “Finally, a guy who says what people who aren’t thinking are thinking.”

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has repeatedly named Beck “worst person in the world,” and one of his MSNBC colleagues compared his TV show to watching a “car accident.” On The View, Whoopi Goldberg called him “a lying sack of dog mess.”

Some of his critics dislike Beck because they consider him a Republican lapdog, but he attacks both parties. He criticized the Bush administration’s spending and bailout of AIG. He says that politicians from both parties are “lying to the people that they’re supposed to serve,” “flushing our country down the toilet for power,” and ignoring the Constitution.

He points to the takeovers of General Motors and AIG as examples of government grabbing power it doesn’t legitimately have. “We’re giving our freedoms away,” Beck says. “The American experiment was about freedom. Freedom to be stupid, freedom to fail, freedom to succeed.”

Though Beck is a success now, he struggled for years with serious personal problems. His parents divorced when he was a teenager. “My mother was an alcoholic and a drug addict,” he told me when I interviewed him for a 20/20 profile. She later committed suicide.

“When I hit 30, I was going down that same path. I tried for almost two years to stop drinking. I was a jerk. I fired a guy one time for bringing me the wrong kind of pen.”

Yet, Beck says, “I’d look myself in the mirror every day, and say, “You’re not an alcoholic. You don’t have a problem.”

“One morning,” he says, “my kids came down for breakfast, and they said, ‘Dad, tell us the story of Inky, Blinky and Stinky and the Island of Cheese.’ And I realized that not only could I not remember the story I told them, I didn’t even remember tucking them in. So I said, ‘You see how much you remember. You tell me what was the story.’”

That night he went to Alcoholics Anonymous. Not long after, he became a Mormon. I asked him why.

“I apologize, but guys will understand this. My wife is, like, hot, and she wouldn’t have sex with me until we got married. And she wouldn’t marry me unless we had a religion.”

I asked Tania Beck about that. She laughed, saying, “He’s not joking.”

Now Beck says that Mormonism has grounded him, so he’s grateful to his wife.

Whatever grounded him, I’m glad something did. Because it’s good to have a super-successful cable-TV host arguing that life would be better if government — Democrats and Republicans — just left Americans alone.

“We should reject big government and look inside ourselves for all the things that built this country into what it was,” Beck says.

I have listened to him since he reappeared from the the oblivion of alcoholism some 3-4 years ago when I was in Virgina and I have seen him evolve into as close to a full blown libertarian objectivist as exists in dominant radio medium.

Moreover, he knows how to market himself and he and his co-hort producer Stuart is hilarious. Plus he is more to the Ragnar Daneskold school of objectivism which is closest to my position.

Adam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now