WCU faculty versus Ayn Rand

WCU faculty versus Ayn Rand-attachment0

Some WCU faculty members have shrugged off the power of Ayn Rand on their campus, according to “The Battle for Academic Integrity,” the cover story for this week’s Smoky Mountain News. The piece explores the $1-million donation from BB&T to the university’s College of Business and how faculty action brought about changes in the corporate demands on the money’s use. (See related story from the Dec. 23 Xpress, “Capitalism on Campus.”)

When word of stipulations in a March 2008 agreement between BB&T and WCU trickled out to faculty in April, they began to be questioned, and according to SMN, philosophy professor Darryl Hale became an unofficial spokesperson for faculty members who feared that academic freedom was being compromised as the corporation dictated aspects of curriculum and teaching practice to the school that included studying the writings and tenets of the late, controversial philosopher Ayn Rand, which was to be held “in a positive light.”

“It is clear that [the distinguised professor to be funded] will have little academic freedom to analyze critically Rand,” wrote Hale in an e-mail to the chancellor, provost and deans. His line of thinking was backed up by Leroy Kauffman (former dean of the College of Business), who told SMN, “An outside influence that would require a certain book to be read would probably be detrimental to what we’re about as an educational institution.”

The faculty’s objections, as also noted in the Xpress article on this matter, led Chancellor John Bardo to appoint a faculty task force and resulted in modifications to the agreement, eliminating the requirement of using Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged and other stipulations that seemed to compromise faculty control of curriculum. “I think the way they worked it protects the interest of the donor and the integrity of the academic institution,” Kauffman was quoted as saying. According to SMN, there had never been such a faculty debate at WCU over private donations and curriculum, and a policy was developed to provide for faculty peer review in the future.

Nelda Holder, associate editor

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120 thoughts on “WCU faculty versus Ayn Rand

  1. It appears that the final terms of the agreement worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.

    “BB&T;CEO Allison signed the modified document on Aug. 13, and in an accompanying letter wrote, ‘we understand that these amendments do not change the fundamental purpose and intent of our contribution commitment.’ ”

    Thanks, Nelda, for your reporting.

  2. shadmarsh

    I’m pretty sure that under the Geneva Conventions reading Ayn Rand constitutes torture.

  3. Does Allison think that the rape scene in “Atlas Shrugged” is cool? I mean, didn’t Rand think that ultimately it was the duty of any self aware woman to give herself to the self aware man?

    One more example of why Rand was a bad writer and an even worse human being.

  4. Rob Close

    From “Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand” (pg37-38): “Without exception, in every sex scene Ayn Rand wrote, the woman resists, and the man physically forces her submission. But in each case, the woman has, through words or actions or manner, issued her ‘engraved invitation’. Thus, in psychological fact, there are no ‘rape scenes’ in Ayn’s work. No feminist loathed rape more than she.”

    Wow. If a man wrote all that, real feminists would be up in arms about how men don’t understand what rape is. But since a woman wrote it, it’s not rape, it’s…something else. So, according to her & feminists, anytime you see a good sign that she wants it – just ignore any resistance, because c’mon, she does, and you’re self-aware enough to know, drunk guy.

    Seriously, what a bunch of idiots. And she wants WCU to teach this trash?

  5. Steven Henderson

    “Does Allison think that the rape scene in “Atlas Shrugged” is cool? I mean, didn’t Rand think that ultimately it was the duty of any self aware woman to give herself to the self aware man?

    One more example of why Rand was a bad writer and an even worse human being. ”

    Jason, actually the so-called rape scene was in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and if you actually read what Rand wrote about this scene you would understand that it wasn’t a rape. Actually if you are aware of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism you would realize that your statements above or not only way off but really presenting a straw man. To claim that Rand thinks the anyone has un-chosen obligations or duties to others is to really mis-represent Ayn Rand’s ethical views. One could say that your statement above is one more example of why Jason Bugg is not only a bad reader but also subject to logical fallacies.

  6. Rob- exactly. Thanks for backing up my arguement.

    Steven- I’m sorry that I referenced the wrong book. Bad books tend to be shunned away in the back of my brain and the details quickly forgotten. My bad.

  7. Monica

    “Jason, actually the so-called rape scene was in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead …” is actually a rape scene by any objective yardstick, and Rand had a rape fetish because she was demonstrably sexually repressed. Steven Henderson’s approval of — and perhaps shared interest in — this same rape fetish in a scholastic context is abhorrent.

  8. shadmarsh

    Uh oh, here come the Randies. Second only to the Scientologists in their self-satisfied wackiness.

  9. Reality Check

    The students have a choice of classes to take. This isn’t High School or lower where students have their curriculum dictated to them and they are forced to attend. They can take this class just like they could take one on any other topic which would be interpreted in a any number of ways by the teaching professor. What is so wrong with that? All who attend college subject themselves to a variety of teaching philosophies in almost every subject. As long as the school is up front with the class content, let the students decide.

    I’m no fan of Ayn Rand, but it seems that there are those that want to censor her from students who could choose to take or not take that class. The left has turned to censorship and attacks as their favorite weapons. Quite a change of position from a couple of decades ago when they were all about ‘freedom’.

  10. shadmarsh

    Censorship is one thing, but having a corporation dictate how a class is taught, and mandating that a certain “philosophy” must not be examined from all points of view is not in keeping with established academic ethos.

    What would be the point of taking a class wherein you knew ahead of time you were only going to get one point of view?

  11. Reality Check

    Shadmarsh, Your assumption that all classes are taught from ‘all points of view’ is laughable. Many classes are designed to teach one side of an issue. Even more relevant is that many professors let their own personal beliefs affect the ‘point of view’ for that class. College is about choices. As long as the student knows the class content in adance, let them choose. Who are you to choose for them?

  12. Reality Check writes: “The left has turned to censorship and attacks as their favorite weapons.”

    Thank you. You make a very good point and I think you are correct. Intolerance is the theme of today’s progressives.

    I liken all of this reflexively irrational hubub over introducing intellectual diversity into academia to the general reaction to the Copernican Revolution; where Copernicus overturned the Ptolemaic view of the universe with his scientifically-based heliocentric cosmology and was met with persecution from the faith-based regime of his times. Some, like Bruno, were even burned to death for merely presenting ideas that contradicted the prevailing geocentric dogma of that primitive era.

    This is where we are now in an academic environment, whose entire socio-political worldview labors under the burden of a single doctrine, Marxism, and allows for no dissent.

    As the Smoky Mountain article states, “Prior to BB&T;’s donation, there had never been a widespread debate at WCU over the influence of private donations on curriculum.”

  13. I’m not arguing censorship at all. I just find it unethical that people are going to be told one opinion of a book that champions a point of view of complete and utter selfishness that was written by a self loathing hack of a woman.

    Now, Tim may think that this is the penultimate moment in history because it attacks his rather selfish world view, but it isn’t. It’s college professors standing up for their ability to promote free thought in their classrooms.

  14. shadmarsh

    This is where we are now in an academic environment, whose entire socio-political worldview labors under the burden of a single doctrine, Marxism, and allows for no dissent.

    Wow…talk about your sweeping statements. I’m sure you have myriad of examples of this?

    The suggestion that “Academia” functions as one massive monolith where socio-political precepts are handed down from some unseen, secret location, for the masses of professors to follow blindly, is absurd; and betrays a general lack of understanding of how universities function and how people approach knowledge. Besides being generally insulting to people who devote their lives to education and free inquiry.

    And for the record, WCU rejected this because of censorship, not for censorship.

    I spent 7+ plus years in college in 3 different institutions (insert your own joke here) and never once did I come across a professor who demanded, or even promoted Marxism…or any -ism for that matter (except maybe capitalism).

  15. Dionysis

    “This is where we are now in an academic environment, whose entire socio-political worldview labors under the burden of a single doctrine, Marxism, and allows for no dissent.”

    Utter nonsense, as is ‘objectivism’. Hoo boy.

    As for squelching opposing voices, how does this strike you?:

    “Several major blogs were in jeopardy after a Tuesday hack of their software provider had its owner ready to throw in the towel.

    According to SoapBlox owner Paul Preston, the attack on its servers–which prompted SoapBlox’s Internet service provider to shut it down–was connected to a shadowy group called Astalavista, which claimed credit for the attack in the site’s altered source code.

    “Consider this the ‘We’re Out of Business’ post,” Preston wrote on Wednesday morning. “Most of the servers have been taken off line because they were being used to hack and exploit other websites. The hackers install this crap on servers after they get in. SoapBlox’s ISP then takes the servers off line… It was a good ride, but it’s over.”

    “I don’t know if anyone has yet had time to call the FBI. If not, it needs to happen soon,” commented Sam Smith of the progressive group blog Scholars and Rogues. “Never mind the nature of the views being expressed on these sites – this attack was a naked broadside aimed at the very infrastructure of public speech and discourse in America, just as surely as if vandals had destroyed the presses used by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine back in the 1700s.”

    http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Hackers_take_down_progressive_blogs_0107.html

  16. Jeff Neff

    There should be some interesting responses in Western’s Business College classrooms when students who are sincere and devout believers in their religious faith find themselves forced – yes, forced – to read and absorb the philosophies of Ms. Rand who was an unabashed atheist, thought faith-based religions to be shams, extolled the “virtue” of selfishness, and demeaned the notions of altruism and self-sacrifice for others. The parents of these students might not be too happy about it, either.

  17. shadmarsh writes: “never once did I come across a professor who demanded, or even promoted Marxism…or any -ism for that matter (except maybe capitalism).”

    Now that the doctrines of Marx have become fully absorbed into the views maintained in academia, and the culture generally, there is no need to speak his name.

    For a good explanation of this phenomenon, I recommend the excellent essay by George Reisman entitled The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Financial Crisis under the section head “The Laissez-Faire Myth and the Marxism of the Media”:

    http://georgereisman.com/blog/2008/10/myth-that-laissez-faire-is-responsible.html

  18. shadmarsh

    Now that the doctrines of Marx have become fully absorbed into the views maintained in academia, and the culture generally, there is no need to speak his name.

    Nice job at dodging the question there Tim…again how about one example of this? I mean an actual example, not some “Objectivist” rant on some dudes blog.

    Again, how can you honestly suggest that “Academia” is monolithic in its thinking?

  19. “when students who are sincere and devout believers in their religious faith find themselves forced – yes, forced – to read and absorb the philosophies of Ms. Rand”

    The only entity that could introduce force into the equation is the government. For example, you are forced to participate in the Social Security Ponzi scheme and the involuntary servitude of the federal income tax. You can tell it is force by trying to opt out.

    The BB&T;donation and the course offering are not examples of force but rather peaceable, mutually-agreeable voluntary exchanges between BB&T;and the college and between the college and its business course applicants.

  20. ncain

    If they were really serious about teaching college kids libertarian ideas they’d endow a chair named after John Stuart Mill and have students read “On Liberty.” Ayn Rand’s a shit novelist and cartoon philospoher who turns people off with her ham handedness.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill

  21. Englewood Jack

    The corporate demands attached to that donation shouldn’t be a surprise, as the CEO of BB&T;, John Allison IV, has a furious hard-on for Rand’s philosophy. It’s an integral part of BB&T;’s corporate culture – possibly required reading.

    Kudos to the WCU faculty for defending their integrity.

    But we should also tip our hats to BB&T;, which chose not to engage in the kind of inane transactions that led to the current financial mess.

  22. Piffy!

    “Now that the doctrines of Marx have become fully absorbed into the views maintained in academia, and the culture generally, there is no need to speak his name. ”

    that’s freaking hilarious.

    What college did you go to Tim? What do you base this ridiculously broad generalization on?

    Do you have a bar graph to show levels of Marxist inundation over the years?

  23. reason

    Marx said “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    If you think conceptually, this idea is all around us. It means that individuals are morally obligated to use their ability to fill the needs of others. It means that man has a duty to serve his neighbor, the elderly, the poor, the environment, God, etc., before he can pursue his own interests. This is the idea behind the progressive income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, etc. Where does it end? When Man is owned by the state.

    In contrast, Rand says that man has the right to pursue his own values, that he is not a sacrificial animal to be used by and for others.

    All BB&T;wants is an open debate: Does an individual have a right to pursue his own happiness, or is his first duty to serve others? There is no middle ground.

  24. reason

    Marx said “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    If you think conceptually, this idea is all around us. It means that individuals are morally obligated to use their ability to fill the needs of others. It means that man has a duty to serve his neighbor, the elderly, the poor, the environment, God, etc., before he can pursue his own interests. This is the idea behind the progressive income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, etc. Where does it end? When Man is owned by the state.

    In contrast, Rand says that man has the right to pursue his own values, that he is not a sacrificial animal to be used by and for others.

    All BB&T;wants is an open debate: Does an individual have a right to pursue his own happiness, or is his first duty to serve others? There is no middle ground.

  25. Ken Hanke

    Look on the bright side — at least Atlas Shrugged isn’t being taught as literature.

  26. Piffy!

    “Look on the bright side—at least Atlas Shrugged isn’t being taught as literature. ”

    Judging by the conversation, I think most folks involved havent actually *read* “Atlas Shrugged, per se, but are merely groupies for the pseudo-philosophy it supposedly professes. At least those on the “pro” side of the argument. It does appear that most who argue against it *have* actually read it, and know it sucks.

    Its a terribly written, long-winded, pompous “work” that would have no place in the cannon without a bank’s corporate sponsorhsip.

  27. Barry Summers

    Tim wrote: “The only entity that could introduce force into the equation is the government.”

    Is this the same government that is now subsidizing BB&Ts;increased dividends, acquisitions, and their push to influence struggling schools?

  28. Ken Hanke

    Its a terribly written, long-winded, pompous “work”

    Being one who actually has read the book, I’m not about to give you an argument. (Indeed, I guess I support your feelings that those against it have read it, since I’m hardly pro-Atlas Shrugged.) I really believe that long-winded aspect of it was a deliberate attempt to make it appear a truly daunting work that should not be undertaken lightly — and yet it’s not at all daunting, just overly long. It’s actually an “easy” read — just not a very good one.

  29. As an interesting sidebar, the most popular Op-Ed on WSJ for the last couple days is “Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years” by Stephen Moore.

    ###

    Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
    By Stephen Moore | WSJ | Jan 9, 2009
    http://snipr.com/9sxd3

    “Many of us who know Rand’s work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that “Atlas Shrugged” parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit. Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity. The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated “Atlas” as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible…”

  30. travelah

    [i]I spent 7+ plus years in college in 3 different institutions (insert your own joke here) and never once did I come across a professor who demanded, or even promoted Marxism…or any -ism for that matter (except maybe capitalism).[/i]

    That lack of valid observation may be the reason why you spent seven plus years in three different institutions.

  31. Barry Summers

    How do you get yourself appointed the official arbiter of what is a “valid” observation?

  32. shadmarsh

    travelah,

    I was an A student, I just liked to travel and changed my major a few times. thanks for trying tho. Maybe one of these days you’ll say something that is actually funny.

  33. Piffy!

    *”Maybe one of these days you’ll say something that is actually funny. “*

    Or true.

    Nah. Unlikely.

  34. Dionysis

    As one who spent 6 and a half years in college myself, I never had a ‘Marxist’ professor either (but I did have a couple of ‘conservative’ professors).

    Oh, and at the end of that time, I ended up with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

  35. Dionysis

    “as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated “Atlas” as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible…”

    Ayn Rand wrote that faith was “antithetical to reason” and ‘Objectivism’ dismissed religion (and all types of mysticism). The fact that the Bible, then, was found to be ‘most influential’ would be rejected as bestowing any legitimacy on it. That ‘Atlas Shrugged’ was second doesn’t mean it’s philosophy gains legitimacy either.

  36. rationalinfidel

    Jason Bugg, you state that Ayn Rand was “a self loathing hack of a woman.”

    When I read her work, I am inspired by her benevolent view of mankind. Here is an example:

    “Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power, not the joy of faking reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard, but of a producer.”

    “Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.”

    Jason Bugg, please help me understand the “self loathing” part.

  37. travelah

    You changed your major a few times through three schools. That is not a good indicator of your “objective evaluation” of the political-social inclinations of today’s tenured faculty in a great many institutions. Instead it indicates a considerable degree of instability and indecisiveness.

  38. shadmarsh

    Or maybe it indicates a wide variety of interests…many people change their major, and a lot people have careers that have nothing to do with their degree. The idea that I am somehow unstable because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was 17, and that I had to take time off from university to work, or go part time, because of lack of funds is, laughable.
    And how, exactly, is this “not a good indicator of my objective evalutation…”? What, exactly, is your qualification for making such a claim? How much time have you spent in a university setting?

    Just admit it, you were going to disagree with whatever I wrote cuz I’m a crazy librul who’s been brain-washed by the lefty-academic-media-elite cadre, and that everything I say is tainted by the stench of secular-humanism.

  39. Piffy!

    **”Just admit it, you were going to disagree with whatever I wrote cuz I’m a crazy librul who’s been brain-washed by the lefty-academic-media-elite cadre, and that everything I say is tainted by the stench of secular-humanism. “**

    Pretty much.

  40. Nick S

    As an interesting sidebar, the most popular Op-Ed on WSJ for the last couple days is “Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years” by Stephen Moore.

    What’s really interesting is that one of the more influential think-tankers on the right (i.e. a charity case) outed himself as having been stuck in that teenage Randroid phase for the past three decades.

    Getting back on topic: if BB&T;wants to influence what gets taught to students, it should set up its own college. I’m prepared to look more kindly on them, since they may well be better acquainted with institutions such as Cato, the AEI or the Club For Growth, where you’re buying the public opinions of the people you endow.

  41. Ken Hanke

    What I’m trying to work out is how Atlas Shrugged is the second most influential book of all time, yet the Libertarian Party, which seems the most taken with it, is relatively so small.

  42. Reality Check

    Easy Ken, our political system, as do most where a legislature votes, favor a 2 party system. Tell me when the last time there were 3 major parties?

    You guys have gotten totally off the point and have reduced your arguments to insults. You should all be proud.

    I say that BBT/WCU should be able to offer that class as long as the students know in advance what the topic is. Why would you want to censor a topic? There are lots of ‘off the wall’ classes in college. Let the students decide. Or do you know better for them?

  43. Ken Hanke

    Easy Ken, our political system, as do most where a legislature votes, favor a 2 party system.

    That strikes me as a cop-out or at least catch-all answer — at least if the book is really that profoundly influential.

  44. Reality Check

    Ken, I never said the book was that influential did I? How can I ‘cop out’ on something I didn’t say?

    Moving on from your baseless retort, I can’t imagine one book, or movie, being able to displace either the Rep or the Dem party. Our two party system is here to stay.

    You asked a question and I gave you the simple answer that you would have learned in Poli Sci 101.

  45. Ken Hanke

    I never said the book was that influential did I? How can I ‘cop out’ on something I didn’t say?

    No, you never said that, but the claim was made and the answer you gave to my question about that claim — that it’s second only to the Bible in influence — still strikes me as simplistic. This presumes that the book is indeed as infuential as is stated.

  46. Reality Check

    I bet that the difference between #1 and #2 on that list is a chasm even Evil Knievel wouldn’t have even tried. Also, having been a statistician in my past, I would be surprises if that pole was even remotely valid. How do you define ‘influential’ and how were the respondents identified? What was #3, #4? Voluntary poles are notoriously biased (statistical term, not political) and unreliable.

    Ken, I guess you and I agree that extrapolating any conclusions from that pole/survey is fun to talk about, but that’s about it.

  47. Ken Hanke

    Ken, I guess you and I agree that extrapolating any conclusions from that pole/survey is fun to talk about, but that’s about it.

    I think so. I know I think the poll or survey or whatever it was doesn’t actually prove anything.

  48. Reality Check

    PFK – There are two issues here.

    One is the private sector partnering with Universities. This is nothing new. Endowments are a private sector/university partnership and they very commonly have stipulations on how the money is spent. What’s the difference between a person or a corp donating the money with strings attached? Both can very easily represent the same/similar interests.

    The other is the merits of her book and if it should even be taught as a class. This issue seems to be getting the most ink here and is actually the most disturbing. Remember, college students pay for their classes and choose their own curriculums.

    If it were up to you, would you allow that class to be offered by the school and taken by those who want to take it?

  49. Barry Summers

    “If it were up to you, would you allow that class to be offered by the school and taken by those who want to take it?”

    Again, we’re not talking about one class! We’re talking about an entire program of study, a full-time professor hired (to the exclusion of those who don’t share the donors ideology), and as in other schools, a series of guest lecturers, dedicated portions of the school library, copies of the book handed out to all students, etc. Calling this a debate about censoring “this one class about this one book” is not being honest. This is about a corporation attempting a massive, coordinated shift of the business curriculum across many state and private schools, at a time when schools are struggling.

    Personally, I would prefer the feds put that $3.1 Billion directly to state schools, and not into the pockets of BB&T;shareholders.

  50. entopticon

    Talk about a slippery slope… What’s next? Raytheon sponsoring an ethics course mandating Anne Coulter’s wacko right-wing extremist tirades?

    I’m amazed that there are actually people here trying to rationalize corporations dictating the content of academic courses as if that’s OK. It is hard to imagine any situation where that would be tolerable, let alone having them dictate reading Ayn Rand, whose ludicrous ideas are rarely taken even remotely seriously in legitimate academia.

  51. entopticon

    Shad Marsh, I think it actually shows character to have taken your time exploring your academic interests, and it is remarkably offensive for someone to judge you for it. It certainly wasn’t hurting anybody and if you want to explore every last field in academia that’s your prerogative. You could do that for your whole life and it would still just be just fine because it’s your business.

    What’s truly amazing is how often it is the people who push the bible the hardest, even Christian apologists, who completely ignore the book’s message about not judging others lest they be judged themselves. Apparently they skip that part of the book in bible college. Somehow they conveniently manage to block out the fact that they worship a guy who skipped around different careers and then dropped out to hang out with his friends talking philosophy all day while living off of the kindness of others.

  52. entopticon writes: “What’s next? Raytheon sponsoring an ethics course mandating Anne Coulter’s wacko right-wing extremist tirades?”

    1. And what would be the (rational) objection to this offer? Raytheon could just as well require with their donation that Mein Kampf be taught and it would be WCU’s voluntary option to accept the donation with those condition or reject the donation.

    2. No corporation is dictating anything. The donation and its acceptance are peaceable, voluntary transactions.

    3. Ayn Rand’s ideas are taken seriously; and should be. In fact, the fiction of the novel is being played out in fact today.

  53. Barry Summers

    Mein Kampf WAS taken seriously, & look where it took the German people.

  54. entopticon

    Tim asked: “1. And what would be the (rational) objection to this offer? Raytheon could just as well require with their donation that Mein Kampf be taught and it would be WCU’s voluntary option to accept the donation with those condition or reject the donation.”

    You seem to have misunderstood my surprise. I wouldn’t be surprised for Raytheon to make such an offer, after all they make things that kill people for a living, it would just be astonishingly unethical for WCU to seriously consider it.

    “2. No corporation is dictating anything. The donation and its acceptance are peaceable, voluntary transactions.”

    By that specious rationale, it wouldn’t be offensive for someone to ask an elderly woman in the check out line at the supermarket if she is a hooker, because if she accepted the offer it would be a voluntary transaction. The truth is, sometimes it is offensive just to ask.

    3. Actually, it is pretty safe to say that in the academic world, vastly more people than not think Ayn Rand’s quasi-philosophy of egotism is a joke. Even if I was a fan of her work I would admit that, because it is the truth. As the objectivists like to say, it is plainly true whether you believe it or not.

    I’m clearly not going to change your mind about this. I’m sure you have your reasons for why you support a philosophy that is so extremely morally repugnant to most people. Since you honestly touted the virtues of a group whose motto is “exploit the Earth or die,” our world views are probably far too disparate to come to any sort of agreement.

    In the end, that seems to be the biggest flaw of all in Rand’s quasi-philosophical justification for self-interest based extreme laissez faire economics; because as long as there are people like me out there, it could never work.

  55. Reality Check

    I’m not a real fan of Ayn Rand. The tone of these posts, however, is indicating that it is her content that is disagreeable. I’m sensing the ‘censorship’ police at work here. If she had a less free market philosophy, maybe many of the dissenters here would not disagree with this whole situation. Imagine, a business school teaching free market principles. Astounding!

  56. rationalinfidel

    “In the end, that seems to be the biggest flaw of all in Rand’s quasi-philosophical justification for self-interest based extreme laissez faire economics; …”

    Your thinking, and as a consequence, your writing is messy and convoluted.

    Rand’s concepts of morality (“self interest”) are not based on her political concepts (“laissez faire economics” or simply capitalism). It is the reverse.

    And why do you use the term “egotism” when Rand’s is a philosophy of egoism. Is it a purposeful distortion or is it based on ignorance?

    “… because as long as there are people like me out there, it could never work.”

    This is simply goofy. Either her philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics) comports with reality or it doesn’t. This has nothing to do whatsoever with “people like you” and your feeble thoughts as to whether it would “work” or not.

  57. entopticon

    irrationalinfidel said: “Your thinking, and as a consequence, your writing is messy and convoluted.”

    My thinking is messy? You are pushing one of the most ridiculously weak, quasi-intellectual crackpot theories in the history of the US, and you are ragging on my thinking? That’s truly rich.

    irrationalinfidelsaid: “Rand’s concepts of morality (“self interest”) are not based on her political concepts (“laissez faire economics” or simply capitalism). It is the reverse.”

    I disagree. If you look at her life, it strongly suggests my assertion, but I could be wrong. Since it is not possible to divine the subjective motivations of a person, let alone a dead one, it is not possible to irrefutably prove one way or another, despite your specious inference to the contrary.

    irrationalinfidel asked: “And why do you use the term “egotism” when Rand’s is a philosophy of egoism. Is it a purposeful distortion or is it based on ignorance?”

    I think egoism is egotism, whether you like it or not. Lump it.

    irrationalinfidel said: “This is simply goofy. Either her philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics) comports with reality or it doesn’t. This has nothing to do whatsoever with “people like you” and your feeble thoughts as to whether it would “work” or not.”

    That sort of inept logic may fly at your Ayn Rand worshipping study group, but it is just not going to cut it here. For one thing, Rand posited no metaphysics, and if you actually understood her lame philosophy of objectivism you would have known that.

    For another, your argument doesn’t even hold up to the slightest scrutiny. It has everything to do with people like me who find her theories to be not only completely asinine, but morally repugnant as well. It is an obvious truism that as long as most people feel the way I do, her crackpot theories will never instituted.

    I understand that with cults of personality such as Ayn Rand’s there is no reasoning, so I don’t expect to change your mind. She very much brings to mind another crackpot second-rate author who drew in many people despite the fact that his ideas completely lacked intellectual credibility… Elron Hubbard. But hey, if it floats your boat to buy into the specious rhetoric of a group that literally pushes the slogan, “exploit the Earth or die,” knock yourself out.

  58. shadmarsh

    If you want to see the wonders of laissez faire economics in action, read Dickens….and he’s an infinitely superior novelist to Rand, so you won’t have to fight the urge to stab yourself in the eyes whilst reading.

  59. Reality Check

    Every species on the plant “exploits its environment or it dies.” If they overpopulate, they will eat every single thing and fight to the death over the last morsel. Sound familiar? Why are humans so different than every other species on the planet?

  60. shadmarsh

    Why are humans so different than every other species on the planet?

    We have the capacity to understand our impact on the environment, and to change our behaviors.

  61. Reality Check

    “We have the capacity to understand our impact on the environment, and to change our behaviors.”

    Other species have an ability to do this too, but the overriding drive to succeed as individuals and as a species causes ‘primal’ behavior. It would be great if humans had crossed that line into ‘enlightenment’, but history and current events show otherwise. We do just what the rest of nature does … we fight for our place on the planet and survival. A discussion of ‘Bioethics’ quickly takes you to the understanding that we are just another species on the planet … but with an overinflated ego. I’m curious, when do you think we crossed that line?

    One explanation for our ‘benevolent’ status would be if your religion teaches that humans have a ‘divine’ cause/purpose. Otherwise, separating humans and the rest of the life on our planet becomes a discussion of arbitrary and very limited talking points.

  62. shadmarsh

    Other species have an ability to do this too
    What other species have the ability to look at the totality of their behaviors and decide that they need to change them in order to survive…This requires self-aware, rational beings who have developed sophisticated language skills, other than maybe dolphins, I am unaware of any other animal having done this.
    We have the ability to choose…

    I’m curious, when do you think we crossed that line?

    I dunno…when we clubbed the last Neanderthal to death?

    One explanation for our ‘benevolent’ status would be if your religion teaches that humans have a ‘divine’ cause/purpose.
    religion teaches a lot of things…I don’t consider our status as ‘benevolent’, we have just evolved differently than other animals. We are different…not better or worse, just different. Our difference has given us certain advantages (and disadvantages). Whether or not we use those differences to commit a sort-of mass suicide is beyond my abilities to divine, so your guess is as good as mine…my point is we do have a choice.

  63. Reality Check

    That all sounds great in theory, Shadmarsh, but observation shows that our status as ‘self aware’ and ‘rational’ beings hasn’t done much but accelerate human’s place as the top predator.

    We still fight, war, overeat, over-populate and all the other things other species do. Our intellect allows us to do all those things better. All species have some compassion too. But not so much as to jeopardize overall survival. You have to look at how humans behave as a group. We don’t play any nicer or meaner than the rest of the life on the planet would if they had the chance.

    Most all other species can recognize problems with their environment and adapt. Too little food or too much competition, they move on. Too little to eat after they look around some, they try something else. The way is blocked, they try another route. If the leader is too rough, not rough enough or incompetent, they oust em. If members of their group misbehave, they are disciplined. Many species too are self aware. I can go on and on.

    Separating human and animal behavior is arguing shades of gray. We all have choices.

  64. shadmarsh

    I agree. My only point was that we have the capacity to change. Whether we use it or not –collectively or individually– is a whole ‘nother monkey.

  65. Reality Check

    I too hope that we can uncover that capacity. Only time will tell.

  66. rationalinfidel

    On another related forum, I considered the quality of entopticon’s arguments, which I now post here.

    Rather than walk through the errors he has committed in responding to me earlier on this thread, I encourage others to examine his writing critically.

    Folks, like entopticon, who are willing to make arbitrary claims will never run out of things to say.

    ————

    Up-thread, entopticon, I offered you this suggestion: “entopticon, you should teach a course on logical fallacies and your posts would make great homework exercises.”

    It’s a bit ironic that you respond to my suggestion with another stream of logical fallacies. It seems that this is the only approach you know. In any case, thank you for not forcing me to go back to your prior illogical posts to cite evidence for my position. I’ll just work with this one for now. Also, I won’t point out every fallacy you employ, because it can get tedious. I’ll highlight only most obvious ones.

    I encourage other readers to take another (painful) look at your prior posts to observe the pattern and to identify the many and varied logical fallacies that permeate your writing, and likely, your thinking.

    Of my suggestion, you wrote: “That is absolutely hilarious. What a sadly weak claim to make without even the slightest attempt at substantiation. My logic is just fine.”

    This is called the “bare assertion fallacy.” Merely claiming that your logic is fine does not make it so, particularly when there is now so much evidence to the contrary.

    Then you wrote: “You couldn’t show that it wasn’t so you substituted that lame crack instead.”

    Nice job, entopticon. Here you’ve combined a couple of fallacies. The first is called argumentum ex silentio. That’s when you make the error of supposing that someone’s silence is necessarily proof of ignorance. The second is an error known as the false alternative (or false dichotomy).

    Just because I didn’t identify each of your logical fallacies does not mean that I can’t or that your writing doesn’t contain them. It could have been, for example, that I didn’t have time or that I was being kind or that I knew the other readers could look back and see for themselves.

    Then you wrote: “You are the one pushing Ayn Rand’s quasi-intellectual nonsense here, which like it or not is widely considered to be a complete joke in the academic world, so you probably shouldn’t be throwing any stones.”

    You are really gaining momentum now. Here your errors include an appeal to authority, ad hominem (attacking the personal instead of the argument), argumentum ad populum (an appeal to belief or numbers) and argument from intimidation. I’m not sure, but there may be more.

    In my original post, I also posed a question: “But let me ask you this: Do believe you have a right to your own life?”

    To which you replied: “Speaking of absolutely ludicrous logical fallacies… Your inference that if I don’t believe in the quasi-intellectual radically extreme laissez faire economics philosophy of a screenwriter turned cult leader who clearly knew very little about either economics or philosophy, that must mean that that I don’t feel I have a right to my own life, is one of the most irrational, and frankly ridiculous logical fallacies that I have ever seen here.”

    Here, entopticon, you have presented us with a target rich environment. Allow me to just leave it to the reader to identify the straw man argument, the false alternative, the argument from intimidation and the argument by repetition.

    (Players will receive five points for each additional fallacy identified. Move on to the next level if you can find where entopticon has actually answered my question.)

    By now, you should be playing, too, entopticon. After all, you have the most to gain from the exercise.

    What is clear to me is that your writing doesn’t reveal any intellectual discipline at all. You make many claims. You attack character. And you repeat it a lot. Though it may sound good to you when you are singing in the shower, the problem here is that others can hear you. We can read your words. We can observe how you malign and distort. And we can count the logical fallacies, or at least begin to.

    Now you have derived some sort of pleasure in calling me “irrationalinfidel,” but you cannot make your case. The same is true regarding your “arguments” against Ayn Rand, objectivism, individualism and capitalism.

    I return to my question, which I can’t make you answer, but I will ask again: Do believe you have a right to your own life?

  67. rationalinfidel

    I stated: “Rand’s concepts of morality (“self interest”) are not based on her political concepts (“laissez faire economics” or simply capitalism). It is the reverse.”

    Then entopticon replied: “I disagree. If you look at her life, it strongly suggests my assertion, but I could be wrong. Since it is not possible to divine the subjective motivations of a person, let alone a dead one, it is not possible to irrefutably prove one way or another, despite your specious inference to the contrary.”

    This is wrong on so many levels. I’ll just mention a couple. First, we don’t need to “look at her life.” Her “life” has nothing to do with the topic at hand, which is her philosophy. This is another of those logical fallacies that now seem to come out of your pores.

    Second, we can read what she wrote and listen to recordings of what she said and determine whether her politics (capitalism) was derived from her ethical/moral principles or vice versa.

    Read her words, entopticon. Don’t just make it up as you go.

  68. entopticon

    since irrationalinfidel chose to repost his hilariously inept attack on me on this thread, it only seems right that I repost my response here as well:

    irrational infidel, apparently no one ever told you that when you have dug yourself into a hole, it is time to stop digging. Your arguments are certainly good for a laugh, but that’s about it.

    It truly is hysterical how after all of that blather, you still weren’t able to substantiate even one logical fallacy. All that rambling on and you weren’t even able to substantiate one single claim. The hypocritical double standard that you apply is absolutely hilarious. You arwe guilty of every single thing you accused me of, and if you can’t see that, your logic is even weaker than I thought. Frankly, that is a promethean feat in itself.

    As opposed to you, I substantiated my argument with air-tight reasoning. You did in fact imply that if I don’t buy into the quasi-academic cult of ridiculousness behind Ayn Rand’s asinine rhetoric, I must not believe I have a right to my own life. Of course I believe I have a right to my own life, and I still think Ayn Rand’s pathetic blather is useless as ever.

    You said: “What is clear to me is that your writing doesn’t reveal any intellectual discipline at all.”

    Look in the mirror, pal. Ayn Rand worshipping and intellectual discipline are two of the most disparate things imaginable.

    You said “Merely claiming that your logic is fine does not make it so, particularly when there is now so much evidence to the contrary.”

    You really are hilarious. You have done absolutely nothing to show anywhere where my logic didn’t hold up. Instead you just tried to hide behind a smokescreen of dime store quasi-academic blather about logical fallacies. My logic managed to get me through graduate school at an ivy league university and earned me quite of bit of respect in the academic world over the years, to the point where I have both published in and refereed articles for academic journals. Real academic journals, not silly tripe like the Objectivist Standard. I don’t say this to brag; just to point out that I do have evidence that my intellectual rigor is not so weak as you make it out to be.

    How about you, champ? Of course, I assume that like most Ayn Rand advocates you are probably not such a big fan of formal education since it is an incontrovertible fact that the vast majority of legitimate academics think her ideas were so entirely ridiculous that they don’t even merit serious discourse. I happen to agree with them.

  69. entopticon

    irrational infidel, are you really so far gone that you are that completely oblivious to the fact that one’s life experience can in fact inform their philosophies? Among other things, Rand was quite bitter about her family’s drugstore being seized by the communists, and it is certainly reasonable to assert that that may have fueled her radically extreme capitalist views.

    You really shouldn’t accuse ME of just making things up when I already irrefutably proved that you in fact made up a claim about Rand positing a metaphysics when in fact she went to great lengths to argue just the opposite.

    It really is hysterically funny how you keep saying that my arguments are fallacious, but you have still not been able to back up one single claim of yours. For example, you said:

    “Second, we can read what she wrote and listen to recordings of what she said and determine whether her politics (capitalism) was derived from her ethical/moral principles or vice versa.”

    Yes, or we can read what she wrote and listen to recordings of what she said and decide that she is a greedy imbecile. You offered absolutely no proof besides the fact that she is able to write and speak. You can’t divine the contents of her head. I think she was motivated by selfish greed, and there is nothing that you can do to divine her intentions, so there is no way to prove me wrong. The fact that you seem to be under the delusion that there is, just shows the remarkably shallow depravity of your logic.

    You can go on with this as long as you like, but since you don’t have reason on your side, you just dig yourself in deeper as you go.

  70. Reality Check

    Ent – You are correct, that her ideas of capitalism and a sort of ‘dog eat dog’ mentality were a result of her personal experience with communism and socialism. Both of which are catastrophic failures in the mid and long haul. Ask any current Russian or Eastern Block Citizen what they think of those two concepts. Then duck because the attack will come fast.

  71. Piffy!

    But RC, what Eastern Europe experienced wasnt “socialism” or “communism” any more than what Americans experience is “Capitalism”. What you are arguing is a tired, cliche of a straw-man.

    And, interestingly, Ayn Rand received a good deal of financial help from her wealthy familial ties in getting a start here in the US, so she didnt really pull herself up by her bootstraps by any measure of the imagination.

    And she was a terrible writer who had an entourage of yes-men to rival Andy Warhol.

  72. Barry Summers

    As I’ve said on other threads, I see Ayn Rand’s theories as “built to abandon”, meaning they don’t survive contact with reality. Witness the folks featured in this article, BB&T;, who have been ardently pushing “Atlas Shrugged” into business schools. They asked for and received $3.1 billion in taxpayer handouts, which they claim they don’t even need. How does that square with Objectivism? Now we hear that their new CEO is joining the Federal Reserve, as a Director. What does this do to their claim that they believe in and support Randian free markets, etc.?

    Everyone is free to contemplate “test tube” philosophies, as I call them, that are simply exercises to hone your beliefs. I appreciate and respect some of the notions postulated by Ayn Rand, but they only function if you’re willing to suspend disbelief about the glaring irrationalities involved. It’s when you take this mental playground and claim that it represents reality, and demand that others accept it as well, then you have a problem.

  73. shadmarsh

    It’s kind of funny how all these free-market capitalists suddenly become socialists when entering the “market place” of ideas.

  74. shadmarsh

    subsidizing Rands “philosophy” because it can’t compete with the other brands…It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s apt.

  75. entopticon

    shadmarsh said: “subsidizing Rands “philosophy” because it can’t compete with the other brands…It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s apt.”

    Yes, apt indeed. And hilariously ironic.

  76. rationalinfidel

    After my less than exhaustive look at the logical fallacies in your writing, entopticon, you write: “It truly is hysterical how after all of that blather, you still weren’t able to substantiate even one logical fallacy.”

    I am happy to leave it to the objective reader to decide whether I have demonstrated the illogic of your comments. Truth is, entopticon, it wasn’t even necessary. I could rightly be criticized by other readers for pointing out the obvious – despite your claims of “air-tight reasoning.”

    Continuing with your deft use of things that don’t matter, you write: “My logic managed to get me through graduate school at an ivy league university and earned me quite of bit of respect in the academic world over the years, to the point where I have both published in and refereed articles for academic journals. Real academic journals, not silly tripe like the Objectivist Standard. I don’t say this to brag; just to point out that I do have evidence that my intellectual rigor is not so weak as you make it out to be.”

    I may be wrong, but I’m just guessing that the faculty and administration of this “ivy league university” are breathing a sigh of relief that you didn’t mention the university by name. Seriously, entopticon, you ought to understand that none of that matters. I will judge you, and others will, too, based upon what you write here. If you think that your words here do not properly reflect your ability to think and write, then get about the business of changing your approach.

    You see, entopticon, your claims don’t gain validity with repetition, invective, or confidence. They will be judged based upon the degree to which they comport with reality.

    Because, in the search for truth, nothing … else … matters.

    Forgive me, but I do need to visit another of your claims. You wrote: “You really shouldn’t accuse ME of just making things up when I already irrefutably proved that you in fact made up a claim about Rand positing a metaphysics when in fact she went to great lengths to argue just the opposite.”

    Well, no again, entopticon. Just because I don’t correct each of your distortions, it is a logical fallacy to conclude that they have been accepted as true. I’m pretty sure we covered that, so you might want to change seats and get a bit closer to the front of the class.

    Here is some of what Rand wrote on the topic in her book Philosophy, Who Needs It:

    “In philosophy, the fundamentals are metaphysics and epistemology. On the basis of a knowable universe and of a rational faculty’s competence to grasp it, you can define man’s proper ethics, politics and esthetics. (And if you make an error, you retain the means and the frame of reference necessary to correct it.) But what will you accomplish if you advocate honesty in ethics, while telling men that there is no such thing as truth, fact or reality? What will you do if you advocate political freedom on the grounds that you feel it is good, and find yourself confronting an ambitious thug who declares that he feels quite differently?”

    So, entopticon, you assert that Rand argued against a metaphysics, but when we read what Rand actually wrote, and published, we find the statement: “In philosophy, the fundamentals are metaphysics and epistemology.”

    Staying on this topic of metaphysics, allow me to include another, rather concise, statement by Rand when she was asked to summarize her philosophy:

    Metaphysics: Objective Reality
    Epistemology: Reason
    Ethics: Self-interest
    Politics: Capitalism

    It would be good for you to re-read those words, and perhaps a book or two of Rand’s, as they also put to rest your false claim that she derived her ethics from her politics, rather than the reverse. The hierarchy of knowledge, and of philosophy, was something Rand considered to be an important part of her epistemology.

    So, exactly what do you mean by “irrefutably” proving something, entopticon? We are beginning to learn that word meanings are very flexible to you. Like when you said, “I think egoism is egotism, whether you like it or not. Lump it.”

    And you claim that “… (I) don’t have reason on (my) side, …” You do have a swagger, entopticon, I’ll give you that.

  77. rationalinfidel

    After some prodding, entopticon, you reply to my question: “Of course I believe I have a right to my own life, and I still think Ayn Rand’s pathetic blather is useless as ever.”

    Thanks for answering, though it is sad that you couldn’t do so without another spoonful of invective. But I know you couldn’t help yourself and we can work with this.

    First, I agree with you. You have a right to your own life. And to the products of your efforts that are required to sustain your life. Free from the coercion of others. I will assume that you would further state that I have a right to my life just as you do. But that is not necessarily the case, so please correct me if I am wrong in this assumption.

    You have stated an ethical position (that third branch of philosophy mentioned earlier). For now, let’s ignore your metaphysical and epistemological beliefs that should precede and support this position.

    Now, please explain why you do not believe that capitalism is the proper political/economic system when it is the only system that is consistent with your ethical position: man’s right to be free.

    (And please try to avoid the typical and usually redundant modifiers such as laissez-faire, free market, unregulated, extreme, uncontrolled, radical, etc., when referring to capitalism. Capitalism is the economic system defined by the freedom to trade without force or fraud and to keep the gains and suffer the losses.)

  78. Reality Check

    PFK – I’ll take our brand of tainted capitalism over their brand of tainted communism/socialism any day.

  79. entopticon

    irrationalinfidel, while I do applaud your attempt to swim at the deep end of the pool, I just don’t have the patience to humor the mumbo-jumbo that you are substituting for reason here. It is almost cute, but frankly, your attempts remind me of the endearing but absurd appeal of a small child trying to wear their parents clothes.

    Here is a telling example: “Now, please explain why you do not believe that capitalism is the proper political/economic system when it is the only system that is consistent with your ethical position: man’s right to be free.”

    I am just not going to try to have a serious conversation with that sort of silly nonsense in the mix. The arguments that you are trying to pass off as robust are actually anything but. The fact that you would ask a question like that, one with your own silly criteria built into the answer, is just too funny. I most certainly do not accept your ludicrous premise.

    And then you turn right around and do it again with your hilarious attempt to determine the answer by dictating its parameters with your absurdly silly criteria. I don’t respect your claim that laissez faire, unregulated capitalism is the only real capitalism. Neither do the vast majority of economists, obviously, since there is not a living economist pushing that sort of nonsense who is taken the remotest bit seriously.

  80. entopticon

    irrationalinfidel said: “I may be wrong, but I’m just guessing that the faculty and administration of this “ivy league university” are breathing a sigh of relief that you didn’t mention the university by name.”

    Actually, I was graduated a year early and won the department award. I noticed that you seemed to skip past answering the question about your own academic credentials, which by all appearances seem to be a few semesters of community college.

    You were certainly right about one thing, Ayn Rand did in fact use the term metaphysics. Unfortunately, in the process you exposed the fact that she clearly didn’t even have a introductory understanding of the subject. No wonder so many serious philosophers were quick to point out that she constantly used the lingo with abandon in an attempt to lend credibility to her silly tripe, but the fact is that it was clearly evident that she didn’t even know the actual meanings of the terms she used. If you are going to try to seriously tell me that metaphysics is compatible with objectivism, you clearly don’t even know what metaphysics is. It is a fact that Locke scholars were particularly horrified that she tried to couch her theories in his philosophies, because as they rightly pointed out, she had clearly never even read Locke.

    You said: “I am happy to leave it to the objective reader to decide whether I have demonstrated the illogic of your comments.”

    As am I. The most hilarious thing of all about the cult of Ayn Rand is that you all are so big on advocating that the strongest ideas should survive when it comes to capitalism, but when it comes to academia, Rand’s ideas have always been considered to not even merit serious discussion because they are so completely ludicrous, and yet you want us all to make a special exception for you.

    I’m not going to go about point by point negating each and every one of Rand’s laughably ridiculous “philosophies,” or Elron Hubbard’s for that matter, because they never merited being taken seriously in the first place. There is not some moral responsibility to constantly reargue every point that some determined cult can’t let go of. As Buckley aptly said, Rand’s ideas didn’t just die, they were born stillborn.

  81. libertarian

    In reference to Reality Check Jan 12, 2009 at 02:32 PM:
    “I bet that the difference between #1 and #2 on that list is a chasm even Evil Knievel wouldn’t have even tried. ”

    Well, I have read both the Bible and Atlas Shrugged and they might actually be my #1 and #2, so that makes me some kind of daredevil?! :D
    Why should that be so surprising to anyone? People that really want to reason things through would be wise to contemplate different viewpoints and try to understand how different conclusions are arrived at. Anyone that doesn’t seek out some combination of the best or most well-known works from different viewpoints is short-changing themselves. A good example might be people that listen almost exclusively to one talk radio station or solely inhabit forums for a given viewpoint. Feel-good, back-slapping “intellectual” camaraderie doesn’t get a person further in their understanding, but entrenches them and reduces the possibility they might find something else of significance.

    Yes, I have also read Rand’s The Fountainhead, We The Living, and Anthem in addition to Atlas Shrugged but would hardly consider myself a Randite. I thought both the Fountainhead and Atlas could have been shorter without compromising the story or meaning. I consider Rand’s personal life largely a failure to see reality and live up to her philosophy. I also read Woody Guthrie’s “autobiographical fiction” Bound For Glory, to name but one work pushing a different viewpoint (it basically blames the depression on capitalism and supports communistic principles).

    The fact remains that the huge gains of the 19th and 20th centuries were largely made possible by the imperfect laissez-faire system that emerged. I don’t think any communistic or heavy-socialistic system can claim that success in any manner approaching legitimacy. There are always a few strange, driven, genius inventor-types out there pushing themselves regardless of their environment, but for every one of them there are many more that will refuse to work to their highest potential if they aren’t fairly compensated for it. No person inherently enjoys sacrificing their efforts for everyone else. If a thief steals your money and gives it to someone else having less than you, they are still a thief. Remember: “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” Albert Camus

  82. shadmarsh

    I think I actually just heard Camus rolling around in his grave.

  83. Reality Check

    Libertarian – I voted for Barr. I’m was an Economics major at UNC back in the 80’s and feel that modern quasi-free markets have yielded the best economies and societies in the world. The current alternatives, ie most of the rest of the world, are a mess and people are moving away from them – physically moving – in droves.

    However, nothing comes close to comparing to the effects the Bible has had on human history. Nothing, not even close. Perhaps to individuals it has, but looking at the world as a whole and over the last 2000 years, the Bible is bigger than the Beatles.

    Semper Fi Brother

  84. Piffy!

    RC said *”PFK – I’ll take our brand of tainted capitalism over their brand of tainted communism/socialism any day. “*

    Well, okay, but that isnt the point you brought up.

    But that’s how you “debate” so i’m not surprised.

  85. Piffy!

    What an intriguing alternate reality the pseudo-cons live in, where facts can be made up out of thin air, and arguments are made by attacking straw men.

  86. Reality Check

    PFK –

    RC said *”PFK – I’ll take our brand of tainted capitalism over their brand of tainted communism/socialism any day. “*

    Well, okay, but that isnt the point you brought up.

    You are correct. My bad.

  87. Piffy!

    *”I’m sensing the ‘censorship’ police at work here. If she had a less free market philosophy, maybe many of the dissenters here would not disagree with this whole situation. Imagine, a business school teaching free market principles. Astounding! “*

    Why, because most educated folks here can recognize that those who support her pseudo-philosophy have no idea how it could ever be applied in the real world? “free-market” principles are great, but you can understand how some of us might be a bit cynical about those principals at a time when the “free-market” advocates are raping public funds to keep themselves afloat, right?

  88. rationalinfidel

    A review of your posts, entopticon, reveals a pattern to what you believe to be a logical argument:

    Ayn Rand is a ___.
    Her philosophy is nothing but ___.
    Anyone who finds merit to anything she said is a ___.
    Take my word for this because I am very smart.
    My proof is that lots of people agree with me.
    Also because I sometimes mention L. Ron Hubbard.

    And you call this “the deep end of the pool.” You apparently believe that your deficit in reasoning must be compensated for in swagger.

    When I point out that your alma mater (an Ivy League school, no less!) has little to do with the logic of your arguments and that your writing here might cause some embarrassment to the school, you reply, “Actually, I was graduated a year early and won the department award.”

    Well that’s good, entopticon. Your parents must be very proud. But you now reveal that you are missing two points, rather than only one. First, that your “credentials” are irrelevant. And second, that the school might be embarrassed about your conduct here, today. Not at some point in the past. (Unless you got that “department award” for your comments on this forum.)

    No, entopticon, I won’t be offering my “credentials.” If it warms you to believe that I could only muster “a few semesters of community college,” feel free. But you shouldn’t pretend that such an assumption bolsters your “argument.”

    Though you call Rand “a greedy imbecile” and label her ideas “completely ludicrous,” “pathetic blather” and “completely asinine,” I am hoping you are willing to back off from the emotional attacks for just a moment and consider the following excerpts.

    You wrote, “It is an obvious truism that as long as most people feel the way I do, (Rand’s) crackpot theories will never instituted [sic].”

    Rand said (almost 45 years ago),
    “Reason is man’s tool of knowledge, the faculty that enables him to perceive the facts of reality. To act rationally means to act in accordance with the facts of reality. Emotions are not tools of cognition. What you feel tells you nothing about the facts; it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts. Emotions are the result of your value judgments; they are caused by your basic premises, which you may hold consciously or subconsciously, which may be right or wrong.”

    Did you catch that, entopticon? “What you feel tells you nothing about the facts; it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts.”

    One might wonder if she knew you personally.

  89. rationalinfidel

    Would it help, entopticon, if I asked the question this way:

    “Why do you believe that capitalism is not consistent with your belief that a man has a right to his own life?”

    You should find that phrasing acceptable.

    Oh, and add the redundant modifiers to capitalism if it helps you, e.g., free-market-capitalism, or really-free-free-market-capitalism, or not-an-ounce-of-socialism-capitalism, or voluntary-trade-capitalism.

  90. rationalinfidel

    The (PFKaP) writes, “‘free-market’ principles are great, but you can understand how some of us might be a bit cynical about those principals at a time when the ‘free-market’ advocates are raping public funds to keep themselves afloat, right?”

    I believe I can understand the sentiment.

    But I need to better understand which free market advocates are included in your question. Yes, I want to know more about Allison’s behavior. It certainly appears troubling to me. But who are the other free market advocates? In my view, there is a dearth of them.

    And though I agree that we are being raped, it is our government that is taking these “funds,” or printing or borrowing them, and then doling them out. And they do it with the blessing, and often support, of the population.

    It is not business who is stealing from you, it is our government.

  91. entopticon

    irrationalinfidel, it’s true, I don’t take Rand’s ideas the remotest bit seriously because I find them to be morally bankrupt and astonishingly naive. Clearly that brings out my acerbic side in the blog medium.

    I think you are the one who missed the point about academia. Rand herself believed in the verity of an idea being its robustness in the market of ideas. That market of ideas is academia. Her ideas are, and always will be consider fringe lunacy in that marketplace because they don’t hold up to scrutiny. By Rand’s own reasoning, her faulty philosophy’s don’t deserve to live because they failed the test of the marketplace of ideas.

    You are right, I do have even less respect for Rand’s loopy screed than I do L. Ron Hubbard’s, so I am jut not going to seriously debate something that I don’t even think warrants merit to be taken seriously in the marketplace of ideas. That may be unfair of me. Sorry.

    You are clearly a very intelligent person, but I think your fundamental premise here is just too far gone for me to engage you like you seem to want to be engaged.

    You are right about one thing… My logic has been flawed. Instead of being silly rolling around in the mud of the blogosphere with you, I should be thanking you. Anything you do to divide the far right wing and keep them from voting Republican is great by me. Heck, I should donate money to the libertarian party.

  92. Piffy!

    “*”But who are the other free market advocates? In my view, there is a dearth of them. *”

    Are you joking? Every Republican in office, including the still-president, claims they are “free=market” advocates, even while some of them hand out billions to private corporations.

    Is your blind spot really that gaping, RI? Do you only critique small pieces of our government, without ever stepping back to notice that both republicans and democrats are all part of the game?

    Or do you just peck at the simple, partisan stuff that allows you to talk about “free market policies” while a “Free-Market” president hands over our money to the banks?

  93. rationalinfidel

    “Do you only critique small pieces of our government, without ever stepping back to notice that both republicans and democrats are all part of the game?”

    What did I ever write to give you that idea? This is an honest question, PFK, so please cite some evidence.

    Being a free-market advocate and claiming to be one are worlds apart. Republicans deserve our contempt in this regard.

    Democrats are beneath contempt.

    Republicans

  94. Piffy!

    You asked what “free-market advocates” I might be thinking of, and I have listed them.

    Unless your beef is with GW Bush as much as it is with Democrats, then you are just spewing partisan nonsense.

    Also, I think you forgot to finish your last sentence.

  95. rationalinfidel

    “You asked what “free-market advocates” I might be thinking of, and I have listed them.”

    Sorry. I didn’t think “every Republican in office” was a serious answer to my question. It is clear that they are not believers in free markets. You, yourself, cited the evidence.

    You cannot bail out corporations and claim you are a free market advocate. At least not with any credibility.

    Have I ever written anything here to the contrary?

    “Also, I think you forgot to finish your last sentence.”

    Yes, my bad. A little editing residue that I overlooked.

    (If these comments were posted just a tad sooner, I could correct my own mistakes. Ten or fifteen hours seems a bit long to me.)

  96. Piffy!

    *(If these comments were posted just a tad sooner, I could correct my own mistakes. Ten or fifteen hours seems a bit long to me.) *

    Well I apologize for not alerting you to your own mistake in a more reasonable time-frame.

  97. rationalinfidel

    Do you ever deal with issues head on, PF, or do you find the edges too comfortable?

    And what part of free in a free market don’t you like?

  98. shadmarsh

    I don’t like the ee part. Vowel clusters should never be trusted.

  99. entopticon

    I have to disagree with you there Shad. It’s definitely the “fr” that bugs the hell out of me. It often seems to end up in suspicious circumstances, like Frogurt, Frodo, and France.

  100. rationalinfidel

    “I don’t like the ee part. Vowel clusters should never be trusted.”

    But it is an f-word. That alone should redeem it.

    Anything else in your bag, Shadmarsh?

  101. rationalinfidel

    I guess it’s more of a fanny pack.

    Care to elaborate?

    Or is this just your vague way of claiming that you have the right to force others to do your bidding?

  102. shadmarsh

    Care to elaborate?

    no.

    Or is this just your vague way of claiming that you have the right to force others to do your bidding?

    It’s all oranges and orangutans.

  103. Piffy!

    “Do you ever deal with issues head on, PF, or do you find the edges too comfortable? ”

    Coming from you, that is both hypocritical and amusing.

    I tend towards a mocking tone when there is no factual meat to any of your so-called assertions, as per usual.

    Believing something real hard doesnt make it right. You have to use actual cross-referenced facts. Try it sometime. you might find others more interested in the debate, and, heck, you might even *learn* something new in the process.

  104. Piffy!

    “And what part of free in a free market don’t you like? ”

    I’m not particularly fond of the not-actually-free aspect of “free-Market”. Isnt that a tenant of conventional wisdom? That “there is no such thing as a free lunch”?

    Show me someone promoting “free trade” and i’ll show you a corporation benefiting from tax loop-holes and exploitation of lower environmental and worker-related standards, while screwing the small-business owners who bring economic opportunities to states and counties.

  105. rationalinfidel

    PFKaP writes: “I tend towards a mocking tone when there is no factual meat to any of your so-called assertions, as per usual.”

    Actually, you go a bit further than that.

    On another thread here, and on a whim, you labeled me a racist.

    We can see that reason is unfamiliar to you, but it need not be your enemy.

    Your soul is on display.

  106. entopticon

    A sneak peak at the special Ayn Randian director’s cut of the Sixth Sense:

    Boy: “I see dead people”

    Ghost dude: “But is that a marketable skill?”

    Boy: “It’s only fair to let the market decide, ghost dude. Capitalism rocks.”

  107. Barry Summers

    “Last Thursday the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights hosted a lecture by BB&T;board chairman John Allison at the National Building Museum in Washington DC… ”

    Yes, yes. And what shocking recommendations came forth from the Oracle?:

    Cut income taxes to the wealthy.
    Cut corporate taxes.
    Privatize Medicare and Social Security.
    Now that BB&T;got their billions, No More Bailouts. Let entire industries fail.
    Eliminate Fannie Mae & end tax breaks for new homeowners.
    Allow emigration of the wealthy and well-educated only.

    I get the idea…

  108. Napolitano on Extortion of BB&T;[video]
    http://snipr.com/f33y1

    “There were very few news reports about the Bush administration forcing some private banks that had no desire for bailout money to take bailout money. These were banks that had no need or desire to take government money, but were given an “incentive” to do so using the threat of multi-year audits by our compassionate federal government. While the government may term this tactic as an “incentive” most proper thinking citizens call it for what it really is, extortion.”

    And here:

    Freedom Watch #8 [video]
    Judge Napolitano with Tom Woods, Ron Paul, John Stossel, Gerald Celente, and Peter Schiff.

    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYcKJMhycy8
    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFn1a1Sbqkw

  109. Barry Summers

    If it’s on FAUX, it must be true.

    Sorry to be snarky, but this does not convince me that BB&T;was ‘forced’ to take federal money from the Bush administration. This shows me that some people were embarrassed by this raid on the treasury, and are now teeing up to accuse Obama of extortion and trying to nationalize the banks. Nice ‘bank’ shot. Take the money, then accuse Obama of socialism because you previously took the money.

  110. Paulson forced 9 bank CEOs to take TARP
    By SARA LEPRO | AP | Thu May 14, 9:06 am ET
    http://snipr.com/i0kw7

    The chief executives of the country’s nine largest banks had no choice but to accept capital infusions from the Treasury Department in October, government documents released Wednesday have confirmed.

  111. shadmarsh

    Do you post this here because no one reads your blog? If so, I’d take that as a hint. just saying.

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