Ayn Rand—still a bad idea

Thank you for reporting on Western Carolina University’s instituting their Ayn Rand studies at the behest and endowment of the BB&T banking firm [“Capitalism on Campus,” Dec. 23].

Those who have read Ayn Rand do not need to be told that her writings represent the core of the collection of bad ideas that, up till now, have brought us the Bushes and the Cheneys of our day—and through the popular vote. These are the bait-and-switch tactics that endeavor to convince the common man that he is the next millionaire: All we have to do is abolish all such “wasteful” programs that aid the poor and underprivileged to gain a place in our society. Simultaneously, the worker is being informed—as of today—that he must be willing to accept lower wages. Such is the fiscal mess we find ourselves in, as a direct result of such ideas.

It is no suprise BB&T would want to foster such programs. They are eager to bring up their next generation of fiscal wizards—just as soon as our temporary regulatory mood goes away. Then we can resume cowboy capitalism once again, unfettered.

Unfortunately, any attempts to regulate the kind of program-building [practiced by] BB&T and other conservative, capitalist corporations are most likely to become enmeshed in constitutional quagmire. The best antidote may well be for us to seek to direct endowments to colleges and universities fostering liberal, socially progressive programs.

— Tom Coppola
Asheville

SHARE
About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster

39 thoughts on “Ayn Rand—still a bad idea

  1. Becky

    Greed always wants an excuse, greed doesn’t want to feel bad. So here is a philosophy that excuses greed, you’re precisely right. I’m not selfish, I’m really helping everyone! “Compassionate conservatism.” It’s amazing so many people still don’t get that Reaganism has been a catastrophic failure, culminating in the Wall St. debacle.

  2. Capitalism, contrary to the writer’s facile assertion, is not unfettered. Any market that is not constrained by the rule of law is not free.

    The only thing unfettered in our economy is unbridled government interference in the free market.

  3. Dionysis

    “The only thing unfettered in our economy is unbridled government interference in the free market.”

    Yeah, and we all know that’s worked out with the neutering of virtually all oversight and regulations over the past eight years.

    There aren’t many people buying this fantasy anymore. Good luck in convincing people otherwise; you’re going to need it.

  4. Dionysis

    “Your comments seem to contradict the facts. Here some graphics to make my point:”

    Impressive graphics, but they hardly make a case for real oversight; it just shows they spent a ton of taxpayer dollars.

    “Washington – The Wall Street financiers and firms whose problems have prompted a $700 billion federal bailout are no strangers to Capitol Hill or to politics.

    Since 2001, eight of the most troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates, presidential candidates and the Republican and Democratic parties, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics…

    Legislators failed in several instances to conduct oversight hearings or to raise concerns as the Bush administration adopted rules that fed the mortgage frenzy and set Wall Street on the route to disaster.

    For instance, in 2004 when the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a major rule change that freed investment banks to plunge tens of billions of dollars in borrowed money into subprime mortgages and other risky plays, congressional banking committees held no oversight hearings.

    Congressional inaction also allowed mortgage agents to earn high fees for peddling loans to unqualified homebuyers and prevented states from toughening regulations on predatory lending practices…

    Some state regulators, recognizing early signs of trouble in housing markets, sought help from Congress when the Bush administration adopted rules barring states from enforcing tough laws targeting predatory lending the practices that were enabling unqualified applicants to obtain subprime mortgages.

    With Wall Street serving a key role in buying, bundling and reselling subprime mortgages, state officials couldn’t get Congress to intervene, said John Ryan, the executive vice president of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.

    “You could say that the finance industry got their money’s worth by supporting members of Congress who were inclined to look the other way,” said Lawrence Jacobs, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

    “When the spotlight’s on, sometimes reason carries,” Ryan said. “But when it’s not on, all of the influence is overwhelming.”

    John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor who specializes in banking and securities regulation, said that investment banks were well positioned politically when the SEC changed its rules in 2004.

    The commission acted, Coffee said, after the European Union threatened to examine the financial soundness of the London affiliates of U.S. investment banks, especially those of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, unless equivalent regulation was imposed in America.

    Until then, U.S. regulators had paid little attention to investment banks’ forays into subprime mortgages and other exotic securities, monitoring only the firms’ broker-dealer operations, he said.

    In return for accepting new regulatory supervision, which fell far short of Europe’s, the investment banks got a huge carrot, Coffee said: The SEC relaxed the federal limits on their borrowing and, he said, they used their new leverage “to the hilt.”

    After the SEC changed its rules, Coffee said, Merrill Lynch’s and Morgan Stanley’s debt-to-equity ratios soared to 40-to-1 and 37-to-1 respectively from the old limit of 12-to-1, leading to Bank of America’s $50 billion purchase of Merrill and contributing to calls for a bailout to rescue Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street giants.

    The banking committees also took no action when the Department of Housing and Urban Development adopted a rule change that made it easier for mortgage brokers to collect hefty incentive payments for arranging loans with above-market interest rates for marginal buyers.

    The panels also watched from the sidelines when the federal Comptroller of the Currency preempted more than 30 state attorneys general from enforcing state laws holding investment banks liable for predatory lending practices on the subprime mortgages.

    Ryan, of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, said he was “cut off at the knees” when he tried to fight the Bush administration’s ruling on predatory pricing regulation.”

    http://www.truthout.org/100308C

    Nice try, but no cigar.

  5. Dionysis

    “Obama lists Reagan as one of his “role models.”

    Yes, but you leave out something: not because he shares The Gipper’s views, but because he admired the way Reagan galvanized people and created a new political dynamic. He is doing much the same, although from a different philosophical basis.

  6. Barry Summers

    I’d be willing to bet that FEMA’s budget rose right up until Katrina, and the CIA’s budget rose right up to the “intelligence failure” that led us to invade a country that did not attack us.

    You can spend a bazillion dollars on “regulation”, but if the leadership at the top doesn’t want it to actually work, it won’t.

  7. Gone to Croatan

    As usual, very well said Dionysis.

    A lot of people are unaware that Alan Greenspan was a member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle since 1942. Even Greenspan himself has finally begun to question that “greed is good” Ayn Rand nonsense. For example, back in October he said:

    “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

    Oopsie. It really is frightening that anyone still believes in that Ayn Rand will to power garbage. The thinly veiled neoMachiavelian social Darwnism that comprises Rand’s rhetoric is an embarrassment that should have been laughed out of existence a long time ago, but it lives on because of its usefulness to corporate death mongers trying to rationalize their atrocities with a quasi-philosophical footing for their unconscionable world view.

    The fact that so many mouth-breathing survivalists holing up for the apocalypse couch their bigoted paranoia in her rhetoric only makes it that much more ridiculous.

  8. entopticon

    As usual, very well said Dionysis.

    A lot of people are unaware that Alan Greenspan was a member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle since 1942. Even Greenspan himself has finally begun to question that “greed is good” Ayn Rand nonsense. For example, back in October he said:

    “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

    Oopsie. It really is frightening that anyone still believes in that Ayn Rand will to power garbage. The thinly veiled neoMachiavelian social Darwnism that comprises Rand’s rhetoric is an embarrassment that should have been laughed out of existence a long time ago, but it lives on because of its usefulness to corporate death mongers trying to rationalize their atrocities with a quasi-philosophical footing for their unconscionable world view.

    The fact that so many mouth-breathing survivalists holing up for the apocalypse couch their bigoted paranoia in her rhetoric only makes it that much more ridiculous.

  9. entopticon writes: “A lot of people are unaware that Alan Greenspan was a member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle since 1942″

    Thanks for pointing out that Greenspan is not an Objectivist and does not represent or defend free market economics.

    Far from it. He chose to become part of the massive violations of individual rights that came with his job at the Federal Reserve.

    Here is an excerpt from an excellent article explaining Greenspan’s errors:

    Bubble Boy: Alan Greenspan’s Rejection of Reason and Morality
    Gus Van Horn | Objective Standard | Winter 2008
    http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2008-winter/alan-greenspan.asp

    “[The] idea that Greenspan possessed ‘free-market convictions’ and that those convictions are why he failed to rein in unsound lending practices is ridiculous. The very purpose of the Federal Reserve—the central bank at the heart of our troubled, government-controlled economy and the money machine that Greenspan operated for almost twenty years—is to manipulate the market. Such a ‘bank’ would not even exist in a free market, and its precise function in our mixed economy is to engage in unsound lending practices as a means of such manipulation.”

  10. entopticon

    Note: I said 1942 and meant 1952. My bad.

    Tim, that us Gus Van Horn article might be more convincing if the author had any economic credentials whatsoever. Like Ayn Rand before him, he doesn’t.

    As it is, I just can’t take that sort of Ayn Rand blather seriously. The journal that published the article has one of the most ridiculously misguided mission statements that I have ever seen, saying outlandishly ludicrous things like, “A volunteer social worker who gives away his time and effort for nothing at all is thereby being immoral.” I know that’s just classic Ay Rand, but it is still just as disturbing. The Journal’s motto, “exploit the Earth or die” pretty much sums things up.

    I think Rand’s ideas were seriously misguided and have been responsible for a great deal of harm, but I probably wouldn’t go quite as far as Noam Chomsky who called her “one of the most evil figures of modern intellectual history.” I don’t get the appeal, but if it works for you, more will to power to you.

  11. Dionysis

    “I don’t get the appeal”

    My guess is that it gives the illusion of an ‘objective’ rationale to excuse what is nothing more than egregious greed and self-aggrandizement. It doesn’t really matter if it holds water or not, it’s just a cover for the “greed is good” crowd.

  12. rationalinfidel

    The depth and degree of federal government intrusion in the financial markets is staggering. The unsound lending practices caused by such intrusion, including actions by the Federal Reserve Board, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, led to crisis we now observe.

    But Coppola and others commenting here would have you believe that capitalism is to blame. And they howl for more government.

    They try to tell us that Greenspan represents Rand’s ideas. But, of course, the whole notion of a Federal Reserve Board is antithetical to her principles and Greenspan abandoned the philosophy of Objectivism long ago.

    But never mind. Don’t let the facts ruin a good smear job.

    The Federal Register contains over 73,000 pages of government regulations. How much interference do you suppose is enough for them? At what point would any rational person concede that we are not engaged in capitalism?

  13. entopticon

    Alan Greenspan was in Ayn Rand’s loopy inner circle from 1952 till her funeral, which he attended. The fact is, Ayn Rand was a scriptwriter who never formally studied even rudimentary economics. To base economic theories on her ludicrous rationalizations of extreme egotism would be even more of a disaster than it was for her personal life and those in her circle who were forced to indulge her meglomaniacal desires. What she loosely called a philosophy is more akin to a cult of personality because it certainly doesn’t stand up to the rigors of philosophical inquiry. Her critics quickly realized that while she liked to couch her arguments in names such as John Locke to lend her arguments credibility, she clearly had never actually even read Locke.

    The cult of Ayn Rand has had 60 years to present something more than shockingly unethical and remarkably weak arguments for the radically extreme brand of capitalism that she adocated. They had their chance, and they failed. In light of contemporary philosophy, economics, and the rise of environmentalism (which Ayn Rand’s Objectivist movement openly despises), Ayn Rand’s egoistic blather seems more irrelevant than ever.

    Since it disintegrates so quickly under even the slightest scrutiny or practical application, it is quite obvious that the only thing keeping it artificially alive is its function as a conscience assuaging device for the most depraved acts of unconscionable greed.

  14. libertarian

    Ayn Rand is one of the most misunderstood authors. True, she was “weird” in a personal sense and her inner circle resembled a cult at times. However, just because the word “ego” is the root of “egoism” does not mean her philosophy is all about greed. It is much more about the pursuit of happiness – which many “progressives” want to call greed. I think their agenda is more to prevent people from being happy. As for the government, they owned over half the mortgages and their existing regulations setup the market for its downfall. Many got mortgages because of government programs that otherwise would not have been given one by free enterprise. “Free enterprise greed” is not at the root of current problems. The answer, strangely enough, is not more stifling government regulation, but less. The government’s job is not to protect everyone from all kinds of risks, financial or otherwise. The government’s role that is has not been fulfilling is a better definition of, prevention, and prosecution of fraud. Communism failed, more Socialistic Europe has had higher unemployment and lower growth than us – so why do so many think a more socialistic government is the answer? Does anyone like standing in line at the DMV or waiting in traffic jams because the DOT can’t get a road paved correctly?

  15. Piffy!

    As long as you can recognize that what your arguing is merely thoeretical, “libertarian”, and will never actually exists in these United States, then I’ll agree with you-in theory.

    Because thats all this conversation is-in theory.

    In reality, we have a massive government because we are a massive nation. Many aspects of it are a bit bloated, but until companies begin to act in everyones best interest, and not just monetery’s profits, then most citizens will favor government “regulation.”

    Is that really that hard to grasp?

  16. libertarian writes: “[her philosophy] is much more about the pursuit of happiness”

    Correct. If I could sum up her philosophy in one sentence, it would be: “DON’T POSTPONE JOY”

  17. Barry Summers

    “They try to tell us that Greenspan represents Rand’s ideas. But, of course, the whole notion of a Federal Reserve Board is antithetical to her principles and Greenspan abandoned the philosophy of Objectivism long ago.”

    The way that I see it, Rand’s philosophy is BUILT to abandon, meaning it can’t survive contact with the real world. Witness Greenspan, John Allison, and other of her (previously) most ardent defenders throwing the ol’ gal under the bus when she threatens the bottom line.

    I agree with the sad assessment that those in positions of power who push Objectivism the hardest don’t really believe in it – it’s merely a convenient figleaf for their greedy behavior.

  18. Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
    By Stephen Moore | WSJ | Jan 9, 2009
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123146363567166677.html

    “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.”

  19. rationalinfidel

    entopticon, you should teach a course on logical fallacies and your posts would make great homework exercises.

    But let me ask you this: Do believe you have a right to your own life?

  20. rationalinfidel

    The (PFKaP) writes: “Because thats all this conversation is-in theory.”

    Why do you say this? Do you not believe that we both can and should reduce the interference of government in our lives?

    “In reality, we have a massive government because we are a massive nation.”

    No. We have a massive government because we have allowed it to stray far afield from what the framers intended and required.

    “. . . until companies begin to act in everyones best interest . . .”

    Even if they should (and they shouldn’t), companies cannot possibly act in everyone’s best interest. Why would you expect them to do the impossible?

    “Is that really that hard to grasp?”

    It’s not hard to grasp the flaws in your thinking. The hard part is in understanding why you don’t “grasp” them yourself.

  21. rationalinfidel

    Barry, you write that Rand’s philosophy “can’t survive contact with the real world.” Yet her philosophy is distinct from many philosophies in that it relies on contact with the (real) world. It recognizes that existence exists independent of our consciousness and that knowledge is based upon evidence of the senses.

    Do you believe her statements regarding metaphysics and epistemology are flawed? Or is it only in the realm of ethics and politics that she missed something?

  22. entopticon

    irrationalinfidel said: “entopticon, you should teach a course on logical fallacies and your posts would make great homework exercises.”

    That is absolutely hilarious. What a sadly weak claim to make without even the slightest attempt at substantiation. My logic is just fine. You couldn’t show that it wasn’t so you substituted that lame crack instead.

    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.

    irrationalinfidel asked: “But let me ask you this: Do believe you have a right to your own life?”

    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.

  23. rationalinfidel

    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 logical 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. The record, your record, makes this ever so obvious.

    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?

  24. entopticon

    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.

  25. Barry Summers

    Just to get back to the subject of the letter/article… BB&T;has further eroded it’s “Randian” street cred by announcing their new CEO will serve as a Director of the dreaded Federal Reserve.

    http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/prnewswire/press_releases/national/North_Carolina/2009/01/14/CLW055

    First they ask for a $3 billion taxpayer bailout for their shareholders & to fuel their acquisitions, now their CEO is part of the nasty Federal government. These are the people pushing Ayn Rand into our schools?

  26. rationalinfidel

    (This post, from a similar and related thread, is copied here in order to address a few more of entopticon’s false claims.)

    ————————————–

    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.

  27. Dionysis

    Ayn Rand and her silly theory of ‘objectivism’ (as if her rambling bilge constitutes some kind of universal, immutable, ‘objective truth’) appeals to the pseudo-intellectual, ‘me, me, me’ crowd; it’s a fallacious theory (and has never been anything other than a lame ‘theory’) does not have the inherent appeal of an intellectually valid idea, and thus could never, on its own weight, find itself in the classroom without its purveyors buying its way in.

  28. entopticon

    Thank you Dionysis. You are absolutely correct.

    It should be noted that the reason that academics resist being pushed by corporate deathmongers trying to rationalize their social darwinism who want Ayn Rand to be taken seriously, is that it would be academic suicide. Ayn Rand conspiracy theorists can blather on all they want about how that’s because Marxists want to silence them, but really it’s because of the basic fact that Rand’s quasi-intellectual philosophies don’t even come close to warranting the right to be taken seriously.

    It is just too funny how the Rand cult is so big on their survival of the fittest rhetoric, but the truth is that their own ideas have never been considered fit enough to be taken even remotely seriously by the vast majority of academics.

  29. 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.

  30. libertarian

    from timpeck Jan 13, 2009 at 04:12 PM:
    “Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
    By Stephen Moore | WSJ | Jan 9, 2009
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123146363567166677.html

    “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.”

    ——-

    I think the thing that sounded most omninous to me was the creation of a “Chief Performance Officer”. WTH? So things aren’t efficient and the response is what – create another position and office to handle the problem! This “watch the watchers” and “regulate the regulators” trail is pure nonsense that can only result in more ineptitude, indecision, and inefficiency.

    ———–

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/07/nancy-killefer-obamas-chi_n_155910.html

    from the above article:
    …”Obama pledged during the campaign to form a White House SWAT team of sorts _ led by a chief performance officer who would report directly to him _ to work with agency leaders and the White House budget office to improve federal programs and services.

    Yet, even as he announced the post that’s also aimed at spending taxpayer money more efficiently, Obama was spending his first week in Washington promoting his mammoth economic stimulus plan _ much of which will be new spending aimed at creating jobs and stoking the troubled economy.”

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. rationalinfidel

    “I think “Lord of the Rings” should be taught in history classes.”

    Might as well. Dickens’ Hard Times is often used as an historical presentation of the Industrial Revolution.

    Same difference.

  34. Tiffany

    Wow. Ayn Rand did NOT bring us Bush/Cheney. The Bush/Cheney Republicans have not affected change that is in line with Ayn Rand’s Objectivist Philosophy. That is the most absurd statement I have ever heard.

    Beyond that… I have something to say to people that claim that what Bush did prior to this financial crisis was deregulation: Changing regulations is by no means deregulating. The fact that people feel that what the government sets as a limit (high or low) is safe and acceptable… THAT leads people to stop thinking for themselves and believe that they can afford mortgages that they cannot. Bush-Republicans are far from capitalist. A market with ANY regulation is NOT a free one.

Leave a Reply