Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meta Review: a Paradigm Shift in Objectivism Hit Pieces

Design of "The Fountainhead" - Photo of Le Corbusier 
by A.Steiner, 1935, found in the book "Delirious New York" 
by Rem Koolhaas - Hat Tip: Rene Fijten
Most reviews of the work of Ayn Rand and her philosophy, Objectivism are written by outsiders. This stands to reason. Most reviewers simply aren't adepts of Objectivism. This is like writing a critique on Einstein without having studied physics.
Since comprehension of Ayn Rand's theory requires an ethics program, directly opposed to the prevailing morality, to true adepts these unfortunate lapses stand out like a soar thumb. Victoria Bekiempis in an article in The Guardian is no exception. But she distinguishes herself by the claim to have been a former student of the theory, turning the review into a personal testimony in order to lend weight to the critique: a fallacy called the Argument from Authority. In "Confessions of a recovering Objectivist" she goes to the point of stating to have become an officer of her university's Objectivist club. But she repented and she now sees the error of her former ways: "what a pernicious philosophy rational egoism is – and how dumb!
It takes some time to get into the substance, the critique being peppered with scurrilous qualifiers that serve the purpose of creating the proper atmosphere against Rand and her morally abject followers.
What betrays Miss Bekiempis' 'constructed reality' is the false premise that Rand's philosophy holds that "altruism doesn't exist". This is simply astonishing given that Rand's problem with altruism is the keenness of its adherents to subjugate others to their supposed ideals. Miss Bekiempis doesn't betray any awareness of this once in her article. Far from denying the existence of altruism, Rand condemns it. 
Altruism is at the root of the ethics of collectivism. Well, we all know what that is about: Socialism, Nazism, Communism, ethic Nationalism, tribalism, forced labor, gulags, slavery, mass murder, all for the good of the collective, and for our own sakes of course! That is the basis of Victoria  Bekiempis' superior moral order! 
Then there's her confession that "leaving Rand was no more different or difficult than, say, leaving a friend who had grown to annoy me over time". She didn't leave Objectivism for a related philosophy like Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, or Anarcho-Capitalism, but - hold on to your socks - Anarcho-Syndicalism, a Marxist off shoot admired by the likes of irrational super pOmos like George Sorel and Noam Chomsky. Bekiempis is not just wandering, she's ideologically disoriented!
Like so many arbitrary thinkers the author labors under the mistaken notion that truth is subject to time, stating she has just passed through a "mentally puerile phase". But fortunately one does not grow out of non-contradictory thought. Either one has seen the light, or one hasn't and probably never will. In any case, enlightened thinking cannot be undone. 
Finally the former "Objectivist" moves to the core of her complaint against Rand: "her ideas are clearly being used to justify inequality, giving credence to institutionalized wealth-based elitism". Huh? It seems we have something more on our hands here than just a follower of Anarcho-Syndicalism: she's satisfied with nothing less than complete equality of outcome. She feels it in her bones too: "This has to stop, and stop now". Given the record of Communism, that's royally rich!
But she rejects rational egoism not just for that particular reason! The Objectivist School is evil on principle because it does not compromise its integrity: "anything even remotely close to the unfettered capitalism advocated by Rand plainly does not work". Upon which Ayn Rand's personal life is scurrilously dragged into the argument. Let's not honor it with comment. 
As for the accusation that Rand "bastardized Nietzsche's best ideas" is evidence of the author's ignorance of Nietzsche as well as Rand. Nietzsche being a group subjectivist and a precursor to Nazi philosophy, he's Rand's opposite number in every respect but one (atheism). The similarities between Nietzsche's Ubermensch and Rand's Man As A Heroic Being are strictly superficial and don't survive first scrutiny. 
For the climax of the rebuttal, the reader is referred to "far smarter, more articulate people" so we are regrettably left in the dark as to what this entails, but it has to do with the ethics of self interest. The Left are clearly the last people who can play the card of Hume's Law, considering their root in Ought, not Is.
The remainder of the article is built around the false premise we mentioned earlier: that Rand denied the existence of altruism and that altruism should be rejected on practical grounds. It betrays Bekiempis' utter ignorance of basic Objectivism. 
We leave Miss Victoria Bekiempis as she is flying off into orbit, on her way to the cosmos of Neo Cultural Marxism, or however you'd like to define "moving beyond convention and toward post-conventional social contract and conscience for true moral growth".
I'm sure the article will make a fine template for the next ten or twenty years of hit pieces on Rand and Objectivism.  It's such a relief after decades of the cult argument! Let @vicbekiempis know what you think. Facebook page Village Voice Socialight Page
Hat Tip: @YerRamautarsing
More ignorant Rand polemics by Gary Weiss
Classically Liberal: "Lying about Ayn Rand and Social Security" Hat tip:
Roberto Sarrionandia: "Victoria Bekiempis: Fraud" Hat tip: @m1self @justintempler