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Rand Grant Colleges
July 14, 2007 7:39 PM   Subscribe

The Ayn Rand Institute held their yearly confab in Telluride, CO, near the purported location of the fiction Gault's Gulch of Atlas Shrugged, celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the most turgid novels of all time. Part of the program included a panel of academics discussing their experiences "as objectivists." The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the state of objectivism in academe. Rand Grants are up, tenure is tendentious, and a for-profit Founders Institute appears to be foundering. (more inside)
posted by beelzbubba (111 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought that the reporting by the Chronicle was objective (not always easy when reporting on objectivism) which is why I linked to their series of stories. I looked at other news sources on the tenure rejection, the grants at UNC and UT-Austin, and Virginia's Founders College, and felt that the Chronicle links accurately tell the story.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:43 PM on July 14, 2007


the whole concept of tenure goes against everything Rand stood for (I don't know if she worked it out that far). Universities ought to be able to fire professors on a whim, since they are the ones with the capital. If randian professors are whining about tenure then they are most certainly little bitches.

On the other hand, they would not be Randians if they were not little bitches, so I guess that makes sense.

(also, bugmenot blocks chronicle.com. Arg)
posted by delmoi at 7:46 PM on July 14, 2007 [11 favorites]


I like the word turgid
posted by empath at 7:47 PM on July 14, 2007


beelzbubba: Are you using a university network? You may think that the chronicle tells the story well, but it dosn't tell much to me, since I can only see the first few paragraphs.
posted by delmoi at 7:48 PM on July 14, 2007


damn. lemme see if I can correct that. On the Chronicle site, they say that they encourage links directly to the site.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:51 PM on July 14, 2007


beezlebubba: If I remote desktop into a university computer, I can read the chronicle.com articles, however, from home I can't.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 PM on July 14, 2007


*Ahem* (bursts into song):

Live for yourself -- there's no one else
More worth living for
Begging hands and bleeding hearts will
Only cry out for more

Well, I know they've always told you
Selfishness was wrong
Yet it was for me, not you, i
Came to write this song


[oh yeah, baby, they're rocking out - time for Temples of Syrinx]
posted by KokuRyu at 7:51 PM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ayn Rand is like Daffy Duck - "mine, mine, all mine."
posted by caddis at 7:55 PM on July 14, 2007


The thing about the Chronicle is that they let Google cache the full version of their articles. Comes in handy.
posted by jedicus at 7:58 PM on July 14, 2007


Student leftists, however, were not the only people challenging Mr. Lewis's academic freedom that week in April. Hours before he flew to Virginia, he resigned from his position at Ashland, in the culmination of a years-long faculty battle over Mr. Lewis's interest in objectivism, as Rand termed her philosophy. And in the Ashland arena, Mr. Lewis says, his foes were mainstream and evangelical Christians.

Mr. Lewis says his battles reflect the extraordinary and unfair degree of hostility that objectivists in academe receive from both left and right. "In the morning at Ashland, I was resigning because conservatives and evangelicals were opposed to me," he says. "And then in the evening I was at George Mason, and there were some Muslims and this new student SDS opposed to me. I found that poignant."
Poignant, huh. It's interesting, when people get attacked from the left and right they tend to think they're doing something right. I remember when Micheal Powell was pushing for media consolodation the NRA and the ACLU were both opposed. Powell thought he "must be doing something right".

But no, sometimes when the left and right opposes you It's because you're an asshole

Off to read the rest of Lewis's tale of woe on my state-owned university computer.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 PM on July 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


On the morning of his George Mason lecture, Mr. Lewis and the university reached an informal settlement. Ashland granted him tenure — on the condition that he offer his resignation.

LOL. Classic.
posted by delmoi at 8:00 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


In some respects, Mr. Lewis is an unlikely poster child for academic freedom. In his 2006 essay on Iran, he urged the U.S. military in war zones to threaten Muslim intellectuals with "immediate personal destruction" if they do not renounce political Islamism.

Yeah great...
posted by delmoi at 8:02 PM on July 14, 2007


LOLrandist. So, is there going to be discussion of the state of Randians in the academic world, or are content with saying that we think that they collectively (ha) have a mental disorder. Either way is fine: I do think that they have a mental disorder (human kind has disordered minds in general); I am interested in the spread of this meme.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:19 PM on July 14, 2007


I found a way that I can link to articles in Chronicle, but that lasts only 1 week, so I have the four articles as PDFs (sorry):

Rand's Legacy

Rand's Academic Advocates

Tenure Shrugged

Founder's College

And I completely agree on what the Randian theory of tenure should be, but in this case, it was that Ashland College, a college founded by the religious denomination The Brethren, found Professor Lewis's objectivism in contrast to the college's mission and on that basis denied him tenure.

Ultimately, to avoid litigation, Ashland agreed to grant him tenure with his concession to resign immediately.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:25 PM on July 14, 2007


How about I just read a Steve Ditko comic instead?
posted by Falconetti at 8:26 PM on July 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


The tenure issue is complicated by Ashland's willingness to accept the $ that allowed Lewis to do his research. OTOH, like it or not, a church-affiliated college is legally within its rights to fire someone who espouses an atheist philosophy. (I'm surprised that Lewis wasn't asked to sign a contract saying that he'd adhere to the principles of the college's church affiliation--many such colleges require you to sign one of these agreements when you're hired, and one I know of makes you sign every year.)
posted by thomas j wise at 8:29 PM on July 14, 2007


on preview: I am an idiot. Thanks for the Google cache.

Otoh, I am not a Randian. I do think it is best, though, to have open discussion of their philosophy qua philosophy. Otherwise thy operate in secrecy and promote themselves to those who are attracted to clandestine organizations, building loyalty on the premise of being attacked by those who don't "understand."
posted by beelzbubba at 8:31 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that a Randian would complain about the resolution of a problem via conflict. I mean, isn't that pretty much her whole shtick? If you can force others to do things your way, good on you. If you can't then your way of doing things must not be very good. Why would someone who advocates destroying an entire country as a show of force, be miffed by the idea that his own ambitions might be thwarted by those with more powe?.

There is some cognitive dissonance going here.
posted by oddman at 8:35 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


For discussion. Here and Here.
posted by oddman at 8:38 PM on July 14, 2007


Mr. Walsh plans to study business, with a focus on hotels and restaurants. He has already lined up a work-study job with the manager of the nearby Inn at Berry Hill. He will use the $7.25 an hour to help cover the cost of the college's $24,000-a-year tuition and fees.

Founders has awarded him three scholarships, totaling $8,000 a year, that will also help him pay tuition and the $7,500 the college charges each year for room and board. Mr. Walsh says he will cover the rest of his expenses with private loans.
Do they have financial advisors around? I think that we've seen some askme's about people in this situation.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:44 PM on July 14, 2007


While researching the objectivist world online, Ms. Raphael began to fear that Anthem's
grants were given only to a narrow range of scholars associated with the Ayn Rand
Institute. No Anthem grants appear to go to scholars associated with David Kelley, a former
Vassar College philosophy professor who broke with the institute in 1990 amid a personal
and ideological dispute that concerned, among other things, whether it is appropriate for
objectivists to speak at events organized by libertarians. Mr. Kelley, who now directs the Atlas Society, an objectivist group in Washington, says he can understand that the institute might not want anything to do with him personally. But he believes it is absurd for the institute to demand that its associates "repudiate" any and all scholars who "tolerate" him — a formulation that often appears in objectivist blog posts.

Mr. McCaskey, the Anthem president, says that Ms. Raphael's concern about narrowness
is unfair and unfounded. Many of the Anthem Foundation's grants, he points out, go to
institutions like the University of North Carolina, where there are no objectivists on the
faculty. And Mr. Gotthelf noted that he himself has historically had an arm's-length
relationship with the institute. In 2000, four of its leaders declared that they felt "morally
obliged" to criticize Mr. Gotthelf's book On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth) for being written in
inaccessible academic language. Ms. Raphael is correct, however, to note that the
foundation has never supported any scholars associated with Mr. Kelley, some of whom
have published extensively in objectivist philosophy.

Recanting Error

Another red flag for Ms. Raphael was an abject apology distributed online in 2002 by
Andrew Bernstein, a visiting professor of philosophy at Marist College. Mr. Bernstein
lectured on Rand at Texas State this past March, and Mr. McCaskey mentioned his name
as someone who might fill the position that Anthem offered to finance.

In his 2002 statement, Mr. Bernstein apologized for having contributed a one-paragraph
letter to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, a journal that publishes a variety of approaches
to Rand's philosophy, many of which the institute's leaders find false and offensive. (Mr.
Bernstein's short contribution was a reply to a negative review of his CliffsNotes of Rand's
novels.)

"The so-called Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is filled with writings by people with whom I
refuse to knowingly associate under any circumstances," wrote Mr. Bernstein in his
apology. "I deeply regret my thoughtless decision to contribute to this journal, and hereby
irrevocably repudiate any and all association with it. In this regard, the fault is entirely my own. This journal does not hide what it is. Its contents are available on the Internet for all to
see. In failing to do the requisite research and gather the necessary data, I failed to
properly use my mind. I must now suffer the consequences of that. To all who are sincerely
concerned with objectivism, I apologize, and recommend a complete repudiation and
boycott of this journal. ..."

When asked by The Chronicle about his 2002 comments, Mr. Bernstein replied that
rejecting The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies was a moral and intellectual obligation. "We are
literally in a struggle to save human civilization from the destruction wrought by irrational
philosophy," he wrote in an e-mail message. The editors of the journal have been hostile to
the Ayn Rand Institute, he said, but "anyone who sincerely supports Ayn Rand's
philosophy, and appreciates its indispensable role in promoting cultural renaissance, must,
as a logical consequence ... respect ARI's dauntless, indefatigable, gallant struggle on
behalf of a rational philosophy."

posted by Brian B. at 8:45 PM on July 14, 2007


Wonder how many bomb threats they got this year.
posted by SassHat at 8:51 PM on July 14, 2007


Wonder how many bomb threats they got this year.

They would be wise to start calling their own in and publicizing it. Cults grow faster when they are perceived to be hated, because they attract people who feel rejected by society.
posted by Brian B. at 9:05 PM on July 14, 2007


Universities ought to be able to fire professors on a whim, since they are the ones with the capital.

That's a fundamental misunderstanding of how universities work and would surely result in a significant reduction in academic freedom and innovation.
posted by docgonzo at 9:20 PM on July 14, 2007


Objectivism: Who needs it? Oh right...freshman college students and their ideological brethren on the ultra-libertarian right.

Apparently the Objectivist blowhards prefer to have the name of her philosophy capitalized, or so I am reminded on Wikipedia constantly.
posted by inoculatedcities at 9:32 PM on July 14, 2007


He will use the $7.25 an hour to help cover the cost of the college's $24,000-a-year tuition and fees.

objectivism - the philosophy of the romantic wannabe capitalists ...

look, people who are really bound and determined to make a major pile don't have fucking time to read ayn rand's endless novels or debate her endlessly debatable philosophy - they're too busy WORKING

and not at $7.25 an hour if they can help it at all
posted by pyramid termite at 9:50 PM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Near as I can tell, Ayn Rand appeals to half-educated hormonal teenagers and, for some reason, people who fell into that trap and never grew out of it. Perhaps I'm just scarred by my personal experience though.

Either way, Randroids are the yucky.
posted by psmith at 10:32 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's a fundamental misunderstanding of how universities work and would surely result in a significant reduction in academic freedom and innovation.

That's not what I think, that's the answer you would arrive at if you applied Rand's logic to the question of tenure.
posted by delmoi at 10:39 PM on July 14, 2007


KokuRyu, you left out the Anthem reference (I know it's also the name of the song, but it's Rand song and a Rand thread):

Anthem of the heart and anthem of the mind
A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
We marvel after those who sought
New wonders in the world, wonders in the world,
Wonders in the world they wrought

posted by psmith at 10:43 PM on July 14, 2007


Al things considered, learning to charge and shoot with a 18th century musket might be more useful of learning something about objectivism. However, learning it with cheese might be worth the time. Cheese is good.

mmmm, cheese
posted by darkripper at 10:46 PM on July 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Imagine the Objectivist version of Burning Man. 30-odd thousand Randroids - people for whom capital goods are fetish items - all out in the desert at once.

How many do you think would know the difference between an AC and a DC motor?

On what day do you think they'd resort to cannibalism?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:57 PM on July 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


I didn't expect to ever find myself defending the followers of Ayn Rand (I find her — similar accusations have been made against many others — to be obvious and derivative where she is right, and naïve and wrong where she is original), but there is a certain conspicuous dismissiveness among academics which grates a little here, in the idea that Ms. Rand is "unworthy of discussion." That may be; I wouldn't argue the assertion. But those who consider themselves more sophisticated than the objectivists do themselves no favors with their sneering ad hominems, their oh-so-clever dismissals of Randians as unlettered and overly-serious freshmen from insignifcant towns, little people who wish they were bigger, etc. If her philosophy is really so trite, so facile, and so sophistic it would seem best to ignore her altogether; after all, one rarely comes across jeremiads against the ideas of, say, Lyndon LaRouche, or David Ickes, or the Time Cube guy, among reputable scholars. But for some reason Rand seems to push certain buttons, and many who consider her patently unworthy of any serious critique find themselves nonetheless unable to resist the lure of the easy, simplistic snub. To me, this seems unscholarly; if an idea, however wrongheaded, is worthy of condemnation — even if only because it has too many adherents — it seems to me that its critics owe it a serious (if unsympathetic) response. There are a number of prominent figures in philosophy who held very silly ideas; the particular disdain for Rand carries some rather unpleasant undertones of class hostility. (She, of course, would not object to this, but I do.)

look, people who are really bound and determined to make a major pile don't have fucking time to read ayn rand's endless novels or debate her endlessly debatable philosophy - they're too busy WORKING and not at $7.25 an hour if they can help it at all

The proles really do become tiresome when they fill their little prole heads with ideas above their station, don't they?
posted by enn at 10:59 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Objectivism: Who needs it? Oh right...freshman college students and their ideological brethren on the ultra-libertarian right.

Ha! My freshman roommante in college became an objectivist about half way through the year (girlfriend got him into it). He even put up a flier on our door that said "Socialism is morally wrong."

I was never a socialist, but I did confront him about the flier: I got all hippy-dippy and said it was a bit weird and that it made me feel uncomfortable. So guess what this objectivist did... he took down the flier. Not the most Objectivist thing to do, to be sure, but we got along ok after that.
posted by Kronoss at 11:21 PM on July 14, 2007


Anyone who things Objectivism is a load of crap should try dealing with UK local government.

Besides Brad and Angelina are into it, so it must be cool.
posted by rhymer at 11:52 PM on July 14, 2007


sorry - thinks.
posted by rhymer at 11:53 PM on July 14, 2007


The proles really do become tiresome when they fill their little prole heads with ideas above their station, don't they?

Which was Rand's implicit assumption.
posted by Brian B. at 11:56 PM on July 14, 2007


The objectivist types I've met have been uniformly tone deaf to critical thinking and openly hostile to any kind of nuance in ideas. Some philosophical writers challenge the reader's ignorance and predispositions. Rand celebrates them. Maybe people like to read her and think "Ha! I was right all along!"... I don't know, that's how it appears to me. I think proles are great and deserve better books.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:10 AM on July 15, 2007


Rand Grants? Fuck me. I guess those pussies will take charity after all. Who knew?
posted by trondant at 12:12 AM on July 15, 2007 [5 favorites]


According to Rand Logic , you owe me a part of your income and I am better then you. Suddendly, Rand Logic appeals to me because of it's implicit superiority.
posted by elpapacito at 1:41 AM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've always felt that true objectivist scientists shouldn't cite other's research. They should have to start from the beginning themselves if they want all the credit.
posted by srboisvert at 2:17 AM on July 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


They should have to start from the beginning themselves if they want all the credit.

That's closer to Andy Galambos than Rand. On the wackiness scale, anyway.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:52 AM on July 15, 2007


It's kind of funny. My freshman philosophy class presented Objectivism entirely uncritically. It was just something to discuss.

If I had any prior bias, it was to the positive - i had friends that were fans but I hadn't looked into it.

... I thought her non-fiction philosophy was entirely unconvincing. Not only did I remain utterly unconvinced that there is a completely objective right and wrong, I thought her take on exactly how people aren't all that great missed the mark.

I think living in a Soviet socialist state might have something to do with how her mind works, though.
posted by flaterik at 5:22 AM on July 15, 2007


The proles really do become tiresome when they fill their little prole heads with ideas above their station, don't they?

i don't know ... let me ask my co-workers on the shop floor whether they think they become tiresome

talk about barking up the wrong tree ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:39 AM on July 15, 2007


oddman wrote "There is some cognitive dissonance going here."

Cognitive dissonance pretty much sums up everyone I've ever met who espoused the "if you can force others to do things your way, good on you" schtick. Its is much more properly expressed as "if *I* can force others to do things *MY* way, good on me; anyone else attempting to do the same is evil and bad".

I once worked, briefly, for a lapidary who was an Ayn Rynd fanatic, charter member of our local Libertarian party, etc. At one point he gloatingly told me that he'd used his position as the only lapidary doing something (I can't remember what) to jack up his prices, and how people would pay anyway because he was the only one doing whatever. A few weeks later UPS hiked their rates, and began adding a surcharge for pickups at small businesses; for various reasons he was pretty firmly comitted to UPS and was unable to switch to other shippers without incuring some pretty serious costs. The wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth on his part was astonishing to behold. It was awful, he said, how they were so unscrupulous as to charge extra just because they could.

The problem with Ryndites in general is that they all suffer from the delusion that in their ideal world they will be the powerful ones inflicting suffering on the less powerful. It doesn't seem to occur to them that they might wind up as one of the proles rather than one of the elites.
posted by sotonohito at 5:48 AM on July 15, 2007 [6 favorites]


You shall know a philosophy by what its adherents do with it.

I really couldn't care less how wonderful, pure, and awesome a philosophy is, or would be if it were carried out perfectly. In a practical sense, if its followers seem to magically correlate with jackassery, that's all I need to know. That and "The Night of January 16th" has to be one of the worst plays through which I've ever sat.
posted by adipocere at 7:12 AM on July 15, 2007


I had Allan Gotthelf (one of the professors discussed in the articles) for an intro philosophy course at the College of New Jersey. He spent the bulk of the course pushing Rand's views; the readings included The Fountainhead and his book on Rand. I won't say that Objectivists shouldn't teach philosophy, but as a student deeply interested in philosophy, it did a lot to discourage me.
posted by graymouser at 7:22 AM on July 15, 2007


I won't say that Objectivists shouldn't teach philosophy

I will, for the same reason that priests shouldn't be Satan worshippers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:28 AM on July 15, 2007


“It is something necessary to excrete unwholesome bodies, as in the past was done, e.g., to the John Birchers, and the Ayn Randians..."

-- William F. Buckley
posted by johngoren at 8:55 AM on July 15, 2007


For about 3 months in high school I was really into Ayn Rand. A friend gave me a copy of "The Fountainhead", and it struck all the right notes at the time. Then I read "Atlas Shrugged", and I think I picked up a few of her philosophy titles. After those, I think I began to understand how oversimplified her ideas were, and then I read her biography. I was stunned by how intellectually bankrupt she really was, refusing to compromise for anyone else but demanding it for herself constantly. She died bitter and alone, after being a genuinely unlikable person, and the Soviet-style intellectual bullying that she used within her own philosophy- and which, I see, is still alive and well- destroyed any merit I might have attributed to her ideas.
So long, Objectivism- it's been good to know you.
posted by 235w103 at 9:50 AM on July 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


Nozick on Rand and Randians:

RN: Evolution plays a large role in my discussion of necessary truths and metaphysical truths, and I ask "why would evolution have endowed us with such powerful cognitive capacities to know about all possibilities?" Maybe evolution just gives us 'good enough' theories like Euclidean geometry that are approximately true and able to get us around the world, but when we probe further we discover that they're not strictly speaking accurate. That question about cognitive capacity connects up with one segment of the libertarian movement: that influenced greatly by Ayn Rand, that has axioms like the law of identity, "A is A" and all that, from which they think conclusions follow that most people, elsewhere in philosophy, don't think follow from these logical truths.

I take evolution very seriously, and think that the capacities we have, including of apprehending a truth, have been strongly shaped, not to mention created, by evolution. So you could ask: "Why, then, do we have such powerful capacities as to give us these necessary truths, rather than truths that hold roughly and approximately at the actual world, and in similar worlds. The followers of Rand, for example, treat "A is A" not just as "everything is identical to itself" but as a kind of statement about essences and the limits of things. "A is A, and it can't be anything else, and once it's A today, it can't change its spots tomorrow." Now, that doesn't follow. I mean, from the law of identity, nothing follows about limitations on change. The weather is identical to itself but it's changing all the time. The use that's made by people in the Randian tradition of this principle of logic that everything is identical to itself to place limits on what the future behavior of things can be, or on the future nature of current things, is completely unjustified so far as I can see; it's illegitimate.

JS: So even if they have good politics, you don't care much for the Objectivist approach?

RN: I'm going to alienate a number of your book orderers, if I didn't already with what I said about Rand, but there was something startling about the attraction to non-initiation of force principles that the Randians had, at the same time that they were diligently acting as thought police. Bold entrepreneurs? Yes. But bold exploration of ideas? No.

JS: Why do you think it is that people of generally illiberal temperament would pick up classical liberal ideas? The combination seems mysterious.

RN: It is mysterious. Perhaps it has to do with the two sides of libertarian ideas. There is the boldness and excitement of libertarian ideas, the new possibilities for thinking, and for life in society that they open up, and there also are the sharp, and sharply reasoned, weapons they provide for attacking and even crushing other ideas. So perhaps it is not surprising that libertarianism has attracted two distinct types of temperaments, each one resonating to one of libertarianism's two different aspects.

posted by anotherpanacea at 10:20 AM on July 15, 2007


Mutant: "All that is ours was once flushed down your toilets. Over there is our aquarium, this is our library..."

Bender: "Nothing but crumpled porno and Ayn Rand"

-Futurama "I second that emotion"
posted by Grimgrin at 10:29 AM on July 15, 2007


Objectivism kills puppies.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 10:34 AM on July 15, 2007


If her philosophy is really so trite, so facile, and so sophistic it would seem best to ignore her altogether; after all, one rarely comes across jeremiads against the ideas of, say, Lyndon LaRouche, or David Ickes, or the Time Cube guy, among reputable scholars. But for some reason Rand seems to push certain buttons, and many who consider her patently unworthy of any serious critique find themselves nonetheless unable to resist the lure of the easy, simplistic snub.

I think for most philosophers that is the case - I have never seen her referenced or taken seriously by a philosopher and it would certainly seem weird if she were. I was once at a paper where someone brought up Anton Levay which was quite uncomfortable and I would imagine someone bringing up ayn rand would be the same sort of weirdness, at least at the sort of conferences I tend to go to. However, I have seen ayn rand's name listed in some 'local societies' type things of philosophy associations, which has confused me, and I do get the sense that among some portions of philosophy there's slightly more acceptance. But I am in a program that considers Sartre, Freud & others worth reading that some will scoff at, so there is always a range. Still, I don't think Ayn Rand ever gets as high on a list as someone like Marx, because what she wrote, as far as I've seen, is just not very interesting.

The main point she seems to make is just don't read anything anyone else has written, and trust that your common sense is perfectly rational & objective. This is not just crap, but really anti-philosophy, as the interesting thing about philosophy is navigating how common common sense really is, whether we can even begin to call it objective at all (even if we establish some sort of inter-subjectivity that's not really objectivity yet). Most philosophers do trust their common sense and most philosophers even come around to a way of establishing that this is philosophically supported, but it takes quite a bit of work to navigate the questions, whereas ayn rand doesn't even seem to understand the questions. (tho' that's something Aristotle warns about in his Metaphysics, that philosophy is such an interesting science because it's not just the answers that are difficult, but even properly understanding the questions is a hurdle)

To me, this seems unscholarly; if an idea, however wrongheaded, is worthy of condemnation — even if only because it has too many adherents — it seems to me that its critics owe it a serious (if unsympathetic) response. There are a number of prominent figures in philosophy who held very silly ideas; the particular disdain for Rand carries some rather unpleasant undertones of class hostility.

I think any hostility you've sensed could simply be attributed to the fact that she did not seriously study the field to which she was supposedly attempting to contribute, and it annoys some people that she imagined herself, or some of her followers imagine her, an equal contributer, when she seems to have very little conception of many basic ideas in philosophy. Why is she considered an expert when she doesn't even understand the question she thinks she's answering? It is just irritating to people who spend seven years actually working through the ideas that someone will say, oh, this science fiction writer figured that one out... in hard science you can see more clearly when someone hasn't got a clue, but in something like philosophy, lodged between the arts and the sciences, it's partly a matter a taste.
posted by mdn at 10:40 AM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing. Philosophers have been refuting Rand's claims and philosophies for fifty years. We're done with it already. Philosophers arguing against Rand is like scientists arguing against Creationism- the arguments are old and there's no new arguments to make, but goddamn if another hundred rubes don't show up every day who haven't heard them yet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:56 AM on July 15, 2007 [5 favorites]


I find it interesting that a Randian would complain about the resolution of a problem via conflict. I mean, isn't that pretty much her whole shtick? If you can force others to do things your way, good on you.

No, that isn't her schtick at all. In fact, force in various guises is Rand's cardinal sin. If you force others to walk your way, instead of allowing them their liberty as rational decision-makers, you're taking away the wellspring of all human rights, personal choice.

Now, there are many colors of force in this world, and a lot of Objectivists do ironically turn a blind eye to important examples of force like monopolies. But these inevitable Mefi pileons that occur every time the words Objectivism or Libertarianism are uttered strike me as deliberately obtuse. The last seven years of history alone should have demonstrated quite plainly why anyone, left or right, should vigilantly distrust the motivations of government, and should have a deathgrip every civil liberty, no matter how small.

You're better off giving your money voluntarily to the Salvation Army than giving it involuntarily to the US Army, and that's an argument that's not going to go away no matter how much you mock the Randroids. A government full of your favorite Democrats is still, if history is to be believed, going to spend your money on drug wars, real wars, censorship campaigns, copyright extensions, covert ops, and handouts to AMD and Pfizer. How much of the power you invest in the state is really going towards things you think will better this country? Why not invest your own money and labor where you think it belongs, instead of trusting a politician to do it for you?

You can plug your ears and scream "selfish prick!" all you want, but I'm not in this to buy myself a yacht. I'm in it so I don't have to buy battleships.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:33 AM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


The last seven years of history alone should have demonstrated quite plainly why anyone, left or right, should vigilantly distrust the motivations of government, and should have a deathgrip every civil liberty, no matter how small.

7 out of 10 libertarians voted for Bush Jr. the first time. 6 out of 10 the second time. The last seven years were a libertarian-supported reaction against government programs in favor of privatization.
posted by Brian B. at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2007


7 out of 10 libertarians voted for Bush Jr. the first time.

Funny, Brian. I would have thought they'd have voted for Browne and Badnarik, since those were their fucking party nominees. But I guess your definition of Libertarian is anything you want it to be.

The last seven years were a libertarian-supported reaction against government programs in favor of privatization.

That's the funniest thing I've read all day. That's like blaming Nader for losing the election for Gore, and saying that the last seven years were a Green Party-supported Environmentalist tyrrany.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2007


Brian B., I cannot let you get away with such unsupported assertions. It undermines and cheapens the debate, and I will not rest until you provide some evidence that there are 7 libertarians in America.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


kid ichorous: I'll take a swing at this.

1) Your statements massively annoy me, as do all the Libertarian/Ryndite statements because they (and you) deliberately and compulsively ignore the fact that freedom can be restricted just as easily (if not more easily) by corporations and other non-government organizations as they can by the government. Yet "the State" remains your perinnial, and indeed only, hobgoblin. All other groups are exempt from Libertarian/Ryndite demonization, if pressed you people will concede that perhaps, maybe, occasionally, non-government agencies have behaved badly, but this admission is usually followed up with a strained bit of rhetoric maintaining that if it weren't for those evil government regulations all the non-government agencies would be perfectly nice and kind.

Taxation is theft, you shriek, obstinantly ignoring both the reality of taxation [1] and the genuine theft by corporation to which people are subjected to every day. The State is evil, you say, but ignore the evils committed by non-government agencies. Until and unless you and yours can honestly address the problems caused by non-governmental agencies, and remove some of the hystaria in your discussion of the problems caused by governmental agencies, you aren't worth listening to.

2) Libertarians *talk* a good game of civil rights, but as near as I can tell the only right they actually care about is the right to bear arms. I've never yet seen a Libertarian actually doing anything to further the cause of any other rights. I have participated in events and organizations dedicated to extending civil rights to various groups currently denied full civil rights and I have not met one single Ryndite/Libertarian doing the same; yet every pro-gun rally I've seen inevitably features a slew of Libertarian/Ryndites. That's anecdotal, of course, but it does seem somewhat telling.

3) Force is, in fact, the basis of Rynd's rantings. Libertarians like to froth at the mouth about "men with guns" (always of course agents of the dread and evil State, somehow their own possession of firearms does not make *them* "men with guns") being the bad thing about governments, and yet again completely ignore the fact that in their own ideal society "men with guns" would enforce contracts. Yes, they talk about not initiating force, but after reading various Libertarian/Ryndite writings on the subject of retaliation it would appear that they've redefined the word so that "retaliation" means any force used by Libertarians/Ryndites for any reason, while "initiating force" means any force used by non-Libertarians/Ryndites.

4) Its anecdotal, but I personally know three Libertarian/Ryndite types who voted for Bush jr both times.

5) You wrote "but I'm not in this to buy myself a yacht. I'm in it so I don't have to buy battleships." Which demonstrates pretty conclusively that just like Communism, Ryndism is a Utopian philosophy. That is, it simply won't work with people as they actually exist, but requires idealized, perfeted, people. Sorry chum, but if your ideal depends on people changing to match your expectations of how they should behave, you're pretty much screwed from the get go. Worse, people with that sort of philosophy, on the few occasions when they've gained power, have produced some of the worst bloodbaths in history. No thanks.

[1] Hint: It isn't actually theft.
posted by sotonohito at 12:32 PM on July 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


In the past, our research shows, most libertarians voted Republican—72 percent for George W. Bush in 2000, for instance, with only 20 percent for Al Gore, and 70 percent for Republican congressional candidates in 2002. But in 2004, presumably turned off by war, wiretapping, and welfare-state spending sprees, they shifted sharply toward the Democrats. John F. Kerry got 38 percent of the libertarian vote. That was a dramatic swing that Republican strategists should have noticed. But somehow the libertarian vote has remained hidden in plain sight.
posted by Brian B. at 12:48 PM on July 15, 2007


Brian B., I cannot let you get away with such unsupported assertions. It undermines and cheapens the debate, and I will not rest until you provide some evidence that there are 7 libertarians in America.

You have a point there, because purity is an issue for them, and there is always the assumption that it is impossible.
posted by Brian B. at 12:50 PM on July 15, 2007


That's the funniest thing I've read all day. That's like blaming Nader for losing the election for Gore, and saying that the last seven years were a Green Party-supported Environmentalist tyrrany.

The last part is nonsensical. The first part is accurate. We have non-monotonic simple plurality voting system (with a spoiler effect), that requires winnowing to two parties in order to work. This results in unsound elections. Everytime one side gets large enough, it naturally splits into two factions, but the election won't allow this by the numbers, so then the split fails the whole, and this method repeats itself over and over, preserving a two-party tyranny.
posted by Brian B. at 1:06 PM on July 15, 2007


Obligatory Bob the Angry Flower Refutation of Objectivism
posted by Hactar at 1:13 PM on July 15, 2007


Obligatory Bob the Angry Flower Refutation of Objectivism

The issue of how the people in Galt's Gulch feed themselves is actually addressed in Atlas Shrugged. It's a ridiculous bit of handwaving about new super-efficient means of production (similar to Galt's magical motor), but it's there.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:02 PM on July 15, 2007


Sotonohito, I never identified myself as an Objectivist (philosophically or otherwise), nor claimed government to be the sole scourge of this world. We've all read Hobbes, okay? Yes, we need a government, and yes, your personal liberties are also encroached upon by private agents. Yes, we need to compromise on some liberties in order to secure them for all. Happy now? I don't think I've met anyone, except self-professed Anarchists, who'd say otherwise, or lay claim to all the far-fetched "Libertarians drive like this" archetypes peddled in this thread.

The purpose of my comment was:

1. To address the misconception that the conventional "might makes right" is somehow the basis of Rand's philosophies.

2. To argue that - no matter what else you may think of it - Libertarianism regards government with a vigilance and a scrutiny that's not only fallen out of vogue on the left and especially the right (both, by turns, hate the ACLU), but is also more important now than ever.

That's all. Unless it's due to those two points above, I'm guessing that whatever "massive annoyance" you're experiencing is a byproduct of your own negative personal experiences and negative assumptions. It sounds like you've met some noxious Libertarians or Objectivists in the past, and for that I'm sorry. But I'd rather you didn't just joust against their disembodied arguments, or impute them to me, when we talk.

You wrote "but I'm not in this to buy myself a yacht. I'm in it so I don't have to buy battleships." Which demonstrates pretty conclusively that just like Communism, Ryndism is a Utopian philosophy. That is, it simply won't work with people as they actually exist, but requires idealized, perfected, people.

But you might as well call our Representative Democracy Utopian, in that it presumes an enlightened, literate electorate, a free marketplace of ideas, and a government that can sever itself from church influence. People in the eighteenth century thought this configuration was impossibly naive, and while a glance at things today might nearly prove them right, I still have enough faith in human beings to govern themselves.

But really, the crux of my comment was, I think, very realistic. That whatever the stated goals of a government or party, when it grows unchecked, its tendency is towards consolidated power and wealth, secrecy, and war.

So, by that same miracle of choice by which I don't have to buy diamonds from Sierra Leone (or anywhere else), the same way I'm free not to give my blessing or my money to a Microsoft or a Walmart, I don't want to pay for this war. Nor do I think you should have to, if you don't want to. I think the government would be far more accountable to us if the public had more direct control over the purse. Why is that so obscene?
posted by kid ichorous at 2:59 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've always thought of objectivists as socialists than don't want to pay taxes. Both ideologies gives you a free card away from collective responsibility while (somewhat) promoting entrepreneurship and personal freedom.

Can someone please explain why this is wrong because it just sounds too simple...
posted by uandt at 3:14 PM on July 15, 2007


I think the government would be far more accountable to us if the public had more direct control over the purse. Why is that so obscene?

I don't know if it's obscene, but the "public" is, at this point in time, stupid, easily swayed by false arguments that engage fear rather than actual thought or analysis, and generally unable to get more than about 50% of itself to the voting booth (and that's in a presidential election year). California voters have lots of power over the purse - via the initiative system - and we consistently make unbelievably boneheaded decisions that are largely informed by 30-second TV ads paid for by the corporations that have an interest in the outcome.

I don't know where you would find this "public" that would make good budgetary decisions, but it ain't in the U.S. in this portion of the 21st century.
posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on July 15, 2007


The biggest thing that annoys me about Objectivists is that hypocracy is built into their philosophy. I noticed a couple of you in the thread noting times that objectivists have done one thing and then bitched when virtually the exact same thing happened to them.

This is pretty much part of their education.

I can cite one very obvious example from Atlas Shrugged, although not down to the page since it's been awhile since I read it.

But remember when Francisco screwed over the investors? He made a lot of horrible investiments and in doing so led to their doom anyone who followed him in the investing just by making the "mistake" of assuming he's acting in his own rational self-interest.

But then later on, when Hank is being attacked by the media, what happens? They complain about the newspaper running stories about "a major industry worker" doing horrible things directly across from stories about Rearden, and it's terrible and awful that the papers would manipulate people this way.

BOTH ploys are hinged on trying to use people's associative tendencies against them. Both are fundamentally the same. I would argue that what Francisco does is WORSE, from a Randian perspective, because those that followed him do so, as I said, because they assumed he was acting in his own best interest. (when he was actually intentionally ruining himself for no clear reason)

When he does that, its "Ha Ha, look how stupid the hangers-on are!" But when the paper does it, suddenly it's evil and horrible to manipulate people with concealed lies.

Because fundamentally, built into Objectivism is the idea that an idea can be *objectively* RIGHT. And an outcome can also be RIGHT. The ends really CAN justify the means. So it's perfectly acceptible to do a bad thing if (you believe) the outcome will be good enough.

This thread of hypocracy runs all through Atlas Shrugged and is, I believe, what really unravels it intellectually. Fundamentally, if you are deemed by Rand to be a Good Person, you can do no wrong - and if you are a Bad Person, you can do no right.
posted by InnocentBystander at 5:29 PM on July 15, 2007


Cult. More dangerous than Scientology, Operates a pretty nifty school for tots.
posted by Yakuman at 6:54 PM on July 15, 2007


We've all read Hobbes, okay?

Hobbes was wrong in most every way it is possible to be wrong, a feat accomplished by making unsupportable assumptions about the state of nature.

Said unsupportable assumptions including that the state of nature exists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:02 PM on July 15, 2007


I've always thought of objectivists as socialists than don't want to pay taxes. Both ideologies gives you a free card away from collective responsibility while (somewhat) promoting entrepreneurship and personal freedom.

What are you talking about? The theoretical underpinnings of socialists and Randian capitalists are utterly opposed to one another.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:04 PM on July 15, 2007


What are you talking about? The theoretical underpinnings of socialists and Randian capitalists are utterly opposed to one another.

In their axioms, this is certainly true. Yet Randians and socialists share the sense that interactions with one's neighbors should always be mediated: through self-interest or through coercion, but it's always the State and Capital that takes care of things, it's never just you and me talking things out. That's why the majority of realistic political theorizing happens within the liberal-republican framework, where we are all basically trying to live together and build institutions that don't suck, and we're mostly just arguing about what should be off-limits (as rights) to those institutions.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:12 PM on July 15, 2007


PS- Hobbes' state of nature does exist: go to the aforementioned Sudan or some parts of Iraq and you'll see it in action.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:13 PM on July 15, 2007


Of course both socialists and Randians believe you and I can just talk things out. The state (for Randians and non-libertarian socialists) exists are a mediator that we can go to when we are incapable of working things out between ourselves.

That's why the majority of realistic political theorizing happens within the liberal-republican framework, where we are all basically trying to live together and build institutions that don't suck, and we're mostly just arguing about what should be off-limits (as rights) to those institutions.

It's also the framework necessary for the style of capitalism that America currently fits in.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:15 PM on July 15, 2007


PS- Hobbes' state of nature does exist: go to the aforementioned Sudan or some parts of Iraq and you'll see it in action.

Nonsense. The state of nature is Hobbes' fantasy of anarchy. Sudan and Iraq are the sites of power struggles between competing authorities.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:16 PM on July 15, 2007


PG, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to make of that remark. I brought up Hobbes to ward off the suggestion that I think government is utterly evil, that all taxation is equal to theft, or that life without some form of either is feasible, none of which were pronouncements I actually made. I'm sorry I alluded to a book that most people would recognize from high school and not to a fancy postmodern treatise, but I didn't realize this was that sort of dinner party.

InnocentBystander, there are some great examples of that in Rand's Anthem. I'm not sure how her typewriter didn't spasm to death with the contradictions in that one.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:47 PM on July 15, 2007


I, too, can't read the article -- does it explain why in the world a bunch of Ayn Rand nuts are trying to support professors working in public universities like Texas State?

Let me repeat that for emphasis: public, state-supported universities?
posted by spiderwire at 9:25 PM on July 15, 2007


I think everyone should read Atlas Shrugged. I, for one, am sick of people who have just read The Fountainhead and think that Rand is all about freedom, art, nonconformity, and rough sex.

Atlas Shrugged is where we finally see all the cards. I just love it when the glorious, sexy heroine guns down the innocent security guard, and then leaves her working-class, not-a-genius childhood friend to die in the desert, when she could have saved his life easily.

You cold as ice, Ayn, you cold as ice!
posted by ELF Radio at 9:34 PM on July 15, 2007


I think everyone should read Atlas Shrugged.

you hate people, don't you?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:45 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


PG- Fair enough on the Hobbes point: like Rousseau, his state of nature requires solitude and sparse populations. Locke would call the current situation in those two countries a state of nature, reasoning that the breakdown of the rule of law renders all authority into its constituent violence and dissolves the social contract. But by the time Locke has taken hold of the trope, it's already pretty figurative... not at all a claim rooted in history.

a mediator that we can go to when we are incapable of working things out between ourselves

Whether we like it or not, the state stopped being laissez-faire and waiting for us to approach it about the time of Machiavelli. Since then, governments have been remarkably intrusive through what we now call their 'police power': their interest in the health, safety, welfare, and morals of their populations. The socialists with whom I've made acquaintance are so untroubled by the administrative state that they prefer bureaucracy to democracy, which is generally messy and unpredictable (see above comments about stupid electorates.)

I'm with Arendt on this one. Bureaucracy is the rule of No Man: juridico-sovereignty enforces rules that No One is responsible for making, while claiming to know more about our welfare than we do ourselves. Foucault took the same line. I'd rather participate in my own governance with my neighbors than leave it to the nameless, faceless 'experts,' even if I'm more likely to get my way from the experts.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:45 PM on July 15, 2007


Foucault took the same line. I'd rather participate in my own governance with my neighbors than leave it to the nameless, faceless 'experts,' even if I'm more likely to get my way from the experts.

I know that I always nitpick about Foucault whenever he comes up, but I don't think that's exactly the "line" he took -- the notion of governmentality suggests that all citizens are active subjects and objects of governance at the same time, not simply "micropolitics are good, bureaucracy/biopower/disciplinary tactics/panoptics are bad." The concept is at the same time richer yet much less prescriptive than what you seem to be describing.
posted by spiderwire at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2007


Whether we like it or not, the state stopped being laissez-faire and waiting for us to approach it about the time of Machiavelli. Since then, governments have been remarkably intrusive through what we now call their 'police power': their interest in the health, safety, welfare, and morals of their populations.

What, seriously? Government has never that way. The notion that government(s) was/were better in the past is a myth, and a dangerous one besides. Governments have always been like that.

I'd rather participate in my own governance with my neighbors than leave it to the nameless, faceless 'experts,' even if I'm more likely to get my way from the experts.

As long as we live under a liberal-republican capitalist system, it ain't gonna happen.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:20 PM on July 15, 2007


kid ichorous: You are correct, I've recently been exposed to a couple of rather obnoxious Ryndites. However, while it is true that you never wrote "I am an Objectivist" I do think that you are being somewhat disingenuous if you claim not to support their philosophy while writing things such as "You're better off giving your money voluntarily to the Salvation Army than giving it involuntarily to the US Army, and that's an argument that's not going to go away no matter how much you mock the Randroids." But, disingenuous or not, I won't say you are an Objectivist if you claim otherwise.

"To address the misconception that the conventional "might makes right" is somehow the basis of Rand's philosophies."

I still maintain that this is not a misconception. "Might", in this context, is not necessarially refering to physical strength but rather to any power differential (financial, intellectual, etc). And Rynd does, often, blatently, and obnoxiously, make the claim that it is perfctly right and proper for those with more power (of whatever sort) to use it to screw over those with less power. Every single one of her (cardboard, poorly written) characters exists as a vehicle for that message, either as heroes the reader is supposed to empathize with, or victims the reader is supposed to sneer at.

The only might that Rynd actually opposes is (surprise) the horrible, evil, always demonized, State.

"To argue that - no matter what else you may think of it - Libertarianism regards government with a vigilance and a scrutiny that's not only fallen out of vogue on the left and especially the right (both, by turns, hate the ACLU), but is also more important now than ever."

I think that this is also incorrect. While it is true that it has never been fashionable on the left to demonize the government, a desire for transparency and citizen oversight has always been a halmark of liberals. The right, I will agree, fell away from its "the government is evil" line of crap when they controlled all three branches, but now that their (deliberate?) mismanagement has resulted in their loss of control of one branch we seem to have returned to the standard "the government is evil" line of crap from the right.

Your statement regarding the ACLU is nonsensical. The right in the US has, so far as I'm aware, never held the ACLU in anything but contempt and hatred. The left, OTOH, has never dispised the ACLU and even regards their defense of individuals and groups which they oppose (ie: the KKK, etc) as a necessary evil.

"But you might as well call our Representative Democracy Utopian, in that it presumes an enlightened, literate electorate, a free marketplace of ideas, and a government that can sever itself from church influence. People in the eighteenth century thought this configuration was impossibly naive, and while a glance at things today might nearly prove them right, I still have enough faith in human beings to govern themselves."

Not at all. The US government is based on a careful balance of powers and (more important by far) a system which requires both effort over a long period of time and by a supermajority of the people to alter the basic shape of the government and to change or restrict certain basic freedoms.

Far from being Utopian the US Constitution is quite realistic. Indeed, the Constitution as originally drafted expressed an even greater mistrust of the ability of the average citizen than the current version does (recall that originally Senators were not directly elected, and that universal sufferage (even for men) was not mandated).

"I think the government would be far more accountable to us if the public had more direct control over the purse. Why is that so obscene?"

It isn't, and as it happens I agree with your basic premise that increased public participation in setting the budget would be a good thing. I was describing the overall philosophy of Rynd and all the Free Market fundamentalists as Utopian (which it is).
posted by sotonohito at 4:33 AM on July 16, 2007


not simply "micropolitics are good, bureaucracy/biopower/disciplinary tactics/panoptics are bad."

Sigh. Foucault is another one of these authors for whom the orthodoxy can sometimes be troublingly narrow-minded. I've sat through two different dissertation defenses where parsing out the prescriptive elements of Foucault's work has taken up the ENTIRE DISCUSSION. There's clearly more than one reasonable reading of his work. My intention was simply to align Foucault's analysis with Arendt's. The sentence about Foucault taking the same line referred only to the description: he separates sovereignty from governmentality just as I described, and even traces the origins of governmentality back to Machiavelli as I did.

My prescriptions are generally more Arendt than Foucault, of course, since I always focus on her idea of the ward system. Still, I think Foucault approved of those tactics. He resisted the equation of medical and legal power rather than simply charting the development of that resistance, which is all that really matters for the purposes of our disagreement. As a scholar, Foucault rarely took sides in the historical development of the institutions and ideas he genealogized, but as an activist he was pretty adamantly resistant to the development of biopolitical administrative power, and participated in small-scale organization and study groups when he could, while decrying their orthodoxy and calcification when given they became too institutional themselves.

Governments have always been like that.

I don't think so. I believe that most of the intrusive power was reserved for the clergy, who came at the problem differently than a state. Machiavelli's recommendation to unite Italy against the Church was a move to usurp the Church's pastoral care of it's 'flock.' And thus the modern state was born. This is literallty true: prior to Machiavelli, we would have called it the 'republic,' the res publica or public thing. No one's quite sure where the name etat, state, even came from.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:57 AM on July 16, 2007


"You shall know a philosophy by what its adherents do with it.

I really couldn't care less how wonderful, pure, and awesome a philosophy is, or would be if it were carried out perfectly. In a practical sense, if its followers seem to magically correlate with jackassery, that's all I need to know. That and "The Night of January 16th" has to be one of the worst plays through which I've ever sat."

I can't argue with "The Night of January 16th" but the rest of this is wrongheaded. Philosophy is not something to be carried out, that's policy. And several philosophers of substantial merit have had adherents promoting various ugly and malicious agendas. Examples: Plato, Hegel and Nietzsche.

-----

There is no reason for any serious scholar in philosophy to focus on Ayn Rand. She may be of some interest to a cultural historian but that's about it. The economic principles that most Libertarians subscribe to are better articulated by a host of scholars with more nuanced views: Mises, Hayek, Friedman and Sowell. These writers participate in dialogue. Ayn Rand is too shrill a voice, she dictates. Her lack of humor and nuance fits right in here.

To philosophy scholars there just isn't much there. In philosophy you have to acknowledge that the field has attracted some pretty bright minds over the last 2500 years or so, and some of them might just be as smart as you. Maybe even smarter. I'm no worshiper of tradition either, but her dismissal of the works of other is laughable. Especially so when she puts across a doctrine that "tells it the way it is". If reality could be so neatly summed up in a set of propositions then why did it take so long? That's not an argument but it makes me a bit suspicious, to put it mildly. It reminds me of Pirsig and his "Metaphysics of Quality". Another self pronounced philosopher whose followers wonder why he isn't taken seriously by the academy.

There is something to the charge of her view of the world being utopian but I phrase it more in terms of her ignoring tragedy. There is no acknowledgment of there being terrible unbridgeable tensions in the world. Just the opposite, if we do it right, it will all get worked out. While my politics lean pretty heavy towards the libertarian there isn't anything in Ayn Rand that attracts me and it's been a bit of a mystery why she has so many fans. I suspect it comes down to libertarians overemphasizing principle. Many of the principles that underlie the libertarian political agenda are sound and prudent. But to think they are absolutes and that THE cohesive understanding of the world and the individual flow from them is naive. There are arguments out there for holding American soldiers criminally responsible for any outrages that Iraqi citizens may have suffered because they willingly joined an organization that "initiated force" or that there should be no restrictions on immigration because it impedes the liberty of those who wish to emigrate. There are no considerations of pragmatism. Nuance and contingency play a large role as well, and many libertarians are too invested in keeping their principles 'pure'. From what I've seen the Objectivists are the most dogmatic of the bunch.
posted by BigSky at 7:11 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I believe that most of the intrusive power was reserved for the clergy, who came at the problem differently than a state.

Absurd. The Roman Era and the Dark Ages provide ample examples of brutally repressive states, and your attempt to separate the clergy from the state is laughable. The church's power was so pervasive and so near absolute that suggesting it was not its own state is a dogmatic assertion regarding what a state is. The church had its own laws, collected its own taxes, and had its own military. It was a state that happened to share power with a series of regional states.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:08 AM on July 16, 2007


what the holy fuck. as a reformed randian with a measure of respect for her ideas i have to chime in. Some of you people are are waving your torches at not just straw men, but the very straw men Rand raised.

"I mean, isn't that pretty much her whole shtick? If you can force others to do things your way, good on you. If you can't then your way of doing things must not be very good."
No, their whole shtick was that force was only for response. You can't initiate force.

Also, in economics, they didn't believe in the use of law (force) but rather incentive and appealing to selfishness. "I will convince you to do what I want because it is also what you want"


"According to Rand Logic , you owe me a part of your income and I am better then you."

The second part may be spot on, but the former is dead.fucking.wrong. So wrong that i full-stopped when I read it. Where are you getting these silly ideas??



Im not saying her philosophy isn't full of truck sized holes (and it is) but at least crucify her for her beliefs, not the ideas you've conjured in your frenzied mob mentality. I shudder to imagine what I might find if i read the rest of these comments.
posted by nihlton at 11:27 AM on July 16, 2007


Pope Guilty- Repression? Sure, but as an Empire, Rome didn't care about its citizen's souls, only about their arms. The moment they try to mix the temporal power with the religious power, BOOM, sacked by the Visigoths. And though the Vatican was a contender for sovereignty insofar as it taxed the nobles of other nations, hired mercenaries, and fought wars, it couldn't manage this for long without losing its status as Catholic and universal. Since it lacked its own territory and its own people, the Church couldn't enter the nation-state phase as a real equal with the European states. (Unless you think the Holy Roman Empire counts, which I don't.)

I don't mean to reify state power, but I do mean to suggest that the modern nation-state only becomes possible when the King's sovereign power becomes mixed with stolen elements of the clergy's power over souls to create the police power: health, safety, welfare, and morals become the domain of the state, where previously it had concerned itself with the territory, keeping it inviolable from incursion and causing it to grow through conquest.

Anyway, it's a nice story. I'm mostly cribbing from Foucault and Sheldon Wolin at this point. Agamben has done some work on Roman jurisprudence that seems to suggest that some of these issues troubled even the pre-Catholic Romans, but he also points out that the administrative apparatus necessary to enforce power over life was virtually non-existent.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:49 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


anotherpanacea: I wasn't going to jump into your thread, mainly becuause I've never read Foucault or any of the others, but my historian impulses have been triggered.

I can't speak for Europe, because there my knowledge is strictly layman level. However, as far as East Asia is concerned your thesis is incorrect. While it is true that generally speaking the various East Asian polities are not considered to have been nation states in the Western sense of the word until some time after the mid 1800's, to argue that they did not interfere in the daily lives of their citizens (have the clergy's power in your terminology) is simply incorrect.

Rulers in China and Japan, just as a minor example, mandated dress codes, hair styles, and whatnot from the earliest records available. Similary one of the primary duties of the early Chinese government was the establishment of a series of dykes and levees to prevent flooding (which would seem to include health, safety, and welfare all in one big earthen package); historically one of the major signs of a declining Chinese dynasty was an increase in reports of flooding.

Though I'm not an exepert on European history by any means, it seems fairly absurd to assert that the pre-machivelli governments did not interfere in the daily lives of their subjects. Indeed, most of them were formulated on the idea that both the nation itself and the people living in that nation were, to one degree or another, the property of the ruler.
posted by sotonohito at 12:49 PM on July 16, 2007


"I really couldn't care less how wonderful, pure, and awesome a philosophy is, or would be if it were carried out perfectly. In a practical sense, if its followers seem to magically correlate with jackassery, that's all I need to know."

*cough* great leap forward *cough*

also, the loudest socialists i know are conveniently unemployed. huh.

No matter what side of the argument you are on, you always find people on your side that you wish were on the other. - Jascha Heifetz
posted by nihlton at 1:57 PM on July 16, 2007


sotonhito: My ignorance about China is stunning. The occidental tendencies of philosophy are really quite troubling, but I'll be damned if I know how to correct them at this point. We always seem to slip into orientalism in the bad sense, turning the East into a twisted mirror or a shining utopia. It's quite hard to see it as it is. Any recommendations for good Asian political theory? I'm not talking about Lao-tzu here, but something a bit more historically minded.

it seems fairly absurd to assert that the pre-machivelli governments did not interfere in the daily lives of their subjects.

Sure they did, and capriciously. But their rule was diffuse, faded quickly away from the (then-small) cities, and they were generally content to allow peasants to be peasants. They might kill you for looking at them funny, but they didn't expect the average peasant to sit still and be quiet, to moderate their appetites (sexual or otherwise), or to maintain mental or physical hygiene. That was either the province of the Church or not of interest.

formulated on the idea that both the nation itself and the people living in that nation were...the property of the ruler

The twelfth century European ruler would have been significantly more concerned with the territory than the people. By a large margin. The main political theoretic innovation of the modern age has been the principle that people, not land, are the source of wealth and power. Your dam/flood description is pretty far from the modern police power: think of the power to regulate contracts and family life claimed by the states in Lochner v. New York and Griswold v. Connecticut. The western juridical 'police power' has no limits but those placed upon it by the US Constitution, and those are (quite literally) open to interpretation.

It strikes me that we've become so embroiled in the pervasive forms of regulation that we experience in our daily lives that we've forgotten how easy it once was to fall off the map. Forget pirates living in autonomous zones in the Carribean: once upon a time, you could pick up and move to a new city and start completely from scratch, regardless of whether you were fleeing a horrible crime or an abusive husband. The state and agencies that have easy access to state power know more about us and regulate us as they never have before. I'm not talking about conspiracy theories here, but simply that my finances, my mental health, my sexuality, my drug use, my exercise regime, my diet, and my relationships are subject to the scrutiny of actors who can easily invoke the state if I'm considered abnormal.

I think there are reasons to worry about the administrative state, and I think that those on the 'left' should balance their desires for equality with a commitment to freedom, understood as non-domination. The New Deal administrative state has been amazingly successful in producing wealth and security, but it's also expanded the powers and sway of the state at a time when inequities in the distribution of wealth, power, and knowledge reduce our capacity to steer its policies. "Who watches the watchmen?" becomes "Who understands the experts?"
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:03 PM on July 16, 2007


ps- it ain't my thread. We're already derailing by having this conversation at all. But who wants to talk about the plight of solipsists feeling lonely?
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:04 PM on July 16, 2007


"Hobbes was wrong in most every way it is possible to be wrong, a feat accomplished by making unsupportable assumptions about the state of nature."

Dude, have you even read Hobbes? His conclusions might be wrong, and his theology might be suspect, but ultimately he was exactly right considering the positivism of law and the effective motivations of people in any system of governance. If you want to see a state of nature, check out Somalia. And the only real implication of the state of nature was that it's worse to die than to live, and thus the state can mandate anything short of death (which even that the state can demand, but it can't ever expect someone to submit to it).

I don't believe that Hobbes was ultimately right about a lot of things, but to pretend that he wasn't a deep or interesting thinker is to reveal yourself to be either facile or ignorant. He's well out of Rand's league, and might have been the most interesting liberal thinker ever (and yes, I said liberal).
posted by klangklangston at 3:14 PM on July 16, 2007


(ps. It's OK— it's my dad's thread, and he's off at a conference this week...)
posted by klangklangston at 3:16 PM on July 16, 2007


anotherpanacea: I'm a Japan specialist (Meiji era, roughly 1860-1920), but since China is the 800 pound gorilla of East Asian history you can't really avoid studying it. Still, since my focus is modern Japan most of what I know about China is also from the 1800's on. I know enough to feel confident in what I said earlier, but not much beyond that. All of which means that I'm not really in a position to recommend books on pre-1800's Chinese politics, sorry.

For more modern stuff you might try Chinese Democracy by Andrew J. Nathan. Personally, I disagree with his conclusions, and I find a couple of his premises doubtful at best, but he provides an excellent overview of the various democracy movements since the early 1900's, and even goes into the early days of Republican China. There's nothing wrong with his facts, just his conclusions.

As for avoiding Orientalism in general, the only real solution I've found is simply to study more. Orientalism, by its very nature, is simply faulty thinking produced by ignorance; in my experience the more you know about East Asia the less you find yourself falling into that particular trap.

Back, sort of, on topic, you wrote: "But their rule was diffuse, faded quickly away from the (then-small) cities, and they were generally content to allow peasants to be peasants. They might kill you for looking at them funny, but they didn't expect the average peasant to sit still and be quiet, to moderate their appetites (sexual or otherwise), or to maintain mental or physical hygiene."

Partially I'd argue that's more a matter of available techology and resources than desire. Furthermore, it also depends on how far back one is willing to go. The Roman Republic most certainly did feel compelled to tell people to maintain physical hygiene, and to spend tax dollars on public health projects (sewers, baths, etc).

I'd also argue that since, in Europe and the Americas, the church and the state were essentially one entity prior to the American Revolution, its incorrect to argue that since some things were handled by the church it meant those things weren't handled by the government. Why should the (official) government have spent resources performing a redundant task? The (tax supported) church was already doing a good job of keeping the peasants in line. The state supported church policy by force of arms, which would seem to make church policy state policy (and vice versa) from my POV.
posted by sotonohito at 3:43 PM on July 16, 2007


anotherpanacea - Well put. Aligning Foucault and Arendt is appropriate in my opinion as well.

ps- it ain't my thread. We're already derailing by having this conversation at all. But who wants to talk about the plight of solipsists feeling lonely?

Derailing any thread about Objectivists and Randians is poetic justice in many senses of the word -- since they seem to be able to bring up their asinine politics in relation to anything, I think I should be able to bring up just about anything in relation to their politics.

(Also -- derailing? Get it? Eh? Eh?)
posted by spiderwire at 5:28 PM on July 16, 2007


I don't believe that Hobbes was ultimately right about a lot of things, but to pretend that he wasn't a deep or interesting thinker is to reveal yourself to be either facile or ignorant.

I didn't say he wasn't deep or interesting- he's both. He's got his premises and he works from them systematically. His premises, however, are so nearly completely wrong that his conclusions cannot be taken to refer to reality. I mean, hell, take:

it's worse to die than to live

You can't possibly expect me to accept such a premise.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:42 PM on July 16, 2007


Mine, mine, mine, all Ayn Randians are selfish pigs, and the youth who are taken in are so naive, and selfish.
posted by caddis at 7:56 PM on July 16, 2007


also, the loudest socialists i know are conveniently unemployed. huh.

The only socialist I know is a thriving entrepreneur, whose business probably nets him well into six figures annually.

Small sample sizes, huh.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:52 PM on July 16, 2007


The only socialist I know is a thriving entrepreneur, whose business probably nets him well into six figures annually.

Can I have his stuff?
posted by spiderwire at 10:47 PM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


it's worse to die than to live

You can't possibly expect me to accept such a premise.


but Hobbes doesn't even start from such a simple premise. He makes the case that it's worse to live in fear & brutality than in order & civility. His argument is that without an artificial structure, the state of nature deteriorates into, essentially, a state of war.

Rousseau's and Hobbes' states of nature needn't be at odds, necessarily - they can be different points in time, different points in economy, different levels of abundance. The only thing that matters is that if Hobbes' state is ever to come about, if power left unchecked is ever to lead to those lives "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish & short" when resources are scarce or what have you (which I think is utterly indisputable, & would love to hear from those of you suggesting he's "wrong about everything" how this would not happen...) then we need some sort of system of governance or oversight so that the whole group can keep track of the few greedy bastards & so forth. It's pretty straightforward, really, but well written & systematically detailed.
posted by mdn at 2:37 AM on July 17, 2007


ps- it ain't my thread. We're already derailing by having this conversation at all. But who wants to talk about the plight of solipsists feeling lonely?

Derailing any thread about Objectivists and Randians is poetic justice in many senses of the word -- since they seem to be able to bring up their asinine politics in relation to anything, I think I should be able to bring up just about anything in relation to their politics.

(Also -- derailing? Get it? Eh? Eh?)
posted by spiderwire


Once I posted the thread, I consider that ownership passes to the members of MeFi--I would consider the thread derailed if people were talking about something completely unrelated to any of the possible topics. But if that's the path it took, I could feel no personal violation, it's just the way the conversation turns.

I started this thread because I am in academia and I was a little surprised that fouundation money can buy respectability. I would be similar shocked if a creationist organization bought research chairs at UT-Austin or UNC. Props to Texas State San Marcos for rejecting their grant; whether or not there were strings attached, the "philosophy" of the Randians could lead to a rational assumption that they would require quid pro quo.

As far as the prof formerly at Ashland, how does his proposal to flatten Iran fit with the "only force in retaliation" ethos? Or would we be retaliating proactively for perceived transgressions? Since the LBJ era (when I was coming of age) I have always been troubled by the concept of pre-emptive strikes. Not that I wouldn't use one, I'm not that ethically pure, but I wouuld b e troubled.
posted by beelzbubba at 4:28 AM on July 17, 2007


the church and the state were essentially one entity prior to the American Revolution

This is extraordinarily wrong, if for no other reason than that there has never been anything that could justifiably claim to be 'the' church. Even Christianity itself isn't 'one' entity. That's what caused the turmoil of the sixteenth century: the states usurped the Pope's spiritual authority by starting their own churches or backing the protestants and reformers.

Here's how you should think about it: the state had no control of the church, and the church couldn't generally get compliance from the state. This caused a lot of tension. They fought it out, and eventually the state won. The state has slowly found non-theological ways to reassert the Church's moral force for its own purposes, but the state doesn't really have its own purposes, except growth and supremacy. The end.

whether or not there were strings attached... they would require quid pro quo

From what I've seen of philanthropy, this is always the case. It's only a problem if the philanthropists' goals are counter to the receiving institution's goals. In the case of philosophy departments receiving grants from groups requiring ideological purity (Randian, Marxist, or whatever) there's clearly an irreconcilable conflict of interest: criticality rarely finds good company in thought-police.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:40 AM on July 17, 2007


I would be similar shocked if a creationist organization bought research chairs at UT-Austin

A few people have told me that half our philosophy department spends all their time working on God Proofs, but that's just hearsay.
posted by spiderwire at 11:19 AM on July 17, 2007


anotherpanacea re: Church, State, and unity.

I phrased myself poorly. I was trying to say that it seems likely that the average peasant, or for that matter city dwelling craftsman, saw a single Authority of which the Church and State were quasi-seperate arms. It seems reasonable to assume that this POV would, to an extent anyway, affect the mindset of both the clerical and temporal rulers. Which brings me back to my point: why should the state spend any of its own limited resources to duplicate the efforts of the church?

To be sure, there was a power struggle between the agencies, pre-reformation it tended to involve attempts by the temporal authorities to influence or outright control appintments to the Church hiearchy, and vice versa, and post-reformation it tended to involve the spawning of State sponsored Protestant churches.

But, such a power struggle only makes resources more limited than they otherwise might be, and reinforces the desire to stick to one's own sphere of operations. Also, of course, any attempt by either agency to spread beyond its historic sphere of influence is seen as a threat to the other agency's power and it seems likely that great effort would be expended to repell such an incursion.

Which, I suppose is something of your own point: that the state only relatively recently usurped the sphere of the church. But I maintian that despite the competition that it is not unreasonable to agree with the view that there was simply "Authority", and it was represented by two agencies. If later there was a consolidation and this Authority came to be represented by only a single agency, it may be somewhat significant, but hardly a paradigm shift.

I'd argue that the plethora of invasive and pointless laws in the US and elsewhere are little more than remainders of the idea of an Authority that controlls everyone's life. I suspect that the only reason the state took the reigns of moral control and whatnot was because it disliked the fragmented nature of Authority, and saw the siezure of those powers as a means to cripple its long time competitor. Then, of course, it simply became traditional for the state to have such power; or perhaps some people just really like living under Authority.

In the free world, where the state's proper role is that of a servant, it makes little to no sense for the state to was its (our) resources maintaining the shadow of the old Authority, and we are seeing a slow abandoning of those powers. Too slow, and too often opposed by power hungry idiots, but the USA today has fewer intrusive and pointless laws than it once did.
posted by sotonohito at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2007


Just to poke my head back in here, what I've always wondered about Rand is what happened to change her in between The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

I *like* The Fountainhead. (alone of her books) I think it's actually a good novel, with a few dramatic wobbles here and there. (especially the ending) And it's fundamentally an optimistic work. Yes, the world is flawed and there are lots of second-handers running around, but if you are strong and true to yourself, you will achieve a fair measure of success. I would argue the primary trait of Roark above all others is that he ABIDES. His faith in himself is so unshakable that no matter what goes wrong, he just takes his lumps and knows things will work out in the end if he works hard.

And that's a pretty damn good message for a novel. And even if she goes off the deep end in places, it's all in good fun. (and is it wrong that my favorite chapter in the book is the one where we find out Rand believes the actual cause of the avante-garde movement is a bunch of socialists sitting around in a room laughing as they intentionally destroy art?)

Atlas Shrugged, on the other hand, is one of the most mean-spirited, vindictive, and downright repellent books I've ever read. Great chunks of it left me absolutely aghast at how morally repugnant they were. It's like 'Left Behind' for economists. I'm thinking especially of the sequence where she goes car-by-car through the train that's about to derail, describing how every single person on it - children included! - deserved to die. That is fanaticism bordering on downright psychopathy.

And it's the absolute opposite of The Fountianhead in its message. The message of Atlas Shrugged is that a strong, independent man can NOT succeed on his own terms. That society is so evil and corrupt that only by helping to bring about economic armageddon is there any chance for the Good and Strong to flourish. That - fundamentally - if you are not actively working AGAINST the system, you are therefore working for it. (just witness the total screwing over of Eddie at the end of the book - punishment, it seems, for nothing more than not being as strong as Dagny and never recognizing that staying inside the system is EVIL.)

In a way, a rationalist reading of Atlas Shrugged - that is, one where the reader is sane enough to NOT cast himself as Galt, Dagny, Hank or Francisco - is actually downright demoralizing. There's nothing you can do. The machine of the world is going to wind down. You don't have the resources to do what Galt does. All you can do is struggle against an entire world that is against you and, maybe, if you're REALLY lucky, not have your soul sucked out.

Gosh, THAT sure is empowering! Good thing I have this novel to tell me about how everyone who holds me back deserves to be dead.

But this brings me back to my point at the top - what the hell happened to Rand? How, in the space of a decade, could she write one of the most fundamentally inspiring humanist works about the the triumph of the human spirit, and then turn around and write a novel about, basically, the futility of existance in modern life?

It's really amazing.
posted by InnocentBystander at 1:11 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: In the free world, where the state's proper role is that of a servant, it makes little to no sense for the state to waste its (our) resources maintaining the shadow of the old Authority, and we are seeing a slow abandoning of those powers. Too slow, and too often opposed by power hungry idiots, but the USA today has fewer intrusive and pointless laws than it once did.

How would you explain the world's highest per-capita incarceration figures? Why are we spending 40 billion a year building new prisons? Additionally, more lines of legal code are being generated today than in the past, making this a hard assertion to prove.

Even supposing we had fewer intrusive laws codified in writing, the de facto meaning of more incarcerations is more state intrusion (justified, or unjust). I'll leave it to you to decide the question of pointlessness, since there's wide disagreement about the need for drug prohibition.

But I think there will be little disagreement that the government of today, whether or not it scribes more unjust laws, is equipped with more capital and more agencies than ever to enforce them. And all you need is one unjust law, perfectly enforced, to create perfect injustice.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:15 PM on July 17, 2007


kid ichorous I would partially explain the per-capita incarceration figures as being the result of a completely insane "War on Drugs", which should be ended as rapidly as possible. Even if we accept that there is a benefit derived from the so-called War on Drugs I doubt rather seriously that its benefits are worth the cost.

I suspect another part of it is that there are powerful agencies which profit from an increasing prison population. The for-profit prison companies, for example, are pretty much legally required to do everything in their power to insure both that more people go to prison, and that they stay in prison longer. They have a legal obligation to their stockholders to maximize returns. I suspect that there is a strong corelation between the rise of the for-profit prisons and the spread of three strikes laws and minimum sentencing laws.

The number of stupid and intrusive laws is decreasing, this does not mean that people aren't being hauled off to prison at an appaling rate. As you say, it takes just one unjust law being vigorously enforced to produce injustice.

The problem of stupid and intrusive laws and the problem of an insane number of people in prison are related, but they are not mutually dependent.

To take a few examples of intrusive laws that have been removed look at the laws forbidding miscegenation, homosexual intercourse, mandating segregation, the whole slew of "blue laws" [1], etc. More and more the state is being removed from our private lives, the process isn't going nearly as fast as I'd like and it is hardly happening without a struggle, but the trend is towards a legal system that is less intrusive.

As for the huge prison population, it is worth noting that there is a racial aspect to that problem. I will argue that, for whatever reason, we have a legal system which is tuned to produce harsher sentences for black men than it does for other groups. For example, I find it difficult to believe that it is a coincidence that powder cocaine, a drug favored by elite whites, has a lower manditory prison sentence than crack cocaine, which is favored by poor blacks.

As blacks tend to be poor more frequently than whites do it has been suggested that these laws are designed primarially to hurt poor people and it is at least partially coincidential that blacks are harder hit than whites. I'm certainly open to the possibility, but it doesn't change the fact that fully 2/3 of black men will have spent at least some time in prison before they die.

[1] Not yet fully gone, but most are and the rest are pretty obviously on life support.
posted by sotonohito at 2:45 PM on July 17, 2007


I *like* The Fountainhead. (alone of her books)

i've read atlas shrugged and the virtue of selfishness, which being a much shorter and better organized book is probably a better place to learn about her philosophy ... for one thing it doesn't have cardboard characters, long unbearable speeches or set scenes with the fisher price tunnel o' death train set

i thought the fountainhead would be more of the same and therefore haven't bothered ... but i guess i may have misjudged
posted by pyramid termite at 9:20 PM on July 17, 2007


sotonhito- I'm not going to be able to continue this conversation, but I just thought I'd return to say that you're assertion of 'Authority' is suffers from a simplistic 'just so' story that is pretty anti-historical. Given your attention to detail in the Asian example, I'm surprised you'd be so inattentive to important details. Your response to kid ichorous is even more hand waving: massive prison populations, suffering from minute-to-minute intrusions of state authority, somehow don't qualify as increased state intrusiveness? How about: compulsory education, involuntary commitment for the insane, and the vigorous criminalization of suicide? How about further restrictions on abortion rights, loss of bankruptcy protections, wiretapping and data mining, and plain old propaganda?

These are things that churchess and state might always have wanted to interfere with: the difference is that now, they can.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:30 AM on July 18, 2007


you're = your
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:31 AM on July 18, 2007


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