Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Ugh. So Will Wilkinson is leaving CATO because he's doing the pragmatic thing a little too much for their liking, from what appears. This "liberaltarian" neologism is really just sad. Embarrassing. Drop it, wussies. You're either the real deal or you're a mealy-mouthed appeaser. Will, you really do need to go back and study up more on your Rand. (And some Peikoff, and some Norton, and some Aristotle, and some Dougs.) As she did not believe in such a thing as a moral-practical dichotomy, she advocated laissez-faire on principled moral grounds because it is practical. What she didn't harbor, was all the fucking cynicism that plagues the widespread contemporary American "give a shit" sense of life. What we need is for everyone to emulate shining examples of human perfection such as Aristotle, Howard Roark, Ayn Rand, Stanley Kubrick, Warren Buffett, Michael Jordan and the like (Jimmy Wales? eh? nudge), rather than accept anything less. We have free will. It can be done. The first virtue in making it happen is rationality. The basic guidebook is there in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Go back to that, to the fundamentals, the bedrock. Go give a listen to Peikoff's Understanding Objectivism course. Couple that with a bombshell of a pro-Rand book on the way in the next few weeks, you might as well start now, go over it with a real fine-tooth comb this time. Let me see your REAL war face! You'll look back at that whole "liberaltarian" episode and go, "wtf was I thinking?" Will, are you a cynic or are you an idealist? It is either/or. Wynand or Roark. Will, search your feelings, you know this to be true. MWUUUAAAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Cowards Coalescing

The Rand-Evading Distinguished Professor links to a roundtable in which he is a participant, in the pages of the torture-enabling New York Times. From the REDP's contribution:

[P]hilosophy, like other humanities fields, is under attack at many institutions of higher education. This attack has other causes. The current crisis of capitalism has increased anxiety about the short-term “market value” of all courses of study.


So let's see if I understand this correctly: in the pages of the New York Times, torture is now politely euphemized (at the request of the very lawless thugs doing the torturing) as "enhanced interrogation," while the current economic situation is not-so-politely euphemized by neo-Marxist twits as "a crisis of capitalism."

Nice, huh?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Note to self

Read up on Hannah Arendt. Something about Jewish female intellectuals and totalitarianism . . .

ADDENDUM: Also, read up on Ruth Millikan. Something about women doing the best philosophy in recent years (contra males with their psycho-epistemological tendencies towards "rigorous" rationalistic analysis) . . .

OUP's "Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction"

The "world's leading academic press" has a series of books out in what it calls Very Short Introductions. Picking up its Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction by James Fulcher, a professor of Sociology at Leicester, we encounter this at the end of the first chapter, which is titled "What is Capitalism?" (a great title for a first chapter in a book on capitalism, I might add):

So, the answer to our question is that capitalism involves the investment of money to make more money. While merchants have long done this, it is when production is financed in this way that a transformative capitalism comes into being. Capitalist production depends on the exploitation of wage labour, which also fuels the consumption of the goods and services produced by capitalist enterprises. (p. 18)

Can we get a facepalm over here?

Now, this is simply, unequivocally, absolutely unacceptable for a reputable presentation about capitalism. Exploitation doctrines have long since been exploded by Bohm-Bawerk, Mises, Nozick, Rand, and others with any lick of common sense. This is intellectually incompetent if not dishonest. It doesn't matter one fucking bit if the author meant "exploitation" in some benign dictionary sense ("to make productive use of: UTILIZE"); the use of the term "exploitation" in connection with capitalism is without question associated in the public consciousness with the pejorative sense intended by Marx and his spawn.

Fucking unacceptable.

Who is running the Oxford University Press's editorial department for these "very short introductions"? (As it happens, I have purchased one of these, on Aristotle, only because I know its author, Jonathan Barnes, to be a respected Aristotle scholar. But I can't place any general trust in the series.) And why would they hire this particular work out to a professor of Sociology, rather than, say, a professor of Economics who might actually have a clue? Amongst major academic disciplines, that of Sociology has got to be one of the most pathologically left-wing ones around (certainly outside of the Humanities, anyway).

There are several references to Marx (a long-discredited, bad-faith opponent of capitalism, the last guy you'd want to read to get an accurate analysis of the subject) in the index to this little book, but none whatever to leading champions of capitalism like Mises (who arguably is to economics what Aristotle is to philosophy) and Rand.

I didn't bother with the rest of this corrupt little book after that. Best as I can tell from skimming it, it would read much like that mediocre encyclopedia entry dissected by Rand in her "What is Capitalism?" essay. That was, like, 45 years ago, and yet these dumbass sociology professors apparently haven't made any progress whatsoever in all that time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More academic idiocy

The Distinguished Professor and his ilk seemingly can't avoid getting their digs in against Ayn Rand whenever possible. The DP - vile, creepy coward that he is - quotes a "senior philosopher" regarding the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

There is no question that SEP is fantastic, but if the recent entries I’ve noted are the new standard, there is an emphasis on something other than the importance of the possible entry that made SEP fantastic in the first place. The entry that set me off was the Ayn Rand one—the bibliography alone is one of the most embarrassing I’ve ever seen: outlets of questionable merit at best, etc.

I should mention right off the bat that my book will be out in some format or other within a matter of weeks. It will fucking blow away whatever "product" these academic jackasses have been churning out for decades. There will be a veritable bukkake of egg to be wiped off these people's smug faces, it will be so embarrassing to them and their tired old pretentious ways. (I will only mention at this point that the book will vastly exceed the scope and effectiveness of that of the tentative outline I made back in February.)

As to the "outlets of questionable merit," we can cut the bullshit and translate that snooty weasel-wording into: "Not from the most elite academic presses." Best as I can determine, that means: Oxford University Press, Harvard University Press, and Princeton University Press. According to the Distinguished Professor, Cambridge University Press doesn't reliably produce "first-rate" material - and he would cite Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics as one example of why it doesn't.

(I am curious, why hasn't the Distinguished Professor published a stand-alone book on Nietzsche from one of these most "elite" presses? Routledge surely qualifies as "second-tier" at best, correct? Leiter has an established "elite" publishing record and reputation in the field of law or philosophy of law, but is he really that "elite" a philosopher, pathologically elitist creep that he is?)

Now, as to those most elite of presses, I can cite books from those presses offering essentially the same substantive conclusions that Rand delivered: David Norton's Personal Destinies: A Philosophy of Ethical Individualism (Princeton), Philippa Foot's Natural Goodness (Oxford), A. John Simmons's On the Edge of Anarchy: Locke, Consent, and the Limits of Society (Princeton).

Now, let's comment on the cowardice, second-handerism and social metaphysics of "the caliber of outlet," shall we? Leiter as well as anyone knows that Nietzsche stood against a whole tradition of philosophy that was quite thoroughly academic in nature. The irony here, of course, is that the likes of Leiter, comfortably ensconced in academia, represent the very phenomenon Nietzsche was against. The politicking, the snootiness, the conformity to the established ways, the "Professor X says" over the "it is" . . . Nietzsche blasted right through all that. ("But it's the Parthenon!" And so it is.) Leiter as well as anyone should remember how tenured Princeton philosophy professor Walter Kaufmann (Critique of Religion and Philosophy) blasted through the whole charade that passed for philosophy as it was done in the mid-20th century. What exactly has changed, other than some sluggish progress in an Aristotelian direction?

Let's also further comment on the nature of the academic intelligentsia: for over 100 years, the academy was (still is? still?) fervently pro-socialistic, despite there being no sound basis on which to argue for socialism. We already know how Marxian pseudo-scientific anti-capitalist dialectics fell flat on its face. We know how socialism has proven to be a massive and utter failure, just as Mises predicted back in 1922. As the whole intellectual world was engulfed in socialistic ideology, Mises was a virtual lone voice of sanity - as was Ayn Rand later on when it came to philosophy as such (before being joined in that regard independently by Kaufmann in the '50s). The academy's reaction to Mises' absolutely sound argumentation: to ignore it.

Now, something about the sociological-institutional-psychological tendencies within the academy would explain this hostility to capitalism and to open and honest debate about it.

But it's not just about capitalism. Let's take another instance of the academy's failure: the stale, worn-out, dead-end debate up until only recently between "deontological" and "consequentialist" schools of ethics. I mean, before Anscombe's essay came along (concurrently with epochal works by Rand and Kaufmann), modern moral philosophy was truly a shithole, but it was academics doing the shitting, so I guess the only rational thing to do was to genuflect towards the academics, right? Their shitty works were, after all, being published by the elite academic presses, right?

One might conclude from the myriad failures of the academy when it comes to philosophy that academia stinks. Actually, no, academia per se does not stink. It is the academic humanities that (for the most part) stink. And I'm not talking only about the lit-crit wankers, the ultimate manifestation of the wafting stench. I'm talking about the default on philosophy by the academy, philosophy being the ultimate uniting discipline of the humanities (and, ultimately, of all fields). The main problem here is the lack of objective standards within the humanities despite (or because of?) the fact of peer-review methods - methods ostensibly similar to those found also within the hard sciences (which continue to make all kinds of strides while the Leiters and affiliated Senior Philosophers wallow in the muck and whine helplessly about Ayn Rand's continuing and expanding cultural influence). Only with a lack of objective standards do you get interminable debates about deontology-vs.-consequentialism and whether "social justice" should have a Rawlsian or more egalitarian flavor.

This is dysfunction, sickness and madness that urgently needs being called out as such, rather than being placated. It is exactly the same sort of madness that led to Marxism and socialism being the fad for decades in the intelligentsia - and which led directly and inevitably to decades of mass murder perpetrated by the governments of Russia, Germany, and China. When Ludwig von Mises is the lone voice of sanity ca. 1922, the ghastly and deadly period stretching from 1914 to 1945 (and stretching on into roughly the '70s in a somewhat less ghastly form) was inevitable. And the fucks like Leiter still, still, still refuse to learn the lesson or re-examine their unobjective premises.

What I would like to know is how a magnificent book such as Norton's Personal Destinies, published by Princeton University Press, still managed to become obscure within the profession. Here's a possible clue: back in the '70s, all the rage was about Rawls, and this wonderful book simply got drowned out by all the wanking to Rawls. The fundamental elements of a correct theory of justice are there in Norton, and don't require the silly rationalistic constructions of Rawls ("original position"; "veil of ignorance"; "reflective equilibrium"; "the natural lottery") where justice is divorced from productive achievement (which Ayn Rand regarded as man's noblest activity, but which really doesn't seem to play much of a role, if any, in Rawls's theory). Hell, how did Kaufmann's excellent Critique of Religion and Philosophy manage to fall into relative obscurity?

So isn't it really about fucking time that Aristotle, Mises, Rand, Kaufmann, Norton, and Rasmussen and Den Uyl got their full due amongst those people - the academic philosophers - charged with the sacred responsibility of doing philosophy as opposed to sneering, politicking and evading?

ADDENDUM: Note to self: study Henry Veatch to see if he should be added to this last list of greats.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good academic books on ethics

To my "A-list" of books I would like to add two academic books of note: Natural Goodness by Philippa Foot, and The Sources of Normativity by Christine Korsgaard.

(Hmmm . . . some of the best contemporary moral theorizing has come from Ayn Rand, Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Christine Korsgaard . . . noticing a pattern here?)

Foot is known in the academy as a leading proponent of the virtue-ethics approach to moral theory, but only recently (2001) penned Natural Goodness, the conclusions of which converge on Rand's own functional account of value discovered in the 1950s. (Yes, this implies that Rand should be taken at least as seriously within the academy as Foot is, which begs the obvious question: why hasn't she been? The answer cannot be that Rand is a weak philosopher - not if she discovered the essential substance of the same thing that leading academic philosophers are now propounding. Something else is going on that explains Rand's "outsider" status....)

Korsgaard is a leading advocate of a "neo-Kantian" approach to moral theory, which in her case is an updated (and much improved upon Kant!) account of normativity as residing in our capacity as autonomous agents and the need for an integrity to our practical identity as autonomous agents. The significant thing here is her overture to an Aristotelian idea of value or flourishing, with autonomy being the specific form in which human flourishing occurs. This is how she accounts for the sorts of value (and human responsiveness to value) in non-human animals. The work Korsgaard does here is first-rate, though unfortunately the Aristotelian implications are not fully pursued or spelled out to my satisfaction. She does explicitly recognize (as, again, Rand had already done in the '50s) that values arise from the phenomenon of life, and she points out the centrality of autonomy or self-reflective authority in human life, but the Aristotelian perfectionism and self-actualization is left unexplored. Autonomy might be an essential ingredient in what it is to function as a human, but it doesn't tell us anything about how to self-actualize and achieve happiness, which is the purpose of ethics (as Rand pointed out). We are left, at best, with a model of practical reasoning in which we "construct" our model of the good life, but without essential reference to our distinctive innate potentialities (an essential theme in Rand and Norton, in which self-actualization takes center stage and has logical priority over such things as - to use Korsgaardian/Kantian terminology - creating a public Kingdom of Ends).

(I find it also of interest that Foot and Korsgaard both discuss Nietzsche near the end of their works. In modern moral theory, Nietzsche is lurking there in the background. Nietzsche was a significant early influence on Rand, before she became a full-fledged Aristotelian. Norton delivers a commentary on Nietzsche under the heading of "critique of recent eudaemonisms." Nietzsche a eudaemonist? Well, in a sense, emphatically yes. Whether or not he considered the Ubermensch or self-actualization or self-perfection to be a moral imperative, these ideas are crucial to an understanding of eudaemonism rightly conceived. At the beginning of Rasmussen and Den Uyl's Norms of Liberty, there is a reference to Alasdair MacIntyre making the claim that the alternative modernity faces is that between Aristotle and Nietzsche. Perhaps the alternative is not so dichotomous. Lester Hunt has made some important connections here.)

In any event, these are two worthwhile recent products of the academy, the outcomes of conscientious and systematic efforts to trace our normative concepts to natural facts about us in our relation to the world. The award for greatest degree of systematization and fundamentality goes, however, to Ayn Rand - and it is only a matter of time before this fact is recognized within the academy itself.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A prediction

According to a metric used here - number of citations in philosophy journals - Ayn Rand isn't a big name in academic philosophy. The blogger uses this as evidence that Rand isn't a serious philosopher.

The reasoning there is oddly circular and unbecoming of a philosophical mind. It appears to run as follows:

We are to determine whether Rand is a serious philosopher by whether she appears in philosophy journals. Since she doesn't appear much in philosophy journals, serious philosophers don't study her. Since serious philosophers don't study her, she will naturally not appear in philosophy journals in the future. Therefore, she will not be studied in the future by serious philosophers, and so she won't appear much in journals, and so on and on. So basically, Rand cannot possibly ever break into philosophy journals studied by serious philosophers because . . . she is not in philosophy journals studied by serious philosophers.

Nice, huh?

If this self-contained, circle-jerking insularity reflects the mentality of "academic philosophers," then academic philosophy will continue to be mired in the muck for some time to come. The attitude is entirely unphilosophical and - to borrow an identification from the unserious Ayn Rand - it is out-and-out social metaphysics, i.e., in essence, placing "they say" above "it is." It is a grotesque rationalization for ignoring Ayn Rand because . . . others ignore Ayn Rand. That's not philosophy. That's cowardice and self-abasement, in addition to engaging in a vicious circularity.

However, if one were to study Ayn Rand's ideas based on their substantive merits rather than on deference to what They Say, one will (eventually) come to the conclusion that Ayn Rand was an original, first-rate philosophical mind (save for her polemics). In fact, there are signs that academia is slowly but surely heading in the direction of that very realization.

So I'm going to make a prediction here:

Within 50 years - two generations - Ayn Rand will appear high up on the "number of citations" list, likely in the top 10, probably in the top 5. If not considerably sooner.

Consequently, the current crop of smugly self-satisfied anti-Randians will be shown up for the unphilosophical assholes and/or idiots that they are.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque: A and not-A

First, the bigotry:

Palin (7/18): "Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. ."

Gingrich (7/21): "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia."

Pawlenty (8/6): "I think it's inappropriate... From a patriotic standpoint, it's hallowed ground, it's sacred ground, and we should respect that. We shouldn't have images or activities that degrade or disrespect that in any way."

Huckabee (8/4): Even if the Muslims have the right to build it, don’t they do more to serve the public interest by exercising the responsible judgement to not build it, given that it’s really offensive to most New Yorkers and Americans? Or is it just that we can offend Americans and Christians, but not foreigners and Muslims?"

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom (today): "Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero. The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site."

Now that I'm back from vomiting, I'd like to distill the essence of what is going on here.

All of these 2012 hopefuls are looking to secure the nomination of a party that is intellectually hopeless. This playing-to-the-base is religious bigotry and runs counter to all liberal values of the West. But here's the disgusting part: They are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. In other words, they are trying to have their irrational religious bigotry and they are trying their damnedest to reconcile this with some semblance of reasonableness and tolerance.

It cannot be done.

What we have, as a result, is contortions of logic in order to fit the square of unreason into the circle of reason. To anyone who can smell disingenuous bad faith from a mile off, this stuff stinks.

Basically, in order to secure the 2012 nomination, all the likely hopefuls are shitting away any pretense to intellectual integrity. What's more, this is a necessary consequence of what the GOP has become: an intellectual cesspool.

As Andrew Sullivan keeps saying, and the GOP leaders keep dishonestly evading: "It will only get worse before it gets better."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ayn Rand: Effing Genius

I am firmly of the conviction that Ayn Rand's place in the philosophical pantheon is only a matter of time. The fact of her greatness is, at this point, obvious to someone such as myself, someone who has put in the effort at mental integration necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff of the Western intellectual tradition.

Now, I am not saying that her greatness is obvious in the sense that just anyone can pick up her books and realize right off that they are encountering the writings of the greatest philosopher since Aristotle. If that were the case, we'd be enjoying the benefits of full-fledged reason, individualism and capitalism all around the world today, rather than being on a worldwide course of drift and evasion. Hell, if only Aristotle's greatness were obvious to everyone, we'd be in a capitalistic paradise by now: Galt's Gulch would be the norm rather than the exception. We wouldn't be wondering "what is to be done about the poor," as everyone would be realizing their full potentials, their inner geniuses.

(In a Q&A session, Ayn Rand was asked if she would write a version of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology for those of 110 IQ instead of for those of 150 IQ. Her supremely benevolent view of human potential is revealed in her answer: "I'd prefer that people raise their IQ from 110 to 150. It can be done." [Ayn Rand Answers, p. 179] What the fuck do the likes of John Rawls and Thomas Nagel have to offer in comparison to this? And why the fuck is Rand constantly tarred as an elitist whose philosophy is only for a select few? It is as if her critics are pathologically, awesomely committed to misconceptions about her [to borrow a phrase from Michael Herr's delightful little memoir, Kubrick].)

Part of this reason this isn't so obvious is that Rand's style was very plainspoken. Actually, this should be taken as evidence that she is a great thinker, not a shallow one. But the inversion accepted by so many is that a deep thinker should philosophize and write in the mode of Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Martin Heidegger, or any number of their genuflecting emulators in academia. If you want a style that is truly elitist, try slogging through their writings. (Rand also had things to say about English being her language of choice due to its precision and clarity. ["Global Balkanization"]) Ayn Rand was writing for people as such, and as such, her writings have an eminently practical character to them. This goes especially for her epistemology.

Speaking of her epistemology, it is her greatest contribution to philosophy, and arguably on par with Aristotle's writings on metaphysics and logic. And if there is any doubt as to whether Rand is a genuinely deep thinker, one need only have a look at the appendix of the 2nd edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. That she didn't work out all the specialized sub-branches of epistemology (e.g. philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics) is quite irrelevant to this; her task was to set the ground rules for any of the specialized sub-disciplines in any area of thought - to provide a guidebook as to how to think independently - and she succeeded admirably. If these methods were automatized and integrated into every thinking person's life, the world's troubles would be over in no time. A world full of Ayn Rand-caliber thinkers - with the resulting moral character - wouldn't even think of going to war, committing crimes, wallowing in self-pity, aching for some meaning or purpose in their lives, etc. That this point is lost on her critics is quite telling.

As for her critics, it is only a matter of time before they have to reckon with Ayn Rand - to accept and work within the system she laid out, or to explain why not. And to do that, they also have to reckon at long last with Aristotle. It is a fact - one that people throughout the ages have struggled mightily to evade, distort, or subvert - that the Aristotelian influence on the West is chiefly responsible for its intellectual, scientific, cultural and moral progress. In attacking Ayn Rand - in shooting the messenger - it is Aristotle these people are implicitly attacking.

Making the non-obvious obvious at last is the chief aim of my current book project (which will be completed soon). When all is said and done, I expect her name to be amongst a new Big Three of philosophy along with Aristotle and perhaps David L. Norton (whose conscientious and systematic rigor in Personal Destinies is second to none). I would like to make a note about Wittgenstein in this context. I am not a Wittgenstein specialist by the remotest stretch; this is not to say that I won't be in the future. But based on my cursory investigations, I find one chief intellectual virtue in him: his commonsensical, non-rationalistic, non-elitist approach. I am not saying that his method and answers are as good as Rand's, but there is a conscientiousness about his approach that leaves those of his contemporaries in the dust. Part of this has to do, I think, with Wittgenstein's extensive experience with ordinary people in the real world. It makes him psycho-epistemologically healthier already (even if his approach is still stymied by aspects of psycho-epistemological rationalism - or perhaps even an over-empiricism). I'll also mention this: As with Aristotle and Ayn Rand, Wittgenstein in his mode as philosopher of mathematics rejected actual or completed infinities, contra the pretentious twats who pretend that actual infinities had been "proven" by this mathematician or that, as if mathematics could substitute for metaphysics. My inkling, though, is that an Aristotelian-Randian conceptual framework is ultimately the most sound basis for a philosophy of mathematics; I only point out a conclusion that the consensus favorite for "greatest philosopher of the 20th century" reached, which happens to be correct.

To be continued . . .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

From America's intellectual ghetto

Wow. The enshrining of imbecility as a virtue on the American Right is really just sad.

It really is beyond the intellectual pale. Keep in mind that this is the same bunch of imbeciles and creeps that sat quietly by while the United States government tortured people, but now get all worked up over something that won't harm anyone. On top of that, none of the actual arguments of the Prop 8 case are addressed on their merits. Don't expect logic or basic human decency from these sonsabitches.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who is John Thune?

(No, not Galt. Thune.)

Seems that America is facing domestic wars on (at least) two fronts: against elitist capitalism-hating assholes in academia on one hand, and against evangelical reason-hating idiots on the other.

Here are the current odds for who will win the 2012 GOP nomination. The "best" candidate - and Establishment favorite - is Mitt Romney. He has a roughly 30% chance of winning the nomination. It's doubtful he could beat Obama, but at least he would put up a minimally respectable fight. Then you have the Dingbat with a 17% chance. Figgie Newton has a roughly 11% chance and steadily rising. Pawlenty has an 11% chance, but nobody cares about him and his name isn't even presidential. Fuckabee is at 7%. But none of these are the third-place contender. That honor goes to John Thune, junior Senator from South Dakota, at roughly 15%.

Thune has better looks and better hair than Romney. That'll be part of the appeal his fans will tout, just like the (more or less) same fans tout the looks of Dingbat. (As corporate monstrosities like Yum! Brands will tell you, looks and packaging are essential to marketing a shit sandwich.) Here's the money quote from the wikipedia article on Thune:

Thune has described his religious faith as the most important aspect of his political career: "Having a Christian worldview shapes my decision-making with respect to all aspects of my life. I always respect people in public life who are principled, and those principles have to be connected to something. And my faith is what serves as the anchor and directs my actions."[13] In June 2006, Thune reaffirmed his strong support to amend the United States Constitution to ban same-sex marriage: "The Federal Marriage Amendment debate simply is an opportunity for us to affirm our support for marriage...It is an important debate to have in this country."

So it would appear that a combination of good looks, anti-intellectualism and pathological homophobia is what has right-wing hearts all aflutter.

Didn't we already see where 8 years of this shit got us?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vileness in academia

The Distinguished Professor is just a vile human being. His latest cowardice involves this cheap shot that doesn't address any of the substance of any of the arguments.

I have experienced, first hand, the DP's closed-mindedness and/or dull-wittedness on the subject of Ayn Rand. One thing to keep in mind regarding his vile and vicious (and ignorant! let's not forget ignorant) attacks on Rand and Randians is that a former colleague of his at the University of Texas, Tara Smith, is one of those "lightweights" he implicitly insults, attacks, and slimes with his broad brush. I wonder, just what are the hiring standards at the University of Texas, anyway, and why does the DP impugn them so? This is especially odd considering that the University of Texas philosophy department is ranked No. 20 in the Leiter Report (the DP's long-running project of obsessively ranking things to satisfy his pathological narcissism and elitism).

The fact of the matter is, if it were Brian Leiter against any of the people on the Ayn Rand Society's steering committee, he'd have his ass handed to him, and something tells me that he has an inkling of an awareness of this fact and decides to evade it mentally. How vile! What a creep!

How the Right doesn't get it

Sullivan links to this blog entry by Prof. Stephen M. Bainbridge lamenting the state of the American Right today.

The last item on his list of things that make "real" conservatives embarrassed by the modern "conservative movement" is this:

The substitution of mouth-foaming, spittle-blasting, rabble-rousing talk radio for reasoned debate. Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt, and even Rush Limbaugh are not exactly putting on Firing Line. Whatever happened to smart, well-read, articulate leaders like Buckley, Neuhaus, Kirk, Jack Kent, Goldwater, and, yes, even Ronald Reagan?

The myopia and double-standard here is too much to take with a straight face. How else does one characterize Whittaker "Gas" Chambers's review of Atlas Shrugged in the pages of Buckley's National Review, other than the substitution of mouth-foaming, spittle-blasting, rabble-rousing talk for reasoned debate?

It is a context-dropping, intellectually-inferior narrative amongst "respectable conservatives" that Buckley served as some kind of quality-control enforcer for the conservative movement. This is plainly false. While reading people like the John Birchers out of the conservative movement, Buckley (via Chambers) also read Ayn Rand out of the movement, which is to say, that he read out of the conservative movement the most potent intellectual voice for reason, individualism, and capitalism. This is to say that Buckley's quality-control standards were shit from the beginning.

This is also to say that the kookery in which the American Right has been drowning, is just the chickens' homecoming.

The Right is now flailing about, grasping somewhere - anywhere - for intellectual leadership. They have now opportunistically latched onto Ayn Rand in addition to everyone else, but they still reject at root all the metaphysics, epistemology and ethics that make for an intellectually sound defense of capitalistic freedom. They don't get it, they will continue not getting it for the foreseeable future, and their problems will continue for that reason.

Incidentally, Rand wrote an article in the '60s, titled "Conservatism: An Obituary," reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. She already diagnosed the "conservatives'" problem back then, and her insights remain as spot-on as ever. The chief, central problem of "conservatism" then and now has been anti-intellectualism, which Chambers's review of Atlas epitomizes.