Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hooliganism

There's no surer sign of the breakdown of our educational establishment than the way a nominally-educated group of people on a social "news" site like Reddit.com operate. Here is the list of items on that site with "Ayn Rand" in the title.

There is a term that floats around from time to time in Objectivist circles to describe the gleefully cynical, anti-seriousness, anti-ideas, anti-values mentality these people take, especially when the subject of their "criticism" is Ayn Rand. It's like an instinctive hatred of the good for being the good, but some kind of variation on that theme. The term floating around from time to time is: Nihilism. Now, there's only one dictionary definition of that term that might describe this anti-intellectual attitude. Arguably an updating of the lexicon is in order. There is, however, an existing term, one that Ayn Rand used herself to describe these twerps: Hooliganism.

For Hooligan-in-Chief, I would nominate Comprachico Leiter. "Hooliganism" describes perfectly his anti-intellectual attitude when the discussion turns toward anything capitalism-like. The latest instance of his hooliganism - well, the most obvious recent instance of hooliganism - is in this blog entry, titled "Kentucky Embarrasses Itself," which consists of all of the following:

What a pathetic country this is.

Keep in mind that this claim is being made by a full professor of law and humanities at one of the nation's leading universities. This is not an isolated case among his blog entries. On numerous occasions he has spoken ill of this country and also of how "lost" and "hopeless" the situation is (as if there is no free will, or something - who the fuck knows).

One thing that is axiomatic to the intellectual hooligans is that capitalism is evil, and that America is a screwed-up country that needs to be more like the social democracies of Europe. What's more, they do not entertain a serious, informed discussion on the subject. The tactics - again, see the link to the reddit threads above - amount to ignorant sneers.

There is also one facet of reddit that contributes to a virtually-unchecked hooliganism: the "upvote/downvote" model. Countless times a substance-free one-liner races to the top, while an intelligent response is downvoted right to the bottom. The social-metaphysical cowardice this encourages is beyond fucked-up, and it has resulted over time in a "brain-drain" of sorts. I submit that it's a similar "brain-drain" phenomenon that explains the anti-capitalist, anti-Rand hooliganism in the humanities departments.

The ones with the best minds are the ones most amenable to Rand's ideas - but those folks are not in the humanities; they are out building businesses and paying taxes to support the Leiters. The incentive/reward functions are way different between these two avenues. In the humanities, technical and abstruse arguments with little discernible real-world import can garner big rewards. A Theory of Justice gets held up as a greater example of human achievement than the building of Microsoft. Rand referred to this crowd, too, as full of hooligans disguised as philosophy professors. (A much more undeservedly-polite expose of the intellectuals' anti-capitalist mentality is provided by Nozick. Leiter and his ilk are merely the most open, consistent and unapolegetic hooligans.)

Where, after all, do the reddit-style hooligans get their hooliganism from?

(The activist-equivalent of these hooligans can be found at anti-free-trade riots here in the States, or at anti-budget-tightening riots in France and England.)

The irony here is how these very same hooligans will decry the anti-intellectual nature of the religious right, as per Leiter's posting above. Leiter's hooliganism in this case consists in tarring all of America due to some idiots in Kentucky. (This by a guy who runs a leading philosophy blog, mind you.)

It is little wonder that the ordinary American feels caught between idiots and hooligans on all sides, be they fundie fucks in the south, or sneeringly elitist, anti-America, ivory tower fucks like Leiter pretending to educate our nation's youths.

(Lest any of you fucking hooligans accuse me of hooliganism for identifying you as fucking hooligans, please don't bother with your hooligan-like moral equivalence. You make me fucking sick.)

:-)

[ADDENDUM: After spending part of the last few days confronting a number of the nihilist-hooligans on reddit - an even worse intellectual shithole of a website than I had thought, I discovered - I think I can relate to the huge sense of discouragement and disappointment Rand experienced when the hooligans got a hold of Atlas in the most obscenely intellectually incompetent fashion - the most stubbornly, obstinately, awesomely-committed-to-misconception fashion. The little reddit hooligans running around aren't the same published hooligan-reviewers that so upset Rand, but the phenomenon in either case can be emotionally exhausting and draining to a pro-values, pro-reason, pro-capitalism advocate. I'm sure Rand was so disgusted with these . . . entities . . . that she would have wanted figuratively to wring their fucking necks. The stylistic issues in Atlas don't begin to compare to the gleeful-cognitive-failure issues in the hooligan-crowd. The proudly ignorant and irrational disrespect involved is so staggering that, just as a matter of mental health, one wants to sweep these fuckers out of a place of prominence in one's mind, and push forward like they're not even there. Indeed, that seems to be the hard-line attitude Rand (and Peikoff) took toward the myriad hooligan-critics in her life; I don't know how she'd have survived otherwise. For the moment, I have a sense of exhaustion - minor setback - but a valuable lesson learned: don't even bother with intellectual hooligans; they have nothing of value to offer. Fuck 'em!]

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