Saturday, January 29, 2011

The "Rand Took Welfare" Meme

These smear-memes (this one was floating around in the intellectual cesspool known as reddit.com a few days before being picked up by a leading Rand-hating professional philosopher/Comprachico) are just so fucking dishonest and viciously-motivated, I don't even know how one responds to them without dignifying them in some way. This latest one, right on the heels of the screamingly dishonest "William Edward Hickman" meme, comes from excruciatingly selective excerpting from interviews in 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand.

Here's one reason I don't think these memes ought to be even dignified with a response: the people who spread them are not interested in an honest discussion of the facts. They have it in for Ayn Rand, justice and truth be damned. That's all there is to this. You correct them on this, they'll just come back with more of the same shit later like the first incident never happened.

On the other hand, if there is such a thing as an honorable and informed opponent of Ayn Rand, such a person would treat this fact - that Rand received Social Security benefits - in the full context of all the available information. But to do so would, in the end, lead to an embrace of Rand, her thinking methods, her achievements, etc. That's just a fact of the matter, whether these scummy haters realize it or not. But the haters don't want to consider being proven wrong about or embracing Rand. It's just an automatized thing for them: Ayn Rand is a hack, vicious, inhumane, fascistic, a bitch, etc.

Now, an honest, intellectually curious individual reading 100 Voices would also have noticed the hundreds of pages of other things in addition to this tidbit about Rand accepting Social Security benefits - including the very interesting things said by the likes of Columbia-trained philosophers Harry Binswanger and Allan Gotthelf. Gotthelf remarks, about the ca. 1970 epistemology workshops - see the 2nd ed. of ITOE - that it was "like having Aristotle in the room." (Gotthelf, it turns out, is also a highly-respected Aristotle scholar.) Harry Binswanger uses such intriguing phrases as "priming her subconscious," in reference to her years-long preparation for writing ITOE. Hey, that has something to do with psycho-epistemology, and Peikoff's Understanding Objectivism gets a lot into psycho-epistemology! Hey, what is psycho-epistemology all about, anyway? But I rather doubt the haters are interested in any of that stuff. Better to hone in on some one paragraph in the whole book, purporting to show some hypocrisy on Rand's part....

No. I'm not going to dignify this shit. You either have a genuine and honest interest in learning about Ayn Rand, or you don't. Comprachico Leiter (what a scumbag!), et al, obviously do not. Those who do, can readily figure out what's what without my spending the time explaining it all every fucking time something like this comes up. What these smear-memes do accomplish, though, is an insight into the motives and methods of Rand's haters - people who are ready, willing and suspiciously eager to drop whatever context they feel they have to, to continue their grotesque pretense to intellectuality vis-a-vis Rand. Zons of Beetches!

[ADDENDUM: Notice one thing about the methods of these zons of beetches: they transform this issue not into one of the principle Rand espoused - regarding the propriety of a coercive welfare state - but into whether Rand was a hypocrite or not. The propriety of the coercive welfare state automatically vanishes from their cognitive field of view (what is it that psycho-epistemology has to say about automatization, I wonder?), such that "the issue" and the focus is now on the person who espouses principles opposing it. This is not a respectable cognitive process. These are not worthy fucking adversaries. These men are cowards; nothing to be afraid of. Amazingly cynical cowards at that.]

[ADDENDUM #2: Rand's views on receiving government money or benefits were spelled out in print back in the 1960s. Her article was reprinted in an anthology, The Voice of Reason, in 1989. It's not like Rand and her Estate didn't do an adequate job covering their bases on this. How, then, can it be their fucking problem that they didn't anticipate the level of evasion so many people, including professional "philosophers," are capable of? Goddamit, this stuff was in print for over 40 years, and these "philosophers" are smear-artists are just now becoming aware of this stuff? What ass were their heads jammed way up in all this time? It's not Ayn Rand's fucking problem that they've got their heads up their asses. The problem has always essentially been with her haters, whatever her errors or flaws. That's just a fact. Here's another thing: you either get Ayn Rand, or you don't. Either you have the Roarkian soul for it, or you're just a tragically-fucked-up product of the Comprachicos, or one of the Comprachicos themselves. That's just a fact right there; the haters can suck it.]

[ADDENDUM #3: An example highlighting the difference between a philosopher and an intellectual thug: a philosopher is interested in such questions as how Rand's essay "The Comprachicos" fits with the plot of Atlas; an intellectual thug, meanwhile, has nothing better to do than gleefully pounce on the (actually most uninteresting) fact that Rand accepted government benefits. A philosopher is also armed with the ability to connect "The Comprachicos" to the phenomenon of all these little thugs running around, gleefully and cynically attacking greatness.]

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