My comment in the Smithsonian Magazine...

Posted by WDonway 9 months, 4 weeks ago to Philosophy
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"...a system being developed by various economists of the period that argued against any government influence at all..." FALSE: In her articles on the nature of government, Ayn Rand argued that government is an essential institution founded to uphold human rights against any initiation of force. Government's crucial influence is to put the retaliatory use of force (against criminals and foreign aggressors) under rule of objective law. Government functions and programs that involve the INITIATION of force by government are illegitimate; the institution founded to protect man against initiatiion of force against private citizens and foreign governments becomes, itself, the initiator of force and violator of rights...

"a new path into libertarianism..." FALSE. Ayn Rand publicly and repeatedly rejected libertarianism because it advocates a political position (in effect, a highly limited government along Jeffersonian lines) without any philosophical base. Rand understood that politics is a branch of philosophy and that the politics of capitalism crucially rests on a certain view of metaphysics (reality), epistemology (reason), and ethics (egoism and individualism).

"...Branden built upon Rand’s ideas with his own pop psychology, which he termed “social metaphysics." FALSE. Nathaniel Branden, who studied psychology at the graduate level at New York Universiity, called his system the "Psychology of Self-Esteem" and self-esteem psychology has become very widespread since his pioneering work.

“social metaphysics.” The basic principle was that concern over the thoughts and opinions of others was pathological." FALSE. The term "social metaphysics" referred to individuals who attach more validity to the thoughts and opinions of others, as such, than they do to their own independent intellectual judgment. "Social metaphysics" refers to a profound psychological conformity rooted in an attempt to escape the responsibility of independent judgment by substututing the judgment of others.

"...while extolling the benefits of competence and
selfishness, “I don’t give a damn about kindness, charity, or any of
the other so-called virtues.” INEXCUSABLY unrepresentative. In her monograph on ethics, "The Virtue of Selfishness," and many other works, Ayn Rand said repeatedly that the primary virtues are reason, purpose, and self-esteem." The moral purpose of the indivudual's life is his or her own survival and happiness, which is the first and foremost ethical responsibility. Within that context, she said, kindness and charity were derivative and less essential virtues. When charity and kindness are elevated into cardinal virtuess, they became "altruism," the doctrine that the individual has no right to live for his own sake but earns moral stature by consistently sacrificing his own values to the needs of others.

"...techniques she used in her writing, often reminiscent of Soviet propaganda, says literary critic Gene H. Bell-Villada. “In a perverse way, Rand’orthodoxies and the Randian personality cult present a mirror image of Soviet dogmas and practices,” Bell-Villada writes.

“Her hard-line opposition to all state intervention in the economy is a
stance as absolute and unforgiving as was the Stalinist program of
government planning and control....”

AN INTELLECTUAL OBSCENITY, INDICATING THAT THE AUTHOR'S PURUPOSE ALL ALONG WAS TO SMEAR RAND and to suggest that her insistence on consistent adherence to principle, and admonishing that there can be no compromise on one's PRINCIPLES, is somehow tantamount to totalitarianism. Ayn Rand rejected all dogma and insisted that all assetions of ideas be tested by each individual based on reference to facts and logic as well as logical consistency of the system. She did not demand that anyone accept any idea other than by individual ntellectual assent. Ayn Rand projected--perhaps radiated--the certainly attained only by scrupulous regard for facts, logic, consistency, and openesss to challenge.

Stalinism rested upon the dogmatic requirement to accept all aspects of the Communist ideological line on pain of denunciation or, if the individual were unfortunately enough to live under a communist regime, imprisonment or death.

The precise opposite is Ayn Rand's advocacy of the free society, with the individual's right to freedom of thought, freeedom of expression, and freedom of action upheld WITHOUT COMPROMISE by government. Her reasoning was that the individual's very survival, the achievement of any worthwhile values, and the search for happiness require the use of reason. And that reason, the individual's own independent mind and judgment, requires the guarantee of protection from ALL coercion. Man's life depends upon it. To compare this with history's most dogmatic, anti-individualist, coercively collectivist, totalitarian forcing of man's mind into never-to-be-questioned ideology is an act of deliberate distortion and hostility that even in one of today's liberal-leftist publications is shocking and, frankly, sickening.

The frank hatred that always has characterized so many attacks on Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism is rooted in the unquestionable, unassailable, sacred dogma of altruism--the secular version of Christianity--a belief held with religious tenacity. Her critics never have been able to identify

Ayn Rand's actual ideas, honestly, and to subject them to reasoned argument. The first step always is distortion.

When will a critic come forward and say: You argue that reason is man's fundamental characteristic and his only means of knowledge and success, and that the individual's reason, independent judgment, must be left free to operate, and that in reason man has a moral right to live for his own sake, acting upon his own values, not sacrificing them to others, and that laissez faire capitalism is the only sysstem that fully upholds these rights and freedom, and that capitalism has proved the most benevolent, beneficial, life-giving social system ever invented--and, Ayn Rand, I think that these views, and you, are evil?
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  • Posted by  $  Snezzy 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    Thank you, Walter.

    When I read just a few lines of that crap I was almost inspired to put pen to keyboard, but didn't have the gumption. The very first thing that leaped out at me was the naming of Branden's psychology as "social metaphysics." That shows either a complete misunderstanding, or a deliberate misrepresentation.

    Please let us know what ensues from your efforts. If you are ignored, you can rest in the knowledge that you are right. If they come after you, you'll know that you've been bombing the correct target.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 9 months, 3 weeks ago
      Nothing will come of it. If you read the original article and the comments below it, you will see the context. Walter just posted a long comment about #8 to #10 down the list. Harry Binswanger's comments were closer to the top, #3. Walter also posted this to his Facebook page. You might find comments back to. him there.
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  • Posted by mccannon01 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    Nicely done, WDonway, in such a concise manner. What responses, if any, have you received?
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 9 months, 3 weeks ago
      See my reply above to Snezzy. Walter's comments were among many others. In fact, most of them took the same tone as Harry Binswanger and he did, correcting the original article on matters of substance and style. You should read the original article and the replies.
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      • Posted by mccannon01 9 months, 3 weeks ago
        Hi Mike. I did read the article, but the replies/comments section didn't appear, which is why I asked the question. Hmm, now it seems I can't get to the original article, either.
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  • Posted by mspalding 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    Well written. And you covered everything. If the Smithsonian publishes your comments, that's a victory.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 9 months, 3 weeks ago
      If you read the original article cited (see my thread here on the same topic), you will see the context for his reply. The Smithsonian did "publish" it, if you understand what that means with online presentations.
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  • Posted by  $  Dobrien 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    Jolly Good show Walter.
    I canceled my Smithsonian membership 3 years ago. I will not pay for propaganda. I found this statement from the author telling of her smear job " The collective put Rand in the position of authority she had always craved.”
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  • Posted by  $  Thoritsu 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    I just love your statement: "...unquestionable, unassailable, sacred dogma of altruism--the secular version of Christianity--a belief held with religious tenacity." That is beautiful logic and prose. I am stealing it!
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  • Posted by  $  Maritimus 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    Great job!
    Hats off for striking at the heart of the corrupt, bureaucratic and ultimately unscientific institution and its main propaganda tool.
    Best wishes.
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  • Posted by  $  Tuner38 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    An appropriate response to the usual degradation of those who distort and think they are reaching people via discrediting the foremost philosopher in centuries. Trying to appeal via anti-reason, distortion and lies only prove how incompetent is their stance.
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