Would Objectivism be more widely accepted had Ayn Rand been a man?

Posted by coaldigger 3 years, 8 months ago to Philosophy
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Maybe this would not be true today but in 1957 I think a female philosopher would have had a more difficult time being taken seriously outside of LA and New York. Even Bennett Cerf didn't think much of her ideology but thought the book might make a little money.

I think that one has to reject altruism in every form starting with religion to accept Objectivism and that is the greatest hurdle since modern humans exhibited some for of religion since their exodus from Africa 50,000 years ago. Female prophets have been fewer in number and less influential than their male counterparts and I think this has been a part of the hurdle. Her successors, Brandon and Peikoff were too cerebral and competitive with each other to make her works a popular message, leaving acceptance in scattered enclaves.


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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 3 years, 8 months ago
    Actually, being female probably gave Rand an edge, as a female philosopher is rare. Women authors with real talent have been well received for the last couple of centuries.

    It isn't so much prejudice that makes the appearance of women in professional life historically rare, but the biological fact that only women can bear children, which occupies a lot of time. Women with determination have been able to capture the reins of power in seemingly impossible situations. Hatshepsut seized the throne of ancient Egypt, in an era when only men were supposed to be the pharaoh, as one example. Sarah Breedlove, otherwise known as Madam C.J. Walker, daughter of a slave, was the first American female millionaire, as another.

    I think Ayn Rand herself would have laughed at the idea she was hampered by her sex. She would have told you it was her unsettling message that upset people.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 8 months ago
    You are likely right. In the 50s and 60s being a woman writing a novel with strong philosophical underpinnings would have been, at best, considered pretentious, and something to mock. I admit that I am somewhat guilty of that because I published a graphic novel called "Elvius Shrugged" in which we stole the basic plot, but substituted show biz characters for the Atlas characters. John Galt was Elvis, and there were Frank Sinatra, as well as famous entertainers of the day. Unlike others, it was done with love and a tribute expressed directly to Rand. The last time I admitted to this, someone tore me a new one, But if you read it, you'll find that is a homage and not a http://parody.In any case, being a very old codger, I was a kid when the Fountainhead movie came out and I went to see it and bought a soft cover copy, mostly because the name of the author fascinated me. I had no idea she was a little Russian lady who spoke with an accent exactly like my grandpa's.
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  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 3 years, 8 months ago
    NO!...plain and simple.
    Most people are not objective (religious or non religious)...makes no difference who or what suggests otherwise.

    All of us here put no stock into whether the philosophy comes from a male or female.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 years, 8 months ago
    I doubt it. Her message was just too unconventional for many people. (But I am amused by one comment at the radio station after Galt's speech, made, I think, by Ma Chalmers:"Women don't go for all that intellectual stuff. You can count on the women.")
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    • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
      Yes, most people were too conventional to hear her message (or only down to a certain point). Also, modern intellectuals didn't (and do not) only refuse to take Ayn Rand's philosophy seriously, but any integrated system of thought, not only Rand's principles, but any integration of concepts, not only her ideas, but any integration of percepts (their view being that the sense are not valid).
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      • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 years, 7 months ago
        I remember looking at an old copy of MAD maga-
        zine and someone(at_ PLAYBOY_) talking to Hugh Hefner and say-
        ing something about his proposing to carry more intellectual ideas; and then (this is a memory quote) "Do you really think our audience will dig a full-color layout of Ayn Rand?" When I first read it, I simply did not understand it, as I had no idea of who Ayn Rand was, I didn't even know whether it was a man's or a woman's name, and I didn't see the point of the joke. When I looked it over again later, I understood. Of course, there was an inter-
        view, and I don't think she would have posed for a centerfold. But then people did like to throw mud at her, especially now that she's dead and can't come back to defend herself. (I mean that this joke appeared in MAD, I don't buy PLAYBOY).
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  • Posted by chad 3 years, 8 months ago
    For me it made no difference at all. The first time I heard of Ayn Rand people had told me that she was a witch and that was her philosophy and I was not interested until a woman friend of mine read one of her books and told me that wasn't true at all and referred me to one of her books. After reading one I purchased all that I could find and followed her work closely. I think if you are an objectivist or looking for such work it won't make any difference.
    I think what makes her work difficult to accept is that most people have a view of altruism whether promoted by the state, their religion or their political party and this makes it very difficult for them to accept her work and reconcile what they already believe to be true.
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  • Posted by $ mshupe 3 years, 8 months ago
    I don't think it would have mattered. She was able to piss off everyone who had committed themselves to an altruism based system of one kind or another. We the Living couldn't find a publisher because communism was popular. Atlas couldn't find a publisher because communism by another name was popular.
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  • Posted by 3 years, 7 months ago
    Yeah, I don't think Ayn Rand's sex had anything to do with it either but in today's climate gender is the best way to get a discussion going.

    My experience with Objectivists is that they are absolutists in that if something has been proven by empirical evidence, by observation, by reason then any fool should see it, agree and proceed accordingly without guidance. Only a few people are wired to do this naturally and due to the mental effort required, many would rather accept what others have concluded on faith. The problem is that we have to occupy this planet with everyone else and we are too few. Past civilizations have controlled the lazy, the uninformed and the stupid by coercion, either by scaring them or brute force.

    Ayn Rand saw America with the principles of Representative Democracy and Capitalism as a beacon of reason and individual liberty. America seemed to be the hope for mankind and she provided a clear means to realizing that potential instead of falling into the abyss of altruism like most of the world. Unfortunately, she came to this conclusion on her own, by her own will and viewed anyone that could not accept her philosophy instantly in its entirety as a dolt and told them so.

    The spokesmen for Objectivism that I follow are cut from the same cloth as Rand and are against anything that is not Objectivist purity. Incremental progress is hateful to them and they reject any notion of it. The enemy however thrives on every chip they can take no matter how small. Progressives want the state to regulate toothpicks as much as they want to regulate energy. It is all the same. Chip away freedom where ever it is found, no matter how big or small and it will all add up to complete control. Objectivists think big but are being killed by a thousand tiny cuts. Collectivism is a regression in human organization and was only able to coexist with individual freedom in hunter-gather societies. It takes external force to move anything into an unnatural state and to make modern society work under collectivism, the state must have total power and has to murder those it cannot control.

    My premise is that we are in a life of death struggle and unless a movement emerges that can incrementally change the path we are on, all of the progress in the history of the modern world is in jeopardy. A movement requires a leader, a prophet, a teacher, communicator, a charismatic figure to inform and inspire the majority not just a few hard heads demanding overnight change.
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  • Posted by term2 3 years, 8 months ago
    I would say that AR acted very rationally and to the point, and not at all like a bimbo airhead woman, as was the "typical" woman of the time.

    Her ideas met with the same hatred from the establishment as would be expected from any man. The establishment took her ideas seriously, which is why they hated her and demonized her work.
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  • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 8 months ago
    I've often wondered the opposite. Long before I ever read or heard of Ayn Rand, the first writer that strongly affected my world-view was anarcho-feminist Ursula K. Le Guin.

    Ironically, it was reading Atlas Shrugged that forever cured me of those anarchic/mystical delusions.
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    • Posted by $ jdg 3 years, 7 months ago
      That's funny, I thought The Dispossessed did a wonderful job of disproving the ideas it sought to champion.
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      • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
        Well, it's "ambiguous." Are the walls built to keep us out or in? In Dispossessed Anarres is the literary equivalent of Galt's Gulch. But in Atlas Shrugged, Anarres is the equivalent of Starnesville.

        From the Wikipedia article: {[Shevik, the novel's protagonist] says, “You are all in jail. Each alone, solitary, with a heap of what he owns. You live in prison, die in prison. It is all I can see in your eyes – the wall, the wall!” It is not just the state of mind of those inside the prisons that concerns Shevek, he also notes the effect on those outside the walls. Steve Grossi says, ‘by building a physical wall to keep the bad in, we construct a mental wall keeping ourselves, our thoughts, and our empathy out, to the collective detriment of all." Shevek himself later says, “those who build walls are their own prisoners.”}

        Reminiscent of Anthem's collectivist society's censure of the self-referential "I," on Anarres {the use of the possessive case is strongly discouraged, a feature that also is reflected by the novel's title. Children are trained to speak only about matters that interest others; anything else is "egoizing" (pp. 28–31). There is no property ownership of any kind. Shevek's daughter, upon meeting him for the first time, tells him, "You can share the handkerchief I use" rather than "You may borrow my handkerchief", thus conveying the idea that the handkerchief is not owned by the girl, but is merely used by her.}

        You see, it is the moral premise---not it's practical or psychological consequences that makes all the difference. There are amazing parallels between the two, but on fundamentals the two women were diametric opposites (Rand the Neo-Aristotlean individualist, Le Guin the Taoist, Neo-Platonic collectivist).

        I kind of feel like Shevek myself, only I finally turned my back on the world of Anarres completely, resolving instead to fight for the Atlantean principles of Urras (as it could be and should be).
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  • Posted by Mamaemma 3 years, 8 months ago
    I think so. This is my personal opinion based on my life experiences. I think human beings are hard wired in such a way that the impact of her philosophy would have more if she had been a male. At the same time, any individual who can understand and embrace Objectivism could care less about the gender of the originator. Very interesting question, coaldigger. Good one
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    • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
      Objectivists reason, not from "experience,' but from observation. Any individual CAN understand Objectivism precisely because we are NOT hardwired in such a way (we're born tabula rasa).

      Your statement (as worded) implies pragmatism and is self-contradictory (the third and fourth sentences specifically). It is pragmatism that takes "experience" as axiomatic.
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      • Posted by Mamaemma 3 years, 7 months ago
        You are correct, and that’s why I said it was an interesting question. I entered a male dominated profession (99.9%) in the mid-seventies, and my observations have been that gender makes a significant difference to the majority of people. I still observe that to be true, although to a lesser extent at this time. The reality is that Objectivists are and always will be a small percentage of the population.
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 3 years, 7 months ago
    No one else could have put forth the philosophy of "Objectivism" other than Ayn Rand. It seems that being a woman made it even harder for most people to understand her books and philosophy.
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  • Posted by $ Stormi 3 years, 8 months ago
    Rand had a sense of pure season, and how to present it, that her male successors just don't project. Rand was first suggested to my by a male professor. I have never been one to pick a work by gender, despite college attempts to get me in woemn's studies, unsuccessfully. Ran, from the first reading made perfect sense. I had never heard life as it should be expressed so perfectly. What she said, was the essence of life as I had been taught to live it. She got it. I have met men who embraced her thought, and others who were scared to death by it. It was too hard for them, they were too weak. I don't think even a man could have soothed theri fears.
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    • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
      Pure season? If you meant "pure reason," Ayn Rand endorsed reason (as the human faculty "that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by his senses") as an absolute requirement for sustaining one's life, one's only tool of survival, one's "only means of gaining knowledge," or of achieving one's happiness.

      The gender distinction in the realm of ideas and their role in human survival is completely lost on me. Gender is a concrete, and it matters on a personal (not ideational) level. (I.e., you must experience your values in some form, but may experience them in any form appropriate to your biological nature as a male or female human being.

      "Race," plays no rational role whatsoever. So her being female was important to her as a person (as distinct from her philosophy), while her slavic or semitic ancestry was not.
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      • Posted by $ Stormi 3 years, 7 months ago
        Well put, and so true. Unfortunately, the world is now controlled by people whose goal has been to convince others they need to be defined by their denotations, not by their own sense of who they should be and their own reason.From grad school on, children are remade to be less in touch with who they are inside, and more in compliance with the liberal agenda.More and more, men are denigrated and we females are given some false victimhood and sense of entitlement. Colleges no longer act as if ideas matter, but if a feminist prestnted them. This female is really sick of the whole state of affairs.
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  • Posted by DarcieKSalmon 3 years, 8 months ago
    Either a yes or no answer is immaterial as the question allows for only an answer that would be a fallacy of relevancy as Ayn Rand was a woman. As such the premise cannot be tested.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 8 months ago
    I do not know the answer to this interesting question. I think it says something that people don't think of her as "a woman philosopher".

    It seems to me people tell women sacrifice is a virtue more than they tell that to men. (That's just a feeling; I don't have evidence.) But if I'm right about that, Rand could be seen as "feminist" because she's an example of a woman who says she's putting her desires first.
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    • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 8 months ago
      By the creed of altruism, women are expected to sacrifice in other ways (e.g., as "nurturers") than are men (e.g., as "bread-winners").
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  • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 8 months ago
    "I think that one has to reject ... religion to accept Objectivism"

    I agree, and I think that's why it will never be a mainstream philosophy.

    "Female prophets..."

    Not sure why this even becomes an issue. If you're going to denounce religion, you're going to denounce prophets as well - male or female - because the primary role of a prophet is as a spiritual leader who converses with the divine. Why cast Ayn Rand as a "prophet" in the first place? Doesn't make any sense to me...

    "Brandon and Peikoff were too cerebral and competitive..."

    Another reason why Objectivism will never be a mainstream philosophy. You can't fracture a movement and then expect it to stay together. There has to be clear and unambiguous leadership and I don't think that exists in Objectivism, whereas Buddhism has the Dalai Lama, Catholicism has the Pope, Marxism has Marx and Stalin and now Bernie Sanders, and the Democratic Party has George Soros and the Clintons (though the Obamas would love to steal that mantle). I would point out that probably the only reason Islam hasn't completely dominated the globe is because early on it fractured into Sunni and Shiite based on claims to leadership and authority which have had them at perpetual war for more than a millennia.
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    • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
      Objectivism is a philosophy, not a "movement." You fracture (or split from) a movement to preserve the structural integrity of the philosophy (or religion) you adhere to. (Ideas, not personalities.)

      Ayn Rand is the authority over, not "the movement," but the philosophy she fully explicated. Applications must be judged on that basis alone (or you end up with a philosophy not of principles but of attitudes, of disintegration rather than integration).
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      • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 7 months ago
        One can't have a movement without a philosophical backing neither can one act without philosophical value judgments to base those actions on. They are two sides of the same coin. If a philosophy fractures, it is because of differences in the philosophy - which is precisely what happened with Brandon and Piekoff.

        That's why leadership is important: you have to have someone to assume the role of the founder and prevent fractures. That was Peter's role after Christ died - until he was martyred and Christianity fragmented. Islam split because two sons claimed right of authority and split into Sunni and Shia (and later added Wahab and Baathism). Judaism fractured when the Jews were taken captive by other civilizations and now you have several sub-sects of the Jewish religion. You can argue that fascism, socialism, and communism are all facets or fractures of the same ideology as well - an ideology of elitism and control.
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        • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
          I think you're still equivocating between a philosophy and its presumptive "leaders." Brandon, Kelley et al split from the philosophy because they were not Objectivists, they disagreed with it. Remember, Objectivism is not "the philosophy of Leonard Peikoff." Dr. Peikoff is a (many would say >the<) leading authority on Objectivism because he DOES consistently agree with Ayn Rand's philosophy.

          Another (as yet far less known) leading authority on Objectivism is philosopher Charles Tew, who has roundly denounced the Atlas Society skeptics here: https://youtu.be/Bp_8a91wjNQ

          I especially like the point he makes at 4:30 on "the connection between skepticism and disintegration":

          "If you think you might always be wrong about something, then you're not going to put things together, you're not going to interconnect things, because then if one thing falls the rest falls over.

          "So you are going to disintegrate habitually to save yourself from the constant overturning that's taking place, or that you expect to take place as a skeptic.

          "And this is exactly what the Atlas Society does: 'No [they say] Objectivism isn't a system, it's just a collection of ideas, and it's really whatever we want to believe it is. It's really a synonym for "truth." So if Ayn Rand was wrong about "free will" then we can throw out "free will" and keep the rest.'

          "Now that is not necessarily a dishonest position. You could believe that some part of Ayn Rand's philosophy is wrong. But to believe that and then to promote yourself as an Objectivist, as an advocate of her philosophy, is dishonest and immoral."

          On the issue of Christianity, I will recommend the Valliant/Fahy book: "Creating Christ: How Roman Emperors Invented Christianity" available for $6 on Kindle: http://a.co/d/1Q9pbUl
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          • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 7 months ago
            I think you're still equivocating between a philosophy and its presumptive "leaders."

            Equivocating means trying to play both sides or waffling between them. I have clearly delineated that there is the philosophy 1 but that without leadership, the philosophy dies off, 2. I would ask you to explain where you see in this any measure of equivocation or why this was worthy of a downvote. Part of debate is hearing things you don't necessarily agree with.

            I still believe that authority is key, however, to the perpetuation of any philosophy. The fact that I had never heard of most of those individuals you mention is evidence to me that there is little or no real leadership among Objectivists. Now I fully agree that part of the Objectivist creed in many ways belies strong leadership (which is why I bring up John Galt) but the question is how does Objectivism expand. The answer is that there must be a concerted effort, and concerted effort always requires leadership to get that done. It isn't a philosophical issue with Objectivism to me nearly as much as just a structural/organizational issue.

            Please note also that I do not equate leadership with homage or payment of fees necessarily. I do equate leadership with vision, organization, and motivation. However much I despise the ethics of people like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, they are effective leaders. I can't think of many on the Republican side that exude the same kind of charisma, which may account for their seeming lack of uniformity.
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            • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
              You're right. It's not equivocation. But neither is it a case of needing something more. Ours is a revolutionary philosophy that stands (or falls) on its own, in toto. So long as Ayn Rand's books are in print there is "leadership" and any number of groups may spring up or die off as people who "get it" in one way or another attract others to their own area of emphasis.

              As far as an overall umbrella organization for the philosophy is concerned, that is and always has been the Ayn Rand Institute, which prevents no one from seeking inspiration or application elsewhere.

              Other groups have formed out (or in at least one case against) ARI, but whoever holds the rights is in fact in authority for now and until some organization(s) gain the rights to Ayn Rand's estate.

              I personally think every actual Objectivist is their own authority and should be organizing that authority on whatever scale they are able or willing (such as starting a Meetup group (DC has a big one), Youtube channel (e.g., Charles Tew's), Campus Club (e.g., STRIVE), Special Interest Group (e.g., Alex Epstein's).... The list is potentially endless.

              I apologize for downvotes which I flick too quickly to simply signal (some) disagreement. But this is not FB and I should be more judicious less impulsive. Good post, sir. :-)
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          • Posted by EgoPriest 3 years, 7 months ago
            I actually think James Valliant is the go-to Objectivist on both issues. The principle conflict he thoroughly documents in Part 1 of his book, "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens": http://a.co/d/jd87Ihj -- which is currently available used for as low as $11.14 (or new for $38.95), and is as indispensable a dramatic concretization of the philosophy in a real world context as was Atlas Shrugged in a literary context.

            Part 2 of that book is Ayn Rand's private journal documenting the injustice she endured at the time the charade was being committed.
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    • Posted by teri-amborn 3 years, 7 months ago
      Actually the word "prophet" simply means:
      1) To foretell
      or:
      2) To forth tell

      I think that the word "prophet" is very applicable to Ayn. Anyone who can think in abstractions like she could certainly would be considered to be prophetic.

      I think thay words are often given religious meaning when they aren't religious at all.
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      • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 7 months ago
        "I think thay words are often given religious meaning when they aren't religious at all."

        Actually, given that atheism is a very recent development in human history, I would argue that you have that backwards: most words were religious before modern atheism attempted to secularize them. The Oracle at Delphi was called a "prophetess" because her duty was to speak the will of the Gods to the people. In Hebrew the word prophet always meant someone who communicated with God on behalf of the people - Moses being the prime example. The key was that their knowledge of the future - and thus their "forthtelling" was a divine gift - not mortal prescience. That's why were Rand here herself, I believe she would object strongly to being characterized as such.
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    • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 years, 8 months ago
      I think that Objectivism can, eventually, become a mainstream philosophy, but more has to be done; it is not a matter of people's following a personal leader; it is a matter of ideas. And if there are enough "professional intellectuals" who create enough works of their own, it can inspire people, eventually.
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      • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 8 months ago
        "more has to be done" (emphasis mine)

        I completely agree. It is more than a matter of mere ideas - there has to be a certain passion or conviction behind the ideas which inspire the sharing of those ideas with others (beyond works of fiction). And there has to be some end in mind beyond mere intellectual stimulation for it to affect any but the fringe academic. When Objectivism can define THAT and a real life John Galt steps forward to advance that vision, only then can it begin to expand and become mainstream. Every major religion or philosophy has had it - from the Ancient Greeks to modern Marxism and everything in between. In marketing speak, there has to be a "hook" somewhere - something that compels the audience to action. What is the hook Objectivism offers? (If someone could kindly rewrite Galt's speech down to something digestible in 10 pages that would be a good start.)
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        • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 years, 7 months ago
          Well, there were different people involved in the Renaissance. And it progressed. And I think it was what led to the Protestant Reformation. And then there was a lot of splitting off, but still the Enlighten-
          ment occurred.
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          • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 7 months ago
            Yes, there were a plethora of people involved in the Renaissance. I hesitate to categorize it as an idea or movement, however, as it is more properly a time period. The Protestant Reformation was an actual movement which took place within the Renaissance period. During the Protestant Reformation there were various individual leaders such as Calvin, Luther, Wesley, et al who all put out different ideas. It was hardly a joint effort, however: their primary commonality was their disgust for the Catholic Church - not their doctrine. That's why there are dozens+ of Protestant versions of Christianity running around now - offshoots or derivatives of those original leaders - many of which (with a few notable exceptions) have disintegrated over time.

            What is interesting to note is that despite the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church remains the single largest Christian sect. I don't think that would have happened without the leadership position of Pope. Even the Orthodox Churches (Greek and Russian) went to a single leader with the title of "Archbishop" because the council of bishops which formed their original leadership structures proved too divisive and unwieldy. We could look at a host of other similar leadership-driven organizations from Red China to North Korea to Stalinist Russia to Hitler's Germany to see other examples where leadership is (or was) everything.

            If we look at Atlas Shrugged, I think that Rand portrayed Galt as the leader intentionally. Indeed, Galt served as the rallying cry when imprisoned and galvanized the rest to action, and was the original impetus behind the formation and population of Atlantis in the first place. Where the phrase "who is John Galt?" is more typically used to indicate a kind of tongue-in-cheek recognition that bad policy leads to bad results, it could also be a rallying cry to the Objectivist to find a John Galt-type character to organize and lead the Objectivist movement.
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