Ishpeck's Criticism of Rothbard's Criticism of Randians

Having always been a bit antagonistic towards the pretentiously- (and I would even argue ironically-) named "Objectivism," I was eager to read Murray Rothbard's critique of them here.

Alas, Rothbard did nothing to actually expose the problems of Objectivism itself but spent a great deal of time in an inane narrative of his distaste for Objectivists.

The problems he describes in that brain-dump really aren't unique to the Ayn Rand cult. These things can often be said of any group and, indeed, are said about by many outsiders of any group.

While I would never touch Objectivist culture with a ten foot pole, I do not really see anything dark or sinister in it. I don't even know if they really are hypocritical in the way Rothbard claims – even though I don't really care to vest much effort in refuting the accusation he makes. Probably my prejudice talking.

Still they were a society made up of consenting individuals, whose tenets were their own, who did not enforce them on unwilling parties, who were trying to affect a societal change by adopting a culture with those values that they thought were most condusive to the desired change. I really have nothing against that. Then again, I also have nothing against religion so making the comparison between Randians and Scientologists may not quite be the epithet in my mind that it is in the minds of others.

Tha Murray mentioned that whole greedy side of Randian culture and their propensity to extract fed notes from members by talking them into subscribing to a magazine is especially strange to me. Why does that matter in the least? If people value the words of Objectivist writers, why is asking them to pay for them really such a big deal? Marginal utility's a whacky thing – and I would'a expected Murray Rothbard, of all people, to get that.

That the group tried to enforce some kind of ideological purity is also not astonishing nor meaningful. There are worse things in life than being expelled from a group — even if the criteria of doing so are not all that clear or coherent. I don't consider this to be a fault on the part of Objectivism.

Now the document does hint at the idea that anybody who claims to be the soul proprietors of reality is going to be terribly difficult to reason with. It's true that statists of all stripse tend to do precisely this but it is also the case that most will do so in a subliminal way rather than making this claim as ostensible as the cult of Rand did.

It might be because I'm actually incapable of rational thought but my heuristic has been that those who protect their beliefs against my dissent by questioning my ability to think rationally only do so because they are not, in fact, backed by reality.

Objectivism, according to my experience, is summed up in the following way:

  1. Objective reality exists and is knowable
  2. I presume myself to be a part of objective reality.
  3. I believe a certain set of things
  4. Because my beliefs are a part of me and therefore a part of objective reality, my beliefs are objectively true.

It seems silly to me. This is an actual criticism of Objectivism, tho', and not a meaningless smear on human cultural tendencies as we find in Rothbard's work. Because I am not an Objectivist, I'm still totally willing to hear arguments as to why my criticism/understanding of either Randians or Rothbard is wrong.

Date: 2012-11-04 14:06

Author: Anthony "Ishpeck" Tedjamulia

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