Rabid and Goliath

It’s tempting to introduce a ‘sub-idiots’ tag, in order to do justice to this piece of blundering verbiage. It’s like watching a dead Siberian tiger being kicked savagely in the claw by a rabid dormouse.

Still, it gets one thing right. Democracy demands (immediately) that the GoP complete its abandonment of this awkward ‘capitalism’ business, in order to concentrate more fully on the touchy-feely stuff that people really care about.

March 31, 2013admin 15 Comments »
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15 Responses to this entry

  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    Wow. You would have thought they would at least have gotten Randal Howard Paul’s name right.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rand_Paul
    But I’m not sure this is sincere idiocy. It seems more dishonest than stupid.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    ” You would have thought they would at least have gotten Randal Howard Paul’s name right.” — Or Immanuel Kant’s.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 1st, 2013 at 3:25 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    No don’t tell me you respect Ayn Rand as a philosopher.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Compared to Nietzsche, no. Compared to Rawls, absolutely. Compared to Benjamin Kerstein — you’re joking, right?

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 1st, 2013 at 1:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • GW Says:

    Kerstein isn’t a philosopher.

    Rawls is certainly a much more impressive thinker than Rand. And Rawls’s thinking is much more reasonable from the viewpoint of libertarian social contract theory than Rand’s.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Rand has been the subject of a politically-motivated smear campaign because she defends capitalism. Her highly-individualist neo-Aristotelianism is at least as sound in its philosophical fundamentals as Rawls’ left-slanted sub-Kantianism, and if treated with the academic respect allotted to the latter, it would be at least as intellectually rewarding. Expecting such treatment from the Cathedral is, of course, ridiculous, but collaborating with its credentialing / framing exercise strikes me as misguided.

    [Reply]

    GW Reply:

    Rawls’s thinking is much more reasonable from the viewpoint of libertarian social contract theory than Rand’s. One can at least imagine some individual men coming to an agreement among themselves in some sort of “original position” or state of nature along the lines of Rawls’s conclusions. As unrealistic as it may be, it is much more sensible than what Rand asks us to believe as the basis for her conclusions – that “non-aggression” is “axiomatic”.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    ‘Axiomatic’ in this context just refers us to natural law, or game-theoretic consistency relative to human genetic inheritance (as Jim has explained so brilliantly). The idea of an original social contract is just a messier and more metaphorical route to the same destination.

    GW Reply:

    “Axiomatic” just means that it’s an axiom from which she derives her philosophy. An axiom is a premise that is supposed to just be accepted as true without controversy because it’s claimed to be so self-evident. I don’t see how anyone can believe that “non-aggression” is an axiom. And I don’t see how any philosophy based on objects incapable of aggression can be called “highly-individualist”. If you’re constitutionally incapable of aggression, you’re not really an individual.

    Posted on April 1st, 2013 at 8:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    I didn’t read the whole thing, but the Ayn cult strikes me as positively damaging.

    I start to get suspicious when people organize in a cult. Schopenhauer’s followers never did. Hegel’s on the other hand…

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Yes. she was a crazy, obnoxious cultist (and Schopenhauer had more dignity). Hegel didn’t need a cult, he had the State — and one occasion when Schopenhauer totally lost his lofty disdain was pointing this out.

    [Reply]

    Guncriminal Reply:

    Just out of interest, did this Ayn Rand cult ever actually exist? If so, in what form?

    Personally, I don’t buy it. Mainly because all the sources I’ve found on the subject are of similar or lower quality than the linked article.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    OK, in the absence of persuasive counter-argument, I’ll converge towards your suspicions. They fit the ‘two-minute-hate’ character of the orchestrated response to her work very well.

    Posted on April 1st, 2013 at 10:27 pm Reply | Quote
  • GW Says:

    Libertarian thought is founded on individual sovereignty. Individual sovereignty has a particular meaning that, if confused as it is by pseudo-libertarians, corrupts the foundation of libertarianism.

    We can construct a good foundation from the components of the phrase “individual sovereignty”, starting with “sovereignty”.

    “Sovereignty” is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a territory.

    When qualified by “individual”, we can say simply that: “Individual sovereignty” is the quality of individuals having supreme, independent authority over their own territory.

    To our civilized minds this may seem like an absurdity but it is easy to demonstrate that, except for eusocial animals, sexually reproducing species are naturally in a state of individual sovereignty. Clearly, “independent authority” cannot mean that an individual calls forth his own mass-energy-space-time from the void. These things are given.

    What, then, does “independent authority” mean?

    It is necessarily Malthusian:

    In competition for reproduction, it is individuals, rather than groups, that battle for limited resources—the primary resource being “territory”, or an ecological domain over which bio-available energy is concentrated.

    Humans, unlike other animals, are capable of entering into agreements with others. Until such agreements are reached, the pseudo-libertarian’s concept of “ownership” simply does not exist. They claim that you own yourself by virtue of exercising control over your own body and that “non-aggression” is “axiomatic”.

    No it is not.

    Aggression is axiomatic because aggression is part of nature. You own your body only to the extent that you can defend your body from aggression in individual combat—individual sovereign vs individual sovereign conflict over reproductive resources.

    So, right off the bat, they deny individual sovereignty by denying individual aggression in their axioms.

    Intellectual death before they start.

    Get individual sovereignty correct and you can start to understand how genuine legitimacy arises from true individual sovereignty.

    It is from the notion of a natural territory over which an individual, not a gang, is sovereign that is formed the “founders stock” of any society that claims to uphold “property rights” and collect fees to pay for the costs of upholding those “property rights”.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 5th, 2013 at 10:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ GW
    I’m not at all unsympathetic to what you’re arguing here, except in finding social contract theorizing equally unconvincing. It’s also worth noting that your criticism extends far beyond Rand to include almost all self-described ‘libertarian’ thinkers (which she, of course, was not).

    Is there anywhere (optimally, Internet accessible) where you lay out these ideas in detail?

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 5th, 2013 at 10:28 pm Reply | Quote

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