Sunday, March 20, 2016

Further Thoughts on Late-Stage Objectivism

In the language I quoted in the previous post from Rand, she referred to Arabs (Muslims I assume is what she had in mind) as "savages."  She also said harsh things about American Indians as well.  With respect to Indians she said, "why should you respect the 'rights" they don't have or respect?"   [Ayn Rand Answers, p. 103, emphasis added.]  I'm not saying I completely agree with Rand in her description of Arabs and Indians, but her point is that Indians didn't have "rights" because rights are culturally contingent, so to speak.  So the next time someone tells you that Rand supported "open immigration,"* remember that Rand wasn't speaking in the context of mass third world and Islamic immigration.

Here's Biddle:

The only culture to which anyone can have a right is a culture of respect for and protection of individual rights. Fortunately for those who love and want to preserve American culture, the principle of individual rights is the basic principle of that culture; respect for that principle is an essential characteristic of a true American; and foreigners who immigrate to America, for the most part, embody that characteristic.

Note the separation of culture and "respect for and protection of individual rights."  Freedom has been rare in history.  It arose in only a few places after a long cultural gestation.  There is no reason to think that a free country can survive a massive influx of people from non-rights respecting culture.  Biddle does claim that immigrants "for the most part" accept individual rights.  But if what if they don't?  In any event, there has been large third world immigration into the US and Islamic immigration into Europe.  There is enough data to make a judgment, but nowhere do Brook, Biddle and Binswanger discuss this.  The evidence is incresingly coming in that immigrants don't.  To take one example, the Washington Post recently gloated that thanks to massive immigration, the Second Amendment will go to the way of the Do Do. **

And Late-Stage Objectivism combines the neo-con belief that it's always 1933 and that Jews are always in great threat of their freedom.  So Brook and Binswanger believe Israel should keep out Etheopians and Eritreans while the United States should allow almost unlimited entry.
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* As Mark Hunter (ARI Watch) points out, Rand didn't write anything on immigration.

** The standard open immigration argument is that citizenship should be limited.  But under the Constitution, as interpeted by the Supreeme Court, if you are born in the US then you are a citizen. So the immigrants' children, who are likely to share their parents values, will be citizens and the end result will be the same.

A Theory of Late-Stage Objectivism

Europe is currently undergoing a tax payer funded Islamic invasion. The effects are clear: the rape of women and children, crime, terrorism, the general unpleasantness of life* caused by the presence of large number of people whose loyalty is to Islamic religion.

The entire Objectivist world has been largely silent on the cultural transformation Europe is undergoing at the hands of Muhammad's children. The only Objectivist I know who has discussed the abuse of women is Yaron Brook. Brook blamed the attacks on native women in Sweden and Germany not on Islam, but on the police. He specifically denied that Islam is a misogynistic religion which encourages abusive behavior toward women. He is not concerned about Europe becoming Islamic, but Europe becoming fascist with the Muslims being thrown into concentration camps.

Why would Brook say such things, given the 1400 year track record of Islam? Why would such a champion of "uncompromising individualism" not blame the perpetrators and the culture from which they sprung, but instead blame the police?

A few years ago a Vlogger who called himself Fringe Elements (I believe he now goes by the name "Ryan Faulk") presented a fascinating theory: human beings have an innate desire to hate. So whom should liberals hate the most? Of course it should be Muslims. Islam is the most "racist, sexist and homophobic" religion the world has ever seen. But the Left can't hate Muslims, because Muslims are a minority. Instead, the Left hates the bigots.

Yaron Brook, then, is basically following the Leftist narrative. Muslims are a minority and to the extent that they behave poorly, it is not their fault - it's the fault of (what's left of) Western Civilization for failing to assimilate them, deter them from committing crime, and giving them welfare. The people Brook hates are the bigots and fascists who actually believe that Muslim misbehavior might have something to do with Islam.
Harry Binswanger is another Leftist. He supports open immigration of Muslims into Europe (he exempts Israel, according to a former member of his HBList). Opposition to mass immigration of Muslims is based on racism. "I’m very afraid that the actual reason for limiting immigration is xenophobia, which is simply a polite word for racial bigotry."** And Binswanger can't bring himself to have a particular dislike of Islam: "I don't believe that Islam is any more violent than Christianity was when Christianity was at the same stage (i.e., pre- Enlightenment)."

I could quote similar comments from Amy Peikoff, Craig Biddle and others, but I'll save the effort. The point is clear: Objectivists are not fighting the Left, they are the Left.

Late-stage Objectivism is a combination of Peikoff style analysis (Kant is evil and leads to fascism) and the contemporary Leftist oppressor/oppressed narrative. ***
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* Here is a recent description of Molenbeek, Belgium (where the mastermind of the Paris attacks was able to live for 4 months without detection):

"Over nine years, as I witnessed the neighborhood become increasingly intolerant. Alcohol became unavailable in most shops and supermarkets; I heard stories of fanatics at the Comte des Flandres metro station who pressured women to wear the veil; Islamic bookshops proliferated, and it became impossible to buy a decent newspaper. With an unemployment rate of 30 percent, the streets were eerily empty until late in the morning. Nowhere was there a bar or café where white, black and brown people would mingle. Instead, I witnessed petty crime, aggression, and frustrated youths who spat at our girlfriends and called them 'filthy whores.' If you made a remark, you were inevitably scolded and called a racist. There used to be Jewish shops on Chaussée de Gand, but these were terrorized by gangs of young kids and most closed their doors around 2008. Openly gay people were routinely intimidated, and also packed up their bags."

**Admittedly this wasn't in the context of Islamic immigration, but nowhere does Binswanger exempt opposition to Islamic immigration from his discussion.
*** Compare Rand: "The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are still practically nomads. Their culture is primitive . . . [they are] savages." [Ayn Rand Answers, page 96.]

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ten Steps to End Jihad in the West, II

In step number 8, Biddle says as follows, "Answer objections to the effect that 'This approach will fuel more jihad!' with observations as to why that makes no sense. Claims to the effect that 'killing jihadists will cause more jihad' are absurd; and, when such objections arise, we should point out why this is so"

Well, framed this way it is absurd.  However, as Biddle must know, this is not the argument.  The argument starts with the fact that there are several million Muslims in the United States and over 40 million Muslims in Europe.  A small number are inclined toward Jihad and there are millions of fence sitters and millions who are opposed.  Assume that the West takes military action against Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.  The Jihadists will continue to engage in Jihad and the fence sitters will become radicalized.

Look at the situation in France.  In France, Muslims riot every year on New Years eve.  Last year in Paris they burned over 900 cars.  The Algerian Muslims riot if Algeria qualifies for the World Cup (or doesn't qualify for the World Cup).

And contrary to what Biddle seems to think, it doesn't take any kind of guidance from Saudi Arabia to riot and kill.  Consider the Los Angeles riots in 1992.  According to Wikipedia, 55 were killed and 2.00 injured.

One issue that I think is worth mentioning is "Sudden Jihadi Syndrome."  Many of the Muslims who commit acts of terrorism were, shortly before their attacks, rather nominal Muslims.  For example, the Chattanooga shooter was a user of alcohol and drugs until his shortly before his murder of five Americans.  (Sudden Jihadi syndrome might have a biological basis.)  So the prospect of large scale "conversion" of Muslims to Jihadism is quite likely.*
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*Biddle in fact goes out of his way to avoid mentioning immigration.  "Muslims who attack Westerners because we killed jihadists who murdered our countrymen were already with the enemy and are now just making it known"  This makes it sound as if the "Muslims" are people who secretly entered into the West.  In fact, they were people who were allowed to come here legally or are (in the case of French terrorists) often second or even third generation residents of France.

Ten Steps to End Jihad in the West, I

Craig Biddle has a lengthy article with this title in The Objective Standard.  I'll make a few comments.

"The relationship between Islam and our current military enemy is essentially of the same kind as the relationship between Nazism and Nazi Germany or Shinto and Imperialist Japan in World War II. Nazism is an ideology, a body of ideas; Nazi Germany was a state ruled by a regime that was motivated by its leaders’ and supporters’ acceptance of those ideas. Shinto is a religion; Imperialist Japan was a state ruled by a regime that was motivated by its leaders’ and supporters’ acceptance of that religion. Likewise, Islam is a religion; various states, regimes, and groups today are motivated by their leaders’ and supporters’ and members’ acceptance of that religion."

All analogies break down sooner or later, and this one breaks down quickly.  While I don't know much about Shintoism, Nazism was an aberration in German history and wasn't ingrained in the minds of Germans. Also, Japan and Germany were industrialized countries. Once the war was over, the people there just wanted to get on with their lives. More importantly, the allegiance of the Muslim is not to Saudi Arabia, Iran, or any of the 49 countries that have a majority Islamic population.  The allegiance of the Muslim is to the Ummah, the spiritual Islamic nation.   Saudi Arabia and Iran could be bombed, its rulers converted to Quakerism or what have you and that would not change the Muslims' obligation to engage in Jihad.


Certainly Biddle can't explain (or doesn't even try to explain) why acts of terrorism in the West would cease if a better or more aggressive foreign policy were implemented.   Consider the San Bernadino, California terrorists. They were of Pakistani descent.  The guy had a decent job and the couple a six-month old baby. For whatever the flaws of the West, it gives Muslims a better chance for a happy life but for Muslims this just creates on big chip on their shoulder.

A couple of years ago, a Jihadist in France got into his car and ran a dozen people over.  Does Biddle think this person would not have engaged in this attack if the United States had a better foreign policy?  It certainly doesn't take funding from an Islamic nation to run people over.  Nor will Biddle tell us how his ten steps will end the rape Jihad in Europe, an issue on which he has been completely silent.

Of course, Biddle takes this position because he refuses to discuss the relationship between Islamic immigration into the West and terrorism.  In fact, Biddle appears to support "open immigration" of Muslims into the West and (I assume) Israel.*

One argument which I've heard open immigration Objectivists make is that destroying Saudi Arabia or Iran would demoralize Muslims and discourage them from engaging in Jihad.  Biddle appears to take this position as well:

"[I]n the wake of a campaign of total destruction of Islamic regimes and jihadist groups that have attacked us in the name of an allegedly all-powerful 'Allah,' even the dimmest mullahs and jihadists who escaped destruction would have to wonder whether Allah is as great and powerful as they had assumed. They might even begin to doubt his existence. 'If Allah is not willing or able to save us or our regimes from the retaliatory wrath of the West,' they might wonder, 'then maybe he’s not all he’s cracked up to be . . .' The more intelligent survivors might make substantially deeper and broader connections: 'Maybe, instead of serving Allah, we should serve ourselves. Maybe we should do what those triumphant, wealthy, happy Westerners do, and go by reason rather than faith; be productive rather than destructive; pursue life and happiness rather than death and martyrdom; establish rights-respecting republics rather than rights-violating theocracies . . .'

Islam has been around for 1,400 years and Biddle gives no examples from Islamic history where its defeats have prompted a rethinking of the Muslim's allegiance to his faith. Consider the failure of Islam. Yes, it has had its periods of success (the Arabs early on and also the Turks), but relatively soon the religion was on the retreat militarily, culturally and scientifically. Even the more populous Arab states couldn't prevent the creation of Israel in 1948. If any thing, this made the Muslims more bitter. Grant Jones observes that radical Islam emerged out the defeat of Islam in the early 20th century:

"Islam has suffered many devastating military set-backs from the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 to the slaughter of the Mahdi’s forces at Omdurman in 1898. From the ashes of numerous defeats, Islamic conquest, in its many forms, rebounded once the victors became tired, soft or converted. Biddle seems unaware that it is for this very reason that the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928. Hassan al-Banna’s purpose was to revitalize Islamic resolve after the overwhelming defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The Caliphate was dissolved and large sections of the Moslem world were under foreign domination. This disaster did not 'deflate their motivations to kill.' Instead, the Islamists became ever more vicious, as their alliance with Nazi Germany makes clear."
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*Under open immigration, Europe would gradually become Islamic.  As the Muslim population increases support for military action would decrease.  Eventually Europe would become majority Muslim, with its armies and nuclear weapons under Islamic control.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Objectivist Roundup - March



Scott Ryan, author of Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality  has passed away. See Ed Feser’s tribute here.

Check Your Premises (the blog of the pro-ARI Ayn Rand Society) has published Harry Binswanger’s 1977 response to Robert Nozick concerning his “On the Randian Argument.”

The Huffington Post wonders if Donald Trump is an Objectivist.

The snoozefest known as The Objective Standard has published a collection of writings about Ayn Rand.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Objectivist Roundup - February



There are forty-nine countries where Muslims are in the majority and Craig Biddle can’t wait to nuke ‘em all.

Former Ayn Rand associates Allan Blumenthal and Joan Mitchell Blumenthal self-published some books in 2013.

You’re 50 years young Objectivism – and it’s time for a reboot.

The Gotthelf and Salmieri Companion to Ayn Rand is out.  I have a preliminary review.

The increasingly ARI-dominated Ayn Rand Society has a new blog, Check Your Premises (not to be confused with the anti-Diana Hsieh web site).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Companion to Ayn Rand - Preliminary Review

Ayn Rand was a novelist and philosopher who has never gotten her due. Perhaps it is because of her unfashionable ideas (laissez-faire capitalism and rational selfishness) or perhaps it is because of her polemical style. Nonetheless, her ideas are often unique and well worth studying. So it’s good to see a study of her work in the prestigious Blackwell Companions series. I haven’t read the entire book, but have a few preliminary comments.

1. The book is edited by Greg Salmieri and the late Allan Gotthelf. Both Salmieri and Gotthelf are/were associated with the Ayn Rand Institution as are most of the contributors. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that: scholars associated with the ARI often do fine work, but you would have to be blind not to see that almost unqualified praise for Rand (and her heir Leonard Peikoff) seems to be mandatory. From what I can tell, that’s pretty much par for the course here. I don’t think this seriously detracts from the work because what it offers are moderately in-depth overviews of Rand’s views on various topics.

2. This book does mark a new path in ARI scholarship because the essays often make mention of Nathaniel Branden as a source on Objectivism and also interacts with non-ARI Objectivists (such as David Kelley and Stephen Hicks), sympathizers with Objectivsm (such as Roderick Long) critics of Objectivism (such as Scott Ryan) and even the once forbidden Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (which I have written a couple of minor pieces for). In years past, anyone not in the line of Apostolic Succession would pretty much have been ignored.

3. The introductory essay by Greg Salmieri ("An Introduction to the Study of Ayn Rand") is quite good. He discusses Rand, her works, and her influence in the academy. For some reason he didn't mention the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, which has been publishing since 1999. However, he does comment on several of the various works published posthumously under the editorship of various ARI writers. It had long been suspected (and shown by Jennifer Burns in 2009) that these works have been heavily edited for ideological purposes (to make Rand more consistent and omit embarrassing material). This was further confirmed by Robert Campbell a few years ago in his analysis of the changes that Robert Mayhew made in editing Rand’s question and answers (Ayn Rand Answers). Salmieri acknowledges that much editing has taken place and that there are editorial decisions that “I wish had been made differently [but] these books serve their purpose well . . . .” I find this shocking. A half dozen of Rand’s books have been so heavily edited as to be worthless for scholars and almost worthless for the casual admirer and Salmieri can’t get worked up over this? These books should be removed from publication immediately and replaced with accurate versions. Rand worked hard to protect the integrity of her material and the ARI should do the same.

4. Anyone who has followed the ongoing controversy over Rand’s life and the biographies of her will be interested in what Salmieri and Shoshana Milgram (who is writing an authorized biography of Ayn Rand) say. In 1986, Barbara Branden wrote the first full-length biography of Rand (The Passion of Ayn Rand). Shortly after the publication of Passion, Leonard Peikoff denounced the book as an “arbitrary assertion” (without having read it) and in 2005 James Valliant (who had access to Rand’s diaries thanks to Leonard Peikoff) claimed that everything in Passion was arbitrary (even, I imagine, that Rand was born in Russia) but also “dishonest” and that Branden made stuff up out of whole cloth. (I critiqued Valliant’s moronic book in 2008, which you can find on the web.) Well, in 2009 Jennifer Burns and Anne Heller published biographies of Rand which more or less followed Branden’s take on Rand. And what’s more, they often used Branden’s book as a source. These books were not viewed with favor by the ARI establishment. Now, Salmieri and Milgram don’t appear to have a high regard for these three biographies either, but gone are the days when everything Barbara Branden said should be dismissed out of hand. Milgram, unfortunately quotes Burns out of context when she reports Burns as saying that Branden’s biography is “marred by serious inaccuracies.” (page 87 in the Wylie edition). Burns, however, goes on to say “too often Branden takes Rand’s stories about herself at face value, reporting as fact information contradicted by the historical record.” Milgram does make some good points about the three biographies and I think they all have their strengths and weaknesses. She is correct that Passion (and the memoirs of Nathaniel Branden) should be used with caution, in particular when reporting something for which they are the only source (private communications, for example). I would be curious what Milgram thinks about those who have said things equally critical of Rand and who never broke with her or, if they did, their breaks did not involve dishonesty. I assume Milgram has interviewed such people or consulted the interviews that others have done of them.

5. I’ve read only a few of the essays beginning to end, but they were informative albeit not particularly critical. The essays all appear to be polished and Salmieri and Gotthelf are to be commended for what must have been a lengthy editing process.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Objectivist Roundup



1.  Ayn Rand biographer Anne Heller will shortly be publishing a small biography of Hanna Arendt.

2. Ayn Rand’s novel Ideal was recently published.  Here is Heller’s review.

3. Harry Binswanger recently published his “conversion” story

4. Objectivist philosopher Greg Salmieri was interviewed about Rand’s ethical theory.

5. Peter Schwartz published In Defense of Selfishness.  Ex-Objectivist philosopher Bryan Register critiques it on his new blog here and here and here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Greg Salmieri Interviewed

Objectivist philosopher Greg Salmieri is interviewed about Ayn Rand's ethics.  An enjoyable and nuanced discussion.