Sunday, October 29, 2006

Leonard Peikoff's DIM-Witted Hypothesis

Leonard Peikoff is urging Objectivists to vote Democratic. Actually, urging isn't the right word. If you consider voting Republican or abstaining from voting, you don't understand Objectivism and may well be "immoral." I guess he doesn't call himself Rand's "intellectual heir" for nothing.

Peikoff is so worried about the influence of the Religious Right (RR) on the Republican Party that he thinks voting Democratic is the only way to stop it.

A few comments:

First, whether to vote for the Democrats to stop the Republicans is obviously a question of strategy and it assumes something that Peikoff hasn't shown (that the Religious Right is incredibly influential). An Objectivist might plausibly argue that even if Peikoff is correct, we are better off with a Democratic house and a Republican Senate.

Second, Peikoff is wrong about the influence of the RR. Outside the South, the Midwest and parts of the West, the RR isn't particularly influential. And in the two largest states, New York and California, the RR has next to no influence (particularly in New York). In virtually all parts of the US, the influence of religion is less now than in the 1950's. If people weren't complaining about the threat of a theocracy in 1956, why are they in 2006?

Third, that some Republicans may be bad doesn't mean people shouldn't vote for "good" Republicans. In local and state elections, there is every reason to vote for the best candidate even if one accepts Peikoff's view about the influence of the RR.

Fourth, this article is typical Peikoff. As David Ramsay Steele once put it, if Peikoff has seriously wrestled with a philosophical question since graduate school, it doesn't show.

Fifth, if an Objectivist can in good conscience vote for a socialist running as a Democrat, by what principle does it become immoral to vote libertarian or not to vote?


Anonymous said...

I think you make a good point but isn't this just a question of tactics?

I think Peikoff is saying that the left is a corpse and a corpse can't hurt you. Where as the RR is not a corpse. They are principled evangelicals and are much more consistent and morally certain that they left.

If ideas change the culture and the left doens't have any, then the RR has the potential to be far more influential.

ObjectiBlog said...

If the left were moribund like the Communist Party in the Soviet Union in 1988 then he would have a point. But I don't think that's the case. So far as I can tell people on the left believe in their position as much as those on the right.

Daniel Barnes said...

The debate over which is more dangerous, socialism or religious conservatism is hardly going to be decided by the typical vague, fact-free waffle Peikoff offers here. His opinions as to this issue seem scarcely more interesting than any cab-driver's - in fact, a cab-driver might have a somewhat more in-touch view.

The only distinctive thing about Peikoff's piece is his insult aimed at Objectivists who don't want to vote the same way as him. It is really very odd, and I wonder - if he's not gone completely crackers, which is quite possible - whether it might be a manifestation of some obsure internal political tension within the ARI.

ObjectiBlog said...

And what is most incredible is that Peikoff accuses his opponents of "rationalism" (a favorite smear of his). But that's exactly what he is doing.

Daniel Barnes said...

>Peikoff accuses his opponents of "rationalism" (a favorite smear of his)

Of Rand's too. In fact it's become kind of a generic insult within Objectivism, and almost always occurs in a pot vs kettle situation!

Anonymous said...

It's absurd to think that Ayn Rand would vote Democrat. Are you kidding? Why vote socialist just to de-throne the R.R.? The R.R., regardless of their mysticism, is still fighting socialism. This country's notion of individual rights found their justification in Christianity. Christianity poses no threat to Capitalism--unless it is a Christain liberal!

Jack H. Schwartz said...

Failing to vote against Obama's radical leftist agenda is profoundly immoral, assuming that you grasp its evil base. Obama can, in four more years, produce so much havoc and destruction in America and around the world that it may be practically impossible to roll it back in less than four generations (if we last that long). Just imagine three more radical leftists sitting on the Supreme Court.

Peikoff's theophobia is beyond irrational. The so-called radical right are NOT represented in the list of candidates (no, not even Santorum). Try to read and think for yourselves. As for the RR, I would be far more concerned about the RL (Reverend Wright, Farrakhan etc.) these left-wing radicals exploiting religion to preach their leftist Anti-American, anti-Capitalism ideology is far more effective today and is a major force backing Obama.

Snap out of your rationalist stupor and vote against Obama, anything but Obama!