|Jeffery: Believe it or not -- and you soon won't -- I hugely appreciate your eminently reasonable tone and patient approach where others might just give up utterly. I don't doubt for a moment that you're a thoughtful, intelligent, first-rate, quality person. But I disagree with virtually every single word you wrote. This includes the spaces between the words. ;-) My apologies, and you better brace yourself as much as you humanly can: |
This last exchange between Andre and Robert (Posts 143-144) highlight one of the real practical problems that the Objectivist movement faces - but it is a human problem that has nothing to do with any specific philosophical principles.
On the one hand, it's all about philosophy. Their religiosity and unwillingness to debate repudiates the last 2600 years of human intellectual progress. On the other hand, those people lack a great deal in the way of humanity. This isn't a small thing which can or should be swept under the rug.
When there is a serious disagreement between two or more parties, people have a tendency to adopt a polarizing view of one another where the flaws and failings of their adversary become amplified while their virtues and strengths are minimized or completely lost to view. No where is this more evident than in the treatment of the Brandens by the ARI/PARC crowd. By casting these two as evil incarnate, they then actually find it acceptable to airbrush them from the historical record rather than having to acknowledge even their smallest contributions. This is truly a remarkable act of intellectual hari-kari and it should be a warning to us all.
It is suicidal. And as such, it couldn't happen to a nicer group of guys. But that's not the point. Mainly it's an attack on all of us and everything good. Christian charity and forgiveness isn't the answer here.
When I read Andre's account above, I am concerned that there is a bit of the same tactic being applied. He points out a number of actions taken by ARI folk with which I agree are serious problems, but then extends his assessment of these individuals far beyond what I think the facts warrant and ends up comparing them to Nazis, zombies and brainless collectivists! Well, it is a very natural human tendency to be hyperbolic and amplify the distance between oneself and your antagonist. I know because I am just as susceptible to this as anyone else. It can give you a great sense of satisfaction to see yourself on a moral plane so much higher than the enemy.
I'm not looking for satisfaction here. I'm looking to tell the truth about, and render justice to, them and everyone else. I get the same satisfaction from being morally superior to them as I do to the Muslims and the homeless.
However, as practitioners of a philosophy that is dedicated to correspondence with reality, we really owe it to ourselves to not step over the line, and instead make every effort to adhere to the actual facts.
Absolutely correct. But if someone is a monster, he needs to be identified as such for at least ten different reasons. Rodney King once said (very inappropriately): "Can't we all just get along?" Not with monsters. They need to be destroyed. At the very least, they need to be correctly identified and properly hated.
When either Ayn Rand or the people at ARI go to such extreme lengths to discredit the Brandens, many of us see that they actually do great harm to themselves and the reputation of Objectivism. In the same way, we harm our own cause when we resort to a similar strategy.
Appeasement isn't the answer. Christian love and toleration isn't the answer. Amoral unprincipled compromise isn't the answer. Mindlessly splitting the differences isn't the answer. Cultural relativism isn't the answer. Moral equivalency isn't the answer. If you extend a helping hand in friendship, they'll slap it down or cut it off. Don't make me say you deserve this.
The truth can be powerful if we let it shine brightly and do not tarnish it with misrepresentation or inflate it beyond recognition by way of gratuitous embellishment.
If I ever exaggerate or hyperbolize the slightest iota let it be identified as such without a hint or mercy or kindness to me. But If I render the facts the way they really are, and tell the actual truth, even if rather unpleasant, maybe I should get a bit of credit.
I agree with Andre that some serious errors of judgement have been made by various people associated with ARI, but I don't see these people as stupid or profoundly evil.
But you don't know them. You don't know the Muslims or homeless either. You've never spoken to them seriously or even truly looked at them. I have. Repeatedly. I know them. Far better than at least 90% of the people on Rebirth of Rebirth I know all three. Morally, I have a cast iron stomach. No one should even pretend that they can match me in this.
And if I walk on egg shells around them and cut out all of my free spirit, open mind, energy, individualism, etc. and these guys still ban me repeatedly from all their forums and treat me like hell in person without even a hint of decency, how should I treat them? Trust me: This is just the beginning. I can do a lot worse.
Let's start with our own behavior and be honest in our assessment and treatment of the folks at ARI, SOLO and elsewhere. Don't be afraid to be critical when others go astray, but let's do so in a benevolent and friendly manner while continuing to recognize and applaud their strengths and achievements. I'm not sure that others in those organizations are yet ready to reciprocate, but someone has to make the first move and it might as well be each of us.
Boy, you'd have to move to The Twilight Zone to make a statement I disagree with more than this. One should never be benevolent and friendly to raw evil. Certainly not in certain contexts. I'm ultra-friendly to them in person. This is enough. But the above sounds to me like a demonstration of pure weakness and appeasement. Their contempt and disdain for you will almost certainly run to infinity. Anyone who believes the above behavior is reasonable, moral, or practical can look forward to summary rejection for the next 10,000 years. After this, and if you're very lucky, they'll concede a bit and be minutely nice for a few days. Then they'll up their demands. Then it's time to start all over.
As I've tried to point out above, this is really the only way to operate intellectually while being consistent with Objectivist principles and who can predict what influence a change in behavior of this type might have and what added benefits might follow as a result. If nothing else, isn't that the sort of intellectual environment in which you would like to participate? If so, then we are obliged to create it for ourselves, so let's start here.
ARIans know they're vermin. Muslims know they're vermin. The homeless know they're vermin. But they don't really know it. Not deep down and not enough to help. What they most desperately need and deserve is objective and rational confirmation. What they want and need above all else is moral condemnation. What they want and need most of all is SEARING HATRED.
As far as I can tell, it's the only thing which will let them escape their self-created psychological hell. It's the only thing which will let us escape them. Every other answer isn't just foolish, vapid, wrongheaded, or some such. Nor is it merely counterproductive. It's sado-masochistic omni-destruction.