Oceania Has Never Been at War With the Cato Institute

In the second excerpt of Deep Galt’s communique, my source schools me on how Ayn Rand Institute Objectivists, who had for years denounced libertarians, can suddenly do a 180 and send one of their top guys to run the Cato Institute.

“What you have to understand about the ‘orthodox’ Objectivist movement, the ARI wing of it,” wrote Deep Galt, “is that it is essentially authority-based. Something is true and consistent with Objectivism if the top authorities in the movement say so. Everyone down the line is expected to step in line.”

DG disagrees with me on one point: “I wouldn’t call it a ‘cult.’ It’s a narrow, insular little establishment. Pretty commonplace, but certainly not the kind of place [Fountainhead hero] Howard Roark would have wanted to hang out.”

The authority-driven nature of Objectivism, says DG, “explains how Objectivists can condemn Libertarianism for 20 years, and then without warning or explanation, one of ARI’s top guys turns around and becomes president of the biggest Libertarian organization, and hardly anybody pipes up. It doesn’t matter if it’s intellectually consistent. All that matters is that Yaron Brook, John Allison, and Leonard Peikoff approved it.”

This feels almost novelistic to DG, but not an Ayn Rand novel: “It all has a weird sort of ‘Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia’ feel to it.”

In the next installment we’ll get into one very troubling case that everybody should perhaps pay closer attention to.

  • Michael Clendenin Miller

    “The authority-driven nature of Objectivism, says DG, ‘explains how Objectivists can condemn Libertarianism for 20 years, and then without warning or explanation, one of ARI’s top guys turns around and becomes president of the biggest Libertarian organization, and hardly anybody pipes up. It doesn’t matter if it’s intellectually consistent. All that matters is that Yaron Brook, John Allison, and Leonard Peikoff approved it.’

    Not only is none of this true, it is not even possible to be true. Objectivism has a specific content wholly independent of what any opponent, adherent, fan, or “intellectual heir” may say or do. Authoritarianism of every stripe is specifically rejected by that philosophy. When ARI approves of or condemns someone’s Objectivist credentials, that has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of the content of Objectivism. It must be measured against the standard of consistency with the philosophy in judging their assessment and against consistency with the nature of reality in judging the truth of their positions as well as those of the philosophy. The shallow knowledge of that philosophy apparent in these posts is ample evidence that you and your cohorts are the least able to render such judgments.

    It is the very inability of Libertarians to deal with ideas on that level that is the cause of their withering. This is not a case of an Objectivist diluting his values. It is far more likely that Cato will henceforth be referred to as that “formerly Libertarian institution”. And the whining arguments by characterization in lieu of facts in this series of is just one more mile marker in the ascendancy of Objectivism over the withering of amoral, pragmatic Libertarianism.

  • http://www.reasonpapers.com Irfan Khawaja

    You want factual evidence of the authority-based nature of ARI? Read the opening of Leonard Peikoff’s “Fact and Value,” with close attention to the last excerpted sentence.
    ———————
    By Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D.
    Reprinted by permission from The Intellectual Activist, Volume V, Number 1
    I agree completely with “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners,” Peter Schwartz’s article in the last issue of TIA. That article has, however, raised questions in the mind of some readers. In particular, David Kelley, one of the persons whom the article implicitly criticizes, has written an articulate paper in reply, identifying his own philosophy on the relevant topics. He has sent a copy of this paper to me and to many other individuals.

    In my judgment, Kelley’s paper is a repudiation of the fundamental principles of Objectivism. His statements make clear to me, in purely philosophic terms and for the first time, the root cause of the many schisms that have plagued the Objectivist movement since 1968. The cause goes to the essentials of what Objectivism is. I have, therefore, decided to interrupt my book on Objectivism in order to name this cause once and for all.

    In the following, I am presupposing a basic knowledge of Ayn Rand’s ideas. I am writing to and for Objectivists, whether or not they have seen Kelley’s paper.
    ————–
    Peikoff is writing a denunciation of David Kelley and a critique of his views. The intended audience, he explicitly tells us, consists of Objectivists qua Objectivists, whether or not they care to acquaint themselves with the views under criticism. If they never, ever “see” David Kelley’s paper, that’s OK with Leonard Peikoff. His followers are expected to judge Kelley anyway on pain of being declared traitors to Objectivism. He says nothing about acquainting themselves with the other side of the dispute. Facts don’t matter, not even in a purported defense of the relationship between fact and value.

    That is the essence of ARI authoritarianism in just a few sentences, directly from the pen of its founder.


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