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Why I Am Not an Objectivist

Is de titel van een blogpost van Anne C. Heller, schrijfster van het boek “Ayn Rand and the World She Made“.  Ze heeft ook een weblog, met interessante artikelen. “Why I am not an Objectivist” gaat eigenlijk over een oud thema, namelijk de vraag of je alles wat Ayn Rand beweert ook letterlijk moet onderschrijven – of mag je een afwijkende mening hebben over details en jezelf toch objectivist noemen?

Toward the end of my recent interview on The Atlasphere, Kurt Keefner asked me whether I am an Objectivist. I answered no.
I don’t agree that man (qua man!) is the overweening value in the universe. In this scheme of things, to demand to breathe clean air is to be anti-industry and anti-reason. To love open fields and the smell of the earth is to hate mankind. While I agree with Rand that science and the profit motive may eventually combine to resolve some of the problems that science and the profit motive have created, I don’t want children, old people, or poor people to die while we wait. I favor government regulation.

While “man” may not be–-is surely not–-”the means to the ends of others” [“Introducing Objectivism, ” in The Objectivist Newsletter from August, 1962], neither is he “an end in himself.” Putting aside Rand’s notion that “there are no conflicts of interests among rational men” (which even Alan Greenspan renounced in 2008), this gives me license not only to litter (alongside James Watts) but also to steal (with Goldman Sachs). This is what Whittaker Chambers was driving at when, in his 1957 review of Atlas Shrugged, he wrote, “So Randian Man, at least in his ruling caste, has to be held ‘heroic’ in order not to be beastly.”

According to Rand’s now-elderly New York City doctor, Murray Dworetski, Nathaniel Branden once told him that all streets and roads should be in private hands. But how would that work? Dworetski asked. People would pay tolls, said Branden. Dworetski remembered laughing. Would each city street–-61st, 62nd, Lexington Avenue, 112th Street–-be owned by a separate individual charging a separate toll? Perhaps, said Branden, apparently not seeing the humor or the resulting traffic jams.

I have learned a lot from Rand–-that people’s wishes are not necessarily my commands, even if I sympathise with them; that duty can be a logical trap. I appreciate her dedication to principles, to freedom, and to civil liberties. But I also like the social contract that requires that we maintain public spaces and educate everyone, including those who wouldn’t or couldn’t educate themselves, and that we not let our civil society become unbalanced by too great a division between the rich and the rest of us.

Is het blog zelf al interessant genoeg, het genereert ook interessant commentaar, zoals deze van Nicholas Cloud, een software-ontwikkelaar met de mooie objectivistische tag-line: Existence is identity, consciousness is identification:

I consider myself an Objectivist, but I’ve never taken Rand in totality, always contextually. I think she was right about objective reality, but considering the viewpoints of others, even those that disagree with us, can help us to understand how they are seeing reality, and gives us at least a better approach to addressing their viewpoint. Sometimes they can even see things about reality that we miss.

Also, while I do not believe that “evaluating moral ideas by their effects in the lives of those who try to practice them” is a legitimate approach to determining the validity of those moral ideas, it *does* provide a feedback mechanism whereby we might ask if our moral ideas need to be refined, or helps us identify faulty premises that people are trying to reconcile with those moral ideas (which would lead to cognitive distress).

Finally, on the issue of privitizing roads, I refer you to Walter Block who has very interesting solutions to this problem:

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2. By renzo on Apr 30, 2010 | Reply

    natuurlijk mag je je dan objectivist noemen. Aynd Rand is god niet, verdorie… al dacht ze geloof ik zelf van wel.

    Ik zou mezelf niet objectivist noemen. Gelijk weer zo’n ideologie.

    Lees graag Rand trouwens. Heb ook erg veel kritiek en lees ook zeer goede dingen.

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