Boethius

Objectivist Culture

11 posts in this topic

After watching the further disintegration of Objectivism as adherents reacted to the Harriman fiasco, I wrote the "Question" below, to a friend. His "Answer" is very astute.

Please note: this is not addressed to the case of the Brandens, Kelley, or Harriman. They have left Objectivism. This applies to those of us who fall generally under the "orthodoxy" of ARI, OCONs, etc.

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Mr. B: Re the propensity of Objectivists to form schisms and splits, denounce and revile at the least provocation, and be easily provoked into hostility, name calling, and childish petulance:

This proves the total lack of understanding of relationships by Objectivists, and therefore Politics.

Did you ever change anyone's mind by calling them names or mercilessly criticizing their opinion or otherwise abusing them?

Do you ever see anyone who is effective at getting people to agree or work with them or come to their point of view say anything that gets remotely similar to the abusive style shown throughout by both sides of any typical Objectivist disagreement?

Did you ever even see anyone agree with you, even if they are of the same opinion, if you mistreat them the way these people are doing?

Do you think John Galt ever used such language like that in his efforts to persuade the other would-be strikers?

Do you think Galt's Gulch would survive for twenty minutes if these attitudes existed there?

QED:

1. None of these people would be invited nor welcome in Galt's Gulch.

2. There is no future nor progress based on these attitudes and treatment of other people.

3. This behavior is therefore the alternative: destructive.

4. This behavior and therefore these people will not and cannot produce an Objectivist culture.

Mr. X: Re #4, this IS Objectivist culture.

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Mr. B: Re the propensity of Objectivists to form schisms and splits, denounce and revile at the least provocation, and be easily provoked into hostility, name calling, and childish petulance:

This proves the total lack of understanding of relationships by Objectivists, and therefore Politics.

Isn't this an overgeneralization?

Some Objectivists understand relationships very well and, as a result, have mutually beneficial relationships with friends, family, business associates, Objectivists and non-Objectivists. Some Objectivists don't. In that respect, Objectivists aren't that much different from people in general.

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In my experience, this is not an overgeneralization. Not only does it happen, but a better indicator is the lack of "building" the future that is occurring, but more importantly the determination to figure out what is needed is not occurring. People accept that it will take a thousand years to bring about an Oist culture - but why? What will they (in that future) be doing that we cannot do now? We can do those things, and do them just as well. The infighting is counterproductive, and also is indicative of an underlying problem and prevalent attitude that forestalls progress towards that Oist culture.

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This applies to those of us who fall generally under the "orthodoxy" of ARI, OCONs, etc.

Mr. B: Re the propensity of Objectivists to form schisms and splits, denounce and revile at the least provocation, and be easily provoked into hostility, name calling, and childish petulance:

...

Mr. X: Re #4, this IS Objectivist culture.

This is worse than an over-generalization. It's a self-referential example of itself.

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To Boethius:

In the first sentence of your initial post, you refer to the "disintegration of Objectivism". Maybe there is disintegration taking place in the Objectivist movement--that is, disintegration of relationships between Objectivists--but Objectivism itself is not disintegrating. That system of ideas is solid, integrated, whole, perfect--perfect for a rational, integrated mind to live by. That, really, is all that matters when it comes to philosophy as put into practice by individuals.

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In the first sentence of your initial post, you Harriman fiascorefer to the "disintegration of Objectivism". Maybe there is disintegration taking place in the Objectivist mov

The movement isn't disintegrating either. Whatever happened personally between Dave Harriman and Leonard Peikoff or others, it is not a public "Harriman fiasco" causing anything to "disintegrate". A "movement" is not an organized structure, it is constantly changing and shifting in accordance with personalities.

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Re: "This is worse than an over-generalization. It's a self-referential example of itself", based on the parts of my post that were quoted, I am not totally sure that I understand what is meant. But assuming the reference to those excerpts, I would have to suggest that the point was missed.

I was lamenting to my friend that these kinds of behavior will not lead to an Oist culture. My friend pointed out that (sadly) the behavior is consistent among Oists; that by its predominant presence, it is the Oist culture.

I thought that is a very poignant observation, and if correct, points to a very real problem for Oists; that a very serious and endemic mistake is being made by a wide-spread proportion of the Oist population.

The mistake is that if an Oist culture is to arise, it cannot do so under these conditions.

What does that mean for the future? It means that (1) the present Oist culture / movement will be ineffective and die out; (2) an "interregnum" will follow, and (3) a new group of people many years (the proverbial millennium?) hence will rediscover AR's ideas, and interpret them according to their lives and living conditions (i.e., with no ARI nor "intellectual heir" of any sort), and apply them in some new way not in our current expectation.

I submit that that application will be with the understanding that politics is based upon relationships. We can save the world a thousand years by reaching that understanding now, as it is a fact, and one which I wish Oists now would grasp in the present and act upon in the necessary basis - political change as I have described.

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Re: "This is worse than an over-generalization. It's a self-referential example of itself", based on the parts of my post that were quoted, I am not totally sure that I understand what is meant. But assuming the reference to those excerpts, I would have to suggest that the point was missed.

It is you who missed the point. It is you, not us, who are guilty of the sweeping, condescending "denunciations, hostility, name calling, and childish petulance" -- on display throughout your repetitive posts in this very thread. Do you have any idea how rude and gratuitously insulting you are with your repetitive, false, sweeping accusations?

... it is the Oist culture.

No, it is not. You are the ironic example of what you describe.

... I submit that that application will be with the understanding that politics is based upon relationships.

You are harping back to your previous repetitive and long ago refuted posts falsely claiming Ayn Rand had no political philosophy and that she didn't ask why we need it as you continue to confuse political philosophy with political activism, and continue to ignore the central role of ideas in the evolution of a nation's political system as you promote "personal relations" as the base of it. Now in the name of "personal relations", of all things, you harangue us with repetitive denunciations of a bad "culture" in terms which you yourself repeatedly illustrate in your own behavior that you accuse others of. Your notion of "personal relations" evidently does not allow you to see the irony.

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I agree with Erich's (ewv) assessment. One additional point that needs to be addressed is the lack of presentation of what the nature of the schisms, splits, and denunciations are about. Are you, Boethius, afraid of moral judgments? Why are the "Oists" the ones to compromise and ignore the nature of the disagreements? Are moral transgressions to be forgiven and ignored? If those who are being "denounced" deserve it by their own actions, why should we be concerned with other's perceptions of our behavior? Can I take your critique to imply that you routinely entertain liars, cheats, and psychological abusers to demonstrate your understanding of relationships and politics?

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In response to Mr. "Paul's Here" --

I guess my theme of my original post was not as obvious as I thought. I would say every Oist has two goals, which are interrelated and not really very distinct.

The first goal seems to be obvious to everyone: to be - to iive - by the Oist philosophy; with that as the foundation and standard of your actions and intentions; however you want to word that. It can be said other and perhaps better ways, but I think we can stipulate Oists are in general agreement on this goal.

The second goal seems to be less apparent, as I tried to imply or illustrate in my first post: that goal is to bring about an Oist culture, presumably by growing the influence of Oism in the existing culture.

My question for your consideration is: do you see Oists around you creating that Ost culture? As "Mr. X" observed, what you see currently _is_ the extant Oist culture, per se; it is the Oist culture of the present time. It exists; it is made up of the actions of Oists (ARI / OCON / LP - oriented, vs. TOS, etc., as I noted earlier). There is no way anyone could reasonably consider those actions conducive to bringing about an Oist culture. They are (predominantly) divisive; counter-productive - and therefore destructive.

Picture yourself in an isolated valley with these people; could you bring about a Galt's Gulch? Would you reasonably expect it to endure, if you could even get all of the Oists around you in the same place at the same time? You have only to look at other posts to pick out far too many examples that provide your answer.

So what is the answer? How do we get to a successful Oist culture?

1. Some say, ARI is all you need. I have been donating to ARI for over a quarter century; it is great, I encourage more contributions, but it cannot do the job alone, nor should anyone expect it to. That would be blindness to the natural human characteristics, and to the definition of what a culture is.

A culture is (substantially) the interactions of all of the people; that means all Oists (and more) are needed to make the needed impact. That means they must consciously set that culture as their goal, and set mutually-supportive plans toward that goal. "Mutually-supportive" does not mean automatic approval, or blind acceptance; it depends on context and means various things at various levels of agreement. But one thing it does not mean is taking destructive actions. As an example, think of the mutual supportiveness of Dagny towards Dan Conway: she wants him to succeed, even as she intends to work to take away his market-share. Apply that perspective to building an Oist culture.

2. Some say it will take a thousand years. Well, they say that is what it took for Aristotle; I guess that is their model, though that is not at all what history shows. But in any case, why a thousand years? What happens then? How does it arise? What are the steps? Explicitly describe the process. Why can that process not be applied right now? If you do not have a reasoned answer, then your answer is "somehow" - and that I call mystical, or as good as.

Why is ARI not enough? What will it really take? Why in a thousand years? What will they (in that time) have that we do not have now?

Culture is a "conglomeration" of human relationships, good or bad (e.g., capitalist culture vs. Islamic culture). To build a good culture requires or results from a constructive occurrence (it can be accidental or deliberate).

Constructive relationships involve a sacrifice; no two people will ever agree on everything. But that sacrifice - taken in relationships ranging from a marriage to a culture - is (must be) of a lesser value for a greater value. Certainly, an Oist culture is one of all Oists' greatest values? Should I not refrain from telling another Oist (or non-Oist) what I think of his opinions, or that he is a jerk, if it helps to build that culture? In being constructive, we agree to disagree; we acknowledge it as a natural human characteristic; that to disagree is normal and acceptable, but we endeavor to succeed regardless.

When that culture is my goal, I will let a bunch of stuff fall by the wayside to get there.

Constructive relationships are supportive; mutually beneficial. That requires that kind of restraint; that kind of recognition of values. Building something greater - whether under a commander on a battlefield, or under a manager in a business, or for (independent) Oists building a culture, takes the kind of cooperation that ignores the non-relevant to the goal, in order to reach that goal.

To fail to make that sacrifice of a lesser value for a greater value is to sacrifice the greater value.

I say that when Oists begin to realize this more generally as a group, then we can begin to build the culture we want to see (and contrarily, not before). Whether that is a thousand years from now, or tomorrow, that cognizance is an essential first step. Everything else depends on that, and is founded on it.

It saddens me to think that if it does take a thousand years, it will be because the current Oist movement disintegrated, disappeared, and by luck alone AR's books survived an interregnum until someone finally took the ideas, and taught them in a way that built the constructive relationships which form the basis for the rise of a productive, successful culture.

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I guess my theme of my original post was not as obvious as I thought.

No, your premises were wrong and your posts are not responsive to what people write.

My question for your consideration is: do you see Oists around you creating that Ost culture? As "Mr. X" observed, what you see currently _is_ the extant Oist culture, per se; it is the Oist culture of the present time. It exists; it is made up of the actions of Oists (ARI / OCON / LP - oriented, vs. TOS, etc., as I noted earlier). There is no way anyone could reasonably consider those actions conducive to bringing about an Oist culture. They are (predominantly) divisive; counter-productive - and therefore destructive.

Picture yourself in an isolated valley with these people; could you bring about a Galt's Gulch? Would you reasonably expect it to endure, if you could even get all of the Oists around you in the same place at the same time? You have only to look at other posts to pick out far too many examples that provide your answer.

Your premises are false. Very few people are living in "divisiveness". Your own accusations and name-calling are an example of the few who are. We only need to look at your own posts to see illustrated what you accuse others of in your sweeping denunciations.

Nor is there any reason to get everyone "around you in the same place at the same time". Most of us reject that herd mentality, and it does not represent movements at all. A "movement" pursuing common or at least some shared major ideas and interests is never a single herd gathered together and is never in agreement in strategies, tactics or even the particular forms of goals. Genuine movements are always fragmented into multiple organizations with multiple leaders with all kinds of disagreements. No one speaks for a movement. A single organization with a single leader is not a movement. Movements have participants; organizations have "members" gathered around in the "same place". Movements have networks of communication, not lines of command telling people what to do next and how to do it in the "same place at the same time".

You have no more understanding of "movements" than you do of Ayn Rand's reasons for her political philosophy, along with your confusions of activism and "personal relations" with philosophy and the role of ideas in leading to the evolution of a culture. Ideas are held by individuals, not herds.

So what is the answer? How do we get to a successful Oist culture? 1. Some say, ARI is all you need...

Who "says ARI is all you need" and what difference does it make if anyone does? Who cares? Who cares if people all over the country want to support ARI and/or anything else at the same time, which they do, while others don't. Let people associate with or not associate with whomever they want to for their own reasons, and let them have the integrity to judge for themselves what they think is right. Leave them to Betsy's Second Law: "In the long run you get the kind of friends -- and the kind of enemies -- you deserve."

Who cares if Dave Harriman has dinner with David Kelley and speaks at his group while ARI continues to sell his lectures? How on earth can any sane person conclude from that that both have "left Objectivism" under an hysterical account of a "further disintegration of Objectivism as adherents reacted to the Harriman fiasco" as you opened this thread?

Your claim that such things "prove the total lack of understanding of relationships by Objectivists, and therefore Politics" as you accuse us all of an alleged "propensity" to "form schisms and splits, denounce and revile at the least provocation, and be easily provoked into hostility, name calling, and childish petulance" is simply bizarre -- and tells us more about your own mentality than any movement. In particular, it is your repeated confusion between politics and "relationships", and between political philosophy and activism. Misrepresentations of fact do not validate the confusions you make as sweeping accusations against people you don't even know.

Did you "ever change anyone's mind by calling them names or mercilessly criticizing their opinion or otherwise abusing them?" You illustrate only yourself.

2. Some say it will take a thousand years... Constructive relationships involve a sacrifice; no two people will ever agree on everything. But that sacrifice - taken in relationships ranging from a marriage to a culture - is (must be) of a lesser value for a greater value. Certainly, an Oist culture is one of all Oists' greatest values? Should I not refrain from telling another Oist (or non-Oist) what I think of his opinions, or that he is a jerk, if it helps to build that culture? In being constructive, we agree to disagree; we acknowledge it as a natural human characteristic; that to disagree is normal and acceptable, but we endeavor to succeed regardless.

If someone is a jerk then he is a jerk and there is nothing wrong with saying so. It has nothing to do with the existence of a movement and when stated with reasons might even help. Demands to "sacrifice" for the "greater good" and join the herd in the "same place at the same time" do not, and movements never work like that. If you sometimes encounter someone who elevates his personal disputes under the banner of "The Philosophy", then so what? It happens in all movements.

But there is a lot wrong with making sweeping accusations with no objectivity or understanding, as you have done yourself repeatedly here on the Forum as you preach "constructive relationships" to those you simultaneously denounce, sounding rather like an advocate of savage Toleration over integrity and principle. You aren't "refraining" yourself, are you?

It saddens me to think that if it does take a thousand years, it will be because the current Oist movement disintegrated, disappeared, and by luck alone AR's books survived an interregnum until someone finally took the ideas, and taught them in a way that built the constructive relationships which form the basis for the rise of a productive, successful culture.

The "Objectivist movement" has not "disintegrated", Ayn Rand's books have not "survived by luck", and she did just fine in explaining her ideas and the importance of ideas in the formation of a culture. Her philosophy does not need to be rewritten in the pandering terms of how to win friends, influence constructive relations in the name of replacing Ayn Rand's alleged lack of understanding, and all getting together in the "same place at the same time" to dance in a circle while joining hands and singing Kumbaya.

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