Friday, November 17, 2006

The Fissures Widen

Controversies brew among online Objectivists.

First, Gus Van Horn regrets agreeing with Robert Tracinski and voting Republican. He is dismayed by Republican support for various statist schemes. He thinks it is better to have Democrats in charge because (to put it in my words) they don’t pretend to be friends of capitalism and the free market and people would see more clearly that we are heading away from freedom.

Well, I’m not surprised that the Republicans are no friends of freedom. I still don’t see how they’re worse than the Democrats. We’re heading downhill either way. The most important question to ask is: Which way do I vote to buy us the most time for Objectivism to spread through the culture? The far left elements and the whiff of totalitarianism in the Democrats frighten me. However, I will admit that the Republicans are deteriorating so quickly that the difference between the two parties is almost a moot point.

Second, Jack Wakeland fantasized on the Forum for Ayn Rand Fans about shooting a regulator. Diana Hsieh is horrified and Nicholas Provenzo wants Wakeland to rescind his remarks or stop referring to himself an Objectivist.

My eyebrows rose when I first read Wakeland’s fantasy. I take it as over-the-top bravado like you hear from young libertarians. Vigilantism is wrong, especially when we still have freedom of speech and the peaceful recourse to change the law. I am most bothered by this sentence:

Killing a regulator who does not answer to the will of the people is justice.

“The will of the people” is some high-flying rhetoric, but what does it mean? Regulation is bad because it violates individual rights, not because it is undemocratic.

I file his statement away and watch carefully for a more explicit, well considered statement.

Third, Harry Binswanger on HBList and Edward Cline have criticized Robert Tracinski for misunderstanding how ideas move history in an essay called “What Went Right.” I want to read Tracinski’s essay before I judge. This is certainly something to watch.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

UPDATE: Wakeland retracts. Also here.


Anonymous said...

Could you recap what Binswanger's arguments were?


Myrhaf said...

Doug, to sum it up in one sentence, Binswanger accuses Tracinski of saying that philosophy plays less of a role in man's life than what Ayn Rand says it does in "Philosophy: Who Needs It." This is my understanding, and this fortune cookie summary leaves out all the argumentation and the other points they make. My essentialization probably does not help you much and only whets your appetite to read more. I hope both men will publish their arguments in places where non-subscribers can read them.

Gus Van Horn said...

"I hope both men will publish their arguments in places where non-subscribers can read them."

Amen to that.

On your summary of my views: I am a gridlock kind of guy now. I remain deeply suspicious of the Democrats and fear for the fate of freedom of speech more (in the short terms) with them in charge of, say, all branches of the government. I still see this issue not getting the attention it deserves even from Objectivists.

Making sure we continue being able to speak freely is Job One as far as I am concerned.

SN said...

I'm glad you commented on the "will of the people" part of Wakeland's post. Of everything else, that stood out as most questionable.

I can understand someone venting, on a really bad day, and under attack from all sides. (Though I think it unwise in the extreme to publish emotion-based threats of extremely illegal action on the internet.) What I cannot empathize with is using a phrase "will of the people", even if one is out of focus.

I must say, though, that I am fairly dismayed at the tone of a lot of the internet-discussions that followed Peikoff's post.

EdMcGon said...

Why is this so hard? If you aren't happy with the Democrats AND the Republicans, vote third party.

Think outside the box. Ignore the people who keep saying "you're wasting your vote". Most of those people are koolaid drinkers for the Democrats and Republicans.

Remember, the more votes that go to third parties, the more that the two majors have to sit up and pay attention.