Rereading Ayn Rand on the New Left

It used to be called The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, but the later title was Return of the Primitive.  It was published in 1971, but sometimes drawn from slightly earlier essays.  I wondered if a revisit might shed light on the current day, and here is what I learned:

1. “The New Left is the product of cultural disintegration; it is bred not in the slums, but in the universities; it is not the vanguard of the future, but the terminal stage of the past.”

2. The moderates who tolerate the New Left and its anti-reality bent can be worse than the New Left itself.

3. Ayn Rand wishes to cancel the New Left, albeit peacefully.

4. “Like every other form of collectivism, racism is a quest for the unearned.”  Ouch, it would be good to resuscitate this entire essay (on racism).

5. She fears the collapse of Europe into tribalism, racism, and balkanization.  I am not sure if I should feel better or worse about the ongoing persistence of this trope.

6. It is easy to forget that English was not her first language: “Logical Positivism carried it further and, in the name of reason, elevated the immemorial psycho-epistemology of shyster lawyers to the status of a scientific epistemological system — by proclaiming that knowledge consists of linguistic manipulations.”

6b. Kant was the first hippie.

7. The majority of people do not hate the good, although they are disgusted by…all sorts of things.

8. Like many Russian women, she is skeptical of the American brand of feminism: “As a group, American women are the most privileged females on earth: they control the wealth of the United States — through inheritance from fathers and husbands who work themselves into an early grave, struggling to provide every comfort and luxury for the bridge-playing, cocktail-party-chasing cohorts, who give them very little in return.  Women’s Lib proclaims that they should give still less, and exhorts its members to refuse to cook their husbands’ meals — with its placards commanding “Starve a rat today!””  Feminism for me, but not for thee, you could call it.

Overall I would describe this as a bracing reread.  But what struck me most of all was how much the “Old New Left” — whatever you think of it — had more metaphysical and ethical and aesthetic imagination — than the New New Left variants running around today.  As Rand takes pains to point out (to her dismay), the Old New Left did indeed have Woodstock, which in reality was not as far from the Apollo achievement as she was suggesting at the time.


I like midnight Tyler.

Yeah these are good notes. I've always been ambivalent (at best) about Miss Rand, but this is compelling material. May have to read the actual work itself.

I'm not a Rand fanboy (though I expect the libertarian base of this comment section are), but she should be required reading for every high school or college student. The fact that she is not only generally excluded from such lists, but is reviled by leftists, shows the effects her rhetoric has.

Isn't "requiring" Rand kind of at cross purposes?

I was "required" to read all sorts of leftist agitprop, I see no reason why the favor shouldn't be returned. All in the name of getting a well-rounded education, of course.

I had to read Marx and even Mao (it was clear that Marx was a witty polemicist but a terrible economist whereas Mao’s sayings and musings were vacuous and amorphous) at University in the 80s and 90s.

I had to discover Burke Tocqueville and Hume on my own.

Sounds like a Barry White song


Although, let's not go too far with the throwaway Woodstock/Apollo triumphal comparisons. Wasn't the final act Sha-Na-Na?

No, the final act was the greatest rock and blues guitar player of all time - Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix trivia - Ike Turner fired Hendrix a couple years before Woodstock

Okay, I exaggerate but they were in there somewhere.

today's tiramisu of satire
the leftist wokies are now claiming that both cancel culture and antifa (blm "allies") are a racist fiction

It’s not “cancel culture,” you can’t “cancel” people. You can deplatform people for saying racist, homo/transphobic, or sexist shit. It’s “consequence culture,” because shitty actions need to have consequences for people.

Antifa is antifascism, and it’s opposed to (you guessed it!) fascism and neofascism. Yr a troll tho.

My favorite example of this is that famous "grab 'em by the..." conversation between Billy Bush and Donald Trump. Bush faced serious consequences for merely being obsequious to Trump and was cancelled for about three years. Trump, the actual malefactor in that exchange, became President of the United States.

That points to a flaw in what you call consequence culture. People calling for these negative consequences are, whether they acknowledge it or not, dependent on elites in the business world who will act as executioners on their behalf. I'm not a Trump supporter but a demagogue like him clearly has the ability to whip up enough street opinion to be immune from the judgments of the woke and their allies in big business. This is a serious vulnerability and shows there is too much self-righteousness involved and not enough politics. Politics is the art of convincing people and willing elections. That's hard, so some people opt for Twitter slacktivism instead.

Bush faced serious consequences for merely being obsequious to Trump

He wasn't obsequious at all. He was passively pleasant to Trump, with whom he had business that day. Liberals, who are commonly obnoxious jack-wagons, expect normal human beings to behave like liberals.

While you may mean well, I suspect saying to the Woke, "The problem is that you lack sufficiently totalitarian control over society that you are dependent on capitalist business, which you dislike, so the consequences will fall mainly on soft, moderate people in the middle who are expendable", is not exactly going to have the effect of them going "You're so right! Well, we'd better give up on the whole thing then.". I think the implication of what would *actually* happen is obvious.

A lot of this "Cancel Culture" stuff is becoming overblown and confused though.

There is a real element of course. It strongly needs to be discouraged for people to start up these online campaigns to get people banned and fired, and preventing them speaking at public engagements that anyone can choose to attend or not, and for individuals to go around doxxing and researching people, particularly major news organisations doxxing and researching minor and non-public figures.

Things like the weird news story where the Washington Post doxxed some random woman for blackface and destroyed her life are absolutely reprehensible. That is effectively media driven harassment of private individuals with no legitimate public interest, and its a serious concern now we live in a society with almost ubiquitous means for recording people. A major ethical breach by the media.

On the other hand, there's clearly nothing wrong with private individuals simply withdrawing their own personal interest and time from some musical artist or whatever because of something they've said, publicly and loudly, with the intent to gain as much publicity as possible, which newspapers have simply reported, and there isn't anything wrong with having a small scale private conversation with friends about this either.

Anyway, the problem isn't that Woke mobs have insufficient power to enforce their will without working with businessmen and the state and so on, it's that what they are intending to do is disproportionate and illiberal (in the meaningful sense of the world, not the silly Prog sense) in the first place.

+1 tiramisu of satire
"you can't cancel people"
more than a hundred peeps gotta canceled
in chicago july 4th weekend
antifa is mostly fascist adolescent thuggery
& the second word in " cancel culture"
is culture not people
you certainly can cancel cultures it has been done many times
throughout history

17 were canceled. The rest will recover from their gunshot wounds.

+1 tiramisu of bullshit
how the hell do you know the rest will recover from their gunshot wounds

I don't. It's a guess, based on nobody being reported to have died after a week.

+1 postmodern sophistry
not dying 1 week after a gunshot wound doesnt= recovery from a gunshot wound

It’s called cancel “culture” because it’s a culture and it absolutely exists. If you don’t agree with every aspect and nuance of leftist dogma, as of today not last year, no matter how minor or dated, sicko mobs will try to ruin your life often succeeding. The “consequences” are based on tiny deviations from a hard left insanely woke dogma and involve total ruin by a mob. Calling it consequences so it’s ok is a gross cop out.

Then liars like you gaslight us saying it doesn’t exist.

Nice racket.

we never said cancel culture doesnt exist
we have the opposite view
either you are gaslighting us or mebbe you are replying to Stephen

Yes responding to Stephen. Sorry.

no problemma
how long since you washed your hands

Tyler, please have a podcast with Yaron Brook to unpack some of these ideas for your audience.

Rand’s philosophy is like a cool sip of lemonade in our oppressive environment.

It’s so oppressive to have to think about the oppression you’ve taken part in for the entirety of your life.

all lives matter
time for our daily affirmation
individualism,” “perfectionism,” “intellectualization” and “objectivity” are all vestiges of this internalized racism and must be abandoned in favor of social-justice principles."

Cooking meals for all those poor men who are forced to deal with feminism's fall out. Even if in the last couple of months, a lot of rats have been starving anyways.

In this thread prior_approval tries and fails at fashioning a metaphor

New York City is starting to tentatively emerge from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic but a revival in outdoor restaurant dining is facing a new hazard – a plague of rats.

Diners are facing a surge in rat activity following a lockdown period where the rodents were cut off from key food sources as businesses including restaurants and grocery stores shut down, forcing rats to battle for snacks and even eat each other.

Rats eating each other? That sounds like the left.

It's delicious and delightful!

We lost our whole strawberry crop to varmints. My wife assumes they were rats which had left the city because of a shortage of discarded fast food and suchlike.

Philosopher don't help.

In 1857, BLM activists were willing to kill and die for black rights. Now the most they can do is fearfully (of being branded themselves) follow the latest social media trend and "bend a knee." (boosting their social media profile in the process, coincidentally). Such courage these kid have today!

The Bureau of Land Management?

John Brown. (A white man who could more than bend a knee.)
BLM, baby. Say it loud.

Brown was a slaves' lives matter kind of guy.

He was also someone who was fully on board with the idea that slaveholders' lives were forfeit.Making antifa look like soy boys when they start tossing things around.

Brown was a terrorist. You may approve of his cause but do you approve of his tactics?

That is like asking you if you approve of the Confederacy's tactics to retain slavery. Brown is dead, and a part of history. He was a (defendably fully delusional) messianic figure, and was properly hung for the crimes he committed.

But perhaps you mean specifically would I be opposed to arming slaves? I have no problem with that tactic. Only slave owners find that tactic to be the same as terrorism.

Hey if we're doing an open letter, put me down as totally on board with this business of arming slaves. Come at me, Powers-That-Be.

So you would support Donald Trump arming a revolt in China's Uygher camps? Or if he elected to send arms to any potential revolt in North Korea? There are a heckuvalot people living as slaves today and arming them would certainly create major geopolitical headaches.

Is that a policy you would actually get behind or is this cheap signaling?

Regarding Uygher camps, you could pick a better example for arming the oppressed.

John Bolton... "Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do."

I'm sorry, did you confuse me for somebody who give's a rat's ass what Trump thinks?

So you would support Joe Biden arming a revolt in China's Uygher camps? Or if he elected to send arms to any potential revolt in North Korea? There are a heckuvalot people living as slaves today and arming them would certainly create major geopolitical headaches.
Is that a policy you would actually get behind or is this cheap signaling?

I don't know which Brian you are addressing.

I think the power disparity between the CCP and Uyghers is huge, so there isn't going to be indigenous support for taking up arms. It may be many years before that changes.

The power disparity is vastly less than what John Brown faced. After all, if China loses the region, it barely registers in their budgets. In contrast, arming the slaves meant an end to slavery and the loss of the chattel wealth. At the time, the slaves of the south were the second most valuable thing in the entire country (excluding only the land).

We could give the Uyghers machine guns, RPGs, mines, and anti-tank weaponry. If so inclined, they could hole up in the less hospitable regions and defeat pretty much every armed force in the region outside of the main PLA units.

John Brown could, if lucky give his men a couple days worth ammunition, no cannons, and was likely not got to outgun the average hunting party. Calling up the militia, let alone the federal army, was going to be short fight and it is not like there were all that many more armories that could be easily taken.

Most likely John Brown's rebellion would have been a short orgy of violence followed by a handful of fights with the militia or the federal army then a giant string of reprisals. Might still have ended slavery, but the power disparity was even vaster than anything else.

I mean I am genuinely curios. There are slaves today. In every sense that matters to me, there are more now than ever in human history (gross number). Arming the slaves could be legitimate foreign policy if people actually cared, but it would be bloody and would require more interruption of the international order than anything in the last 50 years.

Isn’t this the base concept of the 2nd Amendment?

Are oppressed people the same as chattel slaves? I see a distinction, but you may not. I don't consider Turkish Kurds to be slaves, even if Turkey used to make it illegal to speak Kurdish in public - and the language remains illegal to use as an instruction language in private and public schools.

Just curios, what is the level where the distinction is relevant here?

The ability of others to sever your life from all its attachments on a whim? The right of others to tear apart families? The laboring without recompense? The punishment for expressing any opinion not approved by the masters?

What exactly is the distinction between the folks in concentration camps in China and North Korea and "slaves".

Sure wins by TKO - his opponents refuse to leave their corners.

Enslaving people for their whole lives is an offense comparable to murder; think of it in terms of quality adjusted life-years if you like. If Patty Hearst had found it within herself to shoot her SLA captors to escape, would you be at all concerned for them?

Pottawatomie Massacre, Kansas, May 24-25, 1856
Harper's Ferry (Virginia), October 16, 1859

A White Man who could do more than self-servingly bend a knee, risking nothing. John Brown knew you have to be ready to kill and be killed to "Do the Right Thing" with moral clarity.
BLM, baby. Say it loud.

Tyler: "Overall I would describe this as a bracing reread. But what struck me most of all was how much the “Old New Left” — whatever you think of it — had more metaphysical and ethical and aesthetic imagination — than the New New Left variants running around today. As Rand takes pains to point out (to her dismay), the Old New Left did indeed have Woodstock, which in reality was not as far from the Apollo achievement as she was suggesting at the time."

Matt Taibbi: "The question isn’t whether or not “cancel culture” exists. The question is, without canceling, what would this culture be?"

Come, come now. Ms.Rand should be more even-handed with her stereotypes! I'm sure most of those husbands were too busy chasing their secretaries and enjoying liquid lunches to wind up in early graves. Let's never bother with underlying issues when an ad hominem caricature will suffice.

Ayn Rand never had children, which is probably why she has so little empathy with the complaints of American women. Very few men living today would be willing to trade their lives for the life of a middle class mother of three young children in the 1960s.

This is more of a statement of the incommensurability of quality of life between groups that have sharply differing subjective evaluations and aspirations.

Ayn Rand never had children, which is probably why she has so little empathy with the complaints of American women.

"American women" weren't complaining. Who was complaining was Betty Friedan (who had domestic help), Gloria Steinem (vocational spinster), Sylvia Plath (head case, committed suicide in such a way that her children would find the body), Karen deCrow (lawyer, childless), Bella Abzug (whose husband functioned as both mother and father to her children), and Eleanor Smeal (who said her own life was fine but she had a lot of friends on pills). There was also Marilyn French (whose portraits of men of a certain vintage were obvious caricatures by a woman without much empathy). Actual women of that vintage were often dissatisfied with their husbands' drinking habits, skirt-chasing, bad temper, and bad hygiene. These remain problems without regard to social relations and attendant legal regimes.

I can attest with regard to the drinking and skirt-chasing, that my mother and her mother-in-law accepted both as the price for not having to answer to anyone else their entire adult lives. Whether you call this a "choice" or a limitation, it is overall something much better evaluated and judged not when you are young but when you have some decades of life behind you.

I can attest with regard to the drinking and skirt-chasing, that my mother and her mother-in-law accepted both as the price for not having to answer to anyone else their entire adult lives. Whether you call this a "choice" or a limitation, it is overall something much better evaluated and judged not when you are young but when you have some decades of life behind you.

These are features of some people's lives, not others. What they do about it depends on what are the trade-offs they face. Men have complaints about their domestic lives too, and they also face trade-offs. It's all derived from a certain reality: you're dealing with human beings, who aren't what you want them to be.

Albert Einstein (banged his cousin), Erwin Schrodinger (womanizer), Pascual Jordan (committed NAZI), Kurt Godel (paranoid head case, starved himself to death), Paul Ehrenfest (murder-suicide), Robert Oppenheimer (naive fellow traveler) ...

All of these people were flawed and therefore all of their thinking can be dismissed.

Ah, Einstein - - Einstein "writing of the Chinese that “even those reduced to working like horses never give the impression of conscious suffering. A peculiar herd-like nation [ … ] often more like automatons than people.”.

“Einstein’s diary entries on the biological origin of the alleged intellectual inferiority of the Japanese, Chinese, and Indians are definitely not understated and can be viewed as racist – in these instances, other peoples are portrayed as being biologically inferior, a clear hallmark of racism.

Einstein Must Fall? (Like Gandhi?).

Gore Vidal feared economic competition with 'grimly efficient Asiatics'

Over half of American women today would (56%) prefer to life in the broad outlines 1960s mothers and stay home with the children with all that entails. This is actually than the actual number of women staying home in the mid 60s (under 50%).

Certainly the data suggests that the broad 60s model was vastly better for the children with children who have one parent staying home shower higher educational attainment, less psychiatric illness, and less criminal activity (and these correlations hold even after correcting for basic SES).

Also of note, reported female happiness in the US has, at best, held steady since we left the earlier social arrangements behind. Some evidence says that women have gotten significantly less happy.

On the flip things of the things women report most desiring in life, they are objectively worse at acquiring them these days. Completed fertility significantly lags desired fertility. Marriage rates lag desired marriage rates. Women are also less likely today to live in the type of neighborhood they prefer (generally suburban or rural) than previously and less likely to have the type of home they would prefer (generally single detached).

You can, of course, come up with a bunch of rationalizations about why we should disregard women's stated preferences or how their desires are ignorant of the reality of the things they say they would prefer or how the survey instruments are not capturing all the nuance. And all of that would be true to some degree.

Nonetheless, the evidence we have that current women's aggregate desires are more in line with doing the 60s stay-at-home mom route rather than the 2010s dual-income, dual-career path is vastly better than anything we had showing that 60s housewives preferred anything remotely like today's life plans.

The available women on Tinder and Bumble over the age of 40 are well educated. Their stories often lead with their post graduate education and business accomplishments but nobody cares.

In contrast, an Asian immigrant (illegal) woman friend of mine has a stunningly gorgeous university educated 22 year old daughter who has just accepted a marriage proposal from a 44 year old high status American man. Her immigration problems are solved and he will take care of this beauty. The whole process, from arrival in the US, the online search, and the marriage proposal took 5 months.

Those 40 year old, educated, accomplished, divorced American women face serious competition.
They might have to aim lower or get a kitten.

And yes, those Asian women think that the average, chubby, divorced, employed, home-owning American nice guy make great husbands. I couldn't believe it myself, but I have seen it over and over.

American woman are demanding, entitled, and increasingly single.

I love Asian women. I think they are gorgeous.

but bourgeois Betty living in Camp Cupcake couldn't be bothered to call me by my name despite talking trash about me for hundreds of pages. That pretty much exhausts the "underlying issues."

Vietnam war? poverty? Civil rights? Repression of free thought? Decades to obtain women's suffrage? Gay rights? Decent health care? Enough underlying issues for you. Which is not to say that there wasn't an eventual degeneration into narcissm.

Marx was a lifelong slouch and mooch and ne-er do well and bigot. What could it mean?

Check out "Conservatives: An Obituary". For that matter, if you read the actual article you'll find that she blames the Right for the rise of the ideology of the New Left.

Who cancelled Fauci? No one!
Who booked Fauci? No one!

No tests for Americans! We don't wear no stinking masks!
Make my day - cough!

OK, so much for lame viral meme merry making in what are turning into some pretty grim days.

“Logical Positivism carried it further ... by proclaiming that knowledge consists of linguistic manipulations.”

Logical Positivism (with all its many faults) says no such thing - it does say that all a priori knowledge is analytic/linguistic in nature, but a posteriori knowledge is straightforwardly substantial knowledge about the world.

I.e. Rand gets it wrong!

Agreed. This is just really miscomprehension on Rand’s part.

At the time of her writing, in general, weren't all Americans the most privileged group of their kind in history, or very close to it?

Not most *privileged*, most prosperous. There is an important difference.

Those born into American citizenship were therefore privileged.

Those who naturalised as Americans were shrewd shoppers.

"check your privilege"/ "that's your privilege talking"
to which one may respond:
"i am sorry that the World has screwed you over, but the World owes you nothing"

It's interesting question: If someone says that they are lucky to live in the freest and most prosperous country and time in human history (to date), are they "privileged"? Nowadays at least, "privileged" connotes something that one ought not to have. But, if Americans are merely enjoying the liberties that all people should have, even if very few do, does that constitute privilege?

Of course, those that think only in terms of inequality might indeed characterize having more than the average level of liberty (or anything else) as privilege.

leftist marxist wokies claim free speech is a privilege.
it is actually a right

Words man, right? I'm old enough to remember how we used to refer to the "underprivileged".

Hell, I'm even old enough to have been taught to always "count your blessings" in this life, which sounds suspiciously like a lot of the current messaging but lacking in the edgy dickishness that is par for the course nowadays.

Which is to say, yes of course, the level of discourse and culture has declined generally since the late 1960s.

The distinction I like is that people used to talk about "deprivation" - some set of people who didn't have the basics of what everyone should have - and then talked about "underprivilege" (an odd linguistic formation), and now talk about "privilege".

There's a reverse of focus on the idea of helping some small subset of people who didn't get enough and leaving it at that, to doing nothing much about "deprivation" while trying to pull down the privileged.

Which matches with the shift of New Left to a group bred in the universities, who are more interested in replacing or otherwise bringing down social elites, more than tackling severe material want.

"who are more interested in replacing or otherwise bringing down social elites, more than tackling severe material want."

Solving problems is hard, complaining is easy.

For many years, I have wondered if Tyler is ever bothered that MR attracts so many horrible people. Now I know.

I never pegged you for a Stalinist.

Ummm... Phrasing.

Ummm... No. Parsing.

Not as bad the crowd Rand attracted!

I generally like Ayn Rand, and I would consider her view of the non-aggression principle to be foundational to my view of morality. That said, she was uncharitable to an extreme when describing her opponents sometimes (the idea of hating the good just for being good, for example), and her philosophy did shade into its own form of collectivism in the form of pro-Western chauvinism sometimes, which I saw vividly when so many Ayn Rand supporters back in the early 2000s all supported the Iraq War basically on the grounds that the Iraqis were primitive and had little if any moral value were even though individualism + non-aggression principle really ought to mean that war is rarely if ever justified given that the people you kill in war are individuals who by and large did not initiate force against you. Looking back at the Ayn Rand Institute, it looks like they even ran articles that defended deliberately killing civilians on the utilitarian grounds of saving American lives (which is a perfectly legitimate argument to make, it’s just totally inconsistent with the non-aggression principle formulated by Ayn Rand): There’s also a scene in Atlas Shrugged where the objectivist hero Dagny shoots a guard and this is justified by some philosophical babble about how the guard didn’t want to take responsibility for living—again not exactly the non-aggression principle there. So I do struggle sometimes with the question of how sincerely objectivist principles were held by Ayn Rand and her followers versus how much of the appeal of objectivism was just wanting to justify pure selfishness or even might-makes-right with things like the non-aggression principle thrown in for situations where the other side has the might (as in Ayn Rand’s native Russia).

Rand was known to have been influenced by Nietzsche but her followers never took the Nietzschean lesson of watching out for their wallets when in the presence of a loud moralizer.

That scene of the killing of the guard came to my mind too and shows that "non-aggression" is a slippery and question-begging exercise. As for the Iraq War, the problem there is that the military budget during the Bush years was larger than the budget for Medicare -- if you like the Iraq War, you like big government and the taxes that are necessary to pay for it.

Wars have always been costly but usually good for the human spirit. Medicare, by contrast, is a costly new program for the last man.

A truly Nietzschean comment, which is rare.

"Starve the Beast" while ignoring structural drivers that fatten the beast seems unlikely to work any better in warfare than it does in any other policy.

The US has a large military functionally and structually because it is shouldering the military "needs" of a larger set of nations. That's what really stops spend cutting governments in the US not doing what conservative governments do the world over and cutting military budgets.

To really solve that, you need more military multilateralism, which means reallocation of allies budgets towards warfare and away from social protections.

That also means that, although you would perhaps lower risk of the Iraq Attack (summarized more or less an over-reaching and hubristic neoliberal movement to remake the Middle East on liberal democratic basis and have a strong liberal democratic ally there, with a thin figleaf of claims of actual Iraqi threat), you would have more coordination problems on those resources, and would reawaken longstanding issues between those countries which are relatively silenced by having the US as a "neutral" provider of defense (How do the Poles and French feel about a Germany and Italy that shoulder more military? Koreans about a Japan that shoulders more military?).

Simply "defunding the military" without much a plan is not going to take the world anywhere too good.

Agreed but this is more or less the defense of the status quo you would hear from the American establishment. Rand and her followers insisted taxation was a violation of individual rights but had little interest in the politics of reducing government and the unintended consequences of doing so. They hand-waived about the possibility of government being funded voluntarily but, on the U.S. side, the yearly cost of the Iraq War alone was, I think, larger than the total charitable sector.

Rand was personally and philosophically very opposed to Communism, so I think she was broadly in favor of a strong US military.

Rand was an anti-communist but was also against the Vietnam War.

Given her views below, I would say she does not want to provide defense for other nations so I say she would want a more slimmed down US military than the military-industrial complex that under the doctrine of containment grew to an enormous size after WWII.

"In my view, we should fight fascism and communism when they come to this country. As to fighting abroad, let us send all the military equipment that we can spare (without sacrifice) to any fight for freedom, whether it's against fascism or communism (which are two variants of statism). But let us never sacrifice American lives for somebody else's freedom."

Is this what you are referring to?

“Gallagher was charged in 2018 with war crimes, including that he stabbed and killed an injured and sedated teenage ISIS prisoner and afterwards posed with the body for a photo. His fellow Navy SEAL snipers also accused him of shooting several civilians during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

He was acquitted in July after a highly-publicized court-martial of all charges except one, that of posing with the ISIS teenager’s corpse. His Navy rank was reduced, his pay cut, and he was sentenced to four months of confinement.”

The s is missing in 'pardoning war criminal'

I was thinking more of these two. Lt. Clint Lorance, serving a 19-year prison sentence for ordering the murder of two unarmed Afghan villagers and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, charged with killing an Afghan man he suspected of being a Taliban bomb-maker.

The Navy Secretary lost his job because Trump did not agree with a military court reducing Gallager one step in rank . The jury is still out whether anyone will lose their job for not giving Golsteyn his Special Forces tab back (or upgrading his medal as Golsteyn feels he is entitled to). “On Dec. 3, 2019, following a thorough review, [Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette] denied Golsteyn’s request for reinstatement of the Special Forces Tab," an Army spokesperson, who declined to be identified, said in prepared statement.

Beaudette wrote in his memo denying to reinstate the tab that the Justice Department’s acting pardon attorney said the presidential pardon was preemptive, and “does not erase or expunge the record of offense charges and does not indicate innocence." (Reading between the lines, you could get the feeling that some in the military really don't like Cadet Bone Spurs.)

Never heard of Lorance but found this from his website:

Quick Facts of the Case
FACT 1: Lorance never fired his rifle, but gave the order to fire to protect his soldiers after a paratrooper saw three Afghan men on a single motorcycle speeding at the Platoon's patrol through a minefield. ​

FACT 2: The Army claimed the riders were civilian casualties, but fingerprint and DNA evidence shows they left their prints and DNA on improvised explosive devices, which the prosecution did not disclose.​

FACT 3: The prosecution did not disclose an Army Report that concluded Lorance's platoon was being scouted for an impending attack or ambush and that at least one insurgent was killed.

FACT 4: Nine soldiers were initially accused of murder, but given immunity and ordered to cooperate against Lorance.

Now why would President Trump pardon Lorance unless he strongly felt there was a miscarriage of justice? There was no upside for him.

Trump's upside is simple and obvious. Political showboating.

He gets to be seen as independent, and fighting the 'deep state', or some such. Blatant red meat pandering to his red meat base.

Plus imperiously tossing around pardons at his whim serves his system of loyalty by signaling that his whim is fickle but all-powerful, and signals others willing to commit crimes on his behalf that he's wiling to wave away charges if he chooses.

Tyler, I'm glad you review dead philosophers' ideas. It's good to evade the terrible noise we are living with. Let us make clear, however, that as you conclude in your last paragraph, those ideas are of limited value to understand what is going on and to outline the mental model that you referred to in your post about the "letter".

As we struggle to understand what is going on, we cannot ignore the mendacity and hypocrisy of living politicians and their intellectual complices in the media and academics. For example, read this

I wonder how anyone can read the NYT and not verify the reports' reliability before linking to them. Please don't tell me is an exception that confirms NYT reliability (or that confirms NYT readers are not gullible and therefore Hugo Mercier's hypothesis).

“Like every other form of collectivism, racism is a quest for the unearned.”

If this sentence were written today, especially by a white writer associated with the right, most people would assume that "racism" referred to racial preferences for minorities. In an earlier time, almost everyone would understand that "racism" referred to discrimination against minorities by whites. Given that this sentence was written in 1971 (or earlier), without seeing the rest of the essay for context, I really don't know which kind of "racism" Rand is referring to.

There was an incident recently in which a television personality said something like "most people aren't racist, but many people look back with fondness to a time when white people were in charge."

Much hilarity ensued. But I would say that was racism in the sense that Rand provides.


Can you provide a link? I could not find the incident online.

I saw it go by on Twitter. My memory wasn't perfect, but here it is:

Rand's general observations of the world she lived in seem fairly reasonable. (The New Left was nd is like that, the American feminist movement of her time was like that and is, Europe was and is like that.)

But any statement in her pronouncements that emerges from the term "earned" is generally suspect. Rand clearly has some major philosophical issues with poorly founded ideas of what is earned and what is not, and cannot really deal with fairly normal human moral sentiments towards sharing with cultural and blood relatives, except as a moral abberation and flaw. Rejecting communist notions of the human who has no self interest for notions which are as equally flawed by a lack of kin altruism, she succeeds no further in actually grasping humanity or devising a guide for "How To Live".

More recent moral thinkers have tried to use empirically and anthropologically grounded theories of human morality for a reason (rather than simply trying to deduce from pure logic and anti-communist feeling a flawed moral programme). This of course suffers from Is-Ought problems (and attempts to solve Oughts empirically, a la Sam Harris badly flawed!) but at least a conservative working from the Is pushes us away from some extent to revolutionary movements which aim to foist a new and alien moral order on society as a whole.

"without seeing the rest of the essay for context, I really don't know which kind of "racism" Rand is referring to."

Same here, and thus I don't know what to make of Tyler's reaction either.

I could read the actual essay, but between having read some of Rand's work, and Tyler's excerpts and comments here, I don't see a compelling case for that essay to be worth reading.

You wrote... "I really don't know which kind of "racism" Rand is referring to".

I suggest it's weird that you assume that it referred to anything other than all kinds of racism. Just read it like you understand the English language.

Rand's world, and Rand's view of it, are distant enough now to be almost a separate data set. And of course there were any number of possible futures between then and now.

Modern views of feminism, just in:

And a bonus link on the New New Rand:

The sensitive leftish need to get over it:

"The top writer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson has for years been using a pseudonym to post bigoted remarks on an online forum [called AutoAdmit, also known as XOXOhth,] that is a hotbed for racist, sexist, and other offensive content, CNN Business learned this week.

"Just this week, the writer, Blake Neff, responded to a thread started by another user in 2018 with the subject line, “Would u let a JET BLACK congo n****er do lasik eye surgery on u for 50% off?” Neff wrote, “I wouldn’t get LASIK from an Asian for free, so no.” (The subject line was not censored on the forum.) On June 5, Neff wrote, “Black doods staying inside playing Call of Duty is probably one of the biggest factors keeping crime down.” On June 24, Neff commented, “Honestly given how tired black people always claim to be, maybe the real crisis is their lack of sleep.” On June 26, Neff wrote that the only people who care about changing the name of the NFL’s Washington Redskins are “white libs and their university-’educated’ pets.”

"And over the course of five years, Neff has maintained a lengthy thread in which he has derided a woman and posted information about her dating life that has invited other users to mock her and invade her privacy. There has at times also been overlap between some material he posted or saw on the forum and Carlson’s show." CNN Business

I'l certainly willing to believe ill of Tucker Carlson, but I would want to read his words in context to make any judgement. Whatever value Carlson brings to the table, it comes from his public commentary and whom he invites on his show, and has very little to do with pseudonymous internet posts. Judging him based on his public words is enough.

It's a writer for Tucker Carlson, not Tucker himself.

Who committed the sin of implying that lasik was too risky even from an Asian doctor who he seems to imply would probably be more skilled than a White doctor... And that young guys playing videogames suppresses the crime rate (which is a bit of a Tyler Cowen esque statement really, dubious as it is). And being sarcastic towards both corporate sports rebrands and the meme BLM activists repeatedly saying they're "So. Tired. Of. This"...

You need to be clearer for us in bringing cancel culture to MR. Are you looking for two kills or just that of the Carlson writer?

lol, yeah, Rand had an interesting take on feminism.

Her brand of female empowerment was a female protagonist who inherited her money from her father, then sleeps her way to the top - 'trading up' for a new protector each time she identifies a more powerful and accomplished man to attach herself to.

Wouldn't it be better to read some of her actual writing before commenting on it?

apparently you need to take your own advice

Of course not. Actually knowing the other side's arguments is passe. Today one must consider intellectual purity. To read someone you disagree with will taint you, making you inherently and irredeemably evil.

George, can you name one scene where Dagney advances her career by sleeping with someone? (The scene with Francisco in the movie--as well as the movies as a whole--are demonstrably counter to what Rand wrote, so they do not count as evidence for the purposes of this argument.) Interestingly, James Taggart did sleep with people to advance his interests--twice (his wife doesn't count for obvious reasons).

Did Kamala Harris read Rand?

Subversive movements aren't announced, but they occur in plain sight. They start within a subculture, then spread like a virus. The most virulent start in a place least expected, concealing the danger that is lurking. Such a virus is lurking in plain sight in America, in a place not only least expected but constitutionally protected. And within Donald Trump's most loyal constituencies. Now, a scholar has written a new book that describes the origins of the virus and how the virus has spread. Read it. And be afraid, very afraid.

in a world
where wokie wayward warns one
to be afraid, very afraid
we gotta ask
what exactly this time
are we to be afraid, very afraid of?
be specific please
could it be a mob of
harvard (ima stab you) gender theorists?

Voltaire vs. Rousseau with a hate of the Soviet 'communism' excesses

Point 6b about Kant being "the first hippie" immediately devalues the whole thing.

Especially when we know that Herder was the first *German Romantic* hippie. The Greeks, Romans, Medieval and Renaissance Europeans, etc., had hippies.

4. “Like every other form of collectivism, racism is a quest for the unearned.” Ouch, it would be good to resuscitate this entire essay (on racism).
Why does this sentence elicit an “ouch?” Racism is refusal to compete and judge solely on terms of individual qualities. A white racist who believes he is superior because he is white is indeed engaging in a quest for the unearned.
PS, I have not read the essay.

Marx is a non sequiter. Whatever else he was, he was no slouch. Witness his oevere. Yes, I am an elitist and proud of it!

Woodstock strongly suggests that old norms were only sustainable without mass media.

#2 is very important. Perhaps more important today than in the past.

It's fun when Tyler shows his own penchant for mood affiliation. I wonder what kind of indigestion gave him and Rand such similar humors when it comes to attempts at insight on people (real and imagined) that they don't like

" had more metaphysical and ethical and aesthetic imagination "... You're talking about Lenin? Malcolm X? Mao? Angela Davis? Huey Newton? Fred Hampton? Carmichael? Ethical? Rehashed Marxism? Dogma masquerading as science?

#6. “Logical Positivism carried it further and, in the name of reason, elevated the immemorial psycho-epistemology of shyster lawyers to the status of a scientific epistemological system — by proclaiming that knowledge consists of linguistic manipulations.”

Here’s a tweet stream from the moral equivalent of a shyster lawyer, who says the truth about reality has been decided on, by litigation:

Now consider my one bit of expertise in this domain: race, IQ and genetics. IMHO people who endorse the idea that IQ gaps between so-called races have a genetic basis deserve to be condemned, and potentially denied professional privileges that are not protected by tenure. /4

The reasons are the same as for Holocaust denial: it has been litigated, there is no substantial reason to think it’s true, nothing new, and in the meantime it is disrespectful and harmful. /5

"...Woodstock, which in reality was not as far from the Apollo achievement as she was suggesting at the time."

The sad thing is, this is true. Apollo lead to nothing at best, a curtailing of the American spirit of adventure at worst. The appalling thing isn't that Woodstock was great (it wasn't--it was a failure by pretty much any measure), but that the Apollo achievements came to so little.

They both resulted in good movies. Actually, space exploration has paid off in spades, but mostly because of unmanned spacecraft that are enabling communications, including this one, and exploring the universe.

Among other outcomes of the space race there’s the miniaturization of electronics and its consequence effects on computation. (See “Hidden Figures” for a glimpse of that prior time.)

SpaceX is a failure?

Elon Musk was inspired and driven by Apollo.

And his "culture" values are very Woodstock, eg, free love, notoriety, fame, thinking the impossible

A boomer, hippie techie who was at Woodstock and followed a path/career inspired by Apollo, Elon is bringing back the can-do America the GOP, Reagan, McConnell, Trump have been trying to kill since the 50s.

Best of all, Elon Musk is an illegal immigrant given amnesty by Clinton and thus a real African American. Who passes as white.

In any case, Elon would certainly find John Galt hollow, fake.

Elon easily admits he's not self made. He came to the US because he could do what he wanted on his own. Tesla and SpaceX exist because of the Federal government. In fact, Elon wouldn't have got the funding without the "leftists" picking the government built Internet as the winner over AOL, IBM, Microsoft, ISO OSI circa 1992-1995.

The followers of Ayn Rand politically are the ones creating failure, though the GOP getting in bed with Christian right saved them from being tied directly to Ayn Rand.

As mere humans, lacking omniscience, we can and should only restrict ourselves to largely immediately consequential successes.

Did the failure of Roanoke and Darien really set the scene, ideologically, for later, successful colonies, and so should, to an omniscienist Boltzman Galaxy Brain, be counted as successes? Well, perhaps, yes, perhaps no. But neither is really knowable for us, so we can only restrict ourselves to whether they failed or succeeded on their immediate terms. Not some complex web of fundamentally untestable and certainly unintended claimed consequence.

In the spirit of this, Dinwar's assessment seems not so bad.

"As mere humans, lacking omniscience, we can and should only restrict ourselves to largely immediately consequential successes."

Obviously not true. See Maxwell's Equations. There is a strong role for things--especially research--that has no immediate application. By casting a tremendously wide net we gather a huge body of data that can be used in unexpected ways, allowing us to advance in ways that we previously thought impossible.

If humans return to the Moon, it will NOT be because of the Apollo program. It will be because of new programs, which we should logically evaluate on their own. If Apollo were to have come to something, it would have been because we kept pushing, instead of retreating like we did.

What does SpaceX have to do with evaluating the Apollo program? If SpaceX is worthy of praise or scorn, it is so by its own merits. You can't place the credit or blame on Apollo. A person can be inspired by many things--see the discovery of the benzene molecule structure--but the action and the inspiration should logically be evaluated separately.

As for the rest....glad you got that off your chest. Irrelevant to anything I said, though, so I'm not sure why you bothered.

@mulp . . . "A boomer, hippie techie who was at Woodstock and followed a path/career inspired by Apollo, Elon is bringing back the can-do America . . . "

Are you saying Elon Musk was at Woodstock? He was born in 1971, and Woodstock was in 1969. Neither is he a boomer. He is a "Gen X-er."

From what I've read of hers, Rand always seemed rather a lightweight, like Nietzsche. There's definitely a market for that kind of thing, but she often comes off as rather ignorant and gullible. I think this set of notes captures that fairly well.

Tyler, thanks for pointing out Rand's excellent collection of essays that because they deal in eternal philosophical fundamentals, remain relevant today. Reading her own essays remind me what a unique eye she had for identifying the philosophical premises underlying any topics. Superior in that respect to any author I have ever seen. She was not a conservative, nor a Libertarian, she was an powerful advocate of reason, individualism, and capitalism, and was utterly committed to her ideals. So powerful was her writing that nearly 50 years after her death, her writing still has an enthusiastic audience, and her many philosophical opponents still have a small industry of making ad hominim attacks on her while manufacturing straw-man versions of her ideas to knock down and to dissuade others from reading her actual work for themselves.

Objectivism believes in tabula rasa
Objectivism is wrong

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