Žižek Blames the US Government Shutdown on Ayn Rand’s Acolytes Who Caused the 2008 Collapse


Images via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

The gov­ern­ment shut­down and the rais­ing of the debt ceil­ing — such things are not usu­al­ly grist for our cul­tur­al mill. But all of that changes when a cul­tur­al the­o­rist pins the blame for Wash­ing­ton’s dys­func­tion on the acolytes of a pseu­do-philoso­pher. Writ­ing in The Guardian last Fri­day, in sim­ple, straight­for­ward prose, Slove­ni­a’s favorite the­o­rist Slavoj Žižek asks and answers a ques­tion in the title of his op-ed: “Who is respon­si­ble for the US shut­down? The same idiots respon­si­ble for the 2008 melt­down”. And who are those “idiots,” you might won­der? Let me spare you the sus­pense and jump you down to the last two para­graphs of his piece:

One of the weird con­se­quences of the 2008 finan­cial melt­down and the mea­sures tak­en to coun­ter­act it (enor­mous sums of mon­ey to help banks) was the revival of the work of Ayn Rand, the clos­est one can get to an ide­ol­o­gist of the “greed is good” rad­i­cal cap­i­tal­ism. The sales of her opus Atlas Shrugged explod­ed. Accord­ing to some reports, there are already signs that the sce­nario described in Atlas Shrugged – the cre­ative cap­i­tal­ists them­selves going on strike – is com­ing to pass in the form of a pop­ulist right. How­ev­er, this mis­reads the sit­u­a­tion: what is effec­tive­ly tak­ing place today is almost the exact oppo­site. Most of the bailout mon­ey is going pre­cise­ly to the Ran­di­an “titans”, the bankers who failed in their “cre­ative” schemes and there­by brought about the finan­cial melt­down. It is not the “cre­ative genius­es” who are now help­ing ordi­nary peo­ple, it is the ordi­nary peo­ple who are help­ing the failed “cre­ative genius­es”.

John Galt, the cen­tral char­ac­ter in Atlas Shrugged, is not named until near the end of the nov­el. Before his iden­ti­ty is revealed, the ques­tion is repeat­ed­ly asked, “Who is John Galt”. Now we know pre­cise­ly who he is: John Galt is the idiot respon­si­ble for the 2008 finan­cial melt­down, and for the ongo­ing fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shut­down in the US.

We’re not say­ing it’s the most tren­chant analy­sis, but we do like to take note of intel­lec­tu­al dus­tups. Speak­ing of, did you miss the Chom­sky-Žižek spat from the sum­mer? It went four rounds. Round 1. Round 2. Round 3. Round 4. And end­ed in a draw.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ayn Rand Adamant­ly Defends Her Athe­ism on The Phil Don­ahue Show (Cir­ca 1979)

William F. Buck­ley Flogged Him­self to Get Through Atlas Shrugged

Mike Wal­lace Inter­views Ayn Rand (1959)

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  • TorArneRysstad says:

    What utter and embar­rass­ing dri­v­el!!

    • Michael Morse says:

      I agree com­plete­ly. Atlas Shrugged is the worst nov­el I’ve ever read. And Rand’s pse­duo-phi­los­o­phy is just you describe it!

  • Dri­v­el is right! Now I know not to ever both­er read­ing any­thing u017diu017eek writes. He has no idea what Rand’s ideas are, nor any idea as to cir­cum­stances that lead to the 2008 mort­gage cri­sis, nor what quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing con­sti­tutes. nnSuch igno­rance is bad enough in one man, but when inher­ent in a wide­ly read news­pa­per it reveals a cul­tur­al decay… the ubiq­ui­ty of minds will­ing to engage in & repeat the same lev­el of igno­rance, like chat­ter­ing 19th Cen­tu­ry fish­wives.

    • Antediluviancurrent says:

      Stan­dard lib­er­tar­i­an retort: I don’t like the tropes you’re using, there­fore they are some­how log­i­cal fal­lac­i­es and you’re fac­tu­al­ly wrong but I won’t say what exact­ly.

      • It is not ille­git­i­mate rea­son­ing to sim­ply state that an argu­ment is wrong or mis­in­formed. nnIt is ille­git­i­mate rea­son­ing to sim­ply address only that state­ment as being an unfound­ed, knee jerk reac­tion, rather than exam­ine why it was made… and as such is a much less intel­li­gent effort.nnTo touch on some facts…nnRand did not approve of gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion in busi­ness, nor the mon­ey sup­ply (Greenspan aban­doned her ideas quite quick­ly after becom­ing Fed Chair­man, and did a lot of dam­age as a result). Rand would not have approved of Fed­er­al­ly backed mort­gage pro­grams. If u017diu017eek and you were to pay any atten­tion to what Ayn Rand Insti­tute writ­ers have been say­ing, you would know that they oppose bailouts and fiat mon­ey print­ing, and vehe­ment­ly oppose the social­ist crony­ism in which both Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans rou­tine­ly engage.nnAs I said in my com­ment, the prob­lem is that nei­ther you, nor u017diu017eek, nor the author [nor Michael Morse, below] give a damn about dig­ging for, and learn­ing, the truth (as opposed to skim­ming for neg­a­tives). The rep­e­ti­tion of, or hasty jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of, rather hate­ful and mind­less gos­sip is all you need or want.

        • Antediluviancurrent says:

          Acolytes is the key­word here. That’s the part you missed.nnRegardless of what Rand and her devo­tees might ide­al­ly con­ceive, some of Rand’s oth­er fol­low­ers are out there in posi­tions of pow­ers, at the head of busi­ness­es and banks.nThose acolytes did­n’t play hard­core cap­i­tal­ism in their fic­tious Atlantis, but in the real world, an assem­blage of over­lap­ping fields of insti­tu­tions. It’s pret­ty much like cel­e­brat­ing the 4th of July with fire­works in a liv­ing room.nnOf course if Rand were to call the shots, we’d have no bailouts what­so­ev­er. Not even the notion of pub­lic goods.nHer utopic belief that with a tru­ly free mar­ket things would get back to nor­mal nat­u­ral­ly is not some­thing a demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety can afford for a long time. It has to inter­vene at some point under the pres­sure of its peo­ple. The irony is that only an author­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­ment would be able to not inter­vene in a crip­pling economy.nnGreenspan only aban­doned his Ran­di­an mind­set after 2008, up until then he was con­vinced he was doing the right (Ran­di­an) thing.nThe idea that those acolytes who messed up did­n’t remain ‘true’ to Rand’s ideas is on par with some Marx­ists claim­ing the fail­ure of com­mu­nism was its execu­tors and not the idea itself.nIt’s the whole notion of “cap­i­tal­ism impure­ly applied” which is just anoth­er rev­o­lu­tion­ary mod­el for soci­etal change.

          • An acolyte is not nec­es­sar­i­ly a syco­phant. I am an acolyte of Dar­win, with respect to both his think­ing meth­ods and his prin­ci­ple of evo­lu­tion of species through nat­ur­al selec­tion. I also ful­ly accept the prin­ci­ples of Least Squares in sta­tis­ti­cal analy­ses, I con­sid­er rape, rob­bery and mur­der to be wrong, no mat­ter who does it. nnAc­cept­ing and liv­ing by some­one else’s valid ideas is not a weak­ness. How­ev­er, It is a ter­ri­ble weak­ness to accept and act on ideas that are not valid.nnThere are many Ran­di­ans who are an embar­rass­ment to Objec­tivism (Whole Foods CEO comes to mind). Greenspan was ter­ri­ble long, long before 2008, but one would have to under­stand Rand to real­ize that! There are oth­ers whom you imag­ine to be Ran­di­an, and sim­ply are not. They are not even cap­i­tal­ists u2014few busi­ness­men actu­al­ly are, but the media likes to say they are.nnYes, the par­al­lel between Marx­ism has nev­er been prop­er­ly imple­ment­ed and cap­i­tal­ism has nev­er been prop­er­ly imple­ment­ed is entic­ing, but it is a canard.nnLook around the world. Every nation that has less gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion in their econ­o­my has a wealth­i­er, health­i­er, hap­pi­er cit­i­zen­ry (with some excep­tions due to dis­tor­tions (Lux­em­borg is a nation of wealthy peo­ple who large­ly oper­ate out­side the nation.) Every nation with more social­ist inter­ven­tion, in a hun­dred dif­fer­ent imple­men­ta­tions, is in decline, or is hang­ing on, semi-stag­nant, due to the per­sis­tent reg­u­la­tions and redis­tri­b­u­tions that under­cut the pro­duc­tive in favor of the unpro­duc­tive. The USA boomed after slav­ery end­ed because the pro­duc­tive kept most of what they pro­duced, and used it to make more! The low­er class believed they had a chance, if they worked for it, so they did You do not see that under any oth­er politi­co-eco­nom­ic system.nnOne of more dis­heart­en­ing actions of the anti-cap­i­tal­ists is to observe a busi­ness fail­ing caused, or enabled, by gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions, and to them blame the fail­ing on cap­i­tal­ism while clam­or­ing for even more inter­ven­tion. It is just that kind of insan­i­ty that now has the US under a $17trillion dol­lar debt load, and many oth­er coun­tries are in the same sit­u­a­tion. If you read Atlas Shrugged, with some con­sid­er­able care, you will find that Rand pre­dict­ed exact­ly that, and even offered char­ac­ters that are not unlike a great many who have appeared in Wash­ing­ton over the last 5 or 6 administrations.nnAS for “a tru­ly free mar­ket get­ting things back to nor­mal”, What the heck is “nor­mal”? I say “nor­mal” is when every man is expect­ed to respect the right to life lib­er­ty and prop­er­ty of oth­er men.… and that means every man in gov­ern­ment too. Of course, their will be many excep­tions, which is the only rea­son police and courts are nec­es­sary. Now, the cul­ture is so crap­py (notice­ably so since I was a boy in 1959), that adults are unsure what respect­ing anoth­er’s rights actu­al­ly means! This is most notable among politi­cians and bureaucrats.nnWith the par­tial excep­tion of Ted Cruz, not one man in Wash­ing­ton gives a damn about the lib­er­ty or prop­er­ty of Amer­i­cans so long as they can use one or the oth­er to cre­ate the illu­sion of pub­lic ser­vice, to stay in polit­i­cal pow­er.

          • Antediluviancurrent says:

            As I expect­ed this would end up in an apol­o­gy for cap­i­tal­ism, with an attrac­tive look­ing albeit sim­pli­fied overview of the suc­cess sto­ry of cap­i­tal, of course ignor­ing the entire­ty of world his­to­ry, name­ly (post)colonialism and the con­ve­nient­ly ignored role of the state over the past few cen­turies as the tool which paved the road for the new indus­tri­al upper class.nnYou regur­gi­tat­ed the “true” ver­sus “false” capitalism/capitalists par­a­digm, as if there is such a thing, or is even rel­e­vant out­side of the offices of doc­tri­nary thinkers.nWe’re unable to dis­cuss com­plex con­di­tions of exis­tence with this sort of fan­ta­sism that insists that u201cthe could be” and “the true” is a use­ful cat­e­go­ry for describ­ing dai­ly life and the mar­ket that social­ly orga­nizes it.nnThe elit­ist trap­pings of Ran­di­an log­ic are obvi­ous when it urges the so-called Atlass­es to go ‘on strike’ ( i.e. rev­o­lu­tion ). nBut when­ev­er cap­i­tal’s in cri­sis and its class’s pow­er in dan­ger, the state’s a nec­es­sary evil. Then the Stephan Molyneux-type rants stop, for a moment.nFascism in Chili was­n’t as evil for Fried­man as social democ­rats. Pinochet did what he was told, unlike the low­er class­es and their pesky delu­sions find­ing agency.nSo claim­ing anti­de­mo­c­ra­t­ic sen­ti­ment isn’t far-fetched at all. Quite the con­trary, it’s inher­ent to it.

          • Wow. Do you have any idea that you streamed con­scious­ness with­out check­ing whether it had any ref­er­ence to real­i­ty at all?nnnUh, … it did­n’t.

          • Antediluviancurrent says:

            And so we come full cir­cle to the stan­dard lib­er­tar­i­an retort.nHave a good night.

          • No cir­cle, Antediluviancurrent,You just spewed mean­ing­less BS, is all. nSe­ri­ous­ly, is that all you’ve got?

          • Antediluviancurrent says:

            Mean­ing­less BS? Well if that’s what you want to call a pre­lim­i­nary on con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing cap­i­tal­ism, its his­toric­i­ty. I don’t real­ly care what logo­cen­tric econ­o­mists have ide­al­ly con­ceived in their offices. As I said, the “could/should be” of ‘Objec­tivism’ is irrel­e­vant as Atlantis does­n’t exist and a Ran­di­an mind­set is as destruc­tive as any utopi­an irre­spon­si­bly enact­ing his pipe dream in this world.nnnWith your point being that ‘real’ Ran­di­ans aren’t in the posi­tions of pow­er they need to be, I’ve heard enough. You’re part of the same ide­al­ist tra­di­tion Karl Pop­per dis­trust­ed. Hope­ful­ly I won’t live to see the day where the ‘real’ philoso­phers rule the world.

          • If you are try­ing to “con­tex­tu­al­ize cap­i­tal­ism”, do it thor­ough­ly & accu­rate­ly, rather than through the the bloody red lens­es of Marx­ist thinkers, & their dis­tort­ed use of words which jus­ti­fy or blank out the corpses their ideas produce.nnAn hon­est mind does not need Rand to rec­og­nize that Cap­i­tal­ism with­out gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion enhances life and jus­tice. Noth­ing else com­pares. nnDo not fall for the dis­gust­ing claims that men like Lay or Mad­off are busi­ness­men… and then blame all busi­ness. Nor pre­sume a man like Blank­fein (Gold­man Sachs) is a cap­i­tal­ist… his career entailed play­ing to gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion while try­ing to man­age mon­ey pro­duc­tive­ly (for share­hold­ers). That leaves a lot of room for prac­tices that might be unfair.nn(See “Bernie Mad­off, Steve Jobs, and Wall Street Greed”)nnOne thing is always unfair: tak­ing (by theft, fraud or force of gov­ern­ment) one per­son­’s mon­ey against his will and giv­ing it to some­one else. The extent to which that prac­tice is insti­tu­tion­al­ized is pro­por­tion­al to the decline and stag­na­tion of a nation’s econ­o­my. As that decline pro­gress­es, who suf­fers the most? Always the peo­ple the ‘redis­trib­u­tors’ insist they are try­ing to help! It’s bla­tant­ly sick, yet it nev­er stops the redis­trib­u­tors. The rea­son is that help­ing the poor is not their fun­da­men­tal moti­va­tion. Their deep­er moti­va­tion is envi­ous hatred of the wealthy.nnFinally, you don’t want to see “the ‘real’ philoso­phers rule the world”. But most of the World is ruled by a destruc­tive phi­los­o­phy that is var­i­ous blends of Ide­al­is­tic, Pla­ton­ic mys­ti­cism. Major play­ers have been

          • Antediluviancurrent says:

            And how are the lens­es of Ran­di­an think­ing not dis­tort­ing real­i­ty? It works both ways. nnY­our focuss is on how much cap­i­tal­ism makes philo­soph­i­cal­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly ‘sense’. But ideas do not con­ceive in the offices of the depart­ments of phi­los­o­phy and bloom unper­turbed in soci­ety. As I said before, you con­ve­nient­ly ignore (or your priv­i­leged posi­tion makes you unaware of what lies beyond the com­fort zone of the West) his­to­ry and contemporaneity.nnTalking about the march of cap­i­tal­ism with­out once men­tion­ing the colo­nial con­text of f.e. British indus­tr­lal cap­i­tal­ism and the tragedy of the com­mons is gross­ly incom­plete. Cap­i­tal­ism is his­tor­i­cal. This is no chick­en or egg ques­tion. The ideas con­ceived about cap­i­tal­ism ( and what it should ide­al­ly be ) came after­wards. Adam Smith was describ­ing as much as he was the­o­riz­ing about the dynam­ics of the market.nnNeither will I return to who is true to the prin­ci­ples of Objec­tivism or not. This “No True Scots­man” is not worth debat­ing.

        • Michael Morse says:

          I hard­ly see how some­one who affects to call her­self a philoso­pher, and dis­miss­es Kant and Hegel in a nscant 10 pages as “col­lec­tivists,” sic, can be accused of “giv­ing a damn about dig­ging for and learn­ing the truth,” much less eschew­ing the “skim­ming for neg­a­tives.”

          • Many ideas can be seen as wrong in sec­onds, if the essen­tial, wrong-head­ed, premise is evi­dent. Once evi­dent, one need only address that premise, as the essen­tial, with­out explor­ing every nook and cran­ny of it. That may be of inter­est to some­one else (See “Kan­t’s Gim­mick” by Adam Mossoff), but it was not as impor­tant to Rand. One of her prin­ci­ples was not to negate some­thing with­out replac­ing it with a pos­i­tive. nnRand would make a con­cise case, rather than rely on sim­ply smear­ing that with which she dis­agrees. She did call some things “dis­gust­ing”, but usu­al­ly in con­junc­tion with a few sen­tences that show why. Smear­ing (“arro­gant, dead­bone igno­rant and high-hand­ed”) by itself is very much the resort of a per­son who has failed to under­stand, thus reveal­ing their own prob­lems with arro­gance and igno­rance. It’s a shame, real­ly. nnBTW, “the philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tion” is why phi­los­o­phy seems so use­less to most peo­ple. Those ‘Philoso­phers’ epit­o­mize Ivory Tow­er detach­ment from the real world… a prob­lem Jonathan Swift lam­pooned near­ly 300 years ago. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, his sto­ry had lit­tle effect. Those he lam­pooned even laud­ed his sto­ry, whilst con­tin­u­ing their ‘tra­di­tion’.

          • Michael Morse says:

            Mis­ter Bramwell:nnn Isn’t this what you’ve said? : Because the philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tion seems wrong-head­ed to “most peo­ple,” because it refused to learn from Swift’s (or Aristo­phanes’s) satire, then Rand is entire­ly jus­ti­fied in ignor­ing it–in the name of philosophy?n I’m sor­ry, but I think any­one who dis­miss­es thinkers as for­mi­da­ble as Kant or Hegel with an absurd­ly sim­plis­tic and vac­u­ous label like “col­lec­tivist” los­es their right to be called “philoso­pher.” Look at Straw­son’s amaz­ing­ly nuanced crit­i­cal study of Kant, or Adorno’s pen­e­trat­ing book on Hegel. Oh, and where is Husserl in Rand’s “cri­tique”? Even by her back alley mug­ging stan­dard, there’s no way to dis­miss his work as “col­lec­tivist”; so she leaves him out. Dit­to Wittgen­stein, Pop­per, Straw­son, Mer­leau-Pon­ty, Adorno, Buber, Weber, Niet­zsche, JS Mill, CS Peirce, Spin­oza, Leib­niz, Hume, Locke (!), Rousseau, Rus­sell, White­head.. every sin­gle one of these thinkers deserves the garbage can, just because Swift ridiculed phi­los­o­phy? Real­ly? But it’s clear that Rand nev­er read any of these folks. And what evi­dence is there that she read any­one after Aris­to­tle seri­ous­ly? (And even his eude­mon­ics and ethics get shoved off to the side.) Her ver­sion of prac­ti­cal­i­ty and get­ting to the heart of the mat­ter was to leave out any­thing and every­thing that would com­pli­cate her coarse, pseu­do-rea­soned insis­tences. Pop­u­lar thought? Yes. Influ­en­tial? Oh, yeah. Phi­los­o­phy. Please, let’s be seri­ous here.nn(ps: this post­ing makes a sub­stan­tial case for an atti­tude to phi­los­o­phy on Rand’s part that is very much “arro­gant, high hand­ed, and dead­bone igno­rant”; if it’s true, then t’ain’t a smear, is it?)

          • The ref­er­ence to Swift was not sug­gest­ing that his was the defin­i­tive state­ment. I was ask­ing you to look at the broad scope of phi­los­o­phy (aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and cul­tur­al­ly) to rec­og­nize the point Swift was mak­ing. That’s quite different.nnI do know that she read most of those you name, and many oth­ers. Cer­tain­ly her lit­er­ary heir Leonard Peikoff did (See his two vol­ume, 24 lec­ture series on The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy. You can scan the index to Vol­ume 1 http://www.peikoff.com/courses_and_lectures/the-history-of-philosophy-volume-1-%E2%80%93-founders-of-western-philosophy-thales-to-hume/ ). The lec­ture series is lim­it­ed to essen­tials, with crit­i­cal com­men­tary. He rec­om­mends the “The His­to­ry of West­ern Phi­los­o­phy” a 5 vol­ume work by W.T. Jones for clean descrip­tions of each philoso­pher’s ideas..nnMost of the philoso­phers you list rehash, or add to, the same fun­da­men­tal ideas (from mys­ti­cism or col­lec­tivism) using new word­ings (Locke is a def­i­nite excep­tion, and some have bet­ter moments.) In many places Rand refers to their ideas, but with­out specif­i­cal­ly nam­ing them. (E.g. she rec­og­nized the absur­di­ty of Prag­ma­tism and wrote against it; that’s C.S.Pierce).nnTheir ideas should not be thrown in the lit­er­al garbage can. They should be retained so that garbage can be rec­og­nized by each new gen­er­a­tion. Their works, right or wrong, are an impor­tant, not to men­tion major, part of the his­to­ry of philo­soph­i­cal thought. It is invalu­able to see how ideas move from “The Repub­lic” to “The City of Love” to “A Cri­tique of Pure Rea­son” to “Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy of Spir­it” to “The Com­mu­nist Man­i­festo” to “Mein Kampf” (with many steps and branch­es in between). One can see how those who do not learn from his­to­ry are doomed to repeat­ed it, with all the vio­lence, pover­ty, & ill­ness that implies.nnYou wrote, n’But it’s clear that Rand nev­er read any of these folks. ‘nandn“Her ver­sion of prac­ti­cal­i­ty and get­ting to the heart of the mat­ter was to leave out any­thing and every­thing that would com­pli­cate her…” nnnNo, you nev­er both­ered to dig enough to learn what she knew, as was imme­di­ate­ly obvi­ous with your very first com­ment. That makes you guilty of your own accu­sa­tions. There is a word for that.

          • Harry Binswanger says:

            Rand does­n’t “dis­miss” Kant and Hegel, she gave the immor­tal refu­ta­tion of Kan­t’s entire sys­tem, his sep­a­ra­tion of con­scious­ness from exis­tence (phe­nom­e­na from noume­na). nn“His [Kan­t’s] argu­ment, in essence, ran as fol­lows: man is lim­it­ed to a con­scious­ness of a spe­cif­ic nature, which per­ceives by spe­cif­ic means and no oth­ers, there­fore, his con­scious­ness is not valid; man is blind, because he has eyesu2014deaf, because he has earsu2014deluded, because he has a mind…” [Rand, For the New Intel­lec­tu­al, 1961]nnnnNow THAT’s an argu­ment. A pro­found one that inte­grates and refutes the slight-of-hand that gets Kant off the ground (the rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al­ist idea that the *object* of aware­ness is not real­i­ty but our *form* of per­ceiv­ing it).nnnAs to Hegel, he is just Kant with­out the unknow­able noume­nal world. (And that view is a stan­dard one, not lim­it­ed to Objec­tivists.)

          • Michael Morse says:

            Pre­sum­ably, an “immor­tal refu­ta­tion” would con­sist of a coher­ent argu­ment that address­es the oppo­nen­t’s stat­ed posi­tions. Rand fails on both counts. The lat­ter part of her state­ment about Kant is of course noth­ing but anal­o­gy; if she had read her Aris­to­tle a lit­tle more care­ful­ly, she’d know that’s a fal­la­cy. Far more impor­tant­ly, Kant *nev­er* said, nor implied, “there­fore, [his] con­scious­ness is not valid.” That’s not even close to an accept­able para­phrase of the phenomenon/noumenon argu­ment, much less an argu­men­ta­tive refu­ta­tion. n The whole point of Cri­tique of Pure Rea­son is that our “con­scious­ness” IS “valid”–a crude and stu­pid word for it, in the con­text. Kant argues that we DO know “things in them­selves,” but we do not know them in them­selves. This is read­i­ly demon­stra­ble in ordi­nary, a pos­te­ri­ori exam­ples. Every­one who dri­ves a car per­force knows that a com­bus­tion engine pow­ers it; only the tech­ni­cal­ly trained know how. VERY crude­ly, that’s what Kant is on about. (And may I trust you to rec­og­nize that, like Rand, what I have offered here is NOT an argu­ment, but a descrip­tion?) n In short, the (admit­ted­ly over­com­plex) dis­tinc­tions Kant argues are exact­ly *not* an abrupt, either-or dis­tinc­tion of “real­i­ty” and “form of per­ceiv­ing it.” (And does Rand real­ly want to argue that human con­scious­ness and per­cep­tion are not delim­it­ing fac­tors in and of knowledge?)n Describ­ing Hegel as “Kant with­out the unknow­able noume­nal world” is a mis­state­ment so pre­pos­ter­ous that I can only rec­om­mend a seri­ous read­ing of the Pref­ace to the Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy. If anything–and not that this is any­thing like straight-for­ward­ly cor­rect, either–Hegel’s attack on Kant starts by deny­ing the phe­nom­e­nal world. (See the sense cer­tain­ty chapter.)n All I’m say­ing is that if Rand and her acolytes haven’t the patience to read these peo­ple with care and a com­pre­hend­ing ear, stop try­ing to pre­tend that what you’re offer­ing is phi­los­o­phy. You/she can kick stones, and dis­miss phi­los­o­phy and the philoso­phers all you want; but until you can come up with some­thing more sub­stan­tial than straw man and argu­ment from anal­o­gy, you ain’t in the game, folks.

          • Harry Binswanger says:

            I am trav­el­ing and do not have with me my copies of The Cri­tique and Stace (I freely admit not read­ing more than a few pages of Hegel, who is the among the most unin­tel­li­gi­ble writ­ers in his­to­ry). Your inter­pre­ta­tion of Kant is com­plete­ly at odds with the schol­ar­ship that exist­ed, long ago, when I was get­ting my Ph.D. nI do recall that Kant famous­ly wrote, in the pref­ace to the 2nd ed. of the Cri­tique that “I had to deny knowl­edge in order to make room for faith.” (And yes, I’ve checked the Ger­man on that, and “deny” is a good trans­la­tion.) He also says that we may have more suc­cess in meta­physics if we cease try­ing to make our con­cep­tions fit the object and try mak­ing the object fit our con­cep­tions (the word­ing there I don’t recall as well, but the idea was the com­plete rever­sal of the rela­tion­ship of con­scious­ness to existence).nWhat on earth do you take the Cat­e­gories to be if not the con­struc­tors of the phe­nom­e­nal world? Do you think, for instance, that causal­i­ty is, for Kant, a fact about the world, and not an ele­ment added by con­scious­ness to a non-causal world? What else is a “syn­thet­ic a pri­ori” in his sys­tem but a struc­tur­ing addi­tion to *con­tent* (not like an engine)?nnnOn Rand’s immor­tal refu­a­tion, leav­ing aside his­tor­i­cal ques­tions, would you agree that this is the immor­tal refu­ta­tion of any philoso­pher who argues, whether Kant did or not, that con­scious­ness can­not know things “as they real­ly are” because the nature of our means of aware­ness inescapable alters our per­cep­tions and con­cep­tions? (and sure­ly you must agree that that view­point is ram­pant in the his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy, regard­less of the issue of who spawned it).

          • Michael Morse says:

            My prin­ci­ple quib­ble was with the word “[not] valid” to describe Kan­t’s account of con­scious­ness. The phenomenal/noumenal dis­tinc­tion was fun­da­men­tal­ly an attempt to over­come Humean skep­ti­cism, and sec­on­dar­i­ly Leibnizian/Cartesian dog­mat­ic ratio­nal­ism. Again, Kant says we *do&* expe­ri­ence things in them­selves, just not in them­selves. That’s in tune with Cas­sir­er, Wolff, Paton, & trans­la­tor Kemp Smith. Most impor­tant­ly, it’s what Kant said. Any refu­ta­tion of any­thing else is pure straw man.n Of course I’m aware of Kan­t’s maudlin state­ments about faith and rea­son. Against this, I can only coun­ter­poise the lit­er­al­ly dar­ing “Reli­gion with the Bounds..,” which damn near got him arrest­ed. But, sure, state­ments like the one you quote are sil­ly. *But*: so you’re quote from Rand! You admit to not read­ing Hegel; did Rand? I just don’t see how you can dis­miss some­one you haven’t read. (And I have read, afaik, every­thing Rand pub­lished in her life­time after Fountainhead.)n But Rand’s atti­tude to the philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tion as a whole com­pares very uneasi­ly to L. Ron Hub­bard’s view of psy­chol­o­gy. Sure, every damn one of ’em from Aris­to­tle to Wittgen­stein starts by tri­umphant­ly show­ing how their pre­de­ces­sors were pop­py­cock. And Wittgen­stein was prob­a­bly even less well read in phi­los­o­phy than Rand. But the author of the Inves­ti­ga­tions, if not the Trac­ta­tus, is at poles apart from the mes­sian­ic self-con­grat­u­la­tion of Rand or Hub­bard. And from their defi­ant­ly nuance-less, ahis­tor­i­cal ver­sion of truth and human history.n I live by the damnable code that has made philoso­phers fig­ures of ridicule ever since Aristo­phanes. But it is also the code that has giv­en human­i­ty some of its most exalt­ed insights: it ain’t that sim­ple.

          • Harry Binswanger says:

            You’ve read her _Introduction to Objec­tivist Epistemology_? nnnIf so, I don’t see how you can com­pare her thought to the non-thought of L. Ron Hub­bard! nnnY­ou did­n’t answer my final query: does her “blind because eyes” show the error in all those “per­spec­ti­val­ists” and sub­jec­tivists (Niet­zsche for one of many) who claim the means of aware­ness sub­jec­tivizes the con­tent of aware­ness?

          • Michael Morse says:

            Dear Harry,nn No, I haven’t read the “Intro”–a posthu­mous pub­li­ca­tion, ja? I would do so, if not entire­ly glad­ly, if it address­es in any sense this cru­cial point: “sub­jec­tive” and “objec­tive” are not sim­ple, read­i­ly defin­able, once-and-for-all cat­e­gories of expe­ri­ence. Call­ing Kant, Hegel, or even Niet­zsche for that mat­ter “per­spec­ti­val­ists,” as if their philoso­phies enshrined some form of solip­sist arbi­trari­ness, is the oppo­site of the truth. All three attempt a ratio­nal cri­tique of sub­jec­tiv­i­ty, attempt­ing to estab­lish what it is, how it works, and what it means. These are the true suc­ces­sors of Aris­to­tle, and the accu­sa­tion of “col­lec­tivism” against them is mean­ing­less. Far more than any­thing I have ever read by Rand, they take the trou­ble to address the com­plex­i­ties of one and many, of premise and example–and of sub­ject and object. “Blind because we have eyes” is a mod­est­ly clever bit of sar­casm; as a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Kant and Hegel, it’s entire­ly incor­rect.

          • Harry Binswanger says:

            Michael,nnnNo, Intro­duc­tion to Objec­tivist Epis­te­mol­o­gy was pub­lished in 1966. It cen­ters on her solu­tion to the “prob­lem of unvier­sals” and is by far her most tech­ni­cal philo­soph­ic writ­ing. I am the edi­tor of the 2nd edi­tion which was revised to include 200 pp. of tran­script from work­shops she held in 1969–70 to answer ques­tions on the book from phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sors and grad stu­dents. Among the atten­dees were John Nel­son, Allan Got­thelf, and me.nnnWe seem to dis­agree on much regard­ing the inter­pre­ta­tion of the his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy. I could point out that my inter­pre­ta­tion is “main­stream” but that would be crit­i­ciz­able as Ad Vere­cun­di­am. (But I just snuck the point in anyway.)nnnIf you’re inter­est­ed in a pre­sen­ta­tion of Objec­tivist epis­te­mol­o­gy in a more tra­di­tion­al­ly aca­d­e­m­ic style, I high­ly rec­om­mend the recent­ly issued vol­ume of Ayn Rand Soci­ety Philo­soph­ic Stud­ies (U. Pitts. Press), edit­ed by Allan Got­thelf and James G. Lennox: _Concepts and their Role in Knowledge_, which has papers from a recent col­lo­quoy between some lead­ing Objec­tivist and non-Objec­tivist philoso­hers on per­cep­tion, con­cept-for­ma­tion, propo­si­tions, and objectivity.nnnYou can get a quick look at the kind of thing aca­d­e­m­ic Objec­tivist philoso­phers do at the web­site ‚of the soci­ety, which is affil­i­at­ed the East­ern Divi­sion of the APA:nwww.aynrandsociety.org

  • Hanoch says:

    What gov­ern­ment shut­down?

  • Jason Phillips says:

    Oho — looks like Zizek and Chom­sky might agree: https://twitter.com/daily_chomsky/status/389693395603427329

  • Henry Solomon says:

    The only thing that per­son you quot­ed knows about Ayn Rand is her name. I think he just cre­at­ed out of his imag­i­na­tion what he wants to believe Ayn Rand stands for so that he could shoot down a straw man. nnFor those inter­est­ed in what Objec­tivism real­ly holds, see that Ayn Rand insti­tute website:nwww.aynrand.orgnnFrom that per­son­’s analy­sis you would think the gov­ern­ment did­n’t first cre­ate the prob­lem they then “solved.” Now, isn’t that what gov­ern­ment always does when they play with the econ­o­my. nn My read­ing rec­om­men­da­tion are:u201cFree Mar­ket Revolutionu201d by Yaron Brook and Don Watkinsnu201cThe Finan­cial Cri­sis and the Free Mar­ket Cureu201d by John A. Allison,nnnnOf course, this is in addi­tion to “The Foun­tain­head,” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

  • Lee Roy says:

    Wait, by pseu­do-philoso­pher are you refer­ring to Zizek or Rand? Even if it’s wrong­head­ed­ness on her part, she had a much more pro­nounced philo­soph­i­cal posi­tion than he has to date. As a Cul­tur­al The­o­rist, he does come up with some fun­ny stuff, which is more than we can say for her.

    • Michael Morse says:

      “pro­nounced philo­soph­i­cal posi­tion”? That bal­ances Rand’s arro­gant, dead­bone igno­rant and high-hand­ed dis­missal of the philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tion? The expres­sion “pseu­do-philoso­pher” defines her to a tee.

      • Lee Roy says:

        Just because you do not like her cap­i­tal­is­tic ego-cen­trism does­n’t make your “point” very con­vinc­ing, but thanks!

    • iro says:

      Zizek despite not being sys­tem­at­ic has a pret­ty sol­id foun­da­tion and ideas.nnUnfortunately most peo­ple are acquaint­ed only with his arti­cles on the inter­net. nnHere it’s explained pret­ty well:nhttp://www.iep.utm.edu/zizek/

      • Lee Roy says:

        I’ve read sev­er­al of his books, and like his appli­ca­tion of Hegel & Lacan to mod­ern cul­tur­al the­o­ry, but I don’t think just an elite intel­lec­tu­al­ism nec­es­sar­i­ly qual­i­fies him as a philoso­pher.

      • Lee Roy says:

        Oh, and thanks for the link, Iro! :-)

  • Robert Band says:

    Fas­cist! All fuck­ing fas­cist!

  • George Barker says:

    Bankers in bed with the gov­ern­ment do bear a sim­i­lar­i­ty to cer­tain char­ac­ters in Atlas Shrugged: the vil­lains. See Oren Boyle, James Tag­gart, and Wes­ley Mouch. These aren’t titans of cap­i­tal­ism — they are titans of crony­ism and cor­rup­tion. nnThe US gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy of sub­si­diz­ing the “Amer­i­can Dream” of home own­er­ship, the easy mon­ey poli­cies of the Fed (known to Andrew Jack­son as the “hydra of cor­rup­tion” long before Gold­man Sachs became the octo­pus) are what led to the bub­ble and the crash. And as if on queue they react­ed to the crises they cre­at­ed with an epic pow­er grab. nnThomas Jef­fer­son wrote “…sup­pose a series of emer­gen­cies should occur…an insti­tu­tion like this…in a crit­i­cal moment might over­throw the gov­ern­ment” nnThis is why sales of Atlas Shrugged sky­rock­et­ed after 2008. The peo­ple do not believe that more gov­ern­ment, more bailouts, or more cur­ren­cy debase­ment are the answer. And no dri­v­el in an EU paper is going to con­vince them otherwise.nnAyn Rand was right.

  • I quite hate respond­ing to Ante­dilu­vian­cur­rent . He is a ratio­nal­ist who manip­u­lates ideas to win his point, rather than look­ing at Nature, Real­i­ty, and What ben­e­fits mankind, to make his point. nnnAny of them can die, so long as his ratio­nal­iza­tions win out, the prick.

  • Adam says:

    It would be inter­est­ing to hear com­men­tary on Ayn Rand’s phi­los­o­phy from some­one who has actu­al­ly read her work. Watch this inter­view from 1959 — in which she calls cap­i­tal­ists with gov­ern­ment help “the worst of all eco­nom­ic phe­nom­e­na” — and see whether you think she would approve of bailouts for bankers:nnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ooKsv_SX4Y

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