Friday, June 12, 2015

There are limits

In "Do Not Speak Well of Randianism" David Mills expresses a view I share. (Note: He is not equating Randianism and libertarianism.) From his argument:
Ayn Rand was a mean girl in person and in politics America’s ideological mean girl, I wrote recently. In my weekly column for Aleteia, I quoted as evidence two of her comments on abortion and pointed out that they were both stupid and evil.

The Randians grumbled, or snarled, that the criticism was ad hominem, a term they apparently didn’t understand. I wasn’t arguing that her ideas were bad because she was an awful person, but that her ideas were bad and she was an awful person....

I’m speaking here of Randianism as a public ideology. The individual trapped in that ideology is a different matter. Even while rejecting Randianism, you don’t reject the Randian, though your pastoral engagement with him (it will almost always be a him) must recognize the peculiar character of his ideas and the moral choices one has to make to accept them. ....

No one believes as an absolute principle that every view deserves public respect. The American ideal holds that all views deserve a hearing and argument, but societies rightly impose moral limits to the views to which this applies. We do not treat anti-Semitism, terrorist apologias, eugenicism, white supremacism, ideological misogyny, radical Islamism, Holocaust denial, neo-Nazism, pedophilia, and North Korean-style communism as respectable ideas with a legitimate place in the discussion of the human good. ....

.... Randianism’s view of the individual and all that flows from it, not least its social Darwinist hatred for the weak and the poor, is deeply, fundamentally inhumane. It is a settled dogma set against basic and public truths of human life. It is not mistaken about human dignity and human flourishing, it rejects them. The Randian is the man who brings dynamite to the barn-raising. ....

[I]t should not be given a place at the table.... (Whatever of value a Randian might say will be said as well, and probably more humanely, by a libertarian.)

...William F. Buckley came to a similar conclusion way back in the mid-fifties when he published Whitaker Chambers’ take down of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, “Big Sister is Watching You.” The review effectively read Rand and Randianism out of the conservative movement—which purge proved to be one of the conditions of its later success. .... [more]
From Mill's Aleteia column:
...Flannery O’Connor wrote of her fiction, in which Rand incarnated her philosophy in a stick-figure kind of way: “I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

Then there is the famous comment ascribed to the writer Raj Patel: “There are two novels that can transform a bookish fourteen year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs.” ....
Do Not Speak Well of Randianism - Ethika Politika, The Childish Ayn Rand - Aleteia