Thursday, February 28, 2008
Having it Both Ways with the Marketplace of Ideas
"Buying a Spot on the Syllabus" (HT: OActivists), which smears the philanthropic efforts of BB&T to foster a better understanding of capitalism on American college campuses, is an article begging for even more reader criticism than it has already received.
The leftist drumbeat of the article, to which more than a few commenters dutifully march, is that it is morally wrong to pay for the spread of ideas with which one agrees and worse, that it is inherently non-objective.
After all, to use the gist of one comment I noticed, if Ayn Rand's ideas are so compelling, why aren't they being taught all over the place anyway? Why does Objectivism have so little market share in the "marketplace of ideas"?
(On re-reading this, my immediate reaction to this is to wonder why their panties are in a wad over this. Why not let the evil corporation bleed itself dry on its futile crusade? They have nothing to fear from an obscure philosophy, anyway. Their reaction to Ayn Rand's ideas is like their reaction to President Bush. Not that I care for Bush, but they see him as nearly retarded one moment and diabolically clever the next.)
I just love the outlandish combination of skepticism and determinism my conformist fellow academics nearly all display! It's as if Rand, being human, can't possibly be correct, and if she were, her ideas would automatically compel anyone who collided with one of her books to agree with them anyway. So Objectivists, being in the minority, are not even worth serious consideration. QED.
In fact, quite the opposite is true. First of all, the fact that highly successful businessmen are putting their money where their mouths are more than suggests that they honestly believe that getting Ayn Rand's ideas heard will benefit them as capitalists. These are men of proven ability who have thought about Objectivism. Second, the objection that Objectivism isn't a majority view already ignores the obvious question of how it would achieve this status in the first place. The actions of BB&T are demonstrating one way this can occur.
And don't even get me started on the whole implicit equivocation of economic "power" with political power. So one company asks that Atlas Shrugged be taught -- in a non-required course -- as a condition for an educational institution receiving its financial gift. This forces nobody to do anything!
To see what real force can do to academia, just consider California's recent moves towards requiring the teaching of global warming hysteria throughout its entire education system or attempts by religious conservatives to use public schools to have Creationism taught at taxpayer expense. So why do leftists insist -- in the name of "academic freedom" -- on snuffing out what little freedom still exists in academia? That question just about answers itself.
This article and all its leftist supporters demonstrate only one thing: The left is intellectually and morally bankrupt. They demonstrate this by their opposition to the smooth operation of the marketplace of ideas.
Qwertz on Gay Marriage
I haven't finished this lengthy, but interesting post yet, but Qwertz considers the question of gay marriage from an angle I haven't seen before:
Marriage [as it exists today in the welfare state] is a package deal. ... Marriage combines a constellation of legal obligations in contract (concerning property, intestacy, finances, parenting, medical decision-making, etc.) with a set of privileges conferred by the state under various mandates and entitlement schemes.I have already noted that the welfare state makes choosing candidates in elections more difficult than it has to be even for people who understand the concept of individual rights and know the proper purpose of government. Here, we see that it also makes many political discussions even more difficult than they should be by effectively altering the definitions of common words!
If we get rid of all the illegitimate, welfare-state junk associated with marriage, all we are left with is a complex, legitimate two-party contract. [minor edits]
Incidentally, Qwertz, who jokes that he is "also opposed to straight marriage", may be interested in knowing that Texas has such a badly-worded -- and accidentally (?) passed -- anti-gay marriage statute that it arguably bans all marriage. The fact that the poor wording is circumvented here by a non-literal interpretation of the law does not comfort me in the least.
Note to Self
Via HBL is a link to an article against so-called "Fair Trade", which Harry Binswanger calls an anti-concept. It looks to be very good, and I plan to read it later on today.
Gosh. I might even print it out, take it to a coffee house to read, and then "forget" to leave with it.
Someone is Wrong on the Internet!
Andrew Dalton adds quite a bit to a point of Ayn Rand's I commented on awhile back about how an implicit premise of determinism can lead one to waste valuable time arguing with evasive individuals. (HT: Noumenal Self)