Quick Roundup 114

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Objectivist Commentary on the Elections

It seems that lately, everyone has been weighing in. I have doubtless missed a few from the latest crop, but this is what I found last night. I have not thoroughly read any of these yet, but they are all by authors I respect and all are "pro-" Democrat save the last: Craig Biddle, John Lewis, Andrew Medworth, and Myrhaf. I will also add this list to the end of my original election post.


And speaking of my original election post....

A commenter alerted me to a fact I was unaware of since I am having to play catch-up after having been on jury duty over the last couple of days: Robert Tracinski has spoken to his differences with (1) Leonard Peikoff's recommendation on the upcoming election and (2) Peikoff's method of making it in his most recent issue of TIA Daily. The following paragraph is, I think, the most important.

As for Dr. Peikoff's own views on "the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life" and specifically on how this applies to elections, I cannot comment on those views because he does not state them, either here or in any other publicly available form. (I am told that Dr. Peikoff's views on the subject have just been made available, in the past few days, in the form of downloadable audio of a fifteen-hour lecture series -- which no one could reasonably be expected to listen to, absorb, and understand between now and November 7.) Whatever merit there may be to his views on this subject, they are not presented, explained, or proven in the mere 300 or so words Dr. Peikoff devotes to the argument. They are certainly not demonstrated sufficiently to demand the reader's agreement.
As one who agrees more with Tracinski than Peikoff on this issue, I have to point out that until fairly recently, the vast majority of Tracinski's reasoning on this complicated matter also has been, similar to the DIM lectures, available only to paying customers (i.e., subscribers of TIA Daily).

While I disagree with Peikoff's implication that I do not understand Objectivism (simply because I disagree with him on this issue) and have said so, what I have never done is what Tracinski allowed to occur within his own publication, which was to permit Jack Wakeland to accuse (or at least very plausibly sound like he was accusing) the other side of this long-running debate of "doing our enemy's work". I am unsure whether TIA Daily has been publicly criticized for this (beyond one openly speculative blog post at Rule of Reason), but they have never, to my knowledge, addressed this issue since Wakeland raised it, although I know that many of the "blue" Objectivists heard about it and took great exception to it.

That incident, which has never been explained to my satisfaction, makes the following quotation, by Tracinski, of Peikoff's method of argument, particularly ironic.
I want to stress at this point that the above is [my] recommendation for November, not Ayn Rand's or Objectivism's. A philosophy is a view of the universe; it does not back candidates. There can be legitimate differences among people of the same philosophy in regard to political tactics and strategy. So please think the issues over and judge for yourself. I have merely told you how (and why) I propose to vote in November.
And the irony here is that in their respective handling of this debate, Peikoff and Tracinski have, like our two competing political parties, gotten an issue completely wrong! Both have at one time or another presented very complex arguments about politics to limited audiences of Objectivists and then either publicly (like Peikoff) or privately (like TIA Daily) made statements that those who disagree with them would understandably find very offensive.

Everyone agrees here on the need to effect a philosophical revolution within the culture at large. To allow an election -- something I have heard rightly called a "side issue" (at least in terms of the present ability of Objectivists to make much of a difference in its outcome) -- to become this contentious does not aid that cause.

So, for the record: I support Tracinski's conclusion about this election, but not Wakeland's charge that those who do not are "doing the enemy's work". I repectfully disagree with Peikoff's conclusion based on my knowledge and my understanding of Objectivism. But I think his method of presenting his argument was poor.

I call 'em like I see 'em here and that is all I do. My readers must judge for themselves whether they think I am right any time I do that.

Article on Che

Via Daniel Rigby, I learned of a good article on Che Guevara at Capitalism Magazine by Victoria Bikiempis, who also has a blog. Money quote: "... Che, in marvelous irony, has become the non-conformists' brand of choice."

-- CAV

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