Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Culture: Intolerant Tolerationists?

Want to enrage a Libertarian? It’s easy. Just have standards. Consider lewrockwell.com blogger Stephan Kinsella’s response to my “Off the Reservation” post.

I refer here to their odd, pompous, self-important, silly habit of offically "breaking" with people who were once in the fold but who start to think for themselves. But I guess, like Muslims, it's worse to be a former Randian than never to have been one at all. As Rush (another favorite group of young Randians) say, "For you the blind who once could see/The bell tolls for thee".
Kinsella’s response is interesting because he refers back to an earlier article he wrote attempting to eviscerate Diana Hsieh for realizing that her previous support for David Kelley's Objectivist Center was misplaced. Hsieh, an Objectivist graduate student in philosophy, grew weary of the Objectivist Center’s lack of scholarship. Upon re-examining the break that led to Kelly’s ostracism from Objectivism, Hsieh concluded that he and his organization’s approach to philosophy was substantively flawed and dishonest. Because her participation in the Objectivist Center was often held up as an example of the organization’s efficacy and because she knew her determination would sever many of her personal relationships, Hsieh felt compelled to make her declaration of independence public.

On one hand, Hsieh’s declaration is refreshing, because it reveals an active mind that reexamines and reevaluates, yet on the other hand it's heartbreaking, because one can easily see that this woman is going to lose many friends as a result.

Kinsella’s response? Venom. He writes:

The more I read Objectivists (sic) trot out their ridiculous stock phrases, the more I realize this aspect of the philosophy is really inapplicable to the real world. Who talks like that? Who even thinks like that? Who goes around talking about "psycho-epistemology" or saying their husband is their "top value"? What the hell is a "top value"? Jeez. In my view, this cliched, robotic reasoning is useless and off-putting.
Off putting, because it reflects a standard? Probably. It certainly explains the miles of hatred heaped upon Hsieh since her break with her former allies.

And perhaps (going back to my post) that’s why Kinsella can’t stand the fact that I indicated my disappointment with Mr. Oliva. Never mind that Mr. Oliva was a personal friend, going back to college. Never mind that I battled with him over the very issue that severed our friendship for hours on end, only to be told that he didn’t want anything to do with me or my philosophy. Never mind that I have my standards. The Libertarian mantra Kinsella echoes is that you must simply get along with everyone, whatever they think, say or do, or shut the hell up.

Yeah, right. And that’s going to lead to capitalism . . .

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