Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peikoff: The Man Behind the Curtain?

Back in 2007, Leonard Peikoff made waves in the Objectivist community with his advocacy of voting for the Democrats across the board. In case you missed it, here's the Q&A. One particular part, however, would become forever known as "the fatwa":
In my judgment, anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life--which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world.
It's taken the Obamanation a little over a year to prompt Peikoff to do a 180 degrees:
"I always vote long-range over short-range...but, if and when, and the short range means immediate death and disaster, then there is no long-range to wait for or work for!...It's at the point where if it's not stopped...I still think it's the religionists that will take over...but despite everything, I will vote Republican this November."
Now, does this mean that anyone who voted Republican does understand Objectivism? Or that anyone who voted Democrat was detached from the world?

Um, "Go away and come back tomorrow..."

That, folks, is why this blog is called Objectivish. I know where I differ from "official Objectivism," I don't speak for "official Objectivism," and I don't care to. Besides, if that is an example of "official Objectivism," I'd sooner kiss a flying monkey than an "official Objectivist's" ass.

I respect that it was Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis theory (fine in itself, IMHO) that led him to his conclusion, and I have no trouble with him changing his mind; we're not omniscient or infallible. And if he had said that an Objectivist who gave away all his money for to the Catholic Church or something similar didn't have a true understanding of Objectivism, it wouldn't even be controversial. But this issue was far from being that clear-cut, and by playing "Oz the Great and Terrible" as "Rand's Intellectual Heir"...well, he walked a fine line between argument and argument from authority, and he really did himself in when he said that those who disagree didn't understand Objectivism, only to reverse himself soon after, earning him all sorts of nicknames...some even deserved. I think I gave the man behind the curtain fair consideration, but not the papal implications. (Not that I ever felt threatened by "Oz the Great"; no one came to repo my copies of Atlas.)

And I think I missed an apology in last week's podcast.

It's bad enough that the "intellectual heir" was lagging behind what many mere "students of Objectivism" figured out for themselves. An apology (or, hell, if unapologetic, even an acknowledgement of his comment in light of his reversal) would have gone a long way. But the moment's passed; I have no need for a tinfoil medal of courage, a useless diploma, or broken clockwork heart, so I won't wait around for an apology, either. But what I will do is reprise my initial rebuttal to the "fatwa," originally published at SOLO, called "The Other Fatwa: Peikoff and the Medical Perspective Against Voting Dem". In that piece, I used his own previous arguments against his fatwa. I'll leave that for the following post.

For now, I'll leave Oz with a timeless quote from Isabel Paterson: "Leadership is obliged to justify itself daily."

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