Monday, January 14, 2008

For the lucky clueless few...

...who have never been personally afflicted with Objectivism or observed loved ones and friends succumb. I notice I've been getting a bunch of hits, and it occured to me that maybe some of my visitors may not be familiar with the subject matter and wonder WTF this site is all about.

Ayn Rand can be described as author of extremely wordy and cheezy science fiction novels, and even wordier and cheezier philosophical self help books. Her fanbase consists mostly of socially inept, angsty young nerds, or people who started out as socially inept, angsty young nerds (if this describes you, do not panic, it is a phase most successfully emerge from). They call themselves "Objectivists" although most normal people think they are a cult, or at least a very odd group of people. She inspires her readers to fancy themselves the most rational people alive. By the power of their rationality they believe to have proven that Selfishness (especially their own selfishness) is Good, and that socialism, welfare, or even asking someone for help or admitting you are sometimes fallible are abominations of the highest degree. This leads to very strange, often annoying (if you are on the receiving end of it), sometimes amusing, sometimes very sad behavior among their ranks. This blog is dedicated to documenting and commenting on the phenomenon.

That was a very brief description of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. There are plenty of resources that go into much more detail, and I'll leave the rhapsodizing to them. I will even review some of these sources on the blog, and make my recommendations if you are so inclined to find out more. My blog, however, serves Rand comedy in easily digestible short pieces. I have a short attention span and low tolerance for boredom and tl;dr (too long, didn't read).

The stories and commentary would be especially poignant and humorous to people who have firsthand experience of the cult, but hopefully I will be at least somewhat successful at making it interesting for everyone.

I will link this from the sidebar along with my introduction post so new readers will have a better idea of what this site is about.

15 comments:

Jay said...

Objectivism isn't a cult unless particular Objectivists choose to make it one. I'm an Objectivist and exhibit none of the behaviors you bash on this site. I don't call every socialist "evil" out of hand. (Though I do believe socialism is an impotent and destructive theory.) I read plenty of books written by other authors on non-philosophical subjects. I don't stop and ask myself, before dating someone, "Is she Dagny enough for me?"

That said, I do believe that we're on a huge rock spinning pointlessly through space and the only meaning of life comes from what we give it. Therefore the idea of a morality whose sole concern is maximizing your happiness through rational methods is extremely appealing to me and I choose to make it part of my life. If that makes me an "angsty young nerd" (I'm 21 and earn my living online), then so be it, but I'm not socially inept, I go out and party just about as much as the next college student.

You stereotyping all Objectivists is basically the same as people who would call your boyfriend an evil moocher. We don't know him, and you don't know me.

Meg's Marginalia said...

Well if you don't think it describes you then why are you being so damn sensitive? In choosing to call yourself Objectivist you knowingly associate yourself with a group of people who often display these characteristics. You're just gonna have to suck it up if people assume you're like that too.

Jay said...

Fair enough, but I thought one of the stock complaints against Objectivists is that they stereotype people they don't know. That being the case it seems hypocritical to do the same.

Meg's Marginalia said...

I've never complained about Objectivists stereotyping others on my blog. I can't speak for other critics, but I don't have a problem with stereotypes per se.

Everyone has prejudices and stereotypes. I disagree with bleeding heart liberal types that think we should eradicate all prejudice from the world, because I don't think it's possible or even remotely feasible, and futile and possibly counterproductive to try to do so. Therefore to me the best goal is not to try to rid yourself of all prejudice (or pretend like you have no prejudice), but rather what you do with your prejudices and views of others.

Besides being inevitable, in certain contexts, stereotypes are a useful tool of cognition. Or maybe I shouldn't use the word stereotype because it has such a negative connotation. What I mean is that to become a good judge of character, you need to identify patterns of behaviors and characteristics within groups of people. And if the stereotype has some validity (and in my opinion many stereotypes do in fact have some basis in reality), statistically speaking a new person you encouter will be statistically likely to exhibit the stereotype characteristics than not.

Of course if the person turns out to be totally different then I'll change my mind. But when you first meet a person you don't know anything about them except what is on the outside, or what they tell you, so in order to have some idea of what they're like or if you can trust them, or how you should proceed with your interactions with them, you draw on prior knowledge and experience in your dealings with others.

That's what I keep telling my boyfriend that he needs to become a good judge of character rather than just assuming everyone is equal or good (because to Socialists everyone is equal) and having everyone start out with the same clean tabula rasa slate with him. That's how people get burned, if you don't know how to judge people's character.

Jay said...

I can't really dispute the value of stereotypes. I just found yours unfair because lots of Objectivists don't fit within it. But, such is the case with any stereotype I suppose.

glen.h said...

Hi Meg! New reader here. Keep up the good work!

Meg's Marginalia said...

Hi Glen,
Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoy the blog

Felix said...

I'm curious if you've actually read any of Rand's work, or if you got beat up by a group of Objectivists as a kid.

Marc said...

In France, we do not have much Objectivists, and we do have much Socialists.
From what I have read and seen so far, the later are by far the less tolerants.
To me, Objectivism is just a philosophical theory which seems far more convincing than most of the others - I do not understand the hostility down there.
Moreover, much of the explanations you give about Objectivism is either false or biased.
I don't understand what drives you in creating such a blog...

John Galt said...

Wow. Never have I come across someone so truly terrified of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. She never failed in her ability to set the weak and neurotic trembling in their boots. Of course you would hate capitalism if you were too lazy or incompetent to make a living for yourself (The men of ability owe you a living). Of course you would denounce science and reason if you did not have the mental capacity to use them for your own advancement. Of course you would run from reality and try to hide in the realm of moral subjectivism if you did not have the integrity to make moral judgments for yourself. Just keep telling yourself that you are objectively sure that reality is not objective.
P.S. – This blog dedicated to bashing Ayn Rand doesn’t betray any of these insecurities you suffer…. not at all.

Michael Sutcliffe said...

Your blog is rubbish and you write like shit. 'nuff said!

John Galt's left testicle speaking said...

The funny thing about these Objectivist comments is that they are hard to distinguish from satire. So in this sense, Objectivism have reinvented self-ownership. :)
Keep up the good work. It's funny for people with a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled in here Meg. I find you very funny but I wish you posted a little more. I am interested in posting more here as I was into objectivism very very much starting in 1960 until the fall of 62. I have lots to say. You write wonderfully so don't pay attention to the mean comments.

Burke said...

I have to wonder what inspires a person to have a blog like this. The world is full of people with different ideas. Out of all the possible choices, why pick Ayn Rand to attack?

Because her ideas are the worst?

Or the best?

Marvin_of_Cimmeria said...

By Crom!
When I'd finished to conquer the whole World, I'll order my brutal hordes to impale all Objectivists they capture before my tent. Just for fun, and to know what do they think about MY selfinesh.

I mean, my dream is to utterly vanquish my foes, seize their lands, enslave their subjects, plunder their palaces and rape their wives and daughters. If that makes me happy, then that's GOOD. Q.E.D.

Morality and ethics in Robert E. Howard's novels is quite alike that of Rand's - but they are a lot funnier...