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Archive for January, 2013

Lee Penn cleans Objectivism’s clock

Posted by nouspraktikon on January 25, 2013

A Brilliant critique of “Market Lenninsim”

I thought I was pretty knowledgable about Objectivism, both on its good points and bad, at least from a Christian perspective, but Lee Penn, in his “The Janus Face of Libertarianism AYN RAND” has taught me more than a thing or two.  Penn’s article can be found by following the link below to a free PDF file at the site of the Spiritual Conterfeits Project, in who’s journal it was originally published.

http://www.scp-inc.org/publications/journals/J3503/J3503.pdf

Penn has managed to pack a biography of Rand, a critique of her philosophy, a survey of her influence, and a concise counter-Objectivist, Christian apologetic, within less than fifty pages, inclusive of footnotes.

Reading something like this,  makes me realize the sort of repentance that we intellectuals have to undergo…a repentance for ideas.   Not a repentance for having ideas, not by any means!  As Penn states, many of Rand’s ideas were, and continue to be, valid.  What we need to repent of is letting the ideas have us…of being possessed by ideologies, whether these ideologies present themselves in secular or religious garb.  The Spirit wishes to blow freely through our minds, so that we may be alive and fresh for whatever challege the day may bring.  Anything may be of use to us sacrametally, be it a philosophy, an art form, or scheme of classification.  But we need to be able to throw it away the moment it shows signs of becoming an idol.

The salient consideration is that idols of the mind soon transform themselves from refuges of saftey to Molochs which demand human sacrifice of their loyalists.  One of the most telling passages in Penn’s treatment of Objectivist disciples, even more so than the notorious adultary episode, is tale of how Alan Greenspan almost single handedly destroyed to American economy.  Wanting to be a libertarian philosopher and a central banker simultaniously, he encouraged the sub-prime crisis by mixing command and free-market elements within the same diktat.  In a sense this vindicates Whittaker Chambers’ 1957 criticism of Rand, and what was soon to become “objectivism.”  There is a kind of mentality which cannot own up to its inherent authoritarianism, but which wishes to posture as a liberator, a.k.a. “Be free or die!”   Usually this has been seen as a monopoly of the left, but Ayn Rand, in setting up an “emancipatory” system which was so ridgid that it turned its disciples into “Randroids” showed that free-market variants were possible.  In place of Chamber’s over-the-top characterization of Objectivism’s elitism “…to the gas chambers…go!”  Penn characterizes it humorously as “Market Lenninism.”

As apologetic, the meat of Penn’s article is his brief, but comprehensive, statement on how all the valid points made by Rand have already been made by Christ and the apostles.  If I had to cavil, I would say that he could have been even more synoptic in his treatment if he had restricted himself to the tenth point of the Decalogue.  Lo Tachmod, “…thou shalt not envy!”  Surely this was a precept inculcated at a tender age to the young Alyssa Rosenbloom, having made it through to filter of early 20th century secularism.  This word of God, isolated and made to grow in the fertile mind of a young immigrant to America, would eventually grow  into the strange fruit of Objectivism.   This virtue of being unenvious, while hardly the full gospel, is far from trivial in its import, and Rene Girard (surely at the opposite end of the intellectual spectrum from Rand) has show that its systematic violation has structured all of humankind’s cultural “attainments.”  Indeed, whatever is good in Rand’s thought is not new…or to lift an acerbic Randian phrase, Objectivism is “bootleg Christianity.”

Indeed, the only true objectivism is the gospel of Christ…sadly, far too objective for the likings of a sinful humankind.

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