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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Atlas Flumped: A Reality Check for Objectivists and Randists

Kade: What unholy of unholy defecations... There's a guest post on my blog. This one comes from one of my honourable friends, fellow humanist, but also friendly theological rival, Geoff Ulrich. Probably one of the rare few folk who pulls even fewer punches than I am willing to pull when it comes to criticising dogmatists and political extremists. Check out his blog that will be running in the near future and linked to my website. So, without further wait...

Atlas Flumped: A Reality Check for Objectivists and Randists
by Geoff Ulrich

Lately I have run into increasing numbers of people espousing the Randian/Agorist Paradigm. Individually, these are some of the most reasonable, rational people until the topic of "The House That Rand Built" comes up. Then their brains go on a walk-about vacation not to be seen, or heard from, again until the end of the conversation. Furthermore, the mental gymnastics they perform, in service to "government is the source of all evil" is massive false equivelency. This would be laughable if those same gymnastics hadn't produced a singularity in their head that is a huge, sucking vortex that swallows any logical thought or historical context down it's maw to be spewed out the other side as hyberbole, historical revision, and political reductionism. It is unfortunate really, because without reasonable, logical debate on the topic the myths of that society won't be forever dispelled. Until this happens the society it proposes will continue to find fertile ground in the minds of other, impressionable people; thus perpetuating this insanity.

No. Really.
Most of the proponents of this paradigm can't even address the basic moral, social or economic issues that get brought up to repudiate their claim that a Randian paradigm is one that will work. As if the work of the philosophers and economists, struggling for years, trying to solve it's initial flawed proof of concept and not being able to isn't a rather glaring indicator this "proposed society" has some fairly serious issues at it's heart. Then there is the oh so lovely moral morass of social Darwinism.
Each and every time I tell one of these folks: "You know, it's hard to take you seriously when you admit things like rape and theft are wrong, but don't bat an eyelash when your proposed society has no laws against rape or theft and will almost certainly devolve into feudalism and all the hell that comes with." I generally receive a response as something resembling "Cull the wheat from chaff." Seriosuly, just, what the fuck?
The core components of the Randian/Agorist Paradigm are the following:  
1.) Co-operation will occur because in this society co-operation is necessary and man is inherently moral/altruistic.
2.) Completely unregulated free market economy.
3.) The extolled, and selected for virtue in the society is selfishness. And finally...
4.) No government of any type as government is corrupt and immoral.
The first problem here is that the initial presumption, man is inherently moral, is a complete fallacy. Morals are learned behaviour and must be taught. So, right out of the gate this society is buggered to a fair thee well because its foundation is built on a flawed presumption. Define Irony? The second hurdle here is that the selected for "virtue" -- and I vomit a little when I use the term virtue for this -- selfishness is in direct contradiction to the idea all members of the society will work together because they are moral and altruistic. The two virtues are mutually exclusive. The not so funny part is this society is selecting for those very people that would doom this society to be run by the likes of sociopaths and those that would have no problems violently taking what they want. The second and fourth core components also have, let's call them, serious issues. These issues stem from the not so small fact that money/capital is actually a function of government.

Governments are what ensure money has value, is backed by something and is stable. Obviously, the free market they love so much runs into a brick wall when they remove government. No money! 

So, their society will either have to create a central coercive/moral authority to back their money or they are reduced to the barter system. It's fairly obvious that they didn't think this through too well while they were busy doing the organ grinder, mentally diseased chimp routine spewing forth the vitriol of their matriarch to anyone that would listen. So, sidebar finished, we can conclude this society would not create government they'd go with barter. This suggests that land would become their primary source of wealth. Seeing as land value is determined by what is built on it, what goes through it, or is under it we know that land is not liquid capital. 

So what do they do with all that land? 
Option 1: They use land as it was used in the past. A platform for agriculture and the raising of livestock to be bartered with their neighbors in trade for other goods. 
Option 2: They take land by force, adding to their own personal wealth through warfare and coercive authority. Might makes right. 
Option 3: They use some combination of the two other options. This then raises the questions: Who works those fields? Raises that livestock? Is it the army—or some army—that takes their neighbor's land away via aggresion? Well, it would be those that don't have the means to get land or wealth of their own. A serf class. 

If any of this sounds remotely familiar, it's because it should be from a historical perspective. The above concept is taught in most schools as Feudalism, a troubling cornerstone of the Dark Ages. This is where the historical revisionism comes in to rear its ugly head. 

Their Objectivist/Randist/Agorist argument usually goes, "That wouldn't happen to us! Our society is based upon co-operation because everyone is moral and will do what is best for the society!" And this argument is actually made with a straight face. Then when it is pointed out that all humans aren't equally or similarly moral, the twins of moron logic enter, which are political reductionism and hyperbole; or some flawed appeal to their most holy of holies: capitalism and the free market. Then when it is pointed out that these have also been deconstructed, the argument reverts back to phase one, now with new and improved strawmen and more circular reasoning.

I guess the most telling argument, from a logical standpoint, against the Randian Paradigm is this: They are proposing to inflict a fictional society on the world! Let's run that again: a fictional society! One that has never been proven to work in reality, hell, it has never even been attempted in a modern setting aside from all those ugly examples of feudalism! Also, one that was birthed by a lady that created it as a response to another extreme position: Communism. If they had functioning frontal lobes, and hand't been lobotomized by their association with this paradigm, they'd realise that the Randian Society occupies the other end of the extreme spectrum where Communism resides. More importantly, another telling point comes back to demolish this notion... repeatedly it comes back in... The point being that... It. Is. A. Fictional. Construct. So Randist/Agorists/Objectivists, get over yourselves and grow the hell up before us adults have to take you back to the kiddie table.


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