Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) Subverts Her Message

Over the last two decades the progressive rewriting of Objectivism has been ongoing under the auspices of the institution that bears her name. In 1997 ARI published Journals of Ayn Rand. This work is mainly comprised of Rand's extensive notes made during the research and writing of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. It did not take long for it to come out that some of her journal entries had been subtly altered in order to change their meaning and emphasis. These alterations were apparently done in order to distort the development of Rand's thought. It should go without saying that such bowdlerization of historical documents is scholarly fraud. To my knowledge, ARI has never addressed or commented on its fraudulent publication. 

The editor of the Journals of Ayn Rand is long gone. But, as the saying goes, personnel is policy. The current crop of ARI thought leaders are continuing in its tradition. The favored technique at this time is the cherry picking of Rand's quotes that best suit ARI's agenda. Rand's views that do not conform to the Current Truth are stuffed down the nearest Memory Hole. There are both small and large examples of ARI's pattern of subversion. I'll provide a few in the following paragraphs. 

Gregory Salmieri is one of ARI's leading academic lights. He's an Anthem Foundation Fellow and has published extensively on Objectivism and ancient philosophy. Last month at ARI's annual conference there was a panel discussion with Jordan Peterson. Peterson's attendance was quite a coup for ARI. The moderator was Dave Rubin. The other panelists were Yaron Brook and Salmieri. Clearly, he is being groomed for bigger things within the ARI hierarchy. 

Salmieri is quite active on social media, particularly Facebook. I assume that most everyone still reading this essay is familiar with the ongoing saga of Sarah Jeong. She's now on the New York Times editorial board. She's also a vicious man-hater and anti-white racist. It is not despite, but because of her bigotry that the Times brought her on board. There have been many people urging the Times to fire this embarrassment. As of this writing, the Times continues to double-down on their newest pet racist. 

Enter Salmieri, who feels the need to perform White Knight to Jeong's racist in distress. On August 3rd he posted on Facebook the following:
However, even if one doesn't define racism as privilege+power, (and I don't), and even if one thinks that members of groups who are or have been racially oppressed can themselves be racist, one can think that instances of racism on their part are less bad and/or more excusable than racism against members of such groups. That's my own view. One of the effects of being a victim of racism (or any sort of prejudice) is that it puts one in a position of always having to be race-conscious (or conscious of whatever feature the prejudice is directed against), and in that frame of mind, it must be difficult to avoid falling into racist thought patterns oneself. So the more someone has been a victim of racist injustice, the more understandable I think it is for them to fall into it themselves, and the more admirable it is for them to overcome it. Consequently, I do judge white racists more harshly than I do black ones. But, of course, Jeong is Asian, so she doesn't fit neatly in either box. Clearly in the nasty posts about white people, she saw herself as fighting back against racism, but whether it's racism directed against blacks, or Asians, or some other group, I can't tell from the tweets alone.*
There are numerous obvious objections to this nonsense. It is standard cultural Marxist boilerplate. Basically, if a member of a minority group is a nasty racist, then it must be the fault of the White Devil. Never mind that she posted hundreds of hate tweets many of which were directed at men. Jeong, of course, is not a victim of racial oppression. Just the opposite, she's a member in good standing of the liberal elite. 

ARI has long ignored and often excused the anti-white racism that is omnipresent on the left. Ayn Rand would be appalled by the Left's overt racism and by ARI's appeasement of it. In at least two of her most important essays, Rand made clear her hostility to "reverse racism" and its appeasers. In 1963, Rand came out in strong opposition to even a mild form of affirmative action and other "civil rights" laws that violated property rights: 
Instead of fighting against racial discrimination, they [civil rights leaders] are demanding that racial discrimination be legalized and enforced. Instead of fighting against racism, they are demanding the establishment of racial quotas. Instead of fighting for "color blindness" in social and economic issues, they are proclaiming that "color blindness" is evil and that "color" should be made a primary consideration. Instead of fighting for equal rights, they are demanding special race privileges. (Quoted from her essay "Racism" in The Virtue of Selfishness)
A few years later, Rand had this to say on the growing cancer of the left's increasing racism:
Today, racism is regarded as a crime if practiced by a majority—but as an inalienable right if practiced by a minority. The notion that one’s culture is superior to all others solely because it represents the traditions of one’s ancestors, is regarded as chauvinism if claimed by a majority—but as “ethnic” pride if claimed by a minority. Resistance to change and progress is regarded as reactionary if demonstrated by a majority—but retrogression to a Balkan village, to an Indian tepee or to the jungle is hailed if demonstrated by a minority. (Quoted from "The Age of Envy" in Return of the Primitive.)
I have no doubt that Rand would be equally appalled by "Objectivist" intellectuals making excuses for the far worse anti-white, anti-American racism that today completely dominates the liberal/left. 

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin (who is ethnically Filipino) has endured vicious racial attacks from the left for her entire career. Most of her attackers are white. However, Malkin did not become a anti-white racist in response. Maybe, contrary to cultural Marxist dogma, minorities also have free will. Of course, this is the standard treatment for every minority who goes off the Progressive plantation. ARI is completely silent on this issue. Meanwhile, their leading intellectual defends one of the race baiting attackers. And, it's not just ARI and Salmieri. I'll remind readers that just last year The Objective Standard published Andrew Bernstein's truly remarkable article celebrating the "resistance" of Nat Turner.

Rand's views on feminism are legend. One of her most famous, or notorious, statements on this topic is her essay "About a Woman President." In it, she wrote that she would never vote for a woman president. Her argument is that no rational, healthy woman would ever want the job:
For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship—the desire to look up to man. “To look up” does not mean dependence, obedience or anything implying inferiority. It means an intense kind of admiration; and admiration is an emotion that can be experienced only by a person of strong character and independent value-judgments. A “clinging vine” type of woman is not an admirer, but an exploiter of men. Hero-worship is a demanding virtue: a woman has to be worthy of it and of the hero she worships. Intellectually and morally, i.e., as a human being, she has to be his equal; then the object of her worship is specifically his masculinity, not any human virtue she might lack.
Trump Derangement Syndrome has become so rife at ARI, and in Obleftivist circles in general, that several prominent members/supporters no only voted for a woman president in 2016, but for a certified sociopathic woman. As case in point, just a few days ago Salmieri admitted to voting for Hilary Clinton.* He rationalizes his decision based on the absurd notion that Trump would have been worse than Clinton. For all of their erudition, rationalists like Salmieri have difficulty making real world decisions on social or political issues. With reservations, Rand would have supported Trump for president. 

Ayn Rand's explicit repudiation of and hostility to modern feminism has been largely Memory Holed by ARI. In 1999, Rand's collection of essays on the New Left was republished with additional essays as "Return of the Primitive." Included in it is an essay by Peter Schwartz titled "Gendered Tribalism." It is a scathing commentary on contemporary feminism and why it's cancer. More recently, ARI has been soft soaping any cultural viewpoint of Rand's that would trigger the academic leftists they so desperately seek approval from. 

One interesting distortion of Objectivism is courtesy of ARI's new CEO Tal Tsfany. Earlier this year Tsfany published a children's book Sophie. My review of it can be found at this link. One aspect of the book that I didn't go much into was its insipid post-modern feminism. The book's protagonist is a classic Mary Sue - the list at the link is a description of Sophie. She's an impossible heroine with her very own beta orbiter. There is no man in Sophie's world for her to look up to. 

Sophie's characterization is the opposite of an Ayn Rand heroine. Rand commented that when writing We the Living she didn't think she had as yet the skill to depict her ideal man. Hence, the book's central character was Kira. But, she could and did present how a healthy woman would feel about an ideal man. Kira had two heroes to look up to in the book: Leo and Andrei. Both are destroyed by the Soviet police state. 

In her later mature works, the hero is always a man. The heroine is the woman who recognizes the hero's value. In Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart  had no less than three dominant alpha males to choose between. In Sophie there is no hero. One could argue that's because Sophie was only thirteen-years-old. One should remember Rand's idyllic portrayal of Dagny's childhood. She had her own rather passive male friend Eddie Willers. However, their acknowledged leader was Francisco. 

As mentioned above, there are no heroes in Sophie. In it, Tsfany depicts Americans as largely religious bigots and their passive followers. Rand would never, ever have denigrated the American people and, above all, American men in such a manner. ARI's views on race relations, feminism and the American people are in direct opposition to Rand's expressed views on these topics. 

On the other hand, Rand's off-the-cuff statement on the economics of immigration (on which she was factually and historically wrong) has been elevated to Objectivist canon by ARI. Meanwhile, her explicit statements in formal essays, including her literary theory, (see above) are ignored. (And, does one even need to comment on Rand's similar off-hand remarks on homosexuality?) By what standard is it determined which obscure comments are elevated to Holy Writ and which more formal statements are ignored? The answer seems evident. It depends on whether the statement in question on these social/cultural issues now conform to liberal orthodoxy. 

Addendum: I just came across the following brief video clip from three years ago. In it, Salmieri claims that the notion of "white privilege" has some validity. As with his statement quoted above, this viewpoint is pure cultural Marxism. One aspect of cultural Marxism is its attempt to replace, or at least supplement, the class war with a race war. Its poison must be fought, not appeased. 

David Horowitz's Freedom Center has just published a pamphlet dismantling the anti-concept of "white privilege" by John Perazzo. Description follows: 

Introduction: In recent decades, the Left has gained a nearly monopolistic control of the key institutions that shape the American people’s worldview: the mass media, the entertainment industry, the schools, and many of the mainline churches. Consequently, these institutions have been turned into conduits through which leftist perspectives are transmitted to a highly receptive public. One of these perspectives is the notion that white people are both the cause and the embodiment of virtually every societal ill afflicting our country. Until “whiteness” can be either quarantined or destroyed outright, says the Left, “people of color” will continue to fare less well in school, earn less money, and be incarcerated at higher rates than their white counterparts. All inequalities in these various realms are attributed, by the Left, to injustices orchestrated by white people. By relentlessly banging the drum of “white privilege,” the Left has effectively portrayed race relations as little more than a constant battle between white oppressors and black victims. In this new Freedom Center pamphlet, The Left's War on Whiteness, John Perazzo unveils the colossal deception and ignorance that underlies this worldview.

If ARI wants to contribute to public discourse, this is the sort of work it needs to do. But, it won't. Academic "respectability" comes at a high price. 

*Screenshots of Salmieri's posts:


  1. Albionic AmericanAugust 8, 2018 at 7:12 PM

    Salmieri is a soft, feminine-looking and -sounding guy. I find him hard to listen to for that reason.

    It says something about the Ayn Rand Institute that it apparently can't attract the "Chad" sort of men these days to be its representatives.