Anti-Group

1999-01-09

Sometimes when people get to talking about religion I like to call myself "post-Catholic". Although I was never strongly Catholic (e.g., I was thankfully spared the indignity of Catholic school), I feel that my background gives me an interesting perspective on the world of official Objectivism. To me, Peikoff is exceedingly papish and Rand's followers consider her a prophet, a la Jesus or Moses. Reading between the lines (or simply reading the lines!), one can detect two doctrines behind most writing and thinking among Rand's more orthodox followers: what I call immaculate conceptualization (the doctrine that all of Rand's concepts and formulations are correct in every detail, through some process of intellectual virgin birth) and what I call Peikovian infallibility (Peikoff had the closest connection with Rand and therefore can think no wrong). The tragic consequences of these doctrines (and other falsehoods rampant in the Objectivist "movement") are personal rigidity and sycophantish collectivism.

But is there another way? Can one agree with (most of) Rand's ideas, or the essence thereof, without becoming an abject Randroid or moralistic Randanista? Can one accept Rand's basic insights while living a life of passion, spontaneity, freedom, meaning, clear thinking, open-mindedness, social acceptance, creativity, joy, and just plain fun?

I think this is possible. In fact, I know that it is not only possible, but real. I know it is real because I have achieved this in my life, and because I know others who have achieved it, too.

How can one achieve this? The first key is not to look for people who have achieved it among the many Objectivist groups or clubs (core meaning of 'group': a lump or mass). Would Howard Roark have joined such groups? Hell, no! He knew that groups are misguided by their nature (recall that he scrupulously avoided membership in fraternities, the American Society of Architects, and so on). He related to people one-on-one -- as I try to do most often, e.g. by writing to members of email lists personally and not posting to the list. What is the list but a group? A group of individuals certainly, even a group that contains some individuals who live a life of "joy and reason and meaning", but a group nonetheless. Pah! Who needs it! I remain a member of email lists mainly to find the real people out there, and to send out announcements of positive acts and creations. For the rest I ignore them, because I'm too busy creating value in the world and enjoying life to sit around arguing and complaining. To me, the very concept of an Objectivist "movement" is anathema to reason and individualism and freedom, which I take to be the essence of Rand's ideas. I avoid official Objectivism like the plague and I'm a lot happier for it.


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