• • The Smartest Guy in the Room
Personal life |
Notice what [Robert] Chapman says: [William] Ackman treats his colleagues as if they were the homeless. In other words, it’s fine, even expected, to treat the homeless—and all the other little people—that way. As Ludwig von Mises wrote to Ayn Rand: “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.” What’s not fine is to treat the big people that way.
• • • Robin shrugged
(Article requires subscription.) Corey Robin, author of “Garbage and Gravitas,” responds to the letters of Harry Binswanger and Tym Parsons.
I’m afraid Harry Binswanger and Tym Parsons haven’t read me—or Rand, for that matter—very carefully. I did not claim that Rand’s belief in Rachmaninoff’s superiority called her ideas into question; I suggested that it called her taste into question. I did not claim or suggest that “Rand and Hitler are the same.” I said that there are “similarities between the moral syntax of Randianism and of fascism,” which is quite a different point. I did not claim that Rand saw A is A as the premise “for some Rationalist deduction.” But Binswanger errs even further when he says that Rand believed A is A was merely one of several “methods of inference and norms of cognition.” As Rand wrote in: “That there is only one reality, the one which man perceives—that it exists as an objective absolute (which means: independently of the consciousness, the wishes or the feelings of any perceiver)—that the task of man’s consciousness is to perceive, not to create, reality—that abstractions are man’s method of integrating his sensory material—that man’s mind is his only tool of knowledge—that A is A.” More than a statement of epistemological best practices, A is A was meant to be taken as the summation, the climax, of Rand’s metaphysical credo. [....] Let me close with a confession. If there is one reaction I have to Rand and her followers, it is a sense of embarrassment for men and women who peddle so much ignorance with such great confidence.