Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hoisted from Comments: Atlas Begs

It turns out there are no true Randian individualists  in foxholes. Sharp-eyed commenter Michael Prescott notes West Virginia's BB&T bank has recently put its hand out for $3.1 billion in Federal rescue money. What makes this ironic is that its CEO, John A. Allison IV, is a big time contributor to the ARI, and makes reading "Atlas Shrugged" compulsory for all his executives. This capitulation, accompanied by statements about how doing so is  "consistent with our values and philosophy" and supporting the Treasury's interventions to stabilise the economy,  has led to a minor flurry of hand-wringing ( here, here) at the ARI's Center For The Advancement of Capitalism, with conspiracy theories being mooted that Allison was "coerced" into making such statements.

Despite this apparently dire moral and philosophical lapse, I'm sure the ARI won't be turning down Allison's cheques any time soon.


Red Grant said...

Great post! This is worthy of being archived with special distinction.

Didn't someone say, "For the right price, everyone's a whore."?

Damien said...

Daniel Barnes,

If this is not hypocrisy, I don't know what is.

John Donohue said...


For a blog whose only purpose is to hate Ayn Rand, it sure took you guys long enough.

While you are all gloating, are you prepared to say you know for certain Allison did not have a gun to his head? It is unknown what really went on behind closed doors, except that for a several-day period, the world-wide collectivist funny money system nearly collapsed. I mean like: Extinction Level Event dead.

BofA and Wells are the big players. If you study the history of BB&T you will see cause for these two "banks" and the government to be searching for a way to reign in the maverick. No one knows what really went down.

On the other hand, if Allison caved with no gun to his head, then may he roast in hell forever.

Objectivism is a rooted in principles. It is not dependent on any given person being consistent with it.

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA

Damien said...


None of us said that his actions were going to destroy objectivism. Off course his actions say nothing about what other objectivists are like, but it does beg the question, if he is unwilling to live according to the tenets of his philosophy, how can he reasonably expect others to do so?

Damien said...

However if John A. Allison is not condemn by his fellow objectivists, particularly the ones at the ARI, I can see how this might harm their movement.

HerbSewell said...

I ask again, don't you have anything better to blog about? This really doesn't have a damn thing to do with Objectivism.

HerbSewell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HerbSewell said...

I actually find it really pathetic that people on this blog actually cite that some of Ayn Rand's "fans" seem to accept federal rescue plan money.

That's an ad hominem of amazing proportions.

Essentially, I can make a hypothetical critique against Karl Popper by the same logical fallacy

Greg Nyquist is a fan of Karl Popper.

Greg Nyquist voted for the Communist Party of America the last time they were on the electoral ballot.

Therefore, one person who follows Popper is a hypocrite, ergo, the people who follow Popper are all hypocrites, ergo, nobody can follow Popper's philosophy, ergo, Popper's philosophy is flawed, ergo, Popper's philosophy is contra human nature.

Damien said...


You make an excellent point. All ethical systems have their hypocrites and like I said earlier, John A. Allison does not represent all other objectivists.

Michael Prescott said...

I think the issue is whether anyone actually does abide by Objectivism's principles. It's one thing to say that some people are hypocrites. It's another to say that the philosophy itself is simply impossible to live by.

Given the mess that Rand made of her own life, and the schisms and infighting that have characterized the Objectivist movement from the beginning, it's fair to ask whether Objectivism really is "a philosophy for living on earth," or simply a set of dubious ideals that cannot be put into practice.

HerbSewell said...

Then you make an argument explaining why the philosophy is so inherently flawed that nobody can live by it. You don't accomplish that by mentioning certain people who obviously aren't living up to Ms. Rand's standards but supposedly should, just like you wouldn't set out to logically disprove a premise by attacking its corollaries.

Michael Prescott said...

Then you make an argument explaining why the philosophy is so inherently flawed that nobody can live by it

That's the whole point of Greg Nyquist's book (and, by extension, of this blog)! ARCHN is all about how and why Objectivism is "inherently flawed" because it has an unrealistic conception of human nature - and therefore no human being can actually "live by it."

You yourself came close to acknowledging this when you said, "Human nature is probably too primitive at this time to accept Rand's ideas" (a quote now proudly displayed on this blog's main page). This isn't far from saying that human nature is "too primitive" to practice Rand's ideas. After all, if humans can't accept Rand's ideas, they can hardly be expected to practice them.

Examples like that of Allison provide some (admittedly small) additional evidence to support the thesis that Objectivism is not and cannot be practiced even by its most vocal supporters. No, it's not proof in itself, but it is consistent with ARCHN's thesis. It's exactly what we would expect to see if, in fact, Objectivism is not practical.

HerbSewell said...

That quote was taken completely out of context and I don't stand behind it.

Also, I think Graig could spend more time disproving Ayn Rand's philosophy than posting worthless garbage like this.

Anonymous said...

HerbSewell, don't Objectivists say that Objectivism works because it "looks at reality" and its morality is based on "what is practical"?

If so, it seems approporiate to criticise it based on real-life observatiosn.