Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dust Up At Ground Zero

I haven't been paying much attention to the latest burgeoning Objecto-schism regarding the proposed mosque near - well, four blocks away from - Ground Zero in New York. Leonard Peikoff wants it stopped, despite the legitimacy, in Objectivism, of the owners property rights to build whatever they want on the land they own. This has created some consternation even in Orthodox Objectivist circles, where Peikoff's every word is usually slavishly adhered to. BenSix in comments helpfully supplies this article on the palaver. The upshot is that the application of Randian property rights turns out in practice to be as unclear to Randians as it is to anyone else. The subtext is quite possibly Palace politics in Orthodox Objectivism, as the weathervanes swirl in the vacuum increasingly surrounding the frail Peikoff.


Michael Prescott said...

I found this quote from Peikoff jaw-dropping:

"Now, it should be obvious that there is no end to this [appeasement of Islam], no final result, and not too far from now in time before there will be Islamic devastation or even take over of a paralyzed United States."

Islamic takeover of the United States in the near future? Really, Leonard? You think this is a realistic possibility?

Presumably such a takeover would be accomplished by a country or group of countries. So which ones are we talking about? Iran? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? Yemen? Indonesia?

Are we really afraid of being invaded and taken over by any of the above?

And what is Peikoff smoking?

Anonymous said...

"And what is Peikoff smoking?"

Whatever it is it must be stronger stuff than when he wrote the Ominous Parallels. What is this latest batch? CIA stash?

BTW, if he keeps this luncacy up will he write a 'new' ominous parallels on the dangers of America turning into an Islamic theocracy?

Surely the rest of them at ARI must realise he is becoming both an embarrassment and a liability to the movement? Can't anyone there save him from himself? Or is one of them a true Machivelian? Letting the old fool make a complete tit of himself and then stage a coup deposing of LP?

Steven Johnston

Xtra Laj said...


The key will be who the inheritor of the Rand Estate will be. Most of Peikoff's power comes from controlling it.


Wells said...

On Modern Politics.

Things that I would have figured were pretty well decided in the USA.
(1) Zoning permitting, you can build what you want on land that you own.
(2) Zoning boards cannot take into account the religion of a building or its constructors, as per the first amendment.

I regard pretty much everyone involved in pimping this 'controversy' as unamerician. They wish to deny a group of people their right to freedom of speech, and their right to utilize their property without having to deal with dishonest politics. Leonard Peikoff is proving, like Gingrich and the rest of the conservatives, to have no ideas worthy of calling such.

On Objectivist Politics

Leonard is the master and everyone else involved in the Ayn Rand Institute are the servants. He controls Ayn Rand's estate and he doles out the privileges. I predict that everyone will eventually fall in line and obey his command.
Is that how you do philosophy? No, but the ARI is out of ideas, so that probably won't matter.

gregnyquist said...

Wells: "I regard pretty much everyone involved in pimping this 'controversy' as unamerician. They wish to deny a group of people their right to freedom of speech, and their right to utilize their property without having to deal with dishonest politics."

Isn't this a little extreme? In the first place, it is possible to regard the setting up of a mosque at Ground Zero to be a very bad thing and yet not favor government enforced coercion to stop its construction. But even if coercion is favored, it is hardly unamerican or dishonest to support such a policy. No city could ever consistently follow the "you can build what you want on land that you own" mantra, for the simple reason that what I build on my land may exercise real harm to my neighbors. Nor is it true that anyone wishes to deny a group of people their right to practice their religion or exercise their right to free speech. What is said, which is different a matter entirely, is that it would be better not to have a mosque at that specific location. The mosque can be set up anywhere else, just not a Ground Zero.

Now I don't personally have a strong opinion, one way or another, on whether coercion should be used to prevent a mosque from being set up at Ground Zero. The only caveat I would suggest is that, whatever is done, it should be consistent with existing laws.

Now Peikoff, because of his ostensible commitment to "laissez-faire," is in no position to demand for coercion in this case. Indeed, it suggests that if (per impossible) Peikoff and his ilk ever attained political power, they could not be trusted to keep to the "laissez-faire" straight and narrow; that if sufficiently aroused, they would not scruple to use force to get their way. Given the dogmatism and the totalitarian social tendencies in orthodox Objectivism, this has just the sort of ominous undertones that Whitaker Chambers warned about in his review of "Atlas Shrugged."

Rey said...

So an Islamic community center one block from "ground zero" is a bad idea, but their current center four blocks away is okay, or should they asked to move--and to where? What's the cut off? How many blocks away should Muslims stay from the site? Or should NYC set about making "Freedom of Religion Zones" in the same manner they've created out-of-sight (out-of-mind) "Free Speech Zones" for protests?

Daniel Barnes said...

It's "contextual"!

Xtra Laj said...

The poll at capitalismmagazine.com shows how influential Peikoff's edict has been.


The position that Moslems should not be allowed to build the mosque is winning handily.

Mosque in NYC at Ground Zero?

Is the building of a Mosque protected by property rights?

No, Islam advocates Sharia Law (totalitarianism) and Jihad (initiation of physical force)

Not sure

Yes, because it is Allah's will to build Mosques in (soon to be) conquered Infidel Lands

Yes, because Obama-Bush have declared Islam as a religion of peace

Yes, property rights protect Islamists right to build a temple advocating Sharia and Jihad

Anonymous said...

But if I read it correctly, the building is not a Mosque, just an Islamic version of a YMCA.

OT, but I visited the Atlas Society, Kelleys lot and he describes himself as their 'Chief Intellectual officer'.

Cor blimey! They don't half give themselves fancy titles in objectivist cirlces...but like me opening a convenience store and calling myself its CEO.

Intellectual heir or Chief Intellectual officer. Truly their heads are up their arses.

Back on topic, what a poll! Still, it is always 'heads I win tails you lose' with objectivists.

We have lots of Muslims in the UK but what is rarely mentioned is how we, in our secular Western societies 'corrupt' them with our culture and not the other way around. They, the muslims, have had to change to ingegrate more than we have had to.
They don't drink but they smoke hash. Their stores will sell alcohol and 'girly' mags, even if they are forbidden from using them. They go to the movies all the time and play pool a lot! Even though the Imans tell them this is forbidden. I'm confident in the end that we will corrupt and convert them to our way of thinking not the other way round.

Steven Johnston
United Kingdom

Daniel Barnes said...

Steven, have you read this book?

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I confess I haven't. Have you?

I did check it out on Amazon and here are the reviews it received in the UK


Fair comment(s)?

Steven Johnston

Wells said...

In response to Greg Nyquest's post on 7/28/2010 07:47:00 AM; whereupon he asks if my disregard for the motives of the people creating this 'controversy' is extreme.
My Answer is No, it is not.

The structure is going to be a Mosque/community center. It's not going to be a Vuvuzela proving ground, an oil refinery, a landfill, or any other building that could be a nuisance. Rey said what I believe about the physical location of the site. I will add that if anyone else actually cared about the land they could have bought it on Sept 12th; when, due to the recession at the time and the attacks, I have little doubt it was retailing for a marked down price.

The opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque are not in the business of determining rational land use for a urbanized and island area, nor are they in the business of developing real estate. They are in the business of casually discriminating against a minority in order to garner power for themselves.
They realize, but don't care, that the vast majority of Muslims are not interested in blowing up anything, They realize, but don't care, that freedom of conscience is a value for Americans and is protected by our laws.
They also realize, and care about, the power that a person can acquire by fanning the flames of fear with Propaganda and marching at the head of an angry mob.
But angry mobs are not Democracy, they are lawlessness.

Daniel Barnes said...

Hi Steven, I read Jihad Vs McWorld a few years back. The basic thesis resembles yours, in that while they slug it out for a while, eventually the radicals succumb to Madonna. Or possibly Britney.

Anonymous said...

Even 'worse' Daniel we have gay muslims in the UK now who are out and proud. I saw one guy on the TV say he doesn't eat ham...just other guys. I don't think we have anything to fear from him but what would the objectivists say? Well we know that men turn gay because religion makes them feel ashamed to lust after women. Well that is what is written in the VOS. One, if not the strangest arguements I've ever read about homosexuality.

Xtra Laj said...

The first is Pat Buchanan making the same points that Greg made. And the second is William McGurn at the Wall Street Journal pointing out that religious leaders can subjugate their intent (or those of their followers) to the sensitivities of other if they feel it is in the interest of peace.



What I haven't seen you point out is how building the Mosque is actually a good thing, as opposed to defending the right of people to build it. Not that people who disagree with you would be swayed, but the point here is to make a positive case for building it, not for the right of the people to build it.

Anonymous said...

"What I haven't seen you point out is how building the Mosque is actually a good thing..."

It isn't but what can you do? All I think any of us can do is engage the religious, of whatever persuasion, and try to show them how ridiculous it all is. But what is the arguement against this building? That it is the wrong type of building or is it wrong place or both?????

Meanwhile over at Solopassion they have put up a link to an on-line petition against the 'mosque'. Yeah! Tough guys huh? An on-line petition, scary stuff! They've really grown a pair huh? But actually they have posted about how they will only be happy until every mosque has been fire bombed to dusk. Preferably full of women of children when the bombs drop. Thankfully when I visited the site at around lunchtime there were only 2 online visitors...reminds one of the lunatic anarchists and trots you find on campus who talk about smashing the state and killing the pigs but never actually get round to doing either.

Steven Johnston