Sunday, March 07, 2021

Peikoff vs. ARI

Documents reveal that Leonard Peikoff, the founder of ARI and the heir to Ayn Rand's literary estate, gave $297 to Donald Trump's Make America Great Committee. The date on the document December 14, 2020, but it's likely the donation was given earlier (almost certainly before the election). Peikoff's generous donation allows us to get a better sense of how much influence he still exerts over ARI.

So how much influence does Peikoff still exert over ARI? Probably very little. Consider Yaron Brook's view of Objectivists who "apologize"  (i.e., support) Trump:

Those of you who are apologists for Donald Trump, please never use the word "Objectivist" to associate it [Objectivism] with yourself. Because you cannot be Objectivists, you are not Objectivists, if you apologize for this guy.

And you are not doing anybody a favor by selling-out, selling-out the fundamental ideas that we believe in. For the sake of what? Popularity, for the sake of defeating the left?

You are sell-outs, you are the fifth-column within Objectivism.


But the Trumpists are a disaster. If they win, and they come to dominate all of the Republican Party and all of its candidates, this country is finished, this country is finished.

Given Brooks uncompromisingly extreme stance against Trump, what are we to make of Peikoff's $297 donation to the Trump campaign? Is Peikoff a "sell-out" and fifth-columnist within Objectivism? How are we ever going to square this particular circle?

Several years ago, when Peikoff was still doing a podcast, he came out in favor of closing the borders. Brooks quickly stepped in to put a stop to this. On Peikoff's next podcast, we hear Brooks explaining why closing the borders is a bad thing to do and Peikoff rather sheepishly admitted he had been led astray by conservative talk radio. 

Flash forward to the last year or so. Peikoff is now in permanent retirement. For health reasons, he can no longer make public appearances. What is he doing with his time? When he feels up to it, he's supposedly writing short stories. What does he do when he's not writing stories? Could he be listening to conservative talk radio? Peikoff has been a fan of Rush Limbaugh at least since the nineties. Is it possible that in his retirement Peikoff is listening more to conservative talk radio hosts (and not just Rush, who recently passed away) than he is to Yaron Brook and other ARI figures? Or has he simply become a fan of Trump on his own unbiased judgment, irrespective of influences? Whatever the case, his $297 donation to the Trump campaign strongly suggests that he does not agree with the folks who have taken over the institute he founded way back in the eighties. It also strongly suggests that Peikoff's influence over ARI has come to an end. I don't know whether Brooks knows (or if knows, whether he cares) that Peikoff has a soft spot for Trump. Whatever the case, it clearly doesn't matter. Peikoff is no longer relevant  in the world of Objectivism.  It's Yaron Brooks and his people who control the institute and who are the big players in that space. They decide what Ayn Rand would have thought if she were still alive.


Anonymous said...

oh go ahead & give a grudging nod...

Anonymous said...

The issue between Peikoff and Brook/ARI seems to have a lot to do with immigration. Peikoff thinks immigrants will inevitably vote left. OTOH, I don't get the impression Barney is an immigration restrictionist.

Anon69 said...

Yaron Brook's debate with Harmeet Dhillon here is a great example of how the current Objectivist standard bearer (the title of Ayn Rand's "intellectual heir" won't do) is helping to make Objectivism irrelevant. In it he simultaneously defends big tech's Section 230 immunity for liability for what people say on their social media platforms and their corporate free speech right to restrict what people say on those platforms. Under the Brook doctrine, the tech companies are using their customers as mere mouthpieces to say only what the companies wish to say; then cloaking in immunity for that speech as though somebody else said it. Brook's capacious mixture of responsibility and irresponsibility is not only self-contradictory cake-having-eating on a conceptual level but entails precisely the sort of government interference in markets that Objectivists supposedly rail against. Naturally he condemns anti-trust laws with exceptional verve and he defends the menacing status quo as hunky-dory - but an electronic boot stomping on a human face is still a boot. While Rand had no problem with oligarchy, Brook's didactic bombing of the current situation is value-free, disconnected from reality, and sounds insane. Well done.