Sunday, February 25, 2018

Ayn Rand & Steven Pinker

One of those discussing my work re: Steven Pinker over at Steve Sailer's column at Unz, "PhysicistDave" went off-topic to talk about my commentary about Ayn Rand.

Ms. McLernan has a psychologically interesting (negative) fixation on Ayn Rand, which results in some (unintentionally) funny remarks. E.g., 
One of the useful aspects of Ayn Rand is that she hid nothing of what she thought – thanks to her own inability to dissemble (which I suspect is the result of her undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome)…
Note: McLernan is attacking Rand because of Rand’s supposed inability to lie. Alas, anyone who is aware of the details of the famous Rand/Branden affair (as McLernan is) knows that Rand was capable of lying through her teeth. (I suppose McLernan would claim that Rand was not very good at it!)
What a bizarre thing to believe - that I attacked Ayn Rand because of her inability to lie. Who would believe that about even their worst enemy? They attack people for their honesty.

And how do I "attack" her? By suggesting she had Asperger's? 

Right-wing racists really do think differently from the rest of us.

One of the useful aspects of Ayn Rand is that she hid nothing of what she thought - thanks to her own inability to dissemble (which I suspect is the result of her undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome) combined with her publisher's disinclination to edit Atlas Shrugged for fear of a Rand tantrum resulting in the loss of income, we get a pure unfiltered hit of the belief that: 
(quoting Corey Robin here)
a world thus emancipated will be ugly, brutish, and dull. It will lack the excellence of a world where the better man commands the worse.
Boy howdy, is that the essence of the Rand world-view. And because she was such a bad novelist, not only is the world of Atlas Shrugged ugly, brutish and dull, as the result of the tyranny of the worser men over the better, but the worser men themselves are ugly, brutish and dull.
PhysicistDave mentions my play with a Rand character, DARK MARKET. 

Thanks to the Trump administration I dropped that play, for now anyway. The bad decisions of Alan Greenspan influenced in part by Ayn Rand seemed like a big deal during the Obama administration, but they seem like nothing compared to the treasonous insanity of the Trump administration, so it doesn't seem worth talking about right now. Once the Trump administration is over... hopefully soon...

Anyway as far as Ayn Rand's inability to lie: she could not dissemble about her "premises." And dissembling is not the precise same thing as lying.

But also as these statements from September 1968 make clear, Rand had help when lying about her affair with Branden - including from Alan Greenspan. It's my understanding that after this letter she refused to talk about Nathaniel Branden at all. So she'd hardly have an opportunity to lie, alone and off-the-cuff, about the Branden affair.

I certainly did write a lot about Ayn Rand on this blog for a period of a couple of years, but for the past almost two months my fixation is on Steven Pinker and his connections to the alt-right, which very much includes his connection to Steve Sailer.

While looking at other comments on Sailer's post, I was amused to see echoes of what others, including me have been saying:
Yes I agree that Pinker is crafty about where he stops defending honest people by name, and switches to a broad-based blanket-defence, simply arguing for allowing honest discussion of all viewpoints. So for example he was willing to defend Lawrence Summers by name, but only would defend Jason Richwine and James Watson in a general sense. So, yes, he does scamper away when the SJW lynch-parties get truly fierce. Is that smart or cowardly, or a little bit of both?
I believe the mot juste is "weaselly."

The most telling aspect of Pinker's denial that he agrees with racialists about black intelligence, I think, is that he never explains why he thinks the racialists are wrong. It's a pretty important issue, you'd think he would address it. Instead he consistently pivots to talking about the meanies who criticize, for instance, The Bell Curve, for its racism.

But isn't it nice that I can find common ground on at least this one thing with people I agree with about nothing else?