A few weeks ago, a controversy erupted in the Objectivist community when John McCaskey resigned from the Ayn Rand Institute Board of Directors, over a severe disagreement with Leonard Peikoff regarding David Harriman’s book The Logical Leap.
At the time, I decided to await further information before reaching any conclusions about the involved individuals. This remains my position, notwithstanding the fact that I nevertheless am very much inclined to a particular conclusion regarding this event, based on information currently available.
However, in light of Robert Tracinski’s shot across the bow at TIA Daily, I have found it necessary to post here a comment originally made at Diana’s place three weeks ago. While I have many disagreements with Tracinski regarding particulars in his article (mainly, his misunderstanding of the “transmission belt” metaphor and its description of the flow of ideas in a culture), I have long known as true Tracinski’s conclusion: that all Objectivists remain independent operators, and must be careful not to lose sight of this fact.
Below the fold is my Noodlefood comment. Edits only for context.
The following is from memory, and should be understood as such, i.e. I’m not putting words into Paul Hsieh’s mouth.
At one point during OCON (or during his earlier visit to Vegas, not sure which), Paul and I were discussing an idea of mine, that Objectivists would be better served if there were several different and even competing approaches to cultural change, that individual Objectivists should take the initiative of engaging in activism under their own aegis in addition to support for the ARI, rather than putting all our expectations into one place. My idea was sparked by the success that he and Diana have been having as independent operators, and also traces its origin back to my first encounter with the Peikoff-Kelley split. That led me to use this analogy to describe my attitude towards the ARI: I may be flying in their formation, but I am not under their command (i.e. I agree with and support them, but we may disagree in the future.)
Paul responded by noting how often he has heard other Objectivists engaging in armchair quarterbacking, criticizing this or that about the ARI’s choices. His thoughts in encountering this was to question what the armchair quarterbacks were doing besides donating? Why not get up and make active proposals of alternatives — or better, take the initiative and try their ideas out on their own (where practical)?
As PAul said then, and Yaron Brook said at OCON in his “State of the ARI” address, every one of us should be engaging in activism on our own terms, focussing on what we individually see as important, in addition to supporting the ARI.
Today, I still find these things annoying and disappointing, but I don’t get that angry about it anymore, like the way I did when I first encountered the Peikoff/Kelley split in 1994 — because I don’t have all my eggs in that one basket.
All of us Objectivists remain individuals, and will have our own ideas of what should be done first, which targets come first, what tactics to use. Moreover, we all have our own take on Objectivism itself and its myriad potential applications in life; some of us have a better grasp of certain aspects than do others.
Since none of us are infallible, disagreements are going to happen, and sometimes they aren’t readily resolvable.
The ARI remains our biggest weapon, and as such it carries a lot of our hope in it. It is not, however, our version of Noah’s Ark, was never meant to be, and should not be made into such in anyone’s mind.
So, I plan to wait and see what comes of this, as Diana counsels, and shall then evaluate the result accordingly. Whatever happens, this won’t affect my own inchoate plans for activism, as they were never contingent upon anyone but myself anyway.