Why Randians care about me

At the website The New Clarion, a Randian asks his fellow Randians:

Hey Madmax (and others), why does the subject of Larry Auster keep popping up in comments here? He is of little significance except as an example of a core conservative. He mirrors Kos—each thinks that moving to the so-called “extreme” is the solution for their side.

To which Madmax replies:

I mention Auster because he is the most consistent defender of core conservative ideology that I have found. He is a blend of Augustinian Christianity, Burkean and Kirkian conservatism and materialist inspired racism all supported by Platonic epistemology. I think a good case can be made that his “Traditionalism” may be the M2 phenomenon that Peikoff predicts. We shouldn’t assume that we will get an egalitarian version of socialist Christianity. We very well could get the old-school non-egalitarian version. On every subject Auster gives that view. You learn far more about the conservative movement reading Auster than reading Prager or Medved or even Rush Limbaugh.

Let us hope that Madmax is right, and that a non-egalitarian, race-realist, pro-Western civilization version of Christianity is the wave of the future. However, from our point of view, things seem to be going in just the opposite direction, with an almost total dominance of Christianity by its liberal varieties. As Bruce B. puts it in another entry, all Christians today, with only a handful of exceptions, believe in a Christianity that (as I had put it) “leads to racial and cultural consequences that are indistinguishable from those of liberalism.”

Note added, November 18

I of course disagree with the description of my position on race as materialist. Materialism means the reduction of phenomena to matter or epiphenomena of matter. I do not do this. Madmax thinks I’m a materialist because, in his Randian ideological view, if you say that the physical dimension of our being matters at all, you’re a materalist.

Nevertheless, he has, to my surprise, understood and expressed well the essential components of my position, the three dimensions of human reality which traditionalism seeks to articulate and to defend from universalistic ideologicies: the spiritual-transcendent (which he calls “Augustinian Christianity”); the social-traditional (which he calls “Burkean and Kirkian conservatism”), and the natural-biological which he calls . “materialist inspired racism” but which I call moral racialism, and which I describe as a common sense appreciation of the fact that our physicality, including our racial particularity, is a part of what we are, along with other aspects of our being, each in its place, each doing its proper job and having the natural significance it has. Finally, participating in all three of these dimensions of our being and mediating among them, there is our individual psyche or consciousness.

* * *

By the way, I don’t know what the “M2 phenomenon” discusssed by Randian author Leonard Peikoff means. Here is a discussion where the “secular m2” belief is mentioned, i.e., Communism, but M2 itself is not defined. I’m guessing that in the Randians’ terminology, M2 means the evil Christian “mystics of the spirit,” as contrasted with the evil Communist “mystics of muscle.” Remember that in the charming Randian worldview, people who believe in God are as evil as Communists.

— end of initial entry —

Bill Carpenter writes:

I found this Wikipedia article about Peikoff that was informative.

Here is a still timely quotation from it:

In 2008, Peikoff refused to vote for either major party’s ticket, saying that John McCain “comes across like a tired moron,” calling Barack Obama a “lying phony” and Joseph Biden “a hilarious windbag,” while saying of Sarah Palin that she is “an opportunist struggling to learn how to become a moron, a phony and a windbag.”

Daniel R. writes:

The identifier “M2” comes from Leonard Peikoff’s DIM hypothesis. Basically, you can either handle concepts by disintegrating them, misintegrating them, or properly integrating them (hence D-I-M). “D” is associated with leftism and nihilism, “M” with (contemporary) rightism and religion, and “I” with Objectivism. The numeric tag indicates the “principled” variety. In other words, Larry Auster engages in misintegration as a matter of principle. By contrast, a leftist who frequently made the unprincipled exception would probably be D1.

(I don’t mean to grant the validity of the categorization; I imagine you would argue that principled leftism is insignificant at best.)

Alan Roebuck writes:

You asked what “M2” means. Having nothing better to do, I did a bit of Googling:

At a site called Indopedia, a description of Leonard Peikoff’s DIM Hypothesis. Referring to worldviews, D=disintegrated, I=integrated, M=misintegrated.

So what about M2 versus M1? Something resembling a definition of M2:

Peikoff’s basic argument for the religious right as a long term danger rest on his characterization of them as an instance of pure mysticism (or M2), [emphasis added] and on the argument that it is the fundamental or pure philosophical (I, D2, M2) influences that ultimately determine direction, or in other words that a mixed or partial instance (M1 or D1) cannot defend reason in the long run against a pure instance. I accept this as correct.

But don’t let the confident terminology fool you. At another Objectivist site, we see the following:

You can’t classify things properly without clear definitions and standards. If we had clear definitions of “integrated” or “disintegrated” and “misintegrated” it would be easier to tell an “M” from a “D.” If we had a clear standard, we could employ it to distinguish an “M1” from an “M2.”

Lacking that, all we have are guesses about what Dr. Peikoff means and why he classifies things as he does. One “standard” I have seen proposed, in jest, is that an M1 is a religious person Dr. Peikoff likes, and an M2 is a religious person Dr. Peikoff doesn’t like.

More importantly, I found confirmation that Objectivism sees itself as an enemy of a properly ordered society. At her blog, Diana Hsieh quotes approvingly the following statement from Peikoff:

What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion [i.e., Christianity] and the [Republican] Party which is its home and sponsor.

Objectivists (those who agree with Peikoff, at any rate) resemble pious Moslems in that both groups have declared themselves to be enemies of historical Western Civilization, and we ought to take them at their word. (They also resemble Moslems in that they agree with us on a small number of discrete topics, but are overall our enemies.)

And if they see themselves as enemies of our traditionalist conservatism, why should we waste time arguing with Objectivists? (Of course, if an Objectivist makes friendly overtures to us, we should respond.)

LA replies:

Thanks to Daniel R. and Alan Roebuck for this information.

In the initial entry I had said, based not on definite information, but on a general sense picked up from glancing at John Galt’s speech over the years (never reading it, as it’s unreadable), that Randians think that Christians are as evil as Communists. The Leonard Peikoff quote dug up by Mr. Roebuck proves that I was right.

LA continues:

Mr. Roebuck says that the Randians “have declared themselves to be enemies of historical Western Civilization, and we ought to take them at their word.”

Indeed. Not that one was tempted to spend much time talking with them before this. But the Peikoff quote makes the situation crystal clear. In the absence of any given Randian disociating himself from the Peikoff statement, we simply don’t have to bother engaging in discussion with them.

I add that there are moderate, thoughtful Randians to whom one can talk and who are allies of conservatives. Some of them comment at VFR from time to time.

Daniel R. writes:

Regarding Alan Roebuck’s “Objectivists identify as enemies of historical Western Civilization” point: This is not how they see it. Objectivists view themselves as the proper heirs to the Western tradition in which Christianity gradually improves until it becomes secular, market-friendly conservatism in the Enlightenment, and finally reaches its full flowering with the publication of “The Fountainhead.”

Apparently Rand was a big fan of Aquinas and you can find plenty of honor-our-Christian-forefathers type quotes from her. I suppose you could say that she viewed modern Christianity as a kind of cultural regression. Once upon a time, some guy figured out you could rub sticks together and make fire. That guy was smart and deserves our admiration. But somebody doing that today is a fool who needs to get a box of matches.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 17, 2009 12:04 PM | Send

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