Randian commenter says that because I believe in God and think breast implants are bad, I deserve to burn in hell
weeks, a reader named Doug B., who said he had found VFR through a libertarian website, had asked me several good questions, for example what I meant when I said that “when a society becomes completely rational, it destroys itself,” and whether the fact that racial IQ differences seem to increase with age indicates that race differences in IQ are cultural.
I had answered him in part, but told him I needed more time to get back to him on his more challenging questions, which would require some thought to answer adequately. He had also questioned my discussion of anti-whiteness in the March 22 entry, “Where are we now?”, saying that the left’s agenda could be understood in terms of socialism, without reference to race. I told him, in a posted comment, that I agreed in large part with his criticism and that I myself felt that my mention of race was perhaps off-center from the main thrust of that entry, but that I nevertheless thought the entry would be incomplete without dealing with the fact that today’s left sees inequality, and the need to end it, very much in racial, and specifically anti-white, terms.
Our correspondence on both sides had been polite and respectful. He did not give off the familiar signs of being a dogmatic libertarian or Randian.
Then, in response to the March 26 entry, “Breast implants, another aspect of our debased culture that conservatives take for granted and never criticism” (an entry which, as best I remember, did not contain any references to religion or Christianity), he sent this e-mail:
Subject: Liberated Self
“It is the liberal/libertarian belief that the self and its desires are the highest and only reality”
No it is the rational belief that rational man through the use of reason and technology can improve himself for the better by studying the natural world, identifying its absolute principles and using them to benefit mankind in countless ways. Such is true for medicine in general and cosmetic surgery in particular. That cosmetic surgery can be used for neurotic or superficial ends does not change its essential nature as a method of self-improvement. Your “transcendent” standards are not rooted in the natural world so therefore man’s actual life on this world has limited or no meaning to you; especially if you think there is some eternal after world which is man’s ultimate end. Also, there is no god so there is no “higher power” which man must placate and sublimate himself in front of. Self love is a normal thing. Only someone with a contempt for man would think otherwise.
The self is part of the only reality there is and that is the natural world. Man is a natural phenomenon that is the product of a natural universe. There is no “transcendent” or “supernatural” dimension or “reality”. The reality is that individual happiness and well-being is the ultimate standard for the human species. Properly understood this would manifest itself in a minarchist libertarian politics with an Aristotelian virtue ethics or Eudaimonistic ethics. That each individual should seek to maximize their productiveness, their accomplishments, their beauty and their joy is an expression of the best within men. Yes, this is radical. But it shouldn’t be. That it is shows how hateful our society is towards genuine man-worship; the hate coming from nihilist secularists and the true-believing religious (which is a type of nihilism as well).
Breast implants are the best that modern science and technology can do. In the future, plastic surgery will advance to manipulations and transformations on the cellular level and also to genetic engineering itself. I’m willing to bet you will be opposed to that also. I guess for the reasons that we shouldn’t “playact as God”. Your attack on breast implants and the “artificial” represents an attack on man himself.
But then man is a flawed creature that is so depraved he needs to accept salvation from some martyr that died 2000 years ago or else he will burn in hellfire for eternity. That’s some benevolent universe you live in.
I replied to him:
If you want to communicate with me, you need to speak a common language, common to members of American and Western civilization.
Your Randian expressions of total contempt for God and the transcendent and Christianity place you outside that common sphere. Such expressions put you, in relation to Christianity, and thus to our civilization, as Nazis are to Jews.
You had earlier asked a couple of question that were worthwhile but required some time for me reply to and I hadn’t gotten back to them yet. But this latest e-mail with its insulting language ends any desire on my part to communicate with you.
He then replied:
I thought that Leftists were beyond disgusting. Then I read you. At least the Left tries to justify its beliefs with some claim to reason and science. But you base it on nothing but a fantasy which originated with a primitive people two thousand years ago. And on that primitive basis you would govern society and tell us all what we can and can not do. I almost wish that your idiotic Christian hell were real so you could burn in it. Pathetic bastard.
- end of initial entry -
Just another Randbot, he was gathering evidence so he could bring down Rand’s Hammer on you.
Jim B. writes:
Ha! I must say, I have never met a religious person who burns with as much righteous fervor as your average Randian. Don’t you just love the “freethinkers” who parrot the same stock phrases from her ouvre, again and again? I was waiting for your correspondent to bring up something about “immolation”—that’s a dead giveaway. It’s a word that no one but Randians uses anymore. Alas, I was disappointed …
How do they use “immolation”? I haven’t noticed that.
Funny how he condemns Christianity as based on a “primitive” people right after making an appeal to Aristotle and eudaimonia, which was a good several centuries before Christ.
Brandon F. writes:
It is a little amusing that this guy suggests that the “primitives” of 2000 years ago have some kind of stranglehold on civilization when he first names Aristotelian ethics (older than Christianity) as a model for human “happiness”.
He is obviously confusing eudemonia and Utilitarianism as well. A happy, drunken, big breasted humanity is not what Plato or Aristotle would have considered a good life.
Of course Aristotle would have considered radical plastic surgery for aesthetic pleasure to be a vice. I wonder if this guy has actually ever read A. or is repeating some tripe he picked up on a Libertine website.
Doug B. wrote:
“And on that primitive basis you would govern society and tell us all what we can and can not do.”
Doug denounces Christians who believe in the Bible as simpletons, and then turns around and makes statements that mark him as thoroughly juvenile in his own right. He comes across as a haughty adolescent demanding his freedom from all authority, kind of like the puny heathen in Psalm 2:3—“Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
Then too, he boasts of his rationality, while showing that he’s so emotionally invested in his beliefs that he gives vent to his own fantasies of religious believers burning in hell.
Doug’s lack of self awareness is what’s truly “pathetic.”
David L. writes:
I wouldn’t get to worked up over your last exchange with the “libertarian”. That level of venom is only generated by an adolescent who just bulldozed through “Atlas Shrugged” and thinks he has been given the keys to the universe! You’ll probably get a sheepishly delivered apology five or six years from now when he grows up a bit!
Yes, but his statements are only a little more extreme and hate-filled than the comments Randian bloggers and commenters regularly make about me. So I don’t think that we can dismiss this as the adolescent behavior of one individual. Also, for all we know, he’s chronologically well into adulthood.
Here are some VFR entries on my adventures with Randians.
Also, I don’t want to give the impression that an e-mail such as Doug B.’s didn’t t have an effect on me. To be the object of such hatred certainly did have an effect, though it didn’t last long.
Also, the two groups that hate me the most are the anti-Semites and the Randians. I’d have to think about what they have in common. I guess it’s their radical anti-transcendence.
Doug B. wrote:
“There is no ‘transcendent’ or ‘supernatural’ dimension or ‘reality.’”
No doubt he can show us how he proves these metaphysical assertions without doing metaphysics.
I swear, when these guys start foaming at the mouth and screaming and spewing their horrible bile, I can’t help but think of the man possessed, whose tenants Jesus cast out and into the Gadarene swine.
Lawrence, let me send a bit of an antidote your way, as Laura’s correspondents were kind enough to do the other day for her: May the Lord Bless thee, and Keep thee; may He make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Peace to you, my friend.
And may God save and preserve the soul of Doug B., and rescue him from the pit.
Alan Roebuck writes:
This guy acts as if he’s never heard of Christianity and the Christian basis of Western Civilization before reading VFR. So he’s either a colossal ignoramus or else one who is willing to lie in order to curse us.
Josh F. writes:
Doug B. is seriously deluded if he thinks the ubiquitous breast impants amongst women represents a general trend of self-improvement. In fact, this trend IS SIMPLY A COVER-UP FOR THE spiritual and intellectual unhealthiness of modern women. We see this “physical health” in the form of bountiful breasts and totally lose sight of the fact that it is mostly COSMETIC. These breasts are diversions distracting us from the underlying sickness of liberalism as highest principle in all modern women.
You may remember this from a year ago. I thought of it when I saw the exchange you just posted with Doug B. I think what Doug said ties in with Bill of Maryland’s comment about “transhumanism”. By critiquing breast implants you were condemning the future of humankind and the medical pathways for our evolutionary fulfillment.
I never would have dreamed there was such an off-the-planet (no pun intended) aspect to advanced atheism.
Here is a comment from a commenter, “OI,” whom I excluded a few weeks ago after he accused me of egregiously misrepresenting Dennis Mangan, and then declined to provide any evidence to back up the charge of dishonesty. I’m making an exception and posting it because it’s the only comment I’ve received which takes Doug B.’s side.
He (Doug, the Randian) is angry because he sees you as trying to prevent humanity from exercising its own abilities to a greater degree, and improving the human condition thereby.
It isn’t at all unreasonable to curse those who would keep humanity in darkness. I did it just this morning when I saw the new regulations the EPA is issuing, making it illegal for people to renovate their own homes without “certification”, and imposing regulations on the car industry to fix greenhouse gases—a problem that does not exist.
The problem is not what he is saying, it is why he views you as that sort of person—trying to prevent people from using the full potential that reason (which is a gift either nature or heaven has endowed us with, and should probably be employed to its fullest extent either way) permits. It’s an entirely different issue than what you are making it out to be, and you aren’t pausing to double-check the assumptions you’re making—you just leap to conclusions that someone is screaming about you simply because of hatred for religion. The screaming may be targeted wrong, but
You seem to have a very difficult time sometimes understanding why others have a differnet perception of you than you do. That itself is the truly strange thing—of course the view will be different from where you are standing compared to from where someone else is.
Anyway, his predictions—assuming civilization doesn’t collapse in the next 100 years or so—are absolutely correct. Given the way the biologists are progressing, we WILL have the ability to remake ourselves on a very fundamental level, without such crudeness as plastic and metal parts. Then the quesiton is how we will live with those abilities.
D. from Seattle writes:
Doug B.’s (the Randian) mail is such a great example of compartmentalized thinking, it deserves to be picked apart. I’ll intersperse my comments (bold in parentheses) in his:
“It is the liberal/libertarian belief that the self and its desires are the highest and only reality”
No it is the rational belief that rational man through the use of reason and technology can improve himself for the better by studying the natural world, (so far so good) identifying its absolute principles (What is the source of absolute principles? He doesn’t say … did he ever ask himself that question?) and using them to benefit mankind in countless ways. Such is true for medicine in general and cosmetic surgery in particular. That cosmetic surgery can be used for neurotic or superficial ends does not change its essential nature as a method of self-improvement (I thought surgery was for healing, but now we learn it’s for self-improvement). Your “transcendent” standards are not rooted in the natural world (Not rooted—would that be in the same way that mathematics and the laws of physics and chemistry are not rooted in the natural world?) so therefore man’s actual life on this world has limited or no meaning to you (and this statement is supported by what?); especially if you think there is some eternal after world which is man’s ultimate end. Also, there is no god (And Doug B. knows this because … ) so there is no “higher power” (Oh wait, what happened to nature and absolute principles mentioned above? Are they now subject to our whims, or are they above us, i.e. “higher”?) which man must placate and sublimate himself in front of. Self love is a normal thing. Only someone with a contempt for man would think otherwise (which is why Jesus said “you should love thy neighbor as you love thyself).
The self is part of the only reality there is and that is the natural world (What is this natural world? Care to define its limits?). Man is a natural phenomenon that is the product of a natural universe (And we know this how? Don’t tell me because Darwin said so, because he certainly didn’t prove it). There is no “transcendent” or “supernatural” dimension or “reality” (I’m not going to touch supernatural, but mathematics is transcendent, period). The reality is that individual happiness and well-being is the ultimate standard for the human species (speak for yourself). Properly understood this would manifest itself in a minarchist libertarian politics with an Aristotelian virtue ethics or Eudaimonistic ethics. That each individual should seek to maximize their productiveness, their accomplishments, their beauty and their joy is an expression of the best within men (This is generally OK, but why? Why bother? What’s the purpose if we’re all dead in the end?). Yes, this is radical (no it isn’t—it’s obvious). But it shouldn’t be. That it is shows how hateful our society is towards genuine man-worship (What is this genuine man-worship—care to define? Everybody worships themselves, or all worship some leader? Which leader and why?); the hate coming from nihilist secularists and the true-believing religious (which is a type of nihilism as well).
Breast implants are the best that modern science and technology can do (but why bother?). In the future, plastic surgery will advance to manipulations and transformations on the cellular level and also to genetic engineering itself. I’m willing to bet you will be opposed to that also. I guess for the reasons that we shouldn’t “playact as God”. Your attack on breast implants and the “artificial” represents an attack on man himself (no it doesn’t—this is an absurd statement).
But then man is a flawed creature that is so depraved he needs to accept salvation from some martyr that died 2000 years ago or else he will burn in hellfire for eternity. That’s some benevolent universe you live in. (No, man, or in this case woman, is so perfect that she needs silicone breast implants to make her more perfect, and thus accept salvation from plastic surgeon, or else she would have to live with the infamy of having small boobs.)
Look, if that’s how you feel, just tell me directly to shut up and go away, don’t pull a stunt like this!
It’s really ironic that you do this right after posting a link to the whole Horowitz affair, where it seems your major complaint was that you’d been found guilty of something without ever being told what the problem was.
I had no idea that was how you were reacting. And now that I do know, I’m stunned, and rather disappointed.
I stopped arguing the Mangan thing because it was clear the arguments that made sense to me weren’t making sense to you. They STILL make sense to me, and I daresay they still don’t to you. What else should I have done? Yelled a lot?
What’s your problem?
As I’ve said before, what a bunch of babies you Manganites are. Here’s the exchange between us at VFR. You were writing in response to my March 10 entry, “Mangan says that I value Israel more than America”:
That’s the most egregious example of selective quoting I’ve seen outside of DailyKos. Reading the full text of what Mangan wrote makes it perfectly clear what his point is: that James’s description of the original thread was inaccurate, after which Mangan goes on a tangent regarding James’s side comment regarding support or opposition to Israel—that it should not be a key litmus test, and that you disagree with that second point.
Factually, there is absolutely nothing to argue with there. But the way you presented what was quoted amounts to nothing short of a lie—it is completely deceptive and misrepresentative of the actual content of Mangan’s post—and absolutely anybody who reads both posts can see it. Why did you do that?
I have no idea you’re talking about. Either specify how I misrepresented Mangan’s statement, let alone misrepresented it in such an egregious way, or you’ve shown yourself to be a nutcase.
[end of quoted exchange from March 10]
You called me a liar on the level of the leftwing liars at Daily Kos. And did you write back with specifics showing my lies, as I demanded? No, you did not, Nor did you retract the charge of my Kos-like lies. Which proved my point that your charges against me showed you to be a nutcase, a person who throws around extreme accusations with nothing backing them up. Did you think that after this exchange you would be welcome at my site? Do you feel you deserved some formal notification that you weren’t?
Over and over again, it’s the same thing. The little babies at Mangan’s fill entries with demeaning personal insults of me, and then expect to be welcome to comment at my site, and are scandalized, outraged, and furious when they find that they aren’t.
Here’s my last message to you, at least until you grow up: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t call a person an egregious liar, and then expect to post at his site. If you want to call a person an egregious liar, you can do that. If you want to post at his site, you can do that. But you can’t do both.
Normal human beings understand basic human realities such as this. What is in the water that you and your fellow Manganites drink that you don’t understand them?
Look, if that’s how you feel, just tell me directly to shut up and go away, don’t pull a stunt like this!
When I have told people, in plain language that respected their intelligence, why I wasn’t posting them any more, they would flip out into much worse insults than ever before. So there’s no way of dealing honorably and frankly with people like you and not end up getting even more garbage poured on me.
In any case, I did tell you you in that earlier exchange that absent specifications to your charge that I was a Kos-like misrepresenter and liar, you were a nutcase. What more needed to be said to make plain my position with regard to you?
Now let’s see if OI reports what happened as: “I told Auster he was a Daily Kos-like liar and misrepresenter, and when he demanded that I back up my statement and I declined, he excluded me from his site.” Or as: “Once again Auster has shown that if you don’t kow-tow to him and join his band of sycophants and agree with all his positions, he kicks you off his site.”
LA writes (April 4):
OI accused me of “the most egregious example of selective quoting I’ve seen outside of DailyKos.” Meaning that I am the worst misrepresenter in the United States that OI knows of, other than the radical left website the Daily Kos.
Here is an article about the only person who is a bigger mispresenter than myself, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, in an appearance on the Keith Olbermann program.
Laura Wood writes:
Breast implants, which often mysteriously appear in between marriages, have always been associated in my mind with self-delusion, not self-improvement. I am blown away that anyone sees freedom and civilization hinging on these surgically inserted cantaloupes.
“Your attack on breast implants and the ‘artificial’ represents an attack on man himself.”
This is sort of like a teenager saying, “Your attack on my grungy T-shirt is an attack on man himself.” Imagine the cultural repercussions if you had criticized face lifts and liposuction too. Doug says, “That cosmetic surgery can be used for neurotic or superficial ends does not change its essential nature as a method of self-improvement.” What is the dividing line between superficial and self-improving in the exalted, Aristotelian realm of plastic boobs? What cup size is technically not superficial?
Happy Easter, you pathetic bastard. Christ is risen. Man is redeemed.
That’s really good.
But I meant you, not him. I hope that’s clear.
Hah hah hah.
I thought you meant him.
I thought you were saying: “You, Doug, are a pathetic bastard. But Christ came for you, too.”
Doug B. wrote:
That cosmetic surgery can be used for neurotic or superficial ends does not change its essential nature as a method of self-improvement. Your “transcendent” standards are not rooted in the natural world so therefore man’s actual life on this world has limited or no meaning to you …
Doug B. starts by making an Aristotelian distinction between cosmetic surgery for “neurotic or superficial ends,” and cosmetic surgery for legitimate ends of self-improvement. But of course I also made the same distinction. Yet he wants me to go to hell for making it.
In the implants discussion, I spoke of women who because of various physical problems may have a legitimate need for breast implants, and I said that if breast implants were limited to that kind of use by that relatively small number of women, it wouldn’t be an issue. Then I added that the ubiquitous use of the procedure by young, healthy, attractive women obviously goes far, far beyond that.
The question is, how do we tell the difference between “neurotic or superficial” ends and “legitimate” ends—a distinction that Doug B. appeals to, even as he curses me as a monstrous oppressor for appealing to it? By reference to standards that are not given to us by pure self-centered reason and desire, standards that are based in such things as nature, or an aesthetic ideal of beauty, or an ideal of human nobility, or an instinctive/intuitive sense that it is repulsive for people to add artificial body parts to their body for no reason other than vanity and sexual marketability, or a religiously-based sense that unlimited human desire based on human technical capacities is bad. (As God says of the people at the Tower of Babel, “Now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Genesis 11:6.) While these various standards may come from different sources, they have in common the fact that they all arise from something more than self-centered reason applying scientific techniques to improve human beings who are conceived as nothing more than a part of nature. They are all based, in one way or another, on transcendent standards, the transcendent being defined (as Jim Kalb once put it to me) as that which cannot be reduced to an object of sensory perception or scientific measurement, or to thinking processes based solely on such perception and measurement.
By Doug’s reasoning, there is no reason why a man should not like looking at and fondling a woman’s silicone enhanced breasts that are twice or three times larger than natural breasts and unnaturally hard instead of soft, because, in his view, man and man’s self are part of the natural world, and scientific technique is simply a way of improving the natural world and ourselves. By Doug’s thinking, there is no standard outside the individual’s desires by which the individual could say that a particular desire is not good, and there is no standard outside the availability of “nature-improving” scientific techniques by which the individual could say that a particular technique should not be used. There is no standard by which a person could say, looking at the below photographs, ” Yecch. This is weird, unnatural, not good.”
With the exception that Doug reserves for himself the right, based on nothing but an unprincipled exception, to declare that some breast enhancements are done for neurotic or superficial ends and therefore bad, even as he would consign me to hell for making the same judgment.
Josh F. writes:
The root problem with transhumanists like Doug B. is that they don’t
know what it is to be human and therefore they aren’t really sure what
they are transcending.
Andrea C. writes:
Whenever I hear about or read comments like the ones Doug B. and other men make on implants (and like subjects) and their prerogative to enjoy the show, I think of George Washington and what he would have thought of men like this—deviant, shameful, cretinous, unmanly. I can’t help it, I always go back to George Washington, heroic and virtuous in every sense of the word and a model for any man. “Will we see his like again,” a friend of his once asked. To go right along with the vulgar, superficial and disgusting illusion that the woman are pursuing is the deformed illusion of manliness revealed in the ridiculous and truly pathetic attempts by some men to defend their enjoyment and delectation of this freakishness—it’s a circus all around.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 02, 2010 02:22 PM | Send
Thank you, yet again, for the unfailing authoritative voice of sanity and reason.