Rebirth of Reason

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Post 0

Saturday, September 7, 2002 - 1:21pmSanction this postReply
Peter Jaworski basically calls Chris Sciabarra
"the most prominent" of the current,
independent Randian scholars -- which I agree
with -- and thus it was a real pleasure to read
the interview. Altho' it could have been longer
and more challenging!

That said, I can't really take issue with
anything important stated therein -- but I do
have a few comments.

In general, it's wonderful to see someone try to
put Rand in a historical and cultural context, as
Mr. Sciabarra has done from early in his career.
This kind of thing has been missing from the
Objectivist movement practically from the

When Professor Sciabarra denounces the tribalism
(and implied bigotry) of the women's movement, he
neglects to mention post-1990 "differential
feminism" and at least the ~possibility~ that
this can be a really healthy, liberating
movement. Women need to be recognized as not just
'metaphysically' and overall equal -- but also
~different~. (So do blacks, etc.)

As for Sciabarra's soft condemnation of the
largely fraudulent and hagiographic nature of ARI
'scholarship,' he understates the case. Most of
their work is nothing less than a tragedy and
outrage for serious scholars anywhere. ARI is
virtually Clintonesque in their clever, sneaky,
nasty, diabolical, pernicious, insidious
rewriting and slanting of Randian/Objectivist
history. We basically can't trust them on

The ever-polite Sciabarra also states that ARI
has no moral obligation to share their priceless
source materials, nor present them to the world
fairly and objectively. Well, they have no
~legal~ obligation. But their social duty is
considerable here, and they fail it miserably. It
isn't collectivism or altruism to call their
stuff "the heritage of mankind" and
they're quite derelict and dreadful in their
handling of it. This is a sin which holds back social progress terribly and from which we will never recover.

Finally, Chris Sciabarra says that the ARI'ites
(cf. shi'ites) live in an "intellectual
ghetto." But it's actually worse than that:
their small, limited, isolated world of virtually
no honest or outside questions, doubts, and
debate has rendered them -- in my judgment --
diseased, inbred, deeply unhealthy, highly
cultish, and simply bizarre.

No one can even ~talk~ to these folks -- little
lone rationally openly interview them. What a
contrast with Chris Sciabarra!

--Andre Zantonavitch

Post 1

Friday, January 9, 2004 - 5:45pmSanction this postReply
When Rand was asked what she thought of of Sciabarra she said, "Isn't that a skin disease?"

I agree with Rand on this.

Post 2

Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 9:54pmSanction this postReply
Randy, you're a dick, but for some odd reason, your post has made me realize that I don't know exactly how "Sciabarra" is pronounced. I've always assumed that it's shee-AH-bra. Am I right? (This question isn't meant for Randy. He's a dick. I'm hoping someone else, maybe Sciabarra himself, can answer it.) Thanks.

Post 3

Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 8:28amSanction this postReply
Boy, that's a new one. Now I'm a skin disease. Thanks a lot, Randy, for that enlightening, brilliantly revealing comment.

Fortunately, you won't have to look up the pronunciation of my name in a Medical Encyclopedia, since I'm here to assist.

My first name is Chris. Simple enough. Not Christopher. My middle name is Matthew. I was named by my mother, who was an American-born woman of Greek ancestry; "Chris" in Greek is "Christos"... but you don't have to call me Christ, thankyouverymuch.

I usually pronounce my last name in a bastardized American fashion: "Ska-BA-ra" (with the emphasis on the second syllable).

The proper Italian pronunciation, however, is "Sha-ba-RA" (with a rolling R). The "scia" in Italian, is always rendered, "sha" --- as in the ancient Sicilian town of Sciacca. Growing up and attending school, we never pronounced it "sha" because it always led school officials to write: "SH" rather than "SCIA"... and I don't have to tell you how many permutations of "Sciabarra" I've heard. Butchering a name, I've learned, can become an art.

BTW, my paternal grandparents came from Porto Empedocles, Sicily; my maternal grandparents came from Olympia, Greece. I guess I'm the first skin disease in a blood line of godfathers and gods. I shudder to think what the former would have done with Randy. Even the latter would have hurled thunderbolts.

Have no fear, though ... Brooklyn boy though I am, my weapons of choice are ideas.

Post 4

Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 6:59pmSanction this postReply
"But their social duty is considerable here, and they fail it miserably. It isn't collectivism or altruism to call their
stuff "the heritage of mankind" and they're quite derelict and dreadful in their handling of it. This is a sin which holds back social progress terribly and from which we will never recover."

If one can consider the private literary musings of 1 individual the "heritage of mankind" to which we can rightfully attach a "duty" to the current private owner - what in the world could possibly be off limits from consideration of duty?

Sciabarra is correct. As much as one may disagree with ARI it's their property to do with what they want.

Also - humanity has survived far greater subordination of knowledge than the hidden Rand papers - I think it's called the Dark Ages and it lasted for hundreds of years.

Just a little context.

Post 5

Friday, January 16, 2004 - 6:19amSanction this postReply
Moreover, isn't the whole notion of a "social duty" rather suspect, in itself? One of the key concepts of Collectivism is that issues are supposed to be approached from the direction of what "We, as a 'society'" are to do about them.
(In other words, the action to be undertaken must be "collective" in nature -- no room for Individual dissent, or the idea that Individuals should be 'permitted' to do otherwise than what "we, as a society" (IE, the Collective) have decided.
Thus (for example), we get pathetic debacles like the "war on drugs". "Society" (whatever THAT is) has decided that 'drugs' (whatever THEY are) are bad. Thus, if a given individual CHOOSES to use drugs (in a socially-illicit manner), it is generally believed that it is morally permissible for "society" to coercively force that individual into line.
ARI has neither a legal, NOR moral obligation as to what they do with their property. Rand (for whatever reason of her own), willed her estate to them, on the assumption that they would utilize it in a manner she would have approved.
To posit a "moral duty" for ARI to use Rand's journals etc. in a specific way -- especially for "social benefit" -- is to run entirely counter to everything for which Rand herself stood (and thus, to do an immense dis-service to her legacy.)
Further (and I can't stress this enough), any "Rand scholarship" predicated on the idea that the "social benefit" of such scholarship outweighed the political (and property) rights of ARI, would be suspect in the extreme.

Post 6

Friday, January 16, 2004 - 8:33amSanction this postReply
They have no legal or moral obligation or social duty, but they have a moral responsibility towards the promotion of Reason and a moral honesty to pursue. That's why their real values are cultism and distortion, not Reason.

Post 7

Friday, January 16, 2004 - 8:20pmSanction this postReply
Well yeah, Franc, we all know they're derilict in that regard -- but the discussion was about whether they had a duty to "humanity at large", as to what they do with their own property.
Sad as it is to see, pathetic wonks should be permitted to make stupid decisions with their own property.

Post 8

Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 12:11amSanction this postReply
Thanks Mr. "Ska-BA-ra" for the pronunciation guide and the genealogical bonus material.

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