MSK ... then the crowd listening in mesmerized silence for about an hour, and then the enthusiastic standing ovation at the end.Barbara Branden's thesis was realistic and important. Therefore, I agreed with the message, mostly. Internally, Barbara Branden's presentation equivocated, as it had to, being ethics, not mathematics. What she offered was not so much a set of rules as a set of mind.
Having been there, though, Michael, how do you now evaluate the standing ovation? Was it because they rationally agreed with her, tracking her syllogisms with symbolic logic, and concluding as she did with her same "therefore, to prove"?
I suspect that this emotional outpouring was an affirmation, a collectivized feeling of approval for how she said it, not so much for what she said. A crowd is a creature. Hitler called it a woman. Once "everyone" stood up, would anyone have remained seated? Standing ovations scare me.
Being close to the end of a re-reading of Atlas, fresh in my mind is the courtroom scene where Rearden gets a standing ovation -- and knows that tomorrow, these same people will demand new controls on him and new handouts for themselves. Do you expect that anyone's behavior will change as a result of this evangelic experience?
I agreed with the message, mostly. I also agreed with Rodney King's rhetorical, "Why can't we all just get along?" which ironically is the title of a rancorous RoR debate about government versus anarchy.
I agree 100% that we Objectivists learned from Ayn Rand to judge people morally by the ideas they espouse. Rand did not use the phrase "unity of mind, body and spirit" explicitly, but she relied heavily on the fact of it. Can you imagine John Galt's Speech read by Dr. Leonard Peikoff? He sounds one of Ellsworth Toohey's young artists, some boy Lois Cook brought in. Now, I realize, rationally, logically, that this is wrongful thinking, and that is why I offer it as an example of exactly what Barbara Branden was talking about.
When you hear an idea that you find reprehensible, do you pursue the question with the same dispassionate curiousity you would if the topic were local rocks and minerals? Do you ask the best questions you can to gain an understanding of the subject and the speaker's point of view? Barbara Branden said that when she was younger, she argued a lot. She said that it was because she was not sure of herself. Perhaps that describes her inner state objectively. I offer this thesis: we argue emotionally only when we fear that we are wrong. We are yelling down our own doubts. While this does, indeed, apply to the religiously objectivist, it applies to the religiously anything, first. She pointed out, in the beginning, that our society has become less "polite." I believe that genesis is complex and complicated, but that it comes down to self-esteem and how it develops in an individual.
Here, of course, on RoR, as earlier on SOLO, from which Barbara Branden absented herself, we see this exactly as described, which is why it appeared here, and why she was invited to speak at The Atlas Society in the first place. And yet, a contradiction remains unresolved.
MSK: As to the theme, I fully agree with her. The silly raging has to stop if Objectivism is ever to stand in the world as a major force. This is one of the main reasons it has gained a widespread reputation as a cult.The reason why Objectivism is perceived as a cult is simple: it is a cult. The very need to be a "major force in the world" is one of the elements of many cults. Read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer. Once upon a time there was a Garden of Eden (laissez faire in the 19th century) but the devil stole it from us (progressives passed laws) but if we all sacrifice together (study Objectivism) we can create a great new world (perfect laissez faire), perhaps not for ourselves (Ayn Rand being dead and the rest of us growing older as well), but perhaps for our children.
Some cults are less secular: they take people out of the world -- and there are Objectivists like that, as well. I am one. Objectivism benefits me. I do not care if it benefits anyone else. However, I realize that this puts me in a minority -- or maybe not... Maybe "most" Objectivists also have this perspective, but the ones we hear about are the vocalizers who stand and cheer when one of their leaders tells them what to believe.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 8/04, 6:41am)