"No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."
--H. L. Mencken
It is unfortunate that two of the most common and devastating of human diseases are not acute and fatal, but instead are tragically chronic and persistent, leaving their victims to suffer them throughout life, not only ruining the lives of the afflicted, but bringing misery to all those associated with them. The diseases are almost always found together: they are commonly known as gripes and brags.
Both diseases are the result of a common defect called hubris, which is an unrealistically overinflated view of one's own importance. The most common symptom of gripes is whining; the most common symptom of brags is uncontrolled boasting, perhaps related to Tourette's Syndrome.
In most cases it would be indelicate to use a real-life victim as an example of a disease's most disgusting characteristics, but in this case the unfortunate victim has chosen to display her open sores to the world, herself.
The patient calls herself an Objectivist, which is probably not what you think it is. It is not someone who has the same philosophy as Ayn Rand, though most of them think they do. I would not mention the Objectivist part if the patient's afflictions were not related to it.
She begins her disturbing display of her affliction by alluding to something called, "ATLOSCon," which is apparently a, "conference," where a lot of mediocre minded people who have read a little of Ayn Rand, believing that gives them some kind of superior mental status, meet to discuss such heady subjects as, "Music in Modern Culture," "Environmentalism," "Exercise," the TV program "'Firefly'," "Parenting," "Israeli Dancing," "Introduction to Firearms Safety," "The History and Science of Five Classic Cocktails," and "Personal Style." These people think they're discussing philosophy. Really!
She mentions ATLOSCon, which is probably no worse than any other con these days, as an apparent antidote to her afflictions which have left her, "disheartened--even seriously depressed." Thus begins her whine:
"At my worst, I felt a desperate need to flee from the Objectivist community--not just in disgust, but to protect myself from further attacks. Overall, the whole experience felt far too reminiscent of my 'mean girls' hell of 7th grade in public middle school."
I admit, I was not very sympathetic, even cold and ruthless in my response. My thoughts were inexcusable. 'Oh, the poor baby. Girls were mean to her in the 7th grade. Perhaps she needs some thicker skin. It's about time she got over the 7th grade, I think?'
That was not all of her complaint. Oh no, when the gripes begin, there is almost no end, but I'll spare you, only quoting the salient parts.
"Many people were appalled by the attacks of the CP'ers and their ilk, ... [and] ... opposed their bullying.... Yet that doesn't mean that their defamatory campaign was easy for me to endure. Alas, many Objectivists were aware of these attacks yet said nothing.... Perhaps those silent people didn't realize the extent of the attacks; perhaps they didn't think I was much affected by them ... I've been painfully shocked by too many people...."
As is the case with many people suffering with gripes, the whining suddenly changes to brags, like a manic/depressive, only in the opposite direction.
"My disappointment was so much more bitter given the hard work I've done over the past decade.... For example: I managed Front Range Objectivism... I lead three ... Reading Groups... I helped establish three new study groups... I produced two fabulous SnowCons. I created the Explore Atlas Shrugged.... I co-authored two policy papers... I raised money for The Undercurrent... I created the OLists... I created a friendly Objectivist presence in the paleo movement... I testified at two hearings... I edited many op-eds... I gave lectures.... I did all that...."
Please do not get the impression I am criticizing the victim of these diseases. I'm sure she suffered all the grief and torment she described, and perhaps some or all the things she praises herself for are of real value to someone. The maladies she suffers from are common to most people. There is only one class of people who are immune to them, independent individualists, because they do not care what anyone else thinks about them or says about them. Their sense of integrity and self-worth comes entirely from their own knowledge of who and what they are, not from who agrees with them, supports them, or defends them. The need for some kind of a community, even one called an Objectivist community, is not an individualist sentiment, it is a collectivist one.
Isn't it strange that all these self-styled Objectivists have some kind of pressing need for the approval and agreement of others, when Rand put into the mouth of her fictional hero, these words: "I think the only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern within other men. I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once--and it's the only quality I respect in men. I chose my friends by that. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters." [The Fountainhead, Part Four--11.]
Of course none of them have any idea what Ayn Rand's purpose was, or for whom she wrote her philosophy. If they did, they would know that for Ayn Rand, there is not and can never be any such a thing as an Objectivist movement.
Of her philosophy, she made it, "emphatically clear that Objectivism is not an organized movement and is not to be regarded as such by anyone." [The Objectivist, June 1968, "A Statement Of Policy, Part I."]
Who Are The CP'ers
A bewildered acquaintance of mine asked me why the literature and philosophy of Ayn Rand had produced a collection of people who teach and promote so many absurdities. He knew they did not come from Ayn Rand.
"I'm afraid the answer is going to bewilder you even more, my friend," I explained. "The answer is because Ayn Rand was an exceptionally good writer."
My friend just raised his eyebrows and stared at me, as though I had just sprouted horns.
"It's true," I explained. "Her writing is so good that almost anyone with a moderate ability to read is able to read her, and her style is so beguiling, even those who could never truly understand her, are convinced they do, and are so charmed by what is obvious in her philosophy, they are convinced they not only understood her, but agree with everything she wrote. They are too stupid to understand what they think they know is a corruption of everything Rand wrote and stood for.
"It is exactly as Shaw described: 'A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.'
"The reason why these 'Objectivists" are absurd is because they have processed Rands works with defective minds turning her philosophy into an ideological movement, which she repudiated and despised--like a religion--another grand scheme to engineer the great Objectivist society. It is just another form of collectivism and statism, different from other forms only because it denies its own nature."
If you don't believe this, have a look at who our patient's tormentors are. She calls them CP'ers, based on the name of their WEB page, "Checking Premises."
If you go to their "Commentary" page, you'll discover six links to very childishly written--I can hardly call them essays, reports, will do--all of which are about what is wrong with our patient. What is wrong with our patient, according to them, is that she disagrees with their high priest of Objectivism; they even allude to him as the 'pope of Objectivism.'
What none of these mental pygmies is able to understand is that all of Ayn Rand's work, all her philosophy and all her fiction had a single goal: the promotion of independent individualism. Independent individualists do not need a Pope to tell them what to think or how to understand Objectivism or anything else. The hallmark of the individualist is that he thinks for himself. These second-hand sycophants despise those who think for themselves, those who, unlike them, do not need anyone to hold their hand and approve their beliefs.
[Note: I did not make this up about Rand. She wrote it herself in a letter to Marjorie Williams, on July 28, 1934. You can find it in The Letters of Ayn Rand, "Arrival In America To We The Living (1926-1936):"
"That one word--individualism--is to be the theme song, the goal, the only aim of all my writing. If I have any real mission in life--this is it."]
The Face of Idiots
About six year ago I wrote a rather
uncomplimentary description of what was, at the time, a growing fad, blogs:
"Blogs--the disgusting Internet phenomenon where totally uninteresting people indulge in revealing every detail of their squalid lives and insipid minds, wallowing in the delusion the world is waiting with bated breath to learn whether or not they have lately changed their underwear."
These days, blogging has been replaced with an even more adolescent Internet scourge with the disgusting name, "Facebook." No intelligent adult would ever join Facebook, but true adults are very rare today. Since individualists do not join anything, you will not find any on Facebook. You will find on Facebook individuals like our patient, the denizens of, "Checking Premises," and
others foolish enough to think the banalities transpiring between such mediocrities is significant.
The popularity of Facebook is proof of H. L. Mencken's assessment of the intelligence of most people--it is all but non-existent. There is a bit of irony in this, however, and possibly a bit of economic wisdom for those who can use it.
Despite the IPO propaganda, the price of Facebook stock was $29 a share on Thursday, more than 24% below the IPO price of $38. Based on the ratio of 'put' options to call 'options,' the stock may be expected to fall more.
Here's the rub. Facebook is popular because it appeals to the stupidity and vanity of people, and no miracle is going to increase the intellectual powers of people any time soon. Facebook will remain popular, and grow--you can count on it because you can count on people remaining stupid.
Advertisers spend their money on those centers of communication that attract the most gullible people who can be persuaded to spend their money on their advertised products. Facebook is definitely one of those centers. Buying Facebook stock at its current price of $29 is a sure thing, even if it drops in price some more, because there is no way to defeat the economic power of the stupidity of the buying public. For those of you who take advantage of these economic principles and make lots of money, there will be the additional satisfaction of knowing all those adolescent pseudo-Objectivists on Facebook have at least contributed to your wealth
What's the Point?
The point has nothing to do with any individuals, their personal views, or what they support or do not support. That is the reason I've included no names. If you are insatiably curious, you'll find the names at the links I've provided, but this is not about those individuals personally, except as unfortunate examples.
If you are not an individualist, for you, I'm afraid, there is no point at all. This is only for those who know who and what they are and what their values are, those who seek nothing in life but what they can achieve and acquire by their own effort, who seek no relationship with others except those entered into by them and others to their mutual benefit. They are not interested in convincing others to change their views, or to adopt their values, and are more than willing to let all others live their lives as they choose, so long as those others do not interfere their lives.
It is for such individualists this has been written, mostly as a form of entertainment. They certainly do not need my instruction. It may, for some, be a revelation about some kinds of people they meet in life, who seem to hold views similar to their own, but behave in ways that contradict those views. It may also help some who hold a false hope of meeting other individualists like themselves avoid the disappointment all such individualists are certain to experience. You are not alone in the world, but those like you are rare, very rare. It also may serve as a warning to some to not share your pearls of individualism with those who cannot possibly understand or appreciate them. They will either not understand you, and put you down as some kind of crackpot, or they will understand you, and resent or even hate you for what you are. As an individualist, of course, you do not care if others understand you, or what they think you are, or how they feel about you, but since the only persons deserving of the advantages of society are independent individualists, you will be more successful in enjoying those advantages by not encouraging the social parasites and ignorant to get in your way.