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What is the general opinion about the ARI WATCH site?

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I've been looking at that and the webmaster seems to have fairly interesting ideas regarding the current policies of ARI.

Do you find he has a point or do you think he's delusional, is it a dividing issue?

Just curious. I agree with some of his views, but haven't read the whole thing.

-PKD

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I think it's good for people to be critical about institutions and to scrutinize their actions.

"ARI Watch" however, is not an objective source of criticisim. Their default position is that everything that ARI does is Objectivist-tinged neoconservative propaganda and a distortion of "real" Objectivism.

While I have some issues with ARI, I'd be the first to say that they're doing a lot of good and that they are an organization worth supporting. Some of their op-eds aren't well thought out and are needlessly polemic, but on the whole, I don't think they're as bad as "ARI Watch" would have you believe. I'm also dissatisfied with the lectures they give on college campuses as they are (from my own experience) poorly written, shallow, and overly broad.

What I think they are doing right are their essay contests, book giveaways, and teacher outreach programs. Those have exposed more young people to Ayn Rand than any op-ed or campus lecture, and if they did nothing other then that they would be a tremendous force of good in the world.

Hopefully, as more generations learn about AR, the Institute can expand, recruit new blood, and correct some of their deficiencies. Make up your own mind about the ARI, but take "ARI Watch" with a huge grain of salt as you do so.

Edited by Myself

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I just took a quick look through it. It basically tries to "read the tea leaves" of Rand's writing, indicating what she would have thought as evidence against ARI. Inferences, and implications that are poorly substantiated at best. Anyone who associated with her, and discussed issues in detail would be in a far better position to understand the applications of her philosophy, yet it is not presented as this. In once case it actually claims Rand misapplied her own philosophy so that ARI's extension of it (support for Israel) is wrong.

It's junk in my estimation.

And of course there is not comment on C. Bradley Thompson's "The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism" which of course differentiates Objectivism from the school of neo-conservatism. Such an analysis would be crucial to the thesis of the site, which is that ARI is really a neo-con organization. No definition is given of neo-conservatism so it's used as more of a smear than a real definition.

The site seems to take a libertarian pacifist position a la Ron Paul. Almost all the criticisms are foreign policy related.

Edited by KendallJ

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I've been looking at that and the webmaster seems to have fairly interesting ideas regarding the current policies of ARI.

Do you find he has a point or do you think he's delusional, is it a dividing issue?

Just curious. I agree with some of his views, but haven't read the whole thing.

-PKD

I was researching possible blog names when I found ARIWatch. Lets just say, that Tracinsky is gone from ARI is a good thing.

The ARIWatch article A Lot Of Explaining To Do is an attack on nonessentials. Iraq had grossly violated the terms of the cease fire of the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. shouldn't have to police Iraq indefinitely, and several European countries had accommodated themselves to a corrupt circumvention of the embargo on Iraq, which was going to fall apart in time. Iraq did not participate in the 9/11 attacks. I never believed Iraq had nuclear weapons, but Saddam could use his illicit oil-for-food money to eventually simply buy one from North Korea or A. Q. Khan. The only way to bring the situation to an orderly end was a forcible regime change. That was accomplished in an incredibly professional and timely manner with minimal friendly loss of life. The main problem was the post-war administration. That required thought beyond "kill the bad guys" which Bush and his cabinet were incapable of grasping.

Other ARIWatch articles make better critiques. Peikoff on Waco and Militias is on target. The Waco wackos were in no way a militia, and dismissing militias as private armies is an analysis based on a nonessential.

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Other ARIWatch articles make better critiques. Peikoff on Waco and Militias is on target. The Waco wackos were in no way a militia, and dismissing militias as private armies is an analysis based on a nonessential.

Except that as part of a concerted thesis about the nature of ARI, this carries very little water. Even we here have questioned Peikoff's statements about particular policy, but that is a very different thing from claiming systemic failure in ARI policy.

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Except that as part of a concerted thesis about the nature of ARI, this carries very little water. Even we here have questioned Peikoff's statements about particular policy, but that is a very different thing from claiming systemic failure in ARI policy.

Yes, I agree. This doesn't integrate with or support "ARI are neocons" since Waco happened before there were neocons.

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Did you read the whole article? "To the official Objectivists freedom is a floating abstraction" ... "For all their talk about freedom and individualism, when it comes right down to it the people at ARI are statists" ... Those statements are on target?

Dr. Peikoff may have failed to distinguish between gun speculators and militias, but "ARI Watch" seems to confuse freedom with anarchy. They would expect Dr. Peikoff to oppose the government on principle, and seeing that he doesn't do so, they conclude that he is a "statist" who does not believe in "freedom." There is a name we "official Objectivists" have for this ideology...

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I read the whole article. The essence of the article was properly identifying what happened at Waco. If you think Waco was an example of government agencies properly suppressing anarchy, I disagree. Nevertheless, concluding Dr. Peikoff is a statist based on a misidentification is not supported by these facts, or any others. And regardless of the agenda of the author behind ARIWatch, one does not need to be an anarchist to identify government incompetence, arrogance and immoral overreaching of their authority.

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The essence of the article was properly identifying what happened at Waco.

I disagree. The description of the events just serves as background info. The main message of the article is what comes after it: the attack on "official Objectivists."

If you think Waco was an example of government agencies properly suppressing anarchy

From what I know of it, no, it was quite the opposite.

And regardless of the agenda of the author behind ARIWatch, one does not need to be an anarchist to identify government incompetence, arrogance and immoral overreaching of their authority.

Sure, and I would have no problem with someone doing that. My problem is that this guy would expect Dr. Peikoff to automatically condemn any use of force by the government, not because it shows incompetence or arrogance but simply because it is a use of force by the government; not because they are overreaching their authority but because there is any authority in the first place. That is anarchism.

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Sure, and I would have no problem with someone doing that. My problem is that this guy would expect Dr. Peikoff to automatically condemn any use of force by the government, not because it shows incompetence or arrogance but simply because it is a use of force by the government; not because they are overreaching their authority but because there is any authority in the first place. That is anarchism.

That is not in this article at all. This is baffling, what could you possibly be basing this on?

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That is not in this article at all. This is baffling, what could you possibly be basing this on?

"For all their talk about freedom and individualism, when it comes right down to it the people at ARI are statists"

People at ARI aren't statists by any definition except the one used by anarchists. I know this for a fact, and based on that knowledge, I have no doubt that any man who calls them statists must be either an anarchist or unfamiliar with their work. This guy is clearly familiar with their work.

Why is it then baffling to you that anyone would assume he's an anarchist? Does he come out in favor of a strong government elsewhere?

Also, the guy (looked for a name, doesn't have one), as far as I can tell from going through some of the other articles, is against every single measure there is, that the government took to protect the US after 9/11. He attacks them (and ARI's claim that we are morally superior to the enemy), at every turn. Of course, he offers no solutions, which leaves me to conclude he wants the government to do nothing.

Here's his view of US forces in Iraq, right after listing their rules of engagement to show they are too aggressive:

"The above is the lip-service, with exceptions rendering it almost without content. Mercenaries, who make up about half the U.S. presence in Iraq, are even less restrained. Whatever the official ROE U.S. troops do not act hamstrung considering, for example, that they virtually razed the town of Fallujah – and did it with the help of phosphorous bombs."

What more evidence do you need that he is indeed Ron Paul without a seat in Congress. If someone criticizes and attacks without offering any solutions, what are we to do, but take our best guess on where he stands, based on what he attacks. If he consistently attacks government action, he must be an anarchist.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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People at ARI aren't statists by any definition except the one used by anarchists. I know this for a fact, and based on that knowledge, I have no doubt that any man who calls them statists must be either an anarchist or unfamiliar with their work. This guy is clearly familiar with their work.

I am not familiar with anarchist work, so I'll take your word on their use of 'statism'. However, I would also note that Lexicon has an long entry for statism so perhaps this guy is one of the old-school NBI Objectivists. In his recent book Liberty and Tyranny, conservative talk radio host Mark Levin resurrects the word 'statist' for his opponents but I doubt he takes it from the anarchist tradition. Anarchists have no monopoly on the word.

Criticizing the conduct of a foreign war is consistent with any number of political positions. American critics of the Iraq war are mostly from the political left. There is a strain of American pacifism that traces back to the Quaker roots of Pennsylvania, which over the generations has been rationalistically alloyed with virtually every variety of political theory. The ARIWatch author points outs what he holds to be inconsistencies between Ayn Rand's own words and ARI spokesmen. I fail to see why an anarchist would have such extensive knowledge of and regard for Rand, or care about ARI's alleged apostasies.

My own theory is that this guy is simply bad at Objectivism. He has not studied any of Dr. Peikoff's follow-on courses on Objectivism after Rand's death and has no idea why Dr. Peikoff says the things he does or how to properly critique them. Even when he identifies an error as in Peikoff on Waco and Militias he leaps to the crazy hasty generalization that Dr. Peikoff is a statist. It is also a hasty generalization to dismiss this guy as an anarchist.

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Also, the guy (looked for a name, doesn't have one)

My searching around has indicated his name to be Mark Hunter.

I'm finding this discussion interesting. By the way, you bring up Ron Paul. Do you have an issue with Ron Paul?

-PKD

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My searching around has indicated his name to be Mark Hunter.

I'm finding this discussion interesting. By the way, you bring up Ron Paul. Do you have an issue with Ron Paul?

Not personally. I just disagree with a lot of his politics. (in the instances where he does have it layed out clearly)

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That is not in this article at all. This is baffling, what could you possibly be basing this on?

What Jake said. He doesn't state those things explicitly in the article, but those are the only premises that could lead anyone to call any ARI member a "statist" or accuse him of seeing freedom as a floating abstraction.

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