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NikolaiM

John A. Allison takes over as CEO of the Cato Institute

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All right, gentlemen, please tone down the emotional rhetoric. Let's all try to remember that civility helps others understand what we are actually trying to say; incivility encourages the amygdala to conjure up illusory strawmen.

Sounds good to me. Everything was going fine until #19, which was totally inappropriate yet earned a “like” from a moderator. I will continue to reply in kind to that sort of thing, and when my posts get deleted, there are other places where they’ll be reproduced. I think the moderators need to be more objective, and not let the fact that they enjoyed an inappropriate shot aimed at someone they don’t like keep them from recognizing that it was inappropriate, and wouldn’t be allowed if it were aimed at them.

Here’s a really good video that seems relevant here. Warning to Stephen, it mixes serious points with some goofy visuals!

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Sounds good to me.

Good. For the record, I have no qualms with invitations to flame wars at other forums. It helps us keep the threads here on-point. Speaking of which, how about that Cato institute?

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Speaking of which, how about that Cato institute?

What about it? Far as I know Allison hasn’t actually taken over yet. I’m inclined to doubt that he’s imbibed enough ARI kool-aid (and I use this metaphor in the Ken Kesey, not the Jim Jones sense) to make a real mess of things. One member of the Cato board, Frank Bond, is also a TAS trustee, FWIW. I’m still going with what I said in my first post on this thread.

http://forum.objecti...55

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I highly doubt this will put Cato under ARI control; I can't imagine anyone here expects that. The prospect of Allison at the helm raises the interesting (and likely, in my opinion) prospect of a better relationship between the organizations - possible cooperation, even.

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I highly doubt this will put Cato under ARI control; I can't imagine anyone here expects that. The prospect of Allison at the helm raises the interesting (and likely, in my opinion) prospect of a better relationship between the organizations - possible cooperation, even.

Sure, TAS has done quite a few events with Cato, I’ve even attended, so Cato has never had a problem with hosting, or co-hosting Rand themed events. They’ll probably do those kinds of things with ARI now, and no longer TAS, though with the movie coming out in a couple months who knows? I haven’t read Gary Weiss’s book Ayn Rand Nation, but I’ve read that in it he reports on the meeting between John Aglialoro, John Allison, Yaron Brook, and David Kelley, a couple-three years ago. He says it that it amounted to a bait and switch, planned as a discussion about cooperation, but was really about Allison trying (and failing) to woo Aglialoro away from TAS. Is he one to hold a grudge? Would it be right for the libertarian movement? Is he not, now, responsible for the health of the libertarian movement, to a greater extent than any other individual?

For anyone who hasn't seen it yet, here's my über-controversial video making debut. Watch it, then join in on all the speculation about my psychology. I've got quotes from Rand's The Psychology of Psycologizing all ready to go to add that extra punch to my rebuttals.

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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It's too bad that this devolved into a flame war. I was actually interested in whether people think Allison's appointment at Cato will cause problems within ARI (and the Oist community as a whole), or whether they think he'll make some much needed improvements over at Cato and transition the place towards greater acceptance of and appreciation for Ayn Rand's philosophy. Personally, I'm concerned that this is a bad move for Objectivism as it will confuse the public as to the differences between libertarians and Oist (focusing on end-game policy and not on philosophical principles). I'm happy to be proven wrong, and I'd love to know what others think. Can't we all just get along?

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Personally, I'm concerned that this is a bad move for Objectivism as it will confuse the public as to the differences between libertarians and Oist (focusing on end-game policy and not on philosophical principles). I'm happy to be proven wrong, and I'd love to know what others think. Can't we all just get along?

To me, it sounds as if you are confused about the differences between libertarians and Oists (and their similarities). Most libertarians I've met are very focused on philosphical principles, and often on a much deeper level than the average young Objectivist who has accepted others' mischaracterizations of libertarians without investigating the matter for him or herself. May I politely suggest that you familiarize yourself with the depth and breadth of the history of libertarian philosophical thought before buying into the caricature that they are all of one collective mind and are "hippies of the right"?

J

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he'll make some much needed improvements over at Cato and transition the place towards greater acceptance of and appreciation for Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Cato doesn’t need transitioning toward greater acceptance or appreciation of Ayn Rand. They’ve partnered with the Atlas Society repeatedly. Swapping out TAS for ARI is hardly a change in that respect. Or is it? Jennifer Burns and Anne Heller both appeared at Cato, will “independent” writers like them still be welcome? The reviews of their books by ARI people were hostile, to put it mildly, and I haven’t heard of either appearing at ARI affiliated events. I’m sure it’s not that they refused invitations, with the opportunity to sell more books.

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Jonathan,

I didn't mean to imply that libertarians as a group are disinterested or ignorant of philosophical principles. But there are real differences between many who label themselves libertarian and those associated with Objectivism. And there are some pretty serious philosophical and policy-oriented differences between ARI and Cato. What interests me at the moment (at least in this thread) is how/if the larger of those differences will be reconciled under Mr. Allison's leadership. The history of libertarian philosophical thought does have great depth, but it's also incredibly wide (from natural rights, consequentialism, anarchism, contractarianism, and on and on). But some of those supposed philosophical underpinnings of liberty contradict one another, or at the very least do not square with an Objectivist framework. Acknowledging critiques leveled against libertarianism by Dr. Brook, Dr. Peikoff, Mr. Schwartz, Diana Hsieh, etc., how as Objectivists should we view Mr. Allison's new gig as head of a libertarian organization?

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Acknowledging critiques leveled against libertarianism by Dr. Brook, Dr. Peikoff, Mr. Schwartz, Diana Hsieh, etc., how as Objectivists should we view Mr. Allison's new gig as head of a libertarian organization?

I would hope that Allison would encourage open criticism and debate of any and all ideas, and not take a defensive, cloistered approach in which dialogue is stifled or silenced. Cato currently has a certain degree of respect. If a mindset of banishing criticism of certain people or ideas is established there (including constructive criticism a la the McCaskey ordeal), Cato will very quickly damage its reputation and lose all respect. Should libertarians address Objectivists' critiques of libertarainism? Absolutely. And then the same Objectivists should address the libertarains' responses, as well as their criticisms of Objectivism.

J

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Should libertarians address Objectivists' critiques of libertarainism? Absolutely. And then the same Objectivists should address the libertarains' responses, as well as their criticisms of Objectivism.

It's not so well known that back when Peter Schwartz's Libertarianism essay came out, Walter Block challenged him to a public debate. What do you think was the reply?

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This looks like really good news:

http://www.slate.com...r_ayn_rand.html

In fact, now that I have a deeper understanding about Cato, I believe almost all the name calling between libertarians and objectivists is irrational. I have come to appreciate that all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists.

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This looks like really good news:

http://www.slate.com...r_ayn_rand.html

In fact, now that I have a deeper understanding about Cato, I believe almost all the name calling between libertarians and objectivists is irrational. I have come to appreciate that all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists.

Today David Weigel has rehashed the above at Slate, this time adding in material that takes ARI to task over foreign policy. The fact that he makes no acknowledgement of the diversity of opinion within "Objectivism" on this matter is something I find irritating.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/09/the_new_president_of_the_cato_institute_wants_the_think_tank_to_adopt_the_personal_philosophy_of_ayn_rand_as_policy_.single.html

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Today David Weigel has rehashed the above at Slate, this time adding in material that takes ARI to task over foreign policy. The fact that he makes no acknowledgement of the diversity of opinion within "Objectivism" on this matter is something I find irritating.

Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. How is there diversity of opinion within it? Are you suggesting she was schizophrenic?

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Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. How is there diversity of opinion within it? Are you suggesting she was schizophrenic?

Did you read the article? And did you notice that I used scare quotes?

The way this strikes in the real world—the way it separates objectivists from other libertarians—is in foreign policy. Since the war on terror broke out, Cato’s been a bunker for non-interventionists. Its foreign-policy shop is staffed with critics of the Iraq war.

Objectivists don’t see foreign policy that way. The Ayn Rand Institute, founded in 1985 by Rand’s intellectual/financial heir Leonard Peikoff, has spun off arguments for war rooted in a philosophy of self-preservation.

Weigel is equating Objectivism with ARI's foreign policy. I'm saying I find that irritating. There are plenty of Objectivists who disagree with the ARI foreign policy. Are we on the same page now?

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Did you read the article? And did you notice that I used scare quotes?

Weigel is equating Objectivism with ARI's foreign policy. I'm saying I find that irritating. There are plenty of Objectivists who disagree with the ARI foreign policy. Are we on the same page now?

No. The opinions of Objectivists are only relevant to the extent they are the one position which is in accordance with Objectivism, and entirely irrelevant otherwise. And the way to determine that correct position has nothing to do with submitting it to a vote, or anything like that.

Objectivism does have a position on foreign policy, and that position isn't open to contradictions. So there cannot be several valid yet contradictory positions on foreign policy, held by Objectivists. If you're gonna address Objectivism as it relates to modern foreign policy, you have to pick one interpretation as the correct one first, and dismiss all the incorrect ones. It makes no difference whether Objectivists would agree with you, your starting point should always be Ayn Rand's philosophy, not what her followers believe.

I don't see anything wrong with David Weigel's approach here. Not only has ARI been lead by Rand's close friend and intellectual heir, but Ayn Rand herself was very clear on both the morality of a free nation sacrificing its own defense for the sake of protecting lives in an enemy country, and on the evil, savage nature of Islamist terror.

But maybe you do see something wrong with it. And you're welcome to explain what is wrong with it. But so far, you haven't. Bringing up the fact that he is ignoring the opinions of some Objectivists is not a valid point. Unless he has evidence that those opinons are correct, he should ignore them. He did in fact give clear indications that he believes ARI's interpretation to be the correct one.

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I don't see anything wrong with David Weigel's approach here. Not only has ARI been lead by Rand's close friend and intellectual heir,

Lead indeed.

I’m not interested in starting a debate about foreign policy with you. This ground has been well tread, and frankly you’re not worth talking to. If you had ever acknowledged being wrong about the date rape imbroglio I might credit you with some intellectual honesty and feel it worth my time to provide links to prior discussions of the issue. As it is, I’ve long since written you off as a hopeless case, and your earlier post (#65) shows your intent here on this thread, however ineptly executed it was. Go waste someone else's time.

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I don't see anything wrong with David Weigel's approach here. Not only has ARI been lead by Rand's close friend and intellectual heir, but Ayn Rand herself was very clear on both the morality of a free nation sacrificing its own defense for the sake of protecting lives in an enemy country, and on the evil, savage nature of Islamist terror.

Kind of besides the point, since there is no intellectual heir (I've never seen Rand mention anything of it), and there is nothing about ARI that inherently gives it any authority in determining how Objectivism ought to be applied. It's wrong for anyone to reason that ARI is anything besides an institution that applies Objectivism. Just because ARI has an official position doesn't mean that anyone who disagrees is being inconsistent or contradicting Objectivism. Better to make references to Ayn Rand than ARI. Although in this case ARI probably matters, since Allison is affiliated with them.

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Kind of besides the point, since there is no intellectual heir (I've never seen Rand mention anything of it), and there is nothing about ARI that inherently gives it any authority in determining how Objectivism ought to be applied. It's wrong for anyone to reason that ARI is anything besides an institution that applies Objectivism. Just because ARI has an official position doesn't mean that anyone who disagrees is being inconsistent or contradicting Objectivism. Better to make references to Ayn Rand than ARI. Although in this case ARI probably matters, since Allison is affiliated with them.

That's not what I said. Ninth Doctor is upset that Weigel isn't treating Objectivism as a collection of all the voices of everyone who is claiming to be an Objectivist.

I pointed out that that's not what Objectivism is. Whether ARIs position is the right one is debatable, but whether two contradicting positions should both be treated as "the Objectivist position" is not. It has to be one or the other.

If Ninth Doctor had said that ARI is wrong, and the correct Objectivist position is to be opposed to so called

interventionist wars, then at least he'd be trying to assert and defend his position. Instead, he wants it to be mentioned whenever Ayn Rand's philosophy is mentioned, just because he says he's an Objectivist.

It's wrong for anyone to reason that ARI is anything besides an institution that applies Objectivism.

Read the article. That's not his reasoning. He presents a substantive argument as to why ARIs position is the correct application of Objectivism. Nowhere does he suggest that whatever ARI says is automatically Objectivism.

Edited by Nicky

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Today David Weigel has rehashed the above at Slate, this time adding in material that takes ARI to task over foreign policy. The fact that he makes no acknowledgement of the diversity of opinion within "Objectivism" on this matter is something I find irritating.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/09/the_new_president_of_the_cato_institute_wants_the_think_tank_to_adopt_the_personal_philosophy_of_ayn_rand_as_policy_.single.html

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/objectivists-for-empire/

And here's another one, a bit longer, and not too much overlap, from the American Conservative. It's funny to see a non-Objectivist saying such and such "should provoke an excommunication from ARI". He's suggesting that otherwise John Allison is practicing duplicity. I, for one, am inclined to take John Allison’s latest statement, the one to Cato staffers, at face value. And I expect his "excommunication" to come about as quickly as Alan Greenspan's. Meaning, not quickly at all.

He links to my video, and I just checked the analytics on it. One interesting fact, this even surprises me, is the demographics of the viewership. 88% male, 12% female.

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He links to my video, and I just checked the analytics on it. One interesting fact, this even surprises me, is the demographics of the viewership. 88% male, 12% female.

Why is that surprising? Women generally are not into such abstractions. Math, science, Objectivism, theology, 80:20 is about the typical male:female ratio.

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Why is that surprising? Women generally are not into such abstractions. Math, science, Objectivism, theology, 80:20 is about the typical male:female ratio.

I would expect 60:40, or 70:30. 80:20 goes beyond my experience. 88:12, way beyond.

I really don't want to get sidetracked with this.

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The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) announced today that John Allison, a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors, has decided to resign from the Board, noting a desire to reduce his professional commitments and devote full energies to his new position as chief executive officer and President of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=27508

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Hmmm. It might mean just what it says. This is also consistent with the theory that Peikoff's influence over the ARI Board is strong, strong enough to be described as "conform or be cast out". Whatever, I won't be boycotting ARI or taking any other special action.

I look forward to Cato becoming equal to and surpassing ARI in its policy analysis and advocacy work.

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