Don’t Let It Go…Unheard #16

House resolutions on Libya. Insider trading at the FDA. Israel fires on “protesters” near Golan. Congress’s budget battle: Does it pit Ayn Rand against Jesus? And more.

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4 responses to “Don’t Let It Go…Unheard #16

  1. Shahriar Hassani

    Hi Amy,

    I know that Objectivism does not agree with everything the conservatives say or do, so I wanted to ask your opinion as an Objectivist on the David Horowitz academic bill of rights. I’m sure you know of the bill. Do you think someone who agrees with Ayn Rand should support this bill?

    My regards,

    Shahriar Hassani

  2. Byron Hudler

    My name is not Amy, but I will answer your question with an absolutely unqualified no. First of all, the decisions about what is taught or not taught, who gets hired or fired and for what reasons, etc. can only be made by the owners of the institution. Prospective attendees (or their parents if they are paying) will choose with their pocketbooks.
    Secondly no Objectivist would ever (in my opinion) would ever agree to support the following “Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge in these areas by providing students with dissenting sources and viewpoints where appropriate”. Since Objectivists believe the truth can be ascertained objectively, why would one teach a dissenting viewpoint that is obviously wrong?
    Academic Freedom? Just a meaningless phrase that has been used to promote political and philosophical viewpoints, mainly those Ms Rand would call “Collectivist”. Professors are employees just like any other occupation, and they do not have the “freedom” to teach whatever they desire – they should answer to their employer who does ultimately answer to the customers. Administrators, Boards of Regents, parents, alumni, etc. have been cowed by this “Academic Freedom” bull for too long, have been afraid to even say anything, much less take action. But this “Bill of Rights” is no solution, it just takes the problem in a different direction.

    • I agree with Byron that an Objectivist would not support such a measure, at least not when couched in terms of “uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge.” It is conceivable to me that an Objectivist would support some similar sort of measure in today’s context, where you have state-owned and state-run universities (with even nominally private universities being subject to government control through the means of government-subsidized scholarships and student loans). Really the only reason to support such a measure is that we live in a world where government exercises significant control over the universities, and those universities are being dominated by altruist/collectivist ideologies.

      In a proper society, where all schools are privately owned and operated, it would be wrong to speak of an academic “bill of rights.” As Byron said, the owners of the institutions would decide whom to hire and what to teach. I could see an owner of a university deciding that he did want to hire, e.g., a Kantian, even if he’s an Objectivist, just so students could be taught by those who are presumably most knowledgeable about a range of viewpoints. But would there be a “right” for such a person to be hired, or, once hired, to teach whatever and however he wishes? No.

  3. I’m listening to your discussion of Rand vs Jesus. You are absolutely right about the inherent conflict between Rand and Christianity. But Ryan is probably alluding to the “libertarian-Catholic” view that the Catholic Church has not been as hostile to the market as modern, leftist, post-Vatican II Catholics have claimed.

    The libertarian-Catholic Thomas E. Woods wrote a book about it:

    The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (Studies in Ethics and Economics)

    This book is ONLY interesting to Objectivists in as much as it shows the hypocrisy of modern-day lefty religious types.

    Consider the pestiferous Just War Theory. When the Roman Church had a serious enemy to contend with (Islamic armies in 1571), there was no mercy to be found. Each soldier was issued a sword and a rosary. The muslim leader was beheaded and his head hoisted high to produce fear in the muslim soldiers. Those muslim soldiers who fell into the water (it was a sea battle) were killed, under orders from the Pope, with long spears designed to stab them from the ship’s deck. This merciless pope, incidentally, is Pope Saint Pius V. Catholics pray to him.

    So there are two things going on here: first, there’s the INHERENT conflict between the philosophy of Atlas Shrugged and The Sermon on the Mount; second, there’s the hijacking of Catholic doctrine by modern-day lefties to produce a more pacifist, socialist Church than the one that actually existed for many hundreds of years.


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