A Note to Readers: I’ve made the decision to make my latest post into a multi-part series exploring both my understanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and why I struggle with publicly calling myself an Objectivist—primarily because of Dr. Yaron Brook and the Ayn Rand Institute distorting important aspects of her philosophy. This is part three of a five-part series. Read parts one and two.
The reason Yaron Brook has offended me so deeply, and has engendered this enormous, multi-part rant, is because of his position within the “Objectivist community.” To outsiders, he’s seen as an official leader, a man eminently qualified to talk about Objectivism and frame current events through an Objectivist prism. Objectivism is not a cult, and disagreements occur all the time. One of the virtues of a philosophy that puts primacy on the individual, rather than the collective, is that there can be polite disagreement without animosity. Minor disagreements don’t have to explode into an exaggerated “Us Vs. Them” persecution complex. Philosophy lays out certain general concepts and fundamentals; the specifics are subject to individual passion, interest, thought, and understanding. (And nothing makes me laugh more than Peikoff telling the story of the guy who dyed his hair orange to look like Howard Roark, because he thought that would make him be more of an Objectivist.)
There are dumb Objectivists out there, claiming to speak for the cause without the same authority of Brook. If Brook were someone like Bosch Fawstin (who generally cohosts Amy Peikoff’s awful podcast, Don’t Let It Go… Unheard, and is also possibly the dumbest Objectivist on the planet), his comments on charity wouldn’t bother me. He would just be some guy, claiming to be an Objectivist, with a not-very-bright, poorly-thought-out interpretation of charity based on a mangling of Ayn Rand’s own statements on the subject. Brook isn’t just “some guy”; he’s a finance Ph.D who revels in economic theory and foreign policy, not to mention President and Executive Director of a nonprofit that has Ayn Rand’s name pasted onto it. Brook, unlike Fawstin, has the appearance of authority to outsiders—the appearance of speaking for all Objectivists, of representing the views all Objectivists have, or at least “should” have. But he’s wrong.