Thursday, June 01, 2006

Rand on Racism

Thanks to Nicholas Provenzo for bringing Ayn Rand's definition of racism to the surface in the light of a recent attempt by the Seattle Public Schools to re-define racism. In her 1963 essay on racism, Ayn Rand said: "Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men." And more: "Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.Racism claims that the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman's version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science." In the 2006 re-definition of racism, the Seattle Public School system says: "Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers." Do you think Rand had a tendency to overstate and exaggerate the influence of her opponents and their ideas?


Anonymous Protagonist said...

"Do you think Rand had a tendency to overstate and exaggerate the influence of her opponents and their ideas?"

Well, maybe; I'm not sure. But I wonder why you ask it just me, or is it not directly relevant to the racism issues you brought up? I don't know, maybe I don't get it.

Hm, I just thought of this: if you mean that no, she didn't have this tendency, and that in point of fact, here we have some radical collectivists in public schools, then NO, she did not overestimate, as your example indicates.

What I really meant to comment on was the horrifying blindness in Seattle's definition. Wow. Racism probably exists, but christ it's not like this. They're equating racism--which we all know is bad--with Westernism, which we all know is amazingly good. I can't believe they're totally perverting the definition to mean the opposite of what should not be practiced--a dismissal of individuals by collectivism. This is outrageous; I haven't slogged through your link yet, but I hope it didn't pass.

George Reisman pointed out that this anti-Western attitude in schools will lead to barbarism, an abandonment of all the finest values we know--all in the name of multiculturalism. He names the basics of Western Civilization in the essay "EDUCATION AND THE RACIST ROAD TO BARBARISM" here:

"From the perspective of intellectual and cultural content, Western civilization represents an understanding and acceptance of the following: the laws of logic; the concept of causality and, consequently, of a universe ruled by natural laws intelligible to man; on these foundations, the whole known corpus of the laws of mathematics and science; the individual's self-responsibility based on his free will to choose between good and evil; the value of man above all other species on the basis of his unique possession of the power of reason; the value and competence of the individual human being and his corollary possession of individual rights, among them the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness; the need for limited government and for the individual's freedom from the state; on this entire preceding foundation, the validity of capitalism, with its unprecedented and continuing economic development in terms of division of labor, technological progress, capital accumulation, and rising living standards; in addition, the importance of visual arts and literature depicting man as capable of facing the world with confidence in his power to succeed, and music featuring harmony and melody."

If you don't know anything about George Reisman, by the way, he's brilliant! An old student of Rand.

Michael Allen Yarbrough

6/04/2006 01:13:00 am  
Blogger Ergo Sum said...


I tried twice to write up a reply comment, and both times this lousy blogger platform ate up my comment! So, I'm going to be very brief here... as I'm annoyed, and not in the mood of repeating all I said.

My point mainly, in bringing up that question about Rand's exaggeration, was that what people mistakenly considered as her exaggeration was really their own misjudgment of the serious of the issues, their own disbelief about the fact that ideas do play an important and consequential role in history and man's life, that philosophy is ultimately the guide of cultural movements.

Multiculturalism is a bromide - veiled racism. And it's incredible how this multiculturalism now openly declares the virtue of individualism as infact racist, and evil, and to be avoided!

Btw, yes I've heard of George Reisman, I've read some of his articles online. Unfortunately, I don't read much in economics as that is not particularly in my intellectual interests, though I am in agreement with his basic philosophical premises inasmuch as they are the premises that Objectivism puts forth in politics.

6/05/2006 03:28:00 pm  
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