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As the story goes, the great Rabbi Hillel, whose life spanned the birth of Christ, was asked by a Gentile to explain the Torah while he stood on one foot. In other words, “give me the condensed version.”
Hillel’s response has since been identified as the Golden Rule:
“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and study.”
Ever since a pro-life activist friend of mine described the problem of trying to converse with “objectivists” on her campus missions, I’ve been trying to figure out what “Objectivism” is. I won’t pretend to have done a lot of study on the subject, because, frankly, it sounds like some sort of materialist Gnosticism to me, but recently my curiosity was piqued again by Robert Tracinski’s article on The Federalist: Confessions of a Reluctant Culture Warrior.
Let’s be honest. It’s kind of thrilling when one of your occasional allies seems to concede some of your most cherished arguments. So I’m reading Tracinski’s article with Sally’s (as in When Harry Met Sally) diner enthusiasm:
“…my concern that the left was using the issue to secure the imprimatur of the state for homosexual relationships so they could then use anti-discrimination laws as a bludgeon against religious holdouts.”
“Once you gain social and political power, you hold on to it by making your preferred views mandatory, a catechism everyone must affirm, while suppressing all heretical views. In this case, to gain social acceptance of homosexuality, you make the affirmation of gay marriages mandatory while officially suppressing any dissenting religious views.”
The left’s operational concept of freedom is that you are allowed to do and say what you like—so long as you stay within a certain proscribed window of socially acceptable deviation. The purpose of the gay marriage campaign is simply to change the parameters of that window, extending it to include the gay, the queer, the transgendered—and to exclude anyone who thinks that homosexuality is a sin or who wants to preserve the traditional concept of marriage.
Yes! Yes! Yes!
And then, after saying some equally interesting and counter-narrative things about ShirtStorm, GamerGate, MetalGate, gendered toys, and the UVA rape haox (by golly, I think he’s onto a trend!), he spoils the whole mood by offering up Randian Objectivism as the answer.
Ugh. Just give up your God and religion, and we shall overcome the totalitarian Left. Ri-ight.
In the brief reading I have done on the subject, the most succinct (and humorous) explanation of Objectivism is:
There is no God; man is made in His image. /Go read Atlas Shrugged.
Sorry, I can’t remember who gets the attribution, however that last bit is my addition. Obviously it’s someone who’s not a fan.
I’m opening the floor to all comers, though. Anyone have a Twitter-length explanation for Objectivism? And maybe your explanation would benefit by contrasting it with other, better known philosophies — worldviews?