Ayn Rand - Not a Model of Clear Thought
I really would like to read Liberal Fascism. I really hope it's not like The Ominous Parallels, a book whose thesis is "Kant = Hitler = America" somehow spread out through 352 pages. I'm not exaggerating - the book makes the absurd claim that Immanuel Kant bears primary responsibility for Nazism, and instead of offering the excellent argument that this shocking claim requires, Peikoff (like all Objectivists) punts on the rationale. Hitler is Kant with a moustache, obv. Logically, I think that if you accept that premise, you can prove anything else at all, so why not? The United States is just like Germany, Kant is an altruist (!), Reagan is going to bring us down.
Anyway, I think I had a point. Oh yes. This was awfully disturbing, in that, beyond taking Peikoff seriously, Jonah Goldberg actually appears to think he had a point:
Yes, I think I've mentioned around here that I am familiar with Peikoff's book. I found it useful in many respects, thought a particularly enjoyable read. It floats at a pretty high altitude, but that was Peikoff's intent.I don't know; Peikoff's hysteria and fumbling of philosophical history was pretty shabby, though, to be fair, I only skimmed the book, so maybe the last page included a "j/k, seriously Kant was cool and I know the difference between Hitler and Reagan." The bigger irritation is the credit Kant and Hegel are given for the worst evils of Nazism and Communism. Assigning any blame to Kant is particularly dishonest, because, well, he had that categorical imperative thing, which pretty much cuts out any mass-murder stuff. I'm not familiar enough with Hegel's political theory to offer much of a correction, but I know several things that make me wary of calling him a proto-Nazi. For one thing, the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century were ideologically Marxist, and despite Marx's claims to the contrary, he really wasn't much of a Hegelian. Marx took the idea of dialectic and excised the "idealism" part; this is sort of like taking theology and excising God. Either Marx got Hegel wrong or he didn't like what Hegel said; so Marx wasn't a good Hegelian. If someone has a reasonable criticism of Hegel's political philosophy that takes into account that he was not named Karl Effing Marx, I haven't seen it. Of course, I don't know Hegel or Hegel scholarship like I should, so whatever. Maybe these people have a point. I do know it would make a lot more sense to assign the blame to Marx, where much of it belongs.
I hope Liberal Fascism is (and it seems to be) a much better, more thoughtful book than Peikoff's pathetic offering, which was just Randian libel.