Turning a New Leaf on an Old Discussion
Over at SOLO HQ, somebody resurrected a year-old thread entitled, "ARIans Strike Again: SOLOists Count Your Blessings." I made a follow-up comment on that thread, which is worth repeating here.
Comments welcome, but readers might wish to join the conversation at SOLO HQ.
Without getting into all the conflicts and complexities of this particular incident (which is over a year old), I'd like to make a couple of observations, especially in response to Tom Rowlands' concern for "overgeneralization." Even when I made the initial statement of this thread, I was careful to point out that these criticisms applied to some associated with the Ayn Rand Institute "but by no means all, thank goodness." And I should add, today, a year later, that there are some encouraging signs that the culture surrounding ARI is changing. Aside from the fact that I very much value some of the scholarship being published by ARI-affiliated scholars (in such books as Essays on Ayn Rand's We the Living; Robert Mayhew's Ayn Rand and Song of Russia: Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood; and the forthcoming Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem, among others), I am also very encouraged by the fact that the Institute itself has shown a capacity to highlight internal dissent on such issues as the Bush presidency and the war in Iraq. I think these are healthy developments; perhaps some of those associated with the Institute are themselves responding to the kinds of criticisms that have been made over the years, and to the kinds of developments—like SOLO—which have filled an obvious need in the marketplace. I think that any organization that is not sensitive to the developments in that market is condemning itself to utter irrelevance.
Finally, without getting into a full discourse on the meaning of dialectics (and thus providing a "zillion hyper-links" :) ), let me just say that "dialectics" is what I call a "methodological orientation," and its essence is "the art of context-keeping." Context-keeping asks us to understand an issue from different vantage points, on different levels of generality, and in relationship to other issues, their past and present preconditions and potential future implications. (This often translates into an investigation of relationships insofar as they constitute a system that evolves over time.)
My attempts to reclaim dialectical method hark back to the first theoretician of dialectics: Aristotle.
I am in the process of authoring a short introduction to what I call "dialectical libertarianism," one which is concerned, fundamentally, with the conditions that make freedom possible and the different levels on which freedom is manifested. If you'd like to read a scholarly discussion of this subject, let me not disappoint Linz: "Dialectical Libertarianism: All Benefits, No Hazards."
Dr. Diabolical Dialectical