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Folks Interview: A Discussion by Irfan Khawaja

I just wanted to alert folks to a very thoughtful, probing blog piece written by Irfan Khawaja, entitled "Chris Sciabarra on Objectivism and Disability." As always, he raises many interesting and challenging points in his essay.

Alas, I'm in the middle of preparing the July 2017 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies and can't address all the issues he covers, but I should state for the record that I probably gave 16,000 words to Robert Lerose, who interiewed me for that Folks piece; Lerose was limited to 1,600 words. So a lot got left on the cutting-room floor.

But I might address some of the more thorny questions raised by my interview at another time. What was important, in this context, was to discuss those positive things I drew from the work of Rand and also from Nathaniel Branden, "the father of the self-esteem movement." Adapting those lessons to my own personal context was an important factor in helping me through the twists and turns of life. But I made it a point to say in the interview that I am not an "orthodox Objectivist." I have been influenced by Rand, Branden, and the writings of others in Objectivism for sure; but I consider myself as much a scholar of Marx, Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, the history of dialectics, etc. as I do of Rand.

Rand and Branden were fond of quoting an old Spanish proverb: "God said: 'Take what you want, and pay for it.'" Well, that's what I've done with Rand, Marx, Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, etc.: I've drawn lessons from so many different thinkers that I couldn't define myself as strictly within the traditions of any single one of them. Instead, I gave credit where credit was due and took a very different path and named that to which I adhere as "dialectical libertarianism," which weds a critical, radical mode of analysis to the libertarian project. There was a time, some 20 or so years ago, that not many people would have been caught dead, defining themselves as a "dialectical libertarian." But the times they are a changin'.

I completed my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy" in 2000 (the trilogy includes three books: Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. But I'll have a lot more to say about "dialectical libertarianism" very soon, as I am coediting a major anthology on this topic. Watch this space for more information. Sooner than later.

In any event, my gratitude to Irfan for discussing the interview and its various implications.