Randians for Mass Murder

David Kelley is the executive director of The Objectivist Center, celebrated in some libertarian circles as a forum for moderate randianism. This is what Kelley has to say about the response to the acts of terror on September 11:

"Negotiation is an exercise of reason that civilized people use to resolve their differences. We are not dealing with civilized people. We must cease the policy of excusing their violence by their poverty and trying to buy them off with subsidies. We are not dealing with people who seek such gain. We must declare war on the terrorists and use whatever force it takes to render them incapable of posing any further threat."

Kelley is advocating war with "whatever force it takes" against enemies who are less than human (not "civilized people"). This is the voice of the reasonable Objectivist faction. What about the unreasonable faction?

Leonard Peikoff – the "intellectual heir" of Ayn Rand – is the founder of The Ayn Rand Institute, the fountainhead of orthodox Objectivism. His reaction is – unsurprisingly – similiar to Kelley's, but even more indiscriminate. Americas enemies, it seems, are Arabs in general:

"The Arabs embodied in extreme form every idea-selfless duty, anti-materialism, faith or feeling above science, the supremacy of the group-which our universities and churches, and our own political Establishment, had long been preaching as the essence of virtue."

And what are Americans to do about the blatantly religious Arab altruists? Simple. Kill'em all – inflict "mass death" upon the citizens of Towelhead Nations:

"To those who oppose war, I ask: If not now, when? How many more corpses are necessary before this country should take action? The choice today is mass death in the United States or mass death in the terrorist nations."

Many libertarians are attracted to the remnants of Aristotelian philosophy within Objectivism. Those elements are conspicuously absent in the Objectivist proposals provoked by terrorism. The enemy is a faceless, barely human, collective entity. No references are made to the Just War doctrine.

They say that war brings out the best and the worst in people. That goes for Objectivists too, and it is not a pleasant revelation for libertarians.

September 19, 2001