SOLO Perversion of Objectivism-- Part 1: The SOLO Style
A Journal for Western Man-- Issue XXVII-- November 12, 2004
|The organization which calls
itself, SOLO, claims Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, as
its guiding philosophy. The initials stand for, "Sense of Life
Objectivists." The phrase, "sense of life," comes from Ayn Rand's use of
it in her work on aesthetics,
The Romantic Manifesto.
The founder and principle of SOLO is Lindsay Perigo. What Mr. Perigo means by, "sense of life," is something entirely different from the meaning Ayn Rand intended by that phrase. What Mr. Perigo means not only contradicts the meaning of that phrase, as Ayn Rand intended it, but contradicts Objectivism itself at its very heart.
No perversion is successful without being plausible. Lindsay Perigo has wonderful things to say about Ayn Rand and defends the "fundamentals" of Objectivism, like "the absolutism of reason, the existence of an objective reality, the morality of self-interest, etc." as put by Barbara Branden, who is described as a SOLO, "Writer-In-Residence."
SOLO, itself, is primarily an on-line forum. Many of the articles and posts are from well known proponents of Objectivism who defend Objectivism as Ayn Rand explicated it. On many issues, the official SOLO position is that of Objectivism, and of course they claim to be the last real champions of that philosophy. All of this makes the Objectivist nature of SOLO plausible and the perversion of that philosophy much more subtle.
The Real Issue
Those who are familiar with SOLO know that Lindsay Perigo is a homosexual and that one of the issues he is most vocal about is the way homosexuals are treated by Objectivists. On that issue there is no question Perigo is right. No one, much less Objectivists, ought to intentionally abuse or mistreat anyone. If that were all there were to it, there would be no issue. It goes a lot further than that, however.
The SOLO Credo says Ayn Rand made mistakes, referring specifically to her view of homosexuality. In spite of SOLO's emphasis on homosexuality, that also is not the real issue. The real issue is much more fundamental, and much more serious. It concerns an essential truth of Objectivism, the volitional nature of man. You might notice that is not one of the "fundamentals" Barbara happened to mention.
It is not whether the things Mr. Perigo wants to promote are right or wrong that are at issue. He is free to promote what he chooses and ought to promote what he believes. He may even promote his views as Objectivism, if that is what he believes. The issue is whether or not what he believes in this regard is true. The question is whether or not Mr. Perigo is true to his name, which happens to mean "danger" in Portuguese. In terms of Objectivism, is he really Mr. Danger?
The one thing he is not a danger to is Objectivism itself. It is unlikely that anything done by Mr. Perigo, said or written on SOLO, or anywhere else for that matter, could adversely effect Objectivism, the philosophy, because the ground and tenets of that philosophy are too well documented and too broadly known. The SOLO perversion of Objectivism might certainly turn some people away from that philosophy, which would be harmful to them, of course; but Objectivism is not a movement or, "religion," that depends on how many people embrace it to be successful, which is another false issue of SOLO that will be addressed.
The danger is to those who are new to Objectivism and who are seeking to understand their own nature and the nature of the world they live in, and have already grasped that Objectivism is the only philosophy that adequately addresses those issues. The danger is they will be duped into believing what is found on SOLO is a true representation of both the teachings of Objectivism, and the kind of minds and personalities that philosophy produces.
In one of his speeches, Mr. Perigo said: "Objectivism is a totality, an integrated whole, comprehensive and consistent. It is not something simply to be studied as an academic exercise then shoveled aside in the rest of our waking hours; it is something to be studied in order to be put into practice. It is nothing less than a way of life—an approach to living that should be reflected in the behaviour of Objectivists and in the way they present themselves and their philosophy to the world."
I do not completely agree with that and will shortly have occasion to refer to the mistakes in that short statement, but there is one thing that is true. If you want to know what people really believe and really value, it is not necessary to listen to what they say, only to observe what they do—a person's true philosophy and values are always reflected in their behavior. What a person really loves and cares for is what they spend their time and money on. What a person is really interested in is what they they talk about most and involve themselves with. What a person really values will be reflected in how they speak, what they show respect for and what they show contempt for. What a person is, really, is demonstrated, as Lindsay says, "in the way they present themselves and their philosophy to the world."
SOLO Is What Perigo Is
So how do Mr. Perigo and SOLO present themselves to the world? Despite the protestations that SOLO is not primarily about sex and homosexuality, it is apparent to any casual observer, those are the dominant themes.
Some recent articles and posts illustrate what I mean:
Infallible Way To Score Guys And/Or Chicks! Posted by Lindsay Perigo on 10/19
D..., P..., and A... Added by A... B... on 10/17 (If you must see the disgusting title of this so-called "joke," click on the title.)
Sacred Sex, Animalistic Sex, and Other Seductive Theories by J... R... October 16, 2004
Gay Marriage Is Gay by A... M... October 14, 2004
What I have Learned from the Recent Debates on Homosexuality by G... W. C... October 3, 2004
The Natural "Crime Against Nature": A Brief Survey of Homosexual Behaviors In Animals Posted by K... on 9/26
Lindsay's personal style is dominated by crudeness and the same kind subjects:
A recent example: A... - There was *no* affair between me & F.... Please credit me with *some * taste. :-) Certain folk here chose, & choose, to b***-lick that entity, but I wasn't, & am not, one of them.
Another recent example: "... And for the record, I for one am tired of R...'s making smart-a**-light of any serious issue that comes up & sucking the d***s of the likes of the lunatics who think the planet is about to be taken over by volitional robots." (This post was subsequently deleted, but not before it was seen by the individual to whom it was directed, and not before Barbara Branden was made aware of it by me. It was deleted, no doubt, at Barbara's behest.)
An old example to demonstrate this is the perennial style of Perigo:
"Oh, you wouldn’t believe how the Left j****d off over this." (From Karen Reedstrom's interview with Lindsay Perigo, published in the September 1997 issue of Full Context)
All of this might be excused as merely a matter of style, however questionable for someone promoting the philosophy of reason and values, but Lindsay's method of discourse cannot be excused as merely "stylistic." Perigo does not reason with those he regards as opponents; his methods are insult, demeaning, bullying, lying, denigration of character, and false accusation.
It is all very boorish, and I will not burden the reader with examples, which abound. But for those unfamiliar with Perigo, these may seem like outrageous claims without any examples. Here is a recent one (which those who are familiar with his nonsense may safely skip).
*you* would not be alive today, because *I* would have murdered you, & humanity would be better off for *her* existence & your non-existence. Take this crap back to the ARI where it belongs, you Mengelian psycho!!
I have one more good example which I will include when I explain, "Why Lindsay Perigo Hates Me (in the next part of this series)."
Perigo and company are not the first to promote sexual promiscuity in the name of Objectivism. Ayn Rand's emphasis on individual liberty certainly makes that view an easy one to adopt, even if it ignores more important aspects of Objectivism, like the necessity of individual responsibility and the negatives of subjectivity and being guided by whim.
It is interesting that those kinds of mistake about Objectivism always produce contradictions which are often quite blatant, as this one is.
Recently P... H... (formerly the SOLO "Youth Director" I believe) posted this:
"... What can be proven is that unsafe sex with multiple partners is harmful, which we all knew anyway."
Well, apparently Mr. Perigo does not know it because on that same thread:
He quotes M... H... "Just to clarify this, are you saying that in certain circumstances it might be appropriate to embark on a purely sexual relationship with someone we feel absolutely nothing for beyond the physical?" and answers:
"since you *are* asking, I would say, go for it!! As long as no deceit is involved, I'm all in favour of recreational sex for its own sake. It's not the highest form of sex possible to us, which is sex combined with the deepest, most passionately-felt love, but in its own terms (context) is absolutely legitimate & delicious, & much better than *no* sex."
Not content with promoting promiscuity, he proceeds in his usual inimical style to insult those who have slightly higher standards than the licentious Mr. Perigo:
"I'll let you in on a secret. The rationalists who insist on this [sex always occur within the context of a deep romance] aren't getting any, & never will. And their insistence is their way of holding the world responsible for their frustration. If it ever came to it, they'd never be capable of romance, since romance requires liberation from neurotic self-absorption, which some pseudo-Objectivists mistake for self-esteem."
The Origin Of Perigo's Style and Methods
Lindsay Perigo and his family are from "Feilding, a small town in the lower North Island of New Zealand," he explains in an interview with Karen Reedstrom's in the September 1997 "I was born into a Marxist family—my grandfather had been General Secretary of the New Zealand Communist Party in the thirties—so I had ready access to the writings of Marx himself and all his prominent disciples. I was devouring these at 9 or 10 years of age," and said he pursued, "oddball interests," meaning, "classical music and political philosophy. At a time when the Beatles were all the rage, I was obsessed with operatic tenors. When my peers were watching Maxwell Smart, I was reading Marx and Engels."
And, he was serious about it. "I balked at reading Das Kapital from cover to cover, but did master the theory of surplus value, dialectical materialism, Marx’ theory of history, etc."
Lindsay attributes his conversion to Objectivism to the arguments and discussions he had with another former Marxist turned Objectivist. He was 28 when he first read The Fountainhead. "...by the age of 30 I had done a 180 degree turn," he said.
Ideology vs. Style
Mr. Perigo no doubt had a conversion of ideology, but it was not a complete conversion. I do not mean he is not sincerely an Objectivist, even though he is mistaken about some aspects of it, but his conversion is only ideological. His methods and style, even his motives remain those he learned as a communist, and they are inappropriate to Objectivism.
His are the methods of a propagandist, not a teacher who explains and demonstrates; he is a promoter of programs and movements, not a philosopher. It is the style one encountered in the now defunct The Daily Worker or sees today in any of the promotional material of the current day Marxist and socialist movements.
Save the World Syndrome
It cannot be attributed to Marxism, which Lindsay has completely repudiated and done a commendable job fighting both as an ideology and in its effects on current-day politics, but there is an aspect of his view that is consistent with Marxism and other ideologies promoted by the methods of Mr. Perigo that I call the "save the world syndrome."
It is a feature of all those ideologies that include as an essential tenet, it is the only hope of mankind, or the world, or civilization. It is found in such diverse ideologies as the various versions of collectivism (socialism, communism, and fascism, for example), Islam, and even Christianity. Except for Islam, only political versions of "save the world," ideologies embrace violence and coercion as one proper method of imposing their world-saving ideology on the world.
To Save the World
"To save the world," really is Lindsay's objective, and nothing less. Whether it is hubris, or megalomania, or only rhetoric, he makes clear, loud and often, that it is changing the world that is his motive and ambition. He even quotes Marx in promoting that ambition:
"So, SOLOists, let's get going -- we have work to do. "Philosophers have interpreted the world," said Karl Marx; "the point, however, is to change it." Out of the armchairs, to the barricades! And if the battle ahead seems long, that's because it is. But remember one of Ayn Rand's wisest observations: "He who fights for the future lives in it now." [From Lindsay Perigo's article, "Why SOLO?."]
Why would an Objectivist quote Ayn Rand and Marx in the same paragraph to promote the same ends, as though there could be any agreement between them about what those ends are, and since when was it philosophy's job to change the world.
Of course it is not a philosophers job, but Lindsay is not a philosopher, he is a revolutionary, who, according to the SOLO Credo has made it his job: "We seek nothing less than to change the world."
There is also the paragraph from a speech by Mr. Perigo we quoted earlier:
"Objectivism is a totality, an integrated whole, comprehensive & consistent. It is not something simply to be studied as an academic exercise then shoveled aside in the rest of our waking hours; it is something to be studied in order to be put into practice. It is nothing less than a way of life -- an approach to living that should be reflected in the behaviour of Objectivists & in the way they present themselves & their philosophy to the world."
A philosophy is not "a way of life." A religion is a way of life. Philosophy does not tell anyone how to live their life, and the purpose of philosophy is not to be, "presented to the world," like some kind of gospel message. A philosophy is like a roadmap—it does not tell one where to go, it provides information necessary for one to choose themselves where to go and how to get there—but philosophy does not dictate either the destination or the route. The purpose of philosophy is not to change the world, the purpose of philosophy is to discover the truths necessary to live successfully in this world. If enough people do that, the world will be changed. That is the kind of change the American Revolution exemplifies.
The kind of, "world change," Mr. Perigo advocates and promotes is another kind, a kind imposed on it from the outside, even using force if that is necessary. But that is another issue to taken up at another time.
There is something wrong with every "save the world," or "change the world," ideology. When one finds such ideology being made part of what is touted as philosophy, it is evidence of some great flaw. When one finds it being used in the name of Objectivism, it is not only a flaw in philosophy, it is a contradiction of the worst kind.
Reginald Firehammer is a filosofer and author of the book: The Hijacking of a Philosophy: Homosexuals vs. Ayn Rand's Objectivism. He is the author and host of The Autonomist, an online intellectual journal, and a prominent contributor to the SoloHQ forum, as well as a contributor to The Rational Argumentator. In the future, he intends to produce a comprehensive treatise on ontology, consciousness, and ultimately filosofy itself. Mr. Firehammer can be contacted at email@example.com.
You can discuss this work on The Autonomist's forum at http://usabig.com/wowbbforums/view_topic.php?id=24&forum_id=7.
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