When I chose to call my end of things "Randism" which I explained elsewhere, colloquially, for lack of something more concise and with limited apporval by David Odden since I made my case that it infringes on the technical term "objectism" with which it does overlap, and as part of the general harrassment I recieved as (so-called) OBJECTIVISM ONLINE. The issue of "cults"was brought up and I made my explanations. David Odden, one of the few honorable persons there gave me a thorough going over and his decision was to do as I wished on my site and that we might use "Randian Objectism", which, while a bit clumsy,, is quite all right with me. The big bogeyman with many of these folks, especially the younger ones is the fear of my use of "Randism" inviting charges of "cultism". They were powerful scared of it. My feeling is "Bring it on". If ever there was a pitch I could and would hit out of the park, that is it. In fact, I usually try to inveigle my adversary to go there: It is a killing field for me. I have a Master's in Psychology, a minor in history and 19 credits in Philosophy and philosophy-related matters (Logic, Cosmology, Ethics, American Philosphy, Church in the Modern World, Basic Theology and twice in History and Philosophy of Science). Now, while it is not the degree, but the PEDIgree, that still gives me home field advantage.

First, let us make no mistake, this is a battle and a serious one since one side is trying to depersonalize and dehumanize the other and whichever side loses is depersonalized and dehumanized since this is about the deepest levels of personal and human identity. That means put up your nukes.

Second and most important since it desccribes what is already being done: The opposition will start this fight anyway, especially if they know you are afraid of just that. William F. Buckley did it in 1967. Folks; it's already here so grow up or go sit down with the rest of the children!

Third: Unlike most debates where the debate is about impersonal matters, this is all about person. Therefore the individual identties of the combatants are part of the issue. It can be a matter of the pot calling the kettle black. Who is qualified to make that charge. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", also "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones". If you are going to throw anround charges of being in the mind control or obliteration field, you better be a psychologically independent person yourself; or else... . Buckley belonged to a system that attributeds supernatural powers and even divinity to a specific person: Yashua bar Yussef; aka Jesus Christ, much as all cult leaders are invested by their followers with such and they are held exampt from normal scrutiny, and infallibility to the Pope (to be truthful, this doctrine, when understood entails discussion via councils and limits this to Catholic doctrine so it is not as malevolent as one might think since, acting as a spokesman for th Church with the participation and under the aegis of that institution via due process, he is entitled to absolute credibility in Church matters. But that is only for now). Catholics, to be Catholics, believe that bread and wine are , in fact, transformed to both flesh and blood despite the fact that they in no way resemble either down to the atomic level (or they are liars). Christianity is riddled with claims that, if made on behalf of other things would be met with gales of laughter, derisions and admonitions to "grow up". Aside from that, and tell your conservative friends this, it is more compatible with Socialism than Capitalism: Something about "Give us this day our daily bread [substitute health care, education, right Gingrich?, minimum wage, housing or any percieved or real necessity]" and "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven". Do you wonder why the churches are drifting inexorably leftward? Not under their own power but as though being helplessly drawn in as if by the gravity of a black hole. Why are the bulk of religious utopias of one socialist stripe or other? What about "It is more blassed to give than to recieve"? Logic and integrity would lead one to believe it is most blessed to give everything and recieve nothing. Does any of this sound like Capitalism to you? Yet the concervatives complain about "confiscatory taxes: and violation of "rights" as though one had any moral claim to anything. Show me a Chrstian declaration of property rights. All I hear about from the preachers is "surrender" and "obedience". What need have (surrender) monkeys and slaves for a "right" to life, liberty (especially) and the pursuit of happiness (most especially)? So just how "inaliable" can such rights be in that system? Who even needs or merits a mind in that system?! But back to the topic: Consider the following. Rush Limbaugh is an avowed Christian. For years he, rightly, trashed the libs for "emotion trumps reason", more correctly, "feeling trumps reason". Then one day, out of the blue, referring to his beliefs, whihc he freely admits "can't be proved [throwing away the works of sholars for a thousand years]", he says "The libs laugh at believing what can't be proved" WTF!!?! He would be liable to charges of gross hypocrisy right there save that it was apparent in his tone of voice that he did not realizing the Death Star sized breach that he had just revealed. I said to myself "Well, somebody ought to!". How can Rush condemn Romney for buying into the climate change/gobal warming hoax which Romney says himself that he can't prove? How can he crdibly attack "fiat" money if he accepts the unprovable on a much higher level? In this battle, the man of faith (believing what can't be demonstrated or proved) is automatically disqualified for speaking out of both sides of his mouth: End of story! As a factual sidelight, noticed that most cults are leftist and religion based and strong religious attributes tend to go with being a cutlbot. There is a sad element to this. Ayn Rand observed. "Soren Kierkagaard was better than the Existentialists. He was a religious man" If she explained further it was not given, From what I can see, she held this to be so since, as such, Kierkagaard was not a Nihilist, which is a charge that has been laid at the feet of the Existentialists. Whether that is so or just the result of the belief that all the then existing systems were no antidote for the horrors of WWI, the rise of Fascism and the economic turmoil of the Depression, I cannot say but in 1957 I became aware of the rise of Nihilism among the academic "elite": The "search for answers" becoming "there are no answers and no way to find any so whatever gets you through the night is all right"

Next victim!

The left is forever caught up in the adulation of the person du jour. Chrissie Matthiews has legasms over Barack Obama. Listen to MSNBC to see how hate campaigns are done by the self-annointed apostles of love, brotherhood and peace. The Left's wholesale consumption of the fashionable kool-aid of the hour is comical in its overtness and shallowness.

So what makes these persons qualified to talk about anything to do with the real world? So these persons and groups referring to Objectivism in any of its manifastations as a cult is like Tinkerbell calling Rambo a fairy. Their intellectual behavior disqualifies them as knowledgeable, rational or honest judges on the matter. To see the way those who railed against Nixon or Bush in the name of "freedom" always lining up at the trough of government like the greediest of pigs and asking for thrice more is to observe hypocrisy on the comical order and intergalactic level of "I could not make this up and keep my credibility as well as from laughing myself silly". Matthiews is sooo much Obama's bitch that "he"'s starting to be called "Chrissie"

However, that will not stop them both from trying either from dumbness or dishonesty, sensing weakness in their target (You have no idea how hard it is for me to feign that kind of weakness while my trigger finger feels like it has poison ivy). Buckley already has.

At a deeper level, there is an issue to discuss. By discrediting an attacker you deflect the thrust. A good fencer likes to "parry and riposte" this last is to deflect (parry) the opponent's blade in such a way that yours in in position to go on the attack, and is always good form. Another, more suble move is to blunt the attack in such a way that your sword is pointed right at your opponents gullet plainly and clearly for all to see, but not deliver the blow. Done that, too. It is one of the worst forms of intellectual humiliation and often suffices because everyone knows I could have but let the person off easy thus dismissing them, like a child or other inferior. That has to really suck

"Cult" has several meanings two of which are a propos here: 1. a devoted, hardcore fan base or following. and 2. an irrational, fanatical following that is mindlessly devoted.

The first casual category of "cult" is harmless and may even be good. In that sense I am a member of at least two cults. Dr. Who and the 1950's "space cadet" TV shows; specifically Sapce Patrol, but for which,I would not be a Randite. This term could fit a passionate devotee of anything. You can add to that list of my cult credentials cats, double-string plucked musical instrumetns, the "combo organs" of the 1960's, synthesizers and arms and armor

The second tends to involve doctrines and strong personalities. Implicit in it is "mind numbed robot" irrationality and self-destructiveness. Attributes are shallowness, depersonalization, alienation and demands by the cult leader for "faith".

The problem here is the image of Ayn Rand. She was a writer, celebrity and philosopher. The first two mean that she could and did attract the usual writer's cult of the first definition and she did involve herself in matters of knowledge, belief, good/evil and political doctrine. So there could easily be an Ayn Rand cult whom I have come to call "Randies" who take a few of her quotes and ideas out of context and have no understadning of the roots of those quotes and ideas. But does "cult" apply to Objectivism?

The same is true of Barack Obama: The man is Johnny Cool and would probably be a great guy to hang out with. But his ideas are what you would expect from a Harvard Law School grad and make him unprepared for the Presidency and totally ignorant of basic US political doctrines, such as Separation of Powers and the underpinnings of American capitalism. Obama as a celebrity may be well worthy of a cult, but if that infringes on his status as President or implicit American leader, that could be and has been disastrous.

To decide if something could be some other thing as well, meaning a specific item in a larger category, we must look at the attributes of both the item in question and the category and check for compatibility or incompatibility: If Tabby does not bark then we know he is not a dog and if he meows then he's either a cat or something else. If he purrs than it's a good bet that he's a cat, which locks in not being a dog. The same goes for ideas, doctrines and systems. Libertarianism sure's hell isn't going to include Naziism or Marxism. This is done in two ways: 1) similarity to a significant degree, 2) complementarity: do the recommended "virtues" fit the doctrines or psychology of the system? Now we know that fecal material is not chocolate pudding and in no significant way resembles chocolate pudding yet both are organic, brown and squishy. If you want to argue that, stop now, you do not belong here, you belong in the Home for the Terminally Discombobulated. It must also be realized that anything philosophical applies to grownups. This last applies to what was told to me by a Physics prof about a couple of students he ran into in the middle 1960's from whom he deduced that Objectivism is a cult


Any analysis or discussion has terms or premises that define and delineate based on what is true and what is relevent. Let us establsish these terms so that we know what we are and are not talking about:
  1. Writers attract a dedicated fan base that is called a cult. Ayn Rand was a writer so that is conceded but does not fall under what we are talking about here.
  2. Ditto celebrities and Rand was a college student celebrity so that too is conceded and does not fit our more specific discussion of cults
  3. It is habitual for initiates of any system, including Aristotelian philosophy to memorize the basic tenets and behave in a kind of "robotic" fashion. This is true of anything, learning to use a set of tools, learn a game or sport, play a musical instruemnt or scientific theory: Monkey See Monkey Do is a necessary early step in learning and has served me very well and I am known for my independence. It is even more so if the initiates are in the 18-21 year old range. This is not only true of philosophy but of any system. This is natural and outside the range of our discussion. Another pattern where this holds is a traumatically rapid and massive failure of a psychologically active system to satisfy the needs of a person to the point where the person abandons it. He will drift aimlessly for a while until a satisfactory system is found. In the cases of both the young and the convert, the experience is that of rebirth: "Born again" or "rebirth in the spirit" or a dozen other names. I've both been there and have an advanced degree in Psychology and therefore know the area by virtue of the work it took to get that. There is nothing mystical, supernatural, ghostly or ethereal about it. It just feels that way. Let me tell you, If you have never experienced it. You've been cheated out of one of the most powerfully ennobling experiences you could ever have. But there is no magic here: Nor cults
  4. There will always be persons who aren't quite right in the head or don't have their heads screwed on right and these will find some part of any system to attach themselves to. This is however for motivations other than the intent of the system. That this can and probably has, happened with Objectivism is conceded. You can tell when this is the case by the fact that the person behaves inconsistently with respect to the tenets of that system. This is unpredictable: Ayn Rand loved Charlie's Angels which I found to be OK but very ordinary. She hated Man from UNCLE for ideological and some aesthetc fine points. I loved it for it's futuristic look and feel and found it exotic. Both of these reactions are perfectly within the proper scope of Objectivism
  5. There are those who wish to cash in on the intellectual value of Objectivism by claiming it as the base of their systme. This is not a cult: It is a scam. The usual tip-off is that they use Egoism out of context or mis- or undefined. Glen Beck spaeds half his time telling persons to "be like John Galt" and the other half saying "Turn to God" This is theft!


DESCRIPTION: "Mine isa philosophy for living on earth with happiness as Man's proper goal and Reason as his sole guide to knowledge"-Ayn Rnad; 1959
DEFINITION: The philosophy, propounded by Ayn Rand, which holds that the world exists apart from and before anyone's knowledge, data, ideas, thoughts, wishes or feelings and the ONLY means to know this world is by the faculty of Reason via the process of logic, meaning that factual premises and valid reasoning yield true conclusions. This is What 40+ years has led me to conclude. The only definition given by the main line of Objectivists is "The philosophy of Ayn Rand". I find it insufficient by reason of being an "ostensive" or "pointing" (or operational) definition. telling me where to look. However that identifies no salient characteristics of the philosophy at the level beyond a 9 year old's mentality.
FAMILY: Aristotelian
CONTENT: What I take to be the basic tenets of Randite philosophy based on Rand's specific statements

Rand was very vocal and explicit about these. All that I am adding is material to amplify gotten from reading her material in depth.

OTHER: Atheistic; Absolutist principles based; Individualistic with persons being held responsible for their actions within the context of mental health and freedon of action (the absence of force, coercion or fraud, and bounded by reasonable expectations).

Our concepts involving cults as we use the term here come from three major sources. Jounestown, the "deprogramming" work by Ted Patrick and Heaven's Gate; the "Hale-Bop" cult. There are other, minor sources, such as "hippi communes" and the like, but they are pretty much in line with the resutls from the big three. The first and last ended in mass suicides the second involves bringing those who have been identified as cult members out of that state. Also notice that these are also known as "mind control cults" and this is the point of our discussion.

The two major cult phenomena that stand out. Jonestown and Heaven's Gete both had religious connotations. and both Biblical in origin: Specifically that the "soul" can be separated from the body and still survive, which is a belief of all Biblical and "Judeo-xxx" religions. Both were communal in nautre wiht Jonestown being overtly leftist. MOst clearly identified cults tend to be communal with the individual made subordinate to the group. Until the psycnologically damaging and sometimes fatal aspects of this were made clear. This was a part of the "hippie commune". One thing that has been noted is that those with a strong religious background are easy prey to cult leaders.

Another property of cutls is that the general cult member tends to be young; late teens to mid-twneties.

Another characteristic of cults is the us vs the world dichotomy, in the sense that "we're all right, the world's all wrong". This is a belief that the world per se is evil, which is a tenet of religion. The result is that the cultist is isolated, having been turned against family, friends and normal human associations.

All of these interact. The ideals of cultism come right out of mainstream religion, The unfinised development and inexperience of youth put them at risk for a morality versus reality conflict, the individual versus group conflict with an interesting twist: While proclaiming personal sovereignyy they fall socially and politically into the worst forms of collectivism and while claiming to advocate the development of the human mind and soul, they indulge in some of the most souless and mindless types of behaviors imaginable: The road from faith to nihilism is short and there is no speed limit. The Psychedelic credo of developing the mind to its highest potential, in the course of two years, degenerated to "If it feels good do it!", "Tune in [to drugs], Turn on [like a gerbal or other small animal], drop out [of the world]". What was supposed to be the final stage of the development of mentality collapsed into a drugged, drunken orgy with the IQ of a gnat and not as much good sense. The call for "free love" was soon followed by the call for free VD clinics and "heads" became "tails". Where would the philosophical and psychological descendent of the Rush Limbaugh who says that what he believes as a central tenet of his life cannot be supported by reason be able to go but to a Jim JOnes or Hale-Bop commune? Or to Marijuana and Marxism?

What appears to be the case is that cults are the post-1960's descendants of hippies and their communes. Note the adoption by the hippies of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, under the aegis of the Beatles, The Hare Krishna and the semi-Hindu cults/communes of the post 1975 timeframe. Note also that the oh-so-secular left has it's favorite preachers: Jackson, Sharpton, Farakhan and Wright: All of wome are race hustlers, liars, or collectivists and as strident as Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson

The Discussion

Now on the face of it Objectivism and cults are 180 degress out of phase on the essential matters of living in the world..
  1. Cults rely on belief in the supernatural; the Metaphysics of Mysticism. Notice that they appeal to traditional relgions of various kinds or some aspect thereof often dressed up in pseudo-modern tersm; e.g. the Hale-Bopp cults' reference to suicide as "exiting the vehicles [bodies]". The Randite Metaphysics is that of "Objective reality"
  2. Cults rely, implicitly or explicity on faith as the form of Epistemology. The very explicit Epistemology of Randite philosophy is Aristotelian Reason. The former demands belief without proof or demonstration; the latter is all about proof and demonstration: Factual premises and valid reasoning yield true conclusions. In discussions, unless it was blatant, Rand did not challenge anyone's reasoning but was quick to say "Check your premises". Faith, as it has evolved, implicitly and sometimes explicitly, demands unquestioning belief which runs counter to the notion of the world existing apart from and before one's assessment of it, which is the Metaphysics of Mysticism
  3. Cults see a clash between the individual and the whole and suborn and subjegate the individual to some "greater good" and in so doing set personal interest(s) and social interest(s) against each other. Because all fully objectivist philosphy is factcentered and because individuals exist de facto and groups exist as relational (common attributes of individuals). The metaphysical doctrine of the Primacy of Existence can only mean the Primacy of the Individual which means there can be no social interests apart from individual interests. The "greater good" must be derived from and reflect the individual good. The only arguments thereafter are the moral status of the interests or the wisdom in the application of the doctrines. To re-state: Cults supordinate the individual, We recognize the individual as primary to the social. For a number of reasons, chief of which is the fact that Objectivism formed during a time when collectivism was and is the greatest threat, no real Objectivist social theory has yet developed in any formal sense and to date has been left to implication. We do have a few scattered references, like the value of a division of labor and the resultant specialization and some respect for common courtesy. But there is no real social code yet that I have discerned
  4. Cults are communist and therefore redistributionist in toto. In fact. Marx's model for the perfect society was the Paris Communes of the 1840's. We support the right of the producer to live for his own ends. The only time we countenence force against others is if they pose a threat or if they use fraud.
  5. If cutls have any political or economic principles, they are leftist. Objectivism is the oppoisite. Ayn Rand identified the famous "swing to the right" first noticed in 1968 but whih she referenced as late as the middle 1970's as " a movement away from statism and towards freedom". It was Rand from whom we picked up the modern use of the word "statism" to mean both leftist and rightist tyranny.
How could cults and Objectivism be anything but at each other's throats in a life-and-death struggle? So not only is the claim that Objecivism is a "mind control cult" false on the face of it, the list of ingredients of one bears no resemblence to that of the other. If someone told you that something was lemon meringue pie and the list of ingredients was chocolate pudding and heavy cream, and the eggs and lemon were just not there, what would you say? But then the guy who started this crap believed that you could have flesh and blood made from bread and wine , not figuratively but literally just by virtue of some mumbo-jumbo: and he claimed to be an educated man! So, you know... It's what my uncle used to say; "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see".

There are questions that may come up, mostly designed to trap the unaware or to get around the above. Here are some, and the proper answer

Was not Ayn Rand the Leader of your movement?
At one time she said that "Objectivism is not an orgainzed movement". However in an issue of The Objectivist Newsletter was written "...we are the theoreticians [since that was the only authorized journal about Randite philosophy at that time]" This does contradict the first stament since it implies a division of labor and a hierarchical organization. By 1980 she had recognized at least two independent Objectivist journals. One being The Objectivist Forum and in c1978 she officially "retired" in her address at the Ford Hall Forum titled "For the Record". I can attribute the first two statements as "buck fever" which were voided by actions later on. Beyond that, all systems have leaders. Plato, Airistotle et al. Miss Rnad did not claim to be infallible or even highly intelligent; issuing several disclaimers to both. Also she acquired the position of leadership by virtue of her accomplishments elsewhere and things formed around her
Does not the official definition of your philosphy reference a person rather than an actual philosophy?
Unfortunately, that is true. I had been concerned with this since about 1978 when I became aware that the main body issued the statement that "Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand". This is what is called an "ostensive" definition. It points to where to find it. However, It lists no defining characteristics. Ostensive definitions are identified in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology as pre-conceptual, pointing definitions used mostly by children. As I said in a letter to someone around then "By 2500 If a thing is called into question. it will be valideated by tracing it back to Peikoff then to Rand rahter than by how it relates to the objective world". That is one of the reason I am independent. I do use the term Randism but I've explained that earlier and it is well within accepted practice of naming a doctrine for its founder e.g. Platonism, Aristotelianism, Thomism, Cartesian,ism. Marxism and Freudianism.
Just as with cults, and indeed as with the defining aspect of cults, Objectivism is "mind contorl" and "programming".
we do hold to "mind control" but that control is to be done by the indivdual with the goal of using his faculty of Reason as the sole tool of knowledge. Which gets back to my phrase "I do not ask to be believed. I ask to be understood, from that, belief will follow". This kind of "mind control"; of being in command of one's faculties has always been regarded as the medical minimum for sanity and the hallmark of the person of depth and a necessity to go beyond the shallow, superficial and mental teenybopper "airhead". In terms of "programming" Miss Rand raised the issue of making the process of thinking "semi-automatic" but not the content. Cults seek to make belief in the specific doctrine(S) fully automatic. That she knew what she was talking about is made clear when we talk about "habits of mind" in philosophy and psychology.
both cults and Objectivism support moral absolutes. Also; Both cults adn Objectivism are doctrinnaire
That does not refute or prove the value of moral or any absolutes. Both normal persons and cult members eat, sleep and breathe. Conclsion: to eat, sleep and breathe is to be a cult member. The cult member, like the religionist accepts his moral absolutes as givens, for the Randite, the moral abslutes are validated by Reason in the area of ethics. In fact, Objectivism is more about ethicks than morality; that is, how do I discern good from evil and implement that knowledge into behvior. As far as "doctrinaire" All systems have doctrines. The specific doctrines are part of a system's identity. But what you are really afraid of is being "labelled". Lebels, to the extent that they are correct, identify a person or thing. Would you eat the contents of an unabelled box? It is not labels that you are afraid of, but of being correctly labelled as a jerk or evil. As proof of that, the left tries to stick mor negative labels on their opponents than Heinz 57. One would be tempted to call them hypocrites if they knew what they were doing and give the lecture about glass houses and stones if one thought they had the mentality to understand or the honesty to admit openly what they are up to.
I've met some Objectivists and they act like they are reciting from memory
They probably are. This comes from a number of things

Like cults, Objectivism turns kids against their parents
As a child becomes more independent there is a natural tension between the child and parents. This is most prominent in the 18-21 year old. Look and see how a Liberal Arts major acts with respect to his/her parents if you want to see being set against your parents. If anything, Objectivism, properly used will mitigate against the hatred unless it is earned by the parent being out of line, by reason of putting the emphasis on the value or truth of a principle or idea and developing the mentality to support that, of which any sane parents would be proud in their grown offspring. The bottm line is this: There are some shared characteristics between "mind control cutls" and Objectivism. The overwhelming bulk of these are those which such cults and Objectivism share with all intellectual systems. In the case of cutls, these are superficialities that don't stand up to more than cursory examination or that have become null and void over time. There is one that has troubled me over the past three decades. The mainstream "definition". As I said, it is not an adult-level definition and it references a person rather than a set of characteristics. There are two aspects to an "ism". The ideas and the institution. An institution is a set of persons, places, things and procedures that aid int the behaviours dedicated to spreading, implementing and living by the ideas unique to that "ism". There was and still is a garden variety cult of Ayn Rand as with any cultural icon or phenomenon. There is a more than 80% overlap of that cult with institutional Objectivism. For example. My track was reading The Fountainhead then a couple of issues of the Objectivist, liking what I read, subscribing, adopting the philosphy and making it mine before I read Atlas Shrugged. Institutional Objectivists say that to be an Objectivist, you must first read the novel. This kind of overlap is dangerous where your main definition is an ostensive one that points to a person who is the proper object of a legitimate "cult". There is a strong potential that Rand will become part of the philosphy that should be reserved for the ideas. Setting persons equal to the ideas they propound is a major component of a "mind control cult". This is unresolved at this time. Barrng some drastic changes, the basic identity of Objectivism and the psychological characteristics that go with it will prevent erosion to that point and will cure the situation. The upshot of this is that this flaw will be swamped out by the other and more substantial characteristics.

In actuality, then, if you wanted to set a numerical value to the claim that Objectivism is a "mind control cult" it would be the usual 5% from random drift plus another 5% that this flaw will have an effect. Since this is tiny in terms of probabilities then the claim is false and rediculous and that's all she wrote.

If we can't spank this one right out of the park and into the middle of next week. we ought to just hang it up and go home.