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Re: Ayn Rand and Whittaker Chambers, Cont’d


Most everything I care to say in reply to Richard Reinsch’s most recent remarks on Ayn Rand and Whittaker Chambers, I already said in my earlier post — so I will be happy to let him have the final substantive word. But I would like to clarify my position in relation to this statement of his: “Steorts says that ideology elevated to revelation ‘is hostile to the conditions of human flourishing,’ which suggests that both are equally problematic — which is to mischaracterize each.” I think he misunderstood my meaning here, though the fault is probably mine. I was not, in the sentence in question, using “ideology” in his and Chambers’s sense, but rather in a more workaday one; I meant political or philosophical ideas or systems of any sort. I intended the sentence as a neutral description of what Chambers was worried about. If we wish to stick with the Reinsch/Chambers sense of the word, my original sentence could be edited to “Insofar as ideology is hostile to the preconditions of human flourishing, we can discuss this consequence directly and in so doing remind ourselves to avoid the danger,” and I would still endorse the rest of the paragraph.

update: I should also note that I was using the word “revelation” in a sense less literal than Reinsch’s. I meant it as Chambers does in this sentence from his Atlas Shrugged review, which appears shortly before the famous gas-chamber line: “Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked.”


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