“The Pajama-Boy Nietzscheans”

My recent thoughts on the state of the Objectivist movement—and thanks for my readers’ responses so far—are a call for “Independent Objectivism,” an Objectivist movement that is less focused around one central person or institution and more dispersed over a range of independent intellectuals.

In that spirit, I’m going to be recommending a few such independent Objectivists whose work I think you should check out.

Recently, I appeared on a couple of Zoom discussions hosted by Shrikant Rangnekar, who has built up a little community by way of Meetup. He hosts regular discussions there on a variety of topics, but he’s launching a new series specifically focused on Ayn Rand. Sherri and I will be participating in a meeting tonight at 9:00 PM on The Fountainhead. See the link here. That’s the warm-up for a 12-part series of Zoom Meetups on The Romantic Manifesto, which starts Saturday, November 21, at 2:30PM. I’ll be participating in all or most of these. To see more details about the events, and to attend, RSVP here.

Shrikant is an old friend of mine, and there’s a long tradition that every time he visits us, we end up having the most marvelous conversation in the car while on the way from picking him up at the train station. The Meetups I’ve done with him have felt a lot like one of those conservations. So please check it out.

I’ve also mentioned how the Substack newsletter is becoming a platform of choice for independent intellectuals, so I was very happy to see a new one started up by C. Bradley Thompson, an Objectivist professor of political science who has recently published a terrific book about the American founding, America’s Revolutionary Mind. Yes, I am planning to review this book, when I’m, er, finished reading it. Look, there’s been a pandemic and an election, so I’m a little behind on this sort of thing.

I’ve also been meaning to summarize an interesting exchange Brad has been having with the nationalist conservative intellectuals. He ventured into the lion’s den to publish a piece delightfully titled “The Rise and Fall of the Pajama-Boy Nietzscheans” at The American Mind, a publication of the Claremont Institute, which has become a rather poisonous center of illiberal nationalism. I love the way this title captures the ridiculous macho posturing of a bunch of basement-dwelling youngsters posting anonymously on the Internet. Here’s a sample from the beginning of the article.

The anti-Americanism of the radical Left is well known and long established. Its most recent and most virulent incarnation comes in the form of the New York Times‘s “1619 Project,” which claims that the founders’ principles and institutions were disingenuous in 1776 and immoral today.

Much more interesting than the ho-hum anti-Americanism of the progressive Left, though, is the rise in recent years of a rump faction of former Paleo or Tradcons, who have come out of their ideological closet and transitioned from pro- to anti-Americanism. The recent rise of the radical Right in America is distinguished from all previous forms of conservatism and libertarianism by its explicit rejection of the founders’ liberalism.

A new generation of neo-reactionary ideologues looks at contemporary America and sees nothing but moral, cultural, and political decay, which they blame on the soullessness of the founders’ Americanism. Remarkably, just like the radical Left, the radical Right condemns the philosophy of 18th-century liberalism as untrue and therefore immoral.

He has now posted that piece at his newsletter, and I recommend reading the whole thing. He follows it with responses to some of his nationalist critics.

I gather his newsletter is mostly going to focus on American history and the Founding, and I’m really looking forward to it. You should check it out.

The battle against the illiberal nationalists is one where we need all hands on deck, and Brad’s insight into the ideas of the Founders is going to be a powerful addition to the debate.

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