Stuck in the quicksand of philosophy

The System that Wasn’t There: Ayn Rand’s Failed Philosophy (and why it matters) -Nicholas McGinnis

Unsurprisingly, the politicians and businessmen who admire Rand focus on such policy recommendations and are rather less familiar with, for instance, her grounds for rejecting the analytic-synthetic distinction. There’s a radical disconnect between the impact her political thought and the influence her metaphysics has had. Everybody who likes Rand can defend at great length a number of socio-economic theses; what very few do is discuss the metaphysical underpinnings that purportedly justify her political and social views.

Rand’s mistake was trying to create an epistemological/ontological philosophy from the ground up to justify/underpin her political/economic beliefs, when no such philosophy was necessary. One does not need to invoke deep, complicated metaphysical concepts to justify free markets, a minimalist state, and self-sufficiency. Nozick in Anarchy State and Utopia avoids the quicksand of philosophy that Rand fell into. Although there are mentions of Kant, this is in regard to ethics, not epistemology, and it does not dominate the premise of the book. Anarchy State and Utopia is mostly a political science text, not a philosophical one. Rand, as smart as she was, was in over her head in what she tried to accomplish in trying to improve on Kant’s analytic-synthetic distinction, Nietzsche’s existentialism, etc. Even Moldbug in A formalist manifesto and subsequent posts, sticks to political philosophy, which is easier than the philosophy of existence and knowledge itself. In a 2007 post idealism is not great, Moldbug departs from political philosophy, writing “An Idealist is a person who believes that universals exist independently. Specifically, in the modern sense, your Idealist believes in concepts such as Democracy, the Environment, Peace, Freedom, Human Rights, Equality, Justice, etc, etc.”

Independently of what? The answer is ‘the material world’. As someone who is more of materialist than idealist, I agree, but arguing against idealism is hell of a lot harder than arguing against democracy and social justice.