They Couldn’t Have Been Friends

They were too much alike. They were contenders.  Strategic Contenders.   Not contending with each other.  Their ideas were similar, and they questioned the “authorities”: where ever or whom ever, they may be. Their enemies were the same: mediocrity — the banal, the unquestioning conformity.  For they were exceptional.

Brilliant. Sui generis.

stalin-hitler

That is the problem. They couldn’t have been friends. Even though both were combating the elite Intellectual Mob Totalitarians.

And the herd majority.

They had seen it with their own eyes: the systems that demanded conformity: Nazi Germany and Soviet Union.

And there were those who fully embraced that conformity and propagated it, without thinking, because it is to their short-term advantage to travel with the herd.

Nothing is more obstinate than a fashionable consensus.
— Margaret Thatcher

They both had fled to America as emigrants. They found those in the elite establishment in their new country would not like or ignored of much of what they had to say — at least, in the beginning…

Johanna “Hannah” Arendt,  Architect Rational(14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-American political theorist. Though often described as a philosopher, she rejected that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with “man in the singular” and instead described herself as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact that “men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world.” Her works deal with the nature of power, and the subjects of politics, direct democracyauthority, and totalitarianism. [oops, A Mistake Was Made — Hannah Arendt is an Architect Rational]

Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a number of academic positions at various American universities until her death in 1975. She is best known for two works that had a major impact both within and outside the academic community. The first, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, was a study of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes that generated a wide-ranging debate on the nature and historical antecedents of the totalitarian phenomenon. The second, The Human Condition, published in 1958, was an original philosophical study that investigated the fundamental categories of the vita activa (labor, work, action). In addition to these two important works, Arendt published a number of influential essays on topics such as the nature of revolution, freedom, authority, tradition and the modern age. At the time of her death in 1975, she had completed the first two volumes of her last major philosophical work, The Life of the Mind, which examined the three fundamental faculties of the vita contemplativa (thinking, willing, judging).

Ayn Rand  born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum; Mastermind Rational, (February 2 1905 – March 6, 1982) was an American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two earlier novels, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead.

In 1957, she published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.

In the beginning, literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews, and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, often by those who never read her book. Although academic interest has increased in recent decades in a few places.  On the other hand, Rand’s books continue to be widely sold and read, with over 29 million copies sold as of 2013, the bible being one of the only books to be more read.

In Russia, Rand had supported republican ideals. She was twelve at the time of the February Revolution of 1917, during which she favored Alexander Kerensky over Tsar Nicholas II.  With the subsequent October Revolution and the rule of the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin disrupted the comfortable life the family had previously enjoyed. Her father’s business was confiscated and the family displaced. They fled to the Crimean Peninsula, which was initially under control of the White Army during the Russian Civil War. She later recalled that, while in high school, she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason above any other human virtue.

Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism, and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her.

Masterminds do not feel bound by established rules and procedures, and traditional authority does not impress them, nor do slogans or catchwords. Only ideas that make sense to them are adopted; those that don’t, aren’t, no matter who thought of them. Remember, their aim is always maximum efficiency.

In their careers, Masterminds usually rise to positions of responsibility, for they work long and hard and are dedicated in their pursuit of goals, sparing neither their own time and effort nor that of their colleagues and employees. Problem-solving is highly stimulating to Masterminds, who love responding to tangled systems that require careful sorting out.

Masterminds tend to be much more definite and self-confident than other Rationals, having usually developed a very strong will. Decisions come easily to them; in fact, they can hardly rest until they have things settled and decided. But before they decide anything, they must do the research. Masterminds are highly theoretical, but they insist on looking at all available data before they embrace an idea, and they are suspicious of any statement that is based on shoddy research, or that is not checked against reality. [Please Understand Me II]

harold_laski

Rand’s philosophy is based on rational self-interest and self-responsibility – the idea that no person is any other person’s slave. Her philosophy are principled policies based on rational assessment: rationality, productiveness, honesty (in order to rationally make the best decisions we must be privy to the facts), integrity, independence, justice, and pride. Her political philosophy is in the classical liberal tradition, with that tradition’s emphasis upon individualism, the constitutional protection of individual rights to life, liberty, and property, and limited political and economic government.

Hanna Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Adolf Eichmann, and proffered that he was a bureaucrat. She raised the question of whether evil is radical or simply a function of thoughtlessness, a tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without a critical evaluation of the consequences of their actions and inactionThis caused a considerable controversy and even animosity toward Arendt in the Jewish community. Her friend Gershom Scholem, a major scholar of Jewish mysticism, broke off relations with her. Arendt was criticized by many Jewish public figures, who charged her with coldness and lack of sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust.

Arendt eventually was shown prescient with the Milgram Experiment results.   Milgram showed that “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”

Due to this lingering criticism, her book has only recently been translated into Hebrew. Arendt ended the book by writing:

Just as you [Eichmann] supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations—as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world—we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you. This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang.

“There are many ways. Here’s one. Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity. . . . Preach selflessness. Tell man that he must live for others. Tell man that altruism is the ideal. Not a single one of them has ever achieved it and not a single one ever will. His every living instinct screams against it. But don’t you see what you accomplish? Man realizes that he’s incapable of what he’s accepted as the noblest virtue — and it gives him a sense of guilt, of sin, of his own basic unworthiness” (4:14) —  Ellsworth Mockton Twohey [The Fountainhead]

“Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.” — Hanna Arendt

Other Mastermind Rationals include:  Sheryl WudunnSalman Khan,  Susan B AnthonyIssac NewtonSharon PresleyBill GatesMasha Gessen,  Ayaan Hirsi AliRosalind Franklin, and Ulysses S. Grant

10 thoughts on “They Couldn’t Have Been Friends

  1. K. Leslie May 29, 2014 / 11:20 am

    At the very least the methodology of the Milgram experiments have been largely discredited. Zimbardo’s work at Stanford might be a better example of ordinary people turned into sadistic monsters.

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    • David Keirsey May 29, 2014 / 6:17 pm

      Yes Milgram’s experiment had a great deal of problems. Ground breaking results (however flawed) are often to a degree misleading. But Arendt’s main point about Eichmann (and many bureaucrats) THEY ARE NOT SADISTIC MONSTERS. It is the results of the system that is evil, THE COGS are often just banal.

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  2. Leigh Smith May 29, 2014 / 2:35 pm

    Any Rand was no genius … I am unsubscribing from this newsletter today

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    • David Keirsey May 29, 2014 / 6:23 pm

      Whatever. You might want to look up the definition of sui generis, however.

      Like

      • Dave May 31, 2014 / 9:20 pm

        “Whatever.”!! Thanks, you made my day.

        Like

  3. Bernie Brightman June 7, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    The assertion in the title is never explained. Two INTJs cannot be friends? Or is something else meant?

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    • David Keirsey June 8, 2014 / 10:10 am

      Yes, to some degree, two Masterminds with similiar ideas would have difficultly being friends. Masterminds are natural contenders in ideas. Each prefering their own vocabulary and insights. I saw a lot of this being played out in graduate school.

      http://edgeoforder.org/hammer.html

      However, in the case of Rand and Arendt, there is an added factor of one being a “liberal” (Arendt) and other being a “libertarian” (Rand). Of course, they would not be happy with those labels, they did not like being put in a box by other people. Their political religions would make it difficult for them to see their common abhorence to self-interested political elites and the elite’s banal self-interested political-economic cogs.

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