The Demise of SoloHQ

 Posted by on 30 November 2005 at 2:25 pm  Uncategorized
Nov 302005

As of tomorrow, SoloHQ will cease to exist. (Based upon the announcement, Executive Director Joe Rowlands was pretty unhappy with the state of the site.) All in all, SoloHQ’s demise is welcome news. As I told Linz back in October, when he inquired about my unwillingness to engage in debate on SOLO:

SOLO is a pretty disturbing place, I think. It’s a welcome forum for TOC staff and supporters, die-hard worshippers of the Brandens, writers of articles horribly misrepresenting Objectivism, the fanatical haters of all things ARI, and those half-baked pseudo-Objectivists who wish to inject the philosophy with their own personal mysticism, altruism, nonjudgmentalism, and appeasement. That’s not to say that there’s not some good people contributing to SOLO. However, as with all such joint ventures between good and evil, the good elements legitimize the bad while the bad drowns out the good.

Linz then said:

SOLO is a welcome forum for ARI staff and supporters as well, if they choose to post there. Mostly they don’t. Their loss. Part of their problem is their refusal to engage anyone who disagrees with them. That’s not the way to win hearts and minds. The *articles* are *supposed* to be Objectivist, but occasionally some rubbish slips through the net. … But general posting is open to all comers, Objectivist, non-Objectivists and anti-Objectivists alike. If I become convinced they’re posting in bad faith, as with the ‘pusballs’ recently, I nuke ‘em. Overall, TOC is better represented there by virtue of ARI default. They [ARI] choose to be a secular version of Exclusive Brethren. Not my fault. Our policy is that, since we have an intellectual battle on our hands, we may as well actually engage in it.

I replied:

At least in my own case, it’s not at all a matter of any kind of refusal to debate dissenters. If that was a worry of mine, I’d be too damn scared to blog. And ARI intellectuals wouldn’t be lecturing on campuses, writing op-eds, and the like. (Frankly, the lovey-dovey folks at TOC deserve that charge more than anyone else, since they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge any substantial disagreement with their intellectual opponents!)

My choice not to post to SOLO is a matter of upholding basic standards in intellectual discussion, particularly as to what constitutes Objectivism. Never in a million years will I chime in with Bob Bidinotto, Barbara Branden, Robert Campbell, Ed Hudgins, Roger Bissell, Michael Kelly, and the like–as if we’re all good, honest, and chummy friends of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, albeit with some minor differences of opinion.

Of course, I don’t expect you to share my assessment of those people. It took much interaction, reflection, and thought, often over the course of months, to reach those judgments. Often, it meant losing friends–and that was hard. However, you should know that my refusal to engage in debate on SOLO is a direct result of my judgment that far too many regular contributors to SOLO are intellectually unserious at best and dishonestly hostile to Objectivism (and particularly Ayn Rand) at worst. That those people are not just welcome but also beloved on SOLO means that it’s not a forum that can offer me (or anyone from ARI) a fair intellectual fight. I hope that clarifies for you a bit.

Nonetheless, I must admit being a bit sad concerning the demise of SoloHQ, since I was often amused by the crazed attacks upon me regularly posted in the Forum. So, as my final tribute to SoloHQ, let me post a few of my favorites:

From Bill Dwyer:

Having just emerged from a discussion on Noodlefood, Diana Hsieh’s blog, which included an exchange with a mysterous L.S., who I suspect was Leonard Peikoff, I find myself left with an over-riding impression that refuses to go away – one that prompts me to ask, ever more seriously, “is Objectivism a cult?” The answer is: not as a philosophy, to be sure, because “a cult” refers to form rather than to content. It refers to the way in which an idea is held rather than to the idea itself. So perhaps the more precise and relevant question is: Do (many) followers of Objectivism exhibit cult-like behavior? And to that, the answer is an unqualified “Yes”! It is an answer that continues to reinforce itself on so many occasions that it can no longer be doubted or denied.

I’m not exactly surprised that Bill’s essay on Objectivism as a cult (of which the above is the first paragraph) appeared shortly after being ejected from NoodleFood for his unjust and arbitrary attacks upon Andy Bernstein.

From Glenn Fletcher, on the thread about Objectivism as a cult:

I just got back from [NoodleFood]. Does anyone know a good deprogrammer?

From Robert Davison:

SOLO wants to bring to life and to the art of living what ARI would prefer to mummify. Errors are made, yes, but errors are also corrected; and here one need not live in mortal fear that a perceived misstep will get you excommunicated. We live to learn from our mistakes, by being corrected by our peers.

Hsieh and the Randoids have a pathological fear of error. As a result, they stifle their imaginations and settle for dour, dark, and dreary lives. They remind me of ascetics scouring their every thought and deed for mistakes and flagellating themselves even when they find nothing, for having the audacity to believe they are virtuous. If you only look for trouble, trouble is all you will ever find.

From Robert Malcolm:

Yes, it is true Diana reminds me of the monk in The Name of the Rose, who was aghast at the idea of Aristotle’s comedic work be known and explored…

From my personal favorite ARI-hating crazy, Andre Zantonavitch:

Diana is a cut above the typical zombie cyborg loser of ARI. But only that. Her reasons cited above for not participating on SOLO are a mish-mash of half-baked nonsense. In the end she refuses to argue and debate here — or anywhere slightly open and honest — because she secretly knows she would lose. SOLOists and TOCers belong to the philosophical branch of Objectivism. Diana and her evil ARI cohorts belong to the religious branch of Objectivism. The intellectual divide here is wide.

Ultimately, Diana and her fellow ARIan intellectual perverts are enemies of the Western tradition and Westen liberal progress. They stand in fundamental opposition to reason, philosophy, scholarship, speculation and inquiry, intellectual discourse and dissent, Aristotle, the Enlightenment, Rand, and Objectivism.

These sadsack deviants only discuss things with themselves and those massively ignorant of Ayn Rand and Objectivsm. But when they come across SOLOists, TOCers, libertarians, Austrians, classicists, the Brandens, or anyone whatsoever with any knowledge whatsoever — they turn tail and run. Like vermin, they fear the light of day. Their claims that the totality of the widely variegated and informed critics of cult “Objectivism” are all intellectually “unserious” and dishonest” are themselves unserious and dishonest.

How sad that like Darth Vaderette, Diana recently turned to the dark side!

Andre Zantonavitch once used such over-the-top invective against ARI that Barbara Branden admonished him that he ought to reserve some terms for Osama Bin Laden and the like. He disagreed.

See what fun SoloHQ can be? Still, I’m glad that it’s closing its doors. I do worry that whatever rises from its ashes may be far worse — although that’s somewhat hard to imagine.

Update: Not to worry, Joe Rowlands’ new site “Rebirth of Reason” seems to be an exact duplicate of the old SoloHQ, including crazed attacks upon me. As I said to Linz in the comments, “if the ‘Rebirth of Reason’ consists of calling intellectual opponents names too nasty to repeat here, I wonder what’s left to irrationality.” Nonetheless, I am quite amused by the fact that people who so vociferously proclaim their low opinion of me care so much what I think about them.

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