John Allison to Step Down at Cato

 Posted by on 30 March 2015 at 2:00 pm  ARI, Objectivist Movement
Mar 302015

John Allison will retire from his position as president of the Cato Institute on April 1.

Now, one of the promises that he gave at OCON in 2012 to sell Ayn Rand Institute supporters on this radical about-face on libertarianism was that Allison would be succeeded by an Objectivist. He said, in fact, “I’ll stay a couple years at least and try to groom a good O[bjectiv]ist successor while bringing some positive change to the organization.”

As it happens, an investment banker with no known philosophic or political views — Peter Goettler — will take over as president of Cato.

Of course, I didn’t expect an Objectivist to succeed Allison, not after Allison caved so completely under pressure from libertarian intellectuals shortly after taking the job. Then, he said:

In fact, now that I have a deeper understanding about Cato, I believe almost all the name calling between libertarians and objectivists is irrational. I have come to appreciate that all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists. I respect this distinction, (although I consider anarchy to be dangerous).

Such a compromise on principles was inevitable, in my view, and why he never should have accepted the position. So, just as expected, Cato didn’t change one iota during Allison’s tenure, not even in its periodic advocacy of anarchism. It certainly didn’t change in the grand way that his most ardent defenders claimed would surely happen.

I’m so glad that these Objectivist leaders and luminaries are doing such a great job of transforming the culture. After all, if they don’t succeed, we’re toast!


  • Trent Max

    Hey, why hasn’t anyone commented here? Wait. Why hasn’t anyone commented on any of your posts at all? It must be because nobody cares what you think, right?

  • Hekatrix

    Woo, am I about 22 days late on this news. But sadly, there are a fair number of anarchists embedded in the Libertarian movement owing to its big-tent nature, despite Cato’s great work on many economic issues.

    Though Allison’s tenure is a failure due to his compromise on principle, he at least managed to found the Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives and the Center for the Study of Science, both sectors where libertarians are good.

    All the same, it was sad to see that he caved so hard at the start; it just goes to show that you can’t reform inherently flawed institutions from the inside. At least, it seems, Allison finally realized much as the heroes in Angel season 5 did, that “Nothing from Wolfram and Hart is ever free.”

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