Logic of Illogic

Reprinted with permission from:

Volume III  Winter 1997  Number 3

The Logic of Illogic

by D. van Oort

No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the total sum of his knowledge.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

On numerous occasions Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D., 30-year associate of Ayn Rand before her death in 1982, economic heir to her estate and intellectual heir to her philosophy, has made an alarming and repeated series of statements concerning the so-called militias. These statements include explicit advocacy of the government arresting them "one and all," implicit advocacy of murdering them on sight, and the explicit sanction of the FBI's role in causing the deaths of innocent children in Waco, Texas, because "there was no option."

How did the world's leading proponent of Objectivism, (the philosophy that underlies The Resister's editorial positions on all philosophic issues 1) come to conclusions so horribly contradictory to it? It was easy: Dr. Peikoff held (and presumedly still holds) a single false premise. In order to continue holding a false premise he, just like anybody else, must thereafter be willing to renounce any fact which contradicts it. Similarly, he must also ignore any factually correctprinciples which contradict his false premise no matter how fundamental or derivative those principles might be.

No one is guaranteed immunity from holding false premises no matter his credentials, the philosophy he professes, the side he takes on any issue, or whether he wants that process to occur or not. The fact that bad premises drive out good premises is not within man's control. The only way to avoid it is through preventive maintenance; every man must consciously--by volition--check every premise that underlies any position he maintains. If he does not there is no telling what kind of monster he will bring into the world, or appease.) The only certainty is that he will reneg on his own consciousness. Thereafter he relinquishes control over the nature of the things he allows himself to advocate.

Dr. Peikoff's example of how bad premises drive out good premises should serve as a lesson to us all.

And according to the current information, which is sketchy and probably will be filled out substantially, [the OKC bombers were] a group of right wing--that's what they call them--paramilitary freaks that have a grudge against the federal government for a whole combination of reasons ranging from allegedly their opposition to income tax, but the thing that I hear that they are most upset about and why they picked that date is that it was the anniversary of the FBI putting an end to that Waco cult two years ago in Texas, and they consider that an outrageous act on the part of government. I want to tell you that--I'm even thinking of writing an op-ed piece on this--those people are--the ones that did this bombing and those from which they come--in my view are the essence of evil!
-- "What To Do About Crime," Q&A [Original emphasis]
You could not indiscriminately bomb babies, and elderly and so on, on the grounds of defending individual rights or freedom. This is a thoroughly collectivist act by people who have no more concept of freedom and the individual than the worst totalitarian. And the idea that the Republicans are even muttering excuses for these right-winged terrorists, which is what they are, is, I think, one of the very worst signs about the future of the country.
-- Ideas In Action, August 1995 interview

Dr. Peikoff's first bad premise was that the "militias" had bombed, or "somehow" supported the bombing, of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. He (and certain of his followers from the Ayn Rand Institute's Speakers Bureau) maintained that false premise months after even the subjectivist media had reluctantly dropped that assertion from their ochestrated anti-"militia" scare campaign (which patriots had predicted months prior to the bombing.) In the case of the media, it was never a stated premise by them or by government investigators, but a smear by implication: "Timothy McVeigh has been linked to several militia groups." That is the nature of the "information" Dr. Peikoff expected would be "filled out substantially."

Chonologically, the premise that the "militias" had bombed the Murrah Building, or aided the bombing, is Dr. Dr. Peikoff's first bad premise in the sense that it is the one at which his anti-"militia" tirade noticeably began. However, that is not the fundamental bad premise which made that tirade possible in the first place. Dr. Peikoff is 

...every man must...check every premise that underlies any position he maintains. If he does not there is no telling what kind of monster he will bring into the world, or appease

acutely aware of the ignorant and deliberate subjectivist bias of the media, but this time he was instantly and obediently ready to believe their every speculation. Worse, he had already made himself the kind of audience the propagandistic media hoped for. Because bad premises drive out good ones, he was easily led, with very little direct urging, to the first in a long string of violations of Objectivist principle: He refused to check his premises. He willfully refused to see if there was any real evidence that "militias" had participated in that terrorist atrocity as the media claimed they did; instead, something in his mind allowed him to take that premise as an axiom.

Contrast Dr. Peikoff's following statements:

In a proper society, the government is the servant of the citizens, not their ruler. Specifically, it is the agent of man's self-defense. An agent of self-defense may not initiate force against innocent men. It has a single power, one inherent in the individual's right to life: the power to use force in retaliation and only against those persons (or nations) who start its use.
-- Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pg. 363 [Original emphasis]
If you can get away with the idea that a group can organize around a stockpile of ammunition and engage in paramilitary maneuvers, and this is quote, 'constitutional and legal,' then what is the chance of having a free country where the government bars physical force?
-- Ideas In Action, August 1995 interview
When people organize private armies, that is a form of anarchism. It's no longer the government as the exclusive monopoly on the use of physical force.
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias"

By comparing Dr. Peikoff's quotes above the fundamental premise underlying the rest of his perorating--and making it possible--becomes clear. It is apackage-deal. We are quite familiar with this package-deal because it has long been promoted implicitly and explicitly by altruists and fascists who favor gun control--and now by Dr. Peikoff himself: The ability to use force is identical to the actual or explicitly threatened use of force.

That single bad premise allowed Dr. Peikoff to thereby take the implied guilt of the "militias" as axiomatic; to wit: If the ability to use force constitutes forcing, and if the "militias" are intent on ensuring that they have such ability, then they can so easily be guilty of using force that no further checking of premises is thought to be required. Thus his premise was left unchecked. As a result, Dr. Peikoff's bad premise contends that because the "militias" as a whole are intent on ensuring their ability to use force, then there are no innocent individuals among them. They are not only guilty as an axiom, they are axiomatically guilty as a collective.

Dr. Peikoff simply reacted at the reflexive and perceptual level of an animal, shrieked out his terror to alert the rest of the perceived herd, and began the stampede right into the territory of the ADL, SPLC, ATF and the FBI--organizations who share the same premise, promote the same ends, and have been given explicit sanction by some of the least conceptual among his followers.

In order to avoid such stampedes into disaster, every would-be lemming must check his premises. In doing so, we find that the ability to use force is merely the ability to use force--that 'A' is 'A,' a thing is what it is--and that every creature in the universe with a functional body has, as corollary, the ability to use force on a variety of other creatures. At all such times, the actual use of force is nothing more than a potential. As Objectivism states and Dr. Peikoff knows very well, a potential is not an actual. Furthermore, to actualize any such potential requires conscious intent: in other words, volition.

To maintain his fundamental bad premise that possessing the means of force is the same as using force, Dr. Peikoff must first renege on the Objectivist principle of checking premises. So reneging, he allows a package-deal, as such, into his consciousness. Thereafter, he believed his assessment of derivative issues to be complete, and he left himself no choice but to believe at face value a slanderous and baseless implication of "militia" guilt in a terrorist bombing. He is ready to renounce individualism in order to apply that guilt collectively. Dr.Peikoff is ready to renounce the entire concept of volition because his premise contends that was not by the freewill of criminals that the Murrah Building was bombed, rather the mere existence of people who possess some pile of matter called an "arsenal" caused the bombing.

These things are all completely contradictory to Objectivist premises, Objectivist tenets and Objectivist methodology. But if Dr. Peikoff believes in a single false premise, then to the extent and duration that he does, he leaves himself no choice in the matter. The logic of illogic demands that he either correct his premise, or compound his falsehood. He chose to compound his falsehood.

When you--when it gets to the point that citizens have their own armies and arsenals, that is the end of a free country. That's exactly what happened in the Weimar Republic: every party and group had their own armies and you happen to know which ones became more famous, most famous. It was the SA and the SS--started as paramilitary formations in the Weimar Republic.
-- What To Do About Crime, Q&A

Dr. Peikoff, wrote a very valuable book tracing the philosophic ideas that gave rise to Nazi Germany (The Ominous Parallels, reviewed in The Resister, Volume II Number 4.) He knows very well that the SS and SA had the ability to use force, and that they actually did use force. He also knows that theyinitiated force against innocent people.

As Objectivism states and Dr. Peikoff knows very well, a potential is not an actual.

The fact that the vast majority of "militia" members and gun owners have not used any kind of force, whether initiatory, retaliatory or defensive, is irrelevant to Dr. Dr. Peikoff. Willfully refusing to check his premise to see if it is consistent with reality, he simply proceeds to keep it consistent within itself--reality be damned. Thus he compounded his falsehood: If the mere ability to use force constitutes the act of forcing, then any man with that ability in peacetime must be the initiator of force.

Once good premises have been driven out of a man's consciousness by his own choice, they cannot even be discussed, and all attempts to revive them will revert immediately back to the playing field established by the bad premises that murdered them. The evidence is in Dr. Peikoff's own words below:

Dr. Peikoff: Is it proper for physical force to be concentrated in the hands of the government or not? And I say yes. Do you say yes or no to that?
Caller 2: I say no to that.
Dr. Peikoff: Well, then who do you think should have the right to initiate physical force?
Caller 2: I'm not talking about initiating physical...[interrupted]
Dr. Peikoff: Well, that's what we're talking about.
-- The Leonard Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Original emphasis]

In order to maintain an unchecked and false premise, the world's leading Objectivist has lowered himself to changing the terms of a discussion in mid-stream. Such is the logic of illogic: to conform to falsity every fact must be denied or evaded, or in either case, made irrelevant.

Caller13: You're, you're incorrect. Your, your facts...[interrupted]
Dr. Peikoff: Well, I'm giving you a philosophic assessment.
-- The Leonard Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Original emphasis]
I don't think that the--actually--the FBI even started the fire. They simply wanted to come and break down the walls, which they had every right in the world to do. But, you know, this is an argument we're never going to solve, because half the country is committed to the idea that this is an atrocity, and half to the idea, as I am, that this was valid reaction against armed maniacs. So, yeah, we're gonna debate the facts forever. The question is the philosophy. And that's what we want to talk about in this program.
-- The Leonard Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Original emphasis]

Dr. Peikoff makes no bones about holding his "philosophic" position without regard to the facts. Facts, in this instance, according to Dr. Peikoff, are completely irrelevant. Accordingly, he believes that factually-based persuasion is insufficient to solve the debate between sides already "committed to" their particular conclusion. His words are therefore an explicit confession of nothing more than the state of his own mind. Further evidence may be found in the fact that he considers consistency with his own words to be just as expendable as consistency with concrete facts. For example:

A right is a sanction to independent action; the opposite of acting by right is acting by permission.
-- Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pg 351 [Original emphasis]
But the legitimate uses define precisely the nature of weapons, and the amount, that you should be entitled to have.
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Emphasis added]
A right is a prerogative that cannot be morally infringed or alienated. Factually, criminals are possible; innocent men can be robbed or enslaved. In such cases, however, the victim's rights are still inalienable: the right remains on the side of the victim; the criminal iswrong.
-- Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pg 351 [Original emphasis]
If it's an emergency, I have no time to call the police, so I have a right to own a weapon if it's licensed...
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Emphasis added]
Caller9: ...it's the individual's right to, uh, keep and bear arms--
Dr. Peikoff: I agree with that.
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias"
...I wouldn't carry one because I'd probably shoot myself. But if someone who is trained--I think there should be tests of, you know, "Do you know how to hold this thing and fire it," etc. But if you are competent and you have some reason...
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Emphasis added]

Those alternating statements of 'A' and non-'A' simply cannot be reconciled with each other, even by Dr. Peikoff's own twisted premises. Nor did he even attempt to reconcile them. Regardless of whether his earlier written statements were mere noise to him, devoid of any meaning, his later spoken utterances were nothing but noise. Because he dispenses so easily with the need to remain consistent with his own words--or retract some of them--he can also dispense with the need to remain consistent with his (professed) philosophic mentor. For example:

A man can neither acquire new rights by joining a group nor lose the rights which he does possess.
-- Ayn Rand, Collectivized "Rights," The Virtue of Selfishness
There are many individual rights that you lose when you team up with others in a gang.
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias"

For one to maintain consistency with a bad premise it is consistency itself which becomes an enemy 

Such is the logic of illogic: to conform to falsity every fact must be denied or evaded, or in either case, made irrelevant.

to every aspect of the argument one bases on that premise. Falsehood and consistency are incompatible. If falsehood is to be maintained, consistency will be abandoned time and again.
That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...
-- The Declaration of Independence
The American con--let me just say my sentence here--the American concept was to obey the law, horrible as it is, and you agitate to get it repealed.
-- The Leonard Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias"
And if [the "militias"] love the Constitution as much as they say, they should read it first and understand its underlying philosophy.
-- The Leonard Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias"

Historical or hypothetical examples of laws which we must obey, horrible as they are, will be left as an exercise for the reader. But anybody who personally knows Dr. Peikoff is well advised--from the horse's mouth--to not trust him with your property or your life should either involve anything "illegal." He has made his intention to stand with the evil and against the good sufficiently clear that we should all believe that he intends to do just that if the law commands him to. He won't be responsible; he won't be able to help it; it won't be his fault: he will be "just following orders"--horrible as they are.

The logic of illogic may not be under any man's control, but whether he takes notice of his own participation in it most certainly is. To so blatantly, willfully, explicitly and self-righteously fail to do so is not a symptom of a man who seeks to educate and who made an honest mistake. It is a symptom of a man who admittedly seeks to obfuscate in order to perpetuate an evasion. According to Objectivism, that is "the essence of evil."

Such evil will manifest itself in any governmental policies or actions that are based on it, and now that Dr. Peikoff has fully defined the standards of clarity and consistency he believes governmental policy should operate on, he is ready to advocate that it do so. For instance:

There is nothing whatever in the Second Amendment or in the right to own a gun, there is nothing in, uh, the issue of personal self defense or hobby or target practice or animal shooting that would have justified you in having an arsenal such as they had in Waco...
-- What To Do About Crime, Q&A
I've also heard the FBI say that they're not allowed to infiltrate these paramilitary organizations until they commit a crime. I think it should be a crime to start these formations. That is an objective recourse to physical force, which any rational person has to take as a threat to the possibility of existing in peace.
-- What To Do About Crime, Q&A [Original emphasis]

Thus does Dr. Peikoff's original package-dealing of ability with use, and all of its subsequently compounded errors and evasions, enter the realm of politic. His package-deal--that ability is use--is to be delegated, in its entirety, to the government.

Neither the Second Amendment nor the first principle of Objectivist politics (no one may initiate the use of force) place any limits on the type or number of weapons citizens may own by right. According to Dr. Peikoff those are just expendable facts, and Dr. Peikoff professes to be only concerned with the philosophy. Therefore facts, such as the wording of a law, are not even considered by the same academic who continuously praises the Constitution as the rule of law. In order to maintain his package-deal, he must not only alter terms in mid-stream, he must alter or invent entire meanings of sentences whose words he leaves alone.

Therefore, his favored government is one wherein the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed--unless they own more arms than Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D, thinks they should have. It is also one wherein no one may initiate the use of force--unless the government chooses to "retaliate" against a man for the crime of owning a bad gun or one too many bullers, or knowing how (and when) to use them. Because "arsenal" is a term Dr. Peikoff uses but chooses not to define; because "arsenal" cannot be defined except by a necessarily arbitrary numerical line in the sand; because mere rehearsal of defensive tactics (ability) against an increasingly unconstitutional, coercive, and thereby doubly-illegitimate government constitutes the "initiation" (use) of force; and because the standards he sets above are not unalienable rights or rule of law, but PEACE (!), Dr. Peikoff's favored government is, in fact (rather than by his twisted premises) a government of men and not of laws--men who are to wield governmental force by the standard of obedience, not of justice. In his own words:

[The "militias"] should be infiltrated from top to bottom, we should know every one of their names, their weapons should be confiscated and they should be treated as killers, which is what they are.
-- What To Do About Crime, Q&A

From the gun owner with one too many rounds of ammunition, to the terrorists who murdered over 160 people in Oklahoma City, Dr. Dr. Peikoff's original false premise leads him to conclude that they are to be considered the same, and thus be treated the same. There is not even the pretense of justice in that, because he has allowed a single bad premise to drive out all the good premises which would define and sanction the concept of "justice."

Any government not chained to the acknowledgment of fact, not crippled by the rule of law, and not motivated by the pursuit of justice, will be nothing more than gang of murderers, and like all governments before it, will be surrounded by academic witch-doctors appeasing and rationalizing its every slaughter. Again, in Dr. Peikoff's own words:

[B]ut the thing that I hear that they are most upset about and why they picked that date is that it was the anniversary of the FBI putting an end to that Waco cult two years ago in Texas, and they consider that an outrageous act on the part of government.
-- "What To Do About Crime," Q&A [Emphasis added]
I don't want to start on the details of Waco. I--at the time, and to this day--they got what they asked for...
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias"

Now the real danger of bad premises becomes clear, and it is a PHYSICAL danger: bad premises lead to charred bodies and totalitarianism. Dr. Peikoff admits to believing the FBI played some undefined but active role in the death of people who had harmed nobody and were never formally charged with any crime--but to him, those are mere facts. And if the facts are irrelevant, then so is the search for them by investigators, so is the appeal to them by prosecutors and defenders, and so is the judgment of them by jurors. His original false premise led him to make them irrelevant in the name of "peace," a common good more important than mere facts and individual rights. Again, Dr. Peikoff:

Now, as far as Waco was concerned, I think what was done at Waco is correct. I was against the, the--the fact that these people got together with a massive armament in my opinion strips them of all their rights. Of ALL.
-- The Leonard Dr. Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Original emphasis]

Please observe the full meaning of his words. Owning an undefined (and necessarily arbitrary number) of guns or cartridges automatically grants to the government a blank check to strip you of all your rights. "Of ALL." I remind the reader that also includes your most fundamental right as a human being: your right to be free from initiated force and fraud. It also includes, but is not limited to, your rights enumerated in (not granted by) the Constitution for the purpose of keeping the government in check.

Once "the facts" are irrelevant, then so are investigators, prosecutors, defenders, jurors and all other checks, balances, restrictions and procedures set forth in the Constitution of the United States, as well as all principles set forth in the philosophy of Objectivism. Because Dr. Peikoff believes the ability to use force constitutes the actual use of force, those with "too much" ability (retired infantrymen or Special Forces solders?) may be murdered on sight with the admitted sanction of Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D.

Nazi Germany could not have, and did not, treat the Jews any worse than Dr. Peikoff advocates treating anybody who owns one cartridge too many--or whatever single final-straw item arbitrarily distinguishes a collection from "an arsenal."

The treatment he would accord you and I--not personally, mind you, but through his chosen surrogates in myriad alphabet-soup de facto standing armies--is not limited to the actual owners of an extra AR-15 receiver, but according to Dr. Peikoff, even little children must bear the consequence of their parents' friends owning one cartridge above Dr. Peikoff's undefined and arbitrary limit--a limit which did not exist in legislation at that time or since. (So much for the rule of law.) Dr. Peikoff elaborates:

Caller 14: Yes, Leonard, um, you said you felt sorry for the kids at Waco...
Dr. Peikoff: Yes.
Caller 14: ...did you feel sorry for them being killed?
Dr. Peikoff: Certainly I felt sorry for them being killed, but there was no option.
-- The Leonard Peikoff Show, "'Rightist' Militias" [Emphasis added]

It is doubtful that a more sickening statement has ever been uttered by an academic within the borders of this nation. But we can learn a valuable lesson from it: A single bad premise can bring down even the world's leading Objectivist, cause him to openly contradict himself on numerous counts, to renounce everything he has otherwise claimed to believe and ultimately to make him tell you that owning the wrong gun or one bullet too many strips you and your children of the right to live.

It is doubtful that a more sickening statement has ever been uttered by an academic within the borders of this nation.

No matter a one's credentials, no man is immune from the inexorable logic of illogic. No matter the strength of a philosophy, no man is guaranteed to adhere to it if he reneges on his own consciousness even for a single instant by refusing to check even a single little esoteric premise. This, of course, is not what Dr. Peikoff wanted us to learn. But it is what he taught us.

1. Dr. Peikoff is in no way connected to The Resister, nor is The Resister associated with any Objectivist organization.

Publication of TR has ceased. Steven Barry, the editor, has merged TR with another project. Contact him for more info.
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