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Brandon Cropper Is Not an Objectivist

Brandon Cropper has recently gotten attention as an active Objectivist YouTuber. I don't think he's an Objectivist. I've typed in what he said to Rucka Rucka Ali about biological determinism. FYI the Objectivist view is, in short, the blank slate view.

There may be minor transcription errors and I left out some filler words and false starts. Starting at 5:40, Cropper says:

If there is at least a little bit of wiggle room there to say that genes have something to do with it, or are innate something, we can't say innate knowledge, we're not allowed to, somebody will come spank our hand. But as Objectivists we have these certain things we have to not say like "innate knowledge". But what is it? It's an innate tendency for men as opposed to women to be more aggressive? Or is it just in the nature of males as such that physical violence is part of their domain and therefore they have the predisposition for it or something? However we say it, there it is, 97% of murderers are men. How are we going to say it though?

The idea that males are innately or genetically predisposed to violence is incompatible with Ayn Rand's philosophy which clearly and directly states otherwise, and argues its case.

But what stands out to me more is that he's intentionally trying to avoid saying what he thinks. He thinks Objectivism is wrong about this, but he still wants to be an Objectivist anyway – I guess he likes other parts of Objectivism. OK but he believes the way to remain an Objectivist (or at least to avoid complaints from the YouTube audience he's pandering to like Gail Wynand pandered?) is by obeying speech restrictions – just never say anything that Objectivism disapproves of. That is totally contrary to the Objectivist spirit of free thought, inquiry and judgment. Objectivism has never tried to silence people who disagree with it. It's disturbing for a person trying to teach and lead Objectivism to view it like a religion that prohibits profanity rather than as a rational philosophy.


Elliot Temple on August 28, 2019

Comments (8)

Ayn Rand on man having a "tendency" to evil

> The idea that males are innately or genetically are predisposed to violence is incompatible with Ayn Rand's philosophy which clearly and directly states otherwise, and argues its case.

Yeah. For example, in Atlas Shrugged, Galt says:

> Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a “tendency” to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.


Alisa at 8:09 AM on August 29, 2019 | #13403 | reply | quote

Brandon Cropper The Pandering Popularizer

(I’ve only watched a little Cropper.)

Cropper is very accepting. Not only Objectivists but pretty much anyone right wing and anti-collectivism is on his side. This is unlike Ayn Rand or the admissions criteria for Galt’s Gulch (even Eddie wasn’t invited, tons of decent people weren’t invited).

Cropper does politics, contrary to the Objectivist view that philosophy education needs to come first. Politics gets more attention than philosophy.

Cropper says he’s a leader and can solve problems. He announces that he has *fast* answers to major problems, which don’t look that hard to him. And he includes his viewers as part of the solution. Like if they follow him, and people actually do stuff, major political progress can be made fast.

I saw him saying something about how at first he was going to read books or something but now he needs to focus his time on sorting out this political mess or maybe it was the mess with Yaron Brook and ARI being confused. He presents improving the world as something that’s going to happen any day now, not a long term project that people can make small, gradual contributions to. That isn’t fun for dumb people, they want a big impact in the short term, and they want practical results instead of just to develop better ideas and educational resources so that there can be gradual learning in the world. The viewers mostly don’t use educational resources much themselves (listening to people like Cropper, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, etc., is not like reading books and studying for real), so they certainly don’t see those educational resources as the path to improving the world. They are on YouTube instead of a longform text platform because they don’t want to think very hard, and they are not going to be very friendly to the idea that they are going to be in the 517th wave of progress (a few people think, make longform text resources, then for wave two a few more people think and help make more resources, and so on, and it takes a bunch of waves before it gets to the masses, and for a long time only the more serious people do much).

Cropper made it sound like, with his efforts, he’ll get things sorted out soon (like within 3 months maybe, and a viewer could easily think it’ll be 3 weeks because that’s enough time for Cropper to make a bunch of videos). This is unreasonable. I talk differently. I’m pretty clear that I don’t expect to have a big impact on our culture this year or next year. I have a small audience and most people are hostile to thinking. The stuff I say is not what the majority want to hear, so it helps keep my audience smaller. My message is not exciting to dumb people (one ought to be excited by philosophy ideas). That’s fine. I’m just comparing because Cropper’s rather different message is trying to attract a bigger but lower quality following. That’s similar to what Gail Wynand did.

Cropper is different than Wynand by being much smaller and less successful. He thinks he’s different in another major way: that he’s sharing the right ideas instead of pandering. But he’s a big tent guy who doesn’t understand significant parts of Objectivism like the blank slate stuff. Ayn Rand loathed the libertarians and thought Hayek and Friedman were enemies. Cropper is nothing like that. He’s sorta like “the right is all good, yay us”. He says some stuff about individual rights and free trade and small government or whatever and then plenty of non-Objectivists and non-philosophers can like that.

Cropper isn’t very good at stuff. He made dozens of videos with a webcam pointed at his computer screen instead of being able to record his screen. When I told him to screencast, he replied “This is stretching my technical skills to their limits.”. So he’s barely able to make videos at all and he’s OK with that or something, not embarrassed about his incompetence. He ought to be strong, capable and able – effective in the world – and learn skills he lacks. He should have an “I can do it” attitude instead of a “this is too hard for me” attitude. And it’s really not that hard to record a computer screen today, there are plenty of easy apps for that. And he managed to figure it out at some point. But he’s not like Francisco or Dagny in attitude or success. If he was less good at stuff than them, but trying to be good, that’d be alright, but isn’t doing his best to deal with the world similar to how they do. He can use most of their methods even if he’s less skilled and knowledgeable than them. He can say “I can do it” and then do it, even if it takes him longer than it would take them.

> Francisco could do anything he undertook, he could do it better than anyone else, and he did it without effort. There was no boasting in his manner and consciousness, no thought of comparison. His attitude was not: “I can do it better than you,” but simply: “I can do it.” What he meant by doing was doing superlatively.

The text “I can do it” is in *Atlas Shrugged* 8 different times. Here’s Dagny:

> She felt the excitement of solving problems, the insolent delight of taking up a challenge and disposing of it without effort, the eagerness to meet another, harder test. She felt, at the same time, a growing respect for the adversary, for a science that was so clean, so strict, so luminously rational. Studying mathematics, she felt, quite simply and at once: “How great that men have done this” and “How wonderful that I’m so good at it.” It was the joy of admiration and of one’s own ability, growing together. Her feeling for the railroad was the same: worship of the skill that had gone to make it, of the ingenuity of someone’s clean, reasoning mind, worship with a secret smile that said she would know how to make it better some day.

Most of this is coming from the conversation between Cropper and Rucka. The other thing I remember from watching a few Cropper videos, a few weeks ago, is that he isn’t very technical. He doesn’t have detailed knowledge of some of the subjects he tries to tackle. He’s just doesn’t know much, by my standards. He’s not much of an expert. There isn’t enough depth to his knowledge. Maybe he knows a lot about some subjects, but not the ones I saw him talk about. He was trying to do some technical philosophy, I think relating to the brain and mind, and he wasn’t able to go into much detail or be very convincing.

I’ve made a lot of video content on YouTube recently and gained few new subscribers. I think the differences are notable. When streaming I do actual, serious philosophy, in depth, for hours. Cropper makes short videos, with more politics and more posturing as an Objectivist. I don’t emphasize being an Objectivist in my videos. Maybe it’d actually be good to make some Objectivist themed stuff. I could stream doing the Galt’s speech analysis that I’ve been vaguely planning to do. I could also stream organizing and editing the quotes for randquotes.com And I could get Justin to make highlight videos from the Objectivist streams and give them Objectivist titles. That seems reasonable (not pandering).


curi at 1:51 PM on August 29, 2019 | #13404 | reply | quote

Also Tew, Rucka, Cropper and others keep trying to comment on and talk about and respond to *people with larger audiences*, people who get a bunch of attention. I do that much less. I think doing it a bit is legitimate because you want to respond to the ideas that matter in our culture today. But they are getting themselves a bunch of attention by focusing way too much on minor issues like a rebuttal to some Jordan Peterson video, and they do that kind of thing routinely as a major focus. (My Jordan Peterson rebuttal material is a minor part of the content I make just like Peterson, overall, doesn't get much of my attention. And my rebuttal material was mostly just talking about psych studies and serotonin and brain science and *topics of general interest*, because the point was just to read something and share my thinking, which is why the ratio of my comments to pages read is really high, I was mostly saying my own stuff and Peterson played a relatively minor role.)


curi at 1:58 PM on August 29, 2019 | #13405 | reply | quote

Anonymous at 11:40 PM on September 9, 2019 | #13479 | reply | quote

Poor quality writing

> The idea that males are innately or genetically are predisposed to violence is incompatible with Ayn Rand's philosophy which clearly and directly states otherwise, and argues its case.

This writing is poor. You have carelessly repeated the word "are", which makes the sentence hard to parse. The word "its" is ambiguous. You have introduced "Ayn Rand's philosophy" as a synonym for Objectivism, without any explanation or justification.

> But what stands out to me more is that he's intentionally trying to avoid saying what he thinks.

The referent for the word "he" is ambiguous unless the reader knows that Ayn Rand is female. Nothing in what you have written gives that information.

Do you agree that you have made many mistakes in just these two paragraph? What lessons might you learn from this?


Deutschian at 8:32 AM on September 14, 2019 | #13512 | reply | quote

>> The idea that males are innately or genetically are predisposed to violence is incompatible with Ayn Rand's philosophy which clearly and directly states otherwise, and argues its case.

> This writing is poor. You have carelessly repeated the word "are", which makes the sentence hard to parse.

The second "are" looks to be a typo/editing error.

> The word "its" is ambiguous.

What are the potential referents that you see for "its"?

> You have introduced "Ayn Rand's philosophy" as a synonym for Objectivism, without any explanation or justification.

curi's typical audience doesn't need explanation on that point. It is impossible to make writing entirely self-contained and explain everything.

>> But what stands out to me more is that he's intentionally trying to avoid saying what he thinks.

> The referent for the word "he" is ambiguous unless the reader knows that Ayn Rand is female. Nothing in what you have written gives that information.

The title of the piece is "Brandon Cropper Is Not an Objectivist." curi also refers to Cropper twice by name in the body of the article.

> Do you agree that you have made many mistakes in just these two paragraph? What lessons might you learn from this?

"Paragraph" should be plural, "paragraphs."


Anonymous at 8:44 AM on September 14, 2019 | #13513 | reply | quote

> The second "are" looks to be a typo/editing error.

Yes. I've deleted it.

>> Do you agree that you have made many mistakes in just these two paragraph?

No. The post wasn't trying to be a basic introduction to Objectivism that informs people about topics like whether Rand was male or female and what the meaning of the word "Objectivism" is. If someone doesn't know anything about that, they aren't the target audience, and they can look it up, skip the post, or take an interest in the main point of the post (about obeying speech restrictions as a method of adhering to a philosophy).

>> What lessons might you learn from this?

The post has other writing flaws which you didn't point out. I already knew what the quality of writing for this post was (understandable, much better than most people can write, but not my personal best). I have already considered issues like which posts I should or shouldn't do editing passes on, and why. This was a quick, informal post that I thought was much better than nothing, but did not want to put a bunch of effort into. I don't regret it. You haven't given me unexpected information, so I have no new reason to change my mind about something.


curi at 9:34 AM on September 14, 2019 | #13514 | reply | quote

> What are the potential referents that you see for "its"?

It could be referring to "Ayn Rand's philosophy" or "The idea that males are innately or genetically are predisposed to violence is incompatible with Ayn Rand's philosophy".

The latter seems more appropriate to me, but the former is the closest referent. By the way, does a philosophy argue? Or does a *philosopher* argue for a philosophy?

> curi's typical audience doesn't need explanation on that point. It is impossible to make writing entirely self-contained and explain everything.

I am not suggesting to "explain everything" and I understand that curi's typical audience will not need explanation. I am simply pointing out some implicit assumptions that I believe could easily be clarified and make the article understandable even to those who know little about Objectivism and its connection to Ayn Rand. Why introduce a synonym anyway?

> > The referent for the word "he" is ambiguous unless the reader knows that Ayn Rand is female. Nothing in what you have written gives that information.

>

> The title of the piece is "Brandon Cropper Is Not an Objectivist." curi also refers to Cropper twice by name in the body of the article.

I am not sure how this response relates to my criticism.

> "Paragraph" should be plural, "paragraphs."

I spotted that after I posted the comment, but I couldn't find any way to edit it. A typo like that doesn't seem to me to significantly harm readability or comprehensibility. Why did you think it worth mentioning?


Deutschian at 9:47 AM on September 14, 2019 | #13515 | reply | quote

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