There's a confluence of experiences I'm having, which are seasoned slightly with the recent posts of Nathan on Ayn Rand and Brad Warner on folks who write to him asking him to be their "teacher."
First, I never liked Ayn Rand; I never could get past the first few pages of her agit-prop simply because I'm not much of a fiction reader, but also because the more I learned of her life the more I came to see her philosophy as a spectacular failure. If the proclaimer of a philosophy can't seem to get it to work in their own life what good is it outside of one's self?
Ayn Rand was so obsessed with the individual and the oh-so-great things that only they bring into the world that her writing never seemed to convey the gravity, splendor, and power that groups of people have. Individuals do things, for sure, but to say the individual is somehow superior to the group is to be out of whack with whether the master is holding a shippei or not.
To speak and act on behalf of another is something that seems so foreign to Rand that there's good reason I think her writings, to me, seem completely irrelevant, or orthogonal to how real people must really act in this real world. In the real world, the correct action may do more than save a cat that Nansen is holding hostage, and requires one to take risks that pale in comparison to whether or not one is producing the right turning words, or so it might seem.
To act so effectively means for us to step outside ourselves, even though we cannot know for certainty how our words and actions will be perceived. Is Brad Warner's non-teaching on-line ethical or not? It's not for me to answer, and frankly the ways in which I have to speak and act on behalf of groups of people in my own life weigh far more heavy to me than that; though I'd not be surprised if what Warner is writing/doing weighs on him.
This I know: if one is not mindful, one can fall into the mud. If one is mindful, one may still fall into the mud.
4 minutes ago