Jonah Goldberg endorses a proposition by Will Wilkinson that we may judge philosophies by the trail of their dead:
Here is a good debate proposition: It ought to be less embarrassing to have been influenced by Ayn Rand than by Karl Marx.
The most powerful way to argue the affirmative is to compare the number of human beings murdered by the devotees of each. That line of attack ought to be decisive, but I’m afraid it won’t get you far with the multitude of highly-self-regarded thinkers influenced by Karl Marx.
As someone who doesn’t consider himself a Marxist, let me tell you about my new philosophy: Kill Everyone West Of The Mississippism. I made it up approximately three minutes ago, I am its only adherent, and its only tenet is that those living west of the Mississippi River (going around the globe until you reach the eastern bank of the river, so this includes everyone) must die. And die painfully.
Now, I’m pretty that that some Objectivist, somewhere, has murdered someone. No adherent to my ideology has committed a crime worse than speeding. Even then, there are questions about the radar gun. By this standard, my philosophy of glorious, indiscriminate murder is less embarrassing than Objectivism. I think Objectivism is an asinine, unworkable philosophy that has influenced fewer people than Marxism because most people grow out of susceptibility to it by age 14, but I still think it’s more respectable than my new philosophy of subsidizing heroin use by minors and killing everyone.
I await Mr. Wilkinson’s rebuttal.