Karl Marx vs. Ayn Rand (and Cigarettes, and Pirate Blouses)

Some thoughts from Reason contributor Will Wilkinson:

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. Fact is, commitment to some kind of socialism and fluency in the jargon of Marxism used to be mandatory for serious intellectuals. And there's something glamorous in the very idea of the intellectual. Even for those of us who came of age after 1989, Marxism, like cigarettes, remains linked by association to the idea of the intellectual, and so, like cigarettes, shares in the intellectual's glamour. I don't know if cigarettes or Marxism have killed more people, but it's pretty clear cigarettes are more actively stigmatized. Marxists, neo-Marxists, crypto-Marxists, post-Marxists, etc. have an enduring influence on intellectual fashion. So it is not only possible proudly to confess Marx's influence on one's thought, but it remains possible in some quarters to impress by doing so. It ought to be embarrassing, but it isn't. Being a bit of a Marxist is like having a closet full of pirate blouses but never having to worry.

Link via Instapundit. Katherine Mangu-Ward measured Marx vs. Rand back in April.

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  • Xeones||

    It doesn't help that she looks like the Wicked Witch of the West, there.

    MNG will be in here shortly to tell us allll about how a right-wing dude who may have read Atlas Shrugged once shot up a health club, and how that somehow counterbalances Mao, or something.

  • Joe M||

    Just ask yourself: who would you rather do? Sure, Ayn Rand would probably leave you bloody and bruised, but at least she'd be hygenic.

  • Xeones||

    True, Joe M. Plus, you KNOW Karl smells like onions.

  • Mister DNA||

    Fuck this shit. Devotees of Thomas Paine killed a shitload of people (although nowhere near as many as devotees of Marx), and I'm okay with that.

    Paine was a better writer than both of them.

  • Karl||

    Kiss me, dahlinkz.

  • Abdul||

    I don't mind people who like Karl Marx, just as long as they have to sit in a separate part of the restaurant where I can't smell them.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I actually think Ms. Rand looks rather soigné in that pic.

    As far as the whole ideology/violence thing, I like to use Valerie Solanas as an example. Yeah, she might have been left-wing/feminist or whatever, but more important than any of that, she was f'n crazy.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Fact is, commitment to some kind of socialism and fluency in the jargon of Marxism used to be mandatory for serious intellectuals."

    No - it was mandatory for pseudo intellectuals who were attempting an affectation of the real thing.

  • Fluffy||

    Unfortunately, I think Rand brought this on herself.

    First, Objectivism is much more of a closed system than Marxism. Rand attempted to define an "orthodox" position for a much broader range of issues [up to and including whether or not you should like tap dancing] than Marx; in many ways when Marx died Marxism was only half done. This allowed successive generations to call their work "Marxist" even though they did wildly disparate work. Lenin and Sartre both called themselves Marxists. If I walked around writing books about Randism-Fluffyism, Len Peikoff would sue me.

    Second, she was unwise enough to build a cult of personality right at the outset of the hyper-celebrity age. This throws her in with every two-bit fake guru and makes her look like Tony Robbins or that EST guy or [heaven forbid] L. Ron Hubbard. Peikoff doesn't make it any easier by having Objectivism be a money-making exercise that is almost exactly like Scientology but without e-meters.

    It isn't a matter of how many people Marx's ideology killed; it's a matter of class consciousness among academics. And because Rand didn't die of a heart attack the day she finished Atlas, she lived long enough to make herself look enough like L. Ron Hubbard for "intellectuals" to want nothing to do with her on a class basis. Add to that the fact that she closed her system and basically declared that no one else could contribute anything to it because the work was all done, and how would you expect there to be a vigorous Randist intellectual movement out there?

  • Stretchy||

    Are we counting only actual followers of Marx or, are we also counting those who were just murderous tyrants who hid behind the rationalization of communism to justify their crimes?

    Is there any practical difference between Soviet communism and any of the right-wing dictatorships and fascist governments they opposed?

    BTW, before you start, I'm not saying followers of Rand are right-wing fascists. Merely questioning whether we can lay that many bodies at the feet of Marx when it seems like all the Marxist nations out there have very little to do with actual Marxism.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Rand wasn't a dogmatist, but Peikoff is:

    The ultimate irony, however, is that for all of his blared commitment to What Rand Said, Peikoff can't even maintain his grasp of that. Consider a statement Ayn Rand once made to CBS correspondent Mike Wallace: "If anyone can pick a rational flaw in my philosophy, I will be delighted to acknowledge him and I will learn something from him." Got that? She did not say, "Metaphysical reality is immutable, so my philosophy is as well. The subject matter of philosophy is the same for men in all ages; as there are no new 'facts' to be discovered, so there is nothing new to be learned." She didn't say, "I've already committed myself on paper, so my position is now an authorized doctrine that remains unchanged and untouched." Nor did she state, "I reject the very idea of flaw-finding. A valid system of philosophy is an integrated whole, therefore my philosophy as presented to date is an integrated whole. To change any one part - to correct any 'flaw' - would be to destroy the philosophy in its entirety." And she didn't say, "How can you tell me what's 'wrong' in my philosophy? I alone decide what premises will lead to what conclusions." And she never said, "Look, if someone imagines that he's found a 'flaw' in my philosophy, he is free to reject my writings and go form his own viewpoint. The trademark 'Objectivist,' however, is retained by me. That's all that matters." She didn't condemn the could-be flaw-finder as an "enemy" - of either herself or reality. Finally, she did not pronounce Objectivism a "closed system." In short, Ayn Rand never held any of the premises that her "intellectual heir" attributes to her (and to the logical structure of Objectivism). Clearly, there is no way to reconcile the conviction of her statement with What Peikoff Said. Equally clear is that despite whatever title he imagines Ayn Rand had bequeathed him, Leonard Peikoff has squandered the last dime of his intellectual capital.

    FROM HERE

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    STATEMENT: "Merely questioning whether we can lay that many bodies at the feet of Marx when it seems like all the Marxist nations out there have very little to do with actual Marxism."


    RESPONSE:
    The apologists for applied "social justice" have always explained away its relationship to totalitarianism as nothing more than what we may call (after Orwell's Animal Farm) the "Napoleon scenario": the subversion of earnest revolutions by demented individuals (e.g., Stalin, Mao -- to name just two among too many). What can never be admitted is that authoritarian brutality is the not-merely-possible-but-inevitable realization of the nature of "social justice" itself.

    What is "social justice"? The theory that implies and justifies the practice of socialism. And what is "socialism"? Domination by the State. What is "socialized" is state-controlled. So what is "totalitarian" socialism other than total socialism, i.e., state control of everything? And what is that but the absence of a free market in anything, be it goods or ideas? Those who contend that a socialist government need not be totalitarian, that it can allow a free market -- independent choice, the very source of "inequality"! -- in some things (ideas) and not in others (goods -- as if, say, books were one or the other), are saying only that the socialist ethic shouldn't be applied consistently. This is nothing less than a confession of moral cowardice. It is the explanation for why, from Moscow to Managua, all the rivalries within the different socialist revolutions have been won by, not the "democratic" or "libertarian" socialists, but the totalitarians, i.e., those who don't qualify their socialism with antonyms. "Totalitarian socialism" is not a variation but a redundancy, which is why half-capitalist hypocrites will always lose out to those who have the courage of their socialist convictions. (Likewise, someone whose idea of "social justice" is a moderate welfare state is someone who's willing to tolerate far more "social injustice" than he's willing to eliminate.)

    What is "social justice"? The abolition of privacy. Its repudiation of property rights, far from being a fundamental, is merely one derivation of this basic principle. Socialism, declared Marx, advocates "the positive abolition of private property [in order to effect] the return of man himself as a social, i.e., really human, being." It is the private status of property -- meaning the privacy, not the property -- that stands in opposition to the social (i.e., "socialized," and thus "really human") nature of man. Observe that the premise holds even when we substitute x for property. If private anything denies man's social nature, then so does private everything. And it is the negation of anything and everything private -- from work to worship to even family life -- that has been the social affirmation of the socialist state.

    What is "social justice"? The opposite of capitalism. And what is "capitalism"? It is Marx's coinage (minted by his materialist dispensation) for the Western liberalism that diminished state power from absolutism to limited government; that, from John Locke to the American Founders, held that each individual has an inviolable right to his own life, liberty, and property, which government exists solely to secure. Now what would the reverse of this be but a resurrection of Oriental despotism, the reactionary increase of state power from limited government to absolutism, i.e., "totalitarianism," the absolute control of absolutely everything? And what is the opposite -- the violation -- of securing the life, liberty, and property of all men other than mass murder, mass tyranny, and mass plunder? And what is that but the point at which theory ends and history begins?

    And yet even before that point -- before the 20th century, before publication of the Manifesto itself -- there were those who did indeed make the connection between what Marxism inherently meant on paper and what it would inevitably mean in practice. In 1844, Arnold Ruge presented the abstract: "a police and slave state." And in 1872, Michael Bakunin provided the specifics:

    FULL STORY

  • Xeones||

    Yo, fuck walls of text. Somebody disable Barry's cut'n'paste option.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Yeah, I probably went over the limit, but I felt the context justified it. I'll accept a noodle-lashing w/o the colorful language.

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, the first post was very informative.

    I had pretty much laid the "closed system" issue at her feet, but Barry's post makes it look like Peikoff was much more responsible.

  • Mister DNA||

    I'll accept a noodle-lashing w/o the colorful language.



    RACIST!

  • Tomcat1066||

    Fascists!

  • Fluffy||

    I think the shorter version of Barry's second post is to say:

    As soon as someone uses the expression "social justice", they telegraph the fact that they think there is a "justice" higher than that rendered to individual human beings one at a time.

    And anyone who is not interested in doing justice - plain, old, no-modifier justice - to individual human beings is a potential mass murderer waiting to happen as soon as they have power.

  • Xeones||

    Thank you, Fluffy.

    Barry, i apologize for saying "fuck." I hadn't had my second cup of coffee yet.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Thank you, Xeones. And I'll try to remember that "brevity is the soul of wit."

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Well said, Barry and Fluffy team.

  • ||

    Marx really is the perfect recipe for an ideology to appeal to the intellectual class.

    1. It is an open system that can be applied to nearly any area of life. This allows everyone to show how smart they are and participate no matter what area interests them.

    2. It predicts the downfall of current society. This is a must for egotistical eggheads who feel that society doesn't recognize their genius.

    3. In its Leninist variety it predicts a transforming revolution lead by vanguard intellectual elite. If that is not designed to appeal to clove smoking dorm room philosophers in black sweaters nothing is.

    4. It says that all of those who are important and influential and rich in capitalist society are the problem to be replaced by a new man with a higher form of consciousness. That again appeals to intellectuals in the English Departments raging at the job prospects of the business and engineering majors.

    5. It is a utopian ideology. It appeals to people who have not spent much time out of a library or experienced the world as it actually is. It celebrates the common man. But it also involves bringing up the consciousness of the lower beings to a higher level, which of course its adherents have already achieved. It is a perfect system to claim to be both caring, common and elitist all at the

    Marxism will always be the opium of the intellectuals. It has too much appeal to their vanity and petty grievances not to be.

  • ||

    If we're judging people and the rightness of their arguments based on the number of people killed by their devotees, there's the dude named Jesus that's in major need of being reassessed.

  • *||

    It ought to be less embarrassing to have been influenced by Ayn Rand than by Karl Marx.

    Will's premise assumes that one should be embarrassed for having been influenced by Ayn Rand.

    The most powerful way to argue the affirmative is to compare the number of human beings murdered by the devotees of each.

    I've read some pretty offensive things on H&R, but few compare with this. A new low. Shame.

  • T||

    I've read some pretty offensive things on H&R, but few compare with this. A new low. Shame.

    Haven't been reading the torture threads, then, have you?

  • ||

    I've read some pretty offensive things on H&R, but few compare with this. A new low. Shame.

    Oh yes. It's very rude to point out to authoritarians that the shoulders they are standing on happen to be be from bodies stacked so high that you could reach low-earth orbit.

    How dare they!? Good day to you, sir. I said GOOO DAY!

  • Fluffy||

    Will's premise assumes that one should be embarrassed for having been influenced by Ayn Rand.

    Actually, I think Will's premise is people who are followers of neither think that being influenced by Rand should be embarassing.

    And I think that's indisputably true. In the middlebrow mind, being influenced by Marx may make you dangerous, but it doesn't make you a joke. But being influenced by Rand, to the middlebrow mind, does make you a joke. That's all Will is saying.

    Now, one response to that could of course be to say Who Gives A Shit? And perhaps that is the appropriate response. But another response can be to say Um, Hold On A Minute Here, as Will does.

    I've read some pretty offensive things on H&R, but few compare with this. A new low. Shame.

    Why? What's offensive about this? I think you must be reading it with the opposite of its actual meaning.

  • ||

    While I don't recommend Das Kapital as a read, it is important to note that Marx did make some shrewd points about society.

    For one thing, he correctly noted that capitalism was vastly more productive than any previous economic system and had greatly increased living standards.

    For another, he did not divide society into the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, but identified five social classes, including the lumpenproletariat, which is the one that Marxist 'intellectuals' most frequently embrace.

    And finally, Marx stated that freedom of speech and freedom of the press were essential, something that Marxists of all stripes disregard.

    Where Marx falls apart is his Utopian Vision, which has been previously noted. Marx sought an "ideal society", which pursuit becomes an excuse for any atrocity.

  • ||

    Aresen,

    He also had some pretty shrewd observations about the professions such as law and the effects of the drive for the almighty dollar will have on them. He foresaw the rise of the ambulance chaser.

    In the end though, the whole system is based on transforming man into something that he isn't. Everyone has to work for the collective. Once you so much as plant a tomato plant in your backyard and sell the product to your neighbor, you have become a capitalist. Since people won't transform and inevitably go back to their old capitalist ways, you end up having to oppress the hell out of them and eventually kill them. That is why communism has always been and will always be synonymous with totalitarianism.

  • ||

    Will's premise assumes that one should be embarrassed for having been influenced by Ayn Rand.

    Err, no. Will's premise is that many people think that you should be embarrassed for being influenced by Ayn Rand, but do not think you should be embarrassed for being influenced by Karl Marx. And that this is nuts.

    I think that's shorter Fluffy.

    Aresen makes some good points. Much of the descriptive Marx isn't bad at all. Its the prescriptive Marx that has led to horrifying consequences.

  • *||

    Ah, I see. Wilkinson's convoluted prose both praises and bitch-slaps Rand. I think. It's the sort of backhanded approach to Rand that I've come to expect on this site, so no new surprises. Here's a pertinent contribution from the lady herself:

    If you have accepted the Marxist doctrine that capitalism leads to wars, read Professor Ekirch's account of how Woodrow Wilson, the "liberal" reformer, pushed the United States into World War I. "He seemed to feel that the United States had a mission to spread its institutions - which he conceived as liberal and democratic - to the more benighted areas of the world." It was not the "selfish capitalists," or the "tycoons of big business," or the "greedy munitions-makers" who helped Wilson to whip up a reluctant, peace-loving nation into the hysteria of a military crusade - it was the altruistic "liberals" of the magazine The New Republic ...

    Observe the link between statism and militarism in the intellectual history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Just as the destruction of capitalism and the rise of the totalitarian state were not caused by business or labor or any economic interests, but by the dominant statist ideology of the intellectuals - so the resurgence of the doctrine of military conquest and armed crusades for political "ideals" were the product of the same intellectuals' belief that "the good" is to be achieved by force.

  • Seward||

    One of Marx's greatest errors was adopting the labor theory of value. I think a cascade of errors follows from that.

  • ||

    *

    My roommate from college went to grad school with Wilkinson. It is my understanding the Wilkinson is a dedicated objectivist.

    The Randians will tolerate no criticism of the One will they?

  • ||

    "Where Marx falls apart is his Utopian Vision, which has been previously noted. Marx sought an "ideal society", which pursuit becomes an excuse for any atrocity."

    Once the end is paradise, any means are justified.

  • ||

    this is one of the most retarded ideas i've ever read here.

    hey know what we should try next? see how many people have been killed by devotees of jesus. vs mohammed. yeah those muslims are pretty active here but the jesusites had a helluva head start! i wonder who wins!

    one of the main problems with people who think they have a good idea to compare things is they ignore the most important point: ratios. if there are faaar more marxists out there, then there will necessarily be far more of whatever you're looking at. i don't know the numbers, but this is an incredibly naive concept.

  • ||

    "He seemed to feel that the United States had a mission to spread its institutions - which he conceived as liberal and democratic - to the more benighted areas of the world."

    huh. sounds like bush too. i guess that means he was a marxist...?

  • ||

    "this is one of the most retarded ideas i've ever read here."

    Only if you have no idea what he is saying. The fact is that Marxism, despite being less than tw centuries old, has resulted in oppression and death of millions every single time it's adherents have been allowed to have power. That is something that ought to be embarassing to anyone claiming to be a Marxist.

    Yes, every religion has resulted in deaths. But religion has also resulted in a lot of good to. There seems to be nothing on the positive side to counter balance the millions of deaths attributable to Marxists.

  • Fluffy||

    this is one of the most retarded ideas i've ever read here.

    So you're saying that it's "retarded" to attempt to gauge the worth of a work of political philosophy by observing whether or not political leaders using that work as a guide end up murdering and starving millions of people?

    Wow, you are SO right. How silly of us to think that maybe we might want to look at this RETARDED statistic.

  • ||

    DMF,

    If the millions of dead under Mao and Stalin don't make it embarassing to be a Marxist, then I guess the millions of dead under fascism does not make it embarassing to be a Nazi.

  • ||

    It's a lot easier to critique an economic system than to come up with one out of whole cloth. One problem that's central to Marx's failure is that his critique of capitalism was based on historical examples (though he lacked foresight on many ways that capitalism would change), while his proposals for communism were really just one big hypothesis without much evidentiary support.

    The idea that the state would just disappear into a communist utopia is plan hooey, too. Especially if there's a dictatorship by anyone between a liberal state and that utopia. Nobody gives up that much power voluntarily.

    One thing that most critics of Marxism are aware of but many proponents seem to pooh-pooh is that a state shouldn't be messing with communist revolutions until it has achieved a mature capitalist economy. Of course, why a successful, truly capitalist economy would ever turn communist (or suffer a proletarian revolt) is a major question. Incidentally, whenever the "peasants" or "proletarians" revolt, they're always led by some other class, and that other class is the one that takes power. That happened in France and Russia, big time.

  • Fluffy||

    i guess that means he was a marxist...?

    No, he was just a garden variety racist-collectivist.

    He was one of the most pernicious racists to ever occupy the White House, and the signature political cause he favored was the justification of the ethnically-based nation state. Even though the United States was and is the opposite of the ethnically-based nation state, Wilson thought that blood and soil were all-important.

    Since pretty much all the 20th century blood that can't be assigned to Marx can be assigned to nationalism of one variety or another, that makes Wilson not Marx, but something almost as bad.

  • ||

    "Of course, why a successful, truly capitalist economy would ever turn communist (or suffer a proletarian revolt) is a major question."

    The modern Marist would say that those mature capitalist societies are only successful because they oppress and steal from the third world.

    But really no one believes in Marx as written anymore. It would be nice if they did. Then, the Left would at least be a coherent opponent. But, the Left seems to believe in just nonsense these days. Marx hated religion and especially hated religion as practiced in the third world. Yet, multi-culturalist who today consider themselves "Leftists" think that religion as practiced in some back corner of Pakistan is somehow authentic and worthy of preservation. It is just lunacy.

  • ||

    PL

    You're right about Marx's belief that a 'mature capitalist society' was a prerequisite for a communist revolution.

    However, note that in the era Marx was writing - the mid-nineteenth century - he perceived the Western European societies and the US as "mature capitalist societies", even though today we recognize them as being only the beginnings of capitalist society. That, coupled with the oppression following the failed revolutions of 1848-49, gave rise to Marx's perception that the social order had to be overthrown.

    As for capitalist societies going socialist, what do you think of Obamanomics?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Isn't this sort of like trying to decide whether it is more embarrassing to like Poison or Winger?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    The Randians will tolerate no criticism of the One will they?



    Says the Christian.

    Randians are perfectly willing to listen to criticisms - we are just tired of listening to Whittaker Chambers-esque criticisms that derive from never actually reading what the woman wrote.

  • ||

    "The modern Marist would say that those mature capitalist societies are only successful because they oppress and steal from the third world."

    One of the grand ironies of this interpretation is that Marx heartily approved of taking resources from the third world because the "primitives" did not know how to make use of them.

  • Neu Mejican||

    On a more serious note, I think that it is idealogues who are the danger, whatever their stripe.

  • ||

    "Randians are perfectly willing to listen to criticisms - we are just tired of listening to Whittaker Chambers-esque criticisms that derive from never actually reading what the woman wrote."

    But Willkinson is a deadicated Randian and has probably read a lot more of her than you have.

  • ||

    "One of the grand ironies of this interpretation is that Marx heartily approved of taking resources from the third world because the "primitives" did not know how to make use of them."


    Like I said. No one beleives in Marx as written anymore. They just believe in nonsense. At least Marx was for the most part internally consistent. Now we have feminists argueing that Burkas are a legitimate religous expression.

  • T||

    On a more serious note, I think that it is idealogues who are the danger, whatever their stripe.

    Even us libertarians? Damn. Now I'm all paranoid again.

  • Neu Mejican||

    John,

    How do you decide between legitimate and illegitimate religious expression?

    Seriously.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    But Willkinson is a deadicated Randian and has probably read a lot more of her than you have.



    Probably more? Yes. A lot? I doubt that.

    In case you missed it, John, you are 'defending' something Wilkinson never said - that one should be "embarrassed" by being influenced by Rand.

    If "*" is reading that into that, well, whatevs. But the fact remains that you're arguing that we cannot tolerate criticism where none (in this case) exists.

  • Neu Mejican||

    T,

    Be wary of anyone who thinks the have THE answer.

  • Neu Mejican||

    RC'z Rule sticks

    Be wary of anyone who thinks they have THE answer.

  • ||

    "John,

    How do you decide between legitimate and illegitimate religious expression?

    Seriously."

    Let's not highjack the thread for that point. My point was the same women who scream that marital sex is rape and that the U.S. is a giant patriarchy full of date rapists and mysogonists, turn right around and are either silent or support things like requireing women to wear burkas in the name of cultural sensitivity. My point was taken at its face, that is crazy.

  • Neu Mejican||

    um "strikes"...Wow... RC get outta my head!

    More coffee.

  • Neu Mejican||

    John,

    Agreed, let's not highjack the thread...particularly given that your response was a big bag of crazy...

  • ||

    AO,

    Read the thread. My comment about Randians not tolerating criticism of Rand was in responst to this post

    * | August 27, 2009, 11:17am | #

    Ah, I see. Wilkinson's convoluted prose both praises and bitch-slaps Rand. I think. It's the sort of backhanded approach to Rand that I've come to expect on this site, so no new surprises. Here's a pertinent contribution from the lady herself:


    I was pointing out that Wilkinson is a Radian and that this guy, whoever he is, is being pretty damned senstive about criticism of Rand.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Rand had nothing to say on the topic, apparently.

  • ||

    "Agreed, let's not highjack the thread...particularly given that your response was a big bag of crazy..."

    Since you apparently have nothing to say to it beyond and invective and probably are incapable of understanding it anyway, moving on would probably be a good idea on your part.

  • Neu Mejican||

    John,

    'Tis true, I often have a hard time understanding big bags of crazy.

    =/;^)

  • ||

    I'm with Neu on this one. There is a difference between beliefs and a rigid ideology. I draw the line at seriousness. Anybody who is incapable of laughing at his own beliefs, who can't guffaw at the skewer being run through his sacred ox, that's the one to watch out for.

    As a side note, some idiot with a backhoe has knock out Internet service for my half of campus. Second day of classes and no Internet. I expect rioting. I'm not going to keep posting with my phone. I have fat fingers.

  • ||

    John | August 27, 2009, 10:28am | #

    Marx really is the perfect recipe for an ideology to appeal to the intellectual class.


    this couples w/ the bastard stepchild of marxism - populism. it's no coincidence -


    Pro Libertate | August 27, 2009, 11:29am | #

    I Incidentally, whenever the "peasants" or "proletarians" revolt, they're always led by some other class, and that other class is the one that takes power.

  • T||

    Be wary of anyone who thinks they have THE answer.

    "Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them."

    My all time favorite Umberto Eco quote.

  • ||

    I think Marx saw the move to socialism in the 1800s as inadequate in the eyes of the proletariat. In other words, once they got, say, social security, they'd demand more until the revolution occurred.

    One great failure of Marx was in not fully appreciating that proletarian (and peasant) revolts would be co-opted by the bourgeoisie and turned into a different kind of dictatorship. Because of that, communism became just another form of totalitarianism, which few of the working or middle class are interested in establishing.

    His other great failure was in not really understanding the capacity of capitalist economies to create and distribute vast amounts of wealth. Relatively well-off people tend not to revolt.

    Unfortunately for us, many people since his time have adopted the age-old tradition of pretending to be populists in order to get in and maintain power. So we get bits and pieces of socialism introduced into our system over the years so that so-called populists can keep calling the shots.

  • ||

    Shoot, I laugh at libertarians all the time.

  • ||

    RC'z Rule sticks

    Be wary of anyone who thinks they have THE answer.


    There's the nugget of a new Iron Law in there. Perhaps:

    Anyone who thinks he has the answer to every problem, is the problem.

    I draw the line at seriousness. Anybody who is incapable of laughing at his own beliefs, who can't guffaw at the skewer being run through his sacred ox, that's the one to watch out for.

    So true. Some time ago, shortly before yet another of my, ahem, accelerated exits from a law firm, I told a partner who didn't appreciate my sense of humor:

    "I am always serious, but I'm hardly ever solemn."

  • Neu Mejican||

    T,

    ECO! A great thinker.
    A good book on the topic is The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

  • Tony||

    This isn't a very scientific approach. I think it's quite difficult establishing a causal relationship between economic ideologies and body counts. After all, the defining factor here is brutal authoritarianism, not what economic model is adopted. Conflating socialism with totalitarian mass murder of an age when socialism was the dominant economic trend is like saying the presence of trains causes mass murders. After all, all the murdering dictatorships had trains, and some employed them to brutal effect. The fact that plenty of countries have socialized/mixed economies and trains and haven't descended into totalitarian genocide should be enough to make us recognize that the problem isn't with the economic model applied, or the presence of trains, but with totalitarianism itself.

    Neither Marx nor Rand should be held responsible for anything done in their name that they don't sanction. They should be judged by the success of their philosophies. But Rand and Marx are hardly in the same league in terms of influence.

  • ||

    "John,

    'Tis true, I often have a hard time understanding big bags of crazy. "

    There are lots of easy answers. You could say that feminists really are concerned about women's rights in Muslim countries. You could say that cultural sensitivity is more important than women's rights and that they are making a value judgment. It is not hard. I wouldn't agree with you, but you would at least be saying something.

    Sniveling and yelling "you are crazy" is just pathetic and fortunately usually beneath the content of this board unless your name is Juanita or Tony.

  • Neu Mejican||

    John,

    I thought we had moved on.

  • ||


    Neu Mejican | August 27, 2009, 11:43am | #

    Isn't this sort of like trying to decide whether it is more embarrassing to like Poison or Winger?


    hilarious...


    Neu Mejican | August 27, 2009, 11:46am | #

    On a more serious note, I think that it is idealogues who are the danger, whatever their stripe.



    can you think of a particular threat associated w/ adherence to objectivism; i.e., tenents that would lead to the type of tragedies marxism has given us?

  • T||

    Sniveling and yelling "you are crazy" is just pathetic and fortunately usually beneath the content of this board unless your name is Juanita or Tony.

    I don't see why. As near as I can tell, all y'all are nuts. And don't think I exclude myself from that, either.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Remember, don't highjack the thread for this point? I thought that was a wise idea.

  • ||

    Everyone has an ideology of some sort, however poorly it is defined. The problem is the fanatics.

    The simplest way to detect whether someone is a fanatic is to make a joke about their core beliefs.

    If they laugh, they're not a fanatic.

  • ||

    "After all, the defining factor here is brutal authoritarianism, not what economic model is adopted. Conflating socialism with totalitarian mass murder of an age when socialism was the dominant economic trend is like saying the presence of trains causes mass murders."

    No. The defining factor is not brutal authoritarianism. There are lots of brutal authoritarians in the world. But not all of the them are murderous authoritarians of the industrial scale that Marxist ones have been. Pinochet was a brutal authoritarian but killed something on the order of 20,000 people. That wasn't even a good day for Stalin or Mao. Marxism seems to breed a certain virulent strain of murderous authoritarianism. It has happened in Europe, Asia, and Africa at different times and under different conditions. But each time the result, whether it be Russia in the 1930s, China in the 50s, Cambodia in the 70s or Zimbabwe today, Marxist rule has resulted in mass murder and starvation. That result is too wide spread and too consistent to be written off as just bad luck for Marxism or to people using Marxism as an excuse to do something they would have anyway.

    Socialism is not the dominant paradigm today. Certainly, not socialism as Marx or Lenin would have defined it.

  • ||

    "Neither Marx nor Rand should be held responsible for anything done in their name that they don't sanction. They should be judged by the success of their philosophies."

    In which case no one who claims to be a socialist or a Marxist should ever be taken seriously about anything.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Wait, I think John has identified something about central planning...it is more efficient at certain tasks (not all tasks, just certain tasks).

    Unfortunately, one of them is stifling opposition through violence.

  • Tony||

    John Rand is considered a non-entity in philosophy departments worldwide.

  • ||

    "John Rand is considered a non-entity in philosophy departments worldwide."


    So what? I have a philosophy degree and am not a Randian. That said, we would be a hell of a lot better off if Marx were considered a non-entity and people read Rand instead. And I sure as hell would not want the Philosophy Departments running anything.

  • T||

    John Rand is considered a non-entity in philosophy departments worldwide.

    As is Ayn Galt, for that matter. And Karl Engels, and Fredrick Marx, too.

  • Neu Mejican||

    ransom147,

    I think, off hand, the most dangerous is the rejection of idea that individuals have responsibilities towards others.

    Discuss.

  • Billy Beck||

    "In case you missed it, John, you are 'defending' something Wilkinson never said - that one should be 'embarrassed' by being influenced by Rand."

    Can it really be that we are now constrained to bear the tedium of pointing out the logical necessity of some degree of embarrassment by influence from Rand which is present in the plain English of Wilkinson's proposition?

    Jesus H. Christ in a chicken-basket. Are you retarded?

    Addressing the principal matter at hand: I would intend the term and concept of "influenced by" to mean my own rational endorsement and integration of another's thinking on any given matter. Example: I was "influenced by" my father's instruction on a Little League baseball infield, and that was all to the good for me. I bring this point in order to demolish all insinuations of pejorative in the term.

    As for embarrassment: I'm positively proud of what I got from Rand. What would embarrass me would be Objectivists.

  • alan||

    If we're judging people and the rightness of their arguments based on the number of people killed by their devotees, there's the dude named Jesus that's in major need of being reassessed.

    Not to dismiss this claim because there is certainly truth in it esp. when you consider the Reformation Era, but I'm reminded of a claim I have heard about the Spanish Inquisition, Death Toll 2500 over a period of 200 years. I just looked up the Wikipedia entry to see if I was remembering this correctly, and it is close (from 1560-1700 between 3,000 and 5,000 executed).

    I couldn't imagine living 240 years and not killing that many people purely by accident never mind whatever causes of supervilliany I would take up over time.

  • alan||

    Neu Mejican | August 27, 2009, 12:28pm | #
    ransom147,

    I think, off hand, the most dangerous is the rejection of idea that individuals have responsibilities towards others.

    Discuss.


    Okay, what do you owe me?

  • Neu Mejican||

    alan,

    Well, the crusades killed between 1-2 million, at least.

  • ||

    "As for embarrassment: I'm positively proud of what I got from Rand. What would embarrass me would be Objectivists."

    I agree. I think Rand was right about a lot of things. It is her followers who drive me nuts.

  • ||

    NM - what responsibility do i have to fellows? is it better to care for oneself or your neighbor first. it's like when you're on the plane, put your own mask first, then help your neighbor. not out of a feeling of responsibility; but because you want to help him?

  • ||

    i apparently have confused question marks and periods...

  • Neu Mejican||

    alan,

    Okay, what do you owe me?

    That would depend upon the context. Both rights and responsibilities are rooted in specific contexts involve interactions between individuals. Elaborate, and I may be able to respond.

    It may be awhile, I am off to work, but I will take a look later.

  • Tony||

    Let's not just dismiss the staggering levels of death inflicted on the world in the name of capitalism. Er, "spreading freedom."

  • ||

    "Tony | August 27, 2009, 12:36pm | #

    Let's not just dismiss the staggering levels of death inflicted on the world in the name of capitalism. Er, "spreading freedom.""


    really, you want to compare the misguided actions of the us in the 20th century w/ the scourge of communism?!?!? on scale?

  • alan||

    Neu Mejican | August 27, 2009, 12:33pm | #
    alan,

    Well, the crusades killed between 1-2 million, at least.


    Reformation was still bloodier, and you have to split the death toll for the Crusades between both the Christens and the Mohammedans who sparked it through their aggression towards the Byzantine Empire.

  • ||

    alan:

    i don't owe you crap. not sure what hyperbole is necessary to qualify that though...

  • Fluffy||

    Isn't this sort of like trying to decide whether it is more embarrassing to like Poison or Winger?

    Well, it would be, if followers of Rand had formed into revolutionary groups that seized control over a third of the Earth's surface and set up dictatorships that murdered tens of millions of people.

    A lot of people cry "false equivalence" at inappropriate times, to try to shout down people who are making appropriate comparisons and pointing out legitimate equivalencies.

    This is not one of those times. Neu really deserves a "False equivalence!" here.

    On a more serious note, I think that it is idealogues who are the danger, whatever their stripe.

    Ever notice how leftists do this?

    It wasn't the collectivism that made Marxist ideology murderous, you see. It was their certainty.

    So anyone who thinks they know the answer is dangerous! It doesn't matter what that answer is! So people who are certain that you should die to serve the state are exactly as dangerous as people who are certain that you should not die to serve the state! Because they're both extremist ideologues!

  • alan||

    I used the old world spelling on purpose there -- Crusades bring back some nostalgia. Firefox spell check excepted both Christens and Mohammedans yet still rejects Obama, that is weird.

  • Billy Beck||

    "I think Rand was right about a lot of things. It is her followers who drive me nuts."

    I think it was Mencken writing on Nietzsche who said that "Every startling thinker should be forgiven his first generation of followers." More & more I think that the maxim is getting a bit long in the tooth for this case, but there are enough of them left -- most notably the Ayatollah Lenny (™Tim Starr), once brilliantly described as "the guy who happened to be nearest the chair when the music stopped" -- that it'll be a right drag for the rest of my life. For one thing, they offer cover to intellectual cowards, rutabagas, and various vandals who don't have what it takes to face That Woman herself. That's a goddamned disgrace.

  • ||

    I'd like to note to the commenters and to bin Laden that the Muslims invaded Europe centuries before the Crusades. And they hemmed in the Eastern Empire. So it's tough to point to the Crusades as crazy Christian ideology, because there was shit going down way before that even got started.

    NM,

    You owe me $5,000.

  • alan||

    alan,

    Okay, what do you owe me?

    That would depend upon the context. Both rights and responsibilities are rooted in specific contexts involve interactions between individuals. Elaborate, and I may be able to respond.

    It may be awhile, I am off to work, but I will take a look later.


    Okay, so long as that is not an excuse to wiggle out of doing my lawn.

    ransom147 | August 27, 2009, 12:40pm | #
    alan:

    i don't owe you crap. not sure what hyperbole is necessary to qualify that though...


    Who the hell asked you?

  • ||

    People have the resposibility not to violate anyone else's right of self-ownership.

  • Fluffy||

    Can it really be that we are now constrained to bear the tedium of pointing out the logical necessity of some degree of embarrassment by influence from Rand which is present in the plain English of Wilkinson's proposition?

    It would only to tedious because it would be stupid.

    Saying that Wilkinson must be embarrassed to be influenced by Rand merely because he asks this question is like saying that the earliest "black pride" militants must have been embarrassed to be black because they raised the issue in the first place.

    Only an ostrich could deny that it is considered somewhat disreputable and "unserious" to acknowledge being influenced by Rand. Having observed this, even if I am the proudest Objectivist alive, it might occur to me to ask the question, "Why isn't Marx more disreputable than Rand?"

  • ||

    alan, i think you missed my point.

  • Tony||

    really, you want to compare the misguided actions of the us in the 20th century w/ the scourge of communism?!?!? on scale?



    Actually, yes. What's the moral difference between killing your own citizens on a mass scale for no just purpose and killing other countries' citizens on a mass scale for no just purpose? We can even exempt the actions taken during WWII (many of which, as Robert McNamara aptly noted would have been considered war crimes had we not won that war) and I'd bet America's body count ranks right up there.

  • ||

    "SugarFree | August 27, 2009, 12:46pm | #

    People have the resposibility not to violate anyone else's right of self-ownership."


    that's not a responsibility but a matter of self interest.

  • Tony||

    that's not a responsibility but a matter of self interest.



    Not if I have a bigger gun.

  • T||

    What's the moral difference between killing your own citizens on a mass scale for no just purpose and killing other countries' citizens on a mass scale for no just purpose?

    Which other country did we kill their citizens for no just purpose?

  • Tony||

    Which other country did we kill their citizens for no just purpose?



    This list is not exhaustive:

    Vietnam
    Iraq

  • ||

    tony, the estimates in china alone are 65 million. once you can provide anything close to that #l; i'll start adding the rest. or is your statement merely the hyperbole it sounds like?

  • ||

    Tony | August 27, 2009, 12:51pm | #

    that's not a responsibility but a matter of self interest.
    Not if I have a bigger gun.



    bs! explain?

  • alan||

    I think you missed mine.

    Since we have a bit of a stand off there, I'll make mine explicit. Neu Mejican spoke of human obligation in abstracted terms. So long as it stays abstracted from the specific context of actual people, you can rationalize anything as a proper obligation, like Tony-bots and Marx would. Once you get into a specific set of persons and circumstances, well, the actual balance sheet comes out and liability can only be accessed from the particular circumstance.

    Okay, what was your point?

  • ||

    i agree w/ you.

    he was answering my question when he spoke of human obligation. then you asked him "what do you owe me?"

    the hyperbole i was referring to was his answer.

  • ||

    Let's get down to basics: Each of us would like everyone on the planet to live their lives totally dedicated to serving our whims. Since that's unlikely, the next best option is for people to leave us the hell alone unless we're messing with them or their stuff.

  • alan||

    I spent a few years as a paralegal so I tend to view things from the perspective of tort;)

  • ||

    ransom,

    What's wrong with self-interest? It's a great motivator. Do you think that the proponents of yoking everyone to everyone else in a web of obligations in order to move resources around as they see fit aren't acting in their own self-interest?

    There are no selfless acts.

  • ||

    alan:

    i think i said "qualifiers" rather, in reference to his non-answer.

  • Jason Kuznicki||

    If I may say so, Will Wilkinson isn't nearly as committed to Objectivism as he used to be.

    Anyone who describes himself as a "Rawlsekian," which Will has done, would find it hard to be a Randian, too, especially in light of what Rand thought (fairly or not) of Rawls and Hayek.

  • ||

    SugarFree | August 27, 2009, 12:59pm | #


    what did i say against self interest?

  • alan||

    he was answering my question when he spoke of human obligation. then you asked him "what do you owe me?"

    the hyperbole i was referring to was his answer.


    My response was also meant as humor to underlie how I butted in there. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

  • ||

    Tony,

    Democratic capitalism has produced any number of the best most free places in the world to live. If I had to, I could easily live in Canada, the US, Singapore, Thailand, Australia or Western Europe.

    Marxism in contrast has resulted in death and destruction every time it has been tried.

    USSR
    The old Eastern Block
    China,
    Vietnam
    Cambodia
    North Korea
    Cuba
    Somalia in the 70s

    All those places are nighmares. Marxism when put into practice has never once resulted in even a tolerable place.

  • ||

    alan....


    ahhhhh damn i'm thick.

  • ||

    Please don't engage the troll. He will just argue in bad faith and move goalposts. He's not here to have a discussion, all he wants is to be a stupid pointless dick. Please don't help him.

    Talking to Tony is like feeding beans to a fat man already trying to fart you to death in an elevator.

  • alan||

    alan:

    i think i said "qualifiers" rather, in reference to his non-answer.


    I interpreted it to mean Neu Mejican is distracted with his own schedule today. He really is the best of the contrarians here, and definitely one of two (ELEMENOPE) whose arguments I can't just telegraph two or three posts before they are actually made.

  • Billy Beck||

    "It would only to tedious because it would be stupid."

    Hey: Wilkinson's the one who formed the proposition. Not me.

  • ||

    ransom,

    Leaving people and their stuff alone is a responsibility. It is in exact balance with the corresponding right to not be violated by other people in the same manner and degree. Of course this is self-interest. But that doesn't keep it from being a responsibility.

  • ||

    SF:

    in context yes, but it is a responsibility to you're own self interest primarily.

    i don't have to care for the rights of others to leave them alone, but i should be aware that to disregard them may be at my own peril. with that, a completely amoral individual is still capable of being "responsible".

    self interests motivate us better than responsibilities ever will is my point. i generally reject the notion of "responsibility" to others because it is the plea of statists.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "I think, off hand, the most dangerous is the rejection of idea that individuals have responsibilities towards others."

    Individuals do have responsibilties towards other - but those responibilties are all negative ones.

    There are no affirmative responsibilites or rights.

  • ||

    Gilbert:


    true enough.

    my reponsibility to others does not exist until i have incurred a debt, i.e., violated them in some manner.

  • ||

    "There seems to be nothing on the positive side to counter balance the millions of deaths attributable to Marxists."

    Gymnastics. Several of these murderous dictatorships cultivated talented gymnasts.

  • Tony||

    John,

    I suppose the fact that most of those prosperous capitalist countries on your list are ones you'd denounce as evil socialist ones in a different debate doesn't matter.

    Comparing body counts like dick sizes is kind of a silly game. Fact is America has done its share of killing, mostly in the name of or in the interest of capitalism (most especially anti-communism). Maybe not as many millions as other countries but certainly many more millions than most in recent history.

  • Tony||



    bs! explain?



    It can be in my self-interest to take your property, especially if I have a bigger gun and you can't do anything about it.

    Luckily we have people with even bigger guns (government) to stop me from doing what would otherwise be in my own self-interest.

  • ||

    Tony:

    "Luckily we have people with even bigger guns (government) to stop me from doing what would otherwise be in my own self-interest."


    no, that means it is not in you self interest. duh!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    you can be "less embarrassed" and also be "not embarrassed", so plain English it is not. In other words, if the level of embarrassment with Marx is 1 and Rand is 0, then you are "less embarrassed" and "not at all embarrassed" at the same time.

  • JB||

    Leftists jizz on themselves thinking of how many people communism has killed and could kill. They are sick fuckers.

  • ||

    Which other country did we kill their citizens for no just purpose?

    I suggest you take that up with the folks living on your nearest Indian reservation...

  • Ma Chalmers||

    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.


    Why would any rational person accept the premise that "devotees" of Ayn Rand have "murdered" anyone? It would be as pointless as arguing with strangers on the intertubes.

  • ||

    What's the moral difference between killing your own citizens on a mass scale for no just purpose and killing other countries' citizens on a mass scale for no just purpose?

    Well, the discussion here has been around numbers. So, Tony, before we get to the morality question, put a number on the table. How many people have been killed by the US in other countries for no just purpose?

  • ||

    Luckily we have people with even bigger guns (government) to stop me from doing what would otherwise be in my own self-interest.

    Tony, typically, projects a very narrow conception of self-interest here, one that disregards such classically liberal concepts as "enlightened self-interest", as well as long-term self-interest, and is too myopic to see beyond "I've got mine, what can I get of yours?"

  • Billy Beck||

    "...then you are 'less embarrassed' and 'not at all embarrassed' at the same time."

    ...at which point -- as every reasonable person knows -- it's time to post-up a completely arbitrary comparison right the fuck in front of everybody on the Reason weblog. Yes. I see it now.

    Try to understand: this is a pedantry up with which I will not put. It is the answer to my initial question.

  • ||

    R C Dean:

    so Tony uses the same rationale as a thief.

  • ||

    "I suppose the fact that most of those prosperous capitalist countries on your list are ones you'd denounce as evil socialist ones in a different debate doesn't matter."

    They are not Marxist countries. That is the debate here, Marxism versus Rand. Not Rand versus European Capitalism. Germany is a capitalist country along with all of the EU and Eastern Europe.

    Again name one place where Marxists have taken over where things haven't ended in abject tragedy?

  • ||

    America wiping out the Indians was wrong. But, it at least resulted in some positive effects. We couldn't have the country as we know it and still have the Sioux running around the plains. Does the fact that we ended up with the freest, richest country in history make it right to wipe out the Indians? No. But it does make it less wrong than the millions who were killed by Communism for the purpose of creating nightmare states. Every civilization has blood on its hands. What makes communism stand out is that there is not one positive thing to be said in its favor to in anyway justify or outweigh the blood.

  • Marxist or not?||

    For your consideration

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vm.html

  • Marxist or not? ||

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

  • ||

    Tony,
    Try the 'Black Book of Communism'.

    Estimates of people killed by communists states run up to 100 million.

    You won't even get within an order of magnitude. Even if you attribute all deaths in all US intenventions to the "capitalist" side.

  • robc||

    NM,

    Isn't this sort of like trying to decide whether it is more embarrassing to like Poison or Winger?

    I think the appropriate analogy is Winger or Rush. One is something to be embarrassed about. One isnt, but some people think it is.

    Oh, I realize I chose Rush without even considering the politics of Peart. :)

  • Fluffy||

    Why would any rational person accept the premise that "devotees" of Ayn Rand have "murdered" anyone?

    Hey, watch me compare the number of people Marxists have murdered and the number of people Randists have murdered:

    Marxists: 100,000,000
    Randists: 0

    Once again, you people claiming that Wilkinson's argument is offensive because it implies Randists have murdered people are, in a word, dopes. It does no such thing.

    ...at which point -- as every reasonable person knows -- it's time to post-up a completely arbitrary comparison right the fuck in front of everybody on the Reason weblog. Yes. I see it now.

    Try to understand: this is a pedantry up with which I will not put. It is the answer to my initial question.


    Billy, stop being a douche.

    It is absolutely beyond dispute that in the general world at large, it is considered intellectually disreputable and a sign of either an extremist or adolescent personality to be influenced by Rand. We may not like it, and we may think that this indicates the corruption of the overall intellectual climate, but it's true. And it's as true on the right as it is on the left; it's no mere hippie professor conspiracy.

    Faced with this indisputable cultural fact, we can either:

    1. Pretend it doesn't exist.
    2. Acknowledge it exists, and argue against it.

    Wilkinson picked #2 for long enough to write this column. You apparently are still stuck on #1.

  • Tony||

    Tony, typically, projects a very narrow conception of self-interest here, one that disregards such classically liberal concepts as "enlightened self-interest", as well as long-term self-interest, and is too myopic to see beyond "I've got mine, what can I get of yours?"



    In other words, if everyone were as enlightened as you we could have libertopia. Heard that one before.

  • ||

    "It is absolutely beyond dispute that in the general world at large, it is considered intellectually disreputable and a sign of either an extremist or adolescent personality to be influenced by Rand. We may not like it, and we may think that this indicates the corruption of the overall intellectual climate, but it's true. And it's as true on the right as it is on the left; it's no mere hippie professor conspiracy."

    That is very true. I am not a Randian but I will admit she was right about a lot of things. And I respect a good Randian for no other reason than it takes some balls to actually be one on an American campus. As opposed to Marxism where any fuckhead can claim to be one and be considered trendy, and thoughtful and cool.

  • Tony||

    Hazel,

    The US has killed as many people as Hitler in the 20th century alone, not including deaths associated with WWII, American casualties, and deaths during what can be deemed legitimate peacekeeping missions. We are the only country to date to use nukes on civilians. This is not counting anything that happened pre-WWII including the fact that this country wouldn't exist without a rather robust genocide of native peoples. At what point during this time were we something other than capitalist?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Tony,

    Link?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Tony, you better get the nurse to adjust your meds.

    You are off your rocker.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    including the fact that this country wouldn't exist without a rather robust genocide of native peoples.

    [citation needed]

  • Mike Laursen||

    It doesn't help that she looks like the Wicked Witch of the West, there.

    Marx looked like a slob, but they got around that by selling the more photogenic Che as the face of communism. Randoids need to get the Atlas Shrugged movie done so that Angelina Jolie can be sold as the face of Objectivism.

  • Mike Laursen||

    The most powerful way to argue the affirmative is to compare the number of human beings murdered by the devotees of each.

    As a libertarian, one must be careful about going there. If you ever want to make the "we don't have truly free markets" argument in a debate, then you're opening yourself to socialists using the "true Marxism has never been tried" argument.

    Better to keep the debate centered on Marx and Rand's appearance and personality quirks.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Will's premise assumes that one should be embarrassed for having been influenced by Ayn Rand.

    Dude, come on. She was a tad weird. And not so great of a writer.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I don't know what Rand's grave looks like, but Marx's tomb is truly creepy.

  • ||

    but Marx's tomb is truly creepy.

    Since private property doesn't exist, I'd be cool if we all took an enormous dump on it, right?

  • ||

  • ||

    I'd have preferred the irony of a mausoleum with a design based on the Parthenon.

  • ||

    Tony | August 27, 2009, 3:04pm | #

    Hazel,

    The US has killed as many people as Hitler in the 20th century alone, not including deaths associated with WWII, American casualties, and deaths during what can be deemed legitimate peacekeeping missions. We are the only country to date to use nukes on civilians. This is not counting anything that happened pre-WWII including the fact that this country wouldn't exist without a rather robust genocide of native peoples. At what point during this time were we something other than capitalist?



    Tony:

    Your argument, as usual, is laced with opinion, unsubstantiated claims, and one outright indefensible supposition. All built around one useless fact.

    This is you 3,758,458,423rd. offense. Off to the Bull Shit rehabilitation camp with you now!

    You've been H.I.T.

  • Mike Laursen||

    More laughable than creepy. It looks like a big gray Pez dispenser.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Hmm, yeah. Rand's grave is much classier.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Ayn Rand's grave, for comparison:

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=851&PIpi=76508

  • Mike Laursen||

    Oh, SugarFree beat me to it. It's kinda modernist.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    It looks like a big gray Pez dispenser.

    And if it functions then it's actually supercool, even though I wouldn't eat candy dispensed from a giant bust in a cemetery*.



    *Actually, sometimes my sweet tooth gets the best of me.

  • ||

    Anybody read Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds? Rand is exactly what I always imagined Volyova looks like.

  • ||

    It looks like a big gray Pez dispenser.

    Even if it was, you'd have to wait in line for 2 weeks to get one.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Fluffy,

    This is not one of those times. Neu really deserves a "False equivalence!" here.

    No. Not false. One of those two bands has perpetrated crimes against music that are many orders of magnitude more heinous than the other.
    ;^)

    Anybody who is incapable of laughing at his own beliefs, who can't guffaw at the skewer being run through his sacred ox, that's the one to watch out for.

    Sugarfree, watch out for Fluffy.[I kid, I kid]

    Since we have a bit of a stand off there, I'll make mine explicit. Neu Mejican spoke of human obligation in abstracted terms. So long as it stays abstracted from the specific context of actual people, you can rationalize anything as a proper obligation, like Tony-bots and Marx would. Once you get into a specific set of persons and circumstances, well, the actual balance sheet comes out and liability can only be accessed from the particular circumstance.

    Like I said above, can't assess the validity of a particular claim outside of the actual context of action. This is true for both rights and responsibilities.

    For instance, in the abstract, one could say that you have a responsibility to pull your weight in the community. Or that you have a responsibility to provide a leg-up to those less fortunate (within your means). But those abstractions only get you so far. But if you deny the existence of positive responsibilities (ala Gilbert Martin) then you are working with an incomplete system that may end up providing justification for some pretty brutal actions in specific circumstances.



  • ||


    SugarFree | August 27, 2009, 3:56pm | #

    It looks like a big gray Pez dispenser.

    Even if it was, you'd have to wait in line for 2 weeks to get one.


    hahahaha

  • ||

    One other point in Rand's favor. She actually knew the horrors of communism first hand. That gives her shall we see a bit more moral capital that well healed over indulged western morons who spout Marxist theory while enjoying the benefits of the free society they claim to hate.

  • Neu Mejican||

    alan,

    Thanks for the kind words.
    I think we are, essentially, in agreement with the issue of context as it relates to rights and responsibilities. I would bet we diverge when it comes down to the actual judgments we would make, but I think a sign of the ideologue is a belief that they have a key that fits every lock. That, imho, is the primary weakness in Rand's approach to ethics. It's been a long time since I have read her in any depth (early 80's), so it is possible that I am misrepresenting her, but the "no affirmative rights or responsibilities" thing seems like an attempt to create a universal solution/algorithm. That absolutism colors a lot of the really good points she makes.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Lunch break's over. Back to work.

    For robc/fluffy...

    Isn't this sort of like trying to decide whether it is more embarrassing to like High School Musical or Twilight?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "But if you deny the existence of positive responsibilities (ala Gilbert Martin) then you are working with an incomplete system that may end up providing justification for some pretty brutal actions in specific circumstances."

    Nope - refraining from doing something to help somebody isn't an action - it is an inaction.

  • Fluffy||

    No. Not false. One of those two bands has perpetrated crimes against music that are many orders of magnitude more heinous than the other.
    ;^)


    OK, I stand corrected then.

    I thought you had tried to choose two equally horrific bands for your example.

    But then I guess you would have said "Poison or Whitesnake" or something.

    I lump all hair bands together and that made me miss out on the subtle nuance of your statement.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Gilbert,

    Okay. If you deny the existence of positive responsibilities then you are working with an incomplete system that may end up providing justification for some pretty brutal inactions in specific circumstances.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Fluffy,

    Actually, I was trying to choose two bands that were mostly irrelevant, but for different reasons: one hugely popular, but with no talent, the other with lots of talent, but no ability to write a song worth listening to.

    Mainly I was just being a smart ass.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Now I really need to get back to work.

  • Nuh Uh||

    Fluffy | August 27, 2009, 2:43pm | #

    It is absolutely beyond dispute that in the general world at large, it is considered intellectually disreputable and a sign of either an extremist or adolescent personality to be influenced by Rand.


    When did Fluffy get appointed Spokesman for The General World At Large?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Okay. If you deny the existence of positive responsibilities then you are working with an incomplete system that may end up providing justification for some pretty brutal inactions in specific circumstances."

    Prove to me that it's an "incomplete system".

  • ||

    NM:
    it's fair to say that inaction may be a shitty stance in some cases, but that doesn't make it wrong.

    if i see you drowning and you don't throw you a line, then i am probably a worthless shitbag, but that doesn't make me a "irresponsible", unless i was the cause of your predicament or am contracted to help you.

    though i make this distinction, i would attempt to help you, not out of obligation - but out of kindness.

    to feel obligated invites free riders. next thing i know, you'll be jumping in every damned river around the county and i've got to follow you around and keep you safe. which is the society that we have now. we subsidize stupidity and carelessness; while failing to hold people "responsible" to themselves, which is their primary responsibility.

  • Eddie Willers||

    Gilbert Martin | August 27, 2009, 4:28pm | #

    [R]efraining from doing something to help somebody isn't an action - it is an inaction.


    Whew, thanks Gilbert! I didn't donate to the Salvation Army today or read any Salon articles and I was worried that someone might consider me a Rand-influenced murderer.

  • Burden of Proof||

    Prove to me that it's an "incomplete system".



    If you are claiming "it is complete," then the burden falls to you. Typically you prove the positive, not the negative.

  • ||

    Whew, thanks Gilbert! I didn't donate to the Salvation Army today...


    don't bother - charity is pointless and ineffective unless it's under duress or based on some sense of obligation (self inflicted duress).

    /sarcasm

    whatever happened to doing things for others because it feels good! (self interest too.) instead of because we're guilty schlubs who've had it too good and owe a great debt to the world?

  • ||

    if we've all got this debt to society, i propose we just call it even!

    when society requires upwards of 50% of what a man earns just so it can marginally "work" while plummeting further into debt and draining off it's future viability; i say it's broken.

  • ||

    Okay. If you deny the existence of positive responsibilities then you are working with an incomplete system that may end up providing justification for some pretty brutal inactions in specific circumstances.

    I disagree. On a literal scale, we each owe each other absolutely nothing. How could you possibly owe me anything by my mere existence? I do think, however, that's a shitty way to live.

    My own personal moral code would prohibit me from standing by and doing nothing. I'm not sure if I would risk my life for a total stranger, but I suppose it would depend on the circumstances. I've never been in that situation, so I can't comment one way or the other, but I have a tendency to not mind my own business in cases of bullying or obvious injustice.

    However, to put it perspective, I would protect my kids by any means necessary and by any magnitude if you were an actual threat to them, up to and including, putting you through a wood chipper, just to be sure the threat is neutralized.

    In the end, as already stated, we only each other the courtesy to leave each other the hell alone.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "If you are claiming "it is complete," then the burden falls to you. Typically you prove the positive, not the negative."

    He is the one claiming the existence of positive responsibilites - not me.

    If the existence of positive responsibilites cannot be proven, then only negative responsibilites exist - by default.

  • ||

    On further reflection, I would say that not killing someone, as hinted at by Neu, is not a positive right, or owing someone something. It is a negative right as in you *don't* have the right to kill me to begin with.

    I have a right to live, as do you. I have a right to eat, to shelter myself and and in general, survive. That doesn't give my the right to demand that you provide these things to me to that end.

  • ||

    JW -


    yeah, but people often try to pervert the notion of "rights come w/ responsibilities" while this is just an adage, the point is as you stated; "i have the right to eat". people always wanna put the responsibility on someone else though. i.e., that your right absolves you of the responsibility; whereas the way i see it if you want to eat, it is your responsibility to feed yourself.

    it's the trouble w/ group think

    some see man as a servant to society, rather than it's creator.

  • ||

    damn me and my insistence on putting apostrophes on possessive pronouns!!!!!!!

  • ||


    Fluffy | August 27, 2009, 2:43pm | #

    Why would any rational person accept the premise that "devotees" of Ayn Rand have "murdered" anyone?

    Hey, watch me compare the number of people Marxists have murdered and the number of people Randists have murdered:

    Marxists: 100,000,000
    Randists: 0 1



    I realize it's fictional, but I'm still gonna count the guard that Dagny gunned down outside of the place Galt was being tortured.

    Also, how about Roarke dynamiting Corlandt? Sounds like terrorism to me>

    ;P

  • Burden of Proof||

    If the existence of positive responsibilites cannot be proven, then only negative responsibilites exist - by default.



    This would not be proof that the system is complete.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Gilbert,

    The need for positive responsibilities is axiomatic.

    It stands on equal footing with your claim that only negative rights and responsibilities exist.

    You are rejecting my axiom, I am rejecting yours.

    This would be known as a stand-off.

    That said, the low hanging fruit, on this front, is child care. Adults have a positive responsibility to provide for children that flows from a positive right they have to be provided for. That responsibility, it seems to me, extends beyond the parents/family. We can elaborate on this if you wish, but all kinds of implications spin out from this positive right that children have.

  • Neu Mejican||

    ransom147,

    Nice twist on the whole "free-riders" issue, particularly since free-riders are often pointed to when criticizing the "I have no responsibilities" position.

    One could claim that you stand on the shoulders of your community and, as a result, are in debt, to a certain degree to that community. Your responsibilities flow from that debt, perhaps.

    Of course, as I said above, as long as we stay this abstract, the discussion is fairly academic. Responsibilities are specific to context. So the responsibilities that flow from one person's debt to the community are different than those that flow from someone else's.

    Or something like that.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican:

    i've got to agree w/ alan you make allot more sense than some of the other people around here whom i disagree with.

    that's the problem w/ arguing w/ a thoughtful opponent, you can go all day and just have to realize you are dealing with an irreconcilable difference. you know, me being right and you being wrong? ;)


    "Nice twist on the whole "free-riders" issue, particularly since free-riders are often pointed to when criticizing the "I have no responsibilities" position. "


    that's because people assume just carrying your own weight is not enough, when it is really the most we really can ask a man to do. that's the same as calling the guy out on the bus for only paying his own fare. (by the way i think the bus should be private.) - no cheap shots!

    as a believer in free markets, i believe a just society is one that springs from the natural profit of free association. it is to the benefit of all interested actors, not vice versa.
    we have set up a society that is centrally planned to benefit a few on the backs of the many, thus creating this so called "debt to society", because it cannot exist w/out coercive cooperation - its proponents must extol its virtues and threaten force then claim we all owe something back. this is because free men would not allow themselves to be raped of their work for the benefit of their neighbors.

    as far as debt to community, i see it as a personal values based obligation. not a moral right/wrong obligation, i.e., it's not a debt we should coercively hold people to, like the debt incurred if i take something from you.

    agreed that parents have a natural obligation to their kids, as they are the initiators of their kids situation/existence.
    that it extends beyond the family is a leap i can not make. that's why it's a good deed when you help out an orphan, but when you take care of your own kids, as chris rock would say "you wanna cookie"?

    now get back to work!

    btw - what part of NM do you live in?

  • Neu Mejican||

    ransom147,

    The Pacific Northwest part of NM?
    (from there, not currently living there).

    that it extends beyond the family is a leap i can not make. that's why it's a good deed when you help out an orphan

    This is a place where I think the negative rights only thing falls down. That orphan has a right to be cared for. If the context places that child at your doorstep, you have a responsibility to provide for it within your means. That may mean no more than finding someone who can take care of the child longer term, but if you are negligent when placed in that context (say you see a abandoned 3 year old on the street, and you are the only adult around), then you are ignoring a responsibility, not simply making a neutral choice not to help.

  • Neu Mejican||

    On a more abstract level, Gilbert's framing of the issue assumes that "inaction" is at worst neutral and only direct "actions" can cause harm.

    But "inactions" have consequences. If you consider them "decisions," it makes it more clear. A decision is always a positive action, whether you are deciding "to do/help," or deciding "not to do/help." As such, the distinction Gilbert is working with is pretty much meaningless.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Maybe it would be more accurate to say that Gilbert is implying that only direct "actions" carry moral weight.

    Hard to tell.

  • Me||

    Burden of Proof | August 27, 2009, 5:17pm | #

    Prove to me that it's an "incomplete system". If you are claiming "it is complete," then the burden falls to you. Typically you prove the positive, not the negative.


    Yeah, but prove to me that your insistence in my proving of the positive, when in fact my proving of the positive is a false positive, i.e. a negative, i.e. one can't prove a positive that is actually a negative, to wit: you're full of shit.

  • ||

    Neu,

    who is this bastard "context" and why does he not have condoms?

  • Neu Mejican||

    ranson147,

    Context, oh he's the big brother of Circumstance. They have a sister, Fate.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Yeah, but prove to me that your insistence in my proving of the positive, when in fact my proving of the positive is a false positive, i.e. a negative, i.e. one can't prove a positive that is actually a negative, to wit: you're full of shit.

    BlarraggleArrrg!
    Huh?

  • ||

    But "inactions" have consequences. If you consider them "decisions," it makes it more clear. A decision is always a positive action, whether you are deciding "to do/help," or deciding "not to do/help." As such, the distinction Gilbert is working with is pretty much meaningless.

    an outside observers inaction has no consequence, except that he did not intervene on the inevitable; thus his inaction changes nothing.
    if you tip your boat and i fail to act, it's still your fault you got wet. damnit i told you to stay out of the river!

    if the observer initiated the chain of events, his inaction only leads to the consequences his prior actions led to. again, his inaction has no effect on the outcome, however this does not absolve him of responsibility for prior actions.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ransom147,

    Like I said above, context matters. In the specific tipped-boat example you are providing, I do not see a particular responsibility as it is presented, but additional details may change things. That said, you do not have to be the cause of the problem for a responsibility to exist. Again, the orphan on your doorstep example is not one where you caused the problem, but you have a responsibility that flows from the situation. The problem comes when you try to universalize the principle to all contexts, which is my primary criticism of Rand. Life is more complex than any algorithm can handle.

    BTW, regarding the debt to community thing...I ran across this quote:

    Ben Franklin wrote: "Private property ... is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing, its contributors therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered a Benefit on the Public, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honor and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or as payment for a just Debt."

    Wasn't able to find it without the ellipsis, unfortunately. Anyone know the source document?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Oh, wait, I misread you.

    In the tipped-boat example, your inaction most certainly does have a consequence. The event unfolds differently depending upon which decision you take. The only way your inaction is non-consequential is if you are not in a position to effect the outcome in the first place.

    Really, how can you contend otherwise?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "It stands on equal footing with your claim that only negative rights and responsibilities exist.

    You are rejecting my axiom, I am rejecting yours.

    This would be known as a stand-off. "

    Wrong.

    The negative always prevails by default in the absence of proof of the affirmative.

    If you claim you have a "right" to require me to let you use my car, the burden of proof is on you to prove that.

    I don't have to prove that you don't have a right to use it.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "On a more abstract level, Gilbert's framing of the issue assumes that "inaction" is at worst neutral and only direct "actions" can cause harm.

    But "inactions" have consequences. If you consider them "decisions," it makes it more clear. A decision is always a positive action, whether you are deciding "to do/help," or deciding "not to do/help." As such, the distinction Gilbert is working with is pretty much meaningless."

    Wrong again.

    A decision isn't an action. You are attempting to make an invalid substitution.

    If you slip and fall down, break your hip and can't get up. I can decide to assist you or not but it has no bearing on what caused you to be in the predicament to begin with - which was your own misstep.

  • ||

    Neu:

    In the tipped-boat example, your inaction most certainly does have a consequence. The event unfolds differently depending upon which decision you take. The only way your inaction is non-consequential is if you are not in a position to effect the outcome in the first place.

    Really, how can you contend otherwise?



    first, i disagree fundamentally that decisions are positive or negative or anything else. a decision is nothing more than a sequence of thoughts.

    if i decide i hate children and am going to kill them all, what are the consequences of my actions? nothing.
    we are getting very close to policing the mind here to say any more than that.

    the reason i can say that is, as i stated earlier, my inaction has zero bearing on the outcome, as my observation has none either. (please let's avoid subatomic particles here.)
    it is a simple cause and effect situation, i may choose to intervene and change the circumstances thus altering the outcome. but my inaction has a net difference of zero, as in the boating incident. you tipped the boat, you got wet. i could change the outcome, but i am in no way responsible for it if i choose not to intervene...

    i get the feeling you would feel it was ok to watch you get wet, but wrong to stand by and watch you drown. and i agree, my value system would intervene on your behalf and i would attempt to help. but if i had no values, or simply disliked you or feared the risk was to great, i would still not be at fault for your drowning.

    it seems where we diverge is that you believe that society should decide when it's ok to remain neutral, rather than the individual. i believe this is the thrust of what you refer to as "context".

    the kid on my doorstep is unfortunate and i will help him but he is no more my responsibility than a 30 year old bum is. (other than to myself - to not be a scumbag and be able to respect myself). to say he was mine would be to say that his parents' responsibility ceases when they drop him off. does everyone in the world owe them self to every child?

    you seem to not differintiate between responsibility and just doing the right thing, when the circumstances make it apparent that as a human you need to take action.

    my feeling is we don't owe jackspit to society, but we do owe it to ourselves to be able to sleep at night. and if the bastard down the street would let someone starve outside his gate, well fine he's either scum or cannot afford to help. but i don't need to deprive him of liberty simply because he's selfish, i can simply take up the slack.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    ransom:

    The problem with NM arguement is that he is trying to claim two equivalencies for things that are not equivalent.

    The first is trying to equate decisions with actions. They are not in the least equivalent.

    The second is trying to eqate consequence with responsibilty. They are also not in the least equivalent.

  • Billy Beck||

    "Thop beeng a doothe."

    Howdya spell that?

  • ||

    I first read Rand in high school. Long time ago. It was a positive experience.

    BUT

    Judging from the genocidal war fantasies of the current crop of Randians, it's apparent that the Objectivist death toll is less than Stalin's only for the same reason Trotsky's death toll was less than Stalin's: lack of opportunity.

  • ransom147||

    Well I'm down to bberry and am to lazy to pontificate on this POS. Good night all.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Gilbert,

    The negative always prevails by default in the absence of proof of the affirmative.

    Slinging more axioms around doesn't help your argument in the least.

    If you slip and fall down, break your hip and can't get up. I can decide to assist you or not but it has no bearing on what caused you to be in the predicament to begin with - which was your own misstep.

    Which is beside the point. The cause is not an essential element or even at issue in this discussion.

    A decision isn't an action. You are attempting to make an invalid substitution.

    Now you are just being silly. Say we go with a common dictionary...Merriam Webster.

    Decision:noun - the act or process of deciding.

    Are you the kid who used to say "I didn't do it, my hand did?"

    Ransom,
    first, i disagree fundamentally that decisions are positive or negative or anything else. a decision is nothing more than a sequence of thoughts.

    Sorry, but you are moving the goal posts here. If you decide to kill all those children, say, and then don't, well then, you changed your mind...you decided not to.

    the reason i can say that is, as i stated earlier, my inaction has zero bearing on the outcome

    Again, this is simple not true. At the point at which you can change the situation, your choice has a consequence. The situation changes based upon your action or inaction...what follows after your decision is the consequence of your decision.

    to say he was mine would be to say that his parents' responsibility ceases when they drop him off.

    This isn't a zero sum game.

    responsibility and just doing the right thing

    If you define "the right thing" as the thing you SHOULD do, then you are talking about a responsibility. What, you want a cookie for doing the right thing? ;^)

    Now I am going to bed.

  • E||

    "At the point at which you can change the situation, your choice has a consequence."
    The problem with equivocating consequence (or the ability to alter the outcome) and responsibility is that as a normative ethical theory, consequentialism suffers some major pitfalls. For one it tends to paralyse the actor; every action becomes one that potentially bares moral weight. It also opens the door to a slippery slope scenario, wherein we are all responsible for suffering in the world because we are not doing everything in our power to alleiviate that suffering. Of course, under a consequentialist framework, it is impossible to say. Does arguing about consequentialism raise awareness of its merits? If so, then this is time well spent to a hard-core consequentialist. If not, however, this is time wasted--an inaction on our parts. We could be doing something charitable right now. Or does our need for sleep and recreation outweigh our responsibility to relieve suffering? Perhaps we are better-able to relieve suffering if we attend to our own needs first. But to what extent are we allowed to do this? Clearly, consequentialism makes for a troubling moral framework. Equivocating action and inaction may be a logically sound argument, but it has reprocussions in ethics. Of course, it appears as though I'm a bit late to the discussion. Anyone else think that The Fountainhead was much better than Atlas Shrugged?

  • MJ||

    "Fact is, commitment to some kind of socialism and fluency in the jargon of Marxism used to be mandatory for serious intellectuals. And there's something glamorous in the very idea of the intellectual."

    And people here wonder why conservative Republican types don't swoon over anyone who gets labeled an intellectual?

  • @@@||

    Anyone else think that The Fountainhead was much better than Atlas Shrugged?

    Try reading the political/economic essays from the 60s and 70s. They'll blow your mind, man.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Slinging more axioms around doesn't help your argument in the least."

    Not on your say so.


    "Decision:noun - the act or process of deciding."

    Nothing that has no effect on the physical world is an "action" - period.

    And as I said eariler - conssequence does not equate to responsibility.

  • Billy Beck||

    "Anyone else think that The Fountainhead was much better than Atlas Shrugged?"

    I think all the non-fiction is a lot better than both.

    It's too bad that the "Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology" is just what it says: introductory. I think it's the premier achievement in all of twentieth century philosophy.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Gilbert,

    Not on your say so.

    Yeah, on my say so. Axioms are not subject to proof, but agreement. If we don't agree on the axioms, we don't agree. Proof is beside the point.

    And as I said eariler - conssequence does not equate to responsibility.

    We agree. But, of course, you are changing the sense in which "responsibility" is being used. If you want to say "I am not responsible for the consequences of my actions." I am a bit dubious. If you want to say, "the consequences that unfold are not what determines whether or not I have a responsibility to act," then we probably agree.

    Nothing that has no effect on the physical world is an "action" - period.

    So, by this definition, only those decisions that have an effect on the world are actions? Okay, I am willing to work within that limitation. Of course, decisions not to act have an effect on the world, so they are actions.

    Look at it this way. The "negative rights only" position "compels" decisions not to act. It says that it is immoral to do certain things, so it compels you to make certain kinds of decisions that lead to inaction (not stealing, not killing, not committing fraud). If that is a meaningful system, then it already admits that inactions have an effect on the world. It doesn't provide guidance for what you should do, but does provide guidance for what you shouldn't do (of course each of those "negatives" can be restated in positive terms, but whatever). The system already admits to the moral weight of inactions. If inactions can be morally correct, they can also be morally incorrect. This is the sense in which the system is incomplete. It only addresses half the equation. And, as is already apparent in this discussion, can be used to justify heinous inactions. Ransom147, for instance, has already used it to justify allowing an abandoned 3 year old to fend for itself, while also admitting that he thinks it would be the right thing to do to help that child. He does this by equating the 30 year old bum with the 3 year old child. I can only imagine this logic is used to avoid a slippery slope argument. But the slippery slope it tries to avoid isn't slippery at all.

    Now the question of what the legal ramifications of your immoral act are is a completely different question, but we are talking about a moral system at the moment.

    every action becomes one that potentially bares moral weight

    And this is a problem because? Seriously. That moral weight will vary from positive to negative with most hovering near the neutral tilt point. Most acts will have a pretty light moral weight.

    it also opens the door to a slippery slope scenario, wherein we are all responsible for suffering in the world because we are not doing everything in our power to alleiviate that suffering.

    This would be an example of a slippery slope fallacy. Now, slippery slopes are not always fallacies, but they are more often than not. And they certainly are in this case. Of course, I am not arguing a consequentialist argument.

  • E||

    Billy Beck
    The non-fiction is just the stuff I can't stand. She was clearly smart enough to have done some great things in regards to philosophy; she was just too arogant to take the necessary procedures, however. I mean, reading something like her dismissal of, for instance, the analytic-synthetic divide as posited by Kant reveals that she either read and didn't understand what Kant was saying (unlikely) or that she dismissed Kant without reading him the moment she realized that his metaphysics were a bit solipsistic (more likely). Now, there are some legitimate reasons to reject the analytic-sythentic distinction (look to Quine's essay on synonymy for a good example, although his focus is on linguistics) but the ones she posits are not. Anyway, the Fountainhead is actually a very nuanced and subtle work of psychology, not to mention awesome. So I'm gonna have to stick with her fiction. But Atlas Shrugged wasn't very good. She isn't a very relevant philospher other than perhaps her ethical theory (but others have covered parts here and there of rational egoism; she is not entirely unique in this aspect). The premier achievement in all of twentieth century philosophy belongs to some analytic or post-analytic philosopher. Maybe Wittgenstein. But not Rand.

  • E||

    Neu Mejican
    Every single action bearing a moral weight is bad because it paralyses the actor. Normative ethical theories are meant to dictate proper behaviour. One that forces such utilitarian calculus upon the actor will make every action excruciatingly difficult to take. My slippery slope argument holds up, by the way--you have not refuted or even really addressed it outside of dismissing it. I already posited a completely legitimate scenario wherein we, the actors under a consequentialist framework, which is what you have been arguing very clearly in this thread, are paralysed with inaction in an attempt to weigh our own needs and pursuits against the needs of others. I need not repeat myself (but I will reference my previous post) as you have extended your argument through ink by not refuting mine.

    "Look at it this way. The "negative rights only" position "compels" decisions not to act. It says that it is immoral to do certain things, so it compels you to make certain kinds of decisions that lead to inaction (not stealing, not killing, not committing fraud). If that is a meaningful system, then it already admits that inactions have an effect on the world. It doesn't provide guidance for what you should do, but does provide guidance for what you shouldn't do (of course each of those "negatives" can be restated in positive terms, but whatever). The system already admits to the moral weight of inactions. If inactions can be morally correct, they can also be morally incorrect."

    You are equivocating on terms. In a negative-rights system, something can have an effect on the outside world (i.e. every inaction) and not bear moral weight. Consider, for instance, an event of nature. It certainly has an effect on us as humans. But just because it has an effect on us doesn't mean it bears moral weight. What you wrongly assume is that every ethical system adopts a consequentialist perspective. They don't necessarily; as such, an ethical system can legitimately deny inaction a moral bearing other than neutrality.

  • E||

    Also, Neu Mejican, I am not Gilbert in disguise. I don't know if that is what you thought, or if you mistook my posting for one of his, but you address us as the same person and same argument. I don't care about his, nor is there a correlation between what he is trying to prove and what I am.

  • Billy Beck||

    "...or that she dismissed Kant without reading him the moment she realized that his metaphysics were a bit solipsistic (more likely)."

    More that, I think. IIRC, she never actually read Kant. To me, her critique is that much more remarkable and incisive.

    The major novels -- see, I have this problem in that I take them historically as a matter of her development, and I value them differently from most people, I think. As a matter of sheer aesthetics, I don't have anything like the objections that lots of people do. (We'll stick to people who've actually demonstrated that they've read this stuff, not the fraud.pundits.) I think they're both very good on a big-time scale (think: Hugo, et. al. -- not: Pynchon, et. al.), and if you and I can colloquialize a bit, I find The Fountainhead more entertaining. It's lighter, and the reason is because it wasn't intended as a comprehensive statement of her philosophy in the way that Atlas was. And I don't mind the weight of Atlas because I understand the book and its purpose. Even so, I'm not really grading that on a curve: I think it's a great book. I enjoy reading it.

    We disagree on her moves on the A/S D -- I think they're superb -- but I'm not up for thrashing that out.

    "She isn't a very relevant philospher other than perhaps her ethical theory..."

    I really had to laugh at that, sir. See; that's your estimation of her value. Mine's different. And this goes to a principal element of her ethics, which is that all value begin with the individual. The Virtue of Selfishness is a not-to-be-missed statement.

  • E||

    Fair enough. But The Fountainhead was way heavier in terms of its philosophical merit (or at least as viewed by me. My apologies for sounding assertive. I will revisit her criticism of the analytic-synthetic divide, but it doesn't sound promising if she didn't ever read Kant) insofar as it corrected and amended certain aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy that I think he screwed up. And she does it so subtly! Plus, I think it is better literature--with real characters who aren't just mouthpieces. Also, I think Atlas could have just been one of her numerous essays on tht ethical side of capitalism. But to each his own. The Virtue of Selfishness is alright--I just could never get into how her non-fiction books were just collected essays. It seemed so disjointed. I also enjoyed We the Living. So in terms of her fiction (Anthem is more of a novella; I leave that out), she's two for three. Although I do like Atlas's obscure and arbitrary references to Judaism. So odd and seemingly out-of-place.
    You said you recalled that her attack on Kant was more nuanced than I give her credit for--perhaps I'm not recalling it correctly. Give me a quick analysis of it, if you don't mind. I was under the impression that is something like 'analytic-synthetic divide disrespects my view of how we interpret empirical data and integrate information and utilize rational faculties, so I'm gonna trash it without really understanding it." But that is, of course, my bias against her.
    Also, to her credit, I enjoyed portions of The Romantic Manifesto, especially "the psycho-epistemology of art" and "art and cognition."

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "So, by this definition, only those decisions that have an effect on the world are actions? Okay, I am willing to work within that limitation. Of course, decisions not to act have an effect on the world, so they are actions."

    Wrong again.

    As I originally said, a decsion is not an action at all. You are the one trying to claim otherwise.

    The only "action" involved in making a decision is the firing of neural impulses inside the brain of the person thinking about it.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Look at it this way. The "negative rights only" position "compels" decisions not to act. It says that it is immoral to do certain things, so it compels you to make certain kinds of decisions that lead to inaction (not stealing, not killing, not committing fraud). If that is a meaningful system, then it already admits that inactions have an effect on the world. It doesn't provide guidance for what you should do, but does provide guidance for what you shouldn't do (of course each of those "negatives" can be restated in positive terms, but whatever). The system already admits to the moral weight of inactions. If inactions can be morally correct, they can also be morally incorrect. This is the sense in which the system is incomplete. It only addresses half the equation"

    No - there is no half-equation to it. It is an entirely complete principle that everyone is entirely responsible for the own actions and their own welfare - and nothing else.

    The only inaction that would be morally incorrect would be a failure to do something to remedy harm to someone that had been previously caused by me in the first place. Absent that, there is no moral reason to act.
    One is perfectly free to act out of kindness if one so chooses. But kindness and moral obligation are two entirely different things.

  • Sparky||

    Billy Beck | August 28, 2009, 12:13pm | #
    The Virtue of Selfishness is a not-to-be-missed statement.


    Indeed, right from the first two lines in the intro:

    The title of this book may evoke the kind of question that I hear once in a while: "Why do you use the word 'selfishness' to denote virtuous qualities if character, when that word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?"

    To those who ask it, my answer is: "For the reason that makes you afraid of it."

  • Neu Mejican||

    E,

    I dismissed your slippery slope because it is based on this...

    Every single action bearing a moral weight is bad because it paralyses the actor.

    That is not only not coherent will real life experience, it is not well motivated logically.

    are paralysed with inaction in an attempt to weigh our own needs and pursuits against the needs of others.

    Paralysed? Really? I don't see it. You are being hyperbolic.

    In a negative-rights system, something can have an effect on the outside world (i.e. every inaction) and not bear moral weight. Consider, for instance, an event of nature. It certainly has an effect on us as humans. But just because it has an effect on us doesn't mean it bears moral weight. What you wrongly assume is that every ethical system adopts a consequentialist perspective. They don't necessarily; as such, an ethical system can legitimately deny inaction a moral bearing other than neutrality.

    Yes it can. I am saying that I think that such a system is incomplete for that very reason. You are begging the question.

    the actors under a consequentialist framework, which is what you have been arguing very clearly in this thread,

    Actually, I am arguing for something closer to deontology...I think you are confused.

    Consider, for instance, an event of nature. It certainly has an effect on us as humans. But just because it has an effect on us doesn't mean it bears moral weight.

    Now you are just being silly. Moral choices only apply to those with agency.

    you have not refuted or even really addressed it outside of dismissing it.

    Actually I did. I would repeat myself, but you can always look back at my post. I directly addressed the reason your slippery slope falls apart.

    And, no, I didn't confuse you with Gilbert (god forbid).

  • Neu Mejican||

    Gilbert,

    But kindness and moral obligation are two entirely different things.

    This is the closest you have come to justifying your stance. I still hold, however, that there are situations whereby you are morally obligated to act in certain ways. And those situations are not limited to those of your own creation.

    I notice that you do not even address the fairly straight forward claim that children have a right to be cared for. As I sketched out above, the adult faced with a toddler fending for itself is not simply being kind...they are morally obligated to help as a result of the child's positive right to care. Those rights adhere to the child, whatever the status of their parents (dead, absent, whatever).

  • ||

    In a fist fight between Rand and Marx my money is on Rand. She might have been the daughter of a pharmasist but one look at her and you can tell genetically she's not far removed from the fields and plow. Marx's tubercular chest wouldn't be a match for a blow landed by one of Rand's meaty, potato-picking fists. And the fact that she would stab her cigarette (replete with holder) on Marx's tear-stained cheek post fisticuffs would just be icing on the cake.

  • E||

    Neu Mejican,
    By equivocating action and inaction, you are adopting a consequentialist framework. An action or inaction's effect, in your system, equals morality. Definitionally this is consequentialism: in your ethical system, the consequences of an action are what form the basis of right and wrong. It may be informed by deontology, and bear resemblences to deontology, but it is consequentialism.
    When I said paralysed, I meant perfect actors under a consequentialist framework. The reasons are quite clear why; I will not run through the same scenarios. The slippery slope argument holds up for the very reason that impossible responsibility is placed upon the shoulders of the actor when one equivocates action with inaction--we the actors begin to bear responsibility for the suffering in the world because we are not actively seeking to alieviate it. And here is where the positive debt to others argument you posit fails: there is no clear bightline as to where responsibility starts and ends. The obvious example of where it starts is at the individual level--aiding someone in need, such as a drowning man. But how far does the responsibility extend? Herein lies the slippery slope--the lack of definite brightline, which is really the problem I have with the ethical system you advocate.
    The weather example wasn't to attempt to assign relative moral status to climate. It was to demonstrate that effect doesn't equal moral weight.
    Also, I fail to see how I am begging the question anywhere in my argument. How do I support my proposition with its own premise?
    I also don't know what you have against Gilbert: is there a history there or something?

  • Neu Mejican||

    E,

    An action or inaction's effect, in your system, equals morality. Definitionally this is consequentialism: in your ethical system, the consequences of an action are what form the basis of right and wrong.

    No. I have not taken this position at any point in this discussion. At no point have I said that the consequences of an action determine its morality. I think there may be a side discussion that has led you to misinterpret what I am saying. The side argument was whether or not "inactions" have consequences. They do. But the morality, the right or wrong of them, is not determined by their consequences.

    I have been arguing from the beginning a rights based morality. The drowning man may not have a right to your assistance (or may, I would need more elaboration...as I said above, context matters). Let's stick to the example I have been working with. The toddler fending for itself. The claim is that the toddler has a right to your assistance by virtue of being a toddler, full stop, consequences be damned. If fate brings you to the situation sketched out above, you have a responsibility to help the toddler. It is a moral obligation.

    Regarding the "begging the question" claim. If you are trying to refute my claim that

    "an ethical system can NOT legitimately deny inaction a moral bearing in all circumstances."

    To respond by saying "an ethical system can legitimately deny inaction a moral bearing other than neutrality. " is to beg the question.

    The slippery slope argument holds up for the very reason that impossible responsibility is placed upon the shoulders of the actor when one equivocates action with inaction--we the actors begin to bear responsibility for the suffering in the world because we are not actively seeking to alieviate it. And here is where the positive debt to others argument you posit fails: there is no clear bightline as to where responsibility starts and ends.

    This is why a slippery slope is a fallacy. It assumes that the lack of a bright line means that you can not distinguish categories. But very few categories have bright line boundaries. To expect them, to call something illegitimate because it does not create them is a fallacy. To make your argument valid you would need to show WHY the lack of a bright line leads to the paralysis you posit. If you look above, I have already addressed that. There is no reason to posit that the existence of positive responsibilities and rights leads to a situation where an individual is responsible to alleviate all suffering. There is no slip to the slope. Likewise with the "debt" to society (which you will note was provisional and not fleshed out in the least above...for reasons I've already gone over). YOUR debt to society is based on your situation, the context of your life, and does not extend your debt to all and everyone and every context.

    The morality, the right or wrong, is bound to the context (not the consequence, the context). In some situations, you have a moral duty, a responsibility, to act. Not in all situations.

  • Neu Mejican||

    E,

    And as for Gilbert, sure, call it a history.
    He's openly admitted in the past that he is not arguing with me in good faith. The fact that I reject many ideas he finds axiomatic is threatening, or something.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The weather example wasn't to attempt to assign relative moral status to climate. It was to demonstrate that effect doesn't equal moral weight.

    I have not asserted that the effect equals the moral weight, so why use the example. But even if I had, it would still be irrelevant as moral weight would only be applied in any meaningful sense to the effects that agents have on the world. Without agency, there is no moral question...even if you argue from consequentialism.

  • E||

    "This is why a slippery slope is a fallacy. It assumes that the lack of a bright line means that you can not distinguish categories. But very few categories have bright line boundaries. To expect them, to call something illegitimate because it does not create them is a fallacy. To make your argument valid you would need to show WHY the lack of a bright line leads to the paralysis you posit. If you look above, I have already addressed that. There is no reason to posit that the existence of positive responsibilities and rights leads to a situation where an individual is responsible to alleviate all suffering. There is no slip to the slope. Likewise with the "debt" to society (which you will note was provisional and not fleshed out in the least above...for reasons I've already gone over). YOUR debt to society is based on your situation, the context of your life, and does not extend your debt to all and everyone and every context.
    The morality, the right or wrong, is bound to the context (not the consequence, the context). In some situations, you have a moral duty, a responsibility, to act. Not in all situations."

    I have already addressed why the lack of brightline is bad. It was explained in the part where I talked about the limits of responsibility. You say you've addressed this, but I don't see where. Perhaps this is my fault. Run through it again. Show me where you can draw the distinction between "alleviating this suffering is my responsibility" and "alleviating this suffering is not my responsibility" because this is the main problem I have with your ethical framework. You say that the slippery slope is a fallacy and that you need not posit some brightline, but one operating under your framework cannot ever know if he is being truly moral or not. If you have already answered this question, then I apologize, but answer it again for my sake. When are you bound by duty to do so and when are you not? Remember, to be logically sound, there has to be a good reason to call the distinction, not just "it becomes impractical."



    "Regarding the "begging the question" claim. If you are trying to refute my claim that
    "an ethical system can NOT legitimately deny inaction a moral bearing in all circumstances."
    To respond by saying "an ethical system can legitimately deny inaction a moral bearing other than neutrality. " is to beg the question."

    No it isn't. Begging the question has a set definition. For one, my claim isn't singularly responsive. I am making that claim from the responsibility standpoint. If you are responsible for rectifying circumstances that you are not responsible for creating, this is going to lead to some questions of how far this responsibility extends-like I talked about above. A clear reason to reject the claim that an inaction has a moral bearing. Now, I should have clarified when I posted that comment: if you are responsible for the creation of the circumstances, and those circumstances need fixing, then it is negligent not to fix those. But it was my understanding that we were arguing about circumstances that the actor didn't create. Anyway, I am not supporting my proposition with its own premise. This would be begging the question: "Inactions do not have moral bearing because they are morally neutral." But I didn't day that. The proposition I posited wasn't a 'because' statement; it was the wrap-up of its posting.

    And I see now what you are saying about consequentialism; the point at which I was confused was when you responded to something I said about every action having a moral bearing as being bad. Anyway, I thought that you were saying that this would be a good thing. But having this be a god thing would presuppose a consequentialist framework-the only way that every action or inaction could have a moral bearing is through straight consequentialism: obviously, something like deciding between a gray tie and a black tie (just an example, no need to pick it apart) shouldn't be of moral bearing. So the confusion originated from your response to that (which I must have misinterpreted, I apologize).

  • *||

    Is the last commenter the winner?

  • Neu Mejican||

    You say that the slippery slope is a fallacy and that you need not posit some brightline, but one operating under your framework cannot ever know if he is being truly moral or not.

    That is not true. There may be circumstances that are hard to decide, there may even be circumstance that are impossible to decide, but that is much different than "cannot ever know." The slippery slope fallacy is also referred to as the bald man fallacy. At some point a man who is losing his hair moves from being a "non-bald man" to being a "bald man." There is no bright line between the two states, but that doesn't mean we can't distinguish between the two states for the vast majority of cases. Similarly, moral categories of "good" and "bad" or "your responsibility" and "not your responsibility" are distinguishable without a bright line boundary. The demand for absolute answers is the source of the fallacy.

    My earlier response was to the claim that the lack of a bright line leads to paralysis. It was very brief, but I think it addresses the hyperbole that underlies slippery slope fallacies. The slippery slope to paralysis only exists if most cases are difficulty to decide, or carry a heavy moral weight. But most are easy to decide and most carry very little moral weight. The difficult cases in the fuzzy boundary region that might lead to "paralysis" are exceedingly rare.

    Now, I realize that this means that EVEN WITH the addition of positive rights and positive responsibilities the system will be incomplete (in an absolute sense), but it will be much closer to complete and will handle more circumstances than the "negative rights only" system.

    Regarding the "begging the question" thing. I guess I was stuck on your term "legitimately." This seems to be specifically responsive to my claim that a system can not legitimately ignore the moral consequences of inaction, but I can see, looking back at the post again, what you are saying. When I first read it, it seems you were saying that "a system can claim inactions are morally neutral because it is legitimate to claim that inactions are morally neutral."

    I still disagree with the proposition. Primarily because I am not sure the category of "inaction" is really legitimate to start with. When you decide "not to act" in a circumstance when you are faced with a choice, you don't really have the option of not acting. You act in some way. You "stand there" you "walk away" you "watch" you "ignore," whatever. In none of these cases have you "not acted." You may not have "intervened" but you have acted. So, to me, it seems illegitimate to claim that those actions carry no moral weight while the ones where you intervene do.

    Anyway, nice talking to ya.

  • Neu Mejican||

    One last clarification.

    Regarding "we the actors begin to bear responsibility for the suffering in the world because we are not actively seeking to alieviate it."

    This is why I emphasized above that abstraction away from particular circumstances is problematic. The moral equation doesn't apply to generalized categories of behavior, it applies to specific acts embedded in specific contexts. Very few categories of behavior are always bad or always good (some,probably--rape, torture-- but not many). So treating as equivalent the suffering in the particular situation to the suffering of the world in general is not appropriate. Like I said, there is no slip to that slope. Your responsibility in a specific situation is irrelevant to other situations. Each specific action's moral weight, if we stick with that term, is determined in context. Just as the meaning of any natural language sentence can only be determined in the context in which it was produced. Sure, we can decode a standard meaning to the sentence out of context, but without the context, we don't know if that interpretation is valid.

  • E||

    "I still disagree with the proposition. Primarily because I am not sure the category of "inaction" is really legitimate to start with. When you decide "not to act" in a circumstance when you are faced with a choice, you don't really have the option of not acting. You act in some way. You "stand there" you "walk away" you "watch" you "ignore," whatever. In none of these cases have you "not acted." You may not have "intervened" but you have acted. So, to me, it seems illegitimate to claim that those actions carry no moral weight while the ones where you intervene do."

    Perhaps here we will never see eye to eye. In truth, I do not draw a distinction between action and inaction either. I just thought it was an interesting conversation. Althogh I generally see responsibility as stemming from positive actions. I really do think that, to be logically sound, there has to be a clear boundary. But no matter.

    "This is why I emphasized above that abstraction away from particular circumstances is problematic. The moral equation doesn't apply to generalized categories of behavior, it applies to specific acts embedded in specific contexts. Very few categories of behavior are always bad or always good (some,probably--rape, torture-- but not many). So treating as equivalent the suffering in the particular situation to the suffering of the world in general is not appropriate. Like I said, there is no slip to that slope. Your responsibility in a specific situation is irrelevant to other situations. Each specific action's moral weight, if we stick with that term, is determined in context. Just as the meaning of any natural language sentence can only be determined in the context in which it was produced. Sure, we can decode a standard meaning to the sentence out of context, but without the context, we don't know if that interpretation is valid."

    It seemed as though we were arguing abstractions. And normative ethics--which demand some formula. But perhaps not. Are you some form of emotivist or intuitionist (which I'm not bashing)? And language--that's a whole other debate. I'd argue that we can never know if a senence's interpretation is valid because such knowledge would rely upon two things: 1. That sentences or facts "link up" to the external world, i.e. that there is the existence of truth with a big "T" and 2. That we can know that intrinsic nature. But it has no bearing on the argument at hand.

    So yeah, we likely won't agree on stuff, but nice talking to you, too.

  • ||

    New Mejican,

    The Franklin quote you mentioned earlier is more fully fleshed out here (citation to follow):

    "Private Property therefore is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing; its Contributions therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered as conferring a Benefit on the Publick, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honour and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or the Payment of a just Debt. The Combinations of Civil Society are not like those of a Set of Merchants, who club their Property in different Proportions for Building and Freighting a Ship, and may therefore have some Right to vote in the Disposition of the Voyage in a greater or less Degree according to their respective Contributions; but the important ends of Civil Society, and the personal Securities of Life and Liberty, these remain the same in every Member of the society; and the poorest continues to have an equal Claim to them with the most opulent, whatever Difference Time, Chance, or Industry may occasion in their Circumstances. On these Considerations, I am sorry to see the Signs this Paper I have been considering affords, of a Disposition among some of our People to commence an Aristocracy, by giving the Rich a predominancy in Government, a Choice peculiar to themselves in one half the Legislature to be proudly called the UPPER House, and the other Branch, chosen by the Majority of the People, degraded by the Denomination of the LOWER; and giving to this upper House a Permanency of four Years, and but two to the lower. I hope, therefore, that our Representatives in the Convention will not hastily go into these Innovations, but take the Advice of the Prophet, 'Stand in the old ways, view the ancient Paths, consider them well, and be not among those that are given to Change.'"

    From The Founders' Constitution
    Volume 1, Chapter 12, Document 25
    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu.....12s25.html
    The University of Chicago Press

    The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Albert Henry Smyth. 10 vols. New York: Macmillan Co., 1905--7.

    Also, re Poison/Winger, it's probably less embarrassing to be a fan of either of them than to carry the flag for either Rand or Marx. At some level, the debate seems to have devolved into a discussion of whether rancid moose meat is preferable to rancid caribou meat. Isn't it okay to find them both sufficiently objectionable to reject them both without comparing their relative shortcomings?

  • Adam||

    I don't recall any pure Marxist regimes committing mass murder. Leninist, sure, Stalinist, sure, Maoist, sure, but none of these guys are true Marxists. You can't blame him for what they did after completely rewriting his theories to serve themselves.

  • ||

    A scientist studies the subject, a philosopher studies the scientist. I don't believe philosophers murder anyone except for the fact that their writings are misinterpreted for personal gain. I've read a little Marx and found it intellectually stimulating. I read a book called "The Urantia Book" and found it philosophically and spiritually stimulating as one. Maybe Marx's only flaw was he was an atheist.

  • Adam||

    ^Ayn Rand was an atheist, too, a more militant one than Marx in fact.

  • Andy Baxter||

    Say what you like about Ayn Rand but I would love to hear what she would have to say about the world right now.

    I believe that Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for everyone.

    You don't have to agree with every word but just read it.

    I don't agree with every part of it but I have no hesitation in saying that my thinking was influenced by Ayn Rand and that I believe that I am a better person for it.

    The alternative would be the doctrine that suggests that unless you're busy providing for every other bugger in the world before making time for yourself then you're not a 'good person/citizen' would have been very difficult for us less intellectually capable to counter.

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