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About Laika

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  • Birthday 07/13/89

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  • Biography/Intro Disillusioned Marxist Communist seeking Alternatives
  • Experience with Objectivism Read "The Virtue of Selfishness" and "Capitalism:the Unknown ideal"; Watched Atlas Shrugged Movies I, II, III.
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  1. Dam those donoughts sound good. hmmm.. I think you have to take into account the way in which what is "healthy" is often a means to communicate collectivist values. For example, alot of the health crazes around nowdays have nothing to do with health at all but are about body image. Society has "decided" what you should look like and how you should be attractive as if your body was the property of society. In part, this is a legacy of the eugenics of the 20th century in which society decides what is healthy and forces the individuals to conform to the health standards set by authorities. However, rather than dress it up as the mental slavery it is, to make you feel inadequate and guilty about eating those donoughts as a continuation of the Christian sin of "gluttony", they give it a secular pseudo-scientific appearance of calling it "healthy". In many ways, it is an appeal to authority by presenting it as coming from a doctor in a lab coat. This doesn't mean you shouldn't want to be "healthy", but you have to differentiate between an individualistic and collectivistic sense of health. health is not a duty or and obligation to society and our sense of values should not be warped by enforced guilt and a hatred of life. It should be an expression of our own being- something we enjoy doing. Here I'm going to sound less like Ayn Rand, but you have to examine your own feelings. If you want to eat donuts- that's fine. But the problem is that the idea of being "healthy" is so unpleasant and makes us so miserable because it is an obligation. Isn't Dieting taken to such an extreme that it is really just a form of self-harm now days (even literally when it comes to anorexia)? We have to sort through all those messages and decide what it "means" to be healthy. Physical exercise is something that we should naturally enjoy given that it produces a natural high, so if you don't want to exercise- think about why that is. Was it something you were forced into like at school? exercise should be a way of expressing our joy for life rather than our hatred of it. [For the record, I am a bit overweight and had a take away pizza on my way home on Monday. So I'm not the best person to take diet advice from and I hate exercise because I was forced to do it as a kid and always came last in sports which we pretty humilitating. the pizza was delicious though so I don't feel at all guilty about it. I put beating depression and sorting out my mental health problems first so I pick up on the toxicity of all the messages going round. I keep trying to lose weight nonetheless. ]
  2. If I'm not mistaken, Rand's argument against Mixed Economies (i.e. Democratic Socialism) was related to her epistemology. (See Chapter 20 on the new fascism;rule by consensus and 21. the wreckage of consensus in Capitalism; the unknown ideal). To her, it would seem to be arguing that a society can remain "half slave and half free" is fundamentally unsustainable and that the nature of compromise is detrimental to freedom as an illogical position to take. If Objectivism means the separation of economics and politics and of the state as coercion from economic activity, this would seem to be something non-negotiable within objectivist politics. But that's just my reading of it so I'm not 100% sure.
  3. because if I want to be an objectivist in real life, I'd (probably) have to be prepared to support private health care as a voluntary exchange based on the market. it is far easier to criticise something than to support something (especially with abstract principles), as the latter involves commitment and risk of failure, discovering the limits of our understanding and reason or making a mistake. supporting something is a much better reflection of productivity and integrity as you have to create. I could criticise capitalism all day, but that doesn't make the alternative good does it?
  4. About a year ago I would have agreed with you on North Korea then I had a better look at the literature. If I had to describe it, it is a specifically "Korean" version of Stalinist Marxism that traces its intellectual ancestry through Chinese Marxism and Maoism, rather than directly from the "Classical Marxism" of Marx and Engels from Western European sources. For North Korea it's taking Marx from second and third hand sources smuggled by the underground from the USSR to China during the Japanese Occupation of Korea probably going through several translations in different languages, which is why its so unfamiliar (so it's literally "Chinese whispers"). Here is the USA Korean Friendship Associations response to the same question: What is the Interrelationship Between the Juche Idea and Marxism-Leninism and What is the View of the Juche Idea on Marxism? Answer to the question by the delegation of the institute of philosophy, psychology and law, Mongolian Academy of Science: The Juche idea is a new and original philosophical idea that clarifies the man-centered philosophical principle. But it does not mean that the Juche idea has nothing common with Marxism-Leninism or the former denies the latter. The basic principles of Marxism-Leninism are the truth. The Juche idea has a close connection with Marxism-Leninism with commonness in its mission and class ideal. In other words, the Juche idea inherits the mission and class principle of Marxism-Leninism. The Juche idea approves the truthfulness of Marxism-Leninism and regards it as its presupposition. The Juche idea is a theory founded, developed and enriched in the course of applying and developing it creatively in accordance with requirements of the revolutionary practice in our times. However, the historical exploit of the Juche idea is not to have developed Marxism-Leninism but to have clarified a new man-centered philosophical principle. In a word, there is inheritance between the Juche idea and Marxism-Leninism, but the main is the originality of the Juche idea. The Juche idea approves historical exploits of Marxism-Leninism, but does not consider it as a complete revolutionary idea of the working class. [internet traffic to the site is probably watched but here's the link https://www.kfausa.org/interrelationship-juche-idea-marxism-leninism-view-juche-idea-marxism/ ] For the direct source from Kim Jong il 1996 clarification on the issue, see the link here: http://www.oneparty.co.uk/html/juche19.html As far as Communists defending Capitalism is concerned, the "rightists" will defend the use of "commodity relations" under Socialism (i.e. market systems of exchange). Given that Marxism originated from Classical Economics, it shouldn't be a huge surprise if there is overlap. Marxism isn't about moral objections to capitalism but a pseudo-scientific critique of market relations. So Marxists hands aren't quite so tied by anti-capitalist morals. it really depends on the context. One of Marxism's dirty little secrets is Karl Marx's defence of Free Trade in 1848, a position that was rejected by Socialists and Communists since based on the need to "reform" capitalism in the interests of the working class. "But, generally speaking, the Protective system in these days is conservative, while the Free Trade system works destructively. It breaks up old nationalities and carries antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie to the uttermost point. In a word, the Free Trade system hastens the Social Revolution. In this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, I am in favor of Free Trade." http://mailstar.net/classwar.html Here is Stalin's attack on "levelling of wages" (i.e. equality of outcome) from a speech in 1931. What is the cause of the fluidity of manpower? The cause is the wrong structure of wages, the wrong wage scales, the "Leftist" practice of wage equalisation. In a number of factories wage scales are drawn up in such a way as to practically wipe out the difference between skilled and unskilled labour, between heavy and light work. The consequence of wage equalisation is that the unskilled worker lacks the incentive to become a skilled worker and is thus deprived of the prospect of advancement; as a result he feels himself a "visitor" in the factory, working only temporarily so as to "earn a little money" and then go off to "try his luck" in some other place. The consequence of wage equalisation is that the skilled worker is obliged to go from factory to factory until he finds one where his skill is properly appreciated. Hence, the "general" drift from factory to factory; hence, the fluidity of manpower. In order to put an end to this evil we must abolish wage equalisation and discard the old wage scales. In order to put an end to this evil we must draw up wage scales that will take into account the difference between skilled and unskilled labour, between heavy and light work. We cannot tolerate a situation where a rolling-mill worker in the iron and steel industry earns no more than a sweeper. We cannot tolerate a situation where a locomotive driver earns only as much as a copying clerk. Marx and Lenin said that the difference between skilled and unskilled labour would exist even under socialism, even after classes had been abolished; that only under communism would this difference disappear and that, consequently, even under socialism "wages" must be paid according to work performed and not according to needs. But the equalitarians among our economic executives and trade-union officials do not agree with this and believe that under our Soviet system this difference has already disappeared. Who is right, Marx and Lenin or the equalitarians? It must be assumed that it is Marx and Lenin who are right. But it follows from this that whoever draws up wage scales on the "principle" of wage equalisation, without taking into account the difference between skilled and unskilled labour, breaks with Marxism, breaks with Leninism. see second section on wages: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1931/06/23.htm
  5. the alternative to reasoning with Marxists is to accept that coercion is necessary because people have such a fixed and unchanging view. the futility of non-rational reasoning is perhaps the lesser evil, but it depends on your values. The marxist attitude is "if it works- do it" as its the results not the intentions that matter so using non-rational methods (like propaganda) is fine for them if it helps fulfil their ultimate objectives. It is also why Marxists so often head down the road to violence because it is the "quickest" way of changing things- but by no means the most effective when taken from a long-term perspective. Even under the threat of persecution, over half of the Soviet Population responded to the 1937 census as believers in a some sort of god in the hope it would get the government to back off and let them worship in peace. It was a major embarrassment equivalent to Saudi Arabia or Iran today finding out a majority of its population were atheists as a threat to the legitimacy of the state- so the Soviet just didn't publish the result. Their anti-religious policies as an attempt to change hearts and minds were a failure- even when the threat of violence was explicitly used. The reverse- that Communists won't change their views due to the threat or reality of violence, would also appear to be true if you take the Vietnam war as an example. peasants on bicycles beat B-52 bombers that dropped three times as much explosives on the country as the whole of world war II. When you go up against the most powerful country on earth, there had to be someone on the other side thinking, "oh, whats the point!" There is also the fact that, in the end, wars must end with peace and at least one side has to sit down and agree to surrender, or else both must give a little bit to call a truce. the government may try to pretend its "tough" but it will get round the negotiating table and talk to terrorists eventually. Attempts to wipe out the enemy almost never work and take a major toll on the participants because its so contrary to the human impulse to empathise as social animals. If ISIS had kept going- some accommodation would had to have been reached, principled or not (thankfully its losing and thats the best outcome really). Historically, there have been periods of liberalisation of Communism, reflecting a diversity of approaches as to "how" communism is best achieved even within Communist Parties themselves. These are "relatively" liberal to what goes before and after, such as the New Economic Policy under Lenin, the Secret Speech and De-Stalinisation under Khrushchev, Perstroika and Glasnot with Gorbachev, and Deng Xio Peng's economic reforms after the Cultural Revolution in China. These more "rightist" positions crop up every now and then. The more extreme left sections of the Communist Movement still have an ablity to grasp "reality", such as Stalin's decision to take the USSR along the road of "Socialism in One Country" and post-pone world revolution, or in introducing material incentives, competition and economic inequality into the Soviet Economic model during the 1930's. Stalin's rival, Leon Trotsky was an advocate of the militarisation of labour during War communism but made an early suggestion of the need to shift towards a more market based system. Realising how unprepared the USSR was for a war, Stalin was prepared to do a deal with the devil in the Nazi-Soviet pact (it didn't help in the end but it bought time much like appeasement in Czechoslovakia did for the UK and France). Neither Khrushchev nor Kennedy wanted a Nuclear War over Cuba in 1962 though Castro, Che and Mao did make statements that they were willing to do so much to Khrushchev's horror. There is a certain pragmatism in Communist ideology that means it does have *some* relationship with reality as objectivists would understand it. the problem is getting a Communist to distinguish between the sense that compromise with "class enemies" as a form of ideological weakness from compromise with reality, facts and uncomfortable truths. the greatest disasters such as the Ukrainan Famine and the Great leap Forward came from wanting to "make" reality conform with the theory and ignoring real obstacles in the way that could well be articulated in Communist theory (i.e. "not having enough food kills people" is a pretty obvious one). In so far as they accept their is *some* objective truth and the need to find solutions that "work" to achieve their own ideological ends there is room for manoeuvre but its not obvious to those outside of the movement because its all a big red blur and the ideology- as a way to process reality- isn't taken seriously. Richard Nixon, for all his faults, did actually try to understand Communist ideology better (see link below) and used it to exploit the Split between the USSR and China to achieve a thaw in relations with China on which US-China relations continue to be built this day. Given that Nixon rose to prominence based in the McCarthy era, I've had a grudging respect that he had the insight to try to understand what the enemy was actually fighting for and not fear a deeper knowledge of their views as some kind of corruption. Trust me- if you're a communist and someone says "communism works in theory but doesn't work in practice" for the thousandth time as if they had suddenly come up with an entirely original view- its no wonder you'd be driven to absurd levels of violence like slamming their head against the pavement just out of frustration and contempt. Informed, relatively respectful critics of communism with an understanding of Marxist theory are a rarity and the more honest and sincere Communists don't know how to deal with them. the ultra-leftist morons will have a fit based on the belief that there should be no compromise with the "class enemy" like the way racist or fascist are used nowadays to shut down the conservation (and anti-communists will do the same thing to "Pinkos", "reds" and "liberals" because "appeasement" is treated as weakness). showing you know something about a group of people you disagree with, can handle disagreement and have some common understanding is a good place to start as a basis for trust and negotiation. http://watergate.info/1960/08/21/nixon-the-meaning-of-communism-to-americans.html So yeah, it can work- but you need to find Communists who are willing to negotiate. it's worth keeping in mind that the US and North Korea will probably be forced to the negotiating table again unless they are willing to go through with a nuclear holocaust. North Korea is definitely *crazy* but there is method in the maddness if you read the literature. They believe in self-reliance (or "juche") and don't want to be dependent on anyone to protect their own security- so they want their own nukes and dont want to have to rely on China. ideologically, there is room for compromise there unless you are dealing with an ultra-left nut job who values their ideals above their own existence. the fanatics are genuinely dangerous because they've lost touch with reality and their own humanity. Americans may not like the compromise that's reached but its still the lesser evil to nuclear war or a long US occupation in a country that has been preparing for war, indoctrinated its people to hate americans and die for the dear leader for the past 60 years. I can't say whether that view is compatable with objectivist ethics, but there is a window of opportunity if you are willing to "know thy enemy" and use it to your advantage. it may not be principled but it can work.
  6. In the UK, the National Health Service has a sort of cult-like status and immunity from criticism. The principle that healthcare should be publicly owned and free at the point of need is not really questioned at all. If a politician said you should privatise the NHS in public, it may come across as a "flat-earther" to a Brit. The UK Libertarian Party appears to share this view and won't touch the issue of privatising the NHS either. I think as far as the brits are concerned, this is partly because healthcare is such a sensitive area as we all will need it at some point, and we are all going to die- so having the NHS there ready, waiting for when the time comes, perhaps makes it more reassuring that when we die it will not be complicated by how much money we have. There are some "positive externalities" from it too as if you are priced out of the market and simply too poor to afford healthcare, you may miss out on vaccinations that offer protection from preventable diseases and so make it easier for them to spread. In a way, its also nice to know that there is some "progress" in healthcare standards and that the government can ensure that the next generation doesn't suffer from diseases that may have existed in the past. no-one wants to be told their kid is going to die from a disease that's curable and its "your fault" for not being able to pay for it. that just doesn't sound even remotely civilised or humane. That's definitely not the case in the US as the fury over "Obama Care"/The Affordable Care Act shows even as Republicans scramble to try and repeal it. I'm guessing the view is defined in relation to the fear of government and the power of life and death (e.g. Sarah Palin's "death panels") but I'm not really sure. Making sure everyone is healthy as an obligation for the government and instituting public health care as a social and economic right would (it appear) be self-evidently a good thing. It may be something that as a brit I'm just too used to in order to see the other side of the argument. I'm guessing Objectivists won't support public healthcare and would privatise the NHS. Am I right on this? why would you do it and what do you think the benifits of doing so would be?
  7. What would you have done differently to make the survey better? Do you have a set of questions in mind? The level of information about American Attitudes to Communism is very small, so I think the survey is perhaps better than nothing (though it is quite distorted and limited). Interestingly, there has been a spike in membership growth for the Democratic Socialists of American (from 6,000 to 21,000) and the Communist Party USA (up 600 members in the last two months of 2016) as a result of Trumps election. Overall, this is a very slight change and can't really be said to be a trend in the US overall because the socialist/communist left is so small, but that correspond with the shift in attitudes the survey indicates.
  8. Not a subject I know well, so bare with me... From a more leftist point of view the American Colonies and the early United States may have had the greatest level of income equality in the world. it wasn't until the late 19th century that "class" politics really came in, so its a rare instance that you can argue that liberty, equality and early modes of capitalism were aligned. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/us-income-inequality-its-worse-today-than-it-was-in-1774/262537/ (I haven't read it but) here's the original research paper: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18396.pdf The attitudes towards women's rights were also comparatively more "progressive" than they were in the late 19th century as they were much more informal and so the boundaries were less strictly regulated. This is not to say they were "equal" but it doesn't fit into crude stereotypes of "sexism" and "patriarchy". http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-216 About 9000 blacks fought on the Patriot side of the Revolution, but they also fought on the British-colonial side as well with the desire for liberty being a major factor in them participating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Americans_in_the_Revolutionary_War However, for Native Americans it was really bad news because tribes generally favoured British colonial authorities who promises limits to American territorial expansion and so supported the losing side. http://www.ushistory.org/us/13f.asp The absolutism of "the left" is very deceptive and history is often far more complex and nuanced than the weaponisation of liberal guilt for propaganda purposes. This doesn't mean that Slavery isn't a stain on Americans national conscience, but rather that simplistic narratives of imposing present day controversies and stereotypes on the past are dis-ingenious and irrational attempts to legitimate grievances. if people want to deal with present day problems- they should be talking about the present day as that is something you can change. Institutional racism by the police and the "Prison-industrial complex" do align with libertarian narratives up to a point in that it represents a violation of equality before the law, and that prison populations have exploded due to the war on drugs against a victim-less crime. Beyond legal equality and equal opportunities, its gets harder for the right to do much. Thomas Sowell (an Ex-marxist turned conservative) may be useful in shining a light academic objections to studies on institutional racism. Racism is a intellectually and emotionally difficult subject for the left because, more than likely, the author is a white suburban middle class college educated leftist whose concern with African Americans is driven by ignorance and opportunism, if not hypocrisy and even cynicism if its truly degenerate. the fact that "race" has become a popular issue doesn't mean that people understand it as part of the big picture or have viable solutions for the problem. Even for sincere egalitarians, it is dangerous pushing such narratives if they in fact perpetuates the "white man's burden" of civilising blacks as the white left must "save" blacks rather than fostering ideals of self-emancipation and individual dignity. the line between emancipation and oppression is very thin, and its as thin for the left as for anyone else so its not possible to take a clear "moral high-ground". slavery dirties everyone. the rational argument is at a minimum against hysterics but easily for an open, honest and informed discussion of the legacy of slavery and other abuses. we may be products of our own history but we are not prisoners of it. the left has its moments, but extremism is not an end in itself. whether in terms of rhetoric or violence, left-wing extremism can only be a means and it must make a rational and intellectually sound case for its own argument that can stand up to its opponents. if they can't do that- they are betraying their own ideals and revealing the insincerity and destructiveness of altruist and collectivist moralities. In so far as knowledge and truth is the legitimate basis of political power, the lefts failure to realise its own ideals benefits the right if they have better arguments and can come up with the solutions.
  9. It might be worth getting this thread moved to the "Questions of Objectivism" sub-forum and have it pinned so people can keep adding links and resources to it so there is some quick reference material available for people new to the forum. Edit: there is already a pinned thread on studying Objectivism here so maybe add this to there: btw, that's a really great selection of resources. Its especially good to see how varied it is and that its not only coming from Rand herself but from the broader Objectivist movement. I'll have to come back and read more to do it justice.
  10. The Victims of Communism memorial foundations started doing an annual survey on American's attitudes to Socialism in 2016. As its not a subject that gets much coverage, information on public attitudes is pretty sparse so I thought it would be worth sharing. here is the report: http://victimsofcommunism.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/VOC-Report-101316.pdf The raw data from YouGov is here: http://victimsofcommunism.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/VOC-Attitudes-toward-Socialism-Topline-Data.pdf As a summary here are some details of the reports findings (listed below) from the link here: http://victimsofcommunism.org/new-report-reveals-u-s-attitudes-on-socialism-communism-on-eve-of-2016-election/ Basic Knowledge of Communism is Lacking: · Approximately one in four Americans (26%) and one-third of millennials (32%) believe more people were killed under George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin; · Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of all Americans and nearly 6 in 10 (59%) of Generation Z (ages 16-20) falsely believe that more people were killed under Hitler than Stalin; · A vast majority (75%) underestimate the number of people killed by Communist regimes (more than 100 million); · Many millennials are unfamiliar with communist leaders – Mao: 42%; Guevara: 40%; Stalin: 18%; Lenin: 33%; Putin 18% · Of those millennials familiar with Vladimir Lenin, 25% have a favorable view of him Younger Americans Have Sharply Different Views of Communism and Socialism than Older Americans: · Roughly half of millennials (55%) believe Communism was and still is a problem – compared with 80% of Baby Boomers and 91% of elderly Americans; · While 57% of all Americans have a “very unfavorable” view of communism, that view is shared by just 37% of millennials and 38% of Generation Z; · 64% of Americans agreed with the classic Karl Marx statement that underpins Marxist philosophy: “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”; · Nearly half of Generation Z (45%) say they would vote for a socialist; 1 in 5 (21%) say they would vote for a communist; Turning Against Capitalism – the “Bernie Sanders Bounce”: · A majority of millennials (53%) believe America’s economic system works against them; · 4 in 10 Americans call for a “complete change” of America’s economic system to ensure highest earners pay their fair share; · 64% of elderly Americans (age 65+) held a favorable view of capitalism, versus 42% of millennials; · Younger Americans were far less likely to agree with ideas of capitalist Milton Friedman (Gen Z: 55%; millennials: 58%) than they were Bernie Sanders (Gen Z: 71%; millennials: 71%). Any Thoughts?
  11. Did Rand believe that "purpose" and "productiveness" were in conflict somehow? Or is it to do with another person's purpose becoming our own (and hence submitting to authority) through altruism?
  12. I think you could go the wrong way if you make the argument is simply "Anti-Marxist". Marxists specialise in deconstructing arguments in "critical theory" and you can't really "win" the argument with a Marxist by going negative. Its the fact that Capitalism, to one extent or another, helped bring about a middle class, free democratic societies, the rule of law and major scientific and technological advances that really counts. Its often things we take for granted and making people remember them can be useful. In the current political climate, the real battle is making a positive case for Capitalism (in the midst of the economic crisis and austerity) and Liberty (when free, democratic institutions are under attack). Marxism appeals because of its utopianism and, even with all the other layers of hatred, envy, fear, etc, its the positivity in believing human beings are connected to a bigger picture, that gives individuals significance and means they believe they can change things that really grips people. people want to matter and to make a difference, so its all about making people believe in themselves and giving them the confidence to try (then it just becomes self-reinforcing). If you want to make fanatics for Capitalism, you need to give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning other than following an anonymous routine of going to work. They need to think it matters as part of the human desire to rise above our animal state and as a source of achievement and self-worth. you give them a "bigger picture" to be part of. [edit: in marketing terms, you sell them a positive self-image based on personal growth that they can achieve and aspire to.]
  13. Ok. I wasn't 100% sure. The internet doesn't communicate the tone of comments very well. so no worries. In fairness, you're perfectly entitled to point out the inconsistencies in my post. Dialectics is a maze and its easy to get lost. The problem is in trying to come to terms with Marxism being evil and yet so very human. its very "raw" set of emotions, personal and difficult to communicate. Orwell was right when he said that in principle "the party" would go as far as to say 2+2=5 but actually re-learning how to think is a messy business. I hope that sharing the experience still have value though.
  14. Feel free to pose any question you wish and I will answer it honestly. If you want me to provide detailed sources so you know I am telling what I believe to be the truth, I will. I can't really say any more than that... *shrugs* whether you are dealing with a Marxist or not, the evidence is still the basis of any rational judgement. Not simply the person saying it.
  15. Global warming and Resource scarcity. Malthusian arguments are opposed to both centralised planning and free markets based on economic growth, so they are damaging regardless of the economic system involved.