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Gabriel

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  1. Here are a few of Nietzsche's quotes. Tell me if he remind you of someone. - "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - "All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses." - "All sciences are now under the obligation to prepare the ground for the future task of the philosopher, which is to solve the problem of value, to determine the true hierarchy of values." - "Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive." - "Egoism is the very essence of a noble soul." - "Faith: not wanting to know what is true." - "Great indebtedness does not make men grateful, but vengeful; and if a little charity is not forgotten, it turns into a gnawing worm." - "In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point." - "Judgments, value judgments concerning life, for or against, can in the last resort never be true: they possess value only as symptoms, they come into consideration only as symptoms - in themselves such judgments are stupidities. "
  2. First of all, I must say that I decided I was wrong in my earlier posts on mixed economics. My error was that I was generalizing the problems of transitions to the entire system. I now realize that the problems I was thinking of aren't of capitalism itself, but rather the side-effect of switching from a mixed/communist economy to capitalism. What do you think to be the minimum percentage of the population supporting a capitalist economy before it can be enacted? Can a small group of 'founding fathers' put forward a capitalist constitution and then back it up with the force of the millitary? In Romania, 50+ years of communism have 'bred' 2-3 generations of people unable to think in any other way than a collectivist one. They learned a simple trade, like blacksmithing, and then expect/demand the state to supply them with a job, a 'decent pay', a pension and free healthcare. Take for instance the miners, which came and vandalized the capital, Bucharest, to protest reforms and to beat up supporters of reforms or even anyone looking intellectual. The police failed to stop them, so at their last attempt to come to Bucharest the army had to block the road with tanks to stop them. Some workers on strike, protesting the privatisation of their state-owned bankrupt enterprise came up with a slogan which will make you understand: "We work, we don't think!" Considering the realities of such a country, what is there to be done? The current politicians sloowly steer the country towards a social-democratic system as those of western europe, but even these mild, mixed-economy-friendly measures are fought intensively. Is capitalism a viable option if it implies the death, in time or sudden of more than 75% of the population? (we can wait for these generations to die of old age, wait for them to get killed by the police when they turn to vandalism and mob-rule or let them starve because they're unable to feed themselves in capitalism) Considering that capitalism is no where in sight during my lifetime, is it rational to claim that it is my ideal political system? It IS in my nature, but reality contradicts it in my case, so, contextually, I shouldn't even be thinking of capitalism, right? I want to hear your thoughts on transition to capitalism and selfishness in a context such as mine! (Before you ask, getting out of Romania is not a realistic option at this time)
  3. By reading the replies to one of my previous threads, I started thinking about the proper role of charisma and other non-verbal form of communication. You could say that it's a matter of sense-of-life applied to mood, demeanor and language. For people holding happiness and their highest purpose, Objectivists project a distinct 'aura' of unhappiness and discontent, largely through non-verbal cues. (we're already discussing verbal/explicit attitudes in the other thread) I remember that the most succesful teachers in school (both succesful in teaching their students and in gaining the full attention and respect they deserved) were very whitty, easy going and overall projecting an image of self-suficiency and relaxation. Don't get me wrong, these were people of great principles, but they managed to not be bitter about the flaws of the people around them, and try to guide them without throwing their jugements around, like slaps. Even though there's certainly a time and place for the 'no-nonsense serious' look, I think that it's over-used in Objectivist circles, so o-ists end up seen as bitter, vindictive, arrogant, dogmatic and self-defeating. It's an image problem. I'm all for 'Judge and prepare to be judged', but when expressing a judgement it makes little sense to do so in a spiteful and negative manner, especially if these nuances are non-verbal. I'm used to being called a 'fool', or otherwise treated unpolitely, in O-ist circled, but that's just because I know how to interpret it. Very seldom did I find someone who corrected or engaged me in a helpful or respectful manner. Most of the time you get spitefulness or an otherwise bad attitude/vibe. Is such resentment towards the society at large a manadatory trait of Objectivism?
  4. It's a matter of form AND content, not form VS content. You're fighting a double battle: one, a battle for concepts, and another battle so that people accept those concepts in YOUR language. As far as I understand, if a person starts evaluating the world through an objectivist perspective, a re-evaluation of language is a natural result, therefore there should be more ephasis on the message and less on the package. For instance, there are very few objectivist comedians, because Ayn Rand said that one must be serious when discussing philosophical or political issues. This even though humor has been one of the most powerful weapons against ignorance. The list can continue, but the commitment to a single form of presentation is keeping objectivism back. Just my opinion.
  5. There are certain words, such as 'morality', 'moral/immoral', 'evil', etc. that have a powerful unconscious negative/discomfort 'load', due to their miss-use and tarnishing by different religious groups or otherwise sadistic weirdos. These words have become extremly caricaturized in contemporany society. For example, if I listen to a speech of dr. Peikoff and he frequently uses these words that create psychological discomfort for the audience, some of his message gets lost, and some people might even end up disliking him (or rather disliking his presence, not his ideas). These words have a powerul emotional conotation of disconform and are usually associated with bad memories of being chastized or something simillar, therefore the audience is, psychologically, on the defensive even if the topic does not apply to them. I think that this is the number 1 cause of why Objectivism has been compared and misidentified as a cult or pseudo-religion, because of its extensive use of 'discomfort words', something lacking in a vast majority of the other ethics theories, even the more 'aggresive' ones. From my experience, the most powerful change that Objectivists could make in their private and public lifes is to keep the message but speak in the language of the audience, that is, to use words with positive emotional conotations, which are more likely to support the message than disrupt it. I am aware that Ayn Rand was very precise of her choice in words, the most memorable example for me being her defence of 'selfishness' at the begining of 'The Virtue of Selfishness', but I personally think this is one point she is wrong on. An interesting experiment would be to take an ARI Op-Ed and 'translate' it into a more friendly language, which would be less likely to be mistaken as over-demonizing some people and over-evaluating the value of others, simply on an emotional level, due to the verbiage.
  6. In my discussions with varied people I find that all of them claim to be rational, in other words that they are both logical and in harmony with the facts of reality (that their logic is 100% attached to reality). Out of the more extreme cases, I've seen Marxists calling themselves 'rational', Christians doing it too and many weirder ones. What would be a good word to describe Objectivism's view on rationality? And to keep this concept on a metaphysical/epistemological level? I mean, I could make refference to capitalism, and so forth, but what I'm looking for is a word that means 'rationality, as objectivism sees it'. Being a non-objectivist myself, and dealing 99.99% of the time with non-objectivists, I'd like to have a way of easily referencing the objectivist concept of rationality. So, can you think of a word or phrase?
  7. I am familiar with Ayn Rand's ethics and other branches of philosophy. I don't agree with her on certain issues, such as the universal, self-imposed ban on force. I'm trying to discuss and clarify these issues, therefore I post here. If board moderators consider my questions to be unappropriate, for one reason or another, I can always be banned, so please let's try discussing the issue and not my motivation for bringing it up. Let me clarify my point, succintelly: - Different people have different skills and therefore will choose different paths to obtain that which they desire. - Most skills and/or personality and psychology types are compatible with capitalism. Other skills are incompatible with capitalism, namely they are incompatible with the ban on force and fraud. - If an individual has to choose between going into professional politics power-brokering and a management job in the private sector, he should choose the job which is best for him, according to his nature. I am certain that an accomplished conversationalist, with an uncanny insight into human nature and born into a family which provides him with adequate 'political pull' would be better off doing something which Objectivism declares ought to be immoral and illegal, than squander his natural talents on a management job. Happiness is only possible if we express our talents and obtain the best profit from life. Why should someone who would be happier as a criminal sacrifice his happiness so that you can have your capitalism? Some people are better of as accomplished con artists, politicians, media manipulators, and yes, even members of organized crime. I'm sure that there are lesser 'moral' equivalents for these talents such as jobs in the military or as bodyguards or whatnot, but the question remains? Why should some people sacrifice their happiness and potential so that you can have capitalism? Here's a case of conflict between interests.
  8. I think we all agree that the focus of the lives of most people is the procurement of desired goods and services. In practice, goods can be obtained through production or trade. Professional politicians, the kind you meet in all western states today, are, from this perspective, traders of popularity and pull. They trade popularity because that's the main capital/raw material of their trade. It is their main concern to appeal to the most people, ideally to the most powerful, and to do so in way that is safe from the perspective of their life-long carrer in politics. Therefore, the chief aim of the skilled politician is 2 fold: first, to obtain decision positions in the public sector, and secondly, to secure the political support/pull and/or votes to attain higher positions in the State's hierarchy. Much like in a Karl Popper-esque debate, the fact that truth sides with one group or another is irrelevant, since a politicians has more chances to a prosperous life by selling the illusion of truth than truth itself. We regard politicians as master con-artists, because we perceive them via the condescending moral superiority of production. But simply because production is mandatory for survival, that doesn't make it otherwise superior to other means of attaining valuables. The question I'd like to ask you is this: Why should one person who would make a particularly succesful and gifted politician, repress in himself this skill and instead try to shoe-horn himself into a mediocre production job? Is that really self-interest? If one is knowleagable in matters of human nature, politics and manipulation, why should he feel ashamed of his nature? My "larger" theory is that the Objectivist view of universal self-interest as expressed in laissez-faire capitalism is not best for everyone. I do agree that there are certain people who are best suited for life in capitalism, but I do also think that capitalism can be a disaster for a large portion of the population, from the perspective of their self-interest. At this point, I'm equating self-interest with survival and material prosperity. I see no reason to expect self-interest to any other kind of 'ethical considerations'. 'Man's survival qua man', but not all men are the same, therefore, all with which we are left is 'survival'. 'Qua man' is too contextual for anything other than individual/particular considerations.
  9. Lately, I've been considering the role of the state. I'd like to share with you a scenario I've been examining: Let's say that CountryA starts subsidizes 55% of the cost of producing cars, therefore car manufacturers in CountryA can afford to cut prices with up to 50% Let us also supose, for clarity, that CountryA only exports cars to CountryB. CountryB is also a manufacturers of cars. There are 2 likely scenarios: 1) According to laissez-faire economics, the state of CountryB has no business intervening in import/export matters, therefore it will let the market realign itself: Car manufacturers in CountryB are unable to compete with the much cheaper products imported from CountryA, therefore they declare bankrupcy, their entire staff is fired and all their industrial equipment is sold abroad very cheaply, due to the influx of such equipment on the market. Basically, due to market condition, all car production shifts to CountryA, while the workers from CountryB retrain themselves for new jobs, emigrate or turn to crime. 2) The second choice is for the state of CountryB to have a protectionist/mixed economy reaction and increase import tarrifs to match, or excede, the price drop generate by CountryA's subsidizing. In this case, the scenario goes a little differently: The car manufacturing industry of CountryB will be protected and stable, but citizens of CountryB won't benefit from cheaper cars they would have otherwise got. CountryA's answer is to either drop the subsidizing, because it is unprofitable if sales cannot be boosted by exports, or match the tarrifs of CountryB and start a trade war. Considering this scenario, I'm not interested in the behaviour of CountryA's government, whose initial subsidies generated this situation. I'm interested in CountryB state's best response, considering its role. If the citizens of CountryB are agreeing with the Objectivist theory of the State, then they'll only require the state to protect their individual rights and not intervene in matters of economics. In this case, the results are: cheaper cars, on short term, at least until the indigenous industry goes bankrupt, a few thousand people unemployed, a statistical rise in crime and social upheaval and a major loss of capital in that country due to the selling of industrial equipment at low prices. If the citizens of CountryB are adhering to the mixed economy principles, according to which the role of the state is to provide a safety net againt social upheaval and extrem variation in living condition between individual and in time, then the results are as follows: The citizens of CountryB won't get cheapers cars. The car industry of CountryB won't go bankrupt. The situation is basically the same. We should also consider that the use of tarrifs doesn't imply any bugetary issues, since the government of CountryB doesn't have to divert funds to impose these tarrifs, therefore no tax payer money is used. The only thing which the citizens of CountryB are loosing is the opportunity to get cheaper cars, at least while the gov. of CountryA keeps its subsidies. Free market theory supports the idea that companies should fight it out, on the market, and let customers, prices and individual rights and decision generate the outcome. Unfortunatelly, when the state supports one particular company or groups of companies, the other companies are unlikely to survive. In an Objectivist state, the gov. won't be able to offer special treatment, due to constitutional restraits (if only they'd work), but how are citizens of capitalist state deal with foreign states supporting foreign businesses? Should the state be able to impose tarrifs and subsidies, to counter simillar foreign measures or even use them as bargaining tools? Would you give up some of your individual rights so that your local car industry doesn't go bankrupt, living much of your community in turmoil? In other words, would you pay for social stability? Is that a value for you? Is it in one's best interest, from an individualisting perspective, to adhere to a state where your taxes buy you not only protection for basic individual rights, but also a minimal safety net, so you can pursuit different interests in life without the constanty wory that the arbitrary decision of a collectivist state can ruin you? I haven't reached a conclusion on this issue, but I'm starting to lean towards minimal state intervention, only to prevent major social catastrophies, such as the collapse of entire regions or industries. I do understand that this might imply the violation of the rights of the other citizens, but this is only true if they don't agree with the policy of mixed economy. Much in the same way we use the state for collective millitary protection, could we profit from a state which is also concerned with collective economical protection? Is there a way for the private sector to address the issue of trade wars, without state intervention, and still follow market behaviour?
  10. We've previously discussed my disgust for today's politics, and their root in the mob-rule nature of decision-making. The thread was Sick Republics but no one could come up with an alternative which won't jeapardise individual rights even more. A few days ago I was thinking that if I were ever to apply for citizenship in any country, I'd most likely be taking a citizenship test and I'd have to have been living 5+ years in that country. This struck me as both a good measure, and a double standard. Children born on the teritory og one nation are instantly considered citizen of that country, without having them making any thing of contractual agreement with the state (in some cases, they are expected to get drafted, etc., without having agreeded to it) I think that the citizenship test should be extended to ALL future citizens, so that everyone who gets a vote has basic knowledge of the structure and proper role of government, according to the constitution. I see this test as having 3 separate, independent stages: 1) Starting at 14, following an IQ test and a basic quiz about citizen rights and duties, teens would be able to get a small degree of basic rights, such as being able to get a driving license, to get a passport of this country, etc., with parent still holding only legal VETO power. Those who do not pass this test are treated by the state as children, in their parents custody, until they manage to pass the test. If they are severly mentally retarded, then they preserve their status quo. 2) Starting at 18, following an updated IQ test and medium-difficulty test about governments, individual rights and law, the person would get full citizenship, except voting, and obtail full legal independence from his parents. 3) Starting at 18, all persons which succesfully take a serious test on the constitution and which are declared sane of mind, and are not on welfare, would be able to vote in local and central/federal elections. Basically, what this means is that only those people with an average or good understaing of the current constitution would get a vote, only if they are sane, and only if they are not on welfare. Being on welfare, requesting and accepting is synonimous with accepting your failure at living and requiring the state's handout to survive. In this situation, one should not be able to control the state which feeds him (a conflict of interest, of a sort). Of course, 99% of this scheme would be useless in a trully 100% laissez-faire capitalist state, but since no such state exist, I think that such as approch would severly limit political whoring to the masses and other populist endeavours, by limiting decision power only to those capable of understanding the issues at hand and the current laws. I know that this might sound draconian, or it would invite abuse towards the 'lower citizenship ranks', but it's the only compromise I can think of, between dictatorship, technocracy, mob-rule and anarchy. I'm not suggesting that only capitalists, republicans and objectivists would be allowed to vote, but that only the people who understand voting could do it.
  11. I'm really happy with the arguments put forward on my previous thread, on the spartans. A very important character in history, which has a very bad reputation these days, is Napoleon. I think that he is one of the most rational rulers of europe during that century. Even though he use nationalism extensively, mostly for propaganda, I think that his most important legacy is his commitment to the entablishment of constitutions. He is also a good example of individual achievement, especially in a day and age when religion, nationality and royalty were extremly important. His rise to power and life-affirming politics of social building, establishment of a secular law system and his attempt at miltarly securing his reign are all admirable. Most of his detractors claim that he is a selfish butcher who needlessly waged destructive wars against anyone he pleased. What's your oppinion? Was Napoleon a good influence on Europe's development? Were his additions to laws and social customs valuable? Was his military career an irrational whim for conquest and looting, or a valid war of self-defence, motivated by the desire of securing stability in Europe?
  12. All "democracies" today are actually republics... citizens don't choose on particular issue, but rather they choose representatives to choose for them, every 4 years or so. Here in Romania, we have parliamentary, local and presidential elections comming up, and I'm sickened by the whoring of the candidates to each and every group or faction or power broker. The debate is free from any actual ideological content, being just about a random bunch of floating opinions on concrete issues: if I were mayor, I would first repave the 5th street, etc. (Road quality is a major issue here, so instead of putting together a coherent plan, based on privatisation and free market contract auctions, candidates squander on trying to please particular groups) The republic system is sick and stupid. Even in the US and/or Europe... politics has long since taken over trivial concerns such as ... I don't know... making sense, or otherwise dealing with reality. Politics today is just an orgy or power-squabling, whim-worshipping, mindless populist propaganda and appeal to pseudo-authorities. No one is *even thinking* or speaking about the proper role of the state... their only concern is to look capable of favoring most people, when they get hold of those lucrative governmental taxation and spendings. I don't know how any right minded individual, let alone an Objectivist, would support what today is called democracy/republic! I don't have any simple answers, but as far as I can tell, the objectivist vision of a minimal state is in contradiction to the mod-rule of democracy/republic. I think that the best state we can have right now is a form of parliamentary technocracy, where specialists have the final word in their fields, free from political interventionism, and all top specialits would meet in a parliament-like assembly to discuss common issues. I'd rather have economists take economic decisions, have stem cell researchers decide where their reseach should take them, etc. What's your thoughts on the sick and sad world of politics?
  13. I'd tought that it would be interestring to reevaluate historical events and characters through an Objectivist perspective. I really think that this brings into concrete focus many of the issues of ethics and politics we discuss, sometimes, at a very abstract level. I'd like to start with the Battle of Thermopylae, of 480BC. Mostly, I'm interested in your evaluation of Sparta and spartan behaviour, the paradox of fierce warriors whose entire value system was a form of social-metaphysics. Contemporany historians categorize Thermopylae as a classic example of self-sacrifice and collectivism. Some claim that, in fact, the Spartan where what we'd call whim-worshipers, because their behaviour was determined by their internalized need to apear as being brave, the only criteria for social consideration. What do you think? What is Sparta's relation with reason? (even in an Athenian sense) Was their behaviour at Termopylae selfless or selfish? What would an Objectivist general and/or army do when faced with a numerically superior army? If you think that the decision of the Spartans to stand their ground, to their deaths, was misguided, does it matter that it was the same decision that anyone unwilling to live in slavery would make?
  14. As a foreign english speaker, I always suspected that I'm somewhat missing some of the "texture" of certain texts. Even if Ayn Rand was herself a non-native speaker, she took time to explore and experiment with english constructs. What does "Who is John Galt?" mean to me? I'd have to say that he's as expression of man's archetype-like image of the productive, rational, life-affirming hero. When people used it in Atlas Shrugged, they doubted their own productivity, rationality, etc. John Galt is different from the rest of the characters in that he's more of a wisedom guide, he's an example of what Jung called a `mana` archetype (one's internal image of wisedom, personified) John Galt is NOT a Jesus-like figure, but rather an aspect of all of us, which we cultivate in different degrees. We're all in part John Galt because we're all, in part of fully, engaged in reality, production and reason. From another psychological perspective, John Galt also seem to be closest to that cognitive psychologists and some existentialist ones call `the actualized man`, the integrated man, not a perfect man, but a man without self-defeating inner conflicts. One of his most important traits is his confortability with himself and his choices. But unlike other traditions advocating this kind of inner peace and actualization (budhism, etc), he does it without giving up on the world, but instead he has a very realistic grasp of it. So, who is john galt? He's that part of you who makes things work, who puts ideas together and then into practice, your inner `enginner` (at a level larger than strictly technical) Disclaimer: this is 100% my view. Objectivists might dissagree
  15. Well, if you're thinking about something, you ARE thinking about it, so you should try to keep your toughts true to reality. Most of the time, you'll be thinking about other things than your current behaviour (driving, doing repetitive work, etc.) So, during that time you're not thinking about your behaviour. You could call that irrational behaviour. If you're asking if there are certain topics or issues one shouldn't reason about, then the answer is no, as far as I'm concerned. Once you are thinking about something, you ought to do it rationally. On the other hand, you must understand that your entire existence is based on your desire to live, and that this desire doesn't require any rational or moral justification, it is the root of any rationality and morality. (But that's just me talking, Ayn Rand might dissagree)
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