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Xall

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  1. Salo, or the 100 days of Sodom is, I believe, the epitome of nihilism in both substance and art form. I just could not understand the critics' love of it (or anyone's for that matter). A similarly nihilistic film, but not as protruding, is The Holy Mountain (1973), which from the few moments of coherence I could gather is all about giving up your identity to become godlike. Or thereabouts.
  2. Comparing the issue to an analysis of slavery is a bad analogy. I might have spoken too fast when I said motives are irrelevant, but to further emphasize my point, when discussing the principle of an argument, you include the reasons made for or against that argument, and in this vein, they are similar. Without implying a generalization, the Federalists opposed the republic to the despotism as found in both monarchy and democracy, the latter identified by Hamilton with a number of qualities, among which was the unrestrained passions of the majority. Ayn Rand made the argument against democracy because of it being "unlimited majority rule" which is of a similar pattern to that established by Hamilton. Despite differing angles, the essence of the argument is the same, against a particular quality essential to democracy that makes it unfit as a form of government, in a society that seeks to protect individual rights. In the slave issue, when taking into account the reasons for the arguments (which you provided), it becomes immediately evident that a essential distinction arises, one that could not be overcome in harmonizing the two viewpoints into one. Ultimately, what I also referred to as non-essential was in reference to my work, as well. My goal is not a lengthy treatise that would exude every possible differentiation, but rather to show that 1. democracy is not compatible with the principle of individual rights (and cannot be consistently employed without being detrimental to them), and that 2. the republic is a better political solution than democracy in upholding and protecting said rights (and that it can be consistently employed without being detrimental to them). In my limited space I cannot afford to go very detailed on every aspect, but I do plan on touching on fundamentals. This is a point on which I will have to further reflect, because I have not entirely fleshed it out. However, I can argue the following: majority rule is an aspect of popular sovereignty. Sovereignty means ultimate authority, and the argument is made, both in politics and in theoretical defences of democracy, that it is either moral or practical (or both) to base it so. In effect, every time you hear groups of individuals or politicians defend acts that amount to violations of rights, they refer to the ultimate arbiter, which is not limited by law (i.e., it can circumvent in, in the right circumstances) or by the principle of individual rights (which they mostly regard as subservient, anyway), and which is the people, society, the 'great' majority, etc.; it is the epitome of subjectivism in politics and is regarded as the ultimate standard. It is used to defer any arguments and to justify any political action, ultimately (by which I mean that they might propose other arguments, but when those are shot down, they revert always to the same bromide). Majority rule is just the manifestation of the principle of popular sovereignty and derives wholly from it. You are right, you cannot imagine conceptually democracy without majority rule, but neither can one imagine majority rule without appeal to the sovereignty of the people/society/the majority. Not quite. Madison defined the republic (and I paraphrase) as meaning a government deriving powers from the people (but not subservient to it, as democracy necessitates), and that is administered by representation. Remember that concepts are open-ended. By no means do I attempt any revisionism and consider that the Roman Republic with other historical republics (in their context) and currently-existing ones do share, in various degrees, republican features. But Madison argued that such features do not necessarily constitute a 'genuine' (tho' I do not prefer this term) republic, and gives the examples of Holland, Venice, Poland and even England. Then, in the Federalists, you see addition, further clarification of what the concept of republic refers to. Therefore, by gaining knowledge, you would no longer say that a republic is 'a form of government where the heads of state are not hereditary', and go beyond a 'form of government where the people are represented by elected officials', to mean much more, such as 'a form of government constitutionally limited to protection of individual rights, where the principles of government, within the context of rights, are not subject to vote'. Of course, I realize I may be simplifying here and that I am not exhaustive, but I mean this as an example of subsuming new concretes under the same concept, without revising anything. You do not contradict what was already part of the concept. The last example still retains the fact that the head of state is non-hereditary and the principle of representation, they're just not essential to identifying the concept anymore. I certainly did not arbitrarily chose it and by discussing the political structures I do contend that the one of democracy is undermined by its philosophical premises, with regard to individual rights. I make note that I might err in some part of this concept-forming process, but I do not err in the direction you accuse me of. And whatever 'republics' are today, they are most definitely a mixture, in the form I have described in my previous post. Firstly, yes, that is the argument I am trying to make, in justifying that one type of structure is, in fact, best for adhering to these principles. That's why I include both the conceptualization of the republic and of democracy in relation to that of individual rights, and intend to exemplify this in the latter part of my thesis. As for your other continued argument, I do not agree. Yes, a republic is representative, and a democracy can be representative, but that is not essential to either and is definitely not basis for conflating the two under one another. On such basis you could argue that even a totalitarian state might be representative (of the pervasive culture of society, for instance) and that it might employ both democratic and republican aspects of government. But you wouldn't argue that it's either, because the fundamentals would still be different. Lastly, I do not intend to reiterate the argument from my previous post. A republic is not a species of democracy and I do not equate it with representative democracy. Certainly, you may find democratic republics in both form and substance in the real world, as per the idea of mixed systems I have described, but considering to what basic principle they would ultimately yield, they would certainly not be republics. P.S. This just occurred to me. Alternatively, an argument could be made that a 'constitutionally limited republic' is a species of 'republic', and then relate to the concept of individual rights on another basis, but in the very discrete space I possess, I believe it would only serve to muddle and obviate my goal.
  3. I'll try and address the first two objection together, and save the technical one for after. As I see it, both the Federalists and Ayn Rand argued against democracy on principle, and I contend that their differing motives are nonessential to the discussion. Thus, in that case as well as in mine, the distinction between republic and democracy is not one of form, as you assert, but one of essentials, that basically boils down to epistemology. That's why I chose to structure my dissertation in such a manner on that the conclusions hinge on epistemology, more than politics. Therefore, if you take the democracy and you start the differentiation process of conceptualization, what is the most essential characteristic you can name to set it apart from all the other forms of government? To me, it is the fundamental principle of popular sovereignty, which begs the question as to what is popular, and devolves into other extensions, such as legitimacy by majority rule and socio-political practices to sway the majority, or the largest minority into violating individual rights because it believes that the multitude, or 'might' makes right. This has been true of democracy in Ancient Greece and is true to the politics of contemporary democracies to varying degrees of implicit adherence (or explicit, in some cases). [At least that's what I understood from cross-referencing Objectivist epistemology with the first two entries here.] So in such a case you want a form of government that you can differentiate, epistemologically, from the others, by virtue of its reliance on another fundamental principle: the protection of individual rights. Of course, you could make such a term up (like Dahl did with polyarchy) to replace 'republic' but, that's not really valid and it doesn't take you anywhere. Indeed, looking back at Ancient Rome, a republic was a form of government merely only to formalize a distinction vis a vis the system of the recently deposed kings, thus, monarchy. But because political concepts were limited (by which I mean to say, less extensive than nowadays) back then, even 'democracy' in Greece, the concept, open-ended as it is, could accrue a different understanding in a more extensive context. And that's what I contend, that some of the individuals involved in the creation of the United States and its constitution had in mind, because they too were faced with a choice against monarchy. So they extended the concept of republic, they defined it by a different essential characteristic, which is limited government placed under objective law, and in consideration with [or to?] the fact that this is so because, in politics, no principle supersedes that of individual rights and therefore no action can be taken, lawfully, in such regard. Furthermore, in her treatment of politics, Ayn Rand focused more on a social system, and therefore capitalism. But in her (relative) few references to form of government, I think that her normative definition of government and subsequent references identifies with, though not explicitly, the concept of republic as was used in the foundation of the US. At least, that's what Peikoff explicitly argues in his lectures on Objectivism and in Ominous Parallels, both of whose content Miss Rand had no problem with. So that is also where I'm trying to go with this connection between Objectivism and republic, and consistent with my epistemological argument above, I do not agree with you that the relationship between democracy and republic is a species-genus one. In the same way you may have a capitalist society and a collectivist society, and also a mixed society, just because the mixed society borrows from one while upholding another does not mean that you can make capitalism a species of collectivism or viceversa. And in so conceptualizing republic, I do mean that to be consistent with itself it must, first and foremost, safeguard individual rights. To paraphrase another poster from the forum, even a constitution couldn't stop individuals from changing it and rendering it and whatever principles it upholds obsolete, and so, despite using a normative definition of the republic, I do not hint at an utopian 'no rights will be violated in a republic' view. Then again, based on that, you can still have a republic even if you/the government infringes on rights, just that it wouldn't be a consistent one and with repetition it could stop being so, because the context will have changed (in the same manner the capitalism of the 19th century stopped being so). So in that respect, I wouldn't say that a republic doesn't violate rights because I don't want it to, to fit into my framework nice and tidy, but to continue being a republic, as a consistent form of government, then it mustn't. Therefore my point hinges more on concept formation than anything else and brings to mind the similar example to when you try to have an epistemological argument about the temperature at which water boils and one party continuously modifies the composition of the water so he may show relativity in knowledge, when in fact what you end up with is no longer water, in the first place, so its not applicable. In regards to your technical issue, the matter of representation is widely discussed in political science and, of course ), there are a lot of differing viewpoints. What makes most sense to me is the argument that an elected official for a given circumscription (electoral district), despite being elected by a majority (or a plurality), must, as the duty of his office, represent the whole district, all the individuals, to the best of his ability. It is, however, a very large and nested discussion, and even if he does not, then really that is not an issue with the "structure", but rather with whom runs, and, more importantly, who elects. Really really far along this argument it does boil down to a certain political culture, but that's beside the point. As to the other aspects, yes, they are arbitrary, because they're are applications made far from the principles and you can only determine at first to a fault. It is more a trial and error approach in that regard. And the aspect of a constitution that regulates such matters is no exception. That's why when you approach the formation of a constitution, in constitutional law, as in political science, you could either mention the principles by which government is instituted and no further, or, based on previous experiences, try (and possibly err) to, as objectively as possible, make provisions based on those principles and either hope you got it reasonably right, or you have some stipulations to modify those aspects in an easier manner. There's no really a one approach to this matter, as the variables are immense (and if I saw rightly on this forum, a much more heated debate was sparked by the issue of arbitrary speed regulations on private roads). There is nothing more I can add to this.
  4. You have some valid points and I concede that I will need to correct the perspective regarding the Founding Fathers's decision, to make it clearer, but also keeping it relevant to my point. Furthermore, the concept of republic was introduced in an opaque manner and I intend to correct that by giving it and the relationship between it and individual rights and democracy more space, both in the introduction and the first section, dealing with conceptualization (where I will also argue the compatibility of the republic with individual rights). However, as far as contextualization for the pre-Constitutional US era, I found little to no reference that democracy was a major factor of contention. Rather, from my knowledge, the aspect was more one of federalism, and anyway the endeavour would be far from the purpose of the work. In regards to the relationship between democracy and the republic, I argue from the same perspective as the Federalists and Ayn Rand did, on matter of principle. Thus, as Nicky pointed out, a republic is limited by rule of law, despite the fact that it employs the democratic method in some areas (the election of officials and in their deliberation on matters of proper government). On the other hand, the concept of democracy allows for no such limitation, and democracies nowadays submit (occasionally) to rule of law and principle only in such a measure that the balance between individual rights and majority passions isn't upset too much in detriment to the former. Despite sometimes operating like a republic, a democracy, because it subscribes to popular sovereignty as to a fundamental absolute, can be consistent with itself and violate individual rights, which makes life under such a form of government problematic (again, depends on degree of mixture), leading to such effects as popularity contests between elected officials and those that wish to become so to for how to best spend 'public' money, effectively patronizing majority whims; competition between groups of individuals that are beneficiaries of such acts, in what could be summed up as "the tyranny of the biggest minority" (which I also consider an aspect of democracy); and, in some cases, popular courts, just to name a few. In my view, a republic cannot get away with such a thing, because it must uphold individual rights if it is to be consistent with itself, while the argument of democracy can be simply summed up: "but it's what the people want!", whilst in disconsideration [is this not a proper word?] for context. It can do so either directly or through representatives, so the form matters not. That is, at least, how I intend to structure my argument. As for the authors you mentioned, Hoppe might be useful in the same manner I shall employ von Mises in helping to establish a proper context for some concepts, but a quick wikipedia look on Mencken revealed no major points that I can use without clogging down on discourse. Even so, I must mention two external factors in the realization of the dissertation. First, I chose (only) 3 major theorists on democracy, because even if the public isn't so much acquainted with them in Europe, at least some of the academia have a consistent good regard for at least one of them (depends on how they also favour Anglo-Saxon political thought; I had the benefit of only one such professor in 5 years, so not much was spent on that topic, beyond classical democracy and radical democracy, that would take me beyond my purpose anyhow). Second, most of the details you point out would be quite pleasant to research and to analyze given a wider work, but my paper is limited to 60 pages (called 'optimum length') and not that many theoretical perspectives can be cramped into such short a space. What I structured, even, is going beyond the narrow scope my coordinator advised me and I am really trying not to treat this like a PhD dissertation. Nevertheless, I appreciate your feedback and thank you for the contribution.
  5. Such as I did with my BA thesis here, but this time prior to the actual defence of the paper, I submit here for peer review the introduction to my MA dissertation, titled The Analysis of a Flawed Concept: Democracy, or the Antithesis to Individual Rights. At the advice of my academic coordinator, I integrated the Objectivist theoretical framework into my analysis, considering that Europeans are not at all familiar with who Ayn Rand is or what she wrote, perhaps outside remarks from liberal publications that they happen to read every now and then. At her suggestion I was more than happy to oblige, since my courses this year have been nothing but going back and forth between theories expounding a highly subjectivist epistemology (poststructuralism considerably has drawn my yawns, but I'm more eager to finish Windschuttle's book). I think I needn't mention the ever-present Marxist rallies of students in Belgium that have some of the most hilarious slogans. I would like to make a note that the introduction is still a draft, as I have some elements I have not included for stylistic considerations or simply because it is too early and I expect to further develop and elaborate the paper before polishing up the introduction. Also, this is my first time writing formally about Objectivism after reading all I could put my hands on (I still haven't started For the New Intellectual and I still sift through ItOE for clarifications on some points more often than not), and therefore would welcome any pertinent criticism to both form and content as I believe it could mostly improve. Thank you. Draft Intro.pdf
  6. In the meanwhile I have found the journals and have re-titled my dissertation "The Analysis of a Flawed Concept: Democracy, or the Antithesis to Individual Rights", which seeks an approach to democracy (both to the concept and its referents) starting from Ayn Rand's theory of concepts and ethics. As such I have decided to focus only on one piece of legislation that would allow me to represent the (probably, also) democratic adage of "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" and I was wondering if the recently passed bill concerning Obamacare would show such a violation of individual rights by appeal to majority needs.
  7. Xall

    Why is murder wrong?

    Because man possesses the faculty of reason which makes the concept of right possible.
  8. Same idea could be extended to [more] secular philosophies, Existentialism, Hedonism, Stoicism, Positivism, or cultural trends, Romanticism, Modernism, Dadaism, etc. I think this makes the point clear.
  9. I didn't know where else to post this since my original message got buried somewhere in the member-writing section. I was wondering if anyone knows a few important decisions based on the democratic principle (majority rules, or the largest minority, in some cases) that have had powerful and visible effects in violating individual rights and have been documented as such (news articles and research journals), in the past 20-30 years in the United States. Specifically, I'm looking for pieces of legislation because I don't suppose court decisions count as being democratic in the sense of unlimited majority rule. Beforehand I was thinking of The Patriot Act and Obamacare because of their violation of individual rights, but I'm not entirely clear on their democratic inception. Furthermore, I remembered there was a post on the forum that linked to some journals where academics submit articles influenced by Objectivism, and I am interested in buying some access to those. If anyone of you can point me in the right direction, I'd much appreciate it.
  10. Since I have switched universities, my new academic coordinator found my interest in Ayn Rand appealing and suggested I approached the subject of democracy/modern polity from her perspective since in Europe there aren't that many academics who have read her and even fewer that have written in regards to Objectivism. To this effect I was wondering if some of you, as native Americans, can help me by pointing out 2-3 major pieces of federal or state legislation in the past 20-30 years that have been passed by appealing to majority benefits while at the same time severely impacting negatively individual rights. Oh and, I remembered there was a post on the forum that linked to some journals where academics submit articles influenced by Objectivism, and I am interested in buying some access to those, if one of you can point me in the right direction. Thanks
  11. Xall

    In Time

    Moreover, quite inconsistently lacking in quality, compared to other Andrew Niccol movies. If you expect the exploration of the subject Gattaca style, you will be surely disappointed.
  12. Perhaps not contrasting them directly, but a case for a republic, such as that made in The Federalist Papers would be more than welcome. I agree with your subsequent two paragraphs, however I do not intend to present them as in a dichotomy from where you have to "choose". And specifically the democratic discourse incorporating liberal concepts as well as others I wish to analyze, in contrast to the underlying democratic paradigm. That no matter how free you are, once you allow fundamentals to be ruled by the whim of the many, it all starts going bad pretty soon. Of course, there can be direct democracies which are republics and nevertheless protect individual rights, despite their democratic methods, better than other republics which lean more towards democratic populism, so to say. The methods for various concretes of course, will always have to be made by democratic means, in a free society (I would argue Switzerland functions better as a protector of rights than France, despite its more democratic paradigm). But as Ayn Rand said (paraphrasing here), you cannot hold the right to life of the individual to a vote (or any other fundamental rights that she made specifically clear in Capitalism: The Unknown ideal). My point is not to be made against the methods, but against the rhetoric and what it underlines specifically, that by popular pressure, "democratic ideals" can be achieved without paying attention to the upholding of rights, yet still bring about disaster. Case in point, Hungary that is on a very authoritarian path specifically because those in power, bolstered by the democratic popular support of over 66% thought they could just rearrange the Constitution to their whim and make the rights of the individual subject to arbitrary change (not even debate, in this case).
  13. I appreciate the listing of authors (I already had some peripheral knowledge of Chomsky) for the democratic perspective, but I am trying to find works on the merits of a republic vs. democracy, which are quite fewer of as I gather...the case for democracy has been thoroughly grounded in theories of democracy and new democratic tendencies in the scientific literature, of which I have more than enough sources to last me this research; what I am trying to provide is a case against "the rule by numbers" and using the republic as a political system that properly defends the rights of the individual.
  14. Thank you, however it was my mistake that I hadn't made it clear originally I intend to use classical works (as in pre-20th century), and the Federalist Papers are most definitely on my list, but I was thinking of something more recent, because I also want to tackle the development of the republic - democracy relationship throughout the last century.
  15. I would like to ask if anyone has any knowledge of essays/articles/books on the distinction between Republic and Democracy. There are some entries on capitalismmagazine.com, but I'm looking for something more substantial on which to base a work arguing for a rights-respecting political system, rather than a whimsical, cliche-filed concept of democracy. Thanks.
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