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Libertarian Party

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For me it is.  Sorry you feel otherwise.  Vote for Bush.  Vote however you want to.  I'm sure you'll get the kind of government you deserve.

Are you aware that the last Libertarian candidate for president -- whom you presumably sanctioned with your vote -- explicitly states that rights are a divine gift from god?

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Huh?  What do you mean?  Rand was a great writer and thinker.  I agree with everything I ever read in any of her books (I haven't read them all, but I only missed one or two), and nearly everything she wrote or said anywhere else.  But if you think that means she was incapable of error, that's a premise you need to check.

You claimed to find the statement ludicrous. I would define a ludicrous statement as one that was completely without reason (absurd, nonsensical). I have never found Miss Rand to make a ludicrous statement.

Here is what Ayn Rand actually wrote in regard to libertarians plagiarizing her ideas:

The layman's error, in regard to philosophy, is the tendency to accept consequences while ignoring their causes—to take the end result of a long sequence of thought as the given and to regard it as "self-evident" or as an irreducible primary, while negating its preconditions. Examples can be seen all around us, particularly in politics. There are liberals who want to preserve individual freedom while denying its source: individual rights. There are religious conservatives who claim to advocate capitalism while attacking its root: reason. There are sundry "libertarians" who plagiarize the Objectivist theory of politics, while rejecting the metaphysics, epistemology and ethics on which it rests. That attitude, of course, is not confined to philosophy: its simplest example is the people who scream that they need more gas and that the oil industry should be taxed out of existence.

Given your premise that this statement is ludicrous, do you agree with her assessment of liberals and conservatives? If so, how could she be correct about those two political groups and so incorrect (to the point of absurdity) about libertarians?

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The particular statement you quoted wasn't what I was referring to. In and of itself I have no quarrel with it; there certainly are (and I'm sure there were then) some libertarians who did exactly what she accused them of. (There were, and are, also quite a few who ground their politics firmly in Objectivist philosophy.) But I recall her claiming that the Libertarian Party was "stealing my ideas without giving me credit" (this is almost certainly a paraphrase, as I'm working solely from memory). Since at the time the largest (about the size of The Fountainhead) and most widely-circulated pronouncement from the LP was Hospers' book, and since that book acknowledged Rand in more footnotes than I could count, I did consider her charge, yes, ludicrous.

BTW, did that quote from The Ayn Rand Letter come from an online source? I missed a lot of those letters when they originally came out, and would like to read them if they're collected online somewhere.

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The particular statement you quoted wasn't what I was referring to. In and of itself I have no quarrel with it; there certainly are (and I'm sure there were then) some libertarians who did exactly what she accused them of. (There were, and are, also quite a few who ground their politics firmly in Objectivist philosophy.) But I recall her claiming that the Libertarian Party was "stealing my ideas without giving me credit" (this is almost certainly a paraphrase, as I'm working solely from memory). Since at the time the largest (about the size of The Fountainhead) and most widely-circulated pronouncement from the LP was Hospers' book, and since that book acknowledged Rand in more footnotes than I could count, I did consider her charge, yes, ludicrous.

I don't think when Ayn Rand ever implied that libertarians "steal her ideas without giving her credit". I think what she meant was they used her ideas, attributed them to her, but dropped the context on which they were based on. The problem with the LP as a whole is that there are too many different types of people, many with conflicting philosophies, that all fit under the LP's giant umbrella of "freedom". Anarchists, violent separatists, drug addicts, transhumanists, and true capitalists cannot really be grouped together under one political party.

BTW, did that quote from The Ayn Rand Letter come from an online source?  I missed a lot of those letters when they originally came out, and would like to read them if they're collected online somewhere.

I quoted it from Objectivism Research CD-ROM, available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore. It contains virtually all of Ayn Rand's writings and OPAR and Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff. It is an absolutely amazing value at $60 :D.

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"Say you're in prison, and you've got a 50% chance of death by lethal injection, a 45% chance of the electric chair, and a 5% chance of escape.  Would you vote for Lethal Injection simply because that is the most likely outcome?" - Michael Badnarik

I highly doubt that anybody here decides who they will vote for based on which candidate is most likely to win. If that were the case, the decision would be easily made by looking at opinion polls. Whoever the majority of Americans supported would be the proper candidate.

Stephen Cox put it well in a Liberty magazine article which came out around the last election. He pointed out that, even to Libertarians, the ability to win must be an essential attribute when endorsing a candidate. He said that if the ability to win wasn't essential, and that only a candidate's ideas should be considered, then he would have voted for Milton Friedman. Instead, he voted for Bush. Libertarians as well must consider the ability to win to be important, even if they won't admit it. If not- why did they vote for Michael Badnarik instead of writing in Ron Paul's name or Lew Rockwell's name, or somebody who represents them more closely?

"If you tell yourself 'I guess I'll vote for the lesser of two Evils', no matter who wins you still end up with Evil." - Michael Badnarik

That's kind of ironic. In this quote, Badnarik's focus is on what you "end up with" when you vote a certain way. He seemed to be opposed to this line of reasoning. What did you end up with when you voted for Badnarik? How did things end up better by voting for Badnarik instead of for one of the two major candidates?

If both a Kerry presidency and a Bush presidency are evil, then how did a vote for Badnarik cause you to not end up with evil? If ending up with evil is inevitable, even when voting for Badnarik, then wouldn't it make sense to support the lesser of two evils?

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It confirms what I personally encountered 20 and more years ago as a member of the local, state, and national Libertarian Party. I met libertarian haters of Ayn Rand, pedophiles, Christian pacifists, drug abusers, and anarchists.

Such individuals could exist anywhere, but, in the LP, they found open sanction of their beliefs. All that matters, I was told again and again, is the "axiom" of the non-aggression principle. What is the philosophical foundation underlying that "principle"? It doesn't matter. It is modular. Insert whichever philosophy or religion you prefer.

I left the Party and the libertarian movement. I have never had any regret.

Well put! I remember getting cards from neo-nazis and NAMBLA because the LP gave them my ex g/f's (and thus, my) address. Ugh.

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I don't think when Ayn Rand ever implied that libertarians "steal her ideas without giving her credit".

Maybe not; if you're right, then my comment is irrelevant. But I paid a lot of attention to what Rand said at that time, and hung out with people who did the same, and that's how it came across to me.

It confirms what I personally encountered 20 and more years ago as a member of the local, state, and national Libertarian Party. I met libertarian haters of Ayn Rand, pedophiles, Christian pacifists, drug abusers, and anarchists.

Interesting. I was active in the LP (Massachusetts and California) 20-30 years ago and never met anyone like that except a few anarchists. (And that was just a question of semantics; if a government didn't collect taxes by force, then to them it wasn't a government.) I'm sure not all the folks I worked with had explicitly Objectivist beliefs, but I never came across anyone whose moral/philosophical values clearly contradicted Objectivism, such as a pedophile or a drug abuser. And far from hating Rand, the vast majority had had their beliefs formed, or at least affirmed, by reading her.

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Interesting. I was active in the LP (Massachusetts and California) 20-30 years ago and never met anyone like that except a few anarchists.
Well, I was active in the LP in Washington, when it was first hatched. What Burgess is describing isn't my old LP either. But: that was then, and this is now. The chickens have come home to roost, in a predictable fashion. Of course there used to be isolated pockets of rationality in the LP 3 plus decades ago. The lure of mass appeal and mindless swelling of numbers had the consequences that the LP joined forces with the Green Party in Ohio (I was surprised at how cozy Badnarik had gotten with the Greens. But not very surprised). I found the LP impossible to swallow by 1976.

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Eudaemonia writes regarding Sparrow:

I guess I don't understand what basis you have for thinking TOC would pull an 11th-hour stunt such as you suggest above. You submitted your paper months ago (December?), and you've been on the schedule since, what, mid February or early March (when I first saw it at their Web site)? Seems the question of TOC's tolerant position towards you as a scholar has been settled for some time. Especially so given the fact that you've been a lecturer at their seminars in the past and have been specifically asked to comment at the Advanced Seminar as well. From where I sit, they've been extremely generous toward your scholarship in the past.

You seem to be looking for trouble, Sparrow. Where is your objectivity, fairness and toleration? TOC is a friendly, generous, benevolent organization which allows references to ARI, Peikoff, etc. The reverse is NOT true--and you know it.

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Ariana, is this your friendly, generous, and benevolent side. If your going to attack someone at least quote them and not some third party.

The reason toc allows references to ARI and not the reverse is the same reason the intelligent design people mix in real science--and you know it.

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In Sweden we are slowly starting up a Libertarian Party with people that are mostly minarchists, there are a few Objectivists/Students Of Objectivism/People that are close to Objectivism involved as well. The core thing is that everyone agrees that the nightwatcherstate is the only way to go, we do not accept anarchists or anarchistic ideas. Personally I would love to see the party when it is started up go towards Objectivistic policies and ideas but then again in Sweden anything else then socialism/statism is a start at least

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Dr. Michael Hurd wrote a piece called Libertarianism: The Pursuit of No Government that I think essentialized the problem. Without an explicit philosophy based on reason, they can only pursue a negative value - the absense of Big Government. This leads to all the particular problems already outlined: they don't get taken seriously and thus never win important elections, they oppose an aggressive and uncompromising foreign policy (apparently government is always bad), many cannot agree on what "liberty" means (thus the anti-abortion "Libertarians for Life" and anarchist libertarians), etc.

Also, Paul Hsieh drew a great analogy between libertarianism and the medical field, which I also highly recommend.

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Well put!  I remember getting cards from neo-nazis and NAMBLA because the LP gave them my ex g/f's (and thus, my) address.  Ugh.

Am I missing something??? This thread mentions the Libertarian belief in the "non-aggression principle," but doesn't the Nazi, and NAMBLA philosophy clearly violate this principle?

My guess is that you are dealing with some perverted form of Libertarianism because both of those organizations obviously violate the rights of other individuals on every front. I've always considered myself a Libertarian so their official support of such organizations comes as a shock to me.

Can someone explain this to me...I've been through the Libertarian website and other Libertarian literature and I've never heard any sanction to violate the rights of others in the way Nazis and NAMBLA members do.

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My biggest problem with Libertarians is that they are willing to march with people that hate America, such as the International Socialist Organization, the World Workers' Party, and the Revolutionary Communist Party to get their point across. I have a picture of a LP banner "1-800-ELECT-US" next to a sign calling for the death of Israel (at an anti-war rally).

Edited by neverborn

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Am I missing something???  This thread mentions the Libertarian belief in the "non-aggression principle," but doesn't the Nazi, and NAMBLA philosophy clearly violate this principle?

Can someone explain this to me...I've been through the Libertarian website and other Libertarian literature and I've never heard any sanction to violate the rights of others in the way Nazis and NAMBLA members do.

I recommend you read: Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty by Peter Schwartz. It is available from the Ayn Rand Bookstore.

I think the essential question is whether it is appropriate to promote liberty as an end in itself, i.e. without reference to an underlying ethical base. It is the absence of such a base -- and all of the philosophical elements that such a base entails -- that attracts groups like NAMBLA and the neo-Nazis.

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Am I missing something???  This thread mentions the Libertarian belief in the "non-aggression principle," but doesn't the Nazi, and NAMBLA philosophy clearly violate this principle?

My guess is that you are dealing with some perverted form of Libertarianism because both of those organizations obviously violate the rights of other individuals on every front.  I've always considered myself a Libertarian so their official support of such organizations comes as a shock to me.

Can someone explain this to me...I've been through the Libertarian website and other Libertarian literature and I've never heard any sanction to violate the rights of others in the way Nazis and NAMBLA members do.

Schwartz points out that in the 1983 copy of 'Individual Liberty' Joffe wrote that NAMBLA members 'are amongst the most brutally state-oppressed individuals in this coutry'. Schwartz also writes in 'Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty' that Joffe and other libertarians sponsered a NAMBLA march in New York in 1983. Though this is all i can find i'm afraid.

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My biggest problem with Libertarians is that they are willing to march with people that hate America, such as the International Socialist Organization, the World Workers' Party, and the Revolutionary Communist Party to get their point across.

It is my understanding that the Revolutionary Communist Party shows up at virtually all large demonstrations. If the demonstration is not on private property (and very few are on private property), then there is no legal way to stop them from attending.

Usually reporters take this into consideration and avoid showing the these nutcases. But if a reporter wants to give a negative portrayal of a group, he can show them side by side with the Revolutionary Communists.

So what you are saying is that one should deprive oneself of the right to demonstrate in order to avoid the appearance of endorsing the Revolutionary Communists. Is that reasonable?

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Objectivism is a philosophy developed by Ayn Rand for the study and application of reason. Egoism is the ethical byproduct of living a life devoted to reason, and Capitalism is the political byproduct of living a life devoted to egoism. Ayn Rand herself once said it: "I am not primarily an advocate of Capitalism as I am an advocate of egoism. And I am not primarily an advocate of egoism as I am an advocate of reason."

Libertarianism is a broad term that applies to the collection of philosophies upon which Capitalism is a common denominator.

The difference is that, despite political similarities, an Objectivist can be completely different from a libertarian. There are people who believe in Capitalism based on the fact that they feel it is the greatest good for the greatest number. There are those who feel that Capitalism is the only system that allows for social darwinism. Lew Rockwell believes Capitalism is closest to the Christian system of ethics. Once I knew a libertarian that hated the word Capitalism, because he associated it with Karl Marx, and thought that libertarianism was more accurate.

The point is, none of the other libertarian thought processes are primarily advocates of reason. Reason is the foundation upon which Objectivism is built, not Capitalism.

The Libertarian party is a political party. They are in the business of gathering votes. Nothing to be ashamed of, it's how they earn their living. But gathering votes means appealing to the unwashed masses who neither know nor care too much about politics. Because there are lots of people out there who are one issue voters. Heck, I knew someone who voted for Kerry in the last election simply because he was Catholic. And because the LP party is so strapped for votes (being small fish in a big ocean) they have to appeal to anyone who is willing to vote for them, including punks who want to see marijuana legalized, anarchists who want to live in a commune, and Joe Shmoes who do not want to pay anymore taxes.

Philosophers in general do not associate themselves with political parties. As a former Libertarian, I was disgusted at the fact that when I wanted to talk politics, the topic was not on the issues of the day, but rather, ad hominem arguements such as "you are wasting your vote" or "How can you support a political party that had Howard Stern run under its ticket?" The only semi-decent arguements came from people who said things like "I think drugs are bad, and therefor need to be illegal, to protect people." quite frankly, I consider all of these topics to be trivial when compared to the larger issues, and that is why I have stopped calling myself a libertarian. When someone asks my political stance, I say that I am an Objectivist, which means that I am a full supporter of Laissez-faire Capitalism.

Edited by the tortured one

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I am well aware of Ayn Rand's stance on the Libertarian party of her day and completely agree with it. Anarchism is idiotic. But after reading the current Libertarian party platform I was shocked as to how close it seemed to AR's ideas.

Granted, I've only been reading AR's works for about a month now, but I've read AS, FH, Anthem, VoS, and FtNI so I *think* I have a grasp on her basic ideas but I'd like some confirmation from those more knowledgable in the nuances of Objectivism to help me out. Has the modern Libertarian party come much closer to AR's ideas in the 23 years since her death?

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Has the modern Libertarian party come much closer to AR's ideas in the 23 years since her death?

I don't think so. Like any political party, it's come to the realization that putting your most extreme ideas out on planks isn't conducive to winning elections. As far as I know, the LP still has some anarchists, etc.

On the other hand, I've never understood why the Libertarian Party is considered worse than Dems and the GOP. Is the worst of LP (anarchism?) more dangerous than the worst of the traditional parties (collectivism?)

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From what I've seen, the Libertarian Party is steadily getting worse, not better.

The political principle represented by the traditional parties is not collectivism but statism. Anarchism is not the opposite of statism, it is a particularly gruesome and vile FORM of statism; that of institutionalized gang warfare. (Note that Anarchism is not the same thing as anarchy, which is a temporary breakdown of law and order, limited in scope).

The Libertarian Party is considered worse than the traditional parties for the same reasons that the traditional defenders of capitalism have done more damage than its opponents: by defending something for entirely the wrong reasons, you undercut it and render its legitimate defenders impotent.

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I do not have much to say about this party, indeed I do not know all that much about them. Not being an Americian, my interest in them is more academic than anything else. I will mention a roughly similar party though, as it is somewhat relevent I think. Here in New Zealand, we have a party known as Libertianz. They are an extremely unknown political party that wants to make big changes that many people here in New Zealand would strongly disagree with. However, in most regards there policies are very much what most Objectivists would agree with. They recognize that individual rights and therefore capitalism, as the only economic fully system compatible with the protection of individual rights, are of paramount importance. They want effect policies such as cutting public welfare, but of course they do not discourage individual charity, and so they should not. Basically, they want to do most of the things that someone like Galt might do if they were in charge of the government of the country. And unlike many parties I have read about of this nature, they want to eventually phase out all income taxes, although this would take some time according to their plans. If you are curious, here is their policy page: http://www.libertarianz.org.nz/?page=policies Im not sure how many parties like this you guys have over there, but Im sure you will admit that this is the sort of party you would like more of.

Edited by Prometheus98876

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Upon discovering that many Objectivists dislike the Libertarian agenda, I was actually somewhat confused. This was due to the fact that I had considered myself a Libertarian before learning about Objectivism, and had read about how many Libertarians praised Rand and her ideas. In fact, upon writing this, I now remember that I came to Objectivism through and because of Libertarianism.

I don't know the basis for all of the Objectivist criticisms of the Libertarian ideal, but it sounds like one of the biggest is the lean toward anarchist thinking and the membership of anarchists in the Libertarian party. I'm not sure that is very significant. Unless there are other issues of which I'm not aware, I think one could actually define Libertarianism as an idealisic (but not necessarily unrealistic) politcal application of Objectivism.

I will explain:

With regard to anarchy, I would see no problem with holding a world without government as the ultimate and final goal. I say this because if you were to apply Objectivist principles uniformly throughout the world, I'd forsee one of two results:

1) A world where a government to regulate the use of force always remains necessary because somehow, problems/disagreements never cease to exist, so the anarchist goal is never achieved

2) Although perhaps not at all probable (or likely to take eons to achieve), we actually reach a point where Objectivist principles have made any government unnecessary because we are all able to work out any disagreements amongst ourselves

JMegan,

In response to the idea that anarchism supports a world of institutionalized gang warfare, it is obvious that true anarchists would despise such a society. The problem is indeed that traditional anarchists would seem to promote this kind of chaos. I submit to you that any supposed anarchists who in fact do support or would tolerate the world in a state of gang warfare are not true anarchists, but simply immature posers who like the title of anarchist because it is naughty and rebellious.

I'd love to hear some thought on this idea, or perhaps other specific Objectivist criticisms of Libertarianism.

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