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J.M.S.

Comments on Leonard Peikoff

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But the newspaper editor has not lost his right to free speech; he has only been prevented from expressing certain ideas at a certain time. To call the action taken by the armed individual, "censorship," is to imply that individuals can strip others of their rights, but only the government can take away an individual's rights. (But the real job of the government is to protect individual rights.) The concept of censorship denotes that a government has taken away someone's right to free speech. Under censorship, to speak one's mind is a criminal action.

Here are two Op-Eds that I think clarify the issue: Blacklists are Not Censorship

Free Speech Protects Profit-Makers, Too

But how is it that the government can take away an individual's rights? By what means? That is, what means do they possess that others don't?

I don't think you can characterize the government as any more able to "take away" individual's rights any more than other individuals can. Individuals have rights due to metaphysical facts of their nature, which can't be changed. The government, like any thug, cannot "take away" a person's rights, but only violate them. By what means? The initiation of physical force.

I agree with Matt. "Censorship" can be applied to the thug with the gun making demands of the newspaper editor. On the other hand, an advertisor who threatens to stop running ads with a paper if they print a certain editorial, would not be censorship, because he is not initiating the use of physical force. In fact, if the advertisor did not have that right, he would be the one forced to support ideas with which he disagreed (or not to support ideas with which he did agree).

The reason the term censorship is (or ought to be) most commonly and properly applied to government actions, is first of all because governments are capable of performing (and in practice do perform) censorship on a much wider scale than isolated criminals. Also, it helps to dinstinguish between actual censorship, and cases such as the one with the advertisor, or with a publication refusing to print a certain viewpoint, which are often (improperly) called censorship by today's liberals.

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But how is it that the government can take away an individual's rights?  By what means?  That is, what means do they possess that others don't?

I don't think you can characterize the government as any more able to "take away" individual's rights any more than other individuals can.  Individuals have rights due to metaphysical facts of their nature, which can't be changed.  The government, like any thug, cannot "take away" a person's rights, but only violate them.  By what means?  The initiation of physical force.

I agree with Matt.  "Censorship" can be applied to the thug with the gun making demands of the newspaper editor.  On the other hand, an advertisor who threatens to stop running ads with a paper if they print a certain editorial, would not be censorship, because he is not initiating the use of physical force.  In fact, if the advertisor did not have that right, he would be the one forced to support ideas with which he disagreed (or not to support ideas with which he did agree).

In other words, you claim there is no conceptual difference between a govt initiation of force and an individual's initiation of force. So long as the concrete act is the same, there should be no difference in identification.

Thus you say the thug with a gun is a "censor", and the demands he makes of a newspaper editor are "censorship."

Using the same logic then:

The mugger with a gun is a "tax collector" and the demands he makes of a man with a wallet are "taxation."

or

The mob boss is a "dictator" and the demands he makes of men in the neighborhood are a "dictatorship."

(Note: the reference here is not "like" a dictator" or "like" a censor. Your principle is that they literally ARE dictators and censors.)

I suggest you check your premises.

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In other words, you claim there is no conceptual difference between a govt initiation of force and an individual's initiation of force.  So long as the concrete act is the same, there should be no difference in identification.

Thus you say the thug with a gun is a "censor", and the demands he makes of a newspaper editor are "censorship."

Using the same logic then:

The mugger with a gun is a "tax collector" and the demands he makes of a man with a wallet are "taxation."

or

The mob boss is a "dictator" and the demands he makes of men in the neighborhood are a "dictatorship."

(Note: the reference here is not "like" a dictator" or "like" a censor.  Your principle is that they literally ARE dictators and censors.)

I suggest you check your premises.

Fine, fine. You can make that distinction. I was just arguing against sleepyop's reasoning for it.

But even so, the concretes remain essentially similar. The only difference in your other examples is that the tax collector and dictator are agents of the government, while the mugger and mob boss aren't. A dictator basically is a mob boss, the only difference being one of scale: the dictator has managed to run his racket throughout an entire nation.

No, I wouldn't call a mugger a "tax collector", or a mob boss a "dictator"; but I would have no problem going the other way around, calling tax collectors and dictators essentially thugs and armed robbers. They are simply a specific type of criminal, namely ones who are posing as governmental agents.

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You definitely got on the right track of checking your premises, but you didn't make the conclusion explicit.

You say you would not call an armed robber a tax collector, but you would call a tax collector an armed robber.

You say you would not call a thug a dictator, but you would call a dictator a thug.

In other words, you consider "armed robber" a broader concept which subsumes the more specific concept "tax collector." And you consider "thug" to be a broad concept which subsumes the more specific concept "dictator."

These are not mere 'distinctions' which may or may not be made simply according to one's wishes. Whereas a tax collector IS necessarily an armed robber, an armed robber is NOT necessarily a tax collector. And a dictator is necessarily a thug, whereas a thug is NOT necessarily a dictator.

Your principle here applies to the concept 'censor' as well. While a censor necessarily barks orders backed by a gun, a man barking orders backed by a gun is NOT necessarily a censor. In other words, you should properly say:

"I would not call a thug a censor, but I would call a censor a thug." Simply put, according to your own principle, "thug" would be the broader concept, which subsumes the more specific concept "censor." Ultimately what this means is that you can properly call the man who threatens an editor a thug, but you cannot properly call him a censor.

Therefore your claim that censorship may indeed be properly applied to a private individual (""Censorship" can be applied to the thug with the gun making demands of the newspaper editor.") is in error.

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You definitely got on the right track of checking your premises, but you didn't make the conclusion explicit. 

You say you would not call an armed robber a tax collector, but you would call a tax collector an armed robber.

You say you would not call a thug a dictator, but you would call a dictator a thug.

In other words, you consider "armed robber" a broader concept which subsumes the more specific concept "tax collector."  And you consider "thug" to be a broad concept which subsumes the more specific concept "dictator."

These are not mere 'distinctions' which may or may not be made simply according to one's wishes. Whereas a tax collector IS necessarily an armed robber, an armed robber is NOT necessarily a tax collector.  And a dictator is necessarily a thug, whereas a thug is NOT necessarily a dictator.

I agree with all of this, and thought it was implicit in my previous post and would be understood (that I did not need to make it this explicit).

Your principle here applies to the concept 'censor' as well.  While a censor necessarily barks orders backed by a gun, a man barking orders backed by a gun is NOT necessarily a censor.  In other words, you should properly say:

"I would not call a thug a censor, but I would call a censor a thug."  Simply put, according to your own principle, "thug" would be the broader concept, which subsumes the more specific concept "censor."  Ultimately what this means is that you can properly call the man who threatens an editor a thug, but you cannot properly call him a censor. 

Therefore your claim that censorship may indeed be properly applied to a private individual (""Censorship" can be applied to the thug with the gun making demands of the newspaper editor.") is in error.

I guess my problem here is that I don't see a "censor" as necessarily being a government agent, like a tax collector or dictator is. Although, if that wasn't an essential characteristic of a censor, then I guess it would be an invalid (at best, redundant) concept. So I'll have to think about it a little more, but I am tentatively in agreement with you.

Anyway, like I said, my main point was simply that the concretes involved are essentially similar, which it seemed sleepyop was (at least implicitly) denying. This question, then, is a relatively minor one of proper subdivisions within a fundamentally similar conceptual hierarchy. But thanks for the correction.

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I agree with all of this, and thought it was implicit in my previous post and would be understood (that I did not need to make it this explicit).
Since it was your contention that one COULD make the distinction (ie - such a distinction is OPTIONAL in the case of censor - one could just as validly NOT make the distinction), my point was that you did not make explicit the principle you were following and thus were not applying it properly (ie to all cases). And the paragraph I quote below confirms that. The fact is, according to your unnamed principle, it is NOT optional in the case of the dictator or the tax collector. What you do not state is WHY they are not optional in those cases and yet optional in the case of the censor.

THAT is what I was trying to get you to make explicit.

I guess my problem here is that I don't see a "censor" as necessarily being a government agent, like a tax collector or dictator is.

And the question here is WHY? Why are you willing to concede a necessary distinction between govt and individual force in the case of dictator/mobster and tax collector/robber but not between censor/thug?

Anyway, like I said, my main point was simply that the concretes involved are essentially similar, which it seemed sleepyop was (at least implicitly) denying.  This question, then, is a relatively minor one of proper subdivisions within a fundamentally similar conceptual hierarchy.  But thanks for the correction.

Two actions are indeed the same: one - a person is initiating force against another. two - that force is being used to prevent the other from communicating in a specific fashion. Whether there is a fundamental distinction between who is weilding the force and the form it takes is definitely a question which requires answering. I don't know that I would call it 'relatively minor' though.

However, I do understand what you are trying to say here.

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Two actions are indeed the same:  one - a person is initiating force against another.  two - that force is being used to prevent the other from communicating in a specific fashion.  Whether there is a fundamental distinction between who is weilding the force and the form it takes is definitely a question which requires answering.  I don't know that I would call it 'relatively minor' though. 

However, I do understand what you are trying to say here.

"Relatively minor" as in minor relative to the main point I was trying to make, which is that government can no more "take away" individuals' rights any more than other individuals can, but rather only violate them. I think that confusion is much more fundamental on the conceptual hierarchy, making this one therefore relatively minor. That is not at all to say that it isn't important to clear up, and again I thank you for the correction.

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J.M.S,

I do not think you should be so quick to dismiss Leonard. He had a very important role in Miss Rand's life. He was her best student and close friend for thirty years. Today, He is one of the last links to Objectivism,(until he finds someone else). He wants to keep as many of Rands recorded statements as possible, so they won't become stolen concepts. He is doing a lot of work in teaching Epistemology and Ethics to philos. majors.(If they learn how to think, forming concepts, and actually understanding them will be easier.) Does that make everyone who agrees that the world is round parrots? They are acknowledging a fact of reality. Some people who get into Objectivism think that,(that your just parroting) but in fact, it's very personal in the fact that it is your own mind that has to understand and integrate these concepts. Again, the ideas are monolithic because they are "universal" facts of reality. OPAR is the first systemized structure of objectivism. Leonards creativity lies in the fact of how he put it together. In figuring out the best and most logical structure. And the depiction described in OP is to give you a concretization of what really happened. Alot of people in the U.s and Canada have no idea what it's like to have to go through that kind of thing,(thankfully so). Some people don't even really believe that that kind of evil exists out there. It's purpose is also to establish context. If you don't believe that Ayn edited Leonard's work even though it's written in black and white, isn't that an example of evading reality? Also, if you didn't want such a harsh lashing about your post, mabye you should have worded your disagreement differently, and made it clear that you were mabye confused, and would appreciate some enlightenment.

Carrie.

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Guest DonGalt

In other words, you claim there is no conceptual difference between a govt initiation of force and an individual's initiation of force. So long as the concrete act is the same, there should be no difference in identification.

Thus you say the thug with a gun is a "censor", and the demands he makes of a newspaper editor are "censorship."

Using the same logic then:

The mugger with a gun is a "tax collector" and the demands he makes of a man with a wallet are "taxation."

or

The mob boss is a "dictator" and the demands he makes of men in the neighborhood are a "dictatorship."

(Note: the reference here is not "like" a dictator" or "like" a censor. Your principle is that they literally ARE dictators and censors.)

I suggest you check your premises.

YES!! Exactly! There is no difference.

When force is initiated against you, it is always immoral. No matter who does it.

IF you think there's a premise in error, please point it out.

But frankly, you have pointed out the contradiction between what many objectivists believe and what the NAP requires.

The government thug is no more moral than the non-government thug.

IF this isnt' the case, why? Show how the government gets the right to initiate force under objectivism. There's no mention of government in galts pledge.

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When force is initiated against you, it is always immoral.  No matter who does it.

IF you think there's a premise in error, please point it out.  

But frankly, you have pointed out the contradiction between what many objectivists believe and what the NAP requires.

The government thug is no more moral than the non-government thug.

IF this isnt' the case, why?  Show how the government gets the right to initiate force under objectivism.  There's no mention of government in galts pledge.

This is pathetic. The context-dropping involved in your discussion of Galt's pledge (and Galt's Gulch in other threads) is so huge as to indicate a massive evasion. You just make reference to a few floating abstract statements which you then treat as maxims and rationalize your way to whatever conclusions you like. It makes one wonder if you ever read any of Rand's non-fiction, or just saw Galt's pledge on some libertarian site and have been parroting their nonsense ever since.

Your mindless upholding of Galt's pledge and the "NAP" as context-less absolutes, with an incredibly obvious lack of understanding of the philosophical base upon which they depend, is truly astounding--especially coming from one so fond of accusing others of "dogmatism".

I especially love how you ignore everything we say that is damaging to your position, and acknowledge only our moral judgments of you (deeming it "intolerance") and the points with which you agree (of course, dropping the context).

Amazing.

Good riddance.

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JMS, I'm with you on Bush. If anything he and many of those around him are not men of the mind. They are promoting their concept of religion and acting in the name of that religion. While Ayn Rand may have been an athiest, she believed in moral integrity. She condemned those who thought like the herd rather than as individuals. Of course many of those who think are liberals and don't run with the herd. Even the word liberal indicates a thinking human being. A liberal is one who is "...not literal or strict; tolerant; favoring reform or progress..." (Websters Dictionary, 2002, p. 215)

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Rand read over the Ominous Parallels as Leonard was writing it. I've seen pages of early drafts marked up in her hand.

OPAR, even if it contains only Rand's ideas, is a feat of hierarchical presentation that is without equal. Rand originated those ideas, but she never presented them in that form.

The induction work is excellent, and he's got hundreds of pages of notes for his new book analyzing the culture from the perspective of disintegration-integration-misintegration.

J.M.S., who made you the judge of my husband?

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J.M.S. and a number of other individuals posting on this thread have since been banned from this forum.

Btw, I just finished reading Ominous Parallels, and well.. you can read my review at Amazon.com :lol:

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Yes, when it becomes apparent that a person's sole purpose in participating on this forum is to annoy everyone else here, we ban them. That was the case with JMS, so there is no need to respond to him.

Although I would like to ask, Amy, what you mean when you ask who made him the judge of your husband? I mean, isn't it practically a moral imperative to judge other people (about whom you have sufficient information upon which to base such a judgment)? Isn't that what the virtue of justice requires? I think almost everyone here has probably made a judgment of Leonard--it's just usually a positive one, based on his achievements. I don't think that JMS's judging of Leonard as such was a bad thing--just the particular judgment he arrived at, by dishonest means, based on no valid evidence. Do you disagree?

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I think the fact that JMS had no evidence and clearly didn't know what he was talking about with regard to Leonard made it inappropriate for him to judge him, at least to some extent. It would be analagous to my telling you the name of one of my friends, and without any other knowledge of my friend, your judging him negatively. You can't judge without a basis of judgment, meaning you have to have some idea what you're talking about. JMS did not.

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Yes, Daniel, from that angle I can see what Amy probably meant. As stated, though, it sounded too close to that old Christian bromide (according to which judging other people as such is vicious) for comfort.

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Yes, Daniel, from that angle I can see what Amy probably meant.  As stated, though, it sounded too close to that old Christian bromide (according to which judging other people as such is vicious) for comfort.

This is quite random, but that reminded me of how my sister would scream “DON’T JUDGE ME!” when my mom criticized her for something, and my mom would clam up because well… “it’s wrong to judge.” After many years of non-judgment, my sister has dropped out of college to “figure things out.”

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I was definitely angry because he was purporting to judge Leonard based on the amount of work he did since the Ominous Parallels was published. And the guy had no clue. He talked about OPAR as if it was nothing, simply because Leonard was writing about someone else's ideas, not his. Clearly he was just trying to get everyone's goat and I probably shouldn't have responded but it is difficult sometimes.

What I really meant by that angry question was that I'm sick of people who, for all I know, haven't produced a goddamn thing, going around and nitpicking on OPAR, or leveling some other equally baseless criticisms against Leonard and his work. I want to tell them: Just get a life! Go write your own books instead of bashing Leonard.

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Your anger is perfectly justified, Mrs. Peikoff. These people are losers who are wasting their lives on finding fault with successful people instead of trying to become successful themselves. They are to your husband what al-Qaeda is to America.

I think the best way to treat them is to ignore them--or to take their insults as compliments. After all, criticism from fools is evidence that you must be doing something right! :P

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I was definitely angry because he was purporting to judge Leonard based on the amount of work he did since the Ominous Parallels was published. And the guy had no clue. He talked about OPAR as if it was nothing, simply because Leonard was writing about someone else's ideas, not his. Clearly he was just trying to get everyone's goat and I probably shouldn't have responded but it is difficult sometimes.

What I really meant by that angry question was that I'm sick of people who, for all I know, haven't produced a goddamn thing, going around and nitpicking on OPAR, or leveling some other equally baseless criticisms against Leonard and his work. I want to tell them: Just get a life! Go write your own books instead of bashing Leonard.

Mrs Peikoff,

I offer you my sincere apologies. I had written that little 'critique' at an odd period - when I was just beginning to share my until-then private admiration for the works of Ayn Rand, and, since I had many questions, when doing so expecting a logical 'next step' answer with the help of new readings and communication with others. I'm sure that my disappointment was obvious, but perhaps I took it out on the wrong target only because I didn't get the answers I was expecting. It was indeed too simple to aim at the most obvious target, and again I am sorry for my earlier comments.

I still have questions today about certain subjects Ayn Rand and her followers (to my knowledge) have seemingly neglected to answer; that is to say defining what 'work' is and a most 'value-correct' means of trading it with others. I also still have questions concerning our present-day economic rules and practices.

I must admit that I am still disappointed to see that many have adopted Ayn Rand's teachings as a means of defending privilege - promoting 'the value of * and our right to exchange it as we see fit' without considering the effort made to invent or create that object or method and its real value to the others who buy it. I am far from being an advocate of those who seek freebies, but on the other hand am against the use of position or privilege to ask more than an object or service's real value.

If there is anything you are aware of concerning the above questions you think I should read, and especially in the works of Mr. Peikoff, I would more than welcome any suggestions.

Best regards,

J.M. Schomburg.

PS: I have produced quite a bit in my as-of-yet not-so-long lifetime, but nothing in the domain of Objectivism - perhaps one day. There's still much more to learn I'm sure.

Edited by ThePromenader

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