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DavidV

What To Do About Libertarians?

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In the style of the thread on dealing with communists, I would like to raise the question of what should be done about libertarian types on this forum. In particular,

What kind of behavior in should not be tolerated?

and,

How should such behavior be identified?

In addition, here is a broader question:

I would like the actions of the moderators (including myself) to be guided by objective standards that are clearly stated and available to all the members. However, the nature of dealing with dishonesty makes establishing such standards, and identifying violations difficult, especially with a highly abstract topic like philosophy. This is particularly challenging when I need to communicate the policy to several moderators, and then review the context of a questionable user’s history when evaluating a moderator’s actions. Is it possible to establish specific policies in such a case, and if so, which?

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In the style of the thread on dealing with communists, I would like to raise the question of what should be done about libertarian types on this forum.  In particular,

What kind of behavior in should not be tolerated?

and,

How should such behavior be identified?

In general, my policy in dealing with antagonists of all types is to present them with the facts which contradict their position and see what happens.

If he disagrees with the facts, we can discuss further to find where the disagreement originates -- in the assessment of the facts, in ethical assumptions, or in epistemology and metaphysics.

If the disagreement is about the facts, I address the facts. Sometimes that settles it. If the disagreement is in ethics, that is what I address and sometimes I win him over. If it is in epistemology and/or metaphysics, I give up. There is no rational way to address someone who rejects reality or reason.

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The discussion about the communists was an easy one because it, in light of overwhelming evidence, can be said to be an inherently dishonest position. I don't think the issue is so easy with libertarianism.

Here is an example of my early folly to serve as an example, and I made this on my own without yet knowing anything about libertarianism. After I had finished reading Atlas Shrugged in 92' (it was the first thing I read by Ayn Rand), I found out about ARI. I sent them a letter saying that they should set up a political action organization of some kind (I can't remember the exact nature of my idea). And that I would be a good canidate to head this because (I thought!) I thoroughly understood the issues. I would just apply the principle of non-initiation of force to every single issue that arose (like any halfwit couldn't have come up with this idea if that was all there was to it!).

I never got a response for reasons that I obviously soon discovered.

Point being that I don't think it readily apparent a dishonesty for someone to be a libertarian, and there are several mediating factors that a person could have.

Age is one of those mediating factors.

Not having come across the Objectivist arguments against Libertarianism.

Being new to the whole thing no matter what the age.

The only thing I can think of is a blanket statement to the effect of a three strikes rule for evasion of refutation if there were to be a policy at all. But, the question would remain: what is the standard by which one would be objectively judged to be engaged in evasion to elicit moderator action?

I think it may also help if we could know in advance the age of those that we are addressing. I have noticed a few times here that some quite young people come here (I know one that is 14) and can get pretty banged up through little fault of their own given their age (and the butcher shop of ideas they have to go to everyday). As important as it is to keep the integrity of your forum from libertarian (and other) poison, I think it equally important to not have "newbies" scared away because they are mistaken for foolish adults instead of inexperienced kids.

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Point being that I don't think it readily apparent a dishonesty for someone to be a libertarian, and there are several mediating factors that a person could have.

So true!

The easiest way to separate the honest ones from the trolls is to present facts and reasons and see what happens. Some do a 180. Some think it over and come back a month later convinced. Some get defensive. Some retreat into more bizarre positions. Some resort to ad hominems. You see what someone does when presented with the facts and act accordinly.

Age is one of those mediating factors.

Not having come across the Objectivist arguments against Libertarianism.

Being new to the whole thing no matter what the age.

Definitely. That's why I grant anyone under 30 or anyone into Objectivism less than two years a "Learner's Permit."

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The easiest way to separate the honest ones from the trolls is to present facts and reasons and see what happens.  Some do a 180.  Some think it over and come back a month later convinced.  Some get defensive.  Some retreat into more bizarre positions.  Some resort to ad hominems.  You see what someone does when presented with the facts and act accordinly.

I agree. I don't think coming in here as a libertarian, or even as a communist, should be grounds for banning. What matters is how the person reacts when presented with rational arguments against their position.

I also think there should be a fair amount of leeway and time given. Understanding and integrating Objectivism is a long complex process, and its not fair to ban someone because they don't "get it" after a few exchanges.

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The easiest way to separate the honest ones from the trolls is to present facts and reasons and see what happens.  Some do a 180.  Some think it over and come back a month later convinced.  Some get defensive.  Some retreat into more bizarre positions.  Some resort to ad hominems.  You see what someone does when presented with the facts and act accordinly.

Even (some) ad hominem attacks can be forgiven once they are shown and see their error that it is a fallacy.

I had a political argument with a co-worker a few months ago. He resorted to ad hominems. I told him: "You are resorting to ad hominem arguments. Attacking me is not attacking my argument which, therefore, still stands." He stared at me like I had bestowed a revelation (after I explained what an ad hominem was).

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In the style of the thread on dealing with communists, I would like to raise the question of what should be done about libertarian types on this forum.

I think that libertarians, as well as communists, should not be allowed to promote their views on the forum. If they miss the policy statement, I think they should be warned just once and then banned if they persist. Currently there are a few libertarians running rampant on the forum. I ignore them by mostly ignoring the threads. I would rather not allow them to promote their views at all.

On the other hand, especially in consideration of younger people, if someone has specific questions about the conflict of libertarianism with Objectivism, they should be allowed to ask, as long as they remain respectful. This would have to be a judgment call on the part of moderators. They would have to strive to distinguish between a sincere and curious person, and a hardened long-time libertarian who is just trying to get around not being able to directly promote libertarianism.

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By the way, if anyone has concerns about anything posted on the site, you can report the post and all the moderators will receive it. While I am often too busy to act on all the reports, I do read them all, so I will at least know what (whom) to keep an eye on.

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I think the Evolution thread is a good example of why there should be a more open policy. Despite the fact that the thread starter is obviously nowhere close to being an Objectivist, people are still willing to engage with him. For those that don't want to engage with such people, just ignore their threads and/or posts. (There is an "Ignore List" feature, right?)

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I would caution against having a separate standard for those who identify themselves as libertarians. That implies that you are willing to accept dishonesty from others, including those who mistakenly consider themselves to be Objectivists. How about one standard for all, anything less would be hypocritical. Proselytizers of any color must be able to demonstrate the veracity of their claims, and in a manner consistent with the proper decorum intended by the originators of this site.

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what about someone like me, who acknoledges that I am an Objectivist, but still supports the libertarian party?

I mean, I believe that Ethics are objective, Reality is a constant to be percieved not created, A is A, there is no divine presence, Capitalism is the only moral system, etc. I mean, am I really such a dangerous deviant for believing that if I am to promote capitalism and objectivism, then the best place to start is the political party which scores closest to me on tests like politiopia and political compass? I am by no means unreasonable about who I vote, I mean if Barry Goldwater ever ran for president again I'd vote for him, but right now thats not what the Republicans are about, so I do not. why should I be banned or up for consideration to be banned? isn't that sort of close-mindedness what caused the collective to implode? Adherence to a principle is certainly admirable, but there are ways of spreading truth which do not invovle a "you are with us or against us" principle.

What ever happened to "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"? Sure the Libertarians aren't perfect, but they are closer to what we are about then Republicans or Democrats, or any political party for that matter. That's the way I see it.

typically, I try not to get invovled in the Libertarian vs objectivism threads on this forum. I find that energy spend in debate is better when confronting more dangerous threats to humanity, such as defeatism, pessimism, and collectivism.

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typically, I try not to get invovled in the Libertarian vs objectivism threads on this forum. I find that energy spend in debate is better when confronting more dangerous threats to humanity, such as defeatism, pessimism, and collectivism.

Perhaps you should try reading them.

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what about someone like me, who acknoledges that I am an Objectivist, but still supports the libertarian party?

You cannot be an Objectivist if you pick and choose those parts of the philosophy that you like and dispense with the parts you do not care for. You may be sympathetic to Objectivism, but that is not the same as being an Objectivist.

I should mention that it is possible for some to be confused and make an honest error of judgment in their estimate of the Libertarian party. However, I do not think that such an error can be maintained for very long if one avails oneself of the relevant facts. It is rather difficult to comprehend how one could still justify any contact at all with the Libertarians after reading Peter Schwartz' essay Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty.

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being that I am not paying the bills for the forum and are therefor bound by the terms set by the admins, I respect y'alls opinion enough to honor the fact that if you do not want Libertarian discussions, then it is not my place to post them.

But if I am misguided, then what would be the best thing to do, make a thread about Libertarians and Objectivists (seems theres enough floating around though) and compare and contrast, or honor the fact that the seniority of this forum wants to keep it about objectivism and nothing else?

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Thanks to The Ayn Rand Institute, there are some freely available readings from Ayn Rand and other Objectivists concerning Libertarianism:

    Q & A from Miss Rand (this is probably new for most of you; I presume it comes from Dr. Gotthelf who is working on a compendium of Miss Rand's Q & A's)
    From the Objectivism FAQ
    Peter Schwartz's On Moral Sanctions
    Dr. Leonard Peikoff's Fact and Value (although it doesn't specifically mention Libertarianism it is entirely relevant)

Realize that the repudiation of Libertarianism isn't just the opinion of a few people on this board, it is a part of Objectivism itself (read the Q & A with Miss Rand above).

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what about someone like me, who acknoledges that I am an Objectivist, but still supports the libertarian party?

I once supported the LP and was a member for a few years. What turned me off was not so much the Objectivist critique of Libertarianism (although I agree with that critique) but the movement's own absurdities. I especially remember one newsletter article where they asked members about their favorite libertarian books. The replies were all over the map, from Atlas Shrugged to the Bible :) It was obvious they had no philosophical basis for defending their ideas, and were just making capitalism look bad.

That said, I think it is a little unfair for Objectivists to keep claiming that Libertarians are mostly anarchists. I don't see anything in the LP platform to support that, and very little in libertarian literature.

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Someone in a Yahoo Group pointed me here, chuckling about the notion of my being both a libertarian and Objectivist, and how libertarians were being talked about in this forum.

I see them as perfectly compatible in a modern context. Keep in mind that Rand had her own prejudices, based on the context of the times she lived in. For example, she also hated gays, considering it "unnatural". But the science has evolved since then and I'm not sure if she would now. I've run across several gay Objectivists, by the way.

“Who is a libertarian?

A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim." -- L. Neil Smith ( Smith is a well known libertarian author and award winning sci-fi writer ).

I'm a libertarian because at the most basic level I've come to believe that it's morally wrong to initiate force, or to delegate its initiation.

Which matches up with Rand's Objectivist ethics:

"The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others." - The Virtue Of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand

I've heard that there are different camps of Objectivists too, some who are more modernists and some who are personality cultists after Rand. I could never get into the cultist end of things.

As far as libertarianism, I disagree with all those who misuse the term, and there are many. I believe that it must be objectively defined, and that's why I subscribe to the NIoF ( Non Initiation of Force ) principle as its definition, per Smith's quote above. Without an objective definition, it can be anything anyone says it is, and it becomes absurd. Like when Bill Maher calls himself a libertarian, when I think he's really just a socialist, so I laugh at him. What a fool.

I see Objectivism as being very useful and symbiotic with libertarianism because it gives the "why" of why we should have individual rights, when too often so many libertarians will just reply; "because".

I think Objectivism provides the objective derrivations for libertarianism to succeed, and per those two quotes above, I see the political philosophies of both as being identical.

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I think Objectivism provides the objective derrivations for libertarianism to succeed, and per those two quotes above, I see the political philosophies of both as being identical.

There is a fundamental incompatibility between Objectivist politics and Libertarian politics: that the use of retaliatory force need not be under any single, objective control under Libertarianism (whereas that is a fundamental political principle of Objectivism). In addition, the basic political principles of Libertarianism are (from all available evidence) underivable primaries whereas they derive from more general principles in Objectivism. One consequence of that is that Objectivists don't need to be profoundly perplexed when someone asks whether a rational being other than homo sapiens should be extended the courtesy of the NIF principle.

You may think, "that isn't much of a difference": well, the only difference between atheists and Catholics is that atheists don't believe in god and Catholicks do.

Given that you think that Objectivism provides the philosophical foundation for the beliefs that the "ideal" Libertarian has (leaving aside the freaks and geeks that have corrupted the Libertarian movement), what part that is characteristic of Libertarianism do you actually support?

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Someone in a Yahoo Group pointed me here, chuckling about the notion of my being both a libertarian and Objectivist, and how libertarians were being talked about in this forum.

I’m not laughing.

I see them as perfectly compatible in a modern context. Keep in mind that Rand had her own prejudices, based on the context of the times she lived in. For example, she also hated gays, considering it "unnatural". But the science has evolved since then and I'm not sure if she would now.

I hope that your lack of respect for people does not reflect the degree of your respect for rights. To march in here and to make absolutely baseless claims against someone who we obviously hold in great regard here is an egregious insult to Miss Rand not to mention those of us who hold her in very high esteem such as myself.

I think she had very good, objective and timeless reasons to say what she did about Libertarianism. I doubt that you spent the time to read up on what she actually said but if anything—even if you “almost” agree with someone which is not the case here—you should have the common decency to withhold applying the proper noun which she designated to describe her viewpoints and those who agree with her to yourself. O, sorry, I forgot that you have advanced upon her thoughts and made them better…give me a break.

I don’t care if you’re a Libertarian. I just don’t understand why people like you must call themselves “Objectivists” when you clearly have fundamental disagreements with the philosophy of Ayn Rand. You cannot just slither your way around this fact by claiming that a certain part of her philosophy was just her “prejudice.”

As to the tone of my message, accord me some respect and you will get some in turn.

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“Who is a libertarian?

A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim." -- L. Neil Smith ( Smith is a well known libertarian author and award winning sci-fi writer ).

I'm a libertarian because at the most basic level I've come to believe that it's morally wrong to initiate force, or to delegate its initiation.

Which matches up with Rand's Objectivist ethics:

"The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others." - The Virtue Of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand

I think Objectivism provides the objective derrivations for libertarianism to succeed, and per those two quotes above, I see the political philosophies of both as being identical.

Just because libertarianism's politics seem to agree with Objectivism's (although in fact they often don't, for example in foreign policy) does not mean the two are compatible. After all, both Marxism and Objectivism disagree with religion, but that doesn't mean they are compatible or should join forces.

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...

It is precisely because of this sort of tripe, and that being spouted right now in a different thread by another one of these "objectivist[sic]" libertarians, that I think this forum should not be allowed to be a platform for promoting "libertarian" views. We have HBL as an email list where we do not have to be subjected to such disgusting nonsense, and it would be nice to have an interactive forum here where that is so too.

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Stephen, do you really think Melissa is beyond hope and could not perhaps be convinced to consider the Objectivist viewpoint? I think calling her views "tripe" and "disgusting nonsense" is going a little too far. Her views are mistaken, certainly, but hardly on a par with, say, communism. How is Objectivism supposed to attract new adherents if it treats all non-Objectivists so disdainfully?

(Now of course if David decides the forum should only be for Objectivists then everyone else should be banned. But he seems to want our opinions, and it seems to me that the site might perform a valuable function in attracting new adherents.)

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