Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
DavidV

What To Do About Libertarians?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

... 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".

What is your evidence for saying that Ayn Rand (1) had prejudices, and (2) hated gays?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know no-one else wants to say it, but it's time that the characteristically-evasive Charlotte Corday be removed from this forum. Her posts/threads are an irritation.

This "Melissa" character is new, so we can give her, for a while, the benefit of the doubt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
it seems to me that the site might perform a valuable function in attracting new adherents.

Maybe, but is that the function of this site? The balance has to be between providing a place for those interested in Objectivism to discuss the philosophy intelligently, and to learn more about Objectivism, versus recruuting the only-marginally-interested. Of course I haven't been doing this as long as Stephen so I still have some foolish optimism about engaging a self-professed Libertarian in a rational debate and even getting them to see the error of their ways (though I've certainly given up all hope with Charlotte, and at this point don't see any reaon to think the Edwin character is seriously interested in a real discussion of the important philosophical issues). My approach to Charlotte is to just ignore the threads that the takes over, except when I succumb to temptation to resist her bizarre "ideas".

The real test, IMO, is "how they respond". Mr. Edwin did not do so well in responding, and I have yet to see how Melissa replies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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?

Truly amazing. I have been accused by others of being too benevolent and too generous to non-Objectivists who oppose us, and here I am being accused of being too harsh to a supposed Objectivist. :D

First, it is not my purpose in life to "attract new adherents" to the philosophy, though I would venture to say I have intellectually cultivated, and motivated, more people towards Objectivism than anyone that you are likely to know. And, usually, when I spend time and effort in cultivating a person I tend to put my effort where I think there is most value, and I have found that libertarians and "neo-objectivists" are a rather poor investment.

Second, Melissa's introduction led off with the typical sort of libertarian slam against the personnage of Ayn Rand. I never abide with someone who is disrespectful to Ayn Rand.

Third, as I have mentioned previously in this thread, I make special allowances for young people who are attracted to libertarianism, allowances I do not make for those who are old-enough to know better. You will note by Melissa's picture that she represents the latter, not the former.

Fourth, I consider libertarianism and its representatives to be enemies of Objectivism, just as much as I likewise consider avowed communists to be. If you do not understand why this is so in principle, I would suggest you have more thinking to do.

And fifth, please do not lecture me on how I should treat others in relation to Objectivism. It is quite ironic that you have the audacity to do so, considering that it was I who contacted you, bringing you back to this forum after noting that you left because of what I saw as your mistreatment by others.

(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.)

I gave David my opinion in this post earlier in this thread. It is my view that libertarians should not be allowed to promote there ideas here, just as Harry Binswanger would never permit his HBL list to be used to promote libertarian views. To my knowledge this is the only large interactive forum that is at least allied to Objectivism and ARI, and I think it should adhere to standards that would shield us from being assaulted by the likes of communist and libertarian ideas. There are more than enough other places on the internet, and elsewhere, where it is difficult to get away from those sort of characters. And, again, as I mentioned in my first post in this thread, such a policy need not exclude honest young people from asking questions about libertarianism and Objectivism. That is entirely different from having to listen to the libertarian nonsense being promoted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... I would like to raise the question of what should be done about libertarian types on this forum.

...

I have encountered this problem several times. The problem, in general terms, is how to decide whether to include someone or exclude someone from participating in a group. For example, our local Objectivist network discussed this probem when we founded it 10 years ago.

The problem is analogous to the problem a writer faces: How can I decide what to exclude or include in my essay?

The general answer to all forms of this problem is to look to the purpose of the group (or article or whatever). A group should have a purpose and should have a formal statement of purpose. Such a statement answers the question: Why? For example, why are we forming a local Objectivist group?

If X furthers the purpose, then you keep X. If X doesn't further the purpose, you lop X off. Purpose is the razor.

What is the purpose of ObjectivismOnline? Through the home page ("About Us") I found this:

"Our Purpose: ObjectivismOnline.NET is a student-run online community created to bring together the vast marketplace of Objectivist ideas, commentary on current events, essays written by intellectuals, discussion with Objectivists, and the vast number of other Objectivist websites that have spread across the Internet."

You should be able to use this statement of purpose to make a decision about whether to allow libertarians, in general, entry or whether to allow any particular individual entry into the group.

Unfortunately, I see a problem. The ObjectivismOnline statement of purpose doesn't answer the question of why. Instead, it answers this question: What shall we do? The answer is that ObjectivismOnline will provide space for essays, a marketplace, and so forth.

If the purpose, however, of ObjectivismOnline is to, for example, enhance interaction between Objectivists for mutual emotional, cognitive, and financial profit -- then deciding whether to include libertarians becomes much easier: Do libertarians participating in this forum bring Objectivists mutual profit or not?

My own answer to the last question is, yes, allowing a few libertarians in at a time, under strict rules of behavior (that apply to everyone else) is good for achieving at least part of the purpose -- the cognitive profit part.

Everyone gains from debate (assuming purpose-driven rules of etiquette). Debating libertarians, conservatives, and leftists is good practice -- and very informative for new Objectivists who watch the debate.

Perhaps an arena can be set aside. Perhaps, too, non-Objectivists could wear a tag: I am a Xxxxxx. Perhaps, also, every new member should be required to state his affiliation: Objectivist, New to Objectivism and not sure, Libertarian or whatever.

In summary, the most important point is to have a clear statement of purpose to use in deciding such issues as membership and etiquette.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe, but is that the function of this site?

The real test, IMO, is "how they respond". Mr. Edwin did not do so well in responding, and I have yet to see how Melissa replies.

The function of the site is up to David. I was only offering my opinion, which he had asked for.

I agree that the test is how a person responds. I have no trouble with banning Mr. Edwin, but I think Melissa deserves a chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe, but is that the function of this site? The balance has to be between providing a place for those interested in Objectivism to discuss the philosophy intelligently, and to learn more about Objectivism, versus recruuting the only-marginally-interested. Of course I haven't been doing this as long as Stephen so I still have some foolish optimism about engaging a self-professed Libertarian in a rational debate and even getting them to see the error of their ways (though I've certainly given up all hope with Charlotte, and at this point don't see any reaon to think the Edwin character is seriously interested in a real discussion of the important philosophical issues). My approach to Charlotte is to just ignore the threads that the takes over, except when I succumb to temptation to resist her bizarre "ideas".

I gave up on "Charlotte" several years ago, long before she came to this forum. But, why should we have to ignore threads where these sort of characters hold court? Why do we have to listen to any of their libertarian or "neo-objectivist" claptrap at all? You have virtually no choice about what is said on that public forum humanities.philosophy.objectivism, so why shouldn't this place be a haven from that sort of nonsense? I think it should, and I think that David (GC, that is, not you) should get with the program and realize that it is in his self-interest in promoting this forum to provide a sanctuary away from communists, libertarians, and "neo-objectivists" promoting their garbage.

(And, again, I am not saying that libertarians should be banned outright. As long as they are respectful and do not actively promote libertarian views, I do not see why they should not join in with others.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Truly amazing. I have been accused by others of being too benevolent and too generous to non-Objectivists who oppose us, and here I am being accused of being too harsh to a supposed Objectivist. :D

And fifth, please do not lecture me on how I should treat others in relation to Objectivism. It is quite ironic that you have the audacity to do so, considering that it was I who contacted you, bringing you back to this forum after noting that you left because of what I saw as your mistreatment by others. 

My apologies, Stephen. I did not intend to accuse or lecture you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This isn't my site, and these sorts of decisions belong to the owners and operators of it. From my perspective, it's irritating to see Libertarians taking advantage of the number of interested people that Objectivism draws here, to promote their agenda. My guess is that all one can do practically is terminate threads or memberships when the activity becomes particularly blatant. Maybe the forum rules should be more specific in what constitutes anti-Objectivist and irrational ideas that may not be promoted?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why do we have to listen to any of their libertarian or "neo-objectivist" claptrap at all? You have virtually no choice about what is said on that public forum humanities.philosophy.objectivism, so why shouldn't this place be a haven from that sort of nonsense?

I had to take myself out for a walk, so I cut my post short, short of musing about exactly that point. There is a difference between the noise level here and the noise level on HPO, and I find the noise level here acceptable. If it were any worse, it would not be, at least for me. My view is that a flagrant and repeated pattern of non-responsiveness is a unmistakable sign that somebody is not posting here for the purpose of learning about and discussing Objectivism. At the moment, I can't make this any more explicit, but I think that the principle should not be to restrict people who self-label as Libertarians, but rather to restrict people whose posts do not address the purpose of this board. I'll see if the right words come to me tomorrow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At the moment, I can't make this any more explicit, but I think that the principle should not be to restrict people who self-label as Libertarians, but rather to restrict people whose posts do not address the purpose of this board. I'll see if the right words come to me tomorrow.

Okay. But just so there is no misunderstanding, my suggestion is not to restrict Libertarians per se, but to restrain them from promoting the libertarian agenda.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My apologies, Stephen.

Accepted. I'm sorry, but I am passionate about ideas, and equally passionate about justice, so I measure my judgments quite carefully beforehand. I am the last person who would want to alienate a good person, but the first to condemn one whom I judge to be bad. I do not abide with libertarianism, and I certainly will not abide with someone who is disrespectful to Ayn Rand. Hence, the strength of my previous remarks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the onslaught against libertarianism is grossly misguided. Seems you people are just interested in people being "Objectivists" with a capital "O" instead of the thoughtful discussion of ideas. Similar to a cult. Sad really.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the onslaught against libertarianism is grossly misguided.  Seems you people are just interested in people being "Objectivists" with a capital "O" instead of the thoughtful discussion of ideas.  Similar to a cult.  Sad really.

I would hate to have you feel sad. Here is a place that does not make such a big deal about capital letters. Perhaps there you can be happy instead of sad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer the original question, I say deal with Libertarians in the exact same way as everone else: Use Rand's Razor. Make them state their premises. Don't allow anyone here to post if they do not accept the three axioms.

Or, if you want to be gentler, don't allow anyone to post outside the metaphysics forum unless they accept the three axioms. As Betsy said, correct their false ideas, but trace them to where the contradiction is. If it's in metaphysics, then ban them until they recant. Do I have to go on about how pointless it is to talk to someone who doesn't accept the axioms?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the onslaught against libertarianism is grossly misguided.  Seems you people are just interested in people being "Objectivists" with a capital "O" instead of the thoughtful discussion of ideas.  Similar to a cult.  Sad really.

Is your post self-referential? In other words, is your post an example of "thoughtful discussion of ideas"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the onslaught against libertarianism is grossly misguided.  Seems you people are just interested in people being "Objectivists" with a capital "O" instead of the thoughtful discussion of ideas.  Similar to a cult.  Sad really.

You want a thoughtful dicussion of ideas, as long as they agree with you, or you start with ad hominems?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just had an idea for how to deal with people who are not Objectivists, or at least serious students of Objectivism (as I would consider myself). Perhaps new members and anonymous guests should only be allowed to post in the Basic Questions forum. After they had sufficiently demonstrated their willingness and ability to discuss Objectivism seriously, they could apply to be promoted to full membership and allowed to roam the forum at will. They could still be banned or demoted, and perhaps some current members should be demoted. I know this idea would mean extra work for the mods, but the core group of regular posters is fairly small so perhaps it would not be so bad.

What do y'all think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the use of the "libertarian" label serves no purpose here. Unless I know WHY a person identifies him/herself as such, it really doesn't tell me anything about that person. I refuse to assume I know what they mean because people may have different reasons for identifying themselves as one.

There are probably as many interpretations for what a "true libertarian" is, as there are people who believe they are one. Objectivism is more clearly defined, yet people still mistakenly refer to themselves as Objectivists, when all they really are is confused.

We are better off if we use our time in this forum to stick to ideas and issues. Should someone choose to identify him/herself using a label other than "Objectivist", then before anyone jumps to conclusions about what they believe is going on in that person's mind, he/she should be asked to explain what is meant by the term. Otherwise we risk ending up with an endless back and forth debate based on mistaken assumptions.

We should judge people not by who they say they are, but what they say and do. Knowing someone who calls himself an Objectivist tells me nothing about how he will vote in the upcoming election. If I guessed, there'd be a good chance I'd be wrong. Later I may consider him a jerk for voting for Kerry, but the reason wouldn't be because he was an Objectivist, it would be for what he had done. (Just my personal opinion, I detest Kerry).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is proper to make a distinction between those who call themselves libertarians or "small-o"-Objectivists, as opposed to those who say they support the Libertarian party or The "Objectivist" Center.

In my experience, the former group often includes sincere but confused newcomers. I was myself once such a person, calling myself a "Libertarian" before I fully understood Objectivism. Looking back, I am certain that I never evaded anything during that pre-Objectivist period, and more importantly in this context, I refrained from activism, or supporting Objectivism's enemies.

However, those who *actively* support organizations and individuals who promote libertarianism, toleration, or Ayn Rand-bashing, is a different beast.

I think this category should be thrown out as a matter of strict policy, because a line must be drawn at the point where bad ideas turn into demonstrably harmful actions.

The best of them might be considered to have the same status as Dagny when she first discovered Galt's Gulch: It was evident that she was not an evader, yet still she wasn't welcome until she stopped supporting the looters.

There is not reason to grant those who vote Libertarian -- a party that can't even make a distinction between the US and a dictatorship -- more sanction than Galt granted Dagny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Knowing someone who calls himself an Objectivist tells me nothing about how he will vote in the upcoming election.  If I guessed, there'd be a good chance I'd be wrong.  Later I may consider him a jerk for voting for Kerry, but the reason wouldn't be because he was an Objectivist, it would be for what he had done.

The difference is that Objectivists may honestly disagree on their choice of presidential candidate, whereas Ayn Rand was quite clear on her opinion of libertarianism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the onslaught against libertarianism is grossly misguided.  Seems you people are just interested in people being "Objectivists" with a capital "O" instead of the thoughtful discussion of ideas.  Similar to a cult.  Sad really.

I think anyone who pulls out the "cult" nonsense should be banned outright, because they've proven their hostility toward this board, its members, and the philosophy they endorse. At most, they should get one warning (which I've gone ahead and done in this case).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...