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Godless Capitalist

Greens vs. Humanity?

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The leaders of the environmentalist movement care about as much about the environment as Democrats care about the poor. They use it only as a means to get people to follow them.

The followers, well...some of them are just mistaken because they believe the hoaxes, but the overwhelming majority is attracted to the movement because they share the movement's hatred for success, capitalism, and America. In other words, the environment is not the primary issue for them, either.

CF: I am not ignoring RC; I just don't agree with him. His points above are valid, just not relevant to the points I am trying to make. Being an environmentalist does not automatically make a person a collectivist. Yes, many environmentalists are collectivists, but not all, and environmentalism does not automatically lead to collectivism. If RC can show that it does, his points will be relevant, but so far they are not.

I agree somewhat about the leaders of the environmental movement, but not necessarily about the followers. A very large percentage of Americans would describe themselves as environmentalists, not because of "hatred for success, capitalism, and America" but because of genuine legitimate concern for the effects of pollution.

It seems as if both of you are simply buying into the caricature of environmentalism promoted by some Objectivists. Have either ever read any actual environmentalist literature?

(By the way, RC's first post in this thread shows that he missed the point. The examples I gave that he criticized were meant only to show that environmentalists do not always place nature above humans. His criticism, while valid on its own terms, was not relevant to the point I was trying to make. I explained that once already but he persists in repeating the same irrelevant criticism.)

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I just thought of a good analogy:

Most people are concerned about being attacked by criminals and want to be protected against them (let's call this the anticriminalist movement).

Most anticriminalists are in favor of using taxes to raise money to pay for police.

The use of taxes is a collectivist method.

Now does this mean that being an anticriminalist automatically makes one a collectivist? Does the fact that most anticriminalists are collectivists discredit the concerns of the anticriminalist movement? No and no.

If I have made an error somewhere by all means point it out to me. But please address what I am actually saying.

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But your example with the coconuts seems to depend on the idea that the rights violation occurs when the pollutant is released and directly harms someone.

LOL That's a pretty lame attempt. I deliberately based my example on a single coconut's fumes not harming anyone, only the combined fumes of at least 3501 coconuts. I also postulated that, when a nut is opened, the person to be blinded is not necessarily the one who opened it, but that the cumulative fumes will victimize some randomly chosen folks who may live on the farthest corner of the island from the guy who opened the last nut. So the effect is anything but direct.

Not only does the solution in my example not depend on a direct effect, but a direct effect isn't even present in my example.

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Whether their understanding of its principles are complete or incomplete does not change that fact.  Whether their "intentions" are good or bad does not change that fact.

As soon as a person recognizes a movement as irrational, there is no excuse for his continued involvement in it. With communism, naziism, or environmentalism, this recognition must inevitably come very soon, if not immediately.

As long as the only thing you know about Nazis is that they want to help businesses, your agreement with them is attributable to an honest error. As soon as you learn about how they want to "help businesses"--and you are bound to learn that as soon as they open their mouth--your continued agreement with them is an absolute and incontrovertible indication of your immorality.

As long as the only thing you know about environmentalists is that they want a pleasant place to live, your agreement with them is attributable to an honest error. As soon as you learn about how they want to achieve their purported goal--and you are bound to learn that as soon as they open their mouth--your continued agreement with them is an absolute and incontrovertible indication of your immorality.

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Now does this mean that being an anticriminalist automatically makes one a collectivist? Does the fact that most anticriminalists are collectivists discredit the concerns of the anticriminalist movement? No and no.

A movement is a group of people with a shared ideology, acting in cooperation to promote the ideology.

There is a difference between hating crime and participating in a collectivist movement that purports to be against crime but in fact proposes collectivist (and therefore, criminal) means for the achievement of its "goals." Such a movement is blatantly irrational: they propose to reduce crime by committing crimes. Anyone who takes them seriously is himself a criminal, not an anti-criminalist.

Analogously, there is a difference between preferring to live in a clean place and bombing SUV dealerships.

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As long as the only thing you know about environmentalists is that they want a pleasant place to live, your agreement with them is attributable to an honest error. As soon as you learn about how they want to achieve their purported goal--and you are bound to learn that as soon as they open their mouth--your continued agreement with them is an absolute and incontrovertible indication of your immorality.

I couldn't agree more with (all) your posts - including the one quoted above. One question - I'm not sure here if you are trying to make a distinction between what I said and another thought, or if you are just elaborating on my point. Perhaps you could clear that up for me.

Either way, *because* he has such a concrete-bound view, I can virtually guarentee GC will reject your principled approach, essentially because it is not based on the exact concrete circumstances he is imagining ("Oh but my sister isn't immoral NOR collectivist. She doesn't believe in bombing SUV dealerships. This is just more of that Objectivist demonization." - and - "Your coconut example was one where direct harm was caused by the coconuts. What *I'M* asking is what if the coconuts DON'T cause *direct* harm to a human, but cause harm to the Ozone layer, which THEN harms humans What do capitalists do then?").

That is why I do not engage in conversation with him any longer. There is no means by which to carry on a rational discussion if one either refuses to, or is unable to, apply principles.

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The air--like sunshine or wind--is not a scarce resource. It is there for everyone in unlimited quantities. The concept of ownership does not apply to it.

Interesting point... Elaborating... The only objective law in this matter would be after a scientific study was done to determine a harmful threshold for pollutants, what objectively is air pollution, etc. and the objective law would reflect this. Law without this objective scientific study, Arbitrary setting of the threshold, etc. would not be objective law. And this objective law could only regulate this particular behavior (the release of pollutants into the atmosphere) on private property... Is this an accurate (very brief) summary? This is what I was thrying to get at in a previous post. I accept the property rights argument to environmentalism, but was confused in its application. In retrospect, my question should have been: Can behavior on your private property ever be preemptively banned by the government if that behavior would result in exceeding an objectively defined threshold of harm to other human beings? If I understand correctly, the answer is yes in this carefully delimited case.

This could be applied to other 'environmentalist' laws that I don't agree with.. For example, my neighborhood has a 'No trash burning ordinance', I understood how this could be resolved with property rights, but then someone would always take the air pollution angle...

Based on the quote above, is it safe to say that ownership only applies to a limited resource, limited as delimited by a human perspective (every resource is limited in quantity)

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I couldn't agree more with (all) your posts - including the one quoted above.

Thanks. :D I too agree with everything I've read from you on this forum.

One question -  I'm not sure here if you are trying to make a distinction between what I said and another thought, or if you are just elaborating on my point.  Perhaps you could clear that up for me.
I was just elaborating, with the purpose of assuring anyone who reads this that the reason we fault environmentalists is not because we require everyone to be omniscient, but because it is impossible to listen to the leaders of the environmentalist movement without immediately recognizing their vitriolic hatred of success, capitalism, America and, ultimately, mankind.

Either way, *because* he has such a concrete-bound view, I can virtually guarentee GC will reject your principled approach

I just wonder what he'll do when he finally runs out of concrete-bound objections. Will he accept reality and change his mind? Will he just reiterate his old objections even after I have refuted them in many different ways? Or will he act like a true liberal and simply call me a Nazi? What will he do NOW that I've made him aware of his options? I'm curious...

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A movement is a group of people with a shared ideology, acting in cooperation to promote the ideology.

I think this is the root of our disagreement. I don't think the environmentalist movement shares a single consistent ideology. If it did I would agree with you completely.

I agree that part of the environmentalist movement has a consistent anti-human ideology, but that is not the entire movement. I pointed this out near the beginning of this thread.

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The only objective law in this matter would be after a scientific study was done to determine a harmful threshold for pollutants, what objectively is air pollution, etc. and the objective law would reflect this.  Law without this objective scientific study, Arbitrary setting of the threshold, etc. would not be objective law.  And this objective law could only regulate this particular behavior (the release of pollutants into the atmosphere) on private property... Is this an accurate (very brief) summary?

Yes, it is. Although I wouldn't use the word "regulate" to describe what the government would do. Laws that prohibit theft, rape, or murder aren't typically called "regulations." This would be just another law protecting people's rights, not a regulation limiting people's options on how to perform actions that violate nobody's rights.

Can behavior on your private property ever be preemptively banned by the government if that behavior would result in exceeding an objectively defined threshold of harm to other human beings?

What do you mean by "preemptively ban" ?

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What do you mean by "preemptively ban" ?

Basically, the law exists before the action is done by the individual on his private property... The law states that even though you may not have committed this 'crime', if you do this will happen...

Where I am confused is when is it proper for the government to legislate conduct on private property...

I thought (maybe incorrectly) that 'private property' was a sort of trump-everything card that could be used to justify any conduct on private property...

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I just wonder what he'll do when he finally runs out of concrete-bound objections. Will he accept reality and change his mind? Will he just reiterate his old objections even after I have refuted them in many different ways? Or will he act like a true liberal and simply call me a Nazi? What will he do NOW that I've made him aware of his options? I'm curious...

Here's another possibility: I will keep asking questions to try to get you to clarify your position. Did it ever occur to you that the problem is that I don't understand your explanation because it is unclear and incomplete?

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I think this is the root of our disagreement. I don't think the environmentalist movement shares a single consistent ideology. If it did I would agree with you completely.

You're perfectly right about their having no consistent ideology! :D

Now go to http://www.greenpeace.org/ and follow the "about us" link at the top left corner (it is the first link). Read the first sentence on that page (the one in bold green letters just below the "About us" heading). What does that sentence say to you about the nature of this organization?

Note that this is the very first sentence of their self-introduction, which is the very first thing they offer for interested visitors to read, on the very first website that a person interested in environmentalism is likely to visit.

Then read the fourth bullet of the "We campaign to" list, which should be about three inches below the first sentence. What does that tell you about their priorities regarding man vs. animals?

Then, a little lower, read the end of the sentence beginning "We exist to expose environmental criminals, and to challenge government and corporations when..."

This is the sort of talk you always get from Greenpeace and other groups who call themselves environmentalists. Can a person who believes in capitalism and individual rights possibly call himself an environmentalist knowing what kind of person the word "environmentalist" stands for?

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Basically, the law exists before the action is done by the individual on his private property...  The law states that even though you may not have committed this 'crime', if you do this will happen...

All decent laws exist before any action they refer to. You can't just pass a law in 2003 saying, "It has been illegal to do this and that since 1998." All you can do is say "It shall be illegal to..." meaning it shall be illegal from now on.

Where I am confused is when is it proper for the government to legislate conduct on private property...

ALL property is private in a fully capitalist society. Yet, it is illegal to murder anyone, no matter whose private property you are on.

You commit a crime when you violate somebody's right to life, liberty, property, or pursuit of happiness. Whether such a violation is a crime is completely independent of whose property it was committed on. It is proper for the government to ban and prosecute all crime.

I thought this was elementary.

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Great; at last we are getting somewhere. I completely agree with you about Greenpeace. All I am saying is that Greenpeace and other similar groups is that they are not the entire movement. Somebody who is concerned about excess air pollution affecting their health (as in your coconuts example) is also an environmentalist and perhaps should be called a "rational environmentalist" to distinguish them from Greenpeace etc.

It is beginning to seem as if all we are arguing about is the definition of "environmentalist." Agreed, or not?

I would consider The Nature Conservancy an environmental organization. They use private funds to buy and preserve parts of ecosystems that they think are worth preserving. Do you also consider them "anti-human" etc?

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Somebody who is concerned about excess air pollution affecting their health (as in your coconuts example) is also an environmentalist and perhaps should be called a "rational environmentalist" to distinguish them from Greenpeace etc.

I would simply call him a person concerned for his health.

It is beginning to seem as if all we are arguing about is the definition of "environmentalist." Agreed, or not?
Well, if you define an environmentalist as any person who likes to live in a clean, pleasant, and healthy environment, then of course it is true that not every environmentalist is evil. Most people--and every Objectivist--would be an "environmentalist" by this standard. But this is by far not the common usage of the term. Clearly, the ARI editorials are not referring to environmentalists in this sense, but they use the word to denote the Greenpeace types.

I would consider The Nature Conservancy an environmental organization. They use private funds to buy and preserve parts of ecosystems that they think are worth preserving. Do you also consider them "anti-human" etc?

Do they call themselves environmentalists? Do they express support for Greenpeace's activities?

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Not obviously, no, and as far as I know they do not support Greenpeace.

I found this interesting:

"Poll after poll shows that Americans by and large consider themselves environmentalists because they appreciate the environment and support sensible efforts to ensure clean air, water, and land."

(from http://www.uschamber.com/government/issues...t/greenbook.htm )

So my usage of the term "environmentalist" is the common usage. By using the term "environmentalist" to refer only to radical anti-human environmentalists, the ARI editorials make it look as if Objectivism is opposed to all environmental concerns, even legitimate ones. That was my main point in starting this thread.

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LOL That's a pretty lame attempt. I deliberately based my example on a single coconut's fumes not harming anyone, only the combined fumes of at least 3501 coconuts. I also postulated that, when a nut is opened, the person to be blinded is not necessarily the one who opened it, but that the cumulative fumes will victimize some randomly chosen folks who may live on the farthest corner of the island from the guy who opened the last nut. So the effect is anything but direct.

Not only does the solution in my example not depend on a direct effect, but a direct effect isn't even present in my example.

What I meant by "direct" is that just that the action of releasing the fumes affacts others directly with no intermediate steps. Your bullet analogy was apt.

I see the ozone layer as indirect and thus not necessarily covered by your answer. Let me use a revised version of your example:

Let's say that the fumes from the cocunuts harm, not people, but wild pigs. The pigs are an important food source for people on the island but do not belong to anybody; they just roam at wild. Now if we apply your reasoning to this it seems you would be saying that it would be proper to restrict actions that harm the pigs (ie opening the 3501th coconut). It seems that a legitimate response to this would be "You don't own the pigs, so you don't have the right to tell me whether I can harm them or not. You may depend on them for food, but since you don't own them you can't regulate what others do to them."

It seems as if the same reasoning should apply to the ozone layer. Nobody owns it, so nobody has a right to tell anyone else they cannot damage it. Private ownership of the ozone layer would solve the problem, but how would such ownership be established?

By the way, what makes you so sure that claims like the idea that CFCs are damaging the ozone layer are hoaxes? Do you have the needed scientific training to evaluate this claim for yourself?

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CF

You are a glutton for punishment, aren't you. :D

I really nailed it, didn't I:

Me: ""Your coconut example was one where direct harm was caused by the coconuts. What *I'M* asking is what if the coconuts DON'T cause *direct* harm to a human, but cause harm to the Ozone layer, which THEN harms humans."

GC: "What I meant by "direct" is that just that the action of releasing the fumes affacts others directly with no intermediate steps. I see the ozone layer as indirect and thus not necessarily covered by your answer."

LOL!

Oh - and another thing I really liked was the claim that as an ideology, environmentalism has no ideology. So then what exactly is referenced by the concept? Oh - that's right - whatever people feel like assigning to the term - regardless of whether it is a valid conception or not.

Also most communists were worried about the poor and standards of living. I guess because that was the REASON they accepted communism, and that was how they viewed communism, then that made those things fact. They weren't really communists at all. In fact, because hardly anyone identified communism in the same way as objectivists, there ought to be a different term for those who were rabid communists and those who just sought to help the poor. ;)

As an aside, may I ask why you continue with the discussion if you realize it is pointless? Morbid curiosity? The reason I end participation in such conversations is that, once the irrationality of the person has been revealed, continuing to treat them as if their irrationality is rational only sanctions their behavior at the expense of actual rationality. It sanctions the bad at the expense of the good.

Do you have a different take on the matter?

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As an aside, may I ask why you continue with the discussion if you realize it is pointless?  Morbid curiosity?  The reason I end participation in such conversations is that, once the irrationality of the person has been revealed, continuing to treat them as if their irrationality is rational only sanctions their behavior at the expense of actual rationality.  It sanctions the bad at the expense of the good.

Do you have a different take on the matter?

Refuting irrational arguments does not per se amount to sanctioning the irrational; in fact, the ARI editorials themselves often refute the arguments of irrational people. What would be a sanction is to accept the irrational premises and argue on that basis, or--as did David Kelley--to participate in an event sponsored by the irrationalist movement.

At least that is how I see it; I haven't thought about this very much, so I may well be wrong. If I am, do correct me.

I don't think the discussion has been pointless; my purpose has not been to convince GC, but to see how good I am at refuting him. Also, I couldn't quite tell whether he was being irrational on purpose or just terribly slow on the take-up--though his latest example with the wild pigs seems to reveal quite clearly that he isn't paying attention to my arguments beyond using them as a starting point for his next objection. If he did, it would be clear to him that there would be no "public pigs" in a capitalist society.

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I don't think the discussion has been pointless; my purpose has not been to convince GC, but to see how good I am at refuting him. Also, I couldn't quite tell whether he was being irrational on purpose or just terribly slow on the take-up--though his latest example with the wild pigs seems to reveal quite clearly that he isn't paying attention to my arguments beyond using them as a starting point for his next objection. If he did, it would be clear to him that there would be no "public pigs" in a capitalist society.

In my opinion the problem is that you are not very good at refuting me. I have raised legitimate objections, to which you have not given adequate responses. I agree completely that there would be no public pigs. The question is: how do you apply your concepts to the ozone layer? It would not be public property, so who would own it and how would such ownership be established? If nobody would own it, how could govt legitimately restrict how much damage could be done to it? Instead of making snide comments about me, why don't you try actually answering my questions?

I never said that environmentalism was an ideology; that was your premise. I have shown you that that premise only applies to "radical environmentalism."

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CF

Oh, I know that refuting an irrational argument is not a sanction of that argument. That was not my question.

There are two ways to present an argument - one, by abiding by the means of logic and rationality; two, by proceeding against the means of logic and rationality. In the former case, while one's opponent may present an irrational premise, he can be reasoned with in order to possibly change that premise. In the latter case, no amount of reasoned argument can sway him. There is simply no way to carry on a rational discussion with him because he rejects the fundamentals of reason.

It is in the context of the latter instance that I ask my question. When an individual demonstrates his *behavior* is irrational - ie he demonstrates a rejection of some or all of the principles of logic or reason (as opposed to a simple argument or two being based on an irrational premise) - is not treating him as if he were behaving rationally not a sanction of his irrationality?

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Here is my summary...

I would like to post this again, because I fear it may have been lost in the discussion...

...is it safe to say that ownership only applies to a limited resource, as delimited by a human perspective (every resource is finite, but from human perspective may be considered infinite, without actually being infinite)...

This would apply to the air, the ocean, outer space, low-earth-orbit??,ozone??

No one owns these, correct...

Damaging of the air, per se, is not a crime. It is when something (air-pollution) is transmitted in an objectively defined harmful quantity through that medium AND if adversely effects a human being. If all these criteria have been met, it is a crime... Environmentalist want to protect the air for the air sake, and this is the problem objectivism has with the environmentalist movement... The protection of a resource from man...

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OK, this settles it:

In my opinion the problem is that you are not very good at refuting me. I have raised legitimate objections, to which you have not given adequate responses. I agree completely that there would be no public pigs. The question is: how do you apply your concepts to the ozone layer? It would not be public property, so who would own it and how would such ownership be established? If nobody would own it, how could govt legitimately restrict how much damage could be done to it? Instead of making snide comments about me, why don't you try actually answering my questions?

RadCap, you are perfectly right about him. He's simply ignoring all my arguments. I have made it perfectly clear how any problem related to the ozone layer would be handled (if there were any such problem in the first place). I have stated in all clarity that the concept of ownership does not apply to unlimited resources. I've been perfectly willing to answer his questions and address his objections. He gives me an example with public pigs, then he says he agrees completely that there would be no public pigs. He's making a mockery out of reason. He's shamelessly making a false accusation that I am just making snide comments about him instead of trying to answer his questions, like the communists whined in the 1950s about how Senator McCarthy "prosecuted them without a reason."

GC, I've been giving you the benefit of the doubt, but you blew it big time. I'm joining RadCap in boycotting you.

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...is it safe to say that ownership only applies to a limited resource, as delimited by a human perspective

Yes.

(every resource is finite, but from human perspective may be considered infinite, without actually being infinite)...
Note that "unlimited" is not a synonym of "infinite." "Unlimited" is that which, in the context of some pursuit, you can obtain without worrying about it running out. "Infinite" is, well, a word whose meaning the people who promote its use are themselves pretty much unclear about. :)

This would apply to the air, the ocean, outer space, low-earth-orbit??,ozone??

That's right.

Damaging of the air, per se, is not a crime.  It is when something (air-pollution) is transmitted in an objectively defined harmful quantity through that medium AND if adversely effects a human being.  If all these criteria have been met, it is a crime... Environmentalist want to protect the air for the air sake, and this is the problem objectivism has with the environmentalist movement... The protection of a resource from man...

You hit the nail right on its head!

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