Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
JamesShrugged

An AnarchObjectivist's Guide to Atlas Shrugged

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

"AnarchObjectivism" is a contradiction. "Objectivism" refers to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and Miss Rand explicitly rejected anarchy in her philosophical writings:

Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: . . . a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.

(From "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness. Link.)

You are, of course, free to disagree with Ayn Rand in the field of politics, but you are not free to use her name (in the form of "Objectivism," which means "the philosophy of Ayn Rand") to promote a philosophy with which she explicitly disagreed. You also should not ascribe to her characters motives that they do not display in her novels (because it would be the same as ascribing to her ideas that were not hers). As can be seen in the conclusion of Atlas Shrugged, when Judge Narragansett (I think, it's been a while) adds his own modification to the US Constitution. This action on his part (which is supported by the other strikers) is explicit endorsement of the idea that a government must exist as an objective monopolist on retaliatory force, enforcer of contracts, and arbiter of disagreements.

On the topic of anarchy, I agree completely with Miss Rand (as you can probably tell). Anarchy is the same as rule by mob, because permissible force is not placed under the sole authority of an objective and restricted body but is permitted to any men who may choose to use it. In an anarchy, anyone could use force to enforce any laws they choose, because it is quite simply rule by brute force (You can say that initiation of force would be inadmissible, but without a government, who would prevent it from occurring? Blank-out). It is far more moral and practical to place force under the control of an objective government than to eliminate the concept of laws altogether and leave men with no objective body to protect them from brutes. I would rather live in a society with the modern American mixed system than in a society with no government, because at least some of America's current laws are objective while the concept of objective law would not even exist in a system of anarchy.

Edited by 425

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  The destruction of the state in Atlas Shrugged was not a good thing. It wasn't privatized into a bunch of competing firms of anything wacky like that. It fell apart Roman Empire style (Diocletian).  

 

 

In an anarchy, anyone could use force to enforce any laws they choose, because it is quite simply rule by brute force (You can say that initiation of force would be inadmissible, but without a government, who would prevent it from occurring? Blank-out).

Oh and socialism doesn't work because they can't get anyone to take out the garbage!!! 

 

 Do you really think libertarians "blank out" when they consider the problem of preventing people from using force? This stuff is free at least take the time if you are going to post about it. You come off like a troll when you use Rand's rhetorical devices so casually. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you really think libertarians "blank out" when they consider the problem of preventing people from using force? This stuff is free at least take the time if you are going to post about it. You come off like a troll when you use Rand's rhetorical devices so casually.

Anarchists blank out, not libertarians. Unless you want to argue that libertarianism is anarchism or least essentially anarchism, which I would very interested in reading, you really went off on a tangent here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is the story of a group of anarcho-capitalists, led by inventor John Galt, who struggle against and eventually destroy the state and its allies in business.

Actually, it is about a group of anti-establishment dreamers who form a commune of their own, and start to write their own constitution: it is the end predicted by John Steinbeck in "Grapes of Wrath", where the good people rise up and rebel against evil big businessmen, symbolized by Orren Boyle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh and socialism doesn't work because they can't get anyone to take out the garbage!!! 

 

 Do you really think libertarians "blank out" when they consider the problem of preventing people from using force? This stuff is free at least take the time if you are going to post about it. You come off like a troll when you use Rand's rhetorical devices so casually.

Unless you can explain how anarchists are able to convince themselves that bad people will never be able to accumulate more force than good people in a society without a government, then yes, I do really think that. Anarchists seem to evade the fact that their system can be easily exploited by anyone with malicious intent and the means to obtain weapons and manpower, since such a person would be on a level playing field with any organization of force-wielding do-gooders (which anarchists call DROs, Dispute Resolution Organizations. I'm familiar with this stuff, I didn't discover "anarcho-capitalists" yesterday).

There are many reasons socialism doesn't work, but I'm sure you know them. I don't see how "because they can't get anyone to take out the garbage" is one of them, though. I would think socialists would take out the garbage by means of a government-run garbage collection service, which would probably be just as efficient as other government-provided services.

Also, "the non-taking out of garbage" is not exactly a flaw as massive in its importance as "malicious force users permitted to accumulate power."

I'm not using her rhetorical devices casually. If I had said something like "how would people solve disagreements in an anarchy? Blank out," then I would have been, because I know full well that anarchists support the formation of Dispute Resolution Organizations as private companies to handle such issues. "Blank-out" means "evasion," and anarchists do seem to evade the fact that the lack of a government could lead to an uninhibited rise of malicious force-using groups. The closest I've seen to an answer provided by anarchists on this is basically the idea that the good force-users would outnumber the bad ones, which is not exactly the type of guarantee I'm looking for. Anarchists also seem unable to answer what would happen if a force-using corporation turned its force on its consumers, in effect becoming a government, complete with involuntary taxation. If you or anyone else would like to answer these satisfactorily, I will be glad to repudiate my statement that these constitute evasions on the part of anarchists. Until then, I'll stand by my claim.

And I come off like a troll? I don't see how. You seem willing to disregard the entirety of my post, which was clearly non-troll-like, in favor of one line (in parentheses, no less!) where I used a Rand quote to say that on a certain issue, it seems to me that anarchists practice evasion. I did not put words in her mouth (I did not suggest that she had come up with the idea that anarchists practice evasion on that issue), I merely pointed out an observation I had made using a pithy literary allusion with which just about everyone on this board should be familiar.

An Internet troll is someone who comes onto a message board or comments section for the main purpose of angering people or causing mayhem. I don't have as long a posting history on this forum as you do, but I think it is sufficient (along with my post in this very thread) to show that I am not here solely to anger people or cause mayhem. If you don't like a literary allusion I made, fine, explain to me why you think I was wrong to use it. I'm willing to have my mind changed. But I'm only willing to change it when I'm confronted with a rational argument, not claims that I am a troll.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anarchists blank out, not libertarians.

???

Care to expand on this? Anarchists "blank out" [explaining how defense services on the free market could work]? No anarchist has ever written anything on this or responded to any arguments many, many, times, including the ones above?

Edited by 2046

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless you can explain how anarchists are able to convince themselves that bad people will never be able to accumulate more force than good people in a society without a government, then yes, I do really think that. Anarchists seem to evade the fact that their system can be easily exploited by anyone with malicious intent and the means to obtain weapons and manpower,

Really now, no anarchist has ever responded to an argument that bad people could obtain weapons and manpower? Let's be honest here, don't you think that to be a basic requirement of intellectual inquiry?

 

"Blank-out" means "evasion," and anarchists do seem to evade the fact that the lack of a government could lead to an uninhibited rise of malicious force-using groups. The closest I've seen to an answer provided by anarchists on this is basically the idea that the good force-users would outnumber the bad ones, which is not exactly the type of guarantee I'm looking for. Anarchists also seem unable to answer what would happen if a force-using corporation turned its force on its consumers, in effect becoming a government, complete with involuntary taxation. If you or anyone else would like to answer these satisfactorily, I will be glad to repudiate my statement that these constitute evasions on the part of anarchists. Until then, I'll stand by my claim.

 

Okay, I'm sorry, but there's a difference between "evasion" and "disagreeing." Otherwise, literally everyone else on the planet except you is an evader. You can say that you aren't convinced by, or don't agree with such arguments as you have seen, but once such arguments are presented, you can't use terms like "blanking out" and "evading" just to express your mere disagreement.

Edited by 2046

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never seen one satisfactorily respond to that argument. If such responses are as easy to find as you say, please present one.

I would agree. There is a difference between someone who is acting on mistaken premises and is wrong because of them, and someone who intentionally avoids truths. I've seen anarchists confronted with this argument on other forums before and in my experience they respond by arguing that the good force users would somehow manage to overpower the bad ones. This, to me, is not a satisfactory argument, because it relies on a lot of guesswork. It does not solve the problem — I'm sure anarchists would have to concede that there is a possible scenario in which bad force users could overpower the good in a society without a government (since men have free will and can choose to be good or evil). It merely asserts that it could never happen. I don't hold a malevolent universe premise, but the current state of our world tells me that this view is at least a little bit naïve at best and outright evasion of man's volitional nature at worst.

Evasion is intentionally avoiding knowledge of a fact of reality when presented with it. There are people who hold explicit philosophies that are fundamentally evil and yet, they have never been presented with the facts of reality that prove this and thus cannot be evading. But if an anarchist is shown the flaw in their plan and refuses to consider it, then that anarchist is practicing evasion.

If they present an argument, and someone then points out that it does not solve the problem, and they proceed to refuse to consider THAT — they are evading.

I'd be totally fine with you proving me wrong, I would just like you to do it rather than merely asserting that I am wrong. I'm not wedded to the evasion description, and I'm inclined to think I may have been a bit too harsh in making it. But on a matter of principle, I won't rescind it until and unless someone proves that it is incorrect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay but I mean, there are good arguments, and there are bad arguments. Someone people might disagree with you over what constitutes one or the other, because someone didn't respond to your argument the way you wanted doesn't mean that is evasion going on.

Edited by 2046

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bump.

Seriously, nobody is going to touch what 2046 wrote?

Objectivism led me to AnarchoCapitalism too. In fact, until I read On The Nature of Government in Ayn Rand's Virtue of Selfishness, I too thought Rand was promoting a rational Anarchy.

That's been one of the things I can't wrap my head around; why Rand considered a government necessary? Except when she explicitly states her approval of some type of government, I'd have bet money that her Epistemology and Ethics were leading up to a renouncing of that secular religion known as The State; with the same argument and for the same reason as her rejection of Mystic religion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rand considers a government necessary in order to place force under objective control. A society of 'competing' governments is not a society with objective law. When there is a dispute amongst two groups, who decides? Whose law is to be followed? There is no answer. There is no objectivity. But the problem with anarchy is deeper than the practical issues. You have to understand that Rand's views on force are different than the traditional libertarian view. Rand identifies force as evil because it is anti-mind, anti-value, and therefore anti-life. Force is not a good to be transacted in, as 2046 believes it is:

 

 

The fundamental question is this: under which system, market competition or government monopoly, is there a better constitutional makeup for dealing with such abuses? I think there are powerful reasons to believe the competitive market provides a much more sophisticated and complex constitutional structure (by way of separation of powers and checks and balances) than any state monopoly.

 

Market competition in force is a contradiction in terms. A 'market' presupposes that force has been extracted from the trade. Competition in the realm of force is anti-mind and it's clear what this kind of 'competition' leads to in practice.

 

Contrast Rand's view with the traditional libertarian view of force as evil. Why is force is evil? It just is. They then attempt to apply the non-initiation of force principle as a context-less absolute. This ultimately leads to the complete hatred of the state. Look at the libertarian magazine, Reason. They constantly post stories bashing policemen.

 

According to Objectivism, a state limited to the protection of individual rights is not a necessary evil. It is a necessary good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bump.

Seriously, nobody is going to touch what 2046 wrote?

He wrote it a few dozen times. We answered for quite a few of them. I guess we just got tired of the repetitive dullnesss of debating anarchists. You're welcome to look up a few other threads on the subject, see what we have to say in response to the suggestion that anarchy would allow moral men to live in peace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's been one of the things I can't wrap my head around; why Rand considered a government necessary?

 

I believe the gist of it was that without a government we would collapse into perpetual civil war, and any denial of that would stem from a naively optimistic view of mankind.  Now, speaking exclusively for myself, I take that to mean something clear and specific about every single person in the world.  How it squares with anything else she wrote about mankind, I don't care to elaborate on (although if you're interested, Nicky is right; just search for threads involving "anarchy").  I will say, however, that I think 2046 absolutely nailed it with the observation of "guaranteeing" justice.  If you should descend into all of the legion iterations of this argument, you'll find that theme in every single one.

 

 

Seriously, nobody is going to touch what 2046 wrote?

 

"Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and upsets the pig."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×