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19 year old Psychology student whose recently taken an interest to Libertarianism and by association, Objectivism as a philosophy/school of thought. Primarily came to the ideology by way of Psychology (specifically Erich Fromm and his emphasis on the control-freedom dichotomy of society), which has made me more appreciating of individualism over the years and skeptical of the ability of government to throw money at things and achieve magical results. I'd say that as it stands im a Neoconservative (scream inducing to vast portions of humanity) with a more small government bent on domestic policy. Basically im here to talk with Objectivists and learn about the ideology, albeit not being one myself. I imagine most can put up with me around here. 

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Welcome to the forum.

I'd say that as it stands im a Neoconservative (scream inducing to vast portions of humanity) with a more small government bent on domestic policy. Basically im here to talk with Objectivists and learn about the ideology, albeit not being one myself. I imagine most can put up with me around here. 

Objectivists are for small-government, but not primarily so, only as a consequence and only relative to what we see today. The primary focus is not size, but the nature and purpose of government. Objectivism says that the purpose of government is the protection of individual rights.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say you're a neo-conservative, so the following may not be relevant to you. However, in contrast to Objectivists, the stereotypical neo-con sees government as having an important role in promoting the common welfare, but thinks it ought to be done via "markets". This makes the stereotypical neo-con is closer to a Trotsky-ite than to a libertarian or Objectivist. Historically, many neo-cons have started as liberals and even as communists and have morphed to neo-con-ism.

As I say, this is not about you, but about the stereo-typical neo-con.

See more here. http://www.cato-unbound.org/2011/03/07/c-bradley-thompson/neoconservatism-unmasked

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First off thanks for the warm welcome everybody! B) 

Welcome to the forum.

Objectivists are for small-government, but not primarily so, only as a consequence and only relative to what we see today. The primary focus is not size, but the nature and purpose of government. Objectivism says that the purpose of government is the protection of individual rights.

This is interesting. I haven't heard this take before, so Objectivists would be willing to have a 'larger government' if they deemed it necessary for the preservation and protection of individual rights? So if it was deemed necessary the government could extend beyond just police, courts and military? How far does this extend the purpose of government in the mind of an Objectivist in an extreme case? I may be misreading this.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say you're a neo-conservative, so the following may not be relevant to you. However, in contrast to Objectivists, the stereotypical neo-con sees government as having an important role in promoting the common welfare, but thinks it ought to be done via "markets". This makes the stereotypical neo-con is closer to a Trotsky-ite than to a libertarian or Objectivist. Historically, many neo-cons have started as liberals and even as communists and have morphed to neo-con-ism.

As I say, this is not about you, but about the stereo-typical neo-con.

Im familiar with the classic Trotskyite connection. Its worth saying that this is a little bit of a misconception. Firstly, Neoconservatism's big intellectual predecessors were the Cold War liberals, Senator Henry Jackson, the Committee on the Present Danger and Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. Their views effectively amounted to that it was the role of the United States to enforce and uphold democracy abroad, with pure human compassion underneath and not specific philosophical ideas. The more philosophical element came in with men like Irving Kristol and Leo Strauss (who coined the term Neocon) when they drifted away from the left, concluding Communism was a disastrous, totalitarian nightmare, and by extension liberalism had become a self-flagellating mess with the advent of the New Left (which contaminates the left to this day).

A guy called Max Shactmann who was also a Trotskyist reached a similar conclusion, but then remained a Marxist. In an oddly unique way, he then used Marxist analysis to demonstrate (in his mind) that it was Capitalist democracy, not Communism, that was the final, most advanced stage in human history, and that 'Capitalist democratic revolutions' must be promoted and spread around the globe instead of Communist ones. Shactmann's ideas then led the Trotskyists fed up with Communism's obvious failure into the Neoconservative movement. So thats primarily where that whole schtick comes from. 

Ultimately, I think Neoconservatism is a foreign policy position of strong-armed interventionism combined with a general disdain for moral relativism and postmodern cultural movements like the New Left focused on flagellating and self-hate of liberal democracy.

Plus: there're the so-called 'Neolibertarians', a guy called Larry Elder is their figurehead, who advocate libertarian domestic/economic policies but support and advocate expansion of the War on Terror abroad.

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... so Objectivists would be willing to have a 'larger government' if they deemed it necessary for the preservation and protection of individual rights? So if it was deemed necessary the government could extend beyond just police, courts and military? How far does this extend the purpose of government in the mind of an Objectivist in an extreme case? I may be misreading this.

I did not mean to imply any change/extend in the purpose of government. If we need 10 cops to properly protect us, that's what we should have. If we need 20, then that larger number is the right one. [I'm assuming that the full context is taken into account in this notion of "need": i.e. how much can be achieved, what we can afford, and a balance against other values.] The same for the military.

On neo-con-ism.... Foreign policy is fine, but no political ideology can have that at its center. If a specific genre of foreign policy puts the "neo" into "neo-conservatism" that still does not describe the core of a neo-conservative. But, I don't think the general movement is worth exploring in an introduction thread. Here, I'd be more interested in what you think. In other words, since you called yourself a neo-con, what do you mean by that? I assume the core to your politics is some idea of the purpose of government.

Dropping labels, do you think one of the important purposes of government is to promote general welfare in some way? For instance, in your conception of government, would something like school-vouchers or tax-credits for schools make sense? Would tax-breaks on some types of savings plans make sense? Would a certain basic safety net for health-care, or for the elderly, or for children make sense? 

 

Edited by softwareNerd

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I did not mean to imply any change/extend in the purpose of government. If we need 10 cops to properly protect us, that's what we should have. If we need 20, then that larger number is the right one. [I'm assuming that the full context is taken into account in this notion of "need": i.e. how much can be achieved, what we can afford, and a balance against other values.] The same for the military.

Ah, I see what you mean. So Objectivists would be willing to maintain a large military force and all that entails if necessary? My issue here is I completely fail to see how this can be funded without some form of general taxation that is not voluntary. But thats a discussion for another thread.

Dropping labels, do you think one of the important purposes of government is to promote general welfare in some way? For instance, in your conception of government, would something like school-vouchers or tax-credits for schools make sense? Would tax-breaks on some types of savings plans make sense? Would a certain basic safety net for health-care, or for the elderly, or for children make sense? 

Yes. I think a part of being a Neocon is definitely acknowledging that the state has a role in promoting general welfare, just not in standard liberal/left-wing ways of throwing money at things. I endorse the welfare state, but not in its current form per sei. I think huge portions of the whole tax system and its various breaks/exemptions need to be reviewed, preferably abolished, I also support a public healthcare system (as we have now in the UK via the NHS). As for education and pensions, im reviewing my stances. I like Friedman's idea of school vouchers but the degree to which its fundable is questionable, and as for pensions, theres the whole solvency problem. For standard welfare, I'd prefer we implemented a negative income tax alongside a stakeholder grant. I also think the state clearly has a duty to maintain a large and cohesive internal and external defense force. In regards to taxation, I am currently in favour of progressive taxation, but am willing to accept that tax cuts have in some circumstances been massively beneficial (I personally admire Ronald Reagan), and the purpose of higher tax brackets should be a 'earn more, pay more' basis and not a punishment for being wealthy, a mindset that increasingly infects the New Left.

In regards to regulations and privatisation, the role of the state should be strictly limited to its general welfare via certain empowerment programs, law and defense purposes, and I'm no fan of heavy bureaucracy (red tape and price controls) or direct state-ownership at all. In the UK our socialist period (akin to Rand's mixed economy) was a disaster. Im with Friedman on monetary policy, government cant fiddle full employment without gross economic distortions and inflationary issues. 

I'd say that sums up my positions on those programs, and when it comes to Neocons in general, we tend to all hover around the centre on economic policy, and come at welfare issues from an aspect emphasising the individual and the family instead of vast, complex collective abstracts like those the New Left introduced that primarily created Neocons to begin with.

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Faust said:

Primarily came to the ideology by way of Psychology (specifically Erich Fromm and his emphasis on the control-freedom dichotomy of society), which has made me more appreciating of individualism over the years and skeptical of the ability of government to throw money at things and achieve magical results.

Did you just say Eric Fromm the Fankfurt School Marxist led you to Objectivism???

Recommend this book on NeoConservativism:

 http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1594518319/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1445880355&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=neoconservatism+an+obituary+for+an+idea

Edited by Plasmatic

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Ms. Rand became famous for her ideas in the philosophical branches of ethics and politics.  Unlike most of her predecessors, Ms. Rand's ideas and conclusions in these derivative areas of philosophy are supported by her later work in epistemology and metaphysics.  To me, what makes Objectivism, objective (and unique), is that its derivative conclusions are supported by ideas about existence, identity, cause/effect, the volitional nature of human consciousness, the primacy of existence over consciousness, the nature of abstraction and concept formation, and many others. 

Thomas Aquinas tried to use Aristotle's ideas in metaphysics to correlate the idea of theism with the idea of reason.  He failed.  Ms. Rand built on Aristotelian metaphysics, created a reality based epistemology, and then used these ideas to develop an ethics/politics based on the identity of human beings rather than on a mysticism created by human consciousness.  Wow.

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Are you really claiming that, before Rand, no philosopher had come up with ethical or political ideas consistent with his ideas in the upstream parts of philosophy? Rand herself thought that Kant had done so in ethics and Plato in politics. Peikoff wrote an entire book (The Ominous Parallels) arguing that the post-Kantian German idealists and romanticists did.

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Are you really claiming that, before Rand, no philosopher had come up with ethical or political ideas consistent with his ideas in the upstream parts of philosophy? Rand herself thought that Kant had done so in ethics and Plato in politics. Peikoff wrote an entire book (The Ominous Parallels) arguing that the post-Kantian German idealists and romanticists did.

I get your point, but I used the word "few" not the word "no."  Also, I hold to the position that, a post-Kantian philosopher who seems to have an ethics/politics supported by nothing but a meaningless variation on Platonist metaphysics, has not created a comprehensive philosophical system.  If we listed the post-Kantian German idealists and romanticists (rationalists), I wonder how many we would agree spent much effort on metaphysics or epistemology; and when they did it was based on the principle that consciousness is primary to existence (not by specific description, but as a consequence of their argument.). Thanks for trying to keep me honest.

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