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Posted (edited)

13 hours ago, New Buddha said:

In a civil society, people engage in debate to resolve disagreements.

By using the passive voice, you are committing a reification fallacy by treating "Objectivism" as something other than the thoughts, ideas and actions of the many people who self-identify as "Objectivist."  No different that a Collectivist who reifies "Society".

Are you the arbiter of all things Objectivism?  Is Plasmatic?  Am I?  Leonard Peikoff?  How about the Ghost of Ayn Rand?

Who exactly is this "Objectivism that needs to engage...." ?
 

Who decides what is right and wrong? This smuggles in a false premise. Metaphysically, the only authority is reality. Epistemologically, it is one's own mind. The former is the ultimate arbiter of the latter.

I prefer the identification of facts over engaging in debate. If others wish to disagree with facts, what does engaging them in debate resolve?

More pertinent to the thread topic would be Rand's astute assessment:

The answer, here as in all other moral-intellectual problems, is that nobody "decides." Reason and reality are the only valid criteria of political theories. Who determines which theory is true? Any man who can prove it. —The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 4 No. 2 February, 1965 • Who is the final authority in ethics?

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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3 hours ago, Grames said:

It is a controversial claim.  Rational argumentation is the only way to reach truth, but there are people who value something else more than truth and for them other methods are appropriate.  See for example the books authored by Robert Cialdini, a long list of books on salesmanship tactics including Donald Trump's own Art of the Deal, or the histories of each of the world's religions and how they spread.

Why do you think salesmanship tactics would persuade people to abandon their worldview? I think changing a person's fundamental values is likely to work differently from persuading them to buy something. People typically put up a lot of resistance to that kind of change because they view their worldview as part of their identity.

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As

23 minutes ago, William O said:

Why do you think salesmanship tactics would persuade people to abandon their worldview? I think changing a person's fundamental values is likely to work differently from persuading them to buy something. People typically put up a lot of resistance to that kind of change because they view their worldview as part of their identity.

One wouldn't attack their whole worldview at once with salesmanship tactics, but rather chip away at the margins and sow doubt.  This technique is compatible with the Objectivist "spiral of knowledge" and "crow epistemology" theories.  No one can comprehend a topic all at once so address smaller aspects separately and from different directions over time.  

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3 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

So, because some irrational people don't value truth an Oist should use a non-rational method similar to the way religions spread, to "persuade" others????

OK, has anyone checked to see if Grames' account has been hacked?

Well its either that or shoot them in the face when they come to take you away to the reeducation camp.  My way is more humane.

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32 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Laika, I'm sure NB's foolish comments lead you to think that I am questioning the veridity of your comments on Marxist doctrine (regardless of the doctrines falsity) but that is not at issue here, at all. 

A agree with your last statement and thats why I object to the things I quoted that are contrary to it.  

Ok. I wasn't 100% sure. The internet doesn't communicate the tone of comments very well. so no worries. :D

In fairness, you're perfectly entitled to point out the inconsistencies in my post. Dialectics is a maze and its easy to get lost. The problem is in trying to come to terms with Marxism being evil and yet so very human. its very "raw" set of emotions, personal and difficult to communicate. Orwell was right when he said that in principle "the party" would go as far as to say 2+2=5 but actually re-learning how to think is a messy business. I hope that sharing the experience still have value though. 

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

Who is the final authority in ethics?

You decide for yourself, and I do likewise for myself.  If we disagree on a solution to a problem common to both of us then we either try to find a mutually beneficial solution or we follow Frost's adage: Good fences make good neighbors.

Most complex man-made problems have multiple solutions.

From Metaphysical vs. Man-Made in the lexicon:

It is the metaphysically given that must be accepted: it cannot be changed. It is the man-made that must never be accepted uncritically: it must be judged, then accepted or rejected and changed when necessary. Man is not omniscient or infallible: he can make innocent errors through lack of knowledge, or he can lie, cheat and fake. The manmade may be a product of genius, perceptiveness, ingenuity—or it may be a product of stupidity, deception, malice, evil. One man may be right and everyone else wrong, or vice versa (or any numerical division in between). Nature does not give man any automatic guarantee of the truth of his judgments (and this is a metaphysically given fact, which must be accepted). Who, then, is to judge? Each man, to the best of his ability and honesty. What is his standard of judgment? The metaphysically given.

[One must] distinguish metaphysical facts from man-made facts—i.e., facts which are inherent in the identities of that which exists, from facts which depend upon the exercise of human volition. Because man has free will, no human choice—and no phenomenon which is a product of human choice—is metaphysically necessary. In regard to any man-made fact, it is valid to claim that man has chosen thus, but it was not inherent in the nature of existence for him to have done so; he could have chosen otherwise. For instance, the U.S. did not have to consist of 50 states; men could have subdivided the larger ones, or consolidated the smaller ones, etc.

In regard to nature, “to accept what I cannot change” means to accept the metaphysically given; “to change what I can” means to strive to rearrange the given by acquiring knowledge—as science and technology (e.g., medicine) are doing; “to know the difference” means to know that one cannot rebel against nature and, when no action is possible, one must accept nature serenely. . . . What one must accept is the fact that the minds of other men are not in one’s power, as one’s own mind is not in theirs; one must accept their right to make their own choices, and one must agree or disagree, accept or reject, join or oppose them, as one’s mind dictates. The only means of “changing” men is the same as the means of “changing” nature: knowledge—which, in regard to men, is to be used as a process of persuasion, when and if their minds are active; when they are not, one must leave them to the consequences of their own errors. . . .

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

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Posted (edited)

Rand spent the better part of her adult life trying to persuade others to accept the veracity of her ideas.  And, by all accounts, not only did she not back down from a good debate, she relished them.  They were a way for her to hone and sharpen her ideas by constantly forcing her to check her premises.

Laika is not presenting a case for Marxism - just the opposite.  He fully understands it's weaknesses.  He's on this forum trying to find another philosophy.

Edited by New Buddha

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59 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

Rand spent the better part of her adult life trying to persuade others to accept the veracity of her ideas.  And, by all accounts, not only did she not back down from a good debate, she relished them.  They were a way for her to hone and sharpen her ideas by constantly forcing her to check her premises.

To add on to this ...

She was a fiction writer, a writer of such scenes as 

  • Kira getting shot by Soviet border guards as she tries to flee that country
  • "Howard Roark laughed"
  • Hank Rearden holding the lifeless body of the young man only referred to the "Wet Nurse"
  • Eddie Willers getting stranded on a broken down train in a desert

We would have never heard of Ayn Rand or read her nonfiction if not she had not first been able to make powerful emotional fiction first.  She came up with her ideas known as Objectivism for the sake of her fiction.  One type of persuasion can lead to others. 

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38 minutes ago, Grames said:

One type of persuasion can lead to others.

Rhetoric used to not be a dirty word.  Aristotle was the master.

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On 7/1/2017 at 5:13 PM, Plasmatic said:

Why would an Oist grant this ridiculous premise? Almost nothing Laika said is remotely true. 

Has anyone else observing this and other recent threads been at least struggling to countenance how some have been responding to Laika? (Qualitativley, the nature of the responses)

What is ridiculous about that premise?

What did Laika say that isn't true? (Explain please, not just quotes that aren't arguments or description of errors)

Would you list some non-rational means of persuasion?

I'm hoping that might help you make a more persuasive explanation of your ideas.

For what it's worth, I like Laika's posts for showing the psychology of a self-professed Marxist. That's different than any of us who have studied Marxism, yet didn't dive into the way a Marxist feels about the world.

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One way of looking at the success of a debate is the strength of the argument by its factual presentation, and another way would be to judge the argument is by its power of persuasion. Marx intended to prove that there was a scientific approach to constructing social order. He may have won over many intellectuals, but your average person is interested in nothing other than the moral outcome and its affect on people. The formal fact-based argument is a strong argument, but if the evils of socialism in its many forms is to be confronted, opposed, and subdued, it is going to require persuasion of the many. And to do that, advocates of capitalism or Objectivism may in fact need to simplify the argument to meet the level of understanding of masses. Sometimes, a headline from a news report is sufficiently persuasive, or a history lesson. As Grames pointed out, Ayn Rand chose to use literature to convey her argument. What ever form the anti-Marxist message takes, it will need to be processed in the minds of individuals, individuals who form society, who vote with both dollars and ballots. Indisputably, the purely rational argument has its place. From my outlook, the average person needs to be informed in a way that he/she can "chew on it."

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Repairman said:

One way of looking at the success of a debate is the strength of the argument by its factual presentation, and another way would be to judge the argument is by its power of persuasion. Marx intended to prove that there was a scientific approach to constructing social order. He may have won over many intellectuals, but your average person is interested in nothing other than the moral outcome and its affect on people. The formal fact-based argument is a strong argument, but if the evils of socialism in its many forms is to be confronted, opposed, and subdued, it is going to require persuasion of the many. And to do that, advocates of capitalism or Objectivism may in fact need to simplify the argument to meet the level of understanding of masses. Sometimes, a headline from a news report is sufficiently persuasive, or a history lesson. As Grames pointed out, Ayn Rand chose to use literature to convey her argument. What ever form the anti-Marxist message takes, it will need to be processed in the minds of individuals, individuals who form society, who vote with both dollars and ballots. Indisputably, the purely rational argument has its place. From my outlook, the average person needs to be informed in a way that he/she can "chew on it."

I think you could go the wrong way if you make the argument is simply "Anti-Marxist". Marxists specialise in deconstructing arguments in "critical theory" and you can't really "win" the argument with a Marxist by going negative. Its the fact that Capitalism, to one extent or another, helped bring about a middle class, free democratic societies, the rule of law and major scientific and technological advances that really counts. Its often things we take for granted and making people remember them can be useful. 

In the current political climate, the real battle is making a positive case for Capitalism (in the midst of the economic crisis and austerity) and Liberty (when free, democratic institutions are under attack). Marxism appeals because of its utopianism and, even with all the other layers of hatred, envy, fear, etc, its the positivity in believing human beings are connected to a bigger picture, that gives individuals significance and means they believe they can change things that really grips people. people want to matter and to make a difference, so its all about making people believe in themselves and giving them the confidence to try (then it just becomes self-reinforcing).

If you want to make fanatics for Capitalism, you need to give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning other than following an anonymous routine of going to work. They need to think it matters as part of the human desire to rise above our animal state and as a source of achievement and self-worth. you give them a "bigger picture" to be part of. [edit: in marketing terms, you sell them a positive self-image based on personal growth that they can achieve and aspire to.] 

Edited by Laika

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Laika said:

If you want to make fanatics for Capitalism, you need to give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning other than following an anonymous routine of going to work.

That's why Rand's heroes do not primarily seek wealth. It's harder to see in Atlas Shrugged, but one could read this as one concrete way of looking at the main theme of Fountainhead. 

However, your mention of a "bigger picture" keeps things fuzzy. For instance ... Objectivism identifies purpose as a cardinal value -- in some senses is it the cardinal value. It's important to acknowledge that many other philosophers have identified purpose as a crucial foundation of ethics, yet they're very different from Objectivism. Christian pastor Rick Warren has a book about the "purpose-driven life", and every nationalist can explain why the nation's good is the ultimate purpose. In contrast, to Rand, the cardinal virtue related to purpose was: Productiveness.

[For more info: see Rand's opening essay in "The Virtue of Selfishness"]

Edited by softwareNerd

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55 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

That's why Rand's heroes do not primarily seek wealth. It's harder to see in Atlas Shrugged, but one could read this as one concrete way of looking at the main theme of Fountainhead. 

However, your mention of a "bigger picture" keeps things fuzzy. For instance ... Objectivism identifies purpose as a cardinal value -- in some senses is it the cardinal value. It's important to acknowledge that many other philosophers have identified purpose as a crucial foundation of ethics, yet they're very different from Objectivism. Christian pastor Rick Warren has a book about the "purpose-driven life", and every nationalist can explain why the nation's good is the ultimate purpose. In contrast, to Rand, the cardinal virtue related to purpose was: Productiveness.

[For more info: see Rand's opening essay in "The Virtue of Selfishness"]

Did Rand believe that "purpose" and "productiveness" were in conflict somehow? Or is it to do with another person's purpose becoming our own (and hence submitting to authority) through altruism?

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6 hours ago, Laika said:

Did Rand believe that "purpose" and "productiveness" were in conflict somehow? Or is it to do with another person's purpose becoming our own (and hence submitting to authority) through altruism?

No, not in conflict at all; just the opposite. In her 25-page essay, "The Objectivist Ethic", Rand lists 3 "cardinal values"To Rand, a "value" is "that which one acts to gain and/or keep". The three are: Reason, Purpose and Self-Esteem. AT the highest level of abstraction, these are thing Rand says we should each strive for. 
 

She also lists three corresponding virtues ("the act by which one gains and/or keeps [a value]"). These are: Rationality, Productiveness and Pride.

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On 7/2/2017 at 1:02 AM, Plasmatic said:

If one is "trying to reason their way through the world", then why is it the case that "truth will not persuade them"?? (your "merit of fact") 

This question seems good at first, but it is actually simple and straightforward to answer. If a person wants to reason through the world, and even uses logic well, it may seem that a good argument would persuade them. But this only works with like-minded thinkers. A Marxist simply does not reason the way you are I do, thanks to their materialist foundation. Furthermore, it isn't surprising if a Marxist grew into it on emotional grounds, so their whole foundation may rest on how they felt about capitalism. To alter that foundation, you need to engage their emotions enough so that they question their core beliefs. This is non-rational persuasion, not far from how psychology counselors work.

On 7/2/2017 at 1:02 AM, Plasmatic said:

If self esteem can only be gained by virtuous action then how is pretending that a marxists "dedication" to the immoral cause of marxism is a source of true self worth and worthy of "respect"?

A Marxist has a false sense of self-esteem is the point. You can offer a little respect to such a mindset depending on their personal contradictions and their interest to resolve contradictions. All you know is that a dedicated Marxist probably wants real self-esteem. Like a religious person, their dedication is a hole they want to fill.

On 7/2/2017 at 1:02 AM, Plasmatic said:

Is it the case that one should treat the belief in marxism as "not a big deal" because a marxist is suffering from the psychological and emotional weight of the fact that their beliefs DO reflect on them morally and there "self" is in a state of moral debasement?

It's not a big deal as far as persuasion is concerned, the big deal is what the Marxist plans to do or their personal issues. If you want to persuade someone, you want them on your side. If you want them on your side, helping them out of their personal suffering is probably the most important step.

On 7/2/2017 at 1:02 AM, Plasmatic said:

Is it the case that "Marxism is primarily (but by no means exclusively) an emotional response to people's suffering"?

A lot of the time, yes.

On 7/2/2017 at 1:02 AM, Plasmatic said:

Is it really "selfish" "at its core" to choose marxism because one is "grappling with legitimate personal problems" that Marx claims "they cannot change or control."?

This is a misreading of Laika making it clear how Marxism can tear you apart between self and Marxism.

Basically, a lot of Laika's quotation marks are ironic uses of words.
 

 

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The main argument for using non-rational persuasion in this thread seems to be that rational means of persuasion will not work on someone who is emotionally committed to an ideology like Marxism, so we should use non-rational means of persuasion. But there is an overlooked possibility here, namely that there is no way of changing the mind of an emotionally committed Marxist, rational or non-rational.

So, what is the evidence that trying to persuade such a person at all isn't just a waste of time?

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1 hour ago, William O said:

So, what is the evidence that trying to persuade such a person at all isn't just a waste of time?

William O,

It may very well be a complete waste of time arguing with anyone about anything. Unless it's a matter of business, there is no profit in argument. However, I occasionally engage in argument as a matter of entertainment; i.e. I may not necessarily wish to change anyone's mind. I like to develop my persuasive powers, and I like to be right by objective standards. You are quite correct to emphasize reason as the fundamental means of validating one's convictions. And I think we can agree that it is reasonable to assume that some people could never be persuaded to change their minds about their opinion. In fact, most people are perfectly happy to make an irrational statement no matter how it fails to stand up to facts and sound judgement. Generally, I won't waste much time arguing with such people. Many Marxist/altruists meet this criterion. They will always hold to their convictions regardless of rational argument. If one doesn't wish to engage in argument for whatever reason, then don't.

On the other hand, if I were to engage someone who recognizes the contradictions of their Marxist or altruistic orientation, I may find the process of persuasion enjoyable. It is an intellectual contest. Dealing with one individual may have no gain of anything other than a mutually gratifying conversation. I wouldn't be changing the world, but I might earn the respect of someone I might or might not otherwise consider to be my ideological adversary. I might even make a new friend. And a new friend has value. Then, I would not have wasted my time.

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3 hours ago, William O said:

So, what is the evidence that trying to persuade such a person at all isn't just a waste of time?

There are two parts:

1) ideologies based on emotional commitments can only be engaged through emotions (e.g. art, asking about feelings, asking about their intellectual journey)

2) after emotions start to shift, a person is more amenable to rational persuasion and argument

I don't imagine this is controversial. 1 is essentially what a psychotherapist does for patients with personality disorders (you don't persuade them to change their behavior directly, you get them to introspect on emotions), 2 is what a psychotherapist may do as a patient begins to respond and become inclined to a full change. We're not therapists, the point is that in principle, this is the only way to reach a person with deep emotional commitments of all kinds.

Can a Marxist, after becoming a committed Communist, really be persuaded? As long as people have free will, of course. Laika might be such a person. So the only issue is your time. It's hard to say when it's worth it, but it is possible to change the minds of several people at once, or affect a community. It's the same as persuasion for anything. Whether your time is wasted depends on a person's virtues while considering their vices (Marxism is a vice most of the time, so that's a big hurdle for value to outweigh disvalue).

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Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, William O said:

The main argument for using non-rational persuasion in this thread seems to be that rational means of persuasion will not work on someone who is emotionally committed to an ideology like Marxism, so we should use non-rational means of persuasion. But there is an overlooked possibility here, namely that there is no way of changing the mind of an emotionally committed Marxist, rational or non-rational.

So, what is the evidence that trying to persuade such a person at all isn't just a waste of time?

the alternative to reasoning with Marxists is to accept that coercion is necessary because people have such a fixed and unchanging view. the futility of non-rational reasoning is perhaps the lesser evil, but it depends on your values. The marxist attitude is "if it works- do it" as its the results not the intentions that matter so using non-rational methods (like propaganda) is fine for them if it helps fulfil their ultimate objectives. It is also why Marxists so often head down the road to violence because it is the "quickest" way of changing things- but by no means the most effective when taken from a long-term perspective.

Even under the threat of persecution, over half of the Soviet Population responded to the 1937 census as believers in a some sort of god in the hope it would get the government to back off and let them worship in peace. It was a major embarrassment equivalent to Saudi Arabia or Iran today finding out a majority of its population were atheists as a threat to the legitimacy of the state- so the Soviet just didn't publish the result. Their anti-religious policies as an attempt to change hearts and minds were a failure- even when the threat of violence was explicitly used. The reverse- that Communists won't change their views due to the threat or reality of violence, would also appear to be true if you take the Vietnam war as an example. peasants on bicycles beat B-52 bombers that dropped three times as much explosives on the country as the whole of world war II.  When you go up against the most powerful country on earth, there had to be someone on the other side thinking, "oh, whats the point!"

There is also the fact that, in the end, wars must end with peace and at least one side has to sit down and agree to surrender, or else both must give a little bit to call a truce. the government may try to pretend its "tough" but it will get round the negotiating table and talk to terrorists eventually. Attempts to wipe out the enemy almost never work and take a major toll on the participants because its so contrary to the human impulse to empathise as social animals. If ISIS had kept going- some accommodation would had to have been reached, principled or not (thankfully its losing and thats the best outcome really). 

Historically, there have been periods of liberalisation of Communism, reflecting a diversity of approaches as to "how" communism is best achieved even within Communist Parties themselves. These are "relatively" liberal to what goes before and after, such as the New Economic Policy under Lenin, the Secret Speech and De-Stalinisation under Khrushchev, Perstroika and Glasnot with Gorbachev, and Deng Xio Peng's economic reforms after the Cultural Revolution in China. These more "rightist" positions crop up every now and then. The more extreme left sections of the Communist Movement still have an ablity to grasp "reality", such as Stalin's decision to take the USSR along the road of "Socialism in One Country" and post-pone world revolution, or in introducing material incentives, competition and economic inequality into the Soviet Economic model during the 1930's. Stalin's rival, Leon Trotsky was an advocate of the militarisation of labour during War communism but made an early suggestion of the need to shift towards a more market based system. Realising how unprepared the USSR was for a war, Stalin was prepared to do a deal with the devil in the Nazi-Soviet pact (it didn't help in the end but it bought time much like appeasement in Czechoslovakia did for the UK and France). Neither Khrushchev nor Kennedy wanted a Nuclear War over Cuba in 1962 though Castro, Che and Mao did make statements that they were willing to do so much to Khrushchev's horror. There is a certain pragmatism in Communist ideology that means it does have *some* relationship with reality as objectivists would understand it. 

the problem is getting a Communist to distinguish between the sense that compromise with "class enemies" as a form of ideological weakness from compromise with reality, facts and uncomfortable truths. the greatest disasters such as the Ukrainan Famine and the Great leap Forward came from wanting to "make" reality conform with the theory and ignoring real obstacles in the way that could well be articulated in Communist theory (i.e. "not having enough food kills people" is a pretty obvious one). In so far as they accept their is *some* objective truth and the need to find solutions that "work" to achieve their own ideological ends there is room for manoeuvre but its not obvious to those outside of the movement because its all a big red blur and the ideology- as a way to process reality- isn't taken seriously.  

Richard Nixon, for all his faults, did actually try to understand Communist ideology better (see link below) and used it to exploit the Split between the USSR and China to achieve a thaw in relations with China on which US-China relations continue to be built this day. Given that Nixon rose to prominence based in the McCarthy era, I've had a grudging respect that he had the insight to try to understand what the enemy was actually fighting for and not fear a deeper knowledge of their views as some kind of corruption. Trust me- if you're a communist and someone says "communism works in theory but doesn't work in practice" for the thousandth time as if they had suddenly come up with an entirely original view- its no wonder you'd be driven to absurd levels of violence like slamming their head against the pavement just out of frustration and contempt. Informed, relatively respectful critics of communism with an understanding of Marxist theory are a rarity and the more honest and sincere Communists don't know how to deal with them. the ultra-leftist morons will have a fit based on the belief that there should be no compromise with the "class enemy" like the way racist or fascist are used nowadays to shut down the conservation (and anti-communists will do the same thing to "Pinkos", "reds" and "liberals" because "appeasement" is treated as weakness). showing you know something about a group of people you disagree with, can handle disagreement and have some common understanding is a good place to start as a basis for trust and negotiation. 

http://watergate.info/1960/08/21/nixon-the-meaning-of-communism-to-americans.html 

So yeah, it can work- but you need to find Communists who are willing to negotiate. it's worth keeping in mind that the US and North Korea will probably be forced to the negotiating table again unless they are willing to go through with a nuclear holocaust. North Korea is definitely *crazy* but there is method in the maddness if you read the literature. They believe in self-reliance (or "juche") and don't want to be dependent on anyone to protect their own security- so they want their own nukes and dont want to have to rely on China. ideologically, there is room for compromise there unless you are dealing with an ultra-left nut job who values their ideals above their own existence. the fanatics are genuinely dangerous because they've lost touch with reality and their own humanity.  Americans may not like the compromise that's reached but its still the lesser evil to nuclear war or a long US occupation in a country that has been preparing for war, indoctrinated its people to hate americans and die for the dear leader for the past 60 years. 

I can't say whether that view is compatable with objectivist ethics, but there is a window of opportunity if you are willing to "know thy enemy" and use it to your advantage. it may not be principled but it can work. 

Edited by Laika

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5 hours ago, Laika said:

the alternative to reasoning with Marxists is to accept that coercion is necessary because people have such a fixed and unchanging view.

If by coercion, you mean to apply military force, I would disagree; it would only be necessary to prevent a Marxist nation from taking the offensive and expanding. This was the doctrine of the Cold War, and for the most part, it worked.

5 hours ago, Laika said:

So yeah, it can work- but you need to find Communists who are willing to negotiate. it's worth keeping in mind that the US and North Korea will probably be forced to the negotiating table again unless they are willing to go through with a nuclear holocaust. North Korea is definitely *crazy* but there is method in the maddness if you read the literature.

If we're talking about North Korea, my understanding is that this is a very different animal from other Communist countries. While I have not read the literature you've alluded to, I view the PDRK as having a unique ideological mysticism that drives its actions and confounds the world. I am not an expert on either North or South Korea, but from the little I've learned about the North, their national economic policies include counterfeiting, kidnapping, assassination, extortion, and a great deal of slave-labor. I am not aware of any part of Marx's plan that directly calls for these practices in the creation of the workers' utopia. Their arms-sales must be capitalistic enough to compromise with free-market principles. As you said, they have compromised their Marxist purity. I would argue that they've compromised it beyond anything resembling Marxism, and into something more along the lines of an organized crime superpower. Only to the degree that their government has had some success at re-inventing humanity into their collectivist ideal, I don't think it's reasonable to equate North Korea with Marxism. Perhaps a nuclear-armed cult would be more apt. Whether or not they prove to be a suicidal cult is yet to be seen. But they are not driving toward independence. They are very dependent on the production of wealth produced by other nations, as a parasite feeds on its host. But I would agree that there is method to their madness: klepto-capitalism writ large is working for now, but only because the nations of the more sane world have no plan to counter their policies.

Marxist individuals are on average intellectual. They can be engaged to some pragmatic outcome, and their success, however marginal, relies on compromise with their opponents on the side of objective truth. Some nations are rouge-states. They cannot be engaged for any constructive outcome.

For these reasons, I engage in debate with altruists (for lack of encountering very many Marxists) as individuals, and leave those on the world stage to debate the national and academic leaders of communist/socialist persuasion. So far, I have not heard of many public spokespersons advocating or even defending laissez faire capitalism. Is there any reason to wonder why the North Koreans are as successful as they are?

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6 minutes ago, Repairman said:

If by coercion, you mean to apply military force, I would disagree; it would only be necessary to prevent a Marxist nation from taking the offensive and expanding. This was the doctrine of the Cold War, and for the most part, it worked.

If we're talking about North Korea, my understanding is that this is a very different animal from other Communist countries. While I have not read the literature you've alluded to, I view the PDRK as having a unique ideological mysticism that drives its actions and confounds the world. I am not an expert on either North or South Korea, but from the little I've learned about the North, their national economic policies include counterfeiting, kidnapping, assassination, extortion, and a great deal of slave-labor. I am not aware of any part of Marx's plan that directly calls for these practices in the creation of the workers' utopia. Their arms-sales must be capitalistic enough to compromise with free-market principles. As you said, they have compromised their Marxist purity. I would argue that they've compromised it beyond anything resembling Marxism, and into something more along the lines of an organized crime superpower. Only to the degree that their government has had some success at re-inventing humanity into their collectivist ideal, I don't think it's reasonable to equate North Korea with Marxism. Perhaps a nuclear-armed cult would be more apt. Whether or not they prove to be a suicidal cult is yet to be seen. But they are not driving toward independence. They are very dependent on the production of wealth produced by other nations, as a parasite feeds on its host. But I would agree that there is method to their madness: klepto-capitalism writ large is working for now, but only because the nations of the more sane world have no plan to counter their policies.

Marxist individuals are on average intellectual. They can be engaged to some pragmatic outcome, and their success, however marginal, relies on compromise with their opponents on the side of objective truth. Some nations are rouge-states. They cannot be engaged for any constructive outcome.

For these reasons, I engage in debate with altruists (for lack of encountering very many Marxists) as individuals, and leave those on the world stage to debate the national and academic leaders of communist/socialist persuasion. So far, I have not heard of many public spokespersons advocating or even defending laissez faire capitalism. Is there any reason to wonder why the North Koreans are as successful as they are?

About a year ago I would have agreed with you on North Korea then I had a better look at the literature. If I had to describe it, it is a specifically "Korean" version of Stalinist Marxism that traces its intellectual ancestry through Chinese Marxism and Maoism, rather than directly from the "Classical Marxism" of Marx and Engels from Western European sources. 

For North Korea it's taking Marx from second and third hand sources smuggled by the underground from the USSR to China during the Japanese Occupation of Korea probably going through several translations in different languages, which is why its so unfamiliar (so it's literally "Chinese whispers"). Here is the USA Korean Friendship Associations response to the same question: 

What is the Interrelationship Between the Juche Idea and Marxism-Leninism and What is the View of the Juche Idea on Marxism?

Answer to the question by the delegation of the institute of philosophy, psychology and law, Mongolian Academy of Science:

The Juche idea is a new and original philosophical idea that clarifies the man-centered philosophical principle. But it does not mean that the Juche idea has nothing common with Marxism-Leninism or the former denies the latter. The basic principles of Marxism-Leninism are the truth. The Juche idea has a close connection with Marxism-Leninism with commonness in its mission and class ideal. In other words, the Juche idea inherits the mission and class principle of Marxism-Leninism. The Juche idea approves the truthfulness of Marxism-Leninism and regards it as its presupposition. The Juche idea is a theory founded, developed and enriched in the course of applying and developing it creatively in accordance with requirements of the revolutionary practice in our times. However, the historical exploit of the Juche idea is not to have developed Marxism-Leninism but to have clarified a new man-centered philosophical principle. In a word, there is inheritance between the Juche idea and Marxism-Leninism, but the main is the originality of the Juche idea. The Juche idea approves historical exploits of Marxism-Leninism, but does not consider it as a complete revolutionary idea of the working class.

[internet traffic to the site is probably watched but here's the link https://www.kfausa.org/interrelationship-juche-idea-marxism-leninism-view-juche-idea-marxism/ ]

For the direct source from Kim Jong il 1996 clarification on the issue, see the link here: http://www.oneparty.co.uk/html/juche19.html

 

As far as Communists defending Capitalism is concerned, the "rightists" will defend the use of "commodity relations" under Socialism (i.e. market systems of exchange). Given that Marxism originated from Classical Economics, it shouldn't be a huge surprise if there is overlap. Marxism isn't about moral objections to capitalism but a pseudo-scientific critique of market relations. So Marxists hands aren't quite so tied by anti-capitalist morals. it really depends on the context.

One of Marxism's dirty little secrets is Karl Marx's defence of Free Trade in 1848, a position that was rejected by Socialists and Communists since based on the need to "reform" capitalism in the interests of the working class. 

"But, generally speaking, the Protective system in these days is conservative, while the Free Trade system works destructively. It breaks up old nationalities and carries antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie to the uttermost point. In a word, the Free Trade system hastens the Social Revolution. In this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, I am in favor of Free Trade." http://mailstar.net/classwar.html

Here is Stalin's attack on "levelling of wages" (i.e. equality of outcome) from a speech in 1931. 

What is the cause of the fluidity of manpower?

The cause is the wrong structure of wages, the wrong wage scales, the "Leftist" practice of wage equalisation. In a number of factories wage scales are drawn up in such a way as to practically wipe out the difference between skilled and unskilled labour, between heavy and light work. The consequence of wage equalisation is that the unskilled worker lacks the incentive to become a skilled worker and is thus deprived of the prospect of advancement; as a result he feels himself a "visitor" in the factory, working only temporarily so as to "earn a little money" and then go off to "try his luck" in some other place. The consequence of wage equalisation is that the skilled worker is obliged to go from factory to factory until he finds one where his skill is properly appreciated.

Hence, the "general" drift from factory to factory; hence, the fluidity of manpower.

In order to put an end to this evil we must abolish wage equalisation and discard the old wage scales. In order to put an end to this evil we must draw up wage scales that will take into account the difference between skilled and unskilled labour, between heavy and light work. We cannot tolerate a situation where a rolling-mill worker in the iron and steel industry earns no more than a sweeper. We cannot tolerate a situation where a locomotive driver earns only as much as a copying clerk. Marx and Lenin said that the difference between skilled and unskilled labour would exist even under socialism, even after classes had been abolished; that only under communism would this difference disappear and that, consequently, even under socialism "wages" must be paid according to work performed and not according to needs. But the equalitarians among our economic executives and trade-union officials do not agree with this and believe that under our Soviet system this difference has already disappeared. Who is right, Marx and Lenin or the equalitarians? It must be assumed that it is Marx and Lenin who are right. But it follows from this that whoever draws up wage scales on the "principle" of wage equalisation, without taking into account the difference between skilled and unskilled labour, breaks with Marxism, breaks with Leninism.

see second section on wages: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1931/06/23.htm

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17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

There are two parts:

1) ideologies based on emotional commitments can only be engaged through emotions (e.g. art, asking about feelings, asking about their intellectual journey)

2) after emotions start to shift, a person is more amenable to rational persuasion and argument

I don't imagine this is controversial. 1 is essentially what a psychotherapist does for patients with personality disorders (you don't persuade them to change their behavior directly, you get them to introspect on emotions), 2 is what a psychotherapist may do as a patient begins to respond and become inclined to a full change. We're not therapists, the point is that in principle, this is the only way to reach a person with deep emotional commitments of all kinds.

How do you know that that would be effective at changing someone's worldview, though? Generally, therapists have a hard time with people who are uncooperative.

Quote

Can a Marxist, after becoming a committed Communist, really be persuaded? As long as people have free will, of course.

Agreed, but I would suggest that that is rare.

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34 minutes ago, William O said:

How do you know that that would be effective at changing someone's worldview, though?

It's the only moral way that might work. I would probably know pretty fast when a person is totally unwilling to talk. At least as far as I see, even the most combative people tend to be open to people who are willing to understand them as people and their interests. It really depends on the specific person, though. It also depends on my skills as a good listener. 

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1 minute ago, Eiuol said:

It's the only moral way that might work. I would probably know pretty fast when a person is totally unwilling to talk. At least as far as I see, even the most combative people tend to be open to people who are willing to understand them as people and their interests. It really depends on the specific person, though. It also depends on my skills as a good listener. 

Okay, I think basically we agree at this point.

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