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Notes and Comments on "The Virtue of Nationalism"

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I don't know what you're on about, or even how "nothing was wrong with the West until leftist politics". More like nothing was wrong with the West until Caesar became Emperor. 

I don't even know what to say about the rest, it's just a rant against the left. Nothing interesting to talk about.

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About time this debate was more candid. We know what the The Vice of Nationalism is about and who it's aimed at: against the Christian conservatives. So, I allow myself to take a stance, as I view it. Get with it, man. 

Edited by whYNOT

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On 7/24/2019 at 3:51 AM, Eiuol said:

I don't know what you're on about, or even how "nothing was wrong with the West until leftist politics". More like nothing was wrong with the West until Caesar became Emperor. 

I don't even know what to say about the rest, it's just a rant against the left. Nothing interesting to talk about.

Not just is it "interesting", but consuming, Eiuol. Meriting a rant. This topic, nationalism, points, in part, to much larger issues of these times. It seems to me and many others that most countries, Western civilisation itself, at large are at a tipping point in history, and what happens next, politically etc., depends finally upon the intellectuals. The two major antithetical drives, despite needing to use the common, and limited, political-identity descriptors, is "Left" versus "Right".

One can at times see some sense and value in the one side or the other, on isolated human "issues" , BUT Objectivism is radical and distinct from them. Political polarity is not what Objectivists should be infected by - instead, it is Objectivism which should affect politics. So I feel irritation when otherwise incisive Objectivist scholars have  produced their articles and essays in tacit support of the Left (or at minimum, are contra-Right). As - i have been reading for a few years from ARI intellectuals. 

There is collectivism, i.e. mysticism, from all people, religious and atheist, but at this stage it is very apparent that the mystics of muscle (the Left) are by far the more egregious in their acts and hunger for power. "It's your minds they want", and evidently that secular-Left is presently a far more insidious 'movement'- political, ideological, behaviorist - in its efforts to gain control of free minds. The mystics of mind (Conservative-Christians, et al.) are in fact displaying a LOT more self-responsible ethics, self-restraint and rational thinking than anyone on the Left. That's apparent when one reads many articles from a full spread of observers/thinkers.

I stress that very few people are consistently individualist, but the religious, for premises we don't need go into now, show that characteristic greatly more than most secularists. That is - outside of some aggravating need they have to interfere with others' bodies (and "souls") in a couple of aspects - they have in general in the West become far more benignly tolerant of others' beliefs and behaviors and freedom.

I think you think all this is only an American concern. Rather - of course - what happens in every place are the same ideas, only a little out of phase, and slightly dissimilar in degree. These matters affect all of us. If one only thinks local and political, one will miss the big, inter-connected picture. 

Edited by whYNOT

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Not just is it "interesting", but consuming, Eiuol. Meriting a rant. 

Fine, but a rant is neither rational nor persuasive nor interesting.
 

2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

So I feel irritation when otherwise incisive Objectivist scholars have  produced their articles and essays in tacit support of the Left (or at minimum, are contra-Right).

If your frame of understanding and reference is Left versus Right, then there isn't much I can say. It really only ever came from the French Revolution to distinguish between those who supported the monarchy and those who did not (more or less). It wasn't that bad of a distinction for a while because so much of European political reality was monarchy. But by these days, it's all kinds of confusing. Not to mention Objectivism never tried to be a left or right philosophy (which is how it can actually have elements of leftist politics).

Even if the article is wrong, nothing sought to support authoritarianism, control over lives, skepticism as a theory of knowledge, collectivism, things like that. Being critical of a theory does not tacitly support every single adversary of the theory.

 

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

The mystics of mind (Conservative-Christians, et al.) are in fact displaying a LOT more self-responsible ethics, self-restraint and rational thinking than anyone on the Left. That's apparent when one reads many articles from a full spread of observers/thinkers.

I would like to see a serious effort to prove that conclusion. Rand, for her part, spent some effort arguing that America's doom would come from the religious right, because the left is intellectually bankrupt. Peikoff has made a similar argument in his books. Link to one article from the religious right that you think represents rationality, and I'll analyze it.

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Fine, but a rant is neither rational nor persuasive nor interesting.
 

If your frame of understanding and reference is Left versus Right, then there isn't much I can say. It really only ever came from the French Revolution to distinguish between those who supported the monarchy and those who did not (more or less). It wasn't that bad of a distinction for a while because so much of European political reality was monarchy. But by these days, it's all kinds of confusing. Not to mention Objectivism never tried to be a left or right philosophy (which is how it can actually have elements of leftist politics).

Even if the article is wrong, nothing sought to support authoritarianism, control over lives, skepticism as a theory of knowledge, collectivism, things like that. Being critical of a theory does not tacitly support every single adversary of the theory.

 

The genesis of left/right in The French Revolution, has little to do with their manifestation in the modern period. Yes, politics is very much confusing, now. I think any reference to this political identity has to be cognizant of two facts: a. all people, themselves, relate and identify with one or the other, (or center) and b. there IS in general a most distinct "leftist" philosophy, from (non-)metaphysics, epistemology, ethics into politics. Anyway, those two facts are a reality which we others have to live and contend with.

I've been studying and observing the character of left ideology for many years from various sources, down to individuals I know. I have paid less attention to the right who are probably easier to understand once one knows the religious premises. 

If Objectivist scholars were to criticize either polarity, then we'd think they would do so at least even-handedly - and objectively - on a pro rata basis. Then you'd see criticism and/or faint praise aimed at one or the other. .

I repeat, I have barely seen that recently. The conservatives today are seldom in the right, it would appear. On about every issue, opinions expressed by main stream Objectivists would be attractive only to the secular Left. Considering the clear danger of far left/socialism you face there, I am even further confounded*. Some of those issues, or all, are admittedly difficult to pronounce "objective" reasons for and against, but that's - exactly - the confusion which scholars and other O'ist individuals should be unravelling.. I have mentioned in other topics that the "objective solution" is harder to elicit than 'easy' subjective-skepticism or 'easy' intrinsicism--however, it exists, it's doable with effort. 

*here in SA the Left-Right spectrum begins with Left and Left-socialism at the center, proceeding to neo-marxism at the far end. There is not enough of a conservative political presence to balance and oppose those. 

Edited by whYNOT

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13 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

I have paid less attention to analyzing the right who are probably easier to understand once one knows the religious premises. 

Okay, in that case I don't have much reason to listen to what you say about the right, especially not how it relates to the book here.

Edited by Eiuol

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43 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

I would like to see a serious effort to prove that conclusion. Rand, for her part, spent some effort arguing that America's doom would come from the religious right, because the left is intellectually bankrupt. Peikoff has made a similar argument in his books. Link to one article from the religious right that you think represents rationality, and I'll analyze it.

Watch your maniacally insane Left, and you may have to redress Rand and Peikoff. The good sense, respect for facts, freedoms (esp. free speech), American values and individualism is coming only from conservatives. 

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11 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Okay, in that case I don't have much reason to listen to what you say about the right, especially not how it relates to the book here.

Stay in that narrow channel. Block all the rest I said. 

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I mean, I'm not sure what you expect me to say since you told me that you pay less attention to Right politics. No reason to take the time to construct a response.

Edited by Eiuol

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"Less" - by comparison to how much time I have been trying to work out contemporary Leftism - is still plenty...

E.g., on one element, free will, I've established for my sake that the Left is largely determinist. (Put another way, determinists are nearly always Leftists). In contrast, it has become clear the religious conservatives advocate and display some degree of volition. 

Why should both be so is an involving exercise, and originally sprung from metaphysics. The left because they don't have any, the right because they do have, although supernatural.

Edited by whYNOT

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5 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

contrast, it has become clear the religious conservatives advocate and display some degree of volition. 

And yet, determinism was largely championed by theologians historically, and acausal free will is at tension with divine predestination. While on the other hand, mechanistic philosophy is incorrectly determinist about will, it is at least borne out of a general pro-science viewpoint that has better self-correcting tendencies.

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58 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

The good sense, respect for facts, freedoms (esp. free speech), American values and individualism is coming only from conservatives. 

Conservatives think that social media platforms are the "new public square" and should therefore be regulated with government-enforced speech codes. They are anti-free speech, anti-free association. They are worse than the left on this issue, because they are promoting rights-violations in the name of free speech rights. I could go on, but you didn't give me an article, so I won't bother.

Edited by MisterSwig

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41 minutes ago, 2046 said:

And yet, determinism was largely championed by theologians historically, and acausal free will is at tension with divine predestination. While on the other hand, mechanistic philosophy is incorrectly determinist about will, it is at least borne out of a general pro-science viewpoint that has better self-correcting tendencies.

Yes, there were and are wrinkles. That's the cause of a faith, it will be by definition inconsistent and self-contradicting. Religionists are constantly evolving their practice of religions to fit with new knowledge and thinking. As I've heard from some, "God helps those who help themselves", which speaks of some rationality and some free will. But I am weak at theology. I've instead spoken and listened to many individual Christians/etc. in my past, interested to ascertain their character and psychology, as much as is possible. What, basically, are the ~consequences~ of religion, borne out in their lives? Not too bad, apparently productive, successful and content, I often find, even seemingly rational much of the time.

Anyhow, ultimately, the "immortal soul" which is going to be finally "judged" must, by necessity, place a powerful emphasis for them on what one has done and does -- by choice, so: volitional.

Edited by whYNOT

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

Conservatives think that social media platforms are the "new public square" and should therefore be regulated with government-enforced speech codes. They are anti-free speech, anti-free association. They are worse than the left on this issue, because they are promoting rights-violations in the name of free speech rights. I could go on, but you didn't give me an article, so I won't bother.

One can't help seeing the furor over public platforms, and that it *would appear* it's the conservatives who are more regularly blocked and banned. That is my out-take, and no, I'm not going to show evidence for another inductive generalization from innumerable sightings online. But it follows, since the Left is hugely more concerned about political correctness. So - who is more for free speech, and who, for censoring it? If many conservatives argue those platforms are to be forced to open up to all, they are flat wrong. But that does not invalidate their insistence on freedom of expression.I am not here trying to defend the indefensible, of Conservatives and anyone else. 

Edited by whYNOT

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As fresh, today ...

“Conservatives” vs. “Liberals”

Both [conservatives and liberals] hold the same premise—the mind-body dichotomy—but choose opposite sides of this lethal fallacy.

The conservatives want freedom to act in the material realm; they tend to oppose government control of production, of industry, of trade, of business, of physical goods, of material wealth. But they advocate government control of man’s spirit, i.e., man’s consciousness; they advocate the State’s right to impose censorship, to determine moral values, to create and enforce a governmental establishment of morality, to rule the intellect. The liberals want freedom to act in the spiritual realm; they oppose censorship, they oppose government control of ideas, of the arts, of the press, of education (note their concern with “academic freedom”). But they advocate government control of material production, of business, of employment, of wages, of profits, of all physical property—they advocate it all the way down to total expropriation.

The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.

Yet it is the conservatives who are predominantly religionists, who proclaim the superiority of the soul over the body, who represent what I call the “mystics of spirit.” And it is the liberals who are predominantly materialists, who regard man as an aggregate of meat, and who represent what I call the “mystics of muscle.”

This is merely a paradox, not a contradiction: each camp wants to control the realm it regards as metaphysically important; each grants freedom only to the activities it despises. Observe that the conservatives insult and demean the rich or those who succeed in material production, regarding them as morally inferior—and that the liberals treat ideas as a cynical con game. “Control,” to both camps, means the power to rule by physical force. Neither camp holds freedom as a value. The conservatives want to rule man’s consciousness; the liberals, his body.

“Censorship: Local and Express,”

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... but with recent modifications and twists.

The "liberals" - now - are showing, on top of and including everything then Rand identified of their nature (govt. control of "material production... profits") -  that they do NOT "want freedom to act in the spiritual realm". They are NOT against censorship. They do NOT "oppose government control of ideas, of the arts, of the press, of education".

The metaphysically-important "camp" which the Left wishes to control has turned to both mind and body.

Oh to have back the "liberals", flawed as they were, of that era.

Edited by whYNOT

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On 7/25/2019 at 4:45 PM, whYNOT said:

But it follows, since the Left is hugely more concerned about political correctness.

It's as if you don't understand that politics isn't simply divided into left and right. I'm not saying you don't understand, but your posts are kind of all over the place, consisting of rants, and refusal to provide evidence when requested. Yeah, we understand that the left is bad. We just also understand that the right is bad as well. They are bad in different ways. Perhaps you would prefer to be oppressed by the right if you had to pick, but I react strongly to anyone trying to oppress me. The right and left only differ in kind, not in degree (not to mention that you've focused on the authoritarian left almost exclusively). Great if you understand one enemy, but if you pay more attention to one side and another, you lose sight of analyzing all threats for what they are. Perhaps the left is more immediately threatening, but that doesn't mean the right can't become threatening in short order. Keep in mind I'm using left and right as general categories, not as a continuum.

It's worth analyzing Hazony's book for example, because it appears to be a useful historical analysis. At the same time, since the American right will surely try to use it as a foundation for a new political philosophy of the American right, we should be extremely critical of it. For sure, we should be sympathetic to nationalism in the sense of political cohesion for accomplishing political goals focused on individual rights. But we should also be concerned when the same book makes claims that undermine a epistemology. Correct or not, that's the sort of thing Journo was trying to do.

I was hoping to hold back on posting until I started reading the book today. I wanted to prevent the thread from going more off-topic though.


By the way, the authoritarian left are not liberals (witness anything that Communists says about liberals). Indeed, liberals are less threatening than the authoritarian left. That's why the Rand quote doesn't apply.

Edited by Eiuol

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

It's as if you don't understand that politics isn't simply divided into left and right. I'm not saying you don't understand, but your posts are kind of all over the place, consisting of rants, and refusal to provide evidence when requested. Yeah, we understand that the left is bad. We just also understand that the right is bad as well. They are bad in different ways. Perhaps you would prefer to be oppressed by the right if you had to pick, but I react strongly to anyone trying to oppress me. The right and left only differ in kind, not in degree (not to mention that you've focused on the authoritarian left almost exclusively). Great if you understand one enemy, but if you pay more attention to one side and another, you lose sight of analyzing all threats for what they are. Perhaps the left is more immediately threatening, but that doesn't mean the right can't become threatening in short order. Keep in mind I'm using left and right as general categories, not as a continuum.

 

"Perhaps"? The left - politicans, media, and all of them - have told "us" explicitly, and by implication, they are going to repress us. You only have to look and listen carefully. Many, and their followers act it out in their fascist anti-American speech and behavior, and you come up with ambivalence.

I've been hearing of the theocratic dictatorship which was predicted under Trump, but only see the rising confidence and economic indicators in the USA, and few signs of impending "oppression". (Yes, yes, I know it's not perfect in every way). 

But by saying so, I'm afraid I am coming out as one of the sell-outs of Objectivism that Yaron Brook recently ranted about. 

(Now, that was a rant - while, untrue and unjust, not to add, prescriptive and autocratic. Independent individualists, i.e., Objectivists, might take it amiss. And to add, in contradistinction I have also heard and read good things by Brook.

That you can only see my (one) "rant" and have to see "evidence" for the self-evident, infers you are limiting your thinking to politics, less as a philosopher. If you think I haven't always been aware of the potential threats of both sides, think again. Right now, imo, one is worse and promises to be far worse in future, than the other may turn out to be. 

I'd like to see who and where these "liberals" are. How distinctive are they from the Left? Is my impression that they've largely been absorbed into the Left, or have little electoral influence, wrong? What you mention of the old Communists and their approach to old school liberals is archaic. 

Would you like to unpack and crit my proposition, off the back of Rand's article, that the New Left have intentions to control body - and - mind? that they have abandoned their "spiritual" freedom?

Edited by whYNOT

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57 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Would you like to unpack and crit my proposition

No, unless you can show it has some relevance to the book this thread is about. I've nothing else to say about the threat of the left and right (by the way, I don't feel ambivalent about either threat).

 

Edited by Eiuol

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21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

At the same time, since the American right will surely try to use it as a foundation for a new political philosophy of the American right, we should be extremely critical of it. For sure, we should be sympathetic to nationalism in the sense of political cohesion for accomplishing political goals focused on individual rights. But we should also be concerned when the same book makes claims that undermine a epistemology. Correct or not, that's the sort of thing Journo was trying to do.

 

The individual rights and nationalism, apparent, paradox? Can they coexist? Which comes first? Since: "A ~right~ is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context" - within a given territory ( my add), the physical, moral and legal sovereignty of that geographical territory is the inarguable precondition. A secure boundary delimits the territory and the responsibility of defending rights a govt. has to citizens. (A free nation cannot extend its own individual rights-protection to other countries). Briefly, I think national sovereignty needs to be firmly in place and to come first. Then can rights. Third, as a just result may it be possible for individuals to voluntarily, rationally esteem the national achievement, which is their benign 'nationalism' - of personally-chosen conviction. 

It is always useful to examine the contrasting, or adversarial views and ideologies. At an extreme there are anti-nationalist collectivists who, under the pretense of "Global freedom and peace", dream of dissolving territorial integrity, by combining countries limitlessly into a single "equal", amorphous and expansive entity. Reducing the best to the lowest common denominator, in the identical manner as they seek for individuals. It is wealth/equality/harmony, by force, that's envisaged by such people. 

Edited by whYNOT

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

The individual rights and nationalism, apparent, paradox? Can they coexist?

Have you started reading the book? It's actually a lot of bad arguments, and I was expecting something decent as far as philosophy even if I disagreed.

It's very clearly anti-individualist. You know how you and I would talk about personal freedom and the importance for individual to make their own choices is important? Hazony sees that as deeply troubling. He even explicitly mentions Rand in the same sentence as Rawls, considering their views to be creating a dream world, a utopian vision. Really the book is a case study in the empiricist error. So many books show rationalism, that it's interesting to see a different kind of error for once. When I finish the book, I'll go into more detail about the many problems I saw (and I'm only halfway into part one).

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On 7/28/2019 at 7:00 PM, Eiuol said:

Have you started reading the book? It's actually a lot of bad arguments, and I was expecting something decent as far as philosophy even if I disagreed.

It's very clearly anti-individualist. You know how you and I would talk about personal freedom and the importance for individual to make their own choices is important? Hazony sees that as deeply troubling. He even explicitly mentions Rand in the same sentence as Rawls, considering their views to be creating a dream world, a utopian vision. Really the book is a case study in the empiricist error. So many books show rationalism, that it's interesting to see a different kind of error for once. When I finish the book, I'll go into more detail about the many problems I saw (and I'm only halfway into part one).

No, I'll leave the reading and analysis to you. What you have spotted as Hazony's unusual empirical approach doesn't rule out a most probable intrinsicism, of course. What I understood from Journo's account: a culture, any culture, is good, in and of itself--merely because it is different to one's own. Acknowledging the variety-value of other nations' cultures lends him grounds for why they would not be imperialistic. Shaky grounds.

It's common that empiricism and intrinsicism( or neo-mysticism), although in conflict, run together in a person's premises.

If he is troubled by individualism, that seems the most serious flaw his book has. While the cultural differences of individual nations is important to him for peaceful, non-supremacy between nations, and the (individual) family unit is everything - the true "unit" (in a society or of a nation) disturbs him (individualism is "Utopian"...!). A rational nationalism, conversely, can only be saved by individualism.

Edited by whYNOT

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

While the cultural differences of individual nations is important to him for peaceful, non-supremacy between nations, and the (individual) family unit is everything - the true "unit" (in a society or of a nation) disturbs him (individualism is "Utopian"...!).

just a taste:

Locke’s first readers were deeply troubled by [reducing political life to the individual's pursuit of life and property]. It moved the great British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, for example, to declare on the floor of Parliament that of all books ever written, the Second Treatise was “one of the worst.” But the radical deficiency of Locke’s account has gradually ceased to be recognized as a problem. Western intellectuals have come to delight in it, until today we are inundated with follow-up works—from Rousseau’s On the Social Contract (1762) and Kant’s Perpetual Peace (1795) to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957) and John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1972)—tirelessly elaborating this dream-world, working and reworking the vision of free and equal human beings, pursuing life and property and living under obligations that arise from their own free consent.

(pp. 33-34). 

 

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"Nationalism is an ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty over its homeland". [Wikipedia]

I ask then if "nationalism" has become a "smear"word.("...promotion of the interests of a particular nation...") - for concern for one's own country.

As was isolationism in this excerpt from Extremism and the Art of Smearing. 

 

Isolationism

A large-scale instance [of political smear-tactics], in the 1930’s, was the introduction of the word “isolationism” into our political vocabulary. It was a derogatory term, suggesting something evil, and it had no clear, explicit definition. It was used to convey two meanings: one alleged, the other real—and to damn both.

The alleged meaning was defined approximately like this: “Isolationism is the attitude of a person who is interested only in his own country and is not concerned with the rest of the world.” The real meaning was: “Patriotism and national self-interest.”

What, exactly, is “concern with the rest of the world”? Since nobody did or could maintain the position that the state of the world is of no concern to this country, the term “isolationism” was a straw man used to misrepresent the position of those who were concerned with this country’s interests. The concept of patriotism was replaced by the term “isolationism” and vanished from public discussion.

The number of distinguished patriotic leaders smeared, silenced, and eliminated by that tag would be hard to compute. Then, by a gradual, imperceptible process, the real purpose of the tag took over: the concept of “concern” was switched into “selflessconcern.” The ultimate result was a view of foreign policy which is wrecking the United States to this day: the suicidal view that our foreign policy must be guided, not by considerations of national self-interest, but by concern for the interests and welfare of the world, that is, of all countries except our own.

“‘Extremism,’ or the Art of Smearing,”

 

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