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Notes and Comments on "The Virtue of Nationalism"

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59 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

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). 

 

"A dream world ... living under obligations that arise from their own free consent".

Well.  

And to be lumped with Rousseau(!) and Kant. Prime collectivist-statists.

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On 7/23/2019 at 6:33 PM, Eiuol said:

Give me some examples of this, I contest that the people who are concerned about the death of their culture actually face any threat, and the reason they see it that way is their racism (judging whole populations by racial or ethnic identity). Desire for self-preservation is not evidence that their judgment of the threat is rational.

North American Indians, Aztecs, Incas.  Native Hawaiians.  The Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England.  The Anglo-Saxon invasion of Celtic England.  The Mongol invasion and domination of Han China.   The destruction of the previous neanderthal population of the world by modern humans.

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On 7/25/2019 at 3:52 PM, 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.

I am coming around to this viewpoint as well.  For the record, I am also in favor of American jurisprudence and legislation concerning public accommodations (that it is not the owners right to refuse service on trains, buses or hotels on the basis of irrational racial prejudice).  These are closely related areas and it is consistent to come to the same conclusion with respect to both.

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I was referring to the modern-day European nationalists, I guess I thought that was clear from the context. I was not trying to argue that all people concerned with the death (weakening) of culture only see a threat due to racism. I mean, I think there is a death of culture going on in America, but I don't attribute this to the effects of immigration or cultural mixing within a nation's border. I also don't think this threat if left unchecked will end in the destruction of America. It would be more accurate to say "people who are concerned about that the culture caused by outsiders". 

I don't think your examples are very good anyway.

Some native North Americans were certainly racist against Europeans, and in any case, there was actual threat of being being murdered or abused. Literal death, not just of the culture.

The Aztecs and Inca were wildly imperialistic, so we can attribute part of their collapse simply due to being economically weaker than the other imperialistic power, Spain. On top of that, the Spanish sought out to murder and kill these natives, even those that were not a threat. They destroyed Inca architecture, murdered people, force people to convert, things like that.

I can go on for the rest. The point is that your examples involve primarily the threat of death and destruction. Even if you're able to prove that immigrants in Europe have a higher crime rate, it doesn't follow that the culture per se is threatened. It would be the life and property of the people already in the country that is threatened, which then causes destruction of everything in its wake.

Culture certainly is important to the stability of a country. But my position is that it can either die from killing the members of that culture, or the people abandon the culture by free choice (as in, they've been persuaded). 

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On 7/24/2019 at 12:33 AM, Eiuol said:

 

Give me some examples of this, I contest that the people who are concerned about the death of their culture actually face any threat, and the reason they see it that way is their racism (judging whole populations by racial or ethnic identity). Desire for self-preservation is not evidence that their judgment of the threat is rational.

It is not THEIR "racism" which which will cause a bunch of people of a specific ethnicity to a. quit their native land and/or, b. create a self-preserving, self-determining state.

It is the racism-collectivism perpetrated upon them by *others*  -the collectivists and racists. 

I tried to make this clear when remarking on "inverse bigotry". Others who make out that you, an individualist - or generally tolerant person - are "racist", when all they see and judge you by, is your colour and any critical objection from you would be 'proof' of your racism against them.

The stage most of the world has arrived at. The real bigots are calling others, bigots. The leftists evidently excel at this guilt-inducing ploy. Where would they be, and how could they exist and gain power, without playing off the 'oppressors' against 'oppressed'?

A journalist who visited a small Yorkshire town observed that 97% of the population were Pakistani-Muslim-English. A few of the remaining whites told her that they had all welcomed the diversity of another culture entering, at first. Gradually, as they became outnumbered, their initial, good relations with Muslims got nastier, with racial incidents/comments against them in the streets, etc. Therefore many left and will leave. Who was racist? 

Example a.Leaving one's country: the slowly increasing numbers of liberal white South Africans, those who'd gladly assisted and approved of the end of apartheid have long been experiencing a reverse discrimination (racial) by the black majority and govt. back onto them, a dwindling minority.

Example b. Israel. Europe and its growing anti-semitism of the early 20thC - culminating in the Nazi drive to extinguish Jews  - was the cause, Israel the effect. Lacking those causes, the nation might not have come into being.

Do you doubt the "desire for self-preservation" - in self-defense from any collectivist assaults aimed at one because of one's race - is not moral and rational? Against tribalists who have no means to perceive one, but as the member of another, despised, tribe.

Edited by whYNOT

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IF "your" culture is one of predominant individualism and freedom, backed by individual rights - it is worth protecting. "You" have a "right" to it, and should fight for it, if necessary.

A consequence of individual rights/laissez-faire, the great majority of immigrants (in this case) would be arriving, not to bring down, compete with, feed on or destroy the nation's culture -- but to be a part of it. People seeking freedom to be themselves, make their lives and be left alone are always welcome in that nation, by its very nature, and their entrance would have very little need to be regulated and vetted. 

Edited by whYNOT

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14 minutes ago, Grames said:

Except my culture is a culture of individual rights, so he's claiming I have no right to my rights.

Nah. Culture is a wider concept than rights, so that does not follow. "Right to your rights" is nonsensical. You have rights. Your rights are to your person and property. Not to every idea, value, and practice of other people. 

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"Relatively"? Compared by what standard? Absolute, god-like, perfection, perhaps?

There is always a self-sacrificial implication by such writers as this "fanboy". 

"We" were and are so imperfect that we should negate the accomplishments of this culture and humble ourselves before all other cultures.  

Edited by whYNOT

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52 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

"We" were and are so imperfect that we should negate the accomplishments of this culture and humble ourselves before all other cultures.

"Of course, “You have no right to your culture” does not mean that you’re obliged to sit back and watch your culture slip away.  You have every right to compete in the cultural marketplace, to sell others on the value of your way of life.  And so does everyone else who keeps the peace. "

He doesn't think all cultures are equal.

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1 hour ago, Grames said:

Except my culture is a culture of individual rights, so he's claiming I have no right to my rights.

How can there be a culture of individual rights? You can talk about cultures that support individual rights, but individual rights can't be a culture because they extend to all people. You are also completely undermining Hazony's argument. This is exactly the liberal construction he argues against. And if you did try to make a culture based on individual rights primarily, it would be weak and fall apart according to Hazony. 

In reducing political life to the individual’s pursuit of life and property, Locke did not merely offer an impoverished and unsuccessful account of human motivation and action. His political theory summoned into being a dream-world, a utopian vision, in which the political institutions of the Jewish and Christian world—the national state, community, family, and religious tradition—appear to have no reason to exist. All of these are institutions that result from and impart bonds of loyalty and common purpose to human collectives, creating borders and boundaries between one group and another, establishing ties to future and past generations, and offering a glimpse beyond the present to something higher. An individual who has no motives other than to preserve his life and expand his property, and who is under no obligations other than those to which he has consented, will have little need for any of these things. Without intending to, the dream-world offered by Locke’s Second Treatise rendered most of the Protestant order senseless and superfluous.
(p. 33)

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40 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Nah. Culture is a wider concept than rights, so that does not follow. "Right to your rights" is nonsensical. You have rights. Your rights are to your person and property. Not to every idea, value, and practice of other people. 

Back on page 4 I offered a multiple choice question:

Quote

 

Here is small test to figure out or affirm your own premises.  Which of the following statements would you (any reader of this thread) thinks is most true?

Liberty is the foundation of social order.

Liberty is one by-product of social order.

Liberty is an impediment to social order.

"Social order" is crime-think, do not go there.

 

My answer is the second alternative, that liberty is one by-product of social order.  The social order is the culture.  To put it in terms you may have heard elsewhere, politics is downstream of culture.  In formal philosophy politics is hierarchically after ethics, and culture includes the ethics of the individuals whose comprise it.   If a culture of liberty is poisoned by elements antithetical to it then the liberty will disappear.  Antithetical elements include such examples as the determinism of identity politics, denial of the sovereignty of the individual, acceptance of widespread corruption in public or corporate bureaucracies, denial of objective truth in favor of relative truths and many other things that attack anything that liberty depends upon.

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10 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

How can there be a culture of individual rights? You can talk about cultures that support individual rights, but individual rights can't be a culture because they extend to all people. You are also completely undermining Hazony's argument. This is exactly the liberal construction he argues against. And if you did try to make a culture based on individual rights primarily, it would be weak and fall apart according to Hazony. 

You are assuming that only one culture can be compatible with individual rights. Also, see my reply above to 2046 that liberty is the product of culture.  It is not the case that any culture is based on individual rights directly.  That would be Libertarian thinking, just rationalistically starting with a premise of individual rights as if that didn't need to be proven or integrated without contradiction with the rest of the culture to be viable.

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3 minutes ago, Grames said:

Back on page 4 I offered a multiple choice question:

My answer is the second alternative, that liberty is one by-product of social order.  The social order is the culture.  To put it in terms you may have heard elsewhere, politics is downstream of culture.  In formal philosophy politics is hierarchically after ethics, and culture includes the ethics of the individuals whose comprise it.   If a culture of liberty is poisoned by elements antithetical to it then the liberty will disappear.  Antithetical elements include such examples as the determinism of identity politics, denial of the sovereignty of the individual, acceptance of widespread corruption in public or corporate bureaucracies, denial of objective truth in favor of relative truths and many other things that attack anything that liberty depends upon.

Your multiple choice selection is flawed because culture and liberty are reflexive and mutually supporting. Sure if liberty is undermined by cultural ideas that are antithetical to it, it might disappear. It still does not follow that you have a right to your culture. 

"Men are not open to truth or reason....Yet we have to deal with them. If we want to accomplish anything, we have to deceive them into letting us accomplish it. Or force them.... They are nothing but vicious animals."

The above is a line of dialogue Rand gives to the character Robert Stadler. Surely rationality is a cultural value necessary for liberty. Why is Stadler wrong that he doesn't have a right to force people to be rational? Or is Stadler the hero preserving his right to his culture by fighting the antithetical elements?

The non sequitur is the equivocation on "fighting antithetical elements." Some things you can fight via defensive force to preserve, namely acts of initiatory force against your person and property. Other things you can fight against with less than defensive force to preserve, namely things less than initiatory force. Why? Because you have a right to your person and property, not to "your culture."

Of course there's going to a broad set of cultural values that are required to support liberty. One way to err is the libertarian side that just any cultural value is compatible with liberty. Another way to err is the conservative/leftist side that every value worth having is a very specific set and it is required by force of law. The compatible value-set can still be open-ended and pluralistic.

Let me introduce the concept of "entailment." If a cultural value entails violating rights, like say human sacrifice or FGM, then of course that will be incompatible with liberty. But it doesn't follow from the fact that a commitment to liberty needs certain broad cultural values that the sense of "need" is by law for every one of these values, nor does it follow you have "a right" to these values, in the sense that you have a legitimately enforcible claim that others conform their behavior to every one of them. Only the ones entailed by rights, which is to say only ones that are actual force against your person and property. Only these "entailed" values do you "have a right to," as possessing a (negative) right just is that obligation.

Anything else, as Caplan explains, is just totalitarian.

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3 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

If liberty is a product of culture, liberty can't be a culture. You made my point for me. 

"A culture of liberty" does not equate liberty to a culture, it is a means of distinguishing between cultures on the basis of their ultimate political expression.  And yes where and when liberty exists, it is necessarily subsumed under the concept of culture.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

"Of course, “You have no right to your culture” does not mean that you’re obliged to sit back and watch your culture slip away.  You have every right to compete in the cultural marketplace, to sell others on the value of your way of life.  And so does everyone else who keeps the peace. "

He doesn't think all cultures are equal.

I have no idea where this cultural marketplace exists. Or how to compete cultures. I think this guy is superficial, equating culture with cosmopolitanism. 

"A nation’s culture is the sum of the intellectual achievements of individual men, which their fellow-citizens have accepted in whole or in part, and which have influenced the nation’s way of life. Since a culture is a complex battleground of different ideas and influences, to speak of a “culture” is to speak only of the dominant ideas, always allowing for the existence of dissenters and exceptions".

“Don’t Let It Go,”
Philosophy: Who Needs It,

Personally, I enjoy the variety of offerings from the many ethnicities and original nationalities which one finds in an urban environment. And, preferably and ideally, with all those people living in freedom from all others - and free from govt's help or hindrance. This output by differing people is not "multiculturalism", though, it is cosmopolitanism. 

"to speak of a culture is to speak only of the dominant ideas, always allowing ..." AR

Yes, and THE dominant idea (we are discussing) is individual freedom. This is what needs "competition"?! Heh. Only from an unappreciative westerner.

Yeah, let's try something else for a change, getting bored of this culture....

Edited by whYNOT

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1 hour ago, 2046 said:

Your multiple choice selection is flawed because culture and liberty are reflexive and mutually supporting. 

As an Objectivist versed in the epistemological principle of conceptual hierarchy, I can't accept that as remotely true.  The ideological underpinnings were in place long before anything like the modern concept of rights became widespread.

1 hour ago, 2046 said:

"Men are not open to truth or reason....Yet we have to deal with them. If we want to accomplish anything, we have to deceive them into letting us accomplish it. Or force them.... They are nothing but vicious animals."

The above is a line of dialogue Rand gives to the character Robert Stadler. Surely rationality is a cultural value necessary for liberty. Why is Stadler wrong that he doesn't have a right to force people to be rational? Or is Stadler the hero preserving his right to his culture by fighting the antithetical elements?

Stadler IS the antithetical element in making the generalization that "men are not open to truth or reason."  After all, Stadler is a man so he is simply a hypocrite living a contradiction, but from a position of great influence.

2 hours ago, 2046 said:

The non sequitur is the equivocation on "fighting antithetical elements."

I did not write the phrase "fighting antithetical elements" or "fighting" at all so you should not have used double quotes as if I had.  

The rest of this is good and I must agree with it.  Rights, objectively defined, can distinguish between what is a proper matter for coercive criminal laws and what must be left to individual conscience and persuasion.   But Caplan didn't write that bit, you added it here.  

 

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2 hours ago, Grames said:

"A culture of liberty" does not equate liberty to a culture, it is a means of distinguishing between cultures on the basis of their ultimate political expression. 

Right, as I said, you can point out cultures that respect individual rights. But "culture which respects individual rights" isn't what anyone's talking about. The article you are responding to is talking about culture in general, not cultures which respect liberty. If anything, he is saying that the only valid cultures are those that respect liberty. Doesn't change the fact you don't have a right to your culture anymore than you have a right to have food. Of course food is necessary to pursue your own goals, but you don't have a right to it. Similarly, culture may be necessary for a culture that respects individual rights, but you don't have a right to any specific culture. If a culture dies out, it is not necessarily a violation of rights, nor will all rights respect disappear if a culture changes significantly. 

2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I have no idea where this cultural marketplace exists.

Did you read the article? All you have to do is look at the variety of music genres out there. People adopt and gravitate towards different genres, and the culture surrounding those genres. 

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8 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Right, as I said, you can point out cultures that respect individual rights. But "culture which respects individual rights" isn't what anyone's talking about.

I disagree.  Differentiating between cultures on the basis of their recognition and respect for individual rights or lack thereof is primary context within this thread.  The first thing that occurred to me upon reading the Caplan article was that he had no idea there was any relation between culture and individual rights, or that cultures can differ on fundamental issues such as the relation of the individual to society.  Superficialities such as food or music styles are not fundamental and are not what I would be discussing here.

I vaguely recall a story about the British Army working to subdue India.  A regiment arrived in a village for the first time to establish British rule and one the first things done was to outlaw the practice of suttee, the burning of the widows on the pyres of their dead husbands.  A local pleaded with the regimental commander to allow suttee because it was their culture.  The British commander replied that it was his culture not to permit it.  Now that is a fundamental culture clash, fundamental because it turns on recognition and respect for individual rights. 

What makes this story of the British Army suppressing suttee of interest to me (and hopefully all Objectivists) is that while individual rights are purported by some here to be universally applicable, Rand's theory of values holds that the good is neither an attribute of “things in themselves” nor of man’s emotional states, but an evaluation of the facts of reality by man’s consciousness according to a rational standard of value.   To the villagers, the imposition by force of British rule and protection of individual rights was incomprehensible to them, as the entirety of the cultural underpinnings of the justification of individual rights was from a culture completely alien to them.  They couldn't possibly understand it, not all at once and not after years or decades for many of them. 

For the case of India and in general, can any good come from treating individual rights as if they were an intrinsic good?

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1 hour ago, Grames said:

As an Objectivist versed in the epistemological principle of conceptual hierarchy, I can't accept that as remotely true.  The ideological underpinnings were in place long before anything like the modern concept of rights became widespread.

Conceptual hierarchy is not simply pyramidic but can also be nebula (or suspension bridge-like.) There are many things that would not be conceivable with a pyramid-only picture of knowledge. A functioning social order presupposes a political/legal framework that structures it. A functioning political/legal framework presupposes a cultural value-set that informs it. There is not only hierarchy but context, and context means connections that condition the meaning of a concept. Culture and politics are interlocking and coexisting, as well as the individual/psychological and economic levels. Each form different "orders" of analysis of a society. Such orders, in Aristotelian terminology, are conceptually distinct but not separate. That's why Rand's definition of "capitalism" is a "social system" not merely economic, like prior attempts at definition.

To suppose a culture is just sitting there by itself temporally prior to any political system that it then later forms based on its ideas is "state of nature" -style rationalism.

Edited by 2046

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15 minutes ago, 2046 said:

 

Wait a minute, how can you write temporally prior and then posit a political system that "it then later forms" as if that were rationalism?  Causation is not rationalism.

A culture will have some political order at any point in time, but what comes later necessarily is based on what went before whether it was progress or regress.  Explicit identifications of new political concepts often depended upon what was already the practice, but there was an implicit idea in the culture that motivated the practice in the first place.  

I'm glad to see you've rejected "state of nature" thinking.  Journo's review didn't even bother to grapple with that critique.  I guess the cognitive dissonance was just too painful to bear even though "state of nature" thinking is not even within the scope of formal Objectivist politics.  It costs nothing to jettison it.

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19 minutes ago, Grames said:

A culture will have some political order at any point in time, but what comes later necessarily is based on what went before whether it was progress or regress.  Explicit identifications of new political concepts often depended upon what was already the practice, but there was an implicit idea in the culture that motivated the practice in the first place.  

Then politics is not a "by-product" of culture in a one way street.

Anyways, take the following syllogism:

Socrates owes me money.

Socrates is an Athenian.

I have a right to take money from Athenians.

This doesn't follow because Athenian is a wider concept than Socrates. In the same way:

I have rights.

Rights are informed by culture.

I have a right to my culture.

doesn't follow because culture is a wider concept than rights. There are many components of culture other than rights. The mistake is a fallacy of composition.

19 minutes ago, Grames said:

I'm glad to see you've rejected "state of nature" thinking.  Journo's review didn't even bother to grapple with that critique.  I guess the cognitive dissonance was just too painful to bear even though "state of nature" thinking is not even within the scope of formal Objectivist politics.  It costs nothing to jettison it.

What? You're mixing a lot of things together here. Who are you criticizing? Me? Journo? Rand? Why would there be cognitive dissonance? Why would there be a cost to jettisoning something that's wrong? Why would you be jettisoning something you never adopted? What part of my argument employed that? When did Journo even talk about the State of Nature? When did Rand? Aren't you making a lot of assumptions here? That's just silly.

Edited by 2046

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