Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy
In the universe, what you see is what you get,
figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,
and each person's independence is respected by all
Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words
- "Metaphysics: Objective Reality" "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
- "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
- "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
- "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"
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http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/38392/ This is indeed a fascinating and educational story about the bitcoin phenomenon. What it says to me, in essence, is that bitcoin cannot ever be a "real" currency, only a curiosity and a speculative instrument (or in this case, "a pyramid scheme for geeks"). Why not? Because bitcoin is not a universally accepted currency. Why can't it become one? Because it's not a universally accepted currency. Yes, it's a chicken/egg problem--and there is absolutely no way this can be broken unless all other currencies collapse. You see, vendors are not speculators by trade: are not going to want to trade real goods for this commodity unless they are relatively sure of it's current and future value, within a narrow band. The width of that band is set by alternatives aka the US dollar, etc. As such, if a vendor imagines the value band of the US dollar to be "+/- 5%", every other currency must beat that. So yes, if we were in the 1400s and there were many crazy currencies floating around, then bitcoin would be able to play because all of the other currencies might be in the same boat. In today's world, however, a currency that has fluctuated in value by 100's of percent in a year cannot possibly compete. What is incredibly interesting to me about this is that it also demonstrates the problems with trying to substitute any currency (or really any THING) with the world's current currencies. To put it another way, why don't vendors these days simply accept gold as payment? Why can't you go to Amazon.com and buy a plasma TV with an ounce or two of gold? Why wouldn't Amazon do that? Well in a sense they could since Amazon's system is nicely computerized: it could give you an instant translation from gold to US dollars and give you the price in gold. As long as the volatility wasn't so extreme, and you were willing to pay a fee for what volatility there was, then they could make it work. However if you're paying attention, you'd notice that doesn't solve anything at all. Gold in this case is not a "currency" it is merely a commodity that has a price, that price being denominated in US dollars or some other relatively stable currency. In other words, the price of the Plasma TV in this case would be in US dollars, not gold, silver, oil, bitcoin or Lindins, or whatever. So the conclusion is this: only currencies are currency, everything else are commodities priced in terms of widely accepted currencies. The enormous volatility of both gold and bitcoin preclude either of them from being viable substitutes for any "real" currency. The only way we would ever get to a "gold standard" in the USA is if they US dollar turned into toilet paper and the world needed an alternative. Until then the dollar will do just fine, and calls for a gold standard is akin to asking the fire department to douse your home in water when it's not, in fact, on fire.
I was working on an essay about immigration, and realized that I had to first deal with an error in Objectivism. So here is what I ran into. (All quotes are from Rand.) These statements are false. To explain why, I need to go back to first (political) principles. So, the determination of what constitutes a right requires an analysis of what actions the nature of a rational being require in a social context. From "The Nature of Government" (all further quotes are from there): This is not true. Fraud, for example, violates rights, but no physical force is used. Rand gets around this by asserting that fraud involves "indirect force", but this is silly — if there is any physical force involved in fraud, it is in the retrieval of that which was taken by the fraud, not in the fraud itself. Moreover, Rand nowhere explains how one determines what constitutes indirect force. What force, fraud, and certain other categories of action have in common is that, by their nature, they are incompatible with their object's actions to further his own life. Force necessarily deprives a person of the ability to act on his own will. Fraud necessarily deprives a person of the information needed to engage in voluntary trade. Rand observed that, "The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships — thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason: by discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement." Rand's error here is not in her conclusion, but only in how she arrived at it. Fraud, e.g., must be banned, not because it is a species of "indirect force", but because it is inconsistent with "voluntary, uncoerced agreement" which, in turn, makes it inconsistent with a person's acting to further his own life in a social context. Why is my way better? Because it allows one to solve other problems that would otherwise have to be dealt with ad hoc, by asserting that they involve some species of "indirect force". So, for example, if I invite you into my property and then forbid you to use its exits, I may not be using any sort of physical force, but I am preventing you from furthering your own life. Such an action would therefore violate your rights. So what to make of the "nonaggression principle" I started out with? It must be taken as a mere approximation, to be clarified later. (It's not really germane here, but I should note that Rand's critique of libertarianism — that it takes the nonaggression principle as an axiom when it is anything but — misses the real problem, which is that the nonaggression principle is simply false.) So what is it an approximation to? The essential point Rand makes is that society is a value because it enables one to obtain knowledge from and to trade with others in the service of one's life. What must be banned is not force, or even the initiation of force, but whatever, by its nature, is inconsistent with those values (which includes the initiation of force). Such things necessarily violate rights and it is proper to use force (or fraud or any other species of otherwise rights-violating action) to protect against them or to vindicate rights violated by their use. There is no short phrase for these things, so I am going to use the phrase "violative force" — with scare quotes — from hereon to refer to these things. (If you will, my "violative force" comprises physical force plus what Rand called "indirect force", except that my definition allows one to use reason to determine what constitutes "violative force".) The proper formulation of the nonaggression principle is that no person may use "violative force" against another. But this principle is not sufficient to for the needs of society. There are situations where it is proper to take actions that would otherwise constitute "violative force" to defend or vindicate one's rights. Such actions, "defensive force" and "retaliatory "force" (again, I'll keep the scare quotes), are not only permissible, they are necessary to a proper society. As necessary as they may be, society cannot function if their use is left to the judgment of each person. There must be an organization, the government, that constrains the use of all three sorts of "force". This constraint operates in two ways. The use of "defensive force" in exigent situations cannot, by its nature, be delegated to the government. If you have a burglar in your home, it's too late to call the police — your rights are being violated and only you (or others right there) can put an end to the violation. The government's function is, first, to define such situations and what constitutes "defensive force" in those situations and, second, to review each use of "force" to see whether it is "defensive" or "violative". You get to shoot the burglar, if that is your chosen method of self-defense, but you will be required to show that his actions were "violative force", thereby permitting you the use of "defensive force". Non-exigent uses of "defensive force" and all uses of "retaliatory force" must be left to the government, but the government must be utterly rule-bound, constrained to act objectively, as Rand noted: Consider, however, what would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of facts it needs to make proper use of "force". Its procedures would then necessarily lack the objectivity that a government must have, and would therefore be inconsistent with the rights of the governed. It follows then that no person may arbitrarily deprive the government of the information it needs to properly employ "force", that doing so is in itself a violation of the rights of the governed. Note here that, under Rand's formulation, a refusal to respond to a subpoena would have to be classified as indirect force, but it is anything but obvious that such a refusal is any kind of force, or even that it violates anyone's rights. It was this conclusion that led me to rethink the formulation of the nature of force. Under my formulation, such a refusal is clearly "violative force" because it is demonstrably inconsistent with the requirements of life in society, just as much as non-defensive physical force, fraud, etc., is. But, to return to the point with which I began this essay, it is simply not true that, "In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use." Only by twisting the word force into a hyperpretzel is it possible to consider, for example, a refusal to answer a subpoena as an initiation of force justifying retaliatory force. This proposition needs to simply be excised from Objectivism, replaced with a more accurate description of what sort of actions are forbidden and when an action that would ordinarily violate rights is legitimate.
If you do not believe in the law of identity (i.e that A is A); that you do not believe in what your sense’s reveal to you: if this is your personal functional axiom then you are forced by necessity to believe that nothing exists but change. The next step is to ask is what changes, from what to what? But it is the concept of indentity that allows such questions to be asked in the first place!
In the November 1966 issue of The Objectivist, Ayn Rand wrote: It might be said that fifty years ago nominalists self-identified as "non-binary definitionists." True and false pertained to propositions, but not definitions. A proposition suggests mere possibility, but a definition suggests actual certainty. And certainty implies knowledge of reality. If the goal is to enslave people's minds, then you certainly don't want to encourage them to pursue knowledge of reality. Fast forward fifty years to today, and the nominalists' appetite for slavery has turned to the social-political realm. Now they self-identify as "non-binary genderists." Male and female pertain to propositions, but not definitions; the mind, which possibly reflects reality, but not the body, which certainly reflects reality. If the goal is to enslave people's bodies, then you certainly don't want to encourage them to pursue knowledge of reality. Slavery is about controlling people's minds and bodies. Nominalism is a philosophy of slavery. A nominalist wants to be a master, a ruler of humans. And so he places himself above normal humans, both mentally and physically. Mentally he is a "non-binary" word-maker, whose speech must not be questioned. And physically he is a "non-binary" entity, whose very identity must not be questioned. When he says he is this or that, then he is this or that. And if he orders you to call him she or they, then your duty is to call him she or they. For he is the master, and you are the slave. He is a member of the "non-binary" royal family. And you are part of the lowly, unenlightened "binary" or "cisgender" class. If Rand were alive, she might say that nominalism has managed to reach an even deeper depth than anyone ever imagined possible. Verbal and sexual aberrants are being crowned as intellectual and moral superiors. And we, the normal ones, are the tolerated clown jesters of the circus kingdom. Drag queens and miladyboys. Bow down to your new rulers!