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  1. This short essay is not original ideas. It is a restatement of Objectivist ideas in a language that may grab the interest of a person who has only limited familiarity with Objectivist ethics/politics. Ms. Rand called them the "Mystics of Spirit" and the "Mystics of Muscle" to describe the categories in history of irrational human beings attempting to dominate the people in their lives rather than producing wealth for themselves. For my purposes in this OP, I would like to summarize these types of people into one easily understood category. BULLIES. Bullies are people who find value in controlling others for any number of irrelevant reasons. "Bullies of spirit and bullies of muscle" is a corollary to Ms. Rand's ideas. I substitute "bullies" for "mystics" because while "mystics" is conceptually better for the arguments, "bullies" is the most common, concrete expression that people are familiar with in their everyday lives. Mystics/bullies are a fact in the range of human, sense-of-life, identity and these people are drawn to governing in private associations and public government The primary, natural, purpose of instituting a government is to insulate citizens from the effects of bullies, but bullies are attracted to the organization of a governing body because the governing body is given the power to control with sharply reduced requirements for justification. The above being the natural evolution of communities and nation states among reasoned individuals, it should be obvious, that giving a governing entity any function over and above protection of citizens from force and fraud, opens the governing entity (and the bullies attracted to it) to the misuse of the power they are given by the citizens. Ignore these clear facts and you end up with crony capitalism at best or Nazism/Stalinism at worst.
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  2. Dante

    Accepted determinism

    We certainly are governed strictly by the laws of cause and effect, and there are no loopholes in causality. However, accepting this view does not immediately lead to the acceptance of determinism, as is often supposed. The non sequitur is often accepted because many people have an incorrect conception of causality. For many people, determinism is part of the definition of causality; this viewpoint might be termed 'billiard-ball' causality, where all instances of causality are assumed to be instances of objects interacting deterministically like billiard balls. However, Objectivism supports a more general conceptualization of causality, which does not smuggle in determinism. Causality, properly conceptualized, is simply the statement that, "A thing acts in accordance with its nature." This formulation leaves open the question of whether or not that nature is deterministic or (as in the case of human consciousness) some ability of self-determination is part of that nature. Now, I would not dispute the fact that the particles which make up the human brain and form the physical basis for human consciousness act deterministically, but it does not follow from this that the system as a whole acts that way (see fallacy of composition). In fact, to claim that determinism is true is to engage in a contradiction. The existence of knowledge itself presupposes that volition exists; knowledge depends on our ability to volitionally weigh evidence and separate truth from falsehoods. To claim something as true which undercuts the basis for truth is clearly contradictory. For some further threads on determinism, see 1 2 3 4. The rest of your point, however, is well taken (replacing 'acting deterministically' with 'acting causally'). If we pretend that our free will can do more than it actually can, then we will be helpless to face many personal issues. Our minds have a certain, definite nature, and our will is limited in scope. We need to understand this nature and these limits in order to act effectively (this is just another example of "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed"). The example of kicking an addiction is a good one, where understanding how the human mind works will contribute greatly to one's success. Psychological issues in general depend on a good understanding of the nature of human consciousness. This thread on procrastination and how to beat it using an understanding of human consciousness also comes to mind.
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