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Devil's Advocate

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Posts posted by Devil's Advocate

  1. On 6/25/2021 at 10:39 PM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

    Sun Tzu, in the Art of War, spoke at great length about the importance of deception.  To paraphrase, he said 'if you know your self and your enemy then you need not fear losing one battle, even if you fight a thousand.  If you know your self but not your enemy then the battle is only half-won.  If you know neither your self nor your enemy then your destruction is already assured.'  Of all the lessons he taught in that book the importance of deception was by far the one he spoke the most about.

    In Spielberg's Taken, Owen Crawford states (paraphrasing from memory), "The war was won by keeping secrets, knowing theirs and keeping ours". Deception, in the context of war, is a tactic, and history tends to be written by the victors. Taken together, the ethical value of deception depends upon surviving the application. 

  2. On 6/25/2021 at 10:39 PM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

    Ayn Rand made it clear that, while honesty is usually a virtue (under any normal circumstances) it ceases to be one when dealing with a certain type of person.  In Atlas Shrugged Dagny Taggart finds herself telling lies easily at a certain point (when she knows that the truth would directly lead to the death of her soul mate) and this comparatively brief period of dishonesty culminates in her shooting a man at point-blank range.  The parallels between this situation and that of a war are obvious.

    I'm not convinced that Sun Tzu's work is reflected by Dagny killing a guard for following orders, but I can appreciate parallels between The Art of War and Objectivism.  Sun Tzu was a rational warrior, and I think Napoleon's escape from Elba to march on Paris with troops he turned from his enemies may be a better example of The Art of War, and one that is better reflected by John Galt's actions, than Dagny's.




  3. The issue of whether or not The Statue of Liberty ought to shrug, meaning to allow (for a time) "the Blessings of Liberty" to go unsecured, is presented in the context of what "Atlas Shrugged" by examining whether or not Looters can be defeated by removing their freedom to loot, in a manner similar (and for similar reasons) to that taken by the Producers.  I believe our current President's political opinion that, "Healthcare is not a privilege, it's a right", along with our Former President's actions to overturn the election that unseated him, makes this a relevant discussion of political philosophy.

    If, for example, Lady Liberty ought not to shrug due to the collateral damage for multitude of America's Eddie Willers (a character I personally identify with), then I think your conviction to the political philosophy expressed in Atlas Shrugged is compromised.  For similar reasons, a belief that I am comparing a work of fiction to real political events compromises your conviction by dismissing without addressing the underlying political philosophy involved.

    Are we there yet?  I think not, but we are certainly already engaged in a showdown between those who favor the redistribution of wealth and those who don't.  And I believe that John Galt was essentially offering the same remedy against the very real prospect of wealth (property) redistribution we are facing today.


  4. On 6/25/2021 at 10:10 PM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

    The right wing still tolerates dissent and open discourse.

    I believe the truth of that is belied by the removal of Liz Cheney's conference chair.  The Republican Purge is real, and certainly isn't the action of a party that tolerates dissent and open disclosure.

  5. On 6/25/2021 at 8:38 PM, tadmjones said:

    When Trump said very fine people he was referring to the people on both sides of the debate surrounding the public display and or removal of Civil War monuments.

    In that same speech he specifically condemned any and all who participated in violence.


    Reporter: "The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest --"

    Trump: "Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves -- and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group. Excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name."



    There's an obvious contradiction in the claim that "very fine people" protest non-violently with "neo-Nazis" in any circumstance.  It's the same kind of argument being used to rationalize the January 6th insurrection as some odd mixture of political adversaries cooperatively breaking into the Capitol, with the ensuing violence only being attributed to "some very bad people" who weren't Trump supporters.

  6. On 6/23/2021 at 8:27 PM, dream_weaver said:

    In the episode Who Mourns for Adonais, a gods strength was measured by the quantity of its followers. The Roman goddess Libertas, or her Greek predecessor Elutheria, do not need to shrug under such a premise...

    In Neil Gaiman's, "American Gods",  a god's strength is generated by its users, which is likely a more accurate account of the relationship between those who worship, and the object of their fancy.  And Pankaj Mishra's, "Age of Anger", examines the power of political divisiveness in a historical context to account for today's headlines.  Both works go a long way towards accounting for the rise and sustainability of the Former President's political influence.

  7. On 6/23/2021 at 10:48 AM, whYNOT said:

    And -possibly- perhaps his shock tactics were in a partial measure of calculated opposition to such forces, which even an unintellectual Trump could recognize were dangerous to the nation.

    The Donald remains the most influential political figure of the 21st Century, and probably only lost his second term to a pandemic disrupting the economy he ran on.  Given his continuing influence over the Republican Party in the wake of January 6th, he probably doesn't need a second term to maintain his political relevance.

    Lady Liberty, on the other hand...

  8. On 6/23/2021 at 10:48 AM, whYNOT said:

    "Darker" - because of Trump - or despite him? Not to sing his praises too much, but weren't the shadows already gathering before his time, fully revealing themselves increasingly and disturbingly in only these last few months after his departure?

    "Darker" in contrast to, "that vision of a shining city on a hill."

    "Lower" in contrast to, "A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles."

    Yes, the shadows were already there, but January 6th happened because of Trump.

    On 6/23/2021 at 10:48 AM, whYNOT said:

    It was about time they were (crudely) called out, maybe to take stock of themselves rather than this faking pretense by the delicate diplomatic community that all is fine and dandy on the continent.

    Called out by a standard of, "very fine people, on both sides" of violent political protests?

    Called out by a standard of, "alternate facts" and "fake news"?


  9. On 6/14/2021 at 4:25 PM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

    ... Fortunately for us, there is a solution to the problem of being wrong.

    Unfortunately for us, "You can't fix stupid." (Ron White), and from Bumper Sticker Philosophy, "My kid beat up your honor roll student".

    If evil were a rating, it would draw a greater audience than Jesus.  The Former President (whose name must not be spoken) excels at one thing, shock value.  The seamless transition from TV reality personality (Your fired!) to "leader of the ""free"" world" (shithole countries), to Dark Lord of the Republican Empire (OK, that might be a bit much (is Mike Pence out of hiding yet?)), is notable because of the absence of a protagonist, which in a political context means chaos.

    I stand by my earlier comment that America has become a darker place.  To borrow from Stephen King, America has hit the gutter and bounced lower...

    ... which is why I ask should the Statue of Liberty shrug?  Or perhaps she already has??

  10. 12 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

    What would be more bizarre is to note how the house and senate have ceded much political authority to the presidents and to their executive orders, while only a court order seems sufficient to put an executive-order made "law" into check or overturn an errent law once it is discovered, an example recently enacted out on the state level in Michigan.


    12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    ... The president has power and legal authority over the military as the commander-in-chief, so it sounds more like you are talking about some weird constitutional theory.

    Given the Former President used his political authority to promote insurrection, given congressional leaders used their political authority to promote sedition, and given the current President is using his political authority to proclaim a right to healthcare, the Judiciary in its existing role as the final arbiter of constitutional law, is better suited to command (by court order) the appropriate use of government's monopoly on force.  It would essentially be a check on the capricious nature of a political call to arms.



  11. 1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

    Apparently, it's not just the catch-phrases. (Or it just makes for good headliners.)

    Netanyahu's Trump-style campaign to stop Israel's transfer of power

    It's all about the headlines that generate the ratings, that create and sustain a following that wins elections.  The Republican Purge is real, and the midterms will determine its success as political strategy in American politics.  An extended family member of mine recently noted, "Impeachment is just street cred for him," and that pretty much sums up my opinion of The Donald and his Dark Wing.


    39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    You still won't explain what January 6 has anything to do with Donald Trump being restored to the presidency. You don't need to call people's arms to be a sideline supporter of insurrection. It's annoying that you won't just say what you think.

    The Donald's 1st term election was unimaginable, until it happened. Former republican opposition candidates undermining the election in Congress on his behalf was unimaginable, until it happened. January 6th was unimaginable, until it happened... and the Dumbercrats continue to campaign as though if only everyone understood what a bastard the Former President is, no one would vote for him, while those who vote for him don't care because, "He's our Bastard!"

    The Former President will be restored to office as the party default if the current political trend doesn't produce someone who can beat his political base.  Do you see that coming?  Last go round I gave him and his following 50/50 odds, and this time I think if the Republicans make gains over the Democrats in the midterms, it's their presidential election to lose, if narrowly.

    Lady Liberty was raped on January 6th. That's what I think.


  12. 20 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    ... No one is controlling that military except for the general...

    Agreed, and there is no benevolent form of a military dictatorship.

    However, a charismatic general with popular support might act well as a caretaker monopoly on the government's use of force until a voluntary force of Peacekeepers (military, police, 1st responders) could be formed, effectively becoming an un-elected or appointed 4th branch of government in charge of securing America's "blessings of liberty".

    The actual "blessings" would be narrowly defined and limited to an individual's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness within the social context of America.

    The President and Congress maintain political authority over "the general welfare" of Americans. The Supreme Court has legal authority over the Constitution AND the Peacekeepers, and there's a provision to disobey orders that are contrary to the security of American Individuals, A.I.s, perhaps not unlike the first law Asimov applied to his A.I.s.

    Private security is allowed to operate within accordance to "the blessings of liberty", and held accountable when it does not...

    ... and please bear in mind, this is a discussion of political philosophy involving the objective use of force, not a call to arms.

  13. 4 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

    That is actually a bit abnormal. If I remember correctly (and I'm speaking purely off-the-cuff here on a cigarette break, so I may not be) I believe most people think primarily in auditory fashion, as a sort of "inner monologue". I know that's the way I do.

    So congratulations - you're slightly abnormal! Maybe that's why you don't seem to be recognizing the secret passphrase ...

    Yep, for me it's more of a slide show...

    Anyhoo, perhaps I'll reinstate myself as, "Abby Normal" someday.

  14. 23 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    Hey, anytime you want, you can explain what January 6 has to do with what you think about Trump being reinstated. You told me to judge you based on that. So I did. I told you it was cryptic. You never clarified.

    Eiuol, I honestly don't know how to clarify my initial response to you, "I believe that January 6th was an insurrection promoted by republican party seditionists, to state it bluntly. You may judge me by that."  Are you trying to get me to confess that I'm actually a republican party seditionist testing the waters here?

    You and I have quibbled over definitions before, but this is a bit much for either of us.  I intentionally use the word 'restore' to indicate moving forward as opposed to returning to a prior state.  My use of, "to be restored", is the factual expression of an agenda (not shared by me), but not the fact of having occurred (yet).  I believe that it is entirely possible that it can happen, but I am certainly not advocating for it to happen by initiating a discussion examining whether Atlas and Lady Liberty have something in common to shrug.

    42 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    Now, I do suspect that there is a real possibility of a charismatic general doing exactly this given various national and international politics. But I think it would be unequivocally bad, with precedent in Chile. Shrugging on the defense of liberty, followed by what you envisioned, is a cause of authoritarianism. The only sense in which shrugging could be a rational choice is founding a new country, immediately replacing the old defense of liberty.

    Now we're getting somewhere, thank you!

    I envision that a General Galt would not command support in a overt form of military coup, but would talk the troops away from his adversaries as Napoleon did, https://www.warhistoryonline.com/napoleon/100-days-napoleon-returns-exile-rallying-army-words-alone-m.html , the obvious goal being standing down government's monopoly on force in a secure manner that could be recalled at a moment's notice, alert but non-responsive to anything but an objective defense of the founding principle of liberty.  A new country is not required.


  15. 3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

    ... But the kind of communications that Devil's Advocate has made here, looking far back across his postings---and this is true for anonymous others also---are thinking-conversations that include exhibits of their own positions, including ones of some originality. It may be very unusual...

    Some time ago, in another Objectivist Forum, a poster noted that I appeared to assemble information in the form of images as, I guess a kind of transformation of written content.  I do tend to think in terms of images, but as that is natural and unremarkable to me, I haven't any idea how different this may be generally.

    On reflection, my hope is that it is unique. I'd like to be really good at something no one else does!

  16. Echos of Monty Python in this lonely chamber...
    Guest: "I came here for an argument."
    Moderator: "No, you didn't."
    Guest: "Yes, I did!"

    To the issue of my credibility, I invite anyone to review my previous posts and topics.  They will reveal that I am at worst, a pain in the ass.

    To the issue of the withholding my legal name, I respectfully remind you that the identity of the messenger does not validate the message in itself and that there are many reasons to avoid volunteering your legal name, age, gender, etc., on the internet, not the least of which is identity theft.  The fact is, it is not (yet) required for access to this forum, and until it is, I choose to post anomalously as a matter of privacy.


    As reference to my political beliefs:

    On 5/6/2016 at 6:55 AM, Devil's Advocate said:

    The following disturbs me more than the leader.

    Darkwing Donald is channeling a political force that is only united by anger, and whose only agenda is payback.  In most respects, I believe he is simply the patsy of the growing mob he represents; a form of puppet king.  If elected, and I give them better than 50/50 odds of getting there, America will become a darker place.


    I believe my reception here today bears that out.

    Now if anyone cares to discuss the premise of this topic, that those who secure the liberty of others to demand rights to a freedom from want, might choose to withdraw their services for a time (please read the following carefully), NOT TO STAGE A COUP OR SPILL BLOOD, but to simply retire, hunker down, or move off the grid, as did the producers in Atlas Shrugged.  Given that those to actually secure the liberty of individuals in a social context are primarily military, police and 1st responders, I had initially envisioned the emergence of a charismatic general with popular support acting for the good of the nation.

  17. 4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    ... No one else uses those terms in this context. In other words, you can claim those less extreme things, but you are also claiming the extreme things (but won't admit it). The more extreme QAnon belief in some upcoming event. Hence "to be" restored - you're waiting for the event to happen.

    Wow... just wow.

  18. 21 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

    ... To recap, DA mentioned the possibility of Trump being "reinstated" ...

    Et tu, Brute?

    "For better or worse, the Former (to be RESTORED) President is arguably the most influential political figure of the 21st Century, perhaps best evident in his catch phrases as adopted by current world leaders to maintain influence over their electorates.  However, I'm not returning from hiatus to argue similarities between The Donald and John Galt."

    MEANING: Whether or not you like the former president or his policy, he remains in control of the republican leadership which makes him the default candidate in 2024, and which if elected would RESTORE him to the presidency.  They (the republican leadership) are also currently trying to RESTORE him to the presidency thru legal maneuvers in the  courts.

    "Netanyahu channels Trump as he makes his last stand"  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/06/08/netanyahu-trump-echoes/

    "Putin says Russia targeted from abroad by fake news on coronavirus" https://www.reuters.com/article/us-coronavirus-health-putin/putin-says-russia-targeted-from-abroad-by-fake-news-on-coronavirus-idUSKBN20R1KJ


    "The Objectivist story of Atlas I read is essentially a primer on the proper use of political power in a social context. My question is, "Is there a similar tipping point in the Security of Liberty to that of the prosperity created by Producers, beyond which a rational self-interest in maintaining society ought to be withdrawn to promote the absence of society?"

    MEANING:  The fictional producers in Atlas Shrugged defeated crony capitalism by withdrawing from society. Could those involved in securing "the blessings of liberty" (first responders, police, military) similarly defeat ideas like "a right to healthcare or redistribution" by withdrawing from society, and what form might that take in real life.

  19. 25 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

    Why not prove you are not Neil by just identifying yourself? Then we can go right along in a respectful way, authentic, open persons, one to another, no obliqueness, just cards on the table. There are specific reasons, good ones, for why some participants here do not use their real name. Stating the specific reasons you are not willing to identify yourself, whether Neil or another real person, would be a step to squareness with people in this forum, should you care for such a virtue.

    Respectfully, no. 

  20. 50 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

    How can you have no idea, when you linked to him here?

    I had no idea because I wasn't interested in the author, I was interested in statements made by Barbara Branden relating what Ayn Rand had said about becoming an atheist.  I was familiar with these statements from other sources so I linked to the article I was referencing in a post 9 years ago.  And now, following the link to its source, there is Neil Parille.

    So you got me, I linked to an article 9 years ago written by an author I'm not interested in to cite material about an author I am interested in.  How does that make me Neil?

  21. 3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

    No - "restored" as covering "re-election"* is covering tracks by rewrite. 

    I'm not surprised in such a dissemblance from Neil, when writing under cover of the name Devil's Advocate. Coming clean here as self, as he does elsewhere, would make for less crookedness and for warmer, more genuine dialogue.

    I have no idea who Neil Parille is, or why you are linking him to my posts.  I imagine you can reach out to Eiuol or any of the other moderators to verify my credentials, if that's necessary.  I'm disappointed at the effort being wasted to create a straw version of what I posted, so I'll attempt to clarify as we move forward.

    Again, "restored" was the original word I used, and I clarified that when I saw it had been substituted for the word "reinstated" as part of an argument to cast doubt on my sincerity.  Fair enough, I'll respond to legitimate questions (even repetitive ones) to clarify to the best of my ability what I've written, which I stand by in any case.

    My use of the word, "restored", and the clarification I followed with is entirely consistent with my original meaning, "give back, return" ~ Merriam-Webster.  I added 2 examples, "the courts" and "re-election", and I've never advocated for the January 6th Insurrection or a do-over as has been suggested for reasons unknown to me.  A clarification is NOT a rewrite when it is consistent with the original presentation, which mine is.


  22. 10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

    ... Is there some other thread I missed in one of my absences which is prompting this stuff?  I get the distinct feeling that there's a buttload of context that's nowhere in this thread nor in my head.

    The idea of Liberty Shrugging came to me after hearing the French Embassy announcement, "a bronze cast of the original model used to create the Statue of Liberty will be coming to Washington, D.C." ~ https://wjla.com/news/local/the-original-statue-of-liberty-coming-to-dc

    I recalled (but cannot cite) an earlier observation about the irony of the gift of liberty by the French, who have too little, to the Americans, who have too much, which led me to creating this topic for discussion.

  23. 5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

    Atlas Shrugged ends with: "We are going back to the world". Of course, returning to reality after a break and now work to be begun again. You and we all, haven't the opt-out choice the strikers had, one must remain here in the world.

    Galt created the separation of state and economics advocated by Ayn Rand, which had the effect of stopping the engine of crony capitalism. The consequences were not pleasant, but were necessary to persuade the complacent that there really is, "no free ride".  It was never about killing the free riders.

    It appears to me that liberty and industry are under mutual assault by Biden's claim: "Health care should be a right, not a privilege in America", and that what Atlas shrugged can be shrugged by Lady Liberty as well, perhaps in the form of privatizing the security of liberty (again, without killing the free riders).


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