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  1. The Parable of the British Princess I have never heard any British intellectual describe what the "British Dream" is, but I think I may have gotten the closest statement of it, accidentally. In a televised special about Kate Middleton's family, a British historian describes how her family is of 'endearingly humble' origins. "Why, just a few generations ago, her family was toiling in the coal mines owned by the Queen. It's sort of a parable of British society, where a commoner can grow up one day to become a princess." Compare this so-called 'British Dream'--namely, to become a Royal and thus marry into wealth--to the American dream, which based on the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, which states that "all men are created equal..and endowed...with certain inalienable rights," including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". According to our dream, there are no nobles and royals, and furthermore, no one needs to marry into wealth in order to acquire it. For the first time in history, all men are officially free to pursue their own happiness, independent of the state, independent of the king/queen, and independent of the wishes and whims of others. Just look at all of our self-made millionaires and billionaires, who came from nothing and made something of themselves. This is the parable of the American dream. While the fairytale story of this modern-day princess-to-be is very endearing to millions around the world, think of how the parables of our two countries compare to each other. If the parable of the founding fathers can be summed up by the declaration of independence, then ANYONE in America can go from 'rags to riches'. Whereas in Great Britain, so the congruous parable (of the pursuit and possibility of happiness) goes, one must marry into a royal family in order to be a princess, or to come into wealth, or to come into money. In other words, success or wealth is something that happens to good people accidentally. It's not something that can be earned through volitional, productive action. I may be reading too much into the Parable of the British Middleton as stated by a TV commentator, but there's no doubting the fact that we as Americans possess the spirit of the Declaration of Independence in a way that is unmatched by any other people in the world, including even our closest ally from whom we gained our independence and that sense of personal ambition. Two hundred and thirty plus years after the founding of our country, the civilized world still hasn't figured out the Parable of the Declaration of Independence. In the UK, the mere fact of the continued (albeit token) existence of the royal family is partial proof of that. In America, anyone can be a Kate Middleton. They don't need to be a princess to have a fairy-tale wedding. They don't need to be a royal to be wealthy. They don't need a direct pipeline to god in order to achieve spiritual and moral happiness. Royal Wedding as Vehicle for God-Praising You will note that the wedding itself wasn't about the couple--it was about God and Christ (i.e. the mystical and the sacrificial). The reverend said it best when he said that a wedding is the union of two people much like the union of Christ and his church (even though Christ had no church during his lifetime, but only disciples who preached--if that can be considered a 'church'). The requirement of marriage, said the pastor, is that the couple must devote themselves to self-sacrifice, and renounce themSELves, in order to fully realize themselves. That was the most fundamentally self-contradictory statement of the reverend, and also represents a contradiction in Christianity. You can't renounce the self, in order to realize the self. He also said that the purpose of the union was to make a new life, so that future life in the name of God could be brought about. In other words, the union of two individuals is in the image of God, and for the purpose of procreation, so that there will be more Christians in the future. The couple barely held hands in the chapel, and didn't kiss in the house of God (that would be sinful). All you heard were hymns and speeches praising God, while here is a couple who loves each other sitting off to the side. The wedding was about using a couple in love, in order to praise God. Think about what philosophical message that sends--your love for one another is secondary to the worship and praise of God. Your love exists only as a testament and representation of God's love for you. Your "love" must based in self-sacrifice (not self-esteem), and that self-sacrifice and self-abnegation will result in mutual self-realization. If the royal wedding represents everything that the average British couple should look up to, then they should look up to a life of self-sacrifice in the name of God, as that is the purpose to which God sets them, upon their union. The Royal Wedding depicted a beautiful bride and handsome husband in a beautiful setting. But you can't get away from the fact that the British brand of Christian self-sacrifice--the same brand that's been preached in England for millennia, was the ideological overtone of the wedding. This wasn't a secular fairytale. It was a religious fairytale, in which the only secular thing was the kiss on the balcony--the evil, sacrilegious kiss which wasn't permitted to be seen in the house of God. The wedding was a symbol to all who were watching, that the British people, above all else (above even the love of each other), still place at least a symbolic value of God (and self-sacrifice to him), as well as historical symbolism, as their highest value. This wedding was a reminder that the British people will never change. Even 230 years after we gave them the correct statement of the American Dream, they have rejected it in favor of religion and historical preservation. Their notion of love is self-sacrifice, success is accidental and can only be achieved through marriage, and tradition is of greater value than progress. Conclusion: our greatest allies haven't learned the primary lesson of the Founding of our country, the Parable of the American Dream, summed up by the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal..and endowed...with certain inalienable rights," including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Regards, Sev A.
  2. "The spread of the Atlas Shrugged movie is just part of a wider Atlas Shrugged phenomenon--and part of the Tea Party phenomenon.The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"--a reference to one of the novel's heroes--sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected." Tracinski: While the spread of Atlas was definitely helped out by the breakout of of the TP movement, you will note that the connection between the two is not the kind of connection you want it to be. You want to make the TP movement out to be an intellectual movement, and connect it to an intellectual novel. But it's not. It's an emotional reaction to the ever-increasing size and scope of our government, and to the social policies implemented by this administration. There are no rational ideas at the base of the TP movement. The only thing rational about the TP movement, is that it is unofficially backed by Atlas Shrugged. Atlas and the Constitution are the unofficial ideological underpinning of the Tea Party movement, because that's the most politically and philosophically consistent document which most TP members can point to as a reference. Without them, the mainstream TP movement is a mish-mash of people who are intellectual and smarter than the average American about the Founding of our country and about the Constitution and the government, but it's not an intellectual movement in and of itself, with a centralized message and rational ideological premises. And if it is, I have yet to hear what this centralized message and rational premises are, from guys like you, who are the TP movement's ideological backers. But even with these two documents, not all and not most TP members understand the principles behind them. For example, they don't all understand the ideas behind the Declaration of independence, such as the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What would the average TP member say is the basis of the right to pursuit of happiness or property, for example? What would the average TP member say is the basis for our right to freedom of speech and religion? There is too much of variation in the ideology of the average TP member. Note that they come from all over the place. And you can't really have a consistent movement of people who are all over the place politically. Hasn't that already been proven by the failed Libertarian movement? Isn't there ample proof in their 50 odd year history? And yes, I DO compare it to the libertarian movement, which also gets its ideological steam from Atlas Shrugged and AR. Many of these people are anarchists, and some are even conservative Republicans. Basically, I echo everything that Peter Schwartz wrote in his article "Libertarianism: the Perversion of Liberty", as it pertains to both Libertarians, and also to TP members--but I cut the TP members some more slack, because their movement is less intellectual, and therefore potentially less malevolent. I would even go so far as to apply some of the criticisms of libertarians to the average TP member. For example, many TP members would agree with liberty, as an end in itself, and many hold the concept of liberty, as a floating abstraction. Think of what disastrous consequences this idea has, for the rest of one's philosophy. It's all outlined in Schwatz' article. Why not re-read it, and substitute the TP everywhere the word Libertarian is written, and see how much of an analogy you can draw between the two. At the psycho-epistemological level, the TP movement and its members are benevolent, but ignorant. They get the fact that government is too large, and needs to be cut down in size. They get the fact that our taxes are too high, and that government corruption is too much. But ask them fundamental questions, suach as the source of our rights, and the nature of government, and where it derives its just powers--and the average TP member (as opposed to the average Objectivist) will greet you with a blank stare. Compare that to the average progressive leftist, who actually has the opposite philosophy as the average Objectivist. I ask you to make this comparison, because the TP is SUPPOSED to be the antidote for the progressive entitlement society that we live in. And therefore, the average TP member, must be the antipode, to the average progessive leftist of today. Yet the average TP member, will not have the intellectual firepower, to counter the average progessive's consistently anti-freedom, anti-reason mentality, and consequent entitlement society world-view. Therefore, we cannot rely on the TP movement and its members, as a means to save our country from the progressives. We can rely on the underlying documents--the Constitution, the Declaration, and Atlas. But we can't rely on the people, and the ideas (or lack thereof) of the movement itself. You once said that this is a temporary movement, and once it achieves its objective, it will dissolve. But it's objective is so large in size and scope--namely to cut the size and scope of government--an objective which requires such a large context of knowledge both politically and philosophically and economically, that it is not possible to achieve without the full Objectivist philosophy held in context. Guys like you will give the TP movement some intellectual ammo. But the ammo is wasted, because there is no substance behind it. There are no rational ideas held as the basis for these cosmetic political ideas which they are trying to implement. When you implement political ideas without a philosophical basis for them, they are wasted implementations. The Founding of this country was such an enormous acheivement--not because we got a document (the constitution) out it--but we got with that, a full ideological revolution. Granted, that revolution was a consequence of many decades of prior political-philosophical thought, and that not everyone on the 'American street' possessed those thoughts--but they understood those thoughts and their consequences, as a result of the bloody revolution. They saw and understood why these rights are so important, in a very real way--a real way that we can't experience, because we weren't deprived of them to begin with, like they were. But the TP movement, who seeks to have a material consequence to their efforts--presumably, something constitutional, or the repeal of certain laws currently on the books--is unlike the founding in other ways, specifically because it seeks to have it's (the TP movement's) consequences, without the requisite ideology which necessarily precedes the consequences. In other words, it is a movement which lacks a philosophical basis, and which seeks consquences which can only be philosophically attained. To put it in AR's terminology, it's the desire for the un-earned, in mind, body or spirit. But you can't really attain the un-earned in mind. You can get the good grade, even if you cheated to get it. But the good grade on your report card, doesn't mean you possess the knowledge which the grade presumes you do. YOu can't get something for nothing. You must always pay for what you get--whether now or in the future. The TP movement seeks to get something now, and hopes to pay for it in the future (kind of like how the Progessives' vision of the entitlement society is--give them goodies now, and figure out how to pay for it in the future). Ayn Rand has attempted to help us pay for the TP's desired consequences. But the members of the TP movement haven't done the required mind-work, to pay for it. As a result of this intellectual emptiness, and lack of intellectual funding, the TP movement will suffer the same fate as the Libertarian movement--whose members the TP movement have undoubtedly borrowed for a while. The TP movement will start out strong (that is where it's at right now), and attempt to achieve liberty as an end in itself, for lack of any other political objective. It will be a reactive movement, which will attempt to repeal perceived restrictive legislation, such as obama care. But it will never have a positive platform or agenda, due to the plurality of ideological views held by it's members. It will attract a mish-mash of individuals with all kinds of political ideas, but take most of its most potent ideas from its Objectivist members. Most others will not understand the Objectivist ideas, but will accept the political conclusions of them. Eventually, the movement will start to fall apart when there is no clear and direct political path ahead. Some people will try to hijack the TP movement, and make it about specific issues. Others will try to reconcile it with Objectivist ideas, and others will try to liken it to whatever other political or philosophical leanings they have. But eventually, it will come to an end. Tracinski: get out of this movement before it's too late. Don't waste your time and effort on it. And remember, that the only reason we even have a backlash movement such as the TP movement, is because of Atlas Shrugged, and because of the Objectivist movement, which is the REAL ideological and philosophical movement of our time. The only way to defeat the liberal-progressive agenda, is to do it at the fundamental level--at the level of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. The politics will come as a result. But in this era of Obama and the coming-of-age of the progressive movement, it's clear to me that, while the Objectivist movement is also beginning to come to a head as the only alternative, that we still have many years of work to do, to undo the fundamental premises underlying the entitlement society that we live in. Regards, Sev A.
  3. and what if a soldier gets severely wounded in combat? according to your 'agreement', does the 'trade' stop after the war, or does the government need to continue supporting the disabled soldier? war is not as cut 'n dry as your terms and conditions make it out to be. a soldier is making an educated choice to join the military during a time of war, and knows the risks involved. but the state also has a responsibility to see a soldier to recovery after they come home from a combat zone with injuries. when the state sends a soldier to combat, they take responsibility for all reasonable actions he takes. it's a responsibility shared by the soldier and the state. it's part of the 'trade'
  4. because due process governs our every action every time we go outside the wire. being at war means more regulations that govern our actions (read: tie our hands), not 'free for all'. there is much due process for capture. sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's very complex and based the situation. and where would you keep them? there aren't that many 'prison camps' in afghanistan--we have fobs all over afghanistan with 2-5 room detention centers. are we to bring all prisoners into these fobs, interrogate them, find out that they had something to do with low level activity such as shipping or transferring weapons (say a cache of ak47's) from one place to another, and then transfer them to a larger prison, and keep them in our custody till the end of the war? sounds like a preposterous idea. some targets are of such low value, low heirarchy and low importance to us that the only feasible thing to do is to put them in our systems and release them--the decision for which is required to be made shorty after interrogation, and then release them, and keep track of their movements activity if they are important enough. otherwise half the adult male population of a certain age range in afghanistan would still be in prison right now. furthermore, we offer afghans so much more in prison than they would get outside, that many of them would see a multi-year prison sentence in us custody as being far better than the life they would live outside, subject to taliban brutality. we'd be encouraging a welfare state of sorts for thugs or pretenders if we had such a policy of imprisonment
  5. and how would you find out what 'camp' the prisoner belongs to? in afghanistan, an enemy combatant could belong to a local tribe, and fall under their tribal hierarchy, but also report to either the taliban or al quaeda. these are people often without papers or identification--without fully interrogating them in a controlled environment, getting their prints and retinal scan, and logging him into our 'systems', how can this person be identified, kept track of, let alone be identified as belonging to a camp or associated with a group? once identified, what if he switches allegiances? we currently pay insurgents in iraq in afghanistan to work for us, but they may switch allegiances to the local taliban if we don't pay them or provide them with food/security/protection/supplies. i have driven up to a checkpoint of shiite former insurgents who we were supposed to be paying off, and who almost got hostile towards us because they hadn't been paid in months. we're lucky to have passed this checkpoint without being fired upon or worse. moral of the story: allegiances can change rapidly, they are often based on physical needs of food and security, and you can never identify who an individual belongs to in theater at a given time, unless he's a known member of a heirarchy based on validly collected intelligence. most of the time, you can't even bring them in for interrogation (in iraq, for example), without an iraqi security/military escort, and without approval from an iraqi judge. even after they are brought in, they could and often are released very shorty thereafter. i could give dozens of examples of high value targets that were brought in for interrogation, but then immediately released due to lack of evidence (even though we knew they were undoubtedly 'bad guys' who did bad things to us), but the details of all of them are not open source. the standards for detainment and capture, interrogration and imprisonment in this complex wartime environment, needs to be set by the rules of engagement based on international law, the treaties signed by the us and the foreign country we are occupying, and by the laws which govern humint collection practises. you can't base your intelligence collection doctrine on the perceived threat (by whom and based on what standard) of an individual against US--it has to be a more objective criterion which doesn't give as much authority to the commander in the local area based on his perceptions, even if based on validly collected intelligence.
  6. I probably 'know' a lot of people on this forum. If you know me (how many people do you know named Sev, anyway?) then speak up. And if you don't, why not welcome me anyway! Name: Sev Age: 26 (darn, almost 27) Nationality: American (99%)-Armenian (1%) Location: Los Angeles, CA Occupation: eBay auctioneer; US Army Reserves Favorite non-AR book: the Hobbit Favorite AR book: can I say all of them? What I'm reading now: OPAR (been re-reading it for the last three years); The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes What's in the CD player now: MP3s of all my MIDI files of all my video game music; IQ; Spock's Beard Hobbies: playing drums, working on car, reading books Favorite places to shop: Home Depot, IKEA, the 99 cent store Favorite place in the world: between my four walls Favorite TV show: present: G4 TV; past: Star Trek (TNG) Purpose in Life: OK, let's not spoil it all for everyone in my first post How I learned about Objectivism: in 1998, after reading AS, the inside of the back cover had information about ARI. I sent in for information, went to ARI events, became an Objectivist.
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