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Everything posted by DarkWaters

  1. Thank you for taking the time to publish this articulate and detailed book review. If you have the time, I highly recommend posting a condescend version of your review on Amazon.com. There is presently only one book review so all reviews posted should receive very high visibility.
  2. I definitely would not be too hopeful about these translations. The author has a special section on the webpage for "Nathaniel Branden's Five Essays on Objectivism".
  3. Okay, I see the point you are driving at and I think it is a very good one. Fiction is more important precisely because it can concretize man's widest and most vital abstractions for living a happy, productive and moral life.
  4. Do not worry, I know that you were not. I agree.
  5. I regret to inform you that you still missed my point. My offered advice on viewing the movie was not condition on knowledge, it was conditioned on values. The essence of what is wrote is that if one wants to learn about Ayn Rand, then they should not watch the movie. If one wants to learn about the controversy, then they should. Note that my advice makes absolutely no reference to the intelligence of the reader. I also think that it is highly inappropriate and rude to offer advice conditioned on the viewer's intelligence under the circumstances of this discussion. Of course, the economics analogy was primarily conditioned on knowledge, not one values, so I can see how confusion was invited. However, the broader point of the analogy is that context, be it knowledge or values sought, matters.
  6. This is wrong. Please note the implied context that college students are presumably first learning about capitalism. Under these circumstances, it is highly inappropriate for students to begin learning about capitalism by studying its fiercest and/or most popular critics. The students do indeed have free will and presumably should not be accepting anything uncritically. However, to be able to refute arguments as influential as Marx's is an enormous intellectual feat for a college freshman. Surely their time is better spent first learning about what capitalism is. After they have that foundation, and if the students are interested in assembling a moral defense of capitalism (or if this is part of the purpose of the class), then reading the aforementioned works could be of great value. However, even then, the students will almost certainly need some professional guidance. Obviously, I agree with this and please note that nothing I wrote suggests otherwise. The issue I addressed is whether a particular movie is worth watching (i.e., not if one should uncritically view anything.) I stated conditions where I suspect the movie is worth watching and conditions where I think the movie is not worth watching. I am not a media multiculturalist who believes that every book, every movie and every perspective has enough value to justify the time investment required to read/watch it. Even Marx's works unfortunately remain highly influential, as reprehensible as their content is. So Marx's works are worth reading, towards the end of knowing one's enemy and understanding intellectual history. In contrast, my prediction is that Barbara Branden and her works are going to be inconsequential in about 20 years, if not sooner. At this time, if they will be recognized at all, it will only be as an example of the nonsense that Objectivists had to tolerate during the early stages of the intellectual movement. Thus, I see only limited circumstances where Barbara Branden's stuff is worth the time.
  7. I think such a proposition can be extremely ridiculous, depending on the subject matter being recommended and the recommender. Suppose an economics professor gave his classes of incoming freshmen copies of Marxist literature, Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and a bunch of anti-capitalist environmentalist books and then said "now go read these and form your opinion on capitalism." This would be both outrageous and just plain dishonest*. My point is, telling someone to read a book or watch a movie and "judge it for himself" provides no additional context on the content of the media. Barbara Branden's documentary is questionable enough where I think it warrants providing additional context when you recommend that people view it. Anyway, to reiterate, I am not saying that nobody should view it. Anybody who wants to really dig into the Branden controversy probably should view it, along with other readings. However, I do not recommend it for anyone merely looking to learn more about Ayn Rand's character or philosophy. * Just to be clear, I do not think adrock is being deceptive or dishonest even though I respectfully disagree with him on this particular issue.
  8. I definitely agree that fiction can do this. I was just commenting on how this is not unique to fiction and that I do not see why fiction is necessarily more important than other genres of reading.
  9. Have you seen this overwhelmingly positive mention of Atlas Shrugged on the UPN sitcom One on One? However, I concede the point that this show is probably not "popular"!
  10. I browsed this book on Amazon.com. A lot of this book, particularly the material on Enron, sounds like it is worth reading. However, the book has an appendix called "The Ayn Rand Problem". In the video, the author indicates that he draws parallels to Ayn Rand destroying "the Objectivist/Libertarian movement" and Ken Lay destroying the energy industry. I suspect that this section invites confusion on both the character and the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I suspect that this section also contains the premise that it is better to have a bigger tent for advocates for laissez-faire capitalism than a strong philosophical foundation. This section of the book, although it is just an appendix, is probably not worth reading. If anyone does read this book, I encourage you to share your thoughts on here. Notwithstanding the teased attacks on Ayn Rand, the book otherwise sounds interesting.
  11. This is an excellent question. Murray Rothbard is in a special category of dishonesty. Whether it be insisting that the United States was the "most warlike, most interventionist and most imperialist" (i.e., more than Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia) [1] or downplaying the extent of the holocaust to retroactively justify a non-interventionist policy for WWII [2], Rothbard seems capable of deigning to anything so long as he think it helps him promote liberty. That being said, I think we have good reason to believe that he would exaggerate or distort facts about the causes of the Great Depression, even if he already has an incriminating case against Statism. Thus, if you are to read his book, I would do so with extreme caution. If you want to read about the role the New Deal played in elongating and exacerbating the Great Depression, then I highly recommend both Burton Folsom's New Deal or Raw Deal? as well as Jim Powell's FDR's Folly. You can read my reviews of these books here and here. [1] See page 11, note 13 in George Reisman's Capitalism. [2] This was told to me by an economics professor who studied under Rothbard for many years. A friend of mine who was an undergraduate student in linguistics and a student of Objectivism told me that he thought Noam Chomsky had a Kantian approach to linguistics, thus making him a lousy linguist as well. However, I lack the technical knowledge to be able to evaluate this claim.
  12. That is horrendous. Either way, I imagine that Barbara Branden nevertheless pretends to be confused as to how Objectivists could honestly find this offensive.
  13. I do not understand how your reasoning leads you to conclude that fiction is more important. Anything that involves lesser-abstractions requires you to form generalizations and integrate them into the total sum of your knowledge. You can make the same argument for reading history, science, economics, psychology or any other subject matter.
  14. If we were to apply this reasoning consistently then we are compelled to conclude that we should view any documentary on Ayn Rand no matter how inaccurate or offensive it is. We should read any book that features her even if the book is a dishonest smear. We should listen to any lecture mocking the ideas and personality of Ayn Rand, no matter how disgusted we are by the content. Needless to say, I disagree with this reasoning. Given finite time, individuals should engage in recreational activities that are of value. You are not evading reality by choosing not to view this movie. Whether you should view it depends on what you expect to gain from taking the time to watch it. I would not expect to learn anything positive regarding Ayn Rand or Objectivism from viewing this movie. I have not seen the movie nor have I read Barbara Branden's book. However, based on reading excerpts and from the commentary on pro-Branden message boards, I imagine that the film portrays Ayn Rand as brilliant but dogmatically suppressive of intellectual dissent and psychologically unstable. This portrayal is absurd for a number of reasons, most notably that it does not synchronize with personal accounts of Ayn Rand not only from current ARI intellectuals but also from her estranged associates such as those from Alan Greenspan and George Reisman. In addition, this portrayal also does not match how Ayn Rand actually is in the numerous public appearances of her that are now widely available. Of course, if you want to know what Barbara Branden has to say in her own words or you want to see if it is really that bad, then you should watch it.
  15. If any of you guys are interested, I reviewed How the Scots Invented the Modern World here. I think the book is definitely worth reading, especially for the sections on Adam Smith and on the productive geniuses of the era. However, the latter has a great amount of overlap with Andrew Bernstein's The Capitalist Manifesto. The negatives of Scots is that it gets a little long-winded at times and the author subscribes to the school of history that perceives Scottish thinkers, such as David Hume and Frances Hutcheson, to be more influential on the American Revolution than John Locke. Tenure also mentioned the possibility of reading one of Sheila Fitzpatrick's books on the Russian Revolution. Although I have not read any of her books, I remember reading somewhere that she downplays the brutality of Lenin. I might have read this in either the Richard Pipes book I read or something written by John Earl Haynes. Anyway, I am not saying that you should not read this book, I am just passing along a warning. If you are looking for a book to read on the Russian Revolutions, I highly recommend Richard Pipes' A Concise History of the Russian Revolution. You can read my review of this book here.
  16. Hamas was able to ultimately grab power due to the wide sympathy for militant Islam in the Gaza Strip as well as several other widely held irrational ideas such as that Israel is solely to blame for the plight of the Palestinian people. However, the fact that Hamas is heavily armed is definitely a bad thing and their state of being armed was certainly instrumental to their hostile takeover of the Gaza Strip. Needless to say, in a just society, the use of retaliatory force needs to be under objective control. Having an armed dictatorship with a disarmed populace is obviously bad. Likewise, having a weak government with roaming bands of heavily armed thugs is also bad. I feel the same way about my point.
  17. Not necessarily. When the Abbas administration lost control of the Gaza Strip, was it a good thing that the pro-Hamas majority was heavily armed? The error is that you replied to my posts on this forum as if you assumed that the package-deal (P) is true. Needless to say, (P) is not true. (P) An individual must have one of the two following positions. Either: I.) One believes that guns alone cannot protect one's freedom AND one is against private gun ownership. OR II.) One believes that guns can ultimately protect one's freedom AND one is for private gun ownership. If you want, I can provide multiple examples of you replying to both DavidOdden and I as if you perceive (P) to be true. While I still perceive that this is an unintentional error on your behalf, I still think that you should be cognizant of it. You already acknowledged and agreed that I am a firm supporter of the moral right to own a firearm for emergency self-defense. The situation you described is an emergency. Can you please indicate why you think I perceive that discussing philosophy is a viable option here?
  18. Rephrased, the issue here is as follows: Do you believe that the essence of the government of the United States and the essence of the government of Zimbabwe are the same? If not, then how can we induce lessons from the current relationship between the people of Zimbabwe and their dictatorial government that we can apply to the relationship between the people of the United States and the U.S. government?
  19. The other thread on the second amendment reminded me that I never got to fully respond to the comments below. Note that the important context here is that the circumstances you described constitute an emergency. That is, a situation when the government, who rightfully should possess a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force, is practically unable to protect your life. This is a legitimate reason for a citizen to own a gun and this corroborates why individuals have a moral right to arms for emergency self-defense. This emoticon suggests that David and I must have been out of touch with reality to write our earlier responses. Needless to say, I emphatically disagree. Nevertheless, I think it is illustrative to explore the philosophical error that lead to the lengthy exchanges in this thread. I think this passage, in consideration with my original statement, nicely reveals the source of the disagreement. My original claim is that guns alone ultimately cannot protect oneself from bad ideas. Whether or not you did so consciously, you responded assuming the following package deal: Either: I.) One believes that guns alone cannot protect one's freedom AND one is against private gun ownership. OR II.) One believes that guns can ultimately protect one's freedom AND one is for private gun ownership. Needless to say, there is no dichotomy between alternatives (I) and (II). Nowhere in this thread will you find David or I taking a stance against private gun ownership. Yet, this false assumption is evidently what led to this thread "getting off track". Anyway, I wanted to identify this error because it is unfortunately very common (well beyond the scope of this forum). For the reasons cited at the beginning of this post, individuals do have a moral right to guns for emergency self-defense. However, to properly defend this right and to properly apply this principle to actual law, one cannot fall victim to false dichotomies.
  20. I hear this argument a lot. Usually, it is to insinuate that any law intended to limit private gun ownership is an early warning sign of dictatorship. While this is not NickS's reasoning (he did indicate that the lawmakers could just be irrational), I nevertheless wanted to identify the non-sequitur in the line of reasoning that I have described. The quoted statement boils down to: Dictatorship implies no right to bear arms. (I) Needless to say, just as A => B does not imply B => A, the statement (I) does not imply that the absence of the right to private gun ownership implies a tyranny. To allege that the absence of rights to private gun ownership is indicative of a tyranny leaves out of the context of the other freedoms that may or may not be protected by the state in question. The right to own a gun for private, emergency self-defense is one of a myriad of freedoms that should be protected in a free society. However, we must remember that we cannot judge how free a country is solely on the legal permissibility of gun ownership. Nicaragua after its 1979 revolution, Palestine, Sudan and Afghanistan are not free countries because their populations are heavily armed. Likewise, Washington D.C. was not a microcosm of Soviet Russia during the existence of its handgun ban. Anyway, the issue of dealing with arms in a free society is a complex issue that can use more Objectivist scholarship. To be able to properly defend the right to bear arms for emergency self-defense, we should identify and dismiss improper defenses of this right.
  21. Where did he get the idea that either the government elects not to incarcerate rapists so that it may jail marijuana-addicts instead?
  22. How free are Hong Kong (unfortunately now part of China), Dubai (obviously part of UAE) and Ireland in terms of overall freedom? I know that each one enjoys a substantial amount of economic freedom. "Who are the freest nations in the world and why?" is an interesting question that should probably be split into a different thread.
  23. Technically speaking, the scenario you described is not necessarily a Prisoner's Dilemma. It is only a Prisoner's Dilemma if every single driver would rather be on the maximally congested road (possibly resulting in gridlock) as opposed to being the one person to use public transportation. A defining characteristic of a Prisoner's Dilemma game (in terms of mathematics) is that "social welfare" (again, the math term meaning the sum of each individual player's utility function) is maximized if each player rejects his dominating strategy. This is not the case here unless if we have the above assumption.
  24. Not explicitly, no. But she explicitly disagreed with my statement that the right to own a gun will not protect any individual from the most significant destructive ideological forces in the United States. The objective of my subsequent commentary was not an insinuation on what I thought K-mac said or what I perceived she was thinking. Instead, it was a corroboration of my initial statement.
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