Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by DonAthos

  1. Judges have been making rulings on the matters brought before their courts, in due course. Not all of the allegations made by the Trump team in the press have also been filed as legal matters. Why wouldn't they pursue legal remedies for these other allegations, for which they supposedly have evidence? Why only pursue smaller and more technical matters publicly (and lose, and lose, and lose again), instead of submit their evidence to the sort of scrutiny you indicate you would prefer? My best guess is that they don't want their "evidence" scrutinized. In any event, even a lay person observing all of the maneuvering, wrangling, claims, etc., can eventually come to conclusions on the matter as a whole. Can we say that there wasn't some vast conspiracy to steal the election from Trump? Yes. More people voted for Biden, and that's the extent of the conspiracy. But all of the election officials and federal watchdogs and recounts and audits and rulings in the world will not "resolve all the endless doubts" for people who are committed to Trump, Giuliani, etc., because they are in the business of creating doubt, not resolving it. The doubt is the point.
  2. The word "coup" has been used in this thread, and though Eiuol misunderstood its intended meaning, the reference was: that Biden, et al., were in the process of attempting a coup. This is incredible. We may well be witnessing a coup-in-progress, in fact (though I continue to hold out hope that it isn't so), but not one perpetrated by Biden. tad, we've had productive discussions here before -- though it's been a while since we've spoken at all. I can't make you listen to me, but I need to say this to you: You are mistaken. Trump did not win this election. Whatever you believe about Trump's level of support, Biden garnered both 1) more votes, total; and 2) more votes in the specific states necessary to garner sufficient electoral votes to win the Presidency. There is no conspiracy to "remove Trump and install Biden." That you believe there is suggests that you are getting your information from sources that are lying to you. They are lying to you intentionally and attempting to manipulate you for their own ends. They cannot be trusted. Every credible source that has examined the election has determined that there is/was no particular "chicanery" afoot in voting, vote collecting or tabulation. Though there are always errors in such a massive undertaking, and even isolated acts of malfeasance, there is no credible evidence for any widespread fraud, or anything of such significance that it would change the actual outcome. The people who claim to have evidence to the contrary are lying. Their "evidence" is itself fraudulent. They are manufacturing or misinterpreting things in a deliberate attempt to deceive you and others. By way of contrast, people of conscience (representing "both sides of the aisle") have worked hard on multiple levels to ensure the fairness of the democratic process that Trump and his team are currently attempting to undermine and subvert. You are being used.
  3. No, Eiuol. That's not how this discussion is. We're not arguing, I'm not your teacher (Go potentially notwithstanding; we'll arrange a schedule shortly ), and I'm not repeating myself further on this issue. The illegality of crossing the border is itself predicated on the intention to keep Juan from working at Starbucks. Remember our struggling American families? Or don't you share Trump's compassion for them? And yes, precisely, the idea that it should be illegal for Juan to work at Starbucks is the very immorality against which I argue. Preventing Juan from working at Starbucks against his will is evil. (Declaring it to be illegal for Juan to exercise his rights, in service of his own life, and then further holding Juan to "initiate the use of force" if he violates those laws, is a second hypocrisy atop the first.) No, the question of whether or not someone like Trump (or anyone else) should be able to force Juan not to take a job at Starbucks is completely settled within Objectivism, regardless of whether or not it is settled in your mind (or the mind of any other Objectivist). You have no right to tell him not to; the people have no right to vote for any such prohibition; Juan has every right to work with John just as John has every right to work with Juan. To prevent them from so doing is evil. But to bring us back around just a bit, Trump's support (and perhaps even passion) for this bit of immorality is just one part of the overall picture, described elsewhere and at length. The totality is a man who does not care at all for individual rights and is happy to violate them, whenever he believes it suits his interest. Is Biden better in this regard, despite the ways in which he is also deficient? Perhaps by some measure, but if that were the only difference between them, I wouldn't take all that much interest. (Though it is worth considering Trump's appointments to the Supreme Court, and the impact that may have on abortion law, and other matters ancillary to religion.) What sets Trump apart is his disdain for our institutions, for our norms, for our democratic system, for truth itself -- and the ways in which he undermines them, accordingly. I don't know whether electing Biden is our "only hope," but I think that's possible, and I certainly believe it is the far better option. Biden is what we've always gotten, which isn't great, but is survivable. I think another four years of Trump would be an unparalleled disaster for our country. This will be my last participation for a while, I think. I expect the next week or two to be rough, and I need to salvage my sanity. I hope I'm wrong about that. I further hope I'm wrong about Trump; I'd rather him not be the danger, the dictator-in-waiting that I believe he truly is. But I currently expect this to get worse before it gets better, if indeed it does get better. So, good luck to us all.
  4. Endless are the opportunities for disagreement and discussion -- aren't they? When we reheat leftover pizza (though sometimes I eat it cold), my wife says that I like my pizza "too hot." But that's not how it seems to me. I like my pizza "hot," not "too hot." She likes hers too cold. I think my example simplifies exactly as much as necessary. That's why I constructed it in the manner I have. That's true. But Juan does have such a motive, and his rights need to be respected, not violated. Do you doubt that there are many "Juans" in the world -- immigrants who just want the opportunity to work, to make a better life? We Objectivists sometimes throw around things like "initiation of the use of force" and "evil" and such as though these are terms without actual meaning, just variables to plug into various equations. For the sake of what? Winning arguments? Proving our prodigious intellect? But we're talking about actual human lives, and the reality that the word "evil" is meant to signify. We're talking about initiating the use of force against real individuals -- using force against those who have not themselves employed it, and who do not deserve it, which is to say, injustice. We're talking about committing evil, on a systemic, ongoing, daily basis. We're talking about destroying the lives of innocent people. Perhaps you feel that, because some immigrants may not have "such laudable motives" as Juan, it is permissible to initiate the use of force against the lot of them, Juan included (perhaps because you do not know how to distinguish between them, or etc.)? But when we quote Rand saying, for instance, that "no man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against another man" and that "if and when, in any dispute, one side initiates the use of physical force, that side is wrong" and that "the end does not justify the means. No one’s rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others" -- well, do we mean these things, or do we not? My answer is two-fold: 1) If you have some effective means of discriminating, and some just standard by which to discriminate, then by all means, employ it. Again: I do not say that we should let Al Qaeda pass our border, only Juan. Yes, we should seek to prevent terrorism; no, we should not seek to prevent immigrants from working -- not even if we "have compassion for struggling American families." 2) Keep in mind that we're still discussing the use of force. In the interest of not being evil, and the preservation of "individual rights" and such, we'd like to restrict our own use of force to retaliatory force. So what characterizes "retaliatory force"? Rand (as Galt) writes, "It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man who starts its use." Note the language "the man who starts its use." Now again, here (emphasis in original): "men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use." So the question I guess I would put to you is whether you would determine either of your proposed examples to have initiated the use of force? A good rule of thumb might be: suppose these things were true of a citizen. Would they justify force-in-response? Ought they be subject to arrest and incarceration? If so, then I think you're justified in stopping them at the border, too. If not? Then not. (And briefly, with respect to the welfare system, the fundamental issue is that we must eliminate the welfare system.) This is becoming increasingly tangential and technical. I've already responded as fully as I could as to my intended meaning, and one of the lessons I've learned here over the years is to try to avoid repeating myself -- because that's typically when frustration gets the best of me. To be as clear as possible on this point, even at the risk of repetition and frustration, I did not mean to say that anyone (here or elsewhere) is a dishonest person; only that there are some conclusions which I believe cannot be reached honestly (and this is a very specific conclusion to which we're referring in a very specific context: a discussion on an Objectivist board among fellow Objectivists). I don't know Dupin hardly at all, and while I'm all for passing judgements, I don't like to do so lightly or casually. It does seem to me that Dupin is, as I have said, being manipulated (by evil people, who intend to do it, who calculate and plot and use the means at their disposal to achieve it) -- but that's as far as I have gone or feel proper, at present. LOL, of course you could say such a thing! You'd be wrong (and maybe even disingenuous), but, you know, if you provided your rationale, I would hear you out -- and maybe I would wind up agreeing with you? (Or, if you also opened yourself to a full consideration of my own proffered rationale, perhaps you would be the one to change your mind?) The conclusions you draw as to the nature of my error don't matter to me so much as your demonstration of that error; I'm more committed than you are to rectifying my own mistakes, and believing what I do about evasion, I don't believe that I'm above making them. I do not hold that all the rest of the world evades and errs, but I am the lone exception; while I aspire to always be honest, I do not believe that I always succeed. So what are we talking about? Don't speculate as to what you might do to show me my mistakes and correct me -- you are heartily invited (in this thread or that, publicly or privately, on a train or in the rain, on a boat or with a goat) to show me my error and benefit us both.
  5. I'm not going to revisit the border control debate here. There are already a few threads devoted to that issue. But I think it's a serious mistake to begin with the view that your opponents are dishonest. Political questions involve very advanced ideas and are not easy to answer. There is much room for honest disagreement. I don't begin with any assumption that anyone is dishonest, in general or in specific. But for an Objectivist to reach the conclusion that someone who takes a job at a barista at Starbucks has thereby initiated the use of force? No, I don't think that conclusion can be reached honestly. Which is not to say that coming to such a conclusion makes one a dishonest person. Because we have a term for "evasion," and hopefully some measure of understanding of it (though I suspect we do not yet have all that much), that doesn't make us immune to it. I think we all evade at times, to greater or lesser extents. I think we all reach certain conclusions dishonestly, by which I mean evading one or more details, not allowing ourselves to see or to understand that which we otherwise could, and generally allowing ourselves a certain sloppiness of thought. (It is not merely the sloppiness itself, but it is the internal grant, the allowance.) If I understood these phenomena better, perhaps I could describe them with greater specificity or exactitude, but that's where I'm at, at present. And while I agree with you that political questions are not always easy to answer, there are also times when we're able to resolve apparent complexity into something which is relatively easy to understand and (yes) easy to answer. None of what Rand accomplished in laying out her philosophy was "easy," for instance (which I think goes some way in explaining why it took so bloody long for someone to do it) -- and she was a genius for doing what she did -- but now, having done, it allows many other people (including some non-geniuses, perhaps) to trod those same, or similar paths, with much greater ease and requiring far less effort. An Objectivist (and by that I don't mean just some high school kid who has read The Fountainhead, you dig?) will have reflected on the nature of matters like the initiation of the use of force, and the fact that the creation of wealth is not zero-sum, etc. For such a person to come to the conclusion that Juan taking a job at Starbucks has initiated the use of force...? No. I mean, I've seen the threads devoted to the issue; I've participated in several of them; and I yet do not think that such a conclusion can be reached honestly, given that context. Could an Objectivist believe that Juan must be screened at the border before crossing, to ensure that he is not Al Qaeda, for instance? Yes -- and that is also my position. Could another Objectivist have some honest disagreement as to the extent or nature of this procedural implementation? I believe so. So to that extent an Objectivist could be cast as pro- or anti- "open borders," more or less hostile to immigration, or what have you, and an honest debate could exist regarding those details. But the essence of the matter, represented in my hypothetical, which you quoted and to which you were ostensibly responding? No. It's like suggesting that an Objectivist could have an honest disagreement on whether Hitler's Holocaust was justified policy, because political matters are complex (which, okay, is extreme to the nth degree -- but I mean to make my point). I just don't believe it could happen. Now, to bring us back to the thread, here's a subject about which there is ample complexity and thus could be genuine confusion: Trump's actual immigration policy. Does he merely mean to keep us safe from terrorists and plague-carriers? Or does he mean to keep Juan out of San Diego in the name of economic protectionism -- to specifically and purposefully prevent Juan from working at Starbucks, so that John is forced to hire someone else (i.e. an American)? I agree that the former could provide "much room for honest disagreement" among Objectivists; but the latter? Nope. I cannot see how any Objectivist would support policies designed to coerce individuals to act against their own economic interests, their own judgement, their own life. It is clearly the initiation of the use of force, the abrogation of individual right, and wrong. To that, Trump supported the "RAISE Act." RAISE stands for "Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy." In announcing the act, the press release from its sponsoring senators said that it would "spur economic growth and raise working Americans' wages by giving priority to the best-skilled immigrants from around the world and reducing overall immigration by half." Which is to say, it means to keep Juan from working at Starbucks. Of the act, Trump is quoted, saying, "This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first." The first red flag ought to be "compassion" (though Trump deserves some credit for knowing the word). But yes, this is economic protectionism. It is the initiation of the use of force. The abrogation of individual right. And it is wrong. _______________________________ Incidentally, finally today I got to see the much ballyhooed Giuliani scene of the Borat sequel. He's clearly tucking his shirt, and I don't get anything salacious from it otherwise, so "fake news" fits that media firestorm pretty well. But he also seems to be clear in saying that China intentionally manufactured and spread Covid, so... he's still a dishonest wretch, is what I'm saying.
  6. But I along with many others in Objectivist circles disagree. Our position is that the alien who illegally crosses our border is the one initiating force against us and violating our rights. I’m not going into the subject here, just pointing out that the answer to the immigration question isn’t as obvious as you seem to think. Really, there is probably not much one can say to reason with anyone who is taking their "news" straight from Trump and his team, imagining that Trump is the lone truth-teller and that it is the rest of the world which lies. Trump sought to discredit all sources of news except himself, after all, and for some, clearly that worked. The enormity of it is staggering. Still, I'd like to take a crack at responding concisely to the above, because unlike the distressing and degrading conspiracy theories we've been discussing, this at least speaks to something meaningful and real. ("Concise" by my standards, at least.) Immigration has been argued endlessly -- and yeah, I know that there are Objectivists who disagree with me; actually, I think that every other Objectivist disagrees with my stance on immigration... I've taken heat from all sides on this forum, at least. But the one thing I have going in my favor, I believe, is that I'm right and they're wrong. And I do think that the answer to the immigration question is fairly obvious, even if others refuse to take note of it, for whatever reasons they may have. And so: Imagine two people who live just across a national border from one another. We can imagine John and Juan, if you'd like: John who lives in San Diego and Juan who lives in Tijuana. John operates a Starbucks. They have an opening for a barista and Juan would like to work there; John, similarly would like to hire Juan, and does, and so Juan crosses the border (which need not be more than a posted sign here; an imaginary line in the dirt) to work at this job. In response, Officer Trump arrests Juan and throws him into jail. Clearly, force has been employed. The question before us is who is it that has initiated the use of force: was it Juan who initiated the use of force, by crossing the border so that he may work at his job? Or Trump, who seeks to prevent him from so doing? I think it's obviously the latter. I think that there's no honest way of arriving at any other answer. Working at a job is not a use of force. Travelling to that job is not a use of force. Juan is earning money, and acting through voluntary cooperation with John to do so. This is nothing less than an exemplar of Objectivist virtue, all else being equal. It is a direct implementation of the positive Objectivist conception of "right," as in when Rand writes, that man has the freedom "to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life," and that "the right to property means that a man has the right to take the economic actions necessary to earn property." This is what John and Juan both seek to do, and what Trump seeks to prevent them from doing. Given this, what case can be made that Juan is the initiator of force? Writing of the initiation of the use of force, Rand said that "one man cannot deprive another of his life, nor enslave him, nor forbid him to pursue his happiness, except by using force against him. Whenever a man is made to act without his own free, personal, individual, voluntary consent—his right has been violated." So in order to make the case that Juan has initiated the use of force, we need to demonstrate how Juan has made another man "to act without his own free, personal, individual, voluntary consent." We must demonstrate how Juan deprives another of his life, or enslaves him, or forbids him to pursue his happiness. In the language of Jefferson, we must show how he picks a pocket or breaks a leg. The case is sometimes made that Juan is taking an economic opportunity away from someone else, and that this is the "harm" done. But I would not expect such an argument to have any purchase among Objectivists, so let's just observe that quickly that wealth is not zero sum, that no one is entitled to any job, that all economic arrangements must be voluntary/uncoerced, etc., etc., and (hopefully) move on. We must also reckon with the idea that land is somehow collectively owned by a populace; when someone comes to "our" country, they must have our collective permission to do so, and simply by coming here without our permission, they have done us some kind of an elusive, vague, unspecified and impossible-to-demonstrate species of "harm." Again: I would not expect such an argument to have much sway here. But just in case, writing on the idea of "collective rights," Rand wrote that "a group, as such, has no rights," and that "only an individual man can possess rights." So which other individual is it that is dispossessed when John and Juan exercise their rights on their property, and by what means? Trump? How so? And with regard to "permission," Rand further writes that "a right is the sanction of independent action. A right is that which can be exercised without anyone’s permission. [...] If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society—you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not. Only a slave acts on permission. A permission is not a right." Anticipating objections, I've heard from Objectivists in the past that my argument will somehow leave our borders unprotected against criminals and terrorists. It is in response to this where I get into trouble with others (including Eiuol, participating in this discussion), because I believe that none of the argument I've made means that a routine border stop is unjustified as a procedural matter: that there still may be passports, paperwork processing, and so forth, as a means of enforcement against criminals seeking to evade local law, maintaining quarantine (which was far more hypothetical, the last time I discussed this), preventing terrorism, and so forth. Objectivists have similarly worried that, if Juan is "allowed" to work at Starbucks, how will we defend our border against a hostile army? It seems absurd on its face to me, but in the interest of the kind of generosity which I believe ought to characterize discussion, I'll stipulate that we would continue to distinguish between people coming into the country for work, like Juan, and tanks. With that, I do believe the case to be both made, and yes, quite frankly, obvious. Of course, immigration has a thousand threads on this forum, and counting. But I put this here, because it's salient to my larger point, which is: Trump does not care at all about individual rights. For all that Biden is a Democrat and believes in the things that all Democrats routinely believe in (including taxation and government spending and regulation), I think that Trump's hostility to individual rights, to liberty, is both more clear and more dangerous. His stance on immigration and the economic protectionism which, in part, animates it, is but one piece of that puzzle -- yet it is an important piece. I have also before provided evidence that Trump is happy to try to order "private" businesses to do his bidding, and threaten them with reprisal if they do not. In fact, it's unclear to me that Trump even sees any clear distinction to "private," in this sense; I think his understanding is fascist in nature, or more generally statist, in that he believes that all business operates at the pleasure of the state, for the good of the state (and accounting to Trump's particular nature, for his own, personal good). Whatever Trump's stated position regarding the individual mandate of Obamacare, and whatever my speculation as to his underlying psychology (because I think it's more to do with "Obama" than anything else), I hope that no one is further fooled into thinking that Trump has any care or concern (or perhaps even understanding) for anything like liberty or individual right. What I had written originally was true: Trump's stance on immigration is deeply immoral and a violation of fundamental rights. He has previously and routinely continues to initiate the use of force against innocents, as a matter of both policy and pride.
  7. There's a lesson somewhere in this I've been (too) long in learning. I remember getting to high school and college and grad school and, each in turn, thinking something along the lines of "this is it?" College especially, I expected to be... more than it was. There's a reverence I've always felt for learning, for reason, for truth, and I've always expected that, in a place surrounded by people who shared these pursuits, I would discover a community characterized by passion and kindness and understanding. Benevolent. Then, having discovered Rand and Objectivism, I think I transferred some of that meaning and expectation, first at ARI, and then here. I still hold on to this idea, somewhere, that someday the switch will somehow get flipped. That the promise I find in Rand's writings will bear the fruit it should, rather than... what it is, and seems always to have been. 2020 has been rough. I'd like to "get ahold of myself," believe me, lol, but faced with the alternative I actually have, I guess I want to be upfront about who and what I am, for better, for worse. The support I've found here for Trump and right-wing conspiracy is deeply dispiriting. Not entirely surprising, perhaps, but more disappointing for that. It would be cool to be unaffected, maybe, but I'm not unaffected. It sucks.
  8. Okay. And I think they're not telling the truth. Is it established for you -- could we at least agree -- that Donald Trump, himself, lies? That he lies regularly? And that he accordingly draws to him people who also lie and especially those who lie in his own (that is, Trump's) defense? Or would it be necessary for me to search for examples? Regardless, the conclusion I've drawn is that Trump and his team lie without compunction or hesitation; that they have no regard whatever for truth, and active disdain for those truths which they perceive to be contra their interests. I do not believe that a man like Giuliani could be in his position without a willingness to lie, regularly, in service of Trump. In a real sense, I think that's his job. I don't always know why people take the risks they do, but I believe that the Trump camp has grown increasingly desperate in searching for a means to an election day victory. I can't examine their documentation personally for veracity (and I wouldn't have the expertise to make much of it, anyway), but what I know is that this story was examined and largely rejected by the Wall Street Journal, because they could not vet it. I understand that this is all taken as further evidence of the corruption/bias of the "mainstream media," but I believe that the reason why they've largely avoided this story is because it is fishy; it does not pass journalistic muster. (Could this story continue to evolve, and force me to change my opinion? I'll allow that it could, but I do not expect it.) Despite the tone of the YouTube comments section (of which I only scratched the very, very surface), and your thoughts regarding the veracity of the documents, Giuliani's manner, etc., I do not expect to see any charges filed regarding these matters -- do you? Reason being, these documents serve a political purpose, but they would not like to see them subjected to the sort of scrutiny that an actual trial would require. (To be clear, I have no great love for the FBI and would not argue the point that they have a history of corruption. I'm sure we agree about that. But it seems far more likely to me, given everything else, that Giuliani and... uh... Bobulinski, et al., are lying to get Trump re-elected, versus the FBI betraying the country for the sake of the Democrats. It seems to me that the Wall Street Journal and FBI are hardly leftist stalwarts.) It may or may not be pathetic, but I guarantee you that it's no act. I've burned through anger about these sorts of things long ago, and (most of) the competitive and performative aspects of debate/discussion well before that, and I'm just left with sadness and disappointment and a sense of loss. It's why I now find it increasingly hard to bring myself to discuss these sorts of matters, or even to return here, generally. Objectivism should be so much better than it is (better understood, better appreciated, better employed), and so, too, this community. I'm certain you have much better within yourself, as well. While I hold no realistic hope of communicating this to you, the truth is that I sincerely think you're being manipulated by wicked people, people who intend to do so for their own ends, and that it is deeply painful for me to witness it. (And I am certain that you believe the same of me, whatever you may feel about that.) Speaking personally, I wish you nothing but the best.
  9. Looking at the video linked here, and thumbing through the comments, I see "reno 59" say: "Okay so you have a mountain of hard core proof, Now go get the SOB!!!" One reply, by "cat 11" reads, "They had all the proof on Hillary who put national security at risk by having top secret info on a home computer. Yet no charges or displinary action was ever taken" And then another reply, by "Loki the sly one," reads, "He's been trying for years now. Everything he's foipund has been given to the authorities but they won't act because the fbi is covering for the Democratic party. That's why a lot of them were fired recently but im sure there's much more dirty people there and that's why theres been no charges on any of these crooked fucks" ______________________________ It's all so sad and painful to witness this. Dupin, you're being duped. These people are lying to you. They're using you. And I don't know why you're willing to buy into it, willing to be used in this manner, but that's what's happening here.
  10. If you say so. But your initial invoking of "Deep State" and "elite child sex slavery," among some other subsequent items, had me worried. It also brought to my mind other things like "Pizzagate" (ugh, another -gate), the notion that the massacre at Sandy Hook was a hoax, that the Clintons had Vince Foster whacked, etc., etc., etc.; QAnon being merely the latest incarnation of a seemingly endlessly evolving conspiracy theory that Democrats aren't merely evil in the typical regulatory/taxation/personal liberty fashion, but that they also drink the blood of babies a la the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I've seen so many extreme theories over the years, as I'm sure you have as well, that over time one develops a bit of a reaction. One never really knows to whom one is speaking. So maybe this is a false positive. I'll allow it as a possibility. At the same time, there is your claim, for example, that "Russiagate" (which I do not, indeed, concede is a real thing at all) is "the highest crime ever in U.S. history," which again trips my sensor. For after all, even if it were "an illegal attempt by men within the U.S. government itself to undo the election of a president," and not an investigation conducted by appropriate authorities based on at least plausibly suggestive information, it would still have to compete with, oh, Watergate itself (which was a -gate before -gates were cool) and illegal surveillance and secret experimentation and torture and treaty violations and secret bombings and assassinations and such. So "highest crime ever," to me, begins to sound like the kind of hyperbole one only usually hears in certain disreputable echo chambers -- the places where, again, QAnon-style theories are sometimes floated and tolerated and spread. I should clarify that I'm not asking to debate the merits of "Russiagate," just as I wouldn't want to debate Sandy Hook if you subscribed to that theory. Rather, I'm trying to explain the reasons why I feel deeply skeptical about a number of your claims, and their sources. Again: if you're going to employ "fake news" earnestly, then you're going to have to demonstrate that you have some better personal discernment for your own sources. Rudy Giuliani? From what I know about Rudy Giuliani, he sounds like a crank. No, of course not. But neither does it make the case that Trump has some special interest in derailing sex abuse, that he is alone in fighting it, or that he has some special ability to do so. (And were we discussing the Epstein case itself -- which I'd also rather we didn't -- it would then become necessary to explore Trump's own relation with the man, and possible history of sex abuse, etc. But none of that speaks to principles or fundamentals or the reasons why I believe Trump or Biden ought be preferred to the other.) Fair enough. I don't read that the same way. I read it as a combination of pandering to his supporters and attacking Obama personally. I don't believe it has to do with Trump's desire, or lack of desire, to control people in general. And with respect to "control," I don't think it some neurotic need in that Trump needs to micromanage every person to the last detail, but I believe that in any situation where he believes his interests require it, he would not hesitate to use governmental force against others, if he thought he could get away with it; and that he wants power, generally, to allow for this. Joe Biden is a Democrat. I take all this as given. And here's where I disagree. I think Trump also views a better world coming from government activism -- at least, when it has his own imprimatur and serves his interest. As an example, here's an item from earlier this year regarding Trump threatening social media platforms with regulation, or worse. And here he is, also from earlier this year, threatening companies which operate outside of the country. In the latter piece, Trump is quoted, saying of companies which produce goods outside of the US and his desire to "incentivize" them to produce here, instead, "One incentive, frankly, is to charge tax for them when they make product outside. We don’t have to do much for them. They have to do for us." They have to do for us...? I don't know that I've heard Biden praise private industry or advocate for individual liberty, and I wouldn't expect him to, unless pressed. (That said, I'd imagine that he has some regard for both "private industry" and "individual liberty" at least notionally; I don't read him as a Bernie Sanders-style socialist.) But Trump's position, it seems to me, is that "private" industry operates at the pleasure and discretion of the President and for the good of the people (or at least, the "people" who are good in Trump's eyes, which means: the people who support Donald Trump). If I had to summarize this, taken together with his nationalism, I think it's not wrong to describe Trump's approach to private industry and liberty as "fascist" in nature. I think he believes it all serves or ought to be made to serve the state -- at least, when he is, himself, the state. I believe that Trump is constrained in his dictatorial urges only by the fact that we have a system of checks and balances and institutional inertia and minority protections (meaning: political minority) and so on -- but I believe that he has spent the last four years trying to weaken all of these safeguards, and that he will push things much further in that regard, if given the chance. So here's a fanciful hypothetical I'll leave you with: imagine that Trump and Biden, each upon election, were given the option to utterly remake the US Government in giving dictatorial power to the Presidency, bypassing Congress, the courts, etc. They would no longer even have to run for office -- dictator for life. The new Caesar. It's possible that Biden might accept such a thing, I'll grant, but I could also easily imagine him refusing it, in the name of preserving the system of American governance. That he would see some value even in preserving stops against his own authority. This may be my own naivete showing, but I would even expect that of him. But Donald Trump? He would refuse the crown? I think it's all he's ever truly wanted, and still what he's groping (if half-blind, half-dumb) towards.
  11. Right. In context, Trump's otherwise good-seeming actions are not actually good, because they inspire folks like you to support his agenda, which is not truly the promotion of liberty or individual rights, but his own power-lust and his willingness to subvert the system in the process of satisfying it. And then, with that understood, we no longer have a sincere comparison between "good by itself" and "in context it isn't good": there is no such thing as "good by itself," in reality, as we must strive to understand and evaluate all things in context, to the extent we are able. Biden does not appear in my analysis of Trump. Biden is irrelevant to my analysis of Trump. Biden's faults, whatever they may be, do not lessen Trump's. To draw a comparison between the two, Trump is a would-be dictator, Biden is not. Thus ends the (meaningful portion of the) comparison between them. I will not vote for a would-be dictator, but I will vote to stop him. Biden will be bad from the perspective of individual rights (and should be supported only in that he will be better than Trump, and in that we can only truly choose between these two). Every politician who could be elected to such an office in our culture will be bad from that perspective, and this will continue until we have some kind of a fundamental shift towards reason. Currently we are "shifting" in the other direction, and as far as I can tell, Trump is himself accelerating that decline. Biden's China dealings? Are you referring to the story that the Wall Street Journal couldn't corroborate and wouldn't support? You've waved a number of what I consider to be red flags, now, so it's time to address this directly. I was being a bit flippant when I'd raised QAnon before, but I have to ask, because I'd prefer we all have our cards on the table: is that where you're coming from, or near-to?
  12. I want to try to cut through some of this, because there are a million possible debates in a million directions. So, to clarify what I think is maybe the most important issue you've raised: it is not that I'm dissatisfied because Trump didn't put some "good action" in a broader philosophical context; it is that I am dissatisfied because, in context, I do not consider it to be a good action. If someone offered to give me a hundred dollars, I might consider that to be a "good action" in some abstract, isolated sense. I mean, hey, a hundred bucks. Nice. But if, as they offer me that hundred dollar bill, they prepare a club behind their back, meaning to hit me over the head as soon as I reach out to accept, their offer of the hundred dollars ceases to be good. I do not believe that Trump is principled at all, except as I have said, in that he wishes to promote himself and that he wishes to have power over others (that, in fact, he is a dictator at heart). Everything else, including his seeming adoption of this stance or that, is a means to these ends. He was a "Democrat" when it suited him, as he is a "Republican" now, but I do not believe he is really anything, at heart. Just an endless black hole of want. When Trump takes aim at Obama (because I think it is more this than regulation or even economic policy, as such; I think that Trump is guided far more by the politics of personality than principle), it provides him cover for certain people to offer a plausible-sounding defense of him. Does Trump care about Amy Coney Barrett? I don't believe so. But he wants the support of the religious and he's willing to sacrifice abortion for its sake. (Is Trump pro-life? Perhaps as much as he was ever supposedly pro-choice. If Stormy Daniels had gotten pregnant, what do you suppose Trump would have suggested she do?) When I see Trump posing with a Bible, or claiming to love the book, is that because I believe he has ever read it? Or is a "believer" in any sense? No: he is pandering, lying. Again, he seeks their support and he is cynical enough to believe that there are people who will take him at his word, despite all of his actions and his entire existence. (And those Objectivists who take heart at Trump's supposed admiration for Rand or Atlas Shrugged or whatever should take note.) By the same measure, does Trump care about the Proud Boys? I don't believe so. Is he racist? Perhaps in some banal way, but not as a matter of principle, no. I think he would sacrifice any or all of these pawns as soon as it struck him as expedient. I think he would embrace critical race theory tomorrow, make it mandatory training for government employees, if it struck him in whatever pre-conscious reptilian brain system he uses that this was the better path to consolidating or furthering his power. In short, I don't think Trump gives a damn about any notion of individual rights or liberty. It isn't that he's intellectually unable to relate his actions to some philosophical principle, but that he doesn't have any such principles apart from his pursuit of power. A regulatory rollback here or there is a fig leaf of respectability; it is, as I'd suggested before, the worm on the hook. It is the way Trump makes use of better (but naive) people who do have principles, who do care about things, and puts them under his power.
  13. Deep state? Elite child slavery rings? I don't know how seriously to take any of this, and I fear we're treading close to some kind of QAnon, lizard-people-infested deep water. Suffice it to say that I am against child slavery (whether elite or pedestrian), and trust that both parties are broadly in agreement on that score, but I am not convinced that the "deep state," by which I take you to mean organizations like the FBI, or long-tenured bureaucrats in the State Dept., and etc., is either 1) an actual problem or 2) that Trump has engaged with it in any meaningful fashion. So far as I can tell from my somewhat remove, the swamp is just as swampy as ever, at minimum. Is the insinuation that politicians have avoided discussing immigration publicly before Trump? That this is some new issue he's brought to light, or that he is the first populist to inflame and capitalize upon xenophobic fear? The first willing to violate the rights of others in the name of economic protectionism? Regardless, Trump's stance on immigration is deeply immoral and a violation of fundamental rights. He has previously and routinely continues to initiate the use of force against innocents, as a matter of both policy and pride. Oughtn't that matter in the face of "political expediency," at least here? The idea that Rand would offer any form of support or sanction to Donald Trump is incomprehensible to me. He's Cuffy Meigs in clown paint. And if there is bias in the news (yes, certainly), the right wing sources that Trump peddles and regurgitates and follows slavishly are equally biased, or worse, or far worse. (As an addendum, a liberal bias in mainstream media has been a common talking point since forever, and well before Trump decided he was himself no longer a Democrat. He gets no credit for that, though I'll allow that he has put it into bumper sticker form, whatever the cost to discourse or thought.) I agree that's a fine thing, in abstract, in isolation. But in context? Do I take it as some sign that Trump has an interest in liberty or individual rights, generally (or even any understanding of the same)? Do I think that a Trump presidency brings us meaningfully closer to capitalism? Or, these "victories" notwithstanding, do I think that Trump brings us further and faster towards totalitarianism than any of the mainstream Democrat alternatives? (At the very least, Joe Biden will never be mistaken for some personal incarnation of Capitalism; when the Trump circus finally closes, we will have to work at untangling ourselves from him and his cronies for years, maybe decades.) You have me quoted as saying, "I don't see the slightest appeal to Donald Trump," but perhaps that needs amending to: I don't see the slightest appeal to Donald Trump for anyone who wishes for individual rights to be protected in a principled manner. Celebrating the rolling back of a regulation here and there, or withdrawing from Paris, while Trump subverts the foundation of the very system, is a compounded tragedy. Of course he's going to bait the hook with something; doesn't mean we have to bite. Is this a net-positive if done in the service of pandering to religious interests for the obvious end of abrogating abortion rights, and through foul political means that will assuredly foster their own substantial blowback? I can't blame the latter all on Trump or even McConnell; the Democrats and Republicans have been playing these games for decades. But the current escalation? It feels like the moment in Romeo & Juliet when the duel between Tybalt and Mercutio shifts from half-jest into an earnest life-and-death struggle. "Packing the court," which used to be and ought to be unconscionable, now seems like a vaguely realistic option, should the Dems obtain sufficient power. And of course that would demand its own escalating reprisal, and on and on. Where would that kind of games playing end, and who would be the loser? (Trick question: we all would.) There needs to be an adult in the room to help put an end to that sort of nonsense, for the sake of the good of the country, and even at the cost of their own partisan advantage. I don't know whether Biden is that adult, and probably he isn't, but I do know that Trump is the very opposite -- an incendiary without any hint of scruple or self-control. If you're going to use the term "fake news" unironically, you should at least apply the same sort of scrutiny to whatever your own sources of information happen to be. Tangentially, whoever decided (and continues to decide) to append -gate to whatever scandal of the moment should be tarred and quartered. Or is it drawn and feathered? Hell, all of it, just to be sure. I'm sure we agree that critical race theory is the devil. I'll count this as a point in Trump's favor, with some reservation, in part because I'm also concerned about his support for some kind of "patriotic education." I mean, I have him quoted (in Time) as saying, "Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their soul." That doesn't stir some fascist echo to your hearing? Of course, perhaps the fault lies in the government's involvement with education, as such (and perhaps with some of those employees and contractors), but my broader point is that Trump isn't interested in liberty or any notion of "hands off." He's fully hands on -- no pussy-grabbing pun intended -- so long as the hands are his own, so long as he is the one in charge. If the government wasn't involved with education at all, or "indoctrination" on whatever level, I'm certain Trump would wish it to be, would push for it to be, because his end is power. No principle, no credo, no ideology other than that. It's just about him and his power. I'm sure it's enough. If one wished to make a bullet-point-style list of the deficiencies in Trump and his administration, how many pages do you suppose that would span? Of course you're right, on all counts. I was trying to be as generous as I could. I mean, it's not wrong that the left poses a real threat or several -- truly we seek to pass through Scylla and Charybdis -- but somehow there are Objectivists who continually lose sight of the dangers on the right, and it's maddening.
  14. I don't see the slightest appeal to Donald Trump. He's an anti-intellectual con-artist. And when I say "con-artist," I'm almost giving him too much credit; I don't see how he can "fool" anyone who isn't already complicit in his scams, if subconsciously. He's openly contemptuous of, among other things, the rule of law and democracy. He has undermined our institutions and our norms. He has no respect for any notion of "liberty" that we would recognize, nor for any other constraint on either his power or his personal ambition (the former is almost exclusively important to him as a means to the latter): he thinks nothing of using the law to advance his own interests and punish his perceived adversaries, or flouting the law for the same reasons. He is openly admiring of authoritarians and authoritarianism because that is what he wishes for himself. He is, at heart, at tyrant. Biden is almost immaterial to the equation, except insofar as he is not Trump. He is the average and the ordinary, and while none of that is particularly good from my perspective, Trump shares every flaw and then goes further, does more, to damage rights and freedoms and undermine the office of the Presidency and our standing in the world. The communist takeover people fear from the left is a remote boogeyman that might be imaginable under other circumstances, or in the future (though it has nothing to do with a Biden administration, imo), but the danger that Trump represents is real, is imminent, is ongoing. If he is voted out of office, I'm not yet convinced that we will have avoided it.
  15. You're talking past everything I actually say, to argue against something I have not said. It is supremely frustrating. While I could engage on you whether Christianity is somehow a "religion of peace" (despite all of its history), better or worse than Islam in that or any other respect, I fear that I could not expect any better behavior in that conversation -- or even for you to agree that it is itself a tangential distraction from the matter we had initially been discussing. You paid me a compliment in another thread, but the far better compliment would be to repay my efforts with honesty.
  16. No, those things aren't the "same." And blowing up an abortion clinic isn't the same as "speaking in tongues," either. Or cross burnings (note... literal fire). Or sectarian violence in Ireland, or elsewhere. Since its inception and continuing to present day, Christianity has plenty of blood on its hands; and while mainstream Christianity currently disavows most of that (just as there are Muslims who disavow terrorism and extremism, and wish to banish those things further to the fringe), the root of Christianity is just as anti-reason and anti-life as Islam. It is only less fully implemented at the moment, thankfully being more successfully hampered by other Western traditions -- many of which emerged fighting against the abuses of Christianity, rather than to the religion's credit. The evangelicals themselves can be just as nuts as anyone else, and woe betide us if they ever feel empowered in their influence to move beyond converting homosexuals, deranging science curricula, and destroying the reasoning ability, self esteem and morality of countless generations. Christianity, which is one of the world's enduring curses, hardly needs the defense and support of Objectivists -- and if the point you're making is, "but it doesn't produce as many high-profile suicide bombers as Islam, at the moment," I think it's time you ask yourself precisely what distinction you're attempting to draw. Yes, "shadow grey" is a somewhat lighter shade of grey than "charcoal grey" (or so my cursory search reveals). Granted. But they're both still grey. They're neither white, nor close to it. They still both belong fully on the list of "shades of grey," just as Islam and Christianity belong equally on the list of "irrational philosophies which pervert minds and poison society" (let alone "proselytizing groups successful at spreading irreason," which was the actual context of their initial mention). Besides all of which, the second half of the sentence you've quoted reads: "whom our current Western evangelists would more and more closely resemble, if they ever again got a whiff of real power." This seems to acknowledge the fact that, no these two groups aren't identical today -- there is indeed a difference -- while maintaining that there is still a reason to regard them together, because they share a fundamental irrationality. It doesn't answer for everything, but when you find yourself responding to an argument, not in its central contention, but to an isolated sentence (or further, a snipped portion of a sentence), it's worth further consideration as to whether you're contributing to an earnest exchange of ideas, or something else.
  17. You mean to tell me that, because I recognize the problems with, for instance, Islam, I cannot also identify the problems in Christianity? Because the world lumps itself into "left" versus "right," I must pick a side -- for pragmatic reasons -- and thereafter only find the faults in my supposed opponent? If that's the thrust of your response, I strongly disagree. There is irrationality all around, I'm afraid, and on every side. If we mean to advocate a philosophy of reason, then we must identify that fact without hesitation. Evangelists absolutely belong with, for instance, the jihadists -- whom our current Western evangelists would more and more closely resemble, if they ever again got a whiff of real power. In fact, with respect to some socialists*, I would say that the faults of evangelism are typically graver as they represent an earlier/more fundamental breach with reality. There are some socialists who broadly accept "reason" as a governing epistemological principle, and then incorrectly believe that socialism itself is the reasonable means to govern, or effect justice. They're wrong, and that error has grave implications and must be addressed, but it is worse to deny reason itself -- which, obviously, can itself have dire consequences politically, even if someone claims to be an advocate for "capitalism." (* I say "some socialists," because there are, obviously, many other socialists who also reject reason explicitly... and there are even some special folk who are both "evangelist" and "socialist.") That said, it's true that we might sometimes make common cause with some given individual or group to achieve some specific end or narrow range of goals. I agree that that's in the nature of politics, and it might sometimes involve some temporary and delimited agreement with the "right" (to the extent that they support a "pro-business" agenda, for instance; so long as their "pro-business" ideas are not, themselves, "class warfare" waged from the other side) and it might sometimes involve some temporary and delimited agreement with the "left" (e.g. to support marijuana legalization or the de-criminalization of sex work). In every election, ultimately, a ballot must be cast: and I've seen you stump for Trump, which I'll allow so long as you understand that -- as an American citizen who has to live with him as my president, my representative in the world -- I would rather vote for a cheese sandwich. But none of that ever means that we stop recognizing the faults of those with whom we make such common cause, or that they get a "pass." Because I recognize the dangers of Antifa, that doesn't make me conservative or "alt-right," any more than recognizing the problems with the Proud Boys suggests that I should throw a brick through a Starbucks window. I will only ever find "common ground" with the "left" or the "right" to the extent that I believe they're actually correct on any given issue, and that is the full extent of my participation, my consent, my sanction. I will not join their teams. I will not play their game.
  18. It's interesting to consider where you would be or I would be, had not Rand felt the need for "activism" -- the spreading of her ideas which required her to work in fiction, research other thinkers, craft arguments, form an institute, engage with others (often hostile), and so on. Whatever Rand may have thought about art and didacticism, I'd dare say that activism describes her life's work. She meant to change the world by changing the minds of others, and she put a lot of effort into making that happen. And perhaps you might think that misses the point -- that Rand had no need to act in your interest or my own, but only in her own interest. But why do we take it that Rand's activism wasn't in her selfish interest, or that she did not judge it so? How is an individual's interest not generally served in working to help others to find truth and reason? You're right that life isn't about preaching to others... but preaching to others might well be an important part of one's life. So while I agree that there's a limit, in reason, to trying to drag the recalcitrant from their errors, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater: we shouldn't abandon efforts to spread good ideas in the culture, or to fight against the bad ones. And we might consider whether and how we might do so even more effectively. People have the capacity for reason, and I believe that most people will tend to respond to a good argument, all else being equal. Argument itself is something of a science and something of an art, and it has to be learned and worked on and continually revised in the face of failure and opposition -- and I believe that there's a lot of frustration in the Objectivist community because, perhaps implicitly, we believe that The One True Argument has already been made, one size fits all, done and dusted. But no, the work of spreading these ideas has only just begun -- if I can even fairly describe it as having been "begun." The ideological battle you reference is real, and I fear we are losing it, in part because we are too often content to surrender the battlefield without a fight. To act as though we shouldn't need to show up in the first place, as though any ideological movement in the history of mankind has ever spread without people actively working to make that happen. Do you know who doesn't share that notion (both literally and its tenor more broadly)? The evangelists, the socialists, the jihadists, among many others. And because they commit themselves wholeheartedly to spreading their ideas, and to finding the most effective means for so doing, they typically succeed in spreading them far better than we do. Unfortunately, their ideas are poisonous for society, and unfortunately for us, we live in society and tend to suffer directly when that poison spreads. If it were the case that a man could simply say, "Well, that's none of my responsibility; I'll leave them to it and enjoy my life unimpaired," and retreat to Galt's Gulch, I'd say more power to him. But I don't believe that he can enjoy his life unimpaired. I don't believe that Galt's Gulch exists outside of Atlas Shrugged, and if it did, I don't think it would be allowed to last. I believe that the condition of the world has a direct bearing on our individuals lives, and so yes, we must take some measure of responsibility for addressing that condition -- not out of altruism, but selfishly, so we can live.
  19. Paraphrasing a quote here, Rand saw herself as primarily a proponent, not of capitalism, but egoism... and not primarily egoism, but reason. I approach my friendships and other relations the same sort of way: I seek people who are fundamentally reasonable. Your mileage may vary, but I've found people who demonstrate varying degrees of reason in every walk of life, and subscribing to most every sort of view -- at the very least, nominally. At the same time, I have met people whose stated beliefs I judge as correct, yet they are not very reasonable in their dealings, in their lives -- and they don't make for great friends. This fundamental orientation to reason can show up in many ways, from hobbies and activities, to career pursuits and romantic involvements, discussions/arguments and so forth. The more reasonable they are, in this basic sense, the more apt we are to get along... even where and when we disagree. The people who are less fundamentally reasonable, though we may agree on everything else (howsoever superficially), the smallest disagreement could wind up being an unmanageable obstacle. Consequently, I've maintained friends among Christians, Hindus, Atheists, Buddhists, and politically on the left, right and in the "middle." The more zealous socialists I've known can be trying, at times, and not least because -- to the extent they adhere to their own professed beliefs -- they often feel required not to be friends with someone who believes as I do. Yet even with one or two of these, I have found that I can identify sufficiently with their virtues to overcome other deficits (like intelligence and taking ideas seriously). My closest friend in the world (apart from my wife) is a Methodist. He's sincere in his religious beliefs, but not very dogmatic. We made peace about our diverging views very long ago, and though we still argue them from time to time in one form or another, we understand that our bonds are based on fundamental things that, perhaps, aren't completely captured or expressed in our stated philosophies. We do not fear disagreement.
  20. That people put this incident in a racial context is not a failure of objectivity; it's trying to interpret events in the "widest possible context." No, it's not necessarily the case that the officer in this incident was motivated by racism. It can often be hard to determine other peoples' motivations with precision, given the internal nature of consciousness*. But when you examine the history of the United States, specifically with respect to race relations, and modern policing, and any number of these incidents of police brutality, then a pattern emerges. It is not a failure of rationality to recognize such a thing (though it is arguably a failure to be unable to do so, or unwilling). While justice requires that we treat individuals as individuals, and while, as agreed above, the officer in this case is not necessarily racially prejudiced (and will have his day in court), neither is it wrong to see this pattern of behavior over time or to interpret new information accordingly. (* Although, given the notion of "structural racism" it is not always necessary for an individual actor to himself be racist to yet act in a racist manner -- according to the "structure" of the system in which he participates. Or at least, so the logic of that argument goes.) Yes, if this were a black police officer and a white suspect, it may well have provoked a different reaction. White people were not widely enslaved for hundreds of years in this country, subject to discriminatory law, and not the focus of the broad suite of racist ideology that grew up around supporting those institutions, and which infiltrated the general culture. If you look at the scenarios "white officer/black suspect" and "black officer/white suspect" devoid of this larger historical and sociological context, then yes, there oughtn't be much to further distinguish them. But what do we stand to gain by forgetting or pretending not to know what we do, in fact, know? We should strive rather to widen our context, to see events not merely in themselves, isolated and discrete, but as a part of a larger current, when and where applicable. Mistakes of interpretation can be made, given such a process, but as the incidents of police brutality continue to pile up, and as this is rather to be expected given the history from which we all proceed, I think it becomes harder and harder to argue that there isn't a broad and persistent problem here -- even if some specific incident fails to qualify, or does not withstand further scrutiny. It is not rational to insist that, because only trees exist metaphysically, that we may therefore never describe a "forest."
  21. Yes. I agree with you that there is no "predetermination," and that many individuals have risen above their surroundings, background, environment, and so forth. However, as you indicate, we are also "influenced" by what is around us, and sometimes heavily so. (Which is in part why it is important for us to work to reshape the culture. Culture is powerful.) It is tricky to work out the meaning and extent of this "influence," such that we are still recognizably moral actors and do not succumb to some form of predestination. I won't pretend to have anything like a precise formula worked out for this, but I've sometimes looked at this like... there's certain limits, to a greater or lesser extent. And then, within those limits, man makes choices. And then, men fall on some range of introspective power, or power to radically reassess one's own premises, or philosophical inclination. I don't know why exactly, but I think that the vast majority of people -- in every place, at every time -- more or less go along with the current, and with what they have been told. Their range, their "limits," are relatively narrow... yet within those limits, there is still crucial distinction, and difference, and morality. You know, if we'd had some analog to this message board hundreds of years ago -- perhaps imagining us back to the High Middle Ages, or to the Carolingian Empire -- I doubt we would all be having the same conversations, making the same arguments. To hear some Objectivists talk, it's like none of us ever needed Ayn Rand to see our way to these precise beliefs (reading her "only confirmed what we already believed"; she just "put into words what we already knew"); but no, I think she was a singular genius. I think, in a pre-Rand world, we might all be discussing something that was out of step with our time, perhaps, maybe/hopefully a bit more reasoned than the norm, a bit more nuanced, but it would not surprise me if the general context for our hypothetical Medieval conversation was still, say, soundly within the Christian tradition. It's not that we would have been "destined" to be Christian, or anything like that, but just that the act of rejecting all of that (and especially without all of the steps carved into rational inquiry, one at a time, by the great thinkers) would have been too great, too much, for any one of us to manage. Or maybe I assume too much? Maybe here, now, there is another generational thinker? And maybe one of us can run a four minute mile, too, yet it remains a feat, and a rarity, and nothing I expect to find in my daily dealings. And so, I don't think anyone is destined or doomed to buy into identity politics -- even when they are so powerfully ascendant in our cultural and educational systems as today. But the act of rejecting all of it in one fell swoop... I just don't know if that's a reasonable expectation to hold for the vast majority of people. And so the question I have of "staging" is whether it can help to lead more people in a positive direction, to remake culture and education over time so that, eventually, those forces can work with our individualist ideology rather than against it. Right, so here's where the rubber meets the road. And to a great extent, my instinct is to agree with you (and by that, I also include arguments that I would personally have made even up to a few months ago, or a few weeks). It's just that... I don't think our approach is winning the day; I think that the facts, the results, are such, that its time we reexamine our tactics. (And maybe we reexamine them and determine that they're fine, they're not at issue, and the real problems lay beyond our grasp. It's certainly possible. But I think we need to have the conversation, and entertain the idea that we are also making some kind of mistake, because the world appears to me to be moving quickly in the wrong direction.) It's like, take the idea of "gay pride." Setting aside Objectivism's sometimes tricky relationship with homosexuality in itself, I would normally say that sexual attraction is not something that one should feel pride in: insofar as we regard sexual attraction to be unchosen, what in the world is there to be proud of? Yet -- and this is my question of "staging" -- is it possible that the most of the queer population needs something like "pride" as a psychological counterbalance against the equally irrational, yet traditionally much stronger, cultural forces that insist they feel shame? That ideally this pride will function as a bridge, or as a stop gap, to lead to a future wherein the majority of people can more easily reject both such shame and pride as useless historical artifacts? Or to address the central matter directly, I think that ongoing controversies regarding racism (including the modern "race realism" debate which has even sometimes found support here on Objectivism Online, to my chagrin) are exacerbated by continued disparities in educational attainment, wealth, and etc., between the "races" (and I think it's true that even these modern disparities by and large owe their existence to the actual crimes of slavery, Jim Crow, and such; which is to say that they are the legacy of grievous evil, some of which is in the distant past, some in the near past, and some of which is ongoing). Rather than asserting individualism at first, might it be easier to try to address those broad disparities first, and then allow people to draw the resulting, easier-to-see conclusion that discrepancies in outcome are generally attributable to individual merit? To put it more bluntly, I think it possible that in a United States where blacks do just as well as whites, and where the sins of our past are more carefully buried, both sides of the racist coin will more easily wither away. And yes, I fear that I'm wrong, here, too. I'm sensitive to the idea that any of this "staging" is a tacit admission that there is any meaning, truth or importance in "race," and that it is right to treat people differently on that basis -- which is anathema to me, and utterly opposed to what I value and hope to achieve. Yet, as I say, I see the world on fire and it forces me to "check my premises." I cannot deny that people are being treated differently according to their race, often cruelly and violently, and sometimes fatally. That this is deeply rooted in our culture, and taught to our children as a matter of course. I think that arguing for individualism directly is not making sufficient headway; that we are losing this battle. As to the best way to respond to this situation, I'm no longer quite so certain.
  22. I agree with this. But I have a question, or a series of questions, that I guess coalesces kind of like this: do you think it's possible to move directly from our racist past (meaning things such as slavery, Jim Crow, etc.) to individualism? Or do you think that any "staging" is necessary, like "affirmative action" (which could be undertaken without governmental intervention; a private business owner could take such things into consideration, of his own accord)? And to be clear, I'm not asking by way of disagreeing with your or anything you've said -- this is a real question in my mind. I'm concerned that efforts to "stage," as I've described them, may actually retard the ascension of individualism... but I also am concerned that society at large cannot make the leap from point a to b without steps in between, and that we are currently bearing violent witness to that fact. Absolutely. On the other hand, what would it take for an individual to grow up in our society, given all of its baggage (and the fact that there is so much actual racism still extant) and not see themselves and others through such a racialized lens. If you're being judged by others and treated differently on the basis of your race, handled differently in the media, read of the history of "your kind," see evidence of being profiled by law enforcement, etc., how can a person see through that, clearly to individualism -- especially since a lot of this treatment will have started early, very early in life, before anything like philosophical awareness, and when a person is forming their sense of identity... and thereafter be reinforced by the community (parents, religion, etc.). I can imagine a hero who might do such a thing, or an unusual genius -- but over the last few years, I've grown wary of judging most individuals against the heroic efforts that I imagine they might ideally have employed. It's like, because Roger Bannister ran a four minute mile, that doesn't make everyone else "slow," if you understand my meaning.
  23. Disagree here. "Retaliatory force" is not sensibly distinguished from "force used in retaliation." There may be legitimate and illegitimate uses of retaliatory force, but "force used in retaliation" is, as grammar would seem to have it, "retaliatory force." And further, vigilantism may not be "legitimate" in the sense of legal, but it may yet be moral depending on context. Our sense of law and legal "legitimacy" comes from pre-legal/extra-legal understandings that retaliatory force may be morally proper, in a given situation. "Initiation of force masquerading as retaliation," is not, on the other hand, retaliatory force, by definition. I disagree that "right of retaliation" exists only in the "victim." If someone attacks my wife or my child, I reserve full right of redress/retaliation. Delegation of that to some other authority, like government, is often a fine strategy to better effect justice. But in some given context (like in a place where government's reach is poor or nonexistent, or where government is corrupt), I may have to act myself in the name of justice -- on their behalf. Or on the behalf of my friend or neighbor. Or on the behalf of someone I've never met. Ultimately, I receive an attack on an innocent anywhere as an attack against myself, insofar as I am likewise innocent of the initiation of the use of force. This is really where this "governmental power" comes from. There's no formal delegation or surrender of power, or of the "right of retaliation." But the idea of this "delegation" is a general acknowledgement that retaliatory force is proper, in certain situations, and need not be carried out by the victim (and may in fact be better served when not carried out by the victim). The use is "legitimated," thus, by virtue of being proper and correct -- by being a redress of wrongs against the guilty, in the name of the innocent. When the government acts improperly, it is illegitimate, and anything considered initially "delegated" may be taken back by the individual. I have no moral duty to surrender anything to government, or anyone else, if that does not actually serve my individual interests. When a police officer is kneeling on your neck, killing you in fact, you have no moral obligation to allow it. If you witness an officer doing this to another, you have no moral obligation to permit it -- and perhaps quite the opposite. Yet there are institutions, and we do recognize that they may be to blame for various crimes or actions -- do we not? This is how and why we recognize a street gang, or the mafia, for what it is, its criminal character, arising out of yet distinct from a particular accounting of the individual crimes of its members. And when we take down the mob, we take down the mob. It is clear to me that there is a failure at some point: in the present controversy (though how many others are there?), for instance, of the four officers present someone ought to have intervened; it should not be left to the civilians to tell the officers to relent, to let the man up as he's dying under their weight, and to be ignored. People are outraged rightly, because it is outrageous. As to where that failure lies...? Perhaps it is in initial screening, perhaps in training, perhaps it accounts in part to the individual... or likely, actually, it is all of these things -- the problems we're facing are many and deep, and yes: the institution itself is in part the initiator of force. I know that most Objectivists don't like speaking (or thinking?) in these terms, but I find it helpful to remember that US law initiates the use of force constantly and regularly against its own citizenry, and that the police are individuals who have signed up to assist in that effort. They commit themselves personally to using force against innocents on a routine basis; this is how they make their livelihoods. They have opted in, and they continue to make this choice, again and again. It should not be a surprise that there are "bad apples" among the bunch. Actually, it should be surprising to find someone moral in such a role -- and I have long believed that the truly moral would not be able to stomach such a thing for very long. The most committed to truth and justice, to fighting against the evil in society, would be the first to be sickened and enervated by the reality of his situation. I don't think he could last. But you should ponder why persons arrive at their conclusions, at length and to the best of your ability: if you mean to do something, anything to benefit society, then understanding other people is essential. In any event, the correct conclusion is, in part, that our policing needs to be overhauled. The culture of silence and mutual protectionism must be dismantled, and measures need to be installed to give greater civilian oversight and transparency. We should work to demilitarize (which includes a change in law and priority, too, like ending the "war on drugs") and de-escalate, so that the police can work with their communities again, instead of as an occupying force. We must commit ourselves to rooting out the remnants of racism and other cultural detritus, and upholding personal accountability so that no one may act with impunity (from the President down). Until these sorts of fundamental changes are begun, we can expect these same essential results, again and again and again.
  24. Not to agree or disagree more broadly about this particular act of mob violence, but you're looking at "retaliation" wrong here. The thing that makes for retaliation is not that it is the individual who has had force used against them, replying in kind. If you look at the most widely agreed-upon uses of "retaliatory force" -- namely, law enforcement itself, I think this should be plain to see: When the judge sentences a murderer to jail, that judge was not necessarily there at the time of the attack; neither he, nor the arresting officer, nor the jailer, have been themselves attacked. Yet their use of force is retaliatory. I think it's arguable at the least that police training and culture have contributed to these sorts of outcomes; that there are "systemic" and "institutional" problems manifesting themselves, beyond the mere choices of one (or four) bad actors. I agree with you that what the protestors did in setting fire to the police station is wrong (and of course, illegal). Whether or not it was "retaliatory" in nature is less clear to me. Things are complex in modern society. Given that there are laws which, themselves, initiate the use of force against the innocent, and given that the police routinely enforce those laws, it has long been unclear to me as to how one assesses that morally. I don't think carte blanche resistance or retaliation is moral, but at the same time, I don't think it's right for a police officer to kneel on someone's neck for minutes at a time, let alone in the circumstances in the Floyd video. If I saw an officer treating a loved one in such a fashion, I would fight back. There are further problems in our culture that have deep roots and are subtle and insidious, and though "racism" has become such a fraught term, and often employed unjustly, it has to be remembered that racism does exist and has had a powerful influence on our country's history. I understand why people could look at a video like that and see it in that context, and come to consider the police "the enemy."
  25. I'm going to leave alone re: "analogy" for the moment. There seems to be something missing from your final sentence here, so I'm not entirely certain I understand your point. Regardless, we aren't discussing "epistemic standards," we are discussing the initiation of the use of force. Whether you believe you're comparing some aspect of law enforcement to something found in science, or otherwise relating them in a... somehow non-analogous fashion, you're not addressing the matter at hand. What we're discussing does not apply to science and its "investigation of the unknown." (Unless scientists are stopping people at the border to study them; or unless the objects of scientific inquiry, say photons, have been assigned individual rights.) I acknowledge fallibility. Whatever standards we devise will be subject to fallibility. Yet it is not the case that we only use force when we believe we have determined an individual to be guilty of some crime, howsoever we might be mistaken -- rather, we employ force against those whom we acknowledge may well be innocent, and on that point we are as yet indeterminate. We recognize this informally when we say that someone is "innocent until proven guilty," but formally we have a process wherein we determine the guilt of individuals... after we have employed force against them! This is to say, we recognize that some of the people we "suspect" or charge for crimes will be found not guilty, will in fact be innocent: this is why we have a trial. That we use force against people we later determine to have been innocent is not an "error"; it is the very system itself, functioning precisely as designed. This is why I contrasted it against the notion that we could try people first, before employing force against only those found guilty. You've dismissed this and refused to consider it and strawmanned it (as it has nothing whatever to do with infallibility), but I don't see why, or why you would prefer warrants and "probable cause." Why do you prefer that? But table that for a moment. Let me bring the parenthetical from my quote to the fore: "And furthermore being 'somehow involved with a crime' does not make you criminal. There are plenty of people involved with a crime who did not themselves commit any crime -- and these people are often subject to the use of force, as in the case of a subpoena. Yet they have not initiated the use of force." Suppose a man suspected of stealing... a necklace. Let us say that, prior to his arrest, he was spotted entering a bank and leaving a short while later. An interview with the clerk turns up that the suspected thief rents a safe deposit box at the bank. Consulting with the district attorney's office, the police determine that it will be hard to prove any theft in court without being able to show that the thief wound up in possession of the necklace. So, the police would like to inspect the suspect's safe deposit box... but the bank refuses to cooperate; they do not wish to violate their customers' privacy. Would you have the police seek a warrant/use of force against the bank? If so, how would you characterize this? I do not have to look at literally every single person crossing the border to be sure that law enforcement can do their job; that is law enforcement doing their job. Gaining this information -- as for instance, whether anyone in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States has a warrant out for their arrest -- is part and parcel to law enforcement. I don't know whether this would serve to muck things up further, or cut to the chase, but imagine that we had the technology to scan the face of the planet such that law enforcement could know with precision who everyone is and where everyone is, at all times, along with all relevant, associated criminal data. (And let us stipulate that this has no other byproduct; that the scan itself is utterly harmless and unintrusive.) Given that all other law upholds and protects individual rights the world over, what would you make of such a scan? Is that a marvelous technology that would help us to better protect individual rights? Is it, in and of itself, the violation of rights? Or something else?
  • Create New...