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Everything posted by DonAthos

  1. I'm uncertain about the phrase "denial of essential humanity." Further, regarding skin color as an "irrelevant characteristic" seems to be begging the question in a certain sense, although I would bet that most modern racists would agree that skin color is, itself, "irrelevant"; I expect that they would say that it isn't so much the color of the skin, as it is what they associate with the skin color. While I would agree that it is important to note how this impacts "rights," I don't agree that racism is purely a political phenomenon. I don't think that believing that "redheads have more of a temper" is racist, as redheads aren't normally considered a "race," but I would say that it is a form of prejudice. Of course no one has the "right" to force anyone else to a date, or anything else; so again, I have to note that my conception of prejudice (whether "racism" or "sexism" or, here, uhm... "hair color-ism") is not strictly political. I agree that holding such prejudices and acting upon them would be stupid of you, in denying yourself benefits, and thus immoral; but I would also continue to describe it as prejudiced behavior -- and say that it "deserves" to be recognized and described (and treated) as such, accordingly. If someone believes that black people are awful by nature, and refuses to let them into his restaurant, then I would be comfortable describing both the belief and the behavior as "racist." In a culture where such beliefs and behaviors are typical or common or acceptable, I would also expect to see an erosion of rights (or differential political treatment) -- but as I say, I don't consider that development necessary to recognize racism or prejudice more generally. It is racist to ask Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person whether the bus is a public or private concern, and the root of that decision remains the same, as well. We don't need separate concepts to describe the same phenomenon. I don't know about "equally evil"; is the man who refuses to serve black people in his restaurant "equally evil" to Adolf Hitler, or to a KKK Grand Wizard or something? No. But that's not what I'm saying when I say that the whites-only restaurateur is racist. We can draw appropriate distinctions while also recognizing appropriate similarities (which is "lumping together both sorts of people" in some respects, yet not others). This is true, too (not that they enable the "true racists" -- the racist restaurateur is as "truly racist" as anyone else -- but that they enable those who would do worse), but again, I do not consider it essential.
  2. Where do you find me saying that people must respond to nonsense? I'm saying that I find the choices people make -- whether to respond or remain silent, in this context -- meaningful. It helps to inform me as to their character. You're responding to me, so I don't know whether you are also referring to me, but I don't think I've accused anyone of burning crosses. Yet I believe that there is racism on display in this thread nonetheless. If that identification amounts to a "condemnation," well, make the most of it, I suppose, though I would not describe myself as having "condemned" anybody. If I finally choose to condemn you or anyone else, I expect you'll know it. Again, I don't know whether you consider yourself to be responding to me, or anything I've said, but I'd like to believe that I have demonstrated the sort of "benevolence" you're describing. And yet I'm discussing the ideas that have been raised in this thread -- would you like to discuss those ideas as well, or shall we continue to talk around them (so as to avoid "getting dirty")? I would not sleep on the idea of "social or political significance," either. Or do we believe that Carts' ideas on race and intelligence (as well as other characteristics) have nothing to do with his position on immigration, or his seeming backhanded support for white nationalism?
  3. I don't think this is a question of mere benevolence, but even sanction. Maybe it's not the intention, but I read much of the silence in this thread as tacit endorsement. It's amazing to watch.
  4. Despite the fact that it's what sparked this thread, I think that the "it's okay to be white" meme is nearly the least important thing here. There is an explicit claim to white racial superiority, and I find the lack of response to that from many thread participants almost as meaningful as the claim itself. That said, regarding the meme -- it's true that it's okay to be white (or any other shade of color). If that was the only thing in contention, then I expect everyone here would be on the same page, because the reasonable way of understanding it is that skin color doesn't matter to one's individual character, and thus any anti-white propaganda (and it's out there) is wrong. But you're 100% correct that these things have a context, and that we must consider the context. For instance, if there was going to be an "it's okay to be white" rally -- who do we think would show up to it? Are those the people we want to be marching with? And if we adopt the same slogans, will we be identified with them?
  5. Disease gets no particular pass from me with respect to metaphysical versus man-made (rates of spread of malaria, AIDS, and etc., have much to do with human choice). I think this accounts to the relevant regional histories, and ultimately (as we both believe in volition), to individual decision-making -- although when we're looking at large enough populations, which will encompass a range of people who focus to some greater or lesser extent, I think it's meaningful to discuss "environmental factors." You know, it's up to an individual to think or not to think, but when (Asian) Indians are routinely brought up in Hindu households, for instance, it's not surprising to find large numbers of Indians who turn out to be Hindu; the specific environment plays a role in that statistical outcome. If we wanted to look at the reasons for the success of Taiwan, Japan or South Korea -- well, that would be a huge topic (or, more likely, three huge topics). If the idea is that it is the inherent virtue of their race winning out, I simply must flatly disagree. If the supposition is that, well, there's a genetic component to this -- I don't see any reason why we should agree to any such thing, or even suppose it initially. And seeming objections to the position (including the existence of North Korea, the none-too-distant history of Japan, etc.) come quickly to mind. Yeah, I don't suppose it would go over well (and given that I've maintained you've said as much in other words, I sorta don't think it has). But I would still prefer for people to say what they mean. And frankly I think it's a better look than trying to talk around one's central thesis. As for "it's okay to be white," I wasn't initially familiar with the subject of this thread (and now I'm only passing familiar), but I gather that this meme was meant to stoke the identity politics shitstorm we apparently can't see our way out of. So my initial reaction is, I don't like it. Communication as much as anything else takes place in a context. I can appeal to the fact that the swastika has its origins in Eastern spirituality all I'd like, but if I draw one on my clothes, or tattoo it on my forehead, I should be aware that I'm communicating a message that will be received poorly. That said, are there anti-white sentiments out there? Absolutely. And those are garbage, too, and no individual should accept any guilt for things he has not personally done, nor accept any supposed limitations accounting to his "race." That goes for black or white or anything else. I agree that there are big differences between Africa and the United States, but both regions have specific histories which can help to explain differing results among their respective populations. You believe so? I'm not going to argue the point right now (perhaps someone else will feel up to it, perhaps not), but I think it's... quite the claim. I'm going to leave this here, and thank you for the discussion. It helps me to further contextualize recent discussions about immigration, the Confederate statue controversy, Donald Trump, and etc. It is apparent that there's quite the divide within the Objectivist community over these sorts of issues. I'm frankly a little bit worried by the whole thing, but I still think it's better that we say what we believe openly, even in conflict -- because sunlight, as the saying goes, is the best disinfectant.
  6. I haven't yet listened to the interview you've provided and I don't know when or if I will be able to, but just to mention, I don't consider support for affirmative action and racism to be mutually exclusive; rather, I consider affirmative action itself to be racist. But these sorts of measures are equally as susceptible to the sorts of environmental factors we've discussed as any IQ test. If the problem (or part of it) we find in rates of patent application, for instance, is attributable to literacy rates, or diet, or the general state of education (or disease, or warfare, or etc., etc.), then we're agreed that these are problems; but it isn't the same as the claim you've also made, which is that blacks are genetically intellectually inferior -- and I wish that you would stop running from this claim by trying to conflate it with other variables. Illiteracy can be a problem for blacks or whites, but that isn't what we're discussing. It seems instead to be the motte for your bailey. Close. I'm saying that if environmental factors can account for the differences we observe (in IQ tests, etc.) -- and I think that they can -- then we do not need to suppose unproven genetic factors (especially contra the work of evolutionary biologists like Gould). If sunlight and water suffice to explain the blooming flower, we do not need to invoke fairies. The potential environmental factors at work are myriad, are legion, and I don't know how we would correct "for every known environmental factor" even if we could look at human populations in laboratory conditions, which we cannot. Suppose for a moment that blacks are generally treated differently than whites in the US, and that (broadly) this has an effect on self-esteem; don't you think that's the sort of thing which might show up in statistic measures of success down the line, including high school dropout rates and etc.? We should note that this does not take into account any individual's efforts to rise above his circumstances, but if we're looking at populations with significant discrepancies in their initial context, I would not be surprised to find those patterns hold with respect to statistical measures of the general population over time.
  7. Forgive me if I don't go point-by-point; the conversation seems to be spiraling out of control and I have limited time, at present. (If I fail to address something specific that needs response, please bring it to my attention.) This Wikipedia article deals with the issue of (as the page is titled) "Race and intelligence." Based on the summary, it appears that the consensus is that there is, as yet, no consensus. I don't know how much more deeply I can discuss IQ tests and their relationship to intelligence, except to say that although I tend to do well when taking such tests, I've never been inclined to put much stock in them. This is not alone my deference to the opinions of a man like Gould -- although I do tend to defer to him on biological and related matters, given his expertise and erudition -- but also because I feel naively skeptical as to the relationship between the kinds of things IQ tests (and similar) test for, and what I generally consider to be intelligence. I don't doubt that these kinds of tests test for something, and that this has some relationship with intelligence (or a kind of intelligence), but I am not convinced that these tests measure intelligence, as such (and/or further that there is no relationship between one's environment, or learning, and success at these tests). Regarding man's evolutionary history, Gould says, "there just hasn't been time for the development of much genetic variation [between races] except that which regulates some very superficial features like skin color and hair form." Again, I defer to him on this subject because this is his subject of expertise, and far from my own. It's possible that he's wrong, but I'm not currently in the position to make such a judgement. And if it is the case that there are (equivalent) experts in disagreement on these points, then I may have to refrain from taking a side until I know more, or until the science is better settled. I can report that in my own life, I've had what I consider to be sufficient evidence that blacks are just as capable of whites -- at the least, on an individual level, which I know you've conceded elsewhere. If there remain significant testing discrepancies between populations, then it seems to me that there are a plethora of other ("environmental") factors that can account for them. If those environmental factors are sufficient to account for our results (and I believe that they are), then I see no call to introduce additional, unsubstantiated (genetic) factors. In any event, I continue to find ridiculous the suggestion that "many Africans simply are unable to grasp concepts like capitalism," which suggests to me not alone some discrepancy in education or diet, but nearly a sub-human categorization. You may protest that this isn't your meaning, but that's the meaning I find in what you've said throughout this thread, and it's what I believe you to believe.
  8. Diamond's project is to look for trends in explaining large events in world history, much of it ancient or absent written record. I'm sure he doesn't discount volition on a personal, individual level (and in fact I seem to remember him saying so explicitly in one of his books, and acknowledging its power to shape history) -- but most of what he's trying to account for in Guns, Germs and Steel (as well as Collapse, which I also recommend) does not seem directly accountable to individual decision making (insofar as we have any means of determining individual actors and their decisions). For instance, looking at the specific kinds of large animals available to the populations of Australia versus South America versus Europe (pre-contact), and how that generally affected diet, disease, agriculture, technology, and etc. People are not "prejudging" you as anything. We are looking at your statements and making judgements as to what you believe, based on what you say. That's the opposite of prejudice. And it's true that we might have you wrong -- judgements can be mistaken -- though based on what you've said thus far, I continue to believe that "race realist" fits. You're qualifying the idea that "race realism is bankrupt." This is because you think that race realism is valid in some other context, yes? I mean, your point is that Africa lags behind other areas in the world because its (black) population is by nature (i.e. genetically) intellectually inferior. I know you're saying that there are other factors at play, including diet and education, and that's fine (it's fairly uncontroversial that diet and education in Africa is poor compared to Europe and most of the rest of the world), but let's not shy away from the other thing you're saying, which is that you believe that the white race is intellectually superior to the black race. Right? If I really have your meaning wrong, this is the place to correct me. But let's not dither about individuals, or whatever, or leave it as some sort of fill-in-the-blank Socratic exchange, just please say what you believe in a straightforward manner.
  9. Rather, it is like you're making an argument that, because cigarette smoking is a health risk, it should be outlawed. And I'm pointing out that if you're outlawing things on the basis of their risk to health, then it seems to follow that eating should be regulated, because poor eating is equally a health risk. That's not central to my argument regarding immigration, though -- as you're aware, my argument has to do with individual rights -- but I do find it interesting to note how the anti-immigration contingent seems either not to understand what the consistent application of their arguments would do to other positions that Objectivists typically hold, or not to care.
  10. This is "race realism," yes? (Or as Wiki has it, "scientific racism.") I'm not the person to go into IQ studies, lacking both the expertise and knowledge to discuss them fairly; if I recall correctly, Stephen Jay Gould didn't put much stock into this sort of thing, and thus far in my life, that's good enough for me. While I'd agree that many people in the world have not been educated well on this subject, or many others, I reject utterly the notion that Africans (of their nature) are unable to grasp concepts like Capitalism. You're making a ton of claims, and a serious undertaking of any of them would probably be its own thread. I don't want to get bogged down in the economic histories of Japan or Russia, for instance (though if we were to consider them, I guess we would have to wonder, if capitalism is plainly superior to alternatives, why Japan persisted in its "tribalist" ways until being forced to change... and why Russia kept its serfs for so long, and then instituted Bolshevism; these particular histories seem to account to far more than some simple notion of racial IQ). Though I alluded to it earlier, I'd again like to mention Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel as being a very well-researched and intelligent presentation as to why Africa (and elsewhere) had generally different rates of development as against Europe. We don't need to resort to dividing people up by race to explain the current problems in Africa -- and problems in understanding and implementing Capitalism are thus far ubiquitous. But just so we're clear -- and not to use this as a weapon, or to shut down anyone's arguments, just as a matter of identification -- you realize that you're advocating for racism, right?
  11. My initial response is that such a question -- and the answer it invites -- is extraordinarily complex. (Though perhaps Jared Diamond has gone some distance towards answering it in part...) But it sounds to me like you have some idea of a simpler answer in mind. Do you? Presumably you don't account this to skin color, so why, in your opinion, did the Enlightenment take place in Europe and not Africa? I think this proposition is debatable at least. (There is a reason why C:UI is titled as it is.)
  12. So, most recently we've had the massacre in Sutherland Springs. I expect that, had this been the work of an immigrant (or a Muslim of any nationality/origin), Objectivism Online would by now have a thread dedicated to it. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, Devin Kelley did not shout "Allahu Akbar," and ISIS has not yet taken credit for this tragedy. Perhaps this will change as we learn more. But in the meantime, I wonder whether those who propose to curb immigration, in order to stop events like the one in New York, have similar proposals in mind to prevent another Las Vegas or Sutherland Springs...?
  13. There's a lot of conversation in this thread, and I might not have time for it all, at present, but I wanted to pull this out for response. I find it fascinating. The question of desert, I think, can be evaluated in two different ways: 1) Relating to cause and effect. We may say of a person that, if he has not done the things which in reality will lead to happiness, he does not "deserve" to be happy. And this sense is true enough; a person who does not "deserve happiness," because he has not done the things which his nature requires to achieve happiness, will not experience it (even if he has convinced himself that some other, ersatz emotion is "happiness"). 2) The second is something else. It is ostensibly an appeal to morality -- but which morality, and according to whose standard? If a man has done the things which his nature requires to achieve happiness, in reality, and thus experiences happiness... on what grounds could we say that he does not "deserve" it? Because perhaps he has done something bad in his past? Perhaps. But then, how could a man redeem himself sufficiently to be able to experience happiness thereafter; to what possible standard and judge could he appeal, apart from himself and his own natural capacity for happiness? Should a man, in any event, be capable of experiencing happiness... but tell himself, "I don't deserve this"? On what grounds? And what would that serve? I would say, rather, that every person in the world "deserves happiness," of their nature, of their capacity for happiness. And then it remains to discover the requirements of our nature, and to understand our context, such that we can achieve happiness for ourselves (in the "cause and effect" sense of desert described above). We require no further sanction than this, that we are ends in ourselves, and that our highest purpose is our own happiness.
  14. I believe in fighting terrorism through police and intelligence efforts. There may be a military component, too. Specific policy recommendations are probably best left to the experts, but philosophically what I have to say is that I can't support anything which violates individual rights. The question of "preventing events" runs a touch deeper than the mere retaliation of force, perhaps, and what I believe -- long term -- is that the only real solution is the proliferation of a philosophy of reason (inclusive of the argument for individual rights, which necessitates its strict observance). Beyond that, there will probably always be an element in the world which acts in this sort of manner, whether in Las Vegas or New York, via Trump supporter (as I have recently heard claimed of Paddock) or immigrant. As much as I would like to prevent every single murder, every single tragedy, I think that there exists no way to do so in reason, and that many proposals to prevent all such things will necessarily rely upon the violation of individual rights -- and thus cause greater tragedy overall if enacted.
  15. For whatever it's worth, I think it's fine to take seriously terrorism -- and to work to stop it -- even in a world that continues to suffer tetanus, et al. But any proposed methods to address terrorism which violate individual rights should be rejected, whether or not we believe we have other methods available to us.
  16. This is a breathtaking post. I've been struggling with how to respond to it appropriately, because I think that there is something in its self-reflective honesty and genuineness that should be more applauded than questioned or argued with. I think the sum of it argues for the great value of truth, even while proclaiming that there are truths which are a disvalue (or a single one), and if this is where Objectivist dialogue were headed -- with greater introspection, discussion and reporting of inner struggle (even, or especially, when it fails to present us as faultless paragons of reason) -- I believe that the community would benefit, as a whole, and each of us individually. As to the specific suggestion of Objectivist Deism, I don't know that I would be critical of the adoption of the single belief in an afterlife, as such -- if I thought it could be accomplished without doing greater overall damage to one's beliefs. Because it seems to me that the single belief will need something like a support structure, if it is truly to be integrated (such that one could say, in anything like an "honest" manner, "I believe this"). Though I believe myself capable of evasion (as humans are, of their nature), I don't believe myself capable of willing myself to a particular evasion; or if I'm capable of that, I don't know how to achieve it, and again, I don't know how I could achieve it in reality without doing greater damage overall to my capacity to think in an honest manner. Otherwise, it occurs to me that the atheist's longing for an afterlife, or other form of immorality, is sometimes addressed by "scientific" fantasies (to some greater or lesser extent), such as To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, or a terrific episode of Black Mirror (which shall remain nameless out of fear of spoiling the reader; and go watch Black Mirror, if you haven't already done). Personally, when I refer to myself as an atheist, I continue to mean what I did before reading Rand -- which is that I hold no proof for any sort of divinity or afterlife or etc., and consequently no belief in any such thing. I draw a distinction between this and holding proof positive that such things cannot exist; and while I have ruled out the "supernatural" as a category, there are any number of things which would be naturally plausible (if arbitrary for me to suppose, at present) which could serve nearly any function of what we typically expect out of such entities, including the creation of an "afterlife." If I were to be one day "resurrected" into some highly advanced alien's world, I should count myself surprised... but not for too long. And yet, I must report that my current happiness does not seem to depend upon such admittedly remote possibilities. I was never taught to dread death by my parents, thankfully, and it isn't the dread of death which motivates me now. There are some things which I consider to be "worse than death," and this includes living a life rendered sub-par through the dread of death, and some of the subsidiary effects you've mentioned (aversion to risk, etc). In some respects, the truth about death -- insofar as I can understand it -- has led me to want to embrace not just survival, not just life, but a "human life," with all that entails (including the fact of death; and in this context, it occurs to me to recommend Neil Gaiman's Sandman series). I have no plans to resent my condition when I'm 80 or 90 (and the nano-tech to keep me going indefinitely has not yet been approved by the FDA, lol). Rather, I expect to be buoyed by my memories of a life well lived, and the knowledge that I did the best that I could, given the circumstances I was in. When I die, I don't want to have "lost" in some struggle, in my final moments, but I hope to be able to view it (honestly) as a kind of summation. I wish to die well (and I do not hold this to be a contradiction). Sometimes I think that the Objectivist Ethics can lead one to see everything in terms of a progression: we accomplish A so that we may accomplish B, and B so that we may accomplish C, and so forth. Given that this ends in death -- in "zero" -- there is the danger for this recognition to retroactively rob every previous step along the way of its meaning. But the meaning is not to be found in the end. Insofar as "meaning" exists, it is in the moments along the way. And when I stress the role of "pleasure" in life, it is this: that a life is not merely a destination (always in the distance, always fleeting, and finally, suddenly over), but it is the sum total of the moments along the way. My living happily right now is value. That one day I will cease to be, and I will have no memory of this moment (that there will be no "I" at all to remember) does not change the meaning and the value of this singular moment. That it existed is enough, is everything.
  17. I'm all ethics-ed out at the moment, but this caught my eye. Why would you suppose that there is any moral standard apart from what is good or bad for you? Imagine that we agreed upon such a standard; should any person act contrary to what is good for them, individually? Would we call that moral? I don't anticipate I'll follow up on this -- 'cause as I say, I need a bit of recharge on these subjects -- but I wanted to leave it as food for thought.
  18. Sometimes in conversations such as these, the question comes up, "who is an Objectivist?" Here's Rand: I regard the "full philosophical system" she describes as being Objectivism. I believe that any person who agrees with the essence of her philosophy as described may justly consider himself an Objectivist. The endeavor to "hold these concepts with total consistency," that it may act as a lifetime guide, is itself the work of a life. There will be disagreements between Objectivists along the way. The philosophy does not somehow belong to Ayn Rand or to her bones; insofar as a philosophy may be said to belong to anyone, it belongs equally to every individual who holds it.
  19. My only interest in "society" is (what else) selfish, and when I say that I want to improve society, or the world, I mean (in large part) what you do: "because it would be a good thing to have more Objectivists in the world." There may yet be something hidden in the semantics, but I do not believe that there is any true point of contention here. And I think that this is mostly resolved, as well. I agree with you that effective persuasion needs to take into account the nature of the people who are to be persuaded, or as much context as possible. Effective persuasion is itself an underserved topic among Objectivists, and one of the seeming millions of things I'm still trying to sort out in my own mind. As for "therapy-like" versus "simple persuasion," it's a hell of a thing, isn't it? In my years of discussing issues with fellow Objectivists (among others), I have been driven from relying on more simple persuasive efforts to a deep dive into the topic of evasion (whether to understand theirs, or my own). With respect to changing society, I think that a broad spectrum of persuasive efforts is necessary, howsoever my own personal efforts are focused. I'd expect to win some amount of agreement at every level (speaking very broadly, statistically), with greater/more widespread success possible (against the greater resource consumption you mention) at the lowest, root levels. To be honest with you, I've never (to my knowledge) encountered an Objectivist "in the wild." Only people who have known an Objectivist (usually in college -- someone's roommate) and been turned off to the whole scene, or who read some of Rand's fiction at one point, with various degrees of receptivity. Heh, I'll keep that in mind.
  20. I'd thought we'd reached a temporary point of impasse, but this is worth a response. Of course I agree that we should work to remove welfare (and other socialist programs), amend the Constitution so that socialism cannot (easily) be re-introduced, and repeal such anti-discrimination legislation as you mention; but do you remember when we'd agreed that "the moral is the practical"? In this case, the common root of the problems you identify is that they are violations of individual rights. The moral and practical way to fight against them is to uphold the protection of individual rights as the sole and only power of government; and we cannot do that on the one hand, while calling for the further violation of individual rights on the other. That concedes the very thing we fight for. I understand that you perhaps remain unconvinced whether what we've described as "the right to travel" is a right, but this is, in part, what I meant by referring to Pandora's box. By proposing to prevent a man from Tijuana from working in construction in San Diego, it is a surrender of the most basic idea of the Objectivist Politics, that "no man may initiate the use of physical force against others." I'll also observe that your argument here need not solely be aimed against "immigration," but (as 2046 identified earlier) against more people. Other people (including US citizens) having children potentially means more welfare, education, roads, etc.; these new citizens can vote for socialism; and they are as "protected" by anti-discrimination legislation. I'm not saying that you're making any direct arguments against others having children -- of course that's not what you intend -- but I am saying that the argument you've adopted above could be used equally to argue that the state should have the right to limit the children people have ("because of our rational self-interest in preserving our own freedom"). The argument against that heinous proposition, of course, comes down to individual rights... and so does the argument against restricting immigration. I expect that to discuss this fully would take us far afield -- so my apologies if I give it short shrift. Essentially, I would argue that what you've described is considering a 747 as a potential weapon, and I agree (as with your example of 9/11) that this is sensible. I don't have a full opinion on this worked out, and I expect it would be a contentious subject for its own thread, but I believe that weapons are rightly subject to some form of reasonable regulation. Perhaps your follow-up line of argument might be that "immigrants are a weapon," but... well, I guess I'll wait to see whether you judge such an argument as a reasonable extension of your beliefs, before deciding whether to respond to it any further.
  21. Perhaps so. I'll respond to this post and then let you have the last word between us (at least until I reload ). All agreed. I would not say "no matter where the travel starting points and destination are"; I do not, for instance, have the right to travel through your home, without your permission, so that I can use your swimming pool. But insofar as I do not violate anyone's rights along the way -- if you have invited me over for a swim -- then yes, I do have the right to travel in this fashion. Lest we oversimplify it, as sometimes happens, "the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life" does not distill down alone to "productive work," and etc. Rather it is inclusive of swimming in a pool (when invited) and all manner of things. If some third party stops me from swimming in your pool, they are violating my right to life as much as telling me that I cannot take employment where I'd like. So where does my freedom to act end? Only one place: the initiation of force. Whatever else I do, I cannot initiate the use of force against another. So that's the case that you have to make -- that in my travel, I am somehow initiating force against some individual (or individuals). And I'd like to stress that last part, because again, that's the very case you need to make: A man immigrates from Tijuana to San Diego and goes to work in construction. Against whom has he initiated the use of force and by what means? That he "breaks the law" is insufficient, because as we've already discussed, the law may itself represent the initiation of the use of force. I can demonstrate to you how preventing a man from his right to work in construction does him harm by reference to the standard you've provided above -- that it prevents him from taking the actions required by his nature for the support of his life. But can you show me his use of force, and precisely who suffers by it? I'm not the one to suffer by another man living his life in peaceful fashion, building a life for himself; force has not been initiated against me. I have no cause to stop him from doing it (and no desire). I have no right to stop him. And neither do you, and neither does any man (nor any group that we call "government," although insofar as it acts contrary to man's rights, such a group does not deserve the name -- or the respect). If we want to find a man's right to travel (even across a border) in Rand's positive formulation, I think we have done. But perhaps it is rendered even more clear by her negative formulation, which follows hard upon what you'd quoted: "Interference by other men" is precisely what you propose. A man in Tijuana wants to work in construction in San Diego, the construction foreman agrees, and you wish to interfere, to stand in their way (of working! building buildings!). His right to move to San Diego imposes no obligation on you, neighbor, except to abstain from violating his rights. But how would you prefer to think of it? That by crossing the border he... violates your right to interfere in his life? Your right to tell him where he's allowed to live, or with whom he's allowed to associate? Your right to control the business affairs of others? I don't think there's a coherent way of framing your central idea, to be honest. I know you would like to characterize it as some kind of self defense, because who knows whether any given immigrant is good or bad, but "the unknown" is not justification for the use of force; only retaliation is justified. On that subject, Rand wrote: Only against those who initiate its use. That you do not know whether a prospective immigrant has initiated force against anyone (subject to vetting) does not give you justification to use force against him, to impede his travel. As to the rest (payroll and such), I'm content that such matters can be worked out after the principles are settled; and perhaps Mexico can pay for it. They won't, after all, be paying for any wall.
  22. I agree that there's no difference between the moral and the practical, but that doesn't mean that we can take any means which seems "practical" to a given end and then conclude that, therefore, the proposed means is moral. The end does not justify the means. Suppose we were concerned with funding for the FBI and CIA, as you say, and big corporations (whose income tax -- another practical measure -- we rely upon for funding) were fleeing the country, threatening our ability to maintain the various walls surrounding our country. Could we then assert our right to restrict their egress, with the same walls we'd built to keep others out, in the name of practicality and self-defense? It's been done before. I'm sure you think that my slope is slippery, but honestly, I'm not sure you're aware of the Pandora's box you're opening by allowing the government to violate rights for the sake of "practicality." (And I think it's no coincidence that Trump, protectionist that he is, was hostile to business leaving the US before his administration got swallowed by every scandal under the sun.) And if we're truly concerned over funding a legitimate immigration process (and I agree that it would be a legitimate concern -- later down the line, after we are agreed as to principle), then as an initial approach to the subject (though not one I am prepared to argue or defend), what about requiring prospective immigrants to pay for their own vetting fees, or something similar? I don't think it's an impossible task, to defend individual rights (which is what governance, at heart, means) without asserting some self-defeating right to violate them in the process.
  23. No argument there. Along with our economic relations with Australia, I think that the subject of financing an Objectivist government is 1) off-topic and 2) big enough for its own thread, or five. In fact, with a little searching, I'm sure we could discover some of them. Suffice it to say that whatever the challenges of proper governance (and I agree that there are challenges), I will not support the initiation of force to make things (seemingly) easier. Or for any other reason.
  24. Well, I don't think we ought to invade Australia. But yes -- they are violating our rights in restricting our ability to live and work in Australia, should we choose (not to mention the rights of their own citizens). They are also violating everyone's rights in "gun-grabbing," as you mention, which I presume applies equally to US citizens traveling or working in Australia. But I don't think this generally rises to the level of war, any more than I think that income tax (which is a violation of right) is provocation for armed insurrection. That said, if someone wanted to live in Australia and could not immigrate there legally, I would not say that it was immoral (as such) for them to immigrate illegally, any more than I would say that it is immoral to work "under the table" to avoid income tax. And at all times I call for the abolition of law which is contra individual rights, and initiates the use of force, including income tax and the restriction of immigration.
  25. I don't know how best to do that; I think that's an issue for law enforcement. It may be difficult to work with other governments, or to get trustworthy information, but I would not accept that as a reason to treat every Mexican as a criminal. I intend no personal disrespect -- I really don't -- but this is ridiculous on its face. We also have homegrown murderers and terrorists, so the only objective way to keep America safe is to exclude everyone born here... Or we could rely on law enforcement and intelligence. The FBI and other agencies do their best to track our homegrown murderers and terrorists. Where international terrorism is concerned, it's my understanding that it's the CIA's business to try to keep tabs on it. I'm certain that's a tough job, and that it will not always prove successful. A proper vetting process for individuals coming from an area like Syria may well be more intensive than someone coming from Mexico [edited to add: and it is my understanding that the vetting process for such people is quite intensive]. But again, this is not cause to treat everyone as though they are a terrorist. Not at all. I am asserting that there is every right to immigration (to the US or anywhere else). The screening we're discussing is a procedure for the sake of fulfilling that right to immigration -- out of respect for the fact that people are leaving one legal jurisdiction and entering another. It's sort of like the "right to a speedy trial." Because we recognize that we cannot simply dump a person into a cell for ten years before bringing them to trial -- because that would be a violation of their rights -- that doesn't mean that a person is entitled to "justice on demand," the moment they're arrested. There still might be some reasonable delay; what constitutes "reasonable" in this context depends on the requirements for convening a trial such as justice requires; a complicated topic, and beyond my expertise to get into particulars, but it is in no sense "arbitrary." The right to a speedy trial (or trial-by-jury, or immigration, or any other "procedural right") must be translated into real terms in some manner, but neither does this make it "arbitrary." The need to screen people entering the country (whether immigrants or travelers, including US citizens) -- which I agree is reasonable -- does not provide carte blanche to subject prospective immigrants to any violation you might imagine, or to deny them the right to move, to work, to live.
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