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Puppy Dog

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  1. I miffed a mod forcing a temporary closing and reevaluation of the debate forums because things arent fulfilling their original purpose or i'm setting a bad example or taking them off track. So far my 'rapport' is the devils advocate, i've been arguing anti-Objectivist to try and ferret out the best responses to such questions, so I posted every argument I wasn't able to answer with an Objectivist position so far and it was felt I was just bringing up every tired old argument that had already been answered. My interest isn't finding people who agree with me but those who disagree to understand why. Sometimes they just have a better answer and I accept it immediately, that's what i'm here for. Sometimes they think they've answered but I think they haven't, so I keep posting til I get to the bottom of it or try to post from a different angle.
  2. Wow, that's probably as fatiguing for me to read as I bet my posts have been to others trying to get through them. Now I know how you others feel. I decided to actually give it an essay length post in response, in part to see whether others agreed or disagreed that I understood Objectivism. There's disagreement elsewhere whether or not I understand Objectivism because i've argued devil's advocate on some things. So take this for what you will, these are my opinions. If you think i'm on the right track, tell me, if you think i've got it all wrong, please suggest I not post until I understand more in a PM. My goal is to try and provide interesting comments or things I hope people can take to use in debates elsewhere, not to bore you to death, if i'm failing i'll withdraw from the pro-Objectivist posts as well. It first seems to be hating Objectivism for calling or claiming itself to be objective. It is an argument with words, because the same words mean or imply different things to different people. When I first read Atlas Shrugged I was shocked yet intrigued by some of what I was reading, reacting to what I thought it said before the context was fully established through example. Much of that confusion remained until I started Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. What I best understand it to be is that your Mind is the final arbiter. Only your Mind (the sole tool with which you can perceive the world) can determine whether an argument is true or not true, whether it is in line with your values (and your highest value is self preservation - to willingly be a sacrificial lamb is irrational because it is suicidal). If somebody cannot reach or appeal to your mind, it might be their failure to describe, or your failure to understand, but it is the ONLY possible tool you have. To agree to anything else, that is something irrational by refusing to judge with your Mind, is to allow others to control you by proxy and use you as a sacrificial lamb for their benefit or delusion. To do that either because someone has their hand in your pocket, or has the socialists controlling you exclusively "for the benefit of your great grandchildren" in their opinion, or the mystics controlling you to serve their idea of God. It is not objective to refuse to use the mind to judge. The only alternative is to FORCE people to agree with you - but as Rand says, a gun is not an argument. If you have to use a gun to force them to do something, either 1) your argument is not rational, 2) you've failed to convince their mind of a rational reason to go along with what you suggest, 3) they are irrational and incapable of perceiving the truths just like a blind man cannot see the sun. Having the personal right to choose for yourself what is true, a free market of ideas, is the only possible cultural attitude to even allow a culture to ever arrive at the best ideas. Even if in some cases only the best of men will be able to perceive and use them and the howling mob will not because they are unable (blind) or unwilling (refuse/scared) to use their mind. Even if you may actually be 'right', it is moral to allow them to make their own decision and bear the consequences of their decision. As the Buddists say, the best response to the fool is to let him persist in being a fool so that he may become wise. There is nothing moral about forcing someone to agree at gunpoint. Even if there is a case where someone else might actually know something better you don't win the argument with a gun. If the wise man were to use a gun to make the fool obey that is not moral. It is never moral or rational to initiate force, but only allowed in self defense to prevent one from being enslaved. To initiate force is either the realm of the tyrant, or the looter's mentality, to take what you could not produce for yourself, nor create something of equal value to trade in fair and consensual trade. Your friends arguments about force would have to be: - A looter mentality. Or... - Forcing others to agree at gunpoint. Either because they believe they are wise, the person being forced is irrational, or most likely of all because what is being forced is NOT rational to the person at the other end of the gun, not in their interest, etc. Objectivism cant be explained in a handful of words because there are an interrelated number of concepts. Very precise definitions of things like "altruism" and "self sacrifice" and "selfishness" that mean different things to the howling mob, and cause knee jerk reactions in most of them. It's a system, a mosaic that only makes sense when enough of the right pieces are in the right places to start to make a sensible picture, but if you take a single piece out of context it might just look like a blob of meaningless color or be assumed to be something else. I'm almost trying to define it by defining what it's not. I think there are several reasons for Rand to call it Objectivism because you have to think in order to survive, the process of thinking leads to a sense of self, you have to preserve the self via your thinking and your judgment about your rational self interest, and you realize that all men of the mind will come to the same (that is objective) conclusions about this nature of reality with enough thinking. It is not subjective, because survival is not subjective and requires thought and judgment. Any compromise with the other paths lead to the literal or ideological suicide of the self and any path contributing to willful death is irrational. They are paths without thought, analysis, judgment, or virtue. They are sacrifice to an idea that exists only in someone else's mind which they judge as being some good, even if many people share the mass delusion. They are sacrifices to fantasies and delusions, because other ideas followed to their ultimate end lead to widespread destruction of social collapse. Objectivism is objective because it allows everyone to determine the truth to the best of their ability, yet the best minds can verify all the axioms for themself. It taps into undeniable truths and observations about the human condition, it encompasses the only way man can live as a man, as a rational being, as a moral being, to best enable his own survival, and to best enable social survival in the long term sense. That last segment is admittedly a value judgement. You have to accept the unprovable axiom that it is good for you to survive, and not be a slave, and for society to not destroy itself by looting the producers until none are left, and that anything in violation of that is irrational. Accepting those things starts a line of reasoning which makes Rand's conclusions self evident and self-proving.
  3. Decided to give a late introduction since I appear to have riled up the board a bit although it was not my intent or plan. For the accusations against me that everything i'm writing is an essay and I write too much, Ayn Rand couldn't make a point in less than 1000 pages either. I'm still in the process of developing my ideas. I'm sure the first writing of Atlas Shrugged didn't start with perfectly formed arguments. It will probably take me years to figure out exactly how to say what i'm trying to say. Since i'm wanting to start an intentional community and trading circle based upon Objectivist principles before the socialists destroy the world i'm trying to see if there are any quicker ways to get the answers I need or to get around the resistance i'm encountering with friends i'm trying to convert to Objectivist principles. What i'm hoping to offer others here in exchange for helping me i'm not quite sure yet - maybe a valued trading partner, maybe a source of new insights, maybe a better understanding of the resistance against Objectivism to improve the propagation. I'm aware i've been posting in a controversial way - taking a certain type of thought to it's extreme of what seems to be implied allowed and possible by one way of thinking and using that extreme near-caricature as an example of why a certain line of thought seems to be a dead end. Rand seemed to do the same in Atlas Shrugged, I felt I was in good company. It probably didn't come across that way though. I hoped controversial claims would elicit the best of the best responses from the best posters to blow my arguments out of the water because i'm playing devil's advocate for something i'm hoping isn't true. I'm TRYING to say something I think is new. Rand could not say what she was saying in a few pages, because she was trying to draw distinctions between things that nobody had really seemed to make before. People thought there was two sides to an argument, she was trying to give a third answer, and only with long drawn out arguments, and examples, could she start to draw a line where one hadn't existed before. I'm still grappling with the same. First, I am somewhat new to Objectivism. Atlas Shrugged had been on my reading list for years but the monstrous size of it had scared me off for a bit. What made me finally go through it was the game Bioshock. (which is itself a criticism of Objectivism of a free market destroying itself but which stirred my interest) Finally going through A.S. I was absolutely spellbound by it and it's already permanently changed my views on many things. However it left me with questions. I started going through the audiobook of Objectivism: An Unknown Ideal in January (after i'd already made a few posts) which was answering part of my questions I had left from Atlas Shrugged, but other classes of questions remained unanswered, namely those i've seen categorically ignored by every free market Chicago school type argument tract i'd ever studied in the past. Part of me fears after reading tens of thousands of more pages that they will still be unanswered, or I feared with too much reading i'd simply train myself to repeat the official answer having trained myself to ignore the cases where the philosophy doesn't seem to work perfectly. I've seen people do that with other fields of argument and didn't want to Pavlovian-train myself to ignore contradictions or inconsistencies simply parroting the party line which i've seen many "true believers" of other philosophies do. What makes it right is not that Rand said it, but that it's an observation and analysis that best fits reality. Observations she's made so far that i've read seem to be completely unassailable and incontrovertible - rejecting them would only be willful denial. The only possible source of disagreement is whether her observation is a complete accurate and total accounting of the consequences from all sides of the argument. Just like lawyers arguing in a courtroom, the prosecutor can argue something incontrovertible but then the defense argues something equally incontrovertible and in the end what matters is the total weight of evidence - the forest, not the trees. Surely only the best case will win before a jury of rational people and none of you need fear my devil's advocate case arguments? Another part of my reason for posting before reading everything is to keep a record of my own beliefs at the time to try and figure out if when and how they change and why. ----------------------- SOME MISTAKES I'M MAKING: At first I tried to put alot of arguments in one post, and was told to separate it up. I then made a bunch of separate posts and was accused of spamming the board. I only have intermittent internet access a few times per month, so I felt a need to post all my arguments at once in a shotgun approach hoping some of them would yield fruit when I checked back in a month. I felt anything not worth reading would be ignored by the free market, and that someone that found a particular topic or argument worth considering and responding to would respond and help me get some clarity to my own thoughts, or be able to say "all of your arguments on this topic are found in Rand's other book X, or in the free market book Y" so I could better prioritize my reading list on what to read next. I'm aware i'm creating burdens by writing too much for most people to follow, and failing to offer value to others (apparently) with my wordy text and still formulating arguments. Sorry about that and i'm still trying to figure out how to correct that. :-/ I'm not trying to make others do my work for me. Perhaps it's a nonsequitor that Objectivist activism is somewhat unrewarding, I assumed or hoped an activist that wants to propagate an idea finds it rewarding to either exercise their mind, wants to hear possibly new criticisms to strengthen their own arguments, expects honorable repayment by someone grateful for time saved, or to convert others with the hope they'll have something useful to bring to a trading circle in the future. -------------------------- I'm going to be alot more restrained in postings and followups from now on. I'm not trying to take over the board or annoy people or spam out all the other discussions. If you feel i'm doing something wrong or annoying please PM me directly and help me understand what I can do to fix it.
  4. ...and do free markets lead to their own destruction? Going out on a limb here a bit to try and make a point... What if I come up with nanotechnology enabled Utility Fog, ie - nanite production manufacturing which can create absolutely anything from raw materials at practically no cost. Overnight i've just created a disruptive technology that unemploys everybody in the field of manufacturing ANYTHING, because my new machine can create absolutely anything. The shocks and social unrest to be borne by society, the profit to be taken exclusively by me. Or a computer AI system, that is smarter than a person, and can be trained to deal with all the current areas people do consulting work. No more lawyers, no more accountants, no more receptionists, nothing. Everyone is now able to have their contribution replaced by an AI program which I license out at 5 cents an hour, undercutting even third world prison and slave labor. In an objectivist society it seems one of two things happen. Either 1) the socially destroying technology is allowed to exist and the police force represses people until most of them die off since they are no longer necessary. Or 2) the people decide they no longer want to live in an objectivist society, now that they are the ones being unemployed en masse, and turn against and loot the creator of the AI/nanobot system. Objectivism seems to imply #1 is the only right choice, social darwinism and common sense seems to imply #2 is more likely. People will not support an "ideal" which destroys their own ability to survive, they only go along with a system they feel is benefitting them. (see my argument on why 'communism' can be rational, at least to those following it) Is this just class warfare by another name, that as long as people perceive themself to be on the upper crust, they support it regardless of the consequences to those below? Would they still support the system if they couldn't hack it or survive, or an objectivist world had no more need for them? I do not think this is unrealistic, just that it is a few years off yet like maybe 20 for the AI part. The rush towards technological singularity with super-empower a handful of John Galt's and ruin everything for anybody else. The argument Ayn Rand makes about having absolutely no duty to one's fellow man anywhere even would say such a society-destroying outcome is ethical. If people wont pay a bit more at the mom'n'pop store where the money recirculates in the local economy and instead shop at Walmart where it goes elsewhere, then someone with an uber-technology that could undercut everyone else, and come up with a de facto monopoly due to ridiculously low costs of production will eventually get to the world that doesn't need humans anymore. Then what happens? Everyone dies in a police state or from mass starvation? I've noticed that many objectivists i've talked to have a "meanness" about them to the lower classes whose crime is just not being either genetically able due to bad parentage, culturally able due to a poor society, or psychologically able due to trauma to compete in a dog-eat-dog ruthless world. (and I dont exempt myself from this either, a lifetime of me being exploited by lessers has given me a similar attitude) A "who cares what happens to the poor", even if the poor are then driven to crime (the last equal opportunity employer when all else fails) and looting to stay alive and perhaps causing cases where a society without governmental safety nets might actually have more crime instead of less because instead of being fed, living in the projects and watching TV, theyre starving in the street with nothing to lose. (perhaps this argues for a mandatory "social security" system as a social cost to prevent this, just like mandatory health and safety standards, but others would argue against this on the grounds of it not being a free choice and being a de facto redistribution of wealth via tax, even if not income tax, from those who dont need it/the producers to those who are being bribed to not hold the society hostage by rioting) One could argue that without men of the mind, certain breakthroughs in production will never happen in the first place, therefore they are entitled to all the wealth they create. One could also argue that nobody exists in a bubble, that although one person can put all the ideas together and it wouldn't come to fruition without him, that there are many other contributors to an idea, normally uncompensated and looted from, without whom something would not have happened either. Did John Galt create the infinite energy motor exclusively from his own mind? Would he have still produced it without a lifetime of cultural education and enriching experiences provided to him by society, none of the cultural richness which he was demanded to pay for as a free rider which he could not be denied as a member of that society, without which he never would have been led to come to the breakthroughs? Perhaps this justifies society taking some share of excess wealth for itself. (caveat: I do not necessarily believe or want to believe this, I am making arguments for the purposes of discussion, dont assume i'm irrational just because I argue devils advocate well I could probably debunk my own posting to some degree, I just want to see if others can too or if they have different angles I haven't thought of.) I'm trying to view objectivism as something above either just class warfare or taking sides in a conflict for which there is not and never will be a right or even fully moral side with all the points stacked on one side of the scale. Although i'm choosing to follow Objectivist principles, because I believe I can produce and want to choose to dispense of my production however I see fit, some of the moral justifications for superiority seem a bit hollow to me because i've been on the other side of the fence and i'm just as capable of returning to that other perception of the world. Perhaps some of the things I argue in my topics are deemed unlikely, or without historical precedent, but that doesnt mean that they cant or wont happen either, or that we arent heading towards a world where they are more likely to happen. To simply quote Rand that no company has ever monopolized in the past doesnt mean that it can never happen in the future, and that the risk of it happening would not be catastrophic or lead to mass social unrest and the rejection by the majority of the population of objectivist principles if they still had a survival instinct left. This is really no different than the past. Social rules were written, some businessmen attained an unexpected position of power which others found threatening, possibly used the economic influence to attain political coercive influence (or perhaps just had people afraid that they would) and scared people reacted thinking they had to protect themself using the tool of government. Despite the wrongs inflicted upon businessmen taking the product of their wealth, there are probably cases in the history of statecraft where society would have collapsed had it not taken actions to protect itself. I'm noting in one set of threads certain objectivists are telling me society would still have laws to protect itself or act in the national defense but what about when the free actions of business (or free individuals) come into conflict with that causing social unrest and put the entire nation at risk?
  5. This makes sense to me, I just havent seen anything (yet) in my readings about health, safety and enviromental issues, nor did a few anti-objectivists I talked to so i'm wondering if it's said, if it's implied, or if it's not discussed at all. It seems that everything is implied that it should be totally free market, because if the government regulates what is legal or not in health or safety, isn't that just "having to get permission from those who produce nothing" (health inspectors) and who can further be bribed to selectively enforce or not certain regulations via political pull. Part of my argument is against what i'd call hit and run capitalism. You start a company, pollute without others knowing, reap the profits, and run before the damage is really known. The right of corporatism is perhaps a separate issue (hiding behind the corporate veil so once the money is passed to you, nobody can seize it not even those youve legitimately destroyed the lives of) but another case of trying to prevent looting, because 40 years after a business otherwise someone could claim they were harmed irrepairably by working at your factory and now you owe them medical bills. The US legal system lets anyone sue anyone else for any alleged infraction and a 'good' lawyer can convict a ham sandwich so it encourages legalized looting. I think they are, they are the only contamination which can self propagate. I can dump lead and mercury into my own well, and if I own the entire water table, it wont contaminate your water table. GMO crops WILL contaminate the neighbors field if they have the same species of crop, and those offspring will further contaminate the next farm over. Employees of Monsanto have even been caught driving in the country, throwing handfulls of GMO seeds into the fields of farmers who DIDNT buy their crop, and then being hit with lawsuits saying that the farmer was wrongfully using Monsanto's patented GMO property and now owes them alot of money, after their organic or other field was actually contaminated and rendered unsellable. This is one of my examples of a danger of "unregulated" capitalism. Perhaps just declaring GMO to be a crime is the solution, I dont know, thats part of what i'm opening the debate floor up to. What I dont like is the implication that then the government should decide what can be sold regardless of the dangers, because it seems to be a slippery slope then to controlling all aspects of life. Should I have the right to buy a nuclear bomb at the corner market if i'm not a felon? If not under what basis would you prevent such free contract from taking place? The concept of market failure is where free and open competition in an open market does not achieve the best solution to the problem (ie - a Paretto efficiency) but where a government theoretically can enforce such an efficiency by reorganizing things. (even if that is a violation of individual rights) By efficiency I don't mean lower prices for consumers at the expense of producers, I mean everything worse for everybody. From wikipedia, "the actions of agents can have externalities, which are innate to the methods of production, or other conditions important to the market. For example, when a firm is producing steel, it absorbs labor, capital and other inputs, it must pay for these in the appropriate markets, and these costs will be reflected in the market price for steel. If the firm also pollutes the atmosphere when it makes steel, however, and if it is not forced to pay for the use of this resource, then this cost will be borne not by the firm but by society. Hence, the market price for steel will fail to incorporate the full opportunity cost to society of producing. In this case, the market equilibrium in the steel industry will not be optimal. More steel will be produced than would occur were the firm to have to pay for all of its costs of production." How does one account for externalities, and what i've elsewhere referred to as the third party problem. (where a third party, other than producer and consumer, is affected by the actions and free contract of the first two) Can a government morally or legally levy taxes taking that into account, redistributing part of the profit because the profit doesn't take into account the full costs of production? If Union Carbide is dumping pollutants into the river, and somebody else has to be hired to pay for the cleanup costs, so the government taxes Union Carbide for those costs, is that an abusive government overstepping it's bounds or is that still kosher in an Objectivist society and the role the government is expected to play, that of insuring economic justice? There is a moral case that the producers of wealth get paid and have the right to spend it how they choose. It is wrong to take production for granted or treat the mind as something that will produce, or the men of the mind as a class that can be parasited off and fed off without limit. The Tragedy in the Commons is when wealth is looted from the commons though because there isn't a law yet preventing or taxing it, such as Coca Cola in india drawing down so much water from their bottling plant that now the farmers have to dig wells over 2 miles deep to even reach water in some place. The cost of those wells isn't being paid by Coca Cola. The danger is that the endless growth of laws like this seems to end up in the same cesspit of having to ask government permission to produce and facing increasing risks of arbitrary decisions by someone who produces nothing. The alleged role of government is to prevent it's citizens from being harmed by predators, whether outside (invasion) or inside (criminals). The best case that Rand makes is that regulation has no place in free economic activity and the exchange of the products of mind as something which should be subjected to the scrutiny of some arbiter deciding harm is caused to another's employment, business or the endless needs of the bottom rung of nonproducers when economics is the only issue. What if the pollutant Union Carbide was dumping wasnt recognized as a dangerous pollutant at first, so there's no law on the books saying it's illegal, then it's found to be horrificially damaging but only ten years after exposure? I'm not arguing for retroactive law, i'm trying to explain risks i'm observing in laissez faire. Yes I call it regulation because it's about the application of force, if you dont have the right to pollute your neighbor's property that is coercive regulation. Perhaps reasonable coercion that's necessary but coercion nonetheless. It's the argument about what exactly should the state do. Objectivism says get the government the hell out of economic enterprise, which I agree, but to me it begs the question of how else do you restructure government to best allow personal freedom and free contract? The argument is not so much against or about Objectivism as much as what is the proper role of government and how to best do it's job when things allowed or enabled by a totally free society seem to stand in the way. (case in point - an escaped rapist says he's going to kill the lady who prosecuted him, he buys a gun because there is no prohibition for him to do so, and kills the woman. So the response is you have a law preventing a felon from buying a gun, but how do you determine who is a felon since they wont tell you? Do you ask the government permission every time for who can have guns?) _I_ know that, that seems totably sensible to me. What if the information isnt acquired by illegal means but rather by accident? You know, you confused whose briefcase is whose at the airport after you both fell and found yourself in the possession of secret industrial knowledge, or important national security information. You are under no contract not to sell the information afterall, and the need for profit in an objectivist society is merciless since if you cant produce there is no guaranteed safety net from the government, so the temptation to sell will be very strong. Maybe you dont even know the information is secret or have no reason to believe it is, and sell it and make a profit. Should the government confiscate your 'wrongful' profit? Doesnt the existance of things youre not allowed to sell by contract create a black market? (elsewhere someone said there would be no black markets under objectivism and implied nothing would be illegal to sell because it's all free contract) To me there are things which are obviously criminal and things which are not criminal. Yet there are people who would insist that because EvilCorp can produce gasoline at $1/gallon while sickening thousands, and my nondamaging sustainable method produces gasoline at $2/gallon without damaging health, that if I lobby to have laws passed for common health and enviromental protection that I am somehow wrongfully taking the profits of EvilCorp by making their nonsustainably produced gasoline illegal to sell and further harming free choice by forcing people to go with what I just so happen to sell. Depending which Objectivist I ask, i'm told that that is sensible and fine, or would be totally forbidden by Objectivism. The danger is when one is falsely sold as being the opposite and the public is vulnerable to go along with it politically, such as taking production for granted and implying that businessmen simply loot what they didn't actually produce. (sometimes they do, in grand and horrible fashion, but most business in laissez faire would be legitimate) I just dont see Rand explaining the distinctions anywhere (yet) in my readings and I feel it's a failing. I see some parts of her writings which seem to contradict it, it seems to imply everything for sale, no restrictions from any governmental anything telling you what can or cannot be sold with the sole exceptions of force or fraud. That still leaves alot of room for abuse. I've had discussions with non-Objectivists who have raised these problems with me and I have no answer to give them within an Objectivist context about why it wouldn't happen. It may be a loaded question but it's a legitimate concern. :-/ On one hand there are the requirements for national survival and individual survival. (health and such) On the other hand there is the freedom of the economic market. At some point the two will come into conflict. Objectivism seems to always favor the freedom of the market, by what i've read in Ayn Rand's writings so far, and this is where i'm having the most trouble.
  6. Thats what i'm trying to do now, although i'm spamming up the boards with alot of topics. What I was hoping is that perhaps someone would see the proto-arguments that are forming in my head, recognize it, and give me a few quick easy answers (or book/page references) that would clear up the issues. I'm now splitting it off into totally separate posts and am considering this thread dead to further followup/i'm unlikely to read. Well, I sort of am. I'm raising doubts, making counter-observations, and mentally playing around certain ideas. I'm not arguing directly contrary to objectivism because I cannot dispute any of it's observations or insights. Ayn Rand was brilliant. There is nothing to take for granted about producers producing without compensation or freedom, there is nothing moral about stealing from one group to give to another, certainly not from those who can produce easily to give to those who can produce nothing for no reason other than they NEED it, and most of all government cannot be a competent arbiter of what is right because governments are made up of people, and once you have a power structure incompetent or corrupt people inevitably inhabit it and make worse judgements that are then forced upon even the best of men. What I was hoping is that somebody else had already had thoughts along the lines that I do, and would recognize what i'm posting, and be able to tell me "this is where youre going, and this is why your reason is faulty or boneheaded..." to save me alot of trouble. It's not that I dont want to do the work, i'm already doing the work, and am just finding certain things glossed over or seemingly ignored, and some of my arguments are getting canned answers just repeating Rand without actually answering the questions. I'm just finding that for all Rand's brilliance, there are things that just don't seem to be answered, and it's many things, in different areas, but i'm still grasping to find the right words, arguments and examples to actually make them open for public debate. As such my arguments are going to radically change both as I go through successive generations of appropriate response and learn more about Rand's work myself. I can only report observations about what seems to be true or what doesnt seem to be answered by the philosophy, even if i'm completely wrong in my assessment, so I don't want to come out too stridently against Rand, but I also want many eyes to look at my posts so I post some almost exaggerated examples of the worst abuses Objectivism would seem to allow because i'm hoping that it's not true. I've always been frustrated at arguments that have one person not saying anything, not because they are wrong or have conceded a point, but are simply struggling to formulate into words or examples what the problem they are observing is. They can't quite explain it as a pattern that others can see yet, and so all the bystanders just assume they are wrong when sometimes it's not the case. Sometimes they just aren't very good or experienced at debating. I think this belongs in debate rather than questions though, because questions seems more like asking what Rand says about (x) and i'm not really seeing her saying anything about the issues i'm raising. So people please consider this topic DEAD, i'll followup either in individual posts or on the 'round 2' of problems thread (until that is dead). If you feel compelled to respond to something raised only here, consider copying and pasting the argument to a still-open thread or writing me directly. It's likely that questions are still unanswered and i'd like to hear your response, even if they are lower priority than other questions that i'm meanwhile posting.
  7. I'm not saying capitalists are criminals! I'm saying that some people use a capitalist system for either borderline or outright criminal abuses. For instance total and complete destruction of the enviroment in the name of saving a few pennies. Even if some of the abuses are due to mixed economy capitalism, and may or may not still operate in laissez faire capitalism (or may operate less, but still be there, and thus people would falsely believe that statism would prevent the abuses - ie Company Towns and other predatory abuses, they'd think the State would stop that or they could be sold the idea that it would, just like they falsely believe communism would be a workers paradise), when common people see the "abuses of capitalism" they paint everyone with the same brush. These "bad actors" ruin it for everybody, for the would be Hank Reardens of the world. (I dont see many of those in the world, actually any that I can think of, other than maybe Ricardo Semler of Semco, because alot of our Fortune 100 profits are probably more often due to corruption, abusiveness, government subsidies, and coercive govt help. Even those that legitimately create things also steal whenever they think they can get away with it, they are not white as the snow morally.) What i'm proposing is that there may be an important moral and psychological distinction. There is the true looter class - those that are nothing more than pirates themself, or support a government of pirates, that will redistribute wealth to them, and they don't care. We can all probably agree that these people are pretty worthless and referring to them as the howling irrational immoral mob is entirely proper. Yet there is also a class that has perhaps been traumatized by the excesses of abusive coercive monopoly type capitalism, and resists capitalism not out of irrationality but out of either ignorance (not realizing that the problems are due to coercive monopolies which wouldn't exist in laissez faire, or not having a country properly enforce laws protecting the enviroment or preventing true crime like violent strikebreaker mobs often used in third world countries by oil and mineral companies) or not being able to perceive how having a system with even less laws would do anything to prevent abusive people in positions of power from making life even worse for them. To them it's like letting a rabid dog off the chain to tear up the schoolyard, and government regulation is the only thing protecting them. (or at least this is the idea commonly believed, that government is their protector, just like it was commonly believed Obama would fix everything and not run the country into the ground like he is. Whether it's true is not the point, it's believed to be true, and thats why people choose it because it seems the best or only thing they can choose) If there is any way that one can PROVE that is an unfounded fear, whether by examples of objectivist communities resisting such abuses, you will be able to undo what I consider the moral, that is legitimate, resistance to unrestrained capitalism. Because so far i'm not convinced that an objectivist society would be free from the ills of organized crime either. I'm really wanting to believe that, thats why i'm asking some very pointed questions, despite having already gone through some of Rand's work and giving credit where credit is due, acknowledging proof that abusing the producers is the worst crime and danger of all in our modern society. But the supposedly protectionist laws werent put there or supported by the public to intentionally curb or steal from the producers (not normally or not by everyone, all laws are not through and through like that nor is all support for them), they were put there to stop the excesses of abusiveness and destruction that were happening. That seems like a very rational, sane thing to try and do, even if it was poorly implemented, or open for possibly worse abuses that nobody asked, (like who is vested with the arbitrary power to decide what is really abusive and able to prosecute anyone for things that werent crimes when they started) or which primarily seemed to abuse a class (businessmen/producers) that were not properly appreciated at the time for what they really socially contribute. It is not reasonable to say that someone who is supporting a pro-looting law wants to be a looter through and through and is evil and immoral, they are probably making a judgement trying to choose the least horrible of corrupt badly written laws from two corrupt parties. You could only judge them as evil if given a carte blanche line by line questionaire about what they think is fair or directly support. One thing that many anti-capitalist types resist is the Company Town, thats an example of predatory capitalism. Lured in by the promise and contract for high wages, you didnt realize that the company store products cost 10x as much and after years of working you are only deeper in debt, not even making ends meet. You could argue individual responsibility requires a person to carefully consider what theyre agreeing to. You could argue they arent paranoid enough or should know better. Yet when they first came about, NOBODY knew better. Company Towns were abusive, they were predatory, and yet they were legal because no laws existed to prevent them from existing. Totally unregulated capitalism encourages abusiveness, it encourages loopholes, it encourages predatory behavior to find some "angle" that nobody thought they would have to protect themself from because once you get them into the trap and make the money, nobody can forcibly confiscate your ill gotten gains from you. Yes unregulated capitalism also frees the true producers, I make absolutely no argument there. There are countless things I want to do that I personally think I could make billions at if I didnt' have to ask hundreds of beaurecrats for permission to produce and sell, the fear of going to jail over some obscure law while trying to make money forces me to put all plans on hold til I can pay thousands to have a lawyer tell me what i'm allowed to do. The sole question that normal people are asking is whether freeing ALL the dogs, the rabid and purebred showdogs alike, makes sense, or whether it's safer to try to keep them all on legal leashes, at least til we see a better way of judging or coming up with objective standards deciding which dogs to let free and which ones to keep leashed. I mean a sane person could probably judge this dog is rabid, it stays leashed, this one is a true showdog, it can run free, but then you have a government of men, not of laws, and once that position is filled by someone not benevolent who accepts bribes, the system itself turns into what we have now. Perhaps no such objective standard exists. So why do common people resist laissez faire capitalism? They fear everything will turn into a company town. They see themselves solely as the losers in the arrangement, because they are 'commoners' (either by genetic inability to be more, or far more often due to bad culture and poor education) and because they see a government keeping everyone on a leash is better than every city and state everywhere becoming a cartel of Company Towns that is solely interested in feeding off and profiting by them while paying less and less to them for them to buy the things they need to survive. Their argument is simple, in laissez faire they will have to go through life utterly paranoid of who is trying to fsck them over next because there is absolutely no government restriction on human-on-human or business-on-human predatory attitudes. Everything will be unsafe, everything will be unhealthy, everything will be a race to the bottom and a lowest common denominator because unless you can afford luxury goods like food that isnt poisonous http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfWjQZVNd4o at 10x the cost, it's all downhill. They see no benefit, no profit, they see it like a bigger version of when the telecoms were deregulated and their prices for basic phone service just went up. (it did for us, our family resented it, we paid twice as much for what we used to get previously because we didnt care about all the stupid features and crap, we just wanted basic phone service) China is a good example, melamine in the milk which is killing children and destroying kidneys, because its cheaper to put melamine in the milk and to mix it with milk (to falsely pass the govt testing of protein levels showing its not watered down) than it is to sell real milk. Normal people resist laissez faire capitalism because they think everything will be like this. And so far anywhere the laws seem to be further deregulated over time it IS like that, even if there are criminal prosecutions (china is putting people to death over it, but our US FDA just declared melamine in US infant formula is safe and no longer toxic even though a few years ago the FDA said it was completely toxic. Hmmm..) the temptation to do anything you can get away with because there is either no law restricting it, or because the evidence for safety is a little inconclusive is very high in a "merciless" capitalist society. Especially one with no safety net. If you dont produce and make money in a capitalist society you die, so the focus is on you making money by what you can get away with, not you being as fair and loving to everyone around you as possible. You will find the businessman with expensive health problems and no other skills making the compromise to sell the melamine milk when he has a chance to make his money now, hoping he'll get away with it, because he knows if he fails to produce money in his perhaps one and only shot at wealth, he will die homeless in the society. Many common people do not resist laissez faire because they are irrational, they see it as resisting criminals or abuses set loose. They say they shouldn't HAVE to walk through life endlessly paranoid of who is going to hurt them next just because they cant stay up with every new health risk, every new predatory scam being pulled, every new side effect being caused by releasing new chemicals into the enviroment that have never existed before. Theyre too busy trying to raise a family and enjoy a little life to spend 12 hours a day researching all the ways that other humans can hurt you. So they try to support a government that they hope will protect them from all that. Comments? Am I saying something insightful or do you disagree?
  8. Wait! Hear me out! It contains a kernel I think key to wider acceptance of Objectivism. Ayn Rand argues that when people disagree with her philosophy that it is due to the refusal to use their own Mind because she considers all of the insights about personal freedom and the right to dispose of the product of one's labor as the only rational possibility. I'm not sure I agree with that statement. I think it's more in psychology. People go with whatever system they best believe (in their own 'rational' judgement, or at least as much reason as they can summon) will give them the best life they can have. Their knowledge of how the world works may be distorted, but they are still rationally judging within the model they have what they think will work. If the model of the world in your head says that stealing and violence is the only way to get ahead, because of a background of ignorance and poverty where those are the only people you ever see getting ahead, and you don't know any other way to live, it's probably a rational judgement to live like that. What i'm trying to say is that psychology, lack of education and lack of understanding is (IMHO, debate) the real reason for the disagreement or the refusal to accept certain things. Not a refusal to use their mind, but rather their mind is locked in a cage which could have been caused by a mixture of brainwashing (socialist or otherwise), trauma, bad life examples/role models, no alternative examples to look up to in the real world of other ways they could live, etc. The reason I feel this is important (and not either inherently a refusal to use the mind, nor a refusal to think) is that it gives a completely different interpretation of the resistance many objectivists experience when trying to debate with the howling mob, possibly one that could be more effective or give new ideas of how to understand the nature of the resistance. This is why a businessman wants laissez faire, because that is the system that is most beneficial to him. This is why the person with no skills and no abilities wants communism, because they know they cant make it in a mixed economy capitalist system and would be ground to dust in an objectivist system. This is why the tribal chief who has seen "foreign corporations" destroy the enviroment, loot the commons, wipe out the natural remedies, and then tell you you can die if you cant pay for their imported solutions becomes a hardcore resister of capitalism because of their personal experience of it. Each person goes with the beliefs that, if widely implemented, think will get them a better deal. (Note that it's the PERCEPTION of assumed gain, rather than the actual gain itself. Look at all the Obama-supporting morons. They thought he would be different and fix all their problems (i've literally seen videos of people crying, saying they dont have to worry about losing their house anymore in foreclosure, and they'll have free health care because Obama will fix everything - total cult of personality) so they jumped behind something they assumed would give them.) -------- So what is my point? My point is that someone who has absolutely no skills, who is a cookie cutter unskilled "campesino class" laborer, is never going to support Objectivism. They will always play politics, support force in stealing from the producers to redistribte looted wealth to them. They have no choice - "rationally" it is their only way to survive or to make their life as easy as possible. They vote and support the candidate that promises to loot for them what they cannot provide for themself. I'm not sure that's irrational, that's self interest. It's immoral sure but that's a separate argument. Somebody who currently may have a normal slave wage job, but actually has some hidden talent, ability or skill which in a laissez faire system they would be able to sell and benefit from and get paid far more seem to be VERY open to objectivism. They know they are being prevented by producing by having to ask the permission of someone who doesnt produce in the government and cant get through all the hassle of licenses, approval boards, legal restrictions and so forth, the millions of laws that now regulate every possible facet of human activity and how to carry out business. I've talked with people extremely hostile to objectivism because they see that widespread globalization and innovation of all sorts is only driving their wages down lower, but then after I made them aware they had hidden talents that they could profit by in an objectivist system they've turned around 180 degrees. My point is that for anybody who wants to just remain the same, to find one job providing one wage and to never have to think again, to just show up to work every day doing what any trained monkey to do, they will never ever support objectivism. They would have to be irrational to vote for a system that they will only lose in. The people that are highly adaptable, that see it as a challenge that the world is constantly changing, and want to engage in the competitive battle to see who can out-adapt everyone else and come up with the cleverest insight - they are likely strong supporters of objectivism, or globalization, or other "merciless" systems of letting the market decide and having no social safety net, because they don't need it. They excel in such a society. Such men are always going to be in the minority, so it seems unlikely that objectivism will ever be accepted outside of this minority, except at the point of a gun. Perhaps many of these problems are cultural however. The industrial age mentality in our schools where people are taught to be cookie cutter workers, because such workers were needed to function in the factories, is completely inappropriate for a modern globalized world. It's an education that handicaps you, quite possibly for life because it's drilled in from K-12 and then in college most of the time too. You're never taught how to be an entrepreneur, how to innovate, how to think for yourself. The only way that I think more people will support objectivism and a ruthless free market is if they are offered a system that they can win in. It's irrational to support one that makes you lose, so if people were educated to take advantage of the freedom laissez faire capitalism provides, to truly think, to innovate, many would leap at the chance to run to Galt's Gulch and get out of the socialist sewer were entering into. But if objectivism continues to be sold in the manner of "youre just irrational if you dont agree with this" it will continue to be labeled 'randroids' or rejected in college (a highly socialistic institution in most places anyways) as a legitimate philosophy worthy of intense study.
  9. I'd have to do some more research before I could give some better examples or track to original sources, but everything really comes down to economic justice. Who is responsible for the creation of the wealth? Objectivism (correctly) tries to remedy some of the worst abuses of all - the abuse of businessmen and of men of the mind who create techniques, technologies, and ideas which make our life better and bring them for market for sale/trade with those who would be unable to create such things for themself. Good examples of abusiveness which seem to be legal under current patent laws but seriously make me question who is creating the value would be things like biopiracy... some native tribe develops and has some cure for some disease, say a combination of herbs and processing techniques, and this is appropriated by some corporation and then often patented or trademarked, to where if the tribe itself tried to sell the remedy publically they would be sued by the corporation that stole it. I've even heard of cases in the amazon where some tribe comes up with a natural cure for something, then local enviromental degradation (from an oil company or whatever) wipes out the natural and local sources of the herbal treatments, and then the tribe has to buy the patented lower quality medicine from the corporation that took the knowledge "which could not have come up with it by itself". You could argue that without the bioprospector the 'cure' would never have been commercialized and by bringing it to market and making it available for all they are doing a service. Yet the argument of who created or discovered the original resource is that the indian tribe discovered it or developed it, and the bioprospector would have nothing to sell. I've heard of other examples where the blood of a child was taken at birth without consent (everyone under age 34 in the US and I think most other first world countries has their blood taken and sent to federal databases and used for research for everything from medical to bioweapons) and later developed some disease, and had found that some company had used HIS STOLEN BLOOD to do research and come up with a treatment for the disease, and is claiming patent rights based upon that. The person whose blood led to some insight into how to treat the disease due to his unique DNA sequencing or some natural adaption not only gets no compensation but not even any discount for using the treatment. (I dont have a source for this right now, related to me by a source i've previously found 100% reliable who studies such things) In my original example with the Jetpac, perhaps for personal use or prior invention it would not be a problem so its not the best example, but if I developed the motor for use on my own and my friends fishing boats, and then they come up with and patent it (and my arguments for prior art are ignored or considered unprovable) I would still I assume be prevented from creating new ones either for personal use or for sure for sale to my friends. I see many stupid and abusive patents (example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sealed_crustless_sandwich selling a peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be a crime now, I could probably find even better examples if I want to search, look for "patent trolls" to find some examples) that I have to wonder whether they were obtained by bribing some PTO official at times, and yet the problem of asking for patent reform where certain patents or classes of patents or patent rights could be overturned or even rendered illegal would itself be an abuse of legitimate businessmen in some cases who brought legitimate things to market. Any cries of patent reform are rightfully scary to businessmen, since it could be used as just another form of looting their legitimate creations and legitimate profit, as government has done countless times in the past. But when is it instead economic justice to steal from the corporate looter and return stolen goods to the actual creator? The concept of property is the origin of some of the worst abuses by those who game the system. I'm not suggesting an arbitrary set of laws (ie - Sherman Act) should hold it in limbo whether something is legal or not until they want to prosecute you, but not everybody holding property is an upstanding moral Hank Rearden creating everything from his own mind fair and square. Nor do I think the government is the fair arbiter of redistributing what they could term ill gotten gains, by simply declaring anybody anywhere to have made an unfair profit. It may be there is no solution. I'm just trying to bust the illusion that the age of much freer capitalism was automatically an abuse-free golden age flowing with milk and honey for all, or that returning to total laissez faire would truly be good for all by preventing such abuses. (even if it would be clearly better for the true men of the mind and creators of wealth, and perhaps it would do more good than abuse)
  10. There are plenty of arguments for things like patent law, but what about cases where two separate, unconnected people think of the same idea, but because one thought of it first and ran to the patent office (or the other had no interest in commercializing it) they get a monopoly on production and can legally prevent the other from using it even for personal use? One example I can think of is the Jetpac outboard. It's like an outboard motor for boats, except it floats on it's own like a separate boat, so the weight isnt hanging off the transom. They have a patent on it. I knew of somebody who built their own version years prior just for personal use and had no interest in commercializing it, yet under patent law they could now be prosecuted for using their own homebuilt design because it is now patented by somebody else. It seems a violation of individual rights to deny someone the use of their own mind if they werent exposed to the idea. And on a related note, should patents/copyrights/etc exist for a limited time, like 20 years? Or for life? Or forever? Should the created work ever "return to the commons" and become usable by all at some point?
  11. I felt I should repost the best segment of my thread on cartels and such because it was at the heart of what I was getting to... Does a society of individual rights always guarantee making the best choices? The perfect Tragedy of the Commons example is enviromentalist things. This is not really something you can implement one person at a time. I can choose not to pollute my neighbors water as an individual, but a factory in order to lower the costs of production to the absolute minimum is not going to care about dumping anything into the air, water, or soil. It cant really afford to. Some consumers will choose "green" products, we already know that is a minority, and statistically they only pay about a 5% premium for something less horrifically damaging, when the costs of production that can be saved by running dirty could be 50% or more. You could argue that markets will solve everything. If the local Union Carbide gives me cancer, you could argue that nobody should be forced at gunpoint to provide free medical care for me because that is a violation of their individual rights, but I wouldn't have the cancer without Union Carbide, and I was not consulted by or in contract with Union Carbide to work there or accept the risks of their presence. Is it an individual right to pollute? To destroy sustainability? To harm third parties who are neither producer nor consumer taking part in a free market contract between the two of them? Some things only pollute a more local area, other things can pollute the entire world, literally. Genetically modified pharma crops as an example, plant them in one field, and the pollen contaminates neighboring fields, which then contaminates others, I remember hearing that 60-90% of all corn, soya, and some other crops have been GMO contaminated, it's also the reason for colony collapse disorder/the bees dying out which is having ecological repercussions elsewhere. There are serious health concerns that show up, and you can no longer choose not to eat them as a market choice. You could say choose not to eat corn, but what happens when ALL crops have GMO varieties that contaminate everything? What if you have allergies to other foods? Companies like monsanto have literally bragged that their market model is to poison the world with contaminated crops so that everyone has to pay them IP royalties. Even if you overturned the patent law you still have everyone getting sick. Unlike the examples of oil companies seeking monopolies who have to buy things out, these kind of monopolies are actual real risks because they spread automatically in nature. Finally after reading more of CAUI I can agree that noncoercive monopolies are not a market failure, but do people believe that market failures are impossible in Objectivism? That no matter what it is, that the free market can and always will provide it better, for cheaper, safer, and healthier, with less ultimate risk than a government doing it? Is there any situation in which regulation is actually appropriate ever to try and prevent predatory abuses or which harm and undermine the society or the survival of the nation in which Objectivism would be implimented? Should it be free market to sell the secrets of the nation to an outside hostile nation that desires to destroy it?
  12. Bribing a policeman to not enforce a law perhaps? Or to falsely investigate a killing so I can carry out a mafia hit to slowly institute a protection racket? Profit is much less without "illegal" drugs and working for the government but maybe they have funding from outside and want to see the society fall. Sure it would be good for you, unless it was a price war intended to monopolize, selling oil at 50 cents a gallon only to later hold the economy hostage at $50 dollars a gallon due to sudden predatory impulse. The market would eventually fix the problem, but damage would be done. Possibly catastrophic damage. What if the army paid to protect the nation in a free market suddenly held it hostage and demanded triple the wages to fight off the invader? And I dont know if i'm proposing i'm the one who is saying what an artificial price is. Making the government responsible for protecting people from human-on-human predation only creates a bunch of people who blame the government if it cant foresee everything and who have no ability to judge for themself what is dangerous. I'm aware there is no more protection than in nature which is predatory. But if it went from 50 cents to 50 gallon and it was an artificial scarcity caused by controlling the supply lines and arbitrarily shutting them off during a crisis to drive things even higher, at the very least that is extremely abusive. People would have no ability to go somewhere else for gasoline during the crisis - the market would eventually provide a solution if it was a chronic problem and they would likely not allow that to happen again. Maybe predatory abuses NEED to happen, because they are inevitable, to shock people with their horror in the media so they wont happen. That is an acceptable answer if you want to give it, I was just hoping for better if there is one. Let me put it another way, what if you were going under anaesthetic for an appendectomy, and you were aroused during the middle of it to be told "were almost out of anaesthesia, and to have enough to finish the surgery you need to sign over your house because the new price is 100x the old price", would you view that as a free and fair contract? You aren't threatening violence or fraud afterall, just refusing to continue to work. Some may say yes, that youre responsible for being so paranoid you can percieve absolutely every possible abuse and extortion that can be used against you. I'm not suggesting gangsterism is a sustainable way to run a business, nor good "branding" once word got out of what you done. What i'm saying is if there is nothing preventing it (other than contracts the size of an encyclopedia which still have teams looking for exploitable loopholes), then you may have certain superpredators who will make it their goal to make one good somehow legal financial killing and then settle down for life. Get the billionaire under anaesthesia and take everything just because nobody ever expected such unprofessional abusiveness. Why not? It's free contract, right? I'm playing devil's advocate. I have legitimate concerns that i'm hoping are proven wrong through enlightened answers. Maybe these things would only happen if people were pathologically cowlike and failed to have the proper wariness necessary to survive in a society without protectors or safety nets. Perhaps the problem would eugenically solve itself within a few generations. Yes that's a quote from the book. See my above medical example for perhaps the most extreme case I can think of. The answer is probably simple but I can't put my finger on it or put it into words. :-/ I guess what i'm really asking is whether there is ever a case for regulated anything - whether health, safety and other standards should all be voluntary market compliance and free choice. Whether police and military forces should be hired by the 'state', or whether there should be absolutely no state at all and just hired private police and mercenaries. (the danger I see being that mercenaries historically arent very trustworthy and dont have the love for country or self sacrifice that nationalistic statist armies Espirit de Corps) What happens when individual rights destroy the very society they live in. Does my right to play my stereo at 130db outside still apply at 3am? Does my right to hold a KKK rally still apply in front of the holocaust memorial? I'm not saying they shouldn't and i'm not saying they should, i'm trying to have a discussion. Black markets would be markets that are illegal. Nuclear weapons, child prostitution (if youre not against prostitution and youre not against child labor laws it would be legal), murder for hire (pretty sure that would be illegal to solicit violence in an objectivist society, but a market could still exist for it - jilted lovers and by definition it would be illegal). Would you argue that one should have the right to purchase a nuclear weapon as an individual right because it's their personal responsibility not to misuse it, and that the society cant forbid it because it has no right to regulate or forbid trade? An individual consumer with the ability to choose, exactly once. After which a free media would have such an uproar that the market would scramble to provide alternatives because nobody would do business with the thug. I'm just saying the danger is still there without regulation. It may be that that is a preferable danger to the danger of government regulation since the dangers of government are worse - the corruption of Stalin killed 20 million, but I find myself whether there should be a free an open market for things that primarily have a purpose in say, extortion or terrorism. What if I was a capitalist willing to sell guns and weapons to the looters and rioters that wanted to storm Hank Rearden's factory, isnt that kind of undermining things? Should I be able to secretly release a disease, and then hold a monopoly on the cure, saying it's fair and free contract even though you wouldn't have had the sickness or even needed my product without me extorting it? Rand understands markets, but whether she understands criminology i'm not as sure. Yes I am aware of that, but there are situations where the herd of people can still be manipulated. Enviromental standards are not really something you can put to a free and open market. You have a race to the bottom, a tragedy of the commons, where everyone pollutes because to clean things up would cost more, and so the herd makes a poor choice that individuals would never make. I tried to give what I felt were some more specific examples. One i'll post in it's own topic if it isn't answered here, what about a case like genetically modified food crops? Should that be sold on the open market because it's an individual right to choose to buy it or not? When the problem is that they cross contaminate everyone else's fields and have severe health side effects that the companies have struggled to keep suppressed with thug like behavior? If your neighbor plants GMO it could wipe out your organic farm for instance, is it their right to plant seed that has such effects? I would not support a state existing to steal my neighbor's profit and deliver it to me but if my neighbor is doing something that will sicken me like dumping mercury into the water table and there's nowhere else to move because everyone everywhere is dumping different poisons elsewhere in the name of industrial production... The purpose of objectivist society is to supposedly raise us above the level of nature where violence and retaliation rules the normal order of things and to protect individual rights. It is, in essence, an attempt to prevent organized crime and violent thuggery. The question is that if the crime and thuggery simply evolves to be more sophisticated and still cause the same effects by doing a workaround to every limiting law, does an objectivist society attempt to evolve new laws to stop the thuggery or does it stay as it is? It's utopian to believe that criminals wouldn't try to take things over, it just takes a smarter breed of criminal and human predator. The reason I mention social darwinism elsewhere is that if the freedoms of the society lead to it's own downfall what was the point. It may be there is no way to prevent abuse and corruption any more than there is a way to prevent eventually having an injury or getting a disease, and that objectivism provides not only the best possible tools for fighting it if so but also the only moral way of fighting it. If thats just an inevitability that's fine and maybe a series of horrors is inevitable because statism only prevents one horror to create an often worse one. I dont know if Rand predicted things quite like we have now. A bridge of Rearden metal possibly collapsing and killing a trainload of people is not the same as genetically poisoning the entire planet, or carrying out bioweapon research without safety controls that could infect the majority of the world if it got out. Hopefully a world of economic freedom and without state sponsored coercion everyone would have more interest in creation and at worst hedonism than in figuring out ways to game the system because it's easier to get ahead legitimately than to figure out a borderline criminal way to do so. In no way am I suggesting I would rather live in a statist controlling society. I am saying this is the weight of arguments against objectivist laissez faire societies for which so far i've had no counterargument.
  13. Self explanatory question, Atlas Shrugged left me with some mixed feelings by what I felt was implied, ie - when they were in Galt's Gulch and a car was rented, and Miss Taggart asked in shock why he couldn't have just borrowed the car, and the response was the only word banned was 'Give'. This would seem to be anti-charity, even in the case of someone being a friend and you wanting to help them for your own selfish values. I'm aware that elsewhere Rand says charity could exist but it wouldn't be compulsory, I just find whats implied in Atlas Shrugged to be confusing or maybe I don't fully understand it.
  14. I decided to spin off one of the biggest developing questions I had from my "a few problems" thread to here since i'm assuming initial readers to my first post probably completely missed the later clarifications, and this is one that's really bugging me. I'm reading thru Capitalism An Unknown Ideal so if this is already answered in later parts (or another book) let me know, i've only just started. I'm still seeing a problem with preventing abusiveness. Not so much force or fraud, but what I would best describe as a systematic abusiveness, an attitude of interaction that manages to stay just shy of actual force or fraud (ie the specific crimes for which violent retaliation is called for by police in an objectivist society) while still amounting to organizational intimidation and similar. It includes a willingness to do either crimes with a low risk of getting caught (such as bribery over small things) unless there is a police state surveillance society Panopticon attempting to prevent it. Such systematic abusiveness would often go hand in hand with extreme excesses of capital and monopoly positions in the market, or alternately cartels which either maintain artificially high prices or which maintain a simultaneously but artificially low standard in say safety or health due to various market barriers to entry to keep their profits up. An example would be a cartel of Big Oil maintaining artificially high prices, the moment a new wildcatter brings an independant oil operation online, the cartel deliberately crashes the prices to below the costs of doing business to wipe out the competitor, then jacks up the price to way above what a truly free market is likely to pay. Another example would be Walmart shutting down a store the moment the workers got unionized. Although unions arent de-facto banned, the message to other Walmart workers considering starting a union is very very clear. I do not see any protections or preventions against this in an Objectivist society so far. (I am refraining from the followup "so clearly the GOVERNMENT shoul..." because that's not what i'm either wanting to believe or suggesting.) On a related note even if we eliminate the most common sources of funding for organized crime (a topic briefly covered in my other thread on "a few problems") which are namely 1) governments themself, using confiscatory taxation, and a monopoly of force controlled by legalized bribery buying political pull/"permission to do business"/seizure of competitors, or 2) unnecessary black markets in particular high profit high demand things like drugs you would starve alot of it but it could have funding from offshore looting elsewhere to stay afloat meanwhile. I'm trying to figure out how an objectivist society would deal with the problem. Would it deal with it the same way that libertarians would? (I could argue the freedoms of a libertarian system might bring it down, my comment that free markets never remain free, but thats attacking libertarianism, Objectivism may be different) This comes back to my questions about social darwinism, and whether an objectivist society would be the most resilent or survivable community under what we might call extremely hostile human-caused conditions and even to the levels of an organized covert war or military assault attempting to undermine such a community/nation/state. (but please dont only answer this, also comment on my concepts of abusive competition or de facto monopolies) Note - i'm not suggesting a government initiating force arbitrarily, nor even in line with some 'precrime prevention' pseudo-legal excuse is better. It seems far more often that government agencies dedicated to preventing bad stuff end up utterly corrupt and eliminating the real competition (ie - DEA agents selectively enforcing on those not a part of the cartel not even realize why theyre being told let this plane go, let that one go, now fly in and stop the third one only - see the film American Drug War, or the FDA going after herbal remedies that have killed nobody while Vioxx was still on the shelf after tens of thousands of deaths) i'm aware government intervention seems to only make things far worse. It may be a situation that there is no real governmental answer to, and the remaining personal and community answers are similarily impotent with nothing to be done. Or that it will exist under capitalism still but be less voracious and more limited than other other government systems. Thats an acceptable answer, but i'm hoping there is a better one.
  15. Fairly self explanatory, a spinoff from my "A few problems" thread. Would black markets even exist in an Objectivist society or would everything be legal? (prostitution, "consensual" child sex, jet fighters, atomic bombs, whatever you wanted to buy. Yes that is inflammatorily worded to show the extremity of the concept and to discourage someone from just saying its all legal in a drive by post without thinking.) Would the black markets of a libertarian society be different than an objectivist society? Would the police in an objectivist society handle black markets differently than current mixed economy police practices? Even if we throw out an obvious trouble causing concept like the stupid drug war, i'm sure there would still be a market for contract murder from jealous lovers or weapons for looters or most likely of all some hostile external force trying to pervert the Objectivist society so that it could be looted like all other nations have been, and then that market would be filled by organized crime, as it is in every society. Also see spinoff post on organized crime. I'm not saying a command and control economy is better, laissez faire capitalism would probably alot less crime than we have in places of government corruption, punishing the producers, artificial scarcity to control populations (I read a book somewhere on communism where they actually WANTED the long lines and shortages to make people feel more dependant on the state), victim disarmament, confiscatory taxation, wealth redistribution to nonproducers, victimless crimes, entitlement mentalities, dumbing down the populations to make them more pliable to social engineers, etc etc etc but crime would still exist in some form even if primarily from outside hordes probing the system for weaknesses. So i'm wondering if Objectivism has any unique solutions to these problems. (this is in relation to my initial fears of a "police state" objectivism, as being a necessary response to outside hostile forces attempting to subvert and destroy an objectivist society, I fear it would have to degrade into that, and even if the blame for the failure of that society would be on the looters who raided it that doesnt mean its prevented from degrading to that.) Repeated again is my question, where and when and why should markets ever be regulated, or should two people be prevented from carrying out a contract they made freely due to risks/dangers/costs of either harming others or even bringing down the whole society?
  16. I guess I might be posting new "rounds" if I feel I need to take the topic in a different direction than the previous thread allowed, and as my own understanding increases. As a case in point, i've been slowly working through Capitalism: An Unknown Ideal and finding it to answer some of the lingering questions. I had previously obsessively reread Atlas Shrugged and perused the Fountainhead, along with some secondhand webpage arguments for or against Objectivism, and gotten involved in discussions with self-proclaimed Objectivists who claimed to understand it better than I did. I'm now seeing the need to read further because i'm seeing lines of thought explored that weren't directly covered. (such as the notion of big governments CAUSING war because of being able to afford to fight it frivolously, and to keep the 'loot' as profit) and even if I am not sure whether I automatically have faith in the opposite (that an all volunteer army is always going to have enough staffing, training, funding, and equal effectiveness) I can at least come to a clearer delineation in my thoughts as to what it is i'm having hangups about. Perhaps the hangups will be answered by reading everything Rand wrote, perhaps not, but I still have a compulsive itch to talk about the process as I go. If for no other reason than to understand the changes in my own psychology occurring. A couple things i'm definately learning so far: - Most of the arguments against Objectivism are from the howling mob of looters whose survival is dependant on the looter mentality - Many of the semi legitimate sounding arguments against Objectivism are by people that are attacking a misrepresentation of Objectivism (example being using examples of 'capitalist abuses' like using governments to maintain monopolies that couldn't exist without government help, which by definition is not Objectivism) who are seeing an assumed weakness in one part and not understanding that it is an entire system of rich well reasoned and precise thought - There is alot of disagreement over seemingly minor things (to outsiders) who fail to understand the significance and importance of a certain stance or attitude (for instance someone who doesnt see the big deal of just a 'tiny little tax' on the most extremely rich is such a big deal, or an absolute zero tolerance towards "compromise with evil") which I am starting to see as necessary to that system, just like an intolerance to pollution in drinking water or poison injected into a body should be violently resisted as well but some people are so used to drinking and being injected with poison they "dont see why its such a big deal". I haven't rigorously tested every axiom or argument yet but i'm perceiving that it is a categorically different kind of thought from what the mindless argue. - There are people elsewhere who claim to be or understand Objectivism who neither understand it nor follow it and when I argue with them I get a distorted view of what Objectivism actually is So let me try either other angles or rephrases of some of my original arguments... Upon getting into CAUI i'm now seeing just how moral Objectivism really is. Many of the arguments made of government doing something that protects us in reality cause more problems, sometimes not immediately but in the long term or through later abuses that only become apparent with time. The "cure" is worse than the poison even if one admits the poison is something bad, the biggest argument is what to do about it and whom is responsible for doing something about it. No system can perfectly prevent all injustice or harm (for instance a musician having an accident and losing the use of his hands and therefore his means of livelihood - in an objectivist system there is no government safety net) Any system trying to get help for injustice occurring to someone cannot morally extract that assistance by force at the point of a gun, and it becomes a slippery slope if a people can be sold on the first extreme argument to allow such a thing. Since Objectivism makes the individual responsible, about everything, just like they are in nature, so he or she is going to have to internalize a sense of wariness, responsibility and taking proactive action regarding every potential threat and possible outcome. Making the government responsible only leads to a dependance mentality, howls of rage when the government fails to set aside enough wheat reserves or have a fast enough ambulance system, howls of wasted money when the crises does not materialize every year, and a high susceptibility to political gamesmanship whenever the failures of either doing too much/spending too much or doing too little are harped on by the incumbents and a generalized degradation of society. It's difficult to realize how much i've been "institutionalized" in thinking at least when i'm doing it in realtime. If there is some kind of threat from nature, like a natural disaster or interruption in infrastructure, I used to react like most whiny people, "well what is the government going to do about it?" Now i'm starting to ask "what am _I_ going to do about it?" but then I realize the handicapping even further when my next thoughts are still about who do I need to get permission from to find out what i'm allowed to do without breaking some arbitrary law. This is a completely different type of thought, that's why there is no compromise possible with the other type of thought. You cant mix oil and water any more than you can mix personal responsibility and still be blaming others, any attempt to do so will be forced, temporary, probably ineffective, and more likely to lead to not only the disempowerment of individuals but the entire society. Yet at the same time I realize there are potential problems so that's my first argument... STAKEHOLDERS What happens when my personal actions affect the safety or health of others who are not parties to the contract? What if my decision to deal with riots is to store millions of rounds of ammo to sell to others to stop looting, and I have an accident which wipes out a city block? Or what if my genset is too loud and affects the neighbors? Or what if my ammonia-based air conditioning system has a leak and the poison gasses kill the neighbors? This is a situation of neither initiating force nor committing fraud. Dont limit answers exclusively to the easier to deal with physical things, this is a question of where and when should government ever regulate the actions of others. The same can be extrapolated to anything. I simply build a factory, but maybe its not very safe. I can argue I am hiring people in free contract, they can accept or reject. Every other industrialist probably is doing things just as unsafely however. What you have is a cultural inertia, it costs money to change, but without consumers paying more the funds may not be there even if the workers strike. You could dare say this is the one and only legitimate argument that the communists/socialists have ever made about how many people 'capitalism kills' uncaringly. Look at Union Carbide in Bhopal India for an example. (even if the socialists often result in even worse pollution, safety and deaths by scarcity later, the point is that it seems to be a better solution to some on the short term presentation) There seem to be certain social changes, that one could argue are beneficial to everyone, that can't seem to come without "forceful" regulation from government making it happen. You might even say that the baseline scientific research proving such things are harmful wouldn't even get done in a capitalistic society. (I am not arguing for regulation - rather I havent heard any enlightened counterarguments yet in my reading) Next point is that if all that is up to the individual to choose to behave in an enlightened manner, subscribing to a science society that does health and safety research, choosing carefully to only work at a safer factory, that is fine for the individual but what about those who dont? FAMILY One thing that strikes me is that alot of the "failures" of an Objectivist society would come down to parents damning their own children by making poor choices, or raising children with poor or foolish attitudes and poor problem solving ability. It seems very easy for parents to utterly screw up their kids. (I say this coming from an utterly screwed up family btw) Yet i'm not sure what the solution is. The argument of a government intervening to guarantee a certain "minimum education" or healthcare or freedom from poverty sounds like a good idea, but fails to answer whose work will be providing those services and whether those services are extracted at gunpoint, or rather bought on the free market and the taxes to pay for those services extracted at gunpoint including from those who are childless by choice. Any comments? I may split further diversions off onto their own topics hoping to lure in readers who probably abandoned my original post thinking it was crap and so didn't see any followups, if thats permissible in the board.
  17. Umm... okay excellent point. Also interesting the separation between immorality and illegality, thats' getting me thinking in a new way. Organized crime operates off of illicit profits. Things being illegal that shouldn't be being one favorite, and taking over governments since that is a centralization of both forcefully confiscated money and the ability to write laws backed up by force no matter how stupid they are. With the two favorite sources of funding gone, it would seem to have to resort to either direct thievery to survive (murder for hire, robbery - things by and large seriously hampered by private gun ownership and made near impossible by legitimate constitutional militas) or of course attempting to take over and subvert the society to "compromise with evil" and agree to give the state the power to coerce or regulate. Whether for taxes, or "the common good", or the benefit of some allegedly needy group. And i'm still waiting for most of them to be answered by anybody. It's been a month. I may post separate topics with some of them to bring back in readers who may have bailed early thinking my post was dumb but I didn't want to spam the board. Interesting! Would like to hear more about how Libertarianism is not Objectivism - i've often heard people say they are very close, just like someone for reduced government may consider libertarians alot closer than socialists or communists, but there are certain things Objectivism is very adamant about which give it a very different internal structure and attitude. (for instance, reading Capitalism Unknown Ideal about capitalism being worthy of arguing for on a moral basis, and not because it is benefiical to say technological progress in society and creating wealth for all, pointing out that beneficial to society is not a morality because it is an arbitrary grouping of individuals. Though i'm not sure about the commandment - stealing would be about force or fraud and prevented by an objectivist state (I assume or I would hope so) and whether someone doesn't steal from me because they think its moral not to, or because they think God would dislike them, or because they are afraid of government doesn't make alot of difference to me. So long as there is a deterrence to stealing, the society should hopefully work. I guess thats part of my emphasis on practicality. A morality that is exclusively a philosophy of "why you should do X" which has no personal benefit seems to be a poor survival adaption, anything that is a poor survival adaption will not live long. An example might be the Shakers who didn't believe in having children, and now are dying out because there are no children to carry on the culture. Part of my questioning was to figure out whether Objectivism is really the best survival adaption for both individuals and communities to take. Again i'm asking questions from a social darwinist perspective more than a morality perspective, even though the morality is admirable and sensible the more I understand it. My reasoning is that if looting-based "mixed economies", war looting and state sponsored scientific research are more effective at making societies good at surviving, then they are abhorrent but necessary just like any other animal adaption to the world that may seem horrible or bizarre is necessary. If a nation of enlightened individualists FAIL to protect themselves from predatory superstates, fail to outcompete it in markets including ones starting from an unfair base, fail to survive threats by both other men and nature better, then Atlas Shrugged is nothing more than a caricature of wishful thinking, a straw man argument. (ie - a John Galt would never exist, and would never have a technological superiority over the looter governments) The belief that such a state will eventually collapse (as in Atlas Shrugged) may be correct, or it may be a fallacy (the ruthless men of the mind running the looter state may keep it going), but that will be little consolation to the dead inhabitants of a burned out Galt's Gulch. Does anyone see better what and why i'm arguing yet?
  18. I have listened to Galt's speech in audiobook version over and over, just like d'Anconia slyly talking in Galt's direction at the party about watching money from my audiobook version dozens of times because I am simply spellbound and enthralled by the precision and clarity of words and rhetoric which I hear there. Again, I find absolutely nothing to disagree with in what i've read of Rand so far. I am so enthralled that I want to find other Objectivists and would join an intentional community of them if someone offered me a plane ride to Galt's Gulch. That being said... I don't in my mind see anything that i've said so far to be me "not getting it" though or not agreeing with it, except in stating what i've read doesn't seem to answer to my satisfaction. I can get frustrated when someone quotes me something in seeming answer that isn't at all what I was asking, even if it's my fault for not asking or describing more clearly at the outset, so all I can do is try again until we both agree what i'm really trying to say or state. I think I understand at least the part of the philosophy laid out in just Atlas Shrugged well enough to quote it back in most situations to most people, i've listened to the unabridged audiobook multiple times and certain segments where key philosophy was laid out a dozen plus times. I agree with it enough that I can say it with conviction, from a moral standpoint, as invalidating every morality given me my entire life which involves me belonging to others or some mystical force and being their sacrificial lamb. I can honestly say that I would now die to uphold such a belief in freedom and my own self determination, even if the rest of the world said I was wrong in putting myself as a core Value for which I am willing to fight for struggle and protect. So please don't take my observations and problems lightly. Just realize that i'm stuck in a process and i'm still learning to discriminate between which disagreements are really my own Mind, vs those put there by the religious or socialist argument of others just camoflaguing as something else without me realizing it. At this point the only disagreements I am even considering valid are those based on implementation. It's not enough to simply quote Rand or hold up a piece of paper with a legal edict telling a corrupt official "What you are doing is illegal", I am trying to figure out how to actually implement an intentional community and preemptively observing what problems are going to pop up or what the greatest risks to survival would be. What i'm realizing is that when I have a problem or observation that isnt answered either I don't understand what Rand's answer is to certain things, or she has no answer (which is fine, she isn't required to answer everything in every field), or some problems are inherently unsolvable but her answer is the most effective answer available, or the fourth possibility that I would disagree with her answer because I don't believe it would work (the "its utopian" argument). Every one of my problems or observations probably fits into one of these four categories, and i'm not sure which is which yet. The best thing people can probably do is to try and paraphrase back what they THINK i'm saying or asking or observing and which of those categories you think the argument is really from (or if there is a fifth category I dont even know about yet), then we will see if we are on the same page. So far the only thing that gives me some concern is that I dont simply want to memorize and parrot Rand's answers to everything, rather I want to go through the process of discovery and validation of each observation she makes. What makes Objectivism compelling to me is not that Ayn Rand said it and is worthy of worship and cannot ever be questioned, but that the observations she makes about so many things are so accurate and powerfully lead one towards certain conclusions because I have already seen the axioms proven endlessly in my own life in my interactions with others. Others have complained that Rand attacks caricatures/extreme examples of people that don't exist in the real world, I disagree. I came from a very religious and liberal leftwing upbringing and most of the people i've known in my life could be exact plugins of characters of the socialist mindset Rand is attacking. I am thankful to Rand for finally giving me a self-centric memetic immune system - so that now when I hear someone argue out of social guilt or religious edict, I can shoot it full of holes and not be carried down that line of thinking. I'm finally DONE with that crap, and i'm happy about it. Rand's arguments have allowed me to purge from myself any cultural system which demands I become the sacrificial lamb for it. So what i'm feeling is that i'm finally at the footsteps of philisophically getting somewhere instead of mulling around in kindergarten like most of the rest of humanity caught up in their religious falsities or social coercion telling me i'm a milk cow to be sucked off. But... When I try and figure out how to MAKE THIS REAL that is actually be a part of an objectivist society in reality (because I feel that even if it had problems it would treat me far better than my experiences so far in other intentional communities or playing out social theories have, where if I produce i'm rewarded and if I dont I get immediate feedback) whether it's an attempt to reengineer existing society or create an intentional community via separatism, I seem to encounter a number of problems. My choices are either "shut it off and dont care" or to see whether there are actually any valid observations within either the feeling i'm considering something wrong or the disagreements which are not simply the arguments of looters or moochers. The only reason I haven't chosen the shut it off side so far is I want to be sure that something is absolutely invalid before I permanently disregard it. I can permanently disregard the arguments of looters and moochers, I can permanently disregard the demand of others that I be a sacrificial lamb or that I hold up the world for them. I have absolutely no problem with that. But I am not so sure on some other areas, that's why i'm posting here. I'm not convinced my arguments are invalid or were properly answered, just perhaps either misunderstood or poorly worded by me, where I admit i'm trying to put words to something I haven't figured out how to explain yet so i'm just using either arguments i've lost with others or examples so far trying to illustrate a problem I see. It may take several evolutions of this conversation though before I can state more clearly though exactly what i'm trying to say. I am curious about what I call the "failure modes" of an Objectivist society, every which way it could possibly be made to fail either intentionally or by accident from without or within, for the exclusive purpose of trying to engineer protections against exactly those failures, so that it would not just be an idealistic flash in the pan like many 60's intentional communities were, because they were idealistic - just communistic leftist idealistic. I have to be sure that objectivism wouldn't fail because it's idealistic or delusional in some way that's not immediately obvious, the theories of communism seemed reasonable to those that followed it afterall, because we are always blind to the achilles heel that brings us down. Therefore I test things, I push and prod at seeming or possible weak points to see if they will hold or whether the protections offered are actually illusory. Afterall, Existance Exists. We either understand how things really work and act in accordance with it, or we act in violation of it and have consequences teach us that we were dumb and delusional. The only questions are whether or not Rand was 100% accurate in her logic, 100% wide ranging in her observation of all relevant factors, 100% inclusive of all other options in her analysis of alternatives, 100% proper in her judgement of what the cores, keys, and driving factors are behind the success or failure of not only her own system but others she analyzed and rejected, 100% comprehensive in either explaining all of these factors to others (or alternately in teaching the seeds from which you can find your own answers, which is what i'm really looking for), etc. There, now you know a bit more about me, and hopefully you'll give me some slack and the ability to struggle to restate observations and concerns on things until they are more focused than before. If I don't get the kind of responses i'm looking for to this series of comments, i'll probably take a month off and work through some more Rand before returning with a new angle.
  19. I guess what i'm saying is that I wonder whether a society based on Objectivism would either be 1) just as corruptable as any existing system we have, or 2) have to degenerate into a police state to insure that consequences always come to those who act with fraud or violence against others. Yes, thats what i'm trying to put words to, thank you. I'm not trying to argue for circular logic. I'm struggling to put words to a bunch of feelings thoughts and concepts that I don't yet have the precision of words or argument to flesh out yet. Let me try another angle: I fear that an Objectivist society, would be forced to make moral compromises with it's own philosophy in order to survive. So which is more important, the survival of an Objectivist society, or respecting the ideals even if it destroys the society? As to what is better, does OBjectivism see itself as a pinnicle incapable of further evolution or improvement, ie - a perfect system? Or does it see itself as a transitional system better than the crap we have now, but which may need modifications to still survive or function later? A system that would insure enforcement of all laws for all crimes and abuses with a high degree of reliability would seem to require alot more surveillance to insure that people don't get away with crimes simply because there weren't enough witnesses. But i'll let that point slide for now, it just "seems" this way to me right now but that could be because of the emotional influence of others trying to argue me against objectivism. Read, and I understand, and agree with Rand's observations, much as I have agreed with all of her observations on everything i've heard an observation on so far. So please stop me where you think I go off the rails here: I guess one of the problems i'm having, and as another example of utopianism, and you can interrupt me where I take the left turn, is that an Objectivist state is going to have to have more firepower (in whatever way) than those that would threaten to undermine it from outside or inside. If a rioting mob of starving communists want to loot Henry Rearden's steel mill, the state is going to have to have the power to repel that, otherwise it doesn't have credibility that it's protecting people from violence and fraud. The state is always going to have to be smarter than the predators from outside that want to game or abuse the system for self gain otherwise it wont last long. Now the dumb mob tries to loot Henry Rearden's steel mill directly. The smart clever mob would try and use the state to it's own ends. Perhaps i'm not being clear so far, but my argument is not against the philosophy that the state should be objective in all things, but rather the practicality of how you actually make it work. What I am arguing against so far are not failures of philosophy (to have a response that is moral, or a judgement about the proper place of government) but a question of how you actually institute or grow such a system. I'll expand if I have to or give examples. I have read the ideas being presented. I agree with the morality completely so far. On paper the philosophy seems wonderful so far. What I don't see are ways to implement it or make it practically work in the real world of rogue state predators and organized crime without violating the very ideals it claims to stand for. I guess part of my frustration is when people tell me to read Rand's quote on something and I find it doesnt answer what I was asking at all because the person seemed to think I was asking a question about "what government SHOULD do" rather than "how do you actually do this without it going bad". By mental illness I mean either an "everyone who disagrees with me is automatically an idiot" attitude i've met in some. Sometimes I agree that some people are just in denial and it's time to walk away, but i've seen it also used as an excuse the moment they get frustrated too. I wonder whether there are certain psychological (not moral) dangers in objectivist theory. Oops yes thats what it was, sorry. I guess it was part of my point about psychological dangers of objectivism. Although my feelings about the socialist christians I know who use guilt and fear of god to manipulate me and others in the past have changed after reading Atlas Shrugged, I know darn well I could leave money on the table without counting it when they visit and it will all be there when I get back. In a society where everyone knows there is no god watching, and nobody cares about how good of a person you are, and the only way to meet your needs is money, I think I would have to be alot more careful. What stops the force of the police killing you is threat of counter-force, the same thing that stops any tyrant, not rule of law. You could have the law say taking bribes is illegal, and if there is a protection racket (like in mexico) it doesn't matter. Simply saying "governments job is to only do what we say" doesnt make it happen, there has to be teeth in the "contract". What i'm discussing here is not philosophy on morality or the proper role of government, but an observation of cultural degeneracy. I know that Rand argues that "any compromise between good and evil can only result in evil". Probably all of my issues so far don't so much come from the basis of disagreeing with her philosophy about the role of government or moral behavior, as much as whether such a single-mindedly hard line absolute rule will result in the most effective and competitive society. (in a social darwinism sense) It's not that i'm arguing for morally compromising with evil, i'm asking YOU and others to tell me what you do when there is some other factor (psychology, the survival of the state itself, cultural consequences, eugenic consequences) which seems to apply so much pressure on the other side of the argument that refusing to compromise seems to guarantee the destruction of the society. Do you stick with the ideal even if everyone creating the alternative ends up dead? Or is a temporary compromise for the purpose of survival, with eyes on the ideal goal which is still sought unceasingly what one does? Social darwinism would seem to favor the latter society rather than the former. (this is another example of what I meant by "utopian" I guess.) I know that. I fully agree with that. I guess what i'm saying is "do the principles of objectivism actually result in a successful objectivist society in the end?" Does the dogged fixation on philosophy and morality to the total 100% complete exclusion of everything else (ignoring politics, ignoring protections against military conquest or foreign spies which undermine freedom, etc) , actually succeed in creating a society of freedom and capitalism? I'm not trying to argue for compromise, even though i'm putting some weighty things on the side of compromise or in support of it. What i'm wanting to find out is that i'm wrong! :-/ I'm playing devil's advocate here. How do you make an objectivist society work in the real world and not just on paper? Rand has made very compelling arguments, I want to see them in reality. I'm trying to figure out how to actually do it though. Okay using 'origin' is a poor example. I guess I was trying to argue that the feelings seem to be fueled by being a backlash to 2000 years of social and religious control or that it is a heavy driving force. I do not believe Rand would have developed her ideas to the level she did if not constantly confronted by endless pleas of religious or social guilt, I guess i'm saying that because i've had an extreme overabundance of those in my life and so found Rand's concepts to put words to feelings i've been struggling with for years because something similar was already brewing. I'm not sure I agree. Take the nuclear waste dumper - he offers to get rid of nuclear waste inside an objectivist society, the other party can refuse or accept. Consideration is in the payment for dumping the nuclear waste. Legal intent, well, I guess the question is would it be illegal to dump nuclear waste outside the community where it may affect 'people' but nobody in the society? Capacity, both the nuclear power plant and the nuclear dumper can argue they are of sound mind. Whats MISSING is the consent of the third party - those who are affected indirectly by the decision, but are not a part of the decision. Two parties can make a contract that harms others all the time. I'm also aware that nearly anyone can make a claim they are unfairly affected by something and this creates a slippery slope of "what nonproducing party arbitrarily decides who has a rightful claim?" and i'm not suggesting that is better. This was the whole point of the example. It was intended to get an example of "when do third parties matter, if ever?" It's also the argument that if 100% of all humans on the planet will be protected by an objectivist government (which is fine if that is the goal, just state the goal is global objectivist government) from such abuses, what does the society do when it is too small to have such global reach? Thats why I gave the slavery type examples, is it considered free contract if you benefit from or buy the services of someone who basically stole what they have from others in the outside non-objectivist world?
  20. It's liberation of the self and the assertion that the Self is a legitimate Value, even the primary value in anyone's life. That none of us have any moral obligation to be the sacrificial lamb to be used and then thrown away regardless of whether those demanding the sacrifice are claiming either religious moral grounds, or social "for the benefit of all you have to be sacrificed" grounds. Besides which being extremely impressed by the precision of words and argument which Ayn Rand has laid out and how compellingly she supports her position. I'm aware some of my "examples" sound twisted, thats because i've been having these exact arguments with... well, with friends from church so far, who say they read Atlas Shrugged before and werent impressed by it. I didn't say I understood all of Objectivism, just that I had read Atlas Shrugged, and some online articles or conversations about it so far and thats about it. These are the kind of arguments they are hitting me with, they are using them as examples of either selfishness or extreme moral indifference to economics, and they are saying this is the slippery slope it leads down and why it is a "null and void philosophy that goes nowhere" in their words. They ask me things like this and I find I have no answers, thats why i'm asking things here. I'm not seeking long drawn out debates, just trying to figure out why am I unable to answer what they are asking because i'm not sure what material to use. :-/ For what it's worth Atlas Shrugged has changed me in such a way that I will probably end up leaving everyone I know at church because I can no longer believe the things I used to believe primarily out of social pressure and coercion. I'm just still having some "last discussions" with the people whom I was still friends with while there. Thats the argument I was shot down with "that Objectivism wouldnt oppose anything based on moral reasons, only economic ones, so lets use a horrible example and see if your logic still holds up." What I wanted to say is that the state would protect individual rights, but that only applies inside the society where those who operated under objectivist principles had a social contract to do so. How do you deal with "free trade with an outsider"? What if the unethical outsider shows up inside the objectivist city and wants to trade, is he banned from entering? Arrested on sight? What about a hostile foreign power like communism sending in people to allegedly do free trade, but you know the trainload of wheat they brought was extracted under slave labor? A state which was the bastion of personal freedom and personal responsibility without a nanny state would potentially threaten every other government on the planet that exists primarily by feeding off their own people. Much like there were arguments in europe that the americans couldn't be allowed to revolt against the british empire or the desire for freedom would spread like wildfire and elites everywhere would be threatened. I think there would be substantial forces attempting to undermine such a state personally, whether low level parasites (at first testing the boundaries), or organized crime that would later try to establish illegal drug smuggling, or an abusive external government that would claim the land youre staying on and say you owe taxes to say some large regional or global government demanding tribute. I don't know that the threats would continue indefinately, but in the beginning establishment of such a state I would expect challengers from all sides figuring out how to abuse the system or whether it could be abused or corrupted. I also observe that free markets never seem to remain free, once extreme wealth is accumulated, history seems to show that those with the money then set up barriers to anyone competing freely with them, and I dont see any way that an "idealistic" government could stand against a determined trillionaire with a combination of bribes and implied threats that just manage to skirt around the letter of the law and so he never quite goes to jail over it. I guess thats what I mean by "utopian", I dont see the wealthy holding up a code of fair play multigenerationally because it hasn't happened before that I know of. I also guess I see certain dangers in the "selfishness" in that if people are restrained exclusively by threat of violence from the state, that puts them in a different headspace than those who are restrained by "fear of some godly power". If there is a way to abuse or corrupt the system for self gain without high risk of getting caught they would seem to be more likely to do so? I'm arguing from psychology here, not philosophy. I'm not claiming it's better to have a mythical god threatening hell either, just making an observation that there may be psychological and systemic (risk of certain types of corruption) consequences of the philosophy that i'm not sure are fully accounted for. But that's not a part I wish to harp on, i'll try and refine my arguments better later after I do more reading, i'm just stating it in passing as a concern and where i'm arguing from. A free society seems to be one that is easy for spies to infiltrate, learn the weaknesses of, and plan ways to undermine from within or militarily attack from without. I guess I have a hard time to imagine any system that seems to be set around an ideal (preventing all force and fraud) remaining in place unless the most powerful men in that society still believed it served them or any government of employees remaining uncorruptable in a society where only money can buy the goods you need regardless of how you made that money, and the only way you could be sure money wasnt ill gotten would be to have some kind of surveillance and control grid for it like a cashless society so a black market couldn't exist. I may argue this point in a separate thread though, I just wanted to touch a bit on everything off the top of my head right now. Well it's sensible though so far I still have my remaining questions. I didn't claim I understood the philosophy solidly yet either, just that reading Atlas Shrugged made the light go on in my head for the first time. So I hope others aren't too harsh on me. They're in my reading queue. I should re-point out that these arent my beliefs, but arguments i've heard others make to me (about why they say "objectivism is stupid") that I have no answers for. It's just I asked some of the questions anyways because some people who have claimed they studied things more than me and supposedly rejected it pointed out some similar criticisms. Plus scanning synopses or chapter lists seemed to indicate certain questions probably wouldn't be answered in there yet anyways. Here's one i'll ask from another angle: Is Objectivism primarily a morality or is it believed by people here that it would be the most successful way to guarantee maximum technological development and social survival? Will respond to others in separate posts because theyre longer.
  21. First a quick introduction, i'm new here (and somewhat new to Objectivism) so I may not understand everything perfectly, feel free to correct me where i'm wrong. I consider reading Atlas Shrugged a few months back to be a life changing event in how it's started to change all of my thinking about nearly everything, there are just a few sticking points. I'll list most of them in one topic for now, since they may not even need in depth debating or argument, since i'm not out to prove anything, I don't hold any feelings too strongly or dogmatically since I view my beliefs as a process unfolding based upon information that changes the playing field. I just want to find the truth. It's just things that i've noticed so far. This isn't so much arguments against Objectivism (in the sense that arguing something else is superior) but rather problems i've encountered that I don't see it having any easy answers to, or at least that i've found so far. SOME OF MY PROBLEMS WITH OBJECTIVISM: The biggest problem is that it strikes me as utopian. By utopian I mean "requires people to be better than they've ever been before." What Rand seems to describe is a world without any kind of regulation or interference in "free contract" of any kind and motivated exclusively by selfishness. I have doubts whether such a society would actually survive multigenerationally. A few examples: - The only way to enforce Objectivist rules is basically with a total police state. The state would have to have absolute dominant power over every potential threatening force against either the state itself or the individuals within the state. Such a position of domination in the past has led to corruption 100% of the time. I see no alternative except a police state to enforce Objectivist rules of interaction, because any other society would break down if the economic differences were too profound, even if for "fair" and "moral" reasons. A police state would eventually feed on it's own people, it would not lovingly and honorably protect them from the hostiles outside - it would simply become the hostile itself, at least over time. If you don't have a police state, then it's simply a question of might makes right - if the mob ever gets well armed or organized, or intelligent while remaining socialistic, they will probably win. I have my doubts whether supermen like John Galt who have unilateral technological domination over the unwashed masses exist in the real world, and if they did they wouldn't need anyone for anything anyways. I don't see high technology normally developed by the mobs, but even if you look in the nightmare of soviet russia you see some damn clever engineering for certain things. (even if it was not "moral" to have public ownership of the mind as such) What I guess i'm saying is that I see the rules of survival to be irrelevant of "morality", Randian or otherwise. - Ive seen hubris in many Objectivist debaters when i've observed discussions as a third party. They seem to immediately accuse anyone who doesnt agree with them as being both illogical and immoral. I'm not saying that Rand didn't make appropriate judgements about why the self shouldn't be a sacrificial lamb to others, but i've seen people read the book and be "empowered" in their own seeming illogic, as if they have been given permission to judge for themself and then show others how bad their judgement really is. What i'm saying is that the worship of Mind and Logic doesn't seem to make one free from mental illness, even if it is preferable or perhaps less risky than the worship of emotional extremes and religious or social dictates. I agree with granting moral sanction that only you can judge whether something is true to you, but I still have seen some delusional idiots who claim to be objectivists and become completely impenetrable and wont hear ANY argument from anyone because they're sure everyone is stupid and evil when it's probably the other way around. - If Objectivist thought was really all cut and dried I dont see why there would be any split between different camps of Objectivists. (my understanding is there is a split between Peikoff and Rand) I see dogmatically sticking to one argument and refusing new data due to both sides claiming logical and moral perfection to be an example of the exact behavior I thought was trying to be avoided and argued against. - I see the origin of Objectivism to be a knee jerk response to a society with an over-abuse of ideas like guilt, religiously dictated morality (without explanation), socially dictated morality and culture (without personal input) intended to make the individual a slave to others. I don't know that I believe it is the most effective way for either individuals or a community to survive however. For instance, if you have a society that is exclusively protected by mercenaries (which is all the police and military can be in an Objectivist selfishness and money driven society) I don't see what prevents the mercenaries from simply turning against you because they have no higher moral order to care about. I don't see a mercenary dying for some ideal. Whereas one that is dedicated to some collectively shared ideal that people actually believe in, even if that ideal is false or engineered like "Jesus" or "the seventh generation", would refrain from predatory behavior on their own people, likely engage in sacrifical lamb behavior (Even if morally wrong) and likely guarantee survival of the group alot better. What I see in Rand is observations of technological determinism, and that positive motivation (Henry Ford paying his workers well) works better than negative motivation (Stalin threatening to send you to the gulag if you dont come up with a better jet intake design this month) for making the Mind produce, but i'm not sure whether I agree that strict capitalism would give the best results in terms of say total social technological progress rather than some mix. (and for the record I don't like saying that, it would be easier if the weight of evidence were overwhelming or everything was cut and dried) Some examples of "free market transactions" that as far as I could tell are either permissable or turn Objectivism into something else: - An unscrupulous man decides he wants to rent out his children for sex. There are willing pedophile buyers. Or lets say a man has collected human slaves from some more primitive culture, and there are willing plantation buyers. Under Objectivism it seems this is just a free market transaction and is morally okay since morality seems redefined in economic terms to mean only that which benefits you. If it's not, and someone should stop it, who is it that would stop it, the state? Even if it does stop it, the state would have to have alot of power to start meddling in others lives. - A man operating a nuclear waste disposal company engages in a contract with a nuclear power plant to get rid of their waste. He simply ships it 5000 miles away and dumps it in the aquifer of some native tribe and some local forest, because he bought the land and dug a deep well. This seems to be morally okay because it is a free contract between two individuals, right? Afterall it seems that the opinions of the potential stakeholders (those affected by a decision) are irrelevant, and simply dumping it "away from here" is alot cheaper and simpler than trying to vitrify it and bury it into a mountain where it wont hurt anyone, so the cheaper solution is chosen. This isn't an attempt to blackwash Objectivism by making some outrageous association, I used those outrageous rhetorical examples to attack the premise that capitalism will solve all of our problems which seems to be implied or stated much of the time. The responses seem to be either 1) dont view it as a problem (who cares?), 2) agree it's a problem but argue who will be enslaved either directly to work or whose taxes will be confiscated to pay for a free market individual to work to solve that problem and decide nothing should be done, 3) use regulation to prevent certain things from occuring in the first place or make it unprofitable to act unsustainably. I give these examples freely stating I don't know what the right answer is btw. If you say something is a "right" then you need a global police force to insure everyone has that right, which has to be funded, which either comes voluntarily or from taxes. Even if you dont enter into "morality" and simply enforce economic and legal contracts, you are still stating there are certain rights, you are regulating at least the performance under contract or the noninterference of third parties in a contract between two people. (such as the pedophile buying a child whore from the father above, with a third party initiating violence against the father because they find it immoral and the police state would have to respond with extreme violence since they arent a part of that contract) I see Rand make certain observations that are accurate, and certain arguments which are sound, but i'm not sure I agree with her end conclusions or that the conclusions necessarily follow from the arguments. Anyone care to comment?
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