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Peikoff For Kerry?

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I think it is this type of protest that Peikoff is denouncing, since it represents a type of moral agnostcism: a refusal to find out which of the candidates is more evil

It is more like a false dichotomy: either you vote for X or Y or be immoral. One would be justified to say that I am an agnostic whereas the candidates are concerned if I claimed that I could not say if anything of them were good or bad. But in fact, I am saying that both of them represent evil ideas that would not see America improve. Peikoff uses the word "apocalyptic" in terms of Bush's motives but I disagree for the following reasons (and those stated before). If Bush wins this election all he has again is four years to rule. Cheney is not a fundie at all. Of course, the chances are that he might change Cheney (as VP) before the 2008 elections. By that time any evil that he and his fundie crew wanted to foist on Americans would have been detected (he does not have clear way because of congress, the Constitution and fellow Republicans). I would venture to say that Democrats would take election '08 if Bush behaves "badly" in his next term (if there is one). All Peikoff has shown is that Bush's fundie base is highly energized. The fact remains that most Americans are not fundies and even if someone takes the bible literally that does not automatically mean that they (consciously) want theocracy (somehow a theocratic America does not jive with the book of Revelations). The sought after votes in this election are the "undecided" and the "swing" votes. The candidates have already tickled their respective bases.

Confronted with the two evils, I would refuse to vote while still exposing the evil of both parties.

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Betsy:

Peikoff is using Objectivist principles and other Objectivists are also using Objectivist principles when they disagree with him.
Objectivism does not give guidance as how to choose between two evils. It gives guidance as how to choose between evil and good. All an Objectivist can do is estimate which candidate would be more effective in actualizing his evil ideas. The decision to support Bush or Kerry is not a principled one but a pragmatic one (more concerned with practical results than with theories and principles). Not voting would be a principled act.

On another thread you were asserting, without evidence, that ARI and OAC forbid dissent and spread dogma. Here's evidence that they don't.

If both sides were using Objectivist principles they would have reached some agreement. Since they have not then their decisions are not principled. I know the difference between personal disagreements and philosophical disagreements mind you (hence, the comment you alluded to).

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It is more like a false dichotomy: either you vote for X or Y or be immoral. One would be justified to say that I am an agnostic whereas the candidates are concerned if I claimed that I could not say if anything of them were good or bad. But in fact, I am saying that both of them represent evil ideas that would not see America improve.

The issue is identifying the DEGREE of evil for both and judging which one is more evil than the other. It is not enough to judge that both are evil and then stop there and refuse to vote for either.

The fact it that it is not a false dichotomy. It is not a choice between evil (vote for Bush), evil (vote for Kerry), and some unacknwledged good (non-vote). A non-vote means that you are voting on one or the other by DEFAULT, and the choice is no longer determined by you, but by the accumulation of everyone elses vote. If you know that Evil #1 is worse than Evil #2, and your refusal to vote Evil #2 contributes to the election of Evil #1, then you have chosen the worse of the two evils.

Objectivism does not give guidance as how to choose between two evils.

An evaluation of the facts will. Does Objectivism tell you to evaluate the facts? Yes.

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The issue is identifying the DEGREE of evil for both and judging which one is more evil than the other. It is not enough to judge that both are evil and then stop there and refuse to vote for either.
This is like asking me to vote for Socialism or the Mixed Economy by saying the Mixed Economy is the "lesser" evil. I support none of those systems at all; I am a capitalist (this is consistent with Objectivist ethics). How much different is theocracy from socialism/statism anyway? You as an Objectivist would still suffer. Oh yeah, Peikoff claims that the Dems don't have a clear cut ideology (hyperbole 101) but I say they do have a history of getting their socialistic agendas enacted. Consider that both the Democrats and the Republicans support essentially the same socialist policies: social security, more financing for public schooling, free health care and the like. This suggest that congress is likely to let socialistic legislation through before those than challenge the 1st ammendment. The constitution has more loop holes for socialistic ideas than it does for theocratic ones.

Someone mentioned the FCC and its activities implying that the Bush administration was behind the suppression of free speech. What that person evades is the fact that the FCC was created to regulate speech when speech is supposed to be unregulated. Of course, an individual can sue someone who libels them but censorship only occurs when the government restricts speech not average citizens. It does not matter what party is in power the FCC will do its job of restricting free speech.

Peikoff's speech is more a case against government than a particular party. So much for the power of the constitution to limit the power of government.

A non-vote means that you are voting on one or the other by DEFAULT, and the choice is no longer determined by you, but by the accumulation of everyone elses vote.

I am not voting, period. It is wrong to say that the party that wins is the one I supported inadvertently. Besides, my vote would not change the outcome of the election.

If you know that Evil #1 is worse than Evil #2, and your refusal to vote Evil #2 contributes to the election of Evil #1, then you have chosen the worse of the two evils.

I suspect that you are using "know" to mean certain. If that is the case then I am not certain who will turn out to be the worst. I do however know now that both are evil. I also have a idea that socialism is a threat from both parties while theocracy is a non-issue.

My non-vote does not contribute anything. Only those that voted for the so-called greater evil contributed to it.

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Objectivism does not give guidance as how to choose between two evils. It gives guidance as how to choose between evil and good.

That is false. Objectivism recognizes that people can have mixed premises, inconsistent ideas, and the ability to change. Thus, when choosing between two people with mixed premises, Objectivism doesn't just label people all black or all white. It provides a color chart for selecting the lighter shade of gray.

All an Objectivist can do is estimate which candidate would be more effective in actualizing his evil ideas. The decision to support Bush or Kerry is not a principled one  but a pragmatic one (more concerned with practical results than with theories and principles). Not voting would be a principled act.
What would be a "principled act?" Refusing to vote until a John Galt-like messiah shows up?

If both sides were using Objectivist principles they would have reached some agreement.

Not if they disagree about the facts.

Since they have not then their decisions are not principled.
That is an unwarranted and unjust accusation.

I know the difference between personal disagreements and philosophical disagreements mind you (hence, the comment you alluded to).

False alternative. What about factual disagreements?

Objectivists base their principles and their decisions on the facts of reality. Objectivists can disagree about what the facts might be, especially when the facts are not all known and people have to decide on insufficient evidence. As a result, we can agree on the principles, disagree about the facts, and come to different conclusions as a result.

This election is a good case in point.

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This is like asking me to vote for Socialism or the Mixed Economy by saying the Mixed Economy is the "lesser" evil. I support none of those systems at all; I am a capitalist (this is consistent with Objectivist ethics).

To make your analogy fully consistent, you need to acknowledge that what you are going to get is EITHER Socialism OR Mixed Economy. That you support capitalism is irrelevant here. Capitalism is not a choice in this context. When stuck with a choice between Socialism and Mixed Economy the proper action is for you to choose Mixed Economy while denouncing it and simultaneously advocating Capitalism.

Whether you like it or not, the choice is between Bush or Kerry. You are stuck with a minimum amount of evil no matter what. If you were to quantify the evil each candidate, you are saying that one is more evil than the other, but the difference is of no difference to you.

I am not voting, period. It is wrong to say that the party that wins is the one I supported inadvertently.
But you are willing to accept more evil than is necessary.

Besides, my vote would not change the outcome of the election.

Do you really believe this? If there was an Objectivist Presidential Candidate, would you not vote for them because your vote wouldn't matter anyway?

I suspect that you are using "know" to mean certain. If that is the case then I am not certain who will turn out to be the worst. I do however know now that both are evil. I also have a idea that socialism is a threat from both parties while theocracy is a non-issue.

Not voting for either because you honestly have no idea which is the greater evil is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from not voting for either when you know that one is more evil than the other. My whole point is that the first is morally acceptable, the second is not.

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That is false. Objectivism recognizes that people can have mixed premises, inconsistent ideas, and the ability to change. Thus, when choosing between two people with mixed premises, Objectivism doesn't just label people all black or all white. It provides a color chart for selecting the lighter shade of gray.
Betsy, I am sure you might be exasperated so I will leave you with a quote by Rand:

"Before anyone can identify anything as "gray," one has to know what is black and what is white.  In the field of morality, this means that one must first identify what is good and what is evil.  And when a man has ascertained that one alternative is good and the other is evil, he has no justification for choosing a mixture.  There can be no justification for choosing any part of that which one knows to be evil. "

"Like a mixed economy, men of mixed premises may be called "gray"; but, in both cases, the mixture does not remain "gray" for long.  "Gray," in this context, is merely a prelude to "black."  There may be "gray" men, but there can be no "gray" moral principles.  Morality is a code of black and white.  When and if men attempt a compromise, it is obvious which side will necessarily lose and which will necessarily profit. "

I hope I did not take these words out of context.

What would be a "principled act?" Refusing to vote until a John Galt-like messiah shows up?
Refusing to vote while attempting to change the philosophy of those living in your country.

Objectivists base their principles and their decisions on the facts of reality. Objectivists can disagree about what the facts might be, especially when the facts are not all known and people have to decide on insufficient evidence. As a result, we can agree on the principles, disagree about the facts, and come to different conclusions as a result.

I would like to think that Objectivists have a principled approach toward the assessments of facts. In that regard, two Objectivists cannot look at the same aspect of reality and then come to a different conclusion or perceive different facts(if their method is principled). Objectivists cannot base their principles on the facts of reality if the "facts are not all known and [their is] insufficient evidence." The facts in this matter at hand are that both choices are evil. Any speculation about what will happen after November is far from fact. Peikoff claims are far from fact. So whence cometh the decision?

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I hope I did not take these words out of context.

You did.

In that quote it is implied that the entire spectrum of choice is open to you. It does not apply when an irrational alternative between two evils is being FORCED upon you. This is the case in the current presidential election. Am I wrong to deem this situation one of force? I don't think so. And when force enters the picture you are in a cruel game of calculus. Either you agree to calculate or you accept the calculations of others. Granted that you should never be in an irrational situation like this in the first place, but once you are, the responsibility to look at the facts and choose becomes a moral necessity to ensure the best possible outcome. I don't think this can be made any more clear than it is at this point.

Is it that you are rebelling against the irrationality of the decision being forced upon you that explains your unwillingness to make a choice at all? If so, then it is mistaken. Your rebellion should be focused on advocating the third alternative, a consistently rational candidate (or the ideas that would be represented by one), and in the meantime choose between the only two viable options while stating loud and clear that it IS an irrational choice.

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I hope I did not take these words out of context.

Ayn Rand and I are saying essentially the same thing.

Note that she said, "[W]hen a man has ascertained that one alternative is good and the other is evil, he has no justification for choosing a mixture." When the choice is NOT between the good and the evil, there IS a justification for choosing the lighter gray mixture.

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What would be a "principled act?" Refusing to vote until a John Galt-like messiah shows up?

Refusing to vote while attempting to change the philosophy of those living in your country.

What about voting AND working to change the philosophy of the culture?

It isn't either/or.

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I was very interested to see what Dr. Peikoff had to say about this election. Unfortunately, Peikoff's analysis was a HUGE let-down.

Peikoff strings together a long list of anecdotes about the religiousity of America. "The Passion" was very popular. Christian book sales are high. There are many Evangelical Christians in America. George W. Bush is a very religious man. Therefore, America will be thrust into a theocracy of sorts if Bush gets 4 more years in office??? This type of logic would flunk philosophy 101.

Peikoff has a huge overestimation of the number of radical Christians. He implies that an Evangelical Christian is equivalent to a Christian fundamentalist, which is just not true. I know many Evangelicals (by Peikoff's definition) who are not radical fundamentalists. They don't want theocracy. By and large, they like America as it is. The fact is that America was far more Christian in the past than it is today.

Peikoff claims that socialism no longer has any basis in America. This is absolutely false. There are many people in America who want socialized health care, higher taxes for "the rich", tougher business regulations, etc. Turn to almost any editorial page or newscast to see anti-Capitalist rhetoric. How can Peikoff brush this off so readily?

John Kerry is a man who is campaigning on a platform of higher taxes, more international involvement in American affairs (i.e., a reduction in American sovereignty), and partial socialization of the American healthcare system. Bush is a religious man, no doubt, but his religiousity is not anywhere near the threat to America that John Kerry's proposals are. Four more years of George W. Bush would be "apocalyptically bad" for America? Whatever. Peikoff is nuts. It seems as though he suffers from some sort of anti-Christian phobia which overrides his ability to logically analyze the issue.

Leonard Peikoff condemns anyone who is voting for Bush (or, more generally, anyone who is not voting for Kerry). On this point he sounds like the type of dogmatic Christian fundamentalist he fears so much.

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I would like to think that Objectivists have a principled approach toward the assessments of facts. In that regard, two Objectivists cannot look at the same aspect of reality and then come to a different conclusion or perceive different facts(if their method is principled).

Of course they can. Galt and Dagny disagreed about going on strike and they were both rational. They also had access to different facts, different hierarchies of values, different amounts of time to consider the matter, different existing contexts of knowledge, and other differences leading to different conclusions.

Objectivists cannot base their principles on the facts of reality if the  "facts are not all known and [their is]insufficient evidence."

Sure we can, so long as some facts are known and there is some evidence.

Very often in life you you don't have all the facts and the evidence you have is inconclusive, yet you must make a decision. Then you do the best you can. This is not being "unprincipled." It is recognizing a fact of life.

The facts in this matter at hand are that both choices are evil.

That is an evaluation, not a fact. Based on the facts available to me, I disagree

... at least as far as Bush is concerned.

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Leonard Peikoff condemns anyone who is voting for Bush (or, more generally, anyone who is not voting for Kerry).  On this point he sounds like the type of dogmatic Christian fundamentalist he fears so much.

While I wouldn't call Peikoff 'nuts', I have to agree with many things you said. Your post makes me wonder, is Peikoff losing his 'edge' or in more philospohical terminology: his objectivity? The spectrum amongst O'ists seems to run left to right like this: the Kellyite/Soloite/Sciabarraite quasi-libertarians (and lets put aside right now if they should even be called O'ists) on one side (left) and the Peikoff/Binswanger/Schwartz contingent on the other (right). I would say the Speichers reflect the perfect balance amongst Objectivists, so I'll put them in the middle.

It seems to me that over the years Peikoff has moved to the 'right of right' as far as the O'ist spectrum goes. His talk last year at the Ford Hall Forum is one example. His recent thoughts on Fundamentalism in America is another. I'm not saying I disagree with him totally. I really don't know enough to say. I haven't studied the subject the way he has. But on a gut feeling level, I do feel that his assessment about religion in America is off. And I also feel that the far greater danger today is from the socialist left not the religous right. But I am not a professional phillosopher. And yet, I am concerned about his objectivity. He does seem very angry. In the 19 minute clip he made a statement to the effect that he has in essence screamed at O'ists who have refused to agree with him about Bush. And then there is his statement about the moral condemnation of anyone who wouldn't vote. Well at this point that seems to be me as I have no peace of mind with this year's election.

I know he's old and perhaps he's tired of fighting in the face of such adversity, but he seems bitter and I wonder if it has affected his judgement. I still greatly respect the man. There is no man in the Objectivist movement who has been so denounced as he has. It must be tough to be such a target. But I can't help feel that he is 'off' somehow. That's the best I can explain it.

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Peikoff strings together a long list of anecdotes about the religiousity of America.  "The Passion" was very popular.  Christian book sales are high.  There are many Evangelical Christians in America.  George W. Bush is a very religious man.  Therefore, America will be thrust into a theocracy of sorts if Bush gets 4 more years in office??? This type of logic would flunk philosophy 101.

...And so would yours. Because in Philosophy 101, they would teach you to try to give a charitable interpretation, rather than ascribe an absurd position to the philosopher as you have done here to Dr. Peikoff.

Somehow, I think his argument is a bit more subtle than your "summary" of it here.

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The spectrum amongst O'ists seems to run left to right like this: the Kellyite/Soloite/Sciabarraite quasi-libertarians (and lets put aside right now if they should even be called O'ists) on one side (left) and the Peikoff/Binswanger/Schwartz contingent on the other (right). I would say the Speichers reflect the perfect balance amongst Objectivists, so I'll put them in the middle.

Thanks for what I think is a compliment, but I cannot agree with your classification.

I don't consider those in your "Left" to be Objectivists at all so they are not on "my" side. As for the rest, there are some issues where Harry Binswanger, Peter Schwartz, and Leonard Peikoff have disagreed with each other. Sometimes my own assessment of the facts places me with Binswanger and Schwartz but not Peikoff and at other times I have sided with Binswanger but not Schwartz and Peikoff. Who is on who's side varies issue to issue without a clear or consistent pattern.

When it comes to choosing up sides, I tend to be a consistent extremist. I always want to be on the side of reality. In the long run, it is the winning side. Of course, so do Binswanger, Schwartz, and Peikoff, so things can get rather interesting at times.

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But on a gut feeling level, I do feel that his assessment about religion in America is off. And I also feel that the far greater danger today is from the socialist left not the religous right.

So do I. It isn't the first time I have disagreed with Dr. P. and it probably won't be the last.

There is no man in the Objectivist movement who has been so denounced as he has. It must be tough to be such a target. But I can't help feel that he is 'off' somehow. That's the best I can explain it.

If you think he is wrong, identify and evaluate the facts that lead to that conclusion and act on the facts as you see them proudly, courageously, and confidently. WHAT's right is much more important that WHO's right.

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I have listened to Dr. Peikoff's statement twice, as well as spoken to a few Objectivists about the situation. I have also been following the very valuable postings here.

While I don't yet have a conclusive view on the matter, my leaning is towards Dr. Peikoff's position, for the following reasons.

1) In the history of human civilization, when thisworldly statism (Communism, Socialism, Irreligious monarchy, etc.) has been effected, it has yielded terrible polities. Yet, these polities have still been (marginally) worth writing home about. The Greek city-states; Rome under the Stoics; present-day European socialism; Soviet Communism; the Arab Golden Age. All these were born of thiswordly mysticism and, because of their limited recognition of reason, still had some respect for science and technology. That is to say, man's mind still had some breathing room under these regimes.

However, when the civilized West has turned to God (the Dark and Early Middle Ages), there has been nothing. Observe also today's world. It is no coincidence that much of Africa and the Middle East is home to the most godly cultures on earth. Superstition reigns supreme in the most barbaric societies.

To sum, secular statism will slow us down if it wins. But otherwordly statism will destroy us. Secular statism leaves some room for an Aristotle, Averroes, or Sakharov. The fight against theocracy requires the meteoric talents of an Aquinas. To expect one to rise out of the ashes is wishful thinking indeed.

2) In examining a much narrower context, one finds the conservatives more guilty of betraying America than one might like to think.

Yes, conservative US governments have taken up arms more readily in the last 50 years than liberal governments have (think Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Cambodia, and sundry South American nations). However, these conservatives have also strengthened the hands of the religious enemies of America. Reagan provided training and weaponry to Iran and Afghanistan. (In fact, I have heard that the helicopter crashes we heard about constantly during the recent wars owed to Stinger missiles that Reagan had bequeathed to the Taliban and their ilk.) And, they seem much closer, in terms of personal relationships, to the "oil regimes" of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and so on.

Have the liberals been better? No. They even come off as more ineffectual. But, Clinton did not - at least not to my knowledge - give arms to Iran. He and his type won't try to root out terrorism, but they won't actively aid it.

Which is why one is scared about Bush's actions in the Middle East. By attacking a secular nation, has he opened the door for another attack somehow - somewhere???? Has he pulled a Reagan ? :P

3) Peikoff's been right before: About Clinton, he was right: Clinton cut welfare rolls and at least, America - and the world - got a good glimpse of what "full employment" would be like. A precedent was set: whoever wants to govern this country must remember that 'It's the economy, stupid." Okay, I grant that some of that owed to the Republican gridlock in Congress. Still, it did happen. A is A.

More crucially, he was also right about 9-11. He had warned (since 1989 or thereabouts I gather) about some kind of Arab-Moslem onslaught which was coming as a result of the West's philosophic capitulation. Although I wasn't in Objectivism then, I was intrigued when I found out.

4) Living on three continents has served to provide me with a wider range of facts from which to make inferences. I know first-hand that what is happening in the non-Western parts of the world could easily happen here. All evil need do is cripple whatever cultural confidence remains in the use of man's reason. I see evidence of that confidence waning all the time.

Having said that, I realize that the case against Dr. Peikoff's argument is also strong: What about Bush's decision to go against the UN and attack Iraq? I can't forget Bush's "decapitation strike" address. What about the fact that a liberal adminstration might actually let a nuclear strike or two destroy Washington DC and/or New York?

Before I make a firm decision, the questions needing answers, in my view, are as follows:

a) Dr. Peikoff believes that Bush is strengthening the theocracy to come (which is true) and has to be removed. However, by electing Kerry or another up-and-coming nihilist in future elections, won't a lackadaisical response from that nihilist's government to a terrorist strike on America risk the eventual election of an even more religious GOP candidate, thereby increasing the chances of a theocracy?

:P Following from (a), could there be the possibility of a timing miscalculation in Dr. Peikoff's inductions? By this I mean, could it be that Bush is not that "FDR of the religious state" and that that monster is further down the road?

I only today decided to take this issue up seriously. When/if I achieve certainty, I'll publish my opinion in full.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying reading everyone else's views.

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Zeus

1) In the history of human civilization, when thisworldly statism (Communism, Socialism, Irreligious monarchy, etc.) has been effected, it has yielded terrible polities. Yet, these polities have still been (marginally) worth writing home about. The Greek city-states; Rome under the Stoics; present-day European socialism; Soviet Communism; the Arab Golden Age. All these were born of thiswordly mysticism and, because of their limited recognition of reason, still had some respect for science and technology. That is to say, man's mind still had some breathing room under these regimes.

What?

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I'll admit though people, if I was to base my decision on my experiences I would have to agree with Peikoff. I might have ran into a lot of leftists but nevertheless, I've run into the Christian doctrine throughout my times in school. I've never had any left wing trouble from teachers in schools. It's always the Christian doctrine. More of the "Hell-House", "Neo-Con", "Left Behind" type that seems to be growing in my opinion.

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Peikoff seems to contradict his thesis in "The Ominous Parallels". In that book he claimed that although Nazi philosophy was anti-ideolgical the havoc that their views caused was great. He went on to say that this same trend in America could possibly lead to the same kind of thing happening in America.

So how comes anti-ideology persons such as Kerry are no longer a mojor threat? How is Bush going to trick America when his motives are so clear as opposed to those of Kerry?

Come on now. Peikoff is not convincing.

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I have listened to Dr. Peikoff's statement twice, as well as spoken to a few Objectivists about the situation.  I have also been following the very valuable postings here. 

While I don't yet have a conclusive view on the matter, my leaning is towards Dr. Peikoff's position, for the following reasons.

1) In the history of human civilization, when thisworldly statism (Communism, Socialism, Irreligious monarchy, etc.) has been effected, it has yielded terrible polities.  Yet, these polities have still been (marginally) worth writing home about.  The Greek city-states; Rome under the Stoics; present-day European socialism; Soviet Communism; the Arab Golden Age.  All these were born of thiswordly mysticism and, because of their limited recognition of reason, still had some respect for science and technology.  That is to say, man's mind still had some breathing room under these regimes.

The Soviet Union was worth writing home about? Do you have any idea how many people were murdered, starved to death, or imprisoned and worked to death in that "polity worth writing home about"? There have never been states as evil as the Soviet Union and its progeny in North Korea and elsewhere. Your being sanguine about such a possibility is hard to fathom.

However, when the civilized West has turned to God (the Dark and Early Middle Ages), there has been nothing.  Observe also today's world.  It is no coincidence that  much of Africa and the Middle East is home to the most godly cultures on earth.  Superstition reigns supreme in the most barbaric societies.

To sum, secular statism will slow us down if it wins.  But otherwordly statism will destroy us.  Secular statism leaves some room for an Aristotle, Averroes, or Sakharov.

Secular statism destroys countries as surely as any theocracy ever could. This is leaving aside the idea that a theocracy is even remotely possible here. Russia is still a shambles, North Korea is a basket case, as is Cuba. Sakharov is not what pulled the Soviet Union out of its nightmare. The existence of the United States, and its strength, are what rescued it from that nightmare. Who will rescue us, the last bastion of freedom on earth?

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I listened to Peikoff's lecture excerpt.

The only flaw I could find with his logic is that he mentions that there has never been such a threat of an American theocracy as there would be under President Bush.

I disagree.

The first such threat came in 1980, when Ronald Reagan ran for office. However, such a threat didn't come to fruition until years later, at the time of the infamous speech Reagan made regarding the rights of atheists when he declared that the Bill of Rights ensured Americans the "freedom of religion, not from religion." It was about this time that Christian fundamentalists had started to infiltrate universities. Such influence and infiltration is a great part of Peikoff's lecture.

Otherwise, Peikoff, in his ultimate wisdom, has exposed a dire threat to the liberties of American individuals and their rights. I thoroughly agree with his position.

As weak a personality as Kerry is, you will NOT get a fundamantalist theocracy under Kerry.

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I listened to Peikoff's lecture excerpt.

The only flaw I could find with his logic is that he mentions that there has never been such a threat of an American theocracy as there would be under President Bush.

I disagree.

The first such threat came in 1980, when Ronald Reagan ran for office.  However, such a threat didn't come to fruition until years later, at the time of the infamous speech Reagan made regarding the rights of atheists when he declared that the Bill of Rights ensured Americans the "freedom of religion, not from religion."  It was about this time that Christian fundamentalists had started to infiltrate universities.  Such influence and infiltration is a great part of Peikoff's lecture.

So a theocracy "came to fruition" in America when Reagan said "freedom of religion, not from religion"? I must have missed that theocracy, even though I lived through it, according to you.

Otherwise, Peikoff, in his ultimate wisdom, has exposed a dire threat to the liberties of American individuals and their rights.  I thoroughly agree with his position.

As weak a personality as Kerry is, you will NOT get a fundamantalist theocracy under Kerry.

Kerry is a threat to American lives, and an equal threat to American liberties. Perhaps you can prove your assertion that there will be a theocracy under Bush? Something a little more convincing than your proof there was a theocracy under Reagan.

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I think I haven't been clear.

I am aware of the fact that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, and Kim between them murdered almost a hundred miilion people. But, in doing so, they had to apply deadly force with an intensity that would eventually have guaranteed that a few of their own citizens would have tired of this state of affairs. Once these few clear-eyed men came to see the truth, the game would be up.

But, with religion, less force is required to subjugate men: they give up on reality willingly. Under nihilism, some people are still pursuing some earthly pleasure. Think of the despicable characters in "We the Living" that Leo got invovled with when he'd given up spiritually; consider also the dachas used by the Soviet rulership. Under religious rule, however, St. Francis of Assisi becomes the standard.

In fighting nihilism, one can move the people against dictators by pointing out how their evil rulers are "enjoying life" way beyond the generality of the masses. To fight religion, you have a longer climb, for subhuman life becomes its own end. Just ask Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

Furthermore, the ideas that Mao, Stalin et al, sought to actualize have been discredited: no-one today regards Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia as an ideal. But there are many people out there who think that the medieval era was a time of chivalry, brotherhood, honor, and courage. Observe the widespread longing for the life portrayed in "The Lord of the Rings."

Why do I claim that these regimes were "worth writing home about"? Because they still attempted to appear "scientific." Observe that, typically, the Russian oligarchs who came out of the ashes of perestroika and glasnost have degrees in Applied Mathematics, Physics, etc. In other words, there was some focus on the mind. True, whatever was accomplished by the Soviets (space flight, etc.) owed to Western altruism (East Minus West Equals Zero), but that doesn't negate the fact that they did want to be seen as an advanced society. In such a millieu, those men of the mind that remain can be turned against the rulership by Objectivism. In which case, everything collapses and reason may be resurrected. Under the religionists, all such men would be killed, i.e., no reason. No reason, because no reality ever existed to begin with.

I hope I'm a bit clearer; please feel free to ask questions.

Thanks.

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