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Peikoff For Kerry?

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Kerry at least purports to be an intellectual.  He attempts to reason (though faultily) his arguments through.  He can at least be expected to consult actual human beings before making important decisions, 

Like his mentors Ted Kennedy and George Dukakis?

as opposed to Pres. Bush who consults "God", his bible and his guardian angel for guidance.

And also Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice.

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"as opposed to Pres. Bush who consults "God", his bible and his guardian angel for guidance."

for guidance? Maybe for guidance on how to act in relationships....but on how to conduct foreign policy? Get a grip dood.

Betsy,

question....

if one believes in God or a higher being, does that mean he/she cannot be rational and objective in other aspects of his or her life (excluding religion and the like)? I figure if one person can answer this, it is you....

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if one believes in God or a higher being, does that mean he/she cannot be rational and objective in other aspects of his or her life (excluding religion and the like)? I figure if one person can answer this, it is you....

Most Americans are realistic and commonsensical, even the religious ones. Most religious people turn to religion when their knowledge fails. Where did life come from? What happens when we die? Why should I be honest? Is there justice in the world? Etc.

Another reason many people are religious is because they associate it with their childhoods and family traditions. What? Give up Christmas? Singing in the choir?

Religion is purely a social thing and although they may go to church regularly and take part in ceremonies, they never pray or count on religion in their daily lives.

The Medieval Christian mindset is extremely rare in the USA.

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or in a breath, what is more important to an objectivist: capitalism or atheism

I think that's a bit of an oversimplification, but if you want to look at it that way, it's quite obvious which is the more fundamental issue.

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Imagine:

You Objectivists must make a choice: Which is more important to you in today's debate -- capitalism or atheism?

I would reject the question as a false and philosophically ignorant dichotomy.

"Capitalism" is a subject of discussion in the branch of philosophy called politics. Beneath that branch (in descending order) lie ethics, epistemology and ontology ("metaphysics").

Atheism is a merely negative position on the most fundamental of all issues, the nature of the world. An atheist is someone who rejects theism, which is the belief that there is a God (or gods), and God is all. God is the universe and is thereby the cause of all that happens. Atheists reject that view. Of course, atheism is only negative, as "anti-communist" is. The label says nothing about one's positive beliefs. Fascists, who are just as bad as communists, are "anti-communist" too.

However, by implication, to say that Objectivists are atheists leads to the crucial issue: We live in one world that is independent of but knowable by our consciousness. Religionists reject that. They believe we live in two worlds (or, as a Plotinian variation, we live in one world but what we see is merely a weak projection of Ultimate Reality, which is God), and that the important things in life -- like ethics -- can be knowable to us all, error-free, only through revelation.

A parrot which says, "I support capitalism," does not support capitalism.

A conservative who says, "I support capitalism," does not support capitalism if his actual ontology is theistic, his epistemology is a "compromise" of faith and fettered reason, and his ethics is altruism directed toward salvation in the Other World. The meaning of a statement arises from the context in which it is stated.

Of course, if a conservative says he believes in God as the cause of all, but doesn't actually believe such, then indeed he might have an objective opinion in support of capitalism.

I have never met such a conservative. Every self-professed conservative I have met has always, when pushed to his premises, accepted theism in one fractured form or another.

Can conservatives be potential allies, especially on single, narrowly defined issues -- e.g., a campaign to abolish a sales tax? Absolutely. But I would never trust them any further than the confines of that particular campaign. And I certainly would never expect support from them on other issues such as legalizing physician-assisted suicide and protecting abortion rights.

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"Most Americans are realistic and commonsensical"

'realistic' and 'commonsensical' doesn't constitute reason and objectivity.

so....i take it that you kinda think yes, that religious people can be objective in other parts of life....

I KNOW most of them are. As a business consultant and a consumer of professional services, I work with a large number of people of all types.

In the workplace most religious fundamentalists are reality-centered, logical, honest, and competent though uptight and repressed. They get the job done, keep their promises, and work incredibly hard.

The fundamentalist Lefties, on the other hand, tend to extend their philosophy to all areas of their lives and I have found many of them hard to work with as clients or employees. I commonly find an anti-effort "Don't bother me. Don't bother me. Don't bother me." attitude, a sense of entitlement regardless of what they do, mental sloppiness and imprecision, and excuse-making and blaming instead of results.

While religious fundies are boring or annoying in a social context, when I'm in the workplace, they are almost always more rational than Leftist fundies.

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I would first like to say that I don't care to hear people denigrate Dr. Peikoff's analysis by calling him nuts or too old or any variation of that theme. The man has certainly earned more respect that that, even if he were dead wrong in this matter. I don't think he is wrong and I won't dismiss what he has to say out of hand. I disagree with him in his conclusions as to the danger Mr. Bush poses -- not to his general thesis. There IS a dangerous political movement by the Christian Right. Most Christians are embracing this movement as a result of the utter and complete moral bankrupcy of the secular left. What other secularism is there out there to choose from? We are, of course, but we are not yet strong enough to matter AT THIS TIME. And it is precisely that -- time -- that we need.

I think that to understand what is happening with most Christians we must go beyond those who are squawking the loudest and look at why otherwise secularized Christians (secularized in their public life) are gravitating to the more extremist activists. I have said elsewhere that I think it is in backlash to the lack of morality in the Left. I'm not speaking here about the big questions, but of the daily lives of people and the consequences of the Left's multicultural, politically correct, morally relativistic philosophy which ends up completely unable to recognize evil in any form (other that that perpetrated by America, that is). On a daily basis they must fight for their children's education, fight to keep them from the ravages of a bankrupt morality that makes sluts of their daughters and wimps or thugs of their sons. They see that their children aren't even learning how to read, much less think. They see a culture that is disgusting and dangerous to the mental and physical health of their children. It is this moral bankrupcy that motivates them. What else is out there for them to turn to? They will turn back to what has seemingly worked before all the crap fell on them and their families -- to religion.

I don't think that this means that they have lost their reason, but that they have gone where their reason tells them to go. The man on the street isn't Ayn Rand. He isn't going to come up with an integrated system of philosophy to fight the evil he sees all on his own. He is going to go where there is a system is already in place -- to religion.

If our goal is to persuade the rational among these people, how do we justify choosing the bankrupt secularism of the Left? How do we then expect them to listen to the fact that there is a rational alternative that is no direct threat to them or the way they believe? How do we then manage to introduce them to a moral secularism? These are people who believe in the virtues of hard work, productiveness, individual responsibility, etc. They do not see the contradictions, they fear for their children; they do not think in such philosophical terms unless they are brought to it; they see only the consequences of the bankrupt "morality" being taught to their children.

In the coming philosophical battles, it will not be the liberals who will be on our side. There is literally nothing besides secularism that we have in common with them, and I know of no one here who avows the KIND of secularism the left represents.

Oddly enough, I think that the war with Islamic Fundmentalism is to our advantage in the coming philosophic war with religion. I base this on a discussion I had with my Church of Christ, bible-thumping, "prayer in the schools" cousin. There is not an argument of the religious right that she has not used to attempt to persuade me to her way of thinking. Nothing I ever said stopped her in her tracks until I pointed out that the religious fanatics of Islam who are bleeding us are no different in kind than the religious oppressors that our forefathers had to deal with. I pointed out that one of the reasons these same forefathers separated religion and the workings of the government was based on each individuals right and obligation to see to their own conscience in matters of belief, which was precisely what they could not do under the religious governments of Europe. In other words, I placed her fundamental beliefs and the reasons why we had a separation of church and state in a context she could understand and with which she agreed. I showed her that she could fight the immorality she sees with her (God-given, to her) reason. She has changed her tune about government based on explicit religion since then and has managed to change the minds of others she knows. She hasn't figured out how to get her points across without resorting to religion, however, because she doesn't understand how reason works, nor does she believe that it is possible to have any morality outside of religion. (She thinks that my strict ethics are really hold-overs from my religious upbringing. ;) ) My point is that she can be brought to some level of reason, based on her dual fundamental beliefs in religion with its belief in individual responsibility, and her belief in America as an idea. It isn't everything, she hasn't become an Objectivist or even a curious reader, but she has broken with the idea that some kind of theocracy is an answer to our problems.

I would never say that philosophy isn't important, nor are those individuals who do the talking for the various sides. Before we decide that religion is our primary danger, however, I think we need to look deeper than just the spokesmen and their particular rhetoric and see who the people are who are listening and assertain why they are listening. Even though folks may ascribe to something out of their absolute need for philosophy, it doesn't mean that they are all little automatons, impervious to reason. From what I have personally experienced (in a limited manner, I admit) most of these people are grabbing at the straw offered them in a world that is spinning out of control and becoming increasingly dangerous. It is in our own interest to do everything possible to give them an alternative secularism they can live with, and that means that we must have the time to do so. Allowing Kerry and his bunch to further prove their degenerancy won't get the job done, in my opinion, neither in the philosophical war to be waged, nor in the war against the Islamofascists.

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I would first like to say that I don't care to hear people denigrate Dr. Peikoff's analysis by calling him nuts or too old or any variation of that theme.  The man has certainly earned more respect that that, even if he were dead wrong in this matter.  I don't think he is wrong and I won't dismiss what he has to say out of hand.

Thank you! This is exactly what I've been asking people to do in this thread.

I disagree with him in his conclusions as to the danger Mr. Bush poses -- not to his general thesis.  There IS a dangerous political movement by the Christian Right.  Most Christians are embracing this movement as a result of the utter and complete moral bankrupcy of the secular left.  What other secularism is there out there to choose from?  We are, of course, but we are not yet strong enough to matter AT THIS TIME.  And it is precisely that -- time -- that we need...
While I think this is partially true, I don't think that it's simply a matter of offering those on the right a different secular alternative. There are many on the right who hate the left not simply because of a perceived lack of morality, but because they are secular.

In the coming philosophical battles, it will not be the liberals who will be on our side.  There is literally nothing besides secularism that we have in common with them, and I know of no one here who avows the KIND of secularism the left represents.

But there is nothing that we have in common with the conservatives either, beyond a few even more superficial points (which they often hold for all the wrong reasons).

Oddly enough, I think that the war with Islamic Fundmentalism is to our advantage in the coming philosophic war with religion.  I base this on a discussion I had with my Church of Christ, bible-thumping, "prayer in the schools" cousin.  There is not an argument of the religious right that she has not used to attempt to persuade me to her way of thinking.  Nothing I ever said stopped her in her tracks until I pointed out that the religious fanatics of Islam who are bleeding us are no different in kind than the religious oppressors that our forefathers had to deal with.  I pointed out that one of the reasons these same forefathers separated religion and the workings of the government was based on each individuals right and obligation to see to their own conscience in matters of belief, which was precisely what they could not do under the religious governments of Europe.  In other words, I placed her fundamental beliefs and the reasons why we had a separation of church and state in a context she could understand and with which she agreed.  I showed her that she could fight the immorality she sees with her (God-given, to her) reason.  She has changed her tune about government based on explicit religion since then and has managed to change the minds of others she knows.  She hasn't figured out how to get her points across without resorting to religion, however, because she doesn't understand how reason works, nor does she believe that it is possible to have any morality outside of religion.  (She thinks that my strict ethics are really hold-overs from my religious upbringing. :) )  My point is that she can be brought to some level of reason, based on her dual fundamental beliefs in religion with its belief in individual responsibility, and her belief in America as an idea.  It isn't everything, she hasn't become an Objectivist or even a curious reader, but she has broken with the idea that some kind of theocracy is an answer to our problems.

I wrote a letter to the editor last week on this very topic (you can read it on my website). And again, while I think you are partially right, I don't think it's that simple. You may be able to convince a few of the more reality-oriented people (and the same is true of those on the left), but many of them will not listen to you no matter how good your arguments are. It's not simply a matter of showing them that this other alternative of Objectivism exists--many of them have read Ayn Rand herself, and reject her ideas and hate her simply because she presents a secular philosophy.

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But there is nothing that we have in common with the conservatives either, beyond a few even more superficial points (which they often hold for all the wrong reasons).

Come ON ! :) I know you have some bad experiences with the Mormons, but not all conservatives are like them. The kind of people that Janet, Betsy, and I have in mind are ones who:

  • support tax cuts and deregulation



  • are opposed to welfare and foreign aid



  • believe in the use of retaliatory force, for self-defense by individuals as well as for justice by the government



  • understand that Islam is NOT a religion of peace and want the U.S. and Israel to fight harder against it



  • are proud of America as the land of freedom and individualism



  • reject multiculturalism



  • see the UN for the scam it is



  • reject environmentalism



  • see that there is something terribly wrong with "modern art"

and more. Surely you don't think these are superficial points!

Now, as for holding these ideas for the wrong reasons: It is certainly true that most of these people are not aware of the metaphysical and epistemological foundations of these ethical principles. I wasn't aware of them myself until I learned about Objectivism. But I venture to say that if a person believes all of the above, it would take a very big coincidence for him to believe each of these things for some wrong reason. For example, a man might reject multiculturalism because he is a Nazi, but then he would hardly be pro-Israel. He might support Israel for religious reasons only, but then that would not necessitate his stand for the right of an individual to keep and bear arms. If a person gets a substantial portion of his ethics right, I think it is reasonable to say that there is a high probability that he does so because the root of his ethics is not all that rotten--namely, that he is more selfish than not.

So, while his explicit explanation for his ethical principles may be incorrect, the actual motive that drives him towards these conclusions can still be the right one. Or, to put it another way: If a guy doesn't like paying taxes, wants criminals behind bars, isn't yearning to pay reparations to Jesse, likes to see jihadists dead, and cares more for himself than for the spotted owl, then it isn't a stretch to say that he can be pretty selfish at times. ;)

You may be able to convince a few of the more reality-oriented people (and the same is true of those on the left)

Oh no...I'll have to pull out my favorite analogy of Israel vs. Terroristine again. :P You are essentially saying that the Left and the Right are morally equivalent: there may be a few more reality-oriented people on both sides, but being a liberal or a conservative has no implicit correlation with being reality-oriented. I think there is a HUGE correlation: while the Right is far from perfect and there are even some really evil individuals among their midst (can't exactly the same be said about Israel?), it represents the more moral side in a battle with an ideology of pure altruism.

If a person is at least partially motivated by self-interest, there is a hope that you can successfully reason with him: you can gain his attention by appealing to his interests. But if someone totally lacks egoism--and you have to lack it in order to believe that the spotted owl is more important than you and other nonsense like that--then it is simply impossible for rational ideas to gain any traction in his mind.

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Come ON ! :confused: I know you have some bad experiences with the Mormons, but not all conservatives are like them. The kind of people that Janet, Betsy, and I have in mind are ones who:
  • support tax cuts and deregulation



  • are opposed to welfare and foreign aid



  • believe in the use of retaliatory force, for self-defense by individuals as well as for justice by the government



  • understand that Islam is NOT a religion of peace and want the U.S. and Israel to fight harder against it



  • are proud of America as the land of freedom and individualism



  • reject multiculturalism



  • see the UN for the scam it is



  • reject environmentalism



  • see that there is something terribly wrong with "modern art"

and more.

I don't know any conservatives who consistently hold all of those views. Most of them do not reject the leftist dogmas you mention--they just want a more watered-down version of them (for now). If you try to argue these points on principle with almost any conservative, they will fight you tooth and nail the whole way.

Surely you don't think these are superficial points!
Relatively superficial, yes, most of them are. Because underlying them is an ethics of altruism, an epistemology of faith, and a metaphysics of mysticism. If we are going to go by agreement on those kinds of issues, then we'd be just as well off allying ourselves with libertarians. At least some of them have their underlying philosophy somewhat right.

If a person gets a substantial portion of his ethics right, I think it is reasonable to say that there is a high probability that he does so because the root of his ethics is not all that rotten--namely, that he is more selfish than not.

I disagree. The root of their ethics is altruism taken on faith. Just because some of the things that they take on faith--e.g., honesty, the non-initiation of force ("Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not steal," etc.)--are in fact proper, egoistic ethical principles, does not change the fact that they only follow them because the Bible tells them too (and they are much less consistent about following them since they don't understand the reasons behind them--I'll refer you to Harry Binswanger's great article on the Ten Commandments for more on this).

So, while his explicit explanation for his ethical principles may be incorrect, the actual motive that drives him towards these conclusions can still be the right one.
See above and below.

Or, to put it another way: If a guy doesn't like paying taxes, wants criminals behind bars, isn't yearning to pay reparations to Jesse, likes to see jihadists dead, and cares more for himself than for the spotted owl, then it isn't a stretch to say that he can be pretty selfish at times. ;)

All of those positions could be held by a decent Democrat--but that's just an issue of choosing better examples. Still, the same goes for the deeper point: even though his explicit ideas are permeated with altruism, the average liberal is very compartmentalized and in fact acts in his own interest a great deal of the time--just like the average conservative. But regardless, it's the deeper ideas of BOTH that we need to fight.

...while the Right is far from perfect and there are even some really evil individuals among their midst, it represents the more moral side in a battle with an ideology of pure altruism.
I think it's my turn to say, "Come ON!" ;) The Right (if by that you mean typical contemporary conservatives) is not on our side in a battle against altruism. They preach altruism at every opportunity! They are some of the people we are waging that battle against!

If a person is at least partially motivated by self-interest, there is a hope that you can successfully reason with him: you can gain his attention by appealing to his interests.

And that is the case with many liberals as well as many conservatives. There are lots of Objectivists who came from liberal backgrounds (and were even self-described Marxists at some point). But it's usually easier to reach them when they're still relatively young, before their education (read: "indoctrination") is complete. I think that's why liberalism looks worse to a lot of you now--because that is what the intellectual establishment is currently pounding into the heads of young people. And for the same reason, it is indeed incredibly important to fight it. But at the same time, we have to stress that turning to the traditional, "conservative" right is not the answer, because their philosophy is just as bad, and keep fighting the battle on that front as well.

Edited by AshRyan
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As an addendum to my previous post, I think the explanation for the superficial things that some conservatives tend to have more in common with us is largely a sense of life issue. But a good sense of life isn't enough when your explicit philosophy contradicts the better elements of it--which is why president Bush keeps making such awful mistakes (particularly in regard to the war), and why conservatives in general are usually so ready to compromise so easily on all of the points you mentioned that they supposedly share in common with us.

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I get the idea that some of you think that there is no value in arguing with an altruist unless you first educate them to the proper metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. If you will note what I said when I talked about my Christian Right cousin, I never mentioned any of that stuff. It wasn't necessary.

Within Christianity, there are certain ideas which may be used to justify the separation of church and state without going into an indepth philosophical discussion which does nothing but attack them further. Christians believe the altruist based "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." Implicit in that statement is that it is okay to love yourself. Jesus said to "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." (It was the only overt political statement he made. Of course he never got into politics because "the kingdom of God is at hand" so there was no reason to be concerned about politics.) Most Christians are taught to care for and value their life, because their life is a gift from God. Beliefs such as these are important when discussing the separation of church and state. It isn't necessary to bring scary philosophical ideas into the conversation.

I am not concerned with converting the Christian Right. The number of people we might convince in the next 10 to 20 critical years will never be enough to stave off a theocracy. I know from my own upbringing and what I was taught about this matter that it isn't necessary. The arguments against such an event are already within the Christian community itself.

It is important to remember the history of Western Civilization. All of the history. Never forget that it includes the work of St. Thomas, without whom we would never have seen the Enlightment. Granted, the ideas are Aristotle's, but it was a Catholic theologian who reintroduced them to the West.

I think that the growth of the Christian Right, at the level of the majority of individual Christians is, as I said before, a direct result of the Left's frontal assault on their right to believe what they will without harrassment, ridicule, and without their rights being usurped by a secularism so hostile and all pervading that they find themselves fighting for the lives of their children. The ideology of the Left is such that it puts someone who is a Christian in an almost unbearable situation.

We will never be able to protect our own rights by attacking individual Christians and calling them evil. Most of them hold vastly contradictory ideas, but they do not see them as such. The best we can do is try to reach those who believe in the constitution and work to roll back all the shite that has been laid on. They believe that the country, and the constitution, was built on Judeo-Christian ideas. Okay, stick to those ideas. Use what they know to stave off any idea of theocracy.

We are never going to see Galt's Gulch. This doesn't mean that I don't think that the eventual survival of human kind depends on the proper philosophy and that it is important to work for that. It just means that I understand that my own life depends on my being able to persuade people to live and let live. Most Americans believed in that virtue at one time in this country. Until the Great Depression and FDR, the idea that the world owed you a damn thing was foreign to Americans. Even though many people were going hungary, most people went looking for a job, not a handout. There is no dishonesty, in my opinion, in recalling our own history to people who fundamentally believe in that history.

Give those who are looking for an alternative to the Left an alternative they can live with. It isn't necessary to demand that everyone give up altruism or their belief in God for this country to survive. We need to help them remove the evil which is causing this gross reaction, an evil that we agree IS evil, before we'll ever be able to talk about the same evil lurking in their own beliefs.

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I get the idea that some of you think that there is no value in arguing with an altruist unless you first educate them to the proper metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.  If you will note what I said when I talked about my Christian Right cousin, I never mentioned any of that stuff.  It wasn't necessary.

I can only assume that by "some of you," you mean me. But obviously that isn't the case, because otherwise, why would I bother writing letters to the editor about and otherwise discussing topics such as this?

However, it is not the case that all we have to do is convince the conservatives to live and let live without arguing against their actual ideas, reserving the latter strategy for liberals, doing so from within the (false) pre-existing framework of their ideas. These people don't want to "live and let live," any more than the liberals do. That's the whole problem. Neither group is ultimately pro-freedom. We cannot establish genuine freedom in this country without establishing the proper philosophical basis for it. Otherwise, the libertarians would be right!

Within Christianity, there are certain ideas which may be used to justify the separation of church and state without going into an indepth philosophical discussion which does nothing but attack them further.  Christians believe the altruist based "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."  Implicit in that statement is that it is okay to love yourself.

This is wrong. That quote assumes only that people do love themselves. It implies nothing about the moral status of such self-love. And the essence of Christianity contradicts the idea that it is okay.

Yes, there have been giants like Aquinas in the history of Christianity, and as you said, we can thank him for the Enlightenment. But, as you said, that was due to the influence of Aristotle. If Christians are consistent, you end up with something much closer to Augustine and the Dark Ages.

There is much else in your post that I disagree with (which is strange because I usually strongly agree with your posts), but I'll leave it at that for now. My concern is that some of you seem to give the typical religious conservative way too much credit.

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Oh, just one other thing.

Give those who are looking for an alternative to the Left an alternative they can live with.  It isn't necessary to demand that everyone give up altruism or their belief in God for this country to survive.  We need to help them remove the evil which is causing this gross reaction, an evil that we agree IS evil, before we'll ever be able to talk about the same evil lurking in their own beliefs.

You can't argue that the conservatives' ideas are basically harmless because they are just a reaction to the liberals' bad ideas, which are therefore the ones that we really need to remove. I could just as well argue that we just need to give those who are looking for an alternative to religious mysticism (particularly Christianity) an alternative they can live with, because liberalism is just a reaction to conservatism. (I don't think that's entirely true either, but it's more plausible than your version since the Christians were around first.) Ultimately, the only thing that will do is to establish a culture that respects individual rights--which can only have a firm foundation in a culture that respects reason--which can only have a firm foundation in a culture that respects reality--one reality--this reality. And that requires fighting against liberalism and conservatism. If you just destroy one, the other will fill the void readily enough.

Edited by AshRyan
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I have listened to the excerpt on Leonard Peikoff’s site – as he said that he views President Bush as more of a threat than John Kerry. He is a respectable individual who is careful in his thought and likely looks for philosophical consistency from within every bit as much as other Objectivists. That is why I have been giving his statement consideration.

I have read why other Objectivists are carefully considering voting for President Bush and understand their statements as well.

The debate comes down to a question of which political party is the biggest threat. Unfortunately the question of who is best for Capitalism and individualism can’t even be asked with the choices given with sincere reflection of reality of what both main political parties represent – as they are both representative of altruistic thought.

Since terrorism is first and foremost on most interested Americans minds at this time, the question of –who will best protect and defend America is valid. However, our world changed on September 11, 2001. Based on everything I have read - I can’t differentiate the two candidates on how they would pursue terrorists; much less continue with the war in Iraq.

So my next thought on how to determine who I should vote for comes down to a mere – who do I think may have more personal integrity? Is that question a real basis for which I form my own opinion on who to vote for? Without knowing the individuals personally, can I make such a judgment based on propaganda and hearsay? In general and based on individuals I know personally who are of both political parties – whose line of thought do I find more distasteful?

Or can I base my decision on possible strategy? As another Objectivist friend of mine suggested – perhaps it may be better to vote Kerry in now in order to disallow someone like Hillary Clinton from running in 2008. Much can happen in 4 years.

Another thought I have had is – maybe it would be good if John Kerry won this election as maybe we could finally have some peace from the increasing negativity from the left, particularly the younger, pseudo-intellectuals who are openly socialists. My answer to that lazy thought is – absolutely not.

As I search for my own answers to this very important question – I have also brought my own thoughts back to a speech that I have found very inspirational (no - I do not view such inspirational reading as dogmatic Objectivist “bible” thumping – rather inspiration and food for thought) and that is John Galt’s speech from Atlas Shrugged. The part that other Objectivists may find interesting as well is toward the end, beginning with “I am speaking to those who desire to live and recapture the honor of their soul.”…

If you have read the text and understand the basis for Objectivist ethics this may help you on your quest as well.

Yesterday I told my husband that perhaps I will write in “John Galt” on my ballot. He laughed and said that maybe if enough people did so – election workers might ask the question “Who is John Galt?” :confused:

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I don't know any conservatives who consistently hold all of those views.

I used to consider myself a conservative before I learned about Objectivism, and I did hold all those views. I was attracted to modern conservatism precisely because modern conservatives espoused those ideas.

Relatively superficial, yes, most of them are.  Because underlying them is an ethics of altruism, an epistemology of faith, and a metaphysics of mysticism.  If we are going to go by agreement on those kinds of issues, then we'd be just as well off allying ourselves with libertarians.

We need to distinguish between choosing among political candidates on the one hand and forming ideological alliances on the other. This thread is about choosing between Democrats and Republicans in general and Bush and Kerry in particular, and in this context the relevant question is what they will do to us if elected, not why they would do it. Will they cut or hike our taxes? Will they sign the Kyoto agreement? Will they make the U.S. join the ICC? Will they treat Iran as a negotiating partner or as a dangerous enemy? These are the life-and-death questions that you have to ask when choosing whom to vote for; they are questions of concrete political action, not of metaphysics or epistemology. The points in which the politics of a hard-line modern conservative (Bush isn't one) and the politics of an Objectivist are in agreement are not superficial points but the ones most relevant to our lives.

So, superficial in one sense, perhaps--but not in the relevant one.

The root of their ethics is altruism taken on faith.  Just because some of the things that they take on faith--e.g., honesty, the non-initiation of force ("Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not steal," etc.)--are in fact proper, egoistic ethical principles.

Those are not the egoistic principles I am talking about. I am talking about the creation of wealth, the commitment to proper retaliation against evil, the pride in American strength and independence, the cherishment of the individual rather than society, and the preference for big and fast SUVs instead of warm and fuzzy words like "habitat" and "sustainable." These are not the kinds of things you are taught by the Bible; on the contrary, they are directly opposed to the general spirit of Christianity!

I think our differences are due to the fact that you see a conservative as a Bible-thumping, life-hating nut, while I see him as a patriotic American individualist. Both types exist and currently both call themselves conservatives, and there are many who are a sort of mixture and still think that Christianity is compatible with America.

But slowly but surely the incompatibilities between the two will become evident and those in the "mixed middle" will have to pick their sides. It will be their volitional choice: Jesus, prayer, and pain--or reason, wealth, and pride? Since the choice between the two is a fundamental act of volition, we cannot influence or predict its results, but I think it is not unreasonable to hope that at least a part of these people will make the right choice.

This is why I say that I think conservatives can be hoped to be reasoned with.

All of those positions could be held by a decent Democrat

That's right--too bad there are hardly any of them left! :confused: The most prominent one of them is Senator Zell Miller, who supports President Bush in the current election.

Edited by Capitalism Forever
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The root of their ethics is altruism taken on faith.  Just because some of the things that they take on faith--e.g., honesty, the non-initiation of force ("Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not steal," etc.)--are in fact proper, egoistic ethical principles, does not change the fact that they only follow them because the Bible tells them

That is true for some religious people but not all. Others value reality and man and accept religious ideas on faith only when they want to defend a genuine value but don't know how to do it with facts and reason.

In order to properly judge a religious person I am dealing with I try to determine whether reason or faith has primacy in his soul.

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I think our differences are due to the fact that you see a conservative as a Bible-thumping, life-hating nut, while I see him as a patriotic American individualist.

You're both right.

The Old Right WERE mostly Bible-thumping, life-hating nuts but the New Right are mostly patriotic American individualists. On the other hand, the Old Left were primarily sincere, learned, idealistic intellectuals, while the New Left are lazy, dishonest, cynical anti-intellectuals.

I have been an Objectivist activist for a very long time and have dozens of "converts" to my credit. Forty years ago they were all former Leftists but nowadays they are mostly former Right-wing religionists.

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AshRyan:

I don't think you understand the context within which I am advocating the line of argument I laid out. Perhaps I wasn't concise, so I'll try to be more specific.

I am talking about discussions one might have with individuals who are not especially open to philosophical discussions -- and this encompasses a very large section of the population. It is the individual who would vote for or against any level or version of theocracy, or any policy that would further lead us towards a theocracy. When I said "let's forget the squawkers" I meant that none of us is debating a Robertson or Buchanan (both of whom made very poor showings in the polls when they ran for president, by the way). When most of us are in a discussion of this kind, we are speaking to individual Christians who may, or may not be listening to these people, or others like them. Such people can be made to think about what they are actually hearing.

I certainly do not advocate forgetting our ultimate goal, God forbid B). What I am trying to define for myself is a method of buying us the time we need to reach that goal. We don't have the time to convince our fellow citizens of the virtues of what amounts to a completely alien philosophy. What we require is the time for Objectivist ideas to reach the children and grandchildren of this generation. You won't get far if you demand all or nothing of people because they will take the nothing from Objectivism and stick with what they know.

Remember that Objectivism demands that one always begin with reality. The reality here is that you will never have any kind of instantaneous convertion of the people of this country, right or left, to Objectivism. We cannot allow things to simply drift along as is because we will find ourselves outlawed by whoever wins. I reiterate that the immediate goal is to buy time. The question then becomes which side will best serve this purpose. We have a small wedge issue with which to make an kind of ad hoc common cause with the Right against the fetid Left. It doesn't mean that we are sanctioning anything in Christianity, but rather that we are advocating a return to basic American ideals via a return to our constitution. I am advocating being FOR something, as opposed to the againsters who populate the Left.

Think in terms of individuals, not collectives of people. Don't lump every individual Christian into some amorphous collective. That is the method and thinking of the Left.

By-the-bye, the Left is also worried about a theocracy. There are two books out right now which argue this issue, one by a philosopher who specifies Bush as the danger (sorry, I don't have the name of the author and title at hand, but I will look it up and post it later if you wish). I've heard this guy speak. I guarantee that if this is the level of argument, we are in deep trouble. The left's arguments will get first hearing and we will be standing on the sidelines saying, "Yeah, but..." to minds already closed.

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I found one of these conservative comrades in reason while doing some research online.

Please feel free to take a look:

http://www.meridianmagazine.com/bestbooks/040430attract.html

Was that meant to be sarcastic? That reviewer got so many simple things WRONG that I seriously doubt she read the book (Gault and Dagney??).

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Zeus:

HA! See what I mean about trying to talk to some people about abstract philosophical ideas? The author of this critique doesn't have a clue. She had no idea what she was reading. I suspect that the innocent honesty of her youth dissipated in the acid of religion a long time ago. Note the difference between what she remembers from reading The Fountainhead when young, and her experience (as an obviously die-hard Christian) when reading Atlas as an adult.

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... What I am trying to define for myself is a method of buying us the time we need to reach that goal.  We don't have the time to convince our fellow citizens of the virtues of what amounts to a completely alien philosophy.  What we require is the time for Objectivist ideas to reach the children and grandchildren of this generation.  ...

I infer that the method you are looking for is actually a tactical plan for the Objectivists living in the United States today.

A tactical plan should be an application of a strategy, that is, a general plan. A strategy, in turn, should be based on an ideology, that is, an analysis of the state of our milieu -- its culture, society, and politics of our own time. Going further back, the ideology should be an application of philosophy, in this case, the branch called Politics. Why should all this be based on philosophy? Because philosophy is the universal science. Ideology, strategy, and tactics are steps in a zooming-in method that applies the universal to the particular circumstances of living, say, in the U. S. in 2004.

We have the philosophy -- thanks to Ayn Rand. Does any Objectivist today have an up-to-date ideology? A strategy? A tactical plan for each major area -- the U. S., the U. K., India, or wherever?

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