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The Rational Conclusion

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Jackethan
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Every time I hear something new in the news, listen to a new opinion from a collectivist, or a nihilist, I feel more trapped in a country that really isn't mine after all. The role of a just and free government is to protect the borders (military) and prevent people from inhibiting other people's pursuit of happiness (police). This is not where I live. I live in California. I can't walk across a street with no crosswalk without becoming a criminal. There is a law that I can't talk on my cell phone while driving, enforced in the form of a non-moving violation. The government just decided that it's okay for me to get married to a man if I wanted to now, as though it has some sort of say in the matter. To get internet I have to call Time Warner, I have no other choice, save to buy a phone line and get ATT. If I go out and get a job my paycheck is involuntarily split between me and the government for use on programs with no oversight that I will never need and do not agree with.

I am controlled, for my own good, and for the good of my neighbors. So here's my question, when is it a reasonable conclusion that the only way to fix the problem is a revolution or secession?

Is this country capable of being saved? If so, when? How many of our principles will we have to give up along the way? How many compromises will there be?

If not, what is the solution?

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I am controlled, for my own good, and for the good of my neighbors. So here's my question, when is it a reasonable conclusion that the only way to fix the problem is a revolution or secession?

Resorting to force (which is what a revolution or secession would entail) is only justified if it is no longer possible to use reason to try to change the course of events. This would basically be the point at which the nation has become a dictatorship. Rand identified four essential characteristics of a dictatorship:

1) One-party rule.

2) Executions without trial, or with only a mock trial, for political offenses.

3) The nationalization or expropriation of private property.

4) Censorship.

She wrote "A country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw." In such a country, advocating ideas contrary to those in power will get you thrown in prison as a criminal. I don't think the United States is there yet, but it's frighteningly closer than it was even a decade ago. (We don't have one-party rule, but our two parties are increasingly indistinguishable in their statist premises. We don't have executions without trial, but we have imprisoned citizens accused of being terrorists without trial or benefit of habeas corpus. The government has effectively nationalized a large chunk of the finance industry in the last week. And McCain-Feingold is a major assault on political freedom of speech. Clearly, while we're not a dictatorship now, we're moving in that direction on all four of the fronts Rand identified. Sleep well tonight, kids.)

I would also note that, apart from the question of whether armed revolution would be morally justifiable in some instance, there is the question of whether it could be successful. Don't start a war unless you have a good chance to win.

Is this country capable of being saved? If so, when? How many of our principles will we have to give up along the way? How many compromises will there be?

I don't know whether the country can be saved. Sometimes I'm hopeful; other times I'm very pessimistic. What I do know is that, right now, we still have the freedom to advocate better ideas in an attempt to change the culture. If we do so, we might be able to save the country. If we don't, the country is lost. So speak out on behalf of what you know is right. Compromising our ideas along the way is exactly what we must not do, in the process.

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I am glad there is an objective standard for when a country has gone too far, and AR makes very good points as far as what a dictatorship is. One thing I think she did not forsee in the creation of the first point (1) One-party rule) is that it is possible and historically precedented to use a one party system masquerading as a two party system, which is exactly what this country seems to be headed for, thus giving (forgive the matrix quote) "The illusion of choice."

My question now is to what extent do these requirements have to be fulfilled, because as far as I can see they are already taking place, as you gave examples to show.

On the topic of whether such a war could be won, I am the first to say probably not. The government has successfully disarmed citizens to the extent that it is now nearly impossible for a group of armed citizens to match the firepower of a small group of government enforcers. Essentially, unless we make friends with South American black market traders (also in the process compromising our ideals) we would likely lose an outright confrontation.

On a side note, if anyone finds a suitable uncharted island with some sort of natural resource worth trading and seeks to start a new country there PLEASE send me an email. :D

As far as Team America references go, yes, I do love you.

It occurred to me that I may be coming across as some sort of violent anarcho-maniac, I really am not -looking forward to- any sort of civil war, I just never shy away from a hard question, and I believe this is one we must all bear in mind. It is important to know what is the rational person's breaking point, and what should be done post-break.

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One thing I think she did not forsee in the creation of the first point (1) One-party rule) is that it is possible and historically precedented to use a one party system masquerading as a two party system, which is exactly what this country seems to be headed for, thus giving (forgive the matrix quote) "The illusion of choice."

There is a relevant difference between a political system which legally allows only one party and a political system which allows multiple parties but doesn't happen to provide a proper choice at a given point in time. The latter leaves open the possibility of re-differentiating the parties through persuasion and argument; the former does not.

My question now is to what extent do these requirements have to be fulfilled, because as far as I can see they are already taking place, as you gave examples to show.

The essential thread running through all four of Rand's criteria is the possibility of advocating ideas to change the culture. If only one party is legally permitted to rule, there is no mechanism for peaceful political opposition to those in power. If people can be executed for political offenses without trial, then dissent from the governing orthodoxy is met with government force. If property is nationalized, the physical means of expressing dissenting ideas are removed from private hands. And if censorship is imposed, the means of spreading ideas remaining in private hands are rendered useless. Reason and force are opposites. When it is no longer possible to use reason, there is no choice but to use force. That is the dividing line.

At this time, it is definitely still possible to use reason to try to spread better ideas. The free existence of forums like this one, and institutions like ARI, are proof of this. Our speech is hampered, but not yet destroyed.

On the topic of whether such a war could be won, I am the first to say probably not. The government has successfully disarmed citizens to the extent that it is now nearly impossible for a group of armed citizens to match the firepower of a small group of government enforcers. Essentially, unless we make friends with South American black market traders (also in the process compromising our ideals) we would likely lose an outright confrontation.

On the other hand, the American public overall substantially outnumbers the agents of the government. On the gripping hand, most of the public agrees with the basic premises of what the government is doing, or is too intellectually disarmed to grasp the full implications of it. That brings us back to ideas. The only way to win a war with the government is to have a substantial part of the public on your side -- and if we manage to achieve that, we won't need to fight a war.

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