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JohnS
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One quick thing though, principles--like everything else--are only valid in the correct context, I think John is incorrectly assigning an aspect of intrinsicism into Objectivism when such a thing is strictly rejected by it. For example, on principle, murder is wrong--evil--because it is the ultimate destruction of one's right to life. But for the same reason, self-defense, up to and including killing one's attacker when necessary is a completely moral action. Another quick example is the principle the honesty is a virtue. However, if by being honest, say telling a kidnapper where one's child is hiding would be grossly immoral. Context is important when it comes to how and when to correctly apply principles. Things aren't simply valid without context unless it is the metaphysically given.

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I'm trying to get what you just typed. Would it be ok to actively lie and deceive the kidnapper?

Also I'm finishing listening to a recorded speech of John Galt. Its paraphrased (I've printed the full one out). So far it bears out what I've felt all along. We, the Atlases, do not need you, and you, the average, need us. Objectivism is really great for architects, engineers, inventors, etc. What does it offer an average person who will always be average? A true morality?

It seems to me...that at the very least the proletariat (or w/e) "steal" from the Atlases, while allowing the Atlases to keep enough of the results of their own production to be satisfied enough. This is Machiavellian as hell. Essentially this point of view is "I don't think the Atlases should have 2 g5 airplanes when they could have 1 g5 airplane and thousands could receive healthcare." The John Galt solution is full scale boycott. Why hasn't this happened? Why haven't you all simply refused to be a part of the system; boycott. Don't produce the innovations and don't pay the taxes. Aren't you keeping us, the parasites, strong enough to get the next generation? I don't mean to sound sarcastic, but for a group of people who lionize principle, where is the adherence to principle when it (for once) can negatively affect the Atlas-class?

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I'm trying to get what you just typed. Would it be ok to actively lie and deceive the kidnapper?

Yes, that would be the moral action. That was my point principles are only valid within the correct context. Outside of that context, either, other principle apply or if it is an emergency then morality doesn't apply and one has to use his best judgment.

Objectivists haven't actually shrugged yet because we still live in a relatively free country and via activism there is still time to stop the slide toward statism and collectivism.

It's true that the producers or Prime Mover's of the world don't need anyone for their survival, but this doesn't imply that others are not respected or useful. A man may only have the intelligence to be a streetsweeper, maybe not a giant of industry, but that doesn't mean he isn't of value. His own life is his value and he should strive to be the best streetsweeper that he can be, not out of some duty to others, but because every man should have purpose and pride in doing that purpose to the best of his ability.

Not everyone can create a new technology or whatever, but those that can deserve to profit from their endeavor. That doesn't mean that men of less ability don't have a place in this world--they do. They do the easier work of producing or upkeep or whatever of the technology of the genius's of the world.

Under Capitalism, everyone is payed what they objectively deserve based on their degree of productiveness and others wanting what he produces. Nobody gets more or less than what they have earned and nothing else. How is this unfair? How can someone be opposed to this? How could it possibly be considered just to owe something to someone else based on the fact that you possess the ability to produce and earn and they do not? The good and moral is to persue one's own happiness without causing injury to other's not provide for the "welfare" of random strangers. They have the responsibilty to provide for themselves to the best of their abilities the same as you, and also owe you nothing.

This is all just common sense.

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Well I think it comes down to empathy and the fact that most people would rather not fail than succeed. Succeeding is nice. Failure...well failure can mean death. If I was given the opportunity to bet on a coin toss my life for 10 million...I would refuse the offer. I would rather not have a chance to win, than suffer the loss. This means people say "What if that was me?" and proceed to base public policy on this. You talk a good game until you get into specifics. Let's say that the streetsweeper cannot afford healthcare. I wouldn't want to be without healthcare. Here you have a good guy, working hard...and if he gets sick, his life is financially ruined. Galt tells me that to take away his incentive to work by taking the results of that away from him. Imagine how the street sweeper feels. He worked hard...and is now financially ruined despite his hard work. He will also feel hopeless and bitter.

Also, please tell me why you haven't yourself boycotted a la John Galt? Does the Machiavellian web have you caught? Are you unwilling to give up your quality of life in order to satisfy the principle?

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I'm trying to get what you just typed. Would it be ok to actively lie and deceive the kidnapper?

I think you're missing something key here...it would be terribly immoral NOT to lie and deceive the kidnapper! This is the difference between Objectivists and, say, Kantians.

I want to get back to something here, this idea of principle. You seem to view principle as something detached from reality, floating alongside of it but not really relevant or meaningful in a deep sense. I have something to say about that. I want to note that the following argument, as far as I can see, is entirely my own and should not necessarily be taken as the Objectivist position. In fact, I'm not sure if I can in fairness be called an Objectivist. But I can be called a biologist, so here goes...

You say you don't believe in God. That's good. I don't either. However, you seem to have taken what would be the opposite extreme, pure subjectivism. The wonderful thing about not believing in God is you have freed yourself from the vagaries of an absolute but arbitrary master whose whims you can never fully understand but you hope to, on some level, sway with your personal feelings, as if some kind of almighty deity would care what a funny-looking monkey like one of us would think. But, while the fallacy of God is escapable, the fact of living in this reality, this world, is not. Reality may be a far harsher mistress than a totally arbitrary God, because the principles (there's that word again) or, if you prefer, natural laws of reality never take a day off. They never cease to be, even for a second. Reality cannot be cajoled or bargained with. It is what it is. A is A. Perhaps this is why some who turn their backs on belief in God or Gods or whatever flee to subjectivism, because they cannot bear the thought of ANYTHING being a final judge and jury of their actions which they cannot escape, and so must believe their actions are somehow totally indeterminate, and hence call this "freedom". This is not so. Let me explain why.

You mentioned that which is not adapting is dying. I agree. The essence of life is moving, doing...the stagnant and the paralyzed are the walking dead. But is adaptation causeless, random, responding to nothing? Is any adaptation as good as any other, and do these changes follow no pattern whatsoever? No. I will use an example from nature that I consider to be fairly simple. Let's talk about wolves. Now, I am going to talk about wolves making choices and having options open to them, but I am not attempting to anthropomorphize the wolves nor imply that they are involved in some kind of conscious decision-making process. I am merely asserting that they are phenotypically plastic, which is an observable fact, and it is the only thing necessary to my argument. Let us proceed, then, from there.

A wolf is a wolf. It cannot be a cow, a rabbit, a tree, or a rock. A wolf, to survive, must eat meat. If it does not eat meat it will die. If a wolf attempts to eat grass, dirt, or poison, it will die. Simple as that. A wolf is free to try to eat anything but meat, but it is not free of the consequences.

In order to get meat a wolf has to hunt. Not only that, but it has to hunt in a certain way, and hunt certain kinds of foods. These form the basis of the principles by which wolves exist. On any given day, it may be true that a lazy wolf, who stays behind at the camp, has a sick rabbit walk in front of him, stumble, and die so that he may have a meal, whereas his bretheren wolves come back from their hunt empty-handed. Should we then conclude that it is better to lay around and wait for food, than to go out and hunt at regular intervals? Of course not. If followed consistently, the lazy wolf's practices will lead him to starvation, whereas the wolves that hunt, though they have no guarantee of success on any given outing, will live on. Certainly an adaptation may arise that causes a wolf not to hunt, or to hunt in a markedly novel fashion from his bretheren, but will that adaptation last? Absolutely not. Mutation is random, but selection is not. It is directional, causal, and most importantly, can be described and understood. Things act according to their natures. A is A.

Like a wolf, a human is a human. We have a nature, and from that nature arises inescapable conditions of existence. It is not an injustice, a tyranny, or a wrong. It simply IS. A human is a human, not something else. The requirements of a human's existence do not change. A human that is, for example, immortal, is not human. He is something else. And by those requirements of being human, we derive principles by which people must live. This is the specific way in which principles are connected to reality. You say that things must be decided on a "case-by-case" basis. But how are we to decide? By what standard? How do you justify changing the standard "case-by-case", if that is what you would advocate? How can you then argue that standard is in any way connected to reality? I thought pragmatism was about "what works". How can anything disconnected from reality be said to work? You say that you object to "principle over people". What do you mean by people? How can you make any judgment about what is good or bad for a person? If each "case" is independent from any other "case", how is any one decision connected to any other, and how can any decision be better than another? I want you to be able to explain to me what harm is done to "people" and why, and how we know it's bad.

It seems to me the kind of freedom you want is the freedom not to experience the consequences of actions. This is not a freedom which is in the power of any person or thing to grant. You can have every person in the world swear up and down, verify and affirm, and believe wholeheartedly that you can be shot with a gun pressed point blank to your naked flesh and it will not put a hole in you, but they can't make it so. Reality is final, ultimate, and inescapable. And that is NOT A BAD THING, unless you believe no achievement is possible to you in the world such as it is. If that is the case, you have a bigger problem than any of us can help you with.

You obviously want to claim that some things, some states, are preferable to other things and states. How do you propose to identify which alternatives are more desirable than others? Or are you willing to dispense with this notion? And if so, how can you have qualms with any choices I make or states of the world I choose to bring about?

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Also, please tell me why you haven't yourself boycotted a la John Galt? Does the Machiavellian web have you caught? Are you unwilling to give up your quality of life in order to satisfy the principle?

You've missed the point. My quality of life is the principle. I cannot satisfy the principle by violating it. In the instance of Galt striking, it was not a sacrifice. It was the best option open to him. We do not live in a world as bad as Galt's. I can still exist freely enough to make it in this world. That is MY CHOICE to make. Don't you see? THAT is the principle.

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I'll answer the second part first as it is shorter. Are you saying all the non Atlases of the world have to do is let you keep some arbitrary amount of the results of your own labor for you to not pull a John Galt? Checkmate. I, the liberal, get to tax the Atlases of the world. I get my cake and I get to eat it too. The Atlases go right on producing innovations that benefit all of mankind and I get to tax them for the profit they make on it. And what do they do in response? They take the money :dough: You can call me immoral and evil, but you have to admire the ironies involved once you recognize this paradoxical paradigm.

Now, I agree some things simply ARE. Gravity IS. Objectivism isn't this. It is a philosophy. It seeks to tell people what they should do; not what fundamental laws they cannot escape. No nation has existed without gravity, they have no choice in the matter. Objectivism, right or wrong as a philosophy, is a choice.

You asked me by what standard do I choose? Well, if I'm a utilitarian (something that seems interesting) it is based on the happiness present in the world. If I take 1,000 dollars from a billionaire and buy food for a man who is hungry, then happiness has increased. The billionaire's life hasn't changed much and the hungry man has had a large improvement of happiness. I would follow this principle as far as possible until it out-leveraged the productive engine of capitalism. I have no desire to push the Atlases of the world into a corner where they feel they have no recourse except to "Pull a John Galt". As long as I don't cross that critical line, I'm ok having the government deal in the redistribution of wealth.

You asked me what I meant by people in regards to people over principal? Well I was reading some objectivist postings and one person had a signature like this: Fiat justitia ruat caelum ("Let justice be done, though the heavens fall"). This to me exemplifies the principle over person attitude. I want to deal with things as they come up and offer solutions that have the best consequences (both short and long term). A perfect example is the bailout. I don't want to bail these people out. Yet if I don't, the financial markets will seize and I will be adversely affected. Principal says let justice be done though the market falls. Well...no. Justice is nice; but the financial engine of the US grinding to a halt sucks.

To wrap up, my overarching goal is maximizing happiness while not breaking the creative engine of capitalism and freedom that power everything. Pure freedom and individuality are penultimate goals. Also, throughout history, it has been the supremely principled who made life so damned hard. How can you govern with an Objectivist politician? Compromise is a necessary part of government and an Objectivist balks at compromise; their way or the high way. I

Lastly, situations I highlighted earlier are pragmatically why I cannot accept your POV as ideal. A boss with the power to fire me essentially for thought crime by making lie detector tests part of the condition of employment scares the hell out of me. I'm at a loss in regards to a group of people who get angry if the government takes 5$ from them via coercion but would have no problem being thought-probed by some busy-body interloper. Maybe the boss would be an Objectivist who would fire anyone with any left-wing ideas, eh? Leftwingers need not apply; brain scan condition of employment. The last thing you need is some smartass college kid trying to unionize your workers.

See you guys tomorrow. I'm off to dream of workers casting off chains and taking over the means of production :P

Edited by JohnS
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Now, I agree some things simply ARE. Gravity IS. Objectivism isn't this. It is a philosophy. It seeks to tell people what they should do; not what fundamental laws they cannot escape. No nation has existed without gravity, they have no choice in the matter. Objectivism, right or wrong as a philosophy, is a choice.

I think you'll find we disagree on this. Objectivism founds itself not in wishy-washy notions of some arbitrary thing that people want to believe, but is instead inductively reached as with any scientific principle. The simplest example of this are the axioms of the philosophy - the things which cannot be denied without contradicting yourself (that existence exists, that consciousness exists and that things are what they are - existence possesses identity). Someone else can go into this in more depth, as I am pressed for time, but the point is that Objectivism does derive itself from the facts of man and of reality, not some desire for a better world (though it does, incidentally, create that). You can probably find a hundred iterations of this by typing something like 'Objectivism three axioms' into Google.

I want to deal with things as they come up and offer solutions that have the best consequences (both short and long term). A perfect example is the bailout. I don't want to bail these people out. Yet if I don't, the financial markets will seize and I will be adversely affected. Principal says let justice be done though the market falls. Well...no. Justice is nice; but the financial engine of the US grinding to a halt sucks.

To wrap up, my overarching goal is maximizing happiness while not breaking the creative engine of capitalism and freedom that power everything.

You keep deriding principle and say you want what is 'best'. What is best? To say something is 'best' means it best meets a certain standard, and a standard must be chosen on principle - unless you want to concede that your entire notion of what is best is entirely arbitrary, and is then less grounded in any reason or reality as you claim our philosophy to be.

May I add - the suggestion to read Atlas Shrugged is not for the final speech, magnificent as it is. The point is that every argument you lay out there is shown in the light of day. It is not that it simply says, 'Some men believe that we should sacrifice ourselves for the weaker men. They're fags, lol.' It is that it takes your view of the world and says, 'Ok, let us play it out in reality and see where it takes us'. It takes your pragmatic view of the world, your desire to 'chain' Atlas without choking him and sees how long it can last - after all, you don't believe in principle, so how do measure when is 'enough' chaining?

Perhaps yours is when people have enough to afford food, bread and a doctor; to another man, it requires that Atlas be cut open and his guts paraded through the street. The point is you reject principle, so you reject that the sacrfice should have any limit.

Edited by Tenure
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You guys do realize that JohnS has already EXPLICITLY stated that no argument will persuade him. It does not matter how reasonable you present the case for Objectivism, his feelings and fear dictate that one man's needs gives him license to take the property of another man who has been more lucrative. That is the redundant theme throughout his posts. He rejects the idea that a man is solely responsible for his own life.

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He rejects the idea that a man is solely responsible for his own life.

I think we have found that he rejects reason as a means of acquiring knowledge. Of course, a dismissal of reason can amount to nothing other than an acceptance of faith. In any issue, it's either faith or reason. John seems to transfer his faith in a deity to faith in his "feelings", so that feelings guide his thoughts. If something "feels" wrong because it is scary, then it must be wrong. The pesky question "Where do your feelings come from?" is blanked out.

It's ethical intuitionism at its finest or perhaps some form of early 20th century emotivism.

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What John is, is an altruist.

Well, yes, but his method is a mixture of pragmatism with intrincism. (with a little bit of Machiavellianism/Marxism in his worldview)

He holds certain things to be morally good/repugnant. He doens't have an actual principle or reason why. They are almost as a matter of faith. He cannot be convinced and that is his best actual argument. His 2nd best argument is the tsk tsk tsk of moral outrage (the "do you guys really believe this stuff?" or "I just read this and I am numb" arguments), or the standard of group acceptance (the "you realize this view will marginalize you" argument).

As far as the method of acheiving these moral ideals, anything goes. Shit's gotta get done. Stalin got shit done. Voila. He believes that an "adaptive stability" is possible - but without being able to elucidate any proper mechanism by which that happens or remains stable. That its a dog eat dog world out there, that there is no difference between political power and economic power so the little guy's gonna get shit upon. So if we gotta force a few people to behave, so what.

So here's the key differences an Objectivist has.

1. There is a significant difference between political power and economic power. The 2nd is derived from voluntary trade. Rand goes into detail about his difference and illustrates it in Atlas.

2. There is a significant difference between being forced at the point of a gun (i.e. not having a choice) and having to make tough choices in difficult circumstances. What John describes as choice is actually convenience. John would like life to be convenient for everyone according to whatever inarguable standard of convenience he holds.

3. Principles are not dogma in Objectivism. They are contextual. What John gives above as the "you can't convince me otherwise." Now that's dogma.

4. Objectivism differentiates the ethical with the political. What is immoral vs. what should be illegal. As long as dealings among men are voluntary, life (i.e. the market) rewards the moral. There is no need for the govt to force every immoral act to be moral. Governments job is to make sure that dealing among men are only voluntary (according to the definition of #2). It's not that bosses who ask for sex from their female employees isn't immoral. It is. But it's also irrational to the running of an effective business. Men who don't engage in that practice will create better places to work that will be demanded by potential employees. The workplace a man offers helps determine the quality of the people he hires, and that in turn helps determine whether his business will be more successfull, eventually replacing the guys who have to do it the other way. The market works to drive such behavior away, in the priority that people values cause them to want it driven away. It's not that such things are highly improbable it is that the market (the system of voluntary interactions) works to make them so. He may not like the pace at which certain things happen, and so he's willing to speed things up by forcing them, which ultimately destroys the whole system - essentially killing the golden goose.

It's been fascinating to watch the ideas which drive unfold, and I apologize, John, if you feel as though we're now talking about you rather than to you. However, by your own admission, you can't be convinced, and so I'm just taking you at your word.

Edited by KendallJ
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The Liberal view of the world is the same as the socialist view of the world. "From each according to his ability to each according to his need." One is just moderated while the other is not.

The socialist says (in theory) that ALL production belongs to everyone.

The Liberal says no matter who you are, no matter how hard you work you should only be entitled to a certain amount of what you produce. There is no formula, no principal to be applied to this amount, just a pragmatic arbitrary sum that the Liberal believes he can take without you making too much of a fuss about it.

In this JohnS is right.

Are you saying all the non Atlases of the world have to do is let you keep some arbitrary amount of the results of your own labor for you to not pull a John Galt? Checkmate. I, the liberal, get to tax the Atlases of the world. I get my cake and I get to eat it too. The Atlases go right on producing innovations that benefit all of mankind and I get to tax them for the profit they make on it. And what do they do in response? They take the money smile.gif You can call me immoral and evil, but you have to admire the ironies involved once you recognize this paradoxical paradigm.
We, the Objectivists allow this to happen, because we still believe in our nations, we still believe that all is not lost. We still see more freedom than oppression. Meanwhile all the Liberals have to do is stay one step short of a seminal event (such as the taxation without representation that caused the American Revolution) and they have us in perpetuity.

The first time I read this

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. ~J.S. Mill
I thought I had found true freedom, but upon further examination I realized (with the help of some here like West) that this noble statement is chained by a floating abstraction in the ideal of "harm" which Mill and other Utilitarians took and applied to that great faceless non-entity collectively called the society.

JohnS would probably say "So what" he would see it as a good thing but the problem with this floating abstraction is that there is no definition of who or what composes this "society". Is it every person? Certainly that isn't possible. Is it the majority? But what if the majority is in favour of slavery, so no that can't be it. It must be some ever changing undefinable group... Government? Is government (however that is constituted) the society? I would say in JohnS's ideal that is exactly what composes society... a democratic government. Set on autopilot save for a course correction every 4 years.

JohnS, people here have been calling your examples fantastical, surely no businessman would demand as part of employment that his workers take a polygraph, or have sex with him. Well maybe some will try. I'll give you that, flat out. There are some truly disgusting human beings out there. But this businessman is a single individual, now unless you believe that man is by his very nature a truly disgusting being you must agree that any such case of despicable behavior would be a deviation from the norm, not the norm itself.

The deviation from the norm is the danger of an Objectivist society, though as has already been pointed out, the individual in an Objectivist society always has a choice. The initiation of force is denied the individual businessman, the law of an Objectivist society would ensure that at least as well (and probably better) than our liberal society does today. The businessman can not force the person to take the job and then force the person to take a polygraph or have sex with him, should he try he would go to jail.

Now, since we can most likely agree that deviation from the norm constitutes a danger in any society I will turn things around.

Lets say we live in your liberal utopia where the government takes from the people and distributes. What happens when the government demands that you take in a homeless person to feed and clothe? The liberal government is surely abusing your rights, but are they? By your reasoning earlier, surely the sorrow you feel being forced to share with a destitute hobo isn't equal to that hobo's happiness in having 3 hot meals a day and a place to lay his head.

Election you say, so sorry, it's not election time yet. No vote for you!!!

Now, in your examples of the Objectivist society we said that the person had a choice... What choice would you have JohnS? It isn't an individual you are fighting against, it is the government, the single agency in a society (of whatever stripe) that has the legal authority to use force. If you said no to the businessman what would he do, refuse to hire you. If you said no to the government what would they do? Take your money? Seize your property? Incarcerate you? Kill you?

I suppose that you could start a Rebellion, but gee JohnS if the government only did it to a few people, and then only the ones like you who could afford to support the homeless then, pragmatically there would be no reason for the rest of your countrymen to revolt.

JohnS, your ideal derides the possible abuses of the individual and demands protections from them but ignores the collective abuses possible under a government. Your insistence that somehow we (humans) if left to our own devices are as evil as they come somehow then morphs into the assumption that once those evil individuals are banded together in a faceless anonymous entity called a government that everything is going to be alright. I seem to recall studies that seemed to indicate that the anonymity of large groups brings out the worst behavior, not better behavior.

In short an individual can do horrible things to a limited number of people, a government can do horrible things to every person under their control...

Thanks very much but I'd rather be subjected to, and free to negate the whims of the odd random asshole than be controlled and dictated to by a government full of assholes with limitless power and scope to abuse me.

Edited by Zip
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Thanks very much but I'd rather be subjected to, and free to negate the whims of the odd random asshole than be controlled and dictated to by a government full of assholes with limitless power and scope to abuse me.

Dammit man. I think I'm going to cry that was so good.

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Well to be honest I think we've come to a point that is a bit out of my league. I haven't read Atlas Shrugged (yet; I said I would, and it will happen) and on sheer knowledge of philosophy you have shown you know more than me. I need time to do some sorting. Last night and this morning I've just been thinking over all that's been discussed. I need a little digestion time for all this new information to get properly sorted and judged; I'm backlogged on knowledge.

This means I can't respond like I want to: intelligently. I will only be able to answer on what I feel somewhat confident about in regards to what was said by all of you since my previous post. I'm not ignoring other points.

One thing I do know is that Objectivism isn't gravity or like gravity. A isn't B. You may assert that Objectivism is the only correct philosophy in regards to reason or rationality. You cannot argue that it is inescapable in the way I meant. If the human mind simply couldn't be communist, or whatever philosophy system, then that would be the case. You may argue that my Machiavellian thought process is wrong. You may not argue it is impossible; it is currently happening. As I speak, the Atlases of the world produce AND are taxed. I'm trying to walk a tight line here to communicate in a frame you will accept, so please don't take the next few sentences smugly. Atlas is "chained" and not "choked" in the same way a horse pulling a cart is chained and not choked. I can't provide the scientifically exact point at which the horse revolts or dies, but I do know intuitively that if I tie the horse to the cart, the horse will pull it. I've seen it happen. For all of human history it seems the Atlas has been able to be chained and not choked. The Soviet Union and other communist states DID in fact choke Atlas to death. They are on the ash heaps of history. The entire modern world and all of it's successes and vibrant middle class rest on the bedrock that you can chain Atlas to a certain extent without him breaking the chains.

If you wish to prove me wrong on this, you but need to pull a Galt. I think you read Galt and say "if only". I'm...for lack of a better term calling your bluff. I don't think anyone, Atlas or not, has the sheer inner strength to actually do what Galt does. That's what my philosophy and the entire modern economy world are based on. Granted it is a precarious balance, but as long as we truly respect the grand contributions of Atlas and listen to the Atlases of the world to measure how content they are, we can walk the tightrope.

Whether this should be attempted (or continued) is of course extremely open. You've all impacted me there. I cannot stand and say "I'm right because". You've shaken some core beliefs. You've forced me to accept "by any means necessary" or abandon my particular philosophical strain all together. Not fun. I can't help but notice in my own mind, however, that the first thing I think of is consequences. "If this is accepted, what are the consequences?" If I find said consequences unacceptable, then the idea is a non-starter. I definitely thank you all for this discussion because I wasn't even aware that other people didn't think that way.

I'm curious, would you agree with me that for all of human history (well the recorded bits anyway) that Atlas has been chained? Haven't we gotten pretty far and done some amazing things because of it? Could an Objectivist person in, say, a legislature compromise, or would they filibuster the smallest deviations?

It is important to note that...your likelihood of converting me is quite small at this point and I'm asking these questions and coming to conclusions you most likely do not like. I don't want any false pretenses or "string-along" type stuff. I'm just trying to learn as much as possible and you are all quite intelligent. I reiterate, if at anytime you feel I'm a waste of your time that you do not wish to partake of, I can be asked to leave. It's just very hard to leave of my own volition when this has been such an enriching venture.

Thanks :dough:

EDIT FOR ZIP: I've just seen your post. One thing I thought extremely interesting is that you wrote some things based on consequences. You stated that you were choosing the odd random asshole over the big government asshole.(EDIT: That previous sentence lends itself to many a gutterminded joke, eh?) When faced with two options you didn't like, you chose the least undesirable. If, however, this were correct, why have people routinely voted for more and more of the government and less and less of the private? Either people found it more likely to have undesirable results under the more free system or they were tricked into thinking that things are better now than they were in the past when the reverse would be true. Governments don't tend to act in those "asshole businessman" ways because of all the different inputs and the size of its scope. Essentially, the government can screw you harder than anything else. The asshole individual, I would argue, is more likely to screw you, however. This was a quick response, I shall re-read your post.

Edited by JohnS
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I'm curious, would you agree with me that for all of human history (well the recorded bits anyway) that Atlas has been chained? Haven't we gotten pretty far and done some amazing things because of it? Could an Objectivist person in, say, a legislature compromise, or would they filibuster the smallest deviations?

The time we came the closest to having Atlas unchained in the US is from about 1776 - 1890. And the evidence that this was the most revolutionary time in history as far as the standard of living of the world goes is indisputable.

Before that the world lived with an average life span of about 25 for the tens of thousands of years before that. We came pretty far, and did amazing things because we unchained him for once. Leading up to that we were still buidling the principles that would even allow him to be unchained, but the Greeks and the Renaissance are pretty good examples of that process. Religion gave us the Dark Ages. the more we chain him up now, the more we start coasting on momentum, and eventually that will cease.

Compromise? sure. On anything? no? Remember. principles...

By the way, thank you. You seem to be a pretty earnest individual. When I was commenting on your method an ideas, i hope you didnt' take that as a personal judgement of your character in any way.

Edited by KendallJ
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Quick question, by what right do you think it is okay for any person or group of people to "chain" another man to any degree? You do understand that you are promoting slavery don't you? It may not be full blown slavery, but it is slavery when you "chain" a man to any degree and force him to give you a portion of what he has produced. How can you look yourself in the mirror at the same time while promoting such an evil?

Edited by EC
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The businessman can not force the person to take the job and then force the person to take a polygraph or have sex with him, should he try he would go to jail.

Ah, but Zip, there is part of John's problem. You, Zip, are imagining the businessman pulling out a gun and making the guy sign the employment contract--or siccing the government on him, through his politician cronies, or some such. Such would indeed be worthy of jail in an Objectivist society, but this is not what John is thinking of. Since he doesn't understand what force is:

The businessman can not force the person to take the job

...will only be answered, in John's mind with something like: "If his is the only factory in the area then you are forced to work for him, if someone has a monopoly you are forced to buy their product, if I own a certain brand of car I am forced to buy parts from that manufacturer."

Never mind the fact that all but one of these situations are "forced" by the choices of the person allegedly being "forced." They do not have to live there, you did not have to buy their car. The exception is the monopoly example; there are two ways a monopoly could conceivably exist--the government mandates the monopoly (e.g., the phone company, the utility company, the post office) or a company truly succeeds in outcompeting everyone--offering an excellent product at a low price. In the first case, you truly ARE being forced, but look who is doing the forcing--government. In the second case, gee, I love being "forced" to buy a good product at a low price. (Sarcasm aside you can always do without, right?)

then force the person to take a polygraph or have sex with him

Again, John would most certainly consider it force to tell the employee "Have sex with me or I will no longer give you money and you will no longer be obligated to come here and work for me"

Well, now that I have phrased it like that the absurdity should be self evident. But it won't be to John, because after all the employee must have money to buy food in order to survive, and the boss is threatening to withhold it.

Of course, why it should be objectionable, in John's eyes to withhold money for refusing to have sex, but not objectionable for the boss to withhold money if the employee wont work for him, is an exercise for John to work on. Actually I suspect John DOES fundamentally have a problem with withholding money for not doing the work; he has openly stated he'd compel billionaires to give money away. (John, are you saying the worker has a *right* to be paid even if he does no work?)

But let me return to "the employee must have money to buy food in order to survive" for a moment. Leaving aside the fact that employee could garden and hunt for food instead of getting money to buy it, the fact that we must eat to survive is a metaphysical given. It is reality. It is not "force" for me to threaten to *not* give you something that I produced, but that you need to survive. If it were, we would all be guilty of using "force" every second a child is starving in Africa or Bangladesh. (John, if this is what you believe, you'd better start sending all of your disposable income overseas.)

John indeed is running off a principle, though he does not understand that fact, and prefers to hide behind a "utilitarian" model so he can evade the consequences of his principle whenever they become too obvious, and that principle is that everyone worse off than you has a claim on you.

This has been of some value to me: It caused me to think this through once again along a slightly different pathway, and using different verbiage, than I have in the past (which will make me a stronger advocate), and it demonstrated (again) that a liberal (as the word is misused today) is merely a socialist who hasn't been goaded into following his principles consistently--as I see we are managing to do with the "liberal" JohnS, who is no doubt well on his way to being the socialist JohnS as a result of this conversation.

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One thing I do know is that Objectivism isn't gravity or like gravity. A isn't B. You may assert that Objectivism is the only correct philosophy in regards to reason or rationality. You cannot argue that it is inescapable in the way I meant. If the human mind simply couldn't be communist, or whatever philosophy system, then that would be the case.

This was your earlier point that I was trying to address that you don't seem to be understanding. Of course you are free to hold any ideas or philosophy you want, just as the wolf is free to hunt or not hunt, or to hunt ineffectually, or to try and eat grass. What you can never be free of is the consequences of these ideas and choices. The actions you take based on your ideas will produce effects in the real world which you cannot evade and no one can protect you from, no matter how you or they or anyone else feel about it.

You seem to be focused on a very "macro" level. Look inward for a second, because many of the inescapable consequences of bad philosophy manifest themselves there first, long before they become obvious in the outside world. The choices you make, the character in yourself that you create, will define your relationship to yourself, how you think and feel about yourself. Do you like yourself? Do you think you have worth? What is the source and nature of that worth? Do you feel that your life is purposeful, or is it empty and seemingly devoid of significance? You speak often of a fear that you have. What is the source and nature of that fear? You must understand that the easiest and most reliable indicator of your relationship to reality is your relationship to yourself.

Let's put it all on the table for a moment. I'm a struggling grad student. I can't work because a PhD program is a full-time endeavor. I have a fellowship but it's not enough. The fact that I was not born rich is terribly unfortunate. I demand that you give me all the money you make except that which you need to eat, pay rent (mortgage?), and keep the lights on. The first penny above that and beyond goes to me. Every second you work for that money is for my benefit. Can you tell me any reason why this shouldn't be so? After all, I need it. And I need it for something really good, to further my education. Moreover, with this education I will be a professor, which is "valuable to society", is it not? Won't I be serving my community? Obviously, I need your money more than you do. I don't feel bad taking it from you because I don't value you. I don't even know you. Can you offer me a reason to value you enough such that I find taking your money problematic? You can't resort to feelings, as I feel nothing for you, certainly not in comparison to what I feel for myself. By your own admissions above you are "Joe Average" and I will be a great scholar. Can't I do far more "good" with your money than you? Also, don't tell me that you pay your taxes and you pay for programs that help me. I'm telling you it's not enough and I need it all. If you don't have a way to answer the above satisfactorily, I will give you my address and you can start sending me the check every month. I'll make sure not to thank you or even acknowledge you exist, because your willingness to give me your money is irrelevant as I am owed it. ;)

Not trying to be harsh here, I just want to see your line of thinking on this. I'm hoping I win so I get your check. :dough:

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Thanks very much but I'd rather be subjected to, and free to negate the whims of the odd random asshole than be controlled and dictated to by a government full of assholes with limitless power and scope to abuse me.

Hmm... Good line.... Mel Gibson's line in The Patriot is similiar - "Why should I trade one tyrant three-thousand miles away for three-thousand tyrants one mile away?"

Can you tell me any reason why this shouldn't be so?

Themadkat, John's problem with your argument will be that he is not a billionaire. So a better practical solution would be for the billionaire to send you HIS money since he has so much of it, he would never miss the amount you demand. But you can correct me if I'm wrong JohnS.

Edited by KevinDW78
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Kendall: I'm not sure how "Compromise? yes. on anything? no." makes sense. Do you have some examples to flesh that out? I'm imagining you compromising on, say, the color of the national flag. You like blue, someone else like red, and you compromise with purple. I think its also safe to assume that I don't have the rosiest view of the industrial age. True, I don't think of it only as the Gilded Age, but there is that aspect to it. You'll be hard pressed to tell me that things like worker safety laws really hamper human progress. You're strong on principle but once you actually delve into the consequential I think you're more hard pressed.

EC: I dunno. Good question. Maybe I'm a sociopath with a narrow focus. Maybe I have a Robin Hood complex. Maybe I'm consumed by jealousy.

Maybe the acceptance of an idea such as "by any means necessary" not only involves my willingness to sacrifice Atlas but also the sacrifice of my morality. Interesting stuff, eh? Maybe I'm some philosophically wayward Sherman marching on Atlanta, torch in hand. Maybe I'm defending the corrupted slave city, whose town square has Atlas in chains, from the purifying cleanse of an Objectivist Sherman, torch in hand.

Maybe I don't claim I'm right. Maybe at worst I'm claiming that I can chain Atlas and betting none will stop me. If I and people like me (which would be, what, 98% of the population) are tyranny, then throw us off. Many libertarians / Objectivists reference Jefferson. His actual politics would be debateable but the man owned slaves. He knew it was wrong but he didn't give them up because it was too hard. Most slaves didn't revolt because it would have been too hard. Might this be the same? Might Atlas be the slave who won't revolt because it would be too hard. Might 98% of people be slave owners who might readily recognize what they do is wrong but cannot give it up because it would be too hard? If you judge me, judge Jefferson too.

The closest justification I can think of beyond this is that biologically I think humans are interconnected. We are social animals beyond the economic idea of "traders". Call it a weird outgrowth of evolution via the selfish gene but I think we are interconnected to some extent. I do not think we are as integrated as an ant colony but neither do I think we are lone wolves. Even if human production could reach a glorious zenith under Objectivism (and I would debate that) I don't think it is a path to happiness which is stubbornly based on our evolutionarily designed neuronal system.

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John you keep saying that something to the affect that Objectivism is for the "elites" while dismissing the "average man". The following quote is from a book called Facets of Ayn Rand available free online here ~~> http://facetsofaynrand.com/book/chap1-work...r_ayn_rand.html . The following is a Q&A from a lady that worked for her as her personal secretary/typist during the creation of Atlas Shrugged. The quote shows why your premises about O'ism are wrong and show's how Miss Rand and by implification Objectivism values every man.

ARI

What about lunch?

MARY ANN

She often took her lunch into the study and had it at her desk. It was a light lunch—sometimes just pumpernickel bread and some cheese. There’s an interest­ing luncheon story, too.

One day, she was in the kitchen gett­ing lunch, and I was at my typ­ing table. She called to me, ask­ing if I could come in and help her. I didn’t know what I could do to help the author of Atlas Shrugged, but I was pleased by the request. I went in and saw that she was hold­ing a hot dog, and she asked me if I thought it was edible. When I asked why, she said that it had been in the refrigerator for a while and it was shriveled. So I examined it; it was wrinkled but I pointed out that the color was good and it didn’t have a bad odor. So, I told her that if it were immersed in boil­ing water, it would plump up. I asked her if she wanted me to do it, and she said, “Oh, no. You have work to do.” That amused me, because my work con­sist­ed of typ­ing up her bril­liant thoughts while she was go­ing to cook a hot dog!

Some minutes later, she came out of the kitchen, hold­ing up a plump hot dog speared by a fork. “You were right,” she said, and thanked me for the sugges­tion. I said some­thing to the effect of “from each accord­ing to his ability.” Her immediate response was, “Check your premises!”

In the discussion that followed, I learned that the premise I had to check was my assump­tion that because I wasn’t writ­ing the equivalent of Atlas Shrugged, noth­ing I had to say or do was of value to her. She pointed out, on that very example, that I knew some­thing she didn’t, and that I had made her lunch possible.

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Well obviously Objectivism values every individual in regards to what they can produce. I'm simply saying that that isn't enough. In the face of huge excess I think we can provide things like basic human services. This is (I think) very utilitarian in nature. I want maximum happiness, or at least to move in that direction. The ideas of Utilitarianism (suggested by someone on here) seem neat to me. I can take a small, barely missed amount from someone on high, and greatly improve happiness below. This appeals to me...I suggest reading my post above to get a bit more.

NOTE: I have found a free ebook of atlas shrugged. Score.

Edited by JohnS
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I can take a small, barely missed amount from someone on high, and greatly improve happiness below.

Bold Mine

This is the problem with what you are promoting, it involves taking, i.e., theft from others. Theft from a group of people because they have the ability to produce. It is theft because of his virtues while giving the loot to others that don't these virtue's, i.e., have not earned what they received. I'm sure you would call the police if someone broke into your house and stole your hard-earned belongings. How is it then that you could consider it wrong to be a victim of such theft while simultaneosly promoted in the case of others?

Edit to add this quote ~~> At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race. But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right.-- Ayn Rand

Edited by EC
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EDIT FOR ZIP: I've just seen your post. One thing I thought extremely interesting is that you wrote some things based on consequences.

There are consequences to everything John, the consequences of a statist approach is governmental control, impossible for an individual to change, fight or avoid. The consequences of Objectivism is to deal with people who may not be rational, but who can be ignored, defeated or legally censured.

You seem to have a pessimistic view of individualism John, but at the same time you have trust in those same individuals when cloistered in the anonymity of government. Why?

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