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I strongly disagree with Mr. Peikoff

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windyfellow
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My problem with Mr. Peikoff is the following:

Peikoff endorsed John Kerry (while nevertheless thinking of Kerry as a "disgustingly bad" candidate) against George W. Bush (whom he called "apocalyptically bad"), on the basis of Bush's religiosity

In advance of the 2006 elections, Peikoff recommended voting only for Democrats, to forestall what he sees is a rise in influence of the religious right, adding:

'Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer [Democrats], and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer [Republicans], it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because "both are bad."'

After I read this, I nearly fell out of my computer chair- how could Ayn Rand's supposed heir say something so irrational?

How are the democrats weak and enfeebled compared to republicans? If anything they are stronger- they have a large quantity of people supporting them that will go to extremes most republicans wouldn't even think of!

Even if he somehow explains why the democrats are weak, why does that justify voting for them? Republicans, at least, favor a move towards something a bit closer to our morals(though still far from it)

I have read posts by some on these forums that say "religion is the new real problem, socialism is a dieing trend." Well, let me ask you, is it religion that used billions of taxpayer's dollars to bail out the failing mortgage companies? Is it religion that is causing our current crisis? NO! The real threat is the pure, unadulterated socialism ideal that is preached time after time by members of the democratic party. Sure, Bush isn't the greatest but I shudder to think of what Gore or Kerry would do with their power when we have a democratic congress in session.

Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals?

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Whew, you're late to that debate. There are thread all ove here discussing this issue.

really? I never found anything specifically about this... it's come up under other topics but I wanted a debate solely about these statements made by Mr. Peikoff. Maybe i'm not looking hard enough...

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Even if he somehow explains why the democrats are weak, why does that justify voting for them? Republicans, at least, favor a move towards something a bit closer to our morals(though still far from it)

This gets less and less true every day. At this point in time, I'd say the only real differences between the two (At least in regard to how more or less free they will make us) is that one is side will lead us to communism, while the other side, to fascism. It has gone far beyond "they are both bad."

I'd suggest you read Craid Biddle's article "Mcbama vs America" in The Objective Standard, if you haven't already. There are other places to look as well, but that is the most concise and readable one out there that I know of.

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really? I never found anything specifically about this... it's come up under other topics but I wanted a debate solely about these statements made by Mr. Peikoff. Maybe i'm not looking hard enough...

You really should take a look at what Rand wrote regarding conservatives. Her Journals are a very intersting place to see some of the disgust she had for them, and the reasons which still hold true today. Given that, I think the amazement at Peikoff is not warranted. It reflects a misunderstanding of how Rand viewed conservatism.

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Republicans, at least, favor a move towards something a bit closer to our morals(though still far from it)...
As Kendall said, this topic has been discussed repeatedly. Also, there are a few fresh thread using examples from the current election. However, since you appear to be new to the topic, I'd highly recommend the following article: "The Decline and Fall of American Conservativism", by C. Bradley Thompson Edited by softwareNerd
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Well, let me ask you, is it religion that used billions of taxpayer's dollars to bail out the failing mortgage companies? Is it religion that is causing our current crisis? NO! The real threat is the pure, unadulterated socialism ideal that is preached time after time by members of the democratic party. Sure, Bush isn't the greatest...
Peikoff's reasons aside, one problem with what you say is that many people see Republicans just as much responsible for the economic crisis and its underlying socialism. After all, how many years did they control the legislature and executive?

In a choice between socialism and religion+socialism, you can't be surprised when free-market minded people are indifferent to the GOP.

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In a choice between socialism and religion+socialism, you can't be surprised when free-market minded people are indifferent to the GOP.

(bold added)

Although it might important to note that the GOP is not as much socialist as the Democrats are. Or at least are not as open about it. Still, both are evil.

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The GOP is more insidious because they disguise thier Statist/Socialist tendacies under a cloak, paying lip-service to liberty while enacting regulations restricting it. Add the religious elements in and you have a Theocracy devoted to the principles of Altruism.

The Dems are at least transparent in thier intentions, at least to anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex.

Edited by Maximus
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The GOP is more insidious because they disguise thier Statist/Socialist tendacies under a cloak, paying lip-service to liberty while enacting regulations restricting it. Add the religious elements in and you have a Theocracy devoted to the principles of Altruism.

I said that the GOP might be disguising it. I am not agreeing that the GOP or the Dems are worse, I just thought it was worth noting.

The Dems are at least transparent in thier intentions, at least to anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex.

I don't think we have many of those left... :P

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I honestly doubt you heard him "endorse" anybody. He may have urged us to punish the republicans in 2004, by voting against them. As far as this year, all I've heard him say is that he, personally, is probably going to vote democrat. That hardly fits your characterization of an endorsement.

Obviously you're not likely to get dr. Peikoff to answer you, and I don't think anyone here is able to speak for him, so here's why I think republicans are more dangerous:

In the 60's, leftist ideology and government policies peaked in America. There were price-controls, huge amounts of regulation, windfall income taxes all throughout the 70's, the culture was quickly moving toward the left well into the 70's.

That ideology however, while it suited the cynical intellectuals, had no answers for the growing masses who fell for it, so many of them turned to the Evangelical Church for guidance. (for a more detailed account of that period check out the video lectures on the ARI page)

My main point is that socialism is indeed a failed ideology, rejected for practical considerations by almost all Americans: in fact, when I talk to any of my non-objectivist friends, the only reason they will all vote democrat (at least for congress) this year, is because they hate the religious right, not because they want more government spending. The reason why the democratic party is weak is in fact their ideology: in a country that didn’t clearly recognize the perils of socialism someone, anyone, running for president against the incumbent republican party, after 8 years of George W. Bush, would be ahead by over 40 % easily. His approval ratings have been under 25% for the past 3 years, and they are much lower than they were two years ago, when the republicans were crushed in the midterms. The only two things holding Obama back this year are his leftist ideology, and to a lesser extent, his history with reverend Wright’s Baptist church.

Anyway, concentrating on Obama is pointless. Even with the huge hype in some of the media, very few people are buying into this cult of personality type coverage: not because Americans are so wise, but simply because he’s not all that charismatic. The crowds of “millions” who show up at his speeches are actually the same few thousand people who show up for Al Gore or are willing to sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide(see funny episode of Penn&Teller’s Bullshit). While I can’t imagine the American people being self-destructive enough to vote for the incumbent party again, Obama will only win by a small margin, according to all the polls, even though a huge republican defeat would make more sense than ever.

So, while people are voting democrat for practical reasons, the only irrational ideology still growing in America today is religion, mainly of the evangelical variety. If you listen to what they preach (or just play close attention to Bill O’Reilly), socialism is definitely part of the package. Now you will ask: But didn’t you say socialism is dead? No, I said it has been rejected out of practical considerations. What has become clear is that the religious right in America is rejecting reason completely, and is sinking into a deeply irrational, medieval frame of mind, in which neither logic, nor practicality are considered. (that is why we have 5000 dead soldiers in Iraq, and is also why Bush has done nothing to curtail the welfare-state or government spending)

What is also clear, is that the Republican Party has become the political wing of the religious right.

If you look into human history, at what caused the fall of the Roman Empire for example, what brought about the Dark Ages, you will understand that the right is in fact the nightmare of anyone who loves reason, science, technology and individual freedom, far beyond Obama’s short-term plans to tax the middle class or even his plans for the healthcare system.

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So, while people are voting democrat for practical reasons, the only irrational ideology still growing in America today is religion, mainly of the evangelical variety. If you listen to what they preach (or just play close attention to Bill O’Reilly), socialism is definitely part of the package. Now you will ask: But didn’t you say socialism is dead? No, I said it has been rejected out of practical considerations. What has become clear is that the religious right in America is rejecting reason completely, and is sinking into a deeply irrational, medieval frame of mind, in which neither logic, nor practicality are considered. (that is why we have 5000 dead soldiers in Iraq, and is also why Bush has done nothing to curtail the welfare-state or government spending)

What is also clear, is that the Republican Party has become the political wing of the religious right.

You can certainly make the case that the republicans have been piss-poor guardians of liberty and capitalism, but you cannot make the case that, therefore, democrats are worthy of support. Socialism, the idea of state ownership of business, is dead, but welfare statism is alive and well. And it is the democrats who champion the welfare state, environmentalism, egalitarianism, and rabid anti-capitalism. When Mike Huckabee is president and Falwell and Graham run the house and senate, then I will worry about the phantom menace of theocracy. Until then, I will focus on the real menace of Obama, Pelosi and Reed.

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Socialism, the idea of state ownership of business, is dead, but welfare statism is alive and well. And it is the democrats who champion the welfare state, environmentalism, egalitarianism, and rabid anti-capitalism.

That's funny, I had this weird dream about a republican president who is a religious zealot (and as a result managed the war in a manner that ended up killing 5000 american soldiers), who's economic policies led to a huge financial crisis, and who is currently supervising a massive shopping-spree, purchasing 1.5 trillion $ worth of bad debt and unneeded financial institutions. In my strange dream government spending under his presidency went from under 2 trillion/year to 3 trillon+/year, and now we are at a point where no one is calling him an anti-capitalist, because his own party are the ones who are suposed to be against big government.

My intention, which I made clear by the way before, is not to support the democrats. I'm just pointing out that there is no real, practical difference between a McCain and an Obama presidency: they are both socialists, and yes, they are both in favor of govenment control over business. The only difference is an ideological one: Obama is a socialist, and he won't go far with that, too many people recognize his ideas as part of a failed ideology. The republican party, however, is controlled by its religious wing, and they are growing in popularity and are gaining courage. Their ideology poses the biggest long-term threat to reason and human progress, not Pelosi and Reed( who's approval ratings are under 10%).

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When Mike Huckabee is president and Falwell and Graham run the house and senate, then I will worry about the phantom menace of theocracy. Until then, I will focus on the real menace of Obama, Pelosi and Reed.

Peikoff's only point is that this is a "skating to where the puck is, not where it's going to be."

By the time this actually happens, you'll be too late to not suffer the consequences. People like Huckabee don't make the public stage overnight. THere is a huge cultural build-up to the happening. And there is evidence that it is and has been happening for the last 30 years.

It certainly is disconcerting to vote for someone whose ideas you feel you've been fighting for a long time, and that wouldn't be something that one would do lightly. But if it is possible to look ahead and project the building up of a particular movement such as fundamentalist religion, then it would also be possible to say when such movements have run their course even if their last proponents are still in office.

Today, the budgets to drive intellectual ideas of those on the religious right DWARF the budget of groups who would oppose them like ARI. THere are universities, think tanks, and a concerted effort to get religously backed bureaucrats into the mechanism of government. This is fed by an entirely separate elementary and high school system already built up across the country.The Brook/Ghate lectures from OCON on activism (which are available at ARI, for free) detail some of this build up.

If you really expect to wait, then I think you'd have to make a case that the intellectual culture in countries changes overnight with no period of momentum building. You'd have to use examples from history. Peikoff is credible because he's done that for the reverse claim and the evidence is that change happens slowly, but left unchecked bad ideas build up a strong momentum within a culture, and once that is built it will play out.

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That's funny, I had this weird dream about a republican president who is a religious zealot (and as a result managed the war in a manner that ended up killing 5000 american soldiers)

What evidence do you have that it is Bush's supposed 'religious zealotry' that is the cause of his mismanagement of the war?

who's economic policies led to a huge financial crisis

Which policies?

In my strange dream government spending under his presidency went from under 2 trillion/year to 3 trillon+/year, and now we are at a point where no one is calling him an anti-capitalist, because his own party are the ones who are supposed to be against big government.

As I said, you can certainly make the case that the republicans have been piss-poor guardians of liberty and capitalism.

The only difference is an ideological one: Obama is a socialist, and he won't go far with that, too many people recognize his ideas as part of a failed ideology. The republican party, however, is controlled by its religious wing, and they are growing in popularity and are gaining courage.

I think you are wrong on both counts. Maybe in your dream, you failed to notice that it is the democrats that are likely to control the White House, the Senate, The House, a majority of governorships, state legislatures, print and TV media, academia and Hollywood. It is the same leftist ideology that one might find throughout Europe, the UN, environmental science, and well, everywhere you look. In light of all that, I fail to see the threat posed by the supposed right-wing, theocratic bogeyman.

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When Mike Huckabee is president and Falwell and Graham run the house and senate

You fear evangelical leaders rising from the dead and running for Congress? I think you need to watch less television. :)

Edited by KevinDW78
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What evidence do you have that it is Bush's supposed 'religious zealotry' that is the cause of his mismanagement of the war?

1. His own speeches and interviews: -his stated belief that it is our responsibility, entrusted to us by God, to help people who are opressed around the world. His statement that he considers himself an instrument of God; his frequent mention of God and his religion in his speeches and interviews, etc. etc.

2. His actions: -despite the fact that american soldiers signed up to serve and protect the american people, as their commander in chief he decided they should take on the role of the iraqi police, and patrol the streets of Iraq for five years until the Iraqi police were able to step into their role.

3. Accounts of his life, by those who know him well also prove that he is in fact deeply religious=religious zealot.

If you believe religion is a good thing, there is no reason to be offended by that word by the way. For the life of me, I can't figure out why you would put that in quotation marks, and say supposed, as if you're doubting the fact that he is really religious.

Which policies?

1. His efforts to introduce undue government incentives to encourage home-ownership played a big part in the housing-bubble that ultimately caused the financial crisis.

2. His continued support for the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policies. As the president, it was his ultimate responsibility to act if any arm of the government was dropping the ball. These policies made it possible (in a way that would not have been possible in a free market) for financial institutions to take on too much risk (bad debt).

3. The administration and congress's continued support for government regulation forced financial institutions into lending practices they normally would not venture into. (i.e. the Community Reinvestment Act, wich could at any point have been changed, while Congress was under Republican control between 2001 and 2006)

4. His administration's continued and stated willingness to bail out failing companies led to shareholders allowing managers to take risks they normally wouldn't be allowed to take.

There are many others, plenty of them are discussed on this forum and other objectivist sites.

I think you are wrong on both counts. Maybe in your dream, you failed to notice that it is the democrats that are likely to control the White House, the Senate, The House, a majority of governorships, state legislatures, print and TV media, academia and Hollywood. It is the same leftist ideology that one might find throughout Europe, the UN, environmental science, and well, everywhere you look. In light of all that, I fail to see the threat posed by the supposed right-wing, theocratic bogeyman.

The democrats may temporarily control 3 institutions that are relevant on a national stage (I certainly do not advocate voting democrat everywhere locally-there are often independent or secular republican options). Those 3 are: Senate, House, White House. Two of them will be under their control for two years, another for 4. Then, americans may choose to put someone else in control. Hopefully, somewhere down the line the republicans will either change or be replaced by another party.

As far as the media, academia and the movie industry, they certainly are not controlled by any political party. They may be dominated by left leaning people, although not everywhere, and definitely not controlled by any one group.

They are certainly liberal, but if they are to change, moving towards religion is not the answer.

As far as the theocratic boogeyman goes, I feel I've answered this issue as well as I can, and you're not bringing up anything new.(I do agree with KendallJ's post on the subject, of course)

Are you saying it's allright to be religious, or have a christian country (in the name of tradition, of course:) ?

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Dr. Peikoff publicly declared his intention to abstain from voting for president this year in his latest podcast.

The left doesn't have an ideology any more. The only thing they have to offer is a void--give up everything and anything in favor of the poor, the environment, whatever. People seeking guidance are not going to be motivated by emptiness.

People *are* fleeing to religion in droves, however. This is the rising new ideological power in the world and must be fought. It has nothing to do with specific cases but the simple fact that the religious ideology is strong and getting stronger, whereas the leftist ideology has already disintegrated and is guaranteed to be random and ineffectual over the long run.

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People *are* fleeing to religion in droves, however. This is the rising new ideological power in the world and must be fought. It has nothing to do with specific cases but the simple fact that the religious ideology is strong and getting stronger, whereas the leftist ideology has already disintegrated and is guaranteed to be random and ineffectual over the long run.

How can you say that the leftist ideology has disintegrated? And where is your evidence that people are fleeing to religion in droves? I'd even dare to say religion is being weakened over time due to the leftist agenda of the mainstream media. Yes, a 'fight against religion' sounds heroic and makes great fiction, but the point is that with a leftist president and congress our country will be damned until the policies implemented by these marxists collapse on themselves and we are reduced to a state of global poverty.

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If you really expect to wait, then I think you'd have to make a case that the intellectual culture in countries changes overnight with no period of momentum building. You'd have to use examples from history. Peikoff is credible because he's done that for the reverse claim and the evidence is that change happens slowly, but left unchecked bad ideas build up a strong momentum within a culture, and once that is built it will play out.

I am reminded of a line from Babylon 5: "The avalanche has started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."

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People *are* fleeing to religion in droves, however. This is the rising new ideological power in the world and must be fought. It has nothing to do with specific cases but the simple fact that the religious ideology is strong and getting stronger, whereas the leftist ideology has already disintegrated and is guaranteed to be random and ineffectual over the long run.

The only problem with the above statement is that it is not even remotely true in reality. In the real world of the early 21st Century that I live in, religion is dying everyday. True, you have some rather vocal voices from the far-right screaming about the virtues of Jesus or whatever, but most people simply don't take them very serious. Most Americans do claim to be "Christians" of some sort, however most don't normally attend church except on the major holidays or whatever or take most of their religions ideas seriously. Most people simply do not and will never again (because of a myriad of reasons, chiefly our ever-increasingly technological society) take religion seriously.

Socialism, however is running rampant today. Your average citizen mouths nonsense from the left daily and because "everyone else does too" they take this nonsense to be true. Most people are social metaphysicians in that most of what they take to be true is a direct result of what they hold that the majority of others hold to be true. It is socialist ideas that you constantly hear repeated by the average citizen every day NOT religious ideas. Is the religious threat completely defeated, NO, but it is dying. Exactly the opposite is true with regards to the spread of socialism's threat, it is growing exponentially everyday. It's all you hear when you are around average citizen's everyday. Religion is dying in the real world while socialism's reach is growing everyday.

The other day in chat I stated that I distrust intellectuals--even ours. That wasn't an accurate depiction of my thinking on this matter. The following is, and is where I think the root of Peikoff's and others that hold similar views lie.

I respect the views of our "intellectuals" but I don't place their views or arguments above my own-- I will give what they have to say the benefit of the doubt--usually-- because they are spending a good deal of their time thinking about this stuff, but if I see something wrong in what they are saying I'm not going to be afraid to point it out, out of some alleged "lack of respect" argument from others.

Anyways, what happens is when you lock your self up in any "ivory tower" even Objectivism's rather tame version of it, is that you don't always "keep your ear to the streets" anymore, your average conversations are only with others who share your views, etc. So you begin to lose touch with what is actually happening in the real world at the "street level", and you can accidentally turn to a form of rationalism in which your advice to the like minded is based on the world--as you see it-- rather than, the world--as it really is. This is exactly the mistake that I think Peikoff has made, it was unintentional but it still a mistake, at it is a direct result, not of irrationality, but of simply not taking in the full picture of how the world actually is right now.

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How can you say that the leftist ideology has disintegrated?

Can you identify any positive unifying factor or ideology at the base of the leftist movement? No. It's all scare-mongering and claiming catastrophes, which are getting old. While global warming hysteria or whatever may motivate people to some stupid *short term* action, the wise man looks always to the *long term*. When the threats don't manifest, the scare will die out. Eventually even the die-hards will start to realize that the left has simply cried wolf too often.

You do not win hearts and minds over the long term by just being "against" various things, you have to be *for* something and the left stands for *nothing*.

And where is your evidence that people are fleeing to religion in droves?

Let's start with college campuses, where bible study groups are becoming increasingly popular. Or how about the relatively new phenomenon of "Mega-churches"? Or, wait, how about the increasing and frequently violent demonstration against abortion clinics, doctors, and women. How about the fact that many schools are now feeling pressure to teach creationism? How about the fact that a law banning abortion and many forms of *birth control* is up for vote in Colorado this election? How much more evidence do you need?!

The fact that the left is more obviously *odious* than the right doesn't make them a greater threat, and restricting yourself to considering this week's problems is not going to put you in a position to prepare for the long term.

Edited by JMeganSnow
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Can you identify any positive unifying factor or ideology at the base of the leftist movement? No. It's all scare-mongering and claiming catastrophes, which are getting old. While global warming hysteria or whatever may motivate people to some stupid *short term* action, the wise man looks always to the *long term*. When the threats don't manifest, the scare will die out. Eventually even the die-hards will start to realize that the left has simply cried wolf too often.

Having no ideology does not automatically dismiss them as a threat- in fact it increases the danger as they are random and prone to sudden obsessive fits over fake issues-like global warming. I agree that they only look to the short-term, and that the wise men look to the long term. That is exactly the reason you should be wary of them even more so than the republicans.

If you think for a moment that liberals would abandon their beliefs you are mistaken. They have become so emotionally tied to their Marxist beliefs that no amount of reason will change their minds- leftism has become a RELIGION, and it is a religion far scarier than the christianity practiced by the religious right.

Edited by windyfellow
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