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I strongly disagree with Mr. Peikoff

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windyfellow
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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.

Mr. Berliner in his article called environmentalism "a grave danger facing mankind". I am dropping names because that seem to be more effective than arguments and facts presented by a layman like me.

Environmentalism has never been about the facts.

In terms of allowing more and faster of welfare statism today - because of how long lasting it has historically been proven - "short term" means your entire life. Anyone who thinks that this is a good idea should take that into consideration. I do not make decisions "for the mankind" or future generations.

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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.

People like Obama, Pelosi and Reed dont happen overnight either. That freight train has been headed down the tracks for more than 30 years. The rise of Christian fundamentalism is a reaction to it. As for Huckabee, he didnt make it, Obama did. Huckabee didnt make it through the Republican party primary, let alone the general election. He ran a good race and was actually a good candidate from the perspective of his ability to communicate his ideas well. You could say that Huckabee lost because of his adherence to Christianity or what might be considered the most radical elements of his party. Obama, on the other hand, won because of his adherence to the most radical elements of his party.

As for skating to where the puck is going to be, I think Peikoff skated to the wrong spot. It is the left who has, over the last 30 years, come to dominate politics and culture, not the right. As for where the puck is heading (if I may continue the metaphor) if Obama wins and the left increases its control over American life, republicans will attempt to return to what they see as a winning formula--embracing the Christian base. How strong the religious right becomes in the future depends upon how far the left overreaches.

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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

"Them" -isn't that an old disaster movie?

You do have an interesting strategy though: Becoming more and more vague does invalidate specific arguments people make, allowing you to continue the discussion without contradicting yourself of having to address specific problems with your theory.

Such a strategy would for instance allow you to skate on this particular, very precise question you've been asked:

Can you identify any positive unifying factor or ideology at the base of the leftist movement?

However, at the end of your post you do get specific, and write:

"They have become so emotionally tied to their Marxist beliefs..."

Now Marxist beliefs, that's a very specific(pretty long) list of stuff. I'll pic just a few(I have to be honest, I don't really know them all, and these people-marxist "thinkers"- can be pretty verbose, so it takes time to find all the bulletpoints:), and I think you will have to agree with me, most Obama voters don't hold these views at all, or only hold one or two of them, not the same ones either:

1. atheism (that's only about 14% of americans right there). And that includes objectivists, many independents and even some libertarians.

2. the abolition of private property( I doubt the people in favor of this one make up more that 5%)

3. individuals are only significant when they act together as a class...

Here's a good one:

4. The confiscation of all property of immigrants and rebels. That's a direct quote from big Karl himself. I wonder how James Dean would've felt about that one :P .

I see two options for you here:

1. All people on the left adhere to all these principles, and then they are clearly a huge threat. Obviously, that's not the case.

2. A tiny( I'd say insignificant) number of americans adhere to these principles, so you need to find another description for these people you otherwise refer to as "Them", so that we can asess this threat you are describing, and compare it to the evangelical movement for instance.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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By "them" I mean anyone who preaches a welfare state and those who blindly follow the preacher.

And by Marxist beliefs I was referring to what Karl Marx is famous for and what I assumed you would think of when you see his name mentioned- communism. Perhaps I should have said "altruistic beliefs" but the meaning stays the same.

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most Obama voters don't hold these views at all, or only hold one or two of them, not the same ones either:

There is an incredible amount of damage done in terms of individual rights, economic freedom, and prosperity WAY before you ever reach even near the far left.

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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.

My initial objection was to your linking Bush's faith to his bungling of the Iraq war. I dont think one has anything to do with the other. LBJ mismanaged the Vietnam war, but nobody blames his faith. Perhaps democrats just get a pass on that sort of thing. As for Bush being a religious zealot, do you feel it is possible for a man to be religious and not be a zealot? Is Bush a 'fanatically committed person?' Perhaps to an atheist he might appear to be, but he strikes me as holding pretty common religious beliefs.

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

I have no problem with it. Now, if you can demonstrate that the current incarnation of Christianity is somehow different or worse than anything America was founded in or has already lived through, then I am open to change my mind.

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By "them" I mean anyone who preaches a welfare state and those who blindly follow the preacher.

That's not specific at all. "Preaches" and "blindly" are, if I'm not mistaken, both metaphors, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are definitely preaching a welfare state too.

And by Marxist beliefs I was referring to what Karl Marx is famous for and what I assumed you would think of when you see his name mentioned- communism. Perhaps I should have said "altruistic beliefs" but the meaning stays the same.

Those are all principles of communism, and here's another good one by Karl:

5. The combination of agriculture and manufacturing industries with the gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by the more equable distribution of the population over the country. (Ouch. There goes Al Gore.)

Still communism, by the way.

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That's not specific at all. "Preaches" and "blindly" are, if I'm not mistaken, both metaphors, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are definitely preaching a welfare state too.

Those are all principles of communism, and here's another good one by Karl:

5. The combination of agriculture and manufacturing industries with the gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by the more equable distribution of the population over the country. (Ouch. There goes Al Gore.)

Still communism, by the way.

I did not use preaching metaphorically. To preach is to deliver a religious message in a sermon. How is an Obama rally different from a Sunday church service? He chants a word that has no meaning("change") and the crowd cheers with tears of admiration in their eyes.

And explain to me what you meant by "Ouch. There goes Al Gore"

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I have no problem with it. Now, if you can demonstrate that the current incarnation of Christianity is somehow different or worse than anything America was founded in or has already lived through, then I am open to change my mind.

I'm not up to researching the evangelicals right now (I'm kinda in the middle of something), but I guarantee you that you will receive a reply from someone around here demonstrating exactly that.

I will just give you my brief opinion: most of the founding fathers weren't that religious at all. (they wrote a lot, and that much is clear from their writings). After the country was founded it went through religious periods(puritans), but none of them as fanatical as right now. For instance, before the civil war there was such a period, but Lincoln, who was a known atheist, was able to become president just by saying, five years before he got elected: "I changed my mind, I believe in God now."

The evangelical movement, or even the catholic church(especially under the new pope), are not only fanatical, but also very active within (mainly) the Republican Party, and very ambitious as far as government and the political future of the country are concerned, in a way religious groups have never been in the past.

"History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. " – Thomas Jefferson

I like this one( I was thinking of saving it until someone claims I was wrong about him not being a cristian):

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."– Thomas Jefferson

"I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies."

"Lighthouses are more helpful then churches."

- both Benjamin Franklin

"The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma." - Abraham Lincoln

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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I have no problem with it. Now, if you can demonstrate that the current incarnation of Christianity is somehow different or worse than anything America was founded in or has already lived through, then I am open to change my mind.

The lectures on intellectual activism have specific information regarding the rise of fundamentalist Christianity. ARI website. Free.

People like Obama, Pelosi and Reed dont happen overnight either. That freight train has been headed down the tracks for more than 30 years. The rise of Christian fundamentalism is a reaction to it.

That's certainly possible, of course you'd actually have to do more than assert it if you'd like me to consider it.

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Can you identify any positive unifying factor or ideology at the base of the leftist movement?
Collectivism.

Well, they sure are all collectivists, can't argue with that one, but that's not saying much. So are the mcainiacs: nationalists, racists, or just proud of their "heritage", wether they're irish, italian, jewish or asian-americans, or anything else. That's all colectivism, so you can't really define the left by this trait.

You can't say that's at the base of their movement: why wouldn't all the other collectivists join in the fun then?

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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.

This is *incredibly* insulting, and in fact, two years ago when Dr. Peikoff first stated that he considered religion to be the greater threat I did NOT agree and I even posted on my blog about it. After spending two years considering the evidence and doing more reading, now I *DO* agree. None of my views are based on "Dr. Peikoff said so" and you have no call to go insinuating any such thing.

If you don't consider the evidence conclusive, that's fine. Personally, I consider *reality* to be the arbiter of such disputes, so I just wait for more evidence to come in instead of making accusations.

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I also disagreed with Dr. Peikoff's assertion that religion is a greater long term threat than is socialism. I have since been convinced that he is right, at least in the USA. Here in Canada things are philosophically different. We do not have the American sense of life that preserves vestiges of the Founding Fathers' original vision. Most Canadians do not understand the importance of individual rights, they think of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as "American." They in fact are reflexively hostile to such values. This fundamental difference has made (most) Canadians a docile nation of subjects who not only accept statism but enthusiastically support it. Thus it is that Canadians buy into multiculturalism, moral relativism, and every form of collectivism. Leftism is a far greater danger in Canada than is religion. When socialized health care is central to a manufactured "Canadian identity," it is clear that welfare statism is the dominant ideology here.

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2. A tiny( I'd say insignificant) number of americans adhere to these principles, so you need to find another description for these people you otherwise refer to as "Them", so that we can asess this threat you are describing, and compare it to the evangelical movement for instance.

Them: An average person, who may or may not believe in god, but does not particularly follow one specific religion. A person who may have read some books which he counts as 'philosophy' when he or she was younger, such as Emmerson, Dickens, and a few poems. To him, life is kind of a mystery, he spends every day going to work, and coming home, counting each day as a small victory. He may hold some ideological belief, maybe in a form of socialism, maybe in morality, (but to him, morality means the ten commandments. Because while he may or may not be christian, the ten commandments are still the source of morality to him.) He may have some principles, for instance, 'when I'm standing in line and someone cuts in front of me I should get angry at him, on principle.' But it all goes down the drain when times are particularly hard. Nothing even specific has to happen to him, just hearing on the news that people are losing their houses, and that the evil monster of 'capitalism' is leading us on the road to Depression (he is absolutely sure that the depression was caused by the free market, because he saw a history channel documentary on the subject.) and now two different people are offering him things, as presidents.

One, offers a sense of loyalty to the state, the promise of religion, which brings with it some bad things like arguing with someone at Starbucks about abortion, but with religion, the knowledge that, in the end, if I say I'm Christian, I'll get some neat bonuses from the government.

The other offers a sense of loyalty to other men, and while he does not explicitly believe in Socialism, and may be vehemently against it in various political debates with his mother on the phone, Obama at least promises not to tax the middle class, maybe get some tax breaks, and make health insurance at little less financially worrisome. For him, while socialism may not be the ideal, if it's coming, may as well take advantage of it.

This man, is the pragmatist. He doesn't look any further than his own life, he doesn't seek to do -anything- but work at a job and come home, and complain about how his paycheck is just enough to make the bills (though he's not really sure why.) Plans involve the next few months, or 'what I'll buy with my next paycheck.' For him, when the people say 'Socialism will lead us down the path to economic ruin!' He thinks, well hey, I don't think so, it may be bad, but not that bad, and look at what we all get in return!

This is the voter, or one type of voter. These are the kinds of people that vote in these candidates, and they are not connected by any explicit ideology, they simply look at the candidate that promises them the most free stuff, or the one that doesn't offend some principle that they have, but that they do not practice.

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None of my views are based on "Dr. Peikoff said so" and you have no call to go insinuating any such thing.

Agreed! To assert otherwise as EC has done is psychologizing.

Had we really been following our intellectuals blindly, we would have stopped voting for Republicans based upon their religiosity much earlier, say about Reagan...

... when Rand did.

Anyone who says socialism is rampant and growing worse has no sense of history and certainly didn't live through the 60's or 70's. At every turn those poeple have advocated that we vote Republican because as bad as they were, it was our best option. The tactic of doing so was never one advocated by any objectivist intellectuals. Today, we are witnessing, not a rise of socialism, but the largest backlash against a bankrupt Republican defense of liberty. Socialists couldn't have dreamed of giving free markets the black eye, that the supposed defenders of rights have. The past 8 years have been a socialists wet dream, with the largest expansion in socialized health care since the Great Society, a bankrupt war on terror, and an unprecedented nationalization of the financial system.

Yet people point to the future and say how much worse it will be under democratic administration. The reality is the backlash was created by exactly the "defensive" tactics advocated by anyone who thought that today's conservatives are allies (and yes I was one of them). We made it worse, and it's not gonna get any better by continuing down the same well-worn path. Had we voted when Peikoff suggested, or better yet, when Rand was already concerned about religion in the Republican party...

Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to go read what Rand had to say about Republicans and conservatives as far back as the 40's (when Socialism was at its zenith in the US). Her Journals are chock full of this sort of observation. To paint Peikoff as some sort of misguided, ivory-tower hermit is really showing a lack of understanding of the ideas of the philosophy.

And anyone who says religion is not on the rise hasn't gotten out past their own street much. Really, spend sometime with the Brook / Ghate lectures from OCON. The issue is not to measure how many people go to chruch. It is to look at the huge increase in intellectual and political activism coming out of today's Christian intellectuals, and Christian colleges.

If one listens to those lectures, they realize the issue is not so simply as mixed Republicans against a decidedly socialist Democrats. The issue is one of altruists having dominant positions over BOTH of our two major parties. Altruism is the reason that socialism hangs around even though it languishes, and it is the reason that religion is taking over the right. To listen to McCain on fudnamentals during the debates was to listen to him agree with the basic causes and emotional responses to the same issues as Obama, only attempt to say how he'd deal with them differently.

Edited by KendallJ
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To those who believe that the Religious Right is a dying political faction, this study I found via Politics Without God ought to cause you to question your rather unjustified belief.

The Religious Right is a billion dollar racket, and while I don't think everyone who is Religious and supports these men know the totality of the evil they are spreading, that doesn't matter. It isn't the thousands or even millions of kind, common sense religious folks we all know and are friends with that matter. It is the heads of the movements they endorse and give money to. And it is the fact that these men stand for defined principles that makes them so dangerous.

Now, I've argued that voting Democrat in this election doesn't make anymore sense. The Democrats are no longer a disorganized bunch of pragmatists. They are centered and principled. It's about spreading the wealth BECAUSE that is the moral thing to do, and not because it will lead to the greatest good for the greatest, which it never truly could.

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There's been some good points raised in this thread and reading it I've come to the conclusion that voting libertarian would be the best thing to do. Now I know that they don't have a shot in hell of winning, and a large libertarian vote would hurt the republicans and help Obama, but if libertarians garner a (relatively) large voting base, 2 beneficial things could happen:

1. Libertarians would get more media coverage. The rational thing for the news networks to do would be to cover the libertarian candidate in order to increase ratings, however one can hardly trust the mainstream media to act rationally <_<

2. The Republican party would try to appeal to those libertarian voters. Though we may despise the republican party, lets face it: they are the only realistic chance we have at preserving personal freedoms at the moment, and them being influenced by the libertarians wouldn't be a bad thing.

I hate this election :(

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To add to what Kendall said about gains made by religion in the culture, the "ivory tower" of academia has not been immune. Belief in god by philosophers is now far more respectable than it was 40 or 50 years ago. This 1980 Time Magazine article mentions Alvin Plantinga, a very respected epistemologist. In fact many leading virtue epistemologists are using that program to justify religious beliefs (eg Zagzebski). Religious belief isn't popular amongst mainstream philosophers, but it is more widespread and respectable now than it was say in the 60s.

And the idea that religion is retreating is total fantasy. Every major region of the world is experiencing problems related to the growth of fundamentalist religion. In India Hindu nationalists are rioting and killing Christians. In China the government is threatened by Christianity and has outlawed Falun Gong. Europe is being swallowed by Muslim immigrants. In South American countries like Brazil protestant evangelicalism is rapidly growing in popularity. In our own country, the Republican party chose a PENTECOSTAL VP condidate. (Pentecostals are the ones who speak in tongues, if you didn't know.) Obama's own strange religious associations are well known. And let's not forget that most American's do not believe in evolution.

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Religious belief isn't popular amongst mainstream philosophers, but it is more widespread and respectable now than it was say in the 60s.

Religion is too primitive ideologically for a world of intelligent humans to take it seriously philosophically on a large scale.

Which does not mean that religion is not a threat - just not from that perspective.

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Religion is too primitive ideologically for a world of intelligent humans to take it seriously philosophically on a large scale.

Which does not mean that religion is not a threat - just not from that perspective.

I'm curious of your basis for this statement.

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I ask this only because the Scholastic tradition, the Jesuit tradition, and the Theology schools at most fundamentalist colleges whic are growing in number (such as this one at Liberty) would seem to empirically refute such a thought. IN fact the law school at same espouses the following regarding its curriculum structure (bold mine):

Mission Orientation

Founded upon the premise that there is an integral relationship between faith and reason, the objective is to build a law school committed to academic and professional excellence in the context of the Christian intellectual tradition.

Are these simply not "intelligent" people?

Gina Liggett is profiling Christian Political action and scholastic groups. Her first blog post is here.

Edited by KendallJ
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I'm curious of your basis for this statement.

What is the role of philosophy? What does religion offer, for example as:

-the foundation of science?

-the integrator of man's knowledge?

Religion can not be equated with philosophy. It at best represents an approach to philosophic issues.

But what does faith offer humanity? Every new discovery has been made possible by reason and none by faith/revelation. The history has been one long account of religious explanation being disproved by natural/scientific/rational ones and never the opposite. The five arguments for God offered by the greatest religious thinkers have been refuted many times and are widely recognized by philosophers as logically defective.

If it was not for Kant...

Now religion's monopoly in the area of ethics IS very problematic (and this is it's hook in society today) and until Objectivism no good alternatives existed. What you see today is a backlash against moral subjectivism/nihilism and people cling to the only alternative they know.

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What is the role of philosophy? What does religion offer, for example as:

-the foundation of science?

-the integrator of man's knowledge?

Religion can not be equated with philosophy. It at best represents an approach to philosophic issues.

But what does faith offer humanity? Every new discovery has been made possible by reason and none by faith/revelation. The history has been one long account of religious explanation being disproved by natural/scientific/rational ones and never the opposite. The five arguments for God offered by the greatest religious thinkers have been refuted many times and are widely recognized by philosophers as logically defective.

If it was not for Kant...

Ah, ok, I was hoping that you'd actually provide some evidence of the relative intelligence of those who hold such ideas. If I am to understand your position then, is that that religion's metaphysics has gaping internal contradictions, therefore the only explanation you can see for someone who holds those ideas is that they are not intelligent?

I think this sorely underestimates the issue, but I think I'm starting to understand how it is that you hold the views that you do.

Now religion's monopoly in the area of ethics IS very problematic (and this is it's hook in society today) and until Objectivism no good alternatives existed. What you see today is a backlash against moral subjectivism/nihilism and people cling to the only alternative they know.

So when you said religion was too primitive to take seriously philosophically you were speaking of the type of philosophy that doesn't include ethics or politics? Your statement paints with a very broad brush. I think a better explanation is that the Christian tradition claims Aquinas, reason, and the Reinnassance as its predecessor as well. I'd think you'd find very few Christian philosophers that agreed with your statement above.

What is odd to me about your description of the 'backlash' then is that this is exactly the case the Peikoff makes, and yet you still consider socialism as the greater threat. Today's socialist / communist tradition is the one that is the true heir of Kant and is deeply rooted in moral subjectivism/nihilism. Today's leftist intellectuals are of that school. So if everyone is leaving in that backlash how can where they were and not where they are headed continue to be the real threat?

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Ah, ok, I was hoping that you'd actually provide some evidence of the relative intelligence of those who hold such ideas. If I am to understand your position then, is that that religion's metaphysics has gaping internal contradictions, therefore the only explanation you can see for someone who holds those ideas is that they are not intelligent?

Not sure why you are focusing on this one word in my statement without the rest of the context. I meant world of intellectuals and I also wrote as a philosophical system (which has requirements religion does not meet) and on a large scale.

I think this sorely underestimates the issue, but I think I'm starting to understand how it is that you hold the views that you do.

Such comments are unnecessary.

So when you said religion was too primitive to take seriously philosophically you were speaking of the type of philosophy that doesn't include ethics or politics?

No I was not.

What is odd to me about your description of the 'backlash' then is that this is exactly the case the Peikoff makes, and yet you still consider socialism as the greater threat.

Welfare statism - and at least within my life time and maybe longer. In the absence of Objectivism (not limited but especially as an alternative ethical system) my view would have been different.

Today's socialist / communist tradition is the one that is the true heir of Kant and is deeply rooted in moral subjectivism/nihilism. Today's leftist intellectuals are of that school. So if everyone is leaving in that backlash how can where they were and not where they are headed continue to be the real threat?

Welfare statism is not dead (not in America not in other parts of the world). People in America feel an increased sense of entitlement. This can last a long time (especialy given the state of public education) and will considerably afect your life even if people are not holding full blown socialism as an ideal anymore.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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