Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Facebook Activism

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Along with my new year's resolution of being more mindful of my words I've also resolved to partake in more activism. Not wholly unattributed to http://www.titosays.com/2009/01/why-be-activist.html from objectivismonline.net.

I'd like to work on some LTE and more mainstream activism but I have to start somewhere and today offered that opportunity.

My facebook status: [ME] is scared of socialism.

[Friend]: If that is a reference to the current Obama administration, then you have a pretty loose definition of socialism.

[Me]: In a 2005 commencement address, Obama described the conservative philosophy of government as “to give everyone one big refund on their government, divvy it up by individual portions, in the form of tax breaks, hand it out, and encourage everyone to use their share to go buy their own health care, their own retirement plan, their own child care, their own education, and so on. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it, Social Darwinism, every man or woman for him or herself. It’s a tempting idea, because it doesn’t require much thought or ingenuity.“ Obama has rejected this free market vision of government, preferring to see the power of the state as something that can serve the public interest. According to Obama, ”We’re going to put more money into education than we have. WE have to invest in human capital.“

[ME]: And government "temporary" ownership of banking institutions and insurance companies is socialism bordering on fascism. Socialism - a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

I would argue that most people's definition of socialism is too forgiving.

[Friend]: The notion that the temporary assistance provided by a democratically elected government to restore the economic quagmire initiated by profit-driven corporations borders on fascism is certainly an exaggeration; and I find your argument unpatriotic, disheartening and irreverent to a nation that has provided us all with so much.

[ME]:

"temporary assistance"

to whom? with whose money? and by what right? this is not a roll government should fill

"economic quagmire initiated by profit-driven corporations"

i urge you to rethink this premise; the "quagmire" has been driven by our regulated economy, a free market would works its way out of a recession naturally

"unpatriotic"

what is more patriotic than supporting capitalism and arguing for my rights? i don't think this rational conversation needs to make its way into personal insults, I've thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue so far

Since I have had a similar conversation before I wanted to ask the community two questions:

1) Do you see any flaws in my argument? Along the same lines and probably more importantly do you see any major points I missed?

2) Often when I bring up a topic my friends respond to me "broadly", for example: "the free market doesn't work". No premises, just conclusions. From an activist point of view how do you approach this situation? Do you try to focus the conversation to a topic, respond in a broad/general statements, or other strategy?

3) If you had 30 seconds to formulate an argument against socialism in casual conversation what do you think would carry the most bang for its buck

I keep my tone level, and I will sometimes sugarcoat sentences if I consider the friend worth keeping. But in general my major goal is to have others rethink liberal premises they take for granted.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You've raised a number of interesting questions where some would deserve elaborative responses, so I'll only try to give a partial response to your entire post for now. (Just becuase I don't provide an answer to a specific question doesn't necessarily mean that I don't find it interesting or worthy of response.)

First, I think that it's important to keep in mind how the most important terms in your discussion are used. You've invoked "Socialism" and "Fascism". Those are very broad terms, and those terms can mean different things to different people. (By the way, I believe that AR gave Socialism as meaning tyranny in theory and practice and Fascism as freedom in theory and tyranny in practice. Using those definitions has helped me avoid a lot of confusion over the years.) Those two terms are distinguishable (but not for the reasons that Liberals normally think!)

I believe that while your friend has indicated some misunderstanding of what you have discussed, I suspect that you are a bit offbase as well. It's undoubtedly true that Obama has made remarks that suggest Socialist-oriented thinking. I don't and can't take what I've heard/read so far to be evidence of an interest in forging a _full-blown_ Socialist administration. (Roughly speaking, I suspect that he'll advocate for policies falling somewhere between Clinton's and Carter's policies... "How much will religion play a role in his work?" is, in my mind, the open question of the day.)

As a matter of fact, I just re-read much of Dr. Peikoff's Q & A on his website a few minutes ago. One of his responses is worth invoking here. He indicated that while environmentalism will be used to make short-term threats, that philosophy will be overshadowed by religion. My point here is that, I think you would at least want to make a passing remark about that. The overriding problem in America is oriented to the mind-body disconnection where Americans want to practice Capitalism but they still try to observe altruism in one form or another. (See Dr. Andrew Bernstein's early remarks in his book, _The Capitalist Manifesto_ for more of what I mean.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
My facebook status: [ME] is scared of socialism.

Me too.

Since I have had a similar conversation before I wanted to ask the community two questions:

1) Do you see any flaws in my argument? Along the same lines and probably more importantly do you see any major points I missed?

2) Often when I bring up a topic my friends respond to me "broadly", for example: "the free market doesn't work". No premises, just conclusions. From an activist point of view how do you approach this situation? Do you try to focus the conversation to a topic, respond in a broad/general statements, or other strategy?

3) If you had 30 seconds to formulate an argument against socialism in casual conversation what do you think would carry the most bang for its buck

1) I think you should not be afraid of speaking more metaphorically and avoid the words people have wrong definitions about.

2) "Blaming the free market for currently not working is like blaming your wife for being lazy and not tidying up your apartment while you're keeping her tied up and beaten in the basement." - me, talking metaphorically like I suggested at first answer.

3) Any brand of socialism is profitable only for the rulling clique while the people out of it suffers. Proved by Soviet Russia, where the Communist Party members lived in luxury while other people find it difficult to buy blankets anywhere.

That's my two cents. Anyway, a topic worth getting involved in.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you should always ground your argument in individual rights. When I have done this, the opponent is usually forced to say something along the lines of, "you don't have any rights", which the audience considers absurd (I hope). I then go on to explain the source of individual rights.

What you should avoid doing is taking their bait of debating whether or not a free market will naturally work out of a recession. That is not the reason the free market is advocated. The free market is great because it permits people to make decisions and transactions completely free of coercion - a moral imperative. So in your one response, I would leave out, "a free market would works its way out of a recession naturally".

If you do take the bait, they like to throw out arguments from incredulity, ie, "I don't see how the free market could work its way out of situation X, so therefore the whole thing should be rejected." The article I linked compares such arguments to creationists' arguments for irreducible complexity, ie, "I don't see how this little biological mechanism could have been evolved, therefore evolution is wrong." I've started making this comparison in discussions, and it should prove effective.

2) Often when I bring up a topic my friends respond to me "broadly", for example: "the free market doesn't work". No premises, just conclusions. From an activist point of view how do you approach this situation? Do you try to focus the conversation to a topic, respond in a broad/general statements, or other strategy?

I always start out by saying, "what do you mean by 'work'?" If you do not immediately question that, then you are forcing yourself to accept a goal that is not the goal of the free market. Freedom is the only goal of those advocating the free market. The people who say it doesn't "work", are saying that it doesn't succeed at their central-planning goal, which is not the goal of the free market. The whole point is to avoid central planning.

Edited by brian0918
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm delighted that I provided some inspiration.

Facebook activism is difficult, it can become too much like "bumper sticker activism". That is, joining groups "I like capitalism" or "Can I find 1000 people who hate socialism?" etc.

On Facebook, this is fine but only as a way of showing people who you are (that is the purpose of the website, afterall). It is unlikely that you'll make much positive impact with one liners. Though in your case, it is more of an ideological ground - so you might have success.

Link to post
Share on other sites
While on the topic of Facebook activism: I just created a new group called "Kick the U.N. out of New York". Please join it if you have an active Facebook account. Also, I welcome any suggestions on how to improve it. More reliable sources to refer to would be appreciated.

I was only too happy to join a Facebook group advocating the eviction of that cesspool of tyrant-appeasement, the UN.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I also use my facebook status as activism, sometimes pointing to specific letters to the editor, sometimes I use quotes from Ayn Rand. Today mine is :Congress: Please sign FOCA immediately, millions of innocent women's rights are in jeopardy! One of my acquaintances has his status the opposite. It will be interesting to see if he responds.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

On the topic of Facebook Activism:

I almost accepted some virtual plants from people on Facebook. I looked into it a bit and found that if I accepted those, I'd be agreeing to a connection of a Facebook "application" to my account. This "application" is called "(Lil) Green Patch" and somehow raises money to "save the Rainforests" and fight "global warming".

http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=7629233915

I was at first annoyed by this, it reminded me of the flowers that the Hare Krishna's used to give people at airports.

But then I started to wonder - could we set up something like this for Objectivism ? Give people virtual books and somehow raise money for, say, the Ayn Rand Institute ? Does anyone know how to do this ?

It's much better for people to deliberately choose to support Objectivism, not to support it accidentally by accepting a virtual gift from a friend. But this would help to 'spread the word'.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...