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Wow, a long dissertation on how we shouldn't mix apples and oranges (compare whites and Indians because they are soooo different), and then you go ahead and compare an Indian to a newborn. As always, people who use analogies do it because they have no real arguments.

Property is not inherent, handed down to us from the Gods. We created a society in which individuals have property rights. Since the Natives didn't even have a concept of property, or rights, they did not own the land in any sense that is relevant to Objectivism and Capitalism-the political system advocated for by Objectivism. Individual Natives had the capacity to own land (unlike a newborn!!!), as soon as Europeans came over and explained to them what it was, and set up the society that made that possible. At that point, the land was up for grabs for individuals: if an individual of Native origin decided to buid a nice house for himself, on an onowned piece of land, and whites came over and took it, that was an injustice. If some tribe leader decided the land between two rives and that big rock where the buffalo lives is all his tribe's territory, and the white man should get off of it, there was no injustice in going to war with that tribe.

As for newborns, their right to life is the responsibility of people who caused them to be in this World: their parents. (and it is their privilege to hold that responsibility, if able to) Why? -Because, while unable to fend for themselves, or live as independent members of society, children still have the same capacity to do so in the future. So, their rights are different from those of adults-they have a right to be taken care of, but they have fewer freedoms as well.

Indians are nothing like newborns because they had the capacity to understand and live by the rules of a free, Capitalist society, then and there. They just mostly chose not to, thus making any such society imossible for everyone. At that point, the moral thing to do, for the Europeans, was to take the necessary steps to protect their own civilization, and establish their own society of laws. No one says they did perfectly, but it turned out quite well in the end: the US is the best country that ever existed.

Predictably, I got an emotional reaction instead of a rational one. Maybe my subjects and pronouns got carried away, but I never compared an Indian to a newborn; I compared stealing with kidnapping. Focus on the sentence lest you misinterpret my meaning. I completely agree with you in that we created a society with property rights which are not inherent. You shot yourself in the foot though, when you said "Individual Natives had the capacity to own land, as soon as Europeans came over and explained to them what it was, and set up the society that made that possible." Hm.....so explain to me how, if the natives had the capacity to own land but admittedly no knowledge whatsoever how to do so, they were expected to KNOW HOW TO OWN LAND. Of course they had the capacity to do so, they lived there! Your argument is the same as the original. You're attempting to hold the natives to standards that only the Europeans were privy to. Don't attempt to give me that "they should have figured it out by then" argument because we both know knowledge development comes from a myriad of factors.

Most of the native population never actually had the opportunity to witness and embrace a free, Capitalist society because the societies colonizing America in that period were MONARCHIES WITH AUTHORITY BASED ON DIVINE RIGHT. They didn't have a clue as to what real capitalism was. If you care to adjust your reasoning by several hundred years you may have a point. Addtionally, plenty of the natives on the continent were dead before they ever saw a white man secondary to disease spread among the tribes from other Indians.

Actually, the chronological inaccuracy of that whole "they had the right to live in a free, capitalist society" back in the 1500s is telling me we should probably just end it here and now.

By the way man, there's no need to be nasty just because you disagree with someone. You catch more flies with honey.

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Predictably, I got an emotional reaction instead of a rational one.

No you didn't. You got a couple of factual responses explaining Objectivism.

I compared stealing with kidnapping.

I disagree. We were discussing whether it is stealing, and you said it's not, because Indians are similar to babies, in that they can't be held responsible for their lack of understanding the concept of rights. At least that is the only way I managed to read your argument.

Either way, misunderstanding what you said, and responding accordingly, is not an emotional reaction. Nor is pointing out a factual error you made about Objectivism, which was the other response you received, from SoftwareNerd. I can't imagine that there is anything less emotional than the two responses you received, so I guess I have nothing more I could possibly say to you.

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As soon as I get some evidence stating that objectivism supports personal gain at the expense of others, I'll happily refute my statement.
If you wish to discuss monopoly further, I suggest starting a new thread. it would be too distracting to take this ("native" American) one down that path. (Alternatively, there are some existing threads related to monopoly. Like this one here.) Edited by softwareNerd
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If you wish to discuss monopoly further, I suggest starting a new thread. it would be too distracting to take this ("native" American) one down that path. (Alternatively, there are some existing threads related to monopoly. Like this one here.)

Good point, it would be off-topic. Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

Edited by shadesofgrey
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  • 2 weeks later...

I have to agree with Maximus here, there tends to be a very hostile and dismissive tone towards undeveloped cultures.

There can and should be a difference between judging what was wrong-headed, superstitious and foolish in the past and in different cultures and showing open disdain for them. Disdain betrays a refusal to attempt to understand.

The beauty of all history, of all cultures is the amazing opportunity to learn from someone else's mistakes.

It is easy to forget what a wonder and privelege it is to be able to study history and learn from all the foolishness and stupidity without having to do the exact same things ourselves.

Since we are all individualists here I am concerned about so many generalizations here- such as that the Native Americans were more savage and brutal than the Western settlers.

Well, if we make this about individuals (which as Objectivists we should) who was more brutal and savage and to whom?

To a mother & child murdered by marauding Indians the Native Americans were more savage.

To a woman tortured then burned alive on a stake for "witchcraft" the Westerners were surely more savage.

Suffice it to say that no brutality is ever good.

But that America coming into existence cannot be said to be bad.

gotta break alotta eggs to make an omelet? :D

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Since we are all individualists here I am concerned about so many generalizations here- such as that the Native Americans were more savage and brutal than the Western settlers.

Well, if we make this about individuals (which as Objectivists we should) who was more brutal and savage and to whom?

Individualism is the recognition that a civilized society, as a political entity, ought to be based on the moral concept of individual rights. So, for an individualist, the more savage (meaning uncivilized) societies are the ones furthest from that ideal. In this case, the Indian tribes.

There can and should be a difference between judging what was wrong-headed, superstitious and foolish in the past and in different cultures and showing open disdain for them. Disdain betrays a refusal to attempt to understand.

No, disdain for something evil is the result of judging it: an individualist who understands the evil of tribalism should feel disdain for it.

As for being brutal:

Suffice it to say that no brutality is ever good.

Killing is about as brutal as it gets, and sometimes individualists have to fight in wars for their right to live in a civilized society, and in wars people get killed. Are you a pacifist? If yes, you should bring it up in a relevant thread.

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"Individualism is the recognition that a civilized society, as a political entity, ought to be based on the moral concept of individual rights. So, for an individualist, the more savage (meaning uncivilized) societies are the ones furthest from that ideal. In this case, the Indian tribes."

You are in fact talking moral relativism here.

The settlers burned women at the stake. Indians conducted violent raids both on other tribes and on settlers. You are making a subjective determination on these values. A women headed towards the stake might just disagree with your determination.

"No, disdain for something evil is the result of judging it: an individualist who understands the evil of tribalism should feel disdain for it."

To what extent have you studied ancient cultures? One can know all the wrongs of a society without feeling contempt and disdain. Every human culture comes from a place of superstition, tribalism and fumbling in the darkness. Judging and understanding are not one and the same. Many judge without attempting to understand. One can reject the notions of a culture and its feasibility while still endeavoring to understand from where they derived their conclusions. One cannot claim to be honestly attempting to understand something while expressing absolute contempt for it.

I do not feel contempt or disdain for lower primates for their lack of evolution into humans for example. I would however feel contempt & disdain for someone promoting we adopt it for ourselves.

"Killing is about as brutal as it gets, and sometimes individualists have to fight in wars for their right to live in a civilized society, and in wars people get killed. Are you a pacifist? If yes, you should bring it up in a relevant thread."

There is brutality worse than killing and there are varying levels of brutality within killing. You are arguing against yourself at this point since a great deal more killing was done by the settlers it could be (could be) surmised by your own statement that the settlers were in fact more brutal.

I said nothing about pacifism. You are obviously having a knee-jerk emotional response to something you are inferring from my words.

I stated clearly that the birth of America was a good thing. At the same time all people are individuals. Another nation could just as easily decide the America is barbaric for whatever reasons they desire- say... because we don't have health care for every one, or because we allow families to be homeless, or because we have the death penalty.

They would say that is barbaric and therefore they have a right to take what we have and civilize it by any means necessary. Remember that almost every society throughout history has considered itself civilized while considering all others uncivilized. The truth usually fell somewhere in between.

The disdain is dehumanizing which is a problem. Dehumanizing leads to abuse, perversity and brutality beyond the fight to birth a nation. The treatment of primitive cultures has generally gone far beyond the notion of a more advanced culture taking over a more primitive one to the benefit of all and has gone into slavery, abuse, rape & torture.

So I say... it is fine to argue that the old must make way for the new for human kind to progress. But when we allow contempt for others to creep into our philosophy it begins to define our culture by shaping our actions in a negative way.

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One cannot claim to be honestly attempting to understand something while expressing absolute contempt for it.
Surely one can understand something very well, and therefore express absolute contempt for it.

It is true that when one looks back in history and judges someone's character, one has to do so in the context of their times. One can judge their knowledge to be wrong, while not considering them stupid (for instance, Thales was surely not stupid for proposing that "all is water"). One can judge their philosophy to be wrong, while not considering them evil (for instance, one would typically praise the deism of the founders rather than condemning them for not being atheists).

However, I think much of the disdain you note is not primary, but a reaction to cultural egalitarianism which shies away from comparing cultures.

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You are in fact talking moral relativism here.

The settlers burned women at the stake. Indians conducted violent raids both on other tribes and on settlers. You are making a subjective determination on these values. A women headed towards the stake might just disagree with your determination.

No, I explained what individualism is. Then I made a simple judgement call on the difference between two cultures. Both short statements closely echo Ayn Rand's views on the two subjects, so you're gonna have to do better than mention a single crime, to rebut me.

The fact that I'm using concepts such as culture and society, instead of claiming that there's no such thing, we must only think in terms of individuals, is not moral relativism. It's abstract thought. Plus, there are many forms of moral relativists, you have to specify which one you mean for the statement to make any sense.

There is brutality worse than killing and there are varying levels of brutality within killing. You are arguing against yourself at this point since a great deal more killing was done by the settlers it could be (could be) surmised by your own statement that the settlers were in fact more brutal.

Yeah, so? I'm arguing against your claim that: "Suffice it to say that no brutality is ever good."

In war, brutality is good. If you wanna be a child, and claim that there are no necessary wars, or that wars are outside the realm of what's good and bad, go ahead.

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"If you wanna be a child, and claim that there are no necessary wars, or that wars are outside the realm of what's good and bad, go ahead. "

Again, I've never said anything of the sort.

I will wait and respond further when your pms is over, just tell me when.

I've noticed multiple times in this post where you imply people who disagree with you are children or need to grow up.

A rather immature tactic, that and shows a deep insecurity in that you need to attack a person rather than their positions on a topic.

Good day.

Edited by QuoVadis
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Since we are all individualists here I am concerned about so many generalizations here- such as that the Native Americans were more savage and brutal than the Western settlers.
In that case, you would presumably agree that the statement that Europeans did wrong to the Indians is philosophically invalid, and that the "rights of Indians", collectively speaking, is a complete red herring.

I suggest that while one cannot automatically condemn all Indians for being part of a brutal culture, one can correctly condemn a number of Indian cultures as being brutal, and then understand that when an individual Indian engages in acts of barbarism that this may result from the nature of his culture. (Or it may be an individual aberration -- but since we can't actually talk about individuals, we can't know which).

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"If you wanna be a child, and claim that there are no necessary wars, or that wars are outside the realm of what's good and bad, go ahead. "

Again, I've never said anything of the sort.

I will wait and respond further when your pms is over, just tell me when.

The list of terms you've heard but don't understand, such as individualism and moral relativism having been exhausted after two, you resort to the most banal, cliched little joke there is. Good one.

Again, what type of moral relativism was I guilty of when I explained precisely what individualism means, two posts ago? What does it mean and which philosophers developed it?

And learn to use the quotes: you select the text and press the Quote icon, or you reply to the post you want quoted directly.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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After considering the preliminarily perceptible elements, I'd say that of all the peoples of the world, as a people, "Indians" strike me as being the closest to building a nation grounded in individual rights. They had not quite reached there. I come to this conclusion for what may at first strike some of you as being facetious or silly. But the name "Indian" is the closest any people have come to calling themselves Individuals.

I do agree with the point shadesofgray raised, which is that the settlers from Europe who came to America were born of the tradition of employing coercion to get things done. I put it to you that there were tribes who traded peacefully with the newcomers, a fact which war-like people on both sides (emigrants and natives alike) frowned upon.

Finding such a tribe and looking to make a new alliance with forward-thinking and planning First Nations people strikes me as an avenue worth considering and exploring.

I know that a great deal of knowledge was discovered by Europeans and Asians. But if the price is a life under constant coercion, it's not worth it.

It's time to call for banning of coercion, and to seek to establish the First Nation founded on the principles of individual rights.

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I know that a great deal of knowledge was discovered by Europeans and Asians. But if the price is a life under constant coercion, it's not worth it.

Oh, that's nowhere near settled. It's definitely not a true statement, but neither is the opposite. Luckily it doesn't have to be settled, since knowledge and discovery are a demonstrable, natural consequence of freedom. And lack of discovery and knowledge are a clear sign of the opposite.

So, I guess you must be wrong about your view of Indians being more free than the Westerners. They may have been free to roam the land, but when it came to trading, or creating a philosophy and discovering brilliant inventions, they must've been struck down by witch doctors and tyrants, just like all other primitive cultures in Asia and before that in Europe. Otherwise they would've made great progress, because that's what average humans, Indians or not, have the capacity to do. The difference is they did not have Greek and Roman neighbours to write down the gory details for posterity.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Jake, you explained nothing of the sort except making your bloodthirsty nature, hostility and quick fused temper very apparent.

Regarding my "banal & cliched" (sorry for not rushing to obey your commandment regarding quotes- feel free to come pillage my home & slay me for my lack of civilization) remark re:"pms" if you were more observant & less unhappy & needlessly hostile you may have had a flicker of understanding that it was intended in the ironic mode as a response to your calling everyone who disagrees with you about anything "childish".

You may be an intelligent and thoughtful person although these qualities are not readily apparent to me.

But you are, Jake Ellison, no Ayn Rand, no Galt, no Roark and no Reardon to be insulting and condescending to anyone who questions the slightest statement that trickles from your keyboard.

I do hope that as you grow you will become secure enough in your ideas and beliefs that you will become able to disagree with people, even vehemently without becoming all together unhinged. It is an unseemly way for an Objectivist to behave.

Edited by QuoVadis
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A note to Admin regarding the quotes issue- I have a very bad internet connection in my workplace (a basement kitchen) if I sometimes don't use the "official" quotes function it is because for some reason the page it takes me to sometimes takes 5 minutes to load whereas cut and paste causes no issue at all. For this reason I try to only do this infrequently and only with small phrases.

I apologise if it seemed I was ignoring a forum rule.

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In that case, you would presumably agree that the statement that Europeans did wrong to the Indians is philosophically invalid, and that the "rights of Indians", collectively speaking, is a complete red herring.

I suggest that while one cannot automatically condemn all Indians for being part of a brutal culture, one can correctly condemn a number of Indian cultures as being brutal, and then understand that when an individual Indian engages in acts of barbarism that this may result from the nature of his culture. (Or it may be an individual aberration -- but since we can't actually talk about individuals, we can't know which).

I understand the second part of your response but not the first.

I never said anything about the rights of Indians as a group and wholly agree that groups do not have rights- only individuals.

What I was commenting on was the way it is seems implicit that one group's barbarism is condemned (the Indians') while another groups barbarism (the settlers') is whitewashed or excused away.

Also to clarify I am not saying that their taking over of this land was barbarism but the way much of this was conducted.

In other words, not disagreeing with the result (the birth of America) but saying that I think we should be able to agree it could have been done in a more honourable way. And to clarify that statement for those who would mistake this for pacifism I am not saying the more honourable way excludes the use of warfare but that even in war there should be some notion of decency. History has shown that while it was in evidence at some times at many it was not.

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I never said anything about the rights of Indians as a group and wholly agree that groups do not have rights- only individuals.
It isn't necessary that you have actually said anything on the topic, just that given your initial premise, you must logically conclude that whoever states that Europeans did wrong to the Indians speaks a philosophical falsehood.
What I was commenting on was the way it is seems implicit that one group's barbarism is condemned (the Indians') while another groups barbarism (the settlers') is whitewashed or excused away.
What I was commenting on is the way that it seems that collectivist apologists for "Indians" ignore the historical actions that they took which caused certain Americans (to localize the discussion) to defend their lives.
In other words, not disagreeing with the result (the birth of America) but saying that I think we should be able to agree it could have been done in a more honourable way.
Indeed: especially had the Cherokee, Comanche, Apache and Lakota abandoned their barbarous ways, the civilization of the west could have been much more peaceful. Had the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onandaga and Seneca not fought to maintain the British dictatorship, it would have been "more honorable" -- it's kind of amazing that any of those traitors were allowed to remain.
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A note to Admin regarding the quotes issue- I have a very bad internet connection in my workplace (a basement kitchen) if I sometimes don't use the "official" quotes function it is because for some reason the page it takes me to sometimes takes 5 minutes to load whereas cut and paste causes no issue at all. For this reason I try to only do this infrequently and only with small phrases.

I apologise if it seemed I was ignoring a forum rule.

In that case type [ q u o t e ] before the text you want to quote, and [ / q u o t e ] after it (without the spaces of course). Or even [ q u o t e name='theirname' ] to be more precise, at the beginning. (I'd write this down for future reference.)

I encourage you to do this. I once condemned an individual here for stating something pretty egregious and very emphatic. He was in fact quoting Obama without bothering with either quote tags or even quotation marks.

Congratulations, based on your description you are one of a very few people in the known universe with a worse connection than mine.

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I will wait and respond further when your pms is over, just tell me when.

This is not irony.

Regarding my "banal & cliched" remark re:"pms" if you were more observant ... you may have had a flicker of understanding that it was intended in the ironic mode as a response to your calling everyone who disagrees with you about anything "childish".

Now that's irony. The ultimate, I would say: Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder in Reality Bites

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What I was commenting on is the way that it seems that collectivist apologists for "Indians" ignore the historical actions that they took which caused certain Americans (to localize the discussion) to defend their lives.

Ok, so I see that we probably are starting from a different premise.

You believing (I am taking from your post please correct me if I am mistaken) that the settlers provoked no hostilities and were barbarically and savagely attacked for no reasons by the Indians.

My believing that the settlers began the hostilites.

There are histories that can claim the truth for either side but in my view history shows that European settlers generally didn't need much provocation to start killing or enslaving the people they encountered on their travels. Much of that can be blamed on the various churches of the time but there you have it.

You could point to sources saying the settlers never harmed an Indian until harmed themselves and I could point to sources that say the opposite (not to mention that the whole of history going back to ancient times supports that settlers and explorers are rarely fully peacable and generally come for the very purpose of conquest).

But the question is... how can the Indians be "traitors" as you claim?

How is fighting for your home a betrayal?

If a technologically advanced society decided your home was now theirs you would fight too, no?

Sure one could say they should've seen automatically that they settlers were a superior civilization, laid down, turned everything over and hoped to learn and be allowed to assimilate ... but come on... really?

If that were the case then surely the Scots and Irish should've been wiped off the earth for resisting the English as well?

Edited by QuoVadis
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