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Rush Limbaugh Grapples with the idea of Self Interest vs. Sacrifice

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There are a lot of aspects of individual rights that the Conservatives will not accept: abortion, pornography, prostitution, private ownership of radio and TV frequencies, illicit drug usage, homosexuality, etc. So I am not going to say Rush or any other conservative accepts individual rights all the way. And a lot of them are proposing "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" out of tradition, instead of having a good grasp of the philosophical roots, which is why they are against that long list I gave. However, getting the term out there -- getting "individual rights" out into the public arena -- can lead a lot of people to at least consider or reconsider what it means. It can also get us more economic freedom; and the longer we can hold out, the better things can become in the long run. And it will give us an opportunity to present the most rational version of individual rights. Where the Conservatives come out in the long run will be interesting to see, but if this gets them all fired up against the liberals version of socialism, it will do us good.

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I agree with that last statement. There are a LOT of mixed Americans out there...Andrew Bernstein calls it mixed-religion, like mixed-economy. My parents raised me to be independent, take care of myself, etc., yet they are religious. People do not clearly see these contradictions. Thankfully, most Americans do not live what the Bible preaches. It's that American sense of life that Rand talked about in one of the PWNI essays.

That's right, K-Mac. :thumbsup: And if you don't realize that reason must be applied to thought consistently, then contradictions are going to happen necessarily. You have to continually bang out contradictions in your thinking.

And, listen, to come up with comprehensive and proper principles is a monumentally difficult task, as proven by the long and hard history of mankind.

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I'm dealing with Jake's point regarding those who are religious holding contradictions. The Founders were religious (not very religious, mind you), yet they endorsed an implicitly egoistic idea "the pursuit of happiness". So, people can hold to contradictory ideas mistakenly.

Not very religious all. In fact, Jefferson did not consider his belief in a higher power as being at all based on faith. He was mistaken in his application of logic to the idea of a prime mover, but he was a man who advocated reason. What does Rush advocate?

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Not very religious all. In fact, Jefferson did not consider his belief in a higher power as being at all based on faith. He was mistaken in his application of logic to the idea of a prime mover, but he was a man who advocated reason. What does Rush advocate?

You're missing my point. People can and do compartmentalize their thinking, because people have to continually bang out contradictions. What is rare is for it not to happen. Jefferson himself considered and rejected egoism, despite the fact that he was a great proponent of reason and believed in "the pursuit of happiness."

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Quite frankly, I think the only reason why his religious audience is tolerating all this talk about what that heathen woman wrote is because the economy is such a hot topic. In a year he'll be back at cursing out Republicans if they stray from the anti abortion platform.

That's what came to mind when I read the topic of this thread, and it's always the first thing I think whenever I hear about Rush and his ilk mentioning Ayn Rand lately. Although, I think his statements in this show are a little more intellectual and less particular than those given in previous shows, even those by others, like Glenn Beck's, I don't think Rush fully understands or agrees with Ayn Rand's positions, which he is supposedly using as a base. There's no doubt in my mind that there would be heavy capitulation on Rush's part if one of his viewers were to challenge him. Sometimes I think people are too quick to praise Rush because they apply their contextual knowledge to something that Rush says, and fail to realize that Rush doesn't have, or may not be using ideas in the same context; who knows what exactly Rush thinks about self-interest or individualism, especially if he had to justify it within a presumed, at the least, pragmatic altruism, pseudo-christianity belief set.

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Please folks do not give up on the man. He is thinking about these issues, and is obviously "Objectivist influenced" even if not quite as much as we would like. Even if he ultimately decides against individualism in the Objectivist sense of the word, he will undoubtedly influence many people to look into it.

I'll point out that I was a libertarian/economic conservative (not religious conservative) when I found out about Ayn Rand, and spent 20 years as "Objectivist influenced" before I finally concluded that if Objectivism isn't the way to be and go, then nothing anyone has ever put forward is. I'd estimate I am at least 98% there. (That's as close as I can come to calling myself Objectivist without actually doing so. The suspicion that I have some disagreement with it I haven't discovered is what is holding me back.)

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It occurs to me that some here are focused on judging the person of Rush Limbaugh, almost as an end in itself? The implication is: "what if I "sanction" him, and then it later turns out that I was wrong? What if he later returns to his religious dogmas and betrays us again?"

But in discussing his radio monologue, it is not necessary to imply anything about the character and integrity of Rush Limbaugh. For all I care, he could be a schizophrenic man, advocating selfishness one moment and self-sacrifice the next day. That is of no concern to me. When I listened to his monologue, I judged the thinking happening "right before my ears," which was grounded in reality, first-hand, passionate. Why not identify it as such?

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Please folks do not give up on the man. He is thinking about these issues, and is obviously "Objectivist influenced" even if not quite as much as we would like. Even if he ultimately decides against individualism in the Objectivist sense of the word, he will undoubtedly influence many people to look into it.

I'll point out that I was a libertarian/economic conservative (not religious conservative) when I found out about Ayn Rand, and spent 20 years as "Objectivist influenced" before I finally concluded that if Objectivism isn't the way to be and go, then nothing anyone has ever put forward is. I'd estimate I am at least 98% there. (That's as close as I can come to calling myself Objectivist without actually doing so. The suspicion that I have some disagreement with it I haven't discovered is what is holding me back.)

I am not "giving up on him", but the possibility of him ever becoming a person I could consider an ally is 1000 to 1.

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There are dozens of people (just on this site) who can make a better case than that for Capitalism, so this is only remarkable in a way a retarded child's first words are remarkable.

Yes, but do any of them have a radio show with 25 million weekly listeners?

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It occurs to me that some here are focused on judging the person of Rush Limbaugh, almost as an end in itself? The implication is: "what if I "sanction" him, and then it later turns out that I was wrong? What if he later returns to his religious dogmas and betrays us again?"

But in discussing his radio monologue, it is not necessary to imply anything about the character and integrity of Rush Limbaugh. For all I care, he could be a schizophrenic man, advocating selfishness one moment and self-sacrifice the next day. That is of no concern to me. When I listened to his monologue, I judged the thinking happening "right before my ears," which was grounded in reality, first-hand, passionate. Why not identify it as such?

Because people are far too smart to rely on monkeys typing away, even if there are millions of them typing for millions of years.

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Maybe you'd all like Walter Williams better:

The Problem Is Immorality

I do like Walter Williams better. But I don't want to qoute him here, instead I'd like to quote the first comment under his article, by Birdman from Illinois:

Let's go back to Walter's column

"If we accept the idea of self-ownership, then certain acts are readily revealed as moral or immoral. Acts such as rape and murder are immoral because they violate one's private property rights. Theft of the physical things that we own, such as cars, jewelry and money, also violates our ownership rights."

I am almost certain that Gregory and Semper Libertas agree with that quote. The problem then stems from who can claim ownership. Right off the bat, Aniko pipes up with her two abortions. The question then becomes who owns that small life in the womb? If we can discard that life, then we can rationalize the abortion of any life they we choose for any reason. Aniko considers that life to be alien and non-human. Those that argue for that life consider it human from conception and a unique human from all others. As such, it should be protected just as we protect the lives of Gregory and Semper Libertas. To do otherwise is to be hypocritical. And all the arguments put forth by those cheapen life fall short - way short of what the Declaration of Independence states.

(btw., the second poster was in full agreement with this one, and I bet 90% of all the others were too-though I haven't read the rest)

What do you expect Rush Limbaugh's answer would be to this completely random challenge of his advocacy of property rights from the American listening public? Perhaps blankout ?

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It occurs to me that some here are focused on judging the person of Rush Limbaugh, almost as an end in itself? The implication is: "what if I "sanction" him, and then it later turns out that I was wrong? What if he later returns to his religious dogmas and betrays us again?"

The only thing that's going on here is some people are withholding praise for Rush Limbaugh because they've taken a broad range of statements that he's made in the past, put his statements concerning Ayn Rand into context, and came to various negative conclusions about him and his statements. This is part of the careful judgment applied by a rational person to other people and their statements.

But in discussing his radio monologue, it is not necessary to imply anything about the character and integrity of Rush Limbaugh. For all I care, he could be a schizophrenic man, advocating selfishness one moment and self-sacrifice the next day. That is of no concern to me. When I listened to his monologue, I judged the thinking happening "right before my ears," which was grounded in reality, first-hand, passionate. Why not identify it as such?

There is a certain schizophrenia in Rush's world of ideas, it's his pragmatic use of his grab-bag full of ideas he can cherry pick for his own needs and satisfaction, and most of the time to entertain his audience as well. It is quite necessary to judge the author of statements, whether it's Rush or not, to help discern its meaning, authenticity, etc... How can you give trust in the meaning of someones statements when they are advocating "selfishness one moment and self-sacrifice the next"; if the President or any other socialist of the same caliber were to give the same statement as Rush, would your reaction be the same?

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It is quite necessary to judge the author of statements, whether it's Rush or not, to help discern its meaning, authenticity, etc...

Rationalism is a tough problem for the person who has it. Your preconceptions do not readily integrate with your observations, so you always have to be cautious about what you see in front of your own eyes. You have to expend a lot of effort to reconcile things, lest you wade into a contradiction.

I am not a rationalist any longer. I don't worry about other people's contradictions, when it comes to my own thinking.

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Before I discovered Rand I struggled mightily for years to work out the philosophical contradictions in my thinking... and for the most part I failed. I do not feel too bad about it, the same can be said for the whole of mankind for most of its history. Even after reading Rand it took years to transfer my thinking and actions to a consistent application of my new understanding. Now, standing on this side of that process I often forget how hard I struggled. It seems so clear now that I take it as almost self evident. This is a common error that we Objectivists make, including Rand herself. We forget how unclear everything was when we were standing on the other side of the problem.

I will give people who are "honestly" trying to work out their thinking a great deal of slack, as long as they are really working at it. Once they have read Rand, specifically AS, I expect more of them. But even then I try to be patient.

Rush is in a unique situation because he is not only trying to work out these contradictions for himslef, but is broadcasting those contradictions to millions of viewers as he does so. This means he is spreading the bad as well as the good. If, in the end he swings our way this could be good, if not it could be very bad.

I would suggest that helping him along would be more profitable than bashing him at this point.

Edited by wilicyote
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Maybe you'd all like Walter Williams better:

He fills in for Rush occasionally on a Friday and I really like him.

I caught the end of the Glenn Beck radio show this morning and he was talking about his special tomorrow night, something about the proper definition of fascism, the history of it, etc. I plan to DVR it and check it out. Anyway, that led me to the following thought...

Even though Rush, Beck, Liddy, etc., aren't perfect and have many contradictions, doesn't the fact that they are open to at least some Objectivist ideas mean anything? I mean, Beck is more than friendly to Yaron Brook, for example, and features him over and over again on his show. Let's say when/if we win this economic battle and the country is moving on to different headlines, do you not think Beck would have Yaron on again to share his ideas about something else, say abortion or gun control?

If/when we are able to prove that our economic philosophy is best, my hope is that these mixed-bag types will be more open to listen to our other ideas. (Hmm, they were right about "x" so let's at least listen to what they have to say about "y.") I certainly think they'll be more open than those that are worse than they are. (Like full blown commies, socialists, religious extremists, etc.)

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Look, I don't see many Objectivists condemning these people as being open to new ideas. What I oppose is these people being seen as representative of any Objectivist principles, because I see none that they don't violate in some way.

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Rationalism is a tough problem for the person who has it. Your preconceptions do not readily integrate with your observations, so you always have to be cautious about what you see in front of your own eyes. You have to expend a lot of effort to reconcile things, lest you wade into a contradiction.

I am not a rationalist any longer. I don't worry about other people's contradictions, when it comes to my own thinking.

I hope you simply misread what I've written, otherwise I could be a very confused rationalist, with a tough problem, and be in need of your help, or maybe you're the one who needs help. Explain to me where this rationalism you're accusing me of has occurred. The only pinpoint claim you seem to make is by quoting my comment that, "It is quite necessary to judge the author of statements, whether it's Rush or not, to help discern its meaning, authenticity, etc..." If you are not doing this when judging the validity or worth of Rush's current statement, then you are the one guilty of rationalism; to make a comment about the value of Rush's statement, in regards to the acceptance or spread of Ayn Rand's ideas, by him, without committing the aforementioned judgment, then you are the one making comments based upon some floating abstraction. All I've done is read Rush's statement (the transcript), put it into the context of statements he has made in the past, and made a few comments about Rush and the value of the statement he made.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I give Rush a little more credit than that. The concept of "selfishness" that most people have is a package deal, lumping together proper, rationally self-interested actions with unprincipled predatory ones. We know that unprincipled predation and whim worship are not actually selfish, but that is not self-evident. I think Rush may be trying to untangle that package deal. We might wish that he used clearer terms, but we shouldn't condemn him as dishonest merely because he hasn't fully grasped what we've grasped about the nature of self-interest.

You're right. In such matters I make a distinction between "classical selfishness"= the popular usage and what I mean. Once understood, I have no problem with most people of some knowledge.

Also, the same has happened to the word "altruis (tic, ism). It has come to mean "benevolent" rather than what Compte meant (which fed into Marx)

It is a pity that tVoS did not include "Benevolence Versus Altruism". That was very explanitory

In fact Rush has been pro self-interest and has read ATLAS SHRUGGED some 15 years ago.

Edited by Space Patroller
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You're right. In such matters I make a distinction between "classical selfishness"= the popular usage and what I mean. Once understood, I have no problem with most people of some knowledge.

Also, the same has happened to the word "altruis (tic, ism). It has come to mean "benevolent" rather than what Compte meant (which fed into Marx)

It is a pity that tVoS did not include "Benevolence Versus Altruism". That was very explanitory

In fact Rush has been pro self-interest and has read ATLAS SHRUGGED some 15 years ago.

However, there is a basic contradiction in Rush's belief if he does support the idea of acting in one's self interest.

According to the religious beliefs he professes. Man, and therefore, the individual, exists for the "greater glory of God". This means that he has no proper self-interest since he is a subservient being by nature. This means that Man can have no purpose on his own and therefore no independent self in which interest to act beyond the basic physical needs and that only to serve God.

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  • 1 year later...

In the culture war we have going on, it is very important for successful individuals who are self-made to come out for rational self-interest, even if they are not going to be completely consistent in what else they have to say. Morality is more fundamental than politics. So if you want capitalism, you must have some successful individuals coming out and praising self-interest and capitalism. Of course, his and other Conservative's stance regarding religion and this country being founded on Christianity completely contradicts the call for rational self-interest, as the Bible is about self-sacrifice and not self-gaining. But it is a debate that needs to be out in the open so Ayn Rand's ideas can be discussed. Besides, he is not speaking for Objectivism, but rather speaking for his own understanding of the issues at hand; which is very mixed. But him coming out and saying he doesn't operate from a self-sacrificial stance is great, and I wish other successful individuals would come out and say it as well.

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I don't disagree with you. Don't get me wrong, I am very glad when he is right those two times a day, especially since he has a hard time not talking. It is good for the people that listen to Rush, because most of those people are ultraconservatives that pretty much believe whatever he says. I checked him out regularly for awhile during the period when Obama was getting elected and it was like Hannity on Steroids so after about a month and a half I had to stop. There was just too much sensationalism and not enough fact for me, compared to my other sources.

But him coming out and saying he doesn't operate from a self-sacrificial stance is great, and I wish other successful individuals would come out and say it as well.

:thumbsup:

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