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Peikoff on working with libertarians

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James Bond
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I'm still a student of Objectivism. As I understand it..the argument against working with libertarians is that objectivism wants to remain distinct from harmful ideas which fringe libertarians support (anarchy, anti-military, etc.). But then why does Peikoff advocate voting for Obama, who other than his civil liberties/secularism, is one of the most vile, socialist presidents in our history?

I know he said that the threat of religion was greater than the threat of socialism. But my main point is the following.

He said objectivists shouldn't refrain from voting because both candidates are bad. But by that same (pragmatic(?!)) logic, shouldn't objectivists be friendly with libertarians since there is some good in libertarian politics?

Truth bombs are welcome. Help clear this up for me.

Edited by James Bond
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As I understand it, voting for a candidate is not giving him your sanction or your moral support, as long as you continue advocate against his ideas afterward. The President of the United States is an important role, and though we should do whatever we can to fill it with good candidates, we have to pick the least-worse one when given the chance. Simply revoking your vote entirely, while poetic, is irresponsible because then you have no say in you becomes your ruler. Voting Libertarian is basically the same thing (Unless, by some miracle, a Libertarian candidate gains a snowball's chance in hell of winning).

Therefore, since they have no real political power, and their ideas are similarly bankrupt, they have absolutely nothing to offer Objectivism.

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As I understand it, voting for a candidate is not giving him your sanction or your moral support, as long as you continue advocate against his ideas afterward. The President of the United States is an important role, and though we should do whatever we can to fill it with good candidates, we have to pick the least-worse one when given the chance. Simply revoking your vote entirely, while poetic, is irresponsible because then you have no say in you becomes your ruler. Voting Libertarian is basically the same thing (Unless, by some miracle, a Libertarian candidate gains a snowball's chance in hell of winning).

Therefore, since they have no real political power, and their ideas are similarly bankrupt, they have absolutely nothing to offer Objectivism.

I would like to see more Libertarians integrate into the Republican party. Then again, look what happened with Ron Paul.

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I would like to see more Libertarians integrate into the Republican party. Then again, look what happened with Ron Paul.

Libertarians have always had a bad rep with Objectivist (and for many good reasons). However, I believe the isolationism and anarchism in the party are just loudly spoken outliers. Many times when I describe the anti-military and anarchism to people who consider themselves Libertarians didn't even know this element existed in their own party. I feel many of these outliers could be rubbed out of the LP.

I've mentioned in previous post that I believe that Objectivism could be the ethical back bone of the libertarian Party just as socialism is for the Demarcates and Christianity is for the Republicans. One of the reasons that the LP party has become host to "undesirables" is because its principles are not founded on a particular ethical code.

Edited by Rearden_Steel
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As I understand it, voting for a candidate is not giving him your sanction or your moral support, as long as you continue advocate against his ideas afterward.

Couldn't you also then support libertarians, as long as you made your case clear?

Therefore, since they have no real political power, and their ideas are similarly bankrupt, they have absolutely nothing to offer Objectivism.

I'd agree they have little political power..but take for instance moving to New Hampshire and being part of the Free State Project. Is this a selfish, objective act? Or is it sanction and therefore sedition?

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When you vote for the lesser evil, you are *not* supporting the candidate. You are voting against, rather than for.

Peikoff did not advise any Objectivists to join in Obama's campaign, or to start advocating his ideas. Libertarians, on the other hand, are a purely political movement, they have no philosophical underpinnings and this is why the movement is such a mess. Getting votes is the be-all and end-all of Libertarian movements: voting for Libertarians is actually sanctioning them.

It is not yet time for politics. We need to advocate our philosophical and political ideas to the point where they are widely accepted until we can even think about getting the right people into office. The Objectivist strategy is to create a cultural revolution - the Libertarian solution is to try and convince the populace of a myriad of floating abstractions to worm their way into office. The two are mutually exclusive, but things are made even murkier by the fact that on the surface, us and the libertarians appear to have similar goals (free markets, etc.) For this reason, we cannot lend their movements any help whatsoever. Even if through some near-impossibility somebody like Ron Paul was elected as President, we might be more free temporarily, but without the right philosophy being widely accepted this would soon be reverted.

"Hey, there's lots of wealth now, lets distribute it. Why not?"

"Free markets? We tried those when Ron Paul was president, they didn't work"

The capitalist movement would be set back by many years if we let the Libertarians dominate it.

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I've mentioned in previous post that I believe that Objectivism could be the ethical back bone of the libertarian Party just as socialism is for the Demarcates and Christianity is for the Republicans. One of the reasons that the LP party has become host to "undesirables" is because its principles are not founded on a particular ethical code.

Agreed.

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Libertarians, on the other hand, are a purely political movement, they have no philosophical underpinnings and this is why the movement is such a mess.

How would you classify the philosophical underpinnings of the two major parties?

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But then why does Peikoff advocate voting for Obama, who other than his civil liberties/secularism, is one of the most vile, socialist presidents in our history?

Here's a truth bomb: While Dr. Peikoff did advocate voting for Democrats in order to stop the theocratic leanings of Conservatives, he did not advocate voting for Obama. In fact, he came right out and said in one of his podcasts that he wouldn't stoop so low as to vote for either Obama or McCain, and so he abstained from voting in the past Presidential campaign.

The thing is that while we are currently fighting against the greater of two evils, there is a limit to whom one can vote for even while voting against the greater of two evils. One reason Dr. Peikoff said he wouldn't vote for Obama is that he, too, is religious and wants to expand the Faith Based initiatives, and has actually done that. Peikoff also explained that Socialism is far better then Theocracy -- theocracy can lead to another Dark Ages, while Socialism can still be fought based upon reason.

We definitely need a philosophical revolution before we can have a political revolution -- just look at how many people wanted to fry the managers of AIG regarding their bonuses that were under contract. It is good that people are against corporate bail outs, but they are not yet for individual rights as defined by Objectivism. The Conservatives are beginning to use those words, but I don't think they would advocate individual rights across the board because they think, at least implicitly, that the government is there to enforce a proper morality so long as those moral laws come from God -- which is the principle of theocracy.

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I'd say judge each libertarian individually. Some may be honestly mistaken, some may call themselves libertarian rather than Objectivist because even though they're mostly in agreement with Rand, they are undecided, sceptical or they may not agree on some point or points.

they have no philosophical underpinnings

I wouldn't say that about all libertarians. They may draw their ideas from a broader group of thinkers and ideas but they have some kind of philosophy.

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I'd say judge each libertarian individually. Some may be honestly mistaken, some may call themselves libertarian rather than Objectivist because even though they're mostly in agreement with Rand, they are undecided, sceptical or they may not agree on some point or points.

I wouldn't say that about all libertarians. They may draw their ideas from a broader group of thinkers and ideas but they have some kind of philosophy.

I have a friend who is a Libertarian. He's not an Objectivist because he believes in "God" but from what I've seen of him and other Libertarians they seem to have very similar ideas to us.

As to voting for Libertarians, wouldn't it be easier to enlighten a public that embraced Libertarianism than say conservatism or socialism?

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But then why does Peikoff advocate voting for Obama

Oh no, no, no, no, no....Dr. Peikoff does not advocate for voting for Obama. In fact, Dr. Peikoff described Obama as the first anti American major party candidate in history.

Three years ago he did suggest Objectivists should vote Democrat in the midterm elections, for very specific reasons and only that one time. Obama's name never came up.

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Oh no, no, no, no, no....Dr. Peikoff does not advocate for voting for Obama. In fact, Dr. Peikoff described Obama as the first anti American major party candidate in history.

Three years ago he did suggest Objectivists should vote Democrat in the midterm elections, for very specific reasons and only that one time. Obama's name never came up.

Haha anti-american..funny, true, and sad. Thanks for your truth grenade.

Edited by James Bond
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I am hoping the Libertarian party can some how work on its platform. I cannot join Republican or Democrat parties - but the Libertarian party is closer to my polictical beliefs. But I am an independent.

I vote per the candidate, not the party. I didn't vote for McCain or Obama either - I wrote in John Galt, but I did vote down the rest of the ticket. And I voted for every Libertarian on the local ticket because at least I know they hate taxes and large government. I wouldn't vote for Ron Paul because I don't like his stance on abortion.

If there is a Libertarian candidate were to run for president that agree on with most of the issues, I would absolutely vote for that candidate.

By the way - Libertarian party does have issues, but that doesn't mean they cannot change. I think disavowing them altogether just because a lot of prominent Objectivists do (either the party or individual candidates) is a mistake. You have to think for yourself - so why not at least investigate the candidate's stance before just disregarding them?

I think a lot of Objectivists do that, and it is unfortunate.

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How would you classify the philosophical underpinnings of the two major parties?

That's a damn good question because in the U.S. elections are made by voting for individual candidates not political parties. It shouldn't matter what the political party thinks, only what your guy thinks. Hence the aphorism "all politics are local". When representatives get to Washington D.C. they then organize into blocks in order to vote for congressional leadership spots and control of the legislative agenda. Beyond voting for the same leaders, members of a political party do not necessarily have to have anything in common.

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In terms of broad brush strokes, the conservatives tend to be intrinsicists and the liberals tend to be subjectivists; and the libertarians are not objective, since they cannot validate their cry for freedom (which makes them come across as whim worshipers).

None of the three major parties base their arguments on the factual nature of man and derive their politics from those facts. That is none of them base their arguments of their politics on the fact that man is the rational animal, and that he has certain social needs to be left alone so he can live his life as a rational animal. The conservatives, especially insofar as they are religious, base their arguments on edicts without validating those edicts; the liberals want certain things to happen (i.e. more people in houses, wealth equality, etc.) based on their desire unsupported by the facts; the libertarians want to do whatever they want to do, with no justification of why they ought to be free to do it.

The only real rational alternative is presented by Ayn Rand in Capitalism:The Unknown Ideal and in Atlas Shrugged.

I would recommend reading Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty by Peter Schwartz to better understand the nature of libertarians.

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Libertarians, on the other hand, are a purely political movement, they have no philosophical underpinnings and this is why the movement is such a mess. Getting votes is the be-all and end-all of Libertarian movements: voting for Libertarians is actually sanctioning them.

If Libertarians are primarily concerned with getting votes, then they've been remarkably unsuccessful at it over the years. Under our current two party system, as a practical matter, you need to choose one or the other and work within it. I think what Ron Paul did (running for President as a Republican) made far more sense and influenced the debate to a far greater extent than simply engaging in another half hearted, guaranteed-to-fail campaign as a “Loosertarian”.

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In terms of broad brush strokes, the conservatives tend to be intrinsicists and the liberals tend to be subjectivists; and the libertarians are not objective, since they cannot validate their cry for freedom (which makes them come across as whim worshipers).

None of the three major parties base their arguments on the factual nature of man and derive their politics from those facts. That is none of them base their arguments of their politics on the fact that man is the rational animal, and that he has certain social needs to be left alone so he can live his life as a rational animal. The conservatives, especially insofar as they are religious, base their arguments on edicts without validating those edicts; the liberals want certain things to happen (i.e. more people in houses, wealth equality, etc.) based on their desire unsupported by the facts; the libertarians want to do whatever they want to do, with no justification of why they ought to be free to do it.

The only real rational alternative is presented by Ayn Rand in Capitalism:The Unknown Ideal and in Atlas Shrugged.

I would recommend reading Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty by Peter Schwartz to better understand the nature of libertarians.

I understand why Ayn Rand was not happy with Libertarians back in her day. But this is 2009. Some things have changed. They are absolutely not perfect - and neither are the Reps or Dems. In fact, in many instances, I don't see a lot of difference between those 2 parties most of the time.

I haven't read anything written in the past 5 years that made me think that it is wrong to consider a candidate on their personal track record and their stances on issues - regardless of whether they are Dem, Rep or Libertarian. To me - to say no to any candidate just BECAUSE they are a member of these parties is arbitrary.

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The Libertarian Party Platform adopted in 2008 is actually quite good in most of the terms and agreements arrived at by Libertarians. I would want better definitions of some terms and I don't like the environmental part of their platform (though they do mitigate that with reference to individual rights). However, I do think that such terms as individual rights and freedom require a philosophical defense, and not just the statement that a person has the right to do what he wants to do. In other words, even though the platform is primarily good (and I don't have any red flags going up, aside from the environmental statements and what they mean by personal relationships), without a philosophical base and defense, it cannot stand in a vacuum.

Certainly, Objectivists are not against individual rights, and I can see why some would want to support the Libertarian Party due to their platform. But I still maintain that we need the philosophical revolution so that terms like "individual rights" are properly understood and philosophically defended before we can reach that stage of their acceptance enough to get that type of government.

As an example, I was having a discussion with someone who leans towards being a Conservative and he agreed that we ought to be upholding individual rights, but he also denied that one ought to be free to engage in recreational use of drugs, prostitution, and other such "immoral acts" thinking that such practices would destroy the country.

There is a moral base to governments -- that is politics are derived from morality -- and without the moral revolution presented by Objectivism, there are not going to be enough of an understanding of individual rights to bring that about. In other words, if the Libertarians cannot philosophically defend their cry for freedom, it won't happen.

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I understand why Ayn Rand was not happy with Libertarians back in her day. But this is 2009. Some things have changed.

I think that part of the reason that Rand didn't like libertarians was because she was suspicious of the elements of anarchism within the movement. The name 'libertarian' was originally a synonym for 'anarchist' and it was first used in it's modern meaning by Murray Rothbard, the founder of anarcho-capitalism and an ally of the New Left.

But as you say, these days, due to the influence of people like Rand, libertarianism isn't as far wrong as it used to be.

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I would want better definitions of some terms and I don't like the environmental part of their platform (though they do mitigate that with reference to individual rights).

I read that Ron Paul is a 'free-market environmentalist', do you think that it's wrong to use this term? I skimmed over the wikipedia page and I didn't find any reference to climate change, only how the free market works out environmental problems itself. But then, if you call yourself a free-market environmentalist then people may assume that you automatically believe all of the Al Gore stuff.

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I would mention one other thing that a friend pointed out to me: there is nothing wrong with an Objectivist supporting a Libertarian group. The whole issue has always been that, well, it looks like "Objectivism" is endorsing this or that position, and that there's no difference between the two.

But the truth is, one is a human being first and an Objectivist second. Whilst Objectivism guides ones life, and one practices what one preaches, one is not a representative of 'Objectivism', in the sense that everything which one does is representative of what Objectivism is about.

But that's what's so great about having the Ayn Rand Institute as this pure group which refuses to endorse things like the Libertarian party or the libertarian movement. It means that we can garner support for our cause, associate with libertarians and try to get them to be active in supporting our cause or donating to the ARI. We can do what the ARI cannot do, because by doing so, even though it does not mean to endorse a group, it would like it was endorsing it.

Hell, even if it's just in direct political action like getting the support of sympathetic groups in voting down or up on some issue, or in campaigning a political representative.

And when someone asks us who we are, what we believe, we can point to this pure, untainted source at the ARI and say, "Look, this is what I'm about!"

Edited by Tenure
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The Libertarian Party Platform adopted in 2008 is actually quite good in most of the terms and agreements arrived at by Libertarians.

My two biggest concerns with the platform is under "1.3 Personal Relationships" and "2.2 Environment". If marriage is a contract, then it is certainly a part of the governments job to uphold contracts, unless both parties to the contract want to annul it. I'd want to have clarification on what they have against current marriage laws and such. I think in the 2008 platform it bothers me that they even have a clause in there regarding environment and ecosystem, because that gets into all sorts of issues such as could the government rightfully prevent global warming and things along those line.

I don't think there is anything wrong with an ad hoc relationship on specific things the Libertarians want to accomplish, and I don't think there is anything wrong with having friends who are Libertarians. But Libertarianism as an intellectual movement and ideological stance must be judged by their most outspoken adherers, who, unfortunately, don't always come out on the side of supporting reason as man's only legitimate means of knowing existence and how to behave morally.

While Objectivism does support individual rights, we know that these stem from man's life as the standard and that any other standard (i.e. just wants or desires, or God) is insufficient in making the moral case for freedom.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out, however, if Objectivists, Libertarians, and even some Conservatives are all vocal for individual rights. If that phrase gets defined appropriately and is defended morally (based on reason as man's only means of survival), it may just happen. However, without the philosophical base presented in Objectivism, it won't be supported on the correct grounds and will only be tentative. The long-term danger to our freedoms will be if that term "individual rights" gets watered down into only a pseudo movement, because then it will be that much harder to actually bring about individual rights.

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As an example, I was having a discussion with someone who leans towards being a Conservative and he agreed that we ought to be upholding individual rights, but he also denied that one ought to be free to engage in recreational use of drugs, prostitution, and other such "immoral acts" thinking that such practices would destroy the country.

A little off-topic, but I've read on these pages people unequivocally supporting the use of "recreational" drugs (as distinguished from the "recreational use of drugs"), but how does that play out when people become addicted and lose the ability to act volitionally wrt drugs? Does morality end at the point of a needle, when that needle physically forces a person to act against his well being? Are we ok with legalizing morphine, knowing that dealers will work diligently to get kids hooked and create a steady flow of sales?

Also, wrt to Thomas' other example, is there any good evidence that prostitution is not largely fed by pimps who use force/drugs to get young girls and boys into the street life? Is partaking of prostitution moral if you know that your demand will support the further use of force against innocents?

In other words, aren't there actions whose morality goes beyond a man's personal values, and which entail the support of the intrinsically immoral initiation of force against others, or one's self?

(edit: punct)

Edited by agrippa1
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