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Are national loyalties becoming irrational?

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Hotu Matua
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I am under the impression that Ayn Rand was in love with America in the context of a bipolar world with powerful totalitarian countries in one side and a strong free power on the other, and that the concept of nation, specially a free and strong nation-State was essential for her urge of security.

However, inthe emerging context of mixed, fence-sitting, semi-free economies that are just slightly different one from another, aren't nations more an obstacle than an aid to the flourishing of individualism around the globe?

OK, I admit we still have some few crazy ayatollahs and messianic dictators here and there... But with proper action from the free world they should be eliminated. What should come after that? What would be the use of keeping the current model of nation-States?

If country A fights country B, and both are semi-free states with mixed economies and a reasonable respect for the most basic rights, why should rational citizens from country A fight rational citizens from country B? Why should rational citizens from A join forces with his mystical, irrational countrymen to fight rational citizens of the rival country?

Should an American Objectivist feel more akin to an American socialist or religious fundamentalist than to a Mexican Objectivist?

I just don't get it.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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However, inthe emerging context of mixed, fence-sitting, semi-free economies that are just slightly different one from another, aren't nations more an obstacle than an aid to the flourishing of individualism around the globe?

Yes, semi-free nations are an "obstacle" to individualism, but not necessarily "more" than being "an aid". Full freedom is favorable, whereas full dictatorship inimical, to the life of an individual. But there is no definable point in the degradation of a country at which it becomes "more an obstacle than an aid". For instance, in present day US, if you want to be a writer, you have all the opportunity to be one; but if you want to be a banker, you will only survive if you have a tough enough skin to comply with countless regulations.

If country A fights country B, and both are semi-free states with mixed economies and a reasonable respect for the most basic rights, why should rational citizens from country A fight rational citizens from country B?

A country A with "reasonable respect for the most basic rights" will have no conflict of interest with a similar country B. In the unlikely scenario that A does commit aggression against B, rational citizens from both countries would consider B to be morally justified in acting in retaliation. If any rational citizens from A get killed while B exercises retaliatory force (assuming it's not possible to distinguish them), then their deaths would be the responsibility of irrational government in A (and not of rational citizens in B )--and the rational citizens from A who are getting killed would understand this too!

Edit: Removed unintended smiley.

Edited by Rockefeller
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Thank you, Rockefeller.

I believe things usually get more complicated than that in practice.

It is often hard to say which side is right and which one is wrong. Even for rational people, official propaganda and genuine misunderstandings fueled by patriotic zeal make almost impossible to tell between agression and retaliation.

Take First World War, for example. An example of how nationalisms blew up a world of relatively free trade and prosperity. Who was the agressor?

Sometimes thinks get complicated when the freer country is the one attacking the less free country.

Take the Mexican-American war, for example. The US was at that time the closest a country has been to a laissez-faire economy, Mexico was a mild, very mild dictatorship, yet this was clearly a war of territorial conquest by the US.

Or take the war between Russia and Japan at the start of XX century. Or the Boers war in South Africa between the British and the Dutch colonists. Or the War of the Pacific by which Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia. Chile was the agressor, yet slightly freer and richer.

I am pleased to see how nationalistic zeal is going out-of-fashion, but it is still dangerous.

Should Muslim Chechenia secede from authoritarian Russia? Malasia is also Muslim, but far better than Russia in terms of freedom and cooperation with countries with Western values.

My point is that citizens are expected to rally behind their armies or be considered traitors, and that most wars bwtween nation-States are ( and have been) irrational, not related to defending justice but to expanding power and influence over the lives of men.

In my ideal world, people would easily move among micro-states, showing more loyalty to reason than to motherlands, and showing no mystical attachments to any country in particular. If microstate A attacks microstate B, or if it is hard to distinguish agressor from victim, rational citizens could easily move (or move their savings) to microstate C. Wars would be a bad business most of the time and governments would have to appeal to reason and present clear proofs, validated, perhaps, by third parties and courts.

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Should an American Objectivist feel more akin to an American socialist or religious fundamentalist than to a Mexican Objectivist?

I just don't get it.

Or to a South African one?B)

I guess this varies from one O'ist to the next. Essentially there should be no conflict between one's philosophy and one's nation...

but, with all nations' trend towards collectivism, there has to come that time when an individualist questions his true loyalty.

Americans have come from a much more elevated position than anywhere else, and have much further to slide, but I notice are just now asking the question - how much more can I take?

Personally, though I have citizenship of three countries, I have for some years recognised that none is worth my patriotism - so Statist have they all become.

I have quite comfortably accepted that I have no 'spiritual' home, and owe my allegiance to only myself, my philosophy and my loved ones.

A 'sovereign state of one', perhaps, and it feels very liberating.

Above all, I do believe that O'ists (no matter how conflicting we may bedry.gif ) have more in common than variants of simple race and nationality.

A timeous and well-framed query, I think, Hotua.

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To challenge you, I shall say that no certain nation consists any common fundamental characteristics – nation (in the conservative – collectivist and standardless context you have mentioned it) is only a group of individuals that holds that has any rights such as stealing a territory or having an economical relief to realize their own wills only by the fact it exist – that there exists a genetic proximity as a result of a faith or an arbitrary faith as a genetic result – although in effect even while getting farther away of a certain place or (mystical) ideology you can reproduce. Although, to clarify the facts of the a-correction about this anti concept named 'nationality,' I am about to analyze every of the well-know "clear" characteristics of the nation:

1) Language: In effect, concept are extract formed by perception and sensation of common, fundamental characteristics – and is given to be humanely taught relatively easily after choosing to think. Nothing about faith. (Although if you believe that faith shall be a cause to grammatical succession you actually do not know what a concept formation is.) Most highest purposes of the language, i.e., the visual or audience symbols you use to describe those concepts, are about precisely, fluency and communication. English language, today, is not "built" on any nation and is the most logical, aesthetical and business language. More over, a legislation to the need of keeping a language used shall not occur in a free society – i.e., a one that has a justification to exist.

2) Culture: Culture is the sum of intellectual achievements at a society by individuals with full or non-full to its laws and way of living. It does not set the laws nor the way of living of a state in a free society – but is set by them. It is not created by a mystical belief and not necessarily by the fact of a nation ('a group of individuals with a related belief that is united while arguing to a its own right to get regions to realize their ideas accordingly to their beliefs' – this definition is the real one to character those who call themselves 'national'. Their term is an anti-concept.) People that've been forced to renounce their property or to stay in a country that will sacrifice other rights of them are not given to represents in the exhibition of 'culture'.

3) Genetics: It might be true that X ideology believers group or Y country livers have some common genetic related characteristics, but it is irrelevant since those are qualified to live whenever they want a country or an ideology and still bring children to the world. There are also certain people who live in a country although the are suffering by its moral goodness (which is by the way very sad as exists).

4) Policy and history: It is maybe the closest argument here to reality – but that is only since it is the most far away one of the mystical-collectivist belief of the nationality – for the same reason it is no proper to justify nationality in considerated context. Arguments such as "I love Hong Kong because there is a relative freedom of market there" or for the sake of an illustration "I love New York since skyscrapers give me an emotion of joy" are crossing the short borderline that differentiates between the national subjectivism, the ''love" of something only since it is consistent in the arbitrary emotion of nationality which simply exists for no reason, "I think that X nation has a right to exist because I am one of it," and basing on an objective standard and on you own love by your own ultimate value, "I am just since I think that justice is right. X country is also just". Ms. Rand used to belong to that sort of state-evaluators.

This post is based on a lecture I had en my public school. After having that, teacher distinguished as an example that 'make-up is a characteristic of females although a male can have it too'. Now, as most of you know the objectivist theory of concept formation, although it includes some sexual stuff that no philosophy should analyze, -- what is the problematicalness in this argument. Can a concept be formed and differentiated from others although it has no definition or fundamental characteristic?

In our days in Israel, some quite important objectivist have left to the conservative, the more popular side, probably because of their hate to the left-wing side. Though, it is important to remember that those who deny any right to live and think that faith is upper than rationality are no better, at all.

T.R.

Edited by Tomer Ravid
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It is often hard to say which side is right and which one is wrong. Even for rational people, official propaganda and genuine misunderstandings fueled by patriotic zeal make almost impossible to tell between agression and retaliation.

In order to judge government's actions as good or bad, man must study politics. According to Objectivism, the only proper role of government is protection of individual rights. This is the only standard, by which "rational people" evaluate government actions--there is no consideration of "patriotic zeal". A rational man makes his evaluation based on objective facts, i.e. visible actions and consequences of his government; even if he gets misguided by "official propaganda", it would only be temporary.

My point is that citizens are expected to rally behind their armies or be considered traitors, and that most wars bwtween nation-States are ( and have been) irrational, not related to defending justice but to expanding power and influence over the lives of men.

A government that commits aggression against a free country is violating the rights of its own citizens--in particular, their right to freely associate with the citizens of that country as potential traders. Just because this principle has been evaded historically by many governments, does not imply that one should abandon the whole idea of a government.

Truly free countries rarely go to war. For evidence, look at the West in the whole of 19th century--an unprecedentedly peaceful period after centuries of barbaric wars. My knowledge of history is not so deep, so I would not comment on the particular wars that you mention.

If microstate A attacks microstate B, or if it is hard to distinguish agressor from victim, rational citizens could easily move (or move their savings) to microstate C.

Just look at the armed border guards in North Korea to see if they allow "rational citizens" to easily move out.

governments would have to appeal to [...] present clear proofs, validated, perhaps, by third parties

Just look at the UN or "International Court of Justice" to see how dismally validation-seeking is working out for American self-interest.

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If country A fights country B, and both are semi-free states with mixed economies and a reasonable respect for the most basic rights

There has never been a war between two countries with the level of freedom that exists in western democracies. It's just not a problem in need of a solution.

Take First World War, for example. An example of how nationalisms blew up a world of relatively free trade and prosperity. Who was the agressor?

Germany and the Austro-Hungrian Empire.

Sometimes thinks get complicated when the freer country is the one attacking the less free country.

Take the Mexican-American war, for example. The US was at that time the closest a country has been to a laissez-faire economy, Mexico was a mild, very mild dictatorship, yet this was clearly a war of territorial conquest by the US.

It's not clear at all. The United States intervened in a conflict between the Republic of Texas (a free, democratic Republic), and Mexico (a dictatorship seeking to invade and control Texas). And yes, Mexico lost the war, and with it, territory.

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Just because this principle has been evaded historically by many governments, does not imply that one should abandon the whole idea of a government.

I do not endorse abandoning the whole idea of a government. I believe in the proper role of governments.

I endorse rethinking the whole idea of large nation-States as they exist now.

With the notable exception of the USA, all nation-states on Earth have formed out of the quest for power balance among power-thristy elites, kings or caudillos.

The USA is the only moral country on earth inasmuch as their founding principles are concerned.

However, even in this case founding principles are quickly being forgotten, not just to the extent of a growing statism, but a growing power of Washington over the autonomy of the states and, more importantly, the decline of values among American citizens in favor of mysticism and altruism.

I keep my fingers crossed that the USA may survive for several decades as a strong nation-State, and that it may get rid of all fundamentalist threats in the Muslim world. I believe there is still a key role for the USA to play, as a nation-Sate, in world history. But things can still go wrong... Very wrong. The same mechanisms that drive the USA to becoming a benevolent superpower can turn it into a malevolent superpower. Washington (as a central government) just happens to handle too much power.

The US should get rid of Iran, North Korea and all rogue states, force Russian and Chinese authoritarism to give way to a reasonably free capitalist societies, and then, as a last step, start furthering the abolition nation-States. Thousands of Hong Kongs or Singapore-sized states would be created.

Imagine, for example, what would be the case if instead of having Pakistan and India, both monster-sized countries able to launch nuclear attacks agaisnt each other, we have 879 microstates occupying those territories, and people free to move from one to another and change loyalties as befit their interests. The impact of a REGRESSION to barbarism in any number of those 879 microstates would be negliglible, compared with the danger of a regression of a whole mammoth country controlling large armies.

Truly free countries rarely go to war.

The problem is that there are no truly free countries, and that, however rarely, they happen to go to war. And when they do, they drag their citizens to blodshed and horror.

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Semi-free countries are an obstacle for individualism, but they protect people from a state of complete savagery.

A practical aspect of a nation-state is that it is built around a *nation* with a common language. If the United States and Mexico were to become Objectivist countries, it would still be difficult to combine the courts, police, etc. with some officials speaking English and others speaking Spanish.

Objectivism is a philosophy for the human race that transcends superficial cultural differences like what you eat for breakfast, whether you shake hands or bow, etc. I met some Objectivists from India once and knew they were my people much more than many of my fellow Americans. Think of the rebellion in Atlas Shrugged in which the producers discard the "obligation" they have towards their fellow countrymen.

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Objectivism is a philosophy for the human race that transcends superficial cultural differences like what you eat for breakfast, whether you shake hands or bow, etc. I met some Objectivists from India once and knew they were my people much more than many of my fellow Americans. Think of the rebellion in Atlas Shrugged in which the producers discard the "obligation" they have towards their fellow countrymen.
True. And this is also true of other many other philosophies:every university in the world probably has some Marx fans, Sartre fans, Adam Smith fans and so on. Also, one does not have to look to organized philosophies and ideas for these commonalities. All over the world, there are people who read similar books, watch similar TV shows, listen to similar music, and end up sharing a lot of common ideas even without studying about ideas as such. So, yes, the intellectual distance between me and many people living in a very different part of town just 40 miles away is far wider than between me and people living in a certain part of town in a country like India or China or UK or Lithuania.

In some ways it would be cool if one could wave a wand an relocate people so that they can form countries that are have more commonality among the populations. (I suppose some such countries would end up being pretty terrible.) However, that's the realm of science-fiction -- it will not happen. A one-world government is worse, because variation at least creates a better chance for good ideas. So, we're pretty much left with what we have.

As for the OP's question -- "Should an American Objectivist feel more akin to an American socialist or religious fundamentalist than to a Mexican Objectivist?" The question is obviously rhetorical, ceteris paribus. If the U.S. were ever to move toward being more respectful of individual rights, good immigration and citizenship laws should pull many like-minded people in. And, the same for any other country that moved toward Capitalism.

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Capitalism does not, in and of itself, guarantee respect of individual rights,....
I was using "Capitalism" in the Objectivist sense, i.e. as an abbreviation for "a political system that upholds individual rights as the primary underpinning of all its other laws". Edited by softwareNerd
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