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Is Objectivism Totalitarian?

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I’ve structured the argument below in two parts in the form of a kind of flow chart. My essential question is whether Objectivists really believe that taxation is theft? Or would they want to suppress socialist political views which is heading towards Totalitarianism? It would be great if people can point out where they think the flaws in my reasoning are.

Part One

1. I start off by asking is it ok for me as a citizen according to Objectivism to campaign and plan to change the laws so that it is legal to fly planes into skyscrapers for religious reasons? If yes, go to 2, if no, 3.

2. Is it ok for me while campaigning for the law to be changed as above, to make detailed plans for my flight into the building that will be made the day after I change the law? If yes, go to 4, no, 5. Choosing no here would be restricting people’s expression on the grounds of national security.

3. You don’t support free political expression which is inconsistent with Objectivism. Go to 2. (Another example of political campaigning for violence is when people campaign for war which they should be allowed to do under free political expression).

4. You support terrorists making detailed plans for murder which is inconsistent with a society that protects rights. For proof of this consider what would happen if you properly allowed people to campaign for violence (or war) under their free political expression but also allowed people to draw up future battle plans against fellow citizens. Any terrorist group could then legally form detailed plans which the authorities could do nothing to stop – the terrorist group never intends to change the law – they will just blow up the building and until that day hide behind the cover of free expression and political campaigning when making these plans.

Part Two

5. OK, so now apply socialism to the above terrorist example. Since socialism involves taxation and taxation is theft, is it ok to campaign and change the laws so that socialism (theft) is legal? If yes, go to 6, if no, 7.

6. Is it ok for me while campaigning for the law to be changed to legalise socialism, to make detailed plans for how I will at gun point expropriate wealth the day after I change the law (ie it will be legal)? If yes, go to 8, no, 9.

7. You don’t support free political expression which is inconsistent with Objectivism. Go to 6. (Another example of political campaigning for bad things like theft is when people campaign for abortion restrictions which they should be allowed to do under free political expression).

8. You support thieves making detailed plans for theft which is inconsistent with a society that protects rights. For proof of this consider what would happen if you properly allowed people to campaign for legalised theft (socialism) under their free political expression but also allowed people to draw up future expropriation plans against fellow citizens. Any group of thieves could then legally form detailed theft plans which the authorities could do nothing to stop – the group of thieves never intends to change the law – they will just commit theft and until that day hide behind the cover of free expression and political campaigning when making these plans.

9. Then you are restricting peoples political expression. No one could legally be a socialist in your society since part of socialism involves detailed planning for how the wealth is to be expropriated.

I accept Part One – ie I would restrict peoples rights in this area at some point on grounds of national security risks. But do you also restrict socialists rights to expression on national security grounds? I submit to you that this would be a form of totalitarianism with views opposing Objectivism banned.

The way to resolve the dilemma in Part Two is to admit that taxation is in fact not theft. I.e. making detailed plans to enact taxation is not making plans for theft at gun point. Taxation is simply a way for the state to raise revenue after democratic consensus has been achieved, those who disagree with the consensus being free to leave the country.

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A rational society would rightfully outlaw the propagation of speech which is a threat to the Constitutional principles of that society. An Objectivist society would outlaw political speech espou

Argument from authority. There is a contradiction here. Rand required the oath for entry into Galt's Gulch for a reason that should be obvious to the simplest of minds. What do you think woul

Not sending someone to jail is not the equivalent of "accommodating" them. So no, an Objectivist state would not accommodate evil. Robbing banks is illegal and evil, right? And yet, watch this:

1. I start off by asking is it ok for me as a citizen according to Objectivism to campaign and plan to change the laws so that it is legal to fly planes into skyscrapers for religious reasons? If yes, go to 2, if no, 3.

No (well, you can campaign and plan I guess, if it doesn't involve any actual action in that direction; but my understanding of what it means to campaign and plan for something does involve action in the direction of your goal).

5. OK, so now apply socialism to the above terrorist example. Since socialism involves taxation and taxation is theft, is it ok to campaign and change the laws so that socialism (theft) is legal? If yes, go to 6, if no, 7.

No. (this time it's clear cut, since you left out the plan part, and went straight to the making of the law)

7. You don’t support free political expression which is inconsistent with Objectivism. Go to 6. (Another example of political campaigning for bad things like theft is when people campaign for abortion restrictions which they should be allowed to do under free political expression).

It's fine to be a socialist or opposed to abortion, it's not fine to use force (or be the accomplice in the use of force) to implement either. Making a law to implement socialism is force (since actual policemen will come to my house and take my property, by force).

There's no need for bullet points, that sums it up. Objectivism allows free expression, and draws the limit between expression and criminal acts at the initiation of physical force.

In your defense (as I'm sure people will be mean to you over this), there has been a lot of confusion in the anti Muslim threads about the Objectivist position on free speech. Hope my answer above cleared it up.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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I’ve structured the argument below ...
If a person actually has a right to stay and do certain things, and the democratic majority force him to do either something else or leave, that is immoral. In that kind of situation, being "free to leave the country" is a euphemism for exile.

Are you suggesting that an Objectivist country would imprison and/or exile people campaigning for any changes to the constitution? That is how I read what you're saying: i.e. that it would, and therefore taxation should not be disallowed by the constitution.

Edited by softwareNerd
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I’ve structured the argument below in two parts in the form of a kind of flow chart. My essential question is whether Objectivists really believe that taxation is theft? Or would they want to suppress socialist political views which is heading towards Totalitarianism?

Your question about Objectivism being totalitarian or not can't be answered as well as you'd want until you define totalitarianism.

Edited by Eiuol
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It's fine to be a socialist or opposed to abortion, it's not fine to use force (or be the accomplice in the use of force) to implement either. Making a law to implement socialism is force (since actual policemen will come to my house and take my property, by force).

Right, but is it fine to plan now in detail the use of force after you've made it legal, and if so what's to stop nefarious people hiding behind this and using force with no plans to change the law?

Your question about Objectivism being totalitarian or not can't be answered as well as you'd want until you define totalitarianism.

From Wikipedia:

Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single political person, faction, or class, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.[2] Totalitarianism is generally characterized by the coincidence of authoritarianism (where ordinary citizens have less significant share in state decision-making) and ideology (a pervasive scheme of values promulgated by institutional means to direct most if not all aspects of public and private life).[3]

Prescribing that no regulation can take place is itself a regulation, just as taking no stand on an issue is itself a stand. By not allowing socialists to make plans to revolutionise the means of production you are forcefully interfering in their lives and denying them political freedoms.

Are you suggesting that an Objectivist country would imprison and/or exile people campaigning for any changes to the constitution? That is how I read what you're saying: i.e. that it would, and therefore taxation should not be disallowed by the constitution.

I'm not saying that they would imprison people who campaign for constitution changes, I'm saying that they would imprison people who make plans to initiate force after they have hopefully changed the law. Otherwise, how could those who simply want to initiate force and those who campaign peacefully for making force initiation legal be delimited?

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I'm not saying that they would imprison people who campaign for constitution changes, I'm saying that they would imprison people who make plans to initiate force after they have hopefully changed the law. Otherwise, how could those who simply want to initiate force and those who campaign peacefully for making force initiation legal be delimited?

Easily. Physical force is not that difficult to understand. It involves the use of physical objects like guns or fists. Why would it be difficult to delimit acts of physical force from abstract ideas?

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I'm not saying that they would imprison people who campaign for constitution changes, I'm saying that they would imprison people who make plans to initiate force after they have hopefully changed the law.
But, if someone wants to change the law, it must be because they want the new law to be implemented. Assuming that this constitutional change would violate rights, it sounds like you're saying that advocating it should be illegal.

A good constitution would make the concept of rights very clear. Probably, it would make it extremely difficult to change: i.e. a core part of the constitution that cannot be changed by regular amendments, and which cannot be contradicted by any future amendments. Of course, if an overwhelming number of citizens become ideologically convinced that something in the constitution is wrong, they might simply abandon the constitution, in practice or in law; but, that's a different issue.

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A rational society would rightfully outlaw the propagation of speech which is a threat to the Constitutional principles of that society.

An Objectivist society would outlaw political speech espousing socialism, just as it would outlaw political speech espousing the killing and eating of 49% of the population by the majority 51%. Free speech rights are not absolute, for the reason that some speech constitutes the initiation of force against individuals. (Yelling fire, and inciting riots are two easy examples)

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A rational society would rightfully outlaw the propagation of speech which is a threat to the Constitutional principles of that society.

An Objectivist society would outlaw political speech espousing socialism, just as it would outlaw political speech espousing the killing and eating of 49% of the population by the majority 51%. Free speech rights are not absolute, for the reason that some speech constitutes the initiation of force against individuals. (Yelling fire, and inciting riots are two easy examples)

That is the exact opposite of the Objectivist view of political speech. Here's the actual Objectivist position:

The communists and the Nazis are merely two variants of the same evil notion: collectivism. But both should be free to speak—evil ideas are dangerous only by default of men advocating better ideas. The Objectivist Calendar, June 1978

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That is the exact opposite of the Objectivist view of political speech. Here's the actual Objectivist position:

The communists and the Nazis are merely two variants of the same evil notion: collectivism. But both should be free to speak—evil ideas are dangerous only by default of men advocating better ideas. The Objectivist Calendar, June 1978

Argument from authority.

There is a contradiction here. Rand required the oath for entry into Galt's Gulch for a reason that should be obvious to the simplest of minds. What do you think would have been the penalty for apostasy in Galt's Gulch? Think about that, in the context of the story, and imagine what options the Gulchers would have had in such a case.

A nation that allows any sort of political expression clearly does not require such an oath. A moment's consideration, using Galt's Gulch as analogy for a free state, leads to the conclusion that such a nation cannot survive in freedom for more than a few generations.

Freedom and rights do not include the right to infringe on others' rights. Does freedom of speech allow one to advocate violation of others' rights?

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A rational society would rightfully outlaw the propagation of speech which is a threat to the Constitutional principles of that society.

An Objectivist society would outlaw political speech espousing socialism, just as it would outlaw political speech espousing the killing and eating of 49% of the population by the majority 51%. Free speech rights are not absolute, for the reason that some speech constitutes the initiation of force against individuals. (Yelling fire, and inciting riots are two easy examples)

No, again, this is a misconception of "the right to free speech." Absolutely no "free speech" is the initiation of force, in the same way that no portion of "free trade" is theft or "free immigration" is trespass. Free speech rights are absolute and contextual. The yelling fire example has been rebutted countless times, it is not a limitation of some vague, out-of-context "freedom of speech," but of aggressive action violating the rights of paying patrons and the theater owner.

And omg: Galt's Gult was explicitly not any kind of nation or society, but private property. And ffs, quoting someone is not necessarily an argument from authority.

Edited by 2046
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Anyways, the argument presented in the OP strikes me as this: A murder, A, announces his intention to slaughter an innocent random person, B, and cries that B is “restricting A's political expression” or “being totalitarian” when B says “Umm no” and rises up to prevent A from carrying this through.

Of course you have a right to be a socialist under laissez-faire capitalism, you even have a right to act on your ideas. But contrary to the statements in the OP, socialists have no right to murder millions of people and then complain about “totalitarianism” when their intended victims rise up and put them in their place.

There can be no place for socialists, communists, democrats, etc. in a civilized society based on the rule of law and individual rights, they will have to be physically removed. (And I mean by the rest of society choosing not to deal with them or rent to them.)

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An Objectivist society would outlaw political speech espousing socialism, just as it would outlaw political speech espousing the killing and eating of 49% of the population by the majority 51%. Free speech rights are not absolute, for the reason that some speech constitutes the initiation of force against individuals. (Yelling fire, and inciting riots are two easy examples)

This is very, very wrong. A state based on Objectivist principles would allow any speech which does not pose an immediate physical threat to anyone. This is why yelling fire in a crowded theater and inciting riots would not be allowed, but advocating for the long-term implementation of a right-violating government would be allowed. Your position is not Objectivism.

Freedom and rights do not include the right to infringe on others' rights. Does freedom of speech allow one to advocate violation of others' rights?

Yes. Most adamantly yes. It is simply incompatible with Objectivist rights theory to claim that one does not have the right to advocate for communism or socialism. What you are supporting is totalitarianism, and is certainly not Objectivism.

Also, Galt's Gulch is not an "analogy of a free state." It could not be an analogy for a free state. It was a voluntary community of like-minded people living together. A state, by definition, must encompass everyone within a geographical area, regardless of their political views. Such an entity must respect freedom of speech if it is to be a proper state which respects the rights of its citizens.

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Ryan1985, this is the last time I am going to ask you. Why do you keep posting things like this? It has to be for trolling purposes and nothing else. You know why? Because you are constantly coming into Objectivist chat with these ridiculous positions that are not supported in any way by Objectivist literature, and you expect people to spoon feed you all of the answers instead of finding out for yourself. It's not hard, there is tons of content online, there are the books, some of which you purportedly own. I ask, why waste our time with these things when, if you spent a little less time posting these questions that require a certain level of understanding of Objectivism (i.e. a basic understanding of it) and a little more time reading, maybe you would stop misinterpreting what Objectivism is about and maybe post less of these types of questions. You know better, and I know that you do. So stop it.

These questions:

" My essential question is whether Objectivists really believe that taxation is theft? Or would they want to suppress socialist political views which is heading towards Totalitarianism?"
are elaborated on extensively in the most basic non-fiction works of Ayn Rand. Both your questions and your conclusions show that either A) You know better and want to troll or B,) You don't know and you have no real desire to know.

As I seem to understand it, you have Tara Smith's book but you don't have Virtue of Selfishness or Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal? Please clarify.

You are abusing the kindness, at the very least, of the people in chat, and it is wearing thin very quickly. If you have real intellectual interest in Objectivism, than you need to make that evident, thus far you have not. If you have no such interest, please leave so that we can focus on answering questions by people that really want to put in the time and effort to understand. I have very rarely seen you ask questions about Objectivism that were not part of an inquiry as to how it is wrong or faulty. Other times you have suggested Ayn Rand did not give you sufficient reason for something when she most certainly has and you decided not to read it, or had decided to misrepresent the totality of her views on the matter. In essence I am stating that the way people legitimately interested in Objectivism as a set of ideas, willing to, legitimately and earnestly find out about it so that they can compare it to their current views, and of the type of people that this website is here to serve, you have done a very poor job of presenting yourself as one of those kinds of people.

FYI the reason I posted this in here rather than in private is because I want the people posting in here that do not hang out in the chatroom to be aware. If the mods wish to eliminate this post that is fine and I understand, but it needed to be said.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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An Objectivist society would outlaw political speech espousing socialism, just as it would outlaw political speech espousing the killing and eating of 49% of the population by the majority 51%. Free speech rights are not absolute, for the reason that some speech constitutes the initiation of force against individuals. (Yelling fire, and inciting riots are two easy examples)

There is nothing - legally speaking - wrong with espousing views that are ultimately dangerous. What matters is if the person has an intention to act upon those ideas in a physical and material way. For instance, writing about the socialist utopia and how to achieve it is perfectly acceptable since there is not necessarily action involved. Now if the person wrote the book and in addition began to acquire weapons in order to start their revolution, that would be sufficient reason to arrest the person because of a very clear and immediate threat along with an intent to violate rights. Inciting riots is the exact same sort of thing. Yelling fire or inciting riots are similar cases to the revolution-starting author in the sense there is an intent to incite action that is likely to cause harm. "Political speech espousing socialism" is plain broad, since that could range from just saying how it'd be nice if wealth was better distributed, to calling for the immediate overthrow of the government with guns and all.

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For instance, writing about the socialist utopia and how to achieve it is perfectly acceptable since there is not necessarily action involved. Now if the person wrote the book and in addition began to acquire weapons in order to start their revolution, that would be sufficient reason to arrest the person because of a very clear and immediate threat along with an intent to violate rights.

By logical extension to the above, would it be illegal for socialist writers and other socialist sympathisers to own handguns in an Objectivist society?

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By logical extension to the above, would it be illegal for socialist writers and other socialist sympathisers to own handguns in an Objectivist society?

Why would Objectivism do such a thing. Ayn Rand has made it extremely clear that to do so would not be an example of an Objectivist society.

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Reference?

sNerd, are you saying it would be illegal for socialist writers and other socialist sympathisers to own handguns in an Objectivist society? Or simply that Rand has not clarified this and therefore no reference exists?

I don't have a reference, I just assumed based on what I know of Rand. I would love to be wrong as this would make sense of some of the issues in this thread for me.

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sNerd, are you saying it would be illegal for socialist writers and other socialist sympathisers to own handguns in an Objectivist society? Or simply that Rand has not clarified this and therefore no reference exists?

I don't have a reference, I just assumed based on what I know of Rand. I would love to be wrong as this would make sense of some of the issues in this thread for me.

From the exchange between CS and you, it sounded like you were referring to some specific Rand reference. I'm a bit wary of Rand references until I understand the context from which they are drawn. That's why I asked for a reference.

Objectivism does not advocate waiting for someone to fire the first shot before one defends oneself. The right to free expression does not allow one to plan bank-robberies or bloody revolutions. On the other hand, if someone reads John Rawls, and advocates that the role of government should be expanded to include wealth redistribution, that does not disqualify this person from owning a hand-gun.

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Argument from authority.

There is a contradiction here. Rand required the oath for entry into Galt's Gulch for a reason that should be obvious to the simplest of minds. What do you think would have been the penalty for apostasy in Galt's Gulch? Think about that, in the context of the story, and imagine what options the Gulchers would have had in such a case.

A nation that allows any sort of political expression clearly does not require such an oath. A moment's consideration, using Galt's Gulch as analogy for a free state, leads to the conclusion that such a nation cannot survive in freedom for more than a few generations.

Freedom and rights do not include the right to infringe on others' rights. Does freedom of speech allow one to advocate violation of others' rights?

Your use of Galt's Gulch places the context in a specific place. It is private property. Thus, sure, there is an authority: the owner. One's opportunities on private property are subject to what the owner desires. So, in this context, one does not have the right of speech, association, and so on. Similarly, you cannot go to Walgreens and claim your rights. It's not your property.

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Is OP's implication that any government philosophy other than, say socialism, is contradictory?

That force and values are necessarily tied in the social context, and to separate them is to produce a contradiction?

By Objectivism, morality is derived from the process man uses to obtain his values: reason. Government supports man's values by enabling the free exercise of that process. Therefore it regulates the use of force to its proper moral purpose of retaliation (further nuances being irrelevant to the topic).

Force is an issue that doesn't have a moral relationship to value outcome. You could use force to obtain a value, but this is not a rational long-term proposal, nor a moral 'strategy' by Objectivism. The question of the moral use of force pertains to the morality of the process used to obtain value. Process is key here, because of its hierarchical precedence to the value it produces.

So OP's point is moot. Campaigning for pro-terrorism does not require detailed terrorist plans. Detailed terrorist plans, the standard I assume being that they are detailed enough for the actual carrying out of an attack, these plans constitute a threat which is a direct initiation of force. So OP's logic is flawed. But I think he glazes over this fact because he's trying to connect the moral use of force directly to value. I.e.: Law stops terrorism, guy supports terrorism, ergo guy contravenes moral object of law.

The law opposes the process of terrorism. Therefore, one can advocate for the value of terrorism, without violating the law.

If your metaphysics is anti-reason, your ethics is conscious-state, and your social policy is altruism, then your politics equates law with values. It's all... connected...

Oops, except values require some, I don't know, thing, in reality to exist.....

Actually, Mr. OP, if you aren't a troll, please forgive the snark. Nevertheless, think about what I'm trying to say.

Edited by ZSorenson
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I am quite aware of that. But I think it's a logical extension of what Eioul said.

Eiuol said that a person may not acquire weapons to start a revolution. From that, it does not follow that the same person may not own a handgun.

No rule of Logic would cause you to make such an obviously invalid leap. So what did?

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