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Debating First Principles: Demos vs. Ayn Rand

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2046
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So you probably know about the upcoming ARI and Demos event in New York, the “First Principles” debate, to be moderated by NPR on March 10.

You can go to the NY NPR's website and comment, if you want to support Yaron and/or if you have questions for his opponent. (They both posted introductions outlining their views, and they say they want our feedback.)

http://www.wnyc.org/articles/its-free-country/2011/mar/02/debating-first-principles-proper-role-government/

You can also go and answer a 20 question poll on what you think the proper role of government is.

http://www.wnyc.org/articles/its-free-country/2011/feb/28/role-government-poll/

It's a ridiculous poll, with way more identifying as “liberal or progressive,” so we need more Objectivist poll-takers. (And it lumps together not only Objectivism and libertarianism, but conservatism as the only other option. Be sure to let them know about that too.)

Edited by brian0918
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If you want to watch go join in on FB you dont even need an account.

Just a link for convenience:

http://www.facebook.com/aynrandcenter?sk=app_142371818162

this is fine too:

http://www.wnyc.org/articles/its-free-country/2011/mar/02/debating-first-principles-proper-role-government/

Edited by Eiuol
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Thank you, both, for posting this. I don't why it took me so long to realize this, but it suddenly hit me while listening to this "generic democrat" that liberals/progressives/socialists/whateveryouwannacallem are very eager to use force on their own country-people, yet strangely reluctant to use force on anyone else. Using nearly the same words, this guy argues that it's okay for a democracy to use force to get the "set of things we all want in our society," and that it's not okay for a democracy to use force to get things we all want in our society within six minutes.

I get so irritated listening to these people, and particularly frustrated that rarely, if ever, are single contradictions ever hammered on. I would rather listen to a debate where just one, single, first-principle is clearly and fully debated. Perhaps then guys like this "generic democrat," and those mindless drones applauding in the audience, can get a clearer picture of how contradictory and hypocritical their positions are.

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  • 3 weeks later...

it suddenly hit me while listening to this "generic democrat" that liberals/progressives/socialists/whateveryouwannacallem are very eager to use force on their own country-people, yet strangely reluctant to use force on anyone else.

I'm curious about this too and I suppose that uncovering the hidden truth to this seeming contradiction can be reached by comparing premises and contexts. The most obvious difference is that an enemy nation can put up some degree of resistance while citizens are largely at the mercy of their government's monopoly on force.

Rank cowardice and indifference to evil are involved in this sort of thinking.

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Or perhaps it is because in many cases the socialists actually sympathize with that foreign government somewhat. It was certainly a rare sight during the cold war to see a leftist who was in favor of overturning a socialist dictatorship, though they had no problem with going after non-socialist ones; indeed they would condemn the US government for alliances with same (against communism).

The one exception to this is much more recent: A lot of lefties sympathize with Tibet against Red China. (Am I still allowed to call it "Red" China?) Of course now with the USSR gone, the hard left has gone over to simply sympathizing with any government opposed to the United States. Libya got on their shit list by no longer being a problem to the US back in the mid '00s; notice how we went after Mubarak, and are now going after Gaddhafi but not Assad.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito
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Those are good points above, but I always viewed it as a direct and logical extension of altruism. Obviously, using force on another country is seen as selfish, especially in self-defense. Even if it is imperialistic invasion (i.e. not self-defense), most of the socialist types implicitly view the initiation of force as in your self-interest, so it is a matter of consistency to them. Another is similar to the point Steve makes, but not only that they agree with the collectivist ideology of another country, but that they sympathize with the other country because the United States is wealthy and strong, while the enemy country is typically (in modern cases in which the antiwar left applies) weaker and poorer.

We always hear the “proportionality” argument, like “How dare Israel (or the US) respond with disproportionate force? Don't you know Palestine or Iraq or whatever can barely defend themselves? I bet the US wouldn't invade if (in other words, should only be allowed to invade if) they had all the same kind of technology we did.”

Ultimately altruism also requires sacrifice of your convictions and conclusions, so there is also the element of “How can we be sure our way is better than theirs? Who are we to know if we are in the right? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.” etc.

But there are also the older Wilsonians and their modern cousins, the neoconservatives, don't give in to this contradiction about initiating force being in your self-interest, but agree on the basic point that using force for self-defense is selfish. So they want to invade and go to war only if we don't stand to gain anything from it, and so are glad to use force externally as well as internally for altruistic ends. C Bradley Thompson touches upon this, also in Elan Journo's “Winning the Unwinnable War.”

Edited by 2046
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I think Miles used the same trick on Yaron over and over.

Yaron would say "I want X, Y, Z good things."

Then Miles replies "I want X, Y, X for everybody."

Yaron was arguing about what will make a bigger pie and Miles was arguing about how to cut it up. Like a typical left winger he just assumes the pie will always be there, and the only question is how to divide it. But as we all know, economic pies are made of reason, and when the cutting knife approaches they shrink.

But I totally admire Yaron for doing these kind of debates, I would stutter and forget my points in such a pressure cooker.

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The next debate is tomorrow:

"...part two, slated for April 7th, explores: Freedom: For Whom and From What?"

Don't forget to leave intelligent comments on the site:

http://www.wnyc.org/articles/its-free-country/2011/apr/01/debating-first-principles-freedom-vs-freedom/

So is HB debating some commie hack this time or what?

Edited by 2046
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