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Why call people of differen't philiospies evil?

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Koren
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My question for the forum is: Do you think you’re over doing it when you call people of another political philosophy evil?

The reason I’m asking is because whenever I hear the liberal side mock Objectivism I don’t hear them saying “Those evil Capitalist!” For the most part their just showing Objectivists saying crazy things. It kind of sucks because I agree with what I’m hearing from Objectivism right up until it starts talking about morality. I do not think Liberal or Socialist means Evil Nazi and I’m having trouble seeing how you make the connection.

I’ll also tell you how this came up and why I’m posing here. I listen to two Podcasts primarily; The Atheist Experience(AE) [Which is done by more Liberal Minded people] and Rational Public Radio (RPR)[which is politics from an Objectivist standpoint].

I love RPR, it’s entertaining and I agree with them on matters of Capitalism, but when they start calling Liberals Nazi’s I kind of cringe because to me it makes them sound stupid. As far as I’m concerned morally the evil people are the literal Rapists, Murderers, Pedophiles etc and I don’t agree with putting someone I disagree with politically down on that level.

A while back AE; which is usually just about Atheism Vs Believers did an entire show on why their disagreements with Objectivism. Right off the bat they started with a letter sent to them by an Objectivist telling them they should read Atlas Shrugged, incorporate Ayn Rands idea’s onto the show and simplify them so the lowly commoner can understand it. One of the hosts jokingly stated ‘He just insulted all of you.’ I actually agree that the one who wrote the letter came off as arrogant, funny and weird, since my last encounter with Objectivism was reading Terry Goodkind’s novel; the guy came off just as arrogant, funny and weird.

Anyway the show went on reading a few letters from Objectivists then tackled Ayn Rand’s philosophy. We all [them included] agree with the obvious ones; Existance exists, A is A; they call them them “No duh” assertions and assume Ayn Rand did this do disassociate with the believes. They start to have misgivings when Ayn Rand speaks about how the universe is supposed to work ‘Selfishness Vs Altruism.’ I’ll post all my links at the end as it isn’t the point of the post.

During the show they bring up two things from the Novel I want to ask about here: (1) Ellsworth Toohey and (2) The train wreck. Their opinion of Rands opinion is that an evil person has to be Altruistic and that Altruism is the source for all evil in the world; I disagree with that statement because Evil can come in both Altruism and Selfishness; a Rape isn’t altruistic is it? The second part I take issue with is the way the train wreck was written, I agree with the hosts that Rand saying “This is why he deserved to die and this is why she deserved to die” is wrong.

So now I’m stuck in a position where I agree with both you guys and the ‘Evil/Nazi/Pedophile/Rapist/Communist Liberals as your forum, RPR, Terry Goodkind and Ayn Rand seem to be labelling them. I am not of a mindset where I think a Liberal or even a Socialist deserves to be in the same boat I place a serial killer or a rapist. So I end up laughing and thinking ‘Objectivists don’t know what Morality is! Are they even sure what a Nazi is?’ So my real question is: Should I take you seriously? When RPR calls union members Nazi’s should I take them seriously?

The Atheist Experience on Objectivism:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8584428047418862218#

Rational Public Radio:

http://www.rationalpublicradio.com/rational-public-radio-podcast/

Edited by Koren
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First thing is that Objectivism is supposed to be built on pure logic - if you agree that A is A, existence exists, reason is absolute, then all the other stuff about Altruism etc eventually follows.

Second thing is that altruism is an evil philosophy/system, but that's not to say everyone who practices it is evil. Certainly not as evil as a serial killer or anything like that. But the broader point is that altruism and collectivism have caused far greater devastation in the world than serial killers or rapists or paedophiles ever will. It is pertinent to point out when collective attitudes and actions have parallels to say Nazi Germany, because that's how we avoid such horrors in the future. The Nazis didn't succeed because of some determined murderers ganging together, they succeeded because their collective/nationalistic/altruistic politics gained widespread support among ordinary people.

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When RPR calls union members Nazi’s should I take them seriously?

I can't speak for RPR since I am unfamiliar with them but if they are using the word literally, they're not that far off track. Remember that Nazi's were National Socialists. The word has sort of become a pejorative because of the eventual mass graves, but the meaning and selling points of the party were essentially about government planning. Most imagine Hitlers speeches to be angry rantings about killing Jews. However, if you listen to his speeches with subtitles you'll find that they are usually about Germany using central planning to better manage their resources or uplifting the war war effort or some such. Most that I have watched(like the one that I linked) seem like they could easily be given by most of our current politicians without anyone raising an eyebrow. Just insert minor tweaks to make it more current. Blame our limited resources on climate change, etc.

The breakdown in understanding comes from the objectivist view that socialism always ends with mass graves, conflicting with the view that mass graves were the intended purpose. When resources get tight, as they always do under socialism, bad things start to "have" to happen; people starve to death, scapegoats are found, panels decide what health services a person is allowed to receive. Without the fluid demand/supply balance that capitalism provides, serious shortages are inevitable and than harm is caused, leaving the mass of semi-guilty people argueing against each other with republicans angry that welfare mom's get free money while demanding their social security checks and other such hypocrisy as the norm.

And that's the root of the train wreck, allegorically. In capitalism, each individual is responsible for himself in that he ultimately bares the weight of his mistakes. Under socialism, where no one is clearly responsible, we all bare the collective weight of all of our mistakes. Right now, for example we are responsible for trillions of dollars to bail out banks, bomb nations, rebuild nations we bombed, providing the social security ponzi scheme to an upside down triangle of citizens, and what not. That elimination of responsibility creates, unsurprisingly, more irresponsible people who end up having a hand in their own destruction.

As to the actual passage in the book it points to the view that they are, eventually, responsible for their misdeeds and are ultimately going to pay the price for them. It is not some 'hand of god' labeling them as evil and deserving of death. It is the simple fact that all actions have consequences and they each did their little part to cause the wreck to happen and now have to pay for it.

That is the really relevant misunderstanding that many share. In Objectivism, evil is that which is anti-life. As such, it does not have to be intentional. Hitler, and nearly every other "evil" person in history justified their actions to themselves. Those who don't tend to be suffering from psychosis so viewing them as somehow more evil than someone who "inadvertently" causes more suffering is neither here nor there. Ultimately, the label is irrelevant and being evil means that you will probably suffer bad consequences and being good means that you will usually enjoy pleasant consequences.

Socialism and any other mercy based system muddies those waters of justice and increases the time lapse of action and consequence which makes right action more difficult to learn. Then, bad consequences, therefore...antilife...evil.

Personally I try to avoid using those terms outside of objectivist circles, as do I "selfishness" in the objectivist sense because they end up taking too much time to explain and side-rail conversations.

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Union members aren't Nazis necessarily, and not all leftists are communists, nor are they all morally equivalent. But what Rand understood and her philosophic thought upheld were that ideas are practical. A person's ideas shape his or her actions, and in turn shape the culture and affect the course of the nation. Ideas and values have consequences.

An example Rand gave once was that if I went up to you, lined up and itemized every person, object, and value you cared for, then proceeded to tell you “I intend to smash every single one of them and leave you crawling in the dirt,” you would probably become outraged.

If you understand that supporting collectivism in any form means sacrificing some men for the sake of others, no matter what their reason, then you might start to understand why someone who you indent to be sacrificed might see you as evil. The motives don't change the nature of what is “good” or “bad” about using physical force against another person. You can't argue that it's okay to enslave someone “for a good reason” or violate their rights “only a little bit.” Once you do, you have conceded the point that men no longer have inalienable rights.

No, liberals and conservatives are not Nazis and communists, but nobody said they were exactly equal to them in terms of immorality. They are the mushy moral cowards that pave the way to the more consistent advocates of statism. The Nazis, or the communists, or fascist Italy and Japan, or Islamists, or what have you didn't happen in a vacuum, or come out of nowhere and for no reason. We can look at these situations, observe and use logic to see how one thing lead to, and must necessarily lead to the next. The Russian Bolsheviks were all of 18 people when they began. The Nazi party started out as 7 people who were laughed at. Do you think they took power all by themselves? Enslaved these countres of millions by brute force? Or do you think ideas, specifically moral ideas, held by the masses of people may have had anything to do with it? The rise of Nazism and Bolshevism was not some random historical accident or some kind of historical predestination, it was the necessary outcome of certain trends. You can point to the modern democratic mushy socialists on the one hand, then point over to those bloody socialists on the other hand and say “This will lead to that.”

When two principles clash, the most consistent of them wins. Most people interested in mainstream politics do not and would not advocate anything on the lines of a Nazi dictatorship, and our point isn't that they are. Our point is that they, who claim to hate the actions of the Nazis and their brethren, are working for ideals that will lead straight to the same kind of tyranny. In order to achieve their goals, they must create power over men. Inalienable individual rights are an obstacle to this. When you give up inalienable rights to statists and try to argue for some kind of pragmatic “middle of the road,” you have no moral ground to stand on. As Rand explains: If you enter a race, saying: "I only intend to run the first ten yards," the man who says: "I'll run to the finish line," is going to beat you. When you say: "I only want to violate human rights just a tiny little bit," the Communist or Fascist who says "I'm going to destroy all human rights" will beat you and win. You've opened the way for him.

So why call another philosophy evil? Philosophy is hierarchical. Every theory of politics is based on a theory of ethics. No one's politics are exempt from the ethical foundation that informs it, and so no one's politics is beyond ethical criticism. Indeed, such criticism is necessary if you intend to get anywhere. So you might as well be asking "Why call certain people's moral views evil?" which means "Why call evil, evil?" Such a question would be absurd, unless you just happened to agree that some kind of moderate collectivism is good. So the question is really not about why we're "calling someting evil," the question is about what is evil? If ethics is a rational discipline, then you should investigate what is the nature of evil in a rational theory of ethics, then ask yourself why you support political philosophies that put this into action.

No amount of socialism and freedom can be combined, and those that try are advocating evil to any given lesser or greater extent. If you are someone who is trying to combat this, should we say: “Well, there's nothing wrong with what you are supporting. (And maybe it might be a nice ideal.) There's nothing immoral about it. But it's just impractical, and so we support some watered down capitalism and semi-freedom instead.” Do you expect someone advocating that to get anywhere?

Edited by 2046
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Their opinion of Rands opinion is that an evil person has to be Altruistic and that Altruism is the source for all evil in the world; I disagree with that statement because Evil can come in both Altruism and Selfishness; a Rape isn’t altruistic is it?

Ayn Rand tried to discover a reality-basis for the concept of morality. What she found was surprising. She discovered that morality does not exist between you and others (as is traditionally thought) but between your actions and you (for proof of this see her writings).

So logically, if morality is "all about" the relationship between your actions and you, then altruism, which in it's purest form is directing all your actions away from yourself, must almost be the definition of evil, right?

The only tiny sliver of morality that has anything to do with other people is the non-initiation of force rule. That is where Libertarians differ from Objectivists: NIF is everything to them. They have accepted the Christian premise that ethics is all about the relationship between you and others, but say that relationship is NIF. NIF is almost a sidenote in Objectivist ethics, because other people are a side note. (But it is very important in Objectivist politics which as a field is all about others anyway.)

Edit: Remember Galt's Oath: "I swear by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Another (less inspiring) way of writing this is "I swear by my choice at the fundamental alternative, that I will not be altruistic and will obey NIF." See she separates altruism from NIF and puts altruism first.

Edited by philosopher
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Their opinion of Rands opinion is that an evil person has to be Altruistic and that Altruism is the source for all evil in the world; I disagree with that statement because Evil can come in both Altruism and Selfishness; a Rape isn’t altruistic is it?

You are right. A rape is not an act of altruism. It is an act of hedonism. Altruism and hedonism are two sides of a coin called irrationality. Evil, ultimately, comes from the irrational, from evasion, from negation of reality.

Ayn Rand condemned hedonism, but she didn't spend so much time and effort doing it for one simple reason: Hedonism was not the main enemy, at least in her time. Hedonism had been attacked by ancient and modern philosophers so well, that there were few pro-Hedonists in the intellectual elite of her world.

Altruism, in the other hand, was bringing entire nations to disaster through Fascism or Comunism. Furthermore, it was weakening freedom in the USA. Therefore, Ayn Rand linked altruism with evil almost as a shorthand, as a connection with immediate, practical implications.

Sometimes I wonder whether Ayn Rand's battle against altruism in the Ethics arena made her miss the importance of fighting Hedonism more firmly. It is becoming more and more an enemy of reason in our world. As technology progresses, masses of people get access to pleasurable things so easily WITHOUT gaining them, without obtaining them through productive work and reasoning, that pleasure is becoming the standard of value for millions. The unskilled worker of our times can enjoy an incredible amount of things that an unskilled worker 100 years ago could not. The modern worker is not necessarily more virtuous than his counterpart of 1911. He is just luckier. He piggybacks on the accumulative success of the best men. So far so good, but then the temptation is to stop realizing how is wealth generated, and to stop realizing that pleasure is a reward, not an end.

Survival and "life qua man" were in the past more connected than now.

In the future, the genius of few men will be enough to keep millions of overfed people playing videogames of virtual reality for ages at an insignificant price. Or maybe millions will be almost permanently under the effect of "marvelous" drugs that will keep them in an excited mood that they will interpret as "happiness".

My message is: Do not understimate the threat of Hedonism. The ultimate enemy is not altruism itself, but irrationality.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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