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There is a tremendous difference between saying that a man is driven by his own ideas and one man can be driven by the ideas of another arbitrary person. Claiming that men are driven by the ideas of society falls somewhere in between: people tend to follow the ideas of the majority which gives history a great intertia that is occassionly, but not often, overcome.

I don't think the historical record is so straightforward as that nor that the general socialistic tendency can be adequately represented as collectivism.

I don't think that man can be driven by the ideas of another "arbitrary" person. Its much more complicated that majority rule. Because people often do not sit around thinking about technical subjects that don't involve their career, intellectuals and philosophers are just another part of the division of labor in a society. This is how philosophers can be seen as driving forces of history, they were given the responsibility of explaining the world by their social groups.

I don't think that history has moved in a literal straight line towards freedom. Obviously there are set backs, and sometimes great leaps forward. However when I look at point A and point B I see improvement.

What is the socialistic tendency other than collectivism? Socialism as an ideology is pretty new, so what are you afriad of in people? The inability to change for the better?

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As to "going Galt", the earlier point of seeing the valley being a resort, a place to withdraw from "getting one's hands dirty", I find this forum to be a place to one can go and interface with like-m

Establishing context, in other words? If so, I would put game theory in there, because its level of specificity may be too much for philosophical inquiry. The topic is specialized enough that while it

Where did I say "sit down and shut up?" But, yes, I am questioning the utility of talking. To whatever extent they do, yes, but my point is that the usual arguments for free markets

I don't think that man can be driven by the ideas of another "arbitrary" person. Its much more complicated that majority rule. Because people often do not sit around thinking about technical subjects that don't involve their career, intellectuals and philosophers are just another part of the division of labor in a society. This is how philosophers can be seen as driving forces of history, they were given the responsibility of explaining the world by their social groups.

Again, I think philosophy and philsophers (using the terms very loosly here) are overrated here but even so, keep in mind that each social group will form around its own preferred ideas. Socialists are influeneced most by socialist philsophers. That's one problem with relying upon philosophy as a tool for change. And what causes one philosophy or another to gain popularity in a social group? Being right is hardly a significant qualifier.

I don't think that history has moved in a literal straight line towards freedom. Obviously there are set backs, and sometimes great leaps forward. However when I look at point A and point B I see improvement.

This is certainly a worthwhile questions that would depend greatly upon establishing measurement. I would certainly agree that mankind has progressed in terms of knowledge and standard of living. There are also some obvious moral measures that have improved, such as a lower rate of killing, but does that imply an overall improvement? More to the point, the single simplest measure to the contrary, at least as far as those here are concerned, is the share of the economy directed by government (i.e. taxes and spending as a share of GDP). Additionally, regulation, which is much harder to measure, has almost certainly increased over the last couple hundred years.

What is the socialistic tendency other than collectivism? Socialism as an ideology is pretty new, so what are you afriad of in people? The inability to change for the better?

People are mortal. They may well learn something over a lifetime but in order for society to change for the better any lessons must be transmitted across the generations because each new generation experiences life anew. Lessons learned are forgotten, etc.

The term "socialism" is certainly new but the idea of taking what your neighbor has is as old as humanity. Collectivism (and here we mean forced) is simply one means to that ancient end and even that is broader than what we might call the socialist movement.

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"We can safely say that if you are dead you are not free. You lack the capacity to make choices. Similarly, if I lop off your arm you are no longer free to waive it. I have robbed you of that choice. If I shackle you, you are not free to move about."

To be free to do something one must be capable of it, yes. One cannot be deprived of a freedom to do/have/be something which was never a possibility.

"And if you can think freely you can make choices among the options before you. Now I also noted that the actions of others will affect the value of your choices. If, for example, someone threatens to kill you if you scratch your chin then, to the extent that you believe him, the value of scratching your chin is diminished. But that's a very submissive view because, to the extent that you would otherwise value scratching your chin, killing this fellow, or otherwise preventing him from carrying out his threat, has now become a valueable choice."

I'm having a hard time deciding where the best place to start addressing this is. On the one hand, there's a very simple response about you being mistaken in what you think we would advocate doing under situations where one is met with force initiated by somebody else. On the other hand, I can see this leading quickly to a much bigger topic which could easily merit a whole new thread of its own.

The simple response is that if there are available ways to stop somebody from using force on you then, depending on various factors like likelihood of success and cost versus benefit of resisting versus complying, we often would indeed advocate resistance rather than compliance.

The more extensive issue is why we don't see somebody threatening to shoot you if you don't hand over cash the same way we see a thunder storm though both are obstacles one may have to work around. Those two things are not just two of the same game pieces to us. The storm is an example of what we often refer to as a metaphysical fact whereas the stick up is a man-made fact. Metaphysical facts are inevitable things of the "if A then B" variety. If it gets to under 32 degrees F (at sea level, pure water and such) then water will freeze. That's just how it is. As long as those are the variables involved that will be the result, there's no choice or alternative involved. That's why metaphysical facts like this are things to just be accepted and worked around like the chess piece thing. Going back to the above, that's why metaphysical facts can't be said to take away freedoms like mand-made ones can because there never was the option for things to be otherwise anyway, they were always impossible. On the other hand, somebody trying to rob you was not an inevitable result of all the variables involved in that situation. The robber had a choice, he could have chosen to do otherwise. That it could be otherwise is why we don't just accept all man-made facts like robbery the same way we do metaphysical ones like the thunderstorm. Metaphysical facts you just have to accept and work around, play your chess game so to speak, however, man-made facts like robbery are like somebody's cat coming up and stealing one of your pieces and running off - that isn't something that is just built into the rules of how things work, it's got a negative impact on your game and you can decide that klepto cats are not allowed in the room where you are playing chess. That's capitalism basically, banning the klepto cat from interfearing with your game. Might the cat/robber (wait, it should be a cat burgaler! :3 Ohohoho!) still get in anyway sometimes if you aren't careful enough? Yes, but you can make the problem much smaller by taking preventative measures. (Yes, I know sticking with robbery that there are more ways to try to prevent it, but that is aside from the point of the analogy which was just to try to give a clearer picture of what I was saying about two types of facts and capitalism.)

Now, not all man-made facts am I saying we can and should resort to government/force to take care of, not even all the ones we believe (correctly or not) are giving suboptimal results for our life, it's just that the metaphysical facts aren't even open to any kind of banning. We only belong using government to ban man-made facts that involve the initiation of force. What people choose to do with their own lives is their own business and what we do with ours is our business, neither of us can rightly compel each other to do (or do with their own stuff) what we want. This gets to why another person resorting to force in dealings with other people is something we say is taking our freedom away or making us act contrary to our nature and that sort of thing even when we haven't been completely reduced to just one option available to us. This is also where it starts getting into a wider topic about stuff like rights, the nature of humans, egoism, etc. I'm going to leave this here for some reference: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/physical_force.html I'm just not feeling up to reinventing those huge wheels at the moment. If you've got some more specific questions you still think need answering, I'll come back to try to answer those later. Specific questions are a much smaller job than just setting out to write up everything on a topic and hoping to cover any possible questions. More relevant stuff is linked at the bottom of that page too, by the way.

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my point is all the more relevant with your Randian defintion of manhood...

The issue is not one of being masculine for those of us who want to be free to pursue values. We do not think our “manhood” is being removed.

That said, you seemed not only to have avoided my point (which you deride as a "detour")…

No. I consider the idea of men becoming criminals to act as man qua man to be irrelevant at best or the sign of a malevolent premise at worse. Since I don’t want to derail the thread on examining the virtues of being a criminal I discarded it as unessential to your point. I was trying to key Red 5 on target.

do you believe that you are being prevented from living as man qua man? (Never mind whether the socialists are living life as man qua man.)

We are not a totalitarian society at this time so I can obviously still act to live, that is a straw man and not the point (and I assume you would agree since you also disparaged the system where that would be true).

I am being restricted but not prevented. Today’s mixed economy can be summed up in terms of this argument as those who act as man qua man plus more to sustain themselves and those who act as man qua man minus the base requirements to sustain themselves since the first party is working to sustain them too. Plus you have those who don’t work as man qua man at all and would perish without those who do. Basically, you have producers, moochers, and looters.

While we would all undoubtedly appreciate if socialists would convert to capitalism and lear to live as man qua man, I am not talking to them. I'm' talking to you.

I did answer it. But this was my way of pointing out you should instead ask those who engage in behavior contrary to their nature since that is the money question. Asking a capitalist why he wants to be free to thrive should be self explanatory.

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We are not a totalitarian society at this time so I can obviously still act to live, that is a straw man and not the point (and I assume you would agree since you also disparaged the system where that would be true).

I contend that even those living in a totalitarian society are free. And it's a very worthwhile, and indeed to the point, to consider what one would do if one were living under a totalitarian society. If I show you how to be free there then you can be free under anything less.

I am being restricted but not prevented. Today’s mixed economy can be summed up in terms of this argument as those who act as man qua man plus more to sustain themselves and those who act as man qua man minus the base requirements to sustain themselves since the first party is working to sustain them too.

I'm rather lost here. Could you rephrase and/or elaborate?

Plus you have those who don’t work as man qua man at all and would perish without those who do. Basically, you have producers, moochers, and looters.

My claim is that there will always be those "who don’t work as man qua man at all", the moochers and looters. Any philosophical system that is unable to cope with this reality is worthless.

I did answer it. But this was my way of pointing out you should instead ask those who engage in behavior contrary to their nature since that is the money question. Asking a capitalist why he wants to be free to thrive should be self explanatory.

But that's not the quesiton I am asking here. I happily accept your love of freedom. My question is, rather, whether you are able to reason about how to life freely when others are seeking to restrict you.

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I'm having a hard time deciding where the best place to start addressing this is. On the one hand, there's a very simple response about you being mistaken in what you think we would advocate doing under situations where one is met with force initiated by somebody else. On the other hand, I can see this leading quickly to a much bigger topic which could easily merit a whole new thread of its own.

I am actually of an open mind on this question and am hoping for some indication of serious thoughtfulness on this matter. I have not actually concluded that Objectivists are sissies but I do strongly suspect that they are more interested in debating ideals than how to confront an ugly reality.

The simple response is that if there are available ways to stop somebody from using force on you then, depending on various factors like likelihood of success and cost versus benefit of resisting versus complying, we often would indeed advocate resistance rather than compliance.

I'm going to be putting this claim to the test here. And this will get more complicated and tricky as we go further because the socialist threat is not so clumsy as a mugger.

The more extensive issue is why we don't see somebody threatening to shoot you if you don't hand over cash the same way we see a thunder storm though both are obstacles one may have to work around. Those two things are not just two of the same game pieces to us. The storm is an example of what we often refer to as a metaphysical fact whereas the stick up is a man-made fact. Metaphysical facts are inevitable things of the "if A then B" variety. If it gets to under 32 degrees F (at sea level, pure water and such) then water will freeze. That's just how it is. As long as those are the variables involved that will be the result, there's no choice or alternative involved. That's why metaphysical facts like this are things to just be accepted and worked around like the chess piece thing.

This is a reasonable distinction and I would interject that the difference is a funciton of the reasonableness of the acting man in question. To the extent that the man is a reasoning creature he is open to moral persuasion and discouragement. And I am all for making a token effort. However, the reality is that, for the most part, such people are not open to moral persuasion and discouragement and are, in fact, quite confident of their self-righteousness. They really do believe in "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Going back to the above, that's why metaphysical facts can't be said to take away freedoms like mand-made ones can because there never was the option for things to be otherwise anyway, they were always impossible. On the other hand, somebody trying to rob you was not an inevitable result of all the variables involved in that situation. The robber had a choice, he could have chosen to do otherwise. That it could be otherwise is why we don't just accept all man-made facts like robbery the same way we do metaphysical ones like the thunderstorm. Metaphysical facts you just have to accept and work around, play your chess game so to speak, however, man-made facts like robbery are like somebody's cat coming up and stealing one of your pieces and running off - that isn't something that is just built into the rules of how things work, it's got a negative impact on your game and you can decide that klepto cats are not allowed in the room where you are playing chess. That's capitalism basically, banning the klepto cat from interfearing with your game. Might the cat/robber (wait, it should be a cat burgaler! :3 Ohohoho!) still get in anyway sometimes if you aren't careful enough? Yes, but you can make the problem much smaller by taking preventative measures. (Yes, I know sticking with robbery that there are more ways to try to prevent it, but that is aside from the point of the analogy which was just to try to give a clearer picture of what I was saying about two types of facts and capitalism.)

You are drawing some useless distinctions here. I agree with the facts, e.g. that natural acts are not choices as human acts are, but the key point is that the cat burglar is not your choice. Now you may be able to influence the cat burglar just as you might avoid a storm or take shelter against it. Both the storm and the cat burglar are forces outside your direct control but against which you can make choices to minimize the ill effects. Obviously you have different options for each but then you would have different options for a hurricane vs. an earthquake.

What I am taking particular issue with is the obsession with other people's choices either to complain about them or to wish them different or, worst of all, to confuse a possibility for a different choice with an actual different choice on their part.

Now, not all man-made facts am I saying we can and should resort to government/force to take care of, not even all the ones we believe (correctly or not) are giving suboptimal results for our life, it's just that the metaphysical facts aren't even open to any kind of banning. We only belong using government to ban man-made facts that involve the initiation of force. What people choose to do with their own lives is their own business and what we do with ours is our business, neither of us can rightly compel each other to do (or do with their own stuff) what we want. This gets to why another person resorting to force in dealings with other people is something we say is taking our freedom away or making us act contrary to our nature and that sort of thing even when we haven't been completely reduced to just one option available to us. This is also where it starts getting into a wider topic about stuff like rights, the nature of humans, egoism, etc. I'm going to leave this here for some reference: http://aynrandlexico...ical_force.html I'm just not feeling up to reinventing those huge wheels at the moment. If you've got some more specific questions you still think need answering, I'll come back to try to answer those later. Specific questions are a much smaller job than just setting out to write up everything on a topic and hoping to cover any possible questions. More relevant stuff is linked at the bottom of that page too, by the way.

Well, obviously I am more disposed to a rights-based analysis then a freedom-lost analysis and I am unpersuaded so far by your arguments to the contrary. But let me take it even further and say that I am not overly impressed with rights analysis either. It is particularly pointless to assert your rights when the cat burglar has the authority of law, no matter how right your position.

Instead you have to face that question: what are you going to do?

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"Instead you have to face that question: what are you going to do?"

As I said before, that depends on the situation, on the likelihood of the success of resistance efforts and cost versus benefit of resisting versus complying. It depends so heavily on the situation that I can't really see much more to tell you than we'd recomend doing whatever you estimate would get you coming out better off. Getting robbed by a random stranger in an alley? Best response could be anything from running away to calling for help to trying to fight them off to just giving up your money and hoping you can catch the crook later. When it comes to government though, beyond all doubt we're out manned and out gunned there. If you really, really don't think you'll get caught breaking some unjust law and/or the consequences of getting caught breaking it are lower than the benefit of breaking it then it may be a good idea to do so. However, if you do get caught breaking the law, even when the laws are unjust, the chances of being able to forcefully stop the government from forcing bad things upon you is pretty much zilch. You can perhaps get away with it still if the evidence is poor or maybe you can try to go into hiding or to some place you won't be extradited, but trying to fight the government off from taking your money the way you might do one random crook in an alley perhaps is just not feasible. Since the costs of going into hiding or fleeing to another country are really steep, we do a lot of trying to persuade people to stop using the government to violate our rights and meanwhile complying with a lot of highly unpleasant, rights violating laws because we're very likely to suffer worse effects from some futile attempt to pay no heed to laws we disaprove of.

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As I said before, that depends on the situation, on the likelihood of the success of resistance efforts and cost versus benefit of resisting versus complying.

Just to be clear, I am absolutely not asking for specific proposals for response. I am much more intetested, here, in vague generalities at the philosphical level. I just want to get a feel for how (or whether) Objectivists reason about this question.

It depends so heavily on the situation that I can't really see much more to tell you than we'd recomend doing whatever you estimate would get you coming out better off. Getting robbed by a random stranger in an alley? Best response could be anything from running away to calling for help to trying to fight them off to just giving up your money and hoping you can catch the crook later. When it comes to government though, beyond all doubt we're out manned and out gunned there. If you really, really don't think you'll get caught breaking some unjust law and/or the consequences of getting caught breaking it are lower than the benefit of breaking it then it may be a good idea to do so. However, if you do get caught breaking the law, even when the laws are unjust, the chances of being able to forcefully stop the government from forcing bad things upon you is pretty much zilch. You can perhaps get away with it still if the evidence is poor or maybe you can try to go into hiding or to some place you won't be extradited, but trying to fight the government off from taking your money the way you might do one random crook in an alley perhaps is just not feasible. Since the costs of going into hiding or fleeing to another country are really steep, we do a lot of trying to persuade people to stop using the government to violate our rights and meanwhile complying with a lot of highly unpleasant, rights violating laws because we're very likely to suffer worse effects from some futile attempt to pay no heed to laws we disaprove of.

Well this is where the rubber meets the road. My impression is pretty much the later part of your answer which, as I've noted all along, I find entirely unsatisfactory, although (I must repeat to avoid any misunderstanding) I am all for putting forth the arguments and hoping for the best response and, at a minimum, Objectivists can perform a social servive of keeping the idea of liberty alive through the socialist dark ages like monks copying books. But given that the moochers and looters will always be among us, I'm not so impressed with a philosophy that has nothing more to offer than that.

Also, the variety of responses is far wider than simply disobeying unjust laws. For example, Papa Johns has announced, in response to Obamacare, which requires health insurance for all full-time employees (defined as working 30 hours or more per week), that henceforth all their employees will be part-timers (max 28 hours per week). They have obeyed the letter of the law while obviously violating its spirit. Move and countermove.

Similarly, the Laffer curve is large the product of people changing their behavior in response to taxes. The news today is that the "rich" are dumping income-producing assets and taking capital gains, etc. It's only a matter of time before companies begin to switch from paying dividends to retaining earnings and expanding through mergers and acquisitions. All of these actions are economically suboptimal, but they are reasonable responses, nonetheless.

I cite these specific examples not to start a discussion of specifics but rather to open up the discussion on a general level to a broader range of choices to free men under oppressive conditions.

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". My impression is pretty much the later part of your answer which, as I've noted all along, I find entirely unsatisfactory . . ."

The thing you mentioned Papa John's did is swell and all, I just was assuming we were talking in cases where you couldn't find a way to mostly dodge the laws or that such would still fall under "complying with the laws." I never said we had to comply with the intent of them. :P If you can do so, by all means, go ahead and make the most of whatever loop holes and such you can (while still of course working to get the need for such a less than ideal situation removed. Adjusting all employees to part time < not having to do so while still not being forced to provide health insurance.) Not sure what other kinds of stuff you are looking for that would satisfy you. Are you looking for some kind of networking on sharing these kinds of loop hole type things? We do sometimes have people talking to each other about things like that. You don't see it all that often right now though since we're all spread out in different places with different occupations and interests and such so there's relatively few cases where a bunch of us would all qualify to use the same manner of dealing with some law. There are other places around that are more dedicated to say, your state or your profession and the law involved with them that are more likely to have available advice on what stuff one may be looking for.

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". My impression is pretty much the later part of your answer which, as I've noted all along, I find entirely unsatisfactory . . ."

The thing you mentioned Papa John's did is swell and all, I just was assuming we were talking in cases where you couldn't find a way to mostly dodge the laws or that such would still fall under "complying with the laws." I never said we had to comply with the intent of them. :P If you can do so, by all means, go ahead and make the most of whatever loop holes and such you can (while still of course working to get the need for such a less than ideal situation removed. Adjusting all employees to part time < not having to do so while still not being forced to provide health insurance.) Not sure what other kinds of stuff you are looking for that would satisfy you. Are you looking for some kind of networking on sharing these kinds of loop hole type things? We do sometimes have people talking to each other about things like that. You don't see it all that often right now though since we're all spread out in different places with different occupations and interests and such so there's relatively few cases where a bunch of us would all qualify to use the same manner of dealing with some law. There are other places around that are more dedicated to say, your state or your profession and the law involved with them that are more likely to have available advice on what stuff one may be looking for.

I did this topic for a few reasons but if I had to say what I am looking for it is something a level above the discussion of "loop hole type things". Let us assume that there are such networks out there with the necessary technical knowledge. Who is providing the philosphical and moral guidence to them? What philosphy guides them? Is Objectivism capapable of that role? Or is it too preoccupied with debating utopia? Does Ayn Rand have anything useful to say on this subject? (I did read the link you gave and it was mostly "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots"). Beyond the practical considerations, what are the moral boundaries of such resistance? I am, for a variety of reasons, quite skeptical of the utility of force in opposition to legalized theft but is that merely a practical issue? It's as if Objectivsm is totally focused on persuasion and has little further to say which is surprising given the ubiquity of moochers and looters.

I also wanted to see how weded Objectivists were to the idea that oppressors take away our freedom. I've explained why I don't agree with that view. You've defended that view, which I appreciate, but I can't say I find your arguments persuasive. And I guess I don't really expect to persuade you of my view. However, I think my view is more conducive to thinking about counter moves. Yeah, socialism is immoral. But there it is hungrily eying your paycheck.

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Here is perhaps

Not sure what other kinds of stuff you are looking for that would satisfy you.

Here is a metaphorical description of what I'm seeking: An Objectivist Just War Theory. Traditional just war theory does not merely say, with a wave of the hands, if someone is shooting at you you may shoot back. It is a very deep theory about when, why, and how force may be used with very practical considerations such as the welfare of civilians, even those supporting the enemy war effort. To reiterate, I am highly skeptical of the use of force against socialism but even a black market entails willful violation of the prevailing, if unjust, law and even nonviolent actions can lead to violent confrontations as for example when the authorities raid a black market or even a street protest.

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So basically this has been an exercise to get someone to say when they would call for revolution?

Ha! Seriously, I hope I've said enough times I think that's a bad sort of move if you mean a revolution of the old school variety.

Nah, I'm looking more for something in the nature of a theory of resistence (see e.g. the examples cited).

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"Who is providing the philosphical and moral guidence to them? What philosphy guides them? Is Objectivism capapable of that role? Or is it too preoccupied with debating utopia?"

Well, my first thought here is that there's a wide range of views that can lead to people disagreeing with various laws so all kinds of people could create lists and guides on minimizing the impact of these laws on your life. The most important part is just getting the information as far as most of us would be concerned, whatever else the site owner of other site participants may believe isn't much of a concern to us beyond the same level of concern we'd have for the ideas of the next random stranger. Maybe some times somebody will see some of the other people involved with these guides as a good potential audience to talk to about morality and politics more generally and if so, hey, great, go for it. If not, well, too bad, but we can pick out what we came for, disregard any advice we don't morally support and move on with our lives. I don't think it is especially necessary for us to create our own lists and guides, the function and therefore the content of them being basically the same regardless of many possible motives for creating them. If some of us are really passionate about the subject though, they can certainly set about making their own specific collection with only stuff they approve of on it and maybe some additional information available on why they support some things and not others. That additional information would probably be pretty straight forward aplications of Objectivism though so it wouldn't be all that important to make a new analysis dedicated to this specific topic.

You hear us talking a lot more about persuasive efforts though because ultimately getting rid of bad laws is preferred to having to try to dance around them to minimize their harm and this is the most feasible option we've got to do that, but it requires a whole lot of work over a long time and we're pretty much all capable of finding at least some small things we can fit into our lives well to this end. The large variety of ways to go about activism makes it easier to come up with something different people will be interested in too. Those kinds of legal guides you are interested in it seems, I think lawyers and accountants would be the most interested and capable of making such things if anybody among us was going to since they would tend to have the best, most up to date knowledge of details of the laws. I don't think I'm knowledgeable enough to be making any kind of grand theory and whatnot on the subject at least. This is a much more specialized topic than the more general philosophy most of us here are familiar with. Most adults should have the necessary knowledge to understand and discuss general philosophy issues like rights, but most of us probably haven't picked up the legal technicalities that one would need to know to make a good guide on dealing with bad laws. Soooo . . . yeah, I'm not really so qualified to try to be the one forming any such "theory of resistance," you'll probably need to hunt down a lawyer among us to possibly get farther with that.

There are some kind of related things that I know of though. If you check out Noodlefood, Diana's got a lot of stuff about her thesis for grad school you can look up on there and there's some discussion about doing things when faced with force in there among other things.

"You've defended that view, which I appreciate, but I can't say I find your arguments persuasive."

I admit I wasn't really trying to be thorough there and so yeah, not shocked if you aren't convinced by what I said. I wasn't trying much there though because it seemed like that issue was kind of tangential to what you were really interested in which seems to be what kind of stuff Objectivism and Objectivists would suggest be done to operate in our day to day, especially on the short to medium term range time frames, lives while we've got all this collectivism surrounding and forced upon us.

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A theory of resistence.

So, if I innoculate myself against bad ideas with good ones, this only allows me to resist bad ideas. As you stated earlier, you do not find the Objectivism persuasive at this point. So even though I've developed a resistence to socialist ideas, that does not prevent them from being implemented by the legal monopoly of the use of force which should only be used where an individual's rights have been violated.

What is the difference here? Why can I read up on Objectivism, look at reality and see that it is consistant, while you can view the same words, look at the same existence and not be persuaded the same?

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A theory of resistence. So, if I innoculate myself against bad ideas with good ones, this only allows me to resist bad ideas. As you stated earlier, you do not find the Objectivism persuasive at this point. So even though I've developed a resistence to socialist ideas, that does not prevent them from being implemented by the legal monopoly of the use of force which should only be used where an individual's rights have been violated.

Yes, but to restate it:

*) I am pretty confident that you are innoculated agains bad ideas by Objectivism.

*) I am skeptical that Objectivism can be used to innoculate socialists against bad ideas either in the short term or over across generations.

*) So I don't think it will protect you from their implementation of their bad ideas.

What is the difference here? Why can I read up on Objectivism, look at reality and see that it is consistant, while you can view the same words, look at the same existence and not be persuaded the same?

I have some quibbles with specific aspects of Objectivism (see for example my disagreement with bluecherry on now to define freedom with respect to natural and humans and I could point to other threads) but that's not really the issue between us. What I am mainly not persuaded of is the value of a philosophy that has so little to say about how to live under the constant and eternal threat of socialism. How does one "go Galt" in the real world?

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You hear us talking a lot more about persuasive efforts though because ultimately getting rid of bad laws is preferred to having to try to dance around them to minimize their harm and this is the most feasible option we've got to do that, but it requires a whole lot of work over a long time and we're pretty much all capable of finding at least some small things we can fit into our lives well to this end.

This is where I suppose we are primariy in disagreement. While I agree that getting rid of bad laws is preferred to dancing around them, I think it's hoplessly utopian for the reasons I've cited in this thread. Instead, my inclination is to accept that we live in a world of predators and make my way among them. And we've talked about the variety of ways of doing that.

This is a much more specialized topic than the more general philosophy most of us here are familiar with.

If we didn't disagree on the above, I'd argue for something more specific than I've seen so far but not so specific even as lists and guides. Something in between, a coherent theory about how to live freely among predators.

Soooo . . . yeah, I'm not really so qualified to try to be the one forming any such "theory of resistance," you'll probably need to hunt down a lawyer among us to possibly get farther with that.

Well, at least we've brough the discussion to this point and I think we understand each other better.

There are some kind of related things that I know of though. If you check out Noodlefood, Diana's got a lot of stuff about her thesis for grad school you can look up on there and there's some discussion about doing things when faced with force in there among other things.

Thanks, will do.

I admit I wasn't really trying to be thorough there and so yeah, not shocked if you aren't convinced by what I said. I wasn't trying much there though because it seemed like that issue was kind of tangential to what you were really interested in which seems to be what kind of stuff Objectivism and Objectivists would suggest be done to operate in our day to day, especially on the short to medium term range time frames, lives while we've got all this collectivism surrounding and forced upon us.

Again, though, an interesting discussion that I value. Thanks for that.

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There is a lot of text since my last post, and I read it all, so I hope something I say hasn't been said already.

A theory of resistance.

I took this to mean resistance against a growing philosophical threat that may have a significant impact on your way of life. Resisting as in standing up against. So, one idea of Hernan's appears to be that Objectivism has no particular position on how to stand up to major philosophical threats. Indeed, regardless of your ideas, others can still implement socialist ideals that are an initiation of force. But how does one prevent that?

For the most part, Objectivism has no particular position on resistance, just as there is no particular position on abortion per se. Still, conclusions be figured out from some fundamental principles of what a consistent position would be. Criminals are one thing, but what to do if a philosophy is spreading? In other words, what to do with an existential threat that goes at the foundation of a civilization? Rome fell for many reasons, but at least once factor is barbarian attacks, not to mention whatever legal structures got screwed up by some set of legal philosophy positions. One could squash the barbarians or refuse to pass certain laws, but there needs to be more backing behind a system of government or economics than some words of "don't initiate force!" Resistance applies to this, just as much as it can apply to those who are trying to undo a stronger side than yourself.

An interesting fictional situation. The problem with ficition, though, is that it is so easy to invent circumstances. This is the problem I also have with reliance upon AS as a model. Fiction can be useful for illuminating possibilities but more than that is suspect.

I brought up my fictional situation as a way to frame a scenario where resistance is applicable. I don't see the issue as all that different than a real world where one has to combat and even resist existential, philosophical threats. I think you're saying that even legal measures are utopian ultimately, so if it comes down to it, you'd rather take legal loopholes or just use black markets, because irrationality will always be around anyway. Better to just adapt and deal with the harsh reality. Black markets don't necessarily need force against oppressors If that's the case, it probably involves some degree of lawlessness entirely by being "underground", and may itself become violent on wider scales, beyond a personal level. That, too, may be just as problematic as the rise of something like socialism, in the long-run. In my estimation, a concerted effort of minds is absolutely needed in the long run, in the sense a system has to run on rational principles of respecting rights. That is, a rational (using that loosely, I just mean at least with people who live without using force) society where at least Rand said there is no conflict of interest amongst rational individuals. I still think my GoT metaphor applies, because I'm getting at "combating existential threats is impossible without expansive resistance and sometimes force". (and yes, in that case, fighting the undead is with force).

A more concrete example is the American revolution. Yup, black markets existed. Colonists did a variety of illegal activities. The British clamped down more over time. Colonists resisted more. Eventually, there is a need to create a whole revolution in order to maintain or achieve a better life. An elementary example, I know, but I'm bringing in some historical context. Black markets don't seem sustainable if there is in fact a real, threatening force and its participants don't desire to live in constant peril. And if they're not in constant peril, then there is no threat in the first place.

I want to get some of your points on force in a later post, but keep in mind that answering those questions fully can require a huge amount of explanation. There are at least two chapters about force in the Tara Smith book I mentioned, and the whole book helps to set the stage for those chapters. My point isn't that you have to read the book, but it's a complex topic that is difficult to address to complete satisfaction in a forum.

Soooo . . . yeah, I'm not really so qualified to try to be the one forming any such "theory of resistance," you'll probably need to hunt down a lawyer among us to possibly get farther with that.

I don't think that level of specialization is needed to pursue that further. I'd say philosophical principles indicate pretty well some generalizations to make regarding "resistance", just as philosophical principles indicate ideas like banning initiation of force, or requiring government to have a monopoly on force. To me, using my revolutionary war example, there's at least standing by virtue and what's right because of a belief that rationality will prevail. Also mixed in there is at least trying to appeal to your oppressors even without force right away. But if enforcement keeps cracking down stronger like the British did, it may be necessary to just break free entirely for a revolution.

Edited by Eiuol
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I took this to mean resistance against a growing philosophical threat that may have a significant impact on your way of life. Resisting as in standing up against. So, one idea of Hernan's appears to be that Objectivism has no particular position on how to stand up to major philosophical threats. Indeed, regardless of your ideas, others can still implement socialist ideals that are an initiation of force. But how does one prevent that?

Indeed.

For the most part, Objectivism has no particular position on resistance, just as there is no particular position on abortion per se. Still, conclusions be figured out from some fundamental principles of what a consistent position would be. Criminals are one thing, but what to do if a philosophy is spreading? In other words, what to do with an existential threat that goes at the foundation of a civilization? Rome fell for many reasons, but at least once factor is barbarian attacks, not to mention whatever legal structures got screwed up by some set of legal philosophy positions. One could squash the barbarians or refuse to pass certain laws, but there needs to be more backing behind a system of government or economics than some words of "don't initiate force!" Resistance applies to this, just as much as it can apply to those who are trying to undo a stronger side than yourself.

I brought up my fictional situation as a way to frame a scenario where resistance is applicable. I don't see the issue as all that different than a real world where one has to combat and even resist existential, philosophical threats. I think you're saying that even legal measures are utopian ultimately, so if it comes down to it, you'd rather take legal loopholes or just use black markets, because irrationality will always be around anyway. Better to just adapt and deal with the harsh reality.

Without committing to any particular tactic or even strategy, yes. I have so little confidence in Objectivists persuading socialists that they are wrong. I'll cheer for you but I'll focus my energy and effort in dealing with what I regard as an unavoidable fact of life.

But let me suggest something a little further: that the mere act of resisting oppression can discourage oppression. Totalitarians love compliant citizens. But whenever I hear pundits wringing their hands about "ungovernable" people I cheer. Make it harder to implement socialism and that will surely dampen it's attractiveness. If those who hated socialism made themselves harder targets (to borrow a concept from self defense), they might just find they are less targeted and that, in turn, could help the philosophical case for freedom.

Black markets don't necessarily need force against oppressors If that's the case, it probably involves some degree of lawlessness entirely by being "underground", and may itself become violent on wider scales, beyond a personal level. That, too, may be just as problematic as the rise of something like socialism, in the long-run. In my estimation, a concerted effort of minds is absolutely needed in the long run, in the sense a system has to run on rational principles of respecting rights. That is, a rational (using that loosely, I just mean at least with people who live without using force) society where at least Rand said there is no conflict of interest amongst rational individuals. I still think my GoT metaphor applies, because I'm getting at "combating existential threats is impossible without expansive resistance and sometimes force". (and yes, in that case, fighting the undead is with force).

All these complications and complexities are why I don't think it's sufficient to just say this is a simple application of existing Objectivist principles left as an exercise to the reader. (The black market in drugs, for example, is notoriously violent.)

A more concrete example is the American revolution. Yup, black markets existed. Colonists did a variety of illegal activities. The British clamped down more over time. Colonists resisted more. Eventually, there is a need to create a whole revolution in order to maintain or achieve a better life. An elementary example, I know, but I'm bringing in some historical context. Black markets don't seem sustainable if there is in fact a real, threatening force and its participants don't desire to live in constant peril. And if they're not in constant peril, then there is no threat in the first place.

I want to get some of your points on force in a later post, but keep in mind that answering those questions fully can require a huge amount of explanation. There are at least two chapters about force in the Tara Smith book I mentioned, and the whole book helps to set the stage for those chapters. My point isn't that you have to read the book, but it's a complex topic that is difficult to address to complete satisfaction in a forum.

I have not read that one but I have read her book Viable Values. I did notice her claim that lying is bad for the psychy and I admit to being more than a little incredulous to that claim. I would tend to agree that lying or violence against loved ones can create unhealthy mental stress but I seriously doubt that anyone is going to have trouble sleeping for lying to people seeking to harm them.

I don't think that level of specialization is needed to pursue that further. I'd say philosophical principles indicate pretty well some generalizations to make regarding "resistance", just as philosophical principles indicate ideas like banning initiation of force, or requiring government to have a monopoly on force. To me, using my revolutionary war example, there's at least standing by virtue and what's right because of a belief that rationality will prevail. Also mixed in there is at least trying to appeal to your oppressors even without force right away. But if enforcement keeps cracking down stronger like the British did, it may be necessary to just break free entirely for a revolution.

I'd love to see an aritcle or book on the subject from an Objectivist philosopher. I believe it is a rich and deep subject.

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"While I agree that getting rid of bad laws is preferred to dancing around them, I think it's hoplessly utopian for the reasons I've cited in this thread. Instead, my inclination is to accept that we live in a world of predators and make my way among them. And we've talked about the variety of ways of doing that."

We aim to do both though, to make the best of the situation we are in and at the same time work to try to improve the situation eventually for a while at least, hopefully before we die. Most of us just don't have much legal knowledge beyond what laws we've had to deal with though and a whole lot of those don't apply to other people around here so we don't have much of use to offer for legal advice while we do have the prerequisite knowledge for general advocacy. You are seeing more of one thing than the other though we're interested in both because we typically have more capacity to speak on one of these things in a way that is relevant to other people than we do on the other. Some people who do have knowledge that applies more widely though do write stuff up about it. Diana's husband Paul is a doctor and has recently wrote up some general suggestions on how people in general can try to prepare for the full onset of Obamacare for example.

"Something in between, a coherent theory about how to live freely among predators."

I wish I could get a better idea what kinds of things you think that would entail. What would the general topics be which you think such a thing would require addressing? What kinds of headings would be on a table of contents for what you have in mind? I'm having trouble coming up with some kind of middle ground one could discuss between a general suggestion to weigh the costs and benefits of what is possible versus analyzing specific instances. Assuming the predotors have the force of law behind them though, you don't really live quite freely I'd say, you just aim for as freely as you can manage. Depending on the situation, this can mean still living very well though not quite optimal or not being able to manage to live anymore at all or anything in between.

"but I seriously doubt that anyone is going to have trouble sleeping for lying to people seeking to harm them."

If I have missed something relevant and am way off topic here, I apologize, but Objectivism already does include that in principle you don't owe it to people trying to violate your rights or those of others to give them any/accurate information they may use to violate rights. A typical cited example is that one would be quite moral to lie to the Nazis in Germany if they were asking you if you knew where some Jewish neighbors were hiding. Lying is just not typically the first line of defense we'd suggest since you may get caught lying and then you may be in deeper problems than you were in the first place. If you've got a realistic alternative, that other thing is probably a better bet.

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What I am mainly not persuaded of is the value of a philosophy that has so little to say about how to live under the constant and eternal threat of socialism. How does one "go Galt" in the real world?

So in other words, you just don't see how Objectivism is a philosophy that provides a way of understanding the world in which we live, while there are those who do see how Objectivism is a philosophy that provides a way of dealing with the world in which we live?

Regarding this matter, it's pretty simple. We understand that choice ends at the muzzle of a gun. You appear to understand that choice ends at the muzzle of a gun. We understand that a government limited to upholding individual rights is one that should not end the choice at the muzzle of a gun. You seem to say that the government that exists currently offers to end the choice at the muzzle of a gun. We are both asking, how do you go about instituting a society that it's government does not resort to ending the individual's choice at the muzzle of a gun in a world where governments often end up resorting to ending the individual's choice at the muzzle of a gun. So aside from pointing out to people who resort to using the muzzle of a gun to implement their choices, how do you keep them from resorting to using the muzzle of a gun to implement their choices?

Edited by dream_weaver
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So in other words, you just don't see how Objectivism is a philosophy that provides a way of understanding the world in which we live, while there are those who do see how Objectivism is a philosophy that provides a way of dealing with the world in which we live?

I think correct: I find Objectivism to be incomplete and lacking, particularly, in the area how to deal with predators (other than to try to persuade them to become Objectivists).

Regarding this matter, it's pretty simple. We understand that choice ends at the muzzle of a gun. You appear to understand that choice ends at the muzzle of a gun. We understand that a government limited to upholding individual rights is one that should not end the choice at the muzzle of a gun. You seem to say that the government that exists currently offers to end the choice at the muzzle of a gun. We are both asking, how do you go about instituting a society that it's government does not resort to ending the individual's choice at the muzzle of a gun in a world where governments often end up resorting to ending the individual's choice at the muzzle of a gun. So aside from pointing out to people who resort to using the muzzle of a gun to implement their choices, how do you keep them from resorting to using the muzzle of a gun to implement their choices?

Well, as I argued to bluecherry, I don't agree that choice ends at the muzzle of a gun. When somone points the muzzle of a gun at you you still have choices, just different ones. (Among them are submit and shoot back.)

While at first I thought this was just a rhetorical difference I now realize that there is more to it than that. It's not that Objectivism is philosophically indisposed to thinking about choices under the gun but that it's constitutionally disposed toward philosphy and persuasion and, thus, relatively uninterested in how to resist predators.

Thus the question becomes, for Objectivists, "how do you go about instituting a society that it's government does not resort to ending the individual's choice at the muzzle of a gun" which is a fine question but a very different one from "how can I survive and flourish in a world of people pointing guns."

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We aim to do both though, to make the best of the situation we are in and at the same time work to try to improve the situation eventually for a while at least, hopefully before we die. Most of us just don't have much legal knowledge beyond what laws we've had to deal with though and a whole lot of those don't apply to other people around here so we don't have much of use to offer for legal advice while we do have the prerequisite knowledge for general advocacy. You are seeing more of one thing than the other though we're interested in both because we typically have more capacity to speak on one of these things in a way that is relevant to other people than we do on the other. Some people who do have knowledge that applies more widely though do write stuff up about it. Diana's husband Paul is a doctor and has recently wrote up some general suggestions on how people in general can try to prepare for the full onset of Obamacare for example.

Maybe, but I think you overestimate the technical component and underestimate the philosophical component of this hypothetical "theory of resistance" that I'm seeking.

I wish I could get a better idea what kinds of things you think that would entail. What would the general topics be which you think such a thing would require addressing? What kinds of headings would be on a table of contents for what you have in mind? I'm having trouble coming up with some kind of middle ground one could discuss between a general suggestion to weigh the costs and benefits of what is possible versus analyzing specific instances. Assuming the predotors have the force of law behind them though, you don't really live quite freely I'd say, you just aim for as freely as you can manage. Depending on the situation, this can mean still living very well though not quite optimal or not being able to manage to live anymore at all or anything in between.

One of the things I'm trying to figure out here is how to best express this problem in terms that Objectivists (or fellow travelers) will understand. Asking for a table of contents is a great idea, let me give that some thought and get back with one.

Of course, all of this will be suboptimal, if by optimal we mean the Objectivist ideal. And I don't think I'm suggesting anything that would detract from that ideal. I'm not saying toss that ideal aside.

If I have missed something relevant and am way off topic here, I apologize, but Objectivism already does include that in principle you don't owe it to people trying to violate your rights or those of others to give them any/accurate information they may use to violate rights. A typical cited example is that one would be quite moral to lie to the Nazis in Germany if they were asking you if you knew where some Jewish neighbors were hiding. Lying is just not typically the first line of defense we'd suggest since you may get caught lying and then you may be in deeper problems than you were in the first place. If you've got a realistic alternative, that other thing is probably a better bet.

Someone brought up Objectivist author Tara Smith. She is what I would describe as an effiminate Objectist. I would not look toward her for a solution here. I'm looking for her polar opposite. Let me think about that table of contents and answer this too with it.

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I think correct: I find Objectivism to be incomplete and lacking, particularly, in the area how to deal with predators (other than to try to persuade them to become Objectivists).

Well, as I argued to bluecherry, I don't agree that choice ends at the muzzle of a gun. When somone points the muzzle of a gun at you you still have choices, just different ones. (Among them are submit and shoot back.)

While at first I thought this was just a rhetorical difference I now realize that there is more to it than that. It's not that Objectivism is philosophically indisposed to thinking about choices under the gun but that it's constitutionally disposed toward philosophy and persuasion and, thus, relatively uninterested in how to resist predators.

Thus the question becomes, for Objectivists, "how do you go about instituting a society that it's government does not resort to ending the individual's choice at the muzzle of a gun" which is a fine question but a very different one from "how can I survive and flourish in a world of people pointing guns."

The 'muzzle of a gun' is a metaphor. It means that via socialism, the tenants are imposed on you by force. Against a government, you submit, and seek other means of redress. You do not throw yourself in front of the juggernaut.

A predator at my door, on the other hand, should get dealt with appropriately.

Choosing Capitalism is a choice, just as those who choose socialism do so by choice, backed by the force of the monopoly called government who are then using that force and not for the sole purpose of upholding individual rights, Objectivism is disposed toward philosophy, which, incidental, it happens to be. Practical implementation of this philosophy for anyone has to, by the nature of what philosophy is, be understood to be accepted before it can be practiced.

This brings it right back to two individuals reading the same words, but grasping them differently by the nature of how they have chosen to automatize the language for themselves.

Edited by dream_weaver
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The 'muzzle of a gun' is a metaphor. It means that via socialism, the tenants are imposed on you by force.

Yes, I undersand the metaphor. The choice of shooting back is similarly metaphorical.

Against a government, you submit, and seek other means of redress. You do not throw yourself in front of the juggernaut.

Please do speak for yourself only. If you choose to throw away your freedom, that is your choice.

I am not advocating martyrdom. Implicit in any theory of resistance must be a strong current of pragmatic prudence. Nevertheless, there are always choices.

This brings it right back to two individuals reading the same words, but grasping them differently by the nature of how they have chosen to automatize the language for themselves.

But this will always be the case and it is far more than language, it is worldview and experience and many other aspects of the human condition.

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