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Discussing with Libertarians, worth it?

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When I first learned about Objectivism, I didn't understand the general dislike of the libertarian movement. I learned over time and I even understand completely why one should not align with them.

 

But is it worth it to drop little rational arguments in front of them, to a least instill some sort of thought. Like not taking the non-aggression principle to an extreme end (like starving a child to death).

 

I'm starting to think the answer to that question is no. Maybe I'm just not that good at presenting ideas or I should focus on other people. Or just not even bother focusing on any of it.

 

Thoughts?

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it's always worth it to throw out rational arguments, whenever you can, to whoever is listening, or even when you don't think -anyone- is listening. you never know what good it might do.

 

and if it's that you're not good at presenting your ideas, you will get better by doing this!

now what's this about starving children? that sounds interesting..

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I hear you about how others may see the argument, but sometimes I wonder when it comes to libertarian forums and such.

 

The starving children thing is that parents don't have to feed their children and any obligation is initiation of force. Rothbard wrote about it in 'The Ethics of Liberty'. He saw the solution to this problem is having free markets of children.

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Children are not property.

 

The proper role of government is the protection of rights.

 

Rights begin at birth.

 

Keeping anyone prisoner and preventing them (against their will) from receiving food voluntarily given by others is a form of initiation of force and is not something an Objectivist government would let happen since its proper and only role is to protect individual rights, including the right to life.

 

 

The libertarian "solution" is no solution, children are not property and there can be no market in human beings.

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I hear you about how others may see the argument, but sometimes I wonder when it comes to libertarian forums and such.

 

The starving children thing is that parents don't have to feed their children and any obligation is initiation of force. Rothbard wrote about it in 'The Ethics of Liberty'. He saw the solution to this problem is having free markets of children.

can you elaborate on this? does he regard children as property, and not as people? what is a "free market of children"?

Edited by epistemologue
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Looking at it simply, there's not much point in trying to change anyone's mind who is resistant to your effort. You may find that winds up being most people. I think it makes more sense to spot hints in people that have proven in the past to lead to rational discussions.

Otherwise, there's always a forum like this, or you could write a blog, or start a local group, etc. where your time is spent on people who (currently) deserve it.

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Capitalist Chris,

 There are distinctions between libertarian views and Objectivist views. The link you provided offers one example. The essay suggested that parents have the right to produce infants as a commodity, and thereby profit from their sales in a free market. Adoption agencies are government sanctioned monopolies, in the libertarian view of Murray N Rothbard. While that may be a crude interpretation of my reading it, this sort of practice has been said to exist in black markets. I don't believe the nationally organized Libertarian Party supports such concepts, but this is indeed one reason to be cautious toward any political affiliations. The Libertarians have a stated party-platform, far more intelligible than either of the two major US political parties. But because they have a enjoyed the freedom from being taken as a serious challenge to presidential posts, few voters bother with understanding their views. The "libertarian"-minded, (emphasizing the non-politically active individual, rather than the party member), may be unaware of the more idiosyncratic assertions of specific libertarian writers. Many libertarians tend to be anarcho-capitalists, seeking a market system free of any form of government, regardless of ethical practices. Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand were reported to have had enough personal contact with each other to know that they disliked each other.

 

Objectivism, as I understand it, views parenthood as a voluntary duty undertaken with the utmost forethought to all of the responsibilities, as well as expectations of all of the joys. If anyone disagrees with this assertion, I will certainly take a look at your comments. Objectivsim is an integrated study of philosophy, when properly understood and practiced, an adult would avoid parenthood until one is prepared for it, physically, mentally, and financially. This is not to say that it would be impossible for Objectivist parents to produce a juvenile delinquent. But I think it unlikely. The article did run on a bit about the rights of juvenile delinquents. Criminal justice could be debated separately.

 

The rights of children under an Objectivist society are worth exploring in the hypothetical. Contrasting the libertarian point of view to that of Objectivism is exactly why many of us post our opinions here. Starving babies, as a parental right, is abhorrent, as it is immoral. In the event that parents find themselves facing a choice of cannibalizing their infant, or selling their child, those parents should be subjected to whatever treatment the duly-appointed judge decides. If they are that desperate to relieve themselves of their parental duties, they should accept the understanding that their child lives with more deserving and capable people, and that they, the hapless parents, have another chance to put their lives together.

I hope that helps with your exploration of ideas.

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JASKN, Thanks for the explanation. I agree that people have to be open to being persuaded, but sometimes it's tough to figure if they are. I suppose libertarians (at least the ones I talk to) believe in definitions (just because) and apply it to other definitions (just because). I'm not sure if that even makes them a candidate for even discourse. I think I'm going to stop trying with them. It hurts my head too much. I've been thinking that I should make a website (I enjoy making them) for my local city and see how that goes.

 

Repairman, I agree with you. My intention with the thread was to figure out whether it was worth trying with libertarians. I'm not sure if anyone else has tried or not, but I've grown tired of it.

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Capitalist Chris,

 I suppose it all depends on how much discretionary time you can afford debating them, and how much pleasure you receive from trouncing them intellectually. Don't let'em get to ya. You never know what kernel of wisdom might take root in an active mind. At least your friends are capable of making interesting conversation, even if they resort to tactical evasions. And good luck with the weblog.

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Repairman, I guess it's me trying to figure out whether this is some short term 'fix' that doesn't serve any of my long term goals. I have an interest in libertarians, not any admiration, just this weird view of the world and what leads them to look at it that way.

 

I do enjoy talking politics and things along that line, but I'm thinking that my time spent on this one tiny demographic is just more frustration than worth.

 

I'm hoping focusing locally will actually give me a little niche of my own to talk. I think I've been too focused on country politics or even world politics. But right in my city there's a local government that needs improvement.

 

Edit: I'm probably also way to invested in the outcome of these discussions.

Edited by Capitalist Chris
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Capitalist Chris,

 The Libertarian Platform breaks down the purpose of their party: 1. Personal Liberty; 2. Economic Liberty; 3. Securing Liberty. After reading it, I found no point of objection. For the libertarian-minded individual, the practical application of freedom becomes, well, individualized. So, as a political party, I find nothing weird about their notions of freedom in the general sense. It's the practice of personal freedom that comes into question, and that may become more or less a little weird. They lack an integrated philosophy.

 

The distinctions between Objectivism and libertarianism are often matters of interpreting the nonaggression code, and the complex matter of foreign policy. Personalities in the national spotlight, Ron Paul, for example, championed lowering-taxes and other personal property issues, but failed to achieve greater recognition, because of his stance on foreign wars and military installations. In the long term, he may be right, but in the present, any withdrawal of American military presence in host-nations would be inviting disaster, and the American voters know this.

 

Fortunately, you do not have to pore over logistics reports and sit through briefings before coming to decisions in which lives hang in the balance. But it can be entertaining to toss ideas and knowledge back and forth with your intellectual rivals. Neither do you have to make any major decisions as to how the nation budget will be managed. And I really know nothing of the specifics of your objectives. So, I can only generalize.

 

Enjoy the art of discourse so long as it is entertaining. I have no idea how invested you may be, or with whom you are in these discussions. But the heavy stuff is handled in Washington DC. Acting locally is a noble desire, provided you are not cheating yourself. Be intellectually honest. If you are a local activist, my recommendation is to focus on self-improvement. How are your public-speaking skills? Are the solutions of your crusade worthy of being taken seriously? Is the crusade worthy of your commitment? The individual is the ultimate minority. As a general understanding, the world will survive just fine without governmental forces trying to save it; the human inhabitants, on the other hand, are spiraling into the bleak unknown under misguided philosophies, (as well as theologies), administered by political hacks of all persuasions. If you think there is opposition to Libertarians, the opposition to Objectivism is vicious by comparison. If you seek to improve the world around you, first understand yourself, and prepare for adversity. The politics of the Free World will not improve without first adapting the proper moral codes, moral codes based on reality and the protection of individual rights. This will only be possible through the advancement of philosophy promoted in our culture, (i.e. educational systems, sources of public information, and popular entertainment). Making the necessary changes to our society will require no less than a generation of effort, starting with each individual. Any moralist who cannot practice his/her own moral code should not be taken seriously. Cultural change happens one person at a time. If the cultural environment shifts toward individualism and rationalism, the law-making politicians have little choice other than to follow the trend.

Edited by Repairman
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I agree with you, especially about how there needs to be through culture. Blaming political parties or the policies that seem to get reflected would be failure of looking at the root cause.

 

I guess I'm suffering from, what I'm sure other people have asked, is that I see this incremental crawl in the wrong direction and want to do something about it. It's figuring out what to do that is tough.

 

You mentioned self improvement. Is that the answer? Should I be the best damn me (I know I should be this no matter what), morally certain, working on improving me? Public speaking is probably not very good, though Toastmasters is on the agenda.

 

I'm in that position of, what should one do? I realize that's a personal question, but it's still the one I'm trying to figure out.

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It's your life "job" to be as happy as you can be until you're dead -- Rand says happiness is the "moral purpose of [your] life." People can change and thus society can change, but you can't make them. So, you can view a lot of the wrong around you as unchangeable as any other metaphysical thing over which you lack control. Yes, your life would be better if society were more rational, so maybe it makes sense to try to influence people in a positive way. But while you try, consider: is it making you happier? In your 80 years alive, are you happier spending 50% of your time trying to change minds? 80%? 30%? None?

You'll have to decide that for yourself. But logically, it doesn't make sense to try changing society at all if you're going to be less happy trying to do it. You might very well be happiest mostly ignoring society and working on an oil rig (or whatever). If you're happiest also maybe spending some time presenting arguments on the Internet, that only makes sense because you enjoy doing it. And of course, you'll do a better job because you enjoy it. That's why the advice, "Be the best you," makes sense in response to, "How can I change society?"

 

I think you're bring up a really good point and that may explain where my discontent is coming from. Maybe it's not 'libertarians' or society, but this unfulfilling duty to do 'something' about it. The only 'good' that I feel I get from it are those rare victories, but I often feel more frustration and in a lot of cases my mind gets occupied by it.

 

I may have just developed this routine of being political, that's more of a duty, than really what I want for myself and my life. Aside from acting for my health, I've found that other areas of my life have become neglected and mundane. Where I'm not acting with the ambition I had at other times in my life.

 

Your post has brought up some deep thoughts for how I should act. I'm going to go on a fast from politics for a little while and turn the focus on me. See how this goes, see how I feel and go from there.

 

Thank you

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  • 1 month later...

I want to thank everyone again for the advice and JASKN for summing it up so well.

 

It's been a month since I've had a little fast from politics and I can say it has been great. I focused on things that were more important to me. It made me think more about my life and how it hasn't really gained from my actions. It really hasn't been helping my life, mostly distracting from meaningful productiveness.

 

When I really look at the way I am, I think I was really seeking too much validation from others. Looking for their approval, looking to win them over and hoping to garner some value from that. It seems so much more shallow now.

 

I also think reading "Virtue of Selfishness" helped too in particular to trading and whether I was trading down my time. As much as politics seems to be going in the wrong direction and that annoys me, life needs to be lived.

 

Does Ayn Rand have another book on living ones life that isn't political? I was thinking of giving The Fountainhead another read.

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I want to thank everyone again for the advice and JASKN for summing it up so well.

 

It's been a month since I've had a little fast from politics and I can say it has been great. I focused on things that were more important to me. It made me think more about my life and how it hasn't really gained from my actions. It really hasn't been helping my life, mostly distracting from meaningful productiveness.

 

When I really look at the way I am, I think I was really seeking too much validation from others. Looking for their approval, looking to win them over and hoping to garner some value from that. It seems so much more shallow now.

 

I also think reading "Virtue of Selfishness" helped too in particular to trading and whether I was trading down my time. As much as politics seems to be going in the wrong direction and that annoys me, life needs to be lived.

 

Does Ayn Rand have another book on living ones life that isn't political? I was thinking of giving The Fountainhead another read.

 

The Fountaindead is a great place to go.

 

I would recommend "Understanding Objectivism".  I have not read the book but the lecture series in stellar and discounted.  While it does get to politics since it is the whole philosophy the first half is focused on the individual.  By the time you get to Rights and Politics it is just applying individual ethics socially and I bet would still fit what your looking for. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's just another take - added to several good posts in this thread.  Libertarians are more likely to be people who have considered the basis of what they believe on a much deeper level than people who align themselves with the major parties.  (Beware, they might just be anarchists without a cogent thought about epistemology or metaphysics too).

 

And so, you are debating someone who has spent time thinking.  If they come to a different conclusion than you, you are unlikely to sway them because of the cognitive investment.

 

The bottom line???  To get a correct feel for capitalism, self-interest, no force/fraud in ethics, takes an education in history, and a knowledge of Aristotelian metaphysics and Objectivist epistemology.  I mean an internalized knowledge that's immediately available in cognition. 

 

I have found there are two or more (intermediate) types of otherwise reasonable people that you encounter.  The thinkers who have arrived at contrary conclusions can only be moved to your position if they are willing to spend the time required to study basic philosophy with emphasis on Aristotle, Rand, and Peikoff.  The philosophically uninitiated can be swayed with the right strategy, but that success is going to last only as long as another intelligent, verbal person shows up with a contrary idea.

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I think it depends on your exact audience. "AnCaps" are a complete waste of time, but I suspect that within the libertarian crowd there are a minority who would be receptive to Objectivism because it probably explains what they already think on some level.

Edited by happiness
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