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Why fight for a cause that has apparently no chance to win in our life

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I don't mean to be negative; however, it seems to me that cultural and intellectual inertia is so stacked against Objectivism that we have no chance to prevail in our lifetimes. Therefore, what is the value of arguing and trying to spread our ideas? What positive impact would a donation to ARI likely have on my quality of life? Is the intellectual battle an end in itself?

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"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in · single axiom: existence exists — and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason — Purpose — Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge — Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve — Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man's virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride. — Galt's Speech

 

Can you achieve your values without arguing and trying to spread Objectivism? If so, do so. I would suggest that any credit you offer to Ayn Rand and/or Objectivism for surrounding yourself with the values you seek, would be an act of arguing for and/or spreading Objectivism. 

 

If you find no positive impact in donating to ARI, you would be surrendering a value to do so. See self-sacrifice, selflessness, and altruism. Or in another word, don't.

 

The intellectual battle, far from being an end in itself, is the battle for the mind. Are your own personal values worth fighting for? If you are fighting for them as an egoist, you are in essence fighting for the mind — your mind. Is the cultural and intellectual inertia stacked against you such that you have no chance to prevail at achieving your values in your lifetime? If so, the hour is later than you think.

Edited by dream_weaver

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Txs for those thoughts.  I have struggled with those same ideas.  My answer is to live on a small nest egg in an area of America that still economically allows me to live cheaply and off most of the grid.  It sounds like a John Galt type removal from society, but it's not - it's, maybe, what a person like Ed Willers might have chosen if he had values beyond his attachment to the RR and Dagny - enjoy what I care about and ignore the rest of the world.  For me, it's my kids and grandkids, exploring nature, and playing veggie gardener.  The internet and its recent influence on resources available thru cable or satellite TV make this choice possible.

 

The study of philosophy generally and Objectivism specifically, and the spreading of the basis of these ideas, that is the ideas of Aristotelian metaphysics and Objectivist epistemology, is part of this seclusion that is possible because of this digital technology and the communication revolution that resulted.

 

Your OP asks, why bother studying, thinking, and promoting.  My answer is, because it's true, because widespread knowledge of this truth is a benefit to me maybe, and a benefit to my grandkids and other reasonable people, more likely. 

 

I'd be interested in hearing the motivations of others in this defined area.

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A few points:

1. I think Ayn Rand's work is fairly influential in American politics, and she is part of the reason why the US is a pretty nice place to live in.

2. Politics is not the only area in which Objectivism can be helpful in improving the world around you. After all, Ayn Rand's philosophy is about a lot more than just politics. I think the most important "fight for Objectivism" takes place in our personal lives, not on the political stage or in the media. You can "fight for Objectivism" by surrounding yourself with rational people. I don't mean Objectivists, I just mean people who are willing and able to be rational in their lives, and in their interactions with you. That might not be a huge win for Objectivism on a global scale, but it is an important win for it in YOUR world. Which is what matters.

3. When it comes to politics, even if the current strategy for trying to create a better world for ourselves really is doomed to failure, that's not a reason to give up trying to create a better world. That's a reason for changing the strategy.

What would be the alternative you're suggesting? Just do nothing? Never talk about politics, take no interest in it, just ignore what's going on in that realm? Why? How would that make your life better?

Edited by Nicky

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Are there readers here who have gone w/o politics or activism and found they enjoyed their lives a bit more? There are short-term wins when following politics, but it's so often disappointing. I would bet from @happiness' question that he/she doesn't enjoy the battle, so why do it?

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Is the intellectual battle an end in itself?

  The intellectual battle is not an end to itself. However, staying silent as our social order descends into darkness should not make any rational individual feel comfortable. As I've said in other threads, arguing with the irrational and/or collectivist types is an exercise in futility. So, forget it. I've found that there are many people who are confounded with the current state of affairs in the both the USA and the world. Speaking entirely for myself, I enjoy connecting with people who've thought about it, and who have a well-formulated opinion, even when it is not an opinion with which I entirely agree. When your interlocutor is articulate, focused, and is not prone to emotional outbursts, you are talking to a person who will at very least respect your right to express a rational argument. In such engagements, there is no battle. And your experience of exchanging ideas with an enlightened (and hopefully active) mind can be very satisfying. Therefore, you have enjoyed one more moment in your life,  and quite possibly "struck a blow for the cause."

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I thought of another answer to the OP.  I just watched the movie Schindler's List, the second or third time. I am a non-theist at age 60 with a 12 year Catholic education that was very good, generally.

 

We should "fight" for the "cause" so that human beings, at some time in the future and including my grandkids, might be free to pursue happiness by whatever means they see as in their best interest, short of the initiation of force and fraud, which contradicts the defining identity of human beings.  I'm teaching my grandkids this idea, so are their parents.

 

Knowing what many of us on this site know - it is so sad to recall many times in human history where bad ideas caused so much pain.  Homo sapiens didn't get reason in a flash in evolution, it took many thousands of years to move from the benefit of being a bully to the benefit of being a person of reason.  Then the culture of the time and times thereafter had to absorb and understand this truth in the context of some very bad philosophy. 

 

We'll never know why it has taken so long to overcome this bully genetic propensity.  Today the bullies are drawn to the world of politics, like their ancestors in the past.  Today it should be clear that reason, and its result in recognition of the benefit of voluntary trade among people with varied skills is a superior life plan over using force/fraud to obtain value.  The intervening history of philosophy, and the resulting political systems, interfered with this biological/cognitive process as they do today.

 

That's why it's worth the time to study, to understand, the truth of knowledge in meta/ep that leads to ideas in ethics and law.

Edited by jacassidy2

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A few points:

1. I think Ayn Rand's work is fairly influential in American politics, and she is part of the reason why the US is a pretty nice place to live in.

2. Politics is not the only area in which Objectivism can be helpful in improving the world around you. After all, Ayn Rand's philosophy is about a lot more than just politics. I think the most important "fight for Objectivism" takes place in our personal lives, not on the political stage or in the media. You can "fight for Objectivism" by surrounding yourself with rational people. I don't mean Objectivists, I just mean people who are willing and able to be rational in their lives, and in their interactions with you. That might not be a huge win for Objectivism on a global scale, but it is an important win for it in YOUR world. Which is what matters.

3. When it comes to politics, even if the current strategy for trying to create a better world for ourselves really is doomed to failure, that's not a reason to give up trying to create a better world. That's a reason for changing the strategy.

What would be the alternative you're suggesting? Just do nothing? Never talk about politics, take no interest in it, just ignore what's going on in that realm? Why? How would that make your life better?

 

1. I don't see it. I see Republicans damaging Objectivsm's reputation by professing admiration for Rand while practicing the opposite principles.

 

2. I'm talking specifically about trying to advance the cause of Objectivism with the ultimate goal of effecting poltical changes, not improving your own life by doing things like choosing your associates by rational standars.

 

3. I suppose the atlternative would be for me to stop debating others, engaging in activism of any sort, and doing things like donating to ARI and buying Objectivist books for college kids.

Edited by happiness

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I too think of the quote Anuj reproduced above: "..fight for the future... live in it today...". I do not do very much on this account, but that's how I think of the little I do.

I don't need to know that the world will become close to Objectivist in my lifetime. I know I might not gain all the values I seek, but that should not stop me from seeking some. (e.g. Outside Objectivism, if some activists had not started agitating for gay rights, laws would not have moved as fast as they did.)

 

In addition, there are activities where you create a value but may not gain much in material terms (think about Roark building something for free): there's a pleasure in the creation of value. The books ARI has distributed to high-schoolers and the the "FreeObjectivistBooks" project have certainly introduced some people to Objectivism, or firmed up their understanding. This is the creation of objective value, even if the final material impact is a few generations down the road. It gives me pleasure to be a small part of this. I can't say it is a top value, but it is worth more to me than the extra ice-creams or whatever I might buy with the money. 

 

3. I suppose the atlternative would be for me to stop debating others, engaging in activism of any sort, and doing things like donating to ARI and buying Objectivist books for college kids.

Everyone has to judge where this value fits in their hierarchy, and how much time and money they will spend.

 

Some people choose to engage deeply in activism (as opposed to donating), and that's fine too. The Ayn Rand quote applies better to them. For instance, the people at IJ probably know that they aren't going to get huge changes by chipping away at bad laws. Yet, each victory is a victory for some defendant, and one less link in the chain of armor they're attacking. Their "living in the future" is knowing that if this goes on, and they keep breaking more links, and others do so too, the armor will be weak one day. 
 
The ARI books project and the IJ legal case approach are very different in the way they pay off psychologically. The former is a long-term, ground-up approach, but the feedback (of success) is sporadic and indirect. The IJ's approach is more nitty-gritty, but one gets concrete feedback. I think one has to decide which one suits you; and perhaps it is a mix.
 
If one takes the IJ approach and broadens it a bit, one can focus on an area of law, instead of single cases. yet, one can keep the focus narrow, and not try to widen it into everything Objectivism wants of politics. This is where IJ's offshoot "The Castle Coalition" fits. In scope, it is a bit like the gay-activists or the abolitionists: it's focus is a single type of law that violates people's rights. I think its a pretty good choice of subject, because it has more mass-appeal than being pro-immigration or pro-abortion.

 

Added: ... Discussing/arguing with others will seldom give you a great immediate payoff. It's rare for the other person to change their mind right then. If your opponent is worth talking to, then he has formed his ideas from various things he has integrated over time. He's not going to let one challenge disrupt that. So, as far as activism goes, be patient and give him what he needs to question himself. Realize that this questioning, and re-integration is a solitary process that he will do on his own. Meanwhile, the value you get is in talking to another human being who takes ideas seriously. You also get value in seeking out objections to your own views, to see if you need to do some re-integration too.

Edited by softwareNerd

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1. I don't see it. I see Republicans damaging Objectivsm's reputation by professing admiration for Rand while practicing the opposite principles.

What don't you see? The prosperity? The freedom? They're there.

3. I suppose the atlternative would be for me to stop debating others, engaging in activism of any sort, and doing things like donating to ARI and buying Objectivist books for college kids.

Stop debating everyone? You don't think there is a single person, in the world, who is worth having a conversation with about political philosophy?

And why stop supporting ARI? What's wrong with what ARI is doing?

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The solution is in Objectivism qua life, not life qua Objectivism.  It is a philosophy to live.  

 

Wanting to make the word better is a nice goal, and trust me I understand as someways I want to put my foot through the TV, but it is not the purpose of Objectivism and therefore does not disqualify an Objectivist from pursuing values.   

 

Plus I think you over estimate the nature of the ruling class and the intellectuals that feed them non-ideas.  They do not represent the rest of society and most people know it.  

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Are there readers here who have gone w/o politics or activism and found they enjoyed their lives a bit more? There are short-term wins when following politics, but it's so often disappointing. I would bet from @happiness' question that he/she doesn't enjoy the battle, so why do it?

 

Yes. Every since Obama was elected I've almost completely ignored politics. I thought such a thing would be possible in America at the time and it just through me for a loop and showed me we are way worse off then I had ever imagined. I think the best thing now is just to let it (the US) collapse and the sooner the better. We are now essentially in the same boat as the character's in AS and will just have to rebuild it correct from scratch when it happens (hopefully not to far out).

Edited by EC

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What don't you see? The prosperity? The freedom?

I don't agree. I see that this country is in economic decline and possibly teetering on the edge of collapse.

They're there.Stop debating everyone? You don't think there is a single person, in the world, who is worth having a conversation with about political philosophy?And why stop supporting ARI? What's wrong with what ARI is doing?

I didn't say there's anything wrong with ARI, just that I don't think that any amount of money I can give them is going to effect the slightest difference politically in my lifetime, and that bring the case, I might as well just save it for myself or spend it on junk food or whatever.

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What don't you see? The prosperity? The freedom? They're there.

 

Look again Nicky. It's just a rapidly vanishing illusion now.

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I don't agree. I see that this country is in economic decline and possibly teetering on the edge of collapse.

Look again Nicky. It's just a rapidly vanishing illusion now.

We had a fairly recent thread on whether such pessimism is justified. I'll try finding it. [Added: I don't think this thread was the one I remembered, but its along the same lines.]

With some obvious exceptions, pessimism about the future of any country, across a whole lifetime, has been a losing bet.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I should state why I've become so "pessimistic". My whole life or more specifically since I learned of Objectivism I always thought that the supporter's of a slow march to dictatorship was only supported by a relative minority but that the vast majority of American's still held an implicit sense of life that is good. I truly don't believe that anymore and that alone is the cause of my "pessimism".

Edited by EC

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To chime in on the pessimism, taking a cue from The Only Path To Tomorrow, man is continually faced with the choice to go forward or to go back.

 

Aside from an individual living on a desert island, where men live in a geographical area, some social system will exist. If you lived in Iran, it would be under a theocracy. Imagine trying to live as an individualist, or be an advocate of individualism there.

 

If you lived in Russia, it would be under communist rule. Do you think you could be an outspoken advocate of Capitalism, or be left alone to quietly pursue your own goals and values?

 

Civilization, as Miss Rand wrote, is the process of setting man free from man. The idea that Objectivism can be a Phoenix waiting to rise from the ashes rests on a false notion that a collapse of civilization would result in being able to start with "a clean sheet".

 

Both the Magna Carta and The Declaration of Independence were met with violence after their inceptions. Here, in the United States of America, to use the boiling frog metaphor, Capitalism is perishing for lack of a moral base and full philosophical defense.

 

Thanks to Ayn Rand, a moral base, founded on the fact that existence exists and the choice to live, laid the way for the identification a "right" being a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. While I agree that an understanding of this cannot be bought with money, books and ARI activities can. The alternative that remains is to be a Active Man in pursuit of an individualist's independence, or a Passive Man with the unacknowledged hope that Active Men will continue to pick up the slack.

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I agree with what you said dream_weaver and seven year's ago would of been completely on your side but to use an analogy that springs to mind: imagine a roller coaster slowly climbing that hill reaching the crest and then starting the plunge.

 

You guys are thinking we are still climbing to the crest and that with time and action the ride can be stopped before it's reached and the plunge begins. I think we've already reached the dreaded peak and are in the very beginning of the plunge and it can't be avoided now.

 

Am I wrong? Possibly. Do I think I am? Nope. Do I hope I am? I don't even know anymore.

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Oh and by the way, this is the type of stuff that is being documented literally every day across the country right now by tons of sources. Most of these people that report on it do have tons of ridiculous beliefs and I suppose you can't completely disregard that, but what actually matters is the huge amount of evidence that is out there and increasing daily not the suppliers of this evidence's other wacky beliefs and "reasoning".

 

 

Oh and this.

 

 

And this is a collection of evidence that has been filmed. Ignore the NWO BS. Note the unbiased evidence.

 

Edited by EC

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Most of these people that report on it do have tons of ridiculous beliefs and I suppose you can't completely disregard that, but what actually matters is the huge amount of evidence that is out there and increasing daily not the suppliers of this evidence's other wacky beliefs and "reasoning".

Those videos are not evidence of any type. I forced myself to watch them, and that's 9 minutes of my life I won't get back.

 

If you're giving this type of stuff a smidgen of consideration, you're starting to lose touch with reality. I don't mean this to be rude, but to be harshly honest. The us-vs-them attitude in such conspiracy thinking is not merely a wrong political judgement, but something deeper. It reflects the alienation of the the thinker, where feelings of powerlessness flow from thinking that other people are in control, mean you harm, and know what they're doing.

Edited by softwareNerd

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That's exactly why I said to ignore all their crazy premises and theorizing and instead to only concentrate on the increasingly massive amounts of video evidence showing military movements within the US and training that involves infiltrating and controlling of populations. Training that is happening everywhere outside of military bases. Training that is happening within American cities and rural areas. Search for the evidence and mute the audio if that makes it easier.am not the one that has lost touch with reality. Citizen's ignoring the warning signs of impending tyranny is exactly what allows it.

Edited by EC

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Look again Nicky. It's just a rapidly vanishing illusion now.

My new car is pretty rapid, but I'm pretty sure it won't go anywhere without the keys. Wait, I'll look, just for you.

 

Yep, hasn't vanished. So what are you on about? How is my car an illusion? Where is it supposed to vanish?

Edited by Nicky

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Re the OP, here's something I wrote a few years ago:

Consider the 1680’s, when John Locke was writing (but unable to publish) his most influential works, in exile from the Catholic James II, while Louis XIV was revoking the Edict of Nantes, and witches were swinging in the Massachusetts of Cotton Mather. Fast forward 100 years and it’s unthinkable that you have the founding of the United States, where freedom of religion and the press are part of the founding principles. The point is that big changes can happen, ideas are vital to those changes, and history is very unpredictable. As is the future.

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22063&p=278209

I should have mentioned that Germany was still smouldering from the aftermath of the 30 Years War. And the Turks were on Vienna's doorstep. You think we've got it rough?

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