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If you decide to vote you have two options: Republican or Democrat.  Those are the only two parties that have any chance of winning, so it you're trying to have some short-term effect on the course of national policy, those are the only two votes that have any effect.

First of all, a 5% showing by a third party would do more to change American politics than an outright win by either major party, in both terms of immediate material gain and increased exposure.

Second of all, your vote will not have an effect anyway due to the setup of our electoral system. If a state's election is decided by a margin of more than a few hundred, your vote obviously did not make a difference. And if a state's election IS decided by a ridiculously small margin, both parties will contest the result in court, meaning the election will be decided not by the voters, but by the political alignment of judges (as we saw in Bush v. Gore). So once again, your vote did not make a difference.

Sure, a collective of votes can make a difference, but then a collective of votes could make a difference for any party. All we're talking about is a matter of degree. Claiming that people who vote outside the two major parties are "throwing their vote away" while still clinging to the fantasy that you're effecting some sort of individual-scale political change with a vote for Bush is blind equivocation.

Because they divorce liberty from its philosophical foundations and advocate it as a floating abstraction, the Libertarians are far more inimical to freedom than any of the major parties.

Apparently people here aren't good at reading. Let me post this again:

One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate's total philosophy--only with his political philosophy (and only in terms of essentials).  It is not a Philosopher-King that we are electing, but an executive for a specific, delimited job.  It is only political consistency that we can demand of him; if he advocates the right principles for the wrong metaphysical reasons, the contradiction is his problem, not ours.

A vote for a candidate does not constitute an endorsement of his entire position, not even of his entire political position, only of his basic political principles.

I'd like a reconciliation that consists of something other than "Well, the basic principle of libertarians is anarchism." Never once in my interactions with other libertarians and reading of literature have I heard this position advocated. The vast majority of Libertarians use the non-initiation of force as their basic political principle, not anarchism. If anarchism is their root principle, then why does the Party website contain admonitions about getting tough on crime? "The Libertarian Party is the party of personal responsibility. We believe that anyone who harms another person should be held responsible for that action. By contrast, the Democrats and Republicans have created a system where criminals can get away with almost anything. Libertarians would do more than just punish criminals. We would also make them pay restitution to their victims for the damage they've caused, including property loss, medical costs, pain, and suffering. If you are the victim of a crime, the criminal should fully compensate you for your loss." Continuing to insist that the Libertarian platform is based on anarchism is a willful misrepresentation and exaggeration in order to reconcile an apparent contradiction in the Objectivist "canon."

Also, you assert ex cathedra that advocating the right principles for the wrong reasons would be more damaging than the openly malevolent socialism or Christianity of the two major parties. I've wracked my brain, and I simply can't find a reason why that would be. Can you give a logical reason why a politician with a flawed philsophical base but principles closer to agreement with Objectivism than the Republicrats would somehow be a bigger distaster than Kerry or Bush, who posess neither?

:)

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But it is precisely the essentials of the Libertarianism that are bad. The fact that Libertarians don't typically explicitly endorse anarchism does not mean that anarchism and nihilism are not at the root of their philosophy. Libertarians are not espousing the right principles for the wrong reasons. They're mouthing some Objectivist slogans (e.g. no initiation of force) in a context that undercuts their meaning and their ability to apply them.

For Objectivism the primary is right -- the moral principles necessary for men to live and pursue happiness in a social context. You start from certain moral principles then you build a form of government around it. Libertarians do not do this. They start from the premise, "we want to be left alone so we can do what we want", and build from there. Accordingly they say "ban force", and "all interactions should be voluntary". But what constitutes force? What interactions are voluntary? They're unable to apply this principle. Take some examples.

The most striking example of this is their foreign policy. Libertarians typically say that just as one individual should not initiate force against another, no government should initiate force on another. But many governments are criminal tyrannies that have no right to exist in the first place, and whose very existence poses a threat to neighboring nations. On what grounds do they say, then, that it is illegitimate for one government to work to overthrow another. In the LP Platform it says: "Today, no government is innocent of violating human rights and liberty, and none can approach the issue with clean hands". Anyone who does not see an incredible divide between the governments of the US and of Iran, such that our government is *legitimate* and theirs is not, has entirely abandoned all the essentials of a proper political philosophy.

The LP supports the "right to political secession" by "political entities, private groups, or individuals". What exactly does succession mean? It means making yourself of your group into your own little country, no longer affiliated with the rest of the nation. The idea that any assortment of people have a "right" to do this is simply anarchism. A government is a monopoly on force in a reason. If it doesn't enforce that monopoly, if it allows individuals or groups or city blocks simply to succeed and become autonomous regions it is no longer a government and cannot fulfill its function of protecting rights. Now the LP Platform says that in exercising one's right to succeed one still has "legal and moral obligations not to violate the rights of others". But what does this mean? Once one has succeeded one has a separate country. So under the laws of which country is there an obligation to respect rights? If the parent country, then the succeeding "entity" is still under the jurisdiction of that country and there is no right to succeed. In fact this section doesn't make any sense, but the very inclusion of the idea of succession (even if inconsistent) is a bow to anarchism. And note their policy on Indians is a reflection of their policy of succession.

Note that the LP Platform's discussion of property doesn't even mention intellectual property, reflecting the fact that so many libertarians don't recognize the legitimacy of such property.

And I could go on and on. These problems aren't mere details, they are the manifestations of an essentially subjective political philosophy.

I stand by my previous statement that a vote for a third party is *nothing but a political statement*. Voting for a party that has a chance of winning and encouraging others to do so, is taking part in a large scale decision making process. Voting for a fringe party is exempting oneself from that process in order to make a statement about it. Now I don't say that we *ought* to vote for the Republicans or Democrats in any particular election. It depends on the details of the particular election, and often not voting is the best option. But if one wants to make a political statement (rather than seriously participating in an election) one should be very mindful of *what statement one is making* and *how* one is making it. In voting for Libertarians one *is* sanctioning their immoral policies (in a way that doesn't apply with real political parties). Also there is a special danger in voting for Libertarians. Because they awful and superficially similar to Objectivism, it is essential that we *differentiate* ourselves from them at every opportunity.

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The most striking example of this is their foreign policy. Libertarians typically say that just as one individual should not initiate force against another, no government should initiate force on another. But many governments are criminal tyrannies that have no right to exist in the first place, and whose very existence poses a threat to neighboring nations. On what grounds do they say, then, that it is illegitimate for one government to work to overthrow another. In the LP Platform it says: "Today, no government is innocent of violating human rights and liberty, and none can approach the issue with clean hands". Anyone who does not see an incredible divide between the governments of the US and of Iran, such that our government is *legitimate* and theirs is not, has entirely abandoned all the essentials of a proper political philosophy.

First of all, I would like a definition of what constitutes a "legitimate" government.

Second of all, your quote is taken out of context. That comes from the section in the platform dealing with human rights. And if Objectivism recognizes the basic rights to liberty and property, that would indeed make such proud domestic lodestones as censorship and taxation violations of human rights. Nowhere in the platform, however, does it say that the United States has no right to overthrow another government.

The LP supports the "right to political secession" by "political entities, private groups, or individuals". What exactly does succession mean? It means making yourself of your group into your own little country, no longer affiliated with the rest of the nation. The idea that any assortment of people have a "right" to do this is simply anarchism. A government is a monopoly on force in a reason. If it doesn't enforce that monopoly, if it allows individuals or groups or city blocks simply to succeed and become autonomous regions it is no longer a government and cannot fulfill its function of protecting rights. Now the LP Platform says that in exercising one's right to succeed one still has "legal and moral obligations not to violate the rights of others". But what does this mean? Once one has succeeded one has a separate country. So under the laws of which country is there an obligation to respect rights? If the parent country, then the succeeding "entity" is still under the jurisdiction of that country and there is no right to succeed. In fact this section doesn't make any sense, but the very inclusion of the idea of succession (even if inconsistent) is a bow to anarchism. And note their policy on Indians is a reflection of their policy of succession.

Hamilton, Adams, Washington? All anarchists, I suppose?

:)

You assume that the right of people to opt out of government entirely is functionally equivalent to anarchism. If a person "secedes," as you put it, they are no longer subject to the rules and restrictions of their State. However, this is not anarchism (except on a personal level), because the State can still take actions against these people in the name of law enforcement if the secessionist commits criminal acts against a non-secessionist (or non-secessionist's property, et al). Certainly, the secessionist themself would be an anarchist. But the State's recognition of their independence can hardly be construed as anarchistic, any more than Britain's recognition of America, India, and Australia's independence makes them an anarchy.

Let us take an example of morality from the high seas. If a pirate ship attacks and sinks vessels flying under the American flag, one would surely grant that we would be correct in taking action against it. Even though we do not hold jurisdiction over that ship, we have the moral right to act in self-defense. Thus, because nations act with force to protect their constituents, piracy is kept low. And yet, private vessels (those without national affiliation) can still sail, as long as they do not initiate force against a ship sailing under another state.

This is not anarchy, but voluntary cooperation of many indpendent entites. Explain how such maritime behavior is inconsistent with Objectivism, or, if it is not, why the analogy would break down if extended to land.

I stand by my previous statement that a vote for a third party is *nothing but a political statement*. Voting for a party that has a chance of winning and encouraging others to do so, is taking part in a large scale decision making process. Voting for a fringe party  is exempting oneself from that process in order to make a statement about it. Now I don't say that we *ought* to vote for the Republicans or Democrats in any particular election. It depends on the details of the particular election, and often not voting is the best option. But if one wants to make a political statement (rather than seriously participating in an election) one should be very mindful of *what statement one is making* and *how* one is making it. In voting for Libertarians one *is* sanctioning their immoral policies (in a way that doesn't apply with real political parties). Also there is a special danger in voting for Libertarians. Because they awful and superficially similar to Objectivism, it is essential that we *differentiate* ourselves from them at every opportunity.

First of all, you haven't answered my contention that a 5% minority for any third party (which is far from infeasible, as the Green Party proved last year) would do more to change American politics than a victory by either party. There's more to voting than just effecting political change over the immediate next term. Should a third party reach that matching number, not only would it qualify them for matching funds, but it would also result in increased media coverage, increased exposure, and a possible snowball effect, which could lead either to progressively stronger showings in subsequent elections, or an adoption of a portion their platform by one of the other major parties in an effort to lure voters.

Second, I fail to see how a vote for the "real" parties fails to constitute a sanction. The only way your vote will be anything other than a statement is if the election totals in your state come out absolute dead even. Since Florida in 2000 was the closest election in a century, and yet the difference in votes was still on the order of hundreds, this prospect that is just as unlikely, if not moreso, than a third party capturing an election outright. Therefore how can you apply differing standards of sanction to political parties?

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Thanks for a good discussion on this issue. It is difficult to get Objectivists to move from the theoretical realm into real-world politics: “Those who can, do !! --- those who can’t, teach !!” It’s scary to actually expose oneself to risk, esp. the risk of failure.

Regarding libertarian philosophy … I always go to the basics to understand something, so my research has taken me back to the 1950’s when the libertarian movement essentially began in this country. More relevant is how it developed in the 60’s and 70’s … esp. noticing the fractures that occurred among the various ‘libertarians’. Rand’s view of libertarians in the 60’s and 70’s was that of the ‘drug-crazed hippies’ of Southern California who were the core of the libertarian movements -- she despised them, and rightly so.

Reference the 30 page pamphlet entitled “New Libertarian Manifesto” by Samuel Edward Konkin III, published in 1980 for insight into the libertarian movements active at the time of Rand’s writings --- bear in mind she died in 1982, 22 years ago. Konkin was leading a split of the libertarians … the movement had splintered severely during the 70’s. He claimed to be a ‘true’ libertarian, attempting to keep the libertarian philosophy true and consistent in its original form. He argues from the single premise: “Libertarianism elaborates an entire philosophy from one simple premise: initiatory violence or its threat (coercion) is wrong (immoral, evil, bad, supremely impractical, etc.) and is forbidden; nothing else is.” He adopts Ludwig von Mises economics as the “sum of all voluntary human action”, and proceeds to build counter economics [counter establishment economics] with his Manifesto … describing New Libertarianism by a new terminology: agorism. [note that Ayn Rand also endorsed the economics of von Mises … but the counter economics of Konkin was a methodology of rebellion ].

Konkin lays out a brief structure of the framework for Libertarianism: along with Mises economics, he incorporates “Objective” philosophy [his interpretation of it anyway] into his own view of libertarianism. He is aware of Ayn Rand, as he mentions neo-Randians once and in another place thanks Ayn Rand for the phrase “sanction of the victim”, so I must assume he is appropriating Rand’s Objectivism [and then bastardizing it].

Per Konkin: “Thus did Libertarians become a Movement. The Libertarian Movement looked around and saw the challenge everywhere, Our Enemy, The State … . Some sought immediate alliance with other opponents of the power elite to overthrow the State’s present rulers [Radical Libertarian Alliance, 1968-71]. Some sought immediate confrontation with the State’s agents [student Libertarian Action Movement, 1968-72]. Some pursued collaboration with those in power who offered less oppression for votes [Citizens for a Restructured Republic, 1972]. And some dug in for long-term enlightenment of the populace to build and develop the Movement [society for Individual Liberty, 1969- ]. Everywhere a Libertarian Alliance of activists sprang up [most importantly, the California Libertarian Alliance, 1969-73].”

He then lists three counter-attacks by the State against the libertarian movements: 1) anti-principles 2) Partyarchy [formation of the Libertarian Party], and the ‘attempt by Charles Koch to ‘buy the major Libertarian institutions’.

Of the Libertarian Party [first formed in 1970, and re-established in 1971], Konkin states “A ‘Libertarian’ Party was the second counter-attack of the State unleashed on the fledgling Libertarians, first as a ludicrous oxymoron, then as an invading army.” He viewed a “Libertarian” Party as perpetuating statism, and called its formation and existence “the Worst of all the counter-attacks”.

Konkin goes on to layout “his” ‘Libertarian’ philosophy as the ‘pure’ form of libertarianism, one based on a principle of ‘consistency’. He presents a four-phase strategy and tactics for the NLA [New Libertarian Alliance] and the MLL [Movement of the Libertarian Left]. His strategy is outright defiance of the State … not even recognition of it. He acknowledges serious violent conflict is inevitable, but is consistent in adamantly opposing the initiation of violence by any member of the New Libertarian Alliance. Let the State start it.

Make no mistake about it --- this incarnation of the Libertarian movement [philosophy] was radical. Any State agent would regard their writings, and their actions and proposed actions, seditious by any measure of the word. Konkin’s movement was based in pure anarchy and he proposed immediate non-compliance in all facets with the existing State [uS Government] to achieve it. He closed his pamphlet with the exclamation:

“Agora, Anarchy, Action ! “

and under his signature dated October 12, 1980 gave his place of residence as Anarchovillage (Long Beach).

Ayn Rand, of course, was exposed to the sum-total of all the movements of the time during the late 60’s thru the year she died. No wonder she despised the libertarians so much. I can’t blame her. I was a young college student at the time myself, then served in the military. I didn’t even know of libertarianism at the time to associate it with the ‘hippy’ movement in Southern California … but the hippie culture and influence was growing rapidly on the campus I was attending.

However, of the ‘sundry libertarians’ [implying the Libertarian party which splintered from the libertarian movement and formed in the early 70’s] Rand wrote that they “plagiarized the Objective theory of politics while rejecting the metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics on which it rests.” Though certainly not an endorsement of the Libertarian Party, it is an acknowledgment that the Libertarian Party’s politics [as opposed to the other variations of the libertarian philosophies among the many movements] is based on Objectivism even if the Libertarian Party members don’t recognize or understand why. Thus the statement by Rand referenced in Anatole’s essay above is pertinent.

Ayn Rand died in 1982 …. Many of the radicals of the 60’s and 70’s have long since fallen by the wayside, succumbing to the consequences of their choices in life. What is the status of modern Libertarians in 2004 ??? Most all the people I know who are registered Libertarians like Ayn Rand and her philosophy, and believe in the need for some government adequate to deal with violent offenders [via violence, theft, and/or fraud]. Even when I questioned Harry Brown [staunch supported of anarchy] at the FL State Libertarian Convention after his talk, he acknowledged that society may never be able to achieve eliminating government entirely, given the nature of ‘people’.

Rand did not like the Conservatives, and viewed them, and their party [the Republicans] as the worst offenders, because they ‘subordinate reason for faith, and theocracy for capitalism’. Above all, she admonished us to not join the wrong ideological groups or movements [Conservatives and ‘libertarian’ hippies] in order to ‘do something’.

... keep this going, please. I know some hard-core advocates of maintaining the purity of Objectivism probably regard this discussion as heresy. I am not in anyway advocating a compromise of Objectivism --- I am trying to establish how, if at all, Objectivism can help us regain as many of our freedoms as possible. If the Libertarian Party of 2004 is malleable enough that the younger members along with the more rational ones are receptive to Objectivist philosophy, then I advocate taking a step to restore as many of those freedoms as possible, as rapidly as possible.

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kgvl

In your last post, you make it appear you are well read on the topic of libertarianism, and to the Objectivist objections to it. As such, what responses do you have to the arguments made in "Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty" by Peter Schwartz?

As it stands, your last post basically says that libertarianism was x in the time of Rand, but has now changed and should be embraced by objectivists who want to live in the 'real world'. If it is not what is characterized in that pamphlet, and no longer has the problems it lists, could you please expose the errors it contains so we may now embrace this 'new' libertarianism?

-

As an aside, what does kgvl stand for?

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I don't have the time or interest in continuing this thread. In response to Anatotle, I'll just make some closing points.

(1) The LP Platform does say: "The violation of rights and liberty by other governments can never justify foreign intervention by the United States government." It says other things that seemingly contradict this, but none that actually do.

(2) The Declaration of Independence makes it very clear under what situations succession is appropriate, and the Revolutionaries did not believe in succession of individuals or of sundry political entities.

(3) A legitimate government is one that is essentially rights-protecting, rather than rights-attacking, which has freedom of speech, and a political process whereby one can work peacefully for improvement. Examples: America, England, France, Canada, Japan, and many many other nations. The contrast would be to, e.g. Iraq (pre-invasion), Iran, Cuba, etc.

(3) I don't think a third party garnering 5% of the vote, would have any significant effect. Whereas 5% added or subtracted from either of the serious parties could sway an election. What effect exactly do the 3rd party supporters have in mind? By what steps do they see this 5% leading to significant political change in the nation? And over how long? Voting for Libertarians, despite their flaws, was argued for here as a "real-world" solution. Something that will have effects in the short-term (unlike working for long-term cultural change). My point here has been that it will not have such effects. That is part of the reason why there are no *reasonable* third parties. All the present third parties are magnets for flakes. The whole idea of having a Libertarian Party stems from the subjectivism of the libertarian movement. The idea is "we want to change American politics NOW" regardless of the FACTS about the state of the nation, the necessary preconditions for political change, etc. The whole movement is subjectivist to the core, and the very existence of the Party is a result of that.

KGVL writes:

"If the Libertarian Party of 2004 is malleable enough that the younger members along with the more rational ones are receptive to Objectivist philosophy, then I advocate taking a step to restore as many of those freedoms as possible, as rapidly as possible."

How do you imagine this occurring? What would be the steps? You talk about trying to bring Objectivism into the real world, and yet you haven't said anything about how an association with the Libertarian party might actually affect this sort of change. It seems as though your claim that we need to bring Objectivism into the "real world" just amounts to the *feeling* that we need to *do* something (anything) *now*. Throughout you've been focused on the need to take some action, but not on *how* that action would result in some value. What freedoms exactly do you hope to restore and by what steps?

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RadCap ...

kgvl: k for Karen; gvl for Gainesville [Florida]

GCS ... sorry if I offend you. I must reason through arguments myself, and not accept the word of you or anyone else just based on your say-so. If the purpose of this forum is not to discuss freely, but to indoctrinate, then perhaps I am in the worng place. Wouldn't you rather 'guide' me to the correct rational conclusions [assuming you know them yourself] and have me as an ally ? Face it ... what you're doing in here is not writing philosophy ... not creating anything new --- you're trying to communicate something that has already been written down. You're trying to teach --- and learn yourself from interaction with others ... don't lose your temper. You will find that if I am made aware something I have said is 'irrational' I will find the error and correct it [with or without help from others] ... and publically acknowledge my error. But for now, I have some more foundation to lay before I address your points.

RadCap, as to your question, no, I have not read Schwart'z essay. I stopped by two bookstores this AM to see if they had the Voice of Reason ... no such luck. Only one book by Rand on the shelf at Books a Million --- a couple hundred on Buddhism, Dharma, Zen, Tao, etc. Same for Barnes and Noble, though they had a few more of Rand's books. I have ordered it from Amazon as of 20 min ago.

I did spend time reading the articles on http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/critics/index.html which obviously amount to critiques of not only Schwartz's paper but other aspects of both libertarianism and Objectivism. I will refrain from commenting til I have read Schwartz.

As a side tangent though, to establish a point about a core issue involved in this discussion --- the validity or invalidity of practicality and or pragmatism --- would you kindly comment on whether Objectivism would permit choosing 'the least of several evils' if the choice of 'no evil at all' is not available ... or is the latter choice always an option ... and the only one open to Objectvists ?? In the following, a new 'compromise' is actually constructed from a pre-exisiting compromise.

An example of pragmatism/practicality:

As applied to television and radio broadcasting the fairness doctrine demands that equal opportunity be given to all sides of a controversial issue -- on the grounds of the notion that the “people own the airwaves” and therefore all factions of the people should have equal access to their communal property. The “Fairness Doctrine” is a messy little makeshift of the mixed economy, and a poor substitute for freedom of speech. It has, however, served as a minimal retarder of the collectivist trend: it has prevented the Establishment’s total takeover of the airwaves. For this reason --- as a temporary measure in a grave national emergency ---the fairness doctrine should now be invoked on behalf of education.

Would Peikoff, Schwartz, ARI support the temporary institution of this measure as a means to an end ? ... or is this an absolute no-no ??

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Your example of "pragmatism/practicality" is wrong like your view of

libertarianism.

The fairness doctrine was a government control of the airways. Non-

estabishment ideas were kept off the air because you would have to

give equal time to everybody. Reagan ended it in '87, Rush went national

in '88.

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WGD is correct. Such measures work exactly against what you actually seek to achieve - as does most govt interference in voluntary human interaction.

In this case, though, your comparison between tv and education is not valid, because in tv government was interfering in voluntary human interaction. In education, the govt forces the interaction. It is not voluntary to begin with.

In the case of television, the networks are private property. As such, so is the content of their programming. By stepping in and dictating content, the government denied the private owners control over their property. They violated their property rights.

In the case of education, the govt already 'owns; the schools. The schools are 'public' property. As such, the govt already controls the content of its instruction. By claiming ownership to the schools, demanding payment without regard to consent, and demanding attendence to some form of govt approved education, the govt already established a system which violates NUMEROUS rights.

That being the case, it is quite proper to try to destroy that govt system. The only question becomes: how? Can one do it altogether, or does one have to do it incrementally? If it is incremental, then what are the logical, possible steps one can take to achieve that end.

For the reasons already given, I believe an 'educational fairness doctrine' is the wrong approach. And, not only will it encourage supppression of ideas, by granting anyone with a demand to teach 'opposing' ideas, you open the coffers of govt to more people (ie increase the demand for more violations of individual's rights). That is the opposite of what one seeks to achieve.

No - as it stands, something akin to the currently proposed voucher system, which only uses the same funds the govt was already taking by force, but permits competition in ideas by allowing taxpayers to directly dictate what school the children may attend, is a step in the *right* direction. Of course it is JUST a step. Many others must be taken afterwards. But at least the step does not require ADDITIONAL violations of individual's rights.

--

Now, if you want an example which more closely matches your tv 'fairness doctrine', you could choose 'campaign finance reform'. There have been many attempts to institute essentially a 'fairness doctrine' for political campaigns. Some seek to forbid private financing of campaigns and instead take money from all citizens and give it to anyone who wants to run for a govt seat, This is proposed on the grounds that it will allow those voices which might not have otherwise been heard to be heard.

I hope it is obvious that forbidding people to give money to whom they want is a violation of their rights. An objectivist would NEVER demand the introduction of such a blatant violation of rights, especially just to get his voice heard.

So, you are correct, it would be a MAJOR no-no.

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As applied to television and radio broadcasting the fairness doctrine demands that equal opportunity be given to all sides of a controversial issue  --  on the grounds of the notion that the “people own the airwaves” and therefore all factions of the people should have equal access to their communal property. The “Fairness Doctrine” is a messy little makeshift of the mixed economy, and a poor substitute for freedom of speech. It has, however, served as a minimal retarder of the collectivist trend: it has prevented the Establishment’s total takeover of the airwaves. For this reason --- as a temporary measure in a grave national emergency ---the fairness doctrine should now be invoked on behalf of education.

OK ... sorry to have suckered ya'll into that one ... I didn't attribute the lines I used to their author. The above lines are, word-for-word, from Ayn Rand. Reference Chapter 16, Fairness Doctrine for Education, from Philosophy: Who Needs It ?

Rand argues in this essay in favor of extending the Fairness Doctrine of broadcasting to education. Does this mean she wasn't an Objectivist that day ?? ... was it an anomaly ?? Peikoff was certainly aware of the essay --- he is the one who determined the content of Philosophy: Who Needs It ?? as it was published after her death.

She acknowledges the subjectivity of the Fairness Doctrine and the reason she recommends its implementation:

" Since the fairness doctrine cannot be defined objectively, its application to specific cases would depend in large part on subjective interpretations, which would often be arbitrary and, at best, approximate. But there is no such approximation in the universities of Soviet Russia, as there was not in the universities of Nazi Germany. The purpose of the approximation is to preserve, to keep alive in men's minds, the principle of intellectual freedom --- until the time when it can be implemented fully once more, in free, i.e., private, enterprise."

Please read the entire essay ... there is no doubt she advocates 'temporary' implementation of this policy as a means to keep disussions of freedom alive in places [colleges/universities] where the ability to voice opinions on freedom was rapidly disappearing in 1972. Is it any better on campus now in 2004 ? Given the lack of serious philosophy classes in major universities and the sparseness of Rand's books on the shelves at the local bookstores this morning [in favor of Buddhism, Zen, etc] free thought is certainly not being presented in current times.

My point ... Rand obviously was willing to temporarily suspend --- compromise --- pure Objectivist morals to pursue a higher value. Perhaps she drew on the statement she made in Atlas Shrugged: "One doesn't owe morality to a person, government, or institution that has violated one's individual rights". [please forgive my paraphrase of this passage, as I am again not in close proximity to the book. I am certain of the intent of the expression, though].

So, Rand obviously thought it OK to be 'practical ... pragmatic' to achieve a higher value. Does this not open up other avenues to achieving 'higher goals' ?? certainly we don't want to advocate the path of socailism where the ends justify the means[incl fascism and communism]. Perhaps Rand's departure from Objective purity is justified as long as she didn't violate individual rights, but fought instead to protect them. Perhaps this was a recognition on her part that the real world of implemented politics is tougher than the content of a book or classroom lecture.

What do ya'll think ??

Can I not similarly justify as practical/pragmatic voting for a Libertarian government which holds as its goal the Objectivist politics, even if it doesn't understand the underlying philosophy of Objectivism ? At least I work toward freedom, instead of away from it ... and I leave the door open to free discussion with those in the Libertarian Party ??

I am not convinced of my path, yet .. I need more information, which I am acquiring --- I am arguing as the Devil's Advocate here !

BTW --- I agree with both of you --- the Fairness Doctrine is the wrong approach --- but that means we disagree with Rand, does it not? ...

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k

Um - exactly how did you 'sucker us' on this? WGD said nothing which contradicts ARs statements. And I explicitly stated the situations are not comparable (certainly not today). I specifically stated how the former is the attempt to take over private property, whereas the second is an attempt to control that which has already been made 'public' property.

In other words, I don't believe you have grasped what has been stated - either by AR or by myself.

AR was not 'compromising' Objectivist principles by advocating Objectivists seek access and control over a govt program that has no business existing, and from which it was excluded. She was trying to break the govt monopoly on educational content the best way she thought possible.

That is an ENORMOUS difference.

If you need another example to grasp this difference, it is the same as the mandatory 'volunteerism' programs which exist today. ARI fought against such an obvious and evil contradiction. But, once these programs were established, to SAVE individuals who are forced to engage in this mandatory volunteerism, they instituted a program which allows students to fight AGAINST volunteerism AS their volunteer activity.

IF on the other hand, ARI had fought FOR mandatory volunteerism, in an attempt to force people to preach objectivism, THAT would have been a compromise. And so it is true of her education proposal. IF AR had suggested government ownership of schools in an attempt to force people to learn about objectivism, THAT would have been a compromise. But that was NOT her suggestion. Govt ownership already existed. She was just trying to get control, so it could be abolished

As such, your characterization is completely wrong. There is no 'comprimise' involved here. There is only an error in your logic.

For yet ANOTHER example of this difference, consider your statement: " Given the lack of serious philosophy classes in major universities and the sparseness of Rand's books on the shelves at the local bookstores this morning [in favor of Buddhism, Zen, etc] free thought is certainly not being presented in current times."

Because, as you claim, ARs books are not carried by many bookstores, does that mean we should "compromise" our objectivist principles and demand a fairness doctrine for all bookstores? Do you think this is something AR would have advocated or ARI should now advocate?

BUT - if govt ran the bookstores and the same lack of objectivist books existed, would it not be valid to suggest the application opf a fairness doctrine to these govt institutions?

I hope THAT makes the difference clear. If it STILL doesn't, you might want to read "The Question of Scholarships" from VoR. She lays out many of the objectivist principles involved.

Now, as I stated, I believe that other methods of taking control of govt schooling so that such schools may be eliminated, will be much more effective than a 'fairness doctrine'. Does that mean her way is NOT consistent with objectivism? No. (In fact, since vouchers are a relatively new idea, if I might have agreed with her method at the time she suggested it). Nor does it mean my way is 'more' objectivist. They are simply different approaches to the same problem. And they BOTH proceed from objectivist principle.

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RadCap...

thanks for your reply. Believe me, i don't support any expansion of gov't. I was curious about what appeared on the surface to be 'pragmatism' on the part of Rand ... I do understand how she was using a system already in place in an effort to work against it.

... as I read more and more about the libertarianians out there .. I am beginning to think that my 'problem' lies in the fact that I haven't really met many 'libertarians' outside of my own community [which is rural about 30 miles from GVL] ... and those are generally very hardworking intelligent individuals seeking freedom themselves, without knowing where to turn in modern politics. most of them don't vote anymore. Perhaps a visit to a Southern California LP convention would be an eye-opener.

... I have lots of reading to do. Thanks again.

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Here's Ayn Rand's words near the end of the artical.

"Who would enforce the fairness doctrine in education? Not the executive

branch of the government, which is the distributor of funds and has a vested

interest in uniformity, i.e., comformity. The doctrine has to be invoked and

upheld by private individuals and groups.

This issue could become the goal of an ad hoc movement...appealing to

whatever element of 19th century liberalism still exists in the minds of academic

liberals...

If a fairness movement enlisted the talents of some intelligent young lawyers,

it could conceivably find support in the courts of law, which are still supposed to

protect an individual's civil rights.

It must be remembered firmly that a fairness doctrine is not a string on the

universities' freedom, but a string on the government's power to distribute

public funds."

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The confusing part of Rand’s position centers on two issues: one rather straightforward, the other apparently more complex.

Definitions from www.Dictionary.com

Pragmatism:

1. Dictionary.com -- Dealing or concerned with facts or actual occurrences; practical.

2. Philosophy. A movement consisting of varying but associated theories, originally developed by Charles S. Peirce and William James and distinguished by the doctrine that the meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences.

3. A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems.

practical

adj 1: concerned with actual use or practice; "he is a very practical person"; "the idea had no practical application"; "a practical knowledge of Japanese"; "woodworking is a practical art" [ant: impractical] 2: guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory; "a hardheaded appraisal of our position"; "a hard-nosed labor leader"; "completely practical in his approach to business"; "not ideology but pragmatic politics" [syn: hardheaded, hard-nosed, pragmatic] 3: being actually such in almost every respect; "a practical failure"; "the once elegant temple lay in virtual ruin" [syn: virtual(a), practical(a)] 4: having or put to a practical purpose or use; "practical mathematics"; "practical applications of calculus"

**************************************

Given these ‘options’, I certainly would not regard Rand as someone who would ever compromise her profound belief in the accuracy of her underlying principles to achieve a goal – an ‘end’. Rand does comment vaguely on the nature of ‘pragmatism’ in this particular essay advocating implementation of the Fairness Doctrine in education:

“(The solution is not what the opponents of any firm convictions suggest: that the honest teacher turn into a flexible pragmatist who’ll switch his ideas from moment to moment, or into a skeptical pig who’ll eat anything). The consequences of any attempt to rule or to support intellectual activities by means of force will be evil, regardless of motives. (This does not mean that dissent is essential to intellectual freedom: the possibility of dissent is.)”

I erred in not picking up my AR Lexicon this morning and checking her comments on pragmatism there. Her use of ‘flexible’ in describing pragmatists may mean there is more than one type of pragmatist [ … ?? non-flexible pragmatists ??].

At the time of her writing, the Fairness Doctrine applied only to broadcasting. She called it “a typical product of the socialist sentimentality that dreams of combining government ownership with intellectual freedom.” There was not any provision in US law for extending it to education. Rand herself, acknowledging it couldn’t “be applied fairly in broadcasting”, still advocated implementation in US law of an extension of the doctrine to the realm of education in order to pursue a higher rational goal. This seems to be a ‘practical’ approach to dealing with a ‘real’ problem. [i use practical since it seems more accurate from the definitions above than pragmatic --- esp. given Rand’s comment on pragmatists]. She is using the tools of the government in the form it currently existed [no matter how corrupt … i.e., evil ( a little or a lot) ] to work toward a higher rational purpose. She compromised, advocating not only making use of a lesser evil, but creating that lesser evil from nothing by writing into law a new and clearly socialist Educational Doctrine [supposedly enforceable by law] that did not previously exist. Its one thing to use an existing fairness doctrine in broadcasting, but another to advocate the implementation of new ‘socialist’ legislation to achieve a higher goal. It appears to me that Rand advocated using a ‘questionable’ means to an appropriate ‘end’. I have no problem with what she wrote --- I understand the nature of ‘practicality’. Even Leonard Peikoff apparently supported it at the time, as he presented the essay for publication in 1982. I honestly can say I would have been opposed, on my principles, to the very extension Rand advocates.

Yet, reading Peikoff and esp. Schwartz [Facts and Values, Peikoff; On Moral Sanctions, Schwartz], they leave no doubt that they both would be forced to disagree with Rand’s ‘practicality’ based on their current interpretations of Objectivism --- at least that’s what is presented in these two writings. Its not that she had a good and higher rational goal as her objective, but that compromised and advocated an ‘evil’ … even though small .. as a means to achieve that goal.

I have no problem with this by Schwartz---

Schwartz: “The weapon necessary to defend against evil is justice: the unequivocal identification of the evil as evil.”

The following passages from Schwartz, however, erect an impenetrable barricade that would have forbade Ayn Rand from advocating or writing about the implementation of a new clearly socialist ‘Fairness Doctrine in Education”. To even think the idea may be sound,regardless its rational goal, seems like it would have earned her banishment since it required use an an intermediate temporary 'evil' -- a socialist policy.

Schwartz: “ This means the refusal to grant it, by word or by deed, any moral respectability. It is by scrupulously withholding from the irrational even a crumb of a moral sanction — by rejecting any form of accommodation with the irrational — by forcing the irrational to stand naked and unaided — that one keeps evil impotent.”

Continuing further: “Moral judgment, and not some pragmatic calculation of losses and gains, is what must precede any decision about whom to associate with. As Dr. Peikoff makes clear (in his lecture “Why Should One Act on Principle?” and, much more extensively, in his forthcoming book on Objectivism), there cannot be any “cost-benefit analysis” of justice versus injustice, or of not sanctioning versus sanctioning evil (or of the alleged pro’s and con’s of any proper moral principle). The moral is the practical. No matter what the short-range appearances may be, there are no real “benefits” in acting unjustly, and no “losses” in acting justly. There can be no value in pretending that the irrational is rational. The moral principles of Objectivism identify the kind of action — the only kind of action — that is in accord with the demands of reality and therefore beneficial to man’s life. If an action is consonant with moral principles, then and only then can the question of costs versus benefits legitimately arise. Only then can various alternative courses offer genuine advantages and disadvantages that need to be compared. But the immoral — the unjust, the dishonest, the irrational — is by its nature the anti-life and can offer no value.”

I admit I have read little by Peikoff, and very little by Schwartz [i await delivery of The Voice of Reason and The Objectivist Forum to enhance my ‘knowledge level’]. My reading of Rand provides a view of a person less constrained in real-world politics by unrealistic edicts that would lock-out most of the people in the world. I will be reading more of Peikoff and Schwartz to see if this ‘dichotomy’ is sustained in their other writings.

Though this may appear to be way off topic from Libertarianism [or libertarianism], it is not --- the underlying dilemma is the ‘practicality’ or ‘pragmatism’ of voting for a political party that advocates the same political goals as Objectivism [as they were plagiarized from Objectivism]. In the end, will I not be ‘better off’ moving toward freedom, than away from it [as the D’s or R’s are taking us] ? Is that not a ‘practical’ choice ? If we ever get close to those goals, then we can argue [or fight] over how much government there will be … I truly ‘believe’ I would be in a better [i.e., rationally ‘better’] position as a free human being with the right-to-bear arms than I am now as an unarmed half-time slave.

GVS asked what steps I would take to make government ‘better’ … I stated the obvious first steps in a previous posting where I said that initial steps to ‘repeal the 16th Amendment and reaffirm the individual rights [including property rights] already once affirmed in our country’s Constitution would be a tremendous start. Most of our tax-dependent organizations, if not all, would be ‘outlawed’ on the spot --- as they once were in this country !! It doesn’t mean we drive America into immediate turmoil overnight .. we work then to dismantle the huge government machinery without allowing it to fall apart rapidly enough to lead to civil war. Even Rand was reasonably content with the structure of America under our Founding Fathers, recognizing that there are conflicts and problems in our Consitution --- but these are ‘repairable’. If we lose the Constitutional framework we have [and D’s and R’s both are constantly eroding the Constotituion], then it will be an even farther path back to freedom. Personally, as long as any government welfare or government funded jobs remain, I would support a Constitutional Amendment forbidding anyone who receives government funds in any way from voting. As long as you are living off the labor of others, you have no right to determine the magnitude or terms of your ‘allowance’. If you want to vote, get off the government dole.

… again, I am not an ‘expert’ on Objectivism --- not yet. I am more than amenable to having my ‘errors in thinking’ pointed out to me, and expect several of you will promptly do so … though under Schwartz’s doctrine, I may already have qualified as an outcast. I’ll give him and Peikoff a ‘fair shake’, but will be looking for how consistent they are with Rand as the ‘metric’ by which I will measure them as I read through their writings.

…. I have problems with ‘libertarians’, esp. as I come to find out who many of them are [do they still condone NAMBLA ??]. But in politics, there will always be such battles --- just try forming an Objectivist Party, and see the headaches. The parasites on all sides of the political spectrum will always come out of the woodwork and attach themselves to a movement that will provide them something they don’t have to work for. The Libertarians have difficulties because they haven’t established a clear and distinct platform with a solid philosophical basis --- they don’t have predictability yet, though it appears that ‘may’ be changing [per their platform]. They still can become repsectable… but a dominant [and hopefully rational] faction will have to eventually fight for that. It seems far more rational to engage in open discussions with libertarians about the philosophy underlying their clearly objective politics than to write everyone of them off as ‘evil’. The Libertarian Party, like any other party, or government, or society, is itself NOT an entity --- it is an assemblage of individual people, each capable of deciding their own fate.

I have a lot of reading and studying to do --- I’ll sit back and ‘listen’ for awhile !!

Thanks again for the discussion. I want freedom again … like G. Gordon Liddy said: “When I was a child this was a free country”. I was there too ... it wasn’t ‘free’, really, but it was much freer then than it is now … quite noticeably so. I don’t want to sit around on my duff waiting and hoping for freedom to suddenly appear out of nowhere like some religious fanatic. I must take rational steps forward each day in the direction of freedom, not away from it.

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kgvl wrote, "GVS asked what steps I would take to make government 'better' ... I stated the obvious first steps in a previous posting where I said that initial steps to 'repeal the 16th Amendment and reaffirm the individual rights [including property rights] already once affirmed in our country's Constitution would be a tremendous start."

This isn't a "step." It's a massive legislative change that would be absolutely impossible to implement in the near future.

The question is, given the state of our culture, how do you plan on doing this? You obviously can't just enact sweeping changes like that as a "start." Those changes will come about as consequences of philosophical changes--which the LP is antithetical to. There are much deeper ideological steps that have to be taken to to bring Objectivism into the "real world."

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I take it by that very long post, your answer to my question is that you still DO believe AR was being 'pragmatic' - or as you now call it - 'practical' (though you use the new term to mean exactly the same thing you meant by the old one). In other words, I take it you still believe AR had an 'ends justify the means' mentality when it came to the 'real world'.

The arguments you present in defense of her 'practical' 'compromises' of her objectivist philosophy suggest you embrace a very destructive view of philosophy in general, especially when it comes to the concept of principles and how one applies them. So I'm sorry, but Im not going to let you 'sit back and listen'. ;)

Instead, I would like to ask you a few questions. First off, concerning the specific example you reference:

What evil is AR sanctioning - what injustice is AR suggesting - when she states an objectivist should try to take control of the government's power to distribute the funds it has stolen in order to teach captive students that their enslavement is immoral? By trying to control the govt purse in order to eliminate it altogether, how does AR grant that evil any moral respectability?

BTW - I phrased the above very precisely, because you actually stated something incorrectly in your post. You said AR was creating an 'evil' where no evil currently existed. That is completely FALSE. The govt runs the public schools. They force children to attend those schools. They steal wealth in order to pay for those schools. And they dictate what ideas may and may not be taught in those schools.

Put simply, the evil is already total.

So to claim AR was creating a NEW evil where none existed is the OPPOSITE of her actions. She was attempting to introduce SOME small measure of individual freedom by RESTRICTING the govt's actions. Yet you depict that as a 'compromise' of her objectivist principles and the actual ADDITION of another evil. Someone tries to unlock one of the shackles completely enslaving a man and you somehow consider that a compromise, a sanction of shackles, and therefore an injustice! Not only that, but you see it as actually somehow ADDING a shackle!

This is why I say you have embraced a destructive view of principles, especially as applied to objectivism. And as such, I have to ask you, of what use - if any - do you believe objectivist principles can have in an non-objectivist society?

In such a society, CAN one act according to objectivist principles and thus be an objectivist? If so, how (for instance, provide an example of how one could seek to change the educational system without offering a so-called sanction of the system at the same timen - or without committing some 'injustice'.)?

Or can one only be an objectivist (ie follow objectivist principles WITHOUT comproimise) IF one ALREADY lives in a society where objectivist principles are properly accepted and enforced? If so, then by what principles is one properly guided BEFORE objectivist principles can be practiced? Is an objectivist supposed to follow subjectivist principles, or the principles of intrinsicism, or of altruistic, or statist, or some other form of primacy of consciousness philosophy? And HOW does one determine which non-objectivist principle he will follow in any given instance? Isnt such a person left with JUST a 'cost-benefit' analysis?

Now I REALLY hope, when you get VoR, that you read the article on scholarships, as I mentioned before. Though at this point I am not sure whether it will resolve this 'dichotomy' you perceive, or just provide you another example in which you believe AR is 'compromising' her objectivist principles (ie accepting a non-objectivist principle in the hopes of achieving some objectivist end). In other words, I hope it makes you see that she is NOT pursuing an 'ends justify the means' approach to philosophy.

As it stands, though, it appears you have many premises to first overturn before that will happen. To help further you towards that end, I have one other set of questions for you:

When a man uses force in defence against the initiation of force, is he sanctioning the initiator's force? Is he sanctioning evil?

If, in the process of defending against the initiation of force, another person is injured by the force used by the defender, who is morally responsible for that third party's injuries? If it is not the defender, again, does he somehow grant 'moral respectability' to the initiator via this injury?

If you know the objectivist answers to these questions, see if you cannot apply the principles upon which they are derived to the topic at hand as well as to their corresponding examples.

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RadCap ...

I got home tonight and found the Voice of Reason on my doorstep ... I read Schwartz's essay on the Perversion of Liberty. I was glad to see he was far less 'emotionally agitated' while writing it than the one on Moral Sanctions --- it adds tremendously to his credibility.

I'm not ready to fully comment on it at this point ... I just want to recommend that when someone starts talking about this 'libertarian' subject in the future, quickly point them to this essay by Schwartz --- it is a very good article, and I'm impressed by his analysis. It couples exactly with the view of libertarianism openly espoused by Konkin's New Manifesto I referred to earlier, showing the tremendous problems with libertarianism in its early history.

I'm not saying problems don't exist now within the LP --- I'm trying to find out what the truth is. I know that my local friends who identify 'somewhat' as Libertarians, whom I've known for 20 yrs and more, do not meet the criteria of the New Left and other grossly distorted people who obviously populated the original LP movement. Perhaps that is why my perception of Libertarians is distorted from the whole movement --- I only know the local folks who are looking for a freer country, but do believe government and a solid ethics are essential.

The references Schwartz provides will be very helpful as I work my way thru the history. Too bad this isn't available on the web --- in contrast to the obvious anger Schwartz displays in his 'On Moral Sanctions', when one has read only the 'On Moral Sanctions' essay, it leaves an impression not at all representative of the Perversion of Liberty article. More people need to read this essay.

I'll get back to you on your questions on both Schwartz and the ones you just listed after I have researched a good bit more. Give me a few days.

;)

kgvl

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RadCap –

When using force against another sanctioning force, I am NOT sanctioning evil --- I am defending against unjust force --- justly.

If, by using force myself in defense against someone else using force, a third party is injured … I would not be responsible if I were not reckless in the use of my defensive force. If, however, I am reckless, or if I transit from defensive force to aggressive force, thereby acting as a law enforcement agent … and assuming I have no such authorization to act as such … then if I injure some innocent party, or perhaps even injure the aggressor beyond the extent of injury he has caused me, I would [and should] be held accountable to the extent that I was reckless or acting illegally. Response to force doesn't permit us to 'go ape'.

I read Schwartz’s essay [Perversion of Liberty]. He makes a lot of very good points. I didn’t support anarchism before I read it … I don’t support anarchism now, but Schwartz has laid out a very good argument about the severe problems with anarchy that make it easier to defend against arguments from anarchists. I still see Schwartz arguing from the base that he has decided up front that libertarianism is evil, and argues his case from there. I agree, back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s it was predominantly irrational people involved in libertarianism. Today is 2004 … the people involved are changing --- the old hippies are dying off [did you guys ever actually know any hippies ?? … they were pretty common in many places I ended up in during the 60’s and 70’s]. People who want freedom [and lots of them without understanding the underlying ethics, just like most of the first citizens of America] are turning toward the Libertarian Party. Those extremists who want only the freedom to do anything, like kiddie-sex, drugs, etc., are not, IMHO, anywhere near a dominant force in the LP, as they used to be. If rational members in the LP will start standing up to them, they can be delivered the message that their insanity is not condoned. Some of the older anarchists still are involved [H. Browne, for sure], but even Mr. Browne acknowledged to me in discussion that there may need to be some form of limited government in the end. Mr. Browne will be long gone from this world before we ever return to even the basic structure of America, let alone any ‘new and improved’ form. We are an awful long way from getting anywhere near that.

Schwartz makes a common mistake, that so many people make in all fields … he projects rationalizations about what will happen far down the road in the future based on supporting the LP now. He excludes a myriad of variables that will be relevant in the ultimate outcome: for certain, the influence of Objectivist philosophy on the LP platform as more Objectivists stand up and hold firm to their ethics will affect the LP. The end-product of any culture based on moral relativists and anarchists will be ultimately weaker than one founded on solid ethics ---esp. Objectivist ethics, so even if there is a ‘split’ down the line, rational people will prevail if they choose to. Hopefully the lessons we have learned from 'losing America' will persist in the history books so that the next generation to succeed will not allow the same mistakes to destroy their creation. There will be numerous opportunities to hold in-check any effort to march the LP toward anarchy if it should ever achieve the roll-back to basic freedoms sought by all of us.

All arguments about libertarians, and esp. Libertarians, should be based on what the present individual Libertarians represent, and the consistency of their positions into the future, not what the derelicts of the past stood for. I know there are some 'nutcases' still involved ... but it is my intent to drive as many of them away as possible, instead of letting them drive me away. Unitl there is an Objectivist Party, there are no other rational options available to fight the political war.

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On Pragmatism:

A ‘pure’ Objectivist would do as Galt did --- leave this society and build a new one. I believe most of us agree that the majority of Objectivists are not going to do that. So, by staying, we already are practicing a certain amount of ‘pragmatism’. Further references to pragmatism by Rand indicate she still viewed it in the negative, deriving directly from Kantian principles.

So, in being practical … or pragmatic … in order to exist in our current society and still live rationally, we can 1) choose to withdraw and interact with ‘outsiders’ only to the extent necessary to survive, isolating ourselves among our Objectivist friends and ‘hoping’ for a future time [not available to us in the present] at which all will be ‘right with the world’… or 2) we can choose to ‘do something’ about the nature of our continuing problems and conflicts with current culture … using as much of the system as ‘practical’ to change it toward our rational self-interest.

Rand, in her proposal to extend the Fairness Doctrine to education, was being pragmatic … she was using an existing tool [the laws of our government] to, as you say, “introduce some small measure of individual freedom by restricting the govt’s actions”. I have no problem with that. I am merely trying to establish that Rand, like us, was no John Galt … she did not run away to start a Galt’s Gulch. She stayed here in the real world, just like us, and tried to do something to change it for the better. Galt is an ideal asymptote … a fictional one at that … he, and the society he represents, are the standard to pursue. It [along with Rand’s works] has an ominous parallel to fundamentalist religions in some respects: an ideal beyond the capability of mere mortal man to achieve --- except, we know the difference … Galt’s character, and Galt’s world ARE achievable by man --- by rational men and women who pursue it diligently, not passively. Superstitious religious ideals and worlds are not achievable. For those who recognize that distinction, and the distinction in the goals of Objectivism vs. religion, there is a reason in the present to actively pursue those goals … IN THE PRESENT !! I just can’t read Rand and come away with the perception that I should sit around and accept the present culture cannot be changed, therefore I shouldn’t try. Rand’s world is a world of movers and shakers, not idle theorists.

The point to be aware of is that Rand was indeed practicing pragmatism … practicality … in the face of the enormous evils of our altruistic government. By what measure did she determine how much she would ‘use’ the system ?? How far does one go in being ‘pragmatic’ … is it not a subjective determination ?? Rand certainly wouldn’t condone creating a new evil in society to justify minimizing another one. But how much does one submit to ‘using’ existing ‘evils’ in an attempt to subvert another evil? Rand commented in an essay shortly after Reagan was elected president that she had not voted in the presidential elections because there is ‘a limit to the morality of being pragmatic’. [i’ll have to verify the exact phrase, but I’m confident I haven’t misconstrued its intent]. She felt the Dems and Reps were finally too far gone to deserve her support … I can only surmise from the context of her words [i can’t confirm] that previously she had voted [probably Rep], viewing it as a pragmatic action, bounded by some comfortable limit of morality determined within her own self.

I cannot in any way condone the beliefs and actions of the radical left-wing libertarians of Rand’s days --- the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. I despised them too, and I grew up in that era. I understand her hatred of them. Rand is dead and gone. I must act in my own rational self-interest --- I am NOT stupid. I can’t, and won’t, allow any other person to make up my mind for me, or tell me how I will think. I spent a good deal of time discussing politics with the local Libertarians at the recent convention I attended. I cornered the three presidential candidates who showed up --- two of them one-on-one for extended discussions. These guys are Constitutionalists, not anarchists. They have ethics and believe in morals, not moral relativism. The LP platform is not an anarchist’s platform, though it has a flaw [i stated it earlier]. Our present US Constitution has its flaws, or we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today. I cannot accept the argument of fundamentalist Objectivists that all Libertarian Party members are nutcases, anarchists, and moral relativists. It is in my best rational selfish interest to support a political party that advances the causes for freedom, rather than opposes it as do the Dems and Reps. There is plenty of time for me and other Objectivists to proselytize Objectivist principles to those LP members who want freedom, but don’t understand exactly what that means. Afterall, Rand told us that the only way to achieve freedom was by either force, or persuasion. If I don’t engage, I can’t persuade … if I don’t persuade, I will someday either be forced into total submission [NOT ME] or I will have to repel with force.

I choose persuasion as the best rational option at present, and will engage actively with Libertarians to effect change. None of you are in any way obligated to follow, or even respect, my decision … arrive at your own determination based on your own investigation and thinking.

Respectfully ...

kgvl

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kgvl

In order to pursue a line of reasoning you presented, I asked a number of very specific questions. I am disappointed that you did not respond to them, but instead essentially just reasserted your original premise.

If you are indeed interested in a conversation on the subject, I would ask you to please address those questions.

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OK ... I parsed out 12 questions from your post: some of them I addressed in my last post, but I will repeat those remarks aligned with the questions ... some with a bit more explanation.

Here are the first 5 and the last 2 questions from your post, with answers --- leaving me questions 6-10 to answer in a future post [tomorrow].

Q1: I take it by that very long post, your answer to my question is that you still DO believe AR was being 'pragmatic' - or as you now call it - 'practical' (though you use the new term to mean exactly the same thing you meant by the old one). In other words, I take it you still believe AR had an 'ends justify the means' mentality when it came to the 'real world'.

And Q2: What evil is AR sanctioning - what injustice is AR suggesting - when she states an objectivist should try to take control of the government's power to distribute the funds it has stolen in order to teach captive students that their enslavement is immoral? By trying to control the govt purse in order to eliminate it altogether, how does AR grant that evil any moral respectability?

A1, A2: Rand never grants this government any moral respectability --- she merely advocates using it against itself. Rand, in her proposal to extend the Fairness Doctrine to education, was being pragmatic … she was using an existing tool [the laws of our government] to, as you say, “introduce some small measure of individual freedom by restricting the govt’s actions”. By doing so, a new government policy [law] would be introduced that would exert control [at the point of a gun] over all persons at all educational facilities. It wouldn’t matter if a person agreed or disagreed with the subject --- whether the subject was Objectively good or Objectively bad --- he/she [each INDIVIDUAL] would have no choice in the matter .. it would be forced on them. The evil component is, as always, creating a desired outcome by FORCE. Each INDIVIDUAL would then come under more government compulsion --- not less – even though the goal was laudable. It is incontestably a policy of the ends-justifies-the-means. I personally have no serious problem with what Rand proposed, though I wouldn’t have proposed it myself --- making me almost as much of a pragmatist as Rand in this particular case. It’s the compromising position we place ourselves in when we choose to stay and fight non-violently for change. I am merely trying to establish that Rand, like us, was no John Galt … she did not run away to start a Galt’s Gulch. She stayed here in the real world, just like us, and tried to do something to change it for the better. Galt is an ideal asymptote … a fictional one at that … he, and the society he represents, are the standard to pursue. It [along with Rand’s works] has an ominous parallel to fundamentalist religions in some respects: an ideal beyond the capability of mere mortal man to achieve --- except, we know the difference … Galt’s character, and Galt’s world ARE achievable by man --- by rational men and women who pursue it diligently, not passively. Superstitious religious ideals and worlds are not achievable. For those who recognize that distinction, and the distinction in the goals of Objectivism vs. religion, there is a reason in the present to actively pursue those goals … IN THE PRESENT !! I just can’t read Rand and come away with the perception that I should sit around and accept the present culture cannot be changed, therefore I shouldn’t try. Rand’s world [at least John Galt’s world] is a world of movers and shakers, not idle theorists.

Rand’s pirate Dag Hammerstad ‘stole’ [reacquired by force] monies from the government that had been taken illegally [thru taxation, fees, etc] on behalf of a number of folks other than himself. He returned those monies to the rightful owners when they moved to Galt’s Gulch. He returned EXACTLY the amount that had been stolen …. No more, no less. He had accessed government records to know the exact figure. To return more would be theft from some other person who may not even qualify for residence at Galt’s Gulch. Rand’s policy for extending the Fairness Doctrine to education was open-ended. It establishes no figure of adequate compensation, as such, there is no way of knowing when just compensation has been achieved and the transition to theft has occurred. Is is not adequate under Objectivism to make an ‘assumption’ about how big the amount is, or to rationalize its continuance based on some statement as ‘well, the government’s been taking our money for a long time --- they owe us’. Objectivism DEMANDS exact --- fair !! --- compensation … anything beyond that is theft/fraud in the other direction. This is why advocating the use of any existing ‘evil’ mechanism of government in an attempt to ‘right a wrong’ will most always backfire. It incorporates the same underlying failures of non-Objectivist philosophies as its legal basis … it makes no distinction between good and bad. All it wants is control !!

The point to be aware of is that Rand was indeed practicing pragmatism … practicality … in the face of the enormous evils of our altruistic government. By what measure did she determine how much she would ‘use’ the system ?? How far does one go in being ‘pragmatic’ … is it not a subjective determination ?? Rand certainly wouldn’t condone creating a new evil in society to justify minimizing another one. But how much does one submit to ‘using’ existing ‘evils’ in an attempt to subvert another evil? Rand commented in an essay shortly after Reagan was elected president that she had not voted in the presidential elections because there is ‘a limit to the morality of being pragmatic’. [i’ll have to verify the exact phrase, but I’m confident I haven’t misconstrued its intent]. She felt the Dems and Reps were finally too far gone to deserve her support … I can only surmise from the context of her words [i can’t confirm] that previously she had voted [probably Rep], viewing it as a pragmatic action, bounded by some comfortable limit of morality determined within her own self.

A remark by you: Put simply, the evil is already total.

My reply: The evil is only total when you and I and everyone else cease to oppose it.

Q3: And as such, I have to ask you, of what use - if any - do you believe objectivist principles can have in an non-objectivist society?

A3: As Rand explicitly demonstrated in Atlas Shrugged, Objectivist society is incompatible with non-Objectivist society. Once a person who professes Objectivist principles chooses to live in a non-Objectivist society, those persons have an obligation to, at the very least, not contribute to the furtherance of the non-Objective society. We stay in a non-Objectivist society [i do anyway] because I have nowhere else to go in this world. That is a contradiction for an Objectivist … for by living in a non-Objectivist society and continuing to work toward their own success, the creative/productive Objectivist still provides fodder and table scraps for those parasites who make the rules. The result is just what the parasites hope for --- they keep sustaining their life while we keep producing. It is appropriate, therefore, IMHO, for an Objectivist to simultaneously work to alleviate the oppressive rules. Thus I have no problem with Rand’s pragmatism. Caution is indicated, however, as t is dangerous to manipulate an evil in an attempt to ‘do good’… the ‘rule’ of unintended consequences often prevails. I’m not saying it is something that should not be done … Rand herself stated that an Objective person owes no morality to a person [or government as a group of persons] who/which has initiated force against that person. It is best to eliminate the evil entirely, but not ‘practical’ in most real-world applications. Thus we struggle on, each of us evaluating and making our own individual judgment about just how ‘pragmatic’ we can justify being without compromising our Objectivist principles. The real-world goal of Objectivists, IMHO, should be to establish a geographical region governed by laws [politics] consistent with Objectivist ethics. I think you probably agree with that, since it is a fundamental goal of Objectivists stated by others long before me.

Q4: In such a society, CAN one act according to objectivist principles and thus be an objectivist?

A4: Yes – predominantly, but not in the purist sense of the term --- certainly not to the extent of qualifying as a John Galt ! Those who survive off our labor continue to survive because we continue to produce --- it’s a psychological co-dependence which they are happy with, but we know we must escape from. The question is whether we choose to take steps to escape from it by changing the rules of the society in which we live, or continue to evade.

Q5: If so, how (for instance, provide an example of how one could seek to change the educational system without offering a so-called sanction of the system at the same timen - or without committing some 'injustice'.)?

A5: A dream of mine … perhaps one which I will probably never take any step to initiate given my preoccupation with my current goals --- but should ‘someone else’ do so, I would support it unequivocally to the point of begging for a position or an opportunity to help it become a reality: Establish a private university, operated on Objectivist principles, pursuing truth and logic, and educating its students to be rational thinkers and problem solvers. This university would have to turn out more than Objectivist philosophers ... it needs to generate scientists, engineers, businees leaders, lawyers, etc. It needs to operate its own high level research programs and show by example what creative minds can do when untethered. This university would accept no state or federal funding … only from private individuals with no strings attached. Funds generated from patents acquired by inventors [be they staff, faculty, or students] would be distributed in accordance with fair agreements reflecting accurately the contributions of the inventors and the university [facilities, etc]. !! If the university was already adequately compensated for its facilities via a rent agreement between faculty/researchers and the university, then the university’s share would be minimal to nothing. Students would have to pay for their education without monies acquired via taxation or any other means of forceful appropriation … and paying tuition is no guarantee of receive the sanction of a degree. Perhaps the name of the degree should be changed to reflect its distinction from all other universities, so that people will know unmistakably where the graduate received his/her education [great marketing tool]. Its Constitution would forbid evasion of reality or compromising an active search for the truth or pandering to any group or non-Objectivist philosophy, now and for all time into the future [this doesn’t preclude studying non-Objectivist philosophy --- know your enemy !!]. It would forbid all involvement of any government entity to regulate it, though in practice OSHA can still come in at present despite all aversion to Federal funding. It maintains as strict a separation of Education and Government as current laws permit, then works to output lawyers who would fight in courts to change the laws; rational thinkers as scientists, engineers who would provide the missing leadership in corporate research divisions; and a myriad of other competent professionals. Also, all these graduates would vote for legislative representatives to support the changes.

A single beacon of educational brilliance in the vast darkness of our country could turn out more creative, productive, and successful leaders than all the current universities of our country combined !! … and place the spotlight directly on the failings of our government funding system by showing, by example, that rational thinking is the only path to success and happiness!

Lead by Example … NOT by Decree !!

..... skip to Q11 ----

Q11: When a man uses force in defence against the initiation of force, is he sanctioning the initiator's force? Is he sanctioning evil?

and Q12: If, in the process of defending against the initiation of force, another person is injured by the force used by the defender, who is morally responsible for that third party's injuries? If it is not the defender, again, does he somehow grant 'moral respectability' to the initiator via this injury?

A11, A12: When using force against another sanctioning force, I am NOT sanctioning evil --- I am defending against unjust force --- justly.

If, by using force myself in defense against someone else using force, a third party is injured … I would not be responsible if I were not reckless in the use of my defensive force. If, however, I am reckless, or if I transit from defensive force to aggressive force, thereby acting as a law enforcement agent … and assuming I have no such authorization to act as such … then if I injure someone, I would [and should] be held accountable to the extent that I was reckless or acting illegally.

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"Each INDIVIDUAL would then come under more government compulsion --- not less – even though the goal was laudable."

This is the foundation of your entire argument. You claim Ms. Rand was being "practical" by suggesting an injustice to achieve some measure of supposed justice. And you claim that such is not only proper, but the ONLY way an objectivist can live in a non-objectivist society.

However, your claim that the 'doctrine' would create MORE govt compulsion is entirely FALSE (as I already tried to indicate, apparently without success). As such, all the rest of your premises about injustice and being practical are false as well (because they proceed from this false foundation).

As I clearly stated, govt ALREADY dictates a SPECIFIC content for cirriculum. In other words, the FORCE was already being used against the children and the parents when it came to both content and funding. Govt DICTATED what was and was NOT permissible to be taught. AR's 'Fairness Doctrine' would not change this at all. It would not add one bit of force against the children or their parents.

Consider this example:

No 'doctrine': Little Bobby Brady is forced to learn govt content

(specifically: Statism).

'Doctrine': Little Bobby Brady is forced to learn govt content

(Statism AND objectivism).

In BOTH instances Little Bobby is FORCED to learn govt content. WHAT that content is does not change the nature of the act. No matter what the initiator of force demands (learn this or learn that), it doesnt alter the fact that he is initiating force. No NEW force is added, nor is any force taken away, if the initiator changes the content of his demand.

Then consider Mr. Brady:

No 'doctrine': Mr. Brady is forced to finance and send Little Bobby to govt school.

'Doctrine': Mr. Brady is forced to finance and send Little Bobby to govt school.

Again, in BOTH instances Mr. Brady is FORCED to finance the govt and submit his son to its dictates. The 'Doctrine' does not change the nature of these acts. In both instances force is still INITIATED against him. No NEW force is added (because Mr. Brady NEVER had freedom to choose or dictate specific content), nor is any taken away (though one COULD argue that freedom of choice has been added where none previously exissted. However, since that is immaterial to my argument, I will simply let it stand).

So - EACH of THESE individuals does NOT have MORE force used against him. At the very LEAST it stays the SAME for each. This means NO new injustice is committed against them (and as I stated, it might be argued that some small measure of justice might have been afforded them).

HOWEVER, there IS one set of individuals who DO have force used against them where none was used before. Who? THE GOVT. The 'Fairness Doctrine' is force used against the GOVT. It is force used AGAINST those individuals who FORCE Mr. Brady to send Little Bobby to govt school - who FORCE him to pay for that school - and who FORCE Little Bobby to learn govt content.

In other words, the NEW force is being used AGAINST the INITIATORS of force. There is a word for such force:

DEFENSIVE force.

And objectivism has a moral appraisal for such force:

it is JUST.

Put simply, AR's suggestion for an educational equivalent of the "Fairness Doctrine" was NOT a compromise - it was NOT pragmatic - it was NOT 'practical' in your usage of the term. AR did NOT suggest a small injustice in the attempt to achieve a just end. She did NOT accept NOR practice a CONTRADICTION.

She suggested a small JUSTICE in the hopes of eventually being able to achieving a JUST end. And THAT is the OPPOSITE of YOUR claim.

Because you failed to identify EXACTLY who force was being used against, and thus could not identify the moral NATURE of that force, you accepted as UNJUST the ONLY bit of justice involved in the affair (I would say ironic, if it were not so serious a reversal). Furthermore, because of this failure, you have labeled Ayn Rand as a pragmatist/compromiser, and seek to justify OTHER compromises of objectivist principles - to make 'subjective determinations' - on the basis that objectivist principles are UNWORKABLE in a 'non-objectivist' society.

THAT is the heart of libertarianism. And that is why it is WRONG.

(The rest of your arguments all fall apart because they flow from the exact same error - that Objectivist principle cannot work in non-objectivist societies. That one must use non-objectivist principles to achieve objectivist ends - the ends justify the means. AR railed against such a philosophy explicitly and constantly throughout her life. For you not only to have drawn the opposite conclusion from her works, but for you to also suggest she was a proponent and PRACTITIONER of it, suggests you have SERIOUSLY misunderstood her philosophy.)

--

BTW - have you read "A question of scholarships" yet?

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Because you failed to identify EXACTLY who force was being used against, and thus could not identify the moral NATURE of that force, you accepted as UNJUST the ONLY bit of justice involved in the affair (I would say ironic, if it were not so serious a reversal).  Furthermore, because of this failure, you have labeled Ayn Rand as a pragmatist/compromiser, and seek to justify OTHER compromises of objectivist principles - to make 'subjective determinations' - on the basis that objectivist principles are UNWORKABLE in a 'non-objectivist' society.

THAT is the heart of libertarianism.  And that is why it is WRONG.

You nailed it perfectly--as usual! ;)

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What do people who think reality is a dream and people who think reality is objective have in common with divine revelationers and rational minds have in common with pragmatists, altruists, nihilists, enviers, destroyers, and egoists?

Libertarianism! :-/

"I don't want to think about reality, or reason, or principles. Freedom works. Intellectual property is 'coercion'. 'Consentual' sex with a 4-yr old should be legal. The US should never engage in armed conflict. The best government is that which governs least (i.e. not at all). We should have competing governments."

There isn't room for debate about it. Those who view ideas as pointless toys to pragmatically use and discard, or those who never look past the superficial surface may view Libertarianism as "the freedom movement." But Objectivism is about rigorous, ruthless identification of the truth. It is not a social fad, nor a political party. It's the philosophy for living life on earth.

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