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So if I get mugged, I am responsible for it. Whatever this view is, it is not Objectivism.
I don't like the sound of what Mr. Daedelus is saying, but I'd like to focus on one specific point: you are responsible for every choice you make. Nobody else is responsible for your choices, you alone are. If that is not true, then I cannot imagine what "responsibility" can possibly refer to. Responsibility is not the same as blame -- blame attaches to a persome for their immoral choices. That is why we don't blame people for innocent accidents which cause harm, like dropping someone's favorite vase, but despite not being blameworthy, the person who dropped the vase is still responsible for dropping it. So too is the person who allowed the vase-dropper to pick up the vase. By chosing to walk through the park, you are responsible for consequences of your choice.

(In opposing an evil government, the existence of such government is not a consequence of your choice, which is why you have no responsibility for its existence.)

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So if I get mugged, I am responsible for it. Whatever this view is, it is not Objectivism.

If you walk drunkenly through a crime-ridden part of a city with money sticking out of your pockets, are you acting as responsibly as a man who takes stronger precautions?

You continue to quote Miss Rand out of context and thereby misrepresent her views. You cannot take her quotes about one situation (a war and the status of "innocents") and apply them acontextually to every other situation that suits you.

When Ayn Rand wrote that "a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it," she was not talking only about dictatorships or countries at war. She explicitly stated, "a political system, good or bad." If she did not mean that we "bear the responsibility" for the political system that we have, why did she say "we"?

That does not mean that I am responsible for the rights violations of every politician in America, including those I voted against. In the context in which she said it, Miss Rand means that if our government attacks a free nation and that nation retaliates, I am a legitimate target. That is all it means. It doesn't mean that I am responsible for what the goons from Homeland Security are doing to our own citizens.

If you could live outside of our political system, you would not need to worry about what Homeland Security is doing to our own citizens. However, if your life and liberty are dependent on the U.S. government, then you do need to be concerned, and bear responsibility for the political system established in your name. Ayn Rand:

"If you could have a life independent of the system, so that you wouldn't be drawn into an unjust war, you would not need to be concerned about politics. But we should care about having the right social system, because our lives are dependent on it -- because a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it."

Some citizens are responsible for it. To assign responsibility to them all, both those who fight against it and those who fight for it, is crude collectivism and a reversal of the Objectivist view of responsibility.

Ayn Rand recognized that there are those who fight for evil government and those who fight against it. She also recognized that everyone must pay for the sins of their government: if "they couldn't overturn their bad government and choose a better one, then they have to pay the price for the sins of their government."

The inability to eliminate evil does not constitute a sanction. According to your interpretation, Miss Rand is responsible for the evil in the world, because, after all, she did not eliminate it.

I simply agree with Ayn Rand that "all of us are paying for the sins of" our government. That's how reality works.

Fortunately, we do not have to accept your interpretation, because Miss Rand explained what one must do to avoid giving that sanction. She was asked, specifically with respect to that quote, “How can a person withdraw his support without losing his freedom in the process?” Here is her answer:

. . .

I don't disagree with any of the statements. One can accept government benefits and still work to change the government.

Edited by Daedalus
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Daedalus:

I have given you direct quotes in which Miss Rand defines who is and who is not responsible for the government in our current situation (a welfare state). If you are going to ignore or evade them and continue to insist that we are all responsible, there is no point in responding further.

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Daedalus:

I have given you direct quotes in which Miss Rand defines who is and who is not responsible for the government in our current situation (a welfare state). If you are going to ignore or evade them and continue to insist that we are all responsible, there is no point in responding further.

I am always grateful for any quotes from Ayn Rand. However, I do not see that the ones you offered in any way contradict her point that we bear the responsibility for "the political system, good or bad, [that] is established in our name." Holding that "the young people of today are not responsible for the immoral state of the world into which they were born" is not inconsistent with saying that we citizens must bear the responsibility, pay for the sins of our government.

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So you see no contradiction between the statement, "There cannot be individual responsibility for something that is the government’s fault" and the statement, "we all must bear responsibility for the political system that is established in our name"?

Here is another one:

"The same moral principles and considerations apply to the issue of accepting social security, unemployment insurance, or other payments of that kind. It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the "right" to force employers and unwilling coworkers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money -- and they would not advance the cause of their of freedom if they left the money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration." (The Question of Scholarships in “The Voice of Reason”, pg 43)

So, the victims who opposed the laws have a right to any refund of their own money, whereas those who advocated the laws have no such right -- but "we citizens must bear the responsibility, pay for the sins of our government." I assume you see no contradiction there, either.

Here is more:

"The victims (those who oppose the welfare-state) do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare state laws offer them some restitution, the victims should take it." (The Question of Scholarships in “The Voice of Reason”, pg 42 Emphasis in the original)

Why would Miss Rand emphasize that the victims should take any restitution if she believed "we must all bear responsibility and pay for the sins of our government"?

It is blatantly clear that Miss Rand does not believe that everyone, victims and perpetrators alike, “must bear responsibility and pay for the sins” of the welfare state. It is clear that whenever the victims can avoid “paying for the sins”, she thinks they should. You are misrepresenting her position.

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So you see no contradiction between the statement, "There cannot be individual responsibility for something that is the government’s fault" and the statement, "we all must bear responsibility for the political system that is established in our name"?

It is obvious that Ayn Rand made a distinction between responsibility for the government that we have in power and responsibility for the particular actions of that government.

Here is another one:

"The same moral principles and considerations apply to the issue of accepting social security, unemployment insurance, or other payments of that kind. It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the "right" to force employers and unwilling coworkers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money -- and they would not advance the cause of their of freedom if they left the money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration." (The Question of Scholarships in “The Voice of Reason”, pg 43)

As I said before, one can claim government benefits without endorsing that government in its every root and branch.

So, the victims who opposed the laws have a right to any refund of their own money, whereas those who advocated the laws have no such right -- but "we citizens must bear the responsibility, pay for the sins of our government." I assume you see no contradiction there, either.

No, contrary to some of her critics, I do not believe Ayn Rand engaged in self-contradiction. We all pay for the sins of the welfare state. Some of us pay a bit more than others.

Here is more:

"The victims (those who oppose the welfare-state) do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare state laws offer them some restitution, the victims should take it." (The Question of Scholarships in “The Voice of Reason”, pg 42 Emphasis in the original)

Why would Miss Rand emphasize that the victims should take any restitution if she believed "we must all bear responsibility and pay for the sins of our government"?

Why does one action rule out the other? Why not a system of give and take? Involuntarily "give" in the form of taxes, voluntarily "take" in the form of government scholarships?

It is blatantly clear that Miss Rand does not believe that everyone, victims and perpetrators alike, “must bear responsibility and pay for the sins” of the welfare state. It is clear that whenever the victims can avoid “paying for the sins”, she thinks they should. You are misrepresenting her position.

I suppose that it is possible that when Miss Rand wrote "we bear the responsibility" for the "political system, good or bad, [that] is established in our name," she really didn't intend for "we" and "our" to apply to herself and other Americans.

I will grant the possibility, but not the likelihood.

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Daedalus, I have two questions...

Is there are way to gauge degree of responsibility or are all U.S. voters equally responsible for their government. If you voted for the government, are you just as responsible as someone who voted against it and as someone who did not voted at all?

Second: what is the use of having such a concept of responbility?

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Daedalus, I have two questions...

Is there are way to gauge degree of responsibility or are all U.S. voters equally responsible for their government. If you voted for the government, are you just as responsible as someone who voted against it and as someone who did not voted at all?

Second: what is the use of having such a concept of responbility?

Second question first: responsibility is simply cause and effect dynamics within a social context. If one wishes to avoid X, one must be prepared to do Y. That leaves the matter of how to discover Y. Obviously, some attempts at political change work better than others -- just as some methods of starting a fire work better than others. The Libertarian Party path to laissez-faire clearly does not work. Why not try Ayn Rand's?

First question second: obviously not all U.S. voters are equally responsible for their government -- anymore than Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn were equal to members of the Soviet Politburo in responsibility for dictatorship in the USSR. Yet no matter what Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn contributed toward the overthrow of their country's government, they still had to pay the price for the sins of their government: the absence of a free market, the suppression of individuality, the secret police, the torture chambers, the gulag. And they would have had to pay even more dearly if the United States had nuked all major population/military centers in the 1950s to prevent Soviet parity with U.S. weapons strength. As it should have.

"If by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness, they couldn't overturn their bad government and choose a better one, then they have to pay the price for the sins of their government—as all of us are paying for the sins of ours." --Ayn Rand

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responsibility is simply cause and effect dynamics within a social context. If one wishes to avoid X, one must be prepared to do Y. That leaves the matter of how to discover Y. Obviously, some attempts at political change work better than others -- just as some methods of starting a fire work better than others. The Libertarian Party path to laissez-faire clearly does not work. Why not try Ayn Rand's?

What was it about the example of two government thugs arresting a person for surfing the internet that caused you to concentrate on the "responsibility" of the victim? What is it about this case that warrants such an emphasis on his responsibility?

Saying that "the library Internet user must ultimately assume responsibility for what happened to him" might be appropriate if he had actively campaigned for for censorship laws. And you might say he bears some responsibility if it was known that he avoid politics altogether. But we have no such information about the victim. So why do you think the important aspect to point out in this case is that people are responsible for their government?

You also said "He should have made sure he had a government that wouldn't harrass him." As at least one other person has pointed out, this is simply false. You are demanding the impossible because no individual has this power.

Imagine that the person arrested for surfing the internet were Leonard Peikoff or Yaron Brook -- to name two people who are unimpeachable in living up to their responsibility to fight for the respect of individual rights. Would you have made the same comments about his requirement to "ultimately assume responsibility for what happened to him"? Would you say he "should have made sure he had a government that wouldn't harrass him"? If so, why? If not, why not.

In fact, I have a better, real-life example. A few years ago, Leonard Peikoff had two manuscript pages stolen from him by the Library of Congress. Does he bear the ultimate responsibility for this theft? How should he have "made sure the government wouldn't harrass him"? How do you think he would react if your first response to him upon learning of the theft was to talk about how he is ultimately responsible for it?

Mark

Edited by mwickens
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What was it about the example of two government thugs arresting a person for surfing the internet that caused you to concentrate on the "responsibility" of the victim? What is it about this case that warrants such an emphasis on his responsibility?

Look at the title of this thread. If fascism is to be thwarted, then we the citizens, the ones who would pay dearly for the loss of our freedom, are the ones who must take action.

Saying that "the library Internet user must ultimately assume responsibility for what happened to him" might be appropriate if he had actively campaigned for for censorship laws. And you might say he bears some responsibility if it was known that he avoid politics altogether. But we have no such information about the victim. So why do you think the important aspect to point out in this case is that people are responsible for their government?

Do you think our liberties are being well protected? Are taxation and inflation being kept in check? Is government wealth redistribution nothing much to worry about? Is federal intervention into the economy no real threat? Is the Constitution still an iron-clad shield against the abuse of power? If so, we can sit back, relax and tune into American Idol. If not, then we -- you, I, Joe Blow, and the fellows in the public library -- are not doing enough. If not us, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?

You also said "He should have made sure he had a government that wouldn't harrass him." As at least one other person has pointed out, this is simply false. You are demanding the impossible because no individual has this power.

By the same token no individual has the power to impose a dictatorship. How then do you suppose whole nations are lost?

Imagine that the person arrested for surfing the internet were Leonard Peikoff or Yaron Brook -- to name two people who are unimpeachable in living up to their responsibility to fight for the respect of individual rights. Would you have made the same comments about his requirement to "ultimately assume responsibility for what happened to him"? Would you say he "should have made sure he had a government that wouldn't harrass him"? If so, why? If not, why not.

I won't speak for Dr. Peikoff. I'll speak for myself. I have not done enough. I have not stemmed the tide of statism. I have not reversed the march towards socialism. When the goons come to put me in chains, I'm not going to evade my own responsibility. I'm not going to complain that there is no John Galt to rescue me.

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I have not done enough. I have not stemmed the tide of statism. I have not reversed the march towards socialism. When the goons come to put me in chains, I'm not going to evade my own responsibility. I'm not going to complain that there is no John Galt to rescue me.

There is a limit to what any one person can do. Since human beings possess volition, you cannot dictate the content of their consciousness just as you cannot dictate their actions. If one does everything that can reasonably be expected to oppose fascism, that is, if one does what Miss Rand says we are responsible for doing (see the earlier quotes I provided), and fascism happens anyway, then only an omnipotent being can be said to have "evaded responsibility".

If you wish to hold such a view, that is your right. But this is not Miss Rand's view, as is clear from the quotes I provided.

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If citizens "cannot overturn their bad government and choose a better one, then they have to pay the price for the sins of their government." That is Ayn Rand's view. And that is my view.

As to the question of what "one person can do," bear in mind that responsibility begins with the individual. Just as there are no rights that a group has that an individual does not have (see Ayn Rand's "Collectivized Rights"), so there is no group responsibility separate from individual responsibility.

If fascism arrives in America, clearly we have not done everything that needed to be done to stop it. That is a self-evident truth.

Edited by Daedalus
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I don't like the sound of what Mr. Daedelus is saying, but I'd like to focus on one specific point: you are responsible for every choice you make. Nobody else is responsible for your choices, you alone are. By chosing to walk through the park, you are responsible for consequences of your choice.
I agree we are responsible for the consequences of our choices. But are you saying that the choice to walk through the park, or the choice to live in society instead of living alone, is also the choice to be mugged?
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If citizens "cannot overturn their bad government and choose a better one, then they have to pay the price for the sins of their government." That is Ayn Rand's view. And that is my view.

As to the question of what "one person can do," bear in mind that responsibility begins with the individual. Just as there are no rights that a group has that an individual does not have (see Ayn Rand's "Collectivized Rights"), so there is no group responsibility separate from individual responsibility.

The individual's responsibility is to do what he can.

If fascism arrives in America, clearly we have not done everything that needed to be done to stop it. That is a self-evident truth.

If by "we" you mean the culture as a whole, yes, it's self-evident, but irrelevant to your point and to the argument being made against it. An individual has no power to change the culture single-handedly. Not only is philosophical change a difficult and long-range project, other men -- the ones you need to convince -- have free will. If you or I do everything in our power to stop fascism, but the culture still drifts toward fascism, we have not defaulted on our responsibility. Again, we, as individuals have no power to "make sure" that our government does not violate our rights.

Mark

Edited by mwickens
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If you or I do everything in our power to stop fascism, but the culture still drifts toward fascism, we have not defaulted on our responsibility.

We still bear the responsibility for the government that rules us. Ayn Rand: "a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it."

You may choose to see yourself as "alone and afraid in a world I never made." As for me, I am the "captain of my fate and the master of my soul." http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...support_reasons

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You may choose to see yourself as "alone and afraid in a world I never made." As for me, I am the "captain of my fate and the master of my soul."
I don't understand the point? You're responsible for the U.S. government, so am I, so was Ayn Rand, so is Dr. Peikoff, so are those two brownshirts who marched into the library, so was the library user who was browsing. Well, what of it?
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I don't understand the point? You're responsible for the U.S. government, so am I, so was Ayn Rand, so is Dr. Peikoff, so are those two brownshirts who marched into the library, so was the library user who was browsing. Well, what of it?

I have already said. "If by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness," we can't overturn our "bad government and choose a better one," then we have to "pay the price for the sins" of our government.

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I agree we are responsible for the consequences of our choices. But are you saying that the choice to walk through the park, or the choice to live in society instead of living alone, is also the choice to be mugged?
Presumably not, that is you do not say "I could stay home, or I could go get mugged. I'm bored -- maybe I'll go get mugged". You chose to go for a walk in the park, and that choice may have some consequence that you did not consider, perhaps because you were ignorant of the nature of the park, perhaps because you felt "it can't happen to me". The choice to take a walk in the part can have the consequence of getting mugged, even if you don't actually choose that consequence. Similarly, voting for GWB can have the consequence of higher taxes, even if that wasn't your intention. OTOH, voting for GWB cannot have the consequence of getting Kerry elected. I don't think that conceptualizing the issue in terms of responsibility is particularly useful -- I'm all for a proper assignment of blame, if it can be assigned (as it clearly can in the case of a mugger).
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I have already said. "If by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness," we can't overturn our "bad government and choose a better one," then we have to "pay the price for the sins" of our government.
That's merely a re-statement: we all have to pay the price just as Ayn Rand did, just as you do, just as those patrons in the library did. If there's no difference among the price each of us pays, then what's the point talking about it?

If there is a difference in the price we pay, then that's worth figuring out and talking about; and in such a case, to reduce it to "we all are responsible" is of zero value. What would be of value is to discuss what makes some more responsible than others.

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We still bear the responsibility for the government that rules us. Ayn Rand: "a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it."

You may choose to see yourself as "alone and afraid in a world I never made." As for me, I am the "captain of my fate and the master of my soul." http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...support_reasons

We're getting nowhere. You ignored the substance of my response and are now making unwarranted assumptions about how I "choose to see" myself.

Here's another quote Ayn Rand liked:

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

the courage to change the things I can;

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Mark

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That's merely a re-statement: we all have to pay the price just as Ayn Rand did, just as you do, just as those patrons in the library did. If there's no difference among the price each of us pays, then what's the point talking about it?

If there is a difference in the price we pay, then that's worth figuring out and talking about;

Of course there's a difference in the price we pay. A boy drafted and sent off to war pays a much higher price than the politician who sent him there. A businessman, who is ordered by the Anti-Trust Division to stop certain "monopolistic" ways of marketing his product, pays a much higher price than his competitors.

and in such a case, to reduce it to "we all are responsible" is of zero value. What would be of value is to discuss what makes some more responsible than others.

By all means. Feel free to discuss it.

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Again, we, as individuals have no power to "make sure" that our government does not violate our rights.

Then from where does the group, the populace, the culture derive its power to change governments? From thin air? From God? As I said before, responsibility begins with the individual. Just as there are no rights that a group has that an individual does not have (see Ayn Rand's "Collectivized Rights"), so there is no group responsibility separate from individual responsibility.

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Then from where does the group, the populace, the culture derive its power to change governments? From thin air? From God? As I said before, responsibility begins with the individual. Just as there are no rights that a group has that an individual does not have (see Ayn Rand's "Collectivized Rights"), so there is no group responsibility separate from individual responsibility.

No one is claiming groups have responsibilities separate from individuals, just that there are certain things that simply cannot be accomplished until a large number of individuals independently choose to do what's necessary to accomplish it. If one of those individuals is doing all he can, the fact that the rest are refusing to see the light and cooperate is no reflection on him.

Mark

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No one is claiming groups have responsibilities separate from individuals, just that there are certain things that simply cannot be accomplished until a large number of individuals independently choose to do what's necessary to accomplish it. If one of those individuals is doing all he can, the fact that the rest are refusing to see the light and cooperate is no reflection on him.

Again, I quote from Don Watkins in Capitalism Magazine:

A right, according to Ayn Rand, is a right to action, not to the object of that action. The right to life, for example, is the right to take those actions necessary to support one’s life – the responsibility for taking those actions is one’s own. The same is true for man’s right to liberty. The right to liberty is the right to take those actions necessary to secure one’s liberty – the responsibility for taking those actions is one’s own.

When a man’s government steps beyond its proper bounds, when it violates his liberty, it is his responsibility to secure his liberty (either by working to change the government or by leaving the country). If he doesn’t, or can’t, he has to endure the consequences (just as he must endure the consequences if he won’t or can’t feed himself).
http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4367

In short, each individual in this country is responsible for protecting his own freedoms. You can plead that you didn't have enough good people on your side, that you didn't have enough time to knock on doors, that your neighbors were just too damned stupid to understand you -- none of that lifts the burden of responsibility from you.

Freeing yourself is a responsibility no different than feeding yourself. If a drought kills all your crops, if rats and mold destroy all your stored grain, if evil men steal all your cows -- responsibility for avoiding starvation still remains in your hands.

It is no different with freedom. Whining about how we are few in number, how we're not the ones who put this big government in power, how none of this tilting towards fascism "reflects on" us -- doesn't change by one iota an individual's responsibility for his own life and freedom.

Ignore this responsibility at your own risk.

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Again, I quote from Don Watkins in Capitalism Magazine:

A right, according to Ayn Rand, is a right to action, not to the object of that action. The right to life, for example, is the right to take those actions necessary to support one’s life – the responsibility for taking those actions is one’s own. The same is true for man’s right to liberty. The right to liberty is the right to take those actions necessary to secure one’s liberty – the responsibility for taking those actions is one’s own.

When a man’s government steps beyond its proper bounds, when it violates his liberty, it is his responsibility to secure his liberty (either by working to change the government or by leaving the country). If he doesn’t, or can’t, he has to endure the consequences (just as he must endure the consequences if he won’t or can’t feed himself).
http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4367

In short, each individual in this country is responsible for protecting his own freedoms. You can plead that you didn't have enough good people on your side, that you didn't have enough time to knock on doors, that your neighbors were just too damned stupid to understand you -- none of that lifts the burden of responsibility from you.

Freeing yourself is a responsibility no different than feeding yourself. If a drought kills all your crops, if rats and mold destroy all your stored grain, if evil men steal all your cows -- responsibility for avoiding starvation still remains in your hands.

It is no different with freedom. Whining about how we are few in number, how we're not the ones who put this big government in power, how none of this tilting towards fascism "reflects on" us -- doesn't change by one iota an individual's responsibility for his own life and freedom.

Ignore this responsibility at your own risk.

Daedalus, you are attacking a straw man. No one is arguing against the self-evident proposition that failure to gain political freedom means suffering the consequences. No one here is asking to be freed from any legitimate responsibility. And no one is whining about anything.

Mark

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