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Everything posted by MarkC

  1. In case anyone is wondering how I was able to purchase the game for only $5, check out It's an entirely legitimate (indeed, the premier) online purveyor of downloadable software. They often have very nice specials, and carry many of the most popular and recent games. Highly recommended.
  2. I don't think I can agree with you. In spite of the cliche, there is such a thing as bad publicity, and I think that essentially honest people can write something off and never return to it if their initial impression is bad enough. I know that had I personally first learned of Objectivism through playing this game, I would have been left with such a bad taste that I would have actively avoided any other exposure to the philosophy. Certainly, I don't have time in my life to hunt down more information on things I find inherently distasteful--and why would I? Indeed, it's the game's impact on honest people that most concerns me. And, after playing the game for even a little while, I had to conclude that actually playing out such vile ideas was vastly worst than merely reading them or watching them in a movie. I think the impact on a young mind must be terrible.
  3. I'm a bit late to this party, having refused to pay $50 for this game. However, it's now being sold at bargain prices, and I was able to get it for $5. Big mistake--even at that amount, I feel like I just contributed money to the demise of the world. I don't think I can express just how evil this game is. It has absolutely no redeeming features, and playing the game felt like I was perpetrating a crime against Ayn Rand's memory. I got to the second level and just stopped--I couldn't go any further. Some first person shooters make me nauseous (something about poor framerates and rapidly shifting perspectives), and this one did, but with a twist--my discomfort came not just from the video, but from the game's content. Reading perversions and corruptions of Objectivism is one thing. Actually experiencing them, as one does in an admittedly very well-executed video game, is another entirely. Short of completely immersive virtual reality, this is probably the medium that most directly engages not only all of the senses, but that puts one into an entirely different sense of life as well--for want of a better formulation. And this game is as bad a misrepresentation of Objectivism as I've ever come across. Phil, you cannot possibly overstate this game's negative impact on the culture and on Objectivism. Given that video games are played predominantly by the young, the impact is even more disturbing. I am simply appalled, and needless to say will be uninstalling that game from my system immediately.
  4. The Peikoff Endorsement

    Then we're in agreement about the most fundamental, and important (in my opinion), issue of this entire thread. Although, I personally would expand (clarify?) that to say that cultural and ethical (i.e., philosophical) issues will ultimately prevail over politics. Which, really, is compatible with what I see as Dr. Peikoff's point: that philosophy is primary, that the most dangerous contemporary philosophical movement in the country is religion, and thus the Republican Party should be punished for its affiliation with the religious right--with the implicit purpose of causing it to distance itself from that influence and become a Party with more rational principles. But, really, I think this poor horse has been beaten to death, pulverized, liquefied, and poured down the drain.
  5. The Peikoff Endorsement

    Betsy, my point is simply this: if the Constitution hasn't protected us from socialism (or, to a more limited but still relevant degree, from censorship, or environmentalism, or animal rights, or any number of other unconstitutional government intrusions), then why do you assume it will protect us from religion? What's so special about the First Amendment's religion clause that makes it so much more powerful than the entirety of the rest of the Constitution? And when you say "So far... it's been able to protect us from theocracy," isn't Dr. Peikoff's (and some others') argument that religion is growing in political influence? That it represents the new (or newly predominant) threat to our freedom? By that definition, the Constitution's separation of church and state simply hasn't yet been tested--and, there's absolutely no rational reason that I can think of to imagine that it will hold out against religion where it didn't hold out against socialism. The First Amendment's religious separation clause can simply be reinterpreted out of existence, just as has so much of the rest of the Constitution. You can argue that Dr. Peikoff is simply incorrect, that religion is not growing in influence (in particular, within the Republican Party) and doesn't pose a legitimate threat, but to argue that the Constitution itself will somehow protect us where it hasn't protected us in just about every other instance seems profoundly mistaken. And if that's true, then arguing against theocracy solely on the separation of church and state inherent in the Constitution is equally mistaken, and yet that seems to be the argument. Saudi Arabia is a religious theocracy because Islam is the dominant philosophical influence, not because it lacks a Constitution. Similarly, it's only as America's dominant philosophy became altruist/collectivist that socialism was able to take root, and the Constitution did nothing to stop it. Put another way, the Constitution has relevance only insofar as the underlying philosophy supports it.
  6. The Peikoff Endorsement

    Yes. That's my point. The Constitution stands in opposition to government intervention into the economy, and yet we have massive government intervention.
  7. The Peikoff Endorsement

    Nothing in the Constitution supports the vast government interventions into the economy that we've experienced over close to the last 80 years or so, and there's a great deal that opposes it. And yet, here we are, due to the simple trick of redefining what the Constitution means. In that respect, I don't consider the Constitution any more of a protection against religious oppression than it's been a protection against "secular" oppression. Stack the Supreme Court with a few more religious conservatives, and the 1st Amendment can simply be interpreted away. Consider how the 1st Amendment hasn't been a de facto protection against censoring "offensive" speech nor restrictions on campaign financing (the censoring of political speech). That's the fundamental role that philosophy plays. Without the proper philosophical foundation, the Constitution's no better than the paper it's written on.
  8. Precisely. And it's my opinion that what holds the Republican Party back from establishing themselves as exactly that party is religion. Until they reject the altruism/collectivism that's inherent in their religious beliefs, they'll be unable to accept the fundamental principle of individual rights.
  9. Not a major point, just this: were I a Republican in Congress, I would be unable to find this a joking matter. I would find it entirely inappropriate to point out the abject groveling of the automakers (in spite of their own flaws, it's a depressingly horrible spectacle) except to define it in terms of the underlying principles--certainly, never with this sort of casual, flippant quip. And ultimately, that's my problem with the Republicans: because they lack the proper principles, they're at the very least unreliable, and at the very worst traitors to the cause. The fact that this particular Senator doesn't support an automaker bailout means nothing to me in this particular context. And in reading the rest of the story you link to, one must conclude that his opposition is based not on principles, but rather on a simply pragmatic belief that the bailout "won't work."
  10. Who needs elections?

    Then we're in agreement.
  11. Who needs elections?

    I was responding specifically to what I quoted from ewv. But, now that you reiterate the concept of using "rational force," I do have to ask: what exactly are you proposing? I can think of no act of force that one could take in our current context that would be productive or, perhaps, even moral. I can, on the other hand, think of any number of philosophical activities that one could take to positively impact the culture. And, I believe that the underlying philosophy of the culture needs to change (dramatically) before ANY meaningful political change is going to occur. Obviously, if a thief comes to my door with a knife, I'll respond appropriately (or, I'll let my German Shepherd dog do it for me). However, that's very different from speaking of force, today, in a political context. Until we have outright dictatorship, which would mean literal censorship, I don't think any sort of force is called for. And, I can't imagine what it would be like were things to progress so far. With police and military technology as it is today, I'd not hold out much hope for a modern Ragnar...
  12. Who needs elections?

    And so what's your alternative? What would you do to stop such a thug from taking your property? If you don't think it's Rearden's courtroom speech, or its contemporary equivalent (which is to say, in general, philosophy), that stands between you and the looters, what do you think possibly could? Politics? The Republican Party? And you call Betsy naive...
  13. It's Election Day!

    I was responding to the statement that "most" Republicans opposed their President, whereas "most" here means a difference of 4%. I don't feel the need to do extensive research on such a slim margin. And for me, the weight of the evidence is simply against there being terribly many contemporary politicians who consistently hold the right principles. As far as there being a threat of "imminent theocracy," I have two comments. First, I'm not familiar with where Dr. Peikoff used the specific phrase, "imminent theocracy," and so I can't speculate on what he meant wherever he's used it. Second, and more important, I think it's proper to characterize the Republican Party, under the sway of the religious right, in precisely the same fashion that many on this forum have characterized the Democratic Party, under the sway of the more general altruist/collectivist mentality (which vacillates nowadays between fascism and socialism). That is, there are those on this forum who seem to consider Obama to be the second coming of Joseph Stalin. He's not, of course. He won't be calling for legislation prohibiting outright the private ownership of property. He won't explicitly nationalize the American economy (at least, not any more than the Republicans already have done so). Rather, the threat is more insidious and subtle than that. It'll be socialism (and fascism) through the backdoor, more of the same kind as exhibited in the redistribution of wealth in the housing industry. Obama won't come right out and say what he's doing; he and his cronies in Congress will do so on the sly, by enacting greater and greater control and only in some cases outright ownership. They won't, in short, institute an explicit dictatorship--and of course that's not necessary for us to condemn them. The same would be true with a Republican Party that's dominated by the religious right. They wouldn't put a Protestant Pope in power, or enact the Christian version of shariah law. They wouldn't be that explicit. Rather, it would mean a Supreme Court stacked with religious conservatives, the death of Roe vs. Wade, federal mandates to teach creationism alongside evolution, and a myriad other religious influences--including very socialistic and fascistic policies not much unlike the Left's--that would result in the effective control of religion over our lives. But, it wouldn't be "theocracy" by any narrow definition. I'm not going to put words in Dr. Peikoff's mouth, however. I will, rather, give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of how and where he's used the word "theocracy" in this context. To go even further, he could be slightly pessimistic and still be entirely correct, just like certain people here might be slightly pessimistic about Obama and still be entirely correct. I simply can't see how he's incorrect in pointing out that religious philosophy is more of a threat than common Leftist altruism/collectivism (i.e., socialism), which is ridiculed and dismissed wherever it's explicitly invoked. I think that far worse things could be done (and, of course, are being done) today in the name of religion than could be done in the name of socialism. And, again, I stress: I find it inappropriate to call Dr. Peikoff's position on this or any topic "nonsense." One can disagree with him, but I submit that this disagreement should be respectful, and should keep in mind that Dr. Peikoff remains the preeminent Objectivist scholar. I'd wager that nobody on this forum understands Objectivism as well as Dr. Peikoff, and thus nobody shouldn't be so quick to dismiss his positions--particularly where someone uses purely political arguments to counter his more fundamental philosophical applications.
  14. It's Election Day!

    54% opposed the bailout, which is barely a majority. And, why did they oppose the bailout? Was it a principled opposition to government intervention into the economy? I don't believe that for a second. And it was a Republican Administration who perpetrated (and continues to perpetrate) the "bailout," which includes a Republican President, a Republican Fed Chairman, a Republican Secretary of the Treasury, a Republican head of the FDIC, etc., etc. Saying it was just Bush who "advocated" the bailout isn't reasonable, I don't think, unless you believe that Bush simply ordered Paulson to go into a room full of bankers and essentially put a gun to their heads. And, let's not forget that it was a Republican Fed Chairman who sowed the seeds of the current financial crisis in the first place. That's a bit off point, I realize, because it has nothing to do with the religious right (unless one considers the influence of religion on bolstering the notion of "compassionate conservatism"). However, my original point was that it's inappropriate to call Dr. Peikoff's position on religion's influence over the Republican Party "nonsense."
  15. It's Election Day!

    I hardly think that one can properly characterize Dr. Peikoff's position as "nonsense," considering that religion remains the most powerful philosophical force for evil around the world. While socialism has to hide itself to have any meaningful impact (see Obama), religion can proudly proclaim the righteousness of self-sacrifice. Look at how people responded to Obama's "spread the wealth" slip, while McCain's quasi-religious, nationalistic call for duty and sacrifice was honored. And McCain was an alleged "maverick" in the Republican Party. Ultimately, I agree with Dr. Peikoff 100% that the Republican Party needs (or needed) to be punished, to force it to reconsider its affinity for the religious right. If I'm not mistaken, this is precisely what's happening now--albeit the ultimate conclusion remains uncertain. A Republican Party with a renewed commitment to individual rights and capitalism would be much more effective and attractive in 2012. Of course, it could also go in the opposite direction and nominate Sarah Palin. As an aside, I remain amazed that anyone can consider the Republican Party, in its current incarnation, to be at all superior to the Democratic Party. After all, it was the Republican Party that caused the unnecessary deaths of thousands of American soldiers in a self-sacrificial war in Iraq. And, it's been Republicans who have foisted the "bailout" on the American public to the tune of some trillions of dollars--setting the stage for the Left to sweep in and finish what they started, complete with a moral sanction.
  16. The Gift Certificate

    I saw another reference to the original meeting with the nine or so largest institutions, where Paulson is said to have actually used the phrase "point of a gun" in describing the situation that the CEOs were in. As in, he was saying "You have no choice, this is point of a gun, so you might as well go ahead and sign." At the moment, I can't find the reference, and I couldn't tell if the person making the reference was actually quoting, or just paraphrasing. This is all very damning stuff. It's just really unfortunate (although, probably not surprising) that there's no authoritative source that can be openly quoted. I think many people, even many non-Objectivists, would find it appalling that government force was used quite so blatantly, and it causes anyone to wonder at what's really going on. Put in that light, the "bailout" is a very different animal.
  17. The Gift Certificate

    I don't doubt that things were essentially as you describe them. But, do you have a reference for this? I've seen similar things, but haven't been able to confirm the actual content of any of the discussions.
  18. WWOD?

    I wondered how long this would take. Not that long, apparently: Yeesh.
  19. My position on these sorts of things, e.g., Obama's call for a "civilian national security force," is that it's far more subtle and insidious than a bunch of deputized thugs walking around with nightsticks. Rather, for example, in this case it's the natural extension of the Left's position that one can't be "secure" if one is unemployed, uneducated, lacks access to healthcare, etc., etc. Thus, Obama wants to expand the Americorps concepts to send extra "volunteers" into schools, caregivers into nursing homes, etc., etc. To a Leftist, that's as vital to "national security" as is the military, due to the conflating of "economic security" and national defense, if you will. My point is: there's no need to talk about such extreme and, I think, in many cases paranoid, ideas. Obama is not going to do anything so explicitly evil, simply because he doesn't have to do so to accomplish his altruist/collectivist agenda.
  20. Perhaps someone who lives a little closer to Duke U. than us on the Left coast can attend John Allison's talk on the causes of the economic crisis and report back:
  21. It's Election Day!

    ewv - I'm relatively new to the board (or, recently revisited), and I've noticed that you seem to be well-informed on the workings of the Republican Party. You've mentioned that there are better and worse Republicans. I'm wondering: could you take a few minutes and list the ones you think are the best, as in, those for whom you think a "typical" Objectivist might be comfortable voting (at whatever level of office)? I'd like to do a little research and see what constitutes good positions on the part of decent Republicans. If you can, thanks in advance. If not, no biggie.
  22. Thanks, Betsy, that's a great quote.
  23. Well, okay, I certainly differ with you on your specific theory about large populations. But, I can't disagree with you on your ultimate conclusions, although I'd take it back a notch: those who despair at this election should not equate it with the end of America. That's where we differ, I think, but there you have it...