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  1. Objectivist Culture

    In response to Mr. "Paul's Here" -- I guess my theme of my original post was not as obvious as I thought. I would say every Oist has two goals, which are interrelated and not really very distinct. The first goal seems to be obvious to everyone: to be - to iive - by the Oist philosophy; with that as the foundation and standard of your actions and intentions; however you want to word that. It can be said other and perhaps better ways, but I think we can stipulate Oists are in general agreement on this goal. The second goal seems to be less apparent, as I tried to imply or illustrate in my first post: that goal is to bring about an Oist culture, presumably by growing the influence of Oism in the existing culture. My question for your consideration is: do you see Oists around you creating that Ost culture? As "Mr. X" observed, what you see currently _is_ the extant Oist culture, per se; it is the Oist culture of the present time. It exists; it is made up of the actions of Oists (ARI / OCON / LP - oriented, vs. TOS, etc., as I noted earlier). There is no way anyone could reasonably consider those actions conducive to bringing about an Oist culture. They are (predominantly) divisive; counter-productive - and therefore destructive. Picture yourself in an isolated valley with these people; could you bring about a Galt's Gulch? Would you reasonably expect it to endure, if you could even get all of the Oists around you in the same place at the same time? You have only to look at other posts to pick out far too many examples that provide your answer. So what is the answer? How do we get to a successful Oist culture? 1. Some say, ARI is all you need. I have been donating to ARI for over a quarter century; it is great, I encourage more contributions, but it cannot do the job alone, nor should anyone expect it to. That would be blindness to the natural human characteristics, and to the definition of what a culture is. A culture is (substantially) the interactions of all of the people; that means all Oists (and more) are needed to make the needed impact. That means they must consciously set that culture as their goal, and set mutually-supportive plans toward that goal. "Mutually-supportive" does not mean automatic approval, or blind acceptance; it depends on context and means various things at various levels of agreement. But one thing it does not mean is taking destructive actions. As an example, think of the mutual supportiveness of Dagny towards Dan Conway: she wants him to succeed, even as she intends to work to take away his market-share. Apply that perspective to building an Oist culture. 2. Some say it will take a thousand years. Well, they say that is what it took for Aristotle; I guess that is their model, though that is not at all what history shows. But in any case, why a thousand years? What happens then? How does it arise? What are the steps? Explicitly describe the process. Why can that process not be applied right now? If you do not have a reasoned answer, then your answer is "somehow" - and that I call mystical, or as good as. Why is ARI not enough? What will it really take? Why in a thousand years? What will they (in that time) have that we do not have now? Culture is a "conglomeration" of human relationships, good or bad (e.g., capitalist culture vs. Islamic culture). To build a good culture requires or results from a constructive occurrence (it can be accidental or deliberate). Constructive relationships involve a sacrifice; no two people will ever agree on everything. But that sacrifice - taken in relationships ranging from a marriage to a culture - is (must be) of a lesser value for a greater value. Certainly, an Oist culture is one of all Oists' greatest values? Should I not refrain from telling another Oist (or non-Oist) what I think of his opinions, or that he is a jerk, if it helps to build that culture? In being constructive, we agree to disagree; we acknowledge it as a natural human characteristic; that to disagree is normal and acceptable, but we endeavor to succeed regardless. When that culture is my goal, I will let a bunch of stuff fall by the wayside to get there. Constructive relationships are supportive; mutually beneficial. That requires that kind of restraint; that kind of recognition of values. Building something greater - whether under a commander on a battlefield, or under a manager in a business, or for (independent) Oists building a culture, takes the kind of cooperation that ignores the non-relevant to the goal, in order to reach that goal. To fail to make that sacrifice of a lesser value for a greater value is to sacrifice the greater value. I say that when Oists begin to realize this more generally as a group, then we can begin to build the culture we want to see (and contrarily, not before). Whether that is a thousand years from now, or tomorrow, that cognizance is an essential first step. Everything else depends on that, and is founded on it. It saddens me to think that if it does take a thousand years, it will be because the current Oist movement disintegrated, disappeared, and by luck alone AR's books survived an interregnum until someone finally took the ideas, and taught them in a way that built the constructive relationships which form the basis for the rise of a productive, successful culture.
  2. Objectivist Culture

    Re: "This is worse than an over-generalization. It's a self-referential example of itself", based on the parts of my post that were quoted, I am not totally sure that I understand what is meant. But assuming the reference to those excerpts, I would have to suggest that the point was missed. I was lamenting to my friend that these kinds of behavior will not lead to an Oist culture. My friend pointed out that (sadly) the behavior is consistent among Oists; that by its predominant presence, it is the Oist culture. I thought that is a very poignant observation, and if correct, points to a very real problem for Oists; that a very serious and endemic mistake is being made by a wide-spread proportion of the Oist population. The mistake is that if an Oist culture is to arise, it cannot do so under these conditions. What does that mean for the future? It means that (1) the present Oist culture / movement will be ineffective and die out; (2) an "interregnum" will follow, and (3) a new group of people many years (the proverbial millennium?) hence will rediscover AR's ideas, and interpret them according to their lives and living conditions (i.e., with no ARI nor "intellectual heir" of any sort), and apply them in some new way not in our current expectation. I submit that that application will be with the understanding that politics is based upon relationships. We can save the world a thousand years by reaching that understanding now, as it is a fact, and one which I wish Oists now would grasp in the present and act upon in the necessary basis - political change as I have described.
  3. Objectivist Culture

    In my experience, this is not an overgeneralization. Not only does it happen, but a better indicator is the lack of "building" the future that is occurring, but more importantly the determination to figure out what is needed is not occurring. People accept that it will take a thousand years to bring about an Oist culture - but why? What will they (in that future) be doing that we cannot do now? We can do those things, and do them just as well. The infighting is counterproductive, and also is indicative of an underlying problem and prevalent attitude that forestalls progress towards that Oist culture.
  4. Objectivist Culture

    After watching the further disintegration of Objectivism as adherents reacted to the Harriman fiasco, I wrote the "Question" below, to a friend. His "Answer" is very astute. Please note: this is not addressed to the case of the Brandens, Kelley, or Harriman. They have left Objectivism. This applies to those of us who fall generally under the "orthodoxy" of ARI, OCONs, etc. ___________________________ Mr. B: Re the propensity of Objectivists to form schisms and splits, denounce and revile at the least provocation, and be easily provoked into hostility, name calling, and childish petulance: This proves the total lack of understanding of relationships by Objectivists, and therefore Politics. Did you ever change anyone's mind by calling them names or mercilessly criticizing their opinion or otherwise abusing them? Do you ever see anyone who is effective at getting people to agree or work with them or come to their point of view say anything that gets remotely similar to the abusive style shown throughout by both sides of any typical Objectivist disagreement? Did you ever even see anyone agree with you, even if they are of the same opinion, if you mistreat them the way these people are doing? Do you think John Galt ever used such language like that in his efforts to persuade the other would-be strikers? Do you think Galt's Gulch would survive for twenty minutes if these attitudes existed there? QED: 1. None of these people would be invited nor welcome in Galt's Gulch. 2. There is no future nor progress based on these attitudes and treatment of other people. 3. This behavior is therefore the alternative: destructive. 4. This behavior and therefore these people will not and cannot produce an Objectivist culture. Mr. X: Re #4, this IS Objectivist culture. _________________________________
  5. "No conflicts among rational men"

    Certainly true. Why are Objectivists failing to have no conflicts - in and out of blogs?
  6. "No conflicts among rational men"

    Ayn Rand writes that "There are no conflicts among rational men." But one only needs to watch the antics on Objectivist blogs (and counter-blogs) and elsewhere to see that this is not true. The venemous name-calling, the finality of denunciations, the ends of "friendships", the divorces -- all those sorts of things and much more have occurred among contemporary (to say nothing of historical) Objectivists in full public view. Either she is wrong, or it must be denied that these people are Objectivists, leaving us with a dilemma: either (1) there is some Nietschean super-humans who are the true Objectivists, and we are all just incapable sub-humans, or (2) Objectivism is an unviable and failed utopian philosophy. In either case, the people who are supposedly living (figurativlely and in their yearning) in Galt's Gulch are existing in riotous irrationality.
  7. Fundamentals of Politics

    Ayn Rand provided some answers (including "Man's Rights", and "The Nature Of Government"). But that list is incomplete; she clearly never asked herself the explicit question. If she had, her answers would clearly have covered more ground. I would add as an example that one or two people have reminded me of her participation in the 1940 Presidential campaign as contrast with my thoughts. Based on my own experience, it is clear to me that her involvement was superficial (regardless of her perception). There are clearly things endemic to the most in-depth involvement that she never experienced - it would have changed how she worded some of the things she did say, even if she had not mentioned other things, which I think she would have. She barely scratched the surface. Regarding the quote of her definition: yes, she defined it, but never asked the equivalent question as she did in Ethics. Lacking that explicit question, she could not reach all the facets of the answer. I completely disagree with the statement made that "politeness has nothing to do with politics". The more you get involved in politics, the more you learn that it very much does, and that the principles of politics are the same from the relationships of you and your spouse or friend or neighbor, up to the actions of a legislator, President, or dictator. Politics is about personal relationships. It is what you intend to do with them that matters. This is the same as was stated, "The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others." (VOS) -- and that is the valid and correct principle, and very much about personal relationships; the quote proves my point. It applies not just to the proper role of govt, but also, as I noted, to political rules, conventions, customs, manners, etiquette, law, violence, and even Roberts Rules of Order. The principle is the same throughout -- and it is all Politics. Look at that quote again: "... political principle ..." equals the basis of Politics. "... no man ... others" equals personal relationships. But Ayn Rand clearly jumped right into the proper role of govt, and never realized the full implication of that statement -- which I say was because she never explicitly asked the comparable question that she asked for Ethics: Why does man need a study of politics? And just to contrast (for illustration), if your political principle is (in some form) that the dominance of one individual by another is acceptable, then you see the impact not only in the form of govt everywhere in the world (except as was intended by the Founders of the U.S. Constitution), but also in the roles of women (burkhas, as property of / in the safety of men, etc.), etiquettes, customs, castes and nobilities, etc. Again, this is no shortcoming of Ayn Rand. (1) She did the important thing: got Objectivism right, and got it known so we could all hear of it and learn it; (2) She herself said that she felt it was a proper division of labor for others to build further on the Objectivist foundation. One impact of the failure to understand that Politics is about personal relationships: Objectivism's rise to prominence has been severely slowed -- almost to a halt, compared to what it ought to be and could be. When etiquette is disdained as unimportant, and not recognized as a key inclusion in Politics, then the ability to convince others of Objectivism's value is significantly weakened. Ayn Rand was very effective at "marketing" Objectivism, and making it better-known. Objectivists since have acted generally in the worst-possible way to further the spread of Objectivism, and so are failing to do so -- that's politics. Politics gets included as a branch of philosophy because of its importance to and impact on our lives. Politics is about personal relationships -- all of them, everywhere, and every-when.
  8. Fundamentals of Politics

    I confess Aristotle's sheer breadth of accomplishments is tremendous to me as well. There is no question that the whole of "Western" Civilization (i.e., human progress into reason-based living: individual freedom, capitalism, etc.) rests on Aristotle's shoulders. However, AR's Epistemology is such an outstanding accomplishment that in some ways it outshines everything else. I could almost say the same thing for her egoist ethics. Aristotle had the breadth, but the errors in his thinking left holes which were ultimately fatal. AR's achievement's while more narrow, are rationally based, and I think they will stand the test of time. We need both, and I am glad we have them. Re other comments -- Re my point about the question that AR never asked, I emphasized that there is not a flaw in Objectivism, that I was not attempting to change it. However, applying Objectivism to living is not limited to the topics AR wrote about. "It was a question which, as a teacher, I would have been proud to hear from a student who'd taken six years of philosophy. It was a question pertaining to Plato's metaphysics, which Plato hadn't had the sense to ask of himself. I answered—and I asked John to come to my office after the lecture." -- from Atlas Shrugged Can there be questions AR herself never asked? Unless you posit AR as being omniscient, then of course the answer is yes. There is no other possible answer. Whether the question has value or not, clearly AR never asked the same question of Politics that she asked of Ethics, as I noted in my initial post. To repeat, AR did not ask why or whether Man needs a study of Politics. Where does the application of one's philosophy end? As AR noted, picking your choice of ice cream is not a philosophical question. But picking your choice of friends clearly is. Anybody who wants to disagree has only to check a few Objectivist blogs to watch the fireworks. Marriages have even been made and broken in this regard. We have all seen it. So friendships and marriage are philosophy-based decisions. But where is the link from Objectivist philosophy? They do not just intuitively follow. Not Ethics. Independence and Justice are virtues primarily applied in interpersonal relationships (i.e., hard to implement alone on an island), but they will not form the basis for friendship and marriage. The other five virtues are all clearly applicable on a desert island or in downtown Manhattan. So Politics must be where questions regarding friendship and marriage find their basis. As I wrote, "Politics is the application of Ethics to personal relationships and interaction, paraphrasing Ayn Rand. Like Ethics, it applies in every case to every person in every time. [...] Political rules, conventions, and customs include manners, etiquette, Roberts Rules of Order, law, violence, etc." AR did not ask first why or whether Man needs a study of Politics. The result is she missed the connection to these things. She did ask why and whether Man needs Ethics. We all know how important that was. The consequences are the rock-solid foundation of Objectivist Ethics. As I noted, AR herself said that she had left a lot for others to do. She knew she was not omniscient. To dismiss a question out-of-hand is evasion. Once you ask, "Why or whether Man needs a study of Politics?", the answer turns out to be that Politics applies and is the basis of not just what AR wrote about, but also political rules, conventions, customs, manners, etiquette, law, violence, and even Roberts Rules of Order. And quite a lot more.
  9. Fundamentals of Politics

    To Leonid -- In PWNI, and as quoted in the Lexicon, "The answers given by Ethics determine how men should treat other men, and this determines the fourth branch of philosophy, Politics, which defines the principles of a proper social system." This is more than government and capitalism but goes all the way down to the values of politeness. This is precisely the problem with skipping the fundamental question, as I noted. The connections were lost / missed, and that continues to this day. As to why, see the Homework assignment, below. You said, "Politics rest on is application of ethics to social questions. ( pg 350). By social questions Objectivism means relation between man and state, not personal relationships." But there is only relations among individuals. There is no conscious entity called the state. You don't even need Objectivism to understand that; the Founding Fathers knew it very well. More importantly, are you really going to say that Objectivism does _not_ apply to individual relationships? A substantial section of your life exists to which Objectivism does not apply? That is bizarre and irrational (and it sure gets applied to relationships I see at OCONs!). Objectivism applies to _everything_ you do - and therefore, relationships. QED. If it does not, then Objectivism is worthless, which it certainly is not. And so it is indeed a part of Politics that deals with everything down to, as you say, "relationships between husband and wife, or even between neighbors". I would hate to see the results if that were not so. I will go further: as my political experience grows, the principles governing relationships at all levels are all the same (given Objectivism is a philosophy with principles, who should be surprised?). More on this when I learn enough about it to give a presentation on the topic. You say, "Today, the dominant philosophy of the West is altruism. Therefore any political action taken by Objectivists is doomed to fail" - but that is wrong - and "Only when Objectivism becomes part of the mass culture" - and who is going to make that happen? Blank out. _Who_?!? Name the person! Why s it always someone else can do it, but you cannot? So you just give up? Don't put out the maximum effort? Quit? The real answer is that this assumption is totally false. Your attitude reminds me of Harry's proof in 1997 (I think it was) that no Objectivist professor would ever teach in a current-era college. Obviously, he is as happy to laugh at his prediction as the rest of us, beyond the level of any of us not to be the one laughed at. My own success has proven the same is true of politics. But you have to understand reality to succeed. Rationalistic deductions lead to fantasy. The most prominent Objectivist statements about politics are wildly ignorant of reality - and the reason is because nobody has been there - exactly analogous to those who claimed there were dragons and the edge of the world far out to sea. If Objectivists do not do it, it will not get done. The _only_ way for Objectivism to make inroads is for Objectivists to get in there and apply themselves. Nobody else is going to do it for them. To evade that is mind-numbing blind rationalisation. Proof? Easy: I really like LP's DIM Hypothesis. I use it as much as I can, and it works. But LP's despair at the end of the 2010 lecture is _because_ the dominant Objectivist thinking on politics has been so rationalized it is useless nonsense. "unless the state is involved" ... Your argument here is a good lead in to this Homework question: Name the two biggest incidents in Galt's Gulch (in AS!) of a (major) political nature. Explain the implications of the first, the nature of the most profound implication of the second, and finally, why Ayn Rand, their author, clearly missed both points. Don't get me wrong; as I made clear, AR was a genius at the level of Aristotle or beyond, even if she herself thought him smarter than herself. But she was not omniscient. She knew it, and said it. The homework assignment above will (once you _understand_ the answers) let you see it as well.
  10. Fundamentals of Politics

    As I began getting involved in political campaigning, first for others (as a learning tool) and then for my own election, l was forced to realize that historic Objectivist discussions on Political Action (ie, not Ayn Rand's discussion of the fourth branch of Philosophy) bore no resemblance to reality; in other words, they were wishful thinking, totally ignoring human characteristics. So I had to figure out what the reality actually is. First, recall the morality of obtaining food, clothing, and shelter. Similarly, it is just as morally imperative to be involved in government to the degree possible to you, for parallel reasons. Contrary to what many prominent Objectivists say, only if you get involved now can changes occur. This makes sense: if you do not get involved, how can you expect a moral government to arise? Who will do it? This is the step that has been missed over the years. Yes, ARI and education are essential; the common reasoning for that is quite correct. But if is far from sufficient. Political Action by Objectivists (_not_ ARI!) is essential; no serious inroads into the culture will be made without it. Why wait a thousand years for someone to do exactly that? Do it now, for your own selfish good.
  11. Fundamentals of Politics

    Unlike with Epistemology, Ayn Rand did not ask first why or whether Man needs a study of Politics. She jumped right in to her main interest of discussion, what is the proper political system? No big deal; she created Objectivism, the primary thing of importance, without which we would have nothing. But she left out a lot of discussion unanswered. That is also okay. As she said, she felt it was a fair division of labor for others to fill in where she did not. Nor does his change Objectivism; Objectivism is a closed system. This is the application of Objectivism to one aspect of everyday life. Briefly: The Premises of Politics From answering the question: Why and whether Man needs Politics... 1. Politics is the application of Ethics to personal relationships and interaction, paraphrasing Ayn Rand. Like Ethics, it applies in every case to every person in every time. By the time you reach Politics, everyone has already made their choices regarding metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. In other words, they have made up their minds about the religious beliefs, philosophies, and sense of what is right and wrong that they hold. How will you deal / interact with all of those differences? What form will those relationships take? 2. Political rules, conventions, and customs include manners, etiquette, Roberts Rules of Order, law, violence, etc. 3. Neighbors normally get along peacefully; that is, through rational discussion. When that is not possible, then the will of one (or some) must be imposed upon the action of another(s). If that can be done without violence, that is political (legal) action; if the action involves violence, that is war, civil strife, riots, mobs, etc. 4. Government is the setting-up / initiation of an entity to organize and control peoples' actions. It can be imposed (from above or outside), or it can be established by the people themselves. When imposed, the results are necessarily inevitable: tyranny. Imposition leads to further imposition, whether tyranny is vicious or benevolent. When established, checks and balances must be included to prevent usurpation and tyranny. Examples include separation of legislative, judicial, and executive powers; local, state, and federal governments with division of limited, enumerated, defined powers for each; legislative representation at all levels, republican form of government with democratic voting; separation of government from religion, economy, education, etc., a well-educated populace able to make educated, rational decisions, etc. 5. What is the proper / ideal form of government, economic, and cultural organization? What is the standard by which any form is to be judged - the individual? The aristocracy? The good of society? Dedication to a religion? Subjugation to the will of the strongest? From this point begins Ayn Rand's standard definition of Politics.