Guest ElizabethLee

Pre-Objectivist Political Leanings

Prior Politics; Liberal/Conservative/Na   89 votes

  1. 1. Before Objectivism, were you Political, Liberal/Left & Conserv?

    • Very much Liberal/Left
      8
    • Somewhat Liberal/Left Leanings
      14
    • Neither one at all
      20
    • Somewhat Conservative/Right Leanings
      29
    • Very much Conservative/Right
      18
  2. 2. Before Objectivism, were you Religious?

    • Yes, very much
      7
    • Yes, somewhat
      18
    • No
      64
  3. 3. Before Objectivism, were you Politically inclined?

    • Yes, very much
      29
    • Yes, somewhat
      34
    • No
      26

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82 posts in this topic

On HBL, Betsy Speicher and others brought up the excellent question of whether it is easier to persuade people towards Objectivism who are currently liberal or conservative?

Let's see how my first poll goes!

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ok! I voted! It was easy to vote, I like that. I was going to make a hypothesis of what matters more, but I'll leave that to the evidence ;).

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Well, so far it looks like I am the only one who voted for "Very much Liberal/Left".

Quite a big victory to win me over since I was very much politically active. ;)

I'm very curious about this poll to see if I am the only far left person who made it back from that corruption.

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I voted "somewhat conservative" but I almost could have gone for neither one. I was against high taxes and anti-welfare state, yes, but I also would have voted for Gore in the 2000 election had I been eligible to vote at the time.

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I wasn't political in any way in my opinions. I don't even remember thinking about politics before getting interested in Objectivism.

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I was pretty young, and was a full economic socialist and also an atheist. I read all about how socialism could supply everyone with an abundance of everything we need and we would only need to work a few hours per week. I also read that socialism had never been practiced in its purity so there wasn't any proof that it is a disaster. I started to read more about the world and dropped it, became almost libertarian, but that lasted about two weeks until I found Objectivism.

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I was moderately politically aware, but hadn't found a political ideal I could back wholeheartedly. I respected the Founders and thought sticking with the system they developed would have been a good idea. I think I probably would have wound up as a George Bush Sr. type of Republican -- opposed to socialism and economic regulation on pragmatic grounds, and cynical about the utility of abstract political principles.

The striking thing about the numbers in the poll so far is the religious question. Being non-religious seems to be much more common than any particular political orientation. That was certainly true in my case; my political views may have been muddled, but I always wanted them to be based on logic and evidence. The girl who talked me into reading Rand told me that it was "the most rational thing you'll ever read." She was right.

Faith, almost by definition, involves the psychoepistemological ability to reject logic and evidence when it conflicts with a cherished belief. It shouldn't be surprising that people who have allowed faith into their mental processes are harder to turn into Objectivists -- since that process involves modifying often-cherished beliefs through the application of logic and evidence!

I'd be interested in hearing from the people who were strongly religious prior to becoming Objectivists. What was it that led you to change your mind and reject your faith?

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The political options should include libertarian. I would have (I have) described myself as such.

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On HBL, Betsy Speicher and others brought up the excellent question of whether it is easier to persuade people towards Objectivism who are currently liberal or conservative?

Let's see how my first poll goes!

It is becoming apparent to me, at least, that political affiliation has little to do with becoming an Objectivist, but that the degree of acceptance of religion is much more indicative.

This brings to mind a question I have had for a long time: Since most people follow their parents in their religious beliefs and in their political party affiliations, do Objectivists always have Objectivist children?

My children are implicitly Objectivist. They are just getting to the point/age in which they want/need to learn about philosophy explicitly.

Can anyone relate stories about other children of Objectivists?

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It is becoming apparent to me, at least, that political affiliation has little to do with becoming an Objectivist, but that the degree of acceptance of religion is much more indicative.

This brings to mind a question I have had for a long time: Since most people follow their parents in their religious beliefs and in their political party affiliations, do Objectivists always have Objectivist children?

My children are implicitly Objectivist. They are just getting to the point/age in which they want/need to learn about philosophy explicitly.

Can anyone relate stories about other children of Objectivists?

My son is interested in Objectivism. He's read most of Rand's books. It has been interesting watching him grow up and see how his interest has developed. Primarily, he developed by seeing the example his parent set by our actions and things we talked about. We never pushed Objectivism on him. Also interesting is that Objectivism hasn't had the same impact in his life as it has in mine. Quite literally, Objectivism saved my life. Whereas my son, who wasn't brought up with a lot of ideas conflicting with the nature of reality and life, has had a pretty easy time grasping that Objectivism is important to him, but not earth-shattering. It seemed like the natural way of thinking.

It seems that we are fortunate in that our son is interested in Objectivism. I have several Objectivist friends whose grown children have absolutely no interest in Objectivism. (This may be cooincidence, but their children are all girls.)

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I filled in somewhat religious in the poll. I grew up as an atheist (well, actually, I never gave the issue any thought, my parents aren't religious and we never really talked about it) but at some point I was reading some books about deism and I found the arguments presented there quite convincing (I think I thought that having some support for your beliefs was better than none) so I became a deist for a few years.

When I started reading Rand's books I tried to see if I could integrate it with my own convictions, and for the most part that was possible but at some point I realized that I could either accept Objectivism as a whole or keep my belief in a Creator. I discarded it pretty easily at that point.

For me my decision to become (somewhat) religious was based purely on arguments, albeit flawed ones. At the time I just did not have the philosphical knowledge needed to reject the belief in God. When I could no longer rationally support this belief I abandoned it.

As for politics I was pretty strongly socialist. I believed it was a much better system than capitalism but reading Atlas Shrugged cured me of that without too much effort ;) I honestly don't know how someone can read that book and not think socialism (and altruism) is evil.

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Politically I was mostly conservative, although I thought a few specific social programs were OK. Went through a fair number of religions, in an honest attempt to find truth, and not knowing any other way to go about it. Never found what I was looking for, hence the "going through a fair number of religions." ;) Found Objectivism, and never looked back.

(The last religion I tried was Quakerism, but I gave that up when I found out that new converts had to do hard time in the oatmeal mines. :D :D)

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The political options should include libertarian. I would have (I have) described myself as such.

Hi Joss! I hope you put "neither"? There are other options of course, but I wanted to just keep it simple to the conventional cases. [although for pre-Objectivists, perhaps Libertarian is much more common.]

Quakerism, but I gave that up when I found out that new converts had to do hard time in the oatmeal mines. ;):D)

:D

Regarding former religionists, I have only spoken about it with one person, whose honesty was what saved him. After reading Atlas, the first realization was "atheism is true."

This is a fun poll, I hope we get more replies.

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I think it would be enlightening to split out the poll by age. I suspect those Objectivists who are now over forty were mostly former liberals and those under forty are former conservatives. (This doesn't apply for Europeans like Maarten because there are few conservatives in Europe to begin with.)

So, among the American Objectivists here, are the ANY exceptions to my over/under forty observation?

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I think it would be enlightening to split out the poll by age. I suspect those Objectivists who are now over forty were mostly former liberals and those under forty are former conservatives. (This doesn't apply for Europeans like Maarten because there are few conservatives in Europe to begin with.)

So, among the American Objectivists here, are the ANY exceptions to my over/under forty observation?

Betsy, I'm 59. Before becoming an Objectivist I was, if anything, independent. The conservatives did not interest me and the liberals turned me off.

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I think it would be enlightening to split out the poll by age. I suspect those Objectivists who are now over forty were mostly former liberals and those under forty are former conservatives. (This doesn't apply for Europeans like Maarten because there are few conservatives in Europe to begin with.)

So, among the American Objectivists here, are the ANY exceptions to my over/under forty observation?

Well, yes. I am. I'm well over 40, but before I read Ayn Rand (which I did at the age of 19) I'd have described myself as very conservative. But, I was a secular conservative, not a religious one, because I was also an atheist.

Growing up in the 1960's, I was absolutely disgusted with the New Left, which was hard to ignore at the time. I could see that these people hated America, used arguments that didn't make sense and were very willing to sacrifice productive people for the sake of losers. But at the same time, my family was conservative (not religious) so I had access to lots of conservative writings. From this, and my own thinking and observations, I developed a deep love for capitalism. It seemed so right and just to me.

However, I became more and more aware that many conservatives took religion seriously. This confused me, because since the age of 5 or 6 I've been an atheist - I put believing in God in the same category as believing in the tooth fairy. Also, so many conservatives seemed to be anti-sex (being horrified if people had sex without being married, for instance) and I did not agree with this.

So, I was a conservative mainly as a reaction against the New Left, but at the same time, I wasn't completely comfortable with conservatism. Objectivism was just what I needed, but I hadn't found it yet...

I've always wondered if there were lots of people out there who have chosen a tentative political orientation mainly as a reaction against its opposite. Conservatives who are more anti-leftist than they are really conservative. Or by the same token, liberals who are more anti-religious-right than they are really liberal.

(Or, deeper than politics: how many people embrace subjectivism as a reaction against intrinsicism? Or embrace intrinsicism as a reaction against subjectivism?)

One thing about this poll does not surprise me at all - the large number of Objectivists who were formerly not religious. Because if somebody is going to become an Objectivist, he'll need to think independently and hold his opinions in the face of strong objections. I can see how atheism would help here, because as an atheist, I was already used to doing this. I had already decided that truth was not determined by what other people thought; that other people's opinions of me didn't really matter much. So when I finally did discover Objectivism, I was able to just concentrate on what Rand was saying; nobody else's objections could dissuade me from what I'd decided was true.

In considering how receptive one will be to Objectivism, how one thinks is probably a lot more important than what one's political or religious views are. (So my guess is that this poll will reveal a relatively even distribution of former political orientations.)

....

Betsy, I'm really curious as to why you'd think most over-40 Objectists today would be former liberals. My experience is the exact opposite - in fact, I think all of the over-40 Objectivists I know today had at least conservative leanings before they discovered Rand; I don't think I know any of that age that are former liberals.

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So, among the American Objectivists here, are the ANY exceptions to my over/under forty observation?
Over 40 here, and mostly conservative pre-Objectivism.

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In considering how receptive one will be to Objectivism, how one thinks is probably a lot more important than what one's political or religious views are.
I agree very much with this. Even though politically I was mostly conservative before finding Objectivism, I was also a very independent thinker, and the truth was most important to me. I spent a lot of years looking for truth, and I didn't care where I found it as long as it was true. People actually had a very hard time classifying me. For instance, my father always thought I was a bleeding heart liberal, while my brother thought I was a Rush Limbaugh style conservative (though this was before Limbaugh came on the scene). I stood fast for the truth as I understood it (still do, natch), and it got me into a lot of arguments. (which I'm better at avoiding these days :blink:).

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I'm over 40, and Jay P's post is a pretty good description of my pre-Objectivist political philosophy. I voted for Republicans, but I've always been an atheist. Liberal anti-Americanism has always made me sick.

As for my parents, my father was a Democrat, my mother a Republican, but neither of them discussed politics. And while both were also religious, they were not church goers, and absolutely left us free to develop our own ideas in that regard.

The first philosopher that I read extensively, and influenced me, was Nietzsche.

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I selected strongly religious, but that was a bit of a tricky decision.

When I was young [~12-14] and first began to think about god I immediately separated the idea into two questions.

  • Do I trust god in my day to day life?
  • Does god exist?

I thought about how my grandmother sincerely prayed for green arrows when turning left at stoplights and decided I didn't have any faith, :blink: nor apparently needed it. Then I spent a year or so agonizing over the second question before I decided it was unanswerable and I didn't care. It didn't occur to me that this view of god conflicts with the teachings of the church because I had always seen god treated like a metaphor anyway. I thought I simply didn't need the metaphor, and people who took it literally were kind of scary and very dull.

I considered myself deeply religious because I loved church. I looked forward to it every week as an hour rest from regular duties/distractions set aside just for me to think. Think about truth, honesty, family, theft, belief, goodness, reality, anything that was interesting me or that the priest was touching on in his sermon. It was easy for me to do this too, because I attended a very modern sort of pragmatic Catholic church; my mother and Father John both encouraged discussion.

Religion was very much a necessary part of my life. I was uncommonly active in the church, and [based upon the people I'd met] I eschewed atheists as taking a disgusting delight in not knowing anything. Even after being involved with the works of Ayn Rand for some years, it was very difficult for me to leave.

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I thought about how my grandmother sincerely prayed for green arrows when turning left at stoplights and decided I didn't have any faith, :blink: ...

I considered myself deeply religious because I loved church. I looked forward to it every week as an hour rest from regular duties/distractions set aside just for me to think. Think about truth, honesty, family, theft, belief, goodness, reality, anything that was interesting me or that the priest was touching on in his sermon.

lol, Aurelia. What a great story!

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I'm an ex-libertarian, too.

I selected "no" for religious, but I was at one time extremely religious. I was raised in a very Bible-thumping household, and it makes me blush to this day to think of some of the things I said to my friends as a teenager. (How they remained my friends after I said things like "I'll be praying for you to change your mind," I don't know.)

I read Ayn Rand's novels (just Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead) for the first time when I was in high school, and still very much convinced that all the world needed religion. I wasn't ready for her ideas at the time. (In fact, I remember skipping the Galt speech because I didn't see how all that philosophizing made the story more interesting.) Still, I was shaken by the story, because it went against the ideas I'd been brought up with. However, I forgot about my doubts after a while, with a little more Bible reading. (Bleh.)

Once I got to college, and was surrounded by people who actively challenged my religious ideas, I realized that they couldn't stand up to scrutiny and ended up going un-religious. I continued to reread Rand's novels every so often in college and a few years after, and the ideas sank in slowly but I didn't fully espouse Objectivism until I met my boyfriend three years ago and got converted, so to speak. :blink: This is not to say that I adopted ideas for the sake of a romantic relationship, just that the man I love (and this is one reason why I love him) actively discussed philosophy with me, and I finally realized how much sense Ayn Rand made.

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Oops -- meant to add that, while I was very religious at one time, when I actually embraced Objectivism, by that time I had not been religious for several years.

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