Carl_Svanberg

Peikoff on the coming election

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Since many students of Objectivism read THE FORUM, I thought I should make this suggestion public: Can anyone close to Dr. Peikoff recommend this live-forum idea to him?

I've heard (but haven't confirmed) that he'll be speaking at next summer's conference in Colorado. That might not be good timing for asking him for further clarification on his opinion in advance of next month's elections, but that may be a chance to ask him ahead of the 2008 presidential race.

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Does Peikoff think that all religious people are a real threat? If that is truly the case then I think his comments are terribly unjust to many American Christians who do not engage in a ravenous and indiscriminate use of violence.

Jason,

Did you intend to convey the idea that only those who engage in "ravenous and indiscriminate use of violence" are a "real threat"? That is how your statement reads.

Perhaps you meant that American Christians "do not engage in a ravenous and indiscriminate use of violence" unlike Islamists. If that is what you meant, then I would say that this is a non-sequitir. It does not follow from the fact that few American Christians are likely to bomb people that they are not a "real threat"; in fact, they may be an even greater one. Certainly that is Peikoff's claim.

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Still, I don't believe someone of his epistemological ability would make these judgments without reasonable cause; and, if he is making these comments without the full context, I need to know this firsthand. The only way I can do so is to either question him myself or have someone do so verifiably on my behalf.

On Dr. Peikoff's web site there is a contact page here and you can use the links there to ask your questions and express your concerns.

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I am evaluating candidates on the basis of their expressed and demonstrated ideas and policy positions. In Florida, the Senate race is easy: Katherine Harris (Rep) has destroyed any credibility by her indiscreet and dogmatic statements asserting that she does not believe in the separation of church and state. So I will vote Democratic--the opponent is the better choice. As for the Congressional seat in my district, the incumbent is a Democrat, and unopposed. No choice there except not to vote. But he is relatively benign in contrast to some others, and at least a known factor who is at least accessible. The governor's race is more difficult: In comparing Crist (Rep) and Davis (Dem), I noted that Crist is vague on some key issues, trying not to offend any one. However, Davis has the support of the group backing Michael Schiavo in his position on the Right to Die case with regard to his wife's medical condition. These are not the only things I look at, but just some examples that give me some idea about the individual candidate. None of them is ideal, to an Objectivist, of course, but I look for some evidence of rationality.

I do not agree with Dr. Peikoff's opinion that one should consistently vote Democratic, simply because individual candidates do differ. However, in spite of my usual Republican voting patterns, I have increasingly become more disgusted with the Republican Party as a whole.

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Perhaps you meant that American Christians "do not engage in a ravenous and indiscriminate use of violence" unlike Islamists. If that is what you meant, then I would say that this is a non-sequitir. It does not follow from the fact that few American Christians are likely to bomb people that they are not a "real threat"; in fact, they may be an even greater one. Certainly that is Peikoff's claim.

Some hold (and I am not one of them) that American Christians are a potential threat, but as Peikoff has always argued with regard to abortion, the potential is not the actual. Islamicists are an actual threat.

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Some hold (and I am not one of them) that American Christians are a potential threat, but as Peikoff has always argued with regard to abortion, the potential is not the actual. Islamicists are an actual threat.

Can you elaborate on why you don't regard the American Christians as a potential threat? Thanks.

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On Dr. Peikoff's web site there is a contact page here and you can use the links there to ask your questions and express your concerns.

On his site, he says: "Because of time constraints, I am not able to answer the countless philosophic questions I receive. I regret this, because many of the questions are intelligent and important. I suggest that you direct your questions to the Ayn Rand Institute."

This is why I think someone close to him would be more effective in pushing my suggestion - it is unikely he'll ever read my email.

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Can you elaborate on why you don't regard the American Christians as a potential threat?

The apparent success religionists have had is only by default because they have filled the unmet need for values created by the nihilist Left. Objectivists can meet that need much better and, as long as we are free to spread our ideas, we will.

Post-Renaissance, post-Enlightenment Jews and Christians have made no demonstrable efforts to forceably convert non-believers to their faith.

Since religion is a matter of faith, religions have throughout history been at war with each other and that should keep them too busy to stop us. In this country, I see the battle being between the small, timid moves toward a few religion-inspired laws and the ACLU and Democrats eager to stop anything coming from the Right.

Ultimately religion is out of sync with reality, so it can't succeed. Reality is our ally, and we will win.

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On his site, he says: "Because of time constraints, I am not able to answer the countless philosophic questions I receive. I regret this, because many of the questions are intelligent and important. I suggest that you direct your questions to the Ayn Rand Institute."

This is why I think someone close to him would be more effective in pushing my suggestion - it is unikely he'll ever read my email.

Whether or not he replies, I think he will read it or be informed of its contents. That's why the link is there. If he gets enough e-mail indicating widespread disagreement or confusion about his political views, he may decide to post clarifying remarks.

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Why is voting for neither party's candidates immoral rather than possibly mistaken -- especially if done "unwittingly" as stated in the last sentence?

Is it really possible to not be aware of the fact that the vast majority of the evangelicals vote for the republicans?

A political party does not have to agree with all those who vote for it -- the voters have to agree with the party.

Also, maybe the evangelicals vote for the Republicans because they believe that the Republicans, not the Democrats, will actually win the war against the jihadists. Unless you establish a cause and effect relationship, your so-called "fact" is of little epistemological significance.

Or that the republicans, at least lately, have been "hijacked" by the religious right?

I'm glad that you put "hijacked" in scare quotes, because in this context it is a deliberately ill-defined action that has emotional appeal but is empty of reason and fact. Until and unless you define what is meant by "hijacked" in this context, and then justify its use in some quantifiable manner, by reference to actual facts instead of innuendo, then this assertion too is of little epistemological significance.

That the secular republicans are a very small minority?

Do you have any actual facts to support that assertion? Unless you do, it is of little epistemological significance.

I.e., is it really possible to make a honest mistake in this issue, after one has conscientiously studied the facts in the matter?

"tudied the facts?" Well, where are they? I have seen assertions and innuendo, but virtually nothing in the way of facts.

I don't think so.

So, you are willing to proclaim an entire group of Objectivists as being dishonest, based on them disagreeing with a conclusion for which the only evidence offered is assertion and innuendo? To paraphrase your own question: is it really possible to make an honest mistake in this issue if one draws a conclusion but has not conscientiously studied the facts in the matter? I don't think so.

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------------

2. Is it really possible to not be aware of the fact that the vast majority of the evangelicals vote for the republicans? Or that the republicans, at least lately, have been "hijacked" by the religious right? That the secular republicans are a very small minority? I.e., is it really possible to make a honest mistake in this issue, after one has conscientiously studied the facts in the matter? I don't think so.

----------

I maintain that the evangelicals are the ones who are in the small minority. The so-called religious right has had a Republican congress and Senate since the mid-1990's, a Republican president for 5 years. Can you name any piece of legislation that has been passed that even has a trace of establishing a theocracy in this country? And, if you're going to bring up specific laws, please reference the context that Stephen provided in his post here.

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... for an Objectivist close to Dr. Peikoff to suggest the arrangment of an open, live forum (preferably face-to-face), in order for those of us in disagreement with Dr. P's position to ask him questions.

If you don't mind, could you briefly indicate, say, the top two questions that you would like to ask him?

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It looks like this will be another election where there is substantial disagreement among Objectivists about voting.

It is true that "the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction; the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power" but that is NOT the essential issue of this election.

We are at war with an Islamic totalitarianism that threatens the lives and rights of all Americans. The Democrats stand for ignoring the threat and impeding all efforts to fight it and the Republicans stand for fighting the Islamicists in a limited, half-hearted way.

Given that choice, my vote is obvious.

Thank you, Betsy. Those are exactly my feelings, too.

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Perhaps you [Jason] meant that American Christians "do not engage in a ravenous and indiscriminate use of violence" unlike Islamists. If that is what you meant, then I would say that this is a non-sequitir. It does not follow from the fact that few American Christians are likely to bomb people that they are not a "real threat"; in fact, they may be an even greater one. Certainly that is Peikoff's claim.

Some hold (and I am not one of them) that American Christians are a potential threat...

I know that's your position, Betsy. But just to be clear, my response to Jason had a broader context. It could be recast this way:

"It does not follow that because [insert any intellectual movement] are not likely to bomb people, then they are not a "real threat"; in fact, they may be an even greater one."

If this were not a true statement, then there would be nothing to debate. Peikoff's comments about the Right would simply be wrong on their face, and that would be the end of it.

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"It does not follow that because [insert any intellectual movement] are not likely to bomb people, then they are not a "real threat"; in fact, they may be an even greater one."

Wrong and irrational ideas that are out of sync with reality are a threat to human welfare only when (1) they are imposed by force and/or (2) there are no rational alternatives.

We can and must fight those who would initiate force and we DO have a rational alternative, In that context, Evangelical Christians are about as much a threat to Objectivists as the Amish.

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Post-Renaissance, post-Enlightenment Jews and Christians have made no demonstrable efforts to forceably convert non-believers to their faith.

I agree. My view of the Orthodox threat in Israel has changed after I observed the conduct of the Orthodox residents of Gush Katif pending their evacuation in August of 2005. They prayed and expected a mircale that would stop the evacuation, but did not attack the soldiers and policemen who came to evacuate them. Their protests and sit-ins were within the boundaries of civil disobedience and they ultimately accepted the decree of the civil authorities and left.

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Wrong and irrational ideas that are out of sync with reality are a threat to human welfare only when (1) they are imposed by force and/or (2) there are no rational alternatives.

We can and must fight those who would initiate force and we DO have a rational alternative, In that context, Evangelical Christians are about as much a threat to Objectivists as the Amish.

I am unsure I understand your point. Here is my view. In the marketplace of ideas, religious ideas are no threat to Objectivists, for the reason you gave -- they are disconnected from reality.

The issue that concerns me, however, is to what extent religious people (left and right) are a threat to the marketplace of ideas. If religious people -- left and right -- assault the marketplace of ideas as a free arena of discussion, then Objectivists are threatened -- with censorship, in its direct or indirect forms.

On the subject of this thread, I question whether, relative to each other, either leftist religious people or rightist religious people are a greater threat to my freedom of speech (or other rights). I don't see any basic difference between the two wings of religiosity, only a difference in style and their choice of particular victims.

Further, at least for the next generation, I am not worried about the establishment of a theocracy (defined briefly as totalitarian substitution of God's laws for secular laws), from either the left or the right.

What I am concerned about is an ever-growing welfare state supported by religious people of all stripes and in varying degrees of religiosity. As Dr. Thompson pointed out in his current The Objective Standard article, "compassion" is a common denominator of left and right, and "compassion" in its many variants is the rationale for all sorts of attacks on my rights.

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Peikoff on the coming election (October 19, 2006)

I think Dr Peikoff is essentially correct in his estimate. What's your opinion?

I agree with Dr. Peikoff. The Democrats are incapable of holding any ideology due to their inability to be certain about anything. It is impossible for them to hold any long-term view. They are environmentalists today, and who knows what, tomorrow. They are less dangerous because they can't act on conviction.

The religiously ideological Republicans are much more likely to come in with guns, break down your door and put you in chains, or worse, for not believing in spirits or the correct spirit. They are as bad as the democrats and worse. They are for the welfare state, environmentalism and most everything else the democrats are for. But worse, they are against individual rights, science, and medical advancement, for mystical reasons. Bush and his team have rigorously courted the religious fundamentalist right. This is a huge organized movement across the U.S. There is a resurgence of religion on college campuses and the "praise & worship" movement is re-invigorating the churches.

Creationism is now being taught along with what little actual Science that is being taught in the schools. But the main dangerous thing about the Bush-Republicans is that they are highly organized and pushing a religious agenda. They are religious zealots.

Sixty years ago, people were religious, but they still had common sense and believed in science. Religion was not a part of the curriculum in the schools. We were able to fight and win W.W. II. We did not have the fawning, religion-inspired altruistic, kind and gentle approach to war that the Republicans push today.

The Republicans certainly are not doing a good job fighting terrorism. They have our best people bogged down in a no-win war in Iraq. They do not believe in totally destroying the enemy. I agree that the Democrats seem to be weak on defense. But which is worse, to take a few hits from the Al Qaeda or to become a Christian theocracy? I don't think that Al Qaeda's best effort can destroy America. They can do a lot of damage, but not the damage to the Republic that the Republican-Religious-Right can.

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I agree with much of Dr. Peikoff's view except for his charges of immorality.

The argument has been made several times that the U.S. had more religion-inspired laws in the past a few more so in the future would not push us into a theocracy. Thus it would be better to vote for the Republicans because we have got a greater chance of defeating fundamentalist Islam with them in charge.

In my opinion, this argument is wrong on two levels. Firstly, although the US had more Christianity inspired laws in the past, the American people were generally rational. Religion in the past was mainly an after-effect of the Dark Ages and was a dying force. There was no organized movement for entrenching religion into the government at that time. There was an organized movement for entrenching socialism into our laws. The American people themselves were different at that time.

Today a large number of Americans have lost their sense of life. Just as an example, do you think that the American people of the 40's would have stood for the kind of altruistic warfare which is being fought now after a direct major attack by the enemy?

Today there is no organized movement for socialism in the US - not like there was in the 30s or the 50s or the 60s. There is however an organized movement for the entrenchment of Christianity into the laws of the country. And that movement is becoming increasingly popular.

As for the argument that we have a better chance of winning against the Islamists with the Republicans in charge, I don't think so. The Republicans today aren't fighting a limited, half-hearted war. They are not fighting at all. Diplomacy with Iran is not fighting a war, it is downright surrender. The only difference is that the Republicans are calling their no-war a war while the Democrats would call their no-war a no-war. If Kerry had been elected in '04, the alternatives in the minds of most people wouldn't be the no-war of Republicans vs. the no-war of Democrats, the alternatives would have been a total war vs. the no-war of the Democrats. In the short term the Democrats would have been worse than the Republicans for America. In the long term they would have been better.

Similarly today, if the Democrats are elected, there is a chance that the total war alternative would again resurface on the table. If the Republicans are elected, then it is pretty much a guarantee that we will continue the way we are doing today.

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The issue that concerns me, however, is to what extent religious people (left and right) are a threat to the marketplace of ideas. If religious people -- left and right -- assault the marketplace of ideas as a free arena of discussion, then Objectivists are threatened -- with censorship, in its direct or indirect forms.

But observe just who is instigating politically correct speech codes, forceably shouting down and threatening speakers on college campuses, promulgating "campaign finance reform," working for the return of the "Fairness Doctrine" on radio and TV, and trying to regulate the internet. It's the Left.

What I am concerned about is an ever-growing welfare state supported by religious people of all stripes and in varying degrees of religiosity. As Dr. Thompson pointed out in his current The Objective Standard article, "compassion" is a common denominator of left and right, and "compassion" in its many variants is the rationale for all sorts of attacks on my rights.

Observe that the Left is much more consistently "compassionate" -- i.e., altruistic -- than the tax-cutting, welfare-reforming politicians on the Right.

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One more thing -

Since the Christians are not right now declaring their intentions to break down you doors with guns they aren't a short term problem. But radical Islam too wasn't a short term problem in the 40s.

Just because the Republicans aren't trying to establish Bible-based censorship (except in matters of sexuality), does not mean they won't try it if they think they have a chance say 20-30 years later.

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But observe just who is instigating politically correct speech codes, forceably shouting down and threatening speakers on college campuses, promulgating "campaign finance reform," working for the return of the "Fairness Doctrine" on radio and TV, and trying to regulate the internet. It's the Left.

Sure but the Left isn't doing it as a matter of ideology. The Left is anti-ideological. If today we had the 50s Left instead of the hippie Left, the Left would have been a great threat. However because of their hatred of ideas, their nihilism, they are impotent politically. They may increase censorship through the Campaign Finance Reform or the Fairness Doctrine but they don't have the will to establish an explicit system of censorship on the basis of a specific ideology.

The Right is different - they are not anti-ideological. And the mainstream Republicans are increasingly accepting an ideology based on the Bible.

The Left maybe and probably will be more destructive in the short term but the Right will be much more destructive in the long term.

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We are at war with an Islamic totalitarianism that threatens the lives and rights of all Americans. The Democrats stand for ignoring the threat and impeding all efforts to fight it and the Republicans stand for fighting the Islamicists in a limited, half-hearted way.

Given that choice, my vote is obvious.

Even so, if it's a close vote for anyone here, write a letter if you want to make a bigger difference. Explain that you expect progress on this count, and that it's highly unlikely that a single issue will preserve your vote when the next election comes around. Resend the letter with a reminder now and then between elections as well... politicians can't be allowed to believe that actions near elections are the only actions that count.

If you normally make political contributions, consider stopping and letting them know why. The one and only time I got a response directly from a senator instead of a form letter or a note from fundraising staff was when, between elections, I sent an angry note along with a zero dollar check.

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The religiously ideological Republicans are much more likely to come in with guns, break down your door and put you in chains, or worse, for not believing in spirits or the correct spirit.

Where? In Waco? Oh, that was Democrat Bill Clinton. Or maybe in Detroit after the Islamicists take over with the help of all those Democrats who think the War on Terror is a police action?

They are as bad as the democrats and worse. They are for the welfare state, environmentalism and most everything else the democrats are for.

But not as much, as quickly, or as consistently. It's diluted poison, not the straight stuff.

But worse, they are against individual rights, science, and medical advancement, for mystical reasons.

And the left is against indivudual rights, science, and medical advancement because they want political power over our lives, environmentalism, socialized medicine, the FDA, etc., etc.

I agree that the Democrats seem to be weak on defense. But which is worse, to take a few hits from the Al Qaeda or to become a Christian theocracy?

The former because, for reason already stated elsewhere, the latter will not and cannot happen.

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Sure but the Left isn't doing it as a matter of ideology. The Left is anti-ideological.

Nihilism is an ideology and the most destructive of all. Observe that the Left has become a political ally of the Islamicists.

However because of their hatred of ideas, their nihilism, they are impotent politically. They may increase censorship through the Campaign Finance Reform or the Fairness Doctrine but they don't have the will to establish an explicit system of censorship on the basis of a specific ideology.

All they want to do -- and in many cases HAVE done -- is to censor the ideas they are against.

Like OURS.

The Right is different - they are not anti-ideological. And the mainstream Republicans are increasingly accepting an ideology based on the Bible.

SOME of them are, but hat's THEIR problem. I don't see them trying to force the Bible on ME.

The Left maybe and probably will be more destructive in the short term but the Right will be much more destructive in the long term.

How, if they don't use force the way the Left does?

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