Comments from NoodleFood


Note: This comment system was replaced with Disqus in May 2010.

Comment #1

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 11:18:04 mst
Name: Halidryn

Diana, I disagree with your conclusion that voting for the candidates of the Democratic party is a proper response to the hypocrisy and ideologies demonstrated by the Republicans. My principal point of contention is that I do not believe that the ideological force of the left is spent, and since the tenor of the Democratic party continues to reflect that position, I believe that any Democrat successes will only serve to sanction it.
I will certainly not dissect your essay - other respondents may have more time and energy (and discipline, and ability) to do that - but I would like to include a quote for consideration from Ayn Rand's "Anatomy of Compromise" (1964). I think it still points up the essential issue - that we are in a political-philosophical vacuum:
" 1. In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.
" 2. In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.
" 3. When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; whne they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side." [emphases omitted for formatting]



Comment #2

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:15:46 mst
Name: z

I was a little suprised with Peikoff's statement, but I did appreciate his bluntness. I've been stuck worrying about the gloating we'll hear from winning democrats, while giving Republicans a pass. Peikoff gave me a wake-up call and I'm glad he wrote it that way. Frankly, when I'm wrong I enjoy being told in no uncertain terms that I'm objectively wrong. What reason would there be to water it down, to protect my feelings? I was hanging around the Forum, and was suprised I couldn't find anyone who supported LP. I didn't read every single post but, there seemed to be a lot of offended people.

I also agree with Diana on the issue of calling people immoral. I thought it was a stretch for people to get offended by that, the way it was written. I was a little hurt to think that I might have "no understanding of the role of philosophy...", but this is a serious issue, and I recognize that my thinking has not been thorough enough, not only on this issue.



Comment #3

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:20:48 mst
Name: Stephen Macklin
URL: http://nomayo.mu.nu

I don't think the left in this country, or the Democratic Party, has given up on the idea of socialism. Keep in mind that their primary criticisms of the current GOP's socialistic policies is that they just didn't go far enough. The prescription drug benefit was not big enough, no child left behind was underfunded etc. The choice between Republican and Democrat amounts to "name your poison." I don't see the cause of liberty or the sanctity of the individual given anything more than lip service, if it even gets that, from either.

The only choice I can make with a clear conscience is to shrug.



Comment #4

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:29:45 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

The arguments presented for voting for the Democrats are based on the premise that having and keeping the Republicans in power is leading to a theocracy. Check that premise!

First, we must define our terms clearly. A theocracy is a TOTALITARIAN government enforcing religious rules of conduct by FORCE. It is not merely a government with some religion-inspired laws. It is not just a government run by or supported by people who are seriously (or dementedly) religious. The latter are wrong and contemptible, but without the government imposing religious rules by force, they don't have to affect the choices and actions of rational people.

But, after 12 years of Republican control in Congress, six years in the White House, and the intellectual and political forces at work since Reagan in the 1980's, is there a TREND toward theocracy -- i.e., toward imposing religious rules by force? What are the facts?

In the 1940-50's USA I grew up in, we had to start every public school day with ten verses from the Bible. It was the law. Abortion was illegal in every single state and birth control of any kind was illegal in many states. Homosexuality was a crime. Adultery was the only grounds for getting a divorce and the process took years. It was a crime to have a store open on the "Lord's Day." My state-approved biology textbook hardly mentioned evolution.

This was god-awful, but it was NOT a theocracy.

Since then the trend has been AWAY from all these laws although some Conservatives have made feeble attempts to restore a few of them, in watered-down form, with almost no political success.

Would-be theocrats have serious obstacles to overcome: the Constitution, life-tenured sitting Federal judges, liberals and Democrats, the ACLU, and all the Christians and conservatives who don't want their views imposed by force.

Because politics is an effect and not a cause, before theocrats can take over the government, they have to take over the culture. That means, as Objectivists always point out, taking over the colleges. The liberal Leftists are firmly entrenched everywhere in Academia -- even in the Christian colleges -- with Objectivists beginning to make small, but significant, inroads.

Therefore, there is no trend and NO POSSIBILITY of conservative Republicans imposing a Christian theocracy on the U.S. even if they wanted to -- and I don't see any evidence that mainstream Republicans, Conservatives, and Christians want to.



Comment #5

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:46:28 mst
Name: Katherine

Your arguments and defense of Dr. Peikoff's statement are insightful and valid.

Although I plan to vote for the Democrats this November, I cannot help but still feel some modicum of despair that, though we may vote against their candidates, the Christians of this nation will continue to seek a stranglehold on the rest of the population. Naturally, we must vote down their ideology when given the opportunity, but I think many Objectivists are failing to recognize that it is the adoptation of Christianit morality by an increasing number of individuals in our society that poses the most serious threat to freedom. The philosophy of our leaders matters, but the philosophy of the individuals who vote for these leaders matters just as much, if not significantly more.



Comment #6

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:53:07 mst
Name: PMG
URL: http://seandwicscop.blogspot.com/

Diana,
Thank you for a masterly post. I had been previously decided to simply not vote (as Harry Binswanger has endorsed this year; also recently there has been a large amount of support for Dr. Peikoff's position on HBL) but I've been reconsidering since reading Dr. Peikoff's thoughts. You've fleshed them out very nicely and now I think I'm decided to vote Democrat (as painful as the thought of that is - we'll have to see if I can actually bring myself to punch that out on the ballot!). In fact I'm beginning to wish I'd listened to Dr. Peikoff (and John Lewis) in 2004: he understands Objectivism better than anyone else alive and his suggestions are nothing to sneeze at.



Comment #7

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:58:35 mst
Name: Ergo
URL: http://ergosum.wordpress.com

Diana said: "Republican candidates clearly display their Christian credentials in their campaign literature and declare their intention to govern by Christian principles."

Mark over at "Late Night Rants" highlights yet another example of such a candidate (Michele Bachmann) openly advocating governing under the guidance of religion. Candidates loudly professing their faith (mostly Christian) have become emboldened lately, such that NOT declaring your allegiance to faith is a sign of moral failure, and further, political failure.

<http://latenightrants.blogspot.com/2006/10/michele-bachmann-grade-nut_116209818739077110.html>



Comment #8

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 13:18:37 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

Brilliant.

Thank you so much for succinctly saying what I have been unable to get across to people on The Forum. This was incredibly articulate. People do not understand the fundamental shift in philosophy that has taken place in the Christian community. They do not understand the appeals to socialism and extreme self-sacrifice that are found not only in the gospels but also the epistles, which Republicans now uphold. As long as they continue to ignore the difference between what is represented by a white steepled Methodist or Presbyterian church of the 50s to what is represented by the octagonal monstrosities emerging across the landscape, they will not understand.



Comment #9

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 13:19:38 mst
Name: John Powers

Diana, thank you for your brilliant post. Like you, I was torn in 2004 (and ended up voting for Bush). I will vote for the Democrats this time around, with great reservation. There is so much to say on this issue, I don't think I can even begin to dissect the arguments for Bush made by Objectivists (which you have already done). All I wish to add is a small item pertaining to the gubernatorial race in Ohio.

Ken Blackwell, the Republican, is well supported by the Christian Right. He pays lip service to lower taxes, gun rights, etc., but Objectivists I know have stopped short of examining the words of the people he hangs around with. Blackwell, being a candidate, is not nearly candid on his true beliefs. Read what the Reverend Rod Parsely, a televangelist and MAJOR supporter of Blackwell, has to say:

"The Rev. Rod Parsley, co-founder of the Ohio Reformation Movement that is organizing through Ohio's megachurches to get Ken Blackwell elected, has declared Ohio "a training ground that will launch a national reformation." Parsley doesn't shy away from theocracy.
Americans must be 'Christocrats" -- citizens of both their country and the Kingdom of God -- the Rev. Rod Parsley told his congregation at the World Harvest Church, located just outside Columbus, Ohio. "And that is not a democracy; that is a theocracy," he said. "That means God is in control, and you are not.""

Others in Blackwell's campaign have stated explicitly that they are in favor of authoritarian government. Yes, that term was used. It's imporant that they see it as the start or affirmation of a national trend. I can't expound on all of this now, and the comments area is not appropriate for it. But if you live in Ohio, please do not vote for Blackwell.



Comment #10

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 13:24:51 mst
Name: Amy L Peikoff

Thanks, Diana, for this.

Living in Colorado Springs, I see the Evangelicals' aspirations to political power first hand. Ted Haggerty, lead pastor of the New Life Church, is Bush's religious advisor and there are local pastors, who have worked for Haggerty, who are now running for office. In other words -- these people are not just trying to influence Republicans from the sidelines, they are working to gain positions of power in government. Such individuals are the most extreme and consistent among the religious right which means, in the long run, they will be the ones who take over the Republican party. Unless they are stopped.

I will be voting Democrat this election because this is necessary for our long term survival (if there is to be a long term).

Amy



Comment #11

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 14:19:44 mst
Name: Bill Visconti

I'm starting to think that this is way over my head. I'm bouncing around like a billiard ball.

However I will say that what I really appreciate about Diana's post is her respect for Dr. Peikoff. Why are so many people so willing to insult him?

Up to this point I was very sympathetic to pro-Republican Objectivist views of the TIA variety. But since reading Dr. Peikoff's views I have begun the process of rethinking that. I have alot more thinking to do before I make a final decision.

Thank you Diana for an incredibly insightful post. I may not agree with everything in it, but it is forcing me to think.



Comment #12

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 15:05:27 mst
Name: Vespasiano

I place no special significance upon Dr. Peikoff's recent piece with respect to the upcoming elections. In no way is this meant as a slight to him: I have read many such interesting and essentially well-argued pieces in this regard. Furthermore, as regards what some have characterized as the "offensive" manner of his remarks, the times in which we are living do not call for the kind of wishy-washiness that so frequently distinguishes what politeness has come to mean in some circles, and I appreciate the bluntness, quite frankly, that many of these pieces, including Dr. Peikoff's, have brought to the discussion.

Ultimately, however, it is the judgment of my own mind that must and will be the only authority consulted in this matter and it is what appears to me to be a kind of "solicitation" for outside authority that comes through in many of the assessments of Dr. Peikoff's remarks, both pro and con, that is truly shocking to me especially with respect to those offered by individuals who claim an affiliation with Objectivism.

That said, with specific regard to Dr. Peikoff's arguments, and with due respect for Dr. Peikoff himself, I remain unconvinced most especially by his characterization of the Republican Party as a theocratic monolith and what I view as his consequent evasion of the role of "religious faith" as an essential motivator for Democrat Party positions . . . such as they are. Peikoff's arguments aside, I remain unshaken in my view that the Democrat Party as it exists today is dominated by the nihilistic and disproved premises of the international political Left and, as such, represents nothing within the political realm so much as the total abandonment of the principles of MODERN Western Civilization and, in particular, of the individual and the individual's faculty of reason which are the essentials of that civilization. In this respect, those Democrats and former Democrats who stand in opposition to this trend have become unwelcome "guests" at the Democrat Party table. Conversely, the only positive discussions which are taking place in today's political milieu are occurring either within the Republican Party itself or amongst those individuals who, finding themselves ostracized by the Leftists who dominate the Democrat Party, have aligned themselves (sometimes uncomfortably) with either Republicans or other, independent, voices. This is where the future of this nation lies, where there is much constructive work still to be done. The Democrat Party is not a viable alternative to the Republican Party and those religionists who comprise a segment of it no matter how significant. Rather, the Democrat Party has become the party of suicide and I, for one, have no intention of committing it just yet.

Consequently, I will not be voting for Democrats in this election nor do I see any valid reason even for considering voting for a Democrat presidential candidate in 2008 except, of course, in the currently unlikely event that an individual such as Senator Lieberman, for example, is "permitted" back into the party fold -- and on his own "classical" liberal terms -- and is the Party's candidate in that contest.



Comment #13

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 15:15:04 mst
Name: RussK

Besty:

I can agree that there has been a trend away from Christianity as you've said; however, this does not discount the new trend toward Christianity that is occuring. It is this new trend that has become a threat, and reverting back to what you described in the 50's-60's is not an option for me. It's about stoping this trend before it becomes stronger.



Comment #14

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 15:34:19 mst
Name: D Eastbrook

The biggest objections that I see to Diana's and Dr. Peikoff's arguments are that they have overstated the current threat posed by religion and that they minimize the total nihilism of the Left. I am inclined to agree with those objections. I read Betsy Speicher's post with great interest. Historically it does seem that religion is getting weaker not stronger. Is there any doubt that the culture of today is far less restricted by religion than that of the 40's and 50's?

I'm not minimizing Dr. Peikoff's arguments. I have heard the DIM Hypothesis course and I though it was awesome. I agree that religion is mankind's oldest and greatest enemy. And yes, philosophically there is a danger that religion will relclaim the West. But IMO on a time scale much longer than has been stated. I am of the opinion that the nihilism of the Left is a greater *immediate* danger than the religiosity of the right.

The reality is that we are in grave danger from both sides. But I don't see how voting for nihilists could make things better. It seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.



Comment #15

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 15:56:03 mst
Name: Jared Seehafer

Betsy Speicher writes:

"In the 1940-50's USA I grew up in, we had to start every public school day with ten verses from the Bible. It was the law. Abortion was illegal in every single state and birth control of any kind was illegal in many states. Homosexuality was a crime. Adultery was the only grounds for getting a divorce and the process took years. It was a crime to have a store open on the "Lord's Day." My state-approved biology textbook hardly mentioned evolution.

This was god-awful, but it was NOT a theocracy."

A comparison of today with the 40's or 50's overlooks the crucial factor that the Left was alive and well back then. America was not that far removed from the Red Decade, and FDR had just led America through World War II. Today, the Left is dead, ideologically. If someone wishes to choose a value system today, and has no knowledge of Objectivism, they have one choice: religion. This gives the Republicans enormous power. If you want a concrete example of this, go to any politically active college campus. The leftist groups are splintered and not well organized - the right, on the other hand, is well organized under the Republican party. This is our future.

In response to Halidryn, who quoted from the Anatomy of Compromise:

"When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side."

This supports the choice of voting for the Democrats. This is especially clear in the context of the war: if the Democrats had been leading the country for the last 3 years, the results would have been rightly decried as ineptitude and weakness on their part. Instead, they have somehow become the standard, because the war has been led by the "hawkish" Republicans.

Quoting John Lewis: <http://theobjectivestandard.com/blog/2006/10/why-i-will-not-vote-for-any-republican_29.asp>

"In my view, if our choice is between two forms of welfare redistribution and military timidity, we would be best off with a president who openly espouses these ideas, and makes no claims to support the opposite. This would not lead to better policies, but it would result in clarity, a point of focus for an opposition, and a better chance for a true alternative to take hold.

Suppose that Gore had been elected in the fall of 2000. The 9/11 attacks would have occurred, but there would have been no confusion about what caused them: democratic weakness, not Republican "offense." Gore would have been forced to look strong, in the face of Republican opposition. Welfare-state spending would be blamed on Democratic welfare-statism, not the Republican "free market." Persecution of businessmen would be blamed on Elliot Spitzer, not the "pro-business" philosophy of Alberto Gonzales."



Comment #16

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 15:56:03 mst
Name: Jared Seehafer

Betsy Speicher writes:

"In the 1940-50's USA I grew up in, we had to start every public school day with ten verses from the Bible. It was the law. Abortion was illegal in every single state and birth control of any kind was illegal in many states. Homosexuality was a crime. Adultery was the only grounds for getting a divorce and the process took years. It was a crime to have a store open on the "Lord's Day." My state-approved biology textbook hardly mentioned evolution.

This was god-awful, but it was NOT a theocracy."

A comparison of today with the 40's or 50's overlooks the crucial factor that the Left was alive and well back then. America was not that far removed from the Red Decade, and FDR had just led America through World War II. Today, the Left is dead, ideologically. If someone wishes to choose a value system today, and has no knowledge of Objectivism, they have one choice: religion. This gives the Republicans enormous power. If you want a concrete example of this, go to any politically active college campus. The leftist groups are splintered and not well organized - the right, on the other hand, is well organized under the Republican party. This is our future.

In response to Halidryn, who quoted from the Anatomy of Compromise:

"When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side."

This supports the choice of voting for the Democrats. This is especially clear in the context of the war: if the Democrats had been leading the country for the last 3 years, the results would have been rightly decried as ineptitude and weakness on their part. Instead, they have somehow become the standard, because the war has been led by the "hawkish" Republicans.

Quoting John Lewis: <http://theobjectivestandard.com/blog/2006/10/why-i-will-not-vote-for-any-republican_29.asp>

"In my view, if our choice is between two forms of welfare redistribution and military timidity, we would be best off with a president who openly espouses these ideas, and makes no claims to support the opposite. This would not lead to better policies, but it would result in clarity, a point of focus for an opposition, and a better chance for a true alternative to take hold.

Suppose that Gore had been elected in the fall of 2000. The 9/11 attacks would have occurred, but there would have been no confusion about what caused them: democratic weakness, not Republican "offense." Gore would have been forced to look strong, in the face of Republican opposition. Welfare-state spending would be blamed on Democratic welfare-statism, not the Republican "free market." Persecution of businessmen would be blamed on Elliot Spitzer, not the "pro-business" philosophy of Alberto Gonzales."



Comment #17

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 16:30:50 mst
Name: JR

"Dr. John Lewis rightly argued that America ought to demand that the Muslim world wholly separate mosque and state. As in Shinto Japan after World War II, Muslims would be free to pray to Allah in their private lives, but Islam would be barred from public life and politics, including education. Muslims could rationalize that public secularism however they pleased -- or abandon Islam entirely. Such secular government in Muslim countries is required to eliminate their threat to the West. "

Ms. Hsieh,

If Jordan, Morroco, Indonesia and Malaysia reject this "demand," what should the US do? Should the US begin military action against them until they acquiese? Should the US use nukes?



Comment #18

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 16:34:54 mst
Name: Jeff Perren

"This supports the choice of voting for the Democrats. This is especially clear in the context of the war: if the Democrats had been leading the country for the last 3 years, the results would have been rightly decried as ineptitude and weakness on their part. Instead, they have somehow become the standard, because the war has been led by the "hawkish" Republicans."

Only the Democrats and their supporters view the Republicans support for the war the last few years as "hawkish". The Republicans and their supporters are mightily pissed about having done too little, too weakly and apologetically.

Further, the faux-liberals -- whatever their ineptitude at organizing rallies on campus -- are firmly in control in the classroom, where it counts. The faux-liberals, their views, ideas and policies are (I'm sorry to say) alive and well and growing increasingly more entrenched all the time.

I have attempted to show why, in principle and with examples, on the SOLO thread devoted to this discussion.

<http://www.solopassion.com/node/1811#comment>

I'll address the 'the Republicans are viewed as the part of pro-defense, pro-free markets Party and therefore better to have the Democrats who are openly hostile to these' and similar views at length later.

For now, I limit myself to this:

"Suppose that Gore had been elected in the fall of 2000. The 9/11 attacks would have occurred, but there would have been no confusion about what caused them: democratic weakness, not Republican "offense."

No, the cause would still have been identified as what is was: Islamist aggression. Only Gore, et al, would have done nothing but talk.



Comment #19

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 16:39:06 mst
Name: Sascha Settegast
URL: http://heroicdreams.blogg.de

Diana, thank you for your elaboration. Although I did agree with Dr. Peikoff in the first place, this helped me a lot to get a firmer grip on the problem. Since I live in Germany, it is not always easy to observe the political situation and ongoings in the US, since German media reporting on US foreign policy is propagandistically distorted by German Anti-Americanism and the reporting on US home policy is almost non-existent.



Comment #20

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 16:42:20 mst
Name: Jawaid Bazyar

I'm going to throw in my thoughts on the matter of politics in general. These are my thoughts and are not intended to be a philosophic treatise. I would enjoy a further discussion with some of my Objectivist friends.

First, in the absence of a supporting argument, the statement on Dr. Peikoff's web site came across to me as argument from intimidation. I am sure he has put a great deal of thought into his position but I don't think the details of his thought have been widely shared. After the fact it seems ARI is making some of the Doctor's DIM lectures available, which will help, but I can certainly understand the widespread negative reaction to the brief statement on his web site. If I were him I would be tired of answering this question - asking it is an appeal to authority and in my opinion not very Objectivist! "Tell me what to do!".

Without even reading it, I am certain that I would agree with Dr. Peikoff's concerns about the threat that religion poses to our civilization. But I do not believe this agreement translates easily into a voting checklist.

That said, secondly, I have to disagree that the Democrats are entirely powerless, devoid of principle, and totally degenerating. My observation of the party over the past 8 years is that they are to some degree simply a party of disparate issues, stapled together without concern for principle. But the same could be said of any US political party - that's just the way our system works. Winner-take-all forces parties here to put together coalitions of sometimes disparate elements in order to achieve a majority. The Democrats have been wayward for some time, but that is changing.

I have been following in detail since the 2004 election the activities of groups in the "progressive movement" such as MoveOn. These are no wishy-washy pragmatists. The people behind the organization are committed Socialists and are violently opposed to capitalism. They claim 3 million members in the US and are largely responsible for such surprises as the Lieberman primary defeat. They have developed an extremely effective method for instantaneous fund-raising for targeted issues using the Internet, and they are dangerous. Very dangerous. They have consistently opposed free speech, are consistently in favor of Socialist economic policies, and by my observation they are principled about it. They sincerely believe government should be in control of all aspects of people's daily lives.

Groups like MoveOn are at least as dangerous as the Evangelical Christians. They are principled, they demonize their opponents, and they wage total war on anyone in their own party who doesn't exactly toe the party line (e.g. Lieberman and others).

A landslide Democratic victory would embolden MoveOn and its supporters. In fact, there is a danger that if they win this election, they are likely to implement 100% federal funding of election campaigns. At that point, any nutjob with any views will have the taxpayers of the US fund their campaign - we would never be able to get the socialists out of office - you would be supporting their socialist ideology with your tax money and at the point of a gun. You could well see the end of free political speech in this country.

My second concern with Dr. Peikoff's analysis is the seeming position that it is only the Republican party that is influenced by religious dogmatism. There are many Democrats who are religious fanatics and vote based on that - many religious leaders (particularly Catholics) who are avowed Socialists. Increasing religious dogmatism is an American illness, not limited to one party or the other. (

A third disagreement I have is the belief that the fundamental nature of Christianity in America has changed. The Evangelicals have always been there, and have always believed as they do. The Socialist onslaught on our government in the 20th century, the massive concentration of political power in the Nanny State Federal Government, the abuse of federal power, the abuse of socialist judges legislating from the bench, alienated the Evanglicals, and in response now they did the only thing they felt they could do - organize and become a national political force.

Politics is not philosophy. Politics in our country is by its very nature pragmatic, concrete issue-oriented, and reflective. By that I mean that politics and politicians are a mirror of the public. With very rare exceptions they are not leaders, they are followers. Almost all politicians are like Gail Wynand - servants of public opinion rather than creators of it. Politicians act according to the dictates of the public - sometimes according to many different segments of the public, each of whom is equally unconcerned about the issues of others. Voting for one party or the other is not going to change the underlying trends - only convincing individuals to change their minds will do that. I guess what I am saying is that politics is an effect, not a cause. Philosophy of course is the cause.

When you vote, you are voting for a concrete - a particular person, someone who represents a particular outcome you desire. No vote is for a philosophy. Republican and Democrat are labels for coalitions. What "Republican" means in Nebraska is very different from what it means in California.

I'm sure we all remember what Ayn Rand said about compromise. However, every vote in today's politics is a compromise of some kind.

There are still "Goldwater Republicans" - I am one of them, it is the classical liberal component of the party. It is this reason that historically I have voted for Republican candidates - my belief has been that any movement away from centralized federal power will be an improvement, as it will prevent *any* pressure group - socialist or evangelical or whoever - from imposing their will on the whole country.

As much as possible we need to shut the door to unlimited federal power - at a minimum we need to try to slow its growth. I see no hope whatever of that in the Democrats - no Democratic segment supports smaller government. Some Republicans do, however, and are philosophically committed to it. If the Republicans retain control with a narrow majority, we will continue to see business as usual.

Those are my thoughts at this time. They are of course pragmatic because as I noted above, that is the nature of politics. Each election, each vote is a calculation of tactics, how to advance my cause with minimum loss. My overall strategy is to attempt to find and support those candidates most like myself, given the premise that there will never be a politician that shares all my principles. If they hold dangerous views I have to calculate how likely they are to be able to pass a law supporting those views.*

Over time, Objectivists will continue to influence philosophic thought in this country. In only 50 years Ayn Rand's thinking has already made a significant impact, and is beginning to roll back decades of socialism. It's just a matter of time. Until then, we just have to hold the fort.

Jawaid Bazyar

p.s. We will not stop religion through voting any more than we stopped socialism through voting. We should consider an all-out philosophic frontal assault on religion.

* For example, some activist Republicans tried to pass a law violating Terri Schiavo's rights but were foiled by courts multiple times and eventually gave up because in fact most Americans support the right to die. Some keep trying to ban abortion but the current Supreme Court precedents are extremely strong and the likelihood of any Congress being able to ban abortion is about nil.



Comment #21

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:05:34 mst
Name: Auric

Let’s check two premises about the Republicans:

(1) They stand for limited government.
(2) They have thwarted the Islamists.

In both cases, let’s judge the Republicans by their actions and results, not their words.

In the first case, with the Republicans controlling both the presidency and both houses of Congress, we have seen a large increase in the growth rate of government spending, the introduction of a large new welfare program, an expansion of government regulation and harassment of business, and the imposition of new tariffs on steel and other products. At the same time, the Republicans have capitulated in their opposition to other incipient expansions of government power, thus making their enactment much more likely under either a future Republican or Democratic administration. In the latter category are raising the minimum wage, restricting immigration, additional tariffs, and limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Numerous prominent Republicans have already publicly advocated such increases in government power. It is a near certainty that destructive new legislation will emerge in all these areas, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans hold Congress.

At the same time, Bush’s one big accomplishment, a reduction of capital gains and dividend taxes, was temporary. Since Bush has so poorly stood for economic liberty, he has undercut the argument for making such tax cuts permanent. It is likely they would lapse whether Republicans or Democrats controlled Congress.

If we look back at recent history, we can see several examples of massive increases in government intervention in the economy under Republicans and the reverse: instances of shrinking government and deregulation under Democrats. In the former category, witness the massive increase in government power under the Nixon administration. During that administration, national wage-price controls were instituted, including controls on the price of oil that led to the disastrous effects of the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s. The Environmental Protection Agency and other new government agencies were created. Massive increases in government spending set the stage for the near hyper-inflation experienced in the latter half of the 1970s. All of this occurred under Nixon.

Under George Bush, Sr., the growth in government was not as dramatic as under Nixon, but it was much greater than that experienced under Reagan. Like the junior Bush, Bush Senior massively increased government spending and, of course, we read his lips regarding taxes. Bush Senior’s policies set the stage for the mini-recession of the early 1990s.

Conversely, under Jimmy Carter, the first major steps at deregulation were instituted. The deregulation of airlines, railroads and trucking all began when Jimmy Carter was president. These were significant reversals of a multi-decade long path of growing government power.

Under Bill Clinton, no significant new taxes were imposed, and another historical reversal of growth in government occurred when he reformed welfare. In New York City alone, in part due to Bill Clinton’s policies, the welfare rolls shrank by more than half in the 1990s.

We can go back further and observe Kennedy’s cuts in the income tax rate, etc.

The point is not that Democrats are pro-free enterprise, but that under several Democratic administrations we have nevertheless seen instances of significant reversals or slowings of the growth of government intervention in the economy. Conversely, despite a lot of rhetoric to the contrary, we have often seen large increases in the growth of government intervention under Republicans.

My conclusion from the actual track record of Republicans and Democrats is that on economic matters, it is unwise to vote for either party. However, it appears that sometimes good can happen when the Republicans are in opposition to Democrats. Republicans seem to have more backbone in such situations and can actually hamstring a pro-government Democrat or even force that Democrat (e.g.: Bill Clinton) to adopt some pro-liberty economic policies. On that basis, I would consider voting Democratic. In short, strictly on economic grounds, a vote for Democrats is called for today.

(As an aside, one can bring up the example of Ronald Reagan who did take some significant steps to improve economic liberty while president. Needless to say, Bush Jr. is no Reagan and is much more of a Richard Nixon-style Republican on economic matters. At the same time, he is a magnified version of Reagan’s worst quality: his religiosity.)

So, on economic grounds, I would lean Democratic today. This brings me to my second point. What, in fact, has Bush done to oppose the Islamists and other serious geopolitical threats such as North Korea?

Here again, we must look at actions, not words.

Those actions began somewhat favorably, with the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the years since then have been disastrous and are becoming more so. I defer to Diana’s excellent analysis in this area, particularly her identification of the role of Bush’s mistaken views on democracy and religion. Both of these views have led to Bush’s disastrous pursuit of democracy in the Middle East and tolerance of emergent theocracies in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Bush’s Islamic passivity is the spread of the nuclear bomb. First, he did nothing after our “ally” Pakistan revealed its role in spreading nuclear bomb technology to sundry enemies around the globe. He has stood by while North Korea explodes its first nuclear bomb, and he has talked incessantly and done nothing while Iran continues to move ever closer to having the bomb.

I will end my comment here, for reasons of space. I have not responded to the central point of Peikoff that religion is the biggest threat facing America today simply because I agree with it for the reasons presented by both him and Diana. My additional point, which is the subject of this post, is to challenge the view that Republicans are somehow better in economic and foreign policy matters than Democrats. They are not. Judging them by their words, they perhaps could be, but if you judge them by their actions, their record is contemptible and no worse than what Democrats have or would produce.

Furthermore, I would contend that an important reason for the gulf between their words and actions is their Christianity. How does a Christian “turn the other cheek” while bombing the enemy? How does a Christian support the profit motive while contemplating a camel passing through the eye of the needle? He cannot. I am very disturbed by the growing consistency with which Christianity is being practiced by Republicans. The Left is dead. Christianity is on the rise. I wish to oppose the greater future threat. It is Christianity. I will vote Democratic.

P.S. - My compliments to Diana for this line in her comment: "Like any good Christian, [Bush] is impervious to the facts of this world."



Comment #22

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:34:44 mst
Name: Jawaid Bazyar

Said another poster:

"Those actions began somewhat favorably, with the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the years since then have been disastrous and are becoming more so. I defer to Diana’s excellent analysis in this area, particularly her identification of the role of Bush’s mistaken views on democracy and religion. Both of these views have led to Bush’s disastrous pursuit of democracy in the Middle East and tolerance of emergent theocracies in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan."

Democracy of course is not an end in itself. (And when I say "Democracy" please know that I mean some sort of representative constitutional republic, which all the governments you mention are).

Of course the people in those countries are religious, and of course they voted for (to varying degrees) religious representatives.

The goal of the Bush Doctrine is not to impose a particular philosophy by force on another nation. To attempt to do so would be a waste of blood and treasure, and would be disastrous.

The goal of the Bush Doctrine is to give the people in those countries a voice, an outlet for their energies *besides violence*.

The Bush Doctrine holds that terrorism is fueled by oppression and suppression, and in this I agree. We have vicious disagreements in this country but we rarely turn to political violence because we have free expression - we know we can change other's opinions through non-violent means.

Ayn Rand holds that civilization is the process of freeing men from the physical violence of other men.

Based on this I believe the Bush Doctrine is a worthwhile approach. Help other nations remove violence as the only means of political expression, and over time those people will change themselves and their governments for the better.

The alternative to that is to go back to the Cold War doctrine of "support anyone who nominally supports free enterprise and is allies with the US" even if they are oppressive tyrants. That doctrine failed and led almost directly to our current problems in Iraq and Afghanistan.



Comment #23

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:37:06 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Diana wrote:

That's why I agree with Dr. Peikoff's claim that "anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life--which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world." Sadly, that assessment has been confirmed by the flurry of concrete-bound objections to Dr. Peikoff's statement.

My response:

We shouldn't be so quick to dismiss valid objections by labeling them "concrete-bound." Concrete observations are a REALITY-CHECK. If observation contradicts an intellectual authority, theory, hypothesis, or conclusion, it means that something is WRONG and it is time for premise-checking and question-asking.

1. Is the authority being correctly understood or taken on faith? What reasons would he give in answer to the objection?

2. Is the authority correct? Can objections be reconciled with the reasons the authority gives?

3. Is the hypothesis or theory correct? Can objections be reconciled with the reasons supporting it?

4. Is the hypothesis or theory being applied out of context? Is the objection relevant or irrelevant and why?

5. Does the objection really contradict the authority, hypothesis, or theory? If it does, where is the error?

---

If one understands the philosophy of Objectivism and the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life, then one upholds the Primacy of Existence and, as a corollary, OBSERVATION of reality as the STANDARD for validating any product of consciousness. An Objectivist should NEVER accept or dismiss contradictions in his thinking.

That means that he should take concrete reality-based -- not "concrete-bound" -- objections very seriously.



Comment #24

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:43:17 mst
Name: Jawaid Bazyar

Another poster wrote:

"The point is not that Democrats are pro-free enterprise, but that under several Democratic administrations we have nevertheless seen instances of significant reversals or slowings of the growth of government intervention in the economy. Conversely, despite a lot of rhetoric to the contrary, we have often seen large increases in the growth of government intervention under Republicans."

This comment shows a misunderstanding of how the US government works. It is Congress that makes the law, not the President.

There have only been two Democratic administrations since the Reagan Revolution, both of those were Clinton. Clinton operated under a Republican-dominated Congress. Congress passes laws, and the President executes them. In order for Clinton to get elected, he had to pretend to be a middle-of-the-road conservative Democrat. Note that the avowed liberals/"progressives" Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry failed to become President while Clinton - who positioned himself as a centrist - was handily elected twice. It is Congress that reduced taxes multiple times, it is Congress that is trying to simplify the tax code. The President may sign these laws, but it is not the President who is responsible for them.

Any credit you give Clinton for lessening of government power is actually due to the Republican Congresses in the 1990's.



Comment #25

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:44:10 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Auric wrote:

Let’s check two premises about the Republicans:

(1) They stand for limited government.
(2) They have thwarted the Islamists.

My response:

I don't know a single Objectivist on any side of this argument who would says that either of those premises is true, so how about a non-strawman argument?

Who would like to answer the facts I presented as to why an imminent theocracy is impossible?



Comment #26

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:45:58 mst
Name: Burgess Laughlin
URL: http://aristotleadventure.com

I voted on October 23. (Oregon has vote by mail for all elections and all voters.) For the first time in my life, so far as I can remember, I voted for a Democratic representative in Congress. Why? To vote for a Republican in that race would have been a vote for "stay the course," both domestically and in terms of the supposed "War on Terrorism." However, for governor, I voted for a pro-choice Republican who has credibly promised to limit taxes -- a vote designed to help upset entrenched Democratic power in this state.

In reading Dr. Peikoff's position statement on his website, I was at first offended by his seeming rejection of differing conclusions as immoral or rationalistic. Closer reading, especially noting the word "Given ...," leads me to reject that reaction. However, I continue to be puzzled by some aspects of his very terse statement:

1. Most importantly, what does Dr. Peikoff mean by "theocracy" or "theocratic"?

2. If religion is a worldview of a certain type (one founded on emotionalism, among other factors), why is the Democratic Party in the U. S. not also a religiously dominated party?

The religion I am thinking of is one that has no formal name. It is egalitarian at all levels: a metaphysics of Kantian things-in-themselves standing behind a veil of skepticism, equally unknowable; an epistemology of social-metaphysics ("everyone's opinion is equally important"); an ethics of sacrifice of all to all; and a politics of democracy in its worst sense, direct collective rule.

3. While I agree that supposedly "secular" leftists generally are weakening, I wonder about collusion (intended or de facto) between the leftists and the highly energized Islamo-fascists, as well as other threats. Would this combination, if there is such, be any weaker than the resurgent conservative religious movement?

I would like to close with a request: I hope that an Objectivist intellectual someday will write a procedure for deciding how to vote, a procedure that will be general enough to apply to a wide variety of circumstances. That "algorithm" would be very helpful for the future.



Comment #27

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:48:11 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Auric wrote:

"[B]ut if you judge [Republicans] by their actions, their record is contemptible and no worse than what Democrats have or would produce."

I trust you understand this is, in fact, NOT an endorsement of the Democrat Party nor is it a suitable reason for voting for a Democrat if one leans toward voting for a Republican. Quite the contrary.

In addition, you wrote:

"Let’s check two premises about the Republicans: (1) They stand for limited government. (2) They have thwarted the Islamists."

Precisely who do you believe subscribes to either of these premises? Or is it your position that voting for a Republican is necessarily an endorsement of these two premises?



Comment #28

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 17:48:13 mst
Name: Ed

I agree that, IN THE LONG RUN, religion will lead to a theocracy, since freedom requires reason. But, the long run can be very long. It took centuries for man to go from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the American Revolution. Why is there now a concern that this latest flare-up of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity will soon bring doom to America? What facts support this timetable?

Also, a theocracy entails more than restricting rights for the sake of religious dogma. We are speaking of a fundamental change in the nature of government, from a mixed-premise mixed economy that leans toward freedom to a system in which religious leaders directly wield political power and can issue dictates to a public who have no legal recourse. Today's Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban are perfect examples of theocracies. And this is what we should expect in the near future if we vote for the GOP?!?!



Comment #29

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 18:10:20 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Jared Seehafer writes:

A comparison of today with the 40's or 50's overlooks the crucial factor that the Left was alive and well back then. America was not that far removed from the Red Decade, and FDR had just led America through World War II. Today, the Left is dead, ideologically.

My response:

The Left may be dead ideologically, but for all the facts and reasons presented by Jawiad Bazyar, I do not believe they are dead politically. I think that, politically, they can do horrible damage to me and all that I value when they are in power.

That is why I agree with Ayn Rand when she said that we should choose a candidate based only on his _political_ philosophy and not on his total philosophy:

"One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate's _total_ philosophy -- only with his _political_ philosophy (and only in terms of essentials). It is not a Philosopher-King that we are electing, but an executive for a specific, delimited job. It is only _political_ consistency that we can demand of him; if he advocates the right political principles for the wrong metaphysical reasons, the contradiction is _his_ problem, not ours."

[The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 3 No. 3, March, 1964, Check Your Premises: How to Judge a Political Candidate, emphasis Ayn Rand]

I strongly recommend the above article because it contains so much that is relevant to the current discussion. In addition, in other articles Ayn Rand gave cogent reasons why, although she despised Nixon and Reagan even moreso, a hard Left or New Left Democrat would make voting for them necessary.



Comment #30

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 18:11:51 mst
Name: Ed

Amy Peikoff wrote:

"Living in Colorado Springs, I see the Evangelicals' aspirations to political power first hand. Ted Haggerty, lead pastor of the New Life Church, is Bush's religious advisor and there are local pastors, who have worked for Haggerty, who are now running for office. In other words -- these people are not just trying to influence Republicans from the sidelines, they are working to gain positions of power in government. Such individuals are the most extreme and consistent among the religious right which means, in the long run, they will be the ones who take over the Republican party. Unless they are stopped."

Suppose Mr. Haggerty woke up tomorrow as President, and half of Congress were his supporters. What could they do? They could ban abortion and federal funding for stem cell research and things like that. But how, exactly, would that lead IN THE NEAR TERM to theocracy? Would the rest of the government and the country just accept that, or would they fight back?

I am not convinced that America faces the prospect of Christian theocracy -- in the near term. I'd like to see proof of this timetable before I'm convinced that the GOP poses a greater near-term threat than Islamic terrorism, nuclear blackmail from dictators, or the socialism, environmentalism, and pacifism of the left.



Comment #31

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 18:24:54 mst
Name: Auric

I said:

"Let’s check two premises about the Republicans:

(1) They stand for limited government.
(2) They have thwarted the Islamists."

Betsy Speicher (and one more similarly) responded:

"I don't know a single Objectivist on any side of this argument who would says that either of those premises is true, so how about a non-strawman argument?"

*******

This isn't a strawman argument. Aren't those the reasons anyone votes Republican? Republicans ostensibly are the party that stands for limited government and a strong national defense. The point of my post is simply that in practice, the Republicans do not achieve more in these two areas than Democrats. Sometimes they do better, sometimes they do worse.

It is important to consider the actions of politicians more than their words. In terms of actions, Republicans are not that different than Democrats in these two areas.

So what are the reasons for voting Republican?

********

Also, another responder to my comments about positive legislation under Clinton said that it is Congress that passes laws, and the credit for whatever good policies of the Clinton era accrue to Republicans. Yes, that was true when the Republicans stood in opposition to a Democratic president. That is what I am advocating now. We need to divide the legislative and executive branches between the parties. The Republicans tend to be more principled (in the good areas of the economy and national defense) when they are opposing a Democrat. We have seen what happens when they control both the legislative and the executive branches of government, and it isn't good.



Comment #32

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 18:40:20 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Auric wrote:

Aren't those the reasons anyone votes Republican? Republicans ostensibly are the party that stands for limited government and a strong national defense.

My response:

That is NOT why I am voting for certain Republicans.

I am voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger because he vetoed Democrat-legislated socialized medicine in California and his opponent promises to sign it. I am voting for my Republican Congressman because he has voted as I wanted him to vote 90% on the time. If I were in the neighboring district I would vote for the Democrat because he is a strong supporter of Israel. If I were in Connecticut, I would vote for Joe Lieberman for the same reason.



Comment #33

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 18:44:17 mst
Name: John Powers

I am sick of hearing this argument that religion may be out to destroy man, but the timetable is so long, we have other things to worry about. Of course no one can say how soon it may come, but if you recognize the threat coming from religion, you must understand that it is inevitable. Would you rather wait until successful Republicans have shifted the debate about putting God into government to such an extent that your choice for President is between a Democratic religious zealot or a Republican religious zealot?

A vote for the Democrats in this election is nothing more than an attempt to buy some time, and perhaps delay the theocrats. We don't seriously believe that a Democratic victory will stop religion's advance (as someone above intimated).

Religion is the only philosophy that now has any serious esteem among the public, which is turning to it in increasing numbers (and the trends are clear). The success of Christian politicians emboldens their supporters, whether they achieve any lasting political victories for religion or not.

Another note: a commenter said that although we had some onerous religious laws about 50 years ago, we survived and did not become a theocracy then (therefore, don't worry if the pendulum swings back a little toward religion -- we experienced it in the past). Well, at one time we also had a 90% top tax rate yet remained an incredibly wealthy and productive nation.

Voting for the Democrats will not bring a new philosophy to politics or to the culture; altruism has already engulfed the nation decades ago, to the point where the welfare state isn't seriously contested by anybody. Yes, they will probably make our welfare state larger and more intrusive. I don't look forward to a future majority leader Nancy Pelosi using the fact that she is "a mother and a grandmother" (one of her pet phrases) as a reason to pass every new anti-gun, anti-business, anti-defense bill that Congress spawns. But I still think that Christianity is capable of far worse, even when it comes in a pro-gun, pro-business, pro-defense package.

Here's one more idea: has anybody considered that with a Democratic Congress and a Republican President, perhaps we might achieve two years of sweet, sweet, political gridlock? Sometimes that's the best you can hope for.

Even worse are those who refuse to vote. You have a choice, and it's your responsibility, if you care about the future of Western civilization at all, to try as best as you can to decide which one is the worse evil.



Comment #34

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 19:17:48 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

John Powers wrote:

Another note: a commenter said that although we had some onerous religious laws about 50 years ago, we survived and did not become a theocracy then (therefore, don't worry if the pendulum swings back a little toward religion -- we experienced it in the past). Well, at one time we also had a 90% top tax rate yet remained an incredibly wealthy and productive nation.

My response:

That was not my point. I was showing that the pendulum is STILL swinging away from religion because there were real obstacles that make a theocracy IMPOSSIBLE.



Comment #35

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 19:30:50 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Ayn Rand regarded free speech as so critical that she named ending the power of the FCC a primary political issue (The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 1 No. 3"March, 1962). So do I. That is why, although there may be good reasons for voting for some individual Democrats, the prospect of a Democrat takeover of Congress is an immediate threat to Objectivists and all we value.

Leading Democrats are trying to impose censorship NOW.

The Democrats have been attempting, since 1987, to reinstate the FCC's "Fairness Doctrine" that Ayn Rand denounced as worse than censorship.

“President Reagan vetoed a 1987 attempt by Congress to make the policy law.

“In 1993, Congress unsuccessfully attempted to re-institute the rule. At the time, talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh rallied his supporters to help defeat the effort, which he dubbed the "Hush Rush" bill.

“Despite the failed campaign in '93, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., is confident she can shepherd the Fairness Doctrine through Congress …"

http://tinyurl.com/yhgrdm

Recently four House Democrats, who would become important committee chairmen if the Democrats take over, wrote a letter to Walt Disney President Iger (9/7/06) expressing their displeasure with ABC’s plans to broadcast the TV movie “The Path to 9/11.”

http://tinyurl.com/hctlc

This was followed by a letter from Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and other Democratic Senatorial leaders reminding ABC that “The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest” and urging ABC to “uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program.“

http://tinyurl.com/kk784

Does anyone want to defend this?



Comment #36

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 19:43:46 mst
Name: phgr

Something that is relevant in comparing cultural religiosity 40-50 years ago and today is that 50 years ago a religious intellectual was a near-oxymoron. With few exceptions, a religious intellectual within academia (apart from overtly religious institutions) was looked at with a certain amount of disdain; that a religious man really wasn't a serious thinker. Religion was on its way out intellectually speaking. Today, however, the trend is ominously beginning to reverse. Religious intellectuals are numerous and their ranks and influence are spreading. They are more emboldened, forthright, and sure of their cause than ever. This provides the intellectual and moral fuel for their students who will in 10-15 years be the next George Bush/Dick Cheney/Antonin Scalia--except the difference is that the next generation of religious politicians and justices will push their religion unto everyone else with a moral fervor and assuredness that will make today's pragmatic religious politicians look like good old fashioned secularists.

If we are to have any chance at all, we cannot wait until the new intellectuals of religion have their cadre of disciples positioned in all the essential halls of power. It is not very hard to imagine this happening within a single generation. Within 10-15 years this is easily achievable. At that point resistance will be impractical; the war basically lost. We cannot wait until they have gained the momentum of an intellectual and cultural juggernaut, a momentum that is almost impossible to slow down before it's done the damage that cannot be undone. It hasn't hit its full stride yet, and it may be slow to get started, but practically overnight such a juggernaut can pick up incredible, irresistible speed. At that point history can change very rapidly, and in this case not for the better. Think how quickly Europe went from no Hitler to Auschwitz. To pre-Hitler European Jews, such a rapid transformation was unimaginable, but nevertheless, as we know, quite real and deadly. What happens to those who stand in the path of a juggernaut?

There's little hope for Objectivism, and Objectivists, if free speech disappears and religious crimes are the order of the day. At that point any past or present ARI contributor might just disappear. And, unfortunately, I don't think that is an exaggeration. We must fight them now and prevent them from ever reaching the event horizon of theocracy.



Comment #37

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 19:59:42 mst
Name: John Powers

The fairness doctrine is bad, but I haven't seen any evidence that the Democrats are more likely or more capable of re-introducing it than the Republicans.

If a Democratic Congress passed the fairness doctrine bill, Bush would probably sign it like he has every other piece of bad legislation that has passed his desk (which means nearly all of it).

So far, the FCC does not regulate speech on the internet. Many people my age (23) simply don't rely on the major TV networks for news or commentary about the world. I don't wish to suggest that the fairness doctrine could be permitted just because the internet is so prevalent now. It would be less effective, however. I expect future authoritarians of both Democrat and Republican labels to turn their attention to regulation of the internet.



Comment #38

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 20:07:16 mst
Name: gnargtharst

In 1992, Piekoff recommended voting against the Republicans, *but for a different reason* -- a Republican defeat at the hands of Clinton, he said, could re-energize the Republicans and get them to stand on principle for the next electoral go-round (which, in large part, it did; the 1994 midterm elections were a big victory for the Republicans, who, for the sapce of a few days, sounded almost principled.)

The new strategy, designed to remove the Republicans qua religionists (vs. the Democrats qua nihilists) appears to be an application of Piekoff's "DIM Hypothesis" (i.e., the Republicans represent the more dangerous "misintegrators" to the Democrats' enfeebled "disintegrators"). So my question: Does Piekoff consider *himself* as one who did not understand the role of Objectivism in life, prior to his formulation of his "DIM hypothesis"?

Another question: has anybody presented evidence in a systematic manner supporting the claim of the growth of religion in the culture? Something along the lines of "if religion is growing, we should see X, and we do in such-and-such example". Instead I've heard only anecdotes about tyhe alleged growth of religion, without reference to voluminous counterexamples. If anecdotes are the coin of this argument, then I've plenty involving the administration 26 years ago.



Comment #39

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 20:15:59 mst
Name: Jawaid Bazyar

More about Democrats who are in office right now attacking fundamental rights of free speech:

http://publiusetiam.blogspot.com/2005/01/left-does-not-stand-for-free-speech.html
- Democratic Congressman petition the FCC to stifle Sinclair Broadcasting's editorials against John Kerry

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,158466,00.html
http://www.blogherald.com/2005/03/04/democrats-and-fec-to-crack-down-on-political-blogs/
- The Democratic head of the Federal Election Commission, and other Democrats, agitate to regulate internet blogs

http://publiusetiam.blogspot.com/2005/09/george-soros.html
- Finally, a piece on George Soros, the man behind MoveOn and the re-energization of the Socialists in the US



Comment #40

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 20:25:59 mst
Name: Burgess Laughlin
URL: http://www.aristotleadventure.com

phgr, Comment 36, said: "There's little hope for Objectivism, and Objectivists, if free speech disappears ..."

Betsy, Comment 35, has presented a case for an immediate threat to general freedom of speech from the Democrats in Congress if they become the majority.

Do you, phgr, hold that the conservative threat to the freedom of speech of Objectivists is greater than the leftist threat to freedom of speech of Objectivists, both long-term and short-term? Note I am not asking about freedom of speech in general, but specifically about freedom of speech for Objectivists acting as philosophers and intellectual activists.

In summary, for anyone: From which direction, if either, is the threat significantly greater to Objectivists in particular? The question applies to both short-term and long-term. And what proof do you offer for your decision?

What I am trying to do is temporarily narrow the subject of debate to the same, delimited topic, so that I can see the evidence on each side of exactly the same issue.



Comment #41

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 20:40:05 mst
Name: Jeff Perren

"If we are to have any chance at all, we cannot wait until the new intellectuals of religion have their cadre of disciples positioned in all the essential halls of power."

True enough. Therefore, fight them where they are gaining prominence -- in the universities and think tanks. This is the same arena in which the faux-liberals do most of their damage and you will be fighting both groups simultaneously in the most effective way -- in the realm of ideas.



Comment #42

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 21:13:29 mst
Name: Auric

My position has been stated for me more eloquently and completely than I can in John Lewis's essay entitled, "Why I Will Not Vote For Any Republican". It is available at this link:

<http://theobjectivestandard.com/blog/2006/10/why-i-will-not-vote-for-any-republican_29.asp>

These are the first two paragraphs:

"In the upcoming election, I will not vote for any Republican. My reasons are based most deeply on those offered by philosopher Leonard Peikoff, but I would not vote for the Republicans today even if the issue of government religion was not relevant.

In every area of domestic and foreign policy, the conservatives controlling the Republican Party have expropriated the central tenets of the left, while claiming to be an alternative. This has created a false alternative to the political left, posing as its opposite but supporting the same basic goals. This has sowed massive confusion in people's minds, and limited the American people to a choice of poisons. This confusion is undermining people's capacity to even conceive of a true alternative to the welfare state and military defeat."



Comment #43

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 21:39:28 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

Part of the reluctance on the part of many to accept that Christianity is different today is because Christianity is largely hidden. For those of you who believe that the danger of the religious right is understated, to what extent do you have personal experiences with modern-day Christians? Same question to those who believe that the danger of the religious right is overstated - to what extent do you have personal experiences with modern-day Christians?

My grandfather, a lifelong Republican who ran for office as a Republican for years in upstate NY, is now turning to Democrats for the first time in his life. He is completely puzzled by Bush's strategy. He is a Christian. However, he is an old style Christian for whom religion was compartmentalized in his life. Voting Democratic is something that a newer, more conservative generation of Christians is unwilling to do. They do not compartmentalize religion in their life. People like my mother, who are younger and supposedly of a more secular generation, see books such as The Da Vinci Code as dangerous, something that must not be discussed, or should be banned outright. The response, when trying to hold an argument with these folks (which I have been trying for 10 years and observing others do for 20) is never to argue. They know they cannot win a reasoned argument. The response is simply to ignore what is said, change the topic, or say, "Well, if you don't believe what I believe, there is no point in arguing with you." Once you have been placed in the appropriate box (and to them, there are only two boxes), there is no longer any need to argue. There is no need to see reason because reason is not accepted. This is the exact same response given by a Muslim cleric to Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera.

The extent to which religion permeated the life of a devout Christian in the first half of last century is not the same as it is today. Young Christian believers listen to contemporary Christian music, oftentimes exclusively, they read their Bibles more faithfully, they attend church more regularly and more often (several times a week for more than several hours), and their Bible reading is not limited to reading. They are memorizing entire books of the Bible. THeir entire social life revolves around church. They are taught to proselytize to their friends and confront their teachers publicly. Even when I was a kid, I was memorizing entire chapters of the Bible for Bible quizzes and tournaments and going to summer Jesus rallies that were thousands strong. Despite the fact that I graduate third in my class in high school, I was told by my parents that even if I worked at McDonald's for the rest of my life and never went to college, it wouldn't matter to them. THe only thing that mattered was whether I served the Lord, I was told. I am a PhD candidate in biology - and according to their standards, I am a complete failure. My mother has expressed her extreme disappointment repeatedly. THAT is the face of the Christian movement in recent decades. If one is encouraged to achieve, it is ONLY in the service of a higher power.



Comment #44

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 21:48:46 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Now here is a position that I just viewed that I find renders in essential terms the current political situation accurately (within the narrow scope of the writer's focus) and that, from a tactical perspective, makes much sense and with which I can agree.

http://www.drhurd.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1162101660&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1&



Comment #45

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 22:02:07 mst
Name: phgr

Burgess Laughlin:
"Do you, phgr, hold that the conservative threat to the freedom of speech of Objectivists is greater than the leftist threat to freedom of speech of Objectivists, both long-term and short-term? Note I am not asking about freedom of speech in general, but specifically about freedom of speech for Objectivists acting as philosophers and intellectual activists."

To Burgess Laughlin: Yes, I do.

Certainly the Fairness Doctrine is awful. But freedom of speech was basically still secure in our culture in the past even with the Fairness Doctrine in play. One could write and speak out against the dominant ideas in the culture without fear of jail or death. Publishing houses and newspapers were free. It is true, unfortunately, that there was a realm in the broadcast media in which freedom was not applied with the same consistency as it was in the print media. Even so, in that culture a woman immigrant to this country, who we all greatly admire, could write books that attack the core of the ideas of the culture. She could publish her books and gather an immense following of like-minded individuals. She could do this without being prevented from the outset, and without fear of jail or death after publication.

Unlike skeptics of religion in the 18th century, she did not have to write under a false name, to hide her identity from the authorities, nor did she have to wait until her death to release her written work for fear of worldly prosecution. Even with a Fairness Doctrine, as bad as it is and would be, this is still *worlds* apart (try about 13 centuries or its equivalent about 13 thousand miles from here) from the conditions that would exist under a theocracy in this country. Think Iran but with much more technology, resources, and wealth to enforce their religious edicts and though-control.

Think of the changes to this country wrought by the New Deal. Our country went from essentially a capitalist economic system to a welfare-state mixed-economy in about ten years. The New Deal was absolutely catastrophic for our economic freedom, and now over 60 years later we have never recovered and are still suffering greatly in its aftermath. Now, imagine the equivalent of a New Deal of the *Mind*, a New Deal not of economics, but a New Deal of Religion. *That* would end freedom of speech in this country, and bring the war *under*ground, to the black market, to physical resistance (if such an underground war in the world of 20 years in the future would even be possible). If it comes to that, so be it, some of us would have to fight if possible, while others of course would try to (understandably) bow down and blend in lest they are imprisoned or murdered.

*But*, I say we must do everything in our power to prevent the situation from getting to such a hopeless state. A new dark age, controlled by neo-medievalists, with the technology, weapons and wealth only possible by the science and reason they now seek to quash, is a truly frightening prospect. On the positive side, I think we are close to a turning point (at least historically speaking, i.e., on a historical scale), in that if we can begin to turn the tide toward reason within some X number of years (30, 50, 80, 100 years, I certainly don’t claim to have an exact number worked out), through efforts such as ARI is pushing, then given the intellectual self-destruction of the Left, reason may win the day along side an incredible world of science, technology and wealth"a bounty of life.

The alternative, I fear, is almost too unimaginable to contemplate. Ayn Rand has done so for us in a certain way through the depiction of our country’s collapse in Atlas, but more to the point here is another of her works. Consider: say in 20-30 years after the juggernaut has fully established a theocracy in this country (through any number of plausible scenarios of your choosing) there is a brutal, (relatively) long period of time over which faith squeezes the last vestige of life out of this culture. The technology and wealth at first used to enslave and destroy is now a finite pie being quickly eaten by the killers. Once gone, the product of reason is not replenished as it is now but disappears entirely. The new culture and government of life in the next world extinguishes life, life as we know it here and now, by means of sword to the body and shackle to the mind. Once exhausted of reason (perhaps over a period of 10-30 years), then the country (and world no doubt) roughly starts to resemble what Ayn Rand beautifully but tragically painted in her novella, Anthem. Remember: hadn’t the world of Anthem existed in that primitive state virtually unchanged before the events of the story for *millennia*? The stakes now are as high as they have ever been.

We need to do whatever we can to stop the juggernaut now, and buy time for reason to turn the tide of the battle, so that the world Anthem is not our future for the future.



Comment #46

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 22:06:29 mst
Name: dcarvell

I'm the poster of the original question to Dr. Peikoff. I quote it here in its entirety. Anybody find this an interesting idea to consider?

Mr. Peikoff,

In view of the constant parade of jackassery which is Washington, is there any point in voting for candidates of either entrenched party? Throwing out the incumbents “for a change” is to me an idea based on the philosophy that my head will stop hurting if I bang it on the opposite wall.

Are there any objectivists that you know of who are forming a political party?

We need real change.

Respectfully,

David Carvell

dcarvell@earth1.net



Comment #47

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 22:27:09 mst
Name: Inspector
URL: http://z7.invisionfree.com/capitalistparadise/index.php?showforum=17

"In my judgment, that claim of immorality presumes that a person understands the choice in question basically as stated,"

Thank you Diana for posting that. It seemed like myself and Kendall were the only ones who were defending his statements in that regard. And double thanks for pointing at the fact that the whole line of objection smacks of Kelley-ism.



Comment #48

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 22:48:11 mst
Name: John Powers

A clarification:

In a post above I described the threat of a theocracy being established as "inevitable." I intended to write "inevitable under the present circumstances."

No matter who ends up being elected on the 7th, we should intensify the fight against religion in every form, everywhere. After all, the Democrats could suddenly "find Jesus." I recall he rode a donkey in the Big Book!

It's too easy to despair, as I began to do when considering the philosophic trends we're battling. It has gotten pretty bad out there, but there is nothing to do but fight it. The growing numbers of passionate supporters of Ayn Rand's ideas, and the great strides made by the Ayn Rand Institute, give me hope that the culture can be changed.

I'm sure that is an often repeated sentiment in these pages, but I don't want to go to bed thinking of doom.



Comment #49

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 23:15:13 mst
Name: JT

Hmmm...it seems to me that many of the opinions on this issue are influenced by the political scene where the person resides. If someone lives in an area where candidates are constantly invoking Christianity, he or she may well perceive the threat of theocracy to be more serious than someone in an area where candidates rarely or never do so. I think it's important to try to survey the culture *as a whole*, and not use what's going on in one area of the country or another as the basis for one's conviction.

That being said, I admire Dr. Peikoff for stating his position so clearly and pointedly, especially knowing that other ARI-affiliated intellectuals disagree with his view. That shows real integrity. However, I disagreed with his statement as soon as he identified the essence of the Democrat Party as "socialism" and the essence of the Republican Party as "religion". Can the two major parties be essentialized like that?

In my view, neither party has any principle at its core. Any difference between the two parties is merely one of degree--not of kind. Drawing such a clear distinction between the two camps, in my opinion, is rationalistic. Many Democrats are as religious as Republicans, and many Republicans are as socialistic as many Democrats. And when each party is in power, the nature of the laws that are enacted is generally the same (yes, I know there are some exceptions).

I'm not going to vote for either corrupt party's candidates. I prefer to advocate changing the philosophy on which politics rests, rather than decide whether I want to die by electric chair or firing squad. If someone wants to say I don't understand Objectivism because of that, fine. I disagree, and I'm not ashamed.



Comment #50

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 23:45:10 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

PMG wrote: "I had been previously decided to simply not vote (as Harry Binswanger has endorsed this year..."

I'm not on HBL, but I'd heard that Harry Binswanger hadn't yet made a statement on the election, but that he planned to do so soon. Is that not right?



Comment #51

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 0:34:40 mst
Name: BrianS

I intend to post specifically on this topic a little later. Right now I will simply present a question for consideration. Which do you truly believe would likely occur first in the US: institution of Christian theocratic laws or institution of Muslim Sharia Law?



Comment #52

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 0:46:41 mst
Name: Vespasiano

BrianS:

Muslim Sharia Law. It's already happening . . . by stealth.



Comment #53

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 1:39:00 mst
Name: Jeff Montgomery

Diana, you get a philosophical high five for this post.

The salient factor for me in this election was that regardless of how successful the Republicans have been in actually establishing a full-blown theocracy or how imminent it is, The Right is confident in Christianity's validity and rightness, they are impressively organized, and as Diana pointed out they are, in many respects, already guiding policy with its principles. It is a serious and significant part of their policial agenda, and explains many of the of the bad things about it.

It is enough for me to know that Republicans have tapped into a vast political constituency in this country who basically think they can talk to God and make important life choices using that epistemological (anti-)method. They may not have gotten far with their agenda yet, but they plan to. It is still very early on in the game, but I certainly don't want it to get any later before rebuffing this trend. It's already caused enough damage.



Comment #54

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 2:42:41 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

I do not see the logic behind not voting for "good" Republicans. If the goal is to counter religion in the country and in the less-socialistic Republican Party, doesn't it make sense to vote against religious Republicans and FOR non-religious Republicans like Giuliani? Wouldn't that put better people in office and show the Republican Party that non-religious candidates were more electable than religious ones?



Comment #55

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 2:45:12 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

phgr wrote:

Certainly the Fairness Doctrine is awful. But freedom of speech was basically still secure in our culture in the past even with the Fairness Doctrine in play.

My response:

Ayn Rand strongly disagreed. See The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 1 No. 3, March, 1962.



Comment #56

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 2:59:13 mst
Name: Rob Sperry

A devided government is a good government. I hope the Democrats take at least one house of congress. I hope they tie down the administration is a series of investigations. I have no beliefs that my hope will aftect what happens.

"In my judgment, anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life"

I wonder if this judment included a mathematical estimate on the expection of an individuals vote to alter the outcome of the election. This probability seems suffiently close to zero that virtualy any value seeking activity should practicaly win out over voting in a large election Election.

I would like to see an Objectivist based argument on why one should vote in a large gerymandered election. What role would sanction play in this process?

Also I think the best explination for the Republican speading and waring behaivor is not found in thier Religion. It is found in a pulic choice model of how power is aquired. It looks to me like the repubilcan strategist got ahold of a bunch of pulic choice models (that were intended to point out how things could go wrong) and decided to use them as play book for how to obtain power. Giving people back thier money through tax cuts can gain you favor with them. Spending money on people can inlines them favor and be willing to give yo power. Stoping money from flowing to people only pisses them off and makes for bad press.



Comment #57

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 9:54:13 mst
Name: Tony Donadio

For the record, I've been leaning toward disagreement with Dr. Peikoff's advice, but I'm still thinking the issue through. I want to thank Diana for posting such a thorough (and heavily cited) essay on the topic. I think it was sorely needed, since the evidence to support Dr. Peikoff's advice is simply not readily apparent from a reading of the brief statement on his website.

For a variety of reasons, I do agree with his concerns that the country's ideological trend is toward religion, and politically, toward theocracy. I've seen that clearly in net discussions I've had over the last several years with representatives of the new generation of intellectual activists on the right. They are emboldened, they are facing almost no principled ideological opposition, and they have adopted and are building on the intellectual legacy of the left. That legacy is: skepticism, and the implicit "anything goes because I can get away with it" epistemology perfected by the post-moderns. Seeing this and understanding how ideas guide the course of history, I don't see how that trend, if it continues, could do anything except lead to theocracy.

However, I'm not convinced that threat is imminent enough to make it the central issue in the current election, which for me is and has always been the war against Islamism. I am concerned that a Democratic victory will be taken as a mandate for surrender and withdrawl from the war altogether. If that happens, then within the next five to ten years, there will be a radioactive crater where one of our major cities used to be. The Republicans have an awful record of half-measures and compromised half-actions in the war, but at least there is a chance that strong military action that could prevent this outcome might be taken under their leadership. The Democrats, if in power, can be counted on *not* to take those actions. It seems to me that reconciling oneself to voting on principle for the Democrats means giving up any hope of successfully prosecuting the war, and accepting the inevitability of that impending nuclear holocaust. I will need a lot of convincing before I am willing to go there.

Dr. Peikoff has said that the Democrats stand for socialism. I'm not sure I accept that as an accurate description of the core ideology of the Democratic party any longer. If the Democrats stand for anything right now, I think it is for surrender in the war. I think that the party is now firmly guided by their far-left base, and in a way that they have not been in the past. What I now see as their core ideology is an incredibly virulent and aggressive form of multiculturalism, post-modernism, and irrationality of the kind displayed by the 9/11 Conspiracy movement and by groups like Move-On.Org. That ideology will violently oppose taking any action to oppose the Islamists, and in a way that by comparison will make Bush look like the frothing warmonger that they are delusional enough to think he actually is. A victory in the current election would give a political shot in the arm those people, precisely at a time when they are finding their political clout being marginalized. That is not a prospect that I am willing to entertain lightly.

I've been looking at the battle against religion as a cultural rather than a political battle. It's a battle that Objectivism is fully armed to win once awareness of Ayn Rand's ideas becomes sufficiently widespread. I think that advocating political action to oppose religion _now_ requires a firmly grounded argument that the threat of theocracy is sufficiently _imminent_ to warrant making it today's central political issue. Doing so at a time when we are facing the prospect of an imminent *physical* threat from Islamic terrorists armed with nuclear weapons, and through votes which will almost certainly be taken as a mandate for military surrender and inaction in the face of that threat, in my judgement demands a high standard of proof. I'm willing to listen, but this is an analysis which is far from self-evident to me.

I'd like to make one final observation, because I think it will be useful to improve the tone of some of the subsequent discussion:

Auric: "Let’s check two premises about the Republicans: (1) They stand for limited government. (2) They have thwarted the Islamists."

Betsy: "I don't know a single Objectivist on any side of this argument who would says that either of those premises is true, so how about a non-strawman argument?"

That's pretty much the first thing my wife said to me when we started talking about this. And she's right. I'd like to ask that anyone who wants to discuss this issue with those of us who are not (or not yet) willing to accept Dr. Peikoff's advice please give us a little more credit than the above comment does.



Comment #58

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 10:26:12 mst
Name: Auric

I share Tony Donadio's concern about an American city becoming a radioactive crater: I live in New York.

However, I think the odds of this happening are equally strong whether a Democrat or Republican leads the country. First, lets look at the results from the actions, not words, of the Bush Administration. North Korea has exploded a nuclear bomb, and has suffered no consequences. Iran is openly and rapidly moving towards development of a nuclear bomb, and the United States has made it clear that it is highly unlikely to do anything about it. Pakistan got caught shipping nuclear bomb materials to several dictatorships around the globe, and we did nothing, and continue to call that government an ally.

Under the Republicans, the Islamists and their North Korean ally are boldly and rapidly progressing to the point where they can explode a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city. In fact, I believe they already have that capability right now. Why can't Pakistan or North Korea today sell a nuclear bomb to a terrorist group that will ship it to an American port in a container and explode it?

If all this happened while Clinton was president, there probably would be calls for impeachment on the grounds of gross presidential malfeasance. Why is no one calling for impeachment of President Bush? The answer is because Congress is Republican; they will not attack one of their own. Because there is no voice of opposition to President Bush demanding that he do more against the Islamists, he can get away with doing so little.

If we had a divided government, would that happen? I think it is unlikely. A Democratic president would have to do more than Bush has done if for no other reason than to disabuse his opponents that he is "soft" on terrorism.

The Democrats will do no worse than the Republicans. In fact, they might do better. We may find that a Democratic congress may actually begin to assail Bush for being soft on terrorism, if for no other reason than pure political partisanship.

The Republicans are seriously confusing both the issues of national security and the economy by saying one thing and doing another (see John Lewis's excellent post on that topic; link below). Their talk is cheap. In my opinion, not only do they deserve to lose, but our safety and freedom demands it.

<http://theobjectivestandard.com/blog/2006/10/why-i-will-not-vote-for-any-republican_29.asp>



Comment #59

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 10:33:01 mst
Name: Lionell Griffith

Peikoff said:

"In my judgment, anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life"

Rob Sperry said:

"I wonder if this judment included a mathematical estimate on the expection of an individuals vote to alter the outcome of the election. This probability seems suffiently close to zero that virtualy any value seeking activity should practicaly win out over voting in a large election Election."

I agree with you Rob. Peikoff has apparently lost touch with the reality that life requires action. Action to sustain one's values. It must be action that has a significant chance of being successful. Sustaining one's philosophy in a society requires effective action over many generations. A single vote has no more impact on sustaining one's values than re-tying one's already tied shoes. Hence, voting makes such a small impact on the outcome in almost any election its absurd to worry more than a few seconds over which way to vote.

Philosophy deals with the long range. Elections deal with the short range. I can avoid getting pregnant, I can and have educated my self way beyond our so called public education system. I have avoided religion most of my life and expect to be able to do so for the remaining one to two decades that I will live (I am almost 70). I cannot avoid anti-life governmental regulations, power and control hungry politicians, and the slavery of taxes.

The Republicans have an abysmal record and have become indistinguishable from FDR's Democratic Party - ca 1936. The policies and ideas of the "new" Democrats would have been welcome in the old USSR - especially those in California. The Republican Candidates I can vote for do have a visible record of fighting the Democrats in power and of marginally fighting for my values. Hence, they got my vote by absent ballot. I also voted AGAINST all propositions that lead to increased spending and governmental regulation. I voted FOR returning imminent domain to its original constitutional limits. I am totally against giving government the power of imminent domain but I can live with its original intent.

I expect that government's respect of my rights will be increased by no more than the fractional contribution of my vote - approximately 1 part in 40,000,000. Still, in the totally outside chance that my vote will tip the balance on at least one item, I chose to vote as I did.




Comment #60

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 10:37:22 mst
Name: phgr

phgr wrote:

Certainly the Fairness Doctrine is awful. But freedom of speech was basically still secure in our culture in the past even with the Fairness Doctrine in play.

Betsy responded:

Ayn Rand strongly disagreed. See The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 1 No. 3, March, 1962.

To Betsy: Fair enough, but do you think that the Fairness Doctrine at the time she wrote that article was the cause of the threat to freedom of speech or simply one nasty manifestation of the underlying cause? I think it was a manifestation, as it is today. And, I don't think the Democrats are ideologically strong enough any longer, since the Left is basically dead intellectually speaking, to get that passed today. I don't think they can push through anything stronger than a watered down version of the Fairness Doctrine. The Right, however, will within a fairly short time span (unless stopped) have the power and the moral (dogmatic) certitude to pass much worse than anything the Left can push through in this regard. The Right, under theocracy, can completely eliminate freedom of speech. It won't just be a threat to free speech as it is under the worst that the Left can muster--under the Fairness doctrine--it will be the actual, complete elimination of free speech, which I submit is worse than a hobbled, threatened free speech. What we are facing in terms of free speech from the Right of the 21st century is far more virulent than anything either the Right or Left exhibited in the 1960's. When I say "facing," I am not talking about the current, actual threat from the Right, which seductively appears to be innocuous compared to the Left, but their potential threat in the near-term (maybe 10-30 years).



Comment #61

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 11:11:18 mst
Name: ..

I do not understand not voting for a "good" republican either. Would it be right to vote against a Republican who consistently voted Objectivist positions? What am I missing?



Comment #62

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 12:08:08 mst
Name: Jeff Montgomery

At the national, state, or even local level, if a vote for a "good" Republican candidate aids the national Republican political machine, I don't think it should be cast. I supposed you *could* make a case for voting for such a candidate at the local level if there is no sanction or aid at a higher level. Maybe.

However, I think a parallel from war is apt here. The US could have tried to pinpoint bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima, so as to only kill the "bad" Japanese (if that could be determined and executed) at greater cost in American lives, or it could send an overwhelming message that would end the war as quickly as possible, and consider the "good" Japanese to be collateral damage.

It would be unfortunate if good politicians with good ideas were swept away in this election, but that’s just the price we pay for achieving the wider goal. Our political system is not a system of individuals, but of parties, and I think the support and sanction of that party should be the primary standard by which we vote in this case.



Comment #63

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 12:19:31 mst
Name: Auric

Correction of a confusing typo in my post above:

This is what I wrote:

"If we had a divided government, would that happen? I think it is unlikely. A Democratic president would have to do more than Bush has done if for no other reason than to disabuse his opponents that he is "soft" on terrorism."

This is what I meant to say. The corrected language is in all caps.

"If we had a divided government, would that happen? I think it is LIKELY THAT A Democratic president would have to do more than Bush has done if for no other reason than to disabuse his opponents that he is "soft" on terrorism."



Comment #64

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 12:30:36 mst
Name: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php

Betsy Speicher: +1.

In the more than ten years that I've watched her online, what she's writing in this discussion is the most sensible stuff I've ever seen issue over her name.

Peikoff is dead wrong about this. He's wrong about the commie zombie *still* walking the land, he's wrong about this "theocracy" rubbish, and he's wrong about the implications for this election.

*I* don't vote -- ever -- on the principle that my rights are not subject to majority approval. (If we're going to check premises and things like "the practical role of philosophy in man's actual life," then let's get busy.) But you should mark my words: the Democrats are going to be an immediate disaster. Theology can be fought far beyond the scope of a voting booth. Right there, however, is where the rubber of socialism meets the political road in this country. If you have to vote, then you might as well put a gun to your head as vote Democrat.

Years from now, I'll be here to point out that I was right.



Comment #65

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 13:13:46 mst
Name: Ms. Think

Current American politics makes me despair -- to see the commentary on this forum gives me hope. All is not lost so long as people like Diana and her readers exist. You are all the sunshine of my life.



Comment #66

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 13:34:04 mst
Name: Jawaid Bazyar

Jeff Montgomery wrote:

--
It would be unfortunate if good politicians with good ideas were swept away in this election, but that’s just the price we pay for achieving the wider goal. Our political system is not a system of individuals, but of parties, and I think the support and sanction of that party should be the primary standard by which we vote in this case.
--

My point is that the parties have no particular definable philosophy. They are aggregations of pressure sub-groups. In the case of the Republicans, these include:
anti-abortion
evangelical
pro-business
pro-individual rights
libertarian-ish small government

Any given candidate may or may not support one of these planks. There is no requirement that a candidate do so.

Keep also in mind that the national platform differs from the state and local platforms.

If you vote straight party-line, e.g. all Democrat, you are hindering not just the evangelicals (which is good of course) but you are also hindering the only groups in this country that give a damn about individual liberty, and you are likely going to be voting for Democratic candidates who are open, philosophical, principled socialists, who will have no obstacle to implementing more new Socialism since that door is already open.

The door to religion in government is not only closed, it's been bricked up, reinforced and sealed with plaster, and is protected by explosive booby-traps for anyone trying to open it. There has been consistent progress in separation of church and state since 1776.

I'm with Betsy, there are substantial safeguards in place against the kind of religious tyranny you fear, and I have seen no evidence that evangelicals are making any headway.

Again, religion is not limited to the Republicans. The original addition of "under God" to the Pledge was done in 1954 under a thoroughly Democratic Congress. Recently Congress voted to support "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. In the Senate: 99-0. In the House: 416-3. Clearly, Democrats want to be seen as supportive of religion. "The first bill, Senate Resolution 292, titled "A resolution expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance," was written by the Democratic leadership..."

As I pointed out, politics follows philosophy. Politicians will "believe" whatever it takes to get elected. If religion is growing in this country, you may be sure Democrats are just as keen to follow that trend as Republicans are. You can be sure that the Democrats would love to take some of the evangelical vote, just as the Republicans want the black vote. You have to think of the parties as businesses, competing constantly for each other's "customers".

If you think voting for Democrats will stop religious fundamentalism, you have cause and effect reversed.



Comment #67

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 14:04:38 mst
Name: Vespasiano

"If you think voting for Democrats will stop religious fundamentalism, you have cause and effect reversed."

Agreed.



Comment #68

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 15:10:04 mst
Name: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com

I don't vote, so I think Peikoff is wrong about that being a moral imperative. But I believe he's dead on when he says:

"What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy."

I wrote an entry on it yesterday.

<http://www.uncsense.com/root/2006/10/truth.html>



Comment #69

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 15:18:57 mst
Name: Dave Harrison

Makes perfect sense to me.

I'll take the lesser evil any day here. Better to have to sacrifice somewhat for the welfare state than to have to potentially sacrifice our very lives to someone's idea of what their "god" might demand. The former is certainly not a good situation but the latter has no practical limit to the death and destruction that could occur to satisfy the whims of whatever voices happen to be occupying the head of the leader at the time.



Comment #70

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 15:29:46 mst
Name: ..

In response to #61. I seems that if Dr. Peikoff's reasoning was as simple as this, that his conclusion would have been a lack of understanding of the workings of American politics, and not first the lack understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man's life. This is where I feel as though I am missing something.



Comment #71

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 15:31:16 mst
Name: ..

That was in regards to 62 not 61.



Comment #72

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 15:43:10 mst
Name: Ernest Edgar Brown

"I'll take the lesser evil any day here. Better to have to sacrifice somewhat for the welfare state than to have to potentially sacrifice our very lives to someone's idea of what their "god" might demand. The former is certainly not a good situation but the latter has no practical limit to the death and destruction that could occur to satisfy the whims of whatever voices happen to be occupying the head of the leader at the time."

Umm, what makes you think that the 'liberWesleyan Methodism of Hillary "We'll take things away from you for the common good" Clinton thinks that there is any inherent limit to what you have to pony up "for the children."



Comment #73

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 15:45:09 mst
Name: Ernest Edgar Brown

Sorry for the jumble:

Umm, what makes you assert that someone like the 'liberal' Wesleyan Methodist Hillary "We'll take things away from you for the common good" Clinton thinks that there is any inherent limit to what you have to pony up "for the children?"



Comment #74

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 15:54:48 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

phgr wrote [Re Ayn Rand on the Fairness Doctrine as a serious threat to free speech]:

I don't think the Democrats are ideologically strong enough [to pass the Fairness Doctrine] any longer, since the Left is basically dead intellectually speaking, to get that passed today.

My reply:

A Democrat and 16 Democrat co=sponsors were ideologically strong enough to PROPOSE it and, if they win a majority in Congress, they will be politically strong enough to PASS it. In fact, some are already eager to exploit "it's potential for obtaining more balanced coverage of Islam and Muslims."

<http://www.twf.org/News/Y1997/Fairness.html>

phgr wrote:

I don't think they can push through anything stronger than a watered down version of the Fairness Doctrine.

My reply:

Oh yeah? Read H.R. 3302.

phgr wrote:

The Right, however, will within a fairly short time span (unless stopped) have the power and the moral (dogmatic) certitude to pass much worse than anything the Left can push through in this regard. The Right, under theocracy, can completely eliminate freedom of speech.

So can Martians if they invade and take over, but where is your EVIDENCE that this nightmare scenario is even POSSIBLE?



Comment #75

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 16:09:26 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Jeff Montgomery:

At the national, state, or even local level, if a vote for a "good" Republican candidate aids the national Republican political machine, I don't think it should be cast.

Me:

The way it would aid them would be to strengthen the good forces within the Republican Party. I would also vote for a good Democrat -- if I could find one -- but Lieberman is running as an Independent after the Dems rejected him.

Jeff Montgomery:

It would be unfortunate if good politicians with good ideas were swept away in this election, but that’s just the price we pay for achieving the wider goal.

Me:

Which is WHAT? Completely wiping out all opposition to the Democrats? Including every single non-religious, pro-choice Republican?



Comment #76

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 16:24:39 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Jeff Montgomery:

Our political system is not a system of individuals, but of parties, and I think the support and sanction of that party should be the primary standard by which we vote in this case.

Me:

Ayn Rand didn't think so. She wrote about how to select a candidate (but not a party) and, over the years, she wrote about why we should vote for or against particular candidates in particular elections. Sometimes she endorsed a Democrat, sometimes she condemned a Republican, but where did she ever write about voting for or against a PARTY?



Comment #77

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 16:45:14 mst
Name: Mike Schneider

JR>>"Dr. John Lewis rightly argued that America ought to demand that the Muslim world wholly separate mosque and state. As in Shinto Japan after World War II, Muslims would be free to pray to Allah in their private lives, but Islam would be barred from public life and politics, including education. Muslims could rationalize that public secularism however they pleased -- or abandon Islam entirely. Such secular government in Muslim countries is required to eliminate their threat to the West. "
>
>Ms. Hsieh, If Jordan, Morroco, Indonesia and Malaysia reject this "demand," what should the US do? Should the US begin military action against them until they acquiese? Should the US use nukes?

The use of the word "threat" (by Lewis) erroneously implies that Islam has not been proactively *at war* with "the (infidel) West" for over a thousand years.

Sharia is the most successful tyranny the world has ever known (by orders of magnitude) expressly for the reason that its force of power is not embodied in any one easily-removable "target" (e.g., "We nuked 'em; and now it's Miller-time!"), but rather is widely distributed throughout a society evolutionarily "rigged" over the course of a millennia and myriad generations of "de-selection" of rationalist and individualist traits (if you can't fathom what I just wrote there, put yourself into the conceptual shoes of a too-free-spirited Pakistani teenage girl ordered to drink paint-thinner to preserve her family's "honour"). Sharia, like the most enduring of Western socialist welfare programs, self-perpetuates from the ground-up by societally codifying base impulses: Welfare programs lend apparant legitimacy to a leecher lifestyle; but Sharia is even more direct -- If you're a man who wants to plunder, rape, enslave and extort, baby, have we got the political force (*cough*, religion) for you! Just sign right here, designate your marks as "infidels", "kafir" or "filth", and all is permitted against *them*.

If Hitler and Tojo were strangler figs needing mighty axes to bring down (but thoroughly dead once hacked apart), Sharia is kudzu and crabgrass ceaselessly spreading through runners until everything is suffocating under transcontinent-spanning mats of the stuff. (Putting picture to that analogy, envision Unka Slam furiously slashing away with his axe in Iraq, attempting to find anything "meaty" enough to actually make a nice "thunk!" sound when he hits it -- because he's used to victory being measured by smashed military ordinance and dead troops; meanwhile, he does nothing to stop the blight at its source: the mosques and the madrassas.)

"Should the US nuke 'til they acquiese?" -- That's a red-herring argument which attempts to negate the right of defense by posing it in terms of a socialist edifice wielding inappropriate weaponry against a laundry-list of nuke-lacking Sharia-subjugated nations.

I swear: The 17th century Spanish and 19th century British were better-equipped to deal with death cults like contemporary Sharia than the 21st century US (or "Eurabia", for that matter). For them, it'd be a simple matter of upgrading muskets to machineguns, and carrying on with their temple-razing procedures. By contrast, no political entity in the West appears capable of even accurately defining the present enemy let alone possess a viable strategy for defeating it.



Comment #78

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 16:47:12 mst
Name: jeff

"I want to stress at this point that the above is [my] recommendation for November, not Ayn Rand's or Objectivism's. A philosophy is a view of the universe; it does not back candidates. There can be legitimate differences among people of the same philosophy in regard to political tactics and strategy. So please think the issues over and judge for yourself. I have merely told you how (and why) I propose to vote in November--if I can."

Leonard Peikoff fourteen years ago

("Some Notes About Tomorrow," Part 2, The Intellectual Activist, September 1992.)

Someone else posted this in another forum so i thought i would share it here. The question everyone should want to ask Dr. Peikoff is what has changed?

I find it to be bullying and insulting to say in essence, anyone that does not vote Democrat does not understand Objectivism and or the pratical role if philosophy in human life.

Futhermore i would like to see how anyone supporting Dr. Peikoff's view is convicned we should ignore the Islamic Totalitarian movement that is actually killing us literally, and instead be worried about a minority of Christians that want to inject God into our government.

How anyone can look at the current state of Islam and Christianity and come to the conclusion that Christianity is the bigger threat is beyond me.



Comment #79

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:00:40 mst
Name: Mike Schneider

Jeff> I find it to be bullying and insulting to say in essence, anyone that does not vote Democrat does not understand Objectivism and or the pratical role if philosophy in human life. Futhermore i would like to see how anyone supporting Dr. Peikoff's view is convicned we should ignore the Islamic Totalitarian movement that is actually killing us literally, and instead be worried about a minority of Christians that want to inject God into our government. How anyone can look at the current state of Islam and Christianity and come to the conclusion that Christianity is the bigger threat is beyond me.
>>>

Be that as it may (and it's quite true), how anyone (or, more particularly, any Objectivist) can look at the current state of political parties in the West and come to the conclusion that *any* of them is remotely competent or ethically qualified to deal with the bigger threats (however they are defined) -- is beyond me.

I say: To the extent that any rational individual wastes the least second of his life "playing politics", he necessarily forfeits time much, much better spent in extricating himself from the tarpit and training his family how to remain out of it as well.



Comment #80

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:01:49 mst
Name: Jim May

Jeebus Christ, if anybody reads this far down, they must not be at work ;)

But I am, so I'd like to illustrate rather than argue (for now) my outlook on this issue until I can read more (the DIM course is tops on the agenda.)

In my view, the immediate issue isn't a question of who is more *evil*. Conservatism and the Left are two expressions of the same root philosophy, and are both ultimately the same enemy! Rather, the question is a more immediate one: which of the two is the most dangerous in the short run (one election, one issue)? This isn't an alterantive between concrete-bound thinking versus philosophical thinking; it's between overall strategy and tactics.

Recognizing that amugger is evil and is your enemy, isthe overall philosophic view and proper context within which to evalute thought. Focussing on which of his hands holds the knife (is most dangerous) in the split seconds of the fight -- that's a tactical question. Tactical questions are by nature, very short-range, and deal with concretes within a very short range.

I agree with Dr. Peikoff *in the long run*; the theocons are fast, active, and growing, while the Left is running out of steam. Worse, they have the advantage of profiting from the Left's trailblazing, both in terms of government expansion and erosion of the Enlightenment's cultural remnants.

But tactically, I'm not sold. The Left has a decades-long head start, and they still hold the educational structure and the media in their grasp.

To accept Dr. Peikoff's and Diana's conclusion regarding this tactical maneuver, I need to see their conclusion made in relation to current political concretes. I need to be shown why the pack of lions running towards me from a hundred yards away are more dangerous than the single leopard in my face. Where should I aim my gun? At the lions because they are more dangerous than a single leopard? Of course not... right now, distance is the dominant variable.

Notice how that is a question about concretes, not about fundamentals, even though I do not ignore the latter, and know that those lions are going to be my biggest problem soon. I just need to know *when*. The pack of lions is objectively more dangerous, but NOT RIGHT NOW. I need to know when the long-range concerns (i.e. the greater danger of a pack of lions) outweights the closer danger (the leopard). That "tipping point" is where the tactical emphasis changes, even though the overall one remains the same.

So, to deal with this question, I need to know which of the Republicans or the Democrats is in the position to damage our values the most *in the next two years*? The evidence I have tells me that the theocons are a much more dangerous movement, like the lions, but they are not yet in a dangerous *position* politically, as is the leopard.

Speaking for myself, I still hold the "vote for gridlock" strategy as our best bet, and shall continue to do so until the tactical case is made for voting a straight ticket either way. As a Canadian immigrant with no vote but a big stake in the matter: I suggest you shoot the leopard.



Comment #81

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:11:30 mst
Name: jeff

"Historically speaking, we're still emerging from the medieval period; each century since the Renaissance has seen a decline in religion, and it's still disappearing, but it's going to take a long, long time."

LP

from a 1998 show, The McCuistion Program, "Ayn Rand & Objectivism: Is Atlas Shrugging?"

Thought i would share this from another forum as well.



Comment #82

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:11:54 mst
Name: PMG
URL: http://seandwicscop.blogspot.com/

Diana wrote: "I'm not on HBL, but I'd heard that Harry Binswanger hadn't yet made a statement on the election, but that he planned to do so soon. Is that not right?"

I don't know when or whether he's going to make a public statement, but he did write an HBL post advocating staying away from the polls.



Comment #83

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:18:25 mst
Name: jeff

To :Mike Schneider

I agree that both parties are awful. I think most people do, however that doesn't mean its a waste of time voting or trying to inlfuence politics. Its not for everyone but the government has to much control over us already, actively seeking to promote freedom in politics is a noble venture, even if it seems to be a waste of time. As Miss Rand once said "anyone that fights for the future today, lives in it tomorrow" or something to that effect.



Comment #84

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:32:58 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Jim: President Bush and the Republicans aren't shooting the leopard: they're feeding it.

This issue seems to be a huge sticking point. Contra Tracinski, President Bush isn't fighting a half war against Islamic totalitarianism. He's fighting an altruistic war. He is actively aiding out Islamist enemies. His "forward strategy for freedom" has given them once-unknown political power in the Middle East. He is creating new states to sponsor terrorism. I argued this point extensively in my essay: Republicans have absolutely no redeeming qualities on either foreign or domestic policy. Until folks understand that, the Republicans will seem to be the better option.



Comment #85

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:49:22 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Jeff Montgomery wrote: "Our political system is not a system of individuals, but of parties, and I think the support and sanction of that party should be the primary standard by which we vote in this case."

Betsy Speicher replied: "Ayn Rand didn't think so. She wrote about how to select a candidate (but not a party) and, over the years, she wrote about why we should vote for or against particular candidates in particular elections. Sometimes she endorsed a Democrat, sometimes she condemned a Republican, but where did she ever write about voting for or against a PARTY?"

That's bizarrely concrete-bound reasoning. Ayn Rand has been dead for over 20 years. The Republican and Democratic Parties have changed significantly in those years. As Objectivists, we should think in principles, not bind ourselves to Ayn Rand's particular analyses. No principle of Objectivism states that candidates must be evaluated individually, without regard for their party -- or vice versa. Ayn Rand judged individual candidates when appropriate -- and parties when appropriate. As you well know, she judged the Libertarian Party as unworthy of any votes, regardless of the particular candidates. She did so with good reason: the LP had an ideological core of subjectivism, just as the ideological core of today's GOP is religion.

Finally, I *really* object to this cherry-picking of Ayn Rand's words. She didn't think religion was a serious issue in the 1960s for one simple reason: it wasn't. However, toward the end of her life, she recognized the serious danger of the rise of the religious right. She was vehemently opposed to Ronald Regan's injection of religion into politics. Like Dr. Peikoff, she knew what that could mean for America.



Comment #86

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 17:50:06 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

The influence and participation of Christian leaders extends to more than simply trying to be elected to office. Two organizations actively working for the integration of religion and state come to mind:

The American Center for Law and Justice (www.aclj.org)

Regent University (www.regent.edu)



Comment #87

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 18:06:30 mst
Name: Mike Schneider

Jeff> I agree that both parties are awful. I think most people do, however that doesn't mean its a waste of time voting or trying to influence politics. Its not for everyone but the government has to much control over us already, actively seeking to promote freedom in politics is a noble venture, even if it seems to be a waste of time. As Miss Rand once said "anyone that fights for the future today, lives in it tomorrow" or something to that effect.
>>>

False premises this paragraph indulges:

* Single individuals are capable of "influencing" the force-minded ("politics") objectives of entities currying the favor of large masses expressly seeking to grant their authorization to said entities because they want loot, loot, LOOT!, but are too chicken to go out mugging with their own guns.
* (Pursuant to the above) A government (let alone one with "too much control") is inclined to care about an individual's opinion at ballot (beyond the eagerly-sought "opinion" that he'd rather walk the cattle-chutes into a poll-booth (after showing his ear-tag ID) than revolt or "disappear" off the serf rolls. ("Oh, you voted? *Good boy!* Here's a Scooby-snack, a bumper-sticker and a lapel-pin!" -- Pavlov, to the dogs, after dinging the bell.)
* It is possible (even theoretically) to promote freedom "in" politics (e.g., rather than "in [spite of] politics") even though politics is expressly a mechanism of initiated-force-adjudication.
* Voting in favor of liberty is the same as "fight[ing]" for liberty, just less messy (which is good, I suppose, since those who vote for liberty always lose their "fights").
* Voting represents, or *is*, liberty (...because, uh, well, uhm, it's better than Rome under Nero...).

If every couple years it's just "*Sigh*...who do we vote for THIS time?", Objectivism and Libertarianism may as well put up big signs on their closed front doors re-directing prospective philosophy initiates to the "Lesser-of-Two-Evils Pragmatism" junket down the street -- because it's all they're really amounting to.



Comment #88

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 18:18:46 mst
Name: Mike Schneider

Diana Hsieh> Jim: President Bush and the Republicans aren't shooting the leopard: they're feeding it.
This issue seems to be a huge sticking point. Contra Tracinski, President Bush isn't fighting a half war against Islamic totalitarianism. He's fighting an altruistic war. He is actively aiding out Islamist enemies. His "forward strategy for freedom" has given them once-unknown political power in the Middle East. He is creating new states to sponsor terrorism. I argued this point extensively in my essay: Republicans have absolutely no redeeming qualities on either foreign or domestic policy. Until folks understand that, the Republicans will seem to be the better option.
>>>

(False premise the paragraph above indulges: "States" are required, or at least best equipped, to "sponsor terrorism" despite the fact that terrorism is as affordable as Raman noodles.)

Diana? *When* -- and you know bloody well that they never will until their own rave-hopping daughters are drinking the paint-thinner -- "folks understand", do you really think Socialist Twit Tweedledee is going to embody any "redeeming qualities" lacking in Tweedledum?

You can watch the *political* future of, well, pretty much everywhere, happening in the present as democratic-socialist Europe desperately flounders as Sharia creeps and seeps throughout its circulatory system ceaselessly poking and prodding for and exploiting each and every weakness.



Comment #89

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 18:42:23 mst
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

Diana,

I thank you for the great intellectual work that went into this article. I posted an article, with identical import but much less thorough, on SOLO at election time two years ago - and met with long-term grudges from too damned many Objectivism-plated Conservatives and Objectivism-plated Libertarians. Dr. Peikoff is an amazing role model of how a hero wears the low-lives' attempts to smear him as a badge of honor.



Comment #90

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 18:43:50 mst
Name: Jim May

Diana wrote: "Jim: President Bush and the Republicans aren't shooting the leopard: they're feeding it. "

While I do see the Left as the leopard in my analogy, your statement takes it too far. The analogy is meant primarily to communicate the idea that immediate lethal dangers take tactical precedence over those further off, even if the latter are greater. Your knowledge of the greater danger presented by the lions does you no good if the leopard in your face eats it off because you didn't shoot it first.

That Bush/Repubs are advancing the same agenda as the Left ("feeding the leopard") only confirms, uncontroversially, their common root identity. It says nothing about which is down the road and which is at your throat -- and as a voter, that's what I look at. That's about all a vote is good for -- it is a very short range weapon. IT is often said, never bring a knife to a gunfight; well, trying to use a gun *as if* it were a knife gets you killed just as fast.

Perhaps I should modify the analogy thusly -- if all you have is a knife and an unloaded shotgun, do you stab the leopard, or ignore it so you can load your shotgun to fire at the lions? I'd stab that leopard good, in hopes that buys enough time to get that shotgun loaded, and hope I'm not lunch by then.

It's all we have at the time.



Comment #91

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 18:45:24 mst
Name: Ian

To Diana and others who support voting Democrat:

When was the last time you were in DC, or even at a Republican political event? How many senators do you know?

Because I don't see why you're so convinced the Republican Party are M2.



Comment #92

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 18:46:02 mst
Name: Jim May

"trying to use a gun *as if* it were a knife "

should read

"trying to use a KNIFE *as if* it were a GUN"

sorry for the goof.



Comment #93

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 18:46:15 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Mike:

Western Europe (Eurabia) isn't simply floudering, desparately or otherwise: it's in total collapse. And yet . . . Objectivists in this country are being advised by some to vote for a political party (Democrat) the leadership of which shares overwhelmingly the same ideological if not philosophical perspectives of that collapsing polity's dominant political classes who are, in turn, primarily responsible for the collapse in the first place. And this, we are assured, will . . . somehow . . . "save" us in the United States?!

Not.



Comment #94

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 19:02:39 mst
Name: DWT

After reading through the 75 comments already posted, I am disappointed to see that almost none discuss the very basis for Dr. Peikoff's opinion on the upcoming election. If we are going to have a rational discussion of this issue, we need to be focusing on the DIM hypothesis and whether or not it is valid. I'm disappointed to see that only a few have even mentioned their plan to listen to the course. ARI has generously offered it to us free - that alone should tell you how strongly they feel about this issue and how confident they are in their reasoning. That course normally costs about $300 and we have the opportunity to listen to it and evaluate it free of charge. Why not take the time to listen and then offer an opinion once you have digested the relevant information. The course consists of 15 1.5 hours lectures, but I don't believe that all the lectures will be required for understanding this somewhat more narrow application of the theory. Anyone who has already listened to the complete course may have some recommendations regarding this.

I often find myself disappointed in non-Objectivist friends and family who close their eyes and refuse to see regarding some philosophical or political issue, despite the fact that the information that would clearly demonstrate the truth(ie. one of Ayn Rand's essays or novels) is readily available. It is a far greater disappointment to realize that so many Objectivist's behave in much the same manner.



Comment #95

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 19:37:28 mst
Name: Vespasiano

DWT:

Could the application of DIM hypothesis be valid in the presence of significant category error?



Comment #96

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 19:43:44 mst
Name: Vespasiano

DWT:

I do not mean the above query in a flippant way: I'm quite serious. I also want to clarify the query.

Could the application of DIM hypothesis ever be valid if the application commences with a significant category error?



Comment #97

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 19:50:57 mst
Name: Paul Hsieh
URL: http://www.geekpress.com

[This is a repost of something I wrote several months ago. Clearly, it's possible for Dr. Peikoff to change his mind on the significance/magnitude of the threat that religion poses to America. Hence someone who cited his 1983 analysis of religion would be wrong to do so in the context of 2006, when he has already gone on record with new views and devoted a lengthy lecture course explaining his reasons. -- PSH]

<http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2006/02/how-times-have-changed.html>

I've been listening to Leonard Peikoff's excellent lecture course
"Understanding Objectivism", and I was struck by his assessment of the
state of religion in the US back in 1983:

"Now almost nobody is religious today in the way it was once the rule
to be. The whole West in the medieval period was tremendously
religious and today the most religious zealot in the United States
would have been drummed out in the Middle Ages because he would be
hopelessly tainted with secularism.

"So religious is a dying phenomenon and I must confess I feel a
certain sympathy or sorrow -- not sorrow -- but like I feel sorry for
the way that these people are historically on the way out. Religion is
fading all the time, so it's not that big a factor in most people's
lives. It's a casual utterance which they don't really act on,
although in some people absolutely it's a real factor."

("Judging Intellectual Honesty", Lecture 11, CD track 5, time index 3:22)

Of course, since that time Peikoff has significantly revised his position.
In his also-excellent "DIM Hypothesis" course, given in 2004, he makes a
persuasive argument that religion poses the most significant (and still
rapidly-growing) philosophical danger to the United States, far more than
the discredited ideas of the secular leftists/collectivists.



Comment #98

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 20:07:20 mst
Name: Tony Donadio

DWT: "I often find myself disappointed in non-Objectivist friends and family who close their eyes and refuse to see regarding some philosophical or political issue, despite the fact that the information that would clearly demonstrate the truth(ie. one of Ayn Rand's essays or novels) is readily available. It is a far greater disappointment to realize that so many Objectivist's behave in much the same manner."

Please don't be presumptuous in your expressions of "disappointment." The fact that I haven't publicly announced my intentions to listen to the DIM course doesn't mean that I don't intend to do so. I'm sure that the same goes for many other participants on this thread as well.



Comment #99

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 20:11:28 mst
Name: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php

"...he did write an HBL post advocating staying away from the polls."

I wonder if there is a way for a non-listmember to read that.

I have show-stopping moral problems with voting. It's very difficult case to make to just about anyone else, and I might be interested to know his reasoning.



Comment #100

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 20:14:10 mst
Name: Kai B

Bush and the republicans have toppled the only secular enemy of Iran in the Middle East and in its place they have put a theocracy (no law may be passed in Iraq which is against Islam). In the West Bank and Gaza they have through their inane push for democracy catapulted Iran's friends Hamas to power. In Afghanistan they have instituted a new religious government with a lite version of sharia as the new rule of life (which I guess will be not so lite when Nato and the Americans pull out). Thanks to Bush the new major power in the Middle East is Iran and its ideology of Islamic theocracy and totalitarianism.

I submit that if one forgets everything about the DIM-hypothesis, all of Peikoff's lectures, his book The Ominous Parallels and OPAR, and everything Ayn Rand ever wrote, it would still be senseless to stay the course with Bush and vote for anything remotely republican. These guys are clearly dangerous to US security and should be punished in the upcoming election.

On the issue of foreign policy alone -- or even just the concrete wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- I think it is clear that the republicans are extremely dangerous. I just cannot understand Objectivists who promote the idea that republicans are better than Democrats -- and sure not if I take into consideration how republicans promote political Christianity. Another episode from the last year that made a lasting impression on me was Bush’s reaction to the Mohammed cartoons and the crisis that followed. I swear, the Danish Prime Minister is a moral giant and a better force for the good in the world than Bush and his policy of appeasment and sacrifice can ever become. And you have NO IDEA of how demoralizing Bush is for us lovers of the US that reside in Europe. He is a true gift to the left in Europe (where the left still is pretty strong) and for every American hating bastard on this planet.



Comment #101

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 20:16:04 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

Paul Hsieh said:

"he makes a persuasive argument that religion poses the most significant (and still rapidly-growing) philosophical danger to the United States, far more than the discredited ideas of the secular leftists/collectivists."

It now is a philosophical danger. Especially since people like George W Bush view the greatest philosopher of all time as Jesus Christ. He is advised by prominent religious leaders. He frequently uses Biblical phrases in speeches. One phrase, "wonder working power," was used to describe the virtue of Americans. In actuality, the phrases refers the wonder working power of *Jesus' sacrificial blood.*

Regent University's mission statement is: Christian Leadership to Change the World. They offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, education, political science, and law, among others. By the way a *regent* is someone who rules in the absence of a monarch. The university was founded in 1978 by Pat Robertson, who unsuccessfully sought nomination ahead of George HW Bush in 1988 but did manage to finish ahead of him in the Iowa caucus.



Comment #102

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 20:49:07 mst
Name: Steve D'Ippolito

I just yesterday listened to the last lecture of the DIM hypothesis.

To help you get the gist of LP's point, I would listen to the first four lectures, where LP explains what the hypothesis is, then pick pretty much any of lectures 5-12, which apply DIM to separate areas of human endevour, that you feel like (with the caution that 10 and 11 are a two-parter, combined child-rearing and education), then go to lectures 13 and 15. 14 is pretty much a pure Q&A. I'd suggest at least one "application" lecture other than the philosophy one just to get the idea of how it works, and would consider the philosophy one mandatory, but I believe it's one of the first four.

Since I don't have the whole set in front of me it is possible that I am wrong about how many lectures introduce the hypothesis at the beginning and where the specific applications are.

If I messed up this table of contents please feel free to correct me.

Having listened to it, I believe LP's tactical assesment is nevertheless wrong--but I fear it very well could be spot-on ten years from now.



Comment #103

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 20:54:50 mst
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

Paul,

What changed in America was that hard evidence on the failure of Socialism became available after the fall of the Socialist economies in 1989-1990. Robert Heilbroner, once the most eminent Socialist in American academic Economics, went over the evidence and concluded that von Mises had been right. It was no longer possible to defend Socialism on secular grounds.

But there were and are many Americans who had become dependent on domestic Socialism: Elderly Americans on Social Security and Medicare. Urban lumpenproletariat. Descendants of slaves, who had never managed to extricate themselves from a mentality of dependence. Academic postmodernists. Potheads with amotivational disorder. Unemployed former union workers in the Rust Belt. Farmers dependent on government crop subsidies. Politicians who didn't know how to get votes except with tax-funded handouts.

They needed a new rationale for Socialism. They could not continue to support secular, Enlightenment Liberals, because the latter - those of them who took Enlightenment values seriously - were no longer able to give coherent support to Socialist institutions in America. And yet America is a society founded on ideas, so there was no European nihilism to turn to either. Religion, based on pseudo-principled denial of principled cognition, was all that populations dependent on Socialist institutions could fall back on, to prop up those institutions, in the teeth of logic and evidence.

Religion, like every dementia, is at its foundation a defense mechanism. This is what the Republican Party has bought into, under the label of "compassionate Conservatism." And this is what is driving its efforts to help establish faith-based democracies in the rest of the world. Against our interests, but isn't the whole point of religion to substitute the will of a supernatural big bro for one's own interest and will?

When the time comes for political action, resonable Americans will need a political party that can be won over to secular, Enlightenment values. And that is something that the Republicans, as long as they keep moving in their current direction, can never become. There is only the slimmest chance that the Democrats will ever become a principled party standing for secular Enlightenment values - but the slimmest chance is better than none.



Comment #104

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 21:11:56 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Kai B:

I, too, cheered Mr. Rasmussen's response to the be-turbaned mullahs who descended upon his office demanding discussion of the Mohammad cartoons (or rather who were demanding yet another opportunity to preach the glories of Islam and for Mr. Rasmussen to assume the dhimma position). However, you are gravely mistaken to assume that George Bush's reaction to that faux-crisis was any different from that of Democrat politicians and their affiliates in the U.S. Quite the contrary.



Comment #105

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 21:14:40 mst
Name: John T. Kennedy
URL: no-treason.com

"Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because "both are bad.""

How about refraining from voting because it's a complete waste of your time?

<http://tinyurl.com/o3aes>

Assuming you live in Colorado, I don't see any way your vote could have made any difference in the last election:

<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/elections/2004/co/>

All the political results would have been exactly the same regardless of who you voted for, and they'd have been exactly the same if you hadn't voted at all.



Comment #106

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 21:23:11 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Kai B:

Correction: There was one difference (in method) between Mr. Bush's reaction to the cartoon faux-crisis and that of Democrat politicans and their affiliates: he voiced his opinion (invalid as was), while his Democrat counterparts by and large either kept their mouths shut and their tails beween their legs or blurbled out the usual dhimma rationalizations.



Comment #107

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 22:15:03 mst
Name: John T. Kennedy
URL: no-treason.com

"In his recent talk, "Nothing Less Than Victory," Dr. John Lewis rightly argued that America ought to demand that the Muslim world wholly separate mosque and state."

Assuming they are unmoved by such demands, how do you propose to impose that on a billion Muslims?



Comment #108

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 22:27:41 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Diana:

Betsy Speicher replied: "Ayn Rand didn't think so. She wrote about how to select a candidate (but not a party) and, over the years, she wrote about why we should vote for or against particular candidates in particular elections. Sometimes she endorsed a Democrat, sometimes she condemned a Republican, but where did she ever write about voting for or against a PARTY?"

That's bizarrely concrete-bound reasoning. Ayn Rand has been dead for over 20 years.

Me:

That wasn't meant to be reasoning, but a simple statement of fact.

The reasoning can be found in Ayn Rand's essay "How to Judge a Political Candidate" in the March 1964 issue of The Objectivist Newsletter. Her reasoning is just as valid as ever and is particularly relevant to the discussion we are having here and now.

Diana:

The Republican and Democratic Parties have changed significantly in those years.

Me:

Indeed they have. The Democrats are no longer socialists who are ideologically impotent, as some claim. That was the Old Left.

The Democrats have been taken over by the New Left who are anti-ideological, anti-American, anti-man, anti-industrial revolution, and often physically violent irrationalists who are now in control of Academia and a large part of the media, disrupt Objectivist public lectures and trash Objectivist campus publications, and make common cause with Jihadists.

Concrete, but TRUE!

Diana:

As Objectivists, we should think in principles, not bind ourselves to Ayn Rand's particular analyses.

Me:

But we should not reject them without good cause, either.

Diana:

No principle of Objectivism states that candidates must be evaluated individually, without regard for their party -- or vice versa.

Me:

That's correct, but there is a reason WHY Ayn Rand voted for candidates as individuals instead of voting for or against a party. The two major parties are not homogeneous entities, but collections of individuals who vary widely. A huge moral gulf separates Rick Santorum from Rudy Giuliani, although they are both Republicans, and to treat them as interchangeable defies reality.

Diana:

Ayn Rand judged individual candidates when appropriate -- and parties when appropriate. As you well know, she judged the Libertarian Party as unworthy of any votes, regardless of the particular candidates. She did so with good reason: the LP had an ideological core of subjectivism, just as the ideological core of today's GOP is religion.

Me:

That is assuming a major political party, unlike a third party, HAS an ideological core. It doesn't. Observe that Republican Giuliani is a lapsed Catholic, divorced, and pro-choice.

Diana:

Finally, I *really* object to this cherry-picking of Ayn Rand's words. She didn't think religion was a serious issue in the 1960s for one simple reason: it wasn't. However, toward the end of her life, she recognized the serious danger of the rise of the religious right. She was vehemently opposed to Ronald Regan's injection of religion into politics. Like Dr. Peikoff, she knew what that could mean for America.

Me:

And I *really* object to IGNORING Ayn Rand's words when they are relevant to the current argument. Yes, she was vehemently opposed to Ronald Reagan's injection of religion into politic. She despised him for it. Yet she despised the New Left even more and wrote:

"If, which is very doubtful, Mr. Reagan gets the Republican nomination, there is only one group of people that could make it necessary to vote for him: the Democrats -- by nominating some equivalent of Senator McGovern, such as Senator Kennedy."

[The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. IV, No. 2 November - December 1975, A Last Survey--Part I]



Comment #109

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 22:44:31 mst
Name: Jim May

"When the time comes for political action, resonable Americans will need a political party that can be won over to secular, Enlightenment values. And that is something that the Republicans, as long as they keep moving in their current direction, can never become. There is only the slimmest chance that the Democrats will ever become a principled party standing for secular Enlightenment values - but the slimmest chance is better than none."

That must be why we see all those "Atlas Shrugged" references on Daily Kos.

Conservatism, like its sibling the Left, is fundamentally anti-Enlightenment. However, unlike the Left, it does not yet have complete ideological control over the Right.

The Left has been purging "liberalism" of any and all Enlightenment elements since the Progressive era. It completed the job in the 1960's, when conservatism was only in the beginning stages of being re-energized by the new "evangelical" form of Christianity. After that, it was just a matter of waiting for the "old liberal" Democrats to die off; that was pretty much done by 2000. McGovern lost his election, but he won the Party. This door is closed to us.

But I do not concede that "the fight on the Right" is over yet. I agree with Robert Tracinski's view that to the extent that any debate anywhere deals with anything resembling fundamendals (a low standard, I admit), it's happening within the Right. Either we slug it out there, or we stick to cultural change and hope it "takes" before the Kantian siblings reach their political end-of-road.



Comment #110

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 22:49:59 mst
Name: Jim May

I wote: "However, unlike the Left, it does not yet have complete ideological control over the Right."

That should read "However, unlike the Left, **conservatism** does not yet have complete ideological control over the Right."

sorry again.



Comment #111

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:06:17 mst
Name: Ruth
URL: http://chaostheory.typepad.com

Good for you Diana. I could not agree with you more. It is good that these neo-cons who claim to be admirers of Rand be exposed and purged.

Dr Peikoff has been amazingly prescient for years now. It's important not to allow these always-wrong individuals -- burdened with such horrendous political judgment and willing to follow such a radical political movement as Bush's with blind loyalty -- to take the moral high ground.



Comment #112

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:24:28 mst
Name: Ed

See post #28. For all the 100+ posts on the thread, how come there's no explanation of why the threat is imminent?



Comment #113

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:26:19 mst
Name: Tony Donadio

Ruth wrote:

"Good for you Diana. I could not agree with you more. It is good that these neo-cons who claim to be admirers of Rand be exposed and purged."

Ruth, that is NOT a helpful, polite, or rational contribution to this discussion.

Those of us who do not necessarily agree (or yet agree) with Dr. Peikoff's advice or analysis are NOT "neo-cons claiming to be admirers of Rand," and we do NOT need to be "exposed and purged." There are exceptions in any group, but many of the people you are talking about are rational, honest, and knowledgeable Objectivists with decades of history and intellectual activism behind them to prove it.



Comment #114

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:30:38 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

I agree with Ayn Rand's view, and with Dr. Peikoff's thesis in "The Ominous Parallels," that cultural changes of great magnitude are ultimately caused by PHILOSOPHY and have always worked their way through a culture for at least a century or two before they can affect politics.

If philosophical changes cause political changes and not the other way around, how can who gets elected lead to the philosophy of religion dominating the entire population of the USA in less than 50 years?



Comment #115

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:34:45 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

In response to Ruth, I'm certainly not advocating anything remotely resembling "purges." That would be unjust, to say the least. I'm merely glad the debate is now out in the open.



Comment #116

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:37:13 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Jim:

At the risk of engaging in anecdotal fallacy, my experience in dealing with committed Democrats informs my conclusion that they are completely closed to reason and, in particular, to the very concept of "individual", the mention of which leads to smarmy ridicule at best and violent denunciation at worst. And to even mention the name, Ayn Rand, or the title of one of Miss Rand's books is to be dismissed without consideration altogether. Furthermore, it is clear to me they are NOT closed to religion generally; they engage in a kind of perpetual teenage revolt against "traditional" Christianity, but not to non-traditional Christian forms or eastern mysticism, or Sufism (Islam), etc.

Your post, and the comments of a number of others here, begins to get at the category error I see at the base of Dr. Peikoff's argument (what, in my view, is his misattributions of Dis- and Misintegration with respect to the two parties).



Comment #117

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:49:46 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Thank-you, Diana and Tony. It would be impossible for me to verbalize fully how very challenged (delightfully) I have been by these exchanges, heated as some of them have been. Yes . . . frustrated too. But the suggestion that a disagreement here is necessarily proof of neo-conservatism (or some such other designation used as a pejorative) and requires immediate purging is untoward.



Comment #118

Monday, October 30, 2006 at 23:59:20 mst
Name: DWT

Vespasiano wrote:
"Your post, and the comments of a number of others here, begins to get at the category error I see at the base of Dr. Peikoff's argument (what, in my view, is his misattributions of Dis- and Misintegration with respect to the two parties)."

please clarify this -- in my view the Left seems to now be dominated by nihilism (disintegration) - the Right seems to be dominated by religion (mysticism a form of misintegration)



Comment #119

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 0:51:51 mst
Name: To be or 3 B.

1. "In his recent talk, "Nothing Less Than Victory," Dr. John Lewis rightly argued that America ought to demand that the Muslim world wholly separate mosque and state. As in Shinto Japan after World War II, Muslims would be free to pray to Allah in their private lives, but Islam would be barred from public life and politics, including education. Muslims could rationalize that public secularism however they pleased -- or abandon Islam entirely. Such secular government in Muslim countries is required to eliminate their threat to the West."

2. "Such charges are absurd: a person does not dogmatically impose himself upon anyone else by expressing strong epistemological and moral judgments."

3. No mention of Israel or whether the United States should demand that all religion be kept out of the schools, army, public life and politics of Israel.

I don't think Ayn Rand is turning over in her grave now---I think she's having a long suppressed laugh of joy. It looks like her ideas are even going to survive 25 years of the various pretenders to the throne trying their best to twist her ideas to suit their own purposes. Long after the poseurs have marginalized each other her words will remain as individuals in each new generation read The Fountainhead, "get the message", and live their lives in keeping with her philosophy. Congratulations to Ayn Rand, the greatest philosopher of all. No wonder "The Man Who Laughed" was her favorite book. The Woman Who Laughs is going to have the last laugh after all.



Comment #120

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 0:55:32 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

To be or 3 B: You were already kindly invited to remain silent. Now you're kindly invited to bugger off.



Comment #121

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 1:04:01 mst
Name: To be or 3B

I forgot to include that I think the first comment on this thread by Halidryn is the best of all. Having Ayn Rand's own words in one's corner when arguing a case is the best defense (or prosecution) money can buy.
Each individual gets to play the role of the Judge who can interpret her words for himself. That's the way Ayn Rand wanted it and she's entitled to no less.



Comment #122

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 1:07:40 mst
Name: To be or 3B

Certainly, Diana. It's your blog. I won't post anymore.



Comment #123

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 1:12:40 mst
Name: Jim May

Ed writes:

"See post #28. For all the 100+ posts on the thread, how come there's no explanation of why the threat is imminent?"

This is the information I also seek, Ed. For me, the imminence of the theocratic threat is the key.

In defense of Dr. Peikoff, however, there are two indications that the theocrats can move much faster than the Left did.

First, is the synergy between the Left and the theocrats, that is born of their common philosophic base. Like a tug-of-war with both sides pulling the same way, that won't last so long as did the old political order, where a still-significant Enlightenment remainder served to slow the Left down.

The second, a consequence of the first, is that the "work" done by the Left serves the goals of the theocrats equally well -- because they are the same ends. This is what I meant earlier by referring to the Left as "trailblazers" for theocracy; in more ways than one, the Left is to theocracy what AIDS is to the opportunistic infections that follow. This pertains not only to cultural erosion of the Enlightenment, but to the Machinery of State (FCC, FAA, BATF, FDA etc.) that can readily be adapted for totalitarian purposes. Division of labor, of the worst sort.

In the best-case scenario, the theocrats have to fight tooth and nail to dislodge the Left from their positions of power, losing time and effort. In the worst case, the theocrats will pick up right where the Left left off -- absorbing them as they go, as if they'd been the same side all along. That is not an impossible thing, though I have my reasons to doubt it will happen that way... I once wrote on HBL that the Left doesn't even care about power, so much as the end of the Enlightenment; like James Taggart in the torture room, it cares more about the death of its hated enemy than even the prospect of ruling in the aftermath.

Again: I am convinced that the theocrats are the *ultimate* enemy to defeat -- but I'm still uncertain about whether they are more dangerous than the Left as of November 7th, 2006. I do not know whether the facts I cite above are enough to conclude so.

I will add one more thing, for what it's worth: I asked Dr. Binswanger on HBL back in August about whether Objectivism was moving fast enough to win. He said it's impossible to tell right now.



Comment #124

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 1:27:28 mst
Name: Glenn Martin

If anyone thinks that the evangelicals are not making inroads into colleges and the U.S. Government, check out this account of religous harassment at the Air Force Academy in 2005. Even worse is the Air Force's unwillingness to do much about it.

See:

http://www.jewsonfirst.org/weinstein.html



Comment #125

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 1:40:47 mst
Name: Bill K.

The simple but flawed syllogism the Bush Administration follows is:

Islam is a religion,
Religion is good,
Therefore Islam is good.

The two foreign policy makers in the White House are George Bush and Condoleezza Rice. Bush's religiosity is well known but Rice's is less so. None the less she is as feverent in her belief as Bush. In the days preceeding her appointment as Secretary of State, Rice was asked in an interview what her fondest memory in the White House was as National Security Advisor. "Praying with George Bush in the White House" was her reply. This was not from some silly seventeen year old school girl but from a very powerful official approaching her fiftieth birthday. Maybe less praying and more payng attention to the plotting of our enemies might have forestalled the events of 9/11. I knew when I read this that Rice was going to be a disaster as Secretary of State. This is a very clear example of how religion in the Republican White House and it's sympathy for Islam makes fighting a war against the Islamists nearly impossible.

I will be voting for the Democrats but with distaste. Maria Cantwell, the ringleader of a Democratic cabal to prohibit oil drilling in ANWR, is one of the choices. Ugh! "Baghdad" Jim McDermott, appeaser extraordinaire and socialized medicine true believer is the other choice. Double ugh! Their Republican opponents in this election are the "good Republicans" Peikoff wrote about but the Republican Party and their religious agenda is just getting too dangerous.



Comment #126

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 3:05:53 mst
Name: Vespasiano

DWT:

I must say that it is I who need the clarification . . . I continue to struggle with the Dis- and Misintegration concepts as presented in the DIM Hypothesis. One of the great things about this series of exchanges is that it inspires a new pathway to further study. As should be pretty apparent from my posts, I fairly despise both Republicans and Democrats (or, rather, politicians generally) and am running out of Election Day clothespins for my nose.



Comment #127

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 3:25:37 mst
Name: Jim May

Glenn, thanks for that link. It is an indicator of the overall level of Christian activity, and were I a secular serviceman I'd have concerns about that sort of person covering my back.

Overall, however, all this does is confirm my contention that the religionists are still in the early stages of their growth. The things they are doing are largely individual actions that involve, at worst, harassment... it brings to mind Communist and union recruitment in the 30's. Again... evidence of the threat, but not its immediacy.

Moreover, that site has a clear Leftist view, sufficient to suspect it of some exaggeration. Given the return of anti-Semitism to the Left, I suspect its owners are due for some shocks over the next while.

...

I took the time to reread Diana's post more closely (now that I'm at home) and the others linked -- in particular C. Bradley Thompson's article on conservatism. I thought I'd read it already, but I was mistaken. Wow, it packs a wallop... the thing that shocked me the most, was the demonstration that neo-conservatism is to conservatism what Progressivism was to liberalism; the co-opting of conservatism -- by the Left! I'd never thought that the "neo-" was that important, apart from that they were a 60's era migration from the Democrats... now I see the significance of that migration. The quotes supplied from Kristol, Brooks etc. are pretty damning.

I'm still uncertain about the tactic of voting straight Democrat; I'd still like to hold out for gridlock, pick the best local candidate. But I'm wondering about whether my own argument works the other way: a sufficient (but not overwhelming) Democratic victory in this election would do more to slow down the conservatives than it would to energize the Left (because of the small two-year window). Take the results and use that to make the next move in 2008.

Sigh... Bill K., you are facing about the worst "choose between evils" moment I've ever seen.



Comment #128

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 5:24:31 mst
Name: Mike Schneider

Vespasiano> Mike: Western Europe (Eurabia) isn't simply floudering, desparately or otherwise: it's in total collapse. And yet . . . Objectivists in this country are being advised by some to vote for a political party (Democrat) the leadership of which shares overwhelmingly the same ideological if not philosophical perspectives of that collapsing polity's dominant political classes who are, in turn, primarily responsible for the collapse in the first place. And this, we are assured, will . . . somehow . . . "save" us in the United States?!
>>>

Vespasiano, absolutely *no* political party is capable, even by happenstance, of "saving" the US.

Elsewhere, if the Democrats are unable to win elections, it's because the loot-minded masses are now convinced they can get their patriotism and welfare out of the same vending machine. I.e., the Democrats haven't fallen out because they're too radical; it's that Republicans are now all socialists (even if they don't have Che posters on their office doors). Bush(es) after Reagan is just Truman after FDR. Loop history in a circle, tape the ends, and whirl it 'round, 'round, 'round....

Regards all the bloody rot about religious upswings -- well, geez; whadja all expect in a democracy where those who have the most kids will inevitably have the most say? Europe is just imploding faster because it imported a radicalized population that likes having ten or more a shot and isn't inclined to sit patiently for another four years when it loses.

The only reason the US isn't in flames like France is because Mexicans are Catholics and not Aztecs.



Comment #129

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 5:35:07 mst
Name: Mike Schneider

Adam Reed> What changed in America was that hard evidence on the failure of Socialism became available after the fall of the Socialist economies in 1989-1990. Robert Heilbroner, once the most eminent Socialist in American academic Economics, went over the evidence and concluded that von Mises had been right. It was no longer possible to defend Socialism on secular grounds.
>>>

Socialism isn't "defended" per se (save by those who cling to the WORD rather than darting on to the next term rolling off the neo-shibboleth assembly-line); it is simply promoted as an appeal to LOOT.

As you observe in your very next sentence: "But there were and are many Americans who had become dependent on domestic Socialism..."

Indeed they have, and the Republicans are beating the Democrats in the highly competitive business of providing them the loot needed to secure their votes to stay in power.



Comment #130

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 5:44:10 mst
Name: Mike Schneider

Glenn Martin: If anyone thinks that the evangelicals are not making inroads into colleges and the U.S. Government, check out this account of religous harassment at the Air Force Academy in 2005. Even worse is the Air Force's unwillingness to do much about it. http://www.jewsonfirst.org/weinstein.html
>>>

As annoying as the evangelicals are, they appear to still wield less influence than CAIR: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=12502

...at least, that is, when it comes to silencing their critics with punative action.



Comment #131

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 7:16:57 mst
Name: Dave Harrison

Ernest said:

[Umm, what makes you think that the 'liberWesleyan Methodism of Hillary "We'll take things away from you for the common good" Clinton thinks that there is any inherent limit to what you have to pony up "for the children."]

That limit would come when everyone is "equal" ideally. "God's" limit is when everyone's dead.



Comment #132

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 8:27:14 mst
Name: z

There's a lot of back and forth here. "An English girl was arrested due to multiculturalism." "Oh yeah, well a couple in Missouri were living out of wedlock and were persecuted by religionists." I'm wondering whether Peikoff takes his position out of his knowledge of the mechanics of philosophy that he's developing; that he sees that, by the mechanics of the ideas, some set of ideas "has to" win out over others. Like water has to flow down hill by the nature of the entities. We see a flood of concretes, and theres a large argument about which concretes are worse than others. Some say the religionists, some say the subjectivists. Some say the leftists are not defeated because the other day they did x, or y, or z. Perhaps there is something about the skepticism and subjectivism which, by some philosophical law means that society has to go a certain way. I don't know what it is, and I haven't yet heard DIM so maybe this is all answered there. But I trust Peikoff when he says that the socialism is not an ideological threat. That is a wide integration that I have not performed yet. Sooner or later we'll know who was right, we just have to wait and see.



Comment #133

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 9:22:36 mst
Name: ian

There's some good interviews with Bush and Cheney on foxnews.com right now. They're not religious nuts.



Comment #134

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 10:17:29 mst
Name: Jeff Perren

"That limit would come when everyone is "equal" ideally. "God's" limit is when everyone's dead." Dave commnet. #131

Dave, that's the same thing in reality.

Jeff



Comment #135

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 11:29:02 mst
Name: Ernest Edgar Brown

Jeff, re #134,

"Dave, that's the same thing in reality."

Exactly, since that's the only way that everyone can be equal. "Harrison Bergeron" is about the death of man.



Comment #136

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 11:52:42 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Mike Schneider:

I'm afraid I have a higher opinion of the average American (if not the politicians amongst them) than you. The reason America is not yet going down in flames as is Europe is because a sufficient number of Americans still retain, at some level and in a live-and-let-live vague manner to be sure, some notion of individual rights, self-governance and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable. One may find more such people amongst typical Republican voters than Democrat voters these days (my thesis), but they do continue to exist across the political spectrum. Yes . . . the car may be running on vestigial fumes as the the tank approaches empty, but it's still got a way to go. Conversely, Europeans (sadly, even the British) have NEVER quite understood these ideas and have certainly not held them as deeply or as thoroughly as did Americans at one time in our country's history. They remain ready for tyranny.



Comment #137

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 12:16:37 mst
Name: Dave Harrison

Jeff and Ernest:

No, it isn't the same thing.

True egalitarianism does not have as its ultimate goal the death of mankind (radical environmentalism aside for the moment). As soon as the world is seen as obviously slipping away, lots of folks will have time to wake up, get more educated, and correct matters. See the 1989 and 1991 revolutions.

A "voice of God," on the other hand can cause massive or world-wide death and destruction much more quickly and completely -- before anyone has the time to act to prevent it.



Comment #138

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 12:46:31 mst
Name: Vespasiano

I recall an interview with Eric Hobsbawm (the "dean" of Marxist historians) a few years back in which he admitted that Marxism had been shown by actual events to be invalid. However, he very quickly added that he would continue to advocate it forcefully because he needed to believe that it could be true.

The need to believe vs. true belief: which tendency is more destructive? It is the answer to this question that is at the heart of this debate.



Comment #139

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 12:51:34 mst
Name: Vespasiano

PS: The other question, of course, is whether American Christians are Eric Hobsbawms.



Comment #140

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 13:12:01 mst
Name: Lionell Griffith

"True egalitarianism does not have as its ultimate goal the death of mankind."

Hundreds of millions died last century because of the application of the egalitarian principle. The evidence is clear beyond all possibility of honest mistake. Yet, the egalitarians continue demanding equality of results. The fact is, no matter what their words are, their true goal is what they accomplish: death. Their claims of "good intentions" are nothing but a screen to hide their true motive from both themselves and others.



Comment #141

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 13:43:23 mst
Name: Dave Harrison

Lionell:

Of course many die that way. As I argued before, however, the God way is still even worse.

To establish true motives of any given egalitarian that contradict the doctrine of equality for all, is getting into individual psychology, which is beyond the scope here.

The Nazi version of national socialism was, I believe, closer to a religious thing than any sort of egalitarian socialism, though.



Comment #142

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 13:54:35 mst
Name: BrianS

Dr. Peikoff presents as his foundational premise:

"The survival of this country will not be determined by the degree to which the government, simply by inertia, imposes taxes, entitlements, controls, etc..... What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy."

I agree. However, Dr. Piekoff's next premise - his essential argument - is that America is basically facing only one "fundamental philosophy":

"... the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor."

I have to disagree with this assertion. America faces the political evil of - not one but TWO - non-rational philosophies. Besides facing the political Party which is 'home and sponsor' of mysticism, we are also facing the political Party which is 'home and sponsor' of skepticism*. Both of these fundamental philosophies are destroyers of man. And both have been with man since at least the birth of Western philosophy. Neither of these fundamental philosophies is fading. And neither of their Parties lack the passion of their fundamental philosophy. If anything, both are becoming more zealous and thus more consistent in the practice of their respective philosophies.

Thus, I believe it is an error to claim there is only ONE "real" threat to America now. On Dr. Peikoff's level of fundamental philosophy, we are in a war on two fronts. We are locked in combat with mysticism AND skepticism. And, when considering these two fronts, I agree with a statement made yesterday by Dr. Binswanger on his HBL:

"Are you arguing here that religion is more destructive to to the mind than is the Comprachico educational system? I think history shows the opposite: dogma can be opposed; disintegrated non-content prevents the formation of a mind and is even more deadly. Actually, I don't believe one can objectively support either
as being worse than the other (mysticism or skepticism)."

In the end, when considering "the survival of this country" I will heartily agree with the words of Edward Cline (also posted yesterday on HBL):

"HB recently posted an "optimistic" recap of Objectivism's progress in the universities and other venues. That progress is what I'm pinning my hopes on concerning the survival of this country."

--

(*Note: I cannot speak to Dr. Peikoff's use of the phrase, but when I say 'home and sponsor', I am speaking merely of the philosophic trend or tendency of each Party, as I perceive it. I am not claiming either Party is monolithic in its embrace or application of mysticism or skepticism.)



Comment #143

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 13:58:46 mst
Name: Lionell Griffith

David,

The details of individual psychology are irrelevant. Objective consequences are all that count.

If after the first experiment they saw the error of their ways, it would be different. They continue producing death by the same ideas. They are not innocent in their evasions.

Hence death is their goal no matter what kind of smoke screen you are willing to buy from them. God et.al. is simply an excuse.



Comment #144

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 14:58:27 mst
Name: John Powers

How real is the threat from the religious side of the Republican party, and how can the entire party even be essentialized as "religious" (versus Democrats as "socialist") when their millions of members have differing views? I think you have to have that concept, simply because the major Christian groups have already chosen the Republican party as their vehicle. There are so many concrete examples of this, but let me offer two that I find interesting:

1. In a recent speech at the City Club Forum in Cleveland, President Bush was asked whether he believed that armageddon was coming, and whether it influenced his decisions. He spoke for five minutes and didn't even answer the question. Don't minimize that as being just the standard way of a politician -- instead, ask why would Bush avoid saying either yes or no to armageddon, when any human being who actually cares about this world couldn't possibly answer "yes"? It's because 30 to 40 per cent of Christians (depending on which polls you consult) believe that the end of the world is at hand, or will come within their lifetimes. And those people vote overwhelmingly Republican. If Bush answered no, he'd be damned by a large part of his constituency; if he answered yes, he'd be ridiculed by everyone else.

2. The GOP knows how to mobilize their constituency, especially conservative "values voters". I suspect that the megachurches might actually get or develop their marching orders from political groups. They're told what policies to preach about, what candidates to support. I have discovered signs of this myself, and I suspect it's more widespread than anyone is letting on. Here's an example. In 2004, banning gay marriage suddenly became a huge issue in several states. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Many states (including my own, Ohio) passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. The preachers and the megachurches were fully behind these issues, mobilizing their congregations to battle the evil homosexuals. Why? My hypothesis is that since it's illegal for nonprofit churches to stump for political candidates, they latched onto this social issue in order to get more conservative voters under their tent, with the help of the GOP. And here is the proof: in 2004, Bush doubled the votes he got from blacks in Ohio, who historically have voted overwhelmingly Democratic. Simply, his political machine was able to scare up and turn out the conservatives in Ohio, who saw it as a moral imperative to come down on gay marriage*, with the happy side effect of also voting for Bush.

The rabid extremists may be small in number today, but I fear that we will reach a point where the average, un-philosophical American (90% percent of whom "believe in something", meaning some form of god) will come to feel personally offended by any secular ideas. Yes, it's as hard to argue with a zero (a progressively educated mind) as it is to argue with even the mildest religious believer. But it is close to impossible to question even the non-church-going, semi-religious average American about the existence of god. They've been exposed to the ideas of eternal salvation, the Bible, and Jesus Christ since birth from all aspects of the culture, and while they may debate which religion, which sect, they generally cannot even conceive of challenging the validity of these mystical revelations. To the extent that politicians are still pragmatic, they have committed to nothing. To the extent that politicians have chosen to marry religion and government, I don't see how they can still be moderate, in today's world.

One more point. The choices in 2004 and in this year illustrate how both political parties are harming this country. We've debated, at length, which horrendous evil is the least horrendous one to vote for, this time around. I'm putting my energy into what I will do on November 8 to combat all of these awful ideas, wherever they come from.

*In his "Love, Romance, and Sex" talk, Leonard Peikoff gives some reasons why gay marriage is not appropriate. I don't think that official Objectivism has a view on it, though. I want to caution you that although I have been an Objectivist for probably ten years, I do not consider myself a scholar (yet) and I don't want to misrepresent anything. I think carefully about what I write, and I appreciate anyone who can correct any errors that I may have made.



Comment #145

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 15:38:41 mst
Name: Jim May

BrianS writes:

"I have to disagree with this assertion. America faces the political evil of - not one but TWO - non-rational philosophies. Besides facing the political Party which is 'home and sponsor' of mysticism, we are also facing the political Party which is 'home and sponsor' of skepticism*."

Intrinsicism and skepticism both proceed from the same root -- the idea that reason cannot grasp "real" reality. They start at the same place, and end up at the same place -- ethical irrationality -- but differ only on the paths they take to get there.

Skeptics start by denying that reason cannot truly "know" reality, only how it appears to us. They end by denying that if reality is unknowable, then it is of no consequence -- it's just the appearances that matter. As appearances are dependent on pont of view, then it means that reality is ultimately a product of our mental actions. Not old and busted reason, but our *feelings*.

The mystics similarly believe that reason cannot truly "know" reality. However, God is not so limited in that manner; he knows reality, being its Creator. Therefore, if you want to know what is real and what is right, you have to do so via God. And how do we do that? Not by old-and-busted reason, but by *faith*. What is faith? It's a feeling, of course.

Each side describes the process in different terms -- the skeptics end up placing the authorship of reality in ourselves, the mystics in a made-up being (which in practice boils down to -- ourselves), but they end up in the same place -- feelings over facts, emotion over reason.

Left fist, Right fist, same mugger.



Comment #146

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 16:14:45 mst
Name: Jeff Montgomery

HB wrote:
>I think history shows the opposite: dogma can be opposed; disintegrated non-content prevents the formation of a mind and is even more deadly.

It also shows that dogma has ruled over this planet for much of recorded history, and it nearly wiped us out in the Middle Ages. Irrational secular philosophy is harmful; one of its products, totalitarianism, has repeatedly threatened to wipe us out. However, at least philosophy is *a method*. Faith is nothing; it is non-thought, and cannot be reasoned with at all. Pound for pound, I'm less worried about a Democrat who thinks the welfare state works and accepts the validity of the theory of Evolution than a Republican who thinks "because it's in the Bible" constitutes proof and therefore thinks the Earth is 5000 years old. I don't want public policy left to the whims of prayer or a religious text. Once the Religious Right is under control I will worry about about The Left.

Betsy, the issue of voting for candidates vs. parties is not something that I think of as absolute across all time periods. For example, Ayn Rand spoke about one particular candidate, Barry Goldwater, back when it seemed that capitalism might actually be gaining real traction in politics. That did not pan out. Now, at this point in time, we have a GOP in Washington that appears to want to vote monolithically if at all possible and seems bent on playing pure politics for Republicans to win, period. If they plan to vote as a block, then so do I, to unseat them.



Comment #147

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 16:43:12 mst
Name: Jeff Perren

"It also shows that dogma has ruled over this planet for much of recorded history, and it nearly wiped us out in the Middle Ages."

True enough. But the Middle Ages has, in fact, been over for centuries (for the most part) and there is little likelihood of returning to it.

Many of the remarks I have read on the current state of our culture border on paranoia.

The view, only slightly caricatured, is essentially:

"There is an evil cabal of committed radical Christians who have infiltrated the Republican Party and American Life. And, they're seeking to impose by stealth a 'totalistic oppressive Christian theocracy' onto the masses. It will soon be too late to do anything about it. We who see what they are up to (in virute of having studied DIM, the Forward Strategy, Just War, etc) must put a stop to them now!"

This sounds very much like Hillary Clinton talking.



Comment #148

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 17:45:50 mst
Name: JohnnyA

Atheists are an ineffective minority at present, and at any rate do not offer, in terms either of a culture or of public policy, a positive, only a privative (no god).

So, to analyze the trends among the majority of the population (we are talking about voting, after all), we must distinguish among the major religions. In short: most voters are religious; which religion is tactically best for us to support inadvertantly, because it is the weakest?

The three major religions in America are: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Whether or not every person explicitly buys the whole program of their religion, and even whether or not a given individual is in conflict with his religion, most people go along with a certain religio-culture influenced by their family background, region of the country, etc. In short, most voters are either Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. They may hate aspects of their religion, but it's *their* religion *culturally.* Unless one is explicitly atheist, one is religious - and oppositionalists are best thought of as "lapsed" Christians, "lapsed" Jews, or "lapsed" (secularlized) Muslims.

Most Americans - the voting majority - are Christian/lapsed Christian. Jews/lapsed Jews are a minority, but are especially influential in politics and culture; so call them the #2 block. Muslims are largely found among blacks and certain immigrants (first and second generation). (For example, Detroit.) They are not as numerous; call them #3.

Islam would appear to be the weakest religion in America in terms of political support and votes. If we had to choose among a Muslim candidate, a Christian candidate, and a Jewish candidate, we should choose the Muslim candidate. His religious views would be dead in the water in Washington DC; their influence on the political results that we would get out of him would be nil.

Similarly, we should prefer a Jew to a Christian, e.g. Lieberman over Bush.

But there is a problem with this analysis. Granted that Muslims/lapsed Muslims are politically weakest in this country of massing Christians and influential Jews, who is really #2 - Jews or Christians? Aren't they, after all, the same - "Judeo-Christian" is how this is described?

Instead of a political triptich (notice I did not say trichotomy), we may have only two religio-cultures among the believers for whom voters are going to cast ballots: Muslims vs. Judeo-Christians.

The question is: which political party stands for which religion?

The GOP is full of Judeo-Christians, and so is the DP. But the DP has a lot of Muslim-sympathy (and few Muslims, lapsed or not, are Republicans). Based on this, we should vote Democratic. The Republicans are fuller of Judeo-Christians; the Dems are diluted by Muslims (as well as by whatever traditional atheists/"agnostics" there are). In the GOP are fewer atheists, fewer "lapsed" (inconsistent) types, and fewer Muslims.

In short, the DP is fragmented religiously. The GOP is more of a monolith of mysticism.

You can observe that the scarier religious types are in the GOP, both Jewish neo-conservatives and Pat Robertson "New Right" types. What has the DP got? Some fuzzy-headed Greens, Al Franken, sorry pragmatists, and commie Pelosi. If the Dems get in, the "Right" (including now-very-strong media outlets like Fox) will hand their heads to them. Utter, grinding gridlock will result, then maybe we can breathe slightly easier and, um, live our own, real lives or something. Hooray!



Comment #149

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 20:09:01 mst
Name: Peter

Having listened to parts of Peikoff's DIM course (lectures 1-5, 13 and 15), I have found the question of Peikoff's urging to vote Democrat this November to boil down to the following:

(i) Is the DIM hypothesis correct?
(ii) Are Peikoff's classifications correct? Is Bush M2? Is his base M2? How strong is M2 in the US now? Is DIM properly applied to today's situation?

(i) sounds very plausible to me, but not having listened to the full presentation it's perhaps too early to tell. I would guess though that the rest of the material will support the hypothesis, why else would Peikoff bring it up...? Most here and elsewhere seem to think the same. Disagreement seems to lie within question(s) (ii). I don't have enough knowledge to answer (ii). Nonetheless, I do lean towards Diana's view. With regards to the war, given the enemy and the course the administration has set, how is a crisis that will equal or dwarf 9/11 all but guaranteed? I ask those more knowledgeable: Are there any indications that the Bush administration will move forcefully to prevent Iran from going nuclear? Or that they've come to realize what a shambles the Forward Strategy for Freedom is? If not, might as well be hit with the explicit defeatists in power.

Who will provide the answers when the next crisis hits the US? The Left? Will anyone take them seriously? I note that conservative commentators blame the "secular Left" for many of today's evils. While they are correct, they damn the Left and secularism in the same breath. And doesn't "secularism" include us and our views? I get the impression this kind of condemning is done routinely these days, and unopposed. Was this kind of rhetoric seen or heard ten years ago, or even five years ago?

The argument that the religious Republicans will have to contend with the rest of the US and therefore have limited freedom of action must hold equally true for the Democrats. Or is the Democrats' base so massive that they can push through their nihilistic agenda unopposed? That base didn't get their candidate elected in '04. They're the ones fighting an uphill battle. Or am I missing something? If not, I think this would remove the obstacle for voting Democrat.

Peikoff wrote about the gap between the American public and its intellectuals as the saving grace of the US, this fact ending the ominous parallells with Weimar Germany. I think the religious Right has the opportunity to close that gap between its intellectuals and at least a large portion of the American public, in a bad way.

Finally, although this is not an argument for either side, I'd like to recount my recollection of Peikoff's response to the Rushdie affair and Bush Sr's (lack of) response to it. I think he said this was "a complete disaster!" in his inimitable style, and although I agreed with his argumentation, I thought he went overboard in his emotional response to the whole episode. Well, after 9/11 I have re-evaluated my position. Peikoff prognosticative powers are to me awesome, and I haven't seen or heard anything to suggest that this has changed of lately.



Comment #150

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 20:37:05 mst
Name: richard watts

i support diana's position on this issue. i have never before voted for a democrat, and during the past year and a half i have decided that voting for libertarians is actually a vote against liberty. after i read c. bradley thompson's article on conservatism in the objective standard, i had decided to vote only on referendums, and not to vote for any candidates. due to the arguments of peikoff, diana and lin zinser on this issue, i have changed my mind. after considering these arguments, in conjunction with brad thompson's article, and in conjunction with what i learned about christianity while i was being raised by fundamentalist christians, i have decided to vote for all of the democrats, and for no one else. i will be holding my nose through the entire process. but i will vote against theocracy.

i have wondered,lately, if perhaps totalitarian christianity, through the dark ages, would have killed more people per year than 20th century communist dictators did - if there had been a high enough population of people in the world for that to have been even possible. it was not possible because religion would not allow people to survive and multiply at a rate that would provide a population of that many victims. it was only because of the enlightenment and it's effects, because of the throwing off of religious totalitarianism, that the 20th century dictators had available enough victims to allow the records they set in numbers of people slaughtered.

if the world, or half the world, returns to christian totalitarianism, will they set a new record for murder? or will christianity and islam have merged by that time, with the same result? i think the differences between the two religions are superficial. as a child, i attended a private school (a christian school). i studied what happened during the dark ages, what level of value was assigned to human life, what went on in the spanish inquisition, and in other similar purges. people were treated in this way every day, throughout christendom - these events were made historically famous only by the large numbers of people involved in specific incidents. if you were accused of wrongdoing, and you were tortured to find out if you were guilty, if you confessed to stop the torture, you would be executed. if you did not confess, you would die under torture, and maybe your killers could wonder if you were innocent. they used machinery to pull people's spines in half - for jesus, not allah. there was no concept of rights as a function of the right of each individual to his own life. there were only entitlements, privileges, bestowed by the state or the church, who owned the lives of individuals (per god).

of course the curriculum of the baptist school i attended blamed all of this on the catholics and the era, and gave all of the credit for the renaissance, the industrial revolution and the birth of america to the emergence of protestantism. i dont remember the enlightenment being mentioned - i think that might have been a dirty word, as was the term "secular humanism".

as a young adult, i struggled to reject the restrictions of christianity and to undo the damage, and to formulate my own system of morality. i had never heard of ayn rand. but i did achieve an independent understanding of how ridiculous some of the things i was taught were. but only on some points. by the time i was 30 i had decided the bible could not be true, and i considered myself an agnostic, but i was unable to unload many of my altruistic beliefs, and i lived in a vise made of guilt.

as a child and as a teenager, i was taught, and studied, the doctrines of christianity. i am fairly familiar with them. i have read the entire bible once through. as an adult i struggled with those ideas, and with ideas of my own which conflicted with them - among them ideas about the rightness of concepts of american liberty and individual rights. i have believed in these ideas very strongly ever since i studied the rise of america and the founding documents of the united states - since i was about 11 years old. but i could never reconcile my beliefs in american freedoms with christianity, which i was told american ideas of rights and freedom were rooted in. in my mid twenties, i began to really confront ideas from the new testament, like "obey every ordinance of man for the lord's sake", "obey the king because he is god's messenger", "turn the other cheek", "resist not evil", servants obey your masters", "caesar's image is on the coin, give it to him". at this time, i decided that christianity and american principles of rights and freedom are not compatible, and that if the bible were true, it is god i would reject, not america.

i have said all of this to say that i looked and thought long and hard to try to find a basis in christianity for the concept of individual, inalienable rights, and for a justification of the idea that man has a right to free choice in the decisions that direct the course of his life. and a right to freely choose his own beliefs, and express them, and to have exclusive authority over his own property. i did not find a basis for any of these ideas - it is not there. i found many attacks on these rights, however. there is some basis in the bible for the idea that man has free will. but there is no scriptural basis for the idea that man has a right to free will scripture says he is wrong and marked for death if his choices in any area of his life defy the dictates of god's will (which will is to be known via the scriptures with the guidance of the preacher, the holy spirit and the state).

the only right that can be inferred from the bible is the right to do your duty, the right to obey god, your master and owner.

this year, and in future elections until our political alternatives change in some way, i will vote for the flavor of socialism and mysticism that is most confused about who god is and what god's will might be, and therefore is least motivated to make me obey god's will for my life. i will hope that there will be enough time left to objectivists to establish the foundations of an american culture that is neither religious nor socialistic.

remember, the left never had any real ideology of their own, they changed some of the words, but they borrowed their ideas and their ideals from religion. the conflicts between christianity and socialism are superficial, not fundamental. if brad thompson's article doesn't convince you of this, please read peikoff's "the ominous parallels". and the catholic encyclical "populorum progressio" from the late 1960's by pope paul vi, and ayn rand's requiem for man in "capitalism the unknown ideal".

conservative christians are now strongly allied with secular socialism in the republican party. the two ideologies share common moral principles and common goals. both are against man's mind and man's well being. both believe that man does not deserve his life and that man's only redemption is the destruction of the self (and for christians, that man will only be truly free from evil when he is free from his body - by losing his life). i think it is true that for those christians who believe otherwise, it is a breach of their integrity as christians - that their differences on this issue come from other contaminating influences, not from christianity.

if democrat party socialism merges with christian socialism in order to ally together against individual rights, god help us. we will need it when we can no longer help ourselves. but if the vote that is already tipped to the right is reinforced by democrats deserting their sinking ship, the result may be the same. if something is not done to turn america around, a miss is as good as a mile.



Comment #151

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 21:30:30 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

It's so great to follow and participate in political discussions on THE FORUM for Ayn Rand Fans, Harry Binswanger's List, and here on NoodleFood in complex dialogues involving facts, values, epistemology and psycho-epistemology, theory and practice, moral evaluation, and so much more.

Almost all of the commentators are admirers of Ayn Rand, yet what dramatic differences in their concerns, goals, and especially in how they reason when confronted with difficult issues. As an amateur psychologist whose favorite pastime is people-watching, this is a wonderful opportunity to observe, analyze, and evaluate so many interesting individuals in action. I'm in heaven!



Comment #152

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 21:53:42 mst
Name: Steve D'Ippolito

Peter asked

"Are there any indications that the Bush administration will move forcefully to prevent Iran from going nuclear? Or that they've come to realize what a shambles the Forward Strategy for Freedom is? If not, might as well be hit with the explicit defeatists in power."

There are *some* weak indications--rumors that special forces are in Iran right now, rumors that nuclear submarines (i.e., ones with nuclear missiles on board) were put out to sea on October 1, etc.

Wish I could believe it.



Comment #153

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 22:05:27 mst
Name: Glenn Martin

Jim May says:

"Glenn, thanks for that link. It is an indicator of the overall level of Christian activity, and were I a secular serviceman I'd have concerns about that sort of person covering my back."

http://www.jewsonfirst.org/weinstein.html

If the Air Force Academy has been infiltrated by evangelicals, I'd say everyone should be concerned. These guys are the future officers of the Air Force and will have their fingers on the guns and nukes. The government has done little or nothing to stop it. Note the links to the Air Force's non-solution and resolution of the problem.

I wrote to the public relations people at the A.F. Academy and asked them how it had been resolved.

Their response:

"Sir, As you know this has been an extremely important issue for us and we appreciate your concern in this matter. I'm attaching links to an Air Force News story on the subject and a copy of our religious guidelines for your use."

http://www.af.mil/news/story_print.asp?storyID=123016168

http://www.af.mil/library/guidelines2005.pdf

-----Original Message-----
From: Glenn Martin [mailto:gmartin2570@charter.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 28, 2006 3:50 PM
To: USAF Public Inquiries
Subject: Feedback: Religious Hazing at The Air Force Academy

My letter of request:
Dear Sirs,

I was quite concerned when I heard that some cadets were being penalized because of their religious beliefs or lack of them. This kind of action by future military offers is a threat the the very essence of the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States. I realize that this is somewhat old news, but I never could find out what the resolution of this terrible situation was.

Could you please send me a copy of the history of and official Air Force Academy resolution of this problem.

Glenn Martin



Comment #154

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 22:56:28 mst
Name: richard watts

in reference to comment #148 by JohnnyA: by your method of categorizing political parties as religions,since there was once a majority of votes for democrats(say to elect clinton, or earlier in the 20th century when democrats had a very long run of dominating politics), would you say that those who once voted democrat, but now vote republican are muslims lapsed to christianity/judaism? if you go to the event called burningman, you will see liberal democrats embracing and celebrating every primitive religion you can imagine. they are not muslims, christians or jews, and many of them were not raised in contact with these religions. buddism and hinduism are huge hits with them. many of them have even dug up the really ancient religions - gods from eras long before christ.

a numerical shortage of votes is not the only weakness of the democratic party, and the numerical strength of an enemy is not the only danger to liberty. remember ayn rand's statement that less than 50,000 bolsheviks took russia, because russia had no moral resistance to them. the present day conservatives are not just strong by way of being in the majority, they are idealogically strong. they have an ideology that has an enormous ability to snare the support of confused people. even some of the people who will not support it will tolerate it, especially if they dont see a viable alternative to choose. part of what holds them is guilt. to the extent that you buy any part of the morality of christianity, you have surrendered your self esteem to be held hostage to the needs of others. you will be willing to do anything to redeem your self esteem, to the extent of your ability to even keep caring. after all, self-esteem is necessary to you, in order for you to live and thrive. the ransom to redeem your self-esteem is to sacrifice your own welfare for others, to crucify yourself. but the price is never paid, no matter how much you sacrifice there is guilt. any way you react to this, you trash your life out until you reject the ideas that are making you miserable and assert, in your own mind, in your actions and in your relations with others, as a moral principle, that you have a right to your life, and god doesn't, and other people dont either. this is a very difficult point for a christian to get to. even if he rejects religion, he still has to refute the premises that are causing his guilt or he retains the guilt and all the damage that goes with it.

i disagree that christianity would not be a political threat if their party had a minority of the vote. i think the danger of christianity is in the way that people will embrace it when they dont recognize a better philosophical alternative. i think islam is also dangerous in america as a political influence, for the same reason. look at the influence islam has on the liberals. muslims dont have to convert liberals to get liberals to vote for their interests. they dont even have to convince liberals that they are right on any particular issue. liberals have already decided that america is wrong, this was not the doing of muslims. liberals would think america is automatically wrong even if there were no muslims. if a person doesn't have thoughts and knowledge, to fill his mind with, that he knows are worth having, and choose those ideas, his mind is only a sponge, it soaks up whatever muck it is laying in. people accept christianity for the same reason - it's a default in a vacuum. an idea doesn't primarily get it's power to influence people by being accepted by a majority. it becomes accepted by a majority because it had the power to influence people when it's followers were still a small minority - even if only because they did not have a better idea to fight it off with.



Comment #155

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 23:27:40 mst
Name: JohnnyA

Richard Watts asks me: "since there was once a majority of votes for democrats (say to elect clinton, or earlier in the 20th century when democrats had a very long run of dominating politics), would you say that those who once voted democrat, but now vote republican are muslims lapsed to christianity/judaism?"

No, this type is mostly "lapsed Jews" (e.g. David Horowitz). That's the factual answer. As to what your question and the rest of your post mean philosophically, I have no clue.



Comment #156

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 1:59:37 mst
Name: Ed

Comments now number than 150. For those who say they agree with Peikoff, would anyone offer an explanation of why a theocracy is an imminent threat?

I don't think anyone disagree that both the left and the religious right are threats. What matters is judging which is the greater threat, and which provides the more immediate danger.



Comment #157

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 5:05:57 mst
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

Ed: Why is a theocracy an imminent threat?

OK. First, what is "theocracy" in this context? Unlike Socialism, which has separate English words for its totalitarian ("Communist") and sub-totalitarian ("Social-Democratic") variants, we don't have separate words for totalitarian and sub-totalitarian variants of theocracy. Betsy's argument, which you may have seen, uses a dictionary reference to the totalitarian variant to argue that this is not an imminent threat. But let's compare apples to apples. Only the sub-totalitarian variants of either Theocracy or Socialism are a near-term possibility in America today. What do they mean?

Socialism, in its sub-totalitarian variant, deprives me of some of my income, and makes the economy less efficient. So I wind up drinking two-buck Chuck instead of Mouton-Rothschild, and using that old CRT monitor for another year instead of buying a new LCD display for my computer. Driving a smaller car, eating more Iceberg lettuce and less endive, that sort of thing.

Theocracy, in its sub-totalitarian variant, means that the state gets to restrict what I can and cannot write (the Feds are now prosecuting the first "obscenity" case for pure written words - no pictures - in half a century,) what I am and what I am not allowed to say, whom I am and whom I am not permitted to love, whether or not I can abort a defective fetus - and theocracy means that I'm not, so that I am not allowed to become a parent without risking life-long enslavement, with some non-negligible likelihood, to the needs of a mindless monster that might have a biological resemblance to a human being. This is not a hypothetical threat: late-term abortion of even a monstrously defective fetus is already a federal crime.

In other words: sub-totalitarian socialism nibbles at the margins of my living well. Sub-totalitarian theocracy devours the essence of everything that distinguishes life appropriate to a Man from life appropriate to a sheep.

And because even sub-totalitarian theocracy entails censorship, it eliminates the only known barrier against a slide into totalitarianism: our minds knowing what is being done to us, and being free to think about it.

If the Democrats win, in five years a can of beans might cost ten cents more.

If the Republicans win, in five years the United States will have a Chief Censor like New Zealand. In ten years, the "we had to learn it from each other" scene will be ordered cut from _Atlas Shrugged_. And in fifteen years _The Fountainhead_ will be banned.

So OK, which is the greater threat?



Comment #158

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 7:07:59 mst
Name: Dave Harrison

Lionel wrote:

"The details of individual psychology are irrelevant."

On the contrary, psycho-epistemology -- actually a branch of psychology -- can be very much involved. There's a whole list of possible errors in thinking that may be at issue here.

In any case, we may be getting too far afield. The original point -- that a theocratic policy is potentially far worse than a welfare state policy -- still stands, for the reasons I've presented.





Comment #159

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 9:02:09 mst
Name: Burgess Laughlin
URL: http://www.aristotleadventure.com

Adam Reed, Comment 157: "First, what is "theocracy" in this context? [...] we don't have separate words for totalitarian and sub-totalitarian variants of theocracy. Betsy's argument [...] uses a dictionary reference to the totalitarian variant to argue that this is not an imminent threat. But let's compare apples to apples. Only the sub-totalitarian variants of either Theocracy or Socialism are a near-term possibility in America today. [...]"

Adam, thank you for your intriguing analysis. I agree that the comparisons should be commensurate. However, I would like to step back and offer a suggestion about part of the meaning of "theocracy." I do hold that a theocracy is *essentially* (causally) totalitarian -- in intent. The reason is that the purpose of such a government is to apply God's law to mankind; God, his minions say, is omniscient and omnipresent; and that, in effect, there are no "holes" in God's rule of the universe. A theocracy, in religionists' theory, *must* be totalitarian -- in intent -- because God is king and the government, run by his minions, applies his all-encompassing will to our life here on earth.

That is the intent, and it is totalitarian, that is, all-embracing. However, any type of totalitaian statist government may have lacunae of "permitted" freedoms, either intentionally, inadvertently, or simply through lack of sufficient power (yet).

Your methodological point remains valid: A productive comparison should deal with commensurate versions: in this case, the variants that are "sub-totalitarian" (in results, if not in intent).

(For the record: I voted for a Democratic congressman, for the first time in my life, but not because I fear an imminent theocratic regime. I do however see danger of what might be called a "theologic" government in the United States.)



Comment #160

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 10:49:30 mst
Name: Glenn Martin

As long as we remain a Republic with the Bill of Rights and the protections that it gives to individuals, we will survive. Even if al-Qaeda does its worst, they are not going to be parachuting in and taking over. A free and determined republic can win against the worst the terrorists can give out. It might be rough, but we can win. We have the strongest military, the best weapons, and the best constitution.

But, the present administration is not fighting to win all-out. Instead of chasing, tracking down, and killing terrorists all over the world, our best troops are bogged down in the Administration's war in Iraq. We are allowing the worst theocracy in the world, Iran, to develop nuclear weapons.

If al-Qaeda or some other terrorist group or nation does attack the U.S. again, using weapons of mass destruction, then the potential danger from the extreme religious-right becomes most likely. Then is when we stand to loose Freedom of Speech and the other protections given by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

We do not have to be named The Evangelical Theocracy of America in order to become one. It takes just enough repressive laws being passed.

Why does Bush not allow our troops to scorch the earth in order to win over terrorism? What motivates him to fight in such an apologetic way? What motivates him to sacrifice American soldiers in order not to harm Iraqi civilians?

In a time of crisis, which party is least likely to take away Freedom of Speech, protections against Unlawful Search and Seizure, and other protections given by the Bill of Rights? Which party is lead by a "born-again" Christian, and is highly influenced by a large following of evangelical foot-soldiers chomping at the bit to enforce by law, a literal interpretation of the Bible?



Comment #161

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 11:00:48 mst
Name: Ed

In response to my repeated question, Adam Reed writes in post #157: "If the Republicans win, in five years the United States will have a Chief Censor like New Zealand."

This is precisely the type of claim that needs proof by specific evidence. There are certainly strong factions in today's politics who would oppose such a position.

Also, the theocracy Peikoff was discussing implies, I believe, a necessary totalitarian component -- not simply today's mixed economy with an increased religious component, such as a ban on abortion. I take it he refers to a theocracy like we see in Iran. And that is what I have a hard time seeing come to pass anytime soon. It's possible, in the very long run, that an unchecked religious right could bring that about, but not in 50 years. Americans, despite their problems, wouldn't stand for it.



Comment #162

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 11:41:37 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Here's a recent conversation between another Objectivist (A) and me (B):

A: Watch out! Joe will kill you!

B: Really? Why?

A: Joe has brown eyes. Brown-eyed people are murderers.

B: How can that be?

A: Just look at the facts. O.J. has brown eyes. Most of the people on Death Row have brown eyes. Neighborhoods with the highest crime rates have the largest proportion of brown-eyed people.

B: But look at all the brown-eyed people who are NOT murderers.

A: That brown-eyed people are murderers follows from A is A, so let's not bring up such concrete-bound objections.

B: But Ayn Rand had brown eyes!

A: Ayn Rand has been dead for over 20 years. Things have changed a lot since then. Look at the trend. The population and proportion of brown-eyed people in the US is increasing, therefore the murder rate is increasing.

B: But the murder rate has gone DOWN.

A: Another concrete-bound objection!

B: But where is the CAUSAL connection between brown eyes and murdering? WHY and HOW are brown-eyed people murderers?

A: It follows from A is A. Are you rejecting the Law of Identity? What kind of pseudo-Objectivist are you, Betsy?

[Actually, I made this up -- but it may be relevant to some current controversies.]



Comment #163

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 13:24:49 mst
Name: jay

162-

Who are you implying to be A?



Comment #164

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 13:26:57 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Betsy said: "[Actually, I made this up -- but it may be relevant to some current controversies.]"

Actually, it has no relevance at all. It's just a clever strawman.



Comment #165

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 13:35:23 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Jay asks:

162-

Who are you implying to be A?

My reply:

Anyone who makes similar arguments about anything. The principles of valid logical inference apply to ALL arguments.



Comment #166

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 13:58:31 mst
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

Ed, you write: >> In response to my repeated question, Adam Reed writes in post #157: "If the Republicans win, in five years the United States will have a Chief Censor like New Zealand." This is precisely the type of claim that needs proof by specific evidence. <<

Consider the basic premise behind the current Federal prosecutions for "obscenity" of purely written work, published without so much as a single picture that an actual person might have been harmed to produce. That premise is that the ruling Christian Republican majority is entitled to criminalize wrong ideas, even as pure expression, in themselves, without any objectively criminal action. If the Republicans appoint two more Christianists to the supreme court, Ashcroft v. The Free Speech Coalition will be overturned. But the current prosecution also fails the due process test, because it is not possible, given the arbitrary character of faith-based criminalization of pure speech, to know in advance what speech is permitted and what speech is criminal. So how could such prosecutions pass the due process test? By appointing an official who, like the Chief Censor in New Zealand, would be charged with determining, _before_ a mere expression of some idea is officially made a criminal offense, which ideas are permitted and which are criminal.

The history of censorship in New Zealand, which has an Anglo-Saxon legal system not very different from ours, suggests that this is exactly what will happen. It is not proof, but it is, in the light of available evidence, the most likely outcome if two more Christianist justices are appointed to the US Supreme Court.



Comment #167

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 14:48:28 mst
Name: John Sabotta
URL: http://www.no-treason.com

My friend S. observed, after reading this stuff:

"A conservative can be an atheist; but a conservative who sets himself up to be God's Enemy will inevitably drift towards the left."

Thus the new Objectivist/Communist Popular Front Against The Republicans



Comment #168

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 15:02:51 mst
Name: John Sabotta
URL: http://www.no-treason.com

And why not take a closer look at your new allies?

From one of the Daily Kos "Diaries"

"It's become more and more apparent to me over the past five years that all the activism and non-violent protesting in the world will do precisely squat. When you're dealing with evil people who have no shame, the old rules of the game don't and, indeed, can't apply if you have any hope for success. Hundreds of thousands of people have marched, millions of letters have been written, tens of millions of votes cast, and hundreds of trillions of electrons expended pontificating on blogs...for nothing. Nothing has changed. Nothing will change. Not unless it comes in the form of something akin to the French Revolution.

We need terror. We need horror. We need the streets running awash in rivers of blood of these thugs and criminals and zealots. "
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/30/185111/099



Comment #169

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 15:32:02 mst
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

John Sabotta writes, "And why not take a closer look at your new allies?"

So. Religious apocalyptics have their pseudo-secular imitators. Religion-envy. And that's an argument?



Comment #170

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 16:14:06 mst
Name: Jason Roth
URL: http://savethehumans.com

The choice is horrible, but there is no evidence that Democrats will take the necessary action to defend us. There is some evidence that Republicans will. Democrats will retreat. As Robert Tracinski wrote, Republicans may not know how to win the war (and this may be a fatal error), but at least they agree in principle to fight a war.

I see less of a possibility of our short-term survival with the Democrats in power. Republicans in power, on the other hand, does not preclude our long-term survival. I disagree that a Christian, religious theocracy in the United States is more of an immediate threat than the greater threat which would exist with a complete Democratic surrender.

Ironically, I find the endorsement of the Democrats for the purpose of defending against a Republican-religious onslaught to be more likely the error of detaching philosophy from its this-worldly purpose. We must exist in the short-term if we are to possess a long-term. But I use the word "likely" because I do not want to psychologize.

I would love to vote Republicans out of office. But then I think of the sight of two towers collapsing, and how the Democrats have no ideas, no plan, and no *anger* about this. The only issue for me is: do I vote Republican, or does it not matter?



Comment #171

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 16:22:02 mst
Name: John Stark
URL: http://starkrelief.blogspot.com

Jason says: "As Robert Tracinski wrote, Republicans may not know how to win the war (and this may be a fatal error), but at least they agree in principle to fight a war."

The Islamists agree in principle to fight a war, too. I assume you meant, "at least they agree in principle to fight a war [against Islamic Fascists]." No, the Republican administration does not.



Comment #172

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 1:28:08 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Here's another group backing the Democrats.

<http://tinyurl.com/y6r67y>



Comment #173

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 10:22:10 mst
Name: Paul Hsieh
URL: http://www.geekpress.com

Betsy Speicher pointed out that some Islamic terrorists also support voting for the Democrats. Of course, those bad guys dislike the Republicans for very different reasons from Objectivists.

One analogy would be to the Vietnam era, when Ayn Rand wrote her essays opposing the Vietnam War. Some commentator could have easily pointed to an article on the American Socialist Party, saying "Here's another group opposed to the US involvement in Vietnam". But of course, Rand and the Socialists would have had entirely different reasons for their respective views, just as Islamic terrorists and Objectivists would have today.

(I'm sure this is quite apparent to most if not all readers; I merely wanted to go on record with this point.)



Comment #174

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 10:25:50 mst
Name: Paul Hsieh
URL: http://www.geekpress.com

Please substitute "many Objectivists" for "Objectivists" in my most recent comment.



Comment #175

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 11:35:42 mst
Name: Ed

Back in comment #10, Amy Peikoff points to the leader of the New Life church as an example of the type of religious Republican trying to influence politics from inside. In an odd coincidence, it looks like he's finished as a politician.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20061103/D8L5IM680.html

I find it hard to fear these folks when they are as dumb and incompetent as this... and this is not some flunky, this is one of their leaders.



Comment #176

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 11:42:32 mst
Name: Paul Hsieh
URL: http://www.geekpress.com

Ed wrote: "In an odd coincidence, it looks like he's finished as a politician."

But he's got a great future as a gay activist!



Comment #177

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 13:18:56 mst
Name: Orson Olson

To indict the Right with the smear of theocracy, there is far too little consideration of the evidence.

Peikoff says:"If you hate the Left so much that you feel more comfortable with the Right, you are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner." Cassandra's are in full ebb here.

Yet the Right struggles to even preserve a shred of public acknowledgement of Christmas! "The reason for the season." Piekoff's claim is thus unproved, and much argues against it - such as how the central Christian religious holiday continues to be ever marginalized. Some "theocracy.!"



Comment #178

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 13:35:31 mst
Name: Jeff Perren

Orson,

I'd like to find some data relating to your statement about church attendance being down since the 1950s. (Preferably some that shows many data points, one for every few years or better.) Hopefully, it will have fairly recent figures, as well.

Can you point me to some?

Jeff



Comment #179

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 18:21:07 mst
Name: Glenn Martin

Sorry,

I should have posted my last post to the Why I am Voting for the Democrats thread.

(The Jesus Factor - PBS Special on Bush & the Evangelicals)



Comment #180

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 19:12:29 mst
Name: Vespasiano

Jeff:

Here are a few starting points for statistical data and analyses with respect to Church attendance in the United States. There are many more free sites with information. However, those included in this very small sampling reflect actual attendance data, as opposed to polling information which cannot be verified for accuracy.

Happy hunting!

Basic Attendance analysis 1970-2004

http://www.umich.edu/~nes/nesguide/toptable/tab1b_5b.htm

Statistical analyses: 1890-2000 (click on the "Codebook" tab above the summary page)

http://www.thearda.com/Archive/ChState.asp

2006 Article re Attendance Estimate anomaly

http://www.allgodspeople.com/madison/content/view/28078/16/

Selective Info: United Methodist Church





Comment #181

Friday, November 3, 2006 at 21:11:52 mst
Name: Glenn Martin

IRS goes after preacher who preaches a political sermon against Bush on the Iraq War just before 2004 election.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jesus/view/1_hi.html



Comment #182

Saturday, November 4, 2006 at 10:30:59 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

Ed says:

"Back in comment #10, Amy Peikoff points to the leader of the New Life church as an example of the type of religious Republican trying to influence politics from inside. In an odd coincidence, it looks like he's finished as a politician.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20061103/D8L5IM680.html

I find it hard to fear these folks when they are as dumb and incompetent as this... and this is not some flunky, this is one of their leaders."

Please. This will be a short-term setback for evangelicals. There's more where Haggard came from. Don't you remember the scandals surrounding Jim Bakker (People That Love - PTL) and Jimmy Swaggart?? Did that stop the evangelical movement from growing? No. The followers forgot and dismissed all of it. They will do the same this time. Give them a few months and they'll be back in business.



Comment #183

Saturday, November 4, 2006 at 11:25:52 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

My personal opinion is that actual church attendance is not a very good indicator of religious fervor. When I was a student in a Christian college, I attended chapel at school 2-3 times per week but actual church services only once per month. I was still a firm believer.

http://www.thearda.com/Archive/ChState.asp

There are lots of interesting statistics on this site, the Association of Religion Data Archives. Here are some tidbits. All of them are percentages of US population, not churchgoers, unless otherwise stated.

15% believe evolution is definitely true. 40% believe it is definitely not true. (Remember that evolution is a unifying theory in biology that has been around since the late 1800s.)

57% believe a woman should NOT be able to obtain an abortion for whatever reason she wishes. 23% do not believe a woman should be able to receive an abortion even if the fetus is the product of a rape. 14% do not believe a woman should be able to receive an abortion even if it necessary to save her own life.

56% believe that homosexual sex is wrong. 35% believe that premarital sex is wrong.

53% have an unfavorable opinion, and 35% have a favorable, opinion of atheists. (Muslims, BTW are viewed more favorably than atheists amongst the general US population.)

57% have a favorable opinion of, and 17% have an unfavorable opinion of, evangelicals.

17% of the population reads a religious text several times per week. 12% read a religious text weekly. 6% read 2-3 times per month. All told, 35% are reading religious texts bimonthly or more.

Of all Protestant denominations: people with Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran affiliations have declined, Attendance at Methodist churches have declined most considerably. Of people who claim to be Protestant, meanwhile, there has been a large spike in non-denominational growth, up from 5% in 1972 to 18% in 2004.



Comment #184

Sunday, November 5, 2006 at 2:54:39 mst
Name: BrianS

I can't tell if Jim (post #145) is disagreeing with my post (#142) or simply providing additional material. Either way though, it misses the important point. As I said in my post, I have to disagree with Dr. Peikoff's premise - his essential argument - that America is basically facing only one "fundamental philosophy." In other words, I disagree with his assertion that:

"... the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor."

Against this claim, I stated:

"America faces the political evil of - not one but TWO - non-rational philosophies. Besides facing the political Party which is 'home and sponsor' of mysticism, we are also facing the political Party which is 'home and sponsor' of skepticism."

Jim responded by pointing out that both non-rational philosophies proceed from the same epistemological root - ie "that reason cannot grasp "real" reality". Of course this is true. Both philosophies have the Primacy of Consciousness at their root. They are simply different sides of the same coin. Of course, with our respective statements, neither I nor Dr. Peikoff dispute this fact. What is in dispute is the number of fundamental philosophies currently facing America. That is the issue I addressed.

In other words, I addressed the idea that America is facing only one dangerous fundamental philosophy. I addressed the idea that skepticism is properly dismissed as a danger facing America. Responding with the statement: "Left fist, Right fist, same mugger" leaves that dismissal intact. It fails to address the idea that skepticism/nihilism is essentially a faded fad. It fails to address the idea that America is essentially only facing mysticism now. In other words, it fails to address the idea that the "Left fist" supposedly has little or no more punch to it anymore and thus we only need to worry about the "Right fist". The truth is that we need to worry about *both* fists, not just one.

That is why I stated it is an error to believe America faces only one "real" threat now. Considering the threats on the level of "fundamental philosophy" (as Dr. Peikoff rightly claims we should) it is imperative we recognize the fact we are locked in philosophic combat against the Primacy of Consciousness on - not one but two - fronts: mysticism *and* skepticism.

Acting as if one of these fronts essentially doesn't exist only invites disaster.



Comment #185

Sunday, November 5, 2006 at 11:56:04 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

BrianS,

What I understand Peikoff to be saying is not that both fronts - mysticism and skepticism - do not exist, but that mysticism is stronger. The Christian mystics of today firmly believe they have the truth. The nihilists of the left do not. AS nihilists gain power, the religionists will do everything they can to fight back even more strongly. His arguments make perfect sense to me.



Comment #186

Sunday, November 5, 2006 at 14:24:02 mst
Name: BrianS

Monica,

Dr. Peikoff has essentially written off skepticism as a philosophic threat to America. He states:

"What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor."

By stating the "ONLY real threat" we face is the mystic front, he treats the skeptic front as essentially non-existent. My whole point in my original post and my follow up, was to indicate that skepticism is not an impotent passing fad. Just like mysticism, it has been "a destroyer of man" throughout western history. It is not fading at all. In fact, as I indicated, mysticism and skepticism are both becoming stronger and more consistent, as evidenced in this context by the preaching and practices of the political party which is home to each. Just as the religious wing of the Party of the Right is growing in voice and political strength, so too the nihilist wing of the Party of the Left is growing in voice and political strength.

Put simply, far from being so weak as to be considered a non-threat, the Comprachicos of the Left are as strong as ever and becoming even stronger politically and more strident in their nihilistic ways - just as the Religious of the Right are becoming stronger politically and more strident in their mystical ways.

--

On top of the above, you make a claim which would seem to stand against Dr. Peikoff's goals. You state: "AS nihilists gain power, the religionists will do everything they can to fight back even more strongly." In other words, as a response to the increasing strength of the nihilists, there will be an increase in the strength of the religionists. I agree. This pattern you identify has held true both in recent political history, and throughout philosophic history (as Dr. Peikoff himself notes in his History of Philosophy lectures). But, if the goal is to prevent a theocracy from developing in America - ie if the goal is to diminish rather than increase the strength of religion in the Party of the Right - how exactly does increasing the strength of nihilism (while at the same time diminishing the strength of the 'better' - ie less faith driven - rightists) accomplish this? Does this not only serve to strengthen *both* our enemies, the skeptics and the mystics? Does that not only serve to make them more strident and more consistent - as we have been witnessing? And is not a more philosophically consistent enemy a stronger enemy - ie an enemy harder to fight?

Why would we seek to make both our enemies stronger in such a way when we can weaken both by voting for the 'better' individuals within each, thus diminishing the power of the more consistent skeptics and the more consistent mystics within each group? In other words, why help both enemies when we can hurt both enemies instead?

As I see it, voting *indiscriminately* for either skeptics or mystics is a recipe for disaster - politically and philosophically.



Comment #187

Sunday, November 5, 2006 at 17:15:07 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

BrianS wrote:

My whole point in my original post and my follow up, was to indicate that skepticism is not an impotent passing fad. Just like mysticism, it has been "a destroyer of man" throughout western history.
[...]
Put simply, far from being so weak as to be considered a non-threat, the Comprachicos of the Left are as strong as ever and becoming even stronger politically and more strident in their nihilistic ways - just as the Religious of the Right are becoming stronger politically and more strident in their mystical ways.

====

In support of BrianS, I offer the following observations from someone who, I assume, is familiar with Objectivism and teaches philosophy at a military academy. He explains why the non-religious cadets are more "brain-damaged" than the religious ones.

<http://groups.google.com/group/humanities.philosophy.objectivism/msg/5d942130bf3c2e9f>



Comment #188

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 12:28:50 mst
Name: Monica Hughes

BrianS: "In other words, as a response to the increasing strength of the nihilists, there will be an increase in the strength of the religionists. I agree."

Yes, I would agree with that. Only their war will be cultural, not political. That is certainly a problem, and must still be fought.

I think a far better solution that simply voting would be to write each candidate a letter explaining why s/he was not voted for.

As for Betsy's last post, I agree that the left is brain-damaged. Many religious people share similar values to Objectivists, on the surface. When I was first introduced to Objectivism, the superficial appearances were a bit unsettling to me. I've spent a good deal of my life in academia (over ten years) and close to twenty in the Christian community. I feel I have a pretty good handle on the dangers of both the left and the right. I don't want to form an alliance with people who actually do have values, but whose underlying philosophy is *ultimately* more dangerous than their beliefs would indicate.



Comment #189

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 19:30:56 mst
Name: BrianS

Monica,

You say you agree that, as the strength of the nihilists increases, there will be an increase in the strength of the religionists. Yet you say this will only be a conflict in cultural, not political. I have to disagree strongly. Are you suggesting that the increase in the nihilists entering and influencing politics and elections and the increase in theocrats entering and influencing politics and elections is not going to continue to rise as their strength and their numbers rise culturally? If so, I would like to know what facts you base that claim on. If not, then voting for the nihilists only serves to continue and escalate the cycle between them.

In other words, voting indiscriminately serves only to strengthen both our enemies politically. It does not serve to reduce the political power or influence of the theocrats at all - certainly not in the longer run (which is what we are supposedly worried about here - stopping religionists now so it wont be harder to do so in the future).

If one wants to short-circuit this strengthening of both enemies, the solution is to vote for the more rational, less skeptic or religion driven individuals and policies in each party. That takes power and influence away from both the nihilists and the theocrats - from both our enemies. And it does so while strengthening those who are the more rational in each party.

So go ahead and write to the theocrats and the nihilsts and tell them why you didn't vote for them. But also write the more rational individuals and tell them specifically why you did vote for them.

In other words, don't punish yourself - and the more rational politicians - by voting indiscriminately.

Treating widely varying politicians as interchangeable is neither just nor productive. Rewarding the bad and punishing the good in men is neither just nor productive.

Give -everyone- (including yourself) their *just* desserts.



Comment #190

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 20:07:07 mst
Name: John Dailey

~ Conceivably, Peikoff is concerned about those already-and-yet-to-be put into power BY present religious Republican decision-makers(Congress, Senate, Cabinet, wherever) who'll circumvent anti-'faith-based' initiatives pushed by others. I'd say that, contrary to many non-worriers so far, the solidly established power base of the pro-religious lawmakers around nowadays, this is NOW definitely something to worry about...possibly more than the liberals' eternal agendas. Next election time might be too late to worry.

~ Germany found that out...too late.

LLAP
J:D



Comment #191

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 21:06:13 mst
Name: Burgess Laughlin
URL: http://www.aristotleadventure.com

John Dailey, comment 190, says: "Next election time might be too late to worry.

~ Germany found that out...too late."

I am unsure what you are saying. Are you suggesting that the political situation in the U. S. is essentially the same as in the last year of the Weimar Republic? That is, after the election of 1932, the move to totalitarianism was *irreversible* -- given the nature of the whole culture and given that the elected Nazis were explicitly totalitarians.

If that is what you are suggesting, what are your reasons?



Comment #192

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 20:24:29 mdt
Name: JB

I hope everyone who voted for the Dems the past two cycles is enjoying their just desserts! Unfettered, unbridled socialistic fascism is the goal of every Objectivist!



Comment #193

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:02:57 mdt
Name: Paul Hsieh
URL: http://www.geekpress.com

Jawaid: Just to be clear, I voted Dem in 2006 but not because I thought they were good but because I thought they would be the lesser of two evils for the reasons Dr. Peikoff has explained. I still believe his reasons to be true.

If McCain were President right now (as opposed to Obama), I seriously doubt things would be any better. We'd still be sliding towards socialism, except he'd try to sugarcoat it with patriotic-sounding pro-American rhetoric, while urging ever-greater sacrifices for the common good.

Yes things are looking bleak right now, but I knew that would the case back in 2006 and 2008.

(Also I didn't vote for either Obama or McCain in 2008 for the reasons given by Craig Biddle, which I also believed and still believe are correct.)