North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Politburo Diktat #1

Politburo Diktat #1

Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 21
(A politburo is just a short version of saying political beuro, typically the governing body of the communist party but here used as its opposite; a diktat is an order from the aforementioned that must be obeyed by party loyal. But must assumes an answer to the question in order to...? I hope that, by the time you finish reading this short essay, you understand both that you must and more importantly why you must follow the the advice therein.)

The world is not as it should be.

Men, who should be free of the threat of coercion, are forced to deal every day with men made possible only by the legalization of that mode of dealing with others. They lose out on countless hours of their lives, spent working for the livelihood for people who have not earned it, lost in customers who cannot afford, any longer, to buy their products, and in associates they lose out on, who follow today's cult of nowism.

Many yearn, knowing that such is their responsibility, to take positive action towards a positive resolution of such a terrible problem. They are confronted with a seemingly contradictory schools of thought, the choice between which seems to be a distasteful one of choosing the lesser of two evils. It is rooted in a terribly unnecessary (and foolish) false dichotomy - the separation of philosophy and politics.

One side, lead by the Libertarians and the "practical" Objectivists, claims that philosophy is not necessary or even wholly beneficial in the realm of politics. Rather, they say, we must take pro-capitalism positions, and open our doors to any who agree with them - without any prejudice against any reason why they believe in them, from the most stringent Objectivist to the most irrational Christian Anarchist.

The failure of the movement has been, up to this point, near-absolute. The problem they have come up against, again and again, is that the proper politics cannot be spread to individuals who do not, on some level, agree with you or are open to agree with you. Many people can be persuaded because they are factually incorrect about either socialism or capitalism (an example would be a man who thought, honestly, that a mixed economy is "more efficient." Once shown his errors, he changes his views.) However, were that the actual problem at large - the ignorance of the people for the efficiency of Capitalism - there would not, currently, be a problem. The problem, unfortunately for aspiring libertarians, lies in the field of morality. And that is one of the fields that Libertarianism has claimed strict neutrality towards - due to its strict neutrality towards philosophy.

The problem for Objectivists within the Libertarian movement, then, becomes one of hypocrisy. By participating in the movement, they have declared to any astute observer that the mind is not necessary to politics - he has declared that by associating himself, and giving endorsement to, a movement which claims it can make political gains without philosophy. How, then, can an Objectivist honestly tell a man that philosophy is the most important thing, in every aspect of his life, when he himself is acting as if it is not?

Turning away from that option, Objectivists are then confronted with a separate school of thought. Forget the politics, they say, and concentrate on spreading Objectivism to everyone you can. They said this, ignoring that politics is most definitely part of Objectivism. They assured men that theirs was a bleak existence, with no point in even attempting to exact radical change for the better politically, until a political movement spontaneously erupted once "enough" people were Objectivists. How many was "enough"? Always too many to hope for, for a long time.

Here, the Objectivist was faced with suppression. Just as men who grasp that reason is the key to survival and prosperity exercise it at every opportunity, just as the rationally selfish man relies on his own judgment of what is best, so too the Objectivist yearns to be politically active - to manifest, in the form of his proud public support, his principles regarding man's proper place within a rational society. And, just as, when forced by laws or guns, a man suffers emotionally when forced to suppress his rationality or his judgment in favor of a gun, so too does man suffer when, knowing that his responsibility to himself, and his integrity to his morality demand that he not sit idly by while the cult of Nowism but stand proudly for his principles, is told that the best way to serve those principles is to keep quiet in the realm of politics, and stick to the realm of "ideas" - of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

The crucial mistake of both parties is the separation of the mind from politics. Both hold that the mind has no place in politics; one, then, says "Damn the mind, we must have a proper political system!", while the other intones "Damn politics, we must convince men of our ideas." One forgets that without ideas, without philosophy, politics becomes empty grandstanding and posturing, with no hope for change from the status quo. The other forgets that any act of transferring a philosophical idea to another man is a form of political activism - and that to bar men from politics is to attempt to bar them from the most effective means of spreading ideas to laymen - namely, to go from the concrete issues which concern every responsible individual, to the abstract principles which will lead him to live a proper life and to support the right men.

Radical change is possible, but it is not to be done with mindless intonations to the effect that "capitalism is good," nor is it to be done in the drawing rooms of close friends who add a new member to their group once a month. It is to be done in the realm of ideas, in the realm of issues, which are then brought to the realm of principles and philosophy.

(continued below)
Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 22
There has been, historically, one movement which has gotten this formula right. They were the culmination of centuries of awful ideas, bad philosophers and an organized attack on man the individual, but they did their job as well as could be expected. The name of that movement was Communism.

In the span of a human lifetime, Communism went from a theoretical system developed by a failure of a man from Germany to ruling over half of the world's population - and on the brink of toppling the last bastion of semi-freedom in the world. It collapsed, from its own internal contradictions, as any political system based on flawed philosophy must, but the way they got to that point shows how important it is, both to individual members and to people merely looking at the party, seeking to be convinced, existential referents to a philosophy are.

A man, we have already established, cannot exist long without expressing, in his own actions, his professed epistemology and ethics. It is through his actions that he existentially feels that he is right. Man, similarly, needs art, to show him that his metaphysics is also right. Political activism plays a similar role. It serves to unite individuals in purpose, and to give them the existential sensation that their politics is also the correct one to hold - so correct, in fact, that they're worth pursuing in their purest form.

Notice the Communists did not just, as the Libertarians are, mindlessly foisting political stances on people (at least not until after its intellectual collapse, after which it ceased being a major power.) They did not teach, in cloistered towers, the collectivist metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics - that had been done for a century and more before they came into existence, to little change. Rather, the Communists encouraged people to act out the entire collectivist philosophy - collective decision-making, for their epistemology, altruism, for its ethics, collective-glorifying art, for its aesthetics and metaphysics, and finally, communism, as its final, logical expression in man's social surroundings. They did not attempt to separate the two, but united them, as they must be, as part of a single way to deal with the world. Thus, altruism went from tired but accepted to overwhelming force - collectivism, from absurd political ideal only leftist academics encouraged to a political horror show starving over half of the globe, all in an incredibly short span of time.

This confirms the power of ideas, to mold the world into its own shape. But ideas do not implant themselves in people without the aid of human hands. And, though philosophers and theoretical discussions will forever remain indispensable, it is not solely through that, that a new order comes about. It is through the efforts of bringing the philosophy to people - through the actions of its embodiers, through the art they love, through the politics they advocate and follow. It is through these things, grasped within a few moments by even the most simple of men, that can communicate much of the painstaking thought, the devotion to reason and the joy to be found therein, to even the most casual passerby.

The proper course of action does not lie in attempting to join a camp, however large it is, in order to have a "broad appeal" to some strange "public." To start, by setting aside ones principles and saying "My principles are different (or even antithetical!) to yours - but we agree on this issue (of politics.) But ideas don't matter in politics, so we can both pursue the goal of a free country without any conflict," to to assure your own failure.

Neither is it to set aside the logical conclusion of your principles - the politics of them - in order to pursue some absurd plan of spreading Objectivism through some means that is nonpolitical, to wait for the unknown (and unknowable) day when there are enough Objectivists to make a political movement.

Rather, it is for Objectivists to pursue the spread of Objectivism throughout the country and the world, through the method that is most suited to easily concerning men - politics. Objectivists must promote politics as they should be promoted - as a part, often the introductory part, to a proper philosophy of life. Rather than separate politics and ideas, the two should be united, should be shown to be inseparable from each other - as, in fact, they are. In reality, rather than some neglected stepchild of philosophy, to be left for some distant future, politics is a vital entry point for young thinkers into the realm - and a vital part of a rational man's life.

A new organization, then, is in order. Neither wholly idealistic (in the sense that it is usually meant today) nor wholly political, but a mix of both. Its goal will be to advance pro-capitalism politics - through the spread of the proper philosophy throughout the population. The organization will be part classroom, part political party - and wholly dedicated to seeing its ideals embodied, in its members and eventually in the government that its members live under.

However, it can be observed that not all men are inclined, for whatever reason, to take the hard road that is required to become an out-and-out philosopher. Even in a completely free society, most men will have better things for their time than to think about the nature of A being A and only A, or other such philosophical considerations - but in a just society, they profit from the works of the minds of the philosophers and are egoists. This is the biggest manpower pool for the organization - men who wish to get on with their lives, but recognize that they need to have good ideas to guide them. Though not out-and-out Objectivists (never having educated themselves and disinclined to be educated on all its tenants, reasoning, etc,) they are invaluable as they hold most (if not all) of the same principles.
Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 23
The core, however, the cream of the crop, will be the new Objectivists. From the ranks of the egoists, who are taught, though the lens of today's politics, the proper principles by which to live, the best are asked if they wish to learn the entire philosophical system. Those that do, are educated in the entire philosophy of Objectivism, from top to bottom, and moreover they provide the most motivated, consistent individuals - as they must be. Since they will know the full implications, the disaster awaiting the country - and thus themselves - if it is to continue its present course, along with the responsibility that comes with knowing what is right, they will be the most tenacious, the most willing to give their time to the teaching of others, to the political acts that require a mind who honestly believes that its cause is just.

It is through these two types of individuals - the egoist, who learns the principles of Objectivism, but not the whole philosophy (as he does not wish to, and does not need to, having his more philosophically-minded brothers to concern themselves with matters academic, now that he has the tools to live a happy life,) and the core of the movement, the spread of the philosophy of Objectivism, which not only fuels the philosophy in a vacuum but also provides new teachers, to spread the principles to egoists, and eventually new instructors, to spread the philosophy to yet more eager young students, that the movement grows. Its concern, to the public, is the spread of its political ideas. How it goes about spreading them is through a regime of ideology and instruction.

A philosophy must be embodied as a whole by this organization - its posters and advertisements feature man-glorifying art, its leaders examples of all of the Objectivist virtues, its politics ruthlessly uncompromising in its final goal, never to sacrifice a principle for some temporary gain. This is, again, to give both its own members and laypeople the sense that this philosophy is right, so right that it exists right there, in front of you, as one continuous whole.

Where should the recruiting go on? The best place to recruit is those places where people are most open to ideas - the universities and college campuses throughout the nation. There, you have many young people who have come there to learn, to seek answers to their problems. They will, most often, be disappointed - but that seeker mentality is the one best suited to listen to an Objectivist speak of the evils of Iran and why principles, not hopeless compromises to its evil, are the only way to beat it and other countries like it out, in the end.

Lastly, how does one organize such an organization? It is not a democratic organization - it was set up with a specific purpose in mind, not open to a vote by members - and many of its members will not be fully integrated Objectivists, but fellow travelers who make do with the principles their philosophical brethren have been able to hammer out for them. As well, in any democratic setup, there is the problem of compound misunderstandings - one person misunderstands or misinterprets what another says, whose own misunderstandings (and questions, comments, etc.) lead to further misunderstandings, and so on, until what was originally a room of one person who did not quite get it and ten who did, turns into a room of eleven very confused individuals. Decision-making is painstakingly slow and often frought with error, and that dreaded enemy of all things principled, compromise. How do you avoid that?

The answer to both questions is the same. Rather than a mob-democracy, the party will be run by Objectivists, who volunteer for their positions of leadership and are accepted (or rejected) by the current leadership. This ensures that the party remains true to its original principles - as the only people allowed to make decisions are ones who fully agree with the principles involved anyway, rather than surrendering the party to the first rush of well-meaning individuals who half-get-it and want immediately to make changes for the better.

You say this is dictatorial, undemocratic? Yes, exactly. The party is not made to express the views of its members - it is made, to express certain principles, by which it attracts members. That should never be forgotten.

But, decision-speeding processes are still in order. The specific structure of the organization has to facilitate that, along with also allowing fresh ideas to come in.
First, the creator/leader of the party - the chairman - creates the executive committee, composed of himself and three Objectivists that he trusts. The leader of the party chairs the executive committee. Each member of the executive committee besides the chairman, in turn, chairs their own committees, each dedicated to broad affairs of interest to the party - education & indoctrination, ideological affairs, and revolutionary (political) activities, for example. Each of these committees consists of the chair and two other individuals, who are delegated certain powers to make and implement policy by the executive committee (which can be removed at any time, by either the chair or vote of the committee members,) and a jurisdiction. Whenever an individual in the committee makes a proposal, he must convince both of his fellow committee-members that the proposal is the best possible solution to the whatever problem he has identified - recall, these will be Objectivists, chosen specifically for their enthusiasm for the subject and their integrity & loyalty to reason. If he can convince both others that the proposal is sound, it is "bumped up" by the chair of the committee, to the executive committee - or, in the case of a sub-sub-(sub-etc)-committee, to the committee above it. The proposal is presented to the supercommittee by the chair of the subcommittee (who is also a member of the supercommittee.) The proposal is voted on, and bumped up, until such a time as it hits a committee with the power to implement the proposal.

This minimizes misunderstandings, while still allowing a great many people of excellent personal quality to go over and debate the merits of any one proposal. This allows the advantage of seeing fresh ideas - ideas from a great many thinking individuals - and also minimizing the amount of explaination that needs to happen, as compound misunderstanding is minimized with the small committee groups. In addition, people who are not interested in the subject matter are not forced to debate on the subject - a person who is a member on the committee for the study of philosophical problems, for example, will never have to vote on proposals from the committee on the education of new Objectivists.

This gives a general outline of the most optimal solution to the problems confronting the governing of the organization. From the idealistic to the practical, you now know the path best taken to make the world you know is possible a reality.

Make the most of it.
Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 24
That ends the actual essay that I wrote.

And so goes the culmination of months of thought on my part to the problem of "practical" politics vs spreading ideology. Namely, there is no problem!

As soon as I have some free time (likely this coming monday,) I am going to be researching exactly how hard it is to establish a political party in Texas. Since I have no claim to the name, obviously, the party can't be called "The Objectivist Party," and moreover it would be disingenuous - since the party is open to egoists as well as Objectivists. Thus, the party will be named after the political principle that it holds highest - The Freedom Party.

I hope I have convinced at least a few of you as to the necessity of this course. I can (and will) go on with or without you, but to start with loyal, understanding Objectivists would cut back on the strain of the start tremendously. This is why I have bothered to compose this essay at all - to address, specifically to Objectivists, because I think of all people you are the most likely to grasp that I am right without much effort, and are also the most valuable people to have around once the ball gets rolling.

I await your reply.
Dan
dbclawyer
Allen, TX
Post #: 7
"Turning away from that option, Objectivists are then confronted with a separate school of thought. Forget the politics, they say, and concentrate on spreading Objectivism to everyone you can. They said this, ignoring that politics is most definitely part of Objectivism. They assured men that theirs was a bleak existence, with no point in even attempting to exact radical change for the better politically, until a political movement spontaneously erupted once "enough" people were Objectivists. How many was "enough"? Always too many to hope for, for a long time."


Do you consider the Ayn Rand Institute to be an example of this separate school of thought? If not,
Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 27
"Turning away from that option, Objectivists are then confronted with a separate school of thought. Forget the politics, they say, and concentrate on spreading Objectivism to everyone you can. They said this, ignoring that politics is most definitely part of Objectivism. They assured men that theirs was a bleak existence, with no point in even attempting to exact radical change for the better politically, until a political movement spontaneously erupted once "enough" people were Objectivists. How many was "enough"? Always too many to hope for, for a long time."


Do you consider the Ayn Rand Institute to be an example of this separate school of thought? If not,

I do not have enough knowledge about the ARI's methods and principles to make a definitive conclusion on that subject - otherwise, I would have named it as an example of such a method.

However, I have noted that many Objectivists seem to think this way. They attempt to seperate Objectivism, the philosophy, from Capitalism, the political system. Its absurd - you cannot advocate the former without advocating the latter just as loudly.

I am disappointed, however, in the lack of real responses to my post here. Does no one agree or disagree at all? Come on, people.
A former member
Post #: 12
I am disappointed, however, in the lack of real responses to my post here. Does no one agree or disagree at all? Come on, people.


I've been in new york on business and just got to this. Trying my hardest to understand the parallels to the rise of communism and your thrust for an "Objectivist Bolshevik Revolution" (my words, not yours). Give me some time to "think on it" :-)
Dan
dbclawyer
Allen, TX
Post #: 8
Please tell me if I correctly sum up your position regarding the need for a political party.

The necessity of having a political party is two fold:

1. Objectivists must act to implement their ideals in the world and such implementation requires a political party; and

2. A political party, addressing the concerns of all men, is the best vehicle for reaching individuals who may be interested in learing--at a minimum--Objectivisim 101 and in working to bring in other people. Some of these people may be interested in learning the basics and bringing in others, some may want to become professional intellectuals or canadates for political office.

I do not mean for my attempt at summerizing your position to include the premises on which it rests or the results to which your plan would lead.
A former member
Post #: 245
Quite the opposite impression of the LP from what I've seen - while of course there are "pragmatists" in the party, some of which do indeed seem to be less interested in principle than power or position or some sense of accomplishment, there seem to be others who operate purely (or at least primarily) from principle. Be that as it may, there does seem to be an Objectivist Party but I don't know much about it; it may or may not be similar to what is described in this thread.

The political projects I've been working on seem to be based on principle and the chance that their approach may be more successful than the LP for example is secondary to principle in terms of just about every aspect of what we do, as far as I can tell. Of course I may be too close to these projects to be objective about them.

Interesting discussion.

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