North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Presenting Objectivism/Capitalism to Others

Presenting Objectivism/Capitalism to Others

David
user 2856143
Dallas, TX
Post #: 4
Hi, all. I know that I am new to this board and maybe I shouldn't be starting a discussion so soon, but one of my primary purposes for wanting to meet other Objectivists is to develop some strategies for talking to others about the ideas of Objectivism and, particularly, Capitalism. I emphasize Capitalism because I am much more concerned about ensuring that there is a political system in place that protects the Rights of the Individual than I am about attempting to change someone's metaphysical or epistomological beliefs.

I have found that ethics is often the tipping point when talking to religious people. When it comes down to core beliefs, many religious people initially have difficulty agreeing that man should even be completely free since many religions have references to slavery as noble service and benevolent kings taking property from others. The basic idea of "submission to god," which is the primary driver of many religions, can easily install ideas of the righteousness of involuntary servitude. But if you can get past that and get them tp think about the real world, they can usually agree that it is wrong for a man to say that he owns the products of another man's labor (i.e income taxes) and that one should be able to do what one want with his own property and live life without fear of physical attack or those that would use fraud to achieve their goals.

Socialists require something else entirely (I say socialists because they are really the only statists left that are taken seriously). They are much tougher nuts to crack because they usually so sold on the idea of man as simply a cog in a wheel, a means to an end as opposed to an end unto himself. I often find myself at a loss with them. Any time I get into a debate with a socialist (aka Democrat), they usually wind up blanking out and then attacking me ad hominum...at which point the conversation is over, of course.

The thing is, I am a Californian and I want to find strategies for dealing with these people and changing their minds. You might think this sounds crazy (which is OK, as I said, I AM a Californian :-) but I really want to try to find a way to influence "my people" to accept and embrace Capitalism on a large scale. I think that I just need to find the right keys. Any help will be appreciated.

David
A former member
Post #: 22
I am much more concerned about ensuring that there is a political system in place that protects the Rights of the Individual than I am about attempting to change someone's metaphysical or epistomological beliefs.

Hi David,

You are most welcome to the board and to start discussing anytime.

Unfortunately, I am afraid I do not have a very helpful advice. I think that the folks you describe do not really want to change their mind. They would rather change yours.

Religious people, I would indeed expect to reject AR’s
metaphysical and epistemological beliefs. This is exactly why some of them would find slavery appealing. If AR knew how to convert them to Capitalism without dealing first with metaphysical and epistemological beliefs, she would have told us how to do it.

As for socialists, they think of Capitalist ideas as something that is meant to make you feel good and oppress everybody else. They would rather tear you down than be converted to Capitalism.

Your best bet is to discuss the truth with people who are interested in the truth, not in winning arguments. They would present you with questions, and seek clarifications, and ask follow-up questions, and always try to understand, not debate. There are not many occasions for this, unfortunately.

Bottom line, these few good people would be eager to read AR, and her writings will do all the hard work for you.

I do agree, however, that it is ethics, not epistemology/metaphysics that is the central subject to discuss with people who are interested in philosophy. It is through ethics that you can explain why the other two subjects are crucial as well.

I wish I could be more positive,

Gad
David
user 2856143
Dallas, TX
Post #: 6
I am much more concerned about ensuring that there is a political system in place that protects the Rights of the Individual than I am about attempting to change someone's metaphysical or epistomological beliefs.

Your best bet is to discuss the truth with people who are interested in the truth, not in winning arguments. They would present you with questions, and seek clarifications, and ask follow-up questions and always try to understand, not debate. There are not many occasions for this, unfortunately.

Hey, Gad...thanks for your reply.

What I would say is that MOST people ARE looking for the truth, they just have to be presented with it! It does not take much of a stretch of one's imagination to understand that the debate has been controlled by a centralized, leftist dominated media for, particularly, the last 100 years. That is really starting to change, thanks to, you guessed it, the Internet. When people begin to question, they have answers available now. Google "Capitalism." There are some great resources.

As to what you said about if there was a way to convert people that are not actively searching for truth, then AR would have told us. Well, she did, in my opinion. I can't give you a hard reference right now. I believe that I read it in OPAR (and I will confirm it), but one of the things that Ms. Rand said just before she died is, "As long as there is free speech, there is hope." This was right around 1980 when the validity of free speech was very much in question (witness "equal time" media laws that have only recently been abolished).

I think that, in her frame of reference, there really was not much of a way to combat the socialist-loving media, so there was some negativity about being able to convince large percentages of the population...at least not without some massive social upheavel as she imagined in Atlas Shrugged. But what if that massive social upheaval is already happening in the form of information...in the form of the freest form of speech that has ever been created.

I have seen some people "converted" that I never thought would possibly see the light of day. My step-dad is a good example. He was a life-long democrat and a technophobe. It was about 2002 that I finally convinced he and my mother to get on the internet. Took him about a year to change his registration to Republican after reading Matt Drudge and Fox News for a while. He voted for George Bush in 2004 which is doubly as amazing since Bob is from Oklahoma :-)

Anwyay, my point is, things have changed. There IS hope and I intend to press our advantage.

David
A former member
Post #: 18
David said: I emphasize Capitalism because I am much more concerned about ensuring that there is a political system in place that protects the Rights of the Individual than I am about attempting to change someone's metaphysical or epistemological beliefs.

A lot of people seem to want to take this approach, especially those relatively new to Objectivism. There is the old saying, "You can't have your cake and eat it too," which is somewhat applicable, but what is more applicable is the idea that you can't eat cake if no one has baked it. The batter needs to be mixed and then it needs to be put in the oven for a while before one can enjoy the desert. However, there aren't many people going around demanding cake without the necessity of anyone baking it. There may be some, but these people definitely have a problem with both metaphysics (the cake has a nature) and epistemology (by logic, there is no cake unless someone bakes it).

Similarly, one can't expect individual rights to be upheld in a half-baked system, where both metaphysics and epistemology are ingredients to be left out of the intellectual mix. That would be like telling someone I want cake, but no one should mix the batter, nor bake it -- just give me the cake!

Since you are in the stock market, would you buy stock in a company that wants to distribute and sell cakes, while at the same time claiming that they will get it somehow, and that they don't need ovens or delivery trucks? I don't think you would, because you realize that recipes, chefs, ovens, packers, delivery vehicles, and a market place are necessary for there to be a business based on selling cakes.

If one of those CEO's came up to you and said: "OK, we have these great recipes, and guaranteed sales, because we had a test market for our product and they sold like hot-cakes. The recipe calls for butter, but we are going to use motor oil, because it's cheaper and faster. And instead of flour we are going to use sand, because we have a back yard full of the stuff already. And since electricity isn't hooked up to our facilities yet, we are just going to let it sit outside overnight in a big barrel and let the gremlins add the final ingredients. Oh, and we just found out that gasoline is three times higher than it was when we ran our cost estimates, so we are not going to use trucks, we are going to let the tooth fairy delivery each batch of cakes. Our customers will merely have to wish for our cakes, with a little note placed under their pillows, and by morning they can have our delicious coffee cakes to have for breakfast."

I mean, what would you say to him?

Would you say: "OK, if you fight for individual rights and vote for the right people, we can get you three million dollars in seed money?"

I don't think so.

Individual rights can only be defended based on man's life as the standard, which means metaphysics; and the only logical bases for individual rights can be found in rationality, which means epistemology.

Without that underpinning, you are wanting cakes made of motor oil and sand to come out tasting as good as your morning breakfast coffee cake.

http://www.appliedphi...­
David
user 2856143
Dallas, TX
Post #: 9
David said: I emphasize Capitalism because I am much more concerned about ensuring that there is a political system in place that protects the Rights of the Individual than I am about attempting to change someone's metaphysical or epistemological beliefs.

A lot of people seem to want to take this approach, especially those relatively new to Objectivism. There is the old saying, "You can't have your cake and eat it too," which is somewhat applicable, but what is more applicable is the idea that you can't eat cake if no one has baked it.

I disagree. I know people that are radical Christians that hold Capitalist ideals. I know people that are Wikkans and hold Capitalist ideals. I actually know people who IDEALIZE socialism but vote Republican because they know that in REALITY it is the better choice.

Consider Esthetics. Someone does not have to be a rational egoist to appreciate a well-rendered Romantic painting, just as you do not have to be a Christian to appreciate the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Remember also that the Founding Fathers of this country were not athiests. They held a hodge-podge of mystical philosophies but still managed to draft the Constitution.

Of course we should continue to talk about the benefits of Rational Egoism and Reason...but if you start saying that one is required to hold those ideals in order to be a Capitalist, you are actually getting close to violating a central tenant of the system; protection of Individual Rights regardless of your beliefs, your social status, your ability to think clearly or anything else.
A former member
Post #: 31
Objectivism is the philosophy dedicated to justifying Capitalism and Capitalism is the political system that stems from Objectivism.

To truly advocate one, you have to adhere to the other. They are codependent. If you can't recognize individual rights, then you aren't really capitalist...you are what socialists accuse capitalists of being.

If you aren't capitalist, you can't uphold individual rights.
David
user 2856143
Dallas, TX
Post #: 10
Objectivism is the philosophy dedicated to justifying Capitalism and Capitalism is the political system that stems from Objectivism.

To truly advocate one, you have to adhere to the other. They are codependent. If you can't recognize individual rights, then you aren't really capitalist...you are what socialists accuse capitalists of being.

If you aren't capitalist, you can't uphold individual rights.

Capitalism existed before Objectivism. In fact, I would say that American Capitalism is what initially inspired Ms. Rand to define Objectivism.

In the preface to "We the Living" (my favorite AR book), Peikoff notes that the novel was written when she "Knew that something was wrong, but could not put her finger on it." It was based upon her experiences during and after the Bolshevick Revolution, a distinctly political event. When she came to the United States and saw Capitalism at work (although deteriorating), this is what inspired her to formulate her philosophy.
A former member
Post #: 32
Objectivism exists independently of Rand. She just put words and symbols to the system of living. There were generations of people practicing her principles in one form or another during every great artistic, political, and industrial movement in history.

Nevertheless, to actually be a Capitalist, you have to adhere to the ideals that Rand put into words.
David
user 2856143
Dallas, TX
Post #: 11
Objectivism exists independently of Rand. She just put words and symbols to the system of living. There were generations of people practicing her principles in one form or another during every great artistic, political, and industrial movement in history.

Nevertheless, to actually be a Capitalist, you have to adhere to the ideals that Rand put into words.

Not to be pedantic, but Ayn Rand created Objectivism. All of the components for steel can exist independent of being steel (iron ore, coke, flux, molten iron, scrap steel and alloying materials) but they are not steel until they are correctly combined. Similarly, the components of Objectivism existed and were being practiced but not until Ms. Rand pulled them together into a single, cohesive philosophy, were they actually Objectivism.

Its a question of causality. One of my chief assertions is that politics is a unifying component of philosophy. If discovery of Capitalism can inspire the creator of Objectivism (which I am sure was the case to some extent...and I am fairly sure it was to a very large extent), don't you think that educating people about Capitalism can achieve the same result, perhaps to a lesser extent, but enough that more and more people begin thinking more and more rationally??

Of course, that would be a secondary result of my selfish desire to see my Rights protected. That is, I care less about someone choosing to spend their life living in the haze of mystically influenced metaphysics than I am about inspiring them to vote to protect the Rights of the Individual, including their own rights to believe whatever clap-trap they want to believe.

I would also like to point out that working to inspire people to support Capitalism is a moral requirement of Objectivists. This is because self-defense is a moral requirement. That is, in case you haven't noticed, statism is the norm in most places in the world...and is becoming the norm here in the United States. Note that if there is ever an event similar to the Bolshevick Revolution here in the United States, y'all would be one of the first shipped off to reeducation camps. Yeah, I am concerned about it. Here in Texas, you guys are still fairly insulated. Get out to the coast some time. I have been told to my face by avowed Communists that when their revolution comes, they are going to, personally, "deal with me." These are friends of friends.

Even if there is not a total shift to communism or something akin, your rights are still being eroded. Note the very recent Supreme Courts vote to uphold land-seizure by municipalities just so that they can increase their tax base. Its sick...and the only one's who made any protest about it were Capitalists or Libertarians. Everyone else just took it like they were comatose.
Tom
TAA1
McKinney, TX
Post #: 13
David,

I totally understand your impatience. However, putting politics before metaphysics and epistemology is akin to putting the cart ahead of the horse.

The Libertarian Party is a perfect example of this problem. They state that they believe in a Capitalistic free society--but they offer no philosophical defense for this belief. They start and end with politics--which in reality is nothing more than an appeal to authority.


Tom
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