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Re: [aynrand-8] A suggestion

From: Michael O.
Sent on: Thursday, August 16, 2012 6:35 PM

I might begin by noting that the very notion of a conflict “between libertarians and Objectivists” is flawed, as it seems to me that all Objectivists are necessarily libertarians, though not all libertarians are Objectivists. That is, anyone who believes in individual rights, free enterprise, and strictly limited government—and I assume that includes all Objectivists—is a libertarian. An Objectivist libertarian might well not belong to any particular party and might part company with some other libertarians on a wide range of philosophical and other issues, but at the level of political philosophy Objectivists are libertarians.

And that gets us the crux of our disagreement. Should all libertarians be Objectivists? Or, put another way, must libertarianism rest on the Objectivist philosophical system? I believe that libertarianism, as a political movement and a political philosophy, is a sort of coalition. Libertarianism is compatible with a wide variety of philosophical, ethical, and religious beliefs. It is clearly compatible with Objectivism. It is also compatible with most religious faiths, as many libertarian Jews, Catholics, evangelical Protestants, and Muslims can attest. And certainly there are libertarians who feel a primary moral commitment to the value of individual freedom itself.

None of this is to argue that there isn’t a best defense of capitalism and individual rights, or that one philosophical defense of individual rights isn’t ultimately true, or that Objectivism is not that truth. The argument here is simply that people of different moral values can agree on libertarianism as a political philosophy so long as they don’t want to impose their religious or moral values on others by force. I have argued that libertarianism should be a “second-best” political philosophy even for people who would like to impose their own moral philosophy on others. One could very well reason, “I would like to make religious fundamentalism [or secular humanism, or worker solidarity, or anti-clericalism] the law of the land, but I may not have the political power to do that. If so, I would rather live in a libertarian society than in a world where my cultural or moral adversaries can impose their values on me.”

--David Boaz

I share this article because I think it clarifies many of the conflations made by so-called (or wannabe) objectivists between their personal interpretation of Rand's writings--as if dogma--and the objectives of proclaimed Libertarians. I add that any similarities in mines or any other true individualists doctrines are the mere effect of a subjective view in pursuit of objectivity in an absolute universe--which I assume and pray we can all agree upon at least this much.

You can read the rest of the article on the official libertarian party website here:


Michael Olsen

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 15, 2012, at 12:47 PM, Marc Gerstein <[address removed]> wrote:

"Consider what value a sharp intellect has if used to harm and annoy as felt by many of us in observing this debate."

I agree wholeheartedly. But it is important to consider that there are some limitations in the on-line medium that make it easier for discussions to degenerate than is the case in a live setting.

One, is a willingness on the part of some to say things they wouldn't dare say in a face-to-face setting. This is may be natural. Imagine, for example, you are having a serious  conflict with someone at work, perhaps a boss. How often do you, in your imagination, really tell him or her off in a very harsh and aggressive way only to revert to normal business mannerism when face to face. When we speak or debate in an on-line setting, without seeing any people and looking only at our keyboards and screens, it's a lot easier to speak as one might in one's imagination, as opposed to using the face-to-face version.

Another is the disconnected nature of the statements. Person A says something, essentially, to a machine at one moment in time. Person B doesn't respond directly. Instead, he speaks to another machine at another point in time; perhaps a minute later, perhaps several hours or days later. Given this natural break in the communication circuit, it's very easy for debaters to talk past one another. Example: A asks a question. B responds. A insists the question wasn't addressed. B repeats the answer. A continues to insist the question wasn't answered. Etc., etc. etc. I've been on line a long time and seen countless ugly exchanges, ad I have to tell you that this pattern is probably present, to one degree or another in almost all of them and often it's the central issue. In face to face exchanges, its less of an issue where its more natural to communicate directly rather than to have to jump over a broken circuit. (An notable exception tends to be televised face-to-face pre-election debates which tend to feel very un-natural and unsatisfying to viewers.)

Finally, there are the non-participants. If people are arguing and debating in a real-life setting, they can see and possibly hear from the others who are present. This doesn't mean every constructive real-life debate becomes a free-for-all with everyone participating. It does, however, mean that everyone there contributes at least indirectly by reacting to what is being said, even if only through facial expression or body language. Don't underestimate how vital such things are in signaling participants in how effective or ineffective they are in making their points. In on-line settings, when the audience mainly watches passively, debaters are completely deprived of this extremely valuable feedback mechanism. This is not to say everyone in the audience must chime in. that won't happen, especially since few will want to expose themselves to be dragged into a hostile exchange as an active participant. But it is important that the audience understand that if they stay silent and leave the debaters deprived on this important feedback mechanism, there is a higher likelihood that more mud may be slung than if the feedback were present. In my recent exchange with David, I tried to react as best I could to the very limited feedback that came from other members; hence my reason for ceasing my participation. The sample was incredibly limited, but debaters can only work with what we get.

I agree that internet forums can be extremely valuable. Beyond that, however, they offer an incredible benefit over face-to-face (we don't all have to get ourselves to the same location at the same time). But like most things in life that benefit comes at a cost; i.e. the inherent disadvantage to which I referred above. Ultimately, we all have to make our own judgements re: the cost-benefit tradeoff.

From: Michael Rapoza <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, August 15,[masked]:14 AM
Subject: Re: [aynrand-8] A suggestion

Hello all,

Please don't scoff at me or tell me to "go watch Jerry Springer". I just wanted to share my thoughts after observing your 3-day discourse.

Consider what value a sharp intellect has if used to harm and annoy as felt by many of us in observing this debate. Many of us joined this group in search of a community that chooses reason over emotion or chest-thumping intellect. I haven't removed myself from this list as I've continued to hope this is truly a group that values reason over emotional/intellectual skirmish. If it is just a forum to prove oneself "right" I think it does a disservice to Rand's ideal. An intellect is just as well dead if does no service to reason.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

From: David <[address removed]>
Sender: [address removed]
Date: Tue, 14 Aug[masked]:28:30 -0400
To: <[address removed]>
ReplyTo: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [aynrand-8] A suggestion

My personal comportment is always as if we were siting across from one another. Hence my offer to do so. But let us not grow too effete in our willingness to engage in Jefferson's vigorous debate of ideas that we sanitize them right out of existence. 
The wonderful irony is that even this current discussion applies to Jim's initial post about Rand's rhetorical style. 

Anti concepts ( god ) forbid if she had possessed an iPhone!

Best regards 

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 14, 2012, at 10:57 PM, Jeff G <[address removed]> wrote:

This board is clearly filled with exceptionally intelligent individuals who are well versed on Ayn Rand's world view and philosophies, but there is no reason the forum shouldn't be treated as if we were all in a room together.  

I suspect if we were all face to face, the level of respect would increase, and those who chose to continue a personal and somewhat emotional disagreement wouldn't do so on a stage so that all must listen.   I feel it's worth considering which words are worth sharing with 100+ people whom the only thing we know of is that they appreciate Ayn Rand.

On Aug 14, 2012, at 10:15 PM, David wrote:

Then why so parsimonious? 

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 14, 2012, at 9:34 PM, Jeff G <[address removed]> wrote:

words are cheap

On Aug 14, 2012, at 9:24 PM, Michael Olsen wrote:

Depends in the preferences of each individual; surely we're not about to glorify consensus at the expense of customization. Personally, this email account (where I receive less important mail) is more trivial than texting, but much easier to access than logging into an online forum, and still I find it a welcome diversion from my day-to-day to have all the awesomeness that is objectivist banter right next to my daily e-mailers.
I lead myself, if anyone cares to follow then it had--sure as gravity--better be on their own terms, for I accept only the consequences of my own volition. My congrats to whoever wins the popularity poll, notwithstanding.

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 14, 2012, at 5:01 PM, Adam Spunberg <[address removed]> wrote:

Who is John Galt? Clearly, it's Jim! (Sorry, I know I just did the opposite of what Jim asked, but just had to say it. Agree wholeheartedly with what he said)


On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 4:53 PM, sonali <[address removed]> wrote:

Below was one of the most polite and diplomatic email, I've read in a while ;). You would make a good leader (if you're not one already)

Subject: [aynrand-8] A suggestion
To: [address removed]
From: [address removed]
Date: Mon, 13 Aug[masked]:40:15 -0400

Perhaps, out of respect for the more than 100 people on this list, those who send many "1 liners" and "zinger after zinger" could simply exchange emails and carry on that deeply meaningful but more personal and subjective correspondence "on the side".
For those who want fewer emails filling up their attention, however small such emails may be, there is a weekly option. Here, emails come in a condensed form.
Good luck to us all,
Din of the crowd is loud
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

From: Marc Gerstein <[address removed]>
Sender: [address removed]
Date: Mon, 13 Aug[masked]:19:27 -0400
To: <[address removed]>
ReplyTo: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [aynrand-8] Some say Ayn Rand was not so "nice": That is out of context

Sorry folks but i do need one more post . . . I see my last one crossed with another from David which I didn't see before I hit "send."

He now indicates he has a copy of the book. I don't know if he picked it up today or had it all along and was deliberately jerking everyone around. Either way, and given his ongoing hesitation to engage the text makes it clear he is still more committed to a cat-and-mouse game as opposed to a serious discussion of the topic at hand. I'll therefore stick with my decision to let this way-too-drawn-out thing drop.

David, I presume I'll see you on the 26th. All you have asked of me will be made clear as part and parcel of an overall presentation I'm planning for that meetup (a promise I made at the last meetup when a question posed to me required an answer that was more organized than I felt able to deliver off the cuff).

From: Marc Gerstein <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Monday, August 13,[masked]:00 PM
Subject: Re: [aynrand-8] Some say Ayn Rand was not so "nice": That is out of context

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