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#1 Roger Bissell

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:40 PM

[The following was posted by Dr. Branden on February 28, 2008 at www.nathanielbranden.com.]

When I first heard the term “libertarianism” in the early 1950s, I mentioned it to Ayn Rand as a possible name for our political philosophy. She was suspicious of the term and inclined to dismiss it as a neologism. “It’s a mouthful,” she remarked. “And it sounds too much like a made-up word.”

I answered, “Maybe so, but what alternative do we have?”

She said, “We’re advocates of laissez-faire capitalism.”

I answered, “Sure, but that’s kind of a mouthful too–it’s not a one-word name–and besides, it puts the whole emphasis on economics and politics and we stand for something wider and more comprehensive: we’re champions of individual rights. We’re advocates of a non-coercive society.”

I suggested that “libertarianism” could convey all that by means of a single word–especially if we were to define “libertarianism” as a social system that (a) barred the initiation of force from all human relationships and (B) was based on the inviolability of individual rights.

Ayn considered this suggestion briefly, then shook her head and said, “No. It sounds too much like a made-up word.”

Later, when many advocates of laissez-faire took up the word, and some of them were anarchists (notably Murray Rothbard), Ayn felt vindicated at rejecting a term broad enough to include Objectivist advocates of pure capitalism, on the one hand, and “anarcho-capitalists,” on the other. She did not realize that the majority of people who called themselves “libertarians” were advocates not of anarchism but of constitutionally limited government (in essence, the Objectivist model), and that she could have fought for her interpretation of the term “libertarian” just as she fought for her interpretation of the word “selfish. “There was no good reason to surrender a much-needed word to the opposition.

Later still, when she saw that libertarians often supported their position with aspects of her philosophy, without necessarily subscribing to the total of Objectivism, she became angrier still and decided that all libertarians were, in effect, and in her own inimitable style, “whim-worshipping subjectivists.”

Being a more balanced and reality-oriented teacher of Objectivism than Leonard Peikoff, David Kelley addressed libertarian groups with the aim of persuading them that Objectivism was the best possible foundation for their political beliefs. For this he was denounced by Peikoff as a traitor to Objectivism.

In any event, today libertarianism is part of our language and is commonly understood to mean the advocacy of minimal government. Ayn Rand is commonly referred to as “a libertarian philosopher.”

Ladies and gentlemen of an Objectivist persuasion, we are all libertarians now. Might as well get used to it.
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#2 Roger Bissell

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:43 PM

[I just posted these comments to the above on Dr. Branden's blog.]

Dr. Branden, you are so right about the term “libertarian” being appropriate to describe the political philosophy of Objectivism. I have gone round and round with people over this issue. They don’t understand that a given political philosophy can have adherents from numerous philosophical schools of thought -- and that it makes no sense, as you say, "to surrender a much-needed word to the opposition."

Why, if you’re going to be finicky about the term “libertarian” because some anarcho-capitalists also use the term, you just as well abandon the term “atheist” because some liberal secular humanists also use the term! Or the term “selfish” because some Stirnirite “egoists” or self-absorbed narcissists also use the term! Or the term “capitalist” because some businessmen (aka "looters") who seek subsidies and monopolies also use the term!

Well…I’m sure you got the point several examples ago!

Ironically, Ayn Rand herself wrote about this error in “Collectivized Ethics” (in The Virtue of Selfishness) and called it “the fallacy of the frozen abstraction.” Her example was the altruists who didn’t want to concede that egoism was also a morality, that only sacrificial morality is morality.

The altruists were answered by Nietzsche and Stirner who gave away the farm and said, OK, if morality includes sacrificial theories, then we’re not moral, we’re beyond good and evil. (There’s some room for interpretation of their actual views, but they really did eschew morality to the extent they equated it with sacrificial religious morality.)

Best always,
Roger Bissell, Antioch, Tennessee
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#3 Selene

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:56 PM

Roger:

Agreed.

Now if we can separate the term - libertarian and libertarianism from the "Libertarian Party" which has, as the latest statement from their fundraising e-mail noted, 14,000 or so members nationwide, we can "de-link" the term from the current political party and start anew.

Adam
ich ein libertarian?
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#4 Roger Bissell

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 08:20 PM

As long as the political party continues to exist, I suggest using a small "l" to refer to the ideology or political philosophy. It's hard to be consistent, since other philosophies use caps -- e.g., Realism, Pragmatism, etc. Also, we will most likely continue to have to stand on our heads, distinguishing ourselves from the political party, due to the guilt by association that will persist, caps or no caps in the spelling. But because of libertarians like Ron Paul, who try to work within the major two parties, this linkage will hopefully fade away. It already seems to be doing so. Paul gets mentioned a lot as a "libertarian," but the Party is hardly ever mentioned in the same context.

REB
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#5 Selene

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 08:30 PM

As long as the political party continues to exist, I suggest using a small "l" to refer to the ideology or political philosophy. It's hard to be consistent, since other philosophies use caps -- e.g., Realism, Pragmatism, etc. Also, we will most likely continue to have to stand on our heads, distinguishing ourselves from the political party, due to the guilt by association that will persist, caps or no caps in the spelling. But because of libertarians like Ron Paul, who try to work within the major two parties, this linkage will hopefully fade away. It already seems to be doing so. Paul gets mentioned a lot as a "libertarian," but the Party is hardly ever mentioned in the same context.

REB


REB:

Completely agree. Dr. Paul's effort this year, with all the "foreign policy" definitional issues that he raises which include the "perceived problem" with his statements on Iran, the "war on terror" and the issue of what actually constitutes the Constitutional responsibility of national defense is beginning to be "heard" in the public sphere.

We may all look back on Dr. Paul's candidacy as a true turning point in the public policy debate as to how to defend America.

Excellent posts Roger.

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#6 George H. Smith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:04 AM

The word "libertarian," when used as a political label, has been around since the 19th century.

For decades it has been common for leading historians to apply the label "libertarian" to thinkers who greatly influenced Thomas Jefferson and other American revolutionaries. For example, in her seminal book, The Eighteenth Century Commonwealthman (1959), Caroline Robbins writes about "earlier libertarian philosophies" that influenced framers of the U.S. Constitution, and the "libertarian thought" and "libertarian potential" of some early 18th century writers on individual freedom.

A few years later, in The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bernard Bailyn referred to the "extreme libertarianism" of Cato's Letters, which had an enormous influence on American thinking. Bailyn also mentions other "doctrinaire libertarians" of the 18th century, such as Thomas Hollis.

Rand's choice of labels was her business, but it is a shame that many of her followers have transformed "libertarian" and "libertarianism" into dirty words, in effect. This shows an ignorance of history, not to mention a lack of common sense.

Ghs

#7 Rich Engle

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:17 AM

I love the reply, Ghs, because you keep to the historical facts, for one thing. Reality. I also like what REB said about being "finicky." Oh, if only people in this sphere took that to heart. Macro, Micro.

They sit there and reincarnate something Rothbard, or whoever the fuck else said like a million years ago. Then, others do likewise. It's like digging up a cemetery over and over again. Meanwhile, you are exposing yourself to getting hot brass sunk in your head from people that don't bother to go through such gyrations. And here I thought the better part of this community (and OL is the best of all of them) had a basic understanding of shit like, well, temporal physics. Or how history works.

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Today's word is "finicky"

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#8 George H. Smith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:23 AM

[The following was posted by Dr. Branden on February 28, 2008 at www.nathanielbranden.com.]

When I first heard the term "libertarianism" in the early 1950s, I mentioned it to Ayn Rand as a possible name for our political philosophy. She was suspicious of the term and inclined to dismiss it as a neologism. "It's a mouthful," she remarked. "And it sounds too much like a made-up word."

I answered, "Maybe so, but what alternative do we have?"

She said, "We're advocates of laissez-faire capitalism."

I answered, "Sure, but that's kind of a mouthful too–it's not a one-word name–and besides, it puts the whole emphasis on economics and politics and we stand for something wider and more comprehensive: we're champions of individual rights. We're advocates of a non-coercive society."

I suggested that "libertarianism" could convey all that by means of a single word–especially if we were to define "libertarianism" as a social system that (a) barred the initiation of force from all human relationships and ( :cool: was based on the inviolability of individual rights.

Ayn considered this suggestion briefly, then shook her head and said, "No. It sounds too much like a made-up word."


In The Constitution of Liberty (1960, p. 408), F.A. Hayek rejected the label "libertarian" for reasons similar to Rand's:

In the United States, where it has become almost impossible to use "liberal" in the sense in which I have used it [i.e., to mean classical liberal], the term "libertarian" has been used instead. It may be the answer; but for my part I find it singularly unattractive. For my taste it carries too much the flavor of a manufactured term and of a substitute. What I should want is a word which describes the party of life, the party that favors free growth and spontaneous evolution. But I have racked my brain unsuccessfully to find a descriptive term which commends itself.


Ghs

#9 Reidy

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:44 AM

"Minarchist" is the one that troubles me for this reason. I'm pleased to see that it never caught on in a big way.

#10 George H. Smith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:57 AM

Confusion and controversy over the meaning of political labels are nothing new. In some cases, such as with "liberal," a label has been co-opted by opponents and given a new meaning. Another instance of this occurred with the label "Federalist" in 18th-century America.

When the original Virginia Plan (written mainly by James Madison) was introduced to the Constitutional Convention, it advocated a "national" government, not a "federal" government. At that time a Federalist was viewed as an advocate of a confederation of sovereign states, such as established by the Articles of Confederation, and this was precisely the kind of government that Nationalists wished to replace with a sovereign national government.

The notion of a sovereign national government was not popular among most Americans, so delegates voted to strike the word "national" from any final document.. And since delegates also voted to keep Convention proceedings secret for 50 years, they assumed that their linguistic game of hide-and-seek would not become known to the general public until all (or almost all) the delegates were dead.

This skulduggery continued when Federalist Papers was used as the title for the celebrated newspaper articles by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, which were written to support ratification in the troublesome state of New York. The real Federalists were the critics and opponents of the Constitution, but the Nationalists saddled their critics with the label Anti-Federalists -- which was rather like calling someone "anti-American" today -- and appropriated the label Federalists for themselves.

This brilliant if deceptive tactic worked like a charm, and it infuriated many old-style Federalists. As one opponent of the Constitution (possibly Patrick Henry, but I don't recall for sure) put it: Instead of using the labels Federalist and Anti-Federalist, we should use the labels Rat and Anti-Rat. 8-)

Ghs

#11 Roger Bissell

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 12:09 PM

George, I think a major fun and enlightening expose -- for general consumption -- would be an essay/series of essays, or even a video, on all the definition- and label-switching that has gone on during American history. Starting with the example you cite, on up to all the shape-shifting being done by the socialist/progressive/liberals. I'd especially like someone to blow the whistle on the red state/blue state thing. Red states are supposed to be capitalist, conservative, Republican -- yet red was previously strongly associated with communism and other leftist doctrines like fascism and Nazism.

Just puttin' a bug in your ear. :-)

REB
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#12 George H. Smith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:21 PM

George, I think a major fun and enlightening expose -- for general consumption -- would be an essay/series of essays, or even a video, on all the definition- and label-switching that has gone on during American history. Starting with the example you cite, on up to all the shape-shifting being done by the socialist/progressive/liberals. I'd especially like someone to blow the whistle on the red state/blue state thing. Red states are supposed to be capitalist, conservative, Republican -- yet red was previously strongly associated with communism and other leftist doctrines like fascism and Nazism.

Just puttin' a bug in your ear. :-)

REB


I don't know what the red state/blue state distinction was based on, or when it first arose. Anyone know? (Of course, I could Google it, but this wouldn't be nearly as much fun.)

Ghs

#13 Mark

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:09 PM

Strange to relate, once in 1965 Ayn Rand herself suggested that the political branch of her philosophy be called libertarianism. See
Ayn Rand’s Political Label.

Quoting Jeff Riggenbach:

In that same series of conversations in which Rand advised Joan [Taylor] to take her magazine [Persuasion] out of the Metropolitan Young Republican Club and make it an independent publication, Joan asked her mentor’s advice on how she should portray Persuasion publicly. As she told a couple of interviewers in later years, the members of the editorial staff of Persuasion "were all students of her philosophy … but [Persuasion] was to deal entirely with politics." So she put the question directly to Ayn Rand: "What do I call the view that we hold?" she asked. "It certainly isn’t Republican. On the other hand I can’t say it’s Objectivist; we have no position on art, epistemology, metaphysics, whatever, only on politics."
... "That was when she explained to me," Joan wrote decades later, "that the name for her political philosophy, considered by itself, was libertarianism, and [she] suggested that Persuasion should call itself a libertarian publication. And so we did."


 

Edited by Mark, 29 September 2011 - 03:11 PM.


#14 George H. Smith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:27 PM

Strange to relate, once in 1965 Ayn Rand herself suggested that the political branch of her philosophy be called libertarianism. See
Ayn Rand’s Political Label.

Quoting Jeff Riggenbach:

In that same series of conversations in which Rand advised Joan [Taylor] to take her magazine [Persuasion] out of the Metropolitan Young Republican Club and make it an independent publication, Joan asked her mentor’s advice on how she should portray Persuasion publicly. As she told a couple of interviewers in later years, the members of the editorial staff of Persuasion "were all students of her philosophy … but [Persuasion] was to deal entirely with politics." So she put the question directly to Ayn Rand: "What do I call the view that we hold?" she asked. "It certainly isn’t Republican. On the other hand I can’t say it’s Objectivist; we have no position on art, epistemology, metaphysics, whatever, only on politics."
... "That was when she explained to me," Joan wrote decades later, "that the name for her political philosophy, considered by itself, was libertarianism, and [she] suggested that Persuasion should call itself a libertarian publication. And so we did."


 


As surprises go, this surprise surprised me.

Do you know who wrote the essay you linked? ARI Watch is new to me. Who is behind it?

Ghs

#15 Roger Bissell

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:36 PM


Strange to relate, once in 1965 Ayn Rand herself suggested that the political branch of her philosophy be called libertarianism. See
Ayn Rand’s Political Label.

Quoting Jeff Riggenbach:

In that same series of conversations in which Rand advised Joan [Taylor] to take her magazine [Persuasion] out of the Metropolitan Young Republican Club and make it an independent publication, Joan asked her mentor’s advice on how she should portray Persuasion publicly. As she told a couple of interviewers in later years, the members of the editorial staff of Persuasion "were all students of her philosophy … but [Persuasion] was to deal entirely with politics." So she put the question directly to Ayn Rand: "What do I call the view that we hold?" she asked. "It certainly isn’t Republican. On the other hand I can’t say it’s Objectivist; we have no position on art, epistemology, metaphysics, whatever, only on politics."
... "That was when she explained to me," Joan wrote decades later, "that the name for her political philosophy, considered by itself, was libertarianism, and [she] suggested that Persuasion should call itself a libertarian publication. And so we did."


 


As surprises go, this surprise surprised me.

Do you know who wrote the essay you linked? ARI Watch is new to me. Who is behind it?

Ghs


George, I surfed through the ARI Watch site and found nothing that clued me in on who is responsible for it. What makes it harder to figure is that on the "Introduction" page, the writer indicates that they are not a "hate Ayn Rand" site, because they respect Rand; their target is ARI. I can't imagine that TAS would try something like this. Whoever it is is very anti-interventionist, taking pains to identify one of the principal bad ideas as Neo-Conservatism, which he says is rife in ARI public statements and publications.

Anyway, here is the manifesto of the group/site. It makes for interesting reading...REB

Introduction
The best of the Ancient Greeks, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, purged of their errors and contradictions – that’s one way to describe Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Ayn Rand justified human freedom and dignity with a consistency and eloquence as had no one before.

Though nothing can undermine that achievement, the spread of her ideas has been hampered by her extraordinarily unfortunate choice of associates. In her own lifetime eventually all but a few of them betrayed her, afterwards heaping her with abuse.

Ayn Rand died in 1982. She willed her entire estate, including the copyrights to all her books, to Leonard Peikoff, an associate of some 30 years. She told him she trusted him to use it well. In 1985 Mr. Peikoff founded the Ayn Rand Institute – ARI – to promote her ideas, called Objectivism.

The September 11, 2001 attack soon revealed the true colors of many people and organizations. The National Review magazine (which Ayn Rand had loathed when she was alive), the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Accuracy in Media, and many other professed advocates of limited government, turned out to be advocates of a police state – so long as neocons are in charge of the police.

What staggers honest students of Ayn Rand is the likewise unmasking of ARI. It turns out ARI too promotes the essence of the neocon agenda, dressed up in Objectivist verbiage. This betrayal of Ayn Rand, by the last of her former associates, could hardly be more perverse.

The man responsible is Leonard Peikoff. Though not on ARI’s official board of directors, he ultimately controls ARI. He has veto power over anything ARI would publish, through Ayn Rand’s estate he largely finances it, and he appointed its director, one Yaron Brook. Besides Leonard Peikoff, two other of Ayn Rand’s former associates now at ARI are Harry Binswanger and Peter Schwartz.

On this website you will read ARI writers advocating the expedient suspension of the U.S. Constitution, self-sacrifice, and torture. You will see their evasions, their sickening aping of Ayn Rand’s style of expression, their sophistries and lies. You will see this as they call all who disagree with them pragmatists, leftists, and America-haters. We hang them by their own utterance and offer comment.

Vice is ugly, but it does one good to see it properly labeled. Our aim is to create a place where honest students of Ayn Rand, sickened by ARI, can come to recuperate. Whatever anyone associated with ARI publishes is on our watch. (This includes media op-eds, letters to editors, press releases, and newsletters put out by ARI; articles by ARI writers published elsewhere such as The Intellectual Activist, The Objective Standard, and Capitalism Magazine; and lectures and interviews given by ARI writers.)

Though these knaves and bunglers would destroy the intellectual legacy of Ayn Rand by marrying it to an agenda totally foreign to her ideas, one can take some solace in an aphorism by Friedrich Nietzsche: “The first adherents of a creed prove nothing against it.”

If you were expecting another Ayn Rand hate-site, you have come to the wrong place. Our target is the “Ayn Rand” Institute, because we respect the work of Ayn Rand.


Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#16 George H. Smith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:24 PM


George, I surfed through the ARI Watch site and found nothing that clued me in on who is responsible for it. What makes it harder to figure is that on the "Introduction" page, the writer indicates that they are not a "hate Ayn Rand" site, because they respect Rand; their target is ARI. I can't imagine that TAS would try something like this. Whoever it is is very anti-interventionist, taking pains to identify one of the principal bad ideas as Neo-Conservatism, which he says is rife in ARI public statements and publications.


Hmmmm....

Maybe Comrade Sonia is behind all this. 8-)

Ghs

#17 Brant Gaede

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 10:04 PM

[I just posted these comments to the above on Dr. Branden's blog.]

Dr. Branden, you are so right about the term “libertarian” being appropriate to describe the political philosophy of Objectivism. I have gone round and round with people over this issue. They don’t understand that a given political philosophy can have adherents from numerous philosophical schools of thought -- and that it makes no sense, as you say, "to surrender a much-needed word to the opposition."

Why, if you’re going to be finicky about the term “libertarian” because some anarcho-capitalists also use the term, you just as well abandon the term “atheist” because some liberal secular humanists also use the term! Or the term “selfish” because some Stirnirite “egoists” or self-absorbed narcissists also use the term! Or the term “capitalist” because some businessmen (aka "looters") who seek subsidies and monopolies also use the term!

Well…I’m sure you got the point several examples ago!

Ironically, Ayn Rand herself wrote about this error in “Collectivized Ethics” (in The Virtue of Selfishness) and called it “the fallacy of the frozen abstraction.” Her example was the altruists who didn’t want to concede that egoism was also a morality, that only sacrificial morality is morality.

The altruists were answered by Nietzsche and Stirner who gave away the farm and said, OK, if morality includes sacrificial theories, then we’re not moral, we’re beyond good and evil. (There’s some room for interpretation of their actual views, but they really did eschew morality to the extent they equated it with sacrificial religious morality.)

Best always,
Roger Bissell, Antioch, Tennessee

Most excellent, Roger. You've a first-class mind.

I find the term "libertarian" a little light for my taste with too many fellow travellers I don't want to travel with. So I think of myself as an advocate of freedom and let the chips fall where they may. But I do think "Liberty" is a better fit for libertarianism than "Freedom" so if I thought of myself as a libertarian, and I do--wishy-washy--somewhat, I'd like that radical, polemical edge you get from "Liberty!" It seems these two different but over-lapping terms mix up the British and the French and I suspect George tends to the French and I to the Brits. But there was more liberty in America back then than freedom in France. A lot of Americans, like Jefferson, spent a lot of time in France. Britain dominated the 19th Century by defeating Napi and with naval power and it dominated the 20th through inertia and the United States thus over-coming the ascendant power of Germany through trickery and a common language. Now Britain and France are evaporating and Germany is dominating Europe economically and the United States is slowly being allied with China and SE Asia and India mostly through trade and various geo-political interests. Next, a fascist American dictatorship.

--Brant
when I've had a few I can't stop writing it seems (stopped!)

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#18 George H. Smith

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 12:55 AM


[I just posted these comments to the above on Dr. Branden's blog.]

Dr. Branden, you are so right about the term “libertarian” being appropriate to describe the political philosophy of Objectivism. I have gone round and round with people over this issue. They don’t understand that a given political philosophy can have adherents from numerous philosophical schools of thought -- and that it makes no sense, as you say, "to surrender a much-needed word to the opposition."

Why, if you’re going to be finicky about the term “libertarian” because some anarcho-capitalists also use the term, you just as well abandon the term “atheist” because some liberal secular humanists also use the term! Or the term “selfish” because some Stirnirite “egoists” or self-absorbed narcissists also use the term! Or the term “capitalist” because some businessmen (aka "looters") who seek subsidies and monopolies also use the term!

Well…I’m sure you got the point several examples ago!

Ironically, Ayn Rand herself wrote about this error in “Collectivized Ethics” (in The Virtue of Selfishness) and called it “the fallacy of the frozen abstraction.” Her example was the altruists who didn’t want to concede that egoism was also a morality, that only sacrificial morality is morality.

The altruists were answered by Nietzsche and Stirner who gave away the farm and said, OK, if morality includes sacrificial theories, then we’re not moral, we’re beyond good and evil. (There’s some room for interpretation of their actual views, but they really did eschew morality to the extent they equated it with sacrificial religious morality.)

Best always,
Roger Bissell, Antioch, Tennessee

Most excellent, Roger. You've a first-class mind.

I find the term "libertarian" a little light for my taste with too many fellow travellers I don't want to travel with. So I think of myself as an advocate of freedom and let the chips fall where they may. But I do think "Liberty" is a better fit for libertarianism than "Freedom" so if I thought of myself as a libertarian, and I do--wishy-washy--somewhat, I'd like that radical, polemical edge you get from "Liberty!" It seems these two different but over-lapping terms mix up the British and the French and I suspect George tends to the French and I to the Brits. But there was more liberty in America back then than freedom in France. A lot of Americans, like Jefferson, spent a lot of time in France. Britain dominated the 19th Century by defeating Napi and with naval power and it dominated the 20th through inertia and the United States thus over-coming the ascendant power of Germany through trickery and a common language. Now Britain and France are evaporating and Germany is dominating Europe economically and the United States is slowly being allied with China and SE Asia and India mostly through trade and various geo-political interests. Next, a fascist American dictatorship.

--Brant
when I've had a few I can't stop writing it seems (stopped!)


Earlier today I received a book from Amazon: John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty, by Arthur H. Cash. I have been wanting to read this critically acclaimed biography for some time, so I dug in immediately. When I hit page 52, I decided to take a break to read the latest on OL. After reading your post, I picked up the book again, and the very first thing I read was this:


Wilkes was fond of the phrase "a friend to liberty" and would one day direct that it should mark his grave....The word liberty is elusive. Today it is synonymous with the word freedom. In eighteenth-century England, freedom meant a condition without restraints, whereas liberty suggested breaking away from restraint, usually breaking free of oppression by the Crown or the judiciary. And in America? The Liberty Bell was cracked in celebration not of general freedom, but of liberty from the oppressions of Great Britain.


Nothing natural can explain this seeming coincidence. 8-)

I have not been disappointed with Cash's book. I have read two older biographies of Wilkes, but never have I seen the kind of detail that Cash presents. Of particular interest is the account of the Order of the Knights of St. Francis of Wycombe, popularly known as the Hellfire Club. This libertine club (to which Wilkes belonged) was devoted to the hedonistic pleasures of food, drink, and sex.

Cash is not only an accomplished historian but also an engaging writer. I love the untitled note that appears before the Table of Contents. It begins: "If you know why you should read about John Wilkes, you may skip this paragraph. If you think that John Wilkes shot Abraham Lincoln, you many not...." 8-)

Ghs

#19 Greybird

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 07:17 AM


George, I surfed through the ARI Watch site and found nothing that clued me in on who is responsible for it. What makes it harder to figure is that on the "Introduction" page, the writer indicates that they are not a "hate Ayn Rand" site, because they respect Rand; their target is ARI. I can't imagine that TAS would try something like this. Whoever it is is very anti-interventionist, taking pains to identify one of the principal bad ideas as Neo-Conservatism, which he says is rife in ARI public statements and publications.

Hmmmm. ... Maybe Comrade Sonia is behind all this. 8-)

Mark Hunter, a long-time member of this site (user Mark), is the owner and sole writer of ARI Watch. Why not ask him your questions directly? He posted above, after all.

He's not forthcoming on the site about personal details — in these days of the Net becoming a Panopticon, I can't blame him — but the forthrightness, clarity, and supportive citations of his essays pretty much speak for themselves, as substantial reasons to read them.

That's entirely apart from his effective decrying of the religiousity, abusiveness, and (yes) neoconservative war-savagery worship practiced by ARI, its principals, major supporters, and beneficiaries.

Edited by Greybird, 30 September 2011 - 07:22 AM.


#20 George H. Smith

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 07:25 AM



George, I surfed through the ARI Watch site and found nothing that clued me in on who is responsible for it. What makes it harder to figure is that on the "Introduction" page, the writer indicates that they are not a "hate Ayn Rand" site, because they respect Rand; their target is ARI. I can't imagine that TAS would try something like this. Whoever it is is very anti-interventionist, taking pains to identify one of the principal bad ideas as Neo-Conservatism, which he says is rife in ARI public statements and publications.

Hmmmm. ... Maybe Comrade Sonia is behind all this. 8-)

Mark Hunter, a long-time member of this site (user Mark), is the owner and sole writer of ARI Watch. Why not ask him your questions directly? He posted above, after all.

He's not forthcoming on the site about personal details — in these days of the Net becoming a Panopticon, I can't blame him — but the forthrightness, clarity, and supportive citations of his essays pretty much speak for themselves, as substantial reasons to read them.

That's entirely apart from his effective decrying of the religiousity, abusiveness, and (yes) neoconservative war-savagery worship practiced by ARI, its principals, major supporters, and beneficiaries.


I don't have any questions. I like the site.

Ghs




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