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[From Bidinotto Blog] A Career Change


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#41 Chris Baker

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:11 AM

I have pretty much "lost faith" in Objectivists and/or Objectivism "saving the world," or even giving it a gentle nudge away from the precipice. Objectivists cannot even make allies amongst themselves. They have not even been able to explain and/or extrapolate upon the philosophy among academia (with a few notable exceptions) and have had negligible infuence among others of an intellectual bent.


One problem here is that there is way too much influence on choosing philosophy as a career. One college professor told me flat out: "They have to stop telling these kids to go into philosophy." These people could also go into psychology, law, business, or economics. The bottom line is that it is extremely difficult to get a job in philosophy. There are more openings in the other areas.

And in the popular culture?


Robert Heinlein, L. Neil Smith, Erika Holzer.

You are also forgetting about the man who is arguably the most famous Objectivist of all. I'm talking about Jimmy Wales. You can look him up on Wikipedia. He's one of the people who created that web site. This is also why he will never kiss the feet of the Chinese autocrats. He will never censor Wikipeida.

The answer, I am afraid, is all too obvious.


I have an answer for this. However, I would be engaging in a pot-kettle-black argument.

#42 Brant Gaede

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:25 AM

The trick to being an influencial Objectivist is to be a true expert in your field and integrate that with your philosophical principles. You'll always have an audience that wants and needs and respects your expertise.

Another way is to understand gross deficiencies in the philosophy when you try to logically extrapolate off those principles leaving the land of data and empiricism for the dogmatism that always exists in mental absolutism. That is why my basic political activist principle is we should move in the direction of greater freedom, not that we need and should have pure market laissez-faire capitalism, which is the basic political principle of Objectivism.

The Objectivist ethics have been corrupted by Ayn Rand's polemical misuse of "selfishness" which she redefined. It was like using a two-by-four to whack the head of a mule to get its attention, but the culture really didn't appreciate it. "Rational self-interest" is a much better formulation. It even invites an explanation on why it's a redundancy, albeit a necessary one. This does not mean, however, that she was wrong about altruism being the ethical basis of all collectivisms.

But again, a basic principle isn't enough. Much more needs to be known about human psychological and social realities before one can say "Change your ethics--all the way down." That's like saying stop being who you are.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede, 18 October 2008 - 11:40 AM.

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#43 Chris Baker

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:34 AM

At the same time, they seem to be losing membership support and their Summer Seminars have consistently drawn fewer and fewer attendees. How many attended this summer's meeting in Oregon? The ARI Summer institute had close to 500! The year before, in Baltimore, the TAS Summer institute claimed over 100 attendees, but was closer to 60, if you exclude the TAS staff and the featured speakers.


ARI still has the advantage of placing the cards in every book.

For some inexplicable reason, they appear to have been unable (or unwilling) to attract a growing list of supporters.


Some of them are just plain boring. At the IOS seminars I attended, just about everyone seemed to be going through the motions with their presentations. This was definitely not the case with the presenters I've met at FEE. Those people were alive and enthusiastic.

ARI, unfortunately, is totally unacceptable as an alternative, given their policies to exclude or refuse to cooperate with other Objectivists and libertarians.


Many of these people are happy to stay away from ARI. If ARI did reach out to them, I think these people would tell ARI to go away. It's the same reason why I would not want to form an alliance with the Church of Scientology. ARI will die pretty quickly once Rand's copyrights expire.

And what will be ARI's response? Well, let's see. Maybe they will step up their distribution of free copies of Ayn Rand's novels to high school. 2) Write more letters to the editors of newspapers. 3) Suggest the country can be saved if only inquiring young minds buy lots and lots of the highly-priced CD sets of lectures from our ARI gurus.


I personally don't think ARI gives one hoot about what happens to this country. They will pump the well of Ayn Rand until it runs dry. I suppose eventually they will dig up Rand's grave and sell her bones on E-bay. They have produced very little.

That being said, I have long had a problem with Rand's belief that the country needs a "philosophical re-education." We don't have time for it. When the forest is burning, you put out the fire first. Meanwhile, the fire continues to spread and burn everything in its past. People like the ARI crowd still claim that we need a "philosophical re-education."

And what will TAS do? You know, I haven't a clue. I certainly hope they do.


They've barely done anything in their 18 years or so. I suppose they will continue to do nothing.

#44 Chris Baker

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:44 AM

Now, regarding the Ron Paul cover and article, I agree that the cover may have been "over the top," provocative and certainly prone to be regarded as offensive by Ron Paul supporters.


It actually was not the only attempt by some people to smear Ron Paul. Lots of people who claim to be for limited government attacked Ron Paul. That makes me question their sincerity.

With regard to movie character comparisons, many people call Ron Paul "Doctor No." It's a title he wears as a badge of honor. When 434 charlatans vote to expand federal power, he votes no.

If the article itself, had made-up or rewritten what Ron Paul had said, then there may be some ground for a comparison. However, as I remember the article (which was not nearly as inflammatory as the cover), its main point was contrasting what Ron Paul had said in his Presidential campaign, with what he had actually done in practice as a Congressman.


I never saw it. On Bidinotto's blog, he mainly seemed concerned that Ron Paul believes that the US military should actually defend the USA. Bidinotto has expressed his love for the empire on his blog, his love of military bases all over the world, his love of killing poor people in faraway places. He's the typical laptop bombardier.

This is a guy who participated in the YAF walkout. What happened to him?

#45 Chris Baker

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:49 AM

Jerry, here is a very small piece of evidence -- from a most unlikely source, which is what makes it significant -- that Rand is being read by some members of the government. I posted the following to the Joe the Plumber thread, but it is relevant here.



People read speed limit signs. That doesn't mean they obey them.

Are these "member of government" actually doing anything? With regard to Alan John Maynard Greenspan, the answer is definitely a big no.

#46 Brant Gaede

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:54 AM

TAS is evaporating along with its talent. At least it hasn't been very destructive to Ayn Rand's ideas, unlike ARI. She had good reason to want her name not put on clubs and institutions, but to respect that would have meant the basic impossibility of successful professional and financial parasitism. Ayn Rand as a soapbox. You can be an Objectivist philosopher or a philosopher, not both. Peikoff is not a philosopher and I strongly suspect that is why Sydney Hook turned his back on him and didn't recommend him for a teaching position.

--Brant

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#47 Chris Baker

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:58 AM

Chris Baker, your remarks about Robert Bidinotto -- that he is a "good guy gone bad", that he now inhabits "the dark side" -- are typical of what I was protesting about ARI: a fanatical insistence that only those who agree with you are virtuous, and that any disagreement is a proof of evil. Will it never occur to you that we live in a complex world, that many of the issues we must deal with do not have simple answers, and that reasonable and decent people may disagree?


In that very same post, I also made some very nice comments about people who don't agree with me on everything. I don't agree with FEE on everything, but I am happy to support them. I still go to their events. I support them and everything they have done.

It is only a question of how much disagreement and what type of disagreements I find acceptable. At this point in time, I find attacking Ron Paul virtually inexcusable. I feel the same way about supporting the wars. I am mainly disappointed because I once had a very high opinion of the man.

There was one guy in town who knocked on thousands of doors for Ron Paul. He did this in spite of the fact that he supports the Iraq war and is pro-abortion. He did it because he understands economics and knew that Ron Paul is the only one who has sound economic ideas.

#48 Brant Gaede

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 12:02 PM

I hated that Ron Paul cover. Absolutely hated it. Ron Paul deserved much, much better than that.

--Brant

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


#49 Chris Grieb

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 12:47 PM

Baker; On the question of the Iraq war do you think Ayn Rand would agree with you? Do you think Ayn Rand would agree with you or Robert Bidinotto?

Don't fret. I'm not going hold my breath waiting for your answer.



#50 Chris Baker

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 01:31 PM

I wouldn't make that much out of Robert's gushing about Sarah Palin.


As I said, he's not the only one. He's a recent article about Mister Bell Curve. The neo-con says: "I'm in love. Truly and deeply in love."

http://www.eandppub....les-murray.html

The mugshot of him is hilarious. He looks like he is seeing a dirty picture of her.

Edited by Chris Baker, 18 October 2008 - 01:32 PM.


#51 Roger Bissell

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 02:34 PM

Perhaps you have statistics that could convince me otherwise, but I don't think the costs of the Iraq war are significant enough to sink the American economy and/or society. They're not trivial, but they're not decisively ruinous either.


Many articles said that it cost about $4 trillion to "win" the Cold War. At the time, that was about the entire federal budget deficit.

They are already talking trillions with regard to the current situation in the Middle East.

Ultimately, the biggest gorilla of all is still the welfare state. Some are saying that this will soon bring a tab of $50 or $100 trillion. If the WTC and the wars had never happened, Bush would still be an absolutely terrible President. His record in domestic affairs is one of the worst we've ever had. He has shown us that a conservative is just a socialist who goes to church every week.
[....]


Some quick comments, Chris:

1. Bush is ~not~ a conservative. How can you possibly consider him in the same quadrant with people like Rush Limbaugh or Ronald Reagan? Sure, he supported tax cuts, but so did John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Bush is a self-described "compassionate conservative." Now, ~that~ is "a socialist who goes to church every week." (Or, as I would put it: "a socialist who opposes abortion.")

2. You said the $4 trillion to "win" the Cold War was (at the time) "about the entire federal budget deficit. I think you mean the entire federal ~debt~. The debt is the net total of accumulated annual budget deficits over the net total of accumulated annual budget surpluses, plus interest.

3. The "biggest gorilla" is the unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare -- the legacies of FDR and LBJ. Add to that the almost certain-to-be-unfunded liabilities for Universal Health Care, soon to pass under BHO (or BO, if you prefer) and his filibuster-proof Congress. Perhaps the worst kaka will not hit the fan for another 30 years, but my children and grandchildren will very likely have a truly miserable existence, unless the giant rug is not pulled from under all this runaway entitlement spending soon.

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

#52 Barbara Branden

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 03:42 PM

Chris Baker: "Bidinotto has expressed his love for the empire on his blog, his love of military bases all over the world, his love of killing poor people in faraway places. He's the typical laptop bombardier."

I shall no longer restrain myself from telling you exactly what I think of you. You are a small, irresponsible, ignorant man, who presumes to denounce his betters from the safety of the Internet. I have no doubt that Robert Bidinotto would not dream of lowering himself by responding to the likes of you, so I shall do it for him. If, by the end of your life, you have accomplished a millimeter of what Robert has already accomplished, you may have the right to criticize him. But then you will know better than to hurl next-to-insane insults at a man who take great pains to explain the reasons for his every position, and whose humanity and generosity of spirit ought to have been an inspiration to you. Your viciousness pollutes the air of this forum.

Barbara

#53 Brant Gaede

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 04:31 PM

Chris, you keep jumping up and down on people, individually or collectively. You've got a firehose but there's no fire. The role of the United States abroad is a legitimate subject for analyses, discussions, debates and suggestions. None of that happens off your animadversions upon people who don't share your perspective or share it but have different ideas what to do about things now and in the future. Talking things out and exchanging ideas is what a forum like this is all about.

--Brant

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


#54 Philip Coates

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 04:56 PM

> I have long had a problem with Rand's belief that the country needs a "philosophical re-education." We don't have time for it. [Chris B]

We don't have time not to.

You and others are always looking for a "political short cut" or some equivalent.

- convince people on concrete issues of the day, demonstrate against the bailout, write letters to the editor against mandatory national service.
- start a national magazine to comment on politics and review movies and criticise the culture. But not to teach or apply Objectivism as such.
- write op eds on the war and interventionism and global warming.

We simply have to face facts: Unpleasant though it may be, people need to have certain ethical and epistemological premises changed. They will not change their ideas about freedom, rights, big government otherwise. That's not necessarily a complete 'philosophical reeducation' for everyone. Not everyone was converted to big government in the last century - the opinion leaders and best writers and best communicators were.

ODEW

Only "Deep" Education Works.

TANSC

There Are No Short Cuts.

#55 Philip Coates

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 05:06 PM

> At this point in time, I find attacking Ron Paul virtually inexcusable. I feel the same way about supporting the wars.

Chris, Barbara explained in a previous post why one is not entitled under Objectivism to have such an "emotionalist" approach to moral judgment. And why its a major error. (I've explained it in endless 'schoolmarm' posts on every forum.)

At this point in time, you have two choices:

1. You can intellectually (and - the harder part - emotionally) accept why hurling Lindsay Perigo/Diana Hsieh type insults and moral condemnations simply when you -violently- disagree is wrong. Then stop doing it.

2. Continue, try to defend yourself without change, and escalate or repeat the same kind of attacks on -people- as opposed to contesting -ideas-. Because it is emotionally satisfying as a way to "vent".

#56 Roger Bissell

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:22 PM

> I have long had a problem with Rand's belief that the country needs a "philosophical re-education." We don't have time for it. [Chris B]

We don't have time not to.

You and others are always looking for a "political short cut" or some equivalent.

- convince people on concrete issues of the day, demonstrate against the bailout, write letters to the editor against mandatory national service.
- start a national magazine to comment on politics and review movies and criticise the culture. But not to teach or apply Objectivism as such.
- write op eds on the war and interventionism and global warming.

We simply have to face facts: Unpleasant though it may be, people need to have certain ethical and epistemological premises changed. They will not change their ideas about freedom, rights, big government otherwise. That's not necessarily a complete 'philosophical reeducation' for everyone. Not everyone was converted to big government in the last century - the opinion leaders and best writers and best communicators were.

ODEW

Only "Deep" Education Works.

TANSC

There Are No Short Cuts.


Phil, I agree that "Deep" Education is fundamental. But it is not all that is needed.

As I mentioned previously, it is only because Rand provided "Deep" Education in Atlas Shrugged that Martin Anderson was informed and ready to take advantage of the opportunity to "lobby" Richard Nixon to press for an end to military conscription. Should Martin Anderson ~not~ have done this, on some such grounds as political reform does not "work"? What if he had listened to someone like you 40 years ago?? Was his vital role in ending the draft an illegitimate "short cut"? Interesting how it "worked", isn't it.

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

#57 Chris Baker

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:29 PM

We don't have time not to.

You and others are always looking for a "political short cut" or some equivalent.


When someone like John McCain pushes the button and vaporizes the entire human race, it won't matter anyway. There will be nobody to educate and nobody to do the educating.

Perhaps you are willing to take that kind of risk. I am certainly not.

You also won't be able to do any philosophical re-education without the right of free speech, unless you want to confine your re-education to the people that are in prison with you. If you are all in jail, it won't matter.

Edited by Chris Baker, 18 October 2008 - 11:31 PM.


#58 Philip Coates

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 12:27 AM

Guys, first of all, instead of Deep Education being the -only- route I might have more precisely said it is the fundamental, - ninety - percent - of - the ball - game route. Without it nothing else lasts -- other than by coincidence. You can't protect free speech. You can't prevent nuclear war because, well . . . not to put too fine a point on it . . .

. . . NO ONE IS LISTENING TO YOU.

For four decades the only example anyone can give is one in which supposedly Oism led to a person convincing a president to end conscription.

Well, first, if Oism had been spreading and if novels like Atlas alone were culturally effective, why only the one example of the draft and Martin Anderson?

And, secondly, even -that- one example is incorrect.

I researched the causes of the end of military conscription because I did a term paper in college on it: There were many reasons why the draft was ended. Along with Anderson there was Milton Friedman and a liberal Republican named Bruce Chapman, called "Wrong Man in Uniform", which I read in my research...who may have been most influential of all. And -the left- and tens of thousands of angry students was the strongest voice calling for the end of conscription.

The whole political climate of the time -hated- conscription. The posters, media, columnists, universities were all demonstrating against "The Draft and the War".

Why? The young people didn't want to be forced to fight in that particular war at the time. Ever heard of Vietnam?

"Wrong Man in Uniform" argued that the poor and the black were being forced to die for richer people's wars and that that was unfair. Nixon and others were also told that drafting people who would not be in service long enough to learn how to operate in a complext technogical environment, learn the skills before their conscription was over was inefficient and a poor way to devlop a trained professional military.

By getting rid of the draft Nixon not only built a stronger military, but he got thousands of fearful young people afraid of dying off his back. And cooled one source of opposition.

So it wasn't Oism. And Oism hasn't prevented forty years of compulsory 'national service' being proposed either. And being supported broadly.

Fantasize on!!

#59 Brant Gaede

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 01:20 AM

Therefore...? Look, Phil, there is no inevitability for freedom. If you don't fight for it you enslave yourself.

--Brant

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


#60 Ted Keer

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 02:18 AM

Phil, have you not read What Went Right? No one disagrees with the importance of philosophical education, but it is not the only efficacious cause and to harp on it so is reminiscent of Marxist rationalism and all the a priori nonsense an Aristotelean should eschew.



Confession is always weakness. The grave soul keeps its own secrets, and takes its own punishment in silence.




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