Mike Renzulli

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Everything posted by Mike Renzulli

  1. Back in April of 2008 a controversy arose that I raised on these pages and on some Objectivist blogs about a basic Objectivist course Diana Mertz-Hsieh taught while she was with IOS/TAS and my group's advertising their usage at one of my salon's meetings. The controversy was based as to whether or not she held the copyright to the lectures and, hence, veto power over their usage which would have entailed a potential public usage in violation of copyright statutes. I have since found out via second hand knowledge articulated by David Kelley himself that the copyrights for the lectures done by TAS defaulted to their authors/speakers. As a result, Mrs Hsieh was correct in her assertion that I needed to seek her permission in order to use them after all. In addition to this I made comments speculating on her state of mental health in which I must confess to feeling inordinate amounts of anger at the time. I opted to avoid a confrontation (either legal or moral) to not use the lectures at the meeting in question after all. I apologize to Diana not only for my incorrect judgement in assuming I could use them and for the statements that came from me afterward. I have communicated my apologies to her in an email in which she seems to have forgiven me and I post this apology as I meant no initial harm with my actions but had gotten angry afterwards none the less. The reality is that Mrs Hsieh was right, I was wrong. I hope she can understand my actions for what happened at the time and I take responsibility for and completely retract the (albeit irrational) statements I made during and after that period. Subsequently, this post is also to announce that as of October 5th my Objectivist club will associate with/support the Ayn Rand Institute. It has been great posting and interacting with you all on these boards. However, my time spent on OL maybe lessened not only because of my changing camps but also because I expect that I might have more activities down the line to tend to in my personal life. Thank you all for your time.
  2. Google "Rothbard Lenin" you will see the relevant article where Rothbard writes appreciatingly about Lenin's revolutionary ideals. As far as Israel is concerned, criticize the country all you want but your criticisms ring hollow since (like I said earlier) you twist the facts to fit your prejudice. If you are an Objectivist you have a moral obligation to the truth. I think I read somewhere that facts are facts regardless if you want to ignore them or not want them to be so. Also, have a look at this quote from a famous Muslim 14th Century Muslim scholar. You will see the jihadist line of thought goes back even then which was long before the U.S. existed: In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations. - ibn-Khaldun
  3. Interesting! I will have to get out my copy of Honoring the Self and re-read it. If you have not already read Honoring the Self, you may find a number of Branden's insights illuminating, particularly with respect to the issue of mind-body dualism.
  4. Joshua Zader had this to say about the article: I suspect most Objectivists, and especially those who don’t have any background in Eastern teachings, will choke hard on his transrational comments. I mean, once you’ve found the value of reason, who wants to listen to someone talk about the indivisibly whole Over-Soul? Yet, for those of us who’ve found value in the writings of teachers like Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti — and the sense of personal liberation that comes from adopting a psychological perspective that is somewhat “outside” the self without renouncing the self in any way — there is something eerily powerful about reading Yasuhiko’s words. It is this: It’s rare to encounter someone who can understand and embrace both worlds — and especially while actively appreciating, even loving, Rand’s perspective so fully. I don't have a background in Eastern philosophy or belief systems in order to better understand what the author is talking about. In some sense I am glad the author speaks glowingly of Ayn Rand and embraces individualism yet he also seems to want to have his cake and eat it too when it comes to the cosmic consciousness he speaks of. I am not saying the author is collectivist but his essay seems to have smatterings of such logic. That doesn't sit well with me.
  5. I came across the article by an author who is a Buddhist philosopher. While I think he tends to mix his points and doesn't seem to know very much about Objectivism, he does heavily draw from Ayn Rand to make his case. I don't know if I agree with him but I can see where he is coming from.
  6. Mark, you are discrediting yourself and demonstrating your irrationality with each post you make since you are using nothing more than strawman arguments. As far as your assertions that Zionists collaborated with Nazi's the source of this accusation is questionable since the Jews Against Zionism group you cite is against the state of Israel because it was not created or given to the Jews by God as foretold in the Old Testament. That being the case, groups like JAZ will work to undermine Israel until God finally gives them their state. Being that I am an atheist (and I assume you are to) you know that in reality it will never happen since there aren't any gods or supernatural planes or beings that exist. In terms of the affiliation or relations that Israel had with the USSR, while a mistake, it is not an indication of wrongdoing per se but a logical and diplomatic mistake on the part of Israel at the time. I can't speak for why the Israelis had close relations with the USSR and only they can answer. It's possible because the Zionists were communists and wanted to have relations with Mother Russia. Rather than seek the truth it seems instead you seek to slander using evidence that fits your bias to make your case. I have studied Middle Eastern politics and foreign policy intricately and after doing so concluded that the U.S. is right to stand by Israel. She is not only our staunchest ally in the war against the jihadists but also because she is a bulwark against them with an excellent military and clandestine apparatus to do so. You also completely ignore or are oblivious to the underlying philosophy of the jihadist groups since it is that mysticial outlook that drives them to do what they do. Let's not forget that Israel itself is a quasi-Westernized country with a functioning democracy, fairly independent courts that any Israeli citizen can access to resolve a dispute and a fairly free economy. An island of some semblance of sanity that is surrounded by theocratic despots yet you call for Israel's demise. As far as Ben-Guiron admiring Vladimir Lenin, Murray Rothbard had an affinity for Lenin too. To your making this an issue I say: ho-hum. Men can have affinities for evil people but it does not mean that they are right. Today, however, Israel's parliament is controlled by a center-right party whose platform calls for the deregulation of the country's economy, lifting taxes and privatize numerous state-owned services. Are you saying this is bad or that Israel should still be sacrificed despite it being a Westernized country? As to the U.S.S. Liberty if you bothered to dig deeper you will see that Israel immediately apologized for the affair and sent compensation to the injured and dead service member's families. The U.S.S. Liberty was a serious mistake and Israel owned up for it happening in the best manner possible. It is unfortunate that instead of truly doing a true investigation into the facts you instead seek to slander or misrepresent. Shame on you.
  7. Mark, you are entitled to your opinion about Israel but you are dead wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood's founder was a man named Hassan al-Banna who was a Nazi sympathizer and was active in one of the Middle Eastern Nazi regiments during World War II. Google "Banna Nazi" and you will see the relevant evidence. Also, look at pictures of Hamas (supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran) rallies in which you will see numerous photos of people saluting with their arms extended out in the Nazi salute. What we are up against is an extension of what came out of Nazi Germany except what makes the Islamists more dangerous than Nazis is that their commandments are coming from Allah as revealed to them by like-minded Imams rather than the Fuhrer. In terms of your making an issue about the Lavon Affair, keep in mind what the context of the operation was the result of. I think Guiron did what he did because of numerous terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel that was under Egyptian control and obviously was sanctioned by Nasser himself. Consequently Israel retaliated. This being the case the Israelis were ultimately justified in doing what they did. Their only mistake was trying to cover it up which was wrong. But the main premise is this: Israel was attacked so she retaliated.
  8. Watch the film Iranium and you will see how it does. It isn't just the three groups I mentioned that Iran supports but other terrorist efforts as well. Including the radicalization of Muslims via their funding of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Also, if you want to know one of the main reasons for the anti-Semitism/radicalization of Muslims, have a look at this:
  9. George, Will you answer Dennis's point? I would be interested in seeing what you have to say in response to it. I think libertarians tend to view rights as some abstract concept they have little knowledge of grasping. I am sure this is not indicative of you, of course. However, in terms of libertarian anarchists I think many view consistency as the reason why they are anarchists rather than morality. Hence, anarchists treat rights as intrinsic values rather than moral principles derived from reality.
  10. I realize (and I am sure Ms. Rand did as well) that the U.S. or any free country could not take all of them out at one time or in all cases. Therefore, it makes sense for the U.S. and it's allies to take out dictatorships that pose the most direct threat. In the case of terrorism, it clearly is Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both countries not only export their orthodox brand of Islam in the sects they are geared towards (Sunni and Shia) but also fund groups that radicalize Muslims who, in turn, arm and train terrorists. Iran gives direct support to groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah I believe in addition to supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. As both The Third Jihad and Iranium outline, the Islamists believe it is their duty as commanded by Allah to convert the world to Islam and conduct acts of violence or stealth jihad in order to accomplish this aim. The U.S. is not conducting perpetual war for perpetual peace but is defending itself and its allies against an enemy hostile to our way of life. George W. Bush was right that the Islamists do hate us for our freedoms. This being case we cannot afford to be weak and need to take the gloves off when it comes to dealing with this threat.
  11. Hello Melissa, I echo the sentiments expressed by the others on this thread that you are not alone. However, if FRO is not affordable for you I would suggest starting your own Objectivist salon. When I became an atheist I started studying Objectivism and have headed an Objectivist salon for a little over 5 years. The experience has been great! Being able to organize events and meetings where you get to meet new and interesting people who are like-minded. You could be a contrast to FRO and be a little more appealing to people who would like to study the philosophy but, like you, can't afford the cost of attending FRO meetings. If you would like some pointers on how and what to do please let me know. It will take a little bit of money but you can recoup the costs with people helping you out and possibly raise money to fund other projects. Feel free to message me privately if you would like and I can give you advice on what to do and advise you on how it's done. Being an Objectivist can be lonely but it doesn't have to be that way. You have to make your own social circle and its not hard to do.
  12. Interesting! Are you a practitioner or someone knowledgeable about Buddhism? The word choice "kill him" is a very radical one. Its radicalness goes deeper than a mere admonition "Don't deify him". The "kill him" means that it is necessary to really destroy something, and what is to be destroyed is the veil behind which lies true enlightenment. So in order to reach true enlightenment, it is necessary to tear up the veil.
  13. This is a play supposedly written by that damned mee-stick Murray Rothbard. Despite my not liking him, this cracked me up.
  14. I apologize I overlooked your question regarding my friend's reconciling Objectivism and Buddhism. I asked him if Zen involved mysticism in which he replied that some practitioners or variants of the philosophy subscribe to mysticism but the variant he learned does not. The school of Zen he learned when he was in Vietnam involves breathing and relaxation techniques which involve meditation in order to be able to think better. I believe this also includes being able to retrieve memories from or better utilize your subconscious mind. What happens to us after this life depends on how we conduct ourselves in this present life. The path to Heaven is not by faith or worship, but by doing good and avoiding evil. - Buddhist saying How does he reconcile Buddhist ideas like "all life is suffering" with Ayn Rand's contrary position? The same goes for the idea of reincarnation. Wouldn't this be the classic case of a contradiction? Per Ayn Rand (expressing it via D'Anconia's word's in AS), contradictions do not exist: AS, p. 199: "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." Where is the wrong premise here?
  15. While I am not a practicioner I believe that Buddhists recognize people suffer and think that if people follow their philosophy it will/can help them end it and live a happier life. In terms of reincarnation and other forms of mysticism, my understanding is that the Buddhists who believe in that are the Mahayanas. As near as I can tell the Theravadins believe that one is reborn (i.e. reincarnated) when a practicioner has achieved enlightenment (a.k.a. Nirvana) which is a state of mind and do not believe in supernatural rebirth or other forms of mysticism. If a Theravadin does it is a choice they have made on their own and not due to official policy. My reasons for bringing up Buddhism wasn't necessarily to make a statement that Rand's philosophy and Buddhism as philosophies are similar (they are not). But the debate in the 2 factions of the East's philosophy and what is going on in Objectivism to determine if Rand was a perfect individual (i.e. deify her) or not are. If Buddhism and Objectivism are similar it is only on the surface and not when one goes deeper into the details. For example, Buddhism tends to subscribe to some semblances of self sacrifice, whereas Objectivism does not. However, a Buddhist does not sacrifice his or her freedom of thought by becoming a follower of Buddha anymore than an Objectivist sacrifices their individuality by following Rand. Yet both seek refuge in either philosophy with the goal of becoming enlightened or living a good life. No need to wait for death, experience Heaven while you are still alive. Heaven right here and now, is the taste of Nibbana (i.e. Nirvana) in this very life. - Buddhist saying How does he reconcile Buddhist ideas like "all life is suffering" with Ayn Rand's contrary position? The same goes for the idea of reincarnation. Wouldn't this be the classic case of a contradiction? Per Ayn Rand (expressing it via D'Anconia's word's in AS), contradictions do not exist: AS, p. 199: "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." Where is the wrong premise here?
  16. I want to make a distinction. This post should not be taken that there should not be standards to determine what is or is not compatible or an elaboration of Objectivism and if someone becomes belligerent to you because you study Objectivism I say it is appropriate to stand your ground. Case in point is last month we had an anarchist libertarian visit our group who tried to use the occasion to argue his points on intellectual property and foreign policy. Including ethics when it comes to war. Myself and the other group members made it clear to him in no uncertain terms what the correct position was in terms of Objectivism's stand/position on each of the topics he brought up and presented evidence that clearly contradicted his assertions which he clearly did not like. Instead the individual in question used the occasion not only to drive his point(s) home but also wanted us to accept his point of view in an attempt to argue with us since he wanted to communicate with us that he felt we were wrong. Naturally we didn't let him get away with it and I had to remind him numerous times to behave or he would be told to leave. At no time was he told that he was wrong. We presented the evidence that was relevant to his point(s) and told him the facts from an Objectivist perspective. He chose not to believe us which was his choice and we did not belittle him or insult him. I texted him the next day telling him that, while the exchange we had was very spirited he would not be allowed to act like he did again or he would be told to leave. I flatly told him if he acted like he did again it would not be tolerated. I went on to tell him instead of coming to learn he decided to use the occasion to argue. He replied that he was not interested in my religious echo chamber, pseudo-philosophy group and went on to accuse us of being a cult. I replied stating that his argumentation showed he refused to accept facts despite being shown evidence contrary to his assertions. There was another first timer who was present that evening who was polite and thoughtful with his points as well as used a lot of tact during the discussions that we on. I went on to tell him he was welcome to return. The policy of my group is that all friendly people with an interest in learning about Objectivism are welcome to attend. In this instance the argumentative individual was anything but friendly and, consequently, he was told to behave next time or he would be kicked out. Simultaneously, the philosophy and groups that sprout up to support it and people who subscribe to it should not be all things to all people.
  17. Mark since you are an Objectivist, I would remind you what Ayn Rand said with regards to dictatorships: "The right of a nation to determine its own form of government does not include the right to establish a slave society (that is, to legalize the enslavement of some men by others). There is no such thing as “the right to enslave.” A nation can do it, just as a man can become a criminal—but neither can do it by right. It does not matter, in this context, whether a nation was enslaved by force, like Soviet Russia, or by vote, like Nazi Germany. Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). Whether a slave society was conquered or chose to be enslaved, it can claim no national rights and no recognition of such “rights” by civilized countries . . . . Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses." In addition to Ms. Rand's statement and her experience in the Soviet Union, my family also experienced what a dictatorship was like. My family lived in Italy when Benito Mussolini was dictator and dictatorships are like cancers since once established they will oft times support violent and non-violent ideological causes in order to further their aims in an effort to enslave the populace of surrounding nations. It was moral for the U.S. to invade Iraq and execute Saddam Hussein. The way the war was handled was messy and I do not excuse the idiotic decisions made during and after that invasion including the U.S.'s capitulation to allow the Iraqi constitution to allow for or be based on Sharia law. None the less there was evidence that Hussein was giving some sort of support to terrorists and President Bush, rightly, did put terrorist groups and countries that support them on notice that their activities would not be tolerated. He followed through but I think he should have gone after Iran and not Iraq. The facts I have stated above are indisputable and you are doing yourself a disservice by ignoring them. No one (including myself) likes war and to see innocent people die. However, if you have an enemy that is hell bent on killing you and destroying the society you live in, what it stands for and (as the movies linked above clearly point out) has openly said so then we have a right to defend ourselves by any means necessary.
  18. Thanks, Dennis. As it turns out I am good friends with a guy who is an Objectivist and simultaneously (believe it or not) a Zen Master. He learned about Zen while serving in Vietnam and was long before he had ever heard of Ayn Rand. He is very knowledgeable about Buddhism itself, respectfully, and told me something very profound. He said that when Buddha was going around teaching people his philosophy, there was a group of his followers who wanted to make him superhuman (i.e. a god). Buddha shunned any such idea saying specifically that he was not a god and did not want to be made into one even after he died. He said if you want to be a good person or lead a good life, follow his philosophy. Well soon after passing away, the group of mystic Buddhists (now known as the Mahayana sect) went ahead and made Buddha into a god anyway. The other Buddhist sect (Theravada) is the orthodox school and as near as I can tell eschews any kind of mysticism including making Buddha out to be superhuman. A similar struggle or debate is present in the Objectivist movement. Up until recently ARI tried to make the case in an attempt to deify Ayn Rand by making her out to be a perfect individual who created a philosophy and was taken advantage of some deceitful people (i.e. Nathaniel and Barbara Branden). You have the other sect (TAS) who studies her philosophy but believes that Rand (while a wonderful person who founded an excellent philosophy) had faults like anyone else. It is interesting that the debate about whether Ayn Rand was perfect is going on in the Objectivist movement and that a similar debate is going on in Buddhism about whether Buddha was superhuman.
  19. I have just finished reading an article entitled Killing the Buddha done by Sam Harris (link below). As you all may know Harris is best known for his books The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. In his opinion piece Harris expresses an appreciation for Buddhism but states that it is because it is viewed and practiced as a religion that that is why it may not spread or become more popular than the Abrahamic faiths. Harris uses an ancient Buddhist saying to make his point in which one 9th century Buddhist monk named Li Chi is quoted as saying If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him. The monk used this analogy or statement to make the point that if you make Buddhism into a religion, you will rob it of the essence of what the Buddha taught. Harris's main point of his op-ed is that despite practitioners of Buddhism claiming it is a philosophy most followers treat it as if it is a religion. Then there is Objectivism. Unfortunately, there are many subscribers to Objectivism who have decided to make it a religion and follow through as such. Yet it is because of religious Objectivists that may have robbed the philosophy of its essence since they want to be mini-Rands (like Leonard Peikoff) going around their social circles or the world itself preaching from soapboxes in order to lecture people in an attempt to convince them to follow the philosophy. But if a person openly questions or disagrees with their points about certain subjects they risk (and often times are) kicked out or declared persona-non-grata. I must admit that since becoming more familiar with the philosophy it has filled a void in my life and have followed up with starting an Objectivist club that has met for a little over 5 years. However, I have always been of the mindset that the philosophy is my road map and tried to keep myself from making it my entire life. Yet there are people who will always deride Objectivism as being a cult because it is a coherent, integrated, and unified system of thought that is very clear and consistent. However, I think Li Chi's advice is relevant not in a literal sense and just in terms of Buddhism but in terms of Objectivism as well. Thanks to people, like Leonard Peikoff, who have made Objectivism into a religion, they are the philosophy's worst enemy. http://www.samharris...ing-the-buddha/
  20. If you would like to watch Iranium I it can still be viewed for free at Hulu.
  21. Mark, you would have more credibility if you actually watched the movie and had not spoken without knowing what you are talking about. You also should know that people like Dr. Zudhi Jasser (who is a devout Muslim), ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Islamic scholar and author Dr. Bernard Lewis are also interviewed in the film. Lewis is also interviewed quite a few times in Iranium as well. He is interviewed more times in both movies than the people you complained about in your original post. Despite the ideological bent of the people you reel against did it ever occur to you that they may actually be right? Are you really that blind that you will cast aside any objectivity all in the name of holding on to your preconceived notions about U.S. foreign policy at whatever cost despite the fact that the facts may contradict your original conclusions? If so, Mikee is right. You are insane.
  22. I just entered the email address "nospam@nospam.com" and was able to watch the movie without having to give my actual one. I did not see anything that lead me to conclude it purported some kind of conspiracy but it did lay out some very important facts. I liked the fact that the film pointed out the Saudi's support of the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood's spearheading the creation of groups like CAIR and the Muslim Students Association along with the Ikhwan's document uncovered in 1991 that outlines their plan to conduct stealth jihad in the U.S. I am glad The Third Jihad touched on Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and why it would be disastrous for the regime to obtain them. If you want a more detailed look at why Iran must be prevented from getting nukes Iranium does a good job of looking at this. One vital point I was disappointed was left out was the link between radical Islam and Hitler via the Grand Mufti of Palestine. The Mufti's admiration and assistance to Germany's war efforts against the allies and how it contributed to the spread anti-Semitism in the region and radicalization of Muslims.
  23. One other thing, the film's point about oil being the enabler of terrorism is wrong but the rest of the information is solid.
  24. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11th, The Clarion Fund which financed the making of the film has made it available for free to watch online for a limited time. The Salafis are supported directly by the Saudi monarchy in which this movement in Islam has been the pet of the House of Saud since the 17th century when the Saudi chief took ibn Al-Wahhab under his wing after being introduced to the king by the Saudi king's sons. The reality is that 9/11 happened because of terrorists inspired by the ideology outlined in this movie and was not the result of U.S. foreign policy. You need look no further than the terrorist's main backer Osama bin-Laden who was a devout Salafist/Wahhabi and had declared war on the U.S. in the late 1990's and shortly thereafter followed through stating it was legitimate to kill Americans. My Objectivist club hosted a viewing of this movie and the reactions we got from the audience ranged from surprise, shock, if not outright anger. Those of you wondering and (dare I say) in denial about the threat of radical Islam should give this movie a look. The Third Jihad lays out how and why the Islamism being perpetuated by countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran are a threat to the United States and Western civilization. http://www.thethirdj...om/10-year-911/