Mike Renzulli

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  1. I realize this news article is a year old but thought it might be of interest. I know many Objectivists have found similarities with and even go so far as to practice Buddhism but this is an event that surprised me. I have been reading up mainly on Theravada Buddhism recently to try to understand the interest among Objectivists with Buddha's philosophy. This is one stark example of how in addition to Buddhism's overall embracing self-sacrifice, Theravada (which is as close to the original teachings of Buddha himself) embraces mysticism despite it's tacit rejection of it (i.e. atheism) and Buddhism's rejection of a God as well as its many followers touting it being a philosophy and not a religion. “Those who become bored by conventional “Bible” religions, and seek “enlightenment” by way of the dissolution of their own critical faculties into nirvana in any form, had better take a warning. They may think they are leaving the realm of despised materialism, but they are still being asked to put their reason to sleep, and to discard their minds along with their sandals.” - Christopher Hitchens, "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/25/abortion-reform-buddhism-thailand The discovery of more than 2,000 foetuses stored at a Bangkok temple has made front-page news across Thailand. As most abortion is illegal in Thailand, the case has shone a spotlight on a massive backstreet industry and sparked national debate about the country's current abortion laws, which date from the 1950s. With abortion routinely recognised as a "sin" in Theravada Buddhism, religion has played a significant social and political role in this debate. The undertaker at Wat Phai Ngern is accused of accepting regular deliveries of foetuses in plastic bags from an intermediary, who was paid by clinics to dispose of them discreetly. Buddhist temples are often used to store bodies prior to cremation but, with the local crematorium out of order, complaints about the smell led to the discovery of the operation. The bags are thought to have come from up to 20 different locations, sparking a crackdown on 3,900 suspected illegal clinics nationwide. In 1993 the Thai health ministry estimated there were 80,000 illegal abortions a year. An earlier study suggested the total was closer to 300,000. In urban areas doctors are responsible for many of the illegal abortions by providing them for congenital disorders and HIV infections. This is despite the fact the law only permits abortions in cases of rape or physical risk to the woman's health. Illegality means that medical standards remain low – a study in 1993 found that over 1% of women attending regional hospital for illegal abortions subsequently died due to complications. Theravada Buddhism in Thailand is a socially conservative force. About 95% of the population are Buddhist and Buddhism remains closely tied to the state. Sociologist James Hughes explains that most eastern Buddhist commentators, through an acceptance of karmic rebirth, believe consciousness begins at conception. Therefore, "all abortion incurs the karmic burden of killing". While some monks such as Phra Thepwethi believe in a "middle way" (which regards abortion as a sin, but sometimes as the best option) the framing of abortion in terms of sin still has a significant cultural influence. A survey of women who had had abortions found that more than half were fearful of community exposure and a third worried that they would suffer bad karma. Andrea Whittaker, in her book, Abortion, Sin and the State in Thailand also explains that "fear of bap (sin) is the most common reason given by women with unplanned pregnancies for why they didn't abort". Thai Buddhism has also had a key political role in maintaining current abortion laws, which have remained unchanged since 1956. Public discussions on reform began in the 1970s and culminated in 1981 by passing of amendment in the House of Representatives. This proposed widening the legality of abortion to include considerations of mental wellbeing, congenital abnormalities and some cases of contraceptive failure. However, Major General Chamlong Srimuang mobilised a powerful religious coalition to successfully lobby against the amendment. Chamlong's intervention marked a more overt role for Buddhism in politics. He is a member of the Buddhist movement Santi Asoke, whose founder, Phra Phothirak, challenged the idea that Thai monks should not comment on contemporary social issues. Phothirak believed that monks had a duty to speak out to oppose abortion as the killing of human life, arguing that "those who say they are religious but who don't say anything don't know about religion or morality". The Santi Asoke sect, which broke away from the Buddhist sangha in 1989, has been described as "radical Buddhism" for its anti-modernist conservatism and strict monastic codes. Chamlong, now a leading political figure, is responsible for the political wing of the Santi Asoke movement. For these followers, abortion is linked to the influence of western promiscuity and is "un-Buddhist, anti-religious and therefore un-Thai". Members from the mainstream Buddhist sanga also continue to oppose the liberalisation of abortion laws. After a conference in 2006 where NGOs called for the wider legalisation of abortion, a monk named Phra Mahamanoj responded: "We Buddhists … firmly disagree with legal abortion and the destruction of life. If you don't want something to happen, don't do it." Following the recent temple discovery, leading monks have again been speaking out. Phramaha Vudhijaya Vajiramedhi was unequivocal: "In [the] Buddhist view, both having an abortion and performing an abortion amount to murder. Those involved in abortions will face distress in both this life and the next because their sins will follow them." The scandal has given momentum to calls for political reform. A Democrat MP has proposed a bill on "consensual and necessary abortions", which would liberalise current laws. This has been supported by Maytinee Bhongsvej, of the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women (APSW), but she believes that change will be difficult to implement. "People's attitudes are the major obstacle. For Thai society, abortion is a sin," she says. The prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has ruled out any legal changes, saying that the current laws are "good enough". Thai advocacy groups like Women's Health Advocacy Foundation point out that liberalising abortion laws would be in line with public opinion, would align the law more closely with the realities of current abortion provision and would also significantly reduce preventable medical complications. However, any reform must contend with Theravada Buddhism – which, with its integral part in political and social structures, retains a significant influence over the debate on abortion in Thailand.
  2. With statements like this the term Gas Chamber Mentality seems to come to mind.
  3. Now, now, Jeff. No need to get defensive. I would hope you and the others who reel against my essay can appreciate someone like myself having the integrity to raise questions that provoke controversy and new thought outside the libertarian/Objectivist monestary. Furthermore, the conclusions I have drawn with regards not only to terrorism but also operations like AWC are the result of lots of observation on my part having gone from antiwar to pro-self defense. It is unfortunate that when one raises questions that such a response from people such as yourself would be grounded in a defensive posture rather than taking the time to ask why people like myself came to the conclusions I did and now take a different view. Therein lies the problem in many libertarian circles I frequent(ed) and your response is an indication of this. They are so wrapped up in their own mantras they tend to refuse to consider if the conclusions they drew with regards to issues (like war and foreign policy) are wrong and instead of trying to understand the point of view of the dissenter they, instead, resort to ad-hominem attacks. As to the points I raise in the essay is that the enemy within speaks through Antiwar.com and I divulged my reasons for why I came to my conclusions. But are Antiwar.com and other libertarian organizations receiving Stealth Jihad funding? That I am not sure.
  4. I happened upon a thread made by Antiwar.com staff member Angela Keaton on Facebook about how her group was the subject of an federal investigation as revealed by recently declassified F.B.I. documents. What is disgusting about the commentary written by Justin Raimondo Keaton linked to not only was it being used to raise money for the website but also attempted to make Antiwar.com out to be victims of a government conspiracy against them. Raimondo claims such actions on the part of federal agents are geared to silence dissent on the part of antiwar/peace groups and activists. Then I got to thinking. Last year some antiwar groups (so called) were the subject of a federal investigation in which one Minnesota activist named Mick Kelly had his house raided resulting from the F.B.I. having evidence that he was willing to help train members of Columbia's communist rebel group (FARC). It was also discovered by federal agents that Kelly had a relationship with Hatem Abudayyeh who also had his home raided the same time as Kelly's. Abudayyeh is the director of the Arab American Action Network is alleged to have ties to Islamist groups and is also under investigation for potentially laundering half a million dollars in government grants. In the case of Antiwar.com, the group posted a publicly available terrorist watch list on their website and commentaries by Antiwar.com authors were passed out at anti war protests. This, in turn, prompted the F.B.I. to initiate an investigation to determine if the employees or owners of the website were spies or terrorist sympathizers. I think the fact that the F.B.I. has investigated Antiwar.com raises questions about the website itself. With such words posted on Antiwar.com does Justin Raimondo really think his website's supporters are such simpletons that they do not think or know the implications of what an F.B.I. investigation really means? Despite what Angela Keaton, Justin Raimondo, and Eric Garris may tell you the investigation (if any) is not being done to silence dissidents on the war on terrorism. Admittedly I do not have any evidence to prove it and can only hypothesize. But I would not be surprised if it is later revealed that websites such as Antiwar.com along with groups that further conspiracy theories about 9/11 are having or have had money funneled to them via direct or indirect means from political Islamists as part of an effort on their part to undermine U.S. military and clandestine efforts in the middle east to stop terrorism. This being done in order to disseminate false or misleading information hoping to create doubt in the public's minds about U.S. foreign policy in the court of public opinion. If you think I am off my rocker, consider that dictatorships will send money or support like-minded groups or efforts that match the philosophy the people who make up such regimes subscribe to up to and including disseminating propaganda. The Soviet Union was notorious for funneling money to violent and non-violent communistic efforts. Similar activities go on today with countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia sending generous amounts of money to groups that match their version of Islam. Saudi Arabia supports the Salafi/Wahhabi movement while Iran supports groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood yet in addition to their theological outlook contributing to the radicalization of Muslims their efforts also include disseminating misleading information geared to further their purposes. The Council on Foreign Relations has a comprehensive report up at their website on how terrorists and groups that support them use the internet as part of their efforts to disseminate misinformation in addition to coordinate activities involving violence too. In many ways I am not surprised that Justin Raimondo and other Antiwar.com staff members would make themselves out to be victims of a conspiracy to silence them. However, if the example of antiwar group raids that occured last year are any indication, the F.B.I. will not subject people to scrutiny unless they had or have some concrete evidence to go on and their agents will investigate potential leads if it matches a particular case that was or is open under the organization's jurisdiction. Because of the possibility that the F.B.I. has evidence that the group behind Antiwar.com might be the recipient of funds from sources with ties to terrorist organizations that's why they were (and possibly still are) under investigation. That's why the F.B.I. raided (so called) antiwar organization's headquarters last year since there was hard evidence of contact or potential ties with terrorists. If it is determined that Antiwar.com is receiving money from Islamist groups the group could end up in the same boat as the communist organizations and individuals who were the subject of F.B.I. raids in 2010. To her credit and in fairness, after I raised this issue Angela Keaton stated my point(s) were baseless. But we have yet to hear from Justin Raimondo or Eric Garris if they also deny their operation could be supported by Islamists as part of a misinformation effort and if the group will now screen out who their contributors are and refuse donations from questionable sources. It would be interesting to see if Garris, Raimondo and other antiwar libertarians are open evidence that contradict their conclusion that U.S. foreign policy was the reason for terrorism in the U.S. and abroad and (if proven wrong) they are willing to change their minds. Time will tell if Antiwar.com and other like-minded individuals such as Alex Jones, and groups like Iraq Vets Against the War as well as even candidates who have run and are running for office are supported by Islamist money or not. Regardless if Antiwar.com is the direct or indirect recipient of funds from groups with ties to terrorists, in the end, all they should be remembered for is how they were one of many means to the end of Political Islamist's efforts to undermine (if not outright destroy) Western Civilization. If the United States collapses from within as a result of the Stealth Jihad on the part of Islamist groups the people to thank for helping to make it a reality it will be the result of groups, like Antiwar.com, that helped make it happen.
  5. I where Dennis is coming from and tend to agree with a lot of what he says. Matter of fact, I don't see anything by him (yet) that I disagree with. I am glad he is keeping his cool while others on these boards take him to task. Though at times I do find myself questioning if his critics really are Objectivists or libertarians for that matter. I appreciate the support, Brant. I'm not 100% sure that's what you intended to convey, but that's how I'm taking it. Thanks. Dennis
  6. It gets worse, everyone. I came across another recent blog post on this same subject that was published earlier this month. This is not coming from some off the wall critic with an axe to grind, but a former subscriber to Paul's newsletter: http://freestudents.blogspot.com/2011/08/charming-reminder-of-ugly-side-of-dr-no.html The kind of statements the Classically Liberal blog author cites are venomous, if not outright outrageous, to say the least. Paul has a lot more explaining to do regarding this issue and I think it is imcumbent upon him to come clean about the content of the news letters in question. Until and unless he does, as libertarians or liberty lovers we should not tolerate a racist, homophobe, xenophobe, and anti-Semite within our ranks.
  7. If there is one thing libertarians should be concerned about it is what Ron Paul hasn't said about the Ron Paul Newsletters. I know to many of you this maybe old news but a recent article I read has given me a fresh and new perspective on them: http://adamholland.blogspot.com/2011/05/unanswered-questions-why-ron-pauls.html The author, Adam Holland, makes some very good points. For example, he found out that the newsletters originally came to light in 1996 when Paul ran for Congress. Paul's staff not only confirmed their content but even went so far as to defend them to the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American Statesman claiming they were insignificant. Furthermore, Holland goes on to point out: n 2008, Paul claimed that the columns, which he had said that he had written, which were written in the first person and which included references to his family life and other personal touches, had been ghost-written by someone of whose identity he was somehow uncertain. He claimed that it was completely plausible that he would allow people he did not know to author such columns for him, and that he would go on to publish them without prior review to his supporters in newsletters bearing his name in their titles. Such defenses by Dr. Paul insult those who legitimately want information about this troubling side of his record. Paul's answers to these legitimate question do not treat with appropriate gravity a very serious matter. They are not only inconsistent, they are self-contradictory. They are not only implausible, they are impossible. The questions that need to be answered by Paul is who was the author of the newsletters? If they were (as previously speculated by Reason magazine in 2008) authored by Lew Rockwell why does Paul still associate with him? Why, as Holland points out, didn't Paul not only disavow the newsletters but also conduct a complete investigation and go public with his findings? Why didn't Paul make efforts to halt their publication or if they were in his name and why didn't he make an effort to review what was being published and spike questionable content if, in fact, he reviles racism? Also, there is the conspiracy crowd too. For example, despite Paul's denial that he felt that there was a government conspiracy behind 9/11 why does he appear and even go so far as to court the audiences of such people like Alex Jones? I was at a conference here in Phoenix during 2009 in which almost the entire line up of speakers and the overall tone of it was a sewer of conspiratorialism. Ron Paul came and gave a speech at the Freedom Summit in which he was one of the keynote speakers. I agree with Adam Holland that Paul's defenses regarding the newsletters raise more questions than they answer. Until such time that Paul does answer specific points on this controversy I think it best that libertarians reconsider their support of Paul and (if the GOP is the party of their choice) look elsewhere in the Republican camp for a candidate to support.
  8. http://www.nativenewsnetwork.com/former-aim-leader-russell-means-diagnosed-with-life-threatening-throat-cancer.html "Russell Means, Lakota, who gained international notoriety as a leader of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s, has been diagnosed with throat cancer and was told he only has several months to live."
  9. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/61199.html Perry film created by an atheist By: Dave Levinthal August 12, 2011 09:39 AM EDT Texas Gov. Rick Perry is slated to feature a video at his Saturday presidential announcement that includes religious statements and scenes of a family at prayer. That wouldn’t be unusual for Perry — the devout Christian who last week led a massive, day-long prayer rally in Houston — but for the video’s producer: an avowed atheist. Minnesota filmmaker Michael Wilson — best known for his 2004 documentary film “Michael Moore Hates America” — told POLITICO that Perry “built a part of his announcement speech around it, which is amazing – I had no idea it would turn into this.” In the video, a man, woman and two tow-headed children, eyes closed, fold their hands and pray around a table as a narrator says, “No matter what they’re raised to believe, my children should know that faith is none of the government’s business.” The video, with an Independence Day theme, also talks of financial prosperity, limited government, health care choice and the “simple beauty of free markets.” Perry is slated to hit on those themes in his speech in Charleston, S.C., Saturday. “The change we seek will never emanate out of Washington,” he will say, according to a draft of his remarks. “It will come from the windswept prairies of middle America; the farms and factories across this great land; the hearts and minds of God-fearing Americans — who will not accept a future that is less than our past, who will not be consigned a fate of less freedom in exchange for more government.” Although Wilson does not believe in God, he says he’s “not an evangelical atheist” and doesn’t hold Perry’s faith against him because “the Constitution allows us freedom of religion, and that extends to public officials.” RedState.com co-founder Joshua Trevino initially suggested he make the film, Wilson said, “and from there, it just came from the heart.” A RedState.com gathering of conservative bloggers and activists will double as Perry’s announcement event. Perry’s campaign site, RickPerry.org, notes Wilson’s video in a July 20 blog post, saying that producer “Michael in Minnesota” won a Perry-sponsored film contest and that the film would be featured at the “RedState Gathering” at which Perry would appear. The RickPerry.org blog post came more than two weeks before confirmation that Perry would run for president. “Michael’s video embodies the continuously profound ideas of limited government and personal liberty that allow Americans to prosper through hard work and provide for their families,” RickPerry.org wrote. “And although these ideas that our nation was built on are under attack from overreaching government, Americans like Michael remind us what we must work hard to preserve.” To date, Wilson said, he is not on Perry’s payroll, but would be open to working on Perry’s campaign. Regardless, he added, “I plan to be involved a lot in politics during this election cycle.” A Perry representative couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Wilson says he supports Perry for president largely because of his economic record. “Economically, you can’t disparage him in any way. You can’t dispute what he’s done as governor in Texas,” Wilson said. Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history, having occupied the office since 2000. During his prayer rally earlier this month, Perry read from the Bible and frequently petitioned Jesus Christ to help people “who cannot see the light in the midst of all the darkness.” “Lord, you are the source of every good thing, you are our only hope,” Perry told a crowd of 30,000 at Reliant Stadium. “And as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness.”
  10. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iXCFMu_c0e-nuEhp5wy3Jm1TIUIw?docId=1c1e9fe30bc345f0a264eee62b0f7aa7 "Texas Gov. Rick Perry is running for president, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, a move certain to shake up the race for the GOP nomination much to the delight of conservatives looking for a candidate to embrace."
  11. I originally thought the same thing but concluded later that I think Nick tends to read into things too much. The contradiction he sees of thinks there is in Objectivist philosophy and government is one of them. I think what needs to be kept in mind is that Rand new there would be places that did not necesarily want government and might be able to be self-governing as indicated by her writing about the community Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart visited just outside of the plant where they found John Galt's motor. However, like she and I think other Objectivist authors concluded man's nature requires government. James Madison made this point in The Federalst Papers that If men were angels no government would be necessary.
  12. Allow me to introduce my good friend, Nick Coons everyone. He is an entrepreneur extraordinaire and one helluva great guy! Nick also happens to be one of the board members of the up-and-coming Rational Mind Institute and as you all can see he is a very inqusitive, intelligent and thoughtful individual. To address your point about trying to find out if your anarchist position being wrong according to Objectivism, (speaking for myself) I don't think its necessarily that you are wrong, Nick. I just think deep down you just prefer to use private alternatives to government services (i.e. police, courts, etc.) which I am sympathetic to myself and have no problem with if you choose that route in order to conduct business. However, like I explained to you before I think we need government in order to settle cases of disputes as well as to protect people from force and fraud. If people prefer an arbitration company to settle a dispute they have and are willing to agree to let the decision the arbiters come to as being the result of their case, go for it. However, if one party is not satisified with the outcome or would rather litigate in a government provided court of law a judge can settle it once and for all in which doing so avoid the dispute becoming hostile to the point where armed conflict becomes the result of who wins the dispute. I already know what I'm going to do about it, that's really outside the scope of this thread though. My purpose here is to make sure that I'm not missing something that might indicate that my anarchist position is incorrect.
  13. I will check it out. Ip Man sounds very promising. There are 2 more pro-freedom martial arts/action films that were released from Hong Kong that I recommend: Iron Monkey and The House of Flying Daggers. Both films have different plots but have very strong pro-freedom/individualist messages. The former is a marital arts version of Robin Hood while The House of Flying Daggers has an original storyline that I thought was quite good. If you do get Iron Monkey, avoid the U.S. release backed by Quentin Tarantino as a few scenes were edited out. I recommend the Hong Kong version instead. Three other good Chinese films in the Drama genre are Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Farewell My Concubine, and To Live. Balzac has a plot similar to Ayn Rand's book Anthem. To Live is slow at times, but all of the movies I list are very well done.
  14. Martin, The situation the Palestinians in Gaza are in now and any casualties or deaths of civilians there that result from conflicts in the occupied territories is the fault of groups like Hamas and Fatah who keep Palestinians in their present situation. Fatah and Hamas rule(d) the territories with an iron fist while supporting terrorist activities and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians despite negotiated cease-fire agreements of which Hamas has broken one negotiated with Israel and brokered by Egypt. The Palestinian authority formerly under Yasser Arafat and now presently ruled by Hamas has one objective: the destruction of Israel. If taken to its irrational, illogical conclusions this also means the slaughter not only of the Jews but also other religious and ethnic groups (including Muslims) that live in the country as well. Palestinian refugees initially left for Gaza and the West Bank of their own accord in order to either flee the 1948 war or join the fight against the Israelis. They and other Muslims in the occupied territories who suffered from conflict with Israel are, in truth, aggressors and are not innocent victims. Anyone who initiates force and flagrantly disrespect the rights of others does not deserve to have their rights respected by anyone. Simultaneously, Israeli forces also have the right to take down Gazan homes. This is not being done to deny property rights or out of persecution. Rather it is that Palestinian homes are razed after IDF soldiers have found them to have been occupied by families or individuals housing terrorists or weapons that can be used to attack Israeli soldiers. Homes occupied by Palestinians who do not house terrorists, arms, or munitions that can be used against Israeli forces are, for the most part, left alone. Any person who tries to steal the property of another by force or fraud or, even worse, attempts to murder someone has no rights. A thief is put in jail as punishment for his or her act and to prevent the recurrence of the crime they committed. Consequently, Palestinians in the contested territories are deprived of some (or all) of their freedoms because they have looted and murdered innocent civilians in and out of the occupied territories. There is no evidence that they would change if given independence.
  15. The Greeks, rightly, send the Islamic jihadists behind this charade and their leftist, anti-Semitic allies packing. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2011/0701/Greece-puts-halt-to-Gaza-flotilla-in-a-win-for-Israel
  16. Does anyone know of any good books or lectures done by TAS or maybe ARI about the subject of contextual knowledge?
  17. Hi J.K., Good luck with your novel. In terms of Objectivist/libertarian science fiction, I am told that Nancy Kress's Beggars series is very good and might fit what you are looking for. The first novel in the series Beggars in Spain is on sale at Amazon for a little under $6. The other two books in the series (Beggars and Choosers and Beggars Ride), however, seem to be out of print. FWIW Beggars in Spain & Beggars and Choosers were nominated for Prometheus Awards when they came out. For more books that might be along the lines of what you are looking for, check out the Libertarian Futurist Society (http://lfs.org). A great group dedicated to communicating freedom-oriented ideas via the genre of science fiction.
  18. No greater debate has taken place in the libertarian movement than the minarchy-anarchy debate. It is almost a given that at some point in their exchanges, libertarians will debate on which political position is the correct one usually leading into whether or not it is moral to vote. This can also involve the argument from anarchists that government is the root of all evil. The biggest flaw in anarchist thought is their claim that governments always violate the very rights they are created to defend, therefore, governments must be abolished. Furthermore, anarchist libertarians see laissez-faire capitalism (rather than individual rights) as the foundation of a free and industrialized society. Rather than debate the merits of their assertion, anarchist libertarians will oft times resort to Orwellian means refusing to identify that they follow consistency as intrinsic rather than grounded in reality. The term minarchism is attributed by Samuel Konkin III in which he used minarchist as a way to smear libertarians who subscribed to limited government. Anarchists also insult minarchists with the term limited statists. But are they? Anarchists assert that since government has a monopoly on force that it is only in an anarchistic society that the true exchange of goods and services can be achieved. Their rejection of government is based on the premise that government is the only entity that can use force against people for the taxation enforcement, restrict trade and personal freedom, ans well as create monopolies utilizing charters, grants, and subsidies that result in unfair competition. While it is true that government has a monopoly on force a proper government (like what is seen in the United States) protects individual rights according to objective, philosophically validated and consistent procedures from its constitution down to its laws and regulations. Reality and man's nature require a government to protect us against any kind of physical aggression including also the right to self defense in the event access to government courts or police is not available to citizens. What anarchist libertarians fail to identify is the difference between anarchism and capitalism. While anarchism is the absence or abolition of government, capitalism is an extension of individualism that recognizes man’s right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness (i.e. individual rights). What guarantees individual rights in a capitalistic society is a government made up of objective laws and a legal system along with consistent, easy to understand procedures and rules of evidence. This is the legal structure the United States and many Westernized countries have. To the best of my knowledge, the existence of contradictory laws, customs and rules are things anarchists still have not adequately addressed. For example, whose laws shall prevail in a contract dispute or case involving an act of fraud? What standards shall be followed to determine the applicable procedures that should govern a particular case? In disputes involving a Muslim who subscribes to Sharia Law and non-Muslim which person's legal system will govern it? Can a non-Muslim petition for a change of legal system or judge(s) if they would prefer the case litigated elsewhere or by another arbitrator? What will be the court of final decision should neither party agree with the other's dispute resolution entity conclusion? How would conflicting jurisprudence among different legal systems be worked out? By what standards would conflicts be resolved? Anarchism is not only seriously flawed due to a lack of specifics but is also a form of faith grounded in a rejection of reality, order, objectivity and justice. Aside from ignoring even obvious cases of government checking itself from encroaching on a person's liberty, by default anarchism ultimately results in giving a blank check to organized gangs and other groups who can take advantage of a state-less order so they can impose their will on others with little means to stop them. This also includes groups (such as communists and Islamists) who oppose the very things libertarians stand for. As far as Islamists and communists are concerned individual rights such as the right to bear arms, free speech or even the rights to life, liberty, and property would be put on the chopping block in order to sacrifice mankind to the needs of their collective will. In the real world Islamists have openly stated their desire to stone, kill or enslave infidels (i.e. non-Muslims). This also includes communist and socialist groups who help them and subscribe to a similar, extreme anti-life philosophy. There is no guarantee that these groups would not seek to impose their will on the rest of us should there not be a government erected in order to stop them. The beneficence of the market can never work among men whose intent is evil. Furthermore and hypothetically speaking, there is also nothing to stop a terrorist who hates capitalism and freedom from intentionally infecting themselves with a deadly strain of a virus (such as typhoid or tuberculosis) in order to spread it among the populace of an anarchist libertarian enclave resulting in its destruction. You can make the argument that an armed citizenry can halt such a person from doing so but by the time patient zero is identified it will be too late. The way things are now in order for a foreigner to enter the U.S. or any other country for business or leisure, the person in question is screened by government agents which is another example of how government protects people from force and fraud. If the person wishing to enter said country knowingly has a criminal background or has an infectious health condition they are quarantined until their background or health is investigated and, rightly, sent back to their country of origin if it is determined that the person or people in question pose a threat to the rights of the innocent. The end result of anarchism isn't just the rejection of objectivity and justice or the embracement of whim-worship, as author and Objectivist Amber Pawlik rightly points out it also makes man shift his primary ability from production to protection. She elaborates further by stating: Man qua man lives solely by means of production. It is morally imperative that a proper political-economic system is in line with man’s method of survival. It is thus that a government should exist, whose sole purpose is to protect the private property of men. It is imperative that a government exist, ensuring man that he can live in freedom: free to produce, build, and achieve, without any fear of what his neighbors might to do those things that he has produced, built, and achieved. An individual should not have to worry about defending his property. Instead of defending anarchism in a metaphysical sense, anarchist libertarians should check their premise when it comes to what they advocate. It is one thing if anarchists would rather not vote because the candidates that are running don't meet their ethical standards or prefer to use market-based solutions to government services (such as private security or arbitration companies) in their dealings with others. However, if Somalia's experiment with anarchism is any example, anarchists cannot claim the moral high ground nor that their ideas are a true reflection or embracement of justice and civilization. A proper constitution (like as seen in the United States) does not impose coercive demands on the citizens, or authorize the government to violate their rights. Rather, it treats man's rights as negative requiring government agents to protect individual rights while, for the most part, leaving people free to go about their affairs. With this in mind I often wonder why anarchists object to this since such an arrangement is neither coercive nor immoral. As Robert Bidinotto correctly points out anarcho-capitalism really is a demand for the right to secede from the judgments of other people concerning the validity of one's own use of force while simultaneously denying that there is a basic need to subject any use of force to objective -- that is, socially demonstrable -- standards. In other words, anarchist libertarian reliance on market forces treats capitalism as a floating abstraction and is really an excuse for them wanting to choose their morality while simultaneously rejecting any semblance of justice and objectivity. By default anarchists treat competition and the initiation of force as rights in themselves. But no such rights exist and a proper understanding of the nature and souce of individual rights and how they are implemented negates any idea that anarchism as an ideal or proper extension of liberty. The non-aggression principle does not negate government and, in turn, does not inherently contradict actual individual rights. Relations among humans are contextual and in the tradition of other libertarian thinkers Ayn Rand conjured it up as an ethic in Objectivism with government being a logical extension of her thought in order to protect an individual's ability to live and prosper. The only contradiction is in the minds of anarcho-capitalists since they obviously want to have their cake and eat it too demanding recognition of their liberty, while wanting to eliminate the only means of rationally determining when an individual's rights have been violated and being able to do anything about it. If libertarians value consistency over all else then anarchism is logically not too far around the corner. However, consistency is the only thing for which anarchists can claim victory.
  19. I disagree with the latter half of your second paragraph. If Ms. Rand or Objectivism weren't, as you say, an actual achievement of what philosophy can and out to be or a fictional sketch then it wouldn't have been carried out all of these years and you wouldn't have organizations (like TAS) who have worked and been successful at academia embacing many things about what Ms. Rand wrote and spoke about. Not to say she was always right (she was very wrong with her accusations against Immanuel Kant) but she was a brilliant individual and philosopher. If she was not a philosopher many of her writings would not be taken very seriously not just by acamedicians but also people in general who have gone on to do many good things as a result of her inspirational writings (fiction or non-fiction). As far as, as you say, the authoritarianism in Objectivism this can be a problem but I attribute that as a fault of the individual Objectivists and not the philosophy as a whole. The frame of mind people have to take when they study Rand's philosophy is that it is just that: a philosophy and not a religion. If you have a systematic method of living laid out you will have people who will do things to preserve it since they consider themselves the guardians of its preservation. But oft times people like this forget how it was they came to it in the first place. In my instance (like I pointed out earlier) I have concluded during my studies of Objectivism that the philosophy is correct in areas of knowledge I know of and agree with its conclusions in areas of knowledge I am lacking in. Consequently I must admit to have taken a risk by siding with TAS since the group is not highly looked upon by people who support ARI as well as the hierarchy of that organization. I must admit to having flirted with the idea of switching to ARI but after a critical investigation of David Kelley's approach and comparing and contrasting it with Leonard Peikoff's thoughts while taking into account evidence outside the movement that relate to the debate between the two gentleman, I concluded Kelley's approach is correct.
  20. Excellent observation, Michael, and I wholeheartely agree. That's why there are so many variantions of libertarians. I was looking for a way in which to articulate this but did not know how. You hit it right on the head! The libertarians are not advocates of anything, but deniers of state power. That's fine, but it is limited, as you say. What they lack - what Objectivists have - is a workable theory of knowledge. Contradictions do not exist. If you find a contradiction, check your premises. One or both of them will be wrong. They believe all kinds of ocntradictory things. You can wrap them up in knots over issues because they never stopped to think through anything back to first principles. They pick and choose from the available inventory of political ideas and often they are correct, but not knowing why, they also include nonsense that just feels right to them. I see this especially among younger libertarians because the older ones tended to have come in through Objectivism.
  21. The libertarians I am refering to tend to make up the social and discussion circles I have been a part of for many years. This also includes participating in LP activities too. There are some who are, as you say, anti-philosophical. However, most tend to take a subjectivist view point. Not just about rights but even how to conduct themselves in their daily lives. Most are quite intelligent but are lacking in ethics and even thinking too. How I define libertarian is someone believes in individual liberty, is a member of the LP, an anarcho-capitalist, anarcho-syndicalist, rationalist or even someone who calls themselves one. That includes Objectivists who still call themselves libertarians or who are tolerant of them. I still consider myself a libertarian but my "L" went from large to small. As an Objectivist I don't consider myself anti-philosophical at all. But I have studied Objectivism and have concluded during my studies that the philosophy is correct in areas of knowledge I know of and agree with its conclusions in areas of knowledge I am lacking in. That doesn't mean I won't consider another view point/philosophy, criticism of Objectivism or even Rand herself (since I do not think of her as a deity but I think highly of her as a philosopher and person despite her faults) let alone even change my mind. At one point I might be interested in reading your book. How do you define "libertarian"? In my vocabulary it's simply a broad and loose term identifying those who are at least approximately for individual liberty. It includes Objectivists and political libertarians (aka "Libertarians"). I.e., I think you're not using the right word for those who you intend to criticize. Perhaps "anti-philosophical libertarians" would be better. As you're probably aware, I wrote a book identifying the origin of rights, and no it does not follow Rand's line of reasoning because I think wasn't quite right. Ironically, I find many Objectivists to be too anti-philosophical to have a serious discussion about Rand's philosophical problems. Pot, kettle, black. Shayne
  22. I attended a Liberty on the Rocks function a short time ago in which one group of gentlemen gathered together during this affair to discuss philosophy. The discussion went from when one owns their body (using the drug war as an example) and then turned to the subject of rights. During the discussion on this subject, I asked a libertarian engaged in the exchange what an individual right was. He gave me a blank stare at first but after thinking it about said something you own. I politely explained the error in his answer pointing out what individual rights are and moved on elsewhere in the party. The experience I have with libertarians being unable to answer specific questions about certain aspects of their philosophy is not unique. Unfortunately, in a general sense and many cases libertarians treat individual rights as some abstract, subjective concept. They can articulate individuals have rights but have little knowledge about the details and how they apply in specific instances. Some disregard a rights-based approach to liberty altogether and prefer consequentalist or semblances of utilitarianism. Despite ultimately siding with the notion that people have rights libertarians know little about them, do not know or do not adequately articulate it leaving an inqusitive outsider with more questions than answers. Subjective claims or incomplete answers about individual rights or libertarian ideas stand no chance of winning over people already steeped in subjective, anti-individualist ideologies like religion, statism, skepticism, and radical environmentalism. It should come as no surprise that critics refer to libertarians as Republicans who want to smoke dope or Democrats who like to own guns. The concept libertarians espouse is that of doing whatever one pleases without interference from government, society, collectives, etc. Yet this (albeit falsely) conjures up claims on the part of our enemies and opponents of people engaging in wild parties involving large amounts of drug use, orgies and other nihilistic activities. What is mostly ignored not just by our rivals but libertarians as well are heroic acts of rational, productive achievement and success on the part of individuals that have brought about all the benefits of the world we see today. It is true that the non-aggression principle that Ayn Rand articulated is the center piece of libertarian thought and action (i.e. no individual may initiate physical force against another). But this principle is neither an axiom nor a self-evident truth. Ayn Rand rightly understood this and properly detailed a long chain of reasoning that led her from basic axioms of reality (existence, consciousness, and identity), through the necessity of reason as mankind’s means of survival. This, in turn, leads to the Aristotelian ethic of human life as the standard of values, the individual as an end in him or herself, and to the inevitable, logical conclusion that laissez-faire capitalism is the only moral social system. If taken objectively and logically this line of thought leads to the non-aggression principle. It accepts that a this-worldly life is good ethic with reason as the method of obtaining and maintaining it. As a result, each person must be left free to follow his own mind without interference from government, society or collective consciousness. Is this reasoning present anywhere in libertarian thought? Unfortunately, after an extensive search on my part, save for Ms. Rand, it is scarce at best. Libertarians need an objective, moral basis for why individuals should have the right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. Instead of reality, ethical subjectivism is the basis for libertarian ethics and many other facets of libertarian philosophy including how libertarians conduct themselves. In light of this it is not surprising that people hyphenate the word libertarian with other sets of belief systems such as christianity, anarchism and even odd terms like conservatarian. Ayn Rand rightly understood that the absence of a rational, moral defense of individual rights would lead to the death of liberty. Such axioms are necessary foundations for any movement that advocates individual freedom and thats why she culminated Objectivism that encompasses many areas of philosophy to help people who study it not only to think but also to live. We all know that liberty is not license. However, the idea of a nation filled with pimps, prostitutes, and drug addicts will not inspire the average person or win over people normally on the fence on certain social or even economic issues. The idea of a world filled with rational, healthy, productive people who trade freely with others of similar character will. Inspirational role models populate the pages of Ayn Rand’s fantastic fiction novels continue to enjoy strong sales decades after their first printings and that Ms. Rand's ideas continue to survive and thrive even to this day. What American culture and the libertarian movement needs is another Renaissance that embraces a widely renewed respect for reason in this life and on this earth. Emulating Rand's charachters would be a good start and, in my view, Objectivism is the best philosophy to help achieve this with the beauty of libertarian thought and ideas to help compliment it. Some may doubt the effectiveness of Objectivism as a working philosophy. If you would like to measure its success in a venue Objectivists and libertarians both appreciate (the market place) you need look no further than the banking giant BB&T and Koch Industries. BB&T has established Objectivism as its official corporate philosophy. Koch Industries uses Austrian Economics as the basis for the company's corporate philosophy known as market-based management. CEO Charles Koch touts his company's philosophy as contributing to its success. He has not only written a book on the subject but has funded a think tank to culminate and expand upon Charles Koch's approach in hopes of influencing other companies to adopt it. As a result their success as organizations both BB&T and Koch continue to grow. If Objectivism is good enough to drive the success of multi-billion dollar companies, wouldn't it also make sense to use it to drive the success of a political philosophy and groups erected to further it let alone good enough for a libertarian to live by? Think about it.