Dennis Hardin

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Everything posted by Dennis Hardin

  1. Barbara is a goddess, and always will be. As for myself, Charles--guess what my nickname was in high school....Attila! I never could understood why until now.
  2. Charles, Imagine you were Donald Rumsfeld and Bush told him, "Okay, Rummy, from now on we'll do it your way." That's what I would do. I feel that I have been as clear as I can be from a nonexpert's viewpoint, but I don't mind spelling out what I think might be the appropriate military strategy to follow here. In essence, speaking only in very general terms, I would favor using technology (i.e., bombing) over ground forces in any situation where it was feasible to do so. Knocking out infrastructure means destroying their capability for striking back with anything other than bows and arrows and
  3. Barbara, Once upon a time, there was this young man from Tennessee who was desperate to find the motivation to make something of his life. To say that he was bewildered by the world of the Bible Belt and the “god-fearing” people around him would have been a phenomenal understatement. He looked and looked for answers, but only found more and more confusing questions. Then one day a girlfriend suggested he read an interview with a Russian-born novelist in PLAYBOY. From that day forward, his life was transformed. He read ATLAS SHRUGGED and THE FOUNTAINHEAD and wondered: Could people such as
  4. Charles, My, oh my. You do have a tendency to regurgitate my words in a rather unflattering way. In the interest of clarity and ”reasonableness,” I would like to ask that you make a fair effort to actually understand my arguments before you begin attacking them. Here is what I said: Now let me break that down for you, my friend: (a) The word “if” means that the suggested action should be taken when necessary for self-defense. I did not say that it was necessary for self-defense. To repeat, I am not a military strategist. I said that if it is deemed necessary, I would not have a probl
  5. Charles, Many thanks for your kind remarks. If nothing else, perhaps we are demonstrating that Objectivists can have strong disagreements without engaging in mutual condemnation, insults or obscene tirades. When an honest intellectual exchange contributes to clarity and understanding, it is win-win. Only good things can come from that. Dennis
  6. I emerged from my Randroid phase in 1968, in the aftermath of the "Great Schism" between Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. The break forced me to evaluate their respective arguments independently. It was an epiphany. (Many relative newcomers to Rand’s philosophy may not be aware that, prior to their break, Ayn Rand had elevated Branden to a unique status. She had officially deemed him to be in every way her equal. And she had made it lucidly clear that they were the only two human beings in the universe who deserved that status. The fact that she did not choose to strip him of that unique
  7. Charles, I certainly agree that a quote from Ayn Rand is not a substitute for an argument. When I read Ayn Rand Answers, I often found myself disagreeing with her on specific issues. But your prior post suggested she might support TOC’s compassionate approach to war, and I think those quotes make clear she would not. She obviously believed that the sanctity of the individual’s life justified prosecuting war in a way that would wipe out the threat posed by the enemy with a minimum of risk to the soldiers of the country acting in self-defense. And that may well mean breaking the enemy’s will
  8. In case there are further doubts as to where Ayn Rand would have stood on the issue of “Just War Theory”:
  9. Charles, The “benevolent” (i.e., self-sacrificial) approach to war adopted by the Bush administration—an approach which (in the case of Iraq) has cost the lives of 2445 American soldiers and maimed thousands more—has earned Bush the highest disapproval rating of any American president since the end of Jimmy Carter’s term in 1981—and most of that is attributed to his handling of the Iraq war. Are you sure you want to argue that TOC’s tacit endorsement of such “benevolent” policies are the way to win the hearts and minds of the American people over to the Objectivist point-of-view? No one ha
  10. Charles, There is simply no way to reconcile support of our use of massive bombing raids or the atomic bomb in WWII with TOC’s statement that "the military campaign should make every reasonable effort to avoid [civilian casualties]." To defend use of the atomic bomb on the basis that it spared Japanese civilian casualties is to display a total disregard for the meaning of words. As Churchill said, the goal of the German bombing campaign was “to create conditions intolerable to the mass of the German population.” We did not engage in such tactics because we lacked more accurate weapons. It
  11. Charles, The one sentence you quoted is irrelevant to the issue of altruism vs. self-interest. The altruistic implication is to be found in the suggestion that we must only use tactics which “discriminate’ between combatants and noncombatants, even though those tactics put American soldiers at greater risk. Frankly, I do not care if Iraq ever becomes a “responsible” country—I care that they have no ability to harm us. Of course any statements issued by TOC would avoid explicit altruism. Objectivists would immediately reject any such arguments. So their position is dressed up to look like r
  12. Barbara, Thank you for taking the time to evaluate this controversy. You can see the full contrast between the two positions by reading two articles: “The Justice of War,” by Patrick Stephens of TOC ( and “Just War Theory vs. American Self-defense” by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein ( In his article, Stephens defends “Just War” principles which mandate that we not only minimize civilian casualties but the enemy’s military casualties as well. Here is what I regard as a clear
  13. If statements like this make me an "intellectual bully." then I will wear the title proudly.
  14. I recently found an excellent article in the Spring, 2006 issue of The Objective Standard ( by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein which deals directly with the issue of altruism in America’s foreign policy. You can read the full article on-line. Please note the similarity between the quotation below and the language of TOC’s 2001 “Position Statement” on the war, quoted in my prior post above:
  15. Several years ago, I gave a speech at Toastmasters following a trip to New York City. I had forgotten about that speech when I wrote my recent ‘retrospective,’ but I want to say something about that now. During that trip, I spent quite a long time outside Ayn Rand’s former residence, looking up at the windows of the apartment where she once lived. I told the group about the all night discussions by the collective, and how strongly I believed that the ideas brought forth in those discussions would have a major impact on America’s future. I said that, forty years ago, when I attended NBI lec
  16. Roger, Any member of the armed forces who quit would be guilty of desertion and subject to court martial as well as the stigma that would follow him the rest of his life. Soldiers have the right to expect that the government that employs them will conduct a war in a way that will not subject them to unnecessary risk. If putting them in the primary role of “protecting” civilians of an enemy country is not altruistic, nothing is. The role of police is to protect citizens in a given jurisdiction from violence. The role of the army is to protect the citizens of the nation that employs them.
  17. Saul: Here is a quote from TOC's "Position Statement" on the War on Terror posted to their website in October of 2001: This is a clear statement that we should risk the lives of our soldiers and limit our use of military technology to minimize civilian casualties. Other policy statements by TOC at the time further stated that it was somehow “heroic” for our soldiers to risk their lives to save innocent civilians. This, in essence, accurately describes the “Christian” approach to prosecuting the war that the Bush administration has adopted, and I regard it as appalling.
  18. Michael, Charles, Robert, Kat—Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. I appreciate having the opportunity to express and clarify my thinking in a forum like this. It goes without saying that any rational person would take those actions needed to achieve the life he or she wants despite the insanity that surrounds us. It would be the height of immorality, stupidity and self-sacrifice to let the persistently sheeplike conformity of the human race drain your energy to the extent that you neglect your own needs and personal values. Beyond that, no doubt many of you recall Ayn Rand’s statement
  19. An Objectivist Retrospective In 1968, I was 20 years old. I had already been an Objectivist for several years, having discovered Atlas Shrugged when I was 16. I grew up in East Tennessee, a little corner of the Bible Belt that represented just about everything I despised about the South—conventionality, the worship of tradition, fear of anything new and different, life-negating values, et. al. Objectivism gave me hope and a vision of the future that I clung to like a lifeline. While I was earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, I often attended taped NBI le
  20. Just thought I would share this inspiring little love note I recently sent to I love sharing things that leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy.