Samson Corwell

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Posts posted by Samson Corwell

  1. Rand's thing was "non-initiation of force" and Rothbard's NAP defined "aggression" as initiation of force. If someone puts their money down for a second and I snatch it when they aren't looking, then how do I run afoul of either of those two?

    Here are other things that don't involve force initiation:

    • Hacking.
    • Trespass.
    • Dumping garbage onto someone else's property.
    • Breach of contract.
    • Murdering someone by dropping poison into their drink when they aren't looking.
    • Not paying for the food you eat at a restaurant.

    An honest reading of "initiation of force" would permit the things listed above. It could even allow taxation if the tax collectors were surreptitious about it! (They come in the middle of the night and take a few dollars out of your safe.) So why does anyone continue to use that word choice? Other movements don't try to act like all of their positions can be spun from a single sentence. It would be better to accept that trying to do it that way leaves a lot of openings through which undesirable policies can slip through.

  2. 3 hours ago, anthony said:

    A kind appraisal. But fraid not (not unless someone specifies only the settlements) The disingenuous statements by pols and many others shrewdly mask an opposition to the very existence of a Jewish homeland, as a whole. When pushed, she/he can claim Oh no, I meant only the settlements!

    Look at what I get when I search for Palestine on Google Maps. And look at the non-historical maps that I get when I perform an image search on Google. No specificity required when I use Palestine to refer to Gaza and the West Bank.

  3. 3 hours ago, anthony said:

    A kind appraisal. But fraid not (not unless someone specifies only the settlements) The disingenuous statements by pols and many others shrewdly mask an opposition to the very existence of a Jewish homeland, as a whole. When pushed, she/he can claim Oh no, I meant only the settlements!

    Tony, you're declaring perfectly normal parlance to have a coded meaning. Palestine today is comprised of Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli settlements are occuring in that collection of territory (at least in one of those three regions). That's common meaning, so I can expect to not have to bend to pedantic people about it.

  4. On July 17, 2018 at 10:57 AM, Jonathan said:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls Israel occupiers of Palestine:

    And, then, under the tiniest pressure of a request for clarification, she taps out instantly. No más, no más! Oopsie, tee hee hee, I'm not the expert on geopolitics, hee hee.

    I imagine that she was refering to Israel's settlements. It might be appropriate to call that an occupation (which is not to say that Israel should "sit back and take it" when it comes to missile attacks that penetrate into non-settlement portions of Israel and so forth). 

    On July 17, 2018 at 10:57 AM, Jonathan said:

    […]she's a socialist despite having a degree in economics.

    This shouldn't mean anything. "You don't understand economics" is the biggest gripe that I have with common political discourse. Economics is a science and as such it has nothing to say regarding normative questions. She can be a socialist and believe that the labor theory of value is wrong. Someone could be themselves a libertarian and think that the labor theory of value is correct.

    On July 17, 2018 at 10:57 AM, Jonathan said:

    Imagine the mess she'd make of herself when facing substantive challenges from a candidate who wants to win, and not a kid-gloved reporter.

    Well, she went on to win the Democratic primary and eventually the general election.

    I've been paying attention to her. She's an interesting person me to follow in national politics.

    (I feel like I need to clarify—though I wish I didn't feel like I need to—that none of the above is to say what positions of hers that I favor, if any, or which statements of hers I concur with, if any.)

  5. 1 hour ago, anthony said:

    Seriously? Are they unaware? Unsurprising really, when an Objectivist, Yaron, has lost his rational perspective so completely, why would one expect that the "left wing" hadn't lost any sense of proportion? 

    Unaware of what? The "centrist" drones that chant "Both sides are equally bad."? Everyone knows that they exist.

  6. On 9/29/2011 at 1:58 AM, studiodekadent said:

    Economics is probably the best chance of you getting some intellectual sustenance away from collectivism.

    Public Policy scholars rarely argue against the employment of public policy in X, Y or Z.

    Very strange comment. Economics is supposed to be value-free and laissez-faire constitutes public policy.

  7. On 9/2/2014 at 2:30 PM, dldelancey said:

    Samson, if you said specifically what you think the point is, I missed it. Or perhaps didn't understand it. Brant may have come close, but I often don't understand him. :smile:

    Since I missed the point, I will belabor it. It could be said that the farmer doesn't even have full ownership of his crop. There are rules about the disposal of harvest "by-products" just like there are rules about restaurant food that was prepared in advance but not sold. Even if the producers of those goods wanted to give them to the poor, they often can't.

    You've come the closest.

    First, why would you say that the farmer has only partial ownership of the crops instead of saying that he has full ownership of the crops whereas he has no ownership of the scraps? When I used the term "scraps" in the post, I did not mean it in the sense of "scraps of food", it's just my term for what the Bible verse was referring to. The passage in question talked about gleanings of the crops.

    Second, I am of the belief that "positive rights" are not coherent if we are using the term to refer to a vague cosmic command. However, many of things called "positive rights" can be reformulated as "negative rights". Instead of a cosmic duty that is silent on who it is to be enforced against, in the example that I use, the gleanings of the crops—what I called "scraps"—do not belong to the farmer. He has no negative right in/to them. The negative right belongs to the poor person who comes along and collects them.

    Remember, I'm not trying to endorse the Bible's command, only to make a point about the negative/positive rights dichotomy. I hope I was able to clarify what I meant.

  8. 48 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:


    I can give this a shot.

    Globalism is a crony government plus corporation system that uses backroom tariff and cartel protection arrangements--that become enshrined in laws the world over--to game and cheat free trade between nations and ensure unearned money flows to the top cronies while screwing the middle class and poor of each nation.

    That was off the top of my head so I can probably polish it a bit. But the essentials are there. I should also add that globalist cronies like to couch their actions in words that mean the exact opposite of what they do. For example they say "free trade," but mean a convoluted insider government protected cartel arrangement. They have perfected an endless war for profit template where nobody wins wars, but people keep fighting them in order to burn through product that they get to replace, including rebuilding after destruction.

    Globalists tend to have an elitist mindset where they believe they are innately superior to the mass of mankind, which they believe is nothing more than human livestock and lab rats that exist to serve the whims and fancies of their oh-so-precious selves. Since nobody can keep a self-deception like this alive in their souls without rotting from within, many of them fall off into weird belief systems like Luciferianism and diverse secret organizations and cults to justify themselves to themselves.


    I'm pleasantly surprised, Michael. That definition is many times better than what I've seen up until now. Previous definitions I've encountered were vague, kinda cloudy-feeling stuff about "socialists", "multiculturalism", "Islam", and hodge podge of other things. I saw the title of this thread and was wondering just what I was going to see.

    Also, no welcome back? Nothing like "Hey, Samson. Haven't seen you around as of late. How have you been?"?


  9. On 8/1/2017 at 1:08 AM, Marcus said:


    Going by that logic I guess communist China (a growing superpower) also qualifies as "close to Objectivism"?

    Most of the growth in the American economy occurred during its freest period (1800's) which further underlies my point. America is today sailing off of the past. America today is technologically stagnant, with low GDP growth rates, high taxes, and endless state interventions and programs.

    Countries have cultures and individuals follow cultural rules and ideas. We don't live in a cultural vacuum devoid of the influence of others. Observing simple trends in society you can get a general sense of what ideas people do or don't accept. It's quite clear that Objectivism is not well liked or accepted within the American ideascape.

    The people of America are nowhere near close to Objectivism. The constitution and early founding documents which we rely upon to run our society is. That is the difference and the only reason America is still a relatively wealthy, functioning country. 


    I'd dispute the notion we were freest in the 1800s.

  10. I was just reading an article on the Microsoft anti-trust case written in 2006 by an Objectivist (maybe I'm a masochist) by the name of Edwin A. Locke (I looked him up and he's the O'ist who thinks PETA wants humans to suffer). So, in this article he brought up the oft-repeated libertarian talking point that "true" monopolies can't exist without government intervention. Now, the word monopoly may have originally meant policy that prohibited anyone other than one particular entity from selling an item, but 100+ years ago it took on the meaning it now has today. It's as if some pedantic handy-man went about correcting people who said they were "screwed" that "screwing" is something that is done with a screwdrive to a screw. Or if a prudish farmer went around screaming at people that an "ass" is a donkey and not a person's fanny.

  11. On 8/23/2013 at 5:12 PM, George H. Smith said:

    This is my 1981 debate with David Friedman, our second public rumble. We had one more years later.

    This was posted today on I didn't know that a tape of this even existed.

    It occurred during my bearded period, which never quite worked out. 8-)



    I just revisited this video. It's one of your best {insert word that encompasses debates, essays, lectures, and so on here}. One the comments on it declared that Friedman crushed you. Being too stupid to know how stupid oneself is comes to mind. Jeez, some of the more economistic types are really deluded. I think they are the movement's biggest problem. Keep up the good work, George. You're among the best.

  12. 1 hour ago, anthony said:

    Hmm. Well I won't disabuse you your innocence. No, I shall. You have not seen the mass ideological mind control by the Progressive Left in operation?!! Talk about "social engineering"...


    "It's your minds they want". JG

    No, I don't see it. Perhaps your mind is simply off in a different reality. Don't worry though. You're not alone. I see the same thing in Marxists who talk about wage slavery and "hegemonic discourse".

  13. 6 hours ago, anthony said:

    "God", indeed. If you subtract out his religious premises from Prager's columns, you may find that he's highly rational. I've read many and I think he's one of the best conservative thinkers around. His remark "left wing nihilism" and its bankrupt inability to deal with radical opposition I'd say is consistent with Objectivism.

    I don't find him rational. His remarks about feminism are the usual dumb remarks made by anti-feminist conservatives. As far as "the left" wanting the "state to control as much of American life as possible", I've never seen anything in reality that can be used to reach that conclusion unless "the left" is taken to mean Marxist-Leninists. Where he is correct, he uninteresting.

  14. On 1/20/2017 at 11:05 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:


    I'm turned off by the word "abandonment" in that excerpt. A system of thought is not abandoned if the people who practice it are conquered, killed off or forced into slavery and/or second class status, and further forced to adopt a different culture. "Abandonment" sounds like the conquered folks chose to do this.

    The victor not only gets to write history, it sets up the prevailing religion and philosophy on the conquered (if it wants to keep being the victor for a while, that is :) ). When it is incompetent at that, it generally falls before too long.

    To me, abandoning a philosophy is one concept and getting your ass kicked hard from one end of the country to the other and having something shoved down your throat is a different concept. :) 

    (I also have issue with the word "overthrow" as if there were some kind of ideological contest. I'm not sure the savage victors were even aware of the ideas they were replacing. They merely imposed their culture on whoever was there and, initially, stuck to their favorite pastimes, that is sacking, looting and pillaging.  :) The contest was with force, not ideas.) 


    If you don't think liberalism (e.g., libertarianism, Objectivism, conservatism, social liberalism, etc.) don't impose their ideas on others through force, then I have to wonder how ingrained this view is in the views of Westerners. If libertarians got their way, for instance, the police power of the state (or "private defense agencies") would crush the sorts of sit-ins done by members of the civil rights movement (this is something that, when it comes, makes for some very interesting conversations between the two sides of the debate). There surely is an ideological contest in politics because on one particular issue only one stance may prevail. If, say, some of the Objectivists at ARI or TAC got their way on environmental policy, they would surely have to forcibly exclude environmental values from the public sphere.

  15. On 1/24/2017 at 2:47 PM, Peter said:

    This got me thinking about idealization of the anti concept of *anarchy*.


    Some snips from “America's Second Civil War,” by Dennis Prager Posted: Jan 24, 2017 12:01 AM: It is time for our society to acknowledge a sad truth: America is currently fighting its second Civil War. In fact, with the obvious and enormous exception of attitudes toward slavery, Americans are more divided morally, ideologically and politically today than they were during the Civil War. For that reason, just as the Great War came to be known as World War I once there was World War II, the Civil War will become known as the First Civil War when more Americans come to regard the current battle as the Second Civil War. This Second Civil War, fortunately, differs in another critically important way: It has thus far been largely nonviolent. But given increasing left-wing violence, such as riots, the taking over of college presidents' offices and the illegal occupation of state capitols, nonviolence is not guaranteed to be a permanent characteristic of the Second Civil War.

    There are those on both the left and right who call for American unity. But these calls are either naive or disingenuous. Unity was possible between the right and liberals, but not between the right and the left. Liberalism -- which was anti-left, pro-American and deeply committed to the Judeo-Christian foundations of America; and which regarded the melting pot as the American ideal, fought for free speech for its opponents, regarded Western civilization as the greatest moral and artistic human achievement and viewed the celebration of racial identity as racism -- is now affirmed almost exclusively on the right and among a handful of people who don't call themselves conservative.

    The left, however, is opposed to every one of those core principles of liberalism. Like the left in every other country, the left in America essentially sees America as a racist, xenophobic, colonialist, imperialist, warmongering, money-worshipping, moronically religious nation. Just as in Western Europe, the left in America seeks to erase America's Judeo-Christian foundations. The melting pot is regarded as nothing more than an anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic meme. The left suppresses free speech wherever possible for those who oppose it, labeling all non-left speech "hate speech." To cite only one example, if you think Shakespeare is the greatest playwright or Bach is the greatest composer, you are a proponent of dead white European males and therefore racist.

    Without any important value held in common, how can there be unity between left and non-left? Obviously, there cannot. There will be unity only when the left vanquishes the right or the right vanquishes the left. Using the First Civil War analogy, American unity was achieved only after the South was vanquished and slavery was abolished.

    How are those of us who oppose left-wing nihilism -- there is no other word for an ideology that holds Western civilization and America's core values in contempt -- supposed to unite with "educators" who instruct elementary school teachers to cease calling their students "boys" and "girls" because that implies gender identity? With English departments that don't require reading Shakespeare in order to receive a degree in English? With those who regard virtually every war America has fought as imperialist and immoral? With those who regard the free market as a form of oppression? With those who want the state to control as much of American life as possible? With those who repeatedly tell America and its black minority that the greatest problems afflicting black Americans are caused by white racism, "white privilege" and "systemic racism"? With those who think that the nuclear family ideal is inherently misogynistic . . . .

    God, Prager's an idiot.

  16. On 1/21/2017 at 10:38 AM, anthony said:

    I need to keep it simple for my simple mind. Every other 'right' but the right of an individual's freedom of action (individual rights) isn't a "right", it is a "claim" - upon others' freedom. Much of so-called "human rights" today has become entitled, utilitarian claims.

    Oh, you've stepped in it. Property rights are claims upon other people's freedom, too. Every legal right has a corresponding claim on the actions of others. As far as "entitled" goes, here is the definition of a "right" from Google: "a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way".

  17. On 1/13/2017 at 11:08 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:


    I recently went through another Great Course (I'm loving that series) called Sacred Texts of the World by Professor Grant Hardy.

    Almost all societies have been structured around religions (to differing degrees), and the more advanced societies have sacred texts for their religions. This written form is one of the reasons those religions have persisted over centuries (oral-only religions have tended to die out). Trying to get an understanding of this process and an overview of the different religions is why I took the course. (btw - I'm very glad I did.)

    But Hardy came up with an Easter Egg for me. In his next to last lecture (No. 35 of 36), he made a case that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are secular forms of sacred text. Not so much in terms of pointing toward God, but instead of fulfilling the different roles exercised by sacred texts throughout history. He gave those roles as informative, transactive, transformative and symbolic. He made a very good case.

    For a long time, I've understood there is a critical difference between a contract and a charter document for a government (shades of Lysander Spooner :) ), but I couldn't put my finger on it. Just calling a charter document a contract did not make it one when I saw how people used it.

    I believe this "secular form of sacred text" is part of the foundation of what a charter document is when it attains longevity of use. By treating a charter document in strictly contractual terms, which many governments around the world do (I am familiar with Brazil's several constitutions and this last from the 1980's will probably not be the final one), they don't work out as well as the US charter documents did and do.


    Contract Theory and the Abandonment of Final Cause

    In the classical and Christian epochs, few people would have worried about exactly how a government was constructed from parts or what operating procedures those parts followed when it came to deciding whether a particular government was justified. Instead, it was justified because it brought about a good end: generally speaking, because it was the most concrete expression of and ultimate protector of the civic order that underlay its existence. …

    But with the overthrow of Aristotelian philosophy, the baby was tossed out with the bathwater, and final and formal causes became disreputable. I think it is no coincidence that now, with, for instance, Hobbes and Locke, we begin to see governments justified by the mechanisms of how they came about, and we get social contract theories. A possible efficient cause of government, the consent of the governed, came to replace the idea of a government achieving its proper end as its justification. …

  18. On 1/19/2017 at 1:10 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:


    Rand even had much worse problems re the atomic bomb. She was supposed to do a movie about it and wanted to use the idea to demonstrate the glory of the human mind.

    Two problems. The first was the movie company's intentions (a complicated story, but essentially they had no intention of ever doing that movie despite hiring people like her to work on it). The second was more serious. Oppenheimer got off into the Bhagavad Gita really deeply ("Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"). 

    Oppenheimer was a piss-poor Roark or Galt.


    There's another reason and it's just as serious, but I can't recall it off the top of my head. I have a few books on Oppenheimer (a few bios and a novel loosely based on his life, but for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it and I can't find it among my mountains of books right now). I intend on doing a deep dive into all this later and will write about it. I will definitely get to that third reason then.

    Oppenheimer's is the ultimate Prometheus story (which is also the name of one of his bios). But then he turned into a mystic, a peacenik and a political pariah. Even though there was some overlap, he wasn't really Rand's kind of person.

    They both smoked like fiends, for whatever that's worth.




    Nothing says "glory of the human mind" like indiscriminate death and destruction.

  19. On 1/13/2017 at 10:43 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:


    Is that meant to be condescending?

    They don't use the word, but they do use the concept. A believer in the Abrahamic God obtains all kinds of rights that others don't get, starting with becoming a member of a special group. That membership to the elect is that person's right as a Jew or Christian whether anyone uses the word "right" or not.

    If I were to be snarky, I could say, "I don't know if you are having trouble understanding that words and concepts are different."

    But I won't...

    :evil:  :) 


    I meant no condescension. I was being quite sincere. If someone supports welfare and believes it is moral, is it possible for them to not conceive of it as a "right"? Is it impossible for me, in my opposition to using people tools and to utilitarianism, to conceive of my reasons for such in terms of something other than "rights"? Before I got into natural rights, such opposition was never in terms of rights. In fact, conceiving it in terms of "rights" feels much too distant and sterile.

    A right is a moral entitlement. Pre-Enlightenment Christianity had no such concept. It was all in terms of law and duty.

  20. 23 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:


    That's quite an opinion.

    Do you think the situation of people living in a community (two people on up) belongs in a moral theory?


    I don't know to answer that any way other than, yes, I do. But, it doesn't need to be expressed in rights, which are a very specific moral concept. Sacred texts such as the Bible and the Torah never used rights talk, for instance. One of the comments made by the YouTube user SisyphusRedeemed under his take down of Stefan Molyneux's "philosophy" said that he rejected rights (in this case meaning "natural rights") in favor of virtue ethics and made the distinction that ancient civilizations like Rome had property but not property rights? i don't know if you are having trouble understanding that rights are only one type of moral theory. I've met quite a few libertarians who couldn't understand that.

  21. On December 30, 2016 at 4:28 AM, anthony said:

    ha, very cute. Perhaps you could take another look at 'subjectivism' in the AR Lexicon. Bet on it that Rand is never going to be anything like as vague and non-specific as you suggest. Utilitarianism is not ~whatever works, whatever turns out best~ as I think it's taken sometimes. (This would be roughly a consequentialist-pragmatism). Rather, it has meant ~the greatest good for the greater number~ which shows its subjectivist (yes) and sacrificial, altruist roots.

    If "the good" is defined by a number, people's numbers constantly change and therefore the good is arbitrary and changeable - and so, subjective..

    I gave you what the term "subjectivist" has come to mean in practice when used by many Objectivists. Utilitarianism contends that maximizing happiness is OBJECTIVELY moral. It presupposes moral realism. Whatever makes someone happy may be different from person-to-person and from time-to-time, but that there is something that does make them happy is entirely objective. And it is not altruism as altruism may in fact conflict with it. Anyway your reason for dismissing it is also Kant's reason as well as his reason for dismissing egoism.