Arkadi

giving one's life in battle

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Selene--"Finally, I would caution you on what can be interpreted as a condescending attitude as to what Americans know about WWII"--Different Americans know different things. Please do not speak for every American. If you want to discuss history of the WWII seriously please refer me to some solid studies that would support your claims as regards the numbers, and I would appreciate that. "If not for American lend lease the Soviet "economy" would have had your army throwing rocks." --First, Soviet army is not "my" army. I am an American citizen. Second, my country (US) and USSR were allies in that war, it was a joint effort. Are you saying that US and Britain would defeat Hitler even if USSR surrendered? Third, the second European front was opened only as late as June 1944, when it was already clear that Hitler is doomed. Prior to that, Americans had not been risking their lives in confronting the Germans on the mass scale. Soviet soldiers who died in battle before and after that paid for our victory over Hitler with their lives. It has nothing to do with the atrocities of the Soviet regime.

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Selene--P.s. responding to your P.s. (which I just saw): I learned history not from the Soviet textbooks (which I never trusted). Your reaction, on the other hand, makes me wonder about the scale of suppression of information in US during the Cold War.

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Thanks for the response.

However, you had the affirmative case to prove.

Cite sources for your arguments and I will respond.

And of course, in responding, I will support mine with sourced material.

A...
 

 

 

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Brant--"American soldiers risk their lives. They don't give them. That's Kamikaze."--There are various degrees of risk. Even if one is executed by firing squad there is some probability that the bullets miss him (such cases are known). By "giving" I meant risking in a situation in which probability to lose is extremely high--so high that, say, for a gambler to go for it would be totally irrational. But please look, also, at my response to Dldelancey; I have a question for you in it. Thanks.

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Selene--"However, you had the affirmative case to prove" ---Does the following statement of mine also require proof in you view, or you agree with it? " Soviet soldiers who died in battle before and after that paid for our victory over Hitler with their lives. It has nothing to do with the atrocities of the Soviet regime. "

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32 minutes ago, Arkadi said:

 " Soviet soldiers who died in battle before and after that paid for our victory over Hitler with their lives..."

Yes, this part and there are a number of excellent histories and military analyses that confirm that from German, Soviet, European and American reports/testimony.

A...

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Selene--"Yes, this part and there are a number of excellent histories and military analyses that confirm that from German, Soviet, European and American reports/testimony."-- Confirm--what exactly? That "Soviet soldiers who died in battle before and after that paid for our victory over Hitler with their lives..."? Or that they did not pay with their lives for our victory (by which I mean the joint victory of US and USSR)? Did American soldiers who died in battle pay with their lives for our victory, in your view? If so, what are your grounds for saying that the Soviet soldiers did not?

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18 minutes ago, Arkadi said:

..."Soviet soldiers who died in battle before and after that paid for our victory over Hitler with their lives..."Did American soldiers who died in battle pay with their lives for our victory, in your view?

I agree with both of the above statements. They both paid with their lives for the victory.

A...

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Anthony--" Sometimes you get killed, but mainly, you get to go home after."--I had in mind a war in which one's country's very existence is at stake. My choice of this example proved unfortunate, as US, thanks God, never has been in such a war, so approaching the issue from a perspective of one's personal military experience turns out to be misleading. This is why I suggested to switch to the case of a mother giving up her life for that of her child.

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9 hours ago, Arkadi said:

Anthony--" Sometimes you get killed, but mainly, you get to go home after."--I had in mind a war in which one's country's very existence is at stake. My choice of this example proved unfortunate, as US, thanks God, never has been in such a war, so approaching the issue from a perspective of one's personal military experience turns out to be misleading. This is why I suggested to switch to the case of a mother giving up her life for that of her child.

Arkadi: If you insist on your phrasing of "giving up" one's life for something one presumably values, you implicitly buy into that false notion that a self-sacrifice is pragmatic, moral or good, and its effects (death) can be anticipated. First, no - man doesn't have prescience. You can't know you WILL "give up" your life, going in. All you can know is that you will protect your value to the maximum degree. How far? You don't know until and unless you reach that point. Why? It is one's top value without which continued living would be unconscionable.

Could be you haven't read Rand on self-sacrifice?: ""Sacrifice" is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue. Thus, altruism gauges a man's virtues by the degree to which he surrenders, renounces or betrays his values".**

Notice that in that moral code, the value hierarchy of one's self and all derivative values of 'self', is turned on its head - to become of least value.

It's from those influenced by altruism that one hears those ridiculous arguments, as if life is a process of staggering from one terrible dilemma to the next. The circumstances of mother "giving up her life for her child" never happen, or close to never, but we apparently must accept their false premise - because it's the only argument altruists have that 'proves self-sacrifice'. (Not high self-valuation, note). As if one's child is "other people", or risking one's life in battle is "giving up one's life for others".

**The Ethics of Emergencies, VoS.

 

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14 hours ago, Arkadi said:

dldelancey--"On the other hand, you have some soldiers right here sharing their experiences in full context"--I was talking of the soldiers who gave up their lives.  Now Brant tells me that "American soldiers risk their lives. They don't give them. That's Kamikaze". Ok, let's, then, talk about a mother who says: "If it were the only way to protect my child, I would give up my life." Brant--is this also Kamikaze from your perspective? And if not, what is the difference? We have such a mother here, so "full context" is available.

I see you have chosen a substantial discussion instead of a philosophical one a la Ayn Rand.

Generally speaking humans are biologically wired to do certain things along with concomitant physicality. Women nurture and protect while the men hunt, fish and fight. It's perfectly natural for a young man to be a warrior. The masculine wiring of the brain makes it also possible for men to go out and work by focusing down on a career. Throw Rand into this mix and she hardly has a chance. Take her male heroes. None ever wore the uniform of their country. Sure they worked, but not to bring home the bacon. I read AS in 1963. My brain got her message but my body didn't. I enlisted in lieu of being drafted--millions did--but I didn't have to volunteer for combat arms. I almost got killed; came home a killer. Because of my military experiences my warrior DNA simply got re-enforced. Because I killed I'm a killer. This month I'll be 72yo. I'm still an warrior in the sense I know I can still kill. A warrior but not an American warrior--that is, I choose my targets, not my country. I finally realized the difference, brain and body, over 13 years ago when Bush jr. was obviously decided on invading Iraq. I knew it was crap and against it. It took me a lifetime of finally integrated experiencials to overcome my testosterone. I could see the future dead and wounded--maimed--Americans, but the enormity of today's geo-political situation was way beyond my or anyone else's imagination.

Now, in the army the non-commissioned officer (NCO) plays something of a mother role to his subordinates while the officers play the father role. The officers say go there and do that and men die--their men. (Yes, the junior officers fight too.) The NCOs help them do that, but they are also very interested in keeping their fellow soldiers from being killed. As an old man I can still imagine myself as an NCO in such situations. I would willingly expose myself to death to keep the young soldiers around me from being killed. I still had the urge to go to war 25 years ago in the First Gulf War. If I had been in the National Guard I might have gone. I'd likely have come home a hero in a body bag. Someone I went to high school with, Jedh Barker, was a Marine in Vietnam manning a machinegun near the DMZ. First he was wounded, then he threw himself on a grenade posthumously getting the CMH.

Americans are of and help make a warrior nation, even today. No other country comes close. The US pioneered industrialized warfare on a massive scale in its "Civil War." 700,000 died. We beat up the Japanese with our left hand and beat up the Germans with our right and sent massive material aid to the Soviet Union. (When Germany invaded Russia it lost the war right there regardless of that aid.)

Now look at Rand's heroes in a fresh light. Heroism? What heroism? The two big heroes were Hank and Dagny, until they decided to retire to Valhalla. John Galt, at the top of Randianism, was no hero at all until the bad guys got their hands on him. Then he went through the motions plus lip service: I'll kill myself if they torture you. (He never got that choice.) Ragnar was a terrorist, except no one was killed or wounded. Francisco was in and out of the hero business throughout the novel depending on his circumstances. He'd have been much more heroic if he had not been so celibate. He never gave up his body that way for the cause. Certainly not his purity, not even for fun. Save it for Dagny. Opps! Sorry, John. I defer to you. What a crock.

Now, where is Rand's philosophical egoism in all this reality? There's good reason I stopped studying the Objectivist catechism over four decades ago. It's not enough apropos for it doesn't start with people as they are.

--Brant

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Very well written Brant.

As usual, spot on.

A...

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Anthony--"The circumstances of mother "giving up her life for her child" never happen, or close to never"--Ok, I will simplify it even more: one is captured (say, in war) and offered just these two options: become a traitor (say, reveal his army's disposition) or be executed. I hope you would not claim that this "never, or close to never" happens, for such a claim would be all too easy to refute. So, my question is simple: does Rand's ethical theory give any grounds for choosing the latter option rather than the former? NB: I am not asking how you or any other person would behave in such a situation. Nobody can know this in advance. All too often we act not up to the level of our own ethical standards. Yet this does not mean that standards does not matter. Rand, at any rate, did not think so. My question is: how do her ethical standards apply in this particular case.

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Brant--"We beat up the Japanese with our left hand and beat up the Germans with our right and sent massive material aid to the Soviet Union."--Solely was the sake of accuracy, the "right hand" actually was the Soviet Union: "Some historians of World War II suggest that by mid 1944 the USSR was strong enough to defeat Germany eventually, without any Anglo-American second front. With respect to the "practically no opposition" propaganda phrase it is also true that the Soviets, who routinely faced battles involving several hundred thousand soldiers on both sides, did not regard the 67,000 Germans defending Normandy on June 6th as serious opposition. To the Soviets, fighting 390,000 Germans in the area of a single city (Stalingrad) was meeting serious opposition." http://www.eisenhowerinstitute.org/about/living_history/wwii_soviet_experience.dot

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Hitler was so stupid. He could have gotten his army out of there before it was surrendered. The biggie was attacking the USSR in the first place. (When Napoleon was preparing to invade Russia one of his high ranking officers literally went down on his knees and begged him not to.) The Germans were in sight of Moscow when Hitler gave the order to stop the advance to mop up some in the rear. The Russians decided he was worth more to them dead than alive and gave up trying to kill him.

The Soviets neutralized the Japanese threat in the east and sent multiple divisions on the Trans-Siberian railway right into the battle for Stalingrad stopping the Germans dead in their tracks.

The Germans also started their war with Russia a month late because they had to intervene in Greece. They were so arrogant they didn't prepare their troops with winter clothing. A lot of the German re-supply effort was with horse-drawn wagons.

Hitler big blunder #1--attacking Russia.

Hitler big blunder #2--declaring war on the United States.

I know, I know--there were soo many Hitler blunders . . .

--Brant

the Soviet armies in WWII only impressed me at Stalingrad and Kursk--the German armies in Russia even less (the value of large army groups has been constantly degraded by technology [in WWI it was the machine gun, in WWII air power and armor, in the Cold War nuclear weapons])

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22 hours ago, Arkadi said:

Brant--"We beat up the Japanese with our left hand and beat up the Germans with our right and sent massive material aid to the Soviet Union."--Solely was the sake of accuracy, the "right hand" actually was the Soviet Union: "Some historians of World War II suggest that by mid 1944 the USSR was strong enough to defeat Germany eventually, without any Anglo-American second front. With respect to the "practically no opposition" propaganda phrase it is also true that the Soviets, who routinely faced battles involving several hundred thousand soldiers on both sides, did not regard the 67,000 Germans defending Normandy on June 6th as serious opposition. To the Soviets, fighting 390,000 Germans in the area of a single city (Stalingrad) was meeting serious opposition." http://www.eisenhowerinstitute.org/about/living_history/wwii_soviet_experience.dot

Thanks for the link. I knew the Germans used horses but had no idea how many. Astounding. I also didn't know enough about the brutality visited upon the Russians.

The problem with Normandy was was establishing and maintaining a beachhead. The Germans were extremely serious opposition to that. After the breakout into France proper your point gains much more weight. The huge clashing armies in the east were partially reflective of the vast amounts of real estate involved. I speculate that if Hitler hadn't attacked Russia and the US had gone to war with Germany regardless--a WWII without Russia--atomic bombings would have been needed to help end the war. But in 1945 the US had only two bombs, which it used. I doubt the war would have ended before 1948 at the earliest. (Hitler would have stood up psychologically better to atomic bombings than Hirohito did. Europe would still have had to be invaded absent a coup.)

--Brant

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18 hours ago, Arkadi said:

Anthony--"The circumstances of mother "giving up her life for her child" never happen, or close to never"--Ok, I will simplify it even more: one is captured (say, in war) and offered just these two options: become a traitor (say, reveal his army's disposition) or be executed. I hope you would not claim that this "never, or close to never" happens, for such a claim would be all too easy to refute. So, my question is simple: does Rand's ethical theory give any grounds for choosing the latter option rather than the former? NB: I am not asking how you or any other person would behave in such a situation. Nobody can know this in advance. All too often we act not up to the level of our own ethical standards. Yet this does not mean that standards does not matter. Rand, at any rate, did not think so. My question is: how do her ethical standards apply in this particular case.

More of the emergency ethics, Arkady: do you watch a lot of spy and war movies by any chance? - but of course, since such an instance HAS happened, therefore it CAN happen to any of us ... You're imaginative, I will say, but billions of men and women aren't in a novel or movie script, we live in day to day reality and are never going to face such a conundrum. To reiterate, it is only the most extreme 'lifeboat scenarios' that altruists (not saying you ) can raise, to justify sacrifices and maintain their undermining of selfish values.

(But if you insist).

As long as one is confronted with brute force, one's moral values are momentarily suspended. So, faced with either-or conflicts between highest values (where one's life is at stake), it might not be a self-sacrifice to place your army's secrets above your life, and it may not be self-sacrificial to put your life above the army's secrets, I'd say. If you choose to "become a traitor" and live, you of course can morally lie to and cheat your new masters, to buy time to evade their clutches. I believe that's the more rational option. Without life there is no value.

I have disagreement with nobody knowing in advance what to do - if applied to most circumstances. Different contexts can change things, but if one's "hierarchy of values" is made self-explicit, not left implied/subconscious as I think it seems for most people, one should know immediately which action to take.

Though sometimes I find one doesn't completely recognise every value (and disvalue) until one acts for it (or doesn't).

 

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Anthony--"do you watch a lot of spy and war movies by any chance?"--Not at all. I hate this genre. But I do love documentaries. There's a lot to learn from history. The memory and lifetime experience of any individual is very limited, and so are necessary any views based solely on this. "You're imaginative"--Not more than philosophy as an enterprise in which thought-experiment is essential. If this were not so, what would be the philosophical value of Ayn Rand's novels? On your grounds (as I understand them) one could dismiss them as well by saying that she's just being "imaginative," i.e., deliberately implementing "most extreme"/"emergency" scenarios (as, say, in AS) to make her point. "As long as brute force is involved, one's moral values are momentarily null and void."--(1) What grounds are there, in your view, to think so? (2) Do you believe that Ayn Rand also held this view? "it's not a self-sacrifice to place your army's secrets above your life"--And what is it, then?  (NB: I am asking no so much about a term you would prefer to use to characterize such an act, rather than "self-sacrifice," as about your understanding of its possible ethical value. Generally, I do not care much about words, especially as English is my second languages and I can easily miss some nuances of meaning of any word in it; however, any rational person can always explain what he or she means when using a particular word in a particular context.) "If one chooses to "become a traitor" and live, you of course can morally lie to and cheat your new masters, to buy time to evade their clutches."--I am talking of a situation in which one's lie would be right away revealed. 

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("Morality pertains only to the sphere of man's free will--only to those actions which are open to his choice". Rand, Playboy Interview)

Arkady, Of course it was all in her mind and imagination; in her words, Rand the artist re-created reality according to her metaphysical value-premises. Now all the reader has to do is compare and ascertain if some or most things she imagined are possible or already existent in reality. That's what I think we all look for in art.

The major "metaphyical value-premises" in her case are of 'man' - "as he could be and should be", volitional and rational, not subject to cruel Fate.. The literary acts (and words, thinking and feelings) by her leading men and women characters, up against destructive opponents ( to introduce dramatic tension into the plots ) are really just vehicles to illustrate and extol such beings - and their acts themselves are secondary and supportive.

Simply, the 'message' is not necessarily (or at all) to do what they do, but to see and to hold the image of how one is also capable of becoming 'man' in one's own right. (The purpose and the effect of any Romantic Realism).

 

I think self-sacrifice is simplest said as -- selling out. Of all those values, without which men would only subsist : The rational principles and personal virtues, people valued, careers, ambitions, mind independence, material things, etc., are dependent on and follow from one's highest value, one's life. It's those values of mind, people and belongings which one reneges upon when one submits to 'authority', or 'the collective', or ideologies and so on. Self-sacrifice ... to whom, or what? Effectively, one's self-ownership, actions and mind are gradually and willingly ceded over to the 'takers and users' who advocate the code of sacrifice for gain and power.

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Anthony--"Morality pertains only to the sphere of man's free will--only to those actions which are open to his choice"--Sure. The case I presented fits into this category. "The rational principles and personal virtues, people valued, careers, ambitions, mind independence, material things, etc., are dependent on and follow from one's highest value, one's life."--So, I infer, on these grounds, it would be rational and ethical for one to go for absolutely anything should this happen to be the only way to save one's life. Right? NB: I am not arguing for or against anything but just double-checking whether I get Objectivist ethical standard right.

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On 3/5/2016 at 4:54 PM, Arkadi said:

Anthony--"The circumstances of mother "giving up her life for her child" never happen, or close to never"--Ok, I will simplify it even more: one is captured (say, in war) and offered just these two options: become a traitor (say, reveal his army's disposition) or be executed. I hope you would not claim that this "never, or close to never" happens, for such a claim would be all too easy to refute. So, my question is simple: does Rand's ethical theory give any grounds for choosing the latter option rather than the former? NB: I am not asking how you or any other person would behave in such a situation. Nobody can know this in advance. All too often we act not up to the level of our own ethical standards. Yet this does not mean that standards does not matter. Rand, at any rate, did not think so. My question is: how do her ethical standards apply in this particular case.

The presence of force means ethical standards are moot--that is, they are existential to the situation as they are derived of their rational (free willed) context. What you do or don't do is all on you--and the consequences, including the psychological consequences.

As a practical matter if your enemy thinks you know something valuable to them they won't really offer you such a choice. They'll torture the information out of you. They may threaten you with it but they won't do it. How are they to find out what you know if you're dead? (When they mock executed Dostoyevsky they weren't interested in him talking. They didn't ask him to make any choices [as I recall the story].)

--Brant

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Brant--"What you do or don't do is all on you"--How is it different when no force is present? On whom "what you do or do not do" is, then, if not on you??? As to your "practical considerations": are your claiming that a situation in which the only way one can save one's life is to put others at high (if not 100%)  risk of losing it, never ever can happen?

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Or, if you wish, here is a case when decision was taken with no force present. I am wondering how it would fare against the standards of Objectivist ethics: "On 5 or 6 August 1942, German soldiers came to collect the 192 orphans (there is some debate about the actual number: it may have been 196), and about one dozen staff members, to transport them to Treblinka extermination camp. Korczak had been offered sanctuary on the “Aryan side” by Żegota but turned it down repeatedly, saying that he could not abandon his children. On 5 August he again refused offers of sanctuary, insisting that he would go with the children. He stayed with the children all the way until the end... Most likely, Korczak, along with Wilczyńska and most of the children, was killed in a gas chamber upon their arrival at Treblinka." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janusz_Korczak

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