Michael Stuart Kelly

Weird News about Ayn Rand and Objectivism

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Yeah, mega_manly. It’s my two–wheel account. If it has two wheels and is in my life, then it’s probably up on mega’s Insta, mostly motorcycles. The moto culture is big on manliness, even the women pride themselves on their manly overcoming of fears and masterly control of their machines. I wanted MegaMan, but it was taken. And so was MegaMan1, and MegaManOne. I think MegaMan8 was available. But ... 8th?

Most of my followers are in Asia and Europe where the moto cultures are much stronger, more widespread. The moto culture on Insta is great. Very positive and reinforcing. When I started at Insta a few years ago I noticed that liking a moto pic results in them immediately liking one of my pics. So, I assumed that was an Insta thing: when someone likes a pic of yours, you are “supposed to” go to their account and like one of theirs. We all do it. I have since found out that this is a nicety of our moto Insta culture and no one else at Insta seems to feel any such imperative.

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On 3/9/2020 at 11:40 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Ellen,

How about her entire 1973 article called "The Missing Link"?

In this article, Rand looked through an evolutionary lens and decided there might be a category of animal somewhere in-between other species and human beings, an evolutionary "missing link" so to speak, and she called this animal "the anti-conceptual mentality."

Although Rand did not specifically target the masses as being subhuman creatures, she strongly implied it. At least her examples were taken from individuals one can easily associate with the masses (a midwestern businessman, a novelist of gossipy stories, South American poor people who worked in a factory, and an academic going through the motions of public presentations without concern about the content).

The most important distinction in this article, though, was her dehumanization of vast quantities of humans. And Rand did not imply this. She stated it openly. From the end of her article:

There you have it.

There are, to Rand, a whole bunch of people who do not have "a human consciousness" because they are afraid to achieve one. Note, they are not born with human consciousness, as common sense would dictate, but they must achieve one. Therefore, these people, she hypothesizes, are "transitional" creatures, and desperate ones at that. They are evolutionary missing links between humans and other species.

Another way to say this is there are humans and there are subhumans. Or even another, there is a superior class of humans and an inferior class of human-like livestock.

Rand does not go into why these subhumans choose to not think conceptually, seeing that, to her, such choice is a requirement for their change in status and elevation to a human being. She merely says that a person "must become a human being by choice." Those are her words and I am not spinning anything. If one does not choose as she says, one is not human. Thus spaketh Rand.

Well, what causes a subhuman to refuse to make such a choice? The only reason she gives is fear.

In light of modern psychology, neuroscience, the DNA sciences, and so on, if anyone believes being human is merely a question of fear-based choice, they deserve what they get when they can't make their own thinking work in reality.

In that article, Rand also said:

Well, what do you know? There they go. Out go babies with the bathwater. Ker-splash!

After all, what philosophical, political, or professional grounds can a baby muster to justify its associations?

:) 

That's a quip, but I've earned that quip. I took these words of hers to heart and blasted through several families over decades before I finally got it right. Sometimes you have to live with people and deal with them when they think a lot differently than you do. That's life, or at least, living a good life. The question is, can you agree on rules of behavior, carry an attitude of goodwill and find things to share with these others? The question is not whether you both can abstract from abstractions in a similar manner.

God, when I look back on my past and see all that heartache... The string of heartaches I suffered and the heartaches I caused... It was all avoidable... So easily avoidable...

Oh well...

Although I am critical of Rand in this post, that's because I disagree with her view of human nature and its perfectability according to an ideology--and that view of human nature is what I am discussing right now. I lived this, not just thought about it in an armchair. So agree or disagree (which is your right), I am more than entitled to my critical view of her idea of human nature. I earned the right to say she was insightful about some parts of human nature and, try as she might, those parts did not extend to cover the entire human being. I am right, too, because I figured it out and got it right--in action, not just by deducing life from principles. I have a far better family, one that gives me great happiness, right here and right now than she did at the end of her life. That's proof enough for me.

Try perfecting a teenager, for God's sake. :) Talk about a lost cause at the outset... :) And try having a family if you throw out the teenager because that is not a "proper association." :) 

Fortunately, there is a lot more to Rand than this and I am richer for having internalized it. But discussing that is for other contexts. Also, the more I study her fiction, the more enthralled I get with her artistry. She was a brilliant fiction writer in so many ways. But like I said, now is not the time to talk about it.

Michael

 

On 3/9/2020 at 9:40 PM, Ellen Stuttle said:

Rand had good things to say about the American "common man."

Nonetheless, her expressed views about the large majority of humankind were dismissive.  Google the word "ballast" in Rand's work.

Here's an example from the title essay of For the New Intellectual.  This isn't early Rand.  It was written after Atlas Shrugged.

Ellen

In those two revealing earlier excerpts (not re- quoted here, sadly) brought in by Ellen and Michael, the prime emphasis by Rand is on becoming and being man "by choice". Seeing, absorbing, assimilating, arranging and evaluating what's good or bad for us, from reality - is not automated in us, like is every biological action. (And "reality" is humanity too). I understand the concern, but Rand's is not a supremacist, Nietszchean view limited to the favored Few, it's what is the *normal* state (qualitatively, clearly not quantatively) for humankind, by what she described as the nature of "man". The volitionally reasoning creature. The conceptual capability cuts across any and all present or previous lines and barriers (wealth, "class", ability, "privilege", level of intelligence, ethnicity, secularist/religionist, education, all the usual suspects.). Anyone can choose it, to apply oneself to visibly seeing reality for what it is, absorbing and assimilating and evaluating, to finally act precisely on what one knows. How well and how rigorously/consistently, makes for the great variety among people. But looking at the results today, millions of "common" people have lived who could gather and retain some amounts of knowledge conceptually, no matter how humble and modest their lives and work. So no, I see nothing "elitist" of Rand in her statements above on "the missing link" or anywhere in the philosophy.

Objectivist metaphysics, the nature of existence - and man's essential identity -  provides the great Leveler.

I offer in contrast, for me, the clearest examples today of the "anti-conceptual mentality" who are predominantly over on the Left. Otherwise successful in some, mostly public fields, intelligent, articulate and well-educated there are many who are locked in to the sensory level: the concretist skeptics. If it weren't for their sensations and emotionalism, one wonders if they know they exist. It follows from their evident anti-conceptualism that they will have an undeveloped personal sense of self, a fear of others' independent minds which is an affront to them for lacking it themselves, all that matters are the feelings of, and power over the masses - that shows in their hatred of the individual and embrace of the tribal collectives (the ones they select) . The much larger numbers who follow and empower them (so to feel empowered themselves) make up Rand's " ballast", I think.  The anti-conceptualist is not only inimical to himself but intent on destroying or controlling others. ... and I easily understand Rand's disgust at their sub-humanity. Every inhumanity of men to men committed can be laid at their feet.

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Tony,

Long time.

Great to see you.

:) 

I have many reasons to object to the subhuman label. But only time enough to cover one.

We can argue over what Rand meant or not, but there is one constant throughout all history. Genocides and mass slaughters of people can only happen if the label "subhuman" is attached to those being slaughtered. The victims must be demonized like that, otherwise the people who do the actual killing lose morale quickly and just stop.

Also, dehumanization of mankind is the first principle of indoctrination in almost all cult brainwashing. We (the insiders) are the true humans. Everyone else is not on the human level. Sometimes this is disguised as being woke. (The social justice warriors should read Gurdjieff on this point and discover they are not in the least original in their formulation. :) )

I'm definitely not about PC language, but the label "subhuman" has a long and strong history of being an effective psychological tool for dehumanizing collectives enough so they can be mass persecuted by otherwise good people. The problem is not the intent of the person assigning that label. The problem is how that label lands, how it is perceived, by the people who do the dirty work. 

You can say Rand's intent was this or that when she used the term "subhuman," but people perceive it differently. (Shit flavored ice cream will generally be perceived as gross even if the person who made up the label intended it to mean a delicious new flavor.)

Notice that Randians are not immune. When they believe they are talking to subhumans, they get real cold and often hostile. Some of them can get gratuitously nasty and arrogant--much more so than the situation warrants. (We often call these last misguided souls Randroids. :) )

Not to practice instead of theory.

Here's a question. Is a person in a coma--with the possibility of never waking up--in your conception of Objectivism--a human being? If not, what is he or she?

If you think this is a trivial question or beside the point, let me point out the the stakes couldn't be higher. They are literally life and death.

If you say human, then the whole anticonceptual missing link subhuman category falls apart. A person in a coma cannot think at all, much less conceptually. So what is the standard?

If you say a person in a coma is a "potential human being," you are putting that person in the same category Rand put fetuses. And in that state, according to Rand, they can be slaughtered with no fundamental ethical issue involved when thinking about the killed.

When Rand says "subhuman," I much prefer descriptions like undeveloped, undisciplined, loopy, stupid and so forth, even anti-intellectual, anti-conceptual, or shit-for-brains. Just so long as we are talking about human beings, not subhumans.

That's why I call a fetus a human in the first stages of growth and a person in a coma a damaged human when I am identifying them for thought or discussion. And even if I use other words, that meaning is what I always mean.

I don't like it when words of identification are constantly used as value judgments to the point of annulling the identification unless humor, sarcasm and the like are being employed.

Evil human beings to me are not subhuman. They are 100% human. And they are evil. If I ever kill one, I will not want to blank out that knowledge. I would want to make sure an evil human being is what I wanted to kill, not a mental idea with a major part of reality omitted to make it easier for me. I would want my idea and reality to be in perfect correspondence. 

A dog, on the other hand, is subhuman (when using the brain potential of the species as a standard). And, despite being subhuman, there are plenty of good doggies. :) 

Michael

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In moto culture we infrahumanize Cagers. Wait, let me fix that, Fucking Idiot Cagers. It’s terrible. I say “we,” but I don’t do it because I am a “Cager,” as well as a rider. It’s the moto-only guys, who only ride, and most in their twenties, who feel and talk this way. Oh, I haven’t said what Cagers are. Fucking Idiot Cagers are people driving a car, badly, and it almost gets you killed. See, they are safe inside a 3,000-pound steel “cage.” We are exposed and soft and going 75mph three feet over the asphalt. So the ingroup perception is that those immune and skill-free little fuckers don’t appreciate the danger they create and should really just be banned from the streets. I’ve never heard any economic envy, or class hate, never heard “fucking suits” from any moto guys. But if you go on just about any group ride half of them will be regaling with Fucking Idiot Cager stories all through lunch. This fucking Idiot Cager who pulled out on us on the Parkway and that fucking Idiot Cager who signaled left and turned right.. 

Also, people who tell us who they knew who died on a motorcycle. (All anti-moto people, that’s just one subtle example of it.) We infrahumanize them, too. That one I do jump in on. It just makes me think: if I told you excitedly about my new car, would you cringe like that and then tell me who you knew who have died in cars? I’m sure you would just congratulate me on the car, so WTF exactly is happening here, moto-bigot?

But we all do it. We are cliquey, groupie. Roark is a myth.

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Assclown Society can’t get a simple quote right.

Her deleted last three words were “by brute force.”

I commented within mere minutes of it going up, but they evidently don’t care.

(Rand Paul Society never gets Paul’s quotes wrong, of which they post many each and every day.)

 

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Sassy and ingenious beyond belief. I wonder how long she thought before coming up with that. Does it get any better? No. Well, maybe “I know you are, but what am I?”

 

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On 3/13/2020 at 11:46 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Long time.

Great to see you.

:) 

I have many reasons to object to the subhuman label. But only time enough to cover one.

We can argue over what Rand meant or not, but there is one constant throughout all history. Genocides and mass slaughters of people can only happen if the label "subhuman" is attached to those being slaughtered. The victims must be demonized like that, otherwise the people who do the actual killing lose morale quickly and just stop.

Also, dehumanization of mankind is the first principle of indoctrination in almost all cult brainwashing. We (the insiders) are the true humans. Everyone else is not on the human level. Sometimes this is disguised as being woke. (The social justice warriors should read Gurdjieff on this point and discover they are not in the least original in their formulation. :) )

I'm definitely not about PC language, but the label "subhuman" has a long and strong history of being an effective psychological tool for dehumanizing collectives enough so they can be mass persecuted by otherwise good people. The problem is not the intent of the person assigning that label. The problem is how that label lands, how it is perceived, by the people who do the dirty work. 

You can say Rand's intent was this or that when she used the term "subhuman," but people perceive it differently. (Shit flavored ice cream will generally be perceived as gross even if the person who made up the label intended it to mean a delicious new flavor.)

Notice that Randians are not immune. When they believe they are talking to subhumans, they get real cold and often hostile. Some of them can get gratuitously nasty and arrogant--much more so than the situation warrants. (We often call these last misguided souls Randroids. :) )

Not to practice instead of theory.

Here's a question. Is a person in a coma--with the possibility of never waking up--in your conception of Objectivism--a human being? If not, what is he or she?

If you think this is a trivial question or beside the point, let me point out the the stakes couldn't be higher. They are literally life and death.

If you say human, then the whole anticonceptual missing link subhuman category falls apart. A person in a coma cannot think at all, much less conceptually. So what is the standard?

If you say a person in a coma is a "potential human being," you are putting that person in the same category Rand put fetuses. And in that state, according to Rand, they can be slaughtered with no fundamental ethical issue involved when thinking about the killed.

When Rand says "subhuman," I much prefer descriptions like undeveloped, undisciplined, loopy, stupid and so forth, even anti-intellectual, anti-conceptual, or shit-for-brains. Just so long as we are talking about human beings, not subhumans.

That's why I call a fetus a human in the first stages of growth and a person in a coma a damaged human when I am identifying them for thought or discussion. And even if I use other words, that meaning is what I always mean.

I don't like it when words of identification are constantly used as value judgments to the point of annulling the identification unless humor, sarcasm and the like are being employed.

Evil human beings to me are not subhuman. They are 100% human. And they are evil. If I ever kill one, I will not want to blank out that knowledge. I would want to make sure an evil human being is what I wanted to kill, not a mental idea with a major part of reality omitted to make it easier for me. I would want my idea and reality to be in perfect correspondence. 

A dog, on the other hand, is subhuman (when using the brain potential of the species as a standard). And, despite being subhuman, there are plenty of good doggies. :) 

Michael

Michael, I think I must have missed your reply. Probably Rand's "subhuman" can be seen as an odd use, and I take the good argument that it's always been the device of the most brutal kind who morally justify whatever they do against some group of other people, as due to those others' evident sub-humanity.

However, in objectively "taking back" that term from common use, as I see it, aren't the real sub-humans they who carried out the brutal acts?

In other words, anyone devoid of the least humanity to others?

The objectively chosen standard is man and his life. But even those who don't overtly subscribe to the standard, "man" are often decent people and "good" humans. Having respect for others' rights for one. Living honestly for their own ends. Aware of others' capacity to be hurt and suffer, too. For those monsters who fall below even that standard, and act accordingly, sub human is the least they can be called.

A human who is such - a sub-human - I believe has chosen a lower status than a dog. Instinctive animals can't be moral or immoral, they behave true to their nature. In my experience there's been no "bad dog", only bad owners, dogs who've been trained badly or brutalized by their owners. I can honestly state I like my dogs more than some humans!

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The word, “subhuman” is an odd choice of a word for objectivists. I found several old letters using that word and here are two of them. Peter

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Message - to Michael DeVault Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 14:38:25 -0600. Michael, I'll begin with your last idea where you claim, "Lest we forget that in the last twenty years, we've communicated *concepts* with three different species of mammals. How long before we've expanded that to thirty? Sixty? Ten thousand?"

No, we have not communicated "concepts" to any animals.  We have taught them by means of percepts and persistent repetition to respond to percepts.  all animal and bird "tricks" are taught by these methods. They do not form or understand any concepts, they are conditioned to respond to the percepts presented to them - usually by rewarding them with treats - it's merely an update on the old carrot and stick method of training.  The three species you mention are trained by the same methods - percept to percept.

Now to answer your questions. Well, I don't like to respond to and deal with unlikely hypotheticals, but *hypothetically*, yes, if and when it is proven that animals form concepts and think conceptually, I would think they have evolved into something similar to human volitional consciousness.  But knowing what I know about birds and animals, I see no likelihood of that occurring. When it does, if ever, I'd accept evidence and proof.  I'm rational and objective, Michael, really!

You ask, "What is the difference between thinking volitionally and thinking NON-volitionally?"

Surely you know by now that, in Objectivism, "focus" means for a human to raise the level of one's conscious awareness from a lower level to a higher level.  This is consciousness in action, initiating and directing its own mental actions in the realm of cognition.  And that man is a being of volitional consciousness.  This is Rand's teachings.

So, there is no "non-volitional thinking".  Volition is a primary metaphysical attribute of consciousness actions - the actions of initiating the raising or lowering of awareness. One must "focus" in order to think, but one is free not to do so, i.e., one may lower awareness to the level where thinking is severely undermined, and may be evaded altogether.  Either one is thinking volitionally, or one is not consciously aware.  Rand stated, "Exististentially, the choice "to focus or not" is the choice "to be conscious or not." "

You think, "It seems to me, Ellen, what you're doing is trying to hedge your statements in such a manner that, if an animal were proven to be able to recognize similarities you could come back and establish that that animal was not volitional -- therefore not capable of complex thought. If faced with that, by the way you've constructed this mindset of "think volitionally" and "focus" being prerequisite, you could in all honesty establish that man might not pass your test."

No, if an animal could  "recognize similarities" via measurement omission it might mean that animals possess some form of "primitive volition" [Rand's term for the preconceptual level of cognition], but there is no evidence for that I am aware of - people assert this idea, but offer no evidence.  As to the rest, it is obvious to me that most humans do not "focus" and think much of the time.  Recall Dagny saying "Do they ever think?"  I often react in that way to what I hear of people saying and doing.  there are lots of people who do not rise to the level of subhuman.  9/11.

Me? Afraid of animals and their abilities?  Don't be silly.  I love animals.  I think it is absolutely amazing what animals can accomplish while limited to the perceptual level of their knowledge.  And they dote on me, too.  I'll take my dogs and cats anytime in preference to some people. Ellen M.

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: "Hail, All Volitionists, Come Help Me!

Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2001 20:22:58 -0600 Ellen Moore wrote: "Actually, there are a few reasons that I cannot assist you here. One, I'd have to present the Objectivist theory of volition -- and none of you, it appears, can understand it."

Why do assume that someone who may disagree with Rand cannot understand her position? Indeed, judging by your piece on "The Objectivist Revolution of Philosophy," you have some significant disagreements with Rand yourself.

Ellen wrote: "Two, you are mistaken to say that there are "reasons" for volitional actions -- the point is that Human Consciousness, volitional actions of awareness *are* metaphysical Identity, are necessary and sufficient as causal primaries with no prior motivating factor required."

I am aware this is your position, but since I can make little sense of it, I don't accept it. (You really need to clarify what you mean by the cryptic remark, "volitional actions of awareness *are* metaphysical Identity.") Moreover, if no reason or motive can possibly be relevant to the choice to focus -- as when we say, "I chose to focus because I wanted to understand the situation" -- then there is no possible basis for calling this choice good, desirable, morally praiseworthy, and the like. If there can be no reasons or motives that influence (not cause) the choice to focus, then the choice is an utterly arbitrary one and hence beyond the pale of moral judgment -- just as when we dub a proposition "arbitrary" when no reasons are given to support it.

Ellen wrote: "Three, all you and your opponents talk about, refer to, and slip-slide around are choices, choices, choices which are not primaries - volitional actions of consciousness are axiomatic primaries [to 'focus' is to be conscious].  Thinking is not a primary."

Since Rand refers repeatedly to "the choice to focus or not" (e.g., VOS, p. 21) as the foundational act of a volitional consciousness, the issue of choice is obviously fundamental to the Objectivist theory of volition, even if we distinguish focusing from thinking. I don't know why you feel the need to disagree with Rand here by claiming that focusing is not a "choice," since her argument that focusing is a "choice" (which she has stated very clearly) is an eminently reasonable one. To choose is to select from among two or more alternatives. And since man faces the alternatives of focusing or not, he must *choose* one or the other. After all, this is why Rand called man a being of volitional consciousness. Focusing and thinking are not automatic, so man must choose to initiate these mental activities though the volitional mental action known as "choosing."

If you wish to claim that Rand did *not* regard focusing as a choice in spite of her *explicit* statements to the contrary, then please direct me to the relevant passages in her writing where she says this. I'm not aware that she ever changed her mind about this matter, and I know of no other way of interpreting her comments about "the choice to focus or not" except to assume that she considered focusing to be a kind of choice. In other words, I take Rand at her word; I assume she was a careful writer who could express herself clearly. I therefore assume that when she explicitly refers to focusing as a "choice," she did not mean to say that focusing is *not* a choice. I think you may find this simple methodological assumption useful when reading Rand.

Moreover, according to Objectivism, "to focus" is not literally to become conscious; rather, it is to *move* from a lower level of sensations and perceptions to a higher, conceptual level. A being who is literally unconscious could not choose to do anything, much less "choose to focus." When Rand says that "an unfocused mind is not conscious" she is referring to a conceptual level that is proper to man, for she also states that an unfocused mind "may be said to be conscious in a subhuman sense of the word, since he experiences sensations and perceptions." (VOS, p. 21) Hence your statement that "to focus is to be conscious" can be misleading unless properly qualified.

Ellen wrote: "In fact, while I was extremely worried about my husband, I had a moment of humor as I thought about Atlantis.  Here we are on an Objectivist list, and look at the ideas some of us harbor.  These are anti-Rand and anti-Objectivist, irrationalist, immoralist, amoralist, and evil, altruist and anarchist, racist and collectivist, etc.  Of all the possible perversity, it is here now."

If you want to condemn anyone who happens to disagree with Ayn Rand as irrational, evil, or whatever, then so be it, but this name-calling will get us nowhere. The current debate has focused intensively on Ayn Rand's ideas concerning causation and volition, and I don't know what subject matter could be better-suited to a forum dedicated to her ideas. Or do you believe that only those who agree with Ayn Rand in every detail should ever submit posts to Atlantis? Among other things, this requirement would render Atlantis boring beyond belief.

Ellen wrote: "As for volitionist vs determinist, we have: George Smith, a "choices volitionist", who likes to label his opponents as "Randian Determinists" because it accomplished three purposes at once -- it's a contradiction in terms, it derides them as anti-Randian determinists, and it denigrates Rand's theory of volition."

Since Rand speaks of both "the choice to focus or not" and "the choice to think or not," she would also qualify as a "choices volitionist," by your standards. I am merely using her terminology.

As for the label "Randian determinists," I doubt if anyone except you (and Jason Alexander, of course -- that is a given) has trouble understanding what I meant by this label and why I have used it, given the context of the current debate. Bill and Roger claim that Rand's theory of volition is inconsistent with her theory of causality, so they base their defense of psychological determinism on what they *believe* to be Randian premises. Now, I happen to disagree with this argument, but the label "Randian determinist" is a convenient shorthand for describing the position I am arguing against, since it serves to distinguish those determinists who accept Rand's agency theory of causation from other determinists who don't.

You surely can't be serious in claiming that I label my opponents "Randian determinists" *because* "it's a contradiction in terms" and *because* "it denigrates Rand's theory of volition." Is this what you meant to say? Are you saying that I deliberately set out to coin a self-contradictory label because I wanted to denigrate Rand's theory of volition? If so, this is one of the most bizarre statements I have seen on Atlantis in a long time.

Btw, I assume you and others understand that my call for help was a joke, especially since I placed a smiley face after it. I personally think the debate has been going quite well, but I would like to see comments from other volitionists on this list, provided they are willing to deal with the relevant issues of causation, etc.. Ghs

 

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

... aren't the real sub-humans they who carried out the brutal acts?

Tony,

In my way of thinking, no.

Are cannibals in the jungle human beings, for instance? Well, yes, they are human beings. They can do everything human beings do, they have the same DNA, etc. etc. etc.

They practice something evil, but they are humans practicing evil, not subhumans practicing evil. They are primitive humans, but they are still humans.

It's the eternal turnip question (a variation on the chicken and egg question 🙂 ).

Is a rotten turnip a turnip or a subturnip?

🙂

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

In my way of thinking, no.

Are cannibals in the jungle human beings, for instance? Well, yes, they are human beings. They can do everything human beings do, they have the same DNA, etc. etc. etc.

They practice something evil, but they are humans practicing evil, not subhumans practicing evil. They are primitive humans, but they are still humans.

It's the eternal turnip question (a variation on the chicken and egg question 🙂 ).

Is a rotten turnip a turnip or a subturnip?

🙂

Michael

Okay yes, if one takes the human biological nature. But in the objective framing this is not a biological matter, this concerns man.

All depends on accepting that "man" is properly man by virtue of his consciousness. His physical nature is 'the given'. Animal-plus-rational?

Some anthropologist ¬might¬ make a defense for cannibals that they are innocent of any evil, having inherited their tribal primitive customs, without question. But as careful as one may be not to casually judge everybody "sub - human" (and often by intrinsicist error) even a possibly grey area like cannibalism could not be tolerated: by the basic standards of humanity, if not by objective ethics.

Non-judging tolerance is very much how moral relativism and cultural relativism have gained prominence.

A cannibal is not UNconscious and he can't evade seeing that his victim has a life which matters to him/her, as must his own.

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Okay yes, if one takes the human biological nature. But in the objective framing this is not a biological matter, this concerns man.

Tony,

Ayn Rand said do not examine a folly, only ask what it accomplishes. Well what does calling an individual "subhuman" accomplish? If kept up in public (which Rand did), it starts a cognitive bias in viewers called "the bandwagon effect," which means people seeing you insist Person XXX is subhuman will start to agree without thinking it through. Then "availability bias" will kick in and people will start to conclude that those like Person XXX are also subhuman. This crap grows and unfolds until the killing time. History is full of cases like this. One can ignore them, but they exist.

But at the mass killing point, you have a real problem beyond the deaths.

Why? Because people in the throes of this process feel it's easier and even morally good to kill off subhumans. Especially when their moral leaders condemn the subhumans as not worthy of living on earth. (Even suffering from a "death premise" in Rand's argument.) This turns into bigotry and death. Which is bad enough. But the real problem with calling them subhuman is how to get the self-righteous crusaders to stop killing them. The killers think they are doing a moral good.

In order to get them to stop, just to get them to listen at this stage, you have to start with the definition of subhuman--kinda like something that "concerns man" :evil: .

I'm not in favor of PC language, so people can say what they want. If you think it's OK for some people to call others subhuman, that's your right. The problem become the standard. Who is subhuman? Blacks? Gays? Nonconceptual thinkers? Communists? And so on. If you believe it's right and just to call one category subhuman, but not the others, the standard sounds arbitrary to me. Who decides? The blacks, gays, nonconceptual thinkers, Communists, etc.? Or you? Hmmmmm?... 🙂  What if they think you're subhuman? 

But I can say what I want, too. So I will never promote Rand's version of leveling charges of subhuman at others. Nor will I pretend that doing so will lead to places different than where it leads.

For an easy example to back up my stance, I have been doing this online thing for some time. I recall too many cases where ARI folks have gleefully promoted mass killing online or indifference to it. Right off the top of my head, several years ago I recall a tidal wave or hurricane destroyed an island. (I don't remember the details but I can look it up.)  ARI then came out with an article saying that people who chipped in to help the victims were practicing evil because altruism is evil. That was a step too far, the backlash was brutal, and the ARI folks took it down.

My question is this.

Where did they learn that doing that or saying that was good? 

They didn't put that article out because they wanted to preach evil. They thought they were preaching the good.

Well, the simply truth is they learned it from Rand, from her saying that some people were human and others subhuman. They were not saying the islanders were subhuman, but once you let that idea into your soul, it's a tiny step to feel that since some members of the human species are not worthy of living, and it's good to get rid of them, what's a few more mass deaths here and there? No skin off their ass, right?

I can practice Rand's ideas without doing that to myself.

In fact I do.

🙂 

And it starts with standing up to the idea of "subhuman," and seeing what idea that produces with my own eyes, even if Rand used it often. In fact, I don't like that she used it seriously and, from where I sit, she was wrong to do that.

I have no problem with killing a bad guy. If I ever do that, I would sleep like a baby without a smidgen of guilt, that is, if the bad he did was awful enough. But in that case, I would be killing a bad human--a human who did bad things, not a subhuman.

I also believe in redemption. Subhumans cannot be redeemed. It doesn't matter if they confess doing bad things or if they do good things. If they are subhuman, they are bad innately, so, in the end, they must be purged from mankind or put onto a farm or something to get them away from humans. Call it species hygiene. Well... I don't think that, I don't resonate with it and I feel creepy when I ponder it. That's another reason I hate this concept.

Michael

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Michael, right, if there's one "folly" to take heed of, it's mimicking Rand's words while not having her conceptual ability and broad view!

It is one's own life to lead, not to unthinkingly follow anyone, no matter how great.

The folly's 'consequences' might be cause of an unhappy life dedicated to seeking out and pronouncing judgments on other people - merely to exercise one's superior principles . Self-righteousness and feeling holier than thou,  is unpalatable at best, damaging and second handed at worst and I found usually signals some false (intrinsic, revealed) identifications and invalid self esteem, when I've succumbed to it.

Interesting, this leads back to "perfection" we've talked about. Here, the false alternative of 'perfect' individuals vs. absolute immoral ones, those who can do no wrong, and they who can do no right, the Saints vs. the Sinners. The characters who've played a big part in Objectivism's past come to mind. Same again now with ARI and you know who... I believe however, one can experience and abstract the polar standards of moral black and white, from which to assess and grade, the good, innocent, wrong, evil etc. into mixed categories. Not always and entirely one or the other. Words have currency, and overuse (or petty use) will devalue the concepts.

An individual still has to "judge" all things and others, foremost for one's self interest (e.g. whom to stay clear of) and only private use - secondly, to openly call out real evil when it occurs. I have no problem with the term as you do, I personally reserve "sub human" for anyone who deliberately carries out certain actions on a larger scale. Not by their thinking or lack of.

A human, in the biological sense, rates worse, simply because by his nature as a biological being, he can't hide from perceiving the physical vulnerability of his human victims. His choice of action puts himself beneath human-ness and animal-ness. Rare is an animal that injures or kills another without (instinctual or human trained) 'cause'.

Definitely -  a person can redeem himself, he's not predetermined. What he once did by choice (I think evasion is chosen) he can relearn with other choices.

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4 hours ago, anthony said:

Michael, right, if there's one "folly" to take heed of, it's mimicking Rand's words while not having her conceptual ability and broad view!

Tony,

One has to be real careful with this way of thinking.

How many times has socialism been tried in the world and how many times have the results been a bloody pile of bodies? Then how many times have we heard that the real reason is that people didn't practice real socialism because they didn't really understand it, etc.?

Ditto with this concept of subhuman. Every time it gains mainstream currency, bloodshed occurs. Jews were subhuman in Russia and Europe throughout the 1800's and leading up to WWII where genocide was attempted in Germany. Blacks were subhuman during the black slavery years throughout the world. Homosexuals were--and are--subhuman in certain Muslim countries, as are apostates. In war, one side almost always dehumanizes the other just so soldiers can kill each other with gusto. I can cite example after example.

Maybe the masses don't have Rand's conceptual ability... but the blood that is shed by them is real when they take dehumanization seriously. And the causal link between one group of people conceiving of another as subhumans and mass executions has been studied over and over.

Incidentally, speaking of studies, the idea of subhuman is also one of the glues that holds cults together. It is present in all the materials I have studied on cults. Dehumanization of those outside the group is an essential ingredient.

So, in light of such massive evidence, do we fix the problem and get rid of the subhuman category as valid for human beings, or do we ignore the problem in order to exalt Rand because she liked to use the term?

If we choose the second, that is exactly the mental process died-in-the-wool socialists use with Marx and Engels to keep the flame burning--i.e., the ideas and concepts of Marx and Engels are 100% correct and it's the world's fault that bloodshed always happens when those ideas are implemented.

4 hours ago, anthony said:

... one can experience and abstract the polar standards of moral black and white, from which to assess and grade, the good, innocent, wrong, evil etc. into mixed categories. Not always and entirely one or the other. Words have currency, and overuse (or petty use) will devalue the concepts.

This is exactly my point. You just gave the correct way to set standards for evaluation and the process by which those standards get oversimplified in the mainstream.

If we know that, then we have to take it into account when we persuade, when we frame our ideas for public consumption.

Once the idea of subhuman gets into the mainstream to denote a group of people, it is no longer a degree, even if that was the original intent. It is a category. And that category hardens as persecution unfolds.

Those who use the term subhuman with frequency need to keep this in mind. Or they can evade this reality... :evil:  🙂 

Michael

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Michael,

By the simple device of turn-about - removing the "sub human" appellation from its historical context applied to innocent victims - blacks, Jews, and so on - and replacing the identity firmly on those who committed acts of mass abuse, makes a powerful effect. 

(Recalls Rand questioned on why she called a morality "selfishness". Something like: "because it offends you".  Is that correct?)

I stress that the value in resuscitating the term should not just be as "a device" to shock people with. The oppressive and murderous brutes wholly justify to be called "sub human" for de-humanizing other groups. If and when it gains universal traction, the sub human brutes of the future can be stopped in their tracks, by calling them what they are.

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Evil Nazis identified Jews as subhuman, and evil slavers and slave owners identified their slaves as subhuman. And they were right to do so, it allows for blanket immorality. It is using the identification/label as justification to rightly commit evil.

Evil is a judgement, subhuman is a label to wield.

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1 hour ago, tmj said:

Evil Nazis identified Jews as subhuman, and evil slavers and slave owners identified their slaves as subhuman. And they were right to do so, it allows for blanket immorality. It is using the identification/label as justification to rightly commit evil.

Evil is a judgement, subhuman is a label to wield.

By "right", I  assume you mean as -fitting- to the Nazis' (etc.) purposes?

Then of course, it (sub-humanism) was their "device" to psychologically make acceptable to others and themselves, whatever acts they plan to carry out.

That technique has been researched and studied to death. Everyone now knows, intellectually, how past atrocities were achieved. Not that more brutes won't spring up. 

So you take it away from them and fit the label back on them, they who deserve it.

Evil is an act.

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It’s more a device, you’re right, but that’s the point ,it’s an epithet. 

Man you really hate those subhumans. or the brutes that may come. But your sympathies are showing too, a little. Nice to give them out , they need the device to fully convince themselves, too, not just others ?

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17 hours ago, anthony said:

... removing the "sub human" appellation from its historical context...

Tony,

What historical context?

I hope you're not thinking of the former paradise of the land of milk and honey where people never hated without rational reasons and used the term subhuman in the form Rand did, but then the polluters of humanity and culture came along and attached the term to innocent victims in order to persecute them.

:evil:  🙂 

On a serious note, there is another aspect I want to mention. I am thinking out loud right now, but I think I am on to something, so I want to throw it out there.

I have wondered about the ferocity and total irrationality of Trump haters when the name Trump comes up. It's like a Pavlovian response. The bell dings and the saliva comes. There is no reasoning with them. Their hatred is visceral and vicious in much the same manner the Randian fundies hate the Brandens. I have examined and discussed this idea and that idea, but nothing has satisfied me as to why this happens to otherwise intelligent people.

Then our discussion of the term subhuman opened a vein of thought.

Why does that term subhuman work the way it does by frying people's brains in hate? I think I have an inkling.

But let's start with sex, shall we?

Why?

Maybe context. Maybe fun. 🙂 But notice the continuation below.

On 10/30/2016 at 6:37 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Here's a tidbit for you from a Randian perspective, though. I find it very cute. Have you noticed that Rand's sex scenes are full of animal violence like scratching and biting along with intense passion? I read a book called Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain by Douglas Fields. I learned there that in brain cells that are highly associated with snapping (if I recall correctly, they are in the hypothalamus), the sex brain cells are right next to the anger brain cells. This is why rape or (or even consensual sex) often comes after violent attacks.

In other words, through introspecting (Rand's main form of observing psychology), she felt the strong emotional tugs--which we now know are due to physical proximity of brain cells--and ran with them. She had no way of knowing about the science because science had not discovered it when she wrote, but she remained true to herself even though scratching and biting someone you love isn't very rational. 🙂  

btw - One of the ways they know about these cells is through brain surgery and laser signals through optical fiber cable. Scientists have discovered that a bleep of laser light activates brain cells, so they have done experiments on lab animals with it. What they do is drill a hole in the head of the animal's skull and implant a super-thin fiber optic cable in its brain that terminates in a certain cell. When they send light through the cable, the animal instantly changes behavior. They normally put a bunch of these cables in at the same time so they can test and map a bunch of brain cells and the poor little animal looks like it has whiskers coming out of the top of its head. 🙂  

Anyway, when they send light to one cell, the animal attacks with all the rage it has. They turn the light off and the animal stops. Ditto for other behaviors like chilling, being horny, etc.

I have mentioned this several other times. 

On 4/6/2018 at 1:37 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... example that was originally done on rats and later replicated in different forms with humans. If you run a fiber optic cable through the skull and down through the brain and end it on a specific neuron in the hippocampus, just by flicking a light on and off, you can produce immediate rage and immediate shutdown of the rage in the subject. The first scientist to make this famous used a slightly different form--a more primitive one with electricity--and would do it with a bull charging at him for dramatic effect. The charging bull would stop on a dime when he flicked a switch.

Another time:

On 11/21/2018 at 12:10 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

There are many experiments where scientists have artificially triggered this snapping process in lab rats by drilling holes in a rat's skull, ramming fiber optic cables down through the brain until each end point sits on a specific neuron. When they run light through a fiber optic cable and stop for, say, an aggression neuron, the rat immediately goes ballistic and stops like with an on-off switch. Ditto for sex, basking, and other actions. btw - The image of a rat with what looks like whiskers coming out of the top of its head is really weird to think about. 🙂 

Another time:

On 6/23/2019 at 3:14 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

This is a note to myself.

There is a book I found extremely enlightening (for my fiction writing), but I was always confused about one point. The book is called Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain by Douglas Fields. There's a lot of technical stuff, but the innate part of our rage circuits start at specific neurons on the hippocampus. They've even done experiments on rats where they drill a hole in a rat's head, insert a fiber optic thread that ends on a specific neuron, say, one that makes the rat become blind with rage, then send pulses that trigger the neuron. They can then turn the rage on and off instantly with a switch. Switch it on, the rat goes apeshit. Switch it off, the rat instantly calms down.

Fields identified 9 neural circuits that prompt a person to snap. But instead of fiber optic threads, the trigger happens by built up pressure. Over time, with enough pressure, this finally triggers the circuit to overpower the rest of the brain and the person will engage in something physical, usually bad, and it will be automatic. (But sometimes a good action can follow, like when a person immediately jumps in a river to save a drowning person, then doesn't remember jumping in.)

He used an acronym for the nine circuits.

L = Life and limb
I = Insult
F = Family and friends
E = Environment (territory)
M = Mate
O = Order (rules of society)
R = Resources (food and shelter)
T = Tribe
S = Stopped (stuck)

For fiction writing, if you apply pressure to one or more of these circuits on a character in a story and keep piling it on, there will come a natural climax where the character will erupt. That's been my focus. (Paddy Chayefsky, the screenwriter for Network, basically said this was his goal of writing, without the neuroscience, of course.)

In this last post, I was responding to a very interesting video from earlier in that thread that I think bears on Trump Derangement Syndrome--and even might reinforce someone's bias in calling another person or group of people "subhuman." I highly recommend this video.

On 6/23/2019 at 2:08 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... Mark Leary gave me a frame for much of the bullshit that happens on forums and in social media.

The issue is rules of social exchange.

Some people imagine the rules of social exchange are only what is in their heads and they collide with people who are committed to their own set of rules for how others need to act in social settings.

Then, after pressure builds, they lose it over bullshit.

This is a pattern I have seen way too often to ignore.

It's even why a lot of people--ones who have preached for decades exactly what President Trump has done recently--can't stand him. He doesn't act like the way they want people to act in social exchanges.

They want to be the ones to lay down the rules, not him. And substance doesn't matter. Their thing is who controls the rules.

I continued the post before this one as a specific comment on this video and the 9 neural circuits Fields mentioned:

On 6/23/2019 at 3:14 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... I was always confused about O (order, rules of society). Mark Leary's explanation finally made it make sense to me. There is no such thing as society innately in the brain, but there is an innate neural groove where how to deal with other members of the species can develop through learned behavior. Note, this is not learned behavior on a blank slate, the way Rand says. It is learned behavior within a neural template, a groove, a premade form of sorts.

 

I've got more stuff to write, but I spent too much time on this this morning.

Basically, I am sure neural networks get formed with stories. And neurons come in many different types, including the rage circuit neurons in the hippocampus. I'm thinking if a strong neural circuit reinforced by core stories and cultural stories involved presenting selective images that can look like President Trump (old white guy, rich, vulgar, bully, etc.) and those images are connected with several of the rage neurons, say, Insult, Environment, Order (social rules), Tribe and Stopped (stuck), there is no rationality on earth will will cut through that until the neural circuit gets weakened. Why? Because a super-myelinated thick neural circuit feels like the certainty of fact--or, as Rand would say, the not-to-be-questioned. This definitely would be reinforced by the "subhuman" characterization.

Also, Rand had a habit of defining man as a rational animal, then tossing aside the animal part. But in nature, some animals fight each other innately, including members of the same species at times. If that feeling is present in someone's brain and Trump is on the other side of it in their mind, they will attack Trump and his supporters by default. Any rational thinking they do will sit on top of that. As an example, look at how long it took for Glenn Beck to come around to supporting President Trump. He kept asking people why they supported Trump in a tone of gathering information, but he was really looking for something to condemn back then. He talked about principles, but ignored them when evaluating Trump. It took a huge effort for him to put the very principles he preached in the priority place of his emotional certainties. Only after he did that could he see Trump rationally.

Part of this animal thing is something I got from Richard Dawkins. The human species has, from the beginning, been characterized by bands of young males who raid and attack other tribes or other bands. There is a lot of archaeological evidence to back this up. I can only speculate, but I imagine the root emotion of a young male raider toward an enemy was, "Kill that thing!" We in the present are descendants of people who thought and acted like that. They are our ancestors and we carry their DNA. I think part of the concept behind the term "subhuman," especially the certainty part, comes from having inherited that kind of mind.

One last quick thought is that the mind seems to follow a fractal form of structure, from the most inclusive form of organization to the smallest. This fractal is made up of a rigid part that is hard to change mixed with a varied part that changes a lot. An easy analogy to illustrate this idea is a river. The rigid part is the groove in the earth. The varied changing part is all the water, fish and other stuff that flows along the groove. If hatred for President Trump is included in the rigid part of a neural pathway, that will be processed a lot differently than if it is included in the fluid changing part.

The only way to change the rigid part of a neural network (short of surgery, trauma, or, say a huge burst of neurochemicals arising from an intense scare or the intense relief from a deep-felt religious conversion and things like that) is by changing the core story that holds it in place. The idea of subhuman can easily become part of that core story.

And changing a core story for anyone is extremely difficult.

One of the challenges of using reason as primary is that our brains are not wired to use it as primary. We have to choose reason when we want it, situation by situation, but for general living, there is a hell of a lot of stuff that constantly flows automatically to contend with. When we choose consciously, we get tired easily whereas the automatic stuff grinds on in our brains without effort. Once hatred for a "subhuman" is part of the automatic part, it's a bitch to dig it out and use reason for evaluating the target. 

Anyway, I am out of time right now.

But, for me, at least, there is plenty of meat here to chew on.

Michael

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On 5/4/2020 at 10:30 PM, anthony said:

By "right", I  assume you mean as -fitting- to the Nazis' (etc.) purposes?

Then of course, it (sub-humanism) was their "device" to psychologically make acceptable to others and themselves, whatever acts they plan to carry out.

That technique has been researched and studied to death. Everyone now knows, intellectually, how past atrocities were achieved. Not that more brutes won't spring up. 

So you take it away from them and fit the label back on them, they who deserve it.

Evil is an act.

I have decided the Nazi's are the most horrible human beings to ever exist. Not only did they try to exterminate a group of people, but they also bombed the English during "The Blitz," and tried to kill as many innocents as possible. And they bombed Buckingham and the future Queen Elizabeth. Bastards.       

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Here's some really weird news about O-Land.

There is a Facebook group called Ayn Rand. It leans hard ARI, which means it leans anti-Trump.

A guy I never knew before named William Swig posted the following meme there. He created it.

image.png

They banned him from the group.

He posted a quote by Ayn Rand and did not take it out of context, yet they banned him for it.

Actually, it's a shortened and paraphrased quote from a Q&A from Rand's Ford Hall Forum Lecture: "Censorship: Local and Express." It is in Ayn Rand Answers. Here is the direct quote from Rand as published in that book: "... even though Nixon’s behavior has been contemptible—he’s not the most corrupt president, but he’s probably the most contemptible—I’d still vote for him over George McGovern or Ted Kennedy."

🙂

btw - I think I'm going to like this Swig guy. He pisses off the right people. 

🙂 

Here is his Facebook account.

And here is another meme by him.

image.png

🙂

Michael

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5 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Here's some really weird news about O-Land.

There is a Facebook group called Ayn Rand. It leans hard ARI, which means it leans anti-Trump.

A guy I never knew before named William Swig posted the following meme there. He created it.

image.png

They banned him from the group.

He posted a quote by Ayn Rand and did not take it out of context, yet they banned him for it.

Actually, it's a shortened and paraphrased quote from a Q&A from Rand's Ford Hall Forum Lecture: "Censorship: Local and Express." It is in Ayn Rand Answers. Here is the direct quote from Rand as published in that book: "... even though Nixon’s behavior has been contemptible—he’s not the most corrupt president, but he’s probably the most contemptible—I’d still vote for him over George McGovern or Ted Kennedy."

🙂

 

 

🙂

Michael

Re: ARI's anti-Trump stance, in relation to the above:

I just thought of something...If I am remembering correctly, the ARI types advocated voting for Democrats not because they supported them, but because they thought it would be better to let the Democrats take the blame for an economic collapse via leftist policies (instead of letting capitalism take the blame). Then, they called Trump a fascist for wanting to use government power to intervene in the economy.

Now, if the Q people are correct...isn't the first part of that what is happening? Trump has some pretty broad powers right now, but isn't using them. Instead, he's letting the states make their own decisions regarding Covid and the riots, when everyone was expecting him to intervene. The blue state governors and mayors are acting on their leftist principles, shutting down the economy, letting the rioters run riot, and calling to defund the police...well, isn't that what the anti-Trump, pro Dem-voting ARIans wanted? To let the system crash on the left's socialist terms, NOT the capitalists terms? And yet, it is STILL Trump that gets their ire going (as evidenced by Yaron Brook's ongoing comments, and the above situation MSK describes, above...) I can understand some of their distrust of Republicans like Romney, et. all, but Trump is the one calling out socialism, calling to protect the Constitution, etc. Not consistently Objectivist, sure, but still closer to the ideals Objectivists fight for. And Brook disregards the threat of the Left as "wacky", denies the threat of George Soros/Deep State, and says that gun rights don't matter...

(Yes, yes, I know, there's the religious element that Trump brings up that rankles them...Peikoff's "theocracy" warning...)

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18 hours ago, Mark said:

He’s a guest writer on ARI Watch; see the OL thread Carl Barney vs. Objectivity.

Mark,

LOL...

I see it was the Scientology thing. I didn't remember because of the big-ass "MrSwig" rather than William Swig. 🙂 

Also, I didn't engage because I have no wish to debate about someone turning Objectivism into Scientology through ARI or how there is nothing useful at all in Scientology and things like that. 

This is how I understood his appearance. It was probably not the intention, but it was how I perceived it back then. It reminded me of the climate change dudes William brought over to teach us OL Neanderthals about the true truthy science of it all. And it reminded me of the days when people claimed there was nothing but evil in Islam because Mohammad was a pedophile and so on--and it's all in the Qu'ran at that. I don't get intellectual stimulation from that level of discourse

btw - William Swig responded to me on Facebook, where I commented on his meme about Rand and Nixon. (And, we "liked" each other and became Facebook friends, of course. Group hug. 🙂 )

Here is what he said:

Quote

Thank you. I understand that you would use Mayhew's edit, because it's in a published book. But I listened to the original audio and did my own transcription. She said: "I would vote for Nixon today [10/21/73] even though I think his behavior has been contemptible. I wouldn't say he's the most corrupt of our presidents but it's quite probable that he is the most contemptible. I would still vote for him against McGovern...and against Senator Kennedy." Now I rearranged, but did not change, her words, nor did I alter the meaning.

Like I said, I think I'm going to like this guy. I hope he comes around OL. But that's up to him.

Michael

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