Barbara Branden

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Still, I must tell you, from whatever perspective, left or right, did not McCarthy enforce censorship and violate civil liberties in the effort to fight "evil ideas"? Are these not historical facts?

For the record, the “House of Un-American activities” never sat well with me.

As a US Senator McCarthy had no power to enforce censorship and violate civil liberties. Most of his power was de facto, not de jure. He helped whip up an anti-communist hysteria with irresponsible allegations and thus helped discredit anti-communism.

Barbara once said, I believe, that Ayn Rand was ambivalent about the HUAC hearings she participated in.


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George H. Smith, on the issue at hand, wrote:

"Dan [Edge] later stipulated that only non-Americans are fair game. I didn't realize that respecting the rights of innocent people is contingent on where they were born, or what group they happen to belong to...This will require that we tinker with the philosophical justification for rights, which will now be based on the nature of a "tribe qua tribe" rather than "man qua man"...But having seen other distrubing trends towards tribalism on SOLO, I suppose Dan's response should not have surprised me."

Tribalism indeed. This is the collectivism that Angie spoke of in her post, as do others here.

God bless ya, George.


Edited by Victor Pross
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Your quote:

The whole problem arises when we move morality to the level of nations. I am arguing against the moral equivalence between individual rights and military conditions in war. This is what ARI preaches. That is some real righteous moral equivalence and it leads to collectivism.

It is also what Ayn Rand "preached."

Ayn Rand (from “The Roots of War”)

Just as an individual has the right of self-defense, so has a free country if attacked…

From “Collectivized ‘Rights’ “

A free nation…has a right to its territorial integrity, its social system and its form of government….Such a nation has a right to its sovereignty (derived from the rights of its citizens) and a right to demand that its sovereignty be respected by all other nations….But this right cannot be claimed by dictatorships, by savage tribes or by any from of absolutist tyranny…”

That is how Ayn Rand applied the moral-political principle of individual rights to the national level. Maybe you can help me understand how that leads to moral equivalence and collectivism. I can’t wait.

Your quote:

I am sorry if I cannot be the enemy proclaiming the views you want me to proclaim [about prohibiting the US government from dropping bombs that would kill civilians], but my positions are clear. I don't see how misrepresenting them is going to do any good in discussion.

In a prior post, you did say that dropping bombs on civilian populations would be justified

Once war is declared, engaged and when military-to-military options are no longer effective.

That last criterion—“when military-to-military options are no longer effective”—amounts to saying: as a last resort or when all else fails. In other words, when large numbers of our own military have been killed. This can only mean that you consider the civilians of an enemy nation to have more rights than those of our soldiers. And it is clear from your condemnation of Biddle and others who support his proposals (at least in principle) that you believe the targeting of civilians as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of American loss of life is evil. And that, once again, is altruism.

I appreciate the general tone of courtesy in your posts, but please make an effort to avoid accusing me of intentional misrepresentation. I do not mind apologizing for my mistakes, if and when I make them. I assure you that I am doing the best I can to understand your perspective. If you would like for me to discontinue participation in this discussion (or participation in OL), all you need to do is assail my honesty in the best ARI/Objectivist tradition.

Isn’t it interesting how this issue has effectively reversed the moralistic attitudes of the two Objectivist camps? It is now the TAS contingent that is spewing all the contemptuous hatred.

Can’t we all just get along? (Sorry. I couldn’t resist a little levity.)


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Guest Damage Inc.

(Note from Administrator: Part of this post, which started a heated and unrelated tangent discussion, got moved to another, more proper, thread - along with the pertinent posts. The part moved is now here.)

You’ll discover that I still “go for the jugular” in intellectual combat as I am about to do now.

If my views on war [or any other subject] have altered or “softened” as you see them to have, much to your perplexity, it’s because I’m actually engaged in the moral activity of thinking. My views may change as my knowledge grows. Whereas you, on the other hand, have decided to learn by memorized route, where the ideas picked up are like frozen popsicles, stuck in your mind for all time to be repeated over-and-over when ever some institution pulls the string on your back, providing the right stimulus. You recite catechisms like a school boy reads his lines from the school play. Memorization is one thing, and it is relatively easy--hard thinking on complex problems is bloody hard work.

Good comedy, Victor. I've been writing on threads like this for years. I have done a fine job without routinely running to Atlas Shrugged or any of Rand's non-fiction. Nor, do I consult A.R.I.'s works.

You call my approach memorized route. From all that I've written over the years you won't find that it can be identically linked to anyone but me. Can you say that? I didn't think so.

Damage, let’s rap this up: I am still the same old homeless renegade Objectivist, but I am simply trying to rise above my memorized lesson as issued by organizations. I am actually employing the principles of the philosophy and looking at reality first-hand and coming to my conclusions—right or wrong, they are MY conclusions. I am an individualist, and I have both eyes on reality—not one eye on reality and the other on an institution or “crib notes” of memorized slogans. Personally, I love Ayn Rand, but I love the truth more.


I'll comment on the other points later. I'll end with this observation. To my knowledge, you never, not even once, actively disagreed with, Dr. John Ridpath, Yaron Brook, et al, when you were in their presence. Why weren't you thinking for all those years? I, on the other hand, told John Ridpath - with a class full of other Objectivists (including you) - that I liked "Truth And Toleration". I was on the organizing group to bring the ISIL conference to London Ont Canada in 2000. I met Barbara Branden there. Victor, you were always forceful with your differences with Libertarians . The "...ideas picked up are like frozen popsicles".

I could go on. I'm not your standard A.R.I. supporter. I can defeat your arguments with the truth.

Wayne Simmons

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With all due respect, I am not accusing you of misrepresenting my statements. I am merely pointing out where you do that and expressing perplexity. I am not even saying you do it on purpose. I am trying to understand why that happens and if maybe I am not expressing myself clearly enough. If you want me to stop pointing it out, that's no problem. I will. That won't change reality and make my words mean anything different than what I intend them to mean.

From what I see so far, the issues are pretty clear and we are both intelligent. So why not try to find the proper words to express exact ideas when things are heated? For instance, you seem to want me to be a proponent of altruism. I am not. Why insist on it?

I will state my actual position for the record once again. Biddle and others at ARI are proposing tribal collectivism, not the defense of a free country. I intend to do my share in making sure people understand this.

I could go on with a point-by-point commentary, but our arguments start repeating. You want to do the Rand quotes again? I already did that, here and here on this thread. Both sets show that Rand isn't consistent on this issue. You did a few and I can show others where she says the contrary. And I showed how ARI edits her words (and even questions from others) by whim here. So quoting Rand on this particular issue is a mess. We are left with our own thinking.

Then things like the following occur:

That is how Ayn Rand applied the moral-political principle of individual rights to the national level. Maybe you can help me understand how that leads to moral equivalence and collectivism. I can’t wait.

Why on earth would I want to help you understand how Rand leads to equivalence and collectivism? I am an Objectivist. I am claiming that the pronouncements Biddle and others at ARI are based on tribal collectivism (and moral equivalence just for the hell of it).

Like I said, they won't get a sanction for that kind of stuff from this quarter and I want people to know it.


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The problem with what the United States is doing now in the Middle East--never mind the war on terror; the war on terror is something else re 9/11--could easily mean a greater conflict later on than what is now going down, in response to a grievous insult, real or imagined. Such would probably involve war with Iran with Pakistan now on the more distant horizon another threat for an even bigger war.

Civilians would suffer grievously even without being directly targeted by bombs, missiles and bullets.

The US has dissipated its power and ability to deal with the various situations that can arise or are encouraged to arise by its weakness subsequent to the Iraqi War. This is the second big reason I was against it from the start, the first one being that it had little if anything to do with a war on terror represented by what happened on 9/11.

Seeking an Objectivist justification for targeting civilians only weakens Objectivism by implicitly glorifying and sanctioning the state and all its rights' violating activities. How civilians will be dealt with in war will be determined by the philosophies of the combatants, which won't be Objectivist, and the circumstances of the conflict.


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I should wait until Danny Boy makes an appearance over here at the "enemy territory" once again before commenting on anything he writes, but I am discouraged and suspect that he will never answer my questions. I am starting to get the feeling that he did not really ask me all those questions at the start in order to engage in dialogue. I am starting to suspect that he was trying to show off to his new intellectual handlers.

I wonder how that is graded in terms of integrity according to his handlers? (Maybe he is seeking converts...)

Ah! No matter. Be that as it may, I just saw his post on SLOP about the issues he actually raised on this thread here on OL and I can't resist commenting on some of the more amusing parts. The post is here if anybody is interested.

1. He starts right off: "The specific targeting of pre-schools would certainly be immoral and counter-productive..." and then continues to say but not for the reasons given by other posters "over there." Well, that's a relief! We can rest assured that the toddlers have found to be no threat, so they will be spared because of "immorality" and "counter-productiveness."

Er... "immorality?" I had to stop. Hmmmmm... What is the moral principle he is using for immoral? Dan says: "It would be wrong because it would have no military function..."

I kid you not.

This is his definition of a moral principle: "military function." This also means that if targeting of pre-schools did have a military function, it would be "moral" in his view. But he gives a practical reason to add to this: killing the toddlers would piss the parents off royally.

So you don't kill little kids because they can't shoot and because it will make their parents mad, but if some military dude on our side finds a "military function" for them, targeting toddlers for the kill is honorable.

I kid you not. I kid you not.

2. In terms of rights, Dan says: "We are no longer under any obligation to respect their rights from the moment their government attacks us." For a general population that supports the war effort, I agree with the sentiment, but not the logic. (I have huge problems with understanding the "rights" of dictatorship nations before hostilities.) This "they" he proclaims is an awfully big "they." And so is the word "rights." His "they" includes all innocents and, of course, his "rights" means the individual kind and include the right to life (to not be killed).

Do you want to see how all this is just words as compared to reality? Look at it from the enemy's eyes. He thinks Americans have no "rights," including the right to life (to not be killed). He is out to kill Americans.

Both sides think they have "rights" and the other side doesn't. I guess that is why they call it war.

But let's look a little closer. Who is it who is out to kill Americans? All the people in a hostile nation or some people? So who determines who has what rights in this situation? Are there any? Dan's manner of thinking says there are: for us. But not for them. Well, as I said, the enemy (the real one) thinks there are rights for him, but not for us.

Who is the authority? What is the standard? Who enforces it?

I hold that rights are pretty much out the window between enemies in a war. That is why it is important to hold on to the concept of "innocent" (on all sides). It is precisely to hold on to the concept of "rights" and keep us as the moral authority.

3. So I really need to look at that "right" Dan postulates again. Dan says: "A defending nation has the right to do anything and everything it must to defend its citizens against attacks of an enemy aggressor nation." That word "right" sticks in the back of my mind like a fly on flypaper. As I understand it, this seems to be a "blank-check" right. For example, if Iran attacks the USA, the USA gets a blank check on any and all behavior toward Iran, so long as it serves a "military function."

Here my amusement ends.

This dude has only seen how this plays out in the inside of his skull and in what his intellectual handlers have told him. I have lived under a military dictatorship that actually used this principle. And don't talk to me about preserving individual rights once you give an armed military a blank check on behavior toward the enemy. It soon starts seeing the "enemy" among its own citizens and the rest is abundantly told in the annals of every civilization of recorded history. Pretending otherwise, "blanking out" this reality, to coin a phrase, is pure "rationalism," to coin another phrase.

There is no such thing as a "blank-check" right. "Military function" is not morality. "Military function" is a goal-directed identification that merely serves the defense of a country against an aggressor, it is not all of morality.

Let me put it this way: civilians must always govern the military, especially morally. The military exists to serve civilians. The moment that is forgotten, the military rules. The best way to undermine morality completely is to put "military function" in its place. Watch what happens if that notion ever becomes popular. I have seen it and lived under it.

4. Back to amusement time. Another gem: "If one operates off of this principle, he rules out the wanton slaughter of innocents." I get antsy when reading an orthodox Objectivist about something like morality and all of a sudden a word like "wanton" gets casually thrown in. This is a type of diversionary rhetoric to get your mind off the correct principle and on his principle. He subtly uses an example that illustrates your principle to try to invalidate it by redefining the example with an adjective.

Still, in addition to that, there was something about that word "wanton" that kept nagging at me. So I decided to look it up. Here is the first definition at "Immoral or unchaste; lewd." Here is the second (a. and b.): "Gratuitously cruel; merciless," and " Marked by unprovoked, gratuitous maliciousness; capricious and unjust."

So, wait a minute. Are we defining a moral principle here, or are we already operating according to one? I thought we were defining one. Yet "wanton" falls outside of the new definition for morality (military function) and belongs to another (unstated) morality.

But anyway, let me try that phrase of Dan's using some of these other terms from the definition. We are claiming that because of the morality of "military function" in determining whether an innocent person lives or dies, a soldier morally would:

... rule out the immoral slaughter of innocents.

... rule out the unchaste slaughter of innocents.

... rule out the lewd slaughter of innocents.

... rule out the gratuitously cruel slaughter of innocents.

... rule out the merciless slaughter of innocents.

... rule out the gratuitously malicious slaughter of innocents.

... rule out the capricious slaughter of innocents.

... rule out the unjust slaughter of innocents.

Somehow none of that sounds right. Try reading those phrases starting with "A soldier morally would..." See if you can do more than three or without laughing.

But if we are going to be consistent, then let us include these moral terms under "military function." Which of the following terms has greater or lesser efficacy according to military function?

... immoral

... unchaste

... lewd

... gratuitously cruel

... merciless

... gratuitously malicious

... capricious

... unjust

And which is it? Does "slaughter of innocents" become any different to such innocents because it is "wanton" or not? To me, they are just as dead either way.

Let's restate Dan's conclusion from the other end. "If one operates off of this principle, he performs the wanton slaughter of innocents when this has a military function."

There's that damn word "wanton" again... :)

I am going to wind this post up. As a last item of high amusement, Dan included all of the following phrases in a post to George H. Smith - the one and only:

Obviously your answer to this is...

You believe that... even it means...

so I assume that you grant...

What you don't understand is...

you ought to rethink...


All that in two short paragraphs. Dan the Younger has somehow managed to climb into George the Elder's head and can read his thoughts better than poor George can. (I sure hope Dan has good intellectual handlers. He is going to need them.)

I think I am going to take my wanton place on the sidelines now and enjoy the show.


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I appreciate your honesty and I think your view of the issue is 100% correct. You explain the concept better than I do, in many ways. It's good to see that I have at least one ally, even while I foray into enemy territory :)


I'm still waiting for orders from above before I will be cleared to answer your questions. Biddle doesn't work directly for the OAC, but he is the commander of the division that Diana Hsieh is in, and she's in the OGC, so she's funtioning as my tentative direct supervisor for now. But she's a busy lady, and there's a lot of paper work to do when obtaining permission to engage with official enemies of the Evil ARI Empire. I was able to liason with former covert operative Michelle Cohen and 2-Star general Andy Bernstein yesterday at the Hero's Hike in New York, so hopefully that will expidite the process. The proper paper work is essential, because as you know the OAC does a full inquiry about one's Objecti-sect sympathies before offering scholarships, and any breach in protocal is grounds for rescinding the scholarship.


--Dan Edge

Edited by dan_edge
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Thus spoke Edge:

"It's not wrong to bomb toddlers because we would be 'violating their rights.' We are no longer under any obligation to respect their rights from the moment their government attacks us. It would be wrong because it would have no military function, and would actually be counter-productive."

Dan's baby sitting services are now available :baby:

Damage, what do you think of this?

Edited by Victor Pross
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Edit: note on page 14 of this thread [and onward] that it is Damage that has hijacked this thread by bringing up the topic of Angie and me on this thread about Biddle. Take a look.

I hate to mention this, but by virtue of my stunning brain power, whenever I post on any thread that that's an automatic hijack to whatever I have decided to pontificate about. You youngsteers (not a sic) have no idea about who's really controlling things around here. B)


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