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Is Objectivism capable of being societal glue?

Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 4 years, 3 months ago to Culture
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I'm not asking this to disparage Objectivism.

I view Objectivism more as an individual philosophy rather than a binding societal philosophy.

How can a collection of independent individuals bind into a decentralized society without the need to manufacture laws based on their shared morality? And, when that Gulch grows too large, more than a few hundred residents, and people do not know each other personally how do these "laws" or "guidelines" handle such issues as murder, rape, and theft. Does one Objectivist have the right to imprison or perhaps even kill the transgressor? If not, and expulsion is the punishment, how does the Gulch protect its sovereignty if that person returns with less principled friends who do not use force but start building their homes in and around the Gulch?



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  • Posted by Eudaimonist 4 years, 3 months ago
    Objectivism doesn't advocate an anarchistic society. It advocates a constitutional government that enforces laws that express principles of individual rights. There absolutely are shared laws.

    Galt's Gulch is only a special case since it is so tiny in population. There were clearly plans at the end to develop a constitution for future government.
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    • Posted by khalling 4 years, 3 months ago
      excellent point. many of these arguments are better suited to a libertarian discussion of anarcho-capitalism. Objectivists support a proper government. It is limited, enforces property rights and acknowledges natural rights.
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    • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 3 months ago
      In Atlas Shrug the gulch had a government ready to go. They based it of the US constitution with a few (non-specific) changes.

      Your point was also brought up in the book.
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  • Posted by  $  edweaver 4 years, 3 months ago
    IMHO, if everyone in a society had Objectivist values there would be no need for laws of any kind. There would not be theft or murder or any other crime. The only crime would come from the outside. And I really believe it is that simple. If everyone believed an A=A nothing would happen without mutual agreement. My 2 cents.
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    • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
      My experience, observation, and research are entirely counter to that, edweaver. For starters, about 2% of the population are psychopaths/sociopaths. Any system that governs a large population has to take that statistic into consideration. Secondly, people can consciously choose a set of values but not be able to live up to them: crimes of passion, theft, malingering, and many forms of self-deception are in this category. (How many people do you know who are supporting their spouses who are going to be great artists or writers any day now?) Thirdly - and perhaps most crucially - you cannot prevent people from changing their minds, or from having children who choose to be socialists (in spite of their environment).

      I feel strongly (as you have probably guessed) that any attempt at an Objectivist society that does not take human fallibility , changeability and genuine human deviants into account is not facing reality.

      Jan
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      • Posted by nsnelson 4 years, 3 months ago
        Excellent point. If we were perfect we would not need laws to punish violation of rights. But people are not perfect, so we do need laws. Too many people fail to recognize human fallibility. It makes me think of a libertarian friend who is so infatuated with her own liberty that she wants to do away with all police and military. As if her liberty would be able to withstand outsider evildoers without laws and the ability to enforce them.
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      • Posted by  $  edweaver 4 years, 3 months ago
        Jan,
        If you look back on my comment and note that I stated "IF everyone in a society had Objectivist values", not that they DO have those values nor is that possible. That is the reason that some sort of limited, constitutional government in necessary, which I did not state. My comment was only intended to address the IF part of the question. And I stand on my comment that if and only IF everyone in a society had Objectivist values there would be no need for laws of any kind... :)

        Respectfully,
        Ed
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        • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
          With all due respect, it does not obviate law in the slightest. It means perfect obedience which leads to a state of perfect freedom. The laws still exist because as soon as a law is violated, the consequences kick in.

          It is not because there is no "need" for law, there just becomes no abrogation of such and therefore enforcement by penalization becomes moot.
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        • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
          Ed -

          I know lots of people who consciously 'have' (state support for, genuinely espouse) a 'good work ethic'. But their actual work habits can be summed up in a single word: Facebook.

          Even IF everyone consciously supported Objectivist values you will not exclude fallibility and self-deception. And I fear that persuasive and reasoned arguments in that direction create the image of a world that cannot exist, and exclude the conceptualization of a rational society that has to deal with such problems.

          Jan
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    • Posted by  $  4 years, 3 months ago
      Perhaps, but what happens when Wyatt finds oil beneath his land but instead chooses to farm despite many others needing the oil to further their own projects. What if he refuses drilling?

      I agree with your assessment. However, the nature of man, I think, prevents such a society.
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      • Posted by  $  edweaver 4 years, 3 months ago
        Why would that be any different than John Galt not developing the motor? Or the force of government telling the railroad that it had to operate at a loss. If the price were right Wyatt sells the oil.
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        • Posted by  $  4 years, 3 months ago
          It wouldn't be different at all. But how would such a society deal with Wyatt should he choose to use his land to grow turnips and corn instead of drilling for oil when oil is in great need by the community?

          Would the value/use of the oil to someone else or many others overrule his value to grow produce for consumption or sale?
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          • Posted by  $  edweaver 4 years, 3 months ago
            Could John Galt have been forced to develop the motor? Would it not have been to the benefit of society? I don't believe society has anything to do with it. If Wyatt is unwilling to sell something he owns. Society has to adapt. John Galt must never be forced or where is the line drawn. I would suggest there is no line. Consider Obamacare. There is no longer a line on what our government can force people to buy. There really is no difference.
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            • Posted by  $  4 years, 3 months ago
              Sad but true. I'd hope that in a Gulch that level of respect for the individual and his/her wants outweigh the majority.
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              • Posted by  $  edweaver 4 years, 3 months ago
                I agree. And I also like this conversation. It made me think. Thanks AJ.
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                • Posted by  $  4 years, 3 months ago
                  I was temped to add something kinda caustic to the original posting...decided against it, keeping it civil. :)
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                  • Posted by  $  edweaver 4 years, 3 months ago
                    Civil is good. But adding something to challenge people to think is also good. Don't hold back if it can prove a point.
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                    • Posted by  $  allosaur 4 years, 3 months ago
                      You just had to tempt the dino who was already entertaining crazy thoughts. (Look out. I'm known for having a wild imagination).
                      A serial killer kills a Gulcher. Gulchers form a circle around the killer and pick up stones.
                      A preacher who has come into the Gulch to spread the Word says, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."
                      One Gulcher says, "Well, at least I never killed anyone up until now" and casts the first stone.
                      All the Gulchers kill the serial killer who would definitely kill again.
                      The preacher rips his garments.
                      One killer Gulcher advises the distraught preacher of a good tailor in the Gulch.
                      My, my, my!
                      Say, would you believe allosaur is a Christian?
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      • Posted by jdg 4 years, 3 months ago
        Economist Ron Coase addressed this type of situation, and in the long run it is self-correcting. To put it simply, if the oil is needed badly enough, then someone will make Wyatt a high enough offer for his land (or at least oil rights) that he will sell. (Unless he's the kind of industry-hater that form eco-nut groups, in which case we just have to hope that his children will sell after he is gone.)
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        • Posted by nsnelson 4 years, 3 months ago
          Or if demand were high enough, another "Wyatt" would rise up to fill the gap (whether it is find new oil, or find alternate energy sources). Regardless, the free market will correct the problem. Under no circumstances should Wyatt be forced to sell oil against his will.
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      • Posted by Herb7734 4 years, 3 months ago
        As I see it, the reason mankind is not ready for an Objectivist society is maturity. At present, humanity is too immature to have a rational government with minimal or even or an anarchical structure.
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        • Posted by  $  4 years, 3 months ago
          Oddly enough that the same argument disqualifying utopian socialism and communism.

          I had a lengthly conversation with Bulgarian transplant who worked for me when I took him to Las Vegas for a trade show. He thought Socialism was superior in every sense until I explained/pointed out what you stated.
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          • Posted by jdg 4 years, 3 months ago
            That's a good parallel. I would say the same of religions, too, even those that tell people to behave in the same ways a libertarian or objectivist would.

            The answer to all three situations boils down to, you can't expect a large population all to agree with your ideals, no matter what they are, even after you've had your society running a while. So if you want government in a form that relies on everyone believing, then you need to form a proprietary community, which can kick out those who disrupt it, preferably in some way that's "fair" but there must be absolutely no way for an outside state to overrule that decision.

            Which implies either some sort of *small* new-country project, or a "Gulch" that is strong enough militarily to defeat an attempt by the country it's in to take it over or shut it down. There are places where the latter is possible (for example Somalia), but they tend to be havens for the kind of serious bad guys that will provoke a major country to shut them down.
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  • Posted by  $  Temlakos 4 years, 3 months ago
    It's a better glue than collectivism, certainly. Collectivism, if anything, repels instead of binding.

    Rand treated government as an institution. History--that of the American Revolution--gives us other possible answers. Like Committees of Safety, composed of--and funded by--the major stakeholders.
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    • Posted by Mamaemma 4 years, 3 months ago
      "Repels instead of binding". The best illustration I have ever seen of this is the story of the 20th Century Motor Company. It showed that collectivism is not only impractical; it is evil.
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  • Posted by overmanwarrior 4 years, 3 months ago
    I think it is. However, it requires all those you deal with to have shared values. It is impossible right now in a society that has different levels of value to respect others who do have values at the level of regular objectivists. Values in this case are not whether or not one drinks wine, or has a love shack full of sexual deviants, but whether or not money is generally accepted as a representation of a value measurement exchanged with one another. Rather than having a society built on touchy feely sentimates driven by emotions, it is built upon foundations of value. I can respect a deviant pirate if they build good ships that I might want to purchase. But I would be unlikely to respect that pirate if all they did is steal ships second handed and passed them off as their own.
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    • Posted by nsnelson 4 years, 3 months ago
      This is what I was thinking when I read the original post. Objectivism upholds man's self-esteem in a way that can be unifying. Man is alone responsible for his own survival. But more than that, with industriousness he can do more than just survive, but thrive by overproducing for just himself. The virtues and values that requires will be attractive to others, and the mutual benefit of like-minded people will have a synergy that is also attractive. In this way, I think Objectivism can be very unifying for society.
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      • Posted by  $  4 years, 3 months ago
        Isn't that capitalism in a nutshell?
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        • Posted by nsnelson 4 years, 3 months ago
          I suppose that is one way to summarize capitalism. It seems to me that Objectivism, at its core, asserts man's liberty. In other words, man is his own private property, and nobody may infringe on that right. Since he owns himself, including his mind, whatever he produces with his labor (mental and physical) is also his. When he produces more than he needs, he has a surplus he can trade (with another willing Man) for a better quality of life. So yes. Both Objectivism and Capitalism, it seems to me, share the core beliefs of man's liberty, private property, and the virtues of being producers.
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    • Posted by khalling 4 years, 3 months ago
      to your pirate analogy-hmmm, it depends on where the "pirate" gets their wealth to build from-not the quality of the product they offer
      Hitler stole priceless art. should one pay HIM to own it ?
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    • Posted by Mamaemma 4 years, 3 months ago
      Every society will have different levels of value to respect others (I like the way you expressed that), but it is essential that the framework of the society (Constitution, courts, laws) be based on Objectivist principles.
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  • Posted by ewv 4 years, 3 months ago
    What are a "binding societal philosophy" and an "individual philosophy"?

    What are "manufactured laws"?

    What is a "societal guide"?

    The main branches of philosophy are metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and politics.

    Ethics deals with the science of values and a code of morality for making choices. It depends on knowing the nature of man and his relations to reality, so it requires metaphysics and epistemology.

    Political philosophy deals with the nature of rights and government, and depends on ethics.

    The basics of Ayn Rand's ethics and politics are included in her anthologies The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism the Unknown Ideal. They are also explained in Leonard Peikoff's comprehensive book on her entire philosophy, the facts that give rise to it, and how it is logically integrated -- Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was not an anarchist and gave her reasons why a government of objective laws is necessary.
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  • Posted by ProfChuck 4 years, 3 months ago
    Obviously Rand didn't include all of the possible ramifications of an objectivist society in her books. There simply wasn't enough room.
    Consider the following scenario; The collectivist government discovers the existence of the Gulch and prepares a military invasion to conquer and enslave its citizens. How would the members of the Gulch react and what sort of response would they prepare that was consistent with objectivism?
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  • Posted by marshafamilaroenright 4 years, 3 months ago
    A bit more precisely: lack of the *initiation* of force; force for self-defense, individual or group, is needed and moral.

    There will never be a society in which all or even most members agree on philosophy and values; at most, you can have one in which the dominate *main* ideas and values are reason, individualism, and freedom.

    Even reasonable men disagree (look at all the arguing Objectivists do!). Moreover, when it comes to property and life actions, there is a lot at stake and people have difficulty being objective. Consequently, there will always be a need for a open, regularized means of resolving disagreements, i.e. law, courts, and enforcement.

    But, to answer AJA's initial question: independence does not mean asocial; it means using one's own judgment about how to live and supporting oneself existentially. In fact, a large, large number of values which fulfill human needs and allow us to flourish come from social interaction.

    So it is in the individual's interest to discover and live by principles and laws which encourage peaceful and productive human interaction.

    History shows us that the discovery of philosophy, laws, and the way to organize and implement law so as to protect individual rights were crucial to developing the best, freest societies, such as the early U.S. (well, freest if you were not a slave...but that was a deep, unfortunate contradiction accepted for survival reasons which ended up costing a gigantic amount in human lives).

    I think the society of the Gulch would build on the discoveries of those before them, correct the flaws of the Constitution, etc. to allow for the society to grow and flourish. In AS, a knowledgeable, respected judge is an important part of the Gulch.
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    • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
      I agree with marsh (May I call you that? I do not want to seem familiar, but your name is rather long.). I think that the clue we have been handed is that we 'learn' from our errors, improve on the Constitution, and accept that we will always be a society that is philosophically mixed. As long as the governing structure* of the society strongly protects freedom, we are not threatened by having a mixed bag of personal preferences around us.

      As you can see, my inclination is to make the USA into the Gulch.

      Jan
      *We have to NOT forget the educational institutions this time. Big lacuna there.
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      • Posted by marshafamilaroenright 4 years, 3 months ago
        Hah, sorry for the long name; you're welcome to call me Marsha. I agree with you entirely! That's why I'm working hard to try to make the USA more like the Gulch.

        p.s. where is your quote from?
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        • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
          There was no quote in my response to your message, Marsha (thanks), just my opinion as refined by interactions here in the Gulch.

          I am pleased to make your acquaintance.

          Jan
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          • Posted by marshafamilaroenright 4 years, 3 months ago
            You too..but you have the signature quote "We have to NOT forget the educational institutions this time. Big lacuna there." Since I'm deeply involved in education..precisely because of the problems with the institutions...I was wondering where that was from.
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            • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
              Marsha -

              There have been a ton of Gulch conversations about the observation that the most crucial failure point in capitalist/republic-ist (as opposed to Republican) philosophy was that liberals became the majority, and default, philosophy in education. Socialists took a very effective long view - and it worked. We now have several generations of people who simply 'accept' socialist doctrine as being natively true - they do not even think about it...it seems to be like breathing to them.

              Unlike you, I am not involved in education, but if a functional philosophy (socialism has shown itself to be dysfunctional wherever it has been tried) is going to take back over the USA, then we need to keep it in the schools - We must not make this mistake again.

              I would be interested in your view on this as an educator.

              Jan
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
    The bigger question is to what end? It's all fine and good to define a morality, but one should never forget that morality is the road - not the destination.
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  • Posted by teri-amborn 4 years, 3 months ago
    Shared values and lack of force is the key to a successful Gulch much like they are the keys to building a solid marriage.
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    • Posted by  $  4 years, 3 months ago
      So the smaller and more reclusive the community the better? You can't bring together 25 people anywhere, even here, without disagreements arising where some get rather nasty, demeaning or insulting.

      The pilgrims were extremely insular. Today they are misrepresented as the poster-children of America when they wanted nothing to do with anyone else. I think if a Gulch were to get to large or if external society encroached on it, even peacefully, it would fracture and fall apart.
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      • Posted by teri-amborn 4 years, 3 months ago
        Yes.
        That's why I see many small "Gulches". Pockets of freedom here-and-there and not one large Gulch.
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        • Posted by SaltyDog 4 years, 3 months ago
          I don't know if anyone here is an RVer, but I bought one two years ago. It's decidedly a learning curve, but something that I've found is that there is a significant number of folks who live in their campers full time. They'll pull in somewhere and get a little job of some kind. Many times it's working for the RV park itself. They have no permanent residence, no ties to any place. They're known as 'road gypsies', and I am ever increasingly finding myself drawn to a life like that. In a sense, they're little one or two person gulches in
          themselves.


          Sp
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          • Posted by khalling 4 years, 3 months ago
            Db and I did it for not quite a year. Ultimately it was too difficult to run the business out of. Getting adequate internet can also be a challenge. Met some very interesting people that way. But also sometimes you would be parked next to someone you wondered about. Mostly met retired snowbirds. Or adventurers that like to play with toys. Some of the parks we stayed in were lovely. Some were not.
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            • Posted by SaltyDog 4 years, 3 months ago
              Most of my experiences are with KOAs and Disney, so my remarks are colored by that. With that said, if haven't run into those kinds of challenges. It's good to know!
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              • Posted by khalling 4 years, 3 months ago
                You can try different things for the internet. We got a Wilson booster and ran it atop a length of pvc piping. It does work. We ran a mifi system through verizon. Lots of people use a satellite arrangement. It 's a fair amount of work to set up and take down, but I liked the change in scenery. There are often monetary advantages to staying a week or a month. If you don 't have a W/D in your rig that can be a bit of a hassle. In general, it 's cheaper and faster to find a laundry in a town then it is to rely on the park facilities. We did save money by investing in a Good Sam 's card, which is accepted at most RV parks.
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                • Posted by SaltyDog 4 years, 3 months ago
                  I've had the Verizon MiFi for a number of years now, and it works quite well; however, for any kind of extended use or large downloads, it's cost prohibitive.
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  • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 4 years, 3 months ago
    From another thought to this one. ''It is the responsibility of all citizens to protect the individual rights of all citizens and independent citizens. One one of the rights is their ability to freely elect whomsoever they may choose with honest candidates, campaigns, ballots, and funding.

    It is the responsibility of government as employees of the citizens to provide an honest and level playing field and protect the rights of citizens against all enemies foreign or domestic or in government.

    Absent that they serve no purpose.

    Once again. As long as your vote in an election or the outcome of your selection be bought by outside influences Government has failed. If Government has failed what's the point of voting of them?

    One simple change. Those who MAY not vote MAY not volunteer funds, material, nor time nor do so outside the geopolitical confines of their ballot and their precinct, their county, their city, their state or their nation,

    This in no way denies freedom of speech, of assembly nor due process.

    Any non voting entity such as a business or a union or other organization is perfectly free within the confines of their organization to conduct open meetings allowing differing opinions - they may not provide funding, time of members or material items - especially the purchase of campaign advertising by any form of the media.

    that one change solves many problems. the sole question left is to what limit, if any, a citizen who may vote, registered or not, contribute within the confines of their voting precincts ballot choices?

    As to the less principled. Send them to Coventry or expose the fallacies as Rand would say when the conclusion is false one or more of the premises is wrong.

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  • Posted by MerlinFL 4 years, 3 months ago
    I don't believe human beings can exist above a limited amount of people without official rules/laws that govern all. The Gultch has founding Fathers, they should create such laws as ours did here in the USA. As far as punishment? I will say and have always believed that the punishment should fit the crime. I also think if I were building a new society, I would make provisions for those offended choose the offenders punishment and even be able to carry it out themselves if they wish whatever it might be. This country has proven that without swift capital punishment for capital crimes, we just waste hard earned money keeping useless and offensive people alive under the guise of being humane?! Seriously?! Just as no one should give their life for another's benefit, then why not apply that same edict to capital crime & punishment? Money saved, offended person have quick closure, and it IS a deterrent.
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  • Posted by TheRealBill 4 years, 3 months ago
    i think the first step in answering this is to reduce the problem to a rather intimate level. I think in doing so you can illustrate the fundamental notion that a philosophy of individualism precludes a binding multi-individual one.

    Consider a marriage. Can two people love each other, possess and embrace an individualist philosophy such as Objectivism, and still share enough to be "bound together societally through a philosophy"? I think the evidence is certainly there to answer in the affirmative. While it is anecdotal my wife and I are *very* individual and have a philosophy that embraces and encourages it. However, we are still very much a loving couple. We don't have need to establish rules directly based on our philosophy - any rules we do have are a natural *result* of our philosophy.

    If it were true that two individuals can not retain and practice an highly-independent philosophy which strongly stresses us as individuals and remain bound into an agreement such as marriage it would cast doubt on the larger sized collections such as cities, states, and the vague "society". While two people doing it does guarantee a million can, it does mean it could.

    Can it work when the parties don't personally know each other? Absolutely - we have that every day in our current society. Laws are simply laws - they can be heavily enforced or ignored. People can choose to, or intentionally, not go along with the laws/rules. But the underlying web of trust is still there. For two people it is simple, but how to go to larger numbers? Consider a driving analogy.

    Without laws, how can we resolve the problem of four cars arriving at an intersection? By observation and the basic understanding that none of us want to crash into each other. We don't know everyone at the intersection - I'd say we often don't know any of the other drivers. But when the power goes out and the stoplights are dead we handle it. Based on the unspoken philosophy that none of us wants to get in a wreck and we all want to go along our business.

    Sometimes someone steps up and directs traffic. And we follow those directions not because we know and trust the *person*, but the basic underlying principles of what the person is trying to achieve. We are "bound" by that collection of individual desires. We trust the others to share those values - and by and large that trust is rewarded. I could argue the human nature to trust similar people has been a significant factor in our climb to the position we have achieved. Sure, modern changes make some of those innate factors more difficult to process at times and can be overplayed, but fundamentally it does indeed work.

    Consider the 98% of people are not socio-/psychopaths assertion. We do not, despite the media, go about our daily lives assuming the inverse. Can you image what would happen if we did? If not, feel free to watch any "cataclysm happens and ALL of society goes in the crapper instantly" movie - which is almost every disaster movie.

    Thus, I would argue that in the extreme case of even "just" 98% of the planet were Objectivists there is no reason to believe Objectivism would fail because we can only know a minuscule portion of the population. The underlying mechanisms of trust, I expect, would be even stronger. We would indeed be collectively bound our our shared philosophy of independent individualism.

    When you really get stuck into it, the politics of fear are driven by the small portion of our society which has fundamental trust issues. Socialism, Fascism, Communism are all driven by the fundamental lack trust - *we* can't trust *you* to do "The Right Thing", so we're going to impose sanctions on you prior to you actually exercising the choice. This is, IMO, the ultimate reasons such philosophies and political machinations do not work at scale - they are driven by a lack of trust but in the end still rely on trust existing to actually function. To put the final nail in their coffin, those systems do nothing to foster trust, and do plenty to foster distrust.

    Objectivism, as I understand it, is the opposite. That it relies on trust is clear (to me) from the onset, and the tenets demand that trust be earned and maintained. The tenets and mechanisms of Objectivism to me seem almost designed to engender trust and provide people the opportunity to demonstrate trustworthiness. While it may not be the only system/philosophy with this characteristic, that it has it means it is more likely than those without it to answer the question of whether a large society of Objectivists can "work" in the affirmative.
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