Don’t Be Fooled by the Political Game: The Illusion of Freedom in America

Posted by Zenphamy 3 years, 8 months ago to Philosophy
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For the last several weeks, I've gone through disappointment, disgust, disillusionment in what I've been seeing posted and member comments in GG. Many members have taken to posting so much that is irrelevant to Objectivism from 'Headline Aggregation', 'Pop Culture', and 'Conservative Political News Items', to intentionally anti-Objectivism topics. The results have been a transformation of the Gulch into a general, current affairs discussion site with fewer and fewer Objectivist topics and discussions and the few Objectivist commentary that actually get posted or generated either get ignored or hi-jacked back to the general, current affairs, political, and belief topics. There's been more and more support expressed for those that claim to admire the writings of AR and/or some of the ideas of Objectivism, but state that their beliefs on some issue or the other take precedence over the rational and logically reasoned thoughts of Objectivism, even to the point of reversing the Objectivist progress seen from some members prior, and now re-asserting the primacy of their beliefs.

Personally, I came to Galt's Gulch, attracted by finding a virtual Gulch populated by those that had begun to recognize the similarities to the dystopian world of AS, with escape to the literary Galt's Gulch, of the world we currently live in and offered that virtual Gulch for those of us that can't readily go Gulch in reality, but can discuss the concepts and virtual escape to a Galt's Gulch. Now today, I find myself more and more embroiled in the controversies and divisiveness of popular and political culture of the actual world, with relatively little Objectivist thought discussed or generated. The reason for the literary Gulch in AS was to provide seclusion and rest from the absurdity of the world as it collapsed and to provide an escape from the 'sanction of the victim' for producers that the world relied on to hasten the collapse. It was not to allow those with dissimilar viewpoints and belief systems to have a captive audience to spread their antithetical propaganda, arguments, and divisiveness to.

For myself, it's past time to begin calling out those members that are so non-Objectivist as to be involved in posting and commenting to cause dissension and express antithetical viewpoints to Objectivism without the willingness to discuss from the standpoint of principles and premises, how or why those viewpoints are more right than those of Objectivism, or those that just throw headline and pop culture posts for the purpose of accumulating points over content and value. There are issues in our society that are of interest to Objectivist and should be discussed, but GG is not Twitter.
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Here is an excerpt from an article that exposes the conflict between the fact driven thinkers and those that prefer to live in a world of belief and hope.

From the Article: "It really doesn’t matter what you call them—Republicans, Democrats, the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that while they are dealing the cards, the deck will always be stacked in their favor.

Incredibly, no matter how many times we see this played out, Americans continue to naively buy into the idea that politics matter, as if there really were a difference between the Republicans and Democrats (there’s not).

As if Barack Obama proved to be any different from George W. Bush (he has not). As if Hillary Clinton’s values are any different from Donald Trump’s (with both of them, money talks). As if when we elect a president, we’re getting someone who truly represents “we the people” rather than the corporate state (in fact, in the oligarchy that is the American police state, an elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots).

Politics is a game, a joke, a hustle, a con, a distraction, a spectacle, a sport, and for many devout Americans, a religion." (emphasis added)
SOURCE URL: http://www.thedailybell.com/editorials/36471/John-Whitehead-Dont-Be-Fooled-by-the-Political-Game-The-Illusion-of-Freedom-in-America/?uuid=6466857F-5056-9628-C218481581859D67


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  • Posted by VetteGuy 3 years, 8 months ago
    Hi Zen,

    I understand your frustration with some of the commenters on the Gulch. My approach is different, however. Rather than "calling them out" which I've seen escalate into a never ending battle of posts, I just ignore them. I go looking for the topics that represent the reason I came to the Gulch, but am not on Facebook - well-reasoned discussion, minus the name-calling and empty, inflammatory rhetoric.

    For instance, one thing I have particularly enjoyed is the chapter by chapter discussion of AS put together by nsnelson. Those posts don't get nearly the traffic as some others, but I don't think I've seen any name-calling in any of them! :-) VG
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    • Posted by khalling 3 years, 8 months ago
      I'm actually in several fulfilling closed groups in FB with great objectivist discussions. The problem is-FB posts are fleeting and hard to find after the discussion occurs. there is no good way to archive the conversations.
      What kinds of posts in particular annoy you? It's not like we can say the issue of abortion is unimportant. [added sentence for clarity]
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      • Posted by VetteGuy 3 years, 8 months ago
        Hi K,

        I was mainly referring to some of the posts on religion, abortion, even some on politics. I agree that these issues are important. I've actually enjoyed and learned from many of them. But when clearly neither side is going to budge, the back and forth gets tiresome, increasingly animated, and then nasty. That's when I go looking to see if nsnelson has posted a new chapter from AS.
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  • Posted by conscious1978 3 years, 8 months ago
    Your post is a breath of fresh air, Zen...the first part. ;)

    I also thought this was a site where those interested in learning more about Objectivism could find interesting discussion from that perspective. Lately, that has been a small percentage of the content. I hope that changes.

    I can respect those with different views when they are here to learn or respect the stated purpose of the site—because spreading rational ideas may be the best way to resuscitate the value our votes once had.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
      You're right, but I maintain that the site is not what it once was. We really need to be exercising our down-votes with comments and replies that explain why the down-vote.
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  • Posted by khalling 3 years, 8 months ago
    Politics is a part of Philosophy
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    • Posted by Mamaemma 3 years, 8 months ago
      I would like to see a discussion of politics as philosophy, just not a rehash of what certain candidates said.
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      • Posted by khalling 3 years, 8 months ago
        I guess I'm more tolerant of the political discussions. Like them in fact. and I'm as guilty or more than anyone on the site for posting political articles. I like people to be informed. It was only 25 years ago that we had Reagan and I think the 70s were worse, economically speaking. After all, we had interest rates of over 20% and had just come off of Nixon's price freezing. I don't agree that all candidates bow to the elite and until I feel my precinct is rigged, I will keep voting.
        OTOH, I think I'm pretty balanced in my posts and include as much philosophy as this crew is willing to absorb. This is an introductory site to Objectivism, and a unique forum for aggregating current events. Many like that. But vote away! If I lose a bunch of points for sharing a Rand Paul article, I can assure you, I'll stop sharing Paul articles :)
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        • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
          I see no problem of sharing anyone's articles, politician or otherwise, if we are seeking the philosophies underlying or hidden within, or the effects on the practice of our philosophy.
          However, if it's to express support or participate in the cult of personality of politics, I see no value. And as long as we're simply posting headlines with no poster comments, I see even less value.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
      Now that's an interesting thought. Let's see:

      Politics (from wikipedia): Politics is the practice and theory of influencing other people. More narrowly, it refers to_ achieving and exercising positions of governance_ — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities.
      --------------
      While Philosophy (from wikipedia): Philosophy is the study of the general and fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language.[1][2][3] The Ancient Greek word φιλοσοφία (philosophia) was probably coined by Pythagoras[4] and literally means "love of wisdom" or "friend of wisdom."[5][6][7][8][9] Philosophy has been divided into many sub-fields. It has been divided chronologically (e.g., ancient and modern); by topic (the major topics being epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics); and by style (e.g., analytic philosophy).

      As a method, philosophy is often distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its questioning, critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument
      -----------------------------------------
      So while I can agree that 'politics' is a fact of life and that_ influencing other people_ is in and of itself a neutral concept, the fact is that it's practice inevitably brings forth the more narrow 'achieving and exercising positions of governance' which inevitably leads to 'organized control over a human community', and as we see on a daily basis and in the history of our species, it then inevitably results in corruption, by it's very nature. It can be no other in it's human practice and result.

      On the other hand, I see philosophy in it's ideal and literal 'love of wisdom' or 'friend of wisdom'. But in the more general study of fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language as a human in this current environment, we see our society and governance actively attacking our studies and exercises of our philosophy. And as practitioners of a particular philosophy, Objectivism, we understand that the actual existence and practice of politics is antithetical to the essential principles of our chosen philosophy of life.

      In that I agree that the study of disease in order to understand and gain knowledge of how to protect and heal humanity in the face of that disease is of value to human existence, then it follows that gaining knowledge of politics, if that purpose is to gain knowledge of how to protect and heal humanity of that disease is also of value--the approach in the Gulch at this time is not of that nature in any way. It is instead, actual participation in and the practice of politics.

      That is antithetical to philosophy itself, and particularly to Objectivism. If we can somehow manage to convince members of that reality, and study the facts of the politics we witness without ourselves getting lured into the practice or support of politics, our involvement can then be seen as philosophical.

      Support of one side or the other, or one issue or the other, or any of the personalities involved *is not philosophy. It's continued enslavement*.

      edit: add emphasis
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      • Posted by conscious1978 3 years, 8 months ago
        I think the concept of "politics" has been bastardized as much as much as the majority of those involved in it. But, I agree with the lady you're answering and the rationale of the lady quoted below:

        "The answers given by ethics determine how man should treat other men, and this determines the fourth branch of philosophy: politics, which defines the principles of a proper social system. As an example of philosophy’s function, political philosophy will not tell you how much rationed gas you should be given and on which day of the week—it will tell you whether the government has the right to impose any rationing on anything." — A.R., Philosophy: Who Needs It

        "The basic and crucial political issue of our age is: capitalism versus socialism, or freedom versus statism. For decades, this issue has been silenced, suppressed, evaded, and hidden under the foggy, undefined rubber-terms of “conservatism” and “liberalism” which had lost their original meaning and could be stretched to mean all things to all men." — A.R., Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
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        • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
          If we only take the dictionary definition of "the academic study of government and the state" and "a particular set of political beliefs or principles" and "the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power", I think Rand must have been using the first two as the proper definition of politics and I can agree with her first statement. Not only agree, but emphasize as it relates to determination of rights of government over the individual. For myself, those rights are only those granted to it by the individuals working as a group to provide for the retaliatory application of force against initiators of force against others, protection of the nation as a whole from foreign aggression, and resolution of contract disputes, basically torts.

          As to the second, I prefer to not mix the terms of economic theory and/or practice, political theories and/or practice, and philosophy. The principles, ethics, and morals determined and defined from philosophy (Objectivism) are the guides and limitations that develop a proper political system (individual freedom) and a proper economic system (laissez faire capitalism). I see economics and social systems as the study and practice of human interactions, one being related to business of goods, services, and financial, and the other as personal interactions and relationships. The concern I have when mixing all those terms under an umbrella term leaves too much difficulty in maintaining a topic in discussion and communication. While a philosopher may well be able to keep those things in proper hierarchy, nons can't. The next thing we wind up with is statements like 'Libertarianism is not a philosophy, it's a political theory' and 'Objectivism is a philosophy, it's not a Political Theory'.

          I define myself as a 'Practicing and Living Objectivist' who has studied and followed the philosophical developments and writings of AR enough to determine that I agree with her reasoning and development of the philosophy and apply that in my life occasionally having to go back and check the manuals, but I'm in no way an 'Objectivist Philosopher' and don't want to be. I'm much more interested in the practices and living as an Objectivist. It's analogous to being an Electrical Engineer in that although I studied and understand the physics and mathematics that underpin my work, I'm more interested in the application of those sciences to the everyday problems and solutions instead of the research and detail of the purer scientist. And as much as I can understand and carry on intelligent discussions with the other branches of Science and Engineering, I certainly wouldn't try to practice them. So maybe I could be termed an 'Objectivist Engineer'.
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          • Posted by VetteGuy 3 years, 8 months ago
            Hi Zen,

            I think "Objectivist Engineer" is almost redundant! Although most engineers have probably not heard of Ayn Rand, or certainly not studied Objectivism, an engineer who is not firmly rooted in reality would be a failure at best, and most likely dangerous.
            VG
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      • Posted by khalling 3 years, 8 months ago
        "Objectivism, we understand that the actual existence and practice of politics is antithetical to the essential principles of our chosen philosophy of life. " ah, so this is the reason so many of us vote crazily :)
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        • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
          And why I don't participate in the crazy and essentially non-functioning voting. :))
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 3 years, 8 months ago
            Pardon me for bringing up politics and current events too often over the last year. The purpose of this thread has been crystallizing in my mind over the past year as I try to rationalize what has happened. I have come quite recently to the same conclusion you have, Zen, after analyzing how at age 48, I have never had a presidential candidate make it to the general election with any chance of winning. freedomforall and I had this exact same discussion when he visited me several months ago. Recently, philosophercat wrote me saying that, like Rearden, the tumblers have been starting to click into place for me. I have thought the same thing. I appreciate your patience as I gradually come to the same conclusions that you have.
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            • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
              Your participation has always added value Jim. I want to make sure that all understand that I'm not against politics and current events per se, if the poster sees something in the post relative to our understanding or lives of Objectivism. But I don't see any Objectivist value in 'headline aggregation' posting or getting urged into getting into the conservative frenzy. That's not to say that the only topics of interest to Objectivists are philosophical discussions--some of us still have some humor left in us, but the relentless 'noise' of Hillary/Obama=bad, Conservative=angels/patriots/righteous, etc while ignoring the liberty betrayals from conservatives since the 50's is juvenile and is purposeful ignorance.
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