"Leading" with God

Posted by dwlievert 5 years ago to Politics
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This article is in response to a recent post summarily dismissing Ben Carson as worthy of political consideration.

Several years ago, as Sarah Palin had become thrust onto the national stage, I was asked by a fairly liberal friend, "you wouldn't really vote for her would you?" I stared at him replying, "as opposed to whom?" Caught somewhat off guard he responded, "Well I mean, she is little more than an attractive idiot." "Well," I replied, "what if she was running against an ugly moron?"

Ayn Rand's influence on my values, specifically how they must be derived, leading to what they will therefore become, has been of incalculable benefit. I say this because she taught me the importance of ideas! She did so through rationally forcing me to understand that “non-contradictory identification” and the proper (pro-life as she termed it) embrace of values, leads to consistent actions that produce happiness and fulfillment. In summation - and fundamental to the value of excitedly, joyously, passionately, filling-in the rest of the blanks in the endless crossword puzzle of life, that this was the purpose of philosophy.

Though her impact on many of us was equally profound, she was, despite the early worship of her by many of her students - myself included, neither a god nor always wise in her actions. She made errors. Her incessant focus on God and religion when wading into politics, rather than maintaining the focus on individual freedom was one such example (Please choose NOT to remind me of Rand’s epistemological rigor and her ruthlessly logical tracing of the issue to its metaphysical roots. I am dwelling “contextually” in politics, specifically NOT in absolutes). Nonetheless, she will one day be judged as one of the greatest intellectual minds in history. Meanwhile…….

One manifestation of said error, not coincidentally following her shameful treatment by Buckley and most conservatives, was her vocal criticism of Barry Goldwater. Prior to the election of 1964, she was adamant in her condemnation and rejection of him. Here is a quote of Senator Goldwater’s, circa early 60’s.

"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' "interests," I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."

Rand was certainly correct of course regarding Goldwater, in that as an inconsistent advocate of freedom he would invariably undermine his own arguments. However, will anyone seriously argue that our nation would have been similarly down the destructive road it has taken had the electorate chosen Goldwater rather than Lyndon “Guns & Butter/Great Society” Johnson? Barring nuclear exchange, it is almost unimaginable we would.

Carson will not get the nomination. His responses to both the war on drugs, which he indicates he would “intensify,” and his strategy for dealing with political correctness in education (he wishes to appoint some sort of conservative “overseer” within the Department of Education to “correct” current “incorrectness”), have assured he will unceremoniously fade.

However, if faced with a choice between Hillary and Ben, what would you do?

I’ll close with two recommendations.

1. Lead with your life and not your mouth. As is the case with a picture, an example is worth 10,000 words. When you choose to lead with the latter, skip to number 2.

2. KNOW your audience! We live in a society that, in significant measure, is dominated by Judeo-Christian philosophy. Therefore there is a tendency for many of us to become pessimistic and caustic. While I do, at times, lapse into pessimism, I try to never become caustic. Keep in mind, the virtue of pessimism is that most of your surprises tend to be favorable. Always remain benevolently open to such surprises. Depending on YOUR virtue(s), favorable surprises come more often than you might imagine – as long as, through the exercise of rational virtue(s), you EARN THEM!


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  • Posted by 5 years ago

    Thank you for your response.

    Especially following the publishing of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, the dismissals, rejections, and attacks she had previously received would become of far greater intensity and paranoia. I can only imagine, after working tirelessly for fifteen years on her greatest labor of love, what it must have been like to endure such intensity and paranoia accompanying the evasions and misrepresentations of her ideas - particularly from the so-called "defenders" of the political values of which she so compellingly wrote and spoke!

    Consequently, in response, she chose to often focus on the most fundamental of the philosophical "common denominators" to which the attackers ascribed; their belief in God.

    When Rand met William F, Buckley for the first time, almost 3 years prior to the publishing of Atlas, her first words to him were, “you are too intelligent to believe in God.”

    By practicing such a focus she invariably reaped the rejection and dismissal by much of her potential audience - in spite of the incredible intellectual treasure(s) that IS Atlas Shrugged. She seemed oblivious to the fact that her focus, driven by frustration, hurt, and anger, lying just beneath the surface, became the emotional hallmark of not just her appearances, but her interviews as well. It caused the typical American Judeo-Christian, however diligently or "cosmetically" their professions of belief in a god, to focus on but that aspect of her ideas - the one on which she herself seemed riveted - inevitably rooted in her rational epistemological rigor – further triggered by what would become her accelerating emotional damage.

    When I claim American culture is “dominated,” what I am recognizing is the belief by a plurality of Americans of aspects of said philosophy, not its intellectual embrace and rigorous adherence to its tenets. It is much as you say. I am simply citing “it” as opposed to any other recognized philosophical system.

    As for the first of my two recommended strategies when dealing with others being “very bad advice,” we will just have to agree to disagree - though for the life of me I cannot understand your assertion. I do appreciate your point that, “for those who think conceptually, a word is worth 10,000 pictures.” That, however, is the essence of the problem is it not? Most with whom we deal, at least politically, when it comes to their accepted morality (gleaned through little more than osmosis) do not think conceptually! I’ll approach this disagreement from another perspective:

    Are you not struck by the appalling moralism exhibited by Rand? The tendency of her students and "followers" to exhibit same - seemingly as a priority! Other than religious spokesmen, preachers, or church "fathers" - particularly those of the dark ages to which you referred, I don't think I have ever encountered the word "evil" so often. Further, is one irrational for using faulty logic, and therefore is that irrationality immoral? Does said practice, and the person demonstrating it, thereby become evil? Is the same causal chain, and the person exhibiting it thereby evil, while exercising a logical chain of superlative reasoning, though beginning said chain with a faulty premise?

    As absolutes, the answers to these questions are yes. However, as Rand herself reminded, reason must be man's ONLY absolute. Therefore there is a fundamental distinction to be drawn and acted upon when branding someone as evil versus a particular value or action they may have embraced and taken. If someone truly IS evil, then the proper response to them is as Roark's to Toohey.

    Rand's vision of one aspect of proper behavior - as part of her vision of justice, was to urge instant contempt for anyone who departs from what is defined as reason or morality. Errors of knowledge are O.K. but never errors of morality. Agreed. However let me ask you this: How many people do you think you will lead to virtue via contempt? Do you think they will become drawn to you by telling or admonishing them as being despicable? My answer is that it doesn't work when religion attempts it, and as Objectivism's on-going political impotence has demonstrated, it doesn't work when trying to "spread" Objectivist moral/political ideals either. Human nature stands in opposition to it doing so.

    The antidote to such epistemological accuracy, but influential impotence, is to set a good example. That is my basis for “leading with your life and not your mouth.”
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    • Posted by ewv 5 years ago
      She wrote for those who can be persuaded with reason and didn't expect the irrational and contemptible to be influenced. She made strong moral judgments because she saw too clearly the consequences of what she denounced and the need for clear standards. To pander in any way to irrational philosophy fundamentally antagonistic to her ideas would not further her ideas, only mislead people into thinking they agreed with her when they don't. The irrational cannot be cajoled into reason and the ignorant cannot become knowledgeable without clear ideas explained to them. She did not run around condemning the populace at large and in fact was optimistic that many people are open to reason. She saw that most Americans do not accept the philosophy of mysticism and self-sacrifice regardless of paying lip service to it, believing they have a far superior sense of life, but that it would not last without explicit philosophy to support it.

      You cannot explain or demonstrate moral behavior without communicating clear concepts and principles, and the reasons for them. Action pictographs don't work. Proper actions and standards cannot be understood without concepts. Showing it in reality is necessary -- it's not a floating abstraction -- but inexplicable without the proper concepts communicated.

      Listen to Leonard Peikoff's 1998 Ford Hall Ford lecture "A Picture Is Not an Argument" https://estore.aynrand.org/p/108/a-pi...
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  • Posted by ewv 5 years ago
    Ayn Rand supported Goldwater as the best available even though she saw his weaknesses. She denounced his campaign after the election because of his lack of intellectual courage to support his own best positions. See "Check Your Premises: It Is Earlier Than You Think" in The Objectivist Newsletter Dec 1964 and the previous endorsements of his candidacy, and her personal correspondence with him in The Ayn Rand Letters.

    She did not "lead" with the god problem. Most of her writing did not and did not need to mention it. She emphasized it in response to those who pushed it, including religious statist political positions.

    This society is not "dominated by Judeo-Christian philosophy". Most pay lip service to it but few embrace the mystic philosophy of the Dark Ages in their own lives. Americans are still much better than that. It is often tossed around in politics in the form of destructive premises like altruistic sacrifice -- including by Obama and Cackles -- which must be challenged and rejected as fundamentally wrong, but not many American voters want the kind of gratuitous evangelic religious zealotry pushed by some of the candidates.

    "Lead with your life and not your mouth. As is the case with a picture, an example is worth 10,000 words" is very bad advice. Concepts and principles can only be conveyed with words. No one without the correct principles will understand the meaning of a "good example" -- or even an acknowledged "good example" as contrary to bad ideas if he doesn't understand the principles; more likely he will attribute it to the wrong reasons. For those who think conceptually, a word is worth a thousand pictures.
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 5 years ago
      Yes, you are right ewv, and dwlievert seems to have not found Rand's endorsement back then. That said, Rand's marginalia in Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative also underscore her divergence from his views. (The book was ghostwritten by L. Brent Bozell Jr., brother-in-law of William F. Buckley. -- Wikipedia) Nonetheless, she advocated for him and urged others to vote for him.
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      • Posted by ewv 5 years ago
        She extensively commented on Conscience of a Conservative personally to Goldwater himself (see Letters of Ayn Rand) where she carefully stated her disagreements and said she expected from the inconsistencies that his ghost writer had written some of the most offensive 'faith' parts. Goldwater apparently did not deny it but said he agreed with the irrelevant faith nonsense.
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  • Posted by $ HeroWorship 4 years, 12 months ago
    1. Hilary now for 4 years with a beefed up republican congress (which is what her presidency would create).
    2. Hilary in 2020 for 8 years and with a Democratic upsurge in congress. (Carson's impact).

    Too bad Fiorina isn't getting traction.
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