11

Who are the men in an Objectivist culture/nation suited to govern?

Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 9 months ago to Philosophy
56 comments | Share | Best of... | Flag

This is a line of inquiry generated in responses to comments in a recent Post by khalling:
The Myth That Ideas Are a Dime A Dozen
Posted by $ khalling 1 day, 18 hours ago to Technology

It's difficult to imagine a group of Objectivists, egoist, creators wanting, striving for, gaining, and manipulating for governing power. Can an Objectivist be the governing power, and if so how is he chosen and controlled once selected to such position? We've never satisfactorily addressed that question on this site, at least to my satisfaction. The conflict between wanting to gain and maintain government power vs living an Objectivist, laissez faire capitalist life, seems at first glance to be overwhelming.

Rand seemed to deal with the conflict as: "The acceptance of the achievements of an individual by other individuals does not represent “ethnicity”: it represents a cultural division of labor in a free market; it represents a conscious, individual choice on the part of all the men involved; the achievements may be scientific or technological or industrial or intellectual or esthetic—and the sum of such accepted achievements constitutes a free, civilized nation’s culture." It is the acceptance of the achievements by other individuals by conscious, individual choice on the part of all men involved.

Jefferson dealt with it by suggesting the necessity of a revolution each generation. Does the space and verbiage utilized in this space devoted to the current political battle answer any part of this primary question? Or are we left with the old adage of 'At least 'such and such' will move us in the right direction' and is that even in the realm of true or reality?


Add Comment

FORMATTING HELP

All Comments Hide marked as read Mark all as read

  • Posted by $ AJAshinoff 4 years, 9 months ago
    Take from this what you will

    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    - John Adams

    By presenting this quote I'm only drawing a parallel that an Objectivist leader (oxymoron?) must have a like-minded Objectivist community if he/she has any hope to govern.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      Excellent "Oxymoron". But don't forget that John Adams, as President, put into place the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, then imprisoned newspaper owners and pamphleteers that disagreed with him. It was one of the major reasons that Jefferson ran for President.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by $ AJAshinoff 4 years, 9 months ago
        I didn't forget, but I also agree with his Sedition Acts of 1798. Considering the time, the infancy of the government which, of course, must have been prone to mistakes and stumbles, foreign allegiances must have been widespread and very relevant. The colonists could easily have been swayed to follow a rebellion since foreign entities could have used the fledglings government inexperience to raise an insurgency.

        The most important aspect of the Sedition Acts to me, unlike the patriot act, was that it was put in place for a time to serve a needed purpose and then, in recognition of his unconstitutional nature, promptly put away.

        If only ...
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
          AJ; I'm a little surprised that you agree with those 4 acts making up the Alien and Sedition Acts, but really amazed that you support the intent of the acts and how Adams acted on them. From my study, admittedly from Jefferson's perspective, Adams imprisoned men that were critical of him and his actions as President. And the Acts weren't just "put away" after serving a "needed purpose." Among Jefferson's first actions upon being sworn in, he pardoned and released the men that Adams had imprisoned and then led the effort to have the Acts repealed, and that had been a major plank of his campaign to gain the Presidency.

          I count Adams' actions, along with Washington's/Hamilton's use of Federal troops against the Whiskey Rebellion in eastern Penn., and Jay's settlement agreement with the British for reparations as the beginnings of the end of the Constitution. Of the three, I consider Adams' the worst.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by $ AJAshinoff 4 years, 9 months ago
            Adams helped pen the Constitution. Before that he was the lawyer who represented the soldiers in the Boston Massacre (and has them freed). I trust he had his reasons at that volatile and formulation juncture on this country's history. That said, I do not trust the future generations since his time to do the same things today. Jefferson was a political rival, he was also disappointed that Adams was the second president over him. I do see Jefferson's point and agree with them. But circumstances at that time afford me the benefit of the doubt, particularly when the Framers, those who fought in the Revolution and constructed our founding documents, were the key characters.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 9 months ago
      You love that quote but there are plenty of John Adams quotes putting down religion - so my guess this was a political stump speech, not his true thoughts.

      “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
      ~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788

      5. “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
      ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by Founding Father John Adams

      6. “Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”
      ~Founding Father John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by $ AJAshinoff 4 years, 9 months ago
        I didn't post the quote to validate religion. I posted because Adams clearly presents that government is not the wellspring of law or morality to American society, its the Constitution depending on the people being self-policing which makes it effective (to avoid tyrannical government). Incidentally, the neutrality of the fed gov in matters of religion (individual beliefs) is what 5 is referring to.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by teri-amborn 4 years, 9 months ago
      Agreed.
      As a "spin-off" thought:
      No Objectivist would seek any kind of political power but would rather seek to be a moral guide to any leader (whether federal or state) who is open to the ideas and ideals of individual rights and freedom with responsibility.
      (Much like the prophets of old were the conscience of the leaders of Israel. Different concrete...same abstraction.)
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by freedomforall 4 years, 9 months ago
    Governing?
    We don't need 'governing.' The few jobs to be done by what we call 'government' should not have significant power over free, productive, sovereign people. The job might be a place where someone learns about business before they graduate to a competitive real world productive position. It should not be a career or a final goal to be attained.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      I agree, but many of the members of GC seem to believe that we not only need governing power, but that we should actively be involved in working to gain that power.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
        I don't know what GC is-but I need my property rights protected. Whether that "force" is govt or private-it will operate as a de facto govt.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by freedomforall 4 years, 9 months ago
          I agree. Protecting property rights is a primary reason given for concentration of power. David Friedman covers privatization of all "government" functions in The Machinery of Freedom. I think protection of private property could be done without "government". Statists who love their power keep getting in the way though ;^)
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
            If you agree that the concentration of power to protect property rights is primary, is not that concentration of power in effect "government" (regardless of the name) and is not the actor of that power a man (men)? The argument given by all 'Statists' or any other Technocrat or whatever term they tend to call themselves, while seeking or in power, is that if we just put the right person or group in charge, then everything will be good.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by freedomforall 4 years, 9 months ago
              Read what I said more carefully.
              "Protecting property rights is a primary reason given for concentration of power."
              I did not agree that singular concentration of power is required to protect property rights as it is in the federal government. I said that is a reason that is given for concentrating power. That is an excuse for centralization of power in government..
              Some limited power to protect rights is a primary need, but giving that power to one agency to rule over everyone is akin to communist central planning. When the agency has no competition and "its their way or go to jail" it is doomed to corruptuion and failure. Decentralization of that power in the free market with competition and customers who choose to use the service voluntarily based on customer satisfaction will result in a non statist outcome with a lower incidence of failure due to corruption.
              There is no right person or group. Anyone can be corrupted under manipulated circumstances. There are no exceptions because of self interest.
              Most people want to live their lives in peace and to have someone to relieve their concern by promising to protect their property and safety is very alluring. Let someone else take responsibility for that, and if something goes wrong it's their fault, and we can blame them instead of ourselves. It's hard enough to find time to handle all the concerns of a business and a family and to pursue happiness.
              But we must find the time to do that one more task, the task of choosing between competing free market defenders of our property. We must do this because no one else has our self interest. No central authority is concerned first with the interests of their "customers". Just because the government man or woman is supposed to represent the interests of the people above his own interests does not mean he will do so. This is unrealistic and naive. When the "government" agent has concentrated ultimate power there are no checks or balances to prevent corruption. Men and women are corruptible.
              Central government is the wrong solution to protect property. It has always rewarded the powerful and has done a poor job of protecting the rights and property of the less powerful.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by lrshultis 4 years, 9 months ago
                How would, say real estate property, be deeded or otherwise have proof of ownership? If you get down to too small an area, then the deed may not be recognized as valid by those in other areas. It would seem that county level would be the smallest deeding authorities whether private of government. There are a lot of areas for protecting the ownership of property that might be best done by government with rational laws. The protection of most property must be done by the owner. Governments usually are not allowed to interfere until the property is stolen or damaged. No one wants an official hanging around his property all the time. Some can afford private security persons but that is more for large properties. Governments not watched and checked closely are hard to get under control, but private 'governing' companies may not be much easier to control where political/cultural beliefs enter into the mix.

                I was just rereading the chapter, "The Fallacy of Anarchism" in Isabel Paterson's "The God of the machine" which ends in a kind of warning for the many today who want a leader.
                "When the word leader, or leadership, returns to current use, it connotes a relapse into barbarism. For a civilized people, it is the most ominous word in any language."
                That is happening throughout the world today, including the USA starting to get into the act leading to the present political situation with promises of near barbarousness, at least in writing from seemingly more sources. In a rational world the desire for leadership should have died out just by the history of the twentieth century. If barbarism, then wholesale death leading to private property mainly some farming and keeping animal herds.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
                free; I understand the libertarian/anarcho-capitalist competition argument. But at it's base lies voluntary compliance and competing/territorial enforcement.

                I won't repeat all the arguments against such approaches other than I agree with AR's positions.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
          I agree wholeheartedly that property rights must be protected, including that I own myself. But the question remains, 'Who is the man elected, selected, drafted, or hired to apply the force necessary for the rest of us?' Can that man be an Objectivist? Or are we destined to remain vulnerable to the lure of power and the misapplication of force?
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by freedomforall 4 years, 9 months ago
            The republican form of government does not invest great power in one man and neither should America. Power corrupts. The less concentration of power, the less risk and the less damage one misguided or corrupted man can do. One virtue of States Rights was that it dispersed power and less people could be affected by any one person's meddling. It is has the advantage of competing ideas getting tested in different locations with the increasing chance of good ideas being eventually implemented voluntarily. The president should not have even 10% of the power that has gradually been stolen from the people and concentrated in the executive branch. Same comment about the Judicial branch and the concentration of power in the Supreme Court, a politically appointed body, that was once spread among the lower courts in many different locations closer to the will of the people. Yes, an Objectivist could fill the job of chief executive of the US but that office was intended to be much more limited in scope and power. Monarchy is not desirable.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ blarman 4 years, 9 months ago
    The best politicians are not the ones who want to be there.

    The best politicians are those who have a regular day job - who don't make politics a career.

    The best politicians are those who have not only read the Constitution, but understand, respect, and fight to uphold its principles.

    The best politicians are unpopular to those who seek power.

    The best politicians are those who are wary of the power they hold: who treat it like a fire which can quickly grow out of control.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 4 years, 9 months ago
    Hello Zenphamy,
    It has become less desirable for anyone disinterested in dominating others to run for public office. George Washingtons are few and far between. The problem seems to me to be directly in proportion to the drift toward nationalism and away from federalism, or as related to statism vs. individualism. Sometimes I think we would have been better off if we had found some other solution to the purported problems of the Confederation and never created a Constitution. As good as it was, it has been as Franklin posited "In these Sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its Faults, if they are such; because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other." I believe we have arrived...

    I prefer to leave, as much as possible, all necessary protection of property and rights to one's local Sheriff who must please the local populace or suffer removal at each election. It may still not be perfect, but there is no utopia and at least it allows some consideration for the disparate interests of the local inhabitants and conditions.

    Considering present circumstances, it seems to me, an Objecitivist would have little incentive or chance to acquire high office in such a subjective, partisan atmosphere.

    Regards,
    O.A.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by ProfChuck 4 years, 9 months ago
    The founders regarded "Government Service" as an obligation of free men to be fulfilled on a temporary basis. It was in this way that the intentions of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution could be protected and fulfilled. When politics becomes a career for those that seek power the inevitability of corruption follows. Politics provides an attractive path for the scoundrel perhaps that is why there are so many scoundrels in politics.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      Prof; interesting point about the founders regard of governmental service. A part of Jefferson's campaign for the Presidency was the necessity of not appearing to want the job and to recruit others, particularly related to newspapers of the day and others in government that would push for "drafting" Jefferson to the campaign.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 9 months ago
    Hi Zen, I think an Objectivist would run for office if we were close to a rational government. Under a rational government, being a politician would be like choosing a Trustee - you are not looking for brilliant, you would be looking for reliable, honest, and conservative (in a literal sense not a political sense).
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      Txs db; I like the "not looking for brilliant" as well as "Trustee". The idea of elected politicians as "Leaders" has always repulsed me, even before I met (reluctantly) and talked with several of them.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 4 years, 9 months ago
        True...they are not leaders...we do not follow them, I doubt the rats would either without a pipe...maybe there was "Mary Jane" in that pipe?!?!?!

        Trustees is on the mark!
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
    why would an objectivist want to govern in a corrupt system?
    2. why would an objectivist run for office, knowing they would not win?
    3. We call them "legislators". an objectivist would not introduce any bills that were not designed to tear down existing law.
    4. His first bill would be to mandate that all legislators are only doing business in DC 3 months of the year, as it was first required.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ Abaco 4 years, 9 months ago
    "overwhelming"... I think "repulsive". A while back I was told by a good friend I should run for California Assembly. My response included, "I don't want to be anywhere near those people..." Haha!

    This is a great question, though. I picture that I'd get into power and immediately start disassembling the machine. Probably would end up being eliminated...ala JFK.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 4 years, 9 months ago
    The thing about a "religious" or virtuous people was merely about morality, ethics as express by the ten commandments...and don't get all excited about "worship"! The lesson here is to not worship, a man, a planet, the sun of what ever...just appreciate existence (put in modern terms)
    You have to realize that's the way it was stated. It was for pagan bicameral man...it was just the paradigm of the times.

    We might very well look back at present times and refer to them as barbaric, superstitious or in some sense, less conscious than some future time...if we make it that far...I have my doubts about that.

    The reference to Z's post, does relate to "Objectivism in the sense that everyone governed by an objectivist government should be themselves, Objectivist...and that's really simple stupid...if We the people are to govern ourselves then some of those people would find their way into that governance...Right?
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by unitedlc 4 years, 9 months ago
    I am sure this is the million dollar question that all objectivists have struggled with their entire lives. I have been over this hundreds of times in my head and can't ever seem to pinpoint the perfect blend of freedom without anarchy.

    First, the idea of a single figurehead leader is everything I am against. A nation of laws should be just that, without the need for "leadership". If you can get through the process of making a perfect set laws that simply protect the individual rights of property and person, then the only form of "government" you would need is a police force and judicial powers. If you could somehow make the police force a volunteer service of citizens that must abide by the same laws as all citizens, then the only issue becomes the judicial system. The actual punishments could be spelled out in the constitution of laws and not be subjective. Judges would have to be simply "managers of the court" that have no real power. All cases would have to be held by a jury of peers, which would be daunting to say the least...

    Once the laws are complete, there would be no need for the executive branch or legislature. In addition, the judicial branch would be somewhat powerless, and simply a management tool to allow the citizens to judge the cases.

    We need laws, not men. Laws that are equal to all, protect all, benefit all. ZERO special interest. No political class.

    The only real issue you have if all of that can be achieved is protection from foreign invasion. Not sure how to get that done without leadership of some sort, not to mention taxes... Don't think a militia of the people is going to cut it in the modern world. If someone has a solution for this please let me know!
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Comment hidden by post owner or admin, or due to low comment or member score. View Comment
    • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 4 years, 9 months ago
      Objectivism is a way of looking at things using your own powers of observation, discerning their nature, testing their value and deciding if useful or not then added the question is it moral? None of that is collectivism it's all personal responsibility.

      I can judge your version of Eutopia meaning the place that doesn't and can't exist using objectivism and that's it.

      So the fallacy in your premise is considering objectivism as a anything more than what it is. A damn fine philosophical tool to address things as they are. There are mentors and guides but with rare exception no leaders for as individuals we lead ourselves.

      Like it or not participants in some form or the other of a social contract we may and do try to influence certain areas but it's still an individual responsibility and unlike a Soviet system participation in the social contract is not mandatory.

      Case in point something very simple. i don't watch TV and learned early on how to use the on and off knobs on a radio followed by having no need for newspapers. Why? Their nature is valueless to my existence. On the other hand i have an extensive music collection multi genre if it has value. I am correct but test it daily. What you decide is also correct. Indivdualism therefore rules and is the smallest of the minorities. Why is that important to me. If I expect you to protect my minority rights I should respect yours. Value given value received. Which gets into politics at that point so i'll stop.

      our saying is if the answer is wrong check premises one or more of them will be false.

      Now you can start off on an even keel and re-examine the nature of things apply your tests, evaluate usefulness and consider is it ethical.

      I want to read that post for sure when you present it.

      Welcome to the world of the mind.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by unitedlc 4 years, 9 months ago
        I have kept up with much of the posting in GG over the years and haven't posted anything until very recently. I consider myself a very confident person, however I get overwhelmed by the knowledge and advanced philosophical minds I sometimes find on these boards. I am a somewhat simple-minded business owner with a marketing degree, so I have spent the majority of my life running businesses. I like to think that I will be able to devote more time to reading and contemplating philosophy when I retire someday... I am busy trying to fulfill my needs and desires and doing my part (at my will) to not be a burden on society. The moochers of the world seem to slowly drain my will power to achieve, but I continue on until I am able to Shrug someday.

        I read Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology when I was in 8th grade and, while I somewhat understood the premise, I was overwhelmed a bit by the use of language. I read Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness (my favorite collection of Rand writings I have so far read) as an adult and feel that I understand fairly well the ideas of Objectivism. I do understand that Objectivist Philosophy and political government don't exactly work together and are mutually exclusive. Objectivism deals entirely with the individual, which, in a political setting, can only hope to provide guidance in the making of the laws needed for a peaceful society. While each individual's needs and desires may be different, we hopefully could only focus on laws that protect each individual from theft, fraud and brute force. Those seem to be the mainstays of an "ethically selfish" individual.

        So, I agree that a government in any form should be a simple social contract beneficial (or at least not debilitating) to all parties. Those who subscribe to objectivist philosophy would most likely be the most logical choice to help come up with laws that do not infringe on the individual. Once the laws are in place, we can live without threat of infringement by a government or political activists.

        Being a business owner I can't not delve into politics I guess...........
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by rbroberg 4 years, 9 months ago
    The Objectivist in power would need a job to do. He or she would need to: (1) protect the nation from foreign invaders, (2) keep the nation lawful, and to a lesser extent (3) ensure that courts remain able to function.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ Temlakos 4 years, 9 months ago
    Before you ask, "who among Objectivists are suited to govern?" you must first ask, and answer: "What would a government look like under Objectivist principles?"

    What are the three proper functions of government? The police, the military, and the law courts.

    So: the most important profession to fill from the ranks of Objectivists is: the Bench. Second to that, the Prosecutorial Bar. Judge Narragansett, who runs an arbitration practice in Mulligan's Valley, is the archetype. And why the Prosecutorial Bar? Because any government, choosing to govern by Objectivist principles, must have as its representatives in court, persons who agree with and can articulate these principles.

    That aside, you need a military Commander-in-chief, and a Chief of Police--or a Sheriff. And of course you need an independent legislature to make the laws that chief of police will administer, and that judges will interpret.

    And of course you want to eliminate any of the other functions this government has arrogated to itself.

    The United States government would do well to limit itself to four departments: State, Treasury, Defense, and Justice.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  

FORMATTING HELP

  • Comment hidden. Undo