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Is Objectivism all or nothing?

Posted by  $  richrobinson 2 years, 5 months ago to The Gulch: General
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I am looking forward to a new administration and I have hopes that progress will be made over the next 4 years. While Trump is not perfect I am willing to take any victories I can. It does seem however that some would prefer to see our system collapse and that Trump will most likely just delay the inevitable. Does that mean Objectivists want all or nothing? Is it okay to accept some progress over none at all?


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    Posted by  $  ObjectiveAnalyst 2 years, 5 months ago
    Hello richrobinson,
    Every Objectivist to date has lived in the world as it was. Some have tried to improve it and spread the word. Some have just lived as best they can. I prefer to live in a time when the flame still has a chance to burn... and perhaps even brighter.

    “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours.” ― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

    Regards,
    O.A.
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 5 months ago
      Hi OA. I realize it is an uphill struggle but I am willing to press on. Hope all is well with you.
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      • Posted by dwlievert 2 years, 5 months ago
        Rich: What many "Objectivists" forget, is that philosophy - especially rational Objectivist philosophy, is for the purpose of happiness. Politics is but the last "component." The first three, metaphysics, epistemology, and most importantly, morality, are the first three.

        Understanding of THAT context, leads to the answers of your own question(s).
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        • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 5 months ago
          Ah, but you left out politics and art.
          It is true that the first three are the most important because they give birth to the remaining two. But those two are an immediate reflection of the nature of the whole philosophical concept. If you want to know the nature of the society you're dealing with, check out the politics and art and you'll know in 5 minutes.
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          • Posted by dwlievert 2 years, 5 months ago
            Of course you are correct Herb, but the "if" in your response is all-telling.

            Do you not think that such things as "the nature of the society you are dealing with" is secondary to one's happiness? Do such concepts not represent far greater abstractions, embodying that which an individual can do little about, and depending on the importance of one's other values, seemingly becoming the object of one's existence? To the extent they do does it not become counter-productive, and if acted upon, an "out-of-context" focus that is potentially destructive of philosophy's primary purpose?

            Yes it does take 5 minutes once you understand what Rand (and others) have taught, but that understanding is, more importantly, but part of the far greater understanding upon which one's happiness rests.

            Those who would "save the world," whether rationally "natural" as Rand's imaginary Galt might conceive, or irrationally "supernatural" as the mystic's Jesus might construe and believe, it must be left to those among us desirous of such things. The rest of us must live our lives within the context of the world as it is. Our happiness, rationally derived, as our unerring goal.

            Each of us, after spending whatever time is necessary to understand Rand, and then spending the 5 minutes "checking out the politics and the art" currently on display, should simply say "brother you asked for it," and emotionally move on. Any additional minutes added to the previous 5, should only be expended if we believe we might actually do something about what the initial 5 minutes brought to light.

            Out happiness remorselessly depends on it.
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            • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 5 months ago
              You are a profound and precise thinker. I wish I could give you a whole lot of points, not because they matter, but to show my appreciation. As you say, a person who has read and understood Rand's non-fiction would grasp things as you point out.
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  • Posted by khalling 2 years, 5 months ago
    I worry that people will compare Trump with Rand (error) and then say-see? this is what you get with the thinking of Objectivists. Politics is part of philosophy, but there can be no compromises in metaphysics, epistemology or ethics. Politics comes after all of that. You need to read more of her non-fiction work. Have You read Philosophy Who Needs It? yet?
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    • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 5 months ago
      People have already compared Alan Greenspan with Rand, and Objectivism is still standing. I'm actually hoping that Ayn Rand's views will attract attention, even if initially for the wrong reasons, since such attention will encourage people to read her books and be exposed to Objectivist ideas from the source.
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      • Posted by strugatsky 2 years, 5 months ago
        Not all that have read her books have actually understood them. Not all that read books, understand them; seeing word, or hearing word, does not equal understanding.
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        • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 5 months ago
          True, but a certain percentage will read Ayn Rand's books, understand them, and apply their principles. And that percentage, whether small or large, is vital. Exposing her books to a wider audience is an absolute precondition for the continued spread of her philosophy.
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    • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 5 months ago
      Bullseye for the K man.
      I took me several readings of her non fiction when it became clear to me exactly what "check your premises" meant. Wrong premise, wrong route, wrong conclusion.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 5 months ago
    " Is it okay to accept some progress over none at all?"
    My admittedly snide answer is it depends on what your goal is. If we like things going to the devil, being sanctimonious, and having a flood-myth hope that the problems will lead to catastrophe that wipes out the decadent, then we should make no compromises. If we actually want people's rights respected, incremental progress is the only way.
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 5 months ago
      My concern is what a total collapse would lead to. I don't see a John Galt figure waiting in the wings prepared to build a country based on freedom and liberty. My feeling is we would go totally Socialist at that point.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 5 months ago
        "is what a total collapse would lead to"
        Not only that, things are amazingly good right now. Many people on earth understand the concept of their rights, that they're intrinsic, that they flow from them to the state not the other way around, and they expect their rights to be somewhat respected. People solve their problems with courts rather than violence, and the very concept of having a duel of some sort is now seen as low-class behavior. People who indulge in the flood-myth fantasy ignore how good we have it. We should build on what we have. We should be able to say our society respects personality liberty greatly without that being seen as condoning our imperfections. It's like we should be able to say spousal abuse or any other problem is way down compared to human history without that being seen as condoning the problem in its current form.
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        • Posted by  $  allosaur 2 years, 5 months ago
          Believe it or not, me dino is not into destruction.
          I do not at all anticipate that a glorious John Galt will arise from the ashes of a socioeconomic collapse.
          More likely it would be someone like the current TV villain in The Walking Dead who uses homicidal terror to mooch off others.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negan
          Maybe more likely, no matter if progressive policies DID bring the USA down, an individual or a group of Bolshevik Bernies would arise to successfully pied pipe for a doubling down on control freak fascist socialism if not communism.
          However it works out, the only phoenix to arise from such ashes won't be about the ringing of freedom.
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          • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 5 months ago
            If you did believe that a Galt would magically appear, you'd be pretty much the same as the devout Christians waiting for (sometimes demanding) the 2nd coming. Of course, when a friend of mine became an evangelical I'd tease him by pretending that I thought the 2nd coming meant that he got lucky twice.
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        • Posted by term2 2 years, 5 months ago
          The biggest danger at this point in time is the explosion of technology in giving government effective ways to control people. I definitely dont like the war on guns, and the NSA approach to knowing everything about me. There needs to be remedies to excessive government, and at least before Trump I was getting nervous that there werent any left.

          I am definitely one of the deplorables and I hope he can thread his way through the swamp to free us of the shackles of statism.
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          • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 5 months ago
            There are still many Bush-style Republicans who simply see Trump as a shallow clown. I think he'll surprise everyone. He won't turn back the Progressive agenda in its entirety because its been percolating since Woodrow Wilson was President, then FDR piled on, followed LBJ who dropped a mountain of crap on America, followed br Obama's dreadful presidency. But it looks as if he'll make inroads and hopefully another right leaning candidate will carry it on.
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      • Posted by term2 2 years, 5 months ago
        In addition, a total collapse wont just happen. It will be accompanied by a lot of clawing and scratching on the way down, and it would take a long time.

        Once totally collapsed, it will also take a long time to recover.

        Both of those things would exceed my remaining lifetime and make living not very good during the time I have left.
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  • Posted by IndianaGary 2 years, 5 months ago
    Eventually, we want all, BUT movement in a positive direction is good. The problem is that some positive movement is often misinterpreted as being more than it really is. The direction is important, but a sustained trajectory is critical to attaining the ultimate goal of a truly free society. To paraphrase Rand, a mixture of food and poison will still kill you, just more slowly. Trump is far from perfect and I suspect that we will all be pulling our hair out over some of his moves; however, his presidency offers us an opportunity to educate those not yet too-far-gone to the benefits of capitalism. No one is perfect; hell, even Rand had issues. The best you can do is the best you can do. Accept positive moves and do as much as you can to correct the poor ones; many of them are errors of ignorance by well meaning people and those can be corrected when identified.
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 5 months ago
      Great points Gary. Reagan made some positive moves and in retrospect it amazes me how fast we allowed everything to be undone. Have to keep our eyes on the prize at all times.
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  • Posted by coaldigger 2 years, 5 months ago
    I expect the ultimate goal to be an absolute. I expect it to represent the truth and that everyone should strive to attain it. It is important that this kind of goal never moves or needs to. Those supporting this goal should never waiver or have to. Objectivism, based on reality and reason is the only philosophy that can stand the test of reason therefore it is ultimately all or nothing. All progress along the way is a significant achievement and should be enjoyed to the fullest.
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  • Posted by Esceptico 2 years, 5 months ago
    I agree with you, one should take the victories when you can get them. Looking at Trump's cabinet picks, he looks far greater than I had hoped. To answer your question, it seems to me the majority (not just some) of the Objectivists want it all or nothing. I see it as suffering from Nirvana Fallacy = comparing some utopian ideal with the real world. Actually, it may be worse because most of the Objectivists fight among themselves as to what the utopian ideal is and the more dogmatic among us then characterize any disagreement with their own viewpoint as immoral, in the tradition of each Inquisitor defining heresy and then persecuting as he saw fit.
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 5 months ago
    I'd rather be standing ground with Trump than pressing forward towards collapse with Hillary. Doesn't mean we're headed in the right direction, however, and despite all the Trump fanatics, I am skeptical that he's going to lead the nation back to more solid economic and philosophical footing. I'm going to wait until he's been in office that first 100 days before I pass too much judgment, however.
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  • Posted by chad 2 years, 5 months ago
    Donald Trump is not a move to Objectivism. He has used legal polemics to take property from others to benefit himself. He has supported the Clintons in the past when their socialist programs benefited him. He hasn't been sworn in yet and is already breaking his promises to repeal the ACA in its entirety, build a fence, prosecute the Clintons, etc. He is like every other politician who will say what he thinks the electorate wants to hear with no intention of delivering anything but socialism. There are a million chains binding us and his broken promise to undo one is not heartening nor inspiring that anything will come of his administration. Yet what I hear most often is, 'let's wait to see what happens.' When my communist daughter voted for Obama I told her he would not end the war, 8 years later it has not been ended but expanded into other countries and all I hear are excuses for his behavior. I expect the same for Trump, he will not deliver on his promises and all I will hear will be excuses about how he really is for freedom he just is not able to accomplish anything because . . . . . it is not his fault.
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    • Posted by LibertyBelle 2 years, 5 months ago
      I am not overjoyed that Trump has won, just re-
      lieved (to an extent). As I said before, Russian
      roulette over certain death. But if he makes statist
      moves, perhaps we can stop him in those cases.
      (If you're in a gerrymandered district represented
      by a Democrat, and Trump comes up with a
      statist measure, maybe you can get the Demo-
      crat to vote against it, if only for spite).
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  • Posted by unitedlc 2 years, 5 months ago
    Objectivism is a very different philosophy than many others. There is no "one size fits all" with Objectivism, since it deals with an individual's pursuit of rational self interest. Everyone has different self interests, so if an individual's goal is to obtain the most freedom or wealth or whatever, then having excitement over a baby step to achieving that goal can be celebrated within the Objectivists thoughts. Since a rational mind can conclude that a 100% Objectivist society is impossible to achieve within one's lifetime, then not celebrating the small victories would be irrational.

    Additionally, a rational person's perception of what a candidate may or may not do to help/hurt their own self interest can vary from Objectivist to Objectivist. For instance, if my primary goal is to make more money, then Trump might seem like the best available candidate. If my primary goal is to have freedom to do as I please then perhaps Johnson might have been a better choice. It is all perception.
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  • Posted by term2 2 years, 5 months ago
    If I was going to live forever, I wou want it all.
    Seeing as though thats not going to happen, I will accept as objectivist a society as I can get.
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  • Posted by Abaco 2 years, 5 months ago
    I am tending to adhere to the theory that our system, politically, is like a pendulum. It goes left and right and many recently noticed that it was going too far left...therefore, President Trump. However, I believe that what we are seeing is not an impending, sudden, collapse. What we'll experience is a gradual, subtle reduction in our quality of life, accompanied with a parallel reduction in our personal freedoms. The pendulum in the grandfather clock goes back and forth while the clock slowly rolls down a shallow slope. In 60 years it's possible that America will be more like Argentina with a very powerful domestic security element, for an example.

    I think almost any philosophy is "all or nothing". You either are in, out, or have a new philosophy. But, I'm no expert on that.
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 5 months ago
      Hi Abaco. I think we have strayed so far left as a nation that it will take a Herculean effort to change direction.. It seemed that each time the pendulum swung right it was less and less and each leftward shift was greater and greater.
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      • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 5 months ago
        I find the "left" and "right" categories to be increasingly less useful. The "left" includes collectivists in economic policy, and both individualists and "pc police" when it comes to social policy. The "right" includes economic free-marketers and both social individualists and social collectivists. Both groups include militarists and non-interventionists. I generally disregard "left" and "right" labels and focus on the degree to which a candidate or policy supports individual liberty.
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        • Posted by Abaco 2 years, 5 months ago
          Yes...I think both you and Rich really speak the truth here. The "right" that we have really isn't right anymore (pun intended). I gripe that they're statists, for example. The true right, anymore, just exists in online forums like this - based on my observations. But, look at history. Isn't this a scenario that repeats itself over and over? - this gradual slither toward the left toward eventual ruin?
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  • Posted by  $  edweaver 2 years, 5 months ago
    Okay to accept some progress, of course. But some progress will not solve the problem and the result will be going in the opposite direction again in 4-8 more years. Sooner or later the final result will be the total collapse whether we want it or not.
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 5 months ago
      Hi Ed. I am hoping that if we make some progress we can change peoples thinking and we can keep it going. May be wishful thinking but I have to have hope.
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      • Posted by  $  edweaver 2 years, 5 months ago
        Unfortunately, unless we get a substantial reduction in government we will not see the improvement necessary for people to notice the change. It will be more of the last 20 years and in 4-8 years people will be looking for change again. A little is not enough. Hope I am wrong and you are right. We will see.
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  • Posted by rbroberg 2 years, 4 months ago
    Principled action should dictate what we say and do, but I don't want all or nothing. I prefer America to most countries. I prefer her not because we speak English, but because of the sizeable number of adherents to reason. Whether implicit or explicit, a commitment to reason drives all innovation and excellence. Other nations are held back from a better life due to their governmental or cultural issues, but America still has the vestiges of reason in its cultural DNA. While I disagree with the emotionalism and latent nationalism in many of Trump's followers, I think we should leave it up to the man to do what he has been hired to do.
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  • Posted by rbroberg 2 years, 5 months ago
    Hi There Rich,
    I cannot speak for all Objectivists, but there is a critical difference between Objectivism and alt-right conservatism. We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of pragmatism with this president, who does not appear to know principles as well as he knows how to stir up a crowd.

    The question of whether alt-right conservatism or liberalism is worse might have a legitimate basis or might be a moot point, depending on the specific question. As for me and, I am sure, some other Objectivists, there is little fundamental difference between the two parties. Each exploits and reduces individual rights in favor of something else. The Democrats reject the right to property and, in so doing, destroy the virtue of productiveness. The Republicans under Trump reject certain liberties, liberties such as abortion rights or the rights of foreign nationals; should the taxpayers of Mexico be held accountable for an expensive 3000-ish mile wall? With this, Trump threatens the virtue of integrity.
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    • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 5 months ago
      Re: " . . . there is little fundamental difference between the two parties." That may not be true for much longer. Thanks to Trump, the "establishment" wing of the Republican Party is losing most of its influence, strengthening the social conservative and libertarian wings. And the "progressives" are becoming increasingly dominant in the Democratic Party. Objectivists may not be able to find a true home in either party, but true differences are beginning to exist between them, and as a result we now have a vastly changed political landscape to deal with.
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 2 years, 5 months ago
    Richrobinson, hope should not be in the objectivist vocabulary. Trump is setting up cabinet nominee's that have a take no prisoner approach going into their prospective positions. My concern is that they are confirmed by Congress without any shenanigans. I don't trust Congress despite Republican majority. I would like to see them with a can do attitude also.
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    • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 5 months ago
      If the Senate Democrats hang together, it would take only three renegade Republicans to block Trump's cabinet nominations. But I don't expect the Dems to hang together. Many vulnerable Democratic senators who rode in on Obama's coattails in 2012 face re-election in 2018. Their constituents may not be happy if these senators attempt to sabotage Trump this early into his presidency.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 2 years, 5 months ago
    Ayn Rand remarked on voting for candidates that
    were imperfect; she said that (memory quote) Ford
    "is not ideal, but he deserves great credit for his
    courageous attempt to hold down government
    spending, and cut government controls...." I also
    heard her on tape advocating Daniel Patrick
    Moynihan over Buckley, in spite of the reserva-
    tion she had about national health care.
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  • Posted by Watcher55 2 years, 5 months ago
    It depends on context. Objectivism is "all or nothing" in terms of its philosophy (you can't validly call yourself an "Objectivist" if you pick and choose which bits you like); and it is all or nothing in terms of living by principles, because its basic principle is that doing otherwise is contrary to your own life.

    However none of that means you can't trade with people of mixed premises (I don't care what the cabbie's political philosophy is), or that if there is a clear advantage to one bad path over a worse path, you shouldn't go with the former and try to make it even better.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 5 months ago
    If no compromise means the descent of civilization into another Dark Ages, then I say get what we can get if is leading, even by a crooked road, in the right direction. If Mrs. Clinton had won, there is no doubt in my mind that it would be a blow so strong to freedom that civilization's slide into collectivism would accelerate to the point where there would be no turning back. It is to old adage about why the mighty trees fall in a hurricane but the willows remain standing because they are willing to bend. However, if humanity is on the crooked road going the right way, there will be many times when a refusal to compromise will be the right course.
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  • Posted by Tbird7553 2 years, 5 months ago
    The biggest, and most valid, arguments against trump from objectivists seems to me to be that he will damage capitalism's reputation by doing crony type things and people blaming what he does on the fact that he is a "Capitalist".
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  • Posted by tdechaine 2 years, 5 months ago
    We have no choice; we won't get much.
    Trump and some cabinet members are being portrayed in the media as "Objectivists"; they are far from it, but their values might possibly yield some good results. Unfortunately, the more they fail, the more it appears as a black mark on the philosophy.
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