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Thursday, April 3, 2003 - 3:39amSanction this postReply
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This person has already existed. Her name was Ayn Rand.

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Tuesday, January 9 - 3:32amSanction this postReply
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A Random Past Article that is echoic of a current thread (if that does not violate time's arrow).

Andre Zantonavitch wrote:

For the past 150 years or so Western Civilization has been divided up into two, and only two, overwhelmingly familiar ideological groups: right and left. The right or "conservative" group tends to favor religion -- or at least "Christian

democracy" -- in its political, philosophical, and cultural views. The left or "progressive" group tends to favor socialism -- or at least "social democracy" -- in its political, philosophical, and cultural views.

[...]

In my estimation, the day even a single truly "self-centered monster" somehow emerges from the deep -- on our conservative and progressive crushed planet -- will be a day of social ecstasy.

 

Patrick Norton replied:

This person has already existed. Her name was Ayn Rand

 



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Tuesday, January 9 - 8:44amSanction this postReply
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Rand spoke of Atilla and the Witch doctor.  Mysticism and force.  We can easily imagine brute force ruling small groups of cave dwellers and call that the first government.  Joining with the witch doctor would make that thug's government more efficient since all the believers would wear the yoke of rule more willingly when it is morally justified.

 

The opposite has always been individualism and exerts itself politically as independence.... liberty.  Morally it is the opposite of altruism.  Epistemologically it is the opposite of faith or any form of group-think - and the opposite of 'thought' based upon the premise of the primacy of consciousness (which is at the heart of today's political correctness).

 

I wouldn't divide us into the two groups that Andre did.  The left has evolved to use Marxism and post-modernism to fuel both the morality and the political correctness they embed into their mental strait-jacket.  They demand faith to their beliefs, claim to use reason and science, but they use them to inculcate an intolerant political/moral/cultural scripture. 

 

The left likes to paint all opponents as members of the radical right.  They know they are successfully defeating that coalition.  They may hate the right, but they like to use them to generate hate and political energy and argument strawmen.  It also serves to satisfy the Saul Alinsky doctrine of ridiculing their opponents.

 

The right is a rag-tag mixture made of two parts:


1.) those who derive their motivation and their drive from Christian religion.  And of those there are some who adhere deeply to an orthodox Christian practice that tends to be immune to the otherwise mesermizing psychoepistemological effects of political correctness.  That is the main reason that we see so much of the religious right in today's news.  The left sees them as the main resistence to implementing political correctness completely.  But the religious right of America are not like the Islamic fundamentalist.  They want to stop Progressives from taking away their political and cultural expressions of religion (like having prayers at the beginning of a football game).


2.) There are those who oppose the left, but aren't deeply religious and whose religion doesn't play any part in their political beliefs.  They don't see religion from the viewpoint of collective salvation or share a drive to convert others.  Instead, they are attempting to prevent the shift towards Marxism or some effect of large government.  The right is, and always has been an ineffective opponent for the left.  It is only because it has the accidental, common-sense understanding of free enterprise on its side that it has done anything.

------------------

 

Rand understood the heart of these issues.  On one side is the primacy of existence, Individualism, Rational Self-interest, Self-esteem, Capitalism, and a Heroic view of life. This side has little to no representation anywhere near today's battle between the left and the right.  All of the different factions - left, right, populist, or whatever - embrace some form collectivism and probably based upon altruism.  That makes them inconsistent with capitalism and self-esteem.



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Tuesday, January 9 - 1:46pmSanction this postReply
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Ha! I had a different name back then. That essay was from 15 years ago.  I wonder if I said anything worthwhile.  



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Wednesday, January 10 - 8:46pmSanction this postReply
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Just to note that the left-right political spectrum is 230 years old going back to the revolutionary French assemblies of 1789 and 1791. Other than that, the original essay is not wrong in any special respect. The basic problem is that the left-right dichotomy is not based on essential concepts that differentiate their adherents. And this is well known, now.

 

The first symbol for the Libertarian Party was an arrow leading off a bar to show that libertarianism is off the traditional left-right spectrum.

 

Libertarian Party logo of the 1970s

The issues then were that the LP was (is) "socially liberal and fiscally conservative."  That, too, has become a mainstream catchphrase. 

 

The Worlds Smallest Political Quiz was created 40 years ago by the Advocates for Self Government.  It asked two sets of questions and plotted your answers in space, left and right, up and down on axes of authority versus liberty and the individual versus the collective. The details have changed over the years as different issues grabbed headlines.

 

https://www.theadvocates.org/quiz/quiz.php

 

It has imitators today.  The FactMyth blog presents several ways to measure Left-Right ideologies.  http://factmyth.com/the-left-right-political-spectrum-explained/

 

This article from The Atlantic (June 20, 2014) is unsurprising, but just underscores the fact that "everyone" knows that the traditional left-right dichotomy is unworkable.  And we know that, but we still use the scale in our own common chats.

 

This article from the Objective Standard (https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2012/06/political-left-and-right-properly-defined/ ) is not wrong, but I do note that they put the people they (and we) like on the Right and their (our) enemies on the left. They could have done it the other way. After all, Ayn Rand defined her political philosophy as being "a radical for capitalism" which could be a left wing label if the right were defined as a traditionalist, i.e., collectivist-altruist. 

 

Ayn Rand was correct in identifying the fact that she was going against 2500 years of philosophy. Steve's mythic narrative in #2 above is easy accept, but is not supported by the facts of history.  "We can easily imagine brute force ruling small groups of cave dwellers and call that the first government.  Joining with the witch doctor would make that thug's government more efficient since all the believers would wear the yoke of rule more willingly when it is morally justified."  I am sure that we can all imagine it. But that does not make it so. In fact, from my university classes 2005-2010, I know of no society so constructed. Even the most "primitive" tribes have complex rules of governance. I think that if you push the clock back, you will find in reality that government in any sense was a recent invention, perhaps only since the last Ice Age, maybe only since 8000 BCE. If you look at social apes, you can see some structures such as the Alpha Male and you can find the Beta Males going around breaking up fights. And that can look like the natural roots of government.  But as for human tribes, the truth is that the bow and arrow (TWO Ice Ages ago, maybe 64,000 years ago) is significant because the bow and arrow lets a female child kill an adult male from a distance. It's an equalizer. So, "government" in the "primitive" tribe must have been about more than brute force.

 

Julian Jaynes asserted that evidence of "cannibalism" among simians (across species, not within) notwithstanding, humans showed no signs of genocide, ritual punishments like mass beatings within the tribe, until after the invention of writing.  Jaynes' theory is that writing gave us internal voice. That was recent. It was a quantum leap. And it separated us from all the apes and other animals in our ancestral past. Even in modern times, there are people who have no "voice in their head."

 

The Liberty Fund asserts a cuneiform sign for "freedom." https://www.libertyfund.org/about-liberty-fund

They may be correct.  The earliest individualst philosopher I can cite was Aristippus of Cyrene. Realize that he was far from what we would recognize as an "individualist" being a slave owner. However, he also recognized the contradiction in that and admitted that it was better for him.  His writing nonetheless was a departure from the political arguments of Plato and Aristotle which accepted collectives as given. For one thing, he chose to not belong to any city, dangerous though that was for a traveler. 

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 1/10, 8:47pm)



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Thursday, January 11 - 4:45amSanction this postReply
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Michael's post #4 is consistent with what I learned in anthropology class.  I get the impression that among current-day stone age tribes, a band of people is more like an extended family than a political entity of any kind.  This was probably true all the way back to the dawn of man.



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Thursday, January 11 - 9:03amSanction this postReply
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Much of Academia hasn't been operating from sound basic principles for a long time. 

 

Family, extended family, clan, tribe, city-state, nation.... all of these can and probably have been, at some time and place, structures where rules about things (complex rules) were backed by force and were the soviegrn structure in that geographic area.  If that isn't government, I don't know what is.  Contrary to Michael's poke at me, I know of many societies so constructed.



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Thursday, January 11 - 5:43pmSanction this postReply
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It is important to understand that today's "primitive" people do not give us an accurate understanding of our distant ancestors. First, today's "primitives" are marginalized to the least desirable places. Our ancestors pretty much had the run of the place, living in an idyllic "happy hunting ground" by comparison. Evidence for that is the slow development of the hand-ax across three homo precursors, erectus, habilus, and neanderthal, maybe acrossd at least 300,000 years maybe much more before (from maybe 1.5 million to about 0.5 million years ago).  They left and returned to Africa. They settled the glacial margins. But their tools seemed not to have changed much. At the same time, though, we have found Neanderthal graves with flowers in them. And we have found Neanderthal skeletons that show healing. So, we know that they cared about each other and cared for each other.  At the same time, however, we have no indications of anything as sophisticated as "religion" though cave paintings from 35,000 years ago may suggest "sympathetic magic." (Or maybe just artistry... ) 

 

We know that males engage in games of dominance, but it is display. Injury is uncommon and death is rare: it would be contrary to reproduction pressures; and (among apes) the losers have social duties, running the bounds to ward off or warn of predators, and breaking up fights. It is not clear that family structures as we know them go back that far. Just to take one example, the Yanoamo of the Brazilian rain forest are "the fierce people." The men fight and kill over women and they kill women wantonly. It would be a grave mistake to project them on our common past.

 

Moreover, humans have been in contact with each other probably always. So, it is not clear at all that behavioral artefacts like family structures are rooted in "nature" and not just invented, learned, and transmitted. I mean, you can have one tribe that is patrilineal and another that is matrilineal and another where males can be cousins, but not females, and so on, and so on.  But that might go back maybe 8,000 years, maybe 30,000,... I don't know... But I do know that from your grandfather to your grandson is five generations and the extened of oral history.  "Our people have always lived here" is a story maybe 100 years old.  It is an indication that the Native American tribes of the Eastern Woodlands were civilized that they actually knew better: they knew pretty well who lived where when before the present situation when the French arrived and the English interfered. The story of Hiawatha is connected to the invention of wampum as a social ameliorator. But, again, it was an invention maybe 1300 to 1500 AD, not something from the dawn of time.

 

 

SW:  Contrary to Michael's poke at me, I know of many societies so constructed.

 

Triple dog dare. And just so that we are perfectly clear on which telephone pole you are going to stick your tongue to...  "(1) We can easily imagine brute force ruling small groups of cave dwellers ...  (2) Joining with the witch doctor ...  (3) all the believers would wear the yoke of rule more willingly when it is morally justified." 

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 1/11, 6:03pm)



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Thursday, January 11 - 8:18pmSanction this postReply
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Marotta, I find most discussions with you somewhat distasteful.  Dealing with the fuzzy thinking in your condesending lectures is like trying to decide which end to grab a turd by.

 

Let me just give a few examples:

 

"It is important to understand that today's "primitive" people do not give us an accurate understanding of our distant ancestors."

 

Important? By what standard?  To whom?  Why did you put 'primitive' in quotes?  Do you think that it is politically incorrect to make that kind of distinction?  Or do you think modern man has become corrupted by technology or modernity or whatever it is that you see as depriving us of that wonderful garden of eden we once had?

 

What kind of magic veil allows you to see what our distant ancestors were like - a magical veil that none of the rest of are able to pierce?  And that, Marotta, was just your first sentence!

---------------------

 

Your wrote,"Our ancestors pretty much had the run of the place, living in an idyllic "happy hunting ground" by comparison. Evidence for that is the slow development of the hand-ax across three homo precursors, erectus, habilus, and neanderthal, maybe acrossd at least 300,000 years maybe much more before (from maybe 1.5 million to about 0.5 million years ago).  They left and returned to Africa. They settled the glacial margins. But their tools seemed not to have changed much." 

 

You think that migrations that spanned hundreds of thousands of years and very slow technological growth are evidence that they were happy?  That's nutty. 

 

"...had the run of the place.."?  They had to walk or run since they didn't even have domestic animals for transport and their life span in the absence of modern medicine - to say nothing of getting enough to eat - gave them a terribly short and unpleasant lives.  I wouldn't call that "idyllic".  Nutty. 

 

You wrote, "... we have no indications of anything as sophisticated as 'religion' though cave paintings from 35,000 years ago may suggest 'sympathetic magic.'"   I don't know why you put religion in quote... to keep it ambiguous?  Clearly one could say that a shared set of mystical beliefs tied to a set of moral imperatives would constitute a primitive religion.  Would you deny that?  On what basis?

You talk about some of the barbaric practices of the Yanoamo people and say, "It would be a grave mistake to project them on our common past."  Why?  Because you have idealized people in the distant past as "happy"?  You live in a fantasy world populated by floating abstractions.
-----------------

 

As an anarchist, you'd never really get the explantion of my statement.  But for anyone else reading this, I'll just say that my statement went to the simple fact that is it less efficient for a ruler to rule by brute force, or even just the threat of force, without government - i.e., without some kind of structure even if it is only a shared understanding of who is in charge - cohorts - a continuity for the ruled to grasp.  Government had to be invented (and/or evolve) because in the absence of a mythical garden of eden the alternative would be chaos.  Once you have any government (even the most primitive clan structure - or even just the understanding that the strongest, meanest person living in the cave makes the rules - then it becomes more efficient from the viewpoint of the ruler.  It will become even more efficient if people adopt the acceptance of the rules as a moral imperative.  Span of control in any social structure has limits, but the limits arise out of the context.  A ruler who is believed to rule out of moral right to do so will need fewer overseers with whips.  THAT is all that I was trying to say.



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Thursday, January 11 - 10:25pmSanction this postReply
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Be careful in anthropology class.  Much of the "history" is done through analysis and deduction.  And so the analaysis and deduction done by... progressives.  In anthropology class you'll learn that savages have culture, a Native American tribe that tortures its own members who step "out of line" are justified, and the list goes on.  To what goal?  To teach a "lesson" to apply to today's world, and that is:  to love anyone, no matter their morality or behavior to other men.  To be clear, one of my favorite classes was a Native American anthropology class, but I was keen to speculation, fact, and also progressive influence.  I was keen to the tribes who moreover had compassion for one another, and I was keen to the tribes who were aggressives.  I don't believe they were all savages, and I don't believe that they all had sophistication, either.  And likewise for all of human history.  But have an Objective eye when looking at these things.  I don't believe Ayn Rand got it all correct in this regard, but I don't think your local university has it all correct, either.

 

(Edited by Korben Dallas on 1/11, 10:27pm)



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Friday, January 12 - 6:07pmSanction this postReply
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Michael is essentially right that the right and left began around 230 years ago, after the French Revolution went bad.

But I disagree with part of what I wrote 15 years ago. I now think there were three philosophical, cultural, and political groups, or categories, up until World War I or so. Right-wing conservatives and left-wing progressives competed a bit with what I call "up-wing liberals". Enlightenment liberalism steadily faded, and became ever more convoluted, after the French Revolution. But it still seemed to exist as an independent force, and set of ideas and ideals, up until 1914 or so. Afterwards, both right and left attempted to claim this noble word and concept for themselves. Each said that they were the "true" heirs of liberalism. Each claimed that the other was the perverter, betrayer, and enemy of modern, post-war liberalism. Actually, both were.

 

(Edited by Kyrel Zantonavitch on 1/12, 6:13pm)



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