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Thursday, July 10 - 4:02pmSanction this postReply
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I think the author totally gets it with his 'hiding in plain sight' observations.

 

But I'm starting to realize that some belief in a someday 'Galt's Gulch' as an actual, physical place is not fringe.

 

That kind of floor's me.  Even as a 14 yr old kid, I interpreted that as a metaphor.

 

Surely...no, never start off an assertion in a world like this.   

 

In AS, there was John Galt the 'oiler' who for most of the year "hid in plain site" not supporting a corrupt tribal cluster fuck with his best efforts.   And for part of the year...a kind of 'vacation' from the world, a fleeing to hang out with like minded folks.  In her romantic novel, a literal fleeing.   In reality, at most, a figurative/virtual fleeing.   Am I the only one who interpreted AS that way????

 

The Galt's Gulch of Rand's fiction never made the least bit of sense as an actual place.    For one, it existed inside of an expensively maintained poltiical context.     Safely tucked away "in Colorado" somewhere, far from those nasty borders and the rest of the world.    As if, with a Hitler marching loose in the world,  a tiny club of capable campers in the hills were going to stave off the Third Reich using wiggly air above their little valley.   Perhaps Midas Mulligan would stop the advancing columns at the valley entrance and show them the deed to his land.   Galt's Gulch as an actual, physcial place is an absurdity in this world, as it is, no wildernaess or frontier to be found.   Was it some kind of well hidden secret that Rand was writing a romantic novel when she wrote AS?

 

But Galt's Gulch as a concept, including the vast majority og John Galt's year,  as 'hidden in plain sight", is not an absurdity, and the definition of 'oiler' is subject to all kinds of imaginative interpretations in reality.   The evidence of that is our economies, as they are.

 

When enough people lose faith in the economic game, what do they do?    Of course they 'shrug.'  There is no meeting necessary; there is no mysterious stranger knocking at the door.  Jesus, if they were that much of an idiot to need to be told by some mysterious stranger at the door, then I'd really wonder about them.  The knock at the door, if there was a knock at the door, was Rand's novel 60 years ago.   Who in their right mind with even half a mind would need more then that as fair warning to open their eyes?

 

Thinking there needs to be a physical 'Galt's Gulch' is to me as absurd as waiting for an actual John Galt to come to the door and knock.    Are we all really that literal in our interpretation of AS?

 

No,  in the world as it is,  there is no announcement; no knock at the door; no marking of the event.   No trace at all.     What never happens is not measurable or detectable, only realizable.

 

In another time, in another culture, there was a use for one set of skills and talent.    In todays culture,  it is entirely possible -- in fact, a necessity for those who love thier life and the living of it -- to make exactly 'enough' effort and no more.

 

As a value.   As a satisfying value.

 

Obama is right; we didn't build that.   We built something much, much smaller.  Something big enough, and no bigger.  That is the modern skill.

 

Now go tax the other thing, the thing we never built.   Go find it first.

 

For as long as it takes.   Not a problem.

 

The Obamas of the world have a theory; their theory is that some folks just can't help themselves but make Obama's world work for him. 

 

It is a kind of inevitability.

 

The Hell, he says.

 

This isn't a cultural war without victims.   I knew one, an acquaintance.   Reformed radical liberal from the 60s.   Went into construction, started small, built up his construction company for decades, struggled his whole life to make it bigger.   Succeeded, almost, right up until the end.   He did what he thought was 'rock solid safe' and had most of his pension assets in GM bonds.

 

Yes, that was 'stupid.'  He lost nearly everything he had built upover decades in a single swipe of a community organizer's pen.    See, that was his own fault; he should have realized, in this world, as it is, that 'risk' does not include just normal assess the health of companies risk, but risk of a politico scumbag effortlessly wielding a pen in DC and wiping him out. See, if he was 'diversified' in other fascist entities tied much closer to the guns of state, he could have at least spread that 'risk.'    He was bitter for the last few years of his life and died almost penniless, rotted with hatred.

 

Well, let me tell you; the same applies to any of us out here with assets in any regulated pension plan; we are all one swipe of that same pen away from having that portion of our pension assets cleaned out, and it can happen at any moment, and dont' fool yourself for a second that this out of all control cluster fuck is beyond doing that; the massive pool of black ink that is funded pension plans has been burning a hole in the governments pocket since at least the mid nineties.   This has been obvious for years;  the formula is going to be, "If you've got it, you don't need it...until you don't have it, then we'll print more money and give you your alms from the state."

 

regards,

Fred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  



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Thursday, July 10 - 8:47pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Fred.  As a teenager and even as an adult with grey hair I took it literally.  Only with the eighties and cyberpunk just a step ahead of the actual Internet did I perceive virtual communities. However, those really have been with us for a long time.  Isocrates about 330 BCE said that the name "Hellene" did not apply to a people but to a state of mind. Philosophy had spread across the Greek-Persian permiable membrane.  The American Revolution was launched in part by "Committees of Correspondence" when men separated by place came together via the mails. 

 

You have to take Rand's social context seriously. Remember what the world of before 1957 was like: no satellites.  Even now remote sensing reveals "lost cities" from images never taken before of some few hundred meters on a side.  And the shimmering air waves were Dagny's perception of an effect of a  phenomenon that is not explained in depth.  Maybe the people could enjoy a Floridian winter in the Colorado Rockies.  It does not matter much. I do grant Wolf's objections here and now.  Everything is online.  I took an isolated place, Oak Creek, Colorado.  (I found it with Mapquest. Just start with Colorado and move the map away from the cities...)  That is in  Routt County.  And here is the link to the interactive GIS views of taxable lands: http://maps.co.routt.co.us/parcelviewer/ You can zoom right up to Judge Narragansett's taxable front porch.  But this did not exist in 1957.  So, the fault was not Ayn Rand's that we cannot duck and cover today.

 

RoR is a virtual community. So are the very very many other online communities that exist. I am not sure that it matters.  If anyone is actually doing trade and commerce, they are very smart not to say anything about it.



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Thursday, July 10 - 8:55pmSanction this postReply
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The big thing about this is that Devoon actually wrote a constitution for a real community.  It did not work. The community did not work, so the constitution was never fully implemented.  It is perhaps the essential problem in organizing individualists.  It is truly the herding of cats.  Nonetheless, the proposed five Articles were really intended for operation.  On the other hand, we have had vague discussions here about amending or improving or replacing the US Constitution and no one ever proposesd anything as concrete and tangible as Devoon's five Articles.  "We want to protect natural rights."  Fine. How?  Devoon attempted a solution to the problem. I found it elegant, hyperstable.  And unworkable with the kind of people who would abandon society in order to carry out secret deals involving large sums of cash. In order to have a society of laws not of men, you must have a society of men who obey the law.



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Friday, July 11 - 9:09amSanction this postReply
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Michael:

 

It was a remarkable actual effort, including the 'failure' of the experiment of LFCity.   And the postulation of a coherent new 'constitution of Liberty' still is a remarkable actual effort, I agree.    Speaking of which,  Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty, as well as his earlier Constitution of Liberty, would make for an interesting... well, not so much contrast as comparison.

 

And just because whatever we call our current tribal cluster fuck isn't up to any of that is no reason to dismiss any of that effort as a failure; the failure is in the tribal cluster fuck, not those ideas of liberty.

 

The focus on 'large transactions of cash' I think is part of the problem of the failure.   Rand discussed this in detail.   Money is not automatically an equivalent proxy for value-- especially with fiat money.     It takes perhaps enourmous cultural effort at adhering to a kind of personal morality to maintain an actual equivalence between value-proxies and actual value.    Inevitably, because on average we are at most average, half of us will adhere to that kind of morality far less than the other half, and in so doing, perseverate on the value-proxies as a shortcut to the value produced only by others.    At the fringes in modern value-proxy economies, there are always criminal counterfitters and those who outright steal.   But when we institutionalize that perseverance only on value proxies-- as in exactly what has happened on Wall Street, in Fortune 500 boardrooms, the entire 'Financial Services Industry", and in DC,  economies stumble, falter, and fail, as near complete faith is lost in the economic game.

 

Without a diligent community government enforcing the discipline of that morality, on average it will rot away.   This is as natural a fact as water running downhill, not uphill, on its own.   And when that government rots to the point where it itself institutionalized the very opposite of that morality, well, the sprint downhill is truly awe inspiring.

 

The Mafia, at the very least, used to understand the concept of modulation and restraint.   The beast needs to live in order to ride its neck with the fangs dug in.     I suspect the current tribal free-for-some has long realized that it is beond that point, and we are well into the rats on a sinking ship phase of the festivities, with some rats climbing over others more efficiently than others.  The current cloud of unreality seems to be mostly driven by a kind of existential terror, coupled with broad incrudulity, weariness, and disbelief.

 

Free association, not forced association.   Prohibition of involuntary shed risk.     Value for value.    It doesn't take very many complex axioms to restore the required morality to restore free economies.  However, in the face of an out of control government that embodies and institutionalizes the antithesis of all that, never going to happen without a collapse of that cancer.

 

The closest I ever got to imagining a kind of physical 'Galt's Gulch' was the wishful utopic dream of a bifurcated America; a kind of civil - civil war/division of the long divided nation.    But that peaceful factual division of the nation is massively unlikely.   And one reason for that is the very nature of the conflict between those who advocate free assocation and those who advocate forced association.    It would need to be a violent separation, which is the opposite of what we have, which is a violent unification.

 

Remember, the world has long seen the physical model for the current political conflict in the USA;  the walls and barbed wire around West Berlin were to keep people from fleeing forced association, not free association.   What once was an external conflict has long -- for decades -- become an internal conflict in what is left of America.   As well, they never called it 'The Brawn Drain.'

 

regards,

Fred

 

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 7/11, 9:17am)



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Friday, July 11 - 10:02amSanction this postReply
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It's not hard to understand the nature of the current conflict between those who advocate forced association and those who advocate free assocaition.   The claim is made by the 'forcers' that forced association is necessary for the able to meet the needs of the unable, and therefore, as spokesmen for the unable, the able are hereby forcefully served notice: they were born to meet the needs of those less able, even if at the point of a gun, and that the balance of the tribe -- the balance that claims their need is a warrant on the ability of others to meet that need, -- self holds a moral justification to void all possibility of benevolence and charity and replace it with servitude to the latest claim of endless 'need' -- the latest now being, 'equality of outcomes.'   Those making this argument may not be able to meet those needs themselves, but they are able to pander for the power to point guns and make it so, and that righteousness rising in their throats really isn't the same old same old rising, it is a moral and worthy thing, according to them.    A moral and worthy thing that justifies their limos in DC riding from Georgetown Bistro to golf outing, and the opulance of the Northern VA suburbs, while Detroit looks worse today than decades ago when the nation fell for this complete nonsense.

 

You don't have to look for it, our current economies are slowly telling the story;  the able are answering 'Fuck you, your guns, your runny sores, your bedbug laden public transportation, your righteous bile rising in your throat, not going to pull your wagon for you at the point of any state gun.  If we've got no say in our own charity and benevolence--that which you claim we can provide that you -need- , then why should you at the point of your guns?   So your move; now go figure out a way to make us pull your wagons for you, or, failing that, as you have, print your own zeros on bonds and pull your own wagons.    How is that mad sprint running downhill working out so far?'

 

Our present economies are the result; the surprising face of social justice.   Eventually, Main Street America will shake its head clear of all the incredulity and confusion and anger and figure out who the real perps are, it is just a matter of time.   In the meanwhile, take all the time you think you can bear, Main Street America, because it is mainly those adhering to this decades old nonsense that are currently taking it up the butt.

 

What did they think was going to happen?   There is a hint in that question, and it is in italics.   The able are able to think, too.

 

This is Human Nature 101; the desire to be free exists even in the able.   So, good luck with all the clumsy forks to the 'forcers.'   It will soon enough come time, as the clumsy forks and all the printing of zeros on bonds continue to fail, for the forcers to show their essence.  

 

And then, for sure, they lose.

 

In the mean time, indeed, Obama et.al, what is wrong with asking?   You should try it some time for the first time.   It is called free assocaition.  Look it up after the next round of golf.. 

 

regards,

Fred

 

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 7/11, 12:01pm)



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Friday, July 11 - 6:54pmSanction this postReply
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FB: "The Mafia, at the very least, used to understand the concept of modulation and restraint. "

 

I am not Italian: I am Hungarian.  My daughter thought that she was a gang banger before I read any of the Puzo books (Godfather and Fourth K; Godfather movie several times, of course: "You're naive, Kate.") or watched Goodfellas.  She once said, "If we were really Italian, I could drink wine with dinner." The social worker replied, "If you were really Italian, you would have a job and bring your wages home for the family."  But, knowledge at a distance being what it is, the difference between the Mafia and the Government is personal responsibility for the consequences of your decisions. I know nothing first hand about this, but it seems to me that in street-level gangs, you have to answer for what you do. Some sacrifices may be made - Pesci's character Tommy DeVito - but basically you take the heat for your choices. In government, no one is actually responsible for anything.  Civil service protects you.  

 

(True enough, the Ambassador to the UN was sacrificed because the Secretary of State screwed up. That was a parallel event because someone got sacrificed to even it out. But it was at that higher, headline-grabbing personal level, whereas 99% of government is invisible.)

 

That speaks to the problems here with Laissez Faire City: no one wanted to be held accountable. Devoon wrote his Constitution and they all ignored it because they were above the law, otherwise why have a Laissez Faire City?  

 

I see the same attitude among many (most?) Objectivists and libertarians. They think that this is not just Atlas Shrugged, but Anthem, and the laws do not apply to them.  

 

Balancing that is the necessary resistance to what you call "forced association" and which is slavery.  

 

The essential distinguishing characteristic is that Laissez Faire City was a voluntary community.  People came there by choice.  But, so, too, with America.  Was an immigrant of 1849 bound by the Compromise of 1850? It is a principle of republicanism that you obey the law until you can change it by lawful means.  In extreme circumstances, lawful means include civil disobedience, which by definition must include being arrested and taking your plea to a court of law.  That is why Devoon looked to legal traditions in equity and common law for remedy.  

FB:"And just because whatever we call our current tribal cluster fuck isn't up to any of that is no reason to dismiss any of that effort as a failure; the failure is in the tribal cluster fuck, not those ideas of liberty."

 Well, yes, we like to believe that, but by objective metaphysics, no contradiction exists between the moral and the practical. So, what you are saying is that we have a good plan, but we do not know how to realize it. It is like giving the blueprints for an electrical generator to Pythagoras.  You could explain most of it to him in a year or so, but the technology of his time would prevent him from physically being able to build one.  (I was trying to find blueprints for the Constellation class NCC 1701 Enterprise, but none would load as an image here.  You understand the allusion.) Again from the Star Trek universe in ST:NG Picard and his crew find a race of proto-Vulcans on a primitive planet. As things work out, one of the females is highly intelligent (obviously not science fiction) and she figures out that her ancestors must have had a higher level of technology.  So, are you asserting that Objectivism is a higher technology of morality that we sweaty apes have yet to fully understand?

 

I might concur ... except that I would bet hard money - would you put up an ounce of silver against mine? - that each of us here, as well as many others on MSK's OL, and Objectivism Online, and the other boards, as well as those who do not participate - all would swear by their lives and their love of them that they are indeed living for themselves and not demanding or accepting sacrifices.

 

So, where does that leave us?

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 7/11, 7:28pm)



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Friday, July 11 - 7:48pmSanction this postReply
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Bartolini: "Eventually, Main Street America will shake its head clear of all the incredulity and confusion and anger and figure out who the real perps are, it is just a matter of time."

 

  I think not; nor is it necessary, though it would be sufficient.  How many of the people in the world, in Europe, in western Europe, in Italy of 1400 actually sought the high ground of l'uomo universale? So few that we name Turtles after some of them.  Yet, the Renaissance was real. Even 150 or 200 years after philosophy supplanted religion, Socrates was tried for impiety, as had been Anaxagoras and Aspasia in the generation before. But the trend continued. The Hellensitic Era of 300-100 BCE might have been the true high water mark for the next 1500 years. How would anyone living then have known?  

 

Broad trends are difficult to see when you are in them.  It is like being a point on a wave crest: everything left and right looks like it is at your own level. You do not perceive the wave.  

 

Not usually... But I agree that we are on one.

 

The only thing is that no one that I know of can foresee where it is leading...  

 



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Sunday, July 13 - 7:24amSanction this postReply
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In fact, my grandfather's name was 'Barteletti'; but Bartoloni will do.

 

Wherever we are going, it is clear we aren't navigating there.  At least behind any navigators with a clue about the required spherical trigonometry, whatever it actually is. 

 

I'm not even sure we are meandering there.

 

And so the inability to predict where we are going.   I just sense, given the odds and the Universe's rules, that when we so randomly shake in place we end up sliding downhill, not uphill.  Especially with no civilization relief valve, which lets face it, is mostly fresh opportunity to go fuck it up somewhere else but sometimes, maybe, not.   Without same, definitely not.

 

It is more like Brownian motion, with occasional tectonic hangups releasing themselves in violent, earth shaking shifts.

 

But ours feels like an endgame of sorts.  Certainly an end game of dirt simple 2D surface geopolitical gradient/frontier.   Wherever history has been, we have seldom been -here-, standing on the edge of a vast gulf, staring out at an impenetrable sea stewing in our own technological juices; at the start of the last dark ages, before the Age of Exploration, maybe.   But not with technology that today makes borders obsolete; our Command(we can always command), Control(there is a wishful term), Communication(more optimism), Computing(Facebook for all) and Commerce(for some) all but dominates the 2D domain.    That is what is new about this latest stall at the edge of this latest vast gulf.

 

Wild vibrant frontiers in the intellectual arenas...for some increasingly isolated few.    Stalled economies for the other 7 billion.   Can intellectual economies actually exist in a vaccuum?   Even though nobody ever asked that question, the entire world is running an experiment to answer the question.

 

I believe, as my personal act of faith, that in the presence of dirt simple 2D geopolitical gradient, former intellectual frontiers had as a consequence, at least more than today, broader economic opportities.  That is because-- without planning or design-- there existed a natural gradient of needs and markets and opportunities from the center of civilization to the frontier; it was possible to 'Brownian motion' oneself from worse to better along that gradient and find a local personal maximum even when not consciously seeking it.  When you run back through the whys of a Beth Steel once emlploying 330,000 and a $100B thrown at Facebook to employ 3500, that is suggested as one, as one of the pillars of my faith.

 

Others have pondered this new boundary condition of mankind and concluded otherwise; that it is now necessary to deliberatly-- by design and intent , as a matter of Penguin armed political policy-- target stasis.

 

We(not necessarily you and I but certainly they and I) disagree on that.

 

regards,

Fred

 

  

 

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 7/13, 7:30am)



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Sunday, July 13 - 10:06amSanction this postReply
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I am not sure that planning helps. Planning your own life is imperative, but the inverse-square law makes it hard to plan the lives of other people - though, of course, the planners do try...  

FB: . ..it is clear we aren't navigating there.  I'm not even sure we are meandering there. ...But ours feels like an endgame of sorts."

 

 Austin is a liberal city and the planners believe in public transportation. So, to incentivize its use, they made one lane downtown on two main streets, "buses only."  Cars are disadvantaged.  Plus, the city runs a radio commercial where people cruising in buses laugh at people sitting in gridlock. (In case you did not get the message.)  Another plan in place is to widen the main west side freeway (1 the Mopac) and create toll lanes with a higher speed limit.  The thing is, hardly anyone here goes that fast. Being from Detroit, I found it frustrating.  Dude, if you want to travel a mere 5 mph over the limit, get in the far right lane, or maybe the shoulder.  No one is in that big a hurry here. But the planners know best...  Oh, yes, and the $1.8 billion rail line to the suburbs (which are not yet built up; the developers are waiting for the rail line... or so the planners say...).

 

What is your favorite story of mismanagement?

 

...But ours feels like an endgame of sorts."

 

I have been reading about Cahokia, the native American (Mississippian) metropolis and its many daughter cities, from 1050-1400.  That terminus 1400, was like the last wave washing back because by 1200 collapse was evident at Cohokia itself.  They built towns all over, Wisconsin to Georgia... All gone...  The other event I read about is the Bronze Age Collapse.  Hard as it was on Egypt and Sumeria, it marked the beginning of the Shang Dynasty.  You never know.

 

I do know that Objectivism is a millennarian philosophy that predicts (if not enjoys) the end of the world and the final punishment of the wicked. 



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Sunday, July 13 - 10:11amSanction this postReply
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Michael:

 

I might concur ... except that I would bet hard money - would you put up an ounce of silver against mine? - that each of us here, as well as many others on MSK's OL, and Objectivism Online, and the other boards, as well as those who do not participate - all would swear by their lives and their love of them that they are indeed living for themselves and not demanding or accepting sacrifices.

 

And yet Galt's oath as Rand wrote it indeed says 'ask' not 'demand.'

 

I think you have to put Rand writing that line-- Galt's oath -- into the context of the 'wave' she saw herself being swept up in.   UN Bill of Human Rights, etc.   A general caving in to global cultural movements even in the USA.    Mike Wallace asking her in that interview, "Are we not our Brother's Keeper?"  meaning... everyone else on the planet presenting us with a skinned knee or runny sore or statistically lacking checking account balance as their warrant on our lives?

There are no weasel words in that oath, and yet I would amend it as follows because not even Rand herself followed it in the strictest sense of what she wrote.  She may not have had children, but I do believe she loved in her way others in her life and in some way supported them willingly as part of what she herself -- selfishly-- chose to value.

 

 I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never involuntarily live for the sake of another man, nor ask demand another man to involuntarily live for mine.

 

Because we -voluntarily- enter into mutually beneficial aid relationships all the time.    It isn't the obligation that is oppressive; it is the involuntary nature of some obligations, the choice made by others on behalf of the subsidy -we- provide.

 

We need to try at least-- by advocating for it-- to redefine and defend the lost art of 'asking' even at the risk of hearing 'no' in the exchange; the possible acts of 'no' are insufficient reason, in my view, to accept the guaranteed acts of some pointing a gun at others and repealing from human interaction all acts of benevolence and charity and voluntary subsidy and replacing them with the act of demands at the point of a gun wielded by some over others.   The guns end up being pointed for ends other than actually helping a single living soul other than the crony friends of the gun wielders and some special interests carved out of the electorate to pander for continued power to do more of the same and convince themselves they are doing all the gun pointing for a good cause ... theirs.

 

The existential childish fear of those afraid others will say 'no' is insufficient warrant to place those others into slavery to the state ; that unfettering of our state does not lead to guaranteed subsidy, it leads to the sliding failure we are living-- especially, the failure to place anyone effectively into shouldering the original goals of the better angels who took this mission on; as if the 8(a) Progam was actually helping disadvantaged minorities.   The only actual result is, an empowered state, serving itself and the real estate market in Northern VA..

 

regards,

Fred



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Tuesday, July 22 - 11:20pmSanction this postReply
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I would like to replace the phrase "Who is John Galt" with "Where the Fuxor is Ed?!"



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Saturday, August 9 - 6:53pmSanction this postReply
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If you read this carefully, you will see that Devoon denies the Non-Initiation of Force principle (NOIF), which he calls the NAP: Non-Aggression Principle.

"NAP deems all possessors to be un-challengeable and exempt from legal inquiry. NAP kills compulsory production of evidence, jury duty, execution of court orders by bankers in a civil case or law enforcement officers in a criminal case. I therefore believe it is vital to conceive law as a profession practiced by some and widely supported by many freemen who choose to exercise their powers according to a constitutional legal principle — namely, that no one should be allowed to judge his own cause of action or punish another without due process of law and funda-mentally fair trial by jury." -- Constitution PDF page 73; print edition page 55.

 

For law to work, the court must have the power to initiate force, to compel the accused to answer, to compel witnesses, and to compel the production of evidence.



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Saturday, August 9 - 8:53pmSanction this postReply
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The principle involved is that just law is based upon individual rights. And that individual rights derive from man's volitional nature - he must make choices, and act on his choices. Just law is more than law built on the foundation of individual rights, more than objective law, more than the philosophy of law and more than the laws on the books - it also has to have physical places like court rooms; it has to have people like judges and bailifs and jurors; and it has to have procedures.  We have to look at it as a whole, a sum of those parts, and judge it in the context of its purpose.

 

At this point, we have to understand that there is a kind of Ocam's Razor at work where the least abusive means of implimenting those just laws (and all of the rest that is required). To talk of just laws but to conceive of them in a way that could never be implimented, never be applied, would be to entertain a floating abstraction.

 

When someone speaks of the initiation of force, they are discussing either the iniator - who is the bad actor - or they are discussing the moral principle from whence the law comes. It isn't valid to talk about compelling testimony in a criminal trial in the same way. Those who view the least abusive forms of making just laws work as "initiating force" are engaging in a fallacy - a fallacy where the concrete form of an action that is but a part of the overall pursuit of justice, is branded as a moral failure. 

 

They are saying that initiating force is bad, but they aren't providing any method for protecting against the initiation of force.  And they are saying that the existing procedures, which work better than what we have seen elsewhere and in other times is wrong.

 

When they do this, it is encumbent upon them to demonstrate a workable alternative to protecting individual rights. If they can't, then they have left the arena of rational discussion by abandoning the purpose at hand - protecting individual rights.

 

It is not seen as an initiation of force to lock up a convicted murder, and if one is to be reasonable enough to recognize that some kind of process is needed to get from the crime to the conviction, then it is not seen as an initiation of force to arrest a suspect. It is a process and the process should always be subject to that Ocam's Razor approach - "Is this the least abusive and most reasonable approach to applying the objective law so as to achieve justice in concrete cases?"

 

The alternative would be a system (or non-system) that did not have laws, or did not have just laws. We have to work from the assumption that our system (with compelled testimony and the like) is as a whole, net-net, a greater force in favor of individual rights than any other. Where we see a way to tweak the system such that it is improved, we do it.

 

Sometimes people get lost in the academic application of principles by forgetting the purpose. The purpose of government and its laws is to protect individual rights. All suggestions as to what to do or not do in the application of government force should be examined in the light of that purpose.
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I don't know why he chooses to use "NAP" instead of NIOF. "Non-Aggression Principle" isn't as precise. We can all be aggressive in a variety of ways without violating someone's individual rights, but only force, threats of force, fraud or theft can violate individual rights.



Post 13

Monday, August 11 - 7:33amSanction this postReply
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Steve,

in a 'real world' I'd have to agree with your approach to initiating force by state - the real world being based on imperfect beings, few of which are even individuals (no matter how flawed). I do want to quibble however with your 'requirement', that state and law must have the ability to initiate force based on the least possible damage done. If said state and law were held personally accountable for any error in judgement and resulting force, then I might follow you into this 'real world'. As it is however, the executive branches of state and law are not held personally accountable at all, are on the contrary personally protected by the state and law from any personal accountability (unless blatantly violating the state and law itself).

And neither state nor law will grant me as an individual recompense for wrongful initiation of force.

My point is not being eligible for restitution (material values can be replaced to a certain extent), but being eligible for justice: if I'm personally harmed by false initiation of force I should be able to seek retribution (yes - the eye-for-an-eye kind) for that harm done to me. That cannot be done by an impersonal state, law, executive, who are hiding behind roles/uniforms who cannot be made responsible for such harm.

Example: if I'm detained for 24 or 48 or whatever applicable hours (I've heard of cases where it was weeks) for questioning, as a suspect, or 'most likely to voted terrorist of the year', then I can get restitution for physical damages (maybe my clothes were ripped during the arrest), or loss of earnings/jobs (though that get's harder already if I got fired from a job that I loved), but I will not get retribution for the disgust, the shame, the fear, all the emotional and psychological damage of being incarcerated and probably being physically abused for resisting arrest (which I would most likely do - I'm claustrophobic and would go berserk), simply based on "the least abusive and most reasonable approach to applying the objective law".

State and law and their executive powers have to be held just as personally responsible as each and every individual. Of course we're not living in a world of individuals, but in a 'real world' with very few taking up individual responsibility for each and every action, so I again cede the point, that in this world it may be the 'least offensive' way to implement law. It still does not make it right, just because current implication of species HomoSaSa is not capable of any better.

 

PS: fully agreed on the NIOF - aggression in and of itself is just as misunderstood as selfishness - without aggression none of us would be individuals separating ourselves out from the others, no inventions or new ideas would be pushed for, no boundaries stretched a little further to the next frontier - I welcome aggression where it's regulated by a productive and self-responsible mind

 

(Edited by Vera S. Doerr on 8/11, 7:36am)



Post 14

Monday, August 11 - 8:46amSanction this postReply
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Vera,

 

I don't disagree with you.  You make some excellent points.  While we can't blame officials if what they are doing is honestly following reasonable laws, we must have laws that allow for accountability and for restitution - they are part of a just system.  And personal accountability is an important aspect of any system of human interaction.

 

I'm divided on this issue of the goverment having a legitimate power to compell testimony, jury duty, etc. In the post above I argued what I think is a valid point - that you can't have a structure to protect individual rights, but then set it up in a way that is guaranteed not to work.

 

That argument is like the argument that when a nation is forced to go to war because they were attacked by another nation, like Pearl Harbor, that those who are killed, including civilians in the attacking country, like Japanese women and children that died in American bombing raids, are victims of the aggressor nation - of the Japanese attackers. The argument is that the harm to innocents is a product of the origonal crime and the blame falls on the criminal.

 

In the past I've argued the compelled jury duty and testimony the other way. I've said that each act must stand on its own as either an initiation of force, or as a legitimate defense or retaliation. In that argument I said that the government has no legitimate power to compel jury duty or to compel testimony.

 

Another argument that is similar is about taxes. I don't have a problem with those tax dollars that are spent with at least a modicum of efficiency and in the area of defending individual rights. That's because I don't expect to get something for nothing, and there is a real efficiency in cost to have entire national, state, and local sets of structures being exercised daily towards this end as compared to the costs to individuals if they were to attempt to do this on an ad hoc basis - to say nothing of the quality of the product.

 

It is a flawed argument that demands that something be implemented that it isn't possible to implement.  So, it would be a flawed argument to say we have the right to our life, and that someone who murders another forefits their freedom, but that we don't have the right to arrest someone for murder when they have yet to be convicted.  If you can't implement laws that give the most reasonable, least abusive means of retaliation or defense against rights violations, then either they really aren't rights, or the arguments against the means of implementation are just floating abstractions.

 

And, I see that what is really needed is to move in the right direction. That is, to keep eliminating government powers and expenditures that don't relate to protecting individual rights and then to make those expenditures more efficient and then to find voluntary forms of support to replace the taxes.

 

In a way, that last point applies to the issue of jury duty and such. Just as the path we want is to replace taxes with voluntary funding, while staying focused on the purpose of supporting objective law based upon individual rights, we should move towards replacing compelled aspects of the law (jury duty, testimony, etc.) with voluntary procedures.... Here we would be working on a theory that the better the culture, the less likely we are going to need to compel needed testimony.

 

These arguments are the kind of things that are fun to explore, and easy to get passionate about, but I think that the only part that is truly important is that we not lose focus on the purpose: Moving towards a working legal structure with objective laws based upon individual rights.



Post 15

Monday, August 11 - 10:17amSanction this postReply
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Steve,

as I already stated above and on another thread about function of government, I'm in agreement with your way to get there and then quibble about my hurt feelings afterwards. Problem is we're not getting there. The state and the law (and especially state law) have been removed so far from individual reality, that it is indeed a flawed argument. My solution, as you already know, would be scrap it all and start over - it's faster, cheaper and more realistic to succeed ;)

 

But apart from me becoming the most famous terrorist in herstory that's not likely to happen, so let's continue quibbling :)

 

My first premise: my right to the upholding of my rights ends where the rights of another individual are infringed upon.

This would imply that there would have to be some serious and verifiable suspicion as to my innocence to allow IOF against me. That would take care of obvious cases like capital punishment for convictions by circumstantial evidence only. It would also take care of me being arrested for questioning or my premises being searched. They can ask politely if I'm willing to answer questions or let them have a look, but without concrete evidence in the first place that's all they are entitled to. No one has the right to have his rights protected if mine are demolished in the process. If that means that some crime may go unpunished, so be it - there is no right to have all one's injustices righted. Here in Germany we have the opposite problem by now: as everyone is entitled to sue for his rights we spend absurd amounts of time and money on court cases that are based on almost no evidence at all and the argued value is barely above € 2.000,- (€ 5.000,- in the higher courts).Who pays for all this lunacy?!?

That ties in to your argument about spending taxes: I think fewer people would object to them if they weren't so blatantly wasted right in front of our eyes and being told some ludicrous lies why it has to be so. If I want to sue my neighbor for cutting down that beautiful big tree in my yard because it shaded his swimming-pool and I have no evidence to start with, all I can do is give him dirty looks and maybe dump the garbage in his swimming-pool at night. I'm most certainly not entitled to 2 police-officers, an attorney of state, a defending attorney, a judge and a jury. Unless of course I'm willing to pay for that party out of my own pocket, but then a new tree would be cheaper. My brother found out there are 'tree-brokers' here in Germany who specialize in selling 30 to 50 year old trees that are still replantable - it will become a part of his business-plan for his farm :D

 

As for my other premise: both/all sides are personally accountable.

The most serious issue I see with that approach is that no one would be willing to become a judge or a lawyer or a police officer anymore :D

It would however make it much harder for them to act on suspicion alone. If their suspicion is wrong, their evidence not substantial enough, they'd be accountable for all damages done. They'd think twice (or more realistically: think at least once!) before they even touch my body, not to mention strip-search it - they wouldn't like it if I returned the favor :[

On the other side it would prove a much harsher determent if each individual would be fully accountable for her actions. If I sink your boat tomorrow and possibly drown you in the process, your heirs would not only be entitled to take my boat (once I get around to look at the one in Falmouth), they'd also be entitled to drown me if they so desire to quench their own pain. Please don't get me wrong - I'm no biblical eye-for-an-eye kind of a religionist nut - but I think that would serve as far better determent from crime than negotiating fines or jail-time with some high-paid lawyers and ignorant juries who fall for the greatest sob-story. Plus no one has to pay for my lazy butt lying in a state-home fed for free for life.

And just an aside - I've discussed this with Jules already on SOLO: there is absolutely no excuse for this fairy-tale called jury-duty. Neither are they any peers of mine, nor can anyone force me to waste my time and money and intelligence on some stupid trial. Not to mention that most juries have very little idea of what they are doing or what laws they are upholding in that process.

 

So while I couldn't agree more with:

... to keep eliminating government powers and expenditures that don't relate to protecting individual rights and then to make those expenditures more efficient and then to find voluntary forms of support to replace the taxes.

... replacing compelled aspects of the law (jury duty, testimony, etc.) with voluntary procedures....

I don't think we'll succeed with:

Moving towards a working legal structure with objective laws based upon individual rights.

First we need the individuals who recognize and uphold such individual rights - then we can think how to implement those in objective laws. Giving our current masses such objective laws would be the proverbial pearls before swine. They'd probably try to eat them, so maybe we should teach each individual first what an objective law is before they sue us for indigestion :D



Post 16

Monday, August 11 - 10:26amSanction this postReply
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HAAAAHHHH!!!

just found this little piece of news: http://www.pnp.de/nachrichten/bayern/1393149_Wegen-Ueberlastung-der-Justiz-frei-Vergewaltiger-ins-Ausland-abgesetzt.html

sorry about the German - couldn't find an English version on the fly ...

the gist of the story: a man was accused of rape, assault and abduction - he spent a year in jail and could not get a court date as the Bavarian court was too busy with other nonsense cases - so the Federal Constitutional court ruled that he has to be set free until he can be brought before a court - now he's AWOL probably fled abroad

not only could they hold him for a year without a trial or a conviction, the court had to let him go because they were overworked ... sheesh - when I read stories like that I do feel awfully tempted to follow in Ragnar's footsteps ...



Post 17

Monday, August 11 - 2:21pmSanction this postReply
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Vera,

Problem is we're not getting there. The state and the law (and especially state law) have been removed so far from individual reality, that it is indeed a flawed argument. My solution, as you already know, would be scrap it all and start over - it's faster, cheaper and more realistic to succeed ;)

 

The two main political intellectual forces are visibly at work... The progressives and the libertarians.  And both seem to be gaining strength in numbers and influence, but right now it is clearly the progressives that are winning in the lawmaking arena, and in the teaching in colleges and universities, and in control of the media.

 

As to going 'step by step', versus "scrap it all and start over" - I'm okay with whichever is more likely to work. But I don't think either will win out unless there is a major catastrophe and people focus on a return to pre-progressive times which seems unlikely, or the educational system is rescued (which there is no sign of at this time) and a few generations go by.

 

Right now, as I watch the political struggle going on I feel like I'm watching a card game where everyone -players and spectators - are coming to see that the progressives are cheating.  Yet, no one is doing anything about it but whine.  It is as if they were permitted to cheat, "Oh well, that's what they do.  What can you do about it?"  And it is as if whining was an effective remedy.  It is as if it were foreordained and unstoppable that they win.  It is a kind of flaccidity of will.  A paralysis of hope.  It is like the 'good guys' don't believe in themselves or that they have a right to their rights.  I wonder if the barbarian hordes overran the Roman Empire because the Romans lost their will to survive.



Post 18

Monday, August 11 - 5:26pmSanction this postReply
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Steve - rather than expecting the Great Flood to Punish the Wicked or the Second Coming of Galt, I think that the eventual outcome for the second century will be new social forms, many of them libertarian, among new settlers in new places: outer space, the Antarctic, the Canadian Northwest, Siberia, the Sahara, the Outback, the seashelves.  We are not going to see the United States of America collapse and then come back as a libertarian utopia. By analogy, 17th-century Europe did not collapse - even though the Thirty Years' War killed 25% of the people in Germany - but Europe colonized America.

 

People are only bound by a law that is stronger than they are.  Look at the Crime Clearance Rates (FBI here). In small town America, 50,000 to 100,000 population crime clearance rates are the worst. Anyone who wants to commit a crime is likely to get away with it.  Another coin dealer was shot and killed in his shop, this time in Monroe, Lousiana, by three men who entered firing, on May 1 of this year. The crime is still unsolved.  Socialize policing is no more effective than socialized steel production. Criminal gangs do not fear the law; that is why they are criminal gangs in the first place. 

 

It is not that evey police agency must subscribe to the same code of law, but that they must all be in and of the same culture of law.  The Uniform Commercial Code was created by a self-appointed committee of jurists.  But it was within a social context of business law that accepted basic tenets of property and property rights.  

 

Busisnesses are not criminal gangs.  So, they adhere to the law.  

 

How long would a Galt's Gulch survive as a community if every member considered themselves "sovereign citizens"?  Who could be sued?  Who could be arrested?  Who could be compelled to appear in court as a witness?  Then, think of the libertarians and objectivists you know from sites such as this.  How many people relegated to Dissent on this forum mended their ways and rejoined the community?

 


Post 19

Monday, August 11 - 6:26pmSanction this postReply
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Steve - rather than expecting the Great Flood to Punish the Wicked or the Second Coming of Galt....

Marotta, what are you talking about? I don't even know how to interpret that nonsense. I've been an atheist since I was 14 years old, so it makes no sense to align my thoughts with scripture - which is what your chose of images does.

 

When I mentioned a major catastrophe, I had in mind an economic collapse of some sort that is a magnitude greater than we have seen in living memory. The context of my thinking was that people will not break out of the existing Overton Window to any great degree UNLESS there is a major crisis.  At that point they would be open to radical solutions... although there is no assurance that they would accept Objectivist solutions over some radical statist 'solution.'

 

Your reference to getting progressivism's propanda out of our educational system as "the second Coming of Galt" manages to trivialize the problems with generations of people who know next to nothing about Capitalism or Socialism which is directly traceable to the educational system.

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We are not going to see the United States of America collapse and then come back as a libertarian utopia.

We have seen a decline in the USA, and it is reasonable to see the possibility of an economic collapse - I don't imagine you are disputing that.  And unless you believe that people can't learn, or can't choose, then it is also reasonable to imagine that the USA might come back via an adoption of libertarian ideas.

 

To me, that is more realistic than seeing us run off and create libertarian outposts in outer space, Siberia, the Sahara or other places that require technological advances, capital, the desire to move there despite the hardships and risks, and that it will be done under libertarian auspices.  I'm not saying that there might not be new colonies sprout up that are libertarian, and that break-throughs in technology might not be a spur to such things, but it is asking for a farther stretch of imagination than to imagine America reclaiming its view that government be instituted for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights.

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You make law sound like it is immaterial if it doesn't jibe with culture. As if the law doesn't really have an effect and it is the culture that is the sole determinante of behavior. The two sprout from common ground. Both the law and the culture are products of the societies dominate beliefs and those beliefs are chosen based to a large degree on what people acquire in the educational system (and from the media, and from the entertainment industry). But you dismissed my observation that improvements in the educational system could be effective.

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Then, think of the libertarians and objectivists you know from sites such as this. How many people relegated to Dissent on this forum mended their ways and rejoined the community?

You are mixing things up. Dissent isn't about rehabilitation. It is about protecting the rest of the ROR environment from inappropriate postings. The measure of success of the relegation to dissent is in the success of keeping those posts out of the rest of the web site. I suspect that you need to check whatever premises once led you to anarchism and see if some of them aren't still at work in you.



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