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Sunday, October 7, 2007 - 8:56pmSanction this postReply
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From ARI Watch:
 
"The Effect"
 
Every now and then you meet someone who claims that Ayn Rand’s philosophy is the philosophy of fascism, that in practice it eventually would lead to Hitler. Arguing with such people is difficult now that the “Ayn Rand Institute” has become the official representative of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. According to ARI her philosophy means violating individual rights while uttering patriotic bromides, placing halos above the heads of bold fearless leaders, reveling in war, torturing perceived enemies of the state – the whole playbook of fascism. That is what ARI says, not very consistently.
 
But of course Ayn Rand’s philosophy means none of these things. The coil of verbiage thrown out by the Ayn Rand Institute to ensnare the young and ignorant no more represents Ayn Rand’s philosophy than a con man’s spiel is an honest business proposition.
 
What a disgusting spectacle the official Objectivists make, now, when we need real insight the most.
Ayn Rand’s lifework and savings pay for the humbug generated by ARI, and for its advertisement. Leonard Peikoff, the man behind ARI and the executor of her estate, recently issued a new paperback printing of Atlas Shrugged to celebrate its semi-centennial. Printed on the back cover you find ARI’s website address. Bound among its pages is a  request-for-information  card which on mailing gets you an advertisement for Impact newsletter. People will read this literature expecting to find Ayn Rand’s ideas applied to current events, and instead find a grotesque caricature of her ideas, like biting into a mock apple pie and gagging on a mouthful of sawdust.
 
Decent people will respond: “If this is what Ayn Rand’s philosophy means, I want nothing to do with it !” ARI hinders the spread of Ayn Rand’s philosophy more than all her forthright enemies combined.
ARI is like Janus of legend, the man with two faces: a face on the front of his head and, hideous to imagine, a face symmetrically opposite on the back. One face of this monster works its jaws praising the pursuit of happiness and the virtue of benevolent self-interest. Then he turns around and presents to you his hind face. Just as animated as the first, this face praises dying for “freedom” everywhere on earth, and remains silent about the systematic destruction of authentic freedom here at home. This twofaced monster bumbles about showing each of its faces in turn, promoting inalienable human rights, honesty, and Ancient Greece with one face – and the expedient violation of human rights, the noble lie, and torture with the other.
 
The raft of contradictions is the last insult to the idea of ideas. Crate this monster and label it “To be sent to the zoo, Ash bin of History section.”
 
Ayn Rand once observed that her philosophy is its own avenger. The intellectual vandals at ARI won’t get away with aping her language while corrupting her ideas. The sincere and intelligent in their audience will be repelled once they see the true colors of ARI.
 
ARI must be fought continually, though, because Leonard Peikoff continually finances it from Ayn Rand’s estate. Each time someone buys a book by Ayn Rand part of the purchase price eventually goes to ARI, and every time someone looks at a paperback edition they see what appears to be Ayn Rand’s endorsement of ARI on the cover. When Ayn Rand chose Mr. Peikoff as her heir she ended up posthumously financing the perversion of her own philosophy. But again, there is good reason to believe that her real philosophy will win in the end. When a man says A is A and acts like Up is Down, most people won’t conclude A is not A, they will conclude the man is a hypocrite.
 
http://ariwatch.com/TheEffect.htm




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Post 1

Monday, October 8, 2007 - 6:49amSanction this postReply
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People,

This is crap.  While there are disagreements among scholars, serious and casual students, as well as laymen alike, ARI is far far far away from anything pretending to be "fascist."

 This is an ugly ugly smear, and an outrageous lie.  I'm no fan of ARI, but I won't stand by and pretend any of the statements made above have any merit at all. They don't. It's BS, plain and simple.  Remember, claims aren't proof of anything, and it wouldn't take long for anyone to discover that. 

If ARI strives to be anything, it's to be a consistent closed loop of ideas and ideals, none of which would result in fascism.  Taken to it's end, ARI would result in something similar to a high tech Amish community, where dissenters would be shunned, not executed.  

Shame on you, Monart.  You should be banned from this site for this outrage.




Post 2

Monday, October 8, 2007 - 7:25amSanction this postReply
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I've heard quite enough of Monart's non-sense. It rarely contains an argument, and he has shown himself to be completely closed-minded to any evidence that refutes and of his beliefs.

E.




Post 3

Monday, October 8, 2007 - 9:31amSanction this postReply
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Monart should have given the author of this article as Jack Wakefield. I agree with Teresa's characterization of ARI. If you don't like the conformist aspects of ARI, don't drink the Kool Aid. Also, while I disagree with ARI's foreign policy, it has nothing to do with fascism. It's more like Douglas MacArthur.

I can imagine that people turned out of an Amish community after spending their lives there might be bitter.This appears to be the case here.

Jim




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Post 4

Monday, October 8, 2007 - 12:25pmSanction this postReply
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While not a supporter of ARI it would be difficult to find enough time to point out all the factual errors and contradictions of even that short criticism.

ARI hardly "remains silent about the systematic destruction of authentic freedom here at home." On the contrary, it publishes editorials regularly criticizing Sarbanes-Oxley, anti-smoking regulations, food control legislation, universal health care, and on and on.

And as far as praising "dying for 'freedom' everywhere on earth", ARI has consistently and repeatedly published editorials opposing wars it regards as altruistic. (I disagree with their position, but that's beside the point here.)

It would be difficult, and hardly worth the effort, to find anything about that screed that is accurate, fair, or objective, i.e. in any way worthwhile.


(Edited by Jeff Perren on 10/08, 12:26pm)




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Post 5

Monday, October 8, 2007 - 4:09pmSanction this postReply
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Monart and I have disagreed completely in the past about conspiratorialism. Let me go on record to add this topic to the list of the things about which we completely disagree.

For all my disputes with ARI over the years (which are no secret), this attack on the group is way, way, WAY over the top. It's an unfair, unjust, and wildly disproportionate assault on an organization which, for all its flaws, does a lot of fine things -- foremost among them, introducing countless young people to Ayn Rand's novels.

The devotion of ARI's staff and members to Ayn Rand's philosophy should be beyond any dispute, however much anyone disagrees with their occasional interpretation or practice of Rand's ideas.





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Post 6

Monday, October 8, 2007 - 4:31pmSanction this postReply
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I've learned on the Objectivist Living site that Monart may not be the original author of this smear. But regardless of who wrote it, I take strong exception to his circulating it.

Calling ARI fascist is, epistemologically and morally, equivalent to calling U.S. government officials the slaughterers of the 3,000 9/11 victims. That the same person can endorse both views suggest something very wrong with his ability or willingness to apply Rand's principles of judgment to real-world issues.



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Post 7

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 - 1:17pmSanction this postReply
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“According to ARI her philosophy means violating individual rights while uttering patriotic bromides, placing halos above the heads of bold fearless leaders, reveling in war, torturing perceived enemies of the state – the whole playbook of fascism…..this face praises dying for “freedom” everywhere on earth, and remains silent about the systematic destruction of authentic freedom here at home…”

Here is just a sampling of some editorial commentary from ARI, demonstrating that the exact opposite is true: ARI is doing a brilliant job of showing how Objectivist ethical and political principles apply to foreign policy and the war on terror.

 
What We Owe Our Soldiers by Alex Epstein
 
"What we owe these men who fight so bravely for their and our freedom is to send them to war only when that freedom is truly threatened, and to make every effort to protect their lives during war—by providing them with the most advantageous weapons, training, strategy, and tactics possible.
"In addition to being sent on ill-conceived, “humanitarian” missions, our soldiers have been compromised with crippling rules of engagement that place the lives of civilians in enemy territory above their own. In Afghanistan we refused to bomb many top leaders out of their hideouts for fear of civilian casualties; these men continue to kill American soldiers. In Iraq, our hamstrung soldiers are not allowed to smash a militarily puny insurgency—and instead must suffer an endless series of deaths by an undefeated enemy."
 
Bush’s Betrayal of America: The Iraqi Elections by Elan Journo
 
"That a theocracy may rise to power in Iraq appears to be totally compatible with the President's conception of "freedom." As he told Fox News in October, if Iraq votes in a fundamentalist government, he would "be disappointed. But democracy is democracy. . . If that's what the people choose, that's what the people choose."  This certainly is democracy--in its literal sense of unlimited majority rule. But it is not freedom.  Political freedom does not mean the expression of a collective will, nor the granting of power to one pressure group to exploit others. It means the protection of an individual from the initiation of physical force by others."
 
America’s Compassion in Iraq is Self-Destructive by Elan Journo & Yaron Brook
 
"The Bush Administration’s war in Iraq embraces compassion instead of the rational goal of self-defense. Such an immoral approach to war wantonly sacrifices the lives of soldiers and emboldens our enemies throughout the Middle East to mount further attacks against us."
 
Clearing the Way for Real Airport Security by Robert Tracinski (no longer associated with ARI)
 

"How has air transportation changed since September 11? There is only one discernable difference: long lines in which ordinary citizens are subjected to humiliating searches and unnecessary delays. Manpower is wasted searching people who are obviously not terrorists—including the 87-year-old grandmothers—and confiscating innocuous items like nail-clippers….There is only one measure that would be decisive in protecting the nation’s passenger jets from a repeat of September 11: allowing airline pilots to arm themselves. This is the measure that [the Transportation Security Administration] decisively blocked."

Why We Are Losing Hearts and Minds by Keith Lockitch

 

"Have our leaders asserted that they will use America’s formidable military to secure our way of life by whatever means necessary? No. Lacking the moral confidence to defeat our enemies, they have instead squandered our military resources and sacrificed our brave soldiers in a futile quest to spread “democracy” around the globe—as though bringing the vote to Muslim mobs sympathetic to Islamic totalitarianism will somehow end the terrorist threat."

No Conflict Between Liberty and Security by Alex Epstein

"The persistence of the terrorist danger is a result of our government’s failure to act on the evidence it already has. We know that terrorists are the agents of certain militant Islamic organizations—such as Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas—which use terrorism as a tactic to destroy the non-Islamic West. And we know that these groups function only through the assistance of certain nations, such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Yet Washington takes no military action against those governments, and even cravenly hails some of them as “allies” in the war on terrorism. It is our government’s continuing appeasement of these enemies—not its failure to track our every movement or to monitor our every conversation—that is jeopardizing our security.

"Why do our leaders continue to coddle those who create the terrorist threat, while proposing to protect us by treating all people as equal suspects in a massive game of terrorist Clue? Not because they believe that this policy will work—these same people are declaring that future terrorist assaults are inevitable—but because they dread the negative “world opinion” that would follow if we named and attacked our Islamic enemies. Our leaders find it easier to debate how much to sacrifice the liberty they are charged with defending than to take the principled action necessary to secure it."

 

ARI stands alone as the Objectivist institution which has had the moral self-confidence to demonstrate vividly and brilliantly how the principle of ethical egoism is the philosophical answer to Islamic Terrorism. 





 

 

 




Post 8

Sunday, October 14, 2007 - 3:40pmSanction this postReply
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From the front page cover article on Yaron Brook carried by the Orange County Register on Wednesday, October 10th, 2007, on page 4, a quote from Yaron:

"If, once all the facts are rationally evaluated, it is found that directly bombing civilian populations or torturing POWs will save American lives, then it is moral - morally mandatory - to do so."

I would substitute "innocent" lives, in as much as I don't think of myself primarily as an "American," but rather as a human being.  Of course, the assumption here is that somehow the very U.S. state which takes a third of my earnings by force and reduces the remainder by a factor of ten or so by its arbitrary, subjectivist, altruist laws is acting as my agent and protector.

And, of course, there are many, many other caveats that one could include simply on the basis of more clearly and precisely communicating to the reader.  You can say something that is absolutely correct and true, within the context of your understanding, but if you don't take into account the different context that others who may by the majority of your audience are employing, then for certain you can come off sounding like a brutal, evil person, which is dumb, if your purpose is communication.




Post 9

Sunday, October 14, 2007 - 6:02pmSanction this postReply
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Just got this in my mail..... seems to go here....
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/raimondo1.html




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Post 10

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 3:16amSanction this postReply
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I wonder wether Monart can support his wild allegatations with one single fact?



Post 11

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 10:22amSanction this postReply
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"If, once all the facts are rationally evaluated, it is found that directly bombing civilian populations or torturing POWs will save American lives, then it is moral - morally mandatory - to do so." -- Yaron Brook, Orange Counter Register.

Hmm.

If, once all the facts are evaluated, it is found that performing medical experiments on unwilling subjects will save American lives. Is it morally mandatory to do so? Or is it wrong for the government to sacrifice some people to the interests of others?

- Bill



Post 12

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 3:40pmSanction this postReply
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Or is it wrong for the government to sacrifice some people to the interests of others?

According to the government it isn't......




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Post 13

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 4:50pmSanction this postReply
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Bill, normally I think your posts here are dead on. But your post 11 I think is a case of context-dropping.

You can't compare the case of our government experimenting on unwilling individuals for the benefit of others with that of our government bombing civilian population centers in a foreign nation whose government has attacked Americans (given proof that doing so would save American lives). That's because individuals who live under a dictatorship that attacks the citizens of another country aren't innocent people. As AR said, they're accomplices.

The only innocent people living under a dictatorship are those actively rebelling against the system, in jail or underground. You can't be a normally functioning adult who lives under a dictatorship, particularly one that censors anti-government communications and executes political dissidents, and rationally be considered an innocent person.



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Post 14

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 5:59pmSanction this postReply
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Jon, I do not agree with what you wrote in post 13.

 

Not only do I think it’s possible for a person to live as a basically innocent person within a dictatorship, but I think it’s the norm, not the exception. An ignorant peasant born and raised in some mud-hut has little knowledge of anything other than suffering and the rule of the strongest. And a mother with a new born baby may find it hard to spend all day tilling a rice field, and still make that night’s secret meeting of the “democratic revolutionary council”. Of course those that do resist or take up arms are courageous, and they should be honored for that, but not all men are made of the same metal.

 

With the exception of those civilians that purposefully aid the dictatorship with the conscious aim of helping them maintain power, most of the people living in a dictatorship are victims, not accomplices. 

 

Now that I said that, please don’t mistake me for being one of those “useful idiots” that have become so fashionable lately.  

 

Obviously the bombing of military targets and production centers will almost always cause civilian deaths. But in the context of a war between a free nation and a dictatorship, the bombing that causes unintentional civilian deaths (collateral damage) is the sole responsibility of the dictatorship: not the free nations that are at war with them. It is their sole responsibility, not because all the civilians are so-called “accomplices”, but because it is the dicatorships actions, or the danger it poses, that caused the civilians to be put in harms way in the first place.  

 

And that's my 3-cents!

 

K

(Edited by Karyn Daniels on 10/28, 7:25pm)




Post 15

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 6:09pmSanction this postReply
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Jon, you wrote,
You can't compare the case of our government experimenting on unwilling individuals for the benefit of others with that of our government bombing civilian population centers in a foreign nation whose government has attacked Americans (given proof that doing so would save American lives). That's because individuals who live under a dictatorship that attacks the citizens of another country aren't innocent people. As AR said, they're accomplices.
Really?! Merely living under a dictatorship and being subjected to its tyranny makes you an accomplice??
The only innocent people living under a dictatorship are those actively rebelling against the system, in jail or underground. You can't be a normally functioning adult who lives under a dictatorship, particularly one that censors anti-government communications and executes political dissidents, and rationally be considered an innocent person.
I don't follow this line of reasoning. What if you don't have the power to actively and successfully rebel and that to attempt it would only place you at undue risk with no real hope of success? Many of the people living under a dictatorship are in precisely this position. I don't understand how they can they be considered its accomplices, when they're its unwilling victims?

- Bill




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Post 16

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 7:08pmSanction this postReply
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There are three types of individuals living under a dictatorship:

1) Those who actively participate in a totalitarian government and willingly help the promulgation of its existence.

2) Those who actively try to topple a totalitarian government.

3) Those who choose not to topple a totalitarian government out of fear of death but would want to see it destroyed.

Now the question is, when a free nation is attacked by a totalitarian government, what is the appropriate response and what is the guiding principle a free nation should adopt when waging a war? The free nation's government should always give the highest priority of safety to their own citizens.

The individuals who comprise of number 1) are guilty of aggression, so no one should shed any tears for their destruction. They deserve nothing more than death.

Individuals who fit number 2) would welcome any outside assistance they could receive. A free nation should do what it reasonably can to avoid the deaths of these individuals but not at the expense of the free nation's own citizens because the alternative is to sacrifice your own citizens for the safety of another nation's citizens. If anyone can demonstrate why a free nation's citizen should be sacrificial lambs to an aggressive foreign nation's citizens I would love to hear the argument why. So once again, a free nation's government highest priority is the safety of their own citizens with the individuals who fit 2) as the second highest priority.

Likewise individuals who fit number 3) would or at least should welcome the toppling of their own oppressive government. A free nation should do what it reasonably can to avoid the deaths of these individuals but never at the expense of the free nation's own citizens for the same above reasons. These individuals are the third highest priority.

However any deaths that arise from such a conflict, all of them, fall squarely on the shoulders of the aggressor not the defender. The aggressor started the war which forces a free nation to retaliate.

People act like a free nation has any choice in the matter. If innocent people in an aggressor's nation are killed, who's fault do people think it is?

Let's take an example of this on the micro level.

Someone has taken people hostage in an office building. Police arrive on the scene and try to diffuse the situation and capture the hostage taker. What can the police do? Obviously they should do everything they reasonably can to avoid the deaths of the hostages. But they should never expect to be a sacrificial lamb to the hostages. So while taking every reasonable precaution, a fraction of the hostages are killed in a police raid, who's fault is it? The police? Absolutely not, they had to respond to a clear threat to the public. Not capturing the hostage taker will result in more, not less, incidences of hostage taking. Any deaths that arise from this hostage situation are squarely the fault of the hostage taker, who forced other individuals around them to react to their own rational self-interest of self-preservation.

Let's take that example further, the hostage taker is now shooting out the window at passersby. Would anyone rationally expect passersby and the police to sit idly by, and await their own deaths so as to avoid the possible deaths of the hostages?

This is of course always been a difficult moral circumstance and the choices are never easy to make. But one can't absolve oneself from making a decision, and when doing so one must prioritize the safety of the individuals in question, because if one does not do this, one will have defaulted in favor of the aggressor.



Post 17

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply
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Karyn and Bill, thanks for your responses.

Are either of you familiar with what Ayn Rand said on this issue? If not, I recommend looking it up in "Ayn Rand Answers". For example, talks about how most citizens in former Soviet Russia are NOT innocent because their intellectual passivity and evasion are what allowed the Communists to maintain their tyrannical rule. I won't type all of her relevant statements out here, but she explains her position well.






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Post 18

Monday, October 29, 2007 - 6:29amSanction this postReply
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I think the problem is that sometimes ARI calls for the intentional bombing of civilians, not just collateral damage.  I agree with the fact that purely civilian targets should not be bombed, except when being used as shields for legitimate targets, in which case it is the governments fault for deliberately endangering its own citizens.

The torture issue varies - first by definition - physical pain?  what about other procedures like sleep deprivation?  There is a spectrum there, and the more barbaric tortures are also ineffective.  I think that the guilty terrorists deserve little if no consideration here, and as long as reasonable techniques are used against those who are guilty - no problem.  The untold story of Guantanamo is how much valuable information we got from the terrorists there.




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Post 19

Monday, October 29, 2007 - 6:57amSanction this postReply
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Jon, yes, I am somewhat familiar with what she said on this issue. Rand was a great novelist and an innovative philosopher. And like most brilliant people, Rand, too, was often very insightful in areas outside of her primary area of expertise.  However she would sometimes comment on subjects that she really had no specialized knowledge of, or that simply reflected her off-hand personal opinions. And that's OK, we all do that. But I believe that this is a case where she may have made a highly over-generalized psychological evaluation. Just imagine a somewhat less brilliant Rand that was unable to leave the Soviet Union, say she was a mother of 3 and made her living as a kindergarten teacher. Would this Ayn Rand be an accomplice of the Soviet State?  Sorry, but I place her views on this subject alongside her views on Beethoven and gays.

K

(Edited by Karyn Daniels on 10/29, 11:40am)




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