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Post 20

Saturday, June 26 - 10:44amSanction this postReply
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Steve said:
The faculty of our universities are parasites that have crawled inside of the mechanism whose purpose is to gather and pass on the knowledge ...
My wife is not a parasite; I'm not a parasite.  This is one of your more irrational and insulting screeds.  In fact, I consider it so insulting that if you don't delete the offending post, I'm leaving.  I don't care what you motivation is.  No debate.




Post 21

Saturday, June 26 - 11:19amSanction this postReply
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Glenn, I doubt that he means everybody.

It's as if I said "The press and media have a liberal bias". True statement, but I obviously don't mean to include the Orange County Register, the WSJ, or Fox News.

And I expect people to insert the context, to understand the intended extent of the generalization.

(I'm not big on people having to apologize when they clearly didn't intend something to be offensive. It's sort of like that PC thing where you worded something in a way that inadvertently offended women or offends Israel and now your name is mud.)


(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/26, 11:27am)




Post 22

Saturday, June 26 - 12:12pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn,

My apologies to you and to your wife. As Phil said, I most certainly did NOT mean to include all faculty. If it is still possible, I'll edit the post accordingly. But I would find it strange if you did not agree that it does apply to a significant percentage of academics.

---- There, the edits have been applied. I'm surprised that you were not able to judge, as Phil said, from the context that I had not intended to include all professors.
(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 6/26, 12:26pm)




Post 23

Saturday, June 26 - 3:50pmSanction this postReply
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The Plight of the Objectivist Egghead, Part 7

(On another board, a poster said that the mentor-disciple relationship has been a key problem at ARI and TAS. There is a wider topic which this is only a part of.)

What is one of the most important issues for ideas that want to change the world, of a movement of writers, editors, publishers, thinkers who think those ideas are important and want to advance them?

What is one thing this formal or informal group of people would want to see happen and might want to take steps to make happen?

What did the conservatives do very successfully from the 50's on which has helped them grow from just National Review to a whole host of magazines, book writers, college professors, nationally syndicated columnists, and a politically successful movement to the extent that 42% of the population identifies itself as conservative, while only 20% identifies itself as liberal?

[This is from the most recent Gallup poll. The point it that almost no one was a conservative in today's sense in 1955 when Bill Buckley started his magazine.]

In what way does the mentor-disciple relationship have anything to do with it?

Answer: How do you develop people? Is it effective? What kinds of people?

(to be continued)




(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/26, 3:51pm)



(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/27, 8:00am)




Post 24

Saturday, June 26 - 4:47pmSanction this postReply
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Much, I think, stems from what field you speak... politics seem to function in a cadre structuring, Young Americans for Freedom for instance, which tended to focus the political objectives more readily... as an artist, that becomes more difficult, as there amounts to a cult around the central figure[s] involved, and in the case of individualists, an almost inherent contradiction in terms regarding mentoring... in some respects, for myself, there has been successes in that have a number of others who have come to agree in the importance of theming in art, as well as seeking the grandeur views of the worlds in which to visualize these themes - even at the same time not seem to have personally the intestinal fortitude to seeking them out themselves for themselves - they see The Romancing of the Stones, but they prefer reading about it than become involved in acquiring for themselves... and I not have quite the jaundiced view to being a Svengali before it becomes simply a moot point... still, lights do shine down the roads, and who knows what influences they ultimately end up having...



Post 25

Sunday, June 27 - 9:34amSanction this postReply
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> I am not sure by what standards Reisman, etc. measure their successes or failures...After all, if they have achieved what they want, then what Phil wants will mean squat to them [Post #19]

Luke, I find it hard to believe that George Reisman would not want to be invited to speak at all the Ivy League colleges, to be lauded by Time and Newsweek as one of the great economists, to have his book constantly talked about across the academy and to be footnoted in many journal articles.



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Post 26

Sunday, June 27 - 11:00amSanction this postReply
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I do not know Reisman well enough to comment. Nor do I know whether Phil's suggestions would have helped or hindered Reisman's book. However, I do want to observe -- as an aside -- that the organizational psychology work of Dr. Edwin Locke of the ARI has garnered some of that kind of attention. When I took a graduate level course in organizational behavior back in 2007, our teacher and textbook author (Dr. Henry Tosi) made many references in his text to Locke's work. That is the kind of success of which I would like to see more.

I also want to mention that I attended a lecture by Locke on "Postmodernism versus Religion versus Objectivism" back in 2003 at University of Florida. The Ayn Rand Club there did an excellent job of promotion. Locke lectured to a packed auditorium of hundreds.

One other observation: I find ludicrous and presumptuous Phil's implication that suggestions for improvement from himself and others would have gotten Reisman "invited to speak at all the Ivy League colleges, ... lauded by Time and Newsweek as one of the great economists, ... constantly talked about across the academy and ... footnoted in many journal articles." Is this not hubris on Phil's part? Is it not just possible that those institutions are simply not ready to accept any argument for laissez-faire capitalism?

I might take Phil's criticisms more seriously if he had a long and proven track record of publications himself that he could show us.

If you have one, Phil, now is the time to show it.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 6/27, 11:07am)




Post 27

Sunday, June 27 - 7:44pmSanction this postReply
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Subject: Luke lowers the tone of discussion by playing the "ludicrous" and "presumptuous" card

> I find ludicrous and presumptuous Phil's implication that suggestions for improvement from himself and others would have gotten Reisman "invited to speak at all the Ivy League colleges, ... lauded by Time and Newsweek as one of the great economists, ... constantly talked about across the academy and ... footnoted in many journal articles." [Luke]

That was not my claim, Luke. I was responding to your idea that one can't judge if people are already feeling they've achieved all the success they want by giving you some vivid examples of possible kinds of success -any- intellectual would give his eyeteeth for.

I chose dramatic examples to show that your 'agnosticism' about whether or not one would want more success was false.

If you read my post, I clearly wasn't making a claim that merely dividing a book in three parts or the equivalent would surely cause them.

(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/27, 8:12pm)




Post 28

Sunday, June 27 - 8:02pmSanction this postReply
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"Often, very often, he turns people off on Objectivism rather than making them want to consider it more closely as soon as he opens his mouth or puts fingers to keyboard."-Philip

Could you explain this, what exactly does he do to alienate them?



Post 29

Monday, June 28 - 2:20amSanction this postReply
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Abraham Lincoln prob sounded better - and he sounded awful, according to contemporaries...



Post 30

Monday, June 28 - 5:24amSanction this postReply
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My point, Phil, is that a person can work "reasonably" hard and expect "reasonable" success assuming he applies "reason" to the process. That said, a person can also work really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard with only "marginal" improvements to that success. I am sure Reisman has plenty on his plate already without having to fret over how many accolades he can expect.

I just doubt that he would have earned the ones you suggested no matter how really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard he worked.

Some goals just fall outside the bounds of reality. For example, you could say that I would love to become a world champion bodybuilder. Forget it. Never gonna happen. I lack the right genes and I have a different profession. This does not mean I cannot get and remain fit. It does mean that no matter how really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard I work, I will never get there. So why bother?

Likewise, I am a "decent" engineer but not a "great" engineer. I could work eally, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard and become a "very good" engineer for only marginal additional tangible benefits. In fact, the costs would outweigh the benefits. So why bother? This is just basic Economics 101 thinking here.

My goal in posting is not to "lower" the discussion. I simply want to observe that one can have hubris in criticizing others about their hubris. The only change I might have made in my earlier post would replace "would" with "might" which your critique of Reisman followed by the fantasy Reisman scenario most certainly suggested.

By the way, where is that list of your successfully published and lauded works?

I tend to take the words of published author Susan Page more seriously in her book The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 6/28, 5:27am)




Post 31

Monday, June 28 - 7:07amSanction this postReply
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Ah yes, published... do you consider paintings like books? and if not so much bought as recognised and discussed - influencing perhaps how others see things - as a measuring of success? or must the manuscript itself be to the printer, the one detailing the ideas behind the arts done, and the one showing numbers of examples, and how to go about achieving them?



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Post 32

Monday, June 28 - 7:28amSanction this postReply
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Publishing is one way to earn recognition, discussion, and acceptance. Word of mouth is another. My point is that I would much more readily accept advice on "how to get published, discussed, and accepted" from someone "successful" at the task than I would from someone who only "talks" about the task.

Likewise, I more readily accept fitness advice from fit people than I do from fat people -- especially those who made and sustained the transition from fat to fit.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 6/28, 7:29am)




Post 33

Tuesday, June 29 - 6:42amSanction this postReply
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The Plight of the Objectivist Egghead, Part 8

Whenever you have a difficult, controversial, complex package of new ideas, an ideology or a philosophy which is largely viewed with different degrees of bafflement, disinterest, or outright hostility, it's going to be an uphill battle. Therefore - especially in a time of intellectual competition and lots of distractions - there are several things that have to happen if it is to take root, grow, and triumph.

Rather than be laughed at, wither, and (ultimately) decline into death or at least relative insignificance.

The two spheres where success is needed are external and internal. Externally, it has to be explained and applied repeatedly with energy, clarity, eloquence, and in a way that is appealing. But before that can happen, which takes many hands and well-developed minds, there has to be an internal step. One which is designed to develop a large enough group of intellectuals and a skilled enough group. There has to be internal education and growth and development.

In Objectivism, the first ten years were promising. The Objectivist Newsletter published excellent essays - a strong mix of the theoretical and cultural commentary - and its subscribership grew almost exponentially. NBI grew every year. It started as a telephone booth size group of students and grew to tens of thousands in a hundred cities.

But then a whole host of mistakes were made, crippling and slowing growth of that vital 'internal' group of those who actually understood and could apply and therefore were enthusiastically active and committed.

A movement whose concerns shift to internal warfare based on personal allegiances is crippled. People then lose focus on ideas because of concerns about loyalty and who did what to whom. You can normally either write and think effectively about ideas or about personalities and internal enemies, seldom both.

The educational movement did not die. It was resurrected with new courses during the seventies. The psychologists worked with people and wrote in the vital area of how to integrate highly abstract and unconventional ideas into one's personal life.

But another huge set of marketing 101 mistakes was made. A large flow of ideas and courses on all sorts of topics, philosophy, the history of ideas, logic, education, history, the arts was not published so that people could study, comment, build upon, show them to friends, invite reviews. Instead it was sold as recordings. This was low volume and expensive to copy, so it led to the second mistake. Gouging level prices. If you have a good and appealing intellectual product and sell it for thirty dollars as a book an order of magnitude more people will learn from it, talk about it, than if you record it in twelve installments for three hundred dollar. This was associated with a third mistake. Since those who would pay hundreds of dollars was limited to the already existing 'choir' of true believers, you spoke in terms they already understood or in jargon. Terms like psychoepistemology, or attila and the witch doctor, or - most brain-cracking of all - the intrinsic/objective/subjective trichotomy tripped lightly off the tongue as if they were as familiar to listeners as rice and beans.

(to be continued)



Post 34

Tuesday, June 29 - 7:33amSanction this postReply
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The Plight of the Objectivist Egghead, Part 9

In an age of the written word, of Gutenberg, an intellectual movement which restricts its newer products and insights and ferment to an oral tradition like that of nomads around a campfire is doomed. And is likely to be laughed at. It has to fall back only on the words and books of the founder. Brilliant as those might be, ideas of broad scope or applicability need to grow by being expanded upon and applied to all sorts of areas.

One innovation from the NBI days which mitigated the high price of taped courses for one purchaser to listen to -- and which drew in more people to being educated about Objectivism -- was the idea of 'tape lessees'. A business representative would organize a group of people from a master mailing list in his city and they would each pay a much smaller fee to come to a hotel or living room and listen to the course in installments. This also had the advantage of people getting to know each other, networking. Always vital in any movement. Especially if it's small or beleaguered.

But this organized and coordinated system was discontinued at some point in the eighties. Peikoff simply decided it was too much trouble, apparently, and the whole process was abolished in favor selling the tapes or disks at sky high prices to one person at a time.

During the eighties, almost everyone had taken the courses. Today I seldom encounter anyone who has had that thoroughgoing a background. And no educational replacement exists. It's catch as catch can from whatever information or misinformation arises from discussions or from erratic material on the internet which varies in quality and which has less depth with regard to detailed application than on the basic abstract theory.

The most successful means of spread of ideas was always the books. Yet even here, basic mistakes were made which have perhaps somewhat lessened their force or impact.

Rand's novels first and then non-fiction collections of essays (an order of magnitude smaller in sales). But, after Rand's death, several steps were taken which impacted the books. First, both Atlas and Anthem were defaced. Fiction is not didactic. Yet, Anthem was accompanied by a photocopied series of Rand's unintelligible scribbles as she crossed out and marked over here correction. This was larger than the original text. And Atlas was preceded by a scholarly analysis by Peikoff in which he gives away the story. (At least in Fountainhead, the comments came at the end after one has read the text.) Second, some of Rand's non-fiction was altered - The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution was changed in title and to add three of the essays of Peter Schwartz who does not write as well and whom Rand had never chosen to include.

In the publishing business, there is the "trade paperback". For a non-fiction book of biography or history or other thoughtful subjects it is slightly bigger and more impressive and just looks better than the tacky, old-fashioned mass market paperback of the thrillers and romance novels you find at the supermarket. Browse through the philosophy section of a Barnes and Noble or a Borders. The entire section - Copleston's History of Philosophy, the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, titles by Nietzsche or Kant or Quine or Wittgenstein - they all look substantial and impressive, but then slipped in beside them are the dime store novel looking paperbacks of the most important titles by Rand - Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. People are more likely to pick up and examine something that doesn't look cheap. Whether it's a laptop or a book. (The estate of Ayn Rand has a lot of clout with the publishers and this is something fixable.)

(to be continued)



Post 35

Tuesday, June 29 - 9:35amSanction this postReply
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I have written and sold over 300 newspaper and magazine articles.  I do not intend to convert people to Objectivism.  For one thing, if you look at the arguments here, on Solo, Objectivist Living, and other forums, to say nothing of the ARI-TAS chasm, it is patently -- and embarrassingly obvious -- that merely accepting a set of axioms does little to "improve" the world.  I say "embarrassing" because it is not the arguments themselves (though there is that) but the anti-real, anti-human belief that the only thing wrong with everyone else is that they do not agree with us who agree with Ayn Rand.

That said, I broke in to the pages of The Greater Lansing Business Monthly with an essay on how insurance companies could replace government in an all-capitalist world.  Following that, I wrote another dozen articles for them, interviewing lobbyists, restauranteurs, pet groomers, truckers, and many, many others.  A few years later, I interviewed innovators for articles in Midnight Engineering.  Working as a trainer and technical writer in manufacturing, I also wrote for them an article, "Training Your Clients," which touted Introduction to the Objectivist Epistemology for its explanation of concepts.  Writing for the numismatic trades, I never have a problem praising capitalism.  I reviewed the Scholar's Edition of Human Action when it came out.  For the 50th Anniversary of Atlas Shrugged, I placed a review for which the editor had a cartoon drawn showing a man choosing between a cross and a dollar sign.  The message sells and I make money selling it. 

And on and on... 

What does not happen is that by giving a clear, consistent and overpowering declaration of Reality, Reason and Rights, a flock of people carry me around on their shoulders for showing them how to live happily ever after.

... but that raises the only real question here: Who is it that really hopes some Prince Charming will make it possible for him to live happily ever after? 

Back when mammoths roamed, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw had an article in their Libertarian Connection called "What if They Gave a Millennium and Nobody Came?"  Among their points was that the rational person only pursues freedoms that are attainable.  I make money writing about money.  I completed a master's degree in social science after a bachelor's in criminology, in part, by writing a paper demonstrating that capitalism is here to stay.  Among the points I made was that governments everywhere have laws to regulate corporations and now we see a trend toward private capitalization of formerly "public" companies, thus removing them from the regulations.  Would those business leaders have been so clever if Alissa Rosenblum had been shot by bandits when that train was stopped?  
 
Ayn Rand's ideas are consequential, of course.  It goes by quickly, but at the 50th Anniversary celebration, Ed Snider tells how he came to Ayn Rand's ideas.  It was from Peter O'Malley.  Ayn Rand's ideas are popular with those who accept them.  But we don't know who all those people are, nor do we need to.




Post 36

Tuesday, June 29 - 9:51amSanction this postReply
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Philip Coates opined: "In an age of the written word, of Gutenberg, an intellectual movement which restricts its newer products and insights and ferment to an oral tradition like that of nomads around a campfire is doomed. And is likely to be laughed at. ...  The most successful means of spread of ideas was always the books. ..."

1. Books on tape.  In a world of commuters in cars and on jetliners, recorded presentations are powerful and profitable.

2.  Computers.  This is no longer the age of Gutenberg.  We still publish what we write, of course, but just as Alchemists and Chemist, Astrologers and Astronomers had the same vocabularies and tools, the paradigm has shifted.  Homemade videos on YouTube have impact for those who are happy to enjoy them.  BioShock is a video game that has Atlas Shrugged as an element.  On the TV show "Mad Men" Atlas Shrugged had a drop-in.  The next Objectivist thing must inevitably be an augmented reality for the iDevice.  Got one, Phil? 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 6/29, 9:52am)




Post 37

Tuesday, June 29 - 12:35pmSanction this postReply
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Michael, maybe I'm totally clueless... and people are free to say, "Yes, Steve, in this case you are clueless." But I think that you suffer greatly from a lack of self-awareness. I was stunned you wrote what you did in post #35. Phil is discussing key issues in the cultural transmission of Objectivism, and those things we do that get in our own way. Maybe he must said something that offended you... maybe in the 'Objectivist Egghead' descriptions? (I won't go in to the part about, don't worry, you aren't an Objectivist, maybe just an egghead :-)

Aren't you aware of how what you were writing would be received? Phil discussed the successes of NBI, Ayn Rand's publications... he is talking about the pro and con of various publications that all together have sold in the millions... MILLIONS. And you are telling us you broke in to the pages of The Greater Lansing Business Monthly to tell pet groomers about replacing government with insurance companies! It isn't just a question of why you use your posts to display these personal accomplishments but that you might think you are impressing people.

YOU are embarrassed by aspects of RoR, Solo, Objectivist Living, ARI, TAS, and other forums?!?! Well, imagine how those of us on these different forums feel when you post replies claiming to be an Objectivist-Anarchist who is going to lecture us on Objectivism. A sense of self-awareness is a valuable thing.



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Post 38

Tuesday, June 29 - 12:59pmSanction this postReply
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Phil:

It seems somehow askance to me to measure the success of what is fundamentally an anti-collectivist paradigm by using the measuring stick of how big a collective it attracts.

We don't measure 'health' by counting the number of folks who have caught the disease 'non-disease.' It's enough to count the folks who have the disease, and note their ebb and tide.

When you attend a course or function, and are not proselytized by a collectivist apparatchik, when you are not subjected to an unrelenting political agenda injected into every nook and unrelated cranny, then in some fashion, freedom has prevailed.

Even in the absence of a local cheerleader for freedom, or great numbers of active sellers of freedom.

It happens, just less often than some would like...and more often than others would like.

The sellers of freedom have an uphill 'organizing' battle to climb in the face of political adversaries who are all about 'organizing' as their core belief.

I would think that the marshallers of humanity for-its-own-good would be heartened to see their intellectual adversaries focused on the ... marshalling of humanity for-its-own-good.

By competing in the arena of 'who has the biggest mob,' the competitors sanction the core collectivist axiom, which is, for its own good, humanity requires marshalling, even if by force. All that remains is a graceless wrestling over The Tribe's Magic Stick, the selection of our singular answer.

It reminds me a little of the GOP responding to Democratic plans to run 'The Economy' with their alternative ideas to run 'the Economy.' If I were a Democrat, I'd be laughing my ass off at that, and be heartened that the only other party of power in America had conceded that it is proper to even try to run some singular totalitarian term of art referred to as 'the' Economy.

The issue is long conceded as soon as both adversaries use only the terms of art of one side in the conflict of ideas.

I sure as Hell don't speak for anyone but myself. I chose to not participate in the tribal mess as either an employee or employer. I'm a paternalistic daddy only to my kids, that is plenty of running other people's lives for me.

But there are no end of folks not only able but eager and willing to pony up with their singular answers to 'why are we here, and what are we supposed to be doing now as a result of that?' As if. The result is our graceless cloying tribal mess.

Advocates of freedom -- literally, freedom fighters -- would do best, I think, in focusing on devolutionary ideas -- devolutionary in the sense of attacking the efficacy of collectivist, concentrated, totalitarian ideas, even if simply by just identifying, where possible, the dangers to freedom posed by accepting concentrated governmental power. That is not advocacy of pure anarchy, that is an argument for distributed, non-concentrated, non-totalitarian, non-fascist government.

The contradictions of the liberal left are exceeded only by the contradictions of the conservative right on this issue of freedom vs. totalitarianism. We can be so vigilant for the appearance of monopolistic influences in our 'the economy' -- with the glaring exception of the government itself, monopolists with guns. And the right will tolerate soft fascism, as long as it is wrapped in a flag and they have access to controlling the crony connected few running amok along the Potomac.

How was that possible, in this nation, without the total capitulation of reason? It wasn't capitulation. It was decades of Americans just living their lives and building a nation and its economies, unwilling to waste one minute of time worrying about the nuisance state plumbers running amok in DC. In that environment, anything goes in DC, and anything did. It became a corruption magnet, the Las Vegas of gambling using OPM, wrapped in a flag and the sanction of Doing The People's Business in our People's Republic Of Hey W.T.F. We're Not China.

That graceless, clawing tribal mess along the Potomac doesn't need a scalpal. It doesn't need a better organizing principle, or a Chairman Barack. It needs a fucking axe and the next reminder to never pull that crony tribal bullshit again, and once free people just living their lives aren't going to wield that axe until their level of disgust with what is going on there reaches a critical mass.

We there yet? Not for me to say. We'll be there when we get there. It just looks to me like we're sprinting there--thanks to the fumbling over-reaching ineptitude of Chairman Barack, who keeps looking at his own dismal results and blinking in disbelief. "It can't be my religion-- it must be the purity of last seasons' sacrifices. Once more, from the top, with feeling..."

regards,
Fred




Post 39

Wednesday, June 30 - 3:40amSanction this postReply
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> It seems somehow askance to me to measure the success of what is fundamentally an anti-collectivist paradigm by using the measuring stick of how big a collective it attracts.

Fred, are you equating collective action (belonging to, working with allies or a group) with collectivism?



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