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Post 40

Wednesday, June 30 - 8:34amSanction this postReply
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Phil:

I don't think so. I'm a big fan of free associations, plural.

But, one of the consequences of being a fan of free associations is, "they are what they are."

That is, not dependent on pure democracy, or the brute rule of sheer numbers, to validate them.

If I were to accept otherwise, than the worthiness/success of associations would be gauged primarily by their numbers, and the Paris Hilton Fan Club, for example, would be one of the most worthy associations any of us could aspire to.

Is it? Not for me to say for all, no matter what the numbers. For those who freely choose, yes. The important characteristic in a free nation is the freedom of associations, period. But as soon as we start gauging primarily by numbers, we are edging ourselves on a path to the logical conclusion of that kind of thinking, which is Totalitarianism. That is simply the tyranny of magnitude. If more is good, then most is better and finally 'all' is best. But, 'all' is not best, not by a long shot. 'All' is the precise opposite of freedom, and for those who prefer freedom over any kind of tyranny, freedom is best, not tyranny, even, the tyranny of numbers.

If you believe in and support the quality of your free associations, to me, that is more than sufficient. In fact, what is sufficient is that they be free associations, period, not forced associations.

After all, the point is, free associations, plural. Not forced association -- all of us, or most of us or even many of us -- singular.

I like to remind folks, whenever I can: the phrase is 'United we stand.' Not 'United it stands.'

We. Plural. In freedom. Dedicated to the right to be free from each other. In the past, whenever totalitarianism reared its ugly fangs somewhere in the world and threatened that idea, we banded together to defend our right to be free from each other. Aka, America, the Paradox of Freedom.

Decades of intellectual attack have rotted the foundation of this free nation, and totalitarian thinking has permeated every nook and cranny of our national psyche. For example:

"S"ociety -- a singular, mythical 'it', the very God totem of the religion Social Scientology. "S"ociety is God, and the state is its proper church. That is our defacto national religion, a once free secular nation was over-run with that, we are a de facto theocracy under that religion.

"The Economy" -- another term of Totalitarian art. A singular 'it', we are all inculcated from birth to believe in, as an absolute, like the atmosphere, sun, earth, and stars, an element. Not the once more widely used(and more accurate) 'the economies', but a bit of political subterfuge by Totalitarian aparatchiks -- the selling of 'The' Economy, as an absolute. We are widely generations from being able to do anything but blink when the existence of a single mythical totalitarian 'it' call 'the' Economy is questioned. It's as if one were questioning the existence of 'the atmosphere.' And yet, we don't talk about 'the' weather in the nation or world, as if there was just one of them. That would clearly be absurd, just as it is clearly absurd to endlessly talk about 'the' economy, and yet, that is all our politicians ever do...

Any of myriad subtle and non-subtle selling of pure democracy -- in a constitutionally limited democratic republic.

We've been convinced that there is only strength in size, in numbers. That kind of 'look for the union label' thinking encourages us to at least tolerate the idea of an endlessly growing in size federal government, and coupled with our inculcated bias -- surely, if the absolute of 'the' economy exists, then we need 'the' government to manage 'it' -- leads us inexorably to an American Totalitarianism. I expect that kind of thinking in free associations which are unions; I don't expect it as kind of defacto national political requirement. And as long as unions are free associations, that is, not over-run by totalitarian apparatchiks dedicated to the premise of eating all of our freedom in the name of their global totalitarian religious movement, there is no problem with unions freely associating with those religious beliefs and negotiating en masse. (It all goes south when fellow traveler, like minded apparatchiks in government collude to grant them use of the guns of government to eat others freedom to freely associate.)

That idea -- a now hundred year old infection -- is what needs to be shattered in America, if it is ever going to be a free nation again.

Look at a suspension bridge cable. 50 state experiments running in parallel, not a single point of failure federal 'it' gathering ever more constructivist totalitarian control.

Competing on totalitarian terms is just sanctioning totalitarianism. A hundred years of totalitarian brick wall thinking needs to be devolved one flawed brick at a time.


regards,
Fred







Post 41

Wednesday, June 30 - 9:38amSanction this postReply
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Final Post: The Plight of the Objectivist Egghead, Part 10

Copying the conservatives and other successful intellecual movements - including professional ones - the offsite seminar or summer retreat or conference was created in the 80's. The Jefferson School was wildly successful. From the very start, it drew about 350 people every other summer for two weeks. It was a good idea for the same reason that Galt's Gulch was a good idea.

People left those conferences re-energized and with new friends and allies. Very important in any movement. They felt as if they had spent two weeks in Atlantis as people let down their defenses against a hostile outer world. Many had never met another Objectivist. Over the course of those summer weeks, everyone noticed and laughed at the 'de-repression' they saw. People who were guarded or morose or closed off opened up. What made this possible was the time for fun, for a vacation, for social interaction. Dances, parties, music, bull sessions.

But as soon as the conferences passed into other hands, the time alloted for this during hours when people were still awake and not resting was removed. It was replaced with more lectures. And (once again, common sense) with greater quantity sometimes the quality suffers. Not every speaker has anything to say or is not just repeating something Rand wrote about or said better a quarter-century earlier. The additional problem is that after the second or third day of 9 am to 9 pm of high-powered intellectual material, you are no longer absorbing much. No matter how much of a high-powered, caffeine-wired intellectual you think you are.

The movement had been captured by the theoretical philosophers, who now ran each wing or faction of Objectivism. Respected for their intellectual achievements, they were mistakenly placed in charge of areas where they had no experience and not particularly good instincts. This is a perfect example of 'eggheadism', a failure of mind-body or reason-emotion balance. A top heavy emphasis on the former, with less time allowed for the later.

The first things Nathaniel Branden noticed at a large meeting after decades of exile: "What happened to all the women?" That and the graying of Objectivism. Fewer and fewer people under fifty.

A movement that manages to steadily attract fewer and fewer of those under thirty-five and only enough high school and college students to fit in a telephone booth to its events is doomed.

Demographics is destiny. The movement simply dies off. That's an even more vital indicator of what will happen to it in the future than raw numbers. (Not to mention the stultifying and socially unattractive and harsher aspects of becoming more and more of a "boys' club". Side note: If you don't understand this last point, I couldn't possibly explain it to you.) No matter all the self-congratulation put out by its think tanks and official organs, no matter how many interviews on Fox television. Doomed to slow decline.

Now of course, these things aren't predetermined. People can always say, "Yes, Houston (and Phil), we acknowledge that we actually do have a problem". And then start to figure out how to fix it.

And by doing so emerge from weary pessimism and cynical defeat and factional warfare. And reclaim Atlantis.





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Post 42

Wednesday, June 30 - 12:02pmSanction this postReply
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One Last Thing ==> Praise for the "Eggheads", the Leaders, the Writers and Communicators

While I believe many Oists in positions of authority have made very serious mistakes that have damaged the movement, I don't consider well-meaning mistakes to be a moral issue. The leaders of Objectivism from Rand herself to the Brandens to Peikoff to Kelley to Hudgins and Brook and all their allies and co-workers and other important intellects like Reisman and Packer and Bidinotto and Thomas and Ed Locke and Andy Bernstein and Gotthelf and Machan and Hicks (and other non-aligned people like Sciabarra and probably others I'm forgetting) -- have been well-meaning people, highly intelligent. And dedicated to ideas.

And note that, by contrast to the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-capitalism of the dominant culture, all these peolpe are *broadly and fundamentally on the same side*, the side of the angels. Or, as Rand put it, of mankind's future, if it is to have a future.

Despite the foolish attempts of 'factionalists' to cast mud and look for feet of clay in their ideological opponents, I haven't noticed a single person of rotten character or worthy of fundamental disrespect or contempt in that leading group. We are talking with an array of good people, struggling to stay above water against a cultural, political, philosophical mudslide. They deserve our thanks and our help. Choose whoever you most agree with and help them. With moral support, with contributions, by writing letters to the editor. On whatever scale you are able. But don't let an entire lifetime go by sitting on your thumbs or only being a critic...

...To be disgusted with or highly critical of and strongly disagreeing with action or a particular decision or false conclusion or 'eggheadish' error of perspective or knowledge is not to be disgusted with or lacking of respect for the fundamental person.

In all the cases of prominent Objectivists, they are of sufficient intellgence and character and discipline that they could have made a lot more money, been more well-known and lauded and promoted and rewarded by the culture if they had not chosen to dedicate a life to a highly unpopular and laughed-at philosophy.

And, being realistic, they knew that going in. For that as much as anything, they all have my respect. For placing conviction and principles over "selling out" or knuckling under to the loudest cultural voices or trying to go along to get along.



Post 43

Wednesday, June 30 - 7:50pmSanction this postReply
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Phil,

I think that if people are going to be giving contributions, they need to earmark them for programs and individual students they deem worthy. They should also be willing to pull the financial plug on people and programs that don't meet their milestones and commitments after ample chances and opportunities are given. The Objectivist virtue of justice demands no less.

Jim




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Post 44

Thursday, July 1 - 7:16amSanction this postReply
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Phil:

I enjoyed this thoughtful series of observations enough to read it twice.

The now prevailing processes and culture embedded in our universities which you describe, I believe, were in part deliberately created. Open borders, open universities, several decades long conflict with competing totalitarian world movement. Freedom's adversaries weren't stupid, nor overwhelmed with any sense of restraint that would have kept them from taking advantage of our innate openness, and this nation would never have tolerated the kind of aggressive police state that would have made such an attack difficult. Of course our universities were targets, and of course they were overrun.

What is the principle axiom of freedom's adversaries, the advocates of totalitarianism/collectivism? That, the masses, for their own good, must be marshalled, like a giant bee colony, and ordered by instruction from well-meaning elites. If that is the goal, then a means to that end is the deliberate crippling of the institutions of mass education, replacing them with institutions of mass instruction. The masses must be deconstructed -- have their independent intellectual legs kicked out from underneath them -- and then reconstructed -- told what to believe, given their instructions.

A secondary result is the neutering of the nation -- its intellectually ability to defend freedom, as well as its ability to build the beast.

This explains the unmitigated nonsense spewing from our universities for decades. A free nation was attacked, crippled, and the entry point for this infection of totalitarian thinking was our open universities.

Not the only fulcra; as well, our popular culture. A case in point is the very terms used in this thread. How is it possible to resolve the following simultaneous assertions, aimed at our children?

1] Your education is the key to your success; work hard in school, care about your studies, try hard. And when you do...

2] ... the culture will refer to you as egghead, nerd, geek, dweeb.

We spend thousands educating our children, and millions telling them that they should value hip over smart, notoriety and fame over effort, celebrity over character.

It's easily resolved, as follows:

1] We really need kids to show up at our public schools...

2] ... so they can receive their political indoctrination, summarized as 'don't try too hard to succeed, unless it is in a meaningless and trivial fashion in one of the cultural soma industries.'

The beekeepers can't build their manageable bee colony unless the bees peacefully swallow their instructions.


I won't be easily dissuaded from believing in the existence of what I experienced first hand. 1975, sophomore, Princeton U., at or near or even slightly past the height of this attack on reason. I was an engineering major, which shielded me from most but not all of the concerted nonsense, yet fulfilling my obligation to subject myself to left wing indoctrination. I mean, fulfill my humanities requirement. There was probably a time when there was a damn good reason for that humanities requirement, but moot, because the real reason was to spread the venom deeply infecting those universities. So, just like humanities majors had a 'science' requirement -- fulfilled usually by watching rats run mazes in some Psych course -- engineers were encouraged to become 'well rounded,' when in fact it was simply an opportunity to be exposed to the insanity of paid left wing indoctrination. Not uniformly, but consistently. Not the only example of same, but my favorite. A 200 level Anthropology course, 'The Human Image in Film.' Midterm, after watching 'Nanook of the North:' "Explain why Nanook's struggle with the walrus is a metaphor for the demonstrated depravity of Capitalism and its unrelenting onslaught on humanity."

Are you kidding me? I took the complete opposite view, and argued it. The aparatchik running the instruction snarled at me when he returned my paper, "If you do this on the final, I will fail you." He was serious. I wasn't, I was taking his P.O.S. course to fulfill a requirement, P/F. This guy was a total cliche radical egghead idiot, running free and unfettered at an Ivy League school. And, he fit right in, he wasn't an exception. This numnutz wore a disconnected 35mm SLR lens on a dirty multicolored string hung around his neck, and every so often during one of his spew fests in front of the class, would suddenly stop spitting foam, grab the lens, and 'frame' the world for a second or two, overcome as he was with the urge to make virtuous proletariate art. And, while this spineless fuck was jerking and gyrating in front of a class of captured victims, many of their parents were off some where struggling to provide his subsidy, building the beast, so that their children could learn what rat bastard capitalist war mongers they were.

I worked summers in a steel fab plant, hot-dip galvanize, between semesters. Then, in the fall, I would come back and listen to my freshly indoctrinated fellow indoctrinates rail on about being the Last True Friends of the Real Working Men and Women in America. Excited Acolytes of Elitism, eager to take their place in the Circus of Paternalistic Megalomania. "But, you don't know what the phrase 'Fucking the dog' means, and have never heard it used in its proper context?" Nope. "Never set foot in a steel plant of factory, not even once?" Nope. Don't have to, to know what's best for The Real Working Men and Women in America.

And, this is what the Ivy Leagues pump out, like an assembly line of instructed slop.

Why, my very Alma Mater now proudly touts a 'Department of Financial Engineering'-- in the Engineering School no less!

As if.

And, judging by their predominance in DC and Wall Street, these constructivist 'financial engineers' are doing a bang-up, knock up job. That is, when they aren't trying to find their own ass with their own two hands, and buy their first clue.

We're about to inject another of these cookie-cutter indoctrinated minds onto the Supreme Court. Great. That's exactly what this nation needs, yet another instructed Ivy Leager in DC. We must have been just that one short of Nirvana.

We rotted from the top. I can't imagine paying $200,000+ to send my kid to the Ivy Leagues these days. Why? Who would deliberately do that to their own kids, unless they, too, had been successfully deconstructed and reconstructed? But, long moot, because even if those universities were once ground zero of the attack on this country, the disease has long spread far and wide.

Far too few Tibors. He isn't alone, just ... lonely.

regards,
Fred









Post 45

Friday, July 2 - 7:02amSanction this postReply
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Noticed with levity in this 1993 essay:

http://www.fudco.com/chip/deconstr.html

...and, if you haven't long already seen it:

http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

'What' is not an interesting question, or even, at question; it is meaningless gibberish. The question is, 'why' was this ever foisted onto our universities, to become the prevailing mode of thought and speech in so many humanity departments?

It's only baffling when examined through the filter of a rational mind.

The 'reason' for the prevailing irrationality was precisely to destroy the institutions as places of education, so that they could become places of instruction only. The masses cannot be successfully 'reconstructed' unless they have first been 'deconstructed.' The 'reason' for foisting this nonsense was(and still is)to intellectually cripple its victims -- for their own good, the cripplers believe.

The demonstrably reproducible works of Wolfram(in fields far from where unfocused English majors dabble in complete nonsense), for example, shatter Derrida's primary axioms into the nothings they truly are-- pure, unsubstantiated, unfocused, undisciplined gibberish. There is no 'there' with Derrida -- if he was anywhere near correct in his assertions, then he, too, means nothing. Flush-- a total non-starter, a complete dead end. And yet, valued by the left as the key to the Magic Kingdom, the metamorphosis of mankind into a bee colony of passive, subservient bees, buzzing quietly and peacefully and above all, numbly under the direction of the elites.

Before you can successfully tell folks what they should think, you must convince them that they are unable to think on their own, that thought itself is impossible. Once they accept their deconstruction, they are truly jell-o, ready to join the war on humanity and its inconvenient urge towards freedom from the tribe/bee colony.

You don't fight an army of "jell-o," once illuminated for what it is. You illuminate it, and let free people laugh at it.





Post 46

Saturday, July 3 - 7:02amSanction this postReply
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And then there came this...

http://atlasshrugged.com/




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Post 47

Saturday, July 3 - 7:24amSanction this postReply
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Back in Post #37, Steve Wolfer posited his cluelessness:
Michael, maybe I'm totally clueless... Phil discussed the successes of NBI, Ayn Rand's publications... he is talking about the pro and con of various publications...   



We might both be clueless.  I read and understood the minimal upsides and nods as the contrapposto to his thesis that we are all failing him in not creating an Objectivist utopia.  The accusations outweighed the laurels. 

...  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. 

No, it is that ":clueless" thing again.  Of all the things I have written, only a very few touted Objectivism, but they did so in appropriate and useful ways.  What have you done?  When you worked as a counselor, were you able to help anyone via Objectivism?  Have you published anything at all?  I speak at numismatic conventions often and it's a great forum for touting capitalism and mentioning Ayn Rand. ... again, as appropriate. Where have you spoken?


You denigrate business people whose occupations you do not admire -- yet, again, as Philip Coates' own hidden premise -- you hold up "academics" as most worthy, the valiant whom we must save from themselves for everyone's good.  You find no value in suggesting that business people read about radical capitalism, and yet, on the homepage here, we are to consider the "Overton Window." 

I am not clueless , and neither are you.  We both understand fully that we are different kinds of people.  Consider the so-called "pro-life/pro-choice" debate. The agument If you do not approve of abortion, then don't have one is not an option for the pro-life people.  They see abortion as murder and see no reason to compromise.  For them, it is not about freedom to act, but restraint.   So, too, with us, Steve.  I am situational and dynamic and so I can benefit from working with someone like you who are constrained.  Unfortunately, your authoritarianism does not allow you to acknowledge my mode as useful, proper, rational, and reasonable.  So, we argue.  I say, "open up in there" and you say that you don't dare.  Sorry to hear that, but you do have a right to make yourself happy as best you can.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 7/03, 7:30am)




Post 48

Saturday, July 3 - 12:23pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

Your post stands proof about some of Phil's sharpest criticisms of eggheadedness. You said that I denigrate business people whose occupations I do not admire - where did you get that? Be specific, because if you do, you might learn something about how you read things when you feel attacked.

You said that I find no value in suggesting that business people read about radical capitalism - wrong, that's not me. That's your way of misunderstanding me to avoid what I actually said.

Look again. What I wrote was about a specific comparison, not about any occupation as the subject, and not about business people as the subject.
----------

You wrote, "...you [Steve] hold up "academics" as most worthy..."

Where did I write that? Didn't you read post #2, and post #18? Again, Michael, you became mentally clouded in a way that prevented you from grasping the actual conversation. The good thing about a written conversation like this is that you can go back and reread it, in private, at a later date - asking yourself if you were blocking things out.
--------

You wrote, "I am situational and dynamic and so I can benefit from working with someone like you who are constrained. Unfortunately, your authoritarianism does not allow you to acknowledge my mode as useful, proper, rational, and reasonable."

Nothing I could say would be more beneficial to you than to suggest that you reexamine those two sentences, because in some fashion you are able to generate sentences like that, in your head, to explain things in ways that are really about denial. You are repainting characteristics of yours and of others in ways that keep you from looking carefully at the facts.

There was a class in Gestalt Therapy one day and the professor tossed a green wool sweater on the floor and we all drew up chairs so that we sat around it. She had us go around the circle, one at a time, making a factual statement about the sweater. After a fairly short time, people were saying things that came not from their senses, nor from reasoning, but were projections. Those two sentences are your subconscious - not fact.
-----------

Your reference to the Overton Window is peculiar - I couldn't figure out what you meant.
-----------

Michael, you are having some kind of conversation in your head where you and I are talking... except that I'm not there. You wrote, "So, we argue. I say, "open up in there" and you say that you don't dare. Sorry to hear that, but you do have a right to make yourself happy as best you can."

That is the kind of dramatic conversation that you should look into, not that I'm saying you are hearing voices or hallucinating, but that you are imagining a me and a you that are comfortable in your mind, but are not as real as they should be.

Best Wishes, Steve.



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