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Post 100

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 11:13amSanction this postReply
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The taxpayers, perhaps? If you and Mr. Dickey want to go on a "save the world for democracy and freedom" war spree, be my guest, but pay for it yourself


Steve still keeps trying to avoid answering such a simple conceptual inquiry.

Steve, whatever manner an armed forces is paid for in a libertarian society, it's job is still to provide self defense. Assuming you live in some fantasy libertarian utopia where taxes are not used and instead some form of voluntary system pays for a military - what is your answer to the previously listed questions.

1) If this libertarian utopia was the US, what would you propose it do if the soviet union invaded Canada and Mexico instead of Afghanistan?
2) Is it just for this libertarian nation to assist another libertarian nation in defending itself from an attack from a common enemy?
3) Is this libertarian nation then culpable for unjust acts performed in retaliation for just actions of self defense?

What's next? Nit pick over how a volunteer system could pay for an army? You keep avoiding the basic principle in question here - is intervention ever morally justified?

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Post 101

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 11:13amSanction this postReply
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Stewart mocks Olbermann's anti-Brown rant. This is quite funny.

Post 102

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 11:23amSanction this postReply
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What's next? Nit pick over how a volunteer system could pay for an army? You keep avoiding the basic principle in question here - is intervention ever morally justified?


That is not the question here, however much you may want it to be. Now, define "intervention".

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Post 103

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 11:39amSanction this postReply
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That is not the question here, however much you may want it to be. Now, define "intervention".


That IS the question here Steven, it's the question I've been asking all along, over and over again. I don't know what you think the question is, but I notice you don't explicitly state it. You are just a straining to avoid answering it. I should think that conceptually 'intervention' is a simple enough word, but since you like nitpicking so much why not address any of the specific examples I have given in the simplest questions you've refused to answer.

The same question, AGAIN. - The US is a libertarian utopia and the Soviet Union launches a full scale invasion of Canada AND Mexico. Both Canada and Mexico are also libertarian utopias. The Soviet Troops do not step foot inside the US or lob a single bullet over the borders. Do you 'intervene' in this war, yes or no. You can pick the specifics of that intervention but 'being a beacon of liberty and freedom to show the murderous communist invaders the true path' does not count as 'intervention'

Feel free to share with us what interventions you would endorse.

A) send food and medical supplies
B) send military equipment and supplies
C) send military advisers
D) send soldiers


(Edited by Michael F Dickey on 1/22, 11:41am)


Post 104

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 4:52pmSanction this postReply
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Great posts Steve and Steven.

While I don't speak for Steven, I believe his point about 'anthropomorphizing the state' is not claiming anything about whether states are almost omnipresent. It's a legitimate objection to people taking a philosophy of individual rights and attempting to simply invalidly substitute collectives in place of individuals.


Post 105

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 7:52pmSanction this postReply
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"Fact of the matter is, strategic and controlled military actions usually result in far fewer casualties then the moral cowardice of indifference and sanctions."

(from "Mike Dickey's Greatest Hits." Buy the album)


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Post 106

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 7:53pmSanction this postReply
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Aaron you're simply equivocating. Collectivism and a collective of rational individuals are not the same thing. It is possible for a group of individuals to have a convergence of interests, i.e. a harmony of interests. For example, a free nation is a group of free individuals who all share a common interest of self-defense, hence they can form a common defense against foreign aggressors. That is no more collectivism than a corporation is.

Collectivism would be if the interests of individuals are sacrificed to others. You couldn't rationally claim such a thing happens in a corporation so you couldn't do so with a free nation either.

According to Rand, collectivism is the "the subjugation of the individual to a group".

To which as Michael Dickey points out, which nation following an ideology of collectivism during the 20th century was conquering nations left and right with the explicit goal of spreading it's ideology to the entire globe? It was the Soviet Union.

What would you have done Aaron if the Soviet Union invaded Mexico and Canada? Would you condemn any intervention from America because that would be 'anthropomorphizing the state'? This sloppy thinking if adopted as strategy would have guaranteed the subjugation of American individuals to communist masters.


Post 107

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 9:14pmSanction this postReply
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Yes, there is a crucial difference between a collective and an aggregate of individuals...

Post 108

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 9:32amSanction this postReply
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NYPOST
We the people of the United States owe Scott Brown's sup porters a huge debt of gratitude. They didn't merely elect a senator. They ripped the fašade off the Obama presidency.


That's part of the "message" Michael Goodwin thinks electing Brown has sent.

I am still curious, however, what exact message voting for the LP Joe Kennedy would have sent, if indeed it "sent" any message at all.

Could voting for Kennedy "send" the message that

One is a pacifist and supports a unilateral Afghan pullout?
That one thinks drug legalization and gay marriage are the most important issues?
That one will support the LP no matter how ineffectual their candidates and quixotic their campaigns?

I think you get the idea. Talk of punnett squares is cute. It's an attempt to use formal language to grant a subject an objectivity it does not have. One one side you have the real-life objective factual matter of whether or not your candidate wins. On the other side you have the imagined subjective notion of what message your vote sends. The problem is that while votes either do or do not elect a certain candidate the subject of message "sent" is entirely subjective. Votes don't come with prayer tags attached, letting the deity of democracy know what message you intend to send.

The whole notion is as objective as Kant' categorical imperative. That is, not at all. Kant says act as if the maxim governing your action were to be universalized. Once agaqin we are speaking of prayers. The problem is that any of an infinite number of contrary "maxims" can describe an act. If I, say, call a man a fool, it might be due to my adherence to truth telling, or it might be due to my intention to hurt his feelings. I may not even be sure of my motive. I cannot expect others to divine it.

Post 109

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 11:54amSanction this postReply
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I agree that Brown's win is a clear message being sent by the people. Without tea party activity it would not have happened. That "Objective" pull of the handle in the voting booth was preceded by a great deal of grass roots "subjective" signalling. Expectations and motivations are the moving forces and the handle is the outcome.

People who don't see that are advocating a course that holds us forever stuck in the 'present' which of course will morph into a future that is even uglier.

People who understand that you need to drive history by increasing the number of supporters who are beyond where we are now in the fight for freedom are those who will matter.

The simple fact is that if you elect the right-leaning progressive to prevent the left-leaning progressive, you end up with a progressive. Why should that be a surprise - our history is littered with examples.

Ted, you talk about LP candidate Kennedy but he is an independent, not a LP candidate.

From his web site: "Today I am a registered Independent, make small donations and am a member of the National Libertarian Party and have attended Tax Day Tea Party Rallies." He once was a registered Democrat, is not a part of the Mass. LP, and he has been an independent for years. Independents are the largest block of voters in Mass.

His campaign was centered around the economy more than anything else. He did not make legalization of marijuana or legalizing gay marriage his key issues. He supports pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan because he thinks that nation building and the current approach there are ineffectual and not good ways to defend our country. He is in favor of a strong military and a strong defense and believes that continuing current policy is bad for our defense and bad for the military. Your implying that he is a pacifist is absurd.

He not in favor of "legalizing" gay marriage, he simply says government should not be involved in the issue of marriage - regardless of the gender of the parties.

How does your inaccurate and misleading characterization of Kennedy encourage us to pay attention to your claims of objectivity or truth as you attempt to paint those who disagree with you as people siding with Kant and engaging in prayer?

You speak of, "...the imagined subjective notion of what message your vote sends." Couldn't we say that you overestimate the imagined subjective notion of what message our posts send? Voting does more than just end up warming a seat in Washington, it is also the way we keep score on the national debate. And the trend most important in this progression of debates over the years is "what's next?" If you only vote for those who might win, we will never have anyone that can't win today. You hold us stuck while those who vote their principles pave the road to where we want to go.

Post 110

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
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But even Brown's election is only a message in so far as it is interpreted, not intrinsically. Plenty of Democrats say the message is that "Obama wasn't liberal enough." and so lost his base. Obama says the message is that "the voters are angry" and he too was elected on anger. Okay. (But Krauthammer's response to that was it's like a man whose wife is leaving him saying that it's "all about love" because it was love that brought them together first and it's love that's bringing the ex-wife and her new boyfriend together now.) Maybe the message was that we need more Cosmo centerfolds in DC? Saner minds say the message was that voters accepted Brown's number one pledge to stop ObamaCare and on that rendered their referendum. But the only objective result which no one can dispute is that Brown and not Coakley or the pacifist will sit in the Senate.

The grapes may indeed be sour. But if the fox can reach them then he will eat them, not send a message of complaint. It is only the fox who can't reach the grapes who treats stating his opinion as if it had been the real goal of the exercise all along.

The send-a-message theory of elections is one of flawed priorities. Only when one's candidate loses does the intended effect metamorphose from seating your candidate to sending a message. If you really want to send a clear message, write a book. The essential issue of any election is and must be, "Who will sit in the seat?"

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Post 111

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 2:50pmSanction this postReply
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John-
"Aaron you're simply equivocating. Collectivism and a collective of rational individuals are not the same thing."

It would be a strawman to attempt to claim I view them as the same.

I'll point out in fairness to you, Fred, and Michael that I have not seen you advocate here collective guilt such as promoting carpet bombing civilians, etc. However, I know that is common in some Objectivists even up to big names such as Brook and Epstein, and the views of pro-interventionists here are not so clear when it comes to feeling justified in taking others' money to support your cause. If you don't advocate collective guilt or otherwise feeling justified in taking money from or employing violence against 3rd parties, then we don't have a fundamental disagreement, and only a (less critical or interesting) argument about different options in dealing with foreign dangers.

Collectivism comes in as I'd said - when attempting to invalidly just plug collectives into a statement that would be valid about individuals. I'll even go back and start with Fred's original example which spawned Steven's use of the word 'anthropomorphizing':

"You see two thugs across the street beating a man senseless, robbing him, brutalizing him."

This of course has the valid implication that you have the right to and may choose (though are not ethically bound) to aid the victim of the assailants and to employ violence against them. However, it does not imply that you have any legitimate right to use violence against other 3rd parties, or rob them in your quest to defend the victim. Now simply plug in collectives known as nations in the statement as Fred was implying:

"You see two nations begin a war with another nation, brutalizing it."

It's not valid to treat the nations as individuals - the real individuals are still there, underneath. Certainly some, possibly many, individuals in the nations which started the war are responsible and justifiably violence may be used against them. It does not follow, however, that every citizen of the two nations are themselves guilty. Nor does it justify theft or violence against innocent 3rd parties by individuals in the defending nation (or others). Trying to bring in collective guilt or otherwise treat the nations as hives and forget the individuals is borne of collectivism.

As I said, it's not yet clear if or much you, Michael, etc. personally take such a collective view, but it is unfortunately common with some Objectivists and so nonetheless worth pointing out this distinction about 'anthropomorphizing' and collectivist misinterpretation of ethics.

I'll address Michael Dickey's hypothetical in another post (though power is intermittently going out here due to storms so may not be til tomorrow).

Aaron

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Post 112

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 3:08pmSanction this postReply
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Michael-
"1) If this libertarian utopia was the US, what would you propose it do if the soviet union invaded Canada and Mexico instead of Afghanistan?"

First, your question contains an implicit contempt, and is really a complex question. Attempting to answer it as worded implies accepting the idea of a valid government is merely 'utopia'. Let's replace:

'libertarian utopia' with 'legitimate Objectivist government' - that is, a minimal government limited to courts, police and military for protection of individual rights, and which does not institutionalize violation of individual rights, including being noncoercively funded. Admittedly we're far from seeing such a government in the world today, but as an Objectivist I think such a valid government is possible, and hope others here agree that it's not an unreachable utopia.

So: "assuming during the Cold War that the US, Mexico and Canada were legitimate Objectivist governments, what would you propose if the Soviet Union invaded Canada and Mexico?"

I personally would advocate assassinating Soviet leaders (I'd have advocated that long before invasion..), destroying Sovet navy to isolate any forces in North America, and if possible employing ground forces to combat any Soviets which are on the continent. I would assume nuclear first strike would still trigger MAD and would not go nuclear, and also assume US/Canada/Mexico would not have the resources to effectively fight in the USSR beyond small efforts such as assassinations, surgical strikes, and limited strategic incursions. I would absolutely increase how much I'd personally contribute to the military if Soviets invaded countries bordering us, and would advocate others do the same, though would not advocate forcing them to do so. You can tweak the 'what if?' around some and tweak my response in particulars, but that's a good general overview.

So do I still get to keep my 'non-interventionist' club jacket, or do I have to turn it in?

Aaron

Post 113

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 3:15pmSanction this postReply
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"I know that is common in some Objectivists even up to big names such as Brook and Epstein, and the views of pro-interventionists here are not so clear when it comes to feeling justified in taking others' money to support your cause."

What a pink herring. "Oh, my, war is bad because I oppose the taxation for it." Unless you yourself have a personal veto over the government's actions the state will always run the risk of offending you. The question is, is there a legitimate constitutional state in place, and did the state act according to its constitution when it went to war? At some point in any society you are going to run up against a majority whose decision you disagree with. Sorry, but that compromise is the price of having a state at all. Your options are anarchy or someone else's rule in which you have no say whatsoever.

You have to make a decision. Either the state under which you live is a legitimate one, and while you are free to oppose the war you cannot claim a personal exemption from it, or your moral duty is to fight against your own state, in which case you simply have another kind of war on your hands.

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Post 114

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 4:06pmSanction this postReply
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"Either the state under which you live is a legitimate one, and while you are free to oppose the war you cannot claim a personal exemption from it, or your moral duty is to fight against your own state, in which case you simply have another kind of war on your hands. "

What a ridiculous false dichotomy. If you oppose money being picked from your pocket to fund welfare, Social Security, etc. you must have a 'moral duty' to sacrifice your life 'fighting against your own state' too. 'America - love it or fight it.'

Aaron

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Post 115

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 5:09pmSanction this postReply
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Aaron, thanks for responding to my query. I see Mr. Drukenmiller is still evading the question (er, conspicuously absent)

You wrote:


I personally would advocate assassinating Soviet Leaders
...destroying Sovet navy ... employing ground forces to combat any Soviets which are on the continent


And then asked


So do I still get to keep my 'non-interventionist' club jacket, or do I have to turn it in?


I take it from your response you basically would do nothing unless they are invading nations which border us. Even if that is the case, then no, you don't get to consider yourself a non-interventionist - since you would be advocating intervening in domestic Canadian and Mexican affairs.

Now let's expand this question to more relevant scenarios. Let's say the Soviet Union invades the country which supplies you with Oil - or invades a country which represents a beachhead in not only dominating the world oil supply (and essentially the world's energy and economy) but also gives them a warm water port - a major strategic achievement over the immense disadvantage their existing geography offers.

Further, instead of actually invading a nation, let's say the Soviet Union funneled billions in weapons and munitions which supported communist revolutionaries in various countries, some of which border you or are close and some of which are on the other side of the globe but are major trading partners.

Lastly, Let's imagine the Soviet Empire invaded every single nation on the planet EXCEPT yours and your immediate neighbors, until they amassed such a collection of resources that you represented no threat at all. At which point do you stand in opposition to them?

In the age of Intercontinental nuclear missiles, how do you consider neighboring geography as the most important criteria? Saddam Hussein spent millions trying to build an artillery cannon that could launch rounds into orbit, which meant he could have hit any nation on the planet with whatever payload he desires. At what point would you have considered intervention moral in that case?

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Post 116

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 6:00pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Aaron, thanks for your thoughtful response. I'd like to address some of the questions/points you bring up.

I'll point out in fairness to you, Fred, and Michael that I have not seen you advocate here collective guilt such as promoting carpet bombing civilians, etc. However, I know that is common in some Objectivists even up to big names such as Brook and Epstein, and the views of pro-interventionists here are not so clear when it comes to feeling justified in taking others' money to support your cause.
I'm certainly not part of the nuke 'em all crowd. I have explained my positions on this on numerous occasions but I believe you may have not been participating with RoR through many of those discussions. So I'll re-iterate them here:

I believe every reasonable effort should be taken to protect civilians. But it is far better if some innocent civilians are accidentally killed then to have an entire nation of innocents living under a brutal tyrant that has turned their country into a prison. It makes no sense to wish for no action because you might kill innocent civilians and continue with innocent civilians dying everyday by the hands of a dictator. I'm sure if you ask any innocent civilian living under a brutal dictatorship, they'd take the risk of death if it meant hope for freedom and a peaceful existence for themselves and their loved ones.

This nuke 'em all philosophy I think is merely a variation of the omnipotent fallacy where any of the consequences of such a strategy is ignored. Just as you wouldn't want to use disproportionate force against domestic crime, you wouldn't want to do this with foreign policy either.  If the government locked you up for life for stealing a loaf of bread, you would create an environment of fearful living. What if one of your relatives shop-lifted from a grocery store? You would grow resentful of your government, you may agree your relative should be punished, but not to such an extreme where the use of retaliatory force then itself turns into an initiation of force. The same principle should be applied internationally. Using the nuke 'em all strategy would weaken our position with allies, and damage our reputation as a just nation.

As far forcible taxation to support a war, I would not support such a position. But I can still support a just war. Just as I don't support forcible taxation to establish a system of justice where domestic criminals are tried and locked up into prisons, I can still support the pursuit of these criminals. Two wrongs don't make a right, so that these endeavors are funded through forcible taxation does not mean the endeavors themselves should not be under-taken, i.e. it doesn't mean pursuing these criminals are not in our rational long term interests. All wars have been funded up until now through forcible taxation, including the American Revolution. To say a war is no longer just because it has been funded by unjust means would mean all wars ever were unjust wars.


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Post 117

Monday, January 25, 2010 - 12:25pmSanction this postReply
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Aaron Wrote


Nor does it justify theft or violence against innocent 3rd parties by individuals in the defending nation (or others). Trying to bring in collective guilt or otherwise treat the nations as hives and forget the individuals is borne of collectivism.

As I said, it's not yet clear if or much you, Michael, etc. personally take such a collective view, but it is unfortunately common with some Objectivists


My comments basically parallel Johnny's on this issue, but I will add that I find the 'nuke em all' crowd as disgusting as the isolationist crowd. In fact I would argue that indiscriminately killing civilians, while not only utterly immoral, is not at all in our long term rational self interest, especially in the age of nuclear terrorism and genetic engineering. Further I consider blowing up an enemy countries city to route out a few terrorists as irrational and immoral as blowing up a domestic apartment complex in order to catch a single criminal who fled inside. All these principles are derived from rational self defense policy of long term rational self interest.

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