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Re: Response to NB's Essay

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  • Chris Matthew Sciabarra
    I appreciate and agree with the points made by Dr. B. and Diana. I was once intrigued by the fact that Ayn Rand had told writer Joan Kennedy Taylor that her
    Message 1 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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      I appreciate and agree with the points made by Dr. B. and Diana. I
      was once intrigued by the fact that Ayn Rand had told writer Joan
      Kennedy Taylor that her politics was "libertarian." And, at one
      time, Rand had little or no problem describing it as such or drawing
      parallels with it---whatever her discomfort with the word (as so well
      expressed in Nathaniel's essay). Just yesterday, in fact, I heard a
      very interesting interview with Rand.

      In contrast to conservatism, which she rejected as "futile and
      disastrous," Rand states in that interview: "People like the
      libertarians, [Ludwig] von Mises or [Henry] Hazlitt [both of whom
      Rand knew and highly recommended to her readers], do not advocate a
      mixed economy. The so-called libertarians are much better in that
      respect."

      Note: She wasn't condemning the group as a whole---the way Peter
      Schwartz did---as a bunch of whim-worshipping tribalists. She goes
      on:

      "The libertarians are a loose group; they do not have a specific
      program; the differences will vary from individual to individual. In
      a general sense, our main differences from the libertarians is in the
      fact that the libertarians are concerned primarily, and some of them,
      exclusively, with economics and politics. When it comes to their
      philosophical frame of reference, it varies from man to man, and we
      are usually in disagreement with their philosophical framework, but
      in agreement with most of their economic theories. Now, Objectivism
      is not a political-economic movement, at least not primarily.
      Objectivism is primarily a philosophical movement, which means that
      we derive our politics and economics from a certain philosophical
      framework . . . We do agree with much of their political-economic
      views."

      (See "Conservatism versus Objectivism: An Interview with Ayn Rand"
      circa 1963-64)

      I suspect that the debate over the use of "libertarianism" reached
      fever pitch ~because~ of the anarchists within libertarian politics.
      But describing Objectivist politics as "libertarian" is no different
      than describing Objectivist ethics as "egoist." OBVIOUSLY,
      Objectivism has enormous differences with other ~forms~ of
      libertarianism and other ~forms~ of egoism, but that doesn't make it
      any less libertarian in the political sphere or egoist in the ethical
      sphere. It's all a question of classification.

      And since libertarianism as a political doctrine is simply the 20th
      century equivalent of classical liberalism, and that use of the
      word "liberal" in today's political culture has been preempted by its
      use to describe "welfare statism," I, quite frankly, do not see what
      the big deal is.

      I am not now, nor have I ever been a member, of the Libertarian
      Party. I'm a registered independent. I occasionally vote for LP
      candidates when I despise the choices among the major parties.
      Whatever my voting patterns, I can certainly attest to the fact that
      small-l libertarianism is ~much~ broader than upper-case Libertarian
      Party Politics.

      Cheers,
      Chris

      ---
      http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/update.htm
      ---
    • Mike Lee
      ... My experience differs greatly, especially when discussing the subject with people who have more than minimal knowledge of politics. When people say that
      Message 2 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Monica Pignotti [mailto:pignotti@...]
        >
        > As much as I respect NB's work in the field of psychology, I
        > couldn't disagree more with him on this point.
        > "Libertarianism" is commonly understood by many people
        > outside the "movement", in my own experience, when it has
        > come up in conversation, as anarchy.

        My experience differs greatly, especially when discussing the subject with
        people who have more than minimal knowledge of politics. When people say
        that libertarians advocate anarchy, it's usually in the same context as when
        people say conservatives advocate fascism or liberals advocate communism--an
        argumentative device.

        > > So I'd like to know what the position of the objectivists
        > on this list
        > > is. Either they agree with Peikoff and think that
        > libertarians are the
        > > archenemy of objectivism,
        >
        > Yes, that is my position. I support Leonard Peikoff and
        > Peter Schwartz on
        > this issue, 100%.

        Arch enemy? I mean, come on. Most Objectivists could happily live next door
        to most Libertarians, and agree 95% of the time on how to resolve actual
        disputes and how to vote on political issues. The biggest fights would
        probably come from stereo wars between the Grateful Dead and Rachmaninoff.

        -Mike
      • Mike Lee
        ... What s the mistake here, and what s wrong with a foggy conglomeration ? All the groups you mention do more good than harm, and share a fundamental respect
        Message 3 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: Free Capitalist [mailto:hash113@...]
          >
          > safe to say that there's a "libertarian front" out there, a foggy
          > conglomeration that consists of LP, Cato, IHS, and many more. It
          > seems that TOC endorses and is friends with this front, and makes
          > the same mistake that Cato and IHS make - not distinguishing the
          > small l from big L.

          What's the mistake here, and what's wrong with a "foggy conglomeration"? All
          the groups you mention do more good than harm, and share a fundamental
          respect for human freedom and the right to be left alone. It really does
          make the Objectivists look nutty when they anathematize those closest to
          them in sympathy and ideology. Reminds me of the scene in Monty Python's
          Life of Brian where the People's Front of Judea is condemning all the other
          Jewish liberation groups: "The only people we hate more than the Romans are
          the Popular Front. Splitters!"

          (And, yes, I am making a lot of Monty Python references lately--my daughter
          sent me the entire MP record collection. I don't know if Leonard Peikoff's
          head would explode if he were forced to repeatedly listen to the Trondheim
          Hammer Dance, but it's worth a try.)

          -Mike
        • mpignotti2001
          ... drawing ... well ... a ... You said that this was circa 1963-64, before the LP had been established. In her essay of a much later date (the 70s), What Can
          Message 4 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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            --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, "Chris Matthew Sciabarra"
            <chris.sciabarra@n...> wrote:
            > I appreciate and agree with the points made by Dr. B. and Diana. I
            > was once intrigued by the fact that Ayn Rand had told writer Joan
            > Kennedy Taylor that her politics was "libertarian." And, at one
            > time, Rand had little or no problem describing it as such or
            drawing
            > parallels with it---whatever her discomfort with the word (as so
            well
            > expressed in Nathaniel's essay). Just yesterday, in fact, I heard
            a
            > very interesting interview with Rand.
            >
            > In contrast to conservatism, which she rejected as "futile and
            > disastrous," Rand states in that interview: "People like the
            > libertarians, [Ludwig] von Mises or [Henry] Hazlitt [both of whom
            > Rand knew and highly recommended to her readers], do not advocate a
            > mixed economy. The so-called libertarians are much better in that
            > respect."

            You said that this was circa 1963-64, before the LP had been
            established. In her essay of a much later date (the 70s), "What Can
            One Do", in the Ayn Rand Letter, she clearly advised people not to
            join the Libertarians. If you would like to see the exact quote, I
            can get that for you.

            > Note: She wasn't condemning the group as a whole---the way Peter
            > Schwartz did---as a bunch of whim-worshipping tribalists.

            She did condemn them harshly in her essay, "What Can One Do", written
            in the 1970s, after the formation of the LP. In 1963-4, she was
            speaking in a much different context. After she saw the results
            of "Libertarianism" in action, she obviously changed her views. This
            is understandable, given her very inductive thought process. From an
            academic point of view, I would also tend to want to take written
            material over what was spoken in an interview, when there is a
            conflict, especially since that written material was of a later
            date. Now you might want to argue that she meant the "party" in that
            issue, but she didn't specify this, so I would have no reason to
            assume that.

            Chris, I'll ask you the same question I asked NB. Do you know what
            the actual origin and definition of the term, "libertarian" is and
            who originally coined it? It would certainly give us a much sounder
            basis for the usage of the term if we knew this.

            Monica Pignotti
          • n6666b@cs.com
            I confess I took for granted that everyone on this list knew that Libertarianism and libertarianism are two totally different animals. NB [Non-text
            Message 5 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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              I confess I took for granted that everyone on this list knew that
              "Libertarianism" and "libertarianism" are two totally different animals.

              NB


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • n6666b@cs.com
              Well said, Chris. nb [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              Message 6 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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                Well said, Chris.

                nb


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • martingoodfellow8
                Chris ?
                Message 7 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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                  "Chris"?

                  --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, n6666b@c... wrote:
                  > Well said, Chris.
                  >
                  > nb
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Free Capitalist
                  Diana, thanks for information. Why is it that none of the classical liberal/libertarian think tanks officially disassociate themselves with LP? Or maybe I
                  Message 8 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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                    Diana, thanks for information. Why is it that none of the classical
                    liberal/libertarian think tanks officially disassociate themselves
                    with LP? Or maybe I missed it, but I doubt it. I'd think that if
                    Objectivism formally disassociated itself from LP, that groups
                    with 'libertarian' in their title would be even more earnest in such
                    a task.

                    --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, Diana M Hsieh <diana@d...>
                    wrote:
                    > On Wed, 26 Mar 2003, Free Capitalist wrote:
                    >
                    > > Frankly I always thought Cato was, if not exclusively an LP think
                    > > tank, at least not condemning of the Party.
                    >
                    > Cato abhors the LP. I know; I interned there for 6 months while in
                    > college. Ed Crane, in fact, founded Cato because he was
                    completely fed up
                    > with the LP. Generally speaking, the LP was (and surely is still)
                    > regarded an embarassment by Catons.
                    >
                    > I don't know about IHS in particular, but I know that they long
                    described
                    > themselves as "classical liberal" rather than libertarian in order
                    to
                    > distinguish themselves from the LP kooks. (When I was at
                    Cato, "market
                    > liberal" was the preferred term for similar reasons.) But now the
                    term
                    > "libertarian" isn't so associated with the LP, so I believe that
                    both
                    > organizations are using it.
                    >
                    > The fact that some major donors might support both the LP and
                    libertarian
                    > think tanks like Cato and IHS doesn't show that the think tanks
                    themselves
                    > support the LP. Your conjectures, as reasonable as they might be
                    in the
                    > absence of information, are inconsistent with the facts.
                    >
                    > diana.
                    >
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                  • Michael Moeller
                    Great Topic. I am going to have to take the side of Rand on this one for many reasons. NB writes: I ve needed to say, I m not a Democrat nor a Republican,
                    Message 9 of 28 , Mar 26, 2003
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                      Great Topic. I am going to have to take the side of
                      Rand on this one for many reasons.
                      NB writes:
                      "I've needed to say, "I'm not a Democrat nor a
                      Republican, but a libertarian." Then listeners often
                      say, "Could you define libertarianism"--and we're off
                      to the races."
                      If this is the standard, then why not say that you
                      are classical liberal, and then put forth an
                      explanation of what that means. I assume many do not
                      follow this path because the concept has been
                      corrupted by modern liberalism. The same corruption
                      exists within the concept of libertarianism. The
                      problem with libertarianism is that it has two main
                      errors of integration.
                      The first integration failure is the problem of
                      essentials. When one posits a concept, it should, at
                      the very least, bring into focus its essential
                      characteristic(s). The essential feature, in the case
                      of libertarianism, should be a minimalist view of the
                      state where the state is constrained to protecting
                      individual rights. Does this essential characteristic
                      strike most people when the concept is put forth?
                      Hardly. I used to refer to myself as a small-l
                      libertarian, and almost nobody I argued with made the
                      integration of that concept on the terms I suggested
                      above. More often then not, many of these people
                      would equate me with either an anarchist, or a civil
                      libertarian. What's worse, there is a
                      feckless/"lunatic fringe" political connotation
                      associated with this concept. Like it or not,
                      libertarians are tainted with ineffectuality and
                      superfluity.
                      I subscribed to Liberty and read other libertarian
                      books and publications in order familiarize myself
                      with the philosophical foundations of libertarian
                      writings. I found that the writers came from all over
                      the philosophical map. Some defended the minimalist
                      state with religious views (many are religious), some
                      were anarchists, others were pseudo-collectivists, and
                      so on. Since Objectivism has such a strict
                      philosophical structure, why would I want to unite
                      with such an unsavory hash of ideas? I decided to
                      treat libertarianism the same way I do conservatism,
                      that is, to let them fight the battle for liberty on
                      their own grounds. Even though the stated political
                      ends may be the same, I don't think it can be properly
                      defended on their grounds. Many of these people may
                      be won over to the side of Objectivism, but
                      Objectivists gain nothing from throwing themselves
                      into the same political ring. In fact, it hurts the
                      philosophical foundation of Objectivism because an
                      invalid philosophical association will be drawn due to
                      their political association.
                      This leads into what I think is the 2nd failure of
                      integration with regards to libertarianism, namely
                      that the concept is not conjoined to a broader
                      epistemological/ethical framework. What is the
                      libertarian ethical defense of the minimalist state
                      and individual rights? If you look to much of the
                      libertarian canon, the answer will come out of a
                      muddle of conflicting and contradictory ethical
                      principles (utilitarianism, hedonism, etc.). My
                      thoughts are that people need to agree on
                      ethical/epistemological grounds, then the
                      politico-economic premises will be a natural
                      outgrowth. If we instead say, "Well, we agree on
                      political ends, let's worry about the philosophical
                      differences later", all that will result is an
                      incoherent, non-foundational, floating jumble--which
                      is exactly what libertarianism IS!!! The fact that
                      one must distinguish between libertarianism and
                      Libertarianism is itself proof of the convoluted
                      nature of this concept.
                      Chris points out that libertarians are primarily
                      concerned with politico-economy, and as Objectivists,
                      "we derive our politics and economics from a certain
                      philosophical framework..." This is precisely why
                      libertarianism is pernicious with respect to
                      Objectivism--it ignores the hierarchy of knowledge.
                      Without this hierarchical context, the individualist
                      political principles CANNOT be properly defended. As
                      further proof, read Liberty or other libertarian
                      publications and you will find that the writers draw
                      all sorts of different implications from the same
                      political principles. Why is this? Again, because
                      most of them do not operate from the same
                      epistemological/ethical context. Contrast this with
                      concept of modern liberalism, which is more clearly
                      understood because most of the advocates do operate
                      from the same epistemological/ethical context.
                      Rand was correct in stating that "capitalist" is
                      far superior to "conservative" or "libertarian". This
                      is primarily due to 3 reasons:
                      1) The concept of capitalism is more universally
                      understood. I have found that most people, at least
                      implicitly, grasp the fact that capitalism means
                      private ownership and voluntary exchange (although I
                      had somebody tell me that fascism is a capitalist
                      state, HELP!!). Even though this primarily defines
                      one's economics, political and economic principles are
                      so intimately interwoven that by defining the nature
                      of one, you define the nature of the other.
                      Capitalism, understood in the correct context, can
                      then be easily integrated with the proper function of
                      the state--to protect individual rights. To give it
                      other functions, like the redistribution of wealth,
                      would violate the fundamental tenets of capitalism.
                      2) Capitalism has taken on a very positive
                      connotation, unlike libertarianism. I am only in my
                      twenties, and as a result, have mostly received a
                      positive reception with regards to my advocacy of
                      capitalism. The outright vitriolic denunciation of
                      capitalism seems to have faded before my generation.
                      Except for the most closed-minded and crude liberals,
                      I have found that most people silently acknowledge
                      capitalism's superiority, at least in terms of
                      practical efficacy. Once they concede the practical
                      efficacy, it is much easier to make the link to
                      capitalism's moral superiority. And that, I think, is
                      the ultimate goal--to win people over by appeal to
                      ethical/epistemological fundamentals, not political
                      ones. As many people have stated, the cultural
                      victory will be won on the fundamental philosophical
                      battlefield, not the political one.
                      3) In relation to my previous two points,
                      "capitalism" is much easier to integrate into a
                      hierarchical philosophical framework than
                      "libertarianism". Rand often speaks of the
                      mystic-altruist-collectivist axis. These concepts go
                      hand-in-hand, the
                      epistemological/ethical/politico-economic structure is
                      well integrated and consistent. The same is true with
                      regards to the reason/rational
                      self-interest/capitalist axis. The concepts are also
                      well integrated and consistent. Now if we replaced
                      "capitalism" in this philosophical structure with
                      "libertarianism", the structure is not consistent or
                      well-integrated. Examining the libertarian canon, one
                      could not reasonably declare that the writers have a
                      consistent reason/rational self-interest foundation.
                      Rand emphasized this hierarchy by stating that she was
                      a capitalist, but more fundamentally, an
                      individualist, and even more fundamentally, an
                      advocate of reason and objective reality. Can one
                      make this organic link if the concept of "capitalism"
                      is replaced by "libertarianism"? Examining many of
                      the movement's main thinkers and writers, it would be
                      extremely hard to make a positive case.
                      I don't understand why many Objectivists feel the
                      need to adopt the term "libertarian". Why fight for a
                      corrupted concept when when a much better one is
                      readily available? I say, leave conservatism to the
                      Conservatives and libertarianism to the Libertarians.
                      We are all Capitalists now--and that's a good thing.
                      Flourish,
                      Michael


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                    • William Bacon
                      Hash, though I can t (and wouldn t dare presume) to speak for the classical liberal think tanks, I would suspect that they don t disassociate themselves from
                      Message 10 of 28 , Mar 27, 2003
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                        Hash, though I can't (and wouldn't dare presume) to speak for the classical
                        liberal think tanks, I would suspect that they don't "disassociate
                        themselves" from the LP because they aren't officially associated with it to
                        begin with. The nature, under tax laws, of a think tank are that they
                        cannot be partisan and keep their tax exempt status.

                        Yes, Heritage is basically Republican in its agreement with that party's
                        stances on issues, but they will scream if you start saying they are a
                        "Republican" organization. Cato would do the same thing if they were tied to
                        the LP.
                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: Free Capitalist [mailto:hash113@...]
                        Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2003 12:24 AM
                        To: nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: [nathaniel_branden] Re: Response to NB's Essay


                        Diana, thanks for information. Why is it that none of the classical
                        liberal/libertarian think tanks officially disassociate themselves
                        with LP? Or maybe I missed it, but I doubt it. I'd think that if
                        Objectivism formally disassociated itself from LP, that groups
                        with 'libertarian' in their title would be even more earnest in such
                        a task.

                        --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, Diana M Hsieh <diana@d...>
                        wrote:
                        > On Wed, 26 Mar 2003, Free Capitalist wrote:
                        >
                        > > Frankly I always thought Cato was, if not exclusively an LP think
                        > > tank, at least not condemning of the Party.
                        >
                        > Cato abhors the LP. I know; I interned there for 6 months while in
                        > college. Ed Crane, in fact, founded Cato because he was
                        completely fed up
                        > with the LP. Generally speaking, the LP was (and surely is still)
                        > regarded an embarassment by Catons.
                        >
                        > I don't know about IHS in particular, but I know that they long
                        described
                        > themselves as "classical liberal" rather than libertarian in order
                        to
                        > distinguish themselves from the LP kooks. (When I was at
                        Cato, "market
                        > liberal" was the preferred term for similar reasons.) But now the
                        term
                        > "libertarian" isn't so associated with the LP, so I believe that
                        both
                        > organizations are using it.
                        >
                        > The fact that some major donors might support both the LP and
                        libertarian
                        > think tanks like Cato and IHS doesn't show that the think tanks
                        themselves
                        > support the LP. Your conjectures, as reasonable as they might be
                        in the
                        > absence of information, are inconsistent with the facts.
                        >
                        > diana.
                        >
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                        > | diana mertz hsieh *--* diana@d... |
                        > | web *--* http://www.dianahsieh.com |
                        > | blog *--* http://www.noodlefood.org |
                        > *--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*


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                      • Monica Pignotti
                        Michael Moeller wrote: [I ve snipped many very excellent points he very eloquently made, to get to this one very important conclusion
                        Message 11 of 28 , Mar 27, 2003
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                          Michael Moeller <moeller_log@...> wrote:

                          [I've snipped many very excellent points he very eloquently made, to get to
                          this one very important conclusion where he writes which I think needs
                          emphasizing:]

                          >The fact that
                          > one must distinguish between libertarianism and
                          > Libertarianism is itself proof of the convoluted
                          > nature of this concept.

                          Yes, that really hits the nail on the head and you have expressed here,
                          exactly what I was trying to convey. My experiencing in examining a broad
                          range of "L(l)ibertarian" views has been much the same as yours. If I
                          employ Ayn Rand's theory of concepts, which means observing a number of
                          concretes, and then omitting the measurements, the only one essential
                          characteristic and forming an inductive generalization, the one essential
                          characteristic I would come up with that all L(l)ibertarians have in common
                          is "freedom" as a primary. It is not relevant that ~some~ or even the
                          majority of
                          L(l)ibertarians are advocates for limited government, when so many other
                          points of view have been allowed into the party and into important
                          L(l)ibertarian journals and writings. The common denominator and essence is
                          "freedom", nothing more and nothing less. This could mean a freedom with
                          regards to legitimate rights, like free speech, but it could also mean a
                          "freedom" to run a fraudulent business, have sex with minors, make
                          slanderous statements against someone, or any number of "freedoms" that
                          would be permissible when one drops the philosophical context of reason and
                          reality. Regardless of how many arguments people wish to pull us into about
                          the word means, when the concept is formed inductively using a wide range of
                          concretes (not just one state), there can be no other conclusion drawn.

                          Monica Pignotti
                        • barger9999
                          It might help people understand the difference between oppsing the Libertarian PARTY, vs. opposing (small l ) libertarianISM, to think of it this way: I can
                          Message 12 of 28 , Mar 27, 2003
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                            It might help people understand the difference between oppsing the
                            Libertarian PARTY, vs. opposing (small 'l') libertarianISM, to think
                            of it this way:
                            I can hypothetically be a "small 'd'" democrat, believing in
                            democracy; but still criticize the "Capital 'D'" Democratic PARTY.
                            The fact is, there is indeed a difference between a political
                            party, and a philosophical/political position.
                            Just as I can say, "I am a democrat, but I reject the Democratic
                            Party", so one can say, "I'm a libertarian, but I reject the
                            Libertarian Party".
                            In Schwartz' essay, he insists that it is libertarianISM, not
                            JUST the L.P., that is "a perversion of liberty". Of course, to reach
                            that conclusion, he had to come up with a skewed definition of
                            (small 'l') libertarianism, that is in fact not identifying the
                            essentials of "small 'l'" libertarianism.
                            Small 'l' libertarianism, is merely classical liberalism:
                            Nothing more, and nothing less.
                            Rand was a small 'l' libertarian.
                            Thanks!
                            Steven Barger

                            --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, "Monica Pignotti"
                            <pignotti@w...> wrote:
                            > Michael Moeller <moeller_log@y...> wrote:

                            >
                            > >The fact that
                            > > one must distinguish between libertarianism and
                            > > Libertarianism is itself proof of the convoluted
                            > > nature of this concept.
                          • barger9999
                            The main problem I have with Mr. Moellor s comments, is that he fails to properly distinguish, the difference between a political PARTY, and a philosophical
                            Message 13 of 28 , Mar 27, 2003
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                              The main problem I have with Mr. Moellor's comments, is that he
                              fails to properly distinguish, the difference between a political
                              PARTY, and a philosophical POSITION. This is the same error, Schwartz
                              makes.
                              This is a mistake.
                              His argument may or may not be a proper argument for not joining
                              the Libertarian PARTY; but he insists by implication that
                              libertarianism as a political position is somehow corrupted, because
                              allegedly a lot of openly unsavory people are L.P. members.
                              The essence of libertarianism, is classical liberalism.

                              Consider: There are unsavory people-people with numerous
                              divergent philosophical premises, who call themselves "atheists".
                              Did Rand shy away from calling herself an "atheist", because
                              openly irrational people like Madeline Murray O'Hair and Joseph
                              Stalin were "atheists"?

                              Many "God-fearing" Americans years back equated, in their
                              minds, "atheism", with "materialism" and especially, "Communism"!
                              It was right that Rand did not join any groups that espoused
                              atheism, such as O'Hair's American Atheists. (This would be parallel
                              to not joining the Libertarian Party).

                              But, Rand never said: 'I Can't call myself an "atheist' anymore,
                              because the word has been corrupted to imply 'Godless Communism', in
                              many people's minds!!
                              So, she called herself a small 'a' atheist, and didn't associate
                              with the O'Hair's of the world.
                              Parallel to that approach-IF it was her position that Rothbard
                              and others were not to be associated with, she could and should have
                              stayed away from the L.P. But, just as she was still a small 'a'
                              atheist, in spite of O'Hair and Stalin and any other unsavory
                              character who also called himself an "atheist", by the same token,
                              she was still a small 'l' libertarian, in spite of the alleged
                              irrationality of the CAPITAL 'L' Libertarian PARTY.

                              Why didn't Rand reject the label "atheist", then, which was MUCH
                              more "corrupted" in the public mind, ("Godless Communism"), than
                              libertarianism ever was. (Stipulating that it was "corrupted" at all!)
                              Thanks!
                              Steven Barger

                              --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, Michael Moeller
                              <moeller_log@y...> wrote:
                              > Great Topic. I am going to have to take the side of
                              > Rand on this one for many reasons.
                              > NB writes:
                              > "I've needed to say, "I'm not a Democrat nor a
                              > Republican, but a libertarian." Then listeners often
                              > say, "Could you define libertarianism"--and we're off
                              > to the races."
                              > If this is the standard, then why not say that you
                              > are classical liberal, and then put forth an
                              > explanation of what that means. I assume many do not
                              > follow this path because the concept has been
                              > corrupted by modern liberalism. The same corruption
                              > exists within the concept of libertarianism. The
                              > problem with libertarianism is that it has two main
                              > errors of integration.
                              > The first integration failure is the problem of
                              > essentials. When one posits a concept, it should, at
                              > the very least, bring into focus its essential
                              > characteristic(s). The essential feature, in the case
                              > of libertarianism, should be a minimalist view of the
                              > state where the state is constrained to protecting
                              > individual rights. Does this essential characteristic
                              > strike most people when the concept is put forth?
                              > Hardly. I used to refer to myself as a small-l
                              > libertarian, and almost nobody I argued with made the
                              > integration of that concept on the terms I suggested
                              > above. More often then not, many of these people
                              > would equate me with either an anarchist, or a civil
                              > libertarian. What's worse, there is a
                              > feckless/"lunatic fringe" political connotation
                              > associated with this concept. Like it or not,
                              > libertarians are tainted with ineffectuality and
                              > superfluity.
                              > I subscribed to Liberty and read other libertarian
                              > books and publications in order familiarize myself
                              > with the philosophical foundations of libertarian
                              > writings. I found that the writers came from all over
                              > the philosophical map. Some defended the minimalist
                              > state with religious views (many are religious), some
                              > were anarchists, others were pseudo-collectivists, and
                              > so on. Since Objectivism has such a strict
                              > philosophical structure, why would I want to unite
                              > with such an unsavory hash of ideas? I decided to
                              > treat libertarianism the same way I do conservatism,
                              > that is, to let them fight the battle for liberty on
                              > their own grounds. Even though the stated political
                              > ends may be the same, I don't think it can be properly
                              > defended on their grounds. Many of these people may
                              > be won over to the side of Objectivism, but
                              > Objectivists gain nothing from throwing themselves
                              > into the same political ring. In fact, it hurts the
                              > philosophical foundation of Objectivism because an
                              > invalid philosophical association will be drawn due to
                              > their political association.
                              > This leads into what I think is the 2nd failure of
                              > integration with regards to libertarianism, namely
                              > that the concept is not conjoined to a broader
                              > epistemological/ethical framework. What is the
                              > libertarian ethical defense of the minimalist state
                              > and individual rights? If you look to much of the
                              > libertarian canon, the answer will come out of a
                              > muddle of conflicting and contradictory ethical
                              > principles (utilitarianism, hedonism, etc.). My
                              > thoughts are that people need to agree on
                              > ethical/epistemological grounds, then the
                              > politico-economic premises will be a natural
                              > outgrowth. If we instead say, "Well, we agree on
                              > political ends, let's worry about the philosophical
                              > differences later", all that will result is an
                              > incoherent, non-foundational, floating jumble--which
                              > is exactly what libertarianism IS!!! The fact that
                              > one must distinguish between libertarianism and
                              > Libertarianism is itself proof of the convoluted
                              > nature of this concept.
                              > Chris points out that libertarians are primarily
                              > concerned with politico-economy, and as Objectivists,
                              > "we derive our politics and economics from a certain
                              > philosophical framework..." This is precisely why
                              > libertarianism is pernicious with respect to
                              > Objectivism--it ignores the hierarchy of knowledge.
                              > Without this hierarchical context, the individualist
                              > political principles CANNOT be properly defended. As
                              > further proof, read Liberty or other libertarian
                              > publications and you will find that the writers draw
                              > all sorts of different implications from the same
                              > political principles. Why is this? Again, because
                              > most of them do not operate from the same
                              > epistemological/ethical context. Contrast this with
                              > concept of modern liberalism, which is more clearly
                              > understood because most of the advocates do operate
                              > from the same epistemological/ethical context.
                              > Rand was correct in stating that "capitalist" is
                              > far superior to "conservative" or "libertarian". This
                              > is primarily due to 3 reasons:
                              > 1) The concept of capitalism is more universally
                              > understood. I have found that most people, at least
                              > implicitly, grasp the fact that capitalism means
                              > private ownership and voluntary exchange (although I
                              > had somebody tell me that fascism is a capitalist
                              > state, HELP!!). Even though this primarily defines
                              > one's economics, political and economic principles are
                              > so intimately interwoven that by defining the nature
                              > of one, you define the nature of the other.
                              > Capitalism, understood in the correct context, can
                              > then be easily integrated with the proper function of
                              > the state--to protect individual rights. To give it
                              > other functions, like the redistribution of wealth,
                              > would violate the fundamental tenets of capitalism.
                              > 2) Capitalism has taken on a very positive
                              > connotation, unlike libertarianism. I am only in my
                              > twenties, and as a result, have mostly received a
                              > positive reception with regards to my advocacy of
                              > capitalism. The outright vitriolic denunciation of
                              > capitalism seems to have faded before my generation.
                              > Except for the most closed-minded and crude liberals,
                              > I have found that most people silently acknowledge
                              > capitalism's superiority, at least in terms of
                              > practical efficacy. Once they concede the practical
                              > efficacy, it is much easier to make the link to
                              > capitalism's moral superiority. And that, I think, is
                              > the ultimate goal--to win people over by appeal to
                              > ethical/epistemological fundamentals, not political
                              > ones. As many people have stated, the cultural
                              > victory will be won on the fundamental philosophical
                              > battlefield, not the political one.
                              > 3) In relation to my previous two points,
                              > "capitalism" is much easier to integrate into a
                              > hierarchical philosophical framework than
                              > "libertarianism". Rand often speaks of the
                              > mystic-altruist-collectivist axis. These concepts go
                              > hand-in-hand, the
                              > epistemological/ethical/politico-economic structure is
                              > well integrated and consistent. The same is true with
                              > regards to the reason/rational
                              > self-interest/capitalist axis. The concepts are also
                              > well integrated and consistent. Now if we replaced
                              > "capitalism" in this philosophical structure with
                              > "libertarianism", the structure is not consistent or
                              > well-integrated. Examining the libertarian canon, one
                              > could not reasonably declare that the writers have a
                              > consistent reason/rational self-interest foundation.
                              > Rand emphasized this hierarchy by stating that she was
                              > a capitalist, but more fundamentally, an
                              > individualist, and even more fundamentally, an
                              > advocate of reason and objective reality. Can one
                              > make this organic link if the concept of "capitalism"
                              > is replaced by "libertarianism"? Examining many of
                              > the movement's main thinkers and writers, it would be
                              > extremely hard to make a positive case.
                              > I don't understand why many Objectivists feel the
                              > need to adopt the term "libertarian". Why fight for a
                              > corrupted concept when when a much better one is
                              > readily available? I say, leave conservatism to the
                              > Conservatives and libertarianism to the Libertarians.
                              > We are all Capitalists now--and that's a good thing.
                              > Flourish,
                              > Michael
                              >
                              >
                              > __________________________________________________
                              > Do you Yahoo!?
                              > Yahoo! Platinum - Watch CBS' NCAA March Madness, live on your
                              desktop!
                              > http://platinum.yahoo.com
                            • Jak
                              Libertarian Party is an organization, and at its face value should be embracing the libertarian values, which I classify it as the economic/political branch of
                              Message 14 of 28 , Mar 27, 2003
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                                Libertarian Party is an organization, and at its face value should be
                                embracing the libertarian values, which I classify it as the
                                economic/political branch of Objectivism.

                                I chose to affect the party and align the philosophical basis with
                                the stated party policy, instead of letting "the pollutants" take
                                over.
                                I am convinced that, just like Rand did while defending the term
                                capitalism, Libertarian Party is worth saving, for it is what most of
                                us stand for - regardless of some individuals or defenders of the
                                party do or say.

                                Jak Karako
                                LPNY state chair



                                --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, "barger9999"
                                <barger9999@y...> wrote:
                                > The main problem I have with Mr. Moellor's comments, is that
                                he
                                > fails to properly distinguish, the difference between a political
                                > PARTY, and a philosophical POSITION. This is the same error,
                                Schwartz
                                > makes.
                                > This is a mistake.
                                > His argument may or may not be a proper argument for not
                                joining
                                > the Libertarian PARTY; but he insists by implication that
                                > libertarianism as a political position is somehow corrupted,
                                because
                                > allegedly a lot of openly unsavory people are L.P. members.
                                > The essence of libertarianism, is classical liberalism.
                                >
                                > Consider: There are unsavory people-people with numerous
                                > divergent philosophical premises, who call themselves "atheists".
                                > Did Rand shy away from calling herself an "atheist", because
                                > openly irrational people like Madeline Murray O'Hair and Joseph
                                > Stalin were "atheists"?
                                >
                                > Many "God-fearing" Americans years back equated, in their
                                > minds, "atheism", with "materialism" and especially, "Communism"!
                                > It was right that Rand did not join any groups that espoused
                                > atheism, such as O'Hair's American Atheists. (This would be
                                parallel
                                > to not joining the Libertarian Party).
                                >
                                > But, Rand never said: 'I Can't call myself an "atheist'
                                anymore,
                                > because the word has been corrupted to imply 'Godless Communism',
                                in
                                > many people's minds!!
                                > So, she called herself a small 'a' atheist, and didn't
                                associate
                                > with the O'Hair's of the world.
                                > Parallel to that approach-IF it was her position that Rothbard
                                > and others were not to be associated with, she could and should
                                have
                                > stayed away from the L.P. But, just as she was still a small 'a'
                                > atheist, in spite of O'Hair and Stalin and any other unsavory
                                > character who also called himself an "atheist", by the same token,
                                > she was still a small 'l' libertarian, in spite of the alleged
                                > irrationality of the CAPITAL 'L' Libertarian PARTY.
                                >
                                > Why didn't Rand reject the label "atheist", then, which was
                                MUCH
                                > more "corrupted" in the public mind, ("Godless Communism"), than
                                > libertarianism ever was. (Stipulating that it was "corrupted" at
                                all!)
                                > Thanks!
                                > Steven Barger
                                >
                                > --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, Michael Moeller
                                > <moeller_log@y...> wrote:
                                > > Great Topic. I am going to have to take the side of
                                > > Rand on this one for many reasons.
                                > > NB writes:
                                > > "I've needed to say, "I'm not a Democrat nor a
                                > > Republican, but a libertarian." Then listeners often
                                > > say, "Could you define libertarianism"--and we're off
                                > > to the races."
                                > > If this is the standard, then why not say that you
                                > > are classical liberal, and then put forth an
                                > > explanation of what that means. I assume many do not
                                > > follow this path because the concept has been
                                > > corrupted by modern liberalism. The same corruption
                                > > exists within the concept of libertarianism. The
                                > > problem with libertarianism is that it has two main
                                > > errors of integration.
                                > > The first integration failure is the problem of
                                > > essentials. When one posits a concept, it should, at
                                > > the very least, bring into focus its essential
                                > > characteristic(s). The essential feature, in the case
                                > > of libertarianism, should be a minimalist view of the
                                > > state where the state is constrained to protecting
                                > > individual rights. Does this essential characteristic
                                > > strike most people when the concept is put forth?
                                > > Hardly. I used to refer to myself as a small-l
                                > > libertarian, and almost nobody I argued with made the
                                > > integration of that concept on the terms I suggested
                                > > above. More often then not, many of these people
                                > > would equate me with either an anarchist, or a civil
                                > > libertarian. What's worse, there is a
                                > > feckless/"lunatic fringe" political connotation
                                > > associated with this concept. Like it or not,
                                > > libertarians are tainted with ineffectuality and
                                > > superfluity.
                                > > I subscribed to Liberty and read other libertarian
                                > > books and publications in order familiarize myself
                                > > with the philosophical foundations of libertarian
                                > > writings. I found that the writers came from all over
                                > > the philosophical map. Some defended the minimalist
                                > > state with religious views (many are religious), some
                                > > were anarchists, others were pseudo-collectivists, and
                                > > so on. Since Objectivism has such a strict
                                > > philosophical structure, why would I want to unite
                                > > with such an unsavory hash of ideas? I decided to
                                > > treat libertarianism the same way I do conservatism,
                                > > that is, to let them fight the battle for liberty on
                                > > their own grounds. Even though the stated political
                                > > ends may be the same, I don't think it can be properly
                                > > defended on their grounds. Many of these people may
                                > > be won over to the side of Objectivism, but
                                > > Objectivists gain nothing from throwing themselves
                                > > into the same political ring. In fact, it hurts the
                                > > philosophical foundation of Objectivism because an
                                > > invalid philosophical association will be drawn due to
                                > > their political association.
                                > > This leads into what I think is the 2nd failure of
                                > > integration with regards to libertarianism, namely
                                > > that the concept is not conjoined to a broader
                                > > epistemological/ethical framework. What is the
                                > > libertarian ethical defense of the minimalist state
                                > > and individual rights? If you look to much of the
                                > > libertarian canon, the answer will come out of a
                                > > muddle of conflicting and contradictory ethical
                                > > principles (utilitarianism, hedonism, etc.). My
                                > > thoughts are that people need to agree on
                                > > ethical/epistemological grounds, then the
                                > > politico-economic premises will be a natural
                                > > outgrowth. If we instead say, "Well, we agree on
                                > > political ends, let's worry about the philosophical
                                > > differences later", all that will result is an
                                > > incoherent, non-foundational, floating jumble--which
                                > > is exactly what libertarianism IS!!! The fact that
                                > > one must distinguish between libertarianism and
                                > > Libertarianism is itself proof of the convoluted
                                > > nature of this concept.
                                > > Chris points out that libertarians are primarily
                                > > concerned with politico-economy, and as Objectivists,
                                > > "we derive our politics and economics from a certain
                                > > philosophical framework..." This is precisely why
                                > > libertarianism is pernicious with respect to
                                > > Objectivism--it ignores the hierarchy of knowledge.
                                > > Without this hierarchical context, the individualist
                                > > political principles CANNOT be properly defended. As
                                > > further proof, read Liberty or other libertarian
                                > > publications and you will find that the writers draw
                                > > all sorts of different implications from the same
                                > > political principles. Why is this? Again, because
                                > > most of them do not operate from the same
                                > > epistemological/ethical context. Contrast this with
                                > > concept of modern liberalism, which is more clearly
                                > > understood because most of the advocates do operate
                                > > from the same epistemological/ethical context.
                                > > Rand was correct in stating that "capitalist" is
                                > > far superior to "conservative" or "libertarian". This
                                > > is primarily due to 3 reasons:
                                > > 1) The concept of capitalism is more universally
                                > > understood. I have found that most people, at least
                                > > implicitly, grasp the fact that capitalism means
                                > > private ownership and voluntary exchange (although I
                                > > had somebody tell me that fascism is a capitalist
                                > > state, HELP!!). Even though this primarily defines
                                > > one's economics, political and economic principles are
                                > > so intimately interwoven that by defining the nature
                                > > of one, you define the nature of the other.
                                > > Capitalism, understood in the correct context, can
                                > > then be easily integrated with the proper function of
                                > > the state--to protect individual rights. To give it
                                > > other functions, like the redistribution of wealth,
                                > > would violate the fundamental tenets of capitalism.
                                > > 2) Capitalism has taken on a very positive
                                > > connotation, unlike libertarianism. I am only in my
                                > > twenties, and as a result, have mostly received a
                                > > positive reception with regards to my advocacy of
                                > > capitalism. The outright vitriolic denunciation of
                                > > capitalism seems to have faded before my generation.
                                > > Except for the most closed-minded and crude liberals,
                                > > I have found that most people silently acknowledge
                                > > capitalism's superiority, at least in terms of
                                > > practical efficacy. Once they concede the practical
                                > > efficacy, it is much easier to make the link to
                                > > capitalism's moral superiority. And that, I think, is
                                > > the ultimate goal--to win people over by appeal to
                                > > ethical/epistemological fundamentals, not political
                                > > ones. As many people have stated, the cultural
                                > > victory will be won on the fundamental philosophical
                                > > battlefield, not the political one.
                                > > 3) In relation to my previous two points,
                                > > "capitalism" is much easier to integrate into a
                                > > hierarchical philosophical framework than
                                > > "libertarianism". Rand often speaks of the
                                > > mystic-altruist-collectivist axis. These concepts go
                                > > hand-in-hand, the
                                > > epistemological/ethical/politico-economic structure is
                                > > well integrated and consistent. The same is true with
                                > > regards to the reason/rational
                                > > self-interest/capitalist axis. The concepts are also
                                > > well integrated and consistent. Now if we replaced
                                > > "capitalism" in this philosophical structure with
                                > > "libertarianism", the structure is not consistent or
                                > > well-integrated. Examining the libertarian canon, one
                                > > could not reasonably declare that the writers have a
                                > > consistent reason/rational self-interest foundation.
                                > > Rand emphasized this hierarchy by stating that she was
                                > > a capitalist, but more fundamentally, an
                                > > individualist, and even more fundamentally, an
                                > > advocate of reason and objective reality. Can one
                                > > make this organic link if the concept of "capitalism"
                                > > is replaced by "libertarianism"? Examining many of
                                > > the movement's main thinkers and writers, it would be
                                > > extremely hard to make a positive case.
                                > > I don't understand why many Objectivists feel the
                                > > need to adopt the term "libertarian". Why fight for a
                                > > corrupted concept when when a much better one is
                                > > readily available? I say, leave conservatism to the
                                > > Conservatives and libertarianism to the Libertarians.
                                > > We are all Capitalists now--and that's a good thing.
                                > > Flourish,
                                > > Michael
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > __________________________________________________
                                > > Do you Yahoo!?
                                > > Yahoo! Platinum - Watch CBS' NCAA March Madness, live on your
                                > desktop!
                                > > http://platinum.yahoo.com
                              • SnowDog
                                ... Since the question was asked, I d like to affirm this postion, as well. I ve been a Libertarian since 1977, and believe it s worth defending. I even ran
                                Message 15 of 28 , Mar 27, 2003
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                                  > I chose to affect the party and align the philosophical basis with
                                  > the stated party policy, instead of letting "the pollutants" take
                                  > over.
                                  > I am convinced that, just like Rand did while defending the term
                                  > capitalism, Libertarian Party is worth saving, for it is what most of
                                  > us stand for - regardless of some individuals or defenders of the
                                  > party do or say.
                                  >
                                  > Jak Karako
                                  > LPNY state chair

                                  Since the question was asked, I'd like to affirm this postion, as well. I've
                                  been a Libertarian since 1977, and believe it's worth defending. I even ran
                                  for state office once, and got 11% of the vote. If it weren't for Ayn Rand,
                                  I would not be a Libertarian.

                                  Sincerely,

                                  Craig Haynie (Houston)
                                • Michael Moeller
                                  Hi Steve, Thanks for your feedback, although I think you have a significant misunderstanding of the crux of my argument. First of all, I did not state anywhere
                                  Message 16 of 28 , Mar 27, 2003
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                                    Hi Steve,
                                    Thanks for your feedback, although I think you have
                                    a significant misunderstanding of the crux of my
                                    argument.
                                    First of all, I did not state anywhere in my email
                                    that "libertarianism as a political position is
                                    somehow corrupted, because allegedly a lot of openly
                                    unsavory people are L.P. members". I stated nothing
                                    about LP members. My argument stems from an analysis
                                    of the small-l libertarian canon, not the sundry
                                    members of the LP.
                                    Steve writes that I fail "to properly distinguish,
                                    the difference between a political PARTY, and a
                                    philosophical POSITION." Again, I do not reference
                                    the LP; but I do see small-l libertarianism as a
                                    politico-economic position, NOT a philosophical
                                    position. And by philosophical I mean grounded in
                                    metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. If you
                                    disagree with my statement, I have a challenge for
                                    you. David Boaz, Ludwig von Mises, Douglas Casey,
                                    Nathaniel Branden, Murray Rothbard, Mark Skousen are
                                    just a few of the many libertarian thinkers and
                                    writers. My challenge is this: find a common
                                    metaphysical/epistemological/ethical foundation among
                                    these thinkers. It would be difficult even among just
                                    two of these thinkers. They often disagree
                                    considerably on political/economic theory as well.
                                    My argument was never that small-l libertarianism,
                                    properly defined, does not represent classic
                                    liberalism. I fully understand this. Many consider
                                    Locke to be the fountainhead of classic liberalism
                                    political philosophy, but does that make his ideas of
                                    pseudo-Cartesian representationalism correct and
                                    consistent with respect to his political philosophy?
                                    Certainly not. The same holds true for libertarians.
                                    There is no common philosophical base structure. My
                                    main argument was that libertarianism is a failure of
                                    INTEGRATION into a broader philosophical context, and
                                    therefore detrimental to Objectivists who adopt the
                                    position. They are, in effect, compromising their
                                    core philosophical principles to achieve an agreement
                                    concerning political ends. The causal relationship is
                                    reversed.
                                    I will draw on The Fountainhead to best illustrate
                                    my point. The modern architects destroy the unity of
                                    the buildings by compromising all sorts of
                                    conflicting architectural principles and styles, such
                                    as putting ridiculous facades and ornamentation on a
                                    modern skyscraper. Small-l libertarians are inverted
                                    modern architects. They have an attractive outer
                                    facade in the form of classical liberal politics, but
                                    a hideous foundation and skeletal structure, or in
                                    some cases, none at all. This type of philosophical
                                    building will not stand up. I used to wonder why
                                    libertarianism has not grabbed a major foot-hold since
                                    it has been around for quite awhile now. I think this
                                    lack of philosophical integration is the answer.
                                    There is no appeal to the more fundamental
                                    epistemological/ethical principles. Contrast this
                                    with the Greens in Europe who have had major success
                                    because of the appeal to the altruist moral code.
                                    NB states in "We're All Libertarians Now" that "we
                                    stand for something wider and more comprehensive:
                                    we're champions of individual rights. We're advocates
                                    of a non-coercive society." I still think this is
                                    within the politico-economic realm. I think the
                                    cultural shift will occur with an appeal to reason,
                                    objective reality, and rational self-interest. This
                                    is even wider and more comprehensive than individual
                                    rights/non-coercive society, which is really an
                                    outgrowth. So if we are talking about a concept for
                                    this wider philosophical context, libertarianism
                                    clearly is inadequate. If we are talking a concept
                                    for individual rights/political and economic freedom,
                                    ~libertarianism~ is significantly inferior to
                                    ~capitalism~ for the reasons I outlined in my previous
                                    email. In addition, the libertarian canon is loaded
                                    with philosophical baggage that is antithetical to
                                    reason/self-interest fundamentals. So for outsiders
                                    looking in on libertarianism, there is no clear and
                                    cohesive foundation--all you have is a fourth floor
                                    suspended in mid-air.
                                    In regards to your argument concerning atheism and
                                    Communism, I would first state that an automatic
                                    connection here is generally not made between the two
                                    as you suggest. It simply means lack of belief in God
                                    or a deity. It does not mean that you adopt the
                                    principles of Communism. I have known many atheists
                                    from many different philosophical foundations, and the
                                    direct connection to Communism is not automatically
                                    made. It then becomes a matter of whether that
                                    viewpoint fits into the wider philosophical context.
                                    Note here that atheism represents a contradiction in
                                    the Communist fundamentals. In Communism they do
                                    support a power higher and the subjugation of man's
                                    life, the only difference is that it is the
                                    Proletariat will instead of the supernatural. They
                                    deny man's mind, his free-will, and his
                                    value-judgments. Man's values become a fait accompli
                                    determined by his economic status. So in fact, the
                                    Communist adoption of atheism represents a diversion
                                    from their mystic/altruist/collectivist fundamentals.
                                    Flourish,
                                    Michael



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                                  • barger9999
                                    Dear Michael; You d be surprised at how much we re in agreement on! The areas of disagreement are important to focus on, here, though. Let me explain. You
                                    Message 17 of 28 , Mar 28, 2003
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                                      Dear Michael;
                                      You'd be surprised at how much we're in agreement on! The areas
                                      of disagreement are important to focus on, here, though. Let me
                                      explain.

                                      You Wrote: "My
                                      main argument was that libertarianism is a failure of
                                      INTEGRATION into a broader philosophical context, and
                                      therefore detrimental to Objectivists who adopt the
                                      position. They are, in effect, compromising their
                                      core philosophical principles to achieve an agreement
                                      concerning political ends. The causal relationship is
                                      reversed." {End of quote}.

                                      You are not making clear here, nor in the context of the rest of
                                      your message, whether you're talking about
                                      (small 'l')"libertarianism" as a philosophical position, OR, about a
                                      (small 'l') libertarian MOVEMENT. If your statement, here, is
                                      intended to refer to the MOVEMENT, then I can agree that
                                      libertarianism will not prevail, unless grounded on a rational
                                      epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. But, this is exactly what
                                      Rothbard said, in "For a New Liberty". So, you and I are in agreement
                                      with Rothbard on that point.

                                      My libertarianism is grounded on Objectivist epistemology,
                                      metaphysics, and ethics.

                                      If, however, in your above-quoted statement, you
                                      intended "libertarianism" to refer to the POSITION per se, not the
                                      lib. MOVEMENT, then your statement is a non-sequiter. (That's why I
                                      don't think you intended it that way). Substitute "atheism"
                                      for "libertarianism", in your statement. Or, substitute "egoism".

                                      ("Atheism", "libertarianism" ,and "egoism" are specific
                                      positions, each one held by a variety of people with very divergent
                                      epistemological and metaphysical views).

                                      "libertarianism" as a position, cannot be sensibly said to be " a
                                      failure of INTEGRATION into a broader philosophical context". Just
                                      like, "egoism" cannot be said to be "a failure of
                                      INTEGRATION into a broader philosophical context". Or, "atheism".

                                      So, if you were intending to imply that the libertarian MOVEMENT,
                                      (which is much broader than just the L.P.), cannot flourish without
                                      being properly grounded in a rational philosophical SYSTEM, then you
                                      and I are in agreement on that; AND you are agreeing with Rothbard.

                                      But: If someone holds the POSITION of libertarianism, but is a
                                      nihilist, and a subjectivist, they are still a (small 'l')
                                      libertarian. Just as Joseph Stalin and Ayn Rand were both atheists;
                                      and Nietzsche and Rand were both egoists.

                                      The POSITION of egoism per se, is not wrong, just because the
                                      person advocating egoism reached that position, from a different
                                      philosophical base, than Objectivists. Likewise, atheism.

                                      Neither libertarianism ,egoism, nor atheism, as philosophical
                                      positions, necessarily imply ANY one particular philosophical base.
                                      It's just that these positions cannot be PROPERLY GROUNDED on
                                      anything but an Objectivist, rational philosophical foundation.

                                      But that just means that some people's libertarianism is not
                                      properly grounded; NOT that there is something wrong with
                                      libertarianism as a POSITION, per se.

                                      This is a distinction that is crucial to make. Whether or not it
                                      is tactically wise to work within a political party with libertarians
                                      who don't share all of our philosophical base, is an interesting and
                                      good question, on which honest people can disagree.

                                      But the fact that SOME irrational people spout a classical-
                                      liberal ("libertarian") position, doesn't mean the POSITION is
                                      invalid; any more than irrational atheists spouting atheism, or
                                      irrational egoists spouting egoism, invalidates atheism or egoism, as
                                      proper positions for a rational person to hold.

                                      Thanks!
                                      Steven Barger


                                      --- In nathaniel_branden@yahoogroups.com, Michael Moeller
                                      <moeller_log@y...> wrote:
                                      > Hi Steve,
                                      > Thanks for your feedback, although I think you have
                                      > a significant misunderstanding of the crux of my
                                      > argument.
                                      > First of all, I did not state anywhere in my email
                                      > that "libertarianism as a political position is
                                      > somehow corrupted, because allegedly a lot of openly
                                      > unsavory people are L.P. members". I stated nothing
                                      > about LP members. My argument stems from an analysis
                                      > of the small-l libertarian canon, not the sundry
                                      > members of the LP.
                                      > Steve writes that I fail "to properly distinguish,
                                      > the difference between a political PARTY, and a
                                      > philosophical POSITION." Again, I do not reference
                                      > the LP; but I do see small-l libertarianism as a
                                      > politico-economic position, NOT a philosophical
                                      > position. And by philosophical I mean grounded in
                                      > metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. If you
                                      > disagree with my statement, I have a challenge for
                                      > you. David Boaz, Ludwig von Mises, Douglas Casey,
                                      > Nathaniel Branden, Murray Rothbard, Mark Skousen are
                                      > just a few of the many libertarian thinkers and
                                      > writers. My challenge is this: find a common
                                      > metaphysical/epistemological/ethical foundation among
                                      > these thinkers. It would be difficult even among just
                                      > two of these thinkers. They often disagree
                                      > considerably on political/economic theory as well.
                                      > My argument was never that small-l libertarianism,
                                      > properly defined, does not represent classic
                                      > liberalism. I fully understand this. Many consider
                                      > Locke to be the fountainhead of classic liberalism
                                      > political philosophy, but does that make his ideas of
                                      > pseudo-Cartesian representationalism correct and
                                      > consistent with respect to his political philosophy?
                                      > Certainly not. The same holds true for libertarians.
                                      > There is no common philosophical base structure. My
                                      > main argument was that libertarianism is a failure of
                                      > INTEGRATION into a broader philosophical context, and
                                      > therefore detrimental to Objectivists who adopt the
                                      > position. They are, in effect, compromising their
                                      > core philosophical principles to achieve an agreement
                                      > concerning political ends. The causal relationship is
                                      > reversed.
                                      > I will draw on The Fountainhead to best illustrate
                                      > my point. The modern architects destroy the unity of
                                      > the buildings by compromising all sorts of
                                      > conflicting architectural principles and styles, such
                                      > as putting ridiculous facades and ornamentation on a
                                      > modern skyscraper. Small-l libertarians are inverted
                                      > modern architects. They have an attractive outer
                                      > facade in the form of classical liberal politics, but
                                      > a hideous foundation and skeletal structure, or in
                                      > some cases, none at all. This type of philosophical
                                      > building will not stand up. I used to wonder why
                                      > libertarianism has not grabbed a major foot-hold since
                                      > it has been around for quite awhile now. I think this
                                      > lack of philosophical integration is the answer.
                                      > There is no appeal to the more fundamental
                                      > epistemological/ethical principles. Contrast this
                                      > with the Greens in Europe who have had major success
                                      > because of the appeal to the altruist moral code.
                                      > NB states in "We're All Libertarians Now" that "we
                                      > stand for something wider and more comprehensive:
                                      > we're champions of individual rights. We're advocates
                                      > of a non-coercive society." I still think this is
                                      > within the politico-economic realm. I think the
                                      > cultural shift will occur with an appeal to reason,
                                      > objective reality, and rational self-interest. This
                                      > is even wider and more comprehensive than individual
                                      > rights/non-coercive society, which is really an
                                      > outgrowth. So if we are talking about a concept for
                                      > this wider philosophical context, libertarianism
                                      > clearly is inadequate. If we are talking a concept
                                      > for individual rights/political and economic freedom,
                                      > ~libertarianism~ is significantly inferior to
                                      > ~capitalism~ for the reasons I outlined in my previous
                                      > email. In addition, the libertarian canon is loaded
                                      > with philosophical baggage that is antithetical to
                                      > reason/self-interest fundamentals. So for outsiders
                                      > looking in on libertarianism, there is no clear and
                                      > cohesive foundation--all you have is a fourth floor
                                      > suspended in mid-air.
                                      > In regards to your argument concerning atheism and
                                      > Communism, I would first state that an automatic
                                      > connection here is generally not made between the two
                                      > as you suggest. It simply means lack of belief in God
                                      > or a deity. It does not mean that you adopt the
                                      > principles of Communism. I have known many atheists
                                      > from many different philosophical foundations, and the
                                      > direct connection to Communism is not automatically
                                      > made. It then becomes a matter of whether that
                                      > viewpoint fits into the wider philosophical context.
                                      > Note here that atheism represents a contradiction in
                                      > the Communist fundamentals. In Communism they do
                                      > support a power higher and the subjugation of man's
                                      > life, the only difference is that it is the
                                      > Proletariat will instead of the supernatural. They
                                      > deny man's mind, his free-will, and his
                                      > value-judgments. Man's values become a fait accompli
                                      > determined by his economic status. So in fact, the
                                      > Communist adoption of atheism represents a diversion
                                      > from their mystic/altruist/collectivist fundamentals.
                                      > Flourish,
                                      > Michael
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
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                                    • Michael Moeller
                                      Hi Steve, I will try to be more clear in my formulation. Again as I stated numerous times in my previous emails, I accept libertarianism when taken in the
                                      Message 18 of 28 , Mar 28, 2003
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                                        Hi Steve,
                                        I will try to be more clear in my formulation.
                                        Again as I stated numerous times in my previous
                                        emails, I accept libertarianism when taken in the
                                        political context of meaning a minimalist state and
                                        individual rights. Taken in this narrow political
                                        context I never stated that there is something with
                                        libertarianism per se, as suggest you suggest. And in
                                        this context, my argument was that ~capitalism~ is a
                                        far superior term due to its acknowledged historical
                                        success, its historically acquired positive
                                        connotation, the fact that it is more universally
                                        understood, etc. In summary, taken as a political
                                        position, ~libertarianism~ is valid, but inferior to
                                        ~capitalism~.
                                        Next I examined ~libertarianism~ from the more
                                        fundamental philosophical point of view. I did this in
                                        answer to those who argue that ~libertarianism~ should
                                        be used instead of ~capitalism~ because it is wider
                                        and more comprehensive philosophically. Now when you
                                        examine the libertarian canon from a deeper
                                        philosophical point of view instead of just the
                                        political one, you find it IS a failure of
                                        integration. The main thinkers and writers are all
                                        over the map when they try to ground it in a
                                        philosophic base. You make a false dichotomy here
                                        when you state that I do not properly distinguish
                                        between the libertarian MOVEMENT and the libertarian
                                        POSITION. My question would be, how do you divorce
                                        the movement (which I take to mean the main writers
                                        and thinkers of that particular ideology) from the
                                        positions they advocate?
                                        I guess I can best illustrate my point by using
                                        another example. Say I am a regular person who finds
                                        myself in agreement with the political positions of
                                        libertarianism. In order to get a better
                                        understanding of the basis of libertarianism, I decide
                                        to read some books by prominent libertarian authors,
                                        subscribe to libertarian publications, and so forth.
                                        What would I learn about the ethical basis of
                                        libertarianism? How about the epistemological basis?
                                        I agree that taken just politically, there is
                                        nothing wrong with libertarianism per se. However,
                                        one's philosophy does not represent a grab-bag of
                                        positions--atheism grabbed from here, libertarianism
                                        grabbed from there, and so on. Philosophically, one
                                        starts with objective reality and reason, then one
                                        works up to rational selfishess, and then on to
                                        individual rights and voluntarism. You must observe
                                        the hierarchy and build from the ground up, not from
                                        the top down.
                                        In short, what I am really saying is
                                        Objectivists need not unify with libertarians because
                                        stated political ends may be the same. ~Capitalism~
                                        is more than adequate to cover the political/economic
                                        position and adopting ~libertarianism~ will only muddy
                                        the waters. Not because ~libertarianism~ is an
                                        invalid political position per se, but when the
                                        philosophic context of its main writers and thinkers
                                        is observed, you get a hash of conflicts and
                                        contradictions.
                                        Objectivists should just be objectivists, and when
                                        advocating a political/economic position, let's make
                                        it ~capitalism~, not ~libertarianism~.
                                        Flourish,
                                        Michael

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                                      • Michael Moeller
                                        Steve, I more thing I wanted to say. You write: If someone holds the POSITION of libertarianism, but is a nihilist, and a subjectivist, they are still a
                                        Message 19 of 28 , Mar 28, 2003
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                                          Steve,
                                          I more thing I wanted to say. You write:
                                          "If someone holds the POSITION of libertarianism, but
                                          is a nihilist, and a subjectivist, they are still a
                                          (small 'l') libertarian. Just as Joseph Stalin and Ayn
                                          Rand were both atheists; and Nietzsche and Rand were
                                          both egoists."
                                          Most emphatically NO. To claim that one can be a
                                          subjectivist and at the same time a libertarian (which
                                          I will take to mean an advocate of individual
                                          rights/non-coercive state) is to claim a
                                          contradiction. In stating this, you are cliaming that
                                          a subjectivist can at the same time be an advocate of
                                          objective reality. Notice one of Rand's critiques of
                                          Nietzche (actually it might have been NB's essay) is
                                          that his egoism is not really egoism in the true sense
                                          of the word, but rather an altered form of altruism.
                                          One cannot just make a grab-bag of positions and
                                          then say they accept all of the positions equally; and
                                          thus can be considered an advocate of all the stated
                                          positions. One must observe the philosophical
                                          hierarchy. To the extent there are contradictions in
                                          the specific positions, the most fundamental
                                          philosophic principles/positions win. Contradictions
                                          do not exist in reality--which includes the
                                          philosophic content of one's mind. From the quote
                                          above, your subjectivist is still a subjectivist, the
                                          libertarian position will represent a contradiction to
                                          his subjectivism.
                                          Thanks,
                                          Michael

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