Tuesday, October 31, 2006

To Vote Dem of Repub? Part 2

In my last post on the election "To Vote Dem or Repub" I said another post would be coming. In that first post I linked to Dr. Leonard Piekoff's article at Capitalism Mag. and Gus van Horn's post.

Since then there has been numerous discussions in Objectivist circles. I highly recommend the articles at The Objective Standard blog Principles in Practice by John Lewis and Craig Biddle. Also see Diana Hsieh's in depth article at Noodle Food and for more thoughts, checkout the lengthy comments section.

I haven't modified my original position much. I'm in agreement 99% with Dr. Piekoff and will vote heavily Democratic this election. But beyond that I'll be voting for gridlock. We don't have gridlock now because Republicans control everything. Perhaps things wouldn't be so bad if we had a little more of it. The Repubs however have not earned the right to be re-elected and are bending over backwards to adopt the altruist, collectivist, socialist policies of the liberal Democrats.

I prefer gridlock because I really don't want the Dems to have all the power. With all the power I believe they will immediatly start their censorship schemes one step at a time. There are two issues over which the Dems scare me. One is censorship and the other is nationalization of industry which they will call for as soon as there is a recession while Dems are in control. They will cry that capitalism and free markets have failed and it's time for the government to take control ala FDR and beyond.

It is this kind of evasion and blame game that will not result in the American people putting the blame for Democratic disasters squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats as some think will happen. I'm not so sure. It didn't happen in the 30s. Even though some intellectuals pointed to the facts, the public followed FDR anyway.

So, I will vote for Dems this election to get Repubs out of total control. I might even vote for Dems in 08 for president. But I think gridlock will buy the most time for Objectivism to grow. If anyone can show me how gridlock is a bad idea, well, I will consider it.

8 comments:

Myrhaf said...

I put up a few posts on this issue at my blog. Gridlock might not be bad for the next few years, but I don't think a Dem congress will restrain Bush's spending. If anything, we'll see an orgy of spending as both parties go nuts trying to one up each other. "Hey, we're more compassionate than they are -- we'll spend more of your money!"

Billy Beck said...

The rate of "growth" in Objectivism is not going to match the advance of socialism in your lifetime. This is the principle defect in the Objectivist assertion that "it's earlier than you think". Very recently, I have seen vague intimations here and there that Objectivism -- or a more general libertarian line of thought -- will require demonstration of principles in order to illuminate them for people not aware or convinced, and I think this is correct. I have for a long time. Notice, however, that this would be a considerable modification of the traditional Objectivist position that philosophy must lead politics. It would be about certain specific elements of (say) Objectivism applied as politics in order to demonstrate them.

Consider the implications of "Atlas Shrugged". I know he's not really popular in othrodox Objectivist circles, but Chris Sciabarra was absolutely right when he pointed out that, "The most subversive political implication of 'Atlas Shrugged', is that individual freedom is possible only to those who are strong enough, psychologically and morally, to withdraw their sanction from any system that coercively thrives off their productive energies." To my mind, the most broadly practical application of this central idea in America would be mass civil disobedience aimed at taxation, with the aim of starving this government into submission.

I know, better than most, what this entails. It's a very hard thing, and especially in the beginning. However, it would also be a very good way of focusing and intensifying a properly moral examination of political principles in this country.

In any case, I maintain that the statement of my opening sentence is incontrvertibly true.

"Gridlock" is not going to buy time. The descent is happening far, far faster -- through actual socialist political practice as well as active culture of socialist principles in rising generations -- than development of any sort of philosophy of freedom. Absent something dramatic, we're just never going to catch up that way.

Mike N said...

Myraf: great to see you blogging again. I visited your blog earlier and read all your posts.

I agree that I too don't know how long gridlock will work but I can't see anything else to shoot for at this time.

Mike N said...

Billy B. Your comment is depressing. You do however make some good points. I too have wondered how the growth of Objectivism could compete with the public school system turning out good little socialists by the hundreds of thousands every year. But Objectivism has a few things going for it. Reason is on its side. Also, I don't think Objectivism has to keep up with the public school system in terms of overall numbers. It just needs to get itself into places of influence like universities where it can produce rational teachers.

I've never read anything by Mr. Sciabarra except for a few posts at SOLO but I don't agree that there is a subversive implication to Atlas Shrugged in the way he put it. It is not necessary for everyone to be psychologically strong enough to resist the sanction of the victim vice. The leaders and intellectuals need to be so and the public will follow. Our founders were about the only ones who thought the way they did. But they presented reasoned arguements and the public followed them for the most part.

The tax rate needs to be higher to make civil disobedience plausable and I don't think Objectivists are large enough in numbers to instigate such a thing. But I do see objectivists supporting such demonstrations if they happen just as they supported the recent outrage at the Kelo decision.

I don't quite know what you mean by "certain specific elements of (say) Objectivism applied as politics to demonstrate them." Can you give an example of this?

As long as altruism is the moral code underlying today's politics, trying to enumerate political principles based on the moral code of rational self interest just won't sell.

I do think this country will get worse before it gets better. I see nationalization of some industries a real possibility. But I also see the ensuing shortages causing a backlash. It's hard to say how this will all work out. But Objectivists can funnel such backlashes in the right direction.

In the short term I am pessimistic. In the long term, optimistic.

Billy Beck said...

"Your comment is depressing."

So what? I know it is. I'm not enjoying any of this any more than you are, but that has no bearing on the facts.

"But Objectivism has a few things going for it. Reason is on its side."

Reason hasn't been on the side of anything authentically American, in political terms, for at least 125 years, depending on where and how one draws the lines. Do you understand? That means that something on the order of five generations have come and gone, just about completely impervious to reason. Never under-estimate the power of delusion, Mike. Objectivism is, in the broad stroke, an almost impossible challenge to the depth and solidity of political delusions prevalent here, by now.

"It is not necessary for everyone to be psychologically strong enough to resist the sanction of the victim vice. The leaders and intellectuals need to be so and the public will follow."

Look: that would only be a detail of practice of what Sciabarra is pointing out about "Atlas". In the end, the theory and practice of AmSoc would have been effectively subverted.

"I don't quite know what you mean by 'certain specific elements of (say) Objectivism applied as politics to demonstrate them.' Can you give an example of this?"

There are lots of them. The whole idea of "the sanction of the victim" -- and its sumarry withdrawal -- is obvious in what Sciabarra said about "Atlas". It's like pulling tiger-teeth to get just about anyone abroad this culture to even talk about it, but a serious practical demonstration of it would make that examination unavoidable, at large.

B&N said...

To All,

Mr. Beck's points here regarding Objectivism, why it's not working (the reality, not the principle) and why socialism is advancing regardless of this silly concept of "gridlock" can be summed up to nothing more than blind ignorance.

Sorry, I just can't buy the line:

"It is not necessary for everyone to be psychologically strong enough to resist the sanction of the victim vice. The leaders and intellectuals need to be so and the public will follow"

I must part ways with this notion and simply state that it is imperitive that the electorate be better prepared than this. The general populace is, from my perspective, far too stupid to vote for anything other than rank socialism, wrapped up in a slick, shiny package for them by Hillary RamRod.

They've been programmed now, since at least the 1930's, that entitlements are OK, and that the rich, corporations and government should be the ones "paying" for it all.

It's just digusting, and I don't see it going away anytime soon.

Oh, and the cowardice thing, Billy? You're spot on with that sir, and I wouldn't begrudge anyone in the future from desecrating our graves because of it.

Mike N said...

I don't agree with my two plain talking commenters Billy Beck and B&N that Objectivism doesn't stand a chance and neither does freedom unless Atlas starts to Shrug now via massive demonstrations of civil disobedience.

But demonstrations are not an arguement. All they will do is get you publicity which would be fine in a rational society, but given that today's media is largly anti-American, what kind of publicity do you think you will get?

Witholding tax money will get you smeared as greedy, selfish, heartless, unwilling to pay your fair share and so on. You guys both said the electorate is too dumbed down to accept a rational arguement. So, what makes you think they will sympathize with your position rather than the media's? Your position is untenable.

Your attack on gridlock is perhaps my fault for not being clear enough. I do not advocate gridlock or divided government as an ideal or goal or policy. It is only a stop-gap, bandaid measure for this election. Maybe next election I will advocate something else. I see gridlock as two riflemen in a firing squad fighting each other for the priviledge of shooting you. Naturally, you want to keep them fighting as long as possible so you can sneak away to a Galt's Gulch somewhere or perhaps persuade the powers that be to disband the firing squad. But if one of them wins, you're dead. Get it? Dead.

You both suggested that Objectivism can't possibly influence today's dumbed down population. Quite true. It has no desire to even try. Objectivism is concentrating on youth before they are mentally cripled by the school system and it is having success. Objectivism is planning long range.

It may very well be that America will have to collapse into chaos before it can be rebuilt. I don't know.

Since you gentlemen are for political action now and I am not, we'll have to agree to disagree. There'll be time for "I told you so's" after the election.

B&N said...

MikeN,

I agree with some of what you have to say here:

"demonstrations are not an arguement. All they will do is get you publicity which would be fine in a rational society, but given that today's media is largly anti-American, what kind of publicity do you think you will get?"

You're definitely getting to something here by saying this. The end result of a well educated populace is that this type of propoganda, "publicity" as you say, can, and will be, soundly rejected as the garbage it is.

I still don't hold much hope for it, though. It takes individuals to make choices about educating themselves, reading, and thinking, and I mean critical thinking, about this stuff. Yes, politics, but other things too. Hell everything.

Once one figures out how to do it, and maybe more importantly, why it's so important, things, ideas, start to become extremely clear.

That is why I can't advocate voting for the Donks. They have built their foundations on nothing but lies. All you need to do is look at who they hold up as their demagogue...That lying bastard from Arkansas.

Sorry. I may have to hold my nose to do it, but it's still elephant for me.