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Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

Seventies? I mean they may have lead the intellectual groundwork for it then, but Reagan and Thatcher are for me more like 1980s monsters - may they roast in hell, if any such place exists.

The strategy predates taking power. IIRC James Buchanan at least even started working on this in the 1970s (edit: Fuck, wasn't it even the 1960s? Buchanan got outraged after the 1954 Brown case so he decided to destroy public education as early as the 1950s).

Edited by Rippounet

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1 hour ago, Rippounet said:

The strategy predates taking power. IIRC James Buchanan at least even started working on this in the 1970s (edit: Fuck, wasn't it even the 1960s? Buchanan got outraged after the 1954 Brown case so he decided to destroy public education as early as the 1950s).

I'm sorry, but I have no idea who this James Buchanan is you're referring to here?  When I see that name I think of the president before Lincoln.  Googling it, I still can't find who you're talking about.  Anyway, not sure I've ever suggested this to you Ripp, but if you haven't read it, you should take a gander of Why Americans Hate Welfare.

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3 minutes ago, DMC said:

I'm sorry, but I have no idea who this James Buchanan is you're referring to here?  When I see that name I think of the president before Lincoln.  Googling it, I still can't find who you're talking about.  Anyway, not sure I've ever suggested this to you Ripp, but if you haven't read it, you should take a gander of Why Americans Hate Welfare.

He meant Pat Buchanan real piece of work. I didn't notice the mistake with the first name, as in I am generally not good with names anyway. I assume Rippounet also just remembered the name Buchanan and just mindlessly attached the name James, as he also had the name of the former POTUS spooking somewhere around the back of his head.

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6 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

He meant Pat Buchanan

Ah, that makes sense thanks.  Pat didn't really become influential until 1968.  But yeah, his strain of racist "populist" conservatism is certainly emergent with Trump and all, through the entire western world.

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8 minutes ago, DMC said:

Ah, that makes sense thanks.  Pat didn't really become influential until 1968.  But yeah, his strain of racist "populist" conservatism is certainly emergent with Trump and all, through the entire western world.

But he was alive during President Buchanan's Administration, so you gotta give him that.

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Heh.  I actually always kinda enjoyed Pat.  The man got wasted with Hunter Fucking Thompson.

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So clearly you're in favor of a 100% inheritance and estate tax, right? And abolishing all private primary schools, right?

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Well he certainly would be in favor of taking Bender's advice:

 

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Posted (edited)

Ol' Ayn Rand. She couldn't write worth a shit, if her life depended on it. I think she might have been in some contest with post modernist about who could write the worst. Or who could write the longest to get to a point. Remember, Galt's speech? Yeah, that was a real snooze fest.

She hated libertarians (but who doesn't?) because allegedly they stole her ideas without giving her credit. 

Never one to lack in pretentiousness, Rand evidently tried to justify her smoking habit with some trash like, "a lit cigarette symbolized the fire in my mind. the fire of creative ideas", what a bunch of silly horseshit .  Back when I smoked, I would have said because I'm addicted to nicotine.

She had lots of opinions about economics, too bad she didn't know shit about it.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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1 hour ago, DMC said:

I'm sorry, but I have no idea who this James Buchanan is you're referring to here?  When I see that name I think of the president before Lincoln.  Googling it, I still can't find who you're talking about.  Anyway, not sure I've ever suggested this to you Ripp, but if you haven't read it, you should take a gander of Why Americans Hate Welfare.

1 hour ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

He meant Pat Buchanan real piece of work. I didn't notice the mistake with the first name, as in I am generally not good with names anyway. I assume Rippounet also just remembered the name Buchanan and just mindlessly attached the name James, as he also had the name of the former POTUS spooking somewhere around the back of his head.

American economist James M. Buchanan was the founder of the Virginia school of economics and the 1986 nobel prize winner for his work on "public choice theory." He was also a president of the Mont Pelerin society and a fellow of the Cato institute (duh!).

I can't claim to know him that well though his name is known to my friends who studied economics. Credit goes to @Zorral who IIRC recommended historian Nancy MacLean's book about him to me a year or two ago. If you want to know what this is all about, here's a summary:
https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america
Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean

MacLean's work came under heavy fire and she was accused of cherry-picking facts and sources to build her narrative (unsurprising, given her work). The core of her research however, that is, reading Buchanan's personal letters (especially those exchanged with the Kochs) was never questioned as far as I know. In other words, Buchanan seems to have been a key intellectual agent of libertarian ideals and policies as early as the 1950s and throughout the 1960s.
What McLean really brings to the table is showing how deliberate the attack on "big government" was almost from the beginning. Imho this also helps understand the work of right-wing think tanks like the Cato institute or the Heritage Foundation that emerged in the 1970s.
It seems we can credit Buchanan with the strategy to destroy a public service that most of us know well. IIRC McLean dedicated a chapter to it (or most of a chapter) in her book. From a Guardian article:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/despot-disguise-democracy-james-mcgill-buchanan-totalitarian-capitalism

Quote

The papers Nancy MacLean discovered show that Buchanan saw stealth as crucial. He told his collaborators that “conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential”. Instead of revealing their ultimate destination, they would proceed by incremental steps. For example, in seeking to destroy the social security system, they would claim to be saving it, arguing that it would fail without a series of radical “reforms”. (The same argument is used by those attacking the NHS). Gradually they would build a “counter-intelligentsia”, allied to a “vast network of political power” that would become the new establishment.

MacLean probably exaggerated Buchanan's role and influence a bit, but her work is still fascinating. She's not the only one of course, other historians have worked on the right-wing networks that eventually brought us Reagan and Thatcher. All in all, how right-wing strategies emerged is well documented, and helps explain how we get to the point where we have this thread.
 

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2 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

American economist James M. Buchanan was the founder of the Virginia school of economics and the 1986 nobel prize winner for his work on "public choice theory." He was also a president of the Mont Pelerin society and a fellow of the Cato institute (duh!).

Ah.  I did not see him in the disambiguation when I searched for James Buchanan.  Needed the M, I think.  Good to know.

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11 minutes ago, DMC said:

Ah.  I did not see him in the disambiguation when I searched for James Buchanan.  Needed the M, I think.  Good to know.

Ah, sorry about that, I have to confess I've never quite gotten used to the importance of middle names in the US.

2 hours ago, DMC said:

Anyway, not sure I've ever suggested this to you Ripp, but if you haven't read it, you should take a gander of Why Americans Hate Welfare.

This looks like a great read, thanks, will try to find the time. It uses the same central thesis as Ian Haney Lopez's Dogwhistle Politics. I guess Lopez must have based himself on Gilen's work about public opinion and image for his work on Republican strategies.

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13 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

It uses the same central thesis as Ian Haney Lopez's Dogwhistle Politics. I guess Lopez must have based himself on Gilen's work about public opinion and image for his work on Republican strategies.

Cool.  And yeah, a quick look at Lopez' work suggests he was inspired by Gilens' book.

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10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

The heart of the matter is that the gist of your ideology, your "philosophy" as you grandly call it, is that the rich are rich because they deserve it and the poor are poor because they're slackers. There's no vision for humanity as a whole, just a form of elitism that attempts to disguise itself as meritocratism.

I think this is an oversimplification. It's been a while since I've read Atlas Shrugged, but if I remember correctly, one of the most despised characters in the story is the heiress of Galt's former employer who is spending the leisure time granted to her by her inheritance to delve into (and spout gibberish from) some nonsensical version of Eastern religions. Similarly, the capitalists who ally themselves with the government are also bad guys. So it's not that all rich people deserve to be rich -- quite a few of them do not -- but only the entrepreneurial sort.

As to whether or not it is workable... in my opinion, the best objection to Objectivism is pithily summarized by ye olde Angry Flower comic. For every John Galt (or Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or whoever), there must be hundreds of thousands of people doing the work that enables their entrepreneurial endeavors -- not just the people who are directly employed by the visionary's company, but everyone who provides them food, water, raw materials, transportation, etc. etc.

Thus, it is not workable today (nor was it at any time in the past). However, the Angry Flower comic also points out a way in which it can be made to work: if automation can be taken to its logical limit, capital will have no further need for labor and the social contract can be rewritten. Depending on who is doing the rewriting, we could end up with something like Objectivism.

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1 hour ago, Altherion said:

As to whether or not it is workable... in my opinion, the best objection to Objectivism is pithily summarized by ye olde Angry Flower comic. For every John Galt (or Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or whoever), there must be hundreds of thousands of people doing the work that enables their entrepreneurial endeavors -- not just the people who are directly employed by the visionary's company, but everyone who provides them food, water, raw materials, transportation, etc. etc.

if automation can be taken to its logical limit, capital will have no further need for labor and the social contract can be rewritten. Depending on who is doing the rewriting, we could end up with something like Objectivism.

Indeed, the very notion of a self-made anyone is a totally bullshit fallacy, but is used to perpetuate the notion that the Bezos's of this world actually deserve the obscene riches they've been able to accumulate.

Or we could end up with something like 

Or is this the same as objectivism?

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I'm sorry, but I have a very hard time taking anyone that's actually read Ayn Rand and not realized rather instantly that she's just full of entire drivel seriously.  I had to read about John Galt.  I had to read and watch Fountainhead.  They make Lucas' prequel trilogy look like literary and cinematic genius.

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1 hour ago, DMC said:

I'm sorry, but I have a very hard time taking anyone that's actually read Ayn Rand and not realized rather instantly that she's just full of entire drivel seriously.  I had to read about John Galt.  I had to read and watch Fountainhead.  They make Lucas' prequel trilogy look like literary and cinematic genius.

Hey, I liked the prequels, Palpatine's convincing arrogance and the Anakin/Obiwan duel were cool to watch. Also, did you watch the animated version of Clone Wars? Those B1 droids were adorable.

I know a lot of aspects in Atlas Shrugged were rather forced and  black and white, but she does have a point. Rand and her family lost their pharmacy business during the Bolshevik revolution. She is criticizing something she has suffered first hand under. 

 Moreover, her Pyramid of Ability theory makes perfect sense:

When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making, for the work of the scientist who discovered the laws that went into the making of that product, for the work of the philosopher who taught men how to think and whom you spend your time denouncing.

The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time. If you worked as a blacksmith in the mystics’ Middle Ages, the whole of your earning capacity would consist of an iron bar produced by your hands in days and days of effort. How many tons of rail do you produce per day if you work for Hank Rearden? Would you dare to claim that the size of your pay check was created solely by your physical labor and that those rails were the product of your muscles? The standard of living of that blacksmith is all that your muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden.

In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the “competition” between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of “exploitation” for which you have damned the strong.

 - Galt's Speech

Thus, those who provide the innovative skill, risk their capital, have the know how and implement the managerial organization create and sustain the umbrella of opportunity that gives regular workers a job/pay they would not otherwise be able to get on their own. 

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What a load of shit! The man with the intellect can achieve nothing without the factory worker. The reality is symbiosis and interdependence not this bullshit about people with ideas being the only people of worth in the world and everyone else being bloodsucking leeches.

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My favourite libertarian "example" that I have seen trotted out now and again is Medieval Iceland. Never mind that the economic system was not analogous to modern capitalism by any stretch of the imagination, have these people ever actually read Njal's Saga? Do they honestly want to live in a society with that level of bloodthirsty nutters and violence?

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