Tag Archives: philosophy

Russell’s Rules vs. Today’s Government Rule

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Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

This week, on Openculture.com, I stumbled onto a reference of a Bertrand Russell column from 1951. In the New York Times Magazine article, Russell shared his “10 Commandments for a Healthy Democracy”. Now, dismissing for a moment whether he was a classical liberal, a neo-liberal, an English liberal, or American liberal, I would like to allow the commandments to stand on their own.

I propose to take Russell’s rules, and use them to give a simple zero to two grading scale for each of the majorities in the houses of Congress, and for the President and his administration. Along with the grades, I will also list the most significant reasons for assigning the grades that I have. At the end, I will tally the scores, and reveal who has been the most misguided, and most ignorant when it came to Russell’s advice. So, here is Russell’s commandments vs. the United States government’s behavior:

1. “Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

Senate Dems: Senate Democrats were positive that Obamacare was a brilliant idea, and Democrats’ self assuredness led them to believe that the benefits Americans received would help them overlook the massive costs. (0 points)
Obama: “The shovel-ready jobs weren’t so shovel-ready…” (0 points)
House GOP: Republicans were sure that the 2012 election would end in a Romney win, and then, with their increased majority in the House, they could begin repealing Obamacare… (0 points)

2. “Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

Senate Dems: 1450+ days without any budget, while they (Harry Reid especially) claim to hold solutions to the miserable economic conditions. (1 point)
Obama: Benghazi (-2 points)
House GOP: John Boehner claims constantly to hold the line, and be ready to tell the president and Reid that he will not budge. However, after closed-door meetings, he seems to sing a different tune. Just what magic happens behind those doors? (0 points)

3. “Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to do so.

Senate Dems: As Rand Paul held a 13-hour filibuster, in order to get definitive answers on the domestic drone program, Harry Reid sought to quash the filibuster. (0 points)
Obama: Obama was famously quoted, when referring to a great number of his fellow Americans in the Midwest as “get[ting]bitter and they cling to their guns or religion.” (o points)
House GOP: Speaker Boehner infamously warned fellow Republican Congressmen that he was paying close attention to their voting records, and that he will be “…watching all [their] votes.” (0 points)

4. “When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

Senate Dems: Harry Reid claims that the Senate needs legislation that has passed through the House so that they may vote on it in the Senate…While he uses his power as majority leader to table legislation that has passed the House. (0 points)
Obama: President Obama has expressed his want to work without Congress, and he has already signed 147 executive orders. (0 points)
House GOP: Paul Ryan has repeatedly offered a budget that has both cuts and overhauls Medicare, and balances in ten years – but it doesn’t seem able to receive consideration from Democrats. (1 point)

5. “Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

Senate Dems: In the Senate, rumblings have been heard to force changes for filibusters, and  again, I mention Harry Reid’s attempt to override the recent Rand Paul filibuster. (2 points)
Obama: Obama’s czars and heavily regulating EPA, not to mention his non-recess appointments of NLRB officials, reveal his penchant for thumbing his nose at authority and rule. (2 points)
House GOP: John Boehner famously responded to a Harry Reid jab, wherein Reid intimated Boehner was acting like a dictator – “Go f**k yourself.” (2 points)

6. “Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

Senate Dems: Harry Reid’s unwillingness to even allow any up-or-down votes on legislation from the House is within his powers as majority leader (setting the calendar for discussing legislation). (0 points)
Obama: Criticized for purposely avoiding certain media networks, and giving more interviews with networks seen as friendly to his agenda, Obama has used power and access to control many narratives. (1 point)
House GOP: John Boehner’s December removal of Tea Party caucus members from committees, after their election to Congress specifically to usher in a different, more responsible way of spending, really seemed to dismiss the voters’ wishes. (1 point)

7. “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

Senate Dems: Senator Diane Feinstein takes the cake here, with her hugely over reaching plan to seize and ban this, that, and the other gun, even as such plans fly directly against the 2nd Amendment. (2 points)
Obama: Joe Biden, famously explaining that the way to get out of debt, was simply to increase spending. (2 points)
House GOP: With his last, and arguably most successful presidential bid, Representative Ron Paul has pushed many ideas to the forefront of American political thought. From illustrating the dangers of fiat currency, to the arbitrary nature of Federal Reserve policy, even though he has retired from the House, he will continue to tour college campuses, and share his ideals. (1 point)

8. “Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

Senate Dems: Perhaps finally realizing how yet another tax may hinder the economy, in December, 2012, 18 Senators and Senators-elect petitioned Harry Reid for a moratorium on the Obamacare tax on medical devices, the repeal of which, had previously been decried as a Republican concern. (2 points)
Obama: As the president has yet to offer any really intelligent dissent to, or passive agreement with much of anything, he receives no points. (incomplete)
House GOP: While there has been much rhetoric bandied about regarding Obamacare, much of which has been intelligent dissent, it has also been coupled with criticisms describing exactly why the healthcare overhaul will cause more pain than benefit. (1 point)

9. “Be scrupulously truthful, even when the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

Senate Dems: Harry Reid had a very credible (but never named) source that said Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in ten years. (0 points)
Obama: The president has shared varying reasons for the Benghazi attack, and the explanation has been hazy on why military backup was never sent to the compound to rescue the Americans who were under siege. Over 30 witnesses are now being kept quiet and cannot share their experiences during the Benghazi attacks. (0 points)
House GOP: House Republicans said they had enough debt ceiling compromises. The time for dealing was over. Boehner et al. had drawn their line in the sand. Then…the debt ceiling was raised. Again. (0 points)

10. “Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Senate Dems: The Senate seems to have little ethical or moral dilemma when it comes to raising taxes on the 1%, or any other income brackets. Without consideration, taking more from those who have more just makes sense. (0 points)
Obama: Obama has frequently compared himself to Abraham Lincoln – despite Lincoln’s presidency spanning with one of the darkest times in American history. Obama seems to relate more to the Lincoln legend than the actual Lincoln presidency. (1 point)
House GOP: The House leadership at times seems befuddled with the left’s ability to command so much of the media, and they definitely seem envious of media’s power to create and direct narratives, neglecting to consider the ability that the media still holds to also destroy at their whim. (0 points)

So, using the arbitrary scoring system, and examples that I have chosen, the final tally is as follows. Out of a possible total of 20 points:
Senate Dems: 7
Obama & his administration: 4
House GOP: 6
Despite their best efforts to score at a “healthy democracy’s” level, all three show themselves to be quite anemic. It is interesting to note that without the president being penalized for the ongoing Benghazi scandal and cover-up, he would be tied with the House GOP. They all appear unable to follow Russell’s guidelines, and, in what should come as a shock to no one, they look ineffectual and like failures.

So, readers – what do you think? What examples, scandals, and failings would you use to illustrate how the government has neglected to follow Russell’s commandments? More importantly – how would you score them? I am looking forward to some interesting and impassioned responses.

The Sole Moral Imperative And The Inherent Amorality of Collectivist Moral Philosophy

“Be fruitful and multiply.” That is God’s imperative to those creations that it made in its image. It is the sole moral imperative. In this piece I will be using the idea of being fruitful specifically, and will be using the biblical idea of fruitfulness as a synonym for Aristotle’s definition of happiness. Aristotle defines happiness as:

“Happiness (or flourishing or living well) is a complete and sufficient good. This implies (a) that it is desired for itself, (b) that it is not desired for the sake of anything else, (c) that it satisfies all desire and has no evil mixed in with it, and (d) that it is stable.” As provided by Notre Dame University Philosophy Department.

It is very important to understand what Aristotle means when he says happiness. It isn’t the personal metaphysical idea of happiness but an objective state of “flourishing,” and cannot be because of or via things that are evil. One is not happy if they are a trial lawyer for the mob, or a thief; basic arguments against individualist understanding of morality will claim that that is in fact the case. Although the argument is not accurate it is still incredibly effective. Aristotle’s view of ethics is that virtue begets morality and must be taught at a young age and developed. The more virtuous the person the more likely they are to act moral.

Nature is prescriptive. Nature applies directly to humans, even within human relationships and groups of humans. Even with thought and education and technology, nature is still prescriptive. We have to understand that bad things will happen, that we cannot prevent all of those things and that we exist within a larger natural system that acts on its own accord in response to stimuli just as we do. It is pure arrogance (Satan’s sin that caused god to cast him out from heaven) to suppose that we can create a system better than nature creates.

Any ideology that does not put primacy on the original moral imperative and the virtues that it requires is inherently amoral. The individual, or more accurately, every individual must take primacy. This not to say that individuals who hold collectivist moral ideas are themselves immoral, but their ideas are at their base immoral because they deny the sole moral imperative, which makes the use of said collectivist morality for evil not only possible but inevitable.

Aristotle’s ethics are virtue based. The virtuous individual is much more likely to be moral. Aristotle’s ethics are general purposefully, with the understanding that in this field even the best generalization are only accurate most of the time. For Aristotle’s ideas on ethics to work they must be extolled and taught to the individual from a young age. One can know what is right, but not do what is right, so in many ways teaching what is moral or not moral in a situation is basically irrelevant. If one understands the unfathomable dynamics and transient nature of reality, one would understand that no situation is completely the same. By giving individuals the virtues to both know and do what is right, you avoid the problems of simply teaching what is right. You also avoid, as a teacher, the possibility of being wrong, or simply unduly swayed in regards to the specific situation. This view of ethics and morality is the most practical and the most positive because it is from an educational perspective rather than a dictatorial perspective. Aristotle also contends in his basic moral understanding that things that are the most good are good in and of themselves:

“we call that which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing, and therefore we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else.” –Nicomachean Ethics I

Aristotle’s predecessor Plato had a similar virtue based view of ethics but differed from Aristotle in that he linked it directly to his political view, therein negating the positive effects of virtue-based ethics. Plato, while he believed that virtue begets morality, thought that there must be some sort of educated scholastic elite to teach the others, and that the individuals desires must be suppressed to exist well within a collective. Although a logical assumption, there are some major issues. In nature packs and groups form to survive. If a pack leader or group leaders fail in keeping people alive, the pack reforms or disbands. An intellectual leader has no such objective criterion by which the individuals in the group can judge the leader. This system would also cause institutional morality where the success of the institution becomes of high moral value, thus causing moral decisions to be made for the sake of the institution, instead of because they were good within themselves. Plato’s mistakes are telling of the governmental tendencies that will pull moral philosophy away from virtue-based ethics in the future.

Thomas Aquinas translated Aristotle into the Christian understanding. He did so by acknowledging natural law, or the observable laws of reality, as part of the greater law of god and separating his three groups of virtues into god given and learned virtues. This will be important later when Rand is explained in relation to Aquinas. Aquinas will also be discussed in regards to charity later in this piece.

After Aquinas philosophers like Machiavelli, Hobbes and Bacon pushed virtue-based ethics aside. This more individualistic and developmental kind of philosophy proved quite inconvenient to the goals of thought that became popular after the middle ages. There was a shift from an inside out understanding to an outside in or top down understanding.  The popular wisdom became that it would be easier to just mold society through government, as Plato would have it, Hobbes being the most extreme example in his belief in a single monolithic totalitarian figure.  Libertarian thought, or classical liberal thought, eventually brought Aristotle’s moral outlook back into fashion.

For the purposes of this paper we will now end our discussion of the history of virtue based moral thought with Ayn Rand. She is an earthshakingly divisive figure, and rightfully so. Objectivism, her stark unapologetic philosophy is an evolution of Aristotle and is strikingly similar to Aquinas despite Rand’s well-known dislike for religion in general, as an institution. As described by Rand Objectivism is strikingly simple.

My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

  1. .                 Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
  2. .                 Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
  3. .                 Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
  4. .                The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

 

Rand’s focus on the primacy of the individual is designed so that the individual’s virtue develops, and that comes from doing the inherently good things. Aristotle believed that the highest goods were pleasurable and in fact the highest good was pleasure, which Aristotle considered to be the unimpeded activity of a natural state or when something good developed in oneself is turned on by something good in the outside world. So to have pleasure an individual must develop personally first, which is why the highest moral purpose is oneself, and why the primacy of oneself does not diminish the value of others, but in fact increases the chance each person will be moral and make correct ethical decisions.

Despite Thomas Aquinas’ moral and ethical philosophy being deeply rooted in his faith, Rand’s Objectivism still operates at its base with the same principals. If you remove the virtues cited by Aquinas that he believes to be infused or coming from god, you are left with the virtues that are of prime importance in Objectivism; the prime examples being the intellectual virtues of understanding, science, wisdom, art and prudence. Understanding is seen as basically using the obvious knowledge available to you to develop self-evident truths. Science is seen as the habit of drawing conclusions from the self-evident truths that you developed. Wisdom is seen as the organization of this knowledge. The previously mentioned virtues being the speculative issues, and much like objectivism only relate to that which can be understood and perceived within the physical or real world. Art is understood as the virtue of being able to make things. Prudence is understood as the virtue of knowing how to run ones life successfully. Art and prudence are considered the practical intellectual virtues and are of foremost importance in Rand’s Objectivism. These are all virtues that are not good within themselves, but are good when used in rational self-interest.

Aquinas sees charity as the greatest virtue, and sees all the religious or infused virtues as greater than the others. This is do to Aquinas belief that leading the virtuous life is done to honor god, while Objectivism refuses to use that which is not logically perceivable in reality in the decision making process. Objectivism stops making moral directives past what it can prove philosophically, which is why it is such a simple understanding. Despite Objectivism coming from a position where a higher power was irrelevant and Aquinas’ moral philosophy coming from a perspective where morality was in service to god, the basic understanding and practice is the same.

Aristotle, Aquinas and Rand’s basic premise is the only inherently moral premise. One must be virtuous to be moral, virtue is a habit and must be practiced and developed, the individual and the health and happiness of the individual are paramount to morality. The nature of life is too complex and transient to have any system or any axiomatic understandings guide your moral decisions, you simply have to practice a virtuous life and hope those virtues will put you in a good position to make the right decisions.

The Christian ethic is “love thy neighbor as thyself.” One has to love themselves first to love another. In an economic sense, one cannot be charitable without first being successful. In the Christian tradition charity must come from love, not from an ethical dictate. It is important to remember how Aquinas defined virtue, he defined it as such “Virtue denotes a certain perfection of a power. Now a thing’s perfection is considered chiefly in regard to its end. But the end of power is act. Wherefore power is said to be perfect, according as it is determinate to its act.” The ends are specifically important, if one gives to a charity and that charity wastes the money, or fails in its goals, then it was not a virtuous decision. This is very important in regards to socialism and paying taxes. Paying taxes is not virtuous, and metrics of success within government programs are non-existent. To consider oneself virtuous for voting for higher taxes to “help” people and then paying those higher taxes, is amoral in its arrogance. The individual has to perfect his own power and is responsible for its carrying out. Socialist dogma in regards to morality reminds me specifically of a famous amoral character. “Are there no poorhouses? My taxes go to these institutions, and those who are badly off must go there.” It would seem despite all the crowing over the free market, Scrooge was a collectivist morally, and the socialist system gave him an easy way out. He has already been forced to be “moral,” but who is really amoral Scrooge or the government. Einstein would say the government: “Force always attracts men of low morality.” Scrooge never forced or coerced anyone into anything.

Because the individual and the individuals’ development is the most important aspect in the morality of each individual, any collective understanding of morality is at its heart amoral. It is not surprising that these moral understandings were discarded for the expediency of protecting grandiose understandings of a central government molding its individuals into a moral and material utopia. To Rand the utopia is simply impossible and to Aquinas it doesn’t exist in this reality, they had no reason to change what is true and objective for what is relative.  Aristotle is correct, what is best is simply what is good within itself, not what is done for the sake of something else. The greatest atrocities are committed for the sake of something else, some higher good, some good that is so good it is above mere individuals. The objective reality is that utopia can only be achieved if everyone simply became happy themselves, and the only philosophies that could achieve this are those that are virtue based, whether Aristotle, Aquinas or Rand.  Without the sole moral imperative there is no morality, just ideas and axioms that could be used for evil as easily as they can be used for good.

 

 

President Obama is NOT a Socialist!

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In two speeches last week in Colorado President Obama revealed his true ideology, and it is not Socialism. While defending the automaker bailouts, he demonstrated his vision while calling for similar bailouts for all industries.

In this one speech he confirms what many have long thought, Obama’s philosophy is closer to Mussolini than Marx, one of Fascism or National Socialism rather than Communism or Socialism.

The Affordable Care Act has effectively given him control, not only of the insurance industry, but the health care industry as well. In addition there is a provision in the bill (Sec. 2717, Subsection D, paragraph b,) which gives him control over all of us.

Compare his statement in Colorado with this one. “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power.” -Benito Mussolini

And with this one, “State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management.” -Benito Mussolini

And this one, “The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their respective associations, circulate within the State.” -Benito Mussolini

Mussolini also said, “The measures adopted to restore public order are: First of all, the elimination of the so-called subversive elements. […] They were elements of disorder and subversion. On the morrow of each conflict I gave the categorical order to confiscate the largest possible number of weapons of every sort and kind. This confiscation, which continues with the utmost energy, has given satisfactory results.”

A section of National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Barack Obama in December, could give the Federal government legal powers to detain any dissident voices if they are deemed to be enemies of the state.

In 2008, in a campaign speech in Colorado Obama called for a “private army, just as powerful, trained and well funded as the military.”

Today, he is busily de-funding the US military while labor unions are being exempted from stalking laws and other laws pertaining to the use of violence in their cause.

Consider this description of Mussolini’s reign in 1930’s Italy from the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Mussolini and the Rise of Fascism.

During the 1930s, Mussolini organized industry, agriculture, and economic services into state-controlled labor unions and employer associations called “corporations.” Government officials appointed the heads of each union and employer corporation. They negotiated wages and working conditions with each other.

This “third way” corporatism attempted to unify workers and employers by requiring them to set aside their private interests in favor of the best interests of the fascist state. In practice, however, the employers usually benefited more than the workers did.

Police crackdowns on dissent were mild compared to fascism in Hitler’s Germany. But a special court tried anti-fascists, those working against Mussolini’s regime.

Again, if we look at the way General Motors was re-organized, with the labor union in control and a large share of stock owned by the federal government, it parallels Mussolini’s “third way”. Now President Obama wants to re-organize the rest of industry in the same manner by his own admission!

Also notice how President Obama has sought to organize existing labor unions like the UAW, SEIU, and the NEA into a private army behind him while at the same time punishing non-union businesses like Gibson Guitar and right to work states like South Carolina.

While not blatantly anti-semetic, his treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu has been far less than friendly, and his “off mike” comment to Nicolas Sarkozy was telling. More troubling though is the recent DHS report labeling groups who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority, reverent of individual liberty, and believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty,” as possible terrorists.

This administration and it’s support groups spend an inordinate amount of time trying to demonize certain other groups of people based on their political philosophy, religion, and color of their skin. The continuing persecution, though not nearly as ferocious, is akin to the demonization of people of Jewish extraction in 1930’s Germany.
Marx believed that the workers should unite and takeover the means of production, that the fruits of that production would then be shared among the workers according to their needs. Fascism on the other hand, believes that the government, in partnership with corporations, should run the nation, and that the people must live their lives for the greater good of the country, rather than the pursuit of happiness for themselves.

Whatever the guiding philosophy, time and time again the administration has shown an utter disregard for the constitution and the rule of law, preferring to govern by edict rather than the consent of the governed. Without the re-election restraints placed on him in a second term, there is no telling how dictatorial he may become.

Capitalism: The Perpetual Economic Revolution

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Capitalism has gotten a bum rap from self-styled revolutionaries for being a supposed class system of exploitation that serves the interests of an economic oligarchy. But this is a fundamental misreading of capitalism, and dismisses several indispensable assumptions about the market system that are difficult to swallow for both socialists and corporatists. Rather than reflecting an ossified pyramidal society, free market capitalism leads to a dynamic and even tumultuous system that tends towards equilibrium through the process Joseph Schumpeter described as “creative destruction.”

Capitalism was a term invented by Karl Marx to describe the market system of exchange described by classical political economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo.  The term is heavily imbued with the notion that capital is a material object whose exchange objectifies and commoditizes the individuals engaged in the transaction.  It has powerful emotional appeal to those who resent physical labor and would rather philosophize about the meaning of life than pick up a shovel and build some  oft-lamented-for infrastructure. But the socialists’ pathos-driven ruminations don’t change the material realities of the economy, and the need to measure the scarce goods and services demanded by individuals who seek to use them as they see fit.

At this point, it should be fairly obvious that a market’s price system is both more transparent to the economic participants and more “democratic.” And just like in politics, democracy can be messy.

Imagine further how messy the capitalist process is if we consider tens of millions of people “voting” several times a day with their money,  and how maddening it is for firms to try to keep track of it all. Now think about the disposition of  politicians relegated to the economic sidelines to “referee,” but who actually have power at their disposal to get a piece of the action. And in a market economy, there’s a lot of action to get a piece of.

In developing markets, what the left refers to as “Wild West” economy, one can accumulate a sizable market share fairly quickly. At the advent of vast changes in technology, firms can also soon get in market-dominant positions. The temptation is great for firms to buy off politicians, who often need campaign cash in order to retain the perks of office. Simultaneously, the state’s power of taxation is a valuable tool of persuasion for politicians to bully companies who would rather concentrate on the market than Washington.

It is important here to note the prime mover in the relationship: state power. Various specific corporations seek to “capture” the government and use it to promote their ends because the government has the power and the popular permission to interfere in the economy.  If people deny politicians this permission to intercede, then the career choice for those who desire to stay in office becomes much simpler: Keep their hands off, let people work and thrive to the extent they can, and they will have a job after the next round of elections. Of course, this would deglamorize “public service,” and also significantly reduce the odds of mysteriously becoming a millionaire within a few years of coming into office.

The point is that capitalism itself, strictly defined, is unpopular with large corporations that want to protect market share and ensure easy revenue by excluding competitors, and with power-hungry statists and leftists who want the activity of millions of individuals to be bent towards what they deem fit.

Capitalism is messy, but stable; it continuously eliminates the imprudent and penalizes the invaluable, rewards the dynamic and the responsive, and remorselessly holds accountable both firms and consumers. It is a perpetual economic revolution whose ongoing release of energies through creation and destruction prevents the buildup of more violent revolutionary forces, which result from individuals’ frustration at being stymied by those perceived to be less worthy.

Currently, the Democrat-led government is attempting to recreate revolutionary potential through central bank-driven capital destruction and excessive regulation, while politicians or their proxies point their wagging fingers at Wall Street, as if the banks’ most rapacious actions occurred in a vacuum. Rather, the greatest theft in the history of the American republic was led, accompanied by Democrat cheers, by the U.S. government itself.

You can call state intervention into the economy anything you want. But please, don’t call it “democratic.”

How the Left Sees Us

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Sick of being treated like sheeple instead of people? Well, start thinking like an individual human being instead of a member of the herd.

Each individual is his own person with a universe of thoughts, emotions, biology, and experience unto himself. Each person is a miracle who will not be replicated in the history of the universe.

Joy, love, sadness, and even anger, all are legitimate emotions that each person possesses. Each person has a psyche, which is the Greek term for both a mind and a soul.

When I look into the eyes of a child, I see a unique person blessed with a special set of gifts. A little boy or girl adventuring out into the world, someone who is irreplaceable and precious. I want him to do the most with his life that he can, well-provided with opportunities to learn and grow, with the maximum amount of personal challenge and the necessary support to develop into an intelligent and self-reliant adult.

But leftists see a child as yet another dependent, someone to be molded and created in their own image, someone to be brought up to be yet another member of a group: the “community,” the “tribe,” even “the nation.” All children equal, none individual, none struggling to be excellent and therefore none superior or inferior. Faceless, nameless people to be managed from a centralized government far away.

The more centralized and bureaucratized the government, the more abstract the individual becomes. He becomes an instrument of the elites to perpetuate their own power and advance their political causes. His will, his self-interest, becomes pitted in a zero-sum game with the ruling class, with ever-creeping coercion stealing away ever more of the individual’s right to self-rule.

Collectivism and individualism are the most fundamental dueling ideologies of our age. Whether it be nationalism, socialism, or any other form of collectivism on one side, and a Constitutional government sanctifying the individual’s right to life, liberty, and property on the other, the dilemma is the same: Who decides the course of the individual’s life?

Democracy, the great political watchword of the West, is a form of majority rule that suppresses the minority, especially whom Ayn Rand called the greatest “minority” – the individual.

When combined with increasing social engineering, through state-run education, “non-profit” agencies, and influence over media, “democracy” becomes transformed over time not into an expression of the collective will, which is bad enough; but a slavish extension of the rulers’ will over individuals.

As collectivist government seeks to impose its will on a people, it insists that all individuals are rigidly members of “groups,” and attempts to isolate and alienate those who do not conform. The individual who expresses himself and endeavors to live his life in pursuit of truth and excellence, regardless of group esteem, eventually becomes ostracized; if not socially, then legally. Those who challenge the group or the government are termed “radicals” or “extremists” for wanting to live their own lives without interference.

Autonomy is something the group cannot tolerate. The individual belongs to the group and its enforcement arm – the state.

The country’s turn to collectivism has profound consequences, as we see with the socialized healthcare bill ridiculously upheld by the Supreme Court. The individual becomes a mere tool of “society” to advance the goals set by the leaders.

Over time, an individual’s behavior can “justifiably” be micromanaged in any way the ruling class sees fit; whether or not he smokes, what he eats, what car he drives, and how much soda he is allowed to imbibe. For the individual in a collectivist society, there is no limit to manipulation by the government.

Ultimately, whether or not politicians violate our individual rights depends on the culture, and how we the people hold elected officials accountable. Politicians who fear the citizens’ wrath are far less liable to provoke it.

The Death of the Enlightenment

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The greatest intellectuals of history rose to prominence in periods of catastrophic change. In the ancient world, Aristotle, Cicero, Confucius, and the Arab scholar Al-Ma’Mun sought to make sense of the tumult and strife they witnessed around them. They left us manuscripts that would, in the words of the Greek historian Thucydides, last “for all time.” Their minds sought to impose order on the mystical culture and seemingly chaotic world around them in order to bring man’s relations in harmony with reality.

Each of these philosophers’ civilizations would ultimately collapse into tyranny or barbarism after periods of ideological decay; their teachings disregarded and their warnings ignored. In the West, the decline and fall of the Roman Empire would lead to the obliteration of the gains of Hellenic philosophy as well as the ‘genius of order’ of the Romans. The Near East would fall under the sway of Islamic fascists who would subjugate all thought under the omnipresent dominion of Allah. China would continue to move ever so slowly towards achieving the totalitarian vision of its first emperor Qin Shu Huang.

The first signs of the reemergence of civilization in the West can best be attributed to the thought of Thomas Aquinas, who reintroduced rationality into Christianity. The Scholastics would pave the way for the Renaissance, primarily by resurrecting Aristotelian thought. Their works would lay the foundations for The Enlightenment, which would disentangle superstition from politics and liberate men from intellectual slavery to monarchy. Once again, we find that the essential political philosophers of the era, Thomas Hobbes and his refuter John Locke, were men who lived during times of immense change and confusion. John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government would provide the intellectual fuel for the American Revolution.

The American Revolution, which created an unprecedented political and economic order based on reason and deliberation, would contrast mightily with its sister revolution, often misleadingly described as animated by The Enlightenment. The French Revolution was birthed by the unruly passion of democracy, and was the midwife of the “philosophy” of rationalized confiscation known as socialism.

Though both democracy and socialism are draped in the ideological garb of reason, they are divorced of it; the former is animated by transcendental collectivist myths and the latter of class envy devoid of reflection or virtue. One might view them as the doctrines of power accumulation in the state under the stewardship of a cult leader and the repression of all upward mobility threatening the elite establishment, respectively.

The present popularity of democracy and socialism in academia and Western culture is indication of a calculated divorce from The Enlightenment, which liberated men from the control of elites. Unfortunately, the practical success of the American experiment, and now the well-founded distrust of self-described intellectual elites, have led to a disdain for ideas qua ideas among many people.

But the consequence of this development is that we have incrementally abandoned the vision of the founders in our hearts and minds, and are within one swift stroke of severance with that glorious past. We now find ourselves in the midst of a war of ideas, with the soul of Western civilization at stake; yet many still show a pathological lack of seriousness about ideas and how they shape our world.

There are questions that arise of why an intellectual elite would subvert the very civilization it benefits from; and secondly, what makes their detractors so smart? The answer to the first question is a matter of human nature, the second one, a matter of historical awareness.

If we assume that the American way has been successful in terms of wealth creation and political stability, the problem for intellectuals becomes “how do I distinguish myself?” One does not acquire notoriety or power by adhering to the principles of the past, no matter how successful they have proved to be. The ideologies that ‘naturally’ developed in academia over the last century, which attracted “alienated” (or rather, narcissistic) individuals, can be summed up as “contrarianism for the sake of contrarianism” and “rationalized power-seeking.”

Hence, it is in the light of such vapid arrogance we should esteem the intellectual programme to criticize all according to the neomarxian rubric known as “critical theory.” After all, socialism at its core is merely a critique of capitalism. It is not a creative or productive system in any realistic sense. People don’t work for its own sake, and certainly they do not do so for strangers (at least, without the implied or explicit threat of a barrel of a gun). Socialism provides no plausible answer to the “then what?” question of what happens after the destruction of capitalism.

Out of crisis comes opportunity, as our political enemies remind us, and for us that entails laying the ideological foundations of liberty on more solid ground. With the illuminating guidance of our founders Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison we may add the insights of Ayn Rand, whose explicit infusion of Aristotelian thought into the philosophy of freedom would buttress our defenses against the inevitable assaults that arise from democratic mobs and iron-fisted tyrants. It is moderation in principle that leads to excess in government; and devotion to principle that leads to liberty, security, peace, and prosperity.

The intellectual decay of Western civilization has brought us to a crossroads, and we must choose the path take from here. We must choose liberty or an “Age of Darkness.” It is our task as freedom-loving Americans to ignite a political Renaissance, reawakening and re-energizing the ideas of the founders.

As the philosophy of a people goes, there, inevitably, is civilization led. Philosophies of confusion and detachment from reality lead to decay and collapse; those of order and rationality provide the conditions that make social harmony and human happiness possible. Yet the austerity of the rational life is not for the faint of heart; it demands virtue and a steely stoicism. Ultimately, many will retreat into utopianism and mysticism, which obviate our personal responsibility and detach us from the real world. The outcome of the battle between reality and unreality is the fulcrum on which the fate of civilization turns.

 

A Moral Case for Capitalism

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There is a pervasive attitude in academia and in the culture at large that socialists are misunderstood intellectuals and capitalists are selfish, greedy pigs. What is absent in the cultural discussion is the moral case for capitalism.

Capitalism is morally right because it is consistent with free will, individual autonomy, and human creativity; it is a more ethical basis for an economy than socialism due to its just framing of labor and reward; and lastly, when it is consistently enforced, it disperses economic means through market accountability, and impairs government coercion.

As the socialist Rudolf Hilferding observed in his criticism of the Austrian school economist Bohm-Bawerk, given that the base philosophical assumption of free market capitalism is the individual, and that of Marxism is society, this makes it nearly impossible for an intelligent conversation to emerge between the two camps.

Let us make the straightforward argument that society exists for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of society.

The instrumental rationality of socialists being that man is a means to the end of an abstract notion of society, carries with it disastrous inhumane consequences when effected, and is indeed inconsistent with free will. Frustrating the free will of human agents necessarily leads to reduced creative and productive potential. Artists, writers, and other cultural creators should never knowingly or unknowingly reinforce the collectivist values that undermine their own self-expression. Yet our artists and entertainers constantly provide support for collectivist government in the realm of values.

Government, as Rose Wilder Lane pointed out in The Discovery of Freedom, can only obstruct and restrain. Since government is by nature an institution of force, and force is inherently a relative concept, government necessarily can only empower some members of society at the expense of others.

Thus, there is a need to keep economic and political affairs separate. Free market capitalism empowers the many by giving people more say over their own lives; and by connection, leads to more creative and productive potential. The separation of political coercion from economic activity allows there to be a civil society where people can be free to speak their minds without fear of economic reprisals. People are thus accountable to the free market, or in other words, the public for their cultural creations and not to the government.

In addition, a free market economic system is more stable than a centrally planned one. Certainly, fostering those conditions that are most conducive to improving mankind’s quality of life is the most ethical. To argue against this proposition we might consider an ‘objection by mischievous assumption.’

But the latter point requires a more extended, even if glossing, discussion. The point is to show by examination that the Marxist critique is fundamentally wrong and that capitalism is clearly the better of the two systems. Indeed, it might also be shown that the two systems are diametrically opposed and incompatible at the core value level.

The philosophical foundation of rationality, quite necessary to harness the gains of the empirical method of science, led to man ascending from the darker ages of mysticism, feudalism, and superstition to the modern era of scientific progress and the undeniable improvement in mankind’s quality of life. But the socialist wants our human relations to revert back to those of a pre-modern society, where we live as a tribe in deference to our government chieftains. As an additional insult, they label such an agenda “progressive.”

So the argument goes that man will ineluctably be led to a brighter tomorrow by removing the philosophical foundations on which modern civilization stands? An untenable proposition and one that must be discarded.

The important thing to remember about free market capitalism is that no one person is needed to “devise it” or “run it.” What you need is to protect individual rights, enforce property rights, and allow people to produce and trade, which they will naturally do. The job then is to keep the currency sound, so transactions are transparent to all buyers and sellers, and stable, so people can save without being penalized.

Indeed, by securing sound currency and a stable economic environment, man can plan his future on solid footing. In such a world,  productivity would be rewarded with increase, while foolishness would be met with ruin, and laziness with want.

The End of American Conservatism?

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American conservatives, as we have come to be called, have been blessed by inheriting one of the greatest nations on earth.  But we have been cursed by limitations, in both our language and our manner of thinking, that have doomed us to a perpetual rearguard struggle against a determined and even fanatical adversary – the American progressive, an indigenous variety of socialist.

Unlike in warfare, where one can hold the line against barbarians until the hordes expire, ideas have an eternal life of their own, and are thus immune to the earthly tactics of hand-to-hand combat among flesh-and-blood foot soldiers.  If one seeks to defend one’s ideals against an opponent, rather than advance them, one is already politically dead.

The intransigence of socialist thinking is familiar to all those who have engaged in serious discussions on the merits and flaws of socialism with a dedicated adherent.  The peculiar manner of thinking typical of the fully indoctrinated, or in more generous terms, committed socialist can best be described as opaque; it is closed to the particular counter-factuals one might offer up to erode his unwavering faith.  The socialist beats down all objections to his ideology that are based on facts, reason, evidence, and history; he is what one might call a true believer, because he is avowedly pursuing a vision of the future, and as such, is rejecting the entire past.  To refute a socialist based on particular facts is futile; it would be like arguing with a Christian about the imperfections of earth to demonstrate the flaws of heaven and God‘s divine plan.

There is one single best explanation for the intractable nature of the socialist, whether one is speaking of the Marxist or the more Hegelian-influenced Neomarxist: his faith in the ultimate triumph of socialism.  Though Kant played a key role in forming the consciousness of the modern radical by way of dislodging reason from reality and enunciating his ethic of the categorical imperative, it is Hegel who gave religious expression to the dialectical-historical process of change.  Hegel imbued teleology into his explanation of historical change, exalting the god he named Reason; and he thereby gave social science the aura of prophecy, and social scientists adopted the sub-culture of a hermetical caste. The important point is that self-described progressives always perceive themselves as advancing forward in history, while conservatives are always trying to defend the past from their supposed “advance.”

The parlance of American politics is fraught with the lexicon of the eventual triumph of progressivism, and if we are to read Hegel rather than Marx, the victory of the State over the Individual (or at least their non-differentiation). Those Americans who believe in the vision of individual liberty are ubiquitously referred to as “conservatives,” as if their ideological victory had been won with the vanquishing of the British.

Thus, the inherently emancipatory doctrines of the nation’s founders are stripped of their weight, and denied subsequent victories in the liberation of the citizenry. Conservatives are charged by virtue of their own lexicon with being rearguards of a mythologized past, one inherently more enlightened than the real-world, and thus decadent, present day.  At times, conservatives may be said to be fighting to preserve their garden of Eden from corruption, while progressives are fighting to usher in a new one.

Therefore, for the “progressive,” all evidence of the imperfections of America are damning evidence that the nation was not a utopia, as conservatives are perceived to imagine, and indeed, was corrupt from the onset.  According to the progressive narrative, therefore, women and minorities were liberated by progressive-minded Americans from the patriarchal and bigoted society of the founding, rather than the founding being the launching of a new adventure, whose fundamental underpinning of individual liberty would drive out iniquity and oppression if pursued, and not merely preserved, by the citizenry.

Further exacerbating the linguistic veiling of the significance of America’s founding are the religious overtones generally ascribed to the event by self-described conservatives.  America was founded in religious freedom, and thus it accorded all Christians, and non-Christians, the right to worship as their consciences saw fit.  This point must be acknowledged by Christians or there is no point in proceeding with the American experiment. The reason is simple, but extremely important: America’s founding is a political plan to bring about liberation in this world, and not in the next.

In no way is this arguing that the American founding is not compatible with Christianity; it most certainly is.  For as Thomas Aquinas pointed out, God gave man free will, and therefore, each man is accountable to God for what he does with that free will.  But the truth of this natural liberty neither sets man above the law of the world, nor the state above man, nor the state above God.

The reason for the religious digression is to illuminate how the progressives have the force of fervor on their side.  American progressives have a vision of a future they desperately crave to bring about, the mindset of missionaries whose adversaries are inherently corrupt and mentally trapped in a decaying, oppressive past; and an atheistic or nihilistic vacuum in their hearts that is filled up by a personal mission “greater than themselves.”  This mission trumps all, and they are the servants of it.  Individual liberty is therefore anathema to everything they stand for; indeed, it is a threat to their mental integrity, as well as their identity.

The rise of the state is fueled by selfless individuals like a furnace in hell is fed with souls.  It is no accident of history that metaphysical sacrifice is soon followed by actual sacrifice – as Ayn Rand brilliantly expounds upon in her works. Once one abandons oneself to alien or external forces, whether leaders of cult status, impersonal forces of history, religious sects, or collectivist mass movements like radical environmentalism, one’s mind is malleable, and susceptible to falling in with a mob mentality.

Crucial to dissipating this triumphalism of American progressivism, and thus depriving it of its infernal force in the minds of true believers, is to demonstrate that the ideals that animate it are far from new; and in fact, are neither liberating, nor egalitarian.  This is not the same as refuting their ideal world with real-world facts. It is refuting their ideal world with ideology.

To argue with a communist about the flaws of Stalinism, for example, will simply provoke the response that the tyrant did not “do it right,” was not a true Marxist, or that Trotsky was right, and so forth.  What is more effective is to show the ideological underpinnings of modern American progressivism and expose their roots in primitive societies, the ancient world, the Dark Ages, Christian culture, or otherwise, the pre-modern world. In order to be effective, this must be done explicitly, as Igor Shafarevich does in The Socialist Phenomenon.  Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics are excellent sources for examining the ancient sources of modern progressive ideals, and their refutations.

What we are concerned with is to deprive the particular manifestation of American progressivism of its mantle of “progress.”  This would be akin to sucking the oxygen out of a raging fire. Some attempts have been made by conservatives to do this by labeling progressives as “regressives,” or by showing how such illustrative values as environmentalism lead to an eroding of civilization. Ayn Rand, for one, demonstrates the primeval essence of American progressivism in her collection of essays entitled, The Return of the Primitive.

What is crucial is to show that history teaches that nothing is inevitable, and there is no final triumph of one belief-system over another. What we have on earth are human beings – flawed, self-interested, possessing free will. Indeed, both Marxist-Leninism, and various strains of Neomarxism, betray as much by making it incumbent to “take action” to bring about the revolution that Marxists had once claimed was “inevitable.” And if a cadre of politicians appear on the scene speaking the language of “inevitability,” we must immediately be alerted that they are making an inherently fanatical argument designed to prevent people from challenging their ideology’s fundamental assumptions.

The values and methodology of the American left, and its vanguard, the Democrat Party, are such that their close parallels to known causes of revolution make them immediately fall under suspicion that they are deliberately fomenting revolution for the sake of revolution; and as such are not a legitimate political party or mass movement pursuing the best interests of the country, but rather are subverters seeking to enthrone themselves atop a new and more oppressive political order.

So when we speak of the fervor of American progressives, we are addressing the movement’s foot soldiers, and not its grand architects, who may be motivated by extremely cynical points of view like Saul Alinsky’s “radical pragmatism.” In order to radicalize the left’s next generation of leaders, Alinsky indeed chides them of their utopian, millenarian visions by stating, “Remember we are talking about revolution, not revelation.” For Alinsky, the means and ends of political action appear to be power; and the current American president considers himself a devotee of this diabolical thinker.

Thus, our summary conclusions are two-fold. In our own regard, as those who value individual liberty, and who seek to implement it as our government’s animating philosophy, we must self-consciously cease the passivity of believing we are the “preservers,” “defenders,” “conservers,” or “consecrators” of the past, and we are rather the living, acting banner-holders and wielders of our founders’ vision, yet to be instilled on earth, and leading a charge towards our political adversaries. We are not defending anything, we are attacking the flawed bases of our opponents’ ideology with reason, facts, evidence, history and truth, yes, but also with philosophy.  Implemental in this endeavor is to cease appeal to religious argument in order to justify our views; we need only appeal to religious freedom, which follows from the value of individual liberty.  In addition, we are seeking a real-world political system, not a paradisical afterlife.

Secondly, we must deprive our enemies of the succor that their immoral actions are in the interest of pursuing some inevitable “greater good”; their immorality is just that.  What is moral to do to human beings in the particular, is moral in the universal.  If we want to eliminate human suffering in the universal, we must refrain from causing human suffering in the particular.  Causing destruction and harm are not guarantors of sweeping away “an old system,” and replacing it with a new, better system.

Indeed, the replacement of one set of flawed human beings with another set of flawed human beings is no guarantor of progress, and no permanent safeguard of any imagined utopia.  The United States Constitution was drafted with an understanding of both the inherently flawed nature of man and the delicacy of ordered liberty; and though reverence for the document may have bought the American people time, its underlying values will wither on the vine without ample watering, and the fruits of liberty will be lost. Only by exercising our free will and taking action to advance our common cause will we be able to shape the malleable and unsettled future.

The Founders are dead, but their ideals live on.  But if we do not propagate their ideals with the same force and urgency as they did, the values of individual liberty and free market capitalism will die, and the American experiment along with it. We do not merely exist for the benefit of the state. We are alive, and our liberty is our lives!

What the Left Hates Above All Else

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What the left hates above all else is a person with dignity and self-respect. This may seem like a counter-intuitive or unfair statement.  But the argument for this claim turns on reason, and the proper employment of language.

In the leftist’s view, all those who do not share his grand vision believes himself to be “above” society. Those who stand outside his group, and desire not to be a part of it, is condemned by the leftist as someone who feels himself to be “above” it.

This petty, juvenile contempt translates into a hatred of “hierarchy,” or “patriarchy”; and thus, intentionally or unintentionally, of order in society. It must be pointed out that a modicum of order is necessary for true freedom.

True freedom means an individual decides what to do with his life; this is in fundamental opposition to the totalitarian leftist’s plans for that individual.  A person is just a means to an end for the leftist, and has no inherent value in and of himself.

The great majority’s rational rejection of the left’s unhinged views has only served to radicalize the left, which subsequently translated its views into esoteric doctrines and oblique programs to subvert the will of its popular opposition.  Due to being historically outnumbered, the left has been driven to infiltrate “the system,” sloughing off all morality of the formerly “bourgeois” system, such as honesty, decency, and forgiveness in the process. The leftist has become the master of patron-client organization building, rewarding those who are “down for the cause,” while punishing those who remain oblivious or unsympathetic to the leftist’s inhumane agenda.

The leftist who reads this entry will immediately dismiss it, unable to separate his self-image from his position vis-a-vis objective reality. Dismissing logic, reason, and anyone who does not share his view, the leftist insulates himself from reality, both economically and socially, while surrounding himself with like-minded individuals who share his contempt for outsiders. The left’s sequestering into monastical environments promotes an “us-them” mentality, very similar to the kind found in cults.

This is not how a leftist would communicate his irrational hatred of an independent person to himself, however; for his lexicon has been shaped by the left’s philosophical forbears to cast all such personal characteristics mentioned above in terms of “selfishness,” “egotism,” “narcissism,” “greed,” or even pure “hate.”

As such, one needs to explain why the leftist is “inhumane.” The leftist pretends to care about “humanity,” without really caring about individuals. This fundamental contradiction is a grave one, for it leads the leftist to sacrifice actual living, breathing human beings for his abstract causes. The foundation of his worldview is seriously, irreconcilably flawed; and this is a deadly mistake in judgment on the leftist’s part.

Anyone who believes in something, and stands for something, is the greatest threat to the left. From the leftist’s point of view, anyone with a solidified moral code is by nature a “fanatic,” or even “fascist” in mentality.

But the leftist does not realize that the code of individualism is itself a barrier to fanaticism (one can witness the tidiness and orderliness of tea party rallies, in comparison to the usual mob mentality of the left, for example). In contrast, the leftist’s opposition to entrenched morality and order leads him to seek fatal societal breakdown, resulting not in liberation or a superior order, but rather the powerlessness of members of society to defend themselves from power-hungry rulers.

A woman or a black or any individual with her own mind, her own sense of benign morality, and who exercises judgment, infuriates the left because she is beyond its powers. She is unable to be easily manipulated. She is not readily subject to being reinvented in the left’s imaginary ideal. In the leftist’s eyes, these stubborn qualities alone makes her intrinsically “hateful,” “racist,” “bigoted,” “fanatical,” “uncaring,” and “uncompassionate.”

For the left, the agenda trumps all. Actual living, breathing individuals who refuse to accompany them into demonstrable political madness be damned.

Corporate Personhood

To bring everyone up to speed on the purpose of the title and this article, I was in a recent discussion with a friend on the other side of the political aisle who asked me to define the term “corporate personhood.” The discussion had its genesis around a story that placed the onus of responsibility for the state of the economy on Wall Street. I countered that burdensome regulations and government intervention were to blame. At one point corporations were brought up, and the term “corporate personhood” became the focal point. We decided to do “dueling articles,” and his piece can be found here.

The term comes from the question of whether or not a corporation counts as a person in terms of constitutional rights, so we first have to define a corporation. Merriam-Webster defines a corporation as follows:

1.  a. A group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild; b. The municipal authorities of a town or city.

2. A body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession.

3. An association of employers and employees in a basic industry or of members of a profession organized as an organ of political representation in a corporative state.

Essentially, a corporation is a single entity made up of a group of individuals. My off-the-cuff response was a bit more simplified:

“It amazes me how people make the leap that a corporation is some supernatural entity that needs to be defeated, like the Balrog or something (YOU SHALL NOT PASS!). It’s not. A corporation is a group of people working together towards a common goal of producing products that people want to buy. The only reason they BECAME corporations, instead of (for example) LLC’s is because they are really good at what they do.”

So let us recap. Thus far, we have established that corporations are made up of individuals, the next step is to ascertain what the law says. USC § 1 defines corporations as:

“the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;”

Friends, it does not get much clearer than that. But since there is still an argument despite the above, we need to press on.

Campaign Finance Reform

This discussion now takes us into the morass of “campaign finance.” While there have been a few attempts throughout our jurisprudence to restrict who can give what to which candidate, the most commonly referred to (modern) law is the aptly-named Bipartisan Reform Act of 2002, which is known as McCain-Feingold (votes can be found here).

Legally speaking, a corporation counts as a person. So now we have to ask ourselves whether or not a corporation is afforded constitutional rights. We can argue this two ways. First, a corporation is simply a group of individuals. Since individuals have constitutionally protected rights, they keep those rights even if they get together with others. Secondly, the law flat out states that corporations are “persons” which are protected under the Constitution.

The Constitution uses the term “Person” and “Citizen” almost interchangeably, using the term “citizen” when discussing location and “person” in general. For example, Article IV Sec. 2 covers Privileges and Immunities of “Citizens,” while at the same time laying out the framework for legal action against “persons” that commit a crime in one state and flee to another.

Furthermore, the Bill of Rights uses the term “people,” which is the plural form of person. A corporation is legally defined as a “person” and specifically defined as a group of people, so it would take a great leap to claim that the bill of rights, specifically the First Amendment, does not apply to them.

What McCain-Feingold did was, in the words of Justice Kennedy speaking for the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission:

 “The law before us is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations—including nonprofit advocacy corporations—either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election.”

Legality

The First Amendment was written not just to protect speech, but to protect political speech, and the language is pretty clear: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

While there have been several challenges to the law, including one by Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KY), this decision was by far the most comprehensive in deciding the constitutionality. Essentially, the court decided that barring corporations from participating in political speech during an election was unconstitutional, and went on to cite numerous legal precedents where corporations were defined as persons with First Amendment rights (Section A, 1). Ironically, though I suppose predictably, most supporters of campaign finance laws do not know the history of it in this country.

Philosophy

There is certainly a case to be made for restrictions on campaign finance. We do not want foreign interests, whether it be companies or governments, to fund candidates they want. But to restrict the political speech of Americans is something completely different.

Before we continue, we need to define “money.” I know, it seems a bit strange, but indulge me for a moment. Money is a “tool of exchange” that represents one’s labor. Money cannot exist unless a person expends labor to produce a product or service that someone else values enough to buy with what they produced with their labor. We use paper money because it is not convenient to trade in livestock or large amounts of metals. The amount of money one earns is representative of the amount and value of their labor, which is why a corporate CEO that works 18 hours per day and is in charge of 500 people producing products for millions of individuals while ensuring the stockholders invested their own money wisely earns more money than a union janitor doing the 9-to-5 mopping floors and taking out trash.

This money, in the context of this subject, represents speech in that it is used to produce advertisements and buy ad space in media that speak on certain issues important to the survival and success of the company. Sometimes this involves speaking for or against certain candidates or platforms.

The arguments against allowing corporations to speak during election seasons normally revolve around the fact that they are able to pool money, buy ads, and drown out the voice of the common people. This is a class warfare argument and legislation banning speech by corporations (i.e. groups of people) makes them legally-defined special classes of which it is legal to discriminate against. The irony (and philosophical shortcoming) is that in a nation that legally and philosophically was set up to value the individual, we consistently have to fight political battles to stop certain people from passing laws that group people together so as to both dole out special favors and discriminate against. A fitting analogy is that the people who advocate for special laws against “the rich” are no different than those who supported Jim Crow laws.

There is another ethical argument to be made against this sort of campaign reform law, and we saw this play out up close and personal in 2008. During that election season, we saw speeches by all candidates denigrating corporations. Public sentiment against corporate CEOs reached the point to where people were protesting outside of their private homes. Corporate CEOs are also routinely called before Congress to justify their ability to make money. This is, again, the definition of class warfare, which had its place in 17th century feudal Europe, but was outmoded by the advancement of free market capitalism and the philosophy that stated all men were created equal.

Essentially, the argument against corporate speech boils down to saying that they should just shut up and take the congressional grill sessions, the protests, the public denigrations, all while the people they are not allowed to speak out against paint them as evil, institute more onerous regulations that make business even harder to conduct, and pass tax laws that take more of their money away from them (yes, corporations do pay taxes, as do CEOs, despite what that bumper sticker on the Prius says). Corporations should just stay on their knees and smile as they are punched, kicked, and made into monsters, then are taxed for the privilege.

How is that ethical? It is not. If politicians are going to spend a year and a half during election season speaking out against the very corporations they depend on to fund their pet projects and keep the nation’s economy going, the corporations, and the people running and working them, should be able to call those politicians on their drivel.

(Originally posted at Federalism Online)

Countering Obama’s Philosophy

Ever wonder where Barack (Barry) Insane Obama gets his perverted philosophy? Do you find yourself scratching your head every time Obama waxes eloquent on the glories of socialism? Do you wonder how any rational person could arrive at the really “out-there” conclusions that seem to spew unhindered from the cerebral cortex of our dictator wannabe? Well, wonder no more. Let’s take a stroll through the heart, mind, and soul of a truly evil man and bring to light a detailed summary of his false teachings.

We begin our journey by reviewing some philosophical terms used by contemporary philosophers. This review will help us see the deviousness – and the attractiveness to the ears of liberalism’s mind-numbed robots that Obama’s rhetoric is intended to produce.

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality. It attempts to answer the question “What is real?”

Obama's Philosophy

Getting at the Naked Truth

This is an important term to understand since Obama and his minions are constantly attacking our conception of what encompasses reality. To the great masses in flyover land, for example, God is a reality. Obama will have none of that. Like the philosophy of Communism, to which Obama is an adherent, God is a threat to the state. He must be replaced in the hearts of the masses with total devotion and worship to the State. Hence Obama’s famous quote that his opponents “bitterly cling to their guns and their religion.” Obama’s actions in relation to God are consistent with the tenets of Communism. That’s why you don’t see Obama attending church services… unless it is politically advantageous to do so. That is why there is a great debate as to whether or not Obama is a Christian, or a Muslim, or a tree-hugger, or a Barackophile.

Another area of philosophy we will consider is axiology. Axiology is the study of ethics and values. It critically examines with such questions as “What is good?” “What is ethical?” and “What are right and wrong?”  Obama is a prime example of a person who believes in situational ethics. In other words, Obama finds something to be ethical so long as it is to his advantage at the time. To Obama, ethics are grey instead of black and white. He is a proponent of moral relativism. In a world of no moral absolutes Obama reigns supreme. As the blogger Rick Moran said of Obama, “Barack Obama is just another politician. Devious when he has to be, vague when it suits him and a liar when necessity calls.”

Epistemology is the study of how we know what is real or true. For an example of how Obama learns things read the paragraph on empiricism, below. He may be learning things, but it ain’t truth!

Authoritarianism is the system by which truth is learned from those who are authorities or experts. Oh, what would we do without the MSM? The media bombard us with supposed “truth”. And where do they get their talking points? Obama, of course.

A fifth aspect of philosophy is rationalism. Rationalism refers to gaining truth through logic. In rationalism we ask, “Does it make sense? Is it logical?”
Another way of looking at it is asking yourself: “Am I willing to be persuaded by a rational presentation of the facts?” The catch is that many people are unwilling to honestly answer the question. An anonymous blogger at rightwingnews.com put it thusly:

If a liberal could demonstrate how Obamacare would quantitatively result in a net improvement of health care in this country without violating my core principles (free market, individual choice and responsibility, etc), I’d be open to supporting it.

But what really happens is that they write a bill nobody has read or understands, demand it be passed, then call you a racist hatemonger for opposing it…and they call *you* “closed minded”.

And then there is pragmatism, which determines whether something works. If it works, it is valid; if it doesn’t it is rejected. Hmmmm, let’s see. Where has Communism “worked?” The Soviet Union? Cuba? North Korea? Vietnam? Albania? Hungary? Poland? East Germany? Chicago? Detroit? East St. Louis? Obviously, Obama is lacking in the pragmatism department. He is so dedicated to controlling every aspect of our lives that he sticks his head, complete with his oversized ears, into the sand and ignores history… ensuring that he is doomed to repeat it.

Finally, there is empiricism, which uses observation or personal experience to arrive at truth. This knowledge is obtained primarily through the senses – through what one sees, touches, hears, smells, and tastes. So what has Obama experienced in his life? Oh yeah, I remember… Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Acorn, Bill Ayers, Frank Marshall Davis, Rahm Emanuel, Rod Blagojevich, David Axelrod, Van Jones, Bernardine Dohrn, Khalid AL-Mansour, Father Michael Pfleger, Saul Alinsky, Tony Rezko, Andy Martin, Comel West, Bobby Rush, Marilyn Katz, Valerie Jaffett, Mark Lloyd, Cass Sunstein, Ron Bloom, Anita Dunn, Kevin Jennings, Harry Knox, Carol Browner, John Holdren, Kathleen Sebelius, Harold Koh, Dawn Johnson, and Louis Farrakhan. This is your Obama. And this is your Obama on drugs. Now, any questions?

So which of these philosophical systems do conservatives subscribe to? (Of course, conservatives don’t reach the same conclusions as does Obama.) The answer, of course, is all of them. But conservatives also rely on another way of knowing truth – divine revelation. That’s why you see conservatives attending church, praying, tithing their earnings, and doing all manner of good in the world. You see, conservatives still recognize that God is real and believe that He speaks truth to their souls. This, then, is the foundation of the conflict between conservatives and Obama. Conservatives believe in a power infinitely higher than that of the State – and Obama knows he can’t win so long as the people believe in God. The rejection of God is at the core of Obama’s philosophy. All else he does derives from his rejection of God. Of course, it would be counter-productive for Obama to actually admit this so we are subjected to endless stories about the depth of Obama’s spirituality (just how spiritual can you get by attending worship services via BlackBerry?) But actions speak louder than words. Every Sabbath you find Obama playing basketball or on the links. God is the furthest thing from his mind. Fore!

Nearly 20 years ago Gerald N. Lund set forth the way the elements of philosophy affect each of us:

Whether he recognizes it or not, every person holds to a metaphysical position, trusts in at least one system of epistemology, and holds a personal axiology or set of values and ethics. Furthermore, these three areas of our own philosophy are interrelated. Our metaphysics (our view of reality) influences our epistemology (the way we gain knowledge), and together the two determine our axiology (our values).

Taking Lund’s argument to its logical conclusion, I paraphrase and alter his following paragraph in order to personalize it for our Dear Leader:

Let’s suppose, for example, that a person like Obama rejects the idea that there is a spiritual dimension to life. That metaphysical position automatically determines what Obama will accept as truth. Revelation is rejected because the reality of God is rejected. Deciding what is good and bad, therefore, will not be dependent on any set of God-given laws or fear of eternal consequences. This is the foundation of Obama’s lies.

(Paragraph above from Gerald N. Lund but altered significantly by PolarCoug in order to demonstrate the applicability of Lund’s train of thought to the case of Obama.)

Obama’s Philosophy

Like any philosophical system, Obama’s doctrine has metaphysical, epistemological, and axiological aspects. Together, these philosophical elements have contributed to convincing millions of Americans to reject traditional societal values and instead placidly wait in line for their handouts from Obama’s stash.

For example, Obama’s argument for the supremacy of the State in our lives is an epistemological matter of his attempting to direct our minds to accept his version of the “truth” simply because that which we hear originates from the government. In his mind, if he says it, it must be true. Obama accuses conservatives of being closed-minded, i.e., we don’t blindly accept his version of reality. This argument is effectively countered by an anonymous comment (from Stan W.) in response to a column on rightwingnews.com.

Closed Minded” is a term Liberals use when they are losing an argument. It means “You will not abandon your principles and come over to my side”.

Liberals confuse Close Minded with Weak Minded, or someone who is easily swayed in their opinion by words or emotion.

Most of the Conservatives I know are Strong Minded. They have no problem listening to and considering a well-thought-out argument. However, that does not automatically mean that they will change their mind or abandon their core beliefs.

Conservatives are that way for a reason. And a Liberal telling us we have to change because they say we should is an ineffective method.

Obama subscribes to the view that people believe in religion because they have been indoctrinated by their parents and that they have also been deceived by religious leaders whose motives are personal gain – money and/or power. We are the people Obama contends are “bitterly clinging to their guns and their religion.” Obama’s philosophy is that this religious indoctrination of the people brings psychological abnormalities – “derangement” or a frenzied mind. Hey, bitterly clinging to an unseen power will do that to you, right? Obama concludes that since there is no God and since religion is a farce, he can live as he pleases without fear of eternal consequences. Why does Obama care about such things as our view of metaphysics and epistemology? Because if he can shape our views on those issues, then those views provide a basis to destroy us. Obama’s philosophy is a rational system. It is not true, but it is rational! If we accept the assumption that there is no super-natural reality, then it logically follows that there is no God. If that is the case, then man is the supreme being. According to Lund “It also follows that if there are no eternal realities, then there are no eternal consequences for man’s actions.” Obama’s reasoning is that he himself determines what is right and wrong, not some set of rules laid down by a group of phony religious leaders claiming to speak for a God who doesn’t exist.

Not only is Obama wicked, but he is proud of his wickedness. And why shouldn’t he be? Obama has convinced himself that there is no God and no ultimate right and wrong. He has convinced himself that he is free from all the psychological hang-ups the rest of us feel – guilt and shame for example. When was the last time you saw Obama acting ashamed? Me, too – never.

Unfortunately for Obama he can’t prove the Communist thesis that there is no God. Based on the very criteria he himself has established, Obama would have to perceive every cubic meter of the universe simultaneously. This creates a paradox: In order for Obama and his Communist philosophy to prove there is no God, he would have to be a god himself! Therefore, while bitterly clinging to his Communist philosophy that God does not exist, Obama is acting on “faith,” the very thing for which he so sharply derides the conservative movement.

Let us learn the lesson. No matter how clever or how sophisticated Obama and his Communist philosophy appears to be, it is not true. Obama’s Communist philosophy is riddled with contradictions, errors, and false assumptions. Conservatism, on the other hand, is truth – truth that has stood the test of centuries, truth that can withstand rational examination, truth that is pragmatic and practical, truth that can be confirmed through personal experience. A conservative need not apologize for his or her beliefs, for these beliefs withstand every scrutiny much more efficiently than do the doctrines of Obama.

Obama’s teachings are based on lies. Obama’s philosophy, so pervasive within our society, leads to a dead end. It is incumbent upon each of us to distinguish between the truth of conservatism and the lies of Obama, between freedom and slavery.