0610: "Sheeple"

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:00 am UTC

Indeed. And I for one am ashamed for being much more of a "sheeple" than I have any right to be. In my defense, though, it's hard to interact consciously with the world all the time.


See, that's the thing -- people spend a lot of time on autopilot, and are generally quite mistaken in their ideas of what consciousness and intelligence do. It's...well, it's human. You can go into a trance state when navigating a familiar route for the umpteenth time, or argue words without ever really touching meaning, or respond impulsively with surprisingly-elaborate behaviors that would look deliberate from outside, but are mostly generated through neurological "scripts" as it were. And none of these are actually failure modes -- they're integral parts of the way our brains work, inconvenient or embarrassing though they might sometimes be.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Snowflake » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:48 am UTC

Pazi wrote:
Indeed. And I for one am ashamed for being much more of a "sheeple" than I have any right to be. In my defense, though, it's hard to interact consciously with the world all the time.


See, that's the thing -- people spend a lot of time on autopilot, and are generally quite mistaken in their ideas of what consciousness and intelligence do. It's...well, it's human. You can go into a trance state when navigating a familiar route for the umpteenth time, or argue words without ever really touching meaning, or respond impulsively with surprisingly-elaborate behaviors that would look deliberate from outside, but are mostly generated through neurological "scripts" as it were. And none of these are actually failure modes -- they're integral parts of the way our brains work, inconvenient or embarrassing though they might sometimes be.


They may be integral to how most people behave, you could call it human, and you might not call them failure modes...

but being in that trance, autopilot, non-brain-activity state is quite a mediocre way of living. Just like how most people live, unfortunately.

In fact, a big part of spirituality is to avoid being trapped in that unconscious state and living a more conscious and intelligent life.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:54 am UTC

It's not that there's no brain activity going on. There's always brain activity going on. It doesn't stop as long as you're alive and not in a coma or something.

And, well, spirituality seems to put people back into that place as often as it gets them out of it, in my experience. Possibly more often.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Snowflake » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:18 am UTC

Well, most people who say they're spiritual don't know what they're doing. Spirituality is elusive and few truly understand it. :P

By no brain activity I mean processing. Active processing. Compare noticing everything to firing up your car engine and suddenly find yourself at your destination. That kind of unconsciousness. Can't say I like that. :wink:
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:23 am UTC

Mm, I'm suspicious of any belief system that says only a select few really have access to The Truth/The Way/Whatever. That's just a little too convenient, and seems like a way to dodge responsibility for one's beliefs.

(That said? I've known plenty of spiritual people who, if nothing else, got a whole lot out of their beliefs. I may be critical of the claims made by religion, but religion and spirituality are seem also to be a part of how our brain work, and I've certainly felt the impulse before.)
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:00 am UTC

For the most part I feel like I'm seeing just one tiny pixel in everything that happens around me and I have to reconstruct the rest from that. Most of the time it just seems to flow right by. If I tried to wake up to the world around me, I don't know what I'd wake up to.

Is this bad? Times when I really try to stop and focus on my life it's hard. I can't stop myself from constantly planning and thinking about the future. But I like to think that we as a species can be happy that we all to some degree share this confusion. It's something universal.

The self-interest/altruism debate has made me very uncomfortable ever since I started actually caring about the world. I have come to realize that we are all seekers. It did not help that a lengthy break-up with a previous girlfriend precipitated in a lot of debates just like this one. That sounds like a reference to a certain XKCD comic but I'm being completely serious. Can I trust someone who intends not to care about other people except for their own sake?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Snowflake » Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:13 am UTC

Pazi wrote:Mm, I'm suspicious of any belief system that says only a select few really have access to The Truth/The Way/Whatever. That's just a little too convenient, and seems like a way to dodge responsibility for one's beliefs.

(That said? I've known plenty of spiritual people who, if nothing else, got a whole lot out of their beliefs. I may be critical of the claims made by religion, but religion and spirituality are seem also to be a part of how our brain work, and I've certainly felt the impulse before.)

There are no beliefs in spirituality.

Hence, people who says they're spiritual and follow a belief system are already lost. In fact, you could say that religion is false spirituality, but that's another topic. :wink:

ellbur wrote:I have come to realize that we are all seekers.

Most, are.

"Altruistic" people are, too.

The only ones who are not, are people who are neither concerned with self-interest nor altruism. :P
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Ghavrel » Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:15 am UTC

Snowflake wrote:There are no beliefs in spirituality.

Hence, people who says they're spiritual and follow a belief system are already lost. In fact, you could say that religion is false spirituality, but that's another topic. :wink:


I hope you weren't intending those to be spiritual statements, then.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:14 am UTC

drazen wrote:What is unfair is taking money from private individuals who earn it for their labor (notice I did not say "gigantic megacorporations in bed with the government" and in fact complained that those entities are getting a much better deal than we are), and giving it to people who contribute nothing to society (or even giving it to people who do; it's still a violation to individual rights. The fruits of my labor are mine and MINE ALONE, and nobody else has any "right" to them, NO MATTER WHAT.)

The fruits of your labour are yours alone, irrespective of the fact that your education was paid for from taxes, your healthcare is paid from tax dollars (or at least would be if you lived in a country whose politics wasn't blighted by your kind of bullshit), your roads are paid from taxes. Irrespective of the fact that the raw materials are stolen from third-world countries at the barrel of a gun. Irrespective of the fact that your car is fucking up the world for the rest of us. Irrespective of all kinds of ways in which "the fruits of your labour" are actually the fruits of thousands of people's labour.

You're happy to take the benefits but won't pay your share. That makes you the arrogant jerk, not me.
Your philosophy is people control; it is fascism;

Bullshit. There would be far more individual freedom in the sort of society I want to live in than in the sort of society you seem to want. The freedom to starve is no freedom at all.
Actually, no, you're not even that honorable; you enlist an army of jack-booted thugs and glittery charlatans to do it for you.

Well fuck you too. I'm not hiring any armies; I just want you to pay your way.
At least the libertarian right [...] just doesn't care about strangers (though I would point out that they are not actually morally obligated to do so)
You think you're not morally obligated toward the rest of the human race? I'm glad you've admitted that you're an immoral jerk.
If someone's just a jerk, I can let it go. There's lots of jerks in this world. They might expect me to give them things, but I say "No" and that is, generally, both the end of it, and the end of my interaction with them. But people who demand that everyone follow their rules and their philosophy, under any banner, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, are my mortal enemies. I despise them more than any other wrongdoer on the planet, because of how much evil and suffering they wreak when given the chance (and because of how much of it harms me and violates my rights, making it EXTREMELY personal). Give everyone a fair chance to build their own society and let us just see which is more prosperous (oh, that's right, we already did that... it was the USA vs. the USSR... by the way, how'd that one turn out, again?)

The USA's prosperity is built on the back of theft, not individual rights. You use your military power stealing the resources of the rest of the world. This is what pisses me off about Randroids, you're from the most privileged background in the history of the world and you're whining about being hard done-to just because I suggest you pay your fucking share.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:06 pm UTC

Markfiend: Oh, I like you.

The fruits of your labour are yours alone, irrespective of the fact that your education was paid for from taxes, your healthcare is paid from tax dollars (or at least would be if you lived in a country whose politics wasn't blighted by your kind of bullshit), your roads are paid from taxes. Irrespective of the fact that the raw materials are stolen from third-world countries at the barrel of a gun. Irrespective of the fact that your car is fucking up the world for the rest of us. Irrespective of all kinds of ways in which "the fruits of your labour" are actually the fruits of thousands of people's labour.


Precisely. The problem with such reasoning is that it assumes that we can just go back to some sort of ethical t=0. There's absolutely no sense of context, nor any awareness of the fact that the reason they enjoy the vanishingly-rare ability to believe that they came by what they got honestly, by hard work is because so very, very many people were exploited. By the very ethics they claim to espouse, our wealth is stolen and has been for centuries (where "we" in this context is white Westerners).

Actually, no, you're not even that honorable; you enlist an army of jack-booted thugs and glittery charlatans to do it for you.



Well fuck you too. I'm not hiring any armies; I just want you to pay your way.


This is what stuns me. The idea that poor people created government to reign in the rich. It's so distorted.

Also, I think the term "jack-booted thugs" should really godwin any serious discussion.

The USA's prosperity is built on the back of theft, not individual rights. You use your military power stealing the resources of the rest of the world.


And as a Brit, you'd know that when you see it. :wink:

This is what pisses me off about Randroids, you're from the most privileged background in the history of the world and you're whining about being hard done-to just because I suggest you pay your fucking share.


Well-said.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Feddlefew » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:46 pm UTC

I haven't finished reading the whole thread, so please excuse me if someone else has already posted something like this.

I've never really thought about people as sheeple. A group of people might be doing the same everyday, but I'd bet money on them all having different motives for why they're doing what their doing.

Does anyone else ever sit back and look at the people around them in public places, and wonder what their lives are like? When you see someone with sad eyes staring into space, do you ever wonder what could have made them sad? Do you wonder what the world looks like to them, or what strange thoughts they might be having, like if they're wondering about what squirrels do in there spare time, or where the could find a good pastrami sandwich?

It keeps me occupied when I'm on a long flight or waiting in a public space. It helps me avoid seeing other people as objects.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:28 pm UTC

Does anyone else ever sit back and look at the people around them in public places, and wonder what their lives are like? When you see someone with sad eyes staring into space, do you ever wonder what could have made them sad? Do you wonder what the world looks like to them, or what strange thoughts they might be having, like if they're wondering about what squirrels do in there spare time, or where the could find a good pastrami sandwich?


Nearly always. I wonder what stories exist in their lives, what they dream about, what they want, what they do when they're not (wherever we happen to be). On the bus. People working in restaurants or stores. The only exception is when I'm so deep in thought, lost in my own head, that other people may as well not be there. But that's pretty rare.

You can learn so much just from watching people quietly, in those circumstances where everyone's supposed to pretend that they're off in their own little world.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Snowflake » Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:36 pm UTC

Ghavrel wrote:
Snowflake wrote:There are no beliefs in spirituality.

Hence, people who says they're spiritual and follow a belief system are already lost. In fact, you could say that religion is false spirituality, but that's another topic. :wink:


I hope you weren't intending those to be spiritual statements, then.

I never imply anything.
I only let those who jump to conclusions make quick judgments.

Pazi wrote:You can learn so much just from watching people quietly, in those circumstances where everyone's supposed to pretend that they're off in their own little world.

I've always felt that people are open books.
I don't know about about people pretending they're off in their own little world, but when you get right down to it - you really can't hide your thoughts.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby wiserd911 » Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:52 pm UTC

Markfiend wrote: The USA's prosperity is built on the back of theft, not individual rights. You use your military power stealing the resources of the rest of the world.


Support here? I mean, if you want to say that the US took some of its land from the Native Americans by force, okay, I'll give you that. And yes, American Southern agriculture was dependant on slave labor about 140 years ago, true. But it certainly didn't collapse when slavery ended, and the Chicago school of economics has argued that slavery may have been economically less efficient for the slave owners than a free market might have been.

But are you suggesting this pattern extends to modern times? I've heard this argument so many times, particularly in regards to the Iraq war, and it's yet to stand up to serious scrutiny. A materialist colonialist model is simply not the operative model for the American economy. Heck, I've worked in a Philippine call center (as an eLearning Specialist.) Far from enslaving people and stealing their resources, the US has actually done a lot to help that country develop its own functioning economy, particularly in areas with heavy foreign investment like Makati. Unlike, say, the way the Japanese treated the Philippines.
Arroyo was pushing for more foreign investment.


The fruits of your labour are yours alone, irrespective of the fact that your education was paid for from taxes, your healthcare is paid from tax dollars (or at least would be if you lived in a country whose politics wasn't blighted by your kind of bullshit), your roads are paid from taxes. .... Irrespective of all kinds of ways in which "the fruits of your labour" are actually the fruits of thousands of people's labour.


Hey, if that's the issue (and I suspect it's not, really), why not just tax usage. Here's the $50,000 bill for your k-12 education. Want to drive a car? Pay your license fees and the proper tolls and gas tax (which I do), etc.

I'm not advocating the above. I'm trying to demonstrate that you are actively opposed to the notion of some people being able to own themselves outright. I suspect you WANT people to owe a debt that even the successful and the lucky cannot pay.

Some things make sense to be publicly funded; police, firemen, a modern millitary, disease control, funding for education (though vouchers would be nice.) But it should be minimal. Massive bailouts and subsidies are not the type of government I vote for, and they are used to the advantage of those with political influence. Taking people's money away and then setting all kinds of restrictions on behavior if they want some of it back is inefficient and we should recognize that such behavior imposes a cost.
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Re: Sheeple

Postby Eikinkloster » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:28 pm UTC

Woxor wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Yet another ad-hominem attack against Objectivists... I'd feel bad, but I know that people only do it because there's no REAL argument to be made against Objectivism, so this is the kind of thing I've come to expect.

Hahahaha ... you guys crack me up. You're like meth-addled psychopaths reading aloud from 19th-century philosophy texts. I love you all.


The best of us are actually reading aloud from 4th century BC philosophy texts :-) Reliance on contemporary philsophy is so 18th century.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby FoolishOwl » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:One thing I have to say, though (even though it's too late): I'm very saddened by the fact that the original comic touched a very, very deep point about society in general, and yet people are here arguing about Ayn Rand.

Having read a few threads on this message board, I'm mostly puzzled why most of these posters are following a webcomic by an author with a sharply different worldview from theirs.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby RanCorp » Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:26 pm UTC

What is Randall's worldview?


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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ishqboli » Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:56 pm UTC

this comic was awesome! i´ve been thinking about stuff like this forever.

we all think we are so special and different from everyone else, and we like to think that way so we can feel superior, nothing more.

personally, i think it´s foolish to say you are not a sheep. we all are in at least one sense. if we didn´t, we would be living naked in caves, never bathe, never listen to music, and never speak with anyone. some life that would be. i´m glad being a sheep, thank you!
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby FoolishOwl » Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:20 am UTC

RanCorp wrote:What is Randall's worldview?

I am not prepared to offer a specific label for his views, but I gather he doesn't like elitist arguments for eugenics, doesn't respect the Ronpaul, and doesn't admire Ayn Rand.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:52 am UTC

FoolishOwl wrote:
SirMustapha wrote:One thing I have to say, though (even though it's too late): I'm very saddened by the fact that the original comic touched a very, very deep point about society in general, and yet people are here arguing about Ayn Rand.

Having read a few threads on this message board, I'm mostly puzzled why most of these posters are following a webcomic by an author with a sharply different worldview from theirs.


Tip #1 for you then: Check the comic "What xkcd Means". Hint: "having Liberal tender sensitivities" isn't one of the meanings.
Tip #2: People lacking Liberal tender sensitivies usually aren't restricted to seeking concordance. Rationalism is about seeking truth through confrontation.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby RanCorp » Sun Jul 19, 2009 2:18 am UTC

Eikinkloster wrote:Rationalism is about seeking truth through confrontation.

If that is so, it has an extremely misleading name. Hmm... Now that I think of it, just as with Libertarianism, which would be acurately referred to as Amoral Economic Anarchism.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby CFHughes » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:19 am UTC

Pazi wrote:
Does anyone else ever sit back and look at the people around them in public places, and wonder what their lives are like? When you see someone with sad eyes staring into space, do you ever wonder what could have made them sad? Do you wonder what the world looks like to them, or what strange thoughts they might be having, like if they're wondering about what squirrels do in there spare time, or where the could find a good pastrami sandwich?


Nearly always. I wonder what stories exist in their lives, what they dream about, what they want, what they do when they're not (wherever we happen to be). On the bus. People working in restaurants or stores. The only exception is when I'm so deep in thought, lost in my own head, that other people may as well not be there. But that's pretty rare.

You can learn so much just from watching people quietly, in those circumstances where everyone's supposed to pretend that they're off in their own little world.


Agreement here, yay verily. All stories to tell. Everyone's voice. Run amid like thinking streams. Awash, dreams. Experience of all.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:37 am UTC

musashi1600 wrote:If I'm thinking about someone else on the bus I'm riding (no trains where I live, for the most part), I'm probably wondering for the (2^n)th time why people sit in an aisle seat while blocking off an empty window seat. I've never understood that.


I do that because I don't want someone to sit on the aisle seat thus blocking me. I prefer to stand up twice (for letting the brother sit by the window and then let him go) than depending on someone standing up so I get out. I don't know why other people do that, but it just might be the same reason: People don't like to be cornered.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:40 am UTC

RanCorp wrote:
Eikinkloster wrote:Rationalism is about seeking truth through confrontation.

If that is so, it has an extremely misleading name.


Maybe I didn't express Popper's view so well:

Popper wrote:"We could then say that rationalism is an attitude of readiness to listen to critical arguments and to learn from experience. It is fundamentally an attitude of admitting that ‘I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.’ (...)
Criticism always demands a certain degree of imagination, whilst dogmatism suppresses it. Similarly, scientific research and technical construction and invention are inconceivable without a very considerable use of imagination; one must offer something new in these fields (as opposed to the field of oracular philosophy where an endless repetition of impressive words seems to do the trick)."


I guess you would rather use "rationalism" to simply denote your own general worldview, i.e., your conclusions rather than your seemingly oracular attitude, and that's why you find it strange that a person would read authors they don't already agree with.

Am I right?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby RanCorp » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:52 am UTC

Eikinkloster wrote:
RanCorp wrote:
Eikinkloster wrote:Rationalism is about seeking truth through confrontation.

If that is so, it has an extremely misleading name.

I guess you would rather use "rationalism" to simply denote your own general worldview, i.e., your conclusions rather than your seemingly oracular attitude, and that's why you find it strange that a person would read authors they don't already agree with.

Am I right?

There is certainly no rational basis in evidence for that accusation.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:20 am UTC

RanCorp wrote:
Eikinkloster wrote:
RanCorp wrote:
Eikinkloster wrote:Rationalism is about seeking truth through confrontation.

If that is so, it has an extremely misleading name.

I guess you would rather use "rationalism" to simply denote your own general worldview, i.e., your conclusions rather than your seemingly oracular attitude, and that's why you find it strange that a person would read authors they don't already agree with.

Am I right?

There is certainly no rational basis in evidence for that accusation.

RanCorp


Why else do you think that seeking truth through confrontation is not rational? Are you, like Foolishowl, "mostly puzzled why most of these posters are following a webcomic by an author with a sharply different worldview from theirs"?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Math_Mage » Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:55 am UTC

Eikinkloster wrote:Why else do you think that seeking truth through confrontation is not rational? Are you, like Foolishowl, "mostly puzzled why most of these posters are following a webcomic by an author with a sharply different worldview from theirs"?


I'm mostly confused by the use of the word "confrontation" instead of "discussion." The former seems to me to imply the existence of two sides in perpetual debate, neither of which is really prepared to change its position. Take, for example, the debate between evolutionary theory and intelligent design: now and again one might learn something interesting by doing research into the claims made by one side or the other, but you won't see anyone change sides in their search for truth. A discussion, by contrast, implies more of a synthesis from the thesis and antithesis, and that would be the point, neh?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:10 am UTC

Bohrer wrote:Here's the rub- I have no problem with objectivism in it's self- but the majority of objectivsts in this board totally disgust me.


This is usually goes unsaid, so... The majority of Liberals like you totally disgust me, just as well.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby RanCorp » Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:18 pm UTC

Eikinkloster wrote:Why else do you think that seeking truth through confrontation is not rational?

Because confrontation is how one person attempts to impose their will on another. It has nothing to do with finding the truth.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:18 am UTC

Libertarians/Objectivists/rationalists all seem to self-label as "conservative." I however would consider myself a "liberal" second only to being a "libertarian." I don't see how this is a contradiction. I have however not noticed any other posters on this thread that would seem to self label as such. All libertarians are fiscally conservative; I guess there are two sides of the social spectrum for libertarians. Is the liberal wing of the libertarian ideology the minority of minorities?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:27 am UTC

Pazi wrote:Markfiend: Oh, I like you.

:mrgreen: Thanks. I think we're singing from the same hymn-sheet :wink:
You use your military power stealing the resources of the rest of the world.
And as a Brit, you'd know that when you see it. :wink:

Heh. Indeed.
wiserd911 wrote:But are you suggesting this pattern extends to modern times? I've heard this argument so many times, particularly in regards to the Iraq war, and it's yet to stand up to serious scrutiny. A materialist colonialist model is simply not the operative model for the American economy.

One example: during the cold war, various puppet regimes in Africa and Central and South America were manipulated into taking cheap loans from the West, but by the 1980s, the interest had grown so much that these countries were forced into export-based economies at the expense of their populations to make the repayments. Even if the regimes have been replaced by more democratic governments in the mean time, the loans still exist. For every dollar that Live Aid raised for Ethiopian aid, the Ethiopian government paid $16 in debt repayments. OK it's an extreme example, but your sugar, your coffee, your bananas, hell, probably even your corn and your beef, all these things are bought cheap; with the threat of calling in the loans as a lever to keep prices down. You might argue that "hey, that's economics" but it's a damn unethical way of doing business in my eyes.
why not just tax usage

Because taxing usage hits those least able to pay. I hear enough horror stories about the USA health system to know that the free market approach is broken; would you like your kidney dialysis stopped because your health insurance has run out?
Some things make sense to be publicly funded; police, firemen, a modern millitary, disease control. But it should be minimal. Massive bailouts and subsidies are not the type of government I vote for. Taking people's money away and then setting all kinds of restrictions on behavior if they want some of it back is not the path to inefficiency at best, and serfdom at worst.
Strawman. I'm not talking about bailouts and subsidies, (although the bailouts themselves are clear evidence that the free market has failed), I'm talking about state-funded healthcare and education.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Kisama » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:15 pm UTC

palam wrote:I think we are on to something. Why do Objectivists have a bad name? I proffer four reasons.
1. Lots of Objectivists are in fact unopen to other people's opinions. Combine this with aggressiveness, a big ego... yea.
2. Deterministic universe. Ugh....
3. Ayn Rand's views about the military
4. No fear of treading on other people's "untouchable" ieals (affective core) in the pursuit of truth.
5. Objectivists don't accept a moral obligation to the rest of humanity, something the rest of humanity apparently feels entitled to.

The rational self-interest promoted by Objectivism is what I would call "passively selfish" because it's completely live and let live. The belief that altruism is a moral ideal is in fact the most heinous selfishness I can imagine because it imposes itself on others. If I go up to someone and demand a small share of what they own, with a feeling of entitlement, fully convinced that I have every moral right to what they have for no other reason than that I need it, am I not being selfish? I'm saying "my need is more important than whatever claim you have to your property, I don't care about you, about how you managed to obtain what you have, about whatever skills you have put effort into cultivating, whatever personal sacrifices you have made, whatever loved-ones you want to provide a good standard-of-living to, I just care about me and my need. That trumps anything you can say. Anyway, it's just a drop in the ocean, you can afford to lose a bit, so that means you have to give it to me." Now, if some casual passerby witnesses my demand, comes up to join the discussion and takes my side, he is supporting my selfishness. Why would he do that? Because he believes that in my situation he would also like to lay claim to the property of others. So the kind stranger joins in, "how can you not care about your fellow man? Are you a sociopath? You disgust me, you're not an individual, you're a part of the human collective, so pay up, this man's needs are more important than your rights, that's what we've decided." And if he refuses... well no problem, there are two of us and one of him, we overpower him, take what we want, and leave, proud, we did the right thing, we took what rightfully belonged to me from that greedy bastard.

I feel strongly that it's unfitting for humans to behave like parasites, but I'm sure most people won't see things my way and I expect to be flamed, or at least accused of blatantly using prejudiced emotive language to make my position sound superior.

SirMustapha wrote:many trees produce fruits which serve as food to other animals, and even nectar that is used by bees
They do so because bees spread pollen to fertilise other trees, and when animals eat the fruit they spread the seeds. This is all part of tree-sex. The trees are capitalists, taking raw materials, producing something, trading their produce for sex, and thus reproducing to ensure their genetic line continues. Trees are pretty cool.

Someone mentioned that we can't just start with an ethical t=0 or something to that effect and I thought it was quite a good point. I would search and quote properly but I am in a bit of a hurry, sorry. Incidentally, at the end of Atlas Shrugged,
Spoiler:
everyone dies from starvation after they drove their economy into the ground, and the few people who bailed and kept themselves alive have a new starting point.
I'm not at all suggesting that anyone should aim for such a thing. I agree that we can't change history and undo all the injustices that have lead to many people being unfairly impoverished and others to have massive sums of ill-gotten riches, it really sucks that that ever happened. It's really missing the point to blame those injustices on Objectivist thinking though, because honestly and freely trading value-for-value is what Objectivism holds as the ideal for interaction between people, NOT trickery,theft and exploitation.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:12 pm UTC

Question for the Randians who keep complaining about society/government unfairly taking part of what they own:

How do you know you own it in the first place?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:29 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:Question for the Randians who keep complaining about society/government unfairly taking part of what they own:

How do you know you own it in the first place?


Classical post-modernist argument. The implication here being that because the government establishes and upholds property rights, it then also has the right to modify and interpret those property rights. I know what property is and what my rights are because of the Constitution, despite megalomaniac justices' politically motivated re-interpretation of it and corrupt politicians' effort to dismantle it.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:38 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Classical post-modernist argument. The implication here being that because the government establishes and upholds property rights, it then also has the right to modify and interpret those property rights. I know what property is and what my rights are because of the Constitution, despite megalomaniac justices' politically motivated re-interpretation of it and corrupt politicians' effort to dismantle it.


The Constitution does not actually define property rights. You have read it, yes?

It defines limitations on the powers of government to interpret and modify property rights, but it does not define what they are. Defining such limits, however, means that the government does have proper power to regulate property.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:40 pm UTC

Kisama wrote: Objectivists don't accept a moral obligation to the rest of humanity, something the rest of humanity apparently feels entitled to.


You have a direct ethical impact on the rest of humanity. At the very best it's ignorant and disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Given that, many of us are unwilling to accept the idea that you don't have some level of obligation.

The rational self-interest promoted by Objectivism is what I would call "passively selfish" because it's completely live and let live. The belief that altruism is a moral ideal is in fact the most heinous selfishness I can imagine because it imposes itself on others.


False dichotomy, straw man. Altruism is simply a term for one voluntarily giving what one has to others expecting nothing particular in return. It's not an organized philosophy, though some organized philosophies, worldviews or religions do advocate it. Some of those may in turn be very missionary and obnoxious about it, but altruism doesn't inherently impose itself on anybody.

If I go up to someone and demand a small share of what they own, with a feeling of entitlement, fully convinced that I have every moral right to what they have for no other reason than that I need it, am I not being selfish? I'm saying "my need is more important than whatever claim you have to your property, I don't care about you, about how you managed to obtain what you have, about whatever skills you have put effort into cultivating, whatever personal sacrifices you have made, whatever loved-ones you want to provide a good standard-of-living to, I just care about me and my need.


Another straw man.

The idea that ownership is an absolute and sacred right is axiomatic in Libertarianism (which makes it rich when US libertarians don't give acknowledgement to the countless "violations of individual rights", termed "murder, rape, theft, cheating and genocide" by more sensible people, by which they've come to live on this land), but not everybody agrees. Furthermore, as it's axiomatic to your philosophy, to you it stands without question.

This is other people not agreeing with you that you are a moral island in a sea of meritocracy. You're just gonna have to deal with it.

I feel strongly that it's unfitting for humans to behave like parasites, but I'm sure most people won't see things my way and I expect to be flamed, or at least accused of blatantly using prejudiced emotive language to make my position sound superior.


People who can't compete in a system that requires everybody to survive on its terms, but overwhelmingly favors the white, the male, those with wealthy ancestry, without disability, who aren't queer or trans, *are not parasites*. We're people who don't get to believe in meritocracy, because most of us will work hard our entire lives and count ourselves fortunate if we someday manage to break into a more stable position in our lives. This isn't about demanding a reasonable price for our labor, either -- we *can't*, even with the help of minimum wage laws, because we're coerced by the risk of starvation or homelessness into accepting what we can actually find. What's more, employers can do more or less anything they like to us; even the existence of certain protected classes doesn't prevent abuses on the basis of race, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability.

Even *with* the help of unemployment payments, welfare for those who have a harder time getting work at all, educational grants that make it easier to get funds to go to community and technical colleges, and food stamps, many of us will find it very difficult to kick this cycle -- no matter what our talents, intelligence, abilities and efforts. Take that stuff away and we're in even more trouble. Nobody who's had to actually fall back on these services operates under the delusion that private, voluntary donations would take up the slack. It's not really enough even as it is, and the current welfare system is geared towards minimalist subsistence rather than really allowing people to get onto their feet and stop *needing* the help of such services. And as an aside, many of us who could benefit from these services will never even use them.

Your *entire philosophy* is incoherent to those of us who have been forced to observe that the world really doesn't work that way, and that our lives mean more to us than your abstract principles.


Someone mentioned that we can't just start with an ethical t=0 or something to that effect and I thought it was quite a good point. I would search and quote properly but I am in a bit of a hurry, sorry.


That was me.

Incidentally, at the end of Atlas Shrugged,
Spoiler:
everyone dies from starvation after they drove their economy into the ground, and the few people who bailed and kept themselves alive have a new starting point.


I think that so beautifully sums up how your philosophy looks to many outside of it...

I'm not at all suggesting that anyone should aim for such a thing.


:roll: Of course not, not at all, but wouldn't it be *real convenient* just the same if the majority of humanity disappeared, leaving only you pinnacles of moral advancement to forge a brave new world...

I agree that we can't change history and undo all the injustices that have lead to many people being unfairly impoverished and others to have massive sums of ill-gotten riches, it really sucks that that ever happened.


Forgive me if that rings a bit hollow, in light of what you're saying.

It's really missing the point to blame those injustices on Objectivist thinking though, because honestly and freely trading value-for-value is what Objectivism holds as the ideal for interaction between people, NOT trickery,theft and exploitation.


Sure, those injustices predate Objectivism as a school of thought, quite significantly. However, Objectivism is basically saying "None of that matters, it's all beside the point, why are you oppressing me by wanting to take what I've earned fairly?"

You didn't earn it fairly, except by your own thinking. An awful lot of people had to be screwed over for you to enjoy those opportunities. Those of us who've endured that screwing aren't real sympathetic, especially when trickery, theft and exploitation (and worse) by the same privileged groups that Objectivism appeals to most, put us into this situation in the first place.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:48 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:People who can't compete in a system that requires everybody to survive on its terms, but overwhelmingly favors the white, the male, those with wealthy ancestry, without disability, who aren't queer or trans, *are not parasites*. We're people who don't get to believe in meritocracy, because most of us will work hard our entire lives and count ourselves fortunate if we someday manage to break into a more stable position in our lives. This isn't about demanding a reasonable price for our labor, either -- we *can't*, even with the help of minimum wage laws, because we're coerced by the risk of starvation or homelessness into accepting what we can actually find. What's more, employers can do more or less anything they like to us; even the existence of certain protected classes doesn't prevent abuses on the basis of race, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability.

Even *with* the help of unemployment payments, welfare for those who have a harder time getting work at all, educational grants that make it easier to get funds to go to community and technical colleges, and food stamps, many of us will find it very difficult to kick this cycle -- no matter what our talents, intelligence, abilities and efforts. Take that stuff away and we're in even more trouble. Nobody who's had to actually fall back on these services operates under the delusion that private, voluntary donations would take up the slack. It's not really enough even as it is, and the current welfare system is geared towards minimalist subsistence rather than really allowing people to get onto their feet and stop *needing* the help of such services. And as an aside, many of us who could benefit from these services will never even use them.

Your *entire philosophy* is incoherent to those of us who have been forced to observe that the world really doesn't work that way, and that our lives mean more to us than your abstract principles.


Well said.

All of it was well said, but this in particular.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:49 pm UTC

Bill of Rights wrote:Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


I was implying that the law has been modified and manipulated to the point where private property is taken without 'just compensation' all the time. Also private property is not defined by the Constitution because it's meaning is so implicit that the Constitution simply assumes its existence. Therefore our entire legal system is built on the implicit understanding that private property exists (to answer your first question.) Arguing the semantics of what the words 'private property' mean is like arguing over the definition of the word 'torture' to legally justify acts that everyone knows are illegal.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:38 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:I was implying that the law has been modified and manipulated to the point where private property is taken without 'just compensation' all the time.


If it happens all the time, I'm sure you would be able to provide examples, yes?

andrewclunn wrote:Also private property is not defined by the Constitution because it's meaning is so implicit that the Constitution simply assumes its existence. Therefore our entire legal system is built on the implicit understanding that private property exists (to answer your first question.) Arguing the semantics of what the words 'private property' mean is like arguing over the definition of the word 'torture' to legally justify acts that everyone knows are illegal.


On that we agree, to a point. Property rights are of course assumed to exist, because they were recognized in British common law. Ultimately, the Constitution set up a new government, but not a new legal system; we inherited that, along with many of its assumptions, from the British. And the existence of private property was one of those assumptions.

But that still constitutes necessary legal recognition. Which means, ultimately, that private property is a creation of government, and hence, society.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:55 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:I was implying that the law has been modified and manipulated to the point where private property is taken without 'just compensation' all the time.


If it happens all the time, I'm sure you would be able to provide examples, yes?


Rather than list several offenses, I think the followign link should suffice: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/23/AR2005062300783.html


Flewellyn wrote:Ultimately, the Constitution set up a new government, but not a new legal system; we inherited that, along with many of its assumptions, from the British. And the existence of private property was one of those assumptions.

But that still constitutes necessary legal recognition. Which means, ultimately, that private property is a creation of government, and hence, society.


All you're proving is that private property wouldn't exist outside of society. Of course it wouldn't. If nobody else is around, then theft, trade and such does exist. You seem to be implying however, that society is the foundation of property rights. I believe you have your cause and effect mixed up. No society has approached anything resembling modernity without property rights existing as a basis for trade and human economic interaction.
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