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Author Topic: Libertarianism and Cooperation  (Read 1365 times)

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Offline XajowTopic starter

Libertarianism and Cooperation
« on: May 23, 2011, 06:13:53 PM »
Something I don't see libertarians talk about much in public discussions is that libertarianism, in pretty much all of its many variations, depends on people working together. That is this not talked about much is kinda odd to me because one of the most common complaints used about libertarianism is the mistaken notion that libertarians expect everyone to be self-sufficient and living in isolation from one another. So I was encouraged to see David Boaz of the Cato Institute talking about this.

http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2011/05/individualism-community/
Quote
Is there a conflict between individualism and community? Critics of liberal individualism, on both left and right, have often said so. Some, like Marx, have called for abolishing capitalism to eradicate “bourgeois individualism.” Others just think that individuals need a strong and nurturing government to protect them and prevent them from their selfishness in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. In the past two decades Amitai Etzioni has been a vigorous critic of what he sees as excessive individualism. And he’s suddenly popped up twice here at the Britannica and in a debate I moderated at the Cato Institute.

[...]

Well, of course no individualist envisions or celebrates this sort of “atomistic” individual who is isolated and unconnected to family and friends, and doesn’t regard other people. This is a straw man. And maybe it’s not fair to put too much emphasis on off-the-cuff remarks, even by a venerable professor who has been discussing the topic for decades. But in fact, in 1995, in his Presidential Address to the American Sociological Association, later published in the American Sociological Review, Etzioni made the same argument:

Quote
The libertarian perspective, put succinctly, begins with the assumption that individual agents are fully formed and their value preferences are in place prior to and outside of any society. It ignores robust social scientific evidence about the ill effects of isolation, the deep-seated human need for communal attachments, the social anchoring of reasoning itself, and the consistent interactive influence of society members on one another. Much of the communitarian writing in the 1980s by nonsociologists focused on remaking this basic sociological point: There are no well formed individuals bereft of social bonds or culture.

Most important for the point at hand is that libertarians actively oppose the notion of “shared values” or the idea of “the common good.”

Who thinks this? Where are the quotations? There never are any.

[...]

If you’re building your defense of “communitarianism” on such a thin reed as a completely unfounded description of libertarianism and individualism, then the listener’s got to wonder if you really have much of a point. [...]

There’s no conflict between individualism and community. There’s a conflict between voluntary association and coerced association.

I do not know of any libertarians who have actively opposed the the notions of "shared values" or the "common good." What libertarians tend to oppose is other people, usually self-chosen, deciding for everyone else what shared values everyone should have and what everyone else is supposed to think is the common good. Let me put this another way. People who oppose abortion tend to believe not allowing abortion is in the public good and/or their version of respect for life is an important value should share. Yet, I don't see people saying pro-choice supporters oppose the idea of the "common good", or that pro-choice supporters expect people to live in isolation. I don't see them being accused of wanting slaves either. But maybe I'm not looking in the right places. Similarly, I don't see people who support homosexual marriage accusing those who don't of actively opposing the notion of "shares values" or the idea of the "common good." People don't seem to automatically assume others oppose these things, unless those others are libertarians.

Anyone who tells you libertarians don't believe in cooperation or working with others is not telling you the truth. Anyone who claims libertarians oppose the idea of the "common good" is wrong. Libertarianism, in general, believes that protecting liberty for individuals is the common good. While the "shared values" someone else espouses may include preventing homosexual marriage or that the wealthy need to be made to pay their "fair share" (which usually means a lot more than everyone else, libertarians do not oppose the notion of shared values just because we don't agree with those sorts of specific values. Libertarians would like for everyone to have the shared value of protecting liberty. If libertarians didn't believe in cooperation there would not be such things as the Cato Institute or Reason Magazine or the Free State Project.

So don't let people lie to you about this.

Offline Jude

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 06:20:11 PM »
I don't think people are convinced that libertarians oppose cooperation, just that voluntary cooperation isn't effective as a sole mechanism for sustaining the common good.

I feel like making a big deal out of this is a nice way to build a straw man to represent those who would criticize libertarian ideals for their lack of practicality as being wrong on substance, when in fact this point that your post is dedicated to refuting is never actually made by people who understand the issues and argue in good faith.

Offline XajowTopic starter

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 09:49:24 PM »
I don't think people are convinced that libertarians oppose cooperation, just that voluntary cooperation isn't effective as a sole mechanism for sustaining the common good.
Given how many times I've been told libertarians want everyone to be self-sufficient and to not help others, I'd say some people are convinced. And apparently so is Amitai Etzioni. But the problem with the second half of your sentence is it assumes there is only one definition for the common good.

I feel like making a big deal out of this is a nice way to build a straw man to represent those who would criticize libertarian ideals for their lack of practicality as being wrong on substance, when in fact this point that your post is dedicated to refuting is never actually made by people who understand the issues and argue in good faith.
As much as I wish explaining libertarianism to people was not necessary, in my experience non-libertarian people arguing libertarian ideas in good faith are not common. Not that far back, in this very forum, I got a quote thrown at me that basically accused libertarians of wanting to be privileged slave owners. Was the quote uttered by someone who understands the issues and argued in good faith? Oh, I doubt it much. But I doubt also you'd get the person who used the quote to accept that. And I've seen main stream articles and pundits declare libertarianism is unrealistic, silly, impractical, juvenile, selfish, ignorant, et cetera. Why? Because supposedly libertarians don't understand that humans are social animals who work together, or we don't understand that humans are selfish creatures who need paternalist government to save us from ourselves, or if libertarian ideas were tried the middle class would disappear, just to name a few. The first is not true about libertarians; the second is not true about people in general; and the third shows a serious lack of understanding of libertarian ideas.

In any case, I'm not trying to build a strawman. I'm trying to preemptively address a certain kind of argument commonly used against libertarianism. If it is not common among people you know, then good. Unfortunately, in my many discussions about libertarianism, such arguments are distressingly common.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 12:43:59 AM »
Libertarianism is a wide set of philosophies that can mean a lot of things. I know a number of libertarians who fully support universal health care. It's not that they like big government, it's just that when you go through the details of what a government's role should be, universal health care looks a lot like national defense, from many perspectives. Libertarians also by the very nature of being the underdog have to rely on education to spread their philosophy. This tends to lend a lot of libertarian support for the idea of universal education. Similarly with environmental concerns - environmental damage is an externality, it must be paid for.

...the end result is a libertarian like that has more in common with most progressives than they may initially realize or admit. I tend to think that once the two groups realize this, that will be the moment this country takes a better direction.

On the other hand, libertarianism has the rather dubious distinction of including objectivism in its ranks, which is malignant narcissism defined.

It's not like I need to look any further than the source:

Quote from: Ayn Rand - Philosophy: Who Needs It
What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”

As if the title of the following book doesn't suffice to tell you the woman was a malignant narcissist:

Quote from: Ayn Rand - The Virtue of Selfishness
There are two moral questions which altruism lumps together into one “package-deal”: (1) What are values? (2) Who should be the beneficiary of values? Altruism substitutes the second for the first; it evades the task of defining a code of moral values, thus leaving man, in fact, without moral guidance.

Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value—and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.

You can see more quotes at the lexicon.



Let's take a look at Ayn Rand's idol, Edward Hickman

Quote
On December 15, 1927, Marion Parker, the 12-year-old daughter of Perry Parker, a prominent banker in Los Angeles, was abducted from her school. A man had appeared at the principal's office and said that her father had been injured in a terrible accident. Letters demanding money were sent to her father for several days. All the communications, which often taunted the parents, were signed with names such as, "Fate," "Death," and "The Fox." Negotiations with the suspect continued until a price was agreed upon and a meeting was set. Mr. Parker placed the ransom money, $1,500 in cash, in a black bag and drove off to meet "The Fox." At the rendezvous, Mr. Parker handed over the money to a young man who was waiting for him in a parked car. When Mr. Parker paid the ransom, he could see his daughter, Marion, sitting in the passenger seat next to the suspect. As soon as the money was exchanged, the suspect drove off with the victim still in the car. At the end of the street, Marion 's corpse was dumped onto the pavement. She was dead. Her legs had been chopped off and her eyes had been wired open to appear as if she was still alive. Her internal organs had been cut out and pieces of her body were later found strewn all over the Los Angeles area.

From the Journals of Ayn Rand:

Quote
This is not just the case of a terrible crime. It is not the crime alone that has raised that fury of public hatred. It is the case of a daring challenge to society. It is the fact that a crime has been committed by one man, alone; that this man knew it was against all laws of humanity and intended it that way; that he does not want to recognize it as a crime and that he feels superior to all. It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul.

...

Hickman said: "I am like the state: what is good for me is right." That is this boy's psychology. (The best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I ever heard.) The model for the boy is Hickman. Very far from him, of course. The outside of Hickman, but not the inside. Much deeper and much more. A Hickman with a purpose. And without the degeneracy. It is more exact to say that the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me.

She based her heroes - Howard Roark and John Galt - in part off of this man. The second paragraph references her unfinished first novel.

It's not that she revered his crimes (except rape, apparently), per se, but rather his independence, and had such a warped view of society in general that she actually believed that society made the worse crime - that they had no right to judge him (!)

The woman had a fundamentally broken understanding of the world, and yet pandered a philosophy of moralizing sociopathy that is followed by hundreds of thousands if not millions.



Many modern libertarians consider Ayn Rand in high regard. As long as that is the case, people are going to look at it funny.

Offline XajowTopic starter

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2011, 03:48:21 AM »
So libertarians who agree with progressives are good, and libertarians who don't, or worse if actually think Rand said anything of merit, are bad. Yeah, that's reasoned and fair. Yes I am responding with sarcasm, but it's hard (for me at least) to not treat such condescending falderal with sarcasm. To say the above post deserves disdain is putting it mildly.

Malignant narcissism defined? {insert eye roll here} Notice the obvious lack of addressing the ideas Rand expressed. Mostly some nasty labels around quotes with no context.

Notice also the implied division of libertarians into two camps: those who agree with progressives, and those who like Ayn Rand, whom you are apparently supposed to accept without question as evil personified. The ones who don't hold too strongly to principles of limited government are okay, and the ones who like Rand are all to be considered folks who might sympathize with a horrible person who kidnaps, kills and mutilates children.

I can see it already. "Oh no, he didn't mean that." Really? He just brought it up for no particular reason? He isn't trying to link most libertarians to evil behavior? Go on. Pull the other one.

This is why I have to try to preemptively address the nonsense people spread about libertarians. Because a lot of what is out there is particularly nasty, like that post up above. People want to try to connect libertarianism to slavery, callousness, murder, social Darwinism, bestiality, and basically anything else that keeps people from paying any attention to libertarians. It's foolish fearmongering, and I hope most people learn to get past that sort of nonsense.

I'm not saying everyone has to accept objectivism or libertarianism. (I'm certainly no objectivist.) I'm merely suggesting that people should question, dig past the surface arguments and make up their own minds. If you don't like libertarianism, okay. But if you don't like it, dislike it for its ideas, not because of some derogatory labels and half-baked innuendos.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2011, 09:01:12 PM »
If you want to provide additional context, feel free to do so. It doesn't exactly help. Randroids currently speak for a large portion of the libertarian movement, and by definition, her philosophy moralizes malignant narcissism. The feelings and concerns of others are not supposed to concern an objectivist. That is sociopathy. Or if you have concern for yourself and your own needs but reject others, that is malignant narcissism. At least sociopaths tend to develop a sort of code to go by.

That is the definition. It is a mental disorder. That someone wrapped a philosophy around it and that it marches under the banner of libertarianism does not change that original fact. You posted wondering why people associate libertarianism with a lack of ability to cooperate. I posted with why.

You can address the why, or you can admit that yes, Ayn Rand was a sociopathic nutjob and that it would be nice if libertarians moved on from that bullshit. If Ayn Rand's philosophy has a different core, feel free to enlighten us.

From your very first post in this thread:

Quote from: Xajow
I do not know of any libertarians who have actively opposed the the notions of "shared values" or the "common good."

Ayn Rand was in fact just such a person. Are you seriously trying to deny that in light of what she has written?

This doesn't mean that everything she's said is invalid. There is merit in the concept of "You can't rule an innocent person." and our current mess of laws, for example. But that doesn't redeem the fact that the core of her philosophy is rooted in selfishness - or egoism, as she calls it. You want to take anything she wrote as a reason for a position, it has to stand on its own legs, rather than just because she said it.

Offline XajowTopic starter

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2011, 11:05:52 PM »
If you want to provide additional context, feel free to do so. It doesn't exactly help.
Yeah, it does.
      Ayn Rand on cooperation:
Quote
Cooperation is the free association of men who work together by voluntary agreement, each deriving from it his own personal benefit.
Quote
When men are united by ideas, i.e., by explicit principles, there is no room for favors, whims, or arbitrary power: the principles serve as an objective criterion for determining actions and for judging men, whether leaders or members. This requires a high degree of conceptual development and independence . . . . But this is the only way men can work together justly, benevolently and safely.

Ayn Rand on altruism:
Quote
It is your mind that they want you to surrender—all those who preach the creed of sacrifice, whatever their tags or their motives, whether they demand it for the sake of your soul or of your body, whether they promise you another life in heaven or a full stomach on this earth. Those who start by saying: “It is selfish to pursue your own wishes, you must sacrifice them to the wishes of others”—end up by saying: “It is selfish to uphold your convictions, you must sacrifice them to the convictions of others.”

Ayn Rand on the meaning of selfishness:
Quote
The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word “selfishness” is not merely wrong: it represents a devastating intellectual “package-deal,” which is responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind.

In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.

Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: concern with one’s own interests.

This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.
Yes, context does matter. You want to claim selfishness is bad. She claimed it was good. But what's missing from your condemnation of her is any acknowledgement that her concept of selfishness and yours are very likely not at all the same. And missing from your attempt to lump most libertarians with Rand is that not only did Rand despise libertarians, the fact is most libertarians, even most of the ones who like a lot of what she had to say, are not Objectivists and have serious objections to many of her ideas and/or the way she expressed them.

Randroids currently speak for a large portion of the libertarian movement,
A meaningless statement until you define "Randroids."

and by definition, her philosophy moralizes malignant narcissism.
Perhaps it does, but until you start making an argument to support your assertion, my reply has to be that saying it doesn't make it so. But more on that later.

The feelings and concerns of others are not supposed to concern an objectivist.
That I want to see a quote for.
      From The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand:
Quote
She slipped down, to sit upon the floor, her elbows propped on his knees, she looked up at him and smiled, she knew that she could not have reached this white serenity except as the sum of all the colors, of all the violence she had known. "Howard . . . willingly, completely, and always . . . without reservations, without fear of anything they can do to you or me . . . in any way you wish . . . as your wife or your mistress, secretly or openly . . . here, or in a furnished room I'll take in some town near a jail where I'll see you though a wire net . . . it won't matter . . . Howard, if you win the trial—even that won't matter too much. You've won long ago . . . I'll remain what I am, and I'll remain with you—now and ever—in any way you want . . ."
Seems to me Rand was perfectly okay with concerning oneself with others. That she had different standard than you do about how one determined who else one should be concerned about does not mean she was a sociopath.

Or if you have concern for yourself and your own needs but reject others, that is malignant narcissism.
"Malignant narcissism" is a term I see applied a lot to Objectivism. It's sort of like the clever insult someone overheard and repeated, and now everyone is using it. Define "malignant narcissism," and we'll go from there.

That is the definition. It is a mental disorder. That someone wrapped a philosophy around it and that it marches under the banner of libertarianism does not change that original fact. You posted wondering why people associate libertarianism with a lack of ability to cooperate. I posted with why.
No, I know why people associate libertarianism with a lack of ability to cooperate. I posted an explanation why that is association is wrong. And then you replied with some barely related falderal that virtually implied libertarians who don't wholly reject everything Rand said are suspicious characters who shouldn't be allowed around children.

You can address the why,
Address why people wrongly believe that libertarians are somehow against cooperation? Okay. Most people who wrongly believe that do so because they fail, either through lack of trying or lack of desire, to bother to get past the knee-jerk alarmist nonsense that people use to demonize libertarianism. They see that Rand wrote a book called The Virtue of Selfishness and then they see others, who generally haven't read more than a few quotes, insist over and over it's "malignant narcissism." Why bother looking any deeper? Who wants to read about malignant narcissism? Nobody.

You can address the why, or you can admit that yes, Ayn Rand was a sociopathic nutjob and that it would be nice if libertarians moved on from that bullshit. If Ayn Rand's philosophy has a different core, feel free to enlighten us.
A different core than malignant narcissism? Sure. Let's go to the source.
      
Quote
If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can't eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Quote
I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.

This—the supremacy of reason—was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism.
Here's a hint: There is a reason she called the philosophy Objectivism and not Egoism.

From your very first post in this thread:
I do not know of any libertarians who have actively opposed the the notions of "shared values" or the "common good."

Ayn Rand was in fact just such a person. Are you seriously trying to deny that in light of what she has written?
In light of what she has written... Hm...
      
Quote
Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to “do something.” By “ideological” (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the “libertarian” hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism.)
(Bold emphasis added by me.) Do you mean in light of the fact that she would object to you or anyone else calling her a libertarian? Yeah, I think it is more than fair to say Rand was not a libertarian. She would have rejected with disdain any attempt to put her in that category. And given her authoritarian leanings, I'm happy to leave her out of libertarianism. So yes, I deny that Ayn Rand was a libertarian.

This doesn't mean that everything she's said is invalid. There is merit in the concept of "You can't rule an innocent person." and our current mess of laws, for example. But that doesn't redeem the fact that the core of her philosophy is rooted in selfishness - or egoism, as she calls it. You want to take anything she wrote as a reason for a position, it has to stand on its own legs, rather than just because she said it.
That's kinda funny coming from you. Anything you write as a reason for a position has to stand on its own legs, rather than just because you said it. So when do I get to see you actually address what she had to say? And no, the core of her philosophy, as she explained it, is rooted in objective reason, or at least what she considered objective reason.

To be perfectly clear, I am not an Objectivist, and I have a lot of problems with Rand's reasoning and her complete rejection of things like altruism. But my objections have to do with her ideas, not with labels other people want to slap on her. Saying Rand was a sociopath is easy. But saying it doesn't make it so. There are people in the world who say she was correct about everything. But saying it doesn't make it so. If her ideas are wrong or right, they stand or fall on their own merit, not because someone slapped a label on it. If you want to prove they're wrong, then feel free to start any time. If all you're going to do is keep repeating "sociopath" and "malignant narcissism," then I can only conclude you have nothing of value to add to the discussion.

Offline consortium11

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2011, 12:59:32 AM »
Libertarians also by the very nature of being the underdog have to rely on education to spread their philosophy. This tends to lend a lot of libertarian support for the idea of universal education.

There may be support for universal education (although I'd imagine there'd be far more support for individual set up and run educational establishments that rely on no way on the state) but there has always been opposition to state education (that is the State gets to run the school, pick the syllabus, hire and fire the staff etc etc). From the days of the classical liberals (from where Libertarianism gets much of its ideas) there has been a real fear of the State and state education... afterall, what better way to essentially "brainwash" a generation. Think about the controversy about the Japanese History Textbooks...

Similarly with environmental concerns - environmental damage is an externality, it must be paid for.

This may be a US position... in the UK the Libertarians generally favour market methods of protecting and dealing with the environment.

Daniel Hannan uses the example of the contrasting fate of elephants in Kenya and the then Rhodesia:

Daniel Hannan - Privatise The Elephant


Offline Vekseid

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2011, 04:18:59 AM »
This may be a US position... in the UK the Libertarians generally favour market methods of protecting and dealing with the environment.

Daniel Hannan uses the example of the contrasting fate of elephants in Kenya and the then Rhodesia:

Daniel Hannan - Privatise The Elephant

In the US, Keynesians prefer market methods of protecting the environment where they are viable.

I was more reflecting on the Clean Water Act and similar regulations. And I was only contrasting two views of libertarianism - there are a lot of them.

Yeah, it does.
Ayn Rand on cooperation:

there is no room for favors

Classic malignant narcissism - you do someone a favor, you have no reason to return it. Have you ever worked with someone like this, Xajow?

Cooperation with that sort of person only works at the most basic level. These people tear large organizations apart if there's more than one in a group.

Quote
Ayn Rand on altruism:

It's okay for her to redefine and cast aspersions on altruism but far be it for anyone to do the same to selfishness. I already pointed out her own warped definition of the term.

The concept of your health affecting mine and happiness being contagious to normal, healthy human beings is completely beyond her and those who spread this garbage.

Quote
Ayn Rand on the meaning of selfishness:

This doesn't change that she explicitly believed that not considering others was an ideal to be striven for.

Quote
Yes, context does matter. You want to claim selfishness is bad. She claimed it was good. But what's missing from your condemnation of her is any acknowledgement that her concept of selfishness and yours are very likely not at all the same.

No, they're pretty much the same. I've read her fiction. She discusses that people can be charitable if it reflects some value of theirs, but heaven help them if they go against that value. See Howard Roark.

Quote
And missing from your attempt to lump most libertarians with Rand is that not only did Rand despise libertarians, the fact is most libertarians, even most of the ones who like a lot of what she had to say, are not Objectivists and have serious objections to many of her ideas and/or the way she expressed them.

Rand despised everyone. That's not an uncommon status.

But the biggest names promoting conservative libertarianism these days - Clarence Thomas, Alan Greenspam, the Koch brothers, Glenn Beck - all explicitly promote Ayn Rand's work.

Like it or not she is the person with the most influence over modern libertarian discourse.

Quote
Seems to me Rand was perfectly okay with concerning oneself with others. That she had different standard than you do about how one determined who else one should be concerned about does not mean she was a sociopath.

I should probably state that she was perfectly fine with being the Mary Sue to the psychotic of her dreams. The man raped her, but that was all okay in the end.

Ayn Rand's treatment of her own husband suggests how often she applied this in real life: not very.

Quote
"Malignant narcissism" is a term I see applied a lot to Objectivism. It's sort of like the clever insult someone overheard and repeated, and now everyone is using it. Define "malignant narcissism," and we'll go from there.

It's a medical term, essentially combining the aspects of sociopathy with narcissism. It's not in DSMV but if there's ever a model for it it's Ayn Rand. Desperate need for praise, inability to handle criticism, and no regard for even the man she married to.

Quote
Here's a hint: There is a reason she called the philosophy Objectivism and not Egoism.

And it's about as tied to reason as any other mad ranting. That she claims it is does not make it so.

Quote
(Bold emphasis added by me.) Do you mean in light of the fact that she would object to you or anyone else calling her a libertarian? Yeah, I think it is more than fair to say Rand was not a libertarian. She would have rejected with disdain any attempt to put her in that category. And given her authoritarian leanings, I'm happy to leave her out of libertarianism. So yes, I deny that Ayn Rand was a libertarian.

You didn't add the quotes, though. Before I looked it up I thought she was referring to Chomsky. He has more claim to the title of Libertarian than you do, as opposed to the anarcho-capitalists who took up the term.

She cultivated authoritarianism about herself, her philosophy is supposedly the diametric opposite of it - you are your own person and your only regard for the needs of others should be if they for some reason can further your own interests. It's amusingly hypocritical but probably works out for her in some insane Rand-logic.

Quote
Address why people wrongly believe that libertarians are somehow against cooperation? Okay. Most people who wrongly believe that do so because they fail, either through lack of trying or lack of desire, to bother to get past the knee-jerk alarmist nonsense that people use to demonize libertarianism. They see that Rand wrote a book called The Virtue of Selfishness and then they see others, who generally haven't read more than a few quotes, insist over and over it's "malignant narcissism." Why bother looking any deeper? Who wants to read about malignant narcissism? Nobody.

Well, you haven't told us which branch of libertarianism you follow.

You're certainly not a left-libertarian of any sort. Which rules out libertarian socialism, progressive libertarians, environmental libertarians, etc.

That leaves the various right-libertarian movements. But even there we have a lot of variations.
- You say you're not an objectivist. Okay. Some non-objectivist branch of individualism?
- Anarcho-capitalist (the libertarians she was apparently referring to in your quote)?
- Geolibertarian? That may be too far left for you.
- Conservative libertarian? They're the ones responsible for equating libertarian=Rand follower.
- ....there are others, of course.

Point being, there are a lot of branches of libertarianism. Some of them, yes, are very progressive. Some of them are borderline insane. Some of them -are- insane. We might disagree with which ones are insane, but I'm sure you think some of them are.

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That's kinda funny coming from you. Anything you write as a reason for a position has to stand on its own legs, rather than just because you said it. So when do I get to see you actually address what she had to say? And no, the core of her philosophy, as she explained it, is rooted in objective reason, or at least what she considered objective reason.

And again, just because she considered some something so does not make it. The idea of happiness being contagious and friendships being built on favors is an entirely alien concept to her - so alien that she set her philosophy against it by declaring that altruism is setting oneself as a slave (!?). That isn't normal. It is normal for people to react and consider themselves a part of a group, however isolationist.

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To be perfectly clear, I am not an Objectivist, and I have a lot of problems with Rand's reasoning and her complete rejection of things like altruism. But my objections have to do with her ideas, not with labels other people want to slap on her. Saying Rand was a sociopath is easy. But saying it doesn't make it so. There are people in the world who say she was correct about everything. But saying it doesn't make it so. If her ideas are wrong or right, they stand or fall on their own merit, not because someone slapped a label on it.

I call her a sociopath because that is what her philosophy espouses. It's what the heroes in her novels were. Howard Roark did not have the ability to consider others. No empathy. A person only matters as far as what you get from them. The rules of society don't matter, only you do. No sense of remorse or guilt.

It's pretty clear-cut, to me. Autism may be an alternate explanation, but that really doesn't mesh with her attitude or sense of self-aggrandizement. ("The three A's?")

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If you want to prove they're wrong, then feel free to start any time.

If you want to prove me wrong, feel free to start at any time. You routinely dodge challenges to libertarianism. I don't expect you to stop dodging, but it would be nice if you did.

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If all you're going to do is keep repeating "sociopath" and "malignant narcissism," then I can only conclude you have nothing of value to add to the discussion.

As if I have nothing better to do for this place, apparently.

Offline consortium11

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2011, 05:12:02 AM »
In the US, Keynesians prefer market methods of protecting the environment where they are viable.

*Could be about to drag us miles off topic*

Surely Keynesian isn't a political position though; it's merely an economic theory. An economic theory that fits more tightly to a generally left wing ideal (although I doubt many of the sudden wave of Keynes fans who have appeared recently really support much of what he said) but still an economic theory. In the same way that the Austrian or Chicago schools may be a close fit to right wing libertarians... but are still just economic theories. One could relatively easily be a fairly strict right wing libertarian, hating all government interference but a (very) strict interpretation of the harm principle and still think Keynes has it right...

I was more reflecting on the Clean Water Act and similar regulations. And I was only contrasting two views of libertarianism - there are a lot of them.

My knowledge of the Clean Water Act isn't great... but isn't there a huge issue (and it's one that most Libertarians often point to with regards to large scale government regulation and legislation) that the agency enforcing it simply aren't doing their jobs... because if they did they may well lose them? Monitoring is meant to be a key part of the CWA but only around 19% of the rivers and streams have been evaluated... and "evaluated" does not mean that the water has actually been tested, with the EPA often relying (and by some accounts) encouraging "presumed", "estimated" and "extrapolated" results instead. If I recall correctly the EPA also tried to prevent the U.S. Geological Survey's attempts to create a national water quality database, with the cynical answer being that if nothing was found to be severely wrong the EPA would have its funding and remit cut (a similar argument has been levelled at the Natural Resources Conservation Service with regards to soil erosion).

Offline XajowTopic starter

Re: Libertarianism and Cooperation
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2011, 01:18:41 PM »
there is no room for favors

Classic malignant narcissism - you do someone a favor, you have no reason to return it. Have you ever worked with someone like this, Xajow?
People who don't expect special treatment and don't constantly think I owe them something? Yes, I have worked with people like that. I much prefer it.

It's a medical term, essentially combining the aspects of sociopathy with narcissism. It's not in DSMV but if there's ever a model for it it's Ayn Rand. Desperate need for praise, inability to handle criticism, and no regard for even the man she married to.
The first two parts at least sound like a lot of people in the public sphere. Hardly grounds for assuming they're sociopaths.

And it's about as tied to reason as any other mad ranting. That she claims it is does not make it so.
That you claim it does not, does not make it so.

You didn't add the quotes, though. Before I looked it up I thought she was referring to Chomsky. He has more claim to the title of Libertarian than you do, as opposed to the anarcho-capitalists who took up the term.
Than I do? You think you've got me all figured out do you?

She cultivated authoritarianism about herself, her philosophy is supposedly the diametric opposite of it - you are your own person and your only regard for the needs of others should be if they for some reason can further your own interests. It's amusingly hypocritical but probably works out for her in some insane Rand-logic.
See, now it's comments like that which make think you know only what other people have said about Rand. Actually, what her philosophy promotes is that every individual gets to be the authoritarian ruler of his own life. Which is one of my problems with her philosophy.

Well, you haven't told us which branch of libertarianism you follow.
Ah yes. "Come jump into a pigeonhole for us so we know how to judge you." No thanks.

Point being, there are a lot of branches of libertarianism. Some of them, yes, are very progressive. Some of them are borderline insane. Some of them -are- insane. We might disagree with which ones are insane, but I'm sure you think some of them are.
I cannot think of any that I consider insane. Wrong perhaps, but not insane. But then, I'm not quite as judgmental as you seem to be. Though I will say that a politically very progressive libertarian ideology doesn't actually sound libertarian to me at all. But I'll wait to see what such a person actually says.

And again, just because she considered some something so does not make it. The idea of happiness being contagious and friendships being built on favors is an entirely alien concept to her - so alien that she set her philosophy against it by declaring that altruism is setting oneself as a slave (!?). That isn't normal. It is normal for people to react and consider themselves a part of a group, however isolationist.
One, altruism was not an alien concept to her. She just didn't like it. Two, she wasn't an isolationist. Three, that you consider something normal or not normal does not make it so.

I call her a sociopath because that is what her philosophy espouses.
Yes, you keep saying that, without any real argument to support you. You just keep saying it and expecting me, apparently, to accept it as true because you say so.

It's what the heroes in her novels were. Howard Roark did not have the ability to consider others. No empathy. A person only matters as far as what you get from them. The rules of society don't matter, only you do. No sense of remorse or guilt.
The rules of society? The rules of society change. Often because people who don't like some part of them decide to reject those rules. There are people now who believe the rules of society dictate that marriage is something that should only rightfully happen between one man and one woman. Other people want to change that. The people who support the "rule" think those who oppose it are promoting a degradation of society. So tell me, should the people who want to change that "rule" feel guilt or remorse? My point being that challenging the rules of society is not a sign of sociopathy. Rand thought the rules of society should be different than they are, not that there should be none at all.

If you want to prove me wrong, feel free to start at any time. You routinely dodge challenges to libertarianism. I don't expect you to stop dodging, but it would be nice if you did.
Cute. I say feel free to start proving Rand wrong and you say I should feel free to start proving you wrong. I see. In other words, you're not going to bother addressing what Rand said beyond the usual simplistic judgments. So far, your arguments against her amount to little more than "she was a sociopath because what she espoused isn't normal," as if that somehow constitutes a reasoned argument against her ideas. For your argument to have any weight, you'd have to define normal, explain why that constitutes normal, explain why that normal is proper and necessary, and then explain why Rand's challenge to that is wrong. I'm not holding my breath.

And no, I don't dodge challenges to libertarianism. What I dodge is getting into a pissing match with people who are more interested in accusing libertarians of wanting to be slave owners or of wanting people to die alone in the streets or insane or whatever other nonsense they can imagine than they are in discussing ideas. Now I could sit here and trade insults over political philosophies. I've done that before. But that is a foolish waste of time. When you come up with a challenge to libertarianism that does not include clearly insulting accusations that libertarians want to be privileged slave owners or sociopaths or some other knee-jerk, ignorant nonsense, I'll be happy to address it. I'm not saying to have to be complementary. Let's just say something along the lines of "Hey, libertarianism seems kinda selfish to me," is significantly better than using a quote which says "That's libertarians for you — anarchists who want police protection from their slaves." One says you're open to a discussion. The other says you've made up your mind to trash libertarianism no matter what I might say. One is worth my time to discuss. The other isn't.