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On Intellectual Dishonesty, Relativism, and Subjectivism

December 8, 2009

Let me state it here, that of all the kinds and forms of smear or criticism, I most disgust and resent dishonesty, whether intellectual, ideological or metaphysical. Any critic who resorts to dishonesty- that is, by arguing his cause by means of dropping the context of your premise or statement, or resorting to adhominem attack- has nary a sane, proper argument to adduce.

Some people believe that mind's mind is invalid...

Some people believe that mind's mind is invalid...

I have seen a lot of their kind online, the kind of people who borrow disgusting statements from absurd intellectuals and use them against you. For instance, I have a lot of commenters who called me names and even described me as a member of the so-called Ayn Rand cult. This dishonest attack was perpetrated by a not quite acolyte of Ayn Rand named Murray Rothbard who later called her a ‘cultist.’ After he was ‘excommunicated’ from the Objectivist circle, Rothbard formed his own Libertarian-Anarcho-capitalist circle and wrote a book denouncing Ayn Rand as the high priestess of a secular cult. The fact is that Rothbard, who met Ayn Rand for less than half a dozen occasions, plagiarized the thesis of Barbara Branden, who was once a close friend and devout student of the philosopher. An intellectual fraud who had a long history of propaganda and myth-making, Rothbard unleashed his dishonest attack on Ayn Rand so to divert the real issue that he was a plagiarist. Now this is a good example of a dishonest attack designed to simply destroy the reputation of a person. Prior to his denunciation of Ayn Rand, Rothbard wrote a fan letter praising the novelist-turned-philosopher and her novel Atlas Shrugged. In his letter to Ayn Rand dated October 3, 1957, Rothbard wrote:

“Only twice in my life have I felt honored and happy that I was young and alive at the specific date of the publication of a book: first, of Human Actionin 1949, and now with Atlas Shrugged. When, in the past, I heard your disciples refer to you in grandiloquent terms—as one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived, as giving them a “round universe”—I confess I was repelled: surely this was the outpouring of a mystic cult. But now, upon reading Atlas Shrugged, I find I was wrong. This was not wild exaggeration but the perception of truth.”

I also resent the fact that my views are being associated with Libertarianism, a political movement that has no definite philosophical base and political direction. Libertarianism is a floating abstraction that regards freedom and not the individual as an end in itself. The political goal of the Libertarian movement is the enshrinement of anarcho-capitalism in the United States. In regard to anarcho-capitalism, I wrote the following:

Anarcho-capitalism is incompatible with Capitalism as it is incompatible with man’s freedom. Anarchism is a prelude to everything that man should fear, such as socialism, communism, fascism and every derivative of collectivism. A rational man cannot survive in an anarchic society where there is no definite, objective rule for man. You cannot put man’s fate at the mercy or generosity of a gang of savages who either harbor evil or altruistic intent and who have mustered enough power to rule and enslave men who don’t have the capacity to protect themselves. In a free society, we need the aid and protection of a government with a limited power. This is what Ayn Rand envisions, which is against anarcho-capitalism proposed by Murray Rothbard and his fellow anarchists. What we need is a separation of state and economy. In an anarchic society, there is no protection of contracts, individual rights, and mutual agreements between parties. This social system will only lead to barbarism and social chaos wherein power is within the reach of those who have the means to use force against other men.

I’ve also seen a number of commenters who called me names like “intellectual masturbater.” This malicious, empty charge is both funny and pathetic. This means that a person who graduated from an average school has no business talking about philosophy, ideology, or man’s intellect, and that the intellectual domain exclusively belongs to the intellectuals, academics, college professors. There were also a number of commenters who urged me to “drop my ideology,” and embrace what they call “real facts” or “reality-based data or statistics.” Although I did not exactly understand how they used the word “ideology” (if it were related to intellect or way of thinking), I thought that they didn’t want me t think.

This group of people simply forgot that we deal with ideas, and that we embrace a certain form of idea. For instance, one commenter urged me to argue my cause regarding the Reproductive Health Bill by dropping “my ideology” and use only facts and statistics to prove that “overpopulation is not the problem.” With all honesty, I believed that you cannot argue a certain issue without relying on a particular premise, unless you go by emotion and the whim of the moment. The premise of my argument against the RH Bill is based on “individual rights”, that this legislative proposal is impractical and immoral because it disregards man’s inalienable rights, and that it seeks the sacrifice and immolation of the good to the weak, although this was not explicitly stated in the bill, but this is only the means to achieve its ends.

Those who resent you for upholding a specific, strong idea simply believe that nothing in this world is definite, that that there is no such thing as objective or exact word, that everything we perceive is not real but a product of our mental distortion, that there are no such things as bad and good ideas, but only floating abstractions, and that man’s mind is impotent and subservient to what they call collective mentality. These same people unwittingly believe that the world has not improved, that we did not achieve this stage in history where men enjoy technological and intellectual stability by improving or changing our way of thought.These same people believe in relativism and subjectivism, two concepts that propose the primacy of consciousness over reality. In reply to a commenter who firmly believed that “words have no exact meaning” and that “we mean what we would want them to mean,” I stated the following:

Language is a tool and domain of concepts. With the exception of proper names, every word we speak is a symbol that denotes a concept. We need to have an objective language because language and concepts are fundamentally a vital instrument of cognition, not of communication, the latter being merely the consequence. You must understand that cognition precedes communication. You can’t think properly without objective words or language. Thus the main objective of language and of concepts is to provide the speaker with a system of cognitive organization and classification, which enables him to gain knowledge on a broader or indefinite scale. In other words, the purpose of language and concepts is to keep or maintain order in man’s mind and to enable him to think properly…

These grotesque linguistic devices undercut the cognitive function of concepts. I understand that the premise of their baloney linguistic devices is that words are generated by whim, they simply try to propose a choice of whims– individual or collective. It means that there are only two ways by which we can define words: “reportive” (to be determined by surveys or polls) and “stipulative” (to be determined by anyone else). This whimsical thinking only leads to man’s Orwellian destruction, wherein language is at the arbitrary whim of those who have the capacity to define words according to their collective, irrational or dictatorial objective.

The great men from the Age of the Enlightenment who ended the Dark Ages of the mystics and the religionists, were able to prove that reason exists, and that man’s mind improves and develops by observing reality. You start with what exists and never take things or issues on faith. They were able to prove that man’s mind is his only tool of cognition and that reason is his only absolute. You tackle a particular issue by using reason, a faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. You understand things by means of logic, which should be defined as the art of non-contradictory identification.

Logic means A is A- that you cannot contradict reality and that reality is independent of a man’s consciousness, beliefs, or convictions. A is A is the formula of Aristotle’s Law of Identity, which states that an object is the same as itself. You cannot ask a person to “drop his mind” to tackle an issue. Again, man’s mind is a tool of cognition and reason is his only absolute.

Related Blogs:

Language as Tool of Destruction

Self-Interest versus Altruism

Must Read Essay

  • Jim Peron, an avowed Objectivist, wrote an essay entitled Is Objectivism a Cult? In this essay, Peron analyzed the works of some intellectually dishonest people who spread a malicious, immoral lie that Objectivism is a cult. I honestly recommend this for  Ayn Rand critics and Objectivists.
53 Comments leave one →
  1. Joshua L. permalink
    December 8, 2009 3:38

    Great article.

  2. Wayne permalink
    December 8, 2009 3:38

    Man’s nature is all that is necessary to organize a society without a coersive monopoly. “Thou shall not steal” is a natural law that is as sound as that of gravity.

  3. December 8, 2009 3:38

    Man, you are the reason the word “Randroid” was invented.

    By the way, the articles Rothbard wrote on Rand are simply hilarious. He mentions how he was pressured to smoke to be like the high priestess.

    You guys can check out the Von Misses institute, here. This is Rothard’s legacy. Lots of great stuff.

    As for the plagiarism accusation… Stephan Kinsella, a writer for Von Mises, has done some groundbreaking work suggesting that intellectual property has no validity. Check it out!

    Pirate Rothbard

    • December 8, 2009 3:38

      I wanted to post a word of praise for this page, and will do so shortly. First this response to the above:

      I hadn’t visited the Von Mises Institute for years and popped over recently. To my horror high pitch anarchism shouts from many pages. von Mises is rolling over in his grave. The anti-IP lust is rampant. Kinsella’s typical justification of theft is not groundbreaking, it is boring and ugly.

      • December 8, 2009 3:38

        Boring AND ugly? Wow, I need to shape up!🙂

      • December 8, 2009 3:38

        You only need to lose one thing, Stephen: ……

        ….wait, no, i’ll post my comment at your “recant” thread.

      • December 9, 2009 3:38

        “Von Mises is rolling over in his grave.” Precisely…

        Based on Jim Peron’s essay I posted above, I have a suspicion that Murray Rothbard infiltrated the von Mises circle and the Libertarian Party. I have this honest observation that Rothbard attempted to infiltrate Objectivism that he even brought his Bastiat Circle to the Ms. Rand’s group. Fortunately, Ms. Rand knew how to psychologize a person. She was not comfortable with Rothbard. Things became worse for Rothbard when Rand and the Brandens found out that he plagiarized the thesis of Barbara.

        I am glad that Jim Peron came with with an objective, honest article disproving the accusations against Ayn Rand. To quote Peron:

        “After failing to impress Rand, Rothbard tried to forge an alliance with the so-called New Left. He presented himself as something of a guru to the extremists in radical Left groups like Students for a Democratic Society. His willingness to lead them into an anarchist paradise was shunned. He then joined the new Libertarian Party but also had a falling out with the LP because he accused them of selling out to the Right. He then split from the LP and joined the very Right wing he had recently attacked. He, along with Lew Rockwell of the Mises Institute, announced that they were paleo-libertarians and actively courted the Right. One of Rothbard’s contacts and friends on the Right was Samuel Francis, a man who easily worked with various racialists and anti-immigration activists. He was, for some time, a conservative newspaper columnist, but his dealings with racists lost him much of his support.”

        “Rothbard often had violent quarrels with others and individuals who he once praised as wonderful were immediately cast into conspiracy with Satan himself. For an example, see how he turned on Ed Crane and the Cato Institute after he was removed from the Cato board.”

        I think Rothbard was a man of many contradictions.

    • December 9, 2009 3:38

      “He mentions how he was pressured to smoke to be like the high priestess.”

      Did he? Can you even recognize the difference between fiction and fact. Now that’s an example of dishonesty. Rothbard wrote a badly written, amateurish play, Mozart Was a Red, wherein he stated that Ms Sand (probably Rand) pressured Keith (probably Rothbard) to smoke.

      The only legacy of Rothbard is turncoatism, as he turned to the Left and then turned to the right when he was ignored. He was an attention-seeker. He unleashed his attack on Ayn Rand to cover-up the fact that he plagiarized the thesis of Barbara Branden on scientism. he even plagiarized the work of a student’s doctoral thesis.

      Like Jim Peron said, “Rothbard distorted the facts when they existed. And when the facts didn’t exist to support his accusations he invented them. There is much in Rothbard’s account that cannot be verified by any independent sources. The only honest response then is to dismiss these charges as unreliable. Without evidence we cannot “convict” Rand on Rothbard’s statements. Where other facts relevant to the evidence exist they tend to contradict Rothbard. The only eyewitness testimonies we have are in direct contradiction to him as well. The only choice before us is to dismiss the charges. We haven’t proven Rand “innocent” but then no such thing is possible. But on these counts we can find her “not guilty.” We can never prove the innocence of someone: all we do is weigh the evidence regarding guilt. And in this case the evidence is lacking.”

  4. December 8, 2009 3:38

    Ok, here is the link:

    here.

  5. December 8, 2009 3:38

    Vincent this is excellent.

    I want to turn one thing specifically upside down. Where you are getting called a “intellectual masturbater?” No, the opposite. I’ve been around Objectivism a long time. It is rare that writers speak so eloquently in their own voice while actually validating the content of Ayn Rand’s thought. It is a pleasure to read your formulations.

  6. December 9, 2009 3:38

    To Stephan Kinsela,

    I didn’t know that the article I commented on mises.org was written by Stephan Kinsela. I was outraged. I thought that that article was written by an anti-individualism and anti-capitalism.

    My comment dated October 1, 2009, states: “The author has no clear understanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and the concept of intellectual property right. He suggests that intellectual property right, like capitalism, is a necessary evil. IP exists. It is a fundamental part of individual rights. There are goods, ideas and inventions because there are those who are able to create them. To dynamite this misleading essay (which is not even a good essay), we must proceed from the concept of individual rights.
    By the way, the author of this farticle exposes himself as a closet socialist… Does anyone agree?”

    Here’s the link: http://blog.mises.org/archives/010597.asp

    It’s disgusting to observe how Rothbard hijacked the von Mises circle and the Libertarian Party. A person who rejects intellectual property right is the worst defender, no, the worst enemy of capitalism. IP guarantees that you own the product of your own mind and that you exercise the right of ownership over your property. There are attributes of property, such as possidendi (poessession), utendi (use), fruendi (fruits), abutendi (consume), dispodendi (dispose), and even to destroy the your property and the product of your own mind. Now just because you embrace anarcho-capitalism, you cannot say that these things that made the United States the greatest country on earth do not exist. The rejection of IP is tantamount to enshrinement of communism, wherein all property, inventions and discoveries are owned by the people or the communal state. The IP and patent law are the reason why most scientists and inventors like Nikola Tesla migrated to the United States, the only country in the 18th century that respected man’s right to life, liberty and property.

    Stephan Kinsela and the people who reject IP and enshrine anarchism simply want to bring our modern civilization to a primitive age where rational, objective principles and moral philosophy are nonexistent. These group of savages are worst than the socialists or communists. They reject the idea that contradiction cannot exist. Philosophically and ideologically, they are Kantians, subjectivists and relativists. They don’t recognize the most fundamental law of logic, namely, Aristotle’s law of identity. They wanted to blast the philosophical foundation of the US– that man has the right to his life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness, a philosophical concept that made America the greatest country on earth. This is the reason why anarcho-capitalism is a dangerous floating abstraction which has no definite philosophical base and direction. This immoral, evil idea is simply anti-Man and anti-Freedom.

    • Stephan Kinsella permalink
      December 9, 2009 3:38

      One day, when you grow up, you’ll look back a bit nostalgically on the insanely silly views you held when you were a newb.

    • Jay Lakner permalink
      December 9, 2009 3:38

      “A person who rejects intellectual property right is the worst defender, no, the worst enemy of capitalism.”

      Because they believe that creating artificial scarcity is immoral and lowers the satisfaction of society?
      Because they recognise that a large component of human learning occurs via imitation and preventing this natural characteristic of man must lead to difficulties?
      Because they realise that, since all ideas are built on previous ideas, the restriction on the use of ideas must lower the net technological advancement of society?
      Because they understand that property rights are a natural result of the scarcity of tangible matter which in turn leads them to understand that “intellectual property rights” cannot be a fundamentally derived right?
      Because they know that the enforcement of IP laws requires the initiation of force against another?
      Because they have grasped the fact that IP laws are arbitrary in their duration and criteria?
      Because they loathe that a coercive oganisation with a monopoly on the use of force is required to enforce IP laws?

      I see.

      “They reject the idea that contradiction cannot exist.”

      Because they attack the concept of IP on the grounds that it contradicts physical property rights?

      I see.

      “They wanted to blast the philosophical foundation of the US– that man has the right to his life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness– that made America the greatest country on earth.”

      Because they advocate that that nobody has the right to initiate force against another?

      I see.

      “This immoral, evil idea is simply anti-Man and anti-Freedom.”

      I see.

  7. Ambassador Rosario permalink
    December 9, 2009 3:38

    How about Libertarianism taken in a context different from that of politics or the science (?) of economics? I think social libertarians have the most compelling mindsets and perspectives. They do not subscribe to ideological standards or the restrictions of social theory, which makes their assertions more worldly.

    However, as for other facets of Libertarianism, the fact that they (as you put it) have no political direction or philosophical base whatsoever, is because they reject the idea of a rigid intellectual structure. Some may find this a weakness (because they promote anarchy?), but these people are the forefathers of social progression. They are the ideal post-modernists of any era, which makes their school of thought timely in any context.

    • J. Brooks permalink
      December 9, 2009 3:38

      This guy, ambassador rosario, does not know what he’s talking about.
      “I think social libertarians have the most compelling mindsets and perspectives.” I think you need to learn more about American politics. What do you know about the libertarians? Where they borrowed their philosophy and political premise? How they got into the political limelight? Oh, snap! That “ambassador” thing does not fit you! I heard from Vincent that most people in the Philippines think they are good because they graduated from so-called high-end Catholic schools. Well, I’m not a racist, but that’s how most people in third world countries or poor countries view achievement and success…

  8. December 9, 2009 3:38

    “However, as for other facets of Libertarianism, the fact that they (as you put it) have no political direction or philosophical base whatsoever, is because they reject the idea of a rigid intellectual structure. Some may find this a weakness (because they promote anarchy?), but these people are the forefathers of social progression. They are the ideal post-modernists of any era, which makes their school of thought timely in any context.”

    Yeah, I agree, J. Brooks. This guy talks gibberish. I’m a Libertarian but this guy doesn’t make sense at all. Reject “idea of a rigid intellectual structure? Really? Define! “Forefathers of social progression”? How? Don’t just assume that you know something about the Libs. Yes, Brooks is right. Do you know how they got their philosophic base? Where’re they coming from? By the way, Libertarianism is never a school of thought, my dear. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard about the Libertarians! Arg! I’m sick of idiocy!

    I’ll let Vincent and John deal with Stephan Kinsella.

  9. Kerem Tibuk permalink
    December 9, 2009 3:38

    Kinsella is an IP socailist no doubt,

    but

    “It’s disgusting to observe how Rothbard hijacked the von Mises circle and the Libertarian Party. A person who rejects intellectual property right is the worst defender, no, the worst enemy of capitalism”

    This is not true. Rothbard, whatever you may feel about him regarding Rand, is not responsible with this IP socialism at Mises.org and he never rejected IP rights. The responsible person as much as I can tell is Hoppe and popularizer is Kinsella. I think Hoppe came up with the silly axiom that says,

    “property rights are assigned to resolve conflicts regarding scarce resource”.

    This is a whole rejection of Rothbards, natural rights theory. And IP socialism follows naturally. Of course not only IP socialism but a version of Georgism would follow from the same axiom if they went all the way to its logical conclusions but at least for now they are not trying to get there.

  10. Jay Lakner permalink
    December 9, 2009 3:38

    I’m trying to work out what the term “IP socialist” means.

    Socialism: A system that places exclusions on the rights of individuals to use physical property.
    IP laws: Laws that places exclusions on the rights of individuals to use physical property.

    IP laws are therefore a form of socialism.
    IP socialism is therefore clearly a tautology.

    Since Stephen Kinsella is not a socialist and since he is against IP laws, then isn’t he the exact OPPOSITE of an IP socialist?

    • December 9, 2009 3:38

      some of you may find the comments on Noodlefood about all this of interest. http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2009/12/objectivist-recants-on-ip.shtml#comments

  11. December 9, 2009 3:38

    How can Kinsella be a socialist, when he is opposing monopoly? Is it because he defines property differently than you?

    And if so, shouldn’t you be addressing the differences in your conception of property, without resorting to invective like socialist?

    IP is a state granted monopoly. In the absence of IP, the wheel, fire, language, medicine, mathematics and so forth were all invented. None of our latter day accomplishments under IP would be possible, without first the earliest works of sharing (your so called socialism) ideas and patterns freely.

    Even Rand, the great hypocrite on so many matters, borrowed heavily from Aristotle, and while she gave him kudos, she completely exploited his lack of the very IP protection she claimed was necessary for a capitalist society.

    You own your ideas. And other people own their ideas. And you both might have the same idea, at the same time, and IP monopolists cannot resolve this, unless they embrace Rand’s arbitrary notion of a race to the patent office (which btw was based on her misunderstanding of the patent system in the US).

    You as you don’t own my thoughts, you do not own what I do with my property. Just because you thought of a pattern, doesn’t preclude my using it, and to claim otherwise, would make you a thief of literally billions of patterns upon patterns which you incorporate into your existence every day, the overwhelming majority of which, were never protected, and you did not pay/negotiate for.

  12. December 9, 2009 3:38

    Kerem i am not an expert on Rothbard and only read two of his books, For a New Liberty, and Power, etc (can’t remember the name. Blew my mind about the nationalizing going on around WW1) but as I remember you are correct. I never heard him reject IP by proper govt. I could be wrong, however.

    I am not sure about “IP socialist” as a term. Clearly Kinsella et al are anarchists.

    Meanwhile we have Dixie Flatline and Jay Lackner issueing the usual same old. No time to counter and I am tired of correcting those trotted-out points by now. They are all off target.

    How about this instead:

    I have a saying that those who insist on perfection have not surrendered to objective reality on it’s terms. Well, man is a finite being. His context is living on earth with others and possessing a mode of cognition and will that fails (kills himself) under either force or wishful thinking.

    The anarchist’s lust for civilization with no government is a Platonic wet dream. They want the “ideal” to come to earth by magic and trump reality. Well reality is that man requires a culture of protection from aggression. The “Law” is the best attempt by rationals to fix the dividing line of property, both physical property and intellectual property. Where does my property end and yours begin? In the anarchist’s addiction to perfection he declares ‘no matter what, any state will be imperfect so I am going to go ideal and declare that all law is aggression/murder/theft’. Juvenile petulance.

    The anarchist surrenders reality to fantasy wishes. Instead of contributing to an ever more accurate body of objective law, they opt for the law of the jungle, kill or be killed.

    Stephen Kinsella claims that government empowered as “a single, finally arbitrary system of lawmaking and enforcement which asserts jurisdiction over non-consenting parties”* solely in rectification of the initiation of force is ipso facto “an aggressor.” This is so even if it is restricted to the above role: redress of others’ initiation of force. I will retract that as inaccurate if he responds that if government could be constrained to that role it would be moral and proper for man.

    This is a stone wall. If that position is held as axiomatic at the root of one’s politics, I suggest it is fruitless to argue. It is anarchism.

    Mr. Kinsella has argued elsewhere that “anarchism” is a neutral first position that does not say anything except “without rulers.” Well, no Objectivist wishes to be “ruled” either. However, totalizing a government that only uses police force in retaliation into “ruling” is disingenuous avoidance.

    Ayn Rand starts with the free, unencumbered sovereign in first place as well. Yet she — and thousands of other freedom-loving thinkers — have indeed been able to formulate the structure of a political system that does not violate individual rights. This has even been put into place, if imperfectly. This is called “Political Philosophy”, a normative branch of philosophy. And no, the current world political system is not an example of a proper political system.

    But an anarchist can formulate no political philosophy. Politics can not exist without government. If they list ways they “wish” people to behave while engaging each other, that’s nice, but it is not politics.

    It is particularly interesting to do this thought experiment: Under anarchism, what is to stop someone from “starting up” a state? There is no government to stop it. There is not even an authority anywhere to declare “you are not allowed to start up a state, meaning laws, definition of property, courts, involuntary action against a transgressor. Nope, that is. . . not allowed.” {I almost said “It is against the law to make a law.]

    Anarchism (and rejection of VIP along with it) is a self-consuming null.

    John Donohue
    Pasadena, CA

    *formulation by Tony Hollick. His use of “arbitrary” IMO means as in ‘arbitration’, not arbitrary as in ‘random’.

    • December 9, 2009 3:38

      A little too fast on the trigger with my spell checker there. I don’t mind saying it again:

      Anarchism (and rejection of IP along with it) is a self-consuming null.

    • December 17, 2009 3:38

      Actually, I meant “arbitrary” as in “imposed according to circumstances”: that is, an enforced pattern with no necessary relationship to any philosophical point of view.

      Tony Hollick

  13. December 9, 2009 3:38

    Donahue:

    It’s its, not it’s, and it’s Stephan, not Stephen.

    “Kerem i am not an expert on Rothbard and only read two of his books, For a New Liberty, and Power, etc (can’t remember the name. Blew my mind about the nationalizing going on around WW1) but as I remember you are correct. I never heard him reject IP by proper govt. I could be wrong, however.”

    This illustrates that you have not taken the time to educate yourself about this debate, despite your clinging to vociferous opinions anyway. I explained Rothbard’s views in detail in Against Intellectual Property.

    “I am not sure about “IP socialist” as a term. Clearly Kinsella et al are anarchists.”

    Socialism is the institutionalized aggression against private property rights. The state inherently does this; all states are socialist to one degree or the other. Minarchists and Objectivists are thus socialist too, to the extent they favor the state; only anarcho-libertarians are not socialist.

    “I have a saying that those who insist on perfection have not surrendered to objective reality on it’s terms. Well, man is a finite being. His context is living on earth with others and possessing a mode of cognition and will that fails (kills himself) under either force or wishful thinking.”

    This vague rambling does not justify the aggression that states commit.

    “reality is that man requires a culture of protection from aggression.”

    Bingo. You are against aggression. Good. this is progress.

    States necessarily commit aggression. THat’s why we oppose them. NOt becaues they are not perfect–but because they are inherently criminal. See my What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist.

    “In the anarchist’s addiction to perfection he declares ‘no matter what, any state will be imperfect so I am going to go ideal and declare that all law is aggression/murder/theft’. Juvenile petulance.”

    This is a dishonest smear. It is not petulant to oppose aggression. How dare you? We oppose the state because it is criminal, not because it’s imperfect. We do not believe law is aggression–only the state. We are in favor of law, of course, and only the ignorant would assert otherwise. The state subverts law.

    “Stephen Kinsella claims that government empowered as “a single, finally arbitrary system of lawmaking and enforcement which asserts jurisdiction over non-consenting parties”* solely in rectification of the initiation of force is ipso facto “an aggressor.” This is so even if it is restricted to the above role: redress of others’ initiation of force. I will retract that as inaccurate if he responds that if government could be constrained to that role it would be moral and proper for man.”

    An agency that uses force to protect rights is fine (and good). In my view it does not require the consent of aggressors to punish them. However, this agency has no right to use force to outlaw other similar agencies, nor does it have a right to compel citizens to pay taxes to support it. If it has neither of these power, it is not a state. THe problem with Objectivists is you support at least one of these powers, both of which are aggressive.

  14. December 9, 2009 3:38

    John, thanks for the response. Now were you going to address anything substantive in my comment, or just post a bunch of hand waving and strawmen?

    Anarchism opposes monopoly in security and law. To disagree with freedom in law, and in the choice of legal providers, is to succumb to the false objective reality Rand tried to construct around her subjective preferences. That there is one law for everyone, regardless of whether they can co-exist peacefully and happily without it.

    I suggest you read Lysander Spooner’s “Constitution of No Authority” and John Hasnas “Myth of the Rule of Law”, then come back and make an argument for the monopoly state. Both can be found via Google, and both should be very enlightening for an Objectivist who is true to the ideal of questioning ones’ premises.

  15. December 9, 2009 3:38

    Dixie Flatline I specifically stated I was NOT going to respond to your same old points.

    And, there is no such thing as law under anarchism.

  16. December 9, 2009 3:38

    Donohue: “there is no such thing as law under anarchism.”

    this is a legal positivist view that implies law is not possible unless it is promulgated by a state.

    But if this is true, this means the state is not and cannot itself be bound by any law. That means it is unlimited. Congratulations!

    Let me guess: you have never read de Jasay.

    • December 17, 2009 3:38

      Legal Positivism is a horrible Machian philosophy propounded mainly be German jurists, who asserted that, to be valid, a law must be enacted by the relevant State procedures. The content could be anything as long as the correct procedure is followed.

      Tony Hollick

  17. December 9, 2009 3:38

    Stephan, so, did you AGAIN spell my name wrong in revenge for spelling yours wrong? I notice you didn’t apologize for that on your blog when I nudged you about it. The score right now is about 2-3 times you spelled mine wrong to once I spelled yours wrong after addressing you perhaps 20 times. Also, thanks for the it’s lecture. Just a hasty oversight, believe me. Cute.

    Otherwise your post is just more wailing behind the wall. I won’t argue with it. You are an anarchist, fine.

    Wait…it can’t be wailing when there is only one note.

    Wait…you did say one thing of interest:

    “An agency that uses force to protect rights is fine (and good). In my view it does not require the consent of aggressors to punish them. However, this agency has no right to use force to outlaw other similar agencies, nor does it have a right to compel citizens to pay taxes to support it. If it has neither of these power, it is not a state. THe problem with Objectivists is you support at least one of these powers, both of which are aggressive.”

    I’ll respond to that later. No time now.

    Spell check report: found error in your quotation on THe and it did not recognize “Stephan.” I did not add it to my dictionary.

  18. December 9, 2009 3:38

    John, this statement by you

    “there is no such thing as law under anarchism.”

    is false as demonstrated by Stephan.

    This brings your entire critique of anarchism into serious doubt if you are relying on a flawed premise.

  19. December 10, 2009 3:38

    It’s pretty clear that Stephan Kinsella is advocating for the abolition of IP to justify Rothbard’s anti-intellectual, anti-capitalist act of plagiarism. Kinsella’s communistic/collectivist proposal has no room in our civilized world. The world has achieved phenomenal success because of this legal principle and the philosophy of Aristotle which is the basis of America’s Constitution. IP exists even in socialist countries because the free-market system compels the socialists to respect rational standards. China joined the WTO in 2001 after it vowed to recognized rational principles like IP right, property rights, among others.

    Suppose you have discovered a cure for cancer and AIDS, under Mr. Kinsella’s collectivist terms everybody who did not share your hard work and who did not spend so many years of labor, money, energy and efforts could simply loot the product of your own mind. Under the terms of Mr. Kinsella, everybody has the right force Bill Gates, Apple, and the inventors who worked hard just to profit from the products of their mind and ability. This simply shows that anarcho-capitalism is anti-individualism and is part and parcel of collectivism. It is a prelude to everything that a rational man should be afraid of. It is anti-man and anti-capitalism at best. Kinsella’s proposal and his anarcho-capitalism will only lead to a mob rule wherein only the potential dictators and the mystics can have an advantage over rational men.

    Kinsella’s anti-capitalist/collectivist proposal suggests that man is a slave and that men have the right to the property and the products of the mind of other men. That man is compelled by some sort of social contract to share his property and everything that proceeds from his efforts and ability to create wealth. The philosophy behind his proposal is “man is his brother’s keeper.” This simply means that anarcho-capitalism is gateway to various kinds or derivatives of collectivism. The axiom of Kinsella’s proposal is this Marxist credo– “FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITIES, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS NEEDS.” Ergo, Kinsella’s proposition is the best mystical tool for the looters and the moochers who only rely on the ability and energy of thinking men. It is a proof that anarcho-capitalism is simply a floating abstraction which gives due advantage to the mystics and potential dictators. Yes, Mr. Kinsella, you are a closet collectivist. You’re a collectivist but you just don’t know it.

  20. scineram permalink
    December 10, 2009 3:38

    Come and get us thieves and looters! Wee reside here.

  21. December 10, 2009 3:38

    Stephan is not advocating for the abolition of IP. He is advocating for the abolition of intellectual monopoly. Ideas and patterns are neither unique, nor scarce. Even Rand misunderstood the US patent system, and wrote a defense of the first to register system, which doesn’t actually exist.

    It is this sort of blind devotion to the Constitution and some arbitrary objective ideal that continues to apologize for whatever the state does, even when it fails the test of being a just government by Rand’s own standards.

    Vincent, the rest of your comment dodges any substantive debate on Stephan’s position, and mischaracterizes it. That is very poor debate form for a blog with honesty, objectivity and integrity stated boldly in the header.

    Aristotle pointed out the 13 fallacies, and there are several more.

    In your last comment, I spotted

    Appeal to emotion
    Strawman
    Ad Hominem
    Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc/Non Sequitur

    If you’re serious about being objective, and serious about using reason, then it is a contradiction to employ so many logical fallacies in debate. This is not Objectivist debate, by Objectivist standards.

    If you’re truly right, based on reason, I think you can deploy an argument based on reason, and not on fallacy.

    • December 10, 2009 3:38

      “Stephan is not advocating for the abolition of IP. He is advocating for the abolition of intellectual monopoly.”

      What is the difference? to be sure he’s advocating for the abolition of the state, which leads to the abolition of rights, including copyright. In that comment of mine, I had to be objective and honest in my observation of Mr. Kinsella’s proposal. That he is a closet collectivist , anti-capitalism, anti-reason, and anti-individualism.

  22. December 10, 2009 3:38

    “What is the difference?”

    Well, IP is not property. Or at least, not by any libertarian property standard like Lockean Homesteading Theory. If you are using a different standard, you haven’t defined it.

    “to be sure he’s advocating for the abolition of the state, which leads to the abolition of rights, including copyright.”

    He covered this in his response to John, and I also covered it by citing respected sources for John to check. The abolition of the state is not the abolition of rights. Even Rand did not believe that the state gave rights, but rather that rights were natural, inseparable from us as individuals. So the idea that only the state can provide law (by monopoly) or that the state gives us rights (which is completely inconsistent with the Constitution, Objectivism, Rothbardianism) is very incorrect.

    “In that comment of mine, I had to be objective and honest in my observation of Mr. Kinsella’s proposal. That he is a closet collectivist , anti-capitalism, anti-reason, and anti-individualism.”

    But that is simply ad hominem. You didn’t substantively address any of his arguments. You only called him a bunch of names, and then made an appeal to emotion with the AIDs example, which was also a non sequitur logical fallacy.

    Again, if you’re going to claim to honesty, objectivity and integrity, and based on your gravatar, I assume reason, then why you would employ fallacies that Aristotle rejected is beyond me.

    I suspect, when you sit down, and have a sincere debate with Stephan, you will both gain something from it. But to do so, you’ll have to focus on his ideas, not his character or motives.

  23. December 10, 2009 3:38

    “Well, IP is not property. Or at least, not by any libertarian property standard like Lockean Homesteading Theory. If you are using a different standard, you haven’t defined it.”

    IP is a guarantee that you own the product of your own mind and ability and that it cannot simply be looted by anyone who did not share your labor and hard work. Ludwig von Mises is now rolling in his grave. You bunch of socialists are now destroying his legacy.

  24. December 10, 2009 3:38

    “IP is a guarantee that you own the product of your own mind and ability and that it cannot simply be looted by anyone who did not share your labor and hard work.”

    I’m not even sure how to address this, because it is mostly rhetoric.

    I think we can agree on the following.

    IP is a legal construct by the state.
    Different states have had different IP laws.
    Despite different IP standards (and sometimes none), throughout history, creation, trade and ideas have occurred in every culture.
    Aristotle had no IP guarantee, and yet he still produced work that Rand later drew on.
    Rand did not “loot” Aristotle.
    You are not “looting” Rand.

    “Ludwig von Mises is now rolling in his grave.”

    I wish you would stop invoking Mises in this way. It is very disrespectful of Mises, who was a hero of rational thought. He would not have supported your logical fallacies, nor your rejection of individualism by way of state granted monopolies. He certainly wouldn’t have supported your invoking his name to shame people in this manner.

    “You bunch of socialists are now destroying his legacy.”

    More name calling. Aristotle would not approve.

    I’m not a socialist. If you’re going to make that claim, without rhetoric, but instead, reason, logic and facts, make the case. Explain how an intellectual monopoly is capitalism. I’ll be happy to explain how it is not.

    • December 10, 2009 3:38

      The problem with Kinsella’s premise is that it is tied to a floating abstraction which lacks a strong philosophical foundation. His advocacy for “the abolition of intellectual monopoly” and anarcho-capitalism is indefensible, for how can you properly attack a negative? Anarcho-capitalism, which is a floating abstraction, cannot be defended, nor can it be properly attacked, since it rejects established rational principles and it does not recognize the most fundamental law of logic, namely, the Law of Identity. Kinsella’s proposal, which is tied to a floating abstraction, is also indefensible for the same reason that anarcho-capitalism rejects reason and logic. It rejects the primacy of reality over consciousness. Both (IP premise and anarcho-capitalism) are detached from reality. Both are, epistemologically, metaphysically, and philosophically, impractical and evil.

  25. December 10, 2009 3:38

    “The problem with Kinsella’s premise is that it is tied to a floating abstraction which lacks a strong philosophical foundation.”

    What does this mean? How is it a floating abstraction (whatever that is) and what constitutes a strong philosophical foundation?

    “His advocacy for “the abolition of intellectual monopoly” and anarcho-capitalism is indefensible, for how can you properly attack a negative?”

    How is anarcho-capitalism or liberty (the absence of monopoly) a negative?

    “Anarcho-capitalism, which is a floating abstraction, cannot be defended, nor can it be properly attacked, since it rejects established rational principles and it does not recognize the most fundamental law of logic, namely, the Law of Identity.”

    How did you determine that AnCap does not recognize the law of identity? In what principles does it reject the law of identity. Please be precise.

    “Kinsella’s proposal, which is tied to a floating abstraction, is also indefensible for the same reason that anarcho-capitalism rejects reason and logic.”

    You have not proven this yet, only asserted it repeatedly. Please put forth a proof.

    “It rejects the primacy of reality over consciousness. ”

    How so? Please be precise.

    “Both (IP premise and anarcho-capitalism) are detached from reality.”

    Arguing by assertion again. You still haven’t offered a proof.

    “Both are, epistemologically, metaphysically, and philosophically, impractical and evil.”

    More assertions. Let’s break this down.

    How is it epistemologically impractical and evil?

    How is it metaphysically impractical and evil?

    How is it philosophically impractical and evil?

    You’re still not making arguments, only asserting, but I feel like there is the opportunity for progress here. Please respond with as little assertion as possible. Thanks!

  26. December 10, 2009 3:38

    Stephan Kinsella: “An agency that uses force to protect rights is fine (and good). In my view it does not require the consent of aggressors to punish them. However, this agency has no right to use force to outlaw other similar agencies, nor does it have a right to compel citizens to pay taxes to support it. If it has neither of these power, it is not a state. THe problem with Objectivists is you support at least one of these powers, both of which are aggressive.”

    Here we have the famous “competing agencies.” And they all have full power to assert jurisdiction over non-consenting parties. Now, “ideally” they would only do it against aggressors. But just as in the Objectivist model, there is nothing actually, proactively de facto unabling them from going after non-aggressors, taxing, regulating, etc. A normative does not have primacy over reality.

    The only difference is, now you have multiple (thousands?) of violent agencies at large instead of one.

    Stephan Kinsella: “…this agency has no right to use force to outlaw other similar agencies …”

    Random people could say, wish, hope and pray that each agency would somehow self-constrain itself from outlawing other agencies because it ‘does not have the right.’ But what would stop them from doing so? What would stop them from claiming overlapping jurisdiction? Claiming right of invasion to grab people it wanted to extradite?

    Stephan Kinsella: “THe problem with Objectivists is you support at least one of these powers, both of which are aggressive.”

    Well Objectivist political philosophy rejects compulsory taxation. So that is out. The only sense that Objectivism rejects the “right to use force to outlaw other similar agencies” is that for say, The United States of America (a country) to make war on another country (another agency) except in self-defense, is rejected.” There is no aggression in Objectivist political philosophy.

    Strip away all the wishing and idealism and Mr. Kinsella’s model does not really look much like ‘anarchism.’ (no rulers). It looks like the current world Balkanized into millions of competing governments.

    I repeat my anarchist koan, as saying it over and over can make you as dizzy as a Sufi and start giggling like a stoner: “A state with no state leaves you free to start a state.”

    Amazingly anarchist libertarians who have been thrashing Ayn Rand for the last 50 years because she makes the normative case that there ought to be one and only one government, duly constrained by the vigilance of free people, have constantly pulled a mirage out of the sand: their claim of “no state” is actually a call for thousands of states. This is a prescription for open gang warfare.

  27. December 10, 2009 3:38

    John, why wouldn’t you want competing governments?

    If you carry your argument against competition in law and security to its extremes, then you are indicating one world government is the proper order.

    As far as thousands of small violent agencies instead of one, isn’t the answer obvious, that it is easier to compete with agencies in competition with each other, rather than one monolithic leviathan state?

    To argue otherwise, is to make the case for monopoly instead of competition in markets because law and security are market goods.

  28. Rothbard permalink
    December 10, 2009 3:38

    “Random people could say, wish, hope and pray that each agency would somehow self-constrain itself from outlawing other agencies because it ‘does not have the right.’ But what would stop them from doing so? What would stop them from claiming overlapping jurisdiction? Claiming right of invasion to grab people it wanted to extradite?”

    Ok, I think we’re getting somewhere. You are saying the state is a necessary evil.

    But I want to hear why you believe that the state is more likely to exercise restraint than competing security industries.

    “There is no aggression in Objectivist political philosophy”

    I’m not trying to argue with you, I just want to understand your position.

    1. If there is no compulsory taxation in an Objectivist society, who will punish criminals other than security agencies?
    2. Do Objectivists believe the state has a right to punish vigilantes or hit men hired by victims who exercise proportional justice against criminals?

  29. December 10, 2009 3:38

    Rothbard:

    “Ok, I think we’re getting somewhere. You are saying the state is a necessary evil.”

    I am going to counter that, but just note that I would not mind “getting somewhere” also. Additionally, I am highly aware of the centuries-old usage of “the State” in the anarchist tradition. I get that you use the term “the state.” Ayn Rand does as well, but mostly in the identification of “statists,” those who want a command and control aggressive repression of people. I am not asking you to stop using “the State”, but just to understand that as a 40-year Objectivist, I get that anarchists and libertarians have a sharp image of leviathan in mind the minute government is discussed. We think they jump over proper government too fast and presume the worst. That having been said, here is my response:

    Government is NOT a necessary evil. It is one of the most important and good things ever invented. The protection of individual rights and rectification of assault against it has facilitated man to create civilization, wealth, safety, long life and happiness.

    “… why you believe that the state is more likely to exercise restraint than competing security industries.”

    If government is poorly constituted, it will attract power-addicted people and exploit loopholes to aggrandize itself. If the citizenry is lazy, a government’s illicit power will swell. Eventually the nation will be ripe for a dictator.

    Competing security industries that use force to protect rights and do not require the consent of aggressors to punish them are no different than the above, except in name. There is nothing to stop them from the exact same power madness. Add to that if they did go bad the fact they would be evil and they would be competing! That equals civil war or gang war.

    No matter what you call it, any system of lawmaking and enforcement which asserts jurisdiction over non-consenting parties, call it government, state or a security industry is potentially — potentially — capable of growing into a command and control monstrosity.

    “1. If there is no compulsory taxation in an Objectivist society, who will punish criminals other than security agencies?”
    Under Objectivist political philosophy there is government, but no compulsory anything. No conscription, no involuntary taxation, no regulation prior to crime, etc. Ever since Ayn Rand postulated this Objectivists have contributed ideas of how to finance such a government without compulsion. We have ideas. However, the task of getting to proper government is FAR FAR more difficult than figuring out how to finance it with no compulsion.

    “2. Do Objectivists believe the state has a right to punish vigilantes or hit men hired by victims who exercise proportional justice against criminals?
    That is a very specific situation. Why has the victim of a crime hired the hitman? Has the police force failed to rectify the crime?”

    Good talking with you.

    John Donohue

  30. December 11, 2009 3:38

    John, some issues with your latest response.

    First, you have not clearly responded to Kinsella’s response that you are incorrect about law originating with the state. As a 40 year Objectivist, I suspect you have held this view for some time, and in light of Stephan’s argument, I would suspect you have to re-evaluate some conclusions you have based on that false premise, unless you are able to refute it.

    Second, you didn’t address my points about taking your theory about government to it’s logical conclusion. If you don’t like competing agencies, with different territories, then you surely must be arguing for a single world government because obviously the world’s governments compete with different laws, traditions, resources and constituencies. How do you reconcile your position when taken to its absurd conclusion? Is A still equal to A?

    Next,

    “Government is NOT a necessary evil. It is one of the most important and good things ever invented. The protection of individual rights and rectification of assault against it has facilitated man to create civilization, wealth, safety, long life and happiness.”

    This has already been addressed, and yet you are re-stating it as a matter of semantics. Government is not the original, unique or sole source of protection and restitution. Please inform us if you disagree.

    “If government is poorly constituted, it will attract power-addicted people and exploit loopholes to aggrandize itself.”

    If government is properly constituted, the same thing happens.

    I anxiously await your clear and detailed reply.

  31. December 11, 2009 3:38

    Just for the record, I will repeat: I have decided not to respond to Dixie Flatline in this thread.

    John Donohue

    • December 11, 2009 3:38

      John, I can understand your wanting to avoid answering my points, they put your premises under scrutiny.

      It’s never comfortable to have our errors laid out so plainly for everyone to see.

  32. PirateRothbard permalink
    December 11, 2009 3:38

    Hey John, I left off the term “Pirate” in my last post, but I suppose “Pirate” and “Rothbard” are redundancies to the objectivists.😉

    1. Ancaps and Objectivists have different definitions of the word state. Objectivists talk about the state as either coercive or noncoercive. When Ancaps use the term “state”, it is implied that it is by definition coercive.
    2. Objectivists believe in two justifications for aggression:
    a. To punish citizens in an Objectivist state who’ve committed crimes.
    b. To declare war.

    But in practice I don’t believe there would much of any difference. Security agencies would strive for regional market dominance. They would usually only punish people in their regional market who have agreed to allow the security agency to punish them. The security agency would also strive to get agreements so that those who lived in their regional market signed away their right to punish others(including those who live in foreign lands) and allow the security agency to act on their behalf.

    When a person from Security Agency A’s market is harmed by someone who lives in Security Agency B’s market, Security Agency A would negotiate(aka diplomacy) a fair situation.

    In an event where Security Agency A believes that those who live in its market had been harmed by either Security Agency B or those who live in Security Agency B’s market, Security Agency A would attack the wrongdoers. (aka war)

    So I don’t think there are substantial differences here if you replace the terminology.
    3. Kinsellian Anarcho-Capitalists and Objectivists have real differences on IP. Ok, fair enough.

  33. December 11, 2009 3:38

    PirateRothbard,

    [I am sure you know Rand had a pirate of her own, but that is not me.]

    Aggression is the initiation of force. It is in this context the same thing as coercion.

    Objectivists champion a political system that utterly and absolutely rejects aggression in any form, by individuals, companies, groups or government. So, there is no aggression in Objectivism. The one and only case in which the use of force (use, not initiation of force) is justified is: the government of the nation, and only in retaliation and rectification of aggression. As I have stated, I support the adoption of that type of government in every corner of this earth. That responds to your points 1) and 2)a 2)b.

    I agree that if you take “security agency” away from your side and “government” away from me, you are dealing with the same problem: any politics necessitates an entity that possesses a monopoly on the use of force for the population subsumed geographically under it, and necessitates a populace that never tolerates aggrandizement of aggression in the entity’s policing. In the Objectivist politics, we wish that entity to be widespread. You or others will have to speak for your side, but clearly this attitude of not prohibiting other entities (therefore spawning thousands of armed entities) is to me a recipe for disaster.

    There is one distinguishing characteristic of Objectivism that pays off here: This is a deep philosophy which when understood leads to a type of individual not likely to be ‘soft on collectivism.’ This is precisely what is needed to keep the government confined strictly to retaliation against aggressors.

  34. Bongstar420 permalink
    September 12, 2010 3:38

    All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May you all be touched by His Noodly Appendages and thereby blessed with forever lasting pastalightenment.

    -Ramen

  35. Bongstar420 permalink
    September 12, 2010 3:38

    Please pardon the syntax error in the prior statement….the verb be should be inserted bewteen the words thereby and blessed. If that structure does not please the senses, one could rearrange the sentence to say:

    All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May you all be touched by His Noodly Appendages and thereby benefit from forever lasting pastalightenment.

    -Ramen

    By the way, read into the statement please. It certainly is not meant to transfer meaning at face value. Yarggg!

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