Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Inauguration of Tyranny

A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. -- The Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776.


January 20th, 2009. Another “date which will live in infamy.”

Watching news media coverage of Barack Obama’s journey to the White House was much like watching the broadcast propaganda of a dystopian fantasy in films like V, or the Richard Burton’s 1984, or Fahrenheit 451 -- except that the news media is not a vast government department spewing out lies and disinformation, haranguing and brow-beating the public, but a nominally independent entity reporting Obama’s triumph with deliriously mindless happy talk. For all practical purposes, the news media have largely surrendered the sovereignty of the freedom of the press in exchange for the emotional solicitude of “hope” and the privilege of being a demagogue’s mouthpiece. That so many viewers and listeners disagree or are skeptical of what the news media has reported about Obama are blithely ignored by editorial writers and news anchors is a measure of media bias. We wish it to be so; ergo, it is true. He is our savior, our Messiah, our Leader. He will show us the way.

At a cost of over $150 million, the inauguration of January 20th had the character of a royal coronation (or a biblical pageant, if you will), witnessed by millions in Washington and on television by millions around the world, secured by 8,000 police, 11,000 military personnel, 1,000 park rangers, and countless plainclothesmen, and reported by a euphoric press. The millions who thronged or thrilled to see Obama become the 44th president of the United States are comfortable with the idea of being ruled, of being told what to do and why to live -- and with the idea of seeing those who neither need nor want rulers overruled.

Having written extensively on America’s Revolutionary period in fiction and nonfiction, I took special and personal offense to Obama’s Philadelphia speech on January 17th, in which he appropriated the Revolution without once mentioning the ideas that made it possible. In that speech, he turned those unnamed ideas inside out, pronouncing the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but meaning entirely different things by them. Your “life,” he said or implied, is not entirely your own, but your neighbor’s or the nation’s; your “liberty,” he suggested, exists as long it is regulated if not otherwise prohibited; your “pursuit of happiness,” he insisted, is possible but not before you serve and sacrifice for the good and happiness of all.

Lest it be thought that I am putting words into his mouth or twisting his meaning, read the transcripts of all of Obama’s campaign and acceptance speeches, and it will be seen that he is no friend of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness -- qua individual rights. Obama’s speeches have always been a broth of rhetorical ambiguities and populist language addressed to the worst in men, concealing an intention to rule, to decree, to govern like a prince with the unqualified leave of his subjects.

Obama’s admirers and supporters constitute a people who do not want to be free, and who do not want anyone else to be free. Allowing their emotions to govern their minimal thought and their actions, they have endorsed his notion that everyone must be tied in servitude and sacrifice to everyone else to “work together” for a “more perfect union.” Further, they view themselves as “victims,” and he has been the salve of their troubled souls.

I have argued for years that the Founders created a republic and were hostile to the idea of a democracy. Obama’s victory is a perilous instance of democracy in action. A majority of the electorate wished for bread and circuses. He has promised them bread and circuses. And uncounted tens of thousands of them have made what Diane Sawyer of ABC approvingly, but appropriately, called a “pilgrimage” to hear him promise them again.

But, listening to Obama and the obliging news media, one would get the impression that his “mandate” was unanimously granted by the whole nation. Not true. But Obama never knew the truth, while the news media has forgotten it or buried it.

An examination of his Philadelphia speech, however, is in order. That speech, like his past speeches and those of so many other power-seekers, is a conceptual mess. A line by line critique may be interesting, but fruitless. What deserves highlighting and closer scrutiny is his theft of the Revolution, for without that arrogant purloining of the Declaration, the speech would have had no substance. Obama dared not elaborate on the ideas that made the Revolution possible; they are radically antithetical to what he has professed to be the solution to the nation’s problems, real or imaginary.

It is noteworthy that while the terms tyrant and tyranny each occur twice in the Declaration of Independence, Obama dared not refer to them in the Philadelphia speech, either. Using them might have given his worshippers food for thought. Thinking is not what he wants Americans to do.

“And yet, they were willing to put all they were and all they had on the line -- their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor --for a set of ideals that continue to light the world. That we are equal. That our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come not from our laws, but from our maker. And that a government of, by, and for the people can endure.”


“They” were just a group of “farmers and lawyers, merchants and soldiers,” in addition to “fishermen, laborers, and craftsmen,” who somehow, for some reason, assembled to sign the Declaration, out of loyalty to a “set of ideals.” Which ideals? Private property? Freedom of speech? Ownership of their own lives? Ideals that they plucked from a tree? And how do those unnamed ideals continue to “light the world,” when statism and collectivism are on the rise around the globe?

Are we all “equal,” or equal before the law? And, before which laws? Objective laws that protect and ensure individual rights, or non-objective laws that rob us of those rights and surrender us to the unpredictable whims of arbitrary authority? And, no, those rights do not come from “our maker,” they come from a recognition of the nature of man as a being of volitional consciousness who must employ reason to survive, establish his goals and pursue them. Rights do not originate with ghosts, majority rule, or pragmatism.

It is the height of narcissism that Obama would steal from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as well, and change the meaning of that president’s words.

“We are here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began.”


What work was that? To expand the scope of government powers so they intrude upon every facet of an individual’s life? Obama taught law, but has he ever read even an infinitesimal fraction of the political thought the Founders read in order to argue for a limited government?

“Only in a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast. An economy that is faltering. Two wars, one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely. A planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil.”


The economy is faltering because of government interventionist policies. The two wars were against the wrong enemies; one can be certain that Obama will be as wrong-headed about those enemies as was Bush. And, no, the planet is not warming because of our dependence on oil, if it is warming at all. And our dependence on oil would be sustainable if we had free markets, if the government were prohibited from making deals with dictatorships, medieval monarchies and other tin pot regimes, and if the government were constrained from having any role in the economy. Economies are not created by governments; they can only be taken over by them, as ours has been incrementally for over a century.

Not all the news media are ignorant of economics or indifferent to reason. One refreshing exception is a brilliantly pungent article that appeared in The Scotsman on January 18th, “New president, same old snake-oil economics,” whose author warns that Obama’s plan to fix the economy by creating 244,000 new government jobs and 459,000 new jobs in “green energy” will only smother an economy already wheezing from federally injected emphysema. Gerald Warner notes:

“Overall, Obama promises more than three million new jobs. Unfortunately, some clever clogs in Congress with a ball-point and the back of an envelope spotted that meant a cost of $275,000 per job. Governments cannot create jobs. All they can do is invent camouflaged welfare programs. Only the market can create jobs; and massive “job” creation in the public sector destroys real employment.”


But Rahm “The Enforcer” Emmanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, once advised that “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” So, to hell with reason and costs and rights. It’s the perfect time to take over everything and everyone. Run Warner’s observation by Emmanuel, and he would growl and probably reach for his baseball bat. Run it by any random news anchor, and he would blink in utter confusion. Run it by Obama, and he would begin sucking his thumb in denial.

In Philadelphia, he decreed:

“What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives -- from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry -- an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.”


This is an especially significant paragraph. What Obama is stating is that the nation needs a declaration of independence from the Declaration of Independence, that is, from the ideas or ideology that made the Declaration possible, and from “small thinking,” a code term for selfishness. He is willing to draft that new declaration into a manifesto of “responsibility,” that is, the “responsibility“ of Americans to become a selfless zombie population moved by “giving,” “caring,” “service“ to a cause “higher“ than oneself, and “self-sacrifice.”

As for “prejudice” and “bigotry,” his entire campaign was based on just those phenomena, and have nothing to do with the economic “crisis.” He proposes to replace a crucial intellectual priority with a mystical one, that is, with a deference to our “better angels,” which one can only guess is a reference to man’s allegedly “innate” desire to sacrifice and live for others.

“Let’s build a government that is responsible to the people, and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable.”


It sounds benign, even banal enough. What politician indicted for corruption and serving time hasn’t said the same thing? But, given the statist and collectivist character of Obama’s political and economic program, this statement is a call for the government to be responsible for expanding the welfare state, and a call for citizens to blame the government for not expanding it faster and more widely.

Obama claims that he will make government “accountability” and “responsibility” two of his top priorities. Were this promise not taken so seriously by so many who ought to know better, such hubris would be laughable, given that he, Emmanuel, and so many in his administration are products of the Chicago political machine, given that so many are indictable Clinton era Jacks-in-the-Box, and given that he has nominated for key posts in his cabinet out-and-out socialists, such as Eric Holder as Attorney General and Carol Browner as his energy-environment “czarina.” Obama and his picked wrecking crew are sledgehammer- and shovel-ready to smash and bury what remains of the American republic. There isn’t a person Obama has picked for his cabinet, staff, and other government posts who isn’t already a human Petri dish of corruption ready to cash in on his power. No “idealistic” tyranny in history has ever been inoculated from the accompanying corruption.

Having used the Declaration of Independence as a crib sheet, Obama also wishes to scrap what remains in effect in the Constitution. The Wall Street Journal on October 28th cited his statements during an interview on a Chicago public radio station on September 6, 2001, that, in his opinion, the Constitution hasn’t been emasculated enough.

“Mr. Obama noted that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren ‘never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society,‘ and ‘to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.’

“He also noted that the Court ‘didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it has been interpreted.’”


That is, reports the WSJ, according to Obama, the Court was deficient in leftist “empathy” for whatever party in a criminal or civil case had not stirred the Court’s “feelings.”

“For the American Revolution did not end when British guns fell silent. It was never something to be won only on a battlefield or fulfilled in our founding documents. It was not simply a struggle to break free from empire and declare independence. The American Revolution was -- and remains -- on ongoing struggle ‘in the minds and hearts of the people’ to live up to our founding creed.”


The term struggle appears in every collectivist manifesto of the 20th century that I know of. Hitler used it, Mao, Lenin, Castro and other dictators used it, not to mention Basque separatists and the IRA, to name but two other murderous movements. It must also occur somewhere in Saul Alinsky’s books on “community activism,” which Obama plans to implement on a national scale. More prominently today, it is employed by Islamic jihadists. It is a euphemism for force and terror, and the password for establishing totalitarianism.

That Obama would employ the term should come as no surprise. Here he suggests that the American Revolution was but a first phase of the collectivization of America. Here he suggests that our “founding documents” were something akin to the progressives’ “living Constitution,” whose words can be interpreted any way one wishes, as long as it is a collectivist, non-objective interpretation. Note that he claims that the Revolution was a “struggle to break free from empire,” which is not true. It was a fight to free men from tyranny. Note also that he ends with a reference to “our founding creed,” as though the political philosophy of the Founders was a religion, and not a social system drawn from their observations of man and reality, that it was a matter of faith, and not of conclusions based on reason and empirical evidence.

“Let’s all of us do our part to rebuild this country.”


Here he pleads for Americans of faith and feeling to join him in a course of action which will not rebuild the country, but guarantee its ultimate destruction.

Gerald Warner of The Scotsman redeemed the reputation of journalism when he began his article on Obama with:

“Tuesday may be regarded by future historians as the beginning of the end for the United States of America….When a politician masquerades as a messiah, be very afraid.”


Why be afraid? Because such a messiah asks one to take his “truths” on faith. Men took Hitler’s “truths” on faith, as they did Lenin’s, Stalin’s, Mao’s, and those of other power-lusters, and observe what such faith wrought. Think of the intellectual honesty and fealty to reason it required to make such a statement, an honesty and fealty all but abandoned by the news media. Warner was able to see through all of Obama’s posturing and rhetoric and named what Obama is to himself and to his worshipping millions. Yet too many Americans are not afraid to submit to his will and to heed his sermons; in fact, they are eager to. Warner correctly predicts the consequences of Obama’s socialist policies, which are the country’s economic collapse and an accelerated decline.

I take the privilege and opportunity on this infamous date to offer an excerpt from Book IV: Empire, of the Sparrowhawk novels, from Chapter 10, Part II, in which Patrick Henry, on a famous day in May, 1765, argues before a hostile House of Burgesses for passage of his Stamp Act Resolves:

“Why are you gentlemen so fearful of that word?” he demanded. “Why have not one of you dared pronounce it? Is it because you believe that if it is not spoken, or its fact or action in any form not acknowledged, it will not be what it is? Well, I will speak it for you and for all this colony to hear!” His arms dropped, but the left rose again, and he shouted, stabbing the air with a fist, “Tyranny! Tyranny! Tyranny!” The arm dropped again. “There! The horror is named!”


And today, its name is also Barack Obama.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but this title is completely sensationalistic. Obama is no friend of liberty for all of the reasons you claim. To infer from this that he is a tyrant or that his presidency represents "An Inauguration of Tyranny" is a gross non-sequitur, and abuse of the term "tyrant."

For one thing, one can't be a tyrant yet without ACTUALLY BEING IN POWER AND MAKING SOME DECISIONS. But second, a tyrant is not just anyone who advocates collectivist ideas, and not just anyone who implements them. A tyrant is a leader who rules arbitrarily, without reference to the rule of law, i.e. a dictator. Obama has many flaws, but you present no evidence that he is or will be a tyrant.

Surely you will find if you consult Ayn Rand's essay "Collectivized Rights" that there is a distinction even between democratic socialism and dictatorship, and we are not even to the real point of democratic socialism yet.

Anonymous said...

So if a man advocates and implements collectivist ideas in a nation whose fundamental law represents the antithesis of collectivism, he is not ruling arbitrarily?

Regardless, you're defining tyranny too narrowly if you believe dictatorship is the only form in which it can manifest.

Burgess Laughlin said...

The second Anonymous says: "Regardless, you're defining tyranny too narrowly if you believe dictatorship is the only form in which it can manifest."

Perhaps a definition of each term--tyranny and dictatorship--would make the issues clearer?

John said...

Obama is the first anti-American president.
If you don't think that he is a tyrant then you haven't been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

The "community" thugs from the streets of Illinois (Cuffy Meigs et al) and the dreamers from the academic halls of California (Robert Stadler et al) now run this country.

1776, Part 2
Atlas is Shrugging

Darren said...

Thank you for this post, Mr. Cline. It appears that it's going to be the only positive thing I'm going to get out of this dark day.

Joe said...

I was hoping for some rousing words to inspire me on this day... and after being disappointed by President Obama's speech, I got them -- when I found your article. Thanks Ed,

~Cheers
Joe

TimC said...

Maaan, a dark day indeed. See this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51kAw4OTlA0

Ugh.

SarahG said...

I want to second the comment that this is the only uplifing thing I'm going to get out of this day. And it's uplifting not by virtue of its content (no way around that) but by virtue of the incisiveness of its analysis. I come to this blog to get an antidote to the uncritical pap in the media. I have never been disappointed. Well done!

Anonymous said...

"There is a difference between a country that recognizes the principle of individual rights, but does not implement it fully in practice, and a country that denies and flouts it explicitly. All 'mixed economies' are in a precarious state of transition which, ultimately, has to turn to freedom or collapse into dictatorship. There are four characteristics which brand a country unmistakably as a dictatorship: one-party rule—executions without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses—the nationalization or expropriation of private property—and censorship. A country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw."
--Ayn Rand, "Collectivized Rights,"
pp. 122-3.

Those are the essential characteristics of dictatorship, according to Ayn Rand. How about "tyranny"? Here is the closest I found to a definition AR gave:

"Tyranny is any political system (whether absolute monarchy or fascism or communism) that does not recognize individual rights (which necessarily include property rights). The overthrow of a political system by force is justified only when it is directed against tyranny: it is an act of self-defense against those who rule by force. For example, the American Revolution. The resort to force, not in defense, but in violation, of individual rights, can have no moral justification; it is not a revolution, but gang warfare."
--Ayn Rand, "From a Symposium," *The New Left*, pg. 173.

The language of a country that "does not recognize individual rights" is nearly identical to her essential characteristic of dictatorship. Clearly the concepts are closely related. And clearly our nation does recognize rights still, albeit in inconsistent, severely compromised ways.

If Mr. Cline thinks Obama is a tyrant, it seems that AR's quote suggests he would be justified in calling for violent revolution against our government. But that is ridiculous. We still have freedom of speech. We do not have one-party rule, mock trials, or even serious nationalization of property. (The last is the most ominous, considering recent actions towards the banks. But the banks have been in bed with the government since the creation of the Federal Reserve, and their nationalization is an almost perfectly logical consequence of their reliance on its welfare.)

In any case, I cannot emphasize enough that it is a mistake to overdo one's case against Obama and the like. The more we toss around flip adjectives like "tyrant" and "communist," the more these words lose their cognitive meaning, and the more justifiable our opponents become in regarding us as resorting to empty rhetoric. And should we ever face a real tyranny, it will be exceedingly difficult to denounce it for what it is, because the pejoratives will have been emptied of their force.

As much as I was depressed by the Obamamania of today, I do not seek solace in cognitive imprecision, especially not with regard to crucial concepts we must guard with our lives. What is uplifting about name-calling without justification?

Paul Cohen said...

To those who claim that Obama was called a tyrant, please cite me where Ed Cline's article stated that. The article refers to Obama as inaugurating tyranny.

Anonymous said...

To the preceding poster: as stern as your grandiose admonitions are, they are not as effective a diversion as you hoped.

To be sure, Mr. Cline and his readers are well aware that the inauguration marks the beginning of the president's term.

Calling Obama a tyrant is a keen prediction on Mr. Cline's part. It is the natural consequence if Obama successfully pursuits his own expressed ideals as president.

At this point he really has but two options, tyranny or hypocrisy.

For now however, if you prefer, I suppose we could compromise by referring to him as "wannabe" tyrant...?

Paul Cohen said...

To Anon,

My stern, grandiose admonishments not withstanding, you originally chastised Mr. Cline for claiming that "that he is a tyrant" and "abuse of the term 'tyrant.'" Your entire analysis was predicated on that premise. Now that you have corrected yourself that no such statement was made, please retract your statement that the title is a non-sequitor.

shahnawaz said...

why waste your energies on interminable quibbling?obama is a turning point because the media and a huge part of the population consider him a messiah, fuhrer etc.

what with a democratic congress,economic and political turmoil and obama's stated policies and background it shouldn't be surprising that ed and likeminded people call him a tyrant.call him the dark prince,little caesar,a trojan horse etc.what difference does that make?we are not a bunch of linguistic analysts.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone dared to read the second-half of the Declaration of Independence, wherein it is explicitly stated why the colonial Americans revolted? And explicitly declaring what they thought "tyranny" was comprised of?


1776, Part 2
Atlas is Shrugging

Jim May said...

obama is a turning point because the media and a huge part of the population consider him a messiah, fuhrer etc.

This is precisely correct. Obama himself is much less of a harbinger of coming tyranny than are his followers. The latter, who find themselves suddenly energized by the emergence of something they progbably didn't know they wanted -- a Dear Leader who will "save" them -- are the real story here. They are more portentous than Obama is. Watch them.

As Konrad Heiden and Leonard Peikoff both note, fuehrers are not imposed from the top down; they are brought forth by the culture, demanded, sought out and installed. If it were possible to go back in time and ensure that Hitler died in World War I, only the timing would change; absent a countervailing cultural influence, some other mediocrity would have eventually been brought to power in Germany.

A future ruler of Imperial America might some day look at Obama as a piker, for failing to grasp the crown that so many were willing to hand him. Don't think for a moment that those who harbor dreams of being that leader, have failed to notice that quality in Obama's followers. Such have always existed, but the peculiar kind of irrationality that multiplies and empowers such people -- historically most familiar in the Weimar Republic -- is now going mainstream, for the first time ever, in America.

America appears to be ripe for passing into its Weimar period.

djr said...

This Obama man is bad, real bad. The culture that makes his rise possible, now that's a nightmare.

Bruce V. Bracken said...

Even on the day before the Apotheosis, a Dayton, Ohio school superintendent warned students and faculty not to criticize Obama. Sickening.

Andrew E. said...

A bracing read! Just what I needed after the past week. I see we've some vigorous commenting on this article as well, not a bad thing by any stretch.
Cheers to those whose lights are still shining brightly and thanks for this article Ed.

Michael Labeit said...

To the first anonymous,

Liberty is the absence of initiated force. The absence of liberty is the absence of the absence of initiated force, i.e., tyranny.

Admittedly, Obama is no Hitler. But read what I wrote on my roundup post. Both the Citizens for Tax Justice and the National Taxpayers Union recognize that Obama endorses steep, progressive taxation, more so than the bulk of his former fellow senators. That, in and of itself, is tyrannical.

Andrew E. said...

"Both the Citizens for Tax Justice and the National Taxpayers Union recognize that Obama endorses steep, progressive taxation, more so than the bulk of his former fellow senators. That, in and of itself, is tyrannical."

This makes a great point. While it may seem, in a way, that we may be using the term "tyranny" too loosely, perhaps it is we who've come desensitized to the tyranny around us.

Must we literally be put in chains before we recognize the tyranny all around us?

Is the taxing of an *entire nation,* with the threat of imprisonment for non-payment, not the work of a tryant?

Are we not taxed against our will? Do you really own your car, or your house? Do you really own your wages, or your own business?
Try not paying your dues and see what happens. This is not tyranny?

To be sure, perhaps it is "unfair" in a sense to label Obama as a tyrant, with all the trappings the term entails, this early on.

Though it seems "tyranny" can be applied quite easily to the office he is about to occupy. We've no reason to suspect things will get better.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

A small comment on this part of the Philadelphia speech:

"What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives -- from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry -- an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.”

Together with Obama's claim that he is not an ideologue, what this statement sets up is the opportunity for him and his supporters to call those who disagree with him small minded, prejudiced and bigoted ideologues.
Those Americans who disagree with Obama have been put on notice here that they are to be excluded from discussion.
Very clever rhetoric, but as Warner said in the London Times, it will all "end in tears".

Anonyme said...

"Are we not taxed against our will? Do you really own your car, or your house? Do you really own your wages, or your own business?
Try not paying your dues and see what happens. This is not tyranny?"

With respect specifically to the ownership of wages, the 16th Amendment, with a stunning transparency, established nearly 100 years ago that, in fact, your earnings (incomes) belong first and foremost to the State, which can expropriate any portion of them without qualification -- i.e., for any reason, at any time, and without reference to census or any other form of enumeration.

Andrew E. said...

"...your earnings (incomes) belong first and foremost to the State, which can expropriate any portion of them without qualification -- i.e., for any reason, at any time, and without reference to census or any other form of enumeration."

My point exactly.

Anonymous said...

While I generally agree with the principals voiced in Mr. Kline's article, I am starting to see a trend in such writings by Objectivists--the trend of making statements but not citing references to back them up. Not that this is needed for Objectivist readers--we know these facts--but for the readers you need to reach--the Liberals and those who need to see, example by example, the supporting evidence behind these indictments against Obama.
The one problem I have in sharing these articles with my Liberal associates is that they come back and say "well he makes a lot of unsupported claims--where's the proof?"
In order to have the best chance of influencing Liberals, these articles need to be carefully referenced, just like a Wiki entry, with links to news articles, television appearances, sound bites--whatever is needed to back up each claim.
Unfortunately, Mr. Kline's writings will be written off and ignored at face value by the vast majority of non-Objectivist readers for this reason.

Burgess Laughlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Burgess Laughlin said...

>"In order to have the best chance of influencing Liberals, these articles need to be carefully referenced, just like a Wiki entry, with links to news articles, television appearances, sound bites--whatever is needed to back up each claim."



You mean, the way Ayn Rand documented her philosophical and polemical writings in her books, essays, and newspaper columns?



>"Unfortunately, Mr. Kline's [sic] writings will be written off and ignored at face value by the vast majority of non-Objectivist readers for this reason."



Ayn Rand's nonfiction writings generally were not documented like Wikipedia articles. They have not been ignored. Shunned, slammed, and misrepresented, yes--but not ignored by the audience that matters most: active-minded potential new intellectuals.



Here is my view of what historians--and, by implication, many other writers--owe to their audiences:



http://aristotleadventure.blogspot.com/2008/
03/what-do-historians-owe-to-their.htm

Anonymous said...

I have to tell you all that I am shocked to see the ignorance displayed here. My last intention is to offend the author, or the readers of this article, however, I notice that censorship has been exercised even here. To be honest, after seeing that comments have been deleted from the page, I realize the hypocrisy in America is endless. Even people I would normally see eye to eye with seem to be corrupted. Censorship is corrupt. The fact that even here, on a small blog, we see our own version of tyranny, shows me that nobody is pure. Perhaps nobody is fit to lead this many people to the grocery store, much less to a brighter future. I am assuming that only a few will see my comments here, because even though I have written them with respect, they are contrary to the message, so they must be abolished. That is freedom today.
I consider myself a true patriot, but that means I love my land, not my government. I do not want to see America become the next Rome. Does anyone else see that we need to change to survive? We can't expect that living selfishly will keep us on top any longer. The rest of the world wants us turned to shadows.

Burgess Laughlin said...

Anonymous (or one of them): "I notice that censorship has been exercised even here. To be honest, after seeing that comments have been deleted from the page, I realize the hypocrisy in America is endless. Even people I would normally see eye to eye with seem to be corrupted. Censorship is corrupt. The fact that even here, on a small blog, we see our own version of tyranny, shows me that nobody is pure."

Censorship is the initiation of physical force (including the threat of it) to prevent one person from communicating with others.

Where do you see that use of physical force?

Anonymous said...

Burgess Laughlin replied to "Anonymous" about the latter's charge that the blog host was practicing censorship (so no one should throw the first stone at government censors?):

"Censorship is the initiation of physical force (including the threat of it) to prevent one person from communicating with others.

Where do you see that use of physical force?"

In seconding Burgess, since this blog is a form of private property, the blog host is exercising his right to permit or deny opinions, statements or positions on HIS blog. The key term here is "property." In deleting opinions and the like from his blog, he is not practicing censorship, and he can delete such opinions for whatever reason he likes.

A true censor, however, in employing physical force thru government action, is dictating how that private property can be used, if at all. Rand pointed out that without private property, freedom of speech an hardly be exercised.

Ed

Anonymous said...

Here are a couple definitions:

Main Entry:
cen·sor·ship
Pronunciation:
\ˈsen(t)-sər-ˌship\
Function:
noun
Date:
circa 1591

1 a: the institution, system, or practice of censoring b: the actions or practices of censors ; especially : censorial control exercised repressively2: the office, power, or term of a Roman censor3: exclusion from consciousness by the psychic censor

2 censor
Function:
transitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
cen·sored; cen·sor·ing \ˈsen(t)-sə-riŋ, ˈsen(t)s-riŋ\
Date:
1882

: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable (censor the news) ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable (censor out indecent passages)

I have to pose this question:
Where do you see physical force?

It is nowhere in the definition. And, even if it was, I wasn't trying to get into a semantic argument, I think everyone who read my posting is intelligent enough to understand the context. Even if their believed definition is incorrect and incongruent with the Dictionary. I was trying to express my belief that there are major faults in all arguments, including ones I may agree with.

Secondly, I do believe the author has every right imaginable to edit his/her own private property (intellectual property in this instance). I do, however, find it closed-minded and ironic. In conclusion, my point (I suppose) is that anyone with such strong convictions (myself included) should be able to openly defend their ideals, not brush dissenting opinions under the proverbial carpet. I find debates to be much more stimulating than soapboxes, don't you? I think that's what binds us all.

Burgess Laughlin said...

In the first place, dictionaries typically don't define concepts, they merely record common usages of terms.

> "1 a: the institution, system, or practice of censoring b: the actions or practices of censors ; especially : censorial control exercised repressively2: the office, power, or term of a Roman censor"

> "Where do you see physical force?"

In the usages you yourself cited. Hints: "repressively" and, as a historical example, the "office . . . of a Roman censor."

Setting all that aside, what sets the context for this discussion of Ed's article is the philosophy of Objectivism. In that context, "censorship" is the term naming the concept that refers to a certain kind of act of aggression by government. See "Censorhip" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. E.g., note:

"'Censorship' is a term pertaining only to governmental action. No private action is censorhip." (Quoted from the first excerpt, which in turn comes from "Man's Rights, on p. 98 [pb] of The Virtue of Selfishness.)

By contrast, your supposed concept of censorship is an invalid concept. It is a package deal. It attempts to combine the virtuous (exercise of property rights) with the vicious (aggression by government against individuals who want to communicate).

The main points of this discussion have been covered. This is the end of my contribution.

Nicholas Provenzo said...

Not to ruin the fun, but no one here has deleted any comments posted to this blog entry. In fact, I cannot recall the last comment I deleted it was that long ago (and such an obvious violation of this website's TOS it would hardly be missed).

Thus any charge of "censorship" is not only mistaken for the philosophic reasons that have been outlined here, it is simply not something that has occurred on this website in any way, shape or form.

Burgess Laughlin said...

Nicholas, I suspect "Anonymous" was confused by the words

"Comment deleted
This post has been removed by the author.

1/27/09 1:27 PM"

Perhaps he thought "the author" was Ed. In fact, it was me. I was the author of a comment that I deleted because it was not accurate. I followed with a corrected comment.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cline:

Re: The Trend of Your Political Articles Up To and Including the Obama-Related

What possible gratification can you find in following, articulating, and decrying the decline and possible fall of the United States of America under Bush, previously, and now Obama? Your clarion calls in defense of national ideals are inspired and melodic, but such noble efforts seem wasted given the apathetic, deaf and decadent context of the times; indeed, I have an impression of you valiantly, but foolishly, trying to pitch a tent in an avalanche.

Why dwell on and deplore the frayed American fabric? I say: disburden yourself now and bide your time to mend it. I suspect popular revolutionary sentiment in favor of significant, positive, rational change in American government and society will ONLY be kindled in response to the government's actual attempt to threaten or apply--for whatever "reasons"--physical violence against its citizens. Yes, I think American government MUST sink THAT low before widespread public alarm and indignation will blaze up, inspiring legions of individuals to reclaim, champion, and demand their fundamental American rights. And THAT will be the time for eloquent appeals like your own. Appeals to reason. Appeals to principled action. Appeals to re-establish and sustain--in the words of Benjamin Franklin--"a republic--if you can keep it."

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm comparing the inauguration of Obama to a horrific event that cost more than 2 thousand American lives. Classy.

Shaun Connell said...

Occasionally, I come back to this article and read it out loud.

Well said, sir.