Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

Reexamine Your Premises (Public Schools Follow Up and More)

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Glenn Beck did a show on schools yesterday.  It’s amazing how bad the situation is getting and how oblivious people can be about the cause of it.  As you have probably noticed by the quotes recently I have been reading Saul Alinsky to try to delve into the mind of the other side.  I find this passage particularly illuminating.

Everywhere you look all change shows this complementarity.  In Chicago the people of Upton Sinclair’s Jungle, then the worst slum in America, crushed by starvation wages when they worked, demoralized, diseased, living in rotting shacks, were organized.  Their banners proclaimed equality for all races, job security and a decent life for all.  With their power they fought and won.  Today, as part of the middle class, they are also part of our racist, discriminatory culture.

The Tennessee Valley Authority [see Ronald Reagan on the subject] was one of the prize jewels in the democratic crown.  Visitors came from every part of the world to see, admire, and study this physical and social achievement of a free society.  Today it is the scourge of the Cumberland Mountains, strip mining for coal and wreaking havoc on the countryside.

The C.I.O. was the militant champion of America’s workers.  In its ranks, directly and indirectly, were all of America’s radicals; they fought the corporate structure of the nation and won.  Today, merged with the A.F. of L., it is an entrenched member of the establishment and its leader supports the war in Vietnam.

Another example is today’s high-rise public housing projects.  Originally conceived and carried through as major advances in ridding cities of slums, they involved the tearing down of rotting, rat-infested tenements, and the erection of modern apartment buildings.  They were acclaimed as America’s refusal to permit its people to live in the dirty shambles of the slums.  It is common knowledge that they have turned into jungles of horror and now confront us with the problem of how we can either convert or get rid of them.  They have become compounds of double segregation–on the bases of both economy and race–and a danger for anyone compelled to live in these projects.  A beautiful positive dream has grown into a negative nightmare.

Alinsky is noticing that every collectivist progressive project ends in disaster but he is somehow missing the conclusion that collectivism leads to disaster.  Instead he invents some nonsense about duality and uses this to deny causality all together in an attempt to free the reader from “the myth that one approach is positive and another negative,” since he claims that “there is no such thing in life.”  This logical process is astounding unless one notices this bit preceding it.

The prerequisite for an ideology is possession of a basic truth.  For example, a Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists.  From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order or the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage–the political paradise of communism. (emphasis added)

My mind is recalled to one of my first encounters with a Lyndon Larouche supporter on campus.  He said to me “no great thinker has ever advocated free trade.”  Naturally I disagreed with this so he challenged me to name one and naturally I said “Adam Smith.”  To this, he replied that Adam smith was not a great thinker.  It was at this point that I realized there was no point in talking to these people, not because we disagreed about free trade but because their logical though process was turned completely upside down.  This guy had decided that free trade was bad.  He began from this fundamental truth.  From there it was a simple matter to reason that anyone who advocated free trade must be an imbecile and thus the proof of “no great thinker has ever advocated free trade” is complete.  But this thought process is incapable of considering the question “is free trade good or bad?”  It has accepted the answer to this question as the axiom on which all logic is built.

Similarly, the Marxist is incapable of considering the question “is capitalism good or bad?”  Their fundamental truth is that capitalism is bad.  They in fact define capitalism as whatever is wrong with the current system.  Thus they reason that the government controlling markets, setting prices, restricting entry, giving subsidies to big business, etc. is “capitalism” and therefore capitalism is the root of all of our problems.  But this conclusion doesn’t come about by carefully defining terms and reasoning out their logical implications.  It comes from assuming the answer that you want to get as axiomatic and then defining things in whatever way is necessary to arrive at that conclusion.

Now Saul Alinsky does not claim to be a Marxist, in fact he says that it is his goal to disassociate the concepts of revolution and communism.  In my view though, all leftists are essentially the same, they just cloak their lunacy in different rhetoric.  But this is not really the important issue here.  These people’s minds are too scrambled to be changed.  The problem is that they are gradually scrambling the minds of the majority of the public who are otherwise reasonable. 

The way they do this is by taking a debate and framing it in a way where both sides implicitly accept their misguided premise.  For instance, we argue over whether gays should be allowed to get “married.”   If you say no, you accept the premise that government should decide who can and can’t get married.  If you say yes, you accept the same premise.  We argue over what children should learn in school.  If you say creation, you accept the premise that the government should decide what kids learn in school.  If you say evolution, you accept the same premise.  We argue over whether the Fed should raise or lower the interest rate.  Whichever one you say, you accept the premise that a cabal of private bankers should be able to set the interest rate.  Obviously further examples abound.

Getting back to schools, I also saw on the news today a mother whose son committed suicide after being bullied and wrote a letter to the President asking for help (she also had a daughter that she was worried about).  I’m not going to say that if we had a private school system nobody would ever commit suicide again but if you had a problem and you were that worried about it, you could put you child in a different school.  Instead if you have a problem now you have to ask the president of the United States to fix it! 

Everyone seems to agree that our schools are a disaster, but everyone wants the government to fix it.  We all accept the premise that schools need to be run by government, we just disagree about how they should run them.  Sooner or later we need to realize that the reason they are in such a sorry state is that they are run by government.  It is not a coincidence that the TVA, housing projects, Fannie and Freddie, public schools, the healthcare system, the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, Greece, Spain, etc. are all failures is not the great duality of the universe.  It is causality!  Reexamine your premises.

Atlas Now?

“…Objectivist ethics is the moral base needed by that politico-economic system which, today, is being destroyed all over the world, destroyed precisely for lack of a moral, philosophical defense and validation: the original American system, Capitalism.  If it perishes, it will perish by default, undiscovered and unidentified:  no other subject has ever been hidden by so many distortions, misconceptions and misrepresentations.  Today, few people know what capitalism is, how it works and what was its actual history.”

“When I say ‘capitalism,’ I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism–with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.  A pure system of capitalism has never yet existed, not even in America; various degrees of government control had been undercutting and distorting it from the start.  Capitalism is not a system of the past; it is the system of the future–if mankind is to have a future.”

“…altruism…regards man as a sacrificial animal, which holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.  The differences occur only over the question of who is to be sacrificed to whom.  Altruism holds death as its ultimate goal and standard of value–and it is logical that renunciation, resignation, self-denial, and every other form of suffering, including sefl-destruction, are the virtues it advocates.  And, logically, these are the only things that the practitioners of altruism have achieved and are achieving now.”

“…The social theory of ethics substitutes “society” for God–and although it claims that its chief concern is life on earth, it is not the life of man, not the life of an individual, but the life of a disembodied entity, the collective, which, in relation to every individual, consists of everybody except himself.  As far as the individual is concerned, his ethical duty is to be the selfless, voiceless, rightless slave of any need, claim or demand asserted by others.  the motto “dog eat dog”–which is not applicable to capitalism nor to dogs [that’s my favorite part]–is applicable to the social theory of ethics.  The existential monuments to this theory are Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.”  [recall that the author has some familiarity with the latter]

-Ayn Rand, “The Virtue of Selfishness,” 1961

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