BLOODHOUNDBLOG.COM

There’s always something to howl about

SplendorQuest: A rallying cry for the Tea Party rebellion: “You’re not the boss of me!”

I’m kicking this back to the top, which I think means no one will read it. ;) In fact, I’m moving stuff like this to SplendorQuest.com, going forward. I think this an insanely-great essay, but it reads better elsewhere.

But: The comments to this post are amazing, BloodhoundBlog at its very best. Here are two of my remarks, illuminating why I am moving content like this and what I plan to do at SplendorQuest.com:

Celebrating my self: I have amazing things to say about the ontology and teleology of egoism and individualism, and virtually no one is paying any attention at all. I would be frustrated, except I can’t be: It’s raining soup in my mind, even if in no one else’s.

And:

I don’t have any organizational goals, I just want to induce people to think better, if I can. It’s a good thing for me, in the long run, since I stand to do better when other people do better — and since I’m pretty much incinerator-bait if things go to hell. But I know that the people I’m talking to will do better if they learn to seek Splendor in their lives. If I give anyone any time at all, my objective is to get that person to question his most basic assumptions about how the universe works. That much is not a kindness, at least at first, since people don’t generally love having the stilts kicked out from under them. But that’s “how much and how far” I want to go. There is no other way to get here from there.

“Save the world from home in your spare time!” I love that joke. But that’s what I plan to do, as time and minds permit. Come play with me, if the quest for Splendor moves you. –GSS

 
A rallying cry for the Tea Party rebellion: “You’re not the boss of me!”

I love that phrase — “You’re not the boss of me!” — those words, that order, that emphasis. Children say it when they’re put upon, and I love it so much I write it into their mouths in fiction, too.

The sentence has that structure because the child has self-abstracted the genitive idea, the idea of “of-ness” — the relationship of dominance defined by every form of possession. “You’re not my boss!” is a learned shortening of the same idea, but “You’re not the boss of me!” is a completely self-abstracted, self-constructed sentence, which in turn expresses in the most succinct possible form a completely self-abstracted philosophy.

We spend a lot of time laughing at how silly children’s ideas are, but we never stop to marvel at everything they had to work out in order to have ideas of their own. To say that one simple sentence — “You’re not the boss of me!” — the child had to work out the idea of his own undeniable, inescapable ontological autonomy.

I could spend a month defending the idea of an “undeniable, inescapable ontological autonomy,” but I had to understand the raw essence of that idea as a four-year-old — and so did you!

We were all children once, and we had amazing minds — before we trained ourselves to be stupid. And we were vessels of pure truth — before we learned how to lie. Before we learned how to say anything other than “You’re not the boss of me!” Or, worse, learned how to say “I am the boss of you!”

The world is wide, and I have seen it in little more than glimpses, but it would not surprise me if the first complete sentence to emerge from the mouth of any normal child would take this form: “Mine!” It amounts to using the imperative to express the genitive: “That is my property, and I will thank you to get your grubby mitts off of it!” Compared to a child of that age, just about any dog could do better job at making the point, but the child has already done what the dog can never do:

The child has conceptually abstracted the idea of personal property as a value.

What was the first day you were alive as a human being? On which day of your life did you come to be awake as a self-aware free moral agent, motivated by nothing but your self, by nothing but your own self-abstracted idea of how you should behave? You may not be convinced, by now, that you are, in fact, a being of undeniable, inescapable ontological autonomy, but it was that idea that you were expressing the first time you said “Mine!” or “No!”

You had expressed those sentiments physically, in mothertongue, many times before — just as the dog had done. But when you expressed those ideas in words, in concepts, it was at that instant, if we must draw a bright line, that you stopped being an animal and became a human being.

Do you need a continuum instead? Fine. That instant marks the first positive number on the continuum of your graduation from being an animal into becoming a human being. And by the time you got around to expressing an idea so complex as “You’re not the boss of me!” — by then you were nearly done understanding the world on your own.

I call this the age of conceptual fluency, and, like every other metamorphic process, it really is more useful to think of it as a continuum. It might begin when the is child two or three, with expressions in fathertongue — “No!” or “Mine!” — even if reinforced in mothertongue. I expect it to be done — a child who lives life in fathertongue virtually all the time — by age five.

Keep this fresh in your mind: By age five, you yourself and nearly every other person you will ever know, had abstracted in its entirety a complete — and completely captivating — philosophy of individualism.

At five, you could not have defended the idea that “You’re not the boss of me!” the way I can do it today, but at that age you and they and everyone regarded that expression as a completely obvious, completely indisputable political philosophy. What you and everyone actually said was this:

“I am a being of undeniable, inescapable ontological autonomy. It is wrong for you to attempt to dominate me, not just because that would be morally wrong but, most importantly, because my nature as a thing forbids it.

“This is a statement of obvious fact — obvious to observation, but, most especially, obvious to self-observation, to introspection. You know that I am a being of undeniable, inescapable ontological autonomy because you know that you yourself are a being of undeniable, inescapable ontological autonomy, and you know we are alike as things.

“This fact is undeniable, which means you can deny it only by being knowingly deceitful or in grievous error.

“This fact is inescapable, since no matter what deceitful or erroneous statements you might make about the idea of human autonomy — volitional conceptuality and concept-driven volitionality — free moral agency — free will — it is nevertheless always the case that we each are never other than and never more than beings of undeniable, inescapable ontological autonomy.

“Therefore, my own autonomy — and hence yours — is an ontological fact — a property of my being as a thing — an inalienable manifestation of my identity as an entity.”

That’s a boatload of philosophy for a child so small, isn’t it? You should pat yourself on the back. You couldn’t express those ideas in those words at that age, but it remains that you understood every principle of that argument when you were three or four years old. You had to have understood those principles in order to have said “You’re not the boss of me!”

Now when you were four, having declared, “You’re not the boss of me!” very probably someone scooped you up and carried you off to whatever fate you were resisting. You screamed and writhed in outrage, correctly identifying this as a crime against your autonomy, but your parents or an older sibling proceeded to push you around anyway. You may want to claim that this was dominance, even though we just established that it is not possible for one person to dominate another. In fact, what was done to you was not dominance but simply coercion.

If you are big enough, or if you run in a gang, you can coerce my body, pushing me around like a mannequin. You can bind my limbs or lock me in a jail cell. You can beat me, torture me, even kill me. But what you cannot do is cause me to take any sort of purposive action. I can voluntarily relent to your demands out of fear of even worse pain, but, if I choose to resist you, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot dominate me, not ever.

Want proof? If you believe you can dominate my will, raise my hand.

I am free from you ontologically, as a manifestation of my identity as a thing. You can enslave my body with chains, but you cannot ever enslave my will. You are not the boss of me, not ever.

You are not the boss of anyone except yourself. I am not the boss of anyone except myself. Adults can have a caretaker responsibility for children — or for mentally-defective or ill or severely-injured relatives — while those folks are unable to manage their own autonomy. But no one ever has the power to control another person’s purposive actions from the outside. As human beings, we are each one of us free from all the others.

So suppose you take it into your head that you should be able to tell me which weapons I can purchase, how many I can own, what ammunition I can use with those weapons, in what loads and in what quantities? Suppose you resolve to dictate to me how many rounds of ammunition my firearms can deploy at one time? Guess what? You’re not the boss of me.

Do you imagine that you have the right to tell me what work I can do, how I must do it and at what rate of pay? Not likely. You’re not the boss of me.

Have you determined that it’s your business what food, drink or other substances I put into my body? Think again. You’re not the boss of me.

Can’t get your mind off sex? Are you obsessed with dictating to me whom I can make love to, how, with which organs or artifacts? You should seek help for your mental fixations, but, in the mean time: You’re not the boss of me.

Is it your plan to insist that you can rightfully take my land to do what you want with it? You had better bring a big gang, because you’re not the boss of me.

Do you claim that your poverty or your poor health are somehow my responsibility? Ask me for money and I might give you some. Demand that money at gun-point and you’ll find out why I didn’t let you take away my guns. I’m sorry your life is not all you wish it could be, but your suffering is not my fault. No matter how pitifully you portray your condition, you are not the boss of me.

Stripped of all the confusing rhetoric, the Tea Party is a slave rebellion. American taxpayers have finally had enough of being ordered around by any charlatan with the chutzpah to declare, “I am the boss of you!” Ours is a tyranny by proxy. The guns and prisons belong to the state, not to the ugly ideologues who are constantly threatening to imprison you for daring to defy them. But it is a tyranny nevertheless, and the Tea Party is the first meaningful resistance to government to be seen in America for many, many decades.

But the Tea Party is a slave rebellion enshrouded in a fog of confusing rhetoric. Cut my taxes, but don’t cut me off from the Social Security ponzi scam. Get your damn laws out of my gun safe, but you-betcha-by-golly I plan to censor pornography. Don’t you dare tell me where I can build my church, but don’t you dare let those heathen bastards build their temple of heresy in my town!

Here is the way the world really works: When you say, “You’re not the boss of me!” you are making a very powerful statement in support of human liberty. But when you say “I am the boss of you!” — then you are the enemy. The enemy of human liberty, but, ultimately, the enemy of human life on earth.

We are what we are ontologically, as objective entities. You cannot control my purposive behavior. All you can do is damage my life — and your own — in your futile attempts to dominate me by means of criminal coercion.

What should you really want from government? How about this? No crime.

We can argue elsewhere about coercive responses to thugs or rapists or thieves. In reality, almost none of us are criminals, seeking to live a life of havoc or predation. The question everyone interested in the Tea Party should ask himself is this one: Under what circumstances can I declare myself to be my neighbor’s boss?

By what right do I presume to tell my neighbor what weapons he can own?

By what right does he tell me which books I can read?

By what right do I dictate the terms by which an entrepreneur can run his business?

By what right does he tell me what goods I can and cannot buy?

By what right do I tell strangers that their love is wrong?

By what right do they tell me what to teach my children?

You knew the answers to all of these questions when you were five years old: You are not your brother’s keeper, but, much more importantly, you are not your brother’s boss.

You say you want a revolution? Here’s where it starts: You don’t want less government, you want no government, as little as you can achieve today, and still less tomorrow. You don’t want anyone pushing you around, but what that means is that you don’t want anyone — including you — pushing anyone else around.

Are you waiting with bated breath for Congress to fail to repeal socialized medicine, so it can get busy failing to defund public broadcasting? How about you do this instead? Get rid of every regulation on business or labor in your town. Repeal the zoning and planning laws. Depopulate City Hall and then sell the building. Get every government in your state out of the education business, out of the marriage and family business, out of commerce, out of the real estate business, out of the roads business — out of the busy-body business in every conceivable way. Reduce every tax you can, and then keep reducing them, any of them, all of them, all the time.

When government uses coercion against people innocent of all wrong-doing, this is crime. How much crime should you be willing to tolerate in your life? How much crime is the perfect amount? My answer is zero. Before you name any other quantity, stop to think about how the criminally coercive power you propose to unleash will be used on you and the people you love.

If you want to be free from government coercion, you have to rid your life of slave-masters, of people who insist that they somehow have the right or the power to order you around. We are lucky in this country that we can effect our revolution peacefully, at the ballot box. But it is a revolution we must undertake, unless we are to live as slaves forevermore.

And what should be the rallying cry of that revolution? I vote for this profoundly important philosophical principle:

“You’re not the boss of me!”

Related posts:
  • Just Because You’re More Visible Doesn’t Mean You’re More Valuable
  • If you’re having trouble accessing BloodhoundBlog . . .
  • From Man Alive! – “You’re in this all alone.”

  • 41 comments

    41 Comments so far

    1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Real Estate Feeds and Karen Bice, Tom Hunter. Tom Hunter said: A rallying cry for the Tea Party rebellion: “You’re not the boss of me!”: I love that phrase — “You’re not the b… http://bit.ly/hazh8E [...]

    2. Sean Purcell January 24th, 2011 1:28 pm

      I had to think long and hard about your base premise (that a 4 or 5 year old is not simply and stubbornly trying to avoid something they don’t want to do). But it keeps coming back to that sentence – the choice of those words. That is definitely a conceptual expression of the child’s awareness of their individual autonomy.

      One of your best ever Greg. Once you move past “genetive” and “self-abstracted” (causing me multiple Google searches), you lay out in the simplest terms possible man’s continued enslavement of man and the potential for change recently appearing. I’m reminded more and more of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”: …think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound; Everybody look what’s going down.

      Thank you Greg. This one is required reading for my 9 and 11 year olds.

    3. Greg Swann January 24th, 2011 6:49 pm

      > One of your best ever Greg.

      Bless you, sir. Thank you. That ontological defense of liberty is the shortest I’ve ever done, I think.

      > That is definitely a conceptual expression of the child’s awareness of their individual autonomy.

      Children cannot be indoctrinated in any way until the age of conceptual fluency — until a particular child has learned to think in fathertongue. What this means is that the child had to have built a complete philosophical system — cosmology, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics — before anyone could ram any alternative philosophy down his throat. The child’s philosophy might be grossly in error, especially in metaphysics, but the ethics and politics will almost always be spot on. Children of that age are the most equitable people you will meet because they understand the idea of fairness directly, by discovery and rumination, not by regurgitating some bullshit doctrine devised to put the color of integrity on wanton theft.

      We want to see children as being comically inept, but what they are, really, is simply inexperienced. They are wiser — and more aware of the teleological value of wisdom — than most adults I know. I like to say to people — to parents, especially — that I like people until they learn how to lie, which event is coterminous with the age of conceptual fluency. It is not a necessary consequence that people must become nothing but soulless geysers of indefensible cant, but it sure is a common outcome. If you want to know what a human child can grow up to be if he doesn’t become a volcano of bullshit, Jim Klein is my favorite exhibit. Jim never stopped learning like a child — by discovery and rumination — and, in consequence, his thinking is unbeclouded by nonsensical dogmas.

      > This one is required reading for my 9 and 11 year olds.

      Talk to them about their earliest memories, and share your own with them. Conscious memory is your archeological warehouse from the age of conceptual fluency, the birth of fathertongue in your own mind and in theirs. You cannot recall anything in detail except in fathertongue, so every early conscious memory you have dates from your apprehension of fathertongue as epistemology.

      Here’s a fun question: How many first-memory stories can you collect that turn on the idea of what the child saw as being a rank political injustice? “You’re not the boss of me!” may be a common locus, but it seems plausible to me that many, many first memories will involve what the child saw at the time as being a betrayal on the part of someone he had, until then, trusted without question. Separation from the womb and the awareness of aloneness in infancy are the traumas shrinks like to focus on, but the separation that matters most, in the mind of a four- or five-year-old child, is the recognition that volition-as-a-cause is distinct from metaphysics or ontology as causes, and that volitionally-caused events can be grossly unjust. We become most separated from all other human beings when we learn that we can want to be separated from them, when we suddenly want no part of behavior like that. The shrinks might choose to call that tragic, but I see it as being glorious: This is when the child first takes on the universe all on his own, knowing in perfect fathertongue that he has no one he can rely on with complete confidence except himself.

      (Celebrating my self: I have amazing things to say about the ontology and teleology of egoism and individualism, and virtually no one is paying any attention at all. I would be frustrated, except I can’t be: It’s raining soup in my mind, even if in no one else’s.)

    4. Joe Hayden January 24th, 2011 9:48 pm

      I’ve always found liberalism and those who support and defend it to exhibit the mental development of a three-year-old child. And, I am serious, not making a glib argument or a joke. Literally, the actions and behaviors of a three-year-old. But, I digress…

      While I have not fully absorbed the premise of your argument from a child’s perspective, I do have an innate, almost inexplicable understanding of Freedom. I was wondering the other day how I came to have such an understanding deeply entrenched in my being and more so, how do I spread that understanding to others…

      It is in many ways a numbers game – each year, thousands of people are born and thousands begin to become self-aware, all without a mentor or guidance to developing a healthy “you are not the boss of me” attitude. They seek out a “boss”, they will follow any leader who promises gold. They crave the appearance of security, failing to see the resultant trade-off and the long-term loss of Liberty. They are a great danger to a free society…

      I appreciate what you wrote, Greg. Freedom must be preserved at all costs (can I write that in today’s charged climate?). A deep, passionate understanding of how we came to see, crave, and appreciate Freedom is no small accomplishment.

    5. Greg Swann January 25th, 2011 7:40 am

      I used to think individualists were born, not made. Here is an interesting article from Reason.com that makes that very case. But if you watch children, you’ll see that virtually every normal child is a rebel at the age of four, a rugged individualist in thought, word and deed.

      What accounts for conformists, collectivists and authoritarians? My answer is fathertongue — indoctrination. In the course of human development — which is volitionally-caused, not an ontologically unavoidable consequence — a normal child should self-abstract a philosophy of individualism very similar to the one I describe here. It is only when the child reaches the age of conceptual fluency that adults and older children can indoctrinate that child. And this they do with a will, pounding down the self by every conceivable means. At a minimum, the result is compliance, not so much out of fear of punishment but fear of social rejection. At the maximum, the child becomes a bully, an authoritarian, a demander of obedience.

      Here’s the good news: None of this is necessary. It is all volitionally-caused learned behavior, and people can choose to do otherwise. The gold in the golden ages of human reason is the reflection of the choices by many people to cultivate independence, rather than compliance or dominance, in their children.

      Here’s the better news: My belief is that, in large measure, the Tea Party movement is peopled by folks who had been indoctrinated to believe in the goodness or efficacy of compliance to authority and who have, just lately, come to question that faith. The god of collectivism has failed — in Europe, in Asia and now in the Americas. Meanwhile, none of us has ever once forgotten the resentment we felt when other people used force or threats of ostracism to try to grind our newly-sculpted selves down to dust. I think a lot of people are asking themselves if they had been right all along, and if their indoctrinators had been outrageously wrong.

      Here’s the best news, one of the best reasons to be cheerful I can think of: Learned behavior can be unlearned, supplanted by better ideas and better behavior. This could not be a better time to talk about rational egoism and political individualism.

    6. Brian Brady January 25th, 2011 1:08 pm

      Of course I love this essay, Greg but I might amend your rallying cry to “I am the boss of me” because it incorporates the concept of personal responsibility into the meme.

      And yet…

      “But the Tea Party is a slave rebellion enshrouded in a fog of confusing rhetoric.”

      That’s what the “Nick the Jacket” has been saying for about a year. My theory is that Reason got “out cooled” by the tea party kids and they are sullenly sneering instead of embracing and teaching. Bad news for Reason and good news for Cato.

      “Cut my taxes, but don’t cut me off from the Social Security ponzi scam.”

      Where are you hearing this other than the manufactured propaganda offered by MSNBC and CNN? It’s easy to find a disaffected septuagenarian at a tea party rally but harder to listen to the majority of attendees who know SSI is a ticking time bomb.

      SSI is a Ponzi scheme. I’ve known it for 23 years but I illustrated it three years ago, right here:
      http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/?p=2831

      What then do we do with the over-60 crowd? These folks paid into this Ponzi-scheme and were promised a return on their investment. Certainly, they were the victims of fraud. The libertarian would suggest they avail themselves of one of the two legitimate functions of government and litigate. Against whom will they win judgment? The government. but…

      WE are the government. Sean Purcell continually reminds me that the American people forget that WE are the government. Listen to the proof of his argument:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOZ-Etb0k0Q

      The sins of the great-grandfathers fathers will have to be redeemed through the penance of the great-grandsons. Like it or not, that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. It’s easy to scoff that the deck was stacked but harder to exchange three cards and play out the hand.

      “Get your damn laws out of my gun safe, but you-betcha-by-golly I plan to censor pornography.”

      You’ll have to point me to the article or video where the tea party committee to repeal the First Amendment demonstrated. It has been my experience that tea party folks don’t talk much about pornography.

      “Don’t you dare tell me where I can build my church, but don’t you dare let those heathen bastards build their temple of heresy in my town!”

      This is fair criticism of a Fox News sound bite but not the tea party. Most of the criticism of the tea party has been on the results of the activism: the candidates and elected officials whom benefited from these protests. You might call this the Fallacy of Composition, Greg.

      The left, and its media, can’t fathom the concept of a leaderless movement. Is it Palin? No, it’s Bachmann, Maybe it’s the Paul family? Clearly, it was spawned by Rush Limbaugh and he shot Giffords!

      Point out that this is a leaderless movement and people admonish tea party activists to get a messenger which kindasorta defeats the whole purpose. I might offer that the tea party movement is following the advice of Milton Friedman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ac9j15eig_w

      If I sound overly sensitive about tea party criticism it’s because it’s usually offered by those who haven’t attended a tea party rally (or do attend with an agenda). The critics haven’t taken the time to ask those participating what they really want to achieve. I think you’ll find, Greg that most of those attending would be very receptive to your ideas but awfully confused by your conclusions about them.

      Progressives (on both the left and right) are basically a bunch of teenagers. They want to have their cake, eat it, and not get fat. They operate out of envy rather than compassion. Instead of saying “Be Like Mike”, they say “Mike gambles and cheated on his wife. Let’s steal from Mike”.

      I don’t think you stop teenagers (I’m not the boss of myself) from destructive behavior by acting like a 5-year old (you’re not the boss of me). I think you do it by acting like an adult (I am the boss of me).

      My comments might be pedantic but I think that pronoun replacement means everything.

    7. Brian Brady January 25th, 2011 1:13 pm

      “My belief is that, in large measure, the Tea Party movement is peopled by folks who had been indoctrinated to believe in the goodness or efficacy of compliance to authority and who have, just lately, come to question that faith…

      …I think a lot of people are asking themselves if they had been right all along, and if their indoctrinators had been outrageously wrong.”

      Bingo. I missed this.

    8. kerry melcher January 25th, 2011 3:10 pm

      @Joe Hayden “I’ve always found liberalism and those who support and defend it to exhibit the mental development of a three-year-old child. And, I am serious, not making a glib argument or a joke. Literally, the actions and behaviors of a three-year-old. But, I digress…”

      Yes you do.

      Sincerely,
      A wild-eyed liberal

    9. Greg Swann January 25th, 2011 3:22 pm

      > I might amend your rallying cry to “I am the boss of me” because it incorporates the concept of personal responsibility into the meme.

      Sorry, that’s weak. First, it invites a so-what shrug as a response. Second, the Tea Party has to learn to ask for what it actually wants, if it hopes to get anything at all. Third, as the left demonstrated with Mr. Loughner, their objective is to put down the slave rebellion by shaming the slaves.

      The right thing to do, in that circumstance, is to double the volume. Any notion of toning things down so the salve-masters will take the Tea Party seriously will fail. They will never take you seriously. What they want to do, if they can, is to assimilate you. If not, they’ll settle for silencing you. As any four-year-old can tell you, when the other side is negotiating from a false position, there is much to be gained from making a scene.

      > My theory is that Reason got “out cooled” by the tea party kids and they are sullenly sneering instead of embracing and teaching.

      Libertarians have had many unhappy experiences with so-called pro-liberty Republicans.

      > Cato.

      Ahem.

      > What then do we do with the over-60 crowd?

      What you mean “we,” Kemo Sabe? There is no we.

      > These folks paid into this Ponzi-scheme and were promised a return on their investment.

      I made no such promise. That laughable promise was made to me, as well, of course, but I won’t take money stolen from other people. But neither will I be held accountable for other people’s crimes. Meanwhile, I probably won’t do anything else, either, unless the shit really hits the fan. That means that the temporizers and equivocators who write legislation will deal with this issue in one way or another, hopefully in a way that winds all welfare state programs down to zero. The goal is zero crime, Brian, and if Tea Partiers do not uphold that ideal explicitly and loudly, they will always get sucked into self-defeating compromises.

      >> “Cut my taxes, but don’t cut me off from the Social Security ponzi scam.”

      >> “Get your damn laws out of my gun safe, but you-betcha-by-golly I plan to censor pornography.”

      >> “Don’t you dare tell me where I can build my church, but don’t you dare let those heathen bastards build their temple of heresy in my town!”

      > You might call this the Fallacy of Composition, Greg.

      Fair enough. Republicans all sound alike to me.

      > If I sound overly sensitive about tea party criticism it’s because it’s usually offered by those who haven’t attended a tea party rally

      Don’t save a spot for me. I live in mortal fear of people who like to go to meetings. Nothing but crime ever comes out of any meeting, if it lasts long enough.

      > The critics haven’t taken the time to ask those participating what they really want to achieve.

      Is it egoism, Brian? I’m sure it’s not, and, until it is egoism, the Tea Party will be devoured in due course by the collectivists. Why? Because they share the same fundamental philosophical premises, but the collectivists are more consistent about those premises.

      This is Ayn Rand at the top of her game:

      1. In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.

      2. In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.

      3. When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.

      It is a credit to the Tea Party that the left is trying to shame it into silence: The left is tacitly admitting that the Tea Party argument, as inchoate as it might be, is the more rational position.

      > I don’t think you stop teenagers (I’m not the boss of myself) from destructive behavior by acting like a 5-year old (you’re not the boss of me). I think you do it by acting like an adult (I am the boss of me).

      Here’s my take on the matter: When you have your enemy on the run, do not even think about retreating.

      My objective, for what it’s worth, is to clue people into what they’re really fighting for. I don’t care about Tea Partiers as such, just individual human minds. What I want people to know, for now, is that they’ve been right all along.

      “You’re not the boss of me!” matters because it’s the elephant in the room. The thug always knows this is the truth of human autonomy. His hope is that you don’t know it, or, if you do, that you won’t make a scene about it. In fact, the Tea Partiers must become full-bore egoists or they will fail, just as every other collectivist-alternative-to-collectivism has failed. Right now, though, what they need to do, more than anything else, is to make a scene.

      That’s why those words are important.

    10. Brian Brady January 25th, 2011 4:04 pm

      “As any four-year-old can tell you, when the other side is negotiating from a false position, there is much to be gained from making a scene.”

      I hadn’t thought of that. I am easily goaded into politeness.

      “I made no such promise.”

      Neither did I but we’re stuck with the bill.

      “The goal is zero crime, Brian, and if Tea Partiers do not uphold that ideal explicitly and loudly, they will always get sucked into self-defeating compromises.”

      I can’t help but think that Hitler never would have gained a footing had the Germans born after 1900 refused to pay war reparations. You gotta point there.

      RAND: “When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.”

      GREG: “Right now, though, what they need to do, more than anything else, is to make a scene.”

      I think I get what you’re saying now.

    11. Greg Swann January 25th, 2011 4:09 pm

      > I think I get what you’re saying now.

      Me, too. I think I want to amend the essay.

    12. Eric Blackwell January 25th, 2011 4:25 pm

      Ummm…wow…

      @Greg – Awesome post. i would concur with Sean that this is one of your best ever.

      @Brian – Quote of the day – Progressives (on both the left and right) are basically a bunch of teenagers. They want to have their cake, eat it, and not get fat. They operate out of envy rather than compassion. Instead of saying “Be Like Mike”, they say “Mike gambles and cheated on his wife. Let’s steal from Mike”. –Been awhile since reading something made me shoot Diet Mt Dew through my nose from laughing. ;-)

      @Kerry – “Yes you do.” While we come from a different world philosophically, you made me smile with that.

      best to all

      Eric

    13. Meg Hurtado January 25th, 2011 4:44 pm

      LOVE this post. Really great stuff.

      Not to get overly-linguistic, but I majored in English and I’d like to posit that “You’re not the boss of me” and “You’re not my boss” are quite different statements.

      In the latter, there’s more possession involved – “you” are defined by my refusal to grant you status as “mine”, even if the status in question is one of presupposed ‘authority’. This is the more “learned” statement because the tendency toward dominance, toward defining others through ourselves, has already set in.

      In the former, the speaker recognizes the autonomy of the “you” just as the speaker asserts his/her own. The construction “the ___ of ___ ” implies a certain distance, a trajectory, a relationship – “piece of cake”, “Prince of Denmark”, “house of cards” – that’s flexible, or at least much more flexible than “my ___”.

      Is that totally fluff? i don’t know. I miss literary theory classes sometimes….

    14. Greg Swann January 25th, 2011 4:55 pm

      > Is that totally fluff? i don’t know. I miss literary theory classes sometimes….

      It occurred to me while I was writing that we don’t teach grammar in the schools so that people will not learn what words actually mean.

    15. Brian Brady January 25th, 2011 6:00 pm

      >> Cato.

      >Ahem.

      That’s pretty funny

    16. Jim Klein January 25th, 2011 9:04 pm

      I think you’ve got it right, Meg. “You’re not…”

      “the boss of me” leaves you independent. What you’re not, is something about you, even as it involves me.

      “my boss” leaves your existence as defined by mine.

      As you noted, in the former there’s a certain distance, a relationship consisting of two equivalent entities. There are two entities in the latter as well, but the “you” is defined not as a direct attribute of you (not the boss of me), but rather indirectly as an attribute about me (not my boss). That’s my take, anyway…I think it’s the same as yours!

      Hey, Brian…here’s The Economics of Social Security:

      Each person who works, gains a slight financial benefit when each person who doesn’t, dies young.

      With Medicare and Health Care, add “and quickly.”

    17. Greg Swann January 25th, 2011 10:21 pm

      I didn’t watch the State of the Union speeches, but I caught a bit of Fox News and MSNBC afterward. The Republicans all seemed to be about getting along and working toward common goals, while the Democrats were slash-and-burn for their principles. This is precisely what Rand was talking about, and it seems to me to be a huge mistake tonight. Collectivism is on the run, and now is the perfect moment to drive a stake through its heart. So why all the groupspeak, instead? If the Tea Party is not committed to individual rights, then it’s just more Cheap Socialism: All the intrusiveness but even less satisfying! Is it your impression of the Tea Party activists that they are aware that group solutions can only come at the cost of individual crimes? Do they understand political individualism, or, as I fear, are they just confused collectivists?

      This is an illustration of the sheer perfection of Marxism as a roadmap to political dominance: The antidote to Marxism always ends up being just more Marxism.

      I felt better about all this yesterday…

    18. Sean Purcell January 25th, 2011 10:56 pm

      Greg – What fascinates me most about Rand’s 3 “Rules” is how any child under the age of… oh, let’s say 12, could explain all 3 clearly and without much thought; if not explicitly then certainly by implication. Yet as an adult I need to rediscover them. Shame on my education and shame on me. Of course, this is your thesis so I’m not sure why I’m surprised.

      Meg – I think Jim Klein cheated and looked at my notes before class. I can’t know for sure because when he writes it’s so much damn better than when I do… but here’s my take: I agree that they are different, but possibly for a different reason. The statement “You are not my boss” leaves open the solid option that someone else is in fact my boss; it’s just not you. Whereas the statement “You’re not the boss of me” seems to make it much more clear (albeit implied) that I am the boss of me and “you” (both the singular and plural) are not.

      Greg – I wonder if you overestimate the Tea Party as a group. It doesn’t appear to have a leader and doesn’t appear to stand for much of a unified philosophy, other than: “Get the hell out of my pocket!” I agree with that philosophy whole-heartedly, but I’m not sure there’s been much navel-gazing, philosophical analysis to back it up. It is the individual’s sense of wrong – of tyranny run amuck – rising up. Whether or not the movement grows legs long enough to even contemplate a philosophy is the first question. The next question, of course, would be whether or not they’d be smart enough to have you and the handful of others like you (there are at least a handful I hope) talk to them en masse. I know Brian goes out there and actually represents some of these ideas, but even Brian (and I apologize if I’m putting words in his mouth) sees limitations to pushing the “why do you feel this way” aspect at this point. Right or wrong? I wouldn’t venture a guess.

      Over all, my hopes are not that high for the Tea Party movement itself. What makes me rejoice is how many people I meet every day who, Tea Party “member” (whatever that means) or not, are sick of what’s happening and do open their eyes when I or others begin a one-on-one dialogue about collectivism and egoism. That, and the fact that I and a LOT of people I know are talking to their children about what all of this means. I doubt that conversation has happened in America in generations, if ever. The generation we are raising is going to be very, very different from what we see today. Their spending vs savings; their distrust of all government, police or “authority”; their respect for the Constitution (hell, let’s be honest: they’ll actually be aware of what’s in the Constitution, which is a damn sight more than I can say for most of our generation…); and, if what I think (and hope) is happening is actually happening: their awareness of their natural rights. My optimism long term is much greater so I guess you could say: “I felt better about all this tomorrow.

    19. Jim Klein January 26th, 2011 7:49 am

      > Greg – I wonder if you overestimate the Tea Party as a group. It doesn’t appear to have a leader and doesn’t appear to stand for much of a unified philosophy, other than: “Get the hell out of my pocket!”

      It’s not supposed to have a leader; that’s the whole point. I know what you mean, that there should be someone to verbalize the important principles. The thing is, we’re so steeped in collectivism and altruism that nobody accepts the important principles in the first place. To most people, Greg is from outer space and they wish he’d stay there in order that they might not have to challenge things they’ve accepted their entire lives.

      Besides, don’t kid yourself that most Republicans or Tea Partiers want Govco out of their pockets. They just want the loot spent a particular way for particular goals. What nearly everyone agrees about, is that it’s for the good of the collective and the assertion that a single individual might be as good as the Greater Power over us, is as antithetical to so-called conservatives as it is to commie-libs. Big problem, that one.

      So far, my take on the SofU is pretty much the same as Greg’s and I’m not at all happy about the responses I’m seeing. I guess we’ll just have to be patient until the children learn that justice isn’t what we dish out to each other, but rather what reality dishes out to all of us.

    20. Greg Swann January 26th, 2011 9:42 am

      > To most people, Greg is from outer space and they wish he’d stay there in order that they might not have to challenge things they’ve accepted their entire lives.

      I posted this essay and the one I wrote last night at FreeRepublic.com, a site with a huge overlap with the Tea Party’s grass roots. The responses were dismaying: Reflexive defenses of their slave-masters. This is not inspiriting.

      > I guess we’ll just have to be patient until the children learn that justice isn’t what we dish out to each other, but rather what reality dishes out to all of us.

      The Greeks showed us that the ancient cycle of unquestionable dominance and submission was not unavoidable, that a human civilization based on rational principles could exist. There has never yet been a rational civilization that emerged from the collapse of its irrational forerunner. This is an experiment I would rather didn’t run.

    21. Brian Brady January 26th, 2011 10:03 am

      That one comment (on FR) about government as the divine hand of God was a bit creepy. By that logic, why complain if its providence? Just pay, pray, and obey.

    22. Greg Swann January 26th, 2011 10:54 am

      > pay, pray, and obey

      That’s a good slogan. ;)

      Here’s is some text snipped from The American Spectator about the allegations of kiddie-porn at MTV:

      But a crime is something a legislature has defined as an injury to society.

      A criminal’s action harms our entire culture to the detriment of us all.

      A crime is an immoral action of such a nature that the people’s governmental prosecutors protect us all by punishing the wrongdoer.

      I split them out as separate claims to illustrate their irrationality.

      Witness:

      A crime is not a real injury to a real person; it is an imaginary injury to “society.”

      Criminals don’t injure real people, they hurt an imaginary “everyone.”

      When governments prosecute crimes by definition for which which there is no non-imaginary injured party, that protects “us all.”

      This is not some mouth-breathing hay-seed at FreeRepublic.com, this is one of the most important conservative periodicals in the United States.

      Of course, the primary objective is for right-thinking conservatives to jettison all the independent voters who just won them this election as quickly as possible. The entire economy is going up in flames, so, of course, it is a matter of extreme urgency — in the age of ubiquitous internet pornography — to make sure nobody sees any titties on MTV.

      But laying that aside, the incredible stupidity of the arguments is a thing to behold. This is the quality of thinking that proposes to rescue the West from the clutches of kleptocratic Marxism.

    23. Jim Klein January 26th, 2011 10:57 am

      > This is not inspiriting.

      LOL. If it weren’t for the humor, there’d be no value to the comments whatsoever. My favorite line was this—”Attempts to ‘serve self’ ultimately fall into the aimless trap of circular logic.” I guess that leaves linear logic, going off into the netherworld of infinity. No wonder they think God created Govco. How do you suppose that guy manages to eat?

      I still say we’re all being guided by exactly the same principle, and I have to admit guilt myself: “Maybe logic doesn’t hold.” I defy you to read those comments, consider from whence they came, and logically conclude that there’s a chance of fixing this within a century. The Founders may have beaten the Brits, but they didn’t have to deal with the modern educational system!

      I believe individuals are capable of almost anything, and I think that Splendor can be as powerful a goal as there could be. But goals are only relevant to a rational being, and those are in mighty short supply these days.

      Oh well, tomorrow’s gotta be brighter. Unless it’s darker.

    24. Sean Purcell January 26th, 2011 11:07 am

      Jim – “It doesn’t appear to have a leader and doesn’t appear to stand for much of a unified philosophy”

      Maybe I should have separated those two points. I find the lack of any “leader” to be refreshing and the consternation it causes it’s opponents amusing. I’m glad there’s no one trying to quantify the general angst they represent as I’m sure it would only make your point.

      My point was that I don’t see the movement as a movement (with an ideology) so much as a representative reflection of a much larger segment of the public’s general disgust with government and government spending. And that’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far (generalized unhappiness – or happiness for that matter – is short lived and not the genesis of change). I fear that if you could ask the Tea Party (or the general public) why they were disgusted or more importantly what the best course of action would be, your point would crystallize.

    25. Sean Purcell January 26th, 2011 11:20 am

      “I defy you to read those comments, consider from whence they came, and logically conclude that there’s a chance of fixing this within a century.”

      I don’t usually find myself on the optimistic side of the line (with Greg), but I do so more and more lately in witness to my own life. I’m teaching all of these concepts to my two boys just as fast as I can learn them and they can grasp them (and the clip increases exponentially). I do not find myself alone in this endeavour. I travel in a pretty small circle but I hope it’s happening outside my awareness (thus the optimism). If it is, we’re not talking a century, we’re talking a generation. (It’s not difficult, after all, to override the dumbing down of our educational system.)

      Proof: look at our current leadership. In one generation they hastened the fall at an almost unimaginable rate. (Current administration being an almost ludicrous example of hyper-drive.) No reason to think undoctrination should effect change any slower…

    26. Brian Brady January 26th, 2011 11:37 am

      “in the age of ubiquitous internet pornography — to make sure nobody sees any titties on MTV.”

      To an earlier point you made–nobody in the tea party is talking much about ‘pornography’. Lots of people (including me) tell people to “change the channel if they don’t like what they see or hear” but few join the Larry Flynt fan club to support that statement.

      The big question is how much and how far? I think I already know your answer but you surprise me more often than not.

    27. Jim Klein January 26th, 2011 11:38 am

      > I don’t usually find myself on the optimistic side of the line (with Greg), but I do so more and more lately in witness to my own life.

      Oh sure, and the only life to be saved is one’s own anyway, basically.

      The problem is that in a societal context–read: capitalist context–you gotta have some customers. The only value irrational people have to offer is cash, and they’re well on the way to making that worthless too. What shall we do then?

    28. Greg Swann January 26th, 2011 11:43 am

      Check. I’m not talking about the Tea Party, just the usual self-destructing Republicans.

      > The big question is how much and how far?

      I don’t know what that means. Can you clarify?

    29. Sean Purcell January 26th, 2011 11:50 am

      “The problem is that in a societal context–read: capitalist context–you gotta have some customers.”

      Agreed. And along these lines I find another of Greg’s philosophies to be more and more apt: Just continue to raise the bar of expectation among your customers. It’s the surest way to eliminate anti-splendor.

      “What shall we do then?”

      I suppose I’m a bit of an anarchist, but may I suggest: Celebrate?

    30. Brian Brady January 26th, 2011 11:54 am

      It’s profitable to shout back at Dupnik but not as profitable to defend Flynt. I’m guessing the answer is to pursue profitability.

    31. Sean Purcell January 26th, 2011 11:55 am

      “The big question is how much and how far?”

      I don’t see that as a big question. That’s not even a question for me (or anyone else). That’s a question for you; as in: At what point do you choose not to trade (engage, associate, etc) with the person, business, or entity in question.

    32. Greg Swann January 26th, 2011 12:01 pm

      > I’m guessing the answer is to pursue profitability.

      I think you never get people to think until you manage to take them by surprise. One way is to show them the world in a way they’ve never seen it before. Another way is to piss them off so completely that they make it their mission to prove you wrong. There may be others. But simply reinforcing their pre-existing prejudices — Palin good, Drupnik bad — might invite agreement, but probably not too much deep, earnest premise-checking.

    33. Greg Swann January 26th, 2011 12:56 pm

      > The big question is how much and how far?

      I don’t have any organizational goals, I just want to induce people to think better, if I can. It’s a good thing for me, in the long run, since I stand to do better when other people do better — and since I’m pretty much incinerator-bait if things go to hell. But I know that the people I’m talking to will do better if they learn to seek Splendor in their lives. If I give anyone any time at all, my objective is to get that person to question his most basic assumptions about how the universe works. That much is not a kindness, at least at first, since people don’t generally love having the stilts kicked out from under them. But that’s “how much and how far” I want to go. There is no other way to get here from there.

    34. Greg Swann January 26th, 2011 8:35 pm

      > I don’t usually find myself on the optimistic side of the line (with Greg)

      This is good news. State governments are out of control, too, but the idea of devolving power downward is a welcome change. There’s lots of “You’re not the boss of me!” activity happening in the state capitals, and this is all to the good. Even if they only succeed in tying the Fedlies up in rear-guard actions, this must at least slow its forward progress. If we’re down to buying time, stuff like this will do that job.

    35. Jim Klein January 27th, 2011 7:32 am

      Wow…that is big, Greg. The mind fairly boggles with business opportunities. Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it, but I agree that you gotta start somewhere. Thanks for that.

    36. Greg Swann January 27th, 2011 8:32 am

      More.

      I’ve been thinking about writing about the 1789 Constitution. What I have to say will not be pleasing to the Tea Partiers, but it remains that the U.S. Constitution defines a membership organization, like the U.N. It’s nice to see the states standing up for themselves.

    37. Sean Purcell January 27th, 2011 5:14 pm

      There’s more of the same at StateNullification.com too from Mr. Tom Woods. Pretty good stuff.

    38. Teri Lussier January 27th, 2011 6:14 pm

      Too late to go back to “you’re not the boss of me”?

      “ontological autonomy”. I confess I’ve never understood what that means. All I know is that I’ve always rejoiced to hear this declaration of independence from my kids.

      From a very pragmatic POV, as a mom hearing this, inwardly cheering on the little self to never lose that attitude, I have always thought it was an acknowledgment of both my status as boss of something- our house, dinner, nap schedules, whatever- as well as their sudden awareness of their status as a separate human self?

      Giving me permission to be a boss, a dirty job but someone’s got to do it, but only to a point and upon reading this (what I can understand) it’s occurred to me that I’ve always maintained that attitude towards the government. Go play in D.C. leave me alone. Ultimately, they can’t tell me what to do. I’ve known it all along. I choose to go along or not, but the choice is always mine to make, not theirs to give. Therein lies my child-like sense of liberty and independence.

      I’m not sure any of that made sense…

    39. Teri Lussier January 30th, 2011 11:31 am
    40. Brian Brady January 30th, 2011 12:58 pm
    41. Sean Purcell January 30th, 2011 4:47 pm

      4:55 into the first clip:

      “Freedom is always illegal. Let this one thing sink in; if you don’t here anything else: Freedom is always illegal.”

      I’ve been listening and learning for about a year now on why I’m free (and, by extension, what I’ve mislearned and why I’ve been indoctrinated). I suppose it’s only natural to begin the second phase: How will I choose to exercise that freedom? After all, freedom is always illegal…