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Pope Obama and the Synod of Commerce

President Obama ventured into the enemy’s lair today, channeling his inner Reagan.  The message, designed to be benign towards industry, still included his sarcastic finger-wagging at the tycoons:

“I’m here in the interest of being more neighborly,” Obama said. “Maybe if we’d brought over a fruitcake when I first moved in, maybe we would have gotten off to a better start.”

The President just doesn’t get it, though.  He still thinks the fascist model works:

Obama alternated between pledging help for business from the federal government and asking big business to do its part to help “win the future,” a theme he first introduced two weeks ago in the State of the Union address.

“Ultimately, winning the future is not just about what the government can do to help you to succeed,” said Obama. “It’s also about what you can do to help America succeed.”

Obama claims that he is open to suggestions:

If businesses lack confidence in the economy, Obama said they should let him know about it.

“If there is a reason you don’t share my confidence, if there is a reason you don’t believe that this is the time to get off the sidelines – to hire and invest – I want to know about it,” Obama said. “I want to fix it.”

Cool.  Let’s tell him to roll back the federal register to 1990.  Uh, oh !  Maybe not.

Obama has launched a review of regulations to eliminate burdensome rules, but he gave a nod to their importance in Monday’s speech.

“Even as we work to eliminate burdensome regulations, America’s businesses have a responsibility to recognize that there are some safeguards and standards that are necessary to protect the American people from harm or exploitation,” Obama said.

“Moreover, the perils of too much regulation are matched by the dangers of too little. We saw that in the financial crisis, where the absence of sound rules of the road was hardly good for business.”

Sean Purcell is right.  Obama isn’t a pragmatist, looking for solutions.  The President is a religious zealot, forced to mix among the heathen,  seeking cooperation.    His open-minded solicitation however is tempered by his abiding faith in the State.  This is like the Pope saying he is open to any and all ideas about salvation as long as they recognize that Christ is the only path.  I hate to be pessimistic but I don’t see an Obama transfiguration happening.

The President of the United States just doesn’t like free enterprise.  Until we get past that, we’re in for more musical deck chairs on the Titanic.

Related posts:
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  • McCain concedes, as do I…
  • Announcing my Obama Rodham McCain universal bumper sticker

  • 56 comments

    56 Comments so far

    1. Jeff Brown February 7th, 2011 4:59 pm

      Just returned from a hard working (giggle) business lunch at World Famous.

      The president, like so many who don’t like our free enterprise/capitalistic system, either have failed, or know in their hearts they would fail if they were on their own. It galls them to the core of their pirate souls that they simply don’t measure up.

      Generally speaking, those who don’t, can’t, or won’t cut it, want a ‘cut’ of what’s yours, ‘for the good of all’.

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    3. Betty Luce February 7th, 2011 6:10 pm

      I am reading your post searching (in vain) for any ideas that you might have about how to actually solve the problems in today’s economy – the unemployment, the disappearance of the middle class, of which I presume most of us are part of. Your remarks are another example of the “What’s the Matter With Kansas” phenomenon, which is to say that people who need help the most often vote (or rant) againt their own self-interest. You’ve been drinking the kool-aid from the right for so long, that you’ve forgotten just how it happened that the economy got wrecked when the Republicans controlled Congress and the White House.

    4. Greg Swann February 7th, 2011 6:29 pm

      > You’ve been drinking the kool-aid from the right for so long

      This is ad hominem, a violation of our comments policy. If you have a point of view, feel free to express it. But it does not do to characterize other peoples’ thoughts.

    5. Sean Purcell February 7th, 2011 7:52 pm

      Betty,

      I read Brian’s piece as mainly explanatory, as in: why are so many people still confused by this President and this administration. Though Brian does suggest at least one simple yet powerful idea: roll back the federal register. Did you read the link? So, as far as offering ideas, that’s Brian 1, Betty 0.

      As for the “What’s the Matter with Kansas” phenomenon, that’s a tired idea that equally implicates both sides of the disfunctional aisle. Though, gun to head (and the way things are going I’m not talking metaphor) I’d rather listen to patriotic non-sense issued by people who at least pretend to respect the free market than progressive non-sense from people who operate on faith over logic and with a distinct sense of patriarchal superiority.

      While we’re on the subject of voting blocs that are self-defeating, maybe it would be more instructional to discuss the black vote rather than the Kansas vote. Easily the least financially successful of all races not indigenous to America (which pretty much means all races…) Also the largest percentage, as a race, on entitlements; which entitlements are a strong plank of the Democrats (though truth be told, the Republicans aren’t much better). It’s obvious to even a casual observer that this system doesn’t work. Yet voting against interest continues. Why, when the rest of the country has the President at a 50% approval rating (at best), does this bloc hold him at over 90%? How can this bloc possibly look around at 40 years of entitlement philosophy and still have faith in a ruling class that has only created a dependent relationship?

      Betty, if you’re going to attack a post from someone with Brian’s economic background, on a site philosophically predominated by free marketeers, libertarians and anarchists, I hope you’ll come back with something a little more insightful than “the economy got wrecked when the Republicans controlled Congress and the White House.” Everyone here loves a good debate.

    6. louis cammarosano February 7th, 2011 7:52 pm

      Obama also said that as part of WTF if government creates a condusive business environment, businesses must spread the wealth around

      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/02/07/obama_corporate_profits_have_to_be_shared_by_american_workers.html

    7. Sean Purcell February 7th, 2011 8:16 pm

      Louis, I was just trying to find that quote as my original comment to Brian (before I got sidetracked…) I listened to some clips of the speech and at one point he said:

      If we’re fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports, the benefits cannot just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that opening markets will lift their standard of living as well as your bottom line.”

      Geez, thank goodness we’ve hired a chief executive who knows that a business’s obligation is to their employees and not the simple-minded owners who were dumb enough to put their money up and create a business for all those deserving employees…

      By the way, anything in that quote strike anyone else as exhibiting a massive misunderstanding of how a free market works? If a company takes all the profits and just parties it up with their big, fat bottom line, how long would it be before another business came along and said “Well, will you look at that inefficient company doing well and keeping all the profits to themselves. We can produce that widget or provide that service for a little less money. Or maybe we’ll charge the same amount but offer a little better pay and steal away all their employees.”

      It’s a free market, not an obligatory market, and when left alone by self-righteous, ivy-walled professors and politicians paving our way to hell with all their good intentions, it rights itself whenever there’s disparity.

    8. Brian Brady February 7th, 2011 8:55 pm

      Betty, Sean pointed out the Federal Register suggestion but Greg Swann did a great piece on this, 90 days ago:
      http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/?p=13487

      I’ll raise the ante. President Obama said this today:

      “I want to know about it,” Obama said. “I want to fix it.”

      Here’s my advice (the same I’ve given to the last four Presidents): please don’t

    9. Jim Klein February 7th, 2011 9:16 pm

      In defense of Betty, some of us also appreciate a good laugh.

      Brian, I enjoyed this…

      > “Ultimately, winning the future is not just about what the government can do to help you to succeed,” said Obama.

      Gee, I’m glad he straightened that out. So many business owners are just screeching for the government to help them succeed, right?

      No, wait…those are the one who became his advisors!

    10. Greg Swann February 7th, 2011 10:13 pm

      > So many business owners are just screeching for the government to help them succeed, right?

      Many are, alas. This is why the Tea Party will fail: It’s sole interest is in changing things it cannot change, while the candidates it elects will continue the mad march to a more-perfect Rotarian Socialism.

    11. John February 7th, 2011 11:06 pm

      Brian,
      Great post! Pretend as he may, Obama will never be anything Reagan, and no amount of channeling will help. Today’s meeting is nothing more than contempt disguised as an olive branch. He is in campaign mode and with unemployment figures remaining close to 10% he is “forced to mix among the heathen for cooperation.” Remove 1 chair please.

    12. Sean Purcell February 7th, 2011 11:20 pm

      I read that article this morning and thought of you the whole time Greg. WSJ was full of them today, though none tickled my funny bone more than the above-the-fold, front page of section C1 graphic, analyzing what would happen if banks were forced to account for their losses and risky assets more “conservatively.” By way of comparison they used PNC Bank as an example of the devastating losses. This probably came as a bit of a surprise to PNC Bank itself, which paid to run a large, full color, front page of section B1 advertisement! I swear you can’t make this stuff up…

      If we really want to understand the Obama administration though, the biggest news of the day was a compare and contrast with Egypt. As many probably noticed, the Egyption government suddenly decided to give all state workers a raise… you see, in less mature countries they are quite up-front about buying votes. Not at all the sophisticates and prestidigitators our politicians are, who over the weekend bought close to 50,000 votes; not by bribing them outright, but rather by giving them collective bargaining rights while we were all wrapped up in the Super Bowl. Hey, what’s to worry about? Unions did wonders for us here in California…

    13. David February 8th, 2011 3:45 am

      Obama and Reagan?? It is difficult to understand

    14. Thomas A B Johnson February 8th, 2011 8:23 am

      “if banks were forced to account for their losses and risky assets more “conservatively.””

      Love that. Existing law, and banking regulations are now defined as “more conservatively” as the banks and their regulatory minions cook the books into an unpalatable regulatory forebearance stew.

      Remove one more chair, please.

    15. Jim Klein February 9th, 2011 10:20 pm

      > The President of the United States just doesn’t like free enterprise.

      That’s the whole ball o’ wax—he and the 50% of the population who like to mooch off the producers who are left. Too bad for them so many of those producers read Atlas Shrugged. Too bad for everyone, in a way. Oh well…better a sane egoist than an insane slave.

      I assume everyone knows Ron Paul is chairing subcommittee hearings Thur. He says there’ll be two miseans and one keynesian.

      He had an interesting comment Tue., I think on Kudlow. He was given a softball setup for advocating a gold standard, and gave a surprise response…that it’s not so much whether gold is the standard, but whether free markets determine the standard. I found that quite insightful, all things considered. Smart guys are waking up to this now, but we haven’t figured out what to do about it!

      Also interesting IMO was Bernanke’s testimony today. It nearly gags me to say it, but he made a bit of sense. I mean, he can still shove his personal altruism where the sun don’t shine, but on the money issue, which after all is his job, he was surprisingly rational. Most importantly, he made it clear that the wall we’re gonna hit (that’s David Stockman’s phrasing) is completely a reflection of the madness coming from the fiscal side. While I’m very much against the principle of the Fed in the first place, I think he’s basically right about that. Now if TIPS bonds are being bought heavily in QE2, then I retract this comment and he can go to hell with the rest of the scammers.

      In any event, it all goes precisely to what Brian wrote. These SOBs just don’t like free enterprise. That’s the whole story in a nutshell, and they’re not about to give an inch.

    16. Sean Purcell February 9th, 2011 11:00 pm

      Monetary vs Fiscal policy is a distinction without a difference in our modern, disfunctional economic system. The fiscal policies exist only because the Fed monetizes them. For Bernanke to sit before today’s panel and chastise them regarding deficits… I almost fell out of my own chair. The deficits exist because the Fed electronically prints money that has no value.

      Add insult to injury, the Dodd-Frank act required a snapshot of the Fed’s activities. Billions (Ron Paul said tonight on Judge Napolitano it’s trillions) given to foreign countries, companies and banks. The Fed is lending money to whomever they please, at low or no interest? No oversight? No one even knows? These thieves are stealing our money and our future. Fiscal vs Monetary? No. What we have today is Fiscatary policy.

      By the way, the best Ron Paul quote was also tonight on Napolitano: “The Fed spends more than Congress does.” That ought to give anyone paying attention a chill…

    17. Jim Klein February 10th, 2011 7:01 am

      Those are valid points, Sean, but don’t go to the crux of the matter IMO. Yes, the Fed is how they get away with it, but that’s like saying there wouldn’t be murders if we got rid of guns. IOW the Fed is the particular tool these days, but not the fundamental action.

      The fundamental problem is spending wealth that’s not yet been created, and engaging policies that ensure it will never be created. Everything else is about the denomination of that wealth.

      There is only one root issue, and that’s production. With it, everything works out one way or the other. Without it, we die. Slaves can produce alright, but not to a degree that will support the entire population in the way they desire. Plus, with the growth of information and more common knowledge of how things can and should be, being a slave is just not a desirable goal any more, any false security notwithstanding.

    18. Sean Purcell February 10th, 2011 7:42 am

      The fundamental problem is spending wealth that’s not yet been created, and engaging policies that ensure it will never be created… There is only one root issue, and that’s production

      Agreed. You are absolutely right. I’m not subtracting from your point, I’m simply adding the Fed on to it.

      This is easier if we change metaphors. After all, the policies we’re discussing aren’t murder. Neither Congress nor the Fed is trying to murder us; it’s death by a 1000 Good Intentions (which stems from a fundamentally mistaken assumption about natural freedom).

      Think “kid in a candy store.” Congress are almost all children, stuffing their face with whatever looks good, never worrying about the long term damage of obesity, diabetes and so forth. The only time they even worry about the short term damage is when they get a tummy ache (reach the debt limit). The Fed was supposedly created to be the parent. (Though I might argue the underlying intent was quite a bit more nefarious and in any case definitely unconstitutional. But, be that as it may…) The Fed isn’t the gun used by Congress, the Fed is the parent saying “Go ahead, you can have another Super Sugar Bomb.” Every now and then, the Fed will sit the child down and lecture them, but then turn right around and help them reach the Double Chocolate Crunch bar on the top shelf.

      Thus far we have children killing themselves with a Fed enabling them. I believe that’s the limit of your point, but I’m going one step further. “The Fed spends more money than Congress.” The Fed spends more money than Congress… The Fed is not only not just a tool (weapon) being used by Congress; and the Fed is not just an enabler or bad parent. The Fed is out eating the child on candy! If you really want to worry about fiscal policy, worry about a shadow organization like the Fed – no oversight and no transparency – actually creating fiscal policy through its own spending! And if you wish to take the analogy one step further, this problem becomes astronomical when you realize that the Fed owns all the candy making machines in the back room.

      Where are we in all this? Unfortunately, we’re tethered to these idiot children eating themselves to death. The fatter and sicker they get, the harder it is for us to move or function. Eventually, the whole thing must collapse, of course. The Fed will die naturally and the candy making machines will halt. The dilemma for us is do we wait so long that we die of starvation, still tethered to these blobs that used to be children? Or do we cut the tether and regain our freedom?

    19. Jim Klein February 10th, 2011 9:19 am

      You’re confusing money with wealth IMO, but more interesting to me is this…

      > Neither Congress nor the Fed is trying to murder us;

      To me, that’s like saying the 9/11 bombers weren’t trying to cause respiratory disease in firefighters. I suppose they weren’t, yet it happened anyway. But the really important point is this…

      > it’s death by a 1000 Good Intentions

      THAT’S the falsity. It’s Death by 1000 Intentions that are Believed to be Good. Until this is understood, and why that belief is wrong, we haven’t got a shot.

    20. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 11:54 am

      > It’s Death by 1000 Intentions that are Believed to be Good.

      Why would you presume that the objective sought by looters would be anything other than destruction? The genuflection toward so-called good intentions is a dumb-show devised to gull the gullible. Marx’s goal was death. His lesser minions might be less committed, but the goal is always the same. We’re not fighting for our money. We’re fighting for the right to live in the only way we can live.

    21. Brian Brady February 10th, 2011 12:43 pm

      It’s a big club Sean, and we ain’t in it–George Carlin

    22. Sean Purcell February 10th, 2011 2:47 pm

      Jim, I am, of course, shortening the adage: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The implication is that the actors may have believed their intentions good, but those intentions ultimately led to hell. What must be inferred is that they lead to hell because the actor wishes to enforce their “good intentions” on to another. In any case, I don’t see where we differ at all.

    23. Sean Purcell February 10th, 2011 3:15 pm

      Greg, I disagree with you factually. There are very few volitionally evil people in the world, and though some have risen to positions of power, by and large we are not discussing people with evil intent. (This is, admittedly, based solely on my anecdotal experience.) The dumb-show is the Good vs Evil canard. There us not so much good vs evil as there is varying opinions on what’s right. The looters may believe they are helping (best case) or that they are gathering power (often the case), but I don’t believe they wake up in the morning and say “Hmmm, I believe I’ll do some evil today.”

      The problem stems from the almost complete disconnect most of us have (by training and indoctrination because, as you have pointed out, we are not born with this disconnect) between intention, action and outcome. The actor believes their intention good; they take action; they have an evil outcome. If more people understood what is discussed here so eloquently, they’d know that any intention requiring the subjugation of another’s freedom leads to evil. But that’s a big stretch for way too many people.

      Think of the proverbial agent entering into dual agency. Let’s ascribe to him the intention of helping everyone and making the transaction go smoother. (He’s so pure that we needn’t worry he did it for the money.) He believes his intentions are good. But in acting on them he cheats both the seller and the buyer, though I am less concerned with that (caveat emptor). But he (unwittingly?) does harm to his own egoic self. He has taken an action that must (through incongruity) necessarily lead to the debasement of his own splendor… and thus travelled a few steps closer to hell. But that was not his intent. He simply does not realize (yet) the damage his mis-formed intents do to his ego.

      More’s the pity in all of this, because if the actors were volitionally evil in intent as well as action, it would be a much easier battle to win. The reason we fall so far down the slope is because the intent is misunderstood as good.

      That collectivism always ends in death is less a statement of evil intent than the inevitible combining of intentions seen as good but requiring the acquiescence of others, with the most extreme and (psychologically speaking) most followed member of any group. Eventually murder is the only way to insure wide spread acceptance of all this “good intent”.

    24. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 5:10 pm

      > There are very few volitionally evil people in the world

      There are very many people at war, in varying degrees, with their own identity as human beings. True justice is obvious to any normal five year old. Every dogma exists to rationalize evil to people who know in advance that they are rationalizing evil. Why? In order to affect to pretend to make-believe that they can attempt to be and not-be what they know they actually are, both at the same time.

      The pursuit of contraries to human identity is the pursuit of death. A human being can only live as what he is. To attempt to be what one is not is simply the expression of the desire to not-be. This is not rare. Too much the contrary.

      Listen for nervous laughter, Sean. That’s when people are telling you that they know they are rationalizing evil. They know they’re “dancing with the devil,” as it were, and it makes them uneasy — even as they go ahead and embrace evil anyway.

      > any intention requiring the subjugation of another’s freedom leads to evil

      Every action is taken first by the self upon the self. Evil actions with visible secondary consequences can be interesting to observe, but most evil is simply self-destruction, the deliberate infliction of pain or loss by a particular person upon his own ego in vengeance for its not being what it is not. “[T]he subjugation of another’s freedom” — or any other observable manifestation of evil — comes much later, after the process of self-loathing has been habituated, and after the destruction of the actor’s ego has reached an advanced state.

      > But he (unwittingly?) does harm to his own egoic self.

      Unwittingly, almost never. It is possible to make a mistake, an honest error of knowledge or judgement. But most unhappy outcomes are the result of deliberately self-induced evil — doing something the actor knows in advance is morally wrong.

      Here’s what’s interesting: The purpose of the evil action is not to reap some unearned benefit — that’s just another dumb-show. It’s intended to fool you, secondarily, but the performance is intended first to permit the actor to affect to pretend to make-believe that his objective is not simply self-destruction, with the performance itself being incontrovertible proof that he knows in advance that self-destruction — wreaking vengeance upon the ego for not being what it is not — is his sole objective.

      The objective of evil is always self-destruction.

    25. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 5:15 pm

      Here’s one for you, Jim:

      Is there anyone you can think of who goes at this stuff the way I do? Cathleen asked me if there is anyone I read whom I think is getting my kind of ideas right. The only person I could think of was you. I reread “Man’s Rights” the other night, but that was just awful. “The Objectivist Ethics” wasn’t terrible, but it seemed pretty Greek — in the sense of being a formal system — to me. It was amazing to me, after all these years, to see how little there was that I would call egoism was in that essay. Other than Missy Rand, is there anyone at all in our neighborhood?

    26. louis cammarosano February 10th, 2011 5:31 pm

      Greg Interesting take

      However I think perhaps people act out of intentions (good or bad) but may be oblivious as to the unintended consequences of their actions.

      Their support of these positions may be more or less unconsious and a function of choosing sides based on popular cultural identifications, instead of thinking or rationalizing these positions and their impact on others.

      For example, there people who geniuinely and earnestly believe in univeral health care, socialism, climate change regulation.

      There are probably many who do not view their support of these positions as evil, or as an attempt at exercising their dominion over others or as imposing their belief systems on others in a way that could be viewed as theft, tyrannical or wrong.

      They see good in their positions and are motivated as such.* It may be as simple as the proverb -the road to hell is paved with good intentions- instead of a conscious self destructive urge at play as you posit.

      *this view applies probably more to the followers of certain movements than to the leaders of such movements who most likely know exactly what they are doing and take joy in forcing people to do as they wish.

    27. louis cammarosano February 10th, 2011 5:33 pm

      Other than Missy Rand, is there anyone at all in our neighborhood?
      Frederic Bastiat?
      Frank Chodorov?

    28. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 6:22 pm

      > It may be as simple as the proverb -the road to hell is paved with good intentions- instead of a conscious self destructive urge at play as you posit.

      Every normal human child is a perfect egoist, by my standards, when that child learns to think in fathertongue. What happens next, almost always, is an on-going process of self-destruction — to greater and lesser degrees. If this advances to the destruction of other people and their values, that’s bad. But the self-destruction itself is the primary objective, regardless of any secondary consequences. When you make observations about hugely elaborate performances of faked virtues, many years later, you may have interesting things to say. But it remains that the primary objective, always, is the destruction of the ego that each person abstracted, all on his own, at the age of conceptual fluency.

    29. Jim Klein February 10th, 2011 6:59 pm

      Everyone has glimpses when they go to the fair, I think. Some people have wider integrations, especially in the realm of economics. Kudlow has some amazing guests IMO; that guy is seriously connected.

      The Objectivist Ethics fails because it’s built on false premises, even as it gets the conclusions basically right. The residents of the Gulch were not bad examples. Personally, I’m inclined to agree with Sean and Louis regarding the motivations of most people. In the end, you’re arguing a simple fact…

      > Every action is taken first by the self upon the self.

      It’s hard to imagine anything more obvious, but it just isn’t that obvious to most people. Our conceptual hierarchies are built upon those developed long before us, and the resistance to this particular fact is part of that historical development for at least 3,000 years, at least in Western societies.

      It’s no excuse, and it surely doesn’t make destruction anything but destruction, but it’s the case nonetheless. “I wanna be good” nearly always translates to how the actor deals with others. Somehow it flies by that “every action is taken first by the self upon the self,” and hence so does the ready implication that we’ll be treating others better, just as soon as we treat ourselves better. That’s why most people never even get around to figuring out what “treating myself better” actually means.

      Happiness, success, capitalism, civil society…these are all outgrowths of understanding the nature of egoism. But there’s a wall that’s got to be crossed to get there, and it’s a mighty tough one. Plus, the incentives not to climb that wall are immense, while the incentives to go along and get along have been built into our societies for millennia. Those who have devised those incentives deserve our scorn and condemnation, because generally they know what they’re doing. But everyone else gets a pass (of sorts) from me, since I can’t expect a rational animal to act upon facts he doesn’t know…particularly when he’s punished, the closer he gets to knowing them.

      At this point, I think the hope has to be that people will choose to wake up before they die. That’s about as close as I can get to optimistic about the current state of affairs. Like I say, nearly everyone has glimpses and nearly everyone has their specialty, such that there are great defenders of liberty and capitalism and all of that. But without the egoist underpinning–IOW without the facts that make it all internally consistent–I’m afraid it’s doomed to fail one way or the other.

      Exhibit A: The United State of America. There’s nothing on the horizon even remotely close to being as great a bastion of individualism as this country, and look what’s happening to this society. And it ain’t just the commie-libs either. It’s collectivism and altruism and statism gone mad, from all sides.

      Most people don’t want to be cannibals because they don’t think it’s right to eat others, and they don’t particularly want to be eaten themselves. But without the WHY behind it, it’s little more than a feeling, and joining the mob can be a great temptation. So they live as cannibals, accepting as a given that the nature of reality is that everyone’s turn to be eaten, comes around sometimes.

      The sad part is that it could all be fixed with a simple understanding of the simple fact you offer above, and an attendant simple decision: “No, that’s wrong and I won’t be a part of it.” That’s all it would take, individual by individual, and even Allah Herself wouldn’t stand a chance in the face of it.

    30. louis cammarosano February 10th, 2011 7:08 pm

      “It’s collectivism and altruism and statism gone mad, from all sides.”

      Ironically even the law, the first step that protects individual liberty, is given its authority by collective assent.

      From there each step of collective human action leads to an increasing less free state of being.

    31. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 7:31 pm

      > But without the WHY behind it

      Each one of us has to understand everything that matters about volition as a cause before any one of us could abstract or adopt any alternative — and therefore necessarily fictional — claim about human behavior. People don’t become parasites in order to pursue the good, they become parasites in order not to be shunned, shamed or punished by people they know are evil by their own self-abstracted standard of value. We are born as dumb animals. We grow to become human beings. And then we consciously choose — most of us, much of the time — to behave as if we were monkeys. This is not accidental, it is fully intended. And just because it is tragic, that does not excuse what is in fact the most evil act any human being can take — self-annihilation.

    32. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 7:37 pm

      I would love it if you were to come to Phoenix, Jim. I can take you out to talk to children, and they can tell you how perfectly they understand my arguments. It’s when they learn to lie that I lose interest in them, but it is that process of affecting to believe things they already know are false that results in every absurd “alternative” to egoism, individualism and liberty. Children at five are ontologically normal, by my standards. By seven, most of them are self-mangled grotesques. Everything that happens after this is just more unsuccessfully self-delusionary dumb-show. They may not understand what they are doing the way I do, but what they are doing is always about self-destruction, not about the trappings of the dumb-show.

    33. louis cammarosano February 10th, 2011 7:43 pm

      “And just because it is tragic, that does not excuse what is in fact the most evil act any human being can take — self-annihilation.”

      Assuming this statement to be true, it does not follow that selecting, endorsing or carrying out statist positions that lead to “[T]he subjugation of another’s freedom” — or any other observable manifestation of evil” is a conscious act of self annihilation.

      It is perhaps a conscious act of statism without necessarily being an act of self annihilation.

      The characterization of it as self annihilation, no matter how eloquently stated, is only that -a characterization (or worse a mere “opinion”), that one could equally argue is an act of self actualization.

    34. Louis Cammarosano February 10th, 2011 8:03 pm

      Greg wrote:”Children at five are ontologically normal, by my standards. By seven, most of them are self-mangled grotesques.”

      Is there a way to stop children from “falling off that crazy cliff” (Holden Caufield’s desire in Catcher in the Rye”)during those years between five and seven.

      Or is it a natural inexorable progression-to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsch’s “Every philosophy is the philosophy of some stage of life” that
      Every conceptual hierarchy is a conceptual hierarchy of some stage of life of the individual or mankind?

    35. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 8:39 pm

      > Is there a way to stop children from “falling off that crazy cliff”

      Don’t indoctrinate them. Keep them away from liars and bullies. Live a life of egoism and integrity yourself. Wait and hope.

      Self-adoration is ontologically normal. Self-annihillation is statistically normal. Nothing prevents a person from reversing direction. But it’s not common, especially once the child has become a young adult.

    36. louis cammarosano February 10th, 2011 8:48 pm

      “Don’t indoctrinate them. Keep them away from liars and bullies. ”
      That rules out sending them to school!

    37. Greg Swann February 10th, 2011 9:30 pm

      > That rules out sending them to school!

      Collectivist institutions — schools, churches, governments, youth organizations, etc. — exist to turn children into collectivists.

      This is me in an email to Teri Lussier:

      Being hectored all the time to do only what they don’t want to do doesn’t make children generous, it makes them suspicious and resentful. Why do they run in mobs? Because they have “learned their lesson” — that self-approbation is wrong. The only approval they can safely accept comes from other people. And the only way to retain that approval is to watch constantly to make sure they are doing only what those other people will permit them to do. The first consequence is life as a performance, the continuous portrayal of a person. The second consequence is a life of constant fear that the performance is not convincing enough. This is a perfect hell, and it lasts a lifetime. Juvenal asked, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (“But who will guard the guards themselves?”) Marx came up with the perfect answer: The guards will not only guard themselves, they will lock themselves into a prison of the mind forever.

    38. Greg Swann February 11th, 2011 9:35 am

      >> Other than Missy Rand, is there anyone at all in our neighborhood?

      > Frederic Bastiat?
      > Frank Chodorov?

      The one other name I would pick out of paleo-libertarian history is Robert LeFevere, although I’ve never read him in the original. I asked Jimmy because he knows much more about this than I do. Even then, I’m interested in contemporary voices. For all of me, the battle of human civilization, for all of human history, has been egoism versus every variation of anegoism. My question for Jim is this: Besides us, are there any people we would call egoists writing today?

      A question for you, Louis: How libertarian are you? Are you a long-time libertarian, or is this something you picked up since you started hanging out with the dogs? Not a test. People get to be who they are. I’m just curious.

    39. Louis cammarosano February 11th, 2011 9:52 am

      Greg
      I never noticed the libertarian streak at BHB when I first started following as I was spending too much time defending HomeGain against the anti-free market attacks on my company! :-)

    40. Greg Swann February 11th, 2011 9:53 am

      > anti-free market attacks on my company

      Care to cite post numbers?

    41. Louis cammarosano February 11th, 2011 9:59 am

      No, attempts at humor are generally not footnoted

    42. Greg Swann February 11th, 2011 11:08 am

      Okayfine. So answer the question. I knew you had a classical high school education when you started commenting here. but I didn’t note anything of a libertarian bent from you until about a year ago. New thinking or just newly exposed — or did I simply miss it before?

    43. Louis cammarosano February 11th, 2011 11:33 am

      Newly exposed. As I mentioned my initial foray on BHB was limited to talking about HomeGain and defending our business model.

      Remember the choke point discussions?

      Your objections to HomeGain were not couched in Randian terms, although you will note my responses were from time to time, along the lines “if forcing registration is such an evil activity, how come the free market has not punished it?”

      My counterpoints were not based on Mises, Hazlitt or Hayek.

      While focusing on the BHB contra HomeGain/cammarosano discussions (remember your blog post entitle “contra cammarosano”) I too missed the libertarian points of views expressed on BHB during this period and have only recently noticed.

      Indeed, the anti vendor rhetoric during that period seemed to be a condemnation of the free market.
      Vendors that don’t provide a valid service should be driven out by the free market as no one forces realtors to engage their services.

      So missing the libertarian bent of the BHB was pretty easy for me.

      I have viewed the BHB as a real estate blog primarily,not as an expression of libertarian viewpoint, although I see it now.

    44. Jim Klein February 11th, 2011 3:39 pm

      First, Louis. Good law may be /intended/ to protect individual liberty, but it simply can’t. Exhibit A again: the USA. The problem with any sort of “social contract” theory leading to institutionalized force (which is all a government can ever be) is that the only sort of entity able to enter a contract is an individual. One can imagine contracting away various liberties to the majority, but one can’t really contract away a lifetime of servitude…not to anything. I’m not sure what that would be, but it’s something other than a contract.

      Oddly, Greg, I’m not much of a moralizer overall. I don’t really give a hoot how anyone lives their life, as long as they don’t mess with others, especially me. As far as egoism is concerned, to me it’s just the understanding of the /fact/ that the self is the center of the universe for…well, for the self itself. While I’m personally enamored of the search for Splendor, just as I have a strong affinity for Epicureanism, it doesn’t bother me a drop that others are religionists or altruists or whatever. I don’t think they serve themselves well with that, of course, but it’s not my business how they serve themselves or don’t. If they want Agony instead of Splendor, let ‘em have at it. I just can’t stand the pretension that it’s something other than themselves, having at it! That’s all. Choose as you wish; just don’t bullshit that it’s something other than you choosing. And especially don’t pretend that your pretension changes me from what I am.

      Billy Beck and I are about as opposite in most respects as possible. But what we share in common is that we /completely/ recognize ourselves as…well again, our selfs. And the idea that some other entity can either be me, or claim some sort of authority over me, is just completely preposterous…as a matter of fact, that’s all. I understand this isn’t news to you and it’s the basis of all you write, and you go on to clarify what a rational being /should/ want to do in service of himself. I agree with every bit of that, but I don’t really care if someone else gets it or not. All I ask is that he understands that he is he and I am me, and that he dare not deny /that/ fact, at least not as some excuse to rule over me.

      You said it best…we are indominatable in this respect, and all the high falutin’ arguments in the world can never change that. We can be overpowered, but we technically can never be controlled. This is the nature of the entity.

    45. Jim Klein February 11th, 2011 3:52 pm

      > Each one of us has to understand everything that matters about volition as a cause before any one of us could abstract or adopt any alternative — and therefore necessarily fictional — claim about human behavior.

      Ugh…I hate to nitpick while there’s important stuff going on.

      The important point, you got right…a child could never choose to deny his own self without being taught that.

      But just as a technicality, that’s a different issue than “understanding everything that matters about volition as a cause.” That’s very high abstract thinking—causality and volition and the subjunctive. Yes, it’s all going on, but that’s different from explicitly understanding it. A child may know nothing about volition per se…it’s what volition /is/ that causes him to do as he does. And absent the crazy teaching that he subsequently acquires, of course he’ll understand everything you say.

      It’s like on hpo recently, somebody wrote, “All thinking comes from axioms,” or something like that. To which I replied, “Neat trick. So give us an instance of an axiom without the thinking.” Trivial detail, but hopefully you get what I’m saying.

    46. Greg Swann February 11th, 2011 6:38 pm

      > I hate to nitpick

      So don’t. Ask questions instead.

      I didn’t say “understand everything about volition as a cause,” I said “understand everything that matters about volition as a cause.” I’ve been writing it that way since the mid-1980s, those exact words, that precise order.

      If I were to draw a bright line for the idea I call conceptual fluency — learning to think in fathertongue — the blinding flash would occur when the child comes to understand that causation in human beings is fundamentally different from causation in objects and causation in animals. At that moment, the child understands everything that matters about volition as a cause.

      So I said:

      Each one of us has to understand everything that matters about volition as a cause before any one of us could abstract or adopt any alternative — and therefore necessarily fictional — claim about human behavior.

      What that means is that, prior to self-inducing deliberate abstract errors about any aspect of reality, the child must first have understood that it is possible to choose to self-induce deliberate abstract errors about reality. This will not have occurred to the child prior to understanding volition as a distinct type of causation. It could not have occurred to the child prior to that blinding epiphany.

      Everything I have to say comes from carrying the question back to the object: How does human consciousness really work? I think I’m right about all this stuff. In the instant matter, I think I’m right about how people go about being deliberately wrong.

    47. Greg Swann February 11th, 2011 6:42 pm

      > I’m not much of a moralizer overall

      Me, neither, but I like to understand why people behave the way the do. I’ll have more to say about this later, but it’s Friday and I have a date with my best-beloved.

    48. Greg Swann February 11th, 2011 7:09 pm

      Amending this: I like to understand how I behave, and there is nothing I have to say that I have not experienced first hand — much to my pride and admiration, too much to my shame and regret. Who am I to cast the first stone? I qualify by virtue of being the target of that toss, me at least as much as anyone else.

      Now we’re gone, but I do want to talk more about this. Hold me to it.

    49. louis cammarosano February 11th, 2011 7:21 pm

      All that because Obama had the audacity to visit the Chamber of Commerce with out brining a fruitcake!

    50. louis cammarosano February 11th, 2011 7:21 pm

      All that because Obama had the audacity to visit the Chamber of Commerce with out bringing a fruitcake!

    51. Jim Klein February 11th, 2011 9:04 pm

      [For kicks, I'll forget that it's you writing and forget that this isn't a philosophy board. For me, it's just a trip down memory lane and I find it relaxing.]

      >> I hate to nitpick
      >
      >So don’t. Ask questions instead.

      I will, just as soon as I have any!

      > I didn’t say “understand everything about volition as a cause,” I said “understand everything that matters about volition as a cause.”

      Indeed you did. That’s why I properly noted and quoted it.

      > I’ve been writing it that way since the mid-1980s, those exact words, that precise order.

      > If I were to draw a bright line for the idea I call conceptual fluency — learning to think in fathertongue — the blinding flash would occur when the child comes to understand that causation in human beings is fundamentally different from causation in objects and causation in animals.

      But he doesn’t come to understand that. Please don’t overread me. I’m just saying that the referent of is vastly different from the referent of <understanding >.

      On the subject that really interests you anyway, this paragraph is throwing me off. I thought you thought “will” was a fundamentally different sort of causation AND that it’s found in other animals as well. Which is it?

      Personally I do believe human will is fundamentally different, but only because it’s comprised of abstractions. As you probably know, in no manner do I think this is some sort of “fundamental distinction” of causation itself.

      I just take the obvious…the human will is built of the ability to conceptualize alternatives and motivate the body pursuant to the choosing (higher valuing) of one of those alternatives. This is what you were writing about the subjunctive, with which I completely agree.

      So we’re in absolute agreement about that part of it. Where we diverge is that you don’t believe this can be an example of “billiard-ball” causation, and I do.

      > At that moment, the child understands everything that matters about volition as a cause.

      The only way this comes out true is somehow equating “understanding everything that matters” with “engaging the action.” In that verbiage, a car understands everything that matters about driving.

      > So I said:

      > Each one of us has to understand everything that matters about volition as a cause before any one of us could abstract or adopt any alternative — and therefore necessarily fictional — claim about human behavior.

      But that’s just wrong, and plainly so. Having alternatives, which indeed is the key, is an entirely separate matter from understanding everything that matters about having alternatives.

      Again, unless you want to say that “everything that matters” is synonymous with “being able to engage the action” or something like that.

      > What that means is that, prior to self-inducing deliberate abstract errors about any aspect of reality, the child must first have understood that it is possible to choose to self-induce deliberate abstract errors about reality.

      He has to abstract, yes. And he has to abstract alternatives, at least one of which is (subsequently) false-to-fact. But no, he mustn’t necessarily understand anything about the process of self-inducing deliberate abstract errors about reality.

      IOW he has volition, but he doesn’t have to understand volition. Sure, having volition means the ability to do just as you say. All I’m saying is that this is distinct from understanding volition.

      > This will not have occurred to the child prior to understanding volition as a distinct type of causation.

      Ahem. Do they all understand question-begging too?

      > It could not have occurred to the child prior to that blinding epiphany.

      I don’t mind saying there’s a “blinding epiphany” insofar as the child recognizes his existence as a self, and even that this self motivates the particular body. I guess you’re saying that’s “all that matters” about understanding volition, but I think that’s a pretty weak usage. Again, I’d say doing volition is something different than understanding volition.

      Indeed, I’d say 7 billion entities engage volition, with roughly the same number not understanding it!

      That leaves only “what matters” to argue about, which isn’t very interesting.

      > Everything I have to say comes from carrying the question back to the object: How does human consciousness really work?

      What a coincidence! Naturally I’d say you’re off on the wrong foot–similar to how Rand was with value–with the stipulation of a “fundamentally different” sort of causation. Obviously there are differences, just as there are differences between heat and gravity, or visible light and X-Rays. But your claim, as I understand it, is that there are basically two sorts of causes—what you call “billiard-ball” and what you call “will.”

      That’s a severe category error IMO.

      > I think I’m right about all this stuff.

      Another coincidence!

      > In the instant matter, I think I’m right about how people go about being deliberately wrong.

      Psychologically speaking, I think you’re right too. But as a matter of both the physical and (what I call) epistemological underpinnings of the process, particularly in the instant matter about what children understand about volition, I think you’re mistaken. I don’t think it’s very important at all, though I do think the fantasy about distinct “fundamental” types of causation, at least as you use it, is moderately important.

      I revere the intention Rand had in trying to ascribe value to all living organisms. But if someone is going to go into that sort of depth, then they had better get it right. I find your approach on this sub-topic to be quite similar, whereby you’re trying to pin a scientific-type explanation onto something that historically doesn’t lend itself well to such sorts of explanations.

      That’s an admirable goal to be sure. But if you really want to be scientific about it, then it should be readily apparent that there’s no need for the sort of dichotomy both of you choose. As I’ve pointed out before, vast differences of complexity resolve the life/non-life distinction and that can be extrapolated to your billiard-ball/will distinction.

      The fundamental distinction of the will is that, like all human epistemic functions, it’s abstract. Beyond that, I think one universe is sufficient to carry everything, whatever those things are. I like to say, “Causation is identity in a time-ordered context,” which relies on my idiosyncratic usage of “context.” When you stipulate two “types of causes,” you are simply bringing in too much that’s unknown, like about time and time-ordering at least. Besides, one of my favorite arguments is, “Why two?” IOW, whatever the precise nature of causation, there’s no reason to guess that there’s billiard-ball type and will-type. There are either tons more, which leaves “causation” as meaning something other than what we take it, or there is some essential characteristic to it, which is the manner by which we identify it.

      Since we’re using the concept, I’ll opt for the latter and go for the obvious… refers to something, not two things. I don’t mind further sub-dividing it, but that should be built of identification, not stipulation. So I would say volition is a sort of causation built upon the ability of a conceptualizing organism to imagine alternatives and choose from among them. Sure it’s different from gravity which is different from fission which is different from…

      But you have absolutely no basis on which to assume that it’s “fundamentally different” AS CAUSATION, from all other sorts of causation. It’s a type of causation, that’s all.

      So my final argument on the instant matter, besides the fact that you’re imputing to the child an awful lot of complex understanding, would be that it’s impossible to understand something that’s false!

      Oh, and another coincidence. You wrote…

      > I like to understand why people behave the way the do.

      Intellectually, as opposed to emotionally or practically, that’s been my single top goal since I was in my teens. I’m a scientist in that fashion, which is why I recognize that there’s more truth in many insights of yours, than there is in an entire college career studying the matter.

      Always the simpleton, I figured that if I want to know about how people behave, in order to induce why they behave that way, then I probably ought to go look at people and see how they behave! I never did confuse a graph for a person.

    52. Jim Klein February 11th, 2011 9:22 pm

      I guess I set off some tags, so I’ll use quotes. One line should read…

      Please don’t overread me. I’m just saying that the referent of “volition” is vastly different from the referent of “understanding volition.”

      Another should read…

      Since we’re using the concept, I’ll opt for the latter and go for the obvious…”causation” refers to something, not two things.

    53. Greg Swann February 11th, 2011 11:28 pm

      > But your claim, as I understand it, is that there are basically two sorts of causes

      Use another term, then, and don’t slow me down. Jim says, “agency = brokerage” and Greg says, “agency = representation,” and then they waste days talking past each other. I’m going to stop using “altruism,” switching to “anegoism,” and “Marxism,” “socialism” and “communism,” switching to “collectivism,” all because I am sick of these meta-debates. I know you’re talking about something interesting to you, and I encourage you to grow into it in every way. But what I am talking about is how the human mind actually works — how it often fails to work — and the things I’m saying are fascinating to me. I intend to talk about what I want to talk about, and I believe that, once I have, now and going forward, I myself will come to understand the things I’m talking about better, but other people — one of them being you, perhaps — will come to see the world as I see it, come to understand it in a way that they have never fully dared to experience it, until now. I’ve been talking about these things all my life, but I feel I’m getting better and better at talking about them, and that’s what I’m going to do.

    54. Jim Klein February 12th, 2011 7:37 am

      I would never seek to slow another person down when they’re doing good work. And as you should know, I think you’re doing the finest work on the planet. Besides, it’s nearly axiomatic to both of us that slowing another person down, at least intellectually, is an impossible task!

      That said, it’s worth noting that the few errors Rand made were frequently raised to the level of Tenet by her most avid followers. As she correctly noted, evil edges out the good. And when all the excess is stripped away, our fundamental shared belief is that “evil” is nearly synonymous with “false belief.”

      On a trivial point, in the absence of Rule of Law, agency IS equivalent to brokerage and the only question was whether one can morally broker for both sides of a transaction.

      Your specialty is understanding the nature of the self, or ego…how and why it acts, and the results that obtain from those actions. You’ve got it all down pat IMO, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise.

      In my defense, I’d point out that “meta-issues” are not irrelevant. The more primary the error, the more it pollutes the good eventually. Rand brought in The Other Thing when she tried to ascribe value to all living organisms, and this led many people astray in their attempts to cogently understand what it is that drives the self. Her infantile treatment of politics, except in the Gulch, turned a legion of adherents into statists, which was precisely the opposite of what she intended.

      I’m just watching out for you!

      You are arguing a collection of facts, and arguing them properly. To do this, there must be a “meta-acceptance” that there’s even such a thing as facts. This has been the gross error of formal philosophy forever. Epistemology being my specialty, these are just the facts upon which I like to focus. In the end, our shared implicit premise is that human beings are cognitive organisms, and the fundamental function of that cognition is to integrate the facts. You focus on the ultra-important issues of what the self is and what happens when the self doesn’t engage this function properly…very important and very emotional stuff. Me, I like to focus on raising that implicit premise to the explicit. Hence I try to point out the occasional false premise that I think you use, just as I do with Rand. It may not be the Lord’s work, but it’s the work I’ve chosen for myself.

      “Sed quis custodiet…”

    55. Greg Swann February 12th, 2011 8:57 am

      I understand what you’re doing, I just don’t embrace it, as it were. The argument you’re making about causation comes down to two interpretations, one obvious but just about useless and the other patently false.

      The second: All causation is necessary and unavoidable. The universe is either a deterministic billiard-ball watchwork or it is an indeterministic quantum spasm, but the idea of free moral agency is nothing more than an illusion of complexity and rapidity. For all of me, compatibalism is hand-waving. It is completely true that I cannot tell you why human beings have free will, but neither I or nor anyone else can tell you why matter sometimes self-organizes into pockets of at-least temporarily self-sustaining resistance to the law of entropy — organisms. Placing organisms on a taxonomy doesn’t explain why this happens, nor does duplicating the process in the laboratory. It remains that organisms, just by themselves, ignoring will as a motivation for now, do not behave in either a deterministic or an indeterministic way, with the simple resistance to entropy — impossible to billiard balls — being a bright-line distinction among types of motivation. I don’t think you believe this, that all causation is necessary and unavoidable — but, of course, no one actually can believe it, since the idea of belief is itself a claim of free moral agency.

      The first: Things are what they are and cannot be what they are not, hence what they do is causation considered as an exclusive category. Fine. Split the category with differentia: What Greg calls causation we can now call motivation, and the motivation of action as it can be observed among planets and billiard balls and quarks is distinct from the motivation of action among human beings (skipping over all the intervening distinctions), and the recognition of this distinction is the sine qua non event in the acquisition of conceptual fluency in human beings.

      All of this, I think, comes down to using words differently. The arguments I make about causation/motivation are obvious and self-evident. One of the things that makes our discussions here so disquieting for the folks looking in is that I seem to be looking all the way in — not just reading their mail, but poking through their trove of hidden secrets. The simple reason for this is that I am documenting my own mental processes and coupling those with direct observations of other people. If you object to some word I use to express what I am relating, it is nevertheless true that what I am discussing are real phenomena. We can negotiate the terminology, but we cannot negotiate facts.

      Like this: “[I]n the absence of Rule of Law.” By me, that means nothing. As I discussed the other week, all human interactions consist of constant negotiation, and the simple act of hiring a representative creates a law of agency for that interaction. Obviously you mean something else, so proceeding down this path — or any similar route defined by disagreement about terminology — is a dead end until we negotiate the terminology among ourselves.

      I don’t shun this. To the contrary, I think it is immensely clarifying. But it is also immensely time-consuming, and I don’t want to give it the time. I think we could probably negotiate the differences between us — at agency and at metaphysics — in fairly short order if we were to go at this in another way — video chat, perhaps. This is something we should think about doing, before we die, just to document some of this stuff in a time-efficient way. More useful for our own brains than for those of any auditors — but I can’t imagine there would be many of those, anyway.

      Meanwhile, I really do want to press on with what I’m doing. The issue of understanding free will is vital to understanding human beings as a unique type of organism, so I’ll keep hammering away at it. If you don’t comprehend it the way I do, at least I will comprehend it more completely.

    56. Jim Klein February 12th, 2011 1:12 pm

      All I have to say about agency/brokerage is that the instances are the instances. Absent systemic definitions about fiduciary duty and so on, I don’t think you’d find a difference. But I’m not even sure about that, and I’m sure I don’t care very much.

      But I have plenty to say about free will and my sort of compatibilism is anything but hand waving. You see, I’ve got it cracked, and have for a while. You think it’s about definitions for me, but it’s never about that for me. It’s always about the referent.

      The funny part is, you’ve got it cracked too. This is why you’re so focused on the subjunctive. Yes, that’s what it’s all about. There cannot be alternatives in any meaningful manner, without the ability to /abstractly/ identify. Plus, as I think you agree, it’s impossible for a consciousness to conjure up a false-to-fact representation without that ability to abstract. This is critical to everything about the will, and it’s what you’ve been screaming about for a while.

      This is inextricably tied up with value. When we choose from among alternatives, we are choosing one that we prefer over others that we don’t. Further, this preference is itself an abstraction, built of everything that went into our judgment faculty. This is what valuing is, and it’s why Rand’s false premise at the beginning of TOE is so lethal. She gets to the right place more or less, but it dangles because it’s not built of the scientific premises that she insists it is.

      Determinism is a red herring for us. Yes, I’m a strict determinist but I admit that’s just an informed guess. But it is important that you understand that free will is wholly compatible with strict determinism. I’ve tried to impart what I think is an easy way to get it, using strict (if unusual) definitions of “context” and “perspective.” That doesn’t mean I’m appealing to the definitions; I am /always/ appealing to the referents. The key clue FWIW is that narrower contexts aren’t any less real than wider ones. This is why I can consistently claim totally free will in a universe fully “controlled” by strict determinism.

      Even in the absence of strict determinism, I still think it’s important not to dichotomize causation, whatever it may be. Everything is different from everything else; the goal of identification is to /correctly/ classify those differences. I believe very strongly that to distinguish human volition from what you call “billiard-ball” causation, as a primary dividing line, is a serious error. Note that even when I say causation may not be strictly deterministic, that would apply even to so-called billiard-ball causation, whether stochastic or something else.

      Though frankly, I can make a very tight (IMO!) argument that anyone who says it’s “something else” isn’t technically offering a meaningful proposition. And yes, I include stochasticism in that, even as I admit that a fellow like Vincent Cook can make a mighty fine case of it.

      That’s akin to you making a mighty fine case that “will” is a second sort of causation, primarily distinguished from “billiard-ball” causation. I just think that’s wrong, that’s all…meaning I think it’s forwarding a false premise which ultimately will be dangerous to all the subsequent conclusions which are right. My best retort would be rude—”Meet the Other Thing.” When it comes to identity and causation, there are no Other Things.

      That’s all. Practically speaking, as a way of getting the important stuff across, I agree that it’s not very important. But then, the same argument might have been made millennia ago with regard to God. Hence, I’m inclined to believe that all falsities are important and should be avoided whenever possible. But if you need to hear it explicitly…yes, of course what you’re talking about is infinitely more important than what I’m talking about. People aren’t going to die if they don’t understand what I’m saying, but they will (and do) if they don’t understand what you’re saying. It still doesn’t change who /I/ am and what /I/ seek, which is to advocate the true and fight against the false wherever I might find them.

      As Roy Buchanan sang, “That’s What I Am Here For.”