Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I Will Keep Voting Democratic, Until...

In every major area, except for religious values, I cannot see a difference between the parties. Both parties spend our money with abandon. They redistribute wealth from rich to poor or from one pressure group to another. They purchase votes with earmarks and new welfare programs. They restrict the substances that can go into our body, whether it is food or drugs. Both parties fund mediocre and pacifying public education. Both parties use our money and military to aid unworthy peoples and countries abroad. Both parties compromise with dictators, give money to those dictators, and pay for the podium those dictators speak at. Both parties use the coercive power of government to enact rules that favor nature over man.

The Republicans differ from the Democrats in only one important way. In addition to doing all of the same things the Democrats do, the Republicans also seek to destroy the separation of church and state. For the Republicans, their paramount value is religion, and they seek to inject it into our life in sundry ways. They seek to ban abortion, to restrict "devilish" scientific research, to fund programs to teach anti-abortion and abstinence abroad, to use government money to fund religious charities at home, to ban pornography on the Internet and curse words on television, and to ban particular sexual practices, gambling, prostitution and drugs.

The only other difference between the parties is what they call their statist programs. The Republicans will often claim that their religious-statist program is enacted in the name of "freedom" or "liberty" or "free markets" or "American values" or even "capitalism". The Democrats also use these labels sometimes, but without conviction. They are far more animated when they demand "social justice", the reduction of "inequality of income" between the rich and poor or between CEOs and workers, and "environmental justice". The Democrats are more honest in calling their leftist program by its left-wing labels.

For their relative honesty, the Democrats deserved our vote. For their relative secularity, they deserved our vote. In terms of actions, it will be awful if the Democrats exercise their newly-found power. But one thing is for sure, it will not be worse than the actions of the Republicans. And when the Democrats get blamed for the failures of their policies, it will not be "free markets" or "American values" or "capitalism" that gets blamed, it will be the statist ideology those policies actually represent.

If the Republicans rediscover a secular approach to limited government, they will be worthy of my vote. Until then, I will continue to vote for the lesser of two evils: the Democrats.


Burgess Laughlin said...

I agree overall with your analysis. More important, I would suggest, than identification of the Republicans and Democrats politically is to identify the roots of the movements that stand behind them.

In his DIM Hypothesis lectures, Leonard Peikoff points out (Lecture 15, I recall) that the philosophical essentials underlying much of the conservative (which largely means Republican) movement are, in hierarchical order: God (ontology), faith (epistemology), altruism (ethics), and statism (politics).

The leftists (Democrats) are rootless. They have the altruism and statism parts, but without an "integration" to God and faith. Ergo the conservatives, as a movement, are more dangerous -- because better "integrated" philosophically.

Galileo Blogs said...

Thank you for your observation. I haven't taken the DIM course. Do you recommend it?

Burgess Laughlin said...

Here is part of the outline I wrote in my notes:

1 Why trichotomy (D and I and M) rather
than some other split?
2 Integration versus Analysis.
3 DIM itself. General comments on DIM.
4 DIM in W. Philosophy. A DIM matrix of essential features (criteria for assignment of D, I, or M).
5 DIM in literature.
6 DIM in physics.
7 DIM in historiography.
8 DIM in politics and law.
9 "
10 DIM in child-raising and education
11 "
12 DIM in psychology.
13 DIM in history, up to US revolution. Onward.
14 Questions for whole series.
15 Future of USA. Grounds for hope, but ...

(There are Q and A sessions in many of these lectures, but I didn't gain much from them, except there was some clarification for me of a few minor points.)

The only lecture I did not audit was 12. By that time, I understood the main points of DIM. I didn't need another field as illustration of how the hypothesis might apply.

I recommend nearly the whole course for a few people, such as professional philosophers and professional historians. It's about 40 or more hours, so it's a major investment of time, but at the moment, it's free at ARI's site.

For some professional intellectuals and serious amateurs, I recommend the intro lectures (1-4), probably 8 and 9, and the final lectures (13 and 15, though perhaps not 14); and then pick one of the intermediate lectures according to your field of interest (historiography, for example, for me).

For "lite" students of Objectivism, I would not recommend the lectures.


1. These lectures are very rough. I would call them "a rough draft of an outline for a prototype."

2. These lectures are designed for "graduate-level" students of Objectivism, that is, people who have already thoroughly understood Objectivism's main elements (such as the nature of integration in cognition).

3. The purpose of the lectures was not, apparently, primarily dissemination of the DIM hypothesis (which Dr. Peikoff was still formulating to some extent, at this time, 2003-2004), but ...
- to give him a chance to present a nascent hypothesis so that he might get negative feedback (that might overthrow his hypothesis).
- to allow him to see what areas students had the most trouble with understanding. (A lot of students apparently never understood the DIM concept -- as revealed by their off-target questions.)

4. Also, the accoustics are unpleasantly rough and the content is not polished -- especially, unfortunately, at the beginning. For example, the material is so preliminary that Dr. Peikoff is unsure of the pronunciation of some specialized names and terms (such as the pronunciation of "Lao-Tse").

Nevertheless, having said all that, I can attest that I gained value enough to justify the 50 hours or so I have invested. (I listened to some of the lectures again while adding to my 15 pages of notes, and narrow issues became much clearer on the second time around.)


Burgess Laughlin

Burgess Laughlin said...

I said: "It's about 40 or more hours, so it's a major investment of time, ..."

The actual running time of the lectures is far less than 40 hours. However, I had to stop and start a lot, so I would say 40 hours for anyone taking fairly detailed notes. Also I invested another 10 hours in reviewing some of the lectures, to tweak my notes.

Burgess Laughlin

Galileo Blogs said...

Thank you for your guide to the lectures. I haven't decided yet whether I will listen to them, but if I do, your suggestions should be very helpful.