Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Quote of the Day: On Changing the World

“If you are seriously interested in fighting for a better world, begin by identifying the nature
of the problem. The battle is primarily intellectual (philosophical), not political. Politics is the
last consequence, the practical implementation, of the fundamental (metaphysical-
epistemological-ethical) ideas that dominate a given nation's culture. You cannot fight or
change the consequences without fighting and changing the cause; nor can you attempt
any practical implementation without knowing what you want to implement.
    “In an intellectual battle, you do not need to convert everyone. History is made by minorities
—or, more precisely, history is made by intellectual movements, which are created by
minorities. Who belongs to these minorities? Anyone who is able and willing actively to
concern himself with intellectual issues. Here, it is not quantity, but quality that counts (the
quality—and consistency—of the ideas one is advocating).
    “An intellectual movement does not start with organised action. Whom would one organise?
A philosophical battle is a battle for men's minds, not an attempt to enlist blind followers.
Ideas can be propagated only by men who understand them. An organized movement has
to be preceded by an educational campaign, which requires trained—self-trained—teachers
(self-trained in the sense that a philosopher can offer you the material of knowledge, but it
is your own mind that has to absorb it).
    “Such training is the first requirement for being a doctor during an ideological epidemic—and
the precondition of any attempt to ‘change the world.’”

- Ayn Rand, “What Can One Do?,” from the book Philosophy: Who Needs It



  1. Nice advice but these days it takes more then good ideas to stand your ground. In addition to knowledge from books I need training in how not to get dragged into detail. I would like to join a discussion group where I could receive training in discussion techniques and ammo to get my point across better.

  2. @PC @Dinther, when you set up that discussion group, can I join?

  3. I think the concept makes sense at a superficial level but is pie in the sky stuff at the end of the day as we are all over the place in our abilities to grasp concepts. You appear to think you have valid and compelling views on all sorts of things (and I agree with much of what you hold to be sensible) but I get stuck on what appears to be a view that rational thinking will drag us from the gutter. Rational thinking just doesn't seem to be the natural human condition and maybe that's why so many look outside themselves to something that excuses or inspires. Many have religion and you have a supreme philosopher that you hold up as a beacon of promise - which doesn't seem much different from religion. It all seems to be shades of grey - as it always has been and we will shuffle along hoping for the best while frequently delivering the worst.

  4. Rational thinking underlies what we are about but that does not mean that debates and discussions need to be on a rational playing field. Our biggest flaw is that we love to engage in a intellectual wank fest and lose the audience.

    The left thrives using emotive arguments and they are an easy sell. I am on the search for similar arguments against socialism that are equally easy to sell and deliver.

    EG: "Would you steal? If not, why take my stuff?" Find examples and anecdotes that are solid. Explore how to argue against the typical leftist counter arguments such as "But you had a free education"

    I think, if I can learn to guide the conversation, I can win it or at least leave an impression to think about.

  5. This is exactly why you are up against it Dinther. People know its wrong to steal and the Mongrel Mob thug will have a bit of you if he catches you doing it to him but has no qualms about nicking, assaulting etc... someone else. The actions and reactions are in no way connected to a brain you or I would want to have. Rational thinking that is not on a rational playing field does not seem like rational thinking to me - its just bullshit going nowhere sensible.

    I can point to people that were changed by Christianity because they emotionally reverted to a clean sheet of paper. The bad things didn't go away but acknowledgement of them followed. I can't think of any that thought their way to being model citizen and suspect its generally a simple animal "that hurt so I won't do it" response to stimuli. As soon as it didn't hurt most would do it again.

    My first wife went to philosophy in Wellington and gave me the flick about a year or so later. It was a win win as it turned out but she suddenly had no lines not to cross - everything was negotiable. That made life too complicated for me - I fought back when buying stolen goods was seen as OK because the rational thought for her stopped at not getting caught. Right or wrong didn't feature.

    It comes back to how you see people generally - good or not? The evidence of history supports a view that supposedly rational people happily turn into complete mongrels if allowed to do so. This is why the left succeeds - its selling what the masses want - free stuff stolen from someone else, a cuddle when you need a kick, and compo for irresponsible actions. Humanity, being shitty and irrational, finds it pretty appealing even if deep down they know its a lie.


  6. "Would you steal? If not, why take my stuff"

    Who says it's yours?

  7. Yeah, 'cause property is theft, eh Chaz?


  8. Dinther

    When they say your education was free, merely answer, "No it was not. Mum and Dad paid for it."


  9. No, Amit. It's a simple question, answer it. I know it's not your strong suit, but give it a crack.

  10. Chaz

    So you understand and agree with the principle of private property? Let's assume that you do understand it. . In that case you ought to have no difficulty understanding that Dinther's property belongs to Dinther. He would state that openly and I would agree with him, just as I would agree with you that your property is yours. I do not know Dinther but I think he would also agree that your property is yours as well. Why do you object to this?


  11. How did Dinther get it and how was ownership bestowed and by whom? Can you own something by stating that you do and having someone agree with you? That sounds strange. Please expand on this.

  12. Chaz

    Ah, and now you want to pretend that your question is not simple after all. How disingenuous of you. Dishonest you are being with this ruse. You are too obvious and oh so not very clever!

    Dinther, being a good hard working and honest man, got his property by the sweat of his labours and the furrowed brow of his applied intelligence. He worked assiduously and honestly. He never stole or initiated force, fraud or coercion against other people. He saved what he was paid. He purchased what he needed by mutually voluntary trade transaction.

    For an understanding of the nature of property and its foundation you need to read Hans Herman Hoppe. Ayn Rand also makes a clear case about it, as does Murray Rothbard. There are also excellent explanations in Prof George Reisman's work and, of course, those of Ludwig von Mises. You must direct your efforts towards studying the aforementioned and their work in this regard.


  13. I think your attempt at an answer has demonstrated the question might not have been so simple, thank you for that.

    Anyway, Dinther furrowed his brow and property became his? Is this furrowing in addition to having someone agree with you that you own it, as you stated earlier? Are these the only true ways to acquire property? How is it bestowed? Does it matter from whom it is purchased and how they acquired it? How about how he acquired skill in brow furrowing? Does it matter who paid him to furrow and how the funds for his wages were acquired? Does this mean non-furrowers can't obtain property? What about any detrimental impact on third parties from his furrowing? Would that affect his property acquisition do you think?

    I'm not quite sure how your appeal to higher powers explains anything either. Perhaps you can try clearly explaining yourself.

  14. Chaz does make a point. How you get things can legitimise them or not as the case may be. Generally its not that hard to show something was honestly obtained but I like the concept that morality is a factor in what is legitimate. I can chose to give things away to the poor or less fortunate and do so but there is an alternative in that the govt puts a gun to my head and helps itself to my wallet to do the same without the morale judgement I may elect to make when I do it. The non furrower gets stuff but not in a way that I think legitimises the ownership morally although legally its fine.


  15. 3.16

    Chaz makes no point. He is engaging in intellectual masturbation.

    He asserts his question pertaining to property is simple, then he contradicts himself (when it suits his purpose) and asserts it isn't simple.

    Consider, if the question were simple, then why did he ask it? He would already have been in possession of his answer. He neither presents his position nor seeks answer, rather he seeks to argue for the sake of intellectual self flagellation (in Kiwi I think that is called having a bout of intellectual wanking). If the question were simple why wouldn't he simply state his position and discuss it? Instead of doing that he avoids and changes direction. He now raises objection to a simple treatment of his simple question and begins to wriggle.

    He pretends to seek for instruction on what he proclaims to be a complex matter after all. When he is recommended in the direction of some of the best authors to have addressed the subject of property in thorough detail, he evades and seeks trivial argument. If he sought understanding of what he now admits to be complex (and pretends to want to understand) why wouldn't he undertake the reading, investigation and careful study of the material recommended? It is because he can't be arsed studying and learning. It is just too much effort. Too tough for the likes of Chaz. He's merely after some self-pleasuring- objecting because he deigns to object, positing for the sake of it. He's obvious and clumsy.There is little enough time in this life to be dealing with this sort. It's pointless to waste too much time on someone who demonstrates such a dull stupidity.

    Turning now to your comments. Of course morality is an important issue in the matter of property. This has certainly been acknowledged by the great philosophers, thinkers and writers. For example, Ayn Rand discusses this aspect in significant detail. In her system of thought individual rights (of which the right to property is one) presuppose a theory of morality. Reisman also discusses this aspect. I have also found instances where Mises links morality and property (which was interesting since his fundamental approach to property is from a different angle to Rand's). Hoppe's approach is different again. He comes at it from argumentation ethics, self "ownership" and scarcity and, yes, he too also identifies the moral component. I could go on but you likely get the idea. Morality is a key factor in what is identified as a legitimate ownership of property.


  16. Chaz

    You assert the question is simple and then you assert not. As previously stated you are being disingenuous. You are too obvious- not clever.

    There was no appeal to higher authority. There was a recommendation. If you are honest about wanting to understand the subject of property you have to apply yourself and do your own homework yourself. Now scat and get to it!


  17. I'm sorry you can't address my questions openly and honestly, Amit. It appears you're simply arguing by assertion (magical brow furrowing) and abuse and with nonsensical appeals to a higher authority. Illogical, my friend.


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