Liberals as Irrational, Religious Zealots…
For entertainment's sake allow me to take on your accusations about "Libertarianism" being a religion and in fact posit that it is YOUR socialist/leftist/anti-capitalist ideology that is not only religious in nature, but is in fact a dogmatic, faith-based, feel-good ideology that closely resembles the organized religion which we both reject. I would very much like to see you try to defend your ideas with actual logic instead of personal attacks on my character and vague generalizations without any supporting evidence. (However, I am quite sure that being unable to actually refute any of the arguments below you will resort to precisely that, or simply pretend to ignore this email -- but please, prove me wrong.)
First, I am going to define what a religious attitude in fact is, then I am going to show how it perfectly applies to your socialist/leftist ideology, then I am going to show you why there is in fact no such thing as "Libertarianism" and how my principles and my personal philosophy (which is not in fact "Libertarianism" OR Objectivism) is perfectly compatible with a rational, skeptical, atheistic attitude that you falsely claim to possess.
To start with, let us examine what religion and a religious attitude do in fact entail. Religion is a primitive form of philosophy (philosophy being the study of universally applicable questions, as opposed to those that apply to a single field) and as such tries to answer basic questions about the world and make value judgments about how to act given the answers obtained from religion. The distinguishing characteristic of religion’s metaphysics (metaphysics being the study if the nature of reality) is to use faith as the fundamental axiom and method of knowing reality. Faith is simply someone's assertion of some fact, and to have faith is to base your knowledge on what someone (be it a person or something they in a book, such as the bible) said.
To have faith as a guide to life is to base your understanding of the world on what someone said without actually attempting to independently find go out and determine what the world is actually like and/or random feelings, usually the result of an emotional response to a theologians preaching. Faith is dangerous (that is, harmful to your and others lives) because it falsely assumes that everything claimed by a theologian and reflected by your emotions is true and leads a person to act on these false premises. Usually these premises are based on some dead theologian's unbridled selfishness in their desire for greed, power, or usually, both. Even when these theologians have good intentions, they are usually wrong, and following them not only leads one to ignore reality, but to sacrifice the interests of themselves and those they care about in order to reach a nirvana or reach some heavenly paradise that does not exist. Even worse, it teaches a person to follow and believe the preaching of whatever public orator is best and leads them commit horrible crimes against humanity, often sacrificing their own goals, their loved ones, their happiness and even their own lives in the process.
So why is liberalism\socialism\leftism a religious faith-based ideology? Precisely because liberals and especially socialists are generally categorized by the same traits that characterize religion -- that is ignoring reality in favor of blind reliance on the preaching of some (dead) philosopher, politician, or other talking head. Furthermore, liberalism (the current variety, not classic liberalism, which is something totally different) is fundamentally based on emotions and "instinctive" feelings -- and these feelings, as with religion, are usually the self-reinforcing emotional reaction that comes from listening to some false prophet's speech. Furthermore, the habit of basing one's views in rhetoric and ignoring factual evidence becomes so ingrained in a liberal, that he or she will consciously and almost automatically ignore factual evidence to the contrary in favor of rhetoric. What evidence is there for this view? Take any random liberal position and you will find it aplenty. For example, environmentalism.
Environmentalists will often claim that the earth is on the edge of imminent destruction from a multitude of human-caused evils despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. They will claim that the earth is exploding from a population crisis when the population in the industrial world has been declining for decades and the population in third world countries shows clear signs of peaking at a world total of 8 to 10 billon (as even the UN now admits) instead of the previous claims of over 40 billion. They will ignore the evidences that there is plenty of food available to feed many times the current population of the world, if only it was distributed freely and that technology has and will continue to multiply that amount at an exponential pace. The will ignore the historical evidence that global warming is common throughout history, that England was one warm enough to grow grapes, that the world is actually ending a mild cool period, that the vast majority of scientist believe that the human impact on the climate is minimal, that even those scientists that agree on global warming will occur admit that there are many positive as well as negative effects from a warmer climate and that human as well as animal species have prospered in warmer climates to a greater degree than in the current cool period. They will argue that the ozone hole is going to expand and kill us all when scientists cannot even agree that CFC's do in fact destroy ozone, and as cities pass laws against too much ozone in the air, they will blame the plague of skin cancer on the ozone when in fact sunbathing and skimpy clothes are more in vogue than ever, and in fact the increase in the popularity of tans in the western world is proportionate to the increase in skin cancer rates.
I could go on for hours, but my point is not that environmentalists are wrong, but that they will consciously ignore scientific evidence that is contrary of the ideas they hear from prominent environmental activists, and furthermore, that they base their ideas on an irrational, all-powerful love for "mother earth" --which is in fact, ultimately a hate of technology and humanity, as many environmentalists openly admit. This religion, call it Gaianism, or Environmentalism, or “post materialism” holds the inherent value of a snail or Alaskan microbe as a basic axiom, superior to any human needs or values. In fact, by groundlessly, faithfully, and emotionally embracing the environment as one’s highest value, environmentalists are clearly anti-human (often openly), anti technology, and anti-life. Almost all of these environmentalists are also upper or middle-upper class hypocrites who enjoy the comforts of technology and exploitation of the environment to mankind’s benefit. No poor third world worker would embrace this movement -- because he truly values the benefits he receives from technology that allow him to live a longer life than his ancestors, who were lucky if half their children lived to adulthood, and any of them lived past the age of thirty. Environmentalists ignore this of course, and blame civilized, industrial countries from "stealing" the third world man's "natural" way of life, or otherwise blame technology from lifting him up from the short, savage and brutal life man lives in nature.
But my point is not to criticize environmentalism, but simply to present the liberal’s basic attitude of the world. I can easily show the same behavior and the same attitude in any liberal position, especially my favorite topic -- economics. I am not an ecologist or a biologist, but I do know something about economics and I can easily give you dozen of examples of the same attitudes liberals have when it comes to economics.
How am I able to claim all this knowledge of the liberals mind? Besides the fact that I have debated and associated with many such people, I used to be one myself. In fact, I was a loyal member of the Sierra club, who campaigned to stop evil companies from destroying the world. I was active in the Aggie Democrats as I campaigned for “social justice” and animal rights. Just about every liberal attitude and every liberal position I have mentioned, I once held myself with a deep passion. Chris, you may claim that I am the irrational exception, but in fact if you look around you will find the same attitude all around you, as I did when I woke up from my delusions.
But what about "Libertarianism"? Is it really the fervent religious movement you claim it to be? As I said, there is no such thing. That is, claiming to be libertarian says almost nothing about a person. There are Christian and atheist, subjectivist and objectivist, nihilist, humanist, naturalist and Kantian libertarians. There are anarchist, constitutionalist, social contract, and federalist libertarians. "Libertarianism" does have a certain general meaning, but it is simply the support of a free market economy and limited government, and little else. It is certainly not a religion, and there is certainly no "official" movement --most self-proclaimed libertarians vote for more democrat or republican then libertarian Party candidates.
What about Objectivism? Are Objectivists rabid Randroids who worship Ayn Rand and believe she could do no wrong? There are some to be sure, as there are extremists for any position, but even Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's own heir publicly disagrees with her on certain issues, and there are two different groups with very different stances who claim to represent her views. Regardless, even IF "Objectivism" was an irrational philosophy, my philosophy is not “Ayn Rand's Objectivism”. My view of the world is my own, not borrowed from any book or any person, and it comes from 21 years of looking at the world and coming to conclusions about how it works. Ayn Rand (just as any good philosopher) may have given me many insights that might have taken me much longer (if ever) to find out for myself, but I only adopted her views after examining the world for myself and determining on my own whether her views made sense and whether they were in line with the evidence the world presented me with.
You claim that I am an irrational, dogmatic mystic -- yet how could this be if I changed my mind on so many issues before reaching my (ever changing) current position? Have YOU as a hardcore liberal ever examined your fundamental understanding of the world, and then looked outside and critically and deeply questioned whether the two are compatible? I did, and I decided that my view on economics, politics, the environment, and reality itself was different from the world I experienced, and with help from others, but always with my own mind, I decided on what was the true and the good. On some issues that I was not sure about (like god and abortion) I found evidence to support my current position -- but on others I found evidence to the contrary and changed my views 180 degrees.
When was the last time YOU did that, Mr. Langford?
Patiently awaiting your reply,
David Leo Veksler
A follow up:
> You have yet to respond to actual data regarding
> population growth and economic development in China and India.
Actually I did respond. I posted dozens of statistics as well as my own and others' arguments as to the fact that *economic freedom* NOT birth control is the key to wealth. You have yet to counter my stats or the basic argument.
>Not to mention your decision to ignore the logical
> error you made using your morality to argue against the Palestinians,
>when the contentious issue was "Why does the left support the
While I have used my morality to argue against the Palestinians, the arguments given for liberals' support of them are independent of those arguments. The point stands that liberals support Palestinians for reasons having very little to do with human rights violations and much to do with their flawed view of rights, force, the initiation of force, and reality (or lack of an absolute one) itself.
> Look David, just because you were a member of the Sierra Club, and know
> so little about science, does not mean that all
> socialist/leftist/andit-capitalist share your ignorance. As I
> scientist I am going to (waste?) my time trying to set you strait on
> the science, but I am not going to be able to waste my life helping
> you with the rest of you > problems-Although your understanding of
> logic and social science seems to > be equally retarded-just an onion
> there, not an actual proposition.
Err...am I supposed to respond to this? Am I missing a point somewhere here? In any case, the point of my original essay was that liberals choose to ignore facts, not that they are ignorant of the facts, which would at least be some sort of excuse.
> In fact the earth is experiencing a dramatic increase in population.
> This excessive population growth in developing countries stifles
> economic development in those countries and decreases the standard of
> living for people in those areas. We have had this discussion before,
> and you seemed to abandon it when confronted with actual demographic
> data (Sunday, May 05, 2002 8:06 PM).
This is a tired point, but I am going to address it anyways since you're so insistent. Look at where population is exploding and where it the growth rate is decreasing. In particular, go to the CIA fact book or the UN web site and cross reference that with the Economist's or Cato's index of economic freedom by country. There is a clear correlation that shows that the more economically free (*not* politically) a country is, the lower the population growth rate. The cause and effect direction is evident when you look at the pattern trends, that is China, which is much freer economically than India (NOT politically, which is besides the point here) has had decreasing growth rates whereas India, which has one of the world most restrictive economies has a high and growing pop rate despite a decades long family planning program of its own. The situation in Africa is so much more obvious so that it's blindingly clear that the populist policies of the various dictators there have led to a price control system which wiped commercial farms, leading to a return to subsidence farming, which as we all know, depends on large families. The facts are staring you in the face, it's only the conclusion that's lacking. For more, I suggest you read some good econ books by people such as Mises, Hazzlit, or even P.J. O'Rourke.
> man whose ideas are firmer than those of your favorite straw men.
> However I disagree that the amount of food that can be produced will
> continue to increase at an exponential rate.
But it has been so for the last one hundred years, and DNA technology has the potential to boost in many times more. (Unless those wacko greens have their way, of course) There is much other long-term research (hydro, etc) in boosting crop yields that should have dramatic payoffs in the long run, if the greens don't get in the way.
> 1) Human activities have undoubtedly increased the amount of carbon
> dioxide in the earth's atmosphere.
Ok, but just how much is still under question. Most scientists agree that a volcano generates more CO2 in one explosion that all the industry of the earth in several years. Meanwhile, more oil is leaked naturally in the Gulf early than all the oil ever spilled by tankers (feeding an active ecosystem in the process, btw) Interestingly, I have seen recent evidence point to the fact that oil is not always generated by ancient biomass -- there are new oil field in areas where no large biomass presence existed, pointed to deeper, as yet unknown sources.
> 2) Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the earth's
> atmosphere and increases that net warming of the earth by solar
Indeed, but how much is not known, and whether warming is bad is not known either. Even if it were, pollution releases other chemicals that have been shown to have a *cooling* effect, making wacko greens rant about warming AND cooling in the same sentence (I've heard it myself)
The fact is, we really don’t know what effect human activity has on the earth, and whether we will be harmed or benefit from its side effects. In any case, let me point out a quote by Ayn Rand: "Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death."
...and the green's "back to nature" movement is exactly the wholesale death that Rand warns off. Their fault is not an error in the facts, it is an very basic ideological one.
> atmosphere. It is also and established fact that UV radiation is a
> mutagen, and does contribute to skin cancer. Also excess UV radiation
> has detrimental effects on other organisms in the ecosystem.
Ok, but scientists still don’t know HOW or IF CFC's end up in the ozone hole. Also, note that due to the geometry of the earth and the nature of UV light rays (which don't bounce, obviously) the increases in skin cancer rates in North America is NOT due to the ozone hole, unlike green propaganda claims (ignoring reality, again)
In any case, if benzene produces so much ozone in the city, a. the cities of the world are free from UV damage and b. sprinkling even a little benzene in the upper atmosphere can counteract the effects of CFC's
> As an environmentalist, I have shown that you are the one who is wrong
> in your claims about environmentalists. I have a much better
> understanding of the empirical evidence and scientific theory behind
> the environmental issues addressed than someone who ignores scientific
> evidence in favor of prominent environmental activists, and obviously
> my understanding is much better than yours.
Ha, I doubt that. While Maya (or her $) was supporting drunken and stoned protesters in Seattle, I attended a conference on the effects of global warming last year at the Bush Conf Center. I got two things out of spending over 10 hours listening to a bunch of ecologists, biologists, economists, and other assorted scientists drone on: while the costs of regulating industry can be estimated, no one has any idea what they benefits of all those regulations would be. Listening to the proposed benefits was like listening someone ponder about the existence of E.T. in the galaxy: changing any one of a dozen factors changed the costs (or benefits, as was often the case) of global warming by several orders of magnitude. Meanwhile capping the US industrial output even slightly will lower GDP by several points, would take trillions of dollars out of the economy, making EVERYONE worse off. If you look at the exponential effects of such yearly % limits, and the global repercussions, the cost easily goes into hundreds of trillions of dollars, which is enough to build everyone on earth a personal igloo (more like a dozen) to stay out of that darn sun.
Back to my point, at the end of the conference, I attended a formal dinner and where I set next to a lobbyist for some big environmental consortium, who ranted on about "evil corporations destroying the earth" and totally ignored everything said the last three days, proving my point about liberals better than I ever could myself.