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Author Topic: The Most Important Political Idea of the 20th Century
G2
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quote:
Originally posted by starLisa:
Fortunately, I didn't run across Rand's writings until I was in my early '30s. And I started with her non-fiction essays, rather than stuff like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead (amazing as those were).

That probably did help. Her writings are better when they focus on philosophy rather than telling a story. Some of those long, long, long ,long speeches by characters in Atlas Shrugged were way too long. That book seriously needed an editor to lop off about 300 pages. For me, it tended to lose the message by trying to drive it in too hard.

Part of the problem with Objectivism was the cult that grew up around Rand. It was just this side of dudes in sheets handing out flowers at the airport. There is a great deal in objectivism that appeals to me though.

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caladbolg1125
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quote:
Originally posted by Omega M.:
I still don't see what nonviolent resistance would have accomplished against the Nazis. Apparently the Germans were okay with the Holocaust, so they probably would have been okay with just slaughtering the passively-resisting population of every village they conquered. Or if the Germans would have been too civilized to do that, would the hordes of Attila the Hun have been?

Yes it takes a certain kind of "civilized" for nonviolent resistance to work. Like, for instance, the British that Gandhi had to deal with. Gandhi knew his audience and used the tactic that he believed would be most affective and cause the least suffering. Whether or not it would have worked in Germany is hard to say. There might have been a "nonviolent resistance event horizon" after which it becomes impossible, but you can't exactly replay history to find out, unfortunately.
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Straygaldwyr
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Put me down for Supply Side Economics.
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Jesse
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Without generally compliant slave labor, how long would the Third Reich have lasted?

It would have been very costly. Millions still would have been killed.

However, no German could have lied to themselves about what they did or did not know. There would have been no veil, however thin, of secrecy.

Think about what the murder of a handfull of black children in Birmingham meant in the US, and think about what a couple of hundred Jewish-German women and children mowed down in the streets of Berlin would have meant.

It would have destroyed all convient lies told to the German public about how "The Jews" were just being forced to do some "honest work for once".

It would have been hard. It would have taken iron will and total group dedication. It would have cost many, many lives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenstrasse_protest

[ March 20, 2008, 03:22 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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caladbolg1125
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Also, how public was the knowledge of the holocaust? From what I've read, it may have been common knowledge but no one talked about it openly. It seems everyone was scared ****less so that movements like Gandhi's wouldn't start or at least wouldn't get anywhere.
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Straygaldwyr
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quote:
I'm unaware of any brilliant or important 20th century political ideas. The 20th century has been too busy churning things via technology for politics to do more than keep its head above water.
Mutually Assured Destruction...
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Jesse
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Caladblog -

Everyone knew that people were being rounded up and sent somewhere decidedly unpleasant.

Of the actual death camps, there were rumors, whispers, hushed discussion, but no public admission that they were real.

The average urban Germane could plausably deny that such things were really happening, and write it off as Anti-German unpatriotic slander.

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caladbolg1125
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Exactly, Jesse, and by denying that it was happening any public attempts to stop it had diminished legitimacy in the eyes of the public. No traction to actually get a nonviolent resistance started, no matter how "civilized" the Germans were.
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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by starLisa:
Fortunately, I didn't run across Rand's writings until I was in my early '30s. And I started with her non-fiction essays, rather than stuff like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead (amazing as those were).

That probably did help. Her writings are better when they focus on philosophy rather than telling a story. Some of those long, long, long ,long speeches by characters in Atlas Shrugged were way too long. That book seriously needed an editor to lop off about 300 pages. For me, it tended to lose the message by trying to drive it in too hard.
When I finally got a copy of Atlas Shrugged (I was living in Israel, and they weren't easy to come by), I read it all the way through, including the speech. I savored every word of it. On the other hand, I've never been able to do more than scan through it in subsequent readings.

quote:
Originally posted by G2:
Part of the problem with Objectivism was the cult that grew up around Rand. It was just this side of dudes in sheets handing out flowers at the airport. There is a great deal in objectivism that appeals to me though.

I'm not a fan of Rand-worshipping Randroids myself.
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Jesse
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Calad?

Did you check out the link?

It *did* work, on at least one occasion.

I don't point the finger at people who were largely ignorant of potential of the sort of movement we now take for granted as a strategy, and I say this in a "could have" sense and not a "should have" sense, and with an understanding of how the previous 1800 years led European Jews to believe that this too would pass after a while, that running if one could and enduring if one couldn't were the best ways to get through it.

100,000 Jews blocking every rail line and road in Berlin the day after Crystalnocht, led by WWI Veterans with Iron Crosses on their chests, would have made a difference.

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Daruma28
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This is just my opinion, but in my mind, the most important idea in the 20th century is a misconception: the idea that a government MUST implement/incorporate aspects of socialism to be considered "doing something."

From FDR on, we've seen nothing but the continued growth and expansion of the size, power and reach into all of our lives by the federal government...but because we did not have a dramatic revolution and upheaval like the Soviet Union, China, Cuba et al, socialism has become ingrained in our society and consciousness in a gradual, subtle fasthion to the point where it cannot even be questioned without the person doing the questioning being branded as "selfish" or "greedy" or accused of any other number of base motives.

For example: Social(ist) Security is the "3rd rail" of politics.

Looking at the Constitution, I fail to see any amendment or provision in which the Federal Government is designated the power to forcibly tax the populace to set up a ponzi scheme in the name of "retirement savings for all."

In my view, this "collectivist creep" has irrevocably corrupted the foundation of our Representative Republic as conceived and designed by the nation's founding Fathers, and have poisoned the minds of the masses to accept it as desirable.

It needs to be said...the US WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE A DEMOCRACY! THIS COUNTRY WAS DESIGNED AS A REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC!

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sharpshin
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quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
The application of modern marketing techniques to the Democratic Process.

Yep.
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Everard
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"In my view, this "collectivist creep" has irrevocably corrupted the foundation of our Representative Republic as conceived and designed by the nation's founding Fathers, and have poisoned the minds of the masses to accept it as desirable."

Well, no, what "poisoned" the minds of the masses to accept it as desireable was how MISERABLY non-socialism worked for the majority of the population. While we may eventually move to something else, welfare liberalism became the common western economic/political system because what preceeded it (more or less classical liberalism) didn't work. It simply failed about 3/4 of the population of western europe and the united states, and so its been relegated to the dustbin of whats acceptable government in most people's minds.

"he US WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE A DEMOCRACY! THIS COUNTRY WAS DESIGNED AS A REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC!"

You're lucky that it still is a representative republic. If our population actually voted on specific issues, our country would be way more to the left then it currently is... polls over the last 30 years have consistently shown people support programs that fit under the scheme of welfare liberalism, compared to free market programs.

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Viking_Longship
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If we are discussing sheer impact not actual creation within the 20th century I'd say the various manifestations of communism hands down.

I say this not because it was a particularly worthy idea, but because both it's spread, and the measures taken to counter it, such as the toleration of many nasty regimes.

Fascism was tolerated as counter to the communists. It was only in Germany where it became so violently militant and racist that it was eventually put down. Fascism was tolerated in places like Spain as a lesser evil.

If we are referring only to ideas born of the 20th century probably New Deal liberalism and modern conservatism.

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starLisa
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Yes, people will always vote themselves bread and circuses. Lucky us.

And you're wrong. The debate between individualists and statists existed from the beginning of the USA. It wasn't until Lincoln and his war that the fight was lost to the statists. And it happened top-down; it was most certainly not a grass roots phenomenon.

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Daruma28
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Well, no, what "poisoned" the minds of the masses to accept it as desireable was how MISERABLY non-socialism worked for the majority of the population.

Rather than go round and round on this, I would rather just say that this is pro-collectivist revisionism to justify your preferred system...and you obviously disagree with that.

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Everard
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"The debate between individualists and statists existed from the beginning of the USA"

It did. Fortunately for most people, collectivism has been beating individualism for quite a while, cause individualism just sucked for most people.

"And it happened top-down; it was most certainly not a grass roots phenomenon."

Not if you're going to look at welfare liberalism compared to classical liberalism. While the state became more powerful with lincoln, it didn't become more powerful in ways that would turn into welfare liberalism... THAT didn't start to happen until a generation later, and that came as a movement against the statism that followed lincoln.

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Everard
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€"Rather than go round and round on this, I would rather just say that this is pro-collectivist revisionism to justify your preferred system...and you obviously disagree with that."

Whether its true or not, its certainly not revisionism since its what the people at the time were saying. I'm not sure how something can be revisionist if its the story told at the time the event is occuring.

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Everard
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"And it happened top-down;"

The Knights of Labor was formed by philadelphia tailors in 1869.

The Greenback party was formed on the backs of farmers who reacted to the 1873 panic. They elected 21 independents in 1878.

The Farmer's alliance was a grass roots group that was aimed against commodity brokers, formed in 1876 and extremely popular in the farm states.

These groups eventually became the Populist Party, which gave us the Omaha platform and eventually welfare liberalism as expressed in the united states.

To say that this was a top down movement is to be... grossly ignorant of history.

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Daruma28
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It did. Fortunately for most people, collectivism has been beating individualism for quite a while, cause individualism just sucked for most people.

There is plenty of historical references to refute this claim...but as I said, no need to go round and round on this. We all know where we respectively stand. I can just as confidently and assuredly make the exact counter claim to yours and we will never agree. I say individualism beats collectivism every time, and that collectivism has sucked for most people, most of the time.

Agree to disagree is about we will ever be able to reach on this topic, so I will leave it at that.

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"The debate between individualists and statists existed from the beginning of the USA"

It did. Fortunately for most people, collectivism has been beating individualism for quite a while, cause individualism just sucked for most people.

On the contrary. Collectivism is much, much easier than individualism. Forcing people to do what you want is always easier than having to actually persuade them. Once the people who were ideologically in favor of the government running people's lives (like Lincoln and the Whigs before him) started doing it, the simple fact that it was easier got it started steamrollering all over individual rights and responsibilities.

quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"And it happened top-down; it was most certainly not a grass roots phenomenon."

Not if you're going to look at welfare liberalism compared to classical liberalism. While the state became more powerful with lincoln, it didn't become more powerful in ways that would turn into welfare liberalism... THAT didn't start to happen until a generation later, and that came as a movement against the statism that followed lincoln.

That's not even close to true. Lincoln was a huge advocate of "internal improvements", which was the term used by the collectivists for having the government meddle in things they weren't granted the powers for. Once it became an accepted idea that the government could force everyone to pay for such things, a line was crossed. Until then, the citizens of the US couldn't vote themselves bread and circuses, because it was considered out of bounds for the government to supply bread and circuses. But once the government was "allowed" to tax for anything it felt was a general good, it was absolutely inevitable that the bread and circuses would follow.
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flydye45
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I think one of the more magnificent things which occured was the inclusion of morality into the West's judgements about foreign policy.

Ghandi won because the Brits found their moral stand wanting. This occured in colony after colony. Ditto the Philipines, Guam, and other protectorates in the U.S.

This was not universally appreciated. France, for example, had to be dragged screaming and kicking away from some of their colonies.

I now await to see what I overlooked.

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kenmeer livermaile
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TV campaign ads? [Razz]
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Jesse
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Sorry, Daruma, but there's a different Roosevelt who really got that ball rolling.

Of course, both of them were just doing the absolute minimum they had to in order to avoid a bloody revolution they never could have won.

The mob will kill before it starves.

[ March 21, 2008, 03:03 AM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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RickyB
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Has anyone mentioned the political ideas that grew out of transnational companies? The whole "economic state" rather than "nation state" stuff that Warrsaw Pact likes to talk about? I dunno about important. Scary, tho.
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Viking_Longship
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Ricky
I expect that one to be to this century what communism was to the 20th.

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Everard
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" Lincoln was a huge advocate of "internal improvements", which was the term used by the collectivists for having the government meddle in things they weren't granted the powers for. Once it became an accepted idea that the government could force everyone to pay for such things, a line was crossed. Until then, the citizens of the US couldn't vote themselves bread and circuses, because it was considered out of bounds for the government to supply bread and circuses. But once the government was "allowed" to tax for anything it felt was a general good, it was absolutely inevitable that the bread and circuses would follow."

Not very familiar with the Hamilton/Jefferson divide, are you? Or Henry Clay?

Both "The Real Lincoln," and "What Lincoln Believed," show fairly well (at least in my opinion) that Lincoln's internal policies followed directly in that philosophical line, and were really Mercantilist. The Populism of the late 19th century was directly contrary to the Mercantilist philosophy, and much more in line with the Jefferson debate... the side that had been losing for the previous 50 years.

ANd, of course, if you are going to argue that "internal improvements," was an idea that came top down, remember that when Lincoln was still a state representative in illinois in the '30's, it was counties holding conventions and passing resolutions demanding internal improvements, and then sending delegates to the state legislature, that got a 10 million dollar bill passed for railroads, canals,etc... not a push from the top down.

[ March 21, 2008, 09:03 AM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Rallan
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Fascism. It, communism, capitalism, and nationalism collectively changed the face of the world more drastically than any other ideology in the 20th century, and it's the only one of the four that can really be considered a 20th century invention and not just a 20th century refinement of an existing idea. It was a damned stupid idea, but there's no denying that historically it was a massively important damn stupid idea.

Oh and I have to disagree with whoever proposed Objectivism. It's just an attempt to justify Libertarianism by arguing that social darwinism is morally superior to compassion and a code of conduct that we should applaud and aspire to. It never became popular except in Libertarian circles, and has never been used as anything other than a defense of Libertarianism. As a political theorist Ayn Rand is a footnote in the history of Libertarian thought, and as a science fiction author she was distinctly mediocre and her only real achievement was to write novels which promoted the author's ideology more blatantly than just about anyone else (and in a century of sci-fi authors including Heinlein, Huxley, LeGuin, Orwell, and Wells, that's a notable achievement).

StarLisa said nobody under 25 should read Ayn Rand because they won't be able to appreciate the ideology she's promoting. I say nobody over 25 should read Ayn Rand because the more well-read you are, the harder it is to ignore her abominable lack of talent.

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Rallan:
Oh and I have to disagree with whoever proposed Objectivism. It's just an attempt to justify Libertarianism by arguing that social darwinism is morally superior to compassion and a code of conduct that we should applaud and aspire to.

On the contrary. Objectivism is a lot more compassionate than the statist claptrap it opposes. Collectivists use the claim of compassion as an excuse for running roughshod over the rights of others. Objectivism isn't about social darwinism. Oh, and Libertarianism came later than Objectivism, so the latter was hardly trying to justify it.

quote:
Originally posted by Rallan:
StarLisa said nobody under 25 should read Ayn Rand because they won't be able to appreciate the ideology she's promoting. I say nobody over 25 should read Ayn Rand because the more well-read you are, the harder it is to ignore her abominable lack of talent.

You should read some of her non-fiction, so that you can stop pretending that a person's writing style is something that can legitimately be used to argue against their philosophy.
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Viking_Longship
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I can't see that Objectivism actually got knowingly applied much in the 20th century.

Honestly, outside of Rand's novels how DO you apply it for long?

And what is your start date for libertarianism? It's a 19th century philosophy.

[ March 21, 2008, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Viking_Longship
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I'm with Rallan on the age thing too I'm afraid.

I was able to read some of the Fountainhead (and watched the movie [Razz] ) when I was in my late teens and 20s. At 30 I tried to read a collection of her philosophical work and found it too horrifying to continue.

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Rallan
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Speaking of movies, the Baldwin Group has acquired the film rights to Atlas Shrugged, and rumour has it that they're trying to get Angelina Jolie to play the female lead, Russel Crowe to play Hank Rearden, and Brad Pitt to play an undetermined role (possibly John Galt, possibly a supporting character). The director is some Ukrainian guy called Vadim Perelman, who rewrote the script once the Baldwin Group acquired it.

I predict this will be the most awesome sci-fi labour of love since Battlefield Earth [Smile]

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
I can't see that Objectivism actually got knowingly applied much in the 20th century.

Honestly, outside of Rand's novels how DO you apply it for long?

It had a vastly greater influence than you might think. For one, check out Alan Greenspan, 5 years as Federal Reserve Chairman and a pretty hard core Objectivist.
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Viking_Longship
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G2
So how did he apply it?

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kenmeer livermaile
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"You should read some of her non-fiction, so that you can stop pretending that a person's writing style is something that can legitimately be used to argue against their philosophy."

Ultimately, such judgements remain moot unless empirical evidence overwhelms, but still, I note the old adage: Good mouth equals good mind.

Wooden prose/plot construction is typically the product of a wooden mind. But then, Ayn didn't write fiction when she wrote fiction. She wrote conjectural sociopolitical essays/lectures using fictional characters and settings.

Much like Heinlein's very first novel (only published in the past few years).

Objectivism states some obvious principles and hoists upon them some lofty ideals, but it's method of actiuially Belling the Cat is as assumptive as Old Man Marx's belief in the inate good of the working classes' desire for justice and better living as a force that would topple Evil ld Capitalism (and associated boogiemenz).

She, like Marx, sold something the people wanted to hear.

But then, so did Edgar Rice Burroughs.

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flydye45
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"Good mouth equals good mind."

Really? How does that apply to Hitler? Of course his writing was drivel, but somehow he convinced sausage sellers to pack up the ovens, which is quite a feat.

Need to go back to the adage shop.

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kenmeer livermaile
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Mein Kampf is horribly written.

He was a Mighty Shouter, our Hitler was.

It's an old adage, from a time when scarce anyone read or wrote, so mouth equaled 'ability to use words' back then.

But it's only an adage. Winston had an amazing mouth and pen, but was so riddled by wooden thought it took Hitler's disasters to earn him respect for his eloquence.

Had he taken to burlesque, writing plays (especially comedies), Shakespearian acting (again, mostly the comedies; he;s a funny-looking fellow), and his historical writing, he might still have been a giant.

Imagine him tossing barbs with W.C.Fields.

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
I can't see that Objectivism actually got knowingly applied much in the 20th century.

Honestly, outside of Rand's novels how DO you apply it for long?

It had a vastly greater influence than you might think. For one, check out Alan Greenspan, 5 years as Federal Reserve Chairman and a pretty hard core Objectivist.
Greenspan was an Objectivist once. Long, long before he became chairman of the Fed.
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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
I can't see that Objectivism actually got knowingly applied much in the 20th century.

Honestly, outside of Rand's novels how DO you apply it for long?

And what is your start date for libertarianism? It's a 19th century philosophy.

First of all, the thread says "most important", not "most used" or "most influential".

Second of all, what do you mean "how do you apply it"? You don't work from the premise that other people and their belongings are something that can be legitimately moved around like chess pieces. You recognize the sovereignty of others just as you insist on it for yourself.

And third of all, we weren't discussing libertarianism; we were discussing Libertarianism. If you're going to conflate them, then I'll point out that objectivism existed long before Objectivism.

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Viking_Longship
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Well in the 19th century a libertarian was called a Liberal, thus it is also known as Classical Liberalism.

Your second point sounds nice but can you give me a practical example?

What are you basing its importance on if not influance or use?

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