2004/09/26

On why a parrot is not an Objectivist, an "Objectivist Sympathizer," nor an ally

Recently, in email to Noumenal Self [I highly recommend his blog, as well], I outlined a problem that I see when some Objectivists discuss Presidents Reagan, George W. Bush or Republicans in general [although it occasionally arises when discussing Democrats]. The problem is that a statement is made by a non-Objectivist that, if made by an Objectivist, would be a true statement. This statement is then used to argue that the person [or group they represent] is an "Objectivist Sympathizer" and can be our ally. I won't bother to touch the reductio-ad-absurdum of this argument: Libertarians.

What I will cover is what the argument drops: context.

Admittedly, it is tempting to fall into this argument and not recognize it because it does takes work to analyze their context and to hold the correct context to compare it against, but it is vital to do so.

The purveyors of this argument are quick to ascribe their context to the statements of non-Objectivists and think that because they're saying the right words, that they agree with Objectivists: "Abortion is a right of women," or "Free markets are good," or "You're either with us or with the terrorists." But the others who say such things hold a different context and different definitions of the words they are using than an Objectivist saying the exact same statements would.

"Abortion is a right of women." They mean that a woman has a "right" to privacy; a right that is "limited" by the government's interests. [The "right to privacy" is a package deal designed to obliterate the true right to property.]

"Free markets are good." They mean that competitors must be "helped" by the government to compete; that there must be an "even playing field" in the market; that everything must be insured by the government: banks, retirements, stock markets, food, drugs, firearms, smoking: all risks in life.

"You're either with us or with the terrorists." They mean "us" [including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Libya] and "the terrorists" [Al Qaida, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and 55 select members of his government]; they mean that you are with us by virtue of not blatantly proclaiming that you are with Al Qaida, the Taliban, or Saddam Hussein, regardless of what you actually do to support either side. They mean that once you're "with us," you will have input on which actions "we" should take. They mean that they will attempt to determine which camp each individual in countries controlled by those with "the terrorists" fall into before possibly hurting them. And of course, American lives are no object, it's the "just," "moral" thing to do.

Next time you hear a statement that you think you agree with; remember to hold the context that it is being spoken in; including what the speaker means by the words that he uses. Especially examine those words for which he has a different meaning than you do. Then you can accurately evaluate the truth or falsehood [or arbitrariness] of the statement.

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