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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Rat Cap Podcast: Episode 6

The Rat Cap Podcast: The Supreme Court's Historical Role in Promoting Federal Tyranny (libsyn.com)

What was the Founder's conception of the role of the states vis-a-vis the federal government, and how did the Supreme Court set America on the path to Civil War and federal tyranny?  

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Rat Cap Podcast: Episode 5

The Rat Cap Podcast: The Psychological and Cultural Roots of Cancel Culture Madness (libsyn.com)

Critical Theory and Postmodern philosophy underlie the authoritarian left's movement to destroy Western liberal democracy, but there are also devastating psychological, technological, and cultural factors at work.  We use Haidt and Lukianoff's fascinating book "The Coddling of the American Mind" to analyze and explain these factors.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Rat Cap Podcast: Episode 4

The Rat Cap Podcast: Post-Moderns at the Gate: The Battle for Free Speech (libsyn.com)

Critical Theory and Postmodernist philosophy is at the core of the Left's authoritarian calls to silence, suppress, cancel, and censor right wing speech.  What is postmodernism and critical theory, what is its philosophic basis, and how is it being used to throttle free speech and destroy the fundamental pillar of Western Civilization?    

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Rat Cap Podcast: Episode 3

 The Rat Cap Podcast: Patriots Rise Again: The Whiskey Rebellion and the Storming of the Capital (libsyn.com)

Many are denouncing the recent riots in Washington DC. , but this is not the first time that frustration and angst over unjust federal over-reach has provoked riots.  In this episode, we discuss the anti-federalists at the Founding who warned of federal tyranny, and analyze the Whiskey Rebellion to see how our patriot ancestors dealt with despots.   

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Rat Cap Podcast: Episode 2

The Rat Cap Podcast: America 4.0: An Introduction (libsyn.com)

Why is America is on the brink of a totalitarian revolution?  What philosophical, economic, and psychological forces have brought us to this point? In this episode, I give an introduction and overview of my theory, America 4.0.  

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Rat Cap Podcast, Episode 1

Episode 1: What Did We Learn from this Election? 

We knew the 2020 election would tell us something about the country.  So what were the political and philosophical lessons, and what do advocates of freedom and individual rights do now?  

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Immigration Post Links

Here are links to my past articles on immigration.  Future immigration articles will also appear in this index in addition to having their own permalink.       

1. Is There a Right to Immigrate? (12/5/2017)

In the wake of a recent post I wrote on immigration, an argument that keeps arising is the claim that "immigrants have a right to immigrate."  This assertion takes different forms such as, "a border is just a line," or "everyone has the same rights, how can you deny them the same rights you have?" and so on.  I touched on this argument again in another immigration post, but I want to make a more direct argument opposing the premise of this claim.

2. Why Objectivists REALLY Disagree on Immigration (11/27/2017)

Objectivists disagree on immigration because their intellectual leaders have left them with a false alternative, between rationalism and empiricism, that fails to properly address the core facts and questions surrounding this important and complex issue.  I hope by shedding light on even a portion of these flaws, it can lead to a more informed and civil debate and lead to better scholarship in this area and others.   

3. Why Objectivists REALLY Disagree on Immigration, Part 2 (3/16/2018)

However, because of the lack of principled and integrated thinking on the immigration issue, various new points of contention have emerged provoking heated debates.  Also, even within the context of this more limited debate in which open borders types have shifted, the hostility and logical inconsistency of the open borders position has persisted since their initial premises were never fully overturned in their minds.  The purpose of the following is to identify these significant issues, analyze them in a proper integrated context, and expose an even deeper philosophical problem that I see within this community that causes such debates to fester as long as they have.

4. Philosophical Foundations of Immigration in a Free Society (11/5/2017)

In 2015, I wrote a short post titled Principles of Immigration in a Free Society geared towards fellow Objectivists and libertarians who have been vehemently debating this issue. I argued that, even in a free society with a rights respecting government, immigration restrictions are perfectly appropriate and necessary as part of the government's national defense function.  Given this, it is even more critical to have restrictive policies today in the context of the threat of Islam, mass migrations from civil wars, our own mixed economy that subsidizes immigrants, and the reality of democratic elections within a nation on the brink where immigrants tend to favor the left (which regards immigrants as an important voting bloc to accomplish their civilization destroying political agenda).

5.  Biddle's Immigration Fallacy (1/23/2018)

Objectivists should be relying on arguments from rational self-interest which entails thinking through the practical long-term consequences of immigration policies morally, politically, economically and culturally. This is what a rational foreign policy must accomplish with respect to immigration. I never thought I would see the day where prominent Objectivist voices were relying on altruistic appeals to emotion and logical fallacies.

6. The Founding Fathers on Immigration: Further Arguments Against "Open-Borders" (4/9/2018)

Immigration and the American Founding, a paper written by Dr. Kevin Portteus, is an excellent analysis of some of the moral, legal, and practical issues related to immigration originally considered by America's Founding Fathers, and, in my opinion, serves as a necessary complement to my recent posts on immigration in a free society.

7. Objectivists Disintegrating (May 3, 2018)

See Part 3 "Contextual Principles Related to the Immigration Debate" in which I distinguish an "out-of-context rationalistic approach" from an "inductive, contextualized approach."

8. Immigration Package Dealing (June 20, 2018) 

I recently read a Reason article from 2012 titled "Ayn Rand Was an Illegal Immigrant" by Shikha Dalmia.  This post will analyze some of the major flaws in that article.

9. Immigration Policy: A Floating vs. Integrated Approach (excerpted from prior post) (September 19, 2018) 

I have observed that most advocates of the "right to immigrate" argument start with an out-of-context, rationalistic assertion of individual rights from which they proceed to deduce conclusions. "Everyone has rights" they will begin, "and therefore, any immigrant should be able to immigrate here freely at any time for any reason."  This argument commits the fallacy of context-dropping on a massive scale, and more fundamentally, it fails to grasp that the concept of individual rights exists within a broader philosophical framework.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

America's "Manichaean Choice"

The academic trends on the left have been on a collision course with American and western principles of law, civil liberties and individual rights. You cannot have the nation’s intellectuals espousing collectivist identity politics, speech codes, and the violent suppression of dissent without it manifesting in the culture and ending in some cataclysmic legal or political battle. Trump and his supporters merely accelerated this trend as the left realized it could no longer count on the unwashed masses to deliver milquetoast opposition while on their “long march through the institutions.” They will continue to try and overthrow the country democratically, and if that doesn’t work, they will turn even more explicitly to violent revolution. 

The past two years has exposed this state of affairs for anyone willing to see. The complete breakdown of mainstream journalistic standards in favor of the left, the hysterical coarsening of political debate, and mob-rule purges are symptoms of a culture ripening to totalitarian control. The attempted deep state coup against Trump and the Kavanaugh circus are political manifestations of the same fundamental post-modern anti-American philosophic climate.

The Kavanaugh hearing's brazen contempt for civil and constitutional norms may be the moment this conflict finally crystallizes for mainstream Americans who to this point only sensed something was seriously wrong.  Victor Davis Hanson writes: "The “process” of memorializing Ford’s testimony involved a strange inversion of constitutional norms: The idea of a statute of limitations is ossified; hearsay is legitimate testimony; inexact and contradictory recall is proof of trauma, and therefore of validity; the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser; detail and evidence are subordinated to assumed sincerity; proof that one later relates an allegation to another is considered proof that the assault actually occurred in the manner alleged; motive is largely irrelevant; the accuser establishes the guidelines of the state’s investigation of the allegations; and the individual allegation gains credence by cosmic resonance with all other such similar allegations."

As he noted in a recent interview, the nature of such an extreme breakdown necessarily forces Americans into choosing one of only two sides - a "Manichaean choice” as he describes it.  At this point, either you advocate western jurisprudence, individual rights, and the American Constitution or you advocate mob rule and dictatorship.

In Godfather II, Michael Corleone witnesses a revolutionary blow himself up in order to kill two cops and is asked what it tells him. He replies, “It tells me they can win.”  In other words, when one side demonstrates their willingness to go to maniacal extremes, it shows they are beyond rational persuasion and hell-bent on winning at any cost despite the odds against them - which makes them formidable.  To not let them win, first, we need to appreciate the seriousness of this moment. Second, if you are worried about supporting an imperfect candidate (just about any Republican) against a horrible candidate (pretty much any Democrat) because of some theory about "long run consequences," realize, at this point, there are indeed two sides, because if the left succeeds in erasing basic civil liberties and the rule of law, there will be no long run.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Immigration Policy: A Floating vs. Integrated Approach (excerpted from prior post)

The following is excerpted from my longer post on out-of-context thinking and rationalism, Objectivists Disintegrating?:    


Contextual Principles Related to the Immigration Debate

In a recent immigration post where I criticized Dr. Harry Binswanger's open-borders position and argued for a an objective policy of immigration restriction, I claimed the main reason that the immigration debate has metastasized into a full blown intellectual battle is the lack of contextualized thinking with regard to the government's role in protecting individual rights in the context of a sovereign nation. 

1) Immigration Policy: Out-Of-Context, Rationalistic Approach

I have observed that most advocates of the "right to immigrate" argument start with an out-of-context, rationalistic assertion of individual rights from which they proceed to deduce conclusions. "Everyone has rights" they will begin, "and therefore, any immigrant should be able to immigrate here freely at any time for any reason."  This argument commits the fallacy of context-dropping on a massive scale, and more fundamentally, it fails to grasp that the concept of individual rights exists within a broader philosophical framework.  

If you take this rationalistic approach to upholding rights, consider how you would answer the following questions. Readers of this blog likely uphold freedom of production and trade, so should a private company have the right to sell advanced military technology or weapons to North Korea or Iran? Private property owners have the right to voluntarily trade and meet with other individuals, but can a private property owner bring in foreign nationals who carry a deadly virus?  Can a private property owner bring in and house thousands of communists who wish to overthrow the government - even assuming they don't have weapons on them right now? Could a private property owner who owns ocean frontage allow an enemy nation to dock its nuclear submarine fleet and board its military personnel? What if a group of property owners decide to import fifty million Islamic radicals who seek to take over local jurisdictions and impose Sharia law?  Should we allow China, India, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, and Syria to relocate half of their populations to the United States if they so choose?

2) Practical Consequences of Non-Contextual Thinking Method in Immigration Debate

In the case where rights are asserted as a floating abstraction, one cannot answer the questions I posed except in a way that ends with bizarre and contradictory conclusions.  "People have the right to movement," utters the out-of-context rationalist, "so anyone can come here at any time without restriction."  "People have the freedom to produce and trade," says the rationalist, "so anyone can sell anything to anybody, even to dangerous enemies."  Well, what if they have disease?  What if they are criminals?  What if fifty million third world migrants wish to come to a state that has three million people with the goal of imposing Sharia law?  Is that fair to your neighbor citizens?   

When faced with these types of questions, the rationalist, sensing something wrong, will often revert to a contradictory position where they advocate some minimal restrictions for "disease or criminal record."  But, if you drop the context of citizenship and sovereignty, how can that position square even with their floating notion of rights?  If their position is "everyone has the same rights" then how could they justify stopping someone with disease?  After all, can an American citizen be stopped or deported for disease?  Can an American with a criminal record be deported?  On the other hand, if you do support the idea of immigration restrictions, in principle, then how can you assail or smear a fellow proponent of immigration restrictions who may just have a different standard of restriction than you?  

Again, not only does this contradictory position amount to an admission of the need for immigration restrictions, but, such restrictions imply the need for a means of enforcement, a border with controls!  You cannot say "I don't believe in any border control" but, at the same time, claim, "I want to keep out diseased terrorists." How?! 

Consider another example of rationalistic context-dropping. Often the open border advocate asks, "if a person peacefully immigrates which right of yours is violated?"  Note that the question smuggles in the assumption that all immigration is peaceful. Of course, the entire question revolves around what is peaceful immigration and what is not. Screening is needed precisely to ensure that all prospective immigrants are, in fact, peaceful.

3) Immigration Policy: An Inductive, Contextualized Approach\

Of course, those who simply hold the "people have rights" principle as a floating abstraction either cannot answer these questions, or must answer them in a way that flies in the face of common sense.  Instead, let's consider the question inductively, i.e., let's ask what facts give rise to the concept of government and sovereignty in the first place so we can apply the concept in practical situations and easily answer the questions posed above.

Individuals possess rights, by virtue of being human, but the fact is that individuals must take specific actions in order to protect those rights in a social context.  Rights are not respected out of thin air by some mystical universal tribunal.  People must create and sustain the actual means through which they attempt to protect the rights to which they are entitled.

When a group of property owners and individuals agree to form a government to protect each other's rights and provide for the common defense, they create a sovereign "nation" by virtue of that agreement (like the thirteen colonies did under the U.S. Constitution).  They grant the government certain enumerated powers, and that particular government is created by and for those particular people - the citizens.  That particular government can take many different forms but, in essence, it is the framework by which those particular people choose to protect their rights.

Those people and their government are a sovereign nation, and one of the primary functions for which individuals voluntarily create a government in the first place is to protect themselves, collectively, from foreign threats or invasion.   Therefore, they freely elect and grant power to government to represent them in order to deal with laws, treaties, and military affairs as it pertains to foreign nations or foreign nationals. The threats and various conflicts stemming from foreign relations can take different forms and a foreign policy must be defined and implemented, to fairly and objectively deal with foreign threats while respecting the rights of their own citizens.

Note the flow here.  It starts with property owners and citizens seeking to protect their rights by forming a government within their lands.  The people, through their representative government, then look out at the world and say "how do we protect ourselves from the rest of the world's bad guys (who are not part of our nation), while dealing beneficially with good guys?"

4) Practical Consequences of Contextual Thinking Method in Immigration Debate

Now consider the answer to the original questions from the perspective of an integrated, contextual understanding of individual rights. 

Recall, the whole reason for setting up a government is to provide the citizens an agency of self-defense against domestic criminals and foreign invaders, the latter being the subject of immigration.  The need to define and implement policies to protect citizens from foreign invasion is the purview of the elected government and its foreign policy. 

One of the primary functions of the national government is the protection of the country from foreign threats.  When immigration is rightly seen as part of our nation's foreign policy, it becomes obvious that to advocate protecting ourselves from enemies abroad based on rational foreign policy concerns, while not concerning ourselves with potential enemies crossing our own border, is a wild contradiction.  Both aspects of defense are crucial and complementary.

I discuss immigration specifically in this context here (all of my immigration posts are linked here).  In those posts, I define "threat" in the foreign policy context, and stress the necessity to identify such threats contextually since the nature of any given threat changes over time.  Any nation, group, or individual that has both motive to destroy us (e.g., communists, Islamists, etc.) and the means to accomplish it, constitutes a real threat.  Consequently, a reasonable and desirable goal of foreign policy is to identify objectively hostile ideologies which serve as motives for attack, and to assess other nations' or groups' military ability to achieve an attack. That is the job of the defense and intelligence agencies.

In discussing this issue, one must consider the fact that immigration can change the very composition of the electorate and thus change or overthrow the very institutions empowered to protect its citizens, and so occupies a special category which overrules purely economic considerations.  As I did in my post, one must consider the types of threats contextually in different parts of the world over time, the issue of mass migration versus individual migration (which involves aggregate vs. individual considerations), cultural assimilation, the context of the modern mixed-economy, and so on.  Additionally, this issue should be explored not only with these facts in mind, but integrated with facts from our nation's history and founding which further inform the discussion.

Such an approach was taken by Dr. Peikoff, in a podcast from several years ago, where he advocated for restricted immigration due the fact that third world migrants stand to empower the left further if they get the vote.  This is exactly the type of real world threat that should be considered by the citizens of a country in directing its own government to protecting the existence of their government. 

Failing to consider these facts and conditions and asserting something to the effect of "people have rights therefore open borders" is a complete breach of rational epistemology.  To further compound the error by leveling charges of bigotry or xenophobia at rational opponents, involves an even more egregious and vicious default.  Yet, this is exactly what has happened within the Objectivist movement.    

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Judging Historical Figures

The preposterous academic trend of judging historical figures, out-of-context, by today's standards (the standards themselves largely a result of many of the historical figures’ own intellectual, political, and military achievements!) should not be seen merely as a childish or na├»ve interpretation of historical events but, rather, as a deliberate attempt to rewrite history and to devalue and purge the icons of western civilization from the culture.
For example, rather than rationally seeing the Founding Fathers as iconic heroes who risked or gave their lives to liberate themselves and the colonies from oppressive monarchy, and whose political philosophy of liberty and individual freedom actually set in motion the very trends that inexorably led to the abolition of slavery and to the most free, prosperous nation in the history of the world, they attack and dismiss these men, because they themselves held slaves - despite the fact that most of the world practiced slavery at that time, including Africans and Native Americans.
Whether it’s Aristotle, Columbus, Galileo, Shakespeare, Jefferson, or Robert E. Lee, not viewing any historical figure in the wider historical context, for good or bad, is not only scientific and academic malpractice, it is evil. Applying a kind of binary “good or evil” stamp on historical figures, not only by today’s ethical standards, but particularly from a Marxist perspective, is an attempt to undermine rational standards of intellectual inquiry in favor of rote leftist propaganda.
Of course, rational standards of intellectual inquiry, which necessitates a contextual understanding of how knowledge grows and ethical standards change over time, is not the goal of these academics. The Marxist lens through which they categorize historical figures into "sinner or saint" is a means to shame, disarm, and ripen the culture for their utopian revolution.
In a brilliant examination of recent cultural and political trends leading us toward civil war, Victor Davis Hanson writes:
Universities grew not just increasingly left-wing but far more intolerant than they were during the radicalism of the Sixties — but again in an infantile way. Speakers were shouted down to prove social-justice fides. “Studies” courses squeezed out philosophy and Latin. History became a melodramatic game of finding sinners and saints, rather than shared tragedy. Standards fell to accommodate poorly prepared incoming students, on the logic that old norms were arbitrary and discriminatory constructs anyway.
The curriculum now was recalibrated as therapeutic; it no longer aimed to challenge students by demanding wide reading, composition skills, and mastery of the inductive method. The net result was the worst of all possible worlds: An entire generation of students left college with record debt, mostly ignorant of the skills necessary to read, write, and argue effectively, lacking a general body of shared knowledge — and angry. They were often arrogant in their determination to actualize the ideologies of their professors in the real world. A generation ignorant, arrogant, and poor is a prescription for social volatility.
Western civilization and its foundational values of individual freedom, private property, and representative government required hundreds of years of intellectual and military battles to achieve and maintain. The ideas and the culture of the west should be understood and criticized within that context and should be valued consciously and rationally as a body of life serving principles and achievements that have created the most advanced and noblest civilization in history.