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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chavez, Jones, and Obama: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions and Red Carpet

Chavez's red carpet junket to a Venice film festival where he was treated to Oliver Stone's gushing propaganda film celebrating his "revolution", Van Jones's recent claim that he was the victim of a "smear campaign", and recent comments made by Obama related to his push for a government takeover of the medical profession perfectly illustrate a reoccurring theme on this blog - the nature and consequences of pragmatism and altruism. Analyzing these examples helps to demonstrate how these abstractions play out in practice and points the way towards defeating the root cause of evil - bad ideas.

Reuters reports:
Chavez was in Venice for the world premiere of "South of the Border," director Oliver Stone's sympathetic portrait of a leader he says has championed the poor and who has been unfairly demonized by the U.S. media.
Keep in mind that as Chavez swaggered down the red carpet, his goons were busy shutting down dissenting radio stations in an effort to "democratize" the airwaves:
More than a dozen of 34 radio stations ordered shut by the Venezuelan government went off the air on Saturday, part of President Hugo Chavez's drive to extend his socialist revolution to the media.
Do you think the armed closure of independent media outlets to stifle dissent concerns the Hollywood glitterati or the left wing intelligentsia? Consider this statement:

Noam Chomsky ... was asked in an interview what would happen if Fox News or CNN had supported a coup against a president. Chomsky replied that not only would those channels have been closed, but their owners would have been sent to the electric chair.
Note the equivocation made by Chavez's apologist, Comrade Professor Chomsky. In a constitutional republic based upon laws that protect individual rights, a "coup" or armed overthrow of that nation's government would properly be regarded as treason and subject to the harshest criminal penalties. On the other hand, if a government violates its constitutional authority or systematically abrogates individual rights, individuals have a moral right to rebel. Quoting the Declaration of Independence (a document that no good modern philosophy professor would be caught dead reading):
[But] when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
In this case, the Venezuelan radio stations are not threatening a coup against a law abiding regime. They are exercising their inalienable right to speak out against the Chavez regime while this madman initiates brute force to silence anyone that dares criticize him. They would have every right to support a coup in the same way and for the same reasons the American colonists rebelled against the British monarchy.

Note the sickening liberal reaction to Chavez's regime. Rather than calls for their proverbial "tolerance" and "diversity", his regime's brutal suppression of dissent and wholesale abrogation of individual freedom receive ringing endorsements from prestigious American professors and twisted Hollywood propaganda glorifying his dictatorship (a la Che Guevara).

Amid this repulsive milieu, the statement that really caught my attention was Chavez's view of Obama:

"I have no reason to call him (Obama) the devil, and I hope that I am right," Chavez told reporters in Venice.

"With Obama we can talk, we are almost from the same generation, one can't deny that Obama is different (from Bush). He's intelligent, he has good intentions and we have to help him." [emphasis added]

"Good intentions"...where have we heard this one before?

Before I answer, consider another recent story related to Van Jones, Obama's erstwhile grand poobah of Green Job globety gook blah blah, who recently resigned amid charges that he is a radical left-wing maniac. When various facts came to light, including that he is a radical left-wing maniac, he claimed that 'he was the victim of a "vicious smear campaign" and that "opponents of reform" had used "lies and distortion" against him.' But, in fact, all the bloggers and media did was quote him [1, 2]. After all, was it a burning obsession amongst members of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to oust Obama's grand poobah of Green Job globety gook blah blah by "smearing" him and "distorting" his record? He is only important in providing more evidence of a more ominous trend toward Obama stacking the executive branch with communist radicals.

Still, why would he claim that he was "smeared" and that the truth was "distorted", a charge eerily reminiscent of those made by the left against the raucous town hall opponents of socialized medicine? Before I answer, consider one more recent event. This article reports:

In Cincinnati on Monday, Obama blamed the "usual bickering in Washington" for the "funk" supporters of health care reform were enduring. And in a discussion with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday, Obama said "there are a lot of politicians like that who, all they're thinking about is just, ‘How do I get reelected?’ and so they never actually get anything done."

Then on Wednesday night, Obama sought to portray his health reform plan as one that contains both Republican and Democratic ideas.

"The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed," Obama said. "Now is the season for action." [emphasis added]

Really? Obama dismisses the intense outrage being directed at his proposed enslavement of the medical industry as mere "bickering" and "games"? It's almost as if he is implying that there could not be a rational argument against his proposal, as if to say: "sure, you can haggle over the details, but fundamentally any opposition to this idea is nothing more than politics, bickering, or games." In fact, so confident is Dear Leader, evidently, he now realizes it was a mistake to allow the representatives of the American people a chance to express themselves:

He also acknowledged he made a tactical error in giving lawmakers too much leeway to craft a bill. "I, out of an effort to give Congress the ability to do their thing and not step on their toes, probably left too much ambiguity out there, which allowed, then, opponents of reform to come in and to fill up the airwaves with a lot of nonsense," Obama said.

Yeah, in hindsight, allowing those wacky Congress guys "to do their thing" probably was a "tactical error." C'mon Obama, your buddy Chavez could have told you that! This view is now the basis of consideration to ram the health care bill through based on a procedural technicality known as "reconciliation" that allows for a simple majority vote. He continues:

Part of the frustration I have is, is that on the Republican side there are wonderful people who really operated on the basis of pragmatism and common sense and getting things done,” Obama said. “Those voices have been — been, I think, shouted down on that side.”

So, the "wonderful people" who operate on "pragmatism" are good, but those nuts out there who believe in principles like individual rights, the rule of law, and the pursuit of happiness expressed their outrage or, in his words ,"shouted down" the dumbfounded pragmatists and, therefore, nothing is "getting done"! Evidently, Obama regards principled opposition to his policies to be literally noise or "shouting" which he is unable to process.

What fundamentally unites all of these events?

First, note that in each case, each man regards his political views as unquestionably right.

* Chavez doesn't want to hear dissenting views from 'bourgeoisie" intellectuals. He has good intentions. He needs time (10 years according to the article) to implement his "socialist reforms" so everyone better shut up and come along or go to jail.

* Obama's not a devil like Bush because he has "good intentions". He made a "tactical error" by letting the Congress get involved. They always let their "ideology" or "bickering" derail efforts to "get things done". After all, since he has good intentions, any opposition to him must be based on partisan gamesmanship and petty bickering not on any actual fundamental objection, which is impossible. In fact, he might just use a procedural technique to ram the bill through over the public's vehement objection since he knows what is best.

* In Van Jones's mind, he can not be the villainous caricature portrayed by Fox News. He has good intentions, so any opposition to him must be based on distortions and lies, and any characterization of him other than as a moral hero crusading for social justice is nothing but a vicious smear campaign orchestrated by right wing extremists.

In each case, facts, logic, and principles are regarded as superfluous to their good intentions to be dismissed, swept aside, or violently dispelled. And why do they believe they have "good intentions"? Because their political views are predicated on altruism, the reigning ethical code of our age. Quoting Ayn Rand:

The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

Altruism is the essence of socialism - a system which demands sacrifice to the state. To the socialist, as long as a political policy is predicated on self-sacrifice, i.e., as long as the policy legally prohibits decisions being made based upon selfish motives like profit or happiness, the policy is regarded as morally good. The practical details are virtually irrelevant and amount to little more than minor nuances requiring some degree of negotiation, consensus, and compromise - of course assuming any dissent or "counter revolutionary" thought is even tolerated by the thugs in power.

Also irrelevant to the socialist, are the practical consequences. Socialism everywhere has resulted in nothing but privation, misery, suffering, poverty, tyranny, gulags, and death. Still we hear the mantra of the left: "socialism is good in theory", i.e., it is moral in theory since it is based on the egalitarian concept of social justice. Therefore, socialism must be pursued at any cost because it is "just", regardless of the consequences. The revolution, they say, demands sacrifice - to your neighbor, to the state, to the poor, to the destitute, to Mother Earth and her ecosystem. To the socialist, you are your brother's keeper, and the ends justifies the means.

More importantly, ask yourself, could you argue this point with Obama, Chavez, or Jones in an attempt to rationally persuade them? In other words, what if you challenged the notion that altruism is moral? What if you pointed out the fact that a man must pursue his own self-interest in order to survive, prosper, and achieve happiness? If one pursues a course of self-sacrifice or self-destruction it represents a negation of life and must lead to misery, suffering and death. If man's life is the standard of value, altruism can be seen to be profoundly evil, and a social system based on altruism or self-sacrifice logically necessitates suffering and misery. On the other hand, a social system that acknowledges man's nature as an individual reasoning being would be founded upon a base of rights to protect the freedom to think and produce leading to prosperity and happiness.

Ask yourself how far such an argument will take you with modern intellectuals - an argument that relies on observations, facts, definitions, concepts, principles and induction, i.e., reason? Modern intellectuals tell us that we can not know anything for sure - that everything is subjective, that there are no black and whites. The rejection of the absolutism of reason is what leads to the relativistic abyss of post-modernism and pragmatism, which denies the possibility of absolute knowledge and urges action to test "provisional hypotheses". I discussed Obama's pragmatism in a series of posts in 2008. In my June 2008 post, The Pragmatist Fascist, I said:

Obama's philosophy is textbook pragmatism. He literally calls for "facts" not "ideology". An ideology is a set of interrelated principles and principles are essential to rational thought. Without principles (abstract concepts), our minds would be reduced to the level of an animal consciousness reacting on the range of the moment to every sensation. Note that Obama does not reject a particular ideology - he rejects the concept of ideology as such. He does not want to hear about individual rights or the law of supply and demand. When the time comes, he will assess the "facts" or "want to see what is going on at the moment" and take a poll of experts or "ask a wide range of viewpoints from business leaders." Is the forced expropriation of one's earnings for the unearned benefit of others right, i.e., are taxes immoral? Is the confiscation of a producer's wealth and capital "practical"? He doesn't know. In fact, he might "possibly defer" tax increases depending on the situation.

The current instance is another rousing example of his pragmatism. Any principled opposition is equated to a mindless mob shouting down Truth as revealed to Obama and his Philosopher Kings. Any resistance is equated with political opportunism, bickering, or petty partisanship. To the pragmatist mind, a rational, principled argument is literally noise serving only to obfuscate and delay the "season for action."

How do they know that altruism is right? Also from my previous post:

since the pragmatist rejects principle on principle, he must accept the prevailing views of others. And what is the prevailing view? It is altruism, collectivism and America's current system: the mixed economy. This is what accounts for Obama's unoriginality politically and why he says that he is "predisposed to a certain set of policies." He literally has nothing to new to offer accept the same worn out platitudes and policies of the Left. The political system necessitated by such a philosophy is fascism. If one upholds self-sacrifice ethically, he must desire a dictator or in Obama's words a "manager" to enforce these sacrifices to be made as most will not voluntarily give up their life, liberty and property.

Ayn Rand was able to project the consequences of modern philosophy over 50 years ago based on reason and a principled grasp of the role of ideas in human life. Americans today are bewildered by Obama's breathtaking power lust and only now are grasping the practical consequences of these more abstract ideas. Philosophy gives us the power to understand seemingly disparate events on a fundamental level and insight on how to reverse the ominous trends taking place before our eyes. Nothing could be more practical than understanding this.


HaynesBE said...

Hi Doug,

Speaking of "Good Intentions"--just today I came across a 30-minute 1982 PBS documentary with that name hosted by Walter Williams.
Check it out on U-Tube: Good Intentions

(P.S. I think your anger is showing.)

The Rat Cap said...


I'll definitely check it out - thx.

Me, angry? How could you tell...?

Frank Sanchez said...

Hi Doug,

I'm a new follower to your blog, and I have to admit that I'm impressed with your commentary. I now understand why Professor Reisman has your link on his blog. Keep up the good work!

HaynesBE said...

RE: Obama dismisses the intense outrage being directed at his proposed enslavement of the medical industry as mere "bickering" and "games"?

Another example of Pres. Obama's dismissal of his opposition through belittle them occurred during his recent 60 Minutes interview.

In discussing the stimulus plan, he said:

What I think is a legitimate concern, because this did happen under my watch, is that we initiated a big recovery act. That was a lot of money. Eight hundred billion dollars. And the reason we did so was that every credible Democratic and Republican economist at the time when we came in said, "If we don't have a stimulus of some sort, then this is potentially going to get a lot worse."

Catch that? Any economist who disagreed with the stimulus package simply isn't credible.

If you are interested in the transcript of the interview, you can find it ,here.

The Rat Cap said...


Thanks for the encouragement and glad you enjoy it!


That is a perfect example. At least he only regards economists who disagree with him as being not "credible" versus being a "racist" which is what Jimmy Carter and Krugman call dissenters...so we are moving him in the right direction:)