Saturday, May 03, 2008

Objectivism & Religion, Part 5

Force and Faith. As is well known among her admirers, Rand saw s linkage between force and faith. “These,” she insisted, “are corollaries: every period of history dominated by mysticism, was a period of statism, of dictatorship, of tyranny.” This view is a bit exaggerated: in the real world, the relationship between faith and force is not so simple. We can, however, give her credit for noticing the relationship between faith and force. These two elements often (though not always) go together. Their conjunction raises a number of difficult problems that Rand and her orthodox followers sedulously ignore.

All governments, whether good or bad, whether just or tyrannical, maintain their status through a mixture of consensus and force. No government can maintain itself by resorting to only one of these elements. A government of a free country needs to protect its citizens against foreign and domestic enemies, which can only be done through force. A tyrannical government, on the other hand, must at least establish a consensus among those responsible for enforcing its despotism.

The necessity of resorting to force is not a problem to a tyrannical government, since it thrives on force. But it is a problem for a free country, because force and freedom are somewhat antithetical. They are antithetical not merely for the obvious Objectivist reasons; but also, and more tragically, for reasons stemming from various short-comings in human nature.

Machiavelli famously wrote that a leader “should imitate the fox and the lion, because a lion cannot defend himself from snares and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. Therefore, it is important to be a fox in order to understand the snares and a lion in order to terrify the wolves.” The lion is envisaged as the man of force and courage; the fox as the man of intelligence and chicanery. When one examines these two archetypes and their role in politics and history, one comes upon several disturbing discoveries. Consider Pareto’s take on the subject:

Suppose a certain country has a governing class, A, that assimilates the best elements, as regards intelligence, in the whole population. In that case the subject class, B, is largely stripped of such elements and can have little or no hope of ever overcoming the class A so long as it is a battle of wits. If intelligence were to be combined with force, the dominion of the A’s would be perpetual…”

In other words, if the A’s combined both intelligence and force, they would conform to Machiavelli’s ideal of imitating both the lion and the fox. But there is a problem with this strategy, as illuminated by Pareto:
But such a happy combination occurs only for a few individuals. In the majority of cases people who rely on their wits are or become less fitted to use violence, and vice versa. So concentration in class A of the individuals most adept at chicanery leads to a concentration in class B of the individuals most adept at violence; and if that process is long continued, the equilibrium [of society] tends to be come unstable, because the A’s are long in cunning but short in the courage to use force and in the force itself; whereas the B’s have the force and the courage to use it, but are short in the skill required for exploiting those advantages. But if they chance to find leaders who have the skill—and history shows that such leadership is usually supplied by dissatisfied A’s—they have all they need for driving the A’s from power. Of just that development history affords countless examples from remotest times all the way down to the present.

Pareto, in setting up his example, makes no moral judgments as to the worth or utility of ruling class A and subject class B. But what if the A’s are the supporters of freedom and the rule of law while the B’s are men of force and faith? In that case, we are in heap of trouble.

Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon in modern history. Free institutions favor people with intelligence. Force, as Rand herself admits, is a “corollary” of faith; that is, men that are well fitted to violence tend to be drawn to faith. Hence, we find ourselves confronted with a dilemma. Governments that support the institutions of law favorable to free markets and “individual rights” tend to be governments dominated people who rely on their wits but are less adept at using force. Yet these very governments require force to protect the markets and the rights that they espouse. Where is this force to come from?

The only way out of this dilemma is for those who favor an open society with free markets to make a political alliance with those men of force and faith who come closest to sharing their values. Rand is wrong in assuming that all men of faith support dictatorship and tyranny. As is well known, early capitalism was dominated by devout Protestants, often of a strong Calvinist bent. One of the earliest defenders of free speech, John Milton, was a puritan. Cromwell’s puritanical protectorship, although hardly constituting an ideal of freedom and individual rights, nevertheless represented an improvement over what had preceded it, and helped pave the way for the Glorious Revolution in 1688. John Locke, the intellectual defender of this revolution, was a devout Christian. Christians played an essential role in the development of English Liberty and early capitalism.

The defenders of freedom therefore must form an alliance with those men of faith who are sympathetic to free markets and the open society. This is precisely what modern conservatism, in England and America, has attempted in the last half century. The modern conservative movement is an alliance between economic conservatives, nationalist “foreign policy” conservatives, and religious conservatives. As with any alliance, it is hardly perfect; but then perfection is the cynic’s standard. In the real world, as opposed to the fantasy world of ideologues, no battle can be won, no institution can be salvaged, no nation can remain free unless we are willing to ally ourselves with people we don’t entirely agree with. Through compromise one reaches a position that is better than would have prevailed otherwise.

As I have noted on a number of occasions on this blog, life involves tradeoffs. It is easy for us to imagine a world where no one believes in religion and most people are “rational” That is not the world we live in. We must take people as they are and try to make the best of it. Any other course is to lapse into utopianism and wishful thinking.

44 comments:

Damien said...

Greg,

Rand definitely had an unrealistic view of man and a sort of bigoted view of religious people in general. The idea that all religious people favor force falls apart when one examines religious groups like the Amish. They may not live the way an Objectivist would think they should live, but they don't use violence. In fact they are so non violent that they wouldn't hurt you if their lives depended on it.

The Faith of the Amish

Also the fact that the early pioneers of capitalism were all religious people doesn't make sense if you assume that people who believe in God look down upon freedom. In fact I remember hearing somewhere that one of the appeals of Calvinism was the fact that it didn't insist that you had to suffer on Earth to make it into heaven, as the Catholic Church did at the time. In fact I remember hearing that Calvin thought that wealth was a sign of God's favor.
In fact Calvin saw nothing wrong with charging people interest.

Calvinism

Plus didn't the leader of the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre, claim to have reason on his side, even after he turned tyrannically?
Didn't he claim all who opposed him were irrational while innocent people's heads were being lopped off for no good reason?

Why Robespierre Chose Terror

Not to mention during the French Revolution Roman Catholics were violently persecuted.

Dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution

In conclusion Objectivists have a lot of explaining to do.

Damien said...

Greg,

One thing I forgot to mention. Shouldn't this be Objectivism & Religion, Part 5?

You already did a part 4

JayCross said...

In the majority of cases people who rely on their wits are or become less fitted to use violence, and vice versa.

I'm an atheist and I sure as hell don't need religious people to hold my own. What's to stop others?

You might counter by restating that it's been this way throughout history, but what necessitates that? If the point of philosophy is identifying the best choices, it seems the best choice is for smart people to learn how to use force. Religion only occupies this position of force wielder by intellectual/physical default.

Red Grant said...

____________________________

..., it seems the best choice is for smart people to learn how to use force. - jay
____________________________




How many "intellectuals" do you know know how to wield and shoot small arms effectively, efficiently?


How many professional NCOs do you think are capable of(or willing to learn) abstract thought process?

It takes time, effort (both mental, physical), and practice to be skillful in the use of deadly force, and most intellectuals who I've known and observed in my life disdain spending time, effort in learning how to wield physical force effectively and efficiently because they think(as I see) it's beneath them, only proper for grunts, cops, and common criminals.

Damien said...

JayCross,

Smart people can learn to use force if necessary. There are some brilliant military commanders for example. I can think of one example of someone who was smart and knew how to use force. He was a man who lived in ancient China. Military philosopher Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" is still widely read in china and by modern business men.

Sun Tzu

But because of the fact that time is like money, people tend to specialize in certain things. Its highly unlikely that we will every see a civilization of Military/Scientist/Philosophers.
For one thing, where would its people get the time to do all those things. For one thing, they would have to drill day after day and at the same time study things like modern medicine.
People who really value brains over brawn, usually don't choose careers in the the police force or the military, because they feel the would be better off as scientists or philosopher. They don't have the time to become expert fighters, while macho military men usually don't have the time to be scientists or philosophers. Now can you see why some compromise is essential?

Also don't forget that some very smart people, are also religious. Sir, Isaac Newton was not only a brilliant scientist but he also held deeply religious views.

Isaac Newton

Damien said...

JayCross,

Red Grant, also makes an excellent point. You should carefully read over what both of us said.

JayCross said...

Thyucidides has an excellent quote relating to this:

"The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools."

That said..

How many professional NCOs do you think are capable of(or willing to learn) abstract thought process?

How many bastions of abstract thought are there in our society, even if they are willing?

Early American soldiers were hardly expert in the skilled use of deadly force. The highly armed and larger British troops were: and lost. Could it be that early American soldiers being highly motivated is what drove them to victory?

If so, maybe those with wit are insufficiently angry, not insufficiently skilled.

Damien said...

JayCross,

You said, "Early American soldiers were hardly expert in the skilled use of deadly force. The highly armed and larger British troops were: and lost. Could it be that early American soldiers being highly motivated is what drove them to victory?"

You forgot the fact that we were aided by the French. They had a much more professional and much more powerful military then we did at the time. In fact it is possible we would have lost the war for independence and still be part of the British Monarchy today if it wasn't for the French military. In other words in a parallel universe were the American Revolutionaries weren't able make an alliance with France, America as independent state, might not exist today.

JayCross said...

The French were also a Catholic nation, so it's doubtful their religion had much to do with them helping us. England and the colonies were both Protestant.

JayCross said...

The French helped us because A) they hated England and B) we swore to repay (and quickly did repay) all of our war debts to them. Could modern-day men of wits not form similar, secular alliances?

Damien said...

JayCross,

I never said the French helped us because of their religion. What's interesting is the fact that French king chose to help us because he wanted revenge on England, but didn't foresee the consequences of helping us. He didn't realize that it would help spark a revolution in his country. Second of all its not like the founding fathers were nothing but a bunch of Atheists, and Agnostics. Some of them had some very deeply held religious views.

Red Grant said...

____________________________

How many bastions of abstract thought are there in our society even if they are willing? - jay
____________________________





Are you implying that it is due to the lack of bastions of abstract thoughts that professional NCOs are not capable of (or willing to learn) abstract thought process?

Have you ever actually dealt with professional NCOs (such as a gunnery sergeant in the Marines)?

____________________________

Could it be that early American soldiers being highly motivated is what drove them to victory? - jay
____________________________





Do you even know what George Washington thought of the early American soldiers?

Do you know how many of these early motivated "soldiers" deserted their units when things didn't go well?

Nowdays, public (even including many of rank and file soldiers and their NCOs) have been brainwashed that the early American soldiers were highly motivated and due to this high motivation, U.S.A. won the war.

Nothing could be further from the truth, it was mainly due to French help, and professional training given to Continental (Regular) Army in close bayonet tactics that eventually made the victory possible.


____________________________

Early American soldiers were hardly expert in the skilled use of deadly force. - jay
____________________________



This needs qualification.

Many members of American soldiers from the woodland had long barreled "Pennsylvania" rifles, and had many years of experience in using it, both against the wild animals, and the Indians, and even against the French.

They also had extensive close hand to hand combat experience with the Indians.

In actuality, in small unit combat in uneven, wooded areas, or in battle with distances long enough to be out of the effective range of the British smooth bore muskets, the American soldiers were far more skilled in the use of deadly force.



____________________________

The highly armed[British]...
- Jay
____________________________





This needs qualification again, British smooth bore muskets had higher rates of fire(especially in the hands of Redcoats extensively trained to load, and trained to fire in efficient "platton firing system") in intermediate ranges, and also in close range bayonet charges(again, Redcoats were some of the best soldiers in the world in mass, coordinated, bayonet charges), but in long distance engagement, American soldiers had both superior weapons, and training.


____________________________

...and larger British troops
... - jay
____________________________



Do you really think British had won early victories due to the advantage in numbers?


____________________________

If so, maybe those with wit are insufficiently angry, not insufficiently skilled. - jay
____________________________



Now, jay, you win a banger on this one.

Do you really think if you're angry enough, you would be a match against trained boxer, or UFC fighter with the similar weight and height?

Do you really think if you're angry enough, and have yourself a gun, you would be a match against a Special Forces NCO with the same gun?



French eventually learned the hard way. They thought their "elan" (meaning courage, usually involving mass bayonet charge during WW1) would overcome German machine gun nests.

Their Marshall, finally quipped after the slaughter of the flowers of the French youth:

"Fire kills."



____________________________

Thyucidides has an excellent quote relating to this:

"The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools." - jay
____________________________



Indeed, fine words, so jay, do you know how to fight unarmed?

Do you know how to fight using pistols?

Do you know how to fight using shotguns?

Do you know how to fight using knives?

Do you know how to fight using bolt-action rifles?

Do you know how to fight using lever action rifles?

Do you know how to fight using semi-auto rifles?

Do you know how to use iron sights during a fire fight?

Do you know how use optics during a fire fight?

Do you know how to use sniper rifles for long distance fight?

How many Objectivists do you know know how to fight using the above implements?




____________________________

Some of them had some very deeply held religious views. - damien
____________________________




Which ones?

Damien said...

Red Grant,

This should answer your question as to which of the founding fathers had strong religious views its from Wikipidia.

"Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of the Founders. Some of the 1787 delegates had no affiliation. The others were Protestants except for three Roman Catholics: C. Carroll, D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons. Among the Protestants Constitutional Convention delegates, 28 were Episcopalian, 8 were Presbyterians, 7 were Congregationalists, 2 were Lutherans, 2 were Dutch Reformed, and 2 were Methodists. Many of the more prominent Founding Fathers were vocal about their opposition to organized religion or anti-clerical, such as Jefferson. Some of them often related their anti-organized church leanings in their speeches and correspondence, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson (who created the "Jefferson Bible"), Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine. However, a few of the more notable founders, such as Patrick Henry, were strong proponents of traditional religion. Several of the Founding Fathers considered themselves to be deists or held beliefs very similar to that of traditional Deists, including Franklin, Jefferson, Paine and Ethan Allen.[12]

Notwithstanding the spectrum of beliefs held by the Founding Fathers, most viewed religion in a favorable light. This is noted through their statements in speeches and correspondences in which they describe its role in molding "national morality" and securing the rule of law (George Washington), its check on human "wickedness" (Benjamin Franklin), and its preservation of a free government such as America (John Adams)."

Here's the link to the Wikipedia article the quote comes from.

Founding Fathers of the United States

There's also a book about the founding fathers and religion called Founding Faith. Here a link to the book being sold at amazon.com

Founding Faith

The author, Steven Waldman points out that both the religious right and modern secularists are wrong when it comes to the founding of America. Many of the founders were religious, yet none the less supported the separation of church and state.

Jay said...


Do you really think if you're angry enough, you would be a match against trained boxer, or UFC fighter with the similar weight and height?


No, of course not. However, if I understand it, Greg's thesis was that we need to ally ourselves with religious (and thus, forceful) people to protect against voilent threats. Are today's violent threats as highly trained as UFC fighters or prize-winning boxers?

No.

They are in many cases ordinary civilians who have been brainwashed to die for a higher cause. They walk into restaurants or onto buses with bombs and blow themselves up.

In response to the other questions: I have been trained with pistols and rifles, and I believe I could fight with a knife if my life were at risk. However, the point is not whether I can, at present, wield those skills to any effect. It is whether most of the people who can are religious, whether their religiosity is what led them to acquire and hone those skills, and whether non-religious people could not acquire and hone those skills.

There is also the matter of whether, in a free society such as ours, those skills are necessary every single day at a moment's notice.

I will concede that most lawyers and stockbrokers are not trained marksmen. But could they, if they were motivated to protect their lives under a dire threat?

Why not?

JayCross said...

I think Greg is misinterpreting Rand's linking of force and faith. She wasn't saying that faith is a prerequisite of force. Just that the blindly faithful are the most inclined towards using it. Nothing in her formulation precludes a person of wits from becoming adept at using force.

gregnyquist said...

Jay: "You might counter by restating that it's been this way throughout history, but what necessitates that? If the point of philosophy is identifying the best choices, it seems the best choice is for smart people to learn how to use force."

It's not necessarily the best choice for intelligent people to become better at force. In the first place, intelligence is needed just as much as force for the maintainence of a strong, free society. Now intelligence is a scarce resource. There's not much of it go around, and what exists needs to be cultivated to the fullest. An intelligent person would be wasting his ability trying to train to be a soldier. Intelligence needs to be directed into science, entrepreneurship, and scholarship. There is also the issue of human nature. Part of my claim is based on the idea that particularly gifts are distributed unequally among human beings; and that the gifts associated with intelligence are rarely combined in equal measure with the gifts associated with using force. The unequal combination of talents causes a bias in favor of the stronger talent, because people like to develop those abilities that come easiest to them. Furthermore, the development of the talent for violence involves discipline and subordination. Now subordination for an intelligent individual is rarely for the best, because it means obeying someone less intelligent. It also means, in effect, putting a brake on one's own mind—not a good thing for a very intelligent person.

gregnyquist said...

Jay: "I think Greg is misinterpreting Rand's linking of force and faith. She wasn't saying that faith is a prerequisite of force."

I don't think I said that Rand was saying that faith is necessary for force; merely that she linked the two. I think she was right to link them and to say they go together, but not altogether right as to why they're linked. She's sufficiently realistic about it. Her blank slate view of human nature and her rather unproblematic, "unconstrained," non-tragic view of the human condition kept her from seeing important realities.

JayCross said...

So in other words, you'd regard Ragnar Danneskjold as an unlikely person to encounter in real life?

gregnyquist said...

Red Grant: "How many "intellectuals" do you know know how to wield and shoot small arms effectively, efficiently?"

The issue, of course, goes a lot farther than being able to handle arms effectively. Being a soldier means being involved in a way of life that does not fit well with being a scientist or an entrepreneur or an artist. At the beginning of the movie Patton, George C. Scott walks up in front of the camera and gives a little diatribe against individualism. Now he's totally wrong if you're talking about artists or entrepreneurship, but in the context of figthing, he is exactly right. And here religion fits in hand and glove, as religion is good at strengthening group-related sentiments. The best soldiers in the world are the U.S. Marines; and among such soldiers, you'll often find strong religious belief. As one journalist reported from Iraq: "Combat soldiers and Marines prayed openly and unashamedly, as did their officers. Not all of them mind you, but a noticeable number. "

gregnyquist said...

Jay,

I would consider all the heroes of Atlas and grossly unlikely. However, there are a few individuals (not many) who achieve the Machievellian ideal of combining the lion and the fox. Frederick the Great of Prussia (the so-called "philosopher king") and Napoleon come to mind, two great military commanders and rulers. But there's not enough such people to make an army. Nor are such people all that common in history. Usually an individual is better at one or the other.

Damien said...

Greg,

I am disappointed that you didn't respond to my first comment. I was hoping you would tell me your thoughts on what I said.

Red Grant said...

____________________________

Early American soldiers were hardly expert in the skilled use of deadly force.

The highly armed and larger British troops were:
and lost.

Could it be that early American soldiers being highly motivated is what drove them to victory?

If so, maybe those with wit are insufficiently angry, not insufficiently skilled. - jay

Do you think if you're angry enough you would be a match against a trained boxer or a UFC fighter with the similar weight and height? - Red Grant

No, of course not. - jay
____________________________




Then why had you implied earlier that if those with wit(meaning "intellectuals") were sufficiently angry, then they could overcome opponents more skilled, and better armed?




____________________________

Are today's violent threats as highly trained as UFC fighters or prize-winning boxers? - jay
____________________________






Are we talking about just today's threats?

I thought we're talking about threats in general over time, not just today's threats.



____________________________

I have been trained with pistols.... - jay
____________________________





Well, jay, let's find out how good your trainer was.

DA revolvers:

For precise long distance shooting in DA mode(not SA mode), what part of your index finger(provided your index finger is long enough) should touch the the front of the trigger?

and why?

For fast shooting in DA mode, at relatively close range, what part of your index finger(provided your index finger is long enough) should touch the front of the trigger?

and why?

Pistols in general:

When you're "slicing the pie" from your weak side, there are two best methods whether you're cross-dominant or not(according to the latest pistol tactics) you can use.

What are they?




____________________________

...and rifles,... - jay
____________________________




How do you use bull-pup style rifles (other than FS2000), when firing from non-dominant side?

If using optics on modern military style rifle in ECQB, where is the POI?


____________________________

...and I believe I could fight with a knife... - jay
____________________________




Okay, what should be the primary target provided you are not armored,but have a room to manuever(and you assume the enemy were not armored, either)?



____________________________

Could it be that early American soldiers being highly motivated is what drove them to victory?

If so, then those with wit are insufficiently angry, not insufficiently skilled. - jay

However, the point is not whether I can,at present, wield those skills to any effect.

It is whether most of the people who can are religious, whether their religiosity is what led them to acquire and hone those skills, and whether non-religious people could not acquire and hone those skills. - jay
____________________________




Weren't you talking about the importance of anger for those with wit(meaning "intellectuals") being more important than skills?



____________________________

There is also the matter of whether, in a free society such as ours, those skills are necessary everyday at a moment's notice? - jay
____________________________




Okay, so why do we have a professional standing military ready and able to use those skills at a moment's notice everyday?




____________________________

I will concede that most lawyers and stockbrokers are not trained marksmen.

But could they, if they were motivated to protect their lives under a dire threat?

Why not? - jay
____________________________






Sorry, jay, not at a moment's notice.




____________________________

Being a soldier means being involved in a way of life that does not fit well with being a scientist or an entrepreneur or an artist. - Greg
____________________________




Let me qualify that. Your description mostly fits when it comes to rank-and-file soldiers, and NCOs, and perhaps to Junior Officers to a lesser extent, especially in a combat-oriented units or those in the area of mostly implementing standard military battle doctrines, especially pre-existing kind.

However, for those in the areas of either developing new doctrine or refining exi
sting doctrine, (usually starting with mid-level staff officers, the future marshals, admirals and generals), that stereotype most definitely doesn't fit, especially if the particular military is going to be a victorious one.

If you study the history of warfare, you would realize an army that is innovative in creating new battle tactics, being able to develop coordinated,well-synchornized grand strategy (all taking a great of intelligence, creativity, resourcefullness, just like great scientists, artist, or businessmen) will have optimized its chance of military success.

Just study the battle of Trafalgar, how Nelson used a great of intelligence and creativity to destroy the French-Spainish Naval fleet,

or how duke of Malborough refined the "platton firing system" to render French army ineffective even under Napoleon.

It's a lot more than the act of simple faith, or unthinking brute.

Are you going to imply British defeated French because they were more "religious"?



____________________________

He[Patton as played by George Scott]'s totally wrong if you're talking about artists or entrepreneurship, but in the context of fighting, he is exactly right. - Greg
____________________________




Only for those in the area of implementing existing doctrine.

Germans fought overall well, probably better than virtually all military units in tactical matters,(because there was little direct meddling from Hitler), but in grand strategy and to a lesser extent in operational warfare, that's where they lost the war, because German generals as a group were notorious heel-clickers, or "yes-man", another word, exact opposite of individualism.



____________________________

And here religion fits in hand and glove, as religion is good at strengthening group related sentiments. - Greg
____________________________





So following your logic, "Islamic radicals" would make the best soldiers?




____________________________

...,and among such soldiers, you'll often find strong "religious" belief. - Greg
____________________________






Which "religious" belief?





____________________________

As one journalist reported from Iraq: "Combat soldiers and Marines prayed oftenly and unashamedly, as did their officers. - Greg
____________________________




So are you implying, it's their "religious devotion" that makes them best soldiers?

or

Is it their training and weapons?

Are you implying then marines and combat soldiers who are not "religious" don't make good soldiers?

Red Grant said...

Damien:


So you don't mean, religion per se,

you meant the use of religion for political end?

If so, then those foundin fathers were not religious, they just pretend to be religious.

After all, aren't Christian forbidden to use physical violence for political ends?

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...

Red Grant,

I said some of the founders had deeply held religious beliefs. The fact they see nothing wrong with defending their Liberty, doesn't make them any less religious.
That said, I never said they were always logically consistence. People can believe logically inconsistence things, especially when it comes to religion. But for some of them their religion helped motivate them.

gregnyquist said...

Damien,

I haven't commented on your post because I haven't had time. The Amish are of course interesting in that they show that force doesn't always follow from faith. There is such a thing as faith in pacifism and non-aggression. But pacifistic Christianity is the exception rather than the rule. Over a long period of time, a kind of societal selection takes place favoring those groups that adopt modes of conducting themselves that work (or at work as well or better than their rivals). Pacifism doesn't work in the long term, which is why the major Christian traditions don't give a pacifistic interpretation to scripture.

As for Calvin, I've always tended, contra Weber, to see Calvinist doctrine more as a symptom of early capitalism than as a cause, although obviously there is some important causal reinforcement of sentiments already there. In early capitalism, you need worldly asceticism, i.e., people who are fanatical savers and who will reinvent their savings in trade. Such people will be attracted to Calvinism; their attraction to Calvinism will in turn influence Calvinist doctrine, while Calvinist doctrine intensifies the saving and wealth making drives.

Not only Robespierre, but all kinds of intellectuals, secular and religious, have claimed to be advocates of reason. That is why one should be skeptical of all claims made on the basis of reason. Intellectuals are often afflicted with an emotional desire to put a varnish of logic upon their beliefs. It is only rationalization and has no scientific value. That's why whenever I am confronted with a controversial claim, "reason" and argumentation is not enough, I want evidence as well.

Scientist said...

Red Grant, I have a question based on your replies. You point out the difference between rank-and-file soldiers and upper-level officers, and that the latter share many similarities to artists and scientists. You also point out that higher-level officers in successful armies are more individualistic. My question is, do you think an army composed of only such people (who think and act as individuals and who are the opposite of "yes-men") would do better or worse than an army led by such men but composed mostly of rank-and-file soldiers? Would it even be possible to make such an army?

Which is more important? Inspired leadership from above or obedience from below? Are both equally important?

I'm not trying to start anything here! I'm genuinely curious about your reply because I'm not knowledgeable in this area at all and you seem to be.

Red Grant said...

____________________________

I said some of the founders had deeply held religious beliefs.

The fact that they see nothing wrong with defending Liberty, doesn't make them any less religious. - Damien
____________________________




Sorry, but it does. Those who accept Jesus as Messiah do so for the purpose of eternal salvation of their souls, not whether they live in Liberty in worldly sense.

As Christians, why should they have cared about taxation without representation?

What does it have to do with the eternal salvation of their souls?


Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world. - John 18:36

What's the meaning of this?



____________________________

People can believe logically inconsistent things, especially when it comes to religion. - Damien
____________________________





Indeed, so if someone were to go around doing things against what Jesus preached in NT, would he be a Christian just because he claims(or believs himself) to be?


____________________________

But for some of them their religion helped motivate them. - Damien
____________________________



For phyical battle for worldly purpose?

Is that why they've accepted Jesus as Messiah for?

Isn't this what Jesus preached against?



____________________________

Pacifism [for worldly sense] doesn't work in the long run, which is why the major Christian traditions don't give a pacifistic interpretation to scripture. - Greg
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No, the pacifism doesn't work in the worldly sense, but are Christians supposed to worry about success in the worldly sense or the eternal salvation of their souls?

My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." - John 18:36


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My question is, do you think an army composed of only such people (who think and act as individuals and who are the opposite of "yes-men") would do better or worse than an army led by such men but composed mostly of rank-file soldiers? - meggie the scientist
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Based on my experience and knowledge, an army led by individualists, but mostly consisting of typical rank-and-file soldiers would have an advantage over the army entirely composed of individualists.

This also explains the reason why most armies don't let rank and file soldiers and professional NCOs who remain in that position over a certain length of time become officers.

For the same reason, those junior officers who have stayed too long on that positions, especially in the area where they're not allowed to practice creative individual initiatives outside existing doctrines are not generally allowed to become genrals, admirals, or marshals.



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Which is more important? Inspired leaership from above or obedience from below? - meggie the scientist
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Based on my experience and knowledge,

Inspired leadership from above is more important than obedience from below?

So long as the army has an inspired leadership, given enough time, the obedience will follow, but a poor leadership will pretty much waste the best disciplined, and trained troops. ("Religious devotion" in that case won't be much of help.)

One excellent example was Battle of Khalkin Ghol between Imperial Japanese Army and the Red Army.

As far as I know, IJA soldiers were far better motivated, and at least as good trained as the Red Army if not better(even Zukov admitted as much), but they had inferior weapons, smaller number, poor logistics, and rigid, unimaginative generals.


The Red Army had superior weapons, logistic, but most important of all, they had Zukov!

Scientist said...

Thanks for your comments, Red. And I'm not actually Meggie, we just happened to somewhat agree in one post!

Damien said...

Red Grant,

You said,
"Sorry, but it does. Those who accept Jesus as Messiah do so for the purpose of eternal salvation of their souls, not whether they live in Liberty in worldly sense.
As Christians, why should they have cared about taxation without representation?
What does it have to do with the eternal salvation of their souls?"

Do you really believe that your average fundamentalist Christian, or conservative Roman Catholic only cares about the salvation of his soul? Do you think there was a time when that was the case? It never was. They always wanted it both ways. In fact the improving economy of the middle ages was one of the factor that led to the decline of the catholic church and the rise of protestantism. At the time catholic doctrine said, that people needed to suffer on earth to gain salvation. People wanted it both ways, they wanted salvation, and they didn't want to have to suffer on earth to get it.
The idea that one must suffer on earth to gain salvation is only appealing if you see no way out of your suffering on Earth.
Those founders fathers who were religious could have easily saw no contradiction between salvation and fighting for liberty. They were certain God was on there side. The same was true for both sides in the American civil war. In fact, people with deeply held religious beliefs still fight wars today. A person can be a freedom fighter and a Christian fundamentalist at the same time.

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...

Red Grant,

Also keep in mind that the declaration of independence clearly states, in these exact words that "we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights." That is a rather religious statement, don't you think? Keep in mind, the founders, even the rather irreligious ones, saw no problem with it at the time they signed it.

gregnyquist said...

Damien: "Also keep in mind that the declaration of independence clearly states, in these exact words that 'we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.' That is a rather religious statement, don't you think?"

Actually, I don't think it necessarily is a religious statement, in the sense that there isn't any theological implications that can be drawn from it. The authors of the declaration, Thomas Jefferson (who wrote it) and John Adams and Ben Franklin (who advised on the writing) were all skeptics about theology and religious doctrine (that is, they were all deists). The Declaration was written to try to justify the American Revolution to the rest of the civilized world. The statement was choosen (I believe Franklin choose the words "endowed by the Creator") because these men knew that most men either believed in God or had respect for such belief. If most of the world were secularists or Objecitvists, they would have written "endowed by Nature" or some such phraseology. In other words, Adams and Franklin (though less so Jefferson) were taking men as they are. And that's the whole theme of my posts on religion and Objectivism: I believe in taking men as they are, not as Rand or anyone else may wish them to be. Anti-religion, whether it derives from the French Revolution, from Marx, from Rand, from secular Humanism, from neo-Darwinism, etc. is all guilty of failing to accept men as they are. Men can be different from what they have been historically because it's "Civilization" that makes them bad (Rousseau), or its "Capitalism" (Marx), or its religion (secular Humanism), or its Kant and Modern Philosophy (Rand). Men can be different from what they've been historically either because they're innately good (good in the state of nature) or they would be good if they were enlightened or freed from capitalist exploitation or because they have "free will" and will choose to be rational and enlighted as soon as they are convinced that the mind is "valid." Such are the rationalizations contrived to evade accepting men as they are.

How much wiser were the Founding Fathers (Jefferson excepted) who had no illusions about human nature. At the ARI website, there are some quotations from John Adams demonstrating Adams' disdain for Christianity. These quotes are supposed to prove that America was not founded on religion because the Founding Fathers did not like religion. But whether Adams liked Christianity or not, he nevertheless shared the same view of religion that I have advocated on these posts. In fact, he goes a bit further than I would go. Consider the following quote: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

Kelly said...

Greg,

I really enjoyed your book, and this blog. It’s refreshing to read your comments about how people actually are as opposed to how many would like to see people. One question I’d like to ask you, and I’m not sure it belongs in this post, is do you think people as a whole are not going to be able to improve themselves or do they improve in small increments based on integration of beneficial ideas into tradition?

Kelly

Neil Parille said...

As Greg noted, the founders didn't share Rand's cheery view of human nature. They would have been appaled I imagine at her attack on altruism.

Incidentally, it is true that many of the first tier of the founders (Jefferson, Madison and maybe Washington for example) did not have traditional religious beliefs and may have veered toward deism, but many of the lesser known were quite religious, such as Charles Carol, Benjamin Rush, John Witherspoon and Roger Sherman.

BTW, I don't think any of the founders were atheists, so I imagine Peikoff would say that they all held "inherently dishonest" ideas.

Red Grant said...

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Do you really believe that your average fundamentalist Christian, or conservative Roman Catholic only cares about the salvation of his soul? - Damien
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You mean the people who think or claim that they are fundamentalist Christians or conservative Roman Catholics?

Damien, just because someone thinks he/she believes in "reason"(for example, your average Objectivists), then does this mean necessarily that he/she does?



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Do you think there was a time when that was the case? - Damien
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Is that why early Christians meekly submitted to bein thrown to the lions at the collosieum instead of fighting back?




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It never was.

They always wanted it both ways. - Damien
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How do you know that? Do you even know the history of persecution of early Christians at the hands of Romans and others?




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In fact the improving economy of the middle ages was one of the factors that led to the decline of the catholic church and the rise of protestantism. - Damien
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What does it have to do with eternal salvation of one's soul?

Why did early Christians accept (as opposed to merely claiming to accept) Jesus as Messiah and willing to lose their property, their rank, social status, even their family and willing to be thrown to the lions without fighting back?



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At the time, catholic doctirine said, that one needed to suffer on earth to gain salvation,... - Damien
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If so, then the catholic church was not Christians.

One doesn't have to suffer on earth necessarily to earn salvation.

All one needs is the faith in Jesus,(as opposed to mere proclaimation of faith, and this is where you and Greg get confused).


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Those founding fathers were religious could have easily saw no contradiction between salvation and fighting for liberty.

A person can be a freedom fighter and a Christian fundamentalist at the same time. - Damien
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Did Jesus allow killing for worldly political purpose?




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They were certain God was on their side.

The same was true for both sides in the American civil war. - Damien
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Does this mean then just because one thinks God is on his/her side, that doesn't necessarily mean he/she is going to win in worldly political war?

In that case, being "religious" has nothing to do winning the war?


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I believe in taking men as they are,

not as Rand or anyone else wish them to be. - Greg
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Does this apply to "Radical Islam" and "Christian fundamentalists" as well?




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Our Constitution was made for only religious and moral people. - John Adams as quoted by Greg
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Is that why they accepted Slavery?

Is that why they believed in robbing and murdering the Natives?

Is that what people who accept Jesus as Messiah for the eternal salvation of their sould do?

Red Grant said...

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...and this is where you and Greg get confused. - Red Grant
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I meant it in reference to accepting those who claim to be Christians but without following the teachings of Jesus.

Damien said...

Red Grant,

The founding fathers were human beings, they were not perfect. They were men of their times, just like everyone else has been and will be in the future. Besides many of them agonized over slavery. John Addams opposed slavery and on principal never owned a slave.

Now for my second point,
You can be religious and still live a very worldly life. Being religious simple means you believe in a god and have strong spiritual views. You can be a religious person and not necessarily take every thing your scripture says literally. You could even be a religious person, if you created your own religion and strongly believed in it. If this doesn't prove my point, I don't know what will.

Red Grant said...

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The founding fathers were human beings, they were not perfect. They were men of their times, just like everyone else has been and will be in the future. - Damien
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I agree, that they were, and they were not Christians.

Mere public prclaimation of reason as a virtue doesn't necessarily make one a pratictioner of reason.

One needs to practice it.

After all, isn't that why Greg and others are posting, to expose the logical inconsistency and philosophical fraud of some of Ayn Rand's teachings?

Just the same, a mere proclaimation of faith (whether it be Christian, Islam) as a virtue doesn't necessarily make one a practitioner of that faith.

One needs to practice it.

If one claims to be a Christian, but acts willfully against the teachings of Jesus, then he most definitely is not a Christian so long as he doesn't repent of his sins, and born again...for real, not just in words, or public proclaimations.



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John Addams opposed slavery and on principal never owned a slave. - Damien

Our constitution was made for only religious and moral people. - John Addams as quoted by Greg
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So why did John Addams oppose Slavery?





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You can be a religious person and not necessarily take every thing your scripture says literally. - Damien
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Does this mean then you believe it's okay for a Christian to kill his enemy for worldly political purpose without contradicting the teachings of Jesus(both literal and spiritual)?

Damien said...

Red Grant,

I said,
"You can be a religious person and not necessarily take every thing your scripture says literally."

you siad,
"Does this mean then you believe it's okay for a Christian to kill his enemy for worldly political purpose without contradicting the teachings of Jesus(both literal and spiritual)?"

I am not making a value judgment here of any kind, I am just stating a fact.

Red Grant said...

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I am not making a value judgment here of any kind, I am just stating a fact.

You can be a religious person and not necessarily take everything your scriptue says literally. - Damien
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Does this mean then you believe that a person can be a Christian without following the teachings of Jesus?

Damien said...

Red Grant,

You said,
"Does this mean then you believe that a person can be a Christian without following the teachings of Jesus?"

You can be, but you won't be very logically consistent. A Christian is someone who believes Jesus was the son of God and died for our sins. They also believe that he is mankind's savior. Plus keep in mind, in some instance, Jesus' teachings are rather vague.

Red Grant said...

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You can be[ a Christian without following the teachings of Jesus],... - Damien
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Sorry, Damien, one cannot be a Christian without following the teachings of Jesus.



If one has the faith, he/she will do the work.




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Plus keep in mind, in some instance, Jesus' teachings are rather vague. - Damien
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Which instances?