Every Group Is a 'Cult'

Column by Dylan Delikta.

Exclusive to STR

 

…or at least that’s what I’ve encountered.
 
It seems that there is a lot of intellectual dishonesty within the confines of the Internet. There are many bloggers, journalists, and commentators who, instead of pointing out what they find as flaws to certain ideas, claim that there is a cult raised around one person or idea and that the people following it are treating him or her as the end-all be-all reference to every word that may be spoken out of their individual mouths. When that happens, it stops any means of debate that could be had about the certain subject, because a majority of people end up seeing that person or idea in a negative light and will not open their minds, and the people in the minority become ostracized. By throwing the word “cult” around, the movement of ideas comes to a halt and everybody loses out.
 
First off, the word cult has eight definitions according to dictionary.com, and they are listed as such:
  1. A particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
  2. An instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: e.g., the physical fitness cult.
  3. The object of such devotion.
  4. A group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
  5. Sociology. A group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
  6. A religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
  7. The members of such a religion or sect.
  8. Any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.
Definitions 2, 4, and 8 are what these people attacking the ideas of others and their admiration for such as “cultish” since they refer to the veneration or perceived correctness of a person or idea other people cling to. However, I find these definitions over-reaching and arbitrary. Definitions 2 and 4 seem to be how people form little groups or clubs in the first place. It’s just like telling kids who intensely enjoy and admire a certain band that they are a “certain band cult.” Sure, there are groups who seem really “cultish,” i.e. the Juggalos, the KISS Army, etc., but all in all, they’re just a bunch of fans who really enjoy those bands. Sure, not all of us are willing to show such devotion to a band, let alone paint our faces, but we all have something that we truly like that others may truly like as well. It makes no sense then to label such clubs or groups as “cults.”
 
Definition 8 seems to be what most of the bloggers and journalists are trying to throw out at those who have a contrary idea to their own (of course, definition 6 can correspond with this, too). It also creates disillusionment with scholarly pursuits, since instead of exchanging ideas, we have to go on the defensive. Take for instance, this example: a minority of people disagree with a majority of people as to how lollipops should be distributed. John, a member of the minority faction, is the most vocal, bringing the ideas out in a brilliant manner, stating that people should have the right to freely trade lollipops instead of only allowing them to be given for free after a visit to the dentist. The people in the minority love this guy, and therefore he becomes the outspoken defender of this issue. The majority sees this as an outrage, and instead of providing economic or philosophic critiques which people might support or refute, they say that the minority only worships this man, and because he doesn’t follow the “mainstream” and his ideas on lollipops cannot be found in any of their journals on the history of lollipops, then that group must obviously be a lollipop cult bent on causing everyone to get tooth decay. In this way, instead of creating a forum for people exchanging ideas and knowledge, it creates hysteria, causing people to argue about how “we are or are not a cult,” which is really just a losing argument. No one seems to want to get to the center of the Tootsie-Roll Pop.
 
Now, where has this frequently been seen? For starters, some who support the establishment already call out Libertarianism as some kind of cult; seeing as it rests on philosophy, science, etc., which makes it seem difficult for the “average” person to follow. Because most people are not taught critical thinking skills in public schools, but instead are prone to obedience and pragmatism, a disconnect is created, and so it is easy to label a group of serious thinkers a cult. However, there are factions of libertarians who go out of their way to label other factions of libertarians as cults. Some groups (though for some of them, it’s just certain individuals in the groups) say that there is a cult at the LvMI and their staunch support of Rothbard, or that those who watch and frequent FreeDomain Radio are part of a cult. Though I agree with most of what Tom Woods says about Rothbard in his speech offered to counter the libertarians who frequently ignore Rothbard, it stands to reason that they shouldn’t be considered a cult either. Whether or not one believes a certain person, a group of people, or a set of ideas are right or wrong, calling each other “cults” curtails any sort of new knowledge to be gained, for it creates conflict rather than promoting intellectual discussion.*
 
If we are truly people who promote the idea of liberty and knowledge, then we shouldn’t go out of our way to call others who disagree with us part of a cult. Sure, there are those who might not have any idea about a certain subject, and if that is the case then you might explain to them why you think they are wrong. Please note that I am in no way trying to say who is right and who is wrong in these squabbles. I do have my own take on these arguments I will assume responsibility for, but this article is not about that. As a voluntaryist who prides this movement of ours on the ability of our reasoning skills, I want to see a good majority of our discussions using that reason, rather than to show how well we can attack the character of others. As Jesus said in one of his more rational statements, “May he who is without sin cast the first stone.” If one cannot and will not use reason in his arguments, just walk away.
----------------
*I would like to point out that it is only certain individuals who partake in this, not blog sites or institutions as a whole. I will give the benefit of the doubt because they may have been doing it innocently, but even if that is the case, it still hurts the discussion rather than adding to it.

 

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Dylan Delikta's picture
Columns on STR: 4

19 year old, free market anarchist trying to write about Liberty as he grows. His hobbies include reading, eating, playing guitar, and camping.

Comments

Mark Davis's picture

So true Dylan. This trend of calling out people as being part of cult in lieu of critical thinking and analysis is just the most recent tactic used to group people together. Typically it is done by those who have a purely collectivist mind-set, which reveals an aversion to critical thinking. These same people, in my experience, often follow up their cult charge with the the "utopian" charge; as in "libertarians are a cult that believes in utopia". When confronted with such collectivist idiocy, it is usually best to just walk away because most of the time arguing with these people is a waste of time.

Dylan Delikta's picture

It really is. I have experienced it many times over Facebook and other forums I frequent, and it all ends up with both sides being frustrated at all the ad hominen arguments that had just been stated. It happens in the outside world, too, but not as much as inside the internet

Suverans2's picture

It is very reassuring to see a 19-year-old breaking free of collectivist brainwashing. If you haven't already read it, sink your teeth into The Law by Frédéric Bastiat.

Dylan Delikta's picture

I have read it a few times and own a copy of it :)

Eric Field's picture

Great article Dylan.

Jim Davies's picture

Nice job, Dylan! You reminded me of the first time I encountered libertarians; the phrase "cult of the omnipotent State" was then current, to describe how the population at large views government. It's still correct.

You put your finger right on the problem with "Because most people are not taught critical thinking skills in public schools, but instead are prone to obedience and pragmatism, a disconnect is created [with libertarianism, being rational.]" That's the key obstacle to be overcome.

Dylan Delikta's picture

Thank you, Jim! It was something that really bothered me when trying to talk to people about ideas. I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one thinking it!

AtlasAikido's picture

To those who are interested. Its hardly rational to try to FIX the State (see my posts). **And it is NO different trying to FIX people (i.e. their thinking)! (See The God article LOL).

**I use the don't vote MODEL. That is something I can do (A Direct Alternative). But to convince other people is futile. There are too many things that are unknowns. If a person has say read "Atlas Shrugged" and cannot figure out what embodies Galt's (Oath, Speech and) Gulch ARE YOU going to show them?

They may tell you and show you what YOU think are their contradictions, but then IS that all there is to deal with? Telling them their contradictions when you are not living in the eye of the storm (gulch) yourself or practicing the oath (not living for another man nor requiring another to live for you) has what implication? (Note: The NAP principle was derived from Rand's work).

Trying to talk to "people" who don't want to hear something would make one even less creditable and properly so. Even those who partially get it but come with a whole bunch or a "stuck piece" of baggage--which you will never see--are better off having to look for solutions. While I may provide a solution it is better to let reality take care of the rest...

I can only speak for myself. Do as you please. I do recommend: Harry Browne's How to be Free IN an UNFree World. Is there a problem with spending ones time with those who are already free and want you to be free? Those who are on the same page but a different level? If one is not attracting those who are already free I would have to wonder about what it is they are practicing...

http://www.ultimatefreedomquest.com/happiness-part-2/

http://www.ultimatefreedomquest.com/group-trap/

http://www.ultimatefreedomquest.com/freedom-in-an-unfree-world-happiness...

http://www.ultimatefreedomquest.com/the-philosophy-of-liberty/

Voting with one's feet. An example:
http://hack.org/mc/mirror/www.spunk.org/texts/reviews/sp001287.txt

Jim Davies's picture

Atlas, surely it cannot be true that "Its hardly rational to try to FIX... people (i.e. their thinking)" and "to convince other people is futile." How else did you and I get here?

I can't recall having met anyone who was born a market anarchist. Therefore, all of us reached our present understanding because someone "fixed" us or "convinced" us. Agreed?

If we can be fixed and convinced, so can anybody. It's just a matter of figuring out how. I suggest it would be a major error to read into Harry Browne's excellent book the presumption that an "unfree world" is a permanent, not a temporary, condition of mankind. That kind of thinking would lead directly to defeatism.

Deprogramming cultists (to use Dylan's analogy) is not a trivial job, I agree. But to imply that it's not possible would be to perpetuate the cult... to doom the human race.

Samarami's picture

I'll agree with Atlas' statement only to this extent:

    I am responsible for the message.

    I am not responsible for the outcome.

You, Jim, have done an excellent and ongoing job of submitting the message. But time and time alone is responsible for the outcome.

Atlas and many, many others here at STR are and have been marching alongside you in keeping the message going forward.

Sam

Suverans2's picture

Pretty much a second to “this”, my friend.

Suverans2's picture

Deleted

AtlasAikido's picture

First, my primary task is to be free. My primary task is NOT to convince others to be free. If that were the case then I would be unfree i.e. Jim's position.

Second, I think Harry says it best (one of many many examples regarding the way the market ACTUALLY works):

Chapter 8 The Despair Trap: [The belief that other people can prevent you from being free].

A MARKET FOR YOU
The General Market embraces personal relationships as well as commercial ones. All relationships are governed by market principles as individuals come together, exchange or share as appropriate, and work toward the advancement of their own happiness. The same principles apply to finding a friend that apply to finding a buyer for your product.

Within the General Market there's a whole world of potential relationships for you if you realize that you don't have to please everyone.

If you want a marriage partner who's compatible with your way of life, you don't have to prove to everyone that your way is right. You need to find only one person who meets your needs and who wants you as you are.

You don't need millions of friends; you need only enough to provide the companionship and shared interests you'd like to have. So it isn't important what the other people are like.

Let me illustrate this with a commercial example. General Motors is the acknowledged giant of the automobile industry; its success is often discussed. Its name has become a symbol of bigness and domination. Some people think it controls the market; others think it must be doing everything right and pleasing everyone.

How big and successful is it?

In a typical year General Motors will sell around four million new cars. With over 200 million individuals in the U.S., it sells new cars to about 2% of the population. Some individuals will buy new GMC cars, others will buy other brands, others will buy used cars, and most of them won't buy any cars at all.

Only 2%! Yet by tapping such a small percentage of the market, General Motors pays a dividend every year to its stockholders and high salaries to the men who run it. With such a small share of the market, its profits are enormous. It is a success.

But what if GMC's executives decided they should be able to sell cars to everyone? Suppose they increased their advertising budget and flooded the market with sales appeals designed to get everyone to buy a new car. Suppose they made impassioned sales appeals to widows on Social Security, desert prospectors, little children, and invalids.

Obviously, the company would be broke in no time. And probably one of the executives would go home and grumble over his martini, "The world is no damn good; people don't appreciate what we're trying to do for them."

It's just as foolish to feel that you must make everyone understand that you're right, that your desires are legitimate, that you should be able to do as you want. You don't have to. Just concentrate your attention (as General Motors does) on finding those people who are appropriate for you. You can ignore the others.

In Chapter 17 I'll suggest ways that you can find the people who represent your best market.

In the meantime, recognize that the market you're dealing with now is only a small part of the whole. Out there in the world are many different kinds of people. And among them are people you can work with, love with, associate with, make friends with. They are people to whom your ideas and ways and desires are the best possible.

In addition, there are people who don't want you to be free. They may not approve of your going your own way. They may want to censure you, attack you, tax you. But there are ways of handling them, too, as we'll see.

Don't focus on indirect alternatives and think that you get what you want only by changing those around you. There are numerous opportunities that require only your decision. There are plenty of compatible, attractive people who will gladly offer you what you want.

Don't be depressed by what others say about your freedom and happiness. They aren't the whole world, and they don't have all the answers.

There is a better world to find when you're free to look for it.

Jim Davies's picture

"First, my primary task is to be free. My primary task is NOT to convince others to be free. If that were the case then I would be unfree i.e. Jim's position."

Atlas, that's not my position at all, so if I've given the impression somewhere that it is, please allow me to correct it.

As I see it there are two levels or degrees of freedom. The first is the discovery or realization that nobody has the right to govern oneself except oneself. This brings an enormous sense of inner wellbeing as most of us know, and it comes whether or not one chooses to try to "convince others" and even while external circumstances remain as bleak and unfree as ever.

The second level is the enjoyment of that liberty _in practice_, and obviously it cannot take place until the monstrous apparatus of government has disappeared.

Thus for example the moment we come to know we have the absolute right to ingest any substance we wish into our own bodies, we become mentally free from any feeling of guilt in doing so, and from any obligation not to do so; it's uplifting. But the _exercise_ of that right, free of all risk of being placed in a cage by a bunch of thugs in costumes, must obviously await the day those people cease to be thugs.

Thus, at the present time, we are both free (as libertarians in the first sense) and unfree (in the second.)

That is not, I hope, too hard to understand, and seems rather self-evident. From it, something follows about what objectives we might set ourselves - assuming you, like me, would like to enjoy that full, second level, practical freedom; outward as well as inward. It says it would be a good idea to try to convince everyone else to endorse a zero-government society, so that one can actually come about.

I'm not sure that "good idea" amounts to an "obligation", but it does seem to me to come close. A free person has no obligations except to himself, but since our own interests are served by enjoying that full, practical liberty there is at least a powerful reason to try to "convince others to be free [also]." Naturally, nobody can hold us responsible for doing more than our best; Samarami is exactly right. We are responsible for the message, but not the outcome. Of course! Further, since we're not really "responsible" to anyone but ourselves, if due to our neglect the opportunity a free society were not to come about, we would be the prime losers.

There exists a way to accomplish the very large task of of convincing everyone else about the merits of a free society (perhaps more than one, but certainly at least one.) To the extent that this responsibility (each to himself) exists, it is not being fulfilled unless one makes use of such a method; and someone who _purposely_ fails to use it does, it seems to me, lay his understanding of liberty open to serious question.

I will not try to account for the actions of Harry Browne, but I will point out that some years after he wrote his fine book, from which you quote, he entered the arena to run for President and while doing so succeeded in educating a lot of people about the nature of freedom. I think now that he chose the wrong method; politics can never bring about a free society. But at least he did not sit idly by.

Lastly, Atlas, I asked "How else did you and I get here? [than by being convinced - or fixed in our thinking - by other people]" but I don't think you answered. Would you care to, now?

AtlasAikido's picture

Re: "The second level is the enjoyment of that liberty _in practice_, and obviously it cannot take place until the monstrous apparatus of government has disappeared".

Nope. But apparently so for Jim.

Re:"First, my primary task is to be free. My primary task is NOT to convince others to be free. If that were the case then I would be unfree i.e. Jim's position."

Yep [STILL], although Jim maintains this is not so and cannot take place.

Re: "Lastly, Atlas, I asked "How else did you and I get here? [than by being convinced - or fixed in our thinking - by other people]" but I don't think you answered. Would you care to, now?"

I control my own freedom not Jim's "Despair", "Utopia", "Group", "Burning Issue Trap[s]" etc. This has also been teased out by Dennis and Paul. Here and Here
strike-the-root.com/god-question?page=1
strike-the-root.com/getting-down-to-business-of-living

More specifically, I am living IN the eye of the storm (as best as I can), standing ON Rand's, Browne's, and Harold Hough's works. I would not presume to fix their thinking nor their students [nor Jim's], NOR NEED I, but I am progressing via incremental improvement and prototyping as a direct alternative and as a proof of concept of what I CAN Do to be FREE, without the need to convince others.

Re: "I think now that he [Harry] chose the wrong method; politics can never bring about a free society. But at least he did not sit idly by".

Given this logic the same thing could be said for Rand but this is an appeal to authority and misses what Rand has actually provided via "Atlas Shrugged" and indeed what Harry Browne and Harold Hough furthered: "How I found Freedom in An UNfree World" and "Freedom Road" respectively.

Even though her description of Galt's Gulch is a functional anarchy (no rulers), Rand abhorred what she thought of as "anarchy" and she explicitly embraced the idea of minimal government. HOWEVER, as George H Smith points out "...*Rand's principles, if consistently applied*, lead necessarily to a repudiation of government on moral grounds".
“IN DEFENSE OF RATIONAL ANARCHISM” heim.ifi.uio.no/~thomas/po/rational-anarchism.html

Jim, glossed over the issue of "A MARKET FOR YOU" [in Harry's words] as it relates to Direct Alternatives [the things you do control] and so forth and it shows.

THE DESPAIR TRAP is the belief that other people can prevent you from being free.
ultimatefreedomquest.com/harry-browne-burning-issues-trap/

THE BURNING-ISSUE TRAP is the belief that there are compelling social issues that require your participation.
ultimatefreedomquest.com/harry-browne-burning-issues-trap/

The Group Trap is the belief that you can accomplish more by sharing responsibilities, efforts, and rewards with others than you can by acting on your own.
ultimatefreedomquest.com/group-trap/

THE UTOPIA TRAP is the belief that you must create better conditions in society before you can be free.
ultimatefreedomquest.com/utopia-trap/

Jim Davies's picture

Atlas, I've read your response three times, but cannot see that we are engaging in reasoned discourse.

If you wish, why not send me a PM with your ead, and let's pursue this exchange off-line? Then if we get to understand each other, we could offer the results to the forum.

AtlasAikido's picture

The results are quite clear as they stand in an open forum. In summary I do not need Jim to do what I DO [Be Free and Shrug in an UNFree World]. But Jim needs others to do what he needs in order to be free.

I have no interest in fixing Jim's thinking. Rather than go offline, I need only refer Jim to his problems with these ideas of Rand/Browne/Branden [Dennis, Paul and myself] in the links I provided above etc etc and let him work them thru to resolution, if he so chooses. And indeed at some point live them (actually practice Live and Let Live in an UNFree World). Only he can do this. I cannot do this for him.

Atlas

Jim Davies's picture

So be it, Atlas; I was hoping to fix your thinking, but not any more; you have closed your mind, and thanks for making that clear. My time is valuable, I'll not waste it.

Browne's advice is unmatched, for living as happily as possible in an unfree world. My interest is in living - or at least enabling my children to live - in a free one. Bye bye.

AtlasAikido's picture

But for the children, for the children mantra....

Ah yes it is that and more: Its the old Messiah complex https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_Complex mixed in with a little "unmatched" Rand and Browne for cover, BUT certainly NOT the Shrugging part! (an anarchist direct alternative).

A fitting Jim Davies signature line: "Browne's advice is unmatched, for living as happily as possible in an unfree world. [Wait for the But:] My interest is in living - **or at least enabling my children to live** - in a free one [Jim will know when, you hope]. Bye bye".

AtlasAikido

Stephen Nichols's picture

Atlas wrote: "I have no interest in fixing Jim's thinking. Rather than go offline, I need only refer Jim to his problems with these ideas of Rand/Browne/Branden [Dennis, Paul and myself] in the links I provided above etc etc and let him work them thru to resolution, if he so chooses. And indeed at some point live them (actually practice Live and Let Live in an UNFree World). Only he can do this. I cannot do this for him."

Wait, what? If you're not trying to change Jim's thinking, then what are you doing? Your very statement here shows the complete opposite. I must be missing something.

AtlasAikido's picture

"Atlas's mind is closed" Jim Davies [a so-called noted Anarchist (of) Alternatives] said so! Etc etc and Stephen Nichols concurs! I believe their slips are showing. LOL

AtlasAikido

Stephen Nichols's picture

Altas, I'm sensing a trend here. Each time someone poses a difficult question to you, you avoid the question and make points unrelated to it. Perhaps I'm wrong.

I never wrote that your mind is closed. Nor that I agree with Jim. If I thought your mind was closed, I'd not waste my time writing reasoned responses either. I'd just troll you back. :)

From looking over the exchange between you two here, I can understand where he comes to that conclusion though. I'm willing to chalk it up to him having thin skin when folks troll him and give you the benefit of the doubt.

So, again, I asked a specific question that you have avoided. I've asked it in a couple of different ways. Why do you avoid it?

You wrote: "I have no interest in fixing Jim's thinking. Rather than go offline, I need only refer Jim to his problems with these ideas of Rand/Browne/Branden [Dennis, Paul and myself] in the links I provided above etc etc and let him work them thru to resolution, if he so chooses. And indeed at some point live them (actually practice Live and Let Live in an UNFree World). Only he can do this. I cannot do this for him."

To which I responded: "Wait, what? If you're not trying to change Jim's thinking, then what are you doing? Your very statement here shows the complete opposite. I must be missing something."

I'm very curious how you can admonish Jim on the one hand, but engage in precisely the same behavior. That seems to be a blatant form of hypocrisy. Please help me to understand that.

AtlasAikido's picture

Hopeless! Sounds like a Stephen Nichol's personal problem. Nothing to "avoid". I am not going to do his thinking for him. And I am not going to repeat what has already been shown over and over again http://strike-the-root.com/every-group-is-cult#comment-7077

Dear Reader, the ANSWERS to his conflations, context dropping, pattern building and inability to differentiate are just one or two posts prior to his first post! Stephen Nichol clearly cannot understand simple English AND/OR jumped in on the thread without reading it. The fact he missed that even after it was summed up for him says more about him than I ever could.

Might I suggest that he actually use that "curious" bump between his shoulders?

AtlasAikido

Stephen Nichols's picture

So, in essence, you can't answer the question. Good to know. I'll stop asking you that which you cannot answer.

I read all of the posts before chiming in. I've read them multiple times.

AtlasAikido's picture

Indeed a fool can ask more questions than a genius can answer.

Stephen Nichols's picture

If I've exhausted your explanatory capacity by asking one question then your so-called genius might be questionable. Surely a genius of your caliber can answer a simple question related to your obvious hypocrisy. Oh, wait, you can't. Genius test failed.

AtlasAikido's picture

Actually Stephen Nichols purpose would appear to be to sidetrack Jim Davies very clear gaffs with non-sequiters etc etc. And that works only so far.

Stephen Nichols's picture

I ask a simple question. You refuse to answer. That is not a non-sequitur. You're just smoke screening your unwillingness to honestly answer. I'm fine with that. Keep on smoke screening!

AtlasAikido's picture

Re: "I ask a simple question. You refuse to answer. That is not a non-sequitur. You're just smoke screening your unwillingness to honestly answer. I'm fine with that. Keep on smoke screening!"

Indeed Stephen Nichols personal problems in triplicate. Nothing to "avoid"....the link SN cannot refute because he cannot see it and he wants me to spoon feed him! http://strike-the-root.com/every-group-is-cult#comment-7077

Dear Reader there is two supporting links in the above link: I control my own freedom not Jim's "Despair", "Utopia", "Group", "Burning Issue Trap[s]" etc. This has also been teased out by Dennis and Paul. Here and Here
strike-the-root.com/god-question?page=1
strike-the-root.com/getting-down-to-business-of-living

For some reason the following comes to mind? But for the children, for the children mantra

Ah yes it is that and more: Its the old Messiah complex https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_Complex mixed in with a little "unmatched" Rand and Browne for cover, BUT certainly NOT the Shrugging part! (an anarchist direct alternative).

A fitting Jim Davies signature line: "Browne's advice is unmatched, for living as happily as possible in an unfree world. [Wait for the But:] My interest is in living - **or at least enabling my children to live** - in a free one [Jim will know when, you hope]. Bye bye".

AtlasAikido

Stephen Nichols's picture

More meaningless, circular double-talk that avoids the point. Nice work!

AtlasAikido's picture

Again the point IS what? Whether it is true or not true the evidence is clearly in: Jim's need to fix others IS a false alternative: strike-the-root.com/every-group-is-cult#comment-7040

Stephen Nichols's picture

I don't have much to add here. But!

I find it peculiar that Atlas' admonishing those who feel compelled to wake their neighbors seems to miss the point that he's doing the same thing. How is his admonishment different, exactly?

His statement seems rooted in the idea that we have no right to change others. And I agree. However, the missing component here is force. We're all just happily arguing, pontificating and writing in favor of freedom. Change or don't change, that's fine by me.

We don't have to be utterly free to engage folks in favor of our system of enslavement. What if Ayn Rand felt the same way? I wonder if Atlas Shrugged would ever have been written...

While we don't have the right to force someone to change their mind (or the ability, thankfully), we do have the responsibility to act in accordance with our passions. And I, for one, find my passions center on engaging those that hold "wrong" values.

AtlasAikido's picture

I lost count of Stephen Nichols's WE's! We this! We that! We-Ka-(pow)! We-Ka-(boom). Where's the *I* dearest budding anarchist [of] so-called alternatives?

The "WE" thing again. NO! WE do NOT have to change their mode of thought. "Billions of humans making trillions of decisions could never be harnessed or thoroughly theorized by even the most brilliant voluntaryist thinkers or free market economists." Chris Dates [ http://tinyurl.com/There-is-NO-WE

AtlasAikido

Stephen Nichols's picture

Lost count of the "we's" eh? You must be running low on fingers. :)

It's telling that you avoid the thrust of my reply and, instead, focus on a specific word: "we" If you can argue that there is no "we" then you can just as easily argue that there is no "I". As "we" is just a word that groups "I's" sharing some number of properties.

Case in point. Imagine you and your friends are going out to dinner. Once you get together, it seems perfectly valid to ask: "Where are WE going?" This is basic English. I'm surprised I need to explain this to you because you seem to grasp the use when you wrote: "we do not have to change their mode of thought." Both "we" and "their" referring to a group of abstract "I's" that share some number of properties.

The meat of your response seems to claim that my use of "we" implies that I believe in collectivism. If true, by what reasoning do you come to that conclusion? If I misunderstand, help me understand how.

I do agree that I don't have to change anyone's mode of thought. However, I am passionate about engaging those that are willing. As you seemingly are, Atlas.

Perhaps my original point was missed by you. In reviewing your responses to Jim, I see that you were admonishing him for his attempts to reach the statists among us. I fail to see how your admonishment of Jim is any different than Jim's attempts to reach, and influence, others (except, perhaps, in tone). Can you help me understand that?

AtlasAikido's picture

This is very clear: **WE do NOT *have to change* their mode of thought**. "Billions of humans making trillions of decisions could never be harnessed or thoroughly theorized by even the most brilliant voluntaryist thinkers or free market economists." Chris Dates

I ALSO cannot help Stephen Nichols understand what is PRIMARY and what is SECONDARY. And *I* cannot decide FOR HIM when someone has a Messiah Complex and very clearly IS using his SECONDARY goal as a PRIMARY. Read Jim's signature line. Groan...

*There is no FIXING of Jim Davies or Stephen Nichols thinking going on by me (IN ORDER for ME to be free)*!! That it IS not necessary for me to be free IS what SN cannot understand and/or has not bothered to read the thread (three shorts posts prior to SN's post)! http://strike-the-root.com/every-group-is-cult#comment-7077

I am living free on freedom road in an unfree world right now, not later, not in Jim's host of Traps Nor need I to actually live free. Come down from your ivory towers...

AtlasAikido

Stephen Nichols's picture

I understand your earlier point clearly. You say because Jim predicates his sense of freedom on others coming to his views that he's wrong. I got it. Unfortunately for your responses, that's not the point I was making nor is it related to the question I'm asking.

Furthermore, Jim cogently disagreed with you and asked for clarification that you failed to provide. When someone asks you to explain your statements, it's not their lack of thinking that's the issue. I know you like to go to that insult. What lacks is your explanation, which is why clarification is asked.

I'm just pointing out the hypocrisy of you trying to change Jim while you're pointing out that Jim is wrongly trying to change others. Your response? Calling me dumb. Good job. :)

AtlasAikido's picture

"If a person has say read "Atlas Shrugged" or Browne's HIFFIUFW and cannot figure out what embodies Galt's (Oath, Speech and) Gulch ARE YOU going to show them?"

Stephen Nichols cannot even show himself. How will he presume to show others? Really this is quite illuminating.

Stephen Nichols's picture

I'm not asking you to show me anything. I'm asking you to answer this question:

"How is Jim's drive to wake up statists any different from your drive to convince him he's wrong?"

It's a simple question. Yet it's seemingly beyond your capacity for reason. Either that, or you don't like the answer so you refuse to write it. :)

The answer is clear. There is no difference. Yet, were you to admit that, your sense of trolling superiority would be undermined. So, you avoid the question. Smart man.

AtlasAikido's picture

Thanks for clearing that up. Stephen Nichols admits to reading the thread and links and summaries I provided and still IS confused. So what? That is hardly my problem. LOL

I think SN is trying to cover up that all his reading, talking and teaching and Jim defenses boils down to a lack of DOING (amongst other things).

"We're all just happily arguing, pontificating and writing in favor of freedom... " ~ Stephen Nichols

Nope. There is more to it.

AtlasAikido

Stephen Nichols's picture

I'm not confused. Your links are not relevant to the question I asked you. Keep on smoke screening!

Good job taking a quote out of context to try and make a point. Is that your only support for me supposedly not DOING (among other things)? If so, that's a staggeringly weak case. I'd love to see you put together a reasoned argument for this conclusion. My prediction? You'll blow more meaningless wind and circular logic that lead nowhere.

Your intent is clear. You are a hypocrite. You are a troll. And you amuse me! :)

AtlasAikido's picture

The point IS that Stephen Nichols is an evidenced model of why Jim's "Deprogramming [of] cultists (to use Dylan's analogy) is not a trivial job [it is clearly a misguided Messiah Complex], I agree. But to imply that it's not possible would be to perpetuate the cult [Jim's and Stephen Nichols]... to doom the human race [YET again speaking for themselves IS all they can actually do]". ~ Jim Davies

Without followers and believers, who will DO for them what they CLEARLY cannot do for themselves or Jim's for the children mantra. JD and SN have abdicated the job of doing for themselves. It never comes up. They assume they are the authority on anarchist alternatives when they distort the very concept.

A fitting Jim Davies signature line: "Browne's advice is unmatched, for living as happily as possible in an unfree world. [Wait for the But:] My interest is in living - **or at least enabling my children to live** - in a free one [Jim will know when, Steve hopes]. Bye bye".

AtlasAikido

And that is the point: Its hardly rational to try to FIX the State. **And it is CERTAINLY NO different trying to FIX people (i.e. their thinking)! (See The God article LOL). http://strike-the-root.com/every-group-is-cult#comment-7040 as it relates to Jim Davies...

Nope again.

mhstahl's picture

What the Hell are you writing about?

AtlasAikido's picture

Poor mstahl "what the hell are you writing about?" Well lets start here kiddies....
http://strike-the-root.com/reason-not-to-vote#comment-7155

And finish up here: http://strike-the-root.com/every-group-is-cult#comment-7142

mhstahl's picture

Ah, ad hominem....the last bastion of the intellectually flaccid. 

Atlas, you have strayed far from the topic of voting or group dynamics and have instead launched a crusade of barely intelligible invective laced with gibberish and bombast. You respond to direct questions with accusations and long winded bloviations that are so poorly constructed that it is impossible to tell what the hell your point is. I, frankly, doubt you have one.

That was the "what the hell are you writing about" I was asking.

You've made multiple character assassinations-yet when challenged on your wild claims you're never able to provide a simple, clear answer. Why?

What is it you hope to accomplish? Do you get some personal joy out of making a fool of your cyber-self?

Stephen Nichols's picture

mhstahl:

Good question! Your question sums up many folk's thinking on Atlas' style of "argument." I've been trying to figure this out for a little while. Here are my conclusions:

Atlas is providing mountains of "evidence" as to why Jim's and my motive to influence statist thinking is wrong. He goes further by saying that we predicate our sense of being free on the outcome of this influencing. There is his first error. I don't feel more or less free based on what others think. I feel more or less free based on what others do. Based on Jim's comments, I get the same sense about him.

My first question to Atlas stands. And it's not related to the rightness or wrongness of influencing statists. It's related directly to the drive to influence anyone at all. I've asked in many ways: "How is Jim's drive to influence statists any different than Atlas' drive to influence Jim?" All I'm getting from Atlas on this is crickets.

The immediate answer that jumps to mind is that the drives are different because one is morally wrong and the other is morally right. Perhaps the reason Atlas keeps on spewing the same irrelevant information is because he believes that he holds the morally superior position. My first article on STR spoke directly to this issue: http://www.strike-the-root.com/content/delusions-grandeur

I believe that, first and foremost, Atlas is writing from a point of view of false moral superiority. It's from this place that he makes his assumptions and, because of that, he is unable to see what we're actually writing. This causes him to avoid speaking to the actual content of our messages and, instead, speak to the content that he imagines we wrote. This comes across most clearly when Atlas attacks a questioner's person instead of using logic and reason to make his points.

Secondarily, Atlas' incessant linking to external information is telling. Does he do it out of laziness? Does he do it because he lacks understanding? I find it fascinating that Atlas is seemingly unable and obviously unwilling to put these concepts he holds into his own words. He's like a parrot that "Polly's" out the same few links every time he's questioned. As though we are all idiots that didn't review his material already and found it lacking. Most likely, Atlas' response to this comment will be to attack my intelligence. :)

It's clear to any thinking person that the drive to influence statists and the drive to influence anarchists are the same. The reasoning used to explain the drive may be different, but the drive itself is the same. It stems directly from sensing something is not right with the world. We strive to "make right" the world based on our idealized conceptualization of it. This central right-making is what causes Atlas to strive to influence us... just as it's what causes me to strive to influence you. It's also the drive that creates the state.

So, in short-form summary, Atlas is a non-intellectual who believe's he's better than us and that chooses to write only to his own questions. And, while I don't question his freedom to do so, I do question the value of that kind of discourse.

AtlasAikido's picture

Perhaps AtlasAikido intended to leave something appropriate for YOU--Steven Nichols--to write about! Instead of writing about the alleged need to influence others *in order *to be* free*, Atlas has merely accommodated him, WHILST posting a direct option that apparently Nichol's can't see, let alone grasp. That is quite APPROPRIATE. Apparently mstahl had enough sense to retract his post (whilst serving as a guest editor on STR).

Live and let live!

AtlasAikido

mhstahl's picture

I don't believe I've deleted any posts in this thread recently-I have deleted a few responses to you elsewhere: because I don't like to feed trolls, not because I'm restrained from commentary-so I may be wrong.  I did ask you, above, "what the hell you are writing about"...I still don't know.

"Serving as guest editor" amounts literally to spending a few hours on Friday nights bouncing around the internet looking for articles that might interest STR readers-that's it. There is no authority attached at all, and the position is totally voluntary. I enjoy it, and since on occasion my postings generate vigorous discussion-I think I've been fairly successful. I never agreed to not engage in commentary-and I'm not the only guest who does. Frankly, I would do it more if I had the time. Feel free to complain to the site owner if you like-perhaps I am acting against his wishes.

I take issue with your commentary primarily because of its accusatory tone-you add several paragraphs of repetitive gobbledygook and off topic links to posts that essentially have no meaning other than name-calling and denigration. It is irritating. It is also exactly the sort of thing that discourages comments, particularly from those who might be learning about the various philosophies of liberty. By doing this you are actively detracting from the efforts of columnists and editors for no discernable purpose.

Stephen Nichols's picture

Atlas wrote: "Without followers and believers, who will DO for them what they CLEARLY cannot do for themselves or Jim's for the children mantra. JD and SN have abdicated the job of doing for themselves. It never comes up. They assume they are the authority on anarchist alternatives when they distort the very concept."

You claim that I've abdicated the job of doing for myself. You say that I assume I am the authority on anarchist alternatives while I distort the very concept. Again, I fail to see your reasoning -- because you have failed to provide it. Might you do us all the service of explaining how you come to these conclusions?

And, now the gem: "And that is the point: Its hardly rational to try to FIX the State. **And it is CERTAINLY NO different trying to FIX people (i.e. their thinking)! (See The God article LOL). http://strike-the-root.com/every-group-is-cult#comment-7040 as it relates to Jim Davies..."

There is the statement that sums up your hypocrisy. You say it is irrational to fix the state and, by extension, people's thinking. Yet that's EXACTLY what you're doing here. How can you put up with that level of cognitive dissonance?

Jim Davies's picture

[reposted as a reply]

Suverans2's picture

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.