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Asher Wolfstein [userpic]
Second Life Debate Rejected
by Asher Wolfstein (asherwolf)
at February 5th, 2008 (04:58 pm)

In accordance with the Objectivist Institute (of Second Life)'s role as a facility for education, and not for advocacy, I wish to make a statement involving the situation with the (Second Life) Communist party. I was approached by Kain Scalia (Cofounder of the Institute, along with me) to debate with them, when the debate was still under consideration. For the record I said I would under four conditions: more than just The Herald had to cover the debate, no voice and no typing out of turn, no warping names of respect such as "comrade", and only one person typing out the final debate on either side.

We then decided within twenty minutes of more consideration, undistracted by the unprofessional conduct of both The Herald's representative, and the Communist party, that we would rescind our conditional acceptance and not engage in the debate at all. Kain, Aeon, and I felt that such a debate would send the message that the Communists have any moral credibility, and that their argument held any contemplative substance.

From our point of view, running parallel to the point of view expressed by Rand in her address to West Point graduates, we believe it is important to study viewpoints, and opinions that our not our own in order to understand why we have chosen our individual values and opinions. One could say the debate might have been used for educational purposes in helping to illuminate why an individual would choose to adopt a philosophic point of view such as Objectivism, but the inherent nature of debates and of this debate in particular does not lend itself as the optimum platform for such. It is my strong conviction that the Objectivist Institute can act far more efficiently by holding it's own discussions, and private debates, on an individual level. This is the level where the virtue of independence in intellectualism can be best expressed and applied.

It is unfortunate that the newspaper titled The Herald is biased and patronizing. Journalist Urizenus Sklar, of The Herald's National Affairs Desk, published an interview with 'Soviet Premier' Supercool Sautereau on January 30th, 2008. In this interview, Urizenus begins with the quote, "Forward thinking Herald readers may have feared that Soviet Communism was decomposing somewhere in the dustbin of history. But take heart comrades! It is not dead, but advancing on new frontiers and has now claimed its metaversal bridgehead on the shores of the Jessie Simulator." but later he states that "Dude, life in the soviet block sucked shit." He also uses the terms, "...and other racist fucktards, ..." "today their weapons include not just AK-47s, but orbits and other high tech tools favored by 21st century patriots." This journalist is obviously unfocused, ill prepared, and, to put it bluntly, oozes personal bias.

Likewise, while the ever eloquent Urizenus calls out Supercool on the state of Soviet Russia as previously noted, he does not call forth explanations on Supercool's use of the term "common people", for if there are "common people", then there must be "uncommon individuals". I believe it is safe to assume these are not as well protected nor receive Communist advocates rushing to their aid? Urizenus does not question why Supercool believes that capitalism "sadly followed this world", in terms of why it is sad. Nor does he ask how the Communists liberate the landless, nor the poor, and instead only focuses on griefers. He also doesn't seem to bother asking them how they can afford land on the Jessie Simulator, where many new comers "come here, for whatever reason," even though Supercool states that "(l)and is of course a necessary evil but [sic] we work to share anything we have with one another." I can only assume that the best land must be used for the best party. However, it's not the Communist's fault that their land is expensive, it's the "land tier fees, which are outrageous."

When Supercool later rebuts, "But the Soviet Union has done far more good than bad, and the Soviet people are owed by the history of the world a great debt for their wartime sacrifices," there is no further inquiry by the journalist.

In response to Urizenus' inquiry about outreach programs, Supercool states that the Communists have "political Brigades -- communists whose goal is to spread the word of the message." Here is an example of their political brigades, official or not.

A different Herald journalist, this time Pixeleen Mistral, contacts the Objectivist Institute (of Second Life) with the following invitation, "Some of the Communists would be interested in a philosophical discussion with you guys - they have a nice hall in Jessie that would be perfect for it." This quickly morphs into, "If we could host a debate I think the SL Herald would be able to cover it." For the record, Pixeleen offered for The Herald to host the debate.

It is also Pixeleen who then replies, after the request for a debate was initially declined, "But if the Objectivists are afraid to debate the Communists I can understand it." She also states, "If the Objectivists cannot debate the Communists it will tell us all something." Again, after a second declination, she rebuts, "I'm disappointed that the Objectivists are scared to do that, but whatever." After Kain questions her commitment to journalism and to her ulterior motivations, Pixeleen replies, "I'm sad for you Kain." Lastly, Pixeleen then has the gall to state, "The 'tardstar' (in reference to Avastar, quotes added) is far from neutral."

Let me remind you that Pixeleen is not the Premiere of the Communist Party, she is the journalist from The Herald who wishes to host this 'debate'. Supercool tries to cover his tracks by stating, "And they're not on our side either comrade Kain." However, after this dialogue I must seriously question whether that is true, given that on top of all of these transparent words, the Communist property (ha!) is practically adjacent to The Herald's headquarters, if not simply on the same simulation.

As you can see we can expect nothing of this debate with the Communists. From my personal, individual, point of view I believe that it is safe to say that we can expect very little in terms of serious debating in Second Life about Objectivist principles, let alone any principles, until the standards of debate and communications are raised. If anyone should feel sad about this state of affairs it is The Herald and the Communists, the first for interviewing the Premier but only offering us a scandalous debate, and the second for patronizing newspapers like The Herald so that they can then go and act as their intellectual bully on their behalf.

I challenge anyone to debate me, when I'm online, and when I feel like it. I might possibly, individually, participate in an open debate about other topics than Communism nor Socialism, such as the axioms of objective existence, or the pursuit of value, but I'm not going to prostrate myself in front of throngs of small minds bent on twisting my words and building up the credibility of their ideas by riding the coattails of mine. I will not engage in such dangerous games, and I hope that the Institute will never engage in such games now, nor ever. Objectivism is a philosophy about living life, and our pursuit of life needs no justification, nor proof by comparison.

Comments

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: August 7th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
Second Life

I was going to read it all, but honestly, it seems like you took the SL "communists" too seriously. I don't play the "game", but I'd imagine anyone who really acts as an advocate of communism within the virtual world is either just being a griefer (which could be somewhat funny if videos are provided, but is still a waste of time and full of fail), or just someone who genuinely believes communism is beneficial to everyone (and actually plausible) - in either case, there's no point in debating with them. Also, not that I've read up on objectivism all that much, but it seems like it has some ethical flaws.

If one strives entirely for personal happiness, could that not create potential for... problems? On a large scale, an employee at a corporation could make an unethical choice that would be rewarding for him/her as well as the company they work for, but damaging to the environment or the lives of the community their operations are based in.

On a smaller scale: A man meets a woman. He discovers that she's married, has 2 kids, a nice house. She's actually quite happy with her marriage, but she sees something in him. He finds her incredibly attractive, and he wants to have sex with her. So he does it, the husband finds out, and the couple get a divorce. The woman is overcome with regret, and she doesn't speak to the guy again. The children have to deal with the separation of their parents, and the husband loses all faith in women and so never gets into another serious relationship. The man, on the other hand, continues to live his life happily. He did it entirely for personal happiness, and destroyed a family in the process. Even if the woman was going to cheat anyways, he's really no less guilty, because he was aware of the marriage. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems perfectly acceptable under the lens of objectivity.

I might be completely wrong about the philosophy, though, I've done very little reading on it. If you could clarify where I'm wrong - or wish to argue that one or both of the choices in the two cases were acceptable - I'd be happy if you'd send an e-mail. I'm entirely serious about this, because I don't know much about objectivism and I'd like to discuss it with someone who actually agrees with the philosophy. My address is:

me_yo999@hotmail.com

Posted by: Asher Wolfstein (asherwolf)
Posted at: August 11th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: Second Life

I prefer LiveJournal comments over e-mail personally.

In the end the SL communists were taken too seriously. I found out more information about their organization months later that led me to such a conclusion.

How would it be rewarding to any company or employee to "damage" (could you be a little more specific?) the environment it operates in towards an intolerable level, or the well being of the very public it relies upon for it's success? Before that question can be answered by you fully however, I need to understand the extent of the word "damaged". For example, some might consider the life of an individual to be "damaged" or "sacrificed" simply because one of the individual's interests or desires is thwarted such as obtaining a job, when in reality he can't lose something he didn't have to begin with. However, I *am* getting ahead of myself.

Your second situation presents more than one question. I notice you don't write "they" do it, instead you write "he does it", why is that? If she's quite happy with her marriage then what in the man could she see that she could not tell her husband? The reality is both the man and the woman tried to retain or acquire values based on a falsehood: the woman by lying through omission to her husband (I'm assuming), and the man for ignoring both the object of his desire's lies and her situation. If they're not practicing hedonism which is an irrational pursuit of pleasure, then their sex is the ultimate expression of their admiration of each other's values. How do you value a lie? Without the value, what rational interest could the woman hold for the man? To act irrationally is the antithesis of the Objectivist ethics of a rational selfishness.

On top of that, he didn't destroy a family, the woman did. He did not have a relationship with the family, only her. It's not the woman's fault that the man never has a serious relationship again, it is his fault for giving up. Extending responsibility beyond it's scope just confuses things.

To summarize, in all of your examples, each individual or entity is not acting in their rational self-interest in my opinion. Even you admit that the employee's actions are unethical to begin with.

I don't know what you think the "lens of objectivity" is, but I suggest that you read "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand (and Nathaniel Branden). In it you will discover the tenets of a rational selfishness in the essay "The Objectivist Ethics".

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