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Yes, We Can Ignore the Laws We Don't Like. It's Patriotic. - An American and Libertarian History Lesson

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February 13, 2010 – Comments (34)

I've stated before that history is purely subjective.  This is not an original thought.  History is the collection, ordering and interpretation of facts, but it is impossible to accomplish this task objectively.  How do you objectively decide which facts are important and which are not, and in which order they should be arranged, and from which sources the most reliable facts come from.  No one has ever presented history in an objective fashion? 

That's why it is so important to look outside of the mainstream for alternative and revisionist reviews of history you think you know.  Revisionist is often used in a perjorative sense, but that's unfair.  Gore Vidal was a revisionist, as was Howard Zinn. A revisionist merely offers an alternative subjective view of history that differs from the traditional subjective view (which unfortunately is taken to be objective and gospel in most cases.)

This post is a response to TMFBent's Just Ignore the Laws You Don't Like. It's Patriotic post from earlier this month that mocks a modern day attempt to assert states' rights and supporters of states' rights movements.  Perhaps we have read not only the taken-as-gospel history that he has, but also the revisionist history he ignores.

David in Qatar

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From How Capitalism Saved America by Thomas DiLorenzo, pp. 72 - 78:

State Sovereignty Versus Mercantilism

Not only did the states delegate relatively few powers to the central government while retaining ultimate sovereignty for themselves (repeatedly referring to themselves as "free and sovereign states" in the founding documents), but they explicitly reserved all other powers to the people, or the states, in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.  The Tenth Amendment was an integral part of what was known as the system of "dual sovereignty."  Under this system, the central government was given certain powers to check the tyrannical proclivities of the states (politicians are politicians, no matter what level of government they serve in), and at the same time the states were given equivalent powers to check oppressions by the federal government.  As Gottfried Dietze has explained, "Federalism, instituted to enable the federal government to check oppressions by the governments of the states, and vice versa, appears to be a supreme principle of the Constitution." (1)

But not all founders wanted to check the power of the federal government. A group of politically ambitious men wanted a strong central government that could institute the corrupt British mercantilist system in America, knowing that such a system would inevitably provide substantial political power to those who governed it. Alexander Hamilton was the best-known advocate of this viewpoint, as he favored the mercantilist policies of protectionist tariffs, taxpayer subsidies for private road and canal building corporations, and a government-run monetary system that could finance such patronage.

Hamilton played a hand in essentially destroying his own Federalist Party by using his influence as secretary of the treasury to have Congress enact several extremely unpopular tax increases. First there was the 25 percent tax on whiskey, which led to the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania and was considered by many Americans to be a betrayal of the Revolution. Then came a national property tax, which led to the Fries Rebellion. Both rebellions had to be put down by a federal army. In an attempt to repulse such antitax protests, the Federalist Party under President John Adams enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it a criminal act for anyone "to oppose any measure or measures of the government of the United States." Stiff fines and prison sentences awaited anyone who would write or publish "scandalous" or "malicious" articles in opposition to the government. But only members of Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party were ever prosecuted under the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were written so as to expire on the very day that President Adams left office.

The Alien and Sedition Acts have long been recognized as an affront to free speech, but it is important to recognize that one of the main purposes was to serve the Federalist Party's interventionist economic agenda. Jefferson responded to the acts with his Kentucky Resolve of 1798, which said:

"Resolved, that the several States composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States and of Amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, delegated to that government definite powers reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force."

Applying the principle of dual sovereignty that was such an important part of the Federalist Papers, Jefferson created the principles of state interposition and nullification: the states and the people reserved the right to judge for themselves whether particular acts of the central government were constitutional or not. (James Madison's Virginia Resolve of 1798 served the same purpose.)

In this instance, it was the Alien and Sedition Acts that were at issue. In the future, nullification, interposition, and even the threat of secession would be used to fend off repeated attempts to introduce mercantilism to America and thereby effectively overturn an important part of the American Revolution.

Perhaps no one more clearly stated the link between states' rights and opposition to mercantilism than John Taylor, a contemporary of Jefferson's and a U.S. senator from Virginia. In his book Tyranny Unmasked, Taylor articulated a deep mistrust of Hamilton and what historian F. Thornton Miller calls the "advocates of mercantilist economics." As Miller writes in his introduction to the 1992 republication of Tyranny Unmasked,  Taylor believed that states' rights were an indispensable tool for opposing mercantilist policies. (2) Indeed, Taylore wrote in his book that British mercantilism was "undoubtedly the best [example] which has ever appeared for extracting money from the people; and commercial restrictions, both upon foreign and domestick commerce, are its most effectual means for accomplishing this object. No equal mode of enriching the party of government, and impoverishing the party of the people, has ever been discovered." (3) He denounced "protectionist duties, bounties, exclusive privileges, and heavy taxation" - essentially the Hamiltonian / Federalist agenda - as a recipe for economic depression; argued that taxpayer subsidies to corporations would lead to "an ocean of extravagace" that would impoverish the taxpayers; and stated that a government-run central bank would create "economic gangrene." (4) Taylor "opposed government intervention in the economy and wanted a natural economy, a free market system," writes Miller, and he also believed that "assertive state rights were necessary to preserve liberty," particularly economic liberty. (5)

The principles of states' rights that Taylor and others enunciated were used to protect economic liberty on numerous occasions prior to 1865, when state sovereignty was effectively destroyed as an effective check on the central government. (6) After the War Between the States there would be no more attempts by states to nullify federal laws that were thought to be based on mercantilist exploitation.

In response to British confiscation of American ships and seamen, President Thomas Jefferson imposed a trade embargo on all shipping in 1807. The heavily trade-dependent New England states interposed, citing the Kentucky Resolve, and denounced the embargo as "unjust, oppresive, and unconstitutional" and "not legally binding." (7) The New Englanders defied the embargo law through rampant smuggling, and free trade mostly prevailed.

New Englanders also feared that their political enemies - the Jeffersonians - would do to them what they had attempted to do to Virginia and other southern states when they were in power: use the powers of the federal government to impose disproportionate taxation on other states while directing the lion's share of the benefits of government to their own states. Governor Roger Griswold of Connecticut articulated this fear after Jefferson's election in 1800, saying that "the balance of power under the present government is decidedly in favor of the Southern states" and claiing that New England would end up "paying the principal part of the expenses of government" without receiving commensurate benefits. (8) "There can be no safety for the Northern states" from this impending economic plunder, warned Griswold, unless there was "a separation from the confederacy." (9) In fact, New Engladers plotted for more than a decade to secede from the Union, culminating with the Hartford Convention of 1814, where they ultimately decided not to secede.

The citizens of the states also played an important role in defeating another mercantilist institution, central banking. Alexander Hamilton championed the first Bank of the United States, which led immediately to an inflatin crisis, suffered from severe mismanagement, and was plagued by corruption. (10) So fearful of how this bank could threaten the economic livelihood of the citizens of the states, a number of states attempted to tax it out of existence. In 1819, for example, the Ohio legislature enacted a $50,000 annual tax on each of the two Ohio branches of the bank. The bank refused to pay, so the Ohio government sent armed marshals to collect two years' worth of taxes, or $100,000. (11) Kentucky, Tennessee, Connecticut, South Carolina, New York, and New Hampshire all enacted similar policies of harassment. Ultimately all of this agitation at the state level was successful, for President Andrew Jackson, an implacable foe of the central bank, vetoed the rechartering of the bank. The bank ceased its operations as a depository of federal funds beginning in 1833.

Perhaps the clearest example of how the founders' system of dual sovereignty was used to defeat mercantilism and preserve a more or less free-market economy was South Carolina's "nullification" of the so-called Tariff of Abominations in 1832. In 1825 the South Carolina legislature condemned the entire Hamiltonian / mercantilist agenda in what historian Chauncey Boucher calls "a set of anti-bank, anti-internal improvement [i.e., anti-corporate subsidy], and anti-tariff resolutions." (12) Three years later, under the leadership of Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky, the U.S. Congress raised the average tariff rate to almost 50 percent, with the tax on some items, such as woolen cloth, approaching 200 percent. Trade-dependent South Carolina, which, like most other southern states at the time, was an agricultural society that manufactured very little for itself, saw this as potentially devastating economically. Not only would imported cloting, shoes, tools, and other items become much more expensive, but also, since South Carolinians exported most of what they produced and had to compete in foreign markets, they would not be able to pass on much, if any, of these higher costs to their customers. In other words, they interpreted the tariff as an act of economic exploitation that would benefit only norther manufacturers, who would be protected from competition, mostly at their (South Carolinians') expense. Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama joined South Carolina in condemning the tariff.

In November of 1832 South Carolina adopted an "ordinance of nullification" declaring the Tariff of Abominations to be "null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State, its officers, or citizens" and refused to collect the increased tariff. (13) The federal government was forced to back down, and a lower compromise tariff rate was adopted. Once again, the citizens of the states were successful in resisting mercanilist exploitation and defending economic freedom and capitalism, in the spirit of the American Revolution. By 1857, the average tariff rate had been reduced to a mer 15 percent.

Yet the tariff issue arose again when the Republican Party gained influence in the late 1850s. In the 1859-1860 session of the House of Representatives, the Republicans fought for the Morrill Tariff, which would more than double the average tariff rate. The debate over the Morrill Tariff was a replay of the Tariff of Abominations episode some thirty years earlier. The main proponents of the tariff were northern manufacturers and unions, wheeas the vast majority of the opposition came from the trade-dependent southern states. Eight-seven percent of northern congressmen voted for the Morrill Tariff, but only 12.5 percent of southern congressmen did. (14) The U.S. Senate passed the Morrill Tariff just days before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, a staunch protectionist for his entire political career who supported it.

Although the American Revolution was fought in large part as a revolt against the stifling mercantilist policies of the British government, and although the founders had specifically aimed to guarantee economic liberties to the citizens, it was at this point that effective political opposition to mercantilism in America ended. By the second year of the Lincoln adminstration the average tariff rate had more than tripled, to over 47 percent, and it remained that high or higher for most of the next fifty years. During the War Between the States, the National Currency Acts cemented central banking into place, and the federal government granted vast subsidies to railroad corporations, which led other industries to lobby feverishly for similar subsidies in the following decades. (15) The revolt against mercantilism that commenced with the Revolutionary generation was ended, and Hamiltonian mercantilism has prevailed, in varying degrees, ever since.

Notes

1. Gottfried Dietze, America's Political Dilemma: From Limited to Unlimited Democracy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968),.67.

2. F. Thornton Miller, introduction to John Taylor, Tyranny Unmasked (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1992), xvi.

3. Taylor, Tyranny Unmasked, 11.

4. Ibid., 19.

5. Miller, introduction to Taylor, Tyranny Unmasked, xxi.

6. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003); and Forrest McDonald, States' Rights and the Union ( Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999).

7. James J. Kilpatrick, The Sovereign States (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1957), 130.

8. Henry Adams, Documents Relating to New-England Federalism, 1800-1815 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1877), 376.

9. Ibid.

10. Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Bank War (New York: Norton, 1967).

11. Kilpatrick, The Sovereign States, 152.

12. Chauncey Boucher, The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), 1.

13. Ibid., 183.

14. Robert A. McGuire and T. Norman Van Cott, "The Confederate Constitution, Tariffs, and the Laffer Relationship," Economic Inquiry 40, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 428-38.

15. See DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln

34 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 13, 2010 at 9:11 PM, APJ4RealHoldings (31.12) wrote:

A well needed post, thank you.

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#2) On February 13, 2010 at 10:01 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

Thanks David.  I was really offended by the original blog you cited.  There are always idiots on both sides, and the court should be the way in which matters are resolved, but to tolerate a federal govt. abrogation of a fundamental tenet of the bill of rights is inexcusable. 

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#3) On February 13, 2010 at 10:51 PM, ChrisGraley (30.30) wrote:

I didn't comment before and I'm trying not to comment now. 

So I'll leave it as "No comment", even though I have a comment. 

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#4) On February 13, 2010 at 11:59 PM, starbucks4ever (99.05) wrote:

Really, it doesn't matter much. Small governments can be every bit as disgusting as big ones. 

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#5) On February 14, 2010 at 12:44 AM, catoismymotor (35.95) wrote:

David, thank you for the post.

 

zloj, the same can be said of dogs. Little dogs make little messes. Large dogs make large messes. Which would you rather have turned loose in your home to chase after your cat? Report this comment
#6) On February 14, 2010 at 12:51 AM, starbucks4ever (99.05) wrote:

 catoismymotor,

If I turn loose 50 small dogs, I think the mess will be about the same :) 

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#7) On February 14, 2010 at 12:53 AM, Harold71 (22.86) wrote:

+1

Small governments can be every bit as disgusting as big ones.

At least you have more choices.  If California wants to tax and spend into oblivion, it is relatively easy to leave.  If the USA wants to tax (and borrow) and spend until the nation is bankrupt, the choice is much more "disgusting."

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#8) On February 14, 2010 at 3:59 PM, MichaelMolenaar (< 20) wrote:

+1

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#9) On February 14, 2010 at 4:02 PM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

zloj,

There is no easy answer and I'm not going to tell you otherwise.  I just want to point out that the view of government has changed dramatically since Jefferson's time.  Back then, politicians and their cronies were seen as the worst of us.  Today, they're made out to be the best of us.  So Jefferson et. al. figured the best way to govern was to make it so that government could not be permanent (dual sovereignty) and would be checked by other powers.

Today, that's all the nostalgia of a bygone era.  We're told that politicians and bureaucrats are our saviors and that they are the best and most honorable among us.  I have to disagree. 

You are right that exercising states' rights is no panacea for tyranny, and DiLorenzo certainly agrees (see his "politicians are politicians" comment above). 

So where does that leave us?  For me, it's preferable to have a dual sovereignty model over unchecked federal power, even if it's not a perfect solution (I suppose there isn't a perfect solution.  Every theory, even a libertarian one, has its flaws.) 

It really is Man vs. the State.  We can discuss how we ended up in such a world, where a small minority of people (the State) exercise such a large degree of power all over the world, but we probably will not be able to rectify it anytime soon, if ever. 

In the meantime, I think it's best to try and keep their hands tied behind their backs whenever possible. 

And the best solution for that: cut off the money press.  Choice in Currency.  Repeal Legal Tender Laws. End the Fed.  Make it so they can't print whatever money they need whenever they need it.  Make governing (exercising disproportionate power) difficult for them. 

David in Qatar

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#10) On February 14, 2010 at 4:58 PM, starbucks4ever (99.05) wrote:

Hi whereaminow,

Your point is well taken, and I'd be a complete fool to deny the value of checks and balances. But still, that checks-and-balance answer is kind of glib, in my opinion. Human ingenuity can always subvert the most exquisitely designed system of checks and balances. Whatever model you propose, be it 3 branches of power, or some dual sovereignty model, or something else, it will be only as good as the willingness of the elites to follow the spirit of the law. The quality of the ruling elite is the only thing that really matters. With a good elite in charge it is equally safe to have monarchy, dictatorship, representative democracy, federalism, unitary state, socialism, capitalism, or whatever. Let me assure you that if you adopt Stalin's Constitution and put Thomas Jefferson in charge, you will still get the same good ol' United States, and if you give the US Constitution to Stalin, you will still get the same good ol' USSR. Regardless of the words written on that piece of paper.

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#11) On February 14, 2010 at 7:06 PM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

zloj,

For such a short paragraph, you made me nod three times and give one long 'hmmmmm.... maybe....'

I think you're right that the checks and balances system is always destined to fail because of 'human ingenuity' as you call it.  But the reason I think this is way is solely due to reading Franz Oppenheimer's The State.  I haven't read anything else that refutes his view that governments came into existence by way of conquest and subjugation.  It's an immoral institution and so it's no surprise that it is filled with and attracts people that use their 'ingenuity' to enrich and empower themselves, more or less.

I also agree that there are good and bad ruling elites (even in an immoral system).  But it's really hard to find a good one, which is why so many of us will weep when Ron Paul kicks the bucket.  Even Thomas Jefferson was a much better theorist than politician.  His record as President is not libertarian or even "small government conservative" by any measure.

I'm not sure that the system is irrelevant.  First, I think you are confusing political and economic systems.  Even though capitalist countries pursue conflicting socialist or mercantilist agendas, and vice versa with all sorts of mixed up in betweens, I think there are basic economic laws of life that all governments try their best to either ignore or flat out deceive.  All to no avail. Those governments that respect economic law do better than others, whether the leader is retarded or brilliant in other aspects.

Here comes the 'hmmmmmm..maybe.'   I don't buy the argument that putting Stalin in the U.S. and TJ in the USSR produces the same results.  Or maybe I should say, when you work that statement to its logical conclusion, it doesn't help us understand our world any better and so it's a waste of time.  Let me explain with a story.

About 10 years ago, I was sitting in a bar in Chicago with a close friend and his wife.  He, a moderately liberal Democrat, and she, a far left borderline socialist, tried to convince me that my accomplishments were nearly entirely due to luck and that had I switched places with a Pakistani farmer, the two of us would have similar results, i.e. the farmer would have grown up with the same level of success in America and I would be starving and slaving over meager crops in Pakistan.

On first glance, the argument makes a compelling case for redistribution, but a closer look shows that not only is the argument begging the question, even if it were completely true it doesn't give us a shred of new information about how the world works and thus, how to make it a better place.

In order for the argument to work, the Pakistani that "switches places" with me must have had the same life experiences as me; the same parents; the same external events and reactions to those events; the exact same schooling and missed schooling and reaction and learning capacity; the same habits, hobbies, and leisure time; and in fact, the exact same genetic code as me, born precisely at the same time to the same exact spermatose and ovary.  If you take away any of that, then at some point, the Pakistani's experience would have been different, he would have been unique, and his results would have different. 

In other words, the Pakistani would be me and I would be him. And what does this teach me?  Absolutely nothing.

Lucky or not, my life is mine and can't be switched arbitrarily with another human being.  Wish I had known all that 10 years ago in that bar in Chicago. 

David in Qatar

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#12) On February 14, 2010 at 7:51 PM, lackmind (< 20) wrote:

I totally agree with Zloj.  Quite simply we, the people, need a better way to remove people in power and put new people into power.  And even with today's society that is almost impossible.  There are only 2 parties and they control ALL of the national coverage!  Its one or the other, there is no middle ground, for this to work properly we need several parties, 5+, for it to truely reflect the publics opions.  And each party has to be unique and different.

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#13) On February 14, 2010 at 8:19 PM, ChrisGraley (30.30) wrote:

With respect to zloj and others, absolute power still corrupts absolutely.

Ok I did have a comment. ;) 

I'm trying really hard not to hijack a fantastic thread though. 

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#14) On February 14, 2010 at 8:59 PM, devoish (99.06) wrote:

I just want to point out that the view of government has changed dramatically since Jefferson's time.  Back then, politicians and their cronies were seen as the worst of us.  Today, they're made out to be the best of us. 

Your keyboard must have cried when you typed that crapola. I just want to point out that back then, politicians were considered the best of us. Now I read ten posts each day telling me how awful they are.

A good marketing campaign needs no honesty.

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#15) On February 14, 2010 at 9:31 PM, starbucks4ever (99.05) wrote:

lackmind ,

"We" as "the people" certainly do not need "a better way to remove people in power and put new people into power". Simply because "we" on the average are even more greedy, stupid, corrupt and short-sighted than our politicians. We should be thankful for the politicians that we have because for all their horrible flaws, they are far from the worst kind, and especially we should thank God that we don't have a direct democracy and don't consult "the people" on every possible question. 

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#16) On February 15, 2010 at 12:11 AM, catoismymotor (35.95) wrote:

#6 - Little dogs eat parts of furniture. Big dogs each couches. Imagine the damage one Jack Russell Terrier would do compared to one Rottweiler.

 

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#17) On February 15, 2010 at 3:55 PM, Melaschasm (66.67) wrote:

devoish,

I suspect that people have always been frustrated and unhappy with corrupt governments then and now.

However, I do see a huge difference between the attitudes of the people at our country's founding and today.  In the begining a big majority of people looked at the government as a burden that made thier lives less pleasant.  Now half the people look to the government to provide for their needs, because they have become dependent upon the government.

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#18) On February 15, 2010 at 4:31 PM, catoismymotor (35.95) wrote:

"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." - Mao Tse Tung

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. – General George Washington

 

Do with these quotes as you will.

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#19) On February 17, 2010 at 2:03 PM, nzsvz9 (< 20) wrote:

David,

It's quite sad, but Jefferson would not recognize the U.S. government of today as anything like the one he helped usher in.

What I found most enlightening was that each time a repressive law was overturned or greatly mitigated it was because some rebellion or state, with a strong leader fought to nullify the law in their state. Tea parties aside, we don't see that much today. The most recent exmaple for me would be states which refused to accept federal stimulus funding - quite appropriate one year later.

It would seem 51 sets of dogs loose inthe house are as bad as a central bank. Shoot - we have both!

Known as dog-catcher nzsvz9

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#20) On February 23, 2010 at 6:11 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@whereaminow,
"I've stated before that history is purely subjective.  This is not an original thought.  History is the collection, ordering and interpretation of facts, but it is impossible to accomplish this task objectively.  How do you objectively decide which facts are important and which are not, and in which order they should be arranged, and from which sources the most reliable facts come from."
Let me get this straight:
- those who deny the existence of the Holocaust do have a point?
- that essay on 4,000 years of price controls can be safely dismissed as a piece of subjective interpretation of cherry-picked facts?

"Thomas J. DiLorenzo"

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, the neo-Confederate? Do you have any source which doesn't express crackpot ideas?

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#21) On February 23, 2010 at 7:42 PM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

lucas,

I was glad to have you back, but your response is just horrible.  

If you take a purely objective view of history, all you have are dates of events.  Beyond that, there is a great deal of subjectivity.  This phenomenon was not widely understood by historians until the second half of the 20th century.  Now, pretty much every historian accepts the idea that beyond dates of events, there is little that can be called 'objective.'

This has absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust. Nothing.  That you would insinuate that I am a holocaust denier from this post is horrific and pathetic. You should be absolutely disgusted with yourself.  It makes me sick that you would insinuate that.  

I will say no more on this.  Not worth my time.  

Any link to the SPLC is ignored.  They labeled me a terrorist for supporting Ron Paul.  Also, name calling is not an argument.

Finally, you came on this post for a reason, but it clearly was not to address anything relevant to the article itself.  

Very horrible and insulting. You should be ashamed.

David in Qatar

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#22) On February 23, 2010 at 11:41 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@whereaminow,
"If you take a purely objective view of history, all you have are dates of events.  Beyond that, there is a great deal of subjectivity."
A fair amount of subjectivity in history is not the same thing as "I've stated before that history is purely subjective"
Do you have a dictionary handy? Look up "nuance".
We're all biased but some of us strive to be as objective as possible. Historians are scholars and as such they have to advance their views with logical arguments supported by the existent evidence.

"Now, pretty much every historian accepts the idea that beyond dates of events, there is little that can be called 'objective.'"
Please, back up your assertions with evidence, preferably with citations to the scholarly literature.

"That you would insinuate that I am a holocaust denier from this post is horrific and pathetic. You should be absolutely disgusted with yourself.  It makes me sick that you would insinuate that."
Where did I insinuate that you were an Holocaust denier?

"This has absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust. Nothing."
Yes, it does. According to your view of history, historians who are Holocaust deniers are presenting valid arguments even if they misrepresent sources, fabricate facts and use twisted logic. In "subjective history" every point of view is as valid as any other. This is akin to he said/she said journalism.

"Any link to the SPLC is ignored"
Are they wrong to label Thomas J. DiLorenzo as a neo-Confederate? Wikipedia also lists him as a known neo-Confederate author but gives no citation to support the claim. The titles of his books give the impression that he supports neo-Confederate ideas.
You should know that neo-Confederates are in deep denial of historical reality. It's not far-fetched to put them alongside Holocaust deniers.

"They labeled me a terrorist for supporting Ron Paul"
Did they personally label you a terrorist or they labelled Ron Paul followers as possible terrorists? If it's the former that would be wrong, if it's the later I can't see what's wrong. White supremacy, neo-Confederacy beliefs and similar crap form the backbone of right-wing terrorism. Ron Paul seems deeply linked to right-wing extremism and believes in every loony idea existent under the sun. Ron Paul described by a libertarian:
"Just recently, I changed my political affiliation on Facebook from "libertarian" to "data-driven". I still think that "libertarian" is the best one-word descriptor of my political views, but I've grown increasingly disenchanted with the views of people calling themselves libertarians these days. With the seeming implosion of the Republican party in the United States, it seems that libertarian is the new black (I'm referring to fashion, not skin color). Part of this is due to the Ron Paul phenomenon, which is in itself curious. Here you have a man who doesn't accept evolution, doesn't accept anthropogenic global warming, and endorses crank medicine. He's had questionable ties to white supremacist groups and right-wing militia groups. He plays up fears about conspiracies such as the North American Union. He's strongly anti-abortion, is disingenuous about his views on gay marriage, and believes that the American Constitution is "replete with references to God." Then there's his bizarre obsession with the Federal Reserve and fundamentalist obeisance to Austrian economics. This man is supposed to be leading a new Republican revolution? Sounds more like a whackjob theocrat in libertarian clothing to me."

"Also, name calling is not an argument."
Exposing someone's beliefs is not name calling.

"Finally, you came on this post for a reason, but it clearly was not to address anything relevant to the article itself."
You're right. I'm not interested in the article. I came to this post to address a non-core issue. I have to admit that it's funny to debunk such poorly arranged thoughts.

"Very horrible and insulting. You should be ashamed."

Other than saying you hold crackpot beliefs I did nothing that would be considered insulting, defamatory or shameful.

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#23) On February 24, 2010 at 10:20 AM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

Lucas,

You are really pathetic.  You owe me an apology for insinuating that I am a holocaust denier.

If you understood the nuance of the position you wouldn't have made the statement about the Holocaust above.  You are disgusting.  Totally disgusting human being.

You could have noted that you didn'understand what I was saying in comment #20, or you could have asked for clarification.  You did neither.  You labeled me a holocaust denier instead.

Arrogance, my name is lucas.  37 rec's and 19 comments before you showed up.  I have almost 4,000 recs.  Not one of those readers or my few detractors have ever made such a despicable accusation.

Until you apologize, I will have nothing to do with you. Anything else is a waste of my time.  Like I'm going to respond to some random disgruntled Facebook user.  That's an argument?  Posting a random Facebook quote?  Libertarianism is the fastest growing movement in the world.  Austrian economics is the fastest growing school of econ in the world.

You are absolutely disgusting and pathetic.  I want an apology.  Until then you deserve nothing but to be spit upon.

David in Qatar

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#24) On February 24, 2010 at 10:25 AM, Darvo285 (76.00) wrote:

Lucas,I just wanted to thank you for bringing up things like Ron Paul's ties to right-wing extremism and white supremacy. However, you forgot to mention his blatant homophobia because of his reaction to being set up in his interview, in the movie Bruno. I can't believe he was so narrow minded to use the word "queer" four times. When he obviously should have gone along with whatever his interviewer had in mind. I know he said it four times because someone brought it up in a different tread and if you do a search on youtube, you get to see Rachel Maddow go on about it, along with other clips with people upset that someone would use such language, while being tricked into an interview and practically molested. Man, can you believe that? Anyway, that would have fit in nicely with the gay marriage thing in your post, but I digress, the reason I am thanking you, is because in my excitement of seeing the results of Dr. Paul winning the CPAC straw pole, I had to keep composed because I knew it was a matter of time before these types of accusations would start to come out in full force. Only time will tell if they can stand up to any scrutiny. Luckily, our current president didn’t have questionable ties to any groups or individuals.

Finally, the thing about Ron Paul, is he can believe all of the things you mention in your post, even not accepting “anthropogenic global warming”, which I am sure upsets you to no end but the fact of the matter is, he hold liberty in the highest esteem and is not going to use government to take liberty away which has been done from either side of the political spectrum throughout history. Personally, that is something that draws me to libertarianism, the fact that it is rooted in freedom and personal responsibility, my hope is that the people who are rallying behind this movement realize it. That is the problem with our society today or even societies throughout history, we tend to take responsibility when we succeed but none if we fail. It is always someone or something else’s fault. That is funny how you consider this a crack-pot belief but I am sure you will post some pretty graphs and pictures that justify taking away people’s liberties and how you can spend their money better that they can. Keep up the good work Lucas, you can marginalize with the best of them, Saul Olinsky would be proud.

Darvo285

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#25) On February 24, 2010 at 4:54 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@whereaminow,
"You are really pathetic.  You owe me an apology for insinuating that I am a holocaust denier."
I don't owe you an apology. Your lack of reading comprehension is not my fault.

"You are disgusting.  Totally disgusting human being."

...

"You could have noted that you didn'understand what I was saying in comment #20, or you could have asked for clarification.  You did neither.  You labeled me a holocaust denier instead."

And you still insist on beating up straw-men. If you repeat it enough times, people will believe that I called you an Holocaust denier.

"Arrogance, my name is lucas."
...

"37 rec's and 19 comments before you showed up.  I have almost 4,000 recs."
So popular opinion is how we should measure the depth, originality or soundness of an argument?

"Until you apologize, I will have nothing to do with you. Anything else is a waste of my time."
Perhaps I'll have to ask for an apology for insinuating that I called you an Holocaust denier. I demand a retraction.

"Like I'm going to respond to some random disgruntled Facebook user."
You don't even bother to check sources. Those statements were made by an Australian Ph.D. candidate and self-described libertarian on his own blog. He's concerned about the intellectual shallowness of the libertarian movement and its co-option by racist elements, conspiracy theorists, anti-science types and theocrats in sheep cloth.

"That's an argument?  Posting a random Facebook quote?"
The argument is that the most visible face of the libertarian movement is a holder of crackpot beliefs on a wide range of issues (science, medicine, economics, religion, constitutional law, etc) and a dubious defender of freedom.

"Libertarianism is the fastest growing movement in the world."
- Is this true? Cite reliable evidence.
- The popularity (or lack thereof) of an idea is not a sound argument.
- In tough times, extremism and loony ideas spread like wildfire. Marxism was popular in the 30s. The Tea Party movement is direct evidence of this: hard times are good for fringe movements and nonsense.
- A case can be made of the rising star of libertarianism as a refuge for exiles of the imploding conservative ideology.

"Austrian economics is the fastest growing school of econ in the world."
- Cite evidence.
- The collapse of hard-line Chicago economics has left a huge void in laissez faire thought. Something will fill up that hole, even if it's completely bogus.

"You are absolutely disgusting and pathetic.  I want an apology.  Until then you deserve nothing but to be spit upon."

...


I'll ask for the last time:
Does "subjective history" (as defined by yourself) allow for the intellectual contortions of Holocaust deniers even if you personally find their arguments to be disgusting and full of crap?
Does "subjective" history" allow the intellectual contortions of neo-Confederates even if you personally find their arguments to be disgusting and full of crap?
Is historic argument merely informed opinion?

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#26) On February 24, 2010 at 5:20 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@Darvo285,
"That is funny how you consider this a crack-pot belief but I am sure you will post some pretty graphs and pictures that justify taking away people’s liberties and how you can spend their money better that they can"
Another one with reading comprehension problems.
Where did I say that believing in freedom is crazy?
The crackpot beliefs are the following:
- Evolution denial.
- Anthropogenic climate change denial.
- neo-Confederate views of history.
- Austrian economics.
- Conspiracy theorizing on the Federal Reserve.
- Religious views of the US Constitution.
- Innumerable crackpot medical ideas.
- White supremacy.

"but I am sure you will post some pretty graphs and pictures that justify taking away people’s liberties and how you can spend their money better that they can."
So ideology trumps hard data? I'll quote the author of the blog called "Demon-haunted world":
"I think the reason I still consider myself a libertarian is that my utilitarianism* is bounded by what I consider unreasonable limitations on personal freedoms (e.g., I would not find it acceptable for the government to stifle free speech even if data showed that doing so would result in greater social harmony)."
Can you see the difference between sophisticated thought and nuanced world-view compared with knee-jerk ideology?


* He uses utilitarianism as a description of his data-driven politics.

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#27) On February 25, 2010 at 1:12 AM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

Lucas,

My point was that historical subjectivism has been a part of history books and teachings since the beginning of the profession.

Now, last time I checked, the profession of history was around before the holocaust.

So, NO, clearly since every historian is subjective, you can't blame historical subjectivism for the rise of Holocaust deniers.

Had you taken the time to understand my position, you wouldn't have found yourself in the awkward position of defending yourself for you ridiculous attacks.

Then again, you didn't come here to understand anyone.  You came here to level accusations and spread hatred.

You can't win lucas. Evil is the wrong path.  I implore you to give up your hateful ways.  Embrace the idea of freedom.  It brings us together.  Your methods only drive us apart.

David in Qatar

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#28) On February 25, 2010 at 9:47 AM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@whereaminow,
"My point was that historical subjectivism has been a part of history books and teachings since the beginning of the profession."
This poor exhibition of nuance doesn't fit your earlier statement:
"I've stated before that history is purely subjective.  This is not an original thought.  History is the collection, ordering and interpretation of facts, but it is impossible to accomplish this task objectively.  How do you objectively decide which facts are important and which are not, and in which order they should be arranged, and from which sources the most reliable facts come from."
Unlimited subjectivism won't get you very far in history. A bit of subjectivism is acceptable at the margins or when the evidence is scarce and/or unreliable. Rewriting entire chunks of history based on faulty logic, selective reading of the evidence, quote-mining and such practices is not acceptable. If you knew a bit about Holocaust denialism you should know that outright denial of genocide isn't the main position. You'll get affirmations such as the following:
- The Nazis didn't kill that many Jews.
- Killing Jews was acceptable.
- Hitler didn't plan the massacre.
- The Nazis were compassionate and killed sick people to protect the healthy ones.
- Stalin also killed innocent civilians.
- The Allies also did atrocities.
You can also find the same bogus arguments in neo-Confederates:
- Slaves didn't have really bad lives.
- Slavery wasn't a cause of the Civil War.
- Lincoln suspended civil liberties.
- The Union army also did atrocities.
- The Union punished the South after winning the war.
In fact, you can find the same bogus arguments in every kind of historic or scientific denialism.

"So, NO, clearly since every historian is subjective, you can't blame historical subjectivism for the rise of Holocaust deniers."
- Every historian is subjective up to a point. Believing that history is subjective interpretation of selected facts is downright bizarre.
- Subjectivism is not the cause of the existence/rise of Holocaust denialism but it would provide effective intellectual and social cover for its practitioners. That's my point. Let me put it in this way: if subjectivism is the core of historical analysis you couldn't expose the Holocaust deniers as being full of crap. The argument could be the following:
"I think that denying the Holocaust is insane, disgusting even immoral but, since history is mainly subjective interpretation, I can't honestly say that those who present an alternative account of the events are pushing a faulty point of view"

"Had you taken the time to understand my position, you wouldn't have found yourself in the awkward position of defending yourself for you ridiculous attacks."
Had you taken the time to present your thoughts in a logical manner and to parse my statements more carefully, you wouldn't have come to the conclusion that I called you an Holocaust denier.

"Then again, you didn't come here to understand anyone.  You came here to level accusations and spread hatred."
I did come here to expose faulty logic and bizarre assumptions on a non-core issue (the presentation of history). Make of this what you want, I don't care.

"You can't win lucas"
I'm not here to "win" To win what? I'm just a random dude on the Internet from a Latin American country. I'm here to expose the ridiculousness of many of your arguments, positions and point of views. You're sharply detached from reality.

"Evil is the wrong path."
That's something we can agree upon.

"I implore you to give up your hateful ways."

(¿?)

"Embrace the idea of freedom."
I embrace freedom and human dignity. Those are the guiding principles of my life and are present in every analysis of my own. That's why I lean mostly to liberalism. I'll quote John F. Kennedy:
"I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves."
You should embrace real freedom and its brother, the Enlightenment.

"Your methods only drive us apart."

Whatever you say.

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#29) On February 25, 2010 at 9:56 AM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

lucas,

I said in the first paragraph above: No one has ever presented history in an objective fashion.  No one.  Spitting out dates is not presenting history.

History is the collection, selection, arrangement, and interpretation of "facts."  You may not agree with DiLorenzo but you haven't disputed anything he has to say, because you know that he is dealing with facts.  Holocaust deniers do not deal with facts. The Holocaust is a fact.  

You're the only here who doesn't get it.  But that's because you came here, not to discuss and debate, but to attack and marginalize and smear.

You came here to hate, to spread Hate Speech.

I come here to spread the message of freedom.  This is why people are touched by my ideas.  I wonder if you get emails like I do?  People write me all the time to tell me how much of an impact I've had on their lives.  Whenever you degrade me or smear me, I think of that and I feel much better.

In the end, people remember me and cherish me, because I bring them something special,

I don't know if anyone thinks the same about you.  How could someone be inspired by your tactics?  I highly doubt that they are.

I am still waiting for an apology that I am sure will never come.  

David in Qatar

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#30) On February 25, 2010 at 10:04 AM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

Lucas,

Furthermore, Gore Vidal and Howard Zinn, champions of Progressivism, are Historical Subjectivists.  In many ways, they are the standard bearers.  They recognized that every historian made subjective evaluations and that no historian was objective.

Are they also responsible for the rise of Holocaust deniers?  

Don't be afraid Lucas.  I'm not going to hurt you.  I just want to teach about freedom.  Don't be scared to investigate our cause.

David in Qatar

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#31) On February 25, 2010 at 1:27 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

It's a slow moving day
@whereaminow,
"No one has ever presented history in an objective fashion."
Start reading scholarly journals.

"Spitting out dates is not presenting history."
Spitting out dates, speeches, written records, photographies, etc in a scrupulous and logical manner is presenting history. Taking a position is not the same thing as being biased.

"History is the collection, selection, arrangement, and interpretation of "facts.""
Let me fix it for you: History is the collection, logical arrangement, and nuanced interpretation of facts.

"You may not agree with DiLorenzo"
This is not a matter of opinion. No serious historian agrees with DiLorenzo as no serious historian agrees with Holocaust deniers.

"you haven't disputed anything he has to say"
Others have already ripped apart his bogus account of history.

"Holocaust deniers do not deal with facts."
Oh yes, they do. Only that they cherry-pick their facts, misrepresent them and present them in an illogical way. An example:
"There is no physical or documentary evidence in existence today that confirms that there were holes in the roof of the gas chambers."
Read how deniers play with this fact while ignoring a mountain of evidence.

"The Holocaust is a fact."

Deniers say it wasn't planned or it wasn't so atrocious. They argue about the real number of deaths. They say that Holocaust is an overarching word. They say that too much focus is put on Jews. They say that the Germans had the right to act in that way.

"You're the only here who doesn't get it.  But that's because you came here, not to discuss and debate, but to attack and marginalize and smear.
You came here to hate, to spread Hate Speech."

Whatever you say.

"I wonder if you get emails like I do?"
I didn't come here to win a popularity contest. Harsh truths often are unpopular.

"People write me all the time to tell me how much of an impact I've had on their lives."
People write me all the time to tell me good things about my articles published in a regional weekly magazine. That makes me a hero?

"In the end, people remember me and cherish me, because I bring them something special"
You only bring delusions and superfluous thoughts.

"I don't know if anyone thinks the same about you.  How could someone be inspired by your tactics?"
Which tactics? Bringing facts and logic to a discussion?

"I am still waiting for an apology that I am sure will never come."

I'm waiting for an apology too.

"Furthermore, Gore Vidal and Howard Zinn, champions of Progressivism, are Historical Subjectivists.  In many ways, they are the standard bearers.  They recognized that every historian made subjective evaluations and that no historian was objective."
And their subjectivism (when they switch from taking a position to being decisively biased) is sharply criticized with just reason. Their controversial writings are met with skepticism. A big chunk of revisionism is pure baloney, including progressive revisionism.

"Are they also responsible for the rise of Holocaust deniers?"
No. Holocaust deniers, neo-Confederates and other denialists will continue to exist under any circumstances but under the current interpretation of history they are met with derision and scorn and not accepted as serious scholars. If you were to write standards of historical account they would be received as controversial scholars but pushing a legitimate view of history according to their selection and interpretation of facts.

"Don't be afraid Lucas. I'm not going to hurt you."
Do you think I'm scared of something or somebody? Well, to be honest, I'd be scared of living in la la land.

"I just want to teach about freedom."
Thanks but I'll pass. I can read the philosophers of freedom in my personal library, the public library or in the Internet. I don't want a distorted account of their thoughts and misrepresentations of their arguments.

"Don't be scared to investigate our cause."

It would be rational to be afraid after investigating just the first layers of what's below the false flag of freedom: anti-tax nuts, the John Birch society, white supremacists, theocrats, right-wing militias, corporate astroturfers, conspiracy theorists, quacks, enemies of science and, of course, clueless souls.

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#32) On February 25, 2010 at 2:11 PM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

lucas,

The historical profession disagrees with you.  In fact, all scholars disagree with you as every scholar in history has used subjectivity.  Objectivity is a myth. You can refuse to believe that, but in doing so you are making a subjective evaluation.

You are clearly on the defensive.  Do you even understand the difference between objective and subjective?

I know that English is not your first language so maybe you just don't understand the argument.

Did you know that Mises roundly rejected the ideology of racism in his magnum opus Human Action?  It's in chapter 3.  There's a whole section on it.  You can verify that with a google search.

Did you know that the Northern States used States' Rights arguments against slavery and to justify revolting against the Fugitive Slave Act? 

You said that historians who present facts in a logical manner are acting objectively.  Are you sure about that?  They have still have to make a subjective evaluation about which facts to leave out, what order they should be presented, and how to interpret their meaning.  That's all subjective.

I am waiting for my apology.

David in Qatar

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#33) On February 25, 2010 at 3:34 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@whereaminow,
"The historical profession disagrees with you.  In fact, all scholars disagree with you as every scholar in history has used subjectivity"
- Evidence?
- The mere use of subjectivity makes an assertion subjective? Then, all fields of inquiry (even the most pure physics and formal sciences) can not be considered objective or with the aim of achieving objectivity. This doesn't bode well.

"Objectivity is a myth. You can refuse to believe that, but in doing so you are making a subjective evaluation."
Sure.

"You are clearly on the defensive."

This is claim that should be done by one or more independent arbiters. I can say that you're on the defensive because you're moving goalposts.

"Do you even understand the difference between objective and subjective?"
What evidence should I present to convince you that I know the difference?

"I know that English is not your first language so maybe you just don't understand the argument."
Yes, English is not my first language (not even the second) but I don't think that language barriers are having an effect here.

"Did you know that Mises roundly rejected the ideology of racism in his magnum opus Human Action?  It's in chapter 3.  There's a whole section on it.  You can verify that with a google search."
I'm lost here. What's the point in bringing to my attention what Mises wrote on the topic of race?

"Did you know that the Northern States used States' Rights arguments against  slavery and to justify revolting against the Fugitive Slave Act?"
Go straight to the point and expose your position on the Civil War, specially on the most contentious issues. For example:
- Was it justified even if you abhor war?
- Was the existence and expansion of slavery a primary reason of the war?
- Should the Confederation earn the scorn of sensible people?
- Did the Union hurt the South during Reconstruction?

"You said that historians who present facts in a logical manner are acting objectively.  Are you sure about that?  They have still have to make a subjective evaluation about which facts to leave out, what order they should be presented, and how to interpret their meaning.  That's all subjective."
Err, no. Start reading the basics. Historians strive for objectivity, sometimes they're successful and sometimes they fail.

"I am waiting for my apology."
I'm waiting for mine.

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#34) On February 25, 2010 at 3:48 PM, whereaminow (61.23) wrote:

Lucas,

So you don't even know the difference between the phsyical and the social sciences?  

Yes, physics appears to be an objective science.  But sociology is not physics, or do you claim that it is?  There are crackpots that do.  We call them Keynesians.

Hayek's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech addressed your concerns. You should look it up.  He refers to the belief that social sciences are objective as "scientistic."  That speech would really help you understand the error of your ways.

And why would I apologize to you? You came on hear to smear, slander, and attack.  In the meantime, you implied that I was a holocaust denier.  I tried to spread the message of Liberty and freedom.  I never even mentioned the Holocaust.  This post is about the facts of states' rights that few people know about it.  You tried to make it about something else.  You failed.  Now you are trying to change the subject and cover your ass.  It's comical.

And now I've taught you the difference between subjectivity and objectivity.

You should be thanking me for that.  And apologizing for Hate Speech.

David in Qatar

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