The Pursuit of Political Purity

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

ImageSome comments in the ongoing debate regarding the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren got me to thinking about our political system and people’s reactions to it. Warren is criticized by the Right for obvious reasons, given her strong stances on managing the economy and controlling the excesses of the Corporate Culture. In a sense she offends their sense of political purity, but then that is but a given because she is a Democrat. We have seen though on the Right that such conservative stalwarts as Richard Lugar have gone down to primary defeat because he failed the Tea Parties test of what a “true” conservative should be. Richard Lugar failed the “purity” test even though his conservative history is impeccable. In my conception political purity conforms to “party line” thinking, punishing those that fail to adhere in all respects to the standards of a given faction’s concept of standards their candidates must adhere to in order to retain enthusiastic support. I use “faction”, rather than “party”, because our two party political system actually represents an amalgam of various factions imperfectly coalescing under the rubric of a “Political Party”.

From a Left, or even Centrist perspective, there has been both amusement and trepidation about how the “Tea Party” faction has exerted control over the Republican Party. Then too, there is the same reaction to the power exerted by Fundamentalist Christians, a group that at some points overlaps with the “Tea Party”. A human trait is to see the foibles of groups we define as “other”, while being oblivious to the idiosyncrasies of the groups we are aligned with. Liberals, Progressives, Radicals and even Leftist Centrists like to believe that they are immune from the turmoil that they see in their Right Wing opposites, yet the “Left” and even the “Center” also routinely define people in terms of litmus tests of political purity. This was highlighted by certain comments on the Warren thread where people who were seemingly in tune with her domestic policy views, disliked her positions on the Middle East and appeared to hold them against her. This has definitely been true with many progressives and/or civil libertarians in viewing this current Administration. My purpose here is not one of castigation for anyone’s perspective; rather I’m interested in exploring the phenomenon of the belief that political figures need to meet all of our expectations in their positions, or be unworthy of our support. My own perspective is that tests of political purity are self defeating because it is impossible for any particular political figure to be in perfect agreement with all that any of us individually believe and politics becomes oppression without the ability to negotiate. The process of real negotiation requires compromise. What follows is why I believe that is true. Before my discussion though, I think a definition of perspectives would be helpful. There are some of us, including myself to a certain degree, who believe that we are living under a corporate oligarchy and as such the common pretense that our national fate is in the hands of the majority’s vote, is but pleasant mythology. I wrote about this in my guest blog Published 1, March 17, 2012: .One logical conclusion that can be drawn from believing that democracy is an illusion, is that voting is a wasted effort, since whatever person we choose will either be a corporate stooge, or unelectable. I can respect those who draw that conclusion since the evidence of its truth is quite convincing. My own conclusion is not quite there yet, even though I do believe that we are under the rule of a coalition of the Military Industrial Complex and of the Corporate Elite. The redeeming feature to me is that I don’t believe in the homogeneity of the “ruling classes”. I think that they are made up of various factions and roiled by clashing egos. In my estimation voting for politicians thus has value because the vote affects the competition among our oligarchs. There is a qualitative difference for instance between Buffett/Gates and the Koch Brothers, in the sense that the former believe in more humane social policies and the latter have a draconian social view.

If one believes that Democracy is completely illusory, then why bother voting, since voting is a futile exercise? The logical conclusion of such a belief is to disdain all of American politics and politicians as being tools of the Oligarchy. From that perspective it isn’t a question of particular policy, since almost every player in normative politics is not to be trusted. So the question becomes how do the people change things when the political process is believed to be non-existent? Obviously, if it is ones view that America politics is a total sham, then a massive uprising of the people would be needed to make change. How does that uprising occur? Will its’ nature be peaceful, or violent? While I know there are “militias” out in the hills of places like Idaho, are they capable of banding together to overthrow our current government, I think not. Violent revolutions always seem to breed unforeseen and unpleasant excesses, which make their original aims moot. So the question becomes how do we effect a peaceful revolution? The answer is simple, but the process itself is immensely complex. A peaceful revolution can come about when you are able to convince an overwhelming majority of the people that the current system needs change and that they need to refuse to cooperate with it. Think of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When the media is in the hands of corporations though, the issue is one of how does the message of change come across to reach the populace? It’s a question I’ve pondered for years.

Back in the 60’s there was the idea of “dropping out” of a corrupt system. Its problem was that it was espoused by many and practiced by few. The truth was that for those “dropping out” the system didn’t miss their participation, nor would it now. A current conservative stratagem is to make voting harder, thereby limiting turnout of voters negative to their cause. We solve nothing by not voting. We could vote, but cast our votes for nascent opposition parties. This is not a bad premise in my estimation, even though in our loaded political system, minority party effectiveness is more limited than under parliamentary government. Let us think though about a minority party legislator’s ability to be effective once elected, since I assume that the process of gaining political power through organizing a minority party opposition would be slow and could be violently opposed.  Think of the police reactions to Occupy Wall Street. However, OWS does show that the elite can feel threatened by a mass movement.

When we discuss the election of someone whose political views are outside of what the “mainstream allows”, we need to take into account how much positive influence they can have on the political process, if they are unwilling to compromise their “political purity”. Let us take the real instance of Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist, as he does his job in the Senate. I believe that Bernie is the most ethical and perceptive Senator we have had in the Senate in a long time. He is also an effective Senator in terms of being able to not only put forth a progressive point of view, but to actually influence Senate activity. In order to be effective in the Senate, Bernie has had to compromise on certain issues and thus would certainly be seen from the orthodox socialist perspective to have sold out. In contrast let us take another man whose career I’ve admired, Dennis Kucinich. Dennis has been an aggressive/effective spokesman on a national level for unpopular, yet valid causes. Within the house though he has not been able to effectuate change simply because Dennis does not do compromise well

In today’s world a political change process is mainly effectuated in four ways:

1. Violent revolution, which is highly problematic at best.

2. Massive non cooperation with the system, ala Gandhi and King, which can be very successful based     

    upon the right circumstances.

3. Organizing and creating an opposition political movement, a possibly fruitful, yet hard process to carry  

    out with success..

4. Working within the system, imperfect as it may be, to effect slow change.

All of the above can be work to effect change in a given context, but one factor is a given no matter which method is chosen. To build a mass movement in a diverse population the need to compromise is paramount. This need to compromise is called “coalition building”. The Right has been effective at this for years when you think of the coalition between religious fundamentalists, lukewarm objectivists and outright corporatists. What would Jesus, Ayn Rand and even Adam Smith think of the ways their teachings have been presumably melded? In the past the Left also coalesced around certain issues, bringing together groups that were hardly homogeneous. However, from the 60’s onward building of coalitions on the Left has broken down. “Centrists” and “Liberals” became anathema to “progressives” and “radicals”. After all that he had accomplished Martin Luther King became an “Uncle Tom” in the minds of “Black Power” advocates for his refusal to entertain the concept of violence as a tool.

The Left coalition also began to break down in the 60’s over the issue of Viet Nam. Working class union members generally supported the war that was drafting and killing their children. The leadership of the AFL-CIO, who had striven to disassociate themselves from Marxism during the McCarthy era, had become part of the country’s establishment. As George Meany, the AFL-CIO President, began to play golf with Eisenhower and major industrialists, the Union movement swung away from its Left Wing roots. The fact that the labor movement was overwhelmingly “white working class” in an era where Blacks were demanding equal status also took its toll on the coalition between Big Labor and the Democratic Party. The AFL-CIO and Teamsters supported Richard Nixon in 1968..

The labor movement’s departure from coalition with the Democratic Party was to have devastating consequences for its strength. Their workers, doing well financially aspired to a scaled down version of the American Dream. The threat that competition with Blacks for jobs and with the Left’s critique of muscular foreign policy, helped drive white workers into the Republican Party. The fact that their leadership had become cozy with Management and Republicans led the way. The power of the labor movement waned until today it is a shadow of what it once was. The Left coalition forged under FDR and informed experientially by the “Great Depression”, began to fight amongst themselves. The battles increasingly became issues of “purity of political belief”. When a person’s political value is weighed on only specific issues that are politically “black and white”, coalition becomes almost impossible. Without the ability to coalesce “Movements” face severe limitations in their ability to grow.

I believe that in the desire for reforming our governance to work for the interests of all the people, all viable methods must be used. Of the four methods I list above I believe that only the latter three are really viable. A violent revolution in this country will only hasten the totality of oppression, since violent revolutions never seem to work out the way people have planned and that the people once having risen find themselves ruled harshly by those they so hopefully followed. Refute this premise if you will, but please don’t cite the American Revolution. While it certainly had violence it was a rebellion of colonies against an overseas colonial state. By revolution I mean the rebellion of a people in a certain geographical area against their own government. 

Methodologically, none of the three methods can work without bringing together people of differing standards via a coalition that accepts deviation from a “party line”. This seems obvious to me since rarely do those who wish change agree on all issues. Are there “deal breakers” that cannot brook compromise? That depends upon the individual, the perceived threat and the current circumstance. I have my own deal breakers, certainly, but I invoke them in context of my reading of the perceived threat.

What do you the reader think of the argument I’ve made? If you disagree please let me know, since I understand that on any given subject I can be wrong and I am really willing to learn. If you agree with me then what are your “deal breakers”? Perhaps if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.

 Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger




683 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Political Purity”

  1. Why these private charters are so expensive? What is included in their cost?

  2. About the regulations issue.

    Recently I read every Court of Appeals decision that had been handed down involving the DC Bar Counsel (the agency that regulates the ethical conduct of lawyers registered to practice law in DC).

    I see that they fought very hard, with taxpayer dollars, to hand down a 60-day suspension to a lawyer (sole practitioner, decidedly foreign sounding name) who had failed to give his client his file for FIVE DAYS. That’s five (5) days. Roman numeral V. Five.

    This same agency is now spending taxpayer dollars, LOTS OF THEM, to avoid MAKING a decision about a lawyer (partner in a big firm that has a good relationship with the various past and present bar presidents) who has failed to turn over the file for three (3) (Roman numeral III) YEARS.

    Regulation is what you make of it. We don’t necessarily even need MORE of it; we need RESPECT for it, on the part of the agencies who are taxed with the responsibility to carry it out.

    Of course, there’s that other factor…people who want to be free…to…

    And so many of them are officials in the government at one level or another. And so many others of them are lawyers. We’re ****ed.

  3. Skip,

    Your failure to do the assigned homework in reading, let alone understanding, the “Good Law” thread and the arguments contained in the article proper and the comments is not going to get me to repeat myself. Obejectivism is flawed in its principle assumptions about human nature and that was throughly outlined in that thread. That has been proven time and again on this blog. I also suggest the supporting arguments found in any number of the threads on this blog concerning Ayn Rand (or her various political disciples).

    No pro-Objectivist has ever won an argument in favor of their positions here in this realm frequented by critical thinkers.


    It is a “philosophy”/religion that appeals to ignorance, selfishness, greed and ego.

    As to your ill-informed and manifestly ignorant opinion that the article was “crap”, if you think you can write something that is more persuasive, factual and logical and that can garner the most hits and comments on an award winning blog, you are welcome to take a swing at it, Oh He Who Cannot Summarize Even His Own Views Cogently.

    Oh, that’s right, you have tried.

    And failed miserably.

    Go back to the kiddie pool, skip.

    Or better yet, get back to work doing something else somewhere else in an equally substandard manner as you have presented your case to date here.

  4. @Skip: You do not believe in what is best for the majority, if you did, you would let the majority decide, and accept that decision even if you personally did not care for it. The fact is that nowhere does the majority decide that what they want is the armed anarchy you advocate.

    Which tells us that all you really care about is yourself, and you would impose upon the majority a system they did not want simply because you think it would be better for you. That is the modus operandi of a wannabe dictator, it is the call of a sociopath to avoid punishment for their evil acts.

    There is some substance for you: The vast majority of people, in this country and others, want their government to regulate businesses and protect consumers from bad actors. Any call to eliminate regulation is distinctly anti-majority and self-oriented and is pretty exclusively made by people that fervently wish to violate the very regulations they want abolished, but dare not violate them because of the punishments they would suffer.

    The very existence of your call to abolish those regulations the majority supports is the proof that the regulations work and are a deterrent; and your call to abolish them is only due to your desire to commit with impunity what is currently a crime.

  5. You’ll have to do better than that, skippy.

    You have no credibility when it comes to the presentation of facts or logic given how many times you’ve been proven wrong on both counts. People provide you with proof(s) and your routine response is to ignore said proof(s). You yourself haven’t proven jackshit other than that you are without a doubt ignorant and not very intelligent in every meaning of that word.

    As to whether or not Objectivism is a political philosophy or a religion? It is both and the proofs for that proposition have already been presented in the “Good Law/Bad Law” thread. Any system of thought can cross the border into religion if you accept an unquestioning belief in it when presented with evidence that its postulates are anything but true. In that respect, many if not most Objectivists treat their “philosophy” as a religion despite the copious evidence that it is both based in fundamentally wrong assertions about human nature, ethically deficient in general as a rationalization for simple selfishness and that their suggested solutions to social problems lead to anarchy and/or tyranny in application (not so oddly enough the same issue that the Objectivist spawned Libertarians have with most of their proposed solutions).

    You really should go find a place to demonstrate your “skills” that is more appropriate to your skill level. Like Nickelodeon. You are way out of your depth here and have been since your first utterances.

    1. “fundamentally wrong assertions about human nature”

      Criticize, Criticize and now you going tell us about what human nature is Gene. What wrong assertions about human nature? That some people need to steal from others?

      Give me some substance buddy. Your good/bad law logic essay was crap. Oh, that’s right, Gene, the all knowing, knows what in the best interest of the majority. Do you ever go back and ever read what you write.

  6. “I come here to advance unpopular views. , to seek the truth and to learn.

    Accuracy is important.

    Also, the entire post was a fine example of the logical fallacy of inverse/reverse argumentum ad populum. The proposition: the fact most people believe in X implies that it is false. That’s a fairly rare form of the fallacy, but not an uncommon tactic among propagandists, and logically it has the same but opposite form as the traditional argumentum ad populum which is borne in the proposition: the fact that most people believe X means X is true by implication. It is a logical error that is similar to the guilt by association, the ad hominem, and the (various) appeal(s) to emotion fallacies. The similarity arises in that like those other forms of fallacy, the inverse/reverse argumentum ad populum invokes contempt for the general populace or something about the general populace in order to persuade them that most are wrong about X. Either you’ve acquired a fairly sophisticated propaganda tool or your are plumbing new depths of logical error.

    Your contempt for other ideas and arguments does not make them prime facie false, Bron, and you lose your arguments because yours are often factually incorrect and/or usually loaded with such logical errors and fallacies as the one you are committing above. Even though your ideas are contemptible to many, that is also not what makes your arguments wrong/fail on their face. To think that would be the form proper of the traditional argumentum ad populum fallacy. Others cannot/could not defeat your arguments based on their contempt alone any more than you could defeat theirs.

    The reason you lose your arguments is because others use logically sound argumentation based in fact against you. When you argue from factually incorrect, dogmatic and – yes – emotionally laden positions, you have defeated yourself before you started. In short, you don’t lose your arguments because they are unpopular and/or people find them reprehensible, but because rather you lose your arguments because your facts, propositions and logic all fundamentally flawed.

    That you continue to put forth the same arguments time and again in the face of contrary logic and facts that bolster argumentation that bests you every single time indicates that you are indeed not here to learn, but rather to preach your gospel and spread your dogma. Most people when proven wrong take in the new knowledge derived and integrate it and/or adjust their world view accordingly. You do not do this. You double down on your losing positions every time. You come not to seek the truth, but to propagandize your unpopular ideas. Ideas that are unpopular because they do not withstand critical logical and evidentiary scrutiny and produce undesirable outcomes under any ethical standard than your dubious and flawed Objectivism.

    Your “philosophy” of choice is inherently irrational and predicated on false premises about both individuals and society as a whole and like any religion it can inspire zealotry in the unthinking and dogmatic.

    Your values are as twisted as any fundamentalist zealot and it is reflected in your poor argumentation and resistance to proof and logic contrary to your preconceptions acquired through your Objectivism. Your thinking is rigid. Your answers and opinions are predefined by your theories and this leads you to massive evidentiary biases and logical fallacies. You let your theories and opinions shape the way you select and present evidence instead of letting the evidence shape your theories and opinions. You are anti-scientific. Right down to your choice in “economists”.

    Because of this, you are primed for failure in the hard light of critical thinking.

    But don’t try to sell us that fib about you being here to learn or seek the truth. The patterns of your behavior and your own statements and admissions indicate that you are most certainly not interested in learning and that you think you have a corner on the truth. That truth being that anything that disagrees with your Objectivist/Libertarian dogma is (insert pejorative here). Your zealous devotion to your dogma is evidenced in your binary thinking. It’s either all or nothing.

    You are clearly here to proselytize.

    And like any propagandist without evidence, logic or persuasion on your side, you are relying upon repetition and volume in hopes some sucker will hit the bait of your lies and fallacies.

    How’s that working out for you, Oh Peddler of “Unpopular Ideas”?

    Clearly not so well.

    1. @Bron – You appear to make the more logical arguments and it is evidenced by Gene’s inability to provide anything of value to the debate. His constant criticism and denial of your logical arguments based on his unsubstantiated and illogical opinions is the only thing that he has done throughout this blog. He believes his opinions which you and I have shown him to be wrong and yet he just turned around and spews out, just as he did in his last post his opinion and criticism of your opinion, while adding not one iota of evidence to either disprove your position or prove his. His constant use of this technique, whatever it may be called and inability to provide valid historical evidence or even the opinons of others of his positions shows his dishonestly. His cohorts, Tony C., less Mike who I believe has just been fooled by his articulate trickery, I have also shown time and time again, to be flat out wrong in both opinion and facts, provides additional support of the dishonesty within Genes intent. As was Karl Marxs dishonesty of the fallacies of govenments ability to solve social problems, using various socialistic methods, so is Genes. He may not recognize it, but he has fallen for one of the worst scams and logical fallacies in world history.

      Gene stated: “Your “philosophy” of choice is inherently irrational and predicated on false premises about both individuals and society as a whole and like any religion it can inspire zealotry in the unthinking and dogmatic.”

      Prove that one Gene?????? and 2. Objectivism is really a political philosophy not a religion. Read dude.

      Bron, When you attempt to take power away from someone or the oligarchy, how can that be deemed zealotry? Yet that is what Gene calls your mission. The pot calling the ketty black.

  7. @Bron: I might point out that the popularity of a particular point of view does not necessarily make it correct.

    That is true, but the unpopularity of a point of view, especially one around for generations, makes it a good bet for being incorrect.

    Opposing views are necessary to truth,

    No they aren’t. In my view, a 500F hot iron rod rested directly on my flesh for ten seconds is going to burn me bad. I do not need an opposing view for that to be the truth.

    Even philosophical views, like a right to life or liberty, do not require an opposing view to be true, pretty much anybody that opposes that view wants to deny people the rights to life and liberty.

    Your views do not do anything to validate our views, our views are validated for us by the positive effects of their application in our eyes.

    You do not come here to provide a service, or seek the truth. You have long ago committed to selfishness as your path, you have decided upon the truth and won’t be budged. You won’t learn because you will not be taught anything that disagrees with what you already know. Those are all self-serving lies.

  8. @Bron: Derision is not censorship. To present an extreme case to delineate the difference for you, if you espouse that everybody should be allowed to get away with one murder in life, we aren’t censoring you to call that an idiotic idea, and you a fool for proposing it. Or, for a more realistic example, consider honor killings; in some countries it is legal for a man to kill his daughter if she loses her virginity before marriage, by choice or by rape. If somebody proposes that honor killings might be a good idea in America, we won’t censor them, but me and you (I presume) would both call that murder and unquestionably a bad idea, a daughter is not property to be disposed of if “ruined” in the eyes of her father.

    We do not censor you, we judge you, and we call you names because you deserve those names, you are a despicable human being that would harm others for your personal greed and that gets a chuckle out of causing pain and distress to others.

    I do not believe you come to seek the truth or learn anything, people that learn change their stance in time. You do not, no matter how many times we point out the logical flaws in your claims, you eventually re-make the same claims.

    You do not come here to learn anything, you come here because you are a sociopath that likes to poke the bear with a needle from a safe distance and get a reaction, because you think the reaction is funny. And you think we do not know that is why you come here.

    Well, we do know, and we reply for our own reasons, which I doubt you can figure out, because I doubt you have the neural equipment needed.

  9. Gene H asked me why I come here, I will answer.

    I come here to express an opposing view, obviously unpopular with the denizens of this blog. What is interesting though, is that by expressing my views I am subject to derision, scorn and ridicule on a blog supposedly dedicated to the free expression of ideas no matter how bad they may seem to some. I would argue that by calling me a sociopath because of my divergent views you are curtailing my liberty [to tie into Mike Spindell’s excellent article], you are bullying me and trying to induce me to back off my honestly acquired beliefs. I would argue this is illegitimate in any society or microcosm thereof which dedicates itself to freedom. Any censorship is morally wrong, whether it be the outright censorship of totalitarian governments or the soft censorship of calling those with whom you disagree names.

    I might point out that the popularity of a particular point of view does not necessarily make it correct. Opposing views are necessary to truth, as I have learned by reading what is written on these pages by people who know far more than I do about law and philosophy. But freedom is the right of an individual to hold and advance unpopular views.

    I come here to advance unpopular views, to seek the truth and to learn.

  10. even though people are not forced to work at all.
    People who aren’t forced to work at all, work because they want to.

  11. @Bron: That is true, environmental Marxist have decimated our ability to use the coal and oil and natural gas we do have.

    That is besides the point. We have plenty of natural resources above and beyond the unhealthy ones. Are you going to argue that those are ALL WE HAVE? I would find such an argument ludicrous.

    Since we have plenty of natural resources (including safe mining, water, sea, industry and arable land resources they do not have) it isn’t their natural resources that makes the Scandinavians happy and us not happy. Hell, we even have better weather, on average.

    So it must be something else. It is something else; they are happier because they are less stressed and have fewer worries, both financially and existentially.

    They have less crime because they have far less of the desperation that drives crime, less crime also means less worry.

    They do not worry about retirement, or unemployment, and even in their jobs (such as in Norway) their bosses treat them better and subject them to less emotionally driven stress because employees do not have to put up with bosses that are jerks exploiting their position of power.

    Polite and professional management produces a happier work force and actually leads to greater voluntary participation in the work force, so their unemployment is lower, even though people are not forced to work at all.

    The net result of socialist policies that provide a safety net is greater productivity, less unemployment, more entrepreneurship, a healthier people, a healthier workplace, and ultimately a HAPPIER people.

    Maximizing selfishness maximizes stress, anxiety and despair, and maximizes unhappiness and misery. So far, the happiest places on Earth are a mix of socialism for the things that are life-threatening or life-changing, and well regulated capitalism for everything else.

    They are not the communists, or the dictatorships, or the lawless frontier regions where anything goes (the truly free markets), and they are not America. They are the countries that struck a good balance between a market-based economy and a society-wide safety net.

  12. Bron,

    You’re proving that idiots have access to computers when the medication nurse is out of the room.

  13. Bron,

    The fact that you continue to attack everybody proves you are a sociopath. Death by a thousand cuts. It’s the way your brain is wired. You are what you are.

    I worked 480 volt switchboards hot at sea. You don’t have what it takes.

  14. Your opinion about what is right is not the same as proof of what is right. As to your misuse of the word “rhetorical”? That’s simply par for the course. There is a specific word for what you are trying to say, but I’ll let you try to figure out what it is as a vocabulary exercise. Here’s a hint: it starts with either L, T, N or S. Even if you do figure out which word I mean, it would still require proof that I’m either wrong or lying for be a valid accusation and simply not more of your ill-informed and unreasoned opinions.

    You’ll have to do better than that, Bron.

    Non-responsive deflection.

    Answer the question:

    What do you get by coming here?

    It’s a simple question if you know yourself, but it may not be so simple to answer while retaining the illusion that you’re fooling anyone but yourself as to your true nature.

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