- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Gee, Bill Buckley, and the Reductio ad Hitlerum

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 10, 19100 at 11:08:13:

In Reply to: quizzes and trying to make associations posted by Gee on December 30, 1999 at 13:57:57:

: : Who said:

: :

: : This whole edifice of civilization is in its foundations and in all its stones nothing else than the result of the creative capacity, the achievement, the intelligence, the industry, of individuals: in its greatest triumphs it represents the great crowning achievement of individual God-favored geniuses, in its average accomplishment the achievement of men of average capacity, and in its sum doubtless the result of the use of human labor-force in order to turn to account the creations of genius and of talent.
: :

: :
: : Was it Ayn Rand (the ideological mentor of Leonard Peikoff)---or was it Hitler?

: Is the intention here to associate Rand with Hitler, or the above passage with Nazi-ism?

: In either case it fails.

: If Hitler was evil (and by all standards I know of he was) then must than mean that every thing he did or said was evil too? That if he had uttered 2+2=4 then to utter it henceforth would make one a Nazi?

: Therefore if he is quoted as saying anything similar to what Stalin, Lenin, Rand, Lark, Alice in Wonderland or any other individual may have said - does that automatically indicate the latter person *must* be a Nazi too?

: Ofcourse not. Such associations are without meaning. Fun to make, I'm sure - but without meaning or impact.

Sorry, Gee, but IN THIS CONTEXT the quote is in fact meaningful. The point was made that 1) Hitlker did not believe in individualism, 2) neither does 'the left', 3) therefore Hitler is a leftist. If you can show that wither of these premises is false, then the conclusion becomes invalid. In fact, both 1) and 2) are false. MDG demolished argument 2) and Barry in the post above attempted to take apart argument 1). As such, any evidence about Hitler's views on individualism are admissible evidence.

Second of all, remember when you yourslef used the reductio ad Hitlerum argument against Barry, saying that "You advocate vanguardism, so did Hitler, ergo...." something like that. The point bveing missed is that it's IMPOSSIVBLE to declare a specific action categorically right or wrong unless you look at the context, intentions, etcetera. Killing may be wrong, for exaqmple, but not when the person to eb killed is a vicious criminal who had been duly tried and convicted. the idea of a categorical ethic seems appealing, but then consider what the rabid conservative Bill Buckley (hardly a great favorite of mine) had to say about it. "Quod licet jovi non licet bovi", or "what is permitted to God is not permitted for the cow." In other words, there is a difference between pushing an old woman in front of a car (malevolent fascism) and pushing her away from the car. (benevolent socialism). You can't subsume both under the same rubric of pushing people around.

Of course Bill Buckley's ideas of right and wrong are approximately inverted, (this IS the man who preferred Pinochet to Allende, after all) but he's got his handle on the right principle here.

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