Dr. John Lewis Speaks at NYU Objectivist Club

Dan Edge's picture
Submitted by Dan Edge on Fri, 2006-09-22 19:39

Dr. Lewis delivered a fantastic lecture on the Islamic threat this past Wednesday (9/20) at an event sponsored by the NYU Objectivist club.  Dr. Lewis made two very important points that evening: 1) We must push for the unconditional surrender of the Islamic Totalitarian state in Iran, and 2) Once they surrender we must demand the separation of religion and state in Iran.  This point #2 concretized this issue for me more clearly than ever before. 

We must tell the Iranians: "Islam has no place in your government."  No elements of Islamic law can be permitted in their government.  The teaching of militant Islam must be shut down, by force if necessary (this may require the destruction of schools and mosques).  The flow of public money to Islam must be stopped completely.  Religious leaders and teachers of militant Islam will not be allowed to participate in any new Iranian government.  The private practice of Islam will be left alone, but all elements of Islam in the government must be destroyed.

Does this sound extreme or unattainable?  As Dr. Lewis explained (very effectively) Wednesday night, the United States did exactly these things in Japan after World War II.  The military forced Japan to completely destroy all elements of the death worshiping Shinto religion in their government.  This was enforced, and Japan grew very quickly into an American ally.

I can't recommend Dr. Lewis's lecture enough.  He stayed to answer questions until we were forced to leave by university staff.  He then accompanied a group of us to a restaurant, to eat and drink coffee and talk into the wee hours of the morning.  I got a very positive impression of the man as a human being.  I’m going to have to have to subscribe to TOS to read his articles.

 
--Dan Edge


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Jim - PHM. "Ferkramptedik?"

AdamReed's picture

Yes, there is such a thing, and it is just as irrational as it sounds. And frequently in evidence. I wish there were a non-technical term for it, because the word for this one sounds like psychobabble. Want to get creative? How about a naming contest? Or, on second thought, maybe we don't need to. A male with PHM acts just like a woman with PMS, but all the time. So how about we just follow the Yiddish and say "ferkramptedik" for both...

Adam

James S. Valliant's picture

I'm with my buddy, Marcus, here...

"Projective hypermasculinity"?!

Say what?!

Projective hypermasculinity?

Marcus's picture

Good God!

Is this a SOLO thread on a potential war with Iran or a group therapy session for transsexual pre-ops?
Smiling

Bill V

AdamReed's picture

OK. No suspicions now.

Adam

Bill Visconti's picture

Thanks for the Wiki info on total war. I was using it as a descriptive phrase to essentialize Brook's and Lewis' approach. I think I may have been wrong in that regard (I have to do more research beyond Wiki though). I picked up the term from a discussion on a military history forum. But, its possible that I overlooked the fact that the term has a history of meaning something other than what I ascribed to it. I thought it meant the willingness to use whatever force neccessary to achieve victory as opposed to altruistic self-restraint. But there may be an element of blood-lust and senseless war-mongering attached to the term. Thanks for that.

As for the all that sadism and projective hypermasculinity, well, I guess I asked for it by calling some people pussies.

Bill V

AdamReed's picture

Wikipedia: "Total war was a prescription for the actual waging of war typified by the ideas of General Erich von Ludendorff, who actually assumed control of the German war effort during World War One, in his 1935 book "Total War." Total war in this sense involved the total subordination of politics to the war effort..."

So our suspicions have been mutual - since Brook, Epstein, Lewis and others carefully avoid the phrase "total war," because of what it actually means. Given your deliberate injection of a phrase they've gone to some lengths to avoid, it becomes reasonable to suspect that you come to the discussion with an additional agenda.

I assure you that I have no agenda other than my own self-interest, informed by my own knowledge and personal experience. Specifically, I have no altruist or religious agenda, and no part of any altruist or religious ideology.

I hope for a similar assurance on your part with respect to the many collectivisms (national, racial etc.) and other irrationalities (sadism, projective hypermasculinity etc.) that unfortunately pervade our culture. At that point we can forget the suspicions and move on to productive discussion.

Adam

Bill Visconti's picture

I was using "total war" as a short hand label for what Brook and Lewis have been advocating, not for indiscriminate killing. You are setting up a straw man. No one on this forum has advocated indiscriminate killing. But many have placed such high emphasis on not killing "innocents" that they have de facto made true self-defense impossible. I am uncertain if that applies to you but I have my suspicions.

Outstanding Lecture

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

I think that Dan Edge gave a very fair and accurate representation of John Lewis's lecture. Professor Lewis also got a loud and very sustained ovation at the end from about 125 rather rapt listeners.

This lecture, altho' not noticeably different from previous ones by him, nevertheless seemed to break new ground. I agree with Dan that the way Lewis argued for separation of mosque (he still called it "church") and state was exceptionally convincing. Even if Islam has never had this historically, it needs it now. 

Professor Lewis clearly pointed out something that few Westerners today realize: when America defeated Japan in WWII the US made a point to obliterate their militaristic Shinto fascist ideology as backed by the state -- but the US allowed it to continue unmolested in private. This meant: respect for individual free thought and freedom of philosophy (religion) but no Japanese government teaching of Shinto-style militarism in government schools, nor in radio and t'v' broadcasts, nor in the print media, nor any government funding for Shinto temples and shrines. America crushed and repressed the state-recognized version of this evil ideology ruthlessly and without a second thought. This was America's ideology of "no establishment of religion" brought directly to Japan. 

What a horror that this didn't happend in Afghanistan and Iraq! I think the West should have rewritten their constitutions and enforced Western liberalism from Day One and to hell with multi-cultural respect for their traditional (backward, fascist, evil) culture of government. Muslims worldwide need a complete separation of mosque and state -- which, historically, has never happened. The result in Asia might have been completely different from today's fiasco.

Perhaps John Lewis didn't have a good answer for nuclear-armed Pakistan other than "really get Iran" and set a fearsome example, but it was still a very clear-thinking clarion call for victory in our War on Islam, and a generally outstanding lecture.

---

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

(accidental duplicate)

Bill Visconti

AdamReed's picture

Bill - "Moral" means "in one's own objective interest." I could not find an endorsement of "total war" either in the writings of Drs. Brook and Epstein, or in the writings of any other Objectivist intellectual (the Objectivism-plated Conservatives at TIA don't count.) A moral war needs to go as far as may be necessary - specifically not excluding the use of nuclear weapons and material devastation and any civilian deaths that may be necessary in the given context - but no farther. As Brook and Epstein write in their TOS article,

That said, if it is possible to isolate innocent individuals—such as dissidents, freedom fighters, and children—without military cost, they should not be killed; it is unjust and against one’s rational self-interest to senselessly kill the innocent; it is good to have more rational, pro-America people in the world. Rational, selfish soldiers do not desire mindless destruction of anyone, let alone innocents; they are willing to kill only because they desire freedom and realize that it requires using force against those who initiate force. Insofar as the innocents cannot be isolated in the achievement of our military objectives, however, sparing their lives means sacrificing our own; and although the loss of their lives is unfortunate, we should kill them without hesitation.

Repeat: Rational, selfish soldiers do not desire mindless destruction of anyone. Creating the impression that you do - and that is the implicature of "total war" - is certainly not in the interest of any rational person.

Bill wrote: The very

Mike_M's picture

Bill wrote:

The very strategy you are advocating was a version of the total war approach that those Objectivist "Attillas" have been defending. Again, its the same crap. Demonize those advocating a moral case for total war.

I don't think Adam was claiming that, for example, Lewis or Biddle are reifications of the Attila charicatures. Rather, I think he is criticising Coates and others who have equated the approach of Lewis or Biddle or Brook as "genocide" and "Nazi."

- Mike

"Observe that we are tolerant, but only of honesty, not of evasion." - Ayn Rand

Adam

Bill Visconti's picture

"US victories over Nazi Germany and Shintoist Japan are the model of doing it right..."

Those US victories involved the nuclear inceneration of two cities and the total devestation of nearly two countries. So what's with this nonsense:

"What we don't need are "Objectivists" who do their utmost to reify the altruist's caricature of Randians as reincarnation of Ol' Dzhenghis and Attilla the Hun (and yes, we've seen some of them right here on SOLO.) Rational, contextual self-interest, guys."

The very strategy you are advocating was a version of the total war approach that those Objectivist "Attillas" have been defending. Again, its the same crap. Demonize those advocating a moral case for total war.

Questions

Bill Visconti's picture

Did Dr. Lewis advocate an occupation of Iran? Did he offer any ideas on a strategy of war against Iran that did not involve trying to reform their government and culture after military defeat?

John Lewis

Mike_M's picture

Letters and replies about the Sherman article and the Just War article are now up on the TOS website. Enjoy.

- Mike

"Observe that we are tolerant, but only of honesty, not of evasion." - Ayn Rand

Thank you, Dan

AdamReed's picture

Dan - You write, "Does this sound extreme or unattainable? As Dr. Lewis explained (very effectively) Wednesday night, the United States did exactly these things in Japan after World War II. The military forced Japan to completely destroy all elements of the death worshiping Shinto religion in their government. This was enforced, and Japan grew very quickly into an American ally."

Thank you. This is exactly what I've been writing here. US victories over Nazi Germany and Shintoist Japan are the model of doing it right: Identify the conditions of victory, and do no more and no less than necessary to get there.

What we don't need are "Objectivists" who do their utmost to reify the altruist's caricature of Randians as reincarnation of Ol' Dzhenghis and Attilla the Hun (and yes, we've seen some of them right here on SOLO.) Rational, contextual self-interest, guys.

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