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The perpetual conflict between the individual and the collective continues
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#1018929 added October 31, 2021 at 7:43am
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Introductions: The Players
Today we have four speakers to entertain us, five if you include my comments. Dr. Jill Vickers and Dr. Gerald Caplan will speak for the socialist view, while Dr. Leonard Peikoff and Dr. John Ridpath will lend their perspectives         







(LCW) There are five players in this dance of ideas. My thoughts may be interpreted in any way you wish. They are mine alone, and while I have a fairly adequate knowledge of Objectivism as well as Ayn Rand, the final conclusions drawn are my own and in many ways quite distinct from the originals presented by Rand. I am beholden to Rand, and yet owe her no allegiance. I accept or reject her writings based on my ability to interpret, comprehend and integrate her thoughts and concepts into my own brand of philosophy.

They have ceased in many ways of being hers, and are now mine alone. Agree or not, that is my perspective. Ayn was the messenger, and her actions in a personal realm, are not of any real consequence to me. Her ideology, on the other hand, has been instrumental in the creation and evolution of my own. Objectivism is my focus, and I think that this debate is an excellent example of what she attempted to present in all of her body of work. The arguments made are indicative of the essence of Objectivism, and I hope to bring some clarity to those that have seen the debate, heard the arguments, and contemplated the ramifications of the choices offered.

The socialist camp is represented by Jill Vickers, introduced as a feminist socialist and professor of political science at Carleton University in Ottawa, as well as associate director of the Institute of Canadian Studies and National Secretary for the Association of Canadian Studies concerned with the rights and status of women. She has written a number of books and articles on this subject, the latest of which is entitled ‘In Pursuit of Patriarchy’, a political theory of sex and power. She received her PhD from the London School of Economics in 1971, has been president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, and was a federal candidate for the New Democratic Party in 1979. Active in the Canadian Women’s movement, she now serves on the Board of the Canadian Research Institute for the advancement of women and is secretary of the Canadian Women’s Studies Association.

I include these credentials for those that may not remember from the video. The list is rather extensive. I am somewhat disappointed that she has little experience in the subjects that will be discussed, except perhaps in the field of economics which would relate to the economic system covered, except for the fact that this is fundamentally a conversation about the morals of an ideological movement and a standard for behaviour, and not the underlying economics, no matter how important that may be. She certainly has the right to her opinion, but in this case, it can only be speculation as to how much knowledge she has to address the concept of morality in socialism.

It must be noted that I am devoid of any PhDs or Ma’s or Ba’s for that matter, but I was not chosen to represent either of the camps. I am simply inserting my own personal observations and comments since it is an intriguing and compelling topic to contemplate. I am uncertain as well as to how the subject of feminism plays a part in the debate, and I think it ended up coming across as a certain degree of unpreparedness on her part. She has a number of comments worth noting but lacked both specificity and clarity.

The other member of the socialist camp is Gerald Caplan, a Federal Secretary to the New Democratic Party of Canada. He received his Ph.D. in African studies at the University of London in 1967, and his MA in Canadian History. He was a Professor of History at the University of Rhodesia and Third World Studies here at the University of Toronto through the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. His authorship includes numerous books and articles in the fields of Canadian History and Third World Politics for two years. He was Director of the Cuso-Nigeria Program and returned from Africa to become Senior Advisor to Mr. Stephen Lewis while Mr. Lewis was the leader of the Ontario NDP. Prior to his acceptance of the position of Federal Secretary, he was Director of the Health Advocacy Unit of the Department of Public Health for the city of Toronto.

Again, I have to voice my disappointment that the two representatives chosen are more politically based in ongoing political issues than something on the level of philosophies and morality. Both of these individuals showed an obvious lack of understanding of capitalism and certainly of Objectivism, and ironically, socialism as well, so it was not surprising that their comments, both pro-socialism and anti-capitalism were pedantic and under-informed. Still, it was the source for much of what I will be talking about. I will attempt to create and promote comments that are more in line with the focus of morality, socialism and Objectivism, and leave the personalities aside. I hope you understand.

On the almost unaddressed side of Objectivism, and defending capitalism, are two gentlemen with a bit more background with the issues under consideration. Mr. Leonard Peikoff, someone with who I am well acquainted, and a Mr. John Ridpath, who is a new personality for me. By the way, I had no prior knowledge of either of the ‘socialist’ defenders.

Dr. Leonard Peikoff is an author and Professor of Philosophy from New York City. He is acknowledged by some to be the ‘heir’ to the late Ayn Rand, Philosopher and author novelist, the creator of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Dr. Peikoff received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1964 under Sydney Hook at New York University. A native of Winnipeg, he has lived in New York since 1953 and was a friend and intellectual associate of Ayn Rand for those 30 years. He has taught Philosophy for 17 years at Hunter College, Long Island, and New York Universities. His lecture courses on Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Objectivism are heard on tape in over one hundred cities in North America. Dr. Pickoff’s latest publication is ‘The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America’ and he is currently working on the ‘Unpublished Works of Ayn Rand’, the motion picture production of Atlas Shrugged, a new lecture series, another series on ‘Understanding Objectivism’ and a new book dealing with the philosophy of education in North America.

While fairly well acquainted with Peikoff, after Rand’s death, I found much of his work to digress and misinterpret my own understanding of the work of Rand. I found him somewhat self-absorbed and focused on his own version of Objectivism and visions for the future. I found much of his work lacking in interest for me. I say this in the interest of showing that I am not his biggest fan, nothing else. I make my own decisions, and give respect where I determine it is warranted. Having said that, he was a strong representative of Objectivism and capitalism in the context of this ‘debate’, and I give him recognition.

The other representative on the capitalist side is Dr. John Ridpath. Dr. Ridpath is an Associate Professor of economics and intellectual history at York University here in Toronto. He is a recipient of the prestigious award given by the Ontario Council of University Faculty Associations for Outstanding Contributions to University Teaching. He received his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Virginia in 1974. His scholastic interests are Political Economy and Basic Economic Theory, with a special interest in the history of individual rights, the fundamental principles of Marxism, and the history of fundamental ideas and their impact on social change. He is an Advisor to the National Foundation for Public Policy Development, a new Canadian think tank and he is a contributing speechwriter for Mr. Brian Mulroney, leader of the Federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Dr. Ridpath has spoken at numerous engagements, including the Federal Progressive Conservative Party Conference of Canada and the Thomas Jefferson Institute in San Diego.

This has been included primarily as informational. Background is an important aspect of understanding the player involved, and can certainly offer a perspective on their own personal paradigm in the context of the debate being attempted. I find the backgrounds a bit incongruous, and that may be a part of what I think worked against this being an actual debate. The backgrounds are disparate, and I think it obvious going forward, that the lack of parity diminished what was otherwise a fascinating and compelling discussion.


(LCW) My god! (rhetorically) The debate was a bit long, and somewhat painful, but illuminating nonetheless. Over 35 years ago, and it seems nothing has changed, except possibly my confidence that this country was going in the right direction.

I thought both sides made some unfortunate comments, and the capitalist did nothing to help their cause when they did. They let their focus stray at times, but at least attempted to try and stay on topic.

Our socialist friends seemed to make it a point to stay away from the target of the debate. Some of the comments were completely unacceptable and intended to demean and vilify every aspect brought up. In fact, they seemed intent to only discuss the opposition’s positions, and the amount of misinformation was borne either of ignorance or by intent.

Unfortunately, it was a carbon copy of my own experiences when trying to actually have a reasoned argument about these kinds of issues. I would like to critique the entire conversation, from both sides, but am afraid it would encompass an entire novel-length essay. Perhaps I will, but don't look for it for at least a few years.

The concepts of Objectivism should have been included more than just a defense of capitalism, since the socialists made some good points as to the perceived shortcomings of capitalism, as it exists today. My perspective remains, as it has been for some time, that capitalism needs a major clean-up to live up to its potential. I am at a loss as to how to accomplish this with the form of government we are saddled with today, but Objectivism would be a prerequisite.

I am hopeful but will not be around to see what happens. It ain't gonna happen tomorrow.

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