How about instead of complaining that you were so misrepresented, explain what your actual beliefs are? If you are not interested in doing so, why bother responding at all?

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> To understand Jaffa, you had to know his love for boxing was deeper than just sport. He was an advocate for fitness and manly pursuits.

Is this a serious comment about a serious intellectual issue? I ask, of course, in a manly way...

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"And you know what you know in your head."

-Cream, 1960s, psychedelic, bluesrock group

Root's nationalist hatred of individual rights is clear. His Declaration is merely a symbol of his new God, the Nation, without any interfering rational content or context. His difference from the Left is merely the trivia of sacrificing man's sacred mind to the Nation vs. sacrificing it to communist equality. And, without mind and its need for defining our perception-based reasoning about reality, as Aristotle taught, there is no science. Merely a whirlwind that rationalizes evasion. Let us hope that the nationalist whirlwinds of the 1940s, destroyed at such a horrifying cost, remain a memory of life without individual rights. But individual rights protect the mind, the main enemy of nationalists. For nationalists, the center does hold, but it's a scarecrow hiding mindless brutality. Strength without purpose. Will without mind, as Nietzsche's virtually psychedelic blathering about the overman made clear.

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Your off-target comments about Rand, and seeking to downplay Thompson by tying them together, seems a very superficial response. By retreating to guilt by association - to an ad hominem caricature no less - makes you come across as avoiding taking the argument directly to Thompson and his own arguments. It's unpersuasive.

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Wow, what a dishonest piece. The entire article is in short "C. Bradley Thompson, that scary "Randian" guy said "X", he's wrong! But I won't use reason and evidence to prove my point, I won't quote Mr Thompson on his view of BAP or Leo Strauss and then provide counter-quotes to prove the error of his argument. No, we live in the age of post-truth after all, so all I need to do is just assert that he's wrong and it will be true for me!"

Well, it may be true for you Mr Root, but it certainly isn't for me or any honesty objective consumer of this article.

Any honest person who wants to defend himself against the alleged misrepresentation of his views just needs to do two things, quote his critic accurately, then state explicitly what ideas it is that he actually holds so that the reader can see how his ideas have been falsely characterised. But you don't do that in this article Mr Root. Your article boils down to "Mr Thompson got me wrong - take my word for it."

I think that the dishonesty shines clearest when Mr Root says that "the argument for a simple return to the Founding is limited and unpersuasive in the digital age." Why is that? Do these "timeless truths" as Mr Root states, not apply in the present day? Is truth absolute or relative? Does "the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" disappear with the creation of Facebook? If so, then these truths are not "timeless" are they? Do principles change with the times, Mr Root? Was property rights good for the 18th century but not for the 21st century?

And as for the comment "If it were persuasive, we would not be here" well, are we to give up on what is true if it is not persuasive? And if we're giving up on truth what then is our guiding principle - your subjective whim? Maybe it's the arguments you are using Mr Root that are not persuasive, I mean "natural rights" please. God doesn't exist, and there is no evidence for him, so a theory of rights which rests on his existence and his capacity to instil these rights in us is going to be unpersuasive isn't it? Or maybe, with the shockingly bad progressive education system in America too few people are aware of such arguments. But let's not forget the population of the united states is only around 360m, so how much time would we expect these persuasive arguments to affect? If history has taught us anything is that ideas take a lot of time to be accepted and to spread.

As for the "variety of forms of republicanism" which is allegedly attributed to the thought of the Founding Fathers, there is only one form of Republicanism that motivated them and that was clearly a Constitutional Republic, that is, a unique form of Government which is heavily limited in its function, limited to securing liberty. Individual rights were the guiding principle of the founding fathers and to secure these rights they instituted a government it says so in the opening paragraph of the declaration. Individual rights was the root principle that guided their actions. Although they were not perfect in its application, the form of Republicanism that they wanted was one that placed individual liberty at its heart and bound Government with a constitutional document that bound its action.

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Erik S. Root wrote: "Thompson is trying to steal the audience of the Claremont Institute..."

Oh please. Readers can read more than one media outlet and make their own decisions. No one *owns* their audience so there is nothing to "steal."

As for your dishonest smears about Ayn Rand, you have indicated what you are a disciple of: dishonesty.

Whatever your "mindset" is, it isn't American.

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> steal the audience

ie, provide evidence for a view. Or, perhaps, we should return to the claim that the Sun orbits the Earth. Oh, my God, Galileo stole Ptolemy's audience! These nationalist conservatives are not serious intellectuals, even from their own perspectives. They affirm, puff out their chests (in a manly way, of course), and provide metaphors for their emotions. I dont even see bad scholarship here. Its nonsense. I have the horrible feeling that my insults are going right over their heads. What a waste of wit!

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I call them "religious and politically illiterate leftists."

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"it is good to remind ourselves that the Declaration says nothing of the form of government per se."


Just to clarify, it's not only that Thompson is saying you don't understand the Declaration or any of America's founding documents, which is clear just by reading something like this article, but it's more that you are profoundly ANTI-Declaration. Although unlike progressives you do not even realize your own position.

Which makes it particularly funny when you write something like this:

"Suffice to say, Thompson does not understand those he attacks as they understand themselves, but then again, he’s not a careful thinker. "

The reality is that Thompson very much DOES understand you better than you understand yourself.

Not to be rude, but these response articles show zero grasp of even the most basic essentials to this topic.

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If we’re to believe Erik Root’s last sentence, then presumably he’s exited the discussion. I agree with the comments by Reed, Grossman and Louis, and only add that young people don’t need a political science professor for bicycling. I enjoy C. Bradley Thompson’s writings because they offer, among other things, a train of thought worth following. I’m very much looking forward to Thompson’s next book.

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This article is pretty much terrible. I struggled to even finish it.

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Two months ago a friend of mine sent the link to a YouTube video of a speech by Tom Klingenstein. It was titled Trump 2020: A Man vs A Movement. After viewing the speech I sent this message to my friend, on October 14th. This was well before I knew of your rebuttal to Brad Thompson's article,

"What this speaker has also done is unwittingly expose the horribly flawed position of conservative Republicans. At least he's clear who they are and what they stand for. While equal justice under law, self-reliance, and work ethic are strong virtues and Western values, volunteerism and patriotism for its own sake are contrary to our Founding principles. Even worse, he claims that religion teaches American values. No, John Locke, James Madison, Francis Bacon, Benjamin Franklin are some of the great minds that teach American values."

"To me, the left already owns education, media, and the deep state because conservatives are philosophically weak, they have surrendered the moral high ground with this speaker's claim about "a shared understanding of the common good." There is no such thing as the common good outside of individual rights derived by moral principles."

"He only talks about Trump in the last 2 1/2 minutes, and I agree with his assessment, except for the final statement: 'Trump's attributes are not always the attributes we want in a president.' He fails to differential Trump's virtues: courage, common sense, committed to America. The attributes of a president should always include a courageous, independent, individualist.

"This speaker cannot say that because he is not an individualist. Our Founders were, but this guy is a collectivist like the BLM Democrats he rightly condemns."

If you and Mr. Klingenstein represent Claremont Institute's positions, then it seems your claims of Thompson's lack of scholarship are typically shallow conservativism.

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Thompson saved his smear for the 57 min mark here. https://www.libertarianism.org/podcasts/free-thoughts/americas-revolutionary-mind

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A smear is a false accusation made publicly with the intention of harming a person's reputation. I found no such object in Thompson's statements at the end of the interview. You should name what you claim.

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And you, Mr. Root, are an example of a "careful thinker?" These thoughtful posted responses prove otherwise!

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C. Bradley Thompson’s piece Bronze-Age Pervert and the Strauss-O-Sphere and Erik Root’s reaction to it, Setting the Record Straight, are two very philosophically different pieces written for two very philosophically different audiences.

First the earlier of the two, Professor Thompson’s Bronze-Age Pervert and the Strauss-O-Sphere. Thompson writes for an audience that realizes, even if only implicitly, that life requires achieving things of value, that values must be real, because values must be real people must understand reality to achieve them, that reason is how to understand reality, and to be able to use reason we must figure out the facts of reality. So Thompson delivers the goods. He explains clearly what he’s talking about by presenting factual evidence to make his point, integrating and putting the facts into context, and identifying causal relationships (such as when he repeatedly asks “How did this happen?”).

Bronze-Age Pervert and the Strauss-O-Sphere addresses Prof. Root’s response to Thompson’s earlier piece, The Rise and Fall of the Pajama-Boy Nietzscheans. In reaction to it Root claimed Thompson doesn’t understand the ideas and appeal of Bronze Age Pervert (BAP), a podcaster who has attracted a significant following of disaffected conservative college students. First, Thompson denies Root’s claim firmly without attacking him personally. Then he refutes the claim with factual evidence. He explains who BAP is, what he stands for (essentially a new meaning of rights that deviates away from that of the Founding Fathers), who his followers are, how they found out about him, and why they find him appealing. Perhaps most importantly he also explains the significance of BAP: that BAP is causing his followers, who previously believed in individual rights and limited government, to abandon these ideas, with possibly severe consequences for political freedom and this country’s future. After reading Bronze-Age Pervert and the Strauss-O-Sphere I had a clear understanding of what’s going on and what’s at stake, so I could act accordingly (namely, by intellectually opposing BAP’s ideas).

What Thompson doesn’t do: deviate from his message. Although he writes with style his writing is tight, never wavering from the substantive arguments related to his point that he does understand BAP. He doesn’t engage in ad hominem attacks, go down irrelevant bunny trails, name-drop unnecessarily, or exaggerate inaccurately.

In contrast with Bronze-Age Pervert and the Strauss-O-Sphere, Setting the Record Straight isn’t geared towards an audience that wants to understand facts and come to rational conclusions. Rather it’s oriented towards those who evaluate things emotionally by how they feel about them, regardless of facts.

In Setting the Record Straight Root states few facts in comparison with Bronze-Age Pervert and the Strauss-O-Sphere. Instead, he sets out to create a negative emotional aura around Thompson. He disagrees with Thompson about Bronze-Age Pervert and wants his audience to feel likewise, so he attacks Thompson. His attacks don’t consist of instances where Thompson is factually wrong about anything. Rather, they’re negative comments that may or may not address the substance of the issue at hand, but which are designed to leave the reader feeling there’s something terribly wrong with Thompson (even if Root is fairly vague about what that is). He wants the reader to come away with: C. Bradley Thompson bad – he just is.

Root starts off by condescendingly calling Thompson’s series of writings of which Bronze-Age Pervert and the Strauss-O-Sphere is a part “comic book criticism of the Dissident Right”. He then notes that Thompson is an Ayn Rand disciple, possibly with the implication that Thompson is an intellectual dependent who mindlessly follows Ayn Rand as a cult guru. He then disagrees with Thompson about whether BAP believes in rights, though he doesn’t clearly resolve the issue. He then exaggerates, essentially claiming Thompson called The Claremont Institute Nazis. He then inaccurately accuses Ayn Rand of being in essence a Nazi (“…the subtext of her message: to the gas chamber – go!”). Next he makes a vague argument that the American system might need some tweaking, saying “…a simple return to the Founding is limited and unpersuasive in the digital age.” He follows this up with a couple of exaggerations, claiming Thompson called The Claremont Institute nihilists and neoconservatives fascists when all Thompson did was compare some of the neoconservatives’ ideas to fascism. He closes by accusing Thompson of an ulterior motive, trying to “steal” the Claremont Institute’s audience with his series of writings. Throughout he uses ad hominem attacks and comments, repeatedly calling Thompson a Randian (probably for the reason previously stated) and claiming he is “not a careful thinker”.

Between the two I favor Thompson. I realize that life requires values, values must be real, that I need to know about reality to achieve them, and I must use reason to figure out reality. I also realize that emotions by themselves are unreliable as tools of cognition, and can only be relied upon after someone introspects to determine if the cause of an emotion is in accordance with reality. So, in this match point goes to Thompson.

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