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Category Archives: Ayn Rand
Anna Davlantes Show 3/2/20: How to Stop The Coronavirus From Spreading,Being Small Author Lori Orlinsky, & The Effects Of The Coronavirus On…
Posted: March 5, 2020 at 5:59 pm
Anna Davlantes Full Show for Monday, March 2nd:
Happy Pulaski Day! State officials have confirmed the fourth case of coronavirus in Illinois, and its the spouse of the third case. Can deep cleaning your home or your office help you avoid the novel coronavirus? (At 8:42) Rich Kurkowski is the president of Stratus Building Solutions of North Chicago. He discusses how to effectively sanitize your home or business to help stop coronavirus. (At 17:11) Benjamin Singer, MD, pulmonology and critical care medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital weighs in on the latest facts surrounding the coronavirus epidemic including its physical symptoms, how it spreads, and how public health officials are managing the diseases spread. (At 27:39) Lori Orlinsky is indeed one of Chicagos very own. She is a multi-award-winning childrens book author, freelance writer, mother, and the director of marketing for WTTW/Chicago PBS. Lori and her daughter Hayley joined Anna in the studio to talk about her book Being Small (Isnt So Bad After All). Being Small is a picture book about a little girl who is scared to go to school because shes the shortest kid in the class. Lori will be at Barnes & Noble Old Orchard for a book reading and signing at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 7th. For more information, visitloriorlinskyauthor.com. (At 38:49) Its Money Monday and Jonathan Hoenig, Portfolio Manager at Capitalistpig Hedge Fund LLC, Fox News Contributor & author of A New Textbook of Americanism: The Politics of Ayn Rand, stopped by to discuss the latest trends in the business world. (At 57:22) Andrea Darlas, Sr. Dir. of Constituent Engagement at the University of Illinois, speaks about the schools recent recall for their students studying abroad in Italy & South Korea to return home. Andrea says students, faculty members, and staff who are coming from countries under CDC travel advisories of Level 2 or 3 who choose to return to the campus to resume activities will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. (At 1:08:46) And for trending topics, were covering David Byrnes musical appearance on Saturday Night Live.
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Posted: at 5:59 pm
The government's motivation, to bolster electric vehicles and boost state coffers, is the antithesis of what it promised but a few months ago Brexit has always been about returning power to the hands of the electorate, and away from unaccountable politicos bent on forcing their ideology on the rest of us.
It risks putting the government on a collisioncourse with the electorate (one the government admits it has borrowed votes from) at an uncomfortably early stage. With five years to go until the next general election, they may feel it a risk worth taking plenty of time for things to settle down. But if precedent around the world is anything to go by, it is not the sort of thing voters, especially working class voters, forget easily. Whats more, there is a rival view within the Conservative Party itself one that the electorate, faced with a fuel hike and a government trampling all over them, might look to as an alternative.
In his resignation speecha week ago, the former chancellor, Sajid Javid, reaffirmed his commitment to free market principles, which is hardly a surprise, given his banking career and the stories that have swirled about his (slightly weird) love of Ayn Rand.
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Posted: February 29, 2020 at 11:16 pm
George Orwells 1984, a 20th century classic, nicely depicted the perversions of communist state and society. One may be tempted to believe that the world he portrayed has ceased to exist, along with its innovations like doublethink and newspeak. Sadly, it hasnt; this is evident from the still widespread anti-Americanism, which recently got a spurt with US President Donald Trumps visit.
The RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) is against any tariff concessions to Washington. If it is related to the livelihood of the people or religious issue or supplementation of the farmers income, one cannot support [it], SJM national co-convener Ashwini Mahajan said against the backdrop of reports that India may open up the dairy and poultry sector for American firms.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury is also unhappy with Trumps maiden visit to India. He said, We are worried over his visit. The US President is coming to draw concessions for US farmers.
We are all America-hating Leftists now.
Indias relationship with America has been unique. In an article (November 29, 2009, The Economic Times), Swaminathan Aiyar wrote, During the Cold War, Indias governmental relations were warm with the USSR and cool with the US. But a million Indians migrated to the US while none went to the USSR. Today, this number runs into millions.
Why? India is a democracy, so its political class is supposed to reflect the views, feelings, and aspirations of the people. But why was it that while the people of India felt, and feel, at home in Washington, New York, and other US cities (and in the West in general), our leaders found friends in Moscow and Jakarta? (But, typically, even as Indian rulers got friends in Moscow and Jakarta, they preferred the West for medical treatment, their childrens career, etc; another instance of hypocrisy).
India and the US have had strong economic ties (the US is the biggest trade partner), social and cultural relations, but the political ties have often lacked warmth; at times, there was pronounced hostility between the worlds two biggest democracies.
It is actually worse than hypocrisy; it is an instance of doublethink on the part of most Indians, both of liberal and conservative dispositions. And not just politicians. Doublethink is explained in 1984 as: To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy
Doublethink is worse than hypocrisy because the hypocrite at least knows that there is a difference between his public pronouncements and private practice; when he promotes prohibition and teetotaler-ism while enjoying his drinks at his home, he conceals his love for alcohol; this concealing is admission of his awareness that he is being hypocritical. He knows that promoting prohibition and drinking are unacceptable; he may develop a guilty conscience.
The doublethinker, however, is unburdened with a guilty conscience. The Leftist politician or intellectual rails against the West in general and America particular all the time; yet, he brandishes his degree from a prestigious American university. Indeed, it is usually his degree that makes him prominent in the first place. How many pinkish professors from Magadh and Rohelkhand Universities, for instance, you recall getting their articles published in English newspapers?
Similarly, the middle-class, Modi-voting gentry proudly advertise how their son got a green card in the US and the daughter got permanent residency in Canada. At the same time, in the best sanskari traditions, they also express their disapprobation at the materialistic Western values.
When our political and thought leaders, commies and conservatives, middle and upper class people send their kids to America, when they settle in Canada, when they go there for medical treatment, they implicitly support the system that has made Western nations richest and freest in the world. That system, despite country-wise variations, has four essential elements capitalism, free speech, individual responsibility, and limited government.
But all of them gang up to torpedo any move towards any of the above-mentioned elements. They malign capitalism which is the only system in history where wealth was not acquired by looting, but by production, not by force (Ayn Rand), call it as exploitative and inhuman. They fight against freedom of expression. They promote freebies and big government.
When overbearing socialism, stifled creativity, and big government make life miserable, they go to America, enjoy a good life. They keep their avenues open and shut all prospects for Indias development.
(The author is a freelance journalist. Views are personal)
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Posted: at 11:16 pm
For all of his faults and ideology based on falsehoods, at least Bernie Sanders is honest about who he is. Breadline Bernie proudly admits that hes a socialist. Those of you who claim to be democratic socialists will have to prove there is a difference before we will accept your name game.
Contrast that with presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and others who claim to be moderates or centrists who hide their sinister ways. That still want the same items of the lefts socialist national agenda.
Consider the following problems they list on their website:
Skyrocketing health care costs. The growing gap between rich and poor. Rising budget deficits. A climate in crisis.
While the rising budget deficit is something of a concern for those of us trying to conserve liberty, that concern is contrasted with the line about the growing gap between rich and poor being a decidedly leftist issue, along with the climate crisis and to a certain extent concerns over health care.
Then consider the leadership claiming to be centrist while primarily coming from the left side of the political spectrum with some being veterans of similar organization NoLabels. Then there is the fact their introductory video starred committed leftist Michael Douglas. This clearly a leftist group trying to pose as being non-partisan as does the NoLabels organisation.
There are really just two sides in the political realm: Individualism and collectivism. Those of us on the political right are on the individualist, pro-liberty side of the political spectrum: Anarchist, Libertarians, Conservatives, and true liberals favor individual rights and freedoms.
Those on the political left are on the collectivist, societal control side of the political spectrum: leftists, fascists, socialists and totalitarians favor collective rights and control.
A quote from Ayn Rand on socialism perfectly frames the difference:
Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.
The essential characteristic of socialism is the denial of individual property rights; under socialism, the right to property (which is the right of use and disposal) is vested in society as a whole, i.e., in the collective, with production and distribution controlled by the state, i.e., by the government.
Socialism may be established by force, as in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicsor by vote, as in Nazi (National Socialist) Germany. The degree of socialization may be total, as in Russiaor partial, as in England. Theoretically, the differences are superficial; practically, they are only a matter of time. The basic principle, in all cases, is the same.
The far-left certainly cant campaign on this basis. They would never win. They could reject their collectivist control principles, but then they would cease to be leftists. They would become Anarchist, Libertarians, Conservatives, and true liberals.
Their only other choice is to confuse the issue with false labels, propaganda and organizations such as NoLabels or Unite America. They exploit certain labels that imply support of liberty or progress. They have propaganda efforts such as the political compass that seeks to hide the basic authoritarian nature of the left.
Political tags such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. Robert A. Heinlein
The left has to obscure their base principles because they are authoritarian in nature. We on the political right can be open and honest because we favor liberty over control. The political left has to hide who they are because they favor control over liberty. This is easy to see in the policies they foment.
Supposedly non-partisan groups such as NoLabels or Unite America are more of a threat than honest leftists. The latter tend to either gloss over the horrid nature of their base ideology or have a superficial understanding of it. The former most likely knows what they are doing and are concealing the truth because that is the only way they can attain power.
The authoritarian socialist left is on its last legs. The ascendancy of Bernie Sanders means we will finally have a conversation about the horrid nature of the collectivist ideologies. They will no longer be able to hide behind the Scandinavian socialism mythology or any of the others falsehoods they promulgate. They will be out in the open on the battlefield of ideas. The vast superiority of liberty will see the end of collectivism.
Posted: at 11:16 pm
It is one of the oldest truisms in the whole human story that it is not a great idea to take advice from your enemy. Thats why wolves put on sheeps clothing. Its why frogs shouldnt let scorpions hitch rides across rivers. Youre going to get bitten or stung, at best. However, for many American liberal politicians, it seems that listening to your natural adversary remains an irresistible temptation.
Republicans have always loved to lecture liberals on what they should be doing, sometimes adopting the pretense of telling them how to win elections. This always takes the form of encouraging them to be more like Republicans. To an easy mark, the offer of advice might seem to display a lack of self-interest that makes it trustworthy. But in the world of American politics, its a deviously effective strategy. If Republicans can convince Democrats to dilute their identity and abandon their principles, there are two possible results. The first is that they will appear so enfeebled and unreliable to the electorate that they will inevitably lose. The second is that even if they win, they will have become Republicans in the process. Like the scorpion sinking into the river with the frog, Republicans know that this defeat is also in some sense a victory.
Yet Democrats fall into this trap over and over again, a tendency that has risen precipitously with the emergence of the so-called #NeverTrump movement. MSNBC is crawling with Republican talking heads; the op-ed pages of major newspapers regularly allow them to address Democrats in the second person. By adopting the pose that Donald Trump is an aberration, a violation of their ideals, rather than a fairly orthodox Republican president carrying out the partys agenda of plutocracy and white supremacy more belligerently than his predecessors, the most cunning Republicans have won the trust of Democrats desperate to defeat him.
What follows is an inventory of the loudest among them. Democrats: do not listen to these Republicans. They mean to drown you. It is their nature.
Its a family affair for Bill Kistrol, the one-time New York Times op-ed columnist whose father, Irving Kristol, was the architect of neoconservatism. The younger Kristol has far fewer intellectual credentials, in spite of having founded a couple magazines par for the course when youre a professional neocon. He worked for the Reagan and first Bush administrations, and was one of the most vocal supporters of the younger Bushs war in Iraq. His highbrow intellectual heritage makes it no wonder he finds Trump distasteful, in spite of being fairly indistinguishable from him politically, and in spite of his personal responsibility for the growth of the American far right. For his surface-level objection to Trump, he is rewarded with constant MSNBC appearances and adulation from #Resistance Twitter.
Unlike Kristol, Erickson is a more modern kind of demagogue: a talk show host and blogger. He is also an idiot, having once expressed his opinion of the New York Times by posting a photo of a bullet-ridden issue he had literally shot a hole through. In 2016, he personally convened a meeting of conservatives that launched the Never Trump movement, a position he was all too happy to abandon when it finally sunk in that it meant he might have to side with Democrats. In 2016, he wrote a post on his vanity website The Resurgent called I Will Not Vote for Donald Trump, Ever. Last year, he wrote one called "I Support the President." Guess who he's voting for this year?
Frum is a former speechwriter for George Bush, and is best known for coining the phrase Axis of Evil. As one of the most influential advocates of the Bush Doctrine, he deserves a lifetime of exile at best. Instead, he is fted by some as a man of great conscience, for his objections to the Trump presidency. It is shameful that he should feel comfortable showing his face in public, and yet it appears all over cable news. Frum has recently dedicated himself to dictating how Democrats should approach their primary, rather hysterically describing Sen. Bernie Sanders as a Marxist of the old school of dialectical materialism, from the land that time forgot.
Rubin, a far-right columnist at the Washington Post, likes to evoke red-menace vibes that go back multiple generations. She too has dedicated herself to pleading with Democrats that they be harsher on Sanders, and lectures the party with a distinctly schoolmarmish tone. Those in the Never Trump camp who lived through the horror of a demagogic radical taking over their party (now my ex-party) have been speaking up, frantically trying to warn Democrats, she said in a recent column. Nice try, Jennifer! Youre a Republican.
Stephens is a man (or a bug) who perhaps needs no introduction, but for the record he is one of the worst Times columnists in the papers history. Lets not dwell on him, because there is not much to say: he is a moron of the first order, devoid of conscience. He has spent three years calling himself a NeverTrumper, before admitting this year that he will probably not vote for his opponent.
Navarro is a Republican strategist who worked with former Florida Gov. Jeb! Bush and the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, and became famous for (rightly) insisting on using the word pussy on national television in quoting Trump. Her father was literally a member of the Contras, the Nicaraguan death squad that opposed the Sandinista government with the support of the Reagan administration. She seems proud of that, which one should probably take into account when considering her advice.
An undeserving beneficiary of the blogger-to-pundit pipeline, McArdle is a libertarian who used to blog as an Ayn Rand character and now writes for Bloomberg. She loves Italian food and is against fire safety.
As she is fond of reminding you, Meghan McCain is John McCains daughter. She parlayed that filial credential into a position on the panel of The View, an ideal outlet for her uniformed prattle. She has benefited from her fathers persona as the maverick, honorable Republican, a man who was supposedly guided by principled conviction and yet still chose Sarah Palin as his presidential running mate.
Rick Wilson is a Republican consultant responsible for developing TV commercials for Republican candidates. His literal job is helping Republicans win elections.
Ironically best-known for his headwear a rakishly tilted fedora Boot is a special flavor of conservative. He seems motivated almost entirely by imperial bloodlust rather than a general inclination toward traditionalism or laissez-faire economic philosophy. In spite of his love of aggression, Boot has been so dismayed by Trumps ungentlemanly demeanor he has gone as far as to start using liberal terminology like white privilege, eventually making a self-important pronouncement of his departure from the right. Fortunately for him, contemporary liberalism is mostly accommodating to military adventurism, and last time around, he found an ideal candidate in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. These days, he seems to be getting concerned that a potential leftward shift of the Democratic party might cause a worldwide reduction in civilian casualties.
As John McCains campaign manager, Schmidt is personally responsible for the national fame of Palin, his choice for McCains running mate. Arguably, Palin and the contemporaneous blossoming of the Tea Party are the most consequential precedents to the rise of Trump. Schmidt now goes on MSNBC nearly every day advising on how to resist the president, which is something like asking Joe Camel for advice on how to quit smoking. Democrats: you do not have to listen.
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Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:48 am
Join Craig Biddle, Timothy Sandefur, Jon Hersey and our friends from Students For Liberty at their flagship annual conference in Washington, D.C.! LibertyCon takes place April 35, 2020, at The Marriott Marquis.
Craig Biddle will speak on Ayn Rands Philosophy for Freedom and Flourishing and will host breakout sessions on Ayn Rands Theory of Rights and The Trinity of Liberty. Timothy Sandefur and David Friedman will debate the question Is Government Necessary? And Jon Hersey will host breakout sessions on John Locke, Ayn Rand, and the Future of the Enlightenment, as well as How to Write Effectively in Defense of Liberty.
Other speakers include experts from business, academia, public policy, tech, law, and journalism, including Forbes Media editor in chief Steve Forbes, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, and Congressman Justin Amash.
LibertyCon is a great place to discuss liberty with others who want to defend it and to debate the best ways to do so. Its also a great place to expand your professional network, explore career opportunities, and connect with freedom lovers from all over the world.
Register here, and use the code Prometheus at checkout for 30% off student and adult tickets.
See you in D.C.!
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Posted: at 12:48 am
Not only ought Gabriel Andrade resist implying there are parallels to be found by Peterson and Hitler, but he also should keep in mind how many lives have been positively changed thanks to his ideas.
In a recent Merion Westarticle, Dr. Gabriel Andrade asserts that Jordan Peterson needs to think harder about the detrimental effects of his Nietzschean/Randian-inspired philosophy and must try harder to disavow some of the tendentious readings that people make of his words. Andrade depicts Ayn Rand as a substandard philosopher and Peterson as an inferior version of Randmore aptly a self help motivational coach, whose ideas resonate with young males and also some of the worst individuals in society, such as members of the alt-right.
Although Andrade wonders what all the hand-wringing surrounding [Peterson] is all about and may prefer the Cliffnotes version of his ideas, many fans view the Canadian psychologist as a modern-day hero. This is something Andrade seems to recognize when he contends that Peterson has seized the mantle as the new right-wing intellectual guru. In doing so, Peterson, according to Andrade, is filling the rights thirty year intellectual vacuum that has been in place since the death of Ayn Rand.
Unlike some of his peers, Andrade is very careful in how he structures his arguments. Although he never directly compares Peterson to Adolf Hitler, his assertions are fraught with innuendo as he leaps from one unsubstantiated claim to another. He points out that Nietzsche was not guilty of the way his philosophy was abused by the Nazis but that he gives credence to the thesis that his ideas did sow the seeds of totalitarianism. Andrade is also concerned that underneath all the talk about responsibility, order, and anti-political correctness, there may be something more sinister going on with Peterson, presumably given the fact that some members of the alt-right and Men Going Their Own Way are counted among Petersons supporters.
Most unfair of all, however, is when Andrade suggests Peterson might be encouraging thinking along the lines of: If you worry so much about being a Superman, then ultimately it is not so hard to conclude that weaklings must simply disappear from the face of the Earth. As such, Andrade engages in the very tactic some commentators, including Conrad Hamilton, have accused Peterson of: suggesting various implications about a writers work, while allowing enough distance to disavow said implications if they are explicitly suggested by readers.
Attempting to invalidate anothers position on the basis of direct or indirect insinuations that there is a comparison to be found with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party makes for an exercise in one of the least excusable of the logical fallacies: Reductio ad Hitlerum. Rachel Maddow, for instance, was one of the mainstream journalists to most notably turn Nazi comparisons into a political strategy. In her effort to equate Donald Trumps 2016 presidential campaign with the advent of a well organized national fascist party in America, she asserted that fascism was not just a word or a way to insult one with whom you disagree with. Maddow continued, it is a specific thinga specific form of far-right politics that involves a sort of narcissistic cult of superman action around the party.
In contrast, Princeton Professor Gianni Riotta warned in a January, 2016 Atlantic piece that though xenophobic rhetoric, demagoguery, and populist appeals certainly borrow from the fascist playbook, there is no fascism without a rational plan to obliterate democracy via a military coup. Riotta said that the fascists who marched on Rome in 1922 were relentlessly, violently focused on a clear goal: to kill democracy and install a dictatorship, which was clearly not a part of the Trump presidential campaign.
Moreover, the frivolous use of the word fascism, not only belittles past tragedies but also obscured future dangers. Since Maddows prime time codification of the newest iteration of Reductio ad Hitlerum in 2015, it has become a favorite tactic of many on the left. Politicians such asAlexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Beto ORourke, and Tom Steyers willy-nilly Hitler references are a terrible insult to the actual victims of Nazi genocide, yet they have recently been joined by entertainerssuch as Linda Ronstadt. They have done it to Trump, and now they do it to Peterson, the latter of whom evendevoted many of his own lectures to explaining how the evil of Hitler was truly unparalleled.
Not only ought Gabriel Andrade resist implying there are parallels to be found by Peterson and Hitler, but he also should keep in mind how many lives have been positively changed thanks to his ideas. For Andrade, who argues that Peterson, still has time to avoid going down the path of Ayn Rand and that his unchecked views may be promoting a world that few sensible people would want, I would counter that Andrade still has ample time toavoid going down the path of individuals whose negative fixations on Peterson have resulted in substandard scholarship.
Maybe, instead of belaboring a perceived failure of Peterson to disavow certain subsets of his readers, Andrade should disavow the absurd comparisons of thinkers one disagrees with (or disagrees in part with) to Hitler. So, Andrade writes that, many, many contemporary intellectuals who have far more interesting things to say than Peterson. Yet, after reading Andrades tired indulgence of a lazy logical fallacy,I am afraid that I can now say the same about Gabriel Andrade.
There is something Andrade can do to regain the credibility that he has lost in his latest article. It is to give Peterson the respect he deserves as a scholar and refrain from writing articles that reflect the very unhealthy conspiratorial thinking that Andradeclaims to oppose. Otherwise, Andrade risks continuing the collectivist drift of his thinking and accepting his destiny as a contributing author toEveryone I Dont Like Is Hitler: a Childrens Guide to Online Political Discussion.
But Andrade is correct about one thing; Peterson is someone truly resonating with people, and in turn, he is making some people very upset. All things considered, it is not Petersonthe person himselfthat causes many of his detractors to feel such revulsion and anger but, rather, the ideas he promotes, ideas that are a repudiation of the identity politics of the left.
It is not so much the messenger as it is the message. Peterson offers an alternative means of understanding the world for so many, thus diminishing the power of many on the left as a result. I believe that there is a faction within the left that supports a type of authoritarian progressivism as nefarious in all aspects as the kind that Peterson is accused of supporting. The left might not own the means of production, but it greatly controls much of the discourse in cultural institutions, the academic world, and the mass media. Anyone interfering with that process would be attacked similarly.
Free speech is just one of the ideas that Peterson and his detractors disagree on. It is an ironic twist of fate that Peterson is now the preeminent spokesperson for todays Free Speech Movement, which had its origins within the counterculture of the Left. Mario Savio was in many ways the Jordan Peterson of his era. He is considered to have been the voice of the Free Speech Movement, and, at one time, he wasunder investigation by the FBI.
In an address given at Sproul Hall, University of California in 1964, Savio asserted that:
Despite the protestations of those such as Andrade, for many (in the United States and around the world), the idea of the heroic protagonist is intrinsic to our identity. For those of us who strive to uphold the principles of individualism, Peterson is a genuine hero, a paragon of virtue, and a man of great moral courage. We are indebted to Peterson for drawing his line in the sandand doing what needed to be done in his effort to stop the machine. Little wonder that all his detractors have in response are the pettiest of cheap shots.
Tony D. Senatore graduated from Columbia University in 2017, at the age of 55. He is a well-known bassist and musician and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
The artwork for this piece was contributed byChris Baamonde, who can be reached at email@example.com.
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Posted: at 12:48 am
J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph Stalin shared one passionately held belief: that socialism denoted the one-party dictatorship in Moscow and its satellites. The fact that this dictatorship would have been emphatically repudiated by a great many people with a much better right to adjudicate the use of the word socialismMarx, Engels, William Morris, Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Jean Jaurs, Bertrand Russell, Eugene Debs, Antonio Gramsci, Ignazio Silone, George Orwell, Dwight Macdonald, and C.L.R. James, among many otherswould have made no impression on Hoover or Stalin. The terminological status quo was far too convenient for both of them. It allowed Hoover to pretend that socialism was Stalinist tyrannytout courtrather than the democratic movement that he had helped destroy in the United States earlier in the century, before the Bolshevik Revolution provided even the excuse of hysterical overreaction. And it allowed Stalin to claim the moral prestige of the socialist tradition, chief repository of the ideals of equality and full democracy, even as he was murdering every socialist he could get his hands on. I imagine the two old malefactors cackling together now in the lowest circle of Hell, comparing notes on their outrages against decency and humanity.
It is long, very long, past time Americans discarded Cold War shibboleths and talked sense to one another about equality, democracy, and cooperation. When we do, we will be talking about socialism, though it doesnt matter what we call it. We may even have to give up the worddepressingly many Americans still believe what J. Edgar Hoover believed or, even more depressingly, what Ayn Rand believed: that solidarity is a delusion and altruism a pathology. A lot of fancy stepping may be required to avoid the deadly bog of misunderstanding that almost immediately materializes when a left-wing American engages in political discussion with a right-wing fellow citizen. But theres no avoiding it.
Two new books should make the left-wingers job much easier, supplying many telling facts, much relevant history, and, in these spiritually parched times, a welcome spritz of utopian imagination. Both aged 30, Nathan Robinson and Bhaskar Sunkara are leading left intellectuals and entrepreneurs. In the latter capacity, each started a radical magazine in print formRobinsonsCurrent Affairsand SunkarasJacobinand within a few years made a financial success of it. Compared with that remarkable feat, organizing a socialist revolution will doubtless present few difficulties. Not surprisingly, these two books reflect the personalities of the two magazines. LikeCurrent Affairs,Why You Should Be a Socialistis first-person and playful, anecdotal and indignant. LikeJacobin,The Socialist Manifestois earnest and analytical, sober and strategic. Two guides, with something for every temperament.
The root of socialism, Robinson writes, is revulsion. Unnecessary suffering, untasted joys, unexercised talents, wasted lives: These are everywhere, if you have eyes to see; and if you also have a heart to feel, then youre on the threshold of socialism. Robinson aims to bring you over. In the United States last year, 41 percent of workers didnt have evenone dayof paid vacation, he writes. Thirty-six percent didnt have a single day of paid sick leave. Half of all private-sector pensions have disappeared. One in five households has zero or negative net worth. The net worth of the top one percent is greater than the net worth of the bottom 95 percent. Suicide and depression rates are up; life expectancy in the bottom half of the income distribution is down; and poor adults are five times as likely to report being in poor health as rich adults. Hundreds more examples follow in the same vein. Robinson preaches this familiar socialist sermon with wit and fervor. Your mileage may vary, but I find it never gets old.
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Posted: at 12:48 am
(Pixabay)The public-policy expert has some interesting ideas. But they arent necessarily new ones.
Oren Cass, formerly a domestic-policy adviser to the 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has launched a new organization, American Compass. Cass told the Washington Post that its goal is to think about what the post-Trump right-of-center is going to be. This debate is ongoing; Casss contributions to it will be familiar to readers of National Review.
Yet some of Casss immediate claims are worth questioning. Cass bemoans a purported domination of conservatism and the Republican Party by a market fundamentalism in many cases, held entirely in good faith; in some cases, more as a matter of political convenience. He also accuses conservatives of having for decades outsourced their economic thinking to libertarians such that libertarianism is now part of the prevailing orthodoxy (along with a progressive economics that is, he says, its mirror image).
The notion that libertarians have largely controlled the Right probably comes as a surprise to libertarians, who have watched helplessly over the past few decades as government has grown, debt and deficits have expanded, and the Federal Register accrues more pages (even as one of the consistent priorities of what Cass calls the inchoate earthquake of the Trump administration has been a concerted effort to fight this last trend).
Market fundamentalism, then, is a curious choice of villain. Few could survey the actual policy achievements of elected Republicans over the past few decades and claim they reflect that wholesale. Republicans during George W. Bushs presidency may have cut taxes, but they also increased spending (as have Trump-era Republicans), added a new federal agency, expanded an existing federal entitlement, and increased federal involvement in education. Bush himself proclaimed that we have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move, imposed unilateral tariffs (as President Trump has done), and spearheaded the TARP bailout of the financial industry, sacrificing free-market principles to save the free-market system, in his words.
President George H. W. Bush famously raised taxes and was never fully on board with what he had called President Reagans voodoo economics. The degree to which Reagan himself was on board with what became known as Reaganomics is the subject of some debate, largely due to his utility as a totem for both sides of this argument. But he did intervene in the economy specifically in behalf of Harley-Davidson. And libertarian economics had very little sway in the actual policy of the Republican Party before Reagan. If Casss dispute is instead with conservative rhetoric irrespective of its purported practitioners actions, then he ought to make that clear. (Few would contest that many elected Republicans have been hypocrites in this regard.)
Some of the participants on Casss side of this argument, which is ongoing, sometimes act as though the very idea of government involvement in the economy were both brand new and some incredible panacea for our ills. The truth, toward which Cass gestures when he writes that he seeks to reassert ideas like these [that he proposes] for a conservative coalition that once understood them intuitively, is that skepticism of the free market has a long history within the conservative tradition. Before neoconservative became a dirty word, neoconservatives, such as Irving Kristol, were offering Two Cheers for Capitalism. As far back as 1957, National Review itself dissented from the market fundamentalism of Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged, via Whittaker Chamberss famous review. Just a decade ago, there were the reformocons, who sounded a lot like Cass and company do now in arguing for modest federal support for families and middle-income earners. When these groups made arguments in public, John Galt did not take over the transmission, nor did some Cato Institute grandee keep them from making their points. What Cass seeks to reassert never really left, even if its perceived relative strength has waxed and waned.
This may all seem like angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin stuff. Indeed, much of this debate has the character of a think-tank panel that has spilled out into the real world (Casss specific chosen antagonist in his National Review article is a vice president of the Heritage Foundation). But it is easier to act as though we simply havent tried certain things instead of admitting that we have tried some, and that sometimes they do work, but sometimes they dont. Cass would have a better case that our existing government policy has been inadequate than that we do not have one at all. And why has it been inadequate? Libertarian-leaning economists have had plenty to say about that: in public choice (Buchanan), the distribution of economic information (Hayek), monetary theory (Friedman), and more.
I do not invoke the celebrated insights of some libertarians merely to reject the very idea that the government has a place in the modern economy. I happen to agree with the argument Cass makes in his book The Once and Future Worker that it is foolish to devote immense federal resources to promoting higher education while leaving all other post-high-school paths to a hodgepodge of mostly state-based and private programs. Yet federal economic intervention is hardly the herald of something entirely new, either in the economy as a whole or on the right. A compass can help you find your way, but its even more useful if you know where you already are.
Posted: at 12:48 am
In the previous century I was a regular columnist for The Humanist magazine, and I was fortunate to work for an editor, Rick Szykowny, who was committed to publishing both class conscious and explicitly socialist writers. On March 1, 1994, The Humanist published my article titled The Good Fight: The Case for Socialism in the 21stCentury. The article is archived online at The Free Library. Heres an excerpt:
Rosa Luxemburg pointed out in the last piece she wrote before her death that certain socialist successes had been Pyrrhic victories, whereas there was much to be learned and gained from those historical defeats which constitute the pride and power of international socialism. There is not a single word or ideal that has not been dragged through the mud and blood of this centuryincluding democracy and humanism. Shall we invent a new language altogether to be able to go on with life and still pass on our stories? Is the burden and shame of the old words too great this late in the twentieth century? Broken-hearted silence and withdrawal have a certain minimum of integrity. But the century approaching will bring us still greater shame and burdens if we leave politics only to politicians, and if we abandon the great majority of our own species to another era of wars and hunger. We can choose to fight the good fight.
In my sixth decade, I have lived long enough to recall the eye-rolling tolerance of progressives who preferred their social icons on postage stamps, who voted by rote for pragmatic candidates, who wrote checks to the ACLU and the Sierra Club, and who nevertheless made their peace with bipartisan war and empire. The deep lesson they learned from the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall was that social democracy made visits to Europe interesting, but that a comfortable life at home simply ruled out taking personal and political risks that might derail careers and create bad blood round Thanksgiving tables.
Since my social circle includes many academics, the fevered fantasies on the far right regarding troops of tenured radicals seemed absurd. True enough, a fraction of professors in higher education are, in fact, committed socialists. For that matter, a fraction of the very rich have always understood too well the brute facts behind the expensively groomed figures in corporate culture. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was even moved to join this fraction of class traitors, in an era of militant labor strikes and factory occupations. Roosevelt notably stated at Madison Square Garden in a public speech in 1936:
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peacebusiness and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for meand I welcome their hatred.
Among secular humanists, then and now, there has been an ongoing debate about the very meaning of humanism, and an unsurprising division of opinion about rational policies in public life. In fact, humanists of various kinds span the whole political spectrum. Some are true believers in the free market and even in the vainglorious egoism of Ayn Rand; others hope to reform capitalism with the kind of managerial plans recommended by Elizabeth Warren, who has stated I am a capitalist to my very bones; and some are committed, like Bernie Sanders, to democratic socialism, including the kind of social democratic policies the Sanders campaign honorably supports.
Though I send donations to the Sanders campaign, I reserve my votes for socialist candidates of the Green Party, because their Green New Deal is far better than the shoplifted product of the Democratic Party. If they make it on the ballot, I also sometimes vote for independent socialists opposed to both of the big corporate parties. I gladly give much credit to Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and others who have taken discussion of democracy and socialism to a much wider public. Too damn easy to snipe from sectarian bunkers at the new wave of young socialists who have joined the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and the much larger number of voters and citizens who are the solid base in the Sanders campaign.
What really matters most now is that a growing number of working people are in motion, and that a class-conscious popular movement is on a collision course with the anti-democratic old guard within the Democratic National Committee (DNC). If the next Democratic Convention is a brokered convention designed to stop the Sanders campaign by any means necessary, then the old guard may retreat into the gilded palace of the DNC and finally pull down the roof and pillars on their own heads.
A class-conscious fight for basic democracy must also include radical reforms in the existing electoral system, so that councils of workers and neighbors finally become the living foundation of a democratic republic. We can have real democracy in this country or we can have the two party system, but we cannot have both. The political independence of workers and of class-conscious allies certainly includes a political revolution, just as Sanders recommends. Though we can fully expect the ruling class to wage a political counterrevolution through campaigns of organized lying and through ongoing economic assaults on the great majority of working people.
A democratic republic will certainly require a political revolution in campaign financing and in electoral laws. Including the overturning of the Supreme Courts decision in Citizens United, and the abolition of the Electoral College. Equally certain is that a political revolution will be more easily eroded without an economic revolution gained through actual class struggles in workplaces, in neighborhoods, and in daily life.
For both moral and strategic reasons, non-violent resistance against the corporate state is by far the best way forward. Anyone inclined toward gunfights with the state is willfully ignorant of the fact that they are far outgunned by the state, but they have also mistaken class-conscious power with state violence. That kind of political romanticism has far more in common with a fundamentally amoral corporate state than with a democratic movement for socialism. Fortunately, the little Lenins of the left are a small minority, though at crucial junctures they may wield an influence beyond their actual numbers. To this day, there are sectarians who have not reckoned with the actual course of the Russian Revolution, that stormy coalition of workers, peasants and intellectuals who formed workers councils and popular assemblies.
Lenin even wrote one of the classic documents of the libertarian left in August and September of 1917, titled The State and Revolution. He was moody and cunning, however, and by 1920 he was writing Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. By 1921, Emma Goldman gave a speech at the grave of the anarchist Peter Kropotkin, and indeed his funeral would be the last time anarchists were permitted to demonstrate in public. In the same year, Lenin and the Central Committee mobilized troops to crush the Kronstadt Rebellion. In the previous century, an earnest member of the Spartacist League informed me that this rebellion was simply a misadventure of degenerate elements and lumpenproles.
By the time Lenin wrote his Last Will and Testament in 1922, he did give a warning: Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. Furthermore, Lenin added: Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General.
This reference to the Russian Revolution may be of interest to democratic socialists for both moral and strategic reasons. Some readers may be impatient with past revolutions, and certainly our first duty is to stand our ground in present circumstances. Even so, we are better oriented to reality if we can glance backward to gain perspective, the better to acknowledge both the losses and gains of the world socialist movement over the past hundred years. Moreover, gaining a sense of history is not simply an academic exercise. What began as a Russian Revolution did not consolidate a democratic republic, and ended in a Bolshevik coup detat.
Some have argued that a plural coalition of peasants, workers, social anarchists, social democrats, and socialist revolutionaries was fated to fail without successful revolutions in Europe, and only the centralizing drive of Lenin had any chance of holding the red fortress in Russia. The Bolshevik theorists of revolution considered themselves in possession of a scientific doctrine that justified their own course of action, exclusively in command of state power and of state violence.
The crucial distinction between power and violence is worth our attention, since the ruling class rules far more often through institutional power than through outright violence. Consider the police power of the state, and the most honest opponents of assassins in uniform will acknowledge that the institutional impunity of the police is established not only by bullets but also by class and racial disparities in legal penalties, including the barbarism of the death penalty. When we confront state terrorism within national borders, then class-consciousness also grows in opposition to an unaccountable military budget and to endless wars.
Sanders is not our best guide in getting a clear public account of the vast Pentagon budget, nor has he been the most consistent public witness against imperial wars. But he has changed incrementally, and for the better, even on these issues. He has been challenged to be more honest about the racist and colonial regime in Israel, and he has become more forthright in criticism of state Zionism.
Outrageously, MSNBCs Chuck Todd recently addressed his guest, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, and stated,Ruth, we have all been on the receiving end of the Bernie online brigade. Quoting a column by Jonathan Last in The Bulwark, Todd said, Heres what [Last] says, no other candidate has anything like this digital brown shirt brigade except for Donald Trump. The question is this, What if you cant win the presidency without an online mob? What if we live where having a bullying, aggro social media online army popping anyone who sticks their head up, is an ingredient for or a critical marker of success? Has Todd no sense of decency, has he no sense of shame? Members of Sanders family were murdered by the Nazis.
A New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, had previously opined that Trump and Sanders are ideological mirror images of each other, and the graphic that ran with his column showed the heads of both men facing off in profile and encircled with flames. Bruni got merely rich in the course of flattering the stratospherically wealthy career politicians of his chosen party. For the record, Bruni also wrote a meatloaf cookbook, where his taste and talent are better featured.
What do we think of law, order, democracy? The story may be apocryphal, but a reporter once asked Mohandas Gandhi, Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization? Gandhi replied, I think it would be a good idea. Likewise, we can agree that reason and persuasion are best in making the case for law, order and democracy. The contradiction we face is that the ruling class is very highly class conscious of its own privilege in extracting profit from the whole planet, including from the lives and bodies of working people. In their version of capitalist meritocracy, the great majority of the human species does not merit any great share of their consideration. The stark and growing class divisions in this country are not an accidents of ruling class power and public policies, but necessities of the accumulation of capital across global borders and of imperial wars.
We are many, they are few. Democracy from the ground up is both the moral and political strength of any socialist movement worth our brief time on earth. This does not mean socialists should resign ourselves only to personal acts of witness. The whole field of social relations becomes the ground of struggle. If we lose our moral bearings, we will also lose any sane orientation to socialist goals. But the ruling class also gets a vote in the use of brute force, and indeed they exercise that option far more often than the working class, as the whole history of class struggles has proven.
Raising the ground floor of social democracy in health care, housing and education is common ground between social democrats and democratic socialists. These are certainly radical reforms, and cannot be won and defended without popular resistance against the corporate state. Whatever happens in the presidential election, the movement for democratic socialism will cross party lines and go beyond the year 2020.No friction, no traction.
See original here: