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  • Author: Joseph England
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Every year throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, between four and five million girls suffer gruesome genital mutilation at the hands of tribal “cutters” or circumcisers. Far from being regarded as barbaric criminals from whom children should be hidden, these wielders of sharpened rocks, broken glass, rusty metal, and (only sometimes) scalpels occupy a special position of power and influence in their communities. Parents voluntarily, sometimes enthusiastically, bring their young and infant daughters to be mutilated. Though methods vary in severity, in as many as 10 percent of cases, a cutter shears a girl's labia for “beauty,” excises her clitoris to deprive her of sexual pleasure later in life, and sews closed her vagina to ensure virginity until marriage.
  • Political Geography: Africa, America, Middle East
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: This, the spring 2015 issue of The Objective Standard, begins our tenth year of publication; so let me start by extending a hearty thank-you to all of our subscribers and donors who have supported our vital work over the years. In a culture largely hostile to the ideas we elucidate and apply, the success of a publication such as TOS requires financial and spiritual support from the relative few who see the value of what we do. You are that few. You have made possible everything we have done—every article, every blog post, every video, every word. Without your support, TOS would have folded long ago, as most Objectivist periodicals have. Because of your support, however, TOS has not only survived, it has established and maintained a level of quality and clarity that has made and is making a difference. Here's an indication of the kind of correspondence we receive from people who discover TOS.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Slade Mendenhall
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty, by Timothy Sandefur. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2014. 200 pp. $24.95 (hardcover). While the principles of liberty on which America was founded are under attack from so-called liberals and conservatives alike, and while expanding abuses of government power are too vast and complex for most Americans to fully follow, books by rational, knowledgeable professionals clearly and concisely explaining the problems and offering solutions are of immense value. Timothy Sandefur's The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty fits this bill. Sandefur, a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, bases his latest work on an underappreciated idea in American legal thinking. It is the idea that the Declaration of Independence—understood as a formal, legal, diplomatic document issued by the representatives of thirteen British colonies to the king of England—is part of the law of the land, just as are the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In fact, argues Sandefur, the Declaration used to be seen as the “conscience of the Constitution,” and reviving this understanding of its position in the framework of U.S. law will go a long way toward establishing the moral and political context within which lawyers, judges, and Supreme Court justices should argue and interpret constitutional law. Sandefur's thesis is controversial and is not likely to be well received in modern courts and law classrooms. Most law schools teach students to view the Declaration as a mere manifesto or letter of aspiration. But Sandefur wages a compelling intellectual defense of the Declaration-as-law on two fronts: against leftists, who have ridiculously claimed that the document was drafted as a wink-and-nod effort by elite white men to put down minorities and the lower classes; and against conservatives such as Russell Kirk and neoconservatives such as Irving Kristol who, afraid of its “natural rights” language, dismiss the ideas of the Declaration and characterize it as an underhanded “ploy to lure the French” into conflict with the English (p. 14). Sandefur, pointing out the baseless nature of such criticisms, puts forth a strong argument for holding the Declaration as law and highlights the Founding Fathers' own understanding of it as such. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, England
  • Author: Alexander V. Marriott
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Was Abraham Lincoln, as most Americans believe, a defender of individual rights, a foe of slavery, and a savior of the American republic—one of history's great heroes of liberty? Or was he a tyrant who turned his back on essential founding principles of America, cynically instigated the bloody Civil War to expand federal power, and paved the way for the modern regulatory-entitlement state? In the face of widespread popular support for Lincoln (note, for example, the success of the 2012 Steven Spielberg film about him) and his perennially high reputation among academics, certain libertarians and conservatives have promoted the view that Lincoln was a totalitarian who paved the way for out-of-control government in the 20th century. Those critics are wrong. Contrary to their volumes of misinformation and smears—criticisms that are historically inaccurate and morally unjust—Lincoln, despite his flaws, was a heroic defender of liberty and of the essential principles of America's founding. Getting Lincoln right matters. It matters that we know what motivated Lincoln—and what motivated his Confederate enemies. It matters that we understand the core principles on which America was founded—and the ways in which Lincoln expanded the application of those principles. It matters that modern advocates of liberty properly understand and articulate Lincoln's legacy—rather than leave his legacy to be distorted by antigovernment libertarians (and their allies among conservatives), leviathan-supporting “progressives,” and racist neo-Confederates. My purpose here is not to present a full biographical sketch of Lincoln, nor to detail all types of criticisms made against him. Rather, my goal is to present sufficient information about Lincoln and his historical context to answer a certain brand of his critics, typified by Ron Paul, formerly a congressman from Texas and a contender for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012. Paul and his ilk characterize Lincoln's engagement of the Civil War as a “senseless” and cynical power grab designed to wipe out the “original intent of the republic.” Such claims are untrue and unjust, as we will see by weighing them in relation to historical facts. Toward that end, let us begin with a brief survey of claims by Lincoln's detractors. The revision of Lincoln and his legacy began in earnest soon after the Civil War, but, at the time, it was relegated to the intellectual swamp of Confederate memoirs and polemics. What was once the purview of a defeated and demoralized rump and of early anarchists such as Lysander Spooner has picked up steam within the modern libertarian movement. In the early 20th century, the acerbic newspaperman and social critic H. L. Mencken seriously suggested that the Confederates fought for “self-determination” and “the right of their people to govern themselves.” He claimed that a Confederate victory would have meant refuge from a northern enclave of “Babbitts,” the attainment of a place “to drink the sound red wine . . . and breathe the free air.” Mencken's musings were but a symptom of a broader change in how many Americans came to view the Civil War. The conflict was no longer “the War of the Rebellion,” but “the War between the States.” The Confederate cause was no longer an essentially vile attempt to preserve slavery, but an honorable attempt to preserve autonomous government. Not coincidentally, during this period, Confederate sympathizers built monuments to the Confederacy throughout the South, and D. W. Griffith's openly racist silent film The Birth of a Nation presented revisionist Civil War history and contributed to the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan. Sometimes Confederate sympathizers claimed that the Civil War was not really about slavery; other times they claimed that slavery was a glorious institution the South sought to preserve. More recently, Murray N. Rothbard—widely regarded as the godfather of the modern libertarian movement (and someone who saw Mencken as an early libertarian)5—characterized the Civil War as the fountainhead of the modern regulatory state: The Civil War, in addition to its unprecedented bloodshed and devastation, was used by the triumphal and virtually one-party Republican regime to drive through its statist, formerly Whig, program: national governmental power, protective tariff, subsidies to big business, inflationary paper money, resumed control of the federal government over banking, large-scale internal improvements, high excise taxes, and, during the war, conscription and an income tax. Furthermore, the states came to lose their previous right of secession and other states' powers as opposed to federal governmental powers. The Democratic party resumed its libertarian ways after the war, but it now had to face a far longer and more difficult road to arrive at liberty than it had before. Thomas DiLorenzo, a colleague of Rothbard's until Rothbard's death in 1995, penned two books responsible for much of today's libertarian and conservative antagonism toward Lincoln: The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (2002) and Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe (2006). (Both DiLorenzo and Ron Paul are senior fellows of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an organization that, while bearing the name of the great Austrian economist von Mises, is more closely aligned with Rothbard's anarchist views.) Largely through his influence on popular economist Walter E. Williams, who wrote the foreword to DiLorenzo's 2002 book, DiLorenzo has reached a relatively wide audience of libertarians and conservatives. Williams is known to many as a genial guest host for The Rush Limbaugh Show, a fellow of the Hoover Institute, and a distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University. He gave his imprimatur to DiLorenzo's work, thereby elevating what might otherwise have been a peculiar book from the depths of Rothbard's libertarian, paleoconservative, neo-Confederate intellectual backwater to a nationally known and provocative piece of severe Lincoln revisionism. What are the essential criticisms leveled against Lincoln by such writers as Mencken and DiLorenzo? The most important of these criticisms can be grouped into four categories. First, these critics claim, Lincoln eviscerated the right of secession supposedly at the heart of the American Revolution. Second, say the critics, Lincoln did not truly care about slavery; he invoked it only to mask his real reasons for pursuing war—to expand the power of the federal government. Anyway, the critics add, slavery would have ended without a Civil War. Third, argue the critics, Lincoln subverted the free market with his mercantilist policies, thereby laying the groundwork for the big-government Progressives to follow. Fourth, Lincoln supposedly prosecuted the war tyrannically; in DiLorenzo's absurd hyperbole, Lincoln was a “totalitarian” who constructed an “omnipotent” state. Let us look at each of these criticisms in greater detail—and put them to rest—starting with the claim that Lincoln spurned the fundamental principles of the founding by opposing secession.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, by Cal Newport. New York: Business Plus, 2012. 304 pp. $26 (hardcover). In So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, Cal Newport challenges (among other things) the idea that “the key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion” (p. 4). This is a widespread idea with the full backing of American pop culture and of many successful people. But is it true? Newport doesn't think so, and, in arguing that it is not, he observes (for starters) that passions rarely match up with specific jobs. In a 2002 study he cites, for example, 539 Canadian university students were asked if they had passions and, if so, what they were. Eighty-four percent replied that they did have passions, but the top five listed were dance, hockey, skiing, reading, and swimming. Newport sums up this list by concluding what the students themselves likely have found out by now—that “these passions don't have much to offer when it comes to choosing a job” (p. 14). Newport also observes that passions take time to develop. Here he cites a paper by Amy Wrzesniewski, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, that explores the differences between a job, a career, and a calling. A job, in Wrzesniewski's formulation, is a way to pay the bills, a career is a path toward increasingly better work, and a calling is work that's an important part of your life and a vital part of your identity.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Joseph Kellard
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Donna Hassler is executive director of Chesterwood, the former summer home and studio of Daniel Chester French (1850–1931), a renowned and prolific American sculptor of public monuments best known for the sculpture of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. Located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Chesterwood is a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit. I recently spoke with Hassler about French's life and work, Chesterwood, and the value of public art. —Joseph Kellard Joseph Kellard: Donna, thank you for taking time to speak with me about this great sculptor. I love the works of Daniel Chester French, and I've photographed many of them, so it's a real treat for me to chat about him and his work with such an expert on the subject. Donna Hassler: You're welcome. JK: French was quite prolific, producing more than one hundred monuments, memorials and other works. What would you say are some of the distinctive features and themes of his art? DH: Daniel Chester French was an American Beaux-Arts sculptor. Trained in Florence and later Paris, he was inspired by the ideal beauty of Greco-Roman art and architecture early in his career. In fact, he didn't even stay around for the unveiling of the Minute Man sculpture in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1874, because he had accepted an invitation from Ned Powers, the son of the prominent American neoclassical sculptor Hiram Powers, to stay with his family in Florence and study sculpture with another American artist, Thomas Ball. The artist looked to nature in modeling his figurative works but improved upon her in the classical tradition. Allegory and symbolism also played a more important role in his sculpture, especially when he memorialized individuals without portraying them in a realistic manner. JK: French's most celebrated sculptures are Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial and The Minuteman in Concord, Massachusetts; many of our readers have seen and enjoyed these. Which of his lesser-known works do you think deserve special attention, and why?
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: To the Editor: I would like to congratulate Alexander Marriott on his well-written and illuminating article “Getting Lincoln Right” [TOS Summer 2014]. Mr. Marriott eloquently addresses the most common moral and historical fallacies that are used to smear the legacy of a man who, in my view, is one of the greatest presidents in American history.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Joseph Kellard
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: “[E]ach person shall remain free, especially in his religion, and . . . no one shall be persecuted or investigated because of their religion” (p. 96). Those words evoke America's revolutionary era, but they were penned two centuries earlier. They are part of the Dutch de facto constitution, the Union of Utrecht, drafted in 1579 after thousands of Dutchmen had suffered religious persecution by the Spanish in the form of torture and death. To Russell Shorto, a writer for The New York Times Magazine, these words speak directly to the “tolerance” embodied by the 17th-century Dutch Republic and its colonies, particularly the island colony of Manhattan, or New Amsterdam, after English explorer Henry Hudson claimed the land for the Netherlands in 1609.
  • Political Geography: New York, America, Spain, Netherlands, Island, Dutch
  • Author: Robert Begley
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In Righteous Indignation, Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012) targets the political left's death grip on American culture. Focusing on the arts and entertainment, on academia, and (most important to him) on the media, he critiques the ideas of intellectuals who fundamentally oppose America's founding ideals, and he provides rational advice for liberty lovers who want to regain the culture.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Should government further restrict the ability of rights-respecting Americans to buy, own, and carry guns, or should it recognize that ability as a basic right and protect it? David B. Kopel, among the most influential Second Amendment scholars working today, makes a terse but cogent argument for the right to keep and bear arms in his latest book, The Truth about Gun Control.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Steve Simpson
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The revelation in May of this year that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was systematically targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups for special scrutiny under the laws governing nonprofit organizations shocked the nation and triggered one of the Obama administration's biggest scandals to date. According to a Treasury inspector general's report, in May of 2010, agents in the IRS's Cincinnati office began singling out applications for nonprofit status from groups with terms such as "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their names. The agents conducted lengthy investigations of the groups to determine whether they intended to spend too much of their money on political activities that are prohibited to most nonprofits.1 The IRS required some groups to answer long lists of questions about their intentions, it demanded donor lists from others, and it even examined Facebook and Internet posts.2 Some groups simply gave up and withdrew their applications. Others spent two years waiting for a decision that never came.3 When Congress investigated the scandal, Lois Lerner, the former head of the office that oversees nonprofit organizations, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify. Later, hearings revealed that Douglas Shulman, the former head of the IRS, was cleared to visit the White House at least 157 times during his tenure and that IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, who was one of two Obama appointees at the IRS, helped develop the agency's guidelines for investigating the Tea Party groups.4 As a result, critics of the IRS have good reason to think that the scandal reaches the highest levels of our government. The public's outrage over this scandal is, of course, entirely appropriate. If the government can enforce laws based on nothing more than one's political views, then both freedom of speech and the rule of law are dead. But the outrage over the IRS's focus on conservative groups obscures a far more important question: Why was the IRS investigating the political activities of any group? The answer to that question is more troubling than the possibility of rogue IRS agents, biased law enforcement, or even abuses of power at the highest levels. As bad as all of those things are, the bigger threat to freedom is a legal regime that requires scrutiny of Americans' political activities and a political and intellectual culture that applauds such scrutiny and openly calls for more of it. This is the situation in America today. Our tax and campaign finance laws impose a host of regulations on Americans based on how much time, effort, and money they spend on political speech, and many opinion leaders agitate for even more laws and investigations every day. Against this backdrop, the IRS scandal should not surprise us. Our politicians and intellectuals demanded regulation of some of the loudest voices in our political debates, and the IRS delivered. Unfortunately, far too many critics of the IRS have accepted the premise that our laws should distinguish between groups that spend money on political activities and groups that do not. Expressing this view, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein has argued that the real scandal was that the IRS did not treat all nonprofits as harshly as it treated the Tea Party groups.5 Using the same reasoning, congressional Democrats have attempted to blunt the scandal by claiming that the IRS also investigated some groups on the left.6 It appears that these claims are untrue, but the message is clear: As long as the government is scrutinizing everyone's speech equally, then there is no scandal. But this is the opposite lesson to learn from the IRS scandal. For anyone who cares about freedom of speech, the real scandal is that the government regulates Americans' campaign spending at all. So long as laws remain on the books that do so, scandals such as this one-and far worse-are inevitable. But to understand why that is so requires a deeper understanding of the premises on which the laws are based and how the laws operate in practice. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Americans are rightly concerned about the rising costs of health care and the monstrosity known as ObamaCare. As patients are looking for better ways to manage their health care, doctors are seeking innovative ways to offer their services. One type of medical practice growing in the marketplace is “concierge medicine,” in which patients pay a doctor or group of doctors a set fee (usually paid annually or monthly) in exchange for a defined package of care.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Alexander V. Marriott (reviewer)
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: “If America should grow into a separate empire,” British Prime Minister Frederick Lord North warned in late 1778, “it must of course cause . . . a revolution in the political system of the world” (p. 15). In his latest book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire, Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy examines the lives of the ten British political leaders, generals, and admirals most responsible for attempting to prevent that revolution from succeeding. O'Shaughnessy sympathetically discerns how and why they failed—and why America succeeded. O'Shaughnessy, professor of history at the University of Virginia, also examines the revolution from an outsider's perspective in his masterful An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (2000).1 Whereas his previous work sought to answer the question of why the other British colonies in the Americas—Canada and the sugar islands in the Caribbean—did not join with the American revolutionaries, The Men Who Lost America sets forth to save the British leadership from the historical ignominy of being remembered as “incompetent and mediocre” or “hidebound” (p. 5) and “novices” (p. 8). With a much more intimate biographical knowledge of these principal actors—including George III; generals Cornwallis and Clinton; Lord North; and the secretary of state for America, Lord George Germain—O'Shaughnessy seeks to reconstruct the perspective of the British war effort, which is, he contends, “essential for making the war intelligible” (p. 9). Among the strengths of the book, O'Shaughnessy artfully weaves the entire breadth and sweep of the wars of the American Revolution through nine biographical chapters (with one chapter devoted to the brothers General Sir William Howe and Admiral Lord Richard Howe). O'Shaughnessy also destroys certain deeply entrenched myths about the American Revolution and inculcates greater appreciation for the victory gained by the revolutionaries over a collection of determined, intelligent—and in many cases quite sympathetic—adversaries. The main recurring theme of the book, apparent in the experience of every figure examined, is the fundamental misunderstanding among British policy makers of the nature of the revolution and the depth of support for it among the colonists. “It was indeed an axiom of British policy,” writes O'Shaughnessy, “that the majority of Americans were loyal, and that the revolution was nothing more than a coup achieved by 'the intrigues of a few bold and criminal leaders'” (p. 98). Many modern American admirers of the American Revolution also unwittingly hold on to this view, often encapsulated in the convenient notion that the Americans were divided roughly into thirds: revolutionaries, loyalists, and the indifferent. As the British learned only very slowly, too slowly to alter their strategy, the loyalists were not anything close to a majority or even a consistent minority large enough to count on. . . .
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael Dahlen (reviewer)
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: From 2006 to 2007, Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, was one of few people warning that the U.S. economy was fundamentally unsound and that real estate was grossly overpriced. In his first book, Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse (2007), he predicted that the economy, the housing market, and the stock market would fall apart. He also voiced these predictions on several cable news shows, yet few people heeded his warnings. Some hosts and other guests even mocked and ridiculed him. But Schiff was right. In his recent book, The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy-How to Save Yourself and Your Country, Schiff says that the worst is yet to come and that the 2008-2009 economic crisis was merely a "tremor before the earthquake." Schiff argues that the main culprit of our economic instability is America's central bank: the Federal Reserve. Through its control of the money supply and the effect this has on interest rates, the Fed artificially inflates the prices of various asset classes, creating so-called "bubbles," and when those prices inevitably collapse, the Fed then inflates the prices of other asset classes. "Throughout the 1990s," Schiff observes, "we had the stock bubble and the dot-com bubble. The Fed replaced that with the housing bubble and the credit bubble. Now, the Fed and the administration are replacing those bubbles with the government bubble" (p. 20). By "government bubble," Schiff is referring to the U.S. dollar and Treasury bonds. When asset prices collapse and recessions ensue, Schiff notes, the Fed-via bailouts and low interest rates-props up insolvent banks and other companies (while also helping to finance government debt). It has taken these actions allegedly to minimize the short-term pain of recessions, but in doing so, the Fed has prevented the economy from correcting itself, making it increasingly unsound. "If you keep replacing one bubble with another, you eventually run out of suds. The government bubble is the final bubble" (p. 23). If the Fed keeps interest rates artificially low and if the government keeps running massive budget deficits, the day will come, Schiff argues, "when the rest of the world stops trusting America's currency and our credit. Then we'll get the real crash" (p. 1). In his introduction to the book, Schiff explains that he is taking a different approach here than he took in his previous books: "[T]his time I have decided that rather than simply predicting doom, I would lay out a comprehensive set of solutions. That's why I wrote this book" (p. 2). After diagnosing our economic problems, Schiff explains how we can fix them. . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Robert Garmong
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: When the U.S. economy collapsed in 2008, most economists, policy analysts, and government advisers were caught flat-footed. For more than a decade, the experts had assured Americans that such a catastrophic economic event had become impossible. In 2004, Ben Bernanke (now chairman of the Federal Reserve), declared a “Great Moderation,” beginning in the mid-1980s, during which “improvements in monetary policy” at the Federal Reserve had led to “a substantial decline in macroeconomic volatility” (Fed-speak for a taming of the business cycle).1 Robert Lucas gave a presidential address to the American Economic Association in 2003, declaring that the “central problem . . . of macroeconomics”—maintaining recession-free growth without runaway price inflation—“has been solved, for all practical purposes.”2 Yet the seeds of the so-called Great Recession, David Stockman argues, were already there for anyone to see. The Great Deformation is Stockman's attempt to explain and diagnose the economic crash, connect it to historical trends, and warn against policies that will bring worse economic disasters in the future. Stockman presents a compelling case, based on economic theory and exhaustive research. His warnings for the economic future are chilling but powerfully argued. The “Great Deformation” named in Stockman's title is the distortion of the economy brought about by the Federal Reserve's credit expansion since 1971, when Richard Nixon ended the last vestiges of the gold standard. Stockman reviews several major financial developments of the 20th century. Prior to Nixon's move, he recounts, the developed world was governed by the Bretton Woods Agreement, signed in 1944. Although not a full-fledged gold standard, Bretton Woods kept the world economy tethered to gold. All major currencies were pegged to the U.S. dollar, which in turn was redeemable in gold at $35 per ounce. Bretton Woods limited any country's ability to inflate. For America, it meant that any inflation by the U.S. government—creation of money to cover government debt—led investors to trade value-losing dollars for value-retaining gold. Thus, the effects of creating new money would show up immediately and painfully in the banking system. Chafing under this fiscal restraint, on August 15, 1971, Richard Nixon unilaterally reneged on the agreement, ended the convertibility of U.S. dollars to gold, and laid the groundwork for an unprecedented series of financial crises. Nixon's move had an immediate, dramatic effect, Stockman writes: skyrocketing prices for oil and other commodities in the 1970s. In four years, the price of oil increased from $1.40 to $13 per barrel. A ton of scrap steel went from $40 to $140, and even such a humble commodity as coffee went from 42 cents to $3.20 per pound. Abandonment of the gold standard enabled unfettered deficit spending without immediate consequences in the capital markets, Stockman writes. . . .
  • Topic: Corruption, Debt
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Winter 2013–2014 issue of The Objective Standard. Here's an indication of the contents at hand. The increasing popularity of libertarianism is both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem because, although nominally for liberty, the ideology rejects the need to undergird liberty with an objective, demonstrably true moral and philosophic foundation—which leaves liberty indefensible against the many philosophies that oppose it (e.g., utilitarianism, altruism, egalitarianism, and religion). The increasing popularity of libertarianism is an opportunity because, although the ideology denies the need for such a foundation, many young people who self-identify as libertarian are active-minded and thus open to the possibility that such a foundation is necessary. Toward reaching these active-minded youth, my essay, “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism,” examines libertarianism in the spirit of Frédéric Bastiat, taking into account not only what is seen, but also what is not seen in common and seemingly unobjectionable descriptions of the ideology. The article exposes major problems with libertarianism, compares it to radical capitalism, shows why only the latter provides a viable defense of liberty, and emphasizes the need to keep these different ideologies conceptually distinct.
  • Topic: Education, Religion
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Because of its seemingly prophetic nature with respect to current events, Ayn Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged is receiving more attention today and selling at greater volume today than it did when it was first published fifty-five years ago. That's a good thing, because the ideas set forth in Atlas are crucial to personal happiness, social harmony, and political freedom.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Simpson, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. Among Mr. Simpson's many accomplishments, he authored a friend-of-the-court brief in the landmark case Citizens United v. FEC, served as lead counsel in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, helped overturn aspects of Colorado's campaign finance laws that restricted people's ability to fund political speech, and helped overturn New York's ban on direct shipping of wine. Simpson has contributed articles to Legal Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Times, among other outlets. He is also the author of “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America,” which was published in the Spring 2010 edition of The Objective Standard. —Ari Armstrong
  • Political Geography: New York, America, Washington, Chicago
  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Author's note: Because I want to address several key events of this story, I've written this review in a way that contains spoilers. Readers may prefer to view this outstanding film before reading the review. For anyone who loves America and wants the country defended against Islamic totalitarians and other savage enemies, a film starring active-duty Navy SEALs doing precisely that should be a rare treat. Act of Valor is that film, and it delivers fulsomely on this promise.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Hannah Krening
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: We often hear claims that America is a “Christian nation” and that “the Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order” (James Dobson). Are such claims correct? If not, how does one show it? If America is a secular nation, how can one convince ignorant but active-minded people of this truth?
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have labeled themselves “America's Comeback Team”—a political tagline that would be great were it grounded in a philosophical base that gave it objective, moral meaning. What, politically speaking, does America need to “come back” to? And what, culturally speaking, is necessary for the country to support that goal? America was founded on the principle of individual rights—the idea that each individual is an end in himself and has a moral prerogative to live his own life (the right to life); to act on his own judgment, un-coerced by others, including government (liberty); to keep and use the product of his effort (property); and to pursue the values and goals of his choosing (pursuit of happiness). Today, however, legal, regulatory, or bureaucratic obstacles involved in any effort to start or operate a business, to purchase health insurance, to plan for one's retirement, to educate one's children, to criticize Islam for advocating violence, or so much as to choose a lightbulb indicate how far we've strayed from that founding ideal. If America is to make a comeback—and if what we are to come back to is recognition and protection of individual rights—then Americans must embrace more than a political tagline; we must embrace a philosophy that undergirds individual rights and that gives rise to a government that does one and only one thing: protects rights. Although the philosophy of the Founding Fathers was sufficient ground on which to establish the Land of Liberty, it was not sufficient to maintain liberty. The founders advocated the principle of individual rights, but they did not fully understand the moral and philosophical foundations of that principle; they did not understand how rights are grounded in observable fact. Nor did the thinkers who followed them. This is why respect for rights has been eroding for more than a century. If America is to “come back” to the recognition and protection of rights, Americans must discover and embrace the philosophical scaffolding that undergirds that ideal, the scaffolding that grounds the principle of rights in perceptual fact and gives rise to the principle that the only proper purpose of government is to protect rights by banning force from social relationships. The philosophy that provides this scaffolding is Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. To see why, let us look at Rand's philosophy in contrast to the predominant philosophies of the day: religion, the basic philosophy of conservatism; and subjectivism, the basic philosophy of modern “liberalism.” We'll consider the essential views of each of these philosophies with respect to the nature of reality, man's means of knowledge, the nature of morality, the nature of rights, and the proper purpose of government. At each stage, we'll highlight ways in which their respective positions support or undermine the ideal of liberty. As a brief essay, this is, of course, not a comprehensive treatment of these philosophies; rather, it is an indication of the essentials of each, showing how Objectivism stands in contrast to religion and subjectivism and why it alone supports a culture of freedom. Objectivism stands in sharp contrast to religion and subjectivism from the outset because, whereas religion holds that there are two realities (nature and supernature), and whereas subjectivism holds that there is no reality (only personal opinion and social convention), Objectivism holds that there is one reality (this one before our eyes). Let's flesh out these differences and their significance with respect to liberty. . . .
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mohammed Atta and his minions flew stolen planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, destroying the former and murdering thousands of innocent civilians. What motivated this atrocity? What filled the murderers with such all-consuming hatred that they were willing to surrender their own lives in order to kill thousands of innocent human beings? The clear answer is that these were religious zealots engaged in holy war with their primordial enemy—the embodiment of the modern secular West: the United States of America.In their evil way, the Islamists provide mankind with some clarity. They remind us of what real religion is and looks like—not the Christianity or Judaism of the modern West, watered down and diluted by the secular principles of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment; but real faith-based, reason-rejecting, sin-bashing, kill-the-infidels religion. The atrocities of 9/11 and other similar terrorist acts by Islamists do not clash with their creed. On the contrary, they are consistent with the essence of religion—not merely of Islam—but religion more broadly, religion as such. This is an all-important lesson that humanity must learn: Religion is hazardous to your health. Unfortunately, conventional views of religion hold just the opposite. Many people believe that religion is the necessary basis of morality—that without belief in God, there can be no ethics, no right or wrong. A character in Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov famously expressed this view: “In a world without God, all things become permissible.” In the 21st century, many people still believe this. But the converse is true. A rational, fact-based, life-promoting morality is impossible on religious premises. Indeed, religion clashes with every rational principle and factual requirement of a proper, life-advancing ethics. A proper ethics, one capable of promoting flourishing human life on earth, requires the utter repudiation of religion—of all of its premises, tenets, implications, and consequences. To begin understanding the clash between religion and human life, consider the Dark Ages, the interminable centuries following the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD. The barbarian tribes that overran Rome eventually converted to Christianity, which, in the form of the Catholic Church, became the dominant philosophic and cultural force of medieval Europe. Unlike the essentially secular classical world, or the post-Renaissance modern world, the medieval world zealously embraced religion as the fundamental source of truth and moral guidance. What were the results in human life?
  • Topic: Health, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Stop letting the enemies of capitalism claim the moral high ground. There is nothing noble about altruism, nothing inspiring about the initiation of force, nothing moral about Big Government, nothing compassionate about sacrificing the individual to the collective. Don't be afraid to dismiss those ideas as vicious, unjust attacks on the pursuit of happiness, and self-confidently assert that there is no value higher than the individual's pursuit of his own well-being.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Imagine how great it would be to have your own inside tour guide to the modern financial crisis, someone able to comment on the crisis not as an onlooker, but as the leader for two decades of one of America's strongest financial institutions.
  • Topic: Government, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Michael A. LaFerrara
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The title of Mark Levin's latest book, Ameritopia, is his term for “the grave reality of our day” (p. x), an America in transformation from a constitutional republic based on individual rights into a totalitarian state. The book is not a political manifesto. For that, Levin refers the reader to his previous book, “Liberty and Tyranny,” in which he warns about “the growing tyranny of government . . . which threatens our liberty, the character of our country, and our way of life” (p. ix).
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Roberto Brian Sarrionandia
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The United States of America is heavily regulated and heavily taxed. For instance, in the “Dodd–Frank” Act—an 848-page federal law regulating almost every part of the U.S. financial services industry—one section, known as the “Volcker Rule,” lists 1,420 sub-questions that a bank must answer before it is allowed to engage in proprietary trading. Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency dictates, among countless other things, where energy companies may and may not dig or drill for resources, how much and what kind of fuel or energy they may produce, and what kind of automobiles, air conditioners, and other machinery Americans may purchase and use. The list of federal laws and regulations goes on and on.
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Robert Begley
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In Alexander Hamilton , Ron Chernow takes on the task of portraying America's most controversial Founding Father. The book provides a broad view of the landscape of early America, with special emphasis on Hamilton's achievements and his relationship to certain Founders.
  • Political Geography: America, Caribbean
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Fall 2012 issue of The Objective Standard.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Paul Hsieh
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: If someone in America needs medical care but cannot afford it, should he rely on charity or should others be forced to pay for it? President Obama and his political allies say that Americans should be forced to pay for it. Forcing some Americans to pay medical bills for other Americans, says Obama, is a “moral imperative”1 and “the right thing to do.”2 Throughout the health-care debate of 2010–11, Obama repeatedly referred to government-run health care as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” arguing that, “No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.”3 In speeches, he repeatedly cited the story of Natoma Canfield, an Ohio cancer patient without health insurance, as a justification for his health-care legislation.4 Many of Obama's supporters on the political left made similar moral claims. Vanderbilt University professor Bruce Barry wrote in the New York Times that, “Health insurance in a civilized society is a collective moral obligation.”5 T. R. Reid, former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, called universal health care a “moral imperative.”6 Ezra Klein, another writer for the Washington Post, agreed that it is an “ethical obligation.”7 But all such claims are wrong—morally wrong. There is no “right” to health care. Rights are not entitlements to goods or services produced by others; rather, they are prerogatives to freedom of action, such as the right to free speech, the right to contract, or the right to use one's property. Any attempt to enforce a so-called “right” to health care necessarily violates the actual rights of those who are forced to provide or pay for that care. If a patient needs a $50,000 operation but cannot afford it, he has the right to ask his friends, family, neighbors, or strangers for monetary assistance—and they have the right to offer it (or not). But the patient has no right to take people's money without their permission; to do so would be to violate their rights. His hardship, genuine as it may be, does not justify theft. Nor would the immoral nature of the act be changed by his taking $100 each from five hundred neighbors; that would merely spread the crime to a larger number of victims. Nor would the essence of the act change by his using the government as his agent to commit such theft on an even wider scale. The only moral way for this patient to receive the assistance he needs is for others to offer it voluntarily. Morally, he must rely on charity. Fortunately for him, there is no shortage of people willing to offer charity, nor is there a shortage of reasons why one might self-interestedly wish to do so. . . .
  • Topic: Health
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Michael A. LaFerrara
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: More and more Americans are coming to recognize the superiority of private schools over government-run or “public” schools. Accordingly, many Americans are looking for ways to transform our government-laden education system into a thriving free market. As the laws of economics dictate, and as the better economists have demonstrated, under a free market the quality of education would soar, the range of options would expand, competition would abound, and prices would plummet. The question is: How do we get there from here? Andrew Bernstein offered one possibility in “The Educational Bonanza in Privatizing Government Schools” (TOS, Winter 2010-11): Sell government schools to the highest bidders, who would take them over following a transitional period to “enable government-dependent families to adjust to the free market.” This approach has the virtues of simplicity and speed, but also the complication of requiring widespread recognition of the propriety of a fully private educational system—a recognition that may not exist in America for quite some time.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Talbot Manvel
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Toward the end of the 19th century, James J. Hill built the Great Northern Railroad across the American Northwest. This remarkable railroad transformed that barren land—labeled the “American Desert” on maps of the day—into a vibrant, productive region. Even more remarkable than the railroad, however, is how Hill built it. Hill was born in 1838 on a farm in Ontario, Canada. When he was fourteen, his father died suddenly and Hill went to work in a general store, where he learned much about what farmers in that cold but fertile region of Canada needed in order to produce their goods. A few years later, armed with this knowledge and just four years of formal schooling, the young Hill set out to make his fortune. In the summer of 1856, he arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota, a city situated on high bluffs at the end of the navigable section of the Mississippi River where the Falls of St. Anthony prevent the movement of boats upstream. As such, the city became the terminus for steamboat traffic on the Mississippi and an increasingly popular destination. In 1849, eighty-five steamboats plied the river to St. Paul; when Hill arrived in 1856, more than eight hundred steamboats were making their way there each year.1 The reason for the increased steamboat traffic to St. Paul was the bounty of the Red River Valley to the north. The bottom of an ancient glacier lake, the Red River Valley is covered with the most fertile soil in the world, and in the mid-1800s its creature-rich forests provided an abundant supply of fur. Although the high bluffs provide St. Paul protection from seasonal flooding, they made it difficult to transfer goods from the river to the city. Agile young men had to move freight from the steamboats down narrow planks to the riverbank and then manually hoist it onto horse-drawn wagons that would then climb the slippery embankment, risking accident and damage. Taking note of the scene as he stepped off the boat, Hill became an independent shipping agent on the spot. As a shipping agent, he was responsible for moving goods from ship to shore and for paying boatmen for the transportation costs of the goods delivered. At the frontier in Minnesota, all the goods needed for living had to be shipped in from elsewhere: nails, groceries, salt, plows, harnesses, saddles, sewing needles, books, and so forth. These goods passed through many hands in transit, and at each transfer point shipping costs mounted. As shipping agents managed and tracked the flow of goods, they would pay for the prior leg of shipping and tack on new charges to cover their own costs, which would then be paid by the next agent, and so on. As a shipping agent, Hill not only came to appreciate the value of the goods exchanged; he also became keenly aware of the costs of transportation. Hill realized that transportation costs often amounted to more than the cost of goods being transported. For example, from a shipping receipt in 1864 Hill noted that it cost $1,200 to ship 560 barrels of salt from Milwaukee to St. Paul, even though the cost of the salt itself was only $1,000. Of the transportation cost, $400 covered shipment by rail from Milwaukee due west to the Mississippi River town of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and the remaining $800 covered steamboat passage up the Mississippi to St. Paul. Knowing that the distances of rail and steamboat legs of the journey were roughly the same, Hill also realized that railroad transportation was cheaper than steamboat transportation, in part because no reliable railroad had been built to compete with the steamboats.2 To earn more business, Hill lowered his own charges, noticeably reducing the shippers' exorbitant transportation costs while raising his profits through increased volume. A quick success on his own, Hill was soon hired as the shipping agent for the Davidson Steamboat line, a position in which he set the shipping rates for goods throughout the line. As he had done on his own, Hill reduced rates to increase volume, and the Davidson line thrived as more and more businesses took advantage of the bargain. This strategy of low prices and high volume would become a mainstay of Hill's business practices. . . .
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Gretchen Thomas
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: “Invent your own job; take such an interest in it that you eat, sleep, dream, walk, talk, and live nothing but your work until you succeed.”1 That was Walt Disney's motto—and exactly how he lived. Passionate about his vision, he persisted until he made it reality, often overcoming seemingly impassible obstacles. In order to succeed in building his entertainment empire, and later his first theme park, Disneyland, Disney made his work his life, an all-consuming, 24/7 state of being. Even in the last years of his life, he ate, slept, dreamed, walked, talked, and lived nothing but his work—but by then his focus had shifted from filmmaking and Disneyland to Walt Disney World. According to Disney, Walt Disney World was “the most exciting and challenging assignment . . . ever tackled at Walt Disney Productions.”2 However, the Walt Disney World we know today is a far cry from what Disney himself had envisioned. Walt Disney did not intend it to be the world's largest vacation resort but rather the epicenter of a transformation in urban planning, which would improve domestic living by imbuing it with groundbreaking technology. The heart of Walt Disney World was to be EPCOT, not the theme park that currently bears that name but an actual Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a futuristic city that would serve as a proving ground for the latest science and technology. EPCOT was Disney's pet project in his later years. Sadly, he passed away before it was completed, and without his passion and persistence, the futuristic city he had envisioned would not come to be. His vision and tenacity, nevertheless, are remarkable in themselves. Long before tackling the EPCOT project, Disney persisted in the face of many setbacks and stumbles, some of which threatened to leave him homeless and hungry. Although he did everything he could to save them, Disney's first two animation studios failed. His third studio, formed with his brother, Roy, after the two moved to California, finally saw success with its popular animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Unfortunately, in the face of this success, Disney discovered that the rights to his creation were actually held by Universal. Forging ahead, he strode past this disappointment by creating Mickey Mouse, who became far more popular with moviegoers than his predecessor and brought the studio much recognition and wealth. Even after Mickey Mouse had become a regular on the silver screen, however, Disney was eager to innovate again. In his eyes, his production studio needed a “new adventure,” a “'kick in the pants,' to jar loose some new enthusiasm and inspiration.”3 In 1934, Disney began developing the studio's first full-length feature animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Despite his own enthusiasm, however, many friends and associates, including his brother and wife, thought the film would destroy the Disney Studio. Indeed, financial troubles nearly halted production. But Disney refused to give up, mortgaging his house and taking out a loan to complete the film—which became one of the most popular films of 1937 (and, adjusted for inflation, is number ten on the list of top-grossing American films), establishing him as a master in the entertainment industry. Such persistence and passion would be crucial to the development and creation of EPCOT, which, as Disney conceived it, became a monumental undertaking. He envisioned EPCOT as a revolution in urban planning, “a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems.”4 It was to be a completely functioning prototype city in which captains of industry could test their solutions for the problems of modern-day city living. For this reason, all residents would rent rather than own their homes, and Disney Corporation would constantly update, change, and test the technology therein. As Disney indicated in a 1966 promotional film, residents' homes would “be built in ways that permit ease of change so that new products may continuously be demonstrated.”5 During the workday, residents would enjoy a city geared toward maximizing their efficiency and productivity. Outside of work, EPCOT would provide them with a safe, convenient, entertaining, and educational atmosphere. . . .
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Dan Norton
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Eleven years ago, toward the end of my undergraduate years as a philosophy major at the University of Virginia, I was feeling dissatisfied with my knowledge of history. I had taken several history courses but wanted more. Because my immediate interest was ancient Greece, I decided to try a friend's recommendation, The Life of Greece by Will Durant. Finding the book at the library, I was surprised to see that it was but one volume in a massive series called The Story of Civilization—eleven substantial volumes spanning two feet of shelving.1 Although I wanted to learn more about history, I wasn't sure I wanted to learn that much. It turned out that I did. Reading those volumes—sometimes poring over large portions of them multiple times—would be one of the most enlightening and enjoyable experiences of my life. First published between 1935 and 1975, The Story of Civilization is a work of great and enduring value. Exceptional for its masterful prose as well as its size and scope, the Story is a powerful combination of style and substance. An author of rare literary talents, Durant (1885–1981) won a wide readership through his ability to make history intriguing, lively, and dramatic. His volumes, intended for the general reader and each designed to be readable apart from the others, have sold millions of copies. Some even became best sellers, and the tenth volume, Rousseau and Revolution, won a Pulitzer Prize. Individual volumes have been translated into more than twenty languages.2 Having earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1917 from Columbia University, Durant first won fame and phenomenal success with The Story of Philosophy (1926). This book sold two million copies in a few years and has sold three million copies to date; eighty-five years later, the book is still in print and has been translated into nineteen languages.3 Durant followed this book with another best seller, The Mansions of Philosophy (1929).4 His earnings from these and other books, as well as from articles and public lectures, helped free his time for writing The Story of Civilization, which would be his magnum opus. His wife, Ariel Durant (1898–1981), assisted him throughout his writing of the Story, her assistance increasing to the point that, beginning with the seventh volume, she received credit as coauthor.5 The Story of Civilization begins with Our Oriental Heritage, a volume on Egypt and Asiatic civilizations. The remaining ten volumes tell the story of Western civilization (with a substantial treatment of Islamic civilization in one of the volumes6). Durant's original intention was to tell the story of the West up to the present, but, despite working on the Story for more than four decades, he was unable to do so: “[A]s the story came closer to our own times and interests it presented an ever greater number of personalities and events still vitally influential today; and these demanded no mere lifeless chronicle, but a humanizing visualization which in turn demanded space” (vol. 7, p. vii). The increasing space he gave to each period of European history resulted in his having to end the Story with the downfall of Napoleon in 1815; moreover, he had to omit the history of the Americas entirely. He was ninety when the Story's last volume was published and had carried it as far as he could. In each volume Durant takes a comprehensive approach, covering, for each nation and in each period of its history, all the major aspects of civilization: politics, economics, philosophy, religion, literature, art, and science.7 He called his approach the “integral” or “synthetic” method, and regarded it as an original contribution to historiography.8 Elaborating on the origin of his method, he writes: I had expounded the idea in 1917 in a paper . . . “On the Writing of History.” . . . Its thesis: whereas economic life, politics, religion, morals and manners, science, philosophy, literature, and art had all moved contemporaneously, and in mutual influence, in each epoch of each civilization, historians had recorded each aspect in almost complete separation from the rest. . . . So I cried, “Hold, enough!” to what I later termed “shredded history,” and called for an “integral history” in which all the phases of human activity would be presented in one complex narrative, in one developing, moving, picture. I did not, of course, propose a cloture on lineal and vertical history (tracing the course of one element in civilization), nor on brochure history (reporting original research on some limited subject or event), but I thought that these had been overdone, and that the education of mankind required a new type of historian—not quite like Gibbon, or Macaulay, or Ranke, who had given nearly all their attention to politics, religion, and war, but rather like Voltaire, who, in his Siècle de Louis XIV and his Essai sur les moeurs, had occasionally left the court, the church, and the camp to consider and record morals, literature, philosophy, and art.9 Durant's integral history does not only occasionally consider these latter areas (which he calls “cultural history” or “the history of the mind,”)10 it emphasizes them. “While recognizing the importance of government and statesmanship, we have given the political history of each period and state as the oft-told background, rather than the substance or essence of the tale; our chief interest was in the history of the mind” (vol. 10, p. vii). (Nevertheless, the Story contains ample and excellent material on politics.) The Story is by far the most massive and thorough treatment of Western civilization by a single author (or team of two) that I have been able to find. Large teams of historians have collaborated to produce similarly large, or even larger, works. But such works, writes a respected historian, “while they gain substantially in authoritative character, are seriously lacking in correlation and are not written from a . . . harmonious point of view.”11 Harmony is indeed one of the cardinal virtues of Durant's work; readers find therein a beautifully integrated tale of man's past, a veritable symphony of history. For this reason and others—notably, Durant's grand, philosophical overviews and scintillating style—I believe that many, and perhaps most, readers will find no better place to turn for a large treatment of Western civilization than The Story of Civilization. . . .
  • Topic: Government, History
  • Political Geography: America, Europe
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Although Ayn Rand published her epic novel Atlas Shrugged fifty-four years ago, and although it has consistently sold hundreds of thousands of copies annually, Rand's magnum opus has spent decades mired in Hollywood “development hell.” Numerous producers, stars, screenwriters, and film production companies have endeavored but failed to execute a film version (see: “Atlas Shrugged's Long Journey to the Silver Screen,” p. 35). All the while, fans of the novel have anxiously waited for the day when they could watch the story come to life on the silver screen. That day is finally here. Atlas Shrugged: Part I, the first in a planned trilogy, should, for the most part, please the novel's patient fans. Fortuitously following a blueprint similar to one outlined by Rand in the 1970s (see “Adapting Atlas: Ayn Rand's own Approach,” p. 38), the film covers the first third of the story. Like the novel, the movie focuses on Dagny Taggart as she endeavors to save her struggling railroad from both intrusive government regulations and the mysterious John Galt, who is hastening the nation's collapse by causing the great entrepreneurs and thinkers of the country to disappear. She is aided in her efforts by Henry “Hank” Rearden, a steel magnate who is also being squeezed by government regulations and is anxious to put an end to John Galt's activities. Those familiar with the novel know generally what to expect: the disappearance of more and more industrialists and other great producers, the banning of Rearden Metal, the “Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule,” the initial run of the John Galt Line, and finally Wyatt's Torch and the collapse of Colorado.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Colorado
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In 2003, HarperCollins published Terrorist Hunter: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman Who Went Undercover to Infiltrate the Radical Islamic Groups Operating in America. The book is as relevant today, if not more. At the beginning of Terrorist Hunter the anonymous author, since outed as Rita Katz, has infiltrated a conference for radical Muslims. She asks herself why she is in a place where she (and her unborn baby) will probably die if anyone finds her recording equipment. Recalling her past, she goes on to answer that question. Katz was born into a wealthy family of Jews living in the then-prosperous Iraqi city of al-Basrah. Her happy childhood changed dramatically after Israel soundly defeated the Arab nations that attacked it in the Six-Day War of 1967. Unable to match Israel\'s military power, many Arabs began to take revenge on the Jews within their own borders. After the Ba\'ath Party of Saddam Hussein and his cousin Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr seized power the year following the war, they came for Katz\'s father, falsely accused him of being a traitor and a spy for Israel, and began torturing him to extract a confession. Meanwhile, Katz\'s family was moved into a small, guard-surrounded stone hut from which her mother would leave each day to beg for her father\'s release—and to which she would return with fresh bruises bestowed by her husband\'s captors. Sadly, her valiant effort was in vain. Katz\'s father was well known, and his trial was scheduled to be shown on television. The Iraqi tyrants were determined to quench their Arab citizens\' thirst for vengeance by reaching a guilty verdict. Because no amount of torture had hitherto pushed Katz\'s father to confess to the crimes he had not committed, Ba\'ath party agents invited his pregnant wife into a room he knew well—one in which, just the day before, another prisoner\'s wife was beaten and gang-raped by many guards. The agents told Katz\'s father that, if he refused to confess, they would immediately walk into that room, cut open her belly, and bring his unborn child to him on a tray. Later that evening he walked to the stand and “in a clear, unwavering voice, confessed his crimes as an Israeli spy and a traitor to the Iraqi nation” (p. 25). He was hanged soon thereafter in Baghdad\'s central square—to the cheers of a half million Iraqis. Katz goes on to tell the story of her family\'s daring escape from Iraq, which required her mother to drug the guards with Valium bought surreptitiously and then pretend to be the wife of a general in order to get a car ride to a town where they could be smuggled to safety. The remainder of their trek to safety involved hiding in the secret compartment of a chicken truck and walking across mountains with duct tape on their mouths to ensure that nobody made a sound. All this is told with the drama of a good novel. In fact, when Katz and her family are on the plane to Israel, and her little brother musters the courage to ask if it is finally OK to tell people they are Jews, you are likely to cry—just as everyone on that plane did. . . .
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York, America
  • Author: Paul J. Beard II
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Matt Sissel is a young entrepreneur who is pursuing the American dream. After returning from military service in Iraq and paying his way through art school, he opened a studio in Iowa City, where he sells his fine art and offers art lessons. Until recently, Matt's entire focus had been on furthering his education and art business. So he made the considered judgment to forgo some luxuries-such as health insurance. In his twenties, Matt is healthy and has no preexisting medical conditions. He is self-insured-paying out of pocket any medical expenses that might arise-and wants to continue to self-insure because he believes the cost of health insurance premiums is excessive and that his money is better devoted to his business. But the federal government couldn't care less about Matt's priorities and choices. Beginning in 2014, it will force Matt, along with almost every other American, to buy a comprehensive, government-approved health-insurance plan from a private insurance company, on pain of stiff civil penalties. This "Individual Mandate" is at the heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-also known as "ObamaCare"-which Congress enacted and the president signed into law in 2010. As a consequence of the Individual Mandate, Matt must act now to make financial plans: either purchase health insurance or pay a hefty annual penalty. Given the financial burden it will impose, he can no longer afford to hone his craft by furthering his education in art. Matt must focus exclusively on the creation and sale of his artwork in order to brace himself for the impending obligations the Individual Mandate imposes. Outraged that he is being forced to divert his hard-earned resources away from his education and career in order to buy a service he neither needs nor wants, Matt has decided to sue the federal government, asking the federal district court in Washington, D.C., to enjoin enforcement of the Individual Mandate on the grounds that it violates the United States Constitution. Other legal challenges to the Individual Mandate are pending in courts across the country, such as the well-known lawsuits brought by various state governments and officials whose purpose is to protect their sovereignty against federal encroachment. But few challenges take up the cause as championed by Matt, who is driven by the explicit desire to have the government recognize his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, exercised in accordance with his own values and goals.1 Let us consider the prospects for Matt's constitutional challenge to the Individual Mandate. ObamaCare's Individual Mandate In brief, here is how the Individual Mandate will work: Beginning in 2014, with few exceptions, all individuals with legal residence in the United States will be forced to purchase a health-insurance plan with "minimum essential coverage," as defined by the government. Exempt individuals include Native Americans, religious objectors, Americans living abroad, and the poor (whose health care will be subsidized). And what the law defines as "minimum essential coverage" is far more than is necessary for young and healthy individuals such as Matt. Thus, a catastrophic health-insurance plan covering only expenses related to medical emergencies-which would make sense for many Americans-would not satisfy the mandate's requirements. Moreover, individuals subject to the Individual Mandate cannot satisfy the "minimum essential coverage" requirement by self-insuring: Under the act, they are prohibited from paying for their medical expenses out of pocket.2 Thus, if Matt fails to buy "minimum essential coverage" by January 1, 2014, the government will assess a financial penalty against him for every month he remains without such coverage. The penalty for failing to purchase approved health insurance is the greater of 2.5 percent of the taxpayer's annual income, or $695 for each uninsured family member per year, up to a maximum of $2,085 per family per year-not an insignificant sum.3 Does the federal government-specifically, Congress-really have the legal power to force Matt and other Americans to buy a product or service, such as health insurance, from a private company? . . .
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: As political uprisings and civil wars rage in the Middle East, and as America's self-crippled efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda and the Taliban limp on, the need to identify and eliminate the primary threats to American security becomes more urgent by the day. As you read these words, the Islamist regime in Iran is sponsoring the slaughter of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,1 funding Hamas and Hezbollah in their efforts to destroy our vital ally Israel,2 building nuclear bombs to further “Allah's” ends,3 chanting “Death to America! Death to Israel!” in Friday prayers and political parades,4 and declaring: “With the destruction of these two evil countries, the world will become free of oppression.”5 The U.S. government knows all of this (and much more), which is why the State Department has identified the Islamist regime in Iran as “the most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the world.6 Meanwhile, the Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia is funding American-slaughtering terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban,7 building mosques and “cultural centers” across America, and flooding these Islamist outposts not only with hundreds of millions of dollars for “operating expenses” but also with a steady stream of materials calling for all Muslims “to be dissociated from the infidels . . . to hate them for their religion . . . to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law” and, ultimately, “to abolish all traces of such primitive life (jahiliyya) and to reinforce the understanding and application of the eternal and universal Islamic deen [religion] until it becomes the ruling power throughout the world.” The Saudi-sponsored materials further specify that those who “accept any religion other than Islam, like Judaism or Christianity, which are not acceptable,” have “denied the Koran” and thus “should be killed.”8 None of this is news, at least not to the U.S. government. The Saudis' anti-infidel efforts have been tracked, documented, and reported for years. As the Rand Corporation concluded in a briefing to a top Pentagon advisory board in 2002, “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader.”9 What is the U.S. government doing about these clear and present dangers? Nothing. Following the atrocities of 9/11, America has gone to war with Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, but it has done nothing of substance to end the threats posed by the primary enemies of America: the regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Instead, the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, continues the policy of seeking “negotiations” with the Iranian regime and calling the Saudi regime our “friend and ally.” This is insanity. And it is time for American citizens to demand that our politicians put an end to it. The Iranian and Saudi regimes must go. And in order to persuade American politicians to get rid of them, American citizens must make clear that we won't settle for anything less. Of course, the Obama administration is not going to take any pro-American actions against either of these regimes. But Americans can and should demand that any politician—especially any presidential candidate—seeking our support in the 2012 elections provide an explicit statement of his general policy with respect to Iran and Saudi Arabia. And we should demand that the policy be along the following lines . . .
  • Topic: Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, America, Libya, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Craig Biddle: I'm honored to be joined today by Reza Kahlili, author of A Time to Betray, a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The book is the winner of both best new nonfiction and autobiography/memoirs in the 2011 International Book Awards sponsored by JPX Media Group. Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym used for security reasons. Thank you for joining me, Reza. Reza Kahlili: Thank you so much for having me.
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I recently spoke with Dr. John David Lewis about American foreign policy, the uprisings in the Muslim world, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the light that history can shed on such matters. Dr. Lewis is visiting associate professor in the philosophy, politics, and economics program at Duke University and he's the author, most recently, of Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History. —Craig Biddle Craig Biddle: Thank you for joining me, John. John David Lewis: I'm glad to be here. Thank you for having me. CB: Before we dive into some questions about U.S. foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East, would you say a few words about your work at Duke? What courses do you teach and how do they relate to foreign policy and the history of war? JL: The courses I teach all bring the thought of the ancients into the modern day and always dive to the moral level. For example, I teach freshman seminars on ancient political thought. I also teach a course on the justice of market exchange in which I draw upon the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etcetera, and approach the question from a moral perspective. In regard to foreign policy and the history of war, I just finished a graduate course at Duke University on Thucydides and the Realist tradition in international relations. International relations studies have been dominated by a school of thought called Realism. This course explores the ideas of Thucydides and how they've translated through history into modern international relations studies and ultimately into the formulation of foreign policy in the modern day. I also teach courses at the University of North Carolina on the moral foundations of capitalism, which use Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged as its core text. I've been involved in speaking to Duke University medical students on health care where, again, I approach the issue from a moral perspective, namely, from the principle of individual rights. CB: That's quite an array of courses, and I know you speak at various conferences and events across the country as well, not to mention your book projects. Your productivity is inspiring. Let's turn your historical lights to some recent events. On the second of May, U.S. SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. This is certainly worthy of celebration, but it's also almost ten years after he and his Islamist cohorts murdered nearly three thousand Americans on American soil. In the meantime, America has gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than five thousand additional American soldiers have been killed, and now we're at war in Libya as well. In all of this, neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration has so much as touched the regimes that everyone knows are the main sponsors of terrorism, those in Iran and Saudi Arabia. What's more, neither administration has identified the enemy as Islamists and the states that sponsor them. Bush called the enemy “terror” and “evildoers,” and Obama, uncomfortable with such “clarity,” speaks instead of “man-caused disasters” and calls for “overseas contingency operations.” Are there historical precedents for such massive evasions, and whether there are or aren't, what has led America to this level of lunacy? JL: That's a very interesting question, with many levels of answers. . . .
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Private-sector colleges and universities, also known as career colleges or for-profit colleges, educate more than three million people annually in the United States. These colleges—which include the University of Phoenix, ITT Technical Institutes, Kaplan University, Strayer University, Capella University, and Monroe College—provide vital services to Americans seeking to improve their lives. Programs in career colleges range from information technology and business administration, to commercial art and interior design, to allied health care and nursing, to accounting and finance, to criminal justice and law. These highly focused, career-specific programs enable people to achieve their occupational goals and to become productive, self-supporting, prosperous, and happy. These colleges are, for many people, pathways to the American dream. Unfortunately, certain individuals and agencies in the U.S. government are seeking to cripple and destroy these schools via an assault that includes fraud, collusion, and defamation. Before turning to the details of this assault, however, let us take a closer look at the enormous life-serving value provided by career colleges.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Gideon Reich
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: What is it like to be an American diplomat trying to advance U.S. interests? In Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, John Bolton recounts his harrowing experiences in the foreign policy establishment of the United States government. The book is an enlightening introduction to the bureaucratic machinations that guide our foreign policy. At the book's start, Bolton describes himself as a “libertarian conservative” (p. 7) and tells why he agreed to join the Agency for International Development (AID) when Reagan offered him the appointment in 1980. I was attracted to AID because it involved both U.S. foreign policy and domestic policy in the recipient countries. Our goal was to make AID's programs more market-driven, to induce recipient countries to foster private enterprise, and to turn AID away from a welfare-oriented approach known as “basic human needs.” This rubric disguised a belief that poverty in developing countries was caused by a lack of resources and that poverty could be overcome by developed countries' transferring the missing resources. I regarded this as essentially backward: The creation of wealth by developing countries was the long term cure to their poverty, which they could accomplish by market-oriented policies that rewarded rather than penalized domestic and foreign trade and investment. (p. 20) While there, Bolton helped return $28 million to the Treasury, by “canceling AID projects around the world that were failing” (p. 20). He also had his first professional contact with the UN, where he says he learned much about the behavior of countries at international bodies—for instance, that “countries with which the United States has close bilateral relations are not always helpful in such bodies” and that “this was just business as usual at the UN” (p. 21). . . .
  • Topic: United Nations, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Jared M. Rhoads
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Turn back the clock for a moment to the months leading up to the March 2010 enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. What do you remember about the president's pitch for health care reform? You may recall the administration's claim that ObamaCare will expand health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans, guaranteeing that nearly all Americans will be covered. You may recall the claim that the new program will reduce waste and overhead, and save the typical American family $2,500 per year. And who could forget Obama's personal promise, delivered time and again: "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."1 With this and other rhetoric, the president and other supporters of this Act were able to push the program through Congress on a partisan vote despite low popular appeal and indeed amid public furor. But although the bill has been signed, history has yet to be written. Within the more than two thousand pages of legislation are countless provisions and authorizations for additional regulatory changes to be rolled out in the years to come. Thus Americans are left wondering what exactly will change, when it will change, and how. For everyone, the question remains: What does ObamaCare mean for me? Why ObamaCare is Wrong for America summarizes the key provisions of the new law, explaining how this historic piece of legislation fails to achieve the goals so loudly trumpeted by its proponents, and what it will actually do instead. The authors-four health policy experts from four different conservative public policy organizations-largely succeed in making a complex topic comprehensible to a general audience. For starters, they organize their analysis of the legislation into reader-friendly themes such as "Impact on Families and Young Adults," "Impact on Seniors," and "Impact on You and Your Employer." The subsection headings are descriptive and frequent, dividing the chapters into easily digestible segments, many of which are less than a page in length. . . .
  • Topic: Law
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Burgess Laughlin
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Imagine you are touring America—not its landscapes or buildings, but its intellect and soul. You have two guides. Both are practiced speakers who walk quickly from site to site, dazzle you with their commentary on a variety of subjects, and mix their personal views with statistical profiles. Such an experience awaits those who tour a dark facet of the history of American culture through two books: Richard Hofstadter's Anti-intellectualism in American Life and Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason. Each author focuses on the social and political phenomenon of “anti-intellectualism.” For our purposes, that phenomenon may be defined as social and political opposition to the practice of applying broad abstractions—usually learned from philosophers—to social issues. The two authors maintain that the application of such abstractions by intellectuals poses a threat to the social and political ambitions of some individuals (creationists and populists being classic examples), provoking their antipathy toward both the intellectuals' ideas and the intellectuals themselves. The elder guide in this case is Hofstadter, a history professor writing in the late 1950s. His purpose is “to shed a little light on our cultural problems.” [W]hat I have done is merely to use the idea of anti-intellectualism as a device for looking at various aspects, hardly the most appealing, of American society and culture. Despite the fringes of documentation on many of its pages, this work is by no means a formal history but largely a personal book, whose factual details are organized and dominated by my views. (AAL, p. vii) The heart of Hofstadter's book is parts 2–5, which cover what Hofstadter considers to be the main homes of anti-intellectualism in America: religion, politics, business, and education. The order of the four core parts and of the discussions within each part is generally chronological. In the first of part 2's three chapters, “The Evangelical Spirit,” Hofstadter focuses on what he holds was the anti-intellectualism lurking in the culture at the time of our nation's founding: The American mind was shaped in the mold of early modern Protestantism. Religion was the first arena for American intellectual life, and thus the first arena for an anti-intellectual impulse. Anything that seriously diminished the role of rationality and learning in early American religion would later diminish its role in secular culture. The feeling that ideas should above all be made to work, the disdain for doctrine and for refinement in ideas, the subordination of men of ideas to men of emotional power or manipulative skill are hardly innovations of the twentieth century; they are inheritances from American Protestantism. (AAL, p. 55) This passage is typical of both the virtues and vices of our elder guide's style. It flows well and offers interesting observations, but at the end of the passage the objective reader must stop and ask himself, “What exactly did Hofstadter just say?” For example, readers might not understand (until later in the book) that “made to work” is an oblique reference to the anti-intellectual notion that ideas are acceptable only where they apply immediately to everyday concerns, that is, “practical” in a way that excludes theories and other forms of integration. From that nebulous opening, our tour guide proceeds to do what he does best, which is narrating a flow of events accompanied by specific dates as well as names of persons, places, and publications that conveyed the views of intellectuals and their foes, the anti-intellectuals. The core of the book is not a philosophical analysis of anti-intellectualism or a history of the idea of anti-intellectualism. It is a social history, specifically a history of the struggle between various social and political groups wherein one side attacks the other side's intellectualism—as when Christian fundamentalists rejected Darwin's scientific theory of evolution in favor of a direct reading of the Bible's account in Genesis…
  • Topic: Politics, History
  • Political Geography: America
45. Iranium
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Many Americans are concerned about the Iranian regime's progress in its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, yet few are demanding that the U.S. government do anything about it. Iranium, a new documentary by Alex Traiman, seeks to change that. Narrated by Shohreh Aghdashloo, and with commentary by (among others) John Bolton, Bernard Lewis, Michael Ledeen, and Reza Kahlili, the documentary begins by looking at both the founding ideology and the constitution of the Iranian regime. It shows the Ayatollah Khomeini following the overthrow of the shah, saying, “When we revolted, we revolted for the sake of Islam.” It shows footage of him calling for a global caliphate: “This movement cannot be limited to one country only. It cannot be limited to Islamic countries either.” And it shows how Iran's constitution codifies those views, establishing a nation “in accordance with Islamic law,” providing “the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution” toward “a universal and holy government” and “the downfall of others.” “From the very beginning, explains Kenneth Timmerman, executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, Iran's leaders “considered terrorism as a tool of policy. . . . Iran set up Hezbollah . . . to have a 'cut-out' [that] could 'independently' carry out terrorist attacks with 'no fingerprints' back to Tehran.” Iranium lines up the facts like a long series of dominoes, enabling viewers to see how the murderous ideology at the foundation of modern Iran led to a constitution demanding its implementation, which, in turn, led to the creation of terrorist proxies and the terrorizing and murdering of Americans and other “infidels” worldwide. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: John David Lewis
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Examines the essence of this approach and what it's delivered so far.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: John R. Bolton is an outspoken advocate of a foreign policy of American self-interest and a domestic policy of free markets and fiscal responsibility. He has spent many years in public service, including a term as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and a term as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. He is the author of Surrender Is Not an Option (Threshold Editions/Simon Schuster, 2007) and How Barack Obama Is Endangering Our National Sovereignty (Encounter Books, 2010). Mr. Bolton is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on U.S. foreign and national security policy. I spoke with him on August 29, 2011, just before he announced (to my disappointment) that he would not be running in the 2012 presidential election. —Craig Biddle Craig Biddle: Thank you very much for joining me, Ambassador Bolton; it's an honor to speak with you. John Bolton: Thank you. Glad to do it. CB: As a teenager, you found inspiration in Barry Goldwater, whom you praised as “an individualist, not a collectivist.” I take individualism to mean that the individual is sovereign—that he has a right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness—and collectivism to mean that he is not—that he is beholden to the state or society and is not an end in himself. Is that what you mean by these terms? JB: Right, exactly. I think that, in terms of choice of government, what we should look for is a government that enhances the possibility of individual freedom and individual activity and reduces the potential for collective government action. That's just a broad philosophical statement, but I think that's what the political battle has been about for many years and particularly right now. CB: How do individual rights play into that? What is the relation between rights and freedom? JB: I think that the two are closely related. If you look at how mankind comes into civil society, the individuals bring the rights with them—they're inherent in their status as human beings and don't come from the government as a matter of sufferance. So, in a social contract, ideally what you're looking for is benefits that bring mankind together but also maximize individual liberty. That's admittedly easier said than done, but that ought to be the preference—to try and find that balance—rather than to assume that the government is going to take a larger and larger role because some people think, number one, that they're better at making decisions than individual citizens are; and, number two, that it's a politically convenient way to stay in power—to tax and regulate people in order to “spread wealth” and benefit others. CB: So you essentially take the same position as the Founders on rights and freedom: We have inalienable rights, and the purpose of government is to protect them. JB: Exactly, and that, I think, is why they created a government of enumerated powers. We've slipped a long way from that point, but that's not to say that that shouldn't be what we aspire to return to. CB: Why do you think we hear so little in politics today about the proper purpose of government and the principle of individual rights? JB: Well, I think it's been a long slide away from what the intent of the original framers of the Constitution was. And I think it's an important task of political leaders—or should be—to return to that. If the only issues are how much taxation is going to be and what the size of the government is, and as many Republicans learned over the years, so-called “me-too” policies are going to inevitably lead to defeat because the statists can always outbid you. I think that in a time of fiscal crisis, this is the opportune moment to have an adult conversation about what the purpose of government is—a conversation not about how big the size of government programs is going to be, but whether they should exist in the first place. CB: I want to ask some questions about both foreign and domestic policy. Since you turned to domestic policy there, let's begin with that. What do you regard as the fundamental cause of America's economic decline today—crashing markets, skyrocketing unemployment, sheepish investors, and so forth? . . .
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Gary Johnson currently campaigns as a candidate for U.S. president with the same outspoken fidelity to free markets, limited government, and fiscal responsibility that guided his two terms as governor of New Mexico. Aside from making headlines earlier this year with his strong opposition to an antihomosexual Republican-circulated marriage pledge, which he called “offensive” and “un-American,” he has been neglected by the mainstream press and has been excluded from several televised debates. He presses on in a struggle from which higher-polling candidates have already dropped out. Johnson started a one-man handyman company in 1976 and over the next two decades developed it to employing one thousand people. Against the odds, he launched his campaign for governor in 1994 and carried his win to a second term, a governorship marked by his stand for “freedom across the board.” During his eight years in office, his main focus was responsible management of the government pocketbook, and he earned the nickname “Governor Veto” by vetoing more bills than the other forty-nine governors combined. He cut twelve hundred state job positions, cut taxes, reformed Medicaid, promoted school vouchers, privatized prisons, and helped eliminate the state's budget deficit. An unconventional Republican, he supports the right to abortion, the legalization of marijuana, and legal equality for homosexuals. Today he retains popularity among New Mexico's voters. Goal-driven, independent, and with a zest for life, he has competed in multiple Ironman Triathlons, summited Mt. Everest, and personally built his current home in Taos, New Mexico. He's a divorced father of two and lives with his fiancée. I spoke with him just before his strong campaign push in New Hampshire at the end of August. —David Baucom David Baucom: Thank you for speaking with me, Governor Johnson. Gary Johnson: Absolutely. DB: With the decline of the U.S. economy and the emergence of the Tea Party movement, people in America are finally asking questions to the effect of, What is the proper role of government? As a candidate for president of the United States, what do you regard as the proper purpose of government? GJ: The proper purpose of government would be to protect you and me against individuals, groups, corporations that would do us harm, whether that's from a property perspective or physical harm. And that would also apply to other countries. DB: Relating to that, how would you define “rights,” and where would you draw the line for what individuals can properly claim as a right? GJ: You know, my definition of it, I guess, is the whole notion that we have too many laws. And that when it comes to rights, that they really have a basis in common sense, that they really have a basis in natural law, if you will. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. That government gets way, way, way too involved in trying to define that, as opposed to you and me working that out. DB: President Obama calls for “sacrifice” from everyone, but especially from “rich” individuals and corporations, whose taxes he wants to raise. You've said you don't think raising taxes on the rich is the way to deal with the financial crisis. As president, what would be your solution to the crisis? GJ: Well, I'm advocating the FairTax. I think we should scrap the entire tax system that we have and replace it with the FairTax. I'm talking about FairTax.org, for those who aren't aware of this proposal that I think has been around now for about ten years. By all free market economists' reckoning, it is what it is: it's fair, and it simplifies the existing tax system. So, by “simplify [the] existing tax system,” it abolishes the IRS and does away with all existing federal taxes: income tax, Social Security withholding, Medicare withholding, unemployment insurance, business-to-business tax, corporate tax. Replacing the current system would be a one-time federal consumption tax of 23 percent, which is meant to be revenue neutral, so we would still need to cut our spending by 43 percent, believing that part of revitalizing this country is balancing the federal budget and replacing it with the FairTax. . . .
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Although shot in vivid color, Paramount studios' Captain America: The First Avenger embraces a refreshing black-and-white, good versus evil worldview lacking in most of the recent spate of dark, nihilistic superhero films. The picture occurs mostly in flashback—with a very brief framing story set in the present day—during the early days of America's involvement in World War Two. Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans), like most patriotic young men of the day, is itching to enlist and join the fight. However, his motivation is more than patriotism: He does not like bullies and sees the Third Reich as the biggest bully on the planet. Unfortunately, he is too short and underweight to meet the fighting ideal, and finds himself marked “4F” at recruiting station after recruiting station. But although he does not have the physical strength of his friend, strapping U.S. infantryman “Bucky” Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan), he is at least as brave, standing up to bullies with little regard for his personal safety. Soon, the tenacious and brave Rogers comes to the attention of Dr. Erskine (played by Stanley Tucci), who is looking for volunteers to take part in his “Project Rebirth,” an experiment that aims to create an army of U.S. “super soldiers.” Because of his bravery and strong moral code, Rogers is a perfect choice for Dr. Erskine's project and becomes America's first super soldier, thanks to Rebirth Serum. (However, due to an unfortunate turn of events, Rogers remains America's only super soldier.) After capturing the public's imagination with a spectacular display of heroics, the newly minted “Captain America” is relegated to life as a propaganda tool for the U.S. government, contributing to the cause of freedom with a two-bit floor show aimed at selling war bonds. But when Rogers discovers that his old buddy Bucky's squad has been captured by Nazi super soldier Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving) and his horde of HYDRA agents, Captain America springs into action. . . .
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Joseph Kellard
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Ayaan Hirsi Ali gained international recognition in 2004 after she and Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh made Submission, a documentary about the brutal oppression of women under Islamic law. In response to the film, a radical Muslim savagely murdered van Gogh on the streets of Holland and posted a note on the filmmaker's body in which he threatened Hirsi Ali's life as well. Nevertheless, in 2007 Hirsi Ali wrote Infidel, in which she recounts the horrors of growing up female under the rights-violating Islamic cultures in Somalia and Saudi Arabia; how she fled to and settled in Holland, worked menial jobs, attended university, and collaborated on Submission; and how, in 2003, she ran for and was elected to the Dutch parliament as a candidate with a single issue: to stop the oppression of and violence against Muslim women in Holland. In Infidel, Hirsi Ali championed the Western secularist ideals that she came to adopt as true and right—free inquiry, the equal rights of the sexes, individualism, and personal liberty. Since then, she has moved to the land that she declares in her follow-up book, Nomad, to be her final home: the United States. In this latest book, Hirsi Ali shares the observations and emotional journey she has made since leaving Europe and arriving in America, even as radical Muslims continue to threaten her life for her uncompromising condemnation of Islam. In some respects Nomad demonstrates that Hirsi Ali has not only retained the intellectual independence and moral courage at the heart of her prior book, but that she has also strengthened and developed her thinking on the secular values she came to embrace. For example, in Nomad she elaborates on Enlightenment principles, including free inquiry, individual freedom, and property rights, exercising a thought process that grasps fundamentals: Every important freedom that Western individuals possess rests on free expression. We observe what is wrong, and we say what is wrong, in order that it may be corrected. This is the message of the Enlightenment, the rational process that developed today's Western values: Go. Inquire. Ask. Find out. Dare to know. Don't be afraid of what you'll find. Knowledge is better than superstition, blind faith, and dogma. (p. 214) Hirsi Ali proceeds to correctly identify Enlightenment principles as this-worldly and thus incongruent with Islam: The Enlightenment honors life. It is not about honor after death or honor in the hereafter, as Islam is, but honor in individual life, now. It is about development of the individual will, not the submission of the will. Islam, by contrast, is incompatible with the principles of liberty that are at the heart of the Enlightenment's legacy. (p. 214) She powerfully illustrates her development in the contrasts she draws between herself on the one hand, and, on the other, her relatives and other devout Muslims, both of whom cling unquestioningly to their religion and clannish traditions such as “family honor.” . . .
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, America