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  • 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: 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: Ted Gray
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Did you know that the U.S. government subsidizes forced sterilization of women throughout the Third World, and that both Republican and Democratic administrations have supported this policy? This is just one evil among many that Robert Zubrin documents in Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Craig Biddle: Thank you for joining me today, Harmon. I'm very excited about the Atlas Shrugged movie, and I know that TOS readers want to hear all about it. Harmon Kaslow: It's my pleasure. CB: How and when did you get involved in making this movie? HK: I got involved in April 2010 after being contacted by John Aglialoro, my coproducer. At that point, a movie had to be made quickly or John would lose the rights to it. So he contacted me to see if I might be able to help him put together a lower-budget version in short order. CB: As coproducers, what have been John's and your respective roles in the movie? HK: John's role was to keep the movie faithful to the book. Mine was to get the movie into production before June 15. John has probably read Atlas more than a dozen times, and during the process of writing the screenplay and getting the film into production, he was constantly rereading chapters, mulling over the elements of the story, and working to ensure that the production remained true to Rand's ideas. My job was to work with John to make the movie happen, to get all the pieces together so that we could say “action” and make certain the film was completed. CB: Atlas Shrugged is a 54-year-old story. Why do you think it matters today? HK: For starters, many events from the story parallel real-life events today. For instance, whereas in the story the government passes business-thwarting laws such as the “Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule” and the “Equalization of Opportunity Bill,” in real life today the government is passing laws such as the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” and the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” But more fundamentally, the story matters because it dramatizes timeless philosophic truths about human nature, the role of reason in human life, the morality of rational self-interest versus predation or “greed,” the role of the government and of the citizen, and man's need of political and economic freedom. These truths will always matter. . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • 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: Joshua Lipana
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: An insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is ravaging the nation's countryside.1 Children as young as twelve are forced to join the “New People's Army” (NPA) and to fight for the communist cause.2 Farmers are often killed for refusing to support or join the communist cause. Businessmen are threatened with death or the destruction of their property should they not pay taxes to the revolutionaries. Politicians in areas of strong communist influence either become puppets of the CPP-NPA or are murdered. This insurgency has killed more than 120,000 Filipinos to date, and the body count is rapidly rising.3 The communist insurgents' ultimate goal is to conquer the nation, and they are fighting toward this end via two means. The first of these is armed force. According to Jun Alcover, a former high-ranking Communist Party member turned anticommunist congressman, the CPP hopes “to win the revolutionary struggle and change the social, economic, and political landscape in the Philippines—[through] armed revolution, Mao Zedong style.”4 Yettan Verita Liwanag, a coauthor with Alcover of the book Atrocities Lies: The Untold Secrets of the Communist Party of the Philippines, details the communists' plan to carry out this bloody insurrection. The first step would be to draw a significant number of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) away from the island of Luzon (where the capital is) to the southern Island of Mindanao, where the NPA, allied with secessionist forces such as the Moro National Liberation Front and the Bangsa Moro Army, would be able to bog down the AFP. “Attacks from the combined forces would tie down a large part of the AFP in the south. By splitting the AFP, NPA forces in the Visayaz could then contribute to the uprising by simultaneously assaulting their areas of responsibility. Finally, after achieving strategic advantage over the elements of the AFP by dividing its attention,” the communists in Luzon could “then strike the National Capital Region by surrounding it with pockets of Red-controlled areas and enveloping it from the inside” with a massive uprising of armed and non-armed supporters, ranging from workers to leftist students.5 This is the communist dream of violent revolution as envisioned by the founder and leader of the New People's Army—however, it is a long shot.6 The communists know that the AFP, which is far more powerful than their own modest forces, would almost surely win an all-out military conflict. So the communists are also fighting for control of the Philippines on a second, more insidious front. The CPP-NPA is trying to increase its reputation as a legitimate political party within the international community; meanwhile, it is smearing the Philippine government and the AFP as human-rights violators and mass murderers. The communists hope ultimately to cause enough commotion to invite direct intervention in Filipino affairs from foreign entities (including the United Nations), leading to pressure from those entities to accommodate the communists and perhaps even create a coalition government with them.7 In this way the CPP-NPA could wield much power in the Philippines while reducing the damage to its insurgency force. Even more amazing than the fact that a remnant of the Cold War severely threatens the Philippines is the fact that the Philippine government is permitting it to do so. From its prime in the 1980 of tens of thousands of “comrades,” the NPA has been reduced to a few thousand—a number that the Philippine government could easily squash. Yet a continuous policy of accommodation and appeasement from the Philippine government has allowed the NPA to survive, threatening the prosperity and lives of all Filipinos. . . .
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: Philippines
  • 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: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: It is 1939 and England is in crisis—war looms, the government is in chaos, the people are in despair. All eyes turn to the country's reluctant, recently crowned monarch, George VI, to offer stirring words that will brace them for the coming storm. But there's the rub. The king suffers from a paralyzing stammer, and there are grave doubts that he will be able to deliver the speech that will unite his nation. Tom Hooper's Academy-Award winning The King's Speech is much more than a simple, inspiring wartime tale of a historical figure overcoming a physical and psychological ailment. The story of how Albert, Duke of York, later King George VI, overcame his stammer to give a series of rousing wartime speeches that united and inspired his nation is indeed the framework of the film. But at its heart, the film is the story of the power of the human mind and how hard work and perseverance—not miracles and wishes—are the bulwarks of the human spirit. The film opens in 1925. Albert (played by Colin Firth) must deliver the closing speech of the Empire Exhibition. The king's second son is terrified. He is led to the podium where his speech will not only be heard by the assembled crowd but is being simultaneously broadcast across the Empire. The time comes, and in what can only be described as sheer agony, Albert chokes out the first few words. He is next seen several months later at a session with a so-called “speech therapist” who insists that smoking will “relax the throat” and that stuffing one's mouth full of marbles is the “classic” cure for stuttering. Both remedies, unsurprisingly, fail. Albert, with the help of his wife, Elizabeth (played by Helena Bonham Carter), eventually lands himself in the offices of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist, who promises that he can help Albert (whom he insists on calling “Bertie” to the prince's continuing disdain) overcome his stammer and speak clearly. The eccentric speech therapist delivers. Through hard work, setbacks, and triumphs, Logue, with sometimes unusual therapeutic techniques and a wry bit of psychoanalysis, treats the prince and helps him rediscover the confidence and self-esteem that had been robbed from him during his bleak childhood. The efforts culminate in the pivotal speech that Albert, as king, must give. Success is the only option—and the psychological tightrope the king must cross during this moment is more compelling than any explosive action sequence one might imagine. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Australia, England