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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