[Alex:] To what degree do you think Ayn Rand’s philosophy is influencing the modern Republican Party?
Steve: I would say very little honestly. It’s really hard to say that she’s influencing the Republican party. She’s definitely influenced the right, generally speaking, in a huge way, but that does not mean necessarily that conservatives are interpreting her ideas correctly.
I would put it this way: the right is just as afraid of Rand’s ideas as the left is; the right disagrees with her important ideas just as much as the left does. But what Atlas Shrugged has done is give people who are in favor of business, in favor of the free market, in favor of capitalism an ideal to aspire to. Atlas Shrugged is the only novel I’ve ever heard of that portrays businessmen as heroes. I think if you’re on the right and you think there is something good about capitalism, Rand gave the most ringing endorsement to that view that anybody could have given. So it makes really good sense that people on the right, who are sympathetic to capitalism, would like her novel, but that’s a very different thing from them saying they agree with her.
I think she’s influenced the right in general, but the caveat is that it does not mean those on the right necessarily agree with her. When you get to things like “Trump is the Ayn Rand presidency,” that’s nonsense. She’s influenced the right, but there’s still a big gap between Objectivism and what many conservatives believe.
Activist group Black Lives Matter of Los Angeles (BLM) is calling for holiday shoppers to spend their money at black-owned businesses in a push for a “black Christmas” that aims to resist white supremacy through capitalism.
Group leaders say it’s time for people to “resist white capitalism” and divest from businesses that contribute to racial inequality. Melina Abdullah, a BLM leader who is a professor at California State University, Los Angeles (CSU-LA), is encouraging shoppers to use their money to support economic empowerment for minorities. “We say ‘white capitalism’ because it’s important that we understand that the economic system and the racial structures are connected,” said Abdullah during her weekly radio show, Beautiful Struggle.
“Anthony Ratcliff, another BLM leader and CSU-LA professor, was also on the radio show to explain the purpose of “black Christmas.” “Black Lives Matter and other organizations build a strong critique and understanding of racism and white supremacy and sexism and homophobia, transphobia, but we have to have as much hatred or vitriol against capitalism,” said Ratcliff. “Until we start to see capitalism [is] just as nefarious as white supremacy, we will always be struggling.” The advocacy group organized “black Christmas” last year too and called on consumers to shop at black-owned businesses….”
Previous black Christmas demonstrations have drawn attention, such as when protesters temporarily blocked roads to airports in San Francisco and Minneapolis in 2015. In Los Angeles that year, nine were arrested for blocking traffic on a major highway.
This, of course, is racism.
To refuse to buy a good from someone because their skin is white is racist.
Racism is the species of collectivism that advocates judging individuals by their ancestry and skin-color as opposed to the content of their character. Contrast this to the capitalist policy of purchasing the best product at the best price, i.e., the one you find most profitable.
The solution to the plight of alienated black Americans is to be productive and color-blind. The only social (political-economic) system that leaves them free to do both is laissez-faire capitalism.
Sadly, Black Lives Matter (BLM) leaders advocate the opposite policies of racism and political activism, with their advocacy of “Black Christmas” and physically blocking Airport roads.
Professor Jason D. Hill, a Jamaican-born professor of philosophy at DePaul University, writes in An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates: writes that Coate’s ideology and his book, Between the World and Me, “function as deputized stand-ins for the black male and the black experience in America, respectively. And I believe that as stand-ins, both fail. Because I write as a black immigrant who chose to live in the United States, whose biggest hope as a child was to become an American citizen, and who chose to embrace the American Dream you condemn, please consider these words my Declaration of Independence—an independence that only my beloved America could have given to me.”
Continues Hill later in his letter:
I am saddened by your conviction that white people wield such a great deal of metaphysical power over the exercise of your own agency. In making an enemy of the Dream that is a constitutive feature of American identity, you have irrevocably alienated yourself from the redemptive hope, the inclusive unity, and the faith and charity that are necessary for America to move ever closer to achieving moral excellence. Sadder still, you have condemned the unyielding confidence in self that the Dream inspires.
Hill continues to make many important points, such as why…
1. The American Dream is proof of the metaphysical impotence of racism:
In the 32 years I have lived in this great country, I have never once actively fought racism. I have simply used my own example as evidence of its utter stupidity and moved forward with absolute metaphysical confidence, knowing that the ability of other people to name or label me has no power over my self-esteem, my mind, my judgment, and—above all—my capacity to liberate myself through my own efforts.
On this matter, you have done your son—to whom you address your book—an injustice. You write: “The fact of history is that black people have not—probably no people ever have—liberated themselves strictly by their own efforts. In every great change in the lives of African Americans we see the hands of events that were beyond our individual control, events that were not unalloyed goods.”
I do not believe you intended to mislead your son, but in imparting this credo, you have potentially paralyzed him, unless he reappraises your philosophy and rejects it. In your misreading of America, you’ve communicated precisely why many blacks in this country have been alienated from their own agency and emancipatory capabilities. The most beleaguered people on the planet, the Jews, who have faced persecution since their birth as a people, are a living refutation of your claim.
2. There is nothing beautiful, noble or special about skin color per se:
You touch on your flirtation with some special black racial essentialism in your book, and it is both affecting and sympathetic: “My working theory then held all black people as kings in exile, a nation of original men severed from our original names and our majestic Nubian culture. Surely this was the message I took from gazing out in the [Howard] Yard. Had any people, anywhere, ever been as sprawling and beautiful as us?” Unfortunately, there is nothing special about the black body. There is nothing special about any racially distinct physical body per se. Black skin does not convey nobility. Neither does white skin, or yellow skin. Your body is not special until it conjoins itself to a mind and adapts nature to its needs and desires and rational aspirations, its self-actualization and manifested agency. Any human body that fails to achieve a self-cultivated moral character and inscrutable human will is merely an ecological social ballast: ignoble, exploitable, a heap of unintelligible flesh on this earth.
3. Abnegation of personal responsibility promotes the pathology of black on black crime:
This abnegation of personal responsibility assumes its logical end in your failure to grant black people responsibility for their own lives in the phenomenon of black-on-black crime. You tell your son: “Black-on-black crime is jargon, violence to language . . . . To yell black-on-black crime is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding.” Why? You give no reasons. In truth, black-on-black crime is a pathology that has to be reckoned with.
4. So-called reparations are based on the racist notion of collective guilt:
No self-respecting black person ought to take a single penny from the state for the infliction of any ancestral damage. The very premise supposes that blacks are wards of the state. If individual rights are currently being violated by states that illegally discriminate against blacks, that is a matter to be redressed in the courts. People who are possessed of self-esteem, who are dignified individuals capable of supporting themselves, do not seek any form of reparations. It is beneath them. Reason indicated that you cannot codify either collective guilt or collective entitlement. And reparations are predicated on the attribution of collective guilt, which in turn is based on the worst form of racism: biological collectivism. […] By what impertinence would you hold any white person guilty for the crime of simply being born white? You would, perhaps, imply that an accident of birth confers on them a white privilege for which they are to spend the rest of their lives atoning.
5. On why individualism is the solution to the collectivism of racism:
I myself have cultivated a love of humanity. It is a love for the human species that involves, above all, and paradoxically, a ruthless practice of individualism. This is America, where chromosomal predestination must be challenged by individual achievement.[…]
Here’s another idea: How about blacks just ask that white people not regard them as anything special and not obstruct their efforts to enhance their lives?
But I suspect my request for our being ignored and left alone to create our own destiny will not satisfy you. This is because you are trading on black suffering to create a perpetual caste of racial innocents. And the currency of your economic system is white guilt.
An eclectic essayist is necessarily a dilettante, which is not in itself a bad thing. But Gladwell frequently holds forth about statistics and psychology, and his lack of technical grounding in these subjects can be jarring. He provides misleading definitions of “homology,” “sagittal plane” and “power law” and quotes an expert speaking about an “igon value” (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra). In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aperçus, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong.
The common thread in Gladwell’s writing is a kind of populism, which seeks to undermine the ideals of talent, intelligence and analytical prowess in favor of luck, opportunity, experience and intuition. ….Unfortunately he wildly overstates his empirical case. It is simply not true that a quarterback’s rank in the draft is uncorrelated with his success in the pros, that cognitive skills don’t predict a teacher’s effectiveness, that intelligence scores are poorly related to job performance or (the major claim in “Outliers”) that above a minimum I.Q. of 120, higher intelligence does not bring greater intellectual achievements.
The reasoning in “Outliers,” which consists of cherry-picked anecdotes, post-hoc sophistry and false dichotomies, had me gnawing on my Kindle. Fortunately for “What the Dog Saw,” the essay format is a better showcase for Gladwell’s talents, because the constraints of length and editors yield a higher ratio of fact to fancy. Readers have much to learn from Gladwell the journalist and essayist. But when it comes to Gladwell the social scientist, they should watch out for those igon values.
….By negating the need for objective moral judgment and acting on it, our policymakers have landed us in a dead-end situation that sells out our ideal of individual freedom and harms our regional ally, Israel. We need to begin undoing that pattern. For a start: Stop normalizing the Palestinian movement. Stop brushing aside and playing down its crimes and vicious aims. Stop pretending that one faction, Fatah, is somehow well-intentioned — a fact refuted by its murderous, tyrannical history, not to mention its openness to allying with Hamas. Let’s recognize that the Palestinian movement is deeply hostile to individual freedom, and treat it accordingly.
Star Parker’s recent column noted that school voucher programs could allow religious parents to shield their children from bad ideas currently taught in government schools. Evolution, abortion and gay marriage are bad ideas to many religionists. Note that secularists might use vouchers to avoid their children being taught such ideas as profit is bad, sacrifice is good, words are equivalent to sticks and stones, and that racism to get diversity is OK.
(Alternatively, tax credits for education would also allow such avoidance of government indoctrination without funds first flowing through the hands of sticky-fingered, bureaucracy-expanding government bureaucrats, who could set requirements – that a school qualifies for a program only if government-approved ideas are taught – more easily than a legislature could.)
The fundamental fact is that the government’s virtual monopoly on education means every student is taught content and methods approved by the government. And the dismal results of our educational system are so well-known that late-night TV shows have frequent man-in-the-street interviews illustrating people’s ignorance of geography, history, our form of government, current events … much worse than the missing and confused content of students’ minds is the fact that they lack the correct methods of thinking. Many act as if public opinion establishes fact and feelings yield knowledge. They are not taught to think in principles because the ruling educational philosophy is pragmatism, which holds that there are no principles.
For a superlative analysis of what government schools have done to abuse education and what a free system can do better, see the book “Teaching Johnny to Think” by Leonard Peikoff and Marlene Trollope.
But the main point I want to make is about the relation of this issue to the principle of the separation of church and state. The Founding Fathers recognized the potential tyranny of giving the government control of religious ideas. At the time there were no governments monopolizing the ideas educators promulgated. If there had been, they might have seen the church/state separation rule as a narrower instance of a broader principle: there should be an ideology/state separation. The state should have no role in promoting or decrying any particular set of ideas. Its sole job is to protect the individual rights of its citizens from the initiation of force at home and abroad. — Robert Stubblefield
On his latest foreign trip to Asia, President Trump again invoked the idea of “America first.” As someone who is repelled by Trump and his presidency, I am a little reluctant to justify something he nominally upholds. But, actually, his support for it is all the more reason it needs to be clarified and defended — defended not only against those who criticize it, but against those, like Trump, who embrace it for the wrong reasons.
Schwartz succinctly identifies that “America First” means a policy of “taking action to defend the individual rights of Americans” and that to sacrifice those inalienable rights for “the nation” is a contradiction in terms.
A nation’s self-interest consists of the interests of its citizens. And there is one fundamental social value that is in everyone’s interest: individual freedom. The ultimate goal of American foreign policy — the end to which all alliances and confrontations are the means — is the preservation of Americans’ freedom against attacks from abroad. “America first” is a policy of taking action to defend the individual rights of Americans — the rights to their property, to their liberty, to their lives — when they are physically threatened.
Concomitantly, it is a policy of refusing to sacrifice those rights by elevating the needs of other nations above our own.
Schwartz then shows that “Trump’s interpretation of ‘America first’ is shaped by the collectivist notion of economic nationalism”:
A foreign policy based on self-interest, therefore, embraces free trade, with everyone (leaving aside dealings with countries that pose military dangers to us) allowed to seek out the best products at the lowest prices — which is, incidentally, how the entire society prospers. This is radically different from Trump’s outlook. Trump cannot conceive of trade as being mutually beneficial. Instead, he argues that one party’s gain comes only at another’s loss. His ideal is the conniving wheeler-dealer, master of the “art of the deal,” who manages to put one over on his partner. His view of human interaction is that one must be either victimizer or victim, predator or prey. So he calls on the government to intervene and decide who is to be favored and who is to be sacrificed.
The world’s richest 1% of families and individuals hold over half of global wealth, according to a new report from Credit Suisse. The report suggests inequality is still worsening some eight years after the worst global recession in decades.[…]
“The bottom half of adults collectively own less than 1% of total wealth, the richest decile (top 10% of adults) owns 88% of global assets, and the top percentile alone accounts for half of total household wealth,” the Credit Suisse report said.[…]
In most countries, including the US, a large wealth gap translates into those at the top accruing political power, which in turn can lead to policies that reinforce benefits for the wealthy.
The real question is: how many used political power to acquire wealth as opposed to honestly producing it economically? If someone created the wealth — like a Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos — then they rightfully own the assets they created.
Billionaire politicians and dictators (Castro, Putin, etc.) who earned their money through political means — theft and cronyism — do not.
Sadly Business Insider, like much of the anti-capitalist press, does not make that distinction.
…some of the [Alt-Right] groups that marched evince a hostility to neoliberal capitalism, which is equal to that of the most ardent supporters of Bernie Sanders, the leftwing populist who mounted a vigorous challenge to Hillary Clinton during last year’s Democratic primaries – although for the far right it comes inextricably linked to a virulent racism. Many also support the enhancement of the welfare state.
For example, those marching under the red and blue banners of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) have signed up to a manifesto that supports a living wage, sweeping improvements in healthcare, an end to sales taxes on “things of life’s necessity” and “land reform” for “affordable housing”.
An establishing principle in the document written by their leader, Jeff Schoep, is that the state “shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens”. It calls for “the nationalisation of all businesses which have been formed into corporations”.
The manifesto of Matthew Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party calls for “opportunities for workers to have jobs with justice”. And in a manifesto issued on the day of the Charlottesville march, the noted far-right figurehead Richard Spencer wrote that “the interests of businessmen and global merchants should never take precedence over the wellbeing of workers, families, and the natural world”.
Spencer has previously spoken out – including at the American Renaissance conference, a gathering of far-right activists in Nashville in July – in favour of “single payer” universal healthcare.
At the conference, Spencer gave Trump just three out of 10 when invited to rate him – because he was “too focused on the Republican agenda” of tax cuts and dismantling Obamacare.
These critiques of capitalism and mainstream conservatism are key to the socialist element of national socialism. Observers of the far right argue that understanding this is essential to demystifying the far right’s appeal, especially to the alienated millennial men currently swelling its ranks.
Dr. Richard Salsman, visiting assistant professor at Duke University, discusses misperceptions about Alexander Hamilton’s political philosophy. Salsman offered these comments during an interview for Carolina Journal Radio Program No. 723.