Simpson: “Big Gap” Between Objectivism and Conservatism

From Is Ayn Rand Affecting Trump’s America? An Interview with Steve Simpson | Merion West.

[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.

Read the rest: Is Ayn Rand Affecting Trump’s America? An Interview with Steve Simpson | Merion West.

Black Lives Matter Group Advocates Racism Because They Hate Capitalism

Black Lives Matter Group Advocates Racism Because They Hate Capitalism

Another example of why anti-capitalism and racism go hand-in-hand is evidenced in a Newsweek article, Black Lives Matter Wants to Bring Down White Capitalism With ‘Black Christmas’:

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.

James D. Hill’s Moving Declaration of Independence From Ta-Nehisi Coates Racist Anti-American Ideology

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 Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates is must reading.

Malcolm Gladwell: Talented Writer; Sophistic Thinker

The talented writer and deep thinker, Steven Pinker identifies the essence of Malcolm Gladwell in his book review of ‘What the Dog Saw – And Other Adventures,’ by Malcolm Gladwell – NYTimes.com:

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.