Thursday, March 31, 2016

The six contradictions of socialism in the USSR

1. There is no unemployment — yet no one is working.
2. No one is working — yet the factory quotas are fulfilled.
3. The factory quotas are fulfilled — yet the stores have nothing to sell.
4. The stores have nothing to sell — yet people’s homes are full of stuff.
5. People’s homes are full of stuff — yet no one is happy.
6. No one is happy — yet the voting is always unanimous.

Read more

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On proper functions of a government..

"The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law."

~ Galt's speech (from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On morality that’s on a gold standard..

"There’s nothing of any importance in life—except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It’s the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they’ll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that’s on a gold standard."

~ from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Tibor Machan Story

Tibor Machan telling the dramatic story of his life from Communist Hungary to philosopher of freedom in the U.S.

Thomas Sowell - Wealth Disparity

Friday, March 25, 2016

Civilization is not inherited

"Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again." ~ Will Durant

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Orwell on the High, the Middle and the Low (1984)

In Orwell's 1984, one of the most fascinating characters is Emmanuel Goldstein who is the principal enemy of the state and is depicted as the head of a mysterious (and possibly fictitious) organization called "The Brotherhood". This is the excerpt from the chapter "Ignorance is Strength" from the book or the pamphlet that is attributed to Goldstein in the book:

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim - for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives - is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High. Presently a new Middle group splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle begins over again. Of the three groups, only the Low are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims. It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimetre nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Progressives are the Regressives

"The discussion tends to treat the student protesters as if they were adults, with views of their own. They are not. They are adolescents whose outlook is created by the faculty – and by the wider culture promoted by the intellectual establishment. Make that “by the Regressives who control the intellectual establishment.” (I refuse to call anti- technology, anti-science, anti-progress emotionalists “Progressives.”). The students are obedient absorbers of what they have been taught. It begins much earlier than college, but it is in college that the lessons are solidified. The media should be exposing the content of the courses the students are taking..."

~ Harry Binswanger in 'Who's To Blame for Campus Censorship' (A discussion being hosted on the HBL Platform)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

On Kant

On free will

"He has the power to use his cognitive faculty as its nature requires, but not the power to alter it nor to escape the consequences of its misuse. He has the power to suspend, evade, corrupt or subvert his perception of reality, but not the power to escape the existential and psychological disasters that follow." ~ Ayn Rand in The Metaphysical and the Man-Made

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On Communism & Fascism

Under both systems, sacrifice is invoked as a magic, omnipotent solution in any crisis—and “the public good” is the altar on which victims are immolated. But there are stylistic differences of emphasis. The socialist-communist axis keeps promising to achieve abundance, material comfort and security for its victims, in some indeterminate future. The fascist-Nazi axis scorns material comfort and security, and keeps extolling some undefined sort of spiritual duty, service and conquest. The socialist-communist axis offers its victims an alleged social ideal. The fascist-Nazi axis offers nothing but loose talk about some unspecified form of racial or national “greatness.” The socialist-communist axis proclaims some grandiose economic plan, which keeps receding year by year. The fascist-Nazi axis merely extols leadership—leadership without purpose, program or direction—and power for power’s sake.

Ayn Rand in “The Fascist New Frontier,” The Ayn Rand Column (Delivered as a lecture at the Ford Hall Forum, Boston, in 1962)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

On Voting

Peter Schwartz, the author of In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice Is Unjust and Destructive, makes these interesting points on the subject of voting:

Does your lone vote matter? In an election, with so many votes being cast, some people wonder why they should go through the trouble of casting a ballot.

But this is a misguided premise. In deciding whether or not to vote, your premise should be: “I’m an individual living in a free country, and voting is what free individuals ought to do.” Voting is the means of choosing your political representatives—the representatives whose job involves the protection of your liberty. You should want the winner to be the candidate who best represents your political values. And in pursuit of that goal, you do what is possible to you; you do not bemoan the metaphysical fact that you exist as only a single individual, and therefore have only a single vote.

When you attend an enjoyable concert or play, you applaud the performers at the end. You don’t say, “There are thousands of people in the audience, so what difference does my clapping make?” You applaud worthwhile performers, out of loyalty to the principle that one should express—to the performers, to the audience, to oneself—one’s view of the performance. When it comes to voting, the relevant principle is that everyone ought to be concerned with the political system in which he lives. Casting a ballot for a worthwhile candidate is a means of expressing that vital concern.

This is not to suggest that there is some unchosen duty to vote. If no candidate has any significant virtues, if the choice is between two equal evils, then it is perfectly reasonable to abstain from voting. The same is true when the vote is for some minor office. But in a Presidential contest when there is a basis for preferring one candidate over another—or, to make the case clearer, let’s say there is a Thomas Jefferson on the ballot—it would be wrong to tell yourself that everyone else should vote for him, but that that it’s pointless for you to vote. If your vote is pointless, then so is everyone’s. One vote does indeed make a difference—because that “one vote” is the product of the proper decision of each and every voter.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Kipling wrote the poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" in 1919. This was one of the most tumultuous periods in world history.  The war had ended on November 11, 1918, and the war-related traumas of death and destruction, combined with the outbreak of the great Spanish flu epidemic between 1918 and 1920 (which killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide), had left the people dazed, and desperate for some sort of deliverance.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

    AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

    We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

    We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

    With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ayn Rand - Conservative Sellout of Capitalism

On moral cowardice

"Moral cowardice is the necessary consequence of discarding morality as inconsequential. It is the common symptom of all intellectual appeasers. The image of the brute is the symbol of an appeaser’s belief in the supremacy of evil, which means—not in conscious terms, but in terms of his quaking, cringing, blinding panic—that when his mind judges a thing to be evil, his emotions proclaim its power, and the more evil, the more powerful."

~ Ayn Rand in “Altruism as Appeasement,” The Objectivist (1966)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Great Argument for Free International Trade by Friedman

One does not and cannot “negotiate” with brutality

"One does not and cannot “negotiate” with brutality, nor give it the benefit of the doubt. The moral absolute should be: if and when, in any dispute, one side initiates the use of physical force, that side is wrong—and no consideration or discussion of the issues is necessary or appropriate."

~ Ayn Rand in The Objectivist (March 1969)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

On moral bankruptcy of today’s liberal establishment

"The moral bankruptcy of today’s liberal Establishment (including its concomitant: the erosion of the concept of individual rights) is the basic cause of the young thugs’ activities. The granting to these thugs of such titles as “political dissenters” and “idealists” is the major reason of their accelerating growth. The alleged economic justification of their violence — the notion that it is caused by poverty — would be inexcusably evil, if the notion were true; but it becomes grotesque in the light of the mounting evidence that the young thugs are predominantly children of the well-to-do." 

~ Ayn Rand in Political Crimes

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Disfranchisement of the Right

The non-philosophical attitude of most rightists, who surrendered the intellect to the leftists . . . permitted the intellectuals to play the game of “window dressing,” i.e., to preach political tolerance or impartiality and to practice it, on suitable occasions, by featuring the weakest, most befuddled champion of capitalism as a representative of the right. (Which led people to the conclusion: “If this is the best that can be said for the right, then the leftist position must be true.”)

~ Ayn Rand in 'The Disfranchisement of the Right' (The Ayn Rand Letter)

Ayn Rand and the "New Intellectual"

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

This 'zipper' truck is radically changing the way we build tunnels

Ayn Rand on Government Financing in a Free Society

In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a government—the police, the armed forces, the law courts—are demonstrably needed by individual citizens and affect their interests directly, the citizens would (and should) be willing to pay for such services, as they pay for insurance.

The question of how to implement the principle of voluntary government financing—how to determine the best means of applying it in practice—is a very complex one and belongs to the field of the philosophy of law. The task of political philosophy is only to establish the nature of the principle and to demonstrate that it is practicable. The choice of a specific method of implementation is more than premature today—since the principle will be practicable only in a fully free society, a society whose government has been constitutionally reduced to its proper, basic functions.

~ Ayn Rand in Government Financing in a Free Society (The Virtue of Selfishness)