Evolution and the Undermining of Art From the cave paintings of the Horses’ Heads to figurative art today, visual art is about perception and subject. We artists, and our ancient ancestors, look at the world around us, focus on important aspects of it, digest it, then, in acts of passion express our view of humanity. Visual art is inextricably linked to human evolution; its best examples further our potential as human beings. Visual art refines our perceptions, explores our emotional potentials, and expands our minds. But for the last century art has been under attack. In the mid-20th century these three forces––Kant's philosophy, abstract expressionists, and the CIA––congealed ostensibly to champion freedom and originality, instead accomplished an undermining of art and consequently humanity. The connections and machinations are so complicated and obtuse it is hard to take them seriously, but it does make a difference in understanding them, at least in the sense of whether or not our culture evolves. Progress is Not Automatic There are a few things that are embedded in our DNA, like sex and consciousness, but art is one of the most powerful. It has been said that the human species doesn't have instincts—that we have to make choices, make mistakes, and figure out future directions. We can implode, exploit wars, exterminate populations, and commit suicide. There are no guarantees that philosophers, experts, government institutions, and artists have it right. And we are only a few...
Recycling was one of those great ideas of the 1970s, right? One of the first great movements to save the earth from resource depletion and the land and sea from human refuse? Who could even imagine, now, a modern nation without recycling bins, recycling plants, and yoghurt containers made with recycled materials? And everybody, always, sorting what used to be called their “garbage,” now their “recyclables,” to participate in the eternal renewal of earth’s resources? Environmentalists and, as always, the media—and governments eager for a new job—used every resource of propaganda to plant the idea that recycling was just good terrestrial citizenship. And inseparable from the parable was that anything this important had to be a matter of law, the responsibility of government. Recycling was so good that people had to be forced to do it. We needed new laws on every level of government. The private actions of private citizens, business and industry, could not be relied on. Not without coercion. Recycling Has Always Been Part of the Economy In fact, of course, arguments for recycling can be found in the writings of Plato, according to no less a source than Wikipedia. Athens launched the first known municipal dump program in the western world, with laws requiring citizens to dispose of their waste at least a mile outside the city walls (no curbside collection). History records...
Over its history, antitrust law has provided a good measure of the changing views of the relative beneficence of the market and the state. When the market enjoys social respect, antitrust law has a circumscribed focus, both because the market is thought to discipline itself, and because the state is understood to have trouble figuring out when it can do better. But when the body politic becomes disenchanted with the market and enthusiastic about the capacity of the state, antitrust advocates enlist judges and bureaucrats as a roving commission to make the world a better place. The pro-market view dominated the early era of the Sherman Act in the late 19th century and holds sway today. But between these eras, antitrust became a tool of big government. And sadly today, this pro-government model has again become popular not only with the left but also with some on the right. This stirring suggests trouble ahead not only in competition law but for friends of liberty and limited government more generally. The two most important components of antitrust laws are restrictions on restraints of trade among competitors and on monopolization by single firms. The early years offered some excellent opinions that discovered the appropriate limitations on the scope of both antitrust law and the discretion of those who would enforce it. In Standard Oil v. United States, Chief Justice Edward White argued correctly that the...
Editor’s Note: Friends and members of The Atlas Society are among our greatest resources. Their energy, ideas, and support actively shape our work. Niko Gjaja is a physical chemist, entrepreneur, husband, father, and grandfather. Senior Editor Marilyn Moore, Ph.D recently interviewed Niko about his childhood in Yugoslavia during the 1940s and 1950s, about the day-to-day realities of collectivism, about immigrating to the United States to work at General Electric during its heyday in the 1960s, and about the ways he has been influenced by The Atlas Society and Ayn Rand. MM: Where were you born?  NG: I was born in Belgrade, in August 1935, to a Ph.D mechanical engineer father and a conservatory-trained pianist mother.   My father had a business, a railroad equipment repair shop in Sarajevo, but the Depression caused it to close.  He then went to work in the Transportation Ministry and gradually became an expert on high speed passenger train car designs.  He was fluent in German, French, and Italian, and for a few years before the war, he became a Yugoslav representative in the European Railroads Union. MM: What was Belgrade like when you lived there? NG: There are a lot of atrocities associated with that city.  Yet, the people there have a sense of humor and a spirit I have never seen anywhere else. Their informal motto is “Lako ćemo!” Loosely translated: “We’ll get this done easily!” On March 27, 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of Yugoslavia....
Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin (a brand of the narcotic, oxycodone), has filed for bankruptcy and the vultures (both public and private) will get a lot less than they’re hoping for. And one hopes the Sackler family, who owns Purdue, will escape lynching and bloodletting. An explanation: Purdue and the Sacklers are accused of selling an addictive narcotic painkiller (and selling it successfully). This is their sin. But what part of “narcotic” does not warn the world that it’s addictive? In fact, the product carries the following FDA warning: OXYCONTIN® (oxycodone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets, for oral use, CII Initial U.S. Approval: 1950 WARNING: ADDICTION, ABUSE AND MISUSE; RISK EVALUATION AND MITIGATION STRATEGY (REMS); LIFETHREATENING RESPIRATORY DEPRESSION; ACCIDENTAL INGESTION; NEONATAL OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME; CYTOCHROME P450 3A4 INTERACTION; and RISKS FROM CONCOMITANT USE WITH BENZODIAZEPINES OR OTHER CNS DEPRESSANTS See full prescribing information for complete boxed warning. • OXYCONTIN exposes users to risks of addiction, abuse and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. There is an “opioid epidemic” in the U.S. that reportedly includes a significant increase in heroin use and heroin mixed with fentanyl, a lethal synthetic opioid. Neither heroin nor fentanyl were or are produced and sold by...

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