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This week, the opposition forces in Venezuela are still in the streets, struggling with government forces, to protest last week’s lurch of Socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s government toward dictatorship. Thousands of people blocked the main Caracas highway on April 6,  chanting "No more dictatorship!" It appeared that the demonstrators might march on the office of state “ombudsman,” the government's so-called “human rights advocate.” An opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, put it succinctly: "The human rights advocate has to stop being the Socialist Party advocate!" But government forces blocked the march, clashing with young protesters in a scene repeated over and over again in the past 15 years. Protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails and government forces fired tear gas. It appears that the opposition may continue its protests for now, but socialism in Venezuela is far advanced. Venezuela has triple-digit inflation, shortages of even basic foods and...
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Has the United States become truly and thoroughly “polarized”? Two camps (very broadly speaking) face each other with extreme positions, implacable in their intent to defeat the other, incapable of tolerance for the opposing view, and screaming insults and shaking fists? If this isn’t polarization, what is? Ayn Rand believed that the answer to that question was fundamental and urgent enough to justify devoting her first issue of The Ayn Rand Letter (October 11, 1971) to “Credibility and Polarization.” Almost always, a controversy that won that kind of attention from Ayn Rand involved epistemology—specifically, the nature, pivotal importance, and (often) abuses of concept formation. “One of their methods,” she wrote, speaking of modern intellectuals, “is the destruction of language—and, therefore, of thought and, therefore, of communication—by means of anti-concepts.” An anti-concept is a word attached to a...
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The idea for a symposium on the life and thought of Nathaniel Branden came in 2012, two years before Branden’s death. Branden himself knew about and approved of the symposium but never saw it completed before he passed away. The editorial board of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies conceived of this symposium as a wide-ranging, probing treatment of Branden’s vast and complex career, not just of his years with Ayn Rand. The response from potential contributors exceeded their expectations; they were inundated with submissions. What was supposed to be one volume became two. The once-slender manuscript grew to over 300 pages bearing the title “Nathaniel Branden: His Work and Legacy.”  This is the first such work of its kind to assess Branden as a central figure in both philosophy and applied psychology in the latter half of the twentieth century. Although the contributors to this collection come from various disciplines and represent different, sometimes incompatible positions, the editors received no contributions from the more “fundamentalist” Objectivists, and none from scholars associated with the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI). The editors emphasize this...
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“There are some rules I’m perfectly willing to obey,”  explains Howard Roark, the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s 1943 best seller, The Fountainhead.  “I’m willing to wear the kind of clothes everybody wears, to eat the same food and use the same subways. But there are some things which I can’t do their way.” Howard Roark is nominally an architect.  But his unwillingness to “think the way of company men” is what makes him the quintessential entrepreneur.  It’s his entrepreneurial nature that makes him a beacon for those of us who have experienced the soul-numbing conformity of a corporate job - and given us the courage to strike out as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs Can Relate Have you ever experienced a toxic work environment where creativity takes a backseat to conformity and productive achievement is trumped by political ploys?  Once I worked for a popular New York hotel during a time of reorganization.  I had a dual reporting line to two executives -- call them Pointy Boss and Round Boss.  Pointy Boss told me to “buy this software.”  A few days...
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I haven’t made up my mind about the debates regarding “nationalism,” conducted mostly in terms of epithets and denials, that have poisoned political debate since Donald J. Trump burst onto the U.S. political scene. “Nationalism” has been defined as an aspect of our self-identification with our country or “homeland” that is “…based on shared characteristics such as culture, language, race, religion, political goals or a belief in a common ancestry.” More narrowly, it has been defined as the favoring of self-government by those living in a nation” rather than by an occupying power, say, or colonial power. Yet another definition, which takes us into the controversy that arose in the 2016 election, is “the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.”  Our overnight most famous contemporary...


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