Editor's Note: This essay was written in 1991 about the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, it appears that socialism is coming back from the grave. The basic differences between socialism and capitalism highlighted in the article have not changed. The ghost of Karl Marx, a specter that haunted Europe for over a century, was finally exorcised when the Soviet Union abolished its Communist Party, and then abolished itself. But socialism isn't dead. Will capitalism survive? If it does, it will owe a large debt to a woman who witnessed the birth of communism, and became one of the most eloquent defenders of capitalism. Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, in what was then czarist Russia. She was twelve when Lenin seized power, and spent her youth observing the horrors of Marx's ideas in practice. She fled the Soviet Union as a young woman, arriving in New York with little English and less money. She wrote two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead in 1943, and Atlas Shrugged in 1957, which continue to sell at a vigorous pace. She founded a philosophical movement, Objectivism, which challenged the conventional wisdom in philosophy, psychology, politics, and other fields. Rand was the most profound critic of socialism, and defender of capitalism, in our time. She was not an economist. It's obvious now that Marx wasn't much of an economist either. But like Marx she was a prophet who grasped the deep moral issues at stake in the way we organize...
Ayn Rand wrote about envy in her novels, her popular nonfiction, even in her journals and letters. It was a problem she examined from every angle. But why did the champion of individualism, achievement, and free-market capitalism concern herself with such an ugly topic? The reason is that Rand considered envy uniquely evil––a personal failure, a social cancer, and a corrupt and cynical political ploy. In “The Age of Envy,” Ayn Rand defined envy as “hatred of the good for being the good.” Hers is an important definition, because it gets to the core of envy’s pernicious nature. What is Envy? Rand recognized that the term “envy” is variously applied to different things. Envy is not to be confused, for example, with a legitimate resentment of unearned success, as when the immoral defeat the moral, or with an acknowledgment that a failure was deserved, as when the immoral lose. Rand distinguishes those responses as proper to “a sense of justice.” The recent college admissions scandal is a good example. An acknowledgment that the people involved are liars and cheats has nothing to do with envy of their wealth or status. Nor is it envy to dislike a policy-maker who demands you sacrifice your future for the sake of the planet. If you value yourself, then you consider self-sacrifice a vice not a virtue, and you can legitimately resent that policy-maker’s demands. She didn’t even regard the desire for other people’s successes,...
The March 4 headline in Buzzfeed was startling but perhaps not surprising: “WWF’s Secret War: WWF Funds Guards Who Have Tortured and Killed People.” The WWF, of course, is the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund), a leading environmental group that boasts annual revenues of $335 million and offices in 40 countries. At that size, one would expect the WWF to be doing a lot more than recycling and eating granola. Indeed, as the Buzzfeed article—actually three articles, stretching to over 11,000 words—makes plain, the WWF’s critter-friendly vibe cloaks a strong hammer: “In national parks across Asia and Africa, the beloved nonprofit with the cuddly panda logo funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.” Moreover, as Buzzfeed also details, the WWF has actively worked with governments, such as that of Nepal, to clear away entire local populations to make room for parks—and the experiences of the locals have not been happy ones. To be sure, all throughout human history, people have been fighting over territory. And beyond the myriad wars, conquests, and banditries waged over land-lust, the past is also replete...
Author’s Note: A Sharia London is the story of the transformation of a mild-mannered, politically-correct man into a fearless crusader. Marlon Stone, a lecturer in Post-Classical History at the University of Reading, U.K., is shockingly awakened to the dark underbelly of orthodox Islam in London. Eventually he will remodel himself fully: “But I realized that my calling was in making history … not in teaching it.” Marlon is attracted to Jamila Khan, his student. Born and raised in London, young Jamila has secretly become an apostate to Islam, and works covertly to liberate women oppressed by radical Islamism. She befriends Nafisa, an immigrant who helps her rescue a child bride-to-be. Later, while in class, Jamila receives a text from Nafisa: “They found me.” This excerpt begins after Jamila zips out of class abruptly and sprints across the campus. Editor’s Note:  A Sharia London is part of The Writers Series, a regular feature in which we excerpt the work of novelists who have been influenced by Ayn Rand. Reading, United Kingdom Finally, her cab arrived. She got in, but, with no idea of where to go. Sitting down did not ease her breathing, still heavy from the sprinting, her nervous energy blocking the slowdown. She saw...
“’The king died, and then the queen died,’ is a [chronicle] story, while ‘The king died, and then the queen died of grief,’ is a plot.”—E.M. Forster In the former, there are two independent events. In the latter, the second thing stems from the first thing. Three thousand years ago, Aristotle spoke about a plot being the sequence of events linked by cause and effect relationships. In Aristotelian terms, the final causation must drive all preceding events. So if we are plotting, we are constructing a sequence of events causatively, linked in linear time, about goal-directed action that results in a resolution. And we ought to follow the Chekhov’s Gun principle—i.e. to eliminate everything that is irrelevant. Faced with the question of a process for what is essentially a highly creative endeavor, it is important to establish what it is that is being first constructed. It’s the plot, not the narrative. How we write or show the sequence will become the narrative. Later. A Plot Serves as the Base for the Narrative In other words, a plot and a narrative are not the same thing. In the 2015 Academy Awards Best Picture winner Birdman, “the narrative starts too late in the plot.” What do I mean by that? By the time Birdman opens on the screen, the protagonist is down and out, and looking to put up a Broadway play to revive his flagging acting career. But his past is a necessary...

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