In 1970 I presented a lengthy lecture for the University of Arizona Students of Objectivism. Titled “Objectivism as a Religion”; this lecture was in part a reply to a book published two years earlier by the famous psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis, Is Objectivism a Religion? Ellis had no doubt about the answer to his rhetorical question. Objectivism, he claimed, is indeed a religion; it is a "dogmatic, fanatical, absolutist, anti-empirical, people-condemning creed" which is based on the assumption that "some higher power or order of the universe demands that their views are right and that all serious dissenters to their views are for all time wrong."
Needless to say, I didn’t like Ellis’s treatment of Objectivism. Rand’s ideas, as Ellis portrayed them, bore no resemblance to those I had gotten from reading Rand’s works over the previous four years. Nevertheless, the identification of Objectivism with religion struck an emotional chord with me. During my time with the UA Students of Objectivism I associated mainly with admirers of Ayn Rand, and some of those people treated Objectivism as if it were a religion.
My interest in freethought, which preceded my interest in Rand by nearly three years, had made me extremely sensitive to the influence of Christian morality on my own development, especially in the realm of sexual beliefs and desires. Guilt was a dominant feature of my youth—guilt provoked by nothing more than “sinful” desires—and I consciously attempted to rid myself of...
Read Article : Ayn Rand and I, Part 3
Rosario is Argentina's second oldest city. Located by the Paraná river, it is the home of hard-working people, a busy port, the national flag memorial, and the country's bitterest football rivalry between Rosario Central and Newell's Old Boys.
It is also the birthplace of Ernesto “Ché” Guevara.
In the last fifteen years or so, coincidentally with the rise of leftist populism in Argentina and the rest of South America, there have been plenty of tributes to the figure of “Ché.” All of these tributes are state-financed, one way or another. The most prominent is a 13-foot high statue placed in a public square.
Fundación Bases has its main headquarters in Rosario. Teaming up with the Naumann Foundation, we decided to launch a campaign to remove all the state tributes to “Ché” Guevara. We knew this would generate controversy but, honestly, we didn't expect the level of reaction that has occurred.
About the Man
So, who was this “Ché” Guevara? Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, globally known as “Ché”, came from an aristocratic, though impoverished, family. He studied medicine and when he was about to finish university he took an initiatory trip across Latin America. In some of the places he visited he saw harsh realities and even...
Read Article : Removing Statues of Violent Bigots? Start with Che
In a letter written on March 19, 1944, Ayn Rand remarked: “Fascism, Nazism, Communism and Socialism are only superficial variations of the same monstrous theme—collectivism.” Rand would later expand on this insight in various articles, most notably in two of her lectures at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston: “The Fascist New Frontier” (Dec. 16, 1962, published as a booklet by the Nathaniel Branden Institute in 1963); and “The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus” (April 18, 1965, published as Chapter 20 in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal[CUI] by New American Library in 1967).
The world conflict of today is the conflict of the individual against the state.
Rand knew better than to accept the traditional left-right dichotomy between socialism (or communism) and fascism, according to which socialism is the extreme version of left-ideology and fascism is the extreme version of right-ideology (i.e., capitalism). Indeed, in The Ayn Rand Letter(Nov. 8, 1971) she characterized fascism as “socialism for big business.” Both are variants of statism, in contrast to a free country based on individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism. As Rand put it in “Conservativism: An Obituary” (CUI,Chapter 19):
The world conflict of today is the conflict of the individual against the state, the same conflict that has been fought throughout mankind’s history. The...
Read Article : Ayn Rand on Fascism
The vast majority of people in the United States have no interest whatsoever in street battles between the alt-right (better described today in more poignant terms) and the counter-protesters. Most people have normal problems like paying bills, dealing with kids, getting health care, keeping life together under all the usual strains, and mostly want these weird people to go away. So, of course, people are shocked at scenes of young people in the streets of this picturesque town with a university founded by Thomas Jefferson screaming, “Jews will not replace us.”
What this is about is bad ideas. They crawl into the brain and cause people to imagine things that do not exist.
It’s hard to see, hard to hear. But they are not going away. For some people with heads full of violent ideology, what's happened so far is not enough. They imagine that with their marches, flags, uniforms, slogans, chants, screams, and guns, they will cause history to erupt and dramatically turn to favor them over the people they hate. Indeed, what is unfolding right now, with real loss of property and life, has gone beyond politics as usual and presages something truly terrible from the past, something most of us had previously believed was unrepeatable.
What in the world causes such a thing? It’s not about bad people as such. Many of the young men and women involved in this movement were raised in good homes and, under normal conditions, would never hurt anyone. What this is about is bad ideas....
Read Article : The Violence in Charlottesville
I love civilization. It’s a hard concept to define exactly and one from which many thinkers flee.
To me it means an environment of unfettered creativity - the cultural climate where an individual may reach as high as his or her own talents and abilities allow.
The results of this natural drive in mankind have been stamped all over Earth, from the life-celebrating Caves of Lascaux and the ancient ruins of the Greek Parthenon, to the god-like art and architecture of Renaissance Europe. Today’s wonders would make any person of these older times weep in awe had they but once glimpsed our glittering, burgeoning cities, our wondrous minicomputers casually carried around in our pockets—to say nothing of manned space travel. Instruments of exploration, like Hubble, beaming back beautiful photographs of other-galaxy nebulae hidden millions of miles away in the vastness of space have caused us to realistically wonder what other civilizations, possibly much more advanced than our own, may be flourishing while patiently lying in wait for the human love of creative discovery to find them. They may be friends or they may be foes—or we may conceivably be the only life form that possesses the sacred seeds of creativity in this whole staggering expanse of universe.
There is still so much that lies undiscovered beneath the threshold of current human knowledge that one can honestly wonder what dreams may yet come. But at the same time we happen to share our tiny planet with...
Read Article : Civilization's Precondition - Freedom from Restrictions Imposed by Others