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 “nationalist” is Steven Bannon, the successful businessman, movie producer, and revolutionary media innovator who became head of President Trump’s successful election and is now his national security advisor. That Mr. Bannon has become perhaps the most feared, loathed, and attacked (and smeared) man in America says little about his...
Ayn Rand issued many oft-repeated admonitions—almost all relating to the requirements of reason. None is more famous than “Check your premises,” which could be called Clue #1 in solving the eerie mystery that drives Atlas Shrugged. Another is “Context, context, context!” In my neck of the woods, Long Island, the newspapers and news shows are alight with stories of arrests and indictments in the little township of Brentwood. Last September, this suburban town of 60,000 began to discover bodies in the woods: seven of them by the end of that month--all teenagers, most from the same school, all beaten, hacked, or stabbed to death. Two were girls only 15--one black, one Latina--lifelong best friends and school basketball players. The two girls had been slain while fleeing for their lives, brought down by baseball bats and machetes, then finished off as they lay helpless. Police were criticized for permitting a situation like this to develop. All suspicions were focused on a gang called M-13 [“Mara Salvatrucha”], teenagers from El Salvador who were students in the Brentwood Union Free School District. But no arrests were made at that time, nor for six months, until now, when local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) broke the case. Tonight, 13 gang members are arrested and charged in a 41-count indictment; except for two who were juveniles when the murders were committed, those arrested face the death penalty or life in prison. The oldest is 21. Once upon a time, as the...
“Anyone Who Fights for the Future Lives in It, Today” --Introduction to The Romantic Manifesto At times, Ayn Rand permitted herself to write of Romanticism with a terrible yearning redeemed only by her fighting spirit. In the introduction to The Romantic Manifesto (1969) she wrote: As a child, I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War I world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history…If one has glimpsed that kind of art—and wider: the possibility of that kind of culture—one is able to be satisfied with nothing less…. It is that knowledge I want to hold up to the sight of men…before the barbarian curtain descends (if it does) and the last memory of man’s greatness vanishes in another Dark Ages. But this was Ayn Rand, so, of course, the rest of the Romantic Manifesto is dedicated to a brilliant, inspiring presentation of the nature, philosophical roots, craft, and life-giving importance of Romanticism. As she wrote, “There is no Romantic movement today. If there is to be one in the art of the future, this book will have helped it come into being.” An “End in Itself” The Romantic school of literature--its heroes and projection of a sunlit world, whatever the struggle required to reach it--was Ayn Rand’s earliest exposure, as a girl in Russia, to a new universe of philosophy. She chose to be a novelist while still in a world where long-term ambition seemed a bitter taunt. Against all odds, she devoted her life to the creation in...
Porn and art generate two classic human responses: "Art is in the eye of the beholder" and "I know porn when I see it." Sometimes these responses overlap such as in reaction to erotic Egyptian drawings, Ancient Greek wine vases, 19th century etchings and literature, and in 20th century erotic photos, movies, and adult cartoons. In these cases, we observe art with erotic touches or eroticism with artistic touches. What is the difference between them? And can we find the spot that divides them? Erotic and Satirical Papyrus. Papyrus, Der el-Medina, New Kingdom,Dynasty XX (1186 – 1070 BCE). Turin Museum Erotic scene on the rim of an Attic red-figure kylix, c. 510 BC. Alfred Beardsley Novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand is passionately adamant about where her boundaries are: "I want to state, for the record, my own view of what is called "’hard-core’" pornography. I regard it as unspeakably disgusting. I have not read any of the books or seen any of the current movies belonging to that category, and I do not intend ever to read or see them." John Stagliano, a porn producer and an Objectivist, said,: "My argument that pornography is art hinges on the value I put on sexual arousal. I submit that is as valid an emotional response as fear, hate, joy, or any other emotion. Those that don't think pornography is art perhaps don't value the sexual response and therefore dismiss porn as art. Still, if their response to it was immediate revulsion than that in itself proves that it is...
“Productive work is the road of woman’s unlimited achievement and calls upon the highest attributes of her character: her creative ability, her ambitiousness, her self-assertiveness...her dedication to the goal of reshaping the earth in the image of her values.” Recognize the quote above? The gender pronouns may have been changed, but the wisdom of the author is eternal, and never more relevant than today, on this so called “Day Without Woman.” Ayn Rand was not just a philosopher who celebrated productive work as the purpose of a human being’s life, she herself was an enormously hard working novelist, philosopher and advocate of human rights (inclusive of women’s rights, ladies). True, she used the device of a “strike” to demonstrate how when one removes the pillars (the most creative, productive elements) of an economy, the economy -- and society -- will collapse. But today, the women's strike supporters call on us to stand for something by doing nothing. Other women -- like me -- will celebrate working women by living our values: work, creativity, and production. Our motto: “I am woman, watch me work.” Somehow this is a controversial viewpoint for an American woman to have on March 8, 2017. Or at least that’s my interpretation from the sentiments I’ve seen on social media and in the press surrounding the movement, “A Day Without a Woman.”It appears that the movement and its proposal for women to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor is pushing women into a forced...

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