After hearing some buzz about Lisa Duggan’s Mean Girl, I decided to read it for myself to see what it was all about. Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed was published in May of 2019 by University of California Press as a part of the American Studies Now Initiative, an activist-oriented literary press whose main focus is the publication of a new series of “short, accessible books on Black Lives Matter, climate change, neoliberalism, BDS, the continuing urban crisis, indigenous politics, queer and trans issues, the crises in higher education and more. They are designed to provide timely, provocative analysis for teaching, for activism, and for engagement now.”  The author, Lisa Duggan, self-identifies as a “queer feminist and leftist journalist, activist, and Professor of Social & Cultural Analysis at New York University.” Although I didn’t research Lisa Duggan until after I finished the book, it didn’t take long for me to grasp where the author is coming from ideologically, attempting to link Rand to “our contemporary culture of greed” (Duggan 12). This is not a particularly novel tactic – nor is this a book based on new scholarship, or an in-depth analysis of Rand’s work. Rather, it’s a retread of all the various hackneyed...
As Democratic presidential candidates debate their competing promises to voters, without the slightest reference to the concept of property rights, the new “Trump” Supreme Court recently handed a stunning victory to defenders of property rights. On June 21, the U.S. Supreme Court, voting 5:4, with the majority including Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, flatly reversed a 34-year-old Court decision that had stripped Fifth Amendment protection from property owners in the so-called “takings” cases. Guess which four justices dissented from the majority decision? Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. In other words, the justices were aware of exactly how important this decision could be in upholding the fundamental requirement of a free market. And the ideological enemies of capitalism lost in this case, because of the two new Trump appointments to the Court. The Takings Clause The Fifth Amendment is packed with protections of individual rights, including protection against self-incrimination—as are the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights. To understand what the Court did last week, you must know that government violations of all those individual rights can be challenged in federal court.  But, since 1985, that has not been true for a violation of the takings clause: the guarantee that government cannot take an individual’s property without just compensation. And, since 1985,...
MM: You will be the keynote speaker at The Atlas Society’s third annual gala October 10 in New York City.  Let’s tell people who you are and something about your background. Where did you grow up? GA: I was born in Guatemala. My dad is Cuban, and my mom is half Guatemalan and half Hungarian.  We lived in Guatemala City until I was nine years old. Then we moved to Honduras because of my dad’s work. He worked for Johnson and Johnson in Central America.  We moved to El Salvador again after that, so I was always used to being the new girl in school. I went back to Guatemala when I was 17 to graduate from high school.  I did my college years in Guatemala at Francisco Marroquin University, which promotes the ideas of classical liberalism and Objectivism and Austrian economics. After graduation I moved to Washington, DC. I did an internship at the Cato Institute, took some courses at Georgetown University, and then I moved to Belgium to get a master’s degree at Leuven University,  where I had a different experience with my education. Previously I had been exposed to liberalism and libertarianism and Objectivism, and I I studied some socialism and Marx but always in a negative way. In Europe socialist economics and Karl Marx, and also  philosophers like Foucault, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, were the mainstream.  After that I moved to Rome, Italy where I took a course in applied anthropology. I worked with Senegalese immigrants who had moved to Europe...
The following is a version of my part of a joint presentation with Stephen Hicks given at the first ever Malibu Summit student retreat hosted by The Atlas Society on June 29, 2019 at Scorpiesse in Malibu, California. June 29th, 2019 at Scorpiesse – Stephen Hicks talks with Atlas Advocates at The Malibu Summit.  An Impasse Between Creating and Destroying  The contrast between postmodernism and what I call “evolutionary art” is both epistemological, in the sense of how the artis made and the knowledge behind it, and metaphysical, what kind of subjects are important. Postmodern art is about seeking new means and content to challenge the very concept of art. Evolutionary art builds on the contributions of great artists and great art movements with new insights into human psychology and aesthetic means. Philosopher and The Atlas Society Senior Scholar Stephen Hicks, Ph.D, summarises the difference this way:  it is the difference between a master making a stained glass window and the moron that throws a rock and smashes it!  Louise Bourgeois vs. Martine Vaugel  Louise Bourgeois at MOMA. “Untitled” (1998), fabric and stainless steel at center  The postmodern works I am including are considered important by important art institutions. A defining moment and lifelong obsession of...
As with most people, my working schedule has been blurred. With colleagues in different time zones, 24/7 emails and texts, I can’t remember the last time I had an evening or weekend to myself—the traditional periods of respite.But there are two holidays when I refuse to work: Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. Thanksgiving is the easy one to explain. It’s a harvest festival, deeply connected with the Objectivist virtue of productiveness when we enjoy what we have reaped and sowed. As a secular person, the thanks I give are to America, for the freedom that allows me to work for my vision.Which brings me to the Fourth. I am an intellectual and writer by profession. I am protected in my work by the First Amendment, for which I am deeply grateful. As a spokesman for an unconventional view, I’m especially aware of how often innovators of ideas, throughout history, have been persecuted, exiled, tortured, and executed. I think of Frederick Douglass. After escaping slavery, Douglass could have lived out his days in peace and quiet somewhere. Instead he chose to champion the cause of abolitionism and publicly fight to free those who were still enslaved, and later to champion liberty for all. I think of Ayn Rand, who escaped Soviet Russia and who, as an immigrant to the United States, took advantage of her new freedom to become a bestselling novelist, a philosopher, and...

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