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Ayn Rand Institute on The End of the Federal Protection of Abortion Rights

The philosophers at the Ayn Rand Institute – Onkar Ghate, Ben Bayer, and Yaron Brook – have a thought-provoking discussion on abortion rights with the over-turning of Roe v. Wade, which now allows for state-level bans on abortion.

(Though this is not the end of abortion in America, it is an ominous stepping stone to it, as those seeking abortions in states where abortion is/will be banned will have to travel out of state to obtain a legal abortion).

 

Issues covered include:

  • How the majority opinion empties the right to liberty of its content;
  • Justice Clarence Thomas’s opposition to substantive due process;
  • Why the Ninth Amendment has not been used in Supreme Court rulings on abortion;
  • The incrementalism behind Chief Justice John Roberts’s concurrence;
  • Why Roe v. Wade was a good decision despite its imperfect reasoning;
  • The dissent’s defense of individual liberty against majority will;
  • The dissent’s forceful protest against the unprincipled, anti-individualist majority opinion;
  • Why the dissent is right that the majority is inconsistent with its own reasoning in claiming that abortion is different from other rights;
  • Questions about whether the court typically tailors its reasoning to fit a predecided outcome;
  • The problem with the viability standard and the idea of balancing rights with a “state interest” in the fetus;
  • How the dissent undermines its own case by citing Lochner v. New York as a case that was rightly overturned;
  • How the morality of self-sacrifice contributed to the Dobbs ruling and the dissent’s failure to cite the right to the pursuit of happiness;
  • Why the widespread acceptance of collectivist premises have contributed to the abridgment of abortion rights;
  • Why the concept of “states’ rights” is an expression of collectivism;
  • How the fight over abortion rights will continue at the state and federal level.

 

Ben Bayer, Agustina Vergara Cid, and Don Watkins at the Ayn Rand Institute analyze the implications of Roe vs. Wade being overturned.

Thoughts on the Banned Book: When Harry Met Sally

  • Books

The American Conservative has an important article on the banned book, “Why ‘When Harry Became Sally’ Matters” and the politicization of the treatment for those who suffer from gender dysphoria:

…In short, a dearth of definitive data exists to support using surgery and hormones for all gender dysphoric patients. If this alone were the case, it would be enough to approach such aggressive interventions with hesitancy. But there are other elements to the clinical situation which should give one even more pause.

If gender depends on the subjective feeling of the patient, it is not static but fluid. Thus, even after hormones and surgery, patients change their minds only to confront the irreversibility of some of the treatments. In the most powerful chapter of his book, Ryan Anderson gives voice to those who “detransitioned” back to their biological gender. Anderson quotes Cari Stella, a detransitioned 22-year-old woman: “When I was transitioning, no one in the medical or psychological field ever tried to dissuade me, to offer other options, to do really anything to stop me besides tell me I should wait till I was 18.” In an extensive and thorough essay for The Atlantic, Jesse Singal documented some of the same thoughtless pressure from medical professionals: “Many of these so-called detransitioners argue that their dysphoria was caused…by mental health problems, trauma…They say they were nudged toward physical interventions of hormones or surgery by peer pressure or by clinicians who overlooked other potential explanations for their distress.”

This societal pressure primarily harms patients; but it also harms and all too often attempts to silence the frank and productive debate necessary to evaluate any medical intervention. As Anderson documents, in October 2017, “the governor of California signed a new law that could send health-care workers to jail for failing to use a person’s chosen pronouns.” In February, 2018, the New York Timespublished a column by Jennifer Finney Boylan, claiming Ryan Anderson’s book “suggests that transgender people are crazy, and that what we deserve at every turn is scorn, contempt and belittlement.” No passage in the book even remotely implies this. Only a few years ago, Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a world-renowned psychological expert on gender dysphoria and gender identity development, was fired from the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto, likely for taking a somewhat conservative approach to pre-pubescent children expressing gender dysphoria. His concern, that young patients might change their minds, led him to recommend a watchful and cautious approach rather than an aggressive medical approach to transition patients immediately. He was unceremoniously dismissed.

The coup de grâce came only last month when Amazon, a site responsible for 83% of books sold in the US, removed Ryan Anderson’s book from its site without any explanation and without any forewarning, a clear and disturbing instance of censoriousness. And yet, on Amazon, one can still purchase Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Josef Stalin’s Selected Works, and In Defense of Looting.

Read the rest of the review.

You can order the delisted book at Encounter Books.

Also available at B&N.

 

Tribalism: Coming to America

Echoing Ayn Rand’s analysis in her essay “Global Balkanization,” Ayan Hirsi Ali writes in “Tribalism has come to the West” how tribalism destroyed Somalia leading to civil war, and how such a fate may come to America:

While such violence is yet to seize America, all the tribalist ingredients are present. There is a blind commitment to one party or the other; emotions are running high; there is a lack of trust in civic institutions.

[…]

These tribal quirks run deep on both sides of the aisle. Many Republicans continue to dispute the legitimacy of the result of the last presidential election; while on the Left, the woke are eroding the Democratic Party from the inside, as identity politics displace universalist aspirations. Some citizens are viewed as part of oppressive groups, some as part of oppressed groups. A person’s individual actions can generally do little to change the immutable characteristics of the tribe to which they belong.

She continues how America was founded on replacing tribalism (a form of collectivism) with individualism:

The beautiful story of America, the reason so many people around the world still yearn to come here, is to a large extent founded on our rejection of tribalism and our establishment of civic, neutral institutions, based on the fundamental principle of equality before the law.

Read the rest.

 

The Right to Abortion and the Ninth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

Writes Ira Stoll in Abortion Right Not in Constitution, Doesn’t Mean It Doesn’t Exist:

“The Supreme Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade,410 U.S. 113 (1973) discovered a right to abortion in the Constitution within the “right to privacy.” That privacy right itself had been discovered in a case about birth control, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965). Griswold’s declaration that the “specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations,” has been widely mocked.

To my mind, the gem within Griswold is Justice Arthur Goldberg’s concurrence. Goldberg, joined by Justice Brennan and Chief Justice Warren, focused not on penumbras or emanations but on the plain text of the Ninth Amendment.”

Stoll goes on to quote Justice Arthur Goldberg:

“The [Ninth] Amendment is almost entirely the work of James Madison. It was introduced in Congress by him, and passed the House and Senate with little or no debate and virtually no change in language. It was proffered to quiet expressed fears that a bill of specifically enumerated rights could not be sufficiently broad to cover all essential rights, and that the specific mention of certain rights would be interpreted as a denial that others were protected….the Ninth Amendment shows a belief of the Constitution’s authors that fundamental rights exist that are not expressly enumerated in the first eight amendments, and an intent that the list of rights included there not be deemed exhaustive. …the fact that no particular provision of the Constitution explicitly forbids the State from disrupting the traditional relation of the family — a relation as old and as fundamental as our entire civilization — surely does not show that the Government was meant to have the power to do so. Rather, as the Ninth Amendment expressly recognizes, there are fundamental personal rights such as this one [abortion], which are protected from abridgment by the Government, though not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.”

Stoll concludes correctly:

The mere fact that an abortion right isn’t mentioned in the Constitution doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The rights don’t come from the Constitution. The Constitution exists to protect the rights, including those it doesn’t explicitly mention.

Then why explicitly mention and enumerate rights?

“A problem with rights not written into law is that people may have widely varying views of them. Without legislative language, for example, one person’s idea of a right to an abortion may collide with another person’s view of a fetus or embryo having a ‘right to life.’

Read the whole article.

Jordan McGillis: Climate McCarthyism

Jordan McGillis, deputy director for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, on Climate McCarthyism:

In 2020, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Brian Schatz, Tom Carper, and Sheldon Whitehouse penned an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling on the company to toe the Democratic Party line. “If Facebook is truly ‘committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook and Instagram,’” the senators wrote, “the company must immediately acknowledge in its fact-checking process that the climate crisis is not a matter of opinion and act to close loopholes that allow climate disinformation to spread on its platform.”

Less than a year later, Zuckerberg’s company seemingly tightened its review process to adhere to the Democrats’ wishes. In May 2021, Facebook applied the dodgy new standard against Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark Mills’s review of a book by Steven Koonin, former undersecretary in the Department of Energy under President Barack Obama. As Koonin described the incident in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Facebook labeled postings of the Mills review as having “very low scientific credibility” and linked to a critique on the website ClimateFeedback.org, thus discouraging users from engaging with Mills and Koonin’s work—exactly as the Senate Democrats demanded. In these cases, it is easy to blame the companies that acquiesce—perhaps one large rival to Meta in the midst of an ownership change will buck this trend—but the politicians and bureaucrats doing the jawboning deserve ire, too.

Read the full article.

Bill Maher: “Democracy Dies in Dumbness” @ The Washington Post

In a play on the Washington Post’s banner “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, liberal comedian Bill Maher examines the latest fiasco inside the newsroom at one of America’s leading newspapers, noting “Nothing captures what’s wrong with today’s ‘journalism’ like the sad saga of what happened last week at The Washington Post.”

Brian Simpson: Is US Constitution in Danger?

James Valliant interviews economist Brian Simpson on the threats to America’s constitution: from calls to end the filibuster, pack the court, release decisions, and how the constitution protects your economic liberties.

The Banality of Putin and Xi

Yaron Brook and Elan Journo have written an insightful analysis on why tyrants like China’s Xi and Russia’s Putin appear “charismatic” & “successful”: the intellectual’s hatred of freedom and western appeasement.
They make four important points:

Freedom fuels human progress and prosperity.

For individuals to live, think, produce, and thrive, the role of a proper government is to protect their freedom. It is freedom that fuels human progress and prosperity. No one who values human flourishing can look at Putin, Xi or any other dictator as anything but a lethal aberration….They dominate, brutalize and exploit those who think, teach, invent, produce, run businesses, create value at whatever scale. By violating the rights of their citizens, Putin, Xi and other dictatorial leaders defy the objective conditions necessary for individuals to live and prosper. They are destroyers. “To deal with men by force,” observed philosopher Ayn Rand, “is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.”

Putin & Xi’s regimes are geared toward parasitism and exploitation.

Putin-aligned oligarchs have ransacked the country. China’s caste of party-aligned operatives have raked in billions, amid the country’s impressive economic rise. That rise, now seemingly slowing, occurred despite not because of China’s dictatorial leadership. It was a consequence of the slight degree of economic freedom the Party condescended to permit — and which it is now undoing….Such dictators and their hangers-on are thugs, gangsters and murderers who operate under the state’s (ostensible) moral authority. Human parasitism is an expression of not of efficacy, but of impotence.

Western intellectuals & policymakers have a prejudice against freedom, especially markets.

You can see it in the bias against markets, deemed messily inefficient, and in favor of central planning….many in the West are afflicted by what you might call Central-Planner Envy, and this leads them into warped thinking. It picks out supposed accomplishments  — “Behold the highspeed trains in Xi’s China!” — while evading the full reality of the uncountable individuals whose rights are trashed in the course of maintaining the regimes system’s pervasive repression.

Western appeasement, investment, and whitewashing embolden Russia and China.

…Russia and China are afforded the undeserved moral status of civilized countries. By agreeing to sit down with them at summits and multilateral meetings, our heads of state perpetuate the fiction that Putin and Xi as efficacious and benevolent leaders that belong in the company of rights-respecting nations.

The United Nations is a major culprit in whitewashing these regimes. Both have permanent seats on the UN’s powerful Security Council(!), despite violating the organization’s stated principles — flagrantly, repeatedly, and on a vast scale. What about the massacring of pro-democracy student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989? Dousing the last embers of intellectual freedom? Interning thousands of Uighurs in concentration camps? Wiping out the last vestiges of freedom in Hong Kong? Ongoing piracy of foreign-owned intellectual property? The dishonest handling of the COVID pandemic? No, China has learned that it is effectively untouchable.

This official whitewashing encourages, and is reinforced by, the willingness of American and European companies to invest in China and Russia as if they were basically free, civilized, moral regimes….Putin’s regime, for example, has benefited handsomely from the inflow of foreign capital and joint-ventures with BP, Shell and Exxon. But, since the war in Ukraine, all three of these companies are frantically departing the Russian market, suffering losses in the tens of billions of dollars.

When you reflect on how the U.S. and European nations dealt with Putin’s past aggression, his initiation of war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, is exposed as foreseeable, rather than strategically shrewd let alone “genius.” Passive appeasement by the U.S. and Europe emboldened Putin…

Required reading.

 

Teaching the Evils of Communism in Florida State-Run Schools

Photo Credit : Gage Skidmore

From “DeSantis requires Florida students to learn about ‘victims of communism’”:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Monday requiring Sunshine State students to learn about the “Victims of Communism” in high school.

Beginning in the 2023-2024 academic year, high school students enrolled in US government courses will get at least 45 minutes of instruction each November 7 describing how “victims suffered under these regimes through poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech.”

As an advocate of capitalism, I applaud Governor Ron DeSantis’s call to teach students the evils of communism.

As an advocate of capitalism, I hope those Democrats displeased with teaching their children the evils of communism advocate for the separation of education and state.

State schools are communism.

“Free education for all children in government schools.” — Karl Marx, Plank #10 Communist Manifesto

– MDC

A Good Old Canadian Book Burning

  • World

From “Ontario school board ‘regrets’ burning books in the name of reconciliation​ as part of educational program“:

An Ontario school board has said that they now “regret” a 2019 educational program that saw books burned and used as fertilizer in the spirit of “reconciliation” — a program that was, in part, led by the co-chair of the Indigenous peoples’ commission of the Liberal Party of Canada, …

[…]

Titles such as Tintin in America, which was withdrawn for its negative portrayal of Indigenous peoples, alongside biographies of various geographers and explorers were discarded, burned, and used as fertilizer to aid in growing a tree on school property.

The program has been ongoing since 2019, but only recently drew criticism.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said personally, that he would not burn books, but he has no right “to tell Indigenous people how they should feel or act to advance reconciliation.” The Canadian fascist has no problem locking up his fellow Canadians who refuse to get vaccinated.

It’s quite apropos that the cover of the book shows “Indigenous peoples'” seeking to burn Tintin while tied to a stake; in Trudeau’s Canada, they simply resort to burning his creator’s books. – MDC

 

The Problem with the Umbrella approach to Libertarianism

Professor Phil Magness has a tweet thread on why Libertarians eventually turn away from freedom, to alt-right or marxism:

He remarks that this “originates from attempts to synthesize exogenous illiberal ideas into libertarian thought.” He identifies this as libertarian thinkers “dabbling in illiberal thought.” One example he uses is the case of Austrian, anarchist, “critical thinker” Hans Herman Hoppe:

Hoppe’s “argumentation ethics,” in turn, is explicitly lifted from the Discourse Ethics tradition in critical theory. Hoppe even directly sources the origin of his “argumentation ethics” claim to his old grad school advisors Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel.”

Again, having trained directly under Habermas, Hoppe was deeply versed in critical theory, approved of it, and used it in his work. He simply gave its traditionally far-left political disposition a far-right makeover.”

“Hoppe also imports an eclectic mix of reactionary racial theorists that originated wholly externally to the Austrian-liberal economic tradition. You see this in his book Democracy the God That Failed, where he describes Mises’s open immigration views as a relic of a bygone age.”

After rejecting Mises on immigration, Hoppe replaces them with appeals to far-right racial theorists such as J. Phillipe Rushton and the novelist Jean Raspail (of “Camp of the Saints” infamy). These figures populate the footnotes of his book whenever he talks about immigration.

Like Yarvin’s use of Carlyle, Hoppe’s main influences are EXTERNAL to classical liberalism/libertarianism, and indeed quite a few of them are traditional ADVERSARIES of libertarian economic philosophy – Marx, Habermas & the critical theory world.

Why do figures such as Yarvin, Hoppe, and their various followers veer down this illiberal path? In each case, it stems from them finding something dissatisfying with the traditional classical liberal status quo. So they search for external authors in other traditions.”

The problem with the “umbrella approach of libertarianism” is that the objective value and meaning of liberty—freedom from the initiation of physical force—is not a self-evident axiom, but a sophisticated conclusion from a long chain of observations and premises—a specific philosophy.

To the extent that the underlying philosophy is pro-reality (this-worldly, natural), pro-reason (logic and evidence of senses), or pro-egoism (individualism), it will have a proper conception of liberty; as it strays its conception of liberty will be corrupted. This is what happened to the “classical liberal” tradition.

It’s no coincidence that the rise of freedom, and the birth of America, historically occurred along with the Renaissance thru Enlightenment, with the cherishing of reason (vs faith), science (vs superstition), and individual rights (vs collectivism) to various degrees.

This view is best expressed by philosopher Ayn Rand:

“I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.”

If one wishes to be an advocate of liberty, one must first be an advocate of reason, then and only then, does “all the rest follow.”

Why Communism Fails in Practice

Economically, communism fails in practice because a society with no government (agency to protect rights), no money (no indirect trade, only barter), and no wage labor (no specialization under a division of labor) is a terrible idea.

Then why do people continue to support it?

“When, at the age of twelve, at the time of the Russian revolution, I first heard the Communist principle that Man must exist for the sake of the State, I perceived that this was the essential issue, that this principle was evil, and that it could lead to nothing but evil, regardless of any methods, details, decrees, policies, promises and pious platitudes. This was the reason for my opposition to Communism then—and it is my reason now. I am still a little astonished, at times, that too many adult Americans do not understand the nature of the fight against Communism as clearly as I understood it at the age of twelve: they continue to believe that only Communist methods are evil, while Communist ideals are noble. All the victories of Communism since the year 1917 are due to that particular belief among the men who are still free.” – Ayn Rand, quoted in the forward to her novel, We The Living.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQMDJPaGhzI

Understanding Marxism with C. Bradley Thomspon (Video)

Everywhere Marxism has been tried, its left destruction and death in its wake. Yet Marxism lives. From environmentalism with its rejection of free markets to Critical Race Theory which sees white patriarchy as the source of all evil, you’ll find Marxism at its root.

In this three-part series, C. Bradley Thomspon, Professor of Political Science at Clemson University, explores why Marxism has endured — even flourished — in the face of unremitting failure. Author of “The Redneck Intellectual” on Substack, and America’s Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration that Defined It.

Chinese Troops Fire on Protesters in Tiananmen Square (Video)

  • World

“First broadcast 4 June 1989. Chinese troops opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Saturday evening. The collection of students and labourers had been occupying the site for several weeks. Despite the outbreak of “unremitting gunfire”, the protesters refused to leave. The BBC’s Kate Adie reports from the scene.”

Nikos Sotirakopoulos: Tribalism Distorts Thinking

Nikos Sotirakopoulos author of Identity Politics and Tribalism: The New Culture Wars examines how “From politics to the ‘culture wars,’ tribalism has added to the toxicity of the public sphere. But there is one other field where tribalism, i.e., the viewing of the world through the prism of a group, can be even more insidious: in one’s own thinking. Nikos will talk about how tribalism can poison our mind, and discuss what the remedy is.

Given at ARC Europe 2022.