History & Culture

June 2021 Book Recommendations by Ed Locke

God Versus Nature: The Conflict Between Religion and Science in History by Frederick Seiler
This brilliant book explores, in essentialized form, the conflict between science and religion. The conflict is based on the primacy of consciousness and mysticism vs the primacy of reason and reality. He traces this issue from the ancient world through the present.

Effective Discipline: The Montessori Way by Charlotte Cushman
This terrific book refutes the touchy-feely (subjectivist, emotionalist) approach to discipline often used today in Montessori Schools based on John Dewey and false views of self-esteem. Cushman defends Maria Montessori’s view which argues that bad behavior requires consequences. In the Montessori system, this requires, for example, “time-outs” (children made to sit, for a time, in the corner). The book is full of great advice to parents about rational methods of discipline.

Unsettled by Steven Koonin
I have read many books on climate. This book stands out in one important respect: the author’s only agenda seems to be respected for the truth which means for what we actually know. vs. what we don’t. Koonin is a genuine expert in science. (He does not get into philosophical issues).

Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom by Patrick Moore
His book has the same theme as Koonin’s. He gives many examples of fears which are not based on facts.

Onkar Ghate on Why The Enlightenment Matters

Onkar Ghate on “The Enlightenment and the Foundations of Liberty and Progress,” at the recent AynRandCon online conference.

Issues covered include:

  • What were the essential ideas that defined the Age of Enlightenment?
  • How did those ideas lead to the founding of America and the explosion of progress that was the Industrial Revolution?
  • And why—in spite of that progress—did the world reverse course politically, leading to the rise of totalitarian statism in the 20th century?
  • What is needed to shore up those deficiencies and put the Enlightenment’s ideals on a rational foundation.

Academic Cancel Culture, and the Left’s Attempts to Stifle Intellectual Dissent

Andrew Bernstein and Bosch Fawstin interview Dr. Jason Hill, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago. Topics include transgender insanity, Dr. Hill’s battle with academic cancel culture regarding this issue, and, more broadly, the Left’s ongoing attempts to stifle all intellectual dissent. For anyone concerned with freedom of speech and of intellectual expression, these are immensely important issues.

Mandalorian’s Gina Carano: Inside Disney/Lucasfilm’s Culture of “Bullying” of an Independent Thinking Woman

Gina Carano was fired from the Disney+ series, The Mandalorian, after she posted messages on social media that the company claimed were “denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities.” In reality, Lucasfilm according to the Daily Caller, had reportedly looking to fire Carano for some time, due to her refusal to intellectual kneel and bow in obeisance and pay homage to left-wing views. Says Carano:

“My actions towards other human beings have spoken for themselves … I am the one that, on sets, people come and cry to. I’m the one that sticks up for someone … like, ‘Hey, this is enough, this person needs out of this, like, they can’t breathe.’”

“And I’ve always been like that. I’ve stuck up for, like, minorities everywhere. I’ve gotten in fistfights. I’ve been in actual fights growing up in Las Vegas because I cannot stand bullying.”

“I was prepared at any point to be let go because I’ve seen this happen to so many people…I’ve seen the looks on their faces. I’ve seen the bullying that takes place, and so when this started, they point their guns at you, and you know it’s only a matter of time. I’ve seen it happen to so many people, and I just thought to myself … you’re coming for me, I know you are.’”

“They’re making it very obvious through their employees who were coming for me, and so I was like, ‘I’m going to go down swinging and I’m going to stay true to myself.’ ”

“My body still is shaking, you know? It’s still devastating.”

“But the thought of this happening to anybody else, especially, like, somebody who could not handle this the way I can? No.”

“They don’t get to do that. They don’t get to make people feel like that. And if I buckle, then little girls and little boys, who are not getting … a good fair shake at growing up right now, if I buckle, it’s going to make it okay for these companies who have a history of lying to be lying, and to do this to other people. And they’ve done it to other people and —”

“And I’m not going down without a fight.”

Though I do not agree with all her posts and views, from the interview, Gina Carano is clearly a genuinely good and thoughtful person. Disney’s portrayal of her in the press and “excommunication” of her from the Star Wars universe on the other hand is disgusting, dishonest, and immoral.

C. Bradley Thompson: German Nihilism, American-Style

Channeling Leonard Peikoff’s The Cause of Hitler’s Germany, Professor C. Bradley Thompson writes these powerful words in his essay “German Nihilism, American-Style”:

Nihilism is born of hatred and resentment. It seeks to destroy. Strauss notes, however, that German nihilism was not absolute nihilism, which must ultimately result not only in the destruction of the “other” but also in the destruction of one’s own self through either individual suicide or a Jonestown-like collective suicide. Pure nihilism represents the highest form of self-hatred and self-abnegation, but German nihilism, particularly in its Nazi form, did pursue something rather than Heidegger’s “das Nichts” (nothingness). The Nazis did seek a “positive” value: their nihilism was mixed with a particular form of hedonism, namely, sadism. According to Strauss, there is reason to believe “that the business of destroying, and killing, and torturing” was a “source of an almost disinterested pleasure to the Nazis as such,” that they derived a “genuine pleasure from the aspect of the strong and ruthless who subjugate, exploit, and torture the weak and helpless.” They loved to hate, destroy, and to make others feel pain and to suffer.

But German nihilism was not simply about destruction for the sake of destruction or death for the sake of death. Its ultimate political goal was, as Strauss noted, German world-domination through war for the sake of war. Martial conflict, the young nihilists argued, brought out the best in men. As Strauss put it,

“The admiration of the warrior type as a type, the unconditional preference given to the warrior as warrior, is however not only genuine in German nihilism: it is even its distinctive feature. Our question: in favor of what does German nihilism reject the principles of civilization as such must therefore be answered by the statement: that it rejects those principles in favor of the military virtues.”

Self-sacrifice and self-denial represented the highest form of moral good for the German nihilists and the primary virtue was courage. Strauss was correct to see that the preference for war over peace and war for the sake of war led “for all practical purposes” to “nothing other than destruction.” Kant’s perpetual peace would be replaced by Nietzsche’s perpetual war. But if war—and all that comes with it—is a good in itself, then there can be no justice, only the will to power and the desire to destroy. The young conservative revolutionaries saw in the future not the return to an old past but a new beginning, one for which the end justified the means.

At the deepest philosophical level, German nihilism as it was birthed in Nazism represented “a return to a pre-modern ideal, but this pre-modern idea was not to be found in Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle. Its true origin, according to Strauss, was to be found in “pre-socratic philosophy” as described by Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy. Here, Strauss pulls no punches: “The relation of Nietzsche to the German Nazi is comparable to the relation of Rousseau to the French Revolution.” And of course, Nietzsche is the link to twenty-first century, right-wing nihilism—American-style.

[…] One hundred years after Weimar, the United States of America seems to be entering its own Weimar state of mind, where the forces of the progressive or nihilist Left and those of the reactionary or nihilist Right are competing against each other to destroy the tottering remnants of a free society.

Read the rest of German Nihilism, American-Style.

C. Bradley Thompson on the Merging of the American Left … and Right

Writes Professor Thompson in The Pajama-Boy Nietzscheans: A Critique of the Dissident Right:

The publication of my new book, America’s Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American revolution and the Declaration that Defined It, comes at a crucial moment in American history. Academic study of the American revolution is dying on our college campuses, and the principles and institutions of the American Founding are now under assault from the nattering nabobs of both the progressive Left and the reactionary Right. These two ideological antipodes share little in common other than a mutually-assured desire to purge 21st-century American life of the founders’ philosophy of classical liberalism.

On this point, the radical Left and Right have merged.

The philosophy of Americanism is, as I have argued in my book and elsewhere, synonymous with the founders’ ideas, actions, and institutions. Its core tenets can be summed up as: the moral laws and rights of nature, ethical individualism, self-interest rightly understood, self-rule, constitutionalism, rule of law, limited government, and laissez-faire capitalism.

[…]

There was a time, of course, when most Americans (especially conservatives and libertarians) agreed with this assessment. Sadly, that is no longer true.

The anti-Americanism of the radical Left is well known and long established. Its most recent and most virulent incarnation comes in the form of the New York Times’s “1619 Project,” which claims that the founders’ principles and institutions were disingenuous in 1776 and immoral today.

Much more interesting than the ho-hum anti-Americanism of the progressive Left, though, is the rise in recent years of a rump faction of former Paleo or Tradcons, who have come out of their ideological closet and transitioned from pro- to anti-Americanism. The recent rise of the radical Right in America is distinguished from all previous forms of conservatism and libertarianism by its explicit rejection of the founders’ liberalism.

A new generation of neo-reactionary ideologues looks at contemporary America and sees nothing but moral, cultural, and political decay, which they blame on the soullessness of the founders’ Americanism. Remarkably, just like the radical Left, the radical Right condemns the philosophy of 18th-century liberalism as untrue and therefore immoral. It is the source, they claim, of all our present discontents.

Read the rest.

 

Coleman Hughes Reviews Ibram Kendi on “Anti-Racism” and Capitalism

From an excellent review of How to Be an Antiracist by Coleman Hughes:

“Capitalism is essentially racist,” Kendi proclaims, and “racism is essentially capitalist.” To test this claim, a careful thinker might compare racism in capitalist countries with racism in socialist/Communist ones; or he might compare racism in the private sector with racism in the public sector. Kendi does neither. Instead, he presents the link between capitalism and racism as self-evidently true: “Since the dawn of racial capitalism, when were markets level playing fields? . . . . When could Black people compete equally with White people?” Kendi asks, implying that the answer is “never.”

I can think of several historical examples in which capitalism inspired anti-racism. The most famous is the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case, when a profit-hungry railroad company––upset that legally mandated segregation meant adding costly train cars––teamed up with a civil rights group to challenge racial segregation. Nor was that case unique. Privately owned bus and trolley companies in the Jim Crow South “frequently resisted segregation” because “separate cars and sections” were “too expensive,” according to one scholarly paper on the subject.

A lesser known example is the South African housing market under Apartheid. Though landlords in whites-only areas were legally barred from renting to nonwhites, vacancies made discrimination against non-white tenants costly. As a result, white landlords often ignored the law. In his book South Africa’s War on Capitalism, economist Walter Williams notes that at least one “whites-only” district was in fact comprised of a majority of nonwhites.

History offers little evidence that capitalism is either inherently racist or antiracist. As a result, Kendi must resort to cherry-picking data to demonstrate a link. Citing a Pew article, he asserts that the “Black unemployment rate has been at least twice as high as the White unemployment rate for the last fifty years” because of the “conjoined twins” of racism and capitalism. But why limit the analysis to the past 50 years? A paper cited in the same Pew article reveals that the black-white unemployment gap was “small or nonexistent before 1940,” when America was arguably more capitalist—and certainly more racist. [“How to Be an Anti-Intellectual,” City Journal]

The entire review is a recommended read.

Laissez-faire Capitalism, defined as the social system based on the principle of individual rights, is in fact the social system that defangs racism by legally banning the initiation of physical force from all relationships.

See Andrew Bernstein’s America: A Racist Nation? and Leftist Supremacy, Not White Supremacy, is the Gravest Threat to Black Lives.

 

 

First Among the Founders: Andrew Bernstein on George Washington

“George Washington, “father of his country,” led the Continental Army to victory in the American Revolutionary War, presided over the Constitutional Convention, and served honorably as the nation’s first president, setting the gold standard for leaders worldwide.”

Andrew Bernstein on Karl Marx

“Animated by the anti-reason ideas of Immanuel Kant and G.W.F Hegel, Karl Marx preached a philosophy of class warfare and violent revolution. He promised a socialist utopia that would end poverty, inequality, and exploitation. Yet, between 1917 and 1989, Marxist regimes killed roughly 100 million people—and tortured, starved, exiled, and enslaved millions more. After being exposed as a thoroughly anti-life ideology, Marxism changed its skin. Today, eerily, the ghost of Marx still lurks.”