Debate 1984 | Socialism or Capitalism: Which Is the Moral System?

From the Ayn Rand Institute:

In the legendary 1984 debate against socialists Jill Vickers and Gerald Caplan, the team of Leonard Peikoff and John Ridpath defended capitalism against their opponents’ criticisms and roundly refuted the socialists. ARI is delighted to showcase this illuminating debate on YouTube and to bring it to the attention of a new generation of viewers. The remastered video will be premiered this Friday and hosted on ARI’s YouTube channel by permission of the copyright holder, Sandra Shaw.

Andrew Gutmann’s Courageous Letter on How “Woke” “Anti-Racism” is Destroying the Minds of Children

From the NY Post:

A father fed up with an elite Manhattan prep school’s heavy-handed focus on race won’t re-enroll his daughter in the fall, accusing the school of trying to “brainwash” kids with woke philosophies rather than teaching them how to think on their own. In a scathing 1,700-word letter Andrew Gutmann mailed to 650 families — a screed since gone viral —  he blasted the posh, all-girls Brearley School’s “cowardly and appalling lack of leadership [for] appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob.” The April 13 missive  —  published this week on journalist  Bari Weiss’  blog —  became public the same day the headmaster of the famed Dalton School resigned over controversial “anti-racism”  curriculum and policies that had outraged many parents.

Here is the text of the letter by Mr. Guttman explaining why he pulled his daughter out of the all-girls private school in Manhattan that charges $54,000 per year:

April 13, 2021

Dear Fellow Brearley Parents,

Our family recently made the decision not to reenroll our daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. She has been at Brearley for seven years, beginning in kindergarten. In short, we no longer believe that Brearley’s administration and Board of Trustees have any of our children’s best interests at heart. Moreover, we no longer have confidence that our daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic minded adult. I write to you, as a fellow parent, to share our reasons for leaving the Brearley community but also to urge you to act before the damage to the school, to its community, and to your own child’s education is irreparable.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley’s antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed.

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died.

I object to the charge of systemic racism in this country, and at our school. Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades. Ask any girl, of any race, if they have ever experienced insults from friends, have ever felt slighted by teachers or have ever suffered the occasional injustice from a school at which they have spent up to 13 years of their life, and you are bound to hear grievances, some petty, some not. We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years. To state otherwise is a flat-out misrepresentation of our country’s history and adds no understanding to any of today’s societal issues. If anything, longstanding and widespread policies such as affirmative action, point in precisely the opposite direction.

I object to a definition of systemic racism, apparently supported by Brearley, that any educational, professional, or societal outcome where Blacks are underrepresented is prima facie evidence of the aforementioned systemic racism, or of white supremacy and oppression. Facile and unsupported beliefs such as these are the polar opposite to the intellectual and scientific truth for which Brearley claims to stand. Furthermore, I call bullshit on Brearley’s oft-stated assertion that the school welcomes and encourages the truly difficult and uncomfortable conversations regarding race and the roots of racial discrepancies.

I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites. Brearley, by adopting critical race theory, is advocating the abhorrent viewpoint that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims, and are incapable of success regardless of their skills, talents, or hard work. What Brearley is teaching our children is precisely the true and correct definition of racism.

I object to mandatory anti-racism training for parents, especially when presented by the rent-seeking charlatans of Pollyanna. These sessions, in both their content and delivery, are so sophomoric and simplistic, so unsophisticated and inane, that I would be embarrassed if they were taught to Brearley kindergarteners. They are an insult to parents and unbecoming of any educational institution, let alone one of Brearley’s caliber.

I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as “equity,” “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Instead, the school would foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought. And if Brearley really cared about “inclusiveness,” the school would return to the concepts encapsulated in the motto “One Brearley,” instead of teaching the extraordinarily divisive idea that there are only, and always, two groups in this country: victims and oppressors.

l object to Brearley’s advocacy for groups and movements such as Black Lives Matter, a Marxist, anti family, heterophobic, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic organization that neither speaks for the majority of the Black community in this country, nor in any way, shape or form, represents their best interests.

I object to, as we have been told time and time again over the past year, that the school’s first priority is the safety of our children. For goodness sake, Brearley is a school, not a hospital! The number one priority of a school has always been, and always will be, education. Brearley’s misguided priorities exemplify both the safety culture and “cover-your-ass” culture that together have proved so toxic to our society and have so damaged the mental health and resiliency of two generations of children, and counting.

I object to the gutting of the history, civics, and classical literature curriculums. I object to the censorship of books that have been taught for generations because they contain dated language potentially offensive to the thin-skinned and hypersensitive (something that has already happened in my daughter’s 4th grade class). I object to the lowering of standards for the admission of students and for the hiring of teachers. I object to the erosion of rigor in classwork and the escalation of grade inflation. Any parent with eyes open can foresee these inevitabilities should antiracism initiatives be allowed to persist.

We have today in our country, from both political parties, and at all levels of government, the most unwise and unvirtuous leaders in our nation’s history. Schools like Brearley are supposed to be the training grounds for those leaders. Our nation will not survive a generation of leadership even more poorly educated than we have now, nor will we survive a generation of students taught to hate its own country and despise its history.

Lastly, I object, with as strong a sentiment as possible, that Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think. I object that the school is now fostering an environment where our daughters, and our daughters’ teachers, are afraid to speak their minds in class for fear of “consequences.” I object that Brearley is trying to usurp the role of parents in teaching morality, and bullying parents to adopt that false morality at home. I object that Brearley is fostering a divisive community where families of different races, which until recently were part of the same community, are now segregated into two. These are the reasons why we can no longer send our daughter to Brearley.

Over the past several months, I have personally spoken to many Brearley parents as well as parents of children at peer institutions. It is abundantly clear that the majority of parents believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous. Many believe, as I do, that these policies will ultimately destroy what was until recently, a wonderful educational institution. But as I am sure will come as no surprise to you, given the insidious cancel culture that has of late permeated our society, most parents are too fearful to speak up.

But speak up you must. There is strength in numbers and I assure you, the numbers are there. Contact the administration and the Board of Trustees and demand an end to the destructive and anti-intellectual claptrap known as antiracism. And if changes are not forthcoming then demand new leadership. For the sake of our community, our city, our country and most of all, our children, silence is no longer an option.

Respectfully,

Andrew Gutmann

In the NY Post letters section Leonard Peikoff made these comments:

As a PhD who has taught at four New York City colleges, I want to express my profound admiration for Gutmann’s letter, which tells the world with passion, logic and ringing clarity what is wrong with the school — and, in my opinion, with the whole country today. Thank you, Mr. Gutmann, for your courageous achievement.

Leonard Peikoff
Laguna Woods, Calif.

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Bayer and Ghate: Why Sam Harris Is Wrong about the Existence of Free Will

Philosophers Ben Bayer Ph.D. and Onkar Ghate Ph.D. discuss Sam Harris’s argument against the existence of free will.

The dynamic duo discusses: “Harris’s Humean argument equating causality with causation by prior events; Why free will doesn’t mean self-creation out of nothing; Harris’s argument for why we have no introspective experience of free will; How Harris’s thought experiment involves superficial attention to our experience of freedom; Why Harris can’t explain why his argument isn’t self-refuting; Rand’s view of why man is a being of self-made soul; Whether individuals with certain psychiatric conditions have volition; The issue of soft determinism (compatibilism).”

A fantastic discussion on an important topic.

Analysis of Supreme Court’s Ruling on Google’s Copying of Oracle’s Computer Code

“A battle of Big Tech giants came to an end this week when the Supreme Court decided Google v. Oracle, the biggest copyright case in decades. The decision in favor of Google, which copied over 11,000 lines of Oracle’s computer code when building its Android operating system, will set the standard for copyright protection of code in the Digital Age. Our panel of intellectual property (IP) experts discuss and critique the Court’s decision and Justice Thomas’s dissent, as well as the decision’s likely impact on IP law, innovation, and the software industry.”

A panel consisting of Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University; Zvi Rosen, Assistant Professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, and Steven Tepp, President & CEO of Sentinel Worldwide, moderated by Curt Levey (moderator) of the President of the Committee for Justice analyzes the meaning of this ruling.

What is the Purpose of a Business? Objectivist Yaron Brook Debates “Conscious Capitalist” John MacKey

From the description:

At each of Whole Foods Market’s more than 500 American stores, managers ask every team member—from the meat clerks to the baristas to the janitorial staff—to orient their work around a shared purpose, which is to make natural and healthy food widely available. This goal, according to Whole Foods CEO and co-founder John Mackey, is in no way inconsistent with maximizing shareholder value, often seen as the essential purpose of a corporation.  As Mackey writes in his new book about leadership, “At the heart of Conscious Capitalism is a radical refutation of the negative perceptions of business, and a rejection of the split between purpose and profit.” Mackey believes that this is the key to defending capitalism against those who condemn it for having no inspiring ideals.  At a Reason-sponsored Soho Forum debate held on February 18, 2020, Ayn Rand Institute Chairman of the Board Yaron Brook challenged this view. He believes that maximizing profit should always be the primary goal of companies, and it’s that focus which explains why capitalism has lifted the broad masses out of poverty. That’s the message businesses should be emphasizing, he said, and it’s inspiring enough.

Darwin and the Discovery of Evolution

In this talk, Dr. Keith Lockitch of the Ayn Rand Institute explores Darwin’s life and work, focusing on the steps by which he came to discover and prove the theory of evolution by natural selection:

The theory of evolution is often disparaged by its opponents as being “just a theory” — i.e., a speculative hypothesis with little basis in hard, scientific fact. But this claim carries with it the implied accusation that Charles Darwin was “just a theorist” — i.e., he was merely an armchair scientist and that his life’s work was nothing more than an exercise in arbitrary speculation. A look at Darwin’s pioneering discoveries, however, reveals the grave injustice of this accusation. Darwin was not “just a theorist” and evolution is not “just a theory.”

Charles Darwin on the Grandeur of Evolution

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” —Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species

Interesting enough the word “evolution” does not appear in Darwin’s work, though the last word is evolved:

“From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” —Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species

Apparently Darwin preferred the phrase “descent with modification” to describe his theory. From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

“Charles Darwin used the word in print once only, in the closing paragraph of The Origin of Species (1859), and preferred descent with modification, in part because evolution already had been used in the discarded 18 [century] homunculus theory of embryological development (first proposed under this name by Bonnet, 1762) and in part because it carried a sense of ‘progress’ not present in Darwin’s idea.”

 

BGI Documents $5.7 Billion To Green Political Pressure Groups

WASHINGTON, DC (April 8, 2021) – The Institute for Energy Research (IER) released another update to its Big Green, Inc. (BGI) database adding documentation of $476 million in grants moving between innocuous-sounding foundations and powerful special interests in Washington DC. In total, BGI has documented $5.7 billion fueling today’s green lobbying and grassroots pressure groups. That figure only includes the giving history of seventeen major foundations and there are hundreds of foundations and organizations actively connected to the green movement.

This latest BGI update pulls from 2018 tax filings, only recently made available, revealing a disturbing trend among several foundations that the database tracks. Among the latest round of grants, $14.25 million flowed from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to the Energy Foundation and ultimately to an organization called Energy Foundation China, just as tensions between the U.S. and China are mounting.

  • The Energy Foundation received $21 million “for general operating support” from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well as grants totaling $14.25 million for “Energy Foundation China,” and $1,065,000 in “additional grants.” Together, these grants amount to nearly half of the foundation’s $81,940,531 net assets at the end of 2018.
  • The Energy Foundation appears to receive money from organizations like the Hewlett Foundation and passes it through to Energy Foundation China so that it doesn’t show on Hewlett’s tax documents directly.
  • Energy Foundation China lists several other BGI organizations like the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the John. D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation among its key funders.

These donations coincide with a major shift in policy direction by the Biden Administration away from America’s newfound energy independence (built on traditional energy sources) towards wind, solar, and electric vehicles, all of which are primarily manufactured in China and require Chinese-controlled rare earth minerals. Numerous media outlets have highlighted the rush by the green lobby to push Congress to again extend the wind and solar tax credits for a 13th time, this time for 10 years. The wind and solar industries claim they are now the cheapest form of electricity generation in the U.S. and the fastest-growing, yet they appear to be unable to survive without assistance from U.S. taxpayers. There’s little doubt these tax credits would greatly benefit Chinese-owned or controlled companies.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was also a big beneficiary of BGI grants in 2018, receiving 11 grants totaling just shy of $4.7 million, including $500,000 for their own China energy program. This is on top of a pledge by Jeff Bezos to provide the NRDC with $100 million. Bezos has committed $791 million to 16 environmental organizations as a part of his widely publicized $10 billion Earth Fund, despite the fact that Amazon’s carbon footprint grew by 15 percent in 2020. Some have charged Bezos with trying to buy off the environmental community with their grants while doing very little in terms of active lobbying for climate regulations that would negatively impact their business.

Gina McCarthy, the former CEO of the NRDC turned Biden National Climate Advisor, is in a powerful position that circumvented Senate confirmation process. In this role, McCarthy is largely shielded from transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act and has direct access to the President.

Upon the release of today’s BGI database update, IER President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement:

“This latest update to the Big Green Inc. database is further evidence that the green left has more interest in protecting the interests of its funders and the global renewables industry than they do the environment. Thanks primarily to America’s shale revolution, America has become energy-independent and at the same time has been leading the developed world in greenhouse gas emissions reductions. And yet, the greens would prefer that we give up that newfound independence and instead rely on China for our future energy needs.

If Congress were serious about transparency and the influence of special interest money in politics, Big Green Inc. is the first place they should be looking, especially the connections between left-leaning foundations, the Biden White House, and China.”

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2020 was the year America realized energy independence for the first time in 62 years, producing more than we consumed. Thanks to the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, production in the oil and natural gas industry increased a combined 11 percent in 2019. Total U.S. energy production increased by 5.7 percent in 2019 while U.S. energy demand decreased by 0.9 percent. The United States produced 101.0 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) of energy and consumed 100.2 quads last year. Natural resources accounted for 80 percent of both energy consumption and production in 2019.

About Big Green, Inc.

Big Green, Inc., a project of IER, catalogs the influence of the deep-pocketed left on energy policy in the United States. The online map enables users to navigate the various foundations that spend billions of dollars supporting aggressive climate litigation, the promotion of uneconomic renewable energy sources, and overburdening regulations. Their influence has helped foment the anti-market sentiment that dominates energy policy in the United States and has played a major role in limiting economic growth in recent years.

Three important takeaways from the information presented in Big Green, Inc.

  1. Environmental groups have crafted a narrative that depicts their efforts as a “David vs. Goliath” battle against those who would like to see U.S. energy policy move in a free-market direction. This narrative is false. Environmental groups outpace conservative and free-market groups both in terms of funding and organizational capacity.
  2. There is an overwhelming, well-coordinated and deeply funded sweeping influence of environmental activism, and information within this database provides insight into how groups target the gatekeeping institutions of our society. As the database illuminates, environmental funding has been directed toward policymakers, journalists, academic institutions, the offices of elected officials, government organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as international institutions such as the World Bank.
  3. This complicated system of financial transfers muddles efforts to reveal the sources of this funding, which has been linked to individuals who stand to benefit financially from the adoption of various environmental policies as well as foreign actors trying to influence energy policy within the U.S.

C. Bradley Thompson: “Common Good” Theory of Politics is a Fraud

Writing on his blog C. Bradley Thompson opines on the “common good,” channeling many of the same arguments used by philosopher Ayn Rand.

He reviews “six problems with common-good politics.”

First, all versions of the common-good school of thought assume, without proof, that there is one, absolute, universal, eternal, knowable “higher” or “common good” that should guide public policy despite the fact that there are innumerable and competing definitions of the “common good.”

[…]

Second, the very real practical problem with “common-good” politics becomes manifest when rival factions compete with one another for political power in order to impose their view of the “common good” on society as a whole.

[…]

Third, until recently, Left- and Right-wing proponents of the “common good” were reverse mirror images of each other. Liberals typically wanted social freedom and command-style economics, whereas conservatives typically wanted economic freedom and command-style morality.

[…]

Fourth, does anyone seriously believe that Harvard professors, the Vatican’s College of Cardinals, or Deep State bureaucrats actually know what is best for ordinary Americans better than ordinary Americans?

[…]

Fifth, virtually every tyrant throughout history has used the “common good” to justify acts of violence and oppression. Jacobinism, socialism, fascism, communism, and Nazism all claimed to serve the common good.

[…]

Sixth, common-good harpies of the Left and Right misunderstand what virtue and moral action are. They fail to understand that to be moral requires uncoerced, free choice. Coerced virtue is not virtue; it’s obedience.

Thompson adds:

In the end, the promises of the “common good” theory of politics is a fraud. This is because the idea of a “common” or “highest good” is an undefinable concept, particularly when governments attempt to define it, which is exactly what we’re talking about.

There is no such thing as a “common good” (at least as the concept is typically used by its Left- and Right-wing proponents), unless one is speaking of an ant colony or a bee hive. But man is neither ant nor bee. To the extent that the idea of a “common good” has any valid philosophic meaning, it can only be the sum of the interests or goods of all men and women in a particular society, and the primary “goods” common to all men are freedom, justice, safety, and the rule of law that protects them.

Read the whole article.

Hat Tip: @JWoiceshyn

 

 

Innovation and The History Vaccines

Matt Ridley, author of How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom writes on the history of vaccines and how this scientific breakthrough was brought to the attention of the Western World not by scientists and professors, but by a black slave and woman. Ridley also discusses the fierce opposition they faced:

At a time when the miraculous success of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 has transformed the battle against the pandemic, it is fitting to recall that the general idea behind vaccination was brought to the attention of the western world, not by brilliant and privileged professors, but by a black slave and a woman.

His name was Onesimus and he lived in Boston, as the property of Cotton Mather, a well-known puritan preacher. Her name was Lady Mary Wortley-Montagu, the literary wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople.

Some time around 1715 Onesimus seems to have told Mather that back in West Africa people were in the habit of deliberately infecting children with a drop of “juice of smallpox” from a survivor, thus making them immune. Mather then came across a report to the Royal Society in London from an Italian physician, Emmanuel Timoni, working in the Ottoman court in Constantinople, which described the same practice in combating smallpox. The Ottomans had got the idea from either China or Africa.

Six years later, in April 1721, when smallpox reached Boston in a ship called the Seahorse, and efforts to quarantine its crew proved in vain, Mather wrote to 14 doctors begging them to try inoculation. Thirteen ignored him but one, Zabdiel Boylston, did not. On 26 June 1721, almost 300 years ago, Boylston deliberately scratched the skin of his six year old son with a needle dipped in the pus from a smallpox survivor’s spots. He then did the same “variolation” to his slave and his slave’s two-year-old son. Imagine how brave, even foolhardy, this act was.

All three survived after mild bouts of the disease. Boylston then began inoculating other volunteers, and by November he had variolated 247 people. Six of these died. On 25 November he inoculated 15 members of Harvard University. The epidemic was by then raging in Boston, over 400 people having died in October alone.

News of Boylston’s experimental treatment caused fury among the Boston townspeople. Doctors denounced him. “Some have been carrying about instruments of inoculation, and bottles of poisonous humor, to infect all who were willing to submit to it. Can any man infect a family in the morning, and pray to God in the evening that the distemper will not spread?” thundered one. The Boston city council summoned Boylston to account for his crime and the mob descended on him. He hid in a closet for nearly two weeks to escape lynching. It is not easy being an innovator.

At almost the same time in Britain, a brave woman pioneer, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, was introducing variolation to London society, having learnt of the practice while in Constantinople as the wife of the ambassador. She too was the subject of fierce denunciation.

Read the rest at Warp, on The unexpected history and miraculous success of vaccines.

 

 

Amazon Stands Up To The Fascist Senator Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren threatens to confiscate additional profits of the most successful companies by eliminating “loopholes.”

Warren threatens to break up companies that dare to question her.

 

Amazon calls out Warren’s fascism. After all, if a billion-dollar company cannot speak against Warren what chance does a lone individual have?

 

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