Philosophy & Living

Video: Why Britain Needs Americanism

“Jonathan Hoenig and I toured the UK a few weeks ago, lecturing in support of the new book on Ayn Rand’s political philosophy, “A New Textbook of Americanism.” Here is my lecture on individualism at Cambridge. Special thanks to Razi Ginzberg, head of the Ayn Rand Centre UK, for setting up this lecture tour; to Jonathan Hoenig for compiling this outstanding collection of essays; and, above all, to Ayn Rand for initiating a literary and philosophic renaissance. Enjoy” — Andrew Bernstein

 

What Do Donald Trump and Bill Clinton Have In Common?

Reading Glenn Woiceshyn’s 1998 article The Lewinsky Sex Allegations Against Clinton are Totally Believable draws some interesting parallels to President Trump:

Clinton became president not because he is a deft man of principle, but because he is a deft pragmatist, one who skillfully monitors (and manipulates) public opinion, and alters his “principles” accordingly.

Pragmatism, the philosophy dominating modern politics, involves eschewing principles in the name of “doing what will work.” The classic example of a pragmatist was Britain’s then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who abandoned principles to appease Hitler’s power lust by giving him Czechoslovakia, all in the name of peace. The result was war. Without principles, one cannot identify what will and won’t work.

Pragmatism eschews valid moral principles, such as honesty, integrity and justice, which leads to a policy of “doing whatever I can get away with.” If elections can be won by making promises one knows one can’t keep, or deliberately generating false hope about disastrous and wasteful schemes like Medicare and Social Security, or accepting financial contributions from Chinese dictators, or lying about adulterous affairs (such as with Gennifer Flowers), then do it. Clinton’s latest big lie was his claim in his recent State of the Union speech that “We have the smallest government in 35 years.”

How does one know if one will get away with lying or adultery? Ultimately, by feelings. Pragmatism sinks to: “Do I feel that I will get away with it this time?” If one is impulsively driven by strong adulterous urges and gets away with satisfying them once, that builds “confidence” to try again. “Success” at fooling others breeds recklessness, and a perverted feeling of triumph over others and over reality. According to Gennifer Flowers, Clinton once asked her to have sex in a bathroom at the Arkansas’ governor’s mansion while his wife and 50 guests were outside on the lawn. (CNN — Larry King Live, Jan. 23, 1998.) Imagine the “triumphant” feeling of getting away with that!

Read: The Lewinsky Sex Allegations Against Clinton are Totally Believable over at Capitalism Magazine.

Atlas Project: This Is John Galt Speaking

The Atlas Project is an online, chapter-by-chapter discussion of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, exploring the novel’s intricate plot and abstract themes through online discussion and live interactive video with philosophers Dr. Greg Salmieri and Dr. Ben Bayer.

This week’s discussion is on Part III, Chapter 7: “This Is John Galt Speaking” which contains “Galt’s Speech” where Rand first presented the fundamentals of her philosophy: Objectivism. For a list of study questions visit this link: https://campus.aynrand.org/

 

 

 

Simpson: “Big Gap” Between Objectivism and Conservatism

From Is Ayn Rand Affecting Trump’s America? An Interview with Steve Simpson | Merion West.

[Alex:] To what degree do you think Ayn Rand’s philosophy is influencing the modern Republican Party?

Steve: I would say very little honestly. It’s really hard to say that she’s influencing the Republican party. She’s definitely influenced the right, generally speaking, in a huge way, but that does not mean necessarily that conservatives are interpreting her ideas correctly.

I would put it this way: the right is just as afraid of Rand’s ideas as the left is; the right disagrees with her important ideas just as much as the left does. But what Atlas Shrugged has done is give people who are in favor of business, in favor of the free market, in favor of capitalism an ideal to aspire to. Atlas Shrugged is the only novel I’ve ever heard of that portrays businessmen as heroes. I think if you’re on the right and you think there is something good about capitalism, Rand gave the most ringing endorsement to that view that anybody could have given. So it makes really good sense that people on the right, who are sympathetic to capitalism, would like her novel, but that’s a very different thing from them saying they agree with her.

I think she’s influenced the right in general, but the caveat is that it does not mean those on the right necessarily agree with her. When you get to things like “Trump is the Ayn Rand presidency,” that’s nonsense. She’s influenced the right, but there’s still a big gap between Objectivism and what many conservatives believe.

Read the rest: Is Ayn Rand Affecting Trump’s America? An Interview with Steve Simpson | Merion West.

Shapiro: Media Ignores Violence of Alt-Left

Writes Ben Shapiro on The Group That Got Ignored in Charlottesville | Daily Wire:

In Charlottesville, Antifa engaged in street violence with the alt-right racists. As in Weimar, Germany, fascists flying the swastika engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Antifa members flying the communist red. And yet, the media declared that any negative coverage granted to Antifa would detract from the obvious evils of the alt-right. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times tweeted in the midst of the violence, “The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.” After receiving blowback from the left, Stolberg then corrected herself. She said: “Rethinking this. Should have said violent, not hate-filled. They were standing up to hate.”

Or perhaps Antifa is a hateful group itself. But that wouldn’t fit the convenient narrative Antifa promotes and the media buy: that the sole threat to the republic comes from the racist right. Perhaps that’s why the media ignored the events in Sacramento and Berkeley and Seattle — to point out the evils of Antifa might detract from the evils of the alt-right. That sort of biased coverage only engenders more militancy from the alt-right, which feels it must demonstrate openly and repeatedly to “stand up to Antifa.” Which, of course, prompts Antifa to violence.

Here’s the moral solution, as always: Condemn violence and evil wherever it occurs. The racist philosophy of the alt-right is evil. The violence of the alt-right is evil. The communist philosophy of Antifa is evil. So is the violence of Antifa. If we are to survive as a republic, we must call out Nazis but not punch them; we must stop providing cover to anarchists and communists who seek to hide behind self-proclaimed righteousness to participate in violence.

 

What is a friend?

From Do Your Friends Actually Like You? – The New York Times:

…Because time is limited, so, too, is the number of friends you can have, according to the work of the British evolutionary psychologist Robin I.M. Dunbar. He describes layers of friendship, where the topmost layer consists of only one or two people, say a spouse and best friend with whom you are most intimate and interact daily. The next layer can accommodate at most four people for whom you have great affinity, affection and concern and who require weekly attention to maintain. Out from there, the tiers contain more casual friends with whom you invest less time and tend to have a less profound and more tenuous connection. Without consistent contact, they easily fall into the realm of acquaintance. You may be friendly with them but they aren’t friends.

But friendship requires the vulnerability of caring as well as revealing things about yourself that don’t match the polished image in your Facebook profile or Instagram feed, said Mr. Nehamas at Princeton. Trusting that your bond will continue, and might even be strengthened, despite your shortcomings and inevitable misfortunes, he said, is a risk many aren’t willing to take.

[…]

So it’s worth identifying who among the many people you encounter in your life are truly friends. Who makes time for you? Whose company enlivens, enriches and maybe even humbles you? Whom would you miss? Who would miss you? While there is no easy or agreed upon definition, what friendships have in common is that they shape us and create other dimensions through which to see the world. This can be for better or worse depending on whom we choose as friends. As the saying goes, “Show me your friends and I will show you who you are.”