Quick Roundup 208

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Become a Standard-Bearer!

Via email:

Dear TOS Subscriber,

Since the inception of The Objective Standard, we have heard from many subscribers who are passionate about the ideas presented in the journal and who want to know what they can do to help promote it. Our primary answer has been "give people gift subscriptions," and numerous subscribers have done so. Some, recognizing the journal as a persuasive means of promoting their own values, have given liberally. For instance, one subscriber has given one hundred gift subscriptions to select non-Objectivist intellectuals; several subscribers have given multiple gift subscriptions to various universities or libraries; and others have purchased multiple subscriptions for themselves, to have extra copies for handing to friends, relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances. To encourage this kind of intellectual activism, we are now offering a new subscription called the Standard-Bearer.

The Standard-Bearer is a package of five print-edition gift subscriptions (which include online access). The subscriptions can be delivered to friends, relatives, business associates, politicians, intellectuals, universities, libraries -- or directly to you for personal distribution. The goal is to get the journal into the hands of active-minded people who might be moved by in-depth articles on important subjects from an Objectivist perspective. At $295, the Standard-Bearer is an inexpensive yet highly effective way to spread the ideas on which civilized society depends.

If you purchase a Standard-Bearer by July 15, we will send you your choice of either a 100% cotton polo shirt with The Objective Standard’s logo on the left breast -- or a 100% cotton T-shirt with our logo on the left breast and "The Rational Alternative to Liberalism and Conservatism" along with our URL on the back. [The polo shirt is available in Black, Wine, Navy, Natural, Sports Grey, and Putty. The T-shirt is available in Kelly Green, Red, Navy, White, Sports Grey, and Vegas Gold.]

Help fight for the future; become a Standard-Bearer today.


Craig Biddle
Editor and Publisher [minor format changes, link and image added]
One thing that immediately strikes me about this package is that it saves time. Those interested in providing gift subscriptions to university libraries, for example, now need not start a new subscription every single time they do this.

If you like Yogi Berra...

... read "Yogi's speech ain't over till it's over your head".

Heh. Who knew that Yogi Berra belonged to the Church of the Sub-Genius? (HT: Mom)

Thomas Sowell on Michael Nifong

I have not blogged the Duke Rape Fraud, but that doesn't mean I haven't been disgusted by it. Thomas Sowell says something that has needed to be said:
The sad and tragic fact is that the civil-rights movement, despite its honorable and courageous past, has over the years degenerated into a demagogic hustle, promoting the mindless racism they once fought against. [bold added]
The fact that the emphasis of the civil rights movement shifted from obtaining civil rights to demanding government favors for small ethnic collectives explains very much of this. The fundamental moral cause is that the bad premise of altruism drove out the good one of egoism.

But how did this bad philosophy gain political ascendancy? Because our government does not consistently defend property rights. This fact not only made this shift possible, it made it all but inevitable.

Were there no favors to pass out, the likes of Jesse Jackson quickly would go out of business for lack of a bill of goods to sell.

Easy Out?

An article at TCS Daily argues that new technology to make skin cells pluripotent (e.g., effectively turn them into stem cells) might make superstitious objections to stem cell research moot. It might, provided the Pope doesn't decide that the same treatment also imbues each cell with a soul or otherwise somehow constitutes "playing God". That remains to be seen.

What I find really interesting is the reaction to this news of some in stem cell research:
With an ethical solution looking quite plausible, the pressure will be on scientists to explain why therapeutic cloning deserves to be legalised and funded. Two years ago, Dr Janet D. Rowley, an Australian working in the US who is an implacable foe of the Bush Administration's policy, dismissed ethical solutions like Yamanaka's. "We have extremely limited research dollars, and to use them to study these alternatives is wrong," she declared. "That money should be available for actual research." But now stem cells derived from embryos are starting to look like dead-end "alternatives."
I haven't looked into this alternative technique deeply at all, but
no matter how you cut it, the adverse effects of government funding of science become apparent. If this new technique is a viable alternative, we have a cadre of scientists with a vested interest in diverting resources away from the study of this new technique. If not, many politicians will use the possibility of this technique becoming viable to rationalize their religious objections to existing stem cell research, making them feel justified in cutting off funding to it.

This question and the matter of allocating economic resources to the scientific techniques best-suited to fulfilling the promise of stem cell research would obviously be best left in the respective hands of (1) the scientists trained to evaluate the question and (2) the capitalists who produce the money needed for the research. Instead, we allow politicians, who know nothing and produce less, to determine the answers to both ends of the equation!

The Benevolent People Premise

Dan Edge has posted a very interesting discussion on a variant of what he calls the Malevolent Universe Premise:
Ayn Rand's "Benevolent Universe Premise" (referred to in various essays, letters, and journal entries) is her description of a rational man's fundamental psychological perspective on reality. Operating on this premise, one views the universe as a place where he can succeed and be happy. He has a generally positive attitude about life -- he expects to be happy. This does not mean that he is never sad or never experiences failure, but that he believes happiness and success are his natural state of being. He does not repress or ignore negative emotions, but neither does he dwell on them unnecessarily. He focuses on the positive.

Rand contrasts this perspective with the "Malevolent Universe Premise," in which one sees the universe as a place where failure and pain are the norm. One who holds this premise may live virtuously and enjoy continuing success in life, but he is always waiting for the other shoe to drop -- he expects failure and unhappiness. When things are going his way, he begins to experience happiness anxiety. When something bad finally does happen, he feels miserable -- but justified.

For years, I have watched (mostly young) Objectivists struggle with a specific form of the Malevolent Universe Premise. I call it the "Malevolent People Premise." One with a Malevolent People Premise expects the worst out of each new person he meets. He realizes that everyone has the capacity to be rational, but he expects those he meets to be irrational. While he may develop relationships with new people who seem virtuous, he always expects to find faults, and he carefully scrutinizes new friends or lovers for any evidence of irrationality. When he discovers a flaw in the person, he feels betrayed and angry -- but justified.
Now, go over there and see how he applies the Benevolent Universe Premise to interpersonal relationships.

-- CAV


: (1) Minor edits. (2) Added link to TOS ad.


Jim May said...

The fundamental moral cause is that the bad premise of altruism drove out the good one of egoism.

That is the precise weakness in the Enlightenment politics of American liberalism, which enabled the Left to co-opt it in the late 1800's and slowly take it over from within, inverting it into its opposite.

What I find the most fascinating nowadays, is how people continuously fail to grasp it even as the evidence continues to mount that "liberal Left" is the most lethal oxymoron in political history. People do not grasp that the Left's ultimate end-of-road is the complete erasure of Enlightenment ideals from the culture, as if they never existed -- by discrediting them as thoroughly as possible. We will know they succeeded if Americans look at them and say "if that's the Enlightenment, then to hell with it!"

It gets even more interesting when one realizes that conservatism itself shares the exact same end-of-road, differing only in that where the Left is a creature of Kant, conservatism represents the pre-Kantian era of religious hostility to reason. It's no wonder that they willingly aid and abet the passing off of socialism as "liberalism"; they too wish to see the latter permanently discredited.

That is why the Right's adoption of the orphaned Enlightenment ideas, born of political expedient syncretism (thanks for that term, Gus!) cannot last. Eventually the religious Right will kick them to the curb, in the same manner and for the same reasons as the Left did.

That's the most important reason why Objectivists must keep even the most rational conservatives at arms length so long as they remain conservatives.

Gus Van Horn said...

Heh! Here's another term for you: I like to think of anyone dumb enough to ally himself with the religious right as a "battered wife of the religious right".

Monica said...

That's one sweet T shirt!

Gus Van Horn said...

You're right about that!

Haven't checked, but if TOS isn't selling them, it should. I'd happily pay to advertise for them!