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Fall 2008 issue of The Objective Standard

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The Fall 2008 issue of the Objective Standard is coming soon, with a stellar lineup of articles that include:

McBama vs. America (accessible for free)

Craig Biddle

Surveys the promises of John McCain and Barack Obama, shows that these intentions are at odds with the American ideal of individual rights, demonstrates that the cause of such political aims is a particular moral philosophy (shared by McCain and Obama), and calls for Americans to repudiate that morality and to embrace instead a morality that supports the American ideal. Read the article.

The Resurgence of Big Government

Yaron Brook

Identifies the cause of America’s two-decade swing to the right, explains why this cause was philosophically insufficient to sustain the movement toward capitalism, and indicates what Americans must understand if we want to resume the trek toward freedom, armed with the means to sustain it. (Accessible online to subscribers beginning September 20.)

The Mystical Ethics of the New Atheists (accessible for free)

Alan Germani

Examines the moral ideas of Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins, exposes some curious truths about their ethics, and provides sound advice for theists and atheists alike who wish to discover and uphold a rational, secular morality. Read the article.

Mandatory Health Insurance: Wrong for Massachusetts, Wrong for America

Paul Hsieh

Identifies the theory behind the Massachusetts mandatory health insurance program, exposes the program as a fiasco, explains why the theory had to fail in practice, and sheds light on the only genuine, rights-respecting means to affordable, accessible health care for Americans. (Accessible online to subscribers beginning September 20.)

Deeper Than Kelo: The Roots of the Property Rights Crisis

Eric Daniels

Surveys the pivotal historic events that paved the way for today’s flagrant violations of property rights in America, documents the United States Supreme Court’s indifference to and complicity in the crimes in question, and indicates the solution to the crisis. (Accessible online to subscribers beginning September 20.)

The Menace of Pragmatism

Tara Smith

Examines the nature of this widely-accepted philosophy, identifies its remarkable "essence," surveys its disastrous implications, and provides pointers for effectively opposing this persistent philosophical problem. (Accessible online to subscribers beginning September 20.)

How the FDA Violates Rights and Hinders Health

Stella Daily

Surveys the history, nature, and consequences of this behemoth government agency; shows that it is impractical and immoral; and indicates how, in the absence of the FDA, the free market could provide the highest possible level of drug safety and efficacy. (Accessible online to subscribers beginning September 20.)

BOOK REVIEWS

Mugged by Reality: The Liberation of Iraq and the Failure of Good Intentions, by John Agresto

Elan Journo

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Eric Daniels

The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack, by Ronald Kessler

Joe Kroeger

The Tyranny of the Market: Why You Can’t Always Get What You Want, by Joel Waldfogel

Eric Daniels

First into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War, by George Weller

John David Lewis

http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/

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The Mystical Ethics of the New Atheists (accessible for free)

Alan Germani

Examines the moral ideas of Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins, exposes some curious truths about their ethics, and provides sound advice for theists and atheists alike who wish to discover and uphold a rational, secular morality. Read the article.

This is a really good article, and those who think that atheism implies rationality ought to take note.

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I read the New Atheism article yesterday. I've read Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett, and seen some of Harris's debates and speeches. The article does paint quite an accurate picture of their views. God is Not Great is still a good book for its analysis of various religions and their origins and incoherent beliefs (the part about Joseph Smith was interesting), but Hitchens ultimately falls into the trap of subjectivism when he attempts to construct his own approach to morality. Harris is great when he talks about the faults of religion, but then he too falls for the same subjectivity/innatism when he tells people that they just have to experience meditation firsthand to understand what it does...

When they stick to tearing down religion, these guys are great at what they do. But the article is right that they could only hope to be convincing if they replaced religion's morality with an objective foundation. This is where they fail.

Edited by brian0918
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The New Atheists article was great, and expressed my views on them quite accurately.

However, I still think people like Dawkins and Hitchens are good allies to have against Religion and strong-armed mysticism. Quite opposite to my view on the Religious, I think some of these guys would listen to reason if it was presented to them intelligently and coherently.

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They mention Borders and B&N, but it sounds like it's not a guarantee that they'll be sent to a given store.

I just checked both stores' websites, and I couldn't find the journal listed. I even narrowed down B&N's offerings by magazine, but I came up with nada.

HA! FWIW, Amazon has subscriptions!

http://www.amazon.com/Objective-Standard/d...2905&sr=8-1

Edited by tps_fan
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I didn't really enjoy the "McBama vs America" article. I found it to be bland, repetitive,weak and boring. I liked the Mussolini quote though, it's exactly like quotes you see coming from modern politicians.

Also, I have a problem with this little bit...

If enough Americans start now, by 2012 we may see presidential candidates begin to move in the direction of the American ideal. If, however, Americans fail to challenge the status quo, our future will be fraught with more McCains, more Obamas—and worse.

This November, I will skip what would be a meaningless trip to the voting booth and, instead, spend that time engaging in intellectual activism. I hope you will join me.

I think it's wrong to refrain from voting. The best way to not get anything done is to try, and at least you are trying with voting. You are showing what, if anything at all, you support or rally against. I think it's irresponsible not to vote unless you have some sort of valid excuse.

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Not voting is a much more powerful method if you show up at the polls, vote on other things, and deliberately do not vote for president. They cannot blame your non-vote on apathy then.

One thing I like about the Libertarians is their suggestion of putting None of The Above on the ballot. The problem is many of them get cute and decide if NOTA wins the office should be unfilled. Honestly, what would happen if the US had *no president* for four years? We'd have no constitutional way to defend ourselves from an invasion! Better is the suggestion that the election be held again with totally new candidates. Of course it would take a LONG time to cycle through all of the unacceptable clowns the major political parties would insist on putting forth. But even if NOTA votes are simply discarded, it's a useful precaution against voter fraud. A blank ballot, after all, could "helpfully" be completed by an election worker after the fact and no one would be the wiser. If NOTA were filled in he couldn't do that.

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Valid excuse~~> The two candidates are both evil, pro big-government and anti-liberty.

I'll second this. It was the point of the entire article, that fundamentally, McCain and Obama are indistinguishable. Voting really doesn't count for much in this election, and we aren't going to see a change in types of candidates until philosophical changes occur in the culture, hence his push for intellectual activism. The "I'll always vote" notion is intrinsicist in nature, because there are contexts when it's pointless or unadvisable.

From Ayn Rand Answers, pg. 69:

If the 1976 presidential election were between Carter and REagan, would you support Carter, on the basis of Reagan's antiabortion stance?

No, I would not vote. You should vote only so long as you think a candidate has more virtues than flaws. But if you regard both candidates as evil, do not choose a lesser evil. Simply don't vote. For instance, I abstained in 1952 and 1956; I didn't vote for Eisenhower or Stevenson.

Despite everything you hear to the contrary, abstaining--particularly by people who understand the issues--is a form of voting. You're choosing "none of the above." I could not vote for either Reagan or Carter. Mr. Ford's stand on abortion is a disgrace, though he has some redeeming qualities. But my tolerance is badly strained right now. Still, you have to vote for Ford because the opposition is hopeless. [PO6 76]

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I'll second this. It was the point of the entire article, that fundamentally, McCain and Obama are indistinguishable. Voting really doesn't count for much in this election, and we aren't going to see a change in types of candidates until philosophical changes occur in the culture, hence his push for intellectual activism. The "I'll always vote" notion is intrinsicist in nature, because there are contexts when it's pointless or unadvisable.

I read Craig Biddle's article as well - but I will vote for McCain - even though he and Obama are wrong on most everything, I find the idea of universal health very, very bad, and so am voting against it by voting for McCain. I also think voting for McCain is a slower race to total socialism, as opposed to Obama. Once universal health care is implemented in this country - it will hard to go back. Just look at Social Security.

I think what it boils down to is values. I value not having universal health care, and for myself, I find that not voting against Obama would go against my values. Even if McCain was also working hard to insist on universal healthcare, I cannot say for a certainity I would feel differently about this issue.

Here is another thing - people keep talking about pushing for intellectual activism. I agree that the Objectivist Intellectuals at ARI, The Objective Standard and many others are doing so. However, how many people ignore their local elections? Doesn't it make sense to at least show up to vote on issues locally even if you don't pick McCain or Obama (or one of the 3rd party candidates)? When I read Biddle's article, it sounded like he wasn't going to bother to vote on anything. I think that is a mistake - why throw out the baby with the bath water?

Also - regarding the comment "The "I'll always vote" notion is intrinsicist in nature, because there are contexts when it's pointless or unadvisable"; the same can be said for always voting only democratic or republican. I tire of reading articles from Objectivist thinkers that say "Vote Democrat!" or "Vote Republican!"; I would like to see more articles that talk about really looking at individual candidates.

Edited to add: And a vote for McCain/Palin could mean 4 more years of Tina Fey making cameos on Palin on SNL. SNL needs reform as much as the US goverment.....

Edited by SherryTX
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However, how many people ignore their local elections? Doesn't it make sense to at least show up to vote on issues locally even if you don't pick McCain or Obama (or one of the 3rd party candidates)? When I read Biddle's article, it sounded like he wasn't going to bother to vote on anything. I think that is a mistake - why throw out the baby with the bath water?

I agree. I am not going to vote for any of the Presidential candidates, but I will nevertheless show up and vote the down-ticket races, bond measures and initiatives. The latter can be quite important -- I don't think any Objectivist would suggest that a voter in Colorado this year should stay home instead of voting against the vile Amendment 48, for example. Or going back several years, I was proud to have voted for the successful California Civil Rights Initiative, which added a ban on racial preferences to the state constitution. I think there is an initiative in Massachusetts this year to repeal the state income tax; I'd vote for that as well.

More broadly, I think showing up and casting a partial or blank ballot sends a distinct message from not showing up at all. The latter says "I'm apathetic; I don't really care about politics." That doesn't describe me. I'm an intelligent, informed and engaged voter who has been presented with no acceptable choices. Showing up and voting a partial ballot is the way I choose to differentiate myself from the apathetic.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Since I've written about several related issues in great detail for well over the last 2 years, I'm not interested in reiterating the finer points of those arguments here. (As far as some of my various views are concerned, people can peruse my posts here on this forum, and/or they can check my blog which is linked in my profile.)

I will simply say that I consider Craig Biddle's article to not only be substandard (roughly along the lines that Mammon indicated) but that article does something of a disservice to readers who aren't particularly well-versed in the entire philosophy of Objectivism and how thoroughly integrated it is.

Simply put, I think that article of Biddle's was written based on non-essentials. He makes no mention of how religion is historically and hierarchically more profound than any form of Modernism. Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff spoke to this for decades, and frankly, they should be the first two Objectivists that any concerned person should consider as far as these related issues are concerned. Of course, there's also the matter of taking their ideas (let alone anyone's ideas) in proper context. For example, while the specific political issues as well as various political candidates have changed in popularity, the threat of religion has never substantially declined. I will leave it at that unless something in particular new arises.

(edited for spelling)

Edited by tps_fan
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  • 2 weeks later...
I didn't really enjoy the "McBama vs America" article. I found it to be bland, repetitive,weak and boring.

This is pretty amazing; I thought it was such a great article that I wanted to come here and recommend that people read it.

I thought it was refreshingly illuminating the way Biddle lays down the premise "What one advocates in the realm of political philosophy depends on what one regards as true in the realm of moral philosophy.", then proceeds to give examples in the areas of economic controls, health care, and national defense, and uses these to both demonstrate this premise and show that the two candidates are fundamentally indistinguishable.

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  • 1 month later...

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