Saturday, April 01, 2006

Welcome to the Second Carnival of the Objectivists!

Welcome! I'm Nicholas Provenzo, founder and chairman of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism and I'd like to welcome you to the second edition of the Carnival of the Objectivists.

Today is an exciting day for us here at the Center, for we are proud to announce the addition of a yacht to our arsenal of capitalist communication tools. Now, along with the Center's monster truck and conversion van, we will be able to use our new yacht to spread the Center's message of individualism and freedom, especially to the littoral portions of the globe. Whohoo!!

::Monument Light

Art historian Lee Sandstead strikes a provocative pose as he contemplates his muse in a interview at his website, Monument Light (with a little help from yours truly on the Q&A). While soaking up a few days of R&R at the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism's Northern Virginia spa and resort facilities, Lee was looking at the photography in my fiancée's copy of Vanity Fair and was obviously inspired by the cover. I think it's great because the photo shows Lee's commitment to his own personal styleization--his process of bringing "the world of the art into the world of Lee." Our benefit is that we get to come along for the ride.

Yet needless to say, Lee's photography and interview has generated a lot of controversy. I was stunned by some of the venom heaped upon Lee at this photographer's forum. That said, nothing can take away from great anecdotes such as this one, where Lee recalls the day he left his college journalism program to pursue art history:

I was sitting in class, and the graduate journalism professor was saying how there was no such thing as ethics, no absolutes, no truth, no "what," no "how," no "who"--no "why." And these are literally his words. He was literally standing there telling the journalism class that there was no such thing as truth! Well...already in love with art history...I stood up in the middle of class and stated: "Professor, I absolutely will never enter this room again as a journalism student--and that's the truth!" I walked out, and never returned.
Bravo! Count me as someone who is glad Lee took his stand.


Diana Hsieh drops yet another bomb on David Kelley, blasting away any claim to credibility that he may enjoy as even an "Objectivish" philosopher. Consider this gem from Diana:

Kelley's description of reason as a "help" to life is an illuminating abuse of language. Consider the meaning of the word "help." If A helps B, then A contributes something to an already-existing B. So if John helps Mary with her homework, that means that he offers her some assistance, not that he does it for her. In short, necessary conditions are not kinds of help. (The sarcastic exception -- as in "Oh, I guess it would help toast the bread if I actually plugged in the toaster" -- proves the rule.) So eyes are not a "help" to seeing: they make seeing possible. And reason is not a "help" to human life: it makes human life possible. Reason does not merely contribute some extra goodies to human life. Reason is not just one of many alternate means to human life. Rather, reason is the most fundamental and absolute requirement of human life. Kelley's tepid choice of words suggests a failure to grasp the true relationship between reason and life -- and his overall argument confirms that.
Utterly devastating analysis.

Diana also discuses her history with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, including their involvement with Kelly's Objectivist Center. Here she engages in some hard soul-searching:

While writing up the bulk of this history in the summer of 2004, I came to a hard judgment about myself: Over the course of far too many years, I defaulted on the task of morally judging Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, particularly Nathaniel. To be clear, the fundamental problem was not that my moral judgment was in error, nor that my method of moral judgment was flawed, but rather that I refrained from moral judgment. Here's what happened -- or rather, did not happen. I did not come to a clear and solid evaluation of the Brandens' actions and character based upon the evidence available to me. When the evidence seemed mixed and confused, I did not set myself the task of answering the critical questions, e.g. "Are the Brandens' trustworthy recorders of Ayn Rand's life?" and "Are their criticisms of Objectivism just?" and "Are the Brandens genuine allies of Objectivism?" Instead, my judgments tended to drift along in confusion, pushed here and there by the evidence close at hand. As a result, I passively absorbed a fairly positive view of both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, as well as a correspondingly negative view of Ayn Rand, from the culture of IOS/TOC. My negligence in this case resulted in substantial injustice, not just to Ayn Rand but also to all those who saw through the con game of the Brandens years ago.
Diana's chronicle is a remarkable telling of how an honest person recovers from an error in judgment. I consider this story an absolute must-read for its clarity, honesty and philosophic reasoning. I eagerly await the book that I hope Diana will one day write from this and the other articles she has posted on the subject of her transformation into an Objectivist.

::Gus Van Horn

Gus Van Horn goes after the new phenomena of "pro-nuclear greens" in this article which caught the attention of the good folks at I lift from Gus' own summary to describe his article here.

The greens support nuclear power for exactly the opposite reason they should. Falsely equating nuclear power plants with Chernobyl, they see them as potentially very dangerous to mere human beings, but since saving "the world" is their priority over man, another such disaster is no big deal to them.
That would be par for the course, and bravo to Gus for pointing it out.

::The Objective Standard

The Objective Standard has now freely released Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein's brilliant comparison of the "Just War" theory that dominates American military strategy with an egoistic defense of America. This article was one of the things that convinced me that the Intellectual Activist deserved to be take to task for its unjustifiably pro-Bush position. If you don't understand what I have been arguing about in my critique of TIA, read this article. If you don't get the picture then, I can't help you, nor anyone else.

::Cox and Forkum

Cox and Forkum strike with their usual eloquence, this time with the following take on Iran's nuclear ambitions:

::The Charlotte Capitalist

Andy Clarkson has a great post-event write-up of the NYU Objectivist Club’s free speech event, including local media coverage of the event.

::The Dougout

Keeping up with the free speech theme, Grant Jones says it will be cold day in Hawaii before he sets foot in a Borders bookstore because of its recent decision not to carry a magazine that featured the cartoons from the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.


In contrast to Grant Jones, Amit Ghate sides with Borders over its decision. Amit's key point:

But for those who still think Borders et al. are culpable, please remember that: the Danish cartoonists are still in hiding while those who place bounties on their heads are out in public (and surrounded by adulating mobs); Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to be guarded 24 hours a day, and is often moved to army barracks just to be kept safe; Theo Van Gogh is dead; Iran has very recently reconfirmed the Rushdie fatwa against all those who are involved in publishing his book, etc. etc. Yet no Western government takes the steps necessary to remove those threats. How can you fault Borders for acknowledging that fact and acting accordingly?
Here's how I see it: Borders should be called upon to press the government into doing its job. After all, Borders can afford a lobbyist (and I'm certainly available for the task).

Yet if Borders doesn't want to fight for its rights, I don't want to deal with them. You just can't run a bookstore and be ambivalent about freedom of speech.

::Armchair Intellectual

At the Armchair Intellectual, Gideon Reich Fisks a bizarre law review article that claims that

"[T]he moral values driving the Bush Administration's tax policy decisions reflect objectivist ethics, a form of atheism that exalts individual property rights over all other moral considerations."
Who knew? Needless to say, Gideon puts this author's claims in thier proper place


Sigh. Jennifer Snow sticks up for her hero (and he's not me).

So, Mr. Provenzo, Wakeland didn't accuse you (or anyone else) of treasonously supporting Islamists. Instead, he quite rightly observed that by favoring a pullout because the war isn't being fought strenuously enough, you're playing into the hands of those who would see a pullout, for any reason, under any circumstances, as a U.S. military defeat and be emboldened by yet another sign of the crumbling of the giant.
Not if we leveled Iran like it deserves to be leveled. And if Americans blanch at the thought of leveling an enemy for a righteous cause, than that's the intellectual battle we Objectivists need to fight, and fight without compromise. You don't win that battle by forgiving George Bush for his many failures.

But I don't post this to pick on Jennifer. There is a lot of honest confusion about this issue, and I hope that I can do my bit to help make the facts clearer in people's minds. That is the name of the game after all, isn't it?

::Alexander Marriott's Wit and Wisdom

Alexander Marriott takes a swing at the trials of dictators:

Whether one is dealing with the "Butcher of the Balkans," Saddam Hussein, Ceausescu, or Mussolini, everyone knows that these dictators are guilty of mass murder and the wholesale destruction of individual rights and lives. They are deserving only of death and the undying contempt of history. Anything else, particularly the years long spectacle of a trial where there is at least the theoretical possibility of their being set free and declared "innocent" is a horrific joke and slap in the face of those who suffered under tyranny and oppression.


American-in-spirit Martin Lindeskog recalls his one-man counter protest of the ant-war left in Sweden. Would someone please get this man a green card and bring him to America so he doesn't have to suffer these imbeciles any more.

::Daily Dose of Reason

Delivering his Daily Dose of Reason, Dr. Michael Hurd examines the recent controversy over immigration:
The answer is not open immigration, or a closed society. The answer is a free
society. A free society is one in which everyone is self-responsible. Being
self-responsible means you're free to make your own way, but you're also
responsible. It's the kind of society we would be if there were no massive
welfare state; no massive public education bureaucracy requiring endless
taxation to support it; no pressure group warfare in which some groups (for
racial or other reasons, never stated) could keep others out.

My solution is simple: pay your own way. If you do so, you're in.
Amen, brother.

::Mike's Eyes

Mike recently takes a stab at global warming's Chicken-Little's with the following lead in to an excellent article:

It's becoming more and more obvious that our government and our news media and most university intellectuals are determined to snowball the American people into a socialist state. The goal has been renamed from socialism and is now called "sustainable development." The political tool that will be used to get us there is global warming.
And our tool of self-defense will be Objectivism.

::Quent Cordair Fine Art

Dianne Durante is at it again, this time examining the power of still life panting at Quent Cordair's website.

A still life can present exquisite manmade objects, perfect natural objects, or an arrangement of objects that complement each other, making them a delight to the eye and a reminder of how much beauty the world offers.
And that is a lot of beauty.

::The Secular Foxhole

Blair reminds me why I will never be elected to political office in this post on America's utter distrust of atheists.

That said, outside of Objectivists, hell, even I distrust atheists. Being against something really doesn't establish what one is for, ala the case of Julia Sweeny, who became an atheist, only to decide that she hates Ayn Rand. Doh!

::Witch Doctor Repellent

Andrew Dalton has something he'd like to get off his chest:

I have a message to all of the actors, directors, writers, and artists who are constantly struggling for "relevancy" and "authenticity"; who are uncomfortable with characters who are larger than life; who worship "complexity" and "shades of gray." There's a whole separate profession where you can ignore man as the hero he can be, and instead worship the observed statistical average that can be found in our value-deprived culture. Hell, you'll still be able to cram your left-wing politics down people's throats and they might not even notice it.

It's called journalism.

::Truth, Justice, and the American Way

David Veksler marvels at the progress of cycling technology after being approached by someone who thought he was a pro-cyclist.

First, my bike cost $500, while pro bikes are up to $10,000. Second, the top cyclists in the world in 1980 could not get a bike like mine for any price. The world of cycling technology does not evolve as fast as say, computers, but thanks to global capitalism it does evolve, and over time, the difference is amazing.

Here's a website fit for the 4/1 world. I quote from the opening page:

Now that we have entered the 21st century and a new era of globalisation, it is important to remember the values of obedience, duty and sharing. Your political superiors at the European Commission are committed to enforcing these values, so that each European Nation State is subordinated economically and politically to the European continent as a whole, ensuring that productive European citizens exist for the sake of their unproductive European brothers. Gone are the days of independence, personal wealth creation and the pursuit of one's own happiness as the purpose of human existence, it is the welfare of the European continent as a whole that must be embraced as the highest moral duty of each European citizen if we are to achieve our great European vision.
LOL, (or is that crying?).


So there we have it, the Carnival of the Objectivists. Enjoy the links and have a great April Fools Day!

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