Hazony presents a conception of nationalism with soft edges, one that is supposedly compatible with some measure of liberty. And therein lies part of the book’s danger. It is calm, erudite, and theory-heavy. The book attempts to provide a serious, intellectual case for embracing nationalism.
Hazony repudiates the Enlightenment view of individuals as sovereign and capable of using reason to attain truths about the world.
What really happens in societies where reason and individual rights are dropped out of the picture, where each tribe/nation is left to do its own thing? At least two things are clear: First, such societies are highly tribal. People define themselves primarily, if not exclusively, by their tribal or racial identity, while viewing outsiders as less-than-human, because they were born to the “wrong” tribe/race. Second, and crucially, the door is left wide open for disagreements and enmities to be resolved through brutality, not persuasion, because outsiders are seen as innately inferior, wrong, unreachable. For example, consider the tribal wars that have decimated Africa. A notorious example is Rwanda’s tribal war in 1994, which claimed upwards of 800,000 lives. Or look at the repeated eruption of tribal/nationalist wars in the Balkans. There, during the early 1990s, we witnessed the return of “ethnic cleansing” and concentration camps. These are manifestations of tribal/national groups jockeying for collective self-determination.
To unpack Hazony’s argument is to see that his conception of nationalism is fundamentally opposed to the ideal of freedom.”
In today’s age of a return to nationalism, Journo’s insightful analysis is a must-read.
Visiting and making new friends is a top value. I gained the highest value at OCON Cleveland in the lessons on bacteriophages (with a nod to Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis), PrEP, the scourge of mosquitos, CAR-T, Rachel Carson and CRISPR by the brilliant if breathless Dr. Amesh Adalja — behaviorism and Ivan Pavlov — Christianity’s dubious origins — interesting advice with cogent thoughts on Bob Dylan and criticism of being “inquisitorial” within the context of what the speaker calls personal, as against optional, values — and a lecture on Aristotle with insight into Rand’s thoughts on his philosophy of art.
Though I was unable to attend several major lectures and courses, I enjoyed Shoshana Milgram’s newest work on the splendor of Victor Hugo and I would’ve liked to have seen Dr. Milgram, an English literature professor and Rand’s biographer, on the arts panels. My personal favorite presentation was Stephen Siek’s marvelous, two-part lecture about and biographical introduction to Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose struggle, work and life are as larger than life, passionate and inspiring as his music. This type of mini-course makes OCON uniquely enriching.
In the clip, from the Year 1 seminar on Objectivism, Onkar Ghate discusses what it means to be an Objectivist—whether it’s important to think of oneself as such, and what it takes to be an active-minded student of any philosophy.
The Objectivist Academic Center (OAC) is ARI’s premier intellectual training program, providing elite instruction in Objectivism and its applications, in how to communicate ideas, and—above all—in how to think philosophically.
“Ayn Rand’s heroic vision of man as a rational, noble, productive being has inspired millions of people. It can be difficult, though, to grasp just how her ideas, universal and abstract as they are, can serve as a practical and specific guide to everyday life.
“Keeping It Real: Bringing Ideas Down to Earth offers invaluable advice on how to apply broad philosophical principles to the real-world decisions we have to make every day. In this book, Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand’s longtime friend and heir, provides a wealth of practical counsel on personal relationships, child-rearing, career problems, politics, sex, and many other topics. His answers to hundreds of questions—taken from the first five years of his former podcast—highlight the importance of ensuring that the principles we claim to live by do not float in our minds as useless wordplay, but rather guide us in action toward our personal, selfish happiness here on earth.
“Keeping It Real also contains numerous anecdotes and insights pertaining to Ayn Rand herself, making it invaluable for those who want to learn more about her from today’s most knowledgeable source.”
Writes philosopher Greg Salmieri on the differences between Ayn Rand and Aristotle at Check Your Premises blog:
Rand is always focused on the individual human being, who has distinctive ideas and personal values that set him apart from others in his community and that may put him in conflict with them. She presents her moral philosophy in explicit contrast with moral codes that call for the individual to sacrifice his ideas and values to the demands of others. And, likewise, her political philosophy is formulated in explicit opposition to political philosophies that justify the sacrifice of individuals by the state. In this respect Rand has more in common with 19th Century individualists like Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche than she does with Aristotle. This individualism is also characteristic of the Romantic movement in literature, which Rand saw herself as a part of. All of these individualistic thinkers extol emotions (and/or will) as the seat of individuality, whereas Rand identifies a person first and foremost with his reason. In this she agrees with Aristotle, but her view of reason includes elements that were absent or under-emphasized in Aristotle.
Whereas Aristotle’s discussions of reason’s role in life are impersonal in character, Rand held that an individual’s reasoning is the source of the personal values (e.g. his love of his job or romantic partner) that make his life meaningful to him. This is because, in her view, reason is an attribute of the individual and it does not function automatically. Each individual must initiate and sustain reasoning by choice, and must learn how to discover knowledge and to choose values that are based on facts and integrate into a self-sustaining life. To function in this manner by choice is to be objectivein Rand’s sense of this term. I elaborated on this point in Chapter 6 of A Companion to Ayn Rand:
Only insofar as an individual chooses values in this way does he have a self‐interest at all. Values chosen subjectively, without regard for the requirements of human survival, will not form into a self‐sustaining whole; so rather than a coherent self‐interest that he can act to advance, the individual will have a motley assortment of conflicting desires. But neither can self-interest be intrinsic: there is an inexhaustible variety of possible combinations of values and activities that could cohere into a self‐sustaining human life, and there is nothing other than an individual’s choosing and pursuing one of these possibilities for himself that can make this particular life constitute his self‐interest and ultimate goal.
I have said this before in the sense that everything we get from nature comes in an inconvenient form: metals must be extracted from their ores; grain must be milled or threshed and the wheat separated from its chaff; crude oil must be refined into its constituent weights.
But the more philosophical point is that all resources are the product of the human mind. A “natural” resource is only a resource at all in the context of a particular technology. It is only a resource to someone who can look at it and understand its use and value. And it is only a resource to someone who has the technology and the capital to extract it from its environment and put it to that use.
You can see this in the stories of the early development of industries.
Before the oil industry, there were known places where oily sludge or tar would seep out of the ground; people might skim some of it off a pond to light a torch, but no one was drilling it and no one considered it “black gold”.
The Marquette Iron Range near Lake Superior, which disrupted compass readings and attracted lightning, was known to local Chippewa tribes only as the home of a thunder god, until miners arrived to prospect and extract the ore.
The Chinchas Islands off the coast of Peru, covered in seagull droppings, were for a time the most valuable real estate in the world, owing to the value of guano as fertilizer—but before that discovery I can only imagine that sailors literally steered clear of them, owing to the overpowering stench.
But you can see the principle perhaps most starkly in the stories of valuable resources that were once considered waste products of industrial processes.
Crawford then goes on to list and elaborate on resources that were once waste products: natural gas, portland cement and cast iron.
“A Little Candle” is a documentary about VanDamme Academy, a tiny school in Southern California with big ideas about education. If you are interested in learning more, go to www.alittlecandlemovie.com.
The Soho Forum hosted a debate about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and whether the Palestinian movement has a right to exist. Israeli author Elan Journo, the Ayn Rand Institute’s research director, debated U.S. Army Strategist Major Danny Sjursen at the Subculture Theater in New York City.
The debate vividly brought out an important contrast between my opponent’s approach to the issue and mine. In my own remarks, I highlighted my book’s distinctive approach to the conflict: a secular, individualist moral framework. I take the principle of individual freedom as a standard for evaluating the adversaries. Central to my view is that we must evaluate the nature of the Palestinian movement. The evidence shows that this movement is hostile to freedom; its main factions strive to establish militant authoritarian and theocratic regimes. To resolve the conflict, then, we must start by taking seriously this movement’s ideological aims. My opponent, by contrast, challenged the premise that there’s any coherence to the “Palestinian movement,” denied the importance of its ideological outlook, and urged a return to solutions that have demonstrably made matters worse.