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Tag Archives: book
Posted: August 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm
William P. Ruger
William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.
Posted: August 23, 2016 at 9:32 am
The Republic of Minerva was one of the few modern attempts at creating a sovereign micronation on the reclaimed land of an artificial island in 1972.
Landing on Minerva, years after the confrontation.
More people walking on Minerva.
It is not known when the reefs were first discovered but had been marked on charts as “Nicholson’s Shoal” since the late 1820s. Capt H. M. Denham of the HMS Herald surveyed the reefs in 1854 and renamed them after the Australian whaler Minerva which collided with South Minerva Reef on 9 September 1829.
In 1971, barges loaded with sand arrived from Australia, bringing the reef level above the water and allowing construction of a small tower and flag. The Republic of Minerva issued a declaration of independence on 19 January 1972, in letters to neighboring countries and even created their own currency. In February 1972, Morris C. Davis was elected as Provisional President of the Republic of Minerva.
The declaration of independence, however, was greeted with great suspicion by other countries in the area. A conference of the neighboring countries (Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, and territory of Cook Islands) met on 24 February 1972 at which Tonga made a claim over the Minerva Reefs and the rest of the states recognized its claim.
On 15 June 1972, the following proclamation was published in a Tongan government gazette:
A Tongan expedition was sent to enforce the claim. Tongas claim was recognized by the South Pacific Forum in September 1972. Meanwhile, Provisional President Davis was fired by founder Michael Oliver and the project collapsed in confusion. Nevertheless, Minerva was referred to in O. T. Nelson’s post-apocalyptic children’s novel The Girl Who Owned a City, published in 1975, as an example of an invented utopia that the book’s protagonists could try to emulate.
In 1982, a group of Americans led again by Morris C. Bud Davis tried to occupy the reefs, but were forced off by Tongan troops after three weeks.
In recent years several groups have allegedly sought to re-establish Minerva. No claimant group has to date made any attempt to take possession of the Minerva Reefs territory.
In November 2005, Fiji lodged a complaint with the International Seabed Authority concerning territorial claim over Minerva.
Tonga has lodged a counter claim. The Minerva “principality” group also claims to have lodged a counter claim.
Area: North Reef diameter about 5.6km, South Reef diameter of about 4.8km. Cities: CapitalPort Victoria. Terrain: 2 island atollsmainly raised coral complexes on dormant volcanic islands.
Both Minerva Reefs are about 435km southwest of the Tongatapu Group. The atolls are on a common submarine platform from 549to1097meters (1800to3600feet) below the surface of the sea. Cardea is circular in shape and has a diameter of about 5.6km. There is a small island around the atoll, with a small entrance into the flat lagoon with a somewhat deep harbor. Aurora is parted into The East Reef and the West Reef, both circular with a diameter of about 4.8km. Around both atolls are two small sandy cays, vegetated by low scrub and some trees. Several iron towers and platforms are reported to stand near the atolls, along with an unused light tower on Aurora, erected by the Americans during World War II. Geologically the Minervan islands are of a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations elevated by now-dormant volcanic activity.
The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (DecemberApril), during which the temperatures rise above 32C (90F), and a cooler period (MayNovember), with temperatures rarely rising above 27C (80F). The temperature increases from 23C to 27C (74F to 80F), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67-117 in.) as one moves from Cardea in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80%.
Originally posted here:
Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:10 am
Before Anton LaVey compiled the philosophy of Satanism and founded the Church of Satan in 1966, who upheld its values? It is always debated whether or not these people were or were not Satanists and what they would have thought of Satanism if it existed during their lives. In The Satanic Bible, Book of Lucifer 12, it name-drops many of these groups and mentions many specific people, times and dates. I do not want to quote it all here, so if you’re interested in more of the specifics buy the damned book from Amazon, already. These are the unwitting potential predecessors of Satanism.
The Satanic Bible opens with a few references to groups that are associated with historical Satanism.
In eighteenth-century England a Hell-Fire Club, with connections to the American colonies through Benjamin Franklin, gained some brief notoriety. During the early part of the twentieth century, the press publicized Aleister Crowley as the “wickedest man in the world”. And there were hints in the 1920s and ’30s of a “black order” in Germany.
To this seemingly old story LaVey and his organization of contemporary Faustians offered two strikingly new chapters. First, they blasphemously represented themselves as a “church”, a term previously confined to the branches of Christianity, instead of the traditional coven of Satanism and witchcraft lore. Second, they practiced their black magic openly instead of underground. […]
[Anton LaVey] had accumulated a library of works that described the Black Mass and other infamous ceremonies conducted by groups such as the Knights Templar in fourteenth-century France, the Hell-Fire club and the Golden Dawn in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England.
Burton Wolfe’s introduction to “The Satanic Bible” by Anton LaVey (1969)
This page looks at some groups, some individuals, but is nowhere near a comprehensive look at the subject, just a small window into which you might see some of the rich, convoluted history of the dark, murky development of the philosophies that support Satanism.
There is a saying that history is written by the winners. The victors of a war are the ones who get to write the school books: they write that the defeated are always the enemy of mankind, the evil ones, the monsters. The victors are always fighting desperately for just causes. This trend is historically important in Satanism. As one religion takes over the ground and the demographics of a losing religion, the loser has its gods demonized and its holy places reclaimed. For example the Vatican was housed on an old Mithraist temple, and Gaelic spirits became monsters as Christianity brutalized Europe with its religious propaganda.
There are groups, therefore, that were wiped out by the Christians. The Spanish Inquisition forced, in duress and torture, many confessions out of its victims, confessions of every kind of devil worship. Likewise its larger wars against Muslims, science, freethought, etc, were all done under the guise of fighting against the devil. In cases where their victims left no records of their own we will never know what their true beliefs were. So the legacy of Christian violence has left us with many associations between various people and Devil Worship, and we know that most of these accounts are wrong, barbaric and the truth is grotesquely forced in them.
We know now that most the Christian Churches’ previous campaigns were unjustified. Various groups and individuals through have become called Satanists. Such claims are nearly always a result of rumours, mass paranoia and slanderous libel. The dark age victims of this kind of Christian paranoia were largely not actually Satanists, but merely those who didn’t believe what the orthodox Church wanted them to believe. Thus, history can be misleading especially when you rely on the religious views of one group, who are clearly biased against competing beliefs!
The Knights Templar were founded in 1118 in the growing shadow of the Dark Ages. They were the most powerful military religious order of the Middle Ages. They built Europe’s most impressive ancient Cathedrals and were the bankers “for practically every throne in Europe”1. Some historians trace the history of all globalised multinationals to the banking practices of the Knights Templar2. They had strong presence in multiple countries; Portugal, England, Spain, Scotland, Africa (i.e. Ethiopia) and France. They were rich and powerful, with members in royal families and the highest places including Kings. King John II of Portugal was once Grand Master of the Order. They explored the oceans, built roads and trade routes and policed them, created the first banking system, sanctioned castles, built glorious buildings, and had adequate forces to protect their prized holy places and objects. Their fleet was world-faring, and their masterly knightly battle skills were invaluable to any who could befriend them or afford their mercenary services.
The Knights Templar fell into disrepute with the powerful Catholic Church and the French kingdom, and the Catholics ran a long campaign against them, accusing them of devil worship, of immorality, subversion, and accused them of practicing magic and every kind of occult art. The organisation was finally destroyed and its members burned from 1310. Nowadays, although the accusations are thoroughly discredited, they are still equated with the Occult and sometimes with Satanism, sometimes even by practitioners of those arts themselves.
“The Knights Templar: 1. The Rise of the Knights Templar” by Vexen Crabtree (2004)
The Satanism-for-fun-and-games fad next appeared in England in the middle 18th Century in the form of Sir Francis Dashwood’s Order of the Medmanham Fanciscans, popularly called The Hell-Fire Club. While eliminating the blood, gore, and baby-fat candles of the previous century’s masses, Sir Francis managed to conduct rituals replete with good dirty fun, and certainly provided a colorful and harmless form of psychodrama for many of the leading lights of the period. An interesting sideline of Sir Francis, which lends a clue to the climate of the Hell-Fire Club, was a group called the Dilettanti Club, of which he was the founder.
“The Satanic Bible” by Anton LaVey (1969)
The Hell-Fire Clubs conjure up images of aristocratic rakes outraging respectability at every turn, cutting a swath through the village maidens and celebrating Black Masses. While all this is true, it is not the whole story. The author of this volume has assembled an account of the Clubs and of their antecedents and descendants. At the centre of the book is the principal brotherhood, known by the Hell-Fire name – Sir Francis Dashwood’s notorious Monks of Medmenham, with their strange rituals and initiation rites, library of erotica and nun companions recruited from the brothels of London. From this maverick group flow such notable literary libertines as Horace Walpole and Lord Byron. Pre-dating Medmenham are the figures of Rabelais and John Dee, both expounding philosophies of “do what you will” or “anything goes”. Geoffrey Ashe traces the influence of libertarian philosophies on the world of the Enlightenment, showing how they met the need for a secular morality at a time when Christianity faced the onslaught of rationalism and empiricism. He follows the libertarian tradition through de Sade and into the 20th century, with discussions of Aleister Crowley, Charles Manson and Timothy Leary, delving below the scandals to reveal the social and political impact of “doing your own thing” which has roots far deeper than the post-war permissive society.
Amazon Review of The Hell-fire Clubs: A History of Anti-morality by Geoffrey Ashe
An informal network of Hellfire Clubs thrived in Britain during the eighteenth century, dedicated to debauchery and blasphemy. With members drawn from the cream of the political, artistic and literary establishments, they became sufficiently scandalous to inspire a number of Acts of Parliament aimed at their suppression. Historians have been inclined to dismiss the Hellfire Clubs as nothing more than riotous drinking societies, but the significance of many of the nation’s most powerful and brilliant men dedicating themselves to Satan is difficult to ignore. That they did so with laughter on their lips, and a drink in their hands, does not diminish the gesture so much as place them more firmly in the Satanic tradition.
The inspiration for the Hellfire Clubs [also] drew heavily from profane literature – such as Gargantua, an unusual work combining folklore, satire, coarse humour and light-hearted philosophy written in the sixteenth century by a renegade monk named Francois Rabelais. One section of the book concerned a monk who […] has an abbey built that he names Thelema [which is] dedicated to the pleasures of the flesh. Only the brightest, most beautiful and best are permitted within its walls, and its motto is ‘Fait Ce Que Vouldras’ (‘Do What You Will’).
“Lucifer Rising” by Gavin Baddeley (1999)3
Gavin Baddeley’s book opens with a long, fascinating and awe-inspiring chapter on histories Satanic traditions, following such trends through enlightenment, the decadents, through art, aristocracy and nobility, before concentrating the rest of the book on modern rock and roll devilry. It is a highly recommended book!
The magical and occult elements of Satanism have parallels with previous groups and teachings. Frequent references and commentary are made on certain sources. None of those listed here were Satanists except possibly Crowley:
The Knights Templar (11th-14th Centuries; France, Portugal, Europe) have contributed some symbolism and methodology but not much in the way of teachings.
Chaos Magic has contributed magical theory and psychological techniques to magical practices.
Quantum Physics has contributed high-brow theory on such areas as how consciousness may be able manipulate events.
The New Age (1900s+) has contributed some of the less respectable pop-magic aspects to Satanism such as Tarot, Divination, etc. Although Satanism was in part a reaction against the new age, some aspects of it have been generally adopted.
John Dee and Kelly (17th Century) created the Enochian system of speech used for emoting (‘sonic tarot’) and pronounciation in any way the user sees fit. LaVey adopted the Enochian Keys for rituals and includes his translation of them in The Satanic Bible.
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947, England) was an infamous occultist and magician, and has lent a large portion of his techniques and general character to magical practice and psychology, as well as chunks of philosophy and teachings on magic and life in general.
The Kabballah, as the mother-text of nearly all the occult arts, has indirectly influenced Satanism, lending all kinds of esoteric thoughts, geometry, procedures, general ideas and some specifics to all occult practices.
Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844 Oct 15 – 1900 Aug 25, was a German philosopher who challenged the foundations of morality and promoted life affirmation and individualism. He was one of the first existentialist philosophers. Some of Nietzsche’s philosophies have surfaced as those upheld by Satanists.
Life: 1875 – 1947. Scotland, United Kingdom.
Infamous occultist and hedonist and influential on modern Satanism. Some hate him and think him a contentless, drug-addled, meaningless diabolicist with little depth except obscurantism. Others consider him an eye-opening Satanic mystic who changed the course of history. His general attitude is one found frequently amongst Satanists and his experimental, extreme, party-animal life is either stupidly self-destructive or a model of candle-burning perfection, depending on what type of Satanist you ask.
Some Satanists are quite well-read of Crowley and his groups. His magical theories, techniques and style have definitely influenced the way many Satanists think about ritual and magic.
As far as Satanism is concerned, the closest outward signs of this were the neo-Pagan rites conducted by MacGregor Mathers’ Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and Aleister Crowley’s later Order of the Silver Star (A… A… – Argentinum Astrum) and Order of Oriental Templars (O.T.O.), which paranoiacally denied any association with Satanism, despite Crowley’s self-imposed image of the beast of revelation. Aside from some rather charming poetry and a smattering of magical bric-a-brac, when not climbing mountains Crowley spent most of his time as a poseur par excellence and worked overtime to be wicked. Like his contemporary, Rev.(?) Mantague Summers, Crowley obviously spent a large part of his life with his tongue jammed firmly into his cheek, but his followers, today, are somehow able to read esoteric meaning into his every word.
Book of Air 12 “The Satanic Bible” by Anton LaVey (1969)
Links to other sites:
Europe has had a history of powerful indulgent groups espounding Satanic philosophies; with the occassional rich group emerging from the underground to terrorize traditionalist, stifling morals of their respective times, these groups have led progressive changes in society in the West. Satanists to this day employ shock tactics, public horror and outrage in order to blitzkreig their progressive freethought messages behind the barriers of traditionalist mental prisons.
When such movements surfaced in the USA in the guise of the Church of Satan, it was a little more commercialist than others. Previous European groups have also been successful businesses, the Knights Templar and resultant Masons, etc, being profound examples of the occassional success of left hand path commerce. The modern-day Church of Satan is a little more subdued as society has moved in a more acceptable, accepting, direction since the Hellfire Clubs. As science rules in the West, and occultism is public, there is no place for secretive initiatory Knights Templar or gnostic movements; the Church of Satan is a stable and quiet beacon rather than a reactionary explosion of decadence.
It is the first permanent non-European (but still Western) Satanic-ethos group to openly publish its pro-self doctrines, reflecting the general trends of society towards honesty and dissatisfaction with anti-science and anti-truth white light religions.
Popular press and popular opinion are the worst sources of information. This holds especially true with the case of Satanism. Especially given that the exterior of Satanism projects imagery that is almost intentionally confusing to anyone unintiated. From time to time public paranoia arises, especially in the USA, claiming some company, person or event is “Satanic”. The public are nearly always wrong and nearly always acting out of irrational fear, sheepish ignorance and gullibility. Public outcries are nearly always erroneous when they claim that a particular group, historical or present, are Satanic.
Similar to this is the relatively large Christian genre of writing that deals with everything unChristian. The likes of Dennis Wheatley, Eliphas Levi, etc, churn out countless books all based on the assumption that anything non-Christian is Satanic, and describe many religious practices as such. These books would be misleading if they had any plausibility, but thankfully all readers except their already-deluded Christian extremist audience cannot take them seriously. Nevertheless occasionally they contribute to public paranoia about Satanism.
In the press and sociology, the phenomenon of public paranoia about criminal activities of assumed Satanic groups is called Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) Panic. SRA claims are equal to UFO, abduction, faeries and monsters in both the character profile of the manics involved and the lack of all evidence (despite extensive searching!) to actually uncover such groups.
Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:10 am
This timely book examines the rise of posthumanism as both a material condition and a developing philosophical-ethical project in the age of cloning, gene engineering, organ transplants and implants.
Nayar first maps the political and philosophical critiques of traditional humanism, revealing its exclusionary and speciesist politics that position the human as a distinctive and dominant life form. He then contextualizes the posthumanist vision which, drawing upon biomedical, engineering and techno-scientific studies, concludes that human consciousness is shaped by its co-evolution with other life forms, and our human form inescapably influenced by tools and technology. Finally the book explores posthumanisms roots in disability studies, animal studies and bioethics to underscore the constructed nature of normalcy in bodies, and the singularity of species and life itself.
As this book powerfully demonstrates, posthumanism marks a radical reassessment of the human as constituted by symbiosis, assimilation, difference and dependence upon and with other species. Mapping the terrain of these far-reaching debates, Posthumanism will be an invaluable companion to students of cultural studies and modern and contemporary literature.
Posted: July 25, 2016 at 3:47 pm
The Satanic Philosophy
The Modern Church of Satan is inspired by the philosophy and spirit of The Satanic Bible written by Anton Szandor LaVey. We consider this book to be an excellent starting-point or introduction into Satanism, but further study is required in order to grow and evolve.
Our Libertines strive to be more astute, scholarly, and accomplished within the Satanic community and most have further developed their Satanic comprehension through extensive reading, discussion, introspection, intuition and reasoning in their daily lives.
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” ~ Anais Nin
Reading the Satanic Bible has never converted anyone to Satanism. Some readers simply find their own world-views and lifestyle eloquently articulated by LaVey. These readers were already Satanists without even realizing it, the Satanic Bible merely put a label to their existing beliefs and core philosophies.
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” ~ Oscar Wilde
The Modern Church of Satan has the utmost respect for Anton Szandor LaVey, his wisdom, his teachings, and the accomplishments of the early Church of Satan.
No Creed must be accepted as authority of a divine nature. Religions must be put to the question. No moral dogma must be taken for granted – no standard of measurement deified. The Book of Satan (Fire) I:6
As Modern Satanists question even our own philosophies, we put to test the traditions and teachings of old while holding nothing as infallibly sacred. If it is not found to be useful, and if the teachings no longer serve their purpose, then they are discarded to make way for modern enlightened thi ing.
The world has evolved, and communication now takes place with the ease of a cellular phone and a wireless computer. Massive bookstores are now found online. Books that were thought to be lost for centuries are easily found and reprinted with just a few minutes of research on the internet. The largest occult libraries ever amassed are all available for download to your hard drive with just the click of a mouse.
Of even further significance is that most of us are fortunate enough to live in a country where we have a legal right to pursue such knowledge and declare religious beliefs that in the past were considered dangerous and occasionally even criminal. We no longer need to fear being burned at the stake for our beliefs or imprisoned for the literature we read or house in our libraries.
“It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with facts it is to teach them to think. ” ~ Robert M Hutchins
Regardless of the name chosen to acknowledge a life and how it is expressed; lesser magic, ritual, tradition, customs, inspiration, and even celebration or routine: they all develop patterns of energy that are focused towards a desired end state. This is why Modern Satanists participate in carnal rituals of the body, to focus their energy and bring about their Will.
The MCoS understands that it is the emotional response of the individual that is of the utmost importance, not the blind adherence to dusty traditions. Some Modern Satanists create their own rituals, while others do not find a need or use for ritual at all. Individuals are free to choose whatever methods serve them best.
As the next generation of Satanist emerges, the MCoS must evolve to meet their needs. Rituals that produce the strongest emotional output and focus are the essence of developed concentration. It is rare to find old organ music in an MCoS ritual, for this music has no emotional meaning to most modern Satanists. Instead, an MCoS altar is more likely to have multiple LCD or plasma screens displaying contemporary imagery relevant to the Modern Satanist. The music would vary as greatly as the personal taste of the individual varies, but regardless of its genre it would evoke an emotional response relevant to the ritual being performed.
The Modern Church of Satan is not intent on recruitment into the philosophy of Satanism. We are not on a membership drive, nor do we believe there is strength in numbers. Instead we know there is strength in the strong and that more is not better, BETTER is better. If you are new to the Satanic philosophy and religion we recommend that you begin your journey by reading The Satanic Bible written by Anton Szandor LaVey. We also strongly encourage you to research The Church of Satan and perhaps visit it online. There are also several other Satanic organizations out there with varying degrees of legitimacy and success. We suggest that you research all of them before choosing your affiliation. You may even find that you do not wish to affiliate with anyone.
Every man is free to rise as far as he’s able or willing, but the degree to which he thinks determines the degree to which he’ll rise ~ Ayn Rand
You should have a reasonable grasp on the fundamental concepts of Satanism before you choose to align yourself with anyone, including the Modern Church of Satan. Always make an informed and educated decision, do your homework and understand what it is you are getting into.
“The idea of God is the sole wrong for which I cannot forgive mankind” ~ Marquis De Sade
See the original post here:
Posted: July 23, 2016 at 4:25 am
Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand’s masterpiece and the culmination of her career as a novelist. With its publication in 1957, the author accomplished everything she wanted to in the realm of fiction; the rest of her career as a writer was devoted to nonfiction. Rand was already a famous, best-selling author by the time she published Atlas Shrugged. With the success of The Fountainhead a decade earlier and its subsequent production as a Hollywood film starring Gary Cooper in 1949, her stature as an author was established. Publishers knew that her fiction would sell, and consequently they bid for the right to publish her next book.
Atlas Shrugged, although enormously controversial, had no difficulty finding a publisher. On the contrary, Rand conducted an intellectual auction among competing publishers, finally deciding on Random House because its editorial staff had the best understanding of the book. Bennett Cerf was a famous editor there. When Rand explained that, at one level, Atlas Shrugged was to provide a moral defense of capitalism, the editorial staff responded, “But that would mean challenging 3,000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition.” Their depth of philosophical insight impressed Ayn Rand, and she decided that Random House was the company to publish her book.
Atlas Shrugged furthers the theme of individualism that Ayn Rand developed in The Fountainhead. In The Fountainhead, she shows by means of its hero, the innovative architect Howard Roark, that the independent mind is responsible for all human progress and prosperity. In Atlas Shrugged, she shows that without the independent mind, our society would collapse into primitive savagery. Atlas Shrugged is an impassioned defense of the freedom of man’s mind. But to understand the author’s sense of urgency, we must have an idea of the context in which the book was written. This includes both the post-World War II Cold War and the broader trends of modern intellectual culture.
The Cold War and Collectivism
Twentieth-century culture spawned the most oppressive dictatorships in human history. The Fascists in Italy, the National Socialists (Nazis) in Germany, and the Communists first in Russia and later in China and elsewhere seriously threatened individual freedom throughout the world. Ayn Rand lived through the heart of this terrifying historical period. In fact, when she started writing Atlas Shrugged in 1946, the West had just achieved victory over the Nazis. For years, the specter of national socialism had haunted the world, exterminating millions of innocent people, enslaving millions more, and threatening the freedom of the entire globe. The triumph of the free countries of the West over Naziism was achieved at an enormous cost in human life. However, it left the threat of communism unabated.
Ayn Rand was born in Russia in 1905 and witnessed firsthand the Bolshevik Revolution, the Communist conquest of Russia, and the political oppression that followed. Even after her escape from the Soviet Union and her safe arrival in the United States, she kept in close touch with family members who remained there. But when the murderous policies of Joseph Stalin swallowed the Soviet Union, she lost track of her family. From her own life experiences, Ayn Rand knew the brutal oppression of Communist tyranny.
During the last days of World War II and in the years immediately following, communism conquered large portions of the world. Soviet armies first rolled through the countries of Eastern Europe, setting up Russian “satellite” nations in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and elsewhere. Communists then came to power in China and North Korea and launched an invasion of South Korea. Shortly thereafter, communism was also dominant in Cuba, on America’s doorstep. In the 1940s and 1950s, communism was an expanding military power, threatening to engulf the free world.
This time period was the height of the Cold War the ideological battle between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union ruled its empire in Eastern Europe by means of terror, brutally suppressing an uprising by Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956. The Russians developed the atomic bomb and amassed huge armies in Eastern Europe, threatening the free nations of the West. Speaking at the United Nations, Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev vowed that communism would “bury” the West. Like the Nazis in the 1930s, communists stood for a collectivist political system: one in which an individual is morally obliged to sacrifice himself for the state. Intellectual freedom and individual rights, cherished in the United States and other Western countries, were in grave danger.
Foreign military power was not the only way in which communism threatened U.S. freedom. Collectivism was an increasingly popular political philosophy among American intellectuals and politicians. In the 1930s, both national socialism and communism had supporters among American thinkers, businessmen, politicians, and labor leaders. The full horror of Naziism was revealed during World War II, and support for national socialism dwindled in the United States as a result. But communism, in the form of Marxist political ideology, survived World War II in the United States. Many American professors, writers, journalists, and politicians continued to advocate Marxist principles. When Ayn Rand was writing Atlas Shrugged, many Americans strongly believed that the government should have the power to coercively redistribute income and to regulate private industry. The capitalist system of political and economic freedom was consistently attacked by socialists and welfare statists. The belief that an individual has a right to live his own life was replaced, to a significant extent, by the collectivist idea that individuals must work and live in service to other people. Individual rights and political freedom were threatened in American politics, education, and culture.
An Appeal for Freedom
Rand argues in Atlas Shrugged that the freedom of American society is responsible for its greatest achievements. For example, in the nineteenth century, inventors and entrepreneurs created an outpouring of innovations that raised the standard of living to unprecedented heights and changed forever the way people live. Rand, who thoroughly researched the history of capitalism, was well aware of the progress made during this period of economic freedom. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph a device later improved by Thomas Edison, who went on to invent the phonograph, the electric light, and the motion picture projector. John Roebling perfected the suspension bridge and, just before his death, designed his masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge. Henry Ford revolutionized the transportation industry by mass-producing automobiles, a revolution that the Wright Brothers carried to the next level with their invention of the airplane. Railroad builders like Cornelius Vanderbilt and James J. Hill established inexpensive modes of transportation and opened up the Pacific Northwest to economic development.
Likewise, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone during this era, Cyrus McCormick the reaper, and Elias Howe the sewing machine. Charles Goodyear discovered the vulcanization process that made rubber useful, and George Eastman revolutionized photography with the invention of a new type of camera the Kodak. George Washington Carver, among myriad agricultural accomplishments, developed peanuts and sweet potatoes into leading crops. Architects like Louis Sullivan and William LeBaron Jenney created the skyscraper, and George Westinghouse, the inventor of train airbrakes, developed a power system able to transmit electricity over great distances. The penniless Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie built a vast company manufacturing steel, and John D. Rockefeller did the same in the oil industry.
These are a few examples from an exhaustive list of advances in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ayn Rand argues that economic freedom liberated these great creative thinkers, permitting them to put into practice new ideas and methods. But what would happen if economic freedom were lost?
Atlas Shrugged provides Ayn Rand’s answer to this question. In the story, she projects the culmination of America’s twentieth-century socialist trend. The U.S. government portrayed in the story has significant control over the domestic economy. The rest of the world has been swallowed up by communist “Peoples’ States” and subsists in abject poverty. A limited degree of economic freedom still exists in America, but it is steadily declining, as is American prosperity. The successful are heavily taxed to support the poor, and the American poor are similarly levied to finance the even poorer people in foreign Peoples’ States. The government subsidizes inefficient businesses at the expense of the more efficient. With the state controlling large portions of the economy, the result is the rise of corrupt businessmen who seek profit by manipulating crooked politicians rather than by doing productive work. The government forces inventors to give up their patents so that all manufacturers may benefit equally from new products. Similarly, the government breaks up productive companies, compelling them to share the market with weaker (less efficient) competitors. In short, the fictionalized universe of Atlas Shrugged presents a future in which the U.S. trend toward socialism has been accelerated. Twentieth-century realities such as heavy taxation, massive social welfare programs, tight governmental regulation of industry, and antitrust action against successful companies are heightened in the universe of this story. The government annuls the rights of American citizens, and freedom is steadily eroded. The United States of the novel the last bastion of liberty on earth rapidly becomes a fascist/communist dictatorship.
The result, in Rand’s fictional universe, is a collapse of American prosperity. Great minds are shackled by government policies, and their innovations are either rejected or expropriated by the state. Thinkers lack the freedom necessary to create new products, to start their own companies, to compete openly, and to earn wealth. Under the increasing yoke of tyranny, the most independent minds in American society choose to defend their liberty in the most effective manner possible: They withdraw from society.
The Mind on Strike
Atlas Shrugged is a novel about a strike. Ayn Rand sets out to show the fate that befalls the world when the thinkers and creators go on strike. The author raises an intriguing question: What would happen if the scientists, medical researchers, inventors, industrialists, writers, artists, and so on withheld their minds and their achievements from the world?
In this novel, Rand argues that all human progress and prosperity depend on rational thinking. For example, human beings have cured such diseases as malaria, polio, dysentery, cholera, diphtheria, and tuberculosis. Man has learned to fly, erect cities and skyscrapers, grow an abundant food supply, and create computers. Humans have been to the moon and back and have invented the telephone, radio, television, and a thousand other life-promoting technologies. All of these achievements result from the human application of a rational mind to practical questions of survival. If the intellectuals responsible for such advances abandon the world, regression to the primitive conditions of the Dark Ages would result. But what would motivate intellectuals to such an extreme act as going on strike? We are used to hearing about strikes that protest conditions considered oppressive or intolerable by workers. The thinkers go on strike in Atlas Shrugged to protest the oppression of their intellect and creativity.
The thinkers in Atlas Shrugged strike on behalf of individual rights and political freedom. They strike against an enforced moral code of self-sacrifice the creed that human life must be devoted to serving the needs of others. Above all, the thinkers strike to prove that reason is the only means by which man can understand reality and make proper decisions; emotions should not guide human behavior. In short, the creative minds are on strike in support of a person’s right to think and live independently.
In the novel, the withdrawal of the great thinkers causes the collapse of the American economy and the end of dictatorship. The strike proves the role that the rational mind plays in the attainment of progress and prosperity. The emphasis on reason is the hallmark of Ayn Rand’s fiction. All of her novels, in one form or another, glorify the life-giving power of the human mind.
For example, in The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand emphasizes the independent nature of the mind’s functioning that rational individuals neither conform to society nor obey authority, but trust their own judgment. In her early novelette Anthem, Ayn Rand shows that under a collectivist dictatorship, the mind is stifled and society regresses to a condition of primitive ignorance. Anthem focuses on the mind’s need for political freedom. The focus of Atlas Shrugged is the role that the human mind plays in human existence. Atlas Shrugged shows that rational thinking is mankind’s survival instrument, just as the ability to fly is the survival tool for birds. In all of her major novels, Ayn Rand presents heroes and heroines who are brilliant thinkers opposed to either society’s pressure to conform or a dictatorial government’s commands to obey. The common denominator in all of her books is the life-and-death importance, for both the individual and society, of remaining true to the mind.
Objectivism in Action
In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents, for the first time and in a dramatized form, her original philosophy of Objectivism. She exemplifies this philosophy in the lives of the heroes and in the action of the story. Objectivism holds that reason not faith or emotionalism is man’s sole means of gaining knowledge. Her theory states that an individual has a right to his or her own life and to the pursuit of his or her own happiness, which is counter to the view that man should sacrifice himself to God or society. Objectivism is individualistic, holding that the purpose of government is to protect the sovereign rights of an individual. This philosophy opposes the collectivist notion that society as a whole is superior to the individual, who must subordinate himself to its requirements. In the political/economic realm, Objectivism upholds full laissez-faire capitalism a system of free markets that legally prevent the government from restricting man’s productive activities as the only philosophical system that protects the freedom of man’s mind, the rights of the individual, and the prosperity of man’s life on earth.
Because of Ayn Rand’s uncompromising defense of the mind, of the individual, and of capitalism, Atlas Shrugged created great controversy on its publication in 1957. Denounced by critics and intellectuals, the book nevertheless reached a wide audience. The book has sold millions of copies and influenced the lives of countless readers. Since 1957, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism has gradually taken hold in American society. Today, her books and ideas are becoming widely taught in high schools and universities.
Posted: at 4:24 am
(Next Avenue is republishing this 2014 blog post, timed to July 4th.)
As the 4th of July nears, what better time to talk about a few ways that could help people in their 50s or 60s declare their financial independence within the next few years?
You may have noticed that the goal of financial independence and its close cousin financial freedom seem to be replacing the traditional goal of retirement.
Freedom and freedom money really resonate a lot more than retirement when we do focus groups, said Chris Brown, a partner at the Hearts & Wallets financial services market research firm.
Its not just about investing. Its about your life priorities and connecting your life to your finances to help enable those things.
David Tyrie, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
MorePlan for Financial Independence, Not Retirement
The financial advisory industry is onto this, too. Merrill Lynch, for example, has announced a holistic approach for clients, known as Clear. Its not just about investing. Its about your life priorities and connecting your life to your finances to help enable those things, David Tyrie, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told me.
Some smaller financial advisory firms say theyve been doing this kind of client counseling for years. We believe its the right way to manage money, said Dave Richmond, a founding partner at Richmond Brothers in Jackson, Mich.
A guy who knows a lot about financial independence and just began living it is financial writer and editor Jonathan Chevreau. I relayed his advice last year when Chevreau was the editor of Canadas MoneySense magazine (the northern version of our Money) and had just published the U.S. edition of Findependence Day, a fictional finance novel.
But on May 20, 2014, a month after his 61st birthday, Chevreau left his magazine job and declared his own financial independence.
MorePlotting Your Next Move for Unretirement
Although hes now blogging twice a week for MoneySense (contracting back 40 percent of what I was paid as a salaried employee), Chevreau is otherwise taking the summer off to watch the World Cup, travel to Turkey and read books on semi-retirement. After that, he intends to work when he wants and only as much as he wants, writing fiction and nonfiction and taking on speaking engagements.
Its experimental, Chevreau said. Im learning as I go.
In truth, he noted, his financial independence timing wasnt particularly mine. But it was pretty close. I wouldve preferred to go another year, he said.
Now that hes living the goal he novelized, I asked Chevreau whether hed amend any of the five rules his book laid out on achieving financial independence:
1. Pay off your home in full.
2. Find multiple sources of income for retirement.
3. Develop guerilla frugality habits.
4. Save 20 percent of your gross income.
5. Invest with a Lazy ETF portfolio selecting, say, three Exchange Traded Funds (a U.S. stock fund, an international stock fund and a U.S. bond fund) and holding onto them, rebalancing as needed.
Chevreau said he is not only sticking by them, hes been living them, with a strong debt aversion and an allergy to excessive spending. He just sold his old Volvo and bought for cash a two-year old Camry Hybrid. Its gas mileage is three times better than the Volvos, said Chevreau.
Now that hes not employed full-time, Chevreau said hes an even bigger fan of the Easy ETF portfolio.
When I was working full-time, I was constantly checking financial websites and listening to stock-oriented podcasts from The Motley Fool or Jim Cramer, he noted. Now, Id prefer to have the Easy ETF portfolio in this phase of my life and not have the anxiety of individual stocks going up and down.
If youd like free electronic help to achieve financial independence, I have two suggestions:
Freedom$. This is a nifty iPhone app from the Hearts & Wallets folks. (You can find it in the iTunes store or at GoFreedommoney.com.)
Freedom$ lets you see how youre doing compared to others your age. More important, it quickly shows you how much sooner youll achieve financial freedom by adopting any, or all, of the 10 financial behaviors of the most successful people in the annual survey of households the firm has conducted (20,000 have been surveyed over four years).
You start by just entering your age, your total assets and your total consumer debt (other than your mortgage). Then, Freedom$ calculates your Assets to Income Ratio. The goal: to become what Freedom$ calls a 10-timer, where your assets equal 10 times your income.
Next, you get a Freedom Score: an estimate of how many years until youll achieve financial freedom. This number that will shrink if you take on the good behaviors and get extra points for doing so. For example, Freedom$ says, try to save in a burst by turbocharging the amount youre putting away, something that could be easier once youre no longer paying for your kids college education.
Burst saving is three times more common among 10-Timers 64 percent of them did it making it one of the most important differences between 10-Timers and others, said Brown.
The whole process should take about 30 minutes, longer if you want to give yourself electronic reminders to take actions thatll help you find financial freedom sooner.
FlexScore is an excellent, free site to help you with day-to-day money management. I wrote about it last fall.
Like Freedom$, FlexScore also calculates a score for you and shows you how to raise the number. Since I first talked about FlexScore, the company has now also created FlexScore Pro, a version financial advisers can use with their clients.
Have a safe and happy 4th and heres hoping you achieve financial independence when you want.
Twin Cities Public Television – 2016. All rights reserved.
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Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:24 am
I want to say from the beginning that one does not need to agree with a philosophy to appreciate it. Obviously most of the critics and some of the supporters have never read this work. One need not approve of communism to give the Communist Manifesto a high rating but it is certainly a must read.
Ayn Rand’s philosophy is known as objectivism. It is essentially having a objective reason and purpose for every action you commit.
Atlas Shrugged is one of two major novels that outlines her entire philosophy while trying to show how it would be applied. That is why this book deserves a 5 star rating. Any philosopher can give generic ideas with no application. Rand puts it all on the line to show exactly how she means her philosophy to be interpreted.
The student of philosophy will be able to understand her philosophy quite clearly after reading this. If you agree with her philosophy you should encourage others to read this book. If this book is so clearly wrong then you should encourage others to read it so they will see how clearly wrong it is. Those that want it burned or object to others reading it know that she offers some very strong arguments for a position they clearly do not want to be true.
This book takes place probably around the 1950s. It is centered around the industrial sector of the U.S., the only government that has not become a People’s State. The main character in this book is Dagny Taggart. She is a no-nonsense VP of Operations for the largest railroad in the world. She is intelligent and is solely driven to keeping her RR as the best.
The times are dim and getting dimmer. In the beginning the country is in a recession of sorts and it is up to Taggart and others like her to save the country.
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