SOLO

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THREE CHEERS FOR AUSTRALIA!!

Ciro D Agostino's picture
Submitted by Ciro D Agostino on Mon, 2006-02-20 22:26

FINALLY, SOMEONE GETS IT! CANBERRA AUSTRALIA:   Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.  A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown.
Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state and its laws were made by parliament.  "If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you," he said on national television.  "I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that is false.  If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option," Costello said.  Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country.

Recent Comments:
Get Out of Britain! — by Kenny on Mon, 2006-02-27 23:12

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The Future is Now: Heroes and Property Rights in the Final Frontier

jtgagnon's picture
Submitted by jtgagnon on Mon, 2006-02-20 18:29

On a crisp evening not long ago, I took a brisk walk through the park near my home. The sun’s radiance had long since faded giving way to far-reaching darkness, and the moon—understatedly luminous—had risen. As I strolled through the park, I observed a man in the distance standing rigidly, but with his head bent back at an awkward angle. He appeared to be transfixed by something overhead. Curiosity got the better of me and I approached him. When I asked what he saw, he replied simply: “The future.”

I didn’t understand what he meant at first. But then, I gazed up and witnessed the moon, the stars and the vast expanse of space. And, feeling a strange sense of exhilaration, I started to grasp the meaning of his statement.

Recent Comments:
This is very good. Thank — by John M Newnham on Wed, 2006-02-22 16:50
Very nice! — by Lindsay Perigo on Tue, 2006-02-21 01:34

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Heads-up to Multiculturalists: Time to Change your Mind.

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Mon, 2006-02-20 01:19

There is a widespread view that it is wrong to criticise another's culture, that all cultures are equally valid, and that to do crticise cultural practices or mores is insensitive, if not outright racist. This viewpoint, known as cultural relativism, is as widespread as it is wrong. As a view that purports to accurately describe the way the world is (rather than how we might wish it might be), recent events have made clear it is a viewpoint that is increasingly untenable. It is an idea in crisis.

Recent Comments:
Al-Jazeera WordCloud ... — by Duncan Bayne on Mon, 2006-02-20 21:48
Excellent article — by sanjay on Mon, 2006-02-20 19:33
I've said it before... — by jtgagnon on Mon, 2006-02-20 04:11

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A Quiet Contradiction

Senator Willcox L. CO's picture
Submitted by Senator Willcox... on Sat, 2006-02-18 06:44

In 1955 Graham Greene wrote perhaps his most famous novel: The Quiet American. (Yes, Greene was a Catholic and socialist, but bear with me.) It is the story of a very cynical English Journalist in Vietnam during the Viet-Minh-French war. The book is made up of his experiences concerning a very idealistic, innocent, and bloodstained American. The story is less important to my article though, than the idea of the Third Force.
The Third Force is a small army led by a General Thé, a man who supposedly finds the imperialist French and Communists evil. He leaves the French and takes those loyal to him to a Mountain stronghold to wage war on both the Viet-Minh and the French.

Recent Comments:
Follow Up — by Senator Willcox L. CO on Sun, 2006-02-19 00:42
'Senator', you described the — by Peter Cresswell on Sat, 2006-02-18 01:10

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Younkins on Hegel

seddon's picture
Submitted by seddon on Sat, 2006-02-18 03:04

Ed,

Thanks for your article on Hegel. Just a few thoughts.

1. “Kant thus proposed the paradox that the world consists of antinomies—contradictions that cannot be resolved.” But they can be resolved and Kant himself proposed the resolution. Hence the title of Section VI, in Book II, chapter II, to wit: “Transcendental Idealism as the Key to Solving the Cosmological Dialectic.” (i.e., antinomies).

2. “the State, . . . is an end in itself.” And yet Hegel can write, human beings “are ends in themselves—not merely formally, as is the world of other living beings, whose individual life is essentially subordinate to that of man and is properly used us as an instrument. Men, on the contrary, are ends in themselves in regard to the content of the end. This defines those elements which we demand to be exempt from the category of means: morality, ethics, religion. [Remember that for Hegel, religion is a primitive form of philosophy.] Man is an end in himself. (REASON IN HISTORY, 44-5)

Recent Comments:
Hegel — by Neil Parille on Sun, 2006-02-19 13:18

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God's Original Plan for Humanity

Ergo's picture
Submitted by Ergo on Fri, 2006-02-17 18:55

From: http://ergosum.blogspot.com/20...

Assume that the Genesis story in the Bible is true.
Therefore, God exists.

God created man in His image.
Then he created woman out of man.
Strangely, however, God commanded Adam and Eve to not eat the fruits of the tree of life and knowledge.
In other words, God made man and woman in His image except for the knowledge and immortal life part. So, “His image” is quite questionable as to what it means.
It is said in the book of Genesis that before eating of the forbidden fruit, man had no concept of sin or wrong or evil. It was after having eaten the fruit from the “Serpent” that sin entered into the world. Sin implies immorality – which also implies a possibility of morality.

Recent Comments:
'The Bible'...simplified — by Rowlf on Mon, 2006-04-17 02:35
The Origin & the last 2000 years — by CapitalismGear.com on Sat, 2006-02-18 04:58

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Linz Bows Out Of TOC Summer Seminar

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Wed, 2006-02-15 23:26

I have just now sent the following note to Ed Hudgins and Will Thomas, after receiving e-mails from them complaining that I had insulted TOC in my recent post here, quoted below at the end of my note.

Recent Comments:
Kenny ... — by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2006-02-20 18:41
Thank you — by sjw on Mon, 2006-02-20 16:53
Barbara Branden comments on PARC!! — by Kenny on Mon, 2006-02-20 12:52

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Lennox on Axioms

seddon's picture
Submitted by seddon on Tue, 2006-02-14 15:16

In this article I would like to raise five points about Jim Lennox’s paper, “Ayn Rand as Aristotelian: Axioms and their Validation,” which he delivered at the American Philosophical Association meeting in New York City on Dec. 29, 2005.

1. THE NECESSITY OF AXIOMS: On p. 3 of his paper Lennox quotes Rand approvingly, (All four speakers ALWAYS quote Rand approvingly) “But what will come out of this is an arrangement of the whole in a logical system, proceeding from a few axioms in a succession of logical theorems. The axioms will be necessary—even mathematics has them—[because sic.] you can’t build something on nothing. . . .(Harriman 1997, 72) Lennox then gives the “you can’t get something from nothing” argument. You need axioms because you can’t get something from nothing. But he gives no argument for identifying the “something” as “axioms.” He also gives no argument for equating a non-axiomatic foundation with nothing.


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Machan's Musings—Free Speech's "Least Attractive Practitioners"

removed's picture
Submitted by removed on Mon, 2006-02-13 22:01

Over the last several days I have been thinking and writing about the
furor surrounding the Danish cartoons that many Muslims have found so
offensive. I have noted that even if they are offensive and grievously
insulting, this doesn’t justify the sort of violence we have witnessed in
response to it often perpetrated against people who haven’t had anything
to do with the cartoons. Justice must be proportional—one doesn’t hit
another because one’s been insulted by him and certainly one doesn’t just
vent against innocent bystanders. At most insults may be met with
comparable insults and the targets must be those who issued the original

Recent Comments:
Another perspective — by sjw on Tue, 2006-02-14 18:40

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Beyond Emotion: The Gestalt Theory of Music

JoeM's picture
Submitted by JoeM on Mon, 2006-02-13 02:34
Recent Comments:
Jmaurone — by 0 on Sat, 2009-01-03 11:43
Correction — by Jmaurone on Fri, 2009-01-02 22:41

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parecon--have you heard of it?

dvo's picture
Submitted by dvo on Fri, 2006-02-10 13:38

Have you all heard of "parecon"? (Short for "participatory economics.") It seems to be a new variation on the idea of economic planning and socialism. The parecon homepage has a quote from Noam Chomsky endorsing it. Maybe it's catching on, because a friend of mine spontaneously told me about it a couple days ago.

Here are some quotes about it from Wikipedia:

"Promoters of participatory economics hold that it is inequitable, and also ineffective, to remunerate people on the basis of their birth or heredity, their property, or their innate intelligence. Therefore, participatory economics advocates as a primary principle reward for effort and sacrifice. Therefore someone who works in a mine — which is dangerous, uncomfortable, and confers no power whatsoever on the worker — would get a higher income than someone who works in an office the same time, thus allowing the miner to work less hours and the burden of highly dangerous and strenuous jobs to be shared among the populace."

Recent Comments:
Rehashing Is'nt Out- running — by Bikemessenger on Sat, 2006-02-11 08:45
Used to it? — by Charles Henrikson on Sat, 2006-02-11 06:40
This is just disgusting. — by Landon Erp on Sat, 2006-02-11 01:38

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Two ARI Talks - Bernstein on Capitalism and Binswanger on Immigration - at USC

AdamReed's picture
Submitted by AdamReed on Fri, 2006-02-10 08:15

I recently received the following announcement from David Gulbraa of ARI:

We wanted to alert you about two upcoming free live events at USC in Los
Angeles.

University of Southern California
Friday, February 17, 2006
Global Capitalism: The Solution to World Oppression and Poverty
Dr. Andrew Bernstein
SGM (Seeley G. Mudd) 123
6:30 PM, Doors open at 6:00 PM
This event is FREE to the public.

Description:
Capitalism is the system of individual rights. The enormous success of
capitalism in Asia in the 20th century's second half, and the beginning of its
positive impact in contemporary Latin America add to the evidence accumulated in


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Daily Linz 26—Death to Hate Speech Laws!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Fri, 2006-02-10 03:59

“It is not very inspiring to fight for the freedom of the purveyors of pornography or their customers. But in the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with the suppression of a given right’s least attractive practitioners. In this case, the disgusting nature of the practitioners makes it a good test of one’s loyalty to a principle.”

-—Ayn Rand, Censorship: Local and Express.

For “purveyors of pornography,” substitute “advocates of hate-killing.”

On Monday, I wrote “Death to Islam,” describing Islam as “murderous maggotry” and calling for a philosophical crusade by decent, rational men and women everywhere to shame it into oblivion.

Recent Comments:
It is war — by Richard Wiig on Sun, 2006-05-07 19:26
Commanding the Armed Forces — by AdamReed on Mon, 2006-02-13 05:33
I agree that FISA was set up — by wngreen on Mon, 2006-02-13 02:21

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Daily Linz 25—SOLO, TOC ... and KASS!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Thu, 2006-02-09 03:19

Note from Linz—Yes, I'm cheating. This is a reprise. I thought with all the discussion raging here about PARC, ARI, TOC, SOLO, the Brandens, etc., and the TOC Summer Seminar coming up, with me among the presenters, it would be timely to re-run this. It's reprinted exactly as it orginally appeared—no ARI-type airbrushing! Smiling

I have just returned to New Zealand from The Objectivist Center's Summer Seminar in Vancouver. I am feeling the blues that must inevitably accompany a return to the world of nihilism from one of exuberant rationality. Yes, "exuberant"! Yes, TOC! Just as you, dear reader, thought you'd never see me saying that, so too did I never think I'd be writing it. Fact is, the Seminar was a blast.

Recent Comments:
Kassless — by James Heaps-Nelson on Fri, 2006-02-10 18:24
Thanks for the thanks! :-) — by Lindsay Perigo on Fri, 2006-02-10 17:41
TOC, SOLO and KASS — by James Heaps-Nelson on Fri, 2006-02-10 15:15

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Beyond Emotion: The Cognitive Theory of Music

JoeM's picture
Submitted by JoeM on Thu, 2006-02-09 02:17

BEYOND EMOTION: THE COGNITIVE THEORY OF MUSIC
INTRODUCTION

By Joseph C. Maurone

Recent Comments:
Gestalt Theory — by JoeM on Tue, 2006-02-14 06:37
First time I've had a chance — by Landon Erp on Tue, 2006-02-14 01:59
Can't Wait — by James S. Valliant on Mon, 2006-02-13 16:17

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Man vs Tree

Jameson's picture
Submitted by Jameson on Wed, 2006-02-08 21:10

This whole George Bernard Shaw incident has exposed the worms gnawing into the pillars of life, liberty and private property.

When a man spends his life in work, converting his time and labour into material wealth, and the community declares that material to have cultural significance, the community appropriates his material, labour, time and ultimately part of his life.

That my community has deemed a tree's right to life to be more important than my own confirms the worst: this country has gone to the logs.

Glenn Jameson
Northcote Point


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Daily Linz 24 - It's the Integration, Stoopid!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Wed, 2006-02-08 03:52

“A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(Drunk, with their particular measurements omitted.”

–—Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

Somewhere in his prodigious output Leonard Peikoff tells a hypothetical story that is highly instructive. From memory, it goes like this: A group of men sit around and discuss whether it would be moral to rob a bank. The discussion rapidly degenerates into competing suggestions as to which bank might be the most practical to rob—which offers the most loot, the most lax security, the quickest escape route, etc.. The issue of whether they should or should not rob a bank becomes an issue of “Which bank are we talking about?” No one speaks up to say, “Wait a minute! We shouldn’t even be having this discussion. Robbing any bank would be wrong! It would represent the taking of other people’s property, without their permission, by force—force initiated by us. Initiating force is always wrong, if human life is our standard of right and wrong.” To say such a thing would require an ability to derive abstract principles from concrete life experiences and repair to those principles in evaluating possible future actions. It would require the identification of the same distinguishing characteristic in all the proposed robberies—initiated force—and their integration into the concept “wrong,” with a few narrower integrations along the way. Alas, people generally just don’t think that way any more. They don’t think in principles; they don’t integrate—the point of Peikoff’s story.

Recent Comments:
Thanks John — by Lanza Morio on Wed, 2006-03-01 07:25
Proposition Accepted — by Bikemessenger on Sat, 2006-02-11 10:20
Agree to Disagree... — by jtgagnon on Fri, 2006-02-10 18:11

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Daily Linz 23: Dining with the Enemy - Lunch with a Bishop!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Tue, 2006-02-07 05:50

Daily Linz 23: Dining with the Enemy - Lunch with a Bishop!

by Lindsay Perigo

One of the (mostly) nice things about being a broadcaster is that it enables one to rub shoulders with the rich, the famous, the powerful and the influential. One of the nice things about being an Objectivist broadcaster is that it enables one to judge them unawed by their status, unblinkered by conventional bromides.

Recently I had lunch with a bishop. A Catholic bishop. Not a small-fry New Zealand Catholic bishop, but a Catholic bishop from overseas. A bishop who, if he has anything to do with it, will end up a cardinal. “No one deserves a biretta [cardinal's red cap],” he observed as we dined. “Except me. I’m working on it.”

Recent Comments:
Out to lunch — by Lindsay Perigo on Wed, 2006-02-08 03:43
Ed, I think the official — by Ross Elliot on Tue, 2006-02-07 08:00
Out to lunch — by Ed on Tue, 2006-02-07 07:34

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When Passive Verbs Attack

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Mon, 2006-02-06 21:00

What's a passive verb? It's a way of writing that removes from what is written both writer and passion. Compare for example: 'You cannot do this' (active) with 'This cannot be done' (passive). Passive verbs are used to soften the sense of a phrase, and too often to camouflage an opinion as being the writer's own. It's a way of speaking for the speechless without appearing to.

Why does this matter? Well, how many times do you hear these phrases used like a stop sign:

It is considered that...


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Machan's Musings - Revisiting Objectivity

removed's picture
Submitted by removed on Fri, 2006-02-03 21:37

Revisiting Objectivity

Tibor R. Machan

In ordinary terms, to achieve objectivity one needs to check one's own
likes and dislikes and guard against their influence and also check for
influences coming from outside, such as flattery, on the psychological
front, or obstruction of visibility on the perceptual. To avoid bias one
needs discipline and self-understanding. If I know that I am partial to
those who are tall, blonde or athletic, while working as a teacher, juror
or judge, I need to make doubly sure that what I think of their
performance, the merit of their work or their legal status isn't based on

Recent Comments:
Clarification — by sjw on Tue, 2006-02-07 18:26
Shayne, — by Charles Henrikson on Tue, 2006-02-07 16:39
Clarification — by Wes on Tue, 2006-02-07 15:23

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Machan's Musings - Cultural Relativism and Freedom

removed's picture
Submitted by removed on Fri, 2006-02-03 20:13

Machan's Musings - Cultural Relativism and Freedom

Tibor R. Machan

In one area, classical and modern liberals have tended to agree, namely,
that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, expression, speech, and
so forth. Both types of liberals have been supporters of the spirit and
letter of the US Constitution’s First Amendment (although modern liberals
have been known to cave in when it comes to the demands of political
correctness). At least when it comes to political ideas, both groups
champion the position that people may not be censored and otherwise
intruded upon in their beliefs and in their efforts to express these


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Cue Card Libertarianism: 'No man is an island'

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Thu, 2006-02-02 22:36

No man is an island, says the poet... As for myself, I like to see myself as a sort of a peninsula -- with a good bar located near my connection with the mainland.

The thing with the 'no man is an island' argument is that those who normally use that line have a wrong idea about individualism. They have an idea that 'individualism' is some kind of 'atomistic individualism' -- another line frequently used. But a genuine individualism has no need to be 'atomistic'; one of the pleasures of life is interacting with others, enjoying the pleasure of their company (and their drinks cabinet), gaining knowledge from those who have it, and trading with others to help achieve our values. Life without other people would be a pretty miserable existence.

Recent Comments:
Thank Tibor — by Peter Cresswell on Thu, 2006-02-02 20:25
Terminology — by Kenny on Thu, 2006-02-02 17:44

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February Frolics - Monthly Update!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Wed, 2006-02-01 23:48

Two months on and things are shaping up nicely. SOLOPassion began without the advantage of incumbency, with a relocation that had to start from scratch. Duncan and Julian have done superlatively well in creating a new home for SOLO that, with ongoing tweakings, will more than hold its own against all-comers. Most importantly, the unique SOLO vision, articulated in the Credo remains intact—and as urgently salutary as ever. I never tire of quoting this crucial excerpt:

"SOLO seeks to galvanise all Objectivists who recognise that Objectivism is a tool for living, and who repudiate any reason/passion dichotomy. We seek to be a magnet and a home for those who are exuberantly rational and rationally exuberant, who aspire to the 'total passion for the total height,' intellectually and emotionally, simultaneously and harmoniously. We aspire to a culture of sincerity and integrity, where mind-games, deceit and posturing—and having to read between the lines—in one's dealings with others, are a thing of the past; where Shakespeare's 'This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. ...' is second nature. ... SOLO is for those who want reason and logic to be liberated from the Mr. Spock straitjacket and impregnated with KASS—'the kick-ass' factor."

Recent Comments:
By the way — by James Heaps-Nelson on Fri, 2006-02-03 17:24
By the way, — by Casey on Fri, 2006-02-03 15:17
Dylan Thomas poetry reading too — by James Heaps-Nelson on Fri, 2006-02-03 14:48

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The Eupopean Media defies Muslims

Derek McGovern's picture
Submitted by Derek McGovern on Wed, 2006-02-01 22:35

Now here's something you don't see every day: the European media refusing to pander to the demands of Muslims:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200...

First it was a Danish newspaper editor who outraged Muslims everywhere in September with his decision to publish 12 caricatures of the Prohet Muhammad (one of these has him telling Muslims that Paradise is running out of virgins for suicide bombers). According to the Associated Press, the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published the drawings as a challenge to "what it perceived was self-censorship among artists dealing with Islamic issues."

Recent Comments:
Apologies about the typos, — by Derek McGovern on Thu, 2006-02-02 11:32

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Machan's Musings - Wanting but Reproducing

removed's picture
Submitted by removed on Wed, 2006-02-01 21:43

Machan's Musings - Wanting but Reproducing

Tibor R. Machan

At the Dallas/Forth Worth Airport I had to wait for two ours to board my flight back home so I sat before a TV set beaming forth CNN’s various scary stories. (Even as the traffic there was quite calm, and even as my two days of lectures in New Orleans proceeded amidst a city now showing mostly evidence of human resilience, the “news” came to nothing but scary stories!)

Included in the bad news viewers were being offered there was story of a family’s financial struggles, one in which both parents worked, earning about $55k per year, voicing drawn out complaints about how strapped they are. They had children already, in their early thirties, plus “one on the way.” Which brought up the issue, at least for me, if they believe they are so strapped, what business do they have bringing yet another child into their home?


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Reprised—Betraying the self. Betraying a heroine.

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Wed, 2006-02-01 07:35

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? - Mark 8:36

What makes someone give up their soul? In the decade after the publication of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand was at the very top of her game and she began preparing another, final, novel, To Lorne Dieterling, in which she hoped to dramatise the answer to that very question. Unfortunately for all of the fans of Rand’s earlier novels, a real life drama got in the way.

Recent Comments:
PARC — by Brant Gaede on Sat, 2017-08-26 15:29
Filling in the blanks, laying it to rest — by Jmaurone on Thu, 2017-08-24 23:57
Neil — by gregster on Thu, 2017-08-24 08:22

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Frank Lloyd Wright: Sprawl Is Good

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Wed, 2006-02-01 00:55

"Urban sprawl is one of the greatest enemies of good urban design," say some. I don't agree. Lack of choice created by a lack of freedom is the greatest enemy -- 'sprawl' gives people choices: the alternative is mandatory slums. Frank Lloyd Wright's 1932 concept of the 'Broadacre City' -- while somewhat nebulous, and by no means a libertarian vision; it includes for example the idea of benevolent architectural dictators -- shows at least that sprawl is not the enemy. Lack of choice, and lack of imagination are. Wright's concept of the 'disappearing city' represented an abundance of choices of how to live.

"Wright's pattern is closer to today's sprawl than it is to a city, but it is not the same as today's sprawl."

There should be as many kinds of houses as there are kinds of people and as many differentiations as there are different individuals. A man who has individuality (and what man lacks it?) has a right to its expression in his own environment. Wright 1908

[The houses in Broadacre City] would be especially suited in plan and outline to the ground, where they would make more of gardens and fields and nearby woods than now, insuring perpetual unity in variety. Wright 1932, 8-9

Recent Comments:
Hi Peter,I'll try to — by Andrew Bissell on Wed, 2006-02-01 07:44
Pictures fixed — by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 22:34
Pictures — by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 21:27

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Cue Card Libertarianism - Harmony of interests

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 22:31

As I said here recently, no man is an island and neither should we be. In a free society, we each gain an incalculable boon from the existence of others. Just some of the benefits of living in a free society are the following:

  • the learning and knowledge we may glean from others -- being able to stand on the shoulders of geniuses underpins all subsequent scientific, technological and artistic advances;
  • the love, friendships and artistic gifts we may share with each other;
  • the 'seed capital' produced from prior production that may be made available to us for our own projects;
  • the abundance of wealth and technological progress made possible by capitalism which makes our existing lives happer, healthier and longer than they would otherwise be.

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Do you have a people?

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 22:27

Some people define themselves by what they call 'their people.' Do you have a people? 'Professional Maori' Willie Jackson says he's spent his life looking out for "his people" -- when resigning as a Labour MP Tariana Turia declared "it came down to a question of integrity and I had to act for my people" -- her present Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said in his maiden speech to parliament that "the hurt to my people" in being called "haters and wreckers" by [Prime Minister] Helen Clark was "very deep."

So Willie, Tariana and Pita seem to think they have 'a people,' and they're basing it on their race. They are making a virtue of their skin colour, about which they have no choice, but because of which they demand special 'race-based' favours. Such is the mistaken value of ethnicity:


ETHNICITY: The elevating of one’s racial identity and associated cultural traditions to a position of supreme importance – a racist version of collectivism, under-pinned by post-modernism in philosophy, and still very fashionable in academia.

How about you then? Do you have 'a people'? If so, on what basis do you decide who that 'people' is. Think about it for a minute, and while you do, let me ask you a question and offer you a proposition.


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Saving those whales with good hard sense

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 22:23

There's nothing like an argument about whales to make everyone lose their marbles.

One local blogger, for example, has posted various thoughts on morality and animal rights, and on her former membership of Greenpeace, and how that pertains to Greenpeace's opposition to the Japanese whalers presently in the South Seas. 'Go Greenpeace' she says:'Stop the hand-wringing and break out those guns.' (I paraphrase, of course) Unfortunately, she offers no argument for her position, just simple assertion and a quote from Jeremy Bentham, who was himself not even in favour of rights for human beings ("nonsense on stilts" is what the stupid man called the idea).

The simplest short explanation why animals don't have rights is that they don't understand them -- as PJ O'Rourke pointed out you can tell the lion all you like that it's wrong, but he's still going to rip the guts right out of Bambi. And what do you do when that happens? If Bambi has rights, then you have to throw the lion in jail And if animals really do have rights, what happens when you tuck into Daisy the cow? Should you get thrown in jail with the lion? Who's going to tell the lion about your rights?

Fact is, and much as we may wish it otherwise, rights pertain not to animals, but to species that use their conceptual faculty to produce and to plan long range, and who need the protection of law to do so. As far as is presently known, ours is the only species that does so; if whales or any other species want their rights recognised, then let them show up in court and argue for them. It's not like whales don't talk to each other enough -- all that bloody singing that they do all day.

No, much as we may wish it otherwise, animals have rights only by virtue of our ownership over them -- kill my cat and I'll see you in court (and probably outside as well). But kill a stray cat, and all we can do is judge you by what you've done. How we treat animals is one way to judge a person. And maybe, in all the moral indignation about the whales, we forget that New Zealanders ourselves aren't too bad at slaughtering animals for food (as I pointed out the other day). Writing in The Dominion however, former MP Stephen Franks reminds us:

We are lathered in moral indignation about whaling. Yet as a nation we live off the proceeds of slaughtering up to 40 million cuddly young animals a year. Japanese think lambs are impossibly cute.

The Green Party blob objects that Franks "has missed the point. New Zealand has a huge industry in farming sheep. As we all know sheep are generally bred for either their wool or their meat. They are not an endangered animal. Whales on the other hand are."

There are two responses to make here. Minke whales, which the Japanese are hunting, are not endangered. Numbers in the Southern Ocean are in dispute, and are probably not as many as the 760,000 claimed in 1990, but even if much less that is not the sort of order of magnitude one sees if a species is dying out.

But some whales are endangered. True. The second point to make is that perhaps if whales were farmed, they wouldn't be so endangered. I've mentioned this point here many times (just check out some of my posts on Conservation) but developing a property right in whales is perhaps the best way to ensure they don't die out. As a headline describing the work of conservationist and crocodile farmer Dr Graham Webb once summarised: "Eat Them. Skin Them. Save Them." Or, as you might say if you're a Kaikoura whale tourism operator, 'Watch Them, Photograph Them & Save Them.' Pay your money and make your choice, and all that's needed then is a legal and a technological breakthrough, and a change in attitude.

As I say above, there is no case for protection of animals on the basis of their rights, but there is a strong case to be made for the protection of animals based on human rights -- specifically on the real, human property rights of ownership. As Dr Graham Webb has long argued, "The proposition that wildlife conservation can sometimes be enhanced through allowing and even promoting the harvesting of wildlife is a sensitive issue," but it is a necessary one to consider.

There is a very good reason that cows and lambs are not endangered, but kiwis, kakapo and some species of whale are: the value of the former is recognised and protected in law, and that protection is in favour of those to whom the animals are a real tangible value, and who own them. The notion of the 'intrinsic value' of animals is not required since real value is protected, and the bogus notion of 'animal rights' is not needed as real, human property rights are protected. As that headline says, 'Eat Them, Skin Them, Save Them.'

Graham Webb's discussion of the proposition makes the point that recognising a property right in animals makes for 'sustainable conservation' [PDF download]:

...An increasing body of conservationists believe local people should not be treated as the enemy of conservation (Hutton and Dickson 2000). They should be active partners, at the frontline. To achieve and sustain this, they need to receive tangible, sustainable benefits for their efforts. In most cases, the only sustainable way of providing those benefits is through using wildlife for economic gain. That is, conservation through sustainable use (CSU).

Graham's own crocodile park outside Darwin is a great example of one way this can work. The private conservation projects here in NZ and the various Southern African private wildlife parks are other good examples of private 'sustainable conservation' that succeed by eschewing vague ideas of non-existent 'intrinsic values' or of animal rights or of simply wishing we'd all just be nice to God's creatures , and instead by answering the question, "Of value to whom, and for what?" and then proceeding to protect the property rights of those to whom there is a recognised right and a clear value.

And if it's just whales you want to protect, then Zen Tiger has yet another solution. Like Ruth, he's on the side of the whales too, only unlike Ruth he's come up with a viable plan: Eat more McDonalds:


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